One of the concerns that comes up the most in kids’ yoga classes, especially for Toddler and Little Family classes is: What if my child doesn’t participate?
Spoiler alert: They won’t. Not every class, not the whole class, and not in the exact same way we think they ought to. There are, of course, levels to this. Some kids participate fully until they’re having an off day. Other kids do their two favorite poses and spend the rest of the class running laps around the room. All of this behavior is normal, appropriate, and expected.
So what do you do, as a caregiver, in that situation? You do the same thing you always do when your child isn’t doing what you want. Model the behavior you want to see. Just do the yoga. If its easy, and if you feel your child is being disruptive, certainly try to guide them back to the group. Mostly, though, let your child do what they need to be doing in the moment, and focus on having fun with the class yourself.
Its also worth mentioning that if you feel like your child is being distracting, its a great time to check in with yourself. Is your child’s behavior bothering the class? Or is your child’s behavior bothering you? Nine times out of ten, the issues isn’t actually that a child is disturbing the class. The issue is the the child isn’t behaving according to our hopes or expectations, and so they’re disturbing us.
To help visualize this, I give you my daughter. She’s six, and started taking yoga classes when she was about two. (She, by the way, was the toddler running circles around the room and chasing bubbles during savasana. If that’s your kid, I feel you.). Now that I’m teaching yoga from my living room, she’s getting a new perspective of things and often asks to help with my classes.
Notice how, in this video, she participates in only the activities that interest her. Pedaling her legs? Super fun. Animal poses? No so much. A breath in mouse pose is about all she’s in for. Around the 3:30 mark, she tries out bridge for no reason other than that it feels good.
It would be easy to assume, based on her lack of participation, that she wasn’t interested in the class. If this was my first experience, I might even think she didn’t like yoga. But, I kept teaching the class, just like we ask parents to keep participating in class. My daughter wandered off to do her school work after this activity, and didn’t say anything else about it. But she had been watching. Her mind had been processing. And two days later?
She wanted to teach a yoga class on Zoom for her cousins. She put on her Breathing Space shirt. She swept the living room, just like she sees me do before every class. She asked me to set up the iPad to film, the same way I do for the classes she’s seen me teach. And she taught the entire bicycle song–with the addition of her own animals, like a unicorn.
She hadn’t done a single pose when I was teaching them, but even laying there on the mat, waiting to pedal again, she had been paying attention.
Caregiver: just keep doing the yoga. Your kids are watching.
About the Author:
Jessica LaGarde has been teaching creative movement in the metro area since 2005 and is passionate about helping children discover and explore their bodies and the world around them. She was trained by Joye Newman, MA to teach preschool creative movement for Kids’ Moving Company, a Bethesda-based creative movement studio. In 2017, she completed her Baby, Toddler, and Children’s Yoga Teacher Training through Childlight Yoga.
In addition to working with preschoolers, Jessica is a registered massage practitioner and is trained in infant massage instruction. She has practiced massage for over twelve years and taught massage as part of Potomac Massage Training Institute’s professional training program. Outside of the movement space and massage room, she enjoys cooking, knitting, sewing, gardening and exploring the outdoors with her daughter.