Lots of children, and children with ADHD especially have difficulty maintaining attention and staying focused; struggle to understand and regulate intense emotions, and act in impulsive ways. With all of the demands and excitements of everyday life including school, friends, family, technology, games, sports etc. it can be hard for any child to focus on one thing at a time and to be fully present in their everyday life. With ADHD the ability to stay focused and be present is that much more difficult. Difficulty with attention and over stimulation can also make self-regulation difficult for children with ADHD leading them to have difficulty regulating their emotions and behaviours.
Mindfulness meditation is a therapeutic technique derived from eastern philosophy that aims to reduce arousal, guide attention to the present moment, increase awareness and promote non-judgmental observation. Emerging research in the field of mindfulness meditation for ADHD demonstrates that mindfulness training has the ability to strengthen attention, executive functioning and emotion regulation for individuals with ADHD. The use of mindfulness training is increasingly being applied to work with children with ADHD. When children with ADHD are exposed to mindfulness training at a young age, mindfulness has the ability to strengthen a child’s neurodevelopment of their capacity for reflective reprocessing, meaning an individual’s ability to reflect on and interpret their actions and the consequences of their actions and reduce their levels of cortisol and stress. Mindfulness training for children with ADHD can have lasting positive effects in many areas of their life including school performance and peer relationships.
Based on the existing mindfulness training research for children with ADHD, Natalie Leventhal, Master of Social Work Candidate, and The Possibilities Clinic have developed the ME ZONE. The ME ZONE is a six-week Mindfulness and Emotion Regulation group for children with ADHD. The Possibilities Clinic offers the ME ZONE for children ages 8-12 years old and the ME ZONE Junior for children ages 5-7 years old. The goal of the ME ZONE is to increase knowledge of mindfulness, strengthen children’s attention and teach emotion regulation skills using hands-on creative activities to promote age appropriate mindfulness training. The group format allows children to share their experiences and build confidence by supporting each other in learning and developing self-regulation skills. The skills taught in the ME ZONE can be applied to a child’s day-to-day life and the group’s activities are a fun and expressive introduction to mindfulness training.