September 21, 2021 by Jodie Fishman, MPH, MCHES 0 Comments

This Year’s Hottest Back-to-School Supplies: Masks and Problem-Solving Skills

Jodie's son
Jodie's 6-year-old, heading to first grade

My six-year-old started first grade this month at a brand-new school, not a familiar face in sight. On the first day, he asked his next desk neighbor if she wanted to be friends. She responded with a shrug and said she’d think about it.

The next day, her answer was no. 


My mama-bear blood boiled when he told me her verdict, but his little freckled face remained relatively calm and matter-of-fact. He didn’t seem angry. Mostly, he seemed unsure of what to do next.

As our kids begin a new school year, many back in the classroom after a long Covid-induced hiatus, I join many parents across the country (and around the world) who are pitching in to help our kids figure out social problem-solving. 

Parents' Back-to-School Worries

A new study of nearly 450 parents of kids ages 2-8, conducted via text message by Bright by Text and Big Heart World, found that:

  • 75% of parents reported concern about their child’s social-emotional learning. 
  • Parents are more concerned about social-emotional development than academic learning.
  • Only 31% of parents reported feeling “very confident” in helping their child build social-emotional skills. 

With so much out of our control right now (95% of parents surveyed remain concerned about their child catching COVID), there are still ways we can help our kids get back out there confidently. 

Three Strategies to Help Our Kids Solve Problems

Here are three strategies for helping your child solve social problems: 

  1. Bounce questions back. When my first grader asked what I thought he should do to make friends, my other kids jumped in with suggestions. “Hang out at the monkey bars during recess,” suggested my third grader. “You’ll definitely make friends there.” My four-year-old asked if he could move up to 1st grade and be his big brother’s friend. (Sweet, but not possible.) I bounced the original question back to its asker: “What do YOU think you should do?” And, with just a few minutes of thought, he came up with some great ideas for making new friends and also getting along with the not-so-interested classmate. Of course, sometimes our kids will need us to help problem-solve — but other times they just need to know that we believe they have the answers.
  2. Use the “try 3 before coming to me” rule. With three kids close in age, there are near-constant conflicts in my house. Which movie to watch, who gets to use which toy, what playground we go to. Simply put: conflicts are exhausting — for the parents, for the kids, and even for our family’s dog who gets up and leaves the room when a disagreement rumbles through! The “Try 3 before coming to me” rule encourages kids to come up with three ways to solve a problem on their own before asking a grown-up. If they’re playing a board game and disagree, the “try 3” rule might look like: negotiate on a rule that may solve the problem, start the game over, or pick a new game. If all of that fails, then they can ask me (or another grown-up) for help. This encourages kids to solve a problem amongst themselves first before asking for outside help.
  3. Make respect an ingredient in disagreements. Kids (friends, siblings, classmates) don’t always agree. And that’s okay. But calling people names, yelling, or physically hurting someone else are not okay. When a disagreement comes up between my own kids or my child and a friend, it often helps to remind them that they actually like each other — and that they don’t have to agree, but they do have to approach each other respectfully. These words sink in the most when everyone has had a chance to take some deep breaths and calm down.

As we begin yet another pandemic school year, let’s all add social problem-solving skills to our school supply list. 

For more tips on helping your child grow a big heart this school year, text HEART to 274 448.

September 6, 2021 by Dr. Colleen Russo Johnson 0 Comments

How to Help Your Child Grow Social Problem Solving Skills

Kids Playing in Sand

As a parent, watching your child play with others can be equally heartwarming and anxiety-provoking: We feel a swell of pride when our child offers a toy to another child, while we simultaneously wait with dread for the inevitable, cringe-worthy moment when they barrel through someone’s carefully built tower.

Children aren’t the only ones figuring out how to effectively solve social problems. Navigating relationships and social problems is hard for all of us — kids and adults. (Raise your hand if you’ve ever secretly wished you could react to your own social problems the way your child does, just letting it all out, yelling, hitting, etc.) 

It should come as no surprise that children need help, practice, and compassion when it comes to helping them navigate social problem solving.  

How Can Parents Support Their Children’s Social Problem-Solving Skills?

One way parents can help is by helping children recognize others’ emotions — in general and in the moment, as they play. We have to keep in mind that what seems obvious to us isn’t always obvious for children who are still learning to recognize others’ feelings. For example, children might need to be nudged to notice that their playmate is looking disappointed or frustrated; they might need a hint that their playmate is happy when their friend shares a toy with them. 

Understandably, when our children find themselves in the thick of a social conflict, parents often feel compelled to quickly intervene to “solve” the problem. 

Consider, instead, pausing and observing, providing just the right amount of help. This approach can empower children to reach resolutions on their own. 

We can also practice engaging in cooperative play and problem solving at home. Make up a game with predetermined rules, play a board game, or work together to construct a castle with blocks. When a conflict arises, support your child’s emotional regulation by offering comfort or talking through it. And don’t be afraid to get silly and be the one to model various regulation and problem solving skills. 

Finally, we have to remember that our children are constantly learning from how we solve problems in our own daily lives. They are watching, and if we lose our tempers — whether it’s with our partner, a store clerk, or an annoying spam caller — then we’re not setting our kids up for success.

At the end of the day, we are all human, and we will make mistakes. As a mom to two strong-willed preschoolers, this topic is very real to me. Even if you’re equipped with all the best advice and strategies in the world, I guarantee you that sometimes the best solution is to jus survive the moment! And that’s perfectly OK.

September 6, 2021 by Julia Levy 0 Comments

Construya un Mundo Bueno con Su Hijo/a

¡La amabilidad importa! Una persona puede ayudar a otras personas y al planeta, y también le ayuda a si mismo. Las investigaciones muestran que cando haces cosas bondadosas por los demás, grandes o pequeños, se vuelve más feliz y saludable. 

Este mes, Big Heart World se une a nuestros amigos de Too Small To Fail de la Fundación Clinton para unirse a # BeKind21 de la Fundación Born This Way de Lady Gaga, un movimiento que nos pide a todos que hagamos algo amable durante los primeros 21 días de septiembre para flexione nuestros músculos de la bondad y construya una cultura de bondad y compasión.

Aquí hay un calendario con ideas que lo inspirarán a usted y a su familia a difundir la bondad este mes:

Esperamos que estas ideas se inspiren a usted y a su hijo/a, y estamos ansiosos por escuchar cómo hace del mundo un lugar más amable y valiente. ¡Comparte con el hashtag #BeKind21 con nosotros en Facebook o Instagram!

Puede registrar y hacer el compromiso # BeKind21 usted mismo:

September 1, 2021 by Julia Levy 0 Comments

Build a Kind World With Your Child!

Kindness matters! Being kind can help other people and the planet, and it also helps YOU. Research shows when you do kind things for others — big or small — you get happier and healthier!

This month, Big Heart World is teaming up with our friends at the Clinton Foundation’s Too Small To Fail to join Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation’s #BeKind21 — a movement that asks all of us to do something kind for the first 21 days in September to flex our kindness muscles and build a culture of kindness and compassion. 

Here’s a calendar with ideas to inspire you and your family to spread kindness this month:

We hope these ideas inspire you and your little one, and we can’t wait to hear how you make the world a kinder, braver place! Share with the hashtag #BeKind21 with us on Facebook or Instagram!

Please sign up and take the the #BeKind21 pledge yourself:

Born This Way Foundation launched #BeKind21 in 2018 to invite participants to practice an act of kindness for themselves and others each day from September 1st to September 21st to build kinder, connected communities that foster mental wellness.