Miley Cyrus please stop!!

Is there some sub-clause in Disney contracts which says former Disney stars must absolutely run in the opposite direction of anything remotely decent and reasonable when launching their adult careers? My older daughters, who were fans of Hannah Montana, showed me her latest video in which she spent most of it crawling around on a bed in what can be best described as white spray paint over skin. I’ll even admit to having ‘Party in the USA’ on my Iphone because my youngest and I like to sing it in the car. If this is Miley trying to find herself, I’d suggest she keep looking. I do think this young lady is talented and in time she could find an adult audience who appreciates her art. At present I think she’s made the same mistake a lot of teenagers make; confusing maturity with provocative self promotion. We all did it, but she’s doing it on an international level where the evidence will be out in cyberspace for the rest of her life.

So this is fifth grade?

As I look at my 10 year old take those first intrepid steps into the fifth grade, I’m already shocked at how much older she seems than my older daughters at this stage.  So far she’s had more male friends who she actually invites to the house to swim.  She’s a nationally ranked acro gymnast who’s just been named to the U.S. National team and she is the least impressed by this accomplishment.  Fourth grade was a little rocky as she tried to navigate the social scene and ran into a couple of speed bumps, but she ended strong.  I just look at her now and wonder if she is really more mature than fifth graders ten years ago or do I just look at her differently because I’m older and less uptight?  I’ll consider that as I fly to Germany with her in December to represent the United States at a gymnastics competition.

Words can hurt too

I’ve been a counselor for a year now and I’m still amazed by the fact children think someone has to hit you to hurt you.  I explained what verbal abuse was to a young girl today and she didn’t seem to understand the concept.  I think children who hear negative things about themselves over and over again begin to believe and accept these insults as part of who they are.  In short order, they will begin what becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.   How do you begin to address the pain inflicted by words?  Start by teaching kids they have a right to believe wonderful things about themselves.

What’s wrong with polka dots and stripes?

I recently saw a parent have a hissy fit because their child put on a pair of tennis shoes which didn’t match his outfit.  How much of our self esteem is wrapped up in our children’s appearance and behavior?  If we were all absolutely honest, we’d say ‘quite a bit’.  How our children turn out is some kind of validation that we too are talented, intelligent and goal oriented.  What we forget to see is that child with the audacity to wear pink everyday or mismatched socks has already learned the lesson that some of us spend our entire lives striving towards.  Be yourself!!

Back to school in The Big Easy

It’s that time of year parents both dream of and dread; back to school.  The pros; you no longer have to entertain your kid or pay for someone else to do that all day.  The cons: endless paperwork, homework, extracurricular activities and the grind of drop off and pick up.  Yet, when your kids start to tell you they’re ready to go back, the summer has truly come to an end.  Our summer ended with a gymnastics championship in Kentucky and both my older girls coming home for a week before they return to college and work.  I can’t believe how different our lives are from what I’d envisioned at this age.  I thought I would still be sewing for a living, not completing a Masters, starting a new career in counseling and publishing my first children’s storybook, “Shybug”.  It’s a reminder we should never close any doors on opportunity or change for the future. This is the same idea I try to share with my 10 year old as she embarks on another year of elementary education.

Parent Anxiety

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When working with children’s mental illness in the school system, some attention and care must be given to their parents and families.  Often, the problems children are having at school are only a by-product of something going on at home.  The anxieties of parents often feed down to their children and the children can act out with anger and disruptive behavior.  So, parents, if your children are having behavioral problems, consider whether or not it’s a reaction to something going on in your family. You can usually pinpoint the shift in their positive behavior to negative behavior because there’s been some change, such as a new baby, new spouse or divorce.   Once the reason for the change is evident, then you can address how to make the shift back to positive behavior.

One mistake many people make when they become parents is to forget about taking care of themselves.  All parents realize that the children’s welfare comes first.  After all, we made the decision to have them, but an unhappy parent will eventually become an ineffective parent.  Make an effort to do something for yourself each day, even if it’s only sitting down with a cup of tea and watching your favorite program on television or reading that book you’ve put aside for months.  (Eventually, you will finish it.)  Sometimes you have to make a plan to have time to yourself.  Maybe one day a week, the kids get to spend the day with grandma and you get to go out with a friend.  If you don’t plan time for yourself, you could get to their high school graduation and realize you haven’t sat down for 18 years!

I’m finally catching my breath.

Just as I was formulating marketing plans for my new children’s book, “Shybug”, I landed my first job in the counseling field.  So everything went on the back burner to adjust to my new responsibilities.  With a caseload of ten clients now, I see adolescent behaviors which are at the same time familiar because I have children and unexpected as I work to help these kids handle all sorts of issues.  Drawing out quiet children is always a challenge and this is where games and creativity can help.  Going at kids directly and asking a lot of questions only gets you a sullen kid who keeps wondering why you keep asking so many silly questions.  Over a game of “Sorry”  or “Subway Surf” (yes, my Ipad has become key in some sessions) the walls of resistance begin to come down and information starts to leak out like air from a pin-pricked balloon.  Parents could take a hint.  Sometimes you have to let the kids come to you.

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