Children, today, juggle a wide variety of pressures and demands, often while living in a hectic and fast paced world. In today’s world children are likely exposed to a wide variety of electronic gadgets, often have long days, multiple after school activities and may face a wide variety of pressures, including peer pressure and pressures from parents to perform well in sports and academics.
Students today seem to be increasingly stressed. The MECA Study (Methodology for Epidemiology of Mental Disorders in Children and Adolescents) estimated that almost 21 percent of U.S. children ages 9 to 17 had a diagnosable mental or addictive disorder associated with at least minimum impairment.
Mindfulness—the cultivation of a particular quality of awareness developed through paying attention to the present moment—has long been taught for the purposes on stress reduction. The practice of mindfulness involves paying attention to your own internal experience in the moment and to the world around you.
There has been a growing interest in mindfulness in arenas outside of mental health. Business professionals, nurses and schools have all been taking an interest in mindfulness with its capacity to improve focus, allay physical pain and lesson emotional distress.
Why Mindfulness in Schools?
Focus: mindfulness practice (learning techniques to be in the moment, to let go of worries and to focus on calming yourself with breathing, for example) can help students learn how to focus their attention. They are then better able to complete school work, handle frustration and reduce the stress that comes from trying to complete multiple tasks simultaneously.
Emotional well being: Mindfulness practice can improve confidence, sense of well-being and the ability to handle stress well. Recently, mindfulness has been found to have a very real impact on the functioning of the brain. Richard Davidson, professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and colleagues, found that with the practice of mindfulness parts of the brain associated with positive mood are activated.
Physical Well-Being: Mindfulness can also have real impact on physical health. Davidson found improvements in immune functioning associated with mindfulness practice and a wide of studies have found mindfulness improves in coping with physical problems.
Social functioning: Much of a child’s world is social. Peer relationships are central to a child’s world and sense of well-being. Feeling left out and lonely or being in conflict with peers is devastating during childhood. Approaching social interactions with a greater sense of calm, an increased awareness and a presence in the moment (rather than filled with worries or anger about past interactions) can improve a child’s ability to relate to others.
Photo by Elizabeth Albert, available under a Creative Commons attribution license.