Headspace for kids

I’ve have had the free version of the Headspace app on my phone for about a year. I haven’t managed to establish a daily meditation habit but I I find it invaluable in moments of extra stress. Life with 3 young kids comes with plenty of stressful moments. When I read that Headspace had developed for children I was quite intrigued. Could my twins sit still for long enough to find some inner calm? Would some meditation skills help my daughter as she faces the coming years of SATs and secondary school.

My husband, on the other hand, thought it sounded ridiculous. There were mutterings about over anxious middle class parenting! Always happy to try out a new idea (especially if there is an opportunity to prove my husband wrong) I decided to give it a try.

How does Headspace for kids work?
You need an adult Headspace subscription to access the kids content. The annual cost of this is £59.99 with no extra cost for the children’s sessions.

Sessions are available for under 5s, age 6 to 8 and ages 9 to 12. There are sessions on:

  • Calm
  • Sleep
  • Focus
  • Kindness
  • Wake Up

For each topic there is a 2, 4 or 6 minute option.

What does each session involve?
The relaxing voice of Andy gives simple instructions guiding you to breath deeply and to imagine different images. The language is well tailored to children. For example you imagine breathing deeply so that your tummy blows up like a balloon. The sleep session gets you to imagine saying goodnight to your toes.

Does it work?
Quite late one Saturday night recently Sofia came into the living room a bit teary that she couldn’t get to sleep. She has often told me that she finds it hard to drop off. I thought using Headspace might help. Every night for about 3 weeks now I have done a Headspace session with Sofia. We do it right before she goes to sleep. It is proving to be such a peaceful way to end the day. We listen to either a calm or sleep session. After a few minutes of winding down we both feel quite sleepy. The only downside is that I have to try and wake myself up again so as not to be asleep at 8.00!

We have tried the kindness and wake up sessions too. The kindness session made us feel really happy. You are directed to think of a family member or friend that you would like to be happy and imagine doing something that would make them feel great. We both finished our 6 minutes smiling.

An interesting side effect of using Headspace is that it has opened up an opportunity to talk about mental health. It is so important that we talk about mental health in the same way as we discuss physical health. Sofia described doing our Headspace sessions as exercise for your brain.

Can under 5’s meditate?
My experience with Sam and Leo have been less successful. Sam was more intrigued and did a sleep session at the end of one day. Leo on the other hand took against having something different added to his bedtime routine. He also had a bit of a strop that the Ipad was being used for something other than watching youtube! I will leave it a little while and have another try to see if they take to it.

Would I recommend Headspace for kids?
I’m really enjoying using Headspace with my 8 year old. It is something that we can do together everyday. It is helping Sofia relax and get to sleep. For younger children I think it would depend on the temperament of your child as to whether they would take to the sessions. My hyperactive 4 year olds are just not ready for meditating.

I think the Headspace subscription is good value if you are also making use of the adult sessions yourself. I have been using the adult sessions more frequently now that I have got into the meditation habit with Sofia. If you are buying the subscription purely for the kids content I think it is a bit on the expensive side.  Headspace for kids is a simple and practical way to teach children to relax and focus. Vital skills for our increasing stressful world.

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