8 benefits of mindfulness for children

What’s mindfulness? Asked my energetic five year old, whilst swinging from the door, chewing a pen and holding her sister in a headlock.

“It’s about living in the moment and doing one thing at a time.”

I replied, quietly drinking in the irony of the situation.

Doing too much is symptomatic of the times we live in. We push ourselves to have it all, hurry our children to be on time and struggle to say no. As one of the worst culprits of taking on more than I can cope with, I’m sad to say I’ve passed on my affliction to my daughter. To her credit, she is keen, excitable and wants to do everything. And I love that she grabs every opportunity with both hands.

But this term, one of the clubs on the extra curricular list was mindfulness. Following a brief discussion and in the spirit of saying “yes” to absolutely everything, she signed up for the club. So, I hit Google to find out what exactly mindfulness is and how it might benefit children.

Mindfulness for children | The mindfulness movement has been taking hold over the past few years and many adults are aware of it and incorporate mindful time into their everyday lives. But now it is suggested that mindfulness can be helpful to children. Here are eight benefits of mindfulness for children.

What is mindfulness

There are a few definitions, some of which class it as a meditation. These make reference to being aware of your breathing and using it to ground you in the moment. Focusing on the action of breathing to make you present in the here and now and distance you from distracting thoughts.

I don’t know about you, but focusing on my breathing always makes me a bit panicky. I think about breathing, then I’m aware that I’m breathing and it seems a bit odd. And I forget how to breathe. It reminds me a bit of the Peanuts sketch about being aware of your tongue.

And now I’m worryingly aware of both my tongue and my breathing…

Mercifully most texts seem to refer to mindfulness as living in the moment. Being fully aware of what is happening in our lives right now. Accepting ourselves for who we are and not judging ourselves or thinking that we should be doing something else.

There has been a lot of research into the benefits for adults, particularly for dealing with stress. But more recently, there has been research on how it can help children.

Mindfulness for children | The mindfulness movement has been taking hold over the past few years and many adults are aware of it and incorporate mindful time into their everyday lives. But now it is suggested that mindfulness can be helpful to children. Here are eight benefits of mindfulness for children.

8 benefits of mindfulness for children

1. Physical health

It is a sad indictment of our society that children are increasingly suffering from stress. And research has shown that stressful events can impact their health both immediately and in later life. The use of mindfulness techniques can reduce the stress reaction to events, thereby lessening their effect on physical health.

2. Anxiety

Anxiety is sadly common among children and young people. This gives rise to worries about things that could happen, instead of things that are presently happening. Children who learn to be mindful are able to focus their attention on what is happening in the here and now, which can break the anxiety cycle.

3. Depression

Whilst I haven’t found any research to suggest mindfulness could prevent depression, there is a suggestion that it could work as a coping mechanism. It can teach people to be aware of their unhealthy thoughts and bring their attention back to the here and now. This can be taught using breathing techniques and focus on positive things around them.

4. Increased attention

In a study with children in year three and four of primary school, mindfulness increased the attention span of 64% of them. I know that Libby struggles with concentration, and I understand her frustration. If mindfulness can make it easier for school children to concentrate, it will be beneficial for the whole class.

5. Better exam results

For older children, there is a suggestion that mindfulness can help with exams. Children at a particular school were regularly asked to stop whatever they were doing, close their eyes and focus on breathing. Children who did this regularly performed better when they were asked to do so before an exam.

6. Improved behaviour

The ability to experience the present moment can be expanded to gain control over it. Children who are able to find a quiet place in their minds can become more self-aware. This brings with it an ability to choose their behaviours rather than acting on impulse.

7. Better social interactions

With an ability to regulate our own emotions comes the capacity to build better social connections. Children engaging in mindfulness tune into themselves, which allows them to tune into others. This in turn leads to greater empathy and an ability to see things from another person’s perspective.

8. Better quality of sleep

Even in adults who are chronic insomniacs, a link has been observed between mindfulness and better sleep quality. This has been extended further, revealing that children can also sleep better as a byproduct of the reduced stress levels associated with mindfulness training.

Mindfulness for children | The mindfulness movement has been taking hold over the past few years and many adults are aware of it and incorporate mindful time into their everyday lives. But now it is suggested that mindfulness can be helpful to children. Here are eight benefits of mindfulness for children.

The verdict

If I’m brutally honest, I doubt whether mindfulness will really be my daughter’s thing. She’s a very energetic child who finds stress relief in being active or even just chilling in front of the television. But she is quite highly strung and is constantly worried about missing out on things. So if she does manage to stick with mindfulness club, I think she would benefit hugely from it.

Whatever her decision, I’ll be on board with it. Perhaps I will even try a little mindfulness myself. Although I’m not convinced it’s right for me.

I am still aware of my tongue.

Mindfulness for children | The mindfulness movement has been taking hold over the past few years and many adults are aware of it and incorporate mindful time into their everyday lives. But now it is suggested that mindfulness can be helpful to children. Here are eight benefits of mindfulness for children.

Monday Stumble Linky
Follow:

22 Comments

  1. September 13, 2017 / 8:40 am

    Love this! You and me and our kids are so similar. I totally start stressing about my breathing if I think about it, but it does sound like there are some real benefits for everyone. If only I could find the time to slow down…
    Sarah MumofThree World recently posted…How to make slimeMy Profile

    • monsterid September 14, 2017 / 6:54 am

      I’m so glad it’s not just me that does the thing with the breathing! It’s a time issue for me too with slowing down.
      Nat.x

  2. September 13, 2017 / 10:10 am

    I embraced the mindfulness thing a few years ago, before moving, and bought some colouring books. I can’t say that I felt anything different, either during the colouring or after. That said I did enjoy being creative with colours and seeing the end product.

    Strangely, my colouring books hadn’t made any appearances since moving to Scotland (until last week). Our change of lifestyle and our pace of life seems to have worked a treat.

    As a child I always felt free whilst I outside. I hardly ever watched television. I think this maybe contributes to my inability to sit still for very long, even at my age! Lets hope Libby gets something out of it x
    Melanie Chadd recently posted…Great Scottish SwimMy Profile

    • monsterid September 14, 2017 / 6:54 am

      Oh yes, I remember you getting into the adult colouring. We’re the same about being outside, I’m not great at sitting still either, I always have to be doing at least a couple of things at a time!
      Nat.x

  3. September 13, 2017 / 12:10 pm

    I wish they did something like this at my own kids’ school. I know that my son in particular would really benefit from it.

    • monsterid September 14, 2017 / 6:53 am

      I do hope she sticks with it and finds some benefit. Hopefully your children’s school will do it soon.
      Nat.x

  4. msedollyp
    September 13, 2017 / 12:57 pm

    what an interesting piece! We try to calm our girl with focusing on breathing and the moment, the benefits of an afterschool on it might not be seen now but anything learned is valuable and just being open to what they say will stay with her as she grows.

    • monsterid September 14, 2017 / 6:52 am

      Thank you, I do hope it helps. I wouldn’t know how to do it with her myself so it’s great that the school offer it.
      Nat.x

  5. September 13, 2017 / 2:01 pm

    I started to meditate for 10 mins after the school run the morning. I have MS and fatigue hits as I finish the school run. Instead of pushing through and dragging the fatigue around all day, the meditation just gives me enough rest and “nothingness” to stop the fatigue in its tracks! I’ve literally started a week ago and it’s amazing. I highly recommend trying it out. And I think I will try to do something like this with my son. There is a mindful colouring lunch club at his school but he’s not in the right year yet. So I shall just do it when we get home. 🙂

    • monsterid September 14, 2017 / 6:52 am

      Oh I’m so glad it works for you! I hope it works for my daughter too, it would be great for her just to relax and slow down.
      Nat.x

  6. September 14, 2017 / 4:21 pm

    It is good that they are offering it and hopefully they will do it in a way that appeals. I know someone who did it at school to help with anxiety and this involved them mindfully eating chocolate – I think I do need to slow down myself!
    pinkoddy recently posted…Top Tips to Keep Holiday Memories AliveMy Profile

    • monsterid September 15, 2017 / 10:49 am

      Haha I love the idea of mindfully eating chocolate. The only thing is that probably means eating it slowly doesn’t it?? Not sure I could do it!
      Nat.x

  7. September 15, 2017 / 9:04 am

    I never really knew what mindfulness was, but this sounds perfect for almost any child to practice!

    • monsterid September 15, 2017 / 10:38 am

      Yes, it does sound like it will be beneficial, it’s getting them to sit still long enough to do it that could be a struggle!
      Nat.x

  8. September 16, 2017 / 9:46 pm

    I’ve learnt a lot about mindfulness over the last year and seen some really benefits to it. She sounds very similar to me and I have to work a bit harder than other people to make it benefit me. I hadn’t really thought about how it could be good for children to. I’ll be interested to see how she gets on x

  9. September 18, 2017 / 1:20 pm

    That’s interesting that I read this article as my meditation app has a category for children and mindfulness. However, my youngest, who is also too energetic and would much rather focus on other things, isn’t into it. I don’t push it but I do make him aware that I do it and I talk about how it helps keep me calm and relieves stress. It doesn’t hit him yet as he’s only 10 but I am also trying other things like yoga and Tai Chi that also helps with the calm. He likes yoga but not everyday lol. Great post! I like your take on it:)

  10. September 18, 2017 / 9:53 pm

    As soon as I focus on my breath, I get palpatations. Oy! I try hard to practice mindfulness… i guess that is why they call it practice. #mondaystumble xoxo

  11. Kieran
    September 19, 2017 / 3:10 pm

    I’ve found great solace in mindfulness over the years. The literature that I learnt it from told me to focus on how your breath feels as you breath in and out rather than the actual act of breathing. Concentrating on that helps clear a clouded mind at times.

    I use it with my step daughter, she is prone to being sick due to things she has seen. She will keep heaving until she has been sick unless I distract her with mindfulness. I make her focus on my eyes and count which stops her heaving and calms her down. Works every time.

  12. September 20, 2017 / 10:56 am

    I’m chuckling over your comments about being aware of your tongue and your breathing (and now I’m aware of both too!) I’m not very good at mindfulness but I do find the rare occasions when I stop and try to focus in the moment do help to calm me down. It’s hard to stop sometimes though when you’re so used to being busy and active. I hope Libby enjoys her mindfulness classes – it certainly sounds like there are lots of benefits to it.

    • monsterid October 5, 2017 / 10:49 pm

      Haha sorry for the tongue thing!! I’m not great at mindfulness either but I hope Libby gets something from it due to starting so young.
      Nat.x

  13. September 22, 2017 / 8:27 pm

    What an interesting post. With my daughter’s illness, we’ve looked a lot into mindfulness (it isn’t her thing either because even at 17 she’s still chaotically energetic!). My husband has started using the mindfulness app every day and it’s really helping him to remain calm in situations when he would usually get uptight. As you say, it is about learning to appreciate every moment when you’re in it. Not allowing your mind to tumble into what you’re having for tea tonight, in an effort to remain calm. I actually wish it was a compulsory part of the curriculum for kids; I think one day it might be. Interested to hear how your daughter gets on! And the tongue? How odd!

    • monsterid October 5, 2017 / 10:40 pm

      Thanks Suzanne, I feel the same about it being part of the curriculum, I think it would be a very beneficial lesson to offset the pressure children are under these days.
      Nat.x

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge