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Archive for the ‘Children’ Category

Let us remember to appreciate one another

This Rainbow Story goes beautifully with the Quest for Life Rainbow Ritual. Share your children’s rainbow drawings in our special Rainbow Gallery section on the website and we’d love to hear your story of what rainbows mean to you, after reading this story.

Once upon a time the colours of the world started to quarrel: all claimed that they were the best, the most important, the most useful, the favourite.

Green said: “Clearly I am the most important. I am the sign of life and of hope. I was chosen for grass, leaves, trees–without me, all animals would die. Look out over the countryside and you will see that I am in the majority.”

Blue interrupted: “You only think about the Earth, but consider the sky and sea. It is the water that is the basis of life and drawn up by the clouds from the deep sea. The sky gives space and peace and serenity. Without my peace, you would all be nothing.”

Yellow chuckled. “You are all so serious. I bring laughter, gaiety, and warmth to the world. The sun is yellow, the moon is yellow, the stars are yellow. Ever time you look at a sunflower, the whole world starts to smile. Without me, there would be no fun.”

Orange started next to blow her temper. “I am the colour of health and strength. I may be scarce but I am precious for I serve the needs of human life. I carry the most important vitamins. Think of carrots, pumpkins, oranges, mangos, and pawpaws. I don’t hang around all the time, but when I fill the sky at sunrise or sunset, my beauty is so striking that no one gives another thought to any of you.”

Red could stand it no longer. He shouted out: “I am the ruler of all of you. I am blood! Life’s blood. I am the colour of danger and of bravery. I am willing to fight for a cause. I bring fire to the blood! I am the colour of passion and of love, the red rose, the poppy and the poinsettia. Without me, the earth would be as empty as the moon!”

Purple rose up to his full height. He was very tall and spoke with great pomp: “I am the colour of royalty and power. Kings, chiefs, and bishops have always chosen me for I am a sign of authority and wisdom. People do not question me. They obey.”

Finally, Indigo spoke, much more quietly than all the others but with just as much determination: “think of me. I am the colour of silence. You hardly notice me, but without me, you all become superficial. I represent thought and reflection, twilight and deep water. You need me for balance and contrast, for prayer and inner peace.”

And so all the colours went on boasting and quarrelling, each convinced of their own superiority. Soon, their quarrelling became louder and louder. Suddenly there was a startling flash of bright lightening! Thunder rolled and boomed! Rain started to pour down relentlessly. The colours crouched down in fear drawing close to one another for comfort.

In the midst of the clamour, Rain began to speak: “You foolish colours, fighting amongst yourselves, each trying to dominate the rest. Don’t you know you were each made for a special purpose, unique and different? Join hands with one another and come to me.”

Doing as they were told, the colours united and joined hands. The rain continued: “From now on, when it rains, each of you will stretch across the sky in a great bow of colours as a reminder that you can all live in peace. The rainbow is a sign of hope for tomorrow.”

And so, whenever a good rain washes the world and a rainbow appears in the sky, let us remember to appreciate one another.

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My son is now 19 years old. My daughter is 17 and my step daughter is 29.

13 years ago, when they were 6, 4 and 16, my husband took them all to visit a friend in Kangaroo Valley while I was away at a conference in Forster.

On the way down it started to rain. Then it started to pour. By the time they got to Kangaroo Valley it was torrential. It was getting dark.

With less than a kilometre to go until they reached our friend’s farm, my husband came to a causeway. It was covered in water.

He stopped the car. He waded in carefully. It seemed safe. They drove through with no problem.

With less than 500 metres to go until they reached our friend’s farm, another causeway appeared out of the now dark and gloomy night.

He stopped the car. He waded in carefully to check the depth. It seemed safe.

They drove through but as they got into the middle, a huge flash flood of water picked the car up carried it away. They dropped into the creek below and were soon ‘sailing’ blindly to they knew not where.

I assume there was a fair bit of screaming and terror at that time. I can only imagine the scene as if in a horror film. I was not there so this is only my understanding of what happened.

The first I heard of anything being amiss was a phone call the next day. “This is Nowra Police … then after what seemed an ETERNITY… everyone is ok”.

My beloved children and husband had spent the night soaking wet and climbing in and out of the car and onto the roof as the water rose and subsided. Tied onto a tree. Each with a ‘buddy’. Rescued using a flying fox by emergency workers the following day. Thank God.

When I saw the television footage, it broke my heart. My little boy looked so lost. My husband finally letting the tears of relief and exhaustion flow after protecting his kids all night long. My little girl in a silver aluminium blanket. My step daughter looking shattered.

I wanted that TV camera out of their faces… but what a hero my husband was. I felt so proud of him. I never blamed him. It was an accident.

They were all safe. It was all over… but trauma is a fickle beast and jumps up and bites when you least expect it.

The kids seemed fine at first but as time went on, my boy began to fear storms (why wouldn’t he?). That year, we were on the tail end of the hail storm that devastated the eastern suburbs of Sydney. He was terrified.

As a therapist myself, I knew the signs and took him straight to a psychologist. He was wonderful and it did help. For some kids, this treatment is enough. We had a star chart and rewarded him and he got a little better but he was still in fear of storms and after some time had passed, the trauma reaction returned.

One night while it was stormy outside and he was feeling very scared again, I said to him, “what do you feel like doing darling?” and he replied “I just want to get under the doona with you mummy and hide”.

So that is just what we did. We had a little party under the doona while the storm raged outside. Just the two of us. He felt safe at last. He continued to ask for the doona party for at least another year or so every time it stormed and blew a gale and we were all happy to oblige. The whole family joined in sometimes. It became fun!

And gradually, and without our even noticing it, he stopped asking.

So listen to your heart and ask your kids what will help. You might be amazed at what they instinctively know…

PS. He no longer fears storms and my youngest girl only remembers how fun it was to go on a flying fox … go figure.

Margie Braunstein

Margie Braunstein

Margie is a somatic psychotherapist and counsellor providing psychotherapy services to the people of the Central Coast and Sydney.  Margie lives on the beautiful Central Coast with her husband, two children, two dogs and a cat.

Over the last 12 years, Margie has also been engaged in the design, delivery and marketing of transformational learning programs. During this time she has regularly facilitated personal development programs for up to 50 people on weekend workshops, week-long intensives and advanced programs of 3-4 months.

Margie has a Graduate Certificate in Adult Education from UTS, Diploma in Psychotherapy from the Australian College of Contemporary Somatic Psychotherapy and qualifications in somatic therapy, executive coaching and relationship counselling.

Margie has a passion for personal development and regards people with respect, empathy and compassion in the belief that while we all do the best we can, a little bit more kindness and care can lead to even greater peace and joy in life.

 

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I learned from a very young age about giving to others at Christmas. Mum and Dad still remind me that they would put me in a pouch on their front when I was a baby and go and feed homeless people on Christmas day. In later years, as a teenager, we used to go with Mum on Christmas morning to St Vincent’s Hospital. She would massage the feet of the AIDS patients and I would take my basket filled with candy canes and little messages and distribute them through the ward. There were Christmases when we distributed hampers and for many years up to 100 or more people would come to our home on Christmas evening for an orphans, waifs and stray Christmas Party. 

Supporting others is a wonderful gift to give to children as they grow up, and one which will have a profound and lasting impact on their character and their values. I feel incredibly blessed for these experiences as they are a constant reminder to think about others who are not as fortunate as I am at this time of year. I read this story today and thought I would share it with you. Merry Christmas!

A Christmas Story

It’s just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree. No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches of our tree for the past 10 years or so.

What will your white envelope contain?

It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas—oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it-overspending…the frantic running around at the last minute to get a tie for Uncle Harry and the dusting powder for Grandma—the gifts given in desperation because you couldn’t think of anything else.

Knowing he felt this way, I decided one year to bypass the usual shirts, sweaters, ties and so forth. I reached for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way.

Our son Kevin, who was 12 that year, was wrestling at the junior level at the school he attended; and shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner-city church, mostly black.

These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their spiffy blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes.

As the match began, I was alarmed to see that the other team was wrestling without headgear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler’s ears.

It was a luxury the ragtag team obviously could not afford. Well, we ended up walloping them. We took every weight class. And as each of their boys got up from the mat, he swaggered around in his tatters with false bravado, a kind of street pride that couldn’t acknowledge defeat.

Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, “I wish just one of them could have won,” he said. “They have a lot of potential, but losing like this could take the heart right out of them.”

Mike loved kids-all kids-and he knew them, having coached little league football, baseball and lacrosse. That’s when the idea for his present came.

That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner-city church.

On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me.

His smile was the brightest thing about Christmas that year and in succeeding years.

For each Christmas, I followed the tradition—one year sending a group of mentally handicapped youngsters to a hockey game, another year a check to a pair of elderly brothers whose home had burned to the ground the week before Christmas, and on and on.

The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning and our children, ignoring their new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal it’s contents.

As the children grew, the toys gave way to more practical presents, but the envelope never lost its allure. The story doesn’t end there.

You see, we lost Mike last year due to dreaded cancer. When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. But Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree, and in the morning, it was joined by three more. Each of our children, unbeknownst to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their dad.

The tradition has grown and someday will expand even further with our grandchildren standing around the tree with wide-eyed anticipation watching as their fathers take down the envelope. Mike’s spirit, like the Christmas spirit, will always be with us.

May we all remember each other, and the Real reason for the season, and His true spirit this year and always.

This year you could buy a tree (www.forestoflife.com.au/quest) or purchase a gift from www.passitforwardgifts.com.au and select a charity to receive a donation. These are two ways to support the work of the Quest for Life Foundation, however there are many ways you can contribute to others, whilst still giving a gift to a loved one.

What do you do at Christmas that makes a difference to others? Share your ideas here.

 

Kate vanderVoort

Kate vanderVoort

Kate is currently overseeing the development and implementation of the new strategic plan for Quest for Life including developing programs for other organisations, online services, community outreach and facilitator team development.

Kate completed a Bachelor of Social Work and has more than 15 years experience in working in health, cancer and youth related charities and service providers. She has also studied yoga, meditation and a variety of training, presentation and coaching modalities. She facilitated with the Quest for Life Foundation in 1999 – 2000 and has since worked with Quest for Life in business development and fundraising roles. With more than 12 years experience in leadership and program development roles in the youth sector, Kate has a passion for creating a world in which young people wish to belong, be a part of and contribute to.

Kate has a consulting business – 3 Degrees of Connection (www.3doc.com.au) – and connects people, passions and projects through strategy and social media marketing. She lives in Sydney with her pet rabbit Heff……….and feels blessed to be Petrea King’s daughter.

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There has never been a time in history where children are so subjected to information about and pictures of, suffering. Some families are eating dinner while there are images of great suffering on the television news and both print media and radio news can conjure up pictures that children may find anxiety provoking.

Children can often be overlooked when there is a world tragedy, family or school upset or when adults around them are dealing with relationship breakdown, separation issues, illness, grief or depression. Some people think that children are mostly oblivious to these peripheral stresses in their lives but this is a great error in judgment.

Science has now proved what intuitively our grandmothers knew: a happy stable loving child grows up in a happy stable loving environment. The neurochemistry laid down in the first three years of life has a profound impact upon the child’s growing brain. While children don’t understand the intellectual underpinnings of many adult conversations, they are acutely aware of the ‘sound’ or tone of the voices around them. There is a tone of voice that conveys judgment; there’s a sound conveyed by resentment or despair and a sound around blame, frustration and anger.

Children don’t understand the beliefs that adults may hold, but they can certainly ‘read’ the feeling being expressed and will associate that tone of voice with the subject of the adult’s judgment. In this way children learn to close their hearts and minds to whomever their family sees as ‘the others’ – those that are richer, poorer, better educated, less educated, from a different religion, sexual orientation or cultural background.

Children’s bodies and brains react to these sounds by secreting increased amounts of adrenalin and cortisol. The secretion of these chemicals is necessary at times when we need to run away from a valid fear or to front up and deal with it and these physical activities use up the benefit of these chemicals. When a child feels stressed a good deal of the time, these chemicals negatively activate and speed up some processes in the body as well as suppress the capacities of the child’s immune system.

Young children have a natural capacity to be still and enjoy the present moment. As babies and very young children, we were content with very simple pleasures derived from our senses. Just taking on all the new sounds, sensations, smells, sights and tastes was a full time job! This ability to be happily absorbed in whatever activity is at hand gradually wanes as a child becomes caught up with the busy-ness of life and its challenges.

It is natural for young children to be compassionate and caring. A young child doesn’t require knowledge of your bank account or your educational history in order for them to bestow upon you their bountiful love.

As children grow and realise there are things to be achieved and challenges to be overcome, they may lose this capacity to find pleasure in the simple things of life. In addition, many children become sensitive to the upsets in their loved-ones or the wider world.

We can build resilience in our children by giving them practical skills and strategies to utilize whenever they feel anxious or upset. We do this best by being a living demonstration to our children because as we all know, children watch what we do rather than follow what we say! When we bounce back from life’s challenges and disappointments we can share with our children how and why we did so. This is something that needs to be taught to children and is a vital part of them learning to be capable when life’s unexpected disasters or disappointments happen. Spending time with children explaining to them how they can build resilience and reading them stories where children demonstrate these qualities helps children understand how they can embrace their difficulties in life with skill.

Over the past twenty five years I have listened to thousands of stories from adults who were physically, sexually or emotionally abused as children. Paradoxically, many of these people find that once they integrate these past emotional wounds, they find some of the strengths that they developed because of these painful experiences. They may have developed resilience, self-reliance, capabilities and determination. I have also heard many people say that they had such a happy experience as a child that it never prepared them to deal with difficulties and disappointments when they encountered them! Either way, as parents, we can actively promote and teach resilience skills to our children or grandchildren and equip them as adults to grapple meaningfully and creatively with the challenges they will encounter in both their personal and global lives.

Petrea King

Petrea King

Petrea is conducting a one day seminar on Resilient Children on Sunday 26th September, 2010 in Sydney. Book here.

Author of You, Me & the Rainbow, Rainbow Kids and The Rainbow Garden published by Jane Curry Publishing and Rainbow Connection CD for children and five books for adults including Your Life Matters and a dozen meditation CDs.

Founding Director and CEO, Quest for Life Foundation www.questforlife.com.au

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This ritual has developed out of our work in helping children deal with challenging, sad or distressing news. We have found it to be a wonderful blessing for children and a comfort for their parents. You can take as long or as little time with this ritual as seems appropriate for the age of the child. This ritual is wonderful for children from the age of about three.

When a child is ready for sleep, ask them to snuggle down into a comfortable position so that you can wrap them up in a rainbow. You can ask the child to close their eyes so that they can imagine better.

Running your hand lightly over the whole of their body, from the top of their head to the tips of their toes, ask the child to imagine that you’re wrapping them up in a cloud of red – the colour of tomatoes and fire engines.

You can ask the child if they can see the colour – children can always visualise colours.

Next, still running your hand lightly over their body, you ask the child to imagine that you’re wrapping them up in a cloud of orange – the colour of oranges, marigolds and nasturtiums.

Next, you wrap them in a cloud of yellow – the colour of wattle, daffodils and golden warm sunshine on a bright sunny day.

Then the colour green – the colour of spring leaves and new mown grass. All the while running your hand lightly over the body of the child.

Next you wrap the child in the colour of blue – the colour of the clear blue sky on a sun filled day or the colour of the ocean. You can ask the child again if they’re able to see the colours.

Then the colour of indigo – the colour of the night sky behind the stars.

Then you wrap the child in the colour violet – the colour of little sweet smelling violets peeping out amongst the flowers in the garden.

Finally, place your hand over the child’s heart and get them to visualise as strongly as they can a rainbow that starts in their heart and that comes out through the air and connects with your heart (placing your hand over your heart). Tell the child that this rainbow keeps the two of you connected all through the night.

You can make up a prayer or a poem to go with the ritual. A popular one is:

I wrap you in a rainbow of light to care for you all through the night. Your guardian angel watches from above and showers you with her great love.

After connecting up by rainbow with you, the child might like to send rainbows to loved ones or friends in need of love or support. They can send them to people they’re separated from by distance, divorce, illness or death. Children can be wrapped in rainbows before they’re separated from you for any reason – beginning pre or primary school, leaving for camp, staying with friends or grandparents.

Rainbows can be used in a myriad of circumstances. When passing a car accident, instead of becoming distressed about it, instead visualise that you’re all under one end of a rainbow breathing in the iridescent colour and peace of the rainbow then extend the other end of the rainbow to those in need.

Imagine your love and blessings flowing over the rainbow, like fairy dust, bringing peace and calmness so that what needs to get done gets done quietly and efficiently.

Rainbows can be sent to those affected by floods, disasters or other distressing situations which often leave children (and ourselves) feeling helpless. They can be sent between family members if someone is feeling sooky, sick or overwhelmed. They can be sent for exams, medical tests or treatments.

By sending rainbows, children feel they’re making a valuable and positive contribution instead of feeling powerless to help. Wrapping children in rainbows usually ends nightmares and separation anxiety. Don’t be surprised to see rainbows appear in a clear blue sky, outside a hospital window or in totally unexpected places.

If you have a rainbow story you’d like to share with us please do. You can download the Rainbow Ritual at www.questforlife.com.au/rainbow-ritual

Please feel free to contact us at the Quest for Life Centre if we can be of any assistance to yourself or a member of your family or if you need a rainbow sent to someone you love or yourself. © Petrea King

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There has never been a time in history where children are so subjected to information about and pictures of, suffering. Some families are eating dinner while there are images of great suffering on the television news and both print media and radio news can conjure up pictures that children may find anxiety provoking.

Children can often be overlooked when there is a world tragedy, family or school upset or when adults around them are dealing with relationship breakdown, separation issues, illness, grief or depression. Some people think that children are mostly oblivious to these peripheral stresses in their lives but this is a great error in judgment.

Science has now proved what intuitively our grandmothers knew: a happy stable loving child grows up in a happy stable loving environment. The neurochemistry laid down in the first three years of life has a profound impact upon the child’s growing brain. While children don’t understand the intellectual underpinnings of many adult conversations, they are acutely aware of the ‘sound’ or tone of the voices around them. There is a tone of voice that conveys judgment; there’s a sound conveyed by resentment or despair and a sound around blame, frustration and anger.

Children don’t understand the beliefs that adults may hold, but they can certainly ‘read’ the feeling being expressed and will associate that tone of voice with the subject of the adult’s judgment. In this way children learn to close their hearts and minds to whomever their family sees as ‘the others’ – those that are richer, poorer, better educated, less educated, from a different religion, sexual orientation or cultural background.

Children’s bodies and brains react to these sounds by secreting increased amounts of adrenalin and cortisol. The secretion of these chemicals is necessary at times when we need to run away from a valid fear or to front up and deal with it and these physical activities use up the benefit of these chemicals. When a child feels stressed a good deal of the time, these chemicals negatively activate and speed up some processes in the body as well as suppress the capacities of the child’s immune system.

Young children have a natural capacity to be still and enjoy the present moment. As babies and very young children, we were content with very simple pleasures derived from our senses. Just taking on all the new sounds, sensations, smells, sights and tastes was a full time job! This ability to be happily absorbed in whatever activity is at hand gradually wanes as a child becomes caught up with the busy-ness of life and its challenges.

It is natural for young children to be compassionate and caring. A young child doesn’t require knowledge of your bank account or your educational history in order for them to bestow upon you their bountiful love.

As children grow and realise there are things to be achieved and challenges to be overcome, they may lose this capacity to find pleasure in the simple things of life. In addition, many children become sensitive to the upsets in their loved-ones or the wider world.

We can build resilience in our children by giving them practical skills and strategies to utilize whenever they feel anxious or upset. We do this best by being a living demonstration to our children because as we all know, children watch what we do rather than follow what we say! When we bounce back from life’s challenges and disappointments we can share with our children how and why we did so. This is something that needs to be taught to children and is a vital part of them learning to be capable when life’s unexpected disasters or disappointments happen. Spending time with children explaining to them how they can build resilience and reading them stories where children demonstrate these qualities helps children understand how they can embrace their difficulties in life with skill.

Over the past twenty five years I have listened to thousands of stories from adults who were physically, sexually or emotionally abused as children. Paradoxically, many of these people find that once they integrate these past emotional wounds, they find some of the strengths that they developed because of these painful experiences. They may have developed resilience, self-reliance, capabilities and determination. I have also heard many people say that they had such a happy experience as a child that it never prepared them to deal with difficulties and disappointments when they encountered them! Either way, as parents, we can actively promote and teach resilience skills to our children or grandchildren and equip them as adults to grapple meaningfully and creatively with the challenges they will encounter in both their personal and global lives.

Petrea King

If you would like to join Petrea to hear more about building resilient children you can join us for:
eSeminar (online):  8pm – 9pm Tuesday 20th July, 2010 www.questforlife.com.au/eSeminars
Day Seminar (Sydney): 26th September, 2010 www.questforlife.com.au/day-programs

Author of You, Me & the Rainbow, Rainbow Kids and The Rainbow Garden published by Jane Curry Publishing and Rainbow Connection CD for children and five books for adults including Your Life Matters and a dozen meditation CDs.

Founding Director and CEO, Quest for Life Foundation www.questforlife.com.au

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