Mindfulness and your child

August 17, 2021


There is an increasing body of evidence that shows that when children practise mindfulness it helps with their learning, critical thinking, decision-making skills, and self-confidence. Children and teenagers who practise mindfulness are more likely to remain calm and respond in a considered way to stress and frustration. As children grow, thinking before just reacting will help them face many of the challenges they may encounter.

Research is showing that mindfulness has cognitive benefits for children and teenagers and is beneficial for executive function. Executive functions are responsible for a person’s ability to organise information, remember details, plan, pay attention, and focus. Mindfulness also aids the development of emotional intelligence, self-worth, and connectedness to others and the world we live in. Children and teenagers can develop an awareness of how their brain works,  a greater understanding of their emotions, and become more empathetic to others.  

Mindfulness can increase a sense of well-being and optimism. Children and young people who practise mindfulness tend to be calmer and enjoy better sleep. It can lead to better social relationships amongst students as they are more aware of, and in control of, their emotions and their responses to others, and have increased empathy.

“Ultimately, when kids and teens come to understand that they can be in control of their thoughts, feelings, and actions, they not only make better choices but feel more in control of their decision-making processes.” The Very Well Family.

Mindfulness is about living in the present moment and the beauty of it is that it can be practised at any time and anywhere. Young children are naturally mindful. When they are finding new and exciting things in the world their focus, even if brief, is centred on that one thing.  You can encourage your child to concentrate fully on the activity and not allow their minds to be crowded with other thoughts. It may take a little time to achieve this state of mindfulness, but it is worth the practise.  Some activities include:

  • Colouring in; a great way to get your child focused on an enjoyable task.
  • Looking closely at something interesting; studying the detail on a leaf. 
  • Walking indoors; paying attention to the feel of the surface on which they are walking on every part of their feet.
  • Walking outdoors; being aware of their feet on the grass or the sand.
  • Listening to music; paying attention to song lyrics or a particular instrument.

Ideally a time should be set each day for children and teenagers to practise mindfulness and to incorporate it into their daily routine. It should never be used as a form of discipline; the purpose is to increase positivity and manage emotions. Choose a “quiet” time when there are no other distractions initially. 

Once the skill has been learned, it can be used however distracting and alarming the situation. As with all behaviours, children learn from their role models, so if parents and educators can encourage children, discuss what works for them, and show children that mindfulness is part of their daily rituals, your child is more likely to achieve success.

Maxine Walton

Green Shoots School Counsellor

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