This Too Shall Pass

Since life seems so random at times, one of my favorite sayings, repeated by my mother until it became entrenched in my psyche, is, “this too shall pass”.  Telling ourselves that nothing lasts, and circumstances can change in a flash, reminds us that emotional / physical pain is not forever.  On the opposite side of the coin, is the thought that positive experiences need to be savored, and gratitude expressed. This in itself raises your frequency / energy which in term attracts more “good stuff” as in The Law of attraction.

When you feel frustrated with your child and you seem to have reached an impasse, here’s a technique that can help.  I’ve written about different types of conscious breathing in former blogs because it’s a tool which is easy to learn and quick to show results, plus it reduces stress and pain.  It can be used virtually anytime, and anyplace.  The more you use it, the more quickly it will calm you down.  Another benefit is that it increases our awareness of positive feelings.

Begin by noticing your breath – not trying to control it – just noticing each intake and each exhalation.  Gradually let your breathing slow and deepen while you concentrate on the sensations as the breath moves into and through you.  Instead of breathing from your chest as many do, change to diaphragmatic breathing. Take a deep breath and watch to see if you’re breathing from your chest or your stomach, and ensure the movement happens below your rib cage.

To teach your child this wonderful way to handle stress, have him lie on the floor and place a book on his stomach.  Have him breathe so the book is seen to move up and down.  Then let the child experiment with moving first his chest and then the stomach area with the book atop so that he begins to feel the difference.

A fast way to switch from chest-breathing to diaphragmatic breathing is to take a deep breath and then let it out in a hard, fast sigh.  Doing this once or twice daily usually accomplishes the switch.

Another exercise which greatly helps de-stress is yawning with simultaneous stretching. You keep stretching slower and slower while you yawn. Fake a yawn if you have to. You’ll see how easy it is. By doing this, you are more in the present moment. You are observing your stretching and the muscles that come into play. In this present moment it is impossible to have worry, fear or doubt. Remember doubt and fear are nothing more than a memory you’ve pulled from a past event, and you’re projecting onto the future. It takes you out of the present moment.

Perceived Threat Coming In!

I had to laugh at myself when I was trying to deal with a particularly defiant student in my class whose m.o. is to deliberately provoke, whether me or another student. I didn’t follow my own advice, which I continually give to parents in my blogs and talks. This youngster, age 14, raised the hackles on my back figuratively, by deliberately provoking me into a confrontation by defying my authority.

Instead of quickly asking myself what solution to this situation would be the most beneficial to both of us, I reacted by yelling at him and threatening him with a referral to the Principal. This would mean he couldn’t attend the 8th grade graduation ceremony and dance. That was probably the worst thing I could threaten him with, and I pulled out ‘’he big gun”.  At this point, I had lost the battle, and I knew it.

How to handle the situation that I blew:

1- Make sure to take a pause (the one that refreshes the brain, the one where you give a little time to think clearly by breathing deeply a few times). I could have been using both hemispheres of my brain instead of going into fight or flight mode because I felt threatened.

2- I didn’t take into consideration that this child had to keep up his cool with his classmates, and would not back down so I would be the one who had to come up with a solution that was a respectable compromise for both of us.   A win/win so to speak.

3- I needed to think and not react so quickly. I could have taken the kid into a private area and calmly asked him to discuss the reason he had to act out in the way he did, and how he thought it made me feel. I could have told him how anxious his provocations made me feel, and how hard it is to have to deal with it on a constant basis. Then, I could have asked him what he thought his consequences should be. I could have admitted that I made a mistake and realized the consequences I gave him were too severe. I could have made him part of the decision making process, and empowered him in some way by doing this. Obviously, he has self-esteem issues and needs to feel in control.

4- I would show my vulnerability and model fair behavior to this child who suffers on some level. Better that, than flying off the handle as I did, and making no advancements in understanding and respect. Could’ve, would’ve, should’ve!

Bowl of Light

Many parents and educators have pondered these questions.

* Why does my child get so stressed out at school and anger so easily?

* Why does my daughter try to copy her friends’ attitudes and attire which is often inappropriate, unhealthy, or disrespectful?

* Why does my child care so much about what others think?

* Why does my child, whom I know is capable, do so poorly in school?

The answer is that these children have formed beliefs buried in their subconscious so they are not aware of them, and are responding to you with hostility or aggression. They just don’t understand why you won’t “get off their case”.

Most of our actions (about 98%) are programs running in the subconscious mind. Many of these deeply held beliefs which trigger upsetting behavior, are based on the interpretation of how we see and interact with our world. Remember, you are the role model.

So, how do you help children create a level of personal responsibility that allows them to succeed? You’ll need to become completely aware of how you react in everyday situations. You’ll need to admit when you are wrong, and speak out about how you would correct your own behavior or thoughts when they are negative or self-deprecating. That means, you’ll have to do some inner work and get in touch with why and how you are reacting in certain ways. It takes work and discipline.

Two techniques I use to get in touch with my negative feelings and resistance to change include, The Emotional Freedom Techniques which you can google and see demonstrated. EFT helps you release blocked emotions, and gets you to a place of peace and neutrality. The technique uses meridian tapping on certain points around you face and upper body to move the Chi or energy through your electrical system where it is blocked. This includes blocked emotions.

Another technique I recommend is very simple and powerful. It is an ancient Hawaiian/Polynesian healing technique called, ho’oponopono and can also be googled. The technique supports harmonious relationships between people, nature, and spirit. The culture speaks of a BOWL OF LIGHT and states, “Every child is born at birth with a bowl of perfect light. If he tends his light during his life, it will grow in strength, and he can do many things: swim with sharks, fly with hawks, know and understand things.”

If however, he becomes resentful or envious, he drops a stone into his BOWL OF LIGHT. Since light and stone cannot hold the same space, a little of the light goes out.

Keep your child’s BOWL OF LIGHT illuminated.

Thank You!

Being grateful is a hard emotion to process for many kids. At least I’ve found that to be true in my classroom. I’m always so appreciative when a student says thank you, and unfortunately, I don’t hear it frequently. No matter what ups and downs life offers us, there are always reasons to be grateful. I think it’s imperative to teach children the “art” of being grateful. I believe teaching your children to be thankful regardless of the circumstances, impacts their lives in such a profound way. Going through life looking at the glass as half empty can really be a drag. Therefore, I suggest helping your kids look for the lessons in their failures, and show them how to take joy in the little things. Model this behavior for them so they can see you going through disruptive times with more ease.

It would be great to find at least three things each day to be grateful for and of course model them for your child.   As a suggestion, have your youngster write down what he/she is grateful for. Writing can keep the child focused, and also help him process negative emotions. Certainly, this is a good exercise for kids of all ages, including adults.

Fortunately, a positive attitude can be cultivated with some practice. Even though we’re born with specific temperamental tendencies, (the glass is half full or half empty), the brain is a muscle, and can strengthen the mind’s natural tendency toward optimism if you work at it.

Here’s something else to think about; encourage kindness. Again, lead by example and show your child how to practice random acts of kindness. As an example, open a door for a stranger. You don’t have to do for another what I experienced, but you might think about it, as I must say it really made my day. The car in front of me paid the toll for the upcoming bridge, and told the toll keeper to wish me a good day. What a great random act of kindness which inspired me to do the same on another excursion.

Through kindness, kids will learn compassion. And, what a great lesson for them.

Behavioral Management Strategies for Empowered Children

How often do you feel you are being punished more than your child when it comes to giving consequences? Often, rude and disruptive behavior escalates after consequences are given, and you might ask yourself if it was worth it? The Total Transformation Program” founded by James and Janet Lehman, which can be purchased online, is especially helpful for parents struggling with their child’s difficult and sometimes aberrant behavior.   These experts in the field of child development and psychology, underscore the importance of all children needing to learn to be accountable for their actions, no matter what age. They state that it is up to you (the parents) to create a climate of accountability in the home and in the community. Unfortunately, it is my experience that some parents try to justify inappropriate behavior, and tend to blame it on the child’s friends or teachers as being the bad influence.

Based on working with scores of parents through my years as a high school teacher, I am of the opinion that some parents use ineffective strategies to help their child. I sometimes hear about or see parents “looking the other way” when their child is behaving disgracefully, or is abusive and disrespectful to them or others. There are times when parents may underreact to a child’s weaknesses by refusing to recognize them. Thankfully, this type of parent is in the minority.

I’ve worked with many parents who think inappropriate behavior is just a passing phase related to age, and the child will eventually settle down.   Some parents are in denial of the behavior because it is a frightening situation to realize your child just can’t cope. Sometimes parents are even afraid of their own children. You might be afraid of his failures and think, what if I don’t know how to help him? Or, you may even be thinking, what if I pass my failures on to him? Often, the parent will become the enabler when they take total responsibility for solving the child’s problems.   If you recognize yourself in any of these statements, please know that, first and foremost, you should never allow abusive or disrespectful behavior and never make excuses for it.   If you are subjected to abusive behavior on a regular basis, you may have become so accustomed to it, you “let it ride”. That is not a way to help your child. If your child is failing in an area, there are steps you can take to help him. A couple of steps may include:

1- Accurately define the failure and explain to him/her exactly what it is. Perhaps it is his impulsive behavior like not thinking before acting, or maybe it’s laziness, ungratefulness, or emotional immaturity.

2-  Accept your child fully, and don’t withhold affection because of inappropriateness and belligerent behavior. Withholding affection won’t help, but at the same time boundaries and consequences need to be established for intolerable behavior, including abuse and disrespect. You can state something like this: “You may not abuse your sister or call me names. You may not abuse anyone verbally or physically.” Then, you need to defuse the situation by taking the power out of the abusive behavior so it becomes an ineffective tool for the child. Give the child the ground rules, and tell him the consequences for breaking the rules. Yes, he may balk at first, and get angry. Always use an unemotional tone. You can listen compassionately and continue to invest in your child no matter what. Your child needs to feel/know he is accepted even though he hasn’t met your expectations. You also need to give your child the tools to help himself so he doesn’t explode. This can be as simple as suggesting he count to 10 in his head (model this) before he says anything. Or, when he feels like he’s about to explode, have him give you a signal that he needs to go into his room for 10 minutes to cool off and maybe listen to music before resuming the conversation.

Conscious / Unconscious Parenting?

Our conscious / subconscious programming can often have a negative effect on a child’s development. There is plenty of research / scientific studies which confirm the importance of understanding how to work with the subconscious, and how to alter our way of thinking so we don’t come from a place of lack or victimization.

The book The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, and documentary What the Bleep Do We Know? which was first released in theatres in 2004, and went on to be one of the most successful documentaries of the time, are examples of a new paradigm of dealing with re-programming thoughts and beliefs we’ve inherited from family and ancestors, as well as our own creations. New ways of understanding energy and the universal laws of manifestation are offering ways to live centered and abundant lives.

To introduce the idea of conscious parenting, it implies that you as parents are interacting with your child based on your own emotional legacy. That is, you have subliminal programs running from your past which are unconscious to a large degree. It is with these unconscious programs that you interact. The first step is to become aware of the unconscious programs. That sounds very difficult as people go into therapy for years to get in touch with these patterns of thought and behavior, and aren’t always successful.

It seems we are deeply entrenched in the condition in which we were raised. We react to our world, and of course our children, not understanding that we are reacting based on our unconscious past. Unless we can understand this type of enslavement, we won’t be mindful, conscious parents and mentors.

In order to free the child from parental personal baggage, it is important to realize that the little computer between our ears stores every bit of information we’ve ever received, and does its own form of interpretation based on past events and our interpretation of them. Once we understand that we are reacting to past programs, and that there’s something going on within us at all times, we can be mindful in our relationships. We can come from a place of stillness and deep understanding. Revisiting our past and taking an introspective look can set us free to engage peacefully and powerfully in our world, and set our children up to succeed mentally, emotionally and physically.

The Intuitive Child

Children possess a natural intelligence — call it intuition. The development of intuition depends on several factors including environment, parental support, and education. My hope is to help you understand how this type of child experiences the world — whether they have higher levels of intuition, or are gifted in other ways with natural abilities in language, art, music, or science and math as examples. All kids are gifted in some way and have different learning styles. Some are gifted with unusual intuition, and not only are they empathic and able to read the feelings of others, but they have an uncanny inner “knowing” beyond their years. .

Speaking of the intuitive child, I was recently reading a book written by Caron B. Goode, Ed.D. and Tara Paterson called, “Raising Intuitive Children”. They say that intuitive children learn by experience as well as having an excellent sense of their body in space. From my experience as a teacher for over twenty years, I would say that the intuitive learner needs to get out and engage with his or her environment. Ken Keis, President and CEO of Consulting Resource Group International is an expert in the field of understanding the intuitive child, and helping parents get a “handle” on supporting them. He heads global resource centers for personal and professional development and explains how difficult it is for the intuitive child who needs to explore his environment, to sit at a desk all day and listen to rules which include, don’t do this and don’t do that. “Intuitive children find this type of environment very difficult to deal with, and will act out because of it.” He explains, “They need to disperse their pent up energy, and compliance isn’t one of their best features!”

Although there are some new incentives and programs in schools that work with the intuitive child, and which restore movement and physical activity on a daily basis, unfortunately, they are in the minority. “Educators and administrators”, he states “need to understand that education is not about sitting at a desk without movement for six hours a day.” Most kids shut down after 10-15 minutes of lecturing. This has been proven in many studies. Kids just become unfocused. Their brain is not accommodating new information. Therefore, it behooves teachers/mentors to get youngsters moving or stretching even for a minute. This will get them back in the groove of learning. As parents, it might be a good idea to suggest your child take short breaks from doing schoolwork. He further comments, “routines and structures around compliance can contribute to as much stress as conflict. Frustration comes from the demand for compliance.” There are schools and organizations that have established different types of movement classes which may even include yoga, T’ai Chi, mindfulness walking meditations, to name some.