Friday, 12 October 2018

Scaling , also helpful for our little kids

Scaling and telling yourself how good you are ...
A four years old boy in my class knows all about it!

Little Ben made a scene out of almost every accident in class.
Even the tiny ones.
He could scream really loud and every time I was shocked.

I've tried to explain that in time I wouldn't be shocked anymore
even when the accident would be a REALLY hurtful one ...
Hmm, it didn't work.
Benjamin kept on making scenes out of nothing.
How could I help him?

One day I overheard a friend mentioning Benjamin had been crying during reces.
I found myself kneeling down while asking him:
"I've heard you've been crying ..."
Benjamin nodded.

"How much did you cry?
This much?"
To give him a good impression I spread my arms and hands wide open.
"Or this much?" While saying that my arms where far more close together.

He looked at me for an instant and put his hands a little bit apart from each other.
I hear him say straight away:
"A tiny bit. Ain't that good?"
He looked at me to get confirmation.
I looked at him with big eyes full of admiration: "Wow, that's a real tiny bit. Yes, that's VERY good!"

I wanted to be sure whether it really felt good for him.
He had made a huge step all by himself.
For me he was allowed to be a little in 'shock' :-)

So, I hear myself asking with a soft warm voice
"Was it enough?" I asked.
I waited for his reaction.
Within seconds we both were nodding.
Yes, it was enough.
We were both so happy and proud!

While preparing to give a training course, I will certainly use this case example.
Thank you Benjamin!
Smile, Ella

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Creating a Happiness Notebook can save you!

Suddenly there is this marvellous idea in my head: tomorrow I'll start with a Happiness notebook! 

As a teacher of 11 and 12 years old kids who are nervous about going to secondary school, who have all kinds of hormones flying around in their bodies, who are trying to find out how to cope with challenges at home and who seem to be very cool at school while meanwhile ...,  I want to give them a helpful tool.
A tool unique for them, to use in situations they choose. A tool that makes them smile and in the moment of a (starting) smile, there is this chance to 'turn around' , get your hope back and look at things differently, in spite of everything.
I'm getting all exited and happy creating this idea in my mind! At least once a week we are going to work on two pages in our Happiness notebook. One page for writing and one for drawing. So, at the end of the year they will have at least 15 ideas about how to feel (a little bit) happy. Next year I'll start right away in September :-)  

  • By doing this we make it concrete: what can be consulted, where can we turn to when we are not feeling happy at all. 
  • By doing this we practice in thinking about 'happiness stuff'; what makes us smile?
  • By doing this we hopefully remember the assignments while being with someone who could use an uplifting smile   
  • By doing this we realise what is important for us.  
It's all about creating tools to empower yourself, to enlarge your well being in moments when you're not feeling okay. For my beautiful kids in school I love to think by reading in their Happiness notebook it makes them feeling more okay in their own changing, unfamiliar skin. For all adults I know it makes it more easy to change their stuck mind and activity because they read something they have written for themselves!
A few assignments I have in mind: 
1. Drawing a small mandala while hearing instrumental music. Colouring the mandala with dark colours and drawing and colouring everything around it with light colours. Write on the page next to it about a problem you have and also write about 'the good things' in your life (do you have a place to sleep? do you have friends? is there something in school you like? etc.)   
2. Write down everything you can do to make someone smile, just for free. Draw various smiles.
3. Write down what kind of activities make you smile, make you feel good. Make drawings of things you like to look at.  
Just stock your possibilities to smile again in a Happiness notebook and consult it when feeling down and depressed. At home or at school! 
Smile, Ella
Download my e-book and have a great resource of empowerment in stock!
Ella de Jong: e-book at Bookboon (already 15,000 downloads!): Solution Focused Mentoring. 5 Steps to bring out the best in your Mentee and yourself. 
This blog is also to be found in Dutch: Een happiness schriftje ...

Monday, 3 April 2017

Substitute compliments rock! ( Connectedness in class - part 2 )

Getting compliments is nice.
Getting them from your own teacher is very nice.
Getting them from a substitute really rocks!

Jimmy is new in class
So am I that morning.
His table is next to the teachers table.
I know it's for a reason, mostly not for fun.

Jimmy doesn't pay attention to me, unless I specifically ask for it.
He does pay attention to the kids in class and Ronny in particular.
He tells them what to say and do, mostly what NOT to say and do.
I hear words I don't want to hear in class and try to stop it.
I manage to stop the class from responding to Jimmy

Jimmy keeps on doing his talking and shouting stuff
I give a thumbs up when Jimmy is quiet and looks my way
I manage to walk by all the kids and tell them they're doing great
Then I see Jimmy working for a few minutes
I walk towards him and tell him:
"I see you're working hard. You're doing great!"
"I'm doing great. I'm doing great." 
It was Jimmy's immediate response to my words.

Jimmy is new in class
He get's compliments from his teacher, I'm sure of that
And from his parents, I'm sure of that too
But today a new person told him he was able to do something great.

I like to give classes 'free time' when they have been working hard
I was able to compliment Jimmy and all kids in class
I started with 5 minutes 'free time' even before an hour had passed!
"Miss, this is so much fun! This rocks!"

(Proud as a peacock: earning marbles, it's the teachers way of complimenting the class.)

Getting compliments is nice.
Getting them from your own teacher is very nice.
Getting them from a substitute really rocks!

Jimmy still had his moments of needless interfering
I had to guide him throughout the day,
but he sure did earn his free time!
I was glad to have seen his tiny moments of 'doing great'
Jimmy was so much more at ease throughout the day
Complimenting him on those tiny moments, sure paid of!

Ella de Jong
Trainer - Teacher - Writer - Coach

Monday, 20 March 2017

The tools of little Emily.

Dear little Emily,
I see what you do,
I have to walk towards you.
I hear your small voice,
I have to bend forward to you.
I feel your tension
I have to lead you.

Dear Emily,
You don't know me
I'm your temporary teacher.
You don't know what to do.
You are only five years of age!
Well, you do know ... 
These are your tools for dealing with it:
You aren't listening. You do 'what ever comes up in your mind'. You tease other children. You are constantly checking whether I see what you are doing. 

Dear Emily,
I understand it is difficult for you!
I have to walk towards you and speak to you in a fierce voice telling you to stop teasing.
I have to bend over to you and summit you to come directly, like all other children.
I have to take your hand and guide you towards the door where everybody is waiting.
At the end of the day we are both tired.
We say goodbye and 'perhaps we'll meet again'.
That's it.
Only two days we've been in each others lives.

Dear little Emily,
I was so happy to see you one week later!
I was teaching an other class.
You saw me in the hall and walked to me.
"I know you!" and while I recognised you and we both smiled, you came closer and we hugged. 
Such short contacts. Such warm connections in spite of difficult behaviour. Those "wrong tools" ... you can't help it. 
Ella de Jong
Temporary teacher - writer - trainer 'Energizing Communication with Troubled Youth' - youth counsellor - life coach 

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Reflecting on exhausting days ... wisely ...

Is there a wise way to reflect? 
Do I have a wise owl inside me?
An 'acknowledging' owl?
A 'non judging' owl?
A 'friend like' owl?
By making me look at the moments I made a decision and it turned out fine.
By making me aware of the fact that my bad decision didn't make the birds and stock exchange fall down.
By making me talk about my own created metaphor representing me during those crazy hours.
In fact an owl who makes me smile after an exhausting day?
I'll try to find her inside of me because I love to smile, it empowers me!
Smile, Ella - Life coaching Skype sessions: wisdom awareness, smiling outcomes!
First published on

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Connectedness in class - part 1

As a substitute in primary school I try to follow my own 'rules' about connecting communication. What a challenge! I can hear what the children are thinking when they first see me: "What are YOU doing here today? We don't know you, so ... we will be very creative in resisting you and your rules!" 
What a lovely surprise it was, that Thursday when there was this 'high five' for me initiated by the most creative one in class. Patrick, the most creative one, even added "Sorry, miss, about what just happened."!  What happened wasn't at all trivial and in the afternoon Patrick still found it extremely difficult to deal with me. Strange, new teachers: you can't trust new people. This was what Patrick seemed to think and he sure made me aware of this conviction of his :-) And yet, when I think about the high five and his words I can only smile while remembering him. 
What made Patrick raise his hand inviting me to connect for a split second?

He wanted to thank me. I was looking for him so I could tell him his computer time was ending but I hadn't seen him hiding in a corner very close to the computer he had been working on. So I was searching for him. After some helpful kids told me his secret, I looked again, now under the desks. While I was searching he jumped out of his hiding place and surprise me with a big smile and eyes franticly checking my face: "How is she going to react?". His action first startled me and then made me laugh (very loud because of the effect). 
I think he was afraid I would tell him to move his body asap to his chair and desk, BUT ... I laughed at him and with a ferm shake of his shoulders I told him he would be a very good special agent one day. We agreed he was allowed to have two more minutes before shutting the laptop.
"Yes!!" + hand raising + "Sorry about what just happened" was his response and I loved it! 
"What just happened" wasn't trivial (far from it!) and his actions in the afternoon weren't nice all afternoon, on the contrary. And yet, I remember our high five moment and I smile. Connectedness ... Patrick showed a genuine happy face these few minutes. For Patrick every short positive moment with strangers is very important. Next year will be a challenging year, secondary school has so many more teachers than primary school ... I hope he will remember our mutual genuine positive minutes as a resource: every tough day can have some fine moments.

Smile, Ella
Trainer - writer - life coach - schoolcounsellor - teacher

Monday, 28 November 2016

The hug that helped change medicine

The amazing healing of touch ...

Please, try this at home with your kids and everyone around you!

Smile, Ella