Today’s fast-paced, digital world pressures children to grow up fast. Instead of running around grassy playgrounds, most of them live highly structured lives, shuttling from one organized activity to the next, often while playing with hyper-stimulating devices. For school-age children, homework, peer pressure, teasing, poor grades, bullying, parental demands and isolation can all trigger stress (White 2012). Kids need coping skills, and mind-body practices that teach awareness and mindful movement can reduce stress, offer playful opportunities for growth and learning, and provide a foundation for a healthy life.

Susan Smalley, PhD professor emeritus and founder of the Mindful Awareness Research Center, University of California, Los Angeles, said, “We do know from research on mindfulness training in children that it can be beneficial to . . . regulating attention, emotion, and/or body states, so it can be seen as a core aspect of learning.” Growing research evidence is emerging from studies of healthy children, as well as of those with issues like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, learning disabilities or conduct disorders.

The following are some of the identified benefits:

  • less aggressive and disobedient behavior
  • fewer feelings of stress and anxiety
  • more feelings of calm, relaxation and self-acceptance
  • fewer symptoms of ADHD
  • better attention
  • less test anxiety and higher
  • academic performance
  • more emotional stability and self-control
  • better social skills and social relationships
  • increased optimism (Tilahun & Vezzuto 2014)

To read more about mindfulness activities for kids, please see “Mind-Body Activities for Children” in the online IDEA Library or in the February 2015 print issue of IDEA Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at (800) 999-4332, ext. 7.


Tilahun, L., & Vezzuto, L. 2014. Mindfulness Practice in K-12 Schools: Emerging Research on Stress, Well Being, and Achievement. Orange County Department of Education. Accessed Oct. 10, 2014.
White, L. 2012. Reducing stress in school-age girls through mindful yoga. National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners. doi: 10.1016/j.pedhc.2011.01.002.

Shirley Archer-Eichenberger, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, is an internationally acknowledged integrative health and mindfulness specialist, best-selling author of 16 fitness and wellness books translated into multiple languages and sold worldwide, award-winning health journalist, contributing editor to Fitness Journal, media spokesperson, and IDEA's 2008 Fitness Instructor of the Year. She's a 25-year industry veteran and former health and fitness educator at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, who has served on multiple industry committees and co-authored trade books and manuals for ACE, ACSM and YMCA of the USA. She has appeared on TV worldwide and was a featured trainer on America's Next Top Model.

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