You have a very special gift to be able to speak to children… and their parents. I have been looking at your posts and I have learned some incredible ways to enable my two little girls (7 and 11) to self soothe and destress. They have a lot of stress and it’s caused by me. I was diagnosed with terminal cancer almost three years ago and there are good days and bad days but they have been little warriors for me. My eldest was very angry and asked me why God would give me cancer. I told her that God didn’t give me cancer. Nature gave me cancer but God is how I choose to deal with it. We also play and have lots of adventures! Your spirit and joy remind me of how my children have told me that they think of me. Life is a celebration!
I want you to know that I use so many of your methods when spending time with them. Recently my seven year old told me she wanted to kill herself and I was so distraught. I talked to her and found out it’s because she didn’t want me to be lonely in Heaven. She wanted to go with me. Can you just imagine?!?! As you have written there is always a reason behind a child’s actions. We have worked this out with therapy and your exercises!
Thank you so much Janai! You touch the lives of people you don’t know and I am grateful for you and your advice.
Head Start Migrant Division pre-K teacher: “I was having a hard day and became frustrated. A 4 yr. old boy started singing the CALM SONG that Janai (Grandma Boom) taught the class. The boy obviously recognized I needed to calm down. The entire class joined in and it helped me to calm myself. It was so nice to have the children be empowered in order to reinforce the skill with me.”
Elementary/middle school principal, Larry Hunt: “This program is successfully filling a gap that nothing else can fill.”
United Nations Representative, V. White, after witnessing a presentation by Janai Mestrovich on the foundational concepts of Self-Help Skills for pre-K and K children: “Every child on this planet deserves to have the right to learn these skills in the way you teach them.”
Sarah Weiss, Bellevue, Washington: As a young student of Janai’s, I remember her fun teaching styles and music. Her passion for teaching students how to manage their feelings and stress through breathing is an everlasting tool. Being a parent now and all of the challenging times I face with children, I still look back on everything that Janai taught us to remain calm. With every story she tells there is a moral and I truly feel like her passion for helping people is an extremely vital utensil to teach to any and everyone. Janai is an incredible role model and a huge inspiration to become the best you that you can be. I am forever grateful for the influence she has made in my life and now in my children’s lives.
Sharon Ruud, Drain, Oregon: Frequently children are told to “calm down,” and Janai’s program opened my eyes as a parent and a teacher that many children might not know what that looks like. Janai uses age appropriate illustrations, objects and role plays to help children define adult phraseology so that it becomes crystal clear what they can do for themselves.It helps students to know how to focus when they are calm in classroom activities.
Stacie Westbrook, LCSW and mother to an amazing 8 year old: I have had the honor of working with Janai aka Gramma Boom both personally and professionally over the last 6 years. As the mother of an 8 year old girl who experiences big emotions, Janai has given us the tools to help her learn healthy coping and self care skill to ease transitions. Professionally, I have used what Janai has taught with my patients and their children from practicing to breathe to identifying where in their body they experience emotions. Janai and her teachings are not only a vital piece for our children they are also a true gift to receive.
Cheryl Markiewicz, K Teacher, Medford, Oregon: “These skills have had impact on every aspect of my classroom.”
Angie Borigo, School Resource Officer: “Since the kindergarten children began doing the training in the Self-Help Program, I’ve seen a great reduction in socio-economic class discrimination with them on the playground.”
Teacher, Marla Dentino, of migrant children ages 3-5, Ashland with the Jackson County Oregon Child Development Coalition: “Janai: Today a student of mine with disabilities who experiences daily challenges with emotional and behavioral regulation was disturbing the peace once again, and another student reminded him to, “Breathe, think, and make a good choice.” Hearing this from his peer helped him to discontinue the negative behavior. We are very excited this has happened! Thank you for all that you do for these high-needs kiddos. Gratefully,” Marla Dentino Note: These children are 3-5 yrs. old!!! “Breathe, Think and Make a Good Choice” is a jingle we sing, march and drum to!! Whole body learning/experience teaches one to know for oneself! Young children helping each other and helping themselves to live consciously with healthy choices make a difference in the world that we need. EMPOWERING SUPERKIDS!
Mom of male child: “We were at the pool with our kids. Our daughter kept complaining about how other kids were spoiling her day. Our son, who has been trained in the SelfHelp Program, said to his sitter in a matter-of-fact tone, “You don’t have to let others control how you feel.” His dad and I were so impressed.
Teacher, Promise Preschool Program: “This is a great program. I think it works well because the children are engaged and entertained while they are learning about themselves.”
Kindergarten female foster child suffering from ACES: “My mom and grandma were yelling at each other. I calmed myself singing the CALM SONG and taking deep breaths. Then they got calm and stopped yelling.” (This demonstrates the ability to act rather than react. In this case it had a positive impact on others.)
Josie (5) said her hand hurt when another student stepped on it. Instead of focusing on her anger and pain, she said it really helped to breathe out her upset feelings and feel good about herself.
Mrs. N.: “My son has changed SO much since he started learning these self-control and calming techniques. Now his sister, who used to seem like she had more self-control, appears to need to learn the techniques from him in order to catch up.”
Kindergarten girl: “My little brother took my shells and wouldn’t give them back. I calmed myself with deep breaths. He still didn’t give them back and then he started hitting me. I took more deep breaths and sang the CALM SONG instead of fighting him. Then he stopped hitting me but he still didn’t give the shells back.”
Mom of male child: “Because my child is learning this and doing it, I am now really paying attention to how much I need to have more self-control and take deep breaths.”
Shelby (6) was tackled on the playground by another boy. He took a deep breath, thought about his choice of action, and decided he wanted to feel good about himself instead of getting the boy back. He practices the jingle that Janai taught the students, “Breathe, Think and Make a Good Choice.”
Tyler (5) wanted candy, but his mom said “no.” After calming his feelings with deep breathing, he said he didn’t even want the candy anymore!”
Kristy’s(6) brother hurt her. She was angry. But instead of releasing her anger inappropriately, she communicated about it to her mom after calming herself with deep breaths.
Mrs. S. shared that she has been concerned about her daughter becoming a ‘troubled teen’ in future years because of her lack of control and easily angered disposition. But she said © Janai Mestrovich, BS / MS, Family and Child Development Ashland, OR that after only a few sessions of the Self-Help Program, her daughter changed drastically, realizing she can make good choices, have self-control and treat everyone nicer around her. She reports her daughter’s life is completely turned around because of this program.
Andrew (7): “A nail went in my chest and it hurt bad. I took deep breaths to help it feel better.”
Krystal (age 5): “Our apartment burned down on the weekend. I remembered what you taught us, Janai, to take deep breaths when we are upset so we can make good choices. I knew I needed to take a deep breath before going in when it cooled down. All my things were burned.”
Mother of autistic female child: “Your approach directly touched my daughter who usually does not connect with others, even family friends. She was very drawn to you and your lively, experiential approach. For this I am grateful.”
Measuring stress level: 17 children in one class session used mood cards to measure hand temperature and stress level. In the beginning 15 were black (tense), 2 green (calm) before deep breathing and calm center exercises. Afterwards, 14 were blue (relaxed), 2 green (calm) 1 black (tense), indicating an overall classroom hand temp. warm-up with increased calm self-control.
5 yr. Old kindergarten student: “I always get mad when my mom wakes me up in the morning and I am tired so I hit her. After you taught us the CALM SONG and belly button breathing, I stopped hitting her. When she wakes me up and I am tired, I take deep breaths and sometimes I sing the CALM SONG.”
5 yr. Old: “My little brother took my shells and wouldn’t give them back. I calmed myself with deep breaths. He still didn’t give them back and then he started hitting me. I took more deep breaths and sang the CALM SONG instead of fighting him. Then he stopped hitting me but he still didn’t give the shells back.”
M.D. Preschool teacher:” I have to tell you also that we had none other than a miracle with that beading activity. The student is wild. Simply stated, he lacks self-control, particularly in regards to impulsivity and his hands are ever-busy! His behaviors lack focus in a hyperactive manner. He is on an IFSP and has specialists work with him on several goals, in particular fine-motor skills. He gave up on the activity THREE TIMES, destroying the work he had already done. He scooted his chair back from the table, discouraged, and in defeat. However, he didn’t give up. This is highly out of character for him. It is typically very difficult for him to attend and stay with difficult tasks. That boy eventually decided to complete his entire beadwork design, and did so, WITHOUT the help of any teacher, as we were all busy helping other kiddos. Janai, we were blown away! We could not believe it. He was so proud. Note: We practiced self-calming before the activity and sang the CALM SONG. © Janai Mestrovich, BS / MS, Family and Child Development Ashland, OR
Mom of troubled child: “My son is handling his anger much better since he learned ways to be able to get those feelings out healthily and know that it’s okay to do that. He is not hurting others like he was.” Mom of 2 ½ year old: “As we were getting ready to leave the house, Reese put on cowgirl boots that are 3 sizes too big, so I asked her to change (which she wasn’t happy about), then she came back with rubber boots on. Since the rubber boots weren’t appropriate for where we were going, I asked her to change again. Increasingly frustrated, she says “I’m going to take a deep a breath”, then goes to her room to change again. It was so cute, and I’m happy to know she picks up on your teaching. Also, she’s been singing the calming song today!”
Cheryl Markiewicz, teacher : “Grandma Boom – Thank you for being such a beacon of light and support to my class. The lessons you have taught will be guiding them in life. We adore you!!”