Mindfulness is one more tool to manage life, relationships with others and our emotions. What benefits does it have in children?
Mindfulness translates to “mindfulness.” It is an oriental (Buddhist) meditation technique that was introduced in the West by Jon Kabat-Zinn. It is based on a therapeutic meditation practice or routine that seems to have a lot of emotional and physical benefits. One of its main objectives is to reduce stress, and the main technique is to focus attention on the breath to focus attention on the here and now, take distance from thoughts and emotions and observe them without reacting immediately.
Many adults practice it, but more and more are seeing very good results in children. In some countries it is proposed as therapy in children with ADHD, anxiety, depression or autism spectrum disorders. The results support an increase in attention, better management of emotions and a decrease in stress after eight weeks of training.
Mindfulness at school
In some schools it is proposed as a curricular activity and it seems to work! The goal at school is that learning these techniques can help students improve academically and reduce stress.
During the training or practice of mindfulness in children, different topics can be addressed: conscious breathing, heartfulness (sending positive thoughts to others), conscious seeing.
Mindfulness at home
Many families practice it at home. It is a family practice that can have a great impact at home, improving relationships between parents and siblings, since people who practice these techniques are able to modify their behavior and learn not to react immediately and thoughtlessly to a situation . That is, it helps to improve communication skills, to manage conflicts and stress situations in a healthier way.
The goal of teaching “mindfulness” to children is to empower them to develop awareness of their internal and external experiences, to recognize their thoughts and to understand how emotions manifest in their bodies, as well as to provide tools for control of impulses.
Benefits of mindfulness in children
Obviously, this technique is not a panacea or the end of all problems or difficulties in life. We cannot think that meditation practice will transform our child and make the bad mood, frustration or tantrums disappear, as if by magic.
We must think that it is just one more tool to manage life, relationships with others and our emotions.
The benefits of this technique in children are:
- Decreased stress and anxiety. Manage life stress, as well as provide tools to deal with future stressful situations or that may cause anxiety in the child.
- Improved attention, focus on what they have to do and improve academic performance. That is why it has been seen as an effective therapy in children with ADHD.
- Increased empathy. Knowing ourselves helps to understand others. The ability to be empathetic improves social relationships.
- Development of consciousness about what we feel and think.
- Development of awareness about how emotions affect our physical well-being.
- Increased active peer listening.
- They learn techniques to relax in times of stress.
- Helps with conflict management.
- Promotes thoughtful and non-impulsive decision making.
- Reduce conflicts between equals.
- It makes it easy to focus on the present and the future by planning goals and objectives.
- Helps maintain emotional, physical and psychological balance.
- Better cardiovascular and neurological regulation.
- Improved capacity for abstraction, logic and calculation.
- Improvement of social skills, knowledge of their limits and capacities.
How to start practicing mindfulness?
The principles are never easy, but if children see that their parents practice this type of meditation, perhaps it will be easier for them to dare to practice it . It is important not to force, let it flow and know how to stop if there is a strong refusal on the part of the child.
Here are some strategies to get started:
- Concentrate on a sound: we can ring a bell or a Tibetan bowl and ask the child to feel the sound, concentrate on it until he cannot feel.
- Breathing practice: it is perhaps an easier step because it is an internal function of the child. This step aims for the child to be able to pay attention to how he breathes (something that goes unnoticed most of the time).
- Listen to the environment: close your eyes and pay attention to what goes unnoticed most of the time, such as smells or sounds.
- Foster a gratitude routine: make children aware of all the good things they have had during the day or in their life, emphasizing the non-material.
- Recognize feelings, describe them and recognize how they manifest in your body (tensions, pains, chills…).
- Increase awareness when eating: eat a regular food and pay attention to every taste, texture, and sensation.
What you should know…
- Due to its emotional and physical benefits, more and more adults practice it, and very good results are being observed in children.
- There are schools that propose it as a curricular activity, and it can also be practiced at home, as a family, where it has been seen that it improves relationships between parents and siblings.
- Meditation will not transform our child or make the bad mood, frustration or tantrums disappear as if by magic . It must be considered as one more tool to manage life, relationships with others and our emotions.