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Posts Tagged ‘social emotional learning’

Five Ways to Help Your Child Make Friends

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By Lee Scott

Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Our heart aches when our children suffer from an unkind word, are not included in a game or struggle to make friends. We all want our children to make friends and enjoy playful activities with others. There are five easy activities that you can do to help your children develop and maintain positive friendships that we use every day at The Goddard School.

Read Together – Children learn so much through the narrative of a great story. Look for books that feature friendships, helping others and sharing. Talking about the characters, their feelings and story outcomes helps to develop an understanding of how to be a friend.  A few favorites of The Goddard School are:

  • How Do Dinosaurs Play with Their Friends? by Jane Yolan, illustrated by Mark Teague;
  • Little Lonely Leigh by Sally Huss;
  • Making Friends Is an Art! by Julia Cook, illustrated by Bridget Barnes.

Play Games – Game-playing is a great way to help your children develop skills such as taking turns, self-regulation and following rules, all of which are essential for being a great friend. Select board games that are easy to follow at the start and add more challenging games. You can do this with online games as well. Choose games that at least two people can share. Once your children learn a game, invite a friend to play and share the games together.

Help Someone – Children learn empathy, caring and perspective by participating in activities to help others. For young ones, start with simple tasks such as creating a get-well card for a sick friend, collecting unused toys for children’s hospitals or making cookies together to give to a neighbor.

Play! – Provide open-ended opportunities for your children to play with others. Try not to go to venues where the children don’t have a lot of time to interact with each other, such as a movie or an amusement park. The entertainment is a distraction from interacting with other children. Instead, choose an outside playground or a park where children can make up their own games and play together.

Encourage and Model – Teachers at The Goddard School use two techniques to help children develop social-emotional skills. One is encouragement and praise. When you see your children exhibiting friendly behaviors such as sharing and taking turns, praise them. This encourages children to repeat the positive behavior. The other technique is modeling. By modeling positive, friendly behaviors, you can guide children to do the same. Be careful what you say within earshot of your children. Young children can pick up on unfriendly behaviors as well.

Learning to build friendships supports children’s development into well-rounded, emotionally healthy human beings. Try not to worry. By using these five activities, your children will be well on their way to developing the skills for many fun, engaging and long-lasting friendships.

Is Your Child Bullying Others? Look for These Five Signs

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By Lee Scott and Kyle Pruett, M.D.

Contributing Writers and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Members

Bullying is an unsettling topic for any parent, but it’s an important one as it can start early. Read this article to pinpoint five behaviors that could point to bullying and learn what you can do to teach your child awareness.

Observe your child in different settings if you have concerns, and look for these signs:

  • Increasingly makes fun of or tries to aggravate younger children or siblings;
  • Begins to blame others for his or her mistakes;
  • Is overly competitive and puts down others who struggle;
  • Consistently makes derogatory comments about others (adults and children), such as “So-and-so is fat” or “He can’t run as fast”;
  • Makes fun of others within a group of children and encourages friends to tease another child.

The best way is to address the behavior immediately when you see it. Talk to your children about how they think other children feel when your children act cruelly or say hurtful things. Help your children feel more secure by praising them when they do things for others, help you at home and accomplish something they have worked hard on. Discussing their behavior and providing immediate positive feedback for good behavior is essential. Also, watch what you say around the house. Young children reflect what they say and hear. Be careful not to put down others in front of your child, even that driver who just cut you off!

Another great way to begin the discussion on bullying and bullying prevention is through reading. Children often relate to the characters in the story, and it makes it easy to discuss difficult topics. Here are five great books for early learners to help them understand the hurt that bullying can cause:

  1. The Invisible Boy by Trudy Ludwig and Patrice Barton
  2. Tease Monster: A Book about Teasing vs. Bullying by Julia Cook and Anita DuFalla
  3. Billy Bully by Alvaro Galan, Ana Galan and Steve Simpson
  4. Me First by Helen Lester and Lynn Munsinger
  5. Dragon and the Bully by Steve Herman