Saskatoon

Prof offers ABCs of mindfulness as Sask. students return to the classroom

Adam Stacey, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Saskatchewan, thinks that children should return to class with skills in mindfulness.

Parents can help teach children to be in the present moment

One University of Saskatchewan professor says parents can help children learn mindfulness skills at home. Above, students meditate during Mindful Studies class at Wilson High School in Portland, Oregon. (Gosia Wozniacka/Associated Press)

One University of Saskatchewan professor thinks there is a special tool that is helpful to all children, but you won't find it listed on a back-to-school supply list.  

"We think about kids as being small adults and that's really not the case," said Adam Stacey.

"Kids are not going to react to stress in the same way that an adult would."

Stacey, an assistant professor in psychology at the University of Saskatchewan, suggested that children should return to class with skills in mindfulness.

"Mindfulness means paying attention to the present moment, without efforts to judge it or to change it," explained Stacey— essentially, letting the moment be without trying to impose our will on it, he said.

It's back to school this week and a new school year has many students feeling excited. Some, though, will feel anxious. Ongoing stress can lead to anxiety and depression, so it's good to know the warning signs and have the tools to overcome those fears. University of Saskatchewan psychology professor Adam Stacey says we can give our kids some mindful skills to help them throughout the year. He spoke with Saskatoon Morning's Jennifer Quesnel. 6:11

There is a good body of research that suggests practising mindfulness can help people cope with stress, anxiety and depression. Pausing to be in the moment can also help children better recognize and understand strong emotions.

5 things

Stacey has some simple instructions for parents who might be trying to teach their younger children mindfulness skills.

He suggested that asking children to recognize and make note of things in their immediate environment can help them rest and focus on the present moment.

"It's very, very hard to do that with your mind also on the bully at school, or your mind on your homework," he said.

Stacey suggests particularly with younger children, you can help them be mindful by asking them to think about:

  • Five things they can see.
  • Five things they can hear.
  • Five things they can touch.
Assistant professor Adam Stacey says parents can teach their children to be more mindful, either through direct instruction or by example. (CBC)

Never mind monkey mind

For some children, non-stop intrusive thoughts seem impossible to calm. Stacey's advice for parents is to ask children to try taking some time to be mindful, and then try again.

If kids see you being present, then they are going to want to do the same thing.- Adam Stacey

"It's just like a muscle, so the longer you practise, the stronger those techniques are going to become."

When all else fails, Stacey suggested that leading by example might be the best way for parents to teach children to become more connected to mindfulness.

"If your kids see you being present, then they are going to want to do the same thing."

With files from CBC News and Saskatoon Morning

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