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I was coaching with a really great mom recently and we were talking about how she is going to help her children through a crisis which happened in their extended family. We wondered, how can she help the kids learn to help others who need them?

There are so many times when teens want to be helpful but just can’t figure out how. For example, when a friend gets in trouble or is sad or depressed. How about when someone loses a loved one or suffers a disappointment. There are even times a kid wants to encourage a sib or pal.

So, this mom spoke about an approach she’d used teaching school. She calls it, “Looks Like, Sounds Like, Feels Like.” Wanting kids to learn how to enact complex, abstract concepts, she asks them, “how would this look? sound? feel?”

Let’s use “cooperation” as an example. Ask kids,

“How would cooperation look?” It might look like making eye contact, nodding your head, getting up from the couch and moving toward the kitchen.

“How might it sound?” It might sound like, “Okay, I’m coming,” or “Sounds like a good idea,” or “Okay.”

Finally, you ask, “How might cooperation feel?” It would feel good, like people want to help me. It could feel powerful because the job of picking up my toys/junk is easier if someone helps me. It can even feel fun since working together is better than being alone.

Our kids are learning so much about living as social creatures. I’m often surprised when I ask kids what their first step will be toward “being a better student” or “getting along with their sister” or “solving disagreements better with my mom” or “clearing up a disagreement with a friend.” How about applying it to issues you may be having about showing respect? They seem to be pretty clueless about where to begin to enact the change.

Then, ta dum!!!! Enter: Looks like, sounds like, feels like. . . .

Give it a try soon. Perhaps you’ll not only teach a concept but actually set some motion in action!