Stories from the Field: A Lifetime of Learning with the Feeling Buddies

Byline: Jenny Spencer 

Conscious Discipline’s reach has spanned world-wide for close to 30 years. With evidence-based, trauma-responsive practices, our clients have reported as much as a 45% decrease in negative behavioral referrals and up to a 50% increase in academic achievement! These numbers are due large in part to our incredibly skilled and dedicated Certified Instructors. Our 95 U.S.-based and 13 international Instructors support implementation by inspiring, teaching,  and coaching the growth of parents, educators, administrators, and all the lives they touch on a path toward self-regulation. Jenny Spencer is one of them.   


Here, Jenny shares a personal story of how the Feeling Buddies Curriculum helped her as a teacher and how she uses her commitment to fidelity to help others thrive in their own Conscious Discipline journey.  


When I first started using Conscious Discipline® in my special needs’ preschool classroom, I didn’t truly understand how to use the Safe Place. In the Safe Place Self-Regulation Center, children use research-based, developmentally appropriate tools and strategies to change their inner state from upset to composed. It is only in this composed state that children can access the higher brain functions necessary to learn and problem-solve.  

I had lots of cute tools for the kids to use and I taught the kids how to breathe, but I really didn’t know what to do beyond that. I can look back now and see that it was more like a vacation spot and sort of a substitute for time out. Boy, have I learned a lot since then! 

In One of the key factors that helped me grow was the Feeling Buddies. It was around when I first started implementing Conscious Discipline, so I did the best I could with what I had (which was very little). I had no clue about the Five Steps to Self-Regulation so how could I possibly support children in that process?!?  When I started using the Feeling Buddies, although the lessons were for the children, I think I may have benefited more than they did! As I taught the lessons with them, I was the learner too! In addition to the lessons, as I used the skills with the children and took the bold steps to give it a try and make mistakes, it offered many rich learning opportunities!

Now, I have the opportunity to support many preschool teachers around the country as they step boldly into the world of feelings and helping children feel supported with skills that were only offered by Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street when they were growing up. It is a new territory for most of us. With practice, we get better at recognizing the signals our bodies are sending us and learn how to name the feeling and respond to it throughout the day. As a result, we can be better attuned to our own bodies as well as those around us. The result—healthier relationships, shared power and problem-solving classrooms and homes!

Yesterday I was in a classroom where I have coached for several years. They have been committed to trying new things and sticking with the process. This year they have worked hard to get through the Feeling Buddies Curriculum, and they have worked with their coach to create a space where teachers can support children with the regulatory process with the Safe Place and the Active Calming center. I’m so excited to celebrate this accomplishment with them!  


Jenny Spencer is a Conscious Discipline Certified Instructor with 20+ years of experience as an educator for students of all ages with mild to severe disabilities. She specializes in school-wide implementation for early childhood programs such as HeadStart and faith-based programs. She also serves as a Certified Mentor for new teachers and provides coaching for parents. For more inspirational stories to help support you on your Conscious Discipline journey, you can follow Jenny at: Ignite Learning Together 




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