Okay, I exaggerated it’s not magical, but these strategies are so simple, quick, and effective, they feel like magic. I have used the 1-2-3 Magic system for 17-years, both as a psychologist and as an early childhood coordinator. If implemented correctly it works just like magician casting a spell.
For now we are only going to discuss stop behaviors. Stop behaviors include: aggression, yelling, pouting, whining, and arguing. Basically any behavior you want your child to stop doing.
Using a counting system to stop unwanted behaviors in children with special needs requires modifications. Children with ADHD and autism typically have problems processing information given through auditory directions. Therefore, add visual supports or your child will look at you as if you’ve lost your mind!
Visual Supports Needed
Social Story. Children need the discipline procedure read to them with pictures of the time-out space, the timer, etc. The story needs to be very simple with only one to two sentences to a page.
Time Timer. The Time Timer is a timer that has a red disk that disappears as time elapses. The best part is no irritating ticking, distractions, or setup. Click here to watch a video on the Time Timer. http://www.timetimer.com
HOW TO WORK MAGIC
First, read the social story. Second, read the story often. Repetition is the key. Now comes the tricky part, implementation. When you see “Johnny” doing something he is not suppose to be doing say, “That’s 1.” If he doesn’t stop say, “That’s 2.” If he still doesn’t stop, say, “That’s 3.” Then walk him to his time-out place. This can consist of a square on the floor made of duct tape (thinking square), his room, or whatever place you deem the time-out spot. Once he calms down start the timer. When the red is gone, time is up and Johnny is free. Sounds simple right? That’s because it is, but there are a few key components.
Reduce talking too much. Only count.
Stay level headed. Show no emotion.
Still need help? Call the Mindful Child Aerial Yoga team at 913-660-8219 or sign up for one of our behavior management workshops.
“When you don’t go within, you go without. ” – Yogi Bhajan
Science is beginning to prove that Eastern methods of healing such as meditation and yoga are valid ways to address psychological conditions. Research suggests that breathing exercises and yoga postures can be individualized to address psychological disorders. Different types of yoga help different disorders. For example, kundalini yoga has been found to reduce symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (Shannahoff-Khalsa 2006; Shannahoff-Khalsa & Beckett, 1996). Not sure what a kundalini yoga practice entails? Check out my earlier blog entitled, “What is Kundalini?”
HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN?
Mantras are an important element of kundalini yoga techniques. Yoga philosophy asserts that in the upper palate of the mouth reside 84 meridian points that interact with the tongue when sound is uttered. When a mantra is repeated the tongue stimulates the points of the upper palate in a certain sequence. The repeated sequential sequence is transmitted to higher brain centers through the hypothalamus and thalamus, which affects the psyche.
WHAT DOES THE RESEARCH SAY?
In a study using an 11-part kundalini yoga protocol the obsessive-compulsive disorder subjects who participated in yoga showed significant improvements when compared to the control group (Shannahoff-Khalsa, 1997; Shannahoff-Khalsa et al., 1999). The yoga group demonstrated a 62% improvement in mood, whereas the control group declined 2%. Additionally, the kundalini group had a 48% reduction in stress levels. Researchers hypothesized that the retention in participants for this year long study came from the rapid relief felt from participating in kundalini yoga therapy.
Shannahoff-Khalsa, D. (1997). Yogic techniques are effective in the treatment of obsessive–compulsive disorders. In E. Hollander & D. Stein (Eds.), Obsessive– compulsive disorders: Diagnosis, etiology, and treatment (pp. 283–329). New York, NY: Marcel Dekker.
Shannahoff-Khalsa, D. (2006). Kundalini yoga meditation: Techniques specific for psy- chiatric disorders, couples therapy, and personal growth. New York, NY: Norton.
Shannahoff-Khalsa, D., & Beckett, L. R. (1996). Clinical case report: Efficacy of yogic techniques in the treatment of obsessive–compulsive disorders. The International Journal of Neuroscience, 85, 1–17. doi:10.3109/00207459608986347
TheABC’s of Yoga for Kids is one of my favorite yoga books to use with children, including children with special needs such as ADHD and autism. Children with special needs require simplicity and visual support. This book has both. Each letter of the alphabet is a different yoga pose. Children are not only learning yoga, but their letters as well. The children love the colorful pictures and rhymes that describe how to get into each pose. It takes approximately an hour to read the book if each pose is practiced. I break it up into three sessions. It’s best to find proper alignment and hold the pose instead of rushing through them.
The benefits of yoga for children include: balance, flexibility, coordination, and strength. Additionally, yoga promotes calmness and relieves stress. This books offers a multitude of wellness and mental health benefits and best of all it’s fun!
The ABCs of Yoga for Kids can be ordered online through Amazon. Ready? Find your center, breathe, and soar.
Power, T. A., & Rietz, K. (2009). The ABCs of yoga for kids. Pacific Palisades, CA: Stafford House.
“The art of medicine consists in amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.”
The human body has an amazing ability to heal itself, given the right help. The downside is nature is super slow. Correcting nutritional deficits can take months if not years. Dr. Campbell-McBride has developed a nutritional treatment for psychological disorders based on the assumption that the association between physical and mental health, nutrient intake, and the condition of our digestive system is conclusive. This means that by fixing the child’s diet, hence the gut, cognitive and social impairments can be significantly improved.
WHAT IS GUT AND PSYCHOLOGY SYNDROME (GAPS)?
Antibiotic use has a serious damaging effect on the good bacteria in the gut. This coupled with a diet filled with processed and fast foods give nourishment to pathogens or bad bacteria, which then grow into big colonies and take over areas of the digestive tract. Yuck!
Gut flora is needed for appropriate digestion and absorption of food. If the child’s gut flora is not balanced then the child will not digest or absorb foods appropriately, which will result in nutritional deficiencies. Since gut flora is needed for a good immune system a cycle of infections and antibiotics follow resulting in further damage to the child’s digestive and immune systems. This results in allergies, asthma, and eczema. Additionally, without the good bacteria balancing out the bad bacteria the bad microbes begin to digest food in their own way making vast amounts of toxic substances, which are absorbed into the blood stream, carried across the blood-brain barrier, and into the brain. Thus, the child’s digestive system becomes a source of toxicity. This toxicity establishes a link between the gut and the brain forming the Gut and Psychology Syndrome.
HOW IS GAPS TREATED?
Dr. Campbell-McBride holds degrees in medicine and post-graduate degrees in both neurology and nutrition. Dr. Campbell-McBride has a developed a diet to heal the digestive system. She stresses eating foods in the form that nature made them. No processed foods, please! Many of the chemicals in processed foods contribute to hyperactivity, learning disabilities, and psychological disorders. The appropriate diet for GAP syndrome is one that avoids sugar, lactose, processed foods, grains and starchy vegetables. In her book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome, Dr. Campbell-McBride goes into great detail about diet and provides wonderful recipes. This book is a little technical, but a fantastic resource for parents.
Campbell-McBride, N. (2004). Gut and Psychology Syndrome. Natural Treatment for autism, ADHD/ADD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, depression, and schizophrenia. York, Pennsylvania; Maple Press.
Child’s Pose Press is one of my favorite yoga techniques. It is very calming and helps to center children when they are having a bad day. Best of all it can be done anywhere.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
Calms the nervous system
Eases back strain
Centers the child
Reduces excess energy
HOW DOES IT WORK?
At the base of the spine just above the sacrum, there is an area where several nerve endings come together. When you apply gentle pressure to this area it has a calming affect on the nervous system.
HOW DO YOU DO IT?
Have the child go into child’s pose. Sit behind him and firmly run your hands up and down his back from top to bottom. This will stretch and open up the vertebrae in the spine. Rest your hands one on top of the other at the base of his back. Breathe in together and as you exhale press into this area with your hands. As you apply pressure, also pull back energetically. Breathe with him for five breathes. If the child is upset this can be extended. While breathing visualize calm positive energy coming out of your hands. Draw the hands firmly up and down the back one more time then release them from the child’s back. Resume your yoga routine. This can be done several times if the child is having a bad day or displays excess energy. If you are not trained in yoga it is best to seek a yoga professional and receive hands-on training before attempting this at home. Namaste.
The medicinal use of essential oils can be traced to ancient Egyptian and Chinese cultures. Aromatherapy is taught in French medical schools and prescribed by European physicians; however, doctors in the United States typically don’t prescribe or use them. Hmmm…
The sense of smell is linked to daily functions such as relaxation, attention, performance, and alertness and these states may be achieved purposefully with different aromas (Butje, Repede, & Shattell, 2008). Lavender, my favorite, has been linked with parasympathetic stimulation of the autonomic nervous system. Whoa, sorry, I’m starting to sound like a medical journal. The parasympathetic nervous system helps us stay calm and relaxed. Thus, research has associated lavender with decreased anxiety, enhanced mood, and increased sedation.
Peppermint and rosemary have been linked with improved memory and cognition. Lavender and rosemary have been shown to significantly reduce cortisol, a stress hormone that wreaks havoc on the body. This suggests a protective effect that is anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, and anti-carcinogenic (Butje, Repede, & Shattell)! Amazing.
Essential oils may be applied in multiple ways; however, the most effective route for reducing anxiety and slowing an overactive mind is inhalation.
Oils used by aromatherapists to decrease anxiety, enhance mood, and reduce stress include (d’Angelo, 2002; Lis-Balchin, 2006):
Oils that are synthetic and called fragrance or perfume oils will not offer the therapeutic effects pure plant-extracted oils will and should be avoided. Oils need to be bought from a reputable source and no, Walmart, is not a reputable source. I order my essential oils from Young Living and use one of their diffusers in my therapy room. I’m impressed with their seed to seal process.
Like all medicinal products, it’s important to research oils before using them. Essential oils can be toxic, produce side effects and/or cause allergic reactions. Effective use requires knowledge to safely administer oils.
Butje, A., L.M.T., Repede, Elizabeth, MS, APRN-BC,F.N.P., C.M.H., & Shattell, Mona M,PhD., R.N. (2008). Healing scents: An overview of clinical aromatherapy for emotional distress. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing & Mental Health Services, 46(10), 46-52.
d’Angelo, R. (2002). Aromatherapy. In S. Shannon (Ed.), Handbook of complementary and alternative therapies in mental health (pp. 71-92). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
Lis-Balchin, M. (2006). Aromatherapy science: A guide for healthcare professionals. London, United Kingdom: Pharmaceutical Press.
Research has shown that adding vitamins and minerals, such as zinc, iron, and omega-3 supplements to the diets of children with ADHD, depression, and autism, improved their social emotional functioning (Kaplan, Fisher, Crawford, Field, & Kolb, 2004; Shaw, Rucklidge, & Hughes, 2010). Wait, say what? How does that work? Vitamins and minerals are precursors to neurotransmitters ( (brain chemicals that transmit information throughout our body and brain). If our body is deficient in vitamins and minerals it can’t make neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters regulate our moods so not having enough can affect our mental health.
This is great information, but children won’t always eat their fruits and vegetables. Also, some children prefer a “sameness” of food items that limits their nutrient intake. This is where EMPowerplus can help. EMPowerplus contains 14 vitamins, 3 amino acids, 16 minerals, and 3 antioxidants and has been proven to improve psychological symptoms. And no, I do not work for EMPowerplus, I have just read the research.
The EMPowerplus website lists a multitude of research studies supporting it’s use for different disorders. Since not everyone enjoys reading scholarly research I’ve summarized a couple of the studies for you.
Kaplan et al. (2004) reduced psychiatric symptoms in children with behavioral disorders by introducing EMPowerplus for eight weeks. Six out the eleven children given the broad-based nutrient formula showed significant improvements. The findings of the study demonstrated improvement on attention, anxiety, delinquency, mood, and aggression. However, it should be noted that the sample size was small and parents gave ratings on all the outcome measures.
Rucklidge, Gately, and Kaplan (2010) found similar significant improvements in 120 children (7-18) with both pediatric bipolar disorder (PBD) and ADHD, and an alternative sample of 41 children with just ADHD, who were given EMPowerplus for 6-months. The symptom decrease for the entire sample (120 children) was a 59% reduction on the symptom checklist. Wow, a 59% symptom reduction!
As with any supplement if your child is on a psychotropic medication do not stop taking it or start any supplement without first discussing it with your physician. Also, it is best to obtain vitamins and minerals from whole food sources. Supplementing should only be considered when your child will not eat a wide variety of whole foods. The two supplementation solutions that are backed by the most research are Juice Plus+, which is a whole food, not a supplement, and EMPowerplus. Finally, don’t expect results to occur right away vitamin and mineral deficiencies can take months to correct.
Kaplan, B. J., Fisher, J. E., Crawford, S. G., Field, C. J., & Kolb, B. (2004). Improved mood and behavior during treatment with a mineral-vitamin supplement: An open-label case series of children. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, 14(1), 115-22.
Rucklidge, J. J., Gately, D., & Kaplan, B. J. (2010). Database analysis of children and adolescents with bipolar disorder consuming a micronutrient formula. BMC Psychiatry, 10doi:10.1186/1471-244X-10-74
Shaw, I., Rucklidge, J. J., & Hughes, R. N. (2010). A Possible Biological Mechanism for the B Vitamins Altering Behaviour in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Pharmaceutical Medicine, 24(5), 289-294.
This is a great routine for children with sensory processing disorder.
Before starting the space adventure to the galaxy of calm. Have children put their mats in a circle. Start class with yoga rules, terms, and discussion of breathing through the nose.
Mountain Pose – Take a deep breath sweeping arms up as you inhale and slowly bring hands together at heart center while exhaling (Repeat x 3)
Climbing Space Ship Ladder. Cross crawls from Brain Gym – lift left leg and tap it with right hand. Now lift right leg and tap it with left hand. Cross crawls balance brain hemispheres and are great for neurological growth. If this is too difficult either help the child cross midline or have them tap right to right then left to left. Continue for 1 to 2 minutes.
Blast Off. Rev up the engine of the space ship – run in place and then sweep the arms wide while inhaling, as exhale bring the hands to the heart center and sit back in chair pose. Next, jump up as if blasting into outer space. Oh we didn’t quite make it – let’s rev our engines and try again. This time have children run to the back of their mats and then up to the front (Repeat x3)
Crescent Moon – We finally made it to outer space. Lets circle the moon. Inhale as lift the left hand toward the sky keeping right hand on thigh. Switch sides after 3 breaths.
Hello Mr. Sun (Sunshine stretch). Start in mountain or standing position, bend forward with arms hanging down. Shake head yes and no. Shaking the head relieves tension. Plant hands, take right foot back, then left foot for plank, pull elbows in and slowly lower to floor. Inhale as lie on belly with your hands on the floor under your shoulders. HISS on the exhale as you push up to cobra x3, tuck toes and push up to down dog, wag your tail, you’re a happy dog (Repeat entire stretch x3)
Space Suit – Bring hands overhead and interlace to make space helmet. Firmly plant right foot. Bring left foot up with knee bent. After finding balance have leg make figure 8’s in the air to insert it firmly in the space suit. Repeat on opposite leg.
Land on Saturn – Remain in standing position, plant feet with arms straight at sides twist from the waist to make Saturn’s rings.
Warrior II –The aliens are coming – Step back wide, with arms floating down to shoulder height, gaze out over front fingers, while keeping the front knee bent, make sure you can see your big toe.
Falling Stars (Moon flowers) Spread feet wide with toes out and heels in, as we come into a squat. On the inhale will shoot the stars (hands) up into space. On exhale, the stars (hands) will fall, draw elbows into ribs while in a squat. (10 breaths)
Warrior II – opposite side
Moon dust to hide from aliens (Sunflowers) Take a deep breath while sweeping arms up, slightly hinging while exhaling and moving arms toward the floor to pick up the space dust and throw it over our heads. (10 breaths)
Fold forward, step back to down dog, child’s pose – need a break to calm the nervous system after dealing with aliens, (5 breaths)
Star – Interlace hands on top of head elbows spread wide. Lets be a falling star, slowly bend forward.
Superman- lets fly through space with our rocket packs.
Rocket ship home – (camel) with palms of hands together to mimic a rocket ship.
Need to wash the space suit due to all the moon dust (Washer). Sit up tall in easy seated position, bend forward placing hands on the ground to put the suit in the washer, then place hands on shoulders and twist from waist with tail bone remaining planted. Make washer noises.
Dryer – Easy seated position , roll hands in front of chest and make drying noise.
Do a seated twist to squeeze out the remaining space dust.
Oh no! A meteor followed us home! Have children lay very still, eyes closed, on their stomachs, breathing deeply from the belly. Roll over children with exercise ball while slightly applying pressure. This provides proprioceptive input and is very calming. I play the “Star Wars” theme song during this time. Little boys love it!
Have class roll over to back for 1 minute and continue to breath deeply.
Wake up Sequence
Meteor roll –grab behind knees and gently rock side to side.
Space stretch – pull knees into chest, then let fall to right, hands stretched out wide in T position. Repeat on opposite side.
Cricket – rub hands and soles of feet together to wake up nerve endings. Have children place hands over their eyes to feel the good energy created.
Space Juice (sesame or jojoba oil, lavender, tea tree oil) – Ask about allergies. Lavender is calming to the central nervous system. Have children sit with legs crossed and palms of hands facing up. Squirt space juice in their hands and have them rub their hands together. When everyone has space juice have class take a deep breath together while sweeping hands up, exhale while slowly lowering hands in front of nose. Inhale several times before dropping hands to heart center and ending with the magic yoga words – Namaste.
Pranayama practice – with the lights off have the class lay on their backs. Give each child a hoberman sphere that glows in the dark. Have children practice making their bellies get big on the inhale as they pull the sphere outward. On the exhale have them shrink the sphere. Do this for several breaths. Next have the children put the sphere on their bellies and see how many breaths they can keep the sphere on before it rolls off.
Musical mats – place mats in circle, take one mat away. Place yoga cards in front of the mats. When the music plays have children dance and walk in a circle, when the music stops they must find a mat and complete the yoga pose on the card on both sides. The child who didn’t find a mat becomes the yoga assistant and starts the music for another round. One of my favorite songs to use is “Hip Hop Yoga Bop.”
Make rocket ships out of popsicle sticks, watermelon (in triangle at top), and bananas (at bottom). Kids love them and they are easy to clean up.
Aromas act directly on the brain through nerve receptors in the nose. Millions of nerve cells in our nasal passageways send impulses to the hypothalamus and limbic area, which are the brain’s emotional centers. Aroma of certain oils is linked to the amygdala and pineal gland in the brain, which are also associated with emotion, thus it can help the mind and body by reducing emotional trauma.
Lavender is associated with relaxed brain waves. Thus, when a child is upset, deep diaphragm breathing coupled with lavender, will have a calming affect on the central nervous system. Research demonstrates breathing exercises have been successful in reducing anxiety related to attachment disorder, agoraphobia or general anxiety disorder.
Children often need visual reminders to breathe, especially when they are upset. I make bracelets with lavender scented flowers. When the child is upset and breathing shallowly, I provide the cue, “Stop and smell the flowers.” Nine deep breaths are needed to calm the central nervous system.
Additionally, I use essential oils when teaching kid’s yoga and mindfulness. When mixing essential oils, always use oils that are pure and from a respectable source, such as Young Living. Essential oils should be mixed with a carrier oil such as sesame or olive oil in a specific ratio. So if you can’t find a flower to smell, make one.
Di Ciacco, J. A. (2008). The colors of grief: Understanding a child’s journey through loss from birth to adulthood. Philadelphia, PA: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.