Special guest: Jason B. Allen: It is no secret that many of our black and brown boys are marginalized, mistreated and made to feel inferior in today’s world. You’ve heard leaders call for systemic change- but that only happens when the people within our systems, help them to change. We need advocates, educators and activists to help do this important work—to teach and guide us, as parents and coaches and prominent people in the lives of youth on how to help all our young people reach their potential. There are some uncomfortable conversations that must occur- about racism, about inequity, about social justice—with those young people who are on the receiving end of inequities as well as with those who are peers, friends, teachers and parents of those who must cope with these inequities every day. How do we talk to our kids about equity and social justice? How do we empower our young people to speak out and make change? And How do we present ourselves as mentors—or provide the mentors our children need- so that they have people to look towards who look like them so they can see where they can go with hard work and hopefully, a fair shot. For all of this, I turn to special educator, Jason B. Allen.
Special guest: Mona Delahooke, PhD. A kindergartener whose father pinches her on the arm at night- once for every time her teacher wrote the girl’s name on the behavior chart at school that day.
A three year old in foster care who was found sitting in a car by the side of the road with his mother, who was passed out at the wheel. His daycare-center teacher sends him to a time out room for challenging behaviors.
A ten year old is diagnosed with Oppositional Defiant Disorder. His teachers say he is chronically disruptive, always seeking attention, His problematic behaviors began after his family relocated to a new state.
My next guest says that we are too quick to look at behaviors as attempts to annoy and disrupt—rather than what they truly represent- observable responses to our internal and external experiences. And here’s the problem with that- When we fail to recognize that many behaviors represent the body’s response to stress, not intentional misbehavior, we expend effort on techniques designed to help children logically connect their thoughts, emotions and behaviors and change them—when they simply can’t yet. Instead, we need to see the behavior that is problematic and confusing and NOT ask ourselves how do we get rid of it? But rather, what is this telling us about the child? The answer will then guide us to coming up with the best approach to help that individual child thrive.
Mona Delahooke, Ph.D. is a clinical child psychologist with a passion for supporting families and children. She has worked widely with multidisciplinary teams in the areas of trauma, developmental and emotional differences for 25 years. She is a senior faculty member of the Profectum Foundation and is a trainer and consultant to schools and agencies including the Los Angeles Department of Mental Health. Her blog, The Visible Parent, and book, Social & Emotional Development in Early Intervention (2017) explore the latest translational applications of neuroscience to social and emotional development. She is also the author of Beyond Behaviors: Using Brain Science and Compassion to Understand and Solve Children’s Behavioral Challenges.
Special Guest: Rachel Simmons Rachel Simmons is a bestselling author, educator and consultant helping girls and women be more authentic, assertive and resilient. Her latest release, Enough As She Is: How to Help Girls Move Beyond Impossible Standards of Success to Live Healthy, Happy and Fulfilling Lives, due out today from HarperCollins. Her previous work includes the New York Times bestsellers Odd Girl Out and The Curse of the Good Girl. As an educator, Rachel teaches girls and women the skills they need to build their resilience, amplify their voices, and own their courage so that they—and their relationships—live with integrity and health.
I went on ABC News Live to discuss how to talk to kids about the Capitol Building Attack. Here are some take-aways:
(1) With younger children, turn off the news cycle- they absorb information like a sponge and yet don’t have the context or framework to understand and process what is happening. As your children get older, and you know your children best, if you feel that they are ready to see the news- co-watch and be prepared to discuss it. For our tweens and teens who may be accessing the news on their own, be sure to know where they are getting their news from so you can ensure they are getting an accurate depiction of what actually happened.
(2) Answer questions and ask questions: Be prepared to answer what happened and how it happened. If you aren’t sure of an answer, you can admit you don’t know or take some time to look it up. Ask questions like; “what would you have done?” “What advice would you have for the adults who were angry about the election results?” “What is the responsibility of our leaders in this situation?” This is when critical thinking is exercised and values are solidified.
(3) Let them know they are safe. Images of people scaling the walls and breaking into the government’s house can be very scary for children. Let them know; “the adults are working hard to make sure you are safe. Make sure they understand that what happened was very rare and show them where it took place on the map. This helps them realize that they are not in danger.
(4) Discuss feelings. It’s ok to admit you are saddened or angry, confused or frustrated. Admitting your feelings can provide permission for your children to talk about their emotions. Of course, if you want to take a deep dive into your frustrations and anger, this is best suited to do with another adult- a friend, a partner, or other adult family member.
- Turn off the constant news cycle or at least be aware of when it’s on and where you are getting your information.
- If your children have seen it, talk about it- children filter their understanding through you.
- If they are getting their news from other places, make sure you know where. Use The News Bias Chart to see where your favorite news sources fall.
- If your children ask questions, answer them with the facts. If you don’t know the answer- don’t suppose, look it up. You can always get back to them.
- Allow them to answer questions too- this is where critical thinking and values get developed. For example; what would you have done? What would you do in a [similar situation that applies to their life]?
- Let them know they are safe. Knowing that people had the power to break into our government’s “house” can be very unsettling to adults- let alone children. Point out on a map where it happened, let them know that the adults are handling it and this is not something that typically happens. This is very rare.
- Admit it if you are sad or angry or upset- but talk it out with a friend or spouse rather than with your children if you really need to do a deep dive and get some comfort or let off some steam. I’m having lunch with a friend today for that very reason.
- Get some sleep. Get some rest. Take care of you!
Dr. Robyn Silverman does a solocast on setting goals for 2021 with empathy, hope and a little surrender in mind. How can you set goals using empathy? How can we use this time to talk to kids about household contributions and life skills development? How can we use this time to talk about tough topics and how do you bring it up anyway? Dr. Robyn sits down with you, one on one, for an intimate discussion at the start of 2021.