FB

Teaching yoga to children can be a rewarding experience, offering them a foundation for physical health, emotional well-being, and mindfulness. However, managing a group of young children in a yoga class can also present unique challenges. One of the most common questions we receive after people get out into the world and start teaching is, “Do you have any behavior management tips?”

Our answer is a resounding, “Yes!” We have decades of experience sharing yoga with children and are here to help!

 

  1. Set Clear Expectations
    Begin each class by outlining the rules and expectations. Children thrive on structure, and knowing what is expected of them helps them feel secure and more likely to follow the guidelines.
    • Create a Routine: Establish a consistent class structure. Start with a breathing activity, followed by warm-up postures, then postures that support the class theme, followed by a cool-down/rest period.
    • Use Positive Language: Phrase rules positively. Instead of saying “Don’t talk during yoga,” say, “Let’s all use our quiet voices during yoga.”
    • Incorporate a Talking Stick: It doesn’t have to be a literal stick. Use any item that feels comfortable for the group you are with at the time. If we are working on taking turns or listening, the person holding the item has the opportunity to share while others practice patience.
  1. Make it Fun and Engaging
    A child’s work is play. Children learn best when they are interested and having fun. Incorporate playful elements to keep their attention and enthusiasm high.
    • Storytelling: Integrate stories or themes into your yoga practice. For example, a jungle adventure where each posture represents a different animal.
    • Games and Songs: Use yoga games and songs to teach postures and mindfulness concepts. These activities can make learning yoga more interactive and enjoyable. Consider moving faster or slower. Sing or whisper instead of speak. These strategies will help keep the students engaged!
    • Review The Advanced Teaching Concepts Training: Most especially, the section where we discuss and incorporate the Theory of Multiple Intelligences into our Lesson Planning. This assists with reaching all learners, increasing engagement and decreasing acting out.
  1. Use Tactile & Visual Aids
    Visual aids can be very effective in helping children understand and remember yoga postures and behaviors.
    • Card Decks: Use illustrated cards to show different yoga postures and activities. Children may follow along more easily when they have 2D visual reference especially when we use the same one each time and it becomes familiar.
    • Charts and Posters: Display charts with class expectations, a schedule of activities, inspirational quotes about mindfulness and kindness, and emotions.
  1. Incorporate Mindfulness Practices
    Teach children mindfulness techniques to help them focus, recognize and label their emotions and self regulate.
    • Breathing Exercises: Simple breathing exercises, like balloon breaths (inhaling deeply and exhaling slowly as if blowing up a balloon), can help children calm down and center themselves.
    • Mindful Moments: Integrate short mindfulness breaks where children can rest their eyes, listen to soothing sounds, or focus on their breath before moving on to the next part of their day.
  1. Provide Positive Reinforcement
    Reinforce good behavior with positive feedback. This encourages children to repeat the behavior and motivates others to follow suit.
    • Praise and Encouragement: Acknowledge and praise children when they follow the rules or try their best. Specific feedback, like “I saw how quietly you moved into your posture,” can be very effective.
    • Reward Systems: Implement a reward system where children can earn stickers or small tokens for positive behavior and participation.
    • Ask Questions: Such as, “How do you feel about what just happened?” after catching them doing a kind deed! This encourages positive self-talk.
  1. Be Patient and Flexible
    Children’s energy levels and attention spans can vary greatly. Be patient and willing to adapt your plan as needed.
    • Be Willing to Change the Plan: Meet kids where they’re at. Be ready to modify postures for different skill levels and attention spans. If a particular posture or activity isn’t working, switch to something else.
    • Short Breaks: Allow for short breaks if you notice the children becoming restless. A quick movement activity, fun game, or child’s posture can reset their (and your!) focus.
  1. Create a Calm Environment
    The physical environment of your yoga class can significantly impact behavior.
    • Space Setup: Arrange the space to minimize distractions. Ensure there is enough room for each child to move comfortably.
    • Calming Atmosphere: Use soft lighting, calming music, and a soothing color scheme to create a peaceful atmosphere.
  1. Model the Behavior You Want to See
    Children learn a lot by observing adults. Model the behaviors and attitudes you want to instill in them.
    • Stay Calm and Composed: Demonstrate calmness and patience, even when addressing disruptive behavior.
    • Your voice is a tool. Use it well or choose not to use it at all! That is also an attention-getter.
    • Practice Mindfulness: Show children how to be mindful by practicing it yourself during the class.

Managing behavior in a children’s yoga class involves a combination of clear expectations, engaging activities, positive reinforcement, and patience. By creating a structured yet flexible environment, incorporating fun and mindfulness, and modeling the behaviors you want to see, you can foster a positive and enriching yoga experience for children. The more you teach, the more you come to build skills. Practice, practice, practice! Remember, the goal is not only to teach yoga postures and breathwork but also to instill a sense of calm, focus, and self-awareness that children can carry with them beyond the yoga mat.

 

Written by: The ChildLight Team