Incredible Lessons Imbibed When Teenagers Travel

Incredible Lessons Imbibed When Teenagers Travel

There is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” – Virginia Woolf

Teenage children are rebellious, tenacious and passionate. I don’t want them any other way. But as a mother of three teenage kids, I crazily bounce from loving them to pieces to wanting to send them to the moon with smart phone and video games included! 

Raising teenagers is not for the faint of heart and parents must be ready to put on their thinking caps to empower their children while establishing clear rules and boundaries. I try, as a respectful mom, to explain the reasons behind every rule and consequence. I listen to my kids’ points of view and ideas.

However, there are situations in which negotiation isn’t an option and in which I don’t yield to intelligent and persistent youngsters. It will be done as I say: period! 

There are decisions and moments in which learning and being healthy are priorities and in these cases I refuse to negotiate with my teenagers and instead I proceed as a merciless dictator telling everybody what to do and how to do it. 

Traveling is one of them. 

Traveling encourages curiosity. Bali, Indonesia

Why do I strongly encourage my kids to travel?

It may sounds like a cliché but traveling is an eye-opening experience for children and adolescents alike. Represents an opportunity to grow and learn to make decisions on their own;  constitutes a meaningful way of interacting with siblings and parents while developing team-work skills. Traveling represents the chance to learn a new language and culture. 

Although, many times my teenage kiddos don’t see it that way. They don’t want to walk all those kilometers to visit another church (Europe is full of them), or don’t want to explore the rainforest in Indonesia because is unbearably humid and hot. They complain and beg to stay home or at the hotel.

That’s when I start giving orders to every one in sight asking them to carry their own luggage, fill their water bottles, walk, and enjoy because the benefits of traveling are too many to risk missing them for some teenage tantrum. 

Don’t get me wrong! Once we are on the road, ideas about places to visit and explore accordingly to my children’s interests are quickly written at the top of our to-do list. It is not about making their lives miserable. It is about taking control of the many possibilities they have to grow emotionally and physically and that teenage kids sometimes don’t see by themselves because of their short and inexperienced years. 

Discovering Barcelona with our three nomads. Spain

When it comes to learning and raising diversity awareness I feel the need to behave as a parent who guides and encourages. As guidance, many times you will need to establish priorities for your children even though these concerns don’t align with your teenager’s desires. 

How do teenagers benefit from traveling?

To travel with adolescents is an invaluable experience that brings many benefits to our children.  Some of these advantages refer to their core values, some others will enhance their understanding of diversity and cultures. From my family to yours, these are the amazing things I have seen my teenage kids to enjoy and learn during our adventures abroad:

Lessons Learnt When Teenagers Travel

  1. Learn how to save and budget money.

Once my kids are informed about our travel plans for the next weekend or holidays, they begin this unstoppable race to make money so they can buy souvenirs, comics, books, and clothing in our destination. It is so rewarding to see them plan their budgets, brain storming about selling the toys, gadgets and clothes they don’t use anymore, and also helping with extra chores at home… wow! They become so persistent and motivated. Traveling has given them without a doubt some of the tools needed to budget money and the importance of saving. 

http://localhost/raisingworld/2019/04/16/5-awesome-travel-hacks-when-traveling-with-your-teens/

Paris isn’t a cheap destination. Some serious budget planning needs to be done before traveling.

2. Empowerment of navigation skills. 

Teenagers like to be in control, they want their opinions and input to be taken into account and traveling allows that. In our family, we encourage our kiddos to suggest and create an itinerary and also to gather info about the transportation and costs of moving around our destination. Technology makes everything easier, so our children handle maps and coordinates with the apps they find more user friendly on their own cellphones. 

I must confess that at first they were so afraid to make mistakes… Afraid of getting lost! But now they feel more independent and capable of finding their way around without the help of mom and dad. And that my dear readers is priceless. I feel like I’m giving my children wings to fly away and be prepared to be successful abroad. 

travel teenagers

Finding her way around London, United Kingdom

3. Lowers the risk of youth depression. 

Millions of teenagers struggle with depression on a regular basis and it’s not uncommon for doctors to over prescribe medication without treating the reasons behind this behavior.  It is important to acknowledge that there are cases of clinical depression and other mental behaviors that need to be treated by specialists.

Let’s be clear, these facts and statistic are scary. Even more scarier is that many cases of teenage depression aren’t recognized by parents and caregivers.

Being on the road with your kiddos helps promote a deep connection between you and your offsprings and this connection is very important to lay the foundations for an emotionally healthy young adult. Additionally, traveling gives you the time to nurture your parent-child relationship, without distractions from work and school, and this allows you to recognize any signs of melancholy, chronic sadness, worries and problems that your child may suffer. 

Crazy moments but always connected as a family! Road trip to Lake Como, Italy

4. Break stereotypes and experience diversity. 

It is a fact that our children are constantly bombarded by the media with statements and generalizations about other cultures, their religion, traditions, and values. By traveling, you are exposing your young adults to diverse cultures and people so they can come with their own ideas and opinions.

For us it has been an eye-opening experience to hear our kids talk to each other about how they had certain biases against a specific ethnic identity, but after a trip they come back home with a totally different approach. When a teenage child travels overseas, he or she has the opportunity to break the often vicious cycle of prejudice and biases by experiencing diversity first hand. That’s awesome! To me it sounds like a more peaceful future for the world! 

 

http://localhost/raisingworld/2019/09/04/top-10-fun-loving-places-for-kids-in-india/

5. Discovering unknown abilities and personal traits. 

Traveling doesn’t go smoothly all of the time. Many times we need to reschedule train rides, change hotels, plan a new budget or itinerary or simply deal with illness in the middle of nowhere in a language we don’t speak.

However, traveling maximizes our problem solving skills to their maximum! Cool, isn’t it? But the benefits don’t end there. No. Let me tell you that we have discovered so many things about our children while traveling! Skills that our teenagers didn’t suspect they had… passions they didn’t want to pursue at first and now they love! 

During our last trip to France, my son started to compare some words from French to the Spanish language. He was excited to see that his knowledge of Spanish had helped him understand some ads, street signs, restaurant menus and so on in French. Then he surprised us with several translations using his mobile phone, his Spanish understanding and new discovered ability.

Bingo!

Our teenage son has found a new reason to pursue his career as an author and writer, adding some translations certificates along the way while being motivated by linguistics of Romance languages. He has a new passion now. Is it going to last forever? We don’t know. But being able to find and recognize the good inside themselves is for teenagers the key to a healthy self esteem and happy future. 

In conclusion, I invite you to give your teenage child the chance to see the world! Don’t fall for tantrums and NOs! Stay firm. You are giving them the gift of a lifetime. They will come back home to share with family and friends their experiences about people and their cultures. Instill in them the same curiosity about differences and appreciation of similarities that you have. Traveling will help your children to keep an open heart and become global citizens. 

So, where are you going next?

Don’t Forget to Grab Our Book

Traveling is the Biggest Learning Experience You Can Give Little Kids

Traveling is the Biggest Learning Experience You Can Give Little Kids

Dealing with all of the end of the school year craziness have had me wanting to escape to a remote island, just my husband and I, far away from the chaos of last minute meetings with teachers, exams and next school year’s supply shopping. I’m exhausted. And I want a break from my children.

Well, I wanted to have a brake from them, until I realized how many summers I have left with them. Then it hit me. There is not so much time left, not so many holidays to be enjoyed all together, new places to explore and new cultures to learn. 

I felt sad. Somehow empty. 

Could it be possible to feel the emptiness of our nest with the kids still in there?

I am the mother of three intelligent and overachiever teenagers. They keep me on my toes. They keep me crazy “running around with mismatched socks” busy with all the activities, outings and adolescence related questions they ask. We have a very strong relationship and I feel very proud of it. Thinking about all this makes me crave more time with them. And I’m talking about quality AND quantity time. Those moments when we are so closed to each other that I can hug and kiss them within milliseconds with no adverse reaction coming from them. My “hen” mom instincts kicking in. 

Due to all these feelings I decided to share with you my reasons why you should travel with your children NOW! Not later, not when they are older, but now!

Odense, Denmark

Every single trip made with your offsprings is a wonderful opportunity to create memories. You will be laying your family’s emotional foundations. Every minute spent far away from home would be a reminder of how being together is the most important thing well above familiar objects, rooms, and other material gadgets. 

Is it expensive? Yes, it is. 

Is it time consuming? Yes, it is. 

Is it a roller coaster of emotions? Yes, it is. 

Is it worth the try? YES, IT IS! 

So let’s get ready for this emotional ride, because I am here to inspire you! You will feel confused, you will believe some of my reason for traveling with kiddos, you won’t accept some of them. That’s just fine. My goal is to wake your curiosity up and encourage you to give traveling with children a try. 

Why should I travel with my kids when they are still little?

Learning at its best

Children learn by observing, hearing and doing. Traveling is a great opportunity to expose your children to interesting places, cultures, and languages. Also, traveling can be an effective tool to show your kids survival and organizational skills and develop self-care awareness. The best part? You don’t need to engage in a cross Atlantic trip to teach your kids about the beauty of this world. Outings near home are an exciting way to get to know our own traditions too, thus developing a more clear identity sense of themselves and their culture. 

travel really worth

Paris, France

Safe space to acquire different values and recognize rough spots that may need to be a little bit “polished”.

When traveling many of the familiar things we have at home aren’t there. We find ourselves surrounded by unknown situations that will activate our self preservation instinct. Our usual selves with our ever present values will be changed.

In our search for familiarity we will approach the differences with personal traits we didn’t know we had. As a family we will develop skill sets triggered by our trips and that will stay with our children forever. Traveling prepares them for unknown situations, challenging scenarios and distinct people. 

Additionally, traveling with kids will show a side of us and them we didn’t think possible or existent. Our children are going to discover many things about themselves, they will experience irritability and tiredness, and they will learn to go on even when their energy level is very low. Traveling makes people resilient and children aren’t the exception. 

Morrocoy, Venezuela

Team building for the future

One thing that we have learned during our years traveling the world is that it takes a whole crew to make a trip happen. Since the planning and booking, family members are committed to collaborate with each other to create the most amazing itinerary.

Our kids sell some of their toys and clothing at the local flea market to have some extra cash to spend during the trip. They learn about budgeting and calculating costs. We purposely involve them in every step of the adventure. 

While traveling we also work as a team to stay safe and healthy. We look after each other’s belongings and are always willing to provide a comfy shoulder for sleepy heads on the train or plane. Together we take pictures, gather info and learn about the culture. Back home we put all of our photographs together (taken with our mobile phones) and create beautiful albums and videos to always remember our adventures.

This is an amazing chance to praise the strengths of your little ones as well. Highlight those personal traits that make them unique and valuable. 

Appreciating positive outcomes and learning from negative situations 

Not every hotel is clean. Not every museum is interesting and not every beach is as blue as the ones we see online. Disastrous trips are a reality. By traveling with our children, we teach them to be grateful for trips where everything works just fine, from the beauty of the surrounding nature to the smooth service of a under developed country’s transportation system.

But what happens when the ideal vacation turns into a nightmare? 

Three years ago we went to Brussels for a long weekend. We arrived to enjoy the most delicious chocolate in the world and the most crispy french fries ever! After spending the whole day exploring we decided to go to our hotel to get a good night sleep.

Our nightmare started. The charming hotel we booked based on the pictures and reviews from a well known travel website, turned out to be a whole on the wall located in a very shady neighborhood where the words prostitution and drug dealing weren’t that foreign. 

Immediately we went from “singing in the car” happy tourists to scared American family in dangerous territory. Don’t laugh! Don’t roll your eyes either. It was scary! But once the shock of the moment was gone, a very united and synchronized family started looking for solutions. After phoning and browsing online, we ended up sleeping in a beautiful hotel close to the border in the German side. It wasn’t cheap, but it was worthy.

This experience helped our children to realized that sometimes things don’t go our way. And that’s fine! We just need to clean the scratch on the knee and keep going. Better times will come for sure. 

You complaint about the challenges of being a parent. Aren’t you willing to enjoy the bright side? What makes travel really worth it all?

Parenting is similar to Jedi training and life. It presents us with both a bright side and a dark (sometimes very obscure) side. Usually we hear and read about the many difficulties to be a parent. We complaint loudly about it. I assure you that traveling, even with the challenging moments, is a great time to see and experience the sublimely thing that are our children.

Seeing them swimming, running, exploring, growing is so rewarding. All of the sudden everything makes sense, including those sleepless nights, hours of lessons and values we impart. Being away from home gives families the opportunity to better appreciate each other in a more relaxing setting.

To us, my husband and I, has been the best way to get to know our offsprings and see the results of our dedication and their personalities. We wouldn’t change traveling with our kids for anything in the world. 

In conclusion, my tears due to a feeling of soon-to-be empty nest have disappeared. It took me a while but soon enough I was already checking online the prices of plane tickets to travel with my pack. I am willing to enjoy every minute with my kids, spending time to hug them overseas and show them the world that surrounds us. 

Are you willing to give yourselves that opportunity?

You won’t regret it! 

30 % Discount This Summer.
Grab it for a Quick Summer Read Now!

 

Traveling is the Biggest Learning Experience You Can Give Little Kids

The Beauty of Recognizing Our Mistakes as Parents

The Beauty of Recognizing Our Mistakes as Parents

To say that my son is a perfectionist would be a huge understatement. He does not like making mistakes. And the idea of doing something wrong paralyzes him so much that he won’t even try something unless he knows that he can do it.

So I do what every mom is supposed to do, keep reminding him that it’s OK to make mistakes and that learning from our mistakes helps us all grow our brain power.

On one such day of advice-giving, he looks up at me and says, “If I make a mistake, you get angry.” That was the day that I realized that his extreme reactions came from my unrealistic expectations.

That was also the day I understood that Moms can and often make mistakes.

The Beauty of Recognizing Our Mistakes as Parents

Observe Yourself

So I started observing my behavior around my son. Every time he made a mistake, frown lines would appear on my face as if by magic. If the mistakes continued despite repeated instructions, my soft voice got louder. In a few days, I observed myself losing control more often than I would have liked. It felt as if someone else resided in me and she would take charge every once in a while.

Then, I had to follow up with the real work of catching myself while making those mistakes. It is so much easier to catch something once it has already been done. After-all, hindsight is always 20/20. The real challenge was to identify it right before it started.

So, every time that I felt I was losing control, I would count to ten, or start chanting Om. I also kept reminding myself that I was dealing with another human being, a little one who had his own share of feelings and emotions. And the little child’s expressions as he looked at my face was a bit too much to bear.

Shift Your Perspective

It took all my positive spirit to make myself understand that making mistakes was not the end of the world. I kept reminding myself and forgiving myself every time I lost control of my emotions. It took quite a bit of self-talk to come to terms with this side of me.

I even compared myself to the great Kramer in one episode of Seinfeld, where he decides not to talk. The guy would start talking and then in the middle of his speech, remember his oath, and state, “And it starts now!” That became my catch-phrase, my new mantra …It starts now!

But the most important thing that I did was to make a point of sharing with my son that getting angry over making mistakes was a huge blunder in itself. He had a huge grin on his face when he understood that I was the one in trouble for a change and that he got to “forgive” me.

And they live happily-ever-after

The day finally came, when both of our hard work gave us some tangible result. My son and I were singing a song at a pitch of G sharp.

As the song progressed, my son shook his head from time to time, even as he continued to sing. By the end of the song, I caught on to the fact that we were both singing in different pitches. I had gone down to F sharp which was not how we started the song.

I knew that all my efforts to teach him the value of making mistakes were not wasted when my little one waited for the song to get over, each of us singing in different pitches, and then exclaimed, “Mom you made a mistake … but that’s alright, you still sang well!”

Change in our children begins with us.

 

Empower Your Mom Friends One-Click at a Time!

Empower Your Mom Friends One-Click at a Time!

“All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” Abraham Lincoln

Raising global children has become a mission many mothers have dared to take over in order to empower their kids with the knowledge and tools needed to succeed in a globalized world. It is such a sweet and time consuming endeavor, but worthy without a doubt.

I am one of those “mamás” working on preparing her children for a more peaceful and diversity aware future. And I’m loving it! 

But lately there is a question “living” inside my head that it refuses to move away. 

Who empowers those relentlessly active moms? 

How do we make sure that moms around the world receive enough support to continue the beautiful path of raising global children? 

Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute, says in his book The Little Book of Lykke that “there is a four-point happiness gap between the happiest and unhappiest countries, and three points of these four are explained by six factors: togetherness or sense of community, money, health, freedom, trust and kindness.” How do we work together as women for women to procure these six relevant factors? 

Women empowered by social media. Photo credits for Pexels.com

After many thoughts and relentless nights, I have come to the conclusion that at this moment my most powerful “weapon” to promote happy moms is the Internet and social media contacts. If you are an “online active” mom that is registered in different social media outlets, then you are armed with this effective tool as well! 

Social Media Networking 

You only have to look at the rise of female influencers to see women calling the shots, changing the global conversation, and creating new careers and job opportunities from behind the screen of their computers, tablets or mobile devices.

Whether via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instragram, social media provides ready communities for women around the world. These outlets represent a great opportunity to “meet” other people with the same professional goals and to promote our ideas, products, and services in a fast and very low-cost way. 

Social Media Networking provides togetherness for women who have previously felt marginalized and powerless, being this the case of many moms in different countries. Let’s not forget that due to cultural or religious beliefs, expat assignments, trailing spouses, and motherhood, many moms find themselves isolated raising their children with no support of family and friends. 

“Social media outlets help mothers find a tribe and amplify their voice”. – Flor García

Empowering one click at a time 

Empowerment is a construct that links individual strengths, competencies, natural helping systems and proactive behaviors to social change. When we share with our Instagram audience the profile of other moms and their entrepreneurial skills, small businesses, ideas, and services we are becoming the voice and marketing solution for those whose experience could improve the life of many. Employers, recruiters and other entrepreneurs could benefit greatly from any of the talents offered by many moms online. 

How much does it cost to you to share somebody else’s business on Instagram? Think about it! And the pros for that mom with a new idea could be endless. Imagine how amazing to be an agent of change!

Promoting online can make the difference between a desperate mom and an emotionally healthy one. Which one do you think will have more energy to focus on raising world children? Money isn’t happiness, but it helps big time to focus our attention on what really matters. 

Therefore, an empowered mom producing income would be a great addition to the cultural awareness equation we want to promote at home. Also, it isn’t all about money, remember that empowerment suggest that individuals work with others (sense of community) to achieve goals (trust), efforts to gain access to resources (health and education) and some critical understanding of the socio-political environment of the place where we live (integration). 

Workshops, Webinars and Learning 

Many studies show that social media is contributing to women empowerment but there is still virtual gender gap due to lack of literacy, cybercrime and cyber bullying so many women are not able to fully utilize the new space and explore the many benefits of the World Wide Web. 

Here is when our expertise and academic knowledge play a relevant role in the fight for women literacy and independence. Have you thought about how much a mom can benefit from the knowledge and experience of other women? If you are an expert on areas such as entrepreneurship, cultural integration, diverse communications, arts, languages and web resources, the amazing power you have to enhance the lives of many moms is indescribable! 


Dare to offer online seminars or workshops, do it for a low-cost or free. Count it as your good deed for the month… or year. Jump into the wagon of helping other women. Become that mom willing to be an activist from the comfort of your own home. Generate awareness for social transformation favorable to empowerment of women, specially moms around the world. 

In conclusion, I leave these lines feeling a little bit better. I know that many of the women reading this article will find their way to support other women using social media and other online hubs as their tool for change. Please, don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions. Empowering women online has been proved to be a powerful vehicle for raising women’s rights awareness and income equality for many moms around the world. 

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi
Parenting Tips for Parents with Large Age Gaps Between Kids

Parenting Tips for Parents with Large Age Gaps Between Kids

When I thought about how I wanted my family to be, when I was younger, I never thought I’d have a 15-year gap between my oldest and second children. My children are 20, 5, 3, and 2. While I love how things shaped up (it took me a while to meet someone I wanted to settle down with and have more kids with), having a large gap between kids has presented a bit of a challenge. My big kid has a completely different set of needs than my younger kids do, and because the younger kids need a lot more hands-on from mom, as much as I hate to admit it, my older kid can get lost in the shuffle of everyday life.

While my 20 year old is crushing it at college now, there’s still a good bit of balancing that goes on to keep family life running smoothly – and to make sure no one is left out. Without further ado, here are things I found that work well for parenting when there’s a large age gap.

Set aside time to focus on the older child(ren).

I can’t stress enough how much I cherished the time last summer with my oldest. We went on a daily walk/run for all of July and August. That provided my son with an opportunity to have his mom all to himself for the duration of the outing, without interruptions from younger siblings. This meant he could talk about all the things that were bothering him, important to him, etc. It was great.

We also take him out to dinner – just him – at least a few times while he’s home in the fall and winter. It’s not really possible to do that during the summer due, but we do that whenever we can – and it’s really nice to have that time.

Don’t make your older child your designated babysitter.

I know. I’m guilty of this from time to time, but last summer we compensated him for the time he spent watching his siblings. It’s really easy to get caught up in the convenience of having a child old enough to babysit at home. Be sure that you’re not relegating your child to this role.

parenting tips for parents with large age gaps between kids

Be aware that even with big gaps between kids, sibling rivalries can exist.

Growing up, there were 14 years between my older brother and myself. He grew up in a different household, so he always felt like my younger brother and I were the “real family” and he was an outsider. It’s so important, especially if there is a new relationship involved, to protect your child from feeling “cast aside” in favor of younger siblings. I was actually pretty shocked when my big kid was picking on his younger sister and taking her toys – who knew you had to worry about a teenager snagging a toddler’s toys?

Let your older child be a big sibling and mentor to your younger child.

In fact, encourage a mentor ship role. Life is hard, and your older child has navigated a big part of it. Let him or her give your younger child tips – whether it’s on avoiding getting in trouble with mom & dad or it’s sharing the best ways to learn to ride a bike. The magic of this is that it will foster closeness between siblings – even when one sibling is out of the house already.

Maintain a sense of flexibility.

Kids, particularly the 5 and under crowd, bring a certain amount of chaos into the picture. Have a backup plan for family activities, and try to plan them when best for the energy levels, hunger levels, and moods of the younger child(ren). You won’t regret it.

Support your older child’s activities and interests.

This may mean hiring a sitter for the evening. Show up to games, meets, plays, recitals, etc. It’s worth it. Again, the last thing that as a parent I ever wanted to do was to have my oldest feel he’d been replaced by his younger siblings. It isn’t always possible for us to get up to his college to see him perform, but in high school, we made sure to go to every home game or meet and every play he was involved in.

Do you have children with a large age gap? Share your experiences in the comments. Read more about raising children here.

 

Recognizing & Helping Your Boys Through Eating Disorders

Recognizing & Helping Your Boys Through Eating Disorders

Eating Disorders usually are only ever  discussed or thought of in terms of adolescent girls. Boys were certain not discussed as having eating disorders at school, or even thereafter! Actually, come to think of it, anything to do with mental illness is not openly discussed anywhere!

Imagine the surprise when the doctor says “Does he have a cognitive condition relating to this? (“This” being a continuous battle to not be underweight – which we are not mentioning with the child in the room.)

So – let’s see some statistics… The first thing Google shows is the “Australian Butterfly Foundation – support for eating disorders & body image issues.

The statistics shown as follows:

• 1 in 24 Australians has an eating disorder (that is approximately 1 million people).

Then, the more surprising statistic…

• 30% of Australians with an eating disorder are male!

What? Boys have eating issues too?
Yes, that’s what it means! Boys have eating issues too!

Ok, as the dust settles on that slightly perturbing fact… slowly sense and reality are sinking in!

Hindsight is an interesting thing! Especially when anxiety related complaints are concerned. Living in the moment it is sometimes difficult to make the connection. No one wants to mention it!

Recognizing & Helping Your Boys Through Eating Disorders
Now for the tricky part:

The signs of anxiety fueled food issues are obvious if you know what to look for.

As a Toddler – A referral to the Occupational Therapist for food aversion and Food Jags! After the allergist has given you a list of foods to avoid.  Now you know what to avoid but a small boy just wants no food! Several months of supervision from pediatrician, nurse and OT and perhaps now the end is nigh!

As a preschooler – Mum returned to study/work and a small boy enjoys his day at preschool painting, coloring, playing in the sand pit. Oh, no! Someone forgot you must wear your shoes in the sand pit as you don’t like the feel on your feet. Anxiety up! Pumpkin soup for lunch and you just want a cheese sandwich which no one will make for you. No eaten lunch and it fails to be documented. No eaten lunch any day you attend and No one thinks to tell dad and he does not know to ask.  He just assumes you have eaten and gives you afternoon tea (cheese sandwiches). You just want to be home! Weight loss begins to appear. It is put down to a growth spurt. Dietitian advice very active child needs more dinner and breakfast.

Kindergarten – new people, new routine, and new baby brother. Anxiety increases and eating issues recommence. Kindergarten teacher makes a rule one sandwich eaten before going outside for lunch play. Hot chocolate and protein powder added to breakfast. Again doctor discusses appropriate eating and healthily growth rates.

Grade 2 – enter a dyslexia, dysgraphia and formal anxiety diagnosis.  Finally, seven years later a plan covering understanding allergies, asthma and how they affect eating habits, also how they are treated, in child friendly language. Anxiety reduces to normal. Weight and height meet acceptable growth rates, or just!

Now – a plan is in place to meet all future contingencies… except the wicked vomiting bug that, 3 years later has the child off the weight chart again. Leaving on the bus in the morning happy and well, and returning as white as a sheet with his dad carrying him. He collapsed vomiting at school. They said he needs to see a doctor. His dad says “Do they think i dont feed him, or something?” New school, new language, anxiety high and again he is struggling to eat. The difference is this time he knows that he must eat!

Visiting the doctor my husband is worried. I am not worried about the doctor we just need help to get this bug gone so.we can establish his health. I know what I need from this new country and new doctor. Thankfully the doctor understands me when I say “This is not our first rodeo! We have done this at 3, 4.5, and 7 years old too. He cannot shake the tummy bug. 4 days and he is still unwell. Then we have a fairly extensive plan for healthy weight gains.


The doctor orders the right test and guesses the medicine needed from our previous experiences. He correctly identified the bug and medication required so we don’t need to change it.  Ordering a stronger dose of vitamins to help him on his way to being healthy again.

So, now we know! Boys have eating issues too! 💕

In Australia, if you or some you know has an issue with eating please contact your doctor or call the helpline.

Australian Butterfly Foundation – support for eating disorders & body image issues , https://www.thebutterflyfoundation.org.au/our-services/helpline/
Australia 1800 334 673

Lifeline available 24/7,Telephone 13 11 14
https://www.lifeline.org.au/about-lifeline/contact-us

You can read more about how to help your child with a confident body image here.

Books About Bullying for Elementary Age Kids

Books About Bullying for Elementary Age Kids

Bullying can be tricky. There is just a fine line between one off meanness and consistent bullying. In my book, Strong Roots Have No Fear, I have spoken in length about step by step actionable steps you can provide your child. One of the most important ones is to give them scenarios and how to handle them. What better way than books to show them stories of every day children facing the same in a real or magical world.

The Shrimp and the Bully

I picked up this book on a whim and what a wonderful resource this is for kids who are small in height or feel they are different.

Bucket Dippers and Lids

This is a wonderful book for 6-8 year olds, to teach them the difference between someone who fills another’s bucket with kindness or reduces another’s happiness.

Berenstain Brothers – Stand Up to Bullying

If your kids like Berestain Brothers like mine do, you will love this look through their eyes. My boy used to love the read.

Why Bully Me

This is to show all friends come in different sizes and we need to empathize with everyone.


Juice Box Bully

One of the best things kids can do to combat bullying is to stand up for one another, which is exactly what The Juice Box Bully is about. Students will learn how to have each other’s backs instead of doing nothing when they witness bully confrontation.

Hundred Dresses

Style is a BIG issue for multicultural kids. It addresses a classmate who is ridiculed by bullies for wearing the same dress to school every day, while other students stand by and do nothing to help.

Bully

It is a perfect read for our increasingly digitally-savvy students. You want your kids to know how to handle cliques and digital pushing around.

Wonder

I cannot recommend this book enough for little kids aged 6-8. It is so important to see the strength of every kid. August was born with a facial deformity so he’ll have to convince his classmates that he is normal, just like them, despite his appearances.

I Am Enough

Before anything, we need our kids to know that they are enough. How they are, in every way they are.

Llamma Llamma – The Goat Bully

Such a great book for tiny little ones, to show they what to do when bullies trouble them.

Stand in My Shoes

This book by the author of The Juice Box Bully helps children learn the meaning of empathy. Emily’s big sister explains that empathy is the ability to notice what other people feel. Emily wonders if having empathy really makes a difference, and puts it to the test! She suddenly has a whole new perspective on people.

Just Kidding

This is a problem even adults face. D.J.’s friend Vince has a habit of teasing heavily and then trying to brush it off with a “Just kidding!” D.J. worries that protesting will make it appear like he can’t take a joke. This book helps with a positive solution.

Bully Busters and Beyond

This book is a wonderful resource for 9 things you can empower your child with towards self-confidence, self-esteem, and strength of character.

Seeds and Trees

This is a sweet little book to talk to kid about the importance of words and the effect they have.

Toot Toot !

I read this book to my both my kids and we were so lucky to find it. It is a great way to show kids that EVERY single child has the power within to make a difference. My daughter still loves it.

Tales from the Bully Box

Real life stories that can make an impact as well. The book is really a collection of short stories about bullying from students of all walks of life. The subject matter is diverse and the book also includes discussion questions.

Strictly No Elephants

When a boy’s pet elephant is explicitly excluded from joining the local Pet Club, the boy sets out to show the other animals the error in their ways. A beautiful way to show kids the importance of inclusion.

A Glass Full of Rumors

We have all faced it. Which is why it is so important to share with kids early the importance of defining and stopping a rumor in it’s tracks.

My Princess Boy

It is a story of compassion, acceptance, unconditional parental love and friendship. We like it because rather than avoid a tricky subject.

There’s Roti in my Lunch Box

An important book for children living in a multicultural world, where other’s have different customs. Talk to your children about this .

For scenarios that you may come across in daily life and real world practical tips for dealing with bullying, what to do in case that happens and ensuring your child does NOT become a bully themselves, you can buy use the below book for your family.

If you found this resource useful, make sure to check out our post for books that help in empowering children early with a confident mindset.

Another great resource is https://www.drugrehab.com/guides/bullying/

Books to Raise Awareness About Bullying in Elementary Age Kids

Accepting the Collective Historical Baggage of Our Cultures

Accepting the Collective Historical Baggage of Our Cultures

Meet Johanna C Castillo-Rodrigez, a lover of nature, culture, and languages, backyard gardener, raising multicultural and multilingual children. Supporting families in South Florida to have families that are conscious, multicultural and green!! Proud Latina Mom!

  1. Tell us a little about yourself and your family.

My name is Johana. I am Mama Tortuga. I was born and raised in Colombia. My mother had to immigrate after my father died. After that, I stayed with my grandparents for 6 years until when she was able to bring me to the United States. Here I met my partner for life, Francisco from Honduras. We decided after having a relationship for 5 years, we got married!!

Now, we are raising two children in a completely different culture and style of life from the one both of us were raised in. We love nature and simple living. We believe in living a life where we can be respectful with everyone and protect nature. We also believe in the power of community and the power of being ourselves!

  1.   Which cities have your lived in/ visited in your lifetime? Which is your favorite?

I really like where we live right now, which is South Florida, US. When I was a child I lived in a place called Aguazul which is in the East part of Colombia, a zone called “Los Llanos”. But I love mountains. I grew up surrounded by mountains in a city called Bogota.

  1.   What do brought you to what you do?

Definitely, being a mother. When I became a mother, that made me think about the kind of world I wanted to have for them and the community I wanted to have. Also, raising them to be multilingual citizens of the world!

  1.   What is one aspect in raising multicultural children do we need to be MOST aware of .

At this time, we need to grasp the historical baggage of our cultures, countries of origin and the dangerous trend of being oblivious to it. I believe that in not acknowledging our problems we are bind to repeat toxic patterns. Raising multicultural children in an increasing global society makes many people that haven’t heal and grasp those historical fears and pains, very afraid of others. Sadly, the white supremacists agenda masked by nationalistic points of view is really putting all of us in danger. It is a worldwide spread disease that we need to address.

Accepting the Historical Baggage of Our Cultures

  1.   What is one personal challenge you have overcome growing up?

Fear. I grew up in a very violent time and my family was constantly full of fear. I am choosing to live a life free of fear to make my own decisions and also allow my children to do the same regardless the circumstances.

  1.   Share with us two parenting hacks that have made life easy.

A relationship with your child is the most important ever. We can’t have a healthy relationship with our children if we don’t heal ourselves. That is one thing we need to work on every day. Think about it as a garden. You need to water it every day.

  1.  What projects are you working on next?

I am continually working on many local projects of activism and support to parents and families in my community. Right now, I am supporting different initiatives to support immigrants and refugees in Palm Beach County and also, supporting multilingualism in my community. Also, raising the consciousness around human and nature rights.

Also, right now, I am having a series of IG Lives, presenting community friends from around the world that are making a positive change in the world! #mamatortugacommunityfriends

  1.  What is one thing piece of advice you would give to children?

Be yourself and nature is your best friend. Learn from nature and play!

  1.  Tell us three things that are on your bucket list?

Visit Japan and get into an onsen. Watch the Aurora Borealis. See a world of World Peace.

  1.  What 3 books/movies  would you say changed your life?

This is a hard one!! But 3 of my favorite all time books:

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Pax by Sara Pennypacker and The Book of Forgiving by Desmond Tutu and his daughter, Mpho Tutu.

Movies: On the Way to School, The Embrace of the Snake, Ready Player One, 50 First Dates.

  1. Do you have any freebies for our readers?

Yes!! I have a series of Latinamerican Women that Transcended, study guide in English and Spanish https://www.mamatortuga.org/latinamerican-women-series

You can follow Johanna here —

Would You Celebrate with a Fiver Birthday Party Theme?

Would You Celebrate with a Fiver Birthday Party Theme?

My daughter turns 5 this year. As birthday milestones go, this is certainly a big one. For her and us. Any parent can attest to the bittersweet moment when a child starts Kindergarten. Those first steps towards the bus, the new back pack and that last wave goodbye. Heart wrenching but so monumental in their meaning. I went online to find the best ways I can make her birthday memorable and among the many themes, came across the Fiver birthday party. For a 5-year-old, the name seemed like the perfect fit till I went on to read what it was.

Now, at the face it is a brilliant idea.

Every child coming to the party is requested to bring a $5 bill in a card and then the birthday kid gets to combine the total towards a larger present that they desire. The invitations would read something like, So-and-so is having a “fiver” party! He wants to save up for a [insert gift here], so if you wish to send a gift, please include $5 in a card instead!” or something along those lines; worded respectfully with no pressure to include any gift at all.


I certainly get why this would be a great option for the many celebrations we host for our kids.

A Rewarding Option 

With say, 8-20 kids in a class if you get invited to even 10 parties it reduces the overall cost. Even if you spend $10 per child, not counting the many other expenses of parties throughout the year this becomes cost effective. Not to mention the fact that the money goes towards something the kid really wants. 

Convenient

We all know how hard it is to go to the store and buy a gift for someone. We never know what the kid would like, and then end up spending a good amount of time pondering over the various options. Even if we know what the child likes, sometimes we do not know what they already have. Other times, we fear disappointment.

Reduces Clutter

Yes! A lot of presents translate into a lot of “stuff” around the house which eventually becomes a headache for us as we have to clean up daily after play or have to figure out where in the closets to place them.

Makes the Birthday Kid More Thoughtful

In the material world we live in, this may be a great idea where the child is not focused on the presents but on having a good time. Also, they would need to put in a lot of thought into what toy they most want. Or worry about who brought want.

Reduces Disappointment

Let’s face it. Sometimes those thoughtless, last minute or re gifted gifts can be downright hurtful, not just to the kid but to the parents as well. The disappointment is hard to witness.

 

I do have the other side of the coin to present on this subject though. My take on how traditional gifts help our children grow –

Exploring New Paths

When my son was little, I was dreading Legos. Having heard the horror stories of how much of a mess they make, they were the last thing on my mind when I hosted his 4th birthday party. One of our very good friends gifted him a Lego building box. My son took to it immediately and became passionate about creating. He went onto building vehicles, towers, cities, fidget spinners and now is into Lego animation. Last month he created a video for the school’s Reflections competition and won third place in it. All because someone gave an unexpected gift on his birthday. Over the years, he has received dinosaur building kits, robots, books etc that I as a parent would never have thought of and they all contributed to his mental development.


There is an Excitement in Opening Presents  

Even I as an adult love the excitement of removing the crinkled paper and seeing a thoughtful gift inside, however less in material value. I have pictures of both kids surrounded by their presents every year. That smile before and as they open them is precious.

Thoughtful Gifts Build Relationships 

Every cherished gift has made stronger the foundation of the relationships for every child remembers that one gift that meant the world to them. My kids have even kept most of the hand made cards they have received.

Giving with Meaning

I used to run to the store and grab a gift while the kids were in school. I thought it would avoid the drama of them crying for it. Recently though, I have started taking them to the store to pick out gifts for their friends. The reasoning they put into what they get for their friends is heartwarming.

Inner Growth

Yes, there is disappointment when you see someone put next to no thought in what they gift you. It is still a wonderful learning opportunity for our children to accept what they get with grace and humility. Also, it is our job to shift the focus away from the presents and onto the present. Taking ownership of their “stuff” and clearing things up is a big part of kids’ personal development.

The cons of a fiver party can certainly not beat the convenience and cost effectiveness the theme provides. But it is certainly something to ponder over. Maybe that is where balance comes into play. Like how some years we have birthdays that are over the top in their extravagance and other days it’s just us, pizza or a memorable trip somewhere.

Don’t forget to get your copy of our Best selling book Strong Roots Have No Fear! Empower your child to be empowered in their values with a global outlook.

20 Unique Children's Picture Books For a Confident Mindset

20 Unique Children’s Picture Books For a Confident Mindset

I love reading. It’s a HUGE part of my life. And in the desire for my children to be readers I buy books constantly and we read every single chance we get. Not just before bed time. In fact rarely then. But having built two readers, I know for a fact it takes enticing books to get them interested in reading.

Most importantly, it is important that we read books that help them build on the many values that we need them to have in order to grow to be thought leaders.

Below are some of the books I have found to be incredible in shifting my child’s perspective. Trust me. You won’t regret any of them!

Where Am I From?

Every child needs to know this in order to be aware of their surroundings. The question “Where are you from?” is a complex one in this multicultural environment.

The Jelly Donut Experience

Let’s talk about kindness. This book provides a wonderful way to be kind to those around us in the simplest of ways.

Guess How Much I Love You

It all begins with love. Let your child know how much you love them with this amazing book that talks about how much a parent loves their child.

Charlotte and the Quiet Place

We breathe along with Charlotte, bring calm in your child’s life with these words. My little ones can’t help but calm down as a result.

I am Enough

To be content with oneself is an important trait to develop. To be happy with our flaws and strengths equally. An important life lesson here.

Horrible Bear

This picture book teaches kids how to looks at the positive in others while also making you giggle.

Princess in Training

For little girls and boys to see how amazing it can be to learn about being a princess in a unique way.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee

Being a friend means being there for someone else when they need it. A beautiful book.

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon

Prepare your child to be bully free.

Little Giraffe’s Big Idea

Every person has different qualities and different ideas and not everyone can fit in. And yet it is okay to be inclusive of everything. A beautiful book of this big idea.

I Believe In You

Let your child know that YOU know that they are amazing and can do everything they put their heart to. I got this book for my son when we were learning cycling and it was a lovely re-iteration.

I’m So Thankful

Being happy means being grateful. This book is a fun little way to help children see the beauty in every day.

The Most Magnificent Thing

Not everything you do is going to be perfect, but everything you do leads you up  to that magnificent thing.

Not for Me, Please!

Encourage your child to be world wise by being environment friendly.

Thankful For God’s Blessings

Always Anjali

What If Everybody Did that?

This is a great series to teach kids why it is important to do OUR part, even when others are not.

You Can Face Your Fears

Yes, we all get scared. And yes, we can try our best to overcome book. A book to build persistence.

Listening to My Body

So important to pay attention to your feelings and what your body is telling you. A wonderful book to develop coping skills.

BONUS BOOK FOR PARENTS

Want your child to have strong values? Want to learn what to do other than reading to your child? Here is the book that gives you real world ways to helping your child be self confident, rooted while helping them develop a global mindset.

Strong Roots Have No Fear : Empower Your Child to Thrive in Our Multicultural World!

20 Unique Children's Picture Books for a Confident Mindset

10 Steps to Help Your Child Adjust to Having Glasses

10 Steps to Help Your Child Adjust to Having Glasses

When your little one gets diagnosed with glasses it is daunting. A feeling of dread creeps into your heart  and a million thoughts go through your mind.

Will they be able to adjust at school? How will your little ones handle this change? Will they be bullied for being different? Will they be able to handle a piece of equipment with them constantly? Will they be able to see themselves like they were? What did you do wrong that they got glasses so soon? Is there any way you can help them get rid of these? 

Not for long mind you. Within a few hours your heart and brain align and you understand that this is not really a big deal. Specially if you come from a family of people with glasses or astigmatism which is known to be hereditary . Heart in hearts you knew this was inevitable but you just weren’t prepared for it to happen so early in their lives.

The thing that we forget is that with technology so advanced, such cases are being caught earlier than before. Also, that it is better that they get support for their eyes so that they are better equipped to see the world. Besides, it is only a matter of time before they will grow up and either get lenses or Lasik and this point will be moot. Also, wearing glasses in many cases can be used as an enhancement and one can just remove them before clicking pictures or going swimming.

I have shared our personal experience here, but I wanted to go ahead and break down step by step the ways in which you can help your child adjust to this life altering event.

Prepare Them Before Eye Test

This depends on the child. But I find a well informed child (as they are naturally curious) helps them understand why it is important to sit still and give the right answers. My son found it very difficult to focus on where the doctor needed him to. Knowing that his persistence was important for the end result encouraged him to have patience.


Also, don’t be overly optimistic. Prepare them for the possibility that when you leave the eye institute they may have a cool device that gives them the power to see better.

Encourage Them During The Test

Children squirm. Incessantly. You will need to ensure to have your the bucket of your patience fully stocked as they keep trying to get out of the contraption. I must have had to tell him a million ties to “stay in his seat” and “give the right answer”.

 

Help Them Process Their Feelings

The minute the doctor said, “He will have to wear glasses full time” , my son face fell and he was close to tears. Negating and saying that ,”It’s okay. It’s fine. ” won’t help anyone. Let them understand and accept this new truth. Explain to them in the simplest terms using their favorite characters or interests how this new device helps them enhance their life.

Pick Out Something Cool

Whatever “amazing” is for them currently. Let them enjoy the process of picking out glasses that are their favorite color. They will grow an attachment to the glasses only when they enjoy owning them. Even if the glasses may not be your favorite, help the little ones guide you to their choice.


Ensure the glasses are durable and inexpensive. Get the year warranty for they are sure to damage the first pair of glasses they get within the first year.

Milestone Day of Fun

The day you get your glasses should be a day they remember forever. Make it a day full of things to do. Their favorite outing, their favorite food and getting their glasses. We even got my son a toy but that was because he braved this unwanted change really well and we wanted to reward his positive outlook.

Compliment Them (Within Reason)

Make sure you, your family and friends make a happy deal of them getting glasses. Have them compliment your child on how wonderful they look with them. One of my neighbor’s very kindly told my son, ” Oh! You look so smart with your glasses. ” and that’s a comment he remembers to this day believing they make him smart. Haha.

But be careful not to over comment. My daughter was so worried about her friends not being able to recognize her with her glasses on. When everyone started complimenting her, she started avoiding wearing them because she thought people couldn’t see anything else about her.

Associate it with Someone They Look Up to

My husband and I both wear glasses and eventually now my son loves that fact that he has this in common with us. When children see a role model they adore wearing something similar they enjoy the change all the more (brands use this concept often 🙂 ). On the first day, the only way my son stopped getting upset was when we reminded him that Superman wore glasses too.

Make It an Advantage

In the initial days, we explained to our son that his glasses are give his eyes super power. After understanding he went on to explain this to his other friends who also got diagnosed with glasses, which as endearing. Educating kids about the ways something is useful for them, helps them educate others or deal with comments when they do come.

Explain How To Care for Glasses

Like any tool, it is important to explain to them how to care for this new addition.

  • Clean them with soft microfiber cloth.
  • Keep said cloths handy.
  • Wash the glasses often.
  • Always keep them in the same place every time they take them off.
  • Take them off only when scared of them getting broken in physical activities.

Be Persistent

It is not easy for a child to constantly wear glasses. They find it uncomfortable and inconvenient. Most importantly, they feel scared of losing them. But once again, you have to reiterate that these are a tool to be used to ensure they see the world more clearly. A tool they need to keep close and be using all the time. It takes a lot of reminding before they get into the habit of wearing glasses.

Have your children or anyone around you gotten glasses yet? What do you think helped them adjust to them? Comment below and share your experience.

 

Sharing is caring. Make sure you tell your friends about these important ways to help their child.

What do you do when you find out your child has glasses? Here are 10 things to keep in mind when helping your child adjust.

We Need to Teach Kids to Stay Connected to Family

We Need to Teach Kids to Stay Connected to Family

The Webster dictionary has many definitions for the word “family”. For me the one that held true for most of my life is “Family: a group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head”.

As a kid I was not comfortable being alone in the house for long periods. Though it mostly never came to that as there was always family around. Many a times I tried to get over this seemingly silly hang up but then consoled myself I don’t really need to as we had a full house.

Fast forward 30 years and I’m no longer the sacredly kid that I was. You see, now there is no way I can avoid being alone at home and even look forward to some alone time.

In a few sentences this is the evolution of Indian families over the years. This transition might be common across many cultures but few would have been as drastic as ours has been.

What does family mean to you? It does not matter how close you are to yours but we need to go that extra mile to give our kids that strong sense of family.

Families come in varied shapes and sizes. The most weird thing is, other peoples families always seems to be way better than your own, which is mostly not true.

For me a family is this group of people who always had time for each other with wholehearted dedication.

THEN:As the saying goes “It takes a village to bring up a child”.

This was most Indian families for you once. We grew up in a household conisiting of grandparents with a healthy sprinkling of aunts,uncles and cousins thrown in.

There were ready playmates those cousins your first friends. With no dearth of people ready to meddle in your life, you were never left alone. One persons problems were tackled by the whole clan.

Even with the over indulgence and continuous sense of being watched family was what you would return to at the end of the day.

New mothers never had to face the dilemma of how to do and what to do, there were always a hand to help. Every aspect of things had a listening ear. Overly patient grandparents with their own life experiences were a treasure trove of guidance.

Like everything this package came with its drawbacks: over interference, over indulgent kids difficult to discipline and not getting independent, to name a few.

NOW:The change in family dynamics over the years has left the family units some what fragmented.

 

Today’s Indian society is mostly nuclear families with busy parents and limited communication with the extended family. These families see much less conflict of interests leaving breathing space for each other.

Kids in this generation are more self-sufficient and open to change.

The Drawbacks: how to give kids strong roots along with the wings?

A sense of family and belonging that children learn from sharing their life and space with an extended family. Children growing up in nuclear families do not get exposure to that extra love and warmth.

What is really sad is Children completely missing the life experiences and stories from a whole generation.

HOW FAMILIES ARE BUILT:

Living together makes a family but strong roots need a deep rooted value system. How do we teach our kids the value of families? One of the foundation bricks that make a family strong is tolerance.

There will always be someone in a family who will think and act unconventional.

Everyone’s threshold of tolerance is bound to be different.

What might be a non-issue for one person might mean the world to the other.

Every person’s reaction to a similar situation might differ.

You might be a multitasking genius while some other can barely accomplish one thing at a time.

The basic comes down to each pillar of the family unit not being alike. What matters is love, tolerance and unconditional acceptance with a slight nudge in the right direction.

Children and especially teenagers should have the confidence that families don’t judge, they just help each other become happier and better version of themselves.

KEEPING IN TOUCH:

The bane of recent times is being busy. Everyone is juggling a million things, some doing a better job at it then the others. Being so occupied leaves us very little time and patience to keep in touch with even those who matter.

The simplest solution is make time. Remember those important dates of family members. Not all communication has to be long. Drop in simple messages or short calls.

Loosing touch with family is the main reason for widening gaps overtime. Distances might make the hearts fonder but will definitely leave relations strained.

Let your kids see you make those efforts. Don’t wait for the other to take the first step, go ahead and initiate communication  you won’t regret it.

Even in a deeply materialistic world giving someone your time is still precious.

FAMILIES GIVE ROOTS AND WINGS:

I believe my parents gave us siblings both roots and wings. We are not afraid to encounter the new while staying true to our beliefs.

This is what I look forward to passing on to my children. Children need strong roots so they can fly.

A big tree rooted in the ground can withstand any storm while weeds just float.

Have small family traditions, holiday celebrations. Talk to your kids about your own childhood, delve into your own background to give them the understanding that family is there to support them and not arrest their flight.

I’m positive I may never approve of all the life choices that my kids will make but i want them to know that whatever they encounter there is always family to count on.

There are friends and friends like family but there will be no one else like family .They accept you just the way you are.

They might judge you at times, drive you crazy and there are phases in life when you run away from them .

Family inundates you with emotional baggage but it is the anchor that ties down a ship to prevent it from going astray. Even when they might throw you to rough sea at times.

Today life is fraught with too much exposure and trying to overcome distances can be hard. So it becomes a task to make sure the familial bonds are strong enough to stand the tides of time and circumstances. But the first step is to ingrain in our kids the value of these family bonds and all else just follows.

Do you live in an extended family or a nuclear family?What steps do you take to make your kids understand the significance of family?

The Importance of Teaching Kids to Stay Connected to Family

7 Ways to Empower Your Child Against Sexual Predators

7 Ways to Empower Your Child Against Sexual Predators

I am neurotic about predators. When my kids started preschool and when they go to out for activities to the park or for classes, I’m constantly on the look out to protect them. To look for people who may not be “safe” or are  “over friendly”. This is not just a fear thanks to the vivid, disturbing news we are exposed on a daily basis. It stems from memories.

At the age of 11 living in Madhya Pradesh (India), I opened the door to the  postman and he asked for a glass of water. When I got it for him, handing it through the grill(thankfully) at the door, he caught my hand and held it to his crotch of his pants, then kissed it and smiled. Even at that young age, I knew that was wrong and ran to my mom to tell her. He was put in jail for a day before his wife came to plead for his life and he was released.

When I was 14 and used to walk home from school in Kuwait (Kuwait) with my mom a man used to often follow us all the way home in his car.

These are just two of the many experiences I’ve had personally. I don’t say this to scare you. Of course, it was scary and still leaves me feeling icky. These events taught me at an early age, that there are many deranged people out there.

While these are some of my worst memories, I think somewhere it made me hyper aware and at the same time stronger, knowing it’s not to be taken seriously. Maybe I got desensitized to it all (not a good thing). In India and Kuwait, there is an unsaid acceptance and allowance of such behavior. That is food for another discussion.

But this is why I’m a strong advocate that the conversation begin early so that children be able to recognize such behavior, understanding that sometimes even people you know are capable of horrible acts. Mind you these things happened while my parents were close. It is not the act but the reaction that carries significance.

My son is 8 now but I have been having conversations with him about personal safety since he was 4. Specially because he has always been an extremely friendly child who loves to make “friends”. Now, so is my two year old daughter. And I worry about their friendliness making them easy prey. On the other hand, I never want to them to lose their happy demeanor. To be too scared to say Hi to strangers. We need people who are friendly to make the world a warm place to live. Who aren’t scared to be the first one to break the proverbial ice. So how do we do it?

pexels-photo

The below conversations we have at regular intervals in my household becaus for children repetition is very essential. Every child is different. You will find it useful to use the below as baseline to start a dialogue essential for proactive thinking. To start talking about this disturbing topic is the first step.

No Secrets Within Family

I believe this is the most important thing kids need to remember, in their early years specially. Of course there will be a time when their life is their own but when they are young they are to know that while they don’t have to tell their parents every single thing, it is wrong if someone, specially an adult tells them to keep a secret. My parents have always have open dialogue. There absolutely nothing I feel uncomfortable talking to them about. This I think is what helped me just go and tell my mom, ” The postman took my hand and put it on his pants. ” immediately after it happened. One should never feel fear in telling their parents anything.

I always say that no topic should be barred from discussing with kids, specially when they see something on TV (adults kissing) or hear something that may possibly confuse them about issues.  Listening and letting them ask questions, no matter how uncomfortable that are answered as you may see fit is a great way to make sure kids trust parents.

“It’s Mom Dad’s Job to Protect You”

I write this because, I have often read, predators scare kids by saying “Stay quiet or we will hurt your mom/dad/family” or “Don’t tell anyone or I will say you did …. so and so” . Please re-iterate to your child that it is YOU who are supposed to protect them and that you trust them. And no matter what they do, they can always come and tell you.

Your body is off limits
No one and I cannot emphasis this enough, No One should touch them inside their shirt or skirt/pants. Or kiss their lips. With some people being extra cuddly, it is okay that kids understand that saying no if they feel uncomfortable is just respecting their body. This is one of the reasons why I too personally always ask children for hugs. They can always be taught to show their respect and love in other ways. It means a lot more when it comes from them than mushing them anyway.


Permission is Must

We all tell our kids they should ask before going anywhere but many a times we forget to tell them not to walk off with a friend to an unknown place. They should always play where you can see them and they can see you. They should understand walking off into the horizon behind a balloon or ice cream cart is Not okay. Going to a secret exciting place with a friend or some adult they know is not okay. They should always ask for permission from the person in charge before going anywhere.

Define Stranger

In the beginning, when I started this conversation my son asked me, ” Who is a stranger? ” And then we went on to discuss who all are considered family, friends and people we just meet once in a few months or a year. It is important that kids understand the definition of a family’s boundaries and relationships.

No Helping Strangers

It’s important to be nice. Say hi to strangers. Smile at them but remember to explain to your child that they are too young to actually help an adult. Many children feel very grown up in being able to do something an adult asks them to do. They are in a constant hurry to prove themselves or please others. So if an adult who is a stranger says,” Can you help me with … ” they are to respond with, ” Sure. Let me go ask my parents/teacher first. “

There is Enough at Home

Kids are greedy by default. It’s not their fault. They are drawn to that extra piece of candy or toy or whatever is their favorite thing.  And many times we parents exploit this honest response by making lot of activities incentive based. But at the same time every child needs to know that their parents can provide everything for them. They do Not need to ask or take anything that any other person offers them in return for something.

Shout, Run away & Assault

Like honesty is the best policy. I believe running away is the best policy in any dangerous situation. Children need to know that when they feel uncomfortable, their first response should be to shout out and run away. If someone does try to or successfully does grab them then nothing is off limits. Nothing! You are allowed to hit, punch, bite, scratch and most importantly scream. We even practice the volume level at home.

 

Fear is not the solution to anything. The world is scary. The only way we can live is being constantly cautious. As adults we now are naturally so but we need to enable our children to do the same and know what to do in any given situation.

Have you already had this conversation with your child?

What age did you start?

Are there any other things you would make sure they know?

Let me know in the comments below. Keep the conversation going with your children, stay safe!