When I go into schools to train teachers and help them incorporate mindfulness and yoga into the school day, I hear a common refrain from school counselors, principals and staff: they tell me young children are under more stress and have higher anxiety than they’ve ever seen before.
So I did some research, and learned that anxiety in our children is a serious problem. In a study of more than more than 10,000 adolescents by the National Institute of Mental Health, it was found that about one in every four to five youth in the U.S. meets criteria for a mental health disorder. (link to study) The most common type of these were anxiety disorders, with a lifetime prevalence of 31.9%, and these types of disorders also had the earliest median age of onset - AGE SIX.
The conclusion of the researchers was that these results highlight “the need for a transition from the common focus on treatment of U.S. youth to that of prevention and early intervention.”
Fortunately we have the tools to help anxious kids, and every kid: simple, age-appropriate mindfulness practices, practiced consistently. They cost very little, if anything, are simple to implement, and they have a positive impact quickly. It’s never been more important.
I’ll be addressing this issue and more in my upcoming TEDx talk: “Bite-Sized Mindfulness: A Simple, Powerful Way for Kids to be Happier and Healthier.” (Local friends, I’d love your support! It’s on Saturday, October 21 at 1 PM, Miller Symphony Hall in Allentown. Tickets at tedxlehighriver.com.)