01/26/2015 10:44 EST | Updated 03/28/2015 05:59 EDT

Kids get leg up in life with lessons on mindfulness: University of B.C. study

VANCOUVER - Paying extra attention appears to have paid off for a group of Grade 4 and 5 students in Coquitlam, B.C., who participated in a mindfulness program.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia found that the elementary students were better at regulating stress, more optimistic and helpful, better liked by their peers and even performed better at math.

The study involved giving lessons to the children in mindfulness, where they were guided to intentionally focus on the present — while avoiding making judgments — through a series of breathing, tasting and movement exercises.

Lead author Kimberly Schonert-Reichl says the study amounts to scientific evidence that children who are taught mindfulness are better positioned to succeed both in school and life.

She says it's one of the first studies of its kind and involved researchers from across multiple disciplines, including a neuroscientist, developmental pediatrician, developmental psychologists and education experts.

Research for the study was conducted in 2008, while the findings were published this month in the academic journal Developmental Psychology.