Please take a moment to be inspired! Click on the above link to watch a video at http://www.mindful.org
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.
Just like adults, children sometimes have stress, anxieties, or get overly excited during the holiday season. Here are a few strategies to help yourself and your child enjoy the holidays and each other:
Be sure to do a self-check. If you are getting nervous, stressed or frustrated trying to “do it all”. It will surely trickle down to your children. Don’t be shy to ask for help! It’s okay to ask for help because it will strengthen your relationships.
Make sure you don’t get overwhelmed by keeping what is truly important in mind, your beliefs in the holiday your family celebrates, your family, and helping or appreciating others as well. It’s a great time of year to show appreciation to others who help your family in some way. Also, it is a time to help other families who may need it during the holidays.
Make lists and keep a journal. Making lists of items you need to buy or things you need to get accomplished. Be sure to write down a day you would like these tasks to be done. I also started to keep a journal of holiday giving to help me remember from year to year what we have given.
It’s also a good time of year to give to charities, food pantries, and shelters. Schools and stores usually have toy or gift drives. Wal-Mart, for example, has a giving tree with gift requests on it. You can select a tag off the tree, buy the request, and then give it to the customer service staff member. This is a good thing to do with your children so that they understand the importance of giving, even to other families they may not know.
A side note regarding donations. There are organizations in your area that need families to make donations which help your own community. One way to make donating easier is by making a payment monthly for one year. Small monthly donations can be given automatically through your bank to the recipient. This commitment is actually better for the recipient.
Strategies For Kids:
Give kids age appropriate “jobs” to help with holiday preparations. One idea is wrapping gifts. Cut paper to size of gift. Give your child sized paper, pieces of tape (or if old enough, the tape dispenser), bows, and a bag to place when finished. Here is the big tip for you: Love however they wrap the gift! Sometimes we have to “let go” of how we might do something because it’s all good. 🙂 The recipient will enjoy your child’s wrapping abilities no matter what. Other jobs may include: help with cleaning (socks on hands to dust is always fun), decorating, cooking, and making gifts.
Deep breaths (in through the nose, out through the mouth) and exercise daily. Kids need to be taught how to take a deep breath. Elementary teachers sometimes explain to their students, it is like smelling flowers and blowing out birthday candles. Be sure to tell them to only do one deep breath, but remind them a few times during the day. If you practice this daily, your children will be able to use it more effectively when they really need it to calm themselves. Exercise is very important for your children to keep calm as well. An easy indoor activity is Freeze Dancing. Turn on your favorite tunes, but when the music goes off, you freeze! The kids really like this and they get some exercise.
Read and discuss holiday traditions along with their usual favorite books. (Bedtime is a great time for this. Kids are very open to conversations at this time. Especially if they get to stay up a little late. 😉 )
Emphasize Giving Make or buy gifts together for others. Include them in buying for the toy or gift drive you donate to. It will get your child thinking about how others need our support.
Teach expected behaviors for giving and receiving. For example, when receiving a gift always say “thank you” and something kind about the gift. When giving a gift watch the person open it and respond to a thank you with “you’re welcome”. This not only gives them the words to use, it provides the opportunity to learn about gratitude.
If you are visiting another home for a holiday party be sure to tell your kids beforehand the usual sequence of events and what is expected of them during the party. Remind them that expected behavior is important for everyone to have fun and stay safe. If you have a child who has difficulty in these less structured events, be certain to respect any concerns they have and help them to feel comfortable. It’s okay to request information from the host or bring something with you to help your child feel more comfortable. Don’t put your feelings or anxieties on them, however. Don’t ask or suggest anything negative, simply listen if they bring up a concern and reassure them that you will help them if needed.
Older kids need support, too. They would benefit by your sharing the above strategies with them (in your own words) and ask them what they might like to try this year. It may just be the conversation starter you are looking for. (Don’t forget…bedtime is a great time to ask and listen.)
Hopefully, you are also working on your happiness with visualizing, family cheers, exercise, getting rest, being thankful, being mindful, meditating, self-compassion, and thinking positive thoughts. Holidays are a wonderful opportunity to create amazing memories for your family and others. I hope this helps you and your children enjoy this special time of year. Please share some of your own strategies that have helped your holidays be happy in the comment section. I look forward to learning from you!
More to come……
Everywhere there are acts of kindness taking place. Our local channel for children has a kindest kid contest, teachers have kindness walls, counselors are telling of kindness as the key to successful relationships, I want to bring your attention to one of the most important ways to be kind that you might be missing.
I’m sure you are kind to your children or children you care for, I’m sure you are kind to your husband, wife, extended family, friends, colleagues, church groups, sales clerks, and I could go on. My question is, are you kind to yourself?
You are a very important person in your life, you are your first best friend, have you appreciated yourself lately? Are you chuckling to yourself right now reading this? I hope it is because you know I am right! It is called self-compassion. Be sure to take time to nurture yourself, create your happiness (of course, I had to say that), take a break, smell the roses, and appreciate yourself. We tend to be our own worse critics. We will judge ourselves where we wouldn’t judge or criticize another. This is a current area of research because so many of us have difficulty with this. However you treat and see yourself, others will too.
This is especially important if you do have children. Your children will learn about self-compassion by the example that you set. I discovered inspiring books for my children by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer which help them to understand self compassion, self-awareness and improve their self-confidence. Dr. Dyer wrote “Incredible You” and “Unstoppable Me”, among others. These, like many children’s books, are wonderful to read over and over throughout your children’s childhood. Because my children liked these books, I looked for another. I then found, “No Excuses!”
“No Excuses!” is a story of a young boy who loved sea turtles and dreamed of becoming a marine biologist. My oldest son and I refer to this book often as a reminder to stay focused on our goals. The first time I read this with my son, I learned a lesson myself!
Dr. Dyer writes this story to increase children’s understanding of what excuses are, where they come from and not to let excuses stand in the way of their dreams. I had never really thought about my own excuses in the way he described. At the end of this book I noticed that Dr. Dyer had written a more in-depth book for adults titled “EXCUSES BEGONE!” How to Change Lifelong, Self-Defeating Thinking Habits. Got it, read it, and I would recommend it, if you find yourself holding back because of excuses. This was where I first realized how strong our mindsets are but, how possible it is to change them. When I asked my children to believe in themselves that they can do anything with effort, a good support team, and positive thinking….why was I not telling myself the same?
I hope YOU know that with effort, a good support team, and positive thinking you can do anything! Are you telling yourself the same? Remember to be kind to yourself and don’t let your excuses stand in the way of reaching your goals, big or small. 🙂
Let’s talk about karate. Why do you ask? If you haven’t been following along from the beginning you may still be wondering what “My Happy” is all about. I decided to write this blog about happiness and how to work on it daily because whatever brings you happiness should be practiced daily. Which will lead to a healthier, more mindful, and more enjoyable life, especially when things get tough!
I’m writing about what I have found to be helpful towards this goal for myself or my family. I want to share what has worked and maybe inspire others to try something positive. Karate has been that for my son. Karate welcomes all ages and abilities.
Exercise, building a village, and helping others, are all areas incorporated into karate. (Please see: Happiness Page) I would like to talk about Kenpo Karate (only because this is the one I am familiar with). There are other forms such as Taekwondo, but I’m not sure how similar they are. At the age of four, my son needed physical therapy. He had been falling and having trouble running. He also needed to have some occupational therapy as well. Those areas are an entire post in itself, but not today. His OT, Anna, a wonderful person, suggested we have our son take karate. She informed us it assists children with coordination, balance, focus and more. I knew my son’s preschool friend was taking karate. I asked his mom where he was taking it. I enrolled him and luckily he was in his friend’s class. Even still, my son would be timid at times and not want to go, or once we got there would not want to take class. I remember strongly feeling the importance of karate, although I had little knowledge of it. I would have him sit with me and watch his class. The teachers were always supportive and encouraged him to try “next time” which he did.
I’m writing about this as a very proud mother and a glad one. I am proud because even though my son struggled in the first few years, he got better and better with practice. Six years later he is about to earn his black belt! Karate gave him a second family, strength, courage, understanding, respect, friendship, flexibility, confidence, and so much more. First you need to be able to do the basics, like sit ups and push ups. Then you learn blocks, holds, forms, combinations and the creed. The creed tells of respect and peace over power.
When my son was about to earn his last brown belt, we had one of our proudest moments as he didn’t pass the test. As a karate student one needs to go through a few hours of testing to gain the next level belt. This particular test day, he didn’t pass. His teacher gave him his belt, but explained he would have to test again to have actually earned it. I was so grateful that he was able to still have the belt, but what surprised me was when my son chose to wear his old belt to his class that week. I asked him if he realized the kids in his class would know he didn’t pass his test, and he said he did. He explained he wanted to be honest and that he would only wear his new belt after he had past the next test. Which, of course, he did. I was also pleased with how the other karate students and teachers handled it as well when he chose to wear his lower level belt. They all supported my son and didn’t ask him any questions!
I have teared up watching other kids and adults achieve their black belts, not only do the students have to put in effort, they are asked for letters of recommendation, to acquire ten hours of community service, an essay on the requirements and responsibilities of a black belt, good grades and conduct at school, and to be able to run a nine minute mile. In these last few months I’ve come to realize what a terrific achievement this is for my young son. Karate has strengthened him not only physically, but socially and emotionally as well. All of the parents whose children participate in karate, whom I have spoken to, feel the same. I highly recommend karate for children, boys and girls and I also would like to encourage you, as well. I, myself, have it as a future goal. I think back to my younger years and wish someone had talked to me about it. I hope to interest any age (with your doctor’s okay, 🙂 ) to try a class or two and go from there. Again, I am very glad that we gave our son this gift. He is so young, about to earn his black belt and now has the confidence that with hard work, a support team, and perseverance he can accomplish ANYTHING!
Hello Readers, I was very proud of sharing the “Social Thinking” post, finally. It is one of the reasons I wanted to blog. I carefully write as I explain my opinions, because I truly want to reach out to any family who may benefit from the things I have. I learned however, I need to be more specific with my wording. What I found with all kinds of wonderful, unique children is that they will appreciate being treated with respect, kindness, honesty, and genuine care for their well-being. With that said, I thought “You Are a Social Detective” helped children to feel good about themselves and showed them that they have the tools to develop their social smarts. If I say something is good for all children (like the “You are a Social Detective” book) what I mean to say is, it’s something I found useful and you might want to give it a try with your child. Of course, it is possible that your child may not like it or find it useful.
As I continue learning in these areas and about blogging, I will surely grow and be able to “Live and Learn” and “Blog and Learn”. Does that make sense? I was fortunate, for many reasons, to be listening to a presentation the other day as a parent shared that her son did not like the language “expected and unexpected” in the works of Michelle Winner Garcia (complete coincidence ). I wanted to share this opinion on my blog because it would have been a welcomed comment on my blog post, “Social Thinking”.
I then realized it would be helpful to add this post. If you do try this book and your child does feel that way, it could be a good conversation starter. Also, some children, especially older children, may not like this kind of book if they feel it doesn’t address their needs. My experiences using this book have been with children 10 years old and younger. (I should have said this in the video or in the post.)
I also want to express that I know some children have more challenging needs for help with their “social smarts”. Thankfully, today there are many more resources for parents. Always share your concerns with your pediatrician. Usually they can advise you if your concerns about your child may need to be checked out by a specialist. They can also direct you to the specialist that is best suited for the concern. There are many doctors, therapists, social skills groups, early intervention programs, and more that are there to help you. If your child is of school age, you can also share your concerns with their teacher. I think when your child has difficulty with social and emotional issues, it may seem complicated to know who to turn to for help.
It is so important though, whether your child is having difficulties or not, to guide our children as much as we can to help them increase their social smarts, emotional intelligence and happiness! Thanks again for your patience as blogging is a new learning experience for me. I am trying to stay positive, helpful, honest, reach out to whomever my blog resonates with, show you things I found helpful as a teacher or parent, and learn from my readers. Thanks for reading!
Michelle Garcia Winner, MS, CCC-SLP is the founder of the concept of teaching “Social Thinking” to promote social skills and the author of several books related to the subject. She is also a national and international speaker on Social Thinking. Pamela Crooke, PhD, CCC-SLP is a faculty member of San Jose State University and is interested in treatment research related to children and adults with social cognitive challenges. Together they wrote the book I will present in the video below. I have used this book and felt that it would be helpful for all children, beginning at a young age. This is such a wonderful approach to teaching social skills because it is POSITIVE and empowering to all children. There are many books and materials regarding social thinking that I will also be sharing.
Happiness for our children includes feeling comfortable in the world around them. Discipline comes from the Latin word “disciplinare” which means to teach. As parents we are our children’s first teachers. It is important to teach social thinking beginning at a young age. There is no question that everyone can benefit from being taught social thinking! This is such a positive approach to addressing your own child’s behaviors, giving your child an understanding of how their behavior affects other people, or how other people’s behavior affects them. Also, it teaches that social smarts are just as important as academic smarts!
Hopefully, I have sparked your interest to watch the video as I explain “You are a Social Detective!” written by: Michelle Garcia Winner and Pamela Crooke, Illustrated by: Kelly Knopp
Thank you for watching the video. I hope you see how useful this book can be with teaching children about social thinking. If used in the home, children will have a better understanding of social thinking as they begin school and for the years to come. This book and others like it should be read to the child repeatedly. This will increase their understanding and they will be able to use what they learn from it. This is not an answer to all social learning needs of our children, I think it is one step in the right direction. The website to view this book and learn more about Social Thinking is http://www.socialthinking.com
Thanks again for watching and have a happy day!