Why are Birthdays Important?
by Susie E Caron (c) 1/30/16
Happy Birthday to Me!!!! That's what each of my family members sing for about a week prior to the actual date of their birthdays. This week it was my Birthday, and as I hummed the familiar tune, I got to thinking about how and why birthdays are so important.
I think everybody loves to celebrate their birthdays. But why? Every person born, didn't actually have anything to do with that event. Instead of giving gifts to whomever's birthday it is, why don't we give gifts to the parents and thank them profusely for going to the trouble of giving birth and providing a life for us?
Most parents are so excited and happy about their babies that when that first birthday rolls around they throw a big bash, and invite all their friends and relatives. We spend a lot of money to throw birthday parties and we spend a lot giving gifts to our kids on their birthdays. How did this practice begin?
Certainly long ago, infant mortality rates were so high that the first birthday must have come as a huge relief to parents. So of course they wanted to celebrate the milestone. Mortality rates for children continued to be high in places where families farmed, mined, worked timber and so on. So perhaps, each birthday was treated as another milestone and celebrated. Maybe parents celebrated while secretly thinking, "Whew, this child made it another year."
I checked on the web for something about the origins of birthdays hoping to assuage my curiosity and infuse this article with more 'cake.' I did find a little bit of history on an article by the Huffington Post, "This Is Why You Celebrate A Birthday Every Year." But it didn't answer my questions exactly.
What ever the reasons birthday celebrations began, (and people could argue about this forever) we do celebrate them, with our children, with each other and with our elders. It actually makes sense to celebrate lives well lived, of those we befriend, our parents, and others. It even makes sense to celebrate features about the lives of people we don't know. I enjoy a moment of heart felt celebration when Steve Hartman, a news reporter on CBS, interviews and presents characteristic of the lives of interesting people as he travels all over the USA . But why do we celebrate children's birthdays?
Some of the 'history' I found on the web wasn't very encouraging about the history of birthdays. Some bashed celebrating birthdays as coming out of 'pagan' traditions. Others linked Biblical birthday celebrations to simultaneous tragedies. (remember Job?). Even today we can find people who disdain birthdays, some for religious reasons, some because they believe it has caused kids to feel entitled. Whether they are true or not, these things certainly cannot explain our enthusiasm for giving children's birthday parties.
Perhaps we celebrate because birthdays are fun. It's fun to prepare favorite meals, bake cakes, wrap presents and play games. We enjoy them and we love watching our kid's faces light up. We celebrate even the tiniest baby's birthdays, right on up into their adulthood. We go to a lot of trouble for birthday fun, so could there be a bigger reason we celebrate birthdays? Maybe when we celebrate birthdays to celebrate LIFE.
I celebrate Life, every life, all lives, everyday. No one is an accident, or a mistake.
God didn't 'accidentally' drop your lump of clay and wonder,
"Now what in the world am I going to do with that?"
Nope you were born on purpose, with purpose and birthdays are good for celebrating that.
So here's my take on birthdays.
Birthdays remind me of a special gift of Life.
Because on one special birth-day, a baby named Jesus brought us a new life,
and the promise of living our lives with meaning and purpose,
and life everlasting, for those who believe.
That's why I celebrate birthdays and I that's why I continue to celebrate You.
Today is my birthday, and I'm happy I shared it with you.
Twee' means you and me
Celebrating birthdays and every day of our lives.
Help to Help Kids Survive Bullies
Susie Caron (c) 1/23/16
Everyone knows - Bullies hurt people, but to help kids survive we need to understand more. We need to know how they do it, how their actions affect victims, and how to help kids survive.
What do Bullies want?
A Bully has one goal, to appear to be 'top dog', and a nasty dog at that. Fear is the primary tool. They want to be feared and they want followers who are so afraid of them that they agree to do whatever the bully wants.
If the Bully wants the group to stand during lunch, they'll stand. If the Bully wants them to beat up another kid, they'll do it, and without question. Why? Because members of the group are afraid. They know that if they don't comply with the Bully’s wishes one or two things could happen to them.
First, they could get whatever treatment they wouldn't dish out.
Second they could be kicked out of the group.
Most adults think that would be a good thing. But the child kicked out feels shunned, unworthy and hated. This isolation can lead to depression and much worse.
How do Bullies create fear and followers?
Bullies create fear through posturing, aggressive behavior and intimidation. They don't need to be physically violent, but they must convince everyone that they could be. They use abusive verbal and emotionally charged language. Sarcasm, direct put downs, name calling, and shunning are all part of a Bully’s arsenal. They use everything they've got to keep their followers under their power. Then they use their followers to keep everyone else away from them. Why is that? Don't they want more followers?
Bullies create fear because they are afraid they are actually weak.
Bullies want more followers, but they hide a little known secret: Beneath the grandiose behavior which makes them look and act like they have a huge ego, hides an insecure personality, with a weak and poorly formed self- concept. This is noticeable when the Bully is criticized. Fearing any negative judgement and loss of support, he/she will over-react with even more aggressive words and actions. That’s how a Bully continues to create more fear, which keeps outsiders away and causes insiders to cluster closer together to avoid retaliation.
How are Victims affected?
Victims usually don't have a chance, especially kids because they crave belonging. They live in a developmental stage (6-18) when belonging is a major drive. Parents must understand this:
Acceptance into a group is of primary importance to kids and impacts their social, emotional development.
That’s why it isn’t easy for kids to ‘pull out’ even if they want to. For kids, inclusion, even in a nasty group, is better than being ostracized. But inclusion comes with a price. Standing too close to a flame can cause clothes to catch fire. Being that close to a Bully sets up anyone inside or outside the group to become a future target. Bullies don't need a reason. Boredom is enough.
Victim's get trapped.
Victims are made to feel 'less than', 'undesirable', damaged, and unclean. Kids can try to move away from the Bully and group. However, they often carry damages with them. Without the help of family, good friends, educators and sometimes mental health counseling, victims stay convinced of the lies and internalize the Bully’s assessment of them.
What can you do to help kids survive the lure of and prevent damage from Bullies?
Bully Proof them as much as you can, especially when they are very young.
Here are some ways to do this.
Choose play dates wisely.
In the early years you have a lot of control over with whom your kids spend time. Some children are naturally drawn to strong personalities. Monitor them and redirect your kids toward playmates who are better friends. Tell your kids,
“You don’t want to or need play with kids who are mean to you or mean to your friends. Let’s have play dates with friends who are kind and fun to be with.”
Watch your child’s behavior.
If your child begins acting like a bully at home, chances are he or she is being affected by a Bully at school. You may not stop the behavior of the other child, but you can discuss your child’s behavior with him or her. Explain why bullying is hurtful and that you expect your child to be a good friend, not a scary one.
Listen to your child and take action.
If your child tells you that someone is bullying him or her, take action. Thank your child and say, “I want to keep you safe.” Then make sure to tell the teacher, guidance counselor, and continue up the chain of command if needed. Ask them to stop the Bully’s behavior. You may need to insist that they keep an eye on your child to keep him/her safe. Whatever you do, don’t just dismiss it. Your child and the bully are both struggling. Both will need assistance. If you child continues to struggle, it may be wise to seek counseling.
Tell your kids to stay away from kids who act tough or mean.
Explain that you want them to stay away from Bullies, but they don’t need to be afraid of them. Explain that Bullies only look like they have power because they try to make people afraid of them. That’s not real power because being mean to others tells everyone that the Bully is really the one who’s afraid. The Bully tries to cover up his own fear by trying to make everyone else afraid.
Teach your kids to remember this statement:
"Bullies only have Bully power, but that they have 'Me Power'.”
Explain to your kids, that “Me Power” is real good power that comes from inside, because deep down inside they know what’s true about them. They are okay just the way they are, just being themselves. and no one can take that away.
Teach them how to wear “Bully proof vests”
Little kids love this. Just like the police wear Bullet Proof vests to protect them, they can wear Bully Proof vests. So when someone says something nasty to them, your kids must refuse to believe it, it will just bounce off the vest. This is like saying “I’m rubber, you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.”
Help older kids develop "Come Backs."
Older kids seem to enjoy this way of handling new Bully attacks.(Early attacks are intended to try to test for new followers by making them afraid.) If your child is under new verbal attacks by a Bully, help your child to create 5 ‘come backs’. 'Come Backs' are statements kids say back to a Bully that can make the Bully believe his/her attacks are just not important, scary or even interesting.
For example, to Bully verbal attacks your kids can respond:
“Is that the best you’ve got?”
“Get a life.”
“Don’t you have something better to do?”
“What’s that? I can’t hear you. What’d you say. You must be whispering.”
It's best if your kids make up their own and write them down. They need to practice because they must pretend whatever the Bully says doesn’t matter. Shrugs and dismissive gestures help too. You can ensure them that if they really pretend well, the Bully will very soon move on and try to find someone else to pick on. Then your child can enjoy his or her real friends.
Tell your child that bullies come in all ages, and nastiness.
Adults can be Bullies too.
So make sure you tell them, “Never vote for a Bully.”
I hope this article helps give you some ideas and skills how to help Bully Proof your kids.
Twee' means you & me
Working together to protect kids from Bullies.
How to Discipline More so you can Punish Less
by Susie E. Caron (c) 1/16/16
Discipline, used incorrectly, is a pain.
Everyone hates it, because the word discipline has grown to mean something entirely different than its original. When we say ‘discipline’ we usually mean punishment and punishment is a pain because it hurts and usually doesn't give us the results we want.
Discipline actually means training.
If you are disciplined, then you are well trained. You may be a well-trained athlete, or trained to build intricate circuit boards, or maybe you’re a potty-trained child. Discipline means training, so to ‘discipline’ your child means to 'train' him or her to be well behaved. Over time, discipline works to strengthen both your child’s attitudes and actions. Punishment doesn’t.
Punishment doesn't mean training.
Punishment doesn’t work well when it is over used or relied upon solely as the means to correct or train your kids. However, if used sparingly, punishment has its place in raising children, because both good and poor behavior produce consequences. For punishment to work, it needs to make sense, mean something to the child, be delivered swiftly and over with quickly. In other words, the punishment must fit the child and the crime and not just relieve the embarrassment or anger the parent feels.
Compare the benefits.
There are tons of ways to ‘punish’ children. However, over reliance on punishment takes more of your time and energy than discipline. More punishment than discipline also produces anger and hurts your relationship with your child. Over reliance on punishment doesn't train children to be well behaved when you're not around.
Discipline takes less time and energy, and develops your child's self-esteem and strengthens the parent-child relationship. Discipline helps children want to behave well even when you're not looking.
If this comparison convinces you that you want to use more discipline, there are 3 main keys to consider and include.
Accept your child fully.
Your child, needs to be accepted wholly, throughout each and every developmental stage. This is a major key to ensure a healthy relationship connection with kids throughout their lives.
Accepting your infants, was probably easy. They came in such adorable packaging and just got cuter as toddlers and children. You delighted in every first attempt and in each success. Crawling, talking, walking, climbing, throwing a ball, riding a bike, getting a good grade in school were each special for you.
However, as they grew up, they became more challenging and difficult to ‘accept’ entirely. They started to look funny, smell funny, talk funny, and seemed to like strange things (What is a pok-e-mon anyway? You want your what pierced?). As a result you may love your kids, but may also harbor a wish they were somehow ‘different.’
Your kids crave your acceptance. We all crave being accepted, not just belonging. If you are struggling, in some way, to ‘accept your child he/she can feel that. Your child may even feel a bit rejected, judged, or even shunned. That won’t help her self-esteem or build your relationship. Instead, whenever you think about your child, choose to accept the authentic nature of your child. I call this the child inside. Don’t think about the funny looks, smells, or favorite things. Just hold thoughts of how much you adore this child, especially the authentic person you know he or she is - inside. (It will appear, eventually.)
Set Clear Limits.
Limit setting is the second key to discipline. You set limits to keep children safe. Most parents seem to know how to set limits for their infants, babies, toddlers and early elementary school aged kids. They keep them out of the street, take away matches, put medicines out of reach and keep a watchful eye on their kids when they shop. But what happens when kids begin to challenge every limit you set?
When kids don’t want to take out the trash, demand to go to the mall and argue with everything you say, you may begin to wonder if you are ‘doing it all wrong.’ However, just because your kids keep pushing and using their favorite line, “But so and so’s mother let him do it”, actually shows you’re doing just fine. So absolve yourself of any guilt for setting limits. It's their job to push and yours to know when and how long to hold the line. You can set appropriate limits for each child based on age and 'response-ability'. So don’t vacillate, waver and give in when they challenge you. Set the limits guilt free, based on the fact that you know your kids best.
Guide your child.
You guide your child in many ways: teaching, training, modeling, talking, practicing and so on. This is probably the most natural and easiest part of ‘discipline’. You already provide a lot of guidance. You do it naturally just being with your kids and talking to them about how things work. You taught them how to drink from a cup, ride a bike, get on the school bus, shop and pay for groceries. You talk with them about being kind to old people and not to talk to strangers. You teach them about friendship and love when you show up at their sports events and recitals. You model how to get angry at something, and feel your feelings, without hurting others. You practice honesty, gentleness, cry when you need to and celebrate victories. You sit by them when they are sad and take care of them when they are sick. You are the parent, and you are engaged in the most important job in the world. Just by being you and by being involved with your kids every day, you are guiding them.
So, keep up the good work of training your children through the three keys of discipline: accept your child, set appropriate limits (without guilt), and provide guidance.
I thank you and perhaps, after they’re grown, your children will thank you too. I believe the world will be a better place, because you disciplined your children.
Twee’ means you and me
Raising good kids through wise discipline.
Whoa! Where Did I Put That?
By Susie E. Caron © 1/13/16
Maybe you don’t have difficult organizing and finding things like I do? If you do, read this.
I file everything,
but I'm not very good on retrieving. My daughter assured me that alphabetical order really works, but I seem to forget what category I used or what I named the folder. This is true whether it’s on my desk top or in my paper filing cabinet or even in 3 ring binders. So when I look for a paper, document, photo, phone numbers, addresses, instructions, and other tangible paper products, I struggle to find them. Likewise, if I suddenly need a URL, my user name, passwords, descriptions, bios and other things I may instantly need, it takes me a lot of time to search for them.
Paper was not sufficient, so I added web sites and took on-line courses.
Over the past three years I’ve opened a few web sites, more than a few domains (which directed readers to my web sites. or Amazon (where they hide my picture books). I’ve enrolled in free, cheap and way too expensive on-line courses that promised to teach me how to learn to be successfully social, write books, publish on kindle, send emails, give speeches, build infographics and podcast. They were mostly all good and I can prove it, when I find the URL’s to lead me back to them. I stored them somewhere,because once paid for, they promised to be available for me to complete or review anytime. I’m certain it’s true, but…..
Then, I became "Social".
Besides ‘administering’ (apparently, I don’t really own these) 2 Twitter accounts, several Facebook pages & groups, Pinterest boards, Instagram, LinkedIn, and others, I’m also active on many Facebook groups and I've “liked’ more pages than I can count. During my experience with these I’ve also gathered a number of Apps. (However, I really don't know what that means unless I get them for my iPad from the App Store.)
I got excited when I discovered Web Services.
Somehow, in all of this, I’ve found and lost many of the things that helped me produce some really cool stuff. Early in my 3 years, I began writing a blog. When I ran out of photos that family members, friends and my pets would allow me to use, I needed a new source. So, like the perennial student I’ve become, I looked for photos. Royalty free sounded nice, but I could never get used to the sites and sometimes they made you promise your first born. My kids were grown ups so I figured they were no longer useful for payment (and I’m pretty sure that was illegal anyway.)
One visual web service helped.
Next I found Canva.com and dove into the free version. It was easy to use and I liked the photos they provided. To my delight I could upload drawings or photos of my own to add to backgrounds, add text, frames, and designs. Most of the items were free, but I was happy to pay the $1.00 per item that I really liked. It answered my need to create photos to accompany my weekly blogs and pin them on Pinterest. Since that time I’ve used Canva for headers for Facebook, Twitter, and my web site. Three years later, which is right about now, I created my first podcast cover. WooooHoooo!
I like Canva because I just type in Canva.com (no special personal URL needed) and I’m instantly there and can do what I want. But it doesn’t help me with my retrieval problems. I’ve tried Notes, Sticky Notes, OneNote, and many others. The problem is that I’m a visual organizer. My piles of tangible stuff really means something too me, but I cannot rely on the pile system any more for my work.
Canva saved me time so I could use it to organize, finally.
As a result, today I made the decision to begin anew to find and organize my important internet information and log it in a better way.
Let’s see…….I’ll call the first folder Susies Stuff. That’s good. Now the next folder will have all my URL links to things like Canva.com. I can put those into a-b-c order on a Word Doc. After that, I’ll make a page called Paths, that will tell me what I need to do 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, to get the next email news letter out…….What was the name of that email web service gain…….where did I write that password ?
Never mind. I need some dark chocolate.
Whoa! Where Did I Put That?
Where Can Young Parents Get Good Advice?
by Susie Caron 1/9/16
Today’s families frequently move away from childhood homes. That leaves new parents without the help, support and wisdom that comes from extended family members. In days gone by, families were not so mobile and commonly elder members helped out with new babies, childcare and advice. Because this is no longer the case, young parents often fell isolated and lack ready resources for help when they add children to their home.
Long Distance Calls are not enough.
Isolation is cause for concern because things are changing so rapidly, that parents often feel confused about “best child raising practices”. Long distance calls back home to family & friends are not enough to fill this need. In order to ‘save face’ or to not worry their elder parents, young Moms and Dads may ‘pretend’ that they have everything under control. But they continue to crave advice and assistance.
Where do they turn for information?
Some young parents get assistance when they join other parent's groups to share child care and swap tips and ideas. However, life is so busy now and usually both parents work outside the home, so there remains little time left for this. As a result, they search ‘expert advice’ from professionals, in books, the internet and other sources. This adds to the confusion because sources vary widely and offer conflicting advice, which serves to perplex parents even more.
How can You choose the best parenting advice for your children?
While numerous resources can be helpful, it's important to sort truths from opinions. Where ‘experts’ all agree on something, it’s very likely a recognized ‘truth’. Where they disagree greatly, those are opinions. But, how do you know what advice to choose?
If you are a new parent or parent children of any age, your job is to grab the truths, and weed out the opinions. Opinions can be helpful in certain situations with individual children. So keep them available, on a back burner, to use when and if needed. Then trust yourself because you instinctively know what's best for your children. No matter what, you'll always do better to trust your instincts because no one really knows and understands your children as well as you do.
You get to decide what to do for each child and every situation.
When you to trust yourself and listen to your heart, you can adjust your discipline measures and parenting expectations to fit each child’s personality, situation and developmental ability. That’s how you can raise good kids and enjoy them more while you raise them.
Would you like to hear me talk about this and other parenting topics?
As a specialist in parent-child relationships I know how isolating parenting can be. I also know that you do your best when you believe in yourself. So, I’ve developed a free series of short, 6-8 minute episodes in a podcast called Building Parents & Good Kids. It’s full of encouragement and tips to grow your confidence and add skills so you can raise good kids with less stress and more fun.
Would you like to to subscribe, so you can listen to each free, 6-8 minute podcasts?
You can easily get them HERE on iTunes.
Bonus: if you fill out the Sign Up form on my Home Page, I’ll also send you a link every time a new episode comes out.
Don’t wait. The first 3 episodes are ready and waiting.
Twee’ Means You and Me
Building Parents and Good Kids
Why Resolutions Don't Work & This Will
by Susie E. Caron (c) 1/2/16
Every year people make "New Year's Resolutions," to improve something. So why don't their 'resolutions' ever stick? This is a terrible cycle and when you don't reach your goals, how do you feel? Most of us feel like we failed. In this article I reveal the reason and offer you a solution that has worked for me.
First, let's look at the word resolution.
When you resolve to do something it means you've made your mind up about it and you plan to do it. It also usually involves setting goals to measure your success. But something has to be wrong, because every year the same goals are set - lose weight, exercise more, get healthy, spend more time with loved ones, and on and on, and that are never reached.
"A resolution doesn't work, because it's a trap you set for yourself."
Why, oh why in the world, with all the pressure around you to perform, would you lay out something, namely 'resolutions', to make sure you fail?
Maybe you need a different word.
This is what I did.
I hate feeling like I've let myself down. So instead of setting traps for myself. I asked myself what I wanted. When I wanted to feel healthy or energetic, I asked myself, "How can I get those?" I answered by scheduling in a particular kind of exercise. In the summer I do what fits in with my daily life (garden and horseback ride) and in the winter I do something else (use equipment and workout in my home.) These work for me because I enjoy them.....well not the winter ones, but I'm motivated so I can continue to do the things I really enjoy in the summer.
When I asked, "What can I do to stop gaining weight as I 'mature'?" I realized I couldn't eat the same portions at 60 as I had when I was 20. So I wrote down the things I really enjoyed eating, cross referenced with what was also healthy, and started a pattern that has really worked for me. In fact over the next 5 years, I lost 25 of the 30 pounds I'd gained in my early 50's while I attended graduate school. I don't deprive myself at all because I make sure to include my craving for 2 dark chocolates every day!!! (Don't tell anyone. I've got them hidden, because they are just for me.)
Come on! Change the way you think. Stop setting traps for yourself. Instead of 'resolving' to do this or that hard thing, why not just think about what you WANT?
That's not so hard is it?
Please share this article. Stop the yearly maddness. Help me get the word out to help people do what they want this year.
Happy, Happy News Year to You and Your Family
Twee' Means You and Mean
Getting better every day.
Susie E. Caron MA,
Author, Blogger, Podcaster,
Christian, Wife, & Mother, helps build parent-child relationships, 1 blog, book & podcast at a time.
Welcome! I recently retired from combined careers in teaching, psychotherapy, and parent coaching to spend more time writing.
When I'm not busy creating books or articles, you might find me looking for dark chocolate or riding my beautiful horse Apple in the woods and fields of Vermont.
These articles are for educational and self-help purposes only and are not intended as psychotherapy.
If you experience unusual symptoms or discomfort please see your medical or mental health practitioner.
No patent liability is assumed for use of the information contained. The author disclaims any responsibility for loss or risk for use or application of this material.
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Blog Reviews & Thank You!
July 13 at 7:17pm ·
Just wanted to say that I love your posts about the different ways to connect/relate/understand your child. It has given me a new approach towards understanding my daughter and allowing HER to tell me how she feels instead of me suggesting to her how she should feel. Thanks Susie!