Mindfulness for Kids and Teens

Available with English captions and subtitles in Spanish.

How do you explain mindfulness to a child? Turns out, it can be as simple as giving your full attention to one thing at a time. But it can make a major, positive impact on how kids address their emotions and react to stressful situations.

So how can our kids train their brains to be more mindful? And what’s the best way to help them on this journey?

Audience Questions

In this session, Lisa W. Coyne, PhD, lays the foundation of mindfulness for kids, shares tips to get kids and teens involved in mindful practices, and answers audience questions about mindfulness.

  • What is mindfulness? Can you provide an overview of it?
  • Especially during this time with a lot of curveballs, how can we help our kids ease their anxieties through mindfulness?
  • Do you have advice for applying mindfulness to kids who just don’t listen? I’d love to end nagging and power struggles in the home, especially when addressing sometimes obnoxious behaviors.
  • Is there any way that we can steer older kids (ages 8-12) away from having freak-outs over small and seemingly uncontrollable occurrences? For example, their iPad cover gets scratched, or they don’t know an answer to a question on their homework, and they go into meltdown mode.
  • How can we apply mindfulness to toddlers?
  • How do we help kids who are having a hard time with changes in routine, especially if they are unexpected? I don’t want my kids to be upset and want to validate their feelings. How can I get my kids to understand that things will always be changing?
  • Are these ideas of mindfulness helpful and applicable to kids who are diagnosed with OCD?
  • How can I introduce mindfulness to older kids in my clinical practice who have a range of conditions, including anxiety, depression, and perfectionism?
  • Do you have any advice for teaching mindfulness to kids and teens who have disabilities?
  • As a parent, how can you teach and practice mindfulness if you or your kid is experiencing big emotions? My tween has been saying mean and hurtful things, like “I hate you.”
  • How do we make mindfulness into a routine for our kids without making it a chore?
  • Any tips for kids who are acting out while being homeschooled but also have mental health conditions? One of my kids has ADHD, and one has autism spectrum disorder, and they will act out and either pick up where one leaves off or chime in because they want more attention. We’re all working and learning at home, and I’m afraid my resources are limited. Help!
  • I’m a clinician working with kids and teens who have depression and anxiety. I often find myself contradicting myself when helping them with challenging thoughts via traditional CBT—by changing the content vs. encouraging them to relate to these thoughts in a different way—like mindfulness! How have you been able to reconcile or integrate these two different approaches in helping young patients with difficult thoughts?
  • Do you have any mindfulness tools or suggestions for kids who have sensory processing disorders or challenges?
  • Are there any principles from acceptance and commitment therapy that you would suggest sharing with kids to make them more mindful and introduce them to better mental health practices—without outright sharing that the tactics are therapy practices?
  • How can we start introducing the concept of impulse control to kids? With so many things readily accessible at their fingertips, I want them to learn this skill!
  • Can you explain some of the science behind why small actions—especially when they come to mindfulness—end up being very helpful in the long run?

The information discussed is intended to be educational and should not be used as a substitute for guidance provided by your health care provider. Please consult with your treatment team before making any changes to your care plan.


You may find this additional information helpful:

About Dr. Coyne

Lisa W. Coyne, PhD, is an assistant professor of psychology in the Department of Psychiatry, part-time, at Harvard Medical School, and is a senior clinical consultant at the Child and Adolescent OCD Institute (OCDI Jr.) at McLean Hospital.

Dr. Coyne has published numerous peer-reviewed articles and chapters on anxiety, OCD, and parenting. She is the author of “The Joy of Parenting: An Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Guide to Effective Parenting in the Early Years,” a book for parents of young children.

Recent books by Dr. Coyne:

Learn more about Dr. Coyne.

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