By Sara Wiseman
Parents and grandparents are always seeking ways to help kids wind down.
Yet so often the common choice: putting on a movie—actually stresses kids out more.
That’s because most mainstream children’s media is over stimulating. Instead of relaxing children, it winds them up, makes them anxious or zoned them out—the exact opposite of what’s intended.
In choosing children’s media that will positively benefit kids, three elements are key according to Dr. Steve Koc, an Oregon chiropractor who’s worked for 40 years helping clients of all ages relax, de-stress and heal.
“Nature, music and humor are powerful healers,” said Koc. “Each element by itself is a natural de-stressor that creates physiological and hormonal shifts in the body. When you combine them together, you have a powerful agent for relaxation and stress relief.”
It’s not the first time the healing properties of nature, music and laughter have been noted by the scientific and holistic communities.
A Japanese study found that those who practiced shinrin-yoku (walking and staying in forests) experienced greater stress reduction. Dr. Masura Emoto, author of Messages from Water, gained worldwide acclaim for his research in vibrational sound, and Dr. Mitchell Gaynor documents his findings in The Healing Power of Sound. The acclaimed Norman Cousins researched the healing power of laugher in his book The Anatomy of an Illness, to name a few.
Koc became so intrigued by the idea of using these three elements—nature, music and laughter—for stress relief, he created Gnomies World, an award-winning animated children’s movie designed to help kids relax.
The film follows the adventures of the Gnomies, a merry band of characters who live deep in the woods, go on peaceful adventures in nature, and bring laughter to all.
“On the one hand, Gnomies World is light and frivolous,” said Koc. “Yet there is an underlying science in the making of this movie that is designed for deep healing. As one gets immersed into the world of the Gnomies, the brain and body are affected in uplifting and healing ways.”
“In my four decades of clinical practice, I’ve always sought out natural ways to assist the healing process. I’ve found very good results using breathing exercises, along with visual images that create a state of inner peace, and sound healing,” Koc said.
“Gnomies World uses all of these modalities in addition to the laughter response, to create a state of relaxation in the body.” Koc said. Because of this, the film differs from most children’s media in several key ways:
Peace and kindness
“There’s no violence in the film,” said Koc. “The Gnomies are kind and respectful to each other. Nowadays, popular children’s shows are loaded with sarcasm, witty put downs, and attitudes of “me, me, me. This negativity disguised as humor trains children and adults to think and act in ways that lead to negative outcomes.”
“There is an intention to create peace and harmony through this film. There is an intention to leave the audience in a state of higher vibration or attunement. There is an intention to uplift those who watch it,” Koc said.
“What we watch and listen to feeds our thoughts and feelings. When we focus on positivity, we reap the benefits in physical and emotional health,” he noted.
Nature also plays a starring role in the film.
“Without doubt, nature heals,” said Koc. “The studies are clear about the benefits of being in natural settings, with practices like forest bathing, earthing, green spaces and being outside. From a healing perspective, the benefits of exposure to nature are pretty much the same as the benefits from laughter itself: stimulation of the immune system, reduction of stress, and relaxation of the muscles.”
Gnomies World is designed to bring real-life, non-commercialized, actual nature to children. It was filmed on 12 private acres in the Oregon forests south of Portland. “I spent a lot of times outdoors,” said Koc. “I spent hours wandering amongst the trees, moss and mud with a camera.”
Reviewing the footage, Koc was surprised to see unexpected nature show up: “Out of nowhere, a frog jumped onto one of the Gnomie’s heads, and a curious hummingbird dropped by. A bumblebee showed up unexpectedly. Nature is always interacting with us in wonderful ways.”
The soundtrack is specifically designed to create a healing response in the body.
An expert in sound healing: Koc has produced four award-winning healing music CDs, and has used sound healing in his clinical practice for forty years.
“Sound therapy is well-documented as a healing modality. The way we choose beats, tones and vibration creates changes in the physiology.” he said. The movie is imbued with original music that helps relax and release tension.”
Laughter—the best medicine
“Plain and simple, laughter heals,” said Koc. “The mind and body let go of stress when we laugh—and this true for both children and adults.
“The feel-good chemicals of the brain, endorphins and the like, are enhanced while at the same time the stress-related chemicals such as cortisol and epinephrine are reduced. It’s well-documented that the immune system also gets a healthy boost as a result of laughing, and our breath and circulation are affected in positive ways.”
In 2016, Gnomies World won Best Animated Film at the Northwest Comic Fest, and Official Selection at the Oregon Independent Film Festival.
Gnomies World is available on DVD from Beyond Words Publishing. For information, visit www.gnomiesworld.com
About the author
Sara Wiseman is a Nautilus award-winning author. She writes the Daily Divine blog and is a frequent contributor to national and regional publications in spirituality and holistic health.
By Monisha Vasa, M.D.
A perspective of gratitude is one of the greatest gifts we can offer to our children. Gratitude gives children a more thankful attitude as they move through life, improving their overall happiness and well being into adolescence and adulthood. Fortunately, encouraging gratitude in kids does not have to take lots of time and effort.
Here are some “Get Grateful Quick” strategies to try with your family:
- Make gratitude a family affair: Children learn by imitation, and are more likely to learn from what they see us do, rather than what we tell them to do. Make it a point to incorporate gratitude into your daily routine as a family. For example, start by telling your children what you feel particularly thankful for as you drive them to school in the morning, or tuck them into bed at night. They will naturally follow suit. Moments like these become opportunities for connection and conversation, and help to encourage a daily practice of being thankful. It is important not to force the issue if they are not immediately interested. Just continue articulating your own gratitude; you will still be demonstrating an important idea that they will absorb over time.
- Make gratitude tangible: It can help children to be able to visualize the idea of gratitude, in order to make it a more concrete concept for them. For example, a fun idea for children is a “Happy Jar.” As a family, write down on a piece of paper what made each person feel particularly happy that day. Fold the papers up and drop them into the jar. They can be taken out and shared at the end of a week, month, or year, as a way to remember all of the pleasurable moments that were experienced over time. Other ideas include reading children’s books that foster gratitude, or creating a gratitude journal together.
- Make gratitude simple: It is helpful to remind our kids that we can be grateful for the simplest of things in life. For example, we might point out a particularly sunny day, a delicious strawberry, or a good grade at school. Although these might seem like simple every day occurrences, the act of noticing the small pleasures in life can help to cultivate joy. We want to teach our children that we often take important blessings like running water, food, and even our health for granted. We also want them to learn that, although we can be grateful for “big” moments like trips to Disneyland or a special birthday party, that most often, a meaningfulgratitude practice comes from paying attention to the beauty in ordinary moments.
It can be challenging to learn concepts such as mindfulness, compassion, and gratitude as adults. Encouraging these behaviors from a young age can help provide a strong foundation for our children. The fundamentals of resilience and well being begin in childhood. Let’s help our children, and ourselves, by sharing the importance of gratitude in creating a happy, healthy life.
About the author:
Monisha Vasa, M.D. is a board certified General and Addiction Psychiatrist in private practice in Orange County, CA. Dr. Vasa is the author of the non-fiction children’s books, My Dearest One and Saying Thank You. She is also a marathon runner and a student of yoga and meditation. Learn more about Dr. Vasaat http://monishavasa.
By Monisha Vasa, M.D.
As 2016 begins, we might find ourselves thinking about new years resolutions for how we can better parent our children. More than ever, it feels important to help our children develop tools that will allow them to grow into a conscious, healthy adults. One of the most important skills for emotional well being is that of gratitude. Here are give quick, easy (and free!) ways to encourage an attitude of gratitude in our children.
Engage in random acts of kindness
Children will often spontaneously share a toy or friendly words with a teacher, friend, or relative. Notice when children are acting or speaking in a kind manner, and say out loud how much you value their kindness. Similarly, allow children to witness you modeling being helpful and kind to others in small or big ways. Children will often model our behavior. Noticing and participating in acts of kindness as a family allows for more connection and positive experiences, which we can all be grateful for.
Spend time in nature
Nature allows children and adults like to slow down from the constant stimulation of day to day life. At a slower pace, we can become more mindful and use our senses to notice all of the beauty in the world around. We can feel grateful for the cool shady trees or the colors of a vivid sunset.
Create a nightly reflection ritual
After a meal, bathtime, and a story, children are often more relaxed and open to connection with parents. Use this time as an opportunity to reflect on the “highs” and “lows” of the day. Parents can start by sharing their own joys and challenges, which opens up the lines of communication and encourages children to reflect and share as well. Taking time on a daily basis to think about the day and consciously focus on big and small things that went well, encourages gratitude from a young age.
Engage in meal time mindfulness
Encourage children to be mindful at mealtimes. Removing toys, electronics, and books from the table can help children focus on their food, and use all of their senses to enjoy and appreciate their food as they eat. While eating, consider asking children to reflect on how their food came to be on their plate. For example, a strawberry didn’t just magically appear. There needed to be fertile soil, wind, sun, water, a farmer, a truck, a market, just to get the strawberry from the field to the plate. Allowing children to reflect on all that had to happen in order for the strawberry to grow and be eaten, affords a greater sense of wonder and appreciation for food.
Volunteer in age appropriate ways
Volunteering can help children realize how fortunate they are, by giving them the opportunity to help those less fortunate. Children may have an inherent compassion for a particular cause—some might feel strongly about protecting the environment, others may feel strongly towards protecting animals. Consider your children’s natural interests, and discover ways of helping that are age appropriate. Ideas include raising money for a local animal shelter, helping out at a food bank or soup kitchen, or even running in a 5K to raise money for a particular cause that touches your child’s heart.
Encouraging gratitude in our children from a young age will help them develop lifelong skills that support their emotional well being and happiness. Activities that support thankfulness need not be expensive or time consuming. Most importantly, make gratitude a daily part of your own life, and children will naturally follow suit…the whole family will benefit!
About the author:
Monisha Vasa, M.D. is a board certified General and Addiction Psychiatrist in private practice in Orange County, CA. Dr. Vasa is the author of the non-fiction children’s books, My Dearest One and Saying Thank You. She is also a marathon runner and a student of yoga and meditation. Learn more about Dr. Vasa at http://monishavasa.com/ and read her blog on The Huffington Post.
By Cindy Goldrich with foreword by Babette Rothschild
Parenting children with ADHD, whether diagnosed or undiagnosed, can be challenging and complex. But just as a child who struggles with reading can learn to decode words, children with ADHD can learn patience, communication, and solution-seeking skills to become more confident, independent, and capable. 8 Keys to Parenting Children with ADHD, rich with optimism, tips, tools, and action plans, offers science-based insights and systems for parents to help cultivate these skills.
Based on author Cindy Goldrich’s seven-session workshop entitled Calm and Connected: Parenting Kids with ADHD©, this book focuses on developing and strengthening effective interpersonal skills in both parents and children as a way to improve conflict resolution. Combining expert information with practical, sensitive advice, the eight “key” concepts will help parents reduce chaos, improve cooperation, and nurture the advantages—like creativity and drive—that often accompany all of that energy.
Following the parenting principle to “Parent the child you have,” Goldrich offers advice to help readers tailor their parenting to meet the needs of their unique child. The book also leads parents to recognize the value of being a leader and a guide to children, building parents’ confidence in their decision-making, and giving children a sense of safety, security, and confidence.
“This book is a godsend for parents raising kids who have the exciting but often challenging condition called ADHD. Written by a woman who has helped thousands of parents through her enormously successful parenting workshops and classes, Cindy Goldrich’s book is an instant classic.” — Edward Hallowell, MD, author of Driven to Distraction
“Cindy Goldrich has managed the Herculean task of distilling her decades of training and experience as a certified ADHD coach into one concise, easy-to-read ‘crash course’ for parents of a child with ADHD. Better than any other book I’ve read, it helps parents ‘see the world through the eyes of their child with ADHD.’ This book will be a wonderful resource for parents, grandparents, caregivers, teachers, and clinicians alike for years to come.” — George Bush, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Cindy Goldrich, Ed.M, ACAC, a certified ADHD coach and mental health counselor, lives in Syosset, New York, and works with parents, teachers, and professionals nationwide to support children with ADHD and executive function deficits. For more information, visit www.ptscoaching.com.
Visit the webpage: tinyurl.com/m7hfzg7
Title: 8 Keys to Parenting Children with ADHD
Pages: 240 pages/Paperback
Author: Cindy Goldrich
Price: $19.95 US
Publication Date: October 5, 2015
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