Hello everyone! If this is your first time visiting my blog, welcome. My name is Chelsea DiCicco and today, I'm sharing an exciting event that's happening now on SCBWI. The Fall 2022 SCBWI BookStop event is here- and we're excited about it! This event went live on October 18th, 2022 and will last through December 5th 2022. So, what is this event all about? SCBWI BookStop is a fantastic collaboration of where authors both independently and traditionally published come together to showcase and share their new work with readers like you! This Fall BookStop event features books that were released between 2020-2022. This is a great and fun way to find out about amazing new reads and discover new authors! And guess who joined this year? That's right- yours truly! You can visit my BookStop page by clicking HERE. *Note: this link will only be active for the dates listed above. If you haven't already visited, what are you waiting for? Check it out! Here's a little sneak preview of what my BookStop page looks like for anyone who's curious...
Dear readers, This October marked the 10th month of the STEAM Homeschool Group. From the first meet in January with 0 in attendance, oh, how our group has grown! I’m thrilled the share that this past group we had 60 participants! Can you believe it? I sure can’t! How exciting it is to see all the new members we have gained and the families who have been able to connect from this fabulous group! As you all know, this project is a passion of mine. I was a homeschooler, and I know how hard it is for families (especially with multiple children) to find inexpensive Homeschool Programs and resources. So naturally, I was beyond the moon excited to start this completely FREE program. Not only does this group provide a safe space for families and children to meet other homeschoolers within their community, at no charge, but we’re also able to provide free resources like: * Educational Textbooks * Interactive Workbooks * Leveled Reader Books * Pre-planned literacy training worksheets * Individually Created Honor Kits on various subjects (math, science, history, animals, plants, anatomy, weather, space, reading comprehension, poetry, biographies, language, etc) And much more! Every group meet I feel the same emotions. Gratitude, joy, overwhelming happiness. And inspiration! Tons of inspiration! To give you an idea of why I feel this way, I want to share some takeaways from what I saw during our group this past Monday. Things I witnessed as I looked around the room: * Creativity * Inventiveness * Curiosity * Kindness * Friendships forming * Teamwork * Problem-solving * Learning inspired by natural play * Engineering * Building * Kids thinking outside of the box to make something original, that brings them joy I saw 100% unadulterated pure exploration, and what a sight it was! And guess what? The kids weren't the only ones playing and having a good time. Parents were too! These parents are connecting with their kids, and other adults! Forming community and cultivating a network of friends. Using their imaginations to help build and create at our STEAM tables! What an absolute treasure this group has been. And what a pleasure it has been to see it grow and flourish! The feedback and love in this program has been astounding. I’m so grateful for all of our amazing participants of this group who help make it what it is. So, here are some fabulous pictures from our time together in October. Enjoy!
You’re looking at a #FallWritingFrenzy participant!
Hey writing pals!
Fall is finally here! Time to break out all the candles and cozy blankets. And you know what else it means? Fall Writing Frenzy is here!
This is my first year participating in the Fall Writing Frenzy, and I'm thrilled to share my entry for 2022: BUDDY BONES BUBBLELESS BATH.
So far, I've had a blast reading other peoples stories and sharing in the fun on Instagram and Twitter. If this is your first time participating, the rules are very simple.
- Choose a picture.
- Write a kidlit story (anywhere from board book to YA, 200 words or less.)
- Post it on your blog and make sure to fill out the entry form.
- Share, share, share!
For further questions, please check out the official FallWritingFrenzy2022Rules.
Remember: the goal is "to create connections and help writers grow!" So, have fun!
Below you will find my entry.
Happy fall writing everyone!xo,Chelsea
My 2022 Fall Writing Frenzy Entry BUDDY BONES BUBBLELESS BATH (199 word count) A picture book by Chelsea DiCicco It was a dry, dusty day on the ranch, and Buddy Bones was getting ready to take a bath. “Nothing like a cool bubble bath on a hot day,” he said cheerfully. But, just as Buddy got into the tub… “Oh no! We’re out of bubbles!” A bubbleless bath? Pass! But the sun was blistering. So, Buddy stayed in the tub. But he wasn’t happy. A little while later, Buddy was still grumbling when a bird flew by. “Morning, neighbor.” “Morning,” Buddy mumbled. “What you up to this morning?” “I’m taking a bath,” said Buddy, hoping the bird would go away. But he didn’t. “I’ve just come from the store. Today is dishwashing day, and I was out of soap.” “Oh,” Buddy said understandingly. “I ran out of bubbles.” He pointed to the clear bathwater. “A bubbleless bath!” chirped the Bird. “Pass!” Buddy agreed. “I know!” said the bird suddenly. “What if we made bubbles?” Before Buddy could respond, the bird was already pouring a glob of blue liquid into the water. “Now, splash around.” Buddy splashed and thrashed… until- “Bubbles!” he cried. “Nothing like a cool bubble bath on a hot day,” Buddy said, sinking into the bathtub.
I hope everyone had an amazing summer! The Children’s Librarians had a splash with our theme: OCEANS OF POSSIBILITIES! But now it’s back to school. Speaking of school… today, I’m sharing some homeschool updates.
As you probably know from my previous blog entries, I host a homeschool group for the families in the community of Sumner County Tennessee, in connection with the Hendersonville Public Library of Tennessee, where I work as a Children’s Librarian.
Working as a Children’s Librarian, and having a professional history of childcare and homeschool education, I knew I wanted to create a program that would provide a safe environment for homeschool families while keeping money in their pockets. In other words: FREE. But, what exactly was it that these families were looking for?
I started brainstorming.
I took polls.
I asked people in our community what they needed. What they wanted.
And after some heavy research, I came to a decision. I wanted to create a Homeschool Group where families could relax, cross collaborate, talk freely, and share information and kids could connect, make friends, and learn in a fun natural way, free of forced group activities, time restrictions, or formatted rules. I wanted a hands on learning experience that was child driven. I wanted a STEAM Homeschool Group!
In December of 2021, STEAM Homeschool Group was just a bright shimmering dream. And in January 2022, it became a reality! Of course, no one showed up for that very first meeting. Starting a new program takes time to build members. And besides, January is too cold! Nobody wants to start something new in the wintertime. But, little by little we grew in number.
Fast forward a few months to August 2022.
I’m happy to announce that our monthly meet for August, 2022, we had a jaw-dropping 40 homeschool family members join us for our STEAM Homeschool Group!
The kids had a wonderful time exploring the STEAM tables and the parents were thrilled to pick up their free school books and resources. From our free resource corner, we had pre-packed leveled readers, vocabulary readers, educational honor book packs (science and social studies), and teacher handbooks with corresponding homework and lesson plans. Several appreciative families expressed their gratitude for the provisions provided by the Hendersonville Public Library of Tennessee.
All in all, it was a fantastic day! We’re looking forward to our next monthly meet. If you’d like to find out how to sign up, please visit our the Hendersonville Public Library of Sumner County page on Facebook.
Thanks for reading and happy homeschool wishes!
To stay up to date with me, your friendly neighborhood librarian, you can follow my Instagram page @chelseasworldofbooks
Going from this
I think there’s a lot that can be said for people who are on the picture book path and have been for a while. Navigating the picture book world is like travelling down a road of potholes, and signs pointing in every direction. There are a million different routes your can take. And it can be intimidating, overwhelming, scary, and tiring. Sometimes, it feels like we’re drowning in endless options and crippling self-doubt! Fortunately, we aren’t quitters!
How do I know this? Because the hurdles upon hurdles, the always-changing pace, the fickle as a pickle market, and the unpredictability of times haven’t deterred us from continuing down this road. Some say madness. I prefer passionate. And really, to be successful in the ways that count, you have to be passionate about what you’re doing. What do I mean by successful in ways that count? Well, that really depends on how you view success. What does success mean to you? Money? Power? Freedom? Recognition? Whatever it is, you must have passion to reach it. And I’m convinced there isn’t a single picture book writer out there, who has been at this for years, that doesn’t have that passion. And guess what. Good news! Passion is KEY!
But, passion with no outlets can be exhausting. So, I ask you, how do you write picture books and stay sane? I think it’s imperative that when doing something that you love, at your full 100%, you must also be able to balance that with time to unwind. Because going at 100% nonstop, can be draining. Eventually, you will overload. And when that time comes, you must be willing to walk away. Because, just like a car’s engine needs to be parked and rested, so does your engine. But, what if you refuse to stop? Well… you might just end up like this car. Overheated!
But hopefully you won’t let things get this far. So, how can you avoid the overheating point? Well, a few things I find that help are setting boundaries and knowing my personal limits. These are both CRUCIAL for maintaining sanity- and avoiding overheating! (Oh, and caffeine. Did I mention that already?) But, seriously. Boundaries and limits!
So, my writing boundaries. Firstly, I have a writing office. Maybe you don’t. Maybe you write in a basement, during free time at work, on lunch breaks. Maybe you write when your kids are asleep, when you’re husband is working, when your roommate is out of the house. Or maybe you write from a hammock. If you do, props to you; it sounds like you’re living your best life! Whatever the situation, having a space that is yours, and yours only, is a good boundary to have. If you don’t have a designated spot- find one. It could be a closet, outside under a tree, on a speedboat with Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron- it doesn’t matter- but find one.
Having a space to your own is not to say that you can’t write elsewhere. What it does, however, is give you a designated area to create. Which can be increasingly helpful to your sanity. And next, making sure that you know your limits.
What are your limits? What does that even mean? I’m not talking about speed limits. Although sometimes speed comes into play. But that’s a different topic. I’m talking about knowing yourself. If you’re pushing yourself to a point that you are no longer enjoying your work- that’s not working within your limits. Writing should never be a place of confined, mandatory restriction. It should be a happy place of creative freedom. If you are demanding too much out of yourself and pushing your limits to a point of frustration, not only are you going to be unhappy but guess what- your writing will suffer. Yeah. You heard me right. Your writing will suffer! There’s a scene in Toy Story 2 where Woody is getting fixed up by Geri, an antique cleaner. And if you haven’t already seen this and aren’t interested in watching the full movie, I highly recommend watching it HERE because it is just *chef’s kiss* GOLD.
Geri is taking his time, situating himself with his tools that he’s about to use to clean and fix Woody.
Al says to Geri, “So, uh, how long is this going take?”
And Geri says, with a wag of the finger, “You can’t rush art!”
There’s a lot of truth in this statement. When you push yourself to write in an unnatural or uncomfortable state, the work is never your best. So, remember to be kind to yourself. Give yourself the time and space you need to find your creative rhythm. And once your mojo kicks in, write, write, write!
But, what if you can’t write? You feel zero inspiration. You’re tired. You’re staring at the page, and nothing is coming to you. CHANGE THE SCENERY. Taking a walk, doing some light exercise, or getting lost in a favorite binge tv-show can help give your brain a break. Again- forcing yourself to be creative isn’t how it works. Creativity is a natural thing that comes at its own pace. But how can you encourage creativity?
Read, read, read. Reading stimulates our natural curiosity and encourages creative brain flow! Read books in your genre that are new in the market. Go to the library. Bring a notebook with you! Jot down ideas you like. Ask yourself, “Why do I like this? What about it stands out?” And brainstorm how you could implement things into your own writing. Ideas are contagious. When we let others in, it inspires our own.
So, what am I rambling about anyway? Well, this morning, I read a fellow writer’s new blog post and walked away saying, “Ah, that was encouraging.” And do you know what my next thought was? “I want to encourage someone!” IDEAS ARE CONTAGIOUS- INSPIRATION FOLLOWS. And that’s really what it’s all about.
Now, encouragement. Why do writer’s need encouragement? Well, everyone needs encouragement from time to time. It’s healthy and natural to both give and receive encouragement. But, why might a writer need encouragement more than some? Well, being in the writing business, unlike other jobs in an office where you’re surrounded by co-workers and smiling faces, for a writer, it can often be a solitary affair. So, encouragement comes in handy. Having your writing community in your corner, your supporters, your critique partners, your friends, your family, your “fans” can help you get by and make it to that next milestone.
Speaking of milestones, here we go.
What are your goals?
What milestones do you hope to achieve?
And have you been able to?
If so, congratulations! If not, don’t fret. Just continue down the road until you get there, and sooner or later, I have faith you will. I believe in you- you should too! And sometimes, it can be tough. The waiting. The pushing. The hope. The letdowns. When I find myself losing courage, I like to think of Jane Eyre.
“Renewing then my courage, and gathering my feeble remains of strength, I pushed on.” -Charlotte Bronte
“Never give up on what you really want to do. The person with big dreams is more powerful than one with all the facts.” – Albert Einstein
And another one of my favorites…
“You never fail until you stop trying.”
Cliché, perhaps. But that doesn’t make the statements any less true! There is, after all, a reason that clichés exist! So, this is my brief cheerleader speech for today. If you’re writing picture books, or NOT pictures books- it could be anything- DON’T GIVE UP!
So, in conclusion to my ramble, I just want to remind you that you are loved, and awesome, and incredible, and most likely a total 10, the whole shebang, the greatest thing since sliced bread, the apple of someone’s eye, all that and a bag of chips. Remember, to stay sane in the writing world, 1. Give yourself boundaries. And 2. Know your limits!
Love you all!
It’s been a little while since I’ve made a post. Here’s what I’ve been up to…
For the past few months I’ve been gathering information, doing research, attending webinars, and working vigorously toward starting a non-profit Homeschool Group for families in need in my community. And I’m happy to announce, it has been a great success!
I’m so excited to share this news with you, so let’s dive right in!
What is Homeschool Group?
Homeschool Group is a place where families can come together and socialize, and kids can engage in self-paced, hands-on learning in a relaxed and creative environment. Right now, my group is open to ages 7-10, but I may look at expanding those age brackets as time goes on and I get a better feel for the specific needs of my community.
Where and when is Homeschool Group hosted? How can I attend?
Great question! Homeschool Group is being hosted in the Hendersonville Public Library in Tennessee. This group is held on the first Monday of each month at 2 PM. Sign-up sheets can be found in the Children’s area. For other cool events we have going on, check out our Facebook page or Instagram feed for updates and calendar info!
My personal goal with Homeschool Group is to inspire creativity and encourage social emotional learning while exposing children to the five elements of STEAM education; science, technology, engineering, arts, and math.
Around the room I have activity tables set up for kids to visit, imagine, and explore the wonders of reading, science, building, writing, creating, socializing, inventing, and playing!
Each of our tables is inspired by STEAM concepts, and is designed to encourage creative thinking and problem solving, enhance motor skills and social-emotional learning, and inspire children to find connections and explore the realm of imagination in a safe and fun environment.
Throughout the building process of this project, I was able to get some fabulous inspiration and ideas from several webinars, a few that I will mention here.
The two that stood out among the rest were STEAM in the Public Library: Programs & Services for Children and Creative Spaces and Family Engagement in Libraries, both available on Webjunction. Now, for those of you who may not know this, in addition to being a children’s book writer, I am also a Children’s Librarian. And, being homeschooled for the majority of my childhood, I have extensive knowledge of what it’s like to be in that position. How hard it can be to make connections within the community. Finding the right resources. Finding places to go. And forget about costs! You can’t find a “cheap” homeschooling program or event to participate in, and free? Free is unheard of. Everything costs something, and most often, it’s a higher price than the average family is looking to spend. Especially when you have more than one child. And that’s not a slight at pricing. It’s very possible that the price is justified and appropriate for whatever services are being offered, but nonetheless, many families simply can’t afford it.
So naturally, coming from a place of understanding, I wanted to offer a service to these families that wouldn’t dip into their pockets. And after some well thought out planning and a trial run, we were finally up and running!
Back to the wonderful Webinars I was able to enjoy. Here are a few of the notes I took from Creative Spaces and Family Engagement in Libraries, that really made me think about why art is such an important role in a child’s life.
The arts are not just expressive and effective. They are deeply cognitive. The arts develop essential thinking tools:
Pattern recognition and development.
Mental representations of the observed/imagined.
Symbolic and metaphorical representations.
Abstraction from complexity.
Cross wiring of brain areas.
Engagement with an art trains the brain to FOCUS, improving learning
* Interest in an art form leads to sustained attention when practicing that art form.
* Engaging in art involves resolving conflicts among competing possible responses.
* The ability to resolve conflict among competing responses is also a crucial aspect of attention training.
Arts integration improves learning
Studies consistently show:
* Greater emotional investment in classes.
* Work more diligently and learn from each other.
* Parents become more involved.
* Teachers collaborate more.
* Increased cross-curricular learning.
* Curriculum becomes more authentic, hands-on and project-based.https://learn.webjunction.org/mod/page/view.php?id=448
Whew! That was a lot to type up. But, well worth it. In fact, I loved it so much, I printed it all out and laminated copies for personal inspiration and reminders as I plan each group.
A few other points I took from this seminar that I really appreciated; I want to share with you below.
Art is a form of self-expression.
Art experiences should not invite sameness. Art should not require an instruction sheet. Art should not have a deadline. Art should encourage creativity, not conformity.
Think of setting up an art experience in the same way you would think of setting up a science experiment.
Encourage tinkering. Invite inventiveness.
Art is not a team sport.
Most often, artistic creation is solitary. Group art WILL leave some kids feeling rushed and compared.https://learn.webjunction.org/mod/page/view.php?id=448
Yes, yes, YES, to all of the above! If you don’t believe this to be true, I suggest taking a look at my book, ADHD and Me. Yep, shameless self-promo. But I wouldn’t try to sell you if I didn’t think it’s true. And I happen to know it is because it was inspired by a real young lady, who went through the same everyday challenges as Malory. Who was that young lady? Me.
About the book: ADHD and Me is an SEL (social-emotional learning) book about a young girl named Malory who has ADHD. Throughout her neurodiverse journey, she is encouraged to express herself using art, by her art teacher Ms. Julie, who was diagnosed as a young girl with Autism. With the help of her fabulous support system, including friends and family, Malory is able to find the joys in life and embrace her differences.
Now for my notes on STEAM in the Public Library: Programs & Services for Children with guest speaker Amy Koester and blogger, “THE SHOW ME LIBRARIAN.”
A little bit about Amy. Amy is a Learning Experiences Manager of a Public Library. She serves as a vice president of ASLC, and she’s a big supporter of her library and community. To see more about her click here.
Amy is a kindred spirit and fellow supporter of all things STEAM. And, her blog is simply AMAZING. Here is a link to visit her blog, THE SHOW ME LIBRARIAN.
So, a few things that I took away from this webinar are listed below.
- American children are lagging behind other countries when it comes to creative thinking.
- School and life success isn’t just about reading.
- Creativity is a top work skill. Today, big companies are looking for outside-of-the box thinkers and problem solvers. It is a highly valued and sought after trait in today’s workforce. And understandably so. Children who are adept learners and creative problem solvers statistically fair better in all avenues of life.
Now, a few of the suggestions that Amy gives are:
- Set up activity stations (check!)
- Observation station (check-check!)
- Sensory lights (FUN!)
- Sand (PERFECT!)
- Rocks (LOVE!)
- Glow in the dark (Who doesn’t love glow in the dark stuff?)
- Grow plants (Check!)
- Root gardens (Fantastic idea)
- Incorporate living things (100%)
- Butterflies/ant farms- and tie in books that fit your experiment! (yes!) While we are on that topic, see if you can sprinkle in non-fiction books too!
- Snails/worms (yes)
- Use recyclables (ALWAYS!)
A few other helpful tips to make your programming fun and engaging for your young participants:
Encourage them to make something.
Get your hands dirty!
Include things that will involve motor skills.
Make STEAM displays fun: one suggestion Amy gave was a globe! A globe is great because kids can both look at it AND play with it. It spins!
And last but not least, give children the tools to succeed!
Today is a very exciting day. That is because today is the scheduled release of a special edition of ADHD and Me titled ADHD and Me: Classroom Edition. ADHD and Me: Classroom Edition is designed to be used by educators grades K-3rd.
About the story:
ADHD and Me and was inspired by a true story and told from the perspective of an eight-year-old girl named Malory. Throughout the story, Malory shares observations of others around her in school and at home while also navigating her own feelings. At the end of the book, there is a message from “Malory” addressing parents, caregivers, and educators.
Why is this book so important for children and schools?
Statistics show that more than 60% of children who have been diagnosed with ADHD are also treated for other mental disorders. Many people also contend with addictive disorders, engage in self-harm or struggle with learning disabilities. There are many areas that ADHD can affect a person’s mental health.
Four common areas are:
- Social anxiety
- Low self-esteem
Depression can drain your energy. Social anxiety can make it difficult to make friends or interact in group settings. Insomnia can result in poor mental or physical performance. And low self-esteem can lead to loneliness.
A child should never have to face these things alone! Who is in the prime position to help children and students who may be struggling with these emotional needs? You guessed it- PARENTS AND EDUCATORS ARE IN THE PRIME POSTION TO HELP STUDENTS WHO ARE STRUGGLING WITH THESE EMOTIONAL NEEDS! So, how can we, as parents and teachers, do this? By providing our children and students with four key things:
- A healthy support system
- Encouragement to boost their self-esteem
- Open communication
- And creative outlets
This NEW RELEASE special edition of ADHD and Me: Classroom Edition is fully equipped with questions and discussion points to help children establish healthy boundaries, boost self-esteem, identify support systems, and discover creative outlets.
In addition to the launch of ADHD and Me Classroom Edition, also available on my website are FREE DOWNLOADABLE LESSON PLANS for grades K-3rd. These interactive lesson plans coincide with the story and include homework, games, questions, social projects, and much more! This curriculum was created to help educate and inspire positive emotional stimulations, social engagement, creative thinking, and group as well as individual problem-solving and is designed to be used in a classroom setting. So, what are you waiting for? Download your free lesson plans today!
Purchase your classroom copy today HERE.
Building up a child’s inner confidence is part of our job as parents, caregivers, and educators. In order to properly do this, there are several things we need to be mindful of and a few things we should avoid.
I will start with the top three things we SHOULD do.
- Focus on the positive
- Use kind speech
- Be ready to forgive
Focusing on the positive is first on the list of things to do to help boost your child’s self-esteem.
*Note: focusing on the positive does not AND should not mean that you can never express the negative. In life, there will consistently be both. However, if you follow these simple guidelines, it will make this process much simpler to understand and apply in to your everyday routine. So, how can we focus on the positive? What exactly does that mean? Let’s discuss a few ways.
Focusing on the positive goes hand-in-hand with positive affirmations. Why is positive affirmation so important? When a person receives a compliment, the brain, in turn, gets a “rise in dopamine.” As brought out in the linked article: “dopamine is associated with motivation, focus, and positivity.” These are all great things for children and people in general to have.
Example of using a positive affirmation/compliment to boost self-esteem: Mom is going to the grocery store. While she is buckling Hannah into her car seat, she notices that her older son, John, is buckling himself into the car without being helped. What does she do? Mom responds. “I noticed that you remembered to buckle your seatbelt all by yourself when we got into the car. That was very responsible. Good job!”
Why is this notable? Rather than taking John’s seemingly simple/small accomplishment for granted, Mom chose to capitalize on this opportunity to offer positive commendation/affirmation. By taking the initiative to reward John with praise for his task, mom has actually provided him with something crucial to his development. What is it? You guessed it- dopamine.
By taking active initiative to provide her child with this commendation, she has just given him the needed encouragement to repeat this action. What is the end result? Mom has done an excellent job in creating an incentive for John to continue practicing a healthy/positive habit.
*Now, as mentioned before, there will be times when there will be good and bad things to mention. But how you go about expressing the negative aspects without harming your child’s self-esteem is the key. So, how can you do that?
That brings us to kind speech.
As you’re probably familiar with from the working world, delivering “bad” or “unpleasant” news is often best when you accompany it with good news. Sometimes, this is not an option. But most of the time, there is something you can use to your advantage. Let’s discuss a few examples.
Example of an educator in an art room, using kind speech to both commend and correct:
Mr. Mark is hosting a creative painting class. A young student has made a beautiful portrait, but also a massive mess! There is paint splattered on the floor as well as the walls. How will Mr. Mark respond?
Mr. Mark assesses the situation. He approaches the student privately and in a soft tone. “You’ve done a wonderful job using color to express yourself on this page. I’m proud of you. But, now that we’ve painted, we will need to clean up the spots that missed the page and landed on the floors and walls.”
What do we take away from this example?
Firstly, Mr. Mark spoke to the student directly instead of broadcasting the situation in front of the entire classroom.
Next, he spoke in a “soft tone.” If you’re a parent with a teenager, or if you’ve ever been a teenager, it’s likely that you’ve heard the expression before: “It’s not what you said it’s how you said it.” This truly applies in this setting. How you say something can deeply affect both the meaning as well as how a child will respond to it.
And finally, I’ve saved the best for last. Did you notice how Mr. Mark began the conversation with his student? He did not start by reprimanding the mess. Instead, he began with praise. This is a good tactic to remember for pretty much every relationship in life... but an especially good one to remember when dealing with children. Keep in mind: children are fragile. Their brains, emotions, and bodies are still growing. So, be patient, be gentle, and always be kind.
The third item on our agenda to boost children’s self-esteem is being ready to forgive.
What does that mean? That means mentally preparing and coming to terms with the definite knowledge that your child or student WILL make mistakes. They will do things that upset, hurt, frustrate you. But, how you respond to this can either make or break the situation- and child’s self-esteem.
So, how can you keep your cool when dealing with a potentially frustrating situation? There are a lot of suggestions out there. But the one that works best for me is very simple. Before responding in a fit of blazing anger or exasperation, I take a moment and imagine that I am that child. How would I want someone to respond to me? Was this error made with malicious intent, or was it made by pure accident?
Each circumstance will be different from the next, which is why putting yourself into the headspace of that child is crucial to gauging how to respond correctly.
*Admittedly, we will have moments where we make mistakes too. Maybe one of those mistakes will even be responding to a situation in a way we wish we hadn’t. So, it’s important to remember to be ready to forgive not only your children or students but yourself too. Forgiveness is a two-way street. And in order to keep that balance maintained, it takes work. Keep this question in mind: How can we offer forgiveness to others when we can’t show ourselves that same courtesy?
- Be honest in both commendation and correction. Children can sense sincerity, and a way to show respect for them is by treating them with the dignity of honesty.
- Be specific; avoid blanket statements.
Examples of using positive affirmations in a home or school setting.
#1: “I appreciate what you’ve done.”
#2: "Your participation/comments/thoughts is/are valuable to us."
Now for the NO-NO’sWe have gone over the things to be mindful of, and now it’s time to jump into the things we should avoid. These are known as the “NO-NO’s.”
Avoid comparisons between children/students. No two children are the same, so it is, therefore, unreasonable to compare them to each other. Additionally, comparisons can lead to many harmful mental complexes down the road. So, do your child/student a favor and keep comparisons at bay. Remember: the only person a person should ever be compared to is the person they were yesterday. Self-reflective comparisons can actually be a very beneficial tool in helping to gauge healthy success and reach goals.
We have danced around this topic but haven’t directly addressed it yet. So, for no-no #2, we have: AVOID FOCUSING ON THE NEGATIVES FIRST. As was brought out earlier, this does not mean that you cannot tell your child when they have made a mistake. That would be an unbalanced overcorrection, which would lead to unrealistic and unhealthy habits down the road. Remember: wherever possible, practice directing your attention first to positive aspects before delivering critique or correction.
If you work to incorporate these three keys, you will be amazed at how these changes will help benefit your child’s mental health and boost their self-esteem!
For a suggested article on why to give compliments click here.
Regulating consistency can be as simple as responding to situations and actions regarding house rules, in the same way, every time. It is very important that whatever you decide on, that you maintain it. This involves setting a goal and sticking to it.
Example of NOT responding consistently to situations or actions:
Last week, Tommy asked if he could have dessert before dinner, and the reply was, “You know the house rules. Dessert is for after dinner, only.” This week when Tommy asked the same question, the reply was different. Why is this a problem? By giving a new reply, it creates an inconsistency with the house rules stated the previous week. Children, like adults, need stability to thrive. By not following through with the guidelines that you have provided, you are depriving your child of that stability.
*Of course, in life, there will always be exceptions. Changes and unexpected circumstances are inevitable. That being said, if your routine must change, be consistent about explaining to your children the reasons why it must change, and preferably, express this change before it takes place.
Example: “Next week, when Grandma comes to visit, you will be able to have dessert before dinner. This is an exception to our house rule, and after Grandma goes back home, we will continue having dessert after dinner.”
By explaining the situation beforehand, you have acknowledged the change prior to it being made. This allows the child to anticipate it. Not only that, but you have also made the transition clear. Once Grandma goes back home, things will go back to normal. This helps the child to understand the boundaries of the house rules so that there are no uncertainties.
Establishing trust is the cornerstone of importance when it comes to creating a healthy support system for your child.
One of the best ways you can establish trust with your child is by making sure to respect his/her preferences and boundaries. Each child is different, so each child will display his/her preferences and boundaries in different ways.
Example of a child displaying preferences/boundaries: Father comes home from work and gently pats child’s head. The child frowns and pulls away. The father asks, “why did you pull away?” The child responds, “I don’t like when my head is touched.” The father nods, “Okay, I’ll remember that.” The following day, the father comes home from work and greets the child with a smile. Instead of touching his child, he asks, “How was your day today?” The child smiles and replies, “It was good.”
What do we learn from this scenario?
The child is sensitive to physical touch. They displayed this by pulling away. Instead of ignoring this, the father asked a follow-up question to get further information to better understand the child’s perspective. When the child responded that they did not like their head being touched, how did the father respond? Did he force his child to conform to his own level of comfort and boundaries toward physical affection? No.
After the child expressed their boundary and level of comfort, the father took note of their preference. The following day, when he arrived home from work, he made a point of respecting his child’s boundaries. What is the result? The child now feels a level of increased comfort toward the father. By respecting his child’s sensory boundary, he has established trust.
Another way to create a healthy support system for your child is to make yourself available. By making yourself available to your child, you show them that you value them with your time. This reassures them of their importance, not only to you but as individuals. (This also helps boost their self-esteem.)
Example of making yourself available: Mother is making dinner in the kitchen. Her son comes up to her with something important. “Mom, I need to talk to you.” “Can it wait?” Mom says. “No, I need to talk to you right now.” What do you do?
The truth is, sometimes, the answer needs to be, “not right now.” If you are in the middle of something, like cooking dinner, and you are dealing with time-sensitive things, sometimes, you cannot provide your child with undivided attention at that exact moment. That being said, there are ways to go about this to maintain a healthy relationship with your child that both show that you value them and that their feelings and thoughts are important both to you and in general.
Example of how to respond if you CAN’T talk right now: Pause from what you are doing and give direct eye contact (in some cases, where appropriate, you can establish focus by gently placing your hands on your child’s shoulders.) “I’m very busy right now cooking. If I try to handle dinner and our discussion at the same time, I may burn the food or not be able to focus fully on what you are saying. I would like to hear what you have to say and give you my full attention. As soon as I am done here, I will sit down with you at the table, and we will talk. Okay?”
Key points about this response:
- Mom gave direct eye contact and focused on the child, validating their self-esteem and expressing genuine interest in what they had to say. Why is this important? Because this reassures the child that mom cares about what they have to say.
- Mom didn’t say, “maybe later.” Instead, she gave a definite response, “we will talk,” and she even set a specific time and location, “as soon as I’m done here, I will sit down with you at the table.” What does this do for the child? This establishes stability. They have a definite answer.
- And finally, mom gave an explanation as to why she could not provide undivided attention at that moment. By doing this, Mom was teaching her child that “time and place” are important and relative to sharing thoughts. This is something that all children will need to learn as they grow. By giving this explanation to your child when they are young, it will help prepare them for adulthood without inflicting damage on their self-esteem. Rather than feeling confused about why they couldn’t have their parent’s attention at that moment, they will understand that it is not personal; rather, it was simply not the right time and place.
By implementing these three things into your child’s life, it will significantly increase your child’s level of comfort and trust in their support system.
If you live in Hendersonville, TN, or a surrounding area, we warmly welcome you to attend our upcoming mental health event! This event will be held on November 20th, 2021, from 10:00, am- 12:00 pm.
Join us on Saturday, November 20th, 2021, at the Hendersonville TN Public Library in celebrating our differences and supporting those around us in the community who are dealing with mental health problems.
Our speakers will be sharing a little bit of hope, comfort, and understanding, as well as providing resources to help aid children and families.
Local children’s book authors Chelsea Radojcic-DiCicco and Mary Elizabeth Jackson will be sharing topics on how to empower your children today as well as how to help children in school and within the family.
Chelsea’s picture book entitled ADHD and Me follows eight-year-old Malory, who has ADHD and shows life through her eyes. It describes her daily interactions with her family and tells her perceptions of school life from the teachers, students, and herself. Throughout the story, Malory shared her observations of others around her while also navigating her own feelings.
Mary’s *newly released* middle-grade book, Cheers From Heaven, navigates the emotions of five students who bullied a boy with cancer. After his death, the five students befriend one another and journey to find the boy’s notes that he left behind. This story handles grief, forgiveness, and healing.
Crisis Counselor Jason Scruggs will be addressing the acknowledgment, assessment, and addressing of your child’s emotional well-being.
And Cary Massey, President of Next-Level Consulting, will be discussing how to build healthy relationships. If you’re in the area, stop by! We would love to have you.
GUEST SPEAKERS & DISCUSSION TITLES:
Mary Elizabeth Jackson
Empowering Our Kids Today
Helping Children at School and Within the Family
Acknowledging, Assessing, & Addressing the Emotional Well-Being of Your Child
Building Healthy Relationships