Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Behavior is like an Iceberg...What's it REALLY saying to you?

Pop Quiz: 
You take a four year old to the zoo and he begins to have a complete meltdown.
Do you:
a. Take him to the bathroom and spank him?
b. Tell him that if he calms down you will let him play in the water park?
c. Distract him with food or looking at some more animals?
d. Yell at him and tell him how miserable he is and how he is ruining this trip for everyone and if he doesn't stop you're going to LEAVE!!!
e.  Breathe with him and acknowledge these difficult feelings and use them to guide you in your next appropriate step?  
When a child is having a meltdown or giving you fits about are you able to see it from their point of view and understand the message of the behavior or do you just want the misbehavior the STOP. 
One of the key components in helping children change their behavior is seeing it from their point of view.  What message is their behavior really sending and how can we use that to be of the most help? 
I saw an image similar to this one going around the internet several months ago.  I found it very helpful in reminding me that all behavior comes from an internal state.  Once we understand that, we can better guide children in the skills of self-regulation and managing their emotional mayhem.  I made a few "tweaks" to the original graphic to make it line up better with what we teach in Conscious Discipline.  I hope you find it helpful as you remember that if you only look at what you "see" and try to make it stop you're going to run into some problems and we ALL know how that went for the Titanic!!!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Setting and Reaching Goals

This quote from Stephen Covey goes along with our post from yesterday.  If you don't know where you're going how are you going to get there?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Helping Children Reach Their Goals

I am such a geek when it comes to professional development!!!  I absolutely LOVE TO LEARN!!!  Something really BIG happened for me last week!!!

I reached a BIG goal!!!  It has been a life dream of mine to be able to share my passion for teaching and learning on the national platform.  Last week that dream came true when I presented at the  NAEYC Conference in Dallas, Texas.  Lindy McDaniel from Considerate Classroom was my co-presenter and I was thrilled to have such a talented friend along side me all the way through this experience!  I could not have done it by myself! 

Lindy's blog is like the MECA of Early Childhood Special Education!!!  If you haven't checked it out already GO THERE NOW!!!!  She is AMAZING!!!  When others think there is NO way to help a child with special needs she says, "YES THERE IS"!!!  She will help you find a way with all her free videos and printable downloads.  She has such a giving heart!

Our presentation at NAEYC focused on helping children reach their goals and creating an optimal learning environment.  We shared many ideas for focusing on WHAT YOU WANT and then figuring out the steps for getting there.  You cannot change behavior by focusing on what you DON'T want!

Using a School Family Agreement is a great way to create a safe learning environment and teach children how to set and reach goals at school.  These are the guidelines we use as a School Family to help us know how to interact safely with one another on a daily basis.  Here is an excellent example of a School Family Agreement from a preschool classroom I visited recently.  
Notice how clear and specific the each statement is.  There are also appropriate pictures to show children what you WANT them TO DO.  This teacher set her class up for success by making this into a ritual that they did together every day as they continued to practice how to reach each of these goals!
She has this special basket that contains the names of all her "treasures" (her students).  She calls each child up to commit to keeping the School Family safe by placing their name on the Safekeeper Board near the commitments.  She is brilliantly aiming her attention as well as the attention of her students on what she WANTS them TO DO!  (I may or may not have gotten a little choked up when I witnessed the beauty of this ritual).  :)
Finally, here is one of my dear friends who is implementing Conscious Discipline in her Head Start Classroom.  She is absolutely brilliant and her passion for helping young children be their best just shines through!!!  She is sharing her class agreement which she has taught with rhythm and motions to help her children pick up the pattern, unite, and focus on moving in a positive direction!
By making commitments we are helping our children see that they are a part of something bigger than themselves.  We are also helping them discover that their teacher (the Safekeeper) is a safe conscious adult who owns their own upset, handles it appropriately, and can be trusted as a guide to come along side them whenever they need help. 
My week in Dallas wouldn't have been complete without the many treasured memories I created with my Conscious Discipline Family.  Dr. Becky Bailey and my dear friends have been that School Family for me and they have helped guide me as I move one step closer (with imperfect progress) toward becoming my best self!  I hope you'll join me!  Until next time, I wish you well!  

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Peaceful Playground

I visit a lot of early childhood programs.  One of the most difficult environments in many programs is the playground.  The wide open spaces, less structure, and excitement can lead to conflict. 

Let's face it!  Teachers are just as excited about getting outside as the children are!!!  Many teachers see this as a time to relax and let the children play while they watch.  Although it is a very relaxed environment, there are many opportunities to help children learn self-regulation and social skills on the playground!

If you plan ahead and teach children the structures necessary to help them be safe on the playground you will make outside time much more enjoyable for everyone!!!

One essential tool for shutting off the stress response and helping children feel safe is VISUALS!  Before releasing children to play on the playground, make sure you take time to MAP out the playground expectations for everyone.  Model your expectation by acting it out yourself or having children role play for you.  Add pictures because pictures govern behavior for young children.  Practice with the children doing it the "right" way and notice them when they do!  When a child goes up the steps and down the slide say, "You did it!!!  You went up the steps and down the slide!  Way to go!!!"

Turn those visuals into a classroom book that can be referred to often!  If you would like a free copy of my playground book just follow this link!  Place it in your classroom library and pull it back out whenever you need a reminder of how to create a peaceful playground environment!  Until next time...I wish you well!