Mindfulness in general is best experienced rather than talked about. It is something we “are” rather than do. For children it is all about how the adults in their life model it for them. Children will tune in to our behaviour, indeed model them –because this is how we learn! We copy, we repeat, we observe, we do.
Children of course, are naturally mindful in the way that they live, very much in the present moment and are not so concerned about the past or indeed the future. The most important thing we can do is not squash the natural quality of openness and presence but re-inforce it and invite it to continue to develop.
There is solid and growing scientific evidence that mindfulness is indeed valuable to school age children. Why do you think that is?
Mental health is hitting the news BIG time again this week with Mandy Stevens the NHS director publicly writing about her mental health experience. Mandy Stevens was a mental health nurse then climbing the corporate ladder in mental health in the NHS. She shares in her blog how she spent 12 weeks in mental health recovery as a patient of the NHS.
When I started my coaching journey I didn’t quite realise the massive difference and impact I had on my clients when I coached “in the moment” as opposed to pushing for future actions and vision. Not everyone likes the term “mindfulness” or the picture it conjures up in the minds’ eye. Most people often refer to sitting around for hours, chanting discombobulated stuff and generally not moving, just meditating. I too thought all this mindfulness stuff was rather quirky until I realised the power of my own ability to de-stress, de-clutter and just be.
I’ve spent years studying Neuro Linguistic Programming (when I was a sales & marketing director) and I’m a qualified practitioner, along with my coaching and learning/development credentials. I continue to suppot my learning in Neuro, Clean and NLP coaching through research, reading and CPD events.
More recently (2012) I started to take a real interest in the theory of mindfulness and how this all linked to other “helping therapies”, although I had a really good understanding of it’s practise through my CPD events. To me there are so many cross-overs with approch that it’s hard to extract the core differences.
I really don’t care what “it” is called. I like to call it many different things – like kindfulness, building self-esteem, confidence boosting, appreciation of who we are, appreciation of others, emotional intelligence, stress busting, loving me/accepting me, calibrating stengths, acceptance of our failures, ability to forgive, ability to let go., listening skills…..the list is endless!
Dr Debra Burdick is a world renown author on coaching with mindfulness. I love her approach as it plays to kids needs to have fun, move and be curious! If you haven’t got her book yet “Mindfulness Skills for Kids & Teens” go and get it! It has been one of my best investments and one of the easiest well laid out books I’ve studied for a long time!
Recently I’ve been working with an amazing bunch of kids at our local primary school in South Lanarkshire. We’ve been working with mindful approaches creating a fabulous space for them to explore, enquire and question. We’re having so much fun! They just love it when we come to take our time to stop and just be. Stop and just centre our thoughts on our breathing – literally some of them can’t wait to hit the floor to have our breathing time.
Their feedback is simply amazing. I asked them what do they like about working with Coach Hayley Tennant? Their answers brought tears to my eyes.
“I love the fact that I love me”, “I like to think about how I can be kinder to my friends”, “I know I can calm the storm in my tummy”, “it’s OK to feel the way I do”
My 13 year old boy Nathan says “if people in the workplace were just that little bit more considerate to others, were able to feedback freely and let go of stuff instead of conflict, it’ll all be a happier place” I’ve been coaching my kids since the day they were born. Creating space, exploring thoughts and feelings. Coaching them when the chips are down and building them up when they’re anxious or stressed out. I do all of these things, not by telling them how do it, but by showing them. My hope is that my children can draw upon their inner strength, resilience and mental toughness if anxiety, stress or depression comes their way.
Introducing self-coaching and mindful approaches in all of our schools across Scotland will surely support our kids at this crucial stage so needed as they’re forming their core values and beliefs now. Wouldn’t it be just amazing if we can make a small difference in a our childrens’ lives by showing and exploring how they can coach themselves out of self-harming, crippling limiting beliefs, anxiety, stress and the negative stories they tell themselves and start to believe them?
If you’d like to know more about this exciting journey of our programme please just get in touch with Hayley (Phipps) Tennant.
On facebook: coachHayleyTennant
Linkedin: Hayley (Phipps) Tennant
Blog written by Hayley Tennant
Currently there is a petition in Scotland headed by the amazing Heather Grace Mackenzie. I support her cause and have signed the petition with also sharing it with family & friends to continue to raise awareness. Heather writes in her petition:
“Mental illness is at an all-time high; according to the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH), about 11 per cent of adolescents have a depressive disorder by age 18. Research indicates that one of every four adolescents will have an episode of major depression during high school with the average age of onset being 14 years of age. It is generally accepted that anxiety and depression are amongst the fastest-growing health challenges to our society at present. According to Anxiety UK, anxiety and depression have increased 13% in the UK since 1993, and one in ten children and young people aged 5–16 has a mental health disorder.
In total, 55% of 338 school leaders surveyed by the Association of School and College Leaders reported a large rise in pupils with anxiety and stress. The survey, launched at the Association of School and College Leaders’ (ASCL) annual conference in Birmingham, found that over the past five years:
– 79% of heads saw an increase in self harm or suicidal thoughts among students.
– 40% reported a big rise in cyber-bullying
– 53% of those who had referred a pupil to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) rated them poor or very poor.
I’ve been teaching mindfulness to children since 2012, both in school and family settings. I’m a published author on the subject and am currently studying for a PhD, researching mindfulness and self-compassion within the education system. In addition I am mothering four boys and so this topic feels vitally important to me. I know the difference that learning mindfulness can make to a child’s mental and emotional (and indeed physical and spiritual) health. You don’t have to take my word for it… there’s a rapidly growing body of research that backs me up.
I implore the Scottish Government to please make mindfulness and self-compassion a core part of every child’s Personal and Social Education.
Following the publication of the ‘Mindful Nation’ Report by the Mindfulness All-Party Parliamentary Group (MAPPG) there have been launches in London, Cardiff, Belfast and Birmingham, but nothing in Scotland. This was a cross party effort by our representatives at Westminster and appears to have been taken up enthusiastically across the UK, but not in Scotland.
It’s time to act, or we continue to fail our children as we watch their mental health decline”
If you can support and agree with our kids having access to strategies that will benefit them for the future please click on the link and register your support.