Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Mind Jars

I've made no secret of the fact that things have been a little stressed in the Katie household just lately. Stressed is probably an understatement.  It's been quite a few months (at least 6 months) now really that Katie has been struggling to manage her temper. This past weekend was really difficult and I'm keen to find ways to help Katie understand her emotions more and find ways to help her start of manage those feelings.

The first step though is for me to try and help her fathom out why she is reacting in this way. Anger is a by-product of other emotions but the big question is what is making Katie feel so angry?  Is it Pip's arrival? Is it frustration at not always being allowed to do the things she wants to do? Is she simply tired? She asks lots of questions about her birth family, is that bringing up all sorts of emotions that she doesn't know how to deal with? Is she worried about starting Year 1 and the change of classroom and also the children in that class? Is she reacting to my stress levels?

Is it all of the above?

Another change in recent months is the rise in her anxiety levels. She seems worried about all sorts of things that she wasn't worried about before. She is worried about eating too much and being sick (food has always been a major problem with Katie); she worries about doing new things for the first time and will seek lots of reassurance from Daddy and I as to whether we've done it before and how it was for us. She seems to be worried about everything.  Why?  Where has this all come from? Is this a developmental phase and she is becoming aware that the world isn't the safe place it has always been for her?

I felt that something practical was needed at home to help Katie calm down a little bit.  I also want to move about from negative consequence parenting such as "time-out", although this is quite tough in the heat of the moment.  I've realised how alike Katie and I are.  Neither of us like being told what to do so using "time-out" seems to fuel a situation rather than diffuse it.

I found some inspiration from a blog that I've recently discovered called Left-Brain Buddha. I am trying very hard to live my life more mindfully and I like the idea of parenting mindfully and also helping my children be more mindful. This is a bit of a challenge for me because I'm highly analytical and spend far too much time thinking about things that have happened rather than just being aware of the moment that I am currently living. One of the things I love about Reiki healing is that I stay in the moment when I'm healing. I remain very focused on what I am doing and what I am experiencing. It's one of the reasons I also love doing yoga.

Anyway, I digress.  Whilst reading Left-BrainBuddha I discovered a post called "Mind in a Jar" Mindfulness Practice for Our Little Buddhas and it was all about creating a mind jar using a jam jar, water and glitter. The jar represents our brains and the glitter and water all our thoughts and emotions.  When you are feeling angry or stressed you can shake the jar, breathe deeply and slowly and watch the glitter swirl about and slowly settle to the top and bottom of the jar, just as our feelings also settle back down. You can also use the jar to sit quietly when you want a few minutes peace and quiet.  The jar can be decorated with paint or stickers and is a great (and easy) arts and crafts exercise. Once complete the jar needs to be put somewhere easy to reach and be available at all times so your child can access it whenever they want to.

I showed Katie the post and we decided that we wanted to make our own Mind Jars so we bought lots of glitter from Asda and found some old jars.  We filled our jars with glitter and water and decorated the outside of the jar with lots of stickers.  Note: you don't actually need much glitter. We got carried away and used far too much and ended up having to make three jars!

Here is what we made:



Katie loves her jar (and I rather do mine as well).  She has used her several times already.  We have put them on the book case so we can access them whenever we need some calm time.  It will take a bit of time to get into the new practice and I'd like to think of a way we can use this technique on the move (I'm not taking a glass jar out in the car but we could probably replicate it with a plastic bottle). We took Katie's into school to show her new teacher, who was also very taken with the idea and is now thinking about making a class one, which I think is a marvelous idea. I have warned her though that she might get told off by the Head Teacher if she herself is shaking it all day long!  So a big thank you to Sarah Rudel Beach at Left Brain Buddha for sharing this idea on her blog.

I'm off to buy some more glitter because I'm feeling inspired to make single coloured Mind Jars.


9 comments:

  1. Such a good idea. Sarah's absolutely fantastic - love her blog a LOT! I'm really glad this idea's helping Katie (and you).

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    1. Yes I'm loving her blog too and thank you for suggesting it to me recently. xxx

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  2. That sounds like a great idea. Is it best to use bottled water rather than tap water? I was wondering if tap water might get that horrible black "stagnant water" stuff in it but the bottled water seems to be more pure? I know if I have opened a bottled water that I can still drink from it a few days later and it will still taste OK but if I fill a bottle with tap water then try to drink from it the next day it tastes awful so I guess there must be something different between bottled and tap water?

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    1. That's a good point Greta. We used tap water. I guess you could also use cooled boiled water as well as bottled. I'm anticipating having to re-do them from time to time but that might be good anyway because it revisits the concepts and makes it fresh in the mind.

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  3. Hope this week gets better. I think the glitter falling in the water reminds us how the value of slowing down, of letting things happen, of letting our lives unfold "magically". Sometimes we get so busy reacting and organising, and in my case, worrying, about what happens next.
    Your blog about the weekend made me remember several past weekends when the children were little and everything backfired. I think often I wanted them to like things or activities I liked the idea of ("typical child fun") when maybe their idea of a fun weekend was quite different. Outings often were disastrous, partly because of my expectations. I think we have realised less is more as they have got older. Also some so-called family films are not suitable for under 9's!!!!

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  4. Also, I wonder whether Katie isn't angry at all but just anxious, anxious that Kit is replacing her as the baby, anxious when she remembers being a baby herself, and wondering whether Kit will leave your family eventually as she left her foster family. In otherwards she feels anxious around you and Kit when he is there because it brings up all sorts of subconscious emotions, and anxious when he's isn't there (like on your outing) in case he's not there when you get back. I've noticed all my children love having me to themselves, but after a bit they get more and more shifty because they feel just plain "odd" without their annoying siblings, as if the family isn't real anymore. I wonder whether Katie is watching the way you look after Kit and learning a lot from it. I suspect it reassures her that you treasure Kit, and reminds her how well you are looking after her, but also makes her a bit sad that you weren't the one looking after HER when she was that age.
    Please forgive me if I am analysing too much..

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    1. Thank you for your replies. I think you make some really interesting points and I thank you for those. She is definitely anxious, about everything. We have wondered about subconscious feelings. Today she asked if Pip could go and live with her old FC but I said to her that we are a family now and we'll all stay together. Katie is very much like me and there is a lot going on under the surface. I think what you say about outings is probably true. We'd have been better off going to soft play, which is what we may well do this weekend! xx

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  5. My mum made these for kids at her EBD school a while ago, think the water had glycerine or something in to make the glitter settle more slowly too (more like a snow dome). We solved the glass jar problem by using plastic jars - we eventually found these containing hair gel in Aldi at a cost of about 16p each so we didn't feel guilty just scooping the hair gel into the bin! Think the lids were superglued on too for further safety!

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  6. I like this idea - thanks for sharing it.

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