Category: Spiritual Parenting
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Helping Children Learn to Behave
September 24, 2015
Hi I need some guidance in terms of bringing up my daughter. She is going to be six years old in December. I am finding that she is grumpy, clingy and moody a lot, especially in mornings. She is seeking attention of course. Every time she doesn’t get what she wants, its tears and tantrums. I believe this attitude is also preventing her from making friends at school. She is shy. How can I help her cultivate the right attitudes of joy and happiness, so she has the right tools to live a happy life?
Thanks for your question. Sometimes these things happen more in a small family. Is your daughter your only child? If so, you may have missed some natural timelines to build in positive behavior. I ask because throwing tantrums is fairly normal at age two, but by age six they should be quite rare. But that is okay, for she is still young enough to help her catch up quickly to her appropriate age level.
You ask how you can help her to cultivate the right attitudes of joy and happiness, which is a beautiful goal for a parent. But first a child needs to learn how to eliminate the joy destroying attitudes and actions she is exhibiting every day. Start with a simple behavior chart to help her with her worst part of the day — the morning. (See these behavior charts: "It’s been proven that when we measure and track efforts, the behavior of children will improve...") I would suggest a simple chart that tracks one thing for the first week — simply getting up and saying, with a smile, "Good morning, Mommy!" in a nice voice. This free Princess Castle chart might be a good one to start with.
But you also need to do your part... Why is she waking up so grumpy, moody and clingy? Is she getting enough sleep? Is she also pulling tantrums at night, and thus delaying bedtime? If that is the case, you may need to start there with your chart, and see if the mornings improve. For the first few weeks, just track one new behavior each week. Explain to her that as she learns to behave, she will feel happier within her self, and she will also feel more love and happiness flowing to her, both at home and at school.
Please also review her diet. Sometimes if kids have too many carbohydrates, and not enough protein to balance that, they can be very grumpy, and fall apart in tears at the drop of a hat. This can even happen with healthy carbohydrates, and we sometimes see this in vegetarian kids, but it improves quickly if the parents add in either eggs or other protein. It is something to consider, to see if this may be a factor.
Keep using behavior charts, with a reward once a week, but with evolving goals over the course of the year. Start with the worst habit first for the first week. The next week you can build on that budding strength, and add on a new goal that is similar. Such as cooperation at bedtime, and then being cheerful in the morning. But keep it very specific, so it is easier to succeed in the beginning. This will give a sense of accomplishment for her and for you, and you may some some positive spillover into other areas. As time goes by you can add other goals, but see where this initial effort takes you.
You can also read one of these Life’s Little Secrets for Children to her, either at dinner time, or as part of her bedtime routine. And please do have a routine that works for her and you — such as bath, brush teeth, one or two stories, and prayers. It is easy to get loose with routines when there is only one child, but ultimately it makes life easier for everyone if they know what to expect; there is security in that. You can occasionally bend the rules, but not so often that she thinks she can always get her way.
Well, that is enough to get you started. Once some basic peace and harmony has been restored, you can expand your spiritual efforts using the many helpful, free items here in the Family Life Treasure Chest. As you peruse the titles, simply start reading whatever is attractive to you now. There are many resources o help you along the way at each stage of her spiritual growth.
I hope this has been helpful, and please feel free to ask more.
God bless you.
In His joy!
Mary Kretzmann, author
Hello. I have 2 questions.
1 is, do you have any suggestions for good spiritually minded books to read to a 4-5 year old? We already have all of the available Ananda books, and were wondering if there are any more you could advise us.
2nd question. Do you have any advise on how I can stop caring so much about what other people think? I’m trying so hard to overcome this, but I still can’t let go completely of caring what other people think of me (a LOT). I’d be grateful for any advise!
Thank you for your questions. Have you seen our Family Life Treasure Chest, full of resources devoted to bringing divine light into family life? Please scroll down on that page for the section, “Stories for Children of All Ages.” Please also see Life’s Little Secrets, and Prayer Demands for Children.
Years ago, I made a hobby of collecting spiritual books for children. I wrote about this process in chapter two of my online book, Finding God in Your Family. Some of my favorites may now be out of print, but I just saw a nice collection of books on amazon.com when I searched "kids spiritual books." See if any of them resonate with what you feel is meaningful to share with your child.
We do need more children’s books from this spiritual path, and also uplifting books of a universal nature. It is such a powerful way to bring expansive light to young children! This is an area that I would love see developed by devotees of Paramhansa Yogananda. For now we have to use creatively the resources that do exist.
As for your other question, have you ever tried the Affirmation for Psychological Success by Paramhansa Yogananda? By strengthening your inner being, you will naturally begin to have a more balanced view of life itself, and not worry quite so much about what others think of you. Another simple technique is to assume that many other people have the same problem: they are worried about what others think of them! Solve your problem by solving somebody else’s problem. Make it your business to put others at ease with a genuine smile, and a kind word. This will take your mind off of yourself.
Try this affirmation by Paramhansa Yogananda can help you to develop this quality: "As I radiate love and goodwill to others, I will open the channel for God’s love to come to me. Divine love is the magnet that draws to me all good."
I wish you all the best.
Mary Kretzmann, Director
Kriya While Pregnant
August 26, 2015
Could you tell me please if its recommended to do Kriya yoga during pregnancy? I am two weeks pregnant and don't feel somewhat comfortable (the sensation inside of my abdomen isn't pleasant) during Kriya breaths.Thank you.
Congratulations on your pregnancy, and may you be ever guided and blessed in your role as mother. This Family Life Treasure Chest of Ananda Resources will be very helpful to you in the coming years.
Regarding your question of Kriya Yoga during pregnancy: please follow your instincts on this. The nature of Kriya is to withdraw the life force, and bring it up the spine, but of course the developing baby needs that energy, too!
I am the mother of three grown children, and I have been a Kriyaban since prior to the first pregnancy. I noticed that when I did the Kriya breaths with deep concentration and focus, it felt very wrong, like it was pulling energy away from the baby. My heartbeat would also get rapid and then slow down. It also made me dizzy, and I felt out of tune with the divine will for the baby and me. I asked Swamiji about this in my first pregnancy, and he replied, "Do more Hong-Sau."
I found in my next two pregnancies that it was okay if I did a few Kriyas very gently, staying focused on love. In general, while pregnant I found it was most helpful to focus the majority of my meditation on devotion to Divine Mother and Guru. You might appreciate this short talk on how to develop devotion, by Swami Kriyananda.
Kriya was originally meant to be given to those who had forsaken all else, and therefore would not have been pregnant. So, while we are in this special, blessed state of carrying a child, listen to your intuition. Let the Guru and Divine Mother guide you, for there are no rules written on this. Do not stress your body, or the baby’s developing body. Every uplifted and devotional thought blesses your unborn child, and helps to bring out their own seeds of spiritual tendencies developed in past lives.
Pregnancy is such a profound state in which a tiny baby is dependent directly upon your life force. Everything I have written, above, pertains directly to the state of pregnancy. As soon as the baby was born, it changes, and your body is your own again, even if you are nursing your child. It takes energy to create that milk, but not in the same way. Kriya was never a disturbance in that state. However, it is difficult to find time to meditate with a new baby, and so, in this way, the focus on devotion to Divine Mother continues into that phase. You may only be able to do short sessions of Kriya then. But do try to sit every day at your altar even for a short time, and give your love to God. You can also practice prayer, devotion and Kriya as you nurse your baby. Don’t aim for perfection — but instead aim for love and sincerity.
The only time I heard Swamiji address this issue of stopping Kriya to conserve the energy for the body, or for healing was after he had major heart surgery. Normally, he never missed Kriya, but after this heart surgery he did his Kriyas, and he said it felt wrong, like he was pulling the energy away from his heart, when it was needed to do the healing. Please note, the heart is connected to life force and the ability of the body to survive. So I am not talking about minor things.
So, in big circumstance, like pregnancy or major surgery, one may need to pull back from Kriya, or to do them gently. But it is important to not use this as an excuse once that situation has passed. Keep some sadhana going, and if it feels okay — do a few Kriyas gently, as this will keep you in the habit of doing them.
God Bless you,
Author of Finding God In Your Family
Helping a Child's Broken Heart
July 21, 2015
My husband issued me a legal notice during 4th month of my pregnancy.I blindly trusted him but he deceived me and my daughter.I had a chance to terminate my pregnancy but being a Mother I didnt.From the community which I belong,father has a prime importance for upbringing of the child.I take all the responsibility upon my shoulders as Shri Swami Vivekanada says and accept what destiny has to offer. But I am unable to c sufferings of my daughter. How can I suffice her pain?
Thank you for your question. I am so sorry that you had to endure this shock during your pregnancy, in what ideally should be a time of peace and harmony between a couple. You do not mention how old your child is at this point, and in what ways she shows her suffering, but I will answer you in some general ways. Please do feel free to write back to me, as needed.
The main "cure" for your child is to pray for her every day, and feel that you are surrounding her heart chakra in love and healing light. We can pray for her, as well. In my private healing sessions I have sometimes come across a similar scenario in which a great trauma happened during pregnancy, and abortion was considered by the parents. In such cases, the baby sometimes internalizes all that angst, and believes on a core level they are somehow flawed, and is the cause of all the problems between the parents. This core thought of being "the problem" can continue through life, unless healed.
I am glad you did not have the abortion. Paramhansa Yogananda says that life begins at conception. So it is a spiritual victory that you did not take the easy way out at that time. She is blessed to have you as her mother.
Please feel free to request healing prayers for your daughter and for yourself, until you feel this issue is resolved in Light. try not to think of her father as the enemy in any way, as this is a burden for your child. He is her father. Some difficult karma was at play, and he wasn’t ready then to live up to the responsibilities of marriage and family. Maybe that will change in the future, or maybe in another life. But for now, simply see him as God’s erring child, who failed you in your time of great need. Hopefully this will help you to let go of some of the pain, and this in turn will help your daughter. Children are very connected to their mothers.
Surround yourself with the support of family and friends, if possible. How old is your daughter now? These spiritual resources may be helpful to you, once you have created a stable life for her. We will pray for you.
Please keep in touch.
Mary Kretzmann, Director,
Prayers for children and for safety
December 19, 2014
Hi, I was wondering if there were any prayers by Guruji or Swamiji, that I could use in the following 3 cases..
1. I’m terrified of driving after a road accident a few years ago.., is there a prayer I can say before starting the engine to help protect us on the road?
2. A Bedtime prayer that can be used with Children? Not too short or banal.
3. And also a Morning Prayer that can be used with Children.
Thank You Very Much!
First, I am sorry to hear that you had a car accident a few years ago. I assume it was serious because it has had this lasting effect on you. Many of us here at Ananda Village say a prayer before starting the car, and especially before driving off of the Ananda land. Many of us also have a small picture of Paramhansa Yogananda in our cars.
There is no prescribed prayer for this, but before you drive, see yourself and your car surrounded in a halo of light. Pray to our line of Gurus, and ask that your trip be guided, protected and blessed. Also, it is good to do other things to strength your aura. Do you have an astrological bangle? They offer a protective power. You can read about them in Chapter 16 of Autobiography of Yogi. Prayer and devotion also strength the aura, but the bangle helps us even when we have momentarily forgotten God.
You also asked about children’s prayers. You will find these free resources to be helpful. Choose whichever prayers seem suitable for your child.
- Prayer Demands for Children
- Life’s Little Secrets
- Healing Prayers with Children
- Finding God in Your Family
You will also enjoy this section on Family Life Resources: A Treasure Chest of Books and More. It offer free books and articles that will help you at any stage of parenting.
God bless you,
Handling your child's tantrums in a spiritual way
December 18, 2014
My daughter, who is almost 4, has a lot of tantrums when she doesn’t get her way. Still breastfeeding. Feel like I need help with my practice so that I can stay connected and see God in her and bring out/reinforce the healthy part of her. Any thoughts come to mind for fertilizer for healthy relationship/spiritual parenting? (I do realize that a lot of this is a call to deepen my own practice — a big challenge while also facing the other demands on my time and energy)
Thank you for your question. I started meditating in my early 20’s, married at age 23 and had my first child at age 24. My three children are all grown now, and they are well-adjusted and spiritually inclined individuals. Also, as young woman I was a preschool teacher for a few years. So what I share with you is based on my personal experience, and the inspiration from the teachings of my Guru, Paramhansa Yogananda.
Temper tantrums are an unfortunate aspect of childhood, but if they are too frequent it shows that something may be out of balance in the child’s life. Since you say that your daughter throws a tantrum whenever she doesn’t get her way, there are a few things that you can do:
- Get her to calm down, saying something like “Take a deep breath,” and ”Use your words…”
- If she insists on throwing a fit, a “timeout” may well be in order. I used timeouts for my kids on occasion, but I never exceeded one minute per year of age. So, a four year old would get a four-minute timeout. This is not harsh, especially if you tell the child we are trying to create a peaceful home here.
- I sometimes had to resort to locking the door of the bedroom (with a simple hook and eye) if the child would not cooperate with the timeout. I only had to resort to this a few times, but it does get the point across that you mean business. I still kept to the one minute per year of age.
I used timeouts as a last resort. Normally I would find ways to reward positive and cooperative behavior. One day I made a “star chart” that was simply a big field of blue, and the kids could place their star anywhere on the chart after they did something helpful, or without raising a big fuss. They asked me what the reward would be, and I said, “You will notice that when this sky of deep blue is filled up with gold stars, you will have had a happy mama and a peaceful home for quite a while…” That actually made sense to them, and they were only a little older than your daughter at the time.
Children need to learn to behave, not only so they can do well later in life, but also so they don’t make their friends and family miserable in the process. Tell your daughter you want to start working on this so you can all have a happy family and a peaceful household. An only child needs to be told that it is time to grow up, at least a little. In a larger family, such as was common in past generations, a four-year old could not have the entire world revolve around her every little desire. By then she could have easily had two younger siblings, and the child would have to think of the needs of others, even if just a little.
For this reason, it is also helpful for a child to go to preschool or kindergarten for part of the day. I don’t believe in all-day childcare, if it can be avoided (though I know some circumstances require it). But your daughter might really benefit from a part-time preschool program to help expand her reality, and learn healthier ways of relating.
Here are a few free online resources that may be a big help to you now:
- Do’s and Don’ts of Good Parenting, by Paramhansa Yogananda
- Education for Life, by Swami Kriyananda
- Finding God in Your Family, by Mary Kretzmann
Finally, take a moment to look over Family Life Resources: A Treasure Chest of Free Online Books and More. Here you will find many resources to help you at every stage of parenting. Read a little bit each day and apply the things the make sense to you.
You also ask for help on how to "see God in her." I think one of the best approaches to that would be to start the journey of helping her to see God in herself. Paramhansa Yogananda taught that the first gentle steps of spiritual training can begin at age two. With that in mind, consider using these resources for prayers at bedtime, etc. Some of these ideas are for slightly older children, so adapt accordingly:
- Prayer Demands for Children, by Paramhansa Yogananda
- Life Little Secrets for Children, by Swami Kriyananda
- Healing Prayers with Children, by Mary Kretzmann
I hope these resources are a help to you. Please don’t be overwhelmed by it — just read a little bit every day, and your own journey with your daughter will become clear.
God bless you,
Director, Ananda Healing Prayer Ministry
P.S. And last but not least, you may find this affirmation below very helpful, because when a marriage is happy and strong it is easier to carry out these noble ideals in family life.
Yogananda’s Affirmation for Increasing Marital Happiness
Father, please keep my husband (wife) and I perfectly united in body, mind and soul, and in ever-increasing happiness by Thy perfect law.
Family Life and Spiritual Life
August 25, 2014
Is starting a family a mistake on the spiritual path? My sadhana is much shorter than it was before I had a child, and I sometimes wonder if we made the right choice. Yet I do feel closer to God than ever even though the meditation portion of my life has decreased. Could you lend some insight to this?
The results of your decision reveal to you a greater depth and Atunement even in spite of having less time to meditate. God can come to us whenever we are, for God is our very Self. As our hearts are attuned to the divine presence we will feel that presence in ourselves, in our children, in every moment.
So, be not concerned. What time you have for meditation be grateful and go deep, giving yourself wholly to God. Your life will then be blessed. Serve God in the needs of your family. Chant his name throughout the day. “To those who think me near, I will be there.”
Joy to you in all you do,
How Much Maturity to Expect in Teenagers
January 23, 2014
Is it normal to expect a thirteen-year-old normal child to behave like a mature child? I know in some circumstances few kids grow up to be very mature. How should I approach to make a child understand that she should become aware of the surroundings and act accordingly? I don’t think forcing or imposing on them is good idea. Should I be giving them more space to learn and wait to see results? Please suggest.
The question of teens and maturity is an immensely important issue. They don’t look like cute little children anymore, but we also need to see that real maturity is going to take a while. In the book Education for Life maturity is defined as the ability to relate to realities other than your own. To help your teen move in this direction you can do the following things:
1) Engage them in conversations about different events you experience together. Ask reflective questions like: What do you think that person was thinking? Why do you think that person behaved that way?
2) Put them in situations that expand there life experience beyond what they’ve grown up with, for example: helping serve at a homeless shelter, offering to read books to hospitalized children, volunteering at an animal shelter, visiting with people at a retirement home, traveling to a different country.
3) Watch videos together of inspiring things people have done (Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, etc.), and then discuss the events with your son/daughter focussing on how their actions changed other people’s lives.
These are a few suggestions, but anything that expands your teen's world in a positive way will be helpful. The bottom line is that they are finished with childhood and need to be treated differently, but not expected to perform at an adult level.
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