Math, music and then…mindfulness? Meditation classes should be part of the national curriculum to combat the stress of entering high school, experts say
- Most pupils see a decrease in well-being during the move from primary school
- Experts from Cambridge and Manchester studied 11,000 young people in the United Kingdom
- Experts suggested introducing “positive psychology” initiatives into classes
Kids should be given mindfulness classes to overcome self-esteem issues they pick up after they enter high school, a study suggests.
Most students experience a sharp decline in their well-being during the transition from primary school, regardless of their background, researchers from Cambridge and Manchester University found.
A British study of more than 11,000 young people showed that their happiness with friends, school and family dropped significantly between the ages of 11 and 14.
They suggested that “positive psychology” initiatives, such as mindfulness sessions, should become part of the national curriculum to improve their life satisfaction.
Kids should be given mindfulness classes to overcome self-esteem issues they experience after entering high school, a study suggests
Researchers used data from the Millennium Cohort Study, people born between 2000 and 2002, to calculate a “well-being score” for each student, taking into account factors such as economic benefit and bullying.
While most adolescents were satisfied with life at age 11, the majority were extremely dissatisfied at age 14.
At that age, the well-being scores of 79 percent of the participants were below the average score from three years earlier for the entire group.
The study also captured information about the adolescents’ satisfaction with specific aspects of their lives, such as schoolwork, appearance, family and friends.
What exactly is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a popular form of meditation where you focus on being intensely aware of what you are perceiving and feeling right now.
The practice includes breathing methods, guided imagery, and other exercises to relax the mind and body and help reduce stress.
It is often touted as a universal tool for boosting mental well-being by reducing stress, anxiety and depression.
Mindfulness has become popular in recent years as a way to improve mental and physical well-being.
Celebrities endorsing it include Emma Watson, Davina McCall, Angelina Jolie, and Oprah Winfrey.
How can it lower blood pressure?
It is thought that deep breathing helps to widen the blood vessels, allowing more blood to flow through them and lowering blood pressure.
Scientists believe that having strong breathing muscles allows for deeper breathing, increasing the effectiveness of the exercise.
But researchers say it shouldn’t be a substitute for other healthy habits like exercise, which have benefits beyond just blood pressure.
It suggested that the most dramatic declines between ages 11 and 14 were likely related to school and peer relationships, according to findings published in the British Journal of Developmental Psychology.
Ioannis Katsantonis, from the University of Cambridge’s Faculty of Education, said: ‘While this was a large, diverse group of adolescents, we saw a consistent decline in well-being.
‘One of the most striking aspects was the clear association with changes at school.
“It suggests we urgently need to do more to support the well-being of secondary school students in the UK.”
The decline in well-being was mostly related to relationships at school and peers, suggesting a close connection to shifts in the academic and social lives of these young people.
Students with higher self-esteem at age 11 experienced a less significant decline in well-being at age 14, suggesting that efforts to boost it during the early years of high school would help.
Teachers should celebrate student achievement, emphasize the value of things they do well and avoid negative comparisons with other students, they say.
Professor Ros McLellan, a specialist in student well-being, and co-author, said: The link between self-esteem and well-being seems particularly important.
He said: ‘Supporting students’ ability to feel positive about themselves during early adolescence is not a one-size-fits-all solution, but it can be very helpful, as we know their well-being is fragile.’
He added: ‘It’s really important that this is sustained – it can’t be a matter of doing something once when students get to secondary school, or putting in a strange practice here and there.
‘A joint effort to improve students’ self-esteem can yield very positive results.
‘Many good teachers are already doing this, but it may be even more important than we thought.’