Posts Tagged ‘Being healthy’

How to Avoid Overbooking Your Kids

WearTheCapeLogoOverbooked?  Guilty here…We absolutely live a frenetic life with 3 boys, sports, activities, and oh yea, school!  It all adds up to busy days that turn into busy weeks and months, and all of a sudden, no one is sure where the time went.  I’m definitely against forcing kids to do things they don’t want to do for no good reason, but…I’m very much FOR letting kids stay active in sports and activities, even if it adds frenzy to our family life.  It also adds afternoons watching sporting events and car rides to and from where you get to catch up.  That said, this guest post, from Philip Brown, PhD, a resident expert character education at Wear The Cape, has some great ideas which even busy families may find useful.  I definitely think that well-timed “pauses” are good for everyone, myself included.

Wear the Cape describes itself as a “mission-powered brand with the nerve to equate being kind with being cool.”  More info on them is below this guest post.

5 Tips to Avoid Overbooking Your Kids and Find Life Balance

  1. Let your kids know that you care about them for who they are, not just what they can do. Children need to know that your love is not contingent on their achievements.
  2. Remember that children do not have the same sense of time that you do. Part of growing up is being able to put things in perspective. There will likely be another friend, another team, another trip if this one does not work out.
  3. Working hard at something you love to do is one of the best parts of life. It takes some of us a lot of experimenting to find those things we love. Kids need that free time to try new things, as well as the permission to give them up and try something else.
  4. Some kids organize their time and find their interests with just a little exposure; other kids may need a bit of a push to try things that don’t seem attractive or interesting (or may be threatening). The trick here is to be sensitive to individual needs and persistent in offering opportunities. If you need to be pushy, try to offer alternatives, so kids have a voice in what they will be doing. For example, some children thrive in competitive sports, and others may find their niche in hiking or dancing.
  5. Remember to include exposure to helping others in your family activities. One of the best ways of developing empathy in our children (and ourselves) is to feel the gratitude that is expressed when we help others. This doesn’t happen if we don’t have the opportunity of interacting with others in need or whom we help. This can happen within the context of the family itself, as well, and doesn’t necessarily require a formal charity event. Create opportunities in which children can feel that they have meaningfully helped other family members or the whole family accomplish something. The combination of caring, responsibility, feeling respected, and gratitude is a powerful stew that nourishes the soul.

Dr. Brown advocates, “Saying ‘no’ when demands become more than we can handle, or to children who may feel that they are supposed to be involved with everything their friends are doing to keep up, is not easy, and can be particularly difficult if our sense of self, who we want to believe we are or should be, seems dependent on saying ‘yes’ and doing it all.”

About Wear the Cape and the kidkind foundation

Wear the Cape™ for all kidkind™ is the first global, mission-powered brand with the nerve to equate being kind with being cool. By coaching kids to be BETTER THAN THAT™, Wear the Cape breaks down barriers and brings people together—a world of new values prevails: It’s cool to be inclusive, tolerant and socially responsible. From its line of apparel and accessories, to its educational tools and its own non-profit the kidkind foundation, Wear the Cape sparks awareness and raises money to build heroes, a kid at a time. Wear the Cape’s products and resources are designed to create teachable moments between kids and the grown-ups they look up to with Hero Tags that tee up conversations about what it means to stand up and stand out; to stick up for the underdog; to do what’s right, not what’s easy. Wear the Cape donates 10% of its net profits directly to the kidkind foundation, and the rest is reinvested in the design and production of new products, as well as character-building educational materials for parents and teachers to help the kids they love. Wear the Cape’s work with communities and schools is helping mold everyday heroes that will create a kinder, better world for us all.

Raising Financially-Savvy Teens









With summer around the corner, kids will have the opportunity to make and of course, SPEND money.  These tips on how to raise money-savvy teens caught my eye, and come from financial security expert and two-time New York Times bestselling author Pamela Yellen.

Pamela suggests the following building blocks for your teen’s financial literacy:

* Connect becoming financially savvy with becoming more independent:
Teens aren’t interested in learning about money to become “financially responsible adults.” They’re interested in gaining more autonomy and more freedom. Teens are starting to decide who they want to be and how they want to live. They want to be independent and stand on their own two feet.

* Clean up the mess you’ve made: Maybe some of the ways you’ve dealt with money with your kids have not been brilliant. Maybe you gave them allowances without any responsibilities to earn it. Maybe you haven’t allowed them to make even the smallest spending decisions.  Maybe you’ve bailed them out every time they overspent. Just stop it. It may cause some upset and may need some explanation. But your mission as a parent is to help them develop skills they’ll need to be out on their own. Don’t sabotage their futures by continuing unhealthy family patterns with money.

* Correct your failure to communicate:
Good communication with teens is almost an oxymoron!  They’re frustrated with their parents, and typically their parents are frustrated with them. “Because I say so!” is no longer an effective explanation, and they’re no longer the compliant eight-year-olds you once knew. The burden is on you to get communication channels open so they can hear what you have to say about money.

More tips from Yellen:
* Be a good listener first
* Acknowledge and support your teen’s increased autonomy
* Accept their feelings and respect their opinions
* Admit it when you’re wrong, and discuss your mistakes and what you learned from them
* Above all, avoid nagging, guilt trips, and lecturing!

Yellen explains, “Avoid any statement that could be accompanied by a wagging index finger, like ‘You have to learn this so you’ll end up to be a responsible adult, not a deadbeat like your Uncle Harry,’ or ‘You’re not getting a credit card, young lady, until you show a little maturity with your spending.’ Your teen will instantly flip into ‘I can’t hear you’ mode. You’ll get better results with, ‘If you learn to be financially savvy, you’ll be able to create a life where you can have and do the things you really want to do. Would you be interested?’ Or ‘If you’re interested in getting your first credit card, I know exactly how you can earn it. Would you like to know?'”

About the Author: Financial security expert Pamela Yellen is author of the New York Times best-selling book, THE BANK ON YOURSELF REVOLUTION: Fire Your Banker, Bypass Wall Street, and Take Control of Your Own Financial Future and Editor-in-Chief of The Women’s Financial Edge. Pamela investigated more than 450 financial strategies seeking an alternative to the risk and volatility of stocks and other investments, which led her to a time-tested, predictable method of growing wealth now used by more than 500,000 Americans.







Great Note on Kids and Chores



I saw Hal Runkel (ScreamFree Parenting) at a PEP event and have been reading his Daily “ScreamFree eQuips” ever since.  This one is so spot on, I had to share it with you.  It always makes me laugh that our kids are so technically literate and can text, SnapChat, and Facebook simultaneously, but I can clear the room in an instant when I ask for someone to take the trash out.  All joking aside, my boys do help, but as moms know, there’s always more to do…

Your Daily ScreamFree eQuip, with Founder Hal E. Runkel, LMFT
“It is amazing how quickly the kids learn to drive a car, yet are unable to understand the lawnmower, snow-blower, or vacuum cleaner.”
(Ben Bergor)
Kids and Chores
Isn’t it amazing that kids can create power point presentations about their Christmas lists and figure out how to fix your ipod without even blinking, yet they will spend a full 15 minutes complaining about how hard it is to vacuum the living room? It is natural, though, I suppose. I would much rather spend time reorganizing my “guilty pleasures disco hits” selection than clean a toilet, but, life stinks that way (pun completely intended). My good friend John Alan Turner once said that there should be a sliding scale of freedom and responsibility when it comes to kids. As they grow, they should be given more of each, in proportion to one another. If they are given too much freedom without responsibility, they become spoiled. If given too much responsibility without freedom, they are rebels waiting to happen.

Why Family Meetings are a Hidden Treasure

Meghan Leahy’s recent article in The Washington Post, “The right response when your child doesn’t want to be ‘bossed around'” is a great look at autonomy-seeking single-digit aged kids.  She talks about independence and how healthy and necessary it can be, even if it’s uncomfortable for parents.  Leahy writes, “All children who are developing to their fullest potential come to an age when they want to create a space for themselves, a voice and a sense of independence within their families.”

Leahy illustrates this approach with a shout-out to a strategy she learned at the Parent Encouragement Program, the family meeting.  The idea of getting everyone together once a week to discuss the family agenda and to engage the kids in finding solutions so they have a voice in the management of the family is a great one to remember.  I, too, learned about this at a PEP class, where I’m currently also a Board member.

I asked PEP to share some class materials here at The Lounge to give our readers some insight into how how family meetings can be done, and why they’re helpful.  When I took PEP‘s multi-week Teens class last spring, they spent a lot of time teaching us how to plan, structure and implement family “councils” or meetings, and WHY they help each kid feel like a productive, useful, problem-solving member of the family team.  PEP’s curriculum writes, “A harmonious family is orderly…cooperative, efficient, and pleasant, (with) an atmosphere of friendliness, kindness and love.”

PEP advocates an “open forum, in which all family members can express ideas, opinions and complaints, and be listened to.”  Some elements of the meeting can include:

  • information
  • plans
  • rules
  • complaints
  • decisions

I love it!  We used to do this more regularly at our home and have picked it up again recently.  There are tons of ways you can personalize it, including a clockwise “compliment circle” where you go around the table and say something nice about the person next to you.  That certainly kicks things off in a friendly manner, and who doesn’t love to be complimented?  I share and then post our color-coded (yes, I’m a details person) calendar on the wall, and it’s great to look at the big picture and the little details that drive our busy lives… together.

*Note – PEP materials provided here with credit to Leader B. Clair Hawes, Consultant.

National Poison Prevention Week Tips Regarding Laundry Packets

NPPW posterIn 2014, the American Association of Poison Control Centers received reports of more than 11,000 accidental exposures to laundry packets by children aged 5 and below.

Here are some timely safety tips from from The American Cleaning Institute in anticipation of National Poison Prevention week:

– Never let kids handle laundry packets

– Always store products up and out of sight from kids

– Always store laundry packets in their original container and closed

Here’s a link to more tips.

MomTastic Find: Marimba Chat

Marimba color friend list





Sponsored Post

There’s nothing more fun than working on a PR project for a family-friendly product that I view as “MomTastic,” and Marimba Chat is a perfect example!  I wanted to share this exciting news at The Lounge

Young kids want to text.  Parents want to keep them safe.  Until recently, think of the young kids’ “digital playground” as mobile messaging without a hall monitor.

Mainstream apps want you to be 13+, so kids either lie about their age and participate in platforms that are built for and marketed to adults, or wait.  However…

  • Young kids are more digitally savvy than ever. In fact, one survey reported that 52% of kids spend SIX hours a day online.*
  • Parents struggle to keep up with the rapid fire technology…This same survey said 80% of parents don’t have the time or energy to keep up with their children online.

Here’s a news feature detailing the first-ever COPPA-certified messaging app that allows young kids (7-12) to text in a safe environment where parents can monitor everything in real-time.  Developed by a father-daughter duo, Marimba Chat gives parents a way to ease their digitally-ready kids safely into mobile messaging.  It’s a “walk before you run” approach to texting where young kids benefit from learning digital etiquette and practicing and learning from mistakes in a controlled/safe environment.

A great overview, told by 8-year-old Co-Founder Annelise, is here, followed by a story of how this all started.

First-ever COPPA-certified Messaging App

Offers Real-time Monitoring, Identify Verification and Safeguards

So Young Kids can Learn Valuable Lessons on the Digital Playground

Today’s kids are growing up in a digital world, and the menu of options available – Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Kik Messenger and so on – requires kids to be 13 or older. Younger kids, aged 7-12, are left to either lie about their age or not play on the digital playground. If kids choose to register with mainstream apps, they are set free in a world designed for and marketed to adults. There is a void of legal, safe options available to them for social messaging.

Why are there age limits? The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) aims to protect children under 13. The rule brings strict requirements and stiff fines ($16,000 per violation) so most companies avoid younger age groups altogether.

Parents struggle to keep up as well. The recent McAfee survey, “Digital Deception: Exploring the Online Disconnect between Parents and Kids,” reports that 52 percent of kids spend six hours a day online, but 80 percent of parents say they don’t have the time or energy to keep up with their children online.

One father-daughter software development team is confident that their newly minted app will ease young kids into the world of social media with the help of their parents as digital coaches. It started when co-founder and 8-year-old Annelise Schiebler asked if she could chat with her friends online. Her father, co-founder Andrew Schiebler, was surprised that there wasn’t already a range of options for young kids.

After more research, the father-daughter duo developed Marimba Chat, the first COPPA-certified messaging app for kids. Andrew explained, “There are very few social networking products made for this age group. Our goal is to give elementary school kids a safe place to chat with their friends and family.” Marimba is currently free to download in the App Store.

Marimba is designed to be safe for kids and easy for parents. Highlights include:

  • Identify verification of all new accounts using information from a parent’s government-issued ID.
  • Parents review all invitations and friend connections so they can approve people they trust and block those they don’t.
  • Filters and alerts for geolocation, profanity, and overall security.
  • An ability to monitor chat activity from the parent’s own phone in real-time.
  • Time controls so parents can limit chat hours.

 Marimba is the first messaging app certified by kidSAFE, an independent safety seal-of-approval program, to be compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

Co-founder Andrew Schiebler noted several key areas in which parents can teach their kids “digital etiquette” so they learn and practice safe methods from the start. “We help parents teach kids about online interaction like appropriate language, how to treat their friends, and what to do if they feel threatened. These life skills are just as critical in the digital arena as they are on the school playground.”

Kids and technology are here to stay. According to Marimba, kids should be supported by carefully designed safeguards so that their experience is both fun and age-appropriate.

About Marimba

Marimba is a mobile messaging platform designed for children under 13. Co-founders Andrew Schiebler and 8-year old daughter Annelise Schiebler created Marimba to help parents introduce children to social media. Andrew has 20 years’ experience building software products and startup companies. Annelise is currently in 3rd grade and enjoys karate, basketball, and building software with her dad. For more information about Marimba, visit

Marimba is currently free to download in the App Store.

# # #

Disclosure:  Marimba Chat is a paid client of Write Ideas, Inc., our PR firm, but any opinions expressed here are our own.



The Gift of Giving – Survey

Great survey report from Goodshop, an online retailer that donates a percentage of purchases to the buyer’s favorite charity (more than $11 million to date).  Full information below, but looks like a combined 88% of survey respondents will give the same or more than last year.  And animals top the list of a most popular category for donation.


Sponsored Post: Busch Gardens Holiday Celebration Continues

BGW_Christmas_Town_035.JPGWhen you think of Colonial Williamsburg and the area around it, you may be thinking historic battlefields and war re-enactments.  But there’s something much “lighter” going on this holiday season, and we wanted to share some of the information around their Christmas Town programs.  Here’s their “411” on the celebration now through December 31 where you can have a fun winter adventure:

Guests can feel the warmth of the holidays while strolling along paths lit by more than eight million twinkling lights.

True to its European heritage, Busch Gardens pulls out the stops for its annual Christmas event with idealized representations of the world’s best Christmas traditions.

Scrooge No More! ™, is coming to Busch Gardens’ Globe Theatre for Christmas Town. Join Scrooge live on stage in an all-new musical at the Globe Theatre as he is swept away by the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future, who teach him the importance of family and friends being together at Christmas.

Guests can create their own Christmas Town holiday traditions with a $32 Christmas Town Fun Card that offers unlimited admission for the 2014 Christmas season.

Annual pass members can save even more with an exclusive offer designed just for them. Active annual pass members can purchase a Christmas Town pass for $25 and receive unlimited admission to Christmas Town for the 2014 season along with regular pass member benefits like free parking and discounts on park purchases. Visit for complete details.

Visit for complete Christmas Town details, including ticket information and an operating schedule. While there, sign up for Busch Gardens’ email updates and be the first to know about upcoming special offers on Christmas Town tickets and other exclusive holiday deals.

Disclosure:  This is a sponsored post, and compensation was provided.

Believe Campaign Grants Wishes to Local Kids











For the 7th year in a row, Macy’s annual Believe campaign invites customers to write “Letters to Santa at the North Pole” in stores and now online.  For each letter collected, Macy’s will donate $1 up to $1 million to Make-A-Wish, helping to grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.  And this year, Macy’s is aiming to earn the Guinness World Records title for the “longest wish list to Santa” (therefore, the adorable picture at the top of this post).  We’ve seen the magic this campaign creates and have been touched by how powerful the “star treatment” is for the kids battling serious illnesses.  It gives them a short but valuable break from the exhaustion and stress of doctor’s offices, tests, scans, and the kind of days kids just shouldn’t have to endure.

I hope Macy’s wish, and many wishes of many Make-A-Wish kids come true this holiday season.

Letters are being collected through December 24th.  You can find a Macy’s store near you at this link.

Full disclosure:  Macy’s is a client of our PR firm, Write Ideas, Inc., but this is such a wonderful, family-friendly message, I love to share it at MomTini as well.

Teaching Gratitude to Kids











In a recent Thanksgiving post, I mentioned that I’ve always loved the breakdown of the word, “thanks” and “giving.”  So this was the perfect time to stumble upon this book, and I wanted to share some of its tips for teaching gratitude to kids.  The book, the newest member of our MomTastic Bookshelf, encourages kids to listen to their intuition, which is such a powerful lesson.   The author, Kathy Walsh, along with her company, joyohboy, teaches parents to raise peaceful kids, which is such an important charge in our society today.  We can definitely mold the headlines of the future by teaching kids today (and every day) how to value peace.

In her book, Gratitude is a Funny Thing, Walsh suggests…

  • Help your child author a “gratitude journal” where they can decorate & write about what they’re grateful for.
  • Write old-fashioned thank-you notes to teachers & friends.  Editor’s NoteLove this idea, and think it’s cute that thank-you notes are considered old-fashioned.  Who doesn’t love a handwritten note?
  • Get into the habit of gratitude every day.

There’s lots more, I just loved these tools and wanted to pass along.  Check out the joyohboy blog with more articles on mindful parenting.  Here’s a link to the book on Amazon.

How do you think we can teach kids more about gratitude?

Sponsored Post: Food Lion






Comment on this post with anything useful for families for Thanksgiving (a tip, a recipe secret, anything to make the holiday special), and you will be entered to win a $25 Food Lion Gift Card (winners to be randomly chosen on December 15, 2014).

We recently shopped Food Lion as a Mom Blog assignment, and wanted to share some of our findings here at The Lounge.  Our local store was definitely well-stocked, easy to shop, and reasonably priced throughout the store.   In particular, we found the frozen section to have TONS of kid-friendly foods.  Our boys are in a constant state of motion or refueling, so we like to keep lots of after school snacks “at the ready.”  And snacks aren’t just pretzels, it’s really more like a 4th meal.  Plus, with kids, you never know when you’ll have 1 or 10 showing up, ready to eat.

Some of the best finds at our store beyond the frozen section are the private label spices – they had tons on hand, and very well-priced.  Plus, the produce section is huge, and they had lots of variety.  I found some treasures on their site to share with you as you gear up for holiday get togethers:

So, if you’d like to win a $25 Gift Card to shop Food Lion for the holidays, comment on this post, and we’ll select winners at random on 12/15/14.

Disclosure:  Compensation was provided in exchange for this post, but the ideas, as always, are all my own!

Thanksgiving Roundup

happy thanksgiving




Many thanks to Washington Family Magazine for sharing my article, “Leave Your Cell Phone Out of the Cranberry Sauce.”  Timeless tips for a tech-free Thanksgiving.  Here’s a quick roundup of some of my Thanksgiving favorites from The Lounge…

And finally, here are some fresh stats hot off the Washington Family Magazine‘s digital press on Thanksgiving.  Check out their gobble-ishious Thanksgiving infographic here, on what makes this holiday so incredible…Maybe this can be material for Thanksgiving trivia at your family table.  Did you know…

  • The turkey industry grosses over $1 billion each year.
  • 62% of people watch football on Thanksgiving.
  • The average American consumes more than 15 pounds of turkey each year.

Full stats here.

Have a happy, healthy, and wonderful Thanksgiving!

:) Amy


“Children See, Children Do” Video Teaches a Powerful Message

Many thanks to Julie D., Mom since 1998 (MS’98) for sharing this chilling video created by NAPCAN, an Australia-based organization aimed at preventing child abuse.  The video, “Children See, Children Do,” is 60 seconds, is an unbelievable, powerful tool that demonstrates how critical a parent’s ACTIONS are in teaching his/her child.  So many times, we find ourselves flustered and reactive, without realizing the impact our actions have on our kids and on those around us.  Kudos to NAPCAN for developing this public service campaign, and I hope you’ll consider sharing with your own friends.  While some of the examples may seem extreme, the message is clear…

When and How to Start Chores

kids cleaning








Keeping the house clean & organized is like grabbing spaghetti out of a hot pan and thinking you might actually hold onto a few strands. Especially for Type-A parents like myself who achieve calm and balance when the house is in some kind of order, cleaning seems like an insurmountable hurdle at times.

We’re constantly wondering how the kids can be more involved, and have tried a multitude of systems and chore charts over the years. Let’s just say we make some progress, but that this “chore” is in a constant state of evolution.

I love this guest post from My Job Chart Founder Gregg Murset, where he shares some inside knowledge on when and how we can get the kids on board.  I wanted to share a great line from Gregg’s description of why he developed My Job Chart: “Currently there are numerous studies saying the same thing — kids may not know how to work, kids spend too much watching TV and playing video games, and kids don’t understand the basic fundamentals of managing money. Now My Job Chart can help reverse these trends by parents and kids working together to turn teachable moments into productive work and smart money decisions.”

When and How to Start Chores

By Gregg Murset


You Can Feel It … Most parents get “the feeling” when their children are capable of learning something new or taking on a task. It’s no different with picking up responsibilities around the house. Don’t ignore your gut and begin recognizing that your kids can be a get help to you.

Start Them Young … The basic rule is – if your children are old enough to take toys out to play, then they are old enough to put them away. The same goes with most other things around the house, even clothes, dishes, video games or items used out at the pool.

It’s Your Call … Don’t let so-called experts put an age range on particular jobs your kids could be doing. While it might not make sense to someone living in big city why a 10-year old would ever run lawnmower, in America’s heartland, it’s not uncommon for a 10-year old handling equipment on the farm. If you know they can complete harder chores safely, maybe you should let them try. It’s your call.


Understand Why It’s Important To Have Kids Do Chores & Receive Rewards … Using chores & rewards to teach our kids about responsibility, accountability and money has been around for decades. It’s easy, effective and can change as your child grows. Kids need structure and providing them with a daily routine or responsibilities, only help them later in life.

Be Consistent … When it comes to kids doing chores around the house, often there is only one thing stopping the kids – parents. Whether it’s because we get busy and forgot, get tried of nagging or just find it quicker to do it ourselves, parents are often the reason kids stop doing chores. Parents need to be consistent, demanding and set proper expectations when it comes to chores.

Be Fair … Kids understand right and wrong or fair and unfair. Separate the chores evenly or rotate them so the worst chores aren’t always with one child. If you are rewarding your children for jobs well done, don’t be afraid to compensate one child more than another if the chores they handle are more difficult or are less attractive.

Don’t Let Other Things Get In The Way … Dance practice, music lessons, football games, baseball practice and homework are just a few things your child has on their plate each day. As a parent, teach your child from an early age how to manage time and set priorities, by doing all these things plus the daily chores. There are life lessons in everything, don’t drop off things around the house because outside activities make life busy. We certainly can’t do that as adults, can we?

Stress Saving & Sharing … If you provide a reward for your kids, make sure to stress saving and sharing. Everyone knows how to spend … it’s like breathing … you just do it. Saving and sharing takes practice, a plan and often some research. In the long run, however, your kids will see the benefits and continue to do these things as adults. It’s like riding a bike – learn it early in life and you can always do it again later. Learn it later in life and it’s more difficult.

About the Guest Author

Gregg Murset, CFP, is Founder & CEO of My Job Chart, and the father of six kids.  His company tagline, “where kids, work and reward click,” describes the apps he has developed to help families increase accountability, responsibility, and problem solving.

Photo provided by My Job Chart showing Gregg’s own kids in action!

National Bullying Prevention Month Inspired Lessons for Kids











October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and while this anti-bullying book is written for kids, there are some timeless lessons that aren’t restricted to kids.  In fact, I just finished a post for my PR Firm website for today’s 2nd Annual Snark Free Day that talks about workplace bullying, so the topic spans from the playground to the boardroom.

Thanks to Bli Marston Dugi, M-PAC, author of “The Principle Gang,” a book series on anti-bullying for kids aged 4-11, for this guest post.  Dugi says that school is stressful enough without worrying about “that mean kid,” and that according to the National Education Agency, 160,000 students stay home from school everyday due to bullying.

He shares some powerful ways that parents can be part of the solution by being present, setting good examples, and being brave themselves.  Here’s his story…

It is paramount for parents to take an active role in their child’s education.   Take part in regular conversations pertaining to school at home and interact as much as possible on school campuses. This active role is the first step parents can take to bully proof their children.

A parental presence is the number one deterrent for childhood bullies. Bullies prefer to be sneaky most of the time. It is very easy for parents and teachers to identify the kid that is mean to everyone, but it is very difficult to identify the kid that is quietly mean to just one person. This “quietly mean” child can be the one who causes the most damage. Psychological abuse in the form of damaging words can leave life-long scars that far surpass any physical abuse that one may encounter. If your child has a “best friend” but still seems to be withdrawn or unhappy, evaluate this friendship immediately. Ask what games are being played at school. Ask your child whom they are sitting with at lunch. Ask more than “how was your day?” When you ask more, you decrease the chances of having the “it was fine” or the one answer “good” become another day that a potential problem was ignored.

Mean parents raise mean children. As parents, you need to be aware of those “mean parents” that you may encounter. It is a no-brainer that behavior is modeled, so the unfortunate result is the development of mean kids. Don’t spend every day of the school year in the pick-up or drop-off line. Walk your child into school once a week to reinforce a parental presence. Make it a priority to attend a school-sponsored field trip, and attend at least 2 class parties throughout the year. By engaging in conversation with other parents and teachers, parents make themselves “available” to discuss any problems that may be occurring. During this interaction, be on the look out for those mean parents that seem to have a bad attitude every time you encounter them and guide your child’s choice of friends accordingly.

Don’t be afraid to shake up your social circle. Parents have to be able to openly discuss the difficult issues that arise with each other without taking offense. Children are not emotionally mature enough to always act appropriately, but parents should be. Undoubtedly, problems can and will arise between children of the same social circle that need to be addressed by parents. The key is to deal with these problems directly with the parent whose child is involved and leave out the uninvolved families. Often times, parents are quick to complain to a third party, as they are worried about upsetting their “social circle”. Parents must stand together or a greater degree of division will occur between the children.

There are very important tips to share with children to keep them from either becoming a bully or becoming the victim of a bully. These critical messages are very simple and should be reinforced throughout the school year.\


Kids need to be able to RECOGNIZE what “mean” is: hurtful words, pushing/shoving/kicking, alienation, exclusion, facial reactions, etc…


Once a child recognizes this type of behavior, he/she needs to be given the okay to REPORT this behavior to a parent/teacher/counselor/principal, etc. Stop labeling children as “tattle-tales”. Tattle –tales save lives.


After an incident has been reported, it is now time to REACT. A child needs to know that the nicer they are to all children, the less chance they have of being bullied. Encourage your child to be the one that reaches out to the child who has no friends.


There are No Bullies Allowed in The Principle Gang, a six-book series that teaches kids (ages 4-11) three anti-bullying principles: 1) Don’t be mean, 2) Tell your teacher, and 3) Be a friend. Questions at the end of each book encourage kids and parents/caregivers to engage in thought-provoking conversations about family, friendship, community and fairness. Book 1, Don’t Judge a Lizard by His Scales, released in August, and Book 2, Wizard Lizard Rides the Subway, releases this month.

Dr. Dan and Bli Dugi have a combined 50 years experience as a physician and physician assistant team. With The Principle Gang series, they have created a way to connect with young children outside of the exam room. They live in Cuero, Texas, with their daughter, Emmy. Find them online at The Principle Gang.





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