One of the most difficult challenges facing a parent can be how to calm an emotional child. Often it feels like nothing is getting through. There is a reason for that. Stress and emotion block rational thought.
When teacher Julie Lolond was taking her Masters of Education at SFU she researched a technique called mindfulness meditation.
Put simply, it involves focusing on breathing for 30 seconds to two minutes to calm the brain so that you can focus rationally on an issue.
Lolond found that the technique has had almost immediate positive effects on her class of 10 year olds.
They have improved memory, concentration, and listening skills. They are better able to cope with bullying, conflict, emotional issues, self-doubt, and more extreme issues such as a parent’s illness or death.
Lolond says believes the technique can also work in the home. In her class she has a mindfulness bottle. It’s a plastic water bottle filled with water and sparkles. When two students are in conflict or when a student is feeling stressed or frustrated, they shake the bottle and then watch it until all the glitter settles to the bottom.
As they are watching they take deep breaths and by the time it settles, they are able to calmly discuss their problems. That’s when they begin to talk about what the issues are and the solutions.Lolond says the reason it works is that during stress, rational thoughts are often blocked by the fight or flight response. Calming the brain allows those thoughts to get through.
She says a parent and a child can make the bottle together, discuss when it can be used, why it works and even give it a name. Just make sure that the top is very secure. While her grade five class is made up of 10 year olds, Lolond believes it will work with younger children. She says friends with 6 and 7 year olds say it has been effective.
While her SFU capstone project focused solely on the classroom and not the home setting, Lolond sees the potential for parents.
The research is a good example of SFU Engage, engaging students, engaging research, engaging communities, to find solutions to real world problems.