Mindfulness is paramount in helping children and adults relax the central nervous system. There is a lot of research that shows how mindfulness can be helpful to children and many adults too. It doesn’t have to be a daily mediation or yoga practice, but a few mindful minutes a day can help your child get calm and focused. The children and teens I’ve worked with who practice mindfulness have more control over their actions and behaviors.
Mindfulness is so helpful for everyone, especially children. It helps them feel control over their body, even in small doses it can relax the nervous system and leads to long-term behavior change. Mindfulness and mediation is a form of training one brain to slow down. In fact, 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 – our experiences can actually transform our brains, the way exercise can transform our bodies.
Give Them The Right Mindfulness Resources
Mindfulness is paramount in helping children and adults relax the central nervous system. There is a lot of research that shows how mindfulness can be helpful to children and many adults too. It doesn’t have to be a daily mediation or yoga practice, but a few mindful minutes a day can help your child get calm and focused. Often teen’s I’ve worked with who practice mindfulness have more control over their actions and behaviors.
TEDxTalks for Mindfulness
1. 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. This TEDx talk by Dan Siegel, author of Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain, has a great demonstration that 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). The hand model reveals 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. And that can lead to better decision-making – it allows for a mindful pause, a skillful response instead of an unthinking reaction. I’ve shown this video to kids and teens all of whom seem to appreciate it.
2. Founder of the Inner Kids Program, Susan Kaiser Greenland teaches attention, Balance and Compassion for TEDxStudioCityED. She adapted adult meditation practices for kids, seeing a marked improvement in their capacity to focus, calm themselves, and manage stress. She is also the author of The Mindful Child.
Books on Mindfulness & Teaching Mindfulness:
YouTube Videos for Stress Reduction and Mindfulness
More Resources for Your Family
Here are some great resources to help your child’s Parasympathetic Nervous System (the breaks in their brain and body) get the attention it needs. Studies show that brain breaks that activate the PNS (Parasympathetic Nervous System) reduce anxiety, hyperactivity and increase focus.
1) Stress Free Kids Channel on YouTube
2. Guided Relaxation Scripts: Green Child Parenting has some great ones for bedtime and during the day.
3. Active Relaxation Activities: Swimming Stuffies by Pedia Staff (this site has great activities throughout)
4. Self-Regulation in the Classroom (or in your home): Corkboard Connections.
6. Another great place to teach mindfulness to kids is Mindful Magazine.
7. Learn more about the benefits of mindfulness and yoga in stress reduction in kids: here.
8. The Left Brain Buddha has some great tips for parents.
With so many resources, you can better help your child or teen (or yourself) overcome stress through relaxation and mindfulness.
By Emily Roberts MA, LPC
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