Kids go through so much. Many bring their distress to school with invisible wounds that manifest in resistant or dysregulated behaviors. The behaviors continue until someone reacts, and then many kids enter a cycle of discipline and alienation.
And their unattended needs remain unattended.
Often children cry out for help with actions not words. And those actions land them in missed recesses and other reactive measures that don’t address the underlying pain being expressed.
I get that kids need consequences for their mis-behaviors.
They also need to be heard and to be given tools to survive the murky emotional waters they may be sinking into.
One of our students, a fifth grader named Marcos (not his real name) really disliked the Slow Breath Practice. Even though he knew it was a silent time, he would tap his feet, make fart sounds, or hum under his breath. Total distraction for the other students and total frustration for me.
After a few sessions of enduring his sabotaging efforts, I met him in the hall on the way to group and asked to speak to him privately. I let him know that while I respected his choice not to participate in our mindfulness minutes, I needed his help. I asked him to not get in the way of the calming relief the other kids were experiencing.
He agreed. From that day on, Marcos let us get through our Slow Breath Practice without a peep.
Then one day a few weeks later, he totally blew my mind.
After we finished breathing together, we asked if anyone wanted to share their experience. Marcos raised his hand. He told us that he really loves how peaceful he feels after mindfulness.
He continued to reveal that his parents were getting divorced and he heard his mother crying a lot. That made him really sad. And now, after he experienced the calm meditating could bring, he asked his mother if he could teach her the Slow Breath Practice. She said yes and they’ve been spending time breathing together every day.
He was so proud to let us know that she loved sharing this time with him.
He had given her something that really mattered for both of them.
How amazing that he had a way to teach his mom to feel better. How amazing that WE have a way to teach our students to feel better. It appears to be true that the simple act of consciously breathing with others can change our lives.