Friday, May 22, 2015

Resilency Tips and Tricks

Greetings Parents and Staff. As we move through May on our way to June, it is time to start thinking about the end of school and summer.  This June, 2015, brings about big changes for our Lafayette Family.  The school building will close down for a big renovation for a year and we will be moving into trailers on the field.  To help deal with the new Lafayette "world", everyone will need to be patient, kind and use new resiliency skills.  See below for some tips.  Have a great summer.
                                                                                                       Harriet Kuhn, Psychologist

Building Resiliency: Helping Children Learn to Weather Tough Times

Adversity is a natural part of life. At some point, we all face difficulties, such as family problems, serious illness, a personal crisis, or a painful loss. Being resilient is important to dealing with adversities like these. While most parents hope that their children never face extreme adversity, successfully facing tough situations can actually foster growth and give children the skills to be more resilient in the future.

Most people have a natural tendency to adapt and bounce back from adversity. However, parents can help their children learn to face challenges successfully, whether it is the stresses of everyday life, such as academic difficulties or problems with friends, or severe adversity, such as losing a home and being displaced from normal routines for months. Following are five ways to promote resiliency in your children and help protect them from long-term ill affects of difficult experiences.

1. Think positive!! Modeling positive attitudes and positive emotions is very important. Children need to hear parents thinking out loud positively and being determined to persist until a goal is achieved. Using a “can do” problem-solving approach to problems teaches children a sense of power and promise.

2. Express love and gratitude! Emotions such as love and gratitude increase resiliency. Praise should always occur much more often than criticism. Children and adolescents who are cared for, loved, and supported learn to express positive emotions to others. Positive emotions buffer kids against depression and other negative reactions to adversity.

3. Express yourself! Resilient people appropriately express all emotions, even negative ones. Parents who help kids become more aware of emotions, label emotions appropriately, and help children deal with upsetting events are giving them useful life skills.

4. Get fit! Good physical health prepares the body and mind to be more resilient. Healthy eating habits, regular exercise and adequate sleep protect kids against the stress of tough situations. Regular exercise also decreases negative emotions such as anxiety, anger, and depression.

5. Foster competency! Making sure that children and adolescents achieve academically is great protection against adversity. Children who achieve academic success and who develop individual talents, such as playing sports, drawing, making things, playing musical instruments or playing games are much more likely to feel competent and be able to deal with stress positively. Social competency is also important. Having friends and staying connected to friends and loved ones can increase resiliency. Social competency can even be created by helping others.
Protecting our children against all of life’s unexpected painful events is not possible. Giving them a sense of competency and the skills to face adverse circumstances can be a valuable legacy of all parents. Resiliency can be built by understanding these important foundations. The more we practice these approaches; the better able our children will be to weather whatever life brings.
Adapted from: “Resiliency:  Strategies for Parents and Educators,” Virginia Smith Harvey, Helping Children at Home and School II: Handouts for Families and Educators, NASP, 2004

Friday, May 15, 2015

Safety, Safety, Safety

For the past two weeks, Nurse Cockrell and I have been visiting Kindergarten classrooms together to talk with the children about safety. This is part of the elementary health curriculum the nurse is required to provide, just like hearing and vision checks. We read a book to the classes called I Can Be Safe by Pat Thomas. In a straight-forward and non-threatening way, we talked with students about the following safety tips, many of which they already knew (which was great!) Review the list and be sure your child knows these things, too:

  • Parent first and last name
  • Parent phone number (this one is tricky for lots of kids)
  • What an "emergency" is and how to dial 911 if needed
  • Holding an adult hand in crowded places
  • Wearing protective gear during sports, biking, etc.
  • Wearing a seat belt in cars
  • What to do if you get separated from an adult in public
  • Stop, look, and listen before crossing a road
  • Stop, drop, and roll if clothing catches on fire
  • Swimming with an adult nearby, especially in the ocean (all kids think they are great swimmers!)
  • Run, yell, kick if necessary if someone talks to you or touches you in a way that makes you uncomfortable
  • Trusting your "fear" feeling and not doing something that seems unsafe, even if friends are telling you it's okay. 
We know it's still a long road to adulthood, and they still have many things to learn about staying safe, but now is a great time to start with the basic principles. We want all of our children to have a fun, exciting, and SAFE summer!


Friday, May 1, 2015

Conflict Resolution in Pre-K??

For the past several weeks in Peace Class with Pre-K and Kindergarten we've been talking about the word "conflict." We watched the above short clip with Robin Williams and the Two-Headed Monster explaining the word and modeling a conflict (or attempting to, at least!) Once established that everyone knows what a conflict is, we moved on to brainstorming ways we can deal with them. Coming on the heels of our "Problem Size" unit, we also identified conflicts as tiny problems that, if left unresolved, can become medium or even big. One particularly intrepid 5 year old even shared how her father works in Syria, where a conflict has turned into a "really big problem." The kids always amaze me! 

We acted out different ways to solve conflicts, such as sharing, taking turns, and being flexible about not getting stuck on your way to do things. Each class created a book of "Win-Win" ways to work out conflicts. Will all of this help your children handle conflicts as they get older? This thesis study, among other research, says it actually can help change children's automatic stereotyping. Of course we will need to review and reteach the concepts in developmentally appropriate ways each year, but now is the time to start. We have been having a lot of fun in early childhood doing just that!