Marsha Linehan the founder of DBT was in hell and was hospitalized for almost 2 years as a teen. Her story of how she recovered and went on to find tools to help others is inspiring.
Marsha Linehan's Story
Mindfulness is all the rage. But what is it really? Click on the link to find out.
I am hoping to start a new business on teaching DBT skills online. I am practicing by making power point videos while using Camstasia. It is a trial version so it has a stamp. The video's also include concepts I teach in Mind Up to kids. Here is the first video explaining the different parts of the brain and how being aware of the part of the brain we are in can help us learn to regulate our emotions better.
So I promote my classes through Facebook. Someone gave me an interesting reply with an opposing point of view. I want to post what she said:
"This struck me as something I might like to recommend to my daughter for her grandson who is having difficulties. However, my research would prohibit me from doing so as explained in this editorial. This seems to have a Buddhist-like connotation to it which would bother me greatly as a Christian. It seems to interfere with the inner consciousness of knowing right from wrong and suppresses the natural inner feelings and emotions. To tell you the truth, it scares me as it seems akin to brainwashing...we need to be very careful what we choose for our children under the guise of science.
How Social and Emotional Learning Could Harm Our Kids
How Social and Emotional Learning Could Harm Our…
BLOGS.SCIENTIFICAMERICAN.COM|BY INGRID WICKELGREN
I read the article she posted. If anyone has similar concerns or thoughts I wanted to post my reply:
Thank you for posting this. If I read this article I would have been concerned also. This gives me a chance to share my experience with the program. So, what is fascinating to me is that brain research is now confirming that many of the things we learn from religion, are actually super healthy for our brains. Things like being thankful, serving others, being self-aware and when we make or are about to make mistakes, realize it and correct our behavior. For so many years it seemed to me that psychology’s message didn’t coincide with what one may be taught through most world’s religions (Just so you know, personally I am a Christian). Psychology seemed focused on serving our own needs and doing what felt good and blaming others and circumstances. Don’t get me wrong—sometimes we need to mourn and feel selfish and sad and mourn and grieve. However, rolling in selfishness and blaming others and not taking control of our own emotions and how we react in the world does not bring much peace in the longterm. Maybe temporarily. And the awesome thing is that brain science now verifies this. Yay!
I started teaching MindUP last January. It is a curriculum that was created to incorporate in schools. Obviously I am teaching it at the community recreation center so what I do will be a bit different. Anyone can order the manual. Here is a link: http://www.amazon.com/MindUP-Curriculum-Brain-Focused-Strategies-Learning%C2%97/dp/0545267137/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1448067547&sr=8-2&keywords=mind+up
So one of the things the article spoke about was the ringing of the bell several times a day and that was a signal to stop whatever you were doing and do deep breathing. So there’s all kind of research showing deep breathing actually helps calm the brain. The bell is a way to get the kids to stop what they are doing and basically get them to calm down and get refocused again. I teach this briefly but since I am a small group class I don’t spend a lot of time on this. That said, I personally think a bell to quiet down and gain control is a lot better than a teacher nagging you. Of course there are a lot of strategies to get kids to settle down. At church the other day (I work with kids at church—but again really Mind Up is based on brain research—not religion, so obviously I teach this w/o any kind of religion involved), anyway during church when the kids came in we played ‘reverence tag’. The way it worked is one child was in the front being reverent and then chose someone who was reverent and they went up, then they looked for someone else being reverent. Crazy how quiet and reverent the kids were without me saying one thing. They totally calmed themselves down and they loved it. Yes, it would be nice if they just calmed themselves down without any kind of prompt. But if kids can learn to calm themselves, and enjoy actually doing it and want to do it…isn’t that great vs. an adult nagging them or having a behavior chart with rewards and punishments etc. Instead it’s fun and their intrinsically motivated. So I don’t know that we need the bell, but it’s the same kind of idea—taking a step back to calm yourself and refocus so you can pay attention to what a teacher or someone is trying to teach you, or to what you are trying to accomplish. A bell is just one way to accomplish this. A common example some teachers use at school is “if you can hear me touch your nose, if you can hear me touch your ears.”
As far as MindUp teaching kids to be non-judgmental, isn’t that a Christian value? It absolutely doesn’t mean we accept what is wrong. I have attached a sheet from the book to show examples of what is judgmental and nonjudgmental. Take a look. It’s things like eating food before making a judgement or not wearing an outfit just because your friend says you should. The program teaches us to think about others perspectives. It doesn’t mean we agree with their actions but we learn empathy. To consider others feelings and thoughts.
One of the quotes in this article says, “Directing, warning, correcting and disciplining day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment, the adult encourages the child to do what is right, whether or not it feels good.”
Wow. I find that completely exhausting. Yes, we need to correct and discipline, but how much better when a child learns to control himself because they want to rather than me following them around hour by hour, moment by moment. That puts the child’s behavior in my hands and makes me responsible for how they behave. I’m sorry—it’s hard enough for me to control my own emotions and choices, let alone another person. That to me sounds more like brainwashing, because I am trying to control what that person does and how they should act 24/7. Actually it’s not possible. We cannot supervise a child 24/7 and if we do we become helicopter parents and there are all sorts of problems with that as they transition into adulthood. I would much rather a child learn how to control themselves and actually enjoy doing it! In fact kids are thrilled that they are choosing for themselves to listen and be in control and when they are upset realize they are upset but can use strategies to calm their amygdala down so their prefrontal cortex can work better and then they can be in control of their own actions. Sure saves a lot of power struggles. And the kids love realizing they are in control of themselves and don’t have to be a slave to raging emotions that can be obstacles in their lives causing them to be in trouble all the time.
Our emotions definitely serve a purpose. All of them. Unfortunately, because of many reasons, (many biological), our emotions can be way out of whack and cause us many problems. (Such as depression, anger outbursts, etc. etc.) Mind Up just teaches kids to look at their emotions and see if it is rational and learn strategies to manage it. So many people struggle with out of whack emotions. If we can teach these to our kids, just think how many problems can be avoided or at least eased.
MindUp is just one tool, in a set of tools as we seek to help our kids (and ourselves). Correcting, discipline, and values are also impo0rtant. Sometimes we may need medication, certain kinds of therapy etc. to help us. MindUp may not be for everyone, and not every child is a great fit for the class. However, many are, and it’s exciting to watch them be thrilled that they are getting into less trouble and focusing more at school and home and getting along better with others. Also many report that their anxiety has gone way down. Thanks again for voicing your concerns. I am glad you shared this with me so I can at least share my point of view and some of my experiences and thoughts. It is so great you are doing research. Too many people dive into things without doing that. If anyone wants any more information please ask away so you can make an informed decision. Another session is beginning in January for kids ages 8-14. Here is a link to the Peachtree City location: https://apm.activecommunities.com/peachtreecityrec/Activity_Search/friendship-craze-mind-up/8622
The Fayetteville location isn’t taking registrations yet but the class will be on Friday’s from 4:30-5:20..
I wanted to give some suggestions of how to use the strategies we are learning in class at home or other locations. By now your kids should be familiar with the three brain functions of Amygdala, Prefrontal Cortex (PFC) and Hippocampus, especially if you give them reminders. To review:
Amygdala: The flight, fright or flight part of our brain. (Good for dangerous situations but often is triggered by situations that it isn’t called for like before a test or if your parents suggests you clean your room.)
Prefrontal Cortex: The reasoning part of our brain that can make ‘mindful’ decisions.
Hippocampus: The part of our brain we use to memorize items such as our phone number, multiplications etc.
The thing for us to realize is the Prefrontal Cortex can’t work well while the ‘Amygdala’ is going off so we have to calm our amygdala down first. Good for parents to know that sometimes we can’t push our kids too much while they are in this mode of brain so we have to help them calm this part of their brain down by breathing, music, snack, distraction etc. Once their Amygdala calms down, than they can use their Prefrontal Cortex. Our PFC has to be in charge before we can memorize so the hippocampus works so it is very important to learn how to use our Prefrontal Cortex in order to learn.
The kids understand this although may need a reminder or which part of the brain does what. Sometimes in class when they start whining or not listening I ask them which part of the brain is in charge. It’s pretty interesting because they answer “Amygdala” and immediately calm down. Yay! I am hoping this can be a strategy you can use at home with them (as long as we don’t make it obnoxious and stressful, it should work!)
Another thing they seem to have a basic understanding (again you may need to review a little) is being “Mindful”. Mindful means 1.) to pay attention to the moment (versus thinking about the past or future or being distracted by things around them.) 2.) Nonjudgemental.
I have attached a sheet that reviews situations that are mindful or unmindful if you need to review this concept.
Again when the kids aren’t paying attention or say something judgmental about another student (or even me!) I will remind them to be ‘mindful’ and usually they get right back on track.
I’m hoping the parents can reinforce some of this language at home and it can be a tool for the students to learn to control their emotions.
Last week we listened to a bell and the kids had to close their eyes when the bell would go off. Then it was a signal for deep breathing. When the bell went off again we could resume what we were doing. To help them be still we talked about how ‘frogs’ stood still for a long time before moving to catch a fly. So when the bell went off a second time they would try and catch the fly after they were still and did deep breaths. (Got to make it fun for them lol)
I was hoping to send everyone a chime the parents could use to help them stop what they were doing and close their eyes and deep breath. Unfortunately the chimes aren’t loud enough! Oh well, the kids still had fun decorating them. Parents may want to invest in a chime, bell etc. and use it to help their children learn to close their eyes and breathe deep. This helps calm the Amygdala down. Since this is a new concept we will be practicing it throughout the lessons. I’m hoping this can be something they can train their brains to do. I’ll let you know if I think it works (lol).
This week we will be talking about ‘mindful’ listening and seeing. Next week we will take these two concepts and practice them in context of social skills.
This week we reviewed the parts of the brain: amygdala, prefrontal cortex and hippocampus. Then the kids closed their eyes for 30 seconds and we listened to the sounds around us. After they opened their eyes we made a list of items that we heard. We talked about how we had to quiet our brains down to pay attention to the sounds around us. We processed the sounds by using our prefrontal cortex and then remembered what we experienced and used our hippocampus. We were being ‘mindful’.
Then we discussed what ‘mindful’ is:
1. Being in the here and now. 2. Nonjudgmental.
We then had each child choose a paper with an example of someone being mindful or unmindful. All the kids seemed to understand the concept. An example of being unmindful would be something like, “Not trying a new food because it looks funny.” An example of ‘mindful’ would be “Listening to directions given by your teacher even if you think you know how to do the problem on the page.”
After that, I read the book, “Simon's Hook; A Story About Teases and Put-downs” http://www.amazon.com/Simons-Story-About-Teases-Put-downs/dp/0966853016/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top/189-5975299-6035352. This is an incredible book about ways to deal with teasing. The kids love this book! I highly recommend it. It is full of strategies to deal with teasing that the kids grasp really fast. We talked about what people were doing in the book and if it was ‘mindful’ or not ‘mindful’. Next week we will play a game so kids can practice the strategies on how to handle teasing… thus learning to be more mindful. We will also discuss listening with mindfulness.
I am a mother of 3. I have a passion for helping kids feel comfortable in their 'own skin'.