Mindfulness with Children: A Brief Introduction
Mindfulness is the purposeful practice of paying attention to the present moment without judgment. Mindfulness requires being aware of what is happening within and around you. Practicing mindfulness can help to relieve anxiety and promote happiness at any age.
There is a growing body of research which has pointed to numerous positive outcomes from practicing mindfulness, including reducing stress, improving attention, and increasing one’s capacity to regulate emotions. Those who practice mindfulness also experience an increased ability to feel compassion and empathy.
MindUP is a science-based mindfulness curriculum developed by The Hawn Foundation. Teachers have been trained to implement the curriculum in classroom settings. The Hawn Foundation reported that of the children who participated in MindUp, 80 percent showed improved optimism, self-concept, self-regulation, and self-management. 75 percent of these children demonstrated improved planning, organizational skills, and impulse control, as well as less reactivity.
Children are often highly receptive to mindfulness techniques. One important factor in this propensity for mindfulness is that children lack preconceived notions about the practice. The opinions children form about mindfulness have much to do with how the concept is first introduced to them.
Another significant factor in why children are well-suited to mindfulness is the rapid development that happens in the prefrontal cortex throughout childhood. The prefrontal cortex is the area of the brain responsible for cognitive control, focus, personality expression, decision making, and moderating social behavior. As such, children have much to gain from forming habits of peacefulness, kindness, curiosity, compassion, and empathy. Once acquired, this unique skill set will serve them throughout adulthood and inform the way they self-regulate and cope with adversity.
Mindfulness plays an integral role in the wellness theme at Innovators Camp. Our campers will be encouraged to take opportunities to tune into the present moment throughout their experience at iCamp. However, mindfulness is something that campers need not wait until their first day of camp to start practicing.
Here are some great resources to help introduce mindfulness into any family rhythm:
Peace Out Podcast
This podcast offers calming stories that guide children to relax, breathe, and visualize. The stories provide easily accessible self-regulation and mindfulness activities.
Mindful Parent, Mindful Child by Susan Kaiser Greenland
“The surest way to raise a mindful child is to be a mindful parent,” teaches Susan Greenland. Mindful Parent, Mindful Child offers thirty short mindfulness practices to easily implement into your family’s lifestyle and daily routine.
Mindful Games book + activity cards by Susan Kaiser Greenland
A huge collection of tried and true mindfulness activities for children of all ages!
Even Superheroes Have Bad Days by Shelly Becker
This great read for 4- to 8-year-olds has vibrant illustrations and a captivating story about feeling big emotions and finding ways to cope when feeling overwhelmed.
Mindful Me: Mindfulness and Meditation for Kids by Whitney Stewart
Mindful Me provides 9- to 12-year-olds step by step instructions to thirty different breathing, relaxation, and guided meditation exercises. It’s a resource to keep referring back to as young people explore self-care and mindfulness techniques.