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Developing mindfulness with children and young people: a review of the evidence and policy context

Katherine Weare (Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Southampton, Southampton, UK and Honorary Visiting Professor of Psychology at the University of Exeter, Exeter, UK)

Journal of Children's Services

ISSN: 1746-6660

Article publication date: 14 June 2013

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to explore the growing field of the teaching of mindfulness to young people, looking at its social and policy context, its applications, and other areas of work that it might support and within which it might fit. It focuses particularly on the state of the current evidence for such teaching and the conclusions that can be drawn from it.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper is a literature review, drawing mainly on the 20 or so significant and good quality studies (i.e. those with significant numbers of participants, published in peer‐reviewed journals) that make up the evidence base for mindfulness and the young, along with some comments on the policy context into which mindfulness can and might fit.

Findings

Work on mindfulness with young people is popular with both staff and students, has a developing presence and can be effective in promoting a very wide range of outcomes. When well taught and when practised regularly, it has been shown to be capable of improving mental health and well‐being, mood, self‐esteem, self‐regulation, positive behaviour and academic learning. There are many possible promising locations for mindfulness within mainstream education and the health services, including work to improve on mental health and well‐being for staff and students, social and emotional learning, special education and mainstream subject based work.

Originality/value

Mindfulness is a new and growth area. Work with adults is well developed with a convincing evidence base, but work with the young, although developing rapidly, is much younger and this review is one of only a handful attempting to bring it to wider professional awareness.

Keywords

Citation

Weare, K. (2013), "Developing mindfulness with children and young people: a review of the evidence and policy context", Journal of Children's Services, Vol. 8 No. 2, pp. 141-153. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCS-12-2012-0014

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited