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Hooray for Lifeskills!

Lifeskills - Coronavirus Resources

March 18, 2020
By Lauren Conway

Hooray for Lifeskills - Special Edition - Coronavirus Resources

As we continue to make the health and safety of our school community a priority, it’s important to remember that times of uncertainty can also bring about fear and worry with our students.  I would like to provide families with some additional resources that can be helpful during this time:

Preschool/Early Elementary Aged Students - PBS Kids offers parents of Preschool/Early Elementary aged children developmentally appropriate suggestions for talking to children about Coronavirus.  This article also includes additional video links on healthy habits from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Sesame Street, Curious George and Super Why!

https://www.pbs.org/parents/thrive/how-to-talk-to-your-kids-about-coronavirus

In addition, the National Association of School Psychologists has shared a general resource, "Talking to Children About COVID-19 (Coronavirus): A Parent Resource."  This document provides parents with guidance in responding to the virus within your family.  https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources-and-podcasts/school-climate-safety-and-crisis/health-crisis-resources/talking

Please know we are here for you as we navigate these uncharted waters together.  If I can be of any additional help to you or your child, please don't hesitate to reach out to me through email, lconway@thewaldenschool.org.

Hooray For Lifeskills - Integrity

January 06, 2020
By Lauren Conway

Hooray for Lifeskills! Happy New Year!  When thinking about our next Lifeskill of Initiative and what we can AND can not do to help our students develop this skill, I was reminded of a hot topic from a few years back about “Helicopter or Snowplowing Parents”.  A helicopter parent is thought of as a mom or dad who  appears to micromanage every aspect of their children’s lives, hence they’re seen as hovering over their child like a helicopter.  This phenomenon could describe parents of younger children who often swoop in to “fix” a problem their preschooler is having; whether their struggling with a puzzle piece or putting on their coat. Snowplowing parents often take it a step further by plowing through any obstacle standing in the way of a child’s success.  For example, with older children, you may hear of snowplowing parents intervening by calling college professors when their child received a less than desirable grade.  Whatever the hovering act may be, most are done out of love and desire to protect their children from discomfort, challenge or failure.  Although this may be interpreted as helping, over protecting our children can actually have a negative effect in the long run.  In terms of initiative, how can we expect our children to develop that “fire in their belly”, or desire to do something on their own, if we are constantly jumping in and doing things for them?

So, what can we do to help our children develop this inner-driven Lifeskill?  Here are some ways you can support the Lifeskill of Initiative at home:

It’s Ok To Make Mistakes - Mistakes or a bit of pain or struggle can be our friend.  Backing up and allowing your child to experience these feelings can help them develop skills such as problem solving and resiliency, which in turn help them to develop initiative.  

Choices, Choices, Choices - Giving your child choices and letting them make their own decisions (within reason), will allow them to feel in control and help motivate them to take initiative and do things on their own.

Show Them The Way - It’s time to do an initiative self-check.  Do you do things that need to be done on a daily basis, or do you tend to procrastinate and put them off.  Be careful.....they’re watching you!

Initiative Heroes - Talk with your child about various community individuals or agencies that are taking the initiative to help others.  Soup kitchens, the ASPCA or local civic leaders can provide good examples of citizens stepping up to help solve community problems.  

Helping children develop the Lifeskill of Initiative is no easy task.  Initiative is different from some of our other Lifeskills, in that it is prompted by an internal source.  However challenging it may be, initiative is a Lifeskill we must encourage our children to practice, or else how will anything ever get done?!  

~Lauren Conway, School Counselor

Hooray for Lifeskills Problem Solving

December 04, 2019
By Lauren Conway

Hooray for Lifeskills! 

From the moment we open our eyes each and every morning, our next Lifeskill of Problem Solving is put into action.  “Should I hit the snooze button?”, “What should I wear?”, “Do I have time to stop for a cup of coffee?”.  All day, every day, our brains and bodies work together to figure out an abundance of problems ~ both big and small 1 .  For most adults, problem solving may seem like second nature. You’re faced with a dilemma, you think about different solutions, you choose the best one and act on it.  Boom, you’re a Problem Solver!  For children, however, it’s not always that easy.  Breaking down the concept of problem solving can be a great first step in helping children understand all that goes into finding the best solution for a difficult situation.  Below I have listed some additional ways to reinforce problem solving at home.

 The Basic Steps of Problem Solving - Children by nature are impulsive, so encouraging them to stop and think will help them become better problem solvers.  Outline the basic steps in problem solving with your child: State the problem; Think of multiple solutions; Evaluate those solutions (is this a good move or a bad move? How would this solution make me and others feel?); Pick the best solution and try it out.  

 Think Out Loud - Show your child that talking to yourself doesn’t mean you’re crazy!  Thinking out loud as you work through a problem and it’s possible solutions can be an invaluable lesson for your child.  They will witness first hand the steps in solving a problem and how to reflect on one’s own actions and thoughts.

 Children’s Literature - Using children’s literature is a great way for students to see a problem being worked out.  Talk with your child about how characters in the book recognized their problems and the steps they took in solving them.  For younger students the Arthur or D.W. series by Marc Brown provide stories with clear problems and solutions that your child could draw, write or tell you about. 

Games & Puzzles - The use of everyday children’s games can also be a great way to practice problem solving skills.  When playing a game with your child include the strategy of thinking out loud to demonstrate how you determine your best move.  Checkers, chess or Connect Four are games that this works well with.  Using the basic steps of problem solving state a couple of moves that you could make; pick the best move and reflect on your choice, “Will this be a good move or a bad one?”.  Children will witness the importance of thinking ahead to avoid negative consequences 2.

It’s Ok to Make Mistakes –Allow children to make mistakes and experience consequences.  As hard as this can be for a parent, rushing to your child’s side every time they have a problem will only delay them in developing confident problem solving skills.  

 

~Lauren Conway, School Counselor

Hooray for Lifeskills Patience and Perseverance

November 04, 2019
By Lauren Conway

Hooray for Lifeskills!

“Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times….keep swinging!”.  This quote is prominently displayed in my father’s office in the home where I grew up.  This is also a character trait that he encouraged (insisted) my brother and I learn and live by, but I have to say, some days were harder than others.  The Lifeskills of Patience and Perseverance are traits that oftentimes can be difficult to come by, especially in the fast paced, instant gratification world we live in today.   We don’t know an answer to a question.... ask Alexa.  We have to ask a friend a favor.... text her.  You want to watch that cute puppy video online?  Let’s hope it doesn’t take more than a few seconds to load.  Researchers have found that subjects online were willing to wait only a mere 2 seconds before some began to abandon the site.  But the largest number of participants, 50%, clicked off the site when their patience ran out after...... 10 SECONDS! 1   No wonder some of us have such a hard time being patient and persevering.  While the students and staff at The Walden School explore Patience and Perseverance over these next two weeks, I have listed some ideas below that can help stretch these very important Lifeskills.

Introduce and Define “Patience” and “Perseverance”.  Ask your child this week if they know what these two Lifeskills mean.  What do they look like; what do they sound like; how do they feel?  Point out examples in your everyday lives where these traits are used or even times when they’re not being used!  How can we expect them to demonstrate these traits if they are unsure of what they even mean?

Model, Model, Model.  As hard as this can be sometimes, modeling the behavior we want to see from our children is the best way for them to learn new skills.  “Do as I do” is always more powerful than “Do what I say”.  

“Keep Swinging” Lingo.  In the upcoming weeks, some classrooms will be discussing the importance of positive self talk.  When the going gets tough we have to be our own biggest cheerleader.  Teaching children to use phrases such as “I can do it!”, “Keep going”, and “I won’t give up” will help them remain patient and persevere when things get difficult.  You could even vote on a favorite phrase to use as your own family motto. 2

Don’t Jump In.  While it can be extremely difficult to see your child struggle through something that is difficult for them to do, always swooping in to save them from uncomfortable feelings will only teach them that it’s OK to stop trying.  Encouraging children to use coping skills when things are tough will help them in handling their next difficult challenge. 

Trying to slow down as the world around us speeds up is not that easy, but instilling the Lifeskills of Patience and Perseverance in our students now, can help them be more successful in the future.  Babe Ruth once said “every strike brings me closer to the next home run”.  So let’s keep swinging! 

~Lauren Conway, School Counselor

 

 

1 Muther, C.  February 02, 2013.  Instant Gratification is Making us Perpetually Impatient.  The Boston Globe

2 Borba, M.  1999.  Adapted from Parents Do Make A Difference: How to Raise Kids with Solid Character, Strong Minds, and Caring Hearts. Jossey-Bass Publishers.

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