Expressive writing has many benefits. Writing about life helps people, among other things: get healthy! Research shows that people who write about emotional upheavals require fewer doctor visits and are generally happier. combat depression! Writing a gratitude journal helps with mood. Expressing yourself lets you ditch your stress for a while. build their brain! People best express themselves in different ways--through words, music, movement. Some people prefer to be alone to be inspired. Others think best by talking to people. Trying a variety of writing activities can spur new ways of thinking, resulting in stronger, smarter writers! Magination Press's book, Neon Words: 10 Brilliant Ways to Light Up Your Writing, provides young writers with writing prompts and book-making activities to help them learn about creative writing by honoring, strengthening, and playing with their ideas and words. Writing activities can spark imagination and allow young writers to make their writing more powerful, but they can also help kids engage with words to be more present in life and to use language arts techniques for self-discovery and emotional well-being. Take a writing activity about antagonists, for example. In the Villainous Voices activity, writers are invited to think about a disagreement they've had with someone else, but from their adversary's point of view. In a story, the reader sides with the protagonist: the main character, the lead actor. It's the character we find ourselves rooting for. The antagonist, on the other hand, is often the one who causes problems: the villain, the one who creates the story's tension. They're the character we hope gets the short end of the stick. Have you ever read The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by "A. Wolf"? (The author is really Jon Scieszka.) As the title suggests, you don't usually hear the wolf's take on the classic folk tale. In Wicked, Gregory Maguire writes a back story for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, giving the villain--that is, the Wicked Witch of the West--the leading role; this is a complete departure from the original.Now it's your turn. List a few people with whom you've had a disagreement. People you've argued with. People who see a situation from a different vantage point than you. Anyone in your life is fair game: Your mother Your father A sibling Other relative A friend or ex-friend A teacher A pet Think about the argument: Where were you? (scene) What happened? (action) What was said? (dialog) If it helps to take notes first, or jot down key points, go for it! Now retell that story, only this time as the person you clashed with. Invite them to speak as the protagonist. Look for the positive thinking that you couldn't see in the heat of emotion. Be honest. What do you think motivated them--and now you? Why would you want to do this? Writing-wise, it helps you get into the head of each of your characters to make them more complex, authentic, and honest. You want them to ring true, evenRead More
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
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.
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