May 2014
Social IQ in China -  A Travel Log

An invite to Beijing to speak on the topic of Social IQ?  Of course!  Going it alone?  Not that brave.  I definitely needed a wing man - or woman in this case - in the form of Mary Shuffleton - my oldest friend and In Step colleague. She and I spent two weeks touring China and holding lectures and workshops with a wonderful group of parents, children, and educators.

Our welcoming committee from Green Bean Books, the
publishers of Raise Your Child's Social IQ  

Padme and Amanda spoiled us with foods from what seemed like every ethnic region of China.  We will never be able to stomach Americanized Chinese food again!  The yummy food and company sustained us through some pretty long hours of work to come.

The experience of speaking with audiences in a foreign language, even though we used both Chinese and English (thanks to Stella our incredible translator), was challenging, but completely invigorating. It is not as easy to be funny for a crowd when it is not your native language!

During our first meeting, I was a bit nervous. You'd think thousands of miles away from the U.S., parents might have different concerns and questions, but that was not the case. Parents are parents. We all want our kids to have friends, feel good about themselves, and to lead happy, successful lives.

I can't imagine what the trip would have been like without Mary.  She went WAY outside her comfort zone on this whole trip, speaking to hundreds of parents about child development.  She even surprised me when she talked about her own experience as a reserved, introverted child who befriended me in the 5th grade! It was wonderful to hear her talk about our relationship and to see the nods of approval from audience members who identified with her.  This led to numerous conversations about how Social IQ is not determined by extroversion or introversion. 

See the book cover peeking out from behind me? That is Raise Your Child's Social IQ translated into Simple Chinese

During one of the sessions a wonderful 12 year old girl came up in front of the whole audience and, in English, gave her ideas on Social IQ. She was right on! I even forgave her for making me look so short.

There was an incredible amount of audience participation; kids talking about bullying, moms asking about how to communicate better with their children, and educators searching for new ways to work on Social IQ in the classrooms. Everyone was so gracious and welcoming.


Mary and I came into the all day workshops with high hopes after the wonderful turn out and interest at the parent lectures.  Prepared with a 150 page Power Point presentation and a 140 page supplement to Raise Your Child's Social IQ, we were excited to coach Chinese parents on the skills our Stepping Stones parents learn in their groups!

Two hours into the first of three all day workshops, we knew we were in trouble when we saw the glazed looks on the eyes of the audience.  As it turned out, our audience members did not attend the three day workshop as parents but rather as preschool/kindergarten teachers.  All they wanted from us were Social IQ building games and activities to play in the classroom with their students. Huh?  The book is for parents of elementary school age kids and does not include classroom activities! 

After initial panic, Mary and I decided to go with the flow.  We ditched the whole presentation, worked into the wee hours of the morning, and created three all day workshops from scratch.  It was an exercise in improvisation.  Thank you In Step clinicians for your responsiveness to our panicked emails (and to my Studio Theatre Improv class!)

Lion Hunting Anyone?

Having the appropriate social response to our games!

Next to me is Stella Yao, our translator
throughout our stay in Beijing.

Imagine trying to translate a role play of 7 preschoolers. Stella did it! Complete with different voices.

The woman (Grace) between Mary and me is in charge of 4,000 pre-k/kindergartens.  It's hard to believe a CEO responsible for 400,000 children took the time to actively participate in all three of the 9 hour workshop days!

After long days of training, we still made ourselves available to the media for interviews and Q & A

Several editors from magazines like Family Education, Parenting Science, and Mommy interviewed us after the lectures.

This is a photo of the Green Bean Books team practicing their expression of feelings.  You should see the photos I edited out!


Since returning from this amazing adventure, I have spent a lot of time thinking about Social IQ, the culture of parenting here and in China, and the work we do at In Step helping children make and keep friends. We've been invited back and look forward to seeing our new friends again soon.

Thanks so much for taking the time to check out our trip. It was the experience of a lifetime.  


Best regards,  


Cathi Cohen

Director, In Step PC

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Raise Your Child's Social IQ with new sections on cyberbullying and social media?


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