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8 Ways to Boost Our Kids’ Social-Emotional Skills

Last updated on July 30th, 2018 at 02:26 pm

Teaching children social-emotional skills is one of the greatest gifts you can give them. After all, few skills increase their confidence, social competence, empathy, resilience, and self-esteem more because kids need them in every area of their lives. So what’s the problem? It’s this: today’s teens would rather text than talk. Girls spend (on average) more time on social networking than boys and send more texts – about 100 a day.

Common Sense Media surveys also show that the average eight-to 17 year old is plugged into some kind of digital device at least 7 and a half hours a day. And you don’t learn social-emotional skills by facing screens.

The single predictor of healthy emotional interactions is lots of face to face communication. [Clifford Nass] Kids who spend more time interacting via a screen than in person do not get sufficient practice in observing and experiencing true emotions and developing crucial offline skills of social and emotional intelligence. What’s more, face to face communication is the best way to help our children develop empathy. Without those skills our kids are less equipped to successfully navigate their social world. Do make sure you are striking the balance of unplugged vs. plugged in times in your home. Ensure that you have sacred, unplugged family times so you can all enjoy one another in REAL time!

We also know that many kids have difficulty reading emotions. Duke and UCLA are just two of the many universities researching ways to help children diagnosed with communication handicaps.

The good news is that you can improve your child’s communication skills and boost his or her emotional intelligence. Here are eight simple ways to tune up our kids’ social emotional intelligence so they learn to communicate face to face and reap the joy of real (not virtual) relationships.

1. Listen more attentively

Attentive listening keeps the lines of communication open so that your children always feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, feelings and experiences with you. You discourage your kids from expressing themselves when you cut them off, deny their feelings, lecture, order them, roll your eyes, shrug your shoulders, raise your eyebrows, frown, turn away, or shake your head. (Woah, eh? Not to send you a guilt trip but… do tune into your communication skills a bit closer, and beware of how influential you are).

2. Help your children send and receive nonverbal messages

Sending and receiving nonverbal messages through body language enhances your child’s social and emotional competence. Often kids don’t listen to your words as much as they watch your posture, gestures, and facial expression, and hear the tone of your voice. Help children understand that their body posture, facial expression, and voice tone send messages and that if they don’t interpret or send nonverbal messages correctly, serious misunderstandings occur.

3. Teach two critical skills-eyes contact and smiling

Using the skills of eye contact and smiling increases children’s social success. As you talk with your child, use eye contact. Whenever your child displays a great smile, point it out! By reinforcing these skills and modeling them regularly, your child will soon be smiling more and using eye contact.

Hint: Eye contact (or looking at the person) and smiles are the two skills that are also the most commonly used traits of well-liked kids. They are also easy to teach and reinforce. Point them out in others!

4. Make an emotion scrapbook

Collect pictures of facial expression in a scrapbook. Include the six basic emotions: happy, sad, angry, surprised, afraid, and disgusted. Now make a game of naming the emotions by asking, “How is this person feeling?” Help your child predict the body language and voice tone that would accompany each expression.

5. Guess people’s emotions

With your child, watch other people’s faces and body language at the playgound, park, or shopping mall. Try together to guess their emotional states.

The best way to teach social skills is by SHOWING a child what each skill looks like in real context. So SHOW the skill, don’t just TELL your child about it. Do also help your child understand the value or benefit of learning the skill. (“It will help you get a job.” “It helps you make more friends.” “Teachers like it when you look at them as you talk.” “People like to be around others who make them feel valued.”)

6. Watch silent movies

Turn off the sound on your TV and watch a show together. Guess how the actors feel based on what you see. Don’t assume that your child is picking up the subtle clues of body language. Point them out. Role play them together.

Tension behaviors to watch for include blinking eyes rapidly, biting nails, twirling hair, clenching jaws, and grinding teeth. Withdrawal behavior include folded arms, crossed legs, rolling eyes, and not facing the speaker. Expressions of interest include nodding, smiling, leaning into the speaker and standing or sitting close to the person.

7. Play emotion charades

A fun game is to have family members play charades using only their face and body. Try to guess the person’s emotion.

8. Observe good listening behaviors

Be on the alert for people demonstrating good listening habits; point them out to your child. The better your child understands what good nonverbal listening behaviors look like, the greater the chance he will use them on his own.

Learning these skills takes practice. At home, provide opportunities for your child to practice a wide range of communication skills, enabling her to get her point across more confidently in the real world. Just remember: it’s never too early–or too late–to enhance communication skills nor social-emotional competencies. The key is make sure face-to-face interactions become part of our daily lives.

Best!

Michele

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UnSelfie 140x210Teens today are 40 percent less empathetic than they were thirty years ago. Why is a lack of empathy—along with the self-absorption epidemic Dr. Michele Borba calls the Selfie Syndrome—so dangerous? First, it hurts kids’ academic performance and leads to bullying behaviors. Also, it correlates with more cheating and less resilience. And once children grow up, it hampers their ability to collaborate, innovate and problem-solve—all must-have skills for the global economy. The good news? Empathy is a trait that can be taught and nurtured.  UnSelfie is a blueprint for parents and educators who want activate our children’s hearts and shift their focus from I, me, and mine… to we, us, and ours.  It’s time to include “empathy” in our parenting and teaching!  UnSelfie is AVAILABLE NOW at amazon.com.

9 Ways to Help Your Children Cope with Painful Emotions

Last updated on June 22nd, 2018 at 01:48 am

The social-emotional development of our nation’s children is foremost in our minds. We have all hugged our children and expressed gratitude for their health and well-being. We pray for those families who now are hurting so deeply. Some of whom are very close to our own hearts.

When life is difficult or complicated and our children are in a stress-response, we need to co-regulate with them. Our words and actions can help the children “Find Calm”.  What we say, think and do in these intense or painful moment matters.

Co-regulating is about being present and ready to sit with the child in their fear, hurt or pain. Here are 9 ways you can say, “Your feelings matter”.  “Together, we will get through this.”  Feel free to grab these mantras if one rings true for you. Let us share some love and kindness when moments get tough.

  • “We can embrace your BIG feelings. Let’s breathe through them together”
  • “Let’s move through your BIG feelings together
  • “Your feelings truly matter to me”
  • Let’s choose how many minutes you will be in these BIG feelings.”
  • “You have the power to feel deeply and still be balanced and calm.”
  • “Help me better understand how you feel.”
  • “Let’s Be Calm Together.”
  • “I am right here with you.  We will work through this together.”
  • “We can work through these intense feelings together.”

 

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bloom cover - 140x208Written for real parents with anxious, angry and over-the-top kids, Bloom is a brain-based approach to parenting all children. Taking its lead from neuroscience and best practices in early childhood mental health, it offers parents, teachers and care providers the words, thoughts and actions to raise calm, confident children, while reducing the need for consequences and punishment. The first book of its kind, it provides pages full of printable mantras you can carry with you, hang on your fridge or use in your classroom to raise emotionally competent kids. Stop second-guessing the way you handle misbehaviors, and learn why they occur in the first place. Bloom is available at amazon.com

 

 

How to Teach Your Kids Empathy-Building Skills

Last updated on July 15th, 2018 at 11:53 am

Empathy is the critical ability that puts us in other people’s shoes and helps us feel with them. Research finds that this immensely human trait can be cultivated. That means we can teach empathy to kids just like reading, math, and writing because it is made up of social-emotional skills that can be developed.

But in today’s test-driven, digital-driven, competitive culture, cultivating kids’ empathy is low on our priority lists. It’s a big reason American’s teens empathy dipped 40 percent in just 30 years! In fact, almost 75 percent of today’s students rate themselves as less empathetic than their average counterpart three decades ago.

It’s time we recognize that empathy is anything but soft and fluffy, but  crucial for our children’s success, happiness, and character, as well as key to helping them become contributing members of a global world.

So how do we weave in empathy-building into our packed days? That’s what I spent ten years researching as I wrote UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World. In the process I found dozens of simple cost-effective strategies like the one that follows. I also recognized that our best hope for children to develop habits of empathy is for educators and parents to work together in their empathy-building efforts. What follows is one of the effective ways I’ve observed. Not only does it match the research but also is most likely to help kids actually develop the skill so they can use it without us!

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Shipley is a private school with a stellar academic reputation, but it also embraces social and emotional learning to prepare students for life. I observed Shipley’s monthly “Parent Drop-In Day,” where Lucy McDermott’s second graders schooled their moms and dads in a crucial empathy-builder called, “I Messages.” I realized that how her students were learning the core social-emotional skill is exactly how parents and educators should teach any empathy-builder to kids.

An “I Message” (or “I Statement”) is a sentence frame to assert the feelings, beliefs, values, or concerns of the person speaking. The message generally begins with the word, “I,” (contrasted with starting with “you,”) and can be a valuable interpersonal communication tool to help children share their concerns, views, or feelings to another in a respectful way.

The strategy also reduces conflicts and restores relationships so “I Messages” can be a technique to keep empathy open and reduce the notorious Empathy Gap. The sentence frame has been used for years, but too often students must be prompted by an adult to use it. Ms. McDermott was teaching the skill so her students were more likely to transfer and use it outside the classroom..

Empathy-building skills must be developed and practiced repeatedly before children can “live them.”

McDermott’s parent program began with eight-year old Sammy introducing the empathy skill to parents.

“We use ‘I Messages’ to help us share our feelings with words such as: angry, sad, hurt, uncomfortable and frustrated,” he explained.

Then Josh explained the benefits: “‘I Messages’ help us to solve disagreements and conflicts. They help us communicate, and allow us to really listen to each other.” And he held up a chart showing the formula:

“To give an ‘I Message’ start by saying: ‘I feel…when you…because… and I need you to…”

“To receive an ‘I Message’ respond by saying: ‘You feel…when I…because… I will…’”

Next, students showed parents how to use “I Messages” by role-playing different scenarios. This was the powerful piece. Research substantiates that children learn skills best by showing-not telling-them what it looks like. These students were showing the empathy skill to their parents. Brilliant!

Then came the grand finale: Moms and Dads practiced the skill in child-led “tutoring sessions.” And interactions were priceless. One was plain unforgettable:

“Dad, I’m frustrated when you use your cell when I’m talking, because I feel you care more about your phone than me,” one boy told his dad. “I want you to put your phone away when I talk to you, please.”

From the Dad’’s pained look you knew his son’s words hit home. And then it was the Dad’s turn to use the “I Message.”

“Josh, you’re frustrated because you think I care more about my phone when you talk to me,” he answered. “You want me to put my phone away when you talk.” And then added, “Thanks for telling me, I promise to work on that.” His son smiled broadly: Dad was really “getting it.”

Lucy McDermott was teaching her students empathy-building skills using four steps that are crucial to mastery.

  • First, students named and described the empathy-building skill.
  • Second, they explained the benefits: “’I Messages’ help us to solve disagreements and conflicts, communicate, and really listen to each other.”
  • Third, students demonstrated “I-Messages” through role-playing and practiced.
  • Fourth, students taught the skill to someone else (in this case, their parents).

Those four steps are also the optimum way to teach any new social-emotional skill or empathy-building habit to a child.

Tips to Engage Parents in Empathy Building

Lucy McDermott found an ingenious way to help her students teach their parents a critical empathy-building skill. But what about parents who weren’t at her event? And what other ways can educators help parents learn skills to expand their children’s empathy? Try these tips:

  1. Make a video of an event like McDermott’s and share it with parents at your back to school night, parent conference or to new students.
  2. Have students make a video showing how to use the skill and send it home for them to share with their family on flash-drives.
  3. Put your video on a television monitor and show it on a screen in your school hallway like a PSA announcement so everyone entering your building sees the skill.
  4. Create a worksheet or poster of the skill, and send it home as “homework.” Each child teaches the empathy-builder to their parents who sign a form substantiating the parent-child practice.
  5. Turn the worksheet of the empathy-skill into a small magnet for parents to put on their refrigerators as an ongoing reminder.

Finding simple ways to educate parents about social-emotional skills improves the likelihood that students will use them both inside and outside the classroom. You can use the four steps to teach your child any empathy building skill in UnSelfie (and there are dozens). Just choose one skill a month (or as long as it takes), and keep reviewing, modeling, reinforcing and practicing it until the child can use it alone. Transfer!

4 Steps To Learn An Empathy-Building Skill

Step 1: Explain

Tell the child why the empathy skill matters, and how it will boost success. “Mindful breathing helps you stay calm.”

Step 2: Show

Kids learn skills best by showing what they look like, not lecturing or telling them. (Can you imagine a football coach telling his quarterback, “Go throw the football.”? Of course not!  Effective coaches show how to throw the ball, and then correct players when wrong). Teach empathy skills like a coach.

Step 3: Practice

Learning a new skill usually takes around 21 days of repetition, so choose one new empathy skill each month and practice it together a few minutes a day. Mastering a skill takes lots of practice opportunities. You might role-play the skill together, practice with family members, have the child teach a younger sibling or show Grandma via Skype. Do acknowledge your child’s empathy-building efforts.

Step 4: Use 

Continue providing practice opportunities until the child can use the skill without reminders, reinforcement or coaxing. Even better, make empathy skill-building a family affair, and practice together until the skill becomes automatic and your child can use it alone.

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UnSelfie 140x210Teens today are 40 percent less empathetic than they were thirty years ago. Why is a lack of empathy—along with the self-absorption epidemic Dr. Michele Borba calls the Selfie Syndrome—so dangerous? First, it hurts kids’ academic performance and leads to bullying behaviors. Also, it correlates with more cheating and less resilience. And once children grow up, it hampers their ability to collaborate, innovate and problem-solve—all must-have skills for the global economy. The good news? Empathy is a trait that can be taught and nurtured.  UnSelfie is a blueprint for parents and educators who want activate our children’s hearts and shift their focus from I, me, and mine… to we, us, and ours.  It’s time to include “empathy” in our parenting and teaching!  UnSelfie is AVAILABLE NOW at amazon.com.

How to Teach Kids to Be Active Bystanders to Reduce Bullying

Last updated on May 27th, 2018 at 09:14 pm

Studies show that active bystanders can do far more than just watch. In fact, student bystanders may be our last, best hope in reducing bullying. Active student bystanders can:

  • Reduce the audience that a bully craves
  • Mobilize the compassion of witnesses to step in and stop the bullying
  • Support the victim and reduce the trauma
  • Be a positive influence in curbing a bullying episode
  • Encourage other students to support a school climate of caring
  • Report a bullying incident since 85 percent of time bullying occurs an adult is not present. Students are usually the witnesses

When bystanders intervene correctly, studies find they can stop the bullying more than half the time and within 10 seconds. [Pepler and Craig]

There are parameters to activate student bystanders, so get educated! Here are a few facts to ensure success:

  • To ensure success you must first mobilize students to be active bystanders.
  • You must give students permission to step in.
  • You must also teach specific strategies so they can step in.
  • Each strategy must be rehearsed or role-played, until kids can use it alone. (I’ve had schools have students role-play these in assemblies, make them into chart-reminders that are posted around the school, and even have students create mini-videos of each strategy to share with peers).
  • Not every strategy will work for every student, so you must provide a range of strategies.
  • Ideally you must enlist your peer leaders – those students on the highest popularity tier who other students look up to – to mobilize other peers.
  • Adults must be onboard with the approach and understand what bullying is and how to respond. Adults must listen to student reports on bullying and back students up. The biggest reason kids say they don’t report: “The adult didn’t listen or do anything to help.” Step up adults!

The best news is that child advocates and parents can teach kids these same bystander skills. Doing so empowers children with tools to stop cruelty, help victims feel safer and reduce bullying. Here are the three steps:

 STEP ONE: Teach Students Tattling vs. Reporting

Kids must realize that safety is always the primary goal, so stress to students:

  • “If someone could get hurt, REPORT!
  • “It’s always better to be safe than sorry.”

Teach students the crucial difference between “Tattling” and “Reporting” so they will know when they should step in because a child is bullied or when to step back and let two kids handle things for themselves because it’s just friendly teasing. Also identify specific trusted adults children can go to and report bullying incidents if they do identify bullying. Here is the crucial difference:

  • Tattling is when you trying to get kids IN trouble when they aren’t hurting themselves or other.
  • Reporting is when you’re trying to help keep kids OUT of trouble because they may get hurt (or they are). Report bullying to an adult you trust. If the adult doesn’t listen, keep reporting until you find an adult who does listen.

STEP TWO: Teach What Bullying Looks and Sounds Like

The next step is to teach students what bullying behaviors look like so they will know when they should step in and not when the behavior is mere teasing.

1. Explain 3 parts of bullying:

  1. Bullying is a cruel or aggressive act that is done on purpose. The bully has more power (strength, status, or size) than the targeted child who cannot hold his own.
  2. The hurtful bullying behavior is not an accident, but done on purpose.
  3. The bully usually seems to enjoy seeing the victim in distress and rarely accepts responsibility and often says the target “deserved” the hurtful treatment.”

2. Teach: “Five Bullying Types”:  Depending on the child’s age, bullying can take on difference forms including and children need to know what those forms. Bullying can be:

  1. Physical: Punching, hitting, slamming, socking, spitting, slapping;
  2. Verbal: Saying put downs, nasty statements, name calling, taunting, racial slurs, or hurtful comments, threatening;
  3. Emotional: Shunning, excluding, spreading rumors or mean gossip, ruining your reputation;
  4. Electronic or cyber-bullying: Using the Internet, cell phone, camera, text messaging, photos to say mean or embarrassing things;
  5. SexualSaying or doingthings that are lewd or disrespectful in a sexual way

3. Mobilize Student Compassion Students could make posters, power-point presentations, skits, or projects about bullying. The key is for students to understand the real definition of bullying. And they must know that the staff is serious about supporting them and will back them up and respond. 

4. Use Literature or Videos: You might also use literature or video clips to help students understand the definition of bullying. Here are a few literature favorites: Confessions of a Former Bully by Trudy Ludwig; Say Something by Peggy Moss Gardiner;  Teammates by Peter Golenbock; The Bully Blockers Club, by Teresa Bateman.

STEP THREE: Teach “Bully BUSTER Bystander” Skills

I teach the acronym BUSTER as a mnemonic to help kids remember the skills more easilyEach letter in the word represents one of the six bystander skills.

Borba’s Six “Be a Bully B.U.S.T.E.R.” Skills 

Not all strategies work for all kids. The trick is to match the techniques with what works best with the child’s temperament and comfort level and the particular situation

Don’t forget to ask students for their input and additional ideas. Their creativity never ceases to amaze me!

1. -Befriend the Victim

Bystanders often don’t intervene because they don’t want to make things worse or assume the victim doesn’t want help. But research shows that if witnesses know a victim feels upset or wants help they are more likely to step in. Also, if a bystander befriends a victim, the act is more likely to get others to join the cause and stand up to the bully. A few ways bystanders can befriend victims:

  • Show comfort: Stand closer to the victim.
  • Wave other peers over“Come help!”
  • Ask if the victim wants support: “Do you need help?”
  • Empathize: “I bet he feels sad.”
  • Clarify feelings: “She looks upset.”

You can also encourage students to befriend a bullied after the episode. “That must have felt so bad.” “I’m with you. Sorry I didn’t speak out.” “That happened to me, too.” “Do you want me to help you find a teacher to talk to?” Though after the episode won’t reduce the bullying at the moment, it will help reduce the pain of both the targeted child and the witness. It may also help other children recognize there are safe ways to defend and support a targeted child.

2. -Use a Distraction

The right diversion can draw peers from the scene, make them focus elsewhere, give the target a chance to get away, and may get the bully to move on. Remember, a bully wants an audience, so bystanders can reduce it with a distraction.

One of the best distractions I’ve ever seen was a teen who saw bullying but did not feel safe stepping in to help (and most children as well as adults do not). So he got crafty. He unzipped his backpack and then walked nearby the scene and threw the backpack to the ground. Of course, he made it appear as though it was an accident, but it was a deliberate and brilliant act. “Oh no,” he said. “All my stuff is on the ground and the bell is going to ring. My grade will get dinged. Can anyone help?” And the teen drew the audience from the bully to help him pick up his papers. The target also had a chance to sneak to safety.

Ploys include:

  • Ask a question: “What are you all doing here?”
  • Use diversion: “There’s a great volleyball game going on! Come on!”
  • Make up false excuse to disperse a crowd: “A teacher is coming!”
  • Feigning interruption: “I can’t find my bus.”

3. S -Speak Out and Stand Up!

Speaking out can get others to lend a hand and join you. You must stay cool, and never boo, clap, laugh, or insult, which could egg the bully on even more. Students also must learn how to assert themselves and say that speaking up to a bully is the hardest of the six Bully Buster Strategies. The students in the photo are learning my “CALM Approach” when speaking up to a bully. Best yet, older students are teaching the skill to younger students. Stress that directly confronting a bully is intimidating and it’s a rare kid who can, but there are ways to still stand up to cruelty. Here are a few possibilities:

  • Show disapproval: Give a cold, silent stare.
  • Name it: “That’s bullying!”
  • Label it: “That’s mean!”
  • State disapproval: “This isn’t cool!” “Don’t do that!” “Cut it out!”
  • Ask for support: “Are you with me?”

4. T -Tell or Text For Help

Bystanders often don’t report bullying for fear of retaliation, so make sure they know which adults will support them, and ensure confidentiality. You must give students the option of anonymous reporting. An active bystander could:

  • Find an adult you trust to tell. Keep going until you find someone who believes you
  • Call for help from your cell.
  • Send a text to someone who can get help. Many schools now have a text service.
  • Call 911 if someone could be injured.

5. E -Exit Alone or With Others

Stress that bullies love audiences. Bystanders can drain a bully’s power by reducing the group size a few ways. Students bystanders could:

  • Encourage: “You coming?”
  • Ask: “What are you all doing here?”
  • Direct: “Let’s go!”
  • Suggest: “Let’s leave.”
  • Exit: If you can’t get others to leave with you, then walk away. If you stay, you’re part of the cruelty. Leaving means you refuse to be part. Just quietly leave the scene.

6. R -Give a Reason or Offer a Remedy

Research finds that bystanders are more likely to help when told why the action is wrong or what to do. Students could:

  • Review why it’s wrong: “This isn’t right!” “This is mean!” “You’ll get suspended.” “You’ll hurt him.”
  • Offer a remedy: “Go get help!” “Let’s work this out with Coach.”

Final Thoughts 

The right comments and behaviors can make peers stop, think, consider the consequences, and even move on. Those seconds are crucial and enough to stop the bullying or mobilize other students to step in and help.

Bystanders can make a difference. They can be mobilized to step in and reduce bullying-that is if they are taught how.

But it’s up to adults to show students safe ways to do so, help them practice those strategies so they are comfortable using them in the real world, and then support and believe them and acknowledge their courageous efforts.

Hundreds of students today skipped school because of peer intimidation and bullying. It’s time to rethink our strategies and teach bystanders how to step in safely and speak out against peer cruelty.

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Bullying-prevention and character expert Michele Borba, Ed.D. has spent the past three decades studying youth violence and bullying and worked with more than a million students, parents, educators, and law enforcement officials worldwide. The result is End Peer Cruelty, Build Empathy: The Proven 6Rs of Bullying Prevention That Create Inclusive, Safe and Caring Schools. Based on the 6Rs: Rules, Recognize, Report, Respond, Refuse, and Replace, the book utilizes the strongest pieces of best practices and current research for ways to reduce cruelty and increase positive behavior support. Also included are guidelines for implementing strategies, nurturing empathy and caring relationships, collecting data, training staff, mobilizing students and parents, building social-emotional skills, and sustaining progress. The result is a proven framework that will reduce bullying, create safer more inclusive schools and produce more kind-hearted, empathetic children. End Peer Cruelty, Build Empathy was released February 19th and is now available at amazon.com

How to Improve Your Child’s Thinking Skills Using Their Imagination

Last updated on April 11th, 2018 at 11:46 am

 Thinking, speaking or acting impulsively without planning or thinking things out poses social challenges for children.

We can help children better manage their impulsive thoughts, words, and actions by using a storytelling activity we call The Thought Bubble Technique. In this visual conversation activity, we help children think, write, draw, and talk about what characters in a story might be thinking, feeling, saying or doing. The Thought Bubble Technique encourages children to use their imaginations while building their thinking skills.

Here is how you do it.

Open a book with vivid imagery such as a Dr. Seuss book. Let your child or student turn the pages until he discovers a page he finds interesting. Tell your child, “We’re going to use our imaginations. We’re going to imagine a thought bubble is over the head of each of the characters on the page. Then we’re going to imagine what they might be thinking.”

By looking at the images on the page ask your child to make up a story about what’s happening on the page. What are the characters thinking? What are the characters saying? What are the characters doing? How are the characters feeling?

Help the child “THINK OUT” how is the thought, feeling or action helpful or not helpful? How might the other characters respond? How can the characters shift their thoughts, words, feeling or actions so that each story has a happier ending?

The key is to use the creative exploration of images to help the child thoughtfully reflect on how words, thoughts, feelings, and actions are prosocial, facilitating relationships or challenging causing others to feel uncomfortable, unhappy or withdrawn.

Use your own creative license, adapt the “Cognitive Conversation” with the child to help him or her see things in a new way. Thoughtful exploration leads to the mindful development of new thinking skills.

Download Your Copy of the Thought Bubble Technique here.

 

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Written for teachers, educators, and clinicians whose work involves playing, talking or teaching children who would benefit from better executive function and social-emotional learning skills, 70 Play Activities incorporates over 100 research studies into printable worksheets, handouts, and guided scripts with step-by-step directions, to empower children to learn and behave better. “With 70 Play Activities we aim to improve the trajectory of children’s learning by integrating the newest neuroscience with activities children love!” With over 70 activities designed to improve thinking, self-regulation, learning and behavior, your tool-kit will be full and your creative brain will be inspired to craft your own meaningful exercises. 70 Play Activities is available at amazon.com

 

9 Ways to Cultivate Courage in Your Kids to Find Their Inner Hero

Last updated on April 20th, 2018 at 08:34 am

How to cultivate courage for our bubble-wrapped kids so they find strength to face adversity and do the right thing.

Empathy Habit #8: MORAL COURAGE: Empathy is the miraculous quality that allows us to feel with others, but in order to act on those feelings kids need Moral Courage. Courage emboldens kids to speak out, step in, and help others and it is the eighth out of the Nine Crucial Empathy Building Habits in UnSelfie. We can cultivate courage. So let’s roll up our sleeves and get started. This is a Brave New World and children will need the skills and know-how to find that inner bravery to do the right thing. To read more about how this habit gives children the Empathy Advantage and how to cultivate it in children, refer to Chapter 8: Moral Courage in UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About Me World.

My favorite movie about courage is, “We Bought a Zoo.” One scene is especially powerful: The teen son admits to his dad that he’s crazy about a girl, but unless he musters the courage to tell her that, their relationship is over. His dad’s advice is priceless: “You know, sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage – just literally 20 seconds of just embarrassing bravery – and I promise you that something great will come of it.”

The truth is that sometimes kids need gentle nudges to step out of their comfort zone and discover their inner strength. Our job is to help our children find their 20 seconds of safe courage, so they can do the right thing when their conscience or heart urge them to step in and help.

Why is it important for kids to be courageous? A bold child is more likely to withstand negative peer pressure, say “no” to temptations that run counter to your family’s values, and fight the good fight.

Courage also has surprise benefits: It boosts kids’ resilience, confidence, willpower, and mental health as well as their learning, performance, and school engagement.

The good news is that courage can be taught.We often make the mistake of thinking of courage as an elusive quality  that is locked into our DNA. But my research shows that bravery is made up of teachable skills.

Teaching those skills to our kids – regardless of GPA, gender or temperament (introverts or extroverts) – is how we can help our children learn the skills of courage. And that’s how we raise a generation of caring, courageous children who think WE, not ME.

9 Ways to Cultivate Courage and Stretch Kids’ Risk-Taking Muscles

Here are nine ways to stretch kids’ risk-taking muscles in our bubble-wrapped world, so they can face adversity and do the right thing:

1. Model courage. Kids who watch their parents stick their necks out to do the right thing are more likely to do the same. Let your child see you step out of your comfort zone, whether it’s tackling your fear of heights or speaking up to your boss. Then express how good it feels when you conquer your fear instead of taking a shortcut. Kids learn how to take on the tough challenges they face from witnessing how you tackle your own fears.

2.Talk about values and courage. Research finds that kids are more likely be courageous if they believe that their parents expect them to support those in need. Discuss bravery with your kids: Tell them, “Courage is making the choice to do what you know is right even if you are afraid.” Some parents develop a family courage mantra like “We find courage to do what’s right, even if it’s hard.” Or you might tell your child, “Our family speaks up and helps others.”

3. Stop bubble-wrapping and rescuing your kids. Always “fixing” children’s problems only makes them more dependent and reduces their ability to bravely seek their own solutions. It also sends a disturbing message: “I’ll help because you can’t do it alone.” If you’re “over-helping,” start building your child’s courage muscles by putting him in the driver’s seat. He – not you – tells his coach he can’t make practice. She apologizes to her pal without your assistance.

4. Encourage your kids to share their acts of bravery. Learning to be brave takes practice, so encourage your children to do something courageous every day, like introducing themselves to someone new, inviting a new classmate to play or standing up for a peer. Then take time to focus on their courageous breakthroughs. One dad I spoke with had his kids list their “brave successes” on paper strips, then stapled the strips together to make “courage chains.” A mom I talked to had her kids to share their brave deeds at dinner time.

5. Dispel the “Superman myth.” Many kids assume they need to look like a superhero to be courageous. Share stories of those who changed the world with their quiet, nonphysical brave acts. Jackie Robinson, the first black player in Major League baseball, was heckled because of his skin color. He showed great bravery by preserving and conducting himself in a professional manner on the field (where he excelled) as well as off it. Mahatma Gandhi – who would go on to be the leader of nonviolent civil disobedience – ran home after school every day as a child because he was too shy to talk to anyone. Rosa Parks, the African American Civil Rights activist who refused to give up her bus seat to white passengers, was described as “soft-spoken … timid and shy.”

6. Read about courageous kids. Share inspiring news and stories about children who stick their necks out for others. A couple of my favorite books for younger kids are Courage by Bernard Waber and “Brave Irene by William Steig. Check out these titles for older kids: “Wringer, by Jerry Spinelli and “Stand Up for Yourself and Your Friends by Patti Kelley Criswell and Angela Martini.

7. Encourage young kids take brave baby stepsInstead of picking her daughter up, a friend of mine helped her 3-year old find courage to cross a small bridge by empowering her. “Be brave, Clara,” she told her daughter. “You can do it.” Clara continued, repeating to herself, “Be brave, Clara!” And she learned something when she crossed the bridge: “I’m brave, Mommy! I’m brave!”

8. Teach kids to prioritize safety. Even as we teach our children to be brave, it’s still important to temper risk-takingCertainly, we want our children to be safe. So tell your child that safety is always the first priority. If someone could get hurt and the risk is too great, teach your kids to always get adult help or call 911 if needed. Encourage children to trust their instincts, when they have concerns that something is unsafe.

9. Teach your kids how to reduce their fears. If not kept in check, fear can be overwhelming. Teach your child simple strategies to be brave. You might encourage positive self-talk, such as saying, “I can handle this” or “I have courage to do this.” Or teach your child to take slow, deep breaths to find courage. Research finds younger children are more likely to share their fears with another child. Though you want them to be open with you, let them know it’s also OK to share their worries with a friend. Choose a fear reducer that works best for your child and then help her practice that until it becomes a habit.

For kids to thrive in today’s uncertain world, they will need courage and confidence. Let’s help them find their hero within and learn to be brave!

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UnSelfie 140x210Teens today are 40 percent less empathetic than they were thirty years ago. Why is a lack of empathy—along with the self-absorption epidemic Dr. Michele Borba calls the Selfie Syndrome—so dangerous? First, it hurts kids’ academic performance and leads to bullying behaviors. Also, it correlates with more cheating and less resilience. And once children grow up, it hampers their ability to collaborate, innovate and problem-solve—all must-have skills for the global economy. The good news? Empathy is a trait that can be taught and nurtured.  UnSelfie is a blueprint for parents and educators who want activate our children’s hearts and shift their focus from I, me, and mine… to we, us, and ours.  It’s time to include “empathy” in our parenting and teaching!  UnSelfie is AVAILABLE NOW at amazon.com.