It’s interesting as I have started using the MindUP curriculum with my students more and more articles about mindfulness and teaching are showing up in my emails. This morning I came across a link to an article entitled Rising Cases of Self-Injury Treated with New Therapy. That new therapy? Mindfulness. This article focuses on mostly high school students who cut, burn or punch themselves. There are schools in New York using a curriculum to teach mindfulness and the article states ther are several more nationwide. They site one school district that is also using the curriculum with their middle and elementary schools. Studies show a significant decrease in frequency of self-harming behaviors.
This article struck me for two reasons, one reason of course is the discussion of teaching mindfulness to students to help with their mental health. The other reason it struck me is that the student I spent over an hour working with through very challenging behavior also self-injures. He will hit his head onto pretty much any surface and sometimes alarmingly hard. When an adult had previously told me of this behavior after dealing with him when he was upset I had told her she shouldn’t react because that was probably what he was looking for. I have worked with students in the past who would have behaviors where they hurt themselves or did typically gross things to get a rise out of adults working with them and when no reaction was given many of those behaviors decreased.
But Thursday when I finally got a chance to work 1:1 with this student I realized I had been wrong about him. Every part of his hour long behavioral struggle was about seeing if I actually cared about him. Sticking it out with him, talking to him, rubbing his head at times when he briefly allowed it, putting my hand between his head and the object he was trying to hit it on and telling him I cared were all things he needed to begin to trust our relationship. It would be amazing to progress through this year working with him around mindfulness and building that relationship and seeing where we go. Unfortunately his behavior may demonstrate that he needs a more restrictive setting which just breaks my heart.