One of the defining characteristics of ADHD is lack of attention and difficulty concentrating. Mindfulness is commonly recommended to help teens with ADHD practice awareness. However, neither of them specifically deal with improved focus. The reason mindfulness practices are so effective in managing symptoms of ADHD is that staying in the moment helps them improve their ability to regulate their emotions.
Attention deficit is just one of the ways teens with ADHD struggle with executive functioning. Other elements of executive functioning include self-regulation, organization, and planning that help teens navigate learning, conversations, relationships, and even their physical health.
While mindfulness may help with focus, attention is just the first step in being able to complete tasks and set personal goals. In being present, teens are better able to work on staying settled, observing their surroundings, and changing their habits.
Executive function-based skills include the ability to notice our emotions without reacting right away. Impulsivity and anger outbursts that are often associated with ADHD are not necessarily choices, but rather a result of being overwhelmed by emotions or situations and needing an outlet for that energy. Many people with ADHD who struggle with managing their emotions have a quick temper, get frustrated easily, or get overwhelmed or shut down often.
Mindfulness teaches teens to become more aware of their emotions before deciding how to react. Through awareness, they learn how to listen to physical sensations in their body and to slow down racing thoughts associated with emotions. Rather than judging them as positive or negative, the goal is to accept all emotions for what they are. There are no wrong emotions, but they may be ways of reacting that are inappropriate in a given situation.
Many people think the goal of mindfulness is to find a state of inner peace. This is not always realistic, but it does teach people how to calm down and regain an internal locus of control when they feel overwhelmed.
Ways Mindfulness Helps Teens with ADHD:
- Encourages them to be present in that moment. The main idea behind mindfulness is being present and forgetting about the chaos and stress around them. Teens with ADHD often struggle to filter out unnecessary information and to break the big picture down into smaller short-term goals.
- Allows them to take breaks when feeling restless or overwhelmed. Pausing in these moments reduces acting out impulsively and encourages teens to think about alternative ways of responding.
- Teaches them to pay attention to their internal world not just their sensory environment by examining their thoughts and feelings. They often have trouble describing and expressing their emotions and understanding how they are connected
- Helps them set intentions. The structure of a mindfulness practice encourages teens to choose a single-pointed focus, either something in their environment, a value or mantra, or the sound of their breath. The intentions they set during mindfulness practices can easily translate to other areas of their lives.
Asheville Academy Can Help
Asheville Academy for Girls is an accredited Therapeutic Boarding School for girls 10-14 that commonly struggle with anxiety, depression, ADHD, and other learning differences. Our small classrooms encourage teamwork and collaboration with additional support for girls struggling with academic skills. This program is focused on emotion regulation and building confidence, communication skills, and social skills that will help students transition back into their home and school life. We can help your family today!
For more information about helping your daughter with ADHD at Asheville Academy, call 800-264-8709 today.