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You Are Not Alone: Connecting with your kids even when it seems impossible

Posted at 5:00 AM, Jul 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-13 09:32:17-04

PHOENIX — If connecting with your kids right now seems next to impossible, you are not alone.

New numbers from the National Alliance on Mental Illness show one in six kids will be diagnosed with a mental health disorder.

Studies like these have elementary school districts across the country implementing mindfulness programs.

The goal? To help kids learn the value of self-regulation.

Through a series of lessons these elementary school students learn how to become more physically and emotionally aware of their surroundings. They also learn how to communicate effectively to get their needs met.

"I can't tell you the power of three breaths. That extra oxygen to your head slows us down a lot more than we think."

The social worker leading this mission in North Central Phoenix at Madison Elementary schools is Kayla Santos. She praises the district's superintendent for making this program a priority for kids.

She also tells ABC15 students are embracing the lessons and she's hearing from parents who say communication at home is getting better.

"I think it's so funny that as we teach this to our students, I'm finding our kids to be more resilient than our parents."

She said she heard from one parent who asked why their child is showing her how to find ways to get calm.

"I was like, well, did you take those three deep breaths? Because think that they recognized an emotion in you that they have once felt, and it's going into that resilience, but also that empathy, which I think is really awesome."

The mindfulness coach says parents who make quality time and conversation a priority will see major differences at home.

"Don't ask your kids questions. Just don't do it. I think that starting with words like 'I wonder' instead of 'how was' or 'what was' gives your child the opportunity to lead the conversation in what they feel is important."

She also says when parents get real and say the words "I don't know," it teaches kids that it's okay to ask for help.

"In order to be able to advocate and ask for space, teaches your kids that they can advocate and ask for space when they need to."