Guiding Kids to Ask for Help

Guiding Kids to Ask for Help

Your son is building a robot out of legos when you hear a yell of frustration and a crash. You ask him what happened and he says, “It kept breaking. I can’t do it.” And you offer to help him, thinking or saying, “Why didn’t you ask for help?”

Your students are working on their classwork. As you look around you notice that Emma is fidgeting with her pencil, trying to look busy, but isn’t writing a thing. You go over to her desk, crouch down next to her, and ask if she needs any help. “Yes. I don’t know what to do.” she mumbles. And you help her, thinking or saying, “Why didn’t you ask for help?’

The child you work with is sharing one of the stories above and you ask them… (well, no big surprise here, you can probably guess where we’re headed) you ask them, “Why didn’t you ask for help?”

And their answers may vary…

Continue Reading »

The Hidden Danger of Teaching Coping Skills to Kids

The Hidden Danger of Teaching Coping Skills to Kids

She came into my office, a brave 9 year old, and with a quiet defeated voice shared with me that even though she used her coping skills, sometimes she still worried about bad guys.

My answer to her:


I still worry about bad guys sometimes too especially if I hear a strange noise at night. It’s normal.

You’re human and I’m human. Having all our emotions including fear and worry is part of being a person. It’s okay to still worry about bad guys.

The goal isn’t for you to never worry again. I know you might want that since worry can feel very uncomfortable and sometimes even painful.

But the real goal is for you to know what to do when you feel worried so it doesn’t stop you from doing fun things, things you want to do, like going to sleepovers, or feeling safe on field trips, or sleeping in your own bed.

Does that make sense?

Relief spread across her face as she nodded and smiled.


Continue Reading »

How to Respond to Children’s Challenging Behavior

a little boy struggling with homework

During challenging moments, how do you choose when to empathize & connect, to set boundaries, or to teach a skill/lesson to the child?

I asked this question in our membership community, the Emotion Guide Collective, and we had a great discussion around what informs our decisions in the moment.

When children are struggling, it can be difficult to figure out how best to respond.

Our minds start whirling through our mental toolbox.

If your inner talk is anything like mine, it may sound something like this: “This strategy? No, this one. Well, that bombed. How about this one? What should I do? Nothing’s working! Aaargh!”

Having a framework of how to decide which strategy to choose in different situations keeps me from flailing about trying all the strategies hoping one sticks like spaghetti on a wall and the problem subsides.

Here are the three questions I ask myself that make up my decision making framework:

Continue Reading »