For too many children or teens, talk and even play therapy feels unhelpful at best, and stigmatizing at worst. But when we can effectively introduce mindfulness into our sessions, we empower kids to transform themselves, allowing them to identify and regulate their emotions and attention using fun, effective exercises.
Here, mindfulness specialist Chris Willard, author of Growing Up Mindful, explains the difference between mindfulness work with kids and adults, and shares two techniques you can use today with children and teens in your practice.
As Willard mentions, there are specific strategies you can use to tailor mindfulness to a child’s diagnosis and developmental stage.
“Harnessing kids’ vivid imagination and sense of curiosity can help them practice mindfulness,” he writes in his Networker article. “Especially when it becomes an activity the whole family can engage in.”
Christopher Willard, PsyD, is one of the world’s leading experts on mindfulness with young people, having trained thousands of professionals and young people on the practice and benefits of mindfulness. He is a psychologist and consultant based in Boston, working individually as well as consulting to schools, hospitals and other organizations. Additionally, he is the author of multiple books on psychology, child development, contemplative practice and more. Dr. Willard is the president of the Mindfulness in Education Network and serves on the board of directors at the Institute for Meditation and Psychotherapy. In addition to serving on the faculty of Harvard Medical School, Dr. Willard leads courses and workshops around the world and online. Dr. Willard is the co-author of The Mindfulness Skills Activity Book for Children (PESI, 2018), and the author of Child’s Mind (Parallax Press, 2010), Growing Up Mindful (Sounds True, 2016) and numerous others. He is also the co-author of the bestselling Growing Mindful (PESI, 2015), Growing Mindful 2nd Edition (PESI, 2019), Growing Mindful Spanish Edition (PESI, 2016), Growing Happy (PESI, 2016), Mindful Reminders (PESI, 2016), The Self-Compassion (PESI, 2016) and Anti-Burnout (PESI, 2017) card decks.
Chris Lyford is the Senior Editor at Psychotherapy Networker. Previously, he was Assistant Director and Editor of the The Atlantic Post, where he wrote and edited news pieces on the Middle East and Africa. He also formerly worked at The Washington Post, where he wrote local feature pieces for the Metro, Sports, and Style sections. Contact: email@example.com.