Yet More Reasons to Teach Your Anxious Child Mindfulness

math childrenMindfulness can be magnificent for everyone, but especially for anxious children. Our Parents Guide to Teaching Mindfulness to Children outlines myriad benefits that range from breaking the cycle of worry to helping children become aware of, instead of consumed by, their emotions.

These benefits can come from engaging in a mindfulness practice at home with your anxious child. And now one of the first studies of its kind outlined what mindfulness can do when used at school.

Meet the MindUP Program

The social and emotional program of MindUP was founded by actress Goldie Hawn more than 10 years ago. It’s been available for students from kindergarten to eighth grade to pretty much any school that wants it.

While anecdotal evidence and earlier studies gave the program applause, a recent study published in Development Psychology was the first of its kind to look at a variety of scientific measures to gauge the program’s effectiveness.

They found the program to be effective indeed. Results of the study found the program:

  • Helped children become more optimistic and caring
  • Lowered the children’s stress levels
  • Made the children better liked by their peers
  • Improved math scores

The improved math scores can be explained by the improved learning abilities that generally come from a more relaxed and attentive state, such as the one achieved through mindfulness. The mindfulness techniques used in the program involved having children acutely and non-judgmentally focus on the present moment through a series of movement, tasting and breathing exercises.

Study Details

The study was undertaken by a team of University of British Columbia researchers, consisting of developmental psychologists, a developmental pediatrician, education gurus and a neuroscientist.

They analyzed the program’s effectiveness on fourth and fifth grade students at four British Columbia elementary schools. Their gauges included measuring levels of the stress hormone cortisol in children’s saliva samples, peer and self-reporting, and testing cognitive skills.

Earlier MindUP Study 

While the most recent study may have been one of the first to use both neurological and biological measures, earlier studies out of the University of British Columbia can add to the program’s benefits. A previous study undertaken by Dr. Kimberly Schonert-Reichl and Molly Lawlor revealed notable statistics on children who participated in the MindUP program.

  • 88 percent said they could use concepts learned in MindUP in their daily lives at home or school
  • 87 percent became more accepting of other people’s perspectives
  • 82 percent were more optimistic, harboring more positive thoughts
  • 81 percent discovered how to make themselves happy
  • 58 percent became more helpful toward others

 Mindfulness for Life

Incorporating mindfulness into a learning program is one way to expose your anxious child to a regular mindfulness practice, but you can also engage in daily mindfulness activities at home. The overall aim of mindfulness is to become aware of the world around you and your place in it, without harboring any negative feelings or judgment. Your overall goal is to be keenly aware of and accept what is, and that goal comes complete with plenty of benefits.


Photo by woodleywonderworks