InterviewsSuper Kid Power

STRESS: Use It or It WILL Use You

The four year old boy began singing the Calming Song I taught the PreK class when he recognized that his teacher was getting out of control with her stress level. She was frustrated. Her vocal tone was tense. She was not relating with the children in a way they would be receptive.

When the boy started singing, the whole class joined in:


The teacher suddenly snapped out of the extreme tension as her students helped her do what she normally helped them to do. She began to B R E A T H E. She thanked them for being SUPERKIDS and using their skills to help her. Children can strengthen the family and classroom system IF they are taught self regulation skills. We all need each other.

Stress skills provide an opportunity to use stress instead of stress using us. Stress grabbed the teacher and controlled her. Tension begets tension unless someone has skills to transform it. Success with Stress is empowerment versus feeling victimized by stress. Empowered SUPERKIDS saved the day!

But are we really victims? Only if we choose that channel in our brains and do not exercise self-awareness and self-control. Regardless of what is going on in the external world, we ALWAYS have a choice with our internal world: Thoughts/Feelings/Body/ Breathing.

Right now notice where you have tension in your body. Forehead? Tongue? Jaws? Stomach? Shoulders? Neck? Legs? Feet?

Normal muscle tension occurs in functioning daily as we pick up the plate, bend over to put on shoes, open the door, etc. When we carry something heavy across the room we use necessary excessive muscle tension. If we keep that level of excessive tension in our muscles to communicate or release it inappropriately in stressed-out mode to family members, we lose the game to stress. It creates more stress causing chronic tension buildup resulting in disease and damaged relationships.

The goal of the stress game? Win! We win by generating the willpower to change self destructive patterns that cause more stress for ourselves and others. It is a time NOW to use this stressful CoVid19 situation to grow, to learn, to improve, to tap more of who we are instead of less than what our potential is. Doing this ourselves imprints something lifelong for children and others we are connected to. We will all remember this time. HOW do we want to remember it? I know my answer find myself. Find yours.

You can generate the willingness to BREATHE, THINK AND MAKE A GOOD CHOICE (another jingle I teach children). STOP yourself, B R E A T H E deeply through the abdomen (for kids it’s the belly button breathing) several times and think what your TRUE intention is (high road or low road). Then make a good choice.

Adopt the NO HARM policy. Get that stressful tension out with no harm to self or others.

Harm Free Stress Tips with children:

1. Bubble Blowing. Big bubbles come from slow, deep breathing. Short, shallow breaths create tiny bubbles. Do several short breaths with small bubbles with children. Then do slow, deep breathing and see how big your bubbles can get. It calms children while being really fun together with you!

2. Choices. If you need a good release, shake it out, squeeze it out with a sponge, blow it out like a volcano up into the air, dance it out, run it out, laugh it out, drum it out, talk it out, scream it out in the shower (not at anyone) (warn household members), color it out. 3. Pow-Wow Time. Share ideas to create more fun and more calming time. Take turns with guidepost idea for the day. Today I declare two deep breaths together when we are in the same room. Smile day. Smiles create endorphins and open the heart. Take turns finding something that can be shared to bring smiles. A story. Picture. Compliment. Be creative.

4. Artwork. Color what stress looks and feels like inside your body. Color how calm feelings look and feel like in your body. Share. Discuss.
5. Play Dough. Get tension out in the play dough. Kids love this. Then do deep breathing and show the difference in what calm play dough looks like.

6. Role Model Language. “I feel tense in my stomach. I am going to BREATHE, THINK AND MAKE A GOOD CHOICE.



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Janai 'Grandma Boom' Mestrovich

Janai Mestrovich aka Grandma Boom’s passion for human potential and stress prevention has been a 40-year journey. With a Master’s Degree in Family and Child Development, she is a pioneer in children’s stress prevention programs, and author, newspaper columnist, TV producer/host/creator/writer, and international speaker. Janai’s awards and honors include: Silver Medal, NY International Film and Television Festival; Most Innovative Children’s Program, Oregon; Miss Hospitality of Kansas, 1969; invited and appointed to the Rosalynn Carter Institute National Caregiving Project Editorial Board; invited to represent prevention and rural areas at the Surgeon General’s Conference on Children’s Mental Health; watermelon seed spitting champion; 1st and 2nd place awards as Freedom Fairy in Ashland, Oregon’s July 4th parades. She is a pioneer and advocate in furthering holistic education for children, and delights in being an outrageously fun grandmother. Janai has taught at the University of Oregon and Southern Oregon University on Empowering Children, speaks at global conferences, and dresses in costume to teach in daycare settings about stress skills and emotional intelligence. She encourages all, young and old alike, to engage their joy-filled inner child, and tap into the freedom of holistic aging.

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