Dr. Reznick recently answered some questions about her book, The Power of Your Child's Imagination. I would like to share those questions and answers with you today. This book is one that really appeals to me because I used similar strategies with my own son as he grew. I wish I'd had the ones in this book to add to my others. Her information on using art in conjunction with the other practices also hit home and reminded me of a tree exercise that really opened my eyes several years ago. In any case, please enjoy the questions and answers from Dr. Reznick and come back tomorrow when I share my thoughts on this book.
Q1. In your book, The Power of Your Child’s Imagination you share with us the importance of accessing a child’s imagination to help them handle everyday problems. Dr. Reznick, why is it important to access your child’s imagination to handle their problems?
Dr. CR: Parents come to me with all sorts of concerns. Like not sleeping at night, having all sorts of fears and worries, not doing well at school or sports, not being able to manage their anger and frustration, not getting along with their brothers and sisters, being devastated when their parents fight or divorce, having stress headaches and stomach-aches, and sometimes just feeling awful about themselves. Yet kids have many of the answers they need to solve their everyday problems right inside. With a little guidance to help them tap into their own imagination and develop their intuition, I’ve seen thousands of kids figure out what works for them. Like nine-year-old Alex who imagined a magical white dragon around his bed to keep him safe at night. Or six-year-old Sara who received a Gift of a crystal star from her Wizard to remember to love herself no matter what.
Basically, Moms and Dads are good at handling their kids’ problems, but sometimes we don’t always know which tool to apply when. This book assists you in choosing what’s best when. It’s as if it puts nine of my secret ingredients into your pantry and helps you choose what’s right for your child right now. There are Nine Imagination Tools that you can teach your child to use with most of the problems they face each day. The book teaches you what these tools are, and which ones work best for which problem. It gives scripts for the Nine Tools and guided journeys you can use immediately. You can mix and match the Tools to suit what works best for your child in each particular situation. There is also support for you as a Parent, on how to nurture yourself while raising your kids, and will lead to less stress for you, and more relaxed parenting.
Q2: You say that sleep issues are a major concern for kids today. How can parents use imagination to help their children fall asleep quickly and easily?
Dr. CR.: Parents ask me all the time about sleep problems. No matter how old a child is, trouble falling asleep is the most common complaint, followed by trouble staying asleep. 30 to 70 percent of kids have a sleep problem at some point. Let me tell you about Sophie. You might recognize some of her issues in your child. Eight-year-old Sophie was exhausted. She tossed and turned for hours. She was short-tempered all day from her lack of sleep. Her parents were exhausted and exasperated. When I met her, Sophie told me exactly what her problem was. She said, “I can’t turn off my brain. Stuff keeps spilling out.” She drew a picture of her life – dark, rainy, with no love. But, when I asked her if she could imagine what her life would be like when she could turn off her brain and sleep easily, she transformed that picture. She imagined a land of Love with the sun shining and flowers growing. She said her crabbiness would be gone and she’d feel really happy and proud of herself.
This simple spark of her imagination was the first step toward change. It’s important that she acknowledged where she was, and could imagine where she wanted to go. Then we took the steps to get there. The Imagination Tools that worked best for Sophie were… one, the “Balloon Breath,” breathing deeply into her tummy to calm herself. Second, imagining a “Special Place” to fall asleep. She loved to imagine falling asleep peacefully while floating on a fluffy white cloud or in her favorite vacation place. She was lucky enough to go Hawaii the year before and she loved swinging on the hammock in front of the room. And third, meeting a wise “Wizard” who gave her “Gifts.” Sophie imagined a Harry Potter type teenage wizard who dressed in a cool violet skirt and a hot pink blouse with a gold crown, who gave her magic berries that helped her body relax deeply and fall asleep. And her Wizard’s wise advice to her was, “If you believe you’re already sleeping, you’ll be asleep in a minute,” Of course that’s clearly coming from Sophie herself. Which is the point – you child has the wisdom and answers inside. All you have to do is choose which Nine Tools work best.
Q3: When a child displays an over-the-top temper, what can a parent do?
Dr. CR.: One of the most difficult challenges we face as parents is helping our kids manage their anger and frustration. It’s so hard not to lose our control when our kids lose their control. The time to start helping your child with angry, hurt and frustrated feelings is often before these big emotions show up, although that’s not always possible. And being a role model on handling conflict and hurt peacefully is great, but it might have taken years for you to perfect those skills, while your kids have been around just a few short years. I think of ten-year-old Brody. Whenever he was hurt, frustrated, or angry, he would yell, scream, kick or punch – himself or his sister. He fought about the smallest things – like what was for breakfast or where to sit in the car. His parents tried everything – time out, taking away privileges, talking calmly – nothing seemed to help.
When we started working together, what helped Brody get in control of his over-the-top temper was to use the Imagination Tools of Talking to His Feelings, Using Color for Healing, and the Balloon Breath. He used his Balloon Breath to calm himself and turn inside to imagine where he kept his big bad feelings. He didn’t just have anger lurking, there was worry, frustration, hurt, and disappointment. White Worry about grades hid in his Belly. Black Frustration about not getting what he wanted made a big black hole in his back. Purple Hurt rang in his ears and Gray Disappointment turned up as a big block in his neck. By the time we got to muddy Anger, he realized it was a combination of the other four feelings, and this helped him understand where his outbursts came from. That made our next step to look for the positive emotions that could act as an antidote to the negative ones easier.
Brody found Calm blue at the top of his head – and breathing the color down into his body helped soothe his anger a bit and washed away worry. His happy feelings were like a neon splash on his chest and when he visualized them spreading, it let go of disappointment. And when he found red Love in his Heart, well, it seemed to act like an all-purpose healer. Brody said when Love moved up his body, it vanished all his bad feelings.
What to remember from Brody’s story? Remember Imagery Tools can be the mind’s own sedative. Use a few and email me the results.
Q4: In The Power of Your Child’s Imagination you also mention the challenges and opportunities of living with brothers and sisters. What can parents do to help their kids get along with their siblings?
Dr. CR: The great thing about sibling issues is that most of us have experienced them. Even if you’ve been an only child, you’ve likely had some competition with friends or co-workers. And, no matter what you do to keep the peace at home, your kids will still drive each other crazy at some point. It’s part of growing up. And that’s good news because brothers and sisters often provide the first opportunity to develop those important social skills such as sharing, taking, turns and resolving conflicts. That’s why it’s so important to get it right inside the family.
Nine-year-old Taylor is a perfect example. Her jealousy of her four-year-old brother caused lots of angry tears at home. Although she had begged her parents for a baby for years, once he came, it was a totally different story. Taylor told me her little brother got all the attention, could do nothing wrong, and that everyone fussed over him, and didn’t notice her at all. She had been holding in feelings of rejection for years and couldn’t stand it any longer. But Taylor learned to use her imagination to find better ways to handle her jealousy and to eventually to let it go.
Of the Nine Tools, what stands out are: Meeting a Wise Animal Friend, Talking to her Feelings, and Checking in with her Heart. Taylor complained about how much pressure she felt to be the “good sister.” So I had her close her eyes and picture what this stress looked like. She imagined locks all over her body – on her shoulders, around her wrists, and by her ankles. I suggested she ask for a wise, loving Animal Friend to help her with these troubles, and a funny monkey showed up, peeling a banana and dangling the keys to unlock her pressure. He sang and told her jokes as he opened each one. His silly stories made her laugh and brought back her sense of humor. And when her pressure was released, Taylor was able to connect to her Heart and remember her loving feelings for her brother. She really did love him. She imagined sending pink love from her Heart to his, and pictured him sending baby blue love back. It was a very touching scene. You too can help your children connect with the love they have for each other and use the Nine Tools to lead the way to the behaviors that show that love.
Q5: How much does (all this) stress spill over to kids physically? What can parents do to about those pounding headaches or terrible tummy aches?
Dr. CR: One of my favorite areas to help kids with is with their stress-related aches and pains because we usually see positive changes relatively quickly. Let’s use the example of headaches. Headaches are the most common pain kids have. 90 percent of all children have them at some time. Of course you’ll want your doctor to rule out any serious physical problems. Like my 11-year-old client Ethan. His pediatrician referred him to me to learn to manage his stress. He had been getting headaches since age seven, and although she prescribed medication, she wanted him to get a handle on the stresses that might be contributing to his frequent headaches. They had gotten so bad he could miss a week of school during one month.
Ethan used many of the Imagination Tools. What I’d like to share is how the Balloon Breath, Talking to Body Parts, including a conversation with his headache, and Tapping into Energy soothed his suffering. When Ethan turned inward for a picture of his headaches, he described them as pounding cannonballs or humungous pliers gripping his temples. It was as if a bad guy was drilling into the top of his head into his brain. Sometimes his headaches hurt so much he told me, “I wish I were dead.” Thank goodness we were able to turn that around. Instead of a wise Animal Friend coming to his rescue, Ethan imagined a SWAT paratrooper dropping Tylenol into his brain. That brought some relief and soon he imagined the trooper helping even without Tylenol. Ethan learned to use the Balloon Breath to calm his worry, which he imagined was a scared mouse running through his head, and to soothe his anger, which was like fire exploding in his brain. And when these imagination tricks didn’t work, he pictured the pain melting out of his head, sending its’ energy into the air and disappearing. You can help your child do the same, holding your hands about six inches from the source of his pain allowing him to imagine sending the pain’s energy through your palm to disappear on the other side. With these and the rest of the Nine Tools, you’ll see they can relieve many of your child’s physical complaints, while also teaching him to manage his own healing.
Q6: Parenting today is hard. Can these Imagination Tools work for parents too? What’s your best advice for parents to help their kids succeed in life?
Dr. CR: I’m always encouraged when parents ask for their own support. My golden rule is it’s important to trust yourself and your intuition, come from a centered place, and take a break when you need it. You want to do your best and sometimes that’s just not possible. So be kind. Accept where you are. Practice self-forgiveness when you mess up. Apologize to your kids when you need to. This kind of honesty helps you be a better role model for your child.
And yes, the Nine Tools can work at any age. They’re really Tools for life. Regular use can help you relax, develop your intuition, and trust your own wisdom. I often teach parents and children together so they can both benefit and become closer. In my trainings and workshops I always put parents and professionals through the imagery exercises, and invariably someone winds up crying because they are so touched. Like one Dad who received permission in his Special Place to cry. His message was it’s okay – it’s not a weakness. That was very reassuring to him. I also want to give everyone Good Health Homework. Pick three Tools and email me in a week – I want to know your experience. I hope the book can give you some of what others have gained. One Mom read it recently and cried because she wished she had these Tools when she was a child. Now she can share them with her own children. And you can too.
Dr. Charlotte Reznick has dedicated her life to helping children, adolescents, parents, and
professionals. She is a nationally recognized child and educational Psychologist and Associate Clinical Professor of Psychology at UCLA. Upon earning her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Southern California, she was honored with "Dissertation of the Year" for her work on the effects of parental divorce on adolescents.
The Power of Your Child’s Imagination is a heart-felt guide that shows parents and professionals how to empower children with easy, effective, and creative skills for surviving – and thriving – in our stressful world. It’s an indispensable guide that provides nine simple tools to help kids access their natural strengths and resources. There’s a mini-primer for each Tool—a sample script, troubleshooting tips, and real-life examples of how it is used. The Tools are adaptable to all ages (even adults can use them), and their benefits accumulate over time.
To download a free e-book with more information on The Power of Your Child's Imagination: How to Transform Stress and Anxiety into Joy and Success and Dr Reznick , visit http://bookpromotionservices.com/reznick/ . For a limited time Dr Reznick is offering a very special gift to each person who purchases a copy of her book, including over 80 free gifts, Please visit http://www.imageryforkids.com/book/ for all details.