Intervention Strategy #2: Model Problem-Solving Skills

Adults can offer verbal and/or physical help to model problem solving. This helps students recognize and name feelings, identify problems, and come up with ideas for solving the problem, and try possible solutions.

Four Steps to Problem-Solving1

  1. “Acknowledge the problem. ‘Tim has the ball, and you want to use it.’
  2. Ask guiding questions. ‘Have you asked Tim to give you the ball?
  3. State a solution or physically demonstrate. ‘Tell Tim that you would like to use the ball when he’s finished.
  4. Summarize the problem-solving approach for student. “‘Next time, you want to use the ball, you can try to remember to ask to have a turn.’”

Whether the problem relates to playground balls or interacting with others, modelling problem-solving methods shows students different ways to overcome obstacles. “As children become more familiar and experienced with this process, they can be encouraged to generate suggestions or alternatives of their own.”1



  1. Guiding Children’s Behavior. BC Health Planning, 2003. 
  2. Image:

Intervention Strategy #1: Re-direct

My husband and I have seasons tickets to Fresno State football games. On game day, certain streets are only one way while others may be closed to thru traffic. Cars and people are re-directed to help the traffic flow better. Re-direct defined is the action of assigning or directing something to a new or different place or purpose.

Re-direction is the second of two strategies that is underused. Some educators mistakenly think that they have to “punish” all behavior. Re-direction is one way to guide without punishment.

With students, change the situation that is contributing to inappropriate behavior. Re-directing provides information and redirects student how to do the same activity in a more acceptable or safer way. Redirection can offer an alternative, suggest a safer way of deal with emotion in an acceptable way. Redirection is most effective when “consistent” with the student’s motives, interest or needs. It may quickly resolve problems or conflicts. Ask yourself: What is the student’s motive, interest or need? The biggest three behaviors that are easily redirected are throwing, running and digging.

Correct Re-direction

Situations Redirection
1.        Digging in flower

garden or around trees

2.        Throwing ball

dangerously near


3.        Throwing something

because of


1.      Offer an alternative. “You can dig in the school garden area,” or “You can dig in the sand box.”

2.      Suggest Safer Way. “You’re too close to the portable window. Throw your ball over here so it won’t break the window.”

3.      Deal with emotions in acceptable way. “I know you’re angry. You can throw the ball against the ball wall or do punching in the air.”


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Prevention Strategy #10: Be Alert to Total Situation

Use the most strategic positions for supervising students to ensure their health and safety. Observing the total setting involving students is essential to effective guidance. Proximity: stay close by when younger children are still learning to play together. Keep moving! Activities can change constantly.

Be Alert

Observe and engage students in activities. If you’re alert, you’re in a better position to anticipate potential difficulties. Can step in to prevent problems. If you see something you need to report to a teacher, write it down so you don’t forget. It could be an ongoing behavior challenge or an observed success that a student finally accomplished such as a new social skill. Carry a pad of Post-it Notes and pen or pencil for jotting down quick observations.

Incorrect Educator Response

Two educators are hanging out talking to each other about the latest movie they saw while ignoring students who are shoving each other and calling each other names.

Here’s How to Use Strategic Positions

Rotate and cover specific areas weekly or every other week. Why? First, it is equitable. The same person shouldn’t get the easier or nicer roles like an area that’s shaded when it’s hot or the area that no one likes. Second, rotation prevents boredom which often results in lax discipline and inconsistency. At one site I was told that they couldn’t rotate because they had less experienced educators. Ultimately, the goal is to get everyone trained and competent in supervising every area, so rotation is possible.


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Prevention Strategy #9: Ignore Minor Incidents

This is the first of two strategies that is way underused. Sometimes parents and educators think that they must intervene in every situation which is simply not true. “Adults who work with young children need to develop tolerance for a certain amount of noise, clutter and attention seeking behaviour. As long as children’s activities are not infringing on the rights of others, it is often best to ‘take a breath’, rather than to speak.”1 If you consistently ignore attention-seeking behaviors, they typically stop.

Can and Can’t Ignore

What types of behaviors can parents and school staff ignore? Attention seeking behaviors, such as: whining, interrupting, petty arguments, making disruptive sounds, pouting, and sulking. Behaviors that don’t infringe on others. What behaviors can’t parents and educators ignore: dangerous and destructive behaviors, bullying, hurting self, hurting others, or damaging property.

How to Ignore

  • Temporarily stop paying attention to your child or student.
  • “This means no eye contact, no talking, and no physical touch.
  • Look the other way, pretend you don’t hear him and act as though his behavior doesn’t annoy you.”2
  • When the behavior stops, pay attention to student.

Correct Response

Child: Makes silly sounds.

Adult: Temporarily stops paying attention to child. No eye contact, no talking, no physical touch.

Child: Stops making sounds

Adult: Pay attention to child. Look at child, use eye contact and say, “Hey, it’s good to see you today,” or some other friendly recognition.

Which of your children’s or student’s behaviors can you ignore?



  1. Guiding Children’s Behavior. Island Health. August 2014.
  2. Morin, LCSW Amy, Reduce Attention-Seeking Behaviors by Ignoring.
  3. Image: Ignore Point []

Prevention Strategy #8: Reinforce Appropriate Behavior, With Words and Gestures

Give positive attention for good behavior rather than negative attention for inappropriate behavior. Focus on specific behavior, rather than on the student. Tell students what they’re doing right. Acknowledge through words and/or gestures.

Focus on character traits, such as: responsibility, perseverance, civility, courage, respect, initiative, compassion, honesty, loyalty and others. “Positive reinforcement helps children build self-confidence and encourages students to repeat desired behaviors.”1

Incorrect and Correct Responses

  • Rather than saying, “You’re my best helper.”
  • Say, “When you sweep the floor, it makes our house cleaner. That shows responsibility.”
  • Rather than saying, “Good job.”
  • Say, “I like that you asked Samantha to join you in four-square. You’re showing compassion.”
  • Rather than saying, “Way to go.”
  • Say, “I appreciate your telling me the truth even though it was hard. You demonstrated honesty.

How do you reinforce appropriate behaviors with your children?



  1. Guiding Children’s Behavior, BC Health Planning, 2003.
  2. Image: behavior highway sign []

Signs Your Child Has a Bad Teacher

empty_classroom 284164

Your kids started the school-year not that long ago. Yet your child is already complaining. Is the problem your child or the teacher?

Although children can create behavioral challenges, teachers can also instigate problems. Your child may complain that the teacher yells. A teacher who yells is out of control. The louder the students get, the more the teacher yells and grows angry.

Yelling and Fear

This can create fear in some children, not to mention being poor teaching practice. My daughter complained about this one year, but when I helped in her classroom, the teacher raised her voice slightly in a stern voice. My daughter perceived that as yelling. However, typically when children report yelling, the teacher is out of control.

Softer and Quieter

Good teachers know that the noisier students get, the quieter the teacher’s voice gets. A “look” works better than a raised voice. The teacher also gets closer to the disruptive students. For example, a group in the back is rowdy. The teacher walks near the group and softly says, “I need this group to stop talking and listen.” Most of the remainder of the class doesn’t even hear and class goes on.

Negative Treatment

If your child complains about how the teacher treats students, the teacher may be labeling or embarrassing children. Such actions as put-downs, belittling, sarcasm, labeling “stupid” or “slow,” or making fun of children are all completely unacceptable and demonstrate a lack of respect for children.

Teaching Styles

Teachers have different teaching styles that your child may need to adjust to; however, being treated disrespectfully is one of the most common ways the teacher is the problem. Maybe the teacher refuses to model the lesson more than once.

What’s the Real Story?

If you sense there is a problem, don’t go to the principal or the school board. Speak directly to the teacher. If it is still unresolved, you can then ask to speak to the teacher’s supervisor. Remember, you always want to get both sides of the story. By listening to both your child and the teacher, you can obtain accurate information. Then you’re prepared to make the best decisions for your child.

How have you handled the situation when your child complains about a teacher?


Image Source: empty_classroom 284164 []

Back to School: Study Tips

[] Kay Pat homework-1481153

Children are already back to school. Here’s some tips for parents to help their kids begin homework.

Habits Begin Early

Children typically start getting homework in kindergarten. Many teachers send home a packet for parents to complete with their children during the week and return on Friday. The homework time is about 10 minutes per day for four days.

Some Families Ignore Homework

Unfortunately, many kindergarten teachers I know report that a large number of families don’t do the homework with their kindergarteners. If parents don’t begin establishing an important homework routine during kindergarten, their children will most likely struggle academically as school doesn’t seem to be a priority for these families.

Transition Time After School

Children need time to play and eat a snack when they get home from school or at their after-school programs. Just as parents need time to transition from work to home, children need this transition time as well. They’ve been in school all day and they need a break from academics. After an hour or so, they can do their homework.

Monitoring Homework

For first through third grades, parents will need to monitor their children’s homework time. Restrain from doing the homework for your children. Have a designated area for homework. Many families use the kitchen table or counter. Keep school supplies nearby for convenience. This also helps children stay on task as they’re not roaming around trying to find supplies. Its best to turn off the television and electronics so children can focus better. Active children need to do 15 minutes of homework and take a break. Then they can do another round of 15 minutes.

Transition Year

By fourth grade, hopefully the after school or evening homework routine is strong enough that children can start being accountable for initiating their own homework time. Fourth grade is a critical transition year for children. They go from cooperative learning in kindergarten through third grade; whereas, in fourth grade, the students do more individual work. Parents must make sure their children are making this transition successfully and continue to ensure that the child is doing his/her homework.

What works best for homework in your home?


Image: Kay Pat homework-1481153 []

Teach Ethical & Moral Values: Reducing Negative Peer Pressure for School Age Children

The third tip for parents in reducing school age children’s negative peer pressure is teaching ethical and moral values that will last their children a lifetime. 1

Code of Ethics

As a college child development professor my students wrote their own code of ethics. What ethics and moral values do you live by? What character traits do you desire for your children to emulate? Your children are already learning your values and ethics by observing what you say and what you do. Do they match?

Your Children’s Values

Then consider what you consciously want them to learn. When our girls were little we began reading stories based on character traits, such as honesty, courage, and responsibility. Learning about values continues through elementary school, especially as children study historical figures.

Ethical Dilemmas

When school age children are faced with ethical dilemmas such as lying to keep from getting in trouble or telling the truth, what will they do? What about cheating or letting a friend “copy” his/her homework? Many children perceive what adults may call cheating as “helping out their friends.”


Some families rely on Biblical principles or religious beliefs for teaching morals, values and ethics.  For example, what’s the difference between right and wrong? Our society teaches moral relativism. An Old Testament Proverb says, “It is by his deeds that a lad distinguishes himself if his conduct is pure and right. 2

Saying, “No.”

The fourth tip is setting limits that tell your children you care enough about them to say “no.” 1 In an increasing permissive society, saying, “No,” is often the exception. Parents can help their children refuse negative peer pressure by establishing rules that are followed regularly. Setting boundaries helps your children learn how to set boundaries with their friends.

Know Children’s Friends

The fifth parental tip for helping school age children reduce negative peer pressures is get to know your children’s friends. Encourage your children to invite friends over to play. Let them hang out with your family in your home or attend activities together. Observe how they influence each other. This will help you learn about your children as well as their friends.


Appropriate adult involvement and supervision are important. “Strong parental presence has a protective effect against peer pressure…when children are appropriately supervised by adults, and adults are actively involved in their lives, both at a physical and emotional level, they are less susceptible to peer pressure.” 3

Open Your Home

Commit to keeping your home open, no matter what your children “drag” home. I’d much rather know the friends my children are drawn to and learn what’s behind their wild hair or outrageous clothing than make assumptions. Many nice kids are hidden behind these exteriors. Implementing these three tips gives parents more tools for helping their school age children reduce negative peer pressure.



  1. Adolescent Rebellion Can be Quelled, 
  2. New American Standard Bible, Proverbs 20:21
  3. Peer Pressure: Why it seems worse than ever and how to help kids resist it, Malia Jacobson, August 29, 2013,
  4. Image: ethics-2110583_1280 []

Seriously, the Phone Book?

“Seriously Mom. You’re going to use the phone book?” While contemplating the Yellow Pages’ value, my daughter types in Papa Murphy’s, our zip code, and locates a coupon…all on line. In seconds, she’s ordering our garlic chicken pizza and cookie dough. I’m still wondering where I left my phone.

“My six-week-old granddaughter is going to grow up without knowing about phone books,” I mutter.

“When she’s older, she can use it as a booster seat,” my daughter jokes, trying to make me feel better.

I don’t feel any better. How different will my grandchildren’s lives be from mine? How different than their parents’ lives? My two-year-old granddaughter has a “game” on her Grams’ phone, a recent Child Development Professor. “How did I allow that? That’s not developmentally appropriate,” I chastise myself.

Yesterday my four-year old grandson inquired, “Grams, where’s the video?” as I strap him in his car seat.

“Gram’s car doesn’t have one. We can talk,” I proudly reply.

Moment’s later my daughter directs me to Kylie Ann’s one month photos. “Just use the mouse and click on each photo,” she explains.

“It won’t work on the glass.”

“Just use the phone book,” she chuckles. “Now there’s a use for your phone book.”

For a minute, I feel a little better. My phone book is still useful!

I return to my thoughts. My grandchildren won’t even know that phone books existed. What a different world they’ll live in; probably just as different as my childhood was from my great grandparents’ childhood. They didn’t know what telephone phone books were either.


Image source: old-phone-3077296_[]


Adolescents are Like Blossoms

Blossoms, blossoms, blossoms. Everywhere I look I see delicate buds bursting into full bloom. Pink blossoms appear surreal against the blue sky. White blossoms cover the ground like snow. No matter the color they’re simply stunning.20160221_161122

When I drive my car or ride my bike alongside miles of blooming trees they seem to blend together and appear the same. But on closer look the trees are not alike. Yes, they may be all almond trees or cherry trees, but the trees display differences.

When I take snapshots of blossoming trees at stoplights or jump off my bike to photograph a glimpse of spring I can clearly see the differences. My macro lens captures God’s minuet blossom designs.

Blossom Differences

Some trees are loaded with blossoms. It appears spring arrived early for these trees laden with heavy braches. I imagine the trees producing an abundance of food.

And then there are the ordinary or typical blossoming trees. They aren’t loaded with blossoms. Evidence of blossoms appears on most every branch. I’m not an agriculturalist, but I imagine some might say, “This is what normal almond trees [or cherry trees] look like.”

20150228_105627Perhaps other trees were notified late that spring is here. Their branches are just beginning to display sporadic blossom clusters. Eventually the tree will become full of blooms, just later than the already fully blooming trees.

Types of Adolescent Blossoms

These three types of blossoming trees remind me of adolescents’ physical development. Some adolescents blossom early. They’re in full bloom long before their peers. Some happily bloom, while others bemoan their early blossoms.

And then there are adolescents whose blossoms are not abundant nor are they just beginning to bloom. Their blossoms match growth charts for typical or normal development.

Finally, there are adolescents who bloom much later than their peers. While some peers are in full bloom these adolescents are just peeking at adolescence. They are just beginning to bloom which is why they’re often called late bloomers.

Parents and Their Blossoming Kids

How do parents cope with their blossoming adolescents? My husband and I are among the few parents who looked forward to our daughters’ adolescence. We both possess years of experience with youth and understand that adolescence is synonymous with change, not only for adolescents but for parents as well. Watching our daughters bloom into who God created them to be provided countless milestones to celebrate with them.

Fear and Dread

However, the majority of parents dread their child’s adolescence like the plague. Parents say, “I’m scared. I hear so many horror stories. I wish I could just protect them and keep them little.”

Realizing they can’t keep their kids from growing up, they believe they can deter challenges by keeping their kids super busy. Their reasoning is, “If my kids’ days are spent doing homework, club activities and playing sports they can avoid pitfalls and negative influences.”


A small group of parents are extremely uncomfortable with their adolescents’ physical changes and respond by over-controlling everything their child does. They fear potential possibilities, like choosing sexual activity, becoming pregnant or getting someone pregnant, or getting an incurable STI (Sexually Transmitted Infection). In reality this strategy often backfires resulting in more challenges than if they’d helped their kids face adolescence in a healthy way.


Parents who are overly religious or ultra conservative are particularly susceptible to making sexual development seem evil, and sex as something to avoid. They treat the naughty topic as a hush-hush. But today’s 21st century kids know better than that.20160221_161102

God’s Ideal

The ideal is for adolescents to be aware of their maturing sexuality, to feel good about it, and to gradually develop meaningful relationships with the other sex. They need to know that their body changes are a gift from God that will ultimately culminate in sexual intimacy with their future spouse.

Suggestions for Parents

Here are some suggestions to help parents positively deal with adolescents’ changing physical development. Parents need to provide accurate information before adolescents begin blossoming. If parents renege on this responsibility, what will children learn from others? Will it represent parents’ values and beliefs?

Adolescents need assurance that their changing bodies are a “normal” part of growing up. They need encouragement and freedom to talk about their changing bodies, express their fears and ask questions. If parents aren’t available, where will they find answers and acceptance?

Parents may become paler than the white spring blossoms if they dare to bring up the subject of body changes. They may blush the color of pink blossoms. But it’s not too late to accurately teach pre-adolescents about their changing bodies. No one can communicate the information with their values as well as parents.

Helpful Resources

Fortunately, there are many resources for parents who are uncomfortable or uncertain about how to approach their children’s physical development. For help on teaching healthy sexual development refer to my resource list for both adolescents and parents at