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How Social Learning is Critical for Academic Success

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The character Sheldon Cooper from the CBS TV show “The Big Bang Theory” is a familiar example from popular culture of an individual who has achieved impressive academic success but experiences difficulty and conflict in his relationships and work life due to his social limitations. While this show provides comedic entertainment for its audience, it also demonstrates a very real struggle for many children: social development and success.

 Social development is an ongoing, lifelong process, but the social learning that occurs in childhood is essential for building and maintaining fulfilling relationships, receiving social acceptance, and ultimately achieving a successful career as adults.

What is social learning?

When we think about social learning, we typically focus on social skills, or the specific behaviors that are expected given a situation (e.g., staying on topic when making a comment during a conversation). However, underlying these skills is “social thinking,” specifically the cognitive processes of figuring out the thoughts, feelings, motives and beliefs of those around us and adjusting our behavior accordingly to ensure that everyone in the social setting is comfortable. Via social thinking we are able to assign meaning to the words and actions of others and read the contextual cues of the social environment, which are critical for social, emotional and academic success, as well as professional fulfillment in the long-term.

How social learning influences academics

Simply being in a classroom is a social situation with expected behaviors that are conducive to learning. The behavior of a student with social-thinking difficulties can interfere with the academic learning of self and peers. For example, interrupting others and lack of volume regulation can both disrupt the attention, processing, and understanding that are required for learning. Social learning also has a direct bearing on the ability to work in a group and engage in cooperative learning.

Social learning can also influence specific academic areas such as reading comprehension and writing. Successful comprehension of the curriculum, particularly as students advance in school, requires social inferencing, understanding figurative language, and engaging in perspective taking. The task of writing requires social thinking in order to take another’s perspective while formulating a persuasive argument or describing a character’s emotions, beliefs, and intentions during narration.

Social difficulties that may affect students with learning differences

Because many types of learning disorders can yield social learning difficulties, students with learning differences may require social thinking intervention to help them with:

●      Perspective taking
●      Relating to peers
●      Making and maintaining friendships
●      Conversation (e.g., initiating and maintaining topics, using comments and questions to expand the           conversation, and avoiding the interruption of others)
●      Working with peers in groups
●      Reading contextual cues of situations to guide expected behavior
●      Understanding the words, actions, and nonverbal cues of others
●      Social wondering
●      Emotional regulation

Fostering social learning alongside academics

Students with social learning difficulties that require additional social thinking intervention can benefit from knowledgeable educators who can address social challenges as they occur in the classroom, on the playground, and at the lunch tables. For instance, a student may need his teacher to help him notice and interpret the contextual cues of the classroom situation (i.e., test papers on desks, students working independently, and silence in the classroom) in order to identify and execute the expected behavior, which is to sit down quietly and begin taking the test.

While public schools are not required to teach social skills, there are other solutions such as external social-skills classes, occupational therapy and private schools that serve students with learning differences. Academic achievement alone will not lead to success in life without healthy social skill development.  Adequate social learning during childhood can yield great professional and personal success.

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Eat & DrinkEducationLifestyle

The all-nighter survival kit

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8 items that make the grade for studious students

It’s midterm time, and staying up until the wee hours of the morning is an unfortunate reality for hard-studying students, but pulling an all-nighter does not have to be a miserable experience. Here are a few survival items for making the hours go faster and easier when you’re cramming for a big exam or have to finish that research paper due tomorrow.

A+ lighting

Shed some light on your schoolwork with an OxyLED LED desk lamp. The OxyLED T35 (sale priced $10.27 on Amazon) is a sleek USB-powered foldaway lamp that is dimmable by touching it, and its adjustable head allows you to fold it up to save valuable real estate on your desk.

 

                

The OxyLED T36  ($23.99 on Amazon) operates on a USB-charged battery and features a long bendable neck and can clip on the edge of the desk or a bed headboard so you can kick back and shine a light anywhere you choose to study. Both lamps can be dimmed with a touch to the desired light level that is easy on your eyes and can shine just where you need light, so you won’t keep up your roommate.

Yogurt your way

When the dining hall is closed and the vending machine just won’t give you the brain food you need, grab a Siggi’s Triple Cream 9-percent milk fat Icelandic-style strained yogurt for some quick nutrition and energy, without the sugar crash. If a traditional serving container is not your cup of yogurt, Siggi’s drinkable Swedish whole milk yogurt is perfect for imbibing on the go, or for a fast pick-me-up, tuck a Siggi’s tube of strained low-fat yogurt in your backpack to squeeze in some 2-percent milkfat dairy with 5 g of sugar and 5 g of protein and only 50 calories that’ll keep you going when the studying gets tough.

 

 

Think drink

Protein means power, and Iconic Protein Drink has the formula for quick energy that is delicious and nutritious. Iconic’s convenient 11.5-ounce serving bottles can be a filling snack or even a meal replacement if time doesn’t allow for to a bite to eat. You can fuel up with 20 g of dairy protein – from grass-fed cows, 3 g of sugar and 130 calories, with no lactose, gluten, soy, carrageenan, GMOs or BPA. Iconic comes in a variety of flavors including Chocolate Truffle, Vanilla Bean and Café Au Lait. Get a sample pack of each flavor for $12.99.

Instant gratification

Want a great cup of Joe to help you make it through the night, but you don’t have time to hit a café? Indulge in a class cup of caffeine with Kuju Coffee, a one cup portable drip coffee brand that is perfect for brewing up in a dorm room. Kuju’s Pocket PourOver ready-to-brew filter anchors to your mug so you can brew craft quality coffee, without a percolator. Kuju not only tastes good, the brand does good by sourcing its beans from a family farm in Thailand that employs former sex trafficking victims, and Kuju donates 1% of sales to the National Parks Foundation. Travel 5-Pack available for $24.95 at kujucoffee.com,

Clean energy

When your reserves are running low, fuel up with the clean energy of Zevia Energy drinks, the clear carbonated energy drink in flavors like Kola, Mango Ginger and Raspberry Lime that will give you a zing with 120 mg of natural caffeine without slogging you down with sugar and mind-gunking ingredients like artificial sweeteners and coloring. While your party schedule is on hold until the last bell rings, that doesn’t mean you can’t take time for a mocktail happy hour with a Zevia zero-calorie mixer. Enjoy the straight-up flavors of Dry Lemon Lime and Ginger Beer as a deserved refresher on a study break and of course a most-excellent elixir for the celebration after you ace the test. Grab a variety 12-pack of energy 12 for $18.99 on Amazon, or shop for Zevia products at grocers nationwide.

 

Raise the (snack) bar

If a diet of liquid lunch has got you craving something to crunch, try Granola Cups from Nature Valley, a satisfying mix of a dry snack with a creamy filled center. Stock up with a 5-count pack of 6 for $33.63 on Amazon, or pick up a box of five-pouches (each with two cups) at Target. If your snacking style leans more to the leafy and fruity, go for a LÄRABAR Fruit and Greens bar, packed with natural nutrition in flavor combos like Pineapple Kale Cashew and Mango Spinach Cashew. Grab a four-pack for $4.99 on Amazon or at retailers nationwide including Target and Walmart.

                              

 

 

 

An Appetite for appetizers

Begin your exam prep with a trip to the grocery store to stock up the freezer with Hip Chick Farms artisan organic poultry products like chicken fingers, meatballs, and sausage patties that can make quick, hot and hardy meals to get you through a long night of hitting the books. All of Hip Chick Farms’ products contain no artificial ingredients, stabilizers, preservatives or fillers and are picky-eater approved. Available at Target and other grocery stores nationwide.

The full-ride chair

Nothing will make a long night of studying longer than an uncomfortable chair, so invest in your education with a quality seat. The Modway Attainment Drafting Stool is a versatile ergonomic office chair that can rise to the occasion with an adjustable height that adapts to various desks (44” and higher) and is ideal for sit-stand desks. The caster wheels make for easy mobility, and a three-inch thick foam seat cushion, mesh back, padded flip-up arms and a foot-rest ring at the base helps keep you sitting comfy for hours. Available online at Staples.com for $141 or office supply stores nationwide.

 

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Entertainment

Outdoor entertainment into autumn, LA style

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Mild temperatures keep LA outdoor nightlife lively into fall

LA outdoor nightlife

Southern Californians don’t know how lucky they are. While East coasters are storing their patio furniture for the long winter, SoCal dwellers can enjoy shirtsleeves outdoors for months to come. Even at night, when temperatures drop to their lowest, a sweater or light coat is all one needs for a comfortable evening under the stars. So rejoice Angelenos, and enjoy the bounty of alfresco activities into autumn, such as these venues and events that define LA outdoors nightlife.

I-See-a-Bowl

You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in LA who would not agree that the Hollywood Bowl is the most fabulous place to experience an outdoor concert. With a full summer series that trails into early fall, the Bowl hosts international musical headliners, such as this season’s lineup of artists including Jack Johnson, Ziggy Marley, Pentatonix, Kool & the Gang and The Village People, Blondie and Garbage, movie soundtrack sing-alongs, and of course many of world-class symphonies like the Los Angeles Philharmonic and resident Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.

Over the years the 17,500-seat amphitheater has expanded to include a number of food venues inside the complex, along with 14 beautiful picnic areas so patrons can BYO-picnic, but in addition to its unique ambience, this iconic landmark continues to be most renowned among music lovers for its phenomenal acoustics, owing to the natural hillside setting in which it resides, where sometimes coyotes can be heard howling during lulls in the music. The bowl is the kind of place that makes you glad you live in LA, and it’s worth every moment of waiting to get out of the stacked parking.

 

Screen time

Well into fall weekends, Cinespia, the original and the largest outdoor movie event, hosts movie nights on the lawn at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Drawing crowds of thousands, this remains one of the coolest events in LA, with guest DJs spinning tunes and throngs spreading out across the vast grassy grounds in font of Rudolph Valentino’s mausoleum, with their low-back chairs, gourmet picnic dinners and flameless candles. Film aficionados talk along with and cheer their favorite lines from modern classics like Superbad and The Princess Bride and horror flicks that seem apropos among the headstones, like Night of the Living Dead.  Get there early to stake your space with a blanket, or pay a bit more for early access and VIP reserved seating.

Another excellent outdoor movie event is Showtime’s Eat See Hear, held at unique settings around LA, including Autry Museum in Griffith Park, La Cienega Park in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles State historic Park, Rose Bowl Stadium, ROW Downtown LA, and the Santa Monica pier. This movie event boasts the largest outdoor screen in the West has a big focus on food trucks, and the Showtime sponsorship and dog friendly nature of the events distinguish it from others around town. With the variety of venues, it feels like a different event each time you go. For a slightly increased ticket price, patrons can get “Fashionably Late” seeming in the most desirable front-and-center section.

Endless summer

While the list of outdoor evening events in LA is nearly as long as the line at Pink’s on a Saturday night, other don’t-miss venues and attractions that are open into October or later, including The Greek Theatre at Griffith Park, The John Anson Ford Theatre in the Cahuenga Pass, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which hosts Jazz at LACMA through November.

 

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AutomobilesLifestyleWomen's Interest

Girls’ Auto Clinic guide puts women in the driver’s seat, and under the hood

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Engineer creates women’s car care clinic and guide to help women perform basic car fixes and maintenance

Patrice Banks’ Girls Auto Clinic Glove Box Guide is just the kind of book my father wished I’d had when I got my first car, and second, and third, and so on. Instead of calling him up or bringing my car to my parents’ house every time I had an indicator light come on or I heard a new rattle or thump, I could’ve referred to this book and maybe even have found an easy fix I could do myself.

The guide aims to help women who are not mechanically minded to never feel powerless again by learning to maintain their ride, think like a mechanic and learn the basics so they can get down and dirty under the hood. The sassy and casual tone of the book makes it fun to learn things like what you can and can’t touch, the meaning of all those lights on your dashboard and which ones you can ignore, how to change a flat tire, correctly jumpstart a car, and first aid for your engine if it overheats. Tips also include the signs when it’s time to get a new vehicle.

The book has lots of easy-to-follow instructions with illustrations, tips, tricks and information that the author says every woman must know about her car to make her a confident driver and smart consumer. Banks, the founder of Girls Auto Clinic, worked for 12 years as an engineer and then went back to school to learn auto repair and began leading car care workshops. She now runs an auto repair shop/salon outside Philadelphia staffed by female mechanics. Girls Auto Clinic is published by Simon and Schuster, available on Amazon in paperback for $17.

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Eat & Drink

Hey hey hey, it’s Fat Sal’s

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Unabashed non non-fattening sub and burger restaurant serves up what every bro wants

As the name Fat Sal’s Deli implies, you would not expect to find quinoa salads and kale here. This is a burger and sub joint. And also chili, and shakes. The subs are, well, fat, some of them filled with everything but the kitchen sink. If you think I’m exaggerated, get a gander of the Fat Jerry, loaded with shaved rib-eye, French fries and a fried egg on top.

 

This is the anti-salad place. If you’re not in the mood for a sandwich, no worries, the fat fries can be a meal in themselves. Take the buffalo chicken cheese fries, which are topped with chopped chicken fingers, melted cheddar and mozzarella, buffalo hot sauce, and blue cheese dressing. Talk about a hot mess, this is a fat mess, and delicious and fattening and decadent by design.

As evidenced by the majority of the patrons being guys, this place is a bro hang out, with most of the women tagging along with their dates, though there were a few females indulging in some satisfying subs, perfect for a girls night out. For those trying to watch their figures, there is an Albacore Tuna sandwich and a token Grilled Cesar Salad option.

At the Fat Sal’s location in Hollywood, the open air patio and HD stereo system filling the air with R-rated rap music is inviting to their target crowd of urban hipsters, and the chunky concrete slab table tops, metal stools and wooden booths create fitting ambiance for a fast casual meal of hearty hamburgers and subs. It’s a place one can enjoy going to occasionally, but if you made it a habit, you wouldn’t be able to get out the door.

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LifestyleTech

MePhoto Road Trip Air is the little tripod that could

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The latest in compact tripods comes loaded with features, including a selfie stick

The MeFOTO Road Trip Air tripod with built-in selfie stick is a great option for serious photographers that want a steady shot but need portability and options for a full-on SLR camera or a smart phone camera, to adapt to the shooting situation.

The tripod features a convenient click-and-lock system for the legs and center column. It took a few minutes to figure it out, but with a firm twist each leg section locks in place.

The ball head and pan head can also be locked or loosened to be fluid. A full-size SLR camera or other small or medium camera with a bottom screw hole can be easily mounted on and removed from the platform using the universal quick release plate.

For mobile shooting, with a twist of the collar and a knob at the bottom of the telescoping center pole, the selfie stick slides out and can be used as a mount for a smart phone with a digital remote.

The center column is also reversible using a retractable weight hook at the bottom of the center column, so that the tripod can be placed ideally for close-up photography and shooting difficult-to-reach objects.

The tripod is available in a variety of chic colors and it also comes with a super nifty and sturdy carry bag with heavy-duty dual straps and a impressively large slide lock.

For a compact tripod system, the Road Trip Air is a kit with a lot of versatility and features. While it folds up relatively small, it is still a bit weighty at 2.5 pounds, so it will fit in a backpack, but it may be more weight than you want to carry if you’re climbing Everest.

The MePhoto Road Trip Air is available on Amazon or at http://www.mefoto.com/ for $175.

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FamilyLifestyleParentingTech

Osmo adds STEAM to kids’ coding with new music creator system

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Coding Jam is the latest gameplay system that teaches kids to code while they play

The other day my son commanded Google Home to play a custom playlist he had created on a Pandora. Two things occurred to me about this. First, wow. The digitally connected future vision of the The Jetsons was coming true; and then, my more mundane thought was, “That music is awful. My 10-year-old child could write better arrangements,” and thanks to Osmo, he can.

Like many other kids who love video games, my son craves leveling up and learning how to improve his skills, and Osmo has harnessed this excitement in a new technology experience, Coding Jam, that allows kids to create music through basic coding. Using colored building blocks and a system that interacts with an iPad or iPhone, kids can arrange and play musical notes in strings and sequences to write their own tunes.

The coding system, designed for kids 5-12, was created by former Google techs as the next generation of award-winning Osmo STEAM-fueled hand-on gameplay that helps children learn valuable coding skills that they can build upon to understand more complex coding, i.e., become the next genius engineers to save the world, or at least they can have fun and create some cool music.

The system works by helping kids learn music fundamentals such as chord progressions, leading into patterns and sequences. As they get to know coding’s creative side, they develop an ear for rhythm, melody and harmony. And more good news for parents: new research finds that high-school students who studied music appreciation scored 61 points better on their verbal SATs and 42 points better on their math SATs.

Once their arrangements are composed, kids can safely share their jammer mixes with family and friends. As they build the system with more blocks, they can create literally millions of combinations and programming options.

Here’s a short glimpse at what the experience is like: https://youtu.be/E9eAMARTnAk.

Osmo system are available at Amazon, Target, ToysRUs and online at the Osmo store.

 

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Dining in Los AngelesEat & DrinkEntertainmentRestaurants

Beloved by Walt Disney, Tam O’ Shanter is still serving up legendary prime rib, 95 years later

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Known for its prime rib and Scottish style, LA’s oldest running restaurant hosts Hollywood history you can feast on

Tam O’ Shanter is most famous for being the oldest running restaurant in Los Angeles, and if you know anything about the fickle LA culinary crowd, you know this is a notable achievement.

Besides its historic longevity, this legendary Scottish-pub-inspired eatery is renowned as a celebrated venue for special family gatherings, anniversaries, office parties and other events, accommodating its clientele within the rooms of its storybook-house walls, with a variety of dining spaces that offer either a subdued or festive atmosphere or something in between, for anything from a romantic dinner for two to a boisterous office party for 20.


Patrons in-the-know often request to sit at the Tam’s busiest booth, table #31, where Walt Disney frequently sat with his team of a imagineers and doodled his ideas on the table, where his sketches have been preserved. It is said that Disney’s visits to the thatched-roof burnished wood Tudor-style facade, which houses a labyrinth of banquet rooms and tucked-away private booths, inspired some of the buildings and rides at Disneyland and Disney world.


As far as the restaurant’s Scottish pub fare menu, the prime rib has a reputation as one of the best around Los Angeles, owing to the aging process, whereby the meats are hung to dry for weeks and kept at a precise temperature to achieve ideal curing, which accounts for the mouth-watering tenderness and flavor of the cut. Besides the steaks and chops, the Tam is a favorite for its signature dishes like the Toad in the Hole, Yorkshire Pudding, English Triffle dessert, and of course, their artfully distilled and aged single-malt scotch drinks.

 


Because the restaurant is owned by Lawry’s, founded in 1922 by the owners of the esteemed restaurant group, diners may expect a certain quality and ambiance, which the Tam delivers, but with distinction.  Tam O’ Shanter’s is as independent as its famed namesake. And in case you were wondering about that, name comes from a fabled Scottish soldier, the eponymous plaid wool-bonnet wearing hero of a poem written in 1790 by Scottish lyricist Robert Burns. In honor of its historical inspiration, the servers at the Tam wear plaid kilts and knee socks, and as a salute to the finest drink of the land, the restaurant features a Wall of Scotch, with more than 102 single malts and blends from distilleries around the world. 


The Tam remains one of the few institutions in Hollywood that has lasted through the city’s many restaurant fads and fancies, and by Hollywood standards it is a legendary superstar on the restaurant scene, where it has continued to age gracefully for the past eight decades, bringing many generations of families together to celebrate reunions and anniversaries, and it has been the backdrop for many gatherings of celebrities and famous love affairs, where gentlemen have proposed on one knee, couples have raised a glass to toast to anniversaries of their lasting love, and families have come together for reunions and milestone celebrations.

After all, if you are going to choose a place to visit each year to commemorate a special occasion, you might as well choose a place that has been there forever and will likely stand until its walls fall down.

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Eat & DrinkHealthLifestyle

Bubbly kombucha rises up

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Makers of America’s latest craze in probiotic drinks mix up new flavors to satisfy edgy tastes

Last month New York Times readers called out the newspaper over its coverage of bubble tea, which was becoming “mainstream,” commented a writer, seemingly unaware that the drink has been popular in America for nearly a decade. The same could be said for Kombucha.

For many this probiotic fermented tea is an exciting new elixir, offering the promise of untold health benefits, and requiring an acquired taste. While kombucha may just be getting its 20 minutes in the US, the lightly effervescent, yeast- and good-bacteria-laden drink is thought to have first been imbibed in 220 BCE, and for centuries it has been a favored therapeutic beverage in Manchuria, Russia and eastern Europe.

While some may be late to the tea party, kombucha companies have stayed on top of the trend, with new inventive flavors bursting onto the scene to suit every adventurous taste.  KeVita has brewed up some of the most creative batches of kombucha on the market, with its newest flavors including blueberry basil and roots beer.

“We know that fans of KeVita, and kombucha drinkers in general, tend to be culinary adventurers,” said Andrew Thomas, director of marketing at KeVita. “We are thrilled to delight these consumers with unique flavor pairings that reflect some of the most interesting elements of today’s food culture.”

 Other blends in the KeVita’s portfolio of two dozen flavors include Ginger, Pineapple Peach, Tart Cherry, Dragonfruit Lemongrass, Citrus and Raspberry Lemon.

One would be hard pressed to try all of the latest cold-pressed, fermented and otherwise imaginatively processed new-fangled drinks, but the only way to get to the bottom of them all is to drink up!

Personal trainer and nutrition specialist Daniel Carrilho samples the latest kombusha offerings from KeVita.
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EducationFamilyLifestyleParenting

Five Back-to-School Body Language Tips to Fight off Bullies

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Expert gives tips for children on posture to express confidence and strength

Going back to school should be an exciting time in every child’s or teen’s life. They get to see their friends after the summer break and make new ones. However, a lot of students are faced with severe anxiety and stress when a new school year comes around. Whether it’s facing the school bully, not having the confidence to raise their hand and participate in class or even just trying to make friends, a student’s body language can become a tool to turn the social and scholastic experience of school into a positive one. Body language and image expert, Yana German, shares tips for students on how to pass the school year with flying colors.

German’s personal story inspired her to help other children who are bullied. After relocating to the US during her teenage years due to anti- semitism in her native Belarus, German became an easy target for bullies at school. “ My parents couldn’t afford much, so most of my clothing came from refugee charities,” explains German. “Kids would make fun of me because I wasn’t dressed well and would throw food at me during lunch,” continues German. The bullying got to the point where German had to drop out of school for a year in order to get her confidence back and continue her education. Today, German is a mother to two daughters and shares her body language tips to ward off bullies.

One of the most important tips is to keep an open posture. “Parents should always encourage their kids to stand up straight with their head and chin up,” says Yana. “Having great posture will instantly boost your confidence. Pulling your shoulders back and opening your chest is one quick fix that works wonders. Not only does it make you taller it boosts your inner confidence,” explains German.

When a student is talking to another child he/she should always look them in the eye. “Nothing gives away your fear more than not looking at the person you are speaking to.” says German. “Looking someone in the eye and maintaining that contact for as long as you can is a great non-verbal way of expressing your confidence,” adds German.

When someone is bullied it’s really hard, if not impossible to respond with empathy. “Shy and vulnerable kids are usually easy targets for bullies. That’s why it’s really important to smile,” suggests German. “Smiling serves as your barrier towards any negativity, and bullies rarely target children who seem to be happy, calm and radiate good energy,” adds German. When a student rarely smiles, it can be a warning sign of low self-esteem.

When we are feeling self-conscious, we naturally tend to become “smaller.” We want to shrink away into the room so that nobody notices us. This means  we may hunch over, hide in a corner and cross our arms and legs until we almost disappear. German says the best way to gain confidence is to physically take up more space than usual. “If you are standing, take a wider stance than usual, put your arms on your hips. If you are sitting with a desk in front of you, use your arms on the desk to take up space.”German says. “This will make you feel more powerful and instantly give you more confidence.”

Relax your arms and open up your shoulders. “When a child or teen crosses his/her arms, it sends out a defensive signal that they want to be left alone,” explains German.  “He can put his hands in his pockets if he feels awkward holding his arms by his side. What’s important is that he keeps his torso open.  When the child’s arms at their side and they face the other child heart to heart it shows others he’d like to make new friends.”

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