While teaching mindfulness to young children can establish beneficial practices that help offset stress and anxiety early on, teens are already on a rollercoaster of emotions and hormonal changes that can lead to elevated levels of anxiety.
“High school is the hardest period of time for kids,” said Bruce Chatard, former principal at Wilson High School in Portland, Oregon, in an article for The Washington Post. The school offers a for-credit, year-long mindfulness class meant to ease youth anxiety and depression. “You’ve got emotional changes, hormonal changes, all the social pressures. It’s also the onset of mental illness for some kids, depression hits, and there’s the pressure of college and sports. All these things kids do is overwhelming without having a strategy to deal with it.”
As parents, we can introduce teens to the practice of mindfulness, but it might take some work to convince them the value of slowing down, disconnecting from their devices, and simply breathing. So how do you get their “buy-in”? Sarah Rudell Beach, creator of Left Brain Buddha.com, says there are a few ways, such as modeling mindfulness, sharing research findings, and teaching teens about their brains and minds work.
“A growing body of evidence suggests that mindfulness practice could be beneficial to teens, helping them cultivate empathy, as well as skills for concentration and impulse control,” Beach says. “In short, mindfulness can help adolescents navigate the challenges of adolescence.”