How Mindfulness helps kids connect in a compassionate way

What is Mindfulness? In simple terms, mindfulness can be defined as the ability to fully experience the present moment, without judging it or trying to repress it. To state more simply, it is a matter of deliberately paying attention to and accepting each experience as it unfolds.

One of the most common ways to become more mindful is to practice for a few minutes each day. Daily practice is a technique in which the breath or an object is used as a point of reference to anchor the mind to the present moment. Thoughts, emotions and sensations may occur but are neither judged nor engaged in, but simply lived, recognized and released. Regular practice helps one become more mindful throughout the day.

MINDFULNESS FOR KIDS

It is difficult for children and young people today to connect with themselves and know what they feel in an environment that is full of distractions, constant stress and multitasking. Being disconnected from their inner experience, kids find it more challenging to make decisions that can really benefit themselves and others, making life complicated and stressful.

In these conditions, it is more difficult to learn the subjects taught in school, experience healthy and satisfying relationships and have a deep, inner life that helps them to be in touch with the best of themselves.

Mindfulness is a tool to help our children regain the more human elements of their personality. This is to create stronger relationships and cultivate an understanding and connection to the world and people around them, leading towards a more compassionate society.

BENEFITS

Increases connection

Kids will learn to manage their negative emotions very early in life, to understand the origin of their anger or their sadness, channeling them in an appropriate way. This will maximize their social skills, their way of interacting, avoiding, for example, situations of violence, discrimination and aggression in the school setting.

According to a Harvard study, students who practice mindfulness connect better with outlier kids. It sharpens their pro-social behavior, making them better beings in life, with more presence, with greater awareness and with greater compassion towards oneself and towards others, relating in a connected and compassionate way.

Reduces bullying

Mindfulness can play an important role in the prevention of bullying, since the recognition of personal emotions, as well as the control of them, will enable the person to know the reactions and sensations that present this type of situations.

By being exposed and imparted with self-knowledge and emotional intelligence in classrooms, victims of bullying are able to face the situation, calming the anxiety produced by bullying. This process also helps aggressors learn to channel the anger that pushes them to negative behavior.

Prevents stress and anxiety

The nature of the mind is to move, jump from one thought to another, go to the past, to the future, usually outside of our awareness. Children (and many adults) are often at the mercy of the whirlwind of thoughts and emotions, leading them to act impulsively without measuring the consequences or evaluating other options. Children go through a lot every day, both at school and at home, causing high levels of stress and anxiety. With mindfulness, kids develop the ability to pay attention, to direct, focus and sustain; thus, the mind finds a place to rest and stabilize, opening spaces and providing the opportunity to relate in a different way to what causes them pain or discomfort.

The practice of Mindfulness decreases stress, anxiety, in can help fight depression, improves learning, work performance, interpersonal relationships and well-being in general.

Serves as a countermeasure to school violence

With the daily practice of mindfulness, kids can improve their social skills in their daily interactions with each other, their teachers and their families. They learn how to control emotions, recognize the feelings of others and reach out.

At school, students with better social skills will be able to connect better with their peers, helping them to recognize those who have issues and need help. They will also be more connected as a community, reducing bullying and helping those who feel like they are “outsiders” be an engaged element in the healthy student body.

Likewise, educators will be better positioned to observe the emotions and behaviors of children every day, thereby allowing them detect problem behaviors and intervene at an early stage.

We must understand that every child or young adult can struggle with doubts, anger and even mental instability at any point in life. As emotions run high, the ability to control one’s actions diminishes. As much as everyone should be accountable for his/her actions, forgiveness is key, as this is the very act by which our humanity is constituted. Rather than push those who exhibit violent behavior away from the community, mindfulness teaches us to understand their struggles and show compassion. This is what makes a community stronger, and ultimately makes schools safer.

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