Guided meditation has so many benefits for kids. Using a meditation script is a relaxing and spacious way to encourage mindfulness with your child. From full body relaxation exercises to fun adventures like a magic carpet ride, your child will reap countless benefits from this special bonding time with you.
Meditation is one of the best mindfulness tools you can equip your child with. It helps kids on a big-picture level when it comes to managing stress and anxiety. And overall mindfulness can head off stress before it turns into a cortisol event (or an all-out tantrum for little ones).
Here we’ll cover the benefits of meditation, why guided meditation is a great starting point for kids, how to get started with meditation stories, and you can get 50+ free guided relaxation scripts to practice with your child.
Table of contents
What is Guided Meditation?
In guided meditation, rather than practicing in silence, one is led by another person’s voice. For instance, a parent can read a guided meditation for sleep script to their child before bedtime. Being guided can help the meditator focus, prevent their mind from wandering, and offer them an entirely new relaxation experience.
Nearly every religion (Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam, etc.) has a tradition of using meditative practices. Meditation has been used for thousands of years to help relieve stress, anxiety, and the feeling of being out of control or overwhelmed. It also helps improve self-awareness, empathy, and mindfulness.
You don’t need lots of experience—just focusing on your own out-breath from start to finish is a beginning. Feel the sound, the sensation. Trust your intuition for knowing what’s best for your child, and when you practice mediation together, that connection will grow stronger.Lorraine Murray, author of Calm Kids: Help Children Relax With Mindful Activities
During a meditation session, you may focus on breathing, noticing sensations in your body, relaxing, visualizing, and engaging your senses. This mind-body practice provides benefits that last far beyond the meditation session.
The Benefits of Guided Meditation for Kids
The benefits of meditation are numerous – both at home and in the classroom. And good habits early on can lead to a lifetime of well-being. Meditation can
- improve a child’s positive thinking, happiness, and empathy
- help reduce pain and headaches
- improve self esteem
- help children fall asleep faster, and improve sleep quality
- lower cortisol levels, resulting in decreased stress in the body
- help kids focus and concentrate – In a 2019 study, high school students who practiced meditation displayed better attention spans than students who didn’t.
- encourage the use of imagination during guided meditation and help them access their natural creativity both during and after the session
- connect kids with their own emotions as well as the emotions of others, leading to more compassion and a keen sense of emotional intelligence (source)
- improve active listening skills
Some studies have found that kids who are taught to improve their learning or thinking process early on are lifelong better learners and become more resilient.
A 2014 Journal of the American Medical Association Internal Medicine study reviewed mindfulness studies in relation to psychological stress and well-being. The analysis included 3,500 participants and compared mindfulness-based stress reduction, transcendental mediation, or mantra-based techniques, and tracked participants on a variety of outcomes — like anxiety, depression, and stress scores.
They found these practices moved the needle on anxiety and depressive symptoms to a degree “comparable with what would be expected from the use of an antidepressant in a primary care population.”
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “Guided imagery as a therapeutic intervention has been shown to have positive effects on psychological functioning, stress reduction, and pain management.”
The same extensive AAP study found:
Youth-adapted programs have been found to be beneficial in improving mental health symptoms, coping, and self-regulatory processes and decreasing blood pressure when used in both primary prevention, and treatment settings. In children 7 to 9 years of age, an RCT of school-based mindful awareness practice instruction versus a reading program revealed improvements in mindful awareness practice participants in executive function among children with lower executive function skills at baseline.
Using Guided Meditation for Kids
While sitting still in lotus pose for more than a few minutes might be challenging for an antsy child, they tend to love guided imagery and stories. They can take center stage in a self-esteem building adventure or relax into a deep breathing exercise.
A July 2021 study by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that elementary school kids who practiced some form of mindfulness training slept an average of 74 extra minutes a night.
Our guided meditation scripts for kids have been a much loved part of Green Child for 12 years now. These scripts help kids and teens to improve self-esteem, relieve stress and anxiety, find peace in the present moment, manage anger, and develop an overall positive mental attitude at school and at home.
Bedtime used to be a battle with our 5-year-old daughter. Since we tried the Lazy River meditation, she’s a completely different kid! Instead of getting hyper or negotiating her nightly routine, she’s calm and seems almost happy to go to bed now.Marisol R., parent
You can find our ever-growing library of guided meditation and guided imagery scripts for kids all in one place. These calming meditations are written exclusively for Green Child readers by Mellisa Dormoy of Shambala Kids. (They are not available for recording or republishing.)
When you subscribe below, you’ll get full access to the library where you can browse the topics to see which guided meditations will most benefit your child.
Choose a guided imagery script and read it to yourself to find the rhythm before you read it to your child. Once you’re ready and your child is relaxed, simply read in a calm voice, pausing to let the words and feelings sink in.
Links to Sample Meditation Scripts
Here you’ll find some examples of the different types of relaxation scripts you can choose from when you have access to the full library of 50+ scripts. (These links are to scripts that appear on our website. When you have the library (or guided meditation central, as some of our readers lovingly call it, you can print or read from your device with no ad breaks.)
Deep Breathing Meditation
Body Scan Meditation
Guided Chakra Meditation
Listening to Your Inner Voice
Big Emotions & the Beautiful Dragonfly
Thankful Turtle Gratitude Meditation
Meditation for Grief and Loss
Watch how your child relaxes and engages their imagination while they enjoy these calming scenes. The more often you read a relaxation script, the more easily your child will relax and concentrate.
Meditation works as a stress management tool by switching off the fight or flight response to stress and allowing the body to switch on the relaxation response. When children meditate, they become less reactive to stress.Dr. Alina Olteanu
How to Use a Guided Meditation Script with Your Child
Many parents use these scripts at bedtime to help their child fall asleep peacefully. We always get a few emails saying, “My kid was asleep before we even finished the breathing part!”
Other scripts are more suited to morning readings to help them start their day off calmly and confidently. As you browse through the library, you’ll get an idea of which ones are best for your child. Then…
- Choose a script. Read it to yourself first to find the rhythm.
- Make sure your child is comfortable, relaxed, and calm.
- Choose a time when you have your child’s attention and they are open to a new experience.
- Find a place free from distractions or loud noises.
- Read the script to your child in a calm, soothing voice, pausing often. Notice how your child relaxes and engages.
- If your child is still awake when you’ve finished, allow them to reflect and share their thoughts with you.
Children should not be forced to meditate, and if it seems your child isn’t in the right place to meditate at that time, you can move on to another activity and try again later, or on another day.
You may choose to begin with shorter meditation sessions and increase as their ability to focus and meditate grows.
Kids need the adults around them to behave in ways they can model, says Murray. Kids also need to hear and feel that their adults know them well enough to adapt meditation to their needs and preferences, which can change day to day.Lorraine Murray, author of Calm Kids: Help Children Relax With Mindful Activities
When can kids start meditating? Our own experience has shown that even toddlers can follow along a relaxing story or at least snuggle up and fall asleep to the sound of mom or dad reading a guided imagery script.
More formal studies show the magic age to be around four years old. By that time children are more aware of their own thought processes.
While a kid-friendly script and a cozy spot are all you really need, meditation toys can sometimes help remind and reinforce the lessons kids learn.
“It’s almost as though meditation was designed for kids,” says Headspace co-founder and former Buddhist monk Andy Puddicombe. “They just ‘get it’ – there is this elasticity and freedom in their minds which allows them to be present in the moment and free from any external thoughts or pressures. By introducing meditation and mindfulness at an early age, not only can we build on this and help nurture their mind development, but we are also making meditation simple and accessible.”
You know your child better than anyone. You can always try and if they aren’t receptive, let it go for now and try again in a few months.
Green Child Magazine’s guided relaxation scripts for kids are a great place to begin with your child. Parents praise them for helping calm and center their little ones, and some report that reading a meditation is the best way to get their child to fall asleep at night.
Teachers and therapist often share how these meditation stories have positively impacted their students and patients.
I am a therapist and needed to help a child suffering, and to do so quickly. I was able to pull up Peaceful Retreat. This precious boy had been suffering with a terrible weight, unable to focus on school, unable to sleep, he stated he was starting to ‘feel crazy’. His distress was big and painful. We used the meditation, and when he opened his eyes, he stretched, looked around, then looked me in the eye and said, ‘I feel so much better.’ His shoulders loosened and his facial muscles relaxed. To be able to pull that up free of charge, right from the web…it saved him and his family from hospitalization.Katherine W., Therapist & Social Worker
I’m using the meditation stories for students as part of our recovery program at school – a Catholic Secondary School in West Wales. We’ve introduced mindfulness breaks into all lessons to help prevent our pupils from stressing about how much classroom time they’ve missed and to break up hour-long lessons. Due to remote learning, concentrating for that length of time is something they haven’t had to do for months, and building in brain breaks is helping them and us to focus more intensely for shorter bursts. The breathing the colours into your heart meditation has worked a treat!Gary W., English, Music, & Drama teacher
Mindful meditation can give children the tools they need to recognize their own signals of stress and bring themselves back into balance. Children are curious and willing to try new things. Meditating with a wiggly pre-schooler may not look exactly as you envision, but your child will benefit, as will you!
This article was originally published in 2017 and was updated in October 2023.