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How to Avoid Your Child’s Advertising-Fueled Nag Factor

I’ll admit it—the first brand name my son recognized was Starbucks. This probably says something about the coffee habits in our family. However, it also says something about the advertising and branded world we live in. At the time of this recognition my son was about 2 or 2.5 years old. It just goes to show how powerful branded messages and advertising are for even the youngest members of our society.

After reading this disturbing article that explained that the 0-3 year old age range is now the prime target for advertisers, I started to delve more into the research on advertising to children.

kids advertising and the nag factorWhat I found was not encouraging. It seems clear that advertisers focus a lot of their time and money on ads for food products targeted to kids, most of which are quite unhealthy. A study released by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that advertising on children’s television (aimed at kids under age 12) had the highest proportion of food ads (50% of all ads) compared to all other genres of TV. What types of foods do these ads promote? Much like you might expect, these food ads targeted toward children primarily focus on candy and snacks (34%), cereal (28%), and fast food (10%).

Unfortunately, this type of advertising works. Studies show that children who watch more ads for food products on television are much more likely to prefer unhealthy foods when offered a choice.

So why is this advertising to children so effective? One factor, of course, is the advertisers are smart—they have harnessed the knowledge of psychology and marketing to be able to market products (especially food) to children in just the right way to make it very appealing to little minds.

Additionally, as we all know, children are relatively impressionable. Young children, in particular, have very little power to resist advertising when they see it. They do not yet have the skills to understand the advertisers’ persuasive tactics.

Lastly, and perhaps most disturbing, advertisers are aware of and have harnessed the power of “the nag factor.” We all know what that means. Kids nag their parents incessantly for products that they’ve seen advertised, usually on TV. One recent study looked at the “nag factor” and found that kids who are more familiar with commercial television characters are more likely to nag their parents for the products associated with those characters.

For me, one of the most problematic aspects of all this advertising to children is that the advertisers are really trying to indoctrinate kids into the idea that life should be all about purchasing and getting material things.

The good news is that parents are not helpless in this battle with advertisers for their children’s minds (and stomachs). Although advertising, particularly related to food items, is very persuasive to children, parents can be quite persuasive too as long as they promote a constant message of healthy food choices.

In a new study just published, several researchers considered the role of parents’ messages in the food choices made by children ages 3-5 just after watching advertising for food products. In one part of the study, children watched a commercial for French fries and were then given the option to choose French fries or a healthier food option for a snack. Parents looked on and one group was told to encourage their children to make the healthier choice, while the other group of parents was told to remain neutral about the food choice. When parents remained neutral, 71% of the children chose the French fries over the healthy option. However, when parents encouraged a healthier choice, the percentage of kids choosing French fries dropped to 55%. While this is not a dramatic drop, it does show that parental influence does have power, even in light of direct advertising for unhealthy products.

I think it’s unlikely that this type of marketing will end or even slow down, but this research offers encouragement that we as parents can influence good choices by our children, as long as we adhere to a clear, consistent message. It is obvious that advertising has a strong impact on children, so limiting children’s exposure to commercials will most likely make your children’s choices better in the long run and perhaps your life a little easier as a parent (e.g., less nagging).

Additionally, as children get older, I could see it being helpful to explain to them how advertisers play their game. If kids can understand why and how advertising is so persuasive, they might be more likely to resist it.

With my older son, I have begun explaining how some things we see on TV or the internet are a “trick.” The people making the product are trying to “trick” us into spending money on something that is either unhealthy or useless (like a junky toy). I have been reminding him of times when he bought a cheap toy and was bored with it after a day or two. These lessons are starting to sink in but it is an ongoing battle with advertising.

Here are some good resources available for helping kids learn media literacy:

 

How to Help If Your Child Has a Seizure: Call EMS and Don’t Panic

Some children are prone to seizures and having met many of these parents and taken many of these children to the hospital, I know these parents are acutely aware of what to do and how to do it in the event of another seizure.  It’s the children that have never had a seizure before and you the parents that have never had to deal with one before that we will focus on. The type of seizure most commonly encountered by children having their first seizure is the febrile seizure. The American College of Emergency Physicians published a number of great findings about febrile seizures and stated the following:

Simple fever-related (or febrile) seizures are common among children under age 5. Although these seizures can be frightening to parents and other caretakers, they are generally harmless. Annals of Emergency Medicine, the scientific journal of the American College of Emergency Physicians, published the following advice for parents and caretakers about simple febrile seizures.

Children at Risk

  • Febrile seizures tend to run in families and are not preventable. Children of parents with a history of these seizures are about four- and one-half times more likely to experience a febrile seizure, and if both parents had febrile seizures as children, their child is 20 times more likely to experience one.
  • About 30 percent of children who have a febrile seizure will have another one, usually within a year of the first seizure.
  • Simple febrile seizures are common among children ages 6 months to 5 years.
  • Febrile seizures have been associated with viral infections, Roseola, and Shigella, which is a bacteria that causes bloody diarrhea.
  • There are no risk factors for febrile seizures related to geography, race, or ethnicity.

Signs and Symptoms

Here are the signs and symptoms associated with simple febrile seizures:

  • Simple febrile seizures generally occur in the first few hours of a high fever or rapid rise in body temperature.
  • These seizures generally occur only once in a 24-hour period and usually last less than a minute, but can last 15 minutes or longer.
  • May cause loss of consciousness.
  • May cause rhythmic muscle contractions.
  • May cause child to clench teeth or bite cheek or tongue.
  • Child may stare or become unresponsive.
  • May cause face, arms, and legs to twitch, and arms or legs to jerk.
  • Eyes may roll back.
  • May cause difficulty breathing.
  • May cause child to lose bladder or bowel control.

Advice to Parents

Parents should seek immediate medical attention for a child or infant experiencing a febrile seizure, even if the seizure does not appear life-threatening (e.g., child’s breathing is not constricted). Although the seizure may end before medical helps arrives or before the child reaches the emergency department, it is important to have a physician rule out other causes for a first-time seizure, especially meningitis. While the child is experiencing a seizure and until help arrives, parents should:

  • Protect the child from injury.
  • Lay the child face-up on the floor. If the child vomits, turn on the left side to prevent inhaling vomit or mucus into the lungs.
  • Do not place anything, including your fingers, in the child’s mouth.

After a Seizure

  • In the emergency department, a child who has had a seizure will be evaluated for serious diseases, such as pneumonia or meningitis. This may require diagnostic tests such as blood work, urinalysis, x-rays, or a lumbar puncture (spinal tap). Most children who experience a simple febrile seizure will not require admission to the hospital.
  • Medicines generally are not given to prevent simple febrile seizures. In addition, medicines given for fevers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, have not been shown to prevent febrile seizures, but are often recommended because they relieve body aches and fever.
  • After a seizure, a child may be sleepy or experience memory loss, headache, or confusion.
  • Febrile seizures can recur if the child has another fever.

The final thing I would like to add to this is that there is no reason to delay calling 911 if your child starts to have a seizure or you think they are having one please call and allow the professionals to help.

Good luck and Be Safe.

How Can Regular Vet Visits Help Keep Your Kids Safe Too? Part2

Last month I discussed with you many of the diseases that we vaccinate our pets against and how they can or cannot affect our children. This is the link to the first article just in case you missed it, because I feel this is very important subject for anyone who has kids and pets in the same household.

In this article, I want to continue with this important topic, and discuss other diseases that our beloved furry family members can contract, such as intestinal worms and parasites, and the effects that these can have on your family.  I once again feel it is important to remind that I am NOT a licensed veterinarian, so I am writing this post based solely on information I have been able to compile to help inform you as best as I can. I have tried to use only the most reliable sources available, and as always, please consults your pet’s veterinarian and your child’s pediatrician for the ‘final word’ on all of this.

So let’s begin by saying that every six months most vets will ask you for a fresh stool sample. As gross and unpleasant as this is to collect, this is very important. There are many things they can test for in a single fecal exam. (Here’s a useful tip….. I use empty pharmacy medicine bottles. I peel off the label and clean the bottle and cap with soap and water to remove any medicine remnants, and then store them in a drawer until I need to collect samples for the vet. The cap is air-tight, so it won’t smell and will stay ‘fresh’ until you drop it off. The caps are also child-proof… to keep away from curious hands.  I write my dogs name, my name, the date of collection, and my phone number on it and affix it to the bottle with tape. This way the sample will not get mixed up with any others accidentally.)

So, what are they looking for in that lovely pile of poo you brought them? I’ll break down some of the things the vet will be looking for:

Giardia

  • What is it? Giardia is a common, microscopic (intestinal) parasite that commonly affects humans, dogs, and cats.
  • Signs your pet may have it: Often times in cats and dogs you will see signs such as distended stomachs (bloating) and/or watery diarrhea that may have some drops of blood in it or even a jelly-mucus type of film on it. Sometimes you may see some vomiting or loss of appetite, and other times they may show no symptoms at all! This is why a regular fecal exam is very important.
  • Can Your Child Catch it? The risk of your family members contracting Giardia is actually pretty small, as the strain that animals get is typically different than the strain that humans get. However, even though the risks are small, there are still risks. You can get this intestinal parasite by coming into direct contact with the animal’s feces. If your dog eliminates on the grass outside, in the same area your child plays, they can be at risk.
  • How Dangerous Is This For your Child: The risks are small. Since many of the signs do not seem to show up for weeks after the initial contact of infected poop, (if they show any signs at all) and seem to mostly resemble those of a stomach virus, most people seem to chalk up the symptoms to ‘something they ate that did not agree with them.
  • How Can I Avoid This? Your best defense is prevention. I would highly suggest choosing a specific area and teaching your pet to only eliminate there (such as a dog run or gated area). This makes your daily clean-up chore much easier, and keeps your kids and their friends safer. Make sure you clean up after them pretty regularly, and wear gloves when gardening and cleaning up. Also, dump out any buckets and pails that have filled with water after rain. This becomes a breeding ground, especially over the summer when your dog is running around outside and becomes hot and thirsty.

To read more in-depth information on this, you can go to: https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/giardia/

Coccidia (Coccidiosis)

  • What is it: It is also an intestinal parasite. The most common causes for these parasites are being in close proximity to other infected animals and also severe stress seems to bring it to the surface and cause problems. It is relatively common in dogs…. Especially young puppies.
  • Signs Your Pet May Have This: Its early warning signs are usually watery or mucousy stools, lack of appetite, lethargy, foul-smelling gas, and even some bloody stool.. It is relatively easy to treat with medication, and a full recovery is usually easy to obtain as long as it is not left untreated.
  • Can Your Child Catch It: According to PetCareRx…. ‘Most coccidia are host-specific. In other words coccidia that can live in dogs cannot usually live anywhere else.’  
  • How Dangerous Is This To My Child: As of now there are no reported cases of Coccidia jumping from one species to another, so your children should be safe.
  • How Can I Avoid This: By regular fecal exams at the vet to make sure your dog is and stays negative, and also by making sure you clean up their poops regularly, preferably immediately. And by regular hand-washing and keeping your pet away from other dogs that may possibly be infected.

INTERNAL PARASITES SUCH AS WORMS: I will focus first on the ones that CAN be transferred to people, making them (in my opinion) the most dangerous ones for your family, and then talk about a few other ones.

Whipworms

  • What Is It: They are parasites that live in the intestines. The eggs are often found in the ground, soil, and even fertilizer if the feces from an infected animal were used. They are so named due to their shape…. Which often resembles a whip.
  • Signs Your Dog Might Have It: Loss of appetite, foul smelling poop, lethargy and anemia (pale gums and a general weakness)
  • Can Your Child Catch It: . This parasite CAN cross between humans and animals.
  • How Dangerous Is This To My Child: Very. Usually a prescribed treatment of medication for 1 – 3 days is sufficient to clear out this problem, but according to the CDC:  People with heavy infections can experience frequent, painful passage of stool that contains a mixture of mucus, water, and blood. The diarrhea typically has an acrid smell. In children, heavy infection may be associated with growth retardation and impaired cognitive development.
  • How Can I Avoid This: Your best defense to avoid this is frequent hand-washing, wearing gloves while gardening, especially if you use fertilizer, and thoroughly washing all fruits and vegetables before consumption. Also, make sure your dog’s elimination area is kept separate from your children’s play area. But also, by using a monthly de-wormer that you can get from your vet, such as Interceptor.

You can read about this in more detail here:  https://www.thespruce.com/whipworms-in-dogs-and-cats

Roundworms

  • What Is It: According to Lianne McLeod, DVM, Roundworms are intestinal parasites that are common in dogs. There are two species of roundworms that infect dogs, one of which can cause health problems in humans, too. Roundworms are round, up to seven inches long, and white to pale brown in color (they look a little like spaghetti noodles). They hang out in the intestines, soaking up nutrients from the dog’s diet. They complete their life cycle in an animal’s intestines, but they can also move throughout a pet’s body, infecting the throat and lungs
  • Signs Your Dog Might Have It: Failure to gain weight, you may see live and/or dead worms in their feces. They may vomit up worms as well. Especially in puppies, they have a pot-bellied appearance (very bloated belly) They often have diarrhea, or be blocked and unable to poop, and often have a very dull looking coat.
  • Can Your Child Catch This: The larvae of roundworms can infect people, as well as dogs. This happens when eggs are ingested, and it is most common in children who may not practice the best hygiene, and may pick up eggs on their hands when playing in the yard, for example.
  • How Dangerous Is This To My Child: Again, according to the same site listed above, ‘The larvae don’t develop into adult roundworms in people, but the larvae migrating through the tissues can cause inflammation, especially in young children. Most cases are not serious, but in serious cases, organ damage is possible as result of the migrating larvae (e.g., liver, lung, brain), and sometimes the larvae can reach the eyes, leading to visual disturbances and possibly blindness.’
  • How Can I Avoid This: Again, the best defense is practicing good hygiene…. Hand washing, keeping the kid’s play area separate from the waste area, using gloves when gardening, thoroughly washing fruits and vegetables if you use manure as fertilizer. But also, by using a monthly dewormer that you can get from your vet, such as HeartGuard Plus, or Interceptor.

Hookworms

  • What Are They: Hookworms are small thin worms usually about an inch long. They also tend to live in soil and are transmitted through feces. However, unlike the roundworm, these guys actually attach themselves to the lining of the intestines according to Lianne McLeod, DVM and they feed on the blood and tissues of pups. They can detach themselves from one spot, and move on to another, but leave sores and ulcers behind. Here is the really scary part…. They can also enter through the skin, usually through the paws.
  • Signs Your Dog Might Have Them: According to petwave.com  They can get diarrhea or constipation, dark, tarry types of stools, loss of appetite, causing loss of weight, poor coat condition, a dry hacking cough, Sores on the paws, especially between the toes (red; infected; presence of pus; caused by the parasites directly penetrating the skin) and sudden unexpected death.
  • Can Your Child Catch This: The intestinal form of this disease can be contracted the same way as the others…. Through contaminated animal feces and poor hygiene. There is a strain of this disease that used to be widespread in poor areas of the United States, but on further research I found this strain can only be contracted by direct contact with human feces on the ground (i.e.walking barefoot through a contaminated area).
  • How Dangerous Is This To Your Child: Hookworm infections are generally treated for 1-3 days with medication prescribed by your health care provider. The drugs are effective and appear to have few side effects. Iron supplements may be prescribed if you have anemia.
  • How Can I Avoid This: By using the monthly preventive you can purchase from your vet, not allowing your child to walk barefoot in any area where there could even possibly be waste, and also following all of the guidelines above regarding good hygiene and washing all fruits and vegetables thoroughly.

Important Note: While I mentioned a few different types of de-wormers and preventative medicines that you can get from your vet’s office, it is important to be aware that not every medicine is right for every dog in every situation.  Your vet will consider your dog’s age, breed, the area of the country you reside in (i.e. what parasites are local), etc. in choosing the right medication to prescribe.  

Although the following will not transfer between animal and human,  I still felt they were worth mentioning, with a quick little note about each one of them, because while they will not hurt your human child, they can still hurt your furry one.

Parasitic worms that do NOT transfer to humans are:

Heartworm

Heartworm can only be transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. There’s no other way dogs get heartworms. And there’s no way to tell if a mosquito is infected. That’s why prevention is so important. It can only be passed on by mosquitoes. It’s a specific parasite that only affects dogs and cats and ferrets and other mammals. In rare cases, heartworms have infected people, but it does not complete its life cycle.

You can read more about heartworms here: http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/guide/heartworms

Tapeworm

Tapeworm infection by a dog is extremely rare, according to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. In order for a human to be infected with a tapeworm from a dog, the person must ingest a flea from the infected dog that contains the larvae of the tapeworm.

There are a few other types of worms and parasites out there, so I suggest doing your research. There is so much information available online today from reputable sources such as the CDC, PetWebMD, and a few other sites. I included many links for you to reference…. Remember: forewarned is forearmed!!

I will end this the same way I ended the last article…. By reminding you that most of this is PREVENTABLE and/or treatable!! Following a monthly regimen of the oral (usually chewable) Heartworm tablets as your vet prescribes, and getting routine veterinary visits and fecal exams is just as important as taking your child to the pediatrician, because many of these diseases cannot be detected without a microscope.

As I mentioned in my last article, I began researching some of this stuff in order to answer some questions for my clients, but I have learned so much myself, I thought it was important to share this information with all of you, who have children that could be directly affected as well! So I hope you got some valuable information, and I am also going to end this by again adding the link to the A-Z list of diseases that can cross between animals and humans.

We all strive to make our homes a happy one…. let’s do all we can to make our homes a safe and healthy one too!!!

Can Dining Out Be Fear-Free With A Food Allergic Family?

Too often, we allow our fear of unknown ingredients to limit out lives with food allergies. Understandably, this could literally be life or death in some cases. But at what point is it time to decide to use that fear to empower us? How can we overcome the endless what-ifs and begin to piece together a safety net for our dining needs? Face it- food is a huge part of everyone’s life and it’s something we simply cannot escape.

Join Them Remember that saying If you can’t beat them, join them? This can also be true in regards to setting up your dining strategies, even with food allergies. Today’s support and technology allows for a huge assortment of allergen and ingredient research even before you step foot inside of any type of eatery. There are multiple places to go and safe lists to see so why not utilize what’s out there?

  • Pick a Safety Zone– before you even leave your home, start your research. Never go out to a new restaurant on a whim, not even if someone else assures you that they are pretty sure it’s safe. You need to be your own food detective and advocate to remain as far from your allergens as possible.
  • I’ve said it before and I will say it until the day I cannot speak anymore- Always, Always Have All of Your Necessary Allergy Medications With You At All Times. You know it takes seconds for a reaction to happen so being prepared is always the smartest and most proactive way to stay one step ahead of a reaction.
  • Try a Test Run– always lean towards less is more. Obviously, the less you ingest of a possible allergic food the less the reaction would be compared to devouring an entire meal full of allergens. Start with a sample and work your way up. Don’t want to waste money? Enlist a friend who doesn’t have any food allergies to share your meal item.
  • Don’t Go Alone– when trying new foods, it’s better to be with someone else in case of an emergency. Often people who have an allergic reaction that comes on rapidly are not able to communicate their needs or administer their epinephrine as needed. The buddy system is also a safety system (plus eating alone is never as much fun as eating with friends).

Options At Your Fingertips Are you not quite sure how to explain your allergy needs to your restaurant staff? Why not order custom dietary allergen cards. This is a discreet and easy way to ensure all of your allergens are communicated to your wait staff in more than eighteen different languages. Clear and concise communication is key to making sure everyone is on the same page and ready to work together for utmost safety with your meals.

Just about every person has access to some type of portable information (phones, laptops, etc.) allowing us to gain the information that we need anywhere, anytime.  Use your technology to see what other people are saying about their dining experiences. Food apps, such as DineSafeApp have become one of the best ways for both restaurants and their patrons together.  It’s no wonder that with the current estimate of 1 in every 3 people being diagnosed with a food allergy warrants up-to-date and precise ingredient and menu information.

Make it Personal Being your own advocate also means being your own concierge. Do not wait until you arrive to talk about your specific dining needs- make an appointment. Chefs are almost always more than happy to set up an appointment to speak with you before you even try their meals. This also gives you the added benefit of reading the body language of the person that will potentially be feeding you. Are they hesitating? Do they answer your questions without really giving you a complete and educated answer about food safety? Do they seem as if they may not have as much food allergy knowledge as you were hoping? All of these are signals for you to pick up on prior to your meal and before your food even touches your lips. If you have any doubts, you may consider seeking out a different location that will feel as if the chef knows what you need them to know. It’s your life- you are allowed to be picky.

Listen To Your Heart, Not Your Stomach The fact is, we all want to desperately feel normal. We all want to be able to get into the car and eat somewhere that everyone else eats without thinking twice about it. We all just want to have that meal that we see on television or on the menu. What you are feeling is completely normal but it may not be safe. Simply put, is the price of that meal truly worth the price of your life?

Kids Watch & Copy Everything! 50 Ways to Be a Great Example

Of course we want our children to become good, responsible, respectful and successful human beings! But in our quest to “do it all” we may forget that some of the most powerful ways to help our children aren’t in the things we buy but in the simple things we say. Example is everything. In fact, the Greek philosopher, Aristotle, years ago said that the best way to teach character is by modeling good example. (I swear kids come with video recorders planted inside their heads and we know it when they play us back at the most inopportune moments–usually when the relatives arrive).

The bottom line is the kids are watching us and they are copying us–the good, the bad, and the very ugly. Just in case you need any proof here are a few things our children pick up from watching the example we set:

Behavior. Prejudice. Stress management. How we cope with defeat. Organizational style.  Driving safety.  Drinking styles.  Eating habits. Friendship making.  Goal-setting.  Values.  Sleeping habits.  Television viewing.  Courtesy. Discourtesy. Punctuality.  Religion.  Love of reading.  Lifestyle choices.  Interests. Responsibility. Digital citizenship. If we bounce back.  Self-talk.  Pessimism. Optimism.  Money Management.  Procrastination.  Frugality.  Patriotism. Biases. Friendship keeping. Valuing education.  Conflict resolution.  …And the list goes on and on!

Here are just 50 things to say to boost our own example to our kids so we become the model we hope they copy. Our children need role models. Let them look to us!

1.   “Thank you! I really appreciate that!” (Courtesy)

2.   “Excuse me, I need to walk away and get myself back in control.” (Stress and anger management)

3.   “I’m going to call Grandma and see how she’s doing. She looked lonely.” (Empathy, compassion)

4.   “Mrs. Jones is sad. I’m baking her some cookies. Want to help?” (Charity)

5.   “I don’t want to watch this anymore. I don’t like how they are portraying…(women, men, kids, a race, a culture, a religion…). (Values and stereotyping)

6.   “Excuse me. I didn’t mean to interrupt you.” (Admitting mistakes. Manners)

7.   “That’s my two cents. I’d love to hear yours.” (Communication style)

8.   “I lost my temper there. I’m going to work on counting to 10 when I get so stressed.” (Anger management)

9.   “I blew it. Next time I’ll….” (Handling mistakes)

10.  “I’m going to set a goal for myself this year. I’m working on….” (Goal-setting)

11.  “I’m so upset with my friend-remind me not to send her an email until I cool off.” (Online behavior)

12.  “Please repeat that. I don’t understand.” (Conflict and communication style).

13.  “I’m so stressed lately…I’m going to (start walking, eat healthier, write in a journal, listen to soothing music, or whatever) to help me relax.” (Stress management, coping)

14.  “I want to listen. Let me turn off my cell phone.” (Digital citizenship)

1f61f07c5f716c8e91eae5a3d85c5e2bb5.  “I have so many things to do today. I’m going to make a list so I don’t forget anything.” (Organization)

16.  “That woman looks like she’s going to drop those packages. Let’s ask if she needs help.” (Kindness)

17.  “Apologies…that was my fault. Hope you forgive me.” (Forgiveness)

18.  “I’m driving and need to keep my eyes on the road. Please turn off my phone for me.” (Driving safety)

19.  “I love watching the Oscars, but let’s not focus on their dress designers but their talent. How do you think Sandra Bullock prepared for her role in space.” (Valuing quality over materialism)

20.  “She’s my friend and doesn’t want me to tell anyone. I’m honoring her request.” (Friendship. Loyalty)

21. “I’m getting upset and need to take a time out. Let’s talk in a few minutes.” (Anger management)

22. “Great question-I don’t that answer. But I’ll try to find it for you.” (Admitting shortcomings)

23. “They do look different than us, but they have the same feelings. Let’s think about how we’re the same.” (Prejudice)

24. “Didn’t she just move here? Let’s go introduce ourselves and ask her to sit with us.” (Courtesy. Kindness)

25. “If it’s not respectful I’m not sending it.” (Digital citizenship)

26. “But is that true for all elderly people? Aunt Harriet remembers everything and she’s 87. Let’s think of more examples.” (Stopping prejudice and bias)

27. “Every month I’m going to set a new goal. You’re going to help remind me to stick to it!” (Goal-setting)

28. “We hear so much about the “bad” stuff–let’s look through the paper and find the good things people are doing for each other. We could start ‘Good News’ reports.” (Optimism, attitude)

29. “I need to take care of myself and eat healthier.” (Self-care)

30. “I’m going to walk around the block. Want to come? It always helps me relax.” (Self-care)

31. “I taped ‘No’ on a card on the phone to remind me to not to take on so much. I’m prioritizing my family!” (Priorities)

32. “I’ve got to catch my words-I’m becoming too negative.” (Attitude. Optimism)

33. “Let’s set ‘unplugged times’ for our family. What about from 6 to 8 pm?” (Prioritizing family).

34. “I do like it, but I’m going to wait until it’s on sale.” (Frugality, delaying gratification).

Children-may-close-their-ears-to-advice-but-they-keep-their-eyes-open-to-an-example35. “I always try to save half of my paycheck.” (Money management)

36. “Those children lost everything in that fire. Let’s go through our closets and find gently used clothes and toys to bring them.” (Charity)

37. “I’d love to eat that now, but I’m going to wait until after dinner.” (Self-control)

38. “I know it sounds fun, but I need to finish my job. My motto is, “Work first, then play.” (Responsibility)

39. “Thanks, but no thanks. I’m driving so I can’t drink.” (Drinking behavior)

40. “My favorite thing to do is read! Let’s go to the library sale and find books to bring on our vacation.” (Instilling a love of reading).

41. “Let’s stay open-minded and give Daniel a turn. We didn’t hear his side.” (Non-judgmental)

42. “That’s not fair. We agreed on the rules so let stick to them.” (Fairness).

43. “I know we wanted to win, but we didn’t. They were better than us, so let’s go congratulate them.” (Sportsmanship)

44. “I need to go write a thank you to Peter before I forget. He put a lot of thought into that present and I want to make sure he knows how much I appreciate it.” (Gratitude)

45. “Thanks, but you don’t need to give me any money. I did it because I wanted to help.” (Charitableness)

46. “I’m going to stop talking about dress sizes and jumping on the scale, and start thinking about eating healthier instead.” (Self-image)

47. “I’ve got to get to the polls before they close. Voting is something I take very seriously.” (Citizenship)

48. “Let’s stop and think about how she feels. She looks sad-let’s get in her shoes for a minute.” (Empathy)

49. “I’m not just going to stand by when someone could get hurt. I’m asking if he wants help.” (Responsibility. No by standing!”)

50. “Everyone can make a difference. Let’s think of something we can do.” (Personal responsibility. Empowerment)

What can you say to a child today to be the example he or she can use for tomorrow? Beware, the children are copying!

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UnSelfie 140x210Teens today are 40 percent less empathetic than they were thirty years ago. Why is a lack of empathy—along with the self-absorption epidemic Dr. Michele Borba calls the Selfie Syndrome—so dangerous? First, it hurts kids’ academic performance and leads to bullying behaviors. Also, it correlates with more cheating and less resilience. And once children grow up, it hampers their ability to collaborate, innovate and problem-solve—all must-have skills for the global economy. The good news? Empathy is a trait that can be taught and nurtured.  UnSelfie is a blueprint for parents and educators who want activate our children’s hearts and shift their focus from I, me, and mine… to we, us, and ours.  It’s time to include “empathy” in our parenting and teaching!  UnSelfie is AVAILABLE NOW at amazon.com.

Is Your Child a Bullying Victim? Read this Mother’s Story

When Maria’s daughter moved to secondary school (*middle school), she was bullied by a group of girls who had been her best friends at primary school (*elementary school).

Halfway through the school year, Maria** became aware that her daughter Sam** wasn’t being invited to her friends’ houses anymore.

mother's-bullying-story“She doesn’t always tell me what’s going on at school, but I noticed that she was biting her fingernails a lot and sleeping badly. She seemed quite upset.

“I talked to her about her friends and why they weren’t meeting up. Eventually, she told me that they didn’t get on anymore. I found out that her old friends were excluding her.

“For example, when she bumped into them in the street, one of the girls said directly to her, ‘This is the one we’re not talking to anymore’.

“They were also really nasty in the playground. They left her standing on her own. She was still trying to be friends with them but they just ignored her. She was very upset.

Bullying Incident

“Then I witnessed an incident one Saturday afternoon.

“Two of her old friends phoned her. They asked her if she’d started her periods. She said it was none of their business, but they kept her on the phone. She wasn’t strong enough to end the conversation.

“They were laughing and shouting, ‘We want to know, we want to know’. I was standing next to her, and felt disgusted. I felt really sorry for Sam. Afterwards, I thought of calling one of the girls’ mums, but I decided not to because I thought it might make things worse.

“I was very upset because I used to spend a lot of time with these girls, but now they didn’t think my daughter was good enough for them.

“I was worried about Sam because I thought it must be horrible to believe you’ve got really good friends and then they suddenly turn against you.

How Sam got Help with Bullying

“I told Sam that she should talk to Nicole, a learning mentor at her school. I knew that Sam liked Nicole, whose role was to sort out this kind of issue.

“Soon after, Nicole contacted me. Both she and Sam’s form teacher had noticed that Sam was being bullied.

“I found out that she wasn’t only being bullied by this group. Sam is half-Polish, and another girl was calling her a ‘Polish sket’ in class.

“The school intervened quickly. They cracked down on the racist comments and the use of the insult ‘sket’. After that, the problem with that particular girl was completely resolved.

“Nicole, the learning mentor, also set up a friendship group to understand the dynamic in this circle of girls who’d all moved up from primary school together. She asked the bullies and a few other pupils to talk together about friendship, boyfriends, fashion, puberty and growing up. A lot was revealed.

“It seems that Sam’s primary school (*elementary school) friends got to know other girls at secondary school (*middle school) and became more interested in fashion, make-up and boyfriends. Because Sam was more childlike, they didn’t want her in their group anymore. She wasn’t cool enough.

“Sam was different. I think that’s often what bullying is based on. She has her own style and doesn’t follow everyone else.

“Nicole had several chats with Sam, and helped to strengthen Sam’s self-esteem. When she was picked on, Sam used to get quite upset and would try to defend herself, but now she’s able to ignore it.

“When I spoke to Sam about the meetings with Nicole, I could see that things were improving. At home, I explained to her that friendships change, and primary school (*elementary school) friends don’t necessarily stay friends for life. I didn’t want to suggest that Sam was the victim because that can make you feel weaker.

“Sam has finally found a new set of friends and is really happy with them. She’s become more confident, and she no longer tries to be friends with girls who don’t want to be friends with her.”

**The names in this article have been changed.

Bullying: Information and Support for Parents

To find out more about how you can help your child if they’ve been bullied, read Bullying: advice for parents.

 Editor’s Note: *clarification provided for our US readers.

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