Learning at Home: Changing Our Language to Help with Challenging Behaviors

REFRAME OUR WORDS for POSITIVE OUTCOMES

Now more than ever, we need to use positive, precise language to help support the development and practice of positive social and emotional skills.

Remember- the child is still learning. We need to always be modeling, guiding and practicing the skills we want our children to display.

We can reframe the way we view behavior to look through a lens that all behavior is a form of communication or a need for skill fluency practice (need for the behavior to be explicitly taught with precise language and practiced multiple times in multiple situations).

Reframe Our Words journeyintoearlychildhood

We also reframe our requests to our children to specifically teach what we DO want students to be doing. We are teaching the correct behavior instead of giving attention to the incorrect behavior. This is challenging when we are upset. We cannot regulate our children if we are not regulated ourselves.

Walk away, take three deep breaths, and then reframe your request using direct language of specifically what you want your child to do.

EXAMPLES:

STATEMENTREFRAME to the POSITIVE and/or to the PRECISE
Don’t run.Use walking feet to stay safe.
Don’t yell.Use a quiet voice to be ready.
Don’t hit your brother.Keep your hands to yourself.
Stop throwing your food.Food stays on the plate or in your mouth.
Don’t look away and listen to meEyes are looking at me and ears are open for listening.
Be nice. (Too vague and abstract for young children. They need concrete rules.)Say “thank you.”
Be kind. (Too vague and abstract for young children. They need concrete rules.)You take a turn first and then your sister takes a turn.
Don’t grab it from your sister.Choose a different toy. Your sister is playing with that. Ask your sister if you can play with it after her.
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Learning at Home: Teaching the When and the How of Taking Deep Breaths

Teaching Your Child When to Take a Deep Breath (noticing signs in their bodies)Variety of Ways to Teach Deep Breathing journeyintoearlychildhood.com

and How to Take Deep Breaths

We, most likely,  all need some deep breaths right now.

Sit with your spine in a line, feet flat on the floor, inhale through your nose, exhale through your mouth.

Repeat 3 times.

Why- there is scientific evidence that taking deep breaths truly slows down our stress response- it is like slowing but firmly stepping on the gas pedal. It also produces a feeling of calm, it is relaxing, we don’t need any equipment, it provides more oxygen to the brain which improves our thinking and we can take deep breaths anywhere!

Children need to be taught when they need to take deep breaths and how to take deep breaths. If a child is already escalated and upset, this is NOT the time to start teaching how to take deep breaths. It would be like someone telling us to slow down, stay calm and take deep breaths when we are out camping and running from a bear that just spotted us! If your child is upset, let them see you taking deep breaths- gift them your calm BEFORE you tell them to take deep breaths. After they see and respond to your calm, then you can gently encourage them to breathe like a bunny or smell the flower and blow out the candle.

Remember to gift your calm – when you exhibit calm behavior and slow, even, deep breathing, the child will start to mimic. An escalated adult cannot deescaluate a frustrated child.

Teach different ways to take deep breaths when the child is calm. Have fun! Make it into a game.

How to Teach Deep Breathing:

  • Choose one metaphor or way of taking deep breaths that your child can relate to, when your child is calm and in a good mood.
  • Show a visual of the method and hang it on the refrigerator, in the play area or in the child’s sleeping area.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice at all times of the day. Students need lots and lots of practice so that the techniques can be used automatically in times of stress. It takes LOTS of practice to become an expert.
  • Teach your child to recognize signs of stress, frustration, and anger such as face getting hot, clenched fists, heavy breathing, crying, sweating, scrunched eyebrows, pounding heart.
  • Teach your child the difference between short, quick, shallow breaths and long, deep, calming breaths. We want students to be using deep breathing since short breaths can actually make anxious feelings increase.
  • Model and role-play different situations practicing self-talk such as “I am upset that he took my toy. I can breathe like a bear 7 times.” “I am nervous about your mom working at the hospital today. I can take 7 bunny breaths.” “I’m frustrated that I don’t know what to make for dinner but I can take 7 deep breaths and that will help me think better.”

I have opened my packet of 11 different ways to teach deep breathing as a FREE DOWNLOAD. I hope the visuals and ideas for different methods of teaching deep breathing are helpful for both you and your child.for blog

 

Building Friendships through Intentional Design of Centers

friendships centers journeyintoearlychildhood.com

Aristotle once stated,  “who would choose to live, even if possessed with all other things, without friends.”

Many of our students struggle with the basic components of building friendships such as asking to join in play, suggesting play “Let’s…”, sharing, taking turns, changing perspectives, cooperating, and using respectful language.

We, therefore, must directly teach friendship skills through intentional, deliberate discussions and opportunities throughout the day. These opportunities can be embedded into the activities and work that is already occurring in the classroom setting.

Intentional Design of Free Choice Centers and Small Group Learning Centers:

  • To encourage sharing, do not provide materials for each student. For example, if 5 children are working on a project that requires glue sticks, only provide three. Teach the students how to ask for the glue sticks instead of grabbing and model how to share.self reflection form FREE DOWNLOAD journeyintoearlychildhood.com
  • Have students complete a self-reflection sheet on friendship skills following center time. Example of a Self-Reflection form. (FREE DOWNLOAD)
  • Designate students who are the distributors of certain materials. For example, in a small group, Carlos has all of blocks, Juanita has all of the magnetic letters and Ian has all of graphic organizers and pencils. Each student must ask their friend for the materials needed by using the student’s name and by using kind words.

 

 

 

 

 

NO Worksheets in Early Childhood Part IV

NO Worksheets in Early Learning

WHY?

Reason Number Six: Worksheets do NOT develop social skills.

No Worksheets in ECIn the adult world, it is rare that we are told to do our own work and keep our eyes on our own paper. We collaborate on challenging tasks with colleagues. We gather information and learn new perspectives when we can work, brainstorm, and problem-solve together. This is the same for children. They are social beings who need multiple opportunities to engage in hands-on and inquiry learning experiences with their peers.

Follow Up on Teaching Deep Breathing

first pageLast week we talked about why it is important to teach students how to breathe deeply and different techniques to use.

Research tells us that children usually need to take at least 5 deep breaths and children who have experienced trauma may need to take 7-10 deep breaths.

It is helpful to give students a visual to count the breaths they are counting. Not only does this help them keep track of the number of breaths but also gives them a cognitive skill to focus on to move their thinking from flight-freeze-fight to frontal lobe, rational thinking.

Students can count on their fingers or use visuals in which they move a piece from one area to another. Deep Breathing free resource. The resource includes a board for both 5 and 7 deep breaths.

Teaching Deep Breathing

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Teaching Deep Breathing

Why:

1.Breathing influences all other systems in our bodies. Slowing our breathing and being conscious of our breathing helps us to calm our nervous system. Therefore, this is a skill that students will need throughout their entire lives.

2. Easy to do anywhere – with no equipment- it is portable!

3. Produces a relaxed state of being

4. Can be calming

5. Improves oxygen to the brain which in turn improves our thinking ability

6. Provides us with a sense of control

How to Teach Deep Breathing:

  • Teach each technique – one at a time to the entire class when everyone is calm and in a good mood.
  • Show visuals of each technique and post them in a place where students can use them as reminders.
  • Practice, Practice, Practice at all times of the day. Students need lots and lots of practice so that the techniques can be used automatically in times of stress. It takes LOTS of practice to become an expert.
  • Teach students to recognize signs of stress, frustration, and anger such as face getting hot, clenched fists, heavy breathing, crying, sweating, scrunched eyebrows, pounding heart.
  • Teach students the difference between short, quick, shallow breaths and long, deep, calming breaths. We want students to be using deep breathing since short breaths can actually make anxious feelings increase.
  • Model and role-play different situations practicing self-talk such as “I am upset that he took my toy. I can breathe like a bear 7 times.” “I am nervous about the fire drill. I can take 7 bunny breaths.” “He cut in line. I can say, “It’s okay” and take 7 deep breaths.”

for blog

11 Different Cards of Visuals for Teaching Deep Breathing

note: Send me an email at journeyintoearlychildhood@gmail.com, let me know that you signed up for my weekly blog and I will send you this resource for free.

Executive Functioning Linked to Dramatic Play

I recently had the privilege of working with some amazing teachers at Union Public Schools in Tulsa, OK. We discussed the benefits of dramatic play for children and the critical role of children developing complex play within dramatic play experiences for the development of their executive functioning capabilities.EF

PreK and K teachers are first and foremost teachers of social and emotional skills, self-regulation, attention, engagement, persistence, thinking symbolically, and cognitive flexibility. If students do not first learn these skills, then the academics and life with always be a struggle.

Research links dramatic play activities with the support of the teacher to  move students to more complex play as one of the best strategies for developing social/emotional and executive functioning skills.

The teachers developed visual analogies to help us always remember the link. Here are pictures of their insightful analogies. Thanks, Union Teachers!

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Cozy Corner/ Safe Spot Strategies

Designing a Cozy Corner (or Safe Spot):

A cozy corner or safe spot is a place in the classroom in which students can relax, calm their minds and bodies, and gather themselves back together to be ready to learn. It is a place in the classroom that is calming and that has a low sensory load. The use of the cozy corner must be taught at times when students are in zone of being ready to learn. We cannot teach students during times of dysregulated behaviors. Therefore, practice when to use the safe spot and what to do there before emotional dysregulation occurs.  For specific ideas of teaching the use of a cozy corner/safe spot, see Cozy Corner Feeling Board and Strategies.Journey into Early Childhood Cozy Corner Strategies and How to Set Up the Corner Effectively

Key Considerations:

1. Choose an area of the classroom that is out of the mainstream of traffic but that is also visible by the teacher at all times

2. Choose an area that feels cozy (some children like a tighter feel in order to calm down) but also make sure that the area has more than one exit (children who have experienced trauma will not be able to calm down in an area in which they feel trapped)

3. Soft furniture- add some softness to the area even if it is just a couple of pillows.

4. Be mindful of the colors that you use (this is true for the entire classroom as well.) Natural colors led to a sense of calm. Remove the bright primary colors- use them only to help a learning concept pop out.Deep Breath Free Download journeyintoearlychildhood.com

5. Items to add: sensory bottles (see journeyintoearlychildhood.com for directions), fidget toys and a couple of books on emotions or friendship, a Take Deep Breaths Board (free download), Teaching Deep Breathing to Calm the Mind and Body, and the Cozy Corner Feeling Board and Strategies).

6. Be mindful of aromas as they are often triggers for children who have experienced trauma, but you can try a sachet with lavender since it is calming scent.

Variety of Ways to Teach Deep Breathing journeyintoearlychildhood.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. The Cozy Corner or Safe Spot needs to feel safe! It is not a time-out or removal from classroom activities. It is a spot to de-stress and work on getting the mind and body calm and happy or at least, content.

7. Ask the student if they would like to take a break in the cozy corner or safe spot. Do not leave them there alone- make sure to go to them to follow-up and teach (not tell) the needed social skill or strategy.

8. Gift the student with your calm. Do not show anger, frustration, or crankiness. Model slow, easy breathing and calm, even voice.

9. Ask first before you touch a student.

10. Follow up with role-playing, modeling and LOTS and LOTS and LOTS of guided practice of appropriate social skills.

11. Teach deep breathing with cue cards (flower/candle, owl, bunny, bear, etc. as listed in the document or STAR breathing from Conscious Discipline).   Be mindful of colors (natural is best)- remove bright primary colors.

12. Again- this is a spot to feel safe- not to be reprimanded or punished. It is a place to talk through behaviors and learn/practice skills and strategies needed. Think connection- not correction. Think – “How can I teach the skill needed?”

 

Greeting Students Each and Every Day

TOP 10 Reasons Why to Greet Students at the Door  Each and Every Morning

Daily Greetings- The Importance of Greeting Your Students Each Day journeyintoearlychildhood.com
• Provides a smile and a reassurance that the teacher is glad the student came to school today, which sets the tone for a positive day
• Promotes a strong relationship between the teacher and student
Enhances a positive classroom climate
• Provides a moment of connection when you greet them by name- young children love to hear their name – let’s use them in positive statements
• Assists children with letting go of issues that may have occurred on the bus or at home- they are being welcomed to a new start to the day
• Promotes a sense of belonging and trust that school is a safe place
• Provides social and emotional support
• Demonstrates and models of how to greet others, how to use kind words, and how to be respectful
• Provides a proactive, preventive technique to reduce challenging behaviors
• Starts the day for the teacher with LOTS of smiles and positive interactions!

Tips:

  • Greetings must be delivered with sincerity and genuine care for the students. If you rush through greetings, the students will not feel valued or respected which may lead to challenging behavior.
  • Use the student’s names
  • Provide options that include touching as well as include no touching to meet the needs of all students
  • Use eye contact

FREE DOWNLOAD journeyintoearlychildhood.com

Click here for two versions of greetings

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(note: If you send me an email stating that you have signed up to receive my blog each week, I will send you the seven different versions for free.)