Two events this week have led me to write this article.

The first was a question from a parent about how mindfulness ‘works’ with ‘damaged’ children and the other was an enquiry from a school about my mindfulness services.

I felt it important to share my thoughts.

After receiving an enquiry about mindfulness services for a school, I went to visit their website for a nosey and to get a feel for the school.

Right there on the front page, was information provided by the school following a domestic abuse incident where several children were involved, detailing which staff were trained in the first instance to support those children and liaise with police.

After the natural sadness and upset that I felt reading this, it reminded me of an article I read a while ago with the headline,

‘It stops the scary stuff’: pupils thrive with mindfulness lessons.
Schools in deprived areas teach meditation to help those affected by violence.

The article was really informative and you can click here to have a read if you wish.

Those children affected by the domestic abuse incident will be re-living that event over and over in their mind.

It’s not just those children affected by that incident that will do this.

We all do.

When things happen to us that are frightening and/or upsetting – every time we think about it, those overwhelmingly difficult feelings return and we feel them in our body. An aching chest, a sickness in the tummy, a squirminess in the gut, a pounding of the heart – different feelings for everyone and ever-changing in strength and ferocity.

When that child said, ‘It stops the scary stuff’ he’s wrong. Mindfulness doesn’t stop anything.

What he could say is, ‘Mindful practice has shown me a way to detach from my upsetting thoughts and bring myself to what’s happening right now – right now in my body, and in my senses, and when I’m focused on that, it is a more pleasant place to be.”

The scary stuff has happened (or could regularly be happening) and that is fact. This child (and any child that experiences fear or upset) will naturally think about what’s happened. They will have little choice about it because it’s what our minds do. In this case, when they think, they hurt.

Mindful awareness practice (or mindful meditation) is a way of giving us a choice. We learn how to spend time in our present moment experiences – not with our thinking mind. We then have an awareness of our thoughts, which allows us the choice to detach from them as they are continuing to hurt us.

Mindfulness, when taught well, is a valuable skill for all children to learn. With regular and consistent time to practice in school, you are giving them an opportunity to help themselves. When children spend time practising the skill of bringing their thinking mind back to the now, they will have it as a tool to use whenever they need it. And in the case of any child who is suffering from upsetting and frightening events, that’s one thing they can do to help themselves.

I must mention also the teachers and school staff who will spend time worrying about those children. They would be helped if they were aware and able to detach from their ‘worry thoughts’ when they were causing them distress. Mindfully aware school staff are able to help themselves AND their children.

This article focuses on the practise of mindful awareness only. Children involved with trauma and past traumatic events will always need as much support as possible from schools and external services. I am not assuming that mindfulness is the only one.

Jo Bradley, is an ex-primary school assistant headteacher and teacher who is now a mindfulness practitioner and teacher for primary schools. She works with school leaders, teachers, school staff, children and parents to develop happier, healthier hearts and minds by making mindfulness a way of life.

She offers one-to-ones, mindfulness school training, various mindfulness courses, workshops and whole-school mindfulness programmes.

Please visit or contact to discuss how she can help your primary school integrate mindfulness practice for all.

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