Hundreds of teachers gather for ‘Called To Care For Kids’ conference

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — 400 teachers and child care providers gathered in Springfield this morning for this year’s “Called To Care For Kids” conference.

The conference teaches ways to better manage children.

The main event was a two-hour speech from Conscious Discipline Instructor Velda McKenzie whose goal is to teach child care providers how they should respond to children rather than react to them.

“The first thing is you’re gonna take pause,” McKenzie said. “You’re gonna step back. You’re gonna take a deep breath. And you’re gonna say ‘What can I do to help this child?’ Not how do I make this child but what can I do to help this child be successful?”

McKenzie says the next step is teaching the child a new social skill.

“Isn’t going to happen overnight, but if I remain calm myself, there’s such an improvement,” McKenzie said. “You’ll see it almost immediately.”

Staying calm requires what she calls “Q-Tip.”

“Quit. Taking. It. Personally,” McKenzie said. “This child, you know, he has big emotions and he doesn’t know what to do with them.”

Teacher Holly Robinson has seen this first hand with her 2 and 3-year-old students.

“Some days are tougher than others,” Robinson said. “Especially in the winter, we can’t get outside a lot. We do a lot of movement activities, we try to connect with the children.”

But sometimes she says that doesn’t work out.

“I’ve always tried to stay calm but sometimes your buttons get pushed and you just have to walk away,” Robinson said.

Robinson now has some tips she plans to bring into the classroom next week.

“I’m learning now to talk to the children about that they’re safe, that I love them, connecting with them, just giving them positive feedback,” Robinson said.

Preschool teacher Amanda Todd says when times are tough, she tries to remind herself that kids are people too.

“I feel like a lot of people forget that,” Todd said.

No matter what age they may be.

“They might be 2, they might be 10, they have a personality and people need to remember that,” Todd said. “That sometimes it’s not always going to mesh with what you want.”

McKenzie also has advice for parents in stressful situations.

She says take a step back, take a breath and look at the gift that you’ve been given.

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