Promising Research on Mindfulness for Kids (

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Mindfulness trains our brains to respond in ways we choose instead of always in a default manner, which often is a knee-jerk reaction from the reptilian part of the brain. This is especially pertinent in situations that bring up stress or conflict. For instance, if a child has learned to use violence to react to feeling scared, mindfulness can help him or her become aware of this habitual behavior and the feelings underneath it, and ultimately rewire the reaction to a constructive and positive one.

Although the field of mindfulness in education is still young, there has been a flurry of research on the effects of mindfulness in classrooms, juvenile detention centers, and other youth-based centers. Most of the research is still in preliminary phases, but the results are pointing to the promising goals we all hope for. Positive attributes such as the ability to emotionally self-regulate, demonstrate empathy, pay attention, and exhibit improved executive functioning go up, while destructive tendencies such as impulsivity, violence, and stress go down.

  • A mindfulness-based stress reduction program, adapted for teens, found that those receiving MBSR self-reported reduced symptoms of anxiety, depression, and somatic distress and increased self-esteem and sleep quality.

  • In juvenile detention centers, one study showed significantly reduced hostility and emotional discomfort in its incarcerated population after mindfulness training. These incarcerated youth improved in interpersonal relationships, school achievement, and stress after going through the training.

  • In a groundbreaking study, it was found that β€œmindfulness training improved both GRE reading comprehension scores (by an average of 16%) and working memory capacity, while simultaneously reducing the occurrence of distracting thoughts during the completion of the GRE and the measure of working memory”.

To read more of Daniel Rechtschaffen's article, please click here.


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