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Showing posts with label mental health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mental health. Show all posts

Political Conflict: How Can We Help the Children?

America has been struggling with political conflict. 

As teachers and parents, how can we help the students through these difficult times?

 
There has always been conflict in our world. Unfortunately, it seems like there's a lot more lately.

I hate to give away my age, but I remember quite a few instances of conflict and pain, including these assassinations: John Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Bobby Kennedy. 
 
I was teaching during the Challenger explosion, Columbine, numerous school shootings, and teaching drills such as lockdown, shelter in place, evacuation, and reverse evacuation.

My own daughter remembers 9/11, various school shootings and other mass shootings, the Boston Marathon bombing (while living in Boston), various hurricanes and wildfires, Black Lives Matter protests, and now, the attack on the U.S. Capitol. Young adults in her age group are very familiar with violence, unfortunately.

There are no perfect answers on how to deal with events like this, but here are some things to think about:

Political Conflict: How can we help the children? They're smart. They know there's a lot going on, and they're scared. Here are some ideas on helping them understand and worry less.

Every child is different, and every child has his or her own tolerance for what they can handle. I personally don't believe in giving children any more information than they can handle, and this is a rocky road. It's important to give them true information in the form of facts, but be careful not to give too much information that will confuse or upset them. Avoid letting them watch the news, as many children don't have the tools to cope with what they see. Approach with caution! 

Political Conflict: How can we help the children? They're smart. They know there's a lot going on, and they're scared. Here are some ideas on helping them understand and worry less.

In order to understand what they know and how to help, it's important to listen to them. Find out what they understand and what needs clarification. Ask questions. Learn more about what's going on with them. What are they thinking? Help them.

Political Conflict: How can we help the children? They're smart. They know there's a lot going on, and they're scared. Here are some ideas on helping them understand and worry less.

There are all sorts of mixed feelings these children might be experiencing. They may not even understand what they are feeling. We need to have lots of conversations, giving them a chance to explore and express their feelings. Art is a great way to let out feelings. Let them draw, paint, or create something to help them figure out what they are feeling.

Political Conflict: How can we help the children? They're smart. They know there's a lot going on, and they're scared. Here are some ideas on helping them understand and worry less.

As the children explore their feelings, help them identify what they're feeling by sharing your own. If they are confused, tell a story about when you were confused about your own feelings. If they are frightened, tell them about a time you were frightened. Even better? Include information about how you dealt with those feelings.

Political Conflict: How can we help the children? They're smart. They know there's a lot going on, and they're scared. Here are some ideas on helping them understand and worry less.

This one is so hard! I assure you, both sides of any conflict truly believe they are saying and doing what is right. Families of all your students belong to both sides of any conflict. It's important to keep opinions out of the classroom. But it's important for children to know that breaking the law or causing harm to others is never OK. One of my most valuable teaching lessons was learned while taking my students on a field trip to the local police station. When children asked about what happens to "bad people," they were answered with this comment: "There are no bad people, just people who made bad choices."

Political Conflict: How can we help the children? They're smart. They know there's a lot going on, and they're scared. Here are some ideas on helping them understand and worry less.

One or two good conversations might be enough for some children, but there are others who need a constant checking in. You know your students. Watch them closely. There may need to be frequent check-ins with several children to make sure they're OK. Some may need private conversations. Some may need group conversations. Morning meetings are great places to have these conversations.

Political Conflict: How can we help the children? They're smart. They know there's a lot going on, and they're scared. Here are some ideas on helping them understand and worry less.

Children do open up in many situations. For some, it's a group discussion, such as Morning Meeting. For others, it's expressing themselves with art or music. Sometimes, a distraction is just what they need. Amazing conversations happen while simply playing board games. (My favorite is Apples to Apples... and I use the excuse that they're practicing reading skills, so I squeeze it into reading group time!)

Books are also an awesome way to get children to open up, and figure out the words to explain how they are feeling. It might be tough to find perfect books for the perfect situation, but reading some "feel good" books would be a great idea. You know these books... old favorites, happy endings, upbeat, joyful, and heartwarming. The kind of story that makes the children feel safe.
 

Things I truly believe:

  • Most people have good souls.
  • The children's mental health is far more important than academics.
  • They need to be heard, and they need to be loved.
  • Good will prevail.

 

Political Conflict: How can we help the children? They're smart. They know there's a lot going on, and they're scared. Here are some ideas on helping them understand and worry less.

 


Toxic Positivity

Have you ever heard anyone say these phrases?

  • Don't be so negative!
  • It will all be fine.
  • Look at the bright side.
  • Don't worry about it.
Toxic Positivity: Is it possible to be too positive? Here are some reasons why it can be, and what to do when someone is positively toxic.

 How about these?

  • Think only happy thoughts.
  • Good vibes only.
  • Happiness is a choice.
  • Everything happens for a reason.
  • There are plenty of people who have it worse.

These phrases are usually  spoken with the intention of being kind. 

But seriously, do they ever make you feel differently?

There really is a thing known as "toxic positivity." It's great to have a positive attitude, and to try to be happy. But some people go overboard. When that happens, it can be maddening!

Being positive all the time encourages one to suppress negative feelings, which leads to all sorts of physical and emotional issues such as mental illness, heart disease, insomnia, digestive problems and autoimmune disease.

We have life experiences that include good feelings and bad feelings. I confess, there have been times in my life where I have buried my negative feelings. It wasn't the best choice, but honestly, it was the only choice I had at the time. (Like when I suddenly became a single parent.) 

I wouldn't recommend it.

Negative feelings are real. They should be validated. People should be allowed to grieve. People need empathy and compassion. People need someone who cares.

The biggest problem with toxic positivity is that it brings shame. It's isolating and demoralizing. And more often than not, it makes a person feel even worse about real emotions they are feeling.

I've watched a few videos on Youtube that explain it far better than I can!



I hope these were helpful!

Here are some ideas on how to avoid toxic positivity:

Never put a person down for having feelings!

Toxic Positivity: Is it possible to be too positive? Here are some reasons why it can be, and what to do when someone is positively toxic.
Sometimes there really isn't a bright side, and people are hurting! Don't brush them off when they need you!
 
Seriously, really bad things happen. Happiness isn't always a choice.

I think this is the one that annoys me the most. How could a person really compare your feelings to someone else? We are all different and unique, and we all need empathy and compassion more than comparisons.

Ideas for handling when someone gives toxic positivity instead of empathy and compassion.

It's ok to let it out. There are socially acceptable ways to let it out. Please don't hold it in.

Don't be the "giver" of toxic positivity!

It's ok to hurt. It's ok to grieve. It's all ok. In fact, it's human, and it's healthy. (You might not want to grieve 24/7, but it's important to let it out.)

Let your friends and work companions see good examples of dealing with feelings. Teach through example.

It's not always possible to avoid those "fair weather friends" but we can try to spend most of our time with people who can show compassion and caring.
 
I truly believe it's possible to be positive much of the time. But don't let it become toxic, and don't let it bury valid feelings.
 
And try to remember, the people who are doing this mean well.

Toxic Positivity: Is it possible to be too positive? Here are some reasons why it can be, and what to do when someone is positively toxic.


Let Them Get BORED!

Do your children complain about being bored?
What do you do about it?

Well, studies show that the best thing we can do for the children is let them be bored!

Let Them Get BORED! There is much scientific research that tells us that it's not such a bad thing to let children get bored, but it's actually good for them!

Teachers know children are quick to say, "I'm bored," when what they mean is, "I don't feel like doing this work." These words can have a lot of power, and need to be taken in stride. Don't let "This is boring!" become an excuse to get out of work, or a way of getting someone to provide them with entertainment. 

Once you determine they are truly bored, here's some interesting information.

Let Them Get BORED! There is much scientific research that tells us that it's not such a bad thing to let children get bored, but it's actually good for them!
Yes, it's true. There is a whole lot of scientific evidence to prove that creative thinking happens when children (and adults) do their best thinking when they are bored.  Let them get bored and enjoy watching how creative they can get!

Let Them Get BORED! There is much scientific research that tells us that it's not such a bad thing to let children get bored, but it's actually good for them!
I know what you're thinking: how can boredom build confidence? Well, when children learn to entertain themselves without another person telling them what to do, they gain confidence in themselves. They realize they can do it! They have the power!

Let Them Get BORED! There is much scientific research that tells us that it's not such a bad thing to let children get bored, but it's actually good for them!
This makes sense, doesn't it? Boredom is the problem. Children think of creative ways to solve that problem, as long as no one interferes to entertain them. You'll be amazed at how many problems children can solve when given the opportunity! Then, of course, their confidence will continue to grow!

Let Them Get BORED! There is much scientific research that tells us that it's not such a bad thing to let children get bored, but it's actually good for them!
Admit it, these times are quite stressful! Please don't add the pressure to constantly entertain your children. Take some time for yourself, and let the children entertain themselves. They'll come up with something! They'll be fine. Make sure you are fine as well. 

Let Them Get BORED! There is much scientific research that tells us that it's not such a bad thing to let children get bored, but it's actually good for them!
They are still kids! If they're not used to having to entertain themselves, expect a major whine fest! It will take some time before they've figured it all out, but it's important that they do figure this out! 

In the meantime, wean them slowly into the world of creativity! Provide art materials, give them some hints of what's available and what they could do. 

But watch them closely! Boredom can also be a sign of clinical depression. That's a serious situation. 
Special needs children may also need more guidance.

Honestly, you know your children best. Watch them closely, give them plenty of love, and encourage them to be creative.

Here's a blog post I wrote years ago that's very appropriate for this situation:  Lessons Learned

https://www.elementarymatters.com/2012/01/lessons-learned.html

Here's another related blog post that I wrote this week: Avoiding TOO MUCH Screen Time!

https://www.elementarymatters.com/2020/03/avoiding-too-much-screen-time.html

And, if they're totally stuck, here are 50 "no screen" ideas!
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Social-Distancing-No-Screen-Ideas-5354786?utm_source=bored%20blog%20post&utm_campaign=Social%20Distancing%20ideas


Let Them Get BORED! There is much scientific research that tells us that it's not such a bad thing to let children get bored, but it's actually good for them!

Six Ways to Help Kids Beat the Winter Blues

The Winter Blues
A medical diagnosis might be Seasonal Affective Disorder.
 
Six Ways to Help Kids Beat the Winter Blues: Winter can seem very long, and often gets the kids feeling "down". Here are some ideas to help them through it!
 
I am not a medical professional, but I have seen these symptoms in many of my students:

  • change of moods
  • increased crying
  • difficulty concentrating
  • fatigue or loss of energy
  • lack of motivation
  • feeling sluggish or agitated
  • problems getting along with others
  • changes in appetite

Honestly, with the incredible amount of snow here in the northeast, we've been stuck inside way too much, and it's not just the kids struggling with these symptoms!

As I'm sure you know, teaching can be tough under normal conditions. 

 

It's even tougher when the kids just want to nap at their desks!

But what can we do about it? 


Here are a few things I've tried:

Six Ways to Help Kids Beat the Winter Blues: Winter can seem very long, and often gets the kids feeling "down". Here are some ideas to help them through it!
1. Exercise!  Get those kids out of their seats and moving! They may not feel like getting up at all, but that's a sign they really need to!  It's important to do some exercises that will get their blood pumping, like jogging in place, jumping jacks, or Go Noodle! (If you haven't discovered Go Noodle, it's time to check it out! It's free, and the kids love these Brain Breaks!)
GoNoodle Inspiration Blog


Six Ways to Help Kids Beat the Winter Blues: Winter can seem very long, and often gets the kids feeling "down". Here are some ideas to help them through it!

2. Rest and Relaxation! They need some quiet time, too! There are yoga moves that are perfect for kids, and simplified forms of meditation. (Many studies show the need for meditation!) In my classroom we have "silent seconds". That's when the kids sit with their hands on their knees, trying to clear their minds of all the clutter. They love it, and seriously need to clear their minds. (We all do!) Another form of relaxation? Bring out the water colorpaints! They are suddenly VERY quiet when those come out!

Here are some book ideas if you want to find out more about yoga with kids!


        

Six Ways to Help Kids Beat the Winter Blues: Winter can seem very long, and often gets the kids feeling "down". Here are some ideas to help them through it!

3. Happy Music! There is much research that proves music affects our moods. When the children are acting tired and dragging themselves around, it's time to put on some happy music! It's OK to let them dance! HERE is a post I did years ago that has several suggestions for Happy Music for the classroom. HERE is another link to a post that gives suggestions for a variety of kinds of music, and when to use it in the classroom. 

Six Ways to Help Kids Beat the Winter Blues: Winter can seem very long, and often gets the kids feeling "down". Here are some ideas to help them through it!

4. Get Outside! I realize sometimes this isn't possible, but it's important for those kids to breathe fresh air and get away from the stale air in the classroom. Plus, they need that Vitamin D from the sun! (Did you realize many symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency are similar to those of seasonal affective disorder?) What learning activities can be done in the snow? Measuring? Science? I'm sure you can come up with something!

Six Ways to Help Kids Beat the Winter Blues: Winter can seem very long, and often gets the kids feeling "down". Here are some ideas to help them through it!

5. Shake it Up! Kids need to look at things differently. This can be as simple as rearranging the furniture or having a backwards schedule day. It might mean changing the routine or doing something totally different one day. It's amazing how one crazy day can put them in a better mood. Plus, when they get back to the routine, they appreciate it more!
Six Ways to Help Kids Beat the Winter Blues: Winter can seem very long, and often gets the kids feeling "down". Here are some ideas to help them through it!

6. Plan Something Special! Kids (and adults) need something to look forward to. It gives them motivation. Luckily, February has plenty of opportunities for special activities! We're planning a Valentine's Day party, and I'll go out of my way to make it super fun. They need it! We also have Day 100 (which will be whenever we get back to school after this recent snowstorm!), Presidents Day, Mardi Gras, and Chinese New Year. (Which brings me back to #2: rest and relaxation!) But with the winter we've had, I may have to bring back something I haven't done in years:
 

Virtual Trip to Mexico!

Yes, we actually go on a virtual trip to Mexico. We get in our virtual airplane, put on our seat belts and fly to Mexico. We get out of our seats, and exit the plane to the warmth of the Mexican beaches. We bring our beach towels, have tortilla chips and salsa while enjoying our books. We see virtual animals and feel the virtual warm breeze.  I might even sneak in some mapping skills and a handful of Spanish words to keep it interesting.

Of course, I might have to bring out some resources like this one: 


or this one


or perhaps this one:
Six Ways to Help Kids Beat the Winter Blues: Winter can seem very long, and often gets the kids feeling "down". Here are some ideas to help them through it!



We CAN get past this winter!

Six Ways to Help Kids Beat the Winter Blues: Winter can seem very long, and often gets the kids feeling "down". Here are some ideas to help them through it!


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