Please take a moment to be inspired! Click on the above link to watch a video at http://www.mindful.org
“My Happy” began as a place for me to organize helpful information that has become an important part of my life. My experiences have led me to appreciate all that brings positivity my way. I strive to share the things that have made a significant difference to me and my family. This post will explain my (always evolving) positive strategies I use with my family. You may see other strategies I have posted previously on the Parent/Caregivers Page.
Strategies may change as my children get older, I learn new information, or if the strategies stop working. There are various ways to help support children. I began as a teacher, searching for the best behavior management practices for my class. As a parent, I continued to learn as many different approaches that I could. The important realizations for me were: being mindful, keeping a balance, practicing, and being flexible. Not one approach works best, it is using a mix of them that really makes the difference. Also, knowing when to be flexible by changing or dropping something that isn’t working. Here is what is in my “mix”!
Mindful to create a positive, caring, loving and supportive environment:
Lots of hugs, kisses, and a growth mindset….. goes without saying 😉
Family Mission Statement was my latest way to give our family an idea of what is expected and appreciated in our family. I decided to do this after learning more about Emotional Intelligence. It is similar to the “family rules” I have previously posted; however it is more about what we want to focus on daily. Together, we discussed what mission statements are and then decided what we wanted it to look like. Our family decided on the following:
Family Mission Statement
- Look for “happy” (positives)
- Kind and caring
- Be a helper
- Have “everyday bravery”
- Be thankful
- Be a problem solver
- Try your best
“Happy, Healthy, Strong”
We read it out loud once a day and display it where everyone can see it. I used a bullet format to make it easier for my children to understand. Older children could decide whether they want it to read like an actual statement. We also ended it with what has turned into our family “cheer”, happy, healthy, strong. This began as an affirmation I wanted to share with my children and they like saying it so much, we use it all the time.
“Everyday Bravery” was taken from the work of Rachel Simmons. Rachel Simmons explains that it is not just heroes in movies who are brave, we are brave every day. Children may see being brave as: going to school and rising to challenges there, beginning a new anything, maybe even trying a new food. knowing they can tackle these smaller challenges will help them to become braver and braver, more able to tackle whatever new challenges come their way.
I have used reward charts, stickers, homework passes, lunch with teacher, and more. I find this works well to recognize good behavior or to motivate learning something new, such as potty training. Rewarding in this way is effective for a specific period of time. Another example would be earning stickers for 7 days in a row to receive the privilege of picking the movie for movie night. These rewards also worked well with students because it was only be for one school year. When you are a parent or caregiver, these positive reinforcements do not always stay effective. Reward charts are available free online. Instead of stickers, kids can color the squares in.
Instead of punishing by taking away a toy or activity, we remind the kids that they earn their privileges by being a cooperative part of the family. Paying attention to the family mission statement (or rules), doing chores, homework, and being responsible. We usually say that they are earning their privileges for the next day.
I give my children choices when I can. They have learned that they can’t always have a choice. It helps them to be more flexible.
We keep a monthly calendar to help the kids see the “big picture”. This helps our family stay on track as far as our weekly activities and it is a great way to help each member of the family see that everyone is getting choice time. My older son was constantly saying our weekend activities revolved around what his younger siblings wanted to do, not what he wanted to do. Having a calendar with weekend plans helped him to see the “big picture” and that he was getting his choice, too. We also color code the kids’ choices to make it easy for them to see their “picks”.
This has helped my older son keep track of all his responsibilities. I found a white board at Target that has the chart on it. My son filled in the chores, which he liked. He also likes checking things off when he’s done with each chore. He feels proud to see all those checks at the end of the week. (This is also how he earns his allowance.)
“Happy, Healthy, Strong” I sometimes request this at some point during the day. We have been saying it for so long my children usually bring it up before me, now.
“Safe, Cooperative, Kind, and Friendly” I began this when my younger children were 2 and 1/2 years old. I would ask them to say it before we got out of the car. It helped them to stay safe when we were out and about. Now, it reminds them that these expectations are always important wherever we are going.
We practice this daily to calm or focus. After practicing this daily, it has become more natural for them to do. I knew this was working when my children began reminding me to take a deep breath when they saw I needed to. 🙂 Which usually makes me laugh, leading me to my next strategy.
Whenever possible! Silly dances, mistakes on purpose, jokes….
(This is not to say my family and I are doing all of the above perfectly, but we are making good efforts! )
What’s in your “mix”?
I would love to hear from you! Please leave me a comment or e-mail me.
This video, 5 Keys to Social-Emotional Learning Success, was shared from Edutopia’s YouTube channel. I thought this video would be helpful in understanding SEL.
Social-emotional learning (SEL) is happening in the U.S., China, the UK, and Singapore! Some of my friends get excited about new technology, some get excited about new fashion trends, others get excited about the latest music…I get excited about social-emotional learning!!!
Validated by research, social-emotional learning is shown to enhance academic success as it actually reduces stress levels in that pursuit. It prevents negative behaviors and gives students the “soft skills” they will need to flourish in today’s work environments. It also promotes positive relationships and attitudes about school, and in general.
Studies with toddlers show that we really are “born to be good”. In his book Born to Be Good, UC Berkeley professor (and Greater Good Science Center Director) Dacher Keltner discusses our natural tendency to be good. Keltner makes the case based on research in psychology, sociology, and neuroscience that we are also wired for good. More specifically, he looks at the science of emotions and how positive emotions such as compassion and awe are contagious—and help to bring out the good not only in ourselves, but in others as well. (Taken from: Social-Emotional Learning: Why Now? by: Vicki Zakrzewski Ph.D.)
SEL cultivates our self-awareness. Focusing on understanding our emotions, positive and negative, to help us navigate the classroom, workplace, our relationships and the decisions we make in life.
Again (if you are a regular here at “My Happy”), positive emotions such as gratitude, tranquility, love and joy expand our hearts and minds which helps us to share and connect with the people in our lives and increase our learning potential. Also, as I have previously mentioned, there are times everyone experiences negative emotions and difficult experiences, however, our children will be better equipped to handle those times with this kind of learning.
I have created an SEL page where I have taken information from various sources to explain what SEL is and why it should be a priority in our homes, schools and communities. I also included websites where you can find more information. Take a look at the Social and Emotional Learning Page to learn more about it.
I would love to hear about what you think! You can write a comment or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My family and I practice our EI skills regularly. This is something I encourage you to take time for. Please be sure to do a “self-check” before your try to teach it to your kids or the people in your life. Expecting your children to learn and use these skills only works if you “Lead By Example”. We are role models to everyone around us. Trying to improve and strengthen your emotional intelligence will help your children or the people you are closest to. The following is practical information to begin learning and strengthening your Emotional Intelligence.
“Emotional Intelligence is the set of abilities that helps us get along in life with other people in all kinds of situations.” ~Maurice H. Elias, Ph.D. Rutgers University
Emotional intelligence is a wide range of skills that children (and adults) can develop and improve. Developing and improving these skills are critical for emotional well-being and life success.
The following are social and emotional skills to focus on:
- happiness and optimism
- self-regard (self-compassion)
- emotional self-awareness
- social responsibility
- interpersonal relationship
- problem solving
- stress tolerance
- impulse control
- conflict resolution
Please note, happiness and optimism are at the top of this list. It is my opinion that they should be. If we focus on happiness and optimism we will be strengthening many of the other skills on this list. “My Happy” is full of ideas to strengthen your happiness and optimism. Many of my posts discuss self-awareness. We need to be aware of our thoughts and realize we can control them and choose to be positive. Using positive thinking can improve other skills. Take flexibility for instance. I realized that I have difficulty with this at times. In fact, I can really get annoyed when plans change at the last-minute. My initial reaction was to become upset and react negatively (grumpiness, I know, hard to believe..ha ha). After realizing I did this, I had more control over it. Now when something happens that forces me to be flexible (when I don’t want to) I still may initially react negatively, but I can usually catch myself and change my attitude. 🙂 My improvement happened as a result of practicing positive thinking which contributed to my being a more flexible thinker.
Learning and improving these skills is important for everyone. Not only does it improve your social and emotional well-being, it leads to a more successful life. This is a topic that I have wanted to share with others, especially caregivers because I know the value of these skills for children. Not only does it help children do well socially and emotionally, it increases learning potential.
As I continued my research in this area, I found CASEL. The Collaborative for Social and Emotional Learning, based at the University of Illinois at Chicago, seeks to enhance children’s success in school and life by promoting evidence-based social, emotional, and academic learning as an essential part of education from preschool through high school. I am looking forward to someday having SEL in schools world-wide. Website: http://www.casel.org or check them out in my twitter feed!
Books to read:
more to come…..