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What to Know About Mindfulness Meditation for Kids

Mindfulness meditation is a helpful tool for stress relief. It’s a type of meditation that encourages you to focus on a specific object, sensation, or sound in the present moment. It can help you clear your mind and actively engage with the world. 

Although much of the research on mindfulness has been on adults, recent studies have established that mindfulness can also be good for children and teens.

What is Mindfulness Meditation?

Mindfulness is an old practice that people use to help their minds calm down. It can help manage stress, chronic pain, anxiety, depression, and other health issues. Mindfulness meditation includes mind-body activities like yoga and breathing exercises. 

The types of mindfulness exercises you’ll do will depend on what you are comfortable with. Some people enjoy more basic exercises while others prefer more structured ones.

Benefits of Mindfulness for Children

Practicing mindfulness with your child can benefit them in many ways.

Strengthen brain cells. The skills used in mindfulness meditation help strengthen the brain cells responsible for focus and concentration. These skills can also help regulate your child’s emotions. If your child feels overwhelmed, mindfulness exercises can help them calm down.

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Increase awareness. Children may act more carefully and with more understanding if they practice mindfulness. Mindfulness exercises encourage you to observe what is around you and accept what is happening without judgment. 

Lower stress. Children who practice mindfulness may experience lower stress levels compared to those who do not. Mindfulness lets children exercise self-control, master their attention, and improve their emotional well-being. 

Mindfulness can help children move away from negative feelings towards positive ones. This allows them to clear their minds before they become too stressed or anxious.

Manage emotional issues. Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy has been used as a treatment for children with anxiety. Combining mindfulness techniques with cognitive therapy may help reduce symptoms of anxiety and behavior problems.

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy may also be helpful in lessening feelings of depression and anger. It can help children develop stronger resilience when faced with difficult events. 

Promote happiness. Mindfulness can be a valuable tool at every stage of growth to lessen anxiety and promote happiness. As children learn to live in the present moment, they also learn how to accept their situations more quickly. They become less judgmental and more satisfied with their present lives.

Teaching your child how to practice mindfulness can help lead to healthy self-regulation and better quality of life.

Teaching Mindfulness to Your Child

A benefit of mindfulness meditation is that you don’t need an instructor to practice it or teach it to your child. There are many different mindfulness exercises that you can show your child to get them started. Some you can do together, others you can have them do on their own. You can start out with one or two small exercises, and then build up to longer, more intense ones if you like.

  • Teach them how to notice and name their body sensations, emotions, and thoughts.
  • Share a 3-breath hug. Take deliberate and well-calculated deep breaths together. Let every muscle relax, and any tension melt away. This can be a good technique to use when saying hello or goodbye to one another.
  • Show your child how to observe and appreciate everything that their bodies are capable of doing.
  • Remind them to notice their surroundings through their five senses. They can share what they notice with you or their friends.
  • If you already practice mindfulness on your own, describe your mindfulness exercises to them and how you calm yourself.
  • Share a mindful snack. Enjoy every bite with dedicated attention to the taste, feel, or smell.
  • Teach them to count their breaths when lying down or sitting. One hand should be on the belly to help them track the rhythm. The exercise helps the mind calm down.

Take Time to Practice

Mindfulness meditation may not be right for everyone, but it can be a useful way to help your child master their thoughts and emotions. By helping your child be more aware of their feelings and their surroundings, they will be able to react to situations more calmly.

Mindfulness meditation is a practice that takes time. If you and your child work on being mindful together and alone, you can both improve your mood and well-being. 

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

Annals of the New York Society of Sciences: “Mindfulness meditation and the immune system: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials.”

Behavioral Brain Research: "Mindfulness and dynamic functional neural connectivity in children and adolescents."

Child Development Perspectives: "Nurturing Mindfulness in Children and Youth: Current State of Research."

Journal of Child and Family Studies: “A Randomized Trial of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Children: Promoting Mindful Attention to Enhance Social-Emotional Resiliency in Children.”

Mayo Clinic: "Mindfulness exercises." 

Mindful: "Mindfulness for Kids."

Mindfulness: “Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy Enhances Emotional Resiliency in Children with Divorced Parents.”, "The Meaning of Mindfulness in Children and Adolescents: Further Validation of the Child and Adolescent Mindfulness Measure (CAMM) in Two Independent Samples from The Netherlands." 

Penn State World Campus: "Mindfulness Can Increase Your Concentration and Lower Stress." 

PLoS One: “Mindfulness-Based Blood Pressure Reduction (MB-BP): Stage 1 single-arm clinical trial.”

ScienceDirect: "Mindfulness and dynamic functional neural connectivity in children and adolescents."  

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