Critical training to better protect, support, and heal vulnerable children


series: CAREGIVER 101 by Steve Gross


So, to become a playmaker, The first thing it takes is a desire to make a positive difference in the lives of children. That's the first thing is that commitment that says, Hey, I want to make a difference in the lives of kids. Now I kind of look at a playmakers having two sets of kind of skills, for lack of a better word:

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One is your occupational skills, your knowledge, your wisdom around whatever subject you're looking at. So if I want to be teaching children, well, I got to understand how to teach. If I'm going to be counseling children, I got to understand how to counsel. If I'm going to be coaching children in soccer or football, I need to understand soccer or football. Those are kind of a skillset that I sometimes called professional skills or occupational skills.

But in addition to those skills, many of which you will learn in courses like this, in addition to the knowledge and skill, you need to have an energy of vibe, I sometimes call it a disposition. Are you fun? Are you loving? Are you inspired and energetic? Are you positive? Are you loving and compassionate?

That vibe is every bit as important as skill in building healing life, changing relationships with kids. So it's not just about what you know and your technique and the interventions you use. It's how do you bring your joy, your love, your inspiration, your best human self to the work. Because outstanding human services require outstanding humans; and sometimes as care providers, we're focused so much on our service, on our ability as counselors or educators and our professional skills and knowledge. And that's really important. But at the end of the day, interventions don't heal kids. People heal kids and kids will not heal if they don't feel that you care about them, that you love them, that you're bringing positivity. The social emotional wellness of kids is often caught, not taught by adults.

And what we mean by that is you can teach kids to hey, be kind, but if you're teaching them in a way that's not timed, they won't learn your teaching because they're not catching a kindness vibe. If you talk to kids about being creative and joyful and inspired, if that's not coming from a creative, joyful, and inspired human, it doesn't mean as much.

And so part of our work as playmakers is not just the desire to help kids, but it's the desire to nurture those same qualities in yourself that you want to nurture in children, and for adults when we're also struggling with our own challenges, with our own circumstances, it's important that we put our social and emotional wellness as a top priority because you can't help children grow socially and emotionally if you are depleted socially and emotionally. And what we say in the most simple terms is you cannot share with others what you do not have for yourself.


Steve Gross

Steve Gross, M.S.W., is the founder and chief playmaker of the Life is Good Kids Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit whose mission is to spread the power of optimism to help kids heal. The foundation partners with leading childcare organizations to strengthen theircapacity to build healing,...

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life-changing relationships with the children in their care.

Steve’s teachings have been utilized across the country and throughout the world in response to the social and emotional needs of communities deeply impacted by poverty, violence and illness. Steve helps others discover their own sense of optimism so that they can inspire the people around them to focus on the good and overcome life’s most difficult challenges.


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