ELISSA SEIB BELIEVES THAT EVERY CHILD HAS THE POTENTIAL TO BE A STAR AND ACHIEVE ANYTHING THEY PUT THEIR MIND TO. THROUGH NURTURING AND STRENGTHENING THEIR EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE, ELISSA HAS DISCOVERED THE KEY TO UNLOCKING THE POTENTIAL WITHIN EVERY CHILD. GENINE HOWARD CHATS WITH ELISSA AND FINDS OUT JUST HOW SHE HAS IMPROVED THE LIVES OF SO MANY SUNSHINE COAST CHILDREN.
hey say life begins at 40 and that is exactly how Elissa Seib, principal mentor of Curious Kids Can, felt when she turned the big four zero – it was time for a change in direction.
profile: What made you start Curious Kids Can?
elissa: Having taught for 17 years interstate, in public and private schools, in city and country locations, in both primary and secondary campuses as well as students of varying cultures, it became very clear to me that it was the student’s emotional well-being that had the most impact on their academic achievement. Yet, as a classroom teacher with a duty of care of up to 36 students, it also became very clear to me that, when time permitted, it was impossible for one teacher in a classroom full of students to successfully nurture each individual students’ social and emotional development simultaneously. For years I tried, but it was only after a series of ‘meant to be’ incidents that culminated in a car accident did I finally take the plunge and open the doors to Curious Kids Can and I haven’t looked back. Now I can successfully nurture and strengthen my students’ emotional intelligence on a strictly one to one basis - full time.
profile: What is emotional intelligence? What does it mean to Curious Kids Can?
elissa: American psychologist Daniel Goleman, well known for his Number one best selling book Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ, characterizes emotional intelligence as self-awareness, mood management, self-motivation, empathy and managing relationships. Most people know it as one’s social and emotional development. Emotional Intelligence is the core of Curious Kids Can.
profile: What do you find is usually the biggest issue facing children who come to you for mentoring?
elissa: Unhappiness, disillusionment, loneliness and frustration. Most of the students who come to me have low self-esteem and lack confidence. They are often overwhelmed by the pressures and commitments of school life or are struggling with their sense of belonging and being valued by their peers.
profile: Have you ever had to deal with a child who is ‘un-teachable’?
elissa: ‘Un-teachable’ no, ‘unavailable’ yes. There is a difference. I’ve only had one child who was very obviously forced against their will to come to Curious Kids Can and consequently refused to actively participate in the program.
profile: How would you describe your motivational process?
elissa: On a one-to-one basis in a unique learning environment, I mentor my students as they learn how to become aware of who they are as a person. They explore how to understand and manage their emotions, develop effective communication skills, deal with peer pressure and stress and most importantly, learn how to think positively and for themselves.
profile: Bullying seems to be an issue many children have to deal with. How can parents tell if their child is being bullied, and what is the best approach?
elissa: The parent / child / teacher relationship is the key to identifying and dealing with bullying. An attentive parent will notice when their child is behaving out of character, if they are withdrawn, overtly aggressive, over emotional, despondent or sneaky. The child may even exhibit bullying behaviours themselves at home with siblings.
If the parent observes any of these behaviours, knowing when and how to deal with them is crucial. Wait until the behaviour has subsided or not in its most active or volatile stage and talk to your child when they are in a calm, relaxed state of mind and not suspicious of your line of questioning. This way you can reason with your child as you express your genuine love and concern for them. Also share your concerns with your child’s teacher. They may have noticed similar behaviours or have some of the answers.
profile: Who inspires you?
elissa: Anyone, but especially a child who is a survivor, who has the never say die attitude which has enabled them to overcome challenging circumstances in their life be it adversity, their own demons or illness.
profile: What motto do you live by?
elissa: As a child, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and as an adult, “Carpe Diem … seize the Day” from the movie Dead Poets Society.
In chatting with Elissa it becomes apparent how genuinely overwhelmed she is by the huge success of the program. She says, “I truly don’t understand exactly why this particular program works so well but it does. Something simply clicks with the kids which sets them off on their own exciting adventure of personal discovery. Maybe it’s the rainforest walks that add to the adventure because rain, hail or shine the rainforest walk is one part of the program we don’t miss out on. Whatever it is, it’s exhilarating to watch. Sometimes you can see it in their eyes or when they leave with a smile that lights up their entire face or they bombard me with an array of questions … a bit like Monty Python’s Meaning of Life.”
To find out more about unlocking the star potential within your child visit www.curiouskidscan.com.au