Teaching Mindfulness to Teenagers

1. Model Mindfulness

We don’t always associate mindfulness with teenagers however there is evidence to suggest it is beneficial, helps them to cultivate empathy, and helps concentration and impulse control.

As a carer you can introduce the use of mindfulness: purposeful, non-judgemental awareness by modelling and showing how you respond to stress rather than reacting to it. Basically they see it in action.

2. What's in it for them?
Teenagers may see mindfulness as completely unrelated to their busy and connected lives. Here are a few research findings that you could share with them:

  • Research shows that students who meditate before an exam perform better
  • Helps to improve concentration
  • Can reduce symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression

 

3. Teach Teens about Their Brain

Adolescents are fascinated about how their brains work. We can teach teens how mindfulness instruction is like getting the owner's manual for their brain

Take a look at Dan Segal’s Ted Talk on Self-regulation:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiyaSr5aeho

Dan explains in more detail the working of the brain, brainstem and the limbic system and the mind Feelings are mentionable and manageable and he covers the three R’s: reflection, relationships and resilience.

He also shows how mindfulness can help the thinking part of the brain process the raw emotion of the limbic system. And that can lead to better decision-making -- it allows a mindful pause, a skilful response instead of an unthinking reaction. Mindfulness can train the brain.

4. Teach Teens about Their Mind

Does your teenager have a monkey mind, constantly jumping around from branch to branch, thought to thought? A lot of anxiety is "in our heads" -- our stress comes from our worrying brains ruminating on all the worst possible scenarios.

 

When we practice mindfulness, we learn that much of the chatter of the mind is just that: chatter. It's not reality -- its worry, its anxiety, and its baseless projection. Mindfulness teaches teenagers to be aware of their thoughts and can acknowledge anxiety, without getting caught up in the negative thoughts it generates.

 

5. There's an App for That!
Here are some meditation apps for teens:

Stop, Breathe, and Think. young people like this app because it opens with a short "interview" where the user selects several words to describe how they are feeling, and then the app recommends guided meditations for their current state.

Smiling Mind. Designed for adolescents and is Australian

Take a Break!  Provides short guided meditations for stress relief.

Headspace: https://www.headspace.com/headspace-meditation-app

 

Taken from an article by Sarah Ruddell-Beach