We’ve all heard and used the expression “Ready, Set, Go!” but recently I read a book entitled, “ready, set, breathe” by Carla Naumburg, Ph.D., which gave me a new perspective in working with children. Most of our lives are busy, busy, busy and our kids are always on the GO! Hurry to wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, catch the bus, get to school. Hurry to complete the homework, get to appointments, go to music lessons, sports and scouting events. I get exhausted thinking about it! And just think how your child must feel, overwhelmed at times, being rushed from one activity or task to the next. We often see their frustration manifest as negative behaviors or meltdowns, lack of focus or decreased attention, disorganization, increased anxiety, or struggles academically or socially. I realize many of these activities are necessary in your child’s life and that some of the extracurricular are even beneficial for their development. So I am not suggesting to eliminate, unless of course there is no down time, but to find a way to slow down (think declutter, simplify and organize) and to help your child become more mindful as they complete their daily activities.
In her book, Ms. Naumburg defines mindfulness as “noticing what is happening right here and now, in a friendly and curious way, and then choosing what to do next.” Mindfulness is not about helping our children get and stay happy or making all their problems go away; it is about becoming aware of and accepting whatever is happening, which is not always positive, and gaining better control of their actions and reactions. In so doing, we can help our children learn to control their behaviors and emotions. This will not happen overnight, of course, but with practice during the calm moments, not when you are already stressed, your children can become more aware of the present moment and make better choices.
So if you have not yet been able to achieve that “Zen” moment for yourself and your child or if you just want to decrease the number of meltdowns they have each hour, you may want to give this book a try. It provides many fun games and exercises that are easy to implement. Even if you benefit from it more than your child, you’ll be better prepared to handle those crazy and chaotic times and have a little more peace, without the wine!
Mary E. Scott