Teaching Mindfulness to Your Teen

troubled teens

 

Mindfulness (noun) – “A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations.”

Your teenage daughter may not be the first person you think of when you read the definition of mindfulness. This practice and therapeutic technique have been shown in many studies to be beneficial. In this study, for instance, shows that mindfulness-based interventions with children and teens are both feasible and widely accepted by those participating.

As one of the best female boarding schools, Greenbrier uses mindfulness as part of our relationality-based therapeutic techniques, helping students cultivate empathy, concentration skills and impulse control. How do we do it? And how can you, as a parent introduce this concept to your teen at home? It does take a bit of work, but it can be done with the following tips.

Modeling

Whether they want to admit it or not, teenagers look to the adults in their lives for advice on how to behave and act. They may not come right out and ask you if they are behaving correctly for the situation, but they will listen and watch your reaction and mimic it when the time is right.

For this reason, modeling is one of the most important parts of teaching your daughter mindfulness. If she’s going to take it seriously and actually use it to manage stress and overcome challenges in her life, she needs to see it in action.

Use an App

According to Common Sense Media, the average teenager spends about four and a half hours a day using a smartphone. Why not take advantage of some of that time? There are several apps that will act as timers for mindful meditation and breathing. Teens love keeping track of their time with colorful graphics and fanciful alerts that indicate when they are finished.

There are also apps that involve short quizzes with hot-button words teens can select to describe how they are feeling.

Be Ready to Offer an Explanation

“How am I going to use that in real life?” Teens are full of questions and are a bit stubborn when it comes to what they will and won’t do. At our boarding school, we address this issue by providing them with real examples of how mindfulness will affect their everyday life. Studies have shown that mindfulness can improve testing ability.

Mindfulness has also been shown to reduce symptoms related to anxiety, panic disorders and depression. How? When it comes to anxiety, many of our anxiety feelings are simply chatter in our head. Mindfulness teaches your teen to be aware of her thoughts and acknowledge them, without allowing herself to get caught up in the negativity those thoughts might bring.

Once your teen understands that taking the time to be mindful can actually benefit her, she will be much more likely to do it.

At our boarding school, mindfulness is an important part of our therapeutic technique. It can be an important part of your teen’s daily life at home too. Model mindfulness, explain the benefits and make it fun.