High School Senior Game Needs Re-branding In Today’s Climate

Senior AssassinYou learn something new every day.  For me, I discovered a high school  game that’s apparently been around since the 80s, but somehow slipped past my radar until now.  I discovered it when I overheard student taking about today because they are preparing for the big kickoff next week.

Senior Assassin is a cross between ultimate tag and skirmish using mainly water guns.  Ever player gets some other play they must “kill.”  If I get killed, I’m out.  But if I kill my target, I must then take on their target.  Players keep getting eliminated until the surviving player is dubbed the winner.  Many times, participants must pay to enter the game and the winner gets the pot.

Sometimes, other rules are added, such as you are immune if you are wearing underwear, or with a freshman.

It’s especially popular as a final-year tradition to keep Senioritis at bay, come March-June.

I asked the students if it’s really wise to keep up with this game, given what happened earlier this month in Parkland, Florida.  I could see them struggle to connect the dots between this recent tragedy and this long-standing tradition.  But to me, it was very clear.

While I understand the game’s appeal, I think it would be in very bad taste to continue a prolonged violent-themed role-playing game.

While I’m not out to steal anybody’s joy, (the seniors have been waiting for over three years since they were incoming freshman), I think they should at least change the name, eliminating all reference to shooting and guns.  It’s insensitive and disrespectful to the victims and their families.

What do you think?  Am I being to sensitive?

Please comment below.

#153Promise

 

 

 

Kids and Stress… Round Peg; Square Hole

Sad, Learning, School, Reading, Challenging

The last hour of the Stress Workshop I attended was supposed to be a Q and A about how to best address stress with you children once it rears its ugly head.  I was looking forward to learning some tips and maybe even some proactive strategies.  It didn’t happen.

Instead, these were some of the questions that parents asked:

  • How can I get my kid to hand in her homework?
  • Why won’t my kid do his homework?
  • How can I get my kids to listen to me?
  • Why won’t my kid do his chores?

You see the pattern?  These weren’t actual open ended questions about how to HELP their kids; these were actually complaints disguised as questions.

Continue reading “Kids and Stress… Round Peg; Square Hole”

A Traumatic Statistic: Prevalence of PTSD

Fear, Woman, Crack, Notch, Furrow

Did you know that a whopping 70% of the general public will experience a traumatic event, and of those who do, 20% go on to develop PTSD?

Children lack the proper coping mechanisms, so they are particularly vulnerable.

War is not the only way to get PTSD.  Other traumatic events can include:

  • a serious injury or illness
  • a death
  • a car accident
  • a significant life change, like a divorce or move
  • abuse or bullying
  • dysfunction in the home, like yelling or addiction
  • a disaster like a fire
  • a crime
  • either first-hand experience of the events above or even witnessing them second-hand

The key to not developing PTSD in the first place is to get immediate aftercare.  But if that did not happen, it’s not too late to seek treatment for your child months or even years afterward.

Some of the symptoms of PTSD, according to the Mayo Clinic and WebMD re:

  • Irritability, angry outbursts or aggressive behavior
  • Always being on guard for danger
  • Overwhelming guilt or shame
  • Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much or driving too fast
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Not enjoying activities usually enjoyed
  • Avoiding certain situations
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Bad dreams
  • Being easily startled or frightened
  • Panic attacks
  • Headaches, stomach aches, muscle pain without specific injury

For students, these may also manifest as lowered grades or discipline problems at school.

Candle, Rose, Tealight, Quiet

Every child deserves to feel at peace and safe in their environment.  You never know if something they experienced may have been recorded as a trauma in their brain and they need professional help to learn how to re-regulate their emotions.

If your child starts to begin to display any of the signs above, or if they or your family has experienced any of the major events listed above,  please make the #153Promise to contact their guidance counselor and share your concerns.

They may need validation from someone who understands what they are going through.

-KissesXxXx

 

Trust the Teachers: Another Way to Love Your Kids

Education, School, Back To SchoolNow’s the time to select courses for next year.  Placing your child in the correct classes is a very important decision and can set the stage for either a pleasant year, or a stressful one.

You child’s teachers have been monitoring their progress since September.  They know the strengths and weaknesses of your child and also know about the requirements of the courses for next year.

If your child is doing well this year, that’s not necessarily an indication that they should be ‘bumped up’ a level.  Unless they are making high As and say they want more of a challenge, you may be setting up your child to be stretched too thin next year.

Conversely, if you have a student who’s been struggling all year, you may want to ask the teacher’s opinion about actually dropping down a level.  There’s no shame in admitting that your child is in over their head.

If your child is going into or currently in high school, I’d also take your child’s desires into consideration when planning for post graduation.  Do not automatically assume they are going into college.  If they are not self motivated and/or do not like school or reading, then they very likely will not see the value in getting up to go to classes, preparing for them, writing the papers and studying for the few tests they will have.  You may want to discuss career options that include technical training.  They may be able to learn skills that give them the chance to get a career with opportunity for growth in a field they enjoy.

Think about the years 18-22: would you rather pay for tuition where they’re barely passing, or have them make their own money, learn independence, and feel pride that they are making a wage doing honorable work?

Book, Bored, College, Education, FemaleAn education should be to discover what your child can learn and achieve- not what they can’t do.  You may ‘know’ your child, but in this area, their teachers know more.  You may see them doing their work at home, but if the teacher records zeros for assignments not handed in, your child may be sending you a coded message.  They may be in their room ‘studying’ all night, but if they are not testing well, have you quizzed them on the material the night before to make sure they knew the content?

True, every child deserves opportunities.  But if a teacher thinks the child is truly not at the point of readiness for a certain step in their education, then the opportunity you may actually be providing is to set them up for failure.

Birger Kollmeier, Professor, Blackboard

Please keep your own ego and motivation in check if you are considering overriding either your child or their teacher’s thoughts regarding class selection for next year.

Make it your #153Promise to trust the teachers to know what’s best regarding your child’s scholastic abilities to give your child every opportunity to succeed.

-Kisses! XxXx

 

 

More Ink… Documenting Love

Journal, Desk, Wood, Notebook, WritingMy ten year old daughter loves it when I write her notes in the morning before I go off to school since I leave before she wakes up.  It starts off her day feeling loved, even though I’m not there to wish her well.

So when I saw a free journal up for grabs at the used book store, I took it.

Now, when I write a note, I no longer scrounge around the house for a lone scrap of paper- I turn a page of the journal.  She’s also taken to writing back to me.

This way, we’ll have a nice memory of all the notes written back and forth.

Make the #153Promise to honor your children in small but meaningful ways, everyday, by starting a memoir of your daily love in ink.

-Kisses! XxXx

I *AM* An Expert, Dagnabbit!

Classroom, Old, One-Room, School, Education, ClassI had a phone conference with my publisher a little over a week ago and he said something that really stuck in my craw- he questioned that I am a legitimate expert regarding kids’ issues.

Really???

Yeah…” he continued, “being a teacher doesn’t make you an expert.  I mean, when was the last time a parent goes into a school and asks to see a really good teacher because their kids won’t eat their vegetables?  They go to a doctor.  You’re just not an authority in that arena.

That’s when I heard that giant record scratch, the music stops, and it’s about to get really intense.

Mind you, this man does not have children; he’s never had to go to anybody about ANY children’s issues.  That’s when I should have just let it go in one ear and out the other.  But I tend to be a little — what’s the word — obsessive about certain issues, so I stewed.  I mulled.  I percolated.

I vented to my husband yesterday for, like, the eight thousandth time, listing all the point that DO indeed qualify me to be an authority in parenting.  He patiently listened (bless him!) to which he finally said, “You should write them all down and use that for your promotions.”  He’s right!  At the risk of sounding pompous, I DO need to build a case for why I am a good person to listen to when it comes to raising a child.  Just suppose I get successful enough that people start to notice me.  Critics love to tear people a new one.  I better get working on my best game play.  In the spirit of an good offense being the strongest defense, I offer to you why I AM an expert, dagnabbit:

  1. I’m a mother of two great kids.  My daughter is a sweet, sensitive ten year old who’s compliant and has never been in trouble at school.  She gets good grades and excels at gymnastics.  My three and a half year old is a happy, social butterfly.  He’s very well adjusted and his emotions are well regulated.  I must be doing something right.
  2. I had a rough childhood.  When I say not to do something because it will hurt the child emotionally, believe it.
  3. I’ve done the work.  Yes, I was scarred.  I had a nervous breakdown at 17.  I had panic attacks.  I made bad choices when I was younger.  I’ve been in and out of therapy.  I know the different approaches to take for wellness because I either was taught the tools by another expert, or I learned them doing my own research.
  4. I read.  I always look to others to learn more about a topic.  If I have a theory about something, I can find and document the literature to back me up.
  5. I’ve been a coach.  I’ve run with middle schoolers as they do their distance perimeters around our school.  I’ve pushed them to excel as they cross the finish line.
  6. I’ve been a musical director.  You want a challenge?  Try getting thirty kids on stage, singing and dancing their hearts out.
  7. I have a degree in Education.  The training includes psychology, educational theory, child/adolescent development and behavior/classroom management.
  8. I have observed thousands of students.  Not must my own students, but I must observe an entire building to monitor the safety of our school.  I keep a watchful eye.  I notice trends.  I see what parents do not see, in a variety of settings: classroom, hallway, cafeteria…  I can tell you who’s changing their outfits after getting out of a parent’s car.  I know what they eat for lunch.  Who just broke up with whom.  If they use potty mouth.  The walls have ears, and they’re attached to my head.
  9. I have observed at least double that amount of parents.  With all my classes over sixteen years, track teams, and theatre productions, that’s easily over 10,00 parents I’ve interacted with.  I see what’s been working… and what’s been not working.  I’ve even asked parents who have great kids what’s their secret.
  10. As a teacher, I document success and failure.  After meticulously recording data in order to track progress and ultimately assigning a grade, I must then analyze it all to identify trends and adjust my approach to reach more students.  It’s what good educators do.  I can tell when students are not applying themselves.  I know when a kid is not happy.  Or tired.  Or high.  We are trained to spot warning signs and instructed how to get at risk students help.

School Class, School, Children, Bali, Indonesia, PupilsSo yeah… I think being a teacher makes me an expert.

My district has parent teacher conferences this week.  Make it your #153Promise this week to touch base with your children’s teachers and ask them how your kid is doing and how you can support them to achieve their best.  Trust that the teachers have your kids’ best interests at heart.  And believe them.

After all, we are experts.

-Kisses! XxXx

“L” is for Listen…

I made a post a while back on my acronym for LOVE.  It’s such an important concept that I thought each letter deserves its own day.

Mila Repa, Buddha, Bodhisattva, Esoteric, Right Hand“Listen” is the first word that spells out how to love (according to me).  If you don’t listen to someone, communication and trust breaks down, and it’s pretty difficult (if not impossible) for them to believe anything you say to them.

My daughter gave me the perfect example last night.

We were all eating dinner last night- my husband, our ten year old daughter, our three year old son, and me.  My daughter is from a two-household situation, so she’s with us Mondays, Tuesdays and every other weekend.  It stinks, but we manage.  Of the time she’s with us, Mondays and Fridays are gymnastics, and my husband works on Fridays and Saturdays.  Therefore, Tuesday nights are the only time we can have an extended dinner together.  Again, it stinks, but we make the most of the time, being thankful that we make that part of the week a priority.

Picture the table: I’m talkative and love to reflect on my day.  Our son is a ball of white lighting and can easily dominate.  My husband, when he speaks, usually says something of deep import.  And then there’s our daughter.

She’s does have her chatty moments, but in general, she’s a monosyllabic girl.  When I ask her how her day went, “Fine” is usually what I get.  Such was the case last night.  But a few minutes later, in between second helpings of rice and chili, and our son’s random musings, I managed to hear “I cried in school today…

She then proceeded to unravel a convoluted thread of fifth grade drama involving a group project, conflicting ideas, allegations of copying, and bruised egos.  It clearly was important to her.  I listened to her and gave her my full attention.  I asked her if she’s okay now (she said she was) and she said, “I guess it’s just been an emotional week for me, with…” and then she emoted even more.  About being from a divorce situation; her great grandmother dying this week; course selection for middle school… I offered to contact her teacher on her behalf and reassured her that we’re there for her.

Imagine if, when she first said about her crying, I hadn’t listened to her.  What if I had just said, “Okay, Honey” and went on with my business?  It would have destroyed her.  Or what if we never made time to talk as a family?

Silhouette, Father And Son, Sundown, Chat, Advice

Make the #153Promise to connect with your children on a daily basis to ask them about their day and really listen.  It doesn’t have to be at a sit-down dinner; you can set the stage for “ear time” by:

  • having a “no electronics” rule in the car and use the taxi time to debrief each other about important issues
  • still “tuck them in at night” so they can have some one-on-one time with you
  • making breakfast a “sharing time” as everyone is getting ready in the morning (if lunches and backpacks are already packed, clothes are picked out the night before, and healthy breakfasts are available, it frees up a lot of important time)

Listening is the first step to let your children know they are loved.

-Kisses!  XxXx

Hey, Bill Murray: Todoay’s My Favorite Holiday! The Underdogs of Groundhog Day

Groundhog, Wildlife, Nature, Rodent, Fur, Ground, GrassYes- it’s Groundhog Day!

Maybe it’s because I grew up in Pennsylvania Dutch country, but February second was a BIG deal in my elementary school.  I remember cutting out brown and green circles and assembling a construction paper masterpiece whereby Punxsutawney Phil emerges from his sleepy little hole to announce if we have to deal with six more weeks of winter.  I even recorded a children’s album when I was a, well, child that explains it:

On February second, Mr. Groundhog will come out.

He’s been asleep all winter, now he wants to look about.

If he doesn’t see his shadow, he will stay outdoors, it’s clear.

‘Cause on February second, Mr. Groundhog will appear.

The mind’s an amazing thing.

There’s another reason I love Groundhog day: it’s the most underrated holiday… ever.  Think about it: this little furry guy gets to decide if we’re in for six more weeks of crap weather — sleet, freezing rain, howling winds and snow; not to mention huge heating bills — or balmy, flower laced gentle breezes.

It’s a holiday rooted deep in German culture, based on both Pagan beliefs and scientific calculation that we are half way through winter, staring with the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox.

But I love it simply because even though it’s a deeply symbolic day that’s been reduced to a radio DJ’s content for one morning out of 365 days, it still remains, undefeated.

Growing up, *I* was an underdog.  I was underestimated.  I was made a spectacle by my peers.  I was not given the respect I deserve.  But I’m still here, undefeated.

Cheerleaders, Football, College, NflSo I’m here to shout out loud and proud that I LOVE YOU, PUNXSUTAWNEY PHIL!  YOU ARE MY HERO!

Make it your #153Promise today to stand up for the Groundhogs in your world.  Let those Invisibles know that you value them.  Give them the pride and dignity they deserve.  Help an old lady across the street.  Tie a little tyke’s shoelace.  Buy a homeless person a cup of cocoa.  Or stop what you’re doing for a moment when your child has been calling your name for the umpteenth time and listen to them.  Better yet, YOU take the initiative to coax them out of their hole and ask them how they’re doing and to tell them about their day… and listen to them.

Even if there are six more weeks of winter, your heroic efforts may just keep you heart warm and toasty until Spring.

Crocus, Flower, Spring, Bühen, Purple

Out of the Mouth of Babes: Inheriting Opinions from the “Media” of Parenting

I’ve been on a roll regarding the topic of what’s passed down from parent to child, and this post is no different.  I think it’s because I’m fascinated about how children develop and the role we as parents play in that process.

I’ve been a teacher, director and coach for over a decade and a half, so I’ve had  interactions with thousands of kids ranged from 11 to 18.  It’s amazing to me what kids:

  • don’t know (I can teach that.)
  • actually know (I can test that.)
  • think they know (I can challenge that… or can I?)

It’s the third category I’m going to discuss in this post.

Hand, Puppet, Snowman, Political

When kids know or don’t know facts, it’s my job as an educator to document these proficiencies or deficiencies and fill in the gaps with the content of my subject matter.  Schools also are to model good behavior and positive character development: be polite; don’t bully; clean up before you leave…  But it starts to get very dicey when a student professes a certain opinion and they are convinced that it is the “Truth.”  What do I do with that?  What do I do when that opinion may step on the toes of a certain population?  And especially when I suspect they have adopted that opinion from their parents?

The media bombards our senses with a skewed representation of reality masquerading as fact.  I think many adults know by know that Fox News is slanted to the Right, for example.  And we tend to gravitate to the media’s spin that confirms our own pre-existing bias.  But young people are not that savvy.

What we need to understand that WE as parents are “the media” to our children.  They look up to us and respect us (whether or not they eat their vegetables, clean their room, or expect “No” for an answer).  So what spin are we putting onto their young, malleable minds?

It becomes very obvious during election years.  When a 12 year old begins talking about immigration or terrorists and what to do with “those” people, he/she is getting that from somewhere… and unless they have CNN feeds downloaded onto their tablet/ipod/cell phone, chances are, they are picking up on your political views.

I’m not about to step in and micro-manage your dinner table conversation (hopefully you are having them), but I do ask you to make the 153Promise to realize that whatever you say, your children will absorb and repackage in their own way.

Have you discussed Caitlin Jenner?  Donald Trump?  The Pope?  Syria?  Are your children around?  What messages are they internalizing?  Is it age appropriate and fair for them to have those ideas in their head?  How are they fitting your political opinions into their understanding of the world?

Opinions may not be genetic, but they are definitely inherited.  Consider making the 153Promise to give your children a fair and balanced view on topics so they can sort it out on their own.  Or if it’s too much for them to handle, you may want to censor yourself in the future.

Like it or not, your kids will go into school parroting what you say at home.  What do you want coming out of their mouths?  Is it true?  Is it kind?  Do they know the difference between fact verses your opinion?

What “Parenting Media” do you want your children to inherit?

Kisses!  XxXx

“A Long Line of… Xs and Ys?” Hereditary Vs Genetic

Poker, Playing, King, Ace, Game, Gambling, Card, HeartsIt takes a lot of introspection and a lot of ego-busting, but take a good, realistic, look at your kids.  What are they like?  Polite?  Kind?  Social?  Withdrawn?  Unruly?  Nasty?  Patient?  Short-tempered?  Flexible?  Anxious?

How did they get that way?  Most likely, it was from you.  Either from Nature (biologically) or Nurture (environmentally).  Sometimes, that line between the genes and the surroundings can get very perforated.

Many behaviors are hereditary… but that doesn’t mean it’s DNA related.  Let me explain…

First off, I must put a disclaimer: I am not a scientist.  But that does not mean what I am about to say is untrue.  In fact, I may be a very good person to be talking about the topic, since I can discuss it in very simple terms and not get too technical.  And if there are any scientists out there reading this post, by all means, back me up!

Some traits people have are genetic- passed down in DNA from the biological parents.  Babies are born that way.  Eye color, general body size, certain diseases or conditions like Downs Syndrome or cystic fibrosis… all these conditions are present at birth and are out of the person’s control.  A child adopted into a different family will not change the fate of these characteristics.

Then, there are certain traits that are fostered into a child: a good work ethic, cleanliness, organization skills… they can be taught.  Any skills that can be learned are usually not present at birth.  Granted, I am oversimplifying here.  But let’s use something like the model for a healthy relationship as an example.

People will tend to pick a potential partner for themselves that is a lot like the dynamics they witnessed growing up because that was the model shown to them.  Even though it may not be a good example, people become attracted to it because it feels like home.  I’ve mentioned before that my parents had a dysfunctional relationship.  As a result, I picked very bad people to get involved with up until I was about 36 (the magical number of years where a child has now spent just as much time away from their familial influence).

So if you identify patterns in your life that are not necessarily medically linked to your parents, look at the patterns in THEIR lives… then your grandparents’ lives…  Chances are, something was passed down from generation to generation that was not genetic, yet you inherited those traits.

College is another good example.  If your parents went to college, chances are, you will too.  And if you came from working class people, you most likely will go into the trade or family business or your parents.

But  there is no gene to my knowledge for picking a career or relationship.

Now that you can recognize that distinction, I think it’s important not to give too much credit to the gene pool.  Yes, you do get what you get by the roll of the Xs and Ys…  However, its crucial to admit that a lot of who we are is due to our environment.

True, science may have found certain genes LINKED to obesity or alcoholism.  However, look at the lifestyles the parents lead.  Parents who buy healthy food and model an active lifestyle usually do not have overweight kids.  I may have a gene linked to alcohol abuse, but if my parents never drank, that switch may never get turned on…  Conversely, I may have the intellectual potential to have a very high IQ, but if my parents never read to me or deprived me of stimulation at an early age, I will never fully reach my potential.

(I probably just stepped in it… right. about. now.)

My point is to be very careful how you view the mentality of “A chip off the old block” or “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”  If it’s out of pride, then by all means, take credit that you’ve got a “Mini Me.”

But if you are under the illusion that your child is destined to suffer the same fate as you, make the 153Promise to challenge that view.  Is your child bad at math because of some genetic aversion to numbers, or did they pick it up because they asked you for help and you said, “I’ve never been good at it, either.”

Is your child fated to be anxious because you were diagnosed with a genetic disorder, or is it that they learned from you that the world is scary because you are anxious… and so was your mother or father…  Or maybe you yell at them a lot, so they are always waiting for the other shoe to drop… Or both.

Make the 153Promise to see what “long line of” whatever your family comes from, and examine WHY you think that is.  If in doubt, ask your family doctor and if they don’t know, ask them for the name of a geneticist to learn whether or not you can change your child’s pattern of behaviors.

Give your children every opportunity to succeed, regardless of their chromosomes.

You may not be able to control the cards they were dealt, but you can help them play their hand to the best of their advantage.  And if you were never taught those skills, seek out someone who knows better than you.  Go or your child’s guidance counselor or pediatrician for support.

What “Long Line” do you want your children to come from???