We love reading stories about how our tools are living for families in their homes. Here’s a story that came in from mama Kelley Rufkahr with her children Wyatt, age six, and Emmett, age four.
Hi, guys! I just wanted to share about our experience using Generation Mindful's tools, most specifically the Time-In ToolKit, SnuggleBuddies, and the book Heart's Treasure Hunt.
My oldest son Wyatt uses the system beautifully! Because his Autism diagnosis means he thrives on routine and structure, we are able to tap into his unique gifts and work through the feelings process in a logical, step-by-step method.
He enjoys the structure of the exercise, utilizes the tools, and recognizes the importance of calming down before taking the next step. His biggest challenge is forgiveness, which is why we chose the Purple Elephant as his SnuggleBuddies feelings buddy because my son is so logical, it’s difficult for him to understand why others make mistakes. We talk every day about how everyone makes mistakes and our mantra is, "mistakes are beautiful because mistakes help me learn and grow.”
When Wyatt’s little brother Emmett was born, we were relieved that he seemed to be developing typically and there were no apparent signs of Autism, not because we view Autism negatively (truly, Wyatt is a gift and Autism is a part of his beautiful mind), but because we thought maybe feelings would come more naturally and there would be fewer challenges for our second son.
Now that Emmett is 4-years-old, we have learned that our second son has a very unique mind as well, one that is possibly more challenging to unlock in this world of “neurotypical” than our first son’s. Emmett is exhibiting signs of ADHD, receptive language difficulties, and possibly a learning disability. He will have an assessment in a few months to rule out/diagnose Autism and/or any other potential neurodiversity. Luckily, because of our experience with Wyatt, we are ready this time around to help him thrive and tap into his unique gifts.
Because we were already using Generation Mindful with his older brother, we are also using the tools with Emmett. He has not taken to them as quickly as Wyatt, mainly because he is more of a Red Bear or perhaps Yellow Lion, brimming with strength of mind and heart and needing to loudly and powerfully express these feelings before he is able to achieve his inner calmness. Unlike Wyatt, he does not want to be guided through the steps, but rather release his feelings with his whole soul until their power has quieted.
Some people might see this as undesirable. But we know that four-year-olds have BIG FEELINGS and they do not be quieted or shamed. Instead, we feel empowered to allow him to harness them in the context of Generation Mindful, using the visual of the Yellow Lion to roar his heart out. He knows he is not allowed to yell AT PEOPLE— instead he says “I feel like the LION!” and goes to the calming corner to channel it.
This can be challenging for me, who is more like Wyatt and introspective in my anger, but I sit with him in his anger and help keep him and his belongings safe until he is ready to talk. After 20-30 min, he is ready to talk about his feelings—we go through the steps, talk about ways to calm himself, and in the end we read the book Heart’s Treasure Hunt and look at the mirror on the last page to remind him that HE IS LOVE.
It is a slow process but vital for his emotional development. There is no shaming or discipline for having these big feelings - just love, acceptance and guidance. At times, I see him trying to gulp down “deep breaths” in the midst of his anger, which to me is a sign that he is recognizing the calming methods, and will one day be quicker and quicker to utilize them.