Children need mindfulness to cope with stress and anxiety, say practitioners

May 26, 2021

Children need mindfulness to cope with stress and anxiety, say practitioners

Julia Prescott. Photo: Mildred Armah

Children as young as six need mindfulness to cope with stress and anxiety, according to two mindfulness practitioners.

Stephanie Ikinofo is starting a six-week after-school programme designed to teach children aged six to 11 yoga and mindfulness.

The mindfulness sessions will begin at the Vitality Lab in Morningside this June.

As a former primary school teacher of three years, Ikinofo says “most schools are not teaching mindfulness and it's important.

“Kids learn a lot about every other topic but themselves.”

Mindfulness is a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you're sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment.

She says, “It's also a practice that brings us into the present and when we are in the present, we are happier, and when we're happier we're kinder.”

Ms Ikinofo says her programme is about empowering and normalising feelings such as stress and anxiety and providing children with tools and skills they can use to manage.

“I normally cap the programme at around 12 kids so I can have enough one-on-one time with the kids because it's just me. I also get some kids with ADHD who require a little more attention.

“I can really see the benefits of mindfulness, helping kids to regulate their emotions, their feelings, their thoughts, getting them to be present, empowering them with tools and skills they need to manage difficult and challenging situations,” she says.

Schools should incorporate mindfulness into their curriculums, according to Julia Prescott, a mindfulness meditation and energy health practitioner.

“There’s no age young enough to really start. I have children who come to my practice and I always in incorporate mindfulness into the session. They respond really well to it,” she says.

“It’s the younger the better, to start teaching somebody how the mind works. Especially for young people who have very busy minds, always have screens in front of them and are always thinking.

“They don’t stop to realise they are not their thoughts.”

Ms. Prescott says mindfulness is like taking your mind to the gym.

“For a young child, a lot of them, their minds are racing. They’re thinking of all sorts of things.

“It’s taking that time to stop, put a bit of distance between the thoughts, analyse what sort of thoughts are coming in and having techniques they can use to calm all that down.” She says.

Stephanie Ikinofo’s six-week programme will begin from June 2.

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