Anxiety and the Five Agreements

Have you ever read Don Miguel Ruiz and Don Jose Ruiz’s “The Four Agreements” and “The Fifth Agreement”? Although written for adults, the agreements are appropriate for use by children as well.

My mother in law, also an educator, gave me this compiled list of the “Five Agreements”. “The Five Agreements” are a superb way to talk to your child about how to be with other people in the world. Since much of our anxiety is triggered by interactions with others, the following “agreements” are very helpful. Let’s face it, we can all take note and try to live by these rules.

  1. Be impeccable with your word.

Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

  1. Don’t take anything personally.

Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the      opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.

  1. Don’t make assumptions.

Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

  1. Always do your best.

Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.

  1. Be skeptical, but learn to listen.

By being skeptical, we don’t believe every message we hear; we don’t put our faith in lies, and when our faith is not in lies, we quickly move beyond emotional drama, victimization, and the limiting belief systems our “domestication” has programmed us with.

The joy of learning. Together. 

Nora

 

 

Quick Tips: Listening and Fun

Helping children to boost their confidence can be as easy and listening to them, and modeling positive attitudes. Check out more quick tips for building confident learners below!

Listen, Don’t Interrupt: Listen to children when they are processing something new. It’s very tempting to interrupt their process in order to correct! I know. It’s hard. But stop yourself and allow them to find their own errors. If they don’t find the errors after they’ve worked on a task for a bit, you can go in and ask them about where they might have made a mistake. This allows them autonomy and gives them responsibly for their own learning.

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Be positive and have fun! Nothing is more degrading to the learning experience than a nasty or impatient adult. Modeling positive learning attitudes will make a huge difference in a child’s mindset about their own education.

Three Things! Learning, Kindness and Family

What I’m Reading:  Remember when I said I was reading “A Mind at a Time?” Well, I’m still working on it, and have found it to be very insightful. Levine describes learning dysfunction concisely, while blending in relatable stories about real children. I would recommend it for both educators and parents alike. Even if your child isn’t experiencing big problems at school, it’s an important read.

Building Confident Learners: I can’t stress enough how much kindness and empathy is important to the learning process. We need to teach our young people to be kind to themselves when they make a mistake, and in turn be kind to others when they are struggling. Remember, when interacting with a young person you never know what they will remember. Even the smallest things can become a big memory to them. Always. Be. Kind.

What Gives Me Joy: Family. I recently went back home to Wisconsin to visit family and I’m so grateful for the time, albeit short, I had with them. Then I got to come back home to my wonderful husband and fluffy dog! Life is good.

The joy of learning. Together.

Nora

 

Anxiety in Children: Calming Down

Another Tuesday, another Passionate Parent Advocate post about anxiety! Below are three more ideas to alleviate anxiety in children. You can use any of these during a bout of anxiety, but I think they’re great to build in as a preventative daily routine as well.

calm rocks

  1. If your child needs space to relax you can make calm jars easily at home. Just google “calm jars” and you’ll find a plethora of options and DIY instructions. Once you have a calm jar made you can use it in many ways! If a child is experiencing acute anxiety or frustration it can be used as a timer. For example, you can shake up the jar and give it to the child. Ask them to find a place they enjoy sitting or that they feel comfortable in. Then, ask them to watch the jar (holding it still and upright) and concentrate on the sparkles. When the sparkles have all settled at the bottom they can come back and try again!
  2. Meditation for kids and basic stretching routines. You can find a lot of information on meditation for kids and work in any stretching you like! Remember meditation does NOT have to be sitting totally still without thinking. That’s really hard for kids and adults alike so start by just sitting still for a few minutes at a time. Concentrate on the sounds around you, how your body feels in the moment, and your breathing.  Even two minutes is better then nothing! It may help to find a guided mediation that suits you.
  3. If you like essential oils diffusing them, and using something like lavender can be soothing when studying, reading, doing homework, or at bedtime. Essential oils can be very strong so talk to someone who knows a lot about them before using them for anything other than diffusing.

The joy of learning. Together. 

Nora

Quick Tips: Goals and Success

Here are two more quick tips for building confident learners! Keep you eyes peeled for more next week.

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Goal Setting: You can help children feel confident and successful by creating realistic goals with them. By having conversations with about what their goals are, you can break up a task into doable sections and work with them to reach a goal one step at a time.

Create opportunity for success: Get to know your child or student. I mean, really get to know them. Once you understand how they perceive success, how they learn, and who they are, you can help them structure their learning and build successful experiences for them. This doesn’t necessarily mean making something “easier” or “harder”. Creating opportunities for success can be done by simply being flexible and open to new routes of assessment or practice.

The joy of learning. Together. 

Nora

Sharing Stories

What I’m Reading: “I Capture the Castle” by Dodie Smith. As a friend of mine said, “This book is like comfort food.” It’s a wonderfully written coming of age story that takes place in 1930’s England. It captures adolescence beautifully by chronicling the journal entries of Cassandra, a teenage aspiring writer. Although not an academic text, I include it here because I believe it’s important to balance your reading list with both fiction and non-fiction texts.I Capture the Castle

Building Confident Learners: I’ve received a few letters from a previous students recently that reminded me of how joyful learning and sharing knowledge is! Confidence in learning comes from making real connections with others and sharing your own love of learning. Show your learner or learners how fun learning can be in authentic, experiential ways. Share your joy in learning and in doing so you will empower young people to be curious observers of the world!

What Gives Me Joy: Podcasts or audiobooks while crocheting. I’ve been introverting like crazy this week and have enjoyed listening to stories via podcasts and audiobooks. I love using Hoopla which is a fantastic app you can download for free! Just connect the app to your public library account and enjoy hours of audiobooks, eBooks, music and movies. I should note that I’m not getting paid to mention Hoopla, I honestly just really love it and see it as a wonderful public resource.

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The joy of learning. Together.

Nora

 

Student Letter Celebratory Post

I’m writing a special post to celebrate my past students and the relationships teachers can build with their students!

My move to South Carolina has been a great adventure so far. I’ve felt very welcomed by everyone I’ve met in the community. Still, I can’t help but feel a few pangs of homesickness sometimes. Consequently, receiving letters from students has been a wonderful reminder of Wisconsin and the amazing people there.

I love opening my mailbox to see a handwritten letter from a past student, it makes my day every time. We spent some time working on letter writing throughout the school year so I was particularily happy to see them utilize the skill! My teacher heart rejoices when I see proper formatting and punctuation! It also rejoices in the mistakes and spelling errors because I’m always happy to read anything from a student (and if you read my previous post on mistakes, you know how I feel about them).

Check out these joyful learners!

The joy of learning. Together. 

Nora

Anxiety in Children: Physical Actions

As promised, I have some more suggestions for what to do with children who are experiencing anxiety. Although anxiety is a mental phenomenon,  it is often expressed physically and can therefore be reduced by physical activity, or changing the physical environment.

jumping fun

  • Joyful physical activity, meaning something that gives the student confidence and is pure fun. That can be any sport, dance, gymnastics, swimming, and even just playing outside!
  • Fidgets- squishy things or clicky things that students can use while thinking or processing something that they are anxious/upset about. But for the love of your child’s teacher, please leave fidget spinners at home or use at recess only unless previously arranged with the teacher. You may also want to have a discussion with your child’s teacher about the use of a fidget in the classroom. They may have some great suggestions!
  • Weighted blankets (you can buy them online or make them if you’re crafty). They calm the body and reduce the physiological responses we have to anxiety. Often if you can calm your physical stress response the mind follows.

The joy of learning. Together. 

Nora

Quick Tips: Goals and Success

Here are a two more things that I’ve practiced to help build confident learners!

Goal Setting: You can help children feel confident and successful by creating realistic goals with them. By having conversations with about what their goals are, you can break up a task into doable sections and work with them to reach a goal one step at a time.

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Create opportunity for success: Get to know your child or student. I mean, really get to know them. Once you understand how they perceive success, how they learn, and who they are, you can help them structure their learning and build successful experiences for them. This doesn’t necessarily mean making something “easier” or “harder”. Creating opportunities for success can be done by simply being flexible and open to new routes of assessment or practice.

The joy of learning. Together. 

Nora

Making Mistakes

What I’m Reading: “A Mind at a Time” by Mel Levine. This book is an interesting exploration into the process of learning, and how adults can help children by working with their strengths. I just started the book but I’m excited to see what Levine has to say!

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Building Confident Learners: Allow room for mistakes. Learners of all ages feel threatened in an environment in which mistakes are not allowed. Make sure to create a space for your learner(s) to make a mistake or two- and then learn from it! Some very important things were invented on accident. Chocolate chip cookies and penicillin for example, are two inventions of arguably equal importance that were created on accident.

What Gives Me Joy: Hiking. I went for a hike with my husband, our dog Nikita, two friends, and their puppy (quite the crew) at Croft State Park. It sure is hot here but the hike was beautiful and rejuvenating!

The joy of learning. Together.

Nora