Thursday, July 15, 2010

My Child? A Bully? (Guest post by Annie Fox)

My dear friend Annie Fox is one of the biggest teen/tween advocates I know. She is the founder of the very informative website ANNIE FOX.COM which is the motherload of information, support and advice for PARENTS, TEENS and EDUCATORS.

I am always thrilled to have Annie post on my blog! You won't be sorry you read this post. You can read PART 2, HERE!

You can find Annie and her CRUEL'S NOT COOL brainchild on Facebook! It would be in your best interest to stay connected to this woman! She will change the world!

Take it away, Annie!

My child? A bully?!! Part 1

July 2, 2010

Me? A Bully? Yeah, right!

This won’t be an easy read. But if the title pulled you in, you may already have some suspicions (or hard evidence) that your kid engages in mean-spirited behavior that hurts others. No parent wants to admit their kid is a bully, but according to a recent U.S. Department of Justice study, 77% of students nation-wide reported having been bullied, verbally, mentally or physically, in school in the past month. Lots of tormentors. Each one is somebody’s child. Would you know if (s)he was yours?

Hints that your child may be a bully:

1. You or your partner is a bully. The family is Ground Zero for learning about emotional responses and relationships. If a parent consistently yells or uses verbal threats, emotional blackmail or physical violence to manipulate family members, that’s what the child learns. And that learned aggression is likely to come to school with him/her. If you’re a bully it may be difficult for you to see it. If you’re wondering, ask your partner or your child “Do you think I’m a bully?” Hopefully they’re not too afraid to tell you the truth.

2. Your child is bossy at home. Is she demanding? Do things have to be her way or she throws a fit? Curses at you? Threatens? Gives you the silent treatment? Refuses to cooperate? Takes it out on siblings? If you made a short list of adjectives describing your child would you paint a portrait of someone you admire? If you admit she’s self-centered, controlling, insensitive at home, why assume she’s consistently caring and supportive at school?

3. Your child’s close friends are not the nicest people. You may not trust them without knowing why. Or you may have good reasons not to respect the choices these kids make. If so, talk to your child (calmly and respectfully) about these friends. This isn’t about labeling or demonizing. And it’s surely not about getting into a power struggle with your child about who she can and can’t be friends with. This is about understanding your child. Be compassionately curious about his friendships and he’s likely to open up. Your intent is to find out what your child likes about his friends and which ones, if any, your child may not be 100% comfortable with.

4. Your child makes rude comments about other kids. Tune in to conversations between your child and her friends. What kind of language do they use to describe other kids? How often do you overhear gossip, a rude put-down, or a “joke” being made at someone else’s expense?

Ask your child to tell you about the social hierarchy in her grade. Kids often like to display their expertise and you’ll be surprised at how detailed they get about who’s “in” and who is so not. Some kids will literally draw you a picture of the school’s social landscape! Listen closely as your child describes the kids who aren’t popular. Or the ones who are. Do you hear derogatory language? (“He’s such a loser.” “She’s such an ugly bitch.” ”Fat!” “Retard!” “Whore.”) If your kid freely talks this way in your presence, there are no barriers to the hurtful words (s)he’ll say, text or post when you’re not around.

Parents of tweens and teens assume that their days of influencing their children are over. Not so! While it’s a fact that friends’ opinions are important, so are yours. You still have tremendous influence on your child’s values and behavior, and you always will. Even after your kids are grown with kids of their own.

If you are aware that your child is a bully or leaning in that direction, it’s up to you to provide a course correction. When each parent does their job… bullying problem solved.

Next week: What to do if you now realize that you’ve been contributing to a bully-in-the-making? How can you begin to help your son or daughter change… for good?

Sunday, July 11, 2010


 If you don't know what 'KATE*VERSATION' is, check out the first one HERE!

I am so excited to be bringing you KATE*VERSATION #2! We spent the last week camping...and if you remember I HATE CAMPING! So, it was so nice to plop down on the couch and check in with Kate while my husband got all our little campers to bed. Thanks Kate, nice hanging with ya!

Kate ended the first Kate + 8 by saying,
"There's no manual, there's no right or wrong, you just have to feel your way though it and see what works."

What a poignant way to lead into tonight's episode or Kate + 8. This was the CHICKEN episode and in my honest opinion, a really good example of a skill I do not come by naturally. A trick of the mom-trade that I would LOVE to say I have down to a science, but sadly I lack this virtue that I am SURE would make my life run smoother and prepare my children for life outside our house more effectively.

So, I am declaring that this CHICKEN episode had a WORK ETHIC message, and a dang good one!
If you know anything about the Amish, you know they never stop working and NOTHING is ever done half-a**ed! Kate and I can attest to that, we share Berks County, PA, Amish country!

Two of my favorite Amish sayings are:
"God has work for all his children, regardless of age or ability."
"If you want life's best, see to it that life gets your best."

As I watched this week's show, I couldn't help but admire Kate's work ethic. She is not a woman who would walk past a stray shoe in the middle of the floor to get to the laundry waiting in the other room. I would bet a good deal of money that she wouldn't pick up that shoe.


You thought I was going to say she would pick it up and put it away. No, I am pretty certain she would call in the troops and the one who left it behind would be carrying it to its home.

I have to admit, as much as I want to be THAT mom, I would most likely trip over that shoe a couple times before I would NOT call the kids to get it, I would sigh, feel sorry for myself and trudge...shoe in the appropriate child's shoe bin.

And what is that teaching MY children? Not a darn thing.

I watched as the little mini barn (coop) raising was in progress and how the eight children pitched in and carried pieces of the structure off the truck. One of the boys started by simply grabbing the piece closest to the edge and like little army ants, the rest of the kids followed suit! BEAUTIFUL!

Have you ever seen an Amish barn raising?

Did you notice that the sun never went down in that video? That was only 10 hours of work. THAT is the kind of ethic I want my kids to have, how about you?

I think Kate's chicken coop was a mini lesson in working together to get the job done and doing it with a smile! They had fun. Yes, it was work. But when Collin was struggling with how to get the water jug, that weighed almost as much as he did, from the hose at the house to the coop in the pasture he uttered, "I love these chickens but this is really heavy." He then turned the jug on its side and started rolling it. This is when Farmer Daniel stepped in and showed one if HIS tricks of the trade. He had raided the toy bin and found a foam bat. He had the boys slide the bat through the handle and work together to carry what then weight HALF of their combined weight.

While racing back to the house and having fun with the kids it was evident that Kate wanted this project done right, done well and done efficiently so it was only done ONCE! She even had the farmers move it six inches to the left so her view out of the kitchen window would be JUST as she wanted it. And why wouldn't you insist on YOUR things being the way YOU want them? Looking out the window and having the chicken coop that brings back such sweet memories sitting exactly where you want it would be a gift. Peering out every morning and being annoyed because you didn't speak up because you just wanted it DONE, would NOT start your day off the way it should. A seemingly little thing that could make or break your sleepy morning.

Here is a run down of the things I noticed that I would have just thrown my hands up and sighed:

When the chicken coop was done, there were specific instructions given which included that a new discipline tactic would begin immediately. Anyone who disobeys is on chicken poop detail. Instructions and consequences delivered plain and simple. Done RIGHT, Done WELL, Done EFFICIENTLY and Done ONCE!

Immediately after children were done eating lunch Kate retrieved the hose to hose down the picnic table and patio only to find the hose was not working. She then went, got another hose, hooked it up and finished the job. SIXTEEN little brown eyes absorbing the work ethic along the way. Done RIGHT, Done WELL, Done EFFICIENTLY and Done ONCE!

Then, my Mom Goddess Kate, speaks a language a wish I shared... "The Gosselin Household's Systems аnd Maintenance Manual: Everything a Single Mom Needs tο Know tο Rυn ουr Lіttlе Piece οf thе World.”

She explained that she is not someone who just wants to "have it fixed;" she wants to know WHY it stopped working, what it NEEDS to be fixed and how to MAINTAIN it so it stays functional. Done RIGHT, Done WELL, Done EFFICIENTLY and Done ONCE!

When she finished her day of manual writing, learning about the maintenance of her water softener, having privacy shrub plans approved, power-washing the house, she said, "I did what I set out to do and my goal was met."

Wouldn't it be nice to lay our heads on our pillows at night and KNOW we Did it RIGHT, Did it WELL, Did it EFFICIENTLY and we only had to Do it ONCE? (Well, if we are talking cleaning toilets and doing laundry we will have to do it more than once...)

And wouldn't it be a gift to one day see our grown children with that same WORK ETHIC? Done RIGHT, Done WELL, Done EFFICIENTLY and Done ONCE!

Well, now as I head to bed with a resolve to improve our work ethic gently but effectively, I will also be taking up first project? A pillow stitched with this,"I did what I set out to do and my goal was met."

Keep it up Kate, you are inspiring great moms to be even better moms! AWESOME!