So how well does mindfulness work with healthy children and teenagers?
One study found that teenagers who had participated in a mindfulness training programme reported feeling more positive than a comparative group of teenagers who had not (Schonert-Reichel and Lawlor, 2010) . Wall (2005) taught 11-13 year olds over a 5-week period a combination of mindfulness techniques (sitting meditation and mindful eating) and Tai Chi. The children reported feeling calmer, less reactive, more relaxed and having better sleep. Another study followed 137 girls at a secondary school following a school-based mindfulness programme over six sessions. They found that the girls showed reductions in self-reported negative feelings, tiredness, aches and pains, and they were more likely to have feelings of calmness, relaxation, and self-acceptance.(Broderick and Metz, 2009).
Research also suggests that mindfulness training can improve attention and memory. When students practice mindfulness, they learn to focus, sustain and shift their attention, which has obvious benefits in terms of school work (Napoli et al, 2005; Zylowska et al. 2008).
So what does a good mindfulness programme for older children and teenagers involve?
A good mindfulness programme will teach the following:
-To recognise the signs and symptoms of stress.
-To understand the link between their thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations.
-To be able to accept their emotions and thoughts without judgement.
-To be able to regulate their emotions.
-To be mindful when carrying out everyday tasks.
-To be mindful when interacting with others.