With Christmas fast approaching, the thoughts of parents, guardians, and family are no doubt turning to what to gift the kids for Christmas. Usually these come in the form of toys and games, books and DVD’s or even clothes.
If you are a generation x parent, like me, then you will understand that today’s world for kids is very different to the childhoods we had. It’s faster paced, where kids are bombarded with social media pressure, living their lives through a screen. Studies show that Kids as young as six have been diagnosed with anxiety, with adolescent mental health service needs increasing. With things like love, stability, education and quality time together, aside, what else can we offer our kids to ensure that as children, as well as adults, they have the tools to support their own well-being, which includes having mental and emotional health, that is at an optimum?
I believe that mindfulness practice can meet these needs, and there is growing evidence to support this.You may have heard of mindfulness, but what exactly is it and how is it beneficial to our children?
We often ask kids to pay attention, but do we teach them how? Mindfulness is, according to John Kabat-Zinn, is “awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally,” But what can simply “paying attention” in any given moment do?
THE BENEFITS OF MINDFULNESS
Mindfulness was originally introduced as an intervention to reduce pain and stress, as the programme “mindfulness-based stress reduction” or MBSR, by John Kabat-Zinn, which drew on various traditions such as Buddhism, and Hinduism, where meditation was part of religious practices, an ancient technique that goes back centuries, however mindfulness in itself, is not a religious practice. For adults the results of mindfulness practice were benefits such as; Reduced Rumination (chambers et al, 2008),Stress reduction (Hoffman et al 2010),Boosts to working memory (Jha et al 2010),Focus (Moore and Malinowski 2009) and Increased cognitive flexibility (Siegal 2007). For children and adolescents, the evidence is starting to filter through, and mindfulness for schools.org, reported on two reviews of various studies and suggests that mindfulness in schools is well worth doing, and that the evidence from the studies concludes that:
Mindfulness is easy to carry out, is enjoyable and does no harm
Mindfulness can improve the mental, emotional, social and physical health and wellbeing of young people (reduced stress, anxiety, reactivity and improved sleep, self-esteem, greater calmness and the ability to manage behaviour and emotions)
That mindfulness can contribute directly to the development of cognitive and performance skills and executive function (improve greater attention, think in more innovative ways, improve working memory and enhance planning, problem solving and reasoning skills)
INTRODUCING YOURK CHILD TO MINDFULNESS
So how do we introduce our children to mindfulness? here are my top three tips
Lead the way – If you don’t already practice, then the first place to start is with you, as children are more likely and more willing to get involved and give it a go.
Keep it short – to begin with, even though the concept of mindfulness is simple, it can be challenging to pay attention for lengths of time, even for adults. Mindfulness is essentially about paying attention to the moment and the experiences of any given moment, and a moment doesn’t have to last very long. A mindful minute ( or less) is an ideal start.
Make it child friendly – in other words make it fun and interesting! When introducing children to mindfulness in my course, I use various objects, activities and poems to engage them in the process of learning all about how we can be mindful.
“Mindful chimps” is a six week course especially designed for parent and child, introducing the foundations of mindfulness practice in a fun way.
For further information and Applications please visit www.jqcoaching.com