Working with the Education Director of the UC Berkeley Greater Good Science Center, Vicki Zakrzewski, we’ve created The EDMO Method®. It makes all the latest human development research easy-to-get for kids, staff and parents alike. That’s also why Pixar consulted with Vicki and her UC Berkeley GGSC team when making the movie Inside Out.Our method is simple, yet the effects are profound. The way you act and think consistently builds character. Our six SEL skills focus on how we act. Our four mindsets focus on how we think. The three character traits are the kind of humans we focus on becoming. We invite you to reflect on how these skills can be helpful for both kids and adults – especially in a time of crisis.
You can’t think your way into a new way of acting, but you can act your way into a new way of thinking
We intentionally design our STEAM projects, Social Emotional Learning activities and camp day to allow campers to practice our six EDMO® RECIPE skills. To lead with authenticity, our staff focus on building these same six skills through development and training activities similar to what campers experience. Staff also use tools like the EDMO Vibe™ Game, T-shirt Challenges and SNAPS, to praise and recognize kids when they demonstrate RECIPE skill abilities at camp or in their community.
When campers practice and reflect on the RECIPE skills during camp, staff give them positive reinforcement and create opportunities for campers to praise each other. As they practice and praise, kids develop what experts call “emotional intelligence” or “EQ”. Below are “I” statements that capture the four mindsets that people with a high EQ practice regularly. These are the most powerful lessons that kids and staff learn at EDMO®. Do you identify with any of them? Are any of them hard for you? (There’s likely at least a few tough ones for all of us!)
As kids practice SEL skills regularly and build their EQ, they become more Curious, Courageous and Kind – universal character traits that research shows are highly predictive of high achievement and life satisfaction…i.e. Happy Grown-Ups.
How does curiosity, courage and kindness work to make us better, healthier, happier humans?
When our curiosity is piqued, our brain releases a chemical called dopamine that makes us feel good. Our hippocampus is also activated, which helps us form memories. That means curious kids remember more and want to learn more. Studies have also shown that when we express curiosity in others, we build closer relationships and are even perceived as more attractive by others.
At its core, courage is the willingness to act in the face of fear, uncertainty and doubt. It is a cognitive ability that can be trained. Our campers practice staying emotionally present and mindful, especially during challenging situations. That way their actions reflect positive character traits rather than negative instincts, and they build grit at the same time.
Kindness is truly the most powerful character trait. Like most anti-depressants, acts of kindness stimulate serotonin and endorphins and reduce cortisol levels. Practicing kindness has also been shown to strengthen the heart muscle, extend your life span and reduce anxiety. That means while you’re doing good for others or the environment, you’re less stressed and happier. You’re also connecting deeply with others. No wonder you become a happier grown up!