Imagine your child is experiencing intense emotional distress that vacillates between crying spells and episodes of explosive anger. His sleep is restless, and he’s having nightmares. His appetite has decreased. He refuses to attend school, and the teacher is texting you at least three times a week to report disruptive behaviors. The days turn into weeks, then months, and you learn your child is becoming aggressive toward classmates and siblings. His mood bounces up, down, and all around. He will not talk about the problem. Eventually the school counselor recommends therapy outside of the school setting.
Many parents feel stunned or intimidated by this recommendation. They don’t know what to expect or where to begin. But children can benefit greatly from therapy, and it does not have to be a mysterious process.
Begin by contacting your health insurance company to…
Licensed School Psychologist ~ Certified Case Manager
Crises Management: Don’t Shout While You’re Out
It never fails. Your usually cooperative, quiet, well-behaved child seems to be overcome when you’re out in public. They cry, they scream, they yell, they grab things, they throw things. They seem to be mysteriously moved to such behavior when in church, the grocery store, the dentist office, the car, or at your in-laws. They overreact but you don’t have to. Good crises management has three goals: 1) stop the immediate behavior, 2) keep it from escalating, and 3) take charge of the situation. Here are some tips to control these outbursts and diminish negative results.
Audience. Eliminate spectators. Nothing inflames a situation more than having on-lookers. This tends to reinforce the child’s behavior and sets up a power struggle. The child may feel that he or she cannot comply without losing face. You may feel that you can’t compromise without feeling that you have given in. Try not to reprimand children in front of others.
Whisper. An effective technique is to gauge the level of your voice inversely to that of your child’s. The louder they yell and scream the more controlled and lower your voice should be in response. Whispering is helpful. It’s difficult for the child to hear you when they scream and you whisper. Whispering often gives a momentary pause for each of you.
Leave. Remove yourself and the child and go to a quiet place. Go into another room, walk outside, get into the car, or sit on a park bench. This change of scene will have a calming effect and give both of you some time to think. It will also eliminate the audience.
Reaffirm the Rule. Do not enter into a debate with a child; do not engage in plea bargaining; do not allow them to blame others. Stay focused on their behavior: what they did, what they said. Simply state the rule and the consequence. Use a firm and calm tone of voice to explain how you expect the child to behave.
Choices. Offer your child alternatives. Give them responsibility for their behavior and the outcome. Use simple statements such as: “Here are your choices, ‘you can eat nicely at the table or you can go in your room.’ What do you want to do?”
Follow up. When the storm has passed have a quiet, private, conversation regarding the incident. Start with a factual review of the circumstances: what you expected, how he or she behaved, and what happened next. Talk about similar future situations and how it can work out better for both of you.
Use positive behavior management techniques. State the rule clearly and simply. Expect your child will obey. Have a specific, fair, firm consequence when misbehavior occurs.
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Dr. Valerie Allen is a child psychologist in private practice. She presents seminars for parents and professionals in the field of child development and has published two children’s books, “Summer School for Smarties” and “Bad Hair, Good Hair, New Friends.” Oh yes, she has also raised six children!
I’m on the Board of Free Spirit Publishing (a publishing house of resources for teachers) and was asked for my input regarding how to keep kids engaged at the end of the school year. My comment is the 7th one down!
Keeping your students engaged during the final weeks of school can be a challenge. The Free Spirit Advisory Board members are here to share their best advice for reengaging kids who have checked out for the school year.
“Keeping kids engaged in school, especially after spring break, is a challenge, but it’s not impossible. As a mental health case manager, my focus is to empower my adolescent clients in their own choices, give them space to talk through their feelings about school, and guide them through problem solving any barriers. The last thing kids want is another adult telling them what they need to be doing; partner with them, don’t shame or punish. On the same note, I encourage students’ engagement in after-school clubs, activities, or sports they are interested in—this creates an incentive to go to school and a positive experience in the school environment, and helps them build…
Tell me something about yourself. (Where did you grow up, significant relationships, what do you do for fun, as little or as much as you want).
“I’m a proud native of Georgia. I grew up there, but I have lived longer in the State of Florida; over 20 years. I’ve done quite a bit of growing since moving here as well.” (laughter)
Tell me about you as a professional. What do/did you do to make a living, before you started your own full-time business?
I’ve done a lot, professionally speaking. Having served children and their families since 1990, I’ve worked in sectarian and non-sectarian facilities. I also owned a Family Childcare Home in North Florida. After giving as much as I thought I could in the classroom setting, I took courses in management, then lead 2 elite teams on their journey as educators.
The first team was co-managed with the owner who sold the facility that I left. We still call each other when we are not busy and laugh about previous challenges that lead to great relationships. We are still proud to be the managers who won over 5 awards and 3 accreditations as a school. I also received one as “Best Teacher”. I still smile about that one. Ok, let me focus on the question at hand.
I began writing plans for my business, Jones Educational Consulting, LLC, while managing the day-to-day operations at that aforementioned facility. My initial intent was to resign, take additional college courses, and work for myself. In the midst of planning, I was informed, by the previously mentioned owner, that she had sold the school. I spent over one year trying to decide when would be the best time to resign. I guess you can say I saw the need to support the greater good. Three years later, I resigned. Two of those 3 years were spent traveling, collaborating with others, and serving children and their families as Ms.B, The Storyteller. I now make money through full-time ownership of my business which gives me time to provide hourly work as an educator, consulting to support schools in various ways, and work contract performances as Ms.B! I absolutely love all that I do.
What inspired you to start your business?
My love for working in early childhood settings.
Were there supporters or naysayers?
There will always be supporters, like YOU (Wanda) who see value in people. Naysayers are only naysayers because they just don’t understand the yes in your success. (laughing)They believe I read, unenthusiastically as if I am forced to read to children and their families during the day. (laughing) I am a performer who absolutely LOVE CHILDREN and their family. I do this willingly, without competition because I will always have my own unique way of showing love, through stories. I, Ms.B,The Storyteller am naturally known for providing experiences. When I am paid to read, and tell stories, I make deeper connections. I am confident that my performance will be memorable to those who love reading and storytelling. Regarding naysayers, they will become believers after while.
How did you handle setbacks or lack of support, if you had any?
I handle setbacks and lack of support in a variety of ways. I have handled the few naysayers that I have encountered by going out and appealing to those who actually enjoy what I do. Later, they acknowledge that I came to them first, I laugh. I love people. It’s frustrating at times, but I laugh knowing that there are others who believe in me. Right now, I am thankful for every opportunity that YOU (Wanda) and others provide. There have been many authors who have given me the opportunity to make their great books come alive before audiences. From my understanding, more opportunities are out there!” (winking)
When did you know you wanted to help with literacy?
I came from a home where I had to learn bible verses and recite them on demand. Being able to recite them was impressive to me. Being able to comprehend what I had read was just as impressive as the memory. Maybe this was the start of something big. Since 1990, I have known that reading and storytelling was important to a child. I could tell each time I saw a child smile during story time in my classroom. Later, when deciding what I wanted to do ‘next’ in life, I knew it had to be something important such as making children smile. I make them smile best when I talk to them, tell stories, and read. I vow to read to 1 Million Children because I have a lot to share, and I want to continue to help children smile. I do this by ‘helping children develop the love of reading, one great story at a time!’
You’ll hear more about that campaign once people understand that my mission is beneficial to early learners everywhere.
What is your favorite type of book to read to the children? Why?
I enjoy picture books. In diverse audiences, pictures help children who haven’t had certain experiences connect with what others are already recalling images in their minds.
You are an incredibly positive person. Where do you get your inspiration?
I came from a home where our parents allowed us to dance with them and put on talent shows. Any of our neighbors could tell you that we enjoyed laughing and singing and having what we knew to be fun! Besides this, I figure, the other side of positivity is negativity…who needs more of that in life? Not me!
Do you have any rituals before or while you read to the children? I don’t like being around negative people before doing a show. I either need quiet time to sing a song, or to laugh just before taking the stage. Once I open my mouth to read, or tell stories, I lock eyes with that one special friend in the audience and I am comfortable! (laughing)
I don’t like being around negative people before doing a show. I either need quiet time to sing a song, or to laugh just before taking the stage. Once I open my mouth to read, or tell stories, I lock eyes with that one special friend in the audience and I am comfortable! (laughing)
How do you come up with your outfits?
I use my imagination. (laughing) Really, I do! I guess as an artist. I draw pictures and alter clothes to make my costumes. My mother is creative like that…I sometimes ask her what I should do, but I make them myself. In the future, you will see me wearing things that she has made for me to show her love for what I do for children!
What are you passionate about?
I’m a bit complex. I am passionate about many things, but I will tell you this: I am passionate about doing good for someone other than myself. That goodness comes in many forms such as reading and telling.
Was there someone in your childhood that inspired you or changed the direction of your life? Tell us about them and how you were changed.
I had one elementary teacher who gossiped about me when I was in school. I can’t even remember her name, but she inspired me to use positivity to erase the negative words that I could have been wired to believe.
I had a Home Economics teacher who made me laugh and told me that I am meant to be an educator. She passed away before I could tell her, “Thank you. I have changed lives, and YES! YOU were right!” (tears) I am writing a story in her memory. All I need is a good ending…it will come.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I will be performing more (paid contracts)!
You can expect a voice recording of my stories in 2017. The title of the CD is called “I’m Telling You!” because I will be telling valuable stories to those who love the unique style of Ms.B, The Storyteller!
If you could jump ahead in time, what would be happening for you? I
would have a spot on television. I would have amazing costumes that I’ve helped design. I would be traveling all over the world to do what I do best, make children smile by sharing the love of reading!!!
Anything else you’d like to share that I haven’t asked?
I’d like to tell others to invest in great stories and great storytellers, I know a few.
In closing, I will say, “Thank YOU (Wanda) for being influential to children in your community and around the world.” I love your stories! I will continue to read.
Tomorrow is the big Release Day for Gloria and the Unicorn! I’m so excited!
This book has tugged on my heart strings as I’ve written about a child whose mother died at birth, her father gave her away, and she has a droopy face because of the trauma of her birth. To top it all off, Miss Libby, the children’s lodge owner, tries to protect her by keeping her out of school. But all Gloria wants is to be like the other kids and to learn to read.
Then, her helpful unicorn, Sir Louie, shows up. He’s kind and wise. He teaches her how to read but more importantly how to love herself again.
She musters the courage to go to school, but the kids are cruel. And if that isn’t enough, evil Wizards want to kill her and lock Sir Louie up for all eternity.
How can anything good come out of all of that? Is Gloria key to overcoming evil? How can she be? She’s just a child with a lot on her plate.
Find out in the magical story of Gloria and the Unicorn. Pre-order today on Amazon at myBook.to/GATU and you’ll have it on your Kindle tomorrow.
Thank you for being on this journey with me of releasing a new chapter book for children.. I hope I didn’t drive you all crazy! I truly appreciate the blogging community. I love all the people that I follow. You write from your heart. You encourage me. You challenge me. And I appreciate your support.
I’ve talked a lot about Gloria’s struggles from Gloria and the Unicorn recently but the story isn’t focused on those, no, the story is all about her hero, Sir Louie, the unicorn!
We all have struggles in our life, no doubt. We may not have the same ones as Gloria, but we have something. Sometimes those struggles feel bigger than life. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a hero swoop in and help us? I know it’s gone out of fashion having a Prince Charming swoop in and take Cinderella away from her troubles, but don’t we all secretly wish this would happen? I mean sometimes when life gets too big, we would like to just throw up our hands and call our Fairy Godmother and say, “Help me!” Then, with one wave of her magic wand all our problems fade away. We know it’s not realistic but boy it would be nice.
So, while Prince Charming’s and Fairy Godmother’s are the thing of fairy tales, guess what? Real life heroes do exist. Maybe you’ve even been one for somebody. Maybe your neighbor was sick and you made them a meal. Maybe your friend was crying over a break up or divorce and you brought them chocolate and a funny movie. Maybe someone was in a financial jam and you gave them money. Or even maybe your life work provides an opportunity to be a hero for someone–maybe you’re a counselor or pastor or hair dresser or bar tender–you listen, you care, you advise. Or maybe even bigger–you work for the fire department, police department, or in the military and offer your own life to save other people’s lives.
Sometimes, we forget that we can make a difference. But, just like Sir Louie, the unicorn, in Gloria and the Unicorn, he made a difference by listening, advising, helping, supporting, and loving Gloria. Simple things but huge things that absolutely make a difference. Think about the times in your life when someone was there for you and it made a difference. Don’t underestimate yourself. You can be someone’s hero. You can be there unicorn!
So, look for opportunities today to help someone, to lift their spirits, to make a difference. Be someone’s unicorn!
Yesterday, I talked about blended families. Well, at least my blended family.
But, Gloria, in Gloria and the Unicorn doesn’t live in a blended family. She lives in an adopted family. I believe there are similarities between the two. Gloria’s Mom died in childbirth and her Dad didn’t feel he could take care of a baby by himself. He gave her to a children’s home called Miss Libby’s Lodge.
Miss Libby who owns the children’s lodge has no children of her own. She loves all the babies as if they were hers. Miss Libby teaches the children that they are a family and to be kind and loving to one another.
My Mom was also big on this. She didn’t delineate between half-siblings, we were all hers and we were one family in her mind. She taught us to love one another and be kind. We see ourselves this way. In fact, the other day I was talking to my sister and telling her how I don’t like to use the term “half” when talking about her or my brother–that just somehow feels “wrong.” She said she felt the same way. The term half or step feels like saying, “I don’t really want to be related to you.”
I wonder if children who have been adopted feel the same way about the word “adopted?” Of course, one can argue that being adopted means precisely that you were chosen and wanted, but I know some people whose adopted homes weren’t that loving. I don’t think anyone who has been adopted would want to be introduced as “this is my adopted son/daughter.” It seems as though you’re making a point to say the relationship is “less than.”
Gloria feels this acutely once she overhears the truth about herself. She feels less than. She feels unwanted. She feels unloved. I think these feelings are going to come for children of blended and/or adopted families. I think children need to be able to express these feelings without them being shoo’d away. That’s how they feel. There’s a reason they feel this way. There is at least one parent that didn’t want them or isn’t alive to be there for them. It’s okay for children to grieve that loss even if they have adopted or step-parents that have been incredibly loving to them. Research has shown that adopted children in their teens yearn to know their biological parent even when their adopted parent is very loving. It’s important to not take that personal and to allow the child the freedom to search and even connect, if possible, with their biological parent. Hard, I know, but important.
My best friend was adopted (remember the one I talked about on my lei day post?). She finally found her biological mother and re-connected. They have a very positive relationship but her adopted mom didn’t really like that. My friend needed to know her biological mom. She needed to find out for herself who this woman was that gave her up so many years ago.
Adoption/Blended families–they are complicated and deserve a sensitive, thoughtful response. What about you? Are you from a blended family or have you been adopted? What are your feelings on re-connecting with your biological parent?
In Gloria and the Unicorn, Gloria is 6 when she overhears a terrible secret about herself. She’s devastated but doesn’t think to clarify what she heard.
Has that ever happened to you? You overheard something and thought you knew the truth but didn’t actually ask anyone? Then, one day, you find out that what you heard wasn’t really the whole story.
This is true for Gloria but she suffers with her secret a whole year before she is able to let go of the pain it is causing because she sees it from a different perspective thanks to her unicorn friend, Sir Louie.
Secrets aren’t usually a good idea. Especially for children. It’s so important as a parent to keep lines of communication open with our children and teach them that they can talk to us about everything and should tell us anything that bothers them. Miss Libby, the children’s lodge owner, doesn’t know Gloria has overheard this information and therefore can’t help Gloria with the truth.
It takes another year before Gloria actually lets Miss Libby know her secret. Once Miss Libby knows, she tells Gloria the truth and helps clear up any of the misunderstandings Gloria had. Can you imagine believing something was true about yourself for two whole years before learning the truth?
This happens to all of us in different ways though. Often as kids, we don’t understand the grown up world so we comprehend things from our limited perspective. Once we get older, we see the bigger picture and can help our inner younger self heal. It may not be a secret about ourselves like with Gloria but it could just be something that happens in the family; maybe a death, or a parental fight, or something else less traumatic.
For me, I didn’t understand blended families until I was an adult. My Mom had two children from her first marriage–my sister and my brother. Then, she re-married and had me. We were all raised as one family. I never saw their Dad. They never left on the weekends to see him. There was no mention of him. So, I didn’t really know they were my half-sister and half-brother. We were told the truth that we were half-siblings but no one was ever referred to as half-anything and we didn’t refer to each other like that either. In fact, calling them my half anything now feels like I’m calling them a bad name. They are just my sister and brother and they feel the same way towards me.
Anyway, my brother apparently misbehaved every day at school because every day when my Dad got home from work, he would spank him. My brother would wail from the other side of the bedroom door. I cried too. I couldn’t bear hearing him cry. Being the favored child and not being able to stand it any longer, I told my Dad to stop being so mean to my brother. I knew in a limited way that my Dad wasn’t my brother’s Dad but I didn’t really understand why he was being so hard on my brother. Honestly, as a grown up, I don’t “understand” it because my Dad should have acted more like a father and provided love and guidance as opposed to all out “discipline” which bordered on abuse. But, I understand as an adult that feelings in blended families are complicated and not just simple and straightforward.
What about you? What have you understood one way as a child but now as an adult have a different understanding?
The children’s book, Gloria and the Unicorn, is my latest release. It will be available this Saturday, May 13, 2017. It is a chapter book for ages 8-11.
I was first inspired to write about a miniature white unicorn when I was peddling through the countryside outside Orlando, FL. I saw a farm with one white miniature pony standing proudly in the field. I feel in love instantly. If you know me at all, I love animals–all of them! But, this one, well, he made my heart sing. I knew I had to write a story about him. I spent the rest of my bike ride wondering what story he would tell.
When I finally had a moment alone with my computer, I sat down to type and out came a girl named Gloria who had a droopy face on one side. At first, I wasn’t sure if I could write a tale about a girl with a problem that I hadn’t lived. I was afraid I wouldn’t know how to make it real or if I would be sensitive enough. But, Gloria’s little voice in my head kept encouraging me onward. She wanted her story to be told. And well, the pony became a magical unicorn named Sir Louie. So, on I typed.
I always carry a legal pad with me and one day while waiting at the DMV, I wrote another chapter about Miss Libby, the owner of the children’s home where Gloria lived. It was sad and heart-wrenching. Miss Libby had lost her own parents when she was 21. One night she took care of an abandoned baby until the police could find the baby’s parents. But, when the baby’s parents were found and returned to them, Miss Libby was heart-broken. That’s what made her want to actually adopt other babies and eventually led to her opening Miss Libby’s Lodge. But, that story didn’t make it into the book. No, it was a bit too traumatic for the little ones, my editor said so.
Then, I wrote some more and when I had finished it was 10,000 words long. I felt it shouldn’t be quite that long for a 3rd/4th grader (although I know some can read a book that long). So, I chopped several story lines out (they will be showing up in future sequels). And I worked with my editor and a content editor until I felt I had the story tight and Gloria’s voice was strong and real and lovable. It wound up being 10,000 words anyway. LOL
Now, Gloria and Sir Louie’s story is ready for the world to read. I do hope and pray that Gloria’s story which involves struggle, a beautiful, magical creature called Sir Louie, a difficult school day, and some evil wizards will bless all who read it. She is strong, yet uncertain. She is held back from her dream but perseveres. She makes a choice that has dire consequences. She loves fiercely with everything she has and that makes all the difference. Come along on Gloria and the Unicorn, Sir Louie’s, magical adventure.