Tips for Master Food Volunteers–The Language of Behaviour: Deciphering a Child’s Emotions


There are many rewarding aspects to being a Master Food Volunteer, including the opportunity to work with children and teens. As with any job, there are challenges. One of these is knowing how to respond to kids’ behavior when we feel it is getting “out of control”.

Stacy Sevy, a Master Food Volunteer from Fairfax, recently attended a program by Robert Kaplow, Director of Arlington Public School’s Extended Day Program, in Arlington, Virginia.  Mr. Kaplow provided an enlightening and powerful seminar entitled, “When Kids Act Like Kids” to convey a full spectrum of behavioral issues that may arise when dealing with this age group and, more importantly, the solutions to them.

As a seasoned professional who has worked with youth for many years, and a father of four, Mr. Kaplow shared what he has found to be the key to learning the language of children: simply taking a vested interest to understand a child’s heart. This is the source of all emotions that become the conduit for children’s nonverbal communication expressed as behavior.  Like a thermometer, adults can observe a child’s activity to detect whether a situation is beginning to boil such as a child who distracts his friends instead of listening to your directions, or there is a cool sense of peace and harmony when smiling teens dig into their citrus salad.

Labeling behavior as “good” or “bad” doesn’t do justice to what’s happening within a child. Rather, Mr. Kaplow prefers to describe behavior as a construct that constantly changes as a response to the child’s world around him/her, even changing from day to day and hour by hour. If one looks at challenging displays of emotion as a symptom of a root problem that needs to be addressed appropriately rather than an annoyance (usually a recurring one), tackling it becomes easier, for both child and volunteer.

Do you want to learn more about  why “kids act like kids” and how you can appropriately address specific behaviors with them your Master Food Volunteer programs?

Click here: MFV Blog The Language of Behavior Deciphering a Child’s Emotions for more in-depth information and tips for success.

Thanks, Stacy, for sharing this with us!

Stacy Sevy is a Master Food Volunteer with the Fairfax County Extension Office.