Teenagers are often notorious for being rebellious. What adults tend to forget is that teens are still in need and often crave some guidance. So, if you worry about bringing mindfulness to a group of skeptical teens, we have a few ideas to share that can help.
First know that all teens are not opposed to mindfulness. In fact, some may already practice it. There are also many who are unfamiliar with mindfulness or untrusting of it.
So, while there are a few things to consider when planning to bring mindfulness to teens, our first recommendation after your own daily practice, is to find a way to make it accessible to your students.
So, when it comes to bringing a group of skeptical teenagers into a mindfulness class, we have a few ideas to share that can help you lead a mindfulness practice more effectively.
Now, not all teens are opposed to mindfulness. In fact, many may already practice it, even unwittingly. And yet, there are many who are either unfamiliar with the practice or unwilling to learn – especially in a school environment when fears, anxieties, and pressures take center stage.
So while we have a few key things to consider when teaching mindfulness to teens, our first recommendation is to make mindfulness relevant to the daily lives of your students. Whether you start class with a mindfulness moment or simply ask them about how they dealt with something stressful that day, try to find a way to start with a connection.
1. Listen & Take Notice
Make mindfulness practices relevant by listening to your students and taking their cues.
What important things are going on in their lives? Relating the practices to their experiences can help your students connect with mindfulness.
2. Involve Familiar People
Research has shown that school staff can work better than outside resources. It is one of the many reasons we developed our Mindfulness Champions initiative – where a staff member at a given school leads the mindfulness education in their school. While it would be wonderful for them to have someone as part of the school who is trained in mindfulness techniques lead the class, that will not always be the case, and at least having someone the students know in the room can provide a sense of safety and security. Also, look to building small classes of students who know each other and may be more willing to embark on this journey with friends or other students they are familiar with.
3. Give them freedom to choose
Lastly, as you move towards engaging in the practice of mindfulness with teens, give them the choice in what they want to participate in (i.e., activities and meditations). It is proven that when given a choice, participants always do better in their mindfulness journey. Remember to not try a forced hand with your students or you may turn them away from mindfulness entirely. If they would like to practice mindfulness as part of your group – wonderful! If not, empower them with the necessary tools, talk with them about the different practices, and encourage them to practice mindfulness themselves. Then, be sure to check-in with them and continue to offer support.
Please never force students to participate. If you support them in choosing to participate or not, chances are they will do so willingly when they are ready.
Please reach out to us for ideas and support for bringing mindfulness to your school.