For a long time I’ve been banging on about children with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) moving and fidgeting because they are ungrounded and the movement is their way of trying to rebalance – not intentionally be disruptive.
A recent study now shows that kids with ADHD must move to learn. At last we are all waking up to this – hurrah!
Many of us have felt this for a long time yet society has tried to control it with drugs or labelling them as disruptive. This research shows us that there is another way. Collectively we must wake up to this and see what these kids are teaching us!
So how can meditation help – surely that involves sitting still! (not initially)
My experience shows me that when we want to teach kids with ADHD meditation, we have to play to their strengths… we have to recognised where their energy is and if that energy involves movement then we need to bring this into meditation. Movement and meditation are not polar opposites – they are partners.
Ideas for moving meditations (aka mindful activities)
When adults learn meditation, they tend to do this sitting still (unless they take up yoga, though many adults don’t initially see yoga as a form of moving meditation – but it is).
If we apply the same mindful principles of noticing the breath, feeling the body, listening to sound and tuning into other senses, we can turn any activity into a mindful meditation.
- When kids run
- When kids walk
- When kids skip
- When kids do cartwheels!
All have the potential within them to be a mediation. How? Teaching kids to really notice their body before, during and after the movement. To feel the breath to hear the breath, to to see the breath.
Then we bring in more awareness with moving meditation like yoga, and tai chi. This takes them on the next step of helping them balance their energy. They move using yoga/tai chi poses yet they do this mindfully. The movement itself brings balance into their energy system as well as their body. It helps them ground their energy. And for me that’s the knub of it… they need help with their grounding. That’s why they move, they intrinsically know they need to move to feel balance. We need to guide them to do this more mindfully.
8 boys with ADHD learning meditation
I have a Connected Kids tutor who took on 8 boys with adhd – she taught them to do yoga then sit for a moment of stillness. There was resistance at first, there was disruption and difficulties, but she gently persisted. The had 2 classes a week. After a month worth of sessions, she explained that she could only offer them one session that week. The kids were disappointed, asking why they didn’t have 2 yoga and meditation sessions (by this time they were in the sitting/lying still for more than 10 minutes in meditation). For a kids with ADHD, this is nothing short of a miracle.
Feeling Calm increases Learning
The movement helps kids with ADHD feel calm and this reduces stress. We know from studies that when we are relaxed (eg not stressed) the brain finds it easier to learn and retain information. If kids are stressed, they don’t learn. Kind of makes common sense don’t you think?
Grounding and meditation tips
So here are some ideas on how to help kids ground their energy and learn meditation:
Moving – what movement do they have that they do repeatedly – bring mindfulness to it
Use energy techniques to help them feel more balanced like the cross crawl by Donna Eden.
Using colour that relates to the grounding nature of the root chakra
Working with weight and pressure and touch (sensing through the body using progressive muscle relaxation), using objects like stones or crystals having them hold or use sandbags on the lap if seated or across the hips if laying down.
Yoga moves – downward dog, the woodchopper (haaa) breath
Colouring in and Mandalas using the non-dominant and for self control.
Using the breath to get them into their body to notice where the tension sits.
Burrito rolls – basically swaddling them in blankets or yoga mats. Connected Kids tutor, Renee from Spirited Growth in Cincinnati, also has parents touch their children’s feet.
Kids with ADHD can do it…
Let’s work with their energy… let’s not try to crowbar them into how we want them to be… let’s teach them and guide them how they can be more balanced with the energy they have. Meditation isn’t a cure, it’s a way of helping our kids navigate life with what they have. Of reaching their potential. Of helping them shine. We (and more importantly they) can do this.
My 2nd book Connected Kids – help kids with special needs shine through mindful activities will be in paperback summer 2015 – join our mailing list to be kept informed.