Hoots and Salutes from Mrs. Hardage

Chapin Elementary School Counseling

School Counselors Make a Difference

Dear Parents,

I am so excited to have the opportunity to work with your children this year at Chapin Elementary School as a school counselor. I will be visiting each of my classes for monthly guidance lessons. During these lessons, we will talk about friends, feelings, and ways to be successful students. After each lesson, I will send home information so that you may make connections with your children concerning the themes and ideas discussed in class. In addition to monthly classroom guidance lessons, I provide support to students and families. I hope that you will feel comfortable reaching out either by phone or email if you need me for any reason. Students may also request to speak with me as needed. As a school counselor at CES, I am committed to empowering our students to make and attain goals and to meet challenges with optimism.

Looking forward to an exciting year at CES!

Mrs. Hardage

P.S. Check out tips for positive parenting at the bottom of this newsletter! You'll be glad you did :)

"A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could, simply because someone else thought they could." ~ Anonymous

Concerns you may want to discuss with your child's school counselor:

  • Classroom Performance
  • Classroom Behavior
  • Peer Relations
  • Family Changes
  • Stress
  • Sudden changes in attitude or behavior

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Teaching Humility (It's pretty important!)

Say it:

Humility is putting others first by giving up what you think you deserve.

Know it:

Ask a kid: Would it be harder to put a sibling or a friend first? Why do you think that?

How do adults in your life put kids first?

Ask a grown up: Who inspires you to put others first?

What does it cost to put others first?

See it:

Search on YouTube for the scene "Keep Swimming" in Finding Nemo. How did the fish show humility? What might have happened if they didn't work together and listen to Marlin and Nemo?

Be it:

Use scrap paper to put each family member's name in a bowl or a jar. For the rest of the month, draw a name when a decision has to be made (where to eat out, what to cook for dinner, what movie to watch, etc.). When a family member's name is drawn, they give up the chance to make the decision by saying a different family member's name, allowing that family member to make the choice.

Adventures with Artie: Humility
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6 Essential Tools to Help Your Child Overcome Anxiety

by Julie Sams, MA, LPC

Anxiety stems from your child’s reaction to stress, and according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America affects one in every 8th child. From the child who is deeply afraid of bees to the child who will not leave their home out of fear, anxiety is a real condition that can be debilitating. No matter what the level of anxiety, or what causes it, it is so hard to watch your child miss out on things you know they should enjoy.

Excessive worry, sleep problems, irrational fears, avoidance of social situations, physical complaints such as headache or stomach aches, biting nails or pulling hair out, and/or extreme irritability are all indications your child may be struggling with anxiety. During my years guiding children through mastering excessive worry and anxiety, I’ve found these strategies can help parents support their kids the most.

1 – Don’t feel pressure to be just like everyone else! Don’t worry about keeping up with the Joneses. Embrace your child’s uniqueness! Make sure they know you accept them for who they are and they feel unconditionally loved by you. Every child has their own unique strengths, gifts, and talents. Don’t even try to have your child be “just like everyone else”. The minute you feel your thoughts slipping into saying “why can’t she be normal like (whoever)”, immediately stop yourself and tell yourself, “I love her and all of her uniqueness!”.

2 – Problem solve and show a spirit of support not force! The minute you convey the attitude, “Just suck it up and get in there!,” your child will shut down. Instead, say, “I know it’s hard to go, but you can do it and I’m going to help you!” Talk to school staff ahead of time and let them know your child is anxious and needs support. They can meet your child at the car or at the classroom door, show them around, introduce them to others, and tell them what to expect. Have fidget toys they carry with them (i.e., putty), use a bracelet with inspirational words or a meditation app, listen to music with earbuds, or carpool with a friend. Keep trying new things to help them feel less anxious and reassure them you are there to help.

3 – Share your concerns with others and encourage your child to talk to close friends. Don’t feel like anxiety is a family secret that you can’t share with others. You and your child need support, and you will be surprised how many others are struggling with similar concerns once you talk about it. Reach out to close friends and encourage your child to do the same!

4 – Address your own and other family members anxiety. You’d better believe your child picks up on your anxiety. Kids with anxiety are typically very sensitive to the emotions of others and will tune-in to how you and other family members are feeling. Do whatever it takes to deal with your own and family members’ anxiety so progress will happen more quickly. It is never fair to isolate one family member and point fingers at them as “the problem.” Each member of a family should identify areas they want to improve, set attainable goals, and put forth effort to change.

5 – Have kids practice yoga, meditation, and mindfulness. Following a yoga class I taught, a student said, “I never knew what to do to handle stress, now I do!” Another teen who was feeling stressed almost fell asleep as I played meditation music on iTunes. Have your child start and end each day with 5 minutes of meditation by listening to music or a meditation app, sitting quietly and focusing on their breathing. Have them join a yoga class or watch yoga videos, and practice at least 3 times a week. These mindfulness practices will teach them to focus on the present moment and quiet their anxious thoughts.

6 – Plan ahead for the worst case scenario! When anxiety strikes, your child is likely to imagine the worst case scenario of future events and new situations. Help them by letting them know specifics. If they are going to camp, research the city, cabins, activities planned, menu, and number of leaders and campers. Find pictures of places they are planning to attend and let them ask plenty of questions. Discuss details, answer questions, practice, and plan.

Kids with anxiety can change the world if they are taught strategies to help them overcome their anxious minds! As frustrating as it can be to have an anxious child, walk alongside them in their life journey. Our society encourages everyone to fall in line and behave just like everyone else. Well, your child is extraordinary! Guide them on their own path of individuality!

Helping Kids Kick the "Helpless" Habit by Amy McCready

Empowering Your Child to be Capable & Self-Sufficient

Fellow parents… raise your hand if you ever feel the overwhelming sense of irritation when your child asks you (maybe for the fifteenth time) to do something he or she can totally do for themselves. Is your hand up in the air? Take comfort – you’re not alone!

All families deal with helplessness from time to time. If feigned helplessness is a once-in-a-blue moon occurrence at your house – no big deal. We all have our moments! However, if your child acts helpless on a daily basis for things he can and should be doing for himself, it’s time to put the brakes on that behavior!

The type of helplessness we need to reign in is when kids ask (demand, whine for) us to do things they are perfectly capable of doing for themselves. Depending on the age of your child, it might be something like, “Daaaaaad, I need you to ‘butter my bread’, ‘tie my shoe’, or ‘get me a juice box.’”

You KNOW they can do it. THEY know they can do it. They are choosing to act helpless to keep you at their beck and call – to get you to jump through hoops to meet their whims and demands. This kind of helplessness is called Special Service and it’s a classic power struggle. It’s not only aggravating – it creates unrealistic expectations for your child that their every wish will be granted, and that’s not healthy for anyone!

You might be thinking, “What’s wrong with helping our kids, Amy?” Rest assured, there’s nothing wrong with helping one another when needed. A family is a team and we have each other’s backs. However, when “helplessness” is really a demand for Special Service, the child is manipulating the parent for attention or power.

How do you know if it’s Special Service or just a normal request?

Simple: Your gut will tell you. Here’s an example: You are standing next to the silverware drawer and your daughter says, “Mom, can you grab a spoon for me?” You say, “sure” and hand her a spoon. No big deal. It’s a perfectly reasonable request.

Example two: You are busy packing lunches and you let your daughter know it’s time to leave in 5 minutes. She breaks into a chorus of “Moooooooom, I need you to help me get dressed! I can’t do it.” You KNOW she can do it. You’ve seen her do it. She is playing the helpless card to get the attention and power hit of a “special service” request.

In the spoon example – it was a perfectly reasonable request and there was no emotion involved. In the getting dressed example, you felt annoyed in the moment because you KNOW she is ACTING helpless and now you’re ticked. It’s the gut feeling that tells you it’s special service.

That irritated feeling is your gut’s way of telling you to activate your parenting superpowers and not give in to demands that your kids can, and should, do themselves. Instead?

Put these four strategies in place:

  • Take time to train your child to do the task all by themselves. Remember, marketing is everything so position the training in a positive light. “Sweetie, the past few mornings, you seemed to have trouble when getting dressed/putting on your shoes, etc. Let’s take a few minutes to practice so you know exactly what to do tomorrow morning.” Train her on the how-to’s and role play it.
  • Set the expectation: “You are growing up in so many ways and from now on – YOU are going to be responsible for ______. I know you can do it!”
  • Walk away. If they pull the helpless card in the moment, be totally unimpressed and walk away! With a smile on your face, simply say, “I’m confident you can handle it. I’ll be downstairs when you’re ready for breakfast.” (The exit is essential. If you stay in the room, you’re sure to get sucked right back into the power struggle.)
  • If time is of the essence, include the task as part of a When-Then Routine: “I’m confident you can do it, honey. WHEN you are dressed, THEN we’ll have breakfast. But remember the kitchen closes at 7:30. See you downstairs!” It works like a dream.

Will your kids try to pull the helpless card again? Most likely, they will! After all, acting helpless has worked for them in the past!

However, with practice and consistency on your part, they’ll get the point that you won’t jump through hoops at their every whim and demand.

In short order, your kids will feel empowered because they will become more and more capable (at something other than manipulating mom or dad)! You’ll feel empowered that your kids are learning to manage their own tasks in addition to you getting a much deserved break! (Go you!)

A New Way to Connect with Our Children: What do they really think about us?

Ask your children 23 questions for a fresh new perspective on your parenting. (adapted from JoyInMyKitchen.com)

Do you need a fresh perspective on what your kids think about you?

These questions will give you that. The answers will encourage you, make you laugh and cry, and remind you that they do see what often seems unnoticed. Some will probably reveal areas you can improve to better love and serve your kids.

1. What is something I always say to you?

2. What makes me happy?

3. What makes me sad?

4. How do I make you laugh?

5. What was I like as a child?

6. How old am I?

7. How tall am I?

8. What is my favorite thing to do?

9. What do I do when you’re not around?

10. If I become famous, what will it be for?

11. What am I really good at?

12. What am I not very good at?

13. What do I do for a job?

14. What is my favorite food?

15. What makes you proud of me?

16. If I were a character, who would I be?

17. What do we enjoy doing together?

18. How are we the same?

19. How are we different?

20. How do you know I love you?

21. What do I like most about dad/mom?

22. Where is my favorite place to go?

23. How old was I when you were born?

Stop saying "You're so smart"! Try this instead...

Encouraging Words by Amy McCready

Do you ever feel like the only words that come out of your mouth are direct orders? “Empty the trash, be nice to your sister, quit jumping on the couch!!!” A big part of preventing bad behavior, however, is to provide encouraging words to reinforce good behavior when you see it.

And a quick “good job” doesn’t cut it—in fact, phrases like “good boy,” “you’re so smart!” and “you’re the best on your team!” are not considered encouraging words. Instead of focusing on positive internal qualities, they put the emphasis on outward praise, which does nothing to promote good behavior in the future.

True encouraging words focus on the deed, not the doer. It motivates a child from the inside to demonstrate similar positive behavior in the future, and to value things like hard work, improvement, teamwork and perseverance.

List of Encouraging Words and Phrases

Encouraging words can be as simple as, “Thanks for your help!” or “You really worked hard!” Here are a few more examples to try around your house:

Thank you for your help!
You should be proud of yourself!
Look at your improvement!
That “A” reflects a lot of hard work!
You worked really hard to get this room clean!
Thanks for helping set the table, that made a big difference.
I noticed you were really patient with your little brother.
What do you think about it?
You seem to really enjoy science.
Your hard work paid off!
That’s a tough one, but you’ll figure it out.
Look how far you’ve come!
I trust your judgment.
The time you’re putting into your homework is really paying off.
I love being with you.
You really put a smile on her face with your kind words!
That’s coming along nicely!
You really worked it out!
That’s a very good observation.
Thank you for your cooperation.
I see a very thorough job!
That’s what we call perseverance!
I can tell you really care.
You make it look easy!
You’ve really got the hang of it!
I can tell you spent a lot of time thinking this through.
I really feel like a team when we work like this!

The best part about using encouraging words with your kids is the glow of happiness you’ll see on their faces. After all, “Your hard work is really paying off!” says you noticed their work, while, “You’re so smart,” might be hard to live up to next time. Try a few of these encouraging words with your kids, and watch their behavior—and effort—improve.

Positive Parenting Tip: End the whining and begging with three simple words!

End Child Nagging & Negotiating with Just Three Simple Words by Amy McCready

When it comes to persistence, few things compare to a child nagging and negotiating to try and get what he wants. And few people know that better than a parent who has given that child an answer they don’t want to hear.

From the famed “Are we there yet?” to this morning’s “Can I have ice cream for breakfast?” to this afternoon’s “Can I have ice cream for dinner?” kids are notorious for their one-track minds, and they will ask…and ask…and ask…just in case you’ve changed your mind in the last minute.

Child nagging is a learned behavior that children of any age can pick up. They might continue to use it because once, in a moment of weakness, you caved and let them stay up an extra half hour after they asked for the eighth time.

But like any learned behavior, child nagging can be unlearned. The solution comes fromLynn Lott, co-author of the Positive Discipline series of books, and it works on kids as young as two or three, all the way through their teens.

It only takes three simple words: “Asked and Answered.”

The concept is simple. When seven-year-old Daniel begs to dig a giant hole in the front yard and gets “no” for an answer, chances are he’ll be back in five minutes asking again – this time with a “pleeeeeeaase” just so you know he really, really wants to dig the hole.

Instead of repeating yourself or jumping in to a lecture, avoid child nagging by getting eye to eye and follow the process below:

Step One: Ask, “Have you ever heard of ‘Asked and Answered’?” (He’ll probably say no.)

Step Two: Ask, “Did you ask me a question about digging a hole?” (He’ll say yes.)

Step Three: Ask, “Did I answer it?” (He’ll probably say, “Yes, but, I really ….”)

Step Four: Ask, “Do I look like the kind of mom/dad/teacher who will change her/his mind if you ask me the same thing over and over?” (Chances are Daniel will walk away, maybe with a frustrated grunt, and engage in something else.)

Step Five: If Daniel asks again, simply say, “Asked and Answered.” (No other words are necessary!) Once this technique has been established, these are the only words you should need to say to address nagging questions.

Consistency is key! Once you decide to use “Asked and Answered” with your nagging child, be sure to stick to it. If 14-year-old Emma is particularly determined to keep asking to get her eyebrow pierced, stay strong. Answering her question again – or worse yet, changing your answer – will reinforce to her that her nagging works. Although it’ll take some patience, your child will eventually connect the dots and you’ll see results!

Make “Asked and Answered” a joint effort with your spouse, and consider including any family or friends who may have to deal with child nagging and negotiating from your child. When Daniel and Emma realize that they won’t get a “yes,” even after they’ve asked twelve times, they’ll get the hint and retire this tactic.

Speech and Language Pathologist, Stacy Pulley reports this technique works well for children with communication challenges, particularly those with Autism. She suggests bringing a notebook or a chalk/dry erase board into the mix and writing down a question once they’ve asked it more than once, keeping in mind their reading level. Or, draw a picture. Then, when your child asks again, point to the board or notebook to remind them that they’ve asked, and you’ve answered. Be sure to use as few words as possible and stay consistent in your language to help them understand the connection as they learn to listen to and respect your answers.

Adding this tool to your parenting toolbox is a positive step toward ending the child nagging and negotiating that can wear on even the most resolute of parents. Then, be sure to follow through and stay consistent – and before you know it, 20 questions will be a fun game once again, and no longer a negotiation tactic!