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.

 

Stories Connect Students to Their Strengths

Many things can bring me back to my childhood, however, nothing can do it better than a story I enjoyed during my youth. One of my favorite stories was Andrew Henry’s Meadow by Doris Burns. I loved that book and would read it over and over again. I remember snuggling next to my mom, requesting “Andrew Henry’s Meadow” to be read to me for the umpteenth time. The story really spoke to me through the pictures and words about Andrew Henry and his family.

Andrew Henry was the middle child in his family. Clearly his strengths of creativity and executing were not appreciated. He invented contraptions to help his family. However, his mother and father, twin older sisters and twin younger brothers did not see it the same way. They told Andrew Henry that he was just making a mess and spoiling their fun.

Andrew Henry took off with his tools and traveled to a wide open meadow. In the meadow he constructed a house that would meet his need for inventing. Very soon many of the village children came to his meadow with their passions, such as, bird watching, tuba playing and drama.  Andrew built a home for each of them that would meet their particular interests and talents.

Very soon there was a village of homes, each unique to its owner’s passions and strengths.

When I go back to read a children’s book as an adult, many times a deeper meaning hidden by the author is revealed to me.

What is the deeper meaning of Andrew Henry’s Meadow?

  • Is it as adults we don’t always understand or honor children’s passions and strengths?
  • Is it our children each need their own part of the “meadow” to build the “house” that will fit their strengths?
  • Maybe we each have our own passions and strengths to bring to our family or community to help each other, just like Andrew Henry did for the other children?

I believe that Andrew Henry speaks to me because it is a story about helping children recognize their own strengths and the strengths of others.  I believe we are here to help each other create a community that honors each of the unique part we are to play in that community.

At the end of the story the families of the children are concerned. They search and find the little community of children with their homes. Everyone celebrates! Andrew Henry’s strengths are recognized by his family and he is given a room in his home in which to invent and create.

If choose to read Andrew Henry  here are a few questions you can consider,

Do you recognize the strengths of the children in your classroom? Notice the interests that each have in and outside of class time.

How can you give the youth you guide “room” to grow their passions?

Read Andrew Henry’s Meadow to your students and ask your students if they were a part of Andrew Henry’s community, what would their home look like?

One of the core competencies of Social and Emotional Learning is self awareness of strengths. Literature is a great way to help students identify strengths by identifying the strengths of a character in a story. Through identifying the strengths of the character, students can identify their own strengths they bring to the community. What are other stories you can use to help students identify strengths?