Monday, April 14, 2014

7 Day Challenge Update



For many years my husband and I have discussed the negative way in which media portrays men, especially fathers and husbands. I have listed several topics related to this issue on my “To Blog About List”, but decided that I would prefer to make a challenge for myself and anyone else who uses any type of media. So here is the deal. For 7 days I will tally up how many times I see, read, or hear the media portray a male as stupid or a fool. I look forward to sharing my results with you. I know that after seeing a Grey’s Anatomy episode where a mother hit her adult son because of a choice she did not approve of and also after seeing an episode of a cartoon, I feel that it is as important as it was ten years ago to be aware of the negative stereotypes of males represented in the media. I know my son and husband deserve better than what I have seen thus far.

I took the time to tally up the negative male stereotypes I saw on TV, heard on the radio, and read in print media this week. I watched eight hours of television, read 3 print magazines, read 10 online articles and blogs, and listened to two hours of radio. Some of the media was fiction or cartoon while other was real life “news-magazines” with a sensational spin put on it. I found that men were portrayed as clueless or confused 5 times. They were portrayed as scary or criminals 6 times, and they were portrayed as having low morals 3 times. I will say that I also noticed positivity as well. I saw a man portrayed as a problem solver. I saw another who was considered gentle and peaceful. I also saw two women portrayed as evil or criminals. Though this was not a scientific study, I do urge others to do a similar test on their own media experiences. Being mindful of stereotypes taken as fact as well as portrayed in jest can help us to create a better future for ourselves and our children.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Hands Off!

One of my children does not like to be touched. End.Of.Story. He spent two years avoiding holding my hand, being picked up, hugs, etc. You would think a child would want a parent to hold and cuddle them, but not all kids want this. There can be this fine line between autonomy and safety. If he ran toward the road, yep, I would pick him up even though he would pitch a fit. Thankfully, he rarely did this so it was mostly a non-issue.

It must be ironic that he is the child with a set of gorgeous curls on his head that tend to attract attention from adults. He has a sweet smile and chubby cheeks that make other people want to squeeze him and hug him. Heck, half the time he doesn't even want others to look his way so if they TOUCH him it is a huge trigger.

I understand that kids are cute and cuddly in theory. Mine is not. I understand that not all adults realize that autonomy is everyone's right and that we should not touch others, even kids, without permission. This may mean the child hugs us first or this may mean asking if you can give a hug to the child. I try to give people a heads up or quickly explain. The thing is that if I do this while out and about, we spend our whole day explaining sensory issues, vaccine injuries, and attachment parenting instead of enjoying the time we have together as a family. A couple of examples come to mind when I think about this issue of touch and autonomy.

One time we were at a local pharmacy looking around for something or other. My son finally decided he could walk and not be carried. (YAY) Then an employee said hello. My son had walked a few feet from me to explore, but I could see and hear him just fine. This employee was working and ended up between my son and I as she spoke to him. Then she tried to get him to high five her. Up until that moment all was fine. My son did not respond at first, I let her know he is not fond of strangers, and we left it there. It would have been perfectly okay, but she just HAD to offer that darn high five. My son sprinted away. He was not thinking of where he would go or that I was just a few feet from him in the other direction. He did not hear me call him. He was in fight or flight/panic mode. He felt his body was in danger all because of that high five suggestion and the fact that the woman was between us. I may have blogged about this before, but this is why I exercise. I may not be thin, but I am fast. I caught up to him seconds later and scooped him up. He was a heaving, sobbing mess. (No I do not suggest leashes unless the kid asks for one, but I do suggest one of those trackers that goes on a child's clothing if you have a runner who is older than toddler/baby age. You are the parent, though, so you make the choices. That is just my way of doing things.)

Another time a well meaning relative tried to help my son with a project. This relative gets along well with the child and is very patient with him. It seemed logical to use hand over hand assistance when something was not easy for him. Unfortunately, my son was not receptive and it surprised him so he proceeded to run around screaming and it took some time to calm him and work the situation out. We were at home and he did limit himself to our property. No safety issue there.

I won't lie. This sets us back. This might set back a typical kid as well. Please, please do not get between a parent and child as long as everyone is safe and no abuse is happening. Please, please do not touch a child you do not know. Many children are living with special needs these days due to environmental toxins. Many children are introverts. Children deserve autonomy because they are humans. If you accidentally do something that causes stress, apologize. You can set a positive example for the child and the parent will probably appreciate your thoughtfulness as you try to make amends and empathize with the family.

 It is extremely difficult to have a child who does not like physical affection. It often leads me to worry about him. However, he is perfect and deserves to make his choices about how he interacts with others. I think sharing this information can help us all reassess our choices and respect the boundaries of others.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Media Representations of Men's Behaviors and a 7 Day Challenge



For many years my husband and I have discussed the negative way in which media portrays men, especially fathers and husbands. I have listed several topics related to this issue on my “To Blog About List”, but decided that I would prefer to make a challenge for myself and anyone else who uses any type of media. So here is the deal. For 7 days I will tally up how many times I see, read, or hear the media portray a male as stupid or a fool. I look forward to sharing my results with you. I know that after seeing a Grey’s Anatomy episode where a mother hit her adult son because of a choice she did not approve of and also after seeing an episode of a cartoon, I feel that it is as important as it was ten years ago to be aware of the negative stereotypes of males represented in the media. I know my son and husband deserve better than what I have seen thus far.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Oh Happy Day!

Today was a good day. Today my son played a cooperative game with others. This seems like no big deal, right? The thing is that he is 46 months old and he has never attempted to make a friend or play with others outside of the family.

Sure, he has  many opportunities each week, and sometimes each day, for cooperative play. Yes, I encourage him to make choices on his own, but he chooses to keep his distance from children even if he has met them or played near them before. He prefers to have a large personal space "bubble" around himself. He often becomes agitated, screams, squeals, or runs away from other people if they cross that imaginary line he has created which signifies the edge of his personal space. If a child climbs up the play structure stairs at a park, he waits. If another child comes near the stairs, he waits. He does not want to be on the stairs with another person outside of his comfort zone or family. If someone looks his way or seems interested in chatting, he has an adverse reaction that is often noisy and troublesome to those of us who are present. (Purchasing ear plugs has crossed my mind to be honest.)

Today was different. Today he kept his distance, spoke to himself, played on his own, and spoke to me off and on for several hours. He also felt comfortable enough to speak to an adult (who is not a family member) for a moment, then he ran off to be by himself again. (This is also a fairly new behavior.)

Then something changed. All of a sudden I noticed he was not hiding from others, walking to a space with no people, or screaming. He was playing! Another mom and I looked at each other and were both a bit shocked. This has not happened before.  I am so happy for him. All of the time spent discussing and practicing social skills as he was interested, has helped.

Keep in mind that this could be a positive pattern or that he may choose to go back to screaming, running, and other behaviors that do not really address the issue inn a positive manner. Sometimes once is all we get for a while when he progresses. No worries, I will take it. There is nothing wrong with honoring at a child's pace. He will "get it" eventually as he is able to handle social situations using coping skills he has learned.

(Please excuse any typos as it is after midnight, but I felt the need to write down this exciting experience.)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Book Review : How To Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Meeting The Five Critical Needs of Children...And Parents Too! by Gerald Newmark

I agreed to read and give an honest review of How To Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Meeting The Five Critical Needs of Children...And Parents Too!, which was written by Gerald Newmark, in exchange for a copy of the book. I read the text with an open mind, but also thought about it from the perspective of a teacher as well as the perspective of a parent.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. Newmark made sense, gave examples, and showed how to proceed beyond the basic ideas in the book. There are work book style pages toward the end of the text which help parents and families to individualize the way in which their home affects emotional health.

The only concern I noted was that the author does give a bit more power to the adults than I would consider appropriate. There are a few places where I noticed the author suggesting the parent pulls rank or that there is a family rule. The suggestion seems to address parental wants, for example clothing choices, rather than a mutual want that parent and child agree upon. I would urge caution when parents are pushing their preferences on children for any reason. I will say that the author does focus most of the book on mutual decisions that work for all people involved.

That being said, the book rises well above the texts I had to read and implement while employed as an elementary school teacher. It also considers the rights and emotional health of a child rather than only the wants of an adult who is "in charge". This book would be useful to all families, not just those who use little or no punishment. This book can serve as a guide to help teachers to create a positive environment with the help of students and parents.

It is my opinion that  How To Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Meeting The Five Critical Needs of Children...And Parents Too! is useful and respectful to both children and adults. This book gives as much or as little support as a family or classroom needs. It is easy to create a positive, gentle, caring, and respectful environment with the help of this text.

 You can learn more about Gerald Newmark's work by visiting The Children's Project www.emotionallyhealthychildren.org .

How To Raise Emotionally Healthy Children: Meeting The Five Critical Needs of Children...And Parents Too! by Gerald Newmark can be purchased through this link.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Time4Learning Review



I've been invited to try Time4Learning for one month in exchange for a candid review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so be sure to come back and read about my experience. Time4Learning can be used as a homeschool curriculum, for afterschool enrichment and for summer skill sharpening. Find out how to write your own curriculum review for Time4Learning.

Check back for more info in the coming weeks! 

Update:



The coursework at the web site Time4Learning was clear and informative for each lesson and each topic we used. My children were split on their opinions. One of them loved the videos while the other wanted to see more hands on activities that she could do independent of the computer. Both children liked the games to an extent, but the games were often too difficult or too easy. We would have to play around a bit longer to figure out exactly which games/levels were appropriate for their learning styles and academic levels. All in all, I think this site would be useful to many students on a full time basis, for partial academic courses, or to fill in some areas that needed remediation.


* We tried Time4Learning on a trial basis at no charge and this is our family’s honest review of the website.
 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Day in the Life

Every day is a bit different no matter who you are. I happen to share my life with a husband, two dogs, and three children which gives me a few more curve balls than I usually expect each day. I often feel like I accomplish very little, but decided to list the events of one day to remind myself just how much is accomplished each day.

7:30 AM Wake up and take the dogs out. Try to sneak in a shower before anyone needs my help.

7:40 AM The youngest child is screaming, "Mommy where are you!!!!!!!", while sobbing and being as loud as possible. Now everyone is awake and I have not bathed.

7:41 AM Calm child, help all three kids get some breakfast, and attempt a shower for the second time.

8:10 AM After showering was accomplished, it was time to pack a bag for park day and help the youngest choose his clothing and get ready for his day while the older two finish eating and take showers.

9:00 AM Check emails and clean the kitchen.

9:15 AM Herd children to the car, drive to park day location.

10:00 AM Arrive at park day, chat with friends,and help my children as needed. Helping today included calming the youngest when a baby touched his sand structure. He tried to run away from the "threat" he perceived, but I was there to make sure he was in a safe place and able to calm. He did well other than this moment and also a moment when a small child pushed him to the slide. This caused two issues for my child. He hates to be touched and he also hates to be told what to do. He was not hurt, but did meltdown for a bit at this point, too. Both mothers were nearby and did make use of the incidents to teach gentle lessons so kudos for that. Unfortunately, I was unable to say thank you for following up because my child was hysterical for quite a while each time.

11:30 AM Head home for lunch.

12:15 PM Eat a quick lunch made up of fruit and sandwiches.

12:45 PM Head to Fedex to send a package.

1:00 PM Go to local grocery store with free coupons and cash back rewards. "Saved" $42, 52 percent savings, after coupons and store specials. Not too shabby.

2:15 PM Time for laundry, take the dogs out, and time with the kids.

3:15 PM Clean floors and pack a few boxes for an upcoming move.

4:15 PM Figure out what to make for dinner.

4:30 PM Youngest has a meltdown. I don't remember why, but it happened and it was ugly.

5:00 PM Make dinner and eat.

5:30PM Clean up dinner and clean blinds.

6:00 PM Watch television while doing some laundry.

6:30PM Play with the children, then check email.

7:30 PM Take dogs outside.

8:00 PM Say goodnight to all children and help the youngest fall asleep.

8:30 PM ME TIME! :)

Now there are, of course, less structured times when I am with the children or they need something. They are often hanging out and helping out even if not noted on the schedule today.