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Adding this to family life can boost your child's well-being, research says
Experts say that adding this type of activity to family routine can have lasting positive impact on a child, from improving relationships to boosting relaxation, calming anxiety and helping school performance. It's also reportedly very simple. - photo by Lois M Collins
"Mindfulness" is more than a buzzword that's promising great benefits to adults and children alike. Experts say that adding mindful activities to family routine can have lasting and specific positive impact on children, too, from improving relationships to boosting relaxation, calming anxiety and helping school performance.

Mayo Clinic describes mindfulness as the "act of being intensely aware of what you're sensing and feeling at every moment without interpretation or judgment."

It notes that "spending too much time planning, problem-solving, daydreaming or thinking negative or random thoughts can be draining. It can also make you more likely to experience stress, anxiety and symptoms of depression. Practicing mindfulness exercises, on the other hand, can help you direct your attention away from this kind of thinking and engage with the world around you."

Key to being mindful is paying attention, focusing on breathing and looking at familiar things in new and enlightening ways, according to the article.

Best of all, writes Huffington Post's Lindsay Holmes, it's also not complicated to figure out and it offers great benefits.

"Research suggests that a mindfulness practice can reduce stress and improve sleep quality. It may also aid in a childs academic performance and help young ones with ADHD. On the flip side, anxiety is not just an adult concern. It can immediately and negatively affect a childs health and well-being, a problem that can last through adolescence and into adulthood. Engaging in mindfulness may be able to combat these negative feelings when they arise," she notes.

The Greater Good program at University of California Berkeley reports that "mindfulness is good for parents and parents-to-be: Studies suggest it may reduce pregnancy-related anxiety, stress, and depression in expectant parents. Parents who practice mindfulness report being happier with their parenting skills and their relationship with their kids, and their kids were found to have better social skills."

It notes the history of the practice, including some important changes. "Though it has its roots in Buddhist meditation, a secular practice of mindfulness has entered the American mainstream in recent years, in part through the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn and his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, which he launched at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1979.

"Since that time, thousands of studies have documented the physical and mental health benefits of mindfulness in general and MBSR in particular, inspiring countless programs to adapt the MBSR model for schools, prisons, hospitals, veterans centers, and beyond."

The site also offers not just history, but how-to, with different videos demonstrating mindfulness techniques to get families started.

Here are five reasons to consider mindfulness to benefit children, according to UC Berkeley:

  • Studies show mindfulness in schools reduces aggression and boosts learning.
  • Mindful eating reduces obesity rates.
  • Kids who practice mindfulness are better at social interactions
  • They are also more altruistic and empathetic.
  • It fights depression.
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