Building Resiliency in Cloverbuds

Children need to develop resiliency skills starting from birth. Serving as a Cloverbud or 4-H Volunteer puts you in a prime position to continue building resiliency skills among the Cloverbud age youth in your program. Resiliency can be described as the skills developed by overcoming a stressful or adverse situation/ event. Youth face many challenges at home and in their personal lives that strengthen their resiliency and allow them to emerge from those situations stronger.

Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child includes factors children identified as helping them overcome hard times in their lives.  The most often cited factor is a consistent, caring, and supportive adult role model. This role model could be a parent, caregiver, or another adult that they interact with often – maybe even that Cloverbud or 4-H Volunteer! Can we build resiliency skills in our Cloverbuds? Absolutely! And you might not even know it, but you are improving those skills at every meeting. Give youth an opportunity to take a risk in a safe space within the club. This could be as simple as trying a new way to make the craft for the week. If the result is less than ideal, you have provided the safe space for them to learn and grow. Managing emotions can be nurtured by creative play and games that Cloverbuds might undertake at a club meeting. It might be that member that wants to win the game or finish their project first every time. Providing a space where youth feel comfortable asking for help if they don’t understand or need assistance with an activity builds resiliency.

Rename yourself the Strength Builder for Buckeye 4-H Club of Clover County because you are more than just a 4-H volunteer to those youth in your care. Make your own name tag, cape and dress the part, members of your club will be looking for the hero at the next 4-H meeting.

 

Source: Young, K. (2020, August 17). Resilience. Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. Retrieved November 9, 2021, from https://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/key-concepts/resilience/

Cloverbuds and Mental Health

When it comes to taking care of our children, it is easy to identify their basic physical needs: food, clothing, and shelter.  What children need to satisfy their mental and emotional needs may be less obvious.  Why is mental health important?  Good mental health enables our children to develop their emotional and social skills and to develop other critical life skills.

As a Cloverbud volunteer you play an important role in the emotional and social development of your Cloverbud members.  Select activities that are age-appropriate for your Cloverbuds.  For example, if your Cloverbuds are all five years old, select activities that use pictures and have minimal writing.  Most five-year old children are just learning to read and write and may become frustrated with activities that are focused on these skills.  Give plenty of positive reinforcement and encourage them to problem solve together.  Keep instructions short and simple, giving no more than a step or two at a time.  Show them what to do as well as tell them.  Know the ages of your Cloverbuds and choose activities accordingly.

How can Cloverbud volunteers help Cloverbuds to develop their self-esteem and self-confidence (both of which play an important role in a child’s mental health)?  Utilize these simple suggestions:

  • Praise them. Give positive reinforcement for following directions, cooperating with others, and being attentive.  Be encouraging if a Cloverbud is struggling with an activity.  Encourage them to work together cooperatively.
  • Know your Cloverbuds and be realistic about their capabilities. Choose activities that can be successfully completed.  Challenge them but not to the point where they become frustrated and give up.
  • Children value honesty. Let them know it’s okay to make a mistake.  Making mistakes help us to learn and grow.  Adults make mistakes, too, and it’s okay to admit that.
  • Provide a safe environment. Do not tolerate bullying or “picking on” others.
  • When it comes to discipline, be firm but fair. Do not allow unacceptable behaviors to disrupt your Cloverbud meetings.  Focus on the behavior and not the child.
  • Make Cloverbud meetings fun! Allow them to interact appropriately and allow time for play.  Keep activities simple and short to allow for their short attention spans.

Successful Cloverbud meetings teach children about working together and having fun.  Finishing a challenging task and developing new skills reinforces self-confidence and helps children to develop a healthy self-esteem.

Developing self-confidence and positive self-esteem are critical components of a child’s mental health.  Children who feel good about themselves are more likely to develop a positive outlook on life.  Cloverbud volunteers play an important role in helping our Cloverbud children to develop a firm foundation for positive mental health.  Take time to reflect on how you can be a positive influence on your Cloverbuds.

Need help with planning a successful Cloverbud meeting?  The Big Book of 4-H Cloverbud Activities is full of lessons that are designed to facilitate the healthy emotional and physical development of our Cloverbuds.  Contact your Extension Office for information on how to obtain a copy of The Big Book of 4-H Cloverbud Activities.

Value of Making Friends

According to an Irish Proverb, “A good friend is like a four-leaf clover; hard to find and lucky to have”.  Young children are just beginning the friend building process.  As the new school year begins, our Cloverbuds are going through many changes.

One big change is that they are interacting with new friends.  This age of development includes a time when the youth have many different “best friends” at one time.  If there is a disagreement between children, most of the time it is short-lived.

Learning how to interact with others is an important life skill that can be taught and instilled in our Cloverbuds.  It is important that we make sure they have this opportunity.

Have a conversation about what characteristics Cloverbuds have that will make a good friend.  Why are these characteristics important?  Some characteristics include honesty, sharing, taking turns, empathy, being a good listener, having trust, etc.

Cloverbuds can follow the 4-H pledge when making friends. As a volunteer and parent, encourage youth to be a good friend to others.

  • Head: using your head to make good safe choices and being a friend to others; speak up about bullying
  • Heart: be a caring Cloverbud to others, see what needs to be done and help others
  • Hands: through service and helping others you will be a good friend
  • Health: being with friends is good for mental health; laughing releases stress even for Cloverbuds

Youth look to adults as a positive role model, including how to interact with friends.  Children will model friendship behavior such as reaching out to friends to see how they are, being supportive, and investing time and energy into your friendships.  When they see that you value friends, they are more likely to do the same.  Building friendships takes time, energy, and effort.  Through experiences in 4-H and the Cloverbud program, friendships will blossom.

Recognizing our Emotions

Many people have difficulty dealing with emotions. As caring adults (4-H advisor, parent, guardian, etc.) we should talk about emotions with the children in our care. Emotions are those instinctive reactions to one’s given circumstances. In children you might see tantrums, crying, pouting, breaking things, or the silent treatment, among others. Sometimes as parents we want to jump in and fix things just like we did when our children were babies. To build our child’s resiliency skills, we need to step aside and be the supportive person “outside their box” as they are dealing with their emotions “inside their box”.

Triggers are those actions or events that when they happen, the individual responds with a strong immediate reaction. Triggers cause a sudden change in our emotions and our body becomes overwhelmed with reacting to the event. Sometimes referred to by parents as “pushing my buttons”, these words or actions bring about an instant reaction. Personally, one of my triggers is when someone scrapes a metal fork on a glass plate. My immediate reaction is to plug my ears. Self-awareness is an important skill for parents to develop in their children. It allows them to recognize emotions, triggers, and responses.

Self-Awareness: Circle of Identification

Here is a very simple activity that can be done with crayons and paper. You might also use cardstock or light-colored paper, especially if you encourage the child to take the paper home. This activity is most effective if you have a small group of children or a large group of children with several adults (i.e. 1 adult for each 3-4 children).

  1. Preprint a circle divided into 3 equal sections on the paper. Have extra copies depending on time available, but 2-3 copies per child is recommended.
  2. Give each child one paper and share the following instructions, one at a time, allowing all children to complete each step before moving on to the next step.
    1. Explain what an emotion is (angry, embarrassed, happy). In one of the sections of the circle, instruct the children to draw a picture of an emotion they have experienced.
    2. Define a trigger and give examples. In a different section, have them draw a picture demonstrating something that might trigger the emotion they selected in the first space.
    3. In the final space, have them draw a picture of how they deal with that emotion.
  3. You can use another sheet and redo the activity using another emotion.
  4. In summary, talk with them about the value in being able to identify their emotions, identify their triggers and evaluate their reaction to that emotion. This is key to really understanding the concept of self-awareness which allows youth and adults to handle both good and bad situations in life.

As caring adults, we can model feeling words by defining the exact emotion you are experiencing at that time. Avoid reactions like foul language, yelling or aggressive physical reactions, because you are modeling these as appropriate reactions to certain emotions. We can all agree that resiliency is a vital skill for youth and adults.  Building the concept of self-awareness is a step to preparing youth (even at a young age) for future success.

Sources:

Pincus, D. (2020, September 1). My Child is Out of Control: How to Teach Kids to Manage. Medium. https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/my-child-is-out-of-control-how-to-teach-kids-to-manage-emotions/

Sadowski, K. (2020, August 31). 8 Tip to Help Your Child Gain Control of His/Her Emotions. Medium. https://www.nspt4kids.com/parenting/8-tips-to-help-your-child-gain-control-of-hisher-emotions/

It’s Time to Talk

As a 4-H Educator and an uncle, I often get to interact with Cloverbuds. Just this past year I had one niece graduate Cloverbuds to start her first year in 4-H project age, and three nieces and nephews start their first year as Cloverbuds. One thing I often hear about and engage with is how much Cloverbuds love to talk. They love to share and tell stories. However, I often catch myself wondering how myself and others are modeling talking and having meaningful conversations?

In today’s world we see youth somehow shift from being extremely social and talkative to being closed off teens or young adults, struggling with social skills and not being able to have meaningful conversation with others. We also see adults who can’t even get through a conversation about religion, politics, beliefs, or even different thoughts without getting upset and ending the conversation or turning from constructive to toxic. What changes? How do we shift from being excited to talk to others and tell stories to having social anxiety or not being willing to talk to others, even when they think differently than us?

As a 4-H professional or volunteer we have to be conscious of not just what we talk to our Cloverbuds about, but how we model having positive and meaningful conversations. Here are some tips for having positive conservation with Cloverbuds:

  1. Take time to have one-on-one conversations with each Cloverbud (even if it’s a 2-minute interaction) every time you have a meeting. This shows them that it’s important to take time out of your life to chat with people and hear about their lives.
  2. Share information about yourself to model how they can talk about themselves and then ask questions that encourage them to share information. (example: I really like cows, they’re probably my favorite animal. What’s your favorite animal?)
  3. When they do share information about themselves, always give them positive reinforcement by saying things like:
    • Really?
    • Wow, that’s so cool!
    • No kidding!
    • Tell me more!
  4. Challenge Put-Downs or Hurtful Comments. At a very early age youth begin to put down themselves and others. It is important that we begin shutting down the negative comments youth make. When a Cloverbud says they don’t like someone or themselves, start pointing out that was it the other kid or themselves they don’t like but what they or the other kid did/said.
  5. Get on their level when talking with them. If you can, crouch or sit down to be at the same eye level as them and look them in the eyes. Have them focus on you when speaking.

At the end of the day, it’s our goal to model positive behavior and that also means discussion. So make sure that even when you are speaking to Cloverbud’s parents or other adults that you are trying to reflect positive conversation skills so they learn. Take time in a meeting to actually setup a time for Cloverbuds to just talk to each other and ask each other questions about their lives. This way, as they get older, they naturally have a curiosity to get to know the people around them.

Healthy Relationships

This lesson aims to help kids recognize everyone, including themselves, as unique members of the human family.

BACKGROUND/INTRODUCTION
People are all members of the family of mankind, or the human family. As human beings they have many things in common; for example, needs for food, clothing, shelter, affection, security, feelings, emotions, and ideas. Simultaneously, they meet these needs in different ways; they have different ideas and beliefs;
they look different and have different personalities.

Click here for the complete activity: HealthyRelationships-1-1e2lzre

Reprinted from Ohio 4-H Cloverbud Connections – Summer 2008 Edition.

Source: The 4-H Kid Stuff Activity Book (4-H 958 – 1993). Ohio State University Extension. The Ohio State University.
Submitted by: Sheila Meyer, 4-H Program Assistant, Ohio State University Extension, Hocking County, Ohio.