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Blog to Support National Social Emotional Learning Day

Posted on April 5, 2020 at 7:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Say What's Wrong and Make It Right by Karen Taylor-Bleiker

I was in my late thirties before I started to understand and believe the concept: "Feelings are not right or wrong, bad or good.  Feelings just are."

What an awakening this was for me.  It was the beginning of a great adventure.  The journey burst wide open when I returned to teaching kindergarten.  With my partner, Diana Carr, and our five-year olds, we created a communication program that freed and encouraged children to:

  • Recognize and say their feelings
  • Listen to each other
  • Make eye contact
  • Work together for win-win solutions to problems

Within three years, with support from the principals, teachers, aides, and parents, the majority of the students in our elementary school were resolving conflicts based on these principles.  Soon the program's success was seen in schools throughout our community.

Nearly forty years later, these grown up elementary students and their parents are still using Say What's Wrong and Make It Right to improve relationships and create peace in their world.


Encouraging the Understanding and Expression of Feelings in Children

Posted on February 1, 2016 at 1:55 PM Comments comments (2)

I was thrilled to read the article, "Talking about race in ballet class" by Jessica F. Hinton, January 25, 2016, in The Washington Post.  Her beautifully written article is about helping her three and five year old black daughters understand and deal with racism.  Her wise insights and description of the actions she took to develop her girls' understanding and freedom to voice upsets are helpful to parents of any race on many issues.  She suggests continued conversations about..."feelings in discussing books, social interactions, TV shows, and almost everything else."


The essence of the article is that young children have difficulties expressing uncomfortable emotions.  It is up to parents and teacher to..."create spaces for children to feel and talk out loud about their feelings and to really listen to what they have to say."


As I read her article, I was silently acknowledging how important this advice is for building and reinforcing a child's ability to Say What's Wrong and Make It Right. When guiding the children through the Five-Step Process, they are reminded to speak their unhappiness about the problem and listen to what the other person is feeling.  Listening and acknowledging emotions is the heart of the program and leads to a win-win solution.

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Posted on December 13, 2015 at 11:10 PM Comments comments (0)

If you are looking for a Hanukkah or Christmas present that is a fun way to increse family communication and build closeness, the Ungame is the answer.  It will do that and so much more.  Through playing this game family members will:

 

  • Improve listening skills.
  • Feel safe to express feelings, needs, and ideas.
  • Gain understanding of self and others.
Because of nodules on her vocal chords Rhea Zakich was ordered by her doctor to stop speaking for several months.  In her cone of silence she felt estranged from the world, especially from her family.  During this time she came to the painful conclusion that she knew so little about her husband and sons.  In turn, they didn't know her deepest thoughts and feelings.

One night she sat down with a stack of empty cards and began writing questions she wanted to ask her family members, as well as questions she wanted asked of her.  She wrote one question per card.  Some were light and airy such as, "What is your favorite gift you ever received?"  Others were more introspective about fears, angers, doubts, and successes.

She ended up with a pile of 200 questions.  In that moment the idea came to her to use them in a board game with dice.

The family started with the lighter questions the first night they played the game.  They had to wait for her to write her answers out, but she finally felt more a part of the family.  When they delved into the more thought provoking questions, they all gained much greater understanding of each other.  It was such a pleasurable experience that they played it again the very next night.

The Ungame creates a safe place to express oneself because no one is allowed to interrupt with a comment or question while the person is speaking. Every family Rhea shared the game with loved what it did for their communication.

The Ungame would be a great way to start or end family meetings.  The feelings that come up in the game may be conducive to introducing "Say What's Wrong and Make It Right" for dealing with those situations.

The published game has sold over four million copies.  To find out more about the Ungame go to www.rheazakich.com .


 

Contributing to Your Children's Life Skills and Your Peace of Mind

Posted on November 14, 2015 at 1:25 PM Comments comments (0)

You're Not the Boss of Me by Betsy Brown Braun (2010) Harper Collins Publishers is another delightful yet practical guide book for developing independence and responsibility in children.  It is filled with tips such as lists of age appropriate responsibilities for two-and-a-half-year-olds through eight-year-olds.  She gives and abundance of adult scripts for many of her tips.  For instance, I love her response to a child that complains about being bored.  " That's great.  I know you are going toi figure out something really interesting to do."


Braun declares, "There is no such thing as being bored at home.  Children who are bored are trying to engage you."  


My teaching partner, Diana Carr's response to a child's declaration of boredom was, "If you are bored, your brain is taking a nap.  Time to wake it up and start thinking, even if it's to start daydreaming."


I know every parent and/or educator has some stories about building independence and responsibility in children.  I would love for you to add your insights about this important subject. 

Raising Children to Become Confident, Competent Adults

Posted on November 3, 2015 at 3:00 PM Comments comments (1)

Just reread Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World by H. Stephen Glenn and Jane Nelsen (2000) Three Rivers Press.  Chapter 4 "Developing Strong Perceptions of Personal Capabilities" is filled with detailed examples of ways to build a child's sense of being capable as well as the words we use that can discourage or inspire independence.  It was a good reminder for me to focus positively on the parts of a responsibility that the child accomplishes and to leave out the "but".  "I love it when you remember to put your dishes in the dishwasher." is much more encouraging than adding, "But you forgot to put your bowl in the right place."

Children as young as eighteen months show their desire to be independent with the common statement, "Me do it."  I recall a two year old loving to help his mom dust and clean up messes.  At first his enthusiasm was more entertaining than helpful.  However, because of her consistent praise and positive guidance, he became more competent and continued enjoying learning new ways to contribute to the family.


Children benefit by being responsible for their homework, contributing to household chores, helping in the kitchen, being included in care of neighbors, and participating in community service.  Giving them a voice in family meetings and developing their ability to "Say What's Wrong and Make It Right" nurtures their potential for thriving as an adult.  Allowing children to have input and choices means life may be less predictable and contain fewer conflicts.  You might be outvoted in choosing a picnic over the beach.  And that could turn out to be a positive adventure in the long run.

Preparing Your Kids for Adult Success

Posted on October 23, 2015 at 3:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Julie Lythcott-Haims, former Stanford University Dean of Students, in her book "How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success" (2015) Holt, Henry and Company, Inc., discusses her experiences with incoming freshmen over a ten year period in The Washington Post  (www.washingtonpost.com).  Each year the students who entered were less capable of taking responsibility than the students from the previous year.  Theses students were in thius plight because of well-meaning parents hovering and sheilding them from disappointments, challenges, and struggles.  Protection rather than building independence was their goal.

Lythcott-Haims was motivated to write this book for parents because of the following:

  1. In her experiences as Dean of Freshmen, she saw students incapable of self-care and independent living.
  2. Her research showed the rising statistics of depression, other mental/emotional health problems, and even suicide in college students.  
She provides a warning test to determine if you are lowering your child's chances for college and adult success.
  1. "If you say 'we' when you mean your son or your daughter--as in, 'We're on the travel soccer team.' you are intertwined in a way that is unhealthy."
  2. If you are fighting your child's battles with school personnel, coaches, or other children, you are not teaching your kids to solve their own problems and "advocate for themselves."  This is where "Say What's Wrong and Make It Right" comes in.  Children as young as four years old can learn to solve conflicts on their own.  In fact young children develop the communication skills faster than adults.  Try it.  Your entire family atmosphere will benefit.
  3. "Stop doing their homework."  See my previous blogs: "Harmonious Homework Hints 101 A,B, and C" (September 8, 10, and 16) in order to make the transition easier on your child and you.
Finally, Lythcott-Haims and I are consistent in the belief that the less our children need us, the better job we are doing as a parent.  She contends that bulding their independence through teaching life skills instead of doing everything for your children produces competent, confident adults.  Check out my blog next week, 10/30, for more details on ways to develop life skills in your children and contribute to their personhood.

It Works!!

Posted on October 7, 2015 at 7:50 PM Comments comments (0)

I would love for you to check out my Q&A section this week.  A friend jokingly asked me a question about Say What's Wrong and Make It Right that inspired me to tell a fun story about how the process works for any age.  Enjoy!!

Free Family Fun! Sunday October 4, 2015

Posted on October 1, 2015 at 2:55 PM Comments comments (0)

If you are a parent, grand-parent, educator, child, care-giver or writer, the 12th annual Children Book Festival is bound to have something of interest for you. Whether you have a family that enjoys reading, or want to encourage a love of reading in others, this is a great weekend destination. I definitely plan on checking it out! 

Time: 9:30 - 4:30

Location: Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa

There is something for everyone in the family. The little ones, pre-teens, teenagers and young adults. You can connect with authores, illustrators and story-tellers. There are other interactive attractions including an animal petting zoo, puppets and players. Food and dring are available.

For much greater detail go to kidsbookfestival.com including a map of authors and event schedules.

Harmonious Homework Hints 101C

Posted on September 16, 2015 at 2:05 PM Comments comments (1)
Setting the Mood

1.  Do you or your child use a homework timer?  If so, does it motivate or upset your child?

2.  Do you ask questions to help him discover what works best for him?

For example, "Would it be better if you did the harder subjects first so you have something easy to look forward to?"

3.  When your child encounters difficulty with her homework, do you build independence by asking questions rather than giving her the answer?

For example, if your child is asking how to spell a word, you might say, "Write three ways you think it might be spelled and get back to me."
For other blockages ask, "What have you tried already?"  "What other ideas do you have?"

When students have said to me, "I don't know."

My response was, "When you say that, your brain goes on vacation.  It is your obedient servant.  So if you say, 'I'm looking for the answer,'   your brain gets busy and comes up with an answer."

Because this was my consistent stance, it wasn't long before students replaced "I don't know" with:

" I'm looking for the answer."

" Let me see what I can figure out."

"I'm working on it."

4.  Do your child and you go over the homework together to:
  • reinforce it's importance?
  • encourage proofreading?  "Your math is perfect except for two problems in the last row.  Can you find the ones I am talking about?"
5.  Do you praise your children for their persistence and concentration when they have completed their homework?

6.  Do you reinforce the importance of effort because the brain is like a muscle?  Effort is the exercise that stimulates growth of the brain.

As always, I look forward to hearing from you.  I love hearing what worked, how you modified a suggestion to work better for your children, and any other ideas that have added to a Harmonious Homework Homefront.






Harmonious Homework Hints 101B

Posted on September 10, 2015 at 1:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Setting the Place

1.  Does your child have a designated place to do homework (a work station)?

  • Young children, kindergarten through second grade, for occasional guidance may need to be near where a parent is cooking, folding laundry, reading, etc.
  • Older children may be more able to concentrate if they are in a more private place.
2.  Are the necessary materials readily available in a drawer, toolbox, treasure chest, tote, or on a nearby shelf so that homework time is not wasted looking for supplies?

3.  Does this cover the materials your child will need:
  • paper and pencils?
  • pencil sharpener?
  • dictionary and thesaurus?
  • computer and printer?
Please let me know if any of these hints for Setting the Place work for your child.  I look forward to any additional hints that have worked with your children.

Stay tuned for the next installment of Harmonious Homework Hints 101 C, Setting the Mood.



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