The benefits of mindfulness for children

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I sometimes get asked if mindfulness is only for children who suffer from anxiety. Or only for children who struggle to sit still and concentrate. Or only for late teens and older.

The answer to all of these questions is no. Mindfulness can benefit any child. Whether they are anxious or not. Whether they can sit still or not. Whether they are preschoolers or in Grade 12.

In children and adults alike, mindfulness can help to develop emotional understanding and interpersonal awareness, cognitive functioning, a focused concentration as well as body awareness and coordination. Mindfulness transcends age, gender, race, religious beliefs, socio-economic background. It is available to all.

In his book Planting Seeds: Practising mindfulness with children” (Parallax Press 2011), Thich Nhat Hanh explains how studies have shown that children who practise mindfulness regularly experience the following:

  • increased calm
  • decreased stress and anxiety
  • have increased self-awareness
  • are empathetic and understanding of others
  • have natural conflict resolution skills
  • find skillful ways to respond to difficult emotions
  • experience improved impulse control
  • are better able to focus and concentrate

Of all the things we teach our children, the value of being present is often over looked. Yet, the ability to embrace the present moment, with kindness and compassion, with no judgement or expectation, is one of the most valuable skills we can share with our future generation.

If every 8-year-old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.

Dalai Lama