Message From The Counselors' Office
Andy Blum, LCSW-S EC and Lower School Counselor

The upcoming election is generating a lot of discussion wherever you go, and here at Levine is no exception.  We want our students to know that even when we disagree, we can still be kind, thoughtful, and respectful. With that in mind, the counseling team is being proactive and has adapted the 3rd-8th Grade curriculum to include topics such as how to communicate respectfully to each other, how to create a peaceful community when we have different points of view, and how to resolve conflicts with each other.  We will also be talking about having what the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) refers to as a Brave Space. A Brave Space is, "a space where everyone feels that they can contribute, that they will be heard and they are willing to challenge and be challenged." 

With so much happening in our world right now, our current Middahkavod (respect), has never been more important. How do you teach respect? Conscious Discipline first tells us that we as parents have to be good role models.  Think about how you show respect to your children. Do you take their things without asking? Do you threaten them? Think about how you model showing respect for your child's teacher or your significant other. Now think about having a political discussion and ask yourself, do you listen to the other person's perspective even if it is something you don't agree with? Children learn through watching you, so we have to be cognizant to what we are modeling for them.  

The next part of teaching respect is showing how to respond to something we perceive as disrespectful. We need to monitor our responses to our children so we don't act disrespectfully to them. Think about how you respond when they are not taking care of their things or if they speak disrespectfully to you. Do you threaten to take those things away? Do you yell at them to speak nicer to you?

A more effective way to respond in these situations would be to use the negative behavior as an opportunity to teach the child what you want to have happen. To use the Conscious Discipline approach of an assertive voice. To ask for what we need and create an image of the expected behavior in the child's mind. For example, "When we respect our things, we put them away in the closet. Show me how you do that."  

Becky Bailey, the founder of Conscious Discipline states, "The way to teach a child respect is in how we respond to what we perceive as disrespect." If we believe a child is being disrespectful to us, our reaction will be very different than if we believe that the child has not yet learned the appropriate way to ask for what he/she needs when frustrated. Most of the time, children are not deliberately being disrespectful, rather they are tired, hungry, frustrated or looking for attention.

For example, when we feel like a child is speaking disrespectfully to someone, we can model the behavior we want -- "I hear that you need help with homework.  Say to me 'mommy, can you please help me?'  Practice with me."

In our current climate in which we are inundated with negative messages all around us, we at Levine hope to create an environment that is safe, brave and respectful.