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Interventions for Building a Positive Peer Culture
1-12 inch ruler
1 sheet of newspaper
1 magic marker
Write “bad habits” across the top of the sheet of newspaper. Brainstorm a list of bad habits and record them on the paper, [profanity, lying, cheating, stealing, whining, not following directions, not wearing seat belt, not brushing teeth, not wearing a bike helmet]
Place the ruler at the edge of a table, the ruler should extend from the table by 5″. Explain that the ruler represents a person. Lay the newspaper over the section of the ruler that is on the table. Explain that the newspaper represents a person. Ask clients if the bad habit [newspaper] is strong enough to hold the person [ruler] down when you strike the ruler. Demonstrate [strike the ruler]. Discuss that bad habits restrict personal freedom. Also discuss the deception of bad habits; people do not recognize the control bad habits have over their lives.
Being Kind to One Another
Bowl of water
Bar of Soap
Sprinkle pepper in the bowl of water, explain that the pepper represents all the people in the clients lives. Discuss that how we get along with the people in our lives is largely determined by how we treat them and speak to them. Discuss “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will break my heart”. Tell the clients that the soap represents negative harsh words. Have a client touch the soap to the water [soap will repel pepper]. State when we speak unkindly to others, they won’t want to be around us, and will scatter. Now pour a teaspoon of sugar into the center of the bowl [sugar attracts pepper]. Discuss how being kind and loving towards others causes other people to want to be around us and be our friends.
2 popsicle sticks
Ask for 2 volunteers. Have each child hold a popsicle stick about 1 foot apart. Wind the thread around the sticks 1 time and tie it. Ask the children to pull the sticks apart and break the thread. Continue the process by slowly increasing the amount of thread wrapped around the sticks until the children can no longer pull them apart.
Explain that habits are like the thread; bad habits [profanity] are easy to break in the beginning, but become harder to break the more they are repeated. Good habits [wearing seat belt, telling the truth] are strengthened each time they are practiced and like the string are less likely to fade.
What is an example of a good habit you have?
What is an example of a bad habit you have? How can staff help you break the bad habit?
What is a bad habit the group needs to work on? How can staff help?
Being Kind and Supporting One Another
Drinking glass filled with 1 cup of water
1/4 cup salt
Place the egg in the glass of water. Explain that the egg represents someone who does not feel cared for by others, sinking to the bottom represents how someone who is made fun of would feel [low, sad, depressed, unappreciated]
Remove the egg and set it aside. Slowly add salt to the water a tablespoon at a time. Explain that the salt represents different ways to make someone feel good inside. Discuss examples.
After all the salt has been added, replace the egg to show how it is now supported by love and held up by encouragement and acceptance of others.
Small pieces of candy
Give each child a piece of candy. Now, ask each child to place a pebble in their shoe. Go outdoors and have the children walk around until their candy is gone.
Ask each child to talk about their walk:
What did he feel during the walk?
What was he thinking about?
Explain how this compares to life:
Do we sometimes focus on the bad things [pebbles] and forget about the good things [candy]?
Ask the children if they spend most of their time noticing and pointing out the negatives of others [tattling], instead of the nice things people do for us?
Large objects [walnuts]
Small objects [rice]
Measure amount of objects needed by placing large objects in jar first, then fill the jar with the small objects.
Discuss all the important and fun things we need to do in a day [school, bike riding, chores, TV, homework].
State the jar represents a day, the large objects represent all the hard things we do, the small objects represent all the fun and easy things we do.
Ask one child to fill up his day with as many hard and easy activities as he can fit in the jar. The child will most likely not fit everything into the jar. Note that he was not able to accomplish everything he needed to do.
Demonstrate by placing responsibilities [large objects] in the jar first and explain by fulfilling our responsibilities first, there will always be time left for fun, as you poor the small objects into the jar.
Telling the Truth
Ball of Yarn
Discuss honesty. Ask children to think of a time when they made a decision to be honest when it might have been easier to tell a lie. ask to share how it felt to be honest.
Ask the volunteer to sit in the chair and ask simple arranged questions, as he lies wrap yarn loosely around the chair until all tied up, asking follow up questions throughout. [example: what did you do over the weekend – went to Disneyland – question what rides he went on, souvenirs, etc]
Explain to the group that you asked the volunteer to lie and that everything he said was made up. Discuss how one lie leads to another and how quickly you can become trapped by the lie.
Ask the group about times they have been caught in a lie or had to tell another one to cover up the previous lie. Discuss why it is important to tell the truth [safety, trust, feel good about self, because its the right thing to do]
Clinical Interventions from Youth Change – Your Problem-Kid Problem-Solver
Teach The Difference Between “Trying” and “Doing”
The next time a student says “I’ll try” instead of “I will,” throw a pen on the floor and ask the student to “try” and pick it up. Be sure you don’t allow the child to actually pick it up– just to try. The student will quickly experience and understand the big difference between doing and trying, and this understanding will quickly spread to other students who watch this exercise.
Help Students Manage Serious Family Problems
Students may have little energy for their school or work site when family problems overwhelm them. Have these youth sort their problems into “Things I Can Change” and “Things I Can’t.” Initially, many youth may claim to be able to change family problems like drinking and hitting. Inform students no one can change anyone else, just themself, then have students re-sort their problems. Many problems should shift from “Things I Can Change” to “Things I Can’t,” freeing more energy for school or work. Counseling for the family problems should also be offered.
Give kids this guideline to use to decide whether or not to engage in questionable behavior, such as stealing, cheating or lying: “Would you want to read about it tomorrow on the front page of the local paper?” If the answer is “no,” don’t do it.
visit www.youthchg.com for more interventions
Clinical Interventions from Marco Products
A Smile and a Tear
Purpose: To understand how people show their feelings without words.
For each child:
A Smile and a Tear worksheet
For the child volunteer:
Bell or whistle
Stopwatch or clock with a second hand
Time: 20 minutes
Give each child the A Smile and A Tear Worksheet and a pencil. Explain that they are to work by themselves and answer each question on the worksheet with an event. (Give an example taking a math test could be an event that would make you bite your nails.)
Ask for a volunteer to be the timekeeper. Explain that the timekeeper will announce to the children when they should begin talking to their partners and when they should change partners.
Instruct the children to quickly find a partner. Tell them that when the timekeeper rings the bell they should take turns telling their partners how they answered number one on the worksheet. They will have one minute total to do this, or thirty seconds each. At the end of one minute, the timekeeper will ring the bell again. They should then quickly find a new partner and wait for the sound of the bell. When they hear it they should take turns telling how they answered number two on the worksheet. This procedure will continue until all of the questions on the worksheet have been answered.
When finished, discuss the following questions:
- What are some of the ways people show feelings?
- Can you share some of the things happening in your life that would cause you to show a particular feeling?
- What are some ways you can show feelings in your classroom?
Purpose: To help the students understand that everyone has feelings.
Paper plate for each student
We’re Different, We’re the Same, or another book dealing with similarities and differences
Have the students sit on the floor in a circle. Say the words happy, sad, and angry. Ask the students what those words are. Have the students continue answering until the word feeling is mentioned. Explain that each of these words is a feeling word. Feeling words describe ways people feel when something happens to them. Draw a face on one of the paper plates. Write the word happy under it. Do the same for the words sad and angry. Ask the students to name some other feeling words. As each word is named, draw a face on a paper plate. Under each face, write the feeling word the face expresses. Continue until you have completed one paper plate for each student or the students are unable to name any more feeling words. Give a paper plate to each student. If there are not enough paper plates to go around, ask each student still needing a paper plate what feeling word he/she would like to have. Draw that feeling face with its appropriate word on a plate and give the plate to the student.
Tell the students that you are going to describe some situations. They are to listen carefully to each situation. If the situation makes a student feel like the word on his/ her paper plate, the student should hold the plate in the air. Some examples of situations are:
You fell and skinned your knee.
Your friend won’t play with you.
Your mother gave you a big hug.
Your teacher smiled at you, etc.
As each situation is described, notice the different feelings the students are holding up. Emphasize that more than one feeling can apply to each situation and that no feeling is incorrect. Continue this exercise until at least 10 situations have been named. Conclude the session by reading We’re Different, We’re the Same, or another book dealing with similarities and differences.
Student Reaction Bulletin Board
Cover a centrally located bulletin board with paper so that it can be written on. Title the board: “What Do You Think?” Each week, or every other week, select a different picture, newspaper or magazine photograph, or poster. Put it in the middle of the bulletin board and write a question under it. Tie felt-tipped markers to string and attach them to the bulletin board. Encourage students to write their reactions to the questions written by the pictures.
Picture of a mountain-What would be a good name for this mountain?
Picture of a group of children-What do you think these children are talking about?
Picture of a stage with closed curtains-What assembly program would you like to see?
Picture of a plane-Where would you like to fly to?
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