DSC05867“The percentage of children aged 5-17 using antidepressants more than doubled between 1993 and 2003, according to research by Kaiser Permanente.” 

According to the Department of Health & Human Services, mental health problems affect one in every five young people at any given time, and the rate of depression among adolescents may be as high as one in eight. Researchers have also found that among 9- to 17-year-olds, as many as 13 of every 100 young people have an anxiety disorder, and these children often have more than one disorder.”

 “A University of California, Los Angeles study found second- and third-graders who practiced “mindful” meditation techniques for 30 minutes twice a week for eight weeks had improved behavior and scored higher on tests requiring memory, attention and focus than the nonmeditators.

Another study of more than 3,000 children in the San Francisco Unified School District found a dramatic improvement in math test scores and overall academic performance among students who practiced transcendental meditation, a form of mediation that promotes relaxation and “an awakening” of the mind.

The study also found a decrease in student suspensions, expulsions and dropout rates, ABC News reported.

And other recent studies have demonstrated the ability of “mindfulness” techniques, especially those used in meditation, yoga and tai chi, to reduce impulsiveness, control emotions and ease stress.

Children today are certainly more stressed out than their parents likely realize.

One in five children said they worried a lot or a great deal about things going on in their lives, and more than 30 percent admitted to such stress-related symptoms as difficulty sleeping, according to the American Psychological Association’s annual Stress in America report.”

 “Three leading universities of U.K. said that mental exercises similar to Buddhist meditation improves attention span in children and helps them cope with the stress and perform better in exams.”

 “These findings are likely to be of great interest to our overstretched schools which are trying to find simple, cost effective, and engaging ways to promote the resilience of their students – and of their staff too – at times when adolescence is becoming increasingly challenging, staff are under considerable stress, and schools under a good deal of pressure to deliver on all fronts.

 ‘This study demonstrates that mindfulness shows great promise in promoting wellbeing and reducing problems – which is in line with our knowledge of how helpful well designed and implemented social and emotional learning can be.”

 “Topping the district in disciplinary suspensions, and with overcrowded classrooms creating a nearly impossible learning environment, overwhelmed administrators are left with stark choices: repeating the cycle of trying to force tuned-out children to listen, or to experiment with timeless inner practices that may provide them with the social, emotional, and attentional skills that they need to succeed,” the site says.”

 “Davidson is a neuroscientist and was a longtime “closet meditator” before he combined his passions to become the world’s leading expert on the scientific study of meditation.

 He’s not the subject of Free the Mind, but his ideas propel this compelling film forward, drawing the viewers into his twin studies of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Iraq War veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.” :

 “Unfortunately, little ones aren’t immune to the damaging effects of stress — but they may benefit from stress-relieving practices meant to calm the mind and release physical tension.

 Mindfulness — the focused awareness on the present moment, generally cultivated through a meditation practice — can help to curb kids’ impulsivity, and research has also shown school mindfulness programs to be effective in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety among adolescents.

With a growing body of research supporting the health benefits of mindfulness training, for the past few years, advocates have been hoping to see these programs become more prominent in school curricula. In a 2010 blog, Susan Kaiser Greenland, author of The Mindful Child, argued for nothing short of a “mindful revolution in education,” saying mindfulness programs can aid kids in developing good habits that will help make them happier and more compassionate.”

 “In fact, studies have shown relaxation training to be the most effective treatment for externalizing disorders like ADHD in children (Weisz, McCarty and Valeri, 2006).

Simple techniques like breathing exercises, muscle relaxations and visualisation can all help children calm down, focus, be still, and best of all -children will learn that they DO have control over their emotions and behaviour.”

 “While they might not be worried about work or money, there are plenty of other things that can stress them out – relationships with their friends, bullying, school work and family issues are high up on the list of things children worry about.

Which is where meditation comes in.

It can help kids find a calm place when they feel anxious and help them to become peaceful after spending an afternoon running around the playground.”