When children experience trauma, it can be difficult to focus and stay engaged in the classroom. Fortunately, many social-emotional learning activities can help children develop the skills they need to stay focused and engaged in the classroom. Here are 10 ways children can use social-emotional learning activities to help them focus in the classroom after experiencing trauma.
1. Positive Self-Talk: Positive self-talk can be a powerful tool for helping children to stay focused and engaged in the classroom. Encourage your child to practice positive self-talk by repeating mantras and affirmations to themselves throughout the day. This will help them to stay positive and motivated, even when facing challenging tasks.
2. Mindfulness: Mindfulness activities can help children to stay in the present moment and pay attention to what is happening in the classroom. Encourage your child to practice mindfulness activities like deep breathing and body scans to help them stay focused and engaged.
3. Visualization: Visualization activities can help children to create positive images in their minds, which can help them stay focused and engaged in the classroom. Encourage your child to practice visualization activities, such as imagining a peaceful place or positive future, to help them stay on task.
4. Social Skills: Social skills can help children stay engaged in the classroom and positively interact with their peers. Encourage your child to practice social skills, such as active listening, problem-solving, and conflict resolution.
5. Emotional Regulation: Emotional regulation activities can help children to manage their emotions and stay focused in the classroom. Encourage your child to practice emotional regulation activities like deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and positive self-talk.
6. Self-Awareness: Self-awareness activities can help children to understand their emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. Encourage your child to practice self-awareness activities such as journaling, reflecting on their experiences, and talking to a trusted adult.
7. Goal Setting: Goal-setting activities can help children to stay focused and motivated in the classroom. Encourage your child to set short-term goals that are achievable and to create a plan for how to reach those goals.
8. Problem-Solving: Problem-solving activities can help children to think flexibly and stay focused in the classroom. Encourage your child to practice problem-solving activities, such as brainstorming, making lists, and breaking down tasks into smaller steps.
9. Self-Care: Self-care activities can help children to stay focused and engaged in the classroom. Encourage your child to practice self-care activities such as getting enough sleep, eating healthy meals, and engaging in physical activity.
10. Connecting With Others: Connecting with others can help children to stay focused and engaged in the classroom. Encourage your child to connect with peers by talking to them, listening to their stories, and engaging in conversations.
Ron Huxley can help your and your child focus and learn after dealing with stress and trauma. Ron Huxley is a licensed therapist specializing in anxiety and trauma. Contact him today!
Everyone has dreams, but not everyone makes their dreams into goals. You may have a few of these too. What are the reasons you tell yourself late at night to put the shutdown on making them a reality? These reasons are beliefs that you have, but that doesn’t mean they are valid reasons.
Not Enough Time
Everyone is busy these days. When someone asks how you are doing, you probably respond with “Busy.” But that might not be the truth. Everyone has the same twenty-four hours in the day. For a week or maybe two, keep a time ladder of how you spent your time. This includes sleeping, preparing and eating meals, social media, getting ready for work, cleaning your house. Take a good look at how your time is spent, and you might realize you have more time than you realize.
I Don’t Have ‘X’ Talent
It doesn’t matter if you want to write a book or paint a picture, you have as much talent as you are willing to work for. You may not have been born with the natural ability to paint, it doesn’t mean you can’t learn and practice.
After ‘X’ I Will Do It
“Once I get through this (insert tough project at work), I will start training for that marathon.” “After I lose twenty pounds, I will take a salsa dancing class.” Why are you waiting? Maybe that marathon training will help you work through the stress of that project at work. Perhaps salsa dancing lessons will allow you realize that no matter your weight, your body is worthy of fun and sexy movement. If you have a goal, go for it now.
I’m Not Good Enough
What ruler are you using to measure your “good enough”? You are always good enough to go after your own dreams and goals. If this is an internal dialogue, then you need to work on liking and loving yourself first. If this belief is coming from external sources, then consider those sources and if they are holding you back.
‘X’ Person Has it Easier
The grass is greener where you water it. Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. There are many sayings that sum up that you really don’t know what someone else is going through. So do not assume that someone has it easier, and therefore can achieve their goals while you cannot. That person may think you have it easier or better.
Self-limiting beliefs can be a slippery slope. They can also keep you from even trying to reach your goals. Take time to examine your reasoning and come up with better beliefs to counter the negative ones.
Let Ron Huxley help you today. Schedule a session or take a free course at FamilyHealer.tv
What makes you afraid? Is it losing someone you love? Or is it having to see your dentist? Maybe you fear thunderstorms or heights or elevators.
Whatever it is, fear is normal. It’s how our body warns us of dangerous situations and that we should be careful.
Yet, sometimes, our fears can become so great that they hold us back from living up to our full potential. They fill us with dread and uncertainty that we soon become constantly stressed and anxious over the smallest things.
Although surprisingly, fear, in its positive form, can actually be good for us. It can inspire innovative ideas and motivate us to reach new heights.
So, we’re here today to help you make fear your friend. Follow the six tips below, and you’ll know how to turn what was once your foe into an ally.
Let’s get started.
Identify the Source
This is probably the hardest step, but it’s absolutely worth it. But first, you need to come to terms with the source of your fear in order to overcome it.
Being aware of the root cause will be difficult in the beginning, but it’ll make you stronger. You’ll no longer live in the shadow of that big, insurmountable fear.
You’ve come face-to-face with your fear. Now, it’s time to embrace it.
But before you do that, you have to actually admit that such-and-such scares you. There are several ways to do this. First, you can either say it aloud, preferably to someone else in a natural setting.
You can also write it down in a journal or diary. The point is to get it out of your head and into real life. That’s when your fear loses its control over you.
It also feels better to get it off your chest and share it with the world. You’ll be surprised to know just how many people are just as afraid as you are.
Fear makes us panic, and panic makes us do stupid things. In fact, studies show that when we panic, our prefrontal cortex shuts down. This is the region of our brain responsible for rational thinking.
So, case in point, learn how to think rationally despite your worries and panic. Make fear your friend, and you’ll be able to go a lot farther in life.
People deal with fear, stress, and anxiety in different ways. Some people like to be challenged and are great under pressure. Others find it better to work at their own pace without any tight deadlines looming overhead.
Whichever way you prefer, the important thing is not to let fear get the better of you. For example, say you’re afraid to speak in public. But then a colleague suddenly got sick and asked you to take over the presentation you’ve been preparing for weeks.
In this scenario, you have to pick whether you’ll let your fear overpower you or whether you’ll rise to the challenge.
The latter won’t be easy, but it’ll definitely be worth it in the long run. Be objective and tell yourself that others have held presentations before and have lived to tell about it. So, what’s the big deal?
Remember, your mind tends to blow things out of proportion. So, find a way to deal with the stress and take stock. It’s the only way you’ll be able to harness your fear and get the job done.
No one ever failed by having a strong support system. Surround yourself with people who encourage you to do better. These are the people who listen to you when you’re venting about your fears and anxiety, and they still choose to love you unconditionally.
A lot of research has been carried out on the benefits of having a support system. It empowers you with good coping skills while boosting your self-esteem and overall well-being.
Moreover, a sound support system can lower stress, anxiety, and depression rates.
Whenever you’re afraid, you’ll tend to focus on negative thoughts and emotions. But then, they fester in your mind and transform into this big, ugly thing that you can no longer control.
Why not try some positivity for a change? Remember, the mind is quite powerful; it just needs a small push in the right direction.
By thinking positively, you can overcome your fears and actually live to tell the tale! All you have to do is believe it, and everything else will fall into place.
As children, many people were taught that focusing on yourself was seen as being selfish and they believed it. It’s understandable that they believed it because ‘self’ is part of the word selfish. The latter word means, “…lacking consideration for others.” The good news is that self-improvement is not selfish. On the contrary, self-improvement is good for you and society
Self-discovery, development, and improvement need to be a rite of passage for all adults simply because it’s so helpful and, simply put, develops valuable people. Plus, the benefits of continuous lifelong self-improvement are all the reasons you need to prioritize self-improvement.
Clarify Your Vision
As you plan your personal development, it helps to envision what you want your future to look like. Some people find it helpful to write their obituary and mention each area of their life, as they want it to be. They need to think of it as if they got everything they ever wanted, and all their dreams came true.
Part of documenting your plan requires explaining the missing elements to arrive at the goal. For example, if your vision includes being happy and in good health; however, you eat burgers every day and you never exercise. You need to be realistic to be effective.
Enhance Your Strengths
An effective self-development plan focuses on strengths over weaknesses. It’s not that you will ignore your weaknesses. You won’t. You can outsource, delegate, automate, and learn anything you want to learn. However, it’s far more efficient to focus on what you’re naturally good at and like to do.
Your personal development plan requires you to perform a SWOT analysis for each area of your life to identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that may exist. Therefore, if you focus on your strengths, you’ll be far more successful because it feels so good.
Find Your Purpose
As you set goals and determine why you desire that goal, the process will lead you to discover your purpose. It may not be your life purpose because that may change as you learn and grow. However, it can supply you with a reason to keep looking for your life purpose. The continued search gives you the energy to keep going. Of course, your reasons may differ at each stage of life and area of your life. The principal factor is that the planning will explain why as you take each step toward the goal.
Improve Your Mental Health
It feels good to understand yourself. For example, knowing why you are afraid of loud sounds can help you deal with the feelings when you hear loud sounds. Being self-aware enough to note problems with your mental health will also make it more likely that you stay healthy because you will be more likely to seek professional help if you need it. If there is one thing personal development does well is to keep you self-aware.
Create Strong Relationships
Learning what your thoughts and feelings mean to you and how your actions affect others goes a long way toward building super-strong relationships. Whether friends or family managing your emotions and moderating your behavior turns you into someone viewed as safe and stable. In addition, being someone trustworthy helps others bond with you more.
Make Every Moment Count
Finally, just knowing for sure what you want and how you’ll get it makes all the difference when you get it. It’s so much easier to schedule your life in a balanced way when you’re honest about what it takes to do the things you’ve scheduled yourself to do.
Claiming these benefits is as easy as starting on your self-improvement journey today by setting your intention by beginning creating your self-development plan. The sooner you begin your journey of self-discovery, the sooner you can start taking massive action on realizing all your dreams.
The last two years have been one of daily uncertainty and fear, but a crisis is also a great revealer of the myths and idols we hold. It “knocks us off our thrones” and breaks our “assumptive worlds.” Our assumptions are the beliefs we hold about who we are and the world we live in…at times, like these, they don’t hold up. In fact, they can shatter into thousands of meaningless thoughts.
In social psychology, shattered assumptions theory proposes that traumatic events can change how victims and survivors view themselves and the world. We all have three inherent assumptions including “overall benevolence, the meaningfulness of the world, and self-worth.” They are the bedrock of our conceptual system, and as such, they are the ones we are least aware of and least likely to challenge. We become confident in our beliefs and use them to plan and act in daily living. If nothing challenges them they allow our lives to move along smoothly.
Sadly, traumatic life events shatter core assumptions, and coping with them requires a new effort to construct more realistic and viable assumptions. We have to rebuild our belief systems to fit the new world we live in.
The world is benevolent
The world is meaningful
The self is worthy
This can be painful for people of faith who end up questioning their faith. When our assumptive worlds shatter, it causes believers to questions the goodness of God. They might “assume” that God is silent or uncaring. The promises they believed must be wrong since things didn’t work out the way they “believed.” Trying to reconcile a good God to their adverse life situations may turn some to question themselves, wondering if they ever heard God speak into their lives or if some sin or trauma from the past has made them unworthy of mercy.
I mean, if God never changes, then the problem must be ourselves, right? Christians believe that when they become followers they are “new creations.” New creations have to have renewed minds to find new beliefs about God’s goodness and nature in their lives. Renewal is exactly what we need when our assumptions become shattered. Neurologists called this neuroplasticity.
Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to restructure itself through training and practice, thereby creating new neuropathways in the human nervous system. Neuroplasticity, renewed minds, and rebuilt belief systems are about personal growth that is sometimes only possible after trauma.
The reason that believers feel peace after giving their lives to follow the Christian faith is that new neuropathways are being created. Transformation or growth is occurring. From a more secular viewpoint, life has a way of creating maturity in our thinking. The trick is how to not become bitter and negative afterwords.
There is a favorite verse of mine that goes: “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. –Philippians 4:6-7 (NRSV)” Prayer and meditation increase brain neuroplasticity and makes renewal possible. Allowing our minds to let go of distractions and slow down helps us focus on what we control and let go of what we cannot. In Alcoholics Anonymous, this is the path to serenity.
After a shattering event, people are able to discover strength they didn’t know that had in them. They also find new purposes and seek out deeper connections than before. Faith also grows in people after difficulty. They start to see deeper meaning and value in their life. This is called Post-Traumatic Growth in contrast to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Would you like assistance recovering from a shattering event or trauma? Need new tools for your organization or group? Contact Ron Huxley today!
Burnout feels just like it sounds. You are exhausted and tired more days than not. You can’t get motivated or interested in doing what you usually enjoy and start to withdraw from your family, friends, and work.
Burnout is something that you likely have experienced or will at some point. It is common to feel burnt out. It is “a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.”
Take this simple quiz * to see if you are suffering burnout:
I feel run down and drained of physical or emotional energy.
I have negative thoughts about my job.
I am harder and less sympathetic with people than perhaps they deserve.
I am easily irritated by minor problems or my co-workers and team.
I feel misunderstood or unappreciated by my co-workers.
I feel that I have no one to talk to.
I feel that I am achieving less than I should.
I feel under an unpleasant level of pressure to succeed.
I am not getting what I want out of my job.
I feel that I am in the wrong organization or the wrong profession.
I am frustrated with parts of my career.
I feel that organizational politics or bureaucracy hinder my ability to do a good job.
I feel that there is more work to do than I practically can do.
I do not have time to do many of the essential things to do a good quality job.
I do not have time to plan as much as I would like to.
Count the number of times you said “yes” to these questions. The more times, the greater the chance you are experiencing burnout. Now, let’s look more closely at the signs and symptoms.
Physical signs to look out for are “Feeling tired and drained all the time, frequent illnesses, headaches, or muscle pain, and change in appetite, sleep, or habits.”
Maybe you are usually a person who rarely gets sick, but recently, you constantly feel run down or ill. When burnt out, your body has low energy, and you don’t feel 100%. Perhaps you complain that you are tired all the time!
This can make it hard for your body to fight off illnesses and keep you healthy. Changes in everyday healthy habits or appetite can be a good indicator of burnout. Keep an eye out for a change that might indicate an underlying problem.
Some of the emotional symptoms are “Sense of failure, feeling helpless, detachment, loss of motivations, increasingly cynical, and decreased sense of accomplishment.” Even though you are feeling your emotions constantly, it can be hard to recognize when changes occur.
You might not notice as you slip into a more negative state of mind or as you start to detach from the world. The best way to catch these changes is to involve the people around you. Make sure that you are talking with your close friends and family.
They will likely notice emotional changes in you before you catch them in yourself. If you start to feel or notice the difference, check in with them and see if they have noticed it as well. They will likely feel relieved that you noticed and want to discuss it with you.
Behavioral Signs Are Also Indicative Of Burnout
A few of those are “Withdrawing from responsibilities, isolating yourself, procrastinating, using food, drugs, or alcohol to cope, taking out your frustrations on others, or skipping work.”
Behavioral symptoms should be the easiest to notice. You start doing things that aren’t like you. Maybe you take extra-long lunch breaks or begin to leave work early when you were always on time before.
You could start a new habit of drinking multiple beers or glasses of wine every night. Maybe you stop hanging out with your friends, or you never start on your projects until they need to be finished. While your friends and family might be a little hesitant to tell you about emotional changes they see in you, they are more likely to talk about the behavioral ones.
This might be them constantly asking when you will come over or picking on you for avoiding them. They may not notice an underlying problem, but they will most likely see the change in your everyday behavior.
Overall, many of these symptoms could mean other things or point to other illnesses and problems. Make sure to always stay in tune with your body to help determine what the signs are pointing towards.
Be sure to listen to the people around you when they notice things. They aren’t dealing with burnout, but they will see the changes in you as you deal with it. It can be hard to detect these changes in yourself, but the sooner you do, the sooner you can do something about being burnt out and getting back to your usual self.
What to do about burnout?
If you resonate with the signs and symptoms in this blog article, get a medical check-up, start implementing a self-care routine, and find a good therapist. You can schedule a time now with Ron Huxley, LMFT, by clicking here. Get more helpful tools and courses to find healing at FamilyHealer.tv
Join me, September 23rd, from 12:15 pm to 1 pm (Pacific Standard Time) for the latest FamilyHealer.TV “Conversations”: This weeks topic is how to “Break the Cycle of Fear and Worry in Children”.
This is an education and supportive Zoom event. Parents and professionals will not want to miss this one! In this conversation, we will look at why children have anxiety, how to increase your child’s Emotional IQ, what parents can say to comfort their children, and how to help children become Worry Warriors and Fear Fighters!
This Conversations Show is part of our training course “Big Worries” at FamilyHealer.tv.
*The training portion will be recorded. Q and A is private.
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Join me Thursday, September 16 at 12:15 pm (PST) for this live zoom event! We will be discussing practical parenting tools for adoptive parents. This is a 45 minute, interactive, seminar for adoptive parents and the professionals who work with them…and best of all it is FREE!
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Social media has become an integral part of our everyday lives. Parents use it, just like their children. However, on average, teenagers are the ones who spend the most time on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and similar platforms. These platforms confuse and frighten parents!
According to the report, Common Sense Media, teens spend about 9 hours on entertainment media, including social media, games, and TV, every day.
This means that teenagers spent more time with media and technology than with parents, school work, or physical activities.
Parents probably ask themselves: “Will my child become addicted to video games? Will this ruin their ability to think for themselves? What happens if my child is cyberbullied or becomes one? Could an online predator harm my child? Will continual screen use diminish their ability to know how to socialize normally?”
As a Child and Family Therapist, I believe parents are right to ask these questions. The issue is how to get to the answers!
Our current world makes getting answers challenging. Before the pandemic, many parents banned social media, screen use, and cell phone ownership from children, including their teenagers. After the pandemic, many children were isolated from peers without any possible way to connect. Parents had no choice but to let their children go online to stem the growing anxiety and depression their children were experiencing from the isolation. During the pandemic, children were doing school online, but many parents discovered they were “multitasking” and playing games online or talking to friends via social media while participating in school. Being online, for school or social connection, is now a regular part of our lives. It isn’t going away anytime soon.
Why are we concerned? Studies show that social media and online video games reduce our effectiveness in understanding human emotion and create a barrier to communicating deeply. There is no substitute for face-to-face interaction. The more teens spend online, the more shallow their communication and empathy skills could be. The teen years is a crucial time for skills that will sustain them in adulthood and the right mix requires real face-to-face interaction along with screen time.
Our brains use “mirror neurons” to understand others’ perspectives and emotions through an inner imitation of other people’s actions. These special neurons reproduce emotions and actions in ourselves. This can be outside of our awareness and contributes to “gut reactions” and inform us on knowing right from wrong. It is the key to developing empathy and compassion as our neurons mirror the pain witnessed in other people. When they feel it we feel it too.
Perhaps this is why cyberbullying has become such a problem with preteens and teenagers? Maybe they cannot feel the pain and suffering of the peers they are tormenting. Without that feedback loop, they lose the natural conscience we need in social situations. Mirror neurons are also a prime component of learning, and this might account for the massive drop in school grades and homework performance. There is more to learning than facts and information. The joy of learning and the social connections that physical schools provide are a necessary part of a teens social emotional growth.
Of course, not all teens are engaged in cyberbullying or looking at inappropriate content. Many really just want to have fun and connect with peers. Teens can learn valuable things online. Additionally, many teens have found groups that support and encourage them through unique challenges in life situations, like mental health or artistic/cultural pursuits. This can’t always be found in our local community. Balance is needed and parents may need to help teens find the good and minimize the bad.
Here are some tips to help you learn more about your teen’s social media interactions and help them if necessary:
Give yourself permission, as the parent, to ask your child about concerns they have or problems they have experienced. Maybe your teen never tells you anything because you never ask, or perhaps you ask in an anxious and condemning way. Don’t assume wrongdoing but don’t be in denial either.
If your teen gives you some pushback, don’t get offended when asked about social media use. These are normal human defenses. Just reassure them that you don’t believe they are doing something wrong but that you are curious and want to know more about social media and how it all works. Be curious and open-minded.
Get on social media yourself and learn how it works. Don’t depend on your teen to tell you everything or tell the right things. You can discover it yourself. I recommend parents friend or link to your child on various social media platforms – even though if they might think it weird. If they know you are online too and can see their content, they might think twice before posting something inappropriate. Sometimes being POTS (parent over the shoulder) has its benefits.
Parenting teens on social media might feel like the old adage: “If you can’t beat them, join them,” and that is exactly what this is…You can’t beat them, so you better join them in the online world!
If you have concerns about what your child is doing or they actively resist you finding out what they are posting or doing or who their friends are, that could be a red flag to pay attention to. Don’t go all “hair on fire” on them. Just note your concern and firmly investigate further. Don’t let a their resistance deter you. Ask questions of them, their friends, their friend’s parents, and look at their media on their devices when they sit them down. Yeah, they will get annoyed. They will live.
I tell parents, who have real concerns about their children’s social media use, insist on having all passwords, account names and even stalk them online! Sounds harsh? It is better to have an irritated teen than an exploited one or one in deep trouble with the school or law. Even the most innocent child can get caught up in things way beyond their developmental capacity to deal with…I have seen it happen many times over. Many teens have hidden accounts, back up phone in case you take theirs, borrow their friends phone, etc.
You are allowed to remove all devices if needed. They may have been gifts to your child, but that gift was intended to be used correctly and safely. As a side note, many teens who lose their devices start finding more outside entertainment or real world social interactions to engage in…they frequently come out of their rooms and talk to parents. Wow, so strange, but true.
Because of this fact, take a “social media fast” for the whole family from time to time. Ban all social media and screen use for a day or a weekend. Provide lots of fun alternatives and food. Food is always helpful! Once you get past the grumbling, the home atmosphere might become more positive.
Don’t focus so much on controlling the child as managing the media. Shaming and condemning don’t get positive results, and children can seek revenge. Be respectful but firm, loving but insistent. Tell them you are removing the devices because THEY are causing too many problems or distractions. You just want to help the ENTIRE family find a better focus and social interaction, not just the teenager, right?
Make discussions about the world and its problem a regular thing. Teenagers want and need support, and they don’t have adult wisdom and experience to manage life’s difficulties. You have to open the space to have these conversations. It may be awkward at first, but making them a normal car-ride conversation or over an after-school snack can open your child up to share their fears, anxiety, and needs.
Parents of teens cannot effectively use control to manage them. You have to use influence if you want to have a lasting effect. Your goal for this developmental stage is to train them for adulthood. It’s only a few years away. If you tell them what to do all the time versus helping them with the best solution and sometimes experience the negative consequences of life, they won’t be ready.
Parenting a teen is like when your child learned to walk. You couldn’t catch them every time but had to let them stumble and fall on occasions. You protected them against any serious threats (sharp objects, going into the street), but you cautiously walked alongside, encouraging and cheering on their successful steps until walking was natural. You can do this for social media and screen use too. Walk alongside them. Protect but don’t smother them. Steer them in the right direction and remove them from obvious dangerous situations. Bring a balance of off-screen activities to the family. And in the end, they will protect themselves, and be better human beings.