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8 Ways to raise a "whole" child

Caron Goode, EdD, is currently the co-managing director with her husband, Tom Goode, N.D., of the International Breath Institute, an educational and training organization that offers health and lifestyle management seminars and certifica...

body, mind & soul

In the past, it seems that society has left children's souls to the church, their intellects to the schools and their physical health to the doctors. Today, parents are now more aware of the social, emotional, and spiritual qualities that children need for them to feel successful in life. We are returning to awareness of the whole child, and our decisive and dynamic parenting role in rearing a wholesome child.


Since the mind/body is one energy unit, ensure that your child's physical energy stays balanced through exercise. Choose activities that suit their body types and temperaments. Yogic stretching, martial arts and solo exercises such as swimming, walking, hiking or biking might be fun for children who prefer limited or no competition. Organized sports might interest more active children.

6Accept and acknowledge emotions

To help children gain confidence, start by accepting your own children's feelings and emotions. Think of their emotions as moving energy -- energy you don't want to get stuck. Help children acknowledge how they feel, accept these feelings as they are, or change them if need be. As parents, you can learn to accept, acknowledge, and direct emotional expression to the appropriate place at the right time for your children.

7Positive self-talk

If children feel mentally or emotionally stuck, teach them positive self-talk to get through difficult situations. When nine-year-old John looked down from a high Ferris wheel seat, he talked himself through his fear. When Lauren was due to give a final summation in a debate class, she talked aloud to psyche herself up with energy. When 14-year-old Keith started to lose his temper in class, he recognized his short fuse, so he took time to breathe deeply and speak to himself mentally to calm down.

8Time out for nothing

In the midst of children's busy and focused lives, remember to take time for "nothing." Allow space for no activity. We use the term space to describe a state that is empty of expectations, conditions and outcomes. Having space means having unstructured time and both children and adults often have difficulty with this. If you can teach children (and yourself) to use unstructured time and space creatively, you can discover much beauty and unconditional worthiness. Your inspiration will grow from within as you create life on your own terms.

The joy of parenting the whole child is that whatever you do to feed one aspect of their wholeness also feeds the other components. You can relax knowing that your mindfulness about meeting all of your children's needs helps you know what those needs might be.

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