Parents: Would you believe a simple breathing exercise could help your kids be more successful as adults? That’s the promise of something known as “mindful meditation,” which ANY of us can try. But scientific journalist Dan Goleman says this exercise has proven results. In a study that tracked kids for more than 30 years, those who practiced this one breathing technique before age 8 generally had higher IQs, better health, and more financial success in their 30s – as compared to kids who NEVER tried it! So, here’s the exercise:

First, grab a favorite, small stuffed animal, and lie down flat on the floor.

Then, put the animal on your stomach and slowly breathe in and out… pausing to count “one-two-three” with each inhale, and another “one-two-three” with each exhale. Your stomach should rise and fall with each breath. Do that for at least 5 minutes every morning, every day. And that’s it!

So, why would breathing with a stuffed bear on your belly make you more successful in life? Researcher Goleman says it boils down to the impact mindfulness can have on a child’s brain. Because when kids learn to focus, control their impulses, and manage their emotions long enough to keep a toy balanced on their stomach, it actually helps GROW the brain’s prefrontal cortex. That’s the part that controls everything from how we learn, to how we plan and make decisions. And we NEED a well-defined prefrontal cortex to make decisions that help us become successful.

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