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Apr 5

Get More Joy (and Less Stress) from Social and Emotional Learning

by Meghan Fitzgerald

Last week, I had the distinct pleasure of chatting with Suzanne Tucker, founder of Generation Mindful. If you’ve ever met Suzanne, you’ll know how much better you feel about the world after just a few moments—and, even though it took us a few lonnnnng minutes to make friends with the IG Live technology, we dove right into our topic, make wonderful light of our shared humanity and cracked open many of the trickier parts of supporting emotional development for our little ones.

I left the conversation feeling both inspired and even more at ease in my role as parent. Enjoy the conversation below or know you can always watch the full Tinker Talk on IG @tinkergarten:

On shame and being “enough”

Right off the bat, Suzanne reminded everyone to steer clear of shame for ourselves and one another. Parenting is hard enough, and if you can’t enjoy the support of an open, shame-free community, parenting becomes so isolating.

Per Suzanne, so much of this stems from us “thinking we need to get it right. So we run a real number on ourselves, and it becomes a DO, and what I'm here to tell you, as a mom and a therapist, and the founder of Gen M is that it's a BE.”

In her affirmative and yet totally practical way, she reminded us to “Let go of the “have to” and the “should” and rest into your enoughness, that is always ever unfolding in your relationships. When you take the “have to” off and you realize and really lean into the present moment, your relationship—your imperfectly perfect relationships, the mess and all, especially the messes—those are the learning opportunities.” 

She also reminds us to set the right goal. “The goal really isn't perfect. [It’s not] generation perfect. It’s Present. Self aware. Generation love, generation related, connected, messy.” And, you know we love messes at Tinkergarten!

Breathe in Love. Breath out “I am Enough”

My absolute favorite part of this Tinker Talk was this lovely tidbit—and it’s one I have continued to practice and share with my kids: “Breathe in love. And breathe out I am enough.” So simple so powerful. Suzanne reminds us, “We are good enough.” And she is so right. We are exactly who our kids need. We're exactly who we need. We are enough.

I loved this moment when Suzanne called us to promise to set a productive goal for our kids and ourselves: “Raise our right hand and say, I, insert name, Cancel the goal of “happy.” If we can all cancel happy, [and] make it a goal to name it, feel it, heal it and make connection a habit, we don't have to work so hard.”  

Approach Supporting Kids’ Emotions as a “be” not a “do”

“Social emotional learning, we all think it's a to do and an act, but it really is social thinking and it begins with us," Suzanne reminded us.

Our modeling teaches our kids so much, and that includes showing kids emotions we think of as positive like happiness as well as those harder emotions like anger and sadness. We want kids to know that they can and should experience the full range of emotions, and they can’t do that if we don’t model that full range of emotions.

Suzanne reminds us, “The only perfect child in the world that needs a perfect parent is the perfect child, I don't have it, I really don't have that child. So in place my imperfect child needs an imperfect adult who loves herself anyway.” 

Rituals Teach

Suzanne and the Gen M team have developed tools that help kids and parents build rituals to  support social and emotional development. And, it’s the rituals—the habit of taking time to stop, reflect and be in the moment with whatever is happening and whatever you are feeling that give kids the tools to understand and manage their emotions.

“Wherever you are right now, today, make a connection happen. Take one thing that you do, you're already doing meals, you're already doing outdoor play, you're walking around the block or you're having pickup time where you have to get in the car, make a ritual out of that. What was my happy today? What was my sad? What was my surprise?”

I just loved this Tinker Talk, and I look forward to many more with Suzanne! I couldn't agree more that, "you can't start too early with the Tinkergarten philosophies, and the Gen M philosophies, because they are life learnings." Thank you, Suzanne for sharing your wisdom so generously and more power to us all as we plant seeds for social and emotional learning for life!


Meghan Fitzgerald


After 20+ years as an educator, curriculum developer and school leader, I have my dream gig—an entrepreneur/educator/mom who helps families everywhere, including my own, learn outside. Prior to Tinkergarten®, I worked as an Elementary School Principal, a Math/Science Specialist & and a teacher in public and private schools in NY, MA and CA. I earned a BA with majors in English and Developmental Psychology at Amherst College, an MS in Educational Leadership at Bank Street College, and was trained to become a Forest School leader at Bridgwater College, UK. My worldview is formed in response to a my environment, culture, family, identity and experiences, and I love to learn from others. What I write in this blog will inevitably betray the blind spots I have as a result—we all have them! Please reach out if there are other perspectives or world views I could consider in anything I write about. I welcome the chance to learn and update any pieces to broaden our shared perspective!

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