Archives for posts with tag: communication with children

I invite you to read this with an open heart and an open mind. It’s clear and beautiful…

The Beautiful Truth.

 

joyJoy a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.

What brought you joy before having your child? Several parents I work with have difficulty with this question. “It’s hard to remember,” and “sleeping,” were the most popular answers. I see parents being run down, overwhelmed and turning to outside pleasers to feel good. Food, shopping and having a glass of wine. While I know these activities are socially acceptable ways of relaxing and having fun… they do not feed the soul, which means they are short  lived joy.

Waiting behind two Moms in a discount store.  It was close to the time to go pick up their children from school.  It was a medium sized line, and they were “high” on the bargains they had found. As the line got closer to their turn, they began taking turns to go get one more thing, run away and come back with a new score. Along with the time crunch of paying and having enough time to get their kids.  I felt the energy rising. At one point, the woman who was on the line, began grabbing things nearby looking at them, tossing them in her wagon, then taking them out, leaving some… Then she grabbed some chocolate covered almonds and went at it. The friend came back and they both began eating their eatable find until it was their turn. WHEW!

I knew these feelings, I know these feelings, and I am aware of the compulsive shopping and food challenges. There are many false feelings of fulfillment, joy, excitement, deserving,

“Outer joy is more like excitement, involving a quick flash of pleasure. It stems from either thrill or some animated feeling.” –WWW.PRAJNAYOGA.NET  This is an exact description of the ladies in from of me. The truth is, I can see this outter joy, because I spend many years only knowing of this joy.

Inner joy suggests contentment, contentment that is more refined than the quick pulse of pleasure.

What are the benefits of this inner joy?  Pshhht! Many! Here are a few:

  • Improving heart health, less risk of heart disease
  • Better overall health, (both in individuals and communities, to include families)
  • Positive thoughts flow
  • Emotional vitality: a sense of enthusiasm, hopefulness,

Are any of these a priority for you?   There is no Dr., no shooting, no amazing bottle of wine that will help you attain this inner joy. Here are a couple of practical and easy ways, to insert joy into your day. Tricking the body into joy is REAL, and it has actual impact on the brain.

  • Start laughing, even if it feels weird
  • Look in the mirror and smile
  • Look in the mirror and make absolutely wacky faces (your kids or anyones kids will love it.)

Laura Kubzansky  “State of mind = State of body”

What awareness does this blog bring you? Do you resonate with it? Have you witnessed it? Are you that shopper?  Know this. You are not alone! I think we all have felt these shopping highs, purchasing impulsively or compulsively. We do live in an age where you can text someone hello, just as easy as you can buy airline tickets on our smartphones.. I hope your biggest take-away is awareness. Nothing has to change, nothing has to be done different, just an awareness of the activities we engage in. Your state of you mind correlates to the state of your body. 

Respectfully,

Shane

 

For the longest time, 8 years, my kitchen faucets temperatures were reversed. I asked my Superintendent  to fix this, but it didn’t happen, and I understood it wasn’t a major priority. So I adjusted. I knew this was the deal in my kitchen, there were some water burns along the way, and when I approached my sink, I had to physically and mindfully stop and think, “Ok this is supposed to be cold but it’s hot” and then turn the water on. Eventually I completely adjusted. It didn’t affect how I approached any other sink anywhere else in my apartment or elsewhere, just in the kitchen.

Recently I had a leak and the super not only fixed the leak, but also corrected the hot and cold knobs. I am now newly adjusting to this updated version of hot and cold. It’s not easy and once again I must slow down, physically and mindfully and only then can I turn the water on. Several scalding hot experiences later, I must  use this sink at an even slower pace.

Why am I sharing this? I asked myself; “what can I learn from this sink ordeal?”  Along with slowing down to do a task. I realized how getting into a known routine feels safe and comfortable. I adjusted to WHAT DOESN’T WORK. One perspective is: I can find the correctness in any situation, the other perspective is: Why do I have to adjust to what doesn’t work?

08-kitchen-faucetsI think and work on and with families on radically relating to each other. How much of our relationships within our families DON’T WORK, but we adjust and work around it, ignoring the issue or challenge. How many feelings and priorities are burned along the way? Why as a society is it the norm to act as-if all is good, when it’s not?

I see and know the difficulties lie in the idea of being uncomfortable. I myself like to be comfortable. Getting the family to open up and change (getting my faucets fixed) will bring some awkwardness, some strange silences, but most of all it will bring up FEELINGS. Why are feelings avoided? We disagree, we have the same conversations over and over, nothing changes. It’s easier this way, it’s easier to adjust, but it’s not healthy and it doesn’t promote growth.

Here are some ways to integrate change or growth to radically relate to family…

  • Give compliments – offer them in a nice tone of voice, don’t expect anything in return
  • Offer help – even if it’s turned down, the offer matters
  • Do what you don’t want to do –  when a “chore” or activity pops up with family, and it’s exactly what you DON’T want to do, do it. Breathe and get through it
  • Let there be awkward silences – if a family member constantly has negative comments, let them have them, no response is warranted. Being defensiveness never feels good
  • Create limits and boundaries – Your actions will be more powerful, talking about limits and boundaries can be passive aggressive, or received as ultimatums. Not everyone is ready to make changes
  • Receive – Being able to receive anything in a heartfelt way – Be aware when family members are “giving” you something, if you can find a way to receive it without judgment, it can create a moment of peace and appretiation

I wish you all the power to DO YOUR BEST, with your family this holiday season!

Happy NEW YEAR!
Shane B. Kulman, MS SpEd

  • Why do you go on vacation? 
  • Why go to the spa?
  • Why do yoga?
  • Why go out and party?
  • Why excersize?
  • Why meditate?
  • Why pay for a massage?
  • Why go for drinks?
  • Why see friends?

The answer is: TO RELAX.

How much time, money and energy is spent on any of these activities listed above. Does it balance out? The time spent thinking and talking about relaxation versus the time and actions actually spent  doing it?

What if relaxation was easy? Would it be enjoyed so much? What if you could relax every day guaranteed? Would it be enough? If you didn’t have to save, and work and pray and complain about not having time to relax, would you want it anymore?  Your body would, and your mind wouldn’t. Research shows, as a society, we want what we can’t have and vice versa. If we don’t have to suffer to get something than we don’t want it? Isn’t that crazy?  When exactly do we learn that suffering will lead us to what we worked so hard for.

I am here to say NO. No to suffering, NO to working hard in order to achieve relaxation. If one has to work so hard, and so long in order to relax, how will it ever balance out? If  money has to be spent in order to achieve relaxation, there will never be enough money,   if we are always making relaxation happen with external activities, we’ll never be relaxed enough…

relaxandchill

How balanced is it when people count down 67 days until their vacation that lasts 7 days? It’s simple math. The answer is we MUST find ways to incorporate relaxation that comes from the inside every day. We cannot wait for others and perfect timing and specific situations to relax. It’s unfair to our bodies and minds.

If integrating relaxation could be a goal for everyone, there would be less high blood pressure, hypertension, physical pains, less traffic accidents, and less poor choices made.

There is a ton of research on how yoga and meditation are relaxing and beneficial. What if being quiet and still make you more anxious?  I use improv acting class to be loud and intense. What can you do to relax?

We can achieve full relaxation when our minds and bodies are connected.   If our body is physically resting, but our minds are thinking of what should be doing instead, we cannot achieve deep relaxation. This includes watching tv or hearing the radio. Any kind of input into our minds keeps our minds too busy to completely rest.

Happy relaxation… Taking that first action is the most important step.  Thinking about doing something and doing it are miles apart. It’s the physical action that counts.

So yes to vacations, massages, yoga and dance classes, yes to tennis, bowling hanging with friends etc. BUT also consider including relaxation that comes from the inside.

Here are some easy ways to find inner relax daily:

  1. exercise every day, get it done and over with in the morning, involve your children.
  2. write in a journal
  3. breathe into your belly and drink water
  4. self massage (neck, shoulders feet, scalp)
  5. take a bath
  6. turn off the TV and lay on your back in Shavasana
  7. give yourself a foot massage, or ask for family volunteers
  8. Pranayama * Conscious breathing

Happy Relaxation!

Shane B. Kulman, MS

“Care of the Caregiver… YOU!” ~Shane B. Kulman

I remember the first time I heard this. How clear and “right” it sounded.  As the phrase unfolded in my head, I realized that I was a caregiver, and that working in a classroom 5 days a week, 8-3:30 and then coming home to eat a slice of pizza and collapse was not going to work for me anymore. That was NOT caring about the caregiver, and I was caregiving for 25 students and a wacky assistant that year.  No more…

I’ve graduated and will occasionally take a several week or month vacation during the school year, is this extreme caregiving for myself?  I think, no.  Some say extreme, I bet some say spoiled…  I now understand the importance of bookends. When I set out to work, I am aware that before and after I must include time where I do something for myself.  It may be a simple cup of tea, or a massage/spa visit.

I believe everyone is a caregiver in some aspect. Parents, Grandparents, Aunties and Uncles, babysitters, teachers, therapists, Nurses, Doctors, dog owners… you get the idea.

The parents I work with that have children with special needs, are constantly caregiving. There have been very few who make the time to withdraw from caring about others and take care of their Self.  So many parents pick food from their children’s plates, or eat standing up, don’t get dressed or spend every last penny on their child. After a while the caregiving well, goes dry. Parents often feel drained, wasted of energy and limited in   options. When I suggest a yoga class, a writing class, or to join in to any group activity that does not revolve around parenting, they look at me like I’m a dreamer, like I’m out of touch with reality, and then I see the guilt forming, “WHAT!?!? spend time on myself?!!?!? When my child is so far behind?”  I even suggested to a Mom to go out to dinner with Dad with a dress on, and I would stay with the children, she laughed at me and said we talk and eat when the kids go to school. Hmmmm, is this the same as wearing a dress at a restaurant?  I think not.

Children learn from watching, this has been researched and proven.  If all the young girls are watching their Mothers caregive and serve constantly, how will they learn to be independent and self expansive?  Special needs children, including non-verbal children see and feel what is going on around them. I see the neediest children become ultra demanding when they are in need of something. What happens after their demand, that may result in a temper tantrum/meltdown?  A Parent is running to serve them. What is the valuable lesson here? Yup, the bigger the meltdown and demand, the faster a parent runs.

Children with or without special needs, even pets, learn how to rule through behavior and reactions. I believe there is always time to be made for caring for the caregiver. Even if its a bath, or journaling time. I would say shopping, but you know who gets shopped for… everyone else.

Dearest friends – No matter who you are caring for. You can serve them on a higher level, if you take time to serve yourself. Your health and those you love will love you for it.

Namaste and love yourself,

Shane

How do you handle trauma in your family?  Do you watch the news with your children and then leave them to figure it all out on their own?  Are you talking about how you lost everything to the neighbor with your child standing next to you?  Are you trying to shop for all what was lost and buying new things out of guilt? Even if your home was not affected, are you letting this catastrophe be passed by without using it as a great lesson in empathy and compassion for your children?  Pass the salt, oh hey yeah that hurricane happened, whats for dinner?”

Like everyone else I sat and watched the news about Hurricane Sandy, and waited to see what will happen next, who is without and what favorite beach town was washed away.  I felt empty and lost, like what can I do right now to help?

What I also realized is they were not showing children responses and rightfully so, it would be overwhelming for the child. When I finally left my house, and got on the bus, I sat near a boy who was about 4 years old, he was talking to a girl next to him, he exclaimed, “I saw a fish on the sidewalk, and it came from the ocean!”  He said it really show and all big eyed.  It sent a complete chill up my spine.  It was the first child’s experience I was hearing from a child  of  his experience.

A recent guest on my show shared, “as soon as our lights went out, Emily (7 years old) demanded that the family dance!”  Seeing a catastrophe through children’s eyes is  interesting.  What effects them the most is how their adults around them speak, and act after the situation.

I found out via social media that I have several friends that, had monster floods and lost cars, a whole basement and in one case a whole house.

I am inspired to write this blog after I read one post from a girlfriend who I felt is a POWERFUL PARENT after Hurricane Sandy.

Here is an excerpt from what she wrote:

Still feeling overwhelmed and saddened by what we have been through going through for the last few weeks. Waiting on adjusters is maddening. Waiting to hear from car companies is annoying. But I took my boys to Bell Harbor, Rockaway and breezy today. I was amazed at their outlook on things. All they wanted to do was give toys to kids. Wanted to put smiles on their faces. I know we didn’t lose our home like so many others did but we lost a lot. The saddest part for me was the terror in their eyes when water started RUSHING in our home. It was filling up the basement at a scary speed. They thought they were gonna drown in their own home. Yet, when the dust settled, they raised money for others and wanted to put smiles on other kids faces. I am proud of my boys for many reasons but this really warmed my heart and made me feel as though I really am doing a good job with them. Thank you god for blessing me with my boys.” LCD Brooklyn, NY

So amazing!  Taking her children to volunteer in a neighborhood where the people lost more then they did, was brilliant, it helped put in prospective what they have is amazing, even if they lost toys and “stuff.” I am a huge fan of volunteering. Volunteering alongside your children is payment into the blueprint of the way they grow up. Its priceless.

Many people have suggestions on how to speak to your children about Hurricane Sandy or any disaster. Doing speaks volumes, speaking often confuses a child and doesn’t get the point across as much as the acting of helping a peer.

All the love and light to all the parents who are handling their lives in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. It’s not easy, but the ways you do handle your life teaches children what REALLY matters in life. ~LOVE

When you don’t know what to do, just look into the eyes of your child, they will tell you…

 

What is a SAFE SPACE?  Is this a new age term?  Do you have specific spaces you consider safe?  Is this a physical place or is it space between people or within oneself?  Creating a safe space is new agey,  but now that I am aware of  what this FEELS like.  It’s a new description but an age old idea. Safe space can be:

  • a physical place
  • a relationship (parent & child, spouses, friends, boss & employee etc)
  • used during problem solving (or a disagreement)
  • time used before making a decision
  •  given verbally
  • used in a conversation
  • a mindset

When I grew up the word “safe” meant free from  physically getting hurt. Now a safe space means something different to me.  Its a place where I can be free, completely free to express myself in any way I can imagine.  A space with no judgment and no criticism.  I am lucky to know how I am able to actually create this space anywhere.

This year I was faced with a recurring issue with the children. All the children presented anger issues during our sessions. Just a coincidence?  I think not.   This year, due to my acting class, I am more aware than ever before of my feelings and trust myself to show them. It’s a whole new rainbow of feelings!  What  I brought to my little clients this year, was a safe space to feel.  I allowed them to be as big and mad as they felt.    Maybe it created disagreements, but I was truthful and genuine from me. 

I see many parents dancing around the truth, using fear, or thinking they are helping their child by giving in to what they meltdown about. This message couldn’t be a worse lesson to learn.  By “sticking to your guns” as a parent, it shows strength and creates limits and boundaries. Children who are acting out, are acting out for a reason. They may not be happy with an answer they get, or they may be physically uncomfortable. If they are coaxed into being happy, or moving on from tears, they are not feeling or learning conflict resolution.

After there were no more tears, and there was no attention from me, other than occasionally asking “do you need me for anything?” They  came to me, joined me in what I was doing asked me if I wanted to play.  This respectful bond made our connection even deeper. In all four scenarios, after we resolved the problem, our sessions became something more special.

In one case, a little girl brought me to her room (which we hadn’t been to in the year I was working with her, in another case a little boy began greeting me and inviting me to play (which hadn’t happened in 6 months.)  Another child came to me with a boo-boo, in the past she would only go screaming to her Mother.

If we do not provide children a safe space to completely feel, they will never learn how to express themselves.  Caregivers may feel the need to do something, doing something may look like doing nothing. We now can know that giving them space –  may look like doing nothing, but it is something, and it is powerful.

Tantrums are thought of as “nightmares” or “something terrible.”  I see them as children not knowing the correct way to express themselves.  I’ve had and have tantrums.  In that moment, I am so passionate about something I am unable to express myself using any of my tools.  I understand tantrums, I am compassionate towards children I work with who express themselves this way, as well as random children on the street who have them.  I am also compassionate towards parents and caregivers who only think stopping a tantrum is the way to handle it.

How can you “teach” your child to feel?

  • Allowing yourself to feel in front of them
  • naturally demonstrating your frustration
  • showing conflict resolution
  • validating their feelings, without judgement (I understand it’s not fair, I would be upset, frustrated, angry too)

If we give people and ourselves all the space we really need, life becomes easier and more effortless…

This has become a great lesson for me, a naturally born pushy gal!

Namaste and thank you for reading

What Can I Do To Help You?

How often do you say this?  Lately I have been very mindful  and conscious to make this offering to people. Regardless of how busy I am, when I ask this of people I actually feel a lightness to our conversation.  I see their bodies relax.  Its like a fun and meaningful way to say to someone, “I care about you and want to make you an offer that will make your life easier.”  It also helps people pinpoint exactly what they need help with. Or it can make them realize they are just complaining, which might be helpful to them.)

This simple sentence says and does so much. Of course helping someone get a task done is great, it helps them organize exactly what they need in specifics, and helps them let go of thinking they can do it all, which is a control issue.  When this question is asked of a parent, it doesn’t necessarily mean childcare.  Many parents I work with automatically assume their biggest issue to need help is babysitting their child.  I have asked this of parents, and suggested picking up specific groceries or paper goods,  bare necessities for the home, going out to get the mail, finishing the laundry etc.   All the supports that make a home run smoothly are ways to help.

Maybe you already make these offers.  Be aware of how you physically feel when you say this.  Taking a deep breath and look at the person with prolonged eye contact. This  lets the other person know you mean what you say and you say what you mean.

A great idea is asking your child, at their eye level, “I see you are having a hard time, is there anything I can do to help you?”  Watch their reaction.  What do you see? How do you feel when you say this to your child?  You will be kindly surprised that your child will return this sentence to you when you need it most.

I remember I was teaching preschool at a head start. There was a “challenging” child, who would hurt his friends and act out outrageously, dump yogurt on another child’s head, rip books, push the lunch cart into children etc.  Oh I had such a special love for this child’s jacket as I saw him walking out the door at the end of the day;)  One day he pulled the computer monitor on to the floor. The other children all looked at me, and three were brave and came to me and asked, “what can I do to help you?”  I am grateful for the boy who broke the  monitor, just to have the three children show me that what I do as a teacher is helping create better people in this world.

Namaste, and thank you for reading,                                                                                                           Shane

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HA HA!

No really, proving that even the most obnoxious comment can be learned from.  Let us digress for a moment and think of what a tree does…

  • it grows
  • it provides home and shelter
  • gives shade
  • rooted in the earth
  • provides beauty
  • does not complain
  • open to abuse and negativity
  • can be decorated for holidays
  • it breathes in carbon dioxide
  • gives out oxygen

The more I think of this and write about it, the more obvious it is that WE as human beings are trees.  Just by being alive we are vulnerable, we cannot control anything. We can learn from everything that abuses us, or attempts to break our branches.   We grow, we can be ugly or blossom beautifully, we can be grounded, (not reaching for anything) if we work hard to grow, beautiful things will be attracted to us, and we will be able to provide.

Many parents I work with question “why was I given this child?” in many different ways.  Many other parents I work with are able to see the blessing their children they are.  I have heard “I hate autism,”  “I wish my kid was just normal,” “when will he snap out of it?”  When you plant a negativity seed, it will grow if you feed it, and you will be an ugly wilting tree.  In those moments of weakness when you begin questioning “why this, why that…?” ask yourself which tree you want to invest time in growing.  You should allow yourself all the negative thoughts you want.  By giving yourself rules about negativity will help you avoid becoming insane.

  1. Don’t physically act on it
  2. Allow yourself a set time to feel negative
  3. Find a healthy way to stop (journal, meditation, mantra, be creative)

Trees cannot hide, you cannot hide, trees must stand tall, you must stand tall and be proud, trees do not want to be cut down, you cannot run away from your child.

In the meantime as you continue to work on yourself and keep your branches “growing” and keep yourself learning about yourself, your child is watching you, they are feeling your growth.  You will attract other people who are growing as you are.  The best way to live is to have a community of like-minded people who make conscious decisions and who aren’t afraid to question everything. They will be open to listen with an open heart.

I went to Storm King Art Center this past fall. I saw the most magnificent trees ever.  This is an outdoor museum with colossal  sized sculptures.  I came up with a theory that these were the best trees growing anywhere because of the beautiful art that is surrounded by them.  Surround yourself with beautiful people, beautiful ideas and objects, create the life you can be excited and joyous about.  Your children can only benefit from the beauty you provide for them….

Namaste,                                                                                                                                Shane, founder of Your Beautiful Child

Ciao!

In college, I was given this book, The Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman.  It was my first experience hearing the term “let it go.”

The term has become so popular in every group of people I meet, and has become wonderfully  appropriate for the parents I work with who struggle with their child having a  label/disability.   While I don’t particularly love labels at all, if it’s whats required to get a child the services they need or the classroom that will serve them better, so be it.  Since the child is not aware of the label, why make them aware?  In considering the term “special” education, I think everyone deserves this special-ness.  Don’t you?!

In order for us to understand how to let a child’s disability go, or what I actually mean is – go back to school when everyone was put in a category, pretty, popular, ugly, smart, lonely, athlete etc. When you are put into the “real world” no one tells us- “ok now you can be yourself, change groups if you want, be a part of many groups, hang out alone’  After finishing with organized education, many people follow the crowd. The lucky ones realize they can do what now pleases them!  Then there are the people that get stuck in situations that don’t serve them best.  Not having the place to be “popular and pretty” anymore makes them feel lost.  On the flip side the ones that were “nerdy and unpopular” may begin to thrive, with finding like-minded people.  To realize no one is judging , and no one cares…  By letting these given titles go, the world and life is so much fun!  It allows room to grow to change!

As a therapist working with parents of special needs children I see many parents depressed and anxious about their child.  They can only focus on the future and of the negative.  Will my child ever make friends?  Will he be potty trained?  Will he ever say “I love you” or give a hug?  When I begin to work with a child, I come and play with a child, not an Autistic child, or a Down syndrome child, just a kid who intrinsically wants to be comfortable and learn.

Parents are surprised when I bring out regular toys and sensory items to use with their child. As a therapist they imagine their child’s session will be clinical and different than a “normal” child.  This is the beginning of the impression they will feel, and they will begin to let the label given to their child go…

Who cares if a child has Autism?  If a child can be happy and comfortable and express their needs, it is the first  steps headed in direction of success. If a parent is doing all they can for their child, then it’s all good.  When their child is not in school or having a therapy session, all a parent needs to do is play with their child.   Join the child’s world, do exactly what the child is doing. Let go of what a child is supposed to be doing.  By doing exactly what they are doing, it’s showing them you respect them. Do this every day for 20 minutes. Do not place expectations on the child, no goals.  This is time for loving the child exactly where they are at.

This is the best therapy of all. No therapist or  fancy physician can be with a child and get the same results as a parent can. Lets call it LOVE THERAPY.  You don’t even need to use words, if a child is non-verbal, talking may be overstimulating which can cause repetitive behaviors.  Keep it simple:

 

  • Set aside 20 min(or less) with your child
  • Approach your child
  • Smile
  • Join and copy them
  • Have no distractions, no phone, no computer etc.
  • Let go of your expectations

I know it will help other parents if you have a story to share about “letting go.” Let this be a space of sharing…

Have a wonderful holiday. Practice LOVE THERAPY with your child every day during their break. Write down a short paragraph about the wonderful changes you witness.

Be love,

Shane

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