Topic: Social Emotional Learning

Children’s Mental Health: Everyone’s Responsibility

Amelia’s parents contacted me because of a problem in Kindergarten. Her teachers reported that she often began to cry around lunchtime, and when they asked her why she was crying, she couldn’t answer them.  They tried to distract her, and even offered her a trip to the class “store”, (stocked with fun prizes) if she would […]

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The Power of Hope from Childhood Professionals

Several years ago at a professional training I conducted on parental stress, an 80-year-old mother raised her hand to share an insight. A psychologist and mother, she explained that she had a 50-year-old son with special needs. “Everyone told us to institutionalize him,” she said, “that he would be functioning at the lowest levels, and […]

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The Body Tells the Story: The Promise of Sense Technology in Supporting Vulnerable Children

Improving the well-being of children and families is a priority for Dr. Rosalind Picard, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who studies “affective computing,” which uses sense technology to increase individuals’well-being using new ways to understand and respond to emotion. Dr. Picard has developed wearable sensors that reveal an individual’s level of cognitive, emotional, […]

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ADHD or a Natural Need to Move?

Rodney came from a family of athletes, so it wasn’t surprising that he was physically active from the time he was a toddler. Tall and strong, he crawled for just a couple of days before he learned to walk, and, soon after, run. Rodney thrived at his preschool, where children could freely move between the […]

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When Sensory Over-Reactivity Underlies Behavioral Challenges

Grant, age four, was asked to leave two preschools because of misbehavior. With tousled brown hair, big brown eyes, and a playful spirit, he both charmed and confused most of the adults in his life. He had such difficulty following directions that his teachers had to reprimand him every few minutes. They described him as […]

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What We Can Learn from a Seven-Year-Old’s Arrest

A Florida elementary school made national headlines after video emerged of a police officer hauling off a seven-year-old boy in handcuffs. According to reports, a teacher had scolded the child for playing with his food in the cafeteria and the boy reacted by lashing out at the teacher, repeatedly striking and kicking her. By the […]

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Freedom of Choice: Why Special Education Programs Should be Transparent About their Approaches

When parents enroll their children in a school, they often don’t realize they’re choosing not only a program, but a whole approach. I was reminded of this when I was asked to observe a little girl at a state-sponsored preschool for children with developmental differences. “Ana”, 3, was happily playing when she noticed that a […]

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Why Preschoolers Shouldn’t be Suspended or Expelled: Lessons from Neuroscience

Luke struggled to get through nearly every day at his preschool. The four-year-old had difficulty sitting still and following directions, and when teachers reprimanded him, he usually responded by hitting something or someone. The more they admonished him, the more disruptive his behaviors became. Finally, the school ran out of options and suspended him. His […]

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The Secret to Helping Children Thrive (And It’s Not a Theory or a Technique)

I recently visited a kindergarten classroom to observe a child with “behavior problems.” When I arrived, the little boy was busying himself with an art project. He and his classmates were building towers out of cardboard box pieces. Everything seemed fine until a peer suddenly grabbed the glue from him, knocking his beloved project to […]

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