Today’s world is more challenging for children. Technology and American culture have increased the pace we are living. The immediate gratification they receive through video games provides a neurological dopamine hit of pleasure; but ultimately, causes youth to be less patient and resilient to distress. Social media and television glorify reactiveness and drama, teaching children to do the same in their interactions with peers and adults. The constant false posts of “my life is totally wonderful,” is making youth feel inadequate and defective.
Kids are seeing and participating in more violence and bullying; sometimes they are fearful to go to school. Children feel more disconnected communicating mostly through texts. Some youth feel pressured to do everything; with daily extracurricular activities competing with additional homework. Many are not getting the recommended eight or more hours of sleep. Loneliness, anxiety, depression, and suicide are on the rise.
How mindfulness can help. Many schools are now using mindfulness to help children focus and calm. Mindfulness is a training of the mind to focus on the present moment without judgment. Scientific studies have found that it can improve focus, self-control, and behavior in the classroom. It has also been shown to reduce anxiety in children.
Why is it important to learn to focus on present moment? A worldwide study of adults showed that the human mind wanders about half the time. We are not where our bodies are. When children experience any kind of distress or trauma, their minds wander even more. The side effect of coming back to the present moment, which is usually all right, helps them calm.
Mindfulness also teaches nonjudgmental awareness. Bringing a gentle acceptance to whatever is arising in the present moment can relieve stress. It’s not that anything goes… discernment is important; but judgment of self and others is not helpful to anyone.
Through mindfulness classes, your child can learn to:
- Return to the present moment when they drift
- Be a better listener
- Notice their thoughts and decide whether they are helpful and true
- Embrace imperfection
- Understand emotions and how to be with them
- Develop compassion for self and others
- Show generosity
- Practice gratitude
- Become aware of and take care of their needs
- Enlist outside help
Teaching mindfulness to your children can be one of the best practices you engage in as a family. Not only will the tools be beneficial to young kids, but adults as well. For further information on how to bring mindfulness into your school, family, youth group, or to your child, contact Dr. Ann Friedman at (713) 524-8253, ext. 107.