Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Too much, too soon?

I got to participate in a 2 part segment this week focusing on when it's "too much, too soon?" Michelle Miller, of CBS, interviewed middle schoolers and freshmen in Hackensack and talked about digital media, dating and sex. The candid responses of the kids involved are terrific and really do shed some light on how bombarded our kids are with different things, and how they often do not know how to manage their information overload.

Below are the links for the segments:;latestRight

The take home message here is that communication needs to happen at home, and happen often and early. The more you impart your values onto your children, the more they will begin to understand and identify their own values. You will more likely, then, raise thoughtful, safe and positive kids.

Bullying: How do we get it to stop?

Bullying is an age-old problem that continues to be pervasive, not only in our society, but also around the world. Generally, if you are different, you are a potential target for bullying. In the worst case of all, children and teens feel there is no option other that to take their own lives.

We have been hearing about bullying more and more every day. Only this week there was another suicide related to depression and anxiety secondary to bullying. Additionally, a cognitively disabled boy was tattooed by older students who promised that they wouldn't pick on him anymore if he allowed them to tattoo him. He ended up with profane words and images across his buttocks, and who knows what kind of trauma.

It begs the question about what is happening in society that these types of behaviors continue to happen, often so relentlessly. What are the adults missing? How can we be more involved, more effective and, ultimately, more helpful to our children?

Dr. Michelle Borba wrote an excellent blog entry on this topic, and I couldn't have said it better myself. Here's the link:

I also spoke on CBS' The Early Show about the recent tattooing case in New Hampshire, earlier this week.

It's so important to try to figure out how to address these behaviors. They certainly seem to be getting worse, not better, and the children are suffering.

Monday, May 24, 2010

When it it too much?

There is a lot of interesting new data coming out about teens and living in the digital age. We are all worried that children spend too much time online watching TV, movies, using social media outlets. We worry that children won't grow up to have positive relationships; we worry who they are coming into contact with; we just worry.

But maybe, we are worrying too much.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tips for happiness....

It's hard to be happy all the time...even people that you know that appear happy all the time, probably aren't.

There are lots of factors that contribute to happiness: genetic, life circumstances and then personal choices. Believe it or not, our choices account for up to 40% of our happiness! That's a pretty significant percentage, and does beg the question: what are you doing to promote your own happiness?

I came across this fantastic post about simple ways to make some changes that will help boost your mood.

Thanks to @staceyTV for posting.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Yesterday's link

Here is the link to the CBS segment from yesterday.

My friends and I are still discussing the dance performance and the message it sends to young girls.

I'd love to know your thoughts.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

When is enough, enough? Sexualizing young girls.

The video linked below is creating a lot of controversy, and sparking off a great deal of discussion. I was on CBS' The Early Show, Saturday edition, this morning discussing it.

Young girls, between 7 and 9, were filmed at a dance competition dancing to Beyonce's song "Single Ladies." They were dressed scantily and dancing provocatively. The video, of course, was posted to YouTube, but whomever posted it, certainly did not expect the backlash that he/she is receiving.

There is no question that these girls have exceptional talent. They are amazing dancers, who nailed the routine wonderfully. The question is, where were the adults? Who thought it was okay to put these girls in very skimpy outfits, while having them dance the way they are? One of the mothers of one of the girls stated that the costumes were necessary because they "ensured that there was no restriction in movement." Movement would not have been restricted if they were in unitard or full leotard either...Beyonce wore more in her video.

The issue at hand, as I see it, is to figure out the message we are sending to our girls. Are we teaching them that the sexier, cuter and hotter you are, the more attention you will get? Is that what they are aspiring to? Do we get love and adoration only in that way? Or can we teach our children to find their self-esteem in other ways that build positive relationships, feelings of oneself and confidence?

Dancing is a fantastic thing for kids. I was a dancer as a child and think it's wonderful. What's disturbing here is the take-home message for these girls, that was, unfortunately, created by their dance instructor and parents. It's a parent's job to protect their children at this age (at any age, actually), and this time, these girls were not protected. Saying "no" to things is okay, regardless of your child's reactions, and sometimes, it needs to be said.

I hope that these girls don't start to blame themselves for all the press that is happening. They were terrific and should be proud of the job they did. I hope the adults start to think a little bit more in the future, however.


Suicide vs. Homicide? Which occurs more?

A recent study was released reporting that suicide rates are now twice as high as homicide rates. Suicide ranks 11th among causes of death across ages, gender and cultures.

Suicide occurs at higher rates among men, American Indians, Caucasians and people between 45-54 years of age. The age shift is dramatic, as it used to be people over 80. It is the third leading cause of death amongst 10-24 year olds.

One of the most common questions is why people do commit suicide? Problems leading to suicide may be related to mental health, jobs, finances or relationships. Most often, mental health related problems have the greatest impact, with many people who die having a history of depression.

The real struggle is that so few people leave notes or communications as to why they have decided to commit suicide, leaving those left behind to search for answers (for every suicide there are 6 survivors).

Sometimes, though, there are signs leading up to an attempt. Here is a link to a wonderful fact sheet from the American Association of Suicidology that provides great information regarding warning signs.

Don't be afraid to talk about suicide. Although it's scary, opening up the dialogue may be the most important thing you do.

For more information about statistics and ways to help, go to the American Association of Suicidology's website:

May Is Mental Health Awareness Month!

May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

In honor of that, I'm hoping to include several post related to mental health issues, warning signs and ways to intervene.

Feel free to ask questions about specific issues, especially this month, so that your concerns can be addressed directly.

Teen Texting: When is it too much?

A recent study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that the percentage of teens who use text messaging to contact friends daily reached 54 percent in 2009, double that of 2006.

Girls, ages 14-17, where the most active text messengers, with up to 100 texts a day...double that of most other teens.

But, when is it too much? When is it important to put the phone down and have a real conversation? Is social interaction a lost art, given way to social networking?

Texting is this generations phone. Girls always talked more on the phone that boys...that doesn't come as such a big surprise. What concerns me is the fact that there is no "shutting down" and giving oneself time off from the electronics.

It's important to teach teens that being out of touch (with friends, that is) for a brief period of time, is okay. It's of the utmost importance to remind them that waking up in the middle of the night to answer a text is not a great idea, as they will be less productive in school and more likely to be emotionally vulnerable.

Ask your teens what they are texting. Ask to see it and talk about who they are texting too. Set limits on the usage.

Put your own phone down and have a conversation with your teens....just text them first to make sure they are free. :-)