What Guidance Strategies Don’t Work?

Before we look at what works with children or students, let’s look at what doesn’t work. What guidance strategies don’t work with children or students?

Ineffective, Inappropriate and Unacceptable Guidance Strategies

  • Counting “1, 2, 3 . . . “
  • Repeating
  • Yelling
  • Threats, usually overstated
  • Bribes
  • Sarcasm
  • Inconsistency
  • Belittling
  • Withholding love and affection
  • Silent treatment
  • Controlling through shame or guilt
  • Forcing promise from child
  • Acting like a child or student. Remember, you are the adult!

If you’re like most parents or educators you’ve tried some of these to no avail. You’ve probably discovered that they are ineffective and don’t work. Why do we keep doing what doesn’t work?

It’s what we know. It could be how we were raised as children or how we’re raising our own children. How ever we came about using ineffective strategies, we need to stop. What ineffective, inappropriate or unacceptable guidance strategies do you use?

But it is hard to stop doing something unless you have something to replace it with. In the next 13 blog posts you’ll learn to replace these ineffective strategies with guidance strategies that work. You’ll learn ten prevention strategies and three intervention strategies which equals a baker’s dozen.


Image source: megaphone [commons.wikimedia.org]

Restorative Questions and Reasons We Don’t Ask, Why?

What are Restorative Conversations?

A restorative conversation is any conversation that uses restorative questions in which an issue is approached with an open mind to:

  1. “Truly understand what happened
  2. Authentically listen and provide a space where everyone involved authentically listens to one another
  3. All voices are heard
  4. Focus on the impact the situation/actions had on others and the larger community
  5. Identify any unmet needs (especially for those harmed), and
  6. Determine what needs to happen to make things as right as possible moving forward.”1

Traditional Restorative Questions

The International Institute of Restorative Practices sells business sized cards that ask the restorative questions. Side 1 are the questions to ask the offender, the person who caused harm.

  • What happened?
  • What were you thinking at the time?
  • What have you thought about since?
  • Who has been affected by what you’ve done?
  • In what way have they been affected?
  • What do you think you need to do to make things right?

Side 2 questions are to ask the victim, the those affected.

  • What did you think when you realized what had happened?
  • What impact has this incident had on you and others?
  • What has been the hardest thing for you?
  • What do you think needs to happen to make things right?


A key reminder: there is no question number six that says, “Now give them a lecture.” It’s tempting to insert your wisdom into the process but it’s not your conversation. Trust that the process of asking the questions leads students to resolve the conflict. As needed, summarize the conversation and invite the students to reflect on what they’ve learned.


You may note that there is no question that asks why? There are several reasons we don’t ask, “Why did you do that?” First, it’s not helpful or relevant to resolving the conflict. Second, the students don’t usually know why. Third, if students dig for a reason it often ends up being a rationalization or justification which goes against the process of taking personal responsibility.



  1. What are restorative conversations? www.healthiersf.org
  2. Image: why-1432955 [Pixabay.com]

Restorative Practices Changes You

Often we focus on how restorative practices can change our students and school climate. But it can also change us . . . those responsible for implementation. One Cohort 2, year 3 administrator tells his/her story.

                “Restorative practices has affected me personally by changing the way I interview and question kids about behaviors by using restorative questioning techniques.

                This has affected me by creating a shift from punitive actions and a ‘remember what you did’ mindset to working to develop a sense of community and responsibility. This has led to a more productive and trusting relationships with students and parents.

                It has changed the way I interact with my own children.”

How has restorative practices affected you personally?

Fake Apologies

You’ve heard of fake news. Well there are also fake apologies. We shouldn’t be surprised that students can by cynical about apologies. They may wonder what’s in it for them. Teacher Rosalind Wiseman says, “They witness ‘fake’ apologies amongst their peers and see adults who treat them disrespectfully, abuse their power and who would never think to apologize.”1 It’s not hard to realize how challenging it is to convince students that apologies are not just superficial gestures. “So, if we want to talk to them about the power of a genuine apology to transform relationships, we have to acknowledge and define fake apologies.”1

Wiseman says that a fake apology has four aspects.

  1. “Has an insincere tone of voice, sometimes accompanied by body language, like sighing and eye-rolling, to further communicate their true feelings.
  2. Tries to make the other person feel weak for wanting the apology. For example, ‘If you really feel that strongly about it, then fine, I’m sorry’ or ‘I apologize if I offended you,’ or ‘I wouldn’t have cared if it happened to me.’
  3. Manipulates the person apologized to, usually in order to get something the apologizer wants. For example, ‘I’m sorry, can you please just drop it? If you tell x teacher, I’m going to…’
  4. Talks about themselves and how they’ve been affected by the situation and doesn’t take responsibility for their behavior.”1

When working with students these aspects should be keys to a false or insincere apology is taking place.


  1. The Power of Real Apologies in a Fake Apology World, Rosalind Wiseman, Rosalind’s Classroom Conversations, June 2014 https://www.adl.org/education/resources/tools-and-strategies/classroom-conversations/the-power-of-real-apologies-in-a-fake-apology-world
  2. Image: Logo-sorry-not-sorry-demi-lovato [commons.wikimedia.org]

Start a Gratitude Journal During COVID-19

“Gratitude is taking a snapshot of an outstanding moment and

 filing it away in your heart.” – Coach Bobbi

A lot of what we hear and see these days about the COVID-19 pandemic is frightening and upsetting. “Journaling is an amazing tool for working through your thoughts and emotions, which can be incredibly helpful during chaotic times like this.”1

“Writing helps to organize thoughts, facilitate integration, and helps you accept your own experiences and put them in context,” says Dr. Emmons, a professor at the University of California, Davis.2  “In essence, it allows you to see the meaning of events going on around you and create meaning in your own life.”

For instance, in all the confusion of what to touch or not, mask or no mask, what can I be thankful for?

In January I bought a glass “blessings jar.” Each night I write on a 1.5” x 2.5” index card a blessing from the day. Some days it’s easy, while other days are more challenging. Monday’s blessing was an iridescent hummingbird in our yard for the first time. As a back-yard bird watcher this thrilled me. Today was wild blackberry frozen yogurt.

Improve Your Health by Giving Thanks

Gratitude has not only emotional benefits, but physical benefits as well. People who practice gratitude consistently report a host of health benefits. Here’s five of them:

    • immune systems are stronger,
    • not as bothered by aches and pains,
  • blood pressure is lower,
  • get better sleep, and
  • have fewer symptoms of illness.2, 3

Choose a Journal

Choosing a journal sounds simple but there are many options available. There are gratitude journals that are just for this type of journaling. I prefer a traditional handwritten journal with lines. Sometimes I select a journal that corresponds with something going on in my life. Other times I may chose a religious one with bible verses written throughout. Sometimes I choose a fun journal, like my 34th journal I’m using now with adorable llamas all over the cover.

Computer Apps

Not only are there handwritten journals, there are awesome apps for starting and keeping a gratitude journal. Android & iOS

apps typically range from free to $4.99 but watch the free apps as some only allow so many entries and then charge for further use or charge for additional features or offer a premium app. Some apps charge a monthly fee. Will you journal on your smart phone, tablet, or desktop computer? Which would be more convenient? Before selecting your app, think about where you will be writing in it. I write in my journal at night in bed.

Schedule Gratitude

Decide how many gratuities you want to write each day and when you’ll actually write them down. I write one blessing each day. The most common number seems to be three, but I’ve seen as high as ten. Most people write every day, but I read several comments that writing every day causes burnout. Writing once or twice a week is more doable long-term. Try to be flexible with yourself. Don’t give up if you miss occasionally because you aren’t in the mood as this practice can help change your mood.

Challenge Yourself

If you find yourself writing the same gratitude over and over like your home, job, spouse or children, try to notice more subtle things. What do you appreciate about your spouse or children? What do you like about your home or job? You can find countless gratitude prompts on the internet. Here are 5 prompts you may find helpful if you get stuck.

  1. “What abilities do I have that I’m grateful for?
  2. What experiences have I had that I am grateful for?
  3. What have others in my life done that I am thankful for?
  4. What am I taking for granted that, if I stop to think about it, I am grateful for?
  5. What is different today than it was a year ago that I’m thankful for?”4

Go for depth over breadth

says author Jason Marsh. “Elaborating in detail about a particular thing for which you’re grateful carries more benefits than a superficial list of many things.”2

Gratitude to Others

Elizabeth Scott, stress management expert, reminds us that we don’t have to save our gratitude just for our journal. “Tell the people in your life how much you appreciate them. From people in your family to salesclerks and postal employees you encounter in your day, everyone likes to know that they’re appreciated. And their positive reactions can help put you in a positive mood, too.”5

Recently I told the postal delivery man thanks for delivering the mail every day. His response surprised me and made me smile. “I enjoy it so much I don’t even think of it as a job.” Who can you express gratitude to and for what?

The COVID-19 pandemic is frightening and upsetting; a gratitude journal may be just what you need to help not only see the meaning of the events around you but create meaning in your own life. What are you grateful for today?



  1. 15 Self Care Ideas for Coronavirus Quarantine https://www.lavendaire.com/staycation/
  1. Tips for Keeping a Gratitude Journal, Jason Marsh, November 17, 2011, berkeley.edu/…/tips_for_keepi…
  2. Eight Life Changing Benefits of Gratitude, Marelisa Fabrega, http://daringtolivefully.com
  3. 17 gratitude-prompting questions for your Gratitude Journal, Curt Rosengren, January 4, 2013, com › Energize your life
  4. How to Maintain a Gratitude Journal for Stress Relief, Elizabeth Scott, M.S., about.com/od/positiveattitude/ht/gratitude_journ.htm
  5. Image: Gratitude Journal [Flickr.com]

Stay Calm & Step Away During the COVID-19 Pandemic

With the onslaught of COVID-19 information it is easy to become worried and anxious. Some states are ending their stay-at-home orders while others are holding on. Here are a few tips on staying calm and stepping away during the pandemic.

Try to be a source of calm for your loved ones.1 It isn’t easy with the pandemic fear but the calmer you are in front of your loved ones, the better. Children especially are looking at trusted adults for their cues during this challenging time.

Feeling Thermometer. Dr. Aureen-Wagner  from The Anxiety Wellness Center has created a complementary Feeling Thermometer to download for assessing how you are feeling in the current moment. My scores seem to fall in the 4 to 7 range. My husband was fired eight weeks ago due to COVID-19 so that hangs heavy on my heart and makes some days more difficult. What’s your score today? It’s good to check your score every few days as circumstances change.

Limit Your COVID-19 Coverage Intake

Is it a Trusted Source? Geisinger Health & Wellness says, “There is no shortage of COVID-19 coverage to consume, and it changes moment by moment. Instead of constantly refreshing your social media feeds or staying glued to news coverage,  seek reliable information from trusted sources, you’ll feel well-informed and less anxious.”2

At first, it seemed that I was watching hours of news which resulted in worry and fear. Eventually, I chose one station and time of day to watch the news. I don’t have to compare multiple points of view but get the news consistently. That has worked much better for me. What about your consumption of the pandemic news?

Taking Breaks. “Taking breaks from the news helps distance yourself, even a little, from what’s going on and avoid getting overwhelmed.”2  Instead of keeping the news on constantly, spend time doing another activity. This will remove yourself from the bombardment of news that can be hard to dodge.

Effects of Screen Time. While we need to stay informed to keep ourselves and others safe, we need breaks from screen time. “Time spent with screens can cause us to feel dysregulated, anxious, and depressed.”3

Limit your Social Media

“Whether it’s the news, social media, or emails, stop consuming excessive content that adds to your fear, stress, and anxiety. There’s a fine line between staying informed and giving in to the ego that loves drama.”4

Effects of Social Media. “Take care of yourself by unplugging from the smart world; say goodbye to brain fatigue, eye strain, neck pain, disrupted sleep and loss of attention.”5

Finally, stay calm for your loved ones. Step back from the news and social media. Put your phone away for periods of time. “Create a calm and peaceful head-space where you’re not pulled into the craze and panic.”4


  1. Self Care during COVID-19. https://iocdf.org/covid19/self-care-during-covid-19/
  2. Make time for self-care during a self-quarantine, Published Mar. 18, 2020 https://www.geisinger.org/health-and-wellness/wellness-articles/2020/03/18/17/56/self-care-during-quarantine

3.   A Self-Care Alphabet for Week 4 of Quarantine, Doreen Dodgen-Magee, Psy.D., Posted Apr 10, 2020 https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/deviced/202004/self-care-alphabet-week-4-quarantine

  1. 10 Different Ways to Practice Self-Care, Emily Ferguson, February 24, 2020, https://www.trendymami.com/10-different-ways-to-practice-self-care/
  2. 15 Self Care Ideas for Coronavirus Quarantine https://www.lavendaire.com/staycation/

Be Gentle with Yourself and Those Around You During COVID-19

“We know that it’s important to show compassion for others, but how often do we show that same level of kindness to ourselves?” asks Emily Ferguson, author of 10 Different Ways to Practice Self-Care.1

Step back

Ferguson says, “Step back and remember that you are worth the love and care that you give others. Many think that practicing self-care is inconvenient or even selfish.” 1 As I began preparing the workshop Self Care for Educators During the COVID-19 Pandemic, I questioned if self-care is selfish even though self-care pushes us to be healthier versions of ourselves.

Self-care is defined as:

“Our ability as human beings to function effectively in the world while meeting the multiple challenges of daily life with a sense of energy, vitality, and confidence. Self-care is initiated and maintained by us as individuals, it requires our active engagement.” 1

“Times of high stress can bring out both the best and the worst in people

— it’s wonderful when it brings out the best, but it’s completely natural and understandable when it brings out the worst.” 2 Give yourself permission to cry. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re short with someone or you binge watch Netflix while eating ice cream. Be aware of your emotions. Forgive yourself for your shortcomings and apologize to others as necessary.

Resist the tendency to compare

Psychologist Dr. Doreen Dodgen-Magee says in Self Care and Covid-19: Getting Ready for the Marathon, “There are as many ways of handling difficult situations as there are humans. It’s easy, right now, to see what others are doing (and how they are seemingly thriving) and to compare ourselves to them. This is a time to work diligently to tend to your relationship with yourself.”3

Don’t take things personally

Dr. Dodgen-Magee also says in A Self-Care Alphabet for Week 4 of Quarantine, “This is the time to work hard to not take things personally.”4 Identify what you need from others. Be sure to communicate your needs specifically. Remember to give others space to respond based on their capacity to help.

The pandemic won’t last forever. Maybe now isn’t the best time to flourish. We can be healthier versions of ourselves later. Meanwhile, we need to be gentle with ourselves and those around us



  1. 10 Different Ways to Practice Self-Care, Emily Ferguson, February 24, 2020, https://www.trendymami.com/10-different-ways-to-practice-self-care/
  2. Self Care during COVID-19. International OCD Foundation,https://iocdf.org/covid19/self-care-during-covid-19/
  3. Self Care and COVID-19: Getting Ready for the Marathon, Doreen Dodgen-Magee, Psy.D. Posted Mar 19, 2020 https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/deviced/202003/self-care-and-covid-19-getting-ready-the-marathon
  4. A Self-Care Alphabet for Week 4 of Quarantine, Doreen Dodgen-Magee, Psy.D., Posted Apr 10, 2020 https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/deviced/202004/self-care-alphabet-week-4-quarantine
  5. Image:  empathy-4181896_Compassion friendship {Pixabay.com]



What is Working & Not Working During COVID-19?

“Take care of yourself and others” is a message I repeatedly hear on the news and commercials. Good advice especially during the COVID-19 Pandemic. But what is meant by self-care?

Self-care is, “Our ability as human beings to function effectively in the world while meeting the multiple challenges of daily life with a sense of energy, vitality, and confidence. Self-care is initiated and maintained by us as individuals, it requires our active engagement.”1

We all arrived to today through different journeys. For some, shelter at home means balancing work and family while for others it means no work at home due to job loss and everywhere in between.

By now you’ve probably tried some different things to make shelter at home easier. Some of the ideas worked while others were a huge flop. Enough time has gone by that its opportune time that we look at what is working for us and our loved ones and what’s not working.

Dr. Doreen Dodgen-Magee from Psychology Today states, “It’s important to do an evaluation of our daily and weekly patterns and see where our behaviors are helping us or hurting us. Once we’ve done this, we can begin to consider what habits need breaking and what new norms might help us in this next part of the journey.”2 Habits I needed to break were having time being bored with nothing to do, sleeping in late, and consuming too much news on the pandemic.

Dodgen-Magee goes on to suggest, “It’s always easier to establish healthy norms than it is to break bad habits.”Once we’ve developed a bad habit, it takes time to change the habit. It’s easier to establish a new habit than change a bad habit?

During my Peloton beginners bike riding class I take, the trainer talks about the importance of drinking water. Honestly, I drink way more soda than water. So, I’m replacing my soda with water. When I drink my daily allotment of water, I then can drink one soda. Most days now I don’t even want the soda. I’ve been able to replace a bad habit with a good habit. What about you? What bad habit do you need to get rid of? What new habit would be beneficial?

Another suggestion in Psychology Today is, “Ask yourself what activities are life-giving and self-soothing to you and schedule them on your calendar.” What have you found that gives you energy and sense of purpose? After lots of blank calendar days I realized I needed to have more structure to my day. One idea I’ve done that is life-giving is calling people I haven’t talked to in a while. At first, I was a little hesitant, but then I thought, if that person called me, I would be happy to hear from them. So, I’ve been calling. Many phone conversations last an hour. We’re connecting which is life-giving.

What’s working for you today during the pandemic?



  1. Fact Sheet Nine: What is Self-Care? September 2013. https://static.virtuallabschool.org/atmt/self/FC.Self_3.Environment_A1.WhatIsSelfCare.pdf

2.      A Self-Care Alphabet for Week 4 of Quarantine, Doreen Dodgen-Magee, Psy.D., Posted Apr 10, 2020,


Image source: light-4052946_1280 [Pixabay.com]


Mental Health During COVID-19 Pandemic

With the shelter-in-place orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the restorative practices staff at Youth for Christ are planning a webinar, Self-care During the Corona Virus. I did research and chose 10 tips for the workshop. I thought you’d find some of the information and tips helpful as well. But first, I found something surprising.

It’s been shown that a period of just two weeks in quarantine can be linked with serious mental health issues, which can include: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, depression, confusion and/or anger.1

Since it has already been way longer than two weeks, chances are some of us are already suffering from mental health challenges. Get some help if you notice:

  • “yourself feeling overly agitated,
  • losing interest in life,
  • withdrawing from relationships,
  • eating or sleeping too much or too little, or
  • experiencing other symptoms of depression or anxiety.”2

Reach out to a therapist near you (many are doing telehealth) or call the National Alliance on Mental Illness crisis line at 800-950-NAMI. Or call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255

Together we can do this. I know that for me the days seem really long. Call a trusted friend or share with your spouse or partner. We do not need to go through this struggle alone.


  1. Make time for self-care during a self-quarantine, Published Mar. 18, 2020 https://www.geisinger.org/health-and-wellness/wellness-articles/2020/03/18/17/56/self-care-during-quarantine
  2. Self Care and COVID-19: Getting Ready for the Marathon, Doreen Dodgen-Magee, Psy.D. Posted Mar 19, 2020 https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/deviced/202003/self-care-and-covid-19-getting-ready-the-marathon
  3. Image: covid-19-4971811 [Pixabay.com]


New Restorative Practices Book

Always on the lookout for new restorative practices resource books I’m delighted with my latest find, Restorative Justice in the English Language Arts Classroom. This five-chapter, 126-page book by Maisha T. Winn, Hannah Graham, and Rita Renjitham Alfred integrates restorative justice principles throughout as it applies to English Language Arts (ELA) classrooms.

I thought the book would be filled with assignments based on restorative practices for teachers to use with students, but the book offers so much more. It offers the philosophy and principles behind the assignment concept ideas.

There’s an extensive 23-page prologue on adolescent literacy that I found helpful yet disturbing. I’m disturbed “that 40 percent of high school seniors rarely write a paper of three or more pages, … the achievement gap between the reading and writing scores of white and students of color in 8th and 12th grades, and … the 4th grade slump in reading abilities” (p. xiii). I found the myths about adolescent literacy very insightful. The research-based recommendations for effective adolescent literacy instruction for teachers is spot on.

The book begins with “Teaching English in the Age of Mass Incarceration.” This short chapter offers hope despite the criminalization of particular children. The authors provide a solid foundation of why ELA teachers should care and how they can engage students in literacy for purpose and belonging.

“Restorative Justice in Educative Spaces” provides background in restorative justice in education methodology, that impacts entire school systems including English classrooms. Teachers of any grade or content area will benefit from this comprehensive chapter on the foundations of restorative justice. Why punishment doesn’t work is a strong section. The Relationship Matrix offers a different slant where people are viewed as objects and teachers have power over their students as opposed to people as subjects to be honored with unconditional acceptable and the power is shared “with” the students. Many of their excellent figures are offered through Living Justice Press as free resources. I’m making posters of each one for my trainings.

Being a researcher, my favorite chapter is “Using Our Curricular Powers: Pedagogy and Restoration in the ELA Classroom.” How does an ELA teacher integrate restorative justice principles into pedagogical practice? “Part of creating and reshaping narratives in classrooms mean accepting responsibility for the power that we as educators hold in creating spaces where students in our care feel that their ideas, opinions and personhood are valued,” (p. 49). Every chapter offers an “Into the Classroom” that features how one teacher applied the principles being taught. This chapters offers strong examples.

“Assessing Our Spaces and Ourselves” begins with the question, why do we send children to school? The short answer = opportunity. This chapter takes readers through a 3-step personal development self-audit. The remainder of the chapter examines learning contexts in the classroom.

The final chapter, “Transforming Writing Instruction: Where Do We Go from Here? suggests that restorative justice practices are a great place to begin. English education “…provides opportunity to engage in difficult dialogues

Four Appendixes support the chapters’ content followed by a notes section, annotated bibliography, references and an index. This comprehensive book for ELA could easily be adapted by educators in other content areas. The book strongly explains restorative justice and what those principles can look like day-to-day in the classrooms.