Happiness– Self Portraits and Poems

Each week we curate an email subscription of themed stories, activities, videos, conversation points and more! Both last week’s and this week’s subscriptions include beautifully illustrated picture books about feeling Happy. 

We invited children to make a nature collage self-portrait and to write their own happiness poem , offering prompts to consider  what they love– people, places, play, favorite foods and more!


Resources to Help Talk With Children About Coronavirus

This is a challenging time. It’s an especially difficult time for parents. Parents have the dual responsibility to manage our own feelings about the unfolding crisis and to meet our children’s needs. In addition to connecting with our valued friends and family, here are three resources that may support conversations with children.  

Talking To Kids About the Coronavirus: Kids Worry More When They’re Kept in the Dark (info & article) -Child Mind Institute by Rachel Ehmke

Key Points Summarized:
  • Don’t be afraid to discuss the coronavirus.
  • Be developmentally appropriate. 
  • Take your cues from your child. 
  • Deal with your own anxiety. 
  • Be reassuring.
  • Focus on what you’re doing to stay safe. 
  • Stick to routine. 
  • Keep talking.

The Coronavirus Social Story -Free printable

Talking to Your Child About Coronavirus In Ways That Ease Their Fears

We Stand for Inclusion, Respect and Love

Justice is what love looks like in public.” – Cornel West

At HFP, we actively teach appreciations for differences. We work to combat prejudice and stereotypes. And we stand up to injustice.

Many in our community are outraged that a person who publicly insults and threatens marginalized groups has been appointed to the country’s highest leadership position. We feel protective of the children, families and people across the country who are even more vulnerable due to the hateful rhetoric and promises of policy changes that would further erode people’s rights and safety.

Earlier this year, Teaching Tolerance produced a video, called “The Lie” in which 4th graders call out the painful prejudices they’ve heard about their own identities. These bold young people speak out against the racist, xenophobic and sexist messages they’ve received. They are not buying it and neither should we.

What can we do to counteract these messages? The following excerpts may help answer that question. Both of them speak loudly to how we, as caregivers, can talk to children about acts of hate and how we, as humans, can take action to combat prejudice.

From Patty Wipfler, Hand In Hand Parenting –

We know that racism, hatred, disrespect, and intimidation are not pro-human behaviors. The majority of voters in the US on November 8th did not endorse those behaviors, but power in this country will be passed to the leaders who did. No matter where we stand on the political spectrum, no matter what policies we advocate, we know that every child deserves respect and love, no matter what their skin color, place of birth, gender, language, or religion.

We need an infusion of respect and caring in our communities to offset the erosion of both in the public forum over the past year or more. So it’s time for us parents to take the power we have, and use it to promote unity, understanding, and compassion in our homes, neighborhoods, and communities.

Explain the election to your children. Basically, many good people on all sides of the political spectrum haven’t been feeling safe. So now it is clear that we need to spend more time building bridges between people. Listening. Making sure there’s a path forward for everyone. It is now clear that this is what we adults must do. And everybody can help. Every family can make a difference.

From What do We Tell the Children? By Ali Michael, Ph.D. –

Tell them bigotry is not a democratic value, and that it will not be tolerated…. Tell them you stand by your Muslim families. Your same-sex parent families. Your gay students. Your Black families. Your female students. Your Mexican families. Your disabled students. Your immigrant families. Your trans students. Your Native students. Tell them you won’t let anyone hurt them or deport them or threaten them without having to contend with you first.

Since an anti-bias curriculum is the heart of the HFP philosophy, here is our commitment to our children and community.

At  HFP we teach kindness, compassion, caring, interconnection and inclusion. 

We Will Continue To:

  • Be gentle, kind and considerate to everyone in our classroom community.
  • Show openness to sharing and hearing perspectives.
  • Support social problem solving.
  • Interrupt hurtful behaviors such as teasing or exclusion.
  • Teach children to stand up for themselves and for others.
  • Boost emotional literacy and self-awareness of our needs and those of our friends.
  • Build appreciations for ways we are similar and different from one another.
  • Welcome curiosity and honest conversations even with “touchy” topics.
  • Read books honoring experiences that are both similar and different from our own.
  • Sing songs about friendship, peace, feelings and love.
  • Nurture critical thinking  and engaged inquiry.
  • Teach affirmations, acceptance and love.
  • Embrace an anti-bias curriculum

Join us in using our power, privilege and spheres of influence to fight against prejudice, bigotry and intolerance. Our impact of striving for social injustice can span generations. Our children and the future beyond are depending on us.

Four Steps to Boost Your Child’s Emotional Agility

A child I led to the play yard door refused to wear or carry his jacket. I gently reminded him again to go and get it. He protested and began to cry loudly. We’ve all been there: a distraught child stands before us and we, as caretakers, need to help. What do we do?

My thoughts flashed, “How can I turn this situation around? I need to help this child get outside with his jacket as quickly as possible. Should I not acknowledge his whining and repeat the direction? Do I go get his jacket for him? Do I invest the time to try to calm him down so he’s able to get it himself?”

If it were my son and we were at home, I’d have scooped him up without a  blink, plucked his jacket from the hook myself, then carried him outside on one arm, his jacket on the other.

Before I could act on any of these thoughts, however, Teacher Susan swept in and helped the child move through his feelings with ease in just a few seconds.

Promoting our kids’ emotional agility

We all want healthy, emotionally balanced kids. But sometimes we don’t have the tools to help our kids through these tough moments. Little did I know the article Teacher Susan sent me two days before outlined  the exact tools we’re featuring on this post.  I thought, “Yes! Bingo! This is exactly what Susan did with this child.”

Here are four steps outlined by Dr. Susan David, an expert in emotional agility, to build emotional intelligence in our children.

  1. FEEL the feeling fully.

Instead of trying to reassure, “It’s okay, don’t cry,” try acknowledging the emotion and your child for having his/her own very real feelings.

Teacher Susan knelt eye-level in front of the boy and said calm and low, “You’re upset, you don’t want to get your coat.”

2. SHOW the feeling.

Often we’d prefer our child not cry in a restaurant. Instead of having “display rules” as Dr. David calls them, try as much as possible to allow your child their feelings when and where they are processing them.

Susan acknowledged the situation as she assessed it. The child was eager to join his playmates in the play yard. He didn’t want to slow down and he wasn’t thinking about needing access to a coat to warm him up.  She talked with him then and there, in the midst of the busy transition outside.

3. LABEL the feeling.

When we identify and name the feeling ourselves, it helps us to see it in other people. We begin to distinguish between anxiety, frustration, or stress.

Susan empathized, “Honey, I think you’re feeling anxious as your friends head out to play.  And it’s frustrating to stop to gather your coat.”  Then she calmly reiterated the daily agreement about jacket-wearing or carrying. Predictable, consistent practices help children feel safe and sets them up for success. “You can wear it or carry it,” she smiled.

4. WATCH the feeling leave.

Feelings are transitory. Helping kids see the passing of hard feelings often helps ground them and make them understand that these tough moments pass, and most importantly, ties our positive interaction to the passing of these feelings.

Teacher Susan not only acknowledged his feelings, she also avoided a power struggle by empathizing with his resistance and then lovingly holding firm to the expectation. The child scooped up his jacket and handed it to her to help him put it on.

Dr. David reflects,

We can also help children to remember that we don’t necessarily feel the same emotion every time we have a similar experience. The high dive is scariest the first time. We might feel a lot of anxiety at one party, or in one science class, but have a different experience the next time.”

When I asked Susan  her perspective on nurturing children’s emotional intelligence, she shared:

Feelings give us  important information. We can support emotional literacy by listening to, naming, and validating children’s feelings as they arise. When children are in conflict with one another, we can coach them to notice their own anger, disappointment or frustration. We can help children notice the tightness in their chest or their friend’s furrowed brow. When children invite each other to play or lend a hand to another, we can mirror back their  excitement, joy and satisfaction.  We can help them notice a child’s twinkly eyes or wide open smile.  The problem is not in having the feelings, it’s in stuffing, denying or belittling the feelings when they arise.

When we feel rushed or uncomfortable with a child’s feelings, we sometimes we distract children from their feelings, or plow over their feelings, telling them they’re fine. The irony is that children usually dig in deeper or get stuck if they’re not given the space to actually have their feelings. Adults can play an essential role in helping children move through charged feelings simply by staying connected to children and acknowledging the presence of those feelings. We can teach children self-awareness and compassion by slowing down to honor their feelings. As we do, the feelings will move on, paving the way for the next experience.

The full article in the New York Times by 

For more information about supporting children with a range of emotions, check out Hand in Hand Parenting.

Photo from Flickr user Jessica Lucia.