The language of social-emotional learning is the biggest key factor that differentiates the programs here from others that are available. Each way of teaching skills has its own benefits and strengths.
Ours happens to be taking the knowledge that kids have been given and helping them put it into practice. And a great deal of our success in supporting children has to do with how we talk to them and what we say.
As one example, I am not a fan of using expected or unexpected, and appropriate or inappropriate, when coaching kids. Neither one of these includes an expectation that the child should actually STOP doing what they are doing. They are merely an observation of the action. When it comes to kids, they need clarity.
I prefer talking to kids in terms of acceptable and unacceptable actions and choices. Something acceptable can continue, something unacceptable needs to stop. Here are a few examples:
“Taking something from someone without asking is not acceptable. I want you to return it right now.”
“Whining is not an acceptable way to talk to me and it will not work. I will listen when you use your regular voice.”
“Hiding on me in a store is unacceptable. If it happens again, we will go sit in the car and wait for Mom.”
“Throwing things when you are angry is completely unacceptable. There are ways to express anger safely and we will work on those.”
And remember to catch them doing things right!
“I noticed that you remembered to ask first. That was great!”
“I appreciate you changing your tone of voice. I am ready to listen!”
“You chose to be safe in the store, you can now choose a small treat.”
“It was hard to manage your frustration with your brother, but you took a break. That’s how to do it!”
We are all involved in the process of raising good humans. Teaching them right from wrong, especially when culture works against us to make our job harder, only serves our children to be all the terrific things they can be.
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