Posted in community, Family

Creating Stronger Communities

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today after a busy week at work and writing. Always with the writing! LOL! But I do love it. I can’t seem to stop.

Photo on Visualhunt.com

But enough about that. Today, I’d like to talk about creating stronger communities. It saddens me when I hear about school shootings or mass shootings in movie theaters or public places because these events are symptoms of a societal problem.

Photo on Visual Hunt

That problem is disconnection. When someone feels isolated and disconnected from society they exhibit symptoms of this by being violent to people who are close to them. That’s the first sign there’s a problem. We need to stop turning a blind eye to domestic violence. As with so many things, it all traces back to the home.

Photo on Visualhunt

Now we can blame poor parenting, throw our hands up in outrage, and point fingers. We can do that, but that doesn’t solve the problem, does it? And let’s be fair, none of us can say we’re perfect parents. We strive to be the best we can be, but there are days when we fall short. And in parenting, the most important job we have, there are no do-overs. You can’t go back and erase your mistakes.

So what can we do?

We can create communities where we all come together for the sake of the kids. I believe schools do an incredible job of offering extra-curricular activities be it sports or theater or clubs. However, what about the kids who don’t make the team? I think we need to create community centers within our cities where kids can go and play a pick-up game of basketball, or use a computer, or just hang out after school. A safe place to go with adult supervision until parents get home from work.

 

Photo credit: RobW_ on Visualhunt.comCC BY-NC-ND

I know some community centers exist, but we need more and they need to be affordable. It costs money to run these centers and that’s where I run into a snag because I don’t know where to get the funding. How about you, do you have any ideas? I’d love to hear from you so leave a comment and let me know you’re thoughts.

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Posted in Parenting, raising kids, Reading, Teen

It Takes a Village…

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today and I’m talking about the book and the Netflix series “Thirteen Reasons Why.” This week our school sent us a letter regarding the content of this show. They were concerned about how teens might be reacting to the strong issues the show addresses.

 

Thirteen Reasons Why by [Asher, Jay]

Now, I haven’t read the book or watched the series. I’ve got to find a time when my boys aren’t around to watch it, and right now they’re around a lot. I like that. 🙂 So I’m willing to make the sacrifice.

I agree with the concerns of the school district. The book and the show deal with a lot of teen issues like rape, slut-shaming, and suicide. The letter I received voiced the concern that the issues the show addressed might be possible triggers for some teens who are struggling with these problems themselves.

The school did a great service to bring these concerns to the attention of the parents. I was impressed the district was so in tune with what is happening among the student body. I work in the library and I know that book has been very popular.

Photo via Visualhunt.com

So the question arises, who is responsible for the message our kids receive, is it the author of the book? The producers of the show? The school district? Or the Parents? How about when the kids take this behavior to social media, who’s responsible then? My take on the whole situation is that we all are. Remember that old saying it takes a village to raise a child? This particular example is what the quote is talking about.

Our responsibility as authors is to make sure our stories are authentic and our message is a positive one. I feel, even though I haven’t read the book yet, that when Jay Asher wrote the story, he was attempting to show what could happen to a teen who was experiencing these problems. So teens who were slut-shaming or bullying would know the consequences of their actions before it was too late. It was a cautionary tale. Kudos to the author for sending such a powerful message.

There are differences between the show and the book, mainly for dramatic effect. The show is much longer than the book and the reason is because the producers wanted to make thirteen episodes to make the mini-series a two week event. Because of this, they had to make changes to the story itself. The administrators at the school were concerned the show presented suicide as a viable option to solving the issues in the story, and again, the possibility of this show as a trigger for teens experiencing some of the issues.

Suicide is never an option. We need to communicate with our kids and tell them help is available. There are professionals who can help them deal with their strong emotions and there are authority figures who can step in if they’re being shamed in any way. This is where the school took responsibility and warned the parents. Now the responsibility falls on the parents to get involved and either watch or read the book with their child and have an open dialogue with them. Could the producers of the series have done a better job of showing how Hannah could’ve gotten help? Probably. And I feel they should have. I’ve heard the show presented suicide as a viable option and like I said before, suicide is never an option.

But what happens when the teens take this behavior to social media? Who’s the authority there? Is it the school’s responsibility to make sure students behave? In my opinion, social media is out of the school’s control. The school can’t police all their students’ social media accounts.

Photo credit: Mark Kens via Visual Hunt / CC BY

How about the parents. Yeah. I agree in a perfect world, the parents are responsible for their child’s behavior, but we all know our world is far from perfect, and most kids don’t tell their parents when they’re going through something like slut-shaming. So how do we nip this behavior in the bud before it reaches that critical point?

We need the creators of these social media sites to be vigilant and look for this type of behavior among their users. They’re the only ones who can do this. And they need to take a strong stance against this behavior. Accounts should be suspended or deleted as soon as bullying appears. I know they can’t catch everyone, but they may be able to save a life.

I know some students will be up in arms about privacy issues and freedom of speech. But social media has never been private and freedom of speech doesn’t apply to bullying. We as parents need to teach our kids this behavior is never okay. We have to make sure we don’t inadvertently model this behavior in our own lives as well. So ultimately, every single one of us is responsible and it really does take a village to raise a child.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. What are your thoughts? I’d love to read them, so leave a comment! I love hearing from you!

 

 

Posted in Family, Literacy, Parenting, raising kids, Reading

Inspiring Kids to Read

 

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today and I’m talking about inspiring kids to read.

One of the greatest life skills you can instill in your child is a love of reading. As kids progress through the school system, each grade becomes more challenging, and the need for reading comprehension becomes even more critical.

These kids need to read so they can understand test questions and be able to answer them correctly. When they get older, they’ll need to be able to fill out a job application and read the requirements for medication. Do you know one in seven adults can’t read above the fifth grade level? Isn’t that scary?

Photo credit: EvelynGiggles via Visualhunt.com / CC BY

 

So, how do we instill a love of reading to turn this statistic around? Well, I started when my boys were babies. I read to them and rocked them every night. This did backfire a bit because my oldest wanted to be rocked to sleep EVERY night. You might not want to do the rocking. Some nights it took him FOREVER to fall asleep! But on a positive note there was a lot of bonding! 😉

I continued to read to them as they grew and their grandparents read to them as well. So it became a part of their environment and they didn’t know any other way. It was just one of the things we did.

Photo credit: ThomasLife via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-ND

          Then when my boys started reading on their own, they’d read to us. My youngest who loves reading could sit and read for a couple of hours. I know all there is to know about Transformers, he’s read the book to me so many times. The thing is, we as parents have to be patient and let our littles choose what they want to read, and even if we’ve heard the story fifty million times we need to be enthusiastic and pretend it’s the most awesome story in the world. Because to your child it is.

Photo credit: John-Morgan via VisualHunt.com / CC BY

          We also keep a steady supply of books around the house and our kids read at least twenty minutes a night. My youngest has become a big reader. What books lit that fire? The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. My little guy wants to get all the books in the series. So, I owe a huge thank you to Rick for writing such a compelling stories.

This is the book that started it all 🙂

My oldest who reads only because he has to is now interested in the series. My youngest has introduced him to these books. It does my heart good to hear them talking about books almost as much as they talk about Minecraft.

Another thing that helps is the fact that I write books. 🙂 ( You knew I was going to slip that in, didn’t you?) My oldest has read all three books in the Super Spies series and really enjoyed them. He’s also very proud of his mom.  My youngest read the first one, I believe just to please me, but he’s more interested in Greek Mythology right now and that’s okay, as long as he’s reading.

b569f-the2bsuper2bspies2band2bthe2bcat2blady2bkiller2b500x750              TheSuperSpiesandtheHighSchoolBomber 500x750         TheSuperSpiesandthePiedPiper 500x750

I also read. My boys see me reading for pleasure, and I’m hoping they’ll model this behavior and become lifelong readers as well.

So, that’s how I’ve tried to instill a love of reading with my kids? Do you have any other tips? Please share! I’d love to hear from you!

Posted in Parenting, Teen

Dealing with the Pain of Ostracization

 

Hello everyone. I hope all is well with you. I’m back today and I’m talking about Ostracization. Did you know rejecting, ostracizing, or dissing one of your peers can have major effects on their immune system? If sustained, these changes can increase risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, mental illness, and some cancers.

This worries me as a parent. How do we combat the effects of this behavior? I’m sure everyone has faced this type of rejection before. It is very painful and can create depression and anxiety in our child.

Did you know that chronic ostracization can lead to violent behavior? According to a study performed of fifteen school shootings, eight seven percent of them were a direct result of ongoing exclusion.  This is alarming.  (For more information click this link: http://www.alternet.org/culture/social-death-penalty-why-being-ostracized-hurts-even-more-bullying)

 

Photo credit: danielfoster437 via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Since school shootings are on the rise, we need to combat or deal with this problem. Not only to help end violence, but to maintain the mental and physical well-being of our children.

Why are certain people ostracized?

That is a good question. Ostracization expresses a group fear. It can be either physical or spiritual.  The person being ostracized is considered a threat in some way.

The problem is the communication between the group and the individual ceases. The individual may not even know how he’s threatening the group, so there is no possibility of recourse.

What can you do if your teen is ostracized?

 

Photo credit: Ed Yourdon via VisualHunt.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Well, the first thing we need to do as parents is realize there is a cycle your child will go through.  Click the link below for more information:

http://ostracism-awareness.com/recovery/

  1. There is a period of grieving. The individual will mourn the loss of the group.
  2. After that the individual happily removes anything that reminds them of the person or group ostracizing them.
  3. The next stage is Lifting. The person is distracted by life and let’s go of the group that ostracized him. The distraction of life lifts the person out of the grief cycle and they move forward.

Ways to help your teen deal with Ostracization:

  1. Keep the lines of communication open with your teen. If he’s willing to talk to you about what’s happening, you’ll be able to help him deal with this problem.
  2. Be sure your child can identify the difference between unkind behavior and bullying.
  3. Discuss what is controllable and what isn’t. We have no control over other people’s behavior, but we do have control over how we react to it. Discuss ways your child can cope with this and deal with the feelings this type of behavior brings out.
  4. Give advice but don’t fix things. It’s natural for parents to want to step in and fix the situation for their children, but it’s not recommended. Instead, let your child decide how he wants to cope with it and support his decision. This will go a long way to building self-esteem.
  5. Encourage participation in outside activities. Help your child develop new friendships and rebuild his support system. This can be extra-curricular activities at school, sports, or church groups.
  6. Consider outside help. If your teen seems depressed or isn’t coping well call a professional to help.

 

For more information click the link below:

http://bullying.about.com/od/Victims/a/How-To-Help-Your-Child-Deal-With-Being-Ostracized.htm

 

Thanks for stopping by my blog today. I hope I’ve given you some good information on ways to help your teen deal with rejection. It’s painful, but they can recover. If you’d like to share your ideas leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you!

 

Related Articles:

Can We Prevent Mass Shootings?

 

Volunteering: Another Solution to Teen Angst

 

What is the Underlying cause of Violence in our Schools?

Posted in Family

The Comparison Game

Hello everyone!  I hope all is well with you. I’ve had a busy week, working hard on my next project and spending time with the family. 🙂 We went to the movie Pixels on Friday and the boys loved it. Me, I’m more of a Baymax fan, so if you haven’t seen Big Hero Six yet. It’s a must!

I’ve been working hard with my boys and trying to instill in them a sense of individuality. Whenever I catch them comparing themselves to each other or someone else, I immediately tell them everyone is different. We all learn things at our own pace. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses.

I tell them their focus should be on being the best individuals they can be. Instead of competing with each other or their friends, they should compete with themselves and try to be better than they were the day before.

My youngest wants to be a Ninja. He runs around our yard, climbing trees and jumping over rocks. This summer he wanted to go to Ninja Camp. I asked him the night before camp if he was nervous and he admitted he was a little apprehensive. So I told him, “Be the best Ninja you can be. Don’t worry about all the other Ninjas out there. We’re proud of you no matter what.” He smiled and I could see the relief shining in his eyes. Sometimes we parents forget in our efforts to motivate our kids, we inadvertently communicate that we have high expectations. Sometimes they need to be reminded that they’re loved unconditionally.

Image courtesy of allthefreestock.com 

http://allthefreestock.com/

Turning our focus on our own goals and aspirations is important not only for my boys, but for everyone. In my opinion, it forces us to focus only on ourselves. I don’t mean we need to be selfish. I mean we need to be internally oriented.

I believe all of us need to be internally oriented.It’s less stressful and better for our health. I wonder if we all practiced this, if there would be a decline in stress related illnesses. I’m willing to bet there would be! 🙂

Where did I get this wonderful insight? You guessed it! I read a book. 🙂 The book is titled “Love” by Leo Buscaglia. I read it when I was in college and it really had an effect on me. It’s a great book. Check it out if you’ve lost your way or even if you haven’t. It’s a great read.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today! Please leave a comment if you have anything you’d like to share!

Here are some links to related posts:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daniela-tempesta-lcsw/comparing-yourself_b_4441288.html

https://lisaorchard.wordpress.com/2013/03/04/lets-raise-internally-oriented-kids-another-tool-to-help-beat-peer-pressure/

Posted in Parenting, Teen

Check out One Teacher’s Solution to Violence in our Schools

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you! I saw this on my Facebook page and had to share it with everyone. I think this is an awesome idea! I found this awesome story on Glennon Doyle Melton’s Blog. To see the original article click the link below.

http://momastery.com/blog/2014/01/30/share-schools/

ATTENTION ALL TEACHERS AND PARENTS

This is an article that needs to be repeated:

Photo Compliments of Flicker

A few weeks ago, I went into Chase’s class for tutoring.

I’d emailed Chase’s teacher one evening and said, “Chase keeps telling me that this stuff you’re sending home is math – but I’m not sure I believe him. Help, please.” She emailed right back and said, “No problem! I can tutor Chase after school anytime.” And I said, “No, not him. Me. He gets it. Help me.” And that’s how I ended up standing at a chalkboard in an empty fifth grade classroom staring at rows of shapes that Chase’s teacher kept referring to as “numbers.”

I stood a little shakily at the chalkboard while Chase’s teacher sat behind me, perched on her desk, using a soothing voice to try to help me understand the “new way we teach long division.”  Luckily for me, I didn’t have to unlearn much because I never really understood the “old way we taught long division.” It took me a solid hour to complete one problem, but l could tell that Chase’s teacher liked me anyway. She used to work with NASA, so obviously we have a whole lot in common.

Afterwards, we sat for a few minutes and talked about teaching children and what a sacred trust and responsibility it is. We agreed that subjects like math and reading are the least important things that are learned in a classroom. We talked about shaping little hearts to become contributors to a larger  community – and we discussed our mutual dream that those communities might be made up of individuals who are Kind and Brave above all.

And then she told me this.

Every Friday afternoon Chase’s teacher asks her students to take out a piece of paper and write down the names of four children with whom they’d like to sit the following week. The children know that these requests may or may not be honored. She also asks the students to nominate one student whom they believe has been an exceptional classroom citizen that week. All ballots are privately submitted to her.

And every single Friday afternoon, after the students go home, Chase’s teacher takes out those slips of paper, places them in front of her and studies them. She looks for patterns.

Who is not getting requested by anyone else?

Who doesn’t even know who to request?

Who never gets noticed enough to be nominated?

Who had a million friends last week and none this week?

You see, Chase’s teacher is not looking for a new seating chart or “exceptional citizens.” Chase’s teacher is looking for lonely children. She’s looking for children who are struggling to connect with other children. She’s identifying the little ones who are falling through the cracks of the class’s social life. She is discovering whose gifts are going unnoticed by their peers. And she’s pinning down- right away- who’s being bullied and who is doing the bullying.

As a teacher, parent, and lover of all children – I think that this is the most brilliant Love Ninja strategy I have ever encountered. It’s like taking an X-ray of a classroom to see beneath the surface of things and into the hearts of students. It is like mining for gold – the gold being those little ones who need a little help – who need adults to step in and TEACH them how to make friends, how to ask others to play, how to join a group, or how to share their gifts with others. And it’s a bully deterrent because every teacher knows that bullying usually happens outside of her eyeshot – and that often kids being bullied are too intimidated to share. But as she said – the truth comes out on those safe, private, little sheets of paper.

As Chase’s teacher explained this simple, ingenious idea – I stared at her with my mouth hanging open. “How long have you been using this system?” I said.

Ever since Columbine, she said. Every single Friday afternoon since Columbine.

Good Lord.

This brilliant woman watched Columbine knowing that ALL VIOLENCE BEGINS WITH DISCONNECTION. All outward violence begins as inner loneliness. She watched that tragedy KNOWING that children who aren’t being noticed will eventually resort to being noticed by any means necessary.

And so she decided to start fighting violence early and often, and with the world within her reach. What Chase’s teacher is doing when she sits in her empty classroom studying those lists written with shaky 11 year old hands – is SAVING LIVES. I am convinced of it. She is saving lives.

And what this mathematician has learned while using this system is something she really already knew: that everything – even love, even belonging – has a pattern to it. And she finds those patterns through those lists – she breaks the codes of disconnection. And then she gets lonely kids the help they need. It’s math to her. It’s MATH.

All is love- even math. Amazing.

Chase’s teacher retires this year – after decades of saving lives. What a way to spend a life: looking for patterns of love and loneliness. Stepping in, every single day- and altering the trajectory of our world.

TEACH ON, WARRIORS. You are the first responders, the front line, the disconnection detectives, and the best and ONLY hope we’ve got for a better world. What you do in those classrooms when no one is watching- it’s our best hope.

Posted in Teen

Dealing with Negative Emotions

Hello everyone, I hope all is well with you. I’m back today talking about negative emotions. These feelings are tough to deal with even as adults, so I thought it’d be a good topic for today, especially with the holidays coming up. It seems like gathering with families can bring these emotions to the surface rather quickly.

Part of the problem when dealing with these emotions is that they have a label of bad or negative, so not only are we dealing with the powerful negative emotion, we’re feeling bad because we have it.

In reality, these emotions aren’t negative, they’re telling us something. They’re a signal designed to alert us. Maybe a situation isn’t a good one and our fear is igniting our fight or flight response.

I did a little research on how to control our negative emotions. It just seems like those negative ones are so strong and they can take us right over, wouldn’t you agree?  Well, this is what I found at  http://www.self-improvement-mentor.com/controlling-emotions.html

First of all, let us identify some of those negative emotions.

Fear- That feeling that something bad is going to happen.

Hurt– That feeling you get when you suffer a loss. A loss is any unmet expectation.

Frustration– When you’re not getting the returns for your efforts that you want.

Disappointment– When you feel you’ve lost out on something forever.

Anger and Guilt- These emotions are the result of the violation of your own internal standards or guidelines.

First, let’s re-label these emotions from “bad” or “negative” to signals. That’s right; they’re signals that alert us to something. For example, when we’re feeling frustrated we need to look at our efforts and see if they need to be tweaked. Maybe talking to a mentor about our results will help us tweak our strategy so we can improve our results.

Our frustration is a signal that we needed. It told us that we needed to take action. In my opinion, that’s what these emotions do for us, they tell us to take action, to make a change. The only problem is that when we feel these emotions we don’t always know what action we need to take.

The first thing we need to do is take control of our emotion. So how do we do that?

I found these steps at  http://www.self-improvement-mentor.com/controlling-emotions.html

The first step is:

1)    Break your pattern immediately and disassociate. Do something crazy to break out of the emotion.

2)    Now get curious. Become a third party observer and ask questions. What’s going on here? Where did this emotion come from? Remember to do this as a third party. Don’t make it personal.

3)    Then identify the real issue of what you want.

4)    Then come up with an action that will get you what you want.

The key to this process is the disassociation. We need to become an observer so that we can identify what we want without being blinded by raw emotion.

These steps are clear and practical, but like everything else in life, it’ll take practice to master them. Don’t be disappointed if you don’t  master them right away.

In my opinion, these steps would be great to teach teens that are experiencing some of these emotions. They can be incredibly intense and many teens don’t have the tools they need to deal with them. By using the following steps above, they can start practicing now and master their emotions at a younger age. Just think how the quality of their lives will improve. 🙂

Thanks for reading my post today. I hope you found it helpful. If you have any tools that work for you on dealing with negative emotions please leave a comment, I’d love to read it!

****For more information on dealing with negative emotions go to:

http://www.self-improvement-mentor.com/controlling-emotions.html