We are almost through another week. Yesterday we practiced deciding if our words and actions are helpful or hurtful and today, we will expand on that skill. Today’s focus skill is deciding when to say it or think it (keep it in our head). It is common for us to have so many thoughts and opinions in our head at one time. Especially now, we may have even more thoughts swirling around as we are trying to multitask at home while also hearing a constant stream of news and updates. When we are taking in so much information, it’s hard to know what to do with it all. Empower your children to recognize that they get to choose their words. They get to decide when it is helpful to share their words and when it would be hurtful. If it would be hurtful, they can choose to keep those thoughts in their head.
Suggestions for using this skill:
● Validate that it’s normal to have lots of thought and opinions and it’s okay for us to have different opinions and negative thoughts. Review yesterday’s skill to help your child decide if statements that are made would be helpful or hurtful to others.
● Talk to your children about possibly taking to an adult about certain topics, thoughts or opinions rather than a sibling (personal information, frustrations with a sibling that don’t necessarily need to be shared at the moment).
● Discuss what topics may be appropriate for different times/environments (certain topics may not be appropriate at the dinner table).
● Brainstorm responses that can be used for “gifts”. Someone may make a picture for a sibling or a child may help prepare food. It’s OK to not like it and we often teach honesty however, a thank you may be a better response than this doesn’t taste good. We don’t need to lie, but we can choose different words or phrases.
● Relate this topic to personal qualities in others. We may notice that we don’t like someone’s outfit or hair style but we don’t need to share those opinions. A child may recognize that a sibling struggles with a certain game or academic skill. This observation does not need to be shared. The more time we spend cooped up with family, there may be less tolerance for individual differences. Provide opportunities to cope with this low frustration tolerance (separate, give space, move to a preferred activity).
● Relate this skill to interruptions. Encourage your child to keep the thought in their head until it is their turn to talk. Have them start with an on-topic comment before changing the topic during back and forth conversations.
● As adults, we can practice this skill by deciding how much information our children should know about COVID-19. Too much information may be harmful and scary. Focus on sharing information that they have control over (social distancing, hand washing, etc.).
● Go to Gonoodle.com for a short activity about self-awareness of swirling thoughts. https://family.gonoodle.com/activities/swirling
● One exception to the “say it or think it” rules is thoughts regarding personal safety or thoughts of hurting self or others. These should be shared with an adult. Reassure your child that you and/or another adult will help with any uncomfortable thought and seek any support needed.
Although we are teaching kids to not make comments that are hurtful, take the time to really ask how they are doing. How do they feel? How are they handling this situation? Reassure them that they can always share thoughts and feeling about how they are doing even if they think it will be upsetting to adults. Let them know that you are there for them and want to know about any uncomfortable thoughts or feelings. No one was prepared for this current situation and this new experience is something we are all adjusting to.
Please reach out to our intake coordinator if you are needing any extra support during this time.