As part of #mentalhealthawarenessweek, we wanted to give you even more reason to practice mindfulness. With this weeks theme of connecting with nature, we want to encourage you to take 10 minutes of your time to sit with your child and practice a calming mindfulness session.
Here are 5 reasons to encourage you to give it a go:
1. Habits are easy to form as kids, and hard to break as adults
Half of all lifelong mental health conditions exhibit signs before the age of 151. It’s even more distressing to realise that the Children's Society found proper interventions for managing these conditions were provided to only 30% of children and adolescents. It's no secret that children pick up habits better than adults. This means that it is harder to unpick unhealthy thoughts and patterns of behaviours than it is to teach healthy strategies at a younger age.
2. Managing difficult situations with grace
There are numerous studies that have shown that children who make small healthy changes to their habits receive amazing benefits to their daily living. Regarding behaviour, one study showed that daily meditation helped 57% of one group of children respond more calmly in situations where they would normally react with anger. Being able to practice this skill at a young age can lead to better team working and leadership traits that are necessary for personal development.
3. Stronger family dynamics
Something that is often overlooked is the fact that parenthood is never taught. As such, we as parents are often thrust into difficult dynamics with our children. Another study showed that movement-based therapy such as yoga and Tai Chai helped children manage conditions such as ADHD manage their impulsive behaviours by up to 30%. This study also found that parents who participated in these activities found happier relationships at home.
4. Better quality school life
School life today is very different to anything we were used to. Kids can now use their smart devices to complete work in record time. But at the same time, average attention span has dropped to just 8 seconds.
Daily mindfulness has shown improvements in the school life of many children. One study suggested that focus was improved by 16% and another that 23% of children were able to show more compassionate behaviour amongst their friends.
5. Improved sleep
What's keeping your child awake at night? Is it the monster under the bed or the blue light from their screens? Whatever the case, research shows that mindfulness-based exercises significantly increase sleep time, reduce insomnia and lower pre-sleep arousal levels.
In such a fast-moving world that many would find overwhelming and hard to keep up with, it is great to see that there are simple practical steps we can take as parents to help our children better manage their daily environments. It’s even better to recognise that these strategies may not only improve behaviour for our kids but also our personal relationships with them as well.
1. Kessler RC, Berglund P, Demler O, Jin R, Merikangas KR, Walters EE. (2005). Lifetime Prevalence and Age-of-Onset Distributions of DSM-IV Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey
Replication. Archives of General Psychiatry, 62 (6) pp. 593-602. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.62.6.593.
2. Children’s Society (2008) The Good Childhood Inquiry: health research evidence. London: Children’s Society.