Archives for category: Problem Behavior

Doesn’t happen easily does it? How much physical pressure do you need? What material do you use? What liquid works best? Are streaks visible in the morning? The evening? Natural light? candlelight? What about when guests come over? Do you leave the streaks and accept the smudges, fingerprints? Do you not turn certain lights on, keep one side of the drapes closed? Do you ask for help? Do you notice other mirrors in other homes that you visit?

car-wax-10-mirrorThis seems like an ongoing process. One with which I am in the middle of. I began this blog before I received a gift from a parent I work with. We are in a family coaching relationship, and she gave me a cloth specifically to clean mirrors THE BEST. She obviously had no idea of my mirror cleaning challenges, yet she showed up with this “random” gift. We never talk cleaning, we never talk about the mundane.

What I realized is that all conversations, and gifts, (and sometimes the conversations are are the gifts) have an option of being purposeful. This special cleaning rag is extremely purposeful and I am grateful.

This makes me open my mind to what is judged as “pointless” conversation. Do you hold certain topics of conversation  for specific people? Do you speak to your child in a way that serves them? Do you speak to children in a way that makes them wrong? Are you fighting to be right in conversations with friends?

My hope is after reading this blog, your take away is to find the purpose in the conversations that you have. To be aware with the words we share makes the sharing more powerful.

A Day of Joy

Who is the number one person that deserves a day of joy?

Mothers. A Day of Joy is an all day event with 4 workshops, lunch, and goody bags. Mothers get to spend a day playing! Dancing! Creating art! And most of all Relaxing. No talk of children, or schedules or what’s for dinner. This day is for Moms to recharge their fuel tanks…

The inspiration for this event came from trading stories with a colleague. While discussing funny things the children we work with do, we got on the topic of Mothers who don’t get to experience the fun. POOF! A DAY OF JOY!

Joy is what rules children. At the core of their existence, children have the capacity to experience joy every single day. As children get older and eventually become adults, they/we can lose our connection to joy, because of responsibilities, fear, judgment, self doubt, guilt, worry, shame etc.

Children experience joy naturally and spontaneously. It can be seen with a sudden skip down the street, a burst of laughter, or seeing a balloon. It’s physiologically healthy to be expressive and clear on what is felt and desired. Adults do not have the space or courage to let all this energy and emotion out, plus the police might be called or we could end up on the front of the local newspaper or for shame: on social media looking crazy.

Mothers’ are overwhelmed. I see the depletion of energy, lack of zest, and low emotional, spiritual, and physical states in Mothers, this is not the most worthy place to parent from, and children are directly impacted by this.

A Day of Joy is a day for Mothers to play and to tune in to their inner and outer Self. There are no expectations other than to show up on time, creating a sacred space. An important agreement we make at the start: “give no advice.”

Mothers attending A Day of Joy experience mind body connections that last in their lives beyond this one day.

I have witnessed women having soul connections, with no words spoken. Spontaneous laughing, hugging and dancing erupt. I have also witnessed Mothers eating lunch alone by choice, and really enjoying not being a caretaker for anyone else, free from any obligations and worries, even if just in the moment.

Mom’s reflect back on the day with peace of mind and disbelief on how good it feels to be free in their bodies and minds.

I know awareness reaches heightened states by having these experiences and opportunities. When some sadness, guilt, worry, bitterness, shame and sorrow get expressed, then real JOY has a place to expand. This kind of joy is the kind that makes life peaceful, makes the skin glow, brings blood pressure down, reduces anxiety and stress, and brings in hope and possibility. This kind of joy elicits the fact that no one is alone in parenting struggles. In place of stress and anxiety are thoughts of humanity, love, trust, compassion, and joy.

Bio: Shane Kulman, MS SpEd is the founder of Your Beautiful Child LLC, private practice. She offers workshops nationwide, as well as local women’s groups. For more information on Shane go to http://www.yourbeautifulchild.comjoy

How One Mother Learned to Find Balance and Joy (NY Metro Parents Magazine).

by Tiffany Caldwell October 16, 2014

One mother of a daughter with autism was going through a lot of changes in life when she found something that seemed empowering, new, and different. Her story, as told to Kaitlin Ahern, shows how a day of joy helped her release negative feelings and embrace the power of self-care.

watercolor woman

My daughter is 7½ years old, and she has autism. She was diagnosed a little over 3 years ago, and caring for and raising her is still a learning process for me. About six months ago, I was told she wasn’t progressing in school. The process of finding her a new school where she could thrive was stressful—it was like a weight, a burden on my shoulders. I live in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and at about the same time I was having problems with my landlord and saw my rent increase dramatically, so I decided to give up my home.

I was going through a lot of changes in my life at that time, and I was open to something that seemed empowering, new, and different. So when I heard about the A Day of Joy workshop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, I thought I’d give it a try. The workshop was presented by Shane Kulman, M.S. SpEd, founder of Your Beautiful Child, whom I had met at an Autism Chalk Festival in Prospect Park earlier this year (she is a beam of light!). Shane is a special education therapist and family coach, and the A Day of Joy workshop was meant to empower parents and caregivers of children with special needs, as well as the professionals who work with them, with a sense of self-care, self-love, and a feeling of community.

I woke up the morning of the workshop optimistic and excited to see what it was all about. When I got there, I found a small, intimate group of parents and professionals and noticed the positive vibes. We did some meditation, breathing exercises, and journaling, and we had open conversations. I felt like I really connected with people who I had met for the first time that day.

Afterward, I felt lighter, like I had just released a lot of the negative emotions we all experience—doubt, fear, uncertainty. And I left feeling like a new person with a different view on life. Since then, I’ve had good days and bad days, but I keep telling myself that in due time, everything is going to be alright, and that I just have to stay focused. I keep revisiting that day, and it puts a smile on my face.

I continue to try to find a balance between caring for my daughter and caring for myself. When she was first diagnosed, I was a total wreck and completely overwhelmed. Even sitting down for a few minutes during the day to take a breather made me feel guilty. I’ve learned over time that it’s not a crime to take time for yourself, because you need it—I need time to recharge so I’m able to take care of my daughter to the best of my ability. I know that if my child senses that I’m stressed out, sad, or overwhelmed, those feelings project onto her. Still, it’s hard to find that balance and beat down the guilt and doubt that rise up when I do something for myself. I try to keep in mind that I’m just human, I’m only one person, and as long as I put my best foot forward, that’s all I can do. I know I need to care for myself so I can be around to care for my daughter in the long run.

I’m still learning every day, from workshops and seminars and especially from the amazing people I’ve met along this journey with my daughter. As the parent of a child with special needs, it’s easy to feel lost, alone, afraid, and overwhelmed. That’s why it’s very important to reach out to others. You need people in your life who can relate to what you’re going through, and who can help you along the way. Everyone needs a support system and someone to talk to. It can be a lonely and challenging world, so it’s important to stay connected and know that there’s always someone out there to guide you and give you advice. I feel that the more people you’re connected to, the better off you are, because no one can do it alone. And like the saying goes, “it takes a village.”

Tiffany Caldwell is a Brooklyn mom, a mental health therapy aide, and a passionate advocate for her daughter, who has autism, and for the special needs community at large. She enjoys spending time with her daughter in the plentiful green spaces throughout Brooklyn and watching her child’s imagination blossom through art.

Breaking Free.

You can break free. A yoga teacher and psychologist shares her blueprint for transforming negative habits.

By Bo Forbes

As a yoga teacher, I see several archetypes in my classroom, yet none so disquieting as the driven and unconscious student who, with glazed eyes, goes to the extreme or attempts the most advanced variation of every pose. Completely dissociated, he pushes further and further, unable to take in corrections or adjustments. Not until he stresses his body to the point of injury or exhausts his nervous system might he notice the potential harm of this cycle. Meanwhile, the nectar of awareness lies just beyond his reach: Backing off and inhabiting his practice in a more relaxed way could bring greater sensation, awareness, and growth.

As a psychologist, I’m aware that the repetitive behavior students exhibit during yoga class originated long before they stepped onto the mat; the classroom is simply the arena in which we can witness our deeply ingrained habits in all their glory. According to yogic philosophy, we’re born with a karmic inheritance of mental and emotional patterns—known as samskaras—through which we cycle over and over again during our lives.

The word samskara comes from the Sanskrit sam (complete or joined together) and kara (action, cause, or doing). In addition to being generalized patterns, samskaras are individual impressions, ideas, or actions; taken together, our samskaras make up our conditioning. Repeating samskaras reinforces them, creating a groove that is difficult to resist. Samskaras can be positive—imagine the selfless acts of Mother Theresa. They can also be negative, as in the self-lacerating mental patterns that underlie low self-esteem and self-destructive relationships. The negative samskaras are what hinder our positive evolution.

Get a Brand-New Groove

The Nasadiya, or Creation Hymn, in the Rig Veda—the oldest sacred text of Hinduism—speaks of an oceanic darkness that covered the life force of creation: “Darkness was hidden by darkness in the beginning, / with no distinguishing sign, all this was water. / The life force that was covered by emptiness, / that one arose through the power of heat.” This is a metaphor for our spiritual birth: In the beginning, we, like the universe, contain an ocean of unconsciousness dotted by archipelagic areas of awakening; together, they make up our inner world. Then something is sparked, and a process begins. Our goal is to shine awareness on the dark ocean, to bring ourselves into being. To do so, we need to exchange our negative samskaras for positive ones. Samskara is universal; it’s one of the elements that define the human condition. We are, undeniably, creatures of habit, and the physical, mental, and emotional places we often gravitate toward are the well-navigated galaxies of negative samskara. Yet the Yoga Sutra (II.16) states, “Heyam duhkham anagatam,” or “Future suffering is to be avoided.” Sounds simple enough, but how do we do it?

Over the years, I’ve witnessed countless people caught in the pull of destructive samskaras and nearly as many struggling to create healthier patterns. When used in synergy, yoga—which generates insight through the physical body—and psychology—which examines the emotional realm—can be tremendously effective in the battle against negative samskaras. From the interweaving of these two healing philosophies has emerged the guide that follows, with seven steps for transforming samskaras.

Step One

Sankalpa (Intention)

Changing samskaras is not an accidental process, a formula we stumble upon without meaning to. In the struggle to create healthier samskaras, sankalpa (intention) is what mythologist Joseph Campbell termed a “call to awakening.” Sankalpa unites our mind with those deeper parts of ourselves that can be so hard to access. Conscious use of sankalpa is a compelling way of communicating what we want to our emotional and spiritual bodies.

At the beginning of my yoga classes, before chanting Om, I invite students to call to mind an intention for their practice. The intention can be nonviolence, awareness of the breath, or something more personal. Whatever form the intention takes, setting it consciously before beginning to practice galvanizes our inner resources and aligns them with the energy of change. Sankalpa acts as a guiding sutra, or “thread,” that we weave throughout our yoga practice, on and off the mat. Yet we still need more steam to take us full-course.

Step Two
Tapas (Intensity)

This steam is provided by tapas (intensity, perseverance, or heat). Tapas is the intensity that ignites our psychological process and helps sustain the discipline required for change. Falling back on our old habits, however unhealthy they may be, can feel like a comforting release in the short term. But anytime we manage to refrain from repeating a particular samskara, that action retains a concentrated energy inside of us. This energy fans the flame of awareness, bringing our inner wisdom to light. Intensity for its own sake, however, can be a form of negative samskara, so it’s important that tapas be tempered with intelligence.

We create tapas in part by committing to the daily “work” of our samskara practice; this type of work can range from doing our physical asana practice every day to waking earlier than usual to meditate, write in a journal, or practice yoga. We also generate tapas through abstinence from negative thoughts, emotions, and behaviors; this involves maintaining vigilance around our samskaras and refraining from their pull. Continued renewal of our commitment to changing samskaras creates a well of tapas from which we can draw when we need to, and ultimately awakens the true Self.

But once we’ve married intention with tapas, how do we refrain from repeating the lightning-fast responses that activate old samskaras?

Step Three

Shani (Slowing)

Samskaras are instinctual and can be activated in the blink of an eye. But reacting impulsively only strengthens samskaras, making them even more irresistible. In much the same way as top-notch athletes watch slow-motion video replays to detect movement patterns and improve performance,shani (slowness) can lengthen the interval between impulse and action. This allows for greater reflection, helping us detect whether or not our actions stem from old samskaras.

Take Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose), for example. Suppose we are flexible in the shoulders and upper back but stiff in the lower back and hamstrings. Instinctively, we might exploit our flexibility and push the shoulders, upper back, and ribs as far down as possible, keeping the lower back and hamstrings asleep. Slowing down and holding the pose longer can make us aware of this movement pattern. We can then lift the shoulders to awaken the lower back and hamstrings and explore what’s happening there.

At first, we may encounter tightness or resistance. This is a blessing, because unpleasant sensations often lead us to rich material. We might learn about our physical patterns of movement, or about memories or emotions locked within our tight places. Imagine what we can gain from bringing this reflective approach to our lives off the mat.

When we slow down, we begin to intuit where change is most authentic and honors our deeper selves. We begin to look inward, to develop insight.

Step Four

Vidya (Awareness)

What trains our sights on the parallel inner worlds of anatomy, psychology, and spirit—where the roots of samskara lie—is vidya (awareness or seeing clearly). Laserlike, it illuminates these worlds, whether they are made of muscle, fascia, and fluid or of thought, emotion, and impulse. Vidya helps us recognize our thoughts, behaviors, and movements as samskara. It upgrades our ability to question ourselves intelligently. From “Why is this happening to me?” we evolve to more penetrating questions, such as, “What does this pattern have to tell me?”

However, intellectual insight that does not travel beyond the mind seldom translates into change. Because the body houses our emotional intelligence, it might not assimilate the insight. Yoga acts through the medium of the body, taking vidya to even deeper levels. Through yoga, we integrate and experience physically and emotionally what we intellectually know to be true.

Yet even insight isn’t enough to break free of old samskaras. There’s usually a moment when we’re ready to change yet find ourselves held captive by an unseen force. What is this unseen force? Why does it paralyze us, so maddeningly, just when we’re ready to surge forward?

Step Five

Abhaya (Fearlessness)

Part of the lure of old samskaras is the belief that “the devil you know is better than the one you don’t.” We tend to prefer the familiar to the unknown.

The alluring nature of samskara contributes to this. It is artful, magician-like: It mesmerizes us with endless repetitions of a pattern, the polishing of its deep groove, while deftly concealing the fears, needs, and beliefs that lie beneath.

Changing samskara requires abhaya (fearlessness). Abhaya helps us face the unknown. When we cut off a destructive relationship, for instance, we might worry about finding someone else. Yet without the distraction of the relationship, we face deeper issues, such as the feelings of shame or worthlessness that may have led us into the relationship in the first place. Through abhaya, we learn to tolerate unpleasant sensations, like grief, letting them pass without resorting to the comfort of old samskaras.

Step Six

Darshana (Vision)

Once we’ve examined the roots of our patterns, we must finally create a new samskara. To do this, we need to envision what it might look like.

This is where darshana (vision) comes into play. When we create a vision for our new pattern, we must give it a life force more vital than the old one. We need to convince ourselves that it is real. We use our senses and emotions to bring it to life: What does it look, smell, or feel like? The more we visualize (and experience) the new pattern, the more real and compelling it becomes.

By making space in the body during yoga, we generate freedom in the mind; this freedom can spark our creativity, helping us find an unlimited choice of healthier patterns.I often encourage students in Savasana (Corpse Pose) to create a memory of freedom and space in previously tight mental, emotional, and physical places. This memory is a blueprint for the freedom and expansive vision that lie at the heart of transforming samskara.

Step Seven

Abhyasa (Practice)

When starting a new pattern, or in times of stress, the lure of old patterns is strongest. Abhyasa(practice) helps make our new samskara more powerful than the old; the more we reinforce the new groove, the stronger it becomes. Understanding what can trigger a relapse and rededicating ourselves to our practice keep us from backsliding. This is a good time to ask, “How can my practice be more reflective? Which of the seven elements do I need to work on? What sends me into a tailspin?”

Like beads on a yoga mala, each of the elements of samskaric repatterning builds on the previous one. Together these elements, like the whole mala, become an instrument for spiritual practice.

Breaking New Ground

All patterns, even samskaras, represent order. When we leave an old pattern behind, we enter a liminal space—a bardo, to borrow a Tibetan term. Like the space between an exhalation and the next inhalation, this place is ripe with unlimited possibilities for new choices.

This in-between space can be unsettling. During a recent session, a woman poignantly asked, “If I let go of these beliefs, will I still be myself?” We often resist new patterns for fear of losing the identities we’ve so carefully constructed. And it’s true that when we change a long-held pattern, we undergo a rebirth of sorts. This rebirth hints at a new incarnation, a more evolved version of the self. Yet improving our samskara brings us closer to our true nature, which is the goal of yoga.

Samskara is also defined as a perfecting and polishing, a process of cultivation. Shifting samskara, then, is the ongoing work of chipping away at our negative patterns to illuminate the purity of the soul. Like alchemists in our own transformation, we constantly refine and direct our samskara into healthier designs.

The good news is that the ability to shift our patterns—once we’ve sown the seeds—is self-generating, self-sustaining, and self-renewing. When we’re patient enough to facilitate samskara’s organic process, to honor its inner sound and slow rhythm, change simply flows. And it’s a joy to taste the reward of all this hard work in its natural form, the sweetness that arises from seeing long labor and preparation come to fruition.

Bo Forbes, Psy.D., lives and practices in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

What does this refer to?  Well very simply, the frosting on the cake… Do you eat it first or do you save it for last. According to M. Scott Peck MD,  how you eat your cake can be very telling about how you live your life, and I agree with him.

Currently, and for some time now, we have all grown to be more than impatient. We are use to getting what we want immediately. Getting the best thing first.  Picture how children run to see their photograph right after it was taken.  We can track flights, packages, in real-time, order food, find a date, buy a car, send a message, get someones background information, stream a movie all instantly.  I see adults lose their patience on a daily basis when they don’t get what they want right away.

So many parents want information and advice on how to get their children to stop having temper tantrums to get what they want.  I chuckle inside when specific parents ask me this question in their own “temper tantrum sort of way.”  In a culture where we can all get what we want immediately, we are modeling this for children all around.  I hear “wait a minute” said to children everywhere I go.  Is it really a minute?  And if it’s ten minutes, I’m not sure how a child with challenges is to wait that long, if a parent cannot.

As everyone knows, children learn from actions not words.  When you are waiting for something, or you do not get what you usually do, right away, be conscious that your children are learning problem solving skills from your behavior.  If you are huffing and puffing, sucking your teeth, talking under your breath to others, or simply getting out of control verbally, your children are leaning this is what I do when I want something.  On their level it comes out as throwing their body on the floor, kicking screaming, etc.  Are you aware of your tantrums?  I am.

I took a Bikram yoga class. It was my second day, and I was so proud of myself for going. If your not familiar, it’s 104 degrees in the room, packed with people, and the rules are; although you can go into a rest pose at any time, you can’t leave the room. In my opinion the teachers are a little militant, and not very caring for your body. But this is the style and I made the choice to take the class, and no-one was physically hurting me.  About 45 minutes into the class, I had simply had enough.  Beyond the physical aspect of this class, I was attempting to “let go” all my mental challenges. I wanted to finish the class and be at peace with any yoga I did during the 90 minutes.  So I would rest, while resting I would get mad at myself for resting so long, and see severely overweight people going at it, and I would get back up, only to come back to rest again.  A recipe for disaster for me.  I was being pushed to my limits, as children are on a daily basis.  I began my tantrum by giving the teacher dirty looks!  Of course I realized this was nonsense and couldn’t believe I was acting out this way.  Then during one pose I found myself giving the teacher the middle finger!!! (in a sly hidden way)  Why couldn’t I gain control of myself! Here I am – and I couldn’t control myself.  How do we expect children to control themselves? Especially children with special needs?!

There are so many expectations put on children in general. I see many parents giving their children what the want so quickly, just so they won’t “act-out” or “tantrum.”  This is not the way to prepare them for reality.  Getting what we/they want instantly is not healthy, we/they end up not appreciating what is wanted.  Many children whom I teach  how to “mand” or to communicate what they want, have parents who are so happy that they are doing this, they give them everything they ask for.  This creates little monsters.  Special needs or not, children need to know they must “work” for what they want.  You can define work any way that is appropriate for your child. For example;

  • Hang your jacket up, then we’ll have snack.
  • Finish your Homework, and you can play video games
  • Put this book away and you’ll get the trains
  • Brush your teeth and you’ get a sticker

One of my favorite books, has a chapter titled,”don’t’ give the ice cream away for free.”  Giving a child toys, snacks, attention whenever they ask for it, will create a spoiled child. Having them earn it (aside from the 20 minutes of LOVE THERAPY daily) will make them a much more prepared for the world human being.

Delaying gratification is something I’ve read about in the book, The Road Less Traveled, by M. Scott Peck, MD.  He states,

Delaying gratification is a process of scheduling the pain and pleasure of life in such a way as to enhance the pleasure by meeting and experiencing the pain first and getting it over with.  It is the only decent way to live.

In other words, the pain=waiting, the pleasure is more appreciated.     It’s why so many people who win the lottery are screwed up. Life is difficult, we know this as adults, why should we set up our children to believe it won’t be?

If every child got 20 minutes of quality time with no distractions with their caregiver, where it was all about love and caring and listening and sharing. The rest of the day can be real  life lessons to prepare them for the future.  Let your child see ALL your emotions, it’s ok to be angry in front of them, BUT your anger must be a process that is  working towards a solution.  Showing them how you cool off from being angry is the follow up lesson.  Do not ignore problems and walk around letting anger seep through… Deal with problems in a calm way, (as they happen) where you get what you want. If you’re an excuse maker, guess who will follow in your footsteps?

If your goal is to have your child turn into a thriving adolescent and adult, it is necessary for them to have behavior around them that  shows self-discipline.

Help your child become the successful child who works hard, not the spoiled child who expects everything handed to them.  Especially if they are a child with diagnosed challenges, it is all the more important to set them up for the unfair world that is not always loving and catering their needs instantly.

What do you think?  Are these suggestions realistic and useful? I would love to know what you think……

Namaste,                                                                                                               Shane

True Colors, Cyndi Lauper

I have been speaking with parents and educators of adolescents and teenagers.  And the consistent word I keep hearing is “control.”  Who IS in control?  Are the parents who pay the bills in control of their children?  I agree.  Are the children in control of their choices?  I agree.  The answer that is completely absolute and a fact is, we are all only in control of ourselves, (and even then we are not always.)  There are millions of variables that happen all the time, every second and minute of the day, which prove we are only in control of our own choices and actions.

The younger children I work and babies  make obvious choices and we are constantly concerned with what they want, and because they don’t speak, we verbally give them choices, and really respect their answers.  As children get older and start to use their own words, many parents back off.  They may take note of what their child is doing, but not talk about it.  Teenagers have real physiological hormone action going on that makes them a little nutty:) Lets remember our own experiences….  As a teen these days, there is amazing amounts of pressure on where to fit in, what material items you have and if you are cool enough… Remember now? Having flashbacks?  This is why we must be the super consistent ones.  Know that an adolescent and teenager will not help your self-esteem, and will not cater to your ego.  In fact they will do the exactly the opposite. This is why we (educators alike) must help ourselves and include mandatory feel good times for ourselves.  Here are some simple ways to show love to yourself…

  • Take a bubble bath
  • Write in a journal
  • Take a yoga class
  • Meditate/meditation class
  • Hang a love mantra in your home
  • Take a dance class
  • Attend a workshop about loving yourself/ or a satsang
  • Use crayons and color in a book
  • Read a book

You get the idea….

The positive effect that will happen is your child will see that you trust them to be alone or alone with another adult,  shows them you respect yourself so they should too,  lowers your blood pressure, gives your child a positive role model,  has your child  realize they are not the most important person, and most of all it gives you recharge time, so you can deal.

You may be the only one who sees your child’s true colors, support them in their time of need, even when they don’t want to admit they need you.

Find a way to enjoy everything…

Shalom friends,

Lately I have been working with children who have extensive verbal abilities.  All at once my new little clients, as well as children I’ve been working with, are coming to me with only “behavior issues.”  As I constantly address self-esteem issues as a root of many problems, what I see the most problems with is “problem solving.”

Problem solving is a skill that many adults also have issues with.  It’s the reason the news is depressing,  our country is at war, couples get divorced, women and men are unfaithful to each other, and child abuse exists.  Children need to be able to make their own mistakes so they will be prepared to be independent thinkers and be able to feel good about themselves regardless of the outcome.  Once a child is off to school, (and that may be as young as….. well 6 weeks, if a parent has no childcare) but let’s say 2 for discussion sake.  A two year old child, neuro-typical or a child with special needs  leave the house and it is guaranteed  they  will not get everything they want, for example, as soon as they get on the bus, they may not get the window seat.  While at home I see parents catering to their child’s every need.   I also hear parents giving constant warnings of what not to do or ____ will happen.   Of course I am not saying let your child touch fire or run in the traffic.  Safety first, but lets say your child is looking to  jump in a dirty rain puddle.   What will happen?  As adults we might not like the mud on our legs, but imagine you let your child   jump?   Afterwords Your child will look at you with adoring eyes, and the parents all around will give you dirty looks.  Who do you care about more?  Who do you want to bond with?  Who do you want to earn trust from?

If a child is free to make their own choices, regardless of the outcome, they will be stronger adults, who will handle situations with a calm mind.  If they are constantly being told whats right and wrong, they are not being taught to use their own mind and make sound choices.  They will always wait for someone else to tell them what to do, or they will be the annoying child who always tells other children what to do. This is when impressionable children get messed up from peer pressure.  Earning trust from your child does not come naturally and vise versa.  Setting up situations that lead your child to make his/her own decision is key.  Any child with with any special need (including non-verbal) can be taught to make choices as well.  Show them two choices of what to choose for lunch, show them two of their favorite toys, or two different color bowls etc.  Have them point to their preference.

*Pick your battles   *Don’t sweat the small stuff

We’ve read and heard those lines before, but as a reminder make those phrases into signs to hang in your home.  Make them look beautiful, paint them with your child.  Buy cheap canvas and use glitter.  Let these words remind you to have fun and be happy with your child.  Allow them to experience life and learn on their own.  Admit your mistakes and problem solving process outloud. They learn when you think they’re not watching.  *They watch and imitate how you talk on the phone  *They imitate the tone of your voice and your hand motions *They put their hands on their hips to show authority.

Letting your child know you are not perfect and admitting you make mistakes  is a perfect teachable moment, and a lesson that will last forever, and contribute to them being a successful adult.

Today I was working with a 5 year old boy,  he is intelligent mature and independent, he does have an issue with body awareness and dealing with his emotions. We were playing trains. For the last two days we set up the track in a circle with another track leading to the station.  I felt bored with this track, so I began attempting to make two circles with one leading to the station.  So many amazing things happened.   First, my little friend got angry at me for messing with is already satisfactory track.  Then I saw it was nearly impossible to make my idea  happen because of the amount of pieces we had.  I kept changing pieces all around.  He reacted with frustration at first, and wanted me to leave the track alone.  I was on a mission and attending  to my own true nature, I couldn’t give up my idea.  After throwing a train across the room (which I ignored)  and kept on working.  He sat back and watched me, then he crawled under his bed and found an extra piece.  I attached it, but still my idea didn’t work.  I showed him I was disappointed.  He then got mad at the fact he didn’t  have enough pieces, and announced “these trains are not working.”  He pushed his body away from the trains, crossed his arms and nearly began to cry. We shared a moment of being let down. “Wait! let’s try this!”  I moved a bunch of pieces around excitedly, and he got excited too!  All the while I shared with him important words; “I really wish I could make my idea work,  I wish I had more pieces, but since I don’t I will do the best I can, and keep working hard, I know! I’ll come up with a new idea!  A new plan!”  Eventually we worked hard together and made an awesome train track with one circle and  a long extended curvy track leading to the station.

Without even explaining how many important life skills were leaned here, hopefully you can see how  me and this child bonded and that he will take the experience and use it with other children.

Find 15 minutes to play with your child on their terms, and stay true to yourself, find your inner child.  You’ll be happy you did;)

Hugs and kisses to all you hard working parents…..


P.S. Share your stories as a comment, I would love to hear how you help your child make a mistake!

Hola Amigos!

It is BBQ season here in the East coast, time to go to the beach and parks.  It is time to let the DVD players and TV sets stay off.  After reading a really great blog, I laughed about the fact that we, as a culture bring so many plastic toys to the beach and park.  When taking my Brain gym class, the teacher explained that if children watch too much TV or stare at the computer, they lose their natural instinct to look  peripheral vision.  I think it’s the same when children play with toys at the beach, they might “forget” to check out how much sand their hands can hold…

I played with many 2-4 year neuro-typical old children this past weekend, at a BBQ.  All of a sudden I found myself  in the suburbs, where the one word that constantly came to mind was “abundance.”  I had so much fun talking and playing with the children at this party. Yes were sitting in a giant bouncer, but with no toys or stuff to use,  we had fun, we told stories, we told jokes and we made up songs.  This does not we had smooth sailing, there were problems and issues that arose.  But they were solved so easily with just words.  All the children were so attentive and engaged.

Because I work with children with special needs, with whom  playing and talking does not come naturally, I forget how neuro-typical children operate.  While it is a lot of work (ehem, like any child) I found myself watching how Mothers and Father’s handled their children’s behavior situations.  I do not judge, just observe.   In my experiences, parents that respect their child’s words and requests, have children that were open minded and wonderful self-esteem.

When I returned from playing with the children, almost every adult commented that I must be exhausted.  In fact as soon as I tell people I work with children with special needs, people always say “you must have SO much patience.”   My reply is always the same, “I need more patience to work with adults.”  All adults, even ones without children.

The purpose of my radio show, this blog, what I talk about at workshops is simple.  Respect yourself, respect your child.

Leave the plastic toys home, let your child figure out how to move the clouds. Take the DVD player out of the car, make up a song about traffic, share your feelings stories with your children.  Be honest, let them know that sometimes you get angry at people.  Stop telling them what to do, and do it yourself, “model” how you want them to be.  Be a teacher not a servant, embrace their individuality and let them be independent.

Love your beautiful child with no reservations, kinda like they love you.

Aloha beautiful friends!

I am eager to share some ways  of chilling-out that you can incorporate in your life.  Your  child, regardless of their special need is constantly learning from what you do, so show them how to chill out!

Shoulder bounces – sit up tall in your seat, relax your shoulders so they are even.  Lift your shoulders slowly up to your ears and let them drop back down. Gradually pick up the speed of our bounces, until you have a comfortable rhythm.  The benefits loosen up the chronically tight shoulder/neck area,  teaches your child that movement doesn’t have to be structured or complicated to have an effect on your state of mind.

Tighten and Release Take one or two breaths, start at the top of your body and work your way down.  Inhale and squeeze your face as tight as you can, and then release all that effort with an exhale. Draw your shoulders up, hold them up for a beat, then exhale and let them drop back down.  Pull in your belly button as strongly as you can, hold for a moment, then let  go.  Clench your bum, thighs, calves, and your feet hold for a beat – and let go.  Once you’ve swept your whole body, repeat the process another time or two. Each time you do, you’ll root out more stress and tension. The benefits target the entire body and systematically release tension from every corner.  Helps you refrain from escalating the situation, and helps you actually do something instead of  just thinking or saying “I need to relax.”

Count Your Breath This is a great stress re-leaver when your running late.  When running late, which I am all too familiar with,  is the perfect time to let your self-importance to run out of control as well as beating yourself up.  Neither contribute to health.  Breathing in for 4 seconds and out for 8 will help to keep you grounded and avoid paying attention to the minutes as they go by on your watch or the dashboard.  This will re-direct your mind. The benefits of this exercise will get new oxygen into your lungs, recharge your brain with more oxygen and lower your blood pressure, which is probably sky high at that point.

Swim In Your Own Sea of Tranquility Locate the indentation between your breasts, about three fingers from the bottom of your breastbone. Bring attention to that area with slight pressure.  If your in public, pretend its an itch. Aim to take twenty breaths while pressing. Release gradually. The benefits open the chest and invites your breath to deepen which triggers the bodies relaxation response, helps regulate your heart beat, and calms the mind.

Seated Spinal Twist Keep both feet on the floor, take a deep breath, sit up tall and twist your torso, each exhale try to twist more. I like this exercise  while waiting in an airplane. You can place your child on your lap, or physically help them twist. The benefits of this are wringing tension of the muscles that support your spine, helping to prevent back pain. It stimulates the abdominal organs responsible for digestion and detoxification so you don’t get an upset stomach that will usually accompany stress.

Mini Loving Kindness Meditation So you’ve never meditated before?  Here is a great way to begin…. A screaming baby/child — screaming back only makes it worse.  Come up with a short sentence, or you can use; May the baby be happy, may the baby be free from suffering. Say this in a quiet and relaxed voice.   Find a rhythm you are comfortable with.  Use this with anyone, your Mother, your boss etc. Say it out loud or in your head. The benefits allow you to feel compassion, instead of hating the moment (or the baby) send him/her some love, you will also feel connected to the child/baby, and not just sit and suffer.

Elephant Swing is a way to beat feeling lethargic.  It’s fun and your children will enjoy the body movement. While standing about 2 feet apart swing your arms and twist your body, the key is to let your arms be loose as possible. Only your toes should point forward, otherwise let it all hang loose, and swing slow in a twist.  Elephants do this when they are nervous. The benefits are tremendous and loosens things up so the energy in your body can travel more freely around your nervous system.

Focus Pocus will calm your mind and relax your monkey mind;) Press between the eyes firmly. This is an amazing technique to show your child how to do. Depending on the age of your child, he/she can do this while taking a test in school. Closing your eyes and deep breathing will add to the experience. The benefits calm the mind, reduce anxiety and confusion and promote clearer, calmer thinking.  This is also used in acupressure to relieve headaches, insomnia and sinus congestion.

Legs Up The Wall Lay with your bum against a wall, and your legs up the wall, your body is at a 90 degree angle.  This will relieve stress and that “heavy leg” feeling. Breathe and relax here for up to ten minutes. The benefits are relaxing and energizing, your legs being higher than your heart creates a relief for your circulatory system and all the hard work it does.  Usually the circulatory system has to work hard to get blood from your heart to your feet, and now you will be helping this system run better! Your body will be thanking you. This is also reversing the effects of gravity, which is what causes wrinkles and varicose veins.

So start a practice of incorporating these steps.  Draw a beautiful sign of reminders to put in your car or in your house.  It’s not easy to start a new regimen, but if you remember how your body will thank you, and what an amazing role model you will be for your child, chilling-out will be common sense.

Aloha and thanks for reading!

Aloha on this beautiful NYC day!

Attached you will find several workshops that you should look in to and attend.

Besides just posting these, I would like to discuss why it’s important  to attend any conferences as a parent.  I pass on all the information to the families I work with and I can say about 90% of the time, they do not attend.  Besides the obvious reasons of great information being passed on here are some  other reasons to attend workshops/talks and conferences.

  • Inspiration to work with your child
  • New parent friends, who feel like you do/networking
  • Learn positive parenting strategies
  • Brainstorm old ideas into new ones
  • Freebies
  • Recharging with time away from home
  • Bonding with your mate
  • Bring a family member/friend=educate them about your child

A well known question that comes up is “who watches my child while I’m at a meeting?”  This is a great opportunity to introduce your child to a family member that is up for the challenge.  I recommend as many trials as your child needs to stay with another person.  Depending on the development and behavior of your child, begin slow.  Leave the house with the beloved family member or trusted friend for 5 minutes, go mail a letter, get something from the car etc. Upon your return tell praise your child.  By adding more and more time away from home, you are preparing your child towards independence.

It is an important lesson your child learn that Mom and Dad have time away, this will alleviate any spoiled child from always getting what they want, special needs and typical alike.  As I always say regardless of physical, developmental or mental disabilities, a child is always a child first.

Your child has an IEP, Now what?!/event.php?eid=115351888492473

Sensory Integration Talk!/event.php?eid=115212021840232

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