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Choose love, be kind. Be the change.

Choose love, be kind. Be the change.

The tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School occurred on a day created to celebrate love. There are no words to describe how devastating the after-effects of such a horrific crime are, not only directly to the victims and their loved ones, but also indirectly to the most vulnerable members of our culture at large. Across the country, people have come to realize that the rise in atrocious acts of school violence are horrifying symptoms of a much larger disease.  Human violence is an extreme product of our most primal urges to fight, defend ourselves and survive. These urges are...

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Strategies for transforming "I can't!" into "I did it!"

Strategies for transforming "I can't!" into "I did it!"

As a parent of four children and a pediatric occupational therapist, I have heard the statement, "I can't!" countless times. Typically these words are emotionally charged and often accompanied by some sort of dramatic actions as the child protests the task that has set the very weight of the world on his shoulders. As adults, this can be frustrating because we know the child actually can (or the child can with help). We have the insight to understand that "I can't!" usually means one of two things: 1."I think this task is too hard", "I don't think I have the...

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How to stay calm when other people lose control

How to stay calm when other people lose control

I learned very early on as a parent that it is virtually impossible to look cool when your child is melting down in an epic screaming snotty flailing angry mess on the dirty floor of a public place. Feelings of frustration, shame and loss of control are magnified even more when others are watching in pity and judgment.  I have also learned that when others are aiming intense emotions at me, like anger, sadness and fear, it can be difficult to avoid the impulse to react with my own strong emotions. Personal emotions can be painful, but there is something even more unsettling...

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The worry box: A strategy for helping children turn off worry and fear

The worry box: A strategy for helping children turn off worry and fear

Emotions like fear, anger and sadness can be painful, but they serve important functions for our survival. Anger can energize us to solve a problem, to stand up for ourselves and others, or to try to right an injustice. Worry and fear alert our brains and bodies about possible dangers. They also give us signals that maybe something isn't working and help us to see that we need to make a change in our behaviors or life situations. When worry and fear turn "on" they give our brains a signal or message to be aware of possible dangers or problems. Once...

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Fun activities to encourage focus on the breath

Fun activities to encourage focus on the breath

Attention to the breath is a foundation of mindfulness meditation practice. Research has shown that mindfulness meditation reduces stress, increases the ability to self-calm, and decreases emotional reactivity, depression and anxiety. Many children (and adults!) have difficulty calming the mind and focusing on the breath, especially when they struggle with attention, concentration, and being still.  One of the ways to help children to prepare to engage in the practice of paying attention to the breath is to use fun activities to build breath and body awareness. The typical breath cycle has four parts: inhale, pause, exhale, pause. Here are some examples of activities that...

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