June Educare Blog Cover
Chances are if you have scrolled through your news feed or turned on the television you have either seen bullying, or the effects of bullying.  According to www.keepschoolssafe.org one out of every four elementary aged children is bullied, with 85% of those occurrences receiving no intervention from adults. As early childhood teachers we have the opportunity to teach empathy and positive decision making with children birth through age five so they are better equipped to deal with difficult situations as they enter school.

Bullying, in its most simple form, is when someone uses their strength or position to intimidate or force someone else to do what they want. We talk about it happening child to child, but we rarely have the more difficult discussion about the adult to adult, or adult to child bullying that occurs and models the way people should not treat others.  This month we will focus on techniques to model positive interactions, relationship building, and calming techniques.

Funding for STL Educare is provided by the Missouri Department of Social Services, Children’s Division, Early Childhood and Prevention Services Section

Activities to Build Empathy and Positive Decision Making:

  1. Bonding with your baby: Parenting magazine discusses 12 ways you can bond with the baby starting with reading to and talking to the pre-natal infant, who can hear the world around them, to providing space to allow mother’s to breastfeed, spending time making eye contact, and spending individual time with each baby.

Equipment Needed: https://www.parenting.com/article/12-ways-to-bond-with-your-baby All of the activities can be done with a baby and an adult.  For the breastfeeding area, the mother and child should have a comfortable chair or place to sit with some privacy for feeding and bonding.

  1. Modeling Positive Behavior in the Classroom: The National Education Association shares the techniques of a Master teacher who has taught 6th grade for more than 14 years. While these techniques are being used in a middle school classroom, they are applicable for children of any age.  Khol models positive behavior by talking to students about choices, “thinking out loud” to allow them to see her decision making process, and sharing positive story telling about things she likes to do outside of school and how she applies these same skills in real life situations.

Equipment Needed: http://www.nea.org/tools/52062.htm No special equipment needed.

  1. I speak Up: Inspire Conversation highlights The Cartoon Network’s Stop Bullying: Speak Up Campaign “I Speak Up” that helps kids to recognize signs of bullying and encourages them to speak up when they see it happening.

Equipment Needed: http://inspireconversation.com/will-speak-bullying/ None.

  1. Becky Bailey’s Breathing Techniques: Conscious Discipline teaches children six different breathing techniques they can use when they are scared, or overwhelmed to self-calm. In Becky Bailey’s “I can Calm” book she has pictures to help children remember breathing techniques like STAR “Stop.  Take a deep Breath. And. Relax,” The Pretzel, and Bunny Breathing. Children can use pictures to go through all six techniques or go to their favorite.  Teachers are encouraged to incorporate at least one breathing exercise into their daily routine so children are familiar with them when they need them to self-calm.

Equipment Needed: “I Can Calm” by Becky Bailey, Picture Cards, YouTube videos of the techniques. https://consciousdiscipline.com/free-resources/

  1. Creating a Cozy Area/Safe Place: Just like adults children sometimes need to get away from the bustle of the day and sometimes feel overwhelmed by what is going on in the classroom or in their life. Having a cozy space that only 1 or 2 children can go at a time gives children the opportunity to self-regulate, to think, and work things out.  The place should be out of the hustle and bustle of the classroom, large enough for the child and a friend or adult to talk, and comfortable.  You can add items such as the breathing techniques and other items to help children work through what they are feeling or to destress.

Equipment Needed: Soft pillows, bean bag or something soft to sit on, mat or rug, books, textured items (stress or sensory ball, rain stick, different textured materials, etc.), I Can Calm Book, Becky Bailey Brain Cubes

  1. Progressive Relaxation or “Tense and Relax”: Progressive relaxation helps children focus on how they are feeling from the tips of their toes to the top of their heads and gives them something to focus on as they breathe and work on relaxing the muscles for each area of their body. Therapy with Carolyn has a free and easy progressive relaxation script you can use with young children that she calls “Tense and Relax.” For more information on destressing techniques you can do look for the link to her website in our resource links below.

Equipment Needed: Script for Progressive Muscle Relaxation for Kids

  • Tense your feet by curling your toes…like you’re digging your toes into the sand at the beach. 1…2…3…4…Relax and take a deep breath in and out.
  • Tense your legs by pulling your toes up…like a puppet with its strings being pulled. 1…2…3…4…Relax and take a deep breath in and out.
  • Tense your stomach…and imagine that a puppy was going to step on your stomach. 1…2…3…4…Relax and take a deep breath in and out.
  • Tense your hands by making fists…like you’re trying to squeeze all the juice out of a lemon. 1…2…3…4…Relax and take a deep breath in and out.
  • Tense your arms…like you’re showing off your muscles. 1…2…3…4…Relax and take a deep breath in and out.
  • Tense your shoulders by pulling them up…and imagine that you’re a turtle going into its shell. 1…2…3…4…Relax and take a deep breath in and out.
  • Tense your face by scrunching it up as much as you can. 1…2…3…4…Relax and take a deep breath in and out.
  • 5 senses Mindfulness Exercise: This activity can be done to focus before a test, to bring mindfulness to an experience, or to break out of a moment of depression/anxiety. Take a moment to check in with yourself and how you are reacting to the present moment. Check in with your breath.  Is it fast, slow? Take a deep breath and move on to your other senses.  What do you hear? What can you smell? What do you see? What do you taste? What do you feel (your shoes on your feet, the feel of your feet on the floor, your clothes on your body)? Go back to your breath.  Go through the senses again if you need to and finish with a deep breath.

Equipment Needed: https://www.therapywithcarolyn.com/single-post/2016/06/19/Help-Your-Kids-Calm-Down-Strategy-2-Progressive-Muscle-Relaxation Breath and five senses cards or memory of the technique.

  1. 5 senses Mindfulness Exercise: This activity can be done to focus before a test, to bring mindfulness to an experience, or to break out of a moment of depression/anxiety. Take a moment to check in with yourself and how you are reacting to the present moment. Check in with your breath.  Is it fast, slow? Take a deep breath and move on to your other senses.  What do you hear? What can you smell? What do you see? What do you taste? What do you feel (your shoes on your feet, the feel of your feet on the floor, your clothes on your body)? Go back to your breath.  Go through the senses again if you need to and finish with a deep breath.

Equipment Needed: Breath and five senses cards or memory of the technique. https://www.clayton.edu/Portals/541/docs/Five%20Senses%20Mindfulness%20Exercise.pdf

Related Articles and Resources:

Missouri Early Learning Standards, Social and Emotional Standards Parent Guide https://dese.mo.gov/sites/default/files/eel-el-social-parent.pdf  

Information on becoming a Licensed Child Care Provider in Missouri if you care for more than four unrelated children in your home http://health.mo.gov/safety/childcare/licensed.php

Information for becoming a Registered Provider in Missouri if you care for four or less unrelated children in your home https://dss.mo.gov/cd/child-care/child-care-providers/in-home-child-care-providers.htm

Information for becoming a Licensed Exempt Provider in Missouri https://dss.mo.gov/cd/child-care/child-care-providers/licensed-exempt-child-care-providers.htm

Sign up for STL Educare trainings http://www.stleducare.org/trainings.html