My husband Zak recently shared a story with me where Ellie was frustrated about something. That something was trivial in reality but to her two-year-old brain that something was knocking the earth right off its axis and destroying her inner peace. She stood in the hallway with her fists clenched, her body tight and her face shriveled up into a mess as she screamed in his face to fix that “something”. She was hysterical and as most parents know; fixing the hysteria of a two-year-old can be challenging at times. Rather than getting elevated with her or trying to talk her out of the mindset she was in, Zak tried something new. He stayed at her level, crossed his legs on the floor in front of her, relaxed his arms by placing his hands on his knees, closed his eyes and began to take long, deep breaths. She was perplexed by this response and slowly deescalated her behavior. Once she calmed to a level where Zak could talk to her, he asked her to join him. He taught her to sit on the floor with her legs crossed, to relax her arms by placing her hands on her knees, to close her eyes and to take long deep breaths. She did as he instructed. After a few deep breaths he asked her “See, don’t you feel better now?” and with that question, she opened her eyes and agreed.
Of course this parenting technique won’t work every time she gets elevated but it worked this time and perhaps it will work sporadically again and again until she begins to realize that she can self-soothe her emotions. We’ve taken this technique a step further and have begun to implement “family meditation time” in the mornings. I’m starting by setting a timer for four minutes. During those four minutes we sit in a circle and meditate with our eyes closed. I find myself cheating on occasion because I can’t help but giggle inside as I watch Ellie fight to keep her eyes closed. She tries really hard to sit still and “follow the rules”. Once in a while she peeks her eyes open to see if Zak and I are still meditating. She’s never seen us cheat and so she quickly shuts her eyes again and trusts the process of attempting to meditate with the family.
Some people are afraid of meditation. I’m not sure if they think its hocus-pocus or detrimental in some way but here in our family, we find it very valuable. It’s a way to calm the mind and start the day with clarity. I think it’s been a valuable practice for us as parents who are raising a two-year-old and also for the developing mind of our two-year-old herself. I look forward to seeing where this practice takes us in the years to come and writing about our progress at a later time.