You cannot buy happiness, but you can always help your children to become happiest in the world. The verdict from recent studies is in: Mindfulness and meditation makes children kinder to their classmates, sharpens their brains and helps them to perform better in the classroom.

Mindfulness is a popular meditative practice in which you train your mind to focus on the present. When you are mindful, you respond with reason before emotion. You’re aware of how you are responding to a situation. Research shows that mindfulness can help curb depression and anxiety.

Meditation fosters inner peace and relaxation. This claim has been supported by decades of research showing changes in brainwave patterns during meditation.

Numerous psychological studies have now focused on the effect of mindfulness and meditation on young children. In a study led by Willem Kuyken of the University of Leister in the UK, 522 young people aged 12 to 16 in 12 secondary schools either participated in a mindfulness program or took part in the usual school curriculum. The researchers reasoned that the 12-16 age range represents a key developmental window for self-regulation and is a period when young people need to negotiate many academic and social stressors for the first time. At the end of the 9-week mindfulness program, the students who participated in it showed lower depression, less stress and better wellbeing than those taking part in the usual school curriculum.

A University of British Columbia study examined the effect of a mindfulness program on 99 Grade 3 and 4 children who were randomly assigned to the program. Their results undoubtedly showed that the program not only improved cognitive skills but also led to significant increases in social and emotional competence and wellbeing.

In the US, three years after a mediation program was implemented at a troubled middle school, suspension rate dropped from 28% to 4% and teacher turnover plummeted. In another US study 41% of meditating middle school students gained at least one level in mathematics on a state standardised test. A separate study found that children who practised mindfulness scored 15% more than their peers who didn’t participate.

© Surendra Verma 2018

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