Simple Acts of Compassion Create Connection

Love your neighbor as yourself. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Many of the wisdom traditions use a version of the Golden Rule. This rule or guideline stresses compassion. 

 

I think back to when I was a child growing up in the ’70s and ’80s and the problems I felt were in my life. The issues of friendships, where to go to eat on a Saturday night (Pizza Hut, of course), and what to do when I felt there was nothing to do. I usually didn’t know about a party until after the fact. If my friends decided to go to the movies and I wasn’t home to pick up the phone, my friends left me to find my own entertainment. 

 

It’s different today for the younger generation. Teens today have instant notifications, instant invitations, or instant connections, all through the little device in their hands. Yet is it really what they want or need? There are reports of young people feeling disconnected and lonely among the ability to connect instantly. 

 

Even though my teen years are so much different from my children’s, I can still have compassion for this generation’s young people because of an essential shared human experience. The needs of belonging, connection, and to matter are a few of the needs I can relate to, even though I am an “old” person. 

 

I have worked in the area of social and emotional learning for over 16 years. Over those years, I have learned that building a connection with a caring, capable, and compassionate adult is essential in a young person’s life – an adult who will listen and make a serious attempt to understand. 

 

Compassion is created from three components – awareness of suffering, action to relieve suffering, and recognizing a shared human experience. I see a young person sitting on the sideline watching while others play a game. I go over the talk to the young person, strike up a conversation and find out she doesn’t know the game’s rules. Then I take the time to explain the rules and then ask her to play. That is an act of compassion.

 

The Search Institute, a research organization in Minneapolis, has a list of 40 positive supports and strengths a young person needs to succeed. One area is support: care from family, other adults, community members, and school staff. When a young person feels supported by the adults around him/her, there is a decrease in high-risk behaviors. Simple ways to connect with youth can happen in your community. YOU can play a part in the solution!

 

Here are ten ways you can increase your compassion and connect with a child or teen.

  • Take an interest in an activity a teen you know is involved in by attending the activity or asking questions of the teen. Then listen.
  • Ask a child what they are interested in doing. What are her passions? What sparks his interests? Then listen.
  • Play a game of pick-up basketball with a group of kids for fun.
  • Invite kids on the sidelines to participate in a game.
  • Give an authentic and specific compliment to a child. An example could be, “Wow, I admire how you organized the books on the shelf.”
  • Do a random act of kindness for a teen.
  • Ask, “What are your dreams?” Then listen.
  • Accept a child for who he or she is, a unique individual in this world.
  • Make sure making mistakes is “okay” for both kids and adults. 
  • Breathe deeply before saying something that could harm a child.

 

If you take action on even some of these ten simple activities, you will build compassion in yourself and the other person over time. These actions will not solve the complex problem of loneliness, violence, or inequities in our world; however, it is a start.

Looking for the Bright Spots in 2020

Welcome to 2021!! A new year and a new set of possibilities before us. However, before you jump into the new year’s setting goals, resolutions, or intentions, I invite you to take some time to look back to the past year.

 

The past year has been a roller coaster ride of a year. I look back and see many downs and few ups throughout the year. How about you? Do you see any bright spots? Glimmers of positivity and hope?

 

In this month’s video, I talk about why it’s so easy for humans to see the negative and how you have to train your brain to see the positives. It’s all about practicing to look for the bright spots.

 

I would like to hear about the bright spots in your past year. Please leave a comment under the video and tell me about your bright spots for 2020.

 

I wish you much happiness and health in 2021!

 

 

5 Strategies to Access the Learning Brain

This time of year can come with a variety of emotions. I am sure many emotions have popped up over the last few weeks for you in some way. As a former science teacher, the study of the brain and the connection to resilience is fascinating. When we are dealing with our emotions it’s important to know why and how our brains are reacting to that emotion.

 

In the video, The Learning Brain v.s. The Survival Brain, Dr. Jacob Ham explains how stress can affect learning for our students. We need to create safe environments in the classroom that assists children in learning. One of the ways we can do that is through using tools that you can teach to your students that will calm the brain down.

 

In my recent video, I demonstrate five tools you can use with your student to help them feel safe and access their learning brain.

Moving Through Fear and Anxiety

Happy Halloween!

I thought today would be the appropriate day to talk about fear and anxiety.

Sometimes fun and fear can go together like today! Halloween is the annual time of the year when spooky costumes and scary movies can be fun!

However, when you are truly dealing with fears and anxieties, there is nothing fun about it.

We all have fears and anxiety. It’s part of all human experience.

Big Fears and little fears. Realistic and imagined fears.

I invite you to practice the skills presented in today’s video to move through fear and anxiety.

Then pass these skills on to the children in your life.

 

Using Your Strengths To Overcome Challenges: Part 3

I love it when I receive questions from followers. Last week I had a really big question from a follower,

 

How do you help adults overcome

childhood trauma and toxic stress?

 

Wow! Big question! This is too big of a question to cover in a ten-minute video or even in a blog post. However, I can give you a few tools to start on a path that will decrease your toxic stress response and increase your self- regulation. Once your nervous system is regulated, tapping into your strengths to build up your resilience is key.

 

You can build your self-awareness toolbox as an adult and tap into those tools when stress enters your life.

 

This is a journey where each new tool you use and practice can help you along your path of resilience.

 

Watch Using Your Strengths to Overcome Challenges Part 1 and Part 2 to add more tools to your toolbox.

 

 

Strength-Based Resilience is a four-part course for educators, parents, and caregivers. A new session starts on September 9, 2020.

More information about the course can be found here.

 

 

The Power of Nature

Much has happened over the last few weeks that my head is spinning. Maybe you can relate:

My daughter came home from college for spring break. One week has turned into staying at home for the rest of the semester. Classes are now online for her.

My high school-age sons were off school starting March 17. Now the eight days off of school have turned into distance learning until May 4.

My son, who is a senior, reacted poorly to the news that the last months of his senior year would be without the daily interaction of friends. The loss and grief of potentially not having a prom or graduation ceremony are real. 

I work from home. Most of my weekdays are spent with my dog and alone in the house. I have the occasional Zoom meeting or phone call, but mostly just quiet. However, that has not been the case for the last two weeks and it seems like it will not be the case for the next two months or more.

I want you to know that I understand. I hear you. I feel the anxiety and pain with you. The struggle is real. 

Yet, I say to myself daily, “This to shall pass.” I breathe and I go outside into nature. 

The video I am sharing with you is one that I made ten days ago. I felt it was important to share with you during this challenging time.

Nature has the power to heal and here are a few reasons why the power of nature can help you and your student or children through the challenges in life.

 

Relationships Really Matter

In this week’s video, I ask the question: Who is the person that you would want to be stranded on a deserted island with for six months? Pick a person that you know and trust, not a celebrity. The follow-up question I ask helps students dig a little deeper into the relationships they identify.
According to the Search Institute, when students identify the positive relationships in their lives that have five key elements, they are more likely to develop motivation and other positive character strengths.
The activity I demonstrate in the video can easily be done with upper elementary to high school students. This simple activity can help young people to think about the elements of a positive relationship they have with the people they value in their lives.

 

Social and Emotional Learning – Minnesota Style

Rain, Rain, GO AWAY! That’s the chant we are saying in northern Minnesota. The cloudy skies and the drizzle over the last two weeks have put a damper on my mood.

I decided that the best way to handle the gray skies and the gray mood is to have a little fun with it. In my most recent video, I demonstrate the five competencies of Social and Emotional Learning with a little Minnesota humor.

I hope you enjoy it and please help me reach my goal of 100 subscribers by clicking on the red subscribe button to receive notification of new videos.