Meditation for a high-need kid
August 17, 2011 6:36 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a very specific kind of therapy/mindfulness training for my kid. I'm in the SF Bay Area.

My kid has an ADHD diagnosis but her behavior issues are more extreme than your typical "ADD" diagnosed kid. She is fine for a few weeks, then has a week or two of complete lack of impulse control, tantrums, crying, basically crazy behavior. This is very sad for her and very hard for everyone else to be around. She does take ADD meds but I find them to be a sort of trade off of one set of troubling behaviors for severe sleep problems and more emotional tantrums in the afternoons. Anyway, not looking for meds advice.

I think she would benefit from doing some kind of kid-appropriate mindfulness work like meditation or yoga geared toward a high-need kid. A big part of what is hard for her and hard for others when dealing with her is she just gets triggered and freaks out. I think meditation/mindfulness could be a tool to help her slow down instead of just flying off. I've tried to teach her some basic breathing stuff, but she's not having it from me. In general she is quite disruptive in group settings so right now I am looking at one-on-one options. She has done some one-on-one drama-based talk therapy before and she enjoyed it, which is great, but it didn't improve the behavior issues. She's also done small group therapy/socialization work. And we've tried martial arts! Ugh.

Anyway, my fantasy right now is I'll find a therapist who does mindfulness training too and who also works with kids. Since I'm fantasizing, sliding scale and East Bay would be ideal. But any leads or suggestions including classes would be great. Oh, she's almost 9. Thank you!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Could you go to a mediation class with her?
posted by yarly at 7:39 PM on August 17, 2011

anaelith: OP says the child is 9.

I'm not sure if she'd be a good match for you but Elizabeth Sullivan is a wonderful therapist who works with children in San Francisco. I'm sure that if you got in touch with her, she might even be able to point you in the direction of specific meditation resources since I know that's an interest of hers.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 7:41 PM on August 17, 2011

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a branch that is pretty heavy on mindfulness. They have a therapist finder at

Another branch is Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). Their finder is at

I would imagine that anybody who doesn't work with kids may know somebody who does and point you in the right direction. Meanwhile, you could try listening to some audio tapes with her, practicing the exercises as a family. There are lots of good meditation mp3s out there for free. Try

Googling "MBSR for kids" is showing some promising links, even if they are just to programs that might be able to suggest a person in your area.
posted by gilsonal at 8:10 PM on August 17, 2011

Definitely check out Spirit Rock's Family Program. Also, look at specific family retreats and classes to see if the listed teachers have a private practice or something similar.
posted by Mr. Papagiorgio at 8:11 PM on August 17, 2011

Also: an interesting article with adaptations for working with kids
posted by gilsonal at 8:12 PM on August 17, 2011

The Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City might give you some further guidence and resources.
posted by Mr. Papagiorgio at 8:21 PM on August 17, 2011

Jennifer Freeman and Dean Lobovits are MFTs in Berkeley. They are well-known practitioners in a type of therapy called Narrative Therapy called Playful Approaches to Serious Problems.

From the book jacket: Children who might have been labeled belligerent, hyperactive, anxious, or out of touch with reality are found to be capable of taming their tempers, controlling frustration, facing fears, and using their imaginations to the fullest.

Narrative therapy can be a wonderful approach that really emphasizes imagination and creativity and vigorous meaning-making. I haven't met Dean, but Jennifer is a very nice person - you could look over the book and/or give her a call to discuss your hopes for treatment.
posted by jasper411 at 9:03 PM on August 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Oops, posted too quickly - "Playful Approaches to Serious Problems" is a book that Jennifer and Dean co-authored with David Epston, one of the founders of Narrative Therapy.
posted by jasper411 at 9:04 PM on August 17, 2011

Mindfulness training can be super effective for the kinds of dysregulation you're describing, particularly when self-regulation and emotion management skills are added in (but, honestly, without additional self-regulation skills? kid is gonna have a hard time getting very mindful). DBT does this quite well; there is a tool for locating clinics and clinicians who are trained in DBT here.
posted by so_gracefully at 10:20 PM on August 17, 2011

Does it need to be that explicitly "mindfulness"? Because a lot of this could be covered by an occupational therapist doing Floortime with her, and it would probably be a lot more fun -- and possibly paid for by your insurance.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:05 PM on August 22, 2011

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