Thank you for your interest in The Butterfly Project. Please note there are "intro for parents" PDF pages in many languages, just go to the language page to find them. We began this project to address stress in children at risk for chronic or persistent stress. This project sprang up originally to help with high risk populations, but quickly was understood to be helpful in other areas of stress, such as hospital stays. We wanted to reach children in many languages, and put the resources online so that teachers, social workers and hospital staff could find it. You, the parents, might be interested to bring these resources to their attention.
Our 'kids and cortisol' project will utilize simple and straightforward visualization images such as butterflies, balloons, and birds, giving children in stressful conditions another internal resource, commonly referred to as Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, to help them cope. Our MBSR practices provide children with the coping skills which, while they cannot address the underlying situation, at least allow children some protection against the psychological and physical effects of acute and chronic stress. In a sense, we are attempting to "inoculate" them against some of the harm that comes from the “fight or flight” chemicals the body releases in such situations.
In addition, we have developed an entire suite of tools based on the Butterfly metaphor, to help with various aspects of psychological issues facing children, including: addressing diversity and being special; addressing change; control an d mastery; and creativity and care. Because the mind and body are connected—and because the mind and body affect each other—it’s important for both emotional and physical health to take the time to calm the mind and rid our bodies of unnecessary stress. Together, our hope is that such strategies will have a positive effect on mental and physical health outcomes, as well as empowerment through successful participation in educational, social, and community networks.
Other Stress Reduction Possibilities
Raising butterflies versus pets for stress reduction
Children who participate sometimes then ask to raise butterflies. Butterfly raising kits can be purchased online, but we caution parents that outcomes vary, and that butterflies are very short-lived. Where pets are an option, animals (rather than insects) have the best stress reducing potential according to the American Pain Foundation, http://www.painfoundation.org/learn/living/treatment-options/complementary-medicine/pet-therapy/, which sites benefits including lower anxiety, decreased depression, and lower blood pressure. While the Mexican Hairless is a standout breed among dogs, even fish and chickens can be beneficial. But consider carefully whether you can keep a pet; having to give up a pet can be a traumatic experience as well.