At AISM, we employ the RULER Approach, developed by the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, to guide our teaching and learning in Advisory classes. Additionally, we adhere to the SHAPE standards to guide instruction on essential topics such as Puberty and Adolescent Sexual Development, Gender Identity & Expression, Sexual Orientation & Identity, Sexual Health, Consent & Healthy Relationships, and Interpersonal Violence. Click here for the Middle School and High School RULER Unit Overviews.
Advisory is a regularly scheduled class within our Secondary School, aimed at facilitating regular meetings for small groups of students. These sessions foster relationships beyond the academic realm and provide a platform for learning directly related to their well-being. Advisors, who are responsible for planning and facilitating these classes, collaborate with the Social Emotional Counselor to offer targeted workshops on health and well-being topics. Advisory is a weekly fixture in all Secondary School grades, spanning from Grades 6 to 12.
Why Children Fight With Their Friends
Children fight with their friends for many reasons, from misunderstandings to arguing over a toy to feeling left out to instances of bullying. These fights can be short-lived, episodic, big blowouts, or even end a friendship.
Emotions can run high and their reactions can be big. Or some children will keep their feelings inside and/or have trouble establishing healthy boundaries in their relationships. Parents are often left wondering how to help—and may worry about why their child is fighting with their friends.
It is absolutely normal and common for kids to experience peer conflict. In fact, these fights can actually be beneficial for your child by giving them a chance to practice their social skills. Additionally, disagreements can be opportunities for your child to recognize their feelings, accurately communicate them, and express what they need. Still, these fights can cause a lot of emotional distress for the individuals involved and are not always handled in a manner that gracefully resolves the conflict. This is where parents can offer guidance and step in, as needed.
General Guidelines for Offering Help
At AISM, like most international schools, families come and go.. To help with the transition, the Counselor provides opportunities, resources and strategies for our leavers to process their feelings about saying “goodbye” and cope with the changes. If we aren’t the ones leaving, it’s easy to overlook the stayers and it's important that we focus on the whole community!
There are two parts of a “goodbye” – the person who is leaving and the person who is staying behind.
Even though we stay behind, we also need to say “goodbye” to our friends who are leaving and deal with our own feelings. This is true for children and young people of all ages, including our youngest ELC learners.
Preparing to Say Goodbye
It is harder to be prepared when you’re not aware that your child’s friend is leaving. If you are aware, there are a few things you can do.
“I can endure any ‘how’ if I have a ‘why’.” – Nietzsche
The Transition Stage
Although this is more pertinent to the family that is leaving, there are some elements that can apply to the family that stays behind.
Families in Global Transition. (2020, March 25). A RAFT for Transitioning through Uncertainty and Disruption. Www.figt.org. https://www.figt.org/blog/8857196
Adapted from: Children Need to Say “Goodbye” Too. (2016, June 28). Nurture for the Future.
For little people who are still working to master many skills, mistakes happen all.the.time. In fact, the way we learn is by making mistakes. For children who struggle with making mistakes, this can be incredibly problematic. Some children ‘shut down’ and become unresponsive. Others refuse to acknowledge that they made an error – often insisting that whatever happened was somebody else’s fault. Some have large, emotional, responses to mistakes. All of these responses and reactions make peer engagement and participation in group activities more challenging (do you like to hang out with people who cannot acknowledge when they made a mistake?). Even more importantly, it doesn’t feel good to the child.
“Calmly and confidently making mistakes is a skill - which means it can be taught and improves with practice.” — Janelle Fenwick
On the one hand, children are expected to repeatedly make mistakes while learning new skills. But on the other hand, for some, it feels completely unbearable to make mistakes. So what can we do? Calmly and confidently making mistakes is a skill – which means it can be taught and improved with practice. I’ve outlined seven strategies to help children better understand mistakes and to reduce some of the emotional response associated with making mistakes.
Six Ways to Help Your Child Calmly Make Mistakes
1. DRAW ATTENTION TO YOUR OWN MISTAKES
Yup, this is a super comfortable one ;-). Parents, teachers, and caregivers are the best models. During life, when you make a mistake, draw attention to it. The key here is to be factual about what happened. Consider the difference:
“Gah! I can’t believe I spilled coffee everywhere. Now we’re going to be late and I have to change. I’m so stupid. I can’t believe I did that again”
“I spilled my coffee, that was a mistake. I was thinking about getting my keys and bumped my coffee instead, whoops”
I know, it’s easier said than done because mistakes can be incredibly frustrating. However, if we as adults cannot control and alter our own responses and reactions to mistakes then is it really fair for us to ask the same of children?
2. LEARN ABOUT FAMOUS MISTAKES
The slinky, silly putty, post-it, all created because someone made (and explored) a mistake. Explore some famous mistakes to notice how people responded to the mistake. Consider what would have happened if the mistake was never ‘claimed’ or even explored! Here's a starting point for your mistakes exploration.
3. PRACTICE MAKING MISTAKES
So technically if you’re practicing making a mistake it’s not really a mistake (mistakes are unintentional). But we know that responding to mistakes in a calm fashion is a skill – and skills we can improve and learn through practice. I like to start by first highlighting my own mistakes during a task. I then ease into outlining that I’m actually going to practice making mistakes.
Ideally you practice mistakes using similar situations that are tricky for your child (individualizing is so important!). Common ‘high mistake frustration’ activities include: art, block building, Legos (seriously, how frustrating is it when your Lego creation flies apart as you try to put on a piece!?!?!).
4. READ BOOKS ABOUT MAKING MISTAKES
Books serve as a ‘safe space’ to explore more challenging ideas. It can feel more comfortable to talk about mistakes when you’re talking about a character’s mistakes. Check out How to Use Books to Support Children in Making Mistakes for more ideas for how to begin this conversation and ways to use these amazing books.
5. RECOGNIZE HARD WORK AND PRACTICE
Successful end products more naturally tend to be celebrated. It’s less common for people to celebrate hard work and practice – and yet it’s the hard work and the practice that helps us ultimately achieve the end products! Give positive comments for practice and hard work.
As you see your child working on a puzzle, comment on how many ways they tried to make their piece fit or how hard they worked to make a piece fit - “I noticed you working to find where that piece belonged. It looked tricky but you kept at it”.
6. HIGHLIGHT WHAT YOU ARE PRACTICING AND LEARNING
We want our children to be comfortable practicing, making mistakes, and learning. So again, we must model those actions ourselves. Think about something you’re working towards – a personal goal or something that is hard for you. Perhaps you’re working to run a certain number of miles or to cook a new dessert. If your job requires assessments or continuing education requirements, let your children know when you’re studying for tests or working on developing these new skills.
So there you have it: Six ways to help your child feel more confident to make mistakes
Let me know which ones you try and how it goes!
Adapted from: “What to Do If Your Child Struggles with Mistakes.” Express Yourself, NC, www.expressyourselfnc.com/blog//what-to-do-if-your-child-struggles-with-mistakes. Accessed 18 Apr. 2023.
A big thank you to those parents that attended the RULER Family Connections Workshop. We focused on the fourth RULER tool, “The Blueprint”.
If you were unable to attend the RULER workshop but you are curious about the BLUEPRINT and how it can be helpful at home, we have included the informational slides from the session as well as a few other resources:
The Ruler Implementation Team
I have had several parents schedule appointments with me recently wanting to discuss how they can help their child/children deal with stress. Children face stressors that can affect their daily lives all the time. How you help support them can enhance their mental and physical well-being. Is it surprising to hear that not all stress is negative? Keep reading to find out more about dealing with stress.
A minute about stress
Any developments that require your child to change or adapt may incite anxiety. Even positive events can trigger stress. Moving, making new friends, and even going on holiday are changes that can induce stress. Some stress may be beneficial. As children develop, manageable stress helps them learn to become resilient. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) emphasizes that in non-life-threatening situations, stress can motivate people. Presenting in front of an audience or trying out for the soccer team may prompt this short-term stress. But ongoing stress takes a toll and requires more support. Understanding the signs of stress in children and helping them cope is key to their mental and physical well-being.
Helping children cope with stressTo support children experiencing ongoing stress, here are five ways to help:
1. Ensuring your child has a stable environment
While our International lives can often feel unstable with big moves and ongoing transitions, there are strategies to create a stable home life.
Knowing we can navigate some things in our lives helps us feel less stressed. This is true for children as well. When possible, you can suggest they identify options and make choices. When they choose well, you can celebrate their efforts. Also, considering the unexpected can be jarring. When changes are coming, you could let them know in advance. If you need to rearrange a schedule or reschedule a family visit, you can tell your children as soon as possible. Try to help them get used to the change rather than react to it.
3. Attending to behavioral changes
You can set aside time to talk with your children individually. Try listening to their responses without interrupting. You can actively listen by trying to ask questions to understand what they’re going through. You can watch for signs of stress. Rather than moving toward an action plan, try to identify and name their emotions by using the mood meter. By showing care and affection and simply listening to your child, your child can see that you’re on their team, supporting them. You might explore with them how they could resolve their source of stress.
4. Encouraging physical activity
Like adults, exercising is an easy way for your children to work out their frustrations. They also gain a mental health boost. It’s beneficial for their bodies and can help them cope.
5. Getting professional help
If relief doesn’t come and your child shows signs of depression, isolation, or elevated anxiety, you can seek expert help with the school counselor. Your school counselor can also help you learn more about coping skills to help kids manage stress. You can schedule an appointment with Ms. Marlo at https://calendly.com/marlo-frontiera/meeting
*6. Have Fun Together - Bonus Tip
There is a reason why we say, “Laughter is the best medicine.” We all have busy lives and making time to do the things we love, with the ones we love is important! It can also alleviate stress.
*Adapted from - Beth Dumey, MA. “Helping Children Cope with Stress : 5 Tips.” Psych Central, Psych Central, 9 Sept. 2022, https://psychcentral.com/stress/tips-for-helping-your-child-manage-stress.
Thank you to the families that were able to attend the RULER workshop on using the Charter at home. As promised, these are the slides for anyone that was unable to attend and/or anyone that is interested in having a closer look. We also shared a Tips Sheet to help families build stronger relationships within their family, as well as an overview of the Charter Tool for Families.
Those that attended also wanted the “List of 100+ feelings and the definitions”. This list gives us shared definitions to help us all agree on the nuances of our feelings.
We hope to see you at our next Family Connections Workshop on Friday, 21 October @ 08:15, when we will focus on another RULER Tool called the Mood Meter. Location TBA. We look forward to seeing you there!
The RULER Implementation Team
Thank you to the families that were able to attend the Family Introduction to RULER. As promised, these are the slides for anyone that was unable to attend and/or anyone that is interested in having a closer look.