Acorn to Tree LLC was created by NYS certified teacher and mother Patrice Badami.
Patrice Badami has a Masters in Elementary Education and Special Education. She has advocated for families of special needs children as well as for her own children with special needs.
Acorn to Tree Learn and Grow was created to help all children and their families have access to free educational and recreational resources.
Here’s the Free Video: How to Get Kids to WANT to be KIND: https://bit.ly/how-to-get-kids-to-want-to-be-kind
And the link to The Raising Kind Kids Club https://coffeeandcarpool.com/raising-kind-kids-club/
Patrice Badami 0:01
This is Patrice Badami with the Acorn to Tree in the Kitchen video series. We will be speaking to Nicole Black of Raising Kind Kids. She’s done many things with the Kindness and the Kindness Movement. She’d like to discuss with you some of the new things she’s done since we had our last podcast, some of the materials she’s created to help you, as far as teachers and parents, and give them some more things to help support your children as they navigate the beginning of the school year. Here she is, Nicole. Hi, how are you?
Thanks for having me back. I’m so glad that you’re back. I’m very interested to hear, especially since the school year begins. And all the kids are nervous about what will happen. It’s a perfect time to have you on as a podcast guest. So tell us what you’ve been doing. And some things you want to share.
Thank you. So I am a credentialed elementary school teacher, a mom to three, and my kids are a little older now. So I’ve got two in middle school and one in high school.
Nicole Black 0:59
But I started this business a long time ago because one of my kids was bullied severely when they were in elementary school. And it was hard to watch. As a parent, I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t know where to turn, and I didn’t know which resources were even available to me. And as I started researching and writing about bullying, I didn’t love writing or talking about it because it is so hard. And it affects me so profoundly because it’s personal.
Nicole Black 1:25
So I started realizing after researching that a lot of the anti-bullying messaging comes down to kindness, being an upstander, and including other people by being a good friend and being friendly. And so I started creating information, curriculum products, and resources, both free and paid, to teach parents and educators how to teach their kids to do this. So it wouldn’t be so great if they were crying when it’s the world was so amazing? And it would be? But, like the nitty gritty, how do we do this? How do we fit this into our everyday lives? How do we make this a reality for our kids at home and when raising siblings? How do we do this when they’re headed off to the playground? They’re in preschool or kindergarten because that’s where it starts. My niece is starting kindergarten this morning. Please be kind to her. So you know, and then as they grow up, bigger kids have more significant problems, they often say. So then you’re dealing with tricky social situations and peer pressure, the kindness, the respect, the empathy, the compassion, being a helper, being a good friend, all of that is the base for everything. And so that’s what we focus on over here.
When it becomes part of who they are when the children are growing, it’s second nature if they learn early. I purchased a couple of your things, and they were beneficial for the Girl Scout troop that I was in around the holidays. You had a tree activity with what’s kind, what’s not, and a Dreidel, also, with what’s kind and what’s not. I had the girls sit and work with that. And that was very helpful. Some worksheets came with that that were very helpful. So yeah, I love what you’re doing. It’s amazing. And it’s just so important because sometimes I think nowadays, after COVID, people have stressed the parent parents, they have a lot of pressure, a lot of them are working from home, but they just don’t have the time to sit and start these conversations. So if you have a manipulative, something they can put in their hand and play the games you’ve created, you can laminate them to make them last. I think it helps cement the concepts of kindness with the children. So yeah, let me ask you this. So, what tell us some of the elements that make up the kindness curriculum?
Like what type of things, I have a curriculum I’ve created for teachers to teach very specifically. You hand it to a teacher, and they know exactly what to do with it. It’s a month-long for each major topic. So, kindness and empathy each month is a different one. For parents, it’s a little different. So you don’t want curriculum per se because you need more time to sit down and a credential. Most of us were thrust into that during COVID. But we don’t have that time to sit down. We’ve got homework, we’ve got dishes, we’ve got laundry we’re driving them to, and so what we do is we teach parents how to fit this into the cracks of your already busy life. So, inside the Raising Kind Kids club, we have our course step by step.
Here’s how you do this. And so the simple things like talking about kindness, well, it’s easier said than done. You can say Hey, were you crying today? And then most parents don’t know what to do next. Even educators don’t know. Okay, well, how do you ask about it? So we have things like our 60 kindness discussion starters. So you can print these out. We kept this on our dining room table, and we would pick one or two every night at dinner. So, as we’re talking about our day, the kids get to pick one, and there are different themes: one on friendship, some on bullying, some on being an occluder. It starts the conversation by talking about kindness; it can’t just be a one-and-done kind of today.
Nicole Black 5:00
We’re going to talk about kindness. It’s not how it works. So we’ve got to weave it in when we see we’re watching a TV show or a movie with them. And we see especially for watching something like old school from our childhoods. So there’s rampant bullying and just awful things in those shows. And so we label it, when we see it, that was unkind. We don’t talk like that in our house. So, we have conversations built into our day-to-day life. We also spend a lot of time modeling kindness. And so, how we interact with our kids respectfully is essential. So if they’re yelling at me and screaming, and you know, they’re having their big emotions, if I yell and scream, I’m no longer modeling for them to how to be calm. So I get scary calm like I challenged myself, I’m like, Okay, this is triggering. I’m an adult, and I’ve had a lot of practice in staying calm. And so I say very calmly, you may not, you may not talk to me this way, you may not treat me this way, because I don’t treat you this way. When I’m angry, I stay calm and model that kindness for them. And then being super consistent. So, we don’t allow little microaggressions. We go over this in our course. And we have a raising kind, siblings ebook. That’s also in the Raising Kind Club. It’s part of a bonus for joining. So, how do you avoid sibling interactions that become toxic and emotionally unsafe for kids? So, they want to escape our house rather than want to, like, be here with us.
Patrice Badami 6:34
I was going to say what you were saying about the calm thing. So yesterday, like, this happened. I was in Kohl’s with my daughter, and she saw the backpacks. Yeah. And she starts doing that whole. And I just became very calm. I said we’ll discuss it later. Then she looked at me, and I said, We’ll discuss it later. And we’ll go online and see what you want to get later.
Nicole Black 7:05
Yeah, getting the “Gimmies” in the store is hard. Yeah, we usually take pictures. I’m like, let’s put it on your wish list. Let’s do it.
Nicole Black 7:14
Let’s take pictures. Which one do you love? Do you want to take a picture? So you can look at it later?
Patrice Badami 7:22
That’s right, that’s good, I love that. That’s a terrific idea to check. Um, yeah, so I love the idea of having a mason jar with your little cards in it. But in the center of the table, I have something like that, that I have a little turkey. Because I took, I took large popsicle sticks, and I put comments and things. So it makes it fun. It adds to your family dynamic; it becomes almost like a routine. And it’s a good idea to reinforce at home. And I love how you’d have this club now. So that’s fun. I love that. So now, the other thing I was going to say is, when you have your resources, I think another thing is for teachers to realize that in social skills, classes, and speech classes, they should be paying attention to your resources as well because that’s a perfect thing to go into the speech lesson. There are many things called lunch buddies, where children get together and discuss, and your tools are beneficial for that. So the kids can hold it in their hands. There’s one that I remember looking at; it was a kid stomping on the kid’s foot. And I looked at it and thought, okay, I couldn’t apply that. That’s something you’ve experienced. So it’s really, I love how you have it. It’s something that people want to avoid discussing. But it’s something that when you have these cute little characters, you know where one kid is not sharing the slide, but it brings it home to the kids on their level. So they don’t have to be afraid of bringing it up and saying that happened to me, this happened to me, but it’s very engaging. So that’s something terrific. Yeah, definitely. So, what misconceptions about teaching kindness might you have experienced?
Nicole Black 9:08
Well, there’s, I think, a couple that’s one, the one that pops up for me a lot is the kind versus nice, so there’s a whole nice guy finish last line that we’ve all been raised with and that kindness is a weakness. So I spent a lot of time honing in on what we will be teaching our kids if we’re expecting kindness and this from our kids, which is what we believe in as a family. This is one of our only two family rules. This is what we live by; to create that kindness habit, we need to understand what we expect from our kids because if we’re clear, we can explain it to them. And that’s true of anything in life, though what is kind of versus what is nice and nice tends to be overly polite. They tend to get walked on very quickly. And their niceness depends on the situation, so they’ll be nice if somebody’s watching. Maybe the teacher to the principal or the CEO later in life. We all know adults like this who are pleasant to the CEO, but they treat the janitor and the server like garbage; that is niceness. So they’re doing it for the accolades, or they’re doing it for the cookie or the praise or the if the Eddie Haskel’s of the world. I’m dating myself, but it’s their sticky sweet in front of adults. And then they are awful when they aren’t getting rewarded.
Patrice Badami 10:30
I’ve experienced every scenario. So, in other words, the whole being nice is a surface reaction to getting a reaction, but being kind is ingrained in who you are; it is something that’s in your heart, in your soul. And it’s part of your makeup as a person.
Nicole Black 10:54
Yeah, and you’re not doing it for a reward. You’re not I mean, you do get rewards, the intrinsic it releases oxytocin and serotonin, all the all the good, happy drugs. So it does feel good to be kind. And when you get praise, I did something kind for someone the other week, and it was in a very public space. People were just sitting watching me do this, and two came up to me afterward and complimented me, which felt sweet then. But that’s not why I did the kindness. So praise and rewarding somebody’s positive behavior is, you know, it’s the cherry on top; it’s not the motivation. I did it because somebody needed my help, and I could help. So it’s genuinely liking people, knowing that you can help people, and then wanting to do that for them; it’s not motivated by what you’ll get from it. Frequently, you don’t get things from it. And that’s, that’s okay. Because we are, it’s who we are. It’s who we’ve decided to be. And so being clear about that. So then, once we know that it’s not about being polite, we have resources on teaching kids manners because that is saying, Excuse me, and Thank you. And please, those are critical social constructs. But we don’t spend much time on manners because that’s one tiny piece of being kind. And when you’re almost too polite, you can get yourself into situations where you get taken advantage of; women have been taught for generations and generations to be polite. And so then they put themselves in maybe unsafe situations or situations where they’re uncomfortable. So because of that nice girl syndrome that we’re, hopefully, our generation and beyond is trying to overcome. So kindness is a strength because you are giving a piece of yourself to the world without getting walked all over, knowing when to set clear boundaries. So it’s also being kind to yourself. And sometimes kindness has to be loud. It’s not meek; it’s not this quiet little thing; sometimes kindness has to roar; stop it, you can’t treat her that way. I won’t let you say those slurs, or you may not use that word in my presence. So, being loud is kindness. And so it’s not this Niek quiet, little Oh, I’m going to be polite over here, not take up space. That’s not what we’re going for here.
Patrice Badami 13:08
Yeah, and I was going to say, it’s like, from my experience. Another thing is teaching your child to respect themselves and others. That’s, that’s a word of strength. Respect, it’s not like you’re saying nice, again, has a connotation of, you know, being taken advantage of. However, sometimes you’ll come I say you can say it, or you can’t control how others behave; you can’t control how they’re raised. And some families, I’ve seen it firsthand, raise their kids not necessarily to be mean but aggressive first, to ensure they’re not taken advantage of. And then that can snowball into turning mean.
Nicole Black 13:50
When you’re teaching fight-or-flight, it’s like a fight-or-flight response. But these kids are doing so absolutely. You can be assertive; you don’t need to be aggressive; you can ask for what you want and still be kind; you can ask for what you need and set super clear boundaries and still be kind; it’s when you are taking up more space than you need or not respecting other people’s also needs and wants that then you’re getting into that mean, it’s a fine line. And kids are.
Patrice Badami 14:13
If they’re told to go stand up for themselves, it takes it a little further. Because they don’t know the difference between standing up for yourself, getting in someone’s space, and making sure they don’t go after you verbally or otherwise. And that’s, that’s, that’s the hard thing. So you have to, you have to model for them, and you have to give them, and often that’s not what happens.
Nicole Black 14:38
And so, you know,
We have a lot of role-playing for this very thing because kids need to know how to handle tricky social situations before they happen. And so we have those role-playing moments where you can say okay, and we have tons of emergent readers, and then some harder, some harder books too. But you know, with those like you know, the kid pushed me down the slide. Well, if that happened, what could you say okay, you could say that; what else could you say by walking them through? So, they know how to stand up for themselves in emotionally healthy ways without being aggressive.
Patrice Badami 15:07
Right? See, I try to come up with a scenario. And I try to express what if somebody’s at the park. And they try to say, I’m going on next or this or that. But sometimes you must be careful with the younger kids because they will become anxious if you try to protect them too much and prepare them beforehand. That’s why it’s better to have your materials where it’s right in front of them, instead of having it be verbal. Have it be where look what happened here, let’s talk about what’s going on in this picture. It’s, it’s less intimidating. And it gives them a more precise picture instead of letting them fabricate something in their mind by just having a discussion. For sure. Absolutely. That’s why I keep emphasizing this. So yeah, that’s that’s what I’m thinking about.
So another thing is concerning, you know, when you have your child in a situation where they are trying to be kind, and they’re trying to stand up for someone else and stand up for what’s right, sometimes the bully will go after them. And that’s something where you have to roleplay that out and see how, what your next step is, give us a little more like, let’s know a little bit more about what your club is about.
Nicole Black 16:32
Absolutely. So, inside the club, it’s a monthly membership. And we just launched it; I’m excited about it because we’ve changed some things. We’ve taken all the feedback from all the people who had joined our previous membership, and we morphed it into what will be the most beneficial for families. So it has the raising kids course step by step; if this is happening, do it. And there are little tidbits, again, you can watch them in the cracks of your day, six minutes, five minutes quick, and then resources that help you implement those strategies. And then, if this is happening, make sure you return to this video and watch this video. So, support for parents, you’re not alone, you don’t have to guess, and you don’t have to search Pinterest for hours. You know, a straight line is the fastest way between point A and point B. So, this is a straight line. So it’s rather than, Oh, I found this principle. Isn’t it so cute? And I watched this one tick-tock fabulously; it’s all there. But the fastest line, if you want to streamline and get some kindness going quickly, this course will help you do that. It also has monthly principles. So, all of those fun things that you were just talking about. So things like that are all around me; we have to gamify it to make it fun hands-on, to know what kinds of questions to ask, to know what kind of books to have on your shelf, and to read at night. So, if you’re having a bullying issue at school, there are bullying books that are great for opening things up and starting those discussions. We have all sorts of resources that are themed for the holidays. It’s kids who love the holiday time, and you know elementary school teachers, I live and die by the holidays; I love them. So sneaking in the holidays with a little bit of reading with a little bit of, you know, I
Patrice Badami 18:08
have your shots right there, and you must use it again once it’s gone. So that’s great. And I was going to say what you said about some things here, something out there. And it’s like a mishmash. At the same time, your stuff is all in one spot. That’s the whole mission of Acorn to Tree that I wanted to get, here’s this, here’s like I wanted to have resources where people can go right to it. So that’s why, at the end of the podcast, I will have all the links to all your different things so that people can find your Instagram and social media. They could find this club specifically and go to your Teachers Pay Teachers. So that’s why I had you again because it’s essential to teach your child to be strong and have kindness be a part of who they are to prevent. Also, it allows them to identify when someone is bullying them, even when they start work and whatnot Oh, right. I see Yes, exactly. If their mindset is otherwise, they’ll be able to spot it, and you know, at some point, we can even take your strategies and apply them towards that. So it’s not something that they age out or
Nicole Black 19:19
No, no, these are these are life skills that I wish I had as a child. I wish I had them as a young adult. How to determine who’s a true friend and who’s, you know, a toxic friend, a fair-weather friend? I created this resource. It is my favorite thing I think I’ve ever made. I made it for one of my children because they were going through some tricky friendship issues, but I needed it for me, so I made an adult version like how to know if the friends that you have in your circle are lifting you and making you feel better about yourself or is it toxic? We were not taught to regulate or manage our emotions as children. We never talked about social-emotional learning when we were kids. So learning these strategies, learning how to be mad without being mean, all of these things, lifelong lessons, so you can apply it because you’re going to, here’s the problem mean people raised children and me, right? And so they allow it and so that those children grow up. And they become mean bosses and mean roommates and mean and nasty co-workers who are vindictive, are dealing with their stuff, you have to learn how to sidestep those people, deal with them. So, to protect yourself and to stand up to them if needed, but also how to avoid them and go beyond the clean side of life. To find your people who like and value you for who you are. Because you are worthy of finding people who like you and spending time with those people
Patrice Badami 20:42
that everybody makes. Right? I was just that everyone was listening; please excuse Carmela; the con your she’s getting her two cents in the background. I think she’s in the house, I can tell you. But, yes, that’s very important. Because there was something I read, I don’t know how accurate it is. But it says, oftentimes, bullies grow up to be very successful people. That’s what it said, We don’t want to instigate that. We don’t want people to believe that’s what’s true. But that’s this quote, and it stayed with me. Now, another important thing is, since I’m a special education teacher, people need to have access to this for children who are on the spectrum; they don’t pick up on sarcasm; they don’t necessarily pick up on social cues, visual, so by reinforcing and teaching them, you know how to spot a friend, it’s essential that they can, that, you know, that could be very devastating for a child who befriends someone who’s not their friend, and who could, you know, get them into a harrowing situation
Nicole Black 21:44
100%. And we have also to know I have a kiddo with different abilities. With her vision, she’s loved, she has low vision, and did a lot of research on when I was researching bullying. Children with disabilities are two to three times more likely to be targeted by bullies. So, knowing that is essential. And so knowing then that you have to be extra vigilant and watching their behaviors and changes in their behaviors, and who they are spending time with and finding them those good, trustworthy friends. When they’re young. You can guide that you’re like here’s why I invited you for the playdate. I always asked my kid’s teachers who kind of kids we invite over, and we sidestepped the Mean Girls or the kids who were encouraging mean behaviors or toxic behaviors. But now that my kids are older, I can’t tell them who to be friends with and who to nine-year-old. That’s the thing. That’s so yeah.
Patrice Badami 22:36
Yeah, very difficult. Interestingly, you could open that dialogue because they’re very closed-mouthed. No one’s no one would answer that type of The only thing they’ll answer is, when you have your teacher meeting, the parent-teacher meeting, they might say she tends to hang out with this child or that child, but they’re not going to say, I mean, I could say something like, who are they arguing? That’s something or who they are having a little riff with them? You’re wondering,
Nicole Black 23:01
Every teacher I’ve ever asked that in elementary school, I said, my daughter is having a hard time making friends. Who would you suggest we reach out to? They will answer it every single time. Because they want they know, they know who the kind kids are? If they’re paying attention, they know, if they’re watching the craziness of the playground; I used to stand and watch my kids on the playground and see a social dynamic and who’s no longer playing with whom and why. And are they being kind? Are they taking turns? Are they including other people, and then we would talk about it in our classroom? So, you know, not every teacher does that, which is fair; they’re busy and have a lot going on. And they don’t know, too, but they oftentimes will be more than happy to say, Hey, they would be a perfect fit with this kid. This would be a perfect fit. And then I invite
Patrice Badami 23:49
those people, that’s a great tool right there. Because honestly, I wasn’t sure how to phrase it or whatever, as a mother, too, and that’s a great thing. I remember when I was working, I would patrol and walk up and down. And if anything is going on,
Nicole Black 24:03
you know, eyes open.
Patrice Badami 24:05
Yeah, right? When things are, you know, when you’re affected by something yourself as a child, you’re hyper-aware of it to protect your children. Yeah. And that’s a good thing. Frankly, it’s almost like you’re within their framework, living in their world to be aware of it. Sometimes, I don’t like to micromanage. If you ever try to approach the parent, they say something like that. I’m like, okay, that’s, I have to work through this differently. Yeah. So yeah, having said that, before we wrap up, what are the upcoming projects, resources, and advice for parents and educators who are interested in teaching these concepts that you’re discussing here today? What are some things?
Nicole Black 24:52
Absolutely. So, for projects specifically, I just launched the Raising Kids Club, which is brand speaking new. It includes that course and those resources and includes a toolkit with all the bonuses and the Raising Kind Siblings ebook. It’s all just like, Here’s how you make this happen. It’s all there for you. It’s ready to go. I also have a brand new video, that is, How to Get Your Kids to Want to be Kind, that is free and available to you on how to get them to want to. We must remove the most common obstacles many of our kids face.
Kindness is a learned behavior. We can teach them how to be kind. Some kids are intrinsically kind, even if they’re raised in the same house, and some aren’t. We can teach them it’s a learnable skill, just like bullying is a learned behavior. So it’s kindness and empathy and compassion. But kindness is also a verb. It’s something you have to do. So we have to give kids opportunities to do that. So, we have tons of free and paid resources. You can sneak in a bit of reading and turn it into a game. We have discussion starters, book lists, bookmarks, and coloring sheets, like everything from Super educational to coloring sheets and everything in between. So it’s about if this is important to me, which it is. And so then, if it’s important to you, you can’t talk about it once, so when we talk about kindness all the time, when we say, who were you kind to today? Who did you include today when we’re having those conversations with our kids when they’re out the door to a play date? Remember to include your friend Remember to be a good friend; we’re having those conversations all the time, and they’ve realized that we value it and that we are spending our time and our energy on that. And then we also don’t let those little mini micro-aggressions slide by and mean the mean, unkind things, especially between siblings, super crucial so that we’re creating that kind, safe, emotionally safe, and physically safe home environment for our kids. So the club covers all those things to make it so too, like, how do you talk about it? How do you model it? How do you praise it? How do you encourage it more? It’s all in there, ready to go,
Patrice Badami 27:00
though? Do they get that on your website? Do they get it on your Teacher’s Pay Teacher’s Instagram? Like do you have a link tree?
Nicole Black 27:07
Absolutely. It’s going to be in the link tree it is on my website it is so it will be on all of my social media channels. So Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, okay, it’s all going to be everywhere, especially that free video workshop on how to get kids to want to be there. And that will be the first link on all of my link trees. Because that is the first place we have to start, we have to get that intrinsic motivation for kids to want to do it. We can’t force kids to be kind, you can’t force them to eat, you can’t force him to sleep can’t force him to potty train doesn’t work. You have to get that intrinsic motivation. So they want to do it. And so that’s what that whole video is. It’s like three quick wins to make to turn this around. You’ll see results in like minutes. It’s It’s fascinating. I love I love that one. That will then give you information on the Raising Kids Club and how to join, and it’s super easy. It’s a one-click Like yes, I’m in, let’s do this, and then you will get access to everything immediately.
Patrice Badami 28:04
Right? The anti-bullying thing was that everyone was discussing with my other kids way back. Somehow, it’s faded away. Nobody discusses that the school has a policy, this or that. And a buddy buddy bench at the school is an excellent start. It’s nice to be continuously taught. Yeah, it’s not something that it’s okay. There’s a buddy of mine, girl fat, that’s not sufficient.
Nicole Black 28:30
Okay, same with kindness posters. You can’t just have them all. I have charming ones. Just put them up and be like, check. We’re done. That’s better. I
Patrice Badami 28:38
did it. Yeah, that’s something that you need to continue to reinforce. And I love all the resources you’re discussing. And again, we’ll have it in the show notes for everybody. Once again, the black. She has her raising calm kids, Instagram socials, you can find her on all the social media will have all the links. Everyone will be there for now so that you can quickly go into our show notes for the podcast and, of course, the video series, and you’ll be able to find out more about what she’s doing terrific stuff. Nicole Black, thank you for joining us for the Acorn to Tree in the Kitchen video series. And it will also be on the podcast as well. Okay, so have a fantastic, amazing last week before school starts, at least here in New York. It’s not starting to look at, but enjoy those last few moments. And we’ll see you soon and talk to you again during the year. Thanks so much, everybody, and thanks for joining us. Bye.