Tag Archives: Children

Could My Child Be a School Bully? Tips for Concerned Parents

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No parent ever wants to consider the possibility that their son or daughter could be one of the mean popular kids at school, those who shun and dismiss anyone who’s different.  I call them Elite Tormentors, and the caring, compassionate popular students who stand up for the underdog, Elite Leaders

What are some of the warning signs your son or daughter may be in danger of turning into an Elite Tormentor? Pay attention to your child’s demeanor on the phone. Does it sound like he/she is making a joke at someone else’s expense or gossiping about another student? When he and his friends text one another, are they putting down other classmates? Has your child recently started excluding any of their old friends from social activities and when you ask why, they don’t have a plausible answer?

If your child is posting regularly on Instagram, have they posted any photos that humiliate another child? Be curious. While you may not wish to invade your child’s privacy, if he/she is taking advantage of that privacy to hurt themselves or someone else, as a parent you need to pull rank, lovingly demand access to their social networking and texting activity, and retain that access until you’re comfortable they are not the cause or on the receiving end of anything harmful emotionally.    

Another effective technique for outing an Elite Tormentor is to casually have a conversation with your child about who’s popular at school and who’s not, coaxing her into revealing the names of those students who struggle to fit in or who strike her as lonely.

A week later, ask her if she’d like to host a party, suggesting it might be nice if, along with her friends, she invited a couple of the forgotten ones, too. If she agrees despite what her friends may think, she’s not an Elite Tormentor. In fact, she’s probably an Elite Leader. If she won’t because she’s fearful her friends would freak but feels badly about it, she’s most likely a bystander. But if she recoils at the thought or acts indignant, perhaps even laughs, chances are you’re living with an Elite Tormentor. 

If your suspicions are confirmed, here are a couple suggestions: Continue reading

Service Learning: Teaching Children to Live With Intent

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The concept of living with intent, with a sense of purpose, can be taught to children at a young age. Parents lead by their own example, but great teachers can have a huge impact.

Carlthorp School, my daughter’s school in Santa Monica CA, has developed an incredible program with KidUnity, an organization that combines 21st Century learning concepts with service learning to create empathy, empowerment, and skills for children to engage in our world. My daughter is incredibly lucky to have participated in a year long program on civic engagement that culminated with a visit to Washington DC where the students heard from and made presentations to congress, media and organizations on subjects they had studied for during the academic year.

Here is a a reflection from my 12 year old daughter, Leela, on how the program worked and her experience: Continue reading

Five Keys to Nurturing Creativity in Your Child

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Every parent has heard it—the howl of the bored child. “Mom, I don’t have anything to DO!” or “Dad, come play with me!” Despite a closet filled with toys and the electronic gizmos of the moment, children everywhere are flopping down in abject misery at the prospect of filling up their free time.

Is it a parent’s job to provide constant stimulation and to solve every problem? Actually—no. In fact, if you constantly entertain your child and solve her problems for her, you are stealing from her the ability to be creative, to exercise her imagination, and possibly, to contribute new ideas and solutions to the world we all share.

Why is creativity important? Beyond the arts we often associate with creativity—things like music, art, drama, and literature—creativity is necessary for solving problems, especially new problems. Divergent thinking, sometimes called “thinking outside the box”, is the potential source of cures for disease and solutions to world problems such as poverty and hunger.

Be forewarned, though: Creativity can look an awful lot like misbehavior. It can be messy and inefficient—and the world would be lost without it.

How can you nurture creativity in your child? Continue reading

Crazy Train or Baby Train? How Stress Affects Fertility

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Stress is not our friend when it comes to good health, and that includes fertility.  As a mind + body coach helping women birth their dreams, I see all too often how smart, successful women are “killing themselves” pushing so hard trying for a baby and it breaks my heart. Let me tell you what I have learned: Mother Nature doesn’t like bullies and doesn’t offer short cuts. But she loves it when we are true to ourselves, and will freely give you all her secrets if you slow down enough to tune in.

If we are on crazy train we are going to miss baby train if we don’t soften our hard parts, dial down the crazy and get with the program.

Stress puts us in “fight or flight” mode which activates the fertility killing hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, pulling all the blood to our limbs away from our womb and reproductive organs. The body says, “we are not about to make a baby while we are running from a bear!”

What we are facing is a present day dilemma that all of us must at some point have a “come to Jesus” with; and that is if we are trying to make babies we are going to need to stop running from (or in some cases chasing) that proverbial bear. Something’s got to give.

The great news about this is slowing down is not a luxury it is a necessity. No more guilt, ladies! By making a few simple choices in our daily lives, we can keep our heads from exploding and step off of crazy train and back onto peace train (or what I love to call baby train.) Here are a few tips to get you started. Continue reading

Intent of the Day: Stand Behind What We Say

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Saying what you believe is only half the battle. It can be just as scary to try sticking to what you say. In any are of your life, standing by what you say is going to determine levels of trust, reliability and care. It’s going to indicate your ability to listen, adapt and stay committed. When we are tired or feel unsupported, it feels less worth it to stand. When we don’t see ourselves as leaders or captains of our lives, it can feel pointless, but we can assure you that much is communicated by speaking up and staying strong. We intend to stand behind what we say.

You too? Here are 3 things to help: Continue reading

The Power of Genuine Connection

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It can feel sometimes like the world has gone mad. Public discourse is filled with anger and confusion; people sit together in crowded spaces staring at their own flickering screens, isolated by the technology intended to connect them. And throughout the world, parents look for answers: How do I raise healthy, happy children in this complex world? How can I guide their behavior without punishing or spoiling them? Is it possible to build strong relationships in a fractured world?

The answer is yes—but it takes thoughtfulness and commitment. And the foundation is both simpler and more complicated than you might think. When parents are asked what they believe is most essential to raising capable, healthy children, most of them offer the obvious answer: love. But as it turns out, some of the things parents do in the name of loving their children are not helpful or effective. Children need more than love alone.

Imagine an infant lying contentedly in her crib. She may be watching her hands or gazing with fascination at her own feet when she suddenly becomes aware of a need. She may be hungry, or wet, or lonely, or tired. Whatever the cause, she cries to let her caregivers know that she needs them. And those caregivers usually rush to pick her up and soothe her. Especially when parents are new to the job, it may take several bumbling efforts before the cause of the baby’s distress is discovered and resolved. Eventually, however, the baby goes back to resting contentedly and her parents breathe a sigh of relief—until next time.

How many times in a day do you think this little scenario unfolds? Dozens, even hundreds of times—and each time, a baby learns more about trust and about the family she is now part of. If this cycle continues consistently throughout her childhood, she will develop what researchers refer to as “secure attachment”, what Alfred Adler and Rudolf Dreikurs called a “sense of belonging and significance” more than 100 years ago, and what in Positive Discipline is simply called “connection” (www.positivediscipline.org). This sense of being wanted and cared for unconditionally sets the stage for everything children will learn in life. Continue reading

Countdown to Hotel Bliss: Traveling with Adult Kids

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As a mother of two kids who travels for work, our family has experienced a variety of hotels, motels and resorts over the years. My girls are now young adults and it is a very different world when it comes to choosing a great hotel to enjoy during out travels.

We have gone through phases, starting with the classic small, affordable hotel where amenities were not the most important considerations. The kids were small and we didn’t need much.

As they grew older we needed more activities, restaurants and overall space. And finding a location that provided nearby events and things to do was paramount to keeping kids entertained.

However, a major change happened around the ages of 17. Suddenly the typical resort locations became the least attractive option. Hotels became less of a place to sleep, play and hang out to something totally different.

I noticed my kids had 3 primary requirements they had to have in our accommodations and I was surprised to find these factors actually were not difficult to find. We just had to know where to look. Continue reading

The Importance of Laughter and Play for Children in Foster Care

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It was noisy.

The seven year old was laughing. Laughing very, very loudly. Running through the house, the little blond haired boy was chasing our five year old daughter. Indeed, both were laughing, and the noise was echoing through the entire house. It wasn’t long before they begun this game of chase that our three year old joined in.

It was noisy. And, it was beautiful.

For the first time, our seven year old son from foster care was laughing. In fact, it was the first time the seven year old had even smiled in our home. Andrew had been living with us for four months, placed into our foster home due to severe and horrific abuse from the hands of his mother; his mother, the person who was supposed to shield her own son from all harm. Instead, his mother had abused her son so traumatically over a long period of time in his short life that Andrew had never really been given the opportunity to laugh. This innocent seven year old child had never known what it was like to, quite simply, have fun; never given a reason to smile.

The first months of Andrew’s time in our house often saw my other children, both biological and adoptive, try to invite their newest foster sibling into their world of play and imagination. At each invite, and each opportunity, Andrew would instead cling to my wife and I, choosing not to engage with the others. When either my wife or I were in the kitchen cooking, in the bedroom folding clothes, or other house duties, the seven year old would stand closely next to one of us. If either of us were sitting down, the child would sit next to us. Either way, he would never speak, simply cling to us, in his own world of trauma and anxiety.

Today, though, was different. For some time, Andrew was watching some of the other children playing in the lounge room, while my I was in the other other room, taking care of the dirty laundry. Perhaps it was the consistent approach from my children; perhaps it was his curiosity; perhaps he realized that his siblings from foster care were not going to hurt him. Whatever it was, Andrew finally joined in, and when he did, it was as if the flood gates of laughter had opened. I watched in amazement as this seven year old, this seven year old who never once expressed any emotion of happiness, joy, or amusement, was laughing. This seven year old boy was healing.

Laughter and play are wonderful ways for children in foster care to begin their healing process, as they help these children in need cope with their stresses, traumas, and anxieties. Indeed, as children in foster care begin to find a sense of humor, they will find it to be a resourceful tool they can use. As Paul E. McGhee, Ph.D. states,
“Your sense of humor is one of the most powerful tools you have to make certain that your daily mood and emotional state support good health.” Continue reading

Battling the Myths of Foster Care

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There’s an ongoing battle to tear down the myths about foster care. In a recent NPR interview, one foster parent discussed the negative impressions that the public is often given related to foster care—and how it’s a barrier to the great work that can be accomplished: “I think all too often the focus is on the negative and not on the good things that happen, the kids that were reunited with their family or the adoption.”

To hFoster-Care-IG-for-Publish-Smallelp counteract negative perspectives and continue to educate Master of Social work students and social service professionals, SocialWork@Simmons created “The Facts of Foster Care.” This infographic provides the latest objective and authoritative data published by collecting bureaus related to foster children and foster families—as well as data that will help to dispel myths about foster care. The goal is to achieve better support for those who need it most—especially the children and those who are caring for them. Continue reading

Foster Children and Online Technology: A Feeling of Control- A World of Danger

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Curtis was not in control. In fact, he had no control with just about everything in his life. After all, Curtis was in foster care.

Thirteen year old Curtis was placed into foster care after suffering neglect from a mother who was addicted to and sold illegal drugs. The teenager had been separated from his other two siblings, a younger brother and sister, as there were no foster homes in the area able to take in three children at that time. The foster teen’s father had been in and out of the family’s life, just as he had been in and out of jail. When Curtis arrived in his new foster home, he was confused, he was lonely, and he was scared. Curtis had been taken from everything he knew. He had been taken from his mother, his father, his brother, and his sister. He had been taken from his bedroom, his toys, his baseball card collection, his pet dog, his house, his home. The teen had been taken from his grandparents, his aunts, his uncles, his cousins, his neighbors, his friends, his teachers, and his classmates. Indeed, Curtis had been taken from everything that was familiar to him, everything he knew, and everything he loved. Continue reading

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