dWhile exploring the playground, my students were discussing how to determine somebody’s gender...
Student #1- Looooooook! I found a BUNCH of girl ants!
Student #2- What the heck?! How do you know they’re girls?
Student #1- SHHHHHHHH! (points to a single ant carrying a crumb) THAT is a real life woman!
Student #2- BUT HOW DO YOU KNOW!
Student #1- Uh, cause, SHE is carrying all the food away! AND! She won’t even share! AND NOW, she won’t shut up!
Student #2- Yup. That’s definitely a girl!
Story By: Bri Dykstra 2017
In a class discussion about American Presidents, I asked my students what they believe the presidents job is...
Their answers did not disappoint.
-He probably just sings... A LOT!
- He watches our flag so it doesn’t go and get stolen.
-HE IS ALWAYS WATCHING!
-Rides in a car, and says “Hello!” to all the babes.
-Just sits around. I wish I could just sit around.
-A.Bro.Ham.Link.On. LOGS! (Abraham Lincoln) He climbs...and sits on our flag. Cause, it’s ours. We are ‘Mericans. It’s all ours.
-Hmm.....(deep in thought) I heard he doesn’t do anything.
Story By: Bri Dykstra 2017
Night Terrors & Meditation:
Night Terrors in children are noticeably different than a normal nightmare.
A typical nightmare may include a wet bed, a short fit of panic, refusing bed time, endless asking for water bits, and more often than not, results in your bed being overly crowded. Fortunately, as we grow older, we come to accept that sometimes nightmares just happen, and we are able to cope with them, because we are able to distinguish reality from our dreams. Nightmares, are also easily avoided by dietary changes, and taking extra time before bed to decompress.
Night Terrors, are distinctively unique from the common night mare. Night Terrors, present themselves far more dramatically, and though it may seem cause to panic, or consider a serious health issue, it rarely is. Night Terrors happen when the body transitions from deep non-REM sleep to lighter REM sleep where dreams typically occur. This transition is normally smooth. However, when it occurs too quickly, the child will have a fearful reaction, resulting in a racing heart, screaming, frantic body movements, and distress. Because the brain has not fully made the transition to REM sleep, it is likely the child will have no recollection of the Night Terror, and will fall back to sleep with ease. If this is the case, and the child is easily soothed after the event, it is best not to fully wake the child.
Many children who suffer from Night Terrors rarely recall the events the following morning, as the brain is still asleep when the Night Terror occurs. Unlike, night mares, that occur later in the night or early morning, and happened only during REM sleep.
Night terrors are caused by over-arousal of the central nervous system during sleep. This may happen because the CNS (which regulates sleep and waking brain activity) is still maturing. Some kids may inherit a tendency for this over-arousal — about 80% who have night terrors have a family member who also experienced them or sleepwalking.
Unfortunately, there is not a cure for night terrors, but there are several causing factors that could be connected with them.
A child who is overtired or ill, stressed, or fatigued.
A child that is taking a new medication.
And/or a child who is sleeping in a new environment or away from home.
A natural remedy that could possibly help your child gain a better night’s sleep is guided meditation or for younger children Story Meditation.
Story Meditation, is an imaginative and self-explorative meditation, and can be done easily.
After your child has completed their bedtime routine, and they have been relaxing in bed for a few moments, you may try a guided or story meditation.
-Tell your child to take a deep breath, in and out. In and out. You may also try taking deep breaths with them.
- After several deep breaths tell your child to close or “turn off” their eyes.
-Begin the story by explaining in detail a relaxing space while reminding your child to also take deep breaths and turning off body parts in soothing soft tones. You might also take this opportunity to expand your child’s vocabulary by using descriptive adjectives.
You are lying in warm summer grass, watching enormous, white feathery clouds dance across the blue summer sky. Take a deep breath in, turn off your toes, and breathe out. You can feel the warm grass tickling your body, you hear birds chirping. Take a deep breath in, turn off your legs, and breathe out. Your body is warm, and you feel happy, you feel safe, you feel loved. Take a deep breath in, and out. A cool breeze starts to sway the grass, back, and forth. Take a deep breath in, and turn off your tummy. Thunderous gray clouds begin to roll in, and sweep out the white feathery clouds. Take a deep breath in and out. You feel tiny rain drops trickle over your body, washing away the day, and giving the grass nutrients. The wind is blowing, the rain is falling, and you feel safe, you feel happy, you feel loved. The thunderous clouds begin to part, and the sun shines through, and warms your body. Take a deep breath in, turn off your arms, and breathe out. You have everything that you need. Your tummy is full, your body is strong, you have people who love you. The sun begins to shine, and dries the grass, and you can feel the earth beneath your body. Take a deep breath in, turn off your fingers, breath out. You have everything that you need. You are safe. You are loved. You are happy. Take a deep breathe in, turn off your head, breathe out. Your body needs rest. Take a deep breath in and out. Your body is ready for sleep.
-If your child is still awake, you can try massage, calming essential oils, or soft music.
Night terrors are most common in children, and they are often outgrown. Often times, we don’t recognize that children are able to feel stress, worry, anxiety, and can understand our emotions based on how we interact with them. Be mindful of yourself, and take the time to create a stress free night time routine to help your child have the best rest possible.
One afternoon, while I was sitting in my classroom, my students were adamant about discussing who their best friends were....
Me: It’s okay to have more than one best friend!
Student: No it’s not! You can only have ONE! I only have one! And, it’s NOT him! (Points and glares at another student across the table.)
Me: That’s not kind! Even if he isn’t your best friend, we still need to be nice. We don’t want to hurt our friends feelings, do we?
Student: I guess not.......You want to know who IS my best friend?
Me: Sure, I do!
Student: (gently lifts pizza off his plate & whispers under his breath) Pizza. Pizza. Pizza. PIIIIZZZZAAAAA
If you're the typical stretched parent, running from one end of the valley to the other… Juggling school, Tae Kwon Do practice, dance class, doctors’ appointments, errands, birthday parties, cooking dinner, cleaning the house, and remembering to breath and bathe in between, you probably aren't paying much attention to the vocabulary you're using.
Your three year old just dumped an entire bag of goldfish all over the back seat, and now thinks they’re the star of comedy hour, squishing the doomed fishies into the deepest crevice of the seats, and smearing the remains all over the window, all while simultaneously kicking off their shoes, and shouting Frozen at the top of their lungs, while your school ager keeps their dirty finger just far enough away to make, I’m not touching you, A valid statement.
In this moment, you’re rendered defenseless.
What’s a parent to do?
I’ll pull this car over!
Will you though?
Not only do you now sound like your mother, which you swore you never would, but are you really going to pull over, in rush hour traffic, and let the Hot n’ Ready pizza get cold?
Of course not! So, why make an empty threat? It only furthers the situation, and you’ve just stripped your own power, and now suddenly, you’re the star of comedy hour.
Bare with me for a moment, as we take an awkward turn…
Don’t think about your underwear….
Don’t think about what color they are…
Don’t think about what style they are…
Don’t think about if they’re dirty or clean…because hopefully their clean...
I said don’t…but, I’m sure all you were thinking about was what color and how perfectly clean your underwear is right? Because, you totally had time for laundry this week!
When a child is engaged in a particular activity or behavior, whether it is positive or negative, all of their focus and energy is being held on whatever it is they are doing.
So, as the goldfish are being crunched into a million unvacuumable pieces, and you’re shouting, DON’T DO THAT! The child cannot pick out a specific request. And will continue with their Goldfish tyranny.
DON’T SMASH THE GOLDFISH! is only slightly better, as now the child can now distinguish what it is that you’re talking about.
GOLDFISH! HEY! I HAVE THOSE! LOOK! I’M SQUISHING THEM!
We’ve now established that mom or dad is angry, but why? The child is clearly having the time of their life causing Goldfish casualties. Let’s take it a step further.
“We keep our shoes on our feet.”
“Goldfish go in our mouth.”
“When we are in the car, we use inside voices.”
Using phrases that give a particular command (cause let’s face it, you aren’t asking at this point) and cutting out words like “don’t” and “stop”, allow the child to hear clearly what it is you want them to do, instead of what you don’t want them to do.
STOP RUNNING! Use walking feet.
DON’T SCREAM! Use an inside voice.
STOP HITTING! Use soft hands.
DON’T BITE! Teeth are for eating and smiling.
As your child grows, and is able to understand vocabulary more, you will be able to ask open ended questions, that will allow your child to redirect themselves.
STOP RUNNING! What kind of feet do we use inside?
DON’T SCREAM! Are we inside or outside? What kind of voice do we use inside?
STOP HITTING! How do you feel when someone hits you? How do you think that made them feel when you hit them? What can we do instead?
DON’T BITE! What are our teeth used for? How would you feel if someone bit you?
It may take a few times, remembering to use different vocabulary, especially when your blood is pumping, and you realize your once awesome ride, now smells like grilled cheese and soccer cleats. But, I guarantee, you will suffer much less Goldfish catastrophes.