New Podcast on Social and Emotional Learning in Technology

Check out Lunch Bytes hosted by Jill Abbott for the Education Technology Industry Network of the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA). SIIA serves as the lead trade association globally for the digital content industry with members like Google, Intuit, and Adobe and ETIN offers support for private enterprises that are creating new technology for educational settings. Jennifer Miller of Confident Parents, Confident Kids speaks with Senior Vice President and Educational Technology expert Jill Abbott about social and emotional learning in schools and at home, the roles it can play and the impact it can have. We also dialogue about how technology developers and innovators might create new assets to support children’s social and emotional development.

Check out the Lunch Bytes Podcast on Social and Emotional Learning.

Educators: Want to Connect Parents to Your School’s Focus on Social and Emotional Learning?

Host a Parent Book Club in School Year 2019-2020!

Families can learn about their child’s social and emotional development and ways they can promote social and emotional skills alongside educators. The book contains a discussion guide to support readers in their dialogue.

“Confident Parents, Confident Kids: Raising Emotional Intelligence in Ourselves and Our Kids—from Toddlers to Teenagers” is a fully illustrated guide for parents to learn about their children’s development at each age and stage and how they can develop critical social and emotional life skills to enhance their competence and contribute to their confidence. In addition, parents will learn how to deal with their own big feelings that parenting brings out while transforming their toughest moments into learning opportunities.

How do we raise a confident kid? And how can we be confident that our parenting is preparing our child for success?

Our confidence develops from understanding and having a mastery over our emotions—and helping our children do the same. Like learning to play a musical instrument, we can fine-tune our ability to skillfully react to those crazy, wonderful, big feelings that naturally arise from our child’s constant growth and changes, moving from chaos to harmony. We want our children to trust that they can conquer any challenge with hard work and persistence; that they can love boundlessly; that they will find their unique sense of purpose; and they will act wisely in a complex world. This book shows you how.

You’ll learn:

o The myths we’ve been told about emotions, how they shape our choices, and how we can reshape our parenting decisions in better alignment with our deepest values.

o How to identify the temperaments your child was born with so you can support those tendencies rather than fight them.

o How to align your biggest hopes and dreams for your kids with specific skills that can be practiced, along with new research to support those powerful connections.

o About each age and stage your child goes through and the range of learning opportunities available.o How to identify and manage those big emotions (that only the parenting process can bring out in us!) and how to model emotional intelligence for your children.

o How to alter challenging patterns we fall into and respond to even our toughest moments in ways that align with our highest values.

Need a handout to take to your PTA, funder, or principal? Print out this one-page information sheet.

Sold in all major book outlets including Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Release date: November 5, 2019 | ISBN: 9781592339044 Fair Winds Press, an imprint of Quarto Publishing Group | QuartoKnows.com

Caring for Our Home Together: Involving Kids at Each Age and Stage

With Tools and Tips!

It’s a Sunday afternoon. Mom and Dad have decided that at ten years of age their daughter, Molly, could be taking more responsibility for her contributions to the household. They attempt to set the stage. Mom puts out a snack for family members. She grabs a clipboard, paper, and marker to create a list together. And all family members sit down for a reasonable discussion. And it begins well. Mom says, “I’ve noticed you consistently making your bed in the morning now after we talked about it a few weeks back and that’s great. That’s exactly the kind of contribution we want to encourage. We thought, since you are getting older and more capable, we’d look at all the ways you can contribute to our household.” Dad agrees, “Yes, we’d like to help you be successful in taking care of your belongings.”

And then, it happens. She leans back in her chair – as she often does while eating meals – and her snack dribbles down onto the floor. Dad, witnessing this, says in a frustrated tone “Lean! You’ve got to lean!” which is a refrain he utters frequently at dinnertime as the dining room carpet becomes dotted with food crumbs. Mom and Dad watch Molly’s face as the red hue seems to advance from her chin to forehead. And that’s it – conversation over. She springs out of her chair and off – up to her room.

Perhaps this is a familiar scene to you. Though Mom and Dad attempt to communicate as a team, your child may feel outnumbered. Though you may approach the conversation with the best, most constructive intentions, defensiveness may creep up and when it does, your chances of influencing your child’s behaviors are slim to none. It may end in a power struggle. It may end with scolding or yelling, crying or silence, and certainly with frustrations on all sides.

Yet the importance of these discussions throughout your child’s development remains. Yes, they’ll grow more and more capable of taking on responsibilities that they could not attempt in previous years. And not only do you want to make sure that the tasks get accomplished (and you don’t turn into the family nag) but also, you want your child to internalize the desire and skills associated with taking responsibility. So the question becomes, how do you help a child learn to take increasing responsibility for contributing to your household?

There are numerous ways. And I’ll share those tips and helpful tools too. But first, I’ll share the second, far more successful attempt this family took with the responsibility conversation later that day. After Molly stormed to her room, Mom and Dad refilled their coffee (yes, this was a necessary next step!) and sat down to talk with one another about what worked, what didn’t and formulate a game plan.

They framed some aspects of the conversation really well. The snack and sitting together was nice. The clipboard ready for their plan was helpful. Recognizing the ways in which Molly already contributed was key. And Molly seemed pleased and responsive to that recognition. They weren’t scolding nor were they acting like they were starting from scratch. She had a history of positively contributing and her parents were noticing those contributions. But the minute Dad shifted to scolding, the power dynamic changed. Before the comment on leaning, there was shared power. But after, there were sides – the parents versus the child. So the team approach they were trying for failed. As Mom and Dad reflected on this, they talked about how to sustain shared power throughout the conversation. How can we approach Molly so that we invite her feedback and ensure that she’s heard, understood and given a voice and a choice to take ownership of her contributions?

When ready, Mom and Dad went to her room. After ample cooldown time, they asked if they might talk with her again. Mom and Dad sat down lower than Molly to visually show that they were not attempting to dominate her in this conversation. Dad apologized for the nagging and said this was precisely why they were talking about this – so they wouldn’t be tempted to nag her about anything. “How can you decide on the ways you can contribute and we agree as a family?” they asked. “And how can you find ways to remember so that we don’t have to nag?”

Molly was eager to find a way not to be nagged so she helped with creating a list of ways she could take more responsibility. They went through each idea and discussed how she would remember in the moment. The ideas all came from Molly. For leaning over her food at the table during meals, Molly wanted to make a little reminder sign that read, “Please lean” with a smiley face. (Clearly, she wanted a friendly reminder!) And she put a pillow behind her to push her forward in her chair. For screen time limits, she was going to set a timer and shut down the iPad when the timer buzzed. For each responsibility, Molly figured out a way that she could remember either with a sign or an alarm. Mom, Dad, and Molly ended their family conversation with the agreement to work together to make signs and set alarms to get her prepared to be successful.

And so far, Mom and Dad report it has been highly successful (true story!). Molly is keeping up with her chores. And Mom and Dad are making sure to notice and share their appreciation for her actions when they see those helpful behaviors.

Engage intrinsic motivation.
Children and adults alike are intrinsically motivated by feeling a sense of autonomy, belonging and competence. Contributing to the care of your family’s home can meet all three of those needs. As you formulate ways to discuss, consider engaging these forms of motivation to help internalize a sense of responsibility.

Understand developmental appropriateness.
At each age and stage, there are tendencies or trends that align with and can serve as helpful motivation for contributing to the care of your home and family. For examples, four-year-olds love jobs they can do. It makes them feel big and competent. But they may struggle with clumsiness and will have short attention spans. Remember that each time they contribute, they are in training for a lifetime of contribution. Give them short, quick tasks for which they can be successful. For young children, allot more time and make it an enjoyable part of their play. Here are some wonderful cleanup songs you can use to send the signal that it’s clean up time. Making a daily routine of clean up can help ensure success. The following is a printable chart that lists various developmental milestones at particular ages that can support your efforts to involve your child in household responsibilities along with some ideas for task readiness.  Household Responsibilities by Age/Stage Printable Chart

Collaborate as a family team.
Do you notice you gain energy for the work ahead when others are digging in alongside of you? It’s true for kids too. Don’t assign and then, kick back and watch. When it’s time to clean up, when it’s time to do laundry, or whatever the chore, family members who work together will get chores accomplished together. Children will feel a greater sense of motivation to contribute if you are working right alongside them.

Authentically empower.
Be sure you allow your child to take responsibility for a task and complete it themselves. Don’t go behind and fix it if you feel it’s not up to your standards. This does not offer a child the sense of satisfaction of completing a task. And if there are a number of tasks, make a checklist so that your child can check off each when completed.

Be sure your child is adequately prepared to load the dishwasher or set the table. When introducing a new responsibility, try interactive modeling as a way to teach your child how to contribute. We, as parents, often forget that children are still learning many ways of doing things that we take for granted. Interactive modeling can be a way to ensure you are doing what you can to help your child learn the actions necessary to meet your expectations.

From author Margaret Berry Wilson’s book, Interactive Modeling; A Powerful Technique for Teaching Children, we can learn from this simple seven-step process that teachers use in schools. 1

1. Say what you will model and why.
2. Model the behavior.
3. Ask your child what he noticed.
4. Invite your child to model.
5. Ask what he noticed with his own modeling.
6. Practice together.
7. Provide specific feedback starting with strengths using “I notice…”

The following is an example of how this might look between a parent and child. Be certain and pick a time to do this when you do not have time pressures.

1. You might say, “Watch how I play waiter. You can try it after me!” You could wear an apron like a waiter might or put on a name tag.
2. Now set the table as you would like it and as your child watches and you go through the motions, be sure to notice any areas that may pose difficulties for your child such as getting out and placing knives at each place setting. Address those directly. “Since the knives can be dangerous, I’ll do that part of the process each night and you can do the rest.”
3. Ask, “What did you notice when I was acting like a waiter?”
4. You might say, “Okay, your turn to pretend to be the waiter.” Dress him up in the apron and name tag to maintain the fun.
5. After he plays his role ask, “What did you notice when you did it?”
6. Now practice it together. Don’t skip this! It’s important that your child gets the chance to work alongside you while cooperatively going through the process.
7. In providing feedback, be specific and start with strengths. “I noticed you handled the silverware carefully. Terrific! When you put the napkins down, be sure to count so that each person gets one.” If you share too many issues, your child might tune out so pick your top few areas for improvement only.

Brainstorm solutions to challenges.
If you find yourself in a position similar to Molly’s parents where they were hearing themselves regularly nagging to get tasks accomplished, then go back to the drawing board. Brainstorm solutions to specific challenges to eliminate nagging. For more on brainstorming solutions with your child, check out this article.

Recognize and celebrate but don’t bait.
It’s critical to notice and point out when your children are contributing. This may seem insignificant but your words can have a reinforcing effect so that they are much more apt to continue the positive behavior. “I notice you put away your dishes without my asking!” is all you need say. If your family team accomplishes a larger project, going out for ice cream, watching an enjoyable movie, and simply doing a family team cheer can further celebrate your hard work.

Many parents and teachers use reward stickers or charts to guide home contributions trying to incentivize work. Others pay for chores through an allowance or a pay-per-task. Though it may seem an easy solution, it does not help children internalize their role as a caring family member and contributor. It does not send the message, “we contribute to the care of our home because we are part of this family.” Instead, it serves as bait and sometimes may not be enticing enough to keep the motivation high. I tested this with my own son on three different occasions. We brainstormed a list of regular responsibilities and additional ones that could be done for payment. Consistently the ones that were on his regular responsibilities’ list were accomplished and he didn’t touch the other ones. Why? Play was far more important on his agenda. “At any age, rewards are less effective than intrinsic motivation for promoting effective learning” states Alfie Kohn, author of Punished by Rewards; The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise and Other Bribes.2 Why not engage their intrinsic motivation for feelings of autonomy, belonging and competence and work with them on the skills and processes necessary to internalize that sense of responsibility?

You will be teaching your kids how to be a substantial contributor in a family. And that will serve them on school projects, collaborative teams at work and in their own roles as parents someday. It will take patience. But rest assured, practicing responsibility at home is practice for a lifetime of caring contributions.

References:

  1. Wilson, M.B. (2012). Interactive modeling; A powerful technique for teaching children. Turners Falls, MA: Northeast Foundation for Children.
    2. Kohn, A. (1999). Punished by Rewards; The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s, Praise and Other Bribes. NY: Houghton Mifflin.

Originally published March 22, 2018.

Supporting Your Child’s Emotional Well-being Going Back to School

“I’m gonna hold onto this couch and never let go!”
– E. Miller, Age 6

It’s the morning after our summer vacation at the lake. E awoke and said he had had a nightmare. “My school became a haunted village. A ghost dragged me around the grounds. And all of my school friends were at my house playing with my favorite toys.” Though there are still a few weeks until the start of school, he is anticipating, not only the beginning but also the end of his freedom. And he worries about the unknown, faceless teacher who will rule over his days to come. Starting back to school can be an exciting time but as with any transition, it can also be fraught with worry, fear and a sense of loss. How can you best support your children as they go through this annual rite of passage?

Say goodbye to summer.
Summer days are so sweet and fleeting. Perhaps you spend precious family time laughing and enjoying one another in ways that may not occur as often during the hustle of the school year. As a family, find a way to say goodbye to summer. It could be as simple as an ice cream sundae indulgence or a campfire in the backyard. Pitch a tent or simply throw your beach blankets on the grass and stargaze. My husband proposed sharing a slideshow of seasonal photos with the grandparents. While you are savoring those last summer moments, take a moment to reflect on some of your happiest times over the last few months. When did you laugh the most? What were your favorite moments on your travels or local adventures? What animals or plants did you encounter? What activities do you want to repeat next summer?

Create rituals for the ending and beginning.
After finding a way to reflect and enjoy summer’s end together, how will you anticipate all that is positive about starting the school year? In addition to new tools including the fresh smell of a new box of crayons and razor sharp Ticonderoga twos, there are friends with whom to reconnect or perhaps new friends to be made. Haul out a few projects from last year and display them once again to remind your child of the success she has already experienced in school. Make a ritual out of getting school supplies by buying them together and then enjoying a special meal together or engaging in your child’s favorite activity as a family.

Create or recreate your routine.
Part of the annual preparations in our house for the school year is the creation of the morning routine poster. Going over your morning routine can offer great comfort to a child who has not gotten up at the crack of dawn or needed to get dressed and move quickly for months. Don’t expect that they will snap back into the routine easily. Pave the way by discussing how your morning will progress together. Find out what your children’s expectations and hopes are. Writing down your child’s routine formalizes it and helps provide a reminder to return to if there are struggles in those early days of school. Check out the short video “A Smooth Morning Routine” for more ideas about creating a smooth morning routine for your family.

Practice!
Does your child walk to school? Do they take the bus? Offer a practice dry run opportunity to add a feeling of comfort and safety before the first day. Get up at school time. Get dressed and follow your route to school whether it’s walking or driving. If your children take the bus, go to their bus stop and then drive the route to school. Talk about where they might want to sit and how they could introduce themselves to other kids and the bus driver. When you arrive at the empty school yard, walk around and show your child where they will line up or meet their teacher. Then go to your favorite coffee shop or donut house and get a morning snack to add a sense of celebration. Though this practice may seem like an extra step, it will pay off when you witness your child entering the school year with more confidence.

Involve children in preparations.
Work on a calendar for your child’s room and place all of the major events in the school year on it including friends’ birthdays and days off. Engage your child in placing their name in notebooks, on pencil holders and other school tools. Prepare your child’s homework space. Talk about what tools they might need at home and get them organized and ready. Perhaps work together on making a pencil holder (using a well rinsed frozen juice can, paper, glue, stickers and markers) or decorating book covers. Create a binder for papers sent home. Parents often fall into the flurry of preparations and may just check items off the list. Think about how you can involve your child knowing that this will pave the way for them in thinking about the tools and organization they need in order to be successful this school year.

Listen.
Show that you are open and willing to listen during this time of transition. Children will be more likely to share their worries. Perhaps begin a conversation with him about his experience with his last teacher and how he got to know her and like her. Ask questions about rich memories from last school year and offer the space for your child to tell you about his school experiences. If worries emerge in conversation, you, in turn, can address those through practice, involvement and reflection.

Show additional sensitivity.
Children will have heightened emotions during this transition from summer to the first months of the school year. They are adjusting to major changes in their life including new faces and new expectations. Be aware that greater upset about minor issues may indicate anxiety just below the surface. If children are unable to identify or articulate their feelings, offer feeling words and ask if they are accurate: “It sounds like you are worried. Are you worried about having a new teacher or being in a new building?”

For more ideas, check out “Back to School Butterflies.” And if your child is moving from preschool to kindergarten, do check out the article, “In Between Here and There.”

Taking steps to prepare your children through rituals, celebrations, organization, reflection and showing empathy for their situation can contribute to a sense of safety and security in the midst of change. Not only will it help create smooth transitions during each day for your family, but it will also allow your children to enter the school year with an open mind and heart to experience the joy and possibility of learning.

Happy start of the school year!

Originally published August 7, 2014.

Today! Navigating the Transition to College with Social and Emotional Intelligence


Watch Jennifer Miller’s Interview and Find Out What Parents Can Do!

When it comes to making sure your teen is READY for college, it’s very likely you’re thinking about their application, making sure they do campus visits, and that they’re prepared for the SAT. But have you paused to say, “I need to get my kid to be socially and emotionally ready for this” yet? It’s not something parents are necessarily thinking about, yet it’s so important. Jennifer Miller of Confident Parents, Confident Kids will discuss with Dr. Maggie Wray why Emotional IQ is so important for teens heading off to college. Join us to learn…

  • Why it’s critical for your teen to be as emotionally prepared as possible before they head off to college
  • They key social skills for your teen to develop
  • How your teen can begin developing self-awareness, and why it’s so important
  • How to have this conversation with your teen — without getting pushback
  • How to help your teen learn to navigate and process their emotions
And if you want to check out the whole online conference with many more interviews on helping your teen in the transition to college: sign up here! 
This video will be available free until Saturday, July 27th, 2019 at 8:00am EDT.

New Tips and Online Games for Kids to Build Social and Emotional Skills

Check it out!

This week, the team at Centervention interviewed Jennifer Miller of Confident Parents, Confident Kids on ways parents can help children deal with difficult challenges while promoting social and emotional skills. Centervention offers online games for children, kindergarten through twelfth grade to help build social and emotional skills while online. Here are the hot topics we addressed:

Separation Anxiety

Dealing with Anger

Difficulty Making Decisions

Emotional Breakdowns; How to Help Your Child

While you are on their site, check out their online games! Thanks, Centervention for your important work!

“Building Connections with Parents and Educators” — Podcast


How Can Parents and Educators Connect Around Children’s Social and Emotional Learning?

Educator Andrea Samadi has created a new podcast series entitled “Neuroscience meets Social and Emotional Learning.” Jennifer Miller of Confident Parents, Confident Kids was interviewed on her show this week. Whether you are an educator trying to figure out how to connect with parents around children’s social and emotional development or you are a parent wanting to connect with your child’s teacher, we’ll discuss ideas and simple strategies. Watch the video or listen to it as a podcast on iTunes! Thanks Andrea Samadi and Achieve It 360!

 

Join Me! “Your Teen…Ready for College” Online Event

July 19-25, 2019

This special event features interviews with 35 experts (including Jennifer Miller of Confident Parents, Confident Kids!) about the latest trends in college admissions, SAT tutoring, psychology, parenting, study skills, and college essays, and how you can set your child up for success without compromising your values.

Jennifer Miller will be speaking with interviewer and expert Maggie Wray about how to prepare yourself as a parent for the big emotions involved with sending your teen off to college and how to help your teen practice social and emotional skills to be ready for living on their own for the first time and navigating the many complex relationships and anxieties that can come with this major transition.

The entire interview series is online and it’s completely free to attend, all you need to do to get access to the interviews is click here to register.

Interviews will begin airing at 8 am on July 19th, so so grab your FREE ticket HERE and mark your calendar for July 19-25 to make sure you don’t miss it!

Upcoming Institute and Interview with Jennifer Miller


Research partners and parents Shannon Wanless and Jennifer Miller will be facilitating a full day institute pre-conference session on October 2nd, 2019 focused on parenting with social and emotional learning in Chicago at the 2019 SEL Exchange Conference hosted by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). We’ll be sharing our research and quickly turning to the practical as we dialogue about the following questions:

What does social and emotional learning (SEL) look like in the messy, informal context of family life? How do parents access and translate the robust knowledge base from SEL schools to support them in raising confident, responsible children? And how can schools who prioritize social and emotional learning authentically partner with families to maximize our success with the children common to both? The session is nearly full so sign up soon! Learn more here.   

Jennifer Miller is featured today on the CASEL SEL Speaker Blog! Check out the interview…

JENNIFER SMITH MILLER
Q: Why do you believe the SEL field is gaining momentum and how do you hope the SEL Exchange advances that momentum? 
A: When I talk with parents, their biggest concern for their children is not their academic achievement, their technology know-how, or their popularity at school. Parents are most concerned about their children’s emotional well-being. Professionals and families alike are increasingly realizing that in order to help our children gain the inner resources they require to succeed in school, relationships, and their future careers, it’s their social and emotional development we need to focus on.
This is not a trending topic or an educational fad. A focus on SEL in schools and at home is simply bringing us back to our very humanity; the fact that we are beings with hearts, minds, and spirits whose inherent purpose is learning in all areas of our lives. SEL offers… Read the full interview!

*Special thanks to CASEL for the interview, the opportunity to present and for organizing what is shaping up to be a pivotal event!

Special New Book Pre-order Incentive!

The new Confident Parents, Confident Kids book is a unique full color, fully illustrated parenting book that walks parents through the big feelings that accompany each age and stage of development and how they can best support their child through it all. It offers guidance on the temperaments, or emotional tendencies, our children are born with that may differ from parents’ own tendencies. How can a parent support a child who is fearful of new people and situations? Or how can a parent best keep a child safe who dives head first into any new experience? 

This book responds to a whole host of big questions that have been posed by parents over the years with solutions tied to a solid research base so that parents can respond in ways that not only show their love and demonstrate their authentic values but also, manage their own big feelings with emotional intelligence. 

For the month of July, the first three individuals to pre-order the book will also get a one-on-one coaching session with author, Jennifer Miller. This one-hour coaching session — to be held in October, 2019 right before the release of the book — will focus on whatever you most want to focus on related to your parenting challenges. Jennifer will provide support and resources as well as helping you set a small experiment to try out a best practice at home right away.

Here’s what some have said about receiving coaching from Jennifer Miller:

Jennifer has a wonderful ability to listen, reflect, and clarify the issues in families.  She has both a great understanding of the mind eye of children and the challenges of parents as they work to raise well-balanced kids. She helped us to reflect on the behavior we want to model, developing useful tools for stressful situations, and creating real world plans for problem solving.  The process involved a great deal of self reflection and appreciation of what assumptions, beliefs, habits we bring to parenting based on our own experiences.  We are still working to understand the unique people our children are and adjust our parenting styles to fit their individual needs.”

“I was growing distant from my son. He was pushing me away and I was frequently angry with him wanting to be more involved. Jennifer helped me prioritize cultivating trust between us and he opened up to me about problems he was having I was totally unaware of. I’m relieved to be able to help him.”

“My daughter was struggling with frustration tantrums in school and the teachers telling me she was disruptive. Jennifer taught me some strategies to help her expand her emotional vocabulary. At parent-teacher conferences, her teacher told me they noticed that my daughter was able to calm down quicker and articulate what she was feeling. They didn’t know what I had been working on at home.”

To take advantage of this incentive, please send a screen shot of your proof of purchase to confidentparentsconfidentkids@gmail.com with the subject line: “incentive.” The first three to pre-order will receive a confirmation and set of times/dates to schedule a coaching session with Jennifer Miller.

Pre-order “Confident Parents, Confident Kids: Raising Emotional Intelligence In Ourselves and Our Kids — From Toddlers to Teenagers!”

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