, December 16, 2008
When I first picked up this book to read, I honestly thought, what more could I possibly learn about helping to foster calmness and compassion in children? I am sure there is not much new here. Quick to judge, I know, but as a nanny for over 6 years, a yoga instructor, a post partum doula, and a mother with education in Tibetan Buddhism, and early childhood development, I felt that my tool belt for calming children and reminding them of their innate compassion was well filled. However, I was quickly proven wrong. Within the first few pages, I was wrapped up into the book and fascinated with Dermond's ability to clearly and effectively touch upon so many aspects of this goal, that is much bigger than it may seem, and still remain succinct and to the point.
Using her expertise and experience as an educator, yoga and meditation practitioner, and 30 years of working with children, Dermond brought so many new and profound tools to the table that I at once felt compelled to adopt within my own life. While giving practical steps on how to integrate her theories into daily life, with each section Dermond gently reminds readers of the most direct and meaningful way to build on inherent qualities that children have - like openheartedness and trust - by starting with ourselves. It may sound simple, but how many of us who work or live with children really feel calm and compassionate most of the time? And how can we possibly expect our children to behave in or feel such a way that we rarely do?
A good example of that is when we are hurrying around in a mad dash to take care of our long list of to-do's. Maybe we get annoyed at the drivers, maybe we rush our children out the door, into their seats, around the store with the manic go-go-go behavior that is so common in today's society. Then little Claire in the back seat starts to whine because she forgot her favorite teddy at home. What do we say? Come on, Claire - I don't have time for this now, come on let's go...we gotta get to the store!" Or something of that sort. Maybe we try to remain patient and explain the situation better, but while we try to act calm are we really feeling calm? Maybe we don't curse at the driver, but are we thinking it? Maybe we don't let our children watch hours of harmful media, but do we?
Without judgment and in a most brilliant yet simple way, Dermond gives real examples, life stories and practical advice that remind us to slow down, calm our inner minds, change our environment, watch less TV and go outside more; while at the same time, loving and enjoying all that life has to offer - music, art, nature, stories, rituals, our breath, our movement, our constantly filtering minds - in a way that if children are with us, naturally brings them into a calm and compassionate state.
This is a book that I will send to each parent I know, that I will re-read on a regular basis, and that I can highly recommend to anyone who has children or works with children, or who simply wants a little help awakening the child in them. Any teacher will find a wealth of practical steps to deal with each issue that arises when faced with the question of how to calm children and also remind them of their compassionate self. Topics discussed include: Celebrations, rituals, routines, nature, stories, pets, high-mindedness, music and movement, concentration, silence, personal power, and the environment.
With a foundation of inclusive and wise spirituality, this handbook has more depth than it might seem at first glance. I encourage you to learn from my mistake- don't judge before you read! We can all learn something from this book that has not just given me new tools to work with, but rather has given me a whole new tool belt. For my family, it has made bed times easier, transitions uncomplicated, and the time we spend together seem slower, calmer and more meaningful. What more can I ask for?