Mindfulness is a practice that can be supportive, regardless of age. It can benefit many levels of one’s being – the body, mind, and heart – even if only practiced from time to time. Although there are specific benefits that a teen will notice immediately, mindfulness can have long-term, positive effects on one’s life. Furthermore, once your teen learns mindfulness it is a tool that he or she can use throughout life when faced with stress or mental illness.
Mindfulness is the practice of becoming conscious of one’s internal and external environment. It is a mental state achieved by focusing on the present moment, while acknowledging and accepting the existing feelings, thoughts, bodily sensations, and surrounding activity. Today, it is often used as a therapeutic practice among therapists and psychologists to treat their clients.
If you’ve enjoyed a practice of meditation or mindfulness yourself, perhaps you’d like to teach this practice to your teens. As you may be aware, there are many benefits of mindfulness, especially for adolescents. Because teens are experiencing significant growth physically, emotionally, psychologically, and socially, mindfulness can help ease the challenges that may come with these changes. Mindfulness can be a tool for relaxation, coping with stress, and finding a greater sense of inner connection.
Furthermore, Daniel Siegel, clinical professor of psychiatry at UCLA and author of Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain found that there are many benefits of a mindfulness practice, especially for teens. He uncovered that a mindfulness practice could help regulate moods and emotions, achieve emotional equilibrium, and experience resilience.
Here are tips for teaching mindfulness to your teens:
- At first, encourage your teen to set aside 20 minutes of each day to practice mindfulness. This will allow them to become acquainted with the practice. Ideally, these 20 minutes should be practiced at the start of or the end of each day.
- Once your teen is familiar with the practice and experiencing its benefits, encourage your teen to bring mindfulness to their walking throughout the day. This can help integrate the experience of being mindful into their every day experience. A teen might also apply mindfulness while they’re eating as well.
- Talk with your teen about your experiences with mindfulness and encourage them to talk to you about theirs. Discuss the benefits you’re experiencing. Talk about how mindfulness is having an effect on your ability to manage stress.
- Attend mindfulness or meditation groups together.
- Point out to your teen the moments in which they might apply their mindfulness practice. If they talk to you about a stressful experience, sit down and practice mindfulness together for a few minutes.
A practice of mindfulness between you and your teen (and even among the entire family) can also assist with your teen’s ability to focus in school. Daniel Goleman, author of the book, Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence as well as the recent Huffington Post article titled, “The Benefits of Mental Workouts for Kids and Teens”, wrote this about mindfulness:
“Research finds this single ability predicts a child’s adult financial success and health better than either their IQ or their family’s wealth.”
To teach your teens a practice of mindfulness, consider the above suggestions.