Category Archives: Introduction

These posts introduce you to positivepsych4parents.

Happiness and Being Your Best Self

This is a story about a real person.  This particular story happened many years ago, but similar events have since happened over and over in my work with both children and adults. In case you are wondering if it is someone you know, I have changed the student’s name. I had been warned about 13 year-old Phillip by several people—his former tutors of whom he had scared off several—his teachers, his principal, and his mother.  “That boy is a piece of work” was the general consensus. When Phillip and his mother arrived in my office, his face was red and his eyes swollen.  His mother announced, “I wish you good luck.  It was all I could do to get him into the building.” 

As she departed, I introduced myself to Phillip and attempted to build some rapport.  I anticipated a challenge. “I know I’m not the first tutor you have had,” I helpfully pointed out, “so I’d like to know what your goals are for our sessions together so that we can be sure to incorporate them into the meetings.”  Phillip did not wait to formulate his answer.  It spilled out of him. “My goal is to never see your face again!” he spat angrily, narrowing his eyes to thin slits and turning away from me with his arms tightly crossed.  I was briefly shocked; it was the first time I had ever been told this by any client.  I tried not to react too quickly lest I respond with anger at a boy who had merely answered my question quite honestly, and the thought of what to say came to me surprisingly easily, despite never having had his particular answer offered to that question.   

“Phillip, I think that’s a wonderful goal,” I said with real enthusiasm and a lack of sarcasm that astonished even me.  He turned to me looking quite stunned and listened as I continued.  “I only work with people until they don’t need me anymore, so I will do everything that I can to make it possible for you not to need to see me again.  I can’t promise when that will be, but I will promise to honor your request. ” By now Phillip was quite confused, but he wasn’t as angry, and I wasn’t feeling threatened by his very straight-forward comment. And he did need me; he needed to learn to use his powers for good. 

During subsequent meetings, there was sometimes tension.  He complained to his mother that I was positively the most stubborn person he had ever met, but he never refused to attend a session. (Perhaps he meant that I was stubbornly the most positive person he had ever met. It can be frustrating to work with someone who is sure there are solutions to problems!) There was also lots of growth, and one day I knew that Phillip was ready to use his toolbox of strategies and self-knowledge independently.   I reminded him of my promise when we had first met, prefacing what I was about to tell him—that his goal had been met and he didn’t need to see me anymore—by reading Phillip the notes about our first conversation. “Wasn’t I just awful?” he remarked with embarrassment.  “Well, were you happy then?” I asked. “Were you being your best self?”  It’s not just that Phillip learned skills like reading and writing, and learned content like Biology and Algebra. He developed self-efficacy: that he had the power to produce results. Your kids do, too.

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Why Be Happy?

Why Be Happy?

 ·       Happy individuals live longer. 

·       Happy individuals have better marriages. 

·       Happy individuals, business teams, and marriages are more likely to thrive than their less positive counterparts.

·       Teachers who have a shared sense of their effectiveness (“collective efficacy”) have students with higher achievement even when controlling for student socio-economic status.

·       Positive psychology approaches can inoculate both elementary and college-age students against depression.

·       Athletes with optimistic explanatory styles in sports as diverse as swimming, baseball, and basketball outperform their less positive peers when responding to adverse situations.

·       Happiness beats drugs.  Depressed individuals participating in on-line happiness exercises experienced decreases in depression of greater scope and duration than would have been expected after the administration of anti-depressant pharmaceuticals.

·       The character strengths of hope, zest, curiosity, love, and gratitude are significantly related to life satisfaction. People who have learned to use signature strengths like these in new ways are lastingly happier. These can now be reliably measured.

·       A meta-analysis of over 200 studies reporting on almost 300 samples totaling 275,000 individuals shows that it is likely that happiness causes success, rather than vice versa.

 Bottom line: Well-being works! 

Here’s something you already know: Nearly everyone has far more strengths than weaknesses. The trick is learning to use your powers for good! Just try harder, right?No. The truth is this:  It’s not all about effort.  

It’s not how hard you work; it’s how you work hard. 

The current legal approach to special education mandates a deficit model that focuses on what is wrong with a person. While diagnosing problems can help get the services that make a difference, it is far more likely that there will be no “finding of special needs” despite a student’s (and parents’) struggles. If nothing is “wrong” you can get more of the same after school with more teacher attention and review. This works for some students, but not for many others.  Ready for something different? 

Blending Positive Psychology and Educational Best Practices

Welcome to Education Ecology™: identifying, preserving and developing what works well in both schools and individuals, in support of a flourishing future. Built on the science of Positive Psychology and rooted in years of educational best practices, this approach is strengths-based and asset–focused.

 Does your child have trouble with:

·       decoding or reading comprehension?

·       remembering facts?

·       academic learning?

·       organizing personal belongings?

·       planning and executing school (and other) work ?

·       homework: getting started, completing it, remembering to turn it in?

·       test-taking, every day and standardized?

·       personal responsibility? 

Are you frustrated?

Do you feel as if you have tried everything? Are you tired of the see-saw of helplessly watching your child struggle and wondering if it really is just a laziness problem? (It isn’t.) Do you want an approach that incorporates the best practices of education with the science of positive psychology?  What’s Positive Psychology?

Positive Psychology is the study of human strengths, happiness, psychological well-being, social well-being, positive emotion and quality of life. It looks at building positive emotion, positive traits, and positive institutions through three pathways: happiness, engagement and meaning.

 It’s about finding out what is good and making more of it and is hence very success oriented.  When positive psychology focuses on failures, it is with the use of strengths in mind to overcome them.  It doesn’t “fix.”

Applied Positive Psychology is a set of technologies for delivering practical uses of positive psychology science. These address the very real need to deal with life’s problems but are based on empirically validated approaches that “broaden and build” our positive emotion, and focus on our strengths and abilities.

You’ll learn more about these approaches here, so stay tuned.

Positive Educational Management

Student Flourishing works with students of all ages and their families to help them see themselves as capable, effective and resilient partners in education, reframing students’ learning difficulties through their strengths of interest, character, ability, and experience, to name just some.

 We look forward to helping you with both general and special education needs, including:

·       determining the need for assessment

·       reviewing existing testing and placement

·       advocacy services

·       IEP review

·       patterning student and family strengths for learning

·       managing learning needs at home

·       direct services to students

·       parent coaching

·       career and college exploration

Please read the About page for more information.