While practicing mindfulness, children learn how to build self-awareness and compassion for themselves as well as others around them. Practicing compassion and caring for others is key to building better relationships and emotional well-being. During this process, children also learn to cope with stressful situations, regulate emotions, relax and focus better so they can concentrate more easily. Learning to still one’s mind and breathe correctly can help to manage anxiety and sleep problems. Mindfulness not only decreases stress, but also increases happiness!
Practicing mindfulness has benefits on both psychological and physical health. Some benefits include:
- decreased anxiety and depression
- increased coping skills
- improved learning ability and memory
- improved self-esteem
- improved immune function
- reduced physical stress responses
- better sleep
Along with these health benefits, mindfulness also helps us as teachers by:
- Helping us understand our own emotions– it’s hard to consciously shift our focus from what needs to be done to what’s happening in the present moment. However, when we’re wrapped up in the anxiety of “what comes next,” we are more prone to reacting to disruptive behaviour, rather than realizing that that student may just need help self-regulating. Mindfulness can help us recognize our emotional patterns and regulate how we behave and respond to situations.
- Helping us set up a better learning environment for our students – Mindfulness helps us realize that we can can control how we communicate and behave. That we can set and reinforce expectations and limits. It is important that we control the physical classroom space so it supports learning.
- Helping us strengthen our relationship with students – giving students our full mindful attention, even for a short period of class time, gives them the message “I see you.” Making connections with students lets them know that we value them as individuals.
Teaching children mindfulness gives them the ability to adjust and deal with the stressors they can often face every day. Teacher stress can also be a problem for students – stress impacts learning and hurts the quality of education in the classroom. Students learn better in more positive, less stressful environments – that’s why mindfulness is so important for everyone.
I’ll leave you with this idea (brought to you by an anonymous source): “Mindfulness matters because what we pay attention to shapes our brain.”
Next up: Creating a mindful space in your classroom