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Mindfulness Matters!

a mindfulness program for children and teens

Mindfulness Matters

 

Mindfulness Matters is a course for children and young people age 5 to 19

Children and adults are continually bombarded by all kinds of stimuli. We all have a lot going on! In order to be grounded in this day and age, it is essential to be able to relax and have the skills you need to calm a ‘mind full of thoughts’. It is good to know how to deal with emotions, both  pleasant and unpleasant, without either being dragged along by them or having to ignore them. This reduces stress and autopilot reactions, whilst increasing self-confidence and happiness. With an unstressed mind children are able to learn better, and when they can organize their mind they will be able to find what they need with ease.

Mindfulness Matters is an 8-10 week awareness training course for children and young people.  The course has been taught to primary and secondary aged children the world over for the past few years, and has recently been introduced in various settings in Hong Kong.  Based on the core principals of the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course which is available for adults, Mindfulness Matters can benefit children in many ways.

Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment, without judgment. More simply, it is purposefully bringing attention to what is being experienced.  For children this is helpful as learning mindfulness techniques can help them to create space, to change impulsive reactions to thoughtful responses, and to be calm when before there may have been stress.  Research is also showing cognitive and academic improvements for children practicing mindfulness.

Duration of the training course

This nine week training course teaches children of ages 5-11 (ten (10) weeks for teenagers aged 12-19) how to be mindful or attentive. The lessons take place once a week at a set time on a set day. In addition we invite participants and parents to practice short exercises throughout the week.  Parents may continue with further exercises after the course.

Courses include a CD of 11 guided exercises or meditations and “Sitting Still Like a Frog”, by Eline Snell a book recommended for parents and children. Teens will also have access to the Sitting Still app.

The Benefits of Mindfulness for Children and Young People

What do children learn with mindfulness

Concentration

  • Children learn to concentrate on what they are doing at that particular time without being distracted.
  • Concentration is achieved through breathing exercises.
    • Children who learn to focus on their breath or “sitting attentively like a frog” learn to notice their distractions, what distracts them, and then how to come back to what they should be doing.

Emotions

  • Understanding emotions and where these emotions project in the body – the mind-body connection
    • The Mindfulness Matters program teaches children to name and understand emotions such as fear, anger, sadness, anxiety, as well as the positive one’s like love, happiness and joy.
    • They learn to name the emotion and where it is felt in the body. We may experience anger in the stomach but children have many wonderful ways of explaining where their emotions are and what they look like.
  • Mindfulness encourages them to recognize and accept their emotions and not to be carried away by them.
    • They then have the ability to transfer this knowledge to new situations like: starting a new sport that they may not be good at yet; going to a new class; doing a presentation for the first time.

Presence – focus

  • Children learn to be present in the here and now. They learn to work the attention muscle.
  • Presence also opens our hearts and minds to acceptance. Acceptance of what is happening now and not idling in the past or ruminating about what might happen in the future.
    • Acceptance does not mean accepting when something bad is happening to them like bullying or worse. Learning mindfulness helps children to understand that when these things happen to them, it is not their fault, and they are more likely to report the incident than ruminate or worry about it.

Confidence

  • Mindfulness teaches children to be non-judgemental of themselves and others.
    • By removing judgement children can be more confident in their actions, how they speak, and how they feel.
    • The actions of the trainer reinforces the non-judgement element. The Mindfulness Matter program, like other mindfulness programs, encourages and allows participants to be open in sharing their feelings, thoughts and experiences.  The trainer and all participants in the group offer non-judgemental acceptance of all that is shared within the group, and the children embody it throughout the course.
  • Enhances self awareness and self-kindness as well as kindness to others.
    • As the children learn to respect others point of view they also discover that they are not their thoughts and as a consequence they are kinder to themselves and others.
  • Helps children with conflict resolution as they become aware of others views and are respectful and accepting of them.
  • Reduces bullying and anger / fighting in the play-ground and with siblings

Improves memory, creativity and independent thinking

  • Mindfulness has been shown to directly support the development of cognitive and performance skills in children and improve executive function.
    • When children learn to be more present in their day to day lives, and less anxious, they find they are able to pay attention better and improve skills and performance, whether in the classroom, on the sports field or in a creative endeavor.
  • The Mindfulness Matters program encourages creativity through the various exercises as children learn to explore their emotions and name them.  They tend to use these skills in other areas at school, at home and in life.
  • They have the opportunity to discover the extraordinary in the ‘ordinary’ as we use exercises to open their senses.

The state of research into the effects of mindfulness for children is now significant and fast approaching the volumes that we have seen in relation to adults, with outcomes for children similar to the findings in adult studies.  The effects of mindfulness meditation and mindful activities have been studied for the past 30 years, however the past 10 years has seen this work grow from just 50 studies to 549 in 2013.

In summary, research conducted throughout the world in schools, in private groups, and through coaching and counselling has suggested these positive outcomes for children and young people:

  • Reduced stress, anxiety and aggression
  • Improved concentration and academic performance
  • Increased happiness, enjoyment with school and school based activities
  • Increased sense of belonging
  • Improved executive function and impulse control
  • Improved emotional regulation
  • Increased empathy and kindness
  • Relaxation, calmness and better quality of sleep

Youth Voices

In this 3-minute video, teens share how mindfulness helps them to handle stress by living more in the present moment! We thank “Mindfulness For Teens” for making this available:

Read more comments from our students on our Praise page

Trainers

Digist.Angie Bucu certMindfulness Matters is a group-program tailored to different age groups and conducted by certified child trainers, trained by the International Academy for Mindful Teaching (AMT).

The course handbook, containing exercises and teaching materials is divided into clearly set out lessons, guides the trainer throughout the course.  Some of the exercises are also available on the CD and are easy to use at home.

The Mindfulness Matters program has been developed by Eline Snel, a certified mindfulness trainer. In addition to traveling the world to ‘train the trainers’, she regularly gives conducts Mindfulness Matters courses herself, which has resulted in her vast experience and expertise with children.

For current course availability see Courses. We also run parent and teens information workshops regularly.  Refer to our workshop page for details of these workshops.

Mindfulness Matters course application / inquiry form 

Trained-To-Teach-dot-B

Angie is also trained to teach the .b (dot b) from the Mindfulness in Schools Project.  The .b course for 11-19 year old secondary students is conducted in the school environment either in class or as an extra curricular activity.

 

For more mindfulness based resources for children, parents and teachers see our resources page

 

Mindfulness in the press:

Mindfulness exercises and practices are increasingly being used by young people and adults to help them in times of difficulty and stress.  In recent months I have been asked to offer some tips and guidance on bringing mindfulness to daily life with young people.  You can read these articles at the links below:

Youth Mindfulness: Inspiring Young Minds – The Unique Asia Schools Guide, 7th ed

Train your brain with these mindfulness tips to help you stay focused – Youth Post (SCMP) (March 2016)

For more information about the training course contact Angie Bucu on angie@ingredientsofwellness.com