How Are You Feeling This Morning?

So I recently came across an article about the importance of teaching children to properly label their emotions. I was online looking for ways to help my ESL kids learn better ways to express themselves in English. Every morning I ask my students how they are feeling and post an image next to their names on this board I made for them. For example, I’ll ask one of them, “How are you feeling this morning?” And they will answer, “Happy” or “Hungry” and I’ll attach the “happy” or “hungry” face next to their names. The problem is, the kids are beginning to do group-think. Instead of expressing their own  emotions, they wait till the more popular student declares how she’s feeling and then claim to feel the same way. Argh! This is so frustrating as an ESL teacher. The point of me doing this every morning is to get them to stretch their vocabulary so they can properly express themselves, not follow the crowd. But it’s occurred to me that the idea of expressing a vast range of emotions is not highly encouraged where I’m locate. As Michelle Murray said in her article Children Need Words to Put On Their Emotions, “Mixed messages make for confused children. Denial of emotion is a dangerous practice because it denies reality and suppresses feelings that must find expression elsewhere.” I feel that’s what I’m combating every day in my classroom. The children are taught to deny how their feelings and follow suit with the dominant person in their life. Yet, I want these children to not only learn a range of words to express who they feel but to actually mean it. I think overall, parents and teachers MUST be on the same page so kids can really make that connection. I’m pretty sure this disconnect is not only where I am in the world, but is in the US as well. Nevertheless, we need to be on the same page: children should express themselves in a healthy way and done so often. Box of Feelings in RESILIENT Children, I think will be a great lesson plan to combat the group-think. It’s going to take some time to teach my kids all of the different words for emotions, but I think it will help them understand that variety is good and that my classroom is a safe place to express it. I also think that my kids’ parents will be impressed with their knowledge of so many English words that it could be a win-win. They will be happy that their children know so many words, that perhaps it will be okay to use them versus suppressing them. We shall see. If time permits, I’ll capture the lesson  on video when I teach it and share with you so you can see how it works out.


How to Help Your Kids Deal with Emotions

It’s often challenging to parents to respond to their children when they show extreme emotions of anger, frustration or fear.  Some parents immediately just tell their child to “Stop crying” or “Calm down and don’t scream.”  That is dismissing, disregarding and invalidating how your child feels.

Instead of shutting your children’s emotions down parents have an important role in helping children to understand and deal with their emotions.   Walking your child through an emotional outburst can be an effective way for your child to learn to have greater control of those emotions.

So, what exactly do you do when your child is having a “meltdown?”

First, ask your child what they are feeling right now. What emotion? If they don’t express themselves then you might suggest certain emotions they may be experiencing. “Are you angry?” “Are you sad?”  Children usually calm down if they feel they are being heard and that you’re not trying to fix them.

Then you might ask why they are feeling that way.  This often helps the child understand what leads to this emotion.

Then you might say, “How could you handle this situation?” “Do you need my help?”

Children can be taught that emotions are a natural part of being human and that everybody experiences some kinds of emotions.  Helping your children to deal with their emotions empowers them to better understand themselves and the situations around them.  It also helps them to regulate their emotions and to soothe themselves.

As parents, don’t give up if this process doesn’t work as smoothly as you would like.  Stick with it and continue practicing and eventually you will be pleasantly surprised at the progress.





Resisting Bullying

Bullying is one of the biggest issues in education today.  Thousands of children are bullied every day in and out of school—from kindergarten through high school.  It is estimated that 160,000 kids stay home from school every day because they are afraid of being the target of bullying, and one out of every 10 students who drops out of school does so directly because of bullying.

No child in America should be afraid to go to school. A child told us that “bullying does to people what saws do to trees.”  At only age ten she has had to learn this unhappy lesson of life. Imagine the difference that every caring adult in this society could make to change that view.

Resilient Children gives the tools to adults to do that! This book is a hands-on resource for educators, parents—all adults who care about inspiring kids to thrive and succeed.

Kids say that they feel a lot safer in school when they know that the adults will stand up for them.  This is crucial because a major reason that bullying persists is because kids feel adults don’t care.  The bully believes adults won’t bother and the bullied child feels ashamed to speak up believing that adults won’t pay attention.  Unfortunately, this is often the case because many adults believe that kids should solve their own problems and teachers aren’t sure how to intervene because they don’t have a clear procedure to follow.

Resilient Children provides the learning activities and the tool box of skills that your child needs to stand up to bullies.  It shows you how to help your child become resilient.  Specifically, that means managing his or her own behavior, learning positive attitudes and emotions, building positive social interaction, and developing feelings of competency and self-esteem.

When kids are taught social-emotional skills they are more self-confident and they are more content.  They begin building a tool box of abilities. That translates into being able to do better in school and to make and keep friendships. Isn’t that what we want for all kids?

The response to bullying isn’t about getting trained in martial arts.  It’s developing self- respect and self- esteem. That is why the very first skill that Resilient Children teaches is self- awareness which is recognizing and appreciating how each of us is unique and special.

Is Your Child Afraid To Go To School?


Pam Farkas, LCSW

Bullying is a severe problem today. Thousands of children are bullied every day in and out of school—from kindergarten through high school. In fact, it is estimated that 160,000 kids stay home from school every day because they are afraid of being the target by bullying. Phoebe Prince, who killed herself, January 14, 2010, after being relentlessly bullied, is the latest tragic symbol of bullying victimization.

How has bullying become so horrible and mean? What causes bullies to behave the way they do? Bullies are often looking for attention and to feel important and may think that bullying is a way to gain popularity. They think by pushing others around they will get a big reaction and feel more powerful. Often bullies are insecure and may have even been bullied themselves. In other cases, some children come from families that don’t realize that bullying is occurring. Children learn that behaviors like threatening, yelling, shouting and shoving is “normal” behavior.

We, as parents, educators and adults who care for children, must realize the importance and value of positive child development as a way to offset the negative behaviors that our children learn. We need to give children the knowledge and the skills to be successful in confronting life’s challenging demands. We need to give our children the “protective factors” to counter bullies. Don’t underestimate what powerful personal social-emotional skills we can instill in our children.

Resilient Children provides the learning activities and skills that your child needs to stand up to bullies. It shows you how to help your child become resilient, learn to control his or her own behavior, learn positive attitudes and emotions, learn positive social interaction, and develop feelings of competency. We can teach children to feel good about themselves and to meet their responsibility to their family, friends and the community. We want to create strong, confident children who will grow up to be independent adults who will be able to navigate positively through life.

Developing Resiliency Through the Power of Story

Listening to life stories of adults helps children build resiliency and self esteem. It allows them to envision new possibilities, to try again, to hope again, to believe in themselves again.

Your personal stories can help build resiliency in a child. Your stories of personal courage, perseverance and triumph feed the imagination of the young and the vulnerable. Your story can guide youngsters through peril or help them face dangers. Your heroic tales can inspire kids who are frightened or threatened.

Think about all you can talk about— turning points, special moments, triumphs, recovering from an accident or sickness, meeting an unforgettable character, success, friendship, kindnesses, people you’ve admired, a lesson learned.

Your vivid personal stories teach: how you stood up to a bully, found a way around danger, got through tough times, overcame a disappointment, kept your wits in a dangerous situation, created a new way out of an old place, rescued a friendship, braved a storm or survived the loss of a loved one.

You just may discover that “Once upon a time” can be the most profound words you will ever use to help a child succeed and thrive.

So, what’s your story?