New research has shown that children as young as seven years old with ADHD can benefit from practicing mindfulness. The study measured improvements around behavior and emotion when children used mindfulness techniques. The mindfulness program attended by the children involved eight weekly 75-minute sessions. During each session, the children were taught mindfulness exercises that they could then practice at home for the rest of the week.
The results of the study showed that children who had followed the mindfulness program had reduced symptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, impulsivity and emotional dysregulation, as well as anxiety, to a greater extent than children who had followed the standard treatments for ADHD. Reductions in irritability and episodes of anger were also observed by the research team.
ADHD is a genetically-based disorder that affects an array of abilities related to executive function – e.g., cognitive traits related to self-regulation, organization, planning, task completion and setting goals. ADHD, therefore, can affect anything that relies on these managerial level cognitive skills. Those abilities help individuals handle situations like classroom learning, work, conversations, relationships, and physical health.
Mindfulness helps individuals stay settled, observing their ever-changing experience, and discovering and shifting habits to help them live better. The intention of mindfulness practice is to see life with clarity and manage it with resilience and skill no matter what we encounter day-to-day.
This research demonstrates how mindfulness can positively impact the behavioral and emotional symptoms in children with ADHD by allowing them to notice their emotions without reacting right away and being more aware of their experience and environment. The improved emotional state, in turn, could allow them to better utilize their executive functioning skills. The new study shows that, even with ADHD, and even in young children, these emotional benefits are available, accessible and helpful.