Emotional Rescuers

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I came across this article in The New York Times  which mentioned the term neontocracy, the downward spiral of parents putting their kids needs above your own, even above your parent-to-parent relationship. In other words, you do everything for your son or daughter that you fail, perhaps forget, to think about your own. This same rationale can be said about emotions, or what I like to call emotional rescuing.

We’ve all been there, feeling the immense guilt as you glance or even walk away from the sandbox on the playground. Will your child suffer harm if you leave them for a few seconds, probably not? Will they make a new friend or perhaps get their feelings hurt on their own? Perhaps, but by allowing them the chance to feel these emotions, to experience how to work through different feelings is a process that will not only help them recognize how their body is related to how they are feeling, but how to work through them as well.

In my class of fights, we often work through feelings that we get stuck on by playing in a sensory box full of letter tiles, beans, and sand (I know, I know the irony ). Often it times it helps to create a heart journal, where students can write senselessly, free of grammar or sentences, about how they are feeling about anything.

I guess my point is sometimes the rescuing we, as parents or adults who work with children, need to be doing is our own, just like the flight attendants tell us, put your oxygen mask on first. In the end, truly what good are we as parents or teachers to our children if we don’t have any wind or sails left?

Kindness Is a Muscle

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Not just any muscle, but the most important one of all. Like any muscle it needs conditioning, active practice to make it healthy, strong, even grow.

There was a recent spurge in the media around 50 days of kindness, continous acts of kindness that are done by the simple act of wanting to do better, kinder acts for others. Pushing a chair in, buying someone else’s coffee in line, even telling someone hello in the hall who may be having a bad day. Although these are acts that are kind in merit, shouldn’t they be done on a continuum and not continously for a shortened period of 40 days?

In Dr Peter Feruci’s book The Power of Kindness, he argues that those who practice kindness, truly acts of good toward others, will thrive in this world, later empowering others through these acts away from a world of self-centeredness and narcissism.So how does this affect how you feel, how your child may feel about how they learn? That’s simple, how the world sees them is often a reflection of their feeling, their thoughts about not only who they are and who the world sees, but who the world projects they may become.

Kindness is a beautiful thing ; a simple act has the power, potential to spiral into altruistic, loving acts towards others. Now think of it as a muscle and use the muscle towards how you or your child feel about learning, not just academically and emotionally. Simply put, this is an area that we need to condition and strengthen.

If we all invested this much energy we gear towards acts of kindness in 40 days, think of the impact we could do towards not just ourselves but how we feel about how we learn and potentially become?

Emotional Detectives

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Adults who work with children are generally perceived to be warm, nurturing, and tend to usually be great with children. They spend countless hours outside the classroom working, and their summers taking professional development classes that are required of their school districts. So, I find it not that surprising when their response when a teacher is told that they have to incorporate social emotional learning into their already deeply henvy shoulders.

Teachers feel like they are taxed with so many requirements and pressured requests by admin, all hoping to generate scores and growth down the line. The beauty of social emotional learning is that if you are already teaching well, to be fit your children in a way that encompasses their emotions and their mind, you are already doing it. In fact, if you alter your perception in that it something that you as a classroom or family can engage in and not you as the adult is responsible for, it can be life altering.

Think of all the times students come up to you as a teacher or parent with faces of defeat or frustration, it all begins with a single emotion. They may not be able to recognize or identify what it is that they are feeling, but their body is wearing how they are feeling. Their shoulders are shrugged, their body antsy as they learn something new, or their face is ridden with defeat. these are not the faces we as parents or teachers want to see time and time again.we want them to feel empowered, strong, and happy to take on the world. So what do we do? How to do we help our children without doing it solely on our shoulders?

There are several things you can do to help your child figure out what they are struggling with, but my go-to suggestion is for them to be an emotional detective. If it is, then there is an issue or issues that  they are struggling with, and encouraging them to sleuth it out, gives them the chance to not only decipher what it is that they are feeling, but to connect with  the reasons behind it. Emotional detectives are easily to implement both at home, and I’m the classroom, and it allows children to strengthen being able to pinpoint how their emotions are connected to their learning both in and outside the classroom, which is something we all want for ourselves as well, right?

Understanding SEL in the Spotlight

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Social emotional learning is certainly become quite a buzz word lately. Efforts have been made at the local level in several organizations to make social and emotional learning more of a well-known concept that is not only grasped, but a movement that teachers are thirsty for more of. Organizations like the Collaboration for Academic and Social Emotional Learning (CASEL)  have made it their mission to define and dissect the competencies of social emotional learning and how they should be integral component of not just within the classroom walls, but outside as well.

Often times the concept of  social emotional learning is intertwined in the world of educational and education services. For example, the Every Student Succeeds Act was  introduced to establish a set of academic competencies for students, including social and emotional competencies. For this author, this thrills me to end because it connects both the heart and the mind in the learning process. Children should be able to emotionally brilliant and feel good about themselves and others while soaring academically. 

Other various government bills such as S. 897, named after the six-year-old student Jesse Lewis who was killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School,  have made an addendum to pre-existing educational reforms or acts to include provisions that involve school-wide professional development to ensure that all adults involved in children’s lives at school have the well-needed tools and training to not only understand but implement the principles and concepts of social emotional learning.

All of these efforts  imply that there has been work made beyond the classroom walls, that teachers have more than a fundamental grasp of what it means when the term social emotional learning is used at school. I do think that there is a thirst for teachers and professionals to want to integrate these concepts in the learning process, but that comes with a waning feeling felt by teachers of already feeling taxed and burdened by what is already being asked of them. What I wish I could shout out across the buildings for everyone to hear is that if you are teaching your child well, either in our outside the classroom, you are already doing this. Teach your child to love not just others, but themselves for not just who they are, but what and how they learn.

Nonprofits like Un-included Project empower children to increase their self-esteem and self-worth through engagement both academically and emotionally in various arenas. Efforts made nationally reflect the desire to include social emotional learning and concepts into the academic and professional development framework for both teachers and students.  I am more thrilled that it has reached national attention, but if this is all about the children, let’s start with them. 

For more information on Social Emotional Learning please visit:

Collaboration for Academic and Social Emotional Learning (CASEL)

Emotional Intelligence As Standard Intelligence

Neuroscience Behind Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning

 

 

The Mirror of Nonverbal Behavior

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Can there be something stronger manifesting in subconsciously in the demonstration of non-verbal behavior?

 

Children are sponges for what lies ahead of  them. They soak up all that they hear and feel, which in turn  creates a burden that they aren’t familiar with. Think of it like a terrible song that you hear in an elevator. As you leave it you are humming (potentially to the benefit of whomever you are walking next to) this song that you remember but not well enough to remember the words or title of. Now, think of that same process but with the noise of parental or adult language.

It’s not enough to just consider the audience to whom we are talking to, but must also take into consideration how we say it. In an article published out of West Point, the observation was made that although we, as parents and educators, have a strong understanding of the effect that non-verbal communication may have on children and yet at the same time look for a sign of praise or receiving of information from our children and students? It is one thing for children to demonstrate traditional non-verbal clues that resonate praise and acceptance, and yet what if they fail to do so? Non-traditional nonverbal behavior or communication can also be a learned behavior, like a wink or an eye roll. However, the question remains, can they be a sign that there is something deeper, stronger manifesting subconsciously?

My father was a huge Patton fan. He once told me that Patton practiced his brave face in the mirror to show bravery and strength in the line of enemies, so I often like to think of non-verbal behavior like a student’s subconscious mirror. Although I am seeing a variety of actions and behaviors, what feelings or train of subconscious thoughts led them to get there?

The road to understanding or deciphering non-verbal behavior is certainly culturally specific, but it doesn’t have to be specific to a culture. As I have said before, it often is their version of normal, which in this case is their own created culture. There is no ideal set of non-verbal behaviors that are universally acceptable or desired. What we want, what anyone wants for their children, is to be understood , both verbally and emotionally. Enter the world of social emotional learning. If we learn to strengthen our thoughts of how we learn and how we feel, like any good muscle needing to grow stronger, than aren’t we creating a face that is more reflective of what we are feeling?

I am sure Patton wasn’t always feeling brave and gallant when he woke up everyone, but I know that children aren’t fine every single time they respond to an adult’s question. Isn’t it time we allow them opportunities to strengthen these muscles?