South Africans are subjected to immense amounts of stress in current times. Our country is rife with political and economic strife, unrest and challenges. Crime, joblessness, and poverty abound. Needless to say, these conditions have a ripple effect and impact on our children in extremely negative ways. It is crucial to investigate ways in which to alleviate not only our own stress levels but those of our children as well.
The performance and emotional wellbeing of stressful children are impacted and they become stressful adults. It is currently not uncommon for young children to be prescribed anti-depressants. An article in the latest “New Therapist” journal states the danger of this. They quote studies that were done at the Nordic Cochrane Centre in Denmark which found that the risk for suicide and aggression in children and adolescents treated with antidepressants is twice as high as that among their counterparts not taking antidepressants.
So, what is the solution in the treatment of painful feelings like stress and anxiety in children and adolescents? An international trend is emerging where mindfulness and meditation are being applied in schools for stress management. It is even proving to be helpful as far as attention deficit disorders are concerned.
Children and adolescents have been shown to be more responsive rather than reactive, more focused and less distracted; calmer and less stressed. Even preschoolers who must learn to regulate their emotions and emotions towards being more successful have benefited.
It has even been proposed that training in mindfulness has the potential to inoculate them against future psychological problems. The beauty of introducing these practices on a daily is that our youth is equipped with lifelong coping skills.
Jill Suttie, book review editor at the Greater Good Magazine quoted the comment of a little boy on his experience of a mindfulness, relaxation breathing exercise similar to the one described in Part 1 of this series on the topic of mindfulness. He said, “I like this class, it makes me calm and soft inside, it makes me feel good.”
Mindful kids, peaceful schools…