This week, I read a disturbing news report about the increasing use of medication for children (aged 12 or younger) who are being prescribed anti-depressants.
“It found that the number of youngsters aged 12 or younger on anti-depressants has risen by 27% over the last three years.” BBC News July 2018
Then on social media someone shared an article with a similar message in the USA.
“Rates of depression and anxiety among young people in America have been increasing steadily for the past 50 to 70 years. Today, by at least some estimates, five to eight times as many high school and college students meet the criteria for diagnosis of major depression and/or anxiety disorder as was true half a century or more ago.” Dr. Peter Gray, a research professor at Boston College
So there are 3 things that concern me most:
- children are being diagnosed with depression
- increasingly medication is being used so for such young (and developing children).
- that there is a waiting list for access to psychological help for kids with mental health issues
Why is creativity important to teaching meditation?
Since 2003, we’ve been teaching adults how to help kids and teens practise meditation.
What’s interesting is the way that we adults (initially) approach the idea of teaching kids meditation.
- Some of us look for a ‘mindfulness wand’ that we can use (metaphorically speaking) to calm our children.
- Some of us want to analyse and dissect meditation; how it works, the benefits, why bother teaching it.
- Some of us think that it’s good for kids to learn it because we practise and thus try to teach our kids meditation in the same style/manner of our meditation practice.
The fact that you are even interested in teaching a young person these life skills (in our opinion) is amazing! The intention to offer this to young people is a gift and at Connected Kids, it’s our passion to leave this legacy for future generations.
But often we may attempt to teach children and find that either:
Creating a space to teach mindfulness to kids with autism
We were asked a question about the types of tools people could use if they wanted to teach their kids (who are on the autistic spectrum) how to feel calmer and less stressed using mindful activities.
” I will be moving into a purpose built unit for children with autism shortly and I have to kit out the sensory room. I’m wondering if you can suggest anything in particular that would be beneficial.”
We write about this subject all the time…particularly in the 2nd book – “Connected Kids‘.
However we have taught thousands of people how to teach kids meditation, and thought that many of our Connected Kids Tutors would have great, practical advice.
We were right!
Here are some wonderful ideas that may help your kids on the spectrum bring their energy back into balance with meditation and mindfulness.
A simple meditation idea to teach 5-year old kids (inspired by my Goddaughter – Libby!)
How to teach kids of all ages how to meditate
If you would like to learn how to create your very own meditations for kids/teens try our Connected Kids level 1 course – online or in-class) (This is the gateway to our professional level)
Or find ideas and tips in our book Calm Kids (beginners) or Connected Kids (working with special needs/anxiety).
Meditation CDs for children/teens >>>
The heart speaks mindfully
I was really moved by this video.
I think it speaks volumes about how we can raise awareness and how to help children be part of the conversation about the future.
With all my heart I believe that if we teach children meditation, they find that mindful voice just as Meghan Markle has done in this powerful video.
When a young person finds that voice within, it teaches us adults how to hear them from our heart, mindfully, as they shine their light on what needs to change in this world.
Like me you have probably become aware of the #MeToo campaign which highlights the level of sexual harassment that women experience throughout their lives.
As we can see, it has been an underlying epidemic that females have tolerated for thousands of years in all areas of life.
But I’m uncomfortable with the idea of saying #MeToo and adding my voice to social media.
I don’t deny that I’ve had some unsavoury and traumatising experiences growing up that I would rather forget. My yoga and meditation practice has (and continues) to help me heal from this.
However the #MeToo campaign leaves me hanging. It feels a little bit like watching a tragedy on the news and feeling helpless to ease the pain of those involved. I observe friends saying #MeToo on social media and then I start to worry and wonder about them and their experiences.
It also hangs guilt and shame on the wrong shoulders – of the decent boys, teens and men who don’t want to treat women that way. Perhaps If I were a man, maybe I would lower my gaze and no longer feel confident engaging with females.
But if I sit and reflect on the #MeToo campaign through my meditation practice, I have a sense that …
Mindfulness and the holidays
The summer holidays can be a long time to spend with your kids.
You love them but your whole routine can change and even though holidays are meant to be enjoyable, they can be a little bit stressful too!
So here are some tips and ideas to help you keep up your meditation practice and help your kids practise mindfulness during the summer break.
(Photo courtesy of Jennifer Furtney Miller – “Here is my 5 year old son meditating in the pool. Trying to compose himself during a conflict with his 7 year old sister. We love this photo. He often joins us at 6am to meditate too. Namaste.”) Continue reading
One of my friends is an experienced mindfulness teacher.
She sent me her weekly newsletter and within that there is mention of Dr Rick Hanson – the psychologist – with a link to one of his excellent presentations.
It was so good I thought I would include it in my regular blog (see below).
But it got me thinking.
Dr Hanson talks about the importance of him learning meditation skills, especially to help him recover from the difficult times he had growing up – you know the regular growing pains most of us go through and the feeling of not fitting in or being quite good enough.
He talks about how mindfulness has helped fill the ‘hole in his heart’ that these experiences created. Continue reading
(Guest blog written by one of our Connected Kids Level 1 Students from Denmark…)
Many children with ADHD have difficulty falling asleep at night, and parents of children with ADHD often see that their children rarely seem to be rested when it is time to go to school.
When children go to school or kindergarten feeling tired, it means that their internal battery is not fully charged. They get into conflict more easily, find it harder to stay focused, and their emotions are unstable because of a poor night’s sleep.
At the moment the world is quite a turbulent place. If we think our children are too innocent or immune to the stories coming out in the media each day – think again.
Every time we listen to the news on the radio, watch it on TV or surf social media and the internet when our kids are around – they absorb what they hear and see. Even if they don’t understand it.
So we have a choice. We can either shield children completely from the world around them (but how do we stop this going on in the playground at school, sometimes in the classroom and at sleepovers?) Or we can help them build their resilience and cope with the ‘bad things and people’ in this world. Continue reading