Q. My ‘lively’ 11-year-old girl is being offered mindfulness classes. Could you explain what mindfulness is and how it could help my busy child calm down a little? Sasha, Wiltshire
Modern day stresses are forcing our children into becoming mini adults too soon. You may see your daughter’s behaviour as high spirited, but she could be acting up due to anxiety about social and academic expectations.
Experts suggest mindfulness sessions could help children cope better with the pressures of 21st-century life. Dr Danny Penman, author of Mindfulness for Creativity: Adapt, Create and Thrive in a Frantic World (Piatkus) explains: ‘Mindfulness is very effective for children and is now starting to be taught in schools across the UK. The programmes developed by the Mindfulness in Schools Project significantly reduce anxiety, stress and depression in children. It also enhances academic performance.’
That’s not to say you should leave all the work to the school, my daughter and I often listen to mini meditations on the Buddhify app. Dr Penman suggests,
‘Run children ragged in the outdoors as much as possible. I don’t believe you should try and teach – or force – kids to focus. They are children and their minds work in a different way to ours. Instead, why not encourage them to follow their own curiosity? Playful curiousity is at the heart of mindfulness.’
He adds, ‘I think we need to get away from the obsession with raw academic performance. Creativity holds the key to personal success. In the future, those who are more creative will succeed because they are quick thinking and adaptable. This holds true for economies too. Recent studies show that mindfulness significantly enhances creativity and clarity of thought.’