Mental health is high on the agenda with the Royals leading the way in transforming attitudes to mental health with a particular focus on children and young people.And with good reason as 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year and 1 in 10 children between the ages of 5-16 suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder. Parents can experience high levels of stress balancing work and family and children are under increasing pressure to achieve in a world full of screens and social media. Mindfulness is something that can be used to stop stress taking over your life, provide a healthier emotional environment at home and give children skills to recognise worry, anger and inattention in themselves and to refocus.
How does mindfulness help my family?
Stress is contagious and has a ripple effect in the family. Parents who practice mindfulness are happier with their parenting skills, report better relationships with their children and have children with better social skills. Mindfulness teaches the importance to balance “doing” and “being”. Having time to be immersed in something enjoyable, fun or relaxing (“being”) without trying to accomplish anything recharges our batteries. This means when we are back in our “doing” world of achieving and learning, we do it with more energy and focus.
How can my child learn mindfulness, they can’t sit still!
The evidence for the benefits of mindfulness with children is based on the Mindfulness in Schools Project (MiSP). MiSP trains teachers who have learned mindfulness themselves to deliver a series of lessons to children between the ages of 7-18 about the importance of recognizing and regulating emotions. Children are taught to notice when they feel “wobbly” or angry and learn simple exercises to calm themselves so they can make more balanced decisions about how to respond. Early evidence shows students who learned mindfulness at school showed fewer depressive symptoms, lower stress and greater wellbeing with 80% continuing to practice mindfulness techniques 3 months later. There is currently a much larger study being conducted through Oxford University and funded by the Wellcome Trust to study the effectiveness of the MiSP. Children learn very short mindfulness exercises that are fun to do. The practises are different depending on how old they are. Anyone who teaches mindfulness to adults and children will tell you that children are far easier to teach!
How can my family learn mindfulness?
The best place to introduce mindfulness to your family is to learn it yourself by completing the 8 week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course. We have courses available including free information and taster sessions. Once you have learned mindfulness yourself, parenting workshops are available to learn techniques to teach your children.