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Girls groups

When A Group of Great Girls Goes Bad: Basic Drama or Cultural Breakdown?

Girls rock.  Put a bunch together and it can be a great deal of fun, laughs and heart to heart conversations. Except when it isn’t.

Sometimes groups of girls have problems getting along.  They fight, gossip and hurt each other’s feelings.  At times it feels like a uphill battle while at the same time a downhill freight train with no intention of stopping.

I’ve been working personally with specific staff members and girls this year from a variety of schools and camps.  And even though I’ve been doing group coaching for a long time, I always find it an eye-opening study of girls culture, friendship and positive mentorship. Most recently, the leaders of an organization had asked me about one group of girls, in particular, who seemed to be in an endless fight. This daily argument not only was causing internal havoc in the group but was also exhausting the staff and leaving them with questions, concerns and a whole lot of frustration.

After a meeting with the girls personally, I realized that the problem was not, in fact, day to day fighting.  Rather, it was a much larger cultural problem that had festered like a toxic wound at the heart of the group.

Does this sound familiar to you?  It can be exhausting to deal with the day to day issues that emerge in such a group because there never seems to be an end.  That’s because the daily problems are a symptom—not the cause.  The question becomes; are you dealing with the root of cultural turmoil or are you trying to band-aid the daily indicators of that turmoil?

Here is a way to determine if you have a deeper problem than the standard daily grind:

  1. Same thing, different day: The girls always seem to be fighting Read more

Parents; How to Talk to Children about the Connecticut School Shooting

We have all heard the horrific news by now. At 9:40 this morning, a masked gunman named Adam Lanza entered Sandy Hook elementary school and fired a gun around 100 times. He killed 26 people, 6 adults and 20 children under the age of 8 before killing himself.

Since then it’s been hard to concentrate on anything else but this story.  As a parent of young children, it’s the unimaginable. You send your children off to school hoping that they will be happy but knowing that they will be safe.  Typical worries of a friend not being so friendly or a teacher giving a bad grade may cross our minds.  But not this.

There is no making sense of this tragedy but we do need to be ready for questions.  What do we do for and say to our children about this senseless shooting?

(1) Limit media exposure:  Conversation and information about this tragedy should come from you, not the TV.  You know your children best and can limit details as necessary.  Information on the news is for you and is not age-appropriate for a child.

(2) Underscore safety:  Ensure your children that the authorities and people in charge at their schools are doing everything possible to keep everyone safe.  Help them to understand that a school shooting in one location does not mean that there will be another one in a different location.  These incidents are thankfully very rare and your children and their friends are not at risk because this has happened. In this case, as the gunman is also dead, there is a finality to this devastating rampage.

(3) Remain calm and levelheaded: While it is natural to be upset and infuriated about the shooting, it’s important that we don’t overwhelm children with our emotions.  They need to know that we are strong and reliable if they have questions—and that we are there for them if they need to talk.  If YOU need to talk about it, call a friend or speak to a loved one.

(4) Expect some unusual behavior or feelings: Sometimes news of this sort can make the children act in different ways.  Some will become withdrawn and quiet while others may become hyper or clingy.  Ask them how they are feeling and if they would like to talk. Assure your child that they are OK and give them space to feel anyway that they do—validating their feelings as normal and natural.  Help them to expend nervous energy in productive ways without pushing them.

(5) Discuss fears: Whether you sit with them and have a conversation or use art, role playing or dolls, allow children to express their fears.  What will help them feel safer and more secure?  Fears are nothing to be embarrassed about– today or any day. Sometimes just listening and being their can assuage their fears.

(6) Do not dismiss or avoid: It’s a tough topic.  But if your children are asking about it, talk to them in an age-appropriate way.  You don’t need to go into details and if you don’t know an answer, just say you don’t know! Assure them each time that they are OK and the people in charge are working hard to keep everyone safe.  Remember, if you aren’t talking about it and they want to hear an answer, they will go to another source.  YOU need to be the source.

(7) Hug them tight:  Nothing says safety and security like being tucked into your parents’ arms.  Tell them that you love them and that you and everyone who loves and cares for them are doing everything you can to ensure their safety.

The hug, of course, is also for you.  At times, having children can feel like a really big, tough and even frustrating job.  Everyone has their moments.  But today, take time to hold your children and tell them how grateful you are to have them.  That your life is enriched by them.  That they fill your heart with the most delicious happiness and you thank goodness everyday that they are yours.

Do it.  Again and again. You’ll be glad you did.

 

Walmart Kidnapping: How can I keep my child safe from unkind strangers?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4PxkTiU0yU]

My Facebook page is hopping today after I posted about the little girl, Brittney Baxter, age 7, who fought her way out of getting kidnapped from Walmart yesterday, when a man grabbed her, covered her mouth and tried to subdue her.  The girl is safe and the alleged kidnapper in custody, but these stories of attempted child abduction always leave a trail of fear, frustration, concern, and questions from parents and educators.

Several parents and concerned citizens have gotten in touch because they are unsure about how they can protect the children in their lives from a similar situation. I wanted to reach out to you to provide some tips.  Please feel free to pass it on and repost the link as this is an issue on many people’s minds today.

In terms of “stranger danger,” what are we supposed to tell our young kids?

(1) People are mostly kind…but some aren’t:  For the most part, people are good, kind and helpful.  But not everyone. “Most people are very kind. When we go to the store, there are many kind people who are there to help you, right? Most people want everyone to be safe and happy. But some people are not kind.  Some people do not make safe and kind choices. We don’t always know who the kind and unkind people are because there are no superhero or villain masks in real life.”

(2) Stay by the person who brought you:  Your school age children should be told to stay by you or the person who brought them.  “When we go out, please stay where I can see you and you can see me.  Please don’t wander into the next aisle alone because I won’t be able to see you.  Wandering off is an unsafe choice.  Staying by me is a safe choice.”

(3) State what you want in the positive as well as in the negative: We Read more

Helping Children Deal with Bullying: Creating Social Goals as a Solution

Bullying. There is no magic bullet to deal with it or prevent it.

As you may recall, NJ has implemented more stringent laws to deal with those who bully and to rally those in the schools to be more vigilant and proactive (I spoke about this on Fox news here). As you can imagine, that doesn’t mean that when I speak about bullying to the parents of Morris County, NJ in November, I will say that dealing with bullying is in the hands of the educators.  It can’t be.  When our children are part of the bullying triangle (bully, victim, bystanders), we need a home-school-community partnership just as we need a parent-educator-student partnership.  In other words, it’s everyone’s issue. It has to be.

There are some things we can do. Today let’s discuss one.  Social goals.  Social goals are what we hope to achieve when we are among others, in this case, peers.  In a recent study, researchers found that of the 370+ children they surveyed, social goals fell into three categories; (1) Acquiring social skills to nurture high quality friendships; (2) Acquiring a positive reputation to achieve prestige and “cool” friends; and (3) Avoiding negative reputation and negative judgments to circumvent being named a “loser.”

Now here’s the significant part:

  • Those in the first category (positive friendships), were more likely to more successfully manage their emotions, provide thoughtful and constructive Read more

Back to School Blues: Turning Fears & Tears Into Cheers

Dr. Robyn Silverman on MSN's "Mom's Homeroom" talking about Back to School Fears

“My child goes back to school next week.  He’s really nervous.  What can I do to help him?”

Questions about back to school fears are some of the most common questions I get at this time of year.  Take a look at some of the segments I’ve done for Mom’s Homeroom (MSN- brand new!) and CBS Early show (2010).  Also, take a look at these quick tips on dealing with back to school fears to get you started.

(1) Find out what’s scaring him: Is he scared that he won’t make friends? Getting lost? Riding the bus? Once we find out the true fear, we can handle it together.

(2) Talk about your childhood back to school fears and how you coped: When your child can hear that you had fears and that you dealt with them successfully, it can help him to feel better. Share something that made you feel more confident so he can call up this story or nugget of wisdom when he needs it. Read more

Ask Dr. Robyn: Teaching Children to be Fair

Dear Dr. Robyn,

My kids have gotten to an age where they always seem to be arguing about something. Every time I turn around I hear “That’s not fair!” and “You took my ____” or “Give it back!” The older one hates always having to share with my younger one and the younger one thinks all of my older one’s toys are better.  What can I do? — Pat, NYC

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4JNsLgYV34]

A Dad’s Perspective: Most Recent Review For Good Girls Don’t Get Fat

As a father to a 20-month-old girl, this just may be the most important book I’ve read since becoming a parent. Do something special for the girls in your life and read this book. — Chris Singer, Book Dads, reviewing Good Girls Don’t Get Fat: How Weight Obsession is Messing Up Our Girls & How We Can Help Them Thrive Despite It
Thank you, Book Dads (Chris Singer), for an outstanding review of Good Girls Don’t Get Fat– A Dad’s Perspective (on body image and girls)
A Dad’s Point of View on “Good Girls Don’t Get Fat” By Book Dads 5.0 out of 5 stars
How Weight Obsession Is Messing Up Our Girls and How We Can Help Them Thrive Despite It (Paperback)

I think the title of Dr. Robyn Silverman’s book (Good Girls Don’t Get Fat) really says it all. We’ve trained our girls to think they are bad or less of a person if they are fat. Whether it’s through magazines, television, the internet or ironically, the people who are supposed to love these girls the most (parents, siblings, “friends,” and teachers – yes teachers!!), girls are beginning to worry about their weight at younger and younger ages. While talk radio programs air news stories weekly extolling the dangers of obesity (which is, of course, also an important health issue), Dr. Silverman sees countless girls in her practice with only minor weight problems or none at all. However, these girls have convinced themselves they are fat and therefore “bad.”

The book provides excellent information of how aspects of a young girl’s life can send her the message of to be thin is to be happy, healthy, loved. The author takes the discussion from the “inside out” starting with what a girl thinks about her weight in her own head and continuing to cover how the various relationships in her life can exacerbate the issues. Including how powerful words can be in these various relationships (mother, father, step-parents if applicable, other family members, teachers and other adults).

Dr. Silverman uses a lot of tools, tips and worksheets throughout the book and are an excellent supplement to the information. Readers get examples of weight issues that may arise with girls and can read “Say What” boxes to give guidance on “what not to say” and “what to say” — (dads take note of that please). “Overheard” boxes appear throughout the chapters as well which share (read the whole review on Book Dads here: http://ow.ly/3sYEi)

Again, many thanks to Chris Singer of Book Dads! I would love to hear what you all thought was the most helpful part of Good Girls Don’t Get Fat and what articles and tips would help you in the future.  After all, 2011 is going to be a fantastic year…so let’s plan for positive body image, confident girls, and dreams fulfilled!

Backlash Abounds: Marie Claire Asks If “Fatties On TV Should Get A Room”

Mike and Molly show about Couple: Overeaters Anonymous

People often ask me the type of comments that could impact a developing child’s body image…here’s an example.

So anyway, yes, I think I’d be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other … because I’d be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything. To be brutally honest, even in real life, I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room — just like I’d find it distressing if I saw a very drunk person stumbling across a bar or a heroine addict slumping in a chair. –Maura Kelly, Marie Claire Magazine

Some people press “publish” before they think.  Kind of like pressing send on a text or an email that is simply verbal diarrhea, rash or rude reaction, or discriminatory aggression.  I think what Maura Kelly of Marie Claire Magazine wrote in her blog post yesterday is all three.  Her over 500 commenters really told her to shove it (and worse) after as she gave her two cents about the TV show Mike and Molly, a show about a couple who meet at Overeaters Anonymous. Read more

Are Extreme Sports Too Extreme for Teens?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hsF4tU6jJ9k]

Jordan Romero, age 13, became the youngest person to climb to the top of Mount Everest.

Jessica Watson, age 16, became the youngest person to sail around world by herself, without stopping and without assistance.

Peter Lenz, age 13, became the youngest person to die at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway when he fell off his motorcycle and was run over by a 12 year old, Xavier Zaya. (see above video)

So…are extreme sports too extreme for teens?

I was interviewed on this topic late yesterday for the Associated Press and this morning on Fox News (you’ll see it’s a touchy topic based on well over 350 comments on yahoo news/AP coverage) I believe are the most important points to consider: Read more

Brave, Powerful Boy Donates Hair to Locks of Love

David Stearns, Locks of Love

At a time when most 6th graders would rather crawl up and die than to be seen as “different,” it’s an anomaly that one boy would endure taunts, teasing, bullying and rude comments to grow his hair out “and look like a girl” for a good cause. David Stearns of Appleton, ME,  (Powerful student at Midcoast Martial Arts) recently donated his hair to Locks of Love.

Stearns, who was featured in his local paper, wanted to honor his grandfather who recently died of cancer as well as help someone his age, through locks of love, feel normal and beautiful again. It took his 2 years to grow his hair 13 inches to have it cut and donated to someone in need. Despite being taunted by classmates, told to leave the boy’s bathroom, and called “young lady” by strangers, he endured. Read more