Anxiety can be debilitating for children on a variety of levels. It shows itself in different ways, but a common thread seems to be the feeling of being out of control. Our instinct is to dissolve these feelings, which is impossible and can sometimes worsen them. It’s important to teach kids to accept these challenging emotions and learn to soften them with a mindfulness practice. It gives them power over their own wellness and emotions. An article entitled Meditation and Emotion Regulation summarized a study that found meditation helped in reducing negative emotions and increasing emotional recovery.
There are fewer things more important in the proper development of the body and mind than sleep. Kids need it, plain and simple, but so many are plagued with problems falling asleep, having poor sleep quality, and difficulties waking up. According to a study done in 2015, participates put in a mindfulness program had significant improvements in sleep quality with a secondary outcome that showed decreases in “sleep-related daytime impairment” such as “depression, anxiety, stress, and fatigue”. Meditating first thing in the morning can also help a person wake-up and start the day with a present and focused mind-body connection.
Increase Attention Span
Growing up is difficult, it was for us decades ago, and it remains challenging if not more challenging this day in age. Kids are learning to navigate through home life, school life, and social life at an incredible rate. There is an added overstimulation component of endless information through new technology. This is a lot for a child’s fragile developing brain. Mindfulness acts like a windshield wiper to provide a clearer view on life. It allows the child to feel grounded and able to process the overwhelming world around them. It allows for brief but effective resets to harvest focused learning and decrease mental frustration.
Cultivate Compassion and Kindness
A mindfulness practice builds self-appreciation and develops a healthy relationship with one’s own emotions. With this comes a desire to empathize on a deeper level and a need to help others cope with suffering or pain. There was study that was analyzed by Emiliana R. Simon-Thomas that displayed an increase in empathetic actions after the subject’s took an eight week mindfulness meditation class. The results were remarkable.
Improve Sense of Well-Being
Joy. What an incredible word and an even better feeling! Mindful meditation has been shown time and time again to increase satisfaction with life. It helps to keep the mind and body present which aids in a deeper understanding of one’s purpose. This feels good. Research was done in the Netherlands by Esther I. de Bruin that studied children and adolescents who underwent a mindfulness program and showed improvements in “happiness, self-regulation, and quality of life.” It has the ability change the brain’s neuro pathways in a direction that enriches the human experience on so many levels.
An article written by Sarah Wheeler analyzing a study about mindful parenting, states that the benefits may reach "beyond simply decreasing parenting stress, such as providing good modeling for children and even enhancing child brain development." Parenting is one of the toughest jobs in the world, but can also be the most rewarding. Mindfulness can help a parent acknowledge both aspects by decreasing self-judgment and living in the moment.
Although we are just beginning to see substantially qualified studies on the cellular affects of a mindfulness based meditation practice, the preliminary results indicate potential positive impacts on inflammation, cell-mediated immunity, and biological aging. In addition to these findings, 80% of medical schools in the United States are currently implementing mindfulness programs to help in compassion burnout, patient wellness, and research programs.