Susan Boyle, Bullying, Judgment, and Your Kids!

"Look!" "Lauren is wearing Ugg boots." "She thinks she's hot so let's teach her a lesson and just ignore her!" (Lauren got the boots as a gift from her grandmother. She was nervous about wearing them because she usually doesn’t wear designer brands.) "Josh's dad drives him to school when he lives only a few blocks away and could walk." "What a lazy loser!" (Josh’s peers don’t know that he has a fragile bone disease and that doctors have asked him to avoid tripping and falling on uneven sidewalks.)

“Those kids get straight A’s.” “They’re such bookworm nerds!” “No wonder they have no real friends.” (The straight A students are funny and personable if only some of their peers would give them a chance.)

We all pass judgment. Sometimes it can serve as a 6th sense that protects us from danger. Most of the time however, passing judgment is an unjust allegation. Kids in particular observe something and make up their minds about it before acquiring any facts. Their observation is a mere sliver of the big picture. Kids then go on to express this observation as an assumption using words that can be hurtful because they are not necessarily true. The words in turn can become nasty rumors and lead to schoolyard pranks that hurt, alienate, or otherwise harass the person being judged. Suddenly an innocent child is subject to teasing or full-fledged bullying. So what can we do to help?

Parents and teachers can choose from an array of ideas to help their kids to be fair and friendly instead of judgmental. My new favorite is the old classic video of Susan Boyle on Britain’s Got Talent. I know. You’ve already seen it, but would you please consider watching it again with your kids or students beside you? Pay close attention to the judges and the audience. Assess their facial expressions and ponder what they might have been thinking both before and after Ms. Boyle sings. Then ask the kids what they observed. Query them on how passing judgment can be unfair. Ask why one of the judges called the incident “the biggest wake-up call ever.”

To really connect with your kids, consider sharing your own experiences related to passing judgment or being the recipient of it. Then ask them to share theirs. You might just learn something new about their “secret” life at school, sports or other extracurricular activities. Lastly, solicit your children’s solutions. Gandhi said “Be the change that you want to see in the world.” How do your children think they can be that change?

It takes a village so let’s support one another. After you watch the video please come back and leave us a comment of the wisdom you and your children shared.

From "Boohoo" to "Woohoo". Teach Your Children Resiliency in 8 Easy Steps!

Coins have two sides that often represent choices.  We might flip a coin to choose either pizza or tacos for dinner, or to decide who will be cleaning up after that dinner.  We often hear kids using the coin as a tool for decision making such as “heads I go first, tails you go first”.  But what happens when adults or kids need to make life’s harder choices?  I’m referring to the kinds that involve how we will respond to and process difficult situations and emotions.   Adults slave away at work to sometimes lose a lucrative business deal, or a child might train for weeks and fail to make the cut for an athletic team that they had their heart set on.  At these times, our personalities kick in and sometimes react in a way which doesn’t feel so good.  We react instead of responding and we’re often so emotionally distraught that flipping a coin doesn’t even occur to us.   When a coin can’t help us choose, the skill of resiliency very well might. 

Resilience helps us to recover effectively from life’s adversities.  It is a vital tool to have in our arsenal of staying strong and seeing the optimism in even the most difficult of situations.   Unfortunately, we can’t find resilience on the roadside like we might find a coin.  We have to develop it and build it in our children.  Any parent wants their child to be able to “handle” life’s difficult situations and emotions so let’s look at 8 easy concepts that we can use ourselves and teach our kids to take them from “boohoo” to “woohoo”!

1.  Be Realistic.  Goals and expectations need to be within the scope of realism whether we like it or not.  In 2010, Princeton only accepted 17% of all Valedictorians who applied.  That means that 83% of the highest achievers were rejected.  Teaching our kids to focus on personal growth through an exciting journey of experience and maturity can lend an upside to any disappointment.

2.  Be Flexible.  Heaven knows the temper tantrum any age child (and some adults too) can have when they don’t get their own way.  Flexibility, not to mention cooperation can help a great deal to ease frustration and create a win-win scenario.  Here is what my parents taught me.  During a very bad storm when the winds are blowing violently, a stiff tree is likely to snap, but a flexible tree will bend with the wind only to stand straight when the storm is over.  Enough said.

3.  Stubbornly refuse to let negative emotions take over your happy life!  Let’s remember that we have the power to choose how we will react to any given situation.  We can’t change the situation, but we can choose how we respond to it.  We can let negative emotions make us miserable or we can choose to be positive!  Happy people replace negative thoughts with positive ones and they look for the positive aspects of even the worst situations.  It’s not easy, but every black cloud does have a silver lining if you look hard enough for it!

4.  Utilize powerful positive role models.  Do you have a special Saint, political leader, pro athlete, mentor, or other figure that totally inspires you or your child?  Utilize this person to motivate your ability to be resilient.  When the chips are down, imagine your role model defeating their difficulties and use their inspiration to lift yours or your children’s spirits.  Pictures and quotes around the house are good reminders.  One of my favorites is Mother Teresa.

 5.  Parents can be good role models for children.  If you whine at every little grievance in your day, you will teach your children to do the same.  So hold back your anger at crazy drivers, long lines, or perturbing people because your kids are watching your every move, and learning from you!   Do take the time to role model your positivity toward life even when difficulty arises.  Kids think of you as their hero, so act like one!

6.  Be approachable.  Your kids are not going to want to bring you any problems if you tell them to “get over it”, or if you start lecturing them on “what they should have, or could have done”.  Like any human who has emotions, kids need to be heard.  They need to get emotional baggage out of their system in order to find their resilience.  Sometimes, the best thing a parent can do is provide a heart filled with love and two ears to just listen!

7.  Allow kids to problem solve.  If parents are always providing solutions for their kids, how on earth will they learn to do this for themselves?  The only way kids can be resilient is if they are capable of strategizing their way to the outcomes they desire.  Ask them how they want to solve their own problems and then let them try it out realizing that they may or may not succeed.  This is how kids earn their own experience and wisdom.  Parents… please use your judgment.  Safety First!

8.  Lastly, give your children positive feedback when they handle their problems with resilience.  This is the greatest motivator of all to keep applying this potentially life altering skill.

Lucky is the child who can learn to respond instead of react, to choose positivity instead of misery, and to problem solve instead of stay stuck or use a coin to make life’s most important decisions!  Here’s to resilience!

It’s great to hear from our readers.  Please share your comments or ideas in our comments section.

The Go Green Clean Up Act for Kids (and some parents too!)

Do you remember the Clean Up Song that your child’s favorite purple dinosaur, Barney, would sing and teach kids?  It went like this: “Clean up clean up, everybody everywhere, clean up clean up, everybody do your share.”  A generation of kids and more learned this song.  So what happened when they left their playrooms and went out into the real world?  OMG, have you seen the theater after a movie?  There are popcorn containers, drink cups, food and food cartons strewn all over the seats and floor. There is gum stuck to the back of chairs, and the floors feel so sticky, it’s as if someone poured a vat of maple syrup on them.  It’s not just theaters; take a look at sport stadiums after a game, the grounds after an outdoor concert or parade, or worse yet… a public bathroom. 

Now ask your kids to imagine if they were the person who had to clean this up.  Oh, I can hear it now:   YUK!  EWWW!  GROSS!  I’m not doing thaaaat!  Then ask them “but if you were the one who had to clean it up, what would you want everyone else to do?”  Yup… they would want every single person who attended the event to clean up after themselves.  Hmmm…. This must sound familiar to a lot of moms out there and ooohhhh wouldn’t it be great if our kids picked up after themselves at home?

This simple question can help kids in many ways.  First, they’re exposed to the concept of empathy by putting themselves in someone else’s shoes.  After imagining that they are the person cleaning up (and they don’t really want to be), they might just have more empathy for the person who does have this job.  Second, it is a reminder about having good manners and social skills by throwing away our own trash.  Third it is part of being a constituent of the “going green” movement.   If each one of us does our part, our environment will be a cleaner, more pleasurable, more inviting place. Win, win, win! 

So, next time you see a big, mucky mess, point it out to your kids and teach them how powerful they are by taking responsibility for, at the very least, their own actions.  It is one small step in empowering kids to shoulder personal responsibility and do the right thing! 

If you can think or more “wins” for kids and the community alike, please leave them in our comments section!  We love to hear from our readers!