Under the direction of school psychologist Jillian Tomlin and guidance counselor Lisa DeSanto, students in grades six through eight have been learning new skills related to managing stress, fostering friendships and taking care of their emotional and physical well-being.
Through lessons in Advisory classes, which are run by classroom teachers, students have engaged in activities that help them identify their emotions and gain the necessary tools to thrive in school. With a focus on distress tolerance, interpersonal effectiveness and emotional regulation, the students were introduced to a set of strategies related to three acronyms: DISTRACT, GIVE and PLEASE.
“DISTRACT skills help students tolerate difficult feelings to better control their behavior,” Tomlin said. “GIVE skills teach students how to build and maintain positive and healthy relationships with people in their life. PLEASE skills teach students the importance of taking care of their physical selves in order to reduce emotional vulnerability.”
Tomlin said they’re teaching students that while DISTRACT skills – Do something else, Imagine, Self-soothe, Think about something else, Remind yourself, Ask for help, Count your breath and Take a break – don’t fix all situations, if students can get through a stressful situation without getting in trouble or making it worse, they have succeeded. Gaining the necessary GIVE skills – Gentle, act Interested, Validate and Easy manner – empowers students to make friends, get along with parents and siblings and maintain positive relationships with teachers. Meanwhile, PLEASE skills – Physical health, Eat balanced meals, Avoid harmful things, Sleep and Exercise – challenge students to lead a healthy lifestyle, which will help them maintain emotional control during times of stress.
“Social-emotional well-being is central to our mission, and we recognized that there was a void in this area caused by the sudden shift to remote learning last spring which needed to be addressed as we came together again this fall,” Principal Thomas Wilson said. “DeSanto and Tomlin have worked tirelessly to create lessons for use by coaches in Advisory classes which will help students to have greater awareness of their needs and feelings while also having a broader set of skills to cope with life’s challenges.”