“Children are like wet cement. Whatever falls on them makes an impression.“ -Haim Ginott
“When I really look at something, I can see all sorts of bits I didn’t see before, like the wrinkle on my cats nose” -Megan age 7
“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” -Helen Keller
“We need to remind ourselves that many pleasurable moments exist each day in our life. Understanding this, we make a decision to start noticing them. We take a few seconds here, a moment there, to stop and appreciate the small joys and beauty in our lives. And far from it being a chore, we find ourselves refreshed by this simple practice.” -John Kehoe, the practice of happiness
“For every minute you remain angry you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
Main take aways:
If this book was solely focused on meditation (breathing practices) then I likely would not have chosen it or enjoyed it as much. It was recommended to me because of the parenting aspect in the book.
What I appreciated about this book is that she focused mostly on raising children and with the focus of being mindful in various ways. Part of the take away was taking 10 minutes a day to just be quiet and peaceful, which in todays world many do not do and how beneficial that can be. The other big take away was a lot of practical advice about raising kids to be caring, have self-control, and be peaceful. She goes through many games you can play with kids to help their cognitive development as well as motor skills. All the items she suggests are linked to studies that are documented fairly well.
Summary of notes:
- As working busy mothers, she suggests to take 10 minutes twice/day with no technology to be mindful.
- Ask yourself each day:
- have I helped my children understand their gifts and talents?
- did I empathize with their feelings enough?
- is there something I can say or do now to strengthen our connection?
- Asking kids questions like: how was your day today on a scale of 1-10?
- To find true resonance with your child, consider these four steps:
- put aside what you are doing; be fully present and interested. Get down to their level. Offer an open, receptive readiness to see and hear them.
- Express the proper emotional tone based on the situation, and then accurately reflect their internal experience. If your child comes home with a school project say “wow, did you do that? You must be proud. How long did it take you?”
- When they express joy at your response, amplify it by reflecting back with “that’s wonderful sweetheart, good job”
- If they are sad or frustrated, then honor their feelings and sympathize with them rather than telling them they shouldn’t feel that way. These are normal human emotions, and they need to understand that.
- The length isn’t as important as the consistent frequency. 3 min 3 times a day or 10min a day.
- Richard Davidson PHD says:
- By sitting and mindfully breathing for ten minutes a day, in as little as 8 weeks you strengthen the part of the prefrontal cortex involved in generating positive feelings and diminish the part that generates negative ones.
Mindful Breathing: can be done anywhere but nice to have a special place. Concentrate on the breath and breathing deeply not shallow.
(Not included in the book, but a personal side note from me: I like to do this breathing exercise and writing in my gratitude journal right before I have my prayer and study time. It helps get me peaceful and clear my mind for focusing.)
Sensing: throughout your day pay attention to things like: the dog brushing up to you, your mouth dry because your thirsty, a bird outside the window, etc.
Listening: the ability to listen accurately to others with our minds and hearts without interrupting or leaping to conclusions.
Listening is also linked to empathy.
Seeing: encourage your child and yourself to really look at something. What colors, markings does it have. Is it smooth, etc
Children who learn to play a musical instrument have been found to have a thicker corpus callosum (the bridge between the two hemispheres in the brain) which means they can go back and forth between left and right brained thinking even faster.
Listening games to play with children:
- place random items in a box, then have them close their eyes as you pull an item out and make a noise with it and have them guess what it was
- Sit outside and have them close their eyes and say what they hear (wind, birds, etc)
- Listen to music and have them identify instrument (piano, guitar, drums)
- Play echoes. Have them whisper something in your ear and then repeat exactly what they said. Have them do this back.
Seeing practice games:
- Take a few pebbles and look at one of them closely then put them in the box with others and dump them all out and ask child to identify it
- Exploring outside abs noticing things
- Eye spy
- Take a jar of water and put a few drops of food dye to drop in there and watch it disperse and do swirls. Is it making a shape? And animal?
- Look at clouds and Identify shapes/objects/animals
- Ask child to draw an object in the room, then ask child to really study object, then try drawing again
Tim Jacob professor says: Smell is rather different than other senses as it evokes the emotions surrounding an experience.
One study at Harvard found students exposed to scent of roses as they slept could remember more data than those who didn’t.
Lavender and rosemary improve re-call
Jasmine improves problem solving
Peppermint boosts memory, concentration and physical performance
German scientists found that floral scents Gabe people pleasant dreams while smell of rotten eggs gave them bad dreams.
- Gather things with very distinct scents and blindfold child and ask them to identify (pine branch, stock of cinnamon, jar of peanut butter, sprig of lavender, vanilla extract)
- Help child to associate smells with memories. Remember when we did this and this …
- Blindfold child and have them smell food items and non food items and ask if you can eat that item
Encourage children to eat slowly and mindfully and savor what their eating.
Give them a small chocolate or raisin. Ask them to wait and hold it. As them what shape is it, what color is it, what does it smell like, does it remind them of the last time they ate it? Then have them put on their tongue and bite slowly. How does it feel? Taste?
Ask child to Describe food from this list of words:
Bitter, Chewy, Crunchy, Fruity, Salty, Sweet, Yucky, Yummy
Ask child to pretend they are holding a lemon. What does it look like? Feel like? Now pretend it’s cut into slices and you bite it. What does it taste like? (Do kids mouths pucker up?)
- have child hold two fingers on their wrist and count pulse together. Then get up and dance, kick, run, jump. And sit back down to bring pulse down. Talk about how long it took them to get calm again. Talk about differences between calm and excited. And discuss how we can manage ourselves when we get overstimulated. Talk to child about how we are in control of our bodies.
- Freeze and melt: have them run around wildly and then you tell freeze. They have to completely be still, then when you say “melt” they slowly melt to floor and relax.
- Pay attention to every step. Pay attention to the movement and feeling of it. Ask kids what they feel.
- The stork game. Have them balance on one leg
- Play music and dance with them
Feelings of optimism, gratitude, and joy broadens our minds, helping us build a more productive future. Negative, angry, or pessimistic thoughts activate the amygdala, turning on stress response and depress our mood.
Count your blessings
Keep a weekly gratitude journal for yourself and do one with your child
If your child is hyper and showing signs of frustration and aggression, the worst thing you can do is tell him to go to his room and beat on a pillow or punching bag to get his anger out. That only reinforces the anger.
Have kids color traffic signal picture. Talk about when they get angry to:
Red: stop and do some mindful breathing
Yellow: think about all the different ways to respond
Green: try the most mindful response and see what happens
It’s important to explain to children that these sad feelings will not last forever.
-Read them a story about a character who was sad but then got better.
-Share a past sad story with them of yours and how you overcame
-do something that cheers them up
-traffic signal game
-distract them by doing something else
-solve the problem (if they are afraid of dogs for example)
-make sure they know they can always come to you
-tell kids story of 2 kids paying and 1 kid took away the toy from another. Ask questions like: how do you think that made him feel? What could be done to make it better?
-play care taking with a toy (giving it food, water, place to sleep, and checking on it)
-teach kids to recognize bullying and what to do about it
-encourage child to do 3 acts of kindness per day
-teaching kids about helping others and always looking to see if someone needs help