Thursday, March 31, 2011

What is the first sign of bullying

The above link is to an article published in the Mar/Apr issue of Lifestyles of Denton County under the title “The Good, The Bad and The Bully.” But as I read through the list of “warning signs” I was disturbed and angry. Toward the bottom is “they refuse to talk about what is wrong.”

• Afraid to walk to and from school or change their usual walking route
• They don’t want to ride the bus or they beg you to take them to school
• They are afraid to go to school
• They pretend illness in the mornings or they begin truanting
• They start doing poorly in their school work
• They often bring home destroyed clothing or other belongings
• They come home famished (bully takes their food money or lunch)
• They act withdrawn, start stammering, lack confidence
• They become distressed and anxious and sometimes stop eating
• They attempt or threaten suicide
• They cry themselves to sleep or have nightmares
• Their personal belongings go missing
• They ask for money or start stealing (in order to pay the bully) or they
continually lose their pocket money
• They refuse to talk about what’s wrong
• They have unexplained cuts, abrasions, bruises
• They begin to bully other children, siblings or they become aggressive
and unreasonable
• They give improbable excuses for any of the behaviors listed above

Why do kids refuse to talk about what is wrong? Why are these warning signs so severe? Shouldn’t the first warning sign for us as parents be that our child tells us “someone is picking on me”? In An American Girl: Chrissa Stands Strong, the main character Chrissa says nothing about the bullying incidents that occur with her first few days at a new school. She doesn’t confide in a teacher, her parents, or even her brother. Why are our kids being programmed to think that have to keep it to themselves? Is it just the bullies that are warning our kids not to tell? Are “we” as parents not encouraging our kids to talk to us about ANYTHING and encouraging them to confide in us?

I for one explain to my girls the difference between tattle-tale and when you need to tell on someone. I try hard to keep the lines of communication open with my children—which can be exhausting because they can talk A LOT!

Don’t wait until you think something is wrong. If your child refuses to talk about anything, consider that a warning sign. Then, instead of badgering them, try asking yourself what you can do as a parent to be more open and encouraging. Ask yourself in what ways can you “set the scene” for open and honest communication with your child so that the other more severe warnings signs don’t have to come into play.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Two extremes: tiger mother versus giving up mother hood altogether. I’ll admit, I have not read this tiger mother book, but I think I’ve heard enough to decide it’s not my thing. However, there were a couple of things I noticed in the interview with Rahna Reiko Rizzuto. First, she “had this idea that motherhood was this really all-encompassing thing,” and she “was afraid of being swallowed up by that.” Yes, mothering, parenting, is a 24/7 job; but I don’t see any reason why one has to lose their identity in it. You have to change and adapt your expectations of parenthood and yourself when kids enter the picture, but there’s no reason why you can’t have a life to some extent.

Next, she said, “In my part-time motherhood, I get concentrated blocks of time when I can be that 1950s mother we idealize who was waiting in an apron with fresh cookies when we got off the school bus and wasn’t too busy for anything we needed until we went to bed.” If I recall, June Cleaver was a fictional character of a TV show illustrating a time period when the men worked and their wives were expected to keep house. Some women and mothers still think that June Cleaver is the ideal we need to live up to. Uh, excuse me? This is not the 1950s, it’s 2011 people.

Talyaa Liera was also interviewed, but it almost sounded like she felt she helped her children by moving 3000 miles away. She said, “that by being so nurturing, I was in some ways keeping my children from growing to their potential.” You couldn’t make some adjustments and teach your children to be more independent?

My first reaction to these moms is that they are being selfish, but I understand their wanting to be something more than “just a mom.” I don’t think a mother has to go to the extreme of leaving her family to accomplish that. Then I see these women as trying to live up to a certain standard—their idea of perfection that is in their head. No two people are exactly alike. No two mothers are exactly alike. We all have strengths and weaknesses, as do our husbands and kids. We need to work together (within the family) to figure out what motherhood, parenthood, and individualism looks like for each of us and realize that what works for me probably doesn’t look the same for you or her. We all need to stop striving for perfection and just find the truth.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Are you in a really good mood?

Are you in TOO good of a mood? Feel like you’re on top of the world? Want to bring yourself down to earth, way, way down? Here’s ten ways to make yourself feel miserable.

*think of everything you don’t like about yourself
*recall of every negative thing anyone has ever said to you
*remember all the stupid things you have done
*remember all your failures
*recall every rejection

Do you feel miserable yet? If not, then keep reading …

*think of everything you wanted to try but haven’t
*try to be perfect
*don’t have a dream or a goal
*don’t have a hobby
*don’t relieve stress

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Good mood, bad mood, mood swings—are they something that is beyond your control? Even though according to Dr. Rifkin in Going Bonkers magazine (June 2010) “moods result from complex interactions of chemicals in our brains,” and “these chemicals are influenced by everything that goes on within us, and outside us” we can still look for patterns and causes.

So many things can trigger our moods: genetics, family, friends, weather, food, sleep, allergies, time of day, even thoughts and feelings. Try journaling—and I’m not just saying that because I love to write. Journaling is a great way to record and keep track of when and why your mood changes. And you don’t have to just keep track of your bad moods.

I personally (*ahem*) know people who have to eat the right foods as the right times and exercise regularly to avoid bad moods. When the weather changes, my kids act differently. I’m sure we all know someone who gets grumpy when they don’t get enough sleep.

If thoughts and feelings are bringing you down, double check and make sure they are based on fact and not confused, irrational thoughts. Can it be replaced with a more balanced or believable thought?

Bullies will manipulate our thoughts and feelings to change our mood. But how much of what they are saying is true? Are they taking the truth and twisting it into a lie? If you believe their lies, they have won. If you let them to put you in a bad mood, they have won. Go back to the facts. Get back to the truth.

We won’t always be in a good mood. Mood changes are ok. Bad moods are going to happen from time to time, just don’t stay there. Dr. Rifkin says, “Don’t just accept a bad mood, especially when you have the power to change it.”