Mindfulness for adults has been studied for decades, and we know that mindfulness practice comes with many benefits. Research on mindfulness and children is not yet as extensive as with adults, but the amount of studies is growing rapidly and the results are promising.
Why Mindfulness Is Good For Children
Mindfulness provides children with simple, practical tools to work directly with their nervous systems, helping them regulate emotional states and focus attention.
Mindfulness improves attention
Children’s mindfulness training starts with learning focusing skills. When we learn to focus on just one thing, like taste, sound or our own breath, our mind calms down and grows stronger.
Refined concentration skills, in turn, translate to improved performance. It helps children do better in sports, school or arts, and it will help them score higher on tests. We always do better when we’re able to pay attention to what we’re doing.
Mindfulness improves self-regulation
When children practice focusing skills, they become aware of what their minds are really up to. Mindfulness practice helps children deal with tough emotions and even improves impulse control. It replaces impulsive reactions with thoughtful responses. Without mindfulness we tend to be reactive, whereas with mindfulness we can respond in a balanced, rational way. Ultimately children can learn to steady themselves under sympathetic arousal to access cognitive skills.
Mindfulness gives children the tools to focus their minds, calm down and reflect on a situation when they need to make a choice. When we’re aware of our inner life and are able to observe it, emotions and thoughts can lose their control over us, and we get more time to respond.
With mindfulness practice, we can create space between the things that happen and how we react to them. We respond in a more balanced way, without hurting our own feelings or the feelings of others.
As we create more emotional balance, we are less easily knocked down by our emotions, and in moments when we are knocked down, we bounce back more quickly.
Most adolescents deal with strong emotions, and mindfulness skills can really make a difference.
But there’s more…
Mindfulness develops life skills
Mindfulness programs in schools are becoming more and more widespread. According to research conducted by the University of California in conjunction with Mindful Schools, a program that aims to integrate mindfulness into classrooms, benefits of mindfulness practice for young children include:
- Improved focus
- Improved grades
- Decreased stress
- Emotional regulation
- Increased compassion
- Increased conflict-resolution skills
Additionally, mindfulness techniques are used by some of the world’s most successful athletes, musicians and other individuals who have to perform under extreme pressure. Students today are increasingly placed into high-stakes environments, and mindfulness practice can help. Some areas that students can improve by practicing mindfulness include:
- Test taking
- Public speaking
- Peer interactions
- Family life
Mindfulness can be seen as a set of basic life skills that can improve performance in most areas of life, including school, sports, arts and social interaction. Last but not least, positive qualities that can develop as a result of mindfulness practice include empathy, kindness, well-being, generosity and compassion.
How could mindfulness skills change your child’s life? Have you tried mindfulness with your children already? Please share your experiences.
May you be happy and healthy!
PS Here is our guide on how to get started: How To Practice Mindfulness With Children – The Essential Guide
Chris Bergstrom is the co-founder of BlissfulKids.com and a dad who is thrilled to practice mindfulness with his son. He is a certified mindfulness facilitator, and trained to teach mindfulness to students in K-12. He’s also an executive consultant, and has taught meditation for more than 10 years.