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May 3, 2021 Social/ Emotional0

 

Hey parents, how many times have you gone through this? Your children are playing a game together and they get into a disagreement. The situation starts at a level 2 and expands into a level 10. Arguing and crying ensue, and they all walk away hurt, disgruntled, or angry. If you’re familiar with this, you’ve probably been concerned about how you can train your children to experience their emotions and handle them in a healthy way. So how do we use proactive parenting here? We want to give you three tips to teach your child emotional awareness and regulation. 

Time to role model! 

It’s no secret, but maybe a good reminder, that your child exhibits what they see modeled. This includes what they watch on TV and social media, how they see their friends behave, as well as any adult in their life–especially you. They mimic your every move, even the things you think they don’t see (your facial expressions, tone, emotional temperature). Children sense their parents’ emotions and respond with similar emotions. When they see an appropriate response, it will help them with their own. 

When playing with your child, demonstrate healthy techniques for emotional wellness, such as verbalizing what you’re feeling in a given situation (e.g. “Oh no! I was working on ___ and it got ruined! I feel disappointed!”), taking deep breaths, or even verbalizing that you need a break–and then returning to solve it later. These exercises are great to intentionally practice in front of your child at play, and they’re just as important to practice when the rubber hits the road with real stress. Nothing is more powerful to your child’s learning than watching you handle a real life stressor with emotional maturity. 

Be proactive. 

Preparing for the future can give children the confidence they need to tackle new situations. When your child feels equipped for conflicts, they are much more likely to exhibit strength and poise when a problem arises. Play a game with your child where you discuss how to respond to different hypothetical scenarios. What is an appropriate emotion to feel, how strongly, and what action would they take? You can write down these scenarios on pieces of paper and draw them out of a bowl, or even create a workbook of them. These scenarios may be things like, “Your friend borrowed your bike and returned it scratched” or “Your brother says you can’t play with him.” 

This is a great time to bring up “size of the problem” with your child: how big is a problem, and how big should my reaction be? Identifying the size of the problem when it arises will help your child assess what an appropriate course of action would be. 

Practice calming exercises. 

You can and should practice these calming exercises for yourself as well as with your children. Seeing that this is something we must all do no matter our age normalizes them, rather than making them seem like something we’re lording over them or using as a “consequence.” Demonstrate breathwork with your child. Following a guided breathwork regularly can even be an activity you do together to bond and set as an example of wellness. Play relaxing music in a quiet space when your child feels tense. Allowing this time to calm and settle high emotions before dealing with them can prevent explosive emotions and miscommunication when we feel emotionally overwhelmed. 

Are you curious about what “emotional temperature” is? Download this parent activity

 


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April 26, 2021 Social/ Emotional0

 

Last week we explored how parents can help children develop healthy social communication skills with their peers. Our Parent Representative, Pam Garrity, gives parents three tips on how to tackle bad habits in social interactions, and teach children healthy and assertive strategies for getting along with others.

So what are “social skills”? What does a healthily socialized child look like? Let’s look at some skills children need to learn to thrive with others:

  • Accepting differences
  • Asking for help
  • Conversation skills
  • Complimenting others
  • Disagreeing graciously
  • Encouraging others
  • Following directions
  • Active listening
  • Participating equally
  • Conflict resolution
  • Sharing
  • Staying on task
  • Taking turns
  • Taking risks
  • Adjusting voice volume
  • Personal space (of others and themselves)
  • Patience
  • Handling disappointment

 

Your child will face any number of challenges in their childhood that present opportunities for them to develop these skills. As parents, we often have a natural tendency to jump in to solve problems as they arise–especially when our child comes to us for help! But are we disempowering them when we do that? 

Our Parent Representative, Pam Garrity, provides three tips for parents to empower their children with the tools they need to deal with the social dilemmas they inevitably will face. How many times has your child felt frustration when playing with their friends, then had a meltdown because they didn’t know how to deal with the situation? What is the best way to respond as a parent? When is the best time to step in? And how much? Try these strategies the next time this issue arises.

  1. Fight the natural tendency to swoop in and solve the problem for your child. “Fixing” the problem may not ultimately be in a child’s best interest, as it teaches them to disengage from a problem rather than thinking creatively to solve it. 

It may be counterintuitive, but we want children to experience challenges that require them to make natural mistakes while they problem-solve. This is going to be hard! It’s going to get messy (quite literally!). Encourage your child to hash out issues with their peers on their own, try new techniques, and make mistakes. 

2.  Break the bad patterns. For example, according to a parent our Parent Rep spoke with, their child had their space invaded by another child in a sandbox at a park. The parent took initiative during the situation, yet spoke for their child and scolded the other. When these incidents arise, pause. Allow the space for your child to attempt a solution. Be open to feedback. If your child comes to you seeking a solution, encourage communication, but allow the children to come to a solution. 

Make sure to get everyone on the same page! Discuss the autonomy you would like your child to develop with other adults that may take care of them–parents, grandparents, nannies, etc. Even communicating with other parents on the playground is important. Suggest working together, such as, “Help us practice some role-modeling,” when opportunities arise. 

3.  Role-model! This can be done any time, with almost any adults, while your child is watching. The truth is, adults are role-modeling to children every second of the day. Whether or not you want your children to emulate what you do, that is up to you. Children will imitate the behavior and attitudes of the adults they are surrounded by, for better or worse. We must apply conscious effort to model the skills we want to see exhibited in our own children. 

Download this interactive Communication Skills Builder Checklist to assess your child’s individual strengths!

Do you have more questions about your child’s social needs, and what you can do as a parent to help? Fill out this form to reach our Parent Representative.


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March 16, 2021 Social/ Emotional0

Mindfulness is a word we hear often, and we may associate it with relieving stress or finding rest in our busy lives, or practicing presence with a demanding schedule. How many of us picture it as a practice for children? Yoga instructor, Ellie Polsky, knows the importance of mindfulness practices for people of all ages. In Bloom Yoga 4 Kids, Ellie teaches children and teens mindfulness and emotional intelligence practices to implement into their everyday lives. Beginning these practices at a young age is key to maintaining a healthy, balanced mind throughout our lives. 

 

A mindfulness practice is more important than ever when so many of us continue to spend most of our time at home. Fewer opportunities for social interaction, events, and experiences brew feelings of anxiety,, loneliness, and can cause a shorter fuse. Children have more tantrums and meltdowns during times of prolonged stress. 

 

Through mindfulness practices–yoga, breathing exercises, creative expression–we release emotions that build up inside of us. For so many children and teens, finding a healthy way to release stress is just not something that comes naturally. It often manifests as overreactions, withdrawing, talking back, emotional outbursts, and many other ways that only leave everyone feeling defeated. 

 

Ellie focuses on using the body’s calisthenics and breathing to bring awareness to our body. In stress, we are often consumed with our emotional experience and lose our awareness of our body. This can lead to emotional takeover, or what we may explain as, “I just wasn’t thinking clearly.” Practicing aligning our mind to our body (even when we’re not in an especially emotional state) brings us back to a state of emotional clarity and balance. Polsky explains, “As we stretch and breathe with the stretch, we focus on the breath, we get out of our heads and into our bodies. In this way, our bodies, minds, and spirits become in alignment.”

 

A couple yoga poses children can try at almost any time is Child’s Pose and Rock Pose.

 

Child’s Pose

From a kneeling position, plant your hands to the Earth making a tabletop with your back and your hands and knees as the legs of the table. Touch your big toes together making a “V” shape with your legs. Move your hips backwards toward your toes then reach your hands away from your shoulders keeping them on the ground. Now touch your forehead to the ground; and breathe. 

 

Rock Pose 

Bring your arms back like you’re a rock on the ground. Sit on your heels, pressing on the buttocks nerves. Keep the spine straight, and take some nice breaths feeling yourself melt into the ground.

 

Ellie recommends a breathing exercise a child can do any time they feel stressed. 

“Maybe you’re taking a test and you need to relax and breathe it out in your chair. Bringing your feet to the ground, sitting up tall, put one hand to your heart and one hand to your belly. As you take a breath in, count to five at whatever pace you’d like, making sure your chest is above your belly. Count again as you breathe out. Doing those a few times shifts your awareness out of your head and into your body. It opens up the heaviness that you may feel in your chest, and flows the movement from your chest to your belly.”

 

Mindfulness practices go far beyond yoga. Polsky teaches children tools in the practice of yoga that can be utilized in every day life. Here are some practices that parents can teach children in every day tasks:

 

Meal time: What are five tastes or textures you can identify while eating? Sweet, spicy, salty, squishy? What does it smell like? What does it feel like on the tongue?

Taking a walk: Take breaks throughout the day by taking a walk. Look for objects with certain attributes while walking to increase awareness of your surroundings (e.g. five things that are green). Try stopping and smelling plants, and expressing gratitude for the things around you. 

Mindfulness involves more than one practice. Bloom Yoga 4 Kids incorporates journaling, art, and dance as a conduit for emotional balance. These practices may be thought of as special interests, however they have little to do with talent when it comes to mindfulness. Using these art forms as daily practices for the simple purpose of emotional release–rather than a skill they must improve–contributes to a child’s emotional health. Help them find a practice that inspires them, so that each day it will be something they return to with enthusiasm. 


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Are you familiar with this Life Lesson: Put on your own oxygen before helping others?

Even though that makes sense, as parents, we have a tendency to prioritize our children’s needs above our own. We must be mindful about attending to our individual needs. 

Here are some questions to ask (yes/no): 

Do you allow for your emotions as they arise? 

Do you model self-regulation for your children? 

Do you give yourself as much compassion as you give your children?

Social-emotional health is an interplay between our relationship with ourselves and subsequently to those around us. When gauging your personal social-emotional health, rate these questions (on a scale of 1-5): 

How is your relationship with yourself? 

How do you talk to yourself? 

Do you regularly dedicate time for yourself? 

The reason that your responses to these questions are so important is because our internal relationship with ourselves directly influences how we relate to everyone around us, from our most intimate to most formal relations. In short, how you connect with yourself is how you connect with others. It’s easy to remind ourselves of what we “should” do, but how do we do it? This is easy to talk about when we’re in a resting state, much harder to do in an aroused state. The first place to start is in a clear space of non-judgment. 

Emotions, neither good nor bad, are merely functions of the brain, related in one way or another to our survival and well-being. (Watch this video for a neural explanation of big emotions.)

Forming a habit of observing the emotions we have on a daily basis can help us take proactive steps in attending to our needs in a healthy way. Marriage and Family Therapist, Kristin Green, depicts emotions as waves: we don’t always expect them, they can knock us flat on our face, and perhaps most importantly, they are impermanent. Emotions, like other sensations we experience, ebb and flow. So what do we do when another potentially dangerous one builds?

Let’s think about this question right now, “What are your feelings telling you about your needs?” When I feel ____, what I need is ____. (For an in-depth look at communicating needs, see Marshall Rosenberg’s book on Nonviolent Communication.) This “stop and check” practice puts overwhelming emotions on pause, to look deeper into what they are trying to say. Checking in on yourself throughout the day, even when no emotions are readily present, keeps us in tune with ourselves and our intentions, and out of the “trance” of daily checklists and pressures. 

Green recommends a simple practice anyone can practice at any time or place. When you realize you’re in a state of overwhelm, have been disconnected from your body, or feel you’re “going through the motions”, connecting with your breath is a practical tool to use. For a guided practice on connecting with your breath, watch for Kristin’s full interview later this week. Click here for more reading on breathwork. 

Green reminds all of us, “When we are addressing our unmet needs. Our relationships shift because we are taking care of ourselves first.” For parents, this is doubly important because of how our children will observe our practices and internalize our responses to them and the world. “When we model what taking care of yourself looks like, they have an opportunity to do the same.” 

Click here to watch Kristin’s full video.

 

 


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Is back talking and arguing behavior WEARING YOU DOWN? The Triton Team is here to offer help.

While it’s easy to label a behavior as “bad”, an undesirable behavior can be an adaptive response to a situation too challenging for a child to manage. All individuals, no matter their age, display any number of adaptive behaviors to cope with their environmental situations. A child’s strategy for adaptation can stress parents, but identifying the cause is the first step to helping a child through challenges.  

Think about your child’s most recurring problematic behaviors. Do these sound familiar? Which ones do you notice most? 

-tantrums                                               -aggression

-emotional meltdowns                           -food aversions

-refusal or defiance                               -impulsive actions

-difficulty with transitions                       -bedtime avoidance

-whining                                                 -disrespect

It’s natural for parents to take disciplinary action right away when an undesirable behavior has occurred. However, what’s most important is a parent’s state of mind at the time of response. The best time to approach a child’s behavior is when both parties are ready to listen, learn, and understand. If that’s too difficult initially, communicate with your child that you will return to the issue when you are in a calm state of mind. 

New behaviors can be taught with consistency. BCBA, Ericka Smith, gives parents three key components for beginning behavior modification:

  • Expect your child to question rules 

There is so much information that children don’t understand while they are trying to navigate their world. Often they may not be questioning you, but trying to understand unfamiliar information. Children are also searching for certainty. They are looking to you to give them consistent answers that align with your behavior and the rules set forth. Children will test their support system to know how it works, and how stable it is. 

  • Start with small successes

Anyone, no matter their age, is motivated to keep trying when they feel successful. By allowing children to feel successful, they will be more likely to attempt challenging tasks. To motivate a new behavior, begin by giving your child a task they’ve already mastered or is fun for them. This will start the momentum and give them the confidence to attempt a task that is more challenging. 

  • Expect mistakes

Failure and big emotions are part of the growth process. When an adult can allow a child to struggle and continue to be on the child’s side as a motivator, the child can learn to recover more quickly. This builds trust between the adult and the child. 

If you need expert guidance to get the results you want for your child, visit this link to register for Ericka’s FREE interactive workshop!

 


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As parents, we want our children to be able to regulate their emotions and respond to stress in a healthy way. Taking a proactive approach to behavior can make your life a whole lot easier, and that begins with you. Let’s talk about why it’s important to model the behavior you desire.

Parenting is our most important job, although it may also receive the least amount of time to strategize and think proactively. Our initial response to stress–whether it’s with our children or otherwise–is not always the best response. Before focusing on how our children behave, we need to first ask ourselves if we can modify our own behavior during stress. Our relationship with our children is one of the most important we will have, and it is crucial that we respond to them with emotional stability. 

Board Certified Behavior Analyst, Ericka Smith, has designed a course for parents to help them take a proactive approach to dealing with stress in the moment. This course sets parents up for success by planning for their responses to triggering scenarios at home before they happen. “We have to deal with our kids on our emotional level and not get swept up into theirs,” Smith says. In other words, parents should be a thermostat, not a thermometer. This nine-week coaching course is a no judgment zone that offers solutions to problems that every parent faces. 

Smith emphasizes the role modeling plays in how our children learn. Getting control of our own emotional responses is one of the most important lessons we will teach a child, as they inadvertently will display the behavior they see modeled. This will help you refrain from delivering momentous consequences or losing control completely. Smith advises modeling emotional regulation out loud: stating how you are feeling or what you should have done shows a child self-reflection and emotional awareness. This is especially necessary if we have reacted in an unhealthy way. Merely stating, “I was frustrated. What I should have done was…” shows your child how we can reflect on our own emotional state and choose our behaviors, rather than being controlled by them. 

We all want our children to be emotionally aware, thoughtful individuals, both now and in the future. But we can’t expect our children to discipline their reactions until we can discipline ours. Our children deserve our best, and we do too. 

Watch Ericka’s full video interview here!

 


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Social distancing this year has not been without its repercussions. As parents, it’s actually one of our biggest challenges. The social-emotional struggles have taken a toll on people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds. Family dynamics are strained as people cope with a myriad of traumatic experiences this year. 

For children and teens specifically, a lack of regular structure and social engagement has lead to decreased innovative ideas, or even finding motivation to engage in school work. Anxiety, depression, are increasing due to an increased time on screens. Many children and teens may be grieving lost opportunities, such as: graduations, school activities, or play dates. If spirits have been low, or you have experienced more conflict with your child during this time, neuropsychologist, Rada West, PhD, provides tactics that you can use at home to implement, to improve morale and relationships.

The first way to support your children at home is to address feelings of isolation. 

  1. Devote undivided attention to your child every day.
  2. Be present and attuned. 
  3. Create structure that work for both parents and children 
  4. Model the behavior you expect from your children.

Fostering a safe space at home, between you and your child, can alleviate feelings of loneliness and anxiety, which encourages greater engagement among family members. Creating a space between you and your children that is open, supportive, and actively engaged is crucial when other social interaction is limited. Spending quality time together, actively listening, and keeping a structured day, contribute to a family truly being a unit. Remember that it begins with you: whatever you would like to see in your children you must model for them first.

Even in a supportive family environment, resistance may still occur when it comes to setting boundaries with social media and personal devices. Dr. West encourages parents to work together, with their children, to find fair solutions for acceptable media or device use. She says, “It’s important to work together as a unit and come to an agreement as to what is reasonable. They have their needs to socially engage over social media. But check in with them with a perspective of curiosity rather than attacking them. Come with a curious mind and engage with them; having open engagement with them about social media etiquette is crucial.”

Discussing internet safety regularly is important, as well as respectfully checking in on their devices. Parents can also use screen management apps for their child’s device to set safe boundaries. 

While social distancing is a challenge, your parental support can be the respite your child needs to face it.  

To watch Rada’s full interview, click here.

 


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Meltdowns, tears, task refusal, yelling…

What do these words evoke? 

Are they all too familiar with your child? 

How often are these emotional reactions happening in your interactions with your child, or among their siblings and peers?  

You may be asking yourself what is typical and what’s not. While a broken pencil lead may be fixed without a second thought with some children, for others it may lead to tears or refusing to complete homework. A misplaced belonging may cause a state of panic, or being asked to share a toy may cause a fit of anger. These stress triggers are inevitable, but their overreactions can magnify stress in parents and caregivers. 

There is good news! Self-regulation is a crucial skill that can be taught and honed in each individual child. As parents, recognizing the difference between a misbehavior and a stress behavior is key. Stressors require expending energy to maintain our internal systems. 

These stressors can come from several domains: 

  • Biological
  • Emotional
  • Cognitive
  • Social
  • Prosocial

The more triggers that fire, the more fatigued the mind becomes, making an overreaction more likely. 

While we may try to teach a child to regulate his behavior, true self-regulation happens in the brain. When we experience stress, the connection between the lower part of the brain responsible for self-preservation, and the upper part of the brain responsible for executive functioning, diminishes. An overreaction occurs. Learn more about this process here.

Self-regulation begins with emotional self-awareness. This is a skill which children can be taught so they may recognize and respond to all types of stress appropriately. Your child can be given the tools to deal with life’s stressors and triggers. We are here to get you over those speed bumps. Join us for a parent coaching session to discover new possibilities. In addition, you can get tips on how to handle overreaction by our Speech and Language Director in this video

If your student is experiencing signs of regression, there’s help. Our team of professionals, along with our dedicated Parent Representative, are geared up to face regression head on! Give us a call or click this form and a Parent Representative will offer support today.

 

 


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September 10, 2020 Social/ Emotional0

As we start a new and unique school year, you may find yourself wondering if your child is equipped to interact virtually with their peers and adults. Does the following scenario sound familiar to you? Your child is logged-on to their virtual classroom and you notice they are interrupting their peers, responding off-topic, or don’t appear to know how to ask questions or request help. Perhaps a neighbor asks your child how they are feeling about the new school year and your child responds by stating, “I like minecraft.” without making eye-contact with the neighbor. These are breakdowns in effectively communicating within social situations. These breakdowns may indicate that your child needs explicit instruction and practice to support their social communication.

Social communication, often referred to as “pragmatics,” refers to skills in the following areas: 

  • The ability to use language for a variety of purposes. We use language to greet, ask questions, inform, request, protest, and more. Your child may know how to have their needs met, but struggles to use language to share their feelings and thoughts.
  • The ability to change language in accordance with the situation. As effective social communicators, we are also charged with adapting to the social situation. This means we communicate differently with our teachers than with our peers. This also means that we provide adequate background information to someone who may not know what we are talking about (often a difficult skill for kiddos).
  • The ability to follow rules for conversations and story-telling. There are rules to conversations that many of us pick up on naturally; however, sometimes our children need us to explicitly teach these rules. The rules include taking turns while conversing with others, staying on-topic, using appropriate gestures and facial expressions, and even standing an appropriate distance from our listener.

How is your child developing and demonstrating these social skills? If you have concerns about the quality of your child’s social interactions, consider an evaluation by a Speech-Language Pathologist! SLP’s are your go-to experts in providing the analysis and instruction that your child needs. Connect with our Parent Representative at Triton Support Services and access the support that you’re looking for!


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Our mission is to provide a multisensory educational care platform for students, while providing support and coaching for their families. We use a team approach to provide efficient and effective services, helping special needs children to thrive.

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The Silence Game:
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