Last week I was lucky enough to attend a presentation by a lady named ‘Maggie Dent’. I first became acquainted with Maggie Dent back in 2004 when I attended a teaching conference in Perth. Her workshop was all about introducing silence and stillness to our children. The theme of this workshop resonated with me so much so that I ended up purchasing one of her books, ‘Saving Our Children From Our Chaotic World’.
I remember when I returned to my classroom, I was so motivated and excited to bring to my students some of the things that I had learned from the workshop and Ms Dent’s book. In particular, I really wanted to try introducing relaxation to my students. I felt that these particular students could really benefit from this.
As suggested in Maggie Dent’s book, I had an open discussion with my students about the importance of introducing silence through relaxation. I also notified parents through my classroom newsletter that relaxation exercises would be implemented. This was a process that I didn’t just jump straight into, but rather we slowly worked up to the idea of relaxation. I trialled relaxation on 3 days during the week after lunch.
Some of the things that I noticed after implementing relaxation in my class were:
- Some students’ concentration seemed to be improved;
- Less arguments and fights on the days when we had relaxation; and
- Students would request that we do relaxation.
If you are considering introducing relaxation techniques to your students then go over to Maggie Dent’s website for a list of her books and there are also many free articles for download.
So back to the presentation I attended last week. There were quite a few interesting ideas that Maggie Dent described that I thought I would share with you. I have also implemented some of the suggestions with my daughter so I will share with you my success with these so far.
The presentation began with Ms Dent clarifying a couple of terms she uses to describe types of children. She believes that there are ‘roosters’ and ‘lambs’. Roosters tend to have too much energy; they may run away and cause scenes in the shops. Then there are lambs. Lambs are generally patient and gentle and they care about other people. When I think about my daughter, I would say she’s definitely a lamb. Even though she is only 21 months, she already shows her caring and gentle nature. If I am upset, she quite often comes up to me and pats my arm or leg and says, “Are you okay Mum?” Precious and melts your heart!
The one particular thing that really stood out from the presentation was the idea of how we connect with our children. Ms Dent listed a myriad of ways this can be done including:
- Use small symbols in the parent absence;
- Use a picture of the parent on the wall (especially useful if one parent works away);
- Give spontaneous cuddles and kisses;
- Hide notes in the lunchbox;
- Join in drawing and colouring together; and
- Make a lanyard. I didn’t know what this was at first. It’s a cord that you put around your neck that can hold something small on the end. Quite often you see lots of people use these in the workplace with their ID cards. This can be used for children to hold something special.
Ms Dent also went on to mention that, “Hurried children are often stressed.” These two ideas got me thinking a bit more about my daughter. I have really been having a hard time with her when I drop her at day care. In the last couple of weeks she has become so upset when I go to leave her. She screams and cries, throws herself on the floor, clings to my leg and won’t let go. I’m not sure why this has started but I didn’t really know what to do to improve the situation.
After listening to the ideas in the presentation, I have tried to slow down a bit. What does it matter if I’m 5 minutes late for work? I don’t want my little girl being so upset. Some of the changes I’ve made when we get to day care are outlined below.
I ask my little girl to show me some of the toys she likes to play with and some of the things she likes to do. We then sit and play together for a little while. While we’re playing together I also rub my hand over her back between the shoulder blades. This is a sensitive spot that helps to calm and relax and hopefully reduce stress.
I also talk with my daughter and mention often that I will need to leave soon as I have to go to work. She quite often starts to get upset when I say this, and asks for a cuddle. I give her the cuddle and continue with our game and rubbing her back.
The last thing that I do is to give my daughter a kiss in her hand that she can keep with her all day. I let her know that no matter what she does during the day; Mummy’s kiss will stay with her all day. Then I ask her to give me a kiss in my hand to keep with me all day. When I pick her up in the afternoon I ask if she still has my kiss.
So has this helped with the screaming and upset behaviour? The simple answer is yes and no. I have only been doing this for 2 days so I will need longer to see the full benefit. I have noticed that my daughter is more willing to enter the day care centre and she now grabs my hand to show me the latest thing. She enjoys receiving the kiss in her hand and I have noticed at random times over the weekend she mentions that Mummy gives her kisses in her hand.
On the down side, when I actually leave she still begins crying and getting very upset. Although, it’s definitely not as bad as it was. At least when we get there, she is much more relaxed and really enjoys showing me the latest things she likes to play with.
I will see how she goes over the coming weeks, but hopefully by slowing down, and spending a bit more time with her, she will be less upset when I leave.
Once again, I thoroughly enjoyed Ms Dent’s presentation and if you have the opportunity I would recommend you attend one of her events. She is entertaining, thought provoking and informative.
Have you tried relaxation in your class? If you have children, what do you do to connect with them? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.