Introducing “How To SEL” – Everyday Child and Family Social Emotional Coaching

Joint Venture By leading SEL experts Caroline Maguire, M. Ed., and Scarlett Lewis

Social Emotional LearningNewtown, CT (April 12, 2021) – The Choose Love Movement, a non-profit SEL organization, in partnership with Caroline Maguire, parenting and SEL expert, announced today the release of How To SEL, an innovative essential life skills coaching subscription designed to make social emotional learning (SEL) skills easy to learn and implement for everyone, every day.

How To SEL, released in time to help address the very real possibility of a secondary social emotional trauma wave, offers desperately-needed SEL support to both children and adults who have been impacted by the pandemic and increased racial inequity. With an affordable entry point at $19.99 a month, this professionally-developed ‘how-to’ instructional video coaching, with engaging activities, and a live monthly Q&A with SEL experts, is intentionally designed to be accessible to all. All proceeds benefit Choose Love For Schools, a free SEL program for educators.

Harvard University researchers have found that about two-thirds of children ages 7 to 15 had clinically significant symptoms of anxiety and depression, and the same number had behavioral problems such as hyperactivity and inattention, between November 2020 and January 2021. That is a huge jump from the 30% with anxiety and depression symptoms and the 20% with behavioral problems before the pandemic. *

Parents, caregivers, professionals and community advocates can learn how to easily incorporate SEL strategies into their daily lives at home, school, or even in the community. This one-of-a-kind coaching series delivers engaging professional coaching techniques with demonstrations of actual scenarios with children that anyone can quickly pick up and use in real life situations. Each month will feature a carefully-curated life skills theme and include a variety of different formats to accommodate different learning preferences and resources to reinforce the lessons.

Social Emotional LearningEach How To SEL monthly offering shares one mission – to teach HOW TO empower the whole child. Parents and teachers can now explain – and demonstrate – in a way that enables children to understand what is happening in their bodies and minds. Children will learn how to develop and nurture friendships, engage in successful social interactions, and build self-control, empathy and sound decision-making skills.

Everyone who subscribes will receive a welcome kit containing two books – Why Will No One Play with Me? by Caroline Maguire, and Nurturing Healing Love by Scarlett Lewis – plus a Choose Love journal, a Spy Kit, and an assortment of merchandise for kids that coincide with the lessons.

Additionally, subscribers receive a personalized online dashboard to access Caroline’s demonstration videos, a LIVE monthly Q&A where subscribers can interact with Caroline and Scarlett, plus additional resources for further topic exploration.

Annual subscribers will receive a monthly pre-recorded master class with Scarlett Lewis plus leading health and wellness experts that focus on a parent or teacher’s mental health needs.

“Coping with your emotions is an essential life skill, and we created a go-to resource that empowers every parent to cultivate this skill in their children on a daily basis,” said Maguire, co-founder of How To SEL, parenting expert and author.

“Parents were always asking HOW to model and teach social and emotional character development to kids. We wanted to create an easy way for them to learn these transformative skills and strategies with others in their life, and be strengthened by them as well,” added Lewis, co-founder of How To SEL and the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement.

Social emotional learning skills are a critical component of a fulfilling life. The benefits of SEL include greater success in school and stronger relationship bonds to peers, partners, and colleagues. SEL is proven to create increased happiness, self-esteem, and empathy; better academic performance; lower anxiety and depression; and improved immune systems.

All proceeds from How To SEL will benefit the Choose Love Movement to help fulfill its mission to provide free SEL programs to schools, homes and communities.

For more information, please visit www.HowToSEL.com.

*WSJ 4/9/21

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About Caroline Maguire, M.Ed., ACCG, PCC

Caroline earned her undergraduate degree at Trinity College and her Masters of Education and Early Childhood Development with a specialization in social emotional learning (SEL) at Lesley University. Caroline is the author of the award winning book, Why Will No One Play With Me?, a playbook of foolproof scripts on social skills development.

She is the founder of a comprehensive Social Emotional Learning (SEL) training methodology for adults, parents, clinicians and academic professionals on how to cultivate emotional regulation, emotional intelligence, social-awareness and responsible decision-making skills. She is the founder and director of The Fundamentals of ADHD Coaching for Families training curriculum at ADD Coach Academy (ADDCA) – the only Coach Training program accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF).

After several years as a highly respected social skills clinician at the Hallowell Center Boston MetroWest, Ms. Maguire formed her own private practice. She is a sought-after lecturer and workshop facilitator on various topics related to social, emotional and behavioral learning. She is a permanent columnist on social skills in ATTitude Magazine, a favored contributor to U.S. News & World Report, Mind Body Green, Salon, Huffington Post, Today Parenting, ADDitude, Attention Magazine and WebMD. Follow her @AuthorCarolineM.

 

About The Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement

Jesse Lewis, a six-year-old first grader, was a victim of the Sandy Hook tragedy whose action saved the lives of nine classmates. Jesse left behind a message on a household chalkboard, “Nurturing Healing Love,” that became the inspiration for his mother, Scarlett, to found the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement.

The Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization with a commitment to reach students, educators, and individuals, nationally and internationally, and provide them with a simple, yet profound formula for choosing love. The Choose Love Programs are comprehensive, no cost, lifespan, next-generation social and emotional learning and character development programs. They teach children and adults how to choose love in any circumstance and help them become connected, resilient, and empowered individuals. These skills, tools, and attitudes have been proven through decades of scientific research to be the best way to ensure a healthy, meaningful, and purpose-filled life.

Its signature program, Choose Love For Schools™, is a no-cost infant/toddler through 12th grade curriculum that contains the simple universal teachings of courage, gratitude, forgiveness, and compassion-in-action – the foundational concepts of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL). Choose Love For Home™, Choose Love For Communities™, and Choose Love For Athletics™ are also available.

For more information, please visit www.ChooseLoveMovement.org. Also visit on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

Contact:

Jan Wilmot
Director of Marketing and PR
Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement
jan @ jesselewischooselove.org

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You’re Not a Bad Parent

Dear Mom: Adulting is Hard. If You Don’t Have This All Figured Out – It’s OK

Times have changed and what we are asked to handle now is not only so much more than our parents had to handle, it is so much more than we had to handle just one year ago!  You are cook, driver, psychologist, custodian, enforcer, nurturer and advocate all wrapped into one human being.

We Are in the Parenting Equivalent Of the Industrial Revolution

Do you wonder how we can help our children self-advocate, cope with anxiety, confront mean girls, jock boys, come to terms with not making the team or to face disappointment when you are barely hanging on by a thread?

With so many demands on parents now a days, it’s no wonder we feel burned out and overwhelmed.  No one has this all figured out – that is why there are so many parenting books, forums, blogs, TikTok videos, Instagram posts and parent support groups. We are in the parenting equivalent to the industrial revolution – trying to figure out a new, unchartered landscape that will change parenting forever. If there is any consolation, we are all facing this together!

Parenting ProblemsHow Parenting Has Changed Over the Past 20 Years

  1. IT Specialization – Parenting now requires us to manage technology at home for school, work and socializations while creating screen time boundaries!
  2. Masters in Uncomfortable Dialog – Parents now discuss sex, body image, gender identity, drugs and alcohol while managing misinformation and inappropriate media sources.
  3. Bully Busters – We are now helping even young children cope with the emotional issues caused by a life lived online.
  4. Self-Doubters – Information overload about trends in nutrition, parenting strategies and lifestyles leads modern parents feeling even mundane things must be analyzed, adjusted and improved.
  5. Calendar Police – Our daily schedules have become so much more structured due to dual income, a focus on academic achievement and our children’s activities that most of our days are spent planning and organizing.
  6. Sole Provider – An increase in single parent homes has also changed the way parents play, discipline, arrange play dates and enrichment to keep up with hectic dual home competitors.
  7. Helicopter Operator – A fear of violence and stranger danger has also changed how parents approach their child’s freedoms and self-reliance- as parents no longer allow their children to walk home alone or play for extended time without supervision. This has caused parents to be more involved in their children’s transportation, schedules and to create structured supervised play dates.
  8. College Recruiters – Parents have come to focus more on the college admissions environment, so parents now focus on making sure children have enrichment activities, unique and numerous extracurricular activities. These after school obligations have become a priority for parents and parents have to juggle a more demanding schedule with numerous activities such as band, soccer, music lessons, gymnastics, foreign language classes or academic tutoring in order to increase their appeal to future colleges and so parents now have to manage these schedules.
  9. Sherpas – While in the past parents relied on natural consequences today we drive soccer gear and lunch boxes to school and call soccer coaches to complain rather than remaining as consultants to our children.

Cut Yourself Some Slack

  • Practice Self Compassion – Treat yourself and others with kindness and respect. Cut yourself a break when things fall apart and celebrate when things go well.
  • Take Social Media Breaks – Think of it as brain-detox. No more “garbage in”.
  • Practice Self Care and Have Daily Rituals to Recharge – Maintain a healthy relationship with yourself. Care for your minds, bodies, and souls by engaging in activities that promote well-being and reduce stress. Doing so enhances our ability to live fully, vibrantly, and effectively.
  • Ask for help – relatives, friends and others will help or listen – Set your pride aside and just ask. Family, friends and older children want to help more often than you may think.
  • Connect- connecting with other parents reminds us we are not alone.

DO This At Home!

For scripts, tools, advice and actionable exercises on helping children develop social skills, check out Why Will No One Play with Me?

Deeper Dive:

10 Things to Calm You Down 

Stress Tips for Parenting During COVID

About Caroline Maguire

Caroline Maguire, M. Ed., earned her undergraduate degree at Trinity College and her Masters of Education and Early Childhood Development at Lesley University with a specialization in social emotional learning (SEL).

Caroline is the author of the award winning book, Why Will No One Play With Me?, a playbook of foolproof scripts on how to build social skills.

She created a comprehensive Social Emotional Learning (SEL) training methodology for adults, parents, clinicians and academic professionals. She is the founder and director of The Fundamentals of ADHD Coaching for Families training curriculum at  ADD Coach Academy (ADDCA) – the only Coach Training program accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF).

Ms. Maguire is a sought-after lecturer and workshop facilitator on various topics related to social, emotional and behavioral learning. She is a permanent columnist on social skills in CHADD’s Attention Magazine, a favored contributor to U.S. News & World Report, Mind Body Green, Salon, Huffington Post, Today Parenting, ADDitude and WebMD.

Download my free video “How to Tell a Tighter Story,” for advice on how to curb rambling and please join me on FacebookInstagramLinked InTwitterMediumPinterest

Essential Guide to Transitioning to Social Interactions – Post COVID

Social isolation was not easy at first. We weren’t prepared for it. Now, one year later, we’ve grown accustomed to a lack of physical human interaction.

I have heard from people all over the world, distressed that they are unable to meet people every day, to interact and to have mundane conversations. But NOW I am hearing even stranger – and scarier – messages. Many have come to prefer a life with limited interactions. How do we venture back to in-person social interactions?

How to Transition Back to Face-to-Face Social Interactions

Introverts and extroverts alike are now expressing trepidation at transitioning back to ‘normal’ social interactions. I believe that returning to socializing, especially indoors, will lead to social anxiety for many people. Those of us living in colder climates, with a more limited outdoor social exposure, may find it even harder.

Transitioning Back to Social Interactions is Not Going to be Easy

In our herculean effort to save ourselves and loved ones from death, we have given up our freedoms and activities and put our lives on hold. This has not come without cost. In an effort just to survive, we have lost subtle nuances including reading the room to interpret energy, facial expressions, body language and tone.

Social interactions are going to be weird at first as we try to unlearn a skill we have come to master – being socially distanced aficionados. No longer can we hide behind screens, or turn off a screen when we lost interest. How do we strike up a conversation or fein interest without looking awkward – both mentally and physically?

It’s Time to Practice Social Interaction Skills

Social InteractionsAs we transition back to ‘normal’ life, it is time to remember and refresh the social skills we have been learning since childhood. It seems funny that we need to learn the skill of communicating again. Didn’t we learn this in kindergarten?

It may feel like a hassle, or a task, but it is now time to transition back to physical interactions. It may feel natural at times, and so awkward at others, but at least all of us are in the same boat.

Let’s Sharpen our Rusty Social Skills

It’s time to address our fears and build our social resiliency again

1.  Take a gradual approach – ease back into socializing slowly and keep your expectations low. Millions of Americans are getting vaccinated against COVID-19 each day. The writing is on the wall, we will be returning to “normalcy” soon. But for many, returning to previous activities will feel daunting. If 5 activities in a month feels too much, do only 2. Make sure it is enjoyable.

2. Build in a reward system – Just as you might opt for a new haircut or get a manicure after losing 5 pounds, give yourself a reward for each time you call or walk with a friend.

3. Treat yourself and others with kindness and respect – All of us have a different threshold of comfort. Practice modifying your tone and energy to come across as calm, quiet, polite, lighthearted, relaxed, chatty, non-confrontational, cautious, respectful, thoughtful, detached, curious, dulcet, soothing, earnest, light, breezy, gentle.

Socializing 101

Each of us will need to prepare our return to society based on what feels comfortable. What is ‘right’ for your friend may not hold true for you. That is fine and, well, human. What we all share, however, is the need for kindness, willingness and determination to pull out of this pandemic better than before.

Do This At Home

Connection is a Verb

Read more about social skills

Download Connection is a Verb graphic

About Caroline Maguire

Caroline Maguire, M. Ed., earned her undergraduate degree at Trinity College and her Masters of Education and Early Childhood Development at Lesley University with a specialization in social emotional learning (SEL).

Caroline is the author of the award winning book, Why Will No One Play With Me?, a playbook of foolproof scripts on how to build social skills.

She created a comprehensive Social Emotional Learning (SEL) training methodology for adults, parents, clinicians and academic professionals. She is the founder and director of The Fundamentals of ADHD Coaching for Families training curriculum at  ADD Coach Academy (ADDCA) – the only Coach Training program accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF).

Ms. Maguire is a sought-after lecturer and workshop facilitator on various topics related to social, emotional and behavioral learning. She is a permanent columnist on social skills in CHADD’s Attention Magazine, a favored contributor to U.S. News & World Report, Mind Body Green, Salon, Huffington Post, Today Parenting, ADDitude and WebMD.

Download her free video “How to Tell a Tighter Story,” for advice on how to curb rambling.

Please join her on FacebookInstagramLinked InTwitterMediumPinterest

How To Help Shy Children Step Outside Comfort Zone

How Can I Help My Shy Child Make New Friends?

My child says it is too hard to play with new kids.  Aren’t we supposed to step outside our comfort zone? 

The first thing I suggest is to ask your child what makes this hard? Why does she avoid trying new things and joining in? The beauty of asking questions is that it allows the child to identify – for themselves – why this is the case and what lies outside their comfort zone. Your child may truly not know what to do or how to  join in.

Identify Something Each of You Can Work On

Make a pact with your child to each step outside your comfort zones and try something new.  Work on something hard for you and your child will work on this. Let her pick any activity, group or sport that she can just show up to. Introduce the concept of the comfort zone tool.

We all know how it feels to tackle something outside our comfort zone—all the more when it’s something hard for us.  (Read more about Comfort Zone on pages 147-149 in Why Will No One Play With Me?)

Comfort Zone

This exercise is a low-stress way to engage the child who is struggling to keep an open mind or start the process.  If your child has trouble with change, shows less buy-in than you wish or who says there is no problem, this can be invaluable.

Outside Comfort Zone Exercise

  1. Explain what it means when something is “outside your comfort zone” – What is our “comfort zone”?  Use examples from your own daily life. What things do you do easily every day? What things push you toward the edge of your comfort zone or clearly outside it? For example, I was nervous to learn to ski. It felt uncomfortable at first. You can prompt your child by asking questions about this idea of being uncomfortable and stretching to get beyond it. “Remember when you went to a new soccer team and felt like you wanted to stay with the old one?” Explain that in order to change and grow, we all must be willing to lean into discomfort and engage in the process.
  2. Outside comfort zone circle – On a piece of paper, have your child draw a large circle to represent his comfort zone. Leave a margin around the circle—that’s going to be the space for things outside his comfort zone. Ask him to jot outside the circle some things that are outside his comfort zone. Let your child tell you what those are.
  3. Inside comfort zone circle – Ask him to jot inside it things he does that are inside his comfort zone. These might include joining in with younger kids, staying out of the lunchroom, sitting only with one safe friend, things he loves like Legos, going to grandparents’ house, the after school program he prefers, eating favorite foods, playing with the same people or in the same place.
  4. Inside or Out? If your child hasn’t already named specific social expectations or situations, then ask, “Would _____ be inside your comfort zone or outside your comfort zone?”

Modeling is the Best Coaching Tool

I encourage you to push yourself into unfamiliar places. Modeling to your child that you are willing to do things that you wouldn’t normally do is the best way to coach them to do the same.

DO This At Home!

For scripts, tools, advice and actionable exercises on helping children develop social skills, check out Why Will No One Play with Me?

Deeper Dive:

What if my child won’t discuss getting help for social skills?

5 Ways to Maintain Your Child’s Social Skills During COVID

About Caroline Maguire

Caroline Maguire, M. Ed., earned her undergraduate degree at Trinity College and her Masters of Education and Early Childhood Development at Lesley University with a specialization in social emotional learning (SEL).

Caroline is the author of the award winning book, Why Will No One Play With Me?, a playbook of foolproof scripts on how to build social skills.

She created a comprehensive Social Emotional Learning (SEL) training methodology for adults, parents, clinicians and academic professionals. She is the founder and director of The Fundamentals of ADHD Coaching for Families training curriculum at  ADD Coach Academy (ADDCA) – the only Coach Training program accredited by the International Coach Federation (ICF).

Ms. Maguire is a sought-after lecturer and workshop facilitator on various topics related to social, emotional and behavioral learning. She is a permanent columnist on social skills in CHADD’s Attention Magazine, a favored contributor to U.S. News & World Report, Mind Body Green, Salon, Huffington Post, Today Parenting, ADDitude and WebMD.

Download her free video “How to Tell a Tighter Story,” for advice on how to curb rambling.

Please join her on FacebookInstagramLinked InTwitterMediumPinterest and download her free video “How to Tell a Tighter Story

5 Reasons Why We’re All Hyper-Sensitive Now (And How You Can Take Your Sanity Back)

Why We are Sensitive During COVID-19

sensitivityFor some – maybe for you – this pandemic has been dreadful. The isolation and loneliness. A job loss. Death or illness. New worries about finances, health or the future. The pandemic has left an indelible toll on the country.

Experts also warn of a “second pandemic” – an increase in mental and behavioral illness that follows the first pandemic in its wake. A report by the United Nations and World Health Organization indicates that 45 percent of Americans reported experiencing distress due to the COVID-19 crisis.

What is Sensitivity?

Being sensitive about something doesn’t mean it has to be warranted. It means that YOU are feeling something deeply. It can be real or perceived. Feeling rejection, worry or irritation may be setting off your emotional alarms, which may then push you fight flight or freeze mode. Dr Stuart Shanker compares this phenomenon to a car alarm. Once the alarm has been activated, just tapping the car can cause the alarm to be triggered again.

How to be sensitive to your own mental health during the COVID-19 crisis.

  1. Do a body scan – Take a read on how you are feeling in your body and mind by doing an emotional temperature scan. Ask yourself, “Am I being too sensitive?” “Are my feelings warranted?” If the answer is yes, engage in mindfulness practices to de-escalate the effects of hyper-sensitivity.
  2. Figure out your tolerances – There are things in all of our daily lives that drain our energy and irritate us. What feels heavy to you? What irritates you? This may be the pile of clothes on a chair in your bedroom or the broken latch on the gate that keeps swinging open.
  3. Create hope and joy—Take back your happiness – Joy is hard to come by lately. Wouldn’t it be great to order a big box of it on Prime? With so much out of our control, don’t get discouraged. Recall how you have ushered in joy in the past and try to mimic the activities. Music, dance, creating things, talking to friends are just a few examples of ways to bring back happiness.
  4. Pick daily activities to cope with frustrations and emotions– Each day that is unproductive or in solitary can potentially be a day that brings disappointment. What activities can you do each day of the month? Perhaps more sports, or add new interests. A trip to the craft store can foster some much-deserved creativity. The point here is to build on strengths, develop new interests, and strengthen relationships.
  5. Respond Rather than React –An overly reactive response might be to yell at someone. To pause and craft a response is a more thoughtful, centered response. Rarely do good things happen when instigated from a reaction.Individually, we are all coping with this global pandemic.

    We are all dealing with this pandemic in our own ways, but we all need to embrace self care. The best self-care steps start with the basics: your hygiene, your health, your sleeping and your nutrition.

    DO This At Home!

    For scripts, tools, advice and actionable exercises on helping children develop social skills, check out Why Will No One Play with Me?

    Deeper Dive:

    5 Ways to Use Social Emotional Learning to Bring Back Joy

Self-Awareness in Social Emotional Learning

 

3 Calming Strategies For Kids When They Hit The Wall & Fall Into A Total Panic

Who is this Kid?

Your child doesn’t reach out to a friend for weeks yet expects that friendship to resume right where it left off.

Your child rolls their eyes when you say that 7th grade was hard for you too.

Your shy child prefers to hibernate and tells you that this virtual life is better for them, yet you know they are hiding and opting out.

Your child is irritable from the minute she appears in the kitchen yet can’t express why.

This behavior probably leaves you wondering how to handle it, how to remain calm and how to help your child who may melt down if you broach the topic.

FightFlightFreeze response

F3 or the FightFlightFreeze response is the body’s automatic, built-in system designed to protect us from threat or danger. In fight, flight or freeze, your body’s chemistry changes because your body is in a defensive cascade and you are reactive and may not be able to access your thinking self.

The body’s internal alarm will continue to go off until something changes. In order to help your child bring their arousal level down and return to feeling safe, you must let your body know that there is no threat and that things are ok.

3 Calming Strategies for Kids

  1. calming strategies for kidsPause, Step away from the situation or find a place to use strategies—PAUSE encourages children to STOP irregular behavior and access the prefrontal cortex, allowing them to utilize their logical thought processes before acting. The power of the PAUSE is that it connects children with their prefrontal cortex and allows them to rationally observe highly charged emotional situations. By pausing, children can accomplish the following tasks:
    • Breathe and connect to their prefrontal cortexes, allowing them to use their logical thought processes.
    • Calm down and get a hold of their emotions.
    • Boss their bodies and stop any physical movement that may be causing problems.
    • Think of solutions to their upsetting problems or situations.

    calming strategies for kidsIf you plan on using PAUSE with your child, I’d suggest creating a visual cue or code word. The PAUSE button symbol (I got this concept from David Giwerc of ADDCA) seems to be very popular with kids, and I often print them out and laminate them for younger children, who like the physicality of “pushing” the PAUSE button. Older kids may prefer a code word or phrase, such as “Please take a moment to pause.”

  2. Respond with strategies – Ideally you and your child will have discovered strategies that have induced calm before. Some possibilities include exercise such as jumping jacks, running up stairs or doing push ups for 15 minutes increase serotonin and dopamine; Inhaling a scent that calms you; breathing until you reach a calmer state; Petting an animal until you feel the wise self return.
  3. Wait until calm returns – Don’t try to dish out solutions while your child is in this state. As the parent, you can pause and take a break. Trying to problem solve and get your point across, if your child in unable to listen, can cause more harm.

I recommend you print these strategies for immediate use if your child hits the wall and falls into panic. Another options is to have a key word you can say your child is in fight, flight or freeze mode and may not be able to think things out yet needs to implement strategies.

DO This At Home!

For scripts, tools, advice and actionable exercises on helping children develop social skills, check out Why Will No One Play with Me?

How Adept are You at Reading the Room?

The Importance of Tailoring Messages

Have you ever mis-spoken? Have you mistakenly hurt, offended or alienated someone?

More than likely, you answer yes. And more than likely, you regret it and wish you could change that interaction.

Tailoring messages and our contributions is important because it builds community and friendships.

Reading the Room

It is important to learn how to scan the space and environment for verbal and nonverbal energy, words or dynamics. Why? So we can tailor our messages.

Stress impacts our ability to read the room. We are all under stress due to the  uncertainty associated with the pandemic and the political environment.  Reading the room right now may be different than it was before so taking others’ perspective is more important now than before.  The good news is you can work on this both virtually and in person.

Reading the Room comes easily for some, and less easily for others.

Reading the Room

How to Read the Room Today in Our Current Climate:

  1. Keep the camera on – If you struggle with reading the room or you feel your organization is super complicated, use the visual cues to monitor your participation.
  2. Perspective Taking – consider others’ perspectives by doing an “inventory”. Kids love this too. Imagine the people in your life. What are their thoughts, insights, values? Try to walk in their shoes. Who is this person? What do I know about them? What is important to them? How should I address them and tailor my message in hopes of it being received?
  3. Observe – allow yourself to observe rather than feeling the need to contribute. Check out facial expressions, mannerisms, delivery, words, mood and context. Being a spy, or observer, is one of the best ways to read the room.
  4. Practice – Pick one mission to avoid overwhelm. For example, you may decide that you will try to interpret body language and facial expressions only rather than trying to observe everything.

Questions From Adults:

Q: I have a hard time with fast-paced conversations. How can I become more adept at absorbing the dialog faster so I can  respond more quickly?

A: I recommend that you practice jumping in and making chit chat. Start with family and friends. Also I have noticed that most people think they are delayed while others may not notice a delay. Count how many beats it takes to respond. Also, ask questions. People love to talk about themselves and this gives you time to think and prepare.

Q: How to a read poker face?

A: Use your spy skills and open questions to try to better understand the other party. Some “poker faces” are harder to interpret, so just try your best.

Q: In what ways does wearing a mask wearing and social distancing impact people?

A: We must recognize that we are in a “new normal”.  Without a doubt, COVID has changed the way we can communicate and engage, but I urge you to continue to stay connected, even if it needs to be outdoors, 6 feet apart and with masks.

Q: How do you recommend reading body language via zoom?

A: If you are in charge of the meeting, ask others to leave their cameras on. Listen to tone of voice if camera is on, or off. Specifically ask for further information and feedback if you can’t adequately read the signals. If you are in groups, come up with ways that you all can discuss things more openly. Consider your audience and estimate how they will receive your message(s).

Q: How do you recommend engaging with people we haven’t met before?

A: Without background information to fall back on, I suggest you assume the stance that your audience is tired, besieged, etc. If you come from an extra-conservative approach, the chances of doing something inappropriate lessens. Continue to remind yourself of the messaging and what “brand” you want to portray.

DO This At Home!

For scripts, tools, advice and actionable exercises on helping children develop social skills, check out Why Will No One Play with Me?

 

Are you an adult who struggles Reading the Room? Join me at the ADHD Women’s Palooza Summit, March 8 – 13, 2021. My presentation: Social Blind Spots: Couldn’t someone have told me I was embarrassing myself?  It is Free. Register here. 

How To Help Your Kid When They Regularly Misread Social Signals With Friends

Facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, and the context of a situation are social signals for us to pause, read, and decipher how to act. You know your child is rarely aware of subtle social signals and does not understand or read people’s moods to recognize what is important to them.

When children do not read or interpret nonverbal information, they tend to struggle to understand certain unwritten signals from teachers, friends, and future bosses.

Why Doesn’t My Child Pick Up on Social Signals?

You see your child ignore the signals and pleas from friends in social situations to switch games, go somewhere else or choose another song on the radio.

You suspect that your child doesn’t pick up on the teacher’s cues either when he alludes to something important, such as, “be sure to reread your notes.” Your child may even sit in the front row, and yet miss a punctuated tone, a lift an eyebrow, or be able to read between the lines when a lot of time is spent on a particular topic or page.

Subtle Social Signals are in Every Situation

For children and teenagers with executive function weakness, and especially those with social skills issues, it is hard for them to figure out how to interpret the teacher’s unspoken and subtle instructions that really flesh out the assignment.

Executive function is the management system of the brain that controls attention and organization. It provides the ability to organize information, remember and learn from past experiences, and integrate thought processes that shape perception and self–awareness. It helps children to adapt to new situations and self-monitor.  Without it, it is hard to show self-awareness of social cues and anticipates people’s reactions in social situations.

Often children who lack executive function skills are so impulsive that they tend to talk out of turn and usually don’t have a filter when it comes to expressing opinions. Sometimes they can be loud and impulsive, and they seem to miss necessary social signals that someone is annoyed with them, or that they are not fitting in with the current situation.

Help Build Social Signal Awareness in Your Child

You may think you’ve told your child how to behave at least 100 times, but nothing has worked. Follow these suggestions for help your child adapt their behavior:

1. Teach your child to read the room

Children have good intentions but they may not know how to tune in and read the room. Often children can struggle when feeling bored, overwhelmed, tired, or when facing a self-regulating challenge. Reading the room – the ability to recognize the players and energy – will allow them to understand their social role, develop greater situational awareness, and tune into social cues to create more socially expected and appealing behaviors. Ask your child, in the moment, to stop and describe what the look on your face should portray.

In every environment, there are expectations and unspoken rules. To present the best face to the world, you have to decipher those expectations by reading the room.

2. Read between the lines-

social signals

As your child communicates online or in-person, the way something is said can change the meaning so it is important to read between the lines. Drawn out words change the meaning of a sentence, for instance, a stress on the adjective i.e., “that is SOO nice”, changes the meaning from positive to a negative, snarky comment. Intense verb adjectives and adverbs, such love, hate, and always can be signs of sarcasm.  Reading between the lines can help translate what the person means, allowing you to make a choice on how to respond.

3. Teach your child to be a social spy!

Being a social observer is a start, but you can make it fun with Social Spy! The concept is that the child can to go into public with a mission to be a social spy where she will obtain specific social information. Have your child spy and report on what other kids at school are doing and saying. The idea is to observe a specific behavior. Have her report on how her peers dress, what they talk about at lunch, and where they sit. Have your child work through these scenarios, pause and pay attention to a specific set of behaviors.

Specifics to look for:

  • Facial Expressions
  • Body language
  • Expected behavior the situation demands
  • Unspoken rules of the environment
  • People’s mental states
  • Social norms
  • Perspectives and points of view

 

4. Help your child witness social signals

social signals

Helping your child witness and reflect is one of the most important things a parent can do to help their child build social skills. Encourage your child to self-reflect on actions and thoughts by  asking open-ended questions to allow candid speech. Instead of telling your child, “You can’t have friends if you don’t join anything,” ask, “How do kids connect and make friends? What steps does it take to connect with people?” Instead of “You are really loud when you play video games,” ask “What do others do when playing these games?” Let them think for themselves about how others perceive, engage and interact.

There are Lots of Ways to Build Social Skills at Home.

By helping your child become more self-aware and improve her social skills, your child will become a more “clued-in” child with a greater ability to develop strong, life-long friendships. With support, your child CAN learn to assess the situation and respond appropriately. Using questions, fun tools, and specific methods, you will help your child read the room, similarly to a coach teaching your child how to play volleyball.

It’s a journey, and consistency is the key. Parents should find comfort in knowing that all children benefit from patience and nurturing.

For scripts, tools, advice and actionable exercises on helping children develop social skills, check out Why Will No One Play with Me?

Deeper Dive:

Collaborate Virtually at School and Home

Making Friends

How to help a kid learn to join in

10 Things To Calm YOU Down When Raising Kids With Executive Functioning Challenges

Raising Kids With Executive Functioning Challenges

Building strategies to help you calm down, thinking and wise in the moment – even when your child is reacting, melting down or seems oblivious to something urgent and necessary – is paramount.

Weak executive function means your child may be immature and might struggle with social and academic realms. Your child’s frontal cortex development may be 3 years behind neurotypical children.

Raising these kids can be rewarding, yet it also means you as a parent often have to be less reactive and more responsive when guiding your child.

Does any of this sound familiar? Your child:

  • Does her homework but she does not turn it in.
  • Polks someone so much on the bus that you have to apologize to the child’s parent.
  • Spaces out during class and misses the key information so you have to teach her the material rather than writing your critical report.
  • Melts down like a toddler, yells at you in rage or hides in the basement.

Raising children with executive function challenges can be draining. It is important to build your own internal resources so you can respond to your child or teenager in a way that makes you an effective parent.

10 Things To Calm YOU Down When Raising Kids With Executive Functioning Challenges

  1. Have a mantra  – Reminding yourself that you are in control and that your child truly is doing the best they can – most of the time. A manta such as “they would if they could” or “this is a long term journey” Or “I’m in the middle of something tough, but I can do this!”
  2. Breath – Breathe in and out eight times, or set the timer on your phone and breathe until you feel calmer. Say something to yourself that helps you regulate your anger. When parents are angry it is like throwing kindling onto a fire. Read more on the benefits of the pause.
  3. Take a break- Don’t be afraid to say you need to take a break and that you cannot give any answers right now or discuss the issue further. Some children or teens will follow you around campaigning for an answer but you do not have to give them an answer on.
  4. Create daily calming rituals – Your cup needs to be filled in order to support your child.  Actively create daily practices that you can draw on to relieve stress. Simple rituals that will allow you to work with your five main senses will calm you down when you are beset with a racing mind, insomnia or general worry. Rituals can include: mindful listening, self-massage, vision boards, and tea ceremonies.
  5. Identify your own body signals – Our bodies tell us when we are becoming heated. When you are experiencing an emotional reaction, signals in your body and mind will let you know a reaction is brewing. If you pay attention to these physical signs, you are better able to enact coping strategies and remain calm. Learn your signals so you know when you are losing control. Is your face turning red, do you breathe heavily, clench your fists? Recognize the signs and practice self control.  (See chart above for common body signals).
  6. Reframe negative self talk – Recall that your child would do better if they could. Walk around the block and remind yourself that their struggles are real.
  7. Think of all your child’s strengths and positive qualities – It can be easy to concentrate on their tough traits at times, but reminding yourself that they are funny, sweet, kind, thoughtful and creative will help put things back into perspective.
  8. Visualize a Peaceful, Calm and Favorite Place – Do you love the beach, a quiet reading nook, or a walk in nature? Get yourself mentally in this peaceful place when your running low on empathy.
  9. Drink a hot and comforting beverage – Tea ceremonies are a great way to relax. Schedule a tea or hot beverage break into your day or run for the tea kettle when things get hot. Better to have hot tea than a hot head!
  10. Sing a song – I personally think that singing in your head can be more effective, and more considerate, than out loud. When songs are in our head, we don’t worry if we have all the words, if our tone is off or if we are annoying others. It is a great way to be present and to calm yourself down.

DO This At Home!

There are Lots of Ways to Build Social Skills at Home.

It’s a journey, and consistency is the key. Parents should find comfort in knowing that all children benefit from patience and nurturing .

For scripts, tools, advice and actionable exercises on helping children develop social skills, check out Why Will No One Play with Me?

Deep Dive

Watch how to create a mental video with your child to help them get tasks done.

 

Why Does My Kid Think He Knows Better Than The Adult?

You may not feel you needed to be told that arguing with adults is a social faux pas but if your child does not understand the dynamic, then coaching him to understand how his behavior impacts others, and how other people feel when he argues can help him learn important social skills for a lifetime.

Your Child Thinks He Knows Better Than the Adult

Parents often tell me that their child’s social behavior is baffling. Their child will get on their hind-legs and speak back to authority figures. The parent insists this is not how the child was raised and that their siblings don’t behave in this manner.

What Your Teacher Tells You

In yet another email, your child’s teacher details another troubled interaction. He had an yet another outburst your child insisted she knows better and was unable to self-soothe or settle down.  You have had parent-teacher meetings, with and without your child, as well as numerous discussions at home. Nothing changes.

What Your Child Tells You

“I wasn’t talking out of turn. My teacher just doesn’t like me.”

Try as you might, your child remains oblivious to his behaviour. In her mind, she was just stating facts. When the teacher asked her to settle down, she felt that her opinion would be ignored.

Consider that your child’s perspective doesn’t take into account stepping into her teachers shoes and understanding how the teacher feels.

It’s About Perspective

Your child doesn’t have the capacity to understand how they come across. Perspective into our own behavior and choices allows us to recognize social cues. Their intentions are good, but they don’t really know how to tune in and “walk in the other person’s shoes.”

Your child has no reason or desire to be “bad” or uncaring. Their intentions are good, but they can struggle with interpreting social cues.

4 Proven Coaching Techniques to Build  Greater Awareness and Perspective

The techniques below are used by professional coaches that parents can tailor for home use.

Open Questions

This coaching technique eliminates a lot of unnecessary friction. Rather than telling your child, “You need to stop arguing with your teachers,” instead ask, “How do you think your teacher feels when you speak out of turn? What impression did you mean to make? What made what you had to say so important? How can you say this without seeming to argue?” This allows your child to consider others’ thoughts and how their behavior can negatively or positively affect others.

Open-ended questions use the words who, what, when, where, how, and why. It can be beneficial to have your child look at your face and interpret what you are currently feeling.

No matter what the answer is, even if it’s a shrug and an, “I don’t know,” continue to ask him, “What was the appropriate behavior?This begins to help the child think about what the unspoken social rules were and what they are expected to do in the future.

On an ongoing basis – as when driving in the car -and on the spot when the child is rude or dismissive, ask him open-ended questions that allow him to reflect on his actions and how they might make other people feel.

2. Become a Social Observer

To help your child stop arguing and build awareness, introduce the concept of social spy.  Social spies observe people in different settings and then record their observations about social cues including, vocal volume, tone, eye contact, physical presence, interrupting, arguing, etc.

Here is how it works;  Go to a public place, hotel lobby, book store, mall. Watch and notice the social cues and identify what unspoken rules the environment dictates. discuss both of your observations and create an image of positive social behavior to navigate toward and .

3. The Polite Pretend

Your child may dislike being “bored”, and may act out in the classroom, leading to outbursts or just checking out altogether. Some will provoke and argue with the teacher to be funny or get a reaction from friends. Rather than lecturing your child, ask him what happened in the specific situation. Start by saying, “I’ve noticed that you sometimes struggle to stop arguing with your teacher and I understand you don’t mean to be disrespectful.

Remain neutral and calmly discuss why pretending to be polite is necessary. Talk to him about things that do not interest him and this dilemma of being polite. Rather than just telling him, work together to discuss the benefits or being polite and figure out polite ways to react when a conversation feels boring or when he’s too tired to participate in the conversation. Be sure to also work on tone to avoid sounding dismissive and argumentative.

4. Reading the Room

In each environment, there are expectations and unspoken rules. To present the best face to the world, you have to decipher those expectations by reading the room. Before entering a room or gathering, help your child pause, observe and tune into the participants, energy and discussion before jumping in.

DO This At Home!

There are Lots of Ways to Build Social Skills at Home.

Children who can’t stop arguing and therefore tend to dominate conversations, can learn to be able to interpret and consider the feelings of others. It’s a journey, and consistency is the key. Parents should find comfort in knowing that all children benefit from patient and nurturing parents and the open-ended questions technique is well suited to parents who wish to help their children turn social struggles into positive outcomes.

For scripts, tools, advice and actionable exercises on helping children develop social skills, check out Why Will No One Play with Me?

Deep Dive

10 Ways to Teach Your Child Social Skills in Daily Life

What do we do when our child is a bossy rule follower?

 

 

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