PRACTING SKILLS FOR COMPREHENSION; Helpful and unhelpful thoughts

As the anxiety group proceeds, we continue to practice identifying which are helpful and which are unhelpful thoughts.  I have a series of lessons I use for different age groups, available on my Teachers
Pay Teachers site.

We did lots of practicing on choosing which was helpful vs unhelpful.

As they got more proficient in choosing between the two, we decided to provide students with prompts of actual student worries (based on our surveys we took at the beginning of the group) and have them attempt to give us HELPFUL THOUGHTS.

Example of complete prompt - situation and thought

Even our earliest learners could remember, "It's ok", the most basic helpful thought.

Example of a partial prompt with just the situation.  If students had a difficult time remember, I would use errorless learning and give a partial answer such as, "IT'S....", sometimes doing the "ok sign" with my fingers. Repetition, repetition!

Every session, as I mentioned earlier, we would practice our COOL BREATHING and relaxation techniques.  Often I let a different kid choose from a choice board which technique they'd like to practice, usually trying to add a new one every week (maybe same technique but different way of doing it).  One that was a hit was using the app by Sesame Street called, "Breathe, Think, Do".  Remember, I used this for kindergarteners and 1st graders.  I did have one kid who said Sesame Street was for babies, so we just let him sit out (pick and choose your battles, otherwise he was very disruptive).
Super cute and  educational breathing, relaxing and thinking app for kids

Practice breathing with the monster.  Another fun twist on belly breathing for your kids!

Teaches kids to stop and think.  They get to touch the bubbles on the screen to "pop" them, and then come up with 3 plans for the problem situation given.

There are more and more good tools available to teach relaxation.  For me, the key was mixing it up, making it fun, using technology sometimes and allowing students to choose.  I even had one student, a first grader, who wanted to make up his own prompts for progressive relaxation (he was the one who said Sesame Street was for babies).  We allowed him to do this, he lead the group, and we had such good attention and buy-in from the other kiddos!  In our next blog, we'll talk a little more about some of the more advanced techniques we used in our anxiety prevention groups with our 3rd- 7th graders.  Write to me if you have comments, questions or suggestions.  What great things have you found out there???

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