Recently in my office, a young girl told me she is fearful of sleeping in her own room. The reason? It’s dark! But she wants to try, so her mother wrote down what I told her, thinking it could be a nice way to remind her each night not to be afraid.
There’s no reason to be scared…There’s nothing in the dark that’s not in the light.
She laughed. She hadn’t thought about it that way.
We agreed she can put on a light if she wants and lower it each night to get used to the darkness. Each step closer to sleeping in her own bed will make her feel empowered and confident.
Little gets me excited in psychiatric literature… but this did: A Harvard MRI study of people practicing mindfulness-meditation techniques shows increased thickness in the gray matter of the brain’s cortex. The brain areas that got thicker involved attention and emotional regulation. Why is this so important? Those are the two most common complaints – the two most common justifications – for putting more and more children on medications. I hear it too, in my office everyday. He isn’t focusing, he’s too distracted, he’s behaviorally impulsive. She’s overwhelmed, and gets so worried and depressed.
So – stop for a moment (as you would in any mindfulness technique) and focus on this post. Don’t just click off and go into the next, and the next. Let this get absorbed. Let this sink in. It could change your life and your child’s life.
It’s time to get all kids practicing simple mind-body techniques. A few minutes everyday would do it. These techniques are easy to learn, they feel good and are cost-effective (don’t cost a dime), can improve physical health, and now, as studies are starting to show, improve brain, behavior, and emotional functions.
How simple? Start with taking a few breaths, close your eyes, or stare off onto something that pleases you. Think of nothing else. Hold onto that feeling as long as possible. You just experienced mindfulness!
So it’s time to get ahead of the curve. This is where the latest brain science is headed. There are enough studies emerging now to seriously consider these (often ancient) techniques as essential, like good nutrition, exercise, and getting enough sleep. These techniques are being taken more seriously as an effective alternative to the use of chemical psychiatric agents. As always, consult with physicians you trust before starting (or stopping) any prescribed medication. Get second opinions too. But, remember, medications aren’t the only – or necessarily the best – way to get the brain into a healthier state.
Modern life has eroded many of the basic rituals and behaviors that keep us sane and balanced. It’s time we brought them back! These include daily healthy physical movement, being outdoors more, securing moments to reflect and relax free of technology, and engage in positive (real) social contact instead of the often competitive and negative (virtual) contact we get exposed to on social media. Mindfulness and meditation are a part of these healthy life habits.
The promise here is profound, but real. Engage in daily practices and sound behaviors that keep you and your family on the road to health – and yes – happiness!
An eight year old boy threw his helmet to the ground, twice, and stomped off the field. He’s done this before. In the past, his parents have made him apologize to his teammates and coaches. But this latest episode has them wondering if he should miss his next game, which is the last game of the season.
The answer is YES!
This youngster should lose the privilege. Letting him play again and again despite poor social behavior only gives him an unintentional stage and audience to keep making mistakes. For whatever reasons, he just isn’t emotionally ready to play this team sport. But he will in time – when he develops greater self-control and management of his anger and frustrations. That comes with development. And what drives development? Repeat learning opportunities like this. Missing his last game and disappointing his teammates because of his bad choices: That’s what will drive better skills to the surface.