In schools all over the country, children who misbehave are faced with the same punishment as generations before them – detention, exclusion, isolation, suspension. Whatever you call it – it’s a staple of the school system both nationally and internationally, and has been for years. True, it is softer than the older methods of corporal punishment, but the theory behind doling out detentions hasn’t changed in decades. The sole aim is to stamp out undesired experiences that the student won’t want to repeat.
But the thing is, it doesn’t really work. When children act up, often it’s not out of an inherent desire to be bad. Instead, it’s usually the result of emotions or situations that feel too big for them, that they don’t have the skills to deal with in a healthy manner yet. And so they lash out. If they are then punished for not knowing how to deal with their feelings, that piles on more stresses and emotions that they can’t handle, and the cycle repeats itself.
But what if there were another option? A way to support students, help them understand and handle their emotions, and give them the tools they need to not repeat negative behaviours? The good news is, there is – meditation
Why Meditation Helps
Meditation as a concept has a lot of benefits for adults, but even more for children. Around 1 in 5 children experience mental health issues, and because of their young age, they often lack the skills and coping mechanisms to identify what is causing them stress and deal with it in a healthy way. This is often why children have tantrums or lash out, both at home or at school.
Meditation can provide a way for children to calm down, centre themselves and find balance and peace in their lives. Living in such a hectic, go go go world, it can be incredibly difficult for children to learn to slow down, breathe deeply and clear their minds – achieving a state of mindfulness. But they do need a space to learn those skills – especially given the rise in children’s anxiety, depression and stress – and meditation provides that.
There is also science behind meditation. Meditation affects different parts of the brain, including the parietal lobe. Activity in the parietal lobe slows down during meditation, which means that children are able to process information and emotions more clearly. Long term, meditation has been proven to increase cortical thickness in the hippocampus – the part of the brain that governs learning and memory, and in certain areas that play roles in emotional regulation and self-referential processing. It also significantly reduces brain cell volume in the amygdala – which is responsible for fear, anxiety and stress. In other words, meditation can help your child develop a healthier, more well-adjusted brain capable of coping with the stress of the world around them.
How Would Meditation In Schools Work?
While it may seem strange, meditation in schools can be easily implemented in place of isolation and detention. Recently there have been many schools that have introduced meditation for children who are misbehaving and seen amazing results. Their approach looks like this:
When a child acts up, they are sent to a Mindful Room. This room is set up with soft lighting and plush pillows, sometimes with soothing music playing in the background. The child is encouraged to sit comfortably and centre themselves through meditation, self-reflection and breathing exercises, with the help of an adult.
While this might sound almost like rewarding naughtiness, the school says it’s seeing increased attendance, reduces suspensions and detentions, and parents are reporting back with stories of happier and calmer children at home. Children who are able to self-reflect, and are more considerate of themselves and their behaviour. In other words, meditation in place of punishment has helped their children learn how to handle their emotions more effectively, and improved their lives overall.
At The Holistic Healthcare Group, we are fully behind the idea of meditation in schools. Children’s emotional wellbeing is just as important as their physical health, and by nurturing it in the educational environment, schools can see a drastic reduction in punishments and an overall improvement in behaviour from their students. That’s why we run a series of programmes specifically designed to support schools in creating conditions where both mental and physical health thrive, and students wellbeing is at the heart of it. Our tailored programs are designed to suit the individual needs of the school, ensuring students have all the information they need to make the right decisions for them – and teachers have the training and support they need to implement programmes like meditation. If you would like to find out more, just get in touch with the team today to book your free consultation.