How can mindfulness improve children's wellbeing?
In her 2013 study on mindfulness in schools, Katherine Weare said, “Work on mindfulness with young people is popular with both staff and students, has a developing presence and can be effective in promoting a very wide range of outcomes. When well taught and when practised regularly, it has been shown to be capable of improving mental health and wellbeing, mood, self-esteem, self-regulation, positive behaviour and academic learning (Weare, Katherine, “Developing mindfulness with children and young people: a review of the evidence and policy context" Journal of Children's Services, Vol. 8 Issue: 2, pp.141-153). She goes on to say “There are many possible promising locations for mindfulness within mainstream education and the health services, including work to improve mental health and wellbeing for staff and students, social and emotional learning, special education and mainstream subject based work.”
While the popularity of these sorts of wellbeing programs may spark cynicism that ‘mindfulness’ is a buzz word and these awareness courses are a trend, most people who encounter mindfulness training are convinced the evidence gathered from children and adults practicing these skills can improve mental and physical health, their outlook and the health of the wider community.
In a 2006 study, parents of children on the autism spectrum were taught mindfulness a 12-week course. Results showed “mindful parenting decreased their children's aggression, noncompliance, and self-injury and increased the mothers' satisfaction with their parenting skills and interactions with their children,” (Singh, Lancioni, Winton et al, “Mindful Parenting Decreases Aggression, Noncompliance, and Self-Injury in Children With Autism”, Volume: 14 issue: 3, page(s): 169-177 published: July 1, 2006).
Clinical psychologist and mindfulness consultant Dr Richard Chambers, said about mindfulness programs: “Evidence shows that primary-aged children who practise meditation are more focused and resilient,” (https://www.kidsmatter.edu.au/health-and-community/enewsletter/mindfulness-made-easy, accessed August 2017).
The positive evidence for mindfulness training is overwhelming, there is no downside to learning to be present, focused and aware. Both children and adults can be taught skills to improve their mental and physical wellbeing, which has a positive impact on their own lives and those of the surrounding community.