Mindfulness Increases Attention Skills in Children
October 13, 2013
A brief mindfulness training program improves children’s ability to tune out distractions and focus better.
The study was performed by University of Cambridge researchers, Dominic Crehan and Dr. Michelle Ellefson. Results were reported in September of 2013 at the British Psychological Society’s Cognitive Developmental Psychology Annual Conference at the University of Reading.
Dominic stated, “Mindfulness involves paying attention in a particular way — on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally. It has been shown to reduce levels of stress and depression, and to improve feelings of well-being, but to date researchers have not established a link between mindfulness and attention skills in children.”
Thirty children (girls and boys aged 10 – 11 years old) participated in mindfulness training during the school day. There were 2 groups trained at separate times to allow the researchers to compare the groups and measure the effects of the training.
Participants’ levels of mindfulness and attentional skills were measured before immediately following training and three months after the training. This way changes in attention skills were tracked over time.
The results showed that an improvement in the children’s ability to focus and deal with distractions was associated with the training in mindfulness.
Dominic stated, “The ability to pay attention in class is crucial for success at school. Mindfulness appears to have an effect after only a short training course, which the children thoroughly enjoyed! Through their training, the children actually learn to watch their minds working and learn to control their attention. These findings could be particularly important for helping children with attention difficulties such as ADHD. Further research on the effects of mindfulness on children’s attention is very much needed.”
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British Psychological Society (BPS) (2013, September 5). Mindfulness training improves attention in children.