Wanda Witch is a snitch and her friends don’t like it. The other witches at Camp Spellbound want her to stop snitching. This delightful picture book from Magination Press tells a tattling tale that is perfect for parents to share with their kids. Snitchy Witch by Frank J. Sileo, Ph.D., explores the difference between tattling, or snitching, and telling or reporting. As young children develop their sense of right and wrong, they may struggle with tattling. This excerpt from Dr. Sileo’s “Note to Grown-Up Witches” provides useful strategies for parents to help their children learn the difference between snitching and telling, develop problem-solving skills, and develop empathy. To Tell or Not to Tell Snitching, or tattling, is telling on someone when the situation is safe and does not require an adult to be involved. Telling, or reporting, is telling an adult when someone or something is being hurt or is in danger, or when someone is deliberately being destructive or hurtful. Children tattle for many different reasons including seeking attention, jealousy or wanting to get someone in trouble, to show they know the rules, and others. They may snitch because they haven’t yet developed the ability to think abstractly, so they interpret rules very rigidly. Young children also may have not yet developed effective interpersonal problem solving skills, leading them to involve adults unnecessarily. Of course, there are times when children should always tell an adult that something is going on. Let your child know they can always ask you if they are unsure about a situation. Help your child learn to recognize the difference between dangerous situations, like bullying or someone or getting hurt, and frustrating or upsetting situations, like people being rude or selfish, by providing concrete examples. If Your Child Snitches Teaching your child the difference between snitching and telling is an important starting point, but remember that children may snitch for a lot of different reasons. Teach Problem-Solving Skills Young children are learning the important skills needed to deal with conflict and problems. Stepping in to solve problems too quickly will teach your child that the only way to solve a problem is to go to an adult for help. Instead, teach your child to work through conflicts with others. For example, suggest they take a few deep breaths and think about a way to handle the situation on their own before tattling. Give them tools—like using words (“I don’t like it when you don’t share with me”) or walking away to play with someone or something else in a difficult situation. Avoid Rewarding Snitching Behavior Sometimes a child tattles because she is seeking attention, feels jealous, or wants to get another child in trouble. Resist jumping right in and to scold the “perpetrator.” You’ll be giving the “snitcher” a false sense of importance, and likely encourage more snitching. If safety is not an issue, avoid punishing the other child, so that you avoid giving positive attention to the snitcher. Show and Teach Empathy ChildrenRead 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
Learn More About Mindfulness
At Magination Press Family, we offer a variety of books that can help you and your child understand mindfulness and how it can help you feel more present and calm. Explore the bookstore for helpful titles that explain what it means to be mindful, such as King Calm: Mindful Gorilla in the City by Susan D. Sweet and Brenda S. Miles, which offers tips for becoming calm, focused, and in tune with the world around you.
This word mindfulness used so much these days that its meaning is often lost or confused. It is something we find ourselves saying in place of other phrases that are more specific like “be careful” or “be thoughtful.” When we hear the word by itself or attached to meditation it can seem esoteric and unattainable, but if you consider the definition of mindfulness, it is simple. I have a favorite from Dr. Amy Salztman, who says, “Mindfulness is paying attention to your life, here and now, with kindness and curiosity.” It’s not about being calm or careful or getting your mind to stop thinking or experiencing emotion. It’s not about being perfect and well-behaved in every situation. Mindfulness is presence; it’s cultivating an ability to notice our experience without judgment and by doing so we give ourselves the room to choose our responses. It is something EVERY one of us has experienced unintentionally and it’s something EVERY one of us can practice with intention at any given moment. Even kids. If you don’t believe me ask yourself this: Have you ever had an interaction with your child or loved one where it was all about your experience together? No phone, no distraction just the two of you? Have you ever watched the clouds roll by, looked at the moon, savored a mouthful of something delicious, played a sport and been “in the zone”, taken a deep belly breath when you are feeling a moment of stress to gather your thoughts? If you said “Yes” to any of these, you have already practiced mindfulness. Mindfulness meditation expert Sharon Salzberg says, “Mindfulness isn’t difficult, we just need to remember to do it.” Each moment in our lives presents us with the opportunity to practice mindfulness. Here are a few ways we can “remember to do it.” All of these can be done with kids as well, to help them learn to practice non-judgmental awareness and build their self-care skills in everyday situations. Breathe Reminding yourself to take a deep inhalation and slow exhalation through your nose can not only calm your nervous system, but also give you a moment to stop and notice how you feel and choose how to proceed with kindness and compassion, whether that is toward yourself or others. Try this exercise with your kids, too: place your hands on your belly and inhale to feel it fill with air. Then as you exhale, follow your breath all the way to the end. This lengthening of your exhale not only creates a relaxation response in your body but also puts your mind in one place, allowing you to quiet the chatter or hit pause on your mental to-do list. Use your Senses We have so many opportunities to taste, smell, hear, touch, and see. Often, we drink and eat so quickly that we don’t even know what we’ve tasted. We rush through our meals and treat them as just another chore. Try really paying attention to your food.Read More