Guest blog post by Julie Smith, Head of Early Childhood and Director of Parent Learning
The last installment in the Inspiring Learning Series for 2011-2012 on March 17 featured local pediatrician Dr. Dudley Bell and local educator Karen Wilson. They explored this topic that comes up so often in the minds and hearts of parents and others who support the lives of children. “Social “ is defined as living in companionship with others or in a community, rather than in isolation and seeking or enjoying the companionship of others (Dictionary.com). It may be that adults are so interested in this topic in the lives of children because it is often a theme in their own lives.
QUESTIONS OFTEN ASKED BY PARENTS
How much do I need to intervene in my child’s social life?
How can I achieve the right balance of helping my child and letting them solve their own problems?
What are the best ways to help children and how can I do this?
Often parents have a great deal of anxiety and Dudley and Karen hear it. This anxiety is typically fueled by fear. Parents wonder if an action they take will actually harm their child. This type of fear fuels several very common conversations:
Should I delay the start of school for my child?
How can I choose the “right “ activities for my child?
How can I monitor technology?
Dr. Bell, with his ever-present sense of humor says, “Parents show up and say I am worried my teen is texting all of the time. The next parent may say, I am worried because my teen never texts anyone!” Each response is fueled by anxiety.
Anxiety aside, here are some helpful resources regarding these common worries:
Redshirting: Holding Kids Back From Kindergarten
Hurried Child Syndrome
Just As You Thought More Teens Are Texting
The answer to questions like these may be found if we pause long enough to ponder: Why am I doing what I am doing? This is best examined in quiet moments of reflection and in safe communities of other parents. When parents are able to form partnerships, anxiety often decreases. Growth in children and adults most often occurs in the hard places, though we don’t always want to admit this. As parents, when we are able to form partnerships these rough or turbulent places can be navigated with less anxiety. The ultimate way to live is with joy and confidence. People who are able to do this enjoy healthy social lives as well!
This blog was posted by Summit Guidance Counselors Bekah Sidden and Devon Davis.
Helping Our Kids Cope With Life’s Obstacles
UNDERSTANDING THE LIFE AND MIND OF THE CHILD FRAMES OUR ACTIONS
How adults view the child influences the relationship we have with them. The goal is Interaction not Reaction.
Do we believe children are competent and capable? If we do, the way we involve ourselves in our children’s lives will look very different than if we think we always have to rescue, fix and help. Karen Wilson spent a month in Italy studying the schools in Reggio Emilia. These schools are known for their view of children as powerful and filled with potential. She witnessed the Italian way of life first-hand and loved the open minds and curiosity adults brought to their work and relationships with children.
Free from anxiety adults can move into the role of mentor or guide. Observing our children and watching them mindfully can help validate the belief that they are so much more capable than we think, even from a very young age. Keeping these questions in mind is helpful:
Do I really know this child ?
What is driving their behavior?
Living with a curious mindset fueled by questioning can aid us in our role as guide and mentor. Asking questions when children come to us with difficult or complicated scenarios from their social lives can be the most powerful tool of all.
Adults can be leaders in the important work of modeling what to do with feelings that are an inevitable part of living with others. Feelings can be identified, examined and understood. They do not always have lead to action. Resilient people know the importance of managing their own feelings. The existence of feelings do not always need to be judged. Karen Wilson reminded of us of the wonderful work of Michael Thompson, who encourages parents to “interview for coping rather than interviewing for pain.”
Here are some resources moving forward:
What Parents Can Do: Secrets of Social Life
PRACTICAL TIPS TO HELP CHILDREN FLOURISH
Build in regular time and space for your family. Create rituals surrounding routines.
Engage in meaningful conversation. Look at the world from multiple perspectives.
Problem solve through wondering
I wonder what it feels like?
I wonder what you can do about....?
Be deliberate in involving children in relationships, across generations and provide opportunities for adults to become mentors.
Extended family and neighborhood
Karen Wilson and Dudley bell recommend the following books:
Best Friends, Worst Enemies: Understanding the Social Lives of Children by Michael Thompson
Mom, They’re Teasing Me by Michael Thompson
Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child by John Gottman
How to Raise a Child with a High EQ by Lawrence Shapiro
Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman
We Can Work It Out: Conflict Resolution for Children by Barbara Pollard
The Unwritten Rules of Friendship: Simple Strategies to Help Your Child Make Friends by Natalie Madorsky Elman
Follow up: The Social Lives of Summit Children
This session held on April 24 focused on the ways Summit supports children’s social development. Suggestions for parents were provided as well. It was led by Julie Smith, Director of Parent Learning, Bekah Sidden, Lower School Guidance Counselor and Kassy Gallup, Upper School Guidance counselor.
Summit has three guiding beliefs that are reflected throughout our community each day.
Children are resilient and capable.
Children can learn to advocate for themselves.
Connections with others matter.
Listen to this talk here.
Building Resilience: Helping Your Child Cope With Frustration at School
This website helps parents understand development and stages children pass through. It is also a resource to help understand Responsive Classroom. Access it here
A link to the article Self-Discipline Outdoes IQ in Predicting Academic Performance of Adolescents
This site has wonderful book recommendations. Access it here