Maurice Elias

Professor of Psychology
Rutgers University

Expert: Maurice Elias

Maurice J. Elias is Professor of Psychology at Rutgers University and the Director of the Rutgers Social-Emotional and Character Development Lab (www.secdlab.org).

Professor Elias lectures nationally and internationally to educators and parents about students' emotional intelligence, school success, and social-emotional and character development. With colleagues at the College of St. Elizabeth, he is developing an online credentialing program for Direct Instruction of Social-Emotional and Character Development programs in classroom, small group, and after school settings, and for School-Focused Coordination of Social-Emotional and Character Development and School Culture and Climate (SELinSchools.org).

He is widely published and writes a blog for educators and parents for the George Lucas Educational Foundation at www.edutopia.org.

Related Work
Dr. Elias' blog for educators and parents
Emotionally Intelligent Parenting (via Kindle and Nook)
The Joys and Oys of Parenting (via Kindle and Nook)

More From This Expert

future look skyward

Supporting Young Adult Goal-Setting and Self-Management

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BODY <p>Self-management, or the ability to recognize your emotions and control the behaviors sparked by those emotions, is a skill that makes a difference in all of our relationships – work, home, school, and community. It’s knowing how to manage stress, cope with adversity, and overcome obstacles to reach goals. For many families, using the term “self-management” may not be a regular thing. But many can recognize when it is – or isn’t—practiced.</p> <p>Teens leaving high school for college, career, the military, or any other endeavor must take their self-management with them – not their parents’! In many cases, they face changes in rules, or situations where the rules are not so clear. The ability to overcome obstacles, reach their goals, and make wise, non-impulsive decisions are crucial to not only their personal growth, but their opportunities for a successful life. Even though you may no longer be living in the same household as your young adult, there are still ways you can support their self-management from afar. </p>
BODYES <p>El autocontrol, o la capacidad de reconocer tus emociones y controlar las conductas que ellas generan, es una habilidad que marca la diferencia en todas nuestras relaciones: en casa, en el trabajo, en la escuela y en la comunidad. Se trata de saber lidiar con el estrés, enfrentar las adversidades y superar los obstáculos para alcanzar los objetivos. En muchas familias, tal vez no sea muy habitual usar la palabra “autocontrol”,  pero muchos lo reconocen cuando se pone en práctica, o no.</p> <p>Los adolescentes que dejan su hogar para ir a la universidad, insertarse en el mundo laboral, unirse al ejército o iniciar cualquier otro emprendimiento deben recordar siempre que esta habilidad será de gran utilidad y que no deben dejarla olvidada en casa de sus padres. En muchas ocasiones deberán enfrentar situaciones donde las reglas no son tan claras o han cambiado. La capacidad de sortear los obstáculos, alcanzar sus metas y tomar decisiones inteligentes y no impulsivas es fundamental no solo para su crecimiento personal, sino también para llevar una vida exitosa. Aun si ya no comparten la misma vivienda, existen formas en que puedes ayudar a tu hijo a reforzar su autocontrol, incluso a la distancia. </p>
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Father And Son Walking

Developing Empathy in Kids Ages 8-11

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BODY <p>Teaching your child to understand what another person is feeling is essential to helping him embrace differences, build relationships, communicate more effectively and gain a global perspective. During the late elementary years, your child is strengthening his sense of empathy through practice, and he is learning how to manage and control his emotions in social situations. While you may be doing everything you can to teach your child about empathy, it can be challenging for him to apply it to every interaction, especially at this age. The changing moods brought on by the introduction of early adolescence can sometimes affect his ability to be empathetic in relationships.</p> <p>Understanding your child’s emotions can help you both build empathy. You can show your child empathy in action by truly listening to him and being fully present when he is discussing something with you. When he feels that you genuinely care about his thoughts, emotions and actions, you are strengthening your relationship and showing him what it means be an active good listener. Director of the Rutgers Social and Emotional Laboratory <a href="/index.cfm?objectid=EDC09713-0793-7966-3CBC318C02159515">Maurice Elias</a> says that bedtime is a good time to review conversations that you had with your child about difficult or emotion-filled issues or situations. Show him that you accept the validity of his emotions by saying things like, “When I put myself in your shoes, I can see why you feel this way,” or simply express understanding with phrases like, “I understand where you are coming from.” Elias adds that sometimes it is also helpful to share your own feelings. This is especially the case when you have disagreements related to what is safe to do and what is not. Your child will benefit when you share your feelings of worry about his safety, and you can benefit by hearing that your restrictiveness may be hurting his self-confidence and sending the message that you don’t have confidence in him.</p> <p>Consider attending a play, going to the movies, or getting your child involved in acting. A great way to gain the perspective of others is through theater, whether it’s attending or being involved in shows at school or a summer program, or putting on skits at home. Many children enjoy play-acting with friends or performing for family members. If this sounds like your child, encourage him to practice feelings, reactions and empathy. Talk about what it means to “try on” the feelings of someone other than himself, and about the causes and consequences of those feelings. By pretending to play the part of someone else, your child is continuing to learn to manage his own feelings and behaviors, because he has to suppress his own impulses in order to play the role of another. For younger children, you can also play a game of pretend to encourage your child’s capacity for empathy. When cleaning up around the house or doing chores, try role-playing with your child. Maybe he wants to pretend he’s a veterinarian and has to take care of his animals, or he’s a dad and has to clean up the house before the kids wake up from a nap.</p>
BODYES <p>Enseñar a su hijo a comprender lo que otra persona siente es esencial para ayudarlo a abarcar las diferencias, construir relaciones, comunicarse de manera más eficiente y lograr una perspectiva global. Durante los últimos años de la escuela primaria, su hijo está fortaleciendo su sentido de empatía por medio de la práctica, y está aprendiendo cómo manejar y controlar sus emociones en situaciones sociales. Si bien usted puede estar haciendo todo lo que esté a su alcance para enseñarle a su hijo sobre la empatía, para él puede ser desafiante aplicarla en cada interacción, especialmente a esta edad. El humor cambiante provocado por el inicio de la adolescencia temprana a veces puede afectar su habilidad de mostrar empatía en las relaciones. </p> <p>Comprender las emociones de su hijo puede ayudar a que ambos construyan la empatía. Usted puede demostrarle la empatía a su hijo escuchándolo de verdad y estando presente cuando él analiza algo con usted. Cuando él siente que usted realmente se preocupa por sus pensamientos, emociones y acciones, usted está fortaleciendo su relación y le está demostrando lo que significa ser un buen oyente activo. Maurice Elias, director de la Social-Emotional Learning Lab en la Universidad Rutgers, dice que la hora de acostarse es un buen momento para revisar las conversaciones que tuvo con su hijo sobre asuntos o situaciones difíciles o cargadas de emoción. Demuéstrele que usted acepta la validez de sus emociones por medio de palabras como “Cuando me pongo en tu lugar, puedo comprender por qué te sientes de esta manera” o, simplemente, demuestre su comprensión diciendo “Comprendo a qué te refieres.” Elias agrega que, a veces, también es útil compartir sus propios sentimientos. Esto ocurre especialmente cuando usted tiene desacuerdos relacionados con la seguridad de su hijo. Su hijo se beneficiará cuando usted comparta sus sentimientos de preocupación sobre su seguridad. Usted también puede beneficiarse si entiende que las limitaciones que usted pone pueden lastimar la autosuficiencia de su hijo y pueden mostrar que usted no confía en él.</p> <p>Considere asistir a una obra de teatro, ir al cine o involucrar a su hijo en la actuación. Una buena manera de entender el punto de vista de las demás personas es a través del teatro, independientemente de si asiste o se involucra en presentaciones escolares o en un programa de verano, o pone en escena sátiras teatrales en su hogar. Muchos niños disfrutan haciendo teatro con amigos o realizando representaciones para familiares. Si considera que es el caso de su hijo, aliéntelo a poner en práctica los sentimientos, las reacciones y la empatía. Hable sobre lo que significa “probar” los sentimientos de alguien diferente de él, y sobre los motivos y las consecuencias de esos sentimientos. Por medio de la representación del papel de otra persona, su hijo sigue aprendiendo a controlar sus propios sentimientos y comportamientos, porque tiene que esconder sus propios impulsos para desempeñar el papel de otra persona. Para niños más jóvenes, usted también puede jugar el juego de fingir para alentar la capacidad de empatía de su hijo. Cuando limpia su casa o hace sus tareas, pruebe hacer juego de roles con su hijo. Tal vez él quiera simular ser veterinario y tiene que cuidar sus animales, o él es padre y tiene que limpiar la casa antes de que sus hijos se despierten de la siesta.</p>
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Family Routines Around Bedtime

The Incredible Benefits of Family Routines Around Mealtime and Bedtime

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BODY <p class="undersub">Sleep and food are among the most basic essentials of life. Yet why does it seem that bedtime and mealtime are the most hectic time of the day with kids? This year, you probably made some kind of resolution to eat more home-cooked meals or read to your kid more or maybe just get more organized in all aspects of life. Well, it all starts with establishing—and sticking with-routines.</p> <p>Establishing basic routines, including spiritual customs, play a role in helping family members feel calm, peaceful, and secure. Think of your home as an oasis against stress: no matter what is going on in the outside world, our most personal and intimate space (the home) can be a safe haven. </p> <p>Routines come in many different forms and will vary for each family, based on factors like family size, geographic location, religious observance, etc.  That said, there are some specific activities that every family does every day.  Drawing from my book, Th<em>e Joys and Oys of Parenting</em>, let’s take a look at two of the most common of these, mealtime and bedtime, and ways to help them be more a source of joy, than of oy.</p> <h4>Mealtime</h4> <p>Now that the holidays have past and all the big plans and parties that filled your schedule are no more, mealtime can finally be a priority again. These tips will help you establish a routine early in the year:</p> <p><strong>E<em>at together.</em></strong> </p> <p>It’s that simple. Your meals don’t have to be fancy, or pretty, or even all that peaceful.  But the act of spending set time together can have a big impact on our children.  Sit around the table and share some thoughts, such as a highlight of each person’s day.  Try the game, "Roses and Thorns," where each person takes a turn describing a good thing that happened that day (their “rose”) and a low moment or tough problem they had to deal with (their “thorn”). It’s a fun, easy way to identify the oys and highlight the joys of life that happen every day.</p> <p><strong><em>Acknowledge the gifts of food and each other</em>. </strong></p> <p>Offering a blessing or expression of thanks before and after eating can separate mealtime from the rest of our day as well as make us feel better.  This works whether we are appreciating the skills of those who helped create the food, the Creator of all life, or both.  It’s an especially useful practice after the holidays to practice sharing what the whole family is grateful for.  </p> <p><strong><em>Create a spirit of cooperation around mealtime</em>.  </strong></p> <p>Mention how important it is for everyone to pitch in and help with the family routine.  Then create an informal chart of basic tasks (like clearing the table) that clarifies responsibilities from day-to-day (based on your family’s preference).  When kids see that their actions are recognized on a chart, accompanied by appreciative words, it’s often enough to reinforce these positive behaviors.  Once the tasks are completed, make time for family fun if you can.   </p> <p><strong><em>Don’t be too rushed</em>.</strong></p> <p>This may be the greatest challenge of all. Many families are not used to taking time to talk at meals and put aside electronic devices.  But kids strongly appreciate time to talk about their day and to be listened to carefully.  Just don’t probe too deeply too soon. They will talk more as they feel more comfortable, which means parents not interrupting or “correcting” the way they feel.  Patiently listen and empathize.  Gradually, you will find your children will be more willing to open up about their feelings, particularly things that might be bothering them or that they feel excited about.</p> <h4>Bedtime</h4> <p>Bedtime can often be the most hectic time of day, and winding down the kids doesn’t always go as planned. But taking the time to make a ritual out of the experience can help your kids—and you—wind down and spend some quality time together.</p> <p><strong><em>Read together</em>.  </strong></p> <p>There is something timeless and special about reading an actual book out loud to someone else, especially one of your children. Reading is an excellent way to connect and share something personal, the gift of imagination.  And parents don’t have to be the only readers!  Encouraging an older child to read to a younger child benefits both.  If time is an issue, you can read short books or chapter books, because reading one chapter a night is a great way to continue a dialogue with our kids.  It also gives them something to look forward to the next day.  As with all routines, it’s wise to set limits in advance, so there are no surprises about when reading will end.  The last thing your family needs is to end the day with conflict, or extended negotiations.</p> <p><strong><em>Express gratitude</em>.   </strong></p> <p>Ask your children to share with you three positive moments during the day, or perhaps their top moment of the day.  Ask them why and how they felt during those moments.  Wind up by sharing with your children what you are thankful for each day and encourage them to do the same.   There is good science behind talking about what we appreciate in our lives (measurable positive effects on the body and brain). Being thankful together can also help family members feel closer to one-another.</p> <p><strong><em>Use a calming, meaningful meditation, poem, prayer, or saying</em>. </strong></p> <p>Children (and parents) derive comfort from having a saying of some kind to end the day.  It’s no coincidence that this is part of many religious traditions, but it need not be religious.   Remember the old TV show, “The Walton’s”?  The ending had everyone saying goodnight to everyone in the house.  We know one household where that happens and also includes all the stuffed animals in the child’s room.  It can be as simple as that.</p> <p> </p> <p>There is no manual or perfect way to set schedules and implement routines in your home because every family is different.  Do what fits for your family, do it as consistently as you can, and make adjustments when the routines are no longer working (which is inevitable as children age!).   After all, the goal is to make your lives less hectic and to bring a bit more security, peace, and calm to your children and your household. </p> <p> </p> <p class="undersub"><em>Maurice J. Elias is a Professor of Psychology at Rutgers University and the Director of the Rutgers <a href="http://www.secdlab.org/">Social-Emotional and Character Development Lab</a></em><em>. He recently wrote a book, The Joys &amp; Oys of Parenting, with colleagues Marilyn E. Gootman and Heather L. Schwartz. In this book, they draw on traditional wisdom to illustrate how, centuries ago, parenting matters were addressed in ways that are supported by child development research today.  </em><em> </em></p> <p class="undersub"> </p> <p class="undersub"><em><em><strong>Follow the Parent Toolkit on <a href="http://bit.ly/2bQX6cp" target="_blank">Facebook</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/educationnation" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, and <a href="https://www.instagram.com/theparenttoolkit/" target="_blank">Instagram</a>.</strong></em><br /></em></p>
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high five homework

No More Mindless Homework

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BODY <p>Despite the controversies surrounding homework, a variety of <a href="http://vanderbilt.edu/peabody/family-school/papers/homework.pdf">research studies</a> show that most parents, including parents of young children, are quite keen to help with homework and view doing so as an important aspect of their roles as parents. They see homework as an <a href="http://www.jstor.org/stable/1001657?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents">essential ingredient</a> of schooling that helps children learn, even if their children struggle at times. Admittedly, many parents are familiar with the stress and family conflict that sometimes arise from helping children to get their homework done. The good news for parents is that recent research studies have revealed that parents can indeed enhance the homework experience for themselves and by extension, for their children. </p> <p>Most importantly, we have learned that parents’ <a href="http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ683348">attitudes</a> about homework have a profound impact on children’s own attitudes and performance in school. When mothers express positive emotions while helping with homework (such as interest and humor), children tend to do better in school. In contrast, <a href="http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10986060701818644">mothers’ negative emotions</a> predict conflict and poorer achievement. While many children tend to experience homework <a href="http://www.sedl.org/connections/resources/bibliography.cgi?showrecordid=66">negatively</a> (<a href="file:///C:/Users/206473591/AppData/Local/Microsoft/Windows/Temporary%20Internet%20Files/Content.Outlook/GJFJJATL/Collins-Bempechat%20Parental%20Help%20with%20Homework%20Links%2010-28-15.docx#_ENREF_5">not a surprise</a>), they enjoy their homework more, feel better about their abilities, and do better in school when their parents remain positive and offer advice, but do not control the ways their children choose to complete their work.</p> <p>With the above research findings in mind, here are some quick tips for keeping the homework mood light, the focus strong, and the experience positive. These tips will help children learn to monitor their homework and regulate their work habits and attitudes:</p> <p><strong>Create a nurturing environment</strong></p> <p class="Plain">It’s helpful for children to have a consistent homework setting, a spot where they can work comfortably with access to the supplies they may need, such as a cup containing writing tools.  Personalizing the experience by providing a favorite snack or creating a ritual can help to make homework time feel inviting.</p> <h6 class="Plain"><strong>Become a community of ‘homeworkers’ </strong></h6> <p class="Plain">As often as possible, sit near your child and work on something alongside her, whether you’re finishing a crossword puzzle or doing work you brought home from work. Your proximity is comforting, and your presence offers a model of engagement and focus.  Also, you’re nearby to offer support yet occupied yourself so you’re not as likely to hover over her homework.</p> <h6 class="Plain"><strong>Let children lead</strong> </h6> <p class="Plain">If homework, itself, isn’t a choice, find ways to let your child make choices about it.  Let your child experiment with different approaches (doing it right after school, working on it before bed, etc.) to figure out what works best.  Let your child do the homework herself, giving support and offering help when asked.  Refrain from telling your child how to do his work, instead setting up the expectation that he will do his best. </p> <h6 class="Plain"><strong>Communicate with teachers</strong> </h6> <p class="Plain">At its best, homework reveals what your child is learning in school, but you can also use it to communicate to the teacher what your child experiences at home around school work.  Let your teacher know if the homework is a struggle or if there are extenuating circumstances (i.e. a special event, a late night) affecting your child. When you share your child’s perceptions and experiences with her homework, teachers are usually willing to accommodate temporarily or differentiate altogether in order to increase or insure the benefits to your child.</p> <p class="Plain">As these tips suggest, parents can help with homework in a great many ways, even if they are not able to provide direct help with the content. By helping children establish homework routines, modeling engagement, allowing autonomy, and connecting with teachers, parents can help children adopt important self-regulation strategies that foster <a href="http://www.jstor.org/stable/1002115">school achievement</a>.</p> <p class="Plain"> </p> <p class="Plain"><em>Kathy Collins presents at conferences and works in schools all over the world to support teachers in developing high-quality, effective literacy instruction in the elementary school grades. Ms Collins has worked closely with the <a href="http://readingandwritingproject.org/" target="_blank">Teachers College Reading and Writing Project</a> at Columbia University.</em></p> <p class="Plain"><em>Janine Bempechat, Ed.D, is Professor of Human Development and Psychology, and Director of the <a href="http://www.wheelock.edu/about/centers-and-institutes/center-for-scholarship-and-research" target="_blank">Center for Scholarship and Research at Wheelock College</a>. She studies how culture and ethnicity influence parents’ educational socialization strategies.</em></p> <p class="Plain"><em>Ms. Collins and Dr. Bempechat are the authors of Not This But That: No More Mindless Homework (Portsmouth: Heinemann), which will be published in Spring, 2016.</em></p>
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BODY <p>As parents, we know there are consequences to our actions. But children develop their decision-making skills over time. Learn how to support your child’s problem solving and decision-making strategies with this video. </p>
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Building Social Skills

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BODY <p>Did you know that 54% of parents in our State of Parenting poll said good social and communication skills are the most important for their child’s future success? In this video, you’ll learn ways to build your child’s social skills at any age. </p>
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Name it, Tame it: Identifying Emotions

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BODY <p>Did you know that learning to identify emotions can help your child build relationships and manage their emotions? In this video, you’ll learn to build your child’s emotional vocabulary at any age. </p>
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BODY <p>Have you ever felt stressed, angry or frustrated? Have you had a hard time managing those emotions? Chances are, you have. And so have your children. In this video, you’ll find strategies to help your child (and you!) calm down. </p>
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FACEBOOKTEXT Have you ever felt stressed, angry or frustrated? Chances are, you have. And so have your children. Find strategies to help your child (and you!) calm down.
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Father Son Hug

Reduce Anger in Your Household

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BODY <p>We all have felt strong feelings of anger when we are stressed and edgy and our children begin to whine or do things that irritate us and don’t respond to our requests for them to stop. As our anger builds, it is as if each annoying event acts as a mini-trigger to sustain and intensify the anger we are feeling. When feelings of anger get to a certain point, they are extremely hard to contain. This is what Dan Goleman describes in his book, <em>Emotional Intelligence</em>, as becoming “emotionally hijacked.”</p> <p><a href="http://www.parenttoolkit.com/index.cfm?objectid=4C2E89B0-32E7-11E4-AB0A0050569A5318">Learn more about how to handle difficult family situations with our parents' guides.</a></p> <p>These are the times when we might find ourselves doing and saying things that we would never think possible when we are more relaxed and self-controlled. If this is true for adults, then we cannot be surprised that it happens to children, who have far less experience than we do at trying to successfully manage their anger.</p> <p>Unfortunately, the more stress there is in a family’s life, the greater the chance that angry emotions will spill out. What can families do to reduce angry outbursts?</p> <p><strong>1.  Learn everyone’s feelings fingerprints. </strong>“Feelings fingerprints” is a name for the earliest signals our bodies send us when we are starting to feel angry. Maybe your face gets red, or hot. Some of your children might clench their fists, or find that their breathing gets very heavy. There is always a signal, and the first step is to help everyone in the family keep track of those that are theirs. Once you know your “feelings fingerprint,” you can begin to plan what to do as soon as you start to notice it, instead of having an angry outburst.</p> <p><strong>2. Control Your Reactions. </strong>We all have more control over our anger than we think. Imagine this: you and your children are having an argument with lots of screaming. A neighbor comes to the door. What happens? Chances are that everyone will stop. And the longer the neighbor stays, the less likely you all are to pick up where you left off. What does this mean? It means that while it’s very hard to avoid being angry, family members-- starting with parents who must serve as role models-- can try to limit the harmful expression of their anger. We have five chances to do this:</p> <p style="padding-left: 60px;">- Control your initial reaction and ask yourself: “Is this really something to be angry about?”</p> <p style="padding-left: 60px;">- Control your initial response: “What can I say or do that will be most helpful now?”</p> <p style="padding-left: 60px;">- Control your reaction to another’s response to your anger. If your anger has led to an angry response, which is typical, think about this: “How can I keep this from getting worse and worse?”</p> <p style="padding-left: 60px;">- Control your next reactions: “How can I bring some calmness to what is happening?”</p> <p style="padding-left: 60px;">- <a href="http://www.parenttoolkit.com/index.cfm?objectid=E2EC9A20-70F6-11E4-98050050569A5318">Apologizing</a> for what you said or did: when anger does occur, it’s still useful to let your children know that things may have been done or said in anger that were not meant. The alternative is to let you children think you DID mean what happened. </p> <p><strong>3.   Bring humor into your household. </strong>Humor reduces anger. Households in which humor has a strong and regular place find anger is expressed less harshly and less often. Some ideas for bringing humor into you house include:</p> <p style="padding-left: 60px;">- Cut off cartoon captions and write your own. This can be a fun family activity. A related fun game is Mad-Libs, where everyone creates a story by providing words representing certain parts of speech in a fill-in-the-banks format. Mad-Libs are available in most book and card stores or on line.</p> <p style="padding-left: 60px;">- Have a humor corner in your house or classroom. Pictures, books, and whatever else people find funny would go there. </p> <p style="padding-left: 60px;">- Have a laugh break. This can really help at homework time, especially when kids are stuck. Short audio or video segments involving humor, or time to read from humorous books or cartoons can really make a huge difference in a situation that can bring out a lot of anger. It is hard, frustrating, and ineffective to just sit there and “keep trying” when one is truly stuck. Humor is energizing, encourages creativity, and puts us in an optimistic frame of mind. This is exactly what children need when they get back to that homework assignment.    </p> <p><strong>4.  Enjoy a day without expressing anger. </strong>This may seem difficult, but think about what happens when your child does something to annoy you when you are with a neighbor. You usually can control your reaction. Well, what if the neighbor stayed for an entire day? </p> <p>Parents, try to make an agreement that you are going to go an entire day without expressing your anger directly to your children. Don’t worry about your children getting the wrong message from this. You probably wouldn’t do this all the time, but you might want to bring it into your household routine once a week, or so. By the way, you might want to practice for two days in advance before you do it for real. It’s not as easy as you think, but the results might surprise you!</p>
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No-Homework Policies Send the Wrong Message

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BODY <p>The question of no homework vs. homework for kids at the elementary level is really about what parents believe their children should be doing at the end of the day to retain what they have learned in school and to ensure they are prepared to learn more. The answer to this question is not necessarily “home” or “work,” and in fact, the extent to which it can avoid feeling like “work,” especially in the early elementary grades, the better.</p> <p>Ideally, we want children to understand that they are always learners. In school, we refer to them as “students” but outside of school, as children, they are still learners. So it makes no sense to even advertise a “no-homework” policy in a school. It sends the wrong message. The policy should be, “no time-wasting, repetitive tasks without any clear instructional or learning purpose will be assigned.”    </p> <p>Children in elementary grades should be encouraged to read, write, perform arithmetic, and better understand the world around them in terms of civics, science, and the arts. It is also a time for parents to help them develop their people skills, or their “emotional intelligence.” This encouragement should be part of everyday family interactions outside of school and the school should provide developmental guidance to all parents, in the appropriate languages, to help them do this.</p> <p>For some children, specialized guidance will no doubt be needed. Some parents will select specialized programs or after-school experiences to help foster their children’s learning in one or more of the aforementioned areas. And communities should think about how to make these kinds of experiences available to all children in high quality ways, without undue expense to families. </p> <p>Of course, some teachers will have specific, creative ideas about how learning can be enhanced at home, depending on the particular units of study in school. Maybe what we need is a new word for all this.  Instead of “Homework,” how about “Continued Learning” or “Ongoing Growth Activities?”</p> <p>Finally, students’ learning would be greatly enhanced if we take a clear stance about schools supporting good parenting in general. Schools can help parents by encouraging them to promote their children’s social-emotional learning, to spend more time directly interacting with their children in enjoyable ways, and to take an interest in their studies to convey the value of education and effort. In addition, educators should work with parents to ensure they are monitoring their children’s use of and exposure to electronic media and that they are promoting “Continued Learning” at every possible opportunity. Above all, schools should remind parents to never lose sight of teaching their children about the value of close relationships, support, caring and fun. That is the most important “home-work” of all!</p> <p><em><a href="http://www.parenttoolkit.com/index.cfm?objectid=EDC09713-0793-7966-3CBC318C02159515">Maurice J. Elias</a> is Professor of Psychology at Rutgers University and the Director of the Rutgers Social-Emotional Learning Lab. He regularly blogs about social and emotional development topics for <a href="https://www.edutopia.org/users/maurice-elias">Edutopia</a>.</em></p>
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dad and sad son

Why Parents Should Apologize When They Lose Their Cool

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BODY <p>All parents will lose your cool at times. Why? Because you are human. You cannot handle unlimited amounts of stress, disappointment, and unmet expectations. Another reason is that our emotional brain systems, which are linked to our identity, lead us to feel badly, or inadequate, when it might appear that our children are not turning out as we would like. Rightly or wrongly, these kinds of strong feelings can lead to angry outbursts. </p> <p>But what does one do afterwards? Can hurtful words be erased? In large part, the answer is, yes.</p> <p>An effective parental apology involves a deep understanding of our child’s feelings, a great deal of self-control, and good social skills. What it does for children is immense. It reassures them about their worth and their value in the world. It lets them know that their parents care enough about them to talk to them in a serious way and admit that they made a mistake. It allows children to learn humility, a companion of empathy. Finally, it alleviates the stress of uncertainty, shame, and doubt that children feel, over having provoked or, in their eyes, deservedly caused, parental over or under-reaction.</p> <p><span class="white"><a href="http://www.parenttoolkit.com/index.cfm?objectid=9214C140-32E9-11E4-AB0A0050569A5318">Learn more about how you can enhance your social and emotional skills.</a></span></p> <p>Apologizing does not mean that you forget whatever your child did that was upsetting. Actually, it means that you clarify that some of what you said was hurtful and had to do with your own frustration. But there is a part of the message you want your child to get; here are some examples.</p> <p>In each case, the opening lines are something like:</p> <p>“I know used a tone of voice/yelled/said some things in a way that I should not have. I apologize for that. There was a lot going on and it got to me. So let me be clear about what I really wanted to say….”</p> <p>“When you tell me you are going to be in one place and then you go to another, that is wrong. I feel as if you don’t trust me. I know you can keep track of what you tell me and you can remember to tell me where you are. So I expect that from you.”</p> <p>“It makes me very unhappy when you hit your brother. It is not a kind thing to do. There are many times that you get along well with your brother, and I know that you can act this way much more often.”</p> <p>As you can see, the apology follows the formula, “I was wrong to say what I did, it was the result of my stress, but here is what I want to make sure you remember and here is the strength I know you can bring with you into situations that might occur in the future…” You might also want to be clear about consequences as a result of what happened, or what will happen if the problem repeats itself.</p> <p>Remember, your goal is to be more educational than punitive and to get the behavior in question to change. Another way to address these challenges between you and your child in the future is to get on the same wavelength, as you will likely have more positive results this way. The 4C’s of Emotionally Intelligent Parenting, Clarify, Coordinate, Choose, and Care, are tools that can help you make your relationship more harmonious:</p> <p><strong>Clarify.</strong> One or both parents need to make a commitment to clarify what is happening with their kids. First, each parent must be clear. What is the issue here? What are the emotional issues involved for each child? What do I really think about presents? About school work? Why do I feel this way? Is this really what I believe or am I trying to impress someone, show someone something, or make a point? What do I want my kids to learn most of all from this situation? And am I showing my confidence in them?</p> <p><strong>Coordinate.</strong> Once each parent is clear, then it is time to compare views and find common ground. Where there is common ground, kids can feel a great deal of psychological safety. This is where they can be reached, and can thrive. </p> <p><strong>Choose.</strong> Once there is some coordination, then choices must be made. “This is what we are going to do.” You need to take charge. There may be times where these choices can be informed by conversations with children, and this is especially true as they get older, but there are many times whenyou just have to decide and move on. This is a great favor to your children.  Uncertainty, lack of clarity, and parents who do not act like parents are frustrating, anxiety-provoking, and frightening for kids. The complaints that children will make about choices parents make are tiny compared to the relief they feel at finally having some clarity and some limits. And this is especially true when they feel both parents are in agreement.</p> <p><strong>Care.</strong> After the choices are made, it’s a good idea for you to show that they care about your child’s feelings. Emotionally intelligent parenting gives us a tool for this: keeping track of what happens. Are things going better as a result of the choices that have been made? Is there enough work time? Is the shopping getting done? Arrange check-in times just to see how things are going.  If necessary, the process can start over, as the new situation is clarified and new ideas are coordinated and new choices made. We show caring through our attention, concern, and follow up just as strongly as through hugs, praise, and little notes of encouragement. It is our way of saying that, as busy as we are and with all the things we are dealing with as adults, we have time and make a priority to see how our children are doing in important matters that a family has identified.</p>
BODYES <p>Todos los padres perderán los estribos en algún momento. ¿Por qué? Porque son seres humanos. Es imposible lidiar con cantidades ilimitadas de estrés, decepción y expectativas insatisfechas. Otro motivo es que los sistemas emocionales del cerebro, que están vinculados con nuestra identidad, nos hacen sentir mal o incompetentes cuando nos parece que nuestros hijos no están haciendo las cosas como querríamos. Para bien o para mal, este tipo de sentimientos pueden conducir a un estallido de ira.</p> <p>Pero ¿qué hacemos después? ¿Podemos hacer desaparecer esas palabras hirientes? En gran parte, la respuesta es sí.</p> <p>La disculpa eficaz de un padre involucra la comprensión profunda de los sentimientos de tu hijo, una gran dosis de autocontrol y buenas habilidades sociales. El resultado que tiene en los niños es muy grande. Les confirma su importancia y valor en el mundo. Les permite saber que sus padres se preocupan por ellos lo suficiente como para hablarles en forma seria y luego admitir que cometieron un error. Les permite a los niños aprender el valor de la humildad, que es compañera inseparable de la empatía. Por último, alivia la incertidumbre, la vergüenza y las dudas que puedan sentir los niños por haber provocado esa reacción en sus padres y que, según ellos entienden, fue merecida.</p> <p>Pedir disculpas no significa que olvidarás lo que haya hecho tu hijo para enojarte. En realidad, significa que aclaras los tantos sobre algo que dijiste que fue hiriente y que estaba relacionado con tu propia frustración. Y esta es la parte del mensaje que quieres que tu hijo entienda; estos son algunos ejemplos.</p> <p>En cada caso, puedes comenzar diciendo:</p> <p>“Sé que usé un tono de voz/grité/dije cosas de una forma en la que no debía, te pido disculpas por eso. Estaban pasando muchas cosas y perdí el control. Quisiera aclarar las cosas, porque en realidad quería decir que... ”</p> <p>“Cuando me dices que estarás en un lugar y después vas a otro, eso está mal. Siento que no confías en mi. Sabes que recuerdo las cosas que me dices y tú puedes recordar decirme donde estás. Eso es lo que espero de ti”.</p> <p>“Me entristece mucho ver que le pegas a tu hermano. No está bien hacer eso. En muchas ocasiones te llevas bien con él, y lo sé porque los he visto”.</p> <p>Como puedes ver, la disculpa tiene una estructura: “Me equivoqué al decir lo que dije, fue por culpa del estrés, pero esto es lo que quiero que recuerdes y esta es la fortaleza que sé que tienes para enfrentar situaciones que puedan ocurrir en el futuro...”. También sería bueno que seas especifico sobre las consecuencias como resultado de lo que ocurrió, o qué ocurrirá si el problema se repite.</p> <p>Recuerda, tu objetivo es más educativo que punitivo, y conseguir que la conducta en cuestión se modifique. Otra forma de enfrentar estos desafíos entre tú y tus hijos es tratar de estar en la misma sintonía, ya que de esta forma es más probable que tengan resultados más positivos. Estas son las cuatro herramientas principales para una crianza emocionalmente inteligente y que te ayudarán a que tus relaciones sean más armoniosas:</p> <p><strong>Aclarar.</strong> Uno o ambos padres tiene que hacer el compromiso de aclarar a sus hijos lo que ocurre. Primero, cada padre debe ser claro. ¿Cuál es el tema en cuestión? ¿Cuáles son los temas emocionales que involucran a cada hijo? ¿Qué pienso en verdad sobre los regalos? ¿Qué pasa con las tareas escolares? ¿Por qué me siento así? ¿Realmente creo en esto o estoy tratando de impresionar a alguien, de demostrar algo? ¿Qué quiero que aprendan mis hijos de esta situación? ¿Estoy mostrando que confío en ellos?</p> <p><strong>Coordinar.</strong> Una vez que los padres son claros, es momento de comparar opiniones y buscar las coincidencias. Cuando hay cosas en común, los niños sienten mayor seguridad psicológica. En este momento es cuando se puede tener mayor llegada a ellos y se pueden desarrollar las cosas.</p> <p><strong>Elegir.</strong> Una vez que se hayan coordinado los temas, entonces se pueden tomas decisiones. “Esto es lo que haremos”. Tú tienes que tomar el control. En ocasiones, estas elecciones pueden informarse a los niños en una conversación, lo cual es especialmente cierto a medida que crecen, pero muchas otras veces solo tienes que decidir y seguir adelante. Esto es un gran favor para tus hijos. La incertidumbre, la falta de claridad y padres que no se comportan como padres pueden generar frustración, asiedad y temor en los niños. Las quejas que puedan tener los niños sobre las decisiones de los padres son pequeñas en comparación con el alivio que sienten al tener las cosas claras y algunos límites. Y esto se comprueba cuando ambos padres están de acuerdo.</p> <p><strong>Cuidar.</strong> Después de las hacer las elecciones, es una buena idea demostrarle a tus hijos que te preocupas por sus sentimientos. La crianza emocionalmente inteligente nos da una herramienta para esto: registrar lo que ocurre. ¿Las cosas están mejor como resultado de las elecciones que se hicieron? ¿Hay suficiente tiempo de trabajo? ¿Se hacen las compras? Organiza los horarios para ver cómo se hacen las cosas. Si es necesario, se puede iniciar el proceso nuevamente, a medida que la nueva situación se aclara, se coordinan nuevas ideas y se toman nuevas decisiones. Demostramos nuestro cuidado y afecto mediante la atención, la preocupación y el seguimiento, de la misma manera que lo hacemos con abrazos, elogios y pequeñas notas de apoyo. Es nuestra forma de decir que, sin importar lo ocupados que estemos con todas las cosas con las que tenemos que lidiar por ser adultos, para nosotros siempre es una prioridad ver cómo les está yendo a nuestros hijos en los temas que son importantes para la familia.</p>
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TEASER We've all been there - your child lets you down or says something that just pushes your buttons. Before you know it, you've said something you regret. How can you make it right? Dr. Maurice Elias explains.
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Teen Girl Bullies

What Can Be Done To Stop Bullying?

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BODY <p>We know bullying is harmful. We know a lot about how to prevent it. But bullying is still common. Why is this and how can we change this?</p> <p>There is a silent aspect to bullying. Victims and bystanders often do not want to come forward to say what is going on. They feel threatened. But if we think about this, it means that they don’t trust the adults in their lives- teachers, other school personnel, parents-- to protect them. Kids need to be in a learning environment where they truly feel safe. And of course bullies are not advertising to adults that they are victimizing other kids.</p> <p><a href="http://www.parenttoolkit.com/index.cfm?objectid=161C5E20-4439-11E4-99960050569A5318">WATCH: Bullies' Homecoming Prank Backfires </a></p> <p>There is another problem we have to acknowledge-- some people believe that “boys will be boys”; others feel that it’s wrong to be a “tattle tale.” But bullying goes well beyond “boys will be boys”-- especially since bullying is also carried out by girls.</p> <p>It must be clear to children that parents and the school will not tolerate bullying. But it is not good sense to have a “war” on bullying or “fight” bullying punitively. This sends the wrong message. The situation must be handled calmly by putting procedures in place that make expected and permitted behaviors very clear. Further, the “reach” of the school should extend beyond the school. In the words of one principal, “No student of my school is permitted to act like a bully no matter where he or she is, on the bus, at the schoolyard, across the street from the school, nowhere.”</p> <p>Here are some approaches that will help schools and parents deal with bullying effectively:</p> <h4>What Parents Can Expect Schools to Do for Bully Prevention?</h4> <p>Schools must first make a public and visible declaration to staff, students, and parents that any form of bullying is not acceptable. At the same time, it is useful to set out an initiative to be a “Safe and Caring” school, and emphasize that positive behaviors are both expected and appreciated. We have learned a lot from the work of Dan Olweus in Norway and many others who have followed his lead, around the world. Here is a summary:</p> <ul> <li> <p>Introduce the policy at a meeting of the home and school association organization and at an assembly. Frame the issue in terms of building students social and emotional skills and character, and creating a positive and productive school climate, of which preventing bullying is a part.</p> </li> <li> <p>Every class should have a code of conduct that describes simply how students should and should not treat one another. Define bullying, harassment, intimidation, and exclusion of others and make it clear this is unacceptable. Student input is important in this. In middle and high schools, a school-wide code of conduct is especially important. Books that have been used to help introduce this topic include the Berenstain Bears’ Trouble with the Bully, Don't Pick on Me, and Lord of the Flies. More and more books have come out that can be conversation starters about bullying in language arts classes, and many historical and current events analogies can be made.</p> </li> <li> <p>Have clear, non-violent consequences for bullying and other unacceptable behavior.</p> </li> <li> <p>Develop ways to systematically recognize positive, supportive behaviors of students toward each other and adults.</p> </li> <li> <p>At all grade levels, have curriculum components that build essential life skills in such areas as communication, self-control and managing strong emotions, friendship, getting along in groups, goal-setting and planning, and problem solving.</p> </li> <li> <p>Provide careful supervision of students, especially during recess, lunch, gym, and transition times at hallways. Be sure bus drivers, security personnel, and school lunch aides are aware of all policies and trained in carrying them out properly.</p> </li> <li> <p>Teachers must be models of respectful behavior.</p> </li> <li> <p>Use cooperative learning, to increase the mix of children and improve overall group relationships.</p> </li> <li> <p>Improve communication among school administrators, teachers, parents and students.</p> </li> <li> <p>Have clear procedures for reacting to bullying when it does occur, or is alleged. Focus on restorative justice solutions for bullying and confidence-building support for victims.</p> </li> <li> <p>Never use direct conflict resolution or peer mediation between bullies and victims.</p> </li> </ul> <p><a href="http://www.parenttoolkit.com/index.cfm?objectid=46F4CA40-47C3-11E4-BD470050569A5318">WATCH: New Book 'Positive' Takes Stand Against Bullying</a></p> <h4>What Parents Can Do If Your Child Bullies Others?</h4> <p>1. Make it clear you do not approve and don’t consider any kind of bulling to be “fun.”</p> <p>2. Have clear, non-violent consequences for bullying that include restrictions on being with peers, apology to victims, and restitution that goes beyond whatever it is your child did, said, or damaged.</p> <p>3. Improve supervision of your child's activities, companions, and whereabouts. Set clear rules for curfews.</p> <p>4. Communicate often with the school to see how your child is doing in changing his or her behavior.</p> <p>5. Praise efforts your child makes toward non-violent and responsible behavior, as well as for following home and school rules.</p> <p>6. Reduce or eliminate your child’s viewing of violent television shows and video games, especially by him/herself.</p> <p>7. Your modeling is an important influence on children becoming less violent.</p> <h4>What Parents Can Do If Your Child Is Bullied?</h4> <p>If your child is bullied, try to find out as clearly as possible exactly what happened. Then, reach out to the school and insist they take an organized response to preventing and dealing with the problem. Meanwhile, your main task with your children is to reassure them that you love them, that the bullying is not their fault, that they need to react as little as possible to the bully, and they need to seek out adults—you, as their parents, and the many caring people in their school-- to get help and support.</p>
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