Looking forward to Oct. 19 when I will be presenting a professional development session at the BC Council for Exceptional Children Fall Conference. This community of educators, parents and early childhood professionals are tireless advocates for children with exceptionalities. They are deeply connected to Every Child, Every Chance, Every Day and to changing youngsters' life chances. A session overview and registration details are here:
Mindfulness and social-emotional health have emerged as priorities in schools and communities everywhere. Thanks to the Dalai Lama Centre for this upcoming conference and for the remarkable quality of the resource people who will be presenting. There’s still time to register. Let’s build our capacity together.
We have recently heard from our friends at Collective Therapy that they are offering a new suite of on line courses for parents who are looking for support and a sense of community as they work with their children during the complex and sometimes challenging early years. Here are three course offerings starting in mid-June and going for four weeks. Registration is open until June 14 and information is available at http://collectivetherapy.ca/classes/ CSRI is pleased to share this information as another set of tools in the self-regulation toolbox...
Collective Therapy Classes being offered in June:
Picky Eating 101: How to Raise a Happy Eater is co-led by an occupational therapist and a registered dietitian and aims to help parents feel more confident and capable about creating positive learning experiences for their child when it comes to eating. We cover topics such as Ellyn Satter's Division of Responsibility, a basic introduction to food nutrition, creating structure and routine to meal times, and making meal planning simple.
Kindergarten Booster: Making the Leap to School is led by an occupational therapist and is intended for any parent who has questions and concerns about their child's kindergarten readiness. Each week we will discuss a specific area of development (fine motor, gross motor, and independence with social, emotional, and self-care skills) and provide parents with age appropriate milestones as well as ways to help boost their child's skills for kindergarten. The intent of the class is to help ease any anxiety parents may be feeling about their child's transition to kindergarten.
Ants in Your Pants: Managing Big Feelings is our original Collective Class and was developed with the intent of teaching families about self-regulation and how to help children stay more calm, balanced, and settled throughout their day. This class has been offered twice since January. We have had positive feedback from past parents who reported that the tools they received from this class helped them to better understand their child's behaviours and put strategies in place that actually worked.
All our classes are held online and run for a 4-week period. Parents are emailed learning modules every week and are given access to a private online forum for each class. Throughout the 4-weeks of class parents can use the forum to ask questions to the therapist leading the class as well as discuss ideas and experiences with the other parents in the group.
Parents from previous classes have commented that the online format of the classes made it easy to fit the learning into their busy lives and schedules. While the forum helped create a personal connection to the teacher and other parents in the group.
For more information on our classes please visit our website at http://collectivetherapy.ca/classes/
In 2004, Dr. Bruce Perry delivered the Inaugural presentation of the Margaret McCain Lecture Series, entitled Maltreatment and the Developing Child. He shared a thoughtful, enlightening overview of the developing child and the particular challenges faced by youngsters growing up in dysfunctional/traumatic situations. His recommendations and cautions are even more relevant today than they were over a decade ago. The world has become more complex and yet many of our policies and practices are still lagging behind what we know about neuroscience, human development and effective strategies to change the trajectory for our most vulnerable community members.
Seeing the forest, and the trees
Perspective-taking is an important self-regulation capacity, and the ability to integrate multiple perspectives is a hallmark of mature thinking. An integrative map reminds us to pay attention to all of the factors that influence self-regulation, and the connections among them:
Why is integration so important? Well-known neuroscience pioneer Dan Siegel describes integration – “linking differentiated parts into a functional whole” – as “the underlying mechanism of self-regulation.” This is valuable information for parents, educators, and other professionals helping to cultivate self-regulation assets in the young people they support.
Perspectives in action
Here’s an example. An integrative lens on self-regulation helps us to see beyond behaviours, to inquire into the inner life of the child. Is Maria a flexible thinker? Are Avi’s outbursts connected to lagging cognitive skills? Is Gurminder sad? Does Michael make empathic connections with his classmates? Can Shen focus on math a little longer when he’s feeling calm and grounded? Integrating a child’s mental and emotional experiences with observations of their behaviour can be both insightful and instructive. It gives us more to work with.
We’ve also noticed that most approaches to self-regulation are focused on the individual. While this is important, it’s not sufficient. Our efforts become more effective and more sustainable when we recognize the collective factors that influence self-regulation: the systems and structures in which we work and learn, for example, and the culture of our organizations and communities.
Let’s start with systems and structures. Many schools are exploring ways that classroom design can enhance self-regulation. And there’s a growing awareness that self-regulation gets a real boost when the whole school is involved, and not just a ‘problem’ kid or classroom. Similarly, self-regulation capacities are strengthened when the family is on board, when kids experience consistent expectations and support at home and at school. And, as the self-regulation movement grows, we see how policies and programs in other sectors can foster self-regulation capacities in kids and adults: early childhood education, health prevention & promotion, recreation, child and youth care, suicide prevention programs, mental health services ... even municipal planning. Each sector can make an important contribution to promoting self-regulation, especially when there are opportunities for collaboration.
Culture is equally important. This dimension of self-regulation is harder to pin down and measure; nonetheless, it exerts significant influence on our approach to self-regulation. This dimension is the gathering place for our shared attitudes, values and beliefs, our assumptions, our taken-for-granted’s. When we pay attention to the cultural factors that influence self-regulation ... that make it easier to talk about mental health challenges, for example, and to ask for help ... we create new norms, and new possibilities. And we can agree to a shared purpose: building a culture of self-regulation in our school, our organization, our community. We’ll know we’ve had a significant cultural impact when we can say “self-reg? It’s just the way we do things around here.”
Thriving Kids, Thriving Communities
At CSRI, we believe that by working together to foster self-regulation in kids, and the adults that support them, we can change lives and build healthier, more sustainable communities. We also believe that this work will be most effective and most sustainable when we take an integrative approach, attending to all of the factors that influence self-regulation: individual and collective, interior and exterior.
These four dimensions are interconnected, interdynamic and irreducible. By building self-regulation assets in one area, we’re actually strengthening self-regulation capacities in each of the others. Reconnecting seemingly separate parts into a more inclusive and integrative whole, our change efforts generate higher levels of learning, mental wellness, positive relationships and healthy development.
Tam Lundy, PhD
Canadian Self-Regulation Initiative
1 Siegel, Daniel J. (2012). The developing mind. New York: The Guilford Press.
2 Siegel, Daniel J. (2012). Pocket guide to interpersonal neurobiology: An integrative handbook of the mind. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.