Children, Family, Parents, Anxiety 3 minute read

The importance of mindfulness for children

There is more science backed evidence for the benefits of mindfulness in easing anxiety than ever before.

We live in a time when childhood anxiety is more prevalent than previously thought.

Thankfully we are realising that teaching mindfulness to children is just as important, if not more important, than it is for adult minds in preventing the symptoms of anxiety from an early age. 

In this article, Jo Stanley one of Melbourne's most loved comedians reflects on her experience with childhood anxiety and how mindfulness practices for children are helping her little girl Willow with her anxiety. She hopes that sharing her experience with other parents will show them the incredible benefits mindfulness can have on their own children.  

image-from-rawpixel-id-11470-jpeg (1) 

There’s a common misconception that life gets harder the older you get. That childhood is idyllic and stress-free, full of butterflies, fairies, playgrounds, ice cream, and not much else.

Adults often behave as though our responsibilities have earned us a monopoly on the darker emotions, like anxiety, stress, depression or just that intangible flatness.

But we know that being young is hard. That kids can be stressed, uncertain and fearful. And most alarmingly for parents, that they can feel this way without us even being aware.

 
Ways childhood anxiety affected me

One of my earliest memories is of my mother taking me to doctor after doctor, seeking an answer for the tummy aches I constantly complained of. Each one examined me, some conducted further tests, all of them reached the same conclusion. My problem was psychosomatic.

I didn’t know what that meant. All I knew was that I was in pain, and no one could help me.

Looking back now I know that what I was experiencing was in fact childhood anxiety.

I eventually grew out of those stomach pains, however throughout my childhood it was labelled many things and manifested itself in many ways. Extreme shyness, self-consciousness, stage fright, a disconnectedness from those around me. I didn’t have the language to explain it, or even the understanding of mental health to know that it was possible to feel different. 

Now as an adult, through many strategies – therapy, exercise, mindfulness – I do know it is possible to be happier and more at peace with who I am.

I’m sad for the little girl that I was. I wish I could reach back through time and hold her and tell it is going to be OK.

In fact, I do this regularly in my mindfulness and meditation practice. But I also am determined to make a difference to this generation’s children, to the kids in my world, to my own precious daughter, Willow.

 
Mindfulness is helping prevent further anxiety

This is why mindfulness exercises for children, and Smiling Mind, has become a regular part of the conversation and play that Willow and I share.

My goal is to build mindful practices into her thinking, so that it is habit and she is prepared before things get rough, before the tummy aches take over.

The great thing is that children are naturally inclined to mindfulness, and the self-acceptance it calls for. Unless someone teaches them otherwise, they are non-judgemental and non-critical – of either others or themselves.

If you get them early enough, a sense of being present is all they know. I have been inspired by watching Willow’s complete focus on the thing she is doing and the moment she is in, with not one thought for the past or future (just try and get a 7 year old to hurry and you’ll know this!).

And their joyful sense of play and imagination connects them easily with the journey a mindfulness meditation takes you on. In fact, we can learn a lot from the way children engage with their mindfulness practice. I have found it to be very moving to watch!

image-from-rawpixel-id-527159-jpeg

 
Making mindfulness for children easy

The free mindfulness and meditation app Smiling Mind has developed is instrumental in mindfulness for children. It has been and continues to be a continued source of growth for Willow’s self-discovery and growing resilience. She is a clever, creative and kind little person, but she is also highly sensitive.

I’m certain that Smiling Mind, and the mindfulness practice that she’s developed because of it, has helped her stay free of childhood anxiety and be the happy little monkey that we’re blessed to have in our lives. It’s a happiness that I express gratitude for every day.

The Smiling Mind app can CHANGE YOUR LIFE.

Want to turn torturous negative self-talk, crippling anxiety, insomnia and strained relationships into self-compassion, confidence, restful sleep and joyful and loving relationships? I did, with mindfulness.

And this app REALLY helped me get there. I first came across Smiling Mind as a way of introducing meditation to my daughter, Willow. The kids’ section of the app is next level amazing. For grown-ups, it breaks down mindfulness and meditation into something that is not only manageable and achievable, but outright addictive.

I’m so excited to be working with Smiling Mind, because I want every one to experience the same clarity, calm and contentment that mindfulness has brought to my life.

 
About Jo Stanley

jo-stanley-mindfulness-for-children-advocate

 
Jo Stanley is one of Melbourne’s most loved comedians, having spent 10 years as one half of The Matt and Jo Show, on Fox FM. At their peak, they were the most listened to radio show in the country, with a record 48 surveys (6 years) at number 1.

 

Jo Stanley

Written by Jo Stanley

Jo Stanley is one of Melbourne’s most loved comedians, having spent 10 years as one half of The Matt and Jo Show, on Fox FM. At their peak, they were the most listened to radio show in the country, with a record 48 surveys (6 years) at number 1. In addition to Jo being one of our ambassadors, she is also an ambassador for the Ronald McDonald House, The Line campaign, The Smith Family and Big Issue, a patron for The Lighthouse Foundation and supports the Salvation Army and the Sacred Heart Mission.

Latest

5 Ways to Support Your Team's Mental Health This October

It comes as no surprise that the combination of public health and economic crises that has occurred over the past year h...

Workplace, Mental Health, Self care, COVID19 3 minute read

Findings from our annual State of Mind report

With the COVID-19 pandemic stretching into its second year, supporting the mental health of Australians has never been m...

Children, Mental Health, COVID19 2 minute read

How to stay motivated when working from home

The once-in-a-lifetime pandemic we are currently experiencing has completely changed the way we live and work. Working f...

Workplace, Mental Health, Self care, COVID19 3 minute read

5 minutes with illustrator, Ben Sanders

Ben spends his days drawing and writing in his little studio in Ballarat, Victoria. Some days he illustrates for interna...

Self care, Informal mindfulness 3 minute read
Quote of the week
“You are the sky. Everything else is just the weather.”
Pema Chödrön

At home

Findings from our annual State of Mind report

With the COVID-19 pandemic stretching into its second year, supporting the mental health of Australians has never been m...

Children, Mental Health, COVID19 2 minute read

Responding to the “hidden” youth mental health crisis

Throughout the 18 long months of the COVID pandemic, a parallel mental health crisis has been growing in the shadows. No...

Children, Students, Mental Health 2 minute read

5 simple ways to get your kids into mindfulness

Mindfulness has many benefits for your mental health, which is equally as important as your physical health. 

Children, Family 4 minute read

At Work

5 Ways to Support Your Team's Mental Health This October

It comes as no surprise that the combination of public health and economic crises that has occurred over the past year h...

Workplace, Mental Health, Self care, COVID19 3 minute read

How to stay motivated when working from home

The once-in-a-lifetime pandemic we are currently experiencing has completely changed the way we live and work. Working f...

Workplace, Mental Health, Self care, COVID19 3 minute read

R U OK? - Getting the most out of checking in

So you asked “R U OK?”, and they said, “I’m fine”. What now?

Workplace, Mental Health, Mindfulness 3 minute read

At school

5 minutes with Principal, Tip Kennedy.

Meet Tip Kennedy. Tip is a principal at Richmond West, an inner Melbourne primary school that recently received its very...

Teachers, Schools 3 minute read

Which Smiling Mind Space is right for your school?

We are all influenced by our surroundings and as we explored in our previous post, the various ‘spaces’ in our lives are...

Teachers, Schools 4 minute read

How a mindful space can support your students

Since 2012, Smiling Mind has supported healthy minds thrive in Australian schools by providing tools that develop life-l...

Teachers, Schools 3 minute read

News

Partnership Announcement - Kmart

We are excited today to announce a new partnership between Smiling Mind and Kmart. Built on a shared vision of a happier...

Mental Health, Media release 1 minute read

Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health System is a game changer for mental health prevention

Smiling Mind has supported findings released today from the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System, speci...

Media release 1 minute read

New mental health program to support 600 schools across regional and rural Australia

As students settle into classrooms for the new school year, leading mental health not-for-profit Smiling Mind has opened...

Media release 2 minute read
Recent initiatives
Screen Shot 2020-11-16 at 3.30.05 pm

NAIDOC Week with Jack Charles