Let’s face it, it’s not easy being a kid these days. There is pressure from every direction, expectations climbing higher all of the time. For younger children especially, they may not comprehend everything happening around them, but they take in all the feelings. Adults talk about emotional stress, world events, economic hardship, leaving kids with all of these emotions without necessarily a clear path to releasing them.
The meditation jar is meant to serve as a tool for coping as well as self-empowerment for kids. It is something that they can eventually do on their own, without needing adult assistance. This helps these little ones understand their feelings, recognizing they have control over their actions and emotions. This awareness of control is especially important for children, because often there is very little in their world that they can control.
We’ve used these in our house since my oldest was 2 (because when she was 2, we treated her like she was 5, as often happens to the firstborn…) And now, we actually do use with our 2 year old, as well as 5 and 7 year old. I have also brought this activity into classrooms as well as have used it when teaching yoga to little ones.
So, How Does It Work?
After assembling the mediation jar (instructions below), the idea is to keep it in an accessible place. When the child is angry or feels out of control, they are to reach for the jar and shake it up really hard.* The sparkles in the jar represent all of the emotions – fear, anger, frustration, disappointment, sadness, guilt. These “emotions” are swirling around and around.
At this point, the child closes his/her eyes and focuses on their breath. I like to use the extended exhale breath (simply doubling the exhale count for every inhale breath) for this one because it is quick to get started anywhere. ( See Calming Breathing Techniques for Children for more techniques). An alternative to closing eyes is to watch the sparkles as they float and slowly settle to the bottom.
By the time the “emotions” settle to the bottom of the jar, it has given the child some time to calm down. Of course, problems don’t magically go away by simply shaking a jar. However, the idea is to give some time in between the provoking event, the feelings and the reaction, empowering our little ones to regulate their emotional response.
I have used this jar on its own, with the simple little explanation I have provided here. Additionally, I have used it in conjunction with an age-appropriate story to help give a little more emphasis to the whole deal.
The cool thing is, even adults can use this, too! I’ve known a few grown-ups who keep a jar at their desk just in case…
*Understandably, you wouldn’t want to give an angry child a glass jar if they are prone to throwing things. Plastic may work best, or working with the child for the first few times until you feel comfortable with them participating in this activity on their own.
Making Your Own Meditation Jar
There are various recipes, so to speak, for a meditation jar. (Ironically) I am not a big recipe follower, so I have taken a combo of the recipes based on what I had on hand. There are directions in the back of Moody Cow Mediates (see Resources for Additional Reading below) for a non-glitter glue based jar.
This picture shows all of the possible supplies for different versions.
1 jar (Mason jar, sealable plastic container, baby food jar)
Glitter glue (or glitter as other recipes recommend)
Hot glue gun (optional)
Fill desired jar with warm water.
Add a tube (about 1-2 tablespoons depending on size of jar) of glitter glue to the warm water. This step helps the glue dissolve. You could always add more if you want more glitter. And who doesn’t want more glitter?? (…when it’s safely contained in a jar…)
Add a few drops of desired food coloring.
Seal lid of Mason jar on tightly and you should be good to go. If you are using a baby food jar or another type of container, hot glue or a strong sealant glue may be necessary. I used hot glue for the baby food jar in the photo.
**If using the directions from Moody Cow Meditates you will need glycerin, dish soap and plain glitter. It has a recipe that does not use glitter glue.
NOTE: The two larger jars in the photo are done using glitter glue, whereas the smaller baby food jar is done using regular glitter, glycerin and dish soap (recipe from Moody Cow Meditates).
Resources for Additional Reading:
Bubble Riding: A Relaxation Story by Lori Lite
I Believe in Me by Connie Bowen
Moody Cow Meditates by Kerry Lee MacLean
On My Way to a Happy Life by Deepak Chopra
Peaceful Piggy Mediation by Kerry Lee MacLean