Junior Magazine

February 2008

Junior Life

Every parent wants to know... How to have a chilled child

Give your child a calmer approach to life's little stresses with lessons in meditation

WHEN YOU THINK of meditation, you may hear the sounds of a sitar and have visions of an Indian ashram. But these days, it's a very different picture. Children as young as two-and-a-half can benefit from simple meditation techniques that help them feel calm and contented.

Sheema Parsons, Headteacher at St Mark's Nursery School in London's Primrose Hill, stomping ground of Sadie Frost, Kate Moss and a clutch of hip celeb parents, should know. She's been offering meditation classes at the nursery for years with children taught a modified version of transcendental meditation. Parents often join in with older children (up to six years) for a sitting meditation, while younger ones perform a walking one. And, for quiet thought-gathering moments, they listen to The Rain Melody - the recorded sounds of the rhythm of nature. It has a very calming effect on the children," says Sheema. It really helps them stop and reflect on the day's events."

But you don't have to attend a mind- and soul-centred nursery to pick up the good vibes. There are classes nationwide where children can learn to practise simple meditation-style techniques. Author and children's meditation teacher Marneta Viegas runs workshops for children using a range of visualisation techniques with magical storylines that include affirmations such as I give myself space to think and feel", or I am a star". "Children can easily grow up not knowing how to switch off," says Viegas. "They go to bed anxious, lose touch with their creative side, and find it hard to focus and concentrate. Simple relaxation meditation can help with this, and more. Physically, it soothes head or tummy aches; psychologically, it raises self-esteem through positive thinking." And learning these easy chill-out techniques at such a young age forms good habits that can be used throughout life to keep stress levels in check.

Relax Kids: The Wishing Star (O Books, 9.95) is one of Viegas's books, and it offers gentle imaginary visualisation stories that are perfect as a bedtime read, offering heart-glowing affirmations. With a little bit of luck, it will chill you out, too.