Mama S here. As parents to a kiddo that struggles with self-regulation and self-soothing we turned to meditation and mindful reflection early on in P being placed with us. We did not know where to start or what to do but we knew that something had to happen or we were facing explosion after explosion of frustration and rage. Cue to the most wonderful quote from the Dalai Lama:
If every 8 year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation. ~Dalai Lama
We saw this quote and thought “what’s the harm in trying?” Our little was a ticking time bomb of frustration and anger and we knew that something had to change.
We started small. We started with the activity where you each lay on your back with a stuffed animal on your chest and you breathe in for 10 seconds, hold the breath for 10 seconds, and breathe out for 10 seconds. You watch the stuffed animal go up and down and focus on your breathing to re-regulate yourself. That was in our rotation for a few months before we took it a step further and pulled in guided meditation.
We just go on YouTube and find a guided meditation for the situation. Some days we have time for 5 minutes and that is all that is needed, some days we have needed 30 minutes, and some days we put on a 30 minute meditation and after 20 she has calmed down enough and is ready to get back to what we were doing before we took a break. Some meditations are for anxiety, stress, relaxation, sleep, positive thinking, etc. There is something for every situation!
We have taken a few long trips from home and this is a stressful time in our family. The new sights, smells, tastes, and people throw our little into sensory overload. We keep an eye on her and when she is getting overwhelmed we either prompt her (or she asks) to take a break and head back to where we are staying for a quick meditation and re-centering.
Some meditations require her to sit/lay still, some require her to get up and move her body while she focuses on different body parts. Either way, meditation has become a part of our daily lives.
If you are thinking, “sheesh, I don’t know, this seems silly”, I just ask you to try it for 2 months. Every time you see your little getting dysregulated, find them a guided meditation to listen to for 5, 10, 15, 20, 30 minutes and then check in with them after. Ask how they are feeling. It will be weird at first, it’s an odd feeling and some feel silly the first few times. Keep going. Better yet, throw in a few co-meditations with your little. Lie together and count your breaths, slowly. Do the 10-10-10 breathing that I mentioned earlier. Put your hand on their chest and feel their heart beat and help them control their breathing and feel how much their heart slows down. Don’t feel comfortable with their chest, put your fingers on the pulse point on their wrist and feel their pulse. You will be amazed at how fast it is going in a moment of panic!
Taking it one step further, we are getting P a generic iPod that will have 3-5 guided meditations that will be in her special ed classroom so that when she gets overwhelmed in her regular classes she can go take a break, do a quick 5 minutes of re-grouping and head back to class. This will help her regulate her behavior herself and hopefully lessen her reliance on others to soothe. We will circle back later in the school year to let you know how that is going!
I would be very interested in hearing how this works for you. How did your family react to giving this a try? How many people tried? How often did you try? How will you continue this, if you will, in the future? Please share!!
Until next time,