Monday, August 30, 2010

Practicing Compassion

This week I am blogging on Practicing Compassion on the Your Infinite Life Training and Coaching Company website. Click here to be redirected, and enjoy!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Boost Your Child's Brain Power with a Little Imagination

Thank you to Dr. Charlotte Reznick, Ph.D. -- author and Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology at UCLA -- for contributing this post about maximizing your child's learning style using imagination tools.

It's just the beginning of the school year and soon the test grades will be pouring in - not always with the best results. Does your child have a learning style that sometimes gets in the way of his success at school? Is he sometimes labeled slow, lazy, or disruptive? Without understanding and support, kids with different learning styles than their peers can suffer from low self-esteem, anxiety from too much pressure, or a negative attitude toward school and learning.

Not every kid can be a super learner, but every kid can aspire to reach her potential. Your child's imagination is a resource that can be used to maximize her own individual learning style and boost her brain power and overall school performance.

Here are six imagination tools to try:
Go on a tour of her brain. Have your child take a few deep "balloon breaths" - with her hands around her navel, have her breathe slowly and deeply into her lower belly so it presses into her hands like an inflating balloon. Now ask her to close her eyes and take you on a tour of her brain and describe what she sees. Which images and symbols are happy? Which are gloomy or sad? Which part is associated with homework and school? The images she conjures up will give you a common set of symbols to talk about and work with.

Clean out his brain. Encourage your child to take time before homework to clear out his fuzzy brain of negative thoughts about his abilities or the subject at hand. Have him start Balloon Breathing, then imagine cleaning out the dust, clutter, and gloomy places with white soapy bubbles, light, or anything else that pops up. He can picture his brain primed to learn, or he can increase his brain power with a Super Smart Solution. Finish by having him imagine how satisfied he'll feel when he successfully completes his homework.

Invite a Subject Wizard to Help. Your child can close her eyes and ask for special help - with reading from a Reading Wizard, or math help from a Math Wizard. For example, have her describe the wizard in detail and tell the wizard what she wants him to do. In one girl's case, a Spelling Wizard helped to turn her spelling drills into a fun studying game. Her spelling improved to the point where there were just 3 or 4 errors per paragraph dictation down from 27! Wizards can also help during quizzes too, when they can come up with the right answer even when the child can't.

Give his feelings an identity. Next time your child is obviously distressed while doing homework, ask him to name the feeling. Then ask him what the feeling wants to tell you. When children are permitted to give a voice to their feelings, such as anger, their feelings will have a lot to tell you! Ask your child what the feeling looks like and where it lives in his body. Once a feeling has a name, voice, or identity, you can work with it. You can negotiate with it, ask it questions, draw it, erase it, surround it with a soothing or neutralizing color, and so on.

Create the ideal school. Listen to your child's thoughts and concerns about school, and ask him about his favorite subjects: What are the easiest and the hardest? How would he like school to be? Have him visualize what he desires – describing his dream school. You will learn a lot about him by doing this, it will bring you closer, and it will give you lots of ideas to play with.

Give tests a positive spin. Have your child imagine the grade he hopes for at the top of a returned test. Ask him to picture the smile on his teacher's face when she hands it to him. This is not hocus-pocus. Visualizing a good grade will reinforce his goal and encourage him to work hard to achieve it. The rewards for clear goals and hard work are practical magic.

Charlotte Reznick PhD is a child educational psychologist, an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology at UCLA, and author of the LA Times bestselling book The Power of Your Child's Imagination: How to Transform Stress and Anxiety into Joy and Success (Perigee/Penguin). In addition to her private practice, she creates therapeutic relaxation CDs for children, teens, and parents, and teaches workshops internationally on the healing power of children's imagination. You can find out more about her at

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Back to School

After shifting into the glorious groove of summer, it is time to line up the uniforms, repack the backpack, dig out the lunch box and begin the daily routine of school. Are you feeling the stress yet? Your children probably are, and as with any transition, misbehavior may increase. Here are some tips for making a smooth switch from summer to school.

Find the Benefit. Our time may be more our own during the summer (or not!) and the change to a more rigid schedule may feel almost painful. (That could definitely be a projection!) Look to the opportunities that school provides to help regain perspective. There will be learning and growth. New friendships will be made and old ones recharged. Our children will experience fresh challenges and learn to meet them. Frame the return to school in terms of an adventure, of opportunities and excitement.

Tie Summer Activities into School Life. When talking about school, mention summer events that your child might want to share with his teacher and friends. A trip to a museum or a visit to another state may tie into a project or paper. Have him put together a few photographs to bring to school to share. Finding the connections between summer fun and school activities will help integrate the experiences.

Let Your Child Know that the Fun Will Continue. Even though summer vacation is officially over, you will continue to go to the beach, to movies, and on trips. Are there things that your family had hoped to do over the summer and did not have the opportunity to do? Put them on the calendar to do during the school year. Ask your child for one thing he had wanted to do over the summer but did not, and put that on the calendar, too.

Contact Friends Before School Begins. Have your child call a few school friends in advance of the first day. They can reconnect so they feel more comfortable when they meet up at school. Knowing they have spoken will add familiarity to the many unknowns of the new school year.

Involve Your Child in Back-to-School Preparations. Have him list the things he needs and allow him to help you with the shopping. Create a check list on the computer. Does he need a new lunch box, backpack, or more uniforms? Do her school shoes still fit? Does he need a haircut, school supplies, or lunch items? Have him prepare daily menus if he takes his lunch so everything will be on hand. Make shopping for what you need an adventure.

Create Space to Discuss Feelings. Provide opportunities for your child to express his feelings about returning to school. Be supportive and encouraging. If he expresses fears, help him discover what he can do to feel more comfortable.

Routines Make Things Smooth. Routines are calming and soothing. Begin to roll back the bedtime to an hour acceptable for the school year. If your child wakes up to an alarm clock have him set it earlier each day until he is waking up at the appropriate time for school. Discuss the schedule in advance. Be clear on the time he will get out of bed and the time you will leave for school. Will she choose her school clothes the night before or in the morning? Do you want to include new things this year, such as your child waking to an alarm clock or preparing his own lunch or breakfast? Will he take a bath before bed or before school? Create clarity prior to the first day of school, particularly if there are changes from last year such as a new school, different departure times, or added responsibilities.

Monitor your stress. Your body is your greatest barometer for measuring stress, so check in periodically and teach your child to check in, too. Notice your face, shoulders, jaw and arms. If you are feeling tense, take a few moments to move and breath deeply. Just as you would do in a yoga class, tense your muscles then let them go. Raise your shoulders to your ears, then let them drop down. Tighten your face muscles, pulling everything to the center of your face, then release. Relax your jaw. Make fists then let your hands fall to your sides. This -- along with taking deep belly breaths -- is an easy relaxation technique to practice with your child.

All the best for a fun and exciting new school year!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Limiting Beliefs

I was in a beautiful class this weekend on Limiting Beliefs facilitated by Pam Dunn, president of Your Infinite Life Training and Coaching Company. It was a weekend of discovery, as twenty-two people uncovered limiting beliefs and moved through fears. This is a wonderful course for parents, because our limiting beliefs influence our parenting and our relationships with our children.

We are all belief driven. Some beliefs we are aware of. Others are below our level of awareness. Limiting beliefs fit into the latter category and although they may have kept us safe or worked for us in a beneficial way at some point in our lives, they limit us from full satisfaction or closeness in our relationships or success in our work now. Shifting a limiting belief is liberating. You feel a tremendous freedom in your life.

Wes Hopper, who writes Daily Gratitude, just today sent out an article called “Expand Your Limits” which is, wildly enough, about limiting beliefs. Here is what Wes has to say:

Rabbi Michael Lerne said, "Idolatry is believing that what now exists is the only possibility." Every important aspect of our lives is constructed from the building materials of our beliefs. Change your beliefs, build a different life. That's what Rabbi Lerne is telling us. Ah, but it's not so simple, is it?

Why is it so difficult? It's because beliefs are powerful, they are often hidden, and we've lived with them for so long that we don't question them. We just live with the results.

Here's my challenge for you today. Think of one thing that you'd kinda like to do, but which you think is just not something you'd ever be good at. You could never get up and speak to a group? Sure you can. Find a local Toastmasters Club and learn how. That's how my wife Sandra got started. Her first talk, she was so nervous she fell off her high heels! Two years in Toastmasters and she was a confident pro.

Like to write, but don't think you've got anything important to say? Go to and start your own blog. Start writing.

As our quote says, what's true now is NOT the only possibility. It's just a childhood belief. So pick something impossible for you and just do it. If other people are doing it, you can too. Expand your limits of the possible!

You'll be grateful you did!

Thanks, Wes!