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How to Talk to Kids about Climate Change and the Environment with Mary DeMocker

Special Guest Expert: Mary DeMocker I remember, as a child, learning that you turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth. You close the refrigerator quickly and turn off the lights when you leave the room—little things- and they needed to be taught because otherwise, I admit, I hadn’t thought much about leaving the tap on, standing in front of the open fridge for minutes figuring out what I wanted to eat or leaving on the lights in every conceivable room. I’ve needed to teach it to my kids too- but of course, they sometimes forget. Sometimes protecting the Earth isn’t the first thought that comes to mind when you’re standing in the shower, letting the hot water fall on your head and back. For some, climate change might feel distant- like something happening elsewhere but not right here at home. Although this seems to be changing a bit- many families, all over the world have found that climate change has begun to touch their lives. Deadlier wild fires, increasingly crazy weather, additional information of melting ice caps on the nightly news- information coming to us through news anchors as well as out of the mouths of younger and younger activists that are demanding awareness and action. My own children have quoted information from Weird But True books and nature documentaries about what’s going on with the polar bears and tropical forests. The truth is, we are all feeling the effects and we are all contributing to the effects of climate change– AND we are also able to help solve the problem. Of course, this means we must have the discussions that can bring about the change. It starts with opening our mouths and our hearts so that we can lay it all on the table. How do we give our children the facts about climate change- from discussions of fossil fuels to fluctuating animal habitats to sustainable and destructive energy sources so that they are in the know? And how can we, as families, alter how we live our lives, in small consistent ways, that will help create a healthier future for our loved ones? We need a climate revolution—and it starts at home, with us.

Our special guest today is Mary Democker. Mary DeMocker’s book, The Parents’ Guide to Climate Revolution: 100 Ways to Build a Fossil-Free Future, Raise Empowered Kids, and Still Get a Good Night’s Sleep is a finalist for the 2019 Oregon Book Award and has been featured on Yale Climate Connections and recommended on NPR and in The New York Times. Mary writes and speaks widely about parenting in a changing climate, helping parents, educators, clinicians, and young people find a positive role in the global transition to a clean energy future. She lives in Eugene, Oregon with her husband and sometimes her son, a freshman in college. His sister older graduated from college last year and is a teacher.

How to Talk to Kids about Climate Change and the Environment with Mary DeMocker

Special Guest Expert: Mary DeMocker I remember, as a child, learning that you turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth. You close the refrigerator quickly and turn off the lights when you leave the room—little things- and they needed to be taught because otherwise, I admit, I hadn’t thought much about leaving the tap on, standing in front of the open fridge for minutes figuring out what I wanted to eat or leaving on the lights in every conceivable room. I’ve needed to teach it to my kids too- but of course, they sometimes forget. Sometimes protecting the Earth isn’t the first thought that comes to mind when you’re standing in the shower, letting the hot water fall on your head and back. For some, climate change might feel distant- like something happening elsewhere but not right here at home. Although this seems to be changing a bit- many families, all over the world have found that climate change has begun to touch their lives. Deadlier wild fires, increasingly crazy weather, additional information of melting ice caps on the nightly news- information coming to us through news anchors as well as out of the mouths of younger and younger activists that are demanding awareness and action. My own children have quoted information from Weird But True books and nature documentaries about what’s going on with the polar bears and tropical forests. The truth is, we are all feeling the effects and we are all contributing to the effects of climate change– AND we are also able to help solve the problem. Of course, this means we must have the discussions that can bring about the change. It starts with opening our mouths and our hearts so that we can lay it all on the table. How do we give our children the facts about climate change- from discussions of fossil fuels to fluctuating animal habitats to sustainable and destructive energy sources so that they are in the know? And how can we, as families, alter how we live our lives, in small consistent ways, that will help create a healthier future for our loved ones? We need a climate revolution—and it starts at home, with us.

Our special guest today is Mary Democker. Mary DeMocker’s book, The Parents’ Guide to Climate Revolution: 100 Ways to Build a Fossil-Free Future, Raise Empowered Kids, and Still Get a Good Night’s Sleep is a finalist for the 2019 Oregon Book Award and has been featured on Yale Climate Connections and recommended on NPR and in The New York Times. Mary writes and speaks widely about parenting in a changing climate, helping parents, educators, clinicians, and young people find a positive role in the global transition to a clean energy future. She lives in Eugene, Oregon with her husband and sometimes her son, a freshman in college. His sister older graduated from college last year and is a teacher.

How to Talk to Kids about Saying No and People Pleasing with Susan Newman, PhD

Special Guest Expert: Susan Newman, PhD Do you or does your child have trouble saying “no?” Do you find yourself saying “yes” to your children when you really want to say “not today,” “I can’t swing it,” or just plain “no?” Does your child over-stretch or over-commit because s/he can’t seem to say no? Perhaps you or your child is what my next guest calls “a master of yes and a novice of no.” But is all this people-pleasing a problem? As you might have already guessed, of course it is. And- As it turns out, even though it might be difficult to say no, it’s vital that we learn how to do it for our own health, wellbeing and stress-levels—and also so that we are teaching our children how to do it too. Is it uncomfortable to say no? Sure, it can be. But constantly saying yes can cause anxiety, anger, stress, regret and feelings of powerlessness. We definitely don’t want that. For the many ways to say no and mean it, we turn to Susan Newman.

Social psychologist, Susan Newman is the author of 15 books in the parenting field. Her research examines such areas as building strong family bonds and raising only children as well as the difficulties of being working parent. She is a regular contributor to Psychology Today and U.S News & World Report.  She is the author of Little Things Long Remembered: Making Your Children Feel Special Every Day and The Book of NO: 365 Ways to Say It and Mean It—and Stop People-Pleasing Forever. You Follow her on Facebook at DrSusanNewman and sign up for her free Monthly Family Life Alert Newsletter on her website SusanNewmanPhD.com.

Top 10 Family Rules with Dr. Robyn Silverman

Family rules. Something every family needs but likely has not formally discussed or written down. Think about it– does your family have known, documented family rules?

Rules make the household “work.” They keep things safe and fair for everyone. With rules, kids know what is to be expected and can rise to the occasion. Of course, without known rules, it’s very hard to enforce them, use them for guidance or for each family member to know when they’ve crossed the line.

As I’m getting ready to release my very first Family Action Blueprint (forthcoming) package that centers on family rule development and discussion, I certainly have tons of ideas!

Below is an example of 10 rules to get you thinking of what you’d like to post on your fridge and discuss in your family meeting. However, I encourage you to ask your children to contribute to the family rules as I’ve continued to learn that when working with young people; if you say it, it can be ignored or challenged, if they say it, it becomes the gospel truth.

You can ask directly; Read more

Confidence Comes from Experience

Someone asked me how to help her child become more confident– especially give that she felt she lacks confidence too.

You can’t will yourself to be confident. There’s no trick. There’s no magic button. In order to become confident you need to do the thing that scares you. You need to look in the face of uncertainty and still keep going.

You need to be louder than doubt. Bigger than the barrier. Bolder than the fear.

Remember when you ??? You know that time when…??? Conjure up those experiences when you kicked insecurity aside and did what you had to do. You can do this. You can do this.

Yes you can. Just do the thing. When you do the thing that scares you, you realize, it’s not so tough. It’s not so bad. It’s not so scary. And along the way, you become better at the thing, don’t you? And becoming better at it often makes us feel more comfortable. Or at least you can say, “well, I’ve already done it once so I can do it again.”

So speak up. Stand up. Try the activity. Get up on stage. Have the conversation. Put yourself out there. Make the call. Plant your feet. Look them in the eye. Walk to the front of the room. Go for that run. Teeter, totter, slip, fall, fail and wipe out. Then get back up. Try again. Go for it. Your confidence depends on it.

xoxo-

 

 

 

 

10 Powerful Conversation Starters: How to Talk to Kids about Resilience

From bullying to disasters to the scary happenings we see on the news, raising kids in today’s world can be challenging. It’s easy to see why teachers, parents, coaches and other adults in the lives of children want to shield children from all hardships. Of course, this isn’t possible and over-protecting children and keeping them from experiencing failure isn’t the answer to adversity. What is? Teaching resilience.

Resilience is the ability to “bounce back” from stress, challenge, trauma, failure and adversity. We see it when our kids pick themselves up after they fall and try again. We see it when they study harder, try out again, make the 3rd attempt, and solve problems on their own even though they could take the easy way out. I like to explain it this way:

Think about an elastic band. You can stretch it out, twist it, pull it– and what happens when you stop stretching it? It bounces back. Just like an elastic band, resilience allows us to “bounce back” when we are pulled, stretched, twisted and challenged. Now think of a rubber ball. What happens when you throw that rubber ball down at the floor or at the wall? It bounces back! Just like an elastic band or a rubber ball, resilience allows us to “bounce back” when life gets tough or challenging. We can be like that elastic band or that rubber ball! When life pushes us down…we bounce back up!

Feel free to use the 10 Conversation Starters to help you talk about resilience with the children in your life. The Powerful Word of the Month is resilience for July– but this is a word we can use all year long to help us through anything that pulls us out of our comfort zone or challenges our emotions, frustration level or even physical being. I’m thinking of you every step of the way- and come up onto Facebook so we can discuss all kinds of great topics on Facebook or request to be in the brand new; How to Talk to Kids about Anything private group!

Thank you for being part of our family!

The Courage to Try: 7 Vital Tips to Help Your Kids Try New Things Even if They Are Scared

It was my 7-year-old daughter’s very first camp overnight. She was nervous, scared, excited and anxious.

Each night, before bed, she would start a looping monologue.

“I’m really scared about the sleepover…I’m going to miss you…what if I want to go home…what if I have to go to the bathroom…what if I’m scared?”

“Do you want to go on this sleepover?”

“Yes. But I’m really scared about the sleepover…”

This was getting us nowhere. Have you ever felt like that?

The truth was, we hadn’t had a great track record. Her first sleepover at Grammie’s last year ended abruptly with an ear infection and a fever. The second one took two takes—she came home before sleeping and after a pep talk about fear, she went back but I was there to tuck her in and sing her goodnight. And last weekend, her sweet friend from camp came over to our house to do a practice sleepover and wound up going home at 12:45am because she missed her mom and had a tummy ache. Sleepovers had not been the picture of success.

It’s hard when we want our child to try new things but fear has taken hold and won’t let go. So how can we help our children help themselves when trying constructive, new things that excite but scare them?

  • Note the time: If your child is extremely tired, this might not be the best time to have a serious conversation about fear. Brains are exhausted from a full day of work, play, school, camp, friends and activities by the time nighttime rolls around. You can say; “I know you are nervous about X and I’m happy to talk about it with you. Right now it’s very late. How about we talk about it in the morning when your brain is fresh and you’ve had a good night’s sleep?” Of course, if your child is staying up nights thinking about what it making him or her nervous, you may need to talk about it a bit. Often though, simply saying; “Your feelings are important. We will figure this out together. Let’s talk about it tomorrow when exhaustion is not in the driver’s seat of your brain” can be enough.
  • Help your child realize that s/he is in the driver’s seat: I love what Elizabeth Gilbert said in her “Letter to Fear.” “Dearest Fear: I recognize and respect that you are part of this family, and so I will never exclude you from our activities, but still – your suggestions will never be followed. You’re allowed to have a seat, and you’re allowed to have a voice, but you are not allowed to have a vote. You’re not allowed to touch the road maps; you’re not allowed to suggest detours; you’re not allowed to fiddle with the temperature. Dude, you’re not even allowed to touch the radio. But above all else, my dear old familiar friend, you are absolutely forbidden to drive.” It’s vital that our children feel a sense of ownership when it comes to their feelings and their choices. I told my own daughter a rendition of this letter, changing it to fit a child’s language and development. It gave her the words as well as a specific mantra. Now she echoes back to me; “Mommy! I didn’t allow fear to drive my bus!”
  • Ask; what will make you feel more calm and less scared? When you ask this question, it allows your child to be talliesleepovernote-450x338proactive about what will help them rather than focus on the problems. This was the key to the overnight experience for us. Tallie decided that sleeping next to one of her counselors would help. I wrote a note to one of the staff members that said; “Tallie has a question for Amanda” but did not provide the question itself. I had told my daughter; “I will send the reminder but you need to ask the question. I won’t do it for you. I believe that you can do it yourself.” It’s important for children to learn to speak up for themselves even if they need a reminder or encouragement to do so. There is something empowering about saying the words yourself and hearing the answer with your own ears. When Tallie came home, she was happy to announce that she would be sleeping next to Amanda.
  • Have your child write down his/her questions—and ask them:Still, Tallie was nervous. She was filled with Tallie_sleepoverquestions1questions. What if she needed to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night? Would there be a nightlight? And the most looming concern– What if sleeping next to her counselor didn’t help? I had her take out a piece of paper and write down her questions. She penned them out herself right at our kitchen table, we put them in an envelope and she brought them in on the day of the big overnight meeting with her group and counselors. That afternoon, I got this email from her division head: “Tallie was so articulate at our meeting about the overnight tomorrow. She asked all of her questions clearly and followed the directions of waiting until the end of the meeting for the Q & A part before raising her hand. I was so very impressed and told her so!” Tallie came home feeling knowledgeable and certain about what to expect on her overnight. She was learning a valuable lesson—she could ask questions, get answers and ease her fears with the knowledge she gained.
  • Calm your own nerves: It’s normal to feel nervous about your child’s firsts—especially when your child is nervous too! I couldn’t help but wonder what I was going to do if the camp called at night telling me I needed to pick up my petrified child given that my husband was on a business trip and my son would be sleeping. So, I called in the reinforcements: my neighbor and two friends. If I needed to pick up my daughter, one of them would come over and sit in the house until I came back. Aside from that, I spoke to my friends about my concerns. It’s important to talk it out with those you trust so that you feel comforted and your fears don’t come out while encouraging your child. Talk, exercise, have lunch with a friend, do yoga. Calming your own nerves is vital if you are to calm someone else’s at the same time!
  • Realize the preparation and the problem-solving is part of the win: While we all want our children to have the win of actually facing their fear and seeing the end of their journey, there are plenty of wins to celebrate before the end. The process of facing your fear instead of simply turning your back and saying “I won’t do it” is a great exercise—and it’s progress! My daughter went from declaring “I won’t go on the overnight” to “I want to go but I’m scared.” That’s a win! She went from “I’m scared” to “I’ll ask my questions and ask for what I need to feel more calm and less scared.” That’s a win! Even if she didn’t sleep over in the end, she had made progress.
  • Celebrate the wins and connect it to your child’s character: Who had your child needed to “be” in order to face his or her fears and come out on top? Whether they took a few steps forward or they went all the way through the fear and came out the other side, this took courage. You can say, for example; “One thing I know about you now is that you have the courage to look fear in the face, ask the questions you needed to, make sound decisions based on what you heard and get out of your comfort zone. I am proud of you—but I hope that you are proud of yourself. I believe in you but more importantly, I hope you now see that you can believe in yourself. You are courageous and strong and you showed incredible gumption. Way to go!”
  • As it turns out, my daughter made it! I received an email from the person in charge who said;

    “You can be very proud of your daughter. She was a total super star on the overnight. She was an excellent listener and was very respectful when we said it was time to turn out the lights and get into sleeping bags. She has a blast swimming in the lake and jumping on the water tramp and was very excited about the ice cream bar! She did it!!”

tallie_sleepoverYes she did. She worked the plan and she did it. And this experience will become evidence that she can do many other nerve-wracking but exciting firsts in her life. Of course, it wasn’t perfect. I mean, this proud, grimy, totally exhausted girl came off the bus wearing an enormous t-shirt saying “I survived the sleepover” as she alternated between smiles and tears. But fighting fears is messy. It’s not perfect. It can take everything out of you just as it builds you up. And all of it sure is tiring.

When we give children the tools to empower themselves, they can do much more than they ever thought they could—and perhaps more than you thought they could too.

Here’s to many more courageous acts and exciting firsts!

Dr. Robyn Signature

 

 

 

The Upside to Lying: Dr. Robyn Silverman Discusses on Good Morning America


ABC US News | World News

How about THIS for a new spin on lying? A new study suggests that kids with a good memory also happen to be good liars!

We all know that lying is pervasive in childhood. So perhaps it’s good for parents to know a marker for good liars is having good working memories—in particular, good verbal memories, which makes sense because they need to remember what they said and who they said it to so they can keep all their lies straight.

The new study in the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology shows that when the researchers from the University of Sheffield gathered more than 100 children, ages six and seven, and told them not to peek at the answers on the back of a card detailing a fictitious cartoon character, the best liars were revealed. Then researchers questioned the children, spotted the liars, and evaluated their ability to lie in the face of two questions that would catch them red-handed. The “best” liars told a whammy each time, while poor liars did it only once or not at all.

It takes mental effort to keep all the stories straight—so the researchers conclude that the liars may have better working memories and may even be “smarter.”

We explored a few key questions this morning on Good Morning America.GMA_childrenlying_800_400

So many parents would say they didn’t teach their children to lie, but rather that it seems like an innate behavior. So, where are they learning it and why do they do it?

Research has told us that 1 in 5 interactions are lies! Adults and children do it. Some people lie because it gets them out of trouble while others lie Read more

THAT moment in the bathroom with your daughter

wey_77b_mommykiss-225x300We all get that feeling that we are messing up our children sometimes. I do too. Often…if I’m being honest.

I look back to when we first took our daughter home from the hospital and remember my husband and I looking at each other and wondering how in the world they let us take her.  We had no idea what we were doing!

And there are days, with both our children, that we still feel the same way. Do you feel that way too sometimes?

But as much as we think we are messing up at times, it’s also very likely, we are doing something VERY right.  Never forget how powerful you are.  Our children are taking in our words.  They are watching our actions.  They are adopting our values. And it does make a difference.

Everyday, there are opportunities to shape our children.  Of course, it’s what we do overtime that makes a lasting impact.  And sometimes, we DO get it right. And sometimes, we even get a chance to realize it.

Last night– I had THAT MOMENT in the bathroom while brushing teeth with my daughter:

T, age 6: “Mommy; am I beautiful?”
Me: “Yes. When people are kind and full of character, it comes out their eyes and in what they do and it makes them beautiful. And people who are nasty all the time, even if they are pretty on the outside, are not beautiful.”
T: It doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside. It’s the inside that counts.”
Me: “That’s right, Baby. People focus too much on what they look like on the outside and not enough on who they are on the inside.”
T: “Yeah. Because it’s what’s in your heart that makes you beautiful.”
Me: “Yes, my Sweet. That’s exactly right. Are you learning about being beautiful on the inside at school?”
T: “No, Mommy. I learned it from you.”

They are listening. You are enough. And maybe, just maybe, we’re not messing up this parenting thing as much as we thought.

Carry on!

 

 

Verizon Viral Ad for Girls: What are We Telling Our Daughters about Math and Science?

It was a great Good Morning America segment this morning!  We focused on a new viral Verizon campaign and ad that questions whether it’s time to move from telling our girls that she’s simply “pretty” to telling them that they are “pretty brilliant” too. What are we telling our girls about their abilities in math and science?  Can we attract more girls into STEM?  We explored this topic.

Why are we seeing greater numbers of ads reaching out to young girls and women giving them the message they can be more?

First, let’s not forget that these companies want to sell products and in these ads they are appealing to big markets, women and girls. But aside from that, I think these companies are seeing that by moving away from looks and celebrating the strong minds of girls, they can inspire a larger pool of future game-changers.  These are the people who can invent something important and become the next generation of leaders in their companies. We are looking for leaders, not hood ornaments.

The ad quotes a statistic- 66% of 4th grade girls say they like science and math, but only 18% of all college engineering majors are female. So where does the disconnect happen? Is it the fault, as the ad suggests, of parents?

Parents get such a bad rap—but it’s not just parents, it’s society as a whole.  If a girl is interested in Science, Technology, Engineering or Math, many of the toys that support those interests are in the “boy” section, the protagonists of the majority of books & movies in this genre are boys—and while there are companies and wonderful grass roots efforts to change that, there is still a message we are working against that says STEM is not for girls and if you go in that direction you’re different, nerdy or boyish.

How does this play out with my own daughter?

My daughter is full of life and curiosity—and, as I tell her and my audiences when I present on this topic, you can’t fuel curiosity if you’re worried about getting your hands dirty. My daughter wanted to be a veterinarian now she wants to be a pediatrician.  She’s interested in science. So when she’s outside digging in the dirt, mud under her fingernails, a worm in her hand and not a care in the world, I say “go get ‘em girl.” That’s curiosity and learning at work.

What can parents do to help daughters reach their potential?

(1) Develop your child’s gifts.  Interests do not come with gender label on them.

(2) Compliment her on more than just her looks because she is so much more creative and nuanced than that.

(3) Develop her character.  Show her and tell her that powerful words like persistence, focus, goal-setting and commitment are vehicles to realizing her dreams if she simply chooses to employ them.

(4) Expose her to people and companies (large and grass roots) that believe that girls can be and do anything!

What are your thoughts about this topic?

Dr. Robyn Signature