“My child suffers from anxiety and has been having issues at school. Can mindfulness help?”
“My child battles with low self-esteem and we recently found out that he is being picked on at school. He’s starting to become really nervous about going to school. Can mindfulness help?”
I am constantly being asked these questions by concerned parents that genuinely want the best for their child. According to Children’s Mental Health Ontario, the most common type of mental health problem in children is anxiety disorders. This disorder is present in 6-18% of the child population. When their stress and anxiety is ignored, children find themselves unable to cope with daily challenges as they get older. The results can be devastating.
So the question remains, “Can mindfulness help?”
To shed some light on this question I bring you the words of an 11 year old mindful tween. And within her words, you may, perhaps, find some answers.
“I started learning about mindfulness three years ago when in grade 4 and I've been doing it ever since. First at home, and then my grade 5 (and grade 6) teacher started teaching us in class. To be honest, at first, I thought it seemed pointless. I thought, "I already know how to be calm. Why do we have to learn this mindfulness stuff." At that point I didn't even know what mindfulness was, but it wasn’t long afterwards that I noticed a change in myself and that I was actually becoming more aware of my feelings and emotions. That was kind of cool.
Mindfulness has not only taught me how to recognize how I feel, but it has also showed me how to manage those feelings properly and in a healthy way. I've learnt to think before I react and that has come in handy, especially this past year, in grade 6, when I was bullied. I lost a lot of my confidence that year and I started feeling really self-conscience about myself. I hated doing presentations in front of my class and I was afraid of what my friends, my peers and my teachers thought of me, but especially my peers. Mindfulness helped me to find the real meaning of why I was feeling this way and that was because I was letting this bully get power over me by not standing up for myself and getting upset, which was the reaction this person wanted. Throughout the school year this bully bullied me more and more and eventually (because of mindfulness) I stood up to him more and more.
Mindfulness has been with me for a long time and it has made me who I am today. It has taught me how to calm down, to be more focused, it also taught me to not worry about what other people say about me and best of all, how to respond to situations, ALL situations, especially stressful situations.
I feel that I have my true identity now and I'm so much stronger and more confident. I'm glad mindfulness is in my life and I hope it will stay in my life. I'm going into grade 7, new school, new teachers, new routines, new classes, new friends and (hopefully not) new bullies. I’m a little nervous, but most excited. Deep breath, and relax, I still have one month left of summer.”