Mindfulness for Children

In the December newsletter, we explore how bringing more present-moment awareness can positively impact interactions with others. The benefits of mindfulness for adults are well documented. According to a report from Exeter University:

“Amongst adults there is reasonably strong evidence for the positive impact of mindfulness on a wide range of mental and physical health conditions, on social and emotional skills and well-being, and on learning and cognition. There is also good evidence from neuroscience and brain imaging that mindfulness meditation reliably and profoundly alters the structure and function of the brain to improve the quality of both thought and feeling.”

What about the impact on children?

The same study came to the following conclusions for children:

“Mindfulness for young people is easy to carry out, fits into a wide range of contexts, is enjoyed by both students and teacher, and does no harm.” 

In addition, the Exeter University study also reported improved mental, physical, social, and emotional health and well-being in the young children who participated in mindfulness practices. Benefits included:

  • Improved sleep.
  • Improved self-esteem.
  • Greater calmness, relaxation.
  • Improved ability to manage behaviors and emotions.
  • Greater self-awareness and empathy.
  • Reduced stress levels.
  • Reduced anxiety and reactivity.
  • Reduction of negative behaviors.

Cognitive functioning can also be improved by mindfulness practices. The Exeter University study found that behaviors associated with executive functions were greatly improved. Executive functions are the skills that help children organize thoughts, focus attention, filter distractions, and pause before reacting to a situation. Specific benefits cited include:

  • Longer attention span.
  • Increased innovative thinking.
  • Greater access to prior knowledge.
  • Boosted working memory.
  • Enhanced planning, problem solving and reasoning skills.

Ultimately, Exeter University’s study concluded

“The studies show that adolescents who are mindful, either through their character or through learning, tend to experience greater well-being, and that being more mindful tends to accompany more positive emotion, greater popularity and having more friends, and less negative emotion and anxiety.”

Please note: Every child is unique. Not every child will experience all of these positive results from mindfulness techniques, but children will not be harmed by the practice.

You can learn more in the CCEI course entitled SOC106: The Value of Mindfulness in Early Childhood Settings