For those of us that celebrate Christmas, we know that it is one of a child’s favorite days of the year. They look forward to Santa, the presents and if they’re mature enough to know…family time.
But what do you do when you’re a single parent and still trying to give them the best during the holiday season. It’s simple… you give them YOUR best.
Although I am not as financially stable as I would like to be, I have come to realize that I cannot buy my 18-month-old’s happiness with money. But I can give her what is in my reach, and what I know she will get the most use out of.
This year, I decided to limit her Christmas presents to only two, a tricycle and a play kitchen. Why? Because they are things that she can get a lot of use of, and don’t come with a million little pieces that are just going to end up in the trashcan.
One good tip is to get your child something that he or she can enjoy not only inside, but in the outdoors as well. Arizona weather is amazing, and nothing makes a child happier than being active and around nature.While an Xbox or tablet might be entertaining, it only enables children to sit around inside and not get the required 60 minutes of physical activity.
Another guideline is to pay close attention to the toys’ age recommendations. While a lot of us parents choose to look past those safety standards, they can make a huge difference in keeping your child from harm.
Remember, you don’t have to spoil your kids in order to make them happy. If you educate them while they are young, they will learn the value of money, and the meaning of Christmas.
If someone asked you to name the city with the world’s largest gingerbread village, chances are you wouldn’t guess a city in Arizona. But Prescott, Arizona is exactly where that village resides! Just one of the many reasons to head up to “Arizona’s Christmas City,” you and your grandchildren will be dazzled by the 100+ gingerbread creations that make up this one-of-a-kind village.
Organizations in the community, as well as families and individuals, create unique entries. These entries will be judged, then viewed by as many as 50,000 visitors to this display at the Prescott Resort and Conference Center. This year, there is a tribute to the 19 firefighters lost from this community. The village, which is free of charge to view, will be available until Jan. 1, and your little ones will be wide-eyed at this charming snow-covered village, complete with trains running through it!
There are so many events going on in Prescott during the next few weeks that I am resorting to a list to fit most of them in.
Dec. 1-21: Santa Clause Express at the Verde Canyon Railroad in nearby Clarkdale on the weekends
Dec. 4-8: Walk through Bethlehem
Dec. 7: Breakfast with Santa from 8-10 a.m., 31st annual Christmas Parade from 1-3 p.m. and Courthouse Lighting at 6 p.m.
Dec. 8: Santa with the Animals from 1-3 p.m. at Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary – Santa will bring presents for the animals & will be available for photos
Dec. 13: Acker Musical Showcase from 5:30-8:30 p.m. at downtown locations – see over 100 musicians performing everything from steel drum bands to classical music (a ‘must see’ according to one of the Prescott locals)
Dec. 14: Wildnights at Night from 6-9 p.m. at Heritage Park Zoological Sanctuary (every Friday & Saturday night in December).
Since there are more than enough activities to keep you in Prescott for several hours, please support the many wonderful eating and drinking establishments while there, and check the websites listed below for a complete calendar of events.
In addition to the above festive activities, you may even be able to see some white stuff on the ground, which is such a treat at this time of year. Regardless of whether there is snow, be sure to bundle up your little ones so that you can stay longer and take in all that Prescott has to offer in terms of holiday sparkle.
The amazing lights of Courthouse Square is reason enough to make the trip north, but there is so much more to savor. A visit to our own ‘Christmas City’ will leave you all with that warm, cozy feeling of small town Christmases of long ago…
To get there:
Drive north on I-17 to the 69 turnoff (be sure to keep a lookout for the decorated Mystery Christmas Tree in the median near Sunset Point at milepost 254, follow signs to downtown Prescott.
For over 3 decades this Mystery Christmas Tree has mysteriously been decorated at night on Thanksgiving Weekend (Psst…We saw some of those decorators at work, but we wouldn’t DARE post the photos!)
You will pass the Prescott Resort and Conference Center on the left as you are entering Prescott, 1500 Highway 69, 928.776.1666. Continue on to Courthouse Square.
This time of year brings memories of childhood days with a nip in the air, and porches adorned with pumpkins and cornstalks; that is, it does for those of us who grew up in the Midwest, or just about any rural American town. If you think that you can’t have a similar fall experience right here in Arizona then you haven’t been to Tolmachoff Farms in Glendale!
Open to the public daily, you will find a little something for everyone. I discovered this little gem several years ago, taking the grandkids from ages 2 and up. Their favorite activities were grinding the corn to feed the chickens and picking out pumpkins to take home.
Adding to the charm, Tolmachoff Farms is a family-run operation that has been in existence in one form or another since the 1970’s. Just like all educational facilities, they are constantly improving the ‘farm experience’ and adding new, fun activities. Right now they are celebrating Pumpkin Days and Corn Maze with a 6 acre corn maze and even a mini corn maze for the youngest visitors. To keep people coming back, the theme is changed each year, and the newly added 20 x 20 spider web for climbing is a great example of how the Tolmachoffs keep enhancing the farm. They host school field trips that are often the first exposure to a real working farm; these ‘Classrooms-in-the-corn’ take the students out into the fields and let them select and take home some of the u-pick veggies.
Certain activities are only available on the weekends; for example the bounce house and train rides (additional $2. per ride for the train). General admission includes the current corn mazes, petting zoo, play areas, and jumping pillow, feeding the chickens, and shopping in the produce stand. The produce stand will reopen from November 4- Dec 24th with winter veggies- including carrots, turnips, beets, radishes, onions, greens, Swiss chard, and honey. They also sell several preserved goodies such as salsas and pickled items. I have purchased some of these & I highly recommend them! Coming soon are the Christmas tree sales (Nov 30-Dec 24, 9am to 9pm daily) and Pictures with Santa on Dec 14th and 21st from noon – 4pm, which is all part of ‘Christmas at the Farm’.
Remember that there is always something fun going on at Tolmachoff Farms, so be sure to check their website for their calendar of events and hours. Trust me, your little ones will not want to leave, so slather them with sunblock and allow at least 2 hours for your visit.Tolmachoff Farms 5726 N 75th Ave, Glendale, AZ 85303 Facebook.com/Tolmachoff.Farms www.tolmachoff-farms.com phone 623 999 3276
Admission: $9.00 ages 2 and up
While Essure has been in the market for over a decade, it has not gotten as much attention as it is now, but not necessarily in a good way.
Essure is a form of permanent birth control. The alternative to tubal ligation better known as “getting your tubes tied.” The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved Essure System on November 4, 2002. It is offered all across the country to women that feel like their family is complete and do not wish on getting pregnant again. It only takes a ten-minute procedure, after that are required to wait in the office for 45-minutes and then you are allowed to go home. The Essure implants are inserted in the fallopian tubes, which blocks the pathways and prevents pregnancy. The procedure is not reversible, so women have to be sure of their decision prior to getting the procedure done.
While the procedure seems promising, there has been a lot of recent controversy. Many women have come forward stating that they regret having the procedure done. Several Facebook pages have been created with now thousands of likes where other women can get information on how severely the procedure has had an affect on their everyday life. Women are claiming to be victims, and are sharing their stories with women all across the United States to try and get the word out and, and possibly even get Essure off the market.
Social media is playing a huge role on spreading the word about the side effects of Essure. From Facebook pages, to news segments, and now even online petitions. Change.org is the largest petition site in the world. “When people start petitions on the site they are guided to share their petition via their social media networks and email, and that is the primary way they’re able to garner signatures,“ said Aften Lay, the communications manager at Change.org.
The Facebook site leads women to change.org where they can easily sign a petition to take Essure off the market. Currently the petition to get Essure off the market is at 851 supporters. With 149 more signatures needed to attempt to stop Essure Systems from being offered anymore. The petition isn’t only to try to get Essure off the market, but to try to get reimbursements for the women affected.
After being criticized in the media lately, Bayer had a lot to say about their product and what they felt was their side to the story. “At Bayer, we care about patients and take the safety of our products very seriously. We are saddened to hear of any serious health condition affecting a patient using one of our products, regardless of the cause.” Stated Mary Funk, an associate director of communications at Bayer.
As with any medical procedure, women should be very cautious of its side effects. “No form of birth control is without risk or should be considered appropriate for every woman. It is important that women discuss the risks and benefits of any birth control option with their physicians,” said Mary Funk.
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) also had some things to say regarding Essure. “No form of birth control is 100 percent effective and scientific evidence reviewed by the FDA shows that Essure is a highly effective means of sterilization when used according to instructions.” Said Morgan Liscinsky, an FDA press officer. She continued by adding, “We will continue to monitor the safety of this product to make certain its benefits of providing women with a non-surgical sterilization choice continue to outweigh the risks of the device.” No form of birth control is without risk or should be considered appropriate for every woman.
Be cautious, be safe, be smart. Remember to read the label before taking such a big step into your future.
Are you gasping for breath under the avalanche of to dos just thinking of the upcoming holidays?
The sweet remembrances of honored traditions can drag you into the pit of guilt robbing you of the promised “seasonal joy” with gifts to buy, wrap, and ship; cards to create, address, and mail; cookies to ice, package, and share; food to purchase, prepare and serve…..trees to decorate, parties to orchestrate, and family gatherings to plan, throwing yet another layer of uneasiness in the mix for most of us. Oh, the list of should dos driving the pangs of guilt deeper during this festive season, could go on endlessly.
Here are four easy “P” verbs to avoid in your holiday survival kit (I’m not fond of the emphasis on the negative, but it makes them easier to remember!)
Don’t Procrastinate: We all know what lies in “waiting” for us. Get going as soon as possible. Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do for yourself today. Don’t be a Scarlett. Scarlett O’Hara rationalized in Gone With the Wind, who didn’t want to face the unpleasantness of the situation proclaiming she would “deal with it tomorrow.” Scarlet echoed many of our thoughts in this overly-crammed season: “I’ll think about that tomorrow,” at Tara. “And I’ll think of some way to get him back. After all, tomorrow is another day.” Tomorrow is another day, but the tasks remain. Take the pressure off yourself and just get started. Don’t be a Scarlet.
Don’t Perfect: From childhood we drag the standard of excellence with us. How many times have we heard that if you can’t do something right, then don’t do it all? Our culture reinforces the striving for perfection. Magazine articles refer to the “perfect man,” the “ideal family” or instill a picture the “perfect Montana Christmas” complete with the freshly cut tree. We need to change our mindset. We are not perfect, nor will our holidays be without snags. Accept the imperfection, put up the artificially lit tree and call it good as you relax protecting your own peace of mind and happiness.
Don’t Perform: This season is laden with traditions and social responsibilities. Some of these must dos are meaningful and valued, but some are merely long accepted rituals heavy with the burden of expectations. Here’s where your performance throws the pains of guilt going through meaningless time honored to dos. We must learn to weed out of our schedules, that which no longer serves us… thus removing our performances. Learn to disappoint people knowing that it is OK in order to protect your own happiness.
Don’t Please: Guilt sponges like me absorb the entire responsibility of trying to fulfill everyone’s wish list. We are the first to raise our hands and volunteer to bring, coordinate or host. Trying to please others at your own expense drains your joy and lets the guilt settle in your weary soul. Don’t live to please others. Keep your hand in your pocket. Learn how to say “no”. After all: No is a complete sentence!
These upcoming holidays don’t have to be stress-filled days. They are meant to be enjoyed with family and friends. Remembering… or better forgetting all the “Ps”, (Procrastinate, Perfect, Perform and Please) choose your words carefully when talking to yourself and others. Drop the word “should” and replace it with “could” throwing a little less guilt on the festivities. By changing one little letter you can allow yourself more room for personal choice, removing the guilty feeling that accompanies those shoulds. Remember if you don’t control your holiday season… someone else will.
Here’s to your guilt-free holidays.
How do we balance extracurricular activities for our child so we are not stressed out?
Before our children are born, parents are already worried or thinking about childcare, preschool, or even the best public/private schools to enroll their children in. Some parents even consider moving to a different location in order to give their child the best education.
We always want to be one step ahead when it comes to parenting our children. We feel this pressure or competition to have our children speak Mandarin, Spanish, play a musical instrument, participate in a sport or be the president of their class. We do not always realize that we might be in competition with our own colleagues, other parents, and family members with children as well.
When is enough really enough?
We have stressed out parents and over-stimulated and exhausted our children. We all need down time to relax and regroup without being rushed all the time.
Here are some ideas and solutions to help you deal with this issue:
-Remember, children develop many interests throughout preschool to high school and they may want to explore new things all the time.
-Ask your child which extracurricular activity/sport would be their number one choice and which would be their number two choice. Do not give them more than two choices.
-After you decide together and give them time to think about it, tell them you will get back to them about the activity. (The cost, amount of time devoted to the activity, and scheduling for both of you before registering.)
-Find out if this activity is flexible or has a specific time, place, and hour to attend. If you are a working parent, this may affect your work schedule or feelings of guilt if you are unable to attend or participate.
-It is critical to consider time management when setting up activities for your child, yourself, and your family. Avoid cramming too many activities into one day. Consider traffic, health, dinner hour, homework, and your own personal time/marriage/relationship.
-Limit the number of extracurricular activities per week. Maybe one is enough, or no more than two, depending on the number of children you have. The last thing you want your child to experience is “burnout.” If your child is complaining every time that they have to participate, then investigate why that might be happening. Ask about bullies, or stress in their life, or about the coach, or their peers attending the activity before you pull them out. You may want to suggest that they finish that term before they quit.
-Sleep, healthy eating and exercise should be a priority as well. Observe yourself and your child if you are always picking up fast food for dinner, how it affects your health, mood, weight, and energy level.
-It is important that your child develop strong relationships with their peers and family members. When we over schedule our children, this will not allow for developing healthy relationships and inspiring teamwork. Talk to your child about the importance of sportsmanship and being respectful of others when they win or lose. Think about role modeling situations where they observe your reactions and attitudes, such as take them with you while you participate in your own activity.
-It is also vital that you find out what type of coach, or mentor your child is being exposed to when selecting an activity/sport.
-Incorporate family time weekly to try to have dinners together and discussions instead of everyone eating separately (this creates a much closer family bond). Father-Son and mother-daughter, even sibling time, alone is also an important thing to include in the calendar. Ask each family member to not have any electronic devices at the table while having dinner. This includes the parent as well as the child to try and avoid answering emails, texts, tweeting, etc. BE PRESENT AND MINDFUL.
-Maintain a large calendar/schedule that is visible to everyone in the house. If they are small children, use pictures instead of words, or color code. In your calendar schedule both parent work and school related activities. This way your children will know when and where you are at all times to avoid any communication issues.
-In addition to a schedule of work and school activities, have a chore chart placed in another part of the kitchen to review as to what is expected each day in order to receive an allowance, or privileges. This method of organizing can hopefully eliminate any excuses. Everyone will know what is expected.
-Contact friends or neighbors as a back-up plan in case you need carpooling, doctor appointment, or general assistance.
-Don’t forget to give positive affirmations and praise daily when your child has accomplished their chores or goals. Be cautious not to be negative with your comments if they did not do what was on the calendar right away. Communicate in a positive manner what time they are planning on doing it, and thanking them and showing appreciation.
-Set up bank accounts early for your children (piggy bank) for helping with chores, completing homework, or participating in family situations. (This teaches the value of a dollar.) Once elementary children can add/subtract and understand the concept of money, give them an opportunity to save or use part of their money towards a toy, food, or an event.
-Teach gratitude daily. Notice when your children do things for the house or family when you do not ask them. Express your thanks by saying phrases such as, “I appreciate that you did the dishes tonight. Thank you so much.”
After realizing all that my mom has done for me and watching my childhood friends raise children, I think moms are amazing! Any being that can give up their body for 9 + months and then spend hours and sometimes days in labor (aka the most painful human experience) so that this new person whom they’ve never met can have a fresh shot at this thing called life, is pretty remarkable. But after the labor and birth, that’s when the fun begins, right? Every time I see my friends with newborn babies their eyes are saying, “Please help us! We haven’t been closed in six weeks,” but their mouths say, “I’m loving every minute of being a mom.” I just don’t know if I could do it, unless of course, as I stated above, my hoard of babies slept A LOT. I believe that sleep is a precious gift and the only time I want to be awaken from my REM is if someone has made delicious blueberry muffins and wants me to, “get em while they’re hot” or if Leonardo DiCaprio (circa 2000), decides he’s dated enough Victoria Secret models and is ready to get serious with a pale girl who has a mood disorder. It is then and only then, when it is suitable to wake me up.
From what I have witnessed, being a mom changes everything. Once a child enters your life, your world completely changes. You have to learn news things like “what’s a Boppy?” and “Holy sh*t daycare is expensive!” When my best friend Desiree became pregnant, she was ecstatic. I was too. Having been best friends with Desiree for 23 years, this was not only her chance to be a first time mom, but for me, it was my first chance to be an auntie (honorary, but it still counts). Her nine month pregnancy seemed to fly by…for me. Once Michael was born, I knew Desiree would be a good mom, but from what I’ve witnessed in the last year, I think she may be a superhero. Supermom to be exact! She’s able to leap tall baby gates in a single bound. She’s faster than a newly walking one-year-old headed straight for the stairs and is more powerful than a Volkswagen Jetta full of groceries. She’s able to breast feed and order a pizza while checking her work email. She’s SUPERMOM! Playdates have replaced happy hours and yoga pants are her Kryptonite.
I love seeing my best friend as a mom; however, never would I have guessed that she would be doing some of the “mom things” she does. Desiree has always been the pretty one in our best friendship. Growing up she was a girly girl. The one who didn’t like to sweat or get dirty. She always looked perfect. When we were 12 years old, we played on the Parkway Panthers softball team together. Desiree played because her friends played and I played for the W. I played as if there were scouts in the stands just waiting to sign the next great prepubescent girl to the Olympic slow pitch softball team (which only existed in my head). I recently came across a picture of the two of us from that time that sums us up perfectly. We had just played in an all day softball tournament, I was a sweaty beast. My face was flushed red and covered in sweat. My hair appeared soaking wet and most of it stuck to my face. I have dirt on my cheek, but I’m smiling with a mouth full of metal.
[On a side note, kids wear your retainers because it's no fun Googling the cost of adult braces at 33 years old because you decided to try and eat a Snickers candy bar while wearing your retainer (only a few weeks after getting your braces off) and it cracked in half. Then instead of going back to the orthodontist to get a new retainer, you just threw it away. Then every time your mom asked, "Where's your retainer?" You'd put a flattened a paperclip over your front teeth and reply, "In my mouth."]
So next to me in this picture sat Desiree. She appeared as though she had been sitting in an air conditioned trailer on a Hollywood movie set for the entire day. Her hair was perfect as her baseball cap sat just above her teased bangs as not to destroy the mountain that Aqua Net built. Her skin was clear and dry. Not even a glisten of sweat as she smiled with lips glossed and a twinkle in her eye. You would have never known that she spent most of the day playing second base. Well, sort of. She caught the balls she felt like catching and occasionally ran to cover her base when the mood felt right. If she got dirt on her pants, she’d quickly brush it off and never, ever would she consider sliding for fear that it would ruin her pristine uniform. All of these reasons are why I was astounded during a walk with her and her 1-year-old son, Michael.
That morning before I met up with Desiree and Michael, I was thinking a lot about mommy-hood. Since the first time I saw Michael, my heart melted. I thought to myself for the first time, “I want one!” I smiled as I walked towards her car and saw his bright four-toothed grin. Then a wave of baby fever swept over me. As we walked around Lake Phalen. A lake we grew up near and spent our high school afternoons driving around it with our car windows open and our music loud. But this walk was different. We were real adults now. Desiree was a mom now and I was the best friend of an actual mom. It all felt surreal yet natural.
Midway through our walk, Michael became fussy so we pulled over on the walking path and stopped. Like a ninja, Desiree pulled her weapons of mass crying destruction from different areas of the stroller she pushed him around in. Blankets, sippy cups, water, bananas, diapers, wet-wipes, toys, books, dry cereal and mandarin oranges. She sat Michael on a blanket surrounded by all of these goodies and we watched as he made his way through deciding which he would choose. Desiree pealed a mandarin orange and handed him a small piece. Having a slight cold at the time, snot ran down his face and into his mouth as he sucked all of the juice from the orange slice. Then he spit it into Desiree’s open hand. Without even a second thought, she then popped the remaining soggy, snotted-on orange slice into her mouth and swallowed it. I couldn’t believe what I had just witnessed. “You know you could have just thrown that away or fed it to the ducks. You didn’t have to eat it after he sucked the life out of it” I said to her as she handed Michael another piece of orange. “Oh it’s fine. His germs are my germs. You’ll understand when you’re a mom,” she said as she again popped another spit and snot soaked orange into her mouth.
And it was at that moment when I realized, I am far from ready to be a mom. That job is beyond my current qualifications.
“Oh, the Thinks You Can Think!” sings the Cat in the Hat at the beginning of Seussical the musical, the beloved production based on the works of Dr. Seuss.
It’s a refrain that could well be every parent’s message to their children. It speaks to the possibilities that exist every day in our lives if we allow time for dreaming, exploration, and discovery.
In Seussical, Jojo, the Mayor of Who’s son, is admonished by his parents for thinking “thinks” — imaginary thoughts that disrupt his school classes and anger his teachers.
When Jojo’s parents lament, “Oh, where are the instructions on how to raise a child?” they speak to a universal question of parenting. However a parent chooses to answer the question, is it not common sense that opportunities for creative expression, trying and erring, and daydreaming be allowed and encouraged?
I’m reminded of a story told recently by Alberto Rios, whom the Governor has appointed as Arizona’s Inaugural Poet Laureate. He recounts, in an interview on KAET’s Horizonte, that, as a child, he was punished by his teacher for “the egregious crime of imagining.” He blesses his parents for not reprimanding him. He thanks them for seeing the possibilities within him and not stifling those creative juices that have made him today a notable literary figure and teacher.
I have had the privilege of working with nonprofit organizations such as Free Arts of Arizona, Phoenix Boys Choir, and Valley Youth Theatre and watched in awe as children from diverse social and economic backgrounds, with different personalities and temperaments have been transformed by the power of imagination. On stage, their talents are unleashed, their inhibitions dissolve, their fear or anxiety morphs into creative energy and expression, and they experience collaboration. And they are encouraged!
When you read a report such as that recently published in The Arizona Republic that Metro Phoenix has the highest rate in the nation of youth who are disconnected from work and school, you have to realize how unnecessary and unacceptable such idleness is — especially when pathways for transformation exist through our non-profit organizations and religious institutions.
Perhaps, all of us…parents, corporations, and government…ought to adapt and adopt Cat in the Hat’s refrain and proclaim, “Oh, the Thinks We Can Think, and the Thinks We Can Do,” to open doors to creative thinking, imagination, and productivity for all children!”
It is nearly impossible not to smile when a butterfly enters your vision. Now imagine thousands of them, and Phoenix is probably the last place you would expect to witness that, especially in a rainforest environment. Since opening in May of this year, Butterfly Wonderland in Scottsdale boasts the largest butterfly atrium in America! Due to its lush, tropical environment, it is also most likely the only butterfly atrium where you feel like you have had a moisturizing facial along with your visit…
Far more than just a facility where butterflies rule, you will find several other live exhibits to fascinate your grandchildren and yourselves. To get in the spirit of things, begin in their fabulous 3-D theater to watch the Flight of the Butterflies. This movie chronicles the amazing journey of the Monarch Butterfly. Your little ones will thrill at the butterflies soaring within their grasp. Next you will enter the Emergence Gallery where you will witness various species of butterflies emerging from their chrysalises, their metamorphosis complete.
Our grandkids were really fascinated with the Live Aunt Colony and the Honey Bee Extravaganza. Watching those industrious creatures made us adults feel rather lazy in comparison! The Rivers of the Amazon exhibit showcases freshwater aquatic life up close, and even includes a baby stingray petting pool.
Above all is the Butterfly Conservatory, the magical centerpiece of this extraordinary facility! By all means, bring your camera to this lush atrium that is adorned with tropical plants, waterfalls, koi pond, and thousands of butterflies that travelled here as chrysalises from as far away as Thailand! An equatorial climate awaits; a feast for the senses! Be sure to school your grandchildren beforehand regarding the basic rules; no touching the butterflies, watch where you step, and enjoy it when they choose you as a landing spot! It is easy to lose track of time while watching these beautiful creatures.
www.butterflywonderland.com 480.800.3000 Food Items available Gift Shop Open 7 days a week, 9am-5pm Adults $18.95 ; Student, Military and 62+ $16.95; Children 3-11 $9.95 2 and under free, strollers welcome
Check out their website for group rates, annual passes and private event rates
Please no sunscreen – since butterflies ‘taste’ with their feet, if they land on you it can interfere with their ability to taste ( A Fun Fact courtesy of a Butterfly Wonderland Volunteer)
Has your child been bullied or is your child a bully? There are many warning signs and preventative measures you need to be educated on in order to help your child in both scenarios.
Bullying is still a growing problem nationwide. Although we are implementing and enforcing laws against bullying, we still hear on the news horrific stories about shootings, suicides, and peer abuse. Approximately 77 percent of students in the United States report incidents of bullying at their schools.
- Cyber- Through social media, text messaging, gossip, emails, and inappropriate photos, Facebook and other social media sites are becoming large outlets for bullying. This type of bullying has increased tremendously because it is harder to detect.
- Verbal- A child may report being called horrible names, racist comments, homophobic jokes, or being sexually harassed.
- Physical- Some kids bully by being physical, such as: Hitting, spitting, kicking, and physically attacking through weapons, guns, or physical force. These types of bullies are also known to destroy property or steal.
- Indirect- Some bullies will spread gossip or rumors that are not factual and is made up to embarrass another child or teen. Often times this is also considered to be emotional abuse as the child or teen becomes isolated because of the gossip/rumors.
According to bullying statistics in 2013 in the United States, we are still seeing, even with multiple anti-bullying programs mandated in our schools, that:
- 1 in 5 students admitted to bullying their peers at some point.
- About half of students reported being afraid of going to the bathroom for risk of being bullied there.
- Teenagers aged 12-17 claimed they have seen violence increase in their school in the past year.
- In approximately 85 percent of bullying cases, no intervention was made by a teacher or administrator.
- 30 percent of U.S. teenagers have been involved in bullying by either being a bully or a victim.
Cyberbullying advice for parents:
As a parent, it is important to tell your teen that they will not be punished for admitting to being bullied. If the bullying continues after the child has blocked the person on the Internet and their phone, a parent may want to contact the other parent whose child is cyber bulling their own child and have a discussion in order to stop the harassment. Educate your child or teen to keep all threatening or cruel messages and bullying evidence as proof to support their case. Remind your children about predators and how not everyone may be who they say they are online. Make sure you know where your child is at all times, so that a predator cannot hurt your child. Tell your child to have caution when sending messages or pictures through the internet or text because there is a risk that it could “go viral.” Have a code word, for example: a pet’s name, if your child is in danger so that you know how to find them and come and get them.
Cyberbullying statistics consist of some of the following:
- The i-Safe Foundation reported that 1 in 3 children have experienced cyber-threats online.
- Over 25 percent of students report being “repeatedly” bullied through their cell phone and the Internet.
- About 1 in 5 teens have posted or sent sexually suggestive or nude pictures of themselves to others.
- Girls are more likely than boys to engage in cyberbullying.
- Only 1 out of 10 victims of cyberbullying tell their parents about the incident.
- 1 out of 4 report the cyberbullying to the police.
Parents are very concerned but may not want to believe or imagine that their child is bullying other students. This is called “Denial” about our own child’s behavior. Children who bully other children, statistically, have been physically, mentally, or verbally abused in their own home or at school.
A bully has a need for power, control, and dominance over another child. Here are some indicators that your child may be a bully:
- He/She comes home with items, toys, money, or materials that may not belong to them.
- Your child may often get in trouble with teachers or administrators.
- May start fights with their own siblings.
- May easily react and become violent with others at or outside of the home.
- Blames others for their problems
- Chooses friends who bully other students.
On the other hand, if your child is bullied, here are some signs and symptoms to look out for:
- The child may make excuses to avoid going to school or other activities.
- Your child may experience emotional changes, such as, depression, anxiety, anger, sadness.
- Change in appetite due to nerves or anxiety/stress.
- Drop in academic performance
- May want to attend another school
How can a parent help their child when they are being bullied?
Parents need to explain to their child/teen that it is not acceptable to be afraid or hurt by another person. They do not deserve to be picked on in any capacity. This is considered to be a form of abuse or bullying. Parents need to teach their child to be assertive, not aggressive, back to a child who is bullying them. It’s important to tell the child or teen to report any incident of bullying immediately to a counselor, teacher, administrator, friend, or parent. It is critical that you may need to seek counseling for your child and family.
If you’d like to share a story or comment about your child’s experience with bullying, and how you helped your child, please write to my Dear Linda column at firstname.lastname@example.org, or write on Facebook.