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  1. I’ve been integrating mindfulness into my therapeutic work with parents and children for several years, and love using Susan’s book The Mindful Child as a source for great exercises. In family therapy sessions, we focus on increasing AWARENESS of what’s happening around and within us, ACCEPTANCE of what we can and can’t control, and ALIGNED ACTIONS that are compassionate and consistent with our mindful awareness.
    I’ve also enjoyed teaching mindful parenting classes and run mindfulness-based after-school groups for children and adolescents with executive function deficits called “Calm Bodies, Focused Minds.” This fall I’ll be launching new programs under a new website, Stay tuned!

  2. Aloha, Thanks 4 sharing & forwarding wonderful helpful info. What i do best is . . . think out of the box 2 create resolutions caused by miscommunication between earthlings. Practice patience & explain my knowledge so the intellect of a child can B sharpened & advanced. Humanity is held in bondage w/their highLee advanced technology caught in a web of ‘slight of hand language’. The language of blame & judgment & gossip just 2 name a few. Children love the simple in the now precious moments of i know i M L O V E . . . v/s a dys-functional language of C O N T R O L !
    it’s real simple less words & right 2 the point eliminating filler words.

  3. As an Energy medicine practitioner I have often worked with parents and their kids to help awaken awareness. My research has involved noticing how/where Trauma is held (often manifesting as frozen abdominals, or backwards breathing). Since I also look at all Energy systems it becomes easy to address ineffective patterns – habits in the Energy systems, body, and mind that inhibit health – and to shift old wounds and the subconscious templates that contributed to maintaining a freeze state. So it is not only about stopping to be fully in the moment, and remembering to breathe abdominally, but also to notice and shift stuck places in our past so we can be here now. When I see the stories in the Chakras they tell us what is cultivated and connected, or not. I like to teach (and regardless of age, everyone feels it, and can tune into it with the breath) – the wonderful beauty of our Core of pure peace, love, wisdom & joy. Stop, go into your Core Star which is behind your navel, and take a breath. This a good moment to stay open to receiving intuition. And always, choose health!

  4. Planting Seeds, Practicing Mindfulness with Children, a book by Thich Nhat Hanh and the Plum Village Community in France, is a beautiful guide with specific activities to guide parents and teachers. I used this resource as the foundation for a series of parent/child sessions I did this past school year. Families met once a month for four-hour sessions to practice mindfulness and peacemaking using expressive arts. It was a wonderful community building opportunity and we all enjoyed exploring how to be more mindful and peaceful. Most of the families want to continue and new families are interested so this summer I am writing a curriculum to develop certain parts of the program and look forward to facilitating this again in the autumn.
    I also wanted to let people know that Thich Nhat Hanh is doing a special retreat focused on educators which will be a unique opportunity for educators to practice mindfulness together and with non-educators. It will include international guest speakers from the field of mindfulness and education. The retreat will be 5 days, from Sunday, August 11 to Friday, August 16, 2013, and will take place at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, located between Niagara Falls and Toronto, and sitting atop the Niagara Escarpment in a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. It will be fully residential, with all accommodation on campus.

  5. My daughter, mother of 12 year old twins – a boy & a girl – attended the UC San Diego Center for Mindfulness – excellent workshop – you may want to check it out — also: the tiwns attend Sage School in Hailey, Idaho – they teach Mindfulness also – another place to check
    Love your programs!!

  6. I use mindfulness all the time with myself and my children: at the table we sometimes take a few minutes to notice the food mindfully without talking for example. I don’t have clients but I do talk to friends about mindful parenting: notice how one feels in different situation with the children and to take a moment before reacting on an impuls like going up in a rage because the kids spilled something. And I talk to friends about the rules that are set up in the family, whether they are really helpful and help connect to the children or not. Where do we as parents try to avoid our inner experiences by trying to control the children in different ways and what happens in the body. Often I got feedback about the parents being able to see more clearly that they were reacting from something of their own conditioning in the past. It is very hard to then find a different way to deal with aggression for instance. I myself get in touch with a sense of helplessness and at the same time am very touched at what children come up with when they get the chance to communicate and experience what is really happening each moment for example during conflict. Thanks for bringing up the question of mindfulness with families!

  7. This was a very nice reminder about ways to work with parents and children with mindfulness practice. I have used these techniques as well, integrating mindfulness and mindful breathing activities into daily life to help families shift their feelings and perspectives through active practice of peace, acceptance, slowing down, non-judgment, and reframing. I have done so in a variety of activities with parents and children, and assigments for them to practice the mindfulness skills they have learned through the week and report back on their observations. Recently one of my clients kept a mindfulness success journal, which helped him maintain more awareness of his responses from an observer role, reframe situations for himself, and observe the things that he was doing right and that others were doing from a neutral stance. He found this to be an empowering practice. Often he had focused on what was wrong in his life and felt victimized. When he began the awareness practice of noticing the good things in his life, the wise choices he made, and the things he was grateful for, he began reclaiming his personal power no matter what others were doing and reported feeling happier.
    Recently, my niece who had a very wonderful busy day at the beach, viewing reptiles and amphibians at the Dinosaur Store, and having lunch at a nice restaurant, was on the way to visit her grandmother in rehabilitation. She got bored there in the past and did not want to go. Everything she had just enjoyed, including the joy of finding a buzzard feather and shark egg casings, fled her mind as she said “Nothing good ever happens.” Her parents quickly reminded her of all the good things she had just experienced. She responded, “I know, but I mean now. Nothing good is happening right now.” I thought about what she was saying and reframed for her that when we are mindful, we can find the good in every moment, and that at that very moment, there were many good things happening all around us. Our task to be aware, to notice and find them in this very moment. We began watching cloud shapes in the sunset, and when we got to rehab, someone had brought a little puppy – more magic in the moment. My niece, who loves animals, was thrilled when she received permission to pet the puppy at rehab from the pup’s owner. Mindfulness improved everyone’s mood.
    I was able to model for her parents ways to be in the moment, stay out of disagreements about perceptions, be present to where my niece was in that moment, and show ways to incorporate a playful acceptance and awareness into each moment. If that had not worked – but it did – the next step for me was to get the family to play with the 12 count breath – breath in calm with a deep 4 count breath, moving the air down to the belly for 4 counts, hold it for 4 counts, then breathe out stress or tension or grumpiness for 4 counts. I have used that breathing pattern frequently with clients and their parents as well. In counseling, the parents and children I worked with have played with many other forms of deep breathing as well, noticing which ways of breathing are most comfortable for them, noticing what happens in their body, etc. We have also used tactile methods of mindfulness and self nurturing with mindfulness exercises using scented lotions or with the sense of taste, having water tasting sessions using spring water alone as well as with lemons, limes, and oranges, or comparing different teas. There are many daily activities that can be healthful and relaxing when done mindfully. I have even practiced eating popcorn mindfully with kids who were hungry and had after school sessions. We used the awareness of taste, touch, smell, sight, and even listening to the crunch of the popcorn in our session to help them slow down from a busy school day and re-orient to our session. Mindfulness is a wonderful way to help ourselves and others center, re-align, and regroup or just appreciate each moment with compassionate awareness, enhancing our appreciation for each other in the moment.

  8. I am not a therapist or a parent and do not have any experience introducing mindfulness to children, but I do think it is a wonderful idea! Susan shared some great ideas, (for everyone!) and I enjoyed learning about her program.
    I want to pass on this link for another resource:
    I don’t have any experience with this program, but came across the information a few weeks ago. Hope it is also helpful for anyone interested.
    Thanks Ruth and Susan for a great topic and useful information!

  9. There is no more important work for us, as adults, than to introduce children to their inner lives and the world of stillness. These insights and habits of mind will be important tools for them to carry through into their adult lives. We have heard reports of children have gained insights about “time outs” as a tool rather than a punishment. And that a few minutes of silence can change troubled moments into stellar insights. Winter Feast has been offering mindfulness for young children and a second series for older children as part of our Winter Feast meditation a spiritual practice series each year since 2009. Beginning June 21 we will begin our 7-day Summer Series which will include a new series for young children. Please encourage the children in your life and practice (and their parents) to join us. There is room for everyone at the table for our Feast for the Soul.

  10. Hi This is very helpful- just wanted to add that Goldie Hawn, the actress has done amazing work thru her Hawn Foundation- cds etc that are excellent

  11. We need to begin teaching our children how to modulate their own emotions WITHOUT technology. Yes, I know that technology has made remarkable contributions to our lives — this rich program Ruth has put together is just one example — but we would do well to be a bit more cynical about how technology impacts us as human beings. It’s one of my raw nerves — we are raising a generation of children who are at risk of not knowing how to have real, face-to-face and body-to-body relationships with others.
    Enough of my raw nerve. I help staff several pediatric specialty clinics for children with chronic health conditions. Yesterday I was asked to help an 8-year-old girl who was having an extreme reaction to a blood draw that was scheduled later in the morning. She was curled up on her mother’s lap, as close as she could get to a fetal position, sobbing and pleading and unable to make eye contact with anyone in the room. We go through it — she did just fine, eventually — and walked and talked about the process afterwards. She will be having routine injections and blood draws for much of her life. The next time she is in town (the family must travel several hours to get here) I plan to work with her and her parents on some simple mindfulness practices. This excerpt with Susan Kaiser Greenland is wonderful, and very helpful. Any further suggestions, anyone?
    Mindfulness in the schools — I plan to forward information to two of our daughters who are teachers. They inspire me.
    Many thanks.

  12. I work in an adolescent mental health inpatient unit, where we (staff and young people) do a 10 minute mindfulness practice in a group each morning of the week. We do a breathing/body centred practice every Monday and the other days we vary the practice using movements, games, taste, smells, listening, holding objects, drawing etc. We then go round in turn and give brief feedback of how we experienced the practice;, this often gives a chance for small snippets of education about mindfulness and encouragement for those who either chose not to do the activity (we help them look non-judgmentally at what got in the way) or who could only manage for a few seconds at a time, or those who weren’t sure if they were doing it or not. It also provides an opportunity for staff to role model how to be mindful and to normalise some of the experiences of mindfulness.
    I have had several sessions with young people and their parents, where young people have been supported in teaching mindfulness to their parents. They often enjoy being able to share what they have learned with their parents, particularly as it is usually something their parents have not heard of. Sometimes we have done a brief mindfulness practice all together, sometimes I have provided written information, and ideas for mindful practices that they could do at home together. I have also provided parents with helpful online resources and with book titles.
    In our community team, a group of staff run a 6 week mindfulness programme of a weekly one hour group for parents and a separate group at the same time for their children. The feedback from this has been really positive, with parents really valuing the skills for themselves as well as being more able to support their children. I am currently looking into seeing whether we can set up something similar in our inpatient service in terms of offering a weekly mindfulness group for parents.

    • Some years back I worked in a adolescent therapeutic unit in surrey – so wondering where you were working?. Sounds really productive:).

  13. Vermont has a version of this in Burlington, they teach kids and teachers in schools.
    This is great work. Some day I believe the federal, state, professional organizations will suggest recommended daily mindfulness practice just like exercise, diet, and dental hygiene have today.
    Chris Yates

  14. Years ago I taught meditation to grades 4-6. The kids really enjoyed it. I wrote a book STOP! DO YOU KNOW YOU’RE BREATHING, A Guide for teachers and parents to reduce stress to kids in school and at home. It had some good exercises for kids.
    This was when the word meditation was not even allowed in some schools and I had to use the words “stress reduction”. If you’re interested in the book you can find it on my website.
    With love and peace, Ruth

    • I too once taught mindfulness practices to children in Grades 3-4 that I incorporated into their Health curriculum. (25 years ago) It was called Centering back then. Most of the children found it very helpful. I’d love to know if it is still part of their lives today. Ruth Fishel, what is your website where we can get your book.

  15. I would love to one day see every school have a mindfulness component in its curriculum. I believe if this were to happen our future generations would have a remarkable set of tools to create a better world for all.

    • I totally agree with you, Paul. The kids could then teach their parents. What we can do, is to be active examples for others and put the word out. Now is the time to stress the importance of mindfulness. People desperately need it. And it really works for the good of all.
      A journalist wrote in a column in our biggest newspaper that when her son, who is 1 1/2 years old, flies into a tantrum, she gives him her mobil phone to play a game with. I wonder what the next step will be when the child starts to speak.
      There is so much hubbub around us and so many machines surround our children, that calm, guiet moments are essential for childrens’ development. In this world mindfulness is the best protecting factor, for us all.
      Sitting together at the dinner table is crucial. Studies have shown that children, who have dinners with the family, will have a greater feeling of success as adults, way out. It’s not about the food, but the nourishment of shared time. That gives us joy and strength.
      Thank you for your great work, Ruth, it is so important! And thanks to all of you wonderful people, who care and want to help others, I honor you.