children at play

3 Ways to Help Kids Make Friends

What if it’s the first day of school and you are the new kid in the class?

What if you return to school after a summer off,  only to find that your best friend  has made a whole new set of friends and you aren’t in the circle any more?

What if you actually prefer solitary pursuits… reading a book, working on the computer and you don’t really have many friends?

Friendship can be a tough call for both children and adults.  How can educators and parents lend a hand?

Teach Children Self-Worth

One of the key concepts that all children need to learn and internalize is a feeling of worth and value that is inherent in their authentic self rather than based on another’s opinion. It’s easier to make a friend when you feel like you have something to offer. Recognizing their self worth also helps a child feel more secure if their offer of friendship is rejected.

Help children recognize that they are enough just as they are by learning to value their own unique personality style, gifts and talents.  Introverts don’t need to try harder to be outgoing.  Computer geeks don’t need to become jocks and not everyone is going to make straight A’s in school.  Teach children  to set reasonable goals and challenge themselves in areas where they can excel, then celebrate their success.

Teach Friendship Skills

Not everyone is a natural at making and keeping friends.  While some children may seem to attract friends like magnets, others stand on the sidelines and wonder how to begin.  As a school counselor for twenty years, I often had conversations with children who set their sights on being best friends with someone  but didn’t know how to begin the interaction. Our conversations would go something like this:

Child:  I don’t have any friends.  No one likes me.

Me:  What have you tried to make friends?

Child:  I asked Susie to play with me at recess and she said she already had someone to play with.

Me:  Did you ask someone else?

Child:  No.  Everyone else already has friends to play with.

While the situation may seem hopeless in the child’s eyes, there are obviously many directions to go in with this scenario, not the least of which is teaching persistence, focusing on the needs of others and looking for other children who may also be lonely and in need of a friend.  Usually given a few concrete ideas for how to go about interacting with others, children can experience success in making a new friend.

Teach Children to be Curious

Often helping children to re-frame the friendship experience can be helpful.  Instead of seeing themselves as the one person in the class who is friendless (probably not a true perception anyway), what if they saw their situation as an opportunity to get to know others?  What if they were curious about their classmates and what they like to do, what their favorite subject is at school (recess or lunch?) and their favorite book to read.  What if they notice who might need some help and offer a helping hand?  Expressing  curiosity about others is a great way to begin a conversation.

Related Posts:

Friendship Troubles

Easy Steps for Kids to Problem  Solve

Teaching Empathy



Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Friendship

It’s not easy being the new kid at school, especially if you are a cat and everyone else is a dog.  How do you make friends?  Can you even be friends with someone who is totally different from you?  Wyatt the Wonder Dog helps solve Ami’s friendship problem with empathy and compassion. A great story for teaching children the critical life skill of making friends.

Wyatt the Wonder Dog-Friendship Cover (1)

Wyatt Learns about Friendship


3 kids and self discipline

3 steps to helping kids develop self-discipline

Will power, self-discipline and productive habits are the buzz words for the summer Olympics in 2016.  Ask any of the  Olympic gold medal winners  to what they attribute their success and I guarantee these words will come up over and over.  No one is going to say they won the gold by having a lackadaisical attitude, following a random practice schedule and doing whatever they wanted whenever they wanted.

So how do we encourage our students and children to develop similar habits?  Are they just born with a competitive spirit and a desire to win?  Were they genetically endowed with their athletic skill?  While certainly body type and personality style are factors in their success, studies have shown that these qualities are not something that the character fairy flits about in the night and bestows upon us magically. Instead they can be systematically developed and nurtured.

Over ten years ago a longitudinal study by Angela Duckworht and Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania measured self-discipline in adolescents through self-report, parent report and teacher report.  They then followed up later and were more accurately able to predict final grades, class attendance, standardized test scores and even selection into a competitive high school program the next year.   Perhaps not shocking to any educator who has been teaching for a while, self-discipline was a better predictor of these positive results than IQ.

How Do We Cultivate Self-Discipline?

To help our kids develop self discipline and willpower we need to teach them to employ the following steps.

  1. Complete tasks even when you dislike them–We live in a world with an emphasis on doing what you love, when you love to do it.  However, willpower is developed by recognizing and doing those things that you don’t love, maybe even dislike, on a regular basis.  Maybe its studying math when your real gift is drama or reading a book when you’d rather be shooting baskets. It could be running sprints when you’d rather lift weights or vice versa.   Maybe it’s taking out the garbage and flossing your teeth when you’d just as soon skip it altogether.  Helping students recognize the power of creating daily routines and following through with consistency will develop self discipline.
  2. Find an accountability partner— We all need a push at times to keep going, whether it’s gearing up for the big game or the big test.  Developing an encouraging and challenging relationship with  someone, be it a coach, a parent  or a teammate  can be the magic motivation when we are at our lowest point. Maybe you play that role in your child’s life or maybe you can help them find someone that they can develop that special relationship with.
  3. Know the why behind the action— Do you need a good score to get in the school of your dreams?  Do you need to have an amazing athletic history to make the team? Do you need to be the shining star in the school play to snag a career on stage? Knowing your why and the steps involved in getting there will see you through the tough times and the times when you experience failure and setbacks in accomplishing your dream. As parents and educators we can help kids not only dream the dream but also determine the practical steps involved in getting there.

Related posts:

4 Leadership Lesson to Prepare your Child

Teaching a child persistence

Create Success with Organizational Skills


Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Friendship

It’s not easy being the new kid at school, especially if you are a cat and everyone else is a dog.  How do you make friends?  Can you even be friends with someone who is totally different from you?  Wyatt the Wonder Dog helps solve Ami’s friendship problem with empathy and compassion. A great story for teaching children the critical life skill of making friends.

Wyatt the Wonder Dog-Friendship Cover (1)

Wyatt Learns about Friendship




School Boy Running Late with Supplies on White

Change manic mornings to tranquil transitions

Mom, where’s my lunch money?

I can’t find my backpack!

What happened to my homework?  If the dog didn’t eat it who did?

Get in the car… Get.  in.  the.  CAR!

Did the school bus just go by?

Although back to school start dates may vary around the country, one thing that doesn’t vary is the manic morning rush to get everyone out of the house and off to school/ work on time. To change manic mornings to  tranquil transitions create a morning schedule that is congruent with your family’s style.  Not every personality style reacts well to a timed schedule and a stop watch mentality but you can create a school morning scenario that matches your family’s unique preferences.  Here’s how:

Seven tips for creating a stress free school morning

  1. Plan ahead by discussing as a family the goals that everyone has for the morning.  Be at school and work on time?  Eat a healthy breakfast?  Have a positive mindset? Have all the supplies you need for the day? Get everyone’s input to make sure everyone is clear on what is expected.
  2. Work backward from the time that you want to leave the house and develop a time frame that leaves adequate time for all the tasks to be done.  Post each child’s individual schedule and have a clock available so they can track their time.
  3. Plan ahead by getting things ready the night before.  Having a nightly routine that works is as important as having a morning routine.  Determine the tasks that need to be done the night before to prepare for the next day.  This can include having clothes laid out, having a backpack ready with homework and supplies, preparing lunch or breakfast ahead.
  4. Set a reasonable bedtime and stick with it to prevent sluggish and grumpy mornings.
  5. Leave yourself enough margin  to arrive on time.  The idea of margin is a good one. Plan for the necessary amount of time with some extra  time added in for unforeseen difficulties.
  6. Spend some quiet time in gratitude. Share a positive thought or word for the day.  Have a family devotion or prayer.  This is so different from the rushing-out-the-door, pop-tart-in-hand approach that often characterizes the morning routine.
  7. Send your child off with a positive affirmation that sets the tone for the day.  One example is: “Make it a great day for someone.”  Sharing a positive thought at the last good bye can create a positive mindset.

Related Posts:

Personality Style and Motivation

Begin School with Intention

Create a Growth Mindset



Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Friendship

It’s not easy being the new kid at school, especially if you are a cat and everyone else is a dog.  How do you make friends?  Can you even be friends with someone who is totally different from you?  Wyatt the Wonder Dog helps solve Ami’s friendship problem with empathy and compassion. A great story for teaching children the critical life skill of making friends.

Wyatt the Wonder Dog-Friendship Cover (1)

Wyatt Learns about Friendship

Teacher Helping Students

Personality Style and Motivation

it’s a new school year and you have spent hours setting up your classroom, attending meetings on the latest and  greatest technology and getting your lesson plans in order. You are ready for the kiddos to arrive with parents in tow so you can orient everyone to your system and dive in to a new and exciting year of learning and teaching.

However, if you’ve been teaching any time at all you know that the best laid plans can go astray, especially if you have “one of those classrooms”.  You know what I mean.  One where you are pulling out your hair and wondering who on earth thought putting this combination of children together in one room was a good idea? Maybe you have children that are exceptionally talkative or headstrong.  Maybe they are needy and lack initiative.  In any case, I bet you have at least one child in your classroom that really knows how to push your buttons… and not in a good way.  What if you understood their personality and their motivation so that you could work with them instead of against the resistance? Understanding the four basic personality styles can help.

The Four Basic Personality Styles

Understanding and speaking the same personality language is important. This is especially true if you want to help your students set goals that motivate them and have a successful school year. As a quick reminder, the four main personality types are:

D wired=dominant, decisive, determined, doer

I wired=interactive, inspiring, influential, initiator

S wired=stable, sweet, shy, likes status quo

C wired=conscientious, careful, cautious, careful

Personality Style and Motivation

If you have a D wired child in your classroom, then you will want to help them chose a goal that is very specific and has a deadline. D personalities are highly motivated and competitive, so setting a goal to give their energy some direction will be very successful.

I wired children are great starters but not such great finishers. They also thrive on social interaction and recognition, so setting a goal that involves a social network to support and encourage them to achieve it would be best. Add in an element of fun perhaps by making a lesson or project much like a game and the I wired child will be hooked.

S wired children are great finishers but have difficulty starting tasks. They are very tuned in to the needs of others and will work to accomplish a goal as much to please you as to please themselves. Select a goal that they can commit to with your support or the support of a partner to motivate them to get going.  They are great team players and can be a real asset to group  oriented learning.

Finally, C wired children love to develop and research a goal.They thrive on quality answers and good value.  If they are committed, they will work hard to accomplish the task. Help them see the big picture so that they don’t get lost in the details and you will have a winning combination.

Learning to set and accomplish goals is an important skill to learn and by speaking your student’s  personality language, you can not only insure that they are successful but you will motivate them in a way that is congruent with how they are wired.

Related Posts:

Celebrate your child’s personality style

10 things joyful teachers do differently

Tackling those back to school blues

Wyatt’s latest book!!

Wyatt the Wonder Dog Learns about Cooperation

Wyatt wants to play Frisbee. Max want to build a fort and Callie wants to have tea party. How do the three friends reconcile their differences? Can it be done? When Wyatt doesn’t get his way, Max’s mother suggests he be the Superhero for the day. Join Wyatt as he learns how the magic of cooperation and compromise can bring the five friends closer together.

Wyatt the Wonder Dog -Cooperation Cover
Wyatt the Wonder Dog: Learns About Cooperation (Volume 6)

back to school

Begin School with Intention-Plan for Reflection

What was the most memorable and significant year of school for you?

The first year you attended school?

The year you starred in the class play?

The year you won an award?

The year you graduated?

Research has shown that an important part of learning in any environment is reflecting on our experience, the information we learned and the essential life lessons we incorporated. However sometimes we are so quick to move through an academic year that we barely scratch the surface of being in the present, never mind take the time to reflect on and apply the lessons learned.  Regular and planned reflection however results in ownership of new knowledge and practical application of those skills, strategies or facts.

Here are some ways to help your student have some planned reflection time throughout the year:

Intention and Reflection

  1. Being the year by having students set an intention for the year.  What do they want the theme of the year to be for them?  Where will their focus be?  What will need to happen for them to be happy with the school year and feel that they have been successful?
  2. Next set up a regular time during the year to reflect.  You can do this as frequently as you wish but I recommend at least three; the beginning of the year, half way through the year and at the end of the year.
  3. At each point have the student write a letter to themselves about their current experience, what they have learned and what they might expect for the future.
  4. Have the student keep the letters to reflect on in the future/or
  5. Have the student meet with a partner or small group of students and share what they have learned.
  6. Celebrate the learning and insight that has taken place!  Have a party, write a letter of advice and reflection to next year’s students or to themselves, give awards for lessons learned and goals met.  Help students recognize and feel pride in their achievements.

It’s back to school for lots of kiddos.  Here’s a great book for those kids just starting kindergarten…

Wyatt Goes to Kindergarten

Wyatt has never liked change, at least not at first.  Once he tries something new, he usually finds he really likes it.  Now that he is about to begin kindergarten, Wyatt is really worried.  Will he make friends?  Will he get lost in the new school?  Will he miss his mom?  Join Wyatt in his latest “wonder-full” adventure!Wyatt-kKindergarten_thumb
Wyatt the Wonder Dog: Goes to Kindergarten







summertime activities

How does your summer measure up?

For many parents and teachers in the south, the summer is rapidly coming to a close and school will soon be starting.  This means that families are getting in those last minute vacations and activities.  Kids are counting the last days of freedom while many parents are counting the number of day until they are free again.  It’s a mixed bag of feelings and energy.

Due to the ever present social media deluge, many parents and kids experience a fear of missing out (FOMO) as the summer ends. Scroll through your Facebook feed and you will see everyone you know posed on the beach or cruise ship or traveling with their team sport.  That’s where the comparison begins.  Did you take a vacation as grand and exciting as your neighbor or friends?  Did the kids learn new skills at band or sports camp?  Did the baseball team win the championship?  Sometimes it seems that everyone else is living a celebrity like exciting life and in comparison your summer experience may seem mundane and dull.  Worried about what your child will write in their “What I did this summer” essay? Then you may have fallen victim to the FOMO virus.

Reflections on Your Daily Experience

What if instead of trying to have the grandest summer ever, you tried to be your personal best every day… summer included?  Rather than compare your summer to that of your Facebook friends, here is a better way to reflect on and review your summer.  In his excellent book, Triggers: Creating Behavior that Lasts/Becoming the Person You Want to Be, Marshall Goldsmith suggests that we all ask ourselves the following questions each day.

Did I do my best to:
Set clear goals?
Make progress toward goal achievement?
Find meaning?
Be happy?
Build positive relationships?
Be fully engaged and present?

This is a revolutionary approach to living each day because it takes the responsibility for our actions and feelings off of others and puts it squarely where it belongs… on our own shoulders.  No more comparing our day at home to the neighbors’ day at the theme park. While Goldsmith is recommending these questions to adults, i think they are quite relevant to kids as well.  Here’s what it might look like:

Spend time over the dinner table discussing these six questions.  Model for your children how these questions are relevant for your daily life as well as theirs.  Here are some examples:

  • What was your goal today? Maybe finish reading a book or create a new craft project?
  • What progress did you make?
  • How did you create your own meaning?  This doesn’t have to be philosophical and deep.  Maybe you were being creative, social, learning something new or helping someone out.
  • Did you decide to be happy?  How did that turn out?  If you were unhappy, how could you turn that around tomorrow?
  • Did you build positive relationships with your family and friends?  What are some examples? What did you do that was kind?  helpful?
  • Were you fully engaged and present… did you give all your attention to what you were doing at the moment?

I know that these questions are challenging.  I’ve started asking myself these questions every day myself and some days I fall short.  But the important thing is to reflect, share and grow together as a family.  Let me know how it works out.

Related Posts:

4 Secrets to a Stress Free Family Vacation

3 Ways to Make the Most of Your Summer

5 Ways to Create a Summer of Renewal


Wyatt’s Little Book of Lesson Plans, Worksheets and Games

Just for you!  Here are activities, lesson plans, discussion questions, coloring sheets, word search puzzles and games for each of the six Wyatt the Wonder Dog Books.  Over 75 pages of ideas so that you can create lessons on cooperation, teamwork and leadership skills to quickly extend and incorporate the Wyatt stories.