Does mindfulness have a positive impact on children?
There is plenty of evidence to suggest that practising mindfulness has a positive impact on adults, but what about children and young people?
Research into the impact of mindfulness on a child’s mental and physical wellbeing isn’t as extensive as it is with adults, but it is a growing area of research, with early results indicating that teaching young people mindfulness in schools is well worth doing.
Some schools in Wales have already introduced mindfulness into the daily routine of pupils, with classes being closely monitored by scientists from Bangor University. Scientists are focusing their study on Ysgol Emmanuel, a primary school in North Wales. The school has been practising mindfulness for two years, with teacher Linda Coleman telling BBC Wales "It's made a huge difference, in the fact that on occasions when we do have that wobbliness, after playtimes, after PE, after lunchtimes, we're able to practice this mindfulness and it calms the whole situation down."
The university is conducting the experiment to see whether mindfulness does help children to focus. The research should be published very soon, and we eagerly await the results.
Exeter University is ahead of the game, having published its research summary ‘Evidence for the Impact of Mindfulness on Children and Young People’ back in 2012. That study found that:
- Mindfulness for young people is easy to carry out, is enjoyed by both students and teachers and does no harm.
- Well-conducted mindfulness interventions can improve the mental, emotional, social and physical health and wellbeing of young people who take part. It has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, reactivity and bad behaviour, improve sleep and self-esteem, and bring about greater calmness, relaxation, the ability to manage behaviour and emotions, self-awareness and empathy.
- Mindfulness can contribute directly to the development of cognitive and performance skills and executive function. It can help young people pay greater attention, be more focused, think in more innovative ways, use existing knowledge more effectively, improve working memory, and enhance planning, problem-solving and reasoning skills.
Although this was a relatively small study, all the findings indicate that mindfulness is likely to have beneficial effects on the emotional wellbeing, ability to learn and the physical health of school students. With mindfulness being relatively costless and easy to implement, we hope more schools fit these sessions into the day-to-day life of pupils in the near future.
If you’re keen to improve your mental and physical wellbeing through mindfulness, our mindful journal ‘That Was Now’ is great place to start. The book helps you to develop mindfulness techniques to transform the way you think and feel. If you want to live a fuller life, pick up a copy now.