Posts for social emotional learning

Dear Kids at School

Forever Family, Go Girl! - Allison Kenny - August 30, 2016

Dear Kids at School,

I know that when you see my little girl, you notice all the ways she is different from you. You see her glasses and her funny walk. You notice that she talks fast and loud, that she grabs the stuff from your hands without asking, how she sometimes tells everybody what to do. You see that it doesn’t take much to make her cry or make her mad or make her break the rules.  You notice that she is different than you. A different race. Has a different kind of family. Gets pulled from class for special ed. Why is she so weird…right? That’s what you want to know. Why is she so different?

Well, these aren’t the only things that make her unique. If you look closely, she has other qualities that might be harder to see. When you say hi, she’ll never ever ignore you. She’ll never leave you outside her house and say you can’t come in to play. She’d never ever want you to feel forgotten. In fact, my girl goes out of her way to make everyone feel special all the time. It’s her superpower. At home, she likes to put the toothpaste on the toothbrush for me and leave it out. A little surprise for me to find at bedtime. She leaves me notes and treasures and drawings of hearts that I find all over the house.  When our dogs were scared of the doggy door, she invented a contraption to hold it open for them. The first time she rode a horse, she petted it and kissed it and thanked it for the ride. You see, my girl’s heart is bigger than the heart of most people. That’s what actually makes her different. She’s sweeter than most. We could all learn something from her.

Another superpower she has is courage. She’s braver than most. Did you know the school you all go to is her 5th school in 4 years? She had to be brave and start over with new classrooms, new teachers and new kids every time. She did the same thing with families. Can you imagine walking into the house of brand new parents when you were 6 years old? Seeing your new room for the first time and wondering what this life would be like? Learning to trust brand new mommies and let them take care of you? That’s what my girl did. She had the courage to start a whole new life in a brand new town.  She had to say good-bye to everyone and everything she knew before. These are big good-byes. She had to have the courage to feel all those sad feelings and let her heart break so it could start to heal.

I can’t end this letter without talking about how hard my daughter works. You know that math packet you just got for 2nd grade homework? The same page of problems that takes you 15 minutes, takes her an hour. Oh no…it’s not because she is dumb. It’s because she was born 4 months early. Totally not her fault! But when kids are born early, their brains don’t get enough time to grow so they learn differently. Can you believe she never gives up? She doesn’t get to. She just has to work harder and harder- yes, harder than you so that she can learn the same things. She also works hard at making friends. She didn’t get to see people being good to each other when she was little, so she didn’t learn about things like sharing or taking turns like you did. She works very hard at this. She has a coach who comes every week and helps her learn to play well. She’s getting better and better at it. She has to work harder than most kids to do things like chew her food, tie her shoes, or even understand directions the teacher gives her. Pretty much all day, she’s working super hard to do things that most of you can do with no problem.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could cheer her on? What would it be like if she knew you were rooting for her instead of teasing her or leaving her out? What if you could see her sweetness, her courage, how hard she works?  What if you could help her along instead of push her down? I bet you’d feel good about yourself then. You could be so proud to know you were a good friend and accepted someone who is different than you. It would mean the world to her and  you…well, you would get a lot out of it, too. When we open our hearts and act kindly, we get to be happy. We get to be connected. We get to have more fun. How does that sound? You with me?

I can’t wait to see what you decide to do.

All the best,

Allison
Go Girls! Co-Founder
Kidpower Instructor
Mama

P.S. Speaking of having more fun,  join me in Berkeley on Sept 25th and see me perform live on stage. I’ll be celebrating magic and power we all have to be ourselves. Go Girls!  New to my blog? Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

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10 Ways to Respond When Your Kid Disrespects You

Forever Family, Go Girl!, Self-care - Allison Kenny - August 22, 2016

Ever feel like a punching bag in your own home? When I’m faced with eye rolling, furniture kicking, hands over ears, screaming in my face or a disgusted tone of voice, I do my best to respond without throwing a tantrum myself…which is not easy for me. Here are the phrases I practice and use like a script to keep from throwing my daughter’s toys in the trash or cursing like a sailor.

“I wonder why you’re not listening to me…”

“I’m turning my ears right off to that.”

“I don’t listen when people talk to me that way.”

“Wow. You seem really angry. Please don’t take it out on me.”

“I’m sorry you’re mad, and stop.”

“I’m happy to listen when you’re calm.”

“I’m starting to get angry. I need some space to breathe and get calm.”

“I won’t listen when you’re yelling.”

“That was rude. Would you like a do-over?”

“Please try that again with a respectful voice.”

I want my daughter to feel powerful and know how to stand up against violence. But when she uses her power to yell, kick or fight back when I’m simply asking her brush her teeth, it’s a misuse of her power. I believe it’s my job to teach her how to treat me and others. I try to be super flexible in all other areas of my parenting, but this is a battle I will pick every time. She cannot disrespect her parents. Period.

How do you keep your girls strong and ready to fight for themselves while also keeping the peace and expecting respect?

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I love every part of you: A journey towards a positive self image

Go Girl! - Lynn Johnson - March 9, 2015

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When our sense of self is limited…how can we take back the self from these limitations, even when we have created them ourselves? Part of the answer to this daunting question is to understand that the self is not one thing but a complex of multiple definitions and parts and to seek to have them grow and diversify into new areas.

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IMG_2441The chorus of our Go Girls! Camp theme song goes, “I’m not a mean girl. I’m not a good girl. I am a Go Girl!.”  We wrote this because it sucks how often we, as a society, both consciously and subconsciously, demand that girls choose a singular identity.  We can either be a good girl and follow all the rules, never rocking the boat or we can be a mean girl, a bitch, someone to fear and burn at the stake.

This completely impossible task damages our psychological health and prevents us from acknowledging and accepting ourselves as the complex beings that we are.  This is a major cause of the rampant self-loathing that is expressed among our girls.

I refuse to put up with anymore.  As a woman/former girl.  As a mother of a girl.  As an educator of girls.  I refuse.  And as my daughter works her butt off to build a positive sense of self amidst the shadow of abuse and neglect, I will do whatever I can to help her to understand that she is is amazing because of all of her parts, not despite of them.

I can start by writing this…

I love the part of you who squeals with delight when she discovers something brand new for the very first time.

I love the part of you who can focus on play for hours; building the inventions that you never doubt will change the world.

I love the part of you who always wants to know what’s going to happen next.

I love the part of you who is furiously working to choose peace over violence.

I love the part of you who cries and kicks and pouts and then gets up gets dressed, makes her bed, and brushes her teeth – all before 8am.

I love the part of you who woefully misses her sisters.

I love the part of you who rolls her eyes, throws things across the room, and loudly proclaims “I don’t care.”

I love the part of you who is afraid she will never learn to read but insists on checking out 40 books each time we visit the library.

I love the part of you who wants to jump in our bed in the morning and ride “on my neck” around the house.

I love the part of you who wants to tell everyone what to do.  All the time.

I love the part of you who is learning to trust.

I love the part of you who can’t quite grasp the days of the week but works so hard to remain intensely present.

I love the part of you who fearlessly approaches any kid on the street with a “wanna play?” whether the kid is a baby, a teenager, a boy or a girl, black or white, or anything in between

I love the part of you who sleeps through the night.

I love the part of you who is waking up to her feelings and becoming the person she is meant to be.

I love the part of you who remembers the names and relationships of everyone in this weird new family she has landed in.

I love the part of you who is confused and grieving and growing more resilient everyday.

I love the part of you who is brilliant beyond her years while we play the improv games at the dinner table but freezes up as soon as she is in the spotlight.

I love the part of you who is angry.

I love the part of you who is kind.

I love the part of you who is not quite grateful.

I love the part of you who is bone shakingly funny.

I love the part of you who is strong.

I love the part of you who is weak.

I love the part of you who is still trying to figure out what love actually means.

I love each and every part of you.  And I promise to love all your parts, unconditionally, from now on.  Even when I don’t like you very much.

I love you.

 

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