Teaching Kids Early in School to be Mindful of Stress is a Huge Step in Mitigating the Onset of Long Term Depression and Anxiety!

Students practicing mindfulness…with the aid of a teacher…

Schools are now teaching kids…and parents…how to deal with stress…  Quote from this link…

 October 7

On a recent Tuesday morning at Lafayette Elementary School in Northwest Washington, Sofia Parodi took a coveted seat at the head of the classroom and asked a fellow fourth-grader to switch off the lights.

“Close your eyes and take three deep breaths,” she instructed her classmates, who fell into a familiar rhythm of silently counting their breaths, then sharing their experience with their classmates.

Sofia was the day’s mindfulness helper, a temporary apprentice to Linda Ryden. Ryden is Lafayette’s peace teacher (yes, that’s her title), who leads about 500 of the school’s students in weekly courses on mindfulness — a practice aimed at enhancing self-awareness and reducing stress by focusing, without judgment, on the present moment.


I have been writing about teaching kids and parents how to be mindful of stressful circumstances both at home, in school, and at play for 5 years now in this blog and through my books.  Just the other day during a stressful meeting as a board member of Neighbors for Kids in Depoe Bay, Oregon, we paused to be mindful as adults of the challenges facing us as community leaders.  Our teachers and mentors practice the same mindfulness exercises with our students each and every day.  We do this to help all of us recognize that we are not alone in feeling the stressful aspects of life and the day to day challenges we all face together.  The practice of “mindfulness stress reduction” (click this link) really works and is catching on more and more in schools everywhere.

During my early life in school, we were silent about stress most of the time…  It was an exhausting and lonely time for many post WWII and Korean War kids who lived in often toxic and violent circumstances at home.  Once in awhile there would be a teacher or mentor who paid special attention to those of us struggling with stress, and tried to help.  For the most part we tried to keep a safe distance from the emotional pain because it was not generally understood during the Post WWII era.  Consequently, and sadly, we moved on to adult life with all this bottled up emotional baggage that had to come out sooner or later…and it did in often tragic ways.

The good news…it is never to late to confront the baggage connected with post trauma circumstances, even after many years of denial or avoidance.  It took me until age 64 to find my way to a path of healing by writing my first non-fiction memoir.  There are many alternative strategies to practice mindfulness stress reduction.  Writing and speaking about the subject has been a gift of peace of mind for me for the first time in my life.  Be kind to yourself and others and learn more about ways to reduce stress through the practice of mindfulness.  I admit it is a work in progress, but has been very effective for so many who stick with it, especially children.

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 1&2…  Click the highlighted text for my author page…

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, and Child Advocate

How to Parent Babies and Toddlers with Post Trauma Symptoms?

Dakotah, age 4…

Parenting Children with Post Trauma Symptoms…  Quote from this handbook…

Trauma has more severe effects when…

  • It happens again and again.
  • Different stresses add up.
  • It happens to a younger child.
  • The child has fewer social supports(healthy personal relationships). 
  • The child has fewer coping skills (language skills, intelligence, good health, and self-esteem).


I was reminded this past week of how critical it is to recognize post trauma symptoms of toddlers and young children.  My sister’s grandson, Dakotah, pictured above, was exposed to toxic home circumstances as a baby and removed from the home of his mother.  The young child, now 4 years old, and in the care of foster parents, is showing symptoms of post traumatic stress.  He is not only living with the emotional challenges of experiencing trauma as a baby, but is purportedly living in a toxic and confusing world of figuring out where he should be and who he is…push and pull stresses.  He is consistently in a unhappy and highly emotional state of mind.  Acting out is becoming more frequent as he gets older.

It is often the case with foster children that the financial support connected with caring for the child gets in the way while biological parents and grandparents work toward regaining custody.  The best interests and health of the child can get tied up in the “system” causing delays in returning children to loved ones and family members who later meet the requirements for a loving and nurturing home environment.  My sister, the young boy’s grandmother, has been fighting for several years now to bring the child home while developing a close and loving relationship with her grandson.  The foster parents are apparently under investigation for alleged child abuse and maltreatment.  Consequently, my young great nephew is in the middle of emotional turmoil that can only worsen his post trauma symptoms.

I have profound empathy for the plight of this little boy, my great nephew, and so does my sister, his grandmother; since both of us know well what happens to children later in life when they carry the baggage of child abuse into adult life.  I have tried to provide moral and loving support to my sister during this time with a listening ear.  I wish there was more we could do to rescue this beautiful young boy and return him to his birth family.  These are the heart breaking stories that happen all over America because young children are caught in the middle of dealing with cash flow incentives for foster parents and a system of justice that is overwhelmed with cases of child abuse and maltreatment.

As a reference and example, click on this Los Angeles NBC News video clip to hear the stories of foster kids caught in a system of abuse driven by greed.   A lawsuit is pending surrounding a case against Rancho Cucamonga-based Interim Care Foster Family Agency, which recruited and supervised the foster parents.  This news story has no direct relationship to my nephew referenced above, but does reflect the circumstances of a broken foster care system.

I wish there was some creative way or new idea that could make a difference.  Feedback from my followers and reading audience would be most appreciated.

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 2… Click highlighted text for my author page…


Trauma…Help Your Wounded Child Heal with Simple Alternative Treatements…


“The Resilient Child” Article in New Zealand Listener…Quote

“This case aside, a growing body of research has established that cognitive problems are part of the bitter harvest of child maltreatment. Abuse, chaos, fear and neglect experienced for years in early childhood shape the very architecture of the brain, playing out in cognitive problems, anxiety, behaviour disorders and later addiction and mental illnesses. But if child abuse inflicts damage that is so fundamental and structural, is there really much hope it can be repaired? The short answer is yes,” says visiting child trauma expert Dr Bruce Perry, senior fellow of the Houston-based Child Trauma Academy, and adjunct professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at Chicago’s Northwestern University. But using the right therapy at the right time is crucial, and difficult to gauge. What is becoming evident, though, is that some unexpected therapies – including movement, massage and yoga breathing – can be used to repair the most primal parts of the brain and help wounded children heal.


All children, even those living in healthy and safe homes, are exposed to life changing traumatic events!  There are tragedies and traumatic events happening to families everyday all over the globe.  How do we help the wounded child heal? 

According to the full article in the Listener, it is the rare child who is not affected or damaged emotionally when experiencing maltreatment or abuse over an extended period of time.    What worries me the most, is that family members “move on” to the next traumatic event without stepping back to assess the damage and recover.  Maltreatment becomes part of the family culture over time…and often competitive with siblings abusing each other as well.  These kids from toxic homes like mine grow up and become emotionally challenged adults who eventually need help to save our hearts and souls from the lifetime pain of post trauma symptoms that look much like PTSD.  If parents and teachers could achieve more awareness of the consequences of trauma in children earlier and detect the early symptoms in youngsters, simple steps, including massage therapy and deep breathing, can help start the healing process much earlier.  But in most cases, parents who are abusive are also neglectful or completely unaware of the long term consequences of trauma on children.  In my case, growing up in the 1950’s and early 1960’s in a highly toxic home, the intensity of abuse and maltreatment was at times overwhelming and without relief through treatment.  My parents did not know or understand the consequences of their behaviors…they felt that children were always resilient…not so as we all know today.  

At the prime age of 68, I have mostly recovered from a toxic childhood and young adult life, but it is a work in progress to keep the pain of the past at a safe distance.  I waited until later in life to even recognize the symptoms of PTSD until researching and writing my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, helping me begin a long overdue journey of healing that saved my life.  Please help others become more aware of the consequences of child maltreatment and abuse…  Recognize the symptoms and take early action to help wounded children heal…

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1… Click on the highlighted text for my author page…