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Mindfulness and Meditation
Walk in Nature

How can we increase the emotional intelligence of our future generations?

One place to start is with ‘Mindfulness’.  Studies have shown that a mindfulness practice can help reduce symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety in children.  It can also help with self regulation (behaviour and emotions) as well as focus and concentration.  We can also start talking to our children more about how they’re feeling.  teaching them that by naming our feelings we can gain control of them and not be so scared of them.

When children are able to become aware of what is troubling or distracting them, they can seek help more effectively.  Often children who ‘shut down’ or disengage in school become disillusioned, distracted and fail.  But, often the underlying cause for the lack of focus is rooted in stress and anxiety not boredom or oppositional behaviour. When children learn to find ways of coping with stress and recognising and communicating their feelings, they become much better at dealing with the situations as they occur.

Emotional Intelligence is also key to working with feelings of anger, disappointment or shame that can create situations where children display negative behaviours or hurt one another.  Learning how to be more empathic and build positive relationships can strengthen the emotional climate and lead to increased integration and more positive meaningful relationships.

When kids learn to be better at communicating feelings, they are able to verbalise frustrations better which can lead to reduced conflicts with peers, siblings, parents and teachers.  Learning to see the world from another’s perspective can ultimately change the outcome of the relationship.

What is Mindfulness?

According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention in a particular way, on purpose in a present moment and non-judgementally.

Mindfulness also involves acceptance. This means paying attention to thoughts and feelings without judging or reacting to them. When you’re mindful, there is no “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a particular moment.

So, what is Mindfulness and how can it help?

Over 30 years ago, Jon Kabat-Zinn, developed a therapeutic meditation practice known as Mindful Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). Defining mindfulness simply as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally”.

Mindfulness is a meditation practice that begins with paying attention to breathing in order to focus on the here and now—not what might have been or what you’re worried could be. The ultimate goal is to give you enough distance from disturbing thoughts and emotions to be able to observe them without immediately reacting to them.

In the last few years mindfulness has emerged as a way of treating children and adolescents with conditions ranging from ADHD to anxiety, autism spectrum disorders, depression and stress. And the benefits are proving to be tremendous.

Stress reduction and self-acceptance are two of the major perks of mindfulness, benefits which are particularly important during the drama and turmoil-filled teen years. “Emotional regulation, learning how to quieten one’s mind—those are invaluable skills.” Diana Winston (author of Wide Awake).

How can Mindfulness help?

Mindfulness helps kids to focus, be calm, de-stress and develop a curiosity that can help in every aspect of their lives.

I am trained by Youth Mindfulness ( and am qualified to deliver their amazing Youth Mindfulness for Kids Programme – the programme is a 16-lesson introduction to mindfulness for 7 to 11 year olds, with a strong emphasis on experiential learning. It’s 16 one-hour lessons build up sequentially, introducing and exploring new facets of mindfulness with each lesson. The first six lessons focus on cultivating the foundational axioms of mindfulness: intention, attention and attitude. As the course progresses, children then learn to cultivate gratitude, handle difficult thoughts and emotions, and finally develop kindness towards themselves and others. Importantly, the key foundations of mindfulness – i.e. paying attention to the present moment with openness, curiosity and warmth – are continually strengthened throughout all 16 lessons.

Kids on the Shore
Pink Flower

How mindfulness can help your anxious child

Because mindfulness switches you and your anxious child’s perceptions from your swirling thoughts to the sensory perceptions of what’s happening around you, emotional reactions can instantly deflate. An all-consuming panic or tantrum can lose its power in mere seconds, leaving a sense of calm and control.

Anxious children get a whole different sense of being in the world that is far removed from their thoughts and emotions. They can better see what’s going on around them and develop specific skills that help them become more settled, with a steady mind and a steady heart and an overall sense of well-being. Susan Kaiser Greenland (Author of The Mindful Child) adds they become kinder, more compassionate and more generous.

Anxious children are often overly concerned with disasters they think may happen in the future or fear dangers that don’t exist in reality. Mindfulness gently brings the anxious child back into reality to see no danger is present, no tragedy is unfolding, and no disaster is lurking beneath their feet.

Mindfulness can benefit the anxious child by:

  • Bringing attention back to the present, away from worries of the future

  • Reducing stress

  • Breaking the cycle of worry, where one fear feeds on another until it snowballs into full-blown anxiety or even a panic attack

  • Teaching them to identify, become aware of and accept emotions, rather than simply be consumed by them

  • Allowing them to practice awareness and acceptance without judgment

  • Improving their memory simply by improving their ability to pay attention

  • Enhancing their ability to focus and learn

  • Letting them experience and understand their thinking process and how their mind works, both of which can lead to a greater understanding of self and their personal experiences in the world

The Benefits


Improves sleep

Both mindfulness and meditation help retrain the mind and body back into the pre-sleep state where you are just able to notice surrounding without thinking and analysing – just simply experiencing and being. This encourages longer and improved sleep – helping children to ‘switch off’ from the noise of their thoughts and enter into a more relaxed effortless state.

Managing Thoughts and Feelings 

Helping children to stay grounded, observing their thoughts and feelings but not becoming lost or overwhelmed in them. Teaching them how to take a step back and gain a different perspective on their thoughts and experiences – this can be an extremely empowering step, helping them learn how to stay calm, focused, grounded and objective to avoid repeated negative experiences.

Builds Self Esteem  

Helping children learn that whatever happens on the outside, they can choose their response on the inside.

Learning to relax  

Helping the body, mind and emotions unwind – learning to ‘let go’ takes practice but is the first step in being able to then ‘let go’ of unwanted feelings and experiences. Gentle practice regularly helps tune the brain in, allowing it to ‘let go’ of any inner tension that builds up as a result of thoughts and feelings.

Improved Focus and Concentration 

Mindfulness helps children with techniques to keep their minds focused on an object. This could be their breath, a physical object (such as a shell), a word, a sound, a guided journey or any of their 5 senses. Practising focus helps children to stop their mind jumping about and being distracted and allows them to complete tasks more easily. Mindfulness helps them to become aware of their thoughts but learn that they don’t have to respond to them automatically or straight away. Gently encouraging the mind to become stronger and more focused is important for studying. It is also allows children to tap into their own creativity and inner problem solving abilities.

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