A growing body of research is finding that grit, self-control, and a growth mindset can have a strong influence on the academic achievement and emotional well-being for children and teens. Furthermore, these qualities have been found to be the “secret sauce” to their success. In this workshop, participants will learn the latest research, as well as strategies, that promote these characteristics.
Well-being and social emotional skills are SKILLS that can be taught. Furthermore, SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGISTS are uniquely positioned to be leaders in delivering this work in schools. In this workshop, participants will learn about different models of delivering social emotional learning and well-being skills in schools. Differences, similarities and best practices across programs will be discussed. In addition, participants will learn about the innovative well-being programs that I have used in my school. Get ready to walk away with meaningful ways to benefit your students, staff, and yourself.
It is the second day of the state math test at Harrison Avenue Elementary School in Westchester County, New York. Persee, the perseverant puppy mascot, sits on top of the smart board in a third grade classroom, a reminder to students of the instruction they have been given throughout the school year that “perseverance pays off!” When faced with a challenging question, Persee reminds these third graders to exhibit an optimistic mindset, use flexible strategies in the face of obstacles, and to treat themselves with kindness and compassion.
What is happening at Harrison Avenue, the elementary school where I work as a school psychologist? And, more importantly, how did we get here?
Persee is part of a transformation taking place where I work as a school psychologist. Our school has joined a larger movement of schools committed to teaching not only academics but also character strengths like kindness, mental flexibility, grit, and self-control. Together with classroom teachers, I am teaching what kindness looks like in each grade, why self-control and grit are important, and how flexibility and problem solving can be used when facing an obstacle.
As part of the fifth grade service club, our fifth grade students are learning more about service. And what better way to give back than to your own community? For the past few years, our fifth graders have served as teachers, role models and accountability partners to our younger students, teaching them what they wish they knew when they were younger.
Having the older students teach these skills is a win-win. I have found, and the research supports, that older students are often more receptive and willing to change when they serve as role models and teachers as opposed to being passive recipients or beneficiaries of information. It is hard for my fifth graders to exhibit poor self-control after they have just finished teaching a lesson to kindergarten students on how “Good things come to those who wait.” Serving as role models creates memorable experiences for all involved (the teachers, older and younger students).
Through this work, I have noticed students seeking out more opportunities to be kind. For example, while walking in the hall, I see students greet each other with big hellos and smiles. They make an effort to hold the door for each other or pick up someone’s pencil. Students have shared with me that they have created a spot on the playground where you can go if you don’t have anyone to play with, and others know to join you there. In this way, the students create ripples of kindness that affect the whole school community.
Students are also being more deliberate and strategic in the use of self-control strategies. They are avoiding temptations (putting away supplies that distract them) or reframing those temptations (Is it worth it to play with the little papers in my desk?) instead of relying on willpower alone. They are learning to be more flexible when it comes to solving academic problems or taking turns at recess. By learning to embrace challenges, they are becoming more willing to take on hard things. Instead of taking failures personally, they are viewing them as part of the process that leads to success.
By directly and explicitly teaching the character skills students need to succeed, we are preparing them to be tomorrow’s leaders. I am proud to be part of a school that is committed not only to growing children’s academic proficiency, but also to nurturing their character. I know that the students, teachers, and the community at large have all benefited from this work.
If you are interested in joining this world movement to cultivate students’ intellectual minds, as well as develop students’ character strengths and well-being, check out IPEN (International Positive Education Network) https://www.ipositive-education.net/. IPEN is dedicated to a ‘character + academics’ approach to education around the world.
Save the Date & Join Me: Book Launch – July 9th: 4-6 pm at Barnes & Noble, Eastchester, NY. Please see my website (drbaruchfeldman.com/book) for information about my upcoming book, titled, The Grit Guide for Teens: A Workbook to Help You Build Perseverance, Self-Control, and a Growth Mindset will be released July 1, 2017.
Join us for a panel discussion surrounding academic stress, anxiety, competition and staying level-headed in the high-stakes high school environment. We will shed light on the topic, discuss research and offer tools for parents and kids to have at their disposal.
Register at scarsdalelibrary.org or call 914-722-1302
Scarsdale Public Library – 54 Olmsted Rd., Scarsdale, N.Y. – (914) 722-1302 – www.scarsdalelibrary.org
Marcella Moran is the founder of The Kid Organizer & The College Kid Organizer, and the Director at Hudson Learning Lab. A licensed psychotherapist, she works with families to develop positive strategies for students who are disorganized.
Randi Silverman co-founded a local community Parent-to-Parent Support Group for parents raising children who have issues with anxiety, depression, and/or mood disorders. She also produced the multi-award winning film, NO LETTING GO and founded The Youth Mental Health Project.
Dr. Caren Baruch-Feldman is a psychologist and the author of the upcoming book titled, The Grit Guide for Teens. She uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to help children and adults with depression, anxiety, and ADHD.
Dr. Mitch Samet is a school psychologist and New York State licensed psychologist in private practice. He has over 25 years of experience working with children, young adults and families and is currently a school psychologist, a clinical team coordinator and a supervising psychologist.
Dr. Ken Cotrone, former Assistant Principal of Byram Hills High School, is passionate about the dangers surrounding academic stress and anxiety and completed a dissertation on the topic. As the new Executive Director of Soundview Prep School, he continues to raise awareness.
Dr. Suzanne Braniecki, NYS licensed psychologist with specialized training in pediatric neuropsychology, conducts neuropsychological evaluations at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center. She is also an assistant professor at New York Medical College.
So excited to be presenting at the Learning & the Brain Conference (April 9th at 2:45). A growing body of research is finding that grit, self-control, and a positive mindset can have a strong influence on the academic achievement and emotional well-being of children and teens. Furthermore, these qualities have been found to be the “secret sauce” to their success. Dr. Baruch-Feldman is the author of the upcoming book titled, The Grit Guide for Teens : A Workbook to Help You Build Perseverance, Self-Control, and a Growth Mindset (July 2017).
See link below to register.
Nobel prize winners and Olympic athletes do not succeed by chance. A growing body of research
is finding that grit, self-control, and a growth mindset can have a strong influence on the academic
achievement and emotional well-being of children and teens. Furthermore, these qualities have
been found to be the “secret sauce” to their success. In this workshop, participants will learn the
latest research on grit, self-control, growth mindset and “failing forward”, as well as strategies that
promote these characteristics. Participants will learn how to bring these strategies to their own
schools. Dr. Baruch-Feldman is the author of the upcoming book titled, The Grit Guide for Teens (July 2017).
RSVP by replying to WCPA4U@verizon.net by November 28, 2016.
For more information go to: https://westchesterpsych.org/School_Division_Mtg.12.2.16.pdf
Free for members of WCPA and NYASP; $15 fee for non-members
So excited to be presenting at the Learning and the Brain Conference (November 17, 2016 at 815 am) on how teens can change their mindset and their behavior in ways that support self-control, grit, and tenacity. See link below to register.
“It was great…, it was hard!” Katie Ledecky, age 6
I fell off the bike. It happened. My greatest fear had occurred. However, instead of being the disaster I had created in my head, it was freeing. But wait, let’s travel back a little earlier in the day for some context.
I had decided for my last day of my spa vacation, that instead of getting another massage, I would challenge myself with some mountain biking (yes, I know some of you are thinking – she is crazy). I signed up for the beginner class, feeling both confident and apprehensive: confident because I had mountain biked twice before; but nervous because mountain biking does not come easy to me. To be totally honest, it freaks me out. You may be wondering given my lack of both skill and confidence in this area, why would I choose mountain biking instead of sitting by the pool? Because I believe strongly that there is no better feeling than accomplishing something that takes courage and strength.
So with this in mind, here are three things I learned about facing my fear through mountain biking.
1. You need grit!
To face a fear you need to be gritty. I needed a combination of persistence mixed with perseverance. When I literally could not get on the bike seat (the bike seat on a mountain bike is much higher than on a street bike), I needed to try and try again. When I fell off the bike while trying to get on the seat, I needed to pick myself up and learn from the experience. What I learned was that although it felt safer to stay closer to the ground, this approach was not working. I needed to stand up taller and be further away from the ground to get on the seat. What helped me to do that was staying present as opposed to freaking out in my head. Breathing and looking at where I needed to go was better than spinning in my head. What also helped me was making this ride about purpose. Although I wanted to get on and stay on this bike for myself, I also chose to engage in this activity because it helps me with my patients. Mountain biking helps me tap into the feeling of, and be more empathetic, with my many patients who struggle with fear and anxiety. Thinking about how this activity could benefit others gave me the needed drive to continue and persevere.
2. You need an optimistic mindset.
When riding the bike, I needed to make a conscious effort to maintain a positive mindset and note my improvements as opposed to focusing on what was still not achieved. It is human nature to focus on the negative and what has not been accomplished (e.g., making s-turns in the sand or riding over bigger rocks). I tried to focus on my growth and progress. I am glad to share with you that eventually I was able to consistently get on the bike and stop jamming the bar of the bike into places that cause pain. Having this optimistic and positive mindset allowed me to persist, be more resilient and grow from the experience.
3. You need your cheerleaders.
My ability to fall and pick myself up would not have been possible if I had not been in the company of my best friend and a supportive guide. My cheerleaders set high expectations for me: “Go back and practice those s-turns because we know you can do them!” while at the same time singing my praises when I was able to stop on a dime and go over logs on the road. Their combination of high expectations and unwavering support was essential for this journey.
So it may still seem a little crazy that the highlight of my spa vacation was one in which I fell. (Just so you know, there were awesome massages, food and classes too). But, if you are like me, there is no greater reward than rising to a challenge and mastering it. Thank you Miraval, Marcia (my best friend) and my husband and kids (who took care of the house and dog) for this awesome experience.
I recently had the privilege to present on teen grit at the International Festival for Positive Education in Texas. To see a short interview of my talk go to:
Please check out my website at drbaruchfeldman.com for additional blogs and articles.
“So…be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,
you’re off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So…get on your way!”
Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
This year is very special for my family- both my son and my daughter are graduating: my son from high school and my daughter from middle school (the school she has attended since nursery school). It is true what everyone says, “They grow up so fast.” But, what does not have to be true is focusing on the more immediate, but less important aspects of raising children without reflecting on what is important in the long-term. Graduations and transitions naturally lend themselves as periods of reflection. So even if you don’t have a child or student who is experiencing a big graduation, I ask you to stop, reflect, and ultimately share with the children who are in your care what you want for them in the long run, and not just today.
How can you do this? What if instead of one or two select students having to write commencement speeches, the parents teachers, and coaches of the world wrote to their children and students. What would we want to say? Ask yourself, if I needed to write a speech to a child in my life as he or she moved from one transitional place to another, what would the message be? Would it be pick up your coat? Don’t forget to study for math? How did you do on your English test? Or would it be different? Would the content be more about being a person of leadership and support to others? Would it be about finding balance and strength in their lives? Would it be about love and pride? I think you all would agree that the message would be more about the latter questions rather than the former.
So my question to you is, how do we avoid the trap of letting all or most of our conversations with our kids be about the small daily occurrences instead of the long-term picture? As humans we have a natural tendency to focus on the immediate, but not earth shattering, activities in our lives. Stephen Covey labels this tendency as “urgent, but not important” in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. How can we focus instead on what Stephen Covey calls, “non-urgent, but important.”
One way to accomplish this is to stop, take a moment, and reflect. Even better, write your own commencement speech to your children. In this speech, let the children in your life know how you feel about them. How proud you are of them. What your hopes are for them in the future. Even if the child in your life is graduating from 1st to 2nd grade, write a commencement speech for him or her. Let what you write be a shining light that gives your parenting, teaching, or mentoring its focus and direction.
By the way, as many of you know, I am a big believer of not just “talking the talk,” but also “walking the walk.” So today after I told my son, “he could not leave the house until the clothes were picked up from the bathroom floor,” I also (not right after, but a little later) told him, “I am proud of you and the choices you have made,” and “I love you.” Although the urgency to say the words of love and encouragement was not the same as my request that he clean up and, the fact remains that my son still did not pick up his clothes after I reminded him, I know that ultimately it will be my words of love, encouragement, and pride that will shape my son. Happy graduation to all the graduates and their very proud parents, teachers, and mentors. Wishing you all the best during this busy, but IMPORTANT time of year.
If you choose to do this activity, I would love to hear from you. Send me an email with your commencement speech. And remember, “you’re off to Great Places!” – Caren
Please check out my website at drbaruchfeldman.com for additional blogs and articles and follow me on twitter at Caren Feldman@carenfeldman. In June, I will be presenting at the Scarsdale library on helping children with stress and worry /car-conference/scarsdale-library-helping-children-teens-worry-stress/ and at the Albert Ellis Institute in NYC on CBT strategies for school age children. /car-conference/workshop-at-the-albert-ellis-institute-cognitive-behavioral-strategies-for-children/
See links for more details.
Great News! If you missed my “Got Grit? Got Growth? Got Greatness! Increasing Perseverance, Self-Control, and a Growth Mindset in Ourselves and Our Children” workshop that I gave at the Scarsdale library in March 2016, it is now available online on SPTV. In this workshop, participants will learn the latest research, as well as strategies, that promote grit, self-control, and mindset change.
To view the video go to and hit the picture.