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Monday Ideas for School Counselors

Weekly articles for school counselors with ideas on how to resolve typical school situations with students, teachers and parents using the solution focused approach.

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Let's Rethink Check-Ins

March 11, 20242 min read

This week, I came across an article, “Stop Constantly Asking Kids How They Feel,“ by Abigail Shrier. The author mentions how often in school, and even at home, parents and teachers ask how kids feel, or felt, when they do an activity. That is certainly well meant on the part of the parents and teachers, yet the author questions its use!

In the article, she mentions:

“Instead of constantly asking kids to describe how they feel in the moment, adults should be telling kids how imperfect and unreliable their emotions can be. This means helping them to… recognize… that their feelings… rarely reflect a full and accurate picture of the world, but also that these feelings sometimes deserve to be ignored.” 

I was encouraged by this article, as I think too, that emotions can overwhelm students, teachers, and parents, robbing them of their initiative.

Many of you encounter students daily who are dealing with issues such as broken friendships, academic struggles, familial discord, or personal loss. Engaging in conversations solely about their emotions might elicit somber responses, leaving the child emotionally adrift when they depart from your presence. The student may think that there is no way out of the feeling and label herself through the lens of the feeling, thereby leaving the rest of the day hopeless.

Instead of fixating solely on feelings, consider shifting the focus to actions, thereby providing a sense of direction.

Suppose a student approaches you this week burdened by a challenge. Rather than delving into their emotional state, acknowledge the difficulty of their situation and prompt them to reflect on how they are navigating through the day:

“That sounds tough. Tell me how you are getting through the day so far?

Tell me other times this morning when things seemed slightly ok.

So, what does that tell you about this day in general?

How do you hope it turns out?

How might you help that to happen?”

In other words, focus on actions, which gives direction.

If a student does not know at the time how they wish to proceed, that’s okay. Just don’t fill in the blank for them. Ask them to think about how they want to proceed with their day, maybe even having them draw what else they could do.

As I have shared with you many times, helping our school clients to recognize what they want can help them tap into their competencies and begin stepping out of the clutches of a challenging situation.

emotional check-insstudent competenciesaction-oriented guidanceeducational strategies
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Dr Linda Metcalf

Linda Metcalf is the best-selling author of Counseling Toward Solutions and 10 other books. Linda is a former middle school teacher, all-level certified school counselor, licensed professional counselor supervisor, and licensed marriage and family therapist in the State of Texas. She is a Professor at Texas Wesleyan University.

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