Counselor’s Corner: Parents as Emotion Coaches, Mini-Workshop Recap

Jan PFrom Mrs. Pendergrass

After a review of what’s been happening in the counseling program, on Tuesday morning I shared with parents what it means to be an Emotion Coach. First we talked about why coaching is a good way to look at parenting.

  • Coaches provide drills and exercises to prepare for the “game” (doing life on their own)! Never do for a child what they can do for themselves. Make the mundane fun and even a friendly competition.

  • Coaches provide encouragement as well as instruction. We all know kids respond to praise. And sometimes we need to use “tough love.” (Be the parent, not the friend.)

  • Coaches are on the same team as the players! It’s not “us against them.”

  • Coaching is rewarding and challenging, but requires tireless dedication, lots of study and practice and a commitment to good communication.

So why do we want to be Emotion Coaches? Research shows that children who understand their feelings and learn about their emotions have these advantages:

  • They form stronger friendships with other children.

  • They calm themselves down more quickly when they get upset.

  • They do better in school.

  • They handle their moods better and have fewer negative emotions.

  • Kids feel validated and become problem solvers.

  • They get sick less often.

Emotion Coaching is a parenting technique to help children understand their feelings. When parents Emotion Coach, children learn how emotions work and how to RESPOND to feelings in healthy ways, not REACT. (All feelings and emotions are OK, but not all actions.)

If you do an internet search for “Emotion Coaching” you’ll come up with 5 steps. But I’ve broken it down into 3 and made them spell a word that actually is appropriate to the situation: ICE—ice is what you put on an injury. It cools you down and reduces inflammation. Here’s how to use ICE as an Emotion Coach:

I = IDENTIFY: Help them put words to their feelings; Label and Validate (show empathy)

The conversation might look like this: I see you are angry and frustrated. Is there anything else you are feeling? (Child might say, “I’m mad at you!”) You’re mad at me. Are you disappointed because I won’t let you… (the situation)? You seem a little sad, too. (Hopefully you are assisting in the calming down with a gentle touch or soothing cuddle.)

C = CLARIFY: Deal with the behavior; Take time to calm down; Set the limits.

It’s OK to feel angry and frustrated, but it’s never OK to hit or call people mean names… when the timer goes off… (apologize; some natural or previously stated consequence).

E = EXPLORE: How to handle better in future; Brainstorm other solutions; Problem solve: what else is going on?

Did anything happen at school today that is also making you feel bad? (Label and validate more feelings. Ask questions about how THEY can handle better… be solution focused, not bossy!) Take time to encourage like a coach and believe in your kid!

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Counselor’s Corner: Lunchtime Groups

Mrs. PendergrassFrom Mrs. Pendergrass

Initiating and taking turns during conversations, maintaining eye contact, distinguishing verbal and nonverbal social cues, being polite, repairing misunderstandings… these socialization skills don’t happen overnight! Many of us as adults are still trying to master these key behaviors and subtleties of communication. They are vital for gratifying human relationships of any kind and at any age. They are also essential for effective classroom learning.

Just like parents at home can reinforce good reading habits by modeling and taking time to read with children, so can parents lay the foundations of healthy socializing by teaching these skills at home. Children need instruction on how to politely get your attention when you are otherwise involved. They are watching and learning when we clarify and work through misunderstandings in the home— as we hopefully model respectful tones, patience, acceptance of responsibility and expressions of forgiveness. And when things don’t go as well as they could have, there may need to be some healthy discussion after things cool down. What great learning opportunities!

Today at school I was working with Ms. Kelly’s 4th graders about how to be assertive in certain situations while avoiding being either passive or aggressive. The students acted out various scenarios and were very articulate about how to speak up with respect for themselves or for others. We had very meaningful discussion about how difficult this can be in real life as well as how it can make or break the spirit of cooperation and learning atmosphere in the classroom.

This week I am putting together some once-a-week lunchtime small groups for working on skills for healthy friendships. Teachers have recommended students for these groups and some students have personally expressed interest in participating. We will invite as many as we can for this first 6-8 week round (getting just the right group dynamic is critical), and will gradually be adding more throughout the school year. Through discussion, role-play, fun activities and games, the goal will be to help kids make and keep friends, manage emotions, develop healthy character traits and a positive sense of identity. If your child brings home a group invitation and permission slip, please sign and send it back ASAP and let me know if you have any questions.

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Walk Like a Falcon on October 15!


Wednesday, October 15th is Fairmount Park Elementary’s first Walk-to-School or walk-wherever-you-can day! Walking to school is a healthy, fun habit that builds community and awareness of our natural surroundings.

Not everyone can walk to school, so families are encouraged to think of other regular trips that can be accomplished on foot.

This brochure from Safe Routes to School gives parents age-appropriate tips for teaching children to walk safely. All students will receive a commemorative sticker at drop-off.
Walk like a falcon!

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Flu Shots in West Seattle

All West Seattle residents over the age of 4 are welcome to receive flu shots on:

  • Wednesday October 8th  from 4:00 PM-7:30PM at Chief Sealth and
  • Monday Oct 20th from 2:30PM-7:00PM at West Seattle High School

Bring insurance card – there are no co-pays or out-of-pocket costs.

For questions contact Roxanne Springwater, school nurse [email protected]org


General Membership Meeting Tonight

Please join us tonight for the first General Membership Meeting of the school year!

To save trees and money, reference copies of the agenda, officer reports, committee reports, and supporting documents will be available tonight at the Welcome Table. Please consider printing copies of documents you want to reference during the meeting.

The SCHEDULE for tonight:

Monday, September 22 in the lunchroom at Fairmount Park Elementary

6:00-6:15 PM

  • Child Care Drop-off
    (Please note: Child care is provided courtesy of The YMCA. There is staff available to supervise only 30 children who are in grades K-5, so if you have a friend or family member who can watch your child/ren, please schedule accordingly. Child care is first come, first serve.)
  • Donations and Memberships Accepted
  • Take Seats

6:15-7:15 PM

  • General Membership Business Meeting

7:15-8:15 PM

The AGENDA for the business meeting is as follows:

Call Meeting to Order

Approval of the Minutes from May 3, 2014 Charter Meeting (please review in advance of meeting)


Reports of Officers and Principal

  • President’s Report / Membership Report, Hillary Shaw
  • Treasurer’s Report, Renee Hopkins
  • Principal’s Report, Julie Breidenbach

Reports of Committee Chairs

  • Communications, Open
  • Enrichment, Firdaus Aryana
  • Fundraising, Sarah Lenssen and Sarah Popelka
  • Legislative Advocacy, Stephanie Juha and Johanna Lindsay
  • School Spirit, Shanti Breznau and Parie Hines
  • Volunteering, Michelle Palmer and Laura Stone
  • Nominating Committee
    Christine Deppe, Michael Griesedieck, Ann Limbaugh

Unfinished Business

  • Election of 2014/15 Executive Committee Officers
  • Election of Nominating Committee for 2014/15

New Business

  • Approval of 2014/15 School Year Budget
  • Amendments to Standing Rules
  • Adopt Conflict of Interest Policy Statement
  • 2014/15 Monthly Grant to Fairmount Park Elementary


Adjourn Business Meeting

As officer and committee reports are finalized, they will be hyperlinked above.


Walking School Bus Update

WalkingSchoolBusThree daily morning walking school bus routes started this week. A Near West route (roughly between Fauntleroy Way SW & California Ave SW), Far West route (west of California) and Near East route (between school and 35thAve SW) operate every morning getting 21 students to school safely and on-time. Thank you to the 17 parent volunteers who share “driving” the student “riders” to school one or two days a week. A fledging Far East route is currently organizing for east of 35th. There has also been interest from households to the south of school, but not quite enough to organize a route. If you are interested in participating in a morning walking school bus, please email Shanti Breznau at [email protected], including your address and name and grade of your child(ren).


What is a walking school bus?

A walking school bus is a group of children walking to school with one or more adults. It is a flexible concept ranging from two families alternating walking their kids to school to a structured route with meeting “stops,” a timetable and rotated schedule of trained volunteers. It can also include walk-to-school events where families are encouraged to walk to school along particular routes on a given day. Walking school buses are underway in elementary schools around the country, including West Seattle.

Other FPE parents and I are interested in starting walking school bus routes to FPE next year. This linked survey is intended to gauge interest in walking school buses in various neighborhoods around the school. Please complete your response by Monday, June 9th, so that we can begin organizing before everyone disappears for the summer. Please send any questions or comments to [email protected]

Thank you for participating in our survey. Go Falcons!

– Shanti Breznau