By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
Can Yoga help an unruly child? Yoga training teaches self-awareness, allowing the child to get in touch with inner feelings and thoughts. This self-monitoring helps the child begin to notice how emotions or situations affect life, so that methods can be learned to cope, confront, and deal with emotional turmoil. Additionally, self-awareness leads to a sense of heightened self-esteem because the child feels more confident and in control. Unruly children often suffer from low self-esteem, which causes them to act out. When they begin to feel better about themselves, they no longer need to act out.
Practicing Yogic exercise also teaches a child to relax and let go of stress and anxiety. Since Yogic methods are designed to help clear the mind of any distractions,and focus on the moment, the child practicing Yoga learns to deal with stressful situations by breathing correctly, using movement to release pent up energy, or by using meditation to calm the nerves. These stressors can be the culprits of the behavior that results in a child being labeled as unruly.
Another way that Yoga helps a child is by teaching the child self-discipline. When practicing Yoga, a child needs to hold poses, complete breathing exercises, and follow meditation techniques. These methods require that the child focuses, and slows down enough, to complete each part of a session precisely. Yoga encourages each child to do this independently. This positively affects a child’s daily life, because he or she will learn to control actions, without having to wait for adult guidance.
Since the poses in Yoga encourage children to emulate the postures of animals and other forms in nature, children also learn empathy, to establish a deeper connection with the world and community around them. Again, this positively impacts an unruly child’s daily life, since this empathy can then be employed when he or she coexists with classmates, siblings, and others in daily life.
Since a child practicing postures often practices at home, with his or her family, the time spent with loved ones, present in the moment, influences a child to be calm and feel loved. Many times, unruly children thirst for parental attention. Family Yoga time is a great opportunity to provide attention within a structured format.
Children, who constantly struggle with personal behavior issues, are often labeled unruly. Sometimes, this label encourages the child, who is labeled as such, to continue acting disruptive because it draws attention. Many parents and teachers feel overwhelmed in dealing with an unruly child, to the point that they might simply feel like giving up trying to bring any structure into the child’s life. The poses, breathing practices, and meditation performed during Yoga practice are ideal for gradually reaching an unruly child, because structured attention is received in a typical session.
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