By Emily Roberts MA, LPC
There is a tremendous amount of research that shows how mindfulness is helpful for children and many adults. Mindfulness is paramount in helping children and adults relax get get in their bodies. It has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety as well as help support the Central Nervous System. It doesn’t have to be a daily mediation or yoga practice, but a few mindful minutes a day can help you and your child get calm and focused.
Along with medical or natural approaches to healing, including brain chemistry balancing, mindfulness can aid in feeling your best and knowing yourself to a greater degree. People who take time to turn inward are less likely to engage in impulsive behaviors, have more awareness of their bodies cues and more control over their actions and behaviors.
Many children and young adults are fascinated with learning how their brains and bodies work. We can teach them how mindfulness can help their brains function more skillfully. In a TEDx talk by Dan Siegel, author of Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain, Seigel demonstrates what you can use with teens (or even younger kids) to teach them about the parts of the brain using their hands as a model.
The demonstration focuses on three structures of the brain: the brainstem (our “reptilian” brain, responsible for breathing, heart-rate, etc.), the limbic system/amygdala (our “mammalian” brain, involved in emotion and memory), and the cortex (our “human” brain, responsible for thinking and self-regulation). I love using the hand model with clients. It shows how close the amygdala is to the pre-frontal cortex, and how mindfulness can help the thinking part of the brain process the raw emotion of the limbic system. This can lead to better decision making instead of reacting.
We can teach children and teens that mindfulness is a form of training for their brains: meditation has actually been shown to increase gray matter in the portion of the brain responsible for self-awareness and compassion. Meditation can play a role in the neuroplasticity of the brain – which transform our brains the same way exercise can transform our bodies.
Founder of the Inner Kids program, Susan Kaiser Greenland teaches attention, Balance and Compassion with TEDxStudioCityED. She adapted adult meditation practices for kids, seeing a marked improvement in their capacity to focus, calm themselves and manage stress.
Greenland is also author of The Mindful Child: How to Help Your Kid Manage Stress and Become Happier, Kinder, and More Compassionate and talks about how to incorporate mindfulness practices into your child’s life. Greenland’s use of these practices specifically for child presents it in an easy way for them to manage their stress.
Great Books on Mindfulness & Teaching Mindfulness:
YouTube Videos for Mindfulness
Here are a few more awesome mindfulness resources:
Teaching mindfulness to kids from Mindful Magazine
The Left Brain Buddha has some great tips for parents and teachers on mindfulness for teens and younger children.
Benefits of mindfulness and yoga in stress reduction in kids: here
Ways to practice mindfulness with your family: here
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Emily Roberts MA, LPC is the clinical therapist for the Neurogistics Children’s Program. She has worked with Neurogistics for over a decade. Emily is also an award-winning author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Becoming Who You Are, Psychotherapist, TV & Media Contributor, educational speaker and parenting consultant. Express Yourself is available at bookstores nationwide and on Amazon. To learn more about Emily click here.
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