Social-Emotional Learning

How to Deal with your Child’s Behavioral Challenges 

20% of children in America experience behavioral and emotional challenges such as conduct disorder, anxiety, and depression. Children communicate their frustrations in varying ways, and taking a moment to pinpoint challenges as a team will create a positive environment that encourages positive actions at-home!

Understanding Mannerisms

The ABC technique  (Antecedent, Behavior, and Consequence) is one of the most effective ways of comprehending your child’s mannerisms.

Antecedent refers to what happens before an act.


If a child shouts, the antecedent may be that the child was denied a toy.

What follows is the behavior which is the action exhibited by the child in response to the antecedent. In the scenario mentioned above, the behavior is shouting. Consequence (C) is the result that can either reinforce or discourage the behavior. For instance, if the child’s shouting results in them getting the toy, they may continue doing so. (Lang, R., et al. (2009). If it results in them losing a privilege, they are less likely to behave that way in the future.

Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) is another excellent method of understanding your child’s character. It is a comprehensive assessment that aims to identify the purpose of a child’s behavior. It involves collecting information from multiple sources, such as parents, teachers, and therapists, for better understanding.

Strategies to Help with At-Home Outbursts

Before doing anything, take a deep breath and remain calm. The outbursts may be difficult at the moment, but things will get better!

A study published in Family Psychology’s Journal states that parental emotional regulation is associated with enhanced child behavior management. (Eisenberg, N., Cumberland,(1998).

Studies show that positive reinforcement is associated with a significant increase in desirable behavior in children (Eisenberg, N., Cumberland,(1998) . The analysis identifies that (a) parental reactions to children’s emotions, (b) socializers’ discussion of emotion, and (c) socializers’ expression of emotion each play a pivotal role in understanding the parental socialization of emotion.

Recognition of positive behavior is an appropriate response to the social environment creating the desired behaviors you may be seeking in times of outburst. Positive responses being presented after positive actions occur strengthens the likelihood of similar positive actions occurring in the future.

When Should Parents Seek Expert Help?

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry reports that about 80% of children with diagnosed mental health disorders do not receive adequate treatment. One in six children aged 2-8 years has a developmental, behavioral, or cognitive condition. Such cases can easily be handled with early intervention measures. 

If nothing seems to work, it may be time to call the experts. Parents should look for signs of increased aggression, persistent sadness, and anxiety. Professional intervention may also be needed if a child’s behavior interferes with their daily life, such as their ability to learn or participate in school.

Aspire Day School is here to help. We have many rehabilitative behavioral treatment programs for Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), Disruptive Disorders, Depression, Mood Disorders, Anxiety, and many other conditions. We create individualized treatment plans that attend to each student’s needs. 


  1. American Psychological Association. Children’s mental health.
  2. Healthline. What Is the ABC Model in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?
  3. Taylor & Francis Online. (2009). Parental Socialization of Emotion.
  4. Nancy Eisenberg, Amanda Cumberland & Tracy L. Spinrad (1998) Parental Socialization of Emotion, Psychological Inquiry, 9:4, 241-273, DOI: 10.1207/s15327965pli0904_1

Everything You Need to Know About Positive Reinforcement

Studies show that over 4 in 10 students often feel sad and hopeless, and 29% experience poor mental health. This can be alleviated by integrating mental health with education. An excellent way of doing so is by embracing positive reinforcement. 

Understanding the Ins and Outs of Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is a means of introducing a pleasant stimulus after a behavior. Frederic Skinner developed the technique under the operant conditioning theory. 

Skinner was an American behaviorist, author, social philosopher, and psychologist. The Hamilton College and Harvard University graduate worked as a researcher and professor in several institutions. His incredible research skills and experience fostered his contributions to psychology, specifically positive reinforcement. 

According to the principle, if someone is rewarded for doing something good, he/she is likely to repeat it, and the opposite is also true.

Positive Reinforcement Techniques that Work in Classrooms

  • Privileges 

Educators can grant students access to special treatment, like extra playing time, as positive reinforcement. 

  • Verbal praise 

This is a means of praising a person for doing well. 

  • Rewards 

Stickers and tiny toys can also be used as tangible prizes to uphold appropriate conduct.

  • Social reinforcement

Social reinforcement involves using positive social interactions, such as smiles, high fives, or peer praise, to reinforce desired behavior.

  • Intrinsic reinforcement

Intrinsic reinforcement is when a person finds the behavior to be inherently rewarding or enjoyable. 

For example, someone might enjoy playing a musical instrument simply because they find it to be a pleasurable experience

  • Social reinforcement

This involves using positive social interactions, such as smiles and high-fives, to reinforce desired behavior.

  • Prize Box

You can have a small container where you add trinkets from the dollar store for your students each time they behave well. This will help them develop good traits and stick with them.

  • Reward Punch Cards

At Aspire Day School, our students enjoy having reward punch cards that allow teachers to track positive behaviors and ultimately reward students when they have their punch cards fully completed.

  • Special Tokens

A token economy is introduced into a classroom so that when kids do the right thing, they receive a token that can be traded in for a gift. With such motivation, students will behave accordingly.

The Power of Positive Reinforcement on Kids’ Lives

When well-implemented, positive reinforcement can help kids overcome behavior challenges. This is because when they do well, they get rewarded, making them adhere to doing the right thing. Positive reinforcement is also vital in breaking learning barriers because students have a push to grasp content and pass tests.

Teachers can help build students’ self-esteem and confidence by rewarding them for positive habits. With this, they believe in themselves more and are willing to take on new challenges. 

When learners are positively reinforced, they feel valued for their contributions. This creates a more welcoming and inclusive learning environment.  

Positive Reinforcement at Aspire Day School

At Aspire Day School, we have centered our learning processes on positive reinforcement. We know when and how to encourage and reward good manners and impressive performances. With this, your child is always keen on making strides toward being an all-around great person.


Prioritizing Kentucky Students’ Mental Health

Mental health plays a significant role in a child’s development. The human brain is the command center for the body and 90% of a child’s brain develops by 5 years old (First Things First, 2023). According to WHAS11 ABC, of the 19 Kentucky school districts, only six meet the state’s mandated ratio of one counselor to 250 students. 

Increasing Need for Mental Health Support

Hopeful Futures Campaign reports that Kentucky has roughly 678,000 K-12 students; the following data demonstrates the increasing need for prioritizing the mental health needs of Kentucky students.

The Value of Licensed Social Workers & Professional Counselors in Academic Settings

Professional counselors and licensed social workers are able to act as support systems for children dealing with difficult situations beyond their control. Creating an environment that encourages students to openly express their frustrations with intention of identifying solutions enhances their problem-solving skills and adds value to their educational experience. Members of our team take pride in applying person-centered approaches toward evidence-based practices that help students, and their families, cope with difficult scenarios. 

COVID-19 Increasing Need for Mental Health Care

The National Center for Education Statistics reports that roughly half (56 percent) of public schools moderately or strongly agreed that they could effectively provide mental health services to all students in need, according to data released today by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) within the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES) (2022). Inaccessibility to care can result in further deterioration of a child’s conditions and may increase the learning barriers they face.

What Can be Done?

Aspire Day School was founded with the intention of reducing learning barriers for students facing mental health and behavioral health challenges. We take pride in creating holistic learning environments that encourage positive outcomes for our students. Having learning environments that integrate education with mental health allows students to understand that they are not alone in their learning journey and there is a team of educators and mental health professionals here to support them and their families. 

The Value of Integrating Mental Health with Education

Studies show that there is a significant number of individuals battling mental health issues. According to the World Health Organization, 1 in every 8 people in the world have a mental disorder (2022). Which adds to why we are seeing an increasing number of awareness campaigns every day. Most individuals do not have access to effective healthcare or are unaware of the resources available to them. Spreading awareness has been the key to combatting the mental health crisis in the United States. Most individuals are unaware of the ways mental health awareness can make a difference in saving lives.      

What is Mental Health?

Before we get to the fine details, let us get the basics out of the way, starting with the definition.

So what is mental health? Mental health refers to an individual’s emotional, psychological, and social well-being (, 2022). There are early warning signs that can provide educational staff with insight into interacting with students. If more schools would take a holistic approach toward interacting with students then it would present an opportunity to change, and save, more lives. Per the Youth Risk Behavioral Surveillance System (YRBS), suicide is reported to be the 2nd leading cause of death for middle and high school-age youth (12-18) (2019).

Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YBRSS)

YBRS functions under the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is a system that monitors six categories of health-related behaviors that contribute to the leading causes of death and disability among youth and adults.

Some of the health-related behaviors that are ported include:

  • Behaviors that contribute to unintentional injuries and violence
  • Sexual behaviors related to unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV infection
  • Alcohol and other drug use
  • Tobacco use
  • Unhealthy dietary behaviors
  • Inadequate physical activity

YBRSS is a comprehensive system of surveys that includes:

  • a national school-based survey conducted by CDC and state, territorial, tribal;
  • local surveys conducted by state, territorial, and local education and health agencies and tribal governments.

Ways Untreated Mental Health can Impact the Academic Future of K-8th Grade Kids

Now that you have a general understanding of mental health, let us get down to business.

Here are some effects of poor mental health on the education/future of K-8th grade students;

  • Depression and Anxiety

3.2% of kids aged between 3 and 17 have been diagnosed with depression at least once (National Survey of Children’s Health, 2016). Now, take a wild guess at what is usually a leading cause of such scary statistics. You guessed right, untreated mental health issues.

That is why mental health awareness and education for these learners are essential.

  • Poor Performance

For kids to perform, they must focus fully on their studies. This is not possible if they do not have healthy minds. As a result, they may end up recording poor results (Mental Health America, 2022).

  • Misbehavior

Mental health issues often foster indiscipline and emotional outbursts. When this happens, kids are usually given detention/suspension as punishment.

Such segregation often takes a toll on the students and tampers with their self-confidence. In the long run, their academic future is also affected.

Value of Creating Holistic Learning Environments

To avoid such issues, educators must adopt a holistic approach to education. This is because it often comes with a lot of benefits, such as;

  1. Better Performance in School
    Holistic child development takes into account two important aspects of academic excellence. These aspects are; the student’s learning preferences and the environment. When properly implemented, these factors help in fostering the learner’s brain development. With this in place, there is no reason why a child’s performance should not improve.
  2. Improves the Child’s Emotional and Mental Well-Being
    Here, kids understand that emotional and social growth are as important as academia. Therefore, they grow in self-awareness, and their mental health improves. Ultimately issues such as adolescent depression become things of the past.
  3. Fosters Student Interaction and Better Understanding of Differences
    Holistic learning environments are known to mold all-rounded students. Teachers do so by impacting vital skills such as; listening abilities and comprehension of different views. They also teach learners how to interact with their peers.


At Aspire Day School, we employ holistic learning in our philosophy. With several successful school-based mental health programs, we are what your kids need. Therefore, if you are looking for a top school in this space, reach out to us, and we will get you sorted.

Check out our ‘Parent Resources’ section for more information!


PBIS Cultural Responsiveness

The Center on Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports (PBIS) published a field guide that outlines integrated frameworks to embed equity efforts into school-wide positive behavioral interventions and supports (SWPBIS) by ensuring the framework aligns with culturally responsive practices to the core components of SWPBIS (2021).

Understanding is the foundation of taking a person-centered approach and will strengthen the student’s confidence in believing teaching personnel is taking the time to understand them as an individual if the teaching staff goes the extra mile to build a responsive environment that is culturally competent and inclusive.

The Power of Culture

There is power in taking the time to understand distinct cultures. Taking the time to understand, and learn, about varying cultures presents an opportunity to understand how shared beliefs and behaviors are acquired and maintained.

Aspire - Cultural Responsiveness

A Note on Culture from PBIS 

  • Behavior is learned and is context-specific
  • Members of a cultural group may, or may not, engage in each shared behavior of a culture depending on the situation
  • Shared beliefs and behaviors serve purposes

Cultural responsiveness consists of (a) holding high expectations for all students and (b) using students’ cultures and experiences to enhance their overall learning experiences (Leverson et al., 2021).

Empathy is at the core of cultural responsiveness and teaching staff are encouraged to take the time to understand the effects the school systems have on each student. Implementing these practices will ensure that teaching staff and personnel are creating an equitable environment for all students to thrive.


Leverson, M., Smith, K., McIntosh, K., Rose, J., & Pinkelman, S. (March, 2021). PBIS Cultural Responsiveness Field Guide: Resources for Trainers and Coaches. Center on PBIS, University of Oregon.

Equine Therapy

Equine-assisted therapy is implemented at Aspire Day School and encompasses a wide range of treatments that involve activities with horses and other equines to promote human physical and mental health.

Animals play a pivotal role in promoting favorable physical and mental health.

Equine Therapy for Mental Health

Equine therapy consists of mental health professionals working with horse specialists to teach students the process required to take care of the horse.

Caring for animals requires concentration, awareness, and teamwork. Equine therapy can help students dealing with:

  • Attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Relationship struggles
  • Behavioral challenges
  • Grief


American Hippotherapy Association: “What Is Hippotherapy?”

American Psychological Association: “equine-assisted psychotherapy (EAP).”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “About Pets & People.”

Department of Animal Science, Texas A&M University: “Study examines health benefits of horseback riding.” “How Horse Therapy Can Help Veterans.”

Northern Clinics of Istanbul: “What is hippotherapy? The indications and effectiveness of hippotherapy.”


Social-Emotional Learning

Dr. Arnold P. Goldstein and Dr. Ellen McGinnis developed skillstreaming with the intention of creating an evidence-based prosocial skills training program that enhances social-emotional competence for children and adolescence. Social-emotional learning is critical for holistic development because it increases prosocial behaviors in children and adolescents. Teaching children prosocial skills is a favorable alternative to punishing them for misbehavior.  

” Just as we must teach young children to tie their shoes and understand that sounds are associated with the letters of the alphabet, so must we teach them the behavioral skills that lead to happier school, home and community experiences.” 

—Braslow et al. (2010)


Four-Part Training Approach 

The skillstreaming method takes a four-part approach to help students acquire 40 prosocial skills. The four-part approach comes into play when teaching new prosocial skills. The skills being taught vary based on the age of the children being worked with. For example, one of the prosocial skills pre-K through 1st-grade students may learn could be “rewarding yourself” (skill 5) Braslow et al. (2010).

Using skill 5 as an example, the four-step approach comes into play by:

(1) modeling how students can reward themselves;

(2) role-playing actions that are indicative of the prosocial skill being taught (e.g. practicing positive affirmations can be considered a method of role-playing skill 5);

(3) receiving performance feedback from teachers;

(4) Generalizing scenarios in which the prosocial skill(s) is appropriate 

  • Modeling
  • Role-playing behaviors
  • Performance Feedback 
  • Generalization
Skillstreaming in the Elementary School: Lesson Plans and Activities, by Ellen McGinnis, © 2005, Champaign, IL: Research Press

Knowledge is power and skillstreaming is the key to successful emotional learning for children and adolescents.

For more information about the latest advances in social-emotional learning research visit the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning website.


Braslow, R. Klaus, R., & Mantzoros, K. (2010). “Skillstreaming Presentation Overview”. Curriculum Framework.

Goldstein, A. P., & McGinnis, E. (2022). “Skillstreaming “. Research Press. A social-emotional learning program.