Instructions For Parents
The following directions will help your student or child/teen obtain the best results. This program is effective for children from four to eighteen. Research has been done with children of all ages. For best results, this program should be used over a 12 week period. The child/teen needs to listen to an audio story 2-3 times a week. However, it can be done in six weeks if the audios are used 4-6 times a week. Your child should learn to relax and become aware that he/she has control over their mind and body. This will help them learn to deal more effectively with upsetting situations. As a result, your child will obtain a greater self control, self confidence, self esteem, and get along better with others. University research found that the Old Me New Me helps decrease anxiety, anger, aggression, frustration and other negative emotions that children and teens frequently experience. The program also increases self-control, concentration, optimism, self-esteem, and many aspects of resiliency. These researchers obtained the best results when adhering to the following directions.
The original research using this program was done using the relaxation audio before listening to the story audios. However, over the years researchers and clinicians have found using two stories before the relaxation audio enhances the child’s interest in the program and appears the best way to introduce the program. They look forward to the stories. We found that using the Star Story and then the Secret Place Story sets the tone for the program. After a couple of weeks using these two stories, we introduce the Relaxation Exercises audio so that the child learns how it feels to have their body completely relaxed. Then the relaxation exercise audio is interspersed with the stories over a 12-week period. The Relaxation Exercises audio should be used 3-4 more times during the 12 weeks. Also, the Slow Relax audio teaches proper breathing and reinforces the feeling of relaxation. Children and teens that experience physical symptoms such as stomach upset, headaches, elevated heart rate, and nervousness benefit from using the Relaxation Exercises audio to calm the body and reduce physical complaints.
Find a comfortable surface where your child can lie down. For the first time or two, stop the audio and check to see if your child is relaxing each part of their body. Do this by lifting an arm or leg and feeling the weight of the relaxed body part. Let your child know how he/she is doing by saying “Yes that’s good”, or “Let go even more” etc. until you feel the dead weight of that body part. Encouragement lets the child know that their effort is correct. Some children have trouble tensing one set of muscles while relaxing the rest of the body since they have to think “relax” in one part of the body and “tense” in another. For example, when we are writing, we have to have some tension in our fingers to hold the pencil, but we can relax the rest of our body. If a child has a great deal of difficulty with this, don’t get stuck; go on to the rest of the audio. At the end of the audio, check the child’s arm, forehead, and shoulders for tension. If tense, ask the child to let go even more.
Children need to know how it feels to be tense as compared to how it feels to be relaxed. Today’s children have so many activities in their daily lives that they have never learned the valuable skill of relaxation. Children, who are anxious, fearful or have emotional concerns that are not being dealt with effectively, will often be tense and irritable. Unmet needs can appear as distractibility, hyperactivity, and other kinds of behavior problems. Children with these problems may benefit from medication but all children still need to learn self-control. Behaviors like these can often be alleviated or improved dramatically with the use of relaxation and an improved relationship between the parent and child.
The purpose Slow Relax is to teach children to relax completely by taking one deep breath and letting it all go. You can help your child learn to relax by teaching them new way of breathing that helps then let go of all the tension. Explain that when they take a breath in, their ribs expand sideways, and their stomach moves out as though it were a balloon being filled with air. As the breath is let out their stomach contracts as though the air was going out of the balloon. Encourage your child to completely let go of the stomach muscles. Practice correct breathing with your child in this way. Sit by your child’s side as he or she lies down or sits in a chair. Using an audible tone, say the word “ahhhhhhh” in one long tone as the breath is exhaled. Then silently inhale. Do this for about five minutes a day for several days. This exercise is very helpful in teaching the child to relax completely. In order to work on aggression or anxiety the child must learn to calm down by taking a few deep breaths. This technique can be used in situations where the child is upset before it escalates to aggression, shouting, or out of control behavior. The technique can also be used when we become anxious during a test. Anxiety blocks concentration and memory and a deep breath can help you turn loose of anxiety and focus again.
Sometimes the child may not recognize the signs of tension. Sometimes it is helpful for the child to look in a mirror when they are upset so they can see the relationship between anger and tension. It is important for them to be aware that are becoming upset and recognize that it is time to take a deep breath, relax and “let go”. Since children may have a difficult time catching the moment they are becoming upset, we have found the use of a “CODE” word to be helpful. You chose a “CODE” word that both of you have agreed on and this word signals that it is time to take a few deep breaths and calm down. Children may chose a word like emerald, bunny, apple or any word that is used to remind them to take a few deep breaths and calm down. Some children chose a funny word because humor may help disrupt anger. It is IMPORTANT to try to use that “CODE” word BEFORE the situation escalates. When the “CODE” word is chosen the child must agree that he will not get angry when you use the “CODE” word to remind him. The “CODE” word should also be a signal for the parent to remain calm so the situation does not escalate. If the child turns the “CODE” word back on you when you are upset you should also agree to stop and calm down.
Stories In The Imagination
At the end of each story, you can spend a moment having the child or student visualize themselves handling one problematic behavior in a more calm and positive way. For best results, use an audio daily at school. For children that have difficulty sleeping use it nightly at bedtime. After all of the stories have been played, your child may choose a favorite story. It is always interesting to see which story is preferred because that story usually addresses what the child needs to work on. If a child wants to listen to a specific story again and again, this might indicate that he is listening in order to resolve that issue. Just make sure they listen to all 11 stories. Don’t be concerned if your child goes to sleep during its use.
Importance Of Positive Self-Talk
Positive self-talk and visualizing positive behaviors are included in every story and are the key in helping children change their self-image. People can change the image they have of themselves on an intellectual level but be unable to change their feelings about themselves. For example, a child’s grades may improve, and he/she can see the improvement, yet the child may still have a great deal of fear and anxiety about their school work. Positive self-talk used in a deep state of relaxation leaves a strong impression at the emotional or feeling level.
Here are some examples of how positive self-talk can be used. You may wish to develop appropriate ones for your child according to his/her own needs. . For children who are easily angered: “When I get angry, I can take a few deep breaths and speak in a calmer way. I will not hit anyone or anything. I can talk about how I feel instead”. Teach your children how to express feelings appropriately and give permission to do so by using the words, “I feel” and then as a parent, listen and respond to those feelings your child has revealed. Giving children permission to express feelings in this way lessens the need for explosive behavior.
It is important for parents to learn to be relaxed too. Children often experience stress in the presence of a teacher or parent who is irritated, impatient or excited. This in turn can elicit hyperactive, impulsive, irritable, or negative responses. By learning to be calm and having more patience you will experience greater family harmony and happier and less oppositional children.
An Important Note To Parents
The success of the Old Me New Me to change behavior will depend on a number of factors. One factor is that after a “CODE” word is chosen, the parent should use it to remind the child to calm down before the situation escalates. It is also important that the parent and/or teacher give frequent reinforcement, praise, and positive feedback when they observe new behaviors. Children need frequent positive feedback and acknowledgement of their efforts to make the necessary changes in their behavior. This may need to occur several times a day in the beginning and gradually diminish to several times a week. For example, when the child the child takes several deep breathes and calms down when you use the “CODE” word this should be praised. When the child remembers to take a deep breath, calms down, and expresses their feelings rather than getting angry or exploding, this should be applauded. Remarks like: “I noticed that you are really trying to calm down and talk problems out with your brother rather than fighting. I am really proud of you”. During times of stress, a gentle reminder done in a soft tone of voice is very important. During this time, parents need to remain calm as possible to model the behavior they wish to see from their children.
Another factor that inhibits change is the parents’ own unresolved anger from their past. Parents can direct that anger consciously or unconsciously to the child especially when the child’s behavior is upsetting the parent. That anger can be absorbed by your child and can affect the child’s interactions. Children may feel responsible and guilty for reasons they do not understand. Children can carry “left over” negative feelings from arguments at home to their interactions with other people in their daily life. The child may exhibit concentration difficulties and behavioral problems at school as a result of negative emotional experiences. Helping your child regain his/her emotional balance before leaving for school can be important for your child’s mental health if an argument or upset has occurred. If parents think back over their childhood, they will realize the truth in these statements.
Therefore, it is important that parents work at creating a positive atmosphere in the home. Discipline and limit setting should be done in a positive manner instead of a negative angry manner. Parents will find that encouraging rather than discouraging words are “Good Medicine”. Improved parent-child relations can be accomplished by listening to the audios in this program, talking about the concepts, values, and lessons in the stories, and applying these values and techniques in everyday life.
Positive parent-child relationship can also be fostered by spending fun times with the child. Some parents may find that attending parenting classes can help them develop positive discipline and structure in the home. Some children have experienced a severe trauma in their life. Other children have lost one or more parents due to divorce, neglect, or death. These children can present challenging behaviors and will test the adults in their lives to see if they too will leave as a result of their worsening behavior. Post-traumatic stress leaves a mark on all people that experience it. This program can help reduce the anxiety, anger, and feelings of being overwhelmed. In working with children that have experienced this trauma, parents need to set limits, be patient, and provide lots of love. When the negative results of trauma are addressed children can grow up strong, resilient, and self-confident.
(To learn more about the use of the Old Me New Me in trauma therapy visit: www.createanimagetherapy.com )
Parenting classes can be very effective in teaching valuable skills necessary to deal with difficult and not so difficult children. Parents need to find ways to strengthen their relationship and connection with their children in order to alleviate behavior problems and undue heartache for everyone. This is especially true when it comes to divorce. Divorce is particularly difficult for children. It can create a great deal of anxiety for them. Extra effort needs to be made to help protect children from felling that they are “caught in the middle” of these events. For more information on helping families deal with issues related to divorce visit our website (www.calmingthestormofdivorce.org ). Addressing issues related to divorce will make this transition easier and will pay huge dividends for parents and children. Don’t forget to give lots of love. It makes children feel wanted. And parents, don’t forget to say you are sorry when you know you have made a mistake. This helps to reconnect with your children, develop a strong bond, and models positive behavior for them.
Good Medicine for Children:
I can see you’re really trying hard!
Your getting better at this everyday!
I am proud of you!
You brighten my day!