Jennifer was able to talk with a few young professionals who gave insight into what they needed as a teenager from their parents.
There were a number of educational leaders committed to social and emotional learning that shared their perspectives on this question.
We are having some valuable conversations today! Teaching your children about racial and social justice can be challenging but also vital. Check out what these experts who are also parents have to say.
In celebration and recognition of the ways in which we best promote our children’s development and our own, Confident Parents, Confident Kids’ Jennifer Miller will be posing questions all day to a diverse range of experts who are also either parents, educators, nonprofit leaders and even some young adults who will answer questions about their own upbringing. Watch for these questions and answers here on the blog or our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/confidentparentsconfidentkids) and also, on Twitter, @JenniferSMiller. Thank you so much to the sponsors SEL4US and the Urban Assembly! Check out the #SELDay page for more information on events happening today.
How do we define social and emotional learning?
The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) at the University of Illinois at Chicago defines it as (2020):
Hope you’ll follow along and learn from the many experts we’re talking with today and also contribute to the dialogue yourself. So your first question is, how do parents become confident?
Happy #SEL Day!
Confident Parents, Confident Kids is excited to be a part of International SEL Day! We’ve asked a diverse range of experts and parents questions about how they parent with social and emotional learning. We’ll be posting their responses like the one above from Fernando Restoy of The Ripple Effect all day long. I hope you’ll reshare and help shed light on the critical nature of social and emotional learning for ourselves and for our children!
Also, check out the many webinars and online events that will be happening!
March 22, 2021 – March 26, 2021
During the week of March 22–26, educators from around the world will share their favorite strategies for teaching social and emotional learning in their classrooms, schools, and homes. On International SEL Day (Friday, March 26), members of the @SELinEdu community will vote on their favorite strategies.
March 25, 2021 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm ET
In honor of SEL Day 2021, Educators from Northwood Elementary School in Michigan’s Parchment School District will share how they successfully integrate SELassessment data into daily instruction in multiple ways to strengthen SEL programs and practices.
March 26, 2021 @ 16.00-18.00 CET / GMT +1
On the occasion of International SEL Day on 26th March 2021, the European Network for Social and Emotional Competence (ENSEC) in collaboration with the Erasmus + Project Promoting Mental Health in Schools (PROMEHS) and the Centre for Resilience and Socio-Emotional Health at the University of Malta, are organising a webinar on mental health, wellbeing and resilience of school children during the pandemic.
March 26, 2021 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm ET
How can federal policy support state efforts to foster positive youth skill development and overall mental health? In this briefing, students, members of Congress, and experts in child development will discuss the importance of social emotional learning (SEL) concepts and how they can be advanced through federal policy.
March 26, 2021 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm ET
On International #SELDay, co-hosts Urban Assembly and SEL4US are teaming up with CASEL to discuss how Graduate Profiles can cultivate meaningful school experiences and how social and emotional learning can strengthen our vision of future-ready graduates. Celebrate #SELDay by hearing from leaders about why and how they adopted a Graduate Profile and join us in imagining what’s possible when all young people are socially, emotionally, and academically prepared for their futures.
March 26, 2021 @ 2:00 pm ET – 3:00 pm ET
In this interactive webinar, learn practical strategies you can use in your district to strengthen your systematic approach to social and emotional learning and mental health.This virtual workshop will introduce you to a data-driven and culturally-responsive process for recognize district’s strengths, identify gaps, and plan concrete action steps to strengthen your comprehensive approach to SEL/MH in your district.
March 26, 2021 @ 2:00 – 3:00 pm ET
Join an engaging Twitter Chat led by National University’s Sanford College of Education and co-hosted by Inspire Teaching & Learning and Harmony SEL. Education experts and SEL industry partners will discuss advocacy and policy promoting SEL in schools and communities. Follow along (@NatUniv) and join the conversation by using #NUSEL.
March 26, 2021 @ 2:00 – 3:00 pm ET
International SEL Day 2021 gives people around the world the opportunity to showcase the social-emotional skills they use to build relationships and support their communities. This year, we’re celebrating “small” by highlighting the unique challenges and opportunities that smaller, rural school districts face while implementing social-emotional learning (SEL) initiatives.
March 26, 2021 @ 2:30 – 4:00 pm ETThis interactive 90-minute webinar for school leaders and teachers will review the equity-minded additions CASEL made to their competencies. These competencies—including examining our own biases and working with others to create change—are vital for teachers seeking to create a more just educational environment. With special guest: Dr. Robert J. Jagers, Vice President of Research, CASEL. Hosted by Youth Communication.
#SELDay #SEL4US #SEL4Equity
Reflective Questions to Guide Our Emergence
In some ways this past year has felt like a year-long retreat. Each of us has experienced our own unique version. For my family, we’ve limited our outings considerably only shopping for essentials online. Our social life has amounted to run-ins with familiar eyes at the grocery store and “seeing” friends on online chats, our son on video games and in chat spaces. Our favorite ways to spend time together typically include daily walks and forays into nature. We meditate. We learn together (taking on homeschooling, yet another unexpected turn of events). I stare out of the window as a matter of course. “What are the birds up to today?” I wonder. We relish in our family dinners offering thanks for staying healthy, maintaining our jobs, and accessing fresh foods. If we are not exactly monks, we are narrowing in on a more simplistic existence.
“I just don’t like people anymore,” my thirteen-year-old son teased but I know there’s a kernel of truth he’s expressing not wanting to emerge from our safety cocoon. Yet, upon this writing, more than 33 million people (or 10% of the U.S. population) have been fully vaccinated to prevent COVID-19. As we consider moving back out of our homes and into schools and workplaces, into community centers and restaurants, there are a number of reflective questions we can ask. After all if we’ve truly retreated, shouldn’t we emerge wiser?
Pamela McLean of the Hudson Institute, author of The Handbook of Coaching; A Developmental Approach, describes a cocoon stage in a person’s life as triggered by an ending or life crisis that forces the person to turn inward. She eloquently writes,
People who cocoon come come to terms with who they are without their previous roles dominating them. They work through an identity crisis and take time out, psychologically speaking, for soul searching. Little by little, out of solitude grows a more resilient self, anchored in a revised set of core values and sense of peace, all the while challenged by new purpose and passion.1
In this time of cocooning, we’ve felt vulnerable – to COVID, in our livelihoods, to differences that have divided relationships, to chaos and injustice in our neighborhoods and across the national and global landscape. And that sensitivity is characteristic of cocooning, when the caterpillar literally turns to goo and reforms her very identity. If she leaves too soon in the goo state, she will not survive. It’s an incredibly uncomfortable situation to be in this “neutral zone” in a world of do-ers and accomplishers who want to know what we’ve been up to — when in reality, we are staring out of the window wondering what the squirrels are thinking. In fact, it’s reassuring to understand that the emptiness felt during this time, the quiet, the aloneness, the space unfilled is exactly what we need to let go of our past, integrate it into our present and reform into something new.
This collective cocooning is challenging us all to accept and allow for an internal transformation to take place. If we surrender to this uncomfortable place while we need it and use the time it takes to look inward – however long (and no one else can prescribe it for you!), we can emerge from our cocoon as a fully developed butterfly.
William Bridges in his book, “Transitions; Making Sense of Life’s Changes” offers frameworks to understand these changes we are undergoing.2 He discusses the five “d”s we go through as we are letting go of our past identity and worldview including disengagement, dismantling, disidentification, disenchantment, and disorientation. As we fully feel and face the endings we are experiencing along with the loss and grief and fear, we enter into this unknown, uncertain place. We can change our external environment to shake things up and attempt to speed the way out of the “neutral zone.” We can change jobs, move houses, get a divorce, or disown close friends with the mistaken notion that we’ll feel some relief from this new beginning it creates, a welcome distraction. Have you seen the real estate market? Meanwhile, our core is quietly begging us to stare out of the window and reflect on some deeply essential questions, questions that may require different answers than we’ve ever given before (and that’s scary cause maybe I’m not who I thought I was).
We are experiencing a unique moment to empathize with our tweens and teens since they are undergoing their own cocoon experience. They are in the process of reforming their identity wholly from “I am who my parents told me I am” to “I am who I believe I really am.” As they seek privacy, push us away, yearn for their independent time and space, we can recognize the signs of the “goo” state. They know they are vulnerable and they are highly sensitive to our comments, to anything that reeks of judgment because their vision of themselves is shakey and undetermined. We can find some peace in knowing that they are right where they should be existing in the midst of discomfort. We are better equipped to support them and indeed more authentically aware if we too are existing in our developmental discomfort.
As we anticipate emerging from our cocoons, instead of risking a return to old stories and patterns when a new identity, set of core values and sense of purpose wants to be discovered, we may take some time to reflect. Here are some questions to get you started.
As we enter the spring season, it may remain wintertime inside our hearts and minds as we reflect on the past and integrate our learning so that we can move toward our emergent future. A blooming tulip’s petals, though beautiful at each stage of opening, cannot be forced open. If attempted, the tulip petals will rip. So too, in our own development, we cannot emerge until we we are ready. If we’ve taken time out to be reflective about our changing identity, we can enter spring time on our own terms and engage in an authentic rebirth.
By Guest Author Joseph Belisle
Long ago I bought an “art box” that was filled with about fifty post cards that featured a wide range of art done over the centuries from artists all over the world. When working with some of my art students, it is always a fun exercise to go through this box and let them pick out a favorite. They always choose something unique and surprising and they always tell me something insightful about themselves using the art from the postcard as a springboard for their feelings. Sometimes words can’t be found until a visual stimulus jogs a memory or suppressed feeling.
For as long as I can remember, one painting in particular has stirred my soul and captured my imagination; Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World. It always fascinated and simultaneously disturbed me. Once I laid eyes on it, I could never really get it out of my head. Years later, when I finally committed to producing my first children’s book, I couldn’t stop thinking about Mr. Wyeth, Christina, the Olson House and that endlessly wide chasm of grass that separated Christina from that house. I reference this painting in my new children’s book, What if Wilhelmina, because it so strongly affected me and I found a way to use it to help tell my story.
In the book, which I both wrote and illustrated, I make use of classical art in my illustrations. As an art museum fan and lover of art history, I was intrigued by the idea of using classical art in this way. I wanted to somehow use the great artists that have long inspired me to help explain what was happening in the story I tell. I write about a real-life experience that happened to me and my family when my daughter was seven years old. I admittedly take some fun liberties in the book but it is based largely on real-life events.
What if Wilhelmina is about my daughter and the time she lost her beloved pet cat and furry “sister” (as Wilhelmina is affectionately known in our house). On its surface, the story is indeed about a lost cat, but for me, I wanted to delve deeper into what my distraught daughter was really thinking during this upsetting time of “what ifs!” Referencing classical art helps tell my story, it also educates and helps explain the emotional state of my seven-year-old protagonist.
One example of how I use classical art in my book can be found when the little girl is being counseled by her parents. At this point in the story, our little girl is very distraught about her missing animal. She’s in a veritable storm of worry and her parents fruitlessly try calming her down. What better painting to put over her head in this illustration than the dark and tumultuous Storm on the Sea of Galilee by Rembrandt? It’s a classic and powerful painting that speaks to her fragile emotional state at this point in the story.
In addition to being a children’s book author/illustrator, I run an LGBTQ youth group for a non-profit agency called Lighthouse. We meet once a week in a relaxed, social environment where the kids can talk about their feelings and share whatever is on their mind in a safe, non-judgmental space. Sometimes we have our meetings at local art galleries or museums and these are some of my favorite memories with the group. When we do this, I ask each of the kids to wander around the space and choose a specific piece of art that speaks to them. Then we gather around their favorite art and they talk about it.
Visiting galleries and museums like this has proven to be such a powerful and transformative experience for these teens. Each person had a different piece of art that spoke to them. It was incredible how, through the art, they were able to open up and talk about their feelings. They each saw something unique that, at first glance, didn’t resonate with me but through their stories, the artwork gained new life and meaning for me and for all of the other members. I saw how they connected with the artwork and I heard how it helped them tell their story of frustration, joy, heartbreak or whatever it was they were trying to say. The artwork helped them express bigger issues that were on their mind.
Though What if Wilhelmina is aimed at a younger audience for ages 3 – 8, I’m so thrilled that it is connecting with all ages. Children are sending me their own drawings about more “what if” scenarios. Some of this art features more mischief that befalls our poor, lost cat and some of the art is about “what if” scenarios featuring the disappearance of something that they love — like a favorite stuffed animal that once was lost but now is found. The idea of loss or even impending loss can be upsetting and through art children can tell their own stories and subsequently heal.
I am planning more children’s books in this “What If” series. A second book is written but I’m still pondering what classical art I’ll use to help tell this next story. I’m trying to write about fears that hex children. That is what piques my interest. By using classical art references to tell my stories, I hope it will further enrich not only the books I write but start children on life-long journeys to loving art history. Art has so much to teach us and I’m just beginning to tell my stories and write my books. Hopefully, I’ll have more books to come that will feature even more art-enriched experiences that we can all learn from.
Art can have an amazing effect. Two people can look at the same image yet still have completely different reactions to it. You may connect with a piece of art that leaves me flat or I may see something in an abstract painting that you see as just blobs of color. That’s the fun and interesting thing about the visual arts; it’s up for interpretation by the viewer.
Art can be a great way to connect with your child when words just won’t suffice. Give them ample opportunity to be creative by always having lots of art supplies around and at the ready. Take the time to look at art with your children by simply looking at a picture books or magazines together, browsing online together, or by bringing them into galleries and museums. This can make for very rich, fun and rewarding experiences that will help you both grow and learn more about one another.
Author: Joe Belisle is the Coordinator & Lead Adult Facilitator of the Kids In Crisis LGBTQ teen group, Lighthouse. He is coming up on his ninth year working with LGBTQ teens and he learns something new from them every time they meet. Joe is also an author and illustrator of a new children’s book called “What if Wilhelmina.” The book is based on a true family story and will launch in early March, 2021 from Blair Publishing. He, his husband David, 12-year-old daughter Faith, and Wilhelmina the cat, all live happily together in Old Greenwich.
To order “What If Wilhelmina,” check it out here!
CPCK Note: We love this book and are so grateful to Joseph for writing about how to use art to help children express their feelings! This tale of a little girl losing her beloved cat shows how children can quickly escalate their little worries into big ones imagining catastrophes that haven’t actually occurred and amounting to an emotional spin out. With numerous opportunities for dialogue about the themes, this delightful children’s book shows how pausing, seeking support in caregivers, expressing feelings – through words and through art – can offer valuable support in tumultuous times. Highly relevant and relatable, this is a story that will help families discuss how to manage times of worry or uncertainty.
Jennifer Miller and her son learned about three game-changing female artists this week in seventh grade homeschool including Mary Cassatt, Frida Kahlo, and Georgia O’Keefe and how they expressed their feelings through their work in recognition of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month!
Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.
– Brene Brown
Boundary lines define the playing field. They outline the perimeter and if you step outside, you are, at least temporarily, out of the game. Emotional boundaries operate in the same way. They are the rules of engagement and often, they are disguised or unspoken. Our sense of emotional boundaries can be established by a combination of our culture, religion or belief system, community and our own upbringing. As a result, it can be a tricky terrain for adults and children to navigate. Trickier still, each environment we enter and each person we encounter has a different set of boundary lines. At Karen’s house, it’s “inside voices” only. In the first grade classroom, we raise our hands before we speak. At home, no one leaves the dinner table until the last person is finished. Children need to learn how to navigate through various environments and relationships with awareness and adjust their behaviors accordingly. Becoming sensitive to boundary lines raises children’s social awareness and ability to adapt to a variety of environments and situations. They can be more adept in relationships because they have more information about how to be respectful.
I often tell E, “You are the boss of you.” He loves hearing it. And I’ve seen surprised reactions from other adults when I’ve said it. I get a look akin to, what happened to “When you are under my roof, you play by my rules?” These two principles are not in conflict. Children are the boss of their own behavioral choices. They are in charge of their body and how they use it. And with that great power comes great responsibility. Encouraging their awareness of their own control and ability to make decisions helps them exercise their self-regulatory skills. If they have regular opportunities for practice in their own boundary setting, they will be prepared to respond when faced with ethical questions or inappropriate boundary crossing with peers or adults when you are not with them. And in your household, your family’s boundary lines can become internalized and understood by all so that your child makes decisions using those lines as a consistent guide.
As kids grow older, they will most certainly be challenged by emotional boundaries with their peers. They will face questions such as, “How much is acceptable to share on Facebook or other social media? How much information do I share with others when there are serious family problems at home? When does a comment from a classmate become a serious threat to safety? What is considered cheating and how far should I go to get a good grade?” Creating opportunities to discuss and become more aware of boundary lines throughout childhood will provide that chance for practice. This practice is central to the development of emotional intelligence, or the “expression of emotion, the regulation of emotion in the self and others, and the utilization of emotional context in problem solving.”[i]
In Rules in School,[ii] one of the co-authors writes about an experiment conducted in her household when she was a child. The children in the family knew the rule of cleaning up after themselves but weren’t adhering to it. They didn’t care. It was too much trouble to take dirty dishes to the kitchen or put toys away. And so her parents decided to remove the rule. And as a result, the kids left the dirty dishes on the table and the toys in the middle of floor. No clean up. The parents remained calm over six days of the accumulating mess. The kids began to feel stressed and chaotic until they couldn’t stand it anymore and worked hard to clean up. Because they had directly experienced the consequences of the absence of the rule, they internalized the meaning and importance and from then on took the rule to heart. Though this experiment is not always possible (or tolerable for parents!), it is possible to promote ownership over rules and boundaries in a household.
Raise your awareness of your sense of and sensitivity to boundaries. Do you feel taken advantage of by others? Do you feel someone has not respected you and your values? If so, then have you constructively shared those feelings and perspectives with the other person to articulate your own boundaries? The toughest work in becoming the parent we want to be is the work on our own emotional intelligence. Yet, we know that the modeling we do is more instructive than a thousand lectures. Take a moment to write down your own feelings of violation and ask how you’ve dealt with them. Have you communicated in a way that owns your feelings and perceptions? Have you clearly communicated your defining lines so that the other person knows the rules of interaction with you?
Involve your children in discussing, setting and understanding the rules of the household. Though we know that “because I said so” is no longer a parenting strategy that works, what takes it place? Lectures or long explanations to help children understand the meaning of a rule often fall on deaf ears. Neither strategy promotes the child’s ability to practice self-regulation. Beginning with questions can help a child consider the possibilities themselves and help you understand what their perceptions are. These questions can emerge from the goals and desires the child holds dear. For example, “I know you love your train sets. How do you think we can keep them safe when you are not playing with them?” “What if Dad walks through the living room with a snack in his hand and doesn’t look down and steps on your train?” Wait patiently for a child’s response. Allow them to do some thinking about the rules and household safety. Even if what they comment on is not exactly on target, they are thinking about it and trying to answer your questions. Talking through possible consequences can help them practice thinking ahead to the logical outcomes of an action or inaction.
Open and facilitate ongoing dialogue about where to draw boundaries lines in order to help your children understand their ever changing world. Maintaining a trusting connection with your child is critical in keeping these lines of communication open. Invite discussion about ethical dilemmas and challenging situations in a non-judgmental way without providing ready answers. “I’ve been hearing about kids sharing pictures of themselves online. What do you think about that? Where might you draw the line on what is appropriate and what is not?” Give your son or daughter a chance to think through the question. He may not respond to you in that moment. Let it hang in the air. Give him a chance to reflect and come back to you another time if needed. Raise the question and then create the safe space for a dialogue to occur.
Create safe boundary lines at home. It’s not surprising that a child that is uncomfortable with the boundary lines at home will have a much more challenging time understanding and respecting boundary lines at school or in the community. Sometimes our awareness of this is raised by watching our child struggle with school relationships. Discuss your own emotional boundaries at home. You will know when boundary lines have been crossed because family members will be upset and feel disrespected. Because boundary lines are different for each individual, defining the lines in a family means communicating about how each family member can feel respected whenever a problem occurs.
Understanding what a child is dealing with developmentally can help a parent listen and act with greater empathy. I have summarized the following developmental points related to boundaries and rules from the book, Yardsticks; Children in the Classroom Ages 4-14[iii] by Chip Wood, an outstanding resource for understanding the typical developmental trajectory of a child.
Emotional Boundary and Rule Understanding by Age/Developmental Level:
Want to know, “Who’s the boss?” Feel safe and comfortable with consistent routines. They are working on understanding the rules. It may be enough to say, “It’s the rule” particularly if it’s part of a consistent routine.
Kindergarten and Early Elementary –
Experience a whole new level of rules and expectations so work hard to grasp the new rules. May talk about rules often. May also “tattle” on another child who is breaking the rules. In these cases, remember that a child helping to enforce a rule with another child is their way of internalizing and understanding that rule.
Middle Elementary –
Are increasingly interested in logic, natural laws and how the world works. May become interested in issues of fairness and argue for fairness and justice.
Middle School Age –
Interested in and developing an ability for deductive reasoning and mathematical problem solving. They have a strong desire to test limits and rules. “Saving face” or maintaining a sense of respect is very important. They are highly aware of their social image. Children need access to trusting adults who will discuss important and serious social issues such as drugs, alcohol, sex, disease, violence, friendship and family problems.
High School Age –
Are eager to examine greater social issues and justice and fairness. Feelings can be easily hurt. Peer influence is of great importance and can create a high level of anxiety. Young adults can grapple with cause and effect but do not have a fully established logical brain yet. This means they are not able always to connect their choices to possible outcomes and need practice with consequential thinking. They are fighting to define their own identity but also crave trusted adult connections.
Particularly when a friendship is at stake and more importantly, a child feelings of self-worth, it takes great courage to speak up and draw the boundaries necessary to maintain a healthy relationship. But with practice, your children will be ready.
[ii] Brady, K., Forton, M.B. & Porter, D. (2010). Rules in Schools; Teaching Discipline in the Responsive Classroom. Turners Falls, MA; Northeast Foundation for Children.
Originally published on Confident Parents, Confident Kids on January 23, 2014.
Author Michelle Crouch got in touch with Jennifer Miller to talk about the benefits of play, how we can inspire play, and what parents can do to create the conditions that lead to independent or cooperative play in our family. Hope you’ll visit the Parent Magazine play to check out this extensive list of ideas! Here’s how it begins…
So Netflix has played babysitter more times than you can count already this year? No shame. We asked experts for the holy grail: screen-free playtime ideas that hold kids’ attention long enough for you to clear out your inbox. Read the full article here!