Joy Juice!

Have you started using I Love You Rituals at home yet? Or perhaps come up with your own? The reason we like to incorporate I Love You Rituals in class and encourage you to use them regularly at home is that doing so gives you and your child a shot of JOY JUICE.

What is Joy Juice? It is a hormonal cocktail that your body releases and bathes your brain in when you engage in a moment of connection with a loved one. It is comprised of dopamine, endorphins, and other natural hormones. It can have an equivalent effect on a child’s brain as a dose of Ritalin. But completely natural! And you have access to it ANY TIME YOU WANT.

Dr. Becky Baily of Conscious Discipline teaches “Joy Juice is a combination of positive brain chemicals that create joyful feelings literally wiring the brain for impulse control and willingness.”

Looking to add more joy to your family’s life and help transform challenging behavior? Add some Joy Juice!

The key elements to accessing your and your child’s body’s Joy Juice production and distribution facility are:

  1. Eye contact: Getting down on your child’s level, looking them in the eye, and using their name, is essential to building the connection needed for the release of these hormones.
  2. Touch: Placing your hand on your child’s shoulder or head, a gentle tickle, or a hug, signals to the child that they are safe. It readies them for connection and cooperation.
  3. Presence: Being fully present in the moment and with your child indicates empathy and comfort. It’s a way of signaling to them that they matter to you and that you are a safe place for them.
  4. Playfulness: A playful situation gives the brain a little break and primes it for more learning. A playful game can put us in a state called “relaxed alertness” which is optimal for learning and readiness.

 

The connections we build with others on the outside builds neural connections on the inside and give us this Joy Juice.

So when you’re in a challenging moment with your child, get down on their level, place your hand on their shoulder, use their name and say “Find my eyes.” Then be present and playful with them. It only takes a moment to connect, prime the brain, and promote connection and cooperation.

Here’s to more JOY!

It’s That Time of Year . . .

. . . When we do our annual holiday class with you and your little ones.

We’ve had fun ice skating on paper plates, playing our jingle bells, going on sleigh rides, spinning in dreidels, and creating snow storms.

The mission of our holiday class is to bring you JOY, our first and foremost studio value. This time of year is filled with hectic schedules: gift buying, present wrapping, recitals, concerts, parties, traveling, hostessing, all on top of our regularly scheduled lives.

And with all that over-scheduling comes stress. It’s no secret that the magic of the holiday season is created by the hard working parents (let’s be honest: mostly the moms). Not only the events and the parties and the decorations, but the PRESENTS. So much shopping. So much financial stress as we blow the budget.

Remember . . . the most important thing you can give your family during the holidays is PRESENCE. The most important thing you can give your family is SHARED EXPERIENCES. And those don’t have to cost much of anything.

So say no. Say no to a couple of things on that endless holiday to-do list, and instead have a Christmas carol sing-along. Drive around and see your neighbor’s house lights. Clean the bathtub sparkling fresh and indulge in some alone-time.

We are honored that we could spend this week creating holiday magic for YOU because we know how much work you put in to this time of year. We hope you enjoyed it. See you in the New Year!

Joy

At the end of my daughter’s Kindermusik for the Young Child classes this week, a fellow student came bursting out of class, with delight and pride, exclaiming to her mom that she “matched Ms. Carol’s pitch!” (Ms. Carol asks her older students to sing back to her when they get a stamp, “Good-bye Ms. Carol,”—using music to create an I Love You (TM) ritual, and giving the students another opportunity to develop their musical ear.) While I don’t make it a habit to eavesdrop on the conversations that other caregivers have with their kids at the studio (so, you know, don’t be paranoid when you see me there that your conversation will end up on the web forevermore!), this one caught my ear. That girl, sharing the contentment of her accomplishment, excitedly sharing it with her mom, exuded pure joy.

Joy. It is one of the most profound human emotions that we can experience. It can also be a really difficult emotion to experience, because it betrays our vulnerability. An addict, for instance, may be as likely to experience a relapse after a joyful experience as he or she may be as part of a depressive experience, because both can be very overwhelming and difficult to face alone. Certainly, not all of our habits are unhealthy. Candy Crush, exercise, shopping or eating can all be good things, if they hold an appropriate space in our lives. But if we turn to those things so as not to experience emotion (joy or sorrow), we are numbing. And I have learned that we cannot selectively numb–if we numb the pain, we also numb the joy in our lives.

Pema Chodron quoteOf course, it takes regular practice for me just to sit with strong emotions. I tend to forget when I’m in pain that it will pass, and that when the joy comes it will be worthwhile. Child-rearing, of course, is one big petree dish in which to practice vulnerability and courage. Or, as my dad used to say, “Kids are a lump in the throat or a pain in the butt.”

Brené Brown, author and shame researcher, teaches that joy comes when we practice gratitude:

“We can spend our entire lives in scarcity . . . just waiting for the other shoe to drop and wondering when it will all fall apart. Or, we can lean into the uncertainty and be thankful for what we have in that precious moment. When I’m standing at the crossroads of fear and gratitude, I’ve learned that I must choose vulnerability and practice gratitude if [I] want to know joy. I’m not sure that it will ever be easy for me, but I have learned to trust this practice. For that, I give thanks!” (Brené Brown, blog post, What I’ve Learned About Gratitude and Fear 11/23/11, accessed 4/10/15).

But, she notes, we can’t just say that we practice gratitude—we actually have to have some measurable way of marking that for which we are grateful:

One of the Song of the Heart values is joy. So, as a community, this week let’s practice gratitude in a specific, “tangible” way. When you come to class, check out the paper that will be posted on the wall, and add something for which you’re grateful. And ask your kids! What good thing has happened to them today? It can be something specifically you find to be grateful about Kindermusik and the Song of the Heart studio, or it can be something about another part of your life for which you give thanks. Then, when you’re in class, dare to lean into the joy of singing a lullaby with your child or dancing with your preschooler—be OK with the fact that the moment is fleeting, and give yourself permission to feel it completely.