CHILDREN NEED HELP UNDERSTANDING THEIR EMOTIONS

What do you do to help children develop the ability to understand their emotions and others around them? It’s never too late to use your emotions in a positive way. Here are tips to help children develop emotionally:

1. Accept children’s emotions – “Are you OK…you look upset?” “Did something happen?” ” Are you angry? Let’s talk about it.”

2. Identify their emotions – “You look sad.” “That must have hurt your feelings.” “You sound upset.”

3. Encourage children to talk about what they are feeling – “Do you want to talk about what’s bothering you?” “How are you feeling?”

4. Help children identify how others may be feeling – “How do you think that made your friends feel?” “How would you feel if you were in your friend’s shoes?” “Everyone makes mistakes.”

5. Teach children how to calm down – “Take deep breaths.” “Count to ten.” “Remove yourself from the situation so you can cool off and think in a positive manner.”

6. Help children maintain self control – “I was impressed when you used your words to tel, how you were feeling.” “You handled yourself really well even though you were frustrated.”
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Having Difficult Conversations

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“Why do I have a penis?” Nicky asks, perfectly timed with my first gulp of coffee of the morning. Of course, big brother is cracking up, food shooting out of the sides of his mouth, while I’m trying to breathe and not make the news as the first person to choke to death on a sip of coffee. It’s not that I’m shocked by his question–rather, just caught off guard. Nicky asks all sorts of questions that his older brothers never even thought to ask. He is a natural investigator, never accepting trite answers such as “Because,” or “That is the way it is.” He stretches me in so many ways and beyond any other person on this planet. I love that about him!

Engaging regularly in the arena of “difficult conversations,” we have chatted about drugs, alcohol, death, racism, sexual anatomy (obviously), why the neighbor’s dog was humping his leg, diabetes, God, why friends will sometimes be mean, and everything else in between. Did I mention Nicky is seven? Nicky has broken the barrier of awkward, uncomfortable conversations and has morphed them into one continuous, casual conversation. By sheer volume, I have become less surprised and uncomfortable with the topics that pop up. Perhaps this is the foundation for significant conversations during the teen years.

Questions from our children about drugs, sex, death, and life in general often elicit prickly responses from parents and teachers: “Just say no,” or, “The stork dropped you off.” But why is it so difficult to talk with our kids about these topics? We may be dealing with our own fear, ignorance, or guilt. Maybe we do not feel we can provide the best answers and redirect inquires. Maybe there has been a battle with an addiction, and residual guilt or shame blocks the avenue to open communication. A few generations ago, people feared that conversations about sex would open the door to children having sex, and some still feel that way; however, fear, guilt, and shame should be overcome, because these conversations or a lack of dialogue shape the way our children make choices.

There are a few reasons why I encourage difficult conversations. First, the “difficulty” is usually all mine, not my child’s, and I need to get out of my own way, because, if I don’t show up for those conversations, someone else or something else will. In a time when kids have mega exposure to all kinds of information and images at the swipe of a finger, it is beyond important to lean into those challenging conversations and be the forerunner of information. Second, I want to be the safe person that my children trust, giving them the freedom to talk freely without fear of rejection in an open, yet age-appropriate, dialogue.
At the end of the day, the goal of difficult conversations should be to answer questions honestly: Don’t lie; keep them age appropriate; impart knowledge; and–most importantly–build a secure relationship with our kids. Never easy, but totally worth it!

Join TURNING STONEchoice this Friday, February 21 for a FREE Parent Workshop at Mathnasium in Cherry Hill @ 6:30-8:30. For additional information please follow this link for more details.
http://events.r20.constantcontact.com/register/event?oeidk=a07e8u594mmbf4cd55f&llr=4hspbwlab&showPage=true

~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice
For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com

NFL Investigation – Reviewing the fumble w/ Martin & Incognito

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I’m glued to Sports Center to figure out what makes a 300+ pound NFL lineman (Martin) cry, “Bully!” I believe it goes beyond the actions of another 300+ pound professional football player (Incognito) and that the NFL is on the cusp of addressing the culture of intimidation in the workplace. I’m sure, on the books, the NFL has established its code-of-conduct for workplace behavior, but when we talk “culture,” we address more of what is acceptable among the players, themselves. What is the “understanding” between rookies and veterans? If an extended history of long-suffering macho-ism is the tone from high school all the way to the pros then it will take more than written policy to break down the cultural norms. Norms that dictate that hazing is to be accepted, intimidation is to be tolerated, financial coercion is allowed, and players with less-than- combat- soldier attitudes need to conform. The facts are just beginning to slowly surface, and speculation is just that. The “fumble” in this review would point to an epic failure in communication with everyone accountable for his part. Failure from management to communicate effectively what a positive environment looks like, sounds like, feels like, a failure from veteran players to communicate and create a legacy of trust without the rookie trials of fire. If you made it to the pros then you have already proved yourself and have to continue to prove yourself on the field. And, sadly, if Martin had communicated immediately and consistently to others on how he would like to be treated, spoken to and encouraged, perhaps the dynamic between he and the team would look very different. The NFL investigation will undoubtedly churn some additional controversies to deliberate when it comes to not just individuals but the overall history of the NFL workplace environment. Having recently improved the safety of the players on the field, the League will now have to turn its attention to equal protection off the field.

~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice
For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com

Relevant Book for student-athletes to consider reading is Angst by Christopher Avery. Follow link for review at http://www.amazon.com/Angst-Christopher-Avery/dp/0984002200/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1385140013&sr=8-1&keywords=angst+christopher+avery

Sweet Moments of Connection

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I thought I was being a proactive parent setting aside time in a very busy evening to go for a walk and talk with one of my boys. It was just the 2 of us, a rare and special time together. There were some “things” I wanted to address with this particular child and found our conversation very one sided. I did all the talking and had the impression he would rather have his teeth scraped by a dental hygienist than listen to the very important subject matter I was sharing. Finally, I stopped running my mouth and enjoyed a quieter walk as he discovered a friend to play with. Ugh! This was not what I had planned. Much later in the evening during the bed time rush he decided to share a very serious matter that was on his mind and heart. I could not believe the words coming from his mouth. I had not scheduled this discourse, nor was I prepared for his message. But, I knew although this wasn’t my perfectly planned and scheduled moment for “real conversation” I had to carpe diem and listen. And, what was I thinking? Those real moments of interaction are hardly ever planned. They occur at the most ridiculous, inopportune times, when life is wicked messy and exhausting. Perhaps, he would have shared earlier if I did not already plan the agenda taking up all of the space and time with what I want to address. It’s funny how kids can hit you in a blind spot to help you see clearer. At times parenting and teaching can be a real mind trip! One moment you are excited over a perfectly planned classroom lesson with nothing but complete blank stares from the faces of your students. The next moment your class is going in a totally different direction but you hear the light bulbs clicking off in their precious little heads. One moment a parent can feel like a failure in reaching a child and the next moment connect over the honest and real thoughts of that child while rubbing lotion on their legs. It’s the ups and downs we go through; a mind trip, right.
Remember to hold on to those sweet moments of connection with your students and children and when those down moments have you discouraged envision the victory ahead.

For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

Releasing Mistakes

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Once upon a time, I loathed writing. It was the subject I feared because my writing skills were awful. You see, I could not spell well and because I feared the mistakes I knew I would make, I refused to write words I fully comprehended but had no idea how to spell. To this day, I still struggle with spelling and now understand my challenge as a spelling disorder and not a reflection of my intelligence. This was such a huge obstacle, mainly because I did not understand why I was so “stupid.” I knew what the word was, how to use it and when to use it, but how to spell was elusive. Secondly, and probably most importantly, I chose to be silent about my struggle and continued to fall behind in my writing lessons. If not for the wisdom and compassion of my fifth grade teacher, perhaps I would not have the courage to write this blog today. Understanding the contradiction of my simple prose vs. my higher level speaking vocabulary (I talked a lot), this teacher casually walked up to me during a painful writing session and whispered, “Sam, please write the way you talk, and I don’t care if you misspell. It will be great.” In that single moment, I was liberated from the shackles of error because I was given permission to make mistakes, a lot of mistakes, and, “It would be great.” I am positive my spelling issues were more severe than my “Releaser” had imagined, but I had a new found freedom that would grow, and, although I would continue to make the same mistakes over and over, I actually would make fewer of them over the longer road ahead. I have come a long way from loathing writing, and I enjoy it immensely (a word I happened to misspell). I might not be the next Maya Angelou, but I am growing out from the wisdom of a teacher who understood the bigger picture of allowing mistakes and encouraging mistakes to get to the real lessons. Which students will you be releasing today from bondages that keep them from growing and learning?

For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

Keep Your Head Up- Body Language Message

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“Don’t slouch. Sit up straight!” Mothers have chanted around the world to their children. I always thought it a nagging, ridiculous demand. I mean, why? Leave the poor kid alone. Yet, I have always been quick to encourage a child on the soccer field to keep their heads up after a demoralizing play or game. I actually get a physical pang in my stomach when I see the head drop and the shoulders fall forward for any kid. You can see their momentary pain without a single word or physical injury. I never bothered to correct my own children on the posture front because I felt I had bigger battles to fight, until I considered the bigger picture: the message of our body language to others and more importantly to ourselves. I am realizing the posture we keep on a regular basis can reveal personal details with the world. Is a student sitting so deeply in a chair as if any moment he or she will be one with the floor? Is a child constantly tapping on tables, chairs, books? With our bodies we say, I’m tired, frustrated, hurt, excited, doubtful, eager, anxious and so many other messages the world receives and we believe of ourselves. I guess in the long run, I do want my children to sit up straight because they have the confidence in and of themselves to believe they are worthy of being a part of this world because they are valuable. So instead of nagging with a “Sit-up”, I tap my chest, lift my chin and sit up straight myself. I know I have been probably slouching all day long myself. I need to “remove the tree from my eye before removing a splinter from theirs”, and set an example. I explain when we sit or stand like cavemen (insert laughter from the boys) we squish our organs (more laughter) and they need room to do their thing. Also, we let the world know we don’t think much of ourselves (insert immediate high lifted posture from all 3 boys). I wouldn’t let the boys engage in self-deprecating talk and fill their beings with negative verbal language. Why should I let the just as powerful body language fill them with the same kind of negativity?

For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

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Understanding our Children’s Information Process

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When one of my boys was a toddler, he would become visibly frustrated when trying to communicate. His brain and lips were not seeing eye to eye. So, he would vent in anger. Being a hip mom, I taught him a few words in sign language that he understood, and could clearly deliver his message to the family. It was wonderful and there were less frustrating moments between us.
Fast forward 8 years and this child’s brain and lips are making up for lost time. He has mastered vocabulary and speech quite well. At times, I feel, and he probably feels the same, we are back to those frustrating moments of trying to communicate. I declare he speaks another language all together and must admit my patience or lack there-of- it, fails us both. Do you feel like you have no idea what your kid is saying to you sometimes? And, can you see the glaze in their eyes, if their eyes are even looking at you when you speak to them?
I began to wonder where we fail in our communication as parents. There had to be more to the answer than the generation gap between us. I have been reading a book written by Dr. Tammy Smith, Soul Connection- Relating beyond the surface that gave me some insight to my question. Dr. Smith explores interpersonal connections between people. With years of professional counseling experience and a mother of two boys she has shared some practical and profound information into understanding others and ourselves. Specifically, I had my “Aha” moment as Dr. Smith began to explain how people process information using the analogy of inny or outy belly buttons. People who processes information on the inside may seem delayed or even reluctant but it takes time for the internal understanding of a message before it can be translated into action (that would be me). Internal processors also have a limit on how much information you can throw at them. This is not diminished capacity but they take the whole message and dig deep. I have often told my husband as he is trying to get me to respond, “Give me a moment to process what you are asking or I need time to think about that.” My son is an external processor. He needs to share his thoughts, feelings, and musings outside of himself to gain understanding. He has more journals completed than I have in my entire lifetime. He draws cartoons and remembers his dreams each and every night and likes to talk about them in detail to gain understanding of why he is dreaming and what it all might mean. An external processor likes to talk and may talk over others, not necessarily to communicate but to gain understanding.
Considering how we processes information and having an understanding of who I am and who my son is, allows for more effective communication and a deeper relationship. I can be more empathetic as he is trying to gain understanding outside of himself. And, share with him, mom can only zero in on a few things at a time. I believe what he has to say is important and I do not want to miss anything he is trying to share.
What kind of processor are you and your children? Perhaps the common frustrations we have stem from the lack of knowledge of how we take in information and how our loved ones process. With this understanding, we are equipped to move into a more positive and healthy relationship with our kids, be it inny or outy.

For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice