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4 ways mindfulness for children can boost well-being
With mental health disorders amongst young people being on the rise, and stress known to negatively impact learning, many schools are now implementing measures to address the emotional well-being of their students.
The world can be a difficult place for children to navigate. Kids today tend to be under more pressure than ever, with factors like exam stress and social media making a contribution.
This article looks at how mindfulness for children can help them cope with today’s always-on, competitive lifestyle.
So, let’s jump in!
What is mindfulness and how does it work?
Mindfulness can be summed up as: “A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations” (Oxford English Dictionary).
There is a growing body of research showing that mindfulness offers many benefits. These include:
1) Improved mental health and well-being:
Mindfulness for children can help them to: recognise when they’re feeling anxious; manage difficulties and challenging situations (including exams); and appreciate the positives in their lives.
2) Increased concentration:
Practising mindfulness helps kids to understand and focus their attention with more awareness. Therefore, this might help them to be less distracted and increase their powers of concentration, which should both have a positive impact on their learning.
3) Social and emotional learning:
Teaching of mindfulness techniques often takes place as part of personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE). Mindfulness can help foster an improved awareness of relationships and how to deal with them, as well as a deeper understanding and appreciation of qualities like optimism and self-esteem.
Mindfulness for children has the potential to help students keep their behaviour in check more effectively, enabling them to better manage impulsive urges and limit conflict. In saying this, teachers should not adopt mindfulness as a disciplinary technique!
From a teacher perspective, mindfulness is also thought to help manage stress, increase compassion and enhance teaching efficacy.
Teachers have found that mindfulness for children techniques can be particularly effective for children with special education needs (SEN), autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and attention deficit disorders (ADD).
How can I incorporate mindfulness for children in my school?
There are now a number of mindfulness courses for schools keen to incorporate it. These include the Paws b programme for 7-11 year olds and the .b programme for 11-18 year olds, developed by the Mindfulness in Schools Project.
Through programmes like these students will learn about: the neuroscience of mindfulness and how it affects the brain; how to centre themselves when they are feeling overwhelmed or off-balance; ways to respond to challenging situations; how their thought process can affect them emotionally and physically; and how mindfulness can help in their daily life and with their relationships.
The mindfulness practice aspect of these programmes will centre on activities such as attention-training, for example. Exercises will help children focus on the present and work through their thoughts and feelings in a constructive way.
Some schools have also taken the additional steps of setting up dedicated mental and physical health stations. These spaces are staffed by trained mental health first-aiders, and are available at break and at lunchtimes.
To sum up…
Whilst mindfulness isn’t a magic wand, it does seem to offer meaningful benefits. Some schools now regularly use mindfulness for children at key points in the school day, e.g. at morning registration to help kids settle for the day ahead, after lunch to re-focus students and even as part of assembly.
In addition, mindfulness techniques can play an integral part of a whole school approach to a healthy lifestyle, along with other measures such as keeping students hydrated and providing them with healthy vending machine snacks and nutritious school meals. So, why not give mindfulness for children a try at your school?
Want to learn more about how you can promote student health and well-being in your school? Contact the friendly team at Utility Rentals!