Keeping the Connection to
Welcome to the first issue of Nurturing
In this introductory issue, I feel that it’s vitally important to recognize the enemies of our children’s well being so that we can take steps to minimize their influence. Parents do many things to ensure their children’s safety. For instance, they teach their children not to ever get into a car with a stranger. But it’s also important for parents to be aware of and identify the less obvious dangers. Overstimulation, over focusing on externals, over-scheduling and having too much, too soon, are all unhealthy aspects of our society that can alienate children from their very core.
In mythology, the story of Narcissus warns us of the danger of over focusing on an external image. Narcissus was obsessed with his own beauty. Mesmerized by it, he could not bear to leave the reflection of his own beauty and stayed by a pool, staring at it until he died. Like Narcissus, it’s understandable how children today can become overly focused on their superficial aspects. After all, the media reveres beauty, wealth, and fame—while wisdom, character, and compassion, are often overlooked. And while the inner self cannot die, if it is continually rejected or denied in favor of surface appearances, we can lose our ability to access it.
We’re understandably concerned about children who have a poor self concept, struggle to succeed in school, are clumsy, or have poor social skills. And our concern is justified; our society has fairly narrow parameters regarding what is considered desirable and a child’s negative beliefs about himself can set a self-fulfilling prophecy in motion. But today, modern culture can put all children at risk. Children receive a great deal of attention if they are unusually attractive, bright, athletic, charming, or well-behaved. If they become overly attached to an image of themselves that is based on other people’s reactions, they become very vulnerable. When children feel they have to continually live up to an external image, they can’t be carefree and true to their own nature. Instead, they may become anxious, as they persistently try to portray an image that pleases the people that are important to them. And when their efforts fall short of the desired result, as they inevitably will, their fragile sense of self will be broken like the pieces of a shattered mirror. The “A” student who falls apart when he does poorly on a single assignment, the perfect child who becomes distraught when mildly reprimanded, or the older child who won’t go to school because she doesn’t have the right clothes, are all revealing that they are overly dependent on their external image and the reactions of others.
On the flip side, a child may rebel completely because he feels a sense of discouragement, knowing that he can never live up to the expectations of others. Or he may still be overly attached to an image, but it may involve living up to the negative expectations of others or even himself. When these children become older, they are very susceptible to the influence of peers, gangs, and cults as they continually aim to please whoever is currently shaping their identity.
In contrast, a resilient child has a sense of his true inner value. He strives to achieve his goals but because he knows that he is more than what he does or how he appears, his mistakes and difficulties aren’t overwhelming; they provide opportunities to learn and grow.
Don’t underestimate the negative impact of society’s narcissistic attitudes, the media, and overstimulation on children as young as three or four years of age. It’s very important to start planting the seeds of inner value early, for as vulnerable children become older, they’re likely to become even more concerned with how they appear; denying or repressing the feelings that contradict their image of themselves.
By deadening their senses and denying their feelings, children are sometimes able to avoid being overwhelmed by the stress of constant activities and overstimulation. But when children suppress their emotions in order to cope, they pay a steep price, becoming out of touch with their true selves, their true nature and wholeness. Emotions lead us to our core self and are a built in monitor that let us know if all is well. One of things that can help a child to stay in touch with his inner self, is to encourage him to pay attention to his body and his feelings. If a child accepts and values his own feelings then he will also accept and value the feelings of others, generously giving and receiving love, as well as choosing activities and eventually careers that will bring about personal fulfillment.
In the months to come, we’ll continue to explore ways to help children stay in touch with their spirit, inner value, self, core, or essence. The ideas below and others will be discussed in more depth. I welcome your feedback, ideas, and opinions! Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tips to Help a Child Stay in Touch with Their True Self
• Have time without the television, the radio or computer. As a defense mechanism to the overstimulation of modern life, sensitive children may cope by deadening their senses and denying their feelings.
• Be sure your child has unstructured alone time…to relax, play freely, and dream.
• Teach and have your child practice relaxation skills such as progressive relaxation, focusing on the breath and visualization.
• Listen to beautiful music, dance, and sing.
• Practice low sustained stretches and movement such as yoga or tai chi.
• Spend time in nature and teach your child to have reverence for every living thing.
• Encourage your child to tell you how he feels.
• Help others.
• Express gratitude.
• Avoid bragging about and labeling your child. Don’t become overly attached to your child’s accomplishments.
• Avoid over-praising. (It may be hard to believe that praise can be detrimental, but over praising can discourage a child from finding the value in what he does from inside himself, independent of outside rewards.)
The relaxation routine that your child will learn in the Floppy Sleep Game Book will become his own private ritual, which he can call upon whenever he wants to turn inward, relax, or fall asleep. Naturally, he will modify and personalize his relaxing ritual as he continually adapts it to his own changing needs and growing maturity. But one thing will not change. Your child’s private sanctuary will always be available to him, even in the toughest of times.
When the outside world is disturbing, harsh, or cruel, a child who knows how to quiet himself and turn inward will continue to thrive. It will open his heart and expand his consciousness as he begins to understand that there is more to life than all the “things” in the outside world. And no matter what frustrations or problems your child is facing, he will know how to leave them behind, relax, and peacefully drift off to sleep.
The Floppy Sleep Game Book
Due in stores November 1st, or order from Amazon.com
A complete guide to children’s sleep and relaxation!
* The original Floppy Sleep Game CD & 7 additional tracks
* A 4-week program for kids who refuse to snooze
* Bedtime activities, rituals & relaxation techniques
* Tips for relieving stress & anxiety
* Foods & supplements that promote sleep.
* Information on sleep disorders
* Health problems & neurobiological disorders that affect sleep
Pre-order your copy through Amazon.com by clicking on the following link:
Dubbed “The Dream Maker” by
Patti Teel is the creator of a highly acclaimed audio series that teaches children a fail-proof way to relax themselves to sleep through relaxation exercises (based in yoga), visualizations, music & storytelling. And now her new book for parents, The Floppy Sleep Game (to be released on November 1st), picks up where the recordings left off. It contains a step-by-step program for parents to follow and teach their children to relax and/or fall asleep. The techniques from The Floppy Sleep Game book also help children cope with fear and anxiety in a healthy way. You can pre-order your copy through Amazon.com by clicking on the following link: http://tinyurl.com/8glst
The Dream Maker's October Dream Starters
Dream Starters are visualizations which promote relaxation, imagination and well-being as they guide children into the world of dreams.
October Dream Starters focus on a dazzling show of turning leaves, the harvesting of fruits and vegetables and cooler weather, whispering that autumn has arrived & that winter lies ahead.
To prepare for these dream starters, (or visualizations), create a quiet comfortable atmosphere in which your child can relax.
Step One ~ Progressive Relaxation (Tensing & Relaxing Muscle Groups)
Have your child lie down in his bed. Have him lift each arm and leg individually, holding each limb tightly before loosely flopping it down on his bed. Then have him wrinkle his face and hold his eyes tightly closed, before relaxing his face. (Tense each muscle group for at least 5 seconds.)
Step Two ~ Focus on the breath
Have your child get very quiet and watch his own breath.
Step Three ~ Creative Visualization
Now that your child is relaxed, read (or tell) one of the following visualizations. Of course, feel free to modify it according to your child’s age and interests.
All Aboard the Dream Train
Read visualizations in a slow, relaxed voice. Pause to let the scene “set” in the listeners mind. The tone of voice is also very important; lowering it a few tones can create a more hypnotic, restful mood.
Every night, the Dream Maker tosses falling stars into the sky for children to wish upon. Tonight, the magic from a falling star showers down upon you. It makes you feel warm and tingly and instantly takes you to Dream Land. Here, the air is filled with sparkles and each one is a child’s dream, darting through the sky like flying glitter.
You join a group of pajama clad children who have gathered around a magical tree, named Willow. His branches form a green, leafy curtain that reaches all the way down to the ground. If you’d like, go under the hanging branches and tell the wise, caring tree about any troubles that you may have. Then, leave them with Willow and he will work on solving them. (Pause)
Something flutters down from Willow’s branches and when you bend to pick it up you see that it’s a train ticket. There is one ticket for you and one for each of the other dreaming children. As soon as everyone has a ticket, rainbow lights begin to flash, signaling the arrival of a train. Its whistle blows and guard rails come down in front of railroad tracks that magically appear. Looking down the tracks, a large train covered with twinkling white lights approaches. The train moves slower and slower, finally coming to a stop. The train door swings open and the Dream Maker happily waves to you and the other children.
“All aboard the Dream Train,” she says as she reaches out her hand, welcoming you and the other dreaming children aboard.
You step on board and choose a comfortable seat next to the large clear window. When everyone is seated, the whistle blows and the train begins to move. It starts slowly, and gradually picks up speed, finally settling into a steady rhythm. Clickity-clack, clickity-clack, clickity,clickity, clickity-clack.
The train gently rocks, relaxing and soothing you as you sit back and enjoy the sights. The lights are dimmed inside the train but the full moon lights up the outdoors. You wind around gigantic rainbow prisms and then pass through Dream Land’s beautiful countryside.
Go to version 1, 2, or 3, or for a shorter visualization, go straight to the ending.
The Dream Maker says it’s your turn to choose where the Dream Train will go. Remember, the Dream Train is magical and it can take you anywhere. Where do you want to go? Will you choose to go to the mountains, or up to stars? Or, would you rather go to the beach, to your favorite park or back to your own cozy bed?
Close your eyes and imagine a place you love. When you think of the place where you want to go you’ll know it, because you’ll sense the beginning of a smile—that little smile that starts inside, in the place where joy and happiness begin. Feel that little smile growing from within as the Dream Train takes you to your special, joyful place.
Version 1- Harvesting the Apples
Themes: Autumn harvest, helping others, cooperation,
Version 2- The Mother Tree
Themes: Reverence/ connection to all living things, quietly listening,
The train circles around and heads back towards Willow. The secret door on his trunk opens and magically, the train begins traveling down, down, down—through Willow’s trunk and deep into the Earth, towards a golden light. The Dream Train exits Willow’s trunk and you arrive next to an incredible tree that marks the entrance to the Forest of Dreams. You step off the train and walk towards Memaw, the Mother Tree. It is surely the biggest tree in the world and glowing, golden leaves light up her branches. Squirrels and chipmunks hurriedly climb Memaw’s trunk when they hear your footsteps. The movement briefly awakens sleepy birds; they chirp a few times before going back to sleep.
A thick carpet of golden leaves line the ground below the amazing tree. They softly crackle as you lie down under Memaw’s strong branches. A soft wind stirs and golden leaves flutter down towards the ground. Several of them land on top of you and you lovingly brush them aside. One last golden leaf in the shape of a heart begins to flutter down from a tall branch. It seems to be floating in slow motion and you watch it as it swirls and twirls downward. Finally, it softly lands on your chest. You don’t brush it away. It softly whispers a message that is just for you. (Pause) (Go to the ending)
Version 3- The Dream Maker’s Pumpkin Patch
Themes: The goodness of planting, tending & harvesting, a connection to all living things, sharing,
The dream train passes acres and acres of trees that are adorned with orange, gold, rust, and brick red leaves. They rustle in the cool autumn breeze, shimmering in the moonlight. Looking out your window, you see a path winding through the trees and you wonder where it leads. You’re about to find out. The train slowly comes to a stop in front of the path. The moon lights the way as you, the other children, and the Dream Maker follow the winding path through the woods. It’s so quiet that you notice the small noises; each footstep causes the leaves to softly crackle and crickets continually sing their evening song. Shy animals stay safely tucked in their thickets as they quietly watch you pass by. Finally, the path ends and you find yourself in a gigantic pumpkin patch. The Dream Maker proudly tells you that she planted pumpkin seeds last spring and has been faithfully tending them ever since. Now, she wants to share the harvest with you.
The Dream Maker tells you that you can choose a pumpkin of your very own. You enjoy the cool night air on your face as you walk up and down the rows of pumpkins, searching for the one that is just right for you. There are large pumpkins and small pumpkins—round pumpkins and lopsidedpumpkins. You bend down and gently touch one pumpkin and then another. For some reason, a pumpkin in the distance catches your eye and you walk over to it. When you touch it, you feel as if you’ve found an old friend. Carefully pick it up and head back down the path towards the train. After boarding the Dream Train, you put your pumpkin on the seat next to you. The other dreamers are settling back in their seats with their own pumpkins. (Go to the ending)
Visualization improves with practice and eventually your child will be able to relax and visualize delightful stories at will, making falling asleep a delightful experience.