Mindfulness: A Powerful Tool to Help Your Teen or Tween Thrive
We like to think of the teenage years as idyllic. But if you’re the parent of a teen or tween, you know that crossing that bridge from childhood to adulthood involves a multitude of changes—physical, emotional and social—that can create a perfect storm. Mindfulness can help teens and tweens survive—and better yet, thrive—in the face of this storm.
Few forces of nature rival the volatility of a teenager’s emotions. One minute, your daughter is laughing at a hilarious meme a friend added to a group text string; the next, she’s hysterical because her hair looks too poufy (“Mommmm, I told you I needed that shampoo we saw at the salon!”).
Overseas and here in the U.S., more and more schools are recognizing the benefits of mindfulness on student’s mental health. Our team presents a practical and successful Mindfulness 101 workshop at area schools, businesses and community organizations. Visit our video library to watch our weekly Mindful Monday videos for quick mindfulness tools for you and your whole family to use.
At Robert W. Coleman Elementary School in Boston, traditional detentions have been replaced with mindfulness meditation techniques. And the entire student body kicks off the school day with a 15-minute yoga-meditation session. The school’s principal reports impressive results, including zero suspensions since introducing the program in 2016.
The British government recently announced that mindfulness will become part of the core curriculum in hundreds of its schools as part of a study proving its positive impact on student’s mental health.
The mindfulness movement is gaining steam because it works. At a particularly volatile time in their lives, mindfulness can help steady the sails, increasing their overall wellbeing, the quality of their relationships and performance in school.
How Mindfulness Can Help Your Teen or Tween Thrive
Regulate their emotions: Mindfulness teaches teens and tweens how to recognize and accept their feelings, without personalizing them (“I’m feeling anger” versus “I’m angry”). Teaching kids to label their emotions—without judgment—allows them to work through them in a positive way.
Develop self-confidence: Understanding their emotions (which often feel out of control, to them as well as you!) is very empowering for teens and tweens. As they start feeling more in control of their feelings and behaviors, they develop greater self-confidence.
Sleep better: Mindfulness teaches tweens and teens how to quiet the monkey mind and let go of worries. When their brain can rest, so can they.
Get higher grades: By practicing mindfulness, tweens and teens can choose what they worry about, limit procrastination and stay focused. Mindfulness also helps quell test anxiety as they learn how to notice nervousness and wade through it positively.
Focus their attention (and manage symptoms of ADD/ADHD): By detaching from thought, noticing distractions and practicing the return to the present moment, mindfulness is an excellent tool for maintaining focus and attention.
Cultivate and maintain healthier relationships: Relationships in tween and teens years are already subject to enough drama without emotional outbursts. When teens can regulate their feelings, their relationships hold more understanding and less reactive impulses. [this feels sloppy...not sure exactly how to say this]
Practice good judgment and decision-making: If you’ve ever wondered why in the world your teen or tween would ever (fill in the blank!), it could be because the pre-frontal cortex of the brain—which plays a huge role in judgment, decision-making and planning—isn’t fully developed until around age 25. By training teens and tweens to practice the pause, mindfulness equips them to create an intention response rather than an impulsive reaction. Especially one they might later regret.
Build resilience: In understanding their emotional currents, mindfulness helps tweens and teens bounce back quicker after an especially emotionally volatile episode. Observing their feelings, getting curious about them and building compassion helps recovery and allows them to get back on track more quickly.
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Viktor E. Frankl
Introducing your teen or tween to mindfulness is one of the most powerful ways you can empower them. Mindfulness cultivates both awareness and acceptance. It teaches teens to be present. It trains them to be intentional. And it reminds them that they’re in control of their emotions—not the other way around.
There are many ways to introduce mindfulness to teens and tweens. At Reset Brain + Body, we incorporate a variety of exercises and strategies into our individual and group mindfulness training options. If you think your teen or tween could benefit from mindfulness training, contact us to learn more about our individual integrative counseling and therapy options. We also offer a variety of group yoga and mindfulness workshops aimed specifically at teens, tweens and families.