by Dr Shen Li Lee

IMG_0618This was in a recent newsletter from Right Brain Kids that I thought was worth sharing…

Why is it important to have a Happy Mind?

The right brain is an emotional brain. When a child experiences trauma, the right brain shuts off. This has a negative impact on a child’s learning capability. In order to re-open the right brain, our children need to feel secure and loved.

How do we Help Children Heal the Right Brain?

A recent newsletter from Right Brain Kids shares four simple techniques:

Technique 1: Happy Endings

The right brain loves storytelling. A memory is a story. And every story can be rewritten. The right brain can easily change it – into something bigger (which often happens through fear), or into something smaller – through a creative, healing retelling of the story.

Here’s how to do it.

1. Begin with the first story — the original. Patiently give your child time to share and download what has happened. The more he/she talks about it, the better. Sharing is important. You can say, “Tell me the story about today.”

2. The original story can be shared by:

  • Drawing a picture
  • Acting it out (puppets and toys help!)
  • Recreating the scene with clay or play-dough
  • Talking it through

3. Be a good listener. When hearing your child’s story, it is important not to judge or make critical comments. This is a time for you to listen and share.

4. When you feel that the story has been fully expressed, ask your child, “What would you have liked to happen INSTEAD?” Listen. Give suggestions if he/she is unable to think of a happy ending.

5. Tell a new story. When you have brainstormed and found a satisfying ending, then take him on your lap and tell him/her the new story. By telling a new story, you have changed the neurological connections in your child’s brain. It is quite powerful. This technique is used in child abuse healing circles and domestic trauma centers. Of course, it is important not to gloss-over life; each experience has something to learn from. But when children are met with senseless violence or unkindness, it is better that they forgive the past and move forward to a healthy future as quickly as possible. A new story creates a new future.

Technique 2: The Healing Box

This is usually done in a group, e.g. a class…

1. Ask the children to share their hurts or concerns.

2. As they speak, draw pictures so that they can see the story and the others can feel compassion.

3. Once everyone has shared their feelings, fold the pieces of paper. Then put them into the Healing Box.

The idea is that they can put their concerns in that box and know that those memories will be healed and all is well now.

Technique 3: The 5 Second Hug

This is similar to Shichida’s 8 Second Hug. Listen to the TweedleWink “I Love You” Song with your child and hug your child while you do this.

“Our very beginnings on this planet give evidence to the importance of hugging. As tiny infants, we quickly learn to extend our arms to be picked up and to be loved. Touching gives us more insight into our exciting new world than our visual contact. Our mother’s touch calms and comforts us. We feel safe and protected in her arms. And we connect with the love emanating from her heart.” – Patricia Dejoseph

“We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” – Virginia Satir

When to Hug and How to Hug:

When your child is hurting and it’s too soon to use words, then it’s time for a hug.

1. Open your arms.

2. If your child comes to you, then hug for not one second, not two seconds… but for five whole seconds.

3. End with caring eye contact and a smile.

Technique 4: Emotional Freedom Technique

One very effective way to treat the little hurts that come our way is through talking each day. But another way is to release negative memories through a form of acupressure called EFT, or Emotional Freedom Technique. It is quick, easy to learn and easy to use in any situation, large or small.

As EFT founder, Gary Craig, shared in a recent article:

“The basic idea is simple. Every night, while children are being tucked into bed, parents should ask…

“Can you tell me about your good and bad thoughts as well as the good and bad things that happened to you today?”

Then as the events are being told (both good and bad), the parents should lightly and lovingly either tap or gently rub the EFT points.

There are nine points. You can use all nine with children, or you can simplify the process to just one: the “karate chop” point. It is located on the side of the palm.