Self-Management Skills Required this Holiday

Like our nation, many of our families are divided.

Self-Management Skills Required this HolidayThis election was a BIGGIE! Whichever side you are on, chances are self-management skills will be required this Holiday season!

What is meant to be a time of joy, kindness, generosity and togetherness can be tinged with dread. We dread the division of our families and our country. We dread witnessing the jabs between our favorite aunt, who is waving a Trump flag, and our favorite cousin, who has spent his life in social service and is vehemently against Trump.

Like our nation, many of our families are divided

And like the country, our families are not always communicating with each other in the way that we would hope.

We love BOTH our aunt and our cousin.  Our children, sitting at the small folding table next to the adult table, are watching us. We are their models. Self-management skills will be required this Holiday season and they can do better if we do better. Moreover, children have a way of loving everyone for who they are – even in a big burly sweater.

Self-Management Skills are Required this Holiday Season

What if we could be proud of our self-management?  What if we step into someone else’s shoes and try to remember who these people are and what they have meant to us? What if we pause before we speak?

Self-management requires self-regulation, self-reflection, perspective taking and/or stepping into someone else’s shoes. Use our understanding of the other person’s past and intentions, we can project their possible reactions.  Our self-awareness will help us react in measured and respectable ways.

We need strategies on how to  offer – and accept – compassion, kindness and perspective.

5 Strategies for Improved Self-Management Skills This Holiday Season:

1.Remember Intention– Assume and remember the best intentions of those around you. What has each one done for you? This is especially important for the relatives on the other side of the aisle.  For those relatives with whom you don’t share the same views, make an extra effort to listen to them. Validate their feelings and emotions.  You can say, “Interesting. I can see why you would feel that way.”  As you express your opinions,  remember to focus on the kindness, compassion and respect your relative has shown you for years, her acts of love and affection.  What you say can damage your relationship.

Self-Management Skills Required this Holiday2.Walk in their Shoes  What could be going on in the his life? Has this year been particularly tough financially? Could COVID have hit her family harder than yours?  Don’t assume motives. Ask Open Ended questions and truly listen to the response without judgement.

3.Build a Bridge to Understanding –If your intention is to speak to your family with respect, ditch the one-liners, zingers and sarcasm. Breathe deeply, pause and respond in a way that convey respect. Keep your tone neutral and avoid words like “always” and “never”.

4.Listen- Listening isn’t just not talking. It involves eye contact, and connection. Keep facial expressions and body language relaxed and friendly. Don’t interrupt or “one-up” either.

5.Manage Emotions Rather Than Having Them Manage You– Now, before the holidays arrive, make a mental or written note of the symptoms your body expresses when it becomes agitated. Come up with ways to lessen these reactions so you don’t overheat and blow your top or say something you wish you didn’t. Use mindfulness to manage your emotions by recognizing the signs and breathing consciously to slow your mind and thoughts.

6.Don’t climb onto the soapbox – It is highly unlikely that you will influence or change anyone’s deep-seated beliefs over pumpkin pie. Keep away from the lectures and ask for another slice of pie instead.

7.Find the similarities– Humans share lots in common as a species. Emphasize commonality and stay away from shaming or declarations of incompatibility.

This holiday season, instead of banning certain topics, institute rules of respect. Insist on giving each member equal time, refrain from interruptions and allow a retort.

In my practice, one of the things I do is teach kids how to listen to one another, to show respect to their peers, and to practice the skills of empathy in order to form a connect. Now more than ever, we need to be reminded of those skills, and practice them with gusto.


SEL Guidance in Response to the 2020 Election
CASEL offers guidance and resources for creating safe, supportive learning environments in which young people and adults can process the election and continue their civic participation.


When Someone Isn’t Nice, Should You Ignore It?



Self-Awareness in Social Emotional Learning (SEL)

Now is a great time to get to know yourself better!

How do you respond to situations out of your control?

The Importance of Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is a core component of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and can have a huge impact on our lives.

First, just as mindfulness, meditation and gratitude can shift your mindset, so can self-awareness. Second, it can bring a positive spin on things. Third, it can enable you to better understand yourself and why you do what you do.

Social Emotional Learning
CASEL Social Emotional Learning Framework

The Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) – a trusted source for knowledge about high-quality, evidence-based social and emotional learning (SEL) – includes self-awareness as one of its core SEL competencies. The other four competencies are self-management, responsible decision-making, relationship skills, and social awareness.

Learn more and download CASEL’s SEL framework.

What is Self-Awareness?

Self-awareness is the process of bringing your attention to what’s happening in a mindful and open-minded way. It is the ability to recognize and understand emotions, values, goals, or strengths.

“Change requires two things: a goal, and an awareness of where one currently is in order to assess the discrepancy between the two.” – Psychology Today

If you want to change, you need to understand your current situation and then know where you want to go.

How to Build Self-Awareness for Social Emotional Learning

The good news is that self-awareness can be taught and adopted. I am a big proponent of open questions and reflective listening. These communication techniques allow the speaker and the recipient to reflect on their thought-processes and adapt.

Why is Self-Awareness so Important?

Self-awareness is a core component of Social Emotional Learning (SEL). It can help you realize how you respond to situations, where your weaknesses lie, and bring about positive decision-making.

1. You Recognize Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Dr Hallowell tells us to build up our strengths and worry less about raising our weaknesses. I completely agree. Cut yourself a break when things fall apart and celebrate when things go well.

2. You are not Held Hostage by Your Emotions

Self-management is another SEL competency.  It is very important for character development. It allows you to understand why you feel a certain way. Now you are in charge of how to react. Don’t let emotions control you. This is a healthy way to deal with life’s ups and downs.

3. It Provides Inspiration

Only you can really, truly motivate yourself. Want to start that big project? Channel your self-awareness to understand what you need to do to create a mindset that motivates you.

4. You Can Read the Room

It is critical to understand how others interpret us. How do you come across? As you are interacting with people, notice how they are responding to you. Pause and notice their body language and facial expressions. If you can read others’ reactions, you can change your behavior. I provide advice on how to Read the Room in my book and video.

5. You Know Your Values

No one can make you do something that you feel is not right or in your best interest. You decide what boundaries you will not cross. This is HUGE!

6. You Identify and Interpret Your Thoughts

Are you thinking or saying unkind things to yourself or others? Self-awareness allows you to recognize this and shift to a more positive approach.

7. You Listen to Your Gut

If your intuition is telling you something, you now listen. This is one of the best reasons to build self-awareness.


Self-awareness is your SuperPower! Build it, honor it and use it!


What is SEL?

Facebook Live Q&A Video 7

How to Nurture Social Emotional Development in Isolation

Encourage Social Skills Development

I take great pride in sharing with you the information that professionals know about how to encourage social skills development in people, especially those with lagging executive function skills.

Consequently, I believe that the more information you are given, the better you can to support it.

Be Patient: Transformation happens very slowly.

As a parent, you are there all the time and their partner, but it can be confusing for both of you to navigate the social terrain. Further, this process requires an abundance of patience!

Move from “No!!” to “Hmmm?…..

Bridge to Betterment

In my book, I describe Bridge to Betterment, the process of  moving from “no thank you!” – to realization – to change.

Your role as a social skills coach is not to push, but rather to hold a mirror to their actions and help them understand how change can happen. You will constantly need to help them see things… and this is where open ended questions and reflective listening come into play.

As you move through the stages of change… you will hear them say, “I kinda wish I had done that differently…” These nuggets can provide huge information as to how they think.

Model by your own actions and talk about how communication and friendship skills requires action. Discuss the stages of friendships and learn more about which stage they are in with each friend. Use questions and reflective listening to help your child or student to agree, disagree, tell clarifying information and to realize what they are doing. Find the carrot of who they want to be and link this to social skills and friendships.

Remember – Connection requires action!    #ConnectionMatters

Deeper Dive:

How to Keep the Social in Social Distancing

How Does Social Skills Development Occur?

Everyone is Working on Something

Do I need to Teach My Kid How to Make Friends?

Everyone is Working on Something

Do I Need to Teach My Kid How to Make A Friend? I Never Needed That Kind of Support, Why Does He?

How to Nurture Social Emotional Development in Isolation




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