Mindfulness - What is it and how it can help my child?
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is about paying attention to whatever you are experiencing in the present moment. It could be what you are seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, smelling, thinking and feeling. Mindfulness practice is also about accepting our experience without judging or labelling it, i.e., without thinking that the experience is “good” or “bad” / “right” or “wrong”. For example, if we apply mindfulness on times when we fall down on our knees, we can mindfully attend to the sharp sensation on our knees instead of thinking about how "unlucky" we are or how "bad" this experience is.
Mindfulness is sometimes being mistaken as meditation. Though mindfulness originates from meditation principles, we may not need to meditate in order to practise mindfulness. Mindfulness is in fact a secular (non-religious) practise that helps strengthen our mind, just like how we do physical exercise to strengthen our body.
How is Mindfulness helpful for children /adolescent?
There are several studies that shows positive psychological benefits for children and adolescents. A review of some of the studies found that children and adolescents who practised mindfulness regularly have the following benefits:
better coping with anger3
less anxiety symptoms4
Mindfulness for children/adolescent with Autism Spectrum Disorder
For adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), there was a study5 which shows a reduction in anger and aggression in the adolescents when mindfulness strategy was used, i.e. to shift their attention to their soles when they are feeling angry.
I find this practise helpful particularly for children or adolescents who has little awareness of their bodily symptoms. In such cases, it may be hard for them to detect that they are getting angry and apply effective anger management strategies in time before the anger escalates further. Hence, mindfulness practise may come in helpful in developing this sense of awareness of their bodily state.
Mindfulness activities can be simple and can be practised by young children as well, with positive outcomes shown in as young as 6 years old children. Do check out this blog for further information about mindfulness practice.
Check out our latest mindfulness programme for adolescents!
1) Napoli, M., Krech, P., & Holley, L. (2005). Mindfulness Training for Elementary School Students: The Attention Academy. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 21(1), 99-125.
2) Wall, R. (2005). Tai Chi and mindfulness-based stress reduction in a Boston Public Middle School. Journal of Pediatric Health Care, 19(4), 230-237.
3) Singh, N., et al. (2007). Adolescents with Conduct Disorder Can Be Mindful of Their Aggressive Behavior. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 15(1), 56-63.
4) Semple, R., Reid, E., & Miller, L. (2005). Treating Anxiety with Mindfulness: An Open Trial of Mindfulness Training for Anxious Children. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy, 19(4), 379-392.
5) Singh, N.N., Lancioni, G.E., Manikam, R., Winton, A.S.W., Singh, A.N.A., Singh, J., & Singh, A.D.A. (2011) A mindfulness-based strategy for self-management of aggressive behavior in adolescents with autism. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 5, 1153-1158.