Mindfulness in Schools
Recently, the BPS research digest has discussed if teenagers are too cynical for mindfulness to work with them. The original research article by Johnson, Burke, Brinkman and Wade, (2017) found that in early adolescence, these participants showed no positive outcomes from mindfulness interventions. They argued this may be because this is not the optimal age-group for a mindfulness intervention.
Other research has found significant implications for mindfulness. It has been found that in children aged nine to thirteen, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy significantly reduced anxiety, behaviour problems and attention difficulties in these children (Semple, Lee, Rosa & Miller, 2010).
van der Oord, Bogels and Pejinenburg, (2011) had similar findings when investigating the effects of an 8-week mindfulness program with children with ADHD and their parents. This research had mixed results with some measures having improved due to mindfulness, mostly parental stress. All of these articles agree that further research into mindfulness is needed to determine how it is best applied to help children in a school setting.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness was defined as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgementally” by Jon Kabat-Zinn (1994). What this means is we are focusing our attention on the present moment without letting anything bother us about how it feels. We can do this through meditation or body-scans, and it can be as short or as long as you would like. You might focus on how your feet feel rested against the floor right now, or the noises your laptop is making.
How does it work?
Mindfulness works by altering the way our brain and body reacts. Staying aware of the present without allowing judgement can focus your brain and reduce the amount of adrenaline in the body. Deep breathing exercises also help slow your heart-rate, helping to reduce anxiety and anger.
In schools, we use a lot of different mindfulness and relaxation techniques for children. These are useful skills to teach a child as they can use them whenever they start to feel anxious or upset.
- Deep breathing
- muscle relaxation
- Guided imagery
Jarrett, C. (2017). Perhaps teens are too cynical to benefit from mindfulness, say authors of latest negative school trial. The British Psychological Society: Research Digest. Retrieved from https://digest.bps.org.uk/2017/09/26/perhaps-teens-are-too-cynical-to-benefit-from-mindfulness-say-authors-of-latest-negative-school-trial/
Johnson, C., Burke, C., Brinkman, S., & Wade, T. (2017) A randomized controlled evaluation of a secondary school mindfulness program for early adolescents: Do we have the recipe right yet? Behaviour Research and Therapy, 99, Pages 37-46, ISSN 0005-7967, doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2017.09.001.
Semple, R.J., Lee, J., Rosa, D., & Miller, L. (2010). A Randomized Trial of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Children: Promoting Mindful Attention to Enhance Social-Emotional Resiliency in Children. Children and Family Studies, 19: 218. Doi:10.1007/s10826-009-9301-y
van der Oord, S., Bögels, S.M. & Peijnenburg, D. J. (2012). The effectiveness of mindfullness training for children with ADHD and Mindful parenting for their parents. Journal of Children and Family Studies. 21: 139. Doi:10.1007/s10826-011-9457-0