Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Q: I recently heard about Amy Cuddy’s book and talk Presence. Can you explain her theory a bit? Also, can you explain how this could help children in school?

A: In 2012, Harvard professor Amy Cuddy delivered a TED Talk that has since been watched by over thirty million people. The talk centered on power poses. Cuddy explains that our body language not only subtly tells other people what we feel, but also affects our internal state. She explained that there are certain poses that are open, that take up more space that increase testosterone (the hormone that makes us bold) and decrease cortisol (the hormone that makes us stressed).


In interviews, Cuddy talks about two other real life applications of the power poses. One implication is if you’re a nervous test taker and you have studied madly for a huge test (like the SATs, MCATs or LSATs) and you are worried you will choke when you get to the test. You know the material, but just don’t know how you will perform on the test. Try the power poses before. They will relax and empower you.

A teacher who works with students with learning disabilities relayed how Presence helped with a child with selective mutism who has trouble speaking in social situations. The teacher taught him about power posing and about how everyone feels scared, and through these encouragement and tiny tweaks, the boy began to participate in class discussions.


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An acclaimed educator and social skills ​specialist​, Mrs. Rifka Schonfeld has served the Jewish community for close to thirty years. She founded and directs the widely acclaimed educational program, SOS, servicing all grade levels in secular as well as Hebrew studies. A kriah and reading specialist, she has given dynamic workshops and has set up reading labs in many schools. In addition, she offers evaluations G.E.D. preparation, social skills training and shidduch coaching, focusing on building self-esteem and self-awareness. She can be reached at 718-382-5437 or at