Being able to ask for help is an essential skill for everyday life, but one that often has a stigma attached to it. It's natural for young kids to want to "do it themselves," especially when they see adults accomplishing the same tasks without help. Asking for help can sometimes be seen as a sign of weakness or incompetence, especially as we get older. But as we can see in the Magination Press book Giraffe Asks for Help by Nyasha Chikowore, main character Gary became happier and stronger after recognizing that he didn't have to struggle alone. Help-seeking in children promotes positive psychological functioning, competence, and inspires healthy collaboration with the children and adults around them. When children learn to ask for help, not only do they utilize their problem-solving skills, but they also become more adept at communicating and expressing their needs. The Importance of Help-Seeking It may seem obvious to us, but asking for help can be a crucial tool to help kids deal with tough problems such as bullying, trouble with school work, conflict with peers, and more. In addition, help-seeking is a skill that can combat many of the risk factors that have been known to cause stress and sadness in kids. Discussing what asking for help looks like in different settings (e.g. school, home, camp) can help ensure that children can identify adults and peers who are safe and can provide them with the appropriate forms of assistance. Of course, there's a line between encouraging help-seeking and allowing a child to become dependent on help. Kids should still be encouraged to try things on their own when it is safe and appropriate for them to do so, but being comfortable asking for help when it would be beneficial is a key developmental skill. Being mindful about that line can make a huge difference in your child's understanding of help-seeking. What You Can Do There are many things we can do to encourage help-seeking behaviors in kids. Letting them know that you are there to help them when needed is a good way to make sure they use the skill. Many kids have already been asking you for help since they were toddlers, and it can help to point out what that looked like as they have grown. You may have helped teach them how to walk, helped them with coloring or drawing, or helped them learn how to ride a bicycle. You can also give them examples of when you have had to ask for help in your own life to emphasize that people of all ages sometimes need help. The following questions can aid parents and teachers in helping children navigate how to ask for help appropriately: What are some things you can do without asking for help? What are some things you still need help with? How can you ask for help? Have some suggestions ready in case your child needs help coming up with ideas! Identify Potential HelpersRead More
Teaching children about gratitude has become increasingly popular as families and schools have recognized the importance of social-emotional learning. We want children to develop the capacity to take the perspective of others, appreciate acts of kindness, and experience feelings of gratitude. Recent psychological research on gratitude confirms what parents and caregivers have long known: feeling grateful is good for us. A review of the scientific literature on gratitude1 compiled dozens of studies that link our gratitude to wellness. For example, researchers have found that gratitude is associated with: physical health stronger relationships greater likelihood of forgiving better sleep decreased stress In many cases, we're not sure if feeling grateful causes these outcomes or if the outcomes cause gratitude (perhaps those who have stronger relationships become more grateful). It's also possible that these factors don't have a direct, causal relationship, but rather they're just correlated or associated. Even so, we know that those who are grateful are more likely to experience these positive outcomes. Feeling grateful is good for us. Some researchers have been able to demonstrate in experimental conditions that thinking about that for which we are grateful makes us feel better. For example, simply making lists of things for which we are grateful can make us feel better, and those good feelings can persist for months. Gratitude lists take only a few minutes, but can have a powerful, positive impact on our affect. Unfortunately, most of the research on gratitude has been conducted with adults, so we're still learning how young children learn about and experience gratitude. It's possible that young children have been overlooked by researchers because of assumptions regarding a child's ability to think about others' feelings. While the capacity to take someone's perspective is still developing in early childhood, we know that children can read the facial expressions of others and that feelings of gratitude are emerging. This is an exciting developmental period in which families and schools can play an active role in helping children learn about gratitude. Picture books are a great starting point, as children use stories to identify with characters and makes sense of the world. Grow Grateful tells the story of a girl who goes on a camping trip with her teacher and classmates and learns about gratitude. Following the story is a section for adults that includes information about gratitude and activities for young children to engage them in hands-on experiences about feeling grateful. Here's one of the suggested activities from the back of Grow Grateful: Create grateful art Get out some art materials and work with your child to make something creative around the theme of gratitude. For example, cut out pictures from old magazines that represent things for which you are grateful and then glue them to poster board. Hang up your gratitude collage as a reminder of the things for which you’re thankful. When doing this, let your child select his or her own pictures, as gratitude is individualized and personal. SinceRead More
A Mindful Child Is a Happier Child
Taking a pause to focus the mind can help your child feel happier, calmer, and more relaxed. At Magination Press Family, you’ll find books that explore the idea of mindfulness and offer practical ways to incorporate it into your child’s daily life. Explore the catalog for APA-approved titles such as A World of Pausabilities: An Exercise in Mindfulness by Frank J. Sileo, which focuses on applying mindfulness to everyday moments.
Children are more stressed out and anxious than ever before. In our fast paced, hectic, and digital world, the impact of this way of being can be detrimental to the health and welfare of our children. Wide-spread use of electronic devices exposes children to information and various forms of stimulation at rapid speeds. In addition to schoolwork and household responsibilities, children may be involved in many extracurricular activities and overscheduled with other commitments. More and more children report feeling anxious, stressed, tired, and easily frustrated. Their young bodies and minds cannot take it all. Children often lack healthy coping skills to deal with the pressures they experience and need help developing skills to navigate the challenges in their lives. What is Mindfulness? Mindfulness is a way of being and an effective tool for coping with a stressful world. It teaches children to notice and bring their attention to what is happening in the present moment: their thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations. Mindfulness teaches children to notice and bring their attention to what is happening in the present moment. Mindfulness is not concerned with what happened in the past or what may happen in the future. Children are naturally more mindful than adults; they are often much more present in the here and now, so learning mindfulness practices may come more easily to them. There are two formal practices of mindfulness that are effective tools for coping with stress: meditation and yoga. These practices are positive, portable and scientifically proven to help lower stress, build resilience, aid with concentration and focus, regulate emotions, as well as provide other mental and physical benefits. Meditation and yoga require time, patience, commitment and practice. Children can do meditation and yoga alone, with a friend, or with a parent or caregiver. Meditation Mindfulness meditation focuses on being in the present by focusing on one’s breath. The breath serves as an anchor to wandering thoughts that may arise during meditation practice. When children focus on their breathing, they may notice their thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations and become more in tune with their minds and bodies. Bringing their attention to a sound, smell or bodily sensation can also serve as anchors instead of the breath. Meditation should be done in a quiet place, free of distractions. Children may meditate on the floor, a mat, a chair or lying down. Sitting is recommended because, if they lie down during meditation, they are more likely to fall asleep. Meditation practice is best done regularly and at a time that works for your child. It can be a great way to start or end a day. Bedtime may be a great time to meditate to help your child unwind, relax and fall asleep. Helping your child learn to meditate can be a special experience for both of you, as your child learns from your example. When teaching your child to meditate, start with shorter periods of time and gradually increase the practice. Three to five minutes is anRead More