We have been talking about habit change for the past few weeks in groups. This week we are going to balance that out with a healthy dose of self acceptance which, paradoxically can be a great catalyst for change and growth. This is a cornerstone of dialectical behavior therapy.
An important developmental task of adolescence is moving beyond dichotomous thinking that something is "all good" or "all bad". Getting stuck in inflexible thinking around habit change makes it difficult to make the incremental changes that are most effective.
According to Deborah Barrett, "The more we fight against it, the more likely we are to experience negative emotions, such as anger, hopelessness, and despair, and the harder it becomes to identify changes that can help. Like those Chinese finger-trap toys, the more forcefully we tug to release our index fingers, the more tightly ensnared they become. Calming down and taking stock of the situation opens the means to escape."
So in that spirit, this week we will be picking a habit that we are going to send some loving acceptance toward recognizing that our quirks and idiosyncrasies make us who we are for better and worse.
We are now offering a group in Putnam Connecticut, within an easy drive for Pomfret, Woodstock, Killingly, Thompson, Eastford, Brooklyn, and Hampton. Groups serve children with ADHD, on the Autism Spectrum, anxiety, PDD-NOS, and more.
This week in the early elementary group we will be reading "I Really Like Slop" by Mo Willems. In this story Elephant tries piggies slop, not because he wants to, but because it is important to their friendship.
This touches on a number of challenges that kids in group may face including resistance to trying new things, concerns about sensory issues, the struggle to anticipate and meet the emotional needs of a friend, and the balance between cooperative play and succumbing to peer pressure.
This will make for some great conversations!
This allegory from Ram Dass' book Polishing the Mirror about the importance of being yourself is a great illustration of why we don't teach "fake it till you make it" at Kids Cooperate.Read More
Here are the items for the altruism Challenge that the Tuesday group came up with. I have encouraged them to notice acts of kindness that they do throughout the week, and also to notice opportunities that they may have missed before. Enjoy!
Learning to follow the natural rhythm of conversation in order to know the appropriate time to contribute is difficult. Here are a few things you can do to guide your child's development.
During a discussion about procrastination, an interesting counter-problem came up. What about those of us who feel a compulsion to get started on tasks immediately and feel stressed until our to do list is cleared? Penn State psychologists have coined a new term for this phenomenon: Precrastination, or "the tendency to complete, or at least begin, tasks as soon as possible, even at the expense of extra physical effort."
Precrastination may sound like a "humble brag" but for those of afflicted, the stress is real and gets in the way of enjoying other aspects of life. Precrastination can negatively impact friendships if tasks are always prioritized over social relationships.
So what do you do about it? As with the opposite problem, procrastination, a precrastinator can benefit from a visual schedule of work/life/self-care balance. Another useful tool is a carefully curated "to do" list. This will allow you to have a "brain dump" to get the task off of your mind by writing it down externally. For this, either a software solution like Evernote or a good old notebook will work equally well to the degree that it is accessible to use whenever it is needed.
As children develop deeper friendships, they discover one of the joys of a secure relationship which is arguing/disagreeing with someone who's views they respect. Another scenario is that someone we care deeply about holds a belif that we feel is wrong and would like to guide them to change. In both of these scenarios it is difficult, but important to avoid the conversational pitfalls of sounding contemptuous, condescending, or dismissive.Read More
Good morning! This week in Elementary group we will be readng Are You Ready To Play Outside by Mo Willems. In this story Elephant and Piggie look forward to playing outside but rain ruins their plans. They must change their way of thinking in order to recover and make the most of a difficult situation. This is a skill called resilience. Resilience is “the ability to adapt well to adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or even significant sources of stress” (APA 2011) and is important, not only for successful social relationships but also for academic success. We support the growth of this important skill by giving children trust and responsibility, validating their emotional responses, helping them to problem solve, providing language to reframe challenges, and modeling confidence and optimism.
Yesterday in high school group we played a really fun game on the virtual reality headset called Keep Talking and No One Explodes. One player uses the headset to describe the bomb he or she is looking at while everyone else shuffles through the 23 page manual to find the information to tell them what to do next. It's a great way to practice teamwork, language processing, and ultimately resilience when the game is over with a bang.
Because the Tolland Recreation Center has decided to close due to weather we will not be holding groups this evening. If you would like to come to a make up session Thursday please let us know.
Sharing food is a social activity that brings people together, but the way we eat can be an obstacle to making connections. Last night in group we discussed hidden food rules (also known as manners). We had a great discussion about how food is an important part of any social gathering (think meeting for coffee and all of the meals associated with holidays), but once we get together over a meal, the eating should be less distracting than the conversation. Here are a few of the hidden food rules we identified:
1. Chew with mouth closed; talk with an empty mouth (this involves carefully following the rhythm of the conversation to know when to take a bite of food and when to wait.)
2. Ask for things you need to be passed. This becomes a chance to make eye contact and contact with people in the conversation who you might not have connected with.
3. Use utensils as expected. Unexpected behaviors like eating with hands becomes distracting to conversation and be isolating.
4. Prioritize conversation. Remember why you are there, and prioritize talking over eating.
There’s no “should” or “should not” when it comes to having feelings. They’re part of who we are and their origins are beyond our control. When we can believe that, we may find it easier to make constructive choices about what to do with those feelings.
—Fred Rogers , The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember
This can be an emotionally turbulent time of year with the holidays and school vacations. Here are some tips for keeping the holidays as stress free as possible:
Maintain a modified schedule: even if you don't need to be up for school it's good to keep up with some sort of predetermined bedtime and wake up routine.
Avoid overwhelming sensory experiences: Lights, food, guests, piles of gifts.... before you jump into your favorite holiday traditions see them through your child's eyes and make whatever modifications will keep your child centered.
Encourage your child to stay socially connected: by texting, email, in game chat or whatever way they talk to peers. Before they return to school help them to pick out some conversation points by focusing on the interesting aspects of their vacation.
Quality Time: Try to include some device and distraction free family time to share. Introduce your child to the holiday traditions that are important to you and share stories.
Incorporate whatever spiritual aspects are meaningful for you: Whether it's attending a service, lighting candles, or just quiet thankful contemplation, holiday spiritual traditions tie you into a larger community.
A healthy sense of time makes all the difference when it comes to getting things done.Read More
I need your help with two things to make groups great this week.
1. We are doing a session called "The Secret Knowledge of Adults". Please share some things that you've learned through life experience that you wish you;d known at your child's age. They will be shared anonymously. How great is that? You get to share your hard won wisdom without the experience of eye rolling and deep sighs from your child!
2. We want you to be more informed about what we are talking about each week, so that you can follow up with your child and maybe spark some meaningful conversations around our curriculum. If you send me your cell number, I will send you a brief text message with a conversation starter based on something your child said or did during group, and even a photo of them in action if available.
Thank you for your help! See you all in group!
Recounting an important discussion about how to share your interests in a way that builds relationships rather than isolates.Read More
People always like to feel heard. Often, they need to feel heard in order to move past a difficult experience or process something exciting or upsetting. Knowing how to ask the right questions is a way to show empathy and can a powerful tool for building trust and intimacy.Read More