Meditation and mindfulness aren’t just for adults. Children also have many stressful things on their minds, and this can cause them anxiety, affect their concentration and interfere with sleep. while children can benefit(Opens in a new window) from the same tools as adults, they respond more easily when presented in an attractive and easy-to-understand way.
And one thing kids definitely understand is apps, which drive them to claim your phone. This makes the apps an ideal way to incorporate meditation and mindfulness into children’s lives. A study published in JMIR Pediatrics and Parenting(Opens in a new window) found that younger children use these apps primarily to help them sleep, while older children use them to reduce stress, depression and anxiety.
I have been using and evaluate meditation and mindfulness applications for more than a decade. When I looked for the equivalent for kids, I evaluated some of the more popular ones, looking for features that I find useful for myself but are aimed at kids. I also assessed how robust and useful their sleep and awareness content is, and how child-friendly they are, so kids can navigate it themselves. And I enlisted my seven-year-old niece to try out the apps and see them in action.
Below are the apps that made the cut. The benefits of using them will last far beyond the time your child spends with them.
Parents who already have one take it easy(Opens in a new window) The app can also find a lot for your kids. Browse the Calm Kids section for mindfulness programs, music, soundscapes and bedtime stories. Some of the content includes familiar faces such as Peppa Pig, Gabby from Gabby’s Dollhouse, Thomas & Friends and the Minions. Calm is available android(Opens in a new window) i iOS(Opens in a new window) for $14.99 per month, $69.99 per year, or $399.99 for life.
Headspace is one of the leading meditation apps for adults, but it also offers many features for children. The colors and illustrations used throughout are child-friendly, so kids can use the five cartoon-guided deep breathing exercises, and they’ll appreciate Star’s Mindful Activities section Wars Find Your Force. In a Sesame Street x Headspace collaboration, favorite characters teach them how to manage their emotions and settle them down for sleep.
Headspace groups the meditations by age, for those under five, six to eight and nine to 12. It also has a basic student section that is useful for middle school kids and older. Parents will be pleased to know that the app offers plenty of support, including meditations on how to deal with worry and feelings of frustration, as well as tips on how to help kids balance screen time, focus- and face your emotions. Headspace is $12.99 per month or $69.99 per year android(Opens in a new window) i iOS(Opens in a new window).
The big-eyed Moshi cartoon characters immediately tell you that the app is aimed at children aged two to eight. It has well organized day, game and night sections. Play includes coloring, puzzles and memory and matching games that can keep very young children calm and busy. The day is divided into Meditations, Moments, Music, Sounds, Breathing and Songs. The night includes Stories (single-serving bedtime stories arranged by theme and age), Series (series of stories based on characters and themes), Sleep Meditations, Music, Lullabies, and Sounds (including white noise and roses and soundscapes).
The app also offers helpful exercises designed to teach young children meditation techniques, as well as exercises aimed at relieving anxiety, calming down and boosting self-confidence. The ability to create custom playlists is useful for morning and bedtime routines. Moshi Kids is $12.99 per month or $79.99 per year, available at android(Opens in a new window) i iOS(Opens in a new window).
Despite the name, Ninja Focus isn’t all about focus – it’s a full-featured app for kids aged three to 12. Offers sections on Yoga, Mindfulness, Meditation, Sleep and Music. Kids who could use some words of encouragement can listen to Pep Talks (and the app includes some for parents, too).
A feature called Mood allows kids to choose their current mood and get content created specifically around that feeling. Those who are a little older can use features like journal prompts to explore their emotions. There is also help to fall asleep with music, background sounds and bedtime stories. A playlist feature allows parents or children to set up routines. Ninja Focus is available on android(Opens in a new window) i iOS(Opens in a new window); $9.99 per month or $59.99 per year.
Piku focuses exclusively on meditation. The app is divided into six categories: Magical Journey, Bedtime, Calm, Love and Kindness, Emotions and Focus. Even meditations that deal with larger themes, such as learning boundaries and overcoming shyness, are presented using likable characters as examples for children. The application is aimed at children aged three to 12 and is available at android(Opens in a new window) i iOS(Opens in a new window) for $4.99 per month or $39.99 per year.
Smiling Mind is the category of applications aimed at adults but can also be used by children. A Resilient Families: Kids section has lessons, activities, and meditations to help kids understand emotions, build relationships, develop confidence, increase their emotional intelligence, become flexible thinkers, and take responsibility for their emotional well-being and their actions. Smiling Mind also offers meditation, advice, activities and sleep support for children aged three to 18; which are found in the Children, Youth, Families and Classroom sections. Smiling Mind is the only app on this list that is free; is available at android(Opens in a new window) i iOS(Opens in a new window).
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