Cross-cultural test of anti-bullying program

trinidad-w-bell-0716While team members at The Hanna Perkins Center for Child Development were preparing this summer for the first broad-based rollout of “My Mad Feelings,” a bullying prevention curriculum for children as young as 4, Clinical Director Kimberly Bell was giving the program a cross-cultural test at a school in Trinidad and Tobago. While the test was informal, the results, she said, were strongly positive.

While most anti-bullying programs focus on adolescent children, the origins of bullying can be recognized at a much younger age – when children first go to school or child care, and are learning to advocate for themselves in a social setting.

When angry, scared or otherwise bothered, young children “share” the way they feel by grabbing, hitting or saying hurtful things –acting out the feeling so others feel it too.

This is normal behavior, and it signals a developmental readiness to begin learning how to express themselves verbally instead. Otherwise, their behavior makes others angry and invites disciplinary action, creating a downward spiral in self-esteem. By adolescence, these behaviors may become habitual, and are recognized as bullying. (Learn more about My Mad Feelings here.)

“My Mad Feelings” is classroom curriculum for children age 4-7 to support the emotional learning process. It’s being taught in all preschool classes in the Shaker Heights City School District for the 2016-17 school year – the first time the program is being used across an entire public school system.

But as that effort was being prepared, Bell put it to use in July with a class of 5-year-olds at the Naomi Chin Kit Memorial School in Pt. Fortin, on the island of Trinidad. Bell was invited as part of a free dental clinic by volunteers from the dentistry programs and social work programs at Buffalo State College and the University of Buffalo.

Conditions for the cross-cultural test were less than optimal. While the program is designed to be taught in 12 lessons, Bell had only four. So she worked in advance with Victoria Todd, author of the curriculum, to select which sections to teach.

It’s also intended for small-group discussion, not a full classroom.

Bell observed the class before beginning the program, and said typical behaviors included impulsiveness, difficulty managing big feelings, and finding words to express feelings. She also noted a general confusion between the emotions of anger and fear.

“Their culture contains a drive to obtain limited resources, so concepts like waiting in line and taking turns don’t come naturally there,” Bell added. She described “a mad rush and a lot of crying” when crayons were placed on the table for coloring. One boy, unhappy with his picture, cried inconsolably because he didn’t think there would be any extra paper so he could start over.

“Even in the toughest possible conditions, these children responded like they were hungry for it,” she said. “After the last day, when we said our goodbyes, I’ll be darned if the two children with the biggest behavior problems weren’t sharing equipment on the playground, pushing each other on the swing. They were actively identifying feelings and seeking help in problem-solving.

“In the end, it was very clear the basic tenets of what we do at Hanna Perkins are universal,” Bell continued. “You get a tremendous response from young children when their feelings are acknowledged and when you help them give voice to those feelings.”

“The teachers were hesitant at first to believe a non-authoritarian approach was going to work. But the little 4-year-old who spent the first two days crying, screaming and running away came in on Day 3, put his backpack down and prepared for class. That’s when the teachers came to me and asked for a copy of the “Mad Feelings” teaching materials, so they could continue the process.”

Since the experience, the school director has traveled to Cleveland to observe operations at Hanna Perkins School. She is working to raise funds for teachers to travel here to receive formal training on the “Mad Feelings” curriculum.

Following is a video about the experience. Brief discussion of Bell’s work with My Mad Feelings begins at 7:10.

What Hanna Perkins School has meant to one family

Here’s why one family came to Hanna Perkins School, and what the experience has meant for them.

Following are shorter clips from the same interview.
 

 

 

Referring for postpartum mood and anxiety disorders

A little fun with the Hanna Perkins name

Hanna Perkins’ April 9, 2016 Spotlight On Our Stars benefit was a great success, raising more than $200,000 for scholarships, development of programming, and ongoing operations. That evening, we had a little fun at our own expense with this video to celebrate the 65th anniversary of Hanna Perkins’ founding.

Special thanks to Ted Rodenborn and our other friends at Globalcast MD, and Haley Denzak, who donated their time and expertise to help us get this done.

My Mad Feelings, as presented by HPC CEO Karen Baer

In late 2015, Hanna Perkins CEO Karen Baer was invited to make a presentation about the My Mad Feelings bullying prevention curriculum to a group of socially minded investors. The event was Social Venture Partners’ BigBANG!, and the goal was to explain how the program heads of bullying by helping early learners with the youngest of students. She had 4 minutes.
 

A short video reminder of what really matters

dinner with anybody-Masterfoods_021916

 

https://www.facebook.com/Overdownunder/videos/896867963764977/

Behavior is how young children communicate

tantrum_imagerymajestic_freedigitalphotosWhen young children misbehave, it’s not because they want to act badly; it’s because they’re having a strong feeling of some kind, and don’t yet have the skill or vocabulary to express it in words.

In that context, rather than discipline or punishment, a helpful adult will work with the child to understand the feeling and find a better way to deal with it.

Here’s an excerpt from a webcast of Hanna Perkins Therapist Deborah Paris, LISW, BCD, on the important concept of behavior as a form of communication – and the important developmental step of learning to give words to feelings.

Image courtesy of Imagerymajestic/Freedigitalphotos.net

What ‘child development’ means to those who study it

An excerpt from one of our previous webcasts of Hanna Perkins Therapist Deborah Paris, LISW, BCD, on what the experts mean when they talk about “child development.”

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/Freedigitalphotos.net

Handling separation when young children first go to school

An excerpt from one of our previous webcasts of Hanna Perkins Therapist Deborah Paris, LISW, BCD, discussing the separation difficulty that most young children experience when they begin programs that require separation from parents and/or caregivers.

Here’s an additional article on the subject.

 

Free Replay: 21st Century Parenting Webcast

Our 21st Century Parenting Webcast, on managing your child’s behavior, provided insights on a wide range of questions – from separation issues to sleep troubles to struggles with organization to setting limits on use of technology. Relevant questions for parents of children from toddler to adolescent make this a helpful program for anyone.
You can replay of this event any time you want, and as often as you want.

21st Century Parenting on Vimeo

The webcast was hosted by GlobalCast MD, and featured child development specialists from Hanna Perkins and The Lippman School. It was held at Hanna Perkins Center on Oct. 6, 2014.