2018 Spring Kansas Child

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All about relationships

A publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas

Spring 2018 Volume 17, Issue 2














Executive Director

Child Care Aware ®

of Kansas

Kansas Child

is a publication of

Child Care Aware ®

of Kansas

Executive Director

Leadell Ediger


BWearing Consulting

Angie Saenger, Deputy


Publication Design

Julie Hess Design

On the Cover

Genesis Abigail Matthews,

age 4, of Salina.

Child Care Aware ® of Kansas,

1508 East Iron, Salina, Kansas 67401,

publishes Kansas Child quarterly,

which is made possible through the

financial support of the members

of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas and

sponsorships from our corporate,

private, and foundation partners.

Kansas Child is intended to provide

a forum for the discussion of child

care and early education issues and

ideas. We hope to provoke thoughtful

discussions within the field and to

help those outside the field gain a

better understanding of priorities

and concerns. The views expressed

by the authors are not necessarily

those of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas

or its sponsors.

Copyright © 2018 by Child Care

Aware ® of Kansas, unless

otherwise noted. No permission

is required to excerpt or make

copies of articles provided that

they are distributed at no cost.

For other uses, send written

permission requests to:

Child Care Aware ® of Kansas,

1508 East Iron, Salina, KS 67401

Kansas Child is distributed at

no cost to Child Care Aware ®

of Kansas donors. Single

copies are available

to anyone at $5 each, prepaid.

Sadly, greeting cards are a bit of a lost art,

but I love them. There is something special

about knowing someone took the time to pick

out a card, jot a message and then actually

drop it in the mail. Recently, I received a really

lovely card. On the cover, it read:

Close Your Eyes and Dream a Dream …

And Seek the Courage to Make it Real.

Reflect on the Past, Envision the future and

embrace today with an open Heart and Soul.

It was the perfect message for me.

Close your eyes and dream a dream …

Every year for 28 years my colleagues, our

staff, volunteers and partners have worked to

make our dream for Kansas children a reality.

The dream is a bold one. It’s big, it’s visionary,

it’s full of hope and promise. ALL children in

Kansas should enter school ready to learn!

And Seek the Courage to Make it Real.

At times, I believe we have been courageous,

working to change policy, to enact laws that

keep Kansas children safe and protected

while their parents are working. Working

to make child care a topic in boardrooms

and employment handbooks. Working

for recognition of child care teachers and


Reflect on the Past, Envision the future …

It does help to reflect on the past when

envisioning the future. Recently, our board

of directors completed a comprehensive

look at where our organization has been,

took time to evaluate our strengths,

weaknesses, opportunities and threats, and

then thoughtfully updated our strategic plan

through 2020. It’s always a good exercise, and

it feels good to have our path defined.

… and embrace today with an open

Heart and Soul.

But when it really comes down to it, the past

is past and the future is not certain, so what we

really have is today.

The Child Care Aware of Kansas program

staff are reading the book Inspired Work

Showing Up & Shining Bright by Erin Ramsey

(see her feature article on page 4).

And I was inspired, even before I

read a single chapter, because in her

acknowledgments, Ramsey gives her

wholehearted thanks to her early childhood

professionals and teachers! It was such

meaningful recognition of the powerful

work done by often humble people

who typically do not see themselves

as leaders who spark creativity and

lifelong learning skills.

Yet, every day they are helping

to construct the architecture

of children’s brains, teaching

them the enjoyment of

books, building their

curiosity. With an

open heart and soul,

they are creating

the foundation for

tomorrow’s authors,

doctors, firefighters

and teachers.

This issue of Kansas Child addresses a

variety of topics that look at the social/

emotional aspects of early childhood and

how those of us in the field are working to

support young children, their families and


Inside that greeting card it says: May

each day of the coming year be a gift that

you open with joy and gratitude!

I can’t think of a better way to approach

our work, or a better sentiment to share

with all of you!

p. 4

p. 14

p. 16


Joyful Life = Joyful Work............................4

The Triple P............................................... 7

Reaping the Rewards of

Workplace Flexibility................................. 8

Eye Contact & Body Language.................9

Building a Classroom Community

Through Circle Time............................... 10

Start Talking!............................................11

Unplug! Connecting with Baby...............12

Family Conversations..............................13

Responding to Trauma in Students....... 14

Learning with Our Heads, Hearts,

and Hands: The Family Project...............15

Recognizing and Encouraging

Resilience in Kids:

a Working Metaphor............................... 16

Motivational Interviewing


Choosing Empathy................................. 19

Highlighting Conscious Discipline........20

Book Nook: The Big R............................ 22

joyfulLife =


Author and

Inspirational Speaker

Erin has worked in the non-profit

sector for more than twenty-five years.

Beginning her career as a family child care

provider. She served as Executive Director

of a Child Care Resource and Referral

agency for twelve years and later the

Director of Early Childhood for the third

largest urban school district in Indiana.

She also led the statewide marketing

initiative for the QRIS in Indiana.

Erin is the author of Be Amazing:

Tools for Living Inspired, Be Amazing

Workbook, and Inspired Work: Showing

Up & Shining Bright. She speaks to

audiences throughout the country and

internationally to inspire others to

greater service. She lives in Kentucky on

her family lavender farm, Big Roots Farm.

10 Tools for Creating Vibrant Energy

Life can be stressful. Many of us feel like there isn’t enough time and too

much to do. Rushing, worrying, and feeling frazzled are all too commonplace. These

feelings and types of negative energy impact our families, our workplaces and our spirits.

The good news is that with a few easy-to-use tools we can learn to make new choices

in how we respond and transform the way we are living. We can create more fun in our

lives, develop positive relationships and begin to see new possibilities.

We are intended to live joyously and abundantly. We can learn to focus on what we

want; not what we don’t want. Here are a few tools to get started:


Look for Beautiful Moments.

Look for beautiful moments during

your daily activities. It can be

anything: someone’s smile, seeing people

hug, watching a child laugh, listening to

a bird sing, a ray of light coming in the

window, a good song, feeling soft sheets or

a warm towel out of the dryer. Beautiful

moments are all around us. It is in the

noticing that they become beautiful. It is

in the noticing that we become present.

Give energy to the beautiful.


Create a Goodness Jar. As

you notice beautiful moments,

write them down and put them in

a Goodness Jar. My Goodness Jar is from a

consignment shop and sits on my kitchen

table with a pen and scrapbook paper close

by so my family can write their beautiful

moments down, too. It is so fun to read

them periodically or celebrate at the end of

the year. You can do this in the breakroom

for your team at work, in your classrooms,

or with your own family. Focus on

beautiful moments and then

treasure them.


Expect the Best and Give

Others the Benefit of the

Doubt. When we expect

the best, we are breaking down

our defense mechanisms

that protect us from

disappointment, fear of

failure and rejections.

When we give others

the benefit of the doubt

we are helping them

break down their

defense mechanisms

of rejection,

failure and


These two


expecting the best

and giving the benefit

of the doubt, are


4 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas


interchangeable in creating a higher level

of energy for yourself and for others.

We don’t have to be afraid and doubtful.

Expecting the best and giving the benefit

of the doubt is the fastest road to an open

mind and an open heart. It feels good

to be optimistic and kind. When we feel

good, we welcome more joy into our lives.


Watch less news. Finding

positive ways to nourish your

mind creates joy. The information

we let into our minds can be

compared to food. If we

eat healthy

and stay


we will be



have more energy. The same goes for

what we let into our minds. If we wake

up and read positive things and think

about the contributions we would like to

make for the day, we are off to a healthier

start. If we end our day with proactive,

self-consideration and positive reading

material we are nourishing our minds

as we go to sleep. Watching news in

the morning and the evening interrupts

opportunities for you to generate joy in

your life. Constant bad news drains our

energy and distracts us from our purpose.

Be informed, just don’t be consumed.


Laugh harder and more

often. There is a plethora of

research on how healthy laughing

is for the body and the mind. Laughing

gets your blood flowing; it releases

endorphins, relaxes your body and boosts

your immune system. Laughing gets us in

a better mood and inevitably spreads joy to

those around us. We all like a good laugh,

but most of us wait for something funny

to happen or for a funny thought to

come to mind.

About twenty years ago I saw a story

on television about a laughing club

that would meet to laugh together. I

tried to make myself laugh by making

funny noises and fake laughing sounds.

It worked. I looked in the mirror and

literally cracked up! I started doing

it with my children and their

friends, which led to lots

of laughter. Try it

in your

classrooms, around your dinner tables

and with yourself. Laughing is our hearts

singing. Make your own funny. You will

have more fun.



in Gratitude. Gratitude is

the fastest way to create more joy in

your life. A woman who attended

one of my workshops created a “Joy Door.”

She put up a sign with “Don’t Postpone Joy.

Find Joy Every Day,” and each one of her

family members puts something up on the

door every day. She told me that even if

her kids were struggling to find something

joyful they would talk it out and dig deep

to write something down. When you focus

on what you are grateful for you tend to

focus less on the things that drain you.

Build Gratitude Practices into your rituals.

You can also create a Gratitude Line with

string and clothes pins. Hang what people

write or draw that they are grateful for.

This is a joyful way to decorate a hallway,

classroom, or for a party.

Tell people what you admire or are

grateful for about them. Write down what

you are grateful for. Find at least one thing

every day. You will have more vibrant

energy and you will create more good in

your life.



Smiling a Habit.

Smiling creates presence and

presence brings joy. You can build

a habit of greeting your daily routines

with joy. One of the first steps in creating

more joy is ensuring your mood is good.

Practicing and intentionally smiling at

yourself and others is an essential tool for

Continued on page 6

www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 5

Continued from page 5

improving your mood and thus creating

joy. Building a smiling habit throughout

your daily routines will bring a “top of

mind” awareness to how you are feeling

and what you are projecting. Both of these

are directly related to how you are living

and what you are welcoming into your life.

If we want more joy it is essential to feel

good and be open. Smiling is a catalyst for

these things

Every morning when you rise, say out

loud or in your mind, “Thank you for

another day.” Walk into the bathroom and

while you are putting toothpaste on your

toothbrush, smile and say out loud or in

your mind, while looking straight into your

eyes in the mirror, “Good morning, good

looking!” Do this even if you are exhausted,

stressed out or dreading the responsibilities

of the day. This habit will help you change

the way you navigate for the rest of the

day. Depending on your mood, you may

think it is funny or you may think it is the

stupidest thing ever. It doesn’t matter what

you are thinking, do it anyway; build a new

habit in the morning. Slap on a big smile,

wink, give yourself thumbs up, make eye

contact with yourself and greet your spirit

and your day in a new light.


Be a Giver. Enter life with the

most important question: How can

I serve? Look for ways to help, to

contribute, to support and encourage. Be

brave by sharing your gifts and talents and

opening your heart. This does not mean

give until you have nothing to give. This

means you give from a place of abundance.

A place of joy and love. You enter places,

conversations and situations with a lens of

what you have to offer, not what you are

going to walk away with.

If you want to be happy and feel valued,

focus on giving.

If you want to be promoted and offered

better opportunities, focus on giving.

If you want more doors to open and

the right people to come into your life,

start giving.

Create win-wins. Approach situations,

decisions, and actions in a manner that

makes sure there are no losers. Win-wins

bring everyone to a positive energy level!

Being a giver doesn’t mean being a

doormat. A doormat lets people run over

them. A giver identifies what their greatest

contributions are and shares them. A

giver is open to receiving but doesn’t act

in order to receive. The giver’s actions are

aligned with her values, vision and legacy;

not what she can get. When we align our

actions with our values, vision and legacy,

we will be given tenfold.



Things You Enjoy. Pay

attention if you are not enjoying life

because you think you don’t have

enough money, time or support. Flip the

switch and shift your focus by taking steps

to enjoy life. Begin with small things. As

you practice, big beautiful enjoyment will

become a part of most of your days. The

hard days will still arrive, but they will

depart way faster. Think about what you

can do right now to start bringing more

enjoyment into your life. Try not to make

excuses by blaming money, time or people.

Insert opportunities to create joy

throughout your day. It can be having

your most favorite uplifting song ready

on your playlist when you get in the car,

or a beautiful mug for your coffee. It can

be a full bear hug for a family member or

fresh-cut flowers on your desk. It could

be a clean and organized workspace at the

end of the day or your favorite pajamas.

Remember to do the things you enjoy.


Be Hard to Offend. Put

your energy and your focus on

what you are doing and how you

are responding, not what others are doing.

If we are busy thinking about what “so and

so” did to us or what “so and so” didn’t do

for us or what “so and so” took credit for

or what “so and so” said, we are draining

our energy. We are literally handing our

joy and optimism over to “so and so.”

Stop wasting your energy on “so and so”

and start investing it in your vision, your

values, your legacy and your purpose.

Being hard to offend doesn’t mean letting

people walk all over or say abusive things

to you. Being hard to offend means that

you don’t take everything personally. Don’t

get distracted from your joy.

Let joy be your guide for work and life.

Joy isn’t knocking down your door, but it

is waiting for you to open it. Joy can’t be

taught; it can only be shared. Joy comes

from the inside.

Can you think of anyone that you know

who comes into a room and lights it up

with their energy? A person with a feeling

of refreshing, light-hearted kindness who

helps everyone feel and think a bit brighter.

Maybe you are that person, but if you

aren’t, you can be. You can choose what

you bring into the room. Let’s try to create

a larger pool of people who are lighting up

rooms and people. It begins with you.

Think about what you are talking about.

Is it full of judgment about people and

wrongdoings? Is it ideas and possibilities?

Are you complaining about traffic and

the weather when you get to work? Or

are you talking about a beautiful moment

you experienced that morning? Are you

talking about solutions or creating more

challenges? Make your conversations less

about what show you watched and more

about something you are going to do. Be

active. Be humorous. Be learning. Be

accepting. Ask questions.

Use joy as a guide in deciding how you

spend your time.

When making a decision about what

to do, ask yourself: “What would bring

me and those around me the most joy?”

Think about joy at home and at work.

Will watching trash TV or playing a

board game with my children bring the

most joy?

Will zoning out on my phone or talking

with my partner bring the most joy?

Will watching trash TV or playing a board game with my children bring the most joy?

Will zoning out on my phone or talking with my partner bring the most joy?

Will approaching a new assignment as an opportunity or a burden bring the most joy?

Will approaching a new assignment

as an opportunity or a burden bring the

most joy?

Sometimes joy feels like how exercise

feels to a lot of us. Once we do it we are so

glad; it’s just a matter of busting through

the mental blockades or bad habits and

doing it.

Do joy! Everyone wins, especially

children. n

The tools in this article are excerpts from Erin’s books,

Be Amazing: Tools for Living Inspired and Inspired Work:

Showing Up and Shining Bright. www.erinramsey.com

6 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas

The Triple P

Positive Parenting

Program® (Triple P®)


Building Blocks Program

Director, Russell Child

Development Center

During my time as a toddler

teacher, I was asked more than once by a

parent, “Will you potty-train my child?” It

was usually said in a joking manner, but

with a look of panic on the parent’s face.

Gently, I would explain that we could not do

it for them, but that we would support them

in their journey, backing up strategies used

at home and offering suggestions of things

that we had observed to be effective. The

parent and child worked together to figure

it out, and in the process, built a stronger

bond with each other, rather than with us,

which was precisely the goal, aside from the

practical aim of successful toilet training.

The Triple P – Positive Parenting

Program® (Triple P®) offers a structured

framework to accomplish these same goals.

Parents may choose to work on a specific

goal, such as potty-training, tantrums, or

sharing; they may want to learn general,

effective parenting strategies; or they may

want do more intensive parenting coaching.

No matter which path a parent chooses,

they all lead toward “developing positive

relationships, attitudes, and conduct,”

(www.triplep.net). The parent-child bond is

strengthened, and families learn and grow

together in a positive environment.

Through an Early Childhood Block Grant

awarded by the Kansas Children’s Cabinet

and Trust Fund, Russell Child Development

Center (RCDC) has systematically

introduced and implemented Triple P® in

19 counties in Southwest Kansas. Over

the past several years, providers have been

trained in various levels of Triple P®: Level

1 is a public awareness strategy designed to

reach the general population with positive

parenting information; Level 2 provides

general strategies in a short, group format;

Level 3 is more focused on an issue or

an aspect of parenting that a parent finds

challenging; Level 4 can be offered in a

group or individual format and covers

Triple P®’s 17 core positive parenting skills,

which can be adapted to a wide range of

parenting situations; Level 5 offers intensive

support for families with complex concerns.

In addition, Triple P® can be adapted to

meet the needs of families with children

with special needs, families going through

a separation or divorce, or other specific

situations. (Information about levels

adapted from www.triplep.net).

RCDC connects with parents in various

Katrina Lowry is the Building Blocks

Program Director at Russell Child

Development Center, overseeing the ECBGfunded

Triple P Positive Parenting Program,

Learn & Play Parent Child Interaction

Groups, and HealthySteps Program in 19

counties in Southwest Kansas. Katrina

lives in Garden City with her husband and

her two (very spoiled) dogs.

ways. Sometimes a parent hears a radio ad

and calls for more information. Sometimes

parents are referred by a community agency

or partner. However, we have found that

our best advertisement is word of mouth.

Once a connection is established, a Triple

P® coach works with a family to identify the

best level and format of Triple P® for them; a

Triple P® coach then works with the family

one-on-one, in a group, or supports them

in completion of Triple P® Online, a recent

addition to the Triple P® suite of offerings.

The successes that parents and children

experience with Triple P® are inspiring

and range from increased confidence in

parenting to reunification of families.

Parents work hard, and we are proud to

support them as they reach their goals.

For more information on Russell Child

Development Center, visit www.rcdc4kids.

org. For more information on the Triple

P – Positive Parenting Program®, visit www.

triplep-parenting.com. n

www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 7

Control schedule: personal time off

Sick leave: includes family

Reaping the Rewards of



Within human services,

we regularly tout the importance of

investing time with children and family.

At The Family Conservancy (TFC) we

want to practice what we preach. Not

only is it important to demonstrate our

commitment to our own employees, but

we strive to lead by example and show

other employers what implementing this

philosophy looks like. We’ve even found

that by implementing some simple workplace

benefits that encourage our staff to

prioritize their families, they are often

more engaged while at work.

Providing flexibility has proven to be

one of the greatest tools in improving

employees’ perception of work at

TFC. We’ve accomplished this through

a generous leave allowance, a broad

definition of family, and allowing staff to

compress and flex their work weeks. We

attribute our average annual turnover rate

of under 10 percent to these benefits.

Knowing they can take time off, or shift

their work week so they can take their

child to a doctor’s appointment or pick

their child up from their preschool or a

care provider, gives our team members

the freedom to focus more fully on their

tasks while at work. When they don’t fear

being penalized for meeting their own

family needs, staff feel more secure, and we

believe it improves services to the families

TFC serves.

The flexibility to control their own

schedule scores highest on TFC staffs’

satisfaction surveys every year. Though

the amount of leave may seem high by

industry standards, we have found that

our staff are passionate and want to do the

work, and we don’t want to stifle the fire

in their hearts. By allowing employees to

have more control of their schedules, they

can do the work that they love, and can be

with the ones they love when needed.

With a broad definition of family, our

staff can use their sick leave not only for

themselves but for anyone they consider

family. New staff are often amazed that

sick leave is not just for their own sick

days, but also to care for loved ones when

they are ill.

In recent years, TFC began offering paid

medical leave for staff who have an FMLA

Flex work week: Pick up from provider

8 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas


SHRM-SCP, Human Resources Director,

The Family Conservancy

(Family Medical Leave Act) qualifying

event. They can accrue up to twelve full

weeks of paid leave in under two years.

Some employers might allow full pay

for maternity leave, and others also have

begun to include paternity leave, but we

felt it was important to also allow leave

for all FMLA situations; we feel our staff

deserve to have some support for those

times as well.

These ideas might seem basic, but

employers often fear staff will take

advantage of such generosity. At TFC,

we rarely see staff exploit these benefits,

and we get the added bonus of retaining

the knowledge and experience of our

skilled staff – our average tenure is

almost nine years. That tenure saves

resources. It reduces the time needed

for hiring and onboarding new staff,

reduces the lower productivity during

introductory and training periods, and

retains the knowledge and quality of

our early learning and behavioral health

professionals. There is an investment of

money and trust, but the rewards have

proven worthwhile.

Granted, not all employers can offer all

these benefits. Some positions require a

certain number of people available at a

certain time, and the options for flexing

within a week are limited. But offering

consideration for employees to spend

time with their family when needed goes

a long way in having all employees feel

appreciated. n

Eye Contact &

Body Language

By Angie Saenger, Deputy Director, Child Care Aware® of Kansas

Eye contact and body language play an important part

in everyday conversations and interactions. Think about

important parts of your day where you interact with others

-- meetings, shopping at the grocery store, child care drop-off

and pick-up, or at dinner with friends or family.

Take the opportunity to step back and observe these

important interactions. Pay attention to the nonverbal

behaviors and eye contact skills of other people. Focus on the

details, and take note of how eye contact and body language

influence, both positively and negatively, the tone of the

exchange. You may even pick up some new strategies you’d

like to try!

Most research and statistics indicate that the majority of

communication is carried out through body language. In

some reports it is as much as 60%!

Think about that, and keep these tips in mind when you are

visiting with friends and family:

Keep your arms open -- not crossed;

Sit in a neutral position (feet on the floor)

or stand facing the person;

And keep your cellphone in your pocket or purse.

Finding a healthy, comfortable eye gaze during

conversations can make a big difference in how connected

someone feels to you and possibly even the topic you are

discussing. Effective eye contact will go a long way in

demonstrating that you are actively listening. n

www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 9

Building a Classroom

Community Through Circle Ti

Ms. Kayla walks

over to the rug and invites

the children to come and sit

down with her. The children

soon make their way over and

she starts to sing the “The

Morning Song,” a welcoming

song to start the beginning of

their circle time. The group

exchanges smiles and giggles

with each other as they all clap

their hands and sing. Then

Ms. Kayla calls on each child


Tyra stands up, and the class

begins to sing to her, “Tyra’s

here today, Tyra’s here today,

we‘re so glad that Tyra’s here,

‘cause Tyra’s here to play!”

Feeling acknowledged by her

peers, Tyra smiles and sits back


The narration above

illustrates one way circle

time can be used to build

a community while also

acknowledging each individual

child. Circle time is one of

the few moments out of the

day that the classroom is

together as a whole, much like

a community. In order for a

classroom and a circle time

to function properly, teachers

need to be intentional when

using this time to establish

connections with one another.

The tone for Ms. Kayla’s

circle time was set by starting

with a welcome song. As she

continues the rest of circle

time, her plans for the group

are centered on meeting the

needs of each child so their

experience together feels

positive and successful.

Ms. Kayla decides

the activities for her

circle time based on



expectations she

has determined for each child

in her class. She specifically

considers the children’s

attention spans as well as their

personal interests. Making

circle time meaningful to each

child will increase the chance

that children will choose

to participate. By offering

choices to children (where to

sit, what songs to sing, etc.)

children have opportunities

to be active participants in

their own learning. Though



Lead Infant/Toddler Teachers,

Project Eagle/Educare

Emily Rios is a lead infant/toddler teacher at Project Eagle/

Educare Kansas City. She graduated from University of Central

Missouri with a B.S. in Child and Family Development. Emily

has been working with children ages birth-6 for 10 years and is

passionate about teaching young children by building on their


Lauren Bowser is a lead infant/toddler teacher at Project

Eagle/Educare Kansas City. She graduated from Kansas State

University with a B.S. in Early Childhood Education. Lauren is

passionate about taking advantage of teachable moments in the

classroom and creating a strong classroom community.

10 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas


individual child expectations

may be different, Ms. Kayla

keeps consistent the location,

order of activities, and

transitions in and out of circle

time. This allows children to

learn what comes next and

what is expected of them

during the different parts of

circle time.

Ms. Kayla makes it a priority

to reflect on past circle times

in order to ensure that her

current circle time is best

meeting the needs of each child

and her class. Below are some

questions she considers during

her reflection:


Are there parts of circle time

that feel more stressful?


Are certain children more

engaged than others?


Do children ever leave circle

time? If so, when?


Where is circle time



Do children participate more

when standing or moving

their bodies?

The teachers and children

are enjoying the current circle

time routine, but there will

inevitably come a time for

change or improvement. Ms.

Kayla will need to reconsider

the above questions and

make revisions to the routine

in order to successfully

continue building a classroom

community. n

Start Talking!

By Christi Smith

Quality Initiative Director, Child Care Aware ® of Kansas

Meaningful conversations build trust, which is a key foundation for

relationships and promotes children’s development.

Children learn best by interacting and communicating with their

friends and family. Think beyond a simple “yes” or “no” question,

and beyond the standard “fine” answer. By simply adding the word

“why,” you expand the discussion to allow for more back-and-forth

exchanges. These exchanges set a great example for children as

they begin to develop their own skills for learning about others and

to identify their own feelings, thoughts and opinions.

Meaningful conversations can happen throughout any day. Try

visiting during transition times, which can be stressful. Other key

times could be during handwashing, family-style meals, at drop-off

and pick-up, or in the car ride to the latest event.

Try to focus on a strategy that can reduce stress and promote

development. Here are some questions to get the conversations



What is your favorite silly face to make? Silly sound?


What are two things that you were thankful for today?


What is your favorite day of the week? Why?


What is your favorite letter of the alphabet? Why?


What is your favorite thing about yourself?


If you were an animal, what animal would you be? Why?


What is your favorite fruit? Vegetable? Why?


What is the best thing you have ever smelled?


If you could have dessert for breakfast what would you eat?

Be ready for lots of giggles. Hopefully, some of these questions

will inspire children to think of their own questions. Children are

social by nature and need healthy interactions

with people who care about them.

www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 11


M.S., CCC-SLP, is a Speech-Language Pathologist at

Arkansas Children’s Northwest, Springdale, AR.

Sarah Lanning provides diagnostic and therapeutic

services to children with a variety of medical

conditions that might impact their communication

and feeding skills. She believes it is her professional

goal, responsibility and passion to promote positive

communication skills for children of all ages.



Amazingly, the desire to communicate with the world

begins from day one, when our babies first use their voices to

announce their arrival, soon followed by cries telling us when they

are hungry, sleepy, hurting, or in need of a diaper change.

Before long, their ability to communicate expands: they express

pleasure through a social smile, cooing, babbling, and laughter

(4-6 months); they express anger or frustration through crying,

shouting, and pouting. Babies respond to their environments

when hearing new sounds and perk up when they hear their

names. Soon, they are imitating sounds and facial expressions and

listening intently to the sounds that their caregivers are making (8

months). They enjoy social games and rhymes such as Peek-a-Boo

or Patty-Cake and can entertain themselves (and their parents) by

producing long strings of babble in what seems to be their own

language (10 months).

Next comes the excitement of baby’s first words (Will it be mama

or dada?), along with gestures and pointing to indicate their wants

and needs (12 months). By this time, our babies have developed

their own personalities and, in most cases, their communication

skills expand by leaps and bounds as they head into toddlerhood.

We may grimace when every request is returned with an

emphatic “no” and/or roll our eyes after being asked “why?” for the

tenth time, but secretly, we are delighted to know that our babies

are gaining confidence, independence, and curiosity.

Perhaps what parents of newborn babies take for granted is

that all of these communication “milestones” are learned. While

evidence suggests that the human brain is wired for development

of language, it does not happen spontaneously. Babies learn to

communicate, and are motivated to communicate, by human

interaction. They connect with their caregivers through smell,

touch, eye contact, facial expression, modeling, and imitation.

They thrive on social interaction, and they respond to the feedback

that they receive from the people close to them.

This is why I am dismayed at the babies and toddlers I see every

day who are interacting not with their parents, but with their

parents’ phones. It seems that the ubiquitous smart phone has

become the new entertainer, distraction, and bribing tool for our

babies and toddlers. While it may serve these purposes, it is not

providing our children with foundational motivation and skills for

communication and socialization.

Moreover, too much and/or poor quality “screen time” has

been linked to a number of concerns, including poor sleep habits,

12 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas

with Baby





Hold your baby in a position that allows her to make eye

contact with you while you recite nursery rhymes or sing songs.

Use exaggerated facial expressions and vocalizations, and

notice how she intently watches your face and mouth. If you do

something she seems to enjoy, do it again!

Celebrate vocal play! Your baby is exploring his voice, his

lips, and his tongue, just like he explores his fingers and toes.

Make sounds with him to demonstrate low and high, soft and

loud, even nonvocal sounds such as raspberries and tongueclicking.

Don’t worry about bothering the people next to you …

chances are that those sweet sounds will bring a smile to their

faces and memories of special times with their own children.

When your baby smiles, coos, or babbles, consider this an

invitation! Respond to her by saying things like, “I hear you!

Tell me more!” or “You got my attention – let’s play!” This is a

foundation for conversational turn-taking skills.

Share books and toys with your baby. Use simple

language with gestures to describe how you are playing, e.g.,

“Shake, shake, shake!” with a rattle; “Up! Down!” with a ball;

“Look! Bird!” and point to pictures in a book. When your baby

points at something, be sure to affirm his action and build his

vocabulary skills by giving him the word for it. “Truck! You

found the truck!”

Talk with your baby about familiar routines as you do

them. Daily events like snack time, bath time, getting dressed,

diaper changes, and trips to the grocery store provide perfect

opportunities to engage and connect with your baby, expand her

vocabulary, and help her to explore her world!

And the phone? Use it if you must – but only to share in a

pretend conversation with baby!

reduced play skills, behavioral problems, and childhood obesity.

The evidence of these side effects is so great that the American

Academy of Pediatrics recommends that from birth to 18 months,

children have zero screen time (with the one exception of video


Parents, take heed of these recommendations! I assure you,

your children will get plenty of screen time in their lives. Use this

precious time when they are totally dependent on you to teach

them the art and joy of interpersonal communication.

Above are a few simple things you can do to connect with your

babies anywhere, anytime – no electronics required! n

I have had the opportunity to be a parent in some difficult

conversations. I have also been on the other side of those

conversations as a teacher. I have worked with families who

have children with special needs as well as parents of typically

developing students, where I have needed to be a part of a

difficult conversation. Sometimes it was about behaviors that

needed attention. Other

times the conversations

were more significant,

such as dealing with

learning differences and

needed interventions for

student success.

No matter which

side you are on, some

conversations are just


As a preschool teacher,

I start the year focusing

on the most important

part of teacher–parent

relationships --

communication. I make a

commitment to regularly

share with parents and ask

parents to commit to open

communication with me.

Most of my interactions with parents are positive

and encouraging. However, there are always those

“other” conversations.

My first rule of thumb is to NEVER surprise a

parent or catch them off guard. I start a conversation

with them at the first sign of concern, instead of

waiting and just and hoping things get better.

I am careful not to under- or overreport

concerns, but instead, just communicate the

facts. Parents will either listen and understand,

or they may deny. If they are listening and asking

questions, I try to be honest without going into

too much detail. An overwhelmed parent can

be a concern, too. A natural tendency for some

parents is to deny there is a problem. That is

understandable. I try to be patient with parents as

they hear news that might be difficult.


Teacher, Trainer

and Consultant

Beth Reeder has been a float for

preschools, classroom teacher in

public education, and in middle

management for Head Start and

Rainbows United. She is currently

teaching 3- and 4-year-old children

for Wichita Collegiate School. Beth

has a training and consultation

business, Make A Difference

Training, where she trains early

childhood professionals in a threestate

area. She also teaches for

Butler Community College.





In addition to the conversations I have with parents, I

am careful to keep records that include complete and accurate

documentation. When sharing concerns with parents it is

important to make sure there is good documentation of what

I have seen or experienced with a student. There have been

times that I have taken pictures of the student, so the parents

can see what I’m seeing. With the appropriated documentation

many parents will, in time, come to understand concerns. n

www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 13

Responding to Trauma in Students

The study of Adverse Childhood

Experiences, known as ACES, is becoming

increasingly important in the world

of education. Creating safe learning

environments that rely on care and support

has been shown to be more effective in

producing high school graduates than

simple, punitive approaches to discipline.

In the Abilene Public Schools, our

teachers are learning about what it means

to be trauma informed – that is, how the

adverse experiences that students come to

us with can often result in outward acts of

defiance and classroom disruptions. For

many decades, the school-based response

to these behaviors has been to impose

punishments in the hopes that behaviors

will change.

What we are learning is that punitive

school discipline frequently replicates the

trauma that some students experience

outside of school, which not only produces

more negative behaviors, but can also

cause a child to lose the sense of safety that

a school should provide. Reinventing the

purpose of school discipline plans requires

education and training, so that supporting

the emotional needs of the student, while

reinforcing their value as people, becomes

the primary role of school discipline.

Over the last three years, the Abilene

Public Schools have been implementing

Positive Behavior Intervention Systems,

or PBIS. In short, this approach to school

discipline requires two main areas of focus.

First, school staff is trained to identify

and then immediately recognize the

behaviors that promote good citizenship

and learning in school, such as acting

respectfully, following directions, and

making good decisions. Second, the school

continues to utilize its traditional behavior

plan, where inappropriate behavior may

result in disciplinary consequences. When

necessary, this reinforces the societal

expectation that consequences result from

poor behavior. When done in tandem with

a PBIS, the nature of those disciplinary



dropped by

81 %







dropped by

87 %

conversations are supportive of student

growth, even though discipline has to


At Abilene High School, the use of a

PBIS, which began in the spring of 2017,

resulted in a dramatic decrease in negative

behaviors. Compared to the previous


Principal, Abilene High

School, USD 435 Public

Schools, Abilene

Ben Smith has been an educator in

Kansas for 21 years and has served as

the principal at Abilene High School since

2010. He currently serves on the board of

directors for the Quality of Life Coalition,

and was a four-year representative on

the board of Learning Forward Kansas.

14 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas

Learning with Our Heads,

Hearts, and Hands

The Family Project

spring, we experienced 153 fewer Office

Discipline Referrals (ODRs). In-School

Suspensions were reduced by 81%, and

Out of School Suspensions dropped by

87%. In total, for the 2016-17 school year,

the amount of increased student contact

time was equivalent to two brand new

students enrolling in Abilene High School,

and not missing a single period of class

for an entire school year. Interestingly, we

showed dramatic increases in ACT scores,

and posted a graduation rate of 95%.

There is still much work to be done,

but teachers in our schools have seen

the potential of what a trauma-informed

approach to learning can do for students.

For more information, visit the Centers

for Disease Control and Prevention,



For an inspirational visit to one

of the pioneers in trauma informed

schools, visit https://www.facebook.com/

PaperTigersDocu/ n

We have a long shared sentiment

among parents, students, community

members and school district

personnel in our community: “We

get to know students better in our

small school than we could in a

larger school.” But believing this was

true wasn’t enough. We wanted to be



Bennington Grade School

even more intentional about this strong belief and put it into practice!

The Kansas Social, Emotional and Character Education Standards aligned

perfectly with this belief. The Family Project is where we started as a basis for a

new curriculum. The three themes of this project focus on character development,

growth mindset and team building. All themes are supported with already

developed activities and books that are assembled by the leadership team. This has

eliminated the need for a lead teacher to develop a curriculum. The curriculum

focuses on the following ideas: learning with our heads, hearts, and hands, to be

caring and civil, to make healthy decisions, to effectively problem-solve, to be

respectful and responsible, to be good citizens and to be empathetic and ethical


So, our journey began. To create the “Family” environment, we blended groups

of students, preschool through 6th grade, with a lead staff member (classroom

teacher, administration, or support staff). After we assembled the groups, the

“Families” were made. We then were able to begin the curriculum.

Each group meets at least once a week. During the initial family meetings, the

families establish unity by creating family handshakes, family waves and a family

crest, which can be seen on walls and windows throughout the school. A rotation

has been established so each of the families work on the themes and activities from

the curriculum. The rotations continue throughout the school year, ensuring all

curriculum themes will be completed by each of the families by the end of the

school year.

To strengthen our commitment to getting to know our students, the families will

remain together until the student graduates to junior high. New students entering

Bennington Grade School will be added to existing families. The group structure is

a great opportunity for older students to mentor younger students during activities.

With this type of structure, continuity for the students and adult is a primary

focus. They will be able to build relationships with each other and form a true

family bond. It is exciting to see the kids and staff smile at each other as they see

one another between family meeting days. Sometimes that one little exchange can

make a difference for a child. Like Dr. Seuss says, “To the world you may be one

person; but to one person you may be the world.” We want to make this experience

something that the students will remember and enjoy every day. n

www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 15

Recognizing and encouraging Resilience

Robert Brooks, Ph.D., a psychologist

from Boston, has done a great deal of

work on the topic of resilience. He

noted, “Our strategies to motivate

youngsters unintentionally

result in our punishing

suffering children rather

than helping them develop

a sense of self-worth and


A number of years

ago, Brooks coined a

metaphor, Islands of

Competence, which

I found very useful

in terms of helping

me to look beyond

the deficits

that typically

prompted a

referral to

the mental

health center.

Islands of Competence was presented in a

context citing resiliency as being “linked

to a sense of optimism, ownership and

personal control.”

Throughout my career, I have

been continually impressed

with the capacity of many

people to cope with and

even thrive in the

face of significantly

adverse events.

Some of these

were parents

who managed

to work and

provide for

their family


their own



of abuse

and neglect.

However, even

so, some were roundly

criticized for how they managed their lives.

One parent I can remember worked as

a “masseuse.” She was sexually abused as

a child and adolescent, didn’t complete

high school and actively used marijuana

(later telling me that she came to a number

of family therapy sessions when she was

high). Her children had been removed

from her care after the older boy set the

house on fire while playing with matches.

Yet despite having no models for being a

parent, and experiencing the negative

judgment of the court, she clearly

communicated a deep

16 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas

in Kids - a working metaphor



love and affection for her boys. Our work

was easier and successful for that reason.

Her resilient nature helped provide a

caring home for her children, though not

in a way that was consistent with the

values of many people around her.

Another memory is that of

a 5-year-old girl whose

mother murdered

her older sister

and attempted to

suffocate her. She

was brought

to therapy to

help her deal

with that


It didn’t

take many


to help her

get past the


and some



but we

spent a



of time


on her aggressive and even

rebellious behavior.

Frankly, I was thrilled

to work with her and her

guardians on those issues,

simply because that quality

was what kept her alive in a

situation many of us would

not have survived.

These examples illustrate what I think

of as inherent resilience – that is, people

who seem to have an inborn quality,

that allows them to combat the effects

of trauma. Their management may not

conform to a generally accepted manner,

but it demonstrates their coping capacity.

Looking for and finding this capacity is

essential as we work with the children

entrusted to our care and skill.

This emphasis helps those of us who

work with children to look past the

presenting behavior for elements of

resilience. Part of this process has to do

with our presence. Nearly every child

who develops into a resilient person

has an adult mentor/role model. Brooks

cites Emmy Werner’s description as:

“a person in their lives who accepted

them unconditionally, regardless of

temperamental idiosyncrasies, physical

attractiveness, or intelligence.”

In addition to the unconditional

acceptance cited here, there are a number

of specific steps we can take to promote

our mutual awareness of the strengths and

capacity of children. A question I learned

to ask right after hearing the recitation

of the “problem statement” (a phrase I

learned in graduate school) was, “What

are you good at?” A common reaction to

this question made it clear that the child

(and sometimes the parents) had trouble

thinking about him/herself in positive

terms. The focus on “the problem” made it

difficult for both the child and the parents

to think in these terms.

When it was difficult for the child

or parent to respond, I would look for

descriptions of preferred activities that

provided clues about the child’s interests

and abilities.

Once the initial strengths have been

identified, it is important for the adult to

comment, typically restating what was said

by or about the child. However, it seems

important to make that restatement in

a direct and “businesslike” manner. An

over-the-top “Gee-Whiz, that’s great!!”

reaction frequently undermines the

impact. Restating it in a way that suggests

John Presley, MSW, has worked in juvenile

justice, child psychiatry, residential treatment,

pediatrics and community mental health. He

retired from Central Kansas Mental Center

after 24 years. He focused on work with

children and families throughout his career.

the child’s strengths come as no surprise

reinforces the notion that you suspected

that the child always had it in them to do

something positive.

Finally, it becomes important to include

the identified strengths in the planning

for whatever is to take place in the school,

center or wherever the child is being

engaged. Using the strengths as a starting

point allows the child some degree of

control and freedom to grow on his or

her terms.

There are several benefits to taking

this approach of identifying the Islands

of Competence. The first is that children

start to see themselves as capable people,

something that may be a very different

experience for them. Secondly, parents

and even professionals change their

perspective from seeking out the problems

to starting out with an assumption that

the child has abilities that deserve to be

recognized and can be used to promote

their development.

Discovering the Islands of Competence

builds a larger model of competency that

carries over into managing life’s routine

issues, which can minimize an emphasis

on “problems” and maximizes the mindset

of capability.

Finally, the idea of developing a model

of strength-based work is simply more

pleasant for all concerned. Constantly

attending to failures/problems wears

people down emotionally.

This model allows tension to be reduced,

problems to become manageable and

promotion of a positive, life-long approach

to the issues that confront us all. n

www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 17





Motivational Interviewing Overview

Motivational Interviewing (MI) is a collaborative, personcentered

communication style that strengthens a person’s internal motivation and

commitment to make behavior changes and reach their goals. MI is an evidence-based,

effective strategy to enhance communication including workplace and stakeholder

relations as well as improving family communication.

Motivational interviewing is centered on communicating effectively with others in

a meaningful, nonjudgmental and accepting manner by building rapport and creating

a mutually respectful and collaborating relationship. The communication exchange

consists of foundational skills of OARS: Open-ended questions, Affirmation, Reflective

listening and Summarizing statements, all while maintaining the spirit of MI.

The spirit of motivational interviewing is essential. The spirit acronym is ACCE;

Autonomy (every person has the right to decide what’s best for them), Collaboration

(it’s a two-way relationship), Compassion (belief in the wellbeing of another human

being) and Evocation (eliciting from the other persons the changes being made). The

spirit is the calm, reassuring friendly affect.

Here is an example of the spirit of MI. Think about someone who made a profound

difference in your life; who is your all-time favorite person? It may have been a teacher,

coach, parent, grandparent, relative or a friend. What qualities and characteristics

made him or her your favorite person?

Your list may include: they accepted you unconditionally; they wanted what was best

for you; you trusted them; they cared about your wellbeing; they listened to you when

you went through a difficult life experience; you knew unequivocally that they were in

your corner; or they believed in you when no one else did. Take a moment and reflect

on the way your favorite person made you feel. That feeling is what having the spirit of

MI is like.

Motivational Interviewing provides strategies that make communication purposeful.

MI provides a comfortable and collaborative experience for engagement with a goal of

eliciting change. Motivational Interviewing can be learned in a variety of ways; from

a 1-hour overview to a two- or three-day skill-base training. To become proficient in

MI, it takes practice.

“Motivation can be understood not as something that one has, but as something that

one does. It involves recognizing a problem, searching for a way to change, and then

beginning and sticking with that change strategy,” (Miller and Rollnick, 2002). n



Bridgette Franklin, MA, PHR, SHRM-CP owns

a Motivational Interviewing Training and

Consultation business and is a member of

MINT (Motivational Interviewing Network

of Trainers) - International. In 2016, she

was selected to attend UCLA as one of ten

MI practitioners from the U.S and Puerto

Rico to participate in the first “Motivational

Interviewing in a Group Setting” training for

trainers. Franklin has trained practitioners to

be MI trainers for agencies across Kansas. She

is currently working on her doctorate degree

in organizational leadership. Bridgette can be

reached by email: franklinbiz@msn.com.


Miller, W. & Rollnick, S. (2013). Motivational Interviewing:

Helping People Change (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Guilford


Miller, W. & Rollnick, S. (2002). Motivational Interviewing,

2nd Edition: Preparing People for Change, New York, NY:

The Guilford Press.

18 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas

Choosing Empathy

I confess I have not always been

a fan of empathy. I felt few deserved

the effort involved with “walking a mile

in their shoes.” Plus, I was afraid to


take on the problems and heartache of

Research Project Specialist,

others and end up miserable myself. I

KU’s Center for Public

thought the safer ground of giving

Partnerships and Research

sympathy, holding one at arm’s

length while wishing them well, Stefanie Olson works at KU’s Center for

was just fine. Even sympathy I Public Partnerships and Research. She is the

doled out sparingly, preferring coordinator and a trainer for the Lemonade

to assign blame.

for Life program. Lemonade for Life teaches

helping professionals to use the ACEs

My journey toward a life

questionnaire as a tool to promote healing

lived with empathy began from trauma while using hope and resilience

with my daughters’ baptism. to build a bright future.

Baptism at our local UCC

church included an oath to

“see in your child’s face all the children of the world.” I felt this was a pretty

tall order. Surely I was not expected to love all kids as much as I loved my

girls. Sympathy would do. I could think good thoughts for those other children

but keep my heart and energy saved for MY girls.

So I pledged with a false heart. Over time I heard many other parents make

this same promise, and these words began to worm their way into my psyche.

Continued on page 21

www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 19





Early Childhood Educator

Maridee Armstrong has been an Early Childhood Educator for 37

years at the former Salina YWCA, Heartland Programs and currently

as a Social Emotional Coach for Heartland Programs. She also

teaches at Cloud County Community College. She has an Associate

Degree in Early Childhood, a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary

Education and an endorsement in Early Childhood Special Education

from Kansas Wesleyan University. She has been incorporating

Conscious Discipline in her work and her personal life since 2003.

Conscious Discipline is

a comprehensive, multidisciplinary, and

self-regulating program that integrates

social-emotional learning, school-home

culture and discipline. It is based on

internal resources of safety, connection

and problem solving, instead of external

rewards and punishment.

Conscious Discipline is also based

on current research that indicates that

our internal state dictates our behavior.

Fostering the emotional intelligence of

the adult first and the child second is the

premise that makes this program successful.

The program is skill-based and designed

to help adults to resolve conflicts and

enhance brain development by creating

optimal and safe learning environments.

It supports self-regulation in ways that

strengthen relationships instead of

destroying them. It helps children build

respectful relationships within themselves

and others.

“Stress and trauma are crossing all

ethnic and economic lines with grave

effect on health, learning, social-emotional

development and brain development,”

according to Dr. Becky Bailey in her

2015 book, Conscious Discipline Building

Resilient Classrooms. Conscious Discipline

is designed to teach effective

social-emotional skills and

embed resiliency into

the environment

to counteract

the stress and

trauma that are

so prevalent in

our society.

Child care


teachers and

parents have a

tough job. Our


society has been instrumental in creating

children that demand instant gratification

and are disconnected because of trauma

and stress in their lives. The need for new

tools in our tool belt is crucial to working

with children and their families. Building

connections creates trust and respect

with children and families. Connections

have four important components:

1. Being present with your child

2. Eye contact with your child

3. Some kind of touch

4. Being playful with your child

Basically, these connections are

telling your child, “I notice you.”

Connections stimulate the

impulse control center in the

brain. This helps a child be

aware of their helpfulness

and contribution to their

family and community. The

connection given to a child

enhances their ability to sustain

attention. Someone is noticing

them and cares about them.

Through connection, children

become more willing partners

with adults and peers. All

learning progresses from

that willingness.



Discipline the

adult learns

new strategies

to respond

from their


lobe, which

is the highest

center of the



brain, and where the best decision making

occurs. When a child is having a tantrum,

they are operating from the lower center of

their brain, called the brain stem. The adult

can begin to model a calm state for the

child and thus bring them up to the higher

centers of their brain where they can make

better decisions.

Understanding that we must first change

20 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas


ourselves and model our expectations for

others is a very good first step. Change

doesn’t happen overnight. In her book,

Easy To Love Difficult To Discipline, Dr.

Bailey reminds us that, “Discipline is a

lifelong journey, not a technique. Enjoy it.”

I encourage you to visit the website at

www.consciousdiscipline.com, where you

will find many helpful resources. n

Continued from page 19

Ultimately they began to change me from

a sympathetic bystander to an empathetic

participant in life.

This oath, and empathy in general,

is about choice and action: will you

see? If I decide to see your child’s face

when I look at my own dear child, I

immediately know them and can make

an empathic connection I didn’t formerly

value. Though circumstance may be

very different for your child and mine,

their essence is very similar. In knowing

my own child’s fragile body, tender

emotions, irrational fears, spontaneous

joy, boundless spirit, I know your child,

too, and he or she touches my heart.

Judgment and blaming, tools that make

it easy to stay in the land of sympathy,

are hard to summon when evaluating the

worthiness of a child.

It is a small leap from seeing the shared

humanity of our children to seeing how

we as parents are bound together. The

emotional depths and daily challenges

of loving and caring for a child are so

varied that there is little of the human

experience that is not lived as we parent.

Whether parenting through crushing

disappointment or the most glowing

pride, I have been there and know

how that feels. Blame is slippery when

discussing parenting since there are no

experts in this game!

Eventually, I began to see in my

daughter’s face the one child that I still

judged harshly -- myself. Loving my

children unconditionally through their

struggles and having them love me as I

fumbled through parenthood allowed me

to forgive my own shortcomings.

Alas, we all were children, so this net of

empathy can be cast wide! Rather than

finding my life paralyzed with sharing the

sorrows of others, I found truly standing

with others involves participating in

more joy than sadness. Nothing in

the definition of empathy restricts our

being there for each other only during

hard times. If we can lay aside the fear

that feeds the distance of sympathy

we can also lay aside the jealousy and

competitiveness that prevents us from

sharing in the good.

Now, I embrace a life of empathy. By

seeing the whole world in my daughters’

faces, my heart has known and imagined

harrowing sorrow but also known more

joy than I ever thought possible. n

www.ks.childcareaware.org Kansas Child 21



Alice Eberhart-Wright, Child and Family Specialist

I call it the Big R – RELATIONSHIPS. I don’t

have to go running to the library for books to review

today because my collection of children’s books is

full of stories of relationships.

How do we help children

become compassionate, caring

adults? Through stories – told,

listened to, and read. Here are

some of my new favorites.

The Pillow Fairy was

written by Marcia G. Riley

and illustrated by Joni E. Patterson, two Kansans.

It’s a delightful story about a 3-year-old who would

not sleep in his own bed. His mother helped him

do that by making up a story about the pillow fairy,

who left a little gift under the pillow of a child who

was able to stay in his own bed all night. Obviously,

this author knows how hard that feat can be for

some young children and how the adults caring for

them have to know how to turn on the magic to

help children take a developmental step that seems


I Love You, Little Monkey, by Alan Durant and

illustrated by Katharine McEwen, is written as much

for adults as for children. It’s all about adults needing

to get everyday tasks done while the children just

want someone to play with them. When an adult

is busy with some necessary chore, the child will

amuse him or herself by doing something that

either undoes what the adult has accomplished or

creates a new, time-consuming job. Children seem to

particularly enjoy an activity that invariably breaks

something or makes a mess. Sometimes this is very

hard, but we have to teach them to be sorry while

helping them understand that we love them, but

sometimes not their choices. In this delightful book

the little monkey throw all the figs Big Monkey has

gathered for dinner, jumps on the bed Big Monkey

has carefully made, and climbs and lands on Big

Monkey when he’s trying to take a nap. Then, by

some miracle, Big Monkey talks to

Little Monkey and he apologizes. Big

Monkey forgives and plays with him.

One more important thing, Big Monkey

apologizes for yelling at Little Monkey.

What a monumental task for parents

and teachers! Use discipline to teach

rather than punish. And, notice that

Big Monkey is a he, not a she. We have

moved beyond thinking that it’s only

mothers who do household chores.

Billy Tibbles Moves Out! is another

story about relationship challenges

that routinely occur in the course of

development. Billy Tibbles is a darling little

boy cat that is supposed to welcome his

little brother, Eric, into his personal space.

He doesn’t want to, and storms around the

house insisting this will not happen. He

will show his parent. He would rather sleep

in the bathtub or move out to the shed. He

protests sharing bedtime stories with both

Eric and little sister, Twinkle. Then the 3

little kittens find they can find some fun in

the midst of all their fighting and anger. They

can be wild and noisy, cling together

when there are scary things, and

begin to create havoc for parents.

Dad is not sure he wants to share

all this noise and commotion in

his haven of a home, but the kids

remind him that he has to share,

too. Time, space, different needs –

all are part of being a family.

What about the babies? The Big

R is all about relationships. Any

board book, a lap, and time to

encourage and develop babies’

skills to learn words, turn pages,

and begin real communication is

all that is required. Find the time

to do it, frequently. n

22 Kansas Child A Publication of Child Care Aware ® of Kansas

Earn a teaching license

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and the lives of children

Our online and on-campus bachelor’s and master’s programs in Early

Childhood Education B-K Unified (early childhood education/early childhood

special education) uniquely prepares qualified teachers for the classroom.

• Utilize loan deferments and scholarship programs

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Always on. Always there.

VISIT global.k-state.edu/early-childhood




SALINA, KS 67401


PO Box 2294, Salina, KS 67402-2294


Call Toll Free 1-855-750-3343

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