Mindfulness training shown to improve children’s attention

Children illus

New research carried out by Dominic Crehan and Dr Michelle Ellefson at the University of Cambridge shows mindfulness training may improve children’s ability to concentrate.

The study was presented on 6 September 2013 at the British Psychological Society’s Cognitive Developmental Psychology Annual Conference at the University of Reading. The results have not yet undergone the ‘peer review’ process, in which outside experts scrutinise the data prior to publication in a medical journal.

30 girls and boys aged between 10 and 11 spent 40 minutes a week following the course which was led by a teacher they knew well. Each week covered a different aspect of the course.

  • Week 1 – directing the attention
  • Week 2 – calming the mind and cultivating curiosity and kindness
  • Week 3 – recognising worry and noticing how your mind plays tricks on you
  • Week 4 – stepping out of auto-pilot and being here, now
  • Week 5 – bringing mindfulness to daily activity
  • Week 6 – stepping back and watching the thought-traffic of your mind
  • Week 7 – understanding stress and befriending the difficult
  • Week 8 – pulling it all together, and course evaluation

The children were split into two groups and took the course at different times. This allowed the researchers to compare the groups and see whether the technique made any difference.

The results indicated that an improvement in the children’s ability to focus and deal with distractions was associated with the mindfulness course.

The study could have significant implications for children with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), to be investigated with further research.

 

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