Anger in Families: Understanding It and Teaching Children to Manage It

“That’s mine!” Sophie heard her daughter scream at her younger sibling from the next room. As Sophie turned her attention to the unfolding scene, she saw her upset child swipe a doll out of the hands of her sister and hit her across the shoulder. What should Sophie do next?

Young children, as they begin the negotiations of playing with others, particularly in preschool and kindergarten, get angry and frustrated but are unsure how to manage their feelings. It’s common for children to lash out or run away or melt down in a puddle of angry tears. In addition to not knowing how to handle their big feelings, the upset can be compounded by the fact that they do not yet have the emotional vocabulary at the ready to clearly articulate what they are experiencing. In considering how to teach young children how to manage anger, it helps to combat some myths or misperceptions about this sometimes feared, and often avoided emotion.

Anger Misconceptions

We tend to believe anger is…

  • bad or negative and avoid or shut down the experience of it. There’s good reason for it. We have all experienced someone(s) in our lives who has lost control and acted in ways that harm themselves or others when angry. However, we know that every emotion, including anger, serves a critical purpose. It provides information about who we are, what emotional or physical needs are not getting met, and where our boundaries lie.
  • expressing anger such as yelling will dissipate it. In fact, research confirms that the expression of aggression whether it’s yelling or hitting (and that includes for parents, spanking) exacerbates the anger.1 Our bodies produce a surge of energy through hormones when angry that gives us a jolt if we need to run from a tiger or fight an attacker. When we yell or hit, more of those hormones are produced so that instead of a single jolt, our bodies refill with more angry energy.
  • venting such as complaining, ranting or even mumbling gets out the upset thoughts and feelings. In fact, venting is to anger as rumination is to worry. We can churn through worrying thoughts in our minds repeatedly but those thoughts go nowhere and ultimately, are unproductive. So too venting, whether we are listing off our complaints to another or talking to ourselves, tends to reinforce our negative thinking. That’s because it does not offer an alternative view of the situation nor does it pose any solutions. Because venting doesn’t change thinking, the feeling persists.
  • avoiding or pretending you are not angry will make it go away. Because the emotion – like any other emotion – is emerging to send a vital message to its owner, it cannot be avoided or denied. When turned inward, that anger can become destructive in the body. Also, when anger is buried, it can be stuffed down for a time but may contribute to a larger explosion (that may not have occurred otherwise) because of the build-up of heated emotions over time.

Your young child is learning to respond to her emotions primarily by watching how you respond to your own emotions. Because modeling is her first teacher, there are a few steps you can take to deal with your own anger. By adopting these practices, you can feel confident that you are simultaneously teaching your children how to deal with their own upset.

How You Can Model…

Recognize your anger.
This self-awareness can come from a number of cues. First, notice – how does your body typically react when you are mad? Do your ears turn red and hot? Do your hands shake? Does your heart beat rapidly? Those physical symptoms – different in every person – can cue you to the need to calm down before choosing your next words or actions. Are you raising or lowering your voice volume? Notice the signs, discuss what signs your child notices and take the following steps.

Breath first.
Slowing down your breathing serves a critical biological function. It allows those hormones that have surged from your anger to recede. Your body is able to regain its composure. And your brain is able to think beyond fight, flight or freeze. Practice deep breathing audibly. If you’ve practiced yoga, try using ujjayi breathing (or “ocean breath”) in which you breathe deeply through your nose while constricting your throat slightly producing a sound like the waves of the sea. Not only will the sound help calm you, but it will also emphasize and call attention to your breath for your young child to observe.

Use strange calm.
Switch into slow motion. Use the burst of energy to become extremely slow and intentional about using your body. Drop down to the floor or in a chair. Close your eyes. Breath and go within to regain your calm. No matter what chaos is happening around you, you can be assured that you will accomplish nothing – except perhaps to make matters more contentious – by reacting in an angry moment. To learn more, check out the article.

Walk outside.
Yes, the fresh air does help you breath better and the natural surroundings are instantly calming. If you cannot get away, just walk into your yard and pace around your patch of grass. Look up in the trees. A few moments can help restore your grounding.

Distract.
Research has found that distraction really does work to calm rage. Books, television, or movies can help. That’s because they focus your mind on a differing perspective and remove the thoughts that are feeding the anger. But be careful not to rely on this as your only strategy since it can serve as an avoidance mechanism too. If you use distraction, then after you’ve calmed down, use the next step – writing – or talking with a confidante to reframe your thinking to understand what you can learn from your current challenge.

Write.
Writing down your angry thoughts (versus ruminating in your head about them) can offer you a chance to re-evaluate your situation. You can reframe it, look at it from another perspective or search for the silver lining. When you reflect in your writing on what you can learn from the situation, it has a calming effect.

Young children will require practice with new strategies for dealing with their angry emotions. So make a game out of the practice! Go through the steps as a family team. Or engage your child in learning it in order to teach the game to a stuffed friend. Either way, use the teaching of understanding and managing anger as subject for play. Then when she is upset, you only need remind her of her practice. The main points you want to emphasize in your teaching are:

  • Emotions are helpful signs from ourselves that we need to pay attention to our needs.
  • We know when we are feeling angry when we feel the signs in our body. Find out what your child’s signs tend to be.
  • Using feelings words helps us feel better and helps others understand us.

How You Can Guide and Teach…

  1. Move to privacy and safety.

So often, our children melt down in the least convenient places. Whether it’s at the grocery store or in the preschool parking lot, we are often in the midst of moving through our daily routine in public and not at home. That’s why this first step is important. Young children are becoming increasingly aware of peers and the perceptions of people around them. Though they may lose emotional control, their upset may grow more intense as they feel embarrassed they are “losing it” around friends, teachers or strangers. So practice joining hands and moving to a safe, private space closest to where you are. You never want to have to drag a child or force them to move. For that reason, this practice is essential. You could position yourself in various places during your game and say, “Where can we go to be safe and alone?” When you are at the store or at a restaurant (any usual place your family frequents), try it out when all are calm and make it a part of the game.

2. Breathe.

There are numerous ways you can teach your child to deeply breathe. You could begin by simply placing your hand on your own heart feeling it beat and encouraging your child to do the same. Now run in place a few minutes and feel again as it beats more quickly. Explain that you’ll have a faster heartbeat when you’re upset. But as you practice any one of these breathing games, your heartbeat will slow down again. Here are a few methods.

  • Hot Chocolate breathing

Pretend to hold your hot cup of cocoa in both hands in front of you. Breathe in deeply the aroma of the chocolate. And then blow out to cool it in preparation for drinking. Do this to the count of five to give your child practice. Then, look for chances to practice it regularly.

  • Teddy Bear Belly breathing

Blissful Kids wrote this wonderful article on teaching deep belly breathing by balancing a teddy bear on a child’s tummy and giving it a ride with the rising and falling of her breath. Great idea! This would be ideal to practice during your bedtime routine when you are lying down and wanting to calm down for the evening.

  • Blowing Out Birthday Candles breathing

You can pretend you are blowing out candles on a birthday cake. Just the image in your head of a birthday cake brings about happy thoughts. And in order to blow out a number of small flames, you have to take in deep breaths. This is one you can try anywhere, anytime.

  • Ocean breathing

Practice making the noise of the sea waves while breathing deeply from your diaphragm. Close your eyes with your child and imagine that your anger is a fiery flame waiting on a sandy shore. And as you breathe life into the ocean waves, they grow closer and closer to the flame to extinguish it. Check out my poster for a home or classroom on ocean wave breathing!

  • Play Turtle

In the research-based social and emotional learning curriculum for schools, the PATHS (Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies) curriculum encourages children to pretend they are a turtle. When they are upset, they can sink back into their shells (they can place their arms over their head) and breath inside the shelter of their own arms to regain calm before re-entering their environment. This could inspire wonderful play with young children and stir their vivid imagination of what it might look like and feel like when they are calming down.

I’ve also created a poster to help adults remember to take deep breaths each morning before starting their day.

3. Distract, Reflect and/or Reframe.
There may be times when distraction works better than other times. Guiding a child to sit with an engaging picture book, an activity book or a puzzle can be a way to distract from the upset of the moment. Drawing or writing can also serve as calming activities. But if your child has shown big feelings – anger, frustration, sadness, anxiety – be sure that you return to discuss it. Ask what she’s feeling and name it. “It seemed like you were frustrated. Is that right?” That will offer her the chance to identify and articulate her feelings. Find out why she was feeling upset. Offer some alternative perspectives and help her reframe her own thoughts to see a bigger picture if possible.

This is the time to brainstorm other ways to handle a problem situation. Could she and her sister set a timer and take turns playing with the doll, for example? Challenge yourself to find and offer a compassionate perspective whether that means guiding your child to think empathetically about other children in the situation or to seek self-compassion for her situation. When you are practicing this particular step, have your child use a stuffed friend to reflect on the situation. Ask her to tell her bear what happened, what she was feeling, what she was thinking and how she might help her bear feel better.

Anger can challenge any of us to act with the emotional intelligence we ideally want to possess. The trick is becoming aware, stopping the escalation and calming down before we have fully lost our sensibilities. The hope and opportunity (and also, the challenge) is that our young children are watching and learning. If we avoid the chance to get angry and deal with it, then we lose the chance to show our children what it looks like to regulate our emotions. If we practice, plan and remind ourselves about the ways in which we’ll act and how we’ll calm down, we’ll be prepared to model an essential life skill and know we can face our greatest parenting challenges with a plan at the ready.

 

*Thank you, collaborator, R. Keeth Matheny, co-author of School Connect, a research-based high school social and emotional learning curriculum, for raising this issue.

Resource:

Lerner, H. (2014). The dance of anger; A woman’s guide to changing the patterns of intimate relationships. NY: Harper and Row.

Reference:

Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional intelligence; Why it can matter more than IQ. NY: Bantam Books.

Originally published March 17, 2017.

On NTD News…”Parent-Teacher Bond to Teach Social, Emotional Learning”

Recently, the following news story aired on NTD News emphasizing that 1.) schools are increasingly focusing on children’s social and emotional development, and 2.) children will benefit from social and emotional learning in a broader and deeper way if parents, children’s first social and emotional teachers, are meaningful partners in the education process. Thank you, Journalist Melina Wisecup! Check it out…

Parent-Teacher Bond to Teach Social, Emotional Learning

The Reviews Are In!

Here’s what readers are saying about the new book, “Confident Parents, Confident Kids: Raising Emotional Intelligence In Ourselves and Our Kids — From Toddlers to Teenagers.” Thank you to the readers who submitted an Amazon review. The reviews offer alternative perspectives from a diverse range of parents (mostly unknown to the author) that helps others discover the book. Read below and if you haven’t gotten the book yet, it may just be that time! Also, if you are an educator who is working on social and emotional learning in your school, consider proposing the book as a study for your school family community. Learn more here! Check out what people are saying…

Insightful and Actionable Read for Fathers:

I’m a father of two. A eight year old son and six year old daughter. Too often I find myself losing patience with my little ones and knew there had to be a better way than what I was doing. Well that brought me to this book. I loved this. I’m not one for parenting books but this one was fact based, and actionable. I took pages of notes, and am already applying this to our little household. This is a wonderful book.

– Almost Mike

Practical:

I have worked with teenagers my whole adult life and thought I had a pretty good handle on kids until I had my own. I quickly discovered that the emotions of the little ones are out of my expertise. This has been really good at making me slow down and look at my parenting approach. I was able to use some of the advice already with my emotional six-year-old and I believe it helped both of us calm down and understand the situation better. Some of the advice may seem obvious, but it’s stuff you don’t really think of until you actually apply it in the moment. While reading this I had a lot of “OH!” moments that I couldn’t wait to share with my husband. I’ve had a few occasions where just taking a moment to breath and assess my son’s feelings helped diffuse the situation. I’d say that if you have a child who is overly emotional this book will help you understand him/her better. I was never an emotional child and I just didn’t understand how I was “blessed” with such a tender hearted one. I’m grateful to have stumbled upon this book.

– Frankie and Chet

Informative and Helpful:

After our second child was born, I noticed my daughter was struggling with her feelings and behavior. Our son was born with a CHD and needed open heart surgery at a week old, and because of that we were in the hospital for a month and have had some issues with his progression since then. Which meant adjusting to having a sibling has been a bit more difficult than it would be if we had no issues with our second child.

This book has given me a better understanding on how to get my daughter to express her feelings and filter them appropriately. It has also given me the ability to know how to help my daughter be more confident with herself and her emotions. I believe it has changed the way she acts out and expresses her emotions. I have seen an improvement in her behavior and how she handles herself. Instead of just crying or throwing a fit, we are able to talk through what she is feeling and thinking. Granted, because she is only 6, there’s still some tantrums here and there but far less intense and often as they were before. I finally feel like I have a better grip on “handling” my daughter, if that makes sense. I also believe she now knows that I am here for her, and I do want to hear what she has to say and what she is experiencing. I will be able to carry these “tools and tips” onto my son as he gets older!

– V. Anderson

New Parent Enjoyed Reading this Book!

Kids should come with a manual. They don’t however. So I spend a lot of time reading on different milestones and behaviors to see if my son fits societal’s “norm”. When I saw the title I knew I wanted to read this. I wouldn’t say I’m a confident parent because I literally have been winging this every day since he was born… so I thought wow maybe I need more confidence to raise confidence.

I appreciate the different concepts being put in a cartoon form for understanding purposes. I can see how other people feel it may be too simplistic, but it makes it easy to digest the information you’re getting. There was a few concepts in the book that I immediately wanted to share with my husband, because often we don’t realize the emotional tone we’re bringing in a situation yet don’t understand why our children are acting up.

Both my husband and I work in high stress jobs and have realized we can’t bring home any of that stress home… easier said than done… but it’s an important concept for is to work on and one we often didn’t realize were doing.

I appreciated the book and I appreciate learning from different sources. Print quality was great and I definitely will use this book as a reference for awhile.

– Amanda Nichole

Worth reading to help your children develop emotional maturity:

I came from a home where academic success was valued. I was successful and I emphasized this with my children. It is easy to ask for and get measurable things from our kids, so we tend to focus on those, but this book talks about developing emotional intelligence–something that may drop to the bottom of our lists because we don’t know how to do it. To develop emotional intelligence, we can focus on our own emotional maturity and develop our child’s at the same time.

Author Jennifer S. Miller uses an abundance of illustrations, many of them musical in nature, and her middle section is divided by age: infants to 3-year-olds, 4- to 7-year-olds, 8- to 12-year-olds, and 13- to 17-year-olds. I am impressed with a lot of her input. Her section on helping babies sleep was pretty common knowledge, but other sections give lots of practical suggestions regarding how to create a helpful environment and interact mindfully and maturely to help children develop emotional resilience.

If you are serious about parenting, you probably read lots of books. This is one that is worth adding to your list to help you develop good, but unmeasurable emotional maturity in your children.

– E. Burton

If you’re new to the idea of “emotional intelligence,” this is a great primer.

I’m a neuroscience/psychology geek, so a lot of the ideas in this book were familiar to me. But I like the way they were presented (very readable and accessible) and I like the way the book gave specific examples and approaches to implement them. The book is broken down further into age groups, which is helpful. I do wish the author would have broken down the 13-17 age group even further, because middle schoolers and, say, a junior in high school are VERY different- a lot of change and personal evolution takes place during those years, and it would have been helpful to have a set of parameters for a middle schooler and then another set for an older teenager as they prepare to go to college (or whatever their next step is).

Regardless, this was a good book, and I think for those who are looking to understand and empower their kids (and learn a bit about the emotions of a parent, as well), it’s a great read.

– C.M. and T.M.

What I like most about this book is that the title delivers on its promise:

What I like most about this book is that the title delivers on its promise. I am a much more confident parent of a tween after having read this book. It seems as if one evening I was the mother of an easily satisfied young boy and the next morning I was the mother of a more complicated tween, testing the boundaries on everything, reforming beliefs and opinions and renegotiating relationships with himself and others. He’s a wonderful boy that I want to grow up into a confident and socially intelligent young man. I want to help him navigate his emotions and the complex social world in any way I can. I’ve implemented many of the suggestions in this book. I am grateful to Jennifer Miller for writing it.

– Kindle Customer

Great informational read:

This book is packed full of psychological and developmental tidbits so that parents not only are told what to do but they understand the why. Despite being so packed full of knowledge, it is done in tidbits spread throughout the book making it an easy read. This book should be a must for new parents as it covers both emotional intelligence AND social skills. Confidence is the best indicator of success in life, NOT intelligence. This book teaches the ultimate backbone of parenting. And it does it for every age group. You can read the book cover to cover or skip the ages that no longer apply to your children. This makes it an even easier read.

– mom2howmany

Insightful:

As a parent, grandparent, and teacher, I found this book to be deeply inspiring and insightful. Inspiring because it talks to parents about looking at their child directly in a way many have difficulty with. We have always struggled to see our children separate from ourselves. But this is a learned skill and one that is so important. My youngest would say I haven’t learned it.

I found a lot of things to think about while working with and living with teenagers. They are so complicated and yet they see everything. Learning to speak with their own voices is a powerful lesson. It is one we all learn.

– Trouble

Must read for parents:

This book is a must read for parents – new, old, male, female. Teaching parents to be confident in their craft, to raise confident children and to completely transform their way of thinking is really an amazing thing. If I could, I would recommend this book to most parents that I know. I thnk that the tools in this book are under utilized by many!

– Paigii

Practical with great implementable advice:

As an educator who is researching Social-Emotional Learning and a parent of a 4 and 6 year old, this book is perfect. The book explains very well our natural tendencies based on our own experiences but also gives practical advice on how to support without enabling your child. Great read for educators and parents alike.

– Adam Shields

On National PTA’s “Our Children” Blog… “Ask An Expert: How to Handle Your Kid’s Bad Habits”

The National PTA’s Podcast Series “Notes from the Backpack” hosted CPCK’s Jennifer Miller to discuss how to raise confident kids. In our dialogue, we discussed real life challenges of parents who were dealing with bad habits their children had started to demonstrate. One parent was upset that her child was calling other children names. Another parent was hearing from the teacher that her child struggled with self-control in class and kept interrupting the teacher and would not wait his turn. And yet another parent was concerned that her daughter was complaining frequently and not showing appreciation for the goodness in her life. I’ve included the podcast episode here and the article begins…

When our child display unhealthy habits, we often fret about how to redirect their actions, so they learn how to be a productive citizen and thrive in the world. But how do you address these bad habits and teach your child to independently choose better actions?

In a recent episode of Notes from the Backpack: A PTA Podcast, we spoke to Jennifer Miller, expert and author of Confident Parents, Confident Kids, to get her advice on how families can address everyday struggles—and help the whole family build social and emotional skills in the process.

Q: My 10-year-old son has started calling people stupid, including strangers. We don’t use that language at home, so we think he’s picking it up from school. What should we do?

Read the full article on the Our Children National PTA Blog.

A Valentine to Mothers: Our Love and the Journey Home to Our Whole Selves

“I cannot think of one minute except maybe my shower in the morning,” responded one Mom when asked how much time she spent on herself each day and not working or caring for her children or husband. The expectations of a Mom’s role are frequently all-consuming and never enough. And those expectations likely come from our family, our wider culture, and also the inner voice of “not enough” that enslaves us. The tasks of keeping up a household, caring for children, and being responsive to a spouse can seem endless and often times, unrecognized or appreciated. After all, it’s the most challenging unpaid job in the world.

Yet we, as Mothers, commit our whole selves to our family because we know that our core of intimate others create a sense of well-being and health for each other that is unparalleled with any other relationships in our lives. Being a mother can offer us a sense of meaning and purpose like no other. But just as we can feel overloaded by too much coffee or too much media, we can create purpose-burn out with too much mothering.

So how do we address the Mom burn? If we feel worn from our role too often, then we know that we are going to react with less patience with each oncoming challenge. If we attempt to manage the burn out through repression (a.k.a. “I don’t have time to feel this!”) then we know that an explosion of anger or frustration is not far off. 

“I’m still hungry! Can I get some home-made peanut butter crackers!” This interruption was brought to you by my twelve-year-old son for a slice of reality in the midst of my writing. “Water! I need water too!” Now back to finding our whole selves!

The original title of this article was the journey back to her whole self but we know we cannot go back. Forward is the only way through. There is no past self of our twenties or thirties, some fresh-of-hair, fresh-of-face, fresh-of-attitude girl we can bring into the now. And if we face the truth, we wouldn’t want to. There’s so much she didn’t know or understand about what it means to be human. We may be sadder but we certainly are wiser.

Carol Gilligan, a change-making thinker and developmental psychologist who developed a theory of moral development that included the feminine perspective called the Ethic of Care, suggested that it’s more difficult for women than men to affirm their individuation needs because of the enormous expectations of family relationships. But women who chose the path of self-sacrifice suffer themselves and cause harm to their children and partner because that sacrifice is life-sucking and not sustainable or nourishing. Children need parents who have a sense of agency, who feel confident in understanding, developing, and refining who they are and why they are here on this planet. 

Women feel like we are not enough. We don’t have enough credentials or experience in our jobs because we take time off to care for our children. We cannot possibly do parenting well enough because there seems to be evidence in every book, article, and disapproving look from neighbors and relatives that prove we are screwing it all up. So where’s the grace for us? And where’s the space – yes, physical space but also, the mental space to discover now who we are? Because we aren’t who we were when we gave birth to our first child. We are very different. But how many of us have had time to truly reflect and explore the vital question: “Who am I now?”

In answer to the question: how do we escape Mom burn out, we must answer the question “who are we now? What do we most care about? What breaks our hearts? What might we die for? And how can we live those ideals and values each day while nourishing our essential-to-the-whole-operation-of-family hearts? This is the beginning of finding a home in our whole selves. But that discovery will require supports and intentionality from not just ourselves but our family members too. This is a work-in-progress for me so as usual, I’m taking you along for the ride. We can support one another through dialogue. Here are some ideas and I hope you’ll share yours too!

Accept that it’s normal but don’t rest there. This is a challenge most mothers face. Yet we beat ourselves up for our big feelings including our anxiety, depression and exhaustion. But what good does that do? We may also end up taking it out on those we love the most. Again, what good does that do? Realizing this was a part of our core Mom training through our own upbringing and our cultural models is key to changing the pattern. We are part of a big Mom club and we alone are responsible for changing the rules. Once we wake up to the fact that we are sacrificing our very selves to the detriment of all then we must change. Self-care is necessary. Feeling a sense of our own power and agency is critical.

Keep daily mindfulness sacred. Yes, mindfulness is the buzz word of the day but what does it practically mean for us as mothers? It’s as simple and as difficult as carving out ten minutes (really you don’t need more but if you can carve out more, great!) to simply breathe. Turn off your phone. Leave your littles safe in a crib during nap time or plan for that time just after dropping off kids at school. If you catch yourself lining up your to-do list, gently and kindly move back to focusing on breathing. Realize that this meditation is a gift to your own effectiveness and to your children and partner. Then, how can you bring yourself into the present moment during the day? These tiny gifts of being here now will begin to heal our broken hearts.

Say no when it’s too much. This is much easier written than done. However, if we make a point of noting how many “yes-es” we utter, surely we are permitted more “no-s.” We are not talking about reinforcing the rules for your child but reinforcing the critical boundaries for your own sense of self-respect. When a child or a partner asks us for something that will require our time and hard work and our chest gets tight, our teeth clench, stop. Pause and ask, “is this something they can do for themselves?” If so, delegate! If not, recognize this will contribute to your burn out (as evidenced by your big feelings). Is it worth an explosion later? If not, say “no.”

Live in the now. This is so much harder than it sounds if you’ve tried. Moms are the social planners, the logistics coordinators, the future problem-fixers. How can we live in the now if we have to attend to the many details required of family members? I believe the answer is discipline – our own. We have to leave our phones behind at times. We have to be present to homework (even though we’d rather be just about anywhere else). Creating those in-the-now moments means that we are authentically experiencing the life that we claim we value so much and gives us purpose and meaning. After we have acted with discipline focusing on the now, we receive the nourishment of fully feeling the moment.

Accept feelings. We fight and we fight and we fight any feeling that is going to take our time, that is going to require new actions or changes. We fight. And that’s a whole lotta energy that we could be using on more creative endeavors. But what if we said, “okay, I’m feeling fearful? I don’t like it. I want to change it. But okay. Here I am.” Breathe through that one and see if it doesn’t lead you to the next moment a little calmer.

Withdraw to reflect. With the laundry piling up around you, it is impossible to reflect on the bigger questions in your life. Impossible. So if we are going to reflect on the big question of who we are now, we must get out of our home. Getting into nature helps create more space in our brain, room for the big ideas. And separation from the people and responsibilities of our household is a must. It doesn’t have to be more than once a year, but how can we retreat away from our daily lives to a place that feels nourishing and quiet? How can we create the space to do this necessary reflection?

Read wisdom. How can we possibly become wiser if we don’t read more from those who have struggled and persisted? How can you seek and find greater wisdom from those sources who challenge and inspire you? It’s critical that we discover our own sources of truth and offer ourselves regular, steady doses like vitamins of the soul.

Find and act on creative impulses. Whether you have squelched every creative impulse in you in service of family or you still feel that life blood running through your veins, it’s there. You just have to allow it to flow out of you into whatever the art form or creative endeavor might be that gives you a sense of timelessness and joy. “What will others think? Will they think my product is worthy?” Yes, you are already playing the deadening soundtrack in your head that stops creativity at its source. Don’t do it. Follow, flow, feel nourished without need to show or share with anyone. Know that it will feed your soul and in turn, your children’s and your partner’s.

I realize this is only the start to coming home to our whole selves of the now. But this is a start. And really, that’s a step forward. This is my love letter to you, Mom Readers. Wishing you the nourishment that your biggest-of-hearts deserves and requires to fulfill your role as a confident parent. Happy Valentine’s Day!

On PBS Kids… “6 Steps to Help Your Child Develop Self-Control”

In partnership with PBS’s Thirteen WNET, Confident Parents, Confident Kids wrote for PBS Kids in support of the new Parenting Minutes video on “Sharing Feelings.” The article begins…

“I call base!” my son would say frequently after he was introduced to the game of tag. If he wanted to end the tickling or stop the chasing, he would claim a piece of furniture or the staircase banister as his safe haven. No one could touch him there. And he relished in the power and security it afforded him.

In the Parenting Minutes video on Sharing Feelings, Helena and Andrew created a safe zone at bedtime for their daughter Liya in which they could talk about any feelings she’d experienced that day. They offered their empathy without judgment as a way of settling down and reflecting on the day. That opportunity gave Liya practice with identifying and articulating her feelings and honing her ability to practice self-control. When these skills are practiced at home, children are more likely to internalize them and use them at school to aid in focusing on the learning at hand. Read the full article on the PBS Kids’ site.

Quarto Author Chats – Jennifer Miller on “Confident Parents, Confident Kids”

 

 


Hope you’ll give a listen to the podcast interview with Mel Schuit of Quarto Knows Publishing Group and Jennifer Miller who talks about her new book, “Confident Parents, Confident Kids: Raising Emotional Intelligence In Ourselves and Our Kids — From Toddlers and Teenagers.Quarto is committed to publishing beautiful, creative books for curious, passionate minds and does so in a highly collaborative manner. Learn more about how to raise confident kids and about the inspiration and ideas you’ll discover in the new book. Hope you check out this new podcast interview!

Quarto Author Chats — Jennifer Miller on “Confident Parents, Confident Kids”

 

Join the Preschool Mindfulness Summit! Starting today…


Starting today, I hope you’ll join me for the Preschool Mindfulness Summit hosted by author and educator Helen Maffini. This free online event involves experts in education, parenting and psychology who will discuss how we can help our children learn to focus their attention, learn how to care for themselves and their emotions, and also show compassion for others. The topics addressed are relevant, practical and enticing including:

  • Self-Compassion for Parents, Teachers, and Educators with Kristin Neff
  • Educating Mindful Minds With Rick Hanson
  • Talking to Preschoolers about the Brain with Liz Frink
  • Mindful Parenting with Genevieve Von Lob
  • Attuning to Children’s Unique Melodic Theme: Identifying and Understanding Children’s Temperaments to Build Social and Emotional Skills and Caring Relationships with Jennifer Miller (Interview live this Thursday, Feb. 6th!)

As our understanding of our children and mindfulness evolves, this dialogue is a tremendous value for parents and educators alike to raise questions and offer research-linked practices. Hope you’ll join!

Sign up FREE here! 

How Parents and Teachers Working Together on Class Parties Can Inspire Social and Emotional Learning Opportunities

by Guest Author, Lindsay Weiner

I’m often asked about how parents and teachers can collaborate and create social emotional learning (SEL) opportunities for children. The truth is, SEL opportunities exist in every corner of the classroom. Take seasonal classroom holiday parties like Valentine’s coming up as an example. Typically, this parent-led party involves a combination of a read-aloud, a craft-making, and a snack.  The kids enjoy it—it is a party, after all—but there is something missing from the typical party formula: the opportunity to bring intention and meaning to this tradition.

Why not rethink your child’s classroom parties in an SEL-inspired way and develop an experience that is more enriching and meaningful?

This past December, together with my child’s third grade teacher and the other class parents, we did just that. While we debated different activities, including writing letters to children in hospitals or soldiers overseas, ultimately our discussion with the classroom teacher helped us arrive at an idea that truly included practice in all of the SEL skills: a gratitude project to our community service providers. Later this school year, the children will be studying their community and this would be a great chance to talk about community providers such as the fire department, town hall, the police and the library, and at the same time, an opportunity to express gratitude for the work they do.

This is how it worked:

  • During class time, the teacher led the children in a letter writing activity to help express their thanks and share a holiday message. The exercise was completed during school time to bring more structure to the activity and to help children brainstorm how these different groups contribute to our community. 
  • Then, during the parent-led holiday party, the children rotated through four different activities (which included a craft, snack, and game). When the children rotated through the gratitude activity we set up, they decorated the letter, drew pictures and added their names and class photo. Small groups gave us a chance to reread each letter and reinforce the children’s thoughtfulness.
  • In the interest of time we had class representatives deliver these letters before the holidays and made sure to take photos. When they returned to school this week, their teacher was able to show them the photos so they could see (even if they didn’t get to experience first-hand) how their letters were received.

In this article that appeared in Edsurge, Leah Shafer talks about involving families in SEL programming and the importance of an integrated effort between parents, teachers and administrators. In our case, the success of this parent-teacher team approach offered an opportunity to develop an important SEL skill, gratitude, while at the same time build upon the teacher’s “community” curriculum. By making a small shift in something such as the class holiday party, we could nurture the values we want children to have and find ways to reinforce what children are learning about in school. 

Ultimately, there are many opportunities during the school year to make small changes and shift what has traditionally been done to something that is more SEL- inspired. Next year, we plan to encourage more parents
and classrooms in our school to take on this easy change and incorporate the idea of gratitude into their holiday parties, elevating the nature of the party and nurturing these important skills in our children. With some planning and forethought, and by utilizing a team approach which brings together parents and teachers, we can inspire small changes that have a big impact.

Resource:

Children’s books are a great way to set the tone for an SEL-inspired classroom activity. Lindsay highly recommends this picture book – The Thank You Letter by Jane Cabrera – for helping setting a tone of gratitude among students.

 

CPCK Note: What a treat to learn from educator Lindsay Weiner this week who specializes in thoughtful ways to use children’s literature to promote social and emotional learning in young people. Love her wonderful, simple and actionable ideas and will be taking them to my son’s school.

Lindsay Weiner is a teacher and founder of The EQ Child, an SEL consulting company based in Connecticut. She works with schools, parents, and community groups to incorporate SEL into their work. You can follow her on Facebook or to learn more please visit www.eqchild.com.

Free Webinar Today — “Raising Preteens and Teens with Confidence”

Have a tween or teen you are raising? Finding it challenging to feel confident as a parent or build confidence in your child? Join me for a special webinar on this very topic on Tuesday, January 28, 2020 at 1:30 p.m. EST hosted by Operation Parent. Operation Parent is a nonprofit organization dedicated to informing parents about the latest research and its practical applicable to the challenges of being a caring parent. More than 500 are already registered. Join now and learn more free! 

Thank you, Ann Zimlich and Michelle Massey for the important work you do and for this opportunity to collaborate!

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