Self-actualization is a birthright to all children IF they know how to tap their inner resources of mind/body/emotions/will and breathing through stress. Self-care and self-confidence can lead to self-control with stress tools. Being able to be the eye in the middle of the storm is the key.
Taking ownership of one’s internal frame of reference is essential. I like to start with a little jingle for the children to learn, sing and sometimes march to. On occasion we may use drums to play a rhythm to the jingle. Here’s the jingle: MY MIND, MY BODY, MY FEELINGS ARE FRIENDS. THEY WORK WITH BREATHING.
From Beginning to End
When a child has an internal frame of reference instead of JUST paying attention to the external reality/environment, a foundation is laid for self awareness that
leads to self control if the skills are taught in how to make that happen. Without that internal frame of reference awareness, it is too easy to REACT instead of
ACT because triggers cause automatic response with no mindfulness of what is going on internally and what can be managed internally. REACTING is
an external focus. ACTING is based on internal focus that can INTERACT with the outer reality in a good-choice way.
When we are stressed, breathing is short and irregular. It is easy to fall prey to tension provoking habits. Tension begets more tension. Do something mean to
me and if I react to do something mean to you, more tension is created. Self control flies out the window. However, if you are mean to me and I pay attention to
my tense level internally in my body, focus on deep breathing and calming myself, I will make a good choice of how to handle the stressful situation. Maybe I
need to walk away. Or maybe it is wise for me to use good communication skills and express myself. There are CHOICES in acting that can be health giving.
Reacting in negative ways can cause more stress and not be good for health.
Produce a situation for children to practice acting instead of reacting. For example, hit a pan lid on the desk or floor, asking children what they felt and where
they felt it. A loud sound can trigger a stress response. Then tell children you are going to make the loud sound again and for them to immediately take
deep belly button breaths when the sound pierces through their ears and bodies. You may need to do this several times for them to practice acting instead of
reacting. Help them get a sense of being in control of themselves to DECIDE to act instead of react. Make up other situations for practice. I use punch
balloons where one child is in the middle of a circle practicing deep belly button breathing. The children holding the punch balloons far away from the
child in the center so as not to cause any harm, start making loud sounds and punching the balloons in the air to try to control the person in the center
to react instead of act. The child in the center does deep belly button breathing and maintains control every time! Everyone claps and I congratulate the
child saying she/he is a SUPERKID for acting and having self control where others did not control her/him to react in a negative way. Every child gets
an opportunity to be in the center. Children LOVE this exercise!!!! SUPERKID POWER!