Working our way through a long winter with colds, flu, and snowstorms can lead to the feeling that we cannot wait another minute for spring to be sprung. Then the ground hog sees his shadow, and we might even feel our stress level rise some more. In other seasons, what we might usually experience as a small problem, now feels BIG. In our Second Step lessons we have been learning during these winter months how to relieve stress and calm down strong emotions by shrinking problems back to their actual size. We are learning the body signals that tell us that our emotions are making it hard for our brains to think. When all our muscles feel tight, our breathing and heart rate rise, our stomach churns, and we feel hot, this is our signal that our feelings alarm is going off and is letting us know we are experiencing a problem. We have been learning to use deep breathing and muscle relaxation to calm our bodies down and shut off the feelings alarm so the thinking part of our brain can size up the problem. Small problems are those that, once we have calmed down, we realize we can pretty easily fix by using a few of the strategies we already have in our tool box. Medium problems are those that we might have some trouble solving all on our own. We might need to reach out to a friend or adult to get a bit of help. Those helpers can be a resource for us with some tools they have in their tool box. Big problems are those that require adult help and maybe even more than one adult (e.g. there is a fire, a power outage, an earthquake, a serious injury or illness). Under the More/Second Step tab of my webpage, parent codes are listed for each grade level so that parents and children can look together at some tools we learned that will get us through the month of March and beyond. Connected to those pages, you can meet a new friend called Mind Yeti. The Mind Yeti site (mindyeti.com) has mindfulness activities that can be helpful with calming down strong emotions and even helpful with trouble falling asleep at night. The activities supply some positive self-talk to use as well. We can tell ourselves spring comes every year and will soon be here. With our Calming Down tools we can do this!
Faculty and parents of SAU 19 had the opportunity to access workshops regarding helping children with anxiety by Lynn Lyons, LICSW, a specialist in this area. For those unable to attend she has written an extremely helpful book entitled Anxious Kids, Anxious parents. She also has a very informative website at www.lynnlyonsnh.com. Surprisingly, some of the strategies that parents and other caregivers employ in a compassionate effort to relieve children's discomfort can actually worsen the anxiety. Lynn's book explains that dynamic and alternative strategies to employ to assist children in learning in talking back to worry and moving forward to enjoy activities and reach goals. Highly recommend checking this out as well as her website.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month: SAU 19 has developed a series of bullying and cyberbullying prevention lessons, as well as a wealth of informational resources. Look for those on the SAU 19 website under the Special Projects tab at the top of the web page. Throughout the month classrooms will be learning about exactly what bullying is and how students can respond if they witness this taking place. 1st graders will be reading about respecting differences in Dr. Seuss' book the Sneetches. 2nd graders will read about what classmates did to respond to Grant Grizzly's mean behaviors in The Bully Blockers' Club. 3rd graders will be learning that there are three key components that make up bullying behavior. Adults can learn those, too, by checking out the training video on the SAU 19 website that is required viewing for all school volunteers. Another great website to take a look at is www.pacerkidsagainstbullying.com.