At one level, it concerned Goldie that American children rarely smiled – a stark contrast to children in Third World countries who smiled a lot despite experiencing incredible deprivations.
Goldie was also concerned about school-age children needing psychological help to deal with anxiety and stress.
School-age children have their own direct sources of anxiety – such as performance expectations of parents and teachers, peer acceptance and sibling rivalry. Performance expectations can relate to academic performance, achievement in a sporting arena or meeting career expectations.
Self-generated anxiety in children can be compounded by parental anxiety and stress – generated by economic downturn and associated job losses, the threat of terrorism and career stresses.
Anxiety in parents is contagious and can contaminate the emotional life of children. They, in turn, carry their accumulated anxiety and stress to school and bring home anxieties from school experiences, including bullying.
The recent suicide death of 14 year old, Dolly Everett, because of online bullying, highlights the pressures that kids are under from peers. Dolly was a bright, happy and caring child who was subjected to cruel, cyber bullying.
This form of devastating peer presure carried out via mobile phones and social media, is one of the many stresses that school children today have to deal with.
What Goldie has done through her MindUP™ program is expose children to brain science and enable them to understand their own emotions and reactions. She has also given them a common language to express themselves via metaphors, e.g the amygdala as a “dog barking”.
Another key feature of the program is “mind breaks” – a simple process focused on breathing that enables the children to learn how to calm themselves. As they grow in mindfulness through mindful practice, they are able to attain calmness and clarity and better manage their lives at home and school.
As Goldie points out, she is giving school children the tools to be positive and caring leaders of the future:
They are going to be able to manage their emotional construct, their reactivity, to become better listeners, ideate better, problem solve better, and have some dignity, some level of humanity that they have learned through their early education.
Children need mindfulness to equip them to better manage the stresses of day-to-day living and to have the resilience to handle bullying behaviour.
By Ron Passfield – Copyright (Creative Commons license, Attribution–Non Commercial–No Derivatives)
Image source: Courtesy of GoranH on Pixabay