Posted by West Side Montessori
Picture a peaceful nine-year-old child, kind and giving, passionate and joyful, and mostly in control of his or her emotions. Is this some alien species? Or is it possible to nurture peaceful children in our highly competitive, cynical and polarized society?
Research tells us that educating the emotions, teaching self-control, has a wider impact than preventing violence. Look at the widespread anti-bullying programs in place across our country today. And yet, mean spirited, demeaning behavior persists in elementary schools and beyond.
Surround your child with a caring community of adults who model emotional competence. Gently but firmly set the boundaries for your child’s behavior to provide both physical and emotional security. When you lose your temper with your child out of frustration or exhaustion, apologize. Explain your feelings and actions to help your children recognize and accept their own mistakes, to understand that no one is perfect, no one is superior.
Stop calling your children good or bad. A child labeled good is only good in relation to someone else’s being bad. Labeling encourages children to invest in keeping others bad to ensure superiority.It perpetuates a cycle of judgment and blame and discourages cooperation.
Build your child’s self-confidence and empathy by supporting them in moments of personal crisis and demonstrating that helping others is as important as superior grades or winning the game. Each step you demonstrate toward cooperation and compassion is a step toward developing a peaceful child.
First Thursday | Come Experience Montessori
Seeds of Peace
Thursday, March 6, 8:45-9:30 a.m.
Toledo and Perrysburg Campuses
Join us for a lively discussion led by Montessori-certified teachers on planting the seeds of peace within our children at school and at home. Each month features a new topic geared for the parents of children ages 3 through Kindergarten. Free and open to the public.
Posted by West Side Montessori
How do you nurture a child to become his or her best self? Lovingly, tenderly, slowly, just like in nature. The transformation from baby to adult human being takes a full 24 years from birth to maturity. West Side Montessori capitalizes on the critical early childhood period of development through the tween years with insight and expertise by providing enriched learning opportunities as well as the time and opportunity for children to investigate their world so they develop the confidence to reach for the stars.
While exploring West Side’s 37 acres of woods, meadows, pond and swales tiny children may discover skunk cabbage or feel the velvety leaves of marsh mullein while older children collect and learn the parts of native prairie plants, classify those plants by phylum, study the ecology of the Oak Openings and plant reproduction, and tend their own gardens. By middle school the pond becomes their classroom again when students collect and analyze water samples in preparation for community involvement in our local Maumee River Watershed Watch program.
Our highly-trained and experienced Montessori certified teachers create enticing indoor and outdoor classroom environments full of abundant learning materials where children challenge themselves and ask for more. An atmosphere of shared learning creates a peaceful and purposeful learning community. At each age and stage of growth West Side Montessori students cultivate high level skills and develop creativity and leadership. Each child gains independence as natural curiosity blossoms into a love of learning at West Side.
Montessori students develop a high degree of self-knowledge and grow up to be creative problem solvers and leaders who face the challenges of the future with grace, confidence, and tenacity.
Come and see for yourself how your child can grow with Montessori.
Head of School
Posted by West Side Montessori
Cultivating the spirit of giving in children at an early age is important because it fosters a sense of belonging and self-worth. Very young children want to help. Encouraging them in simple acts of kindness such as bringing mommy a diaper for the new baby or helping daddy wash the car validates their place in the family. So what if their actions are incomplete or imprecise?
Your appreciation for their efforts makes their hearts sing.
Encouraging young children to reach beyond themselves and care for others is essential for healthy social development. Parents want their children to have friends, to learn give and take, to reach beyond themselves. This takes practice. It’s not easy for young children to put others first.
The situations you create for your child to care for others should be real. From little ones carrying a box of tissues to a sick sibling to big kids unloading groceries from the car, each act of kindness should be rewarded with genuine affection.
It’s important to explain to pre-school children why you go to visit a grandparent, or give money to a cause you value. The impression you make on tender young minds is validated by the actions that support your words.
When I hear of a 10 year-old forgoing birthday party presents and requesting contributions for a food bank instead, I know that the parents have thoughtfully developed a caring child who takes real pride in being a contributing member of society. The internal rewards are sustainable and help to develop social beings that can create a better world.
Posted by West Side Montessori
Guest post by Chip DeLorenzo
Originally posted on May 29, 2013 at Maximize Your Talent
In the previous article we discussed that we, as adults, are often the ones who need a “time out” when we angered by our children. We also discussed ways to cool down when we “flip our lid” so that we can naturally reengage our prefrontal cortex (or rational brain), which regulates emotional responses and interpersonal responses. Now let’s talk about how we can help our children develop their EQ by using a “positive time out.”
To begin with, let’s discuss some of the ways that time out is used with chlildren today. Many parents utilize some sort of punitive time out as a method to discipline their children. This practice became very popular in the 1970′s as parents sought out alternatives to corporal punishment. Today it is used everywhere you find children. Often, it is the primary tool for discipline.
When misbehaving, children are often asked to go to a predesignated area for a specified period of time, or until the adult retrieves them. The guiding ideas behind this discipline tool usually involve the parent wanting the child to think about what they have done, or experience the negative consequence of being isolated with the hopes that this will prevent future misbehavior. Sounds logical, right? However, consider your own experience, as many who read this article have personally experienced time: If you were sent to there as a child, did you ever take the time to truly think about what you had done? Did you consider the consequences of your actions, and devlop contrition and a sincere desire to set things right? I can’t know what you thought about, but I can tell you what I thought about: how to get even, how to not get caught next time, and how to make my parents feel guilty for this obvious injustice!
One of the major tenets of positive discipline is that children do better when they feel better. “Feel better” does not mean pacified or happy at all times. When children are pacified they develop dependency and manipulation skills. By “feeling better” I refer to the experience that children have when taking responsibility for their actions, brought into the problem-solving process, and learn that mistakes are an opportunity to learn. When this happens they develop a sense of capability and responsibility for themselves and their family. In turn they experience a sense of connection and feel better about themselves and who they are.
One of the ways we can help children gain this sense of connection through personal responsibility is to teach them how to respond to stress, anger or sadness. A “positive time out” is an incredible way to teach children self-regulation and successful problem solving.
Here’s how it works:
- Begin by teaching children about the concept of a “flipped lid,” and explain matter-of-factly how the brain works to reengage the pre-frontal cortex and the importance of time in allowing this to happen.
- Explain how important it is to feel better in order to do better, and that it is really impossible to solve problems when your lid is flipped. (See Daniel Siegel’s video in the previous article).
- Have a family meeting to design the positive time out area and define the ground rules: a) Choose an area with the children that would work to provide some privacy and comfort. b) Have the children help design the area—what it will look like and what things that they want to have in the area (things that will help them feel better, but not things that will allow them to disassociate like video games, computers, etc.).
- Develop ground rules together. Here are some suggested ground rules:
—Parents agree that no one gets sent to the positive time out area. Parents can suggest, but not force a child to go there (focus on self-regulation vs. parent regulation). This helps the children see the area as a special place where the can go to feel better vs. feel worse.
—If there is a problem to be solved, then it is agreed, up front, at the planning meeting that when the child feels better he/she will come to resolve the problem.
—Children can take the time that they need to cool down.
—Use a name other than “positive time out.” Children often have a negative association with the term, especially if adult directed time outs have been used.
—Adults should avoid using punitive time-outs.
—Children come out when they’re ready, and when the feel better.
—Name the area together: cool down place, feel better area, Oz, etc.
—When children get angry or very upset, ask them if they’d like to go to the “positive time out” area. Consider using a hand signal that has been pre-established to suggest taking a time-out to cool down.
—Use the positive time out area yourself when you need it. Modeling is your most potent parenting tool.
We began using a positive time out area with our second son, Nicholas. He was and is very quick to get sad and angry, especially if he perceives an injustice. We created the area with him, full of pillows, stuffed animals and a sleeping bag, and made it his special place. Whenever he was sad or angry we would ask him if he’d like to go to his “Feel Better Place,” and most times he does. Sometimes we would go with him. It was a great tool for him, and he would almost always emerge in a better place emotionally, and would be able to solve whatever problem caused him to be upset.
The defining moment, however, for the “Feel Better Place” came one morning while I was making coffee. Nicholas came downstairs and asked what was for breakfast. I told him cereal. He fell to the floor in tears because he had been hoping for some steaming hot pancakes! Without being prompted, he picked himself up from the floor and went to his “Feel Better Place” without being prompted. Ten minutes later he emerged, and said to me, “Dad, I feel better now. What kind of cereal do we have?”
I laughed, thinking that he had developed some EQ skills that many adults would be envious to have, and that could have saved many a career!
Posted by West Side Montessori
Guest post by Chip DeLorenzo
Originally posted on May 1, 2013 at Maximize Your Talent
A number of years ago I taught a class of twelve 6-9 year olds (grades 1-3) in a school room that was converted from an old farmhouse. I was only one of two teachers in the school, as well as the sole administrator. Sometimes during the day I had to leave the classroom to do things like answer an important phone call, go to the restroom or answer the front door. Because of the many hats that I wore, the kids learned to become independent and help one another, as there was only one of me. However, they were also normal kids who misbehaved from time to time—in that way it was a regular classroom.
One day, I had to leave for a few minutes to use the restroom on the second floor, where my office was. I was only gone for about five minutes when I heard a great disruption: loud voices, furniture moving, in general a lot of noise! My first thought was, “Why the @#$@#$# can’t I leave the classroom for 5 minutes without them keeping it together?!”
I was furious! I stomped downstairs, with full intention of giving the third degree to whoever caused this commotion. I still can’t tell you what it was that caused me to pause and take a deep breath before I entered the room, but I did. What I saw amazed me as I entered—humbled me and made my eyes well up with tears. When I was washing my hands in the sink one of the old pipes in the floor had broken; water was pouring down through the ceiling. The kids had reacted quickly, moved tables and shelves out of the way of the incoming water, and had also emptied trash cans to catch the water. I couldn’t have done a more effective job myself. They saved about $500 worth of educational materials, as well as the rug beneath the leak.
Had I reacted to my emotional state as I stomped down the stairs I would be recalling that moment 10 years later as one of my biggest regrets as a teacher. Now, with greater understanding of myself and how the brain works, I understand what happened that day with the pause and breath, although it was unintentional in the moment.
Here’s a great video by Daniel Segal that describes how the brain works in a moment of frustration:
When we “flip our lid” our pre-frontal cortex shuts down or is no longer the guiding force of our actions. We are then operating from the mid-brain which governs our memories, fears, and “fight-or-flight” response. When the pre-frontal cortex is not engaged and we react, we make our biggest mistakes, relationally: yelling, blaming, hitting, scaring, threatening, saying things we wish we could take back, etc. However, when we take the time, intentionally, to reengage the pre-frontal cortex, relational mistakes diminish, and real problem solving begins.
Some of the documented functions of the pre-frontal cortex are:
- Regulation of body through autonomic nervous system
- Emotional regulation
- Regulation of interpersonal relationships
- Response flexibility
- Self Awareness (autonoesis)
- Letting go of fears (only in lab animals so far)
What happened in my experience above, with the broken pipe, was that I paused and took a deep breath, literally giving myself a momentary time out to reconnect or reengage my pre-frontal cortex. This then allowed me to regulate my emotions, take in the information that I saw and respond flexibly and with understanding. This was not an intentional response, but one which showed me the power of the brain and my potential reactions.
It would be nice to say, “Just keep your energy in the front of your brain and everything will be OK.” However, while there are ways to prevent a “flipped lid” we are human, and especially when we are under stress we “flip our lids” from time to time. Often, this is when an adult might yell or demand that a child “Take a time out!” But, who is it that needs the time out?
One of the tools that we have taught our children is that when any of us are angry that we can take a “time out” and cool down. In order for this to really work, however, we have to model the behavior for them. Here are some suggestions for teaching and modeling taking a positive time out, and helping to build and develop our EQ:
- Discuss “Flipping Your Lid” Explain to your children what happens in the brain when we “flip our lid.” Also explain how giving the brain time to cool down allows the pre-frontal cortex to re-engage so that our rational brains can begin to work.
- Choose a spot Choose a spot in the house that is your “safe space.” Let your children know that sometimes that you might need to take time to cool down, and that if you go to your spot, that you need them to allow you the time to cool down, and that you promise that you will come back and work things out with them when you are ready.
- Create a sign – In our family we use the “t” sign formed by holding our hands perpendicular to each other. The sign indicates that I need some time, I love you, and because I love you and care about our relationship I need to take a time-out to cool down so that I can work out our problem with dignity and respect for you and our relationship.
- Use it! – Enough said.
- Make amends when you don’t use it – Everyone makes mistakes. If we are able, as adults, to make mistakes and take responsibility for them our children will learn from us that it’s OK to make mistakes, and it’s safe to take responsibility and make amends. Making amends also offers your children the opportunity to make the decision to forgive! What an incredible life skill to learn when you are young. See Fred Luskin’s recent article on forgiveness.
Image: Time Out, In the Corner