June 5, 2017
ARTICLE:

Mindfulness: Can it help my child?

By Kate Horstmann

Mindfullness - happy child

It is hard to escape all the talk about Mindfulness. In fact, it is being mentioned so much in mainstream media that it would be easy to dismiss it as the latest ‘cure-all’ fad. However, Mindfulness is a well-researched way of developing cognitive and emotional skills and the evidence supporting it continues to grow.  While early research focussed mainly on adults, the last 5 years have seen a strong trend to using this tool effectively with children and teenagers.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is essentially paying attention to your body, your thoughts and your environment. Much of the time we are either worrying about or planning the future, or recalling things from the past. We are rarely fully present in the moment. Mindfulness is about shifting our awareness to our current situation – noticing, being curious and not being judgemental by labelling things as ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

Mindfulness can be practiced in lots of different ways and does not always involve meditation. However short meditations or mindful activities (e.g. really paying attention to the snack you are eating) are often the easiest ways to teach this skill to children.

How might it benefit my child?

The benefits of Mindfulness really are extensive and can help children both physically and mentally. Research suggests that while all children benefit from learning this skill, those with identified emotional and behavioural difficulties show even greater gains and describe more positive changes. Mindfulness has been shown to improve:

  • Resilience and sense of wellbeing
  • Ability to manage pain and stress
  • Cognitive skills: attention, flexibility in thinking, problem solving
  • Sleep.

Brain imaging technology has demonstrated that even with 5-10 minutes of mindfulness a day there can be observable physical changes to the brain’s structure and neurological response to stress.

Where do I start?

Smiling Mind is a fantastic Australian organisation that is leading the charge when it comes to making Mindfulness accessible, fun and tailored to everyone. Their website and App has specific programs for children of different ages (starting from 7 years), classrooms, workplaces and even sportspeople. They are conducting extensive research and have set themselves the goal of having mindfulness in the Australian school curriculum by 2020.

Log on to try one of their sessions this weekend! https://smilingmind.com.au/

Tips for making mindfulness work?

  • Do it as a family and practice together
  • Schedule it into part of everyday life
  • Find bonus times to practice: driving, waiting for an appointment etc.
  • Use technology to keep it fun and motivating (e.g. Smiling Mind app)
  • Set a target (e.g. 5 minutes a day for 2 weeks), track practice and celebrate success.

Of course you can also make an appointment with either myself, or our Psychologist, if you would like some personal support in helping your child to become more Mindful.

For further information on some of the research go to:

https://mindfulnessinschools.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/MiSP-Research-Summary-2012.pdf

https://smilingmind.com.au/media/1194/research-project-report.pdf


To make an appointment with Kate Horstmann please call 07 3177 2000 or use the booking form to make an appointment.


 

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