Mindfulness is referred to as the new science of health and happiness. Mindfulness and meditation programs are emerging as powerful ways to calm down kids, sharpen their brains and make them kinder to their classmates. These mindfulness techniques appear to work in kids before they’ve even met their first fraction. In an ongoing study at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, scientists are teaching preschoolers yoga poses and meditations, and after just two weeks of practice these kids have better attention, awareness, gratitude and happiness compared with a control group of children. “What’s amazing is that this brief exposure appears to be so powerful,” says lead researcher Simone Nguyen, a developmental psychology professor at the university. “A few minutes of breathing, a few minutes of paying attention to the moment are appearing to make a difference.”
Children tend to be more open minded than adults and less entrenched in habits (smartphones, social media) that distract from the present moment. Techniques like this seem to work for kids all the way up to high school seniors. Other research hints that Transcendental Meditation leads to improved graduation rates: 15% higher, one study found.
Here’s what the science says about kids that practice mindfulness on a regular basis:
Studies show that kids are more kind
Fourth and fifth graders who participated in a mindfulness and kindness program showed better social behavior than their peers and were less aggressive and better liked.
Kids had better math scores
The mindfulness group had math scores 15% higher than their peers. In a separate study, 41% of meditating middle school students gained at least one level in math on a state standardized test.
Fewer ADHD symptoms
Even third-graders can get Zen. Eight weeks of mindfulness and yoga resulted in fewer ADHD symptoms and less hyperactivity and the effects lasted for months after the program ended.
Three years after a TM meditation program was implemented at a troubled middle school, suspension rates dropped from 28% to 4 % and teacher turnover plummeted.
At an elementary school in Richmond, California, teachers reported better focus, self- control, class participation and peer respect in kids who followed a mindfulness program, compared with their levels before the program.
Just nine lessons of a mindfulness program led to lower depression scores, less stress and improved well-being in British kids ages 12 to 15 compared with students who didn’t participate in the program.
Back to school for our kids could include teaching them mindfulness practices at home. Allowing them time without technology and teaching them mindfulness practices, such as yoga, meditation and art therapy skills.
If you want to learn some powerful tools about “mindfulness” and bring these techniques into your home, join our year-long Emotional Health program beginning Sept. 6/7. These skills can help you and your family grow and develop together in finding new levels of happiness and better physical and emotional health.