Author Topic: Teaching a young child to meditate  (Read 2696 times)

TomThumb

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Teaching a young child to meditate
« on: September 04, 2013, 06:49:31 PM »
My six year old daughter has been diagnosed as having ADHD (by a Psychologist, Neurologist) and they want to start her on meds since it is affecting her relationships and her school progress. I am not too pleased by the prospect but am frustrated as to what else can be done.

I'd like to teach her to meditate but am not sure how. Research suggests that it might help. I have tried but she won't sit still.

Any suggestions?, thnx...

TT
Before you claim any absolute truth, remember you see only 1% of the electromagnetic spectrum and hear 1% of the acoustic spectrum. 90% of the body’s cells carry their own DNA and are not you. Your body’s atoms are 99.9999999% empty space. Humans have 46 chromosomes, 2 less than the common potato.

Matthew

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Re: Teaching a young child to meditate
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2013, 07:53:03 PM »
1 six year Olds are to young for school. In Sweden kids start school at 7

2 you're daughter doesn't have Adhd, she suffers from being a child in a system that forces conformity on her

3 in DGSM V, coming to a shrink near you soon there is a new diagnosis. It consists of being in your teenage years, rebelling against authority, and staying in bed till late morning .. It's not illness really it's being a teenager. But they'll prescribe meds for it.

You're daughter needs one on one time with her parents, and a fair amount of it to make up for the lack so far. Or you could let them give her ritalin (aka speed/amphetamines) which will screw her brain chemistry for life.

Really it's time to reconsider priorities. If this sounds harsh then that's good because we live in a harsh world where few will be honest, but quacks will give mind altering drugs to children whose brains are still developing.

EDIT: TT, I wrote this post in some haste last night. I have no idea how much attention you give your daughter. The key is the right kind and the type I describe below works to get through these issues. It's also probably mandated by law your child attends school so I realise this is beyond your control -unless home schooling is something do-able. Apologies are due for these assumptions: you are clearly a concerned and considerate parent looking for the right thing to do. The rest of my advice holds true, as does the advice of others regarding diet. Diet is a biggie: soda, sweets and processed foods play a big part in this.

There was a famous ballerina I heard about recently. Age 5 the school insisted her parents take her to see a shrink for the same behaviour your daughter shows. The shrink took her mother outside the consulting room and turned on the radio as they left. Immediately the young girl started dancing. 'Your daughter doesn't have a mental health problem, she's a dancer', he said, 'enrol her in stage school'. The mother did. The ballerina said, 'There I was suddenly in a room full of people like me, people who needed to move in order to be able to think'. The rest is history.

Matthew

PS here is some constructive stuff you can do:

If your daughter won't sit still then move with her: forget you are an adult and enter her world of play.

Build your relationship with her through spending time with her and understanding her worldview rather than imposing yours or the prevailing one.

Talk with her as an equal, like an adult with limited vocabulary and limited comprehension.

Make time just for her and you.

Never discipline her with violence or threats of withdrawal of 'privileges'.

When you have done some of this stuff for a while she will relate to you, when she relates to you she will trust you enough to relate to meditation - but name it in language meaningful to her 'let's listen to our hearts for a while' or whatever. She will also start to trust other adults and any issues at school, etc, will dissipate in time.

While you do all this be incredibly mindful and attentive, she may have something to tell you about life.

These recommendations are based on experience with two adhd diagnosed kids, one with mild autism and one with extreme abandonment and violence issues. They work. You have to work to make them work.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2013, 09:17:40 AM by Matthew »
~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

redalert

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Re: Teaching a young child to meditate
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2013, 09:46:38 PM »
Love that post Matthew, and totally agree with your views on this.

The only thing I can think of to add to this is diet, my son goes bat-shit crazy when he has not eaten properly. Lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.

joiedelivre

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Re: Teaching a young child to meditate
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2013, 01:36:33 AM »
Jon Kabat Zinn and others have created Mindfulness for children courses that are being taught throughout the US and Europe.  Here's one link with info: http://mindfulnessforchildren.org/.  There are book available too.  In a school near me the children begin holding a cuddly toy on their tummy feeling the bear or rabbit rise and fall with their breath.  I too have observed that some children seem to be sent to school too early for their individual needs.  As adults we have choices that children are denied.  Like not having to sit at a desk for hours on end listening to a teacher try to manage crowd control.  I also wonder if many of these drug therapies are designed more to make individuals tractable in an intractable social order rather than allowing individuality to flourish?  Separately diet does play a role. Cut out sugar, fizzy drinks that usually contain caffeine, chocolate for the same reason and stick to fresh raw fruits, veggies and pulses and it's almost guaranteed to improve.  Is there anything going on in the family dynamics that might be stressing the child?

Mpgkona

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Re: Teaching a young child to meditate
« Reply #4 on: September 05, 2013, 01:39:20 AM »
Matthew and Red are ABSOLUTELY correct on this one. I have been a high school special education teacher in Los Angeles for nearly 10 years now. I have handfuls of kids in my classes that have been diagnosed with "ADHD." Do these kids seem like they have ants in their pants? Yes. Do we get frustrated when kids don't listen to us or "sit still?" Of course we do. Do we wonder whether they have attention issues? Of course.  BUT, this ADHD thing is pretty much a myth in my opinion, perpetuated by the drug industry that hands out psychotropics like they're candy. I have seen too many kids in their teen years really screwed up in the head from ritalin, prozac, colonopin, etc. etc. Drugs is the last thing you should give your little 6 year old child. I cannot emphasize this enough. It WILL screw up your childs brain chemistry permanently.

Matthew is right, step into your daughters shoes for a while. Observe her, watch her movements, the things that are attracting her attention.  Every human behavior has an antecedent to it. Cause and effect. Your daughter isn't paying attention in Kindergarten. Ok, but why? Docs will tell you she has this ADHD disease and that she needs to be on meds. Or they'll say she has a chemical imbalance. NO NO NO NO NO NO. I would suggest much of the manifestations of ADHD are environmental in nature. Change her diet significantly. Have her get outdoors more. Sign her up for classes. Do things with her that she wants to do.  But for starters simply observe her. Conduct random observations of short, medium and long intervals. Look for patterns. I guarantee you will find them. Do some research on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and Positive Behavior Support (PBS). You will find hundreds of different observation forms that you can use to gather data. It might be difficult for you to gather data on your own child, but it has to be done. Or pony up and spend some money on a behavior expert to come into her home, school, etc.  You will learn so much about your daughter that you didn't even know, and you will especially learn things about yourself too.  You need to do all of this for at least six months though.  I don't know what country you live in, but if it's the US refer her for special education services at her school. They must, by law, investigate your referral and take into account her diagnosis. If she qualifies, which she will, the school must develop a behavior plan for her to help minimize her "defecits." They will look for alternative behaviors she can engage in that still fulfills her desired need, but reduces her inability to access the school curriculum and behavioral expectations.

Also, look on Youtube for videos made by people with ADHD about their view of the world. You will find dozens.  Also, as Red said, and as I said above, begin with a complete change of her diet. Veggies, veggies, veggies, and fruits.  When my own 6 year old has ants in his pants (which is 90% of the day), I look back to what he ate. All junk, full of carbs and calories. Empty calories that is. When he eats Kale salads, carrots, squashes, and other fresh foods, there is a PROFOUND change in his behavior.

Please, do not give her drugs. It will mask her "symptoms," but it will destroy her over time.
When you change the way you look at things the things you look at change.

TomThumb

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Re: Teaching a young child to meditate
« Reply #5 on: September 05, 2013, 10:20:32 PM »
Many, many thanks for the answers. Since this is a meditation forum I was perhaps overly direct with the question, not giving any background at all; I didn’t want to use you guys like a therapy group. Perhaps some more info would have helped.

Matthew: Please don’t apologise, I appreciate that the intention was good and am grateful for the time you took to reply. The interesting thing about your reply is that I came to some of the same conclusions… about a year ago! I have been working on this problem for some time.

I realised that she had a problem then and that I had to change my priorities and did: she became centre stage. I have given her a lot of my time, most days, since then, and we have a wonderful relationship, I am not sure it can be much better (OK, everything can improve, but it is pretty good).

And it is not that she is difficult at school that concerns me, hell, I spent a considerable part of my early school days sat outside the headmaster’s office because I wouldn’t do what I was told, wouldn’t sit down, etc. What bothers me is that she is unhappy. It is glaringly obvious. Ok, I mustn’t dramatize, not all the time, but I would definitely say that her default state is one of unhappiness or irritation…

Examples: she cries a lot. She always wakes up in a bad mood, and if it is not at the breakfast table, then it is getting dressed, or whatever, but sooner or later she cries. I try to joke about it at home, taking importance away, and call it her “constitutional cry”: to get her going in the morning, but it’s not normal. A lot of the time it is a cry brought about by frustration and anger, not by self pity. She is fiercely independent and self sufficient and will not tolerate anyone helping her.

I also suspect a sleep problem as well, since it is impossible to share the bed with her, as young children love to do with their parents, since she twitches and fidgets in her sleep, she doesn’t seem to relax even when asleep.
 
Her general behaviour causes irritation in her elder brother and sister and often leads to fights and tension. Recently she has started to get very angry and violent with her siblings and cannot tolerate noises like sniffing and coughing (could it be http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misophonia). My wife and I have tried hard to get her to understand why one coughs or sneezes, using simplified language, and we play games like “who can say why daddy is coughing?”, and she loves to answer and receive praise for a correct answer, but later if her sister is sniffing (the poor thing has allergy problems), then she will go ballistic… If I ask her to tell me why her “poor” sister is sniffing she gets worse… To try and keep the peace at home, and not provoke her, we all end up treading on egg shells, and being very careful about what we say and do around her. We treat her like she is crazy :-O

Generally speaking she is reasonably articulate in English and Spanish (for a six year old), with a few words in French, but is completely unable to describe why she gets angry, what was going through her head when she was crying, etc. These states don’t seem to be cognitively penetrable to her. Introspection doesn’t help her.

We do have her in classes: she does ballet, music, tennis and swimming. She likes to cook as well.

Mpgkona: I have tried to do a causal analysis of her behaviour, but it is really hard since she can’t accurately describe what the cause was. I will work more on this – it is a great idea… And she can be furiously crying about some thing and then just stop, in a second, and then just make an innocuous comment or ask you for something, in a perfectly normal way, as if nothing had happened… It drives me crazy! E.g.: “Come on angel, brush your hair, we have to go out” … screams, crying, anger… then suddenly “Which hairbrush should I use?”

Her school does have a psychologist and we have had a few meetings. I can’t say that I’m overly impressed… You can’t get a home psychologist where I live but we have taken her to see one privately for most of the last academic year (September – June). She was in a small group of other children with similar behavioural problems. That worked well, she learned to interact better, to state what SHE wanted, respect others, etc., and generally be more social and also to relax.

She lies a lot and is incredibly manipulative.  If I can detect her “building up pressure”, then I can say “deep breath baby, deep breath”, and she’ll take a long deep breath and you can see her relax, sometimes that is enough to stop the volcano from erupting!

It was really after this time and not seeing a great improvement that we decided to get a medical opinion (hence the paediatric neurologist) and also a full psychological profile (she was highlighted as having anxiety and depression and possible ADHD). So in desperation, as I plan the new strategies to start now, I came here, I have experienced some small fruits of the path, and if I just practiced more would get further, and would really like to help her to feel the same…

Great advice on diet, I would never have thought about it, I will definitely try that out and also the JKZ Web and book. It was thanks to his Full Catastrophe book that I first got interested in meditation…

I am also horrified by the use of meds and am pleased and relieved to see that you are too, that makes me feel better.

Once again, thanks.

TT


« Last Edit: September 05, 2013, 10:30:53 PM by TomThumb »
Before you claim any absolute truth, remember you see only 1% of the electromagnetic spectrum and hear 1% of the acoustic spectrum. 90% of the body’s cells carry their own DNA and are not you. Your body’s atoms are 99.9999999% empty space. Humans have 46 chromosomes, 2 less than the common potato.

joiedelivre

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Re: Teaching a young child to meditate
« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2013, 11:46:10 PM »
Is there something happening in the school that is making her react against: any inappropriate behaviour from others or bullying/manipulating?  Acting out may be her only way to express not wanting to be there.  Can you try another school?

Dharmic Tui

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Re: Teaching a young child to meditate
« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2013, 11:17:18 AM »
Sounds a lot like my 6 year old who has anxiety attacks. My wife used to be concerned about it but I've kept reminding her normal is an illusion and everyone is their own special crazy. It's sad we need to try and label what's wrong with us as if we're supposed to be perfect.

Funny enough she asked me what I do when I meditate. I told her to close her eyes, count to 10 and think of nothing and see how she gets on. So she asks me from time to time to teach her meditation.

Matthew

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  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: Teaching a young child to meditate
« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2013, 09:51:15 PM »
TT,

Some reflections:

Don't underestimate diet - it could ameliorate 90+% of the 'problem' behaviour. It may be an opportunity to redress this issue for the whole family too, reducing tension between your daughter and your older kids: probably there will be resistance but with the right attitude this can be overcome and you will all end up healthier and happier.

The 'treading on eggshells' is problematic: it's a sign things are out of balance: making sure you also give one to one time to the older kids is very important, they need not to be left feeling all your time us going on your daughter. Spending positive time with them will reinforce 'good' behaviour towards their sister and reduce tension in the family. It will give them and you a chance to talk about what is happening and how it affects them, for you to understand their needs and for you to explain how they can help their sister, e.g. making a game out of sneezing, not reacting to her anger. It will give them opportunities to start learning about empathy and compassion.

The whole medication issue is based on a flawed concept of 'normal'. We are what we are and when we are being 'normal' this is usually because healthy aspects of the person are being suppressed. If medication is needed to be normal this is merely heightened suppression, in most cases.

You may already realise this but I'll say anyway: potentially the most positive thing you can do (aside from diet) is to establish your own practice more thoroughly. Usually I'd say seek a quiet place (and sometimes you might wish to), however, in the current situation I'd say do it openly in front of the family, irrespective of noise and diversions: 'normalise' meditation by practising in the midst of the family milieu and noise: it will benefit and test your own practice and within days or weeks I would expect you to find your daughter and older children to take an active interest in what you are doing. Be ready with explanations and ways for them all to join you, for the older ones it may be sitting close to you and listening to their bodies, for your daughter perhaps holding a teddy or favourite cuddly toy to her belly and feeling the rise and fall. Children copy, mimic and learn from parental behaviour, so openly meditate regularly, if only 15 minutes once or twice a day.

Diagnosis: depending on who you see you may be told your daughter has depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, adhd, mild spectrum autism/aspergers or many other things, including Co-morbid/combinations of all the above and more.

In reality children develop differently and at different paces. In all likelihood get the food and relationships right, balance the family dynamics, develop peace in yourself and inspire your kids to it and irrespective of whether she actually 'has' any of the above you will give her the tools to find her way in the world without medication.

Finally, just give it time, and ensure things are balanced, that all your kids feel valued and respected equally. Over-emphasis on your younger daughter's 'issues' may cause harm to all concerned. Nobody need tread on eggshells.

The work you have done so far is clear and well-directed. Basing future moves in your own practice may be the strongest card you have to play next. I meditate on the bus, in the rain, walking down the street, whilst in conversation and on the cushion - it's not about doing, it's about being.

Kindly,

Matthew

~oOo~     Tat Tvam Asi     ~oOo~    How will you make the world a better place today?     ~oOo~    Fabricate Nothing     ~oOo~

TomThumb

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Re: Teaching a young child to meditate
« Reply #9 on: September 09, 2013, 10:11:09 PM »
Wonderful Matthew, great wisdom. Many thanks. I will give it a try and report back at a later date in case it is of use to others.

Regards and thanks,

TT
Before you claim any absolute truth, remember you see only 1% of the electromagnetic spectrum and hear 1% of the acoustic spectrum. 90% of the body’s cells carry their own DNA and are not you. Your body’s atoms are 99.9999999% empty space. Humans have 46 chromosomes, 2 less than the common potato.

 

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