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The Apple Tree Said to Me

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Benefits of Learning Relaxation Skills

Benefits of Learning Relaxation Skills:

  • Fosters kindness and caring in ourselves and others
  • Gives the body a chance to recharge naturally from the daily everyday hassles
  • Gives your mind the moment to readjust to a more positive attitude
  • Learning relaxation skills is easy and makes you feel good about yourself

TIPS FOR PARENTS – Starting School Positively

Dear Moms and Dads,

This is Dr. Roxanne Daleo with a few helpful reminders for consideration as our children begin the school year. Whatever the grade our children are beginning, their success is crystallized with the full support and involvement of you, the parent. Remember, your own feelings of confidence or apprehension are easily transferred to your children so here is how to start school positively.

Teach our children ways to stay healthy in body, mind, and spirit. The physical body needs to eat good food and have good exercise. The mental body needs to have good meditation, good thinking, and good words. The spirit of the child needs to have fun and be loved.

So much of the focus in the curriculum today is about academic intelligence. The three R’s–reading, writing and arithmetic, the fourth R, relaxation, is also essential for education and it stands for the life skills in stress management and emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is a term coined by Dr. Daniel Goleman, which refers to the following skills to help children learn to manage strong feelings and reduce stress: learning relaxation techniques and calming down, identifying feelings, recognizing feelings in others, communicating feelings, reducing the negative effects of strong emotions, and controlling impulses.

In his work, Dr. Daniel Goleman points out the current condition of students as being more depressed, more defiant, more aggressive, more uncontrollable then ever before. Teaching children how to become happier, friendlier, kinder and caring people can not only help them as individuals but also helps produce a healthier society–ultimately.

A fairly accurate predictor of what kind of adult your child will turn out to be is based on what they think of themselves not what we think of them. What a child thinks of himself is a direct result of what kind of messages get reinforced on a daily basis. Your child’s self-image is learned. It is an accumulation of outside influencing messages, events and perceptions. These messages can be positive or negative.

More importantly is a child’s inner dialogue or self-talk which can be unconscious. Self-talk can reinforce the outside messages in a positive or negative direction whether these messages are true or false. Children can be taught to become aware of the inner talk and how to use relaxation and guided imagery to clear their mind and emotions, correct misconceptions, remember their goodness and gifts, and be emotionally intelligent about future outside influences and events.

If we want our children to value themselves, then we should teach them skills in emotional intelligence. The following are techniques to cultivate self-worth and confidence:

A positive mental attitudeGuided imagery relaxationReframing stressful situationsMental rehearsalUsing affirmations

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Benefits of emotional intelligence skills and stress reduction skills are as follows:

Improved concentrationGreater impulse controlImprove self-awarenessAbility to stay calmIncreased self-esteem and feelings of self-worthGreater empathy

Let’s go through this list using the first day of school as an example of how emotional intelligence can be developed.

1. Set a positive mental tone for starting school.

Your attitude and the atmosphere you create in your home can either help or hinder your child’s ability to cope.

a. In yourself set a positive tone.

Reflect on what starting school was like for you as a child. Are your memories good or bad, or both? Just notice them for yourself before you say anything to your child. Then choose to give your child a positive perspective by sharing your own happy or funny stories rather than feeding their anxiety with your own anxieties.

b. In your home set a positive tone.

Create a daily routine to de-stress and relax, one that is calm, open and accepting. Make it safe and easy for your child to express his feelings. When you take time to listen to your child it makes him or her feel important.  You can create calm versus chaos by playing soft music, lighting a candle at dinner or just slowing down and being still.

2. Use your inner resources for relaxation and stress reduction and teach your child how to use his or her inner resources.

Put your own oxygen mask on first and then help your child put on his. In other words, you stay calm, be still and listen before expecting your child to the same.

a. Practice Relaxation with Guided Imagery

Every afternoon or before bed give your child the opportunity to check in with you about their feelings and stress level.

Take three, deep letting go breaths together with your child.  You can ring a bell or a chime and follow the sound for as long as you can hear it and then listen to the sound of your own breathing. This is a good way to start slowing down and then listening to your body.  What is there for you?

Children can tell where stress is in their bodies.  Often, they tell me they get headaches, butterflies in their stomaches, tightness in their throats or difficulty breathing.  These are all symptoms of stress.  Children can learn to listen to their bodies’warning signs using a guided imagery relaxation audio program or just sitting quietly together without distractions.  Choose a quiet place without distractions such as television, radio, computer, video games, etc.

These body signs warn us we are stressed and need to slow down and calm ourselves.  If you and your child select a theme such as confidence, general relaxation or caring and practice guided imagery once or twice a day for three or four weeks following the guidelines for listening, you should gain benefits with the consistency of this solid start.

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Guidelines for Listening to Guided Imagery Relaxation Journeys

MindWorks are designed for all children 4 years and up.

Use a quiet spaceNo distractions such as TV or radio

Find a comfortable positionSitting or lying down

Just listenAudio program guides, relaxation, imagination and body awareness

Establish regular practiceConsistency is the key

Use your imaginationExplore other ways to use the programs following up with the child’s own story, poems, dance or artwork.

Recommendations for Parents to Take Mini Breaks.

If possible, after dropping your children off at school, plan on parking the car at a nearby waterway, rest area, or farm.  Insert a relaxation program into a CD player to recharge your own energy.  This is a good way to help you rest before letting the day get away.  This practice of just listening, aids you in staying calm throughout the day.

b. Reframe Stressful Situations.

Once you’ve established a time and routine for relaxation and calming the body, take it a step further and help your child learn ways to calm his/her mind and reframe stressful situations.  The inner dialogue or self-talk may be the root cause for his/her stress.  Ask your child what he hears in his head.  Ask,“If you could place a microphone there what discussion would you be able to pick up?”

Once they give you a word or a phrase such as“I don’t think Mary likes me or Mrs. Green, my teacher looked mad at me”reframe it.  Cultivate a friendly personality by teaching your child to see the best in themselves and in others.  Teach your child to be careful of how he/she talks to herself.

Help your child understand the impact of words and messages they say to themselves.  As parents, remember your words can make or break your child’s self-worth.  Tell your child you love them often and you know they are doing their best and they will try even harder to do better.  Tell your child he is bad, lazy or unfocused and he will do even worse because he will feel unworthy and inferior.

There is an age old saying that goes,“the child who lives with criticism learns to condemn.  The child who is given approval and encouragement learns to like himself”.

c. Use Affirmations.

To affirm means to make strong.  Make strong positive statements to your child he can hear and understand such as“you’ve solved problems before so what can you come up with now that will help”?  Or“What could you do to handle this?”Show your confidence in your child’s ability to cope by encouragement and asking the right questions.  They will automatically take those positive statements and start saying powerful messages to themselves.

d. Mental rehearsal.

In the days and weeks before school prepare your child using the technique called mentalrehearsal. Begin with a few deep breaths and imagine the first day going the way you would like it to go.  The Olympic athletes use this technique; they do not waste time imagining themselves failing.  They see themselves performing well over and over again.

e. Story telling.

Story telling is bonding and teaches values and coping strategies.

Tell your child positive or funny stories of when you were a child his age starting school.

In addition, use story books that have a good message for staying connected with

your child during school.The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn is an encouraging tale about a raccoon whose Mom designs a way to stay connected so that the little raccoon can reassure himself once he gets to school.  It is very helpful for children with separation issues.

3. Fortify the Physical Body

a. Nutrition.

Have you planned healthy snacks and meals for your family?  A child’s energy level is directly related to eating healthy foods.  The brain needs protein first thing in the morning to get going and concentrate.  Try breakfasts of eggs, cheese, tuna fish, tofu, beans and rice or an easy protein combination.  Protein shakes are fun too!

b. Exercise.

Exercise is essential for you and your child’s health and is an effective stress reducer.  Try inventing ways to move the body.  Before school it could be quality time with Dad to walk to school.  After school, biking, walking, jumping a trampoline, or raking leaves, walking the dog, washing a car can be energizing.

4. Ignite the Spirit of Your Child with Love

Nothing can replace your attention and love.  Even more, for your child to love him/herself is so important to their balance and well being.  Using new ways to give your child uplifting messages of reassurance assists him in getting ready for school positively.

In short, listening to a guided relaxation program reminds children that they are not alone and promotes their inner resources which they can call upon to remember their own worth and goodness.  The goodness will come in forms of clearing their minds, uplifting their spirits and recharging their body.

It brings a smile to me to bring a smile to them.  This is what makes my spirit and heart sing.

I like hearing from you and your children.  Please e-mail me atdrroxanne@mindworksforchildren.com if you have any questions, concerns or success stories to share.

Trust yourself to try something new and see the positive in your child and in you.

Best wishes for a positive start for the new school year.

Dr. Roxanne☺☺☺

I am a New Year

The New Year is a good time to begin to make a promise to yourself about what is to come, about the possibilities. It’s like writing a new chapter in your book of life. Dream big, drop into your heart and let your imagination open to the power within you. I invite you to create your own poems, drawings, dance or song to bring your dream t0 life.

I am a New Year.

I am a clean page in my book of life.

I am my next chance at the art of being love.

I am an opportunity.

I am original.

I am open to receive grace.

I am all that I dream.

I am all I believe.

I am the spirit of purpose.

I am the song of power – joy, joy, joy.

I am all the goodness and determination

I can will awaken and energize with my heart’s desire on this and each new day.

I am the spark of the Divine.

— Dr. Roxanne Daleo

Do you believe in ghosts or do you believe in Angels

Charlie, tell me about God and the angels,” said six-year-old Lea to her newborn

brother. “I want to remember!”

My work with gravely ill children has been humbling. It’s opened my heart to the

absolute probability of life after life. I’ve become alert to the ways children can teach me

about faith, love and their own understanding of God.

I am convinced many children “come in with a deep knowing.” Sometimes I’ve seen it in

their innocent exchanges, overheard during play therapy. Sometimes it shines through

their artwork.

And sometimes I see it in the resolute way they ask me to deliver messages to their

parents. Messages far too mature, insightful and profound for their age. Such “deep

knowing” is inexplicable, yet undeniable.

Don’t be afraid to talk to your children about God and heaven. You might be surprised at

the wisdom that comes from the mouth of babes.

The Spirit of a Human Sparkler!

Boston Children’s Hospital article in Children’s Today:

Thirty Years Later-Happy Anniversary

 

by Dr. Roxanne Daleo

 

“Hi, Dr. Roxanne?” the voice on the phone said. “This is Chris…Christine Berl.”

“Chris!” I exclaimed. I flashed back to the first time I met her. It had been many
years, yet I could see her vividly in my mind; a sweet, fragile girl clinging to hope by
a thread.

“Can you believe it?” she asked. “This year will be my 30th anniversary since my
bone marrow transplant!”

Christine was just 13 years old when she came to Boston Children’s Hospital, where I
worked as a Child Life Specialist. She knew she faced a serious challenge with
months – maybe years – of recovery.

If Christine survived, she’d be a medical miracle. My job was to help her deal with
the pain, the stress and the emotional roller coaster she was about to ride.

Those were tough months, but Christine had a strong will and love of life, she had an
unshakable confidence in her doctor. Plus the loving support of her family who held the same belief that she held for herself.

And here we were, 30 years later. I was on the phone with the miracle I’d prayed for. Christine shared with me some of the thoughts her 13-year-old self couldn’t.

First of all, after I was diagnosed with Aplastic Anemia and given 3 to 6 months to live, I immediately told myself, “I cannot die.” I never saw myself dying. I always believed I would survive.

Then, when Roxanne – light, laughter, paint, joy and roses – came into my life, I was given an enormous gift of being taught how to visualize and breathe as a way to deal with the pain. I also needed a way to cope with being confined to the tiny room, while dealing with all the other difficulties associated with undergoing the bone-marrow transplant.

Christine illustrates our potential within to awaken our inner energies. With mind/body strategies (self-regulation, meditation and guided imagery, etc.) we can access our inner self- our greatest source of healing.

I met Christine in 1982, when I was assigned to her as Child Life Specialist. I was still a doctoral student back then and research assistant to mind/body medicine pioneer Dr. Joan Borysenko. My mentors were noted Harvard cardiologist, Herbert Benson, MD, author of The Relaxation Response, and Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of the UMass Mindfulness-Based Pain Reduction Program. I was implementing the techniques and groundbreaking research in psychoneuroimmunology which had direct relevance to the treatment and outcomes of the children in my care.

Opening children’s minds to the power within them became my guiding principle. Using the art of meditation under Dr. Benson’s guidance, I realized how important imagination is in relaxation therapy. He was using the language of imagination for adults and I adapted his principles to the language of imagination for children.

Psychoneuroimmunology explores the effect of emotions, thoughts, mental images and beliefs on immune function- to either inhibit or promote healing.
The research showed that we reach a powerful “choice point” in the midst of a medical crisis. It’s not so much about the disease itself, as about our response to it. As we spoke on the phone, she shared the image that she clung to all those years ago.

I am healthy – I look like myself again but even better – I have all my hair, I am happy and laughing. I am at the ocean, walking on a beautiful, white-sand beach. Then I see myself swimming in warm water. I swim underwater for a long time, but don’t run out of breath. After a while, when I am ready, I come up to the surface of the water and breathe in the salt air and peacefully look up at the sun and think, “Thank you, God, for saving my life, and letting me swim and be in the sun again.” My healthy new body feels light and relaxed as I glide through the water.

I had no idea, until now, 30 years later, how much I used this image to help me cope. I thought about it all the time. It was the one thing that brought me comfort in the midst of all the physical suffering.

Christine’s experience shows how our thoughts affect our emotions and our health. This approach was unusual then. But current practices in behavioral medicine take into account our beliefs for the prevention and treatment of disease.

Albert Schwitzer, MD taught his medical students: “There is a doctor inside each patient, they come to us not knowing this truth, we are at our best when we give the doctor within a chance to go to work.”

Deep healing is a conscious activity. Video gaming and distraction tactics for children do not effect the healing process in the manner of skills in conscious relaxation such as guided imagery. These life skills are necessary to access the inner most self-our greatest source of healing.

No one in the medical world expected Chris to live more than a few months. But she went on to finish high school, attend college and earn a teaching certificate and – perhaps most remarkable of all – to give birth to three beautiful children. Her success is a testament to the dedication of her doctor and the Boston Children’s Hospital staff, and to the power she accessed within her own beautiful self.

Managing Stress and Grief in Children

Managing Stress and Grief
in Children
by Dr. Roxanne Daleo

Managing stress and grief as a result of crisis, such as the one at the SANDY HOOK
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL is a challenge, even for the most experienced,
trained professionals. Here are some suggestions on how to begin and what you can
do if your child has been affected and is asking questions.

Under normal circumstances, talking to your child about death can be a heart-
opening experience for both of you; rather than something to avoid. Everyday you
have an opportunity to bring your childʼs attention to the cycles of life all around us.
From the tiniest insect, to a plant, or a fish; everything has a life cycle. Some are very
short cycles; other creatures like birds are longer. Animals and humans, usually even
longer. Everything is born, lives and then dies.

The natural world is a place to start to develop your childʼs understanding of death in the
context of life cycles.(See the book LifeTimes: The beautiful way to explain death to
children by Bryan Mellonie and Robert Ingpen), Bantam Books, 1983.) to help yourself
begin the conversation with your child in a calm and centered way.
Under unusual or tragic circumstances, we have to go deeper to meet our childʼs
needs and our own. And to be able to answer their questions, correct misconceptions,
ease worries and fears.

When a childʼs life cycle is cut short, we look beyond the physical, to the spiritual, to our
faith, to whatever we believe is sacred and Divine for ways to explain the inexplicable.
What happens after we die is a matter of your faith and your belief system.
For those of us who are confronted with our own uncertainties, referring to world
cultures may provide a way to come to grips with our own fears; learning from others
what they do may provide comforting answers for you and your child. In many places,
death is an integral part of life. Grandparents live in the same house and even die at
home surrounded by loved ones where family members can mourn together and
support one another. Infants and babies sometimes die and although it is out of order of
nature, there is ritual to honor the little life in itʼs entirety. Grief is the opportunity to come
together in praise of the individual who died.

Things For You To Consider

When upset feelings happen, many of us are more likely to not want to talk about them.
But pushing our feelings away is not the best for our child. Even if they donʼt say
anything to us, our children are observant and they will “feel” our feelings, “read” our
facial expressions and body language. In short, by not fully expressing ourselves, we
teach our children to not express themselves in healthy ways. This can cause more
worry for your child rather than protecting them from hurt and emotional pain.
Be mindful of the age of your child. See Guidelines for Childrenʼs Conception of
Death Age and Stage of Understanding:

STAGE 1: Preschool to 5 years old

Death is not permanent and non-reversible; children understand death as
separation; more like a different kind of life. (ex. “How will she get around in heaven
without her wheelchair?”)

STAGE 2: Ages 5 – 9 years old

Death is understood as permanent; itʼs inevitability has not been realized.
Children can “elude death by escaping the clutches of death” (“I can run and hide so he
wonʼt get me!”) Children may think of death as a movie or story character, such as a
Halloween ghost, skeleton, grim reaper or shadow. In the case of a real dangerous
person, such as the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School (ex. “Will another bad
guy come after me?”)

STAGE 3: Ages 9-10 years old

Death is final and inevitable. Youngsters may have a pre- occupation with the
fear of bodily harm. Images of violence more prevalent and accessible from media and
movies.

Be mindful of the level of experience with death.

If your child was directly involved with the Sandy Hook traumatic event, that experience
is powerful, present, charged with emotions and pervades you and your childʼs
everyday life now. Whereas, explaining a distant event from news reports is best done
by answering only those questions your child asks with empathy and caring and at their
level of cognitive development. (See Guidelines for Childrenʼs Conception of Death-
Age and Stage of Understanding)

Be short and simple.

Answering questions with regard to the Sandy Hook tradegy can be done briefly.
Children want reassurance of their safety and security as well as yours.

Be Close.

Common reactions may include: separation anxiety, loss of appetite, fear of a repeat
lethal threat, nightmares. Donʼt expect your child to stray too far without you. Create
outings together or stay home in a peaceful atmosphere, perhaps use the fireplace and
make hot drinks for everyone. Sit together, welcome the quiet, just be with each other.

Be Heartful.

When parents allow themselves to get in touch with their own uncomfortable feelings,
without trying to ignore them or keep themselves hectic and anxious, they model coping
for their child by being able to compose themselves after showing true feelings of grief.
Parents can help themselves by openly calming themselves using soothing music,
lighting a candle, making a cup of tea in front of their child. Being centered, parents can
share more authentically and wisely.

Be Expressive of your beliefs.

When you say grace at meal times, acknowledge the worldview for peace as well as
acknowledging that “peace begins inside me”.

Be Tolerant of othersʼ beliefs

Teach your child not everyone has your familyʼs belief. People from different cultures
and backgrounds have different customs and traditions and thatʼs the way of the world.

Be Aware Children React to Death Differently Than Adults

Often children may not show sadness, but might act out, misbehave or have angry
outbursts. Changes in the patterns of their eating and sleeping. Be afraid to go to sleep
or wake with nightmares.

Be Peaceful.

Use Guided Imagery Relaxation Techniques
Sit with your child in the late afternoon or just before going to sleep, Listen to a guided
imagery recording; itʼs a natural way to turn the volume down on the stress response
and turn on the relaxation response. Children love to use their imagination, a skillful
narration of specific healing images and soothing music can help your childʼs brain
replace fearful ideas with calming ones. The use of guided imagery recordings before
your child goes to sleep is a highly effective way for your child to help himself calm and
settle.

Be Creative.

Create a tangible way to say “good-bye”
Place a flower on a memorial site; make a paper sailboat and send it off to sea, write a
message in a bottle and bury it or throw it in the ocean; write a message place it in a
balloon and sent it up to the sky.

Be Tender.

Remember the loved one. List the qualities of the person who you lost. Scape booking
the positive memories and photos is helpful. Evoking the tenderness of each otherʼs
spirit can be a life restoring event. Grief is gratitude for life; it is our opportunity to honor
the wholeness of the personʼs life regardless of the length.