7 Easy Ideas for Organizing Kids Artwork

In school, kids are encouraged to create, draw, colour, paint and build. These activities can certainly stimulate children, and help them grow. Very often, these masterpieces that your children create are brought home and proudly displayed. But what do you do when all of the artwork begins to take over your home?

Here are 7 great ideas:

1. FIND THE DIAMONDS. Rather than keeping every single piece of artwork your child creates, sit down with your child on a regular basis and ask him to choose the one or two he likes best. By the end of the year, you should have no more than 5 pieces of artwork that your child believes to be his “best” pieces. This will help keep the artwork under control, and will still give you an opportunity to save his creations for future memories.

2. A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS. Take photos of the artwork that your child creates and keep these photos in a scrapbook. This way, even if the artwork is discarded for space purposes, you’ll still have the memory!

3. KIDS FILE STORAGE BOX. Office supply stores carry portable file boxes that hold hanging file folders. These generally have a cover and a handle for easy portability. Help your child create her very own filing system. Perhaps one file folder for 2nd grade artwork, one for 3rd grade artwork, and so on. Now, all the drawings, and any type of artwork that lays flat, will be kept safe and organized. You’ll even be teaching your child filing skills! It’s never too early!

4. KEEP IT CONTAINED. For other artwork that does not lay flat, the perfect container may be a large, plastic container with a lid. Your child will have a space for shadowboxes, and other artwork that won’t fit into a file folder. Again, be choosy. If you keep every single piece of artwork your child brings home for the next 15 years, your house is going to be overflowing with it.

5. HANG IT. Get your child his very own artwork bulletin board so he can display his favorite artwork in his bedroom. When organized on a nice cork board, this really adds a nice touch to a child’s room. Plus, your child can very easily switch one piece of art, with another.

6. SUPPLY MANIA. If your child produces a lot of artwork at home, she probably has tons of crayons, markers and other art supplies. Keep it all in a portable box, light enough for your child to be able to transport it from one room into the next. In addition, separate and organize the supplies into separate Zip-lock baggies before putting them in the box. This will keep everything organized and easily accessible.

7. THE PERFECT GIFT. Kids artwork makes the perfect gift for grandma, grandpa, sister Jane, Aunt Sue, Uncle Jim, and so on. Rather than buying gifts for your child to give to family members, encourage them to give their creations away as special gifts to special people.

Maria Gracia – Get Organized Now! http://www.getorganizednow.com FREE Idea-Pak and E-zine filled with tips, ideas, articles and more to help you organize your home, your office and your life at the Get Organized Now! Web site!

10 Tips for School Success

Success in school doesn’t happen without parental support. Whether your son happily skips off to kindergarten or your daughter trudges down the hall to seventh-grade science class, your child needs your help to succeed in school. Author Robert E. Weyhmuller, Jr. offers tips.

Here are a few of them:

Read to your child every day.
It sounds like such a simple thing. But will reading to your child every day really help her succeed in school? The answer is emphatically, YES!

It’s a fact. There’s no better way to instill a love for reading in your child than by reading aloud to her. Children who are read to fall in love with books. They also develop good reading abilities earlier, become better listeners, and develop a stronger command of written language. But reading to your child every day does more than just feed the mind. It gives you and your child something special—it gives you together time.

Establish a homework routine. 
Decide with your child on a time each night to do homework and stick to it. Kids like knowing when things will happen, rather than being caught off guard. If you suddenly call your child in from his outside play to start homework, chances are you will meet more resistance than the allied forces on D-day. But if you establish a routine, such as homework begins at 5:00 p.m., arguments will be greatly reduced.

Make a pact with your child’s teacher: ‘If you don’t believe everything my child says about me, I won’t believe everything he says about you.’ 
Children exaggerate. They don’t necessarily lie, but their perceptions may be skewed. Whether your child describes his teacher as the Wicked Witch of the West or Mary Poppins, keep in mind that all may not be as he perceives.

Always be your child’s advocate, but never become the teacher’s adversary.
If you feel your child has been wronged, defend her. Call the teacher, have a conference, work things out the best you can, but don’t make the teacher the enemy. When parents and teachers are openly hostile toward each other, the child almost always becomes the loser.

Be your child’s Show ‘n Tell. 
What better way is there for your child to show how proud she is of Mom or Dad? What better way is there for your child’s teacher to get to know you? What better way is there for you to get to meet your child’s schoolmates?

Make your child a better thinker by asking ‘Why’ 
Remember when your child drove you crazy by asking ‘Why?’ Now you can make her a better thinker by asking the same question. ‘Why is there a stop sign on that corner?’ ‘Why is it wrong to cheat?’ ‘Why aren’t you allowed to stay out past midnight?’

Honor your child’s opinions. 
Provide your child with a safe environment where he can express opinions without fear of reprisal. Encourage him to respectfully express his opinions in school, too. Do your hackles rise when your child expresses an opinion contrary to yours? ‘I think it’s silly that we go to Grandpop’s every Sunday. I’d rather stay home and play with my friends.’ Instead of blasting him with a guilt trip, try acknowledging his feelings: ‘I understand. Sometimes I’d rather play tennis, but your grandfather looks forward to our visit.’ Your child’s independent thinking will blossom when he is permitted to express his opinions without retaliation.

Ask your child to teach you something she learned in school today. 
People remember 10 percent of what they read, 20 percent of what they hear, 30 percent of what they see, 50 percent of what they see and hear, 70 percent of what they say as they talk aloud and 90 percent of what they say as they perform a task. Teaching is talking and performing. When your child teaches you a concept introduced in school, she has mastered it.

Send your child’s teacher a birthday card. 
Teachers are generous people. Throughout the school year, they spend countless hours decorating classrooms, arranging special events and volunteering their time to help others—not to mention digging into their own pockets to supplement school supplies and activities. Sending a birthday greeting shows that you and your child appreciate the little things she does to make school enjoyable.

Let your teenager balance your checkbook. 
Your child will gain a better understanding of economics by balancing the family checkbook. He might also learn not to ask, ‘Why can’t we afford a new…?’

About The Author
Reprinted with permission from Beyond the Bus Stop: 180 Ways to Help Your Child Succeed in School, by Robert E. Weyhmuller, Jr. (Heinemann, August 1999. ISBN 0-325-00125-1) Available at local bookstores, on the Internet at Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com or directly from the publisher at (800) 793-2154.

Back to School Anxiety – Tips to Help Kids With School Stress

Back to school can be an exciting and anxious time for our kids. After summer holidays, they are not always eager to get back into the school routine. Even being excited to see friends they haven’t seen since the end of the last school year can add stress. For some, toss a new school into the mix, and, well, you get the idea.

We want our children to have positive experiences at school. We also don’t want them to feel overly anxious and nervous. So, how do we help them ease into the new school year?

Tips to Help Kids With School Stress

  1. Remind them they are not alone: While it may seem to them as though everyone else is comfortable and confident, let your kids know that most kids are actually anxious about the return to school. The nervousness they feel is completely normal.
  2. Sleep, sleep, sleep: Make sure your child is getting enough sleep, not just during the school year, but in the days leading up to the start of school too. Start to get into a regular bed time routine before your kids’ first day. Also, remember that your child may be extra tired and a bit cranky the first days or weeks of school. You may need to exercise more patience with them!
  3.  Give them healthy fuel: Start the day off with a good, healthy breakfast. Going to school with an empty stomach won’t give them the strength they need both physically and mentally. Make sure they have enough for snacks and lunch too.
  4. Listen… A LOT: If your child is experiencing stress and talks to you about it, let them talk. Listen to what they have to say and remember that issues that may not seem important to you may be very important to them.
  5. Talk to them: You can relay your own experience, but remember, you are sharing your experience to help them understand that their fears are normal and not minimize their feelings. Say things like, “I remember what it was like, and yes it is hard” rather than “I remember what it was like, but now I see it’s not a big deal” will go a long way. Make sure your kids know that they can come to you with any problem they may have.
  6. Be Prepared: Make sure you have all the supplies they need ahead of time. A day or two ahead, help your child decide what to wear and make sure those items are clean and ready to go for their first day. Make sure they know the routine for getting to and from school.
  7. Keep a close eye on them: You know your child. If you think they may be experiencing anxiety that is unusual or severe, it may be time to seek professional help for them.

Checking in with your child routinely on how they’re feeling about school can help you identify any issues that are being to boil. School can be challenging, but it should be a fun place to go.

What ways will you help your kids? Tell us in the comments below!

I Know Nothing! Parenting in the Teen Years

Have you ever said the wrong thing when dealing with your teenager or their friends. Do you say things that embarrass them? Do you ever wish you could take back the things you’ve said? I know I have, more times than I’d like to admit! In my family, I’m not known for my tact. I’m a pretty straightforward person. If there is something I want to know about someone, I ask. If I feel I need to tell someone something, I do. I usually say pretty much what’s on my mind. While this “open mouth” policy works for me, it doesn’t always work for my teenagers. As my kids have grown, I’ve learned that there is definitely a time to keep my mouth shut – even if it almost kills me!

When my daughter was in grade school, I was a “Kool-Aid” mom. Her friends would come over and I’d chat with them and get to know them real well. I could ask about their families, where they went to church, what their hobbies were, how their grades were. I could tell them about our family and our latest adventures in living. But as soon as she entered Middle School, the rules changed. No longer could I ask her friends questions about their families nor could I talk about ours. In fact, if I discussed more than “name, rank, and serial number” with her friends I was given “The Look”. You know the one, that says “Oh, Mom! Stop it! It’s none of your business. You are EMBARRASSING me!”

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that it is wrong for a parent of teens to want to know basic information about a friend. We still want to know about a friend’s character, their family background, and other miscellaneous information. But as our children enter adolescence and grow into adulthood, we need to be more careful on how we get our information. We need to respect their privacy and I’ve found when I don’t meet their friends with a barrage of questions, my kids will gladly give me the information I’m seeking.

Another way the rules have changed deal with phone calls. First, there is the mistake of giving out too much information. When my kids were young I could just say something like, “No, Jeni’s not home, she’s over Mara’s house….” and all was well. Now if I were to give that message (and I have) I would hear “Mom, did you HAVE to say where I was”. *Sigh* …name, rank, and serial number – and no more! Then there is the mistake of just talking too much to their friends when they call. The other day, my oldest boy got a phone call from a girl – not a frequent experience. He’s a junior in high school, but has never been very interested in dating or girls until recently. Well, this girl called – a girl who is an acquaintance of my daughters – and she asked for my son. I was surprised and taken off guard. “You want TJ?” , I inquired. “You don’t want Jeni? That’s odd”, I continued, “He doesn’t get many calls from girls….” Immediately I knew I’d crossed the line. I thought to myself, “Oh no! Did I really just say that? If I could only I could take those words back! Well, maybe he won’t find out.” No such luck. That’s the first thing the girl told him when they talked. Needless to say, I was in the doghouse for that one.

So what’s a parent of teens to do? As for me, I’ve decided that I will try being more closed-mouthed and less free with the information I give out to the friends of my teens. “No they are not home leave a number and I will have them call you back…” “Yes, he’s here, let me get him for you….” No personal information, no excessive chatting. While it is going to be hard, I have decided I will become like Sergeant Schultz of “Hogan’s Heroes” fame….”I know NOTHING……NOTHING!”


Patricia Chadwick is a a freelance writer and has been a stay-at-home mom for 15 years. She is currently a columnist in several online publications as well as editor of two email newsletters. Parents & Teens is a twice monthly newsletter geared to help parents connect with their teens. Subscribe at www.parentsandteens.com or by sending a blank email to: subscribe-parent-teen@ds.xc.org. History’s Women is weekly online magazine highlighting the extraordinary achievements of women. Subscribe at www.historyswomen.com/subscribe.html or by sending a blank email to: subscribe-h-w@ds.xc.org

Grading Your Child’s Friends

Peer Grading is a parenting tool that parents use to grade their child’s friends to protect them from negative influences. As children mature they become more other-centered versus parent-centered. They are more heavily influenced by the peer group and its culture than that of their parents. The believe that parents cannot understand what they are experiencing as teens and pre-teens. If some ways this is true. Today’s adolescent experiences more “adult-like” influences and decisions then most parents did when they were their child’s age. Today’s adolescent is faced with making decisions around sex, drugs, and antisocial behavior much earlier then ever before. But, parents also have a better perspective on right and wrong then do their children, regardless of what their child might believe.

This tool is used primarily as a protection for children. It is not meant to be a judgmental instrument to increase the parent-child gap. It may be necessary for parents to not disclose this tool to their children simply because they might misconstrue what parents are trying to do. Parents are simply looking at their child’s peers to determine how powerful and how positive or negative an influence that child is to their own child. An “A” grade would include peers who demonstrates behavior consistent with parents own set of values and behaviors. They are children that parents have a lot of knowledge about and have observed their behavior in a lot of diverse situations. They have shown that they do well in school, respect adults, participate in their community, and resist negative influences themselves. Consequently, they are peers with whom parents allow their children to have a lot of freedom and less supervision when with them. “B” grade peers are children with whom parents have little knowledge about. They appear to solid children with good social values and appropriate behavior but have not been observed acting in many different situations. Consequently, parents allow less freedom and provide more supervision than “A” grade children. “C” grade peers are children with whom parents have never or rarely observed their values and behaviors or parents are a little unsure about their type of influence on their children. More interaction, under parental supervision is necessary. “D” grade peers are children who have demonstrated a negative influence on a parent’s child and with whom their child is allowed little, if any interaction, unless closely supervised. “F” grade peers are children with whom parents do not allow any interaction with what-so-ever. These are peers who have openly displayed antisocial behavior and are engaging in behavior that is not consistent with parents own values.

It is important to remember that these grades are not life long brands. A child’s peers can change grades after they have demonstrated more appropriate social behavior. They can also drop in grades based on their decisions and actions. The higher the grade the less supervision and the more freedom a parent’s allows their child to have with him or her. It may be insightful for parents to ask themselves: “How would other parents grade my child as a peer?” Additionally, peer grading has nothing to do with a peers race or economic background. While they might affect opportunities, they have nothing to do with values or behaviors. It is simply a tool to help parents protect their child from negative influences by controlling the amount and type of interaction with other children who may have a negative impact on their own children.


Ron Huxley is a Licensed Marriage, Family & Child Counselor and owner of ParentingToolbox.com

Helping Your Child Deal With Grief

Recently, a close friend died very unexpectedly. Linda was in good health, a very vivacious woman: full of life. In one fell-swoop she went to the hospital with chest pains and within a week she was dead. She was found to have an aneurysm in her aorta and though they operated hoping to save her, it ruptured and she was gone. Her death affected my family in a profound way.

Besides their great-grandmother, who had been ill for years, no one this close to my kids had ever died. And I haven’t had much experience with dealing with death of a loved one either. So how could I help my teens deal with their grief? I decided the best way was to try and understand grief itself.

Grief is a universal experience and will affect all people at some point in their life. It is a normal response to loss and can show itself physically, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.

Grief does not come with an instruction manual and it is not something you can prepare for. It is a very lonely place and no matter how many people gather around you to console you, grieving is something that you ultimately have to do alone.

While there are many theories on the different stages of grief that a person will go through, grieving is an individual process and everyone experiences grief differently. Generally, however, each person will experience certain aspects of the grieving process. While most experts will agree that one cannot truly understand grief until it has been experienced, most people will at one time or another experience a full range of emotions such as disbelief, denial, anger, depression, fear, guilt, forgiveness, the ability to cope, and the peace of resolution (Kinnamman, My Companion Through Grief, p. 34).

Though not necessarily orderly or predictable, there are at least four basic stages of grief that the bereft will go through: Shock, Acute Pain, Dull Pain, and Healing.

At the outset, the first stage of the grieving process is often a period shock. It seems that many are temporarily anesthetized when overwhelmed with sorrow, keeping them from facing the reality of the tragedy all at once. God has made us this way so that we can bear the overwhelming pain and sorrow of the death of a loved one. This stage may last from a few minutes to a few days. If it goes on for some weeks, it is unhealthy and help should be sought.

The next stage of grief is one of acute pain that lasts about two months. The bereft will experience intense grief, shock, emotional distress, anxiety, and fear. Not much can be done at this stage to help the grieving person, just be available to let them express their feelings when they are ready.

The third stage of grief consists of a dull pain that can last from a few months up to many years. This stage is characterized by lack of motivation, indifference, passivity, and introversion. It can be a very lonely time and in many cases loved ones will try to rush the grieving person into the next stage of grief, not realizing that the grieving person will have to work through this stage themselves and at their own pace. This is a time to be patient and help you’re loved one work through their grief.

The final stage of grief is that of healing. It is a time of renewal and emotional healing. Motivation, creativity, and meaningful relationships gradually return and life becomes more normal again. Though life will never be the same, the events causing the loss can now be discussed with emotional detachment. While some scars will never heal and some memories will never be forgotten, the searing pain and debilitating emotions are gone (Kinnamman, My Companion Through Grief, p. 33).

In order to help my teens deal with their loss, I need to understand what they will be going through the next few months. I also need to help them understand the grief process so that they, in turn, can help their friends during this painful time. I need to help my teenagers see that while this time of grief may be as dark as night, morning will eventually come.


Patti Chadwick is a freelance writer and creator of Parents & Teens an online magazine geared to help parents connect with their teens. To sign up for her FREE newsletter visit www.parentsandteens.com She is also the author of “History’s Women – The Unsung Heroines”, to find out more about this book visit: www.historyswomen.com

Is it Spying or Just Good Parenting?

Is it spying or just good parenting? Monitoring kids and their cell phone activity.
We have all heard a lot about keeping our kids safe on their cell phones – monitor their activities, check out what they are looking at, and keeping tabs on who they are talking to and texting with on their phones.

The question is: When does it cross the line and become a total invasion of their privacy?

I know if my parents had wanted to read every note I wrote to a friend (yes, I am of the generation before cell phones and texting where we used to pass written notes in class and write letters to distant friends) I would have been furious! If they had followed me around to see what I was up to every minute of the day, I would have gone bonkers! If they had listened in on every (or any for that matter) phone conversation I had, I would have blown a gasket for sure. Was I doing anything wrong? No, but that doesn’t mean I wanted my parents to see or hear everything! I am sure there were things that they would have found not appropriate, but that is all part of the growing process for kids.

Why is it that different for our kids and their means of communication? Reading all their texts? Checking their browsing history?

In most ways, it is not. Kids should have some privacy.

Many have concerns that all the technology today has made it a more dangerous place for our kids. The thought is that it has made it easier for them to fall victim to bullying, abuse, or worse because communication tools are at their fingertips at all times and there is little escape. Perhaps there is some truth to this. However, in a lot of ways, technology had made the world safer for our kids.

I remember receiving prank phone calls that were quite upsetting. I was in grade 7. There was no call display, no *69 to call the last number that called you – nothing! It got so bad that we had to involve the police and put a tracer on our phone. The next time this boy called, we left the phone off the hook and a couple of hours later, the police and the phone company were able to trace the call. I’m sure this boy had no idea his call could even be traced. Kids don’t make these kinds of calls now because they would be caught in an instant due to the current technology. Technology has made it harder for those who would bully or harass to remain anonymous.

Talk to your kids
If you are monitoring your kids phones, make sure they know it. If they know you are checking their interactions and activities, they may be less likely to get into mischief – at least on their own phones where they know they are being watched! Some say that letting our kids know you are checking in them may encourage them to be sneaky and just figure out a way around the snooping. But I think it is still better to be honest with your kids than sneaking around and spying on them. Imagine the trust that would be broken if they found out (and eventually, they will find out!).

I think it is better to have conversations well before your child gets a cell phone, and continuing the conversation over time in order to give them the tools they need to help keep themselves safe.

Your kids also need to know they can always come to you with any concerns or problems (and that you would not punish them or take their phone away from them as punishment).

Does your child even need a cell phone?

Maybe the question to ask if you are really worried about your child’s cell phone use is does your child even need a cell phone? Not want, but need?

Ultimately it really depends on the parent, the child, their age and maturity level, and a host of other factors. If you don’t think they can handle having a phone without constant snooping on your part, maybe they are not ready for the responsibility of a cell phone. Do they really need one?

Hopefully you will ensure that your kids will use their technology responsibly and won’t feel the need to spy on them…. Well, not too much anyways. 😉

Cyber Bullying

Bullying occurs everywhere– in our schools, our workplaces and on the playgrounds. A new place for bullies to torment their victims has come about in the last several years– online. Social media (websites such as Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace etc.) have exploded in popularity and given bullies a whole new platform from which to spew their nastiness. Sometimes, the victim has never even met their tormentors in person.

Cyber bullying is every bit as serious as any other type of bullying, and sometimes cyber bullying can also lead to other types of bullying with very serious consequences. It isn’t as simple as stepping away from the computer or cell phone to make it go away.

Help Prevent Your Child from Becoming a Victim
As a parent, what can you do to help prevent your child from becoming a victim? Unfortunately, anytime your child spends online puts them at risk. If they are chatting with strangers, this takes the risks to a whole new level. Talk to your kids and make sure they understand the dangers. Everything they say or do online is out there forever for everyone to see, not just the intended recipient. Some kids don’t realize this, or if they do, they don’t quite get the implications of it. Give them the skills to be safe while online so that they can have positive experiences and interactions.

How to Tell if Your Child is Being Bullied Online
One big way is to observe your child’s attitude towards technology; if they once loved their cellphone, computer, ipod, tablet and now are not using them like they used to, or even avoid them, that could be a big clue that something is going on. Sometimes, their personality changes too, much as it would if they were being bullied in person. They can become withdrawn, sullen, and depressed. If you think something isn’t right, listen to that instinct and resist the urge to chalk it up to them just being cranky or normal teen angst.

How to Stop Cyber Bullying
The best way to help stop any bullying is to speak out, and cyber bullying is no exception. Make sure your kids know they can come to you with anything, anytime. However, lots of kids won’t talk to their parents because that wouldn’t be cool. Make sure they know that you understand this, and if they are not comfortable talking to you about it, they can talk to a teacher, their principal, or a friend’s parents– really any adult they trust– and keep talking to as many of them as possible! Speaking out is the key here, and help is available. As a parent, stand by your kids and talk to others, including the police.

How to Talk to Your Kids About Cyber Bullying
The best way to start the conversation is to just ask! It’s amazing what kids will tell us when we just ask. Something as simple as “What can you tell me about cyber bullying? Is this something that goes on in your school?” can get the conversation started.

How to Make Sure Your Child is Not a Cyber Bully
Talk to your kids about bullying, including cyber bullying, and let them know what behaviours are not ok! Let your kids know that if you ever see them bullying someone, that the consequences will be severe. You know your child best, so you would know what would be the best punishment– from taking their cell phone or computer away from them to taking them to having them volunteer for community service– and be sure you follow through. If you are concerned that it is an ongoing problem, you may want to have them see a counsellor.
To take it one step further, we need to know why a child is a bully. Sometimes it is an isolated incident to “be cool” with other kids, or to boost themselves up by putting someone else down. However, if a kid is a bully in the classroom or online, there’s usually something else behind it, and unfortunately it may be a cry for help. It could be that they are being abused or neglected at home. It’s a big issue and a lot of times, people don’t even think of that. We are often quick to want to punish, when sometimes the bully also needs help.

Talk to Other Parents
Talking to other parents can help you all understand what may be going on with your kids. Communication is the key, and other parents may have ideas and insights that hadn’t occurred to you. Share your ideas in the comments below!

Be part of the solution and help put a stop to cyber-bullying!

Bullying – When the Teacher is the Bully

There is a lot of talk about bullying these days — and thank goodness there is! I have been heading up our local Pink T-Shirt Day campaign (www.pinktshirtday.ca) for the past several years in an effort to get people talking about bullying and to teach kids skills for helping to deal with things when they encounter bullying. I will be sure to talk about some of these skills in other posts as they are so very important.

One of the things we tell our children is to talk to a teacher when they feel they are being bullied or see someone else being bullied at school. But what do you do when the bully is one of the teachers?

When the Bully is the Teacher

Now, before anyone gets too excited, I do know that the majority of teachers are wonderful and have the best interests of their students at heart. However, a new friend of mine was relaying a story about when she was is school, and I realized as the story progressed that her teacher had bullied her. This really got me thinking! Looking back, I can also remember several times in my school days when kids were bullied by teachers. I really remember one boy in my class who really went through so much one year in school because our teacher really picked on him. I was young, naive, and it never would have occurred to me to tell my parents or another teacher what was happening. I doubt this little boy did either.

I know kids will often complain about their teachers, but there is a big difference between a teacher being firm, expecting the kids to pay attention, and insisting that there work be done and handed in on time, and a teacher who ridicules, taunts, or continually chastises a child. We need to be sure we really understand what is behind the complaints.

Understanding Bullying

As parents, we can help our children by letting them know that it is not ok for anyone to treat them or anyone else in a manner that feels like bullying. Make sure they know that bullying can be a combination of many different things. According to www.bullying.org, bullying is doing, saying or acting in a way that hurts someone else or makes him or her feel bad on purpose. Make sure they understand that it is not ok for a teacher or any adult to call them names, tell them they are stupid, or push them around. Make sure your kids know that they can tell you or another adult they trust if they feel their teacher is a bully.

Dealing with Bullies

So, what do we do if our child comes to us and we realize that the bully is one of their teachers? I would suggest (after you’ve had some time to calm down — I know my initial reaction would be to freak out and want to slap someone up side the head, but this would be neither appropriate or productive) talk to a few of the other parents you know and see if they have heard similar complaints from their child. Call the school and set up a meeting with the principal (and ask other parents to join you if they have the same concern) and possibly the teacher in question. Calmly and objectively tell them what your child has told you. If the principal doesn’t want take any action, or you are not satisfied with their suggested resolution, you may wish to take your concerns to the school board.

That’s my opinion, anyway. What would you do? Let me know

Tips for Helping Children with Bullying

Tips for a child who bullies others:

1. Take every incident or report of bullying behaviour seriously: don’t dismiss any as a one-time incident.

2. Supervise the child’s interactions and play more closely. Intervene to redirect or stop any behaviour that is inappropriate.

3. Do not tolerate behaviour that hurts others.
– Respond swiftly and consistently with negative consequences (e.g., restrict time with others)
– Focus on helping the child understand the consequences of his or her actions
– Practice actions or words that might make the other person feel better or to make amends.
– Help the child recognize how and when their behaviour crosses the line from being acceptable to unacceptable.

4. Teach the child ways to recognize internal signals that he or she is about to lose control.

5. Use real-life situations to practice kind or friendly alternatives to unfriendly or bullying behaviour.

6. Teach the child positive ways to get what he or she wants. Offer reasonable and acceptable alternatives for the child to have power and control.

7. Praise and reward positive interactions and negotiation.

8. Do not label a child as a bully. Teach the child that bullying is behaviour that can be changed – and it takes courage to change.

9. Get at the root of the bulling behaviour. Use school specialists and other professionals as resources.

10. BE A GOOD ROLE MODEL. When adults use words or actions to bully or shame children or others, children learn that those behaviours are acceptable. Avoid using physical punishment.

Tips for helping a child who is bullied:

1. When a child tells you about a bullying problem:
– Listen to what the child has to say. Find out what support the child needs – and what help he or she would like from you.
– Avoid blaming the child. This is not a time to focus on what the child should or could have done differently (even if the child “provoked” the incident).
– Keep a written record of the incidents and make sure to report them to the appropriate school personnel.
– Do not encourage the child to fight back.

2. Observe how the child talks and plays with other children. Help him or her to develop skills to make and sustain friendships.

3. Teach the child to be assertive and to say “NO!” or “Leave me alone!” in a clear, firm voice when feeling pressured or uncomfortable.

4. Help the identify social supports and practice ways to stay safe (e.g. play or walk with a friend, identify and play near children who could help or step, avoid eye contact with bullies, etc.).

5. Teach the child to recognize “vibes” and body language that could signal danger. Always encourage children to walk away if a situation feels dangerous or out of their control.

6. Practice how to handle specific situations.

7. Encourage the child to ask for adult help. Reinforce the difference between telling and tattling.

8. Teach the child strategies for staying calm and confident if teased or bullied. Help the child to develop techniques for diverting a bully’s attention away from hurting him or her (e.g. verbal retorts, humour or stalling tactics).

Nancy Mullin-Rindler Wellesley College Center for Research on Women

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Puberty And Sexuality In Adolescents With Disabilities

Sexuality is a part of everyone’s life.

All too often the perception is that people with developmental and/or cognitive disabilities are not interested in or have the ability to be involved in intimate relationships that most of us take for granted. This is not true.

For example, the National Down Syndrome Society indicates that creating an environment conducive to healthy sexual expression must be considered in designing educational, vocational, social, recreational and residential programs. Positive sexual awareness can only develop through personal empowerment, self-esteem, understanding of social relationships and personal interaction/communication skills. All these factors influence how intimacy needs are met.

Teaching Everyone

The emotional ups and downs that are common in adolescence are also present in pre-teens and teens with disabilities. As with all children, they will have questions and wonder about some of the feelings they are experiencing and the changes their bodies are going through. We do a real disservice to them if we ignore these facts.

Without any knowledge or explanations, they may develop fears and anxiety about what is really perfectly normal. It is vital for children to have the facts so that they are not vulnerable to unintended pregnancy, sexual abuse, and sexually transmitted infections.

It is a sad truth that those in our society with disabilities are often targets of sexual predators. Arming them with information and confidence can help lessen their risk. The more you talk openly and honestly with them about sexuality, the safer they will be.

Children with disabilities need the same information and education about puberty and sexuality as other pre-teens and teens. When talking to youth about sex, their ability to understand the material needs to be taken into consideration. However, it is important to cover all the bases and not skip over anything. Many teenagers and adults with disabilities understand more about sexual development, sexual activity and pregnancy than their parents and others would expect. One must be mindful to focus on not just the physical sexual act and reproduction, but also with decision-making, cultural norms, peer pressure, relationships, and social skills. The conversations can take place over a period of time and some of the information may need to be repeated.

Knowing “No”

All children need to be taught the difference between good touch and bad touch. They also need to understand that it is ok to say no to anything that makes them feel uncomfortable – not just with strangers, but with acquaintances and friends too! “No” and “Stop” can be very powerful (and empowering) words and they need to know that they can use them. They also need to know that it is not their fault if someone makes them uncomfortable and that they should also tell a trusted adult if something happens. In addition, they need to learn boundaries for their touching others. Sadly, since many children with disabilities are not taught boundaries, they can get into trouble surrounding inappropriate touch.

Building healthy relationships is key to happiness and satisfaction for so many; it is no different for many kids with disabilities.

It is my thought that we should approach the teaching of issues and information surrounding puberty and sexuality for youth with disabilities much the same way we do for other youth – with honesty, compassion, and understanding. Factual information about their bodies, what is happening (or will be happening) will help them through what is a challenging time.

With an understanding of the changes they are going to encounter, the feelings they may experience, and what is and isn’t acceptable behavior, they will have the tools they need to be healthy and safe both physically and emotionally.

Teaching Your Children – Honesty

Have you ever caught your children in a lie? Have you ever told a lie?

If you answered no, well, I think you are lying!

I am sure we have all told some little white lies in our time to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. We may have even found ourselves in a situation when a lie seemed like a good idea at the time and told a doozy that we regretted later (or not!).

And you can bet that at some point when you were growing up, you lied to your parents to do something you were not supposed to do or to not get into trouble for something you did. Why would you think your kids would be any different?
Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny

I’m not talking about the “lies” about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy either. Although, some people do classify these as harmful lies we should never tell our children; I don’t believe that.

Compulsive Lying

What I want to talk about is the compulsive liar; the ones who lie about the important things, the ones that lie so much they no longer seem to be able to tell the truth or keep their lies straight or the ones who lie to cover up their other lies. This happens with both children and adults. I think we have a responsibility to our children to be honest with them and teach them the importance of honesty.

Encouraging Your Children to Lie?

I know a parent who had her child lie for her to her husband (also the child’s father) about where they were and who they were with.  If you want to lie, well then as an adult I guess that is your prerogative. But having your child lie to their other parent for you? What is this teaching the child? How must this make the child feel? I think it teaches two things. First, that it is ok to do things you are not supposed to do, and second, that it’s ok to lie about it.

When Would the Lies Stop?

Many say that one of the most important things in our love relationships is honesty. When our kids grow up and are in relationships of their own, how will they know what this looks like if they did not experience it growing up? If we do not teach our kids honesty, are we setting them up for failure in their future relationships?

Teaching About Honesty

I think the best way to teach honesty to our children is by example. If they see us being truthful, that is what they learn; if they see us being deceitful, that is what they learn.

If we are truthful with our children, they will learn to be truthful with us and with others.

Sometimes this is not easy! Kids ask tough questions and sometimes the truth may not be pleasant. Also, sometimes the truth will not shed the best light on us! If we mess up, we should admit it, not lie try to cover it up. I think aside from teaching honesty, seeing that their parents are not perfect and are willing to own up to their shortcomings teaches them a lot too.

Besides, telling the truth makes life much easier. As Mark Twain said, “If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.” How do some people keep all the lies straight? Maybe they have told them so often that they actually believe them to be true. I don’t know.

Breaking up with a Friend

Ending a Friendship

I am fortunate to have many great friends in my life. I know that they will be there for me, and that I will be there for them through good times and not so good times. We can laugh and cry together. These are people I enjoy spending time with, and enjoy spending time with me. Sadly, I have also had friendships that were not so great. I’m sure this is true for most of us.

Sometimes we find ourselves in unhealthy relationships – and often we are not sure how we got there or when it happened. Sometimes friendships start out great and then over time things change. Other times, we just don’t see the dysfunction for a long time. Many times we keep up with these friendships because we have invested a lot of ourselves into the relationship. How do you know when to just walk away?

First thing, it’s ok to end a friendship. Just like it is ok to get out of a romantic relationship if things are not working for you, it is ok to end a friendship too. It hurts (a lot!), it doesn’t feel good (that’s an understatement!), but in the end you will be better for it.

Break the Habit

Sometimes we remain friends with someone because we have been friends for so long. Long time friendships can be wonderful and very rewarding. It is natural for any long term relationship to go through ups and downs and periods of closeness and distance. We may have friends that we don’t see often, but when we do see them, it is like no time has passed. There is a closeness and connection!

However, there may be times when you just don’t have any connection to the person anymore and you just see each other out of habit. It’s ok to break the habit if you don’t feel you want to spend time with that person anymore. It’s doesn’t need to be drastic, sometimes these relationships can just gradually fade away.

Feeling Unvalued

Have you ever found yourself remaining friends with someone even though you no longer feel good about spending time in their company or feel that you are not valued? You are not alone by any means. It can be heartbreaking! When you realise this, it’s ok to distance yourself from that person or end the friendship all together.

One sided friendships

Have you ever been in a friendship where you feel as though you are the only one really making an effort to maintain the friendship? Are you the one initiating contact most of the time? Does being this persons friend make you sad, wondering why they don’t make an effort? If so, it’s ok to stop making contact. You may not even need to ‘break up” as often the friendship will just fade away without you making all the effort.

Negativity Bringing You Down

If you find that you are brought down by being with someone because of a negative attitude, or are brought down by listening to them talk negatively about others, it is time to look for more positive people to spend your time with.

Feeling Judged

It’s ok for people to have different viewpoints, beliefs, and values. It is not ok is when someone is judging you for being different from them. You don’t need this person in your life.

How to End it?

Sometimes you can just let a friendship fade away. Other times, you may have to just be blunt and let the person know you do not wish to spend time with them. Be honest with yourself and with them, and try not to blame. Try to not let your emotions run wild; if you can be matter-of-fact and not get into an emotional roller coaster ride with your friend, you will feel better for it in the long run.

Enjoy the Good Friendships

When you stop being friends with people who are not good for you, you will have more time to enjoy the healthy relationships in your life!

Why Victims of Sexual Assault Stay Quiet

Bill Cosby and Jian Gomeshi (and now Donald Trump)… Why did the victims not come forward sooner?

Warning: Contains descriptions of sexual assault.

Bill Cosby and Jian Gomeshi are making the news these days, but not for good reasons. Both are accused of sexual assault and the accusations go back years. This has a lot of people talking, and a lot of people asking the question of why these women didn’t come forward years ago. Some doubt their stories because of this.

I am not going to comment on the guilt (or innocence) of the two accused. What I am going to talk about is why these women may have waited so long to tell their story based on my experience… this is the first time I will tell my story.

My Personal Story

When I was 11 (maybe 12) years old, a work acquaintance of my father’s came over to visit. It was a sunny spring afternoon, and the adults were outside. I was in the living room – I don’t really remember if I was watching TV, reading, or doing homework. What I remember very vividly was this man coming into the room, sitting beside me, talking to me, and then touching me where he had no business touching me. When he went to lift my shirt, I ran and locked myself in the bathroom until I heard him go back outdoors. I never said a word. I was shocked and confused. I didn’t know what to think as I had never heard of anything like this (when I was a kid, no one talked about child molestation). I somehow thought it was my fault or that I would be in trouble. I don’t know.

Fast forward to when I was 18. A cute boy that a lot of girls liked cornered me alone at my house. Several friends were in the other room. He pushed me down, and then got on top of me. He put his hands around my throat and was choking me. I slapped at him, kicked at him, and told him to stop. Thankfully, he did. Again, I never said a word about this to anyone.

There have been more incidents over the years, but I won’t go into them all. I consider myself fortunate that my experiences were not worse. I can’t imagine the horrors that so many have gone through…

Point is, I never ‘went public’ until now. Even at that, I am not naming names. Why? I think the first man is likely long dead. I have had to forgive myself for not telling anyone because I wonder how many little girls didn’t get up and run away. I don’t even remember his name (just a last name) as he was only at our home once.

The second man is married now with two children. I see him around town, we have a friendly rapport (you may think that is very strange, and I suppose it is!)and I wonder if he even remembers that afternoon. Maybe my experience was an isolated incident, but I doubt it. No one has said otherwise though. If they did, I am not even sure I would come forward now. I guess I won’t know unless it happens.

Courage or Cowardice?

Am I a coward for not coming forward? Maybe. I am being very honest with you about my feelings – right or wrong, it is how I feel at this point. Maybe someday my feelings will change. But if I do come forward, will be believed or scorned and ridiculed?

Time to COme forward

Why don’t women (and girls) come forward immediately after an assault?  The reasons are varied. Fear of not being believed. Fear that they were somehow to blame. Self doubt. Fear that people will look at them differently.

So, why do women come forward many years after an assault? Their reasons are as individual as they are. It takes a lot of courage. Sometimes, things happens that makes them want to speak out.  However, I suspect that when one woman bravely comes forward, it gives others the courage to come forward and say it happened to them too.

Talk to Your Kids

Talk to your kids. Let them know that it is OK to tell! Let them know that there is no shame to them for having been mistreated or assaulted. If you have been assaulted in any way, talk to someone – anyone – about it. You are not alone and it is not your fault. This was something that took me a while to learn.


The Importance of Teaching Your Kids About Money

We raise or kids the best we can. We teach them what we think they will need to know to be good people and be self-sufficient. One thing we need to be sure they have an understanding of is personal finance, and it’s never too early to start the lesson.

I overheard a conversation recently while standing in line that had me shaking my head. It was between a young university student and her friends.
“I’m essentially fiscally independent from my parents.”
“Wait, who pays for your car?”
“Oh, well, my dad is paying for my car, and my cell phone, but that’s all.”

How is this fiscal independence? Further conversation revealed that this young woman was also not paying her own tuition. If she thinks she is paying her own way, how will she manage when she really has to do it? This young woman was studying to be a doctor. I sure hope she understands medicine better than she understands finance!

Start Early

One way to start teaching your child about finances is by giving them an allowance – even very young children can start to learn about money. Make the amount reasonable for their age and let them decide how to spend the money, but once the allowance is gone, it’s gone until the next time. They will learn they need to save more in order to buy something else. This gives your child actual money to learn about and handle.

You can also teach them the value of money by comparing what different amounts of money can buy. Take your child shopping with you and compare the prices of two similar items and talk about why the cost may be different.

When they are a bit older, show your child how much money comes in each month, and how much goes out through the family expenses. How much is left? What happens to that money? If there isn’t anything left, then what?

The point is, get them to understand basic household finances. This will help equip them for the day when they will be on their own and need to be responsible for their own fiscal situation. These lessons can last a lifetime.