The Best of 2015
2015 was a significant year of growth for Confident Parents, Confident Kids. Check out all of the additions to this site and other sites and organizations in my year in review. Then I’ve listed the top most popular articles of the year. Hope you’ll check out the ones you may have missed. I am truly grateful for your participation as a reader and contributor to this critical dialogue about how we can be the best parents for our children. Happy New Year and much more to come in 2016!
This year, Jennifer Miller of Confident Parents, Confident Kids…
- Expanded from a blog to a full site with regular free resources for kids and parents including links to global discovery resources for kids, reviews of books, games and apps that are developmentally appropriate and socially and emotionally enriching and much more.
- Launched a YouTube Channel with new video shorts to illustrate concepts in simple, enjoyable ways.
- Launched Confident Parents Academy where readers can become members and participate in webinars, receive weekly tools and tips and gain direct coaching on their parenting challenges.
- Contributed to the book, “Smart Parents; Parenting for Powerful Learning” by Bonnie Lathram, Carri Schneider and Tom Vander Ark through Thomas Vander Ark’s Getting Smart; Smart Parents Series.
- Published articles in the Huffington Post, on the NBC Parent Toolkit, Getting Smart, Smart Parents’ series and on Ashoka’s Changemaker Series on Medium.
- Was followed by 21,926 individuals and organizations and viewed 28,000 times with visitors from 152 countries around the world.
- Highlighted in the Deseret National News.
- Created a clothing line with heart and social and emotional development themes through VIDA, a socially responsible textile maker.
- Contributed to Twitter Chats and Google Hangouts with NBC’s Parent Toolkit, Harvard’s Richard Weissbourd and the Making Caring Common Project and Girl Leadership.
- Collaborated with Roger Weissberg of the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning and Shannon Wanless of University of Pittsburgh advancing resources with a research base for parents.
- Collaborated with Kimberly Allison and Ashley Kolbeck to produce new site. And I owe much thanks to my editor, known to me as Mom, who contributes her significant talents to ensuring all articles are of the highest quality twice a week all year long. Thank you, Linda Smith!
Here are the most popular articles of 2015.
A Family’s Emotional Safety Plan
We plan for the uncertainty of a fire in our homes with smoke alarms and exit strategies. And it’s important since one in four homes will have a big enough fire to necessitate calling the fire department. But what about emotional fires? Every single one of us will be overcome with anger, fear or anxiety at some point. If you never knew you had a temper, your children will introduce it to you. And those moments of intensity are our true tests of character. How will we react when our brains are in fight or flight mode? Without thought or planning, we risk lashing out at our loved ones and not only disrupting our routine but also our foundation of trust. And we have to live with the guilt and regret that comes with it. But what if we simply planned for those moments and discussed how we were going to cool down with our families? We could have the chance to bring our best selves to most testing times in life. Read full article.
The Power of Parenting with Social and Emotional Learning (in The Huffington Post)
On the one hundredth day of school, my son’s teacher morphed each first grade child’s photograph into an elderly individual with the facial lines of life experience and asked, “What do you want to be like when you are 100?” My son wrote in response, “I want to be kind to kids.” And I immediately thought, “Yes, me too.” It seems simple. But is it? As parents, we want to prepare our kids to be successful in life but figuring out what that means and what steps can be taken toward that intention each day seems anything but simple. Yet the question of what it takes to prepare kids for success is worth asking. A recent survey from NBC’s Parent Toolkit using the Princeton Survey Research Associates International found that the majority of U.S. parents interviewed ranked social and communication skills as the most important to build success for school and life even beyond academic grades. National experts would agree and offer greater detail on what those skills are. Read full article.
Seize the Moment – Random Acts of Kindness Week
When my son E turned seven in September, we hosted a party with all of his friends at our local park. I created a treasure hunt with clues hidden behind the many trees so that children could run, enjoy a game and find treasure at the end of their searches. In my party planning, however, I hadn’t considered younger siblings who might be along with their parents. As the older children discovered their goody bags with their names carefully printed on the front, a young girl emerged from the pack with tears welling in her eyes. “There’s no bag for me.” she uttered. While I swiftly and silently began to beat myself up mentally for not planning ahead, for not thinking this through, for not creating extra favors, I heard, “Here, you can have mine.” I stopped my panic long enough to look over and watch one of E’s dearest friends, a girl whose imagination, legs and mouth rarely stop (“How does she breathe?”) gently offer her bag to the little girl whose face lit up. She skipped around in elated happiness while I stood dumbstruck. I think I uttered, “Wow, thank you.” to our good friend. And then I returned to beating myself up. But in retrospect, I realized that if I had planned extras, there would not have been this opportunity for our friend to shine like a star. That moment has stayed with me. It was a gift. Read the full article.
Stop, Think, Go!
“He messed with my stuff while I was gone. My Lego set is broken. Moooooooom!” cries Zachary about his brother. Sibling rivalry is a common family problem. Mom could fix it. “Go help your brother fix his Lego set.” Or she could help her children learn valuable skills in problem solving. These opportunities for practicing critical life skills happen daily if you look for them. Collaborative problem solving is not one skill alone but requires a whole host of skills including self-control and stress management, self-awareness of both thoughts and feelings, perspective taking and empathy, listening and effectively communicating, goal setting, anticipating consequences and evaluating actions. Roger Weissberg, one of the top leaders in the field and Chief Knowledge Officer for the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) and my mentor, ongoing collaborator and friend agreed to share the Traffic Light model that he and his colleagues created at Yale University with the New Haven Public Schools. The Social Development Project affected the lives of countless children in one of the poorest districts in the country. Students learned, practiced and used these skills in role playing and real life settings over and again making the development of these social skills a part of the culture and expectations of that school system. Read the full article.
Coaching as a Tool for Raising a Confident Kid
Coaching can be a powerful way to help our children become more self-aware while understanding their thoughts and feelings and how they impact their behavior choices. It can also give them valuable practice in problem solving and responsible decision making. Similar to a sports coach, the parent coach expresses confidence that his child will succeed in his efforts. But in contrast to a sports coach, parent coaching is not focused on the technique (HOW our child solves the problem) nor attached to the outcome. It is about helping a child think through their own solutions to a problem. Our kids come to us with problems regularly. And so often, in the busyness of the day, we respond with a solution. And though our hurried response may help them clean up the mess of the moment, it does not prompt them to think for themselves about their problems, how they are feeling and their options for moving forward. There are two conversations below in which the same issue is addressed. The first is a possible hurried response. The second takes a coaching approach. Read the full article.