I am creating weekly videos for my current school to support parents and their Early Years and Primary aged children. I will add videos here each week until we hit our summer break. Hopefully, you will find them helpful.
This is video helps adults consider current life stressors and switching thinking to what we can control.
5-4-3-2-1 is a common grounding exercise used to support people struggling with anxiety. This video is for children to watch and parents might like to help their children put this into practice (Halloran Coping skills for kids workbook: over 75 coping strategies to help kids deal with stress, anxiety and anger 35).
I run a course called Positive Discipline. This is a refresher for parents about the importance of connecting with children before correcting them. I also discuss the importance of children being able to label their feelings.
The following two videos are designed to help children label a common feeling they are experiencing and creating a thermometer to figure out what they look like as the feeling goes from mild to intense and what they can do when they are at each level of intensity to feel more in control. Little ones will need help with this.
When we are struggling, we tend to scan for the negative; that's an important survival skill. But, when our life is not in danger, sharing gratitude can help us shift our focus to the positive.
Putting character strengths into action is a powerful way to help children and adults spiral upward.
Recently, you might notice a shift from positive to negative self-talk in your children and maybe even yourself. How do we make a shift? (The top video is for children and the bottom one is for parents.)
Parents who are trying to help children leave, stay, or arrive at a school well might benefit from watching this video.
I've had parents ask about how to support children who are struggling to sleep and seem to be having vivid nightmares. After talking about why this is normal, I share tips for helping your children (and you) get better sleep.
I've been asked how to set boundaries for device usage during this time. The approach should be the same regardless of the timing. The goal should be to teach children and teens to be problem-solvers and to believe that they have the capability to contribute to solutions for the good of the family.
One thing that schools and families should not overlook is child protection during distance learning.
Please keep child protection in mind as you navigate online learning. You might want to include something like this when you invite students for an online class:
Dear .... class,
I'm looking forward to meeting at ____ .
Please remember that you should:
My counseling buddy, Alma Croft, put slides together based on the infographic created by ICMEC, and I’ve added an explanation of each slide.
(Apologies for not being on here for ages. I have been developing a MS SEL program for international schools.)
Bali is joining many in the world by starting online learning for the good of the community. I have many international friends who have been experiencing this online world for 7-weeks now. I picked their brains a bit and will be sharing some of their words of wisdom. Over the next few weeks, I will also share parenting strategies from my favorite parenting courses. There are tools that can be implemented easily and quickly that can change dynamics in the home quite quickly. Families are going to be in each others’ spaces more and that will be delightful at times and at other times, it will be draining. I hope these tips help you get underway in a calm, clearheaded way.
Let’s start with routines. Maintaining routines is a key way to help children feel secure. From a very young age, children can look at a routine chart and follow the steps. For little ones, I’d recommend using pictures of them doing the activities for their chart. They love seeing their own pictures on the chart so run with that.
Normally, we suggest a morning and evening routine. With online learning that might look a bit differently. A typical morning routine would include: brushing your teeth, showering, getting dressed, and having breakfast, for example. An evening routine might include: getting a shower/bath, putting on pajamas, packing bag for school, reading a book, and relaxing in bed. We will now have to help children manage their learning time. Many of you will be working and might find that you need to set your work schedule with consideration of how you can help your children and teens manage their lives. Creating routine charts for everyone in the family might help you to see how much support you are going to need.
Here are examples of routines that might work for my current school:
While these might not work exactly for you in your situation, they hopefully give you an idea. For little ones, break their day up into tiny chunks with a great deal of play and rest. As students get older, one of their biggest challenges is figuring out how they will manage all that they are assigned. First, have them write down all of their long-term assignments, how long they believe they will take, and when they are due. White boards are great for this process. For many, having the assignments whirling in their heads is overwhelming. Once they write the time the assignments will take and when they are due, have them work backward. Do they work better in smaller chunks of time or are they the type to crank out an assignment once they get rolling? Many teens start with short-term assignments because they like to tick things off their list. Try to help them shift this way of working to starting with long-term assignments first. This helps prevent procrastination.
One of my former colleagues mentioned the importance of the morning routine during this switch to working online. It’s easy to say, “Oh, I don’t have to get up as early.” Or maybe you think, “I’m not even going to bother to shower because I don’t have any online meetings today.” Before you know it, a good chunk of the morning could be gone before you’ve even started.
Beyond routines, I highly recommend that each person in your family figure out a time in the day where you will be able to have alone time. What does that look like for each of you? Some people like quiet time in a bath, some create a little reading nook, others like a punching bag or a running trail. Set those times into your routines and stick to them.
Understand that this is not the mode of teaching that most teachers and students have experienced. Some schools honestly have no idea what platforms to even use because their students have little to no experience with devices. There is a good chance that this will be frustrating for everyone involved on some level.
Parents and teachers, here are some resources that might keep you sane:
International School Services put together links for supporting pre-K to 12 moves to online learning
Virtual field trips
Free subscriptions to educational programs due to school closings
Endless ideas for what to do with kids when they are “bored”
Infographic on Child Protection during online learning sessions
Parent Effectiveness Training - Dr. Thomas Gordon
As a school counselor I am often asked by parents to run parenting workshops. This is a tricky one because parenting styles vary a great deal from home to home and culture to culture.
I recently had the pleasure of being a student in a course called Parent Effectiveness Training which was designed by Dr Thomas Gordon, who worked closely with Dr Carl Rogers. This is the program I would use for parenting workshops but also to help people improve work or personal relationships.
I asked for permission to share this behavior window with you because this visual can truly help you approach situations in an effective way. I have labeled the chart A to E to help clarify my explanations. I post this window on my refrigerator and constantly ask myself, "Who owns the problem?" Depending on who owns the problem, there are different ways to approach the situation.
I will break each section into small parts and give an example using a situation with a child or teen. For the examples, I will post the discussion of one person in bold and the other in italics.
Keep in mind that you can use these same techniques with adults. I think you will be surprised at the results but just know up front that this takes a lot of practice and will seem a bit forced at first. Keep trying!
A -> Someone else owns the problem
Mom, all of my friends have unlimited access to their computer.
Mom tilts her head.
I think you and dad are too strict and you probably don't realize that Jessica's mom let's her do whatever she wants.
Why aren't you saying anything?
Mom leans forward a bit.
I know some people my age use their computers irresponsibly but I don't. Why are you so tough on me?
You think we're tough on you?
Well, that's not really the point. I'm a pretty good teenager considering what some of my friends are doing.
We don't recognize how well you're doing?
Well, not often. Do you realize that Jessica is talking to complete strangers and has agreed to meet up with someone she doesn't even know?
So you're feeling scared for Jess?
Actually, yes. Can we invite her over tomorrow so she can talk with you? I'll start the conversation and then maybe you can help her understand how dangerous this is. She opens up with you.
You'd like my support?
Yes, can I get in touch with her now and ask her to come to breakfast with us tomorrow?
Of course. Let me know what she thinks.
How differently would the conversation have gone if the mom simply responded with a solution to the first problem presented, which was not having unlimited access to her computer? She could've said, "Your dad and I make the rules. If you don't like it, feel free to hand over your laptop." She would've never realized that her caring daughter is in need of some support. How often do you hear teens scream, "Oh, never mind!" as they stomp off? This typically means an opportunity was missed to be supportive. As a counselor I can tell you, it's rare for a person to start with their actual problem or concern.
Probably the number one complaint I get from one adult in a partnership is that the other person is not listening and wants to just quickly dismiss or solve problems. "Honey, I had a terrible day today. My co-worker drove me nuts." "Well, I told you not to hang around that person so what do you expect." The way this is often perceived is that one person in the relationship believes the other is incapable of solving problems. If you think you are guilty of solving other people's problems, try implementing the techniques in blue.
I can tell you that I have implemented this with a toddler and I've been surprised by the solutions she manages herself. A simple example was her unsafely turning in a high chair and screaming. She was trying to communicate a problem of not being able to see something interesting. A slight turn of the chair made her happy because she could easily see what caught her attention. She had a solution, I just had to recognize it. Babies and toddlers cannot verbalize their solutions so they find ways to get attention over and over until you understand.
B -> No problem area
Nadim, I remember last year when school started, you felt exhausted by week 6 because you took on so many after school activities in addition to all of your sports?
Oh yea, I totally forgot about that.
I want you to be healthy and balanced this year.
I get that. I'm just not sure how to say no, especially if the activity interests me or involves my closest friends.
I love that you enjoy being so involved. Is there a way we could roughly plan out your year and decide how many activities are realistic for each term?
When I get home, I think we can get that sorted. I might also need some help with how to tell my friends that I'm not going to join all of their activities.
Gotcha. Let's work on this after dinner this evening.
I consider this "no problem area" as preventative work. These are the conversations you have with a person when neither of you are upset. Some parents are great at using commute time or having conversations after dinner or before bed for this purpose.
Think of someone at work who interrupts you every day while you are trying to accomplish tasks. You could have a casual conversation with them over a coffee so you don't get to the point where you have to be more confrontational. "I truly appreciate our chats at work every day but I'd like to ask you to stop back for a chat at a different time if I am using my headphones. When I have headphones on that means I'm totally in a zone accomplishing tasks. What will clue me in that you are in your zone and I shouldn't interrupt you?"
C -> You own the problem
I need to talk to you as soon as you get home today. I expect you to be sitting at the kitchen table when I arrive.
It's possible that I have to work with a group on my Art project.
Let me be clear. I know you are completing an Art project with a group and they are relying on you. I expect you to be sitting at the kitchen table waiting for me by the time I arrive home today. All other priorities will be addressed after we have our discussion.
I think you are overreacting again. I don't really have time for this.
I will see you at the kitchen table when I arrive home.
... I was disappointed and worried when I saw you come through the door drunk last night. I couldn't tell the state of the person who drove you home and if we have been clear about anything it is that if you make a poor choice and need support, we expect you to call us to help you. Our trust has been broken so let's talk about a consequence that fits this situation.
My friend who drove didn't drink anything.
I'll bring you back to the fact that we were disappointed and worried. It's not okay for you to put us in that position. Our agreement is clear and simple. We are the people who drive you home if you make a poor choice. Now, let's get back to our discussion of a consequence.
This isn't fair.
I'm giving you an opportunity to start the discussion on a consequence if you'd like input.
Okay, how about no going out next weekend?
This is a serious situation. I'm not accepting that.
No going out on weekends for the next month and any interactions with friends has to be done here in your house.
We'll touch base after a month and determine if the consequence was sufficient.
When you have a problem with someone, you set the time with the person where you will address the issue. I will remind you that anger is a second emotion. Before you set a time to meet with someone who upset you, determine what you were feeling before the anger kicked in. Use the thought checker I shared awhile back if you are struggling to calm down. Yelling in anger is often ineffective because people tune out when someone is screaming at them. The reaction is quite different if I wait until I'm calm and say, "I was so anxious and disappointed when you came home late last night. I had all of these terrible thoughts run through my head of what was wrong. I need you to touch base when you are running late, even if it's only a few minutes. The next time I catch you sneaking in late, you will not go out with friends for 3 weeks." When you own the problem, you set the tone, be clear in expectations, and stick to your decisions. When they try to change the subject, you bring them back on track.
D -> Both own problem/conflict of needs
E -> Both own problem/values collision
D & E are where both people involved recognize there is a problem. These are both solved in similar ways following six steps.
1. Define everyone's needs.
I value time with my friends and would appreciate time for social networking before you send me to bed. I'm asked to be involved in activities but then I don't get a chance for downtime.
I need you to be in bed by 10 at the latest because sleep is important for your growth, brain development and mood. I don't want your phone in your bedroom.
2. Brainstorm solutions. Let each person share all of their ideas and record them, even if some ideas seem outrageous to you.
3. Evaluate ideas. Check or highlight ideas that are acceptable to both parties.
4. Decide on a final solution and 5. Implement.
We agree that I can use my phone before and after school for 30 minutes. If my homework is finished and there is time, I can have 30 minutes before getting my shower and relaxing before bed. I won't have any screen time for the hour leading up to my bedtime. We'll touch base in two weeks and decide if this is working well.
6. Evaluate the solution.
Meet after the agreed upon trial period and adjust the plan as needed.
I want to draw attention to the point that all of these discussions happen with different types of I-messages. If I start my discussions with I-messages of one kind or another. The person I'm talking with cannot dismiss my thoughts and my feelings. More importantly, the other person does not have a feeling of being cornered. How do you feel you would react if someone said, "You wasted a lot of my time yesterday when I was really busy." How differently would you react if I said, "I really value my time at work because I have a 2.5 year old to play with when I get home. Can I ask you to schedule a time with me in advance?" Using a you-statement makes the person on the other end feel a need to defend actions, whereas an I-statement helps the other person empathize with the person delivering the message. Try to shift from starting sentences with "you" when you have a concern.
As I've already said, this might seem unrealistic and certainly will feel extremely challenging for many people. Give it a try. With practice I honestly believe your relationships will improve considerably.
Gordon, Dr Thomas. “Gordon Training International.” Gordon Training International, 2016, www.gordontraining.com/. Accessed 24 Aug. 2017.
I know I have briefly mentioned mindfulness in past entries but I want to take some time to focus on this issue in more depth. I will start with a quote I received from the Headpace app two days ago, "Our state of mind defines every single relationship in our life. So why do we not make looking after it a priority?" If you have worked with me, you know I preach this regularly. We are quick to go to the doctor if we have a physical symptom and we definitely wouldn't ignore a cancer or diabetes diagnosis or leave a fracture untreated. When it comes to our mental health, how many of us say, "Oh, it's just a phase." We see family or friends struggling with their mental health and our advice is, "Suck it up. People have worse things to deal with." Mental health is a key part of our well being and when our mental health is out of sorts, other parts of our health can go downhill quickly. Make mental health a priority, not an afterthought.
Practicing mindfulness daily can be a perfect start to looking after your mental state.
How did I get started?
When I started, I used two apps, Headspace and Simply Being. They are simple to use and you don't have to know a thing about mindfulness to begin. I chose to practice during a ten minute work break and right before bed. You can choose any time of day and you can be mindful during any activity. I'd suggest you start simply, though, like I did. If you tend to check news or social networking first thing in the morning or before going to bed, try mindfulness instead for a week and see if you notice a positive change.
Some ways I apply mindfulness
Child-rearing - I have a toddler who gets up twice every night and always has. Instead of judging myself or this little gem, I decided to use that time to simply be present with her. At the age when she needed held, I'd looked closely at her while thoughts and emotions came and went. Not all of my thoughts were positive, she was getting me up at 11:30 pm and 2:30 am and was ready to start her day at 5 am. Don't assume that you will only have positive thoughts and emotions; that's not what mindfulness is about. "Girl, I'd really like you to quickly down this drink and get back to sleep." Or, "I'm so lucky to have this little cutie." I randomly felt sad, frustrated, happy, fortunate, calm, overwhelmed, loving, and so on. Believe it or not, I do the same thing when she's having a tantrum. "She's trying to tell me something so I need to try to help her communicate," or "I have no idea what she wants and I feel like crying myself." The thoughts and emotions coming and going can be all over the place but I find myself quite calm even at these stressful times.
My child knows the voice of Andy from Headspace and likes the soothing sound of the ocean background in Simply Being. We have a routine of reading a few books and then I say, "Would you like to hear Andy or the ocean?" She is very clear of her preference on a given day. Sometimes when really tired, she says, "Mama, Andy," or "Mama, ocean."
Benefits of Mindfulness
I took an edX course run by Dr Dacher Keltner and Dr Emiliana Simon-Thomos called Science of Happiness (2014). In this course they run through many studies that have been conducted to check the effectiveness of Mindfulness. Some of the benefits are shared below.
Look at the benefits above. If you find that you struggle, could starting mindfulness practice be a step to get you moving in the right direction? For those of you who have attention difficulties, be patient when you first start. Understand that mindfulness does not come easily and takes persistence, an open-mind, and understanding of the importance of being patient with yourself as you learn. Start small, just a few minutes a day and build from there.
Mindfulness for the classroom - appropriate for teachers or parents with no experience
Mindfulness resources for teens and teachers building programs - appropriate for adults, as well
Mindfulness resources for all ages
Science of Happiness - can take the course for free or a minimal fee if you'd like a certificate of completion
Information about Mindful Based Cognitive Therapy - includes simple exercises
2017 Mindfulness articles - includes articles with links to videos, courses, child, teen, and adult activities
Quiz created by Greater Good out of Berkley to get a sense of where you are in terms of mindfulness.
Cardaciotto, Herbert L., J. D. Forman, E. Moitra, and V. Farrow. "Mindfulness Quiz." Greater Good. Berkley, 2008. Web. 02 Mar. 2017.
Hannay, Catharine. "Five Senses Snack: A Mindful Eating Chart." Mindful Teachers. Mindfulteachers.org, 9 Aug. 2013. Web. 29 Apr. 2017.
Keltner, Dacher and Emiliana Simon-Thomas. "Science of Happiness." Science of Happiness. Berkley. 20 Oct. 2014. EdX - Science of Happiness. Web. 29 Apr. 2017.
Puddicombe, Andy. Andy Puddicombe: All it takes is 10 mindful minutes | TED Talk | TED.com. N.p., Jan. 2013. Web. 29 Apr. 2017.
Tix, Andy, Thomas Hills, and Eval Winter. Mindfulness." Psychology Today. N.p., 2017. Web. 02 Mar. 2017.
Stahl, Bob. MBSRWorkbook. Raisin Meditation. YouTube, 22 Mar. 2010. Web. 29 Apr. 2017.
For those of us in the international world, this is a time of year where some are in the midst of trying to get positions for their next location. Congratulations to those of you who have successfully landed your next spot! There are a lot of things to consider. Do we go or is it better to stay? If we go, what exactly are we looking for in the next place: location, workplace environment, professional growth, options for outdoor exploring, a challenge, a great package? Even with a clear plan, this international world of moving lends to uncertainty. I'm quite certain international educators are rare in that we have to decide we are moving and resign before we have a clue where we are going next. Basically from around October peers in our communities have been looking at openings, getting excited, and at times dealing with rejection. Some won't find their match until much later this school year. The process can be nearly a school year of added stress that others may or may not be aware of.
I think one key to this process is to try to not take a school's response, or lack thereof, personally. I have seen both sides of this process and the hiring side is trying to piece together a complex puzzle. Teachers apply who are: single, a couple, or same sex couple; minorities; with or without children; inexperienced but vibrant or experienced on the higher end of the pay scale; from a country that complicates Visa issues; or in a partnership where one partner is highly desirable and the other not for this particular year. You get the idea. The bottom line is that you look at a school's needs and see that you are a great fit but you do not know what they need for their particular school nor do you always know their restrictions. They have a very clear idea of the type of client that manages well and is safe in their host country and school. They are considering how mixed a department or grade level team is. There can be hundreds of applicants for one position and as applicants we often forget this because we are so anxious about landing the dream job.
Administrators looking to move on also face challenges. They apply for a position and there typically seem to be 70 - 100+ applicants. If lucky, they get an initial fifteen minute interview followed by a possible two, three, or more interviews. If selected, they are often one of two or three flown to a country, which means they take off work to have
33-50% odds of landing the job. If they don't get it, they dust themselves off, pick up their ego, and start the process again. Imagine going through this process while recruiting for your current school's staffing needs and running a school.
Key things to consider:
Best of luck, Sharon
Mohr, Tara Sophia. "Why Women Don't Apply for Jobs Unless They're 100% Qualified" Hiring, Harvard Business Review, 25 Aug. 2014, https://hbr.org/2014/08/why-women-dont-apply-for-jobs-unless-theyre-100-qualified. Accessed 12 Jan. 2017.
https://thumbs.dreamstime.com./z/businessman-pointing-spot-world-map-275570892.jpg. Accessed 12 Jan.2017.
Regardless of where you live, this time of year is full of festivities. Many of us enjoy this time of year but I think it's a good time to remind people to look out for those who are on their own, struggling with their mental or physical health, having financial difficulties, lost a loved one in the past year, and those fighting addiction to name a few. Some of you reading this are thinking this is the toughest time of the year for you and you might not even be able to pinpoint why. Following are some simple suggestions to help yourself or others at this time of the year.
Sun and nature
This time of year can be a challenge in the Northern Hemisphere because people go to school or work in the dark and come home in the dark. Trust me when I tell you that counselors see an uptick in lines outside their door during darker months. People have dips in serotonin levels and the decrease in sunlight can trigger depression. Changes in melatonin levels can change your sleep patterns and mood (Mayo Clinic Staff). If you notice that you feel low this time of year:
Holidays can be quite stressful and people who don't struggle can be quite relentless with those who do. Give consideration to some of the following situations:
Make sure at this busy time of year that you take time to recharge your batteries. You cannot look after others if you don't keep yourself healthy and balanced. Self-care is something I mention regularly. There are endless ways to look after yourself but here are a few simple suggestions:
Check your insurance to see if you are covered for going to a counselor or therapist. If you are, take advantage of this benefit. How often do you have the opportunity to sit in front of someone who is there solely for you and is truly neutral? Typically when someone talks to me the first time they end by saying "I can't believe how much I just shared with you. I figured I'd just sit here and have nothing to say." Your mental health is as important as your physical health. How much time are you investing in each? Make your well-being a priority.
International Suicide Hotline
US Suicide Hotline
US Veterans Crisis Site
US Domestic Violence Hotline
Hotlines listed by country
Staff, Mayo Clinic. “Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) Causes.” Mayoclinic, 12 Sept. 2014, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/basics/causes/con-20021047. Accessed 6 Dec. 2016.
Keltner & Simon-Thomas. “Science of Happiness.” EdX. Online Course, Berkley. Sept. 2014. Online Lecture.
As a teacher and counselor, I can tell you that I've had far too many days where it took everything in me to keep my composure while in front of children and teens. There are times that I've heard such heart-wrenching stories that I have literally fallen apart in front of peers, or if lucky, I've managed to hold it together until I've walked through the door of my home. Children and teens of every society are vulnerable and at times they witness their moms being in helpless situations, as well. In many societies, there is still often no way out. As an example, in Bangladesh, 87% of married women will be victims of abuse by their husbands and the country is ill-equipped with services to help (Corraya, 2014). Don't think for a moment the abuse ends with the wife. To make matters worse, financial laws are in favor of men. In 2013, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry of Japan reported that 73,765 cases of abuse were handled by their child services (Ito). Reporting is up but that does not necessarily equate to help. In a conference I attended in Tokyo on helping abused children, counselors and teachers were told to encourage children to report their own parents for abuse because if a child reported the abuse, the help happened much more swiftly. In Germany and the US, social services exist but the social workers are often overwhelmed. In Mauritius, as in many places, abuse is often not reported due to cultural stigma (Lexpress, 2007). In the expat scene, abused trailing partners and children are often in very vulnerable positions if they are in a country on dependent Visas with the trailing partner having no financial means.
Why do I share this with you? Regardless of where I have lived, women and children often live in trying circumstances and have no way out, or the way out is not promising. I do not mean to imply that men are never victims, especially if they are homosexual or transgender, nor do I want to make light of the seriousness of men's issues. My focus for this post will be on women, children, and teens, as statistics warrant this being presented as a separate issue; however, many of the links I share also include statistics about men.
My goal with this post is to maybe help you to help the children and the women we love live as safe and healthy a life as possible. We can't be with our own children all day, every day and we can't take our most troubled students home with us. We can try to prepare them with tools and knowledge and ensure they know we are their best partners in life. We can look out for the struggling children in our communities. I venture to say that one of the biggest mistakes we make, though done with the best of intentions, is trying to keep our own children in a bubble. Accurate, timely information is key, and as adults, we need to start discussing these taboo topics with one another more honestly and openly. I'm going to provide you with the information to get these discussions started.
Infants, toddlers, and pre-schoolers
5 to 9 year olds
10-12 year olds
13-18 year olds
Ways to get involved
The issues I shared above are ones women, children, and teens I know are most likely to face. I recognize that I did not touch some of the pressing global issues for children and women but I've tried to include links below of ways you can get involved. I know people hesitate to leave comments on mental health blogs, but I would love for people to share any organizations or ideas you have for ways people can get involved with these issues. The whole point of the blog is to get people talking openly; changes are happening for the better but we all need to get involved.
The active links for videos and resources above will take you directly to the sites where I conducted my research. The other sources are listed below. Photo - here.
"Adolescents: Health Risks and Solutions." World Health Organization. WHO, May 2016. Web. 27 June 2016.
Corraya, Sumon. "BANGLADESH In Bangladesh, 87 per Cent of Women Victims of Domestic Violence." BANGLADESH In Bangladesh, 87 per Cent of Women Victims of Domestic Violence. Asia News, 03 Feb. 2014. Web. 16 June 2016.
"Darkness to Light." Darkness to Light - End Child Sexual Abuse. D2L, 2013. Web. 17 June 2016.
"Domestic Violence in Mauritius." Lexpress.mu. Lexpress, 08 Mar. 2007. Web. 17 June 2016.
Ito, Masimi. "Waking up to Child Abuse | The Japan Times." Japan Times RSS. Japan Times, 13 Sept. 2014. Web. 16 June 2016.
Jackson, Andrew. "SelfieCop - Stats about Selfies & Sexting." SelfieCop. ISPCC, 2016. Web. 28 June 2016.
Jewitt, Sarah, and Harriet Ryley. "It’s a Girl Thing: Menstruation, School Attendance, Spatial Mobility and Wider Gender Inequalities in Kenya." Geoforum 56 (2014): 137-47. Web. 17 July 2016.
New, Michelle J., PhD. "Date Rape." KidsHealth - the Web's Most Visited Site about Children's Health. The Nemours Foundation, Oct. 2014. Web. 27 June 2016.
"Victims of Sexual Violence: Statistics | RAINN." Victims of Sexual Violence: Statistics | RAINN. RAINN, 2016. Web. 09 July 2016.
What do you do when you have all of 20 minutes to inhale lunch before you run to your next meeting and coming your way is an unbelievably pessimistic workmate? I have witnessed that many individuals are totally selfless in such situations and let the pessimistic person consume an entire break. Some people fuel the fire which means this is not the last time the pessimist will be sucking up every free moment of people's days.
What if reading the first paragraph made you anxious because you suddenly realized you monopolize work colleagues' time with your negativity? How do you even know for sure if you are pessimistic? Is it necessary to change? If so, what can you do to change?
I'm certainly not going to say that having negative thoughts or emotions is abnormal. As a matter of fact, we all know people who pretend to be so positive that no one buys a word they say. The basic idea is to try to increase your positive interactions and emotions in your work and personal relationships, as this spirals you upward.
Positive : Negative Ratios
Optimists vs Pessimists
Barbara Fredrickson has invested a great deal of her research time looking at happiness and the positivity ratio. On her Positivity website you can take a quick test rating yourself on 20 questions.This will give you a snapshot of how positive you are on this particular day, for instance mine was 3.3 : 1 the other day and 10:1 today. Try the test each day for two weeks to get a realistic picture of your positivity ratio. This will give you an idea if you tend to stay above 3:1.
Quick exercises to boost your optimism
Helping a pessimist
Considering the negative person approaching you is likely struggling, try to be empathic without enabling the behavior. That being said, if I'm dealing with a time constraint, I often ask if they are wanting to vent or needing my help with solving a problem. I then provide them with a time that works for me so I can mentally prepare myself. While I'm talking with the individual, if a negative statement is made, I ask for the evidence there is to support the statement. Example: "People always listen to you but when I try to say something, no one pays attention." My response might be, "Okay, I hear what you are saying. Let's look at when you were talking while a group of us were eating lunch yesterday. How many people said something in response to your comment about being excited about moving to India next year?" Trust me, the light bulb won't necessarily click on. As a matter of fact, you will likely hear, "Yea, but that was one time. That's not how things usually go for me." Helping this person dispute thinking will take time and more than one instance. Patience. If you really want to help this individual, which will likely help all of you in the work environment, practice patience with this individual.
Before ending the discussion, tell the person you want to end on a positive note. Ask what has been going well for the individual or what they feel grateful for over the past few weeks. People who are struggling have a hard time with this so have a few things in mind that you've noticed.
Pessimism on social networking
These results should make you consider your friends on social networking. Think about your friends who make you laugh daily via social networking and how even if you are not sure how to respond, you have the urge to join in on the fun. Sadly, we all know people who seem to only post negativity. Could they possibly complain any more? What does this do for you? Think about how you react. I know that I have quite strong reactions, like clenching my jaw, feeling a bit nauseous, thinking about the post longer than I'd like, and tensing my shoulders. As you read above, many have an urge to post a negative response to fuel the negativity. Which type of people do you want affecting your mood? On Facebook you can "unfollow" people. By unfollowing pessimists, they are still your friends but you won't see their daily negativity. You can check their page every so often and like their positive posts, if you can find any. You have enough stress in your daily life, keep social networking lighthearted. If you are guilty of daily negative posts, try for the next week to post only positive posts and see how many more likes and positive reactions you receive. How do you feel in comparison to getting reactions from negative posts?
There are clear benefits to working on increasing levels of optimism in your life. Where will you begin?
Akhtar, Miriam. Positive Psychology for Overcoming Depression: Self-help Strategies for Happiness, Inner Strength and Well-being. London: Watkins, 2012. Print.
Colman, Jessica, MAPP. Optimal Functioning: A Positive Psychology Handbook. N.p.: Colman, 2010. Electronic.
Fredrickson, Barbara, PhD. "Positive Psychology." Coursera. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Mar. 2015. Lecture.
Fredrickson, Barbara, PhD. "Positivity Test." Positivity. Fredrickson, 2009. Web. 27 Apr. 2016. <https://www.positivityratio.com/index.php>.
Keltner, Dacher. Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life. New York: W.W. Norton, 2009. Print.
Maldonado, Marissa. "The Anxiety of Facebook." PsychCentral. N.p., 2015. Web. 27 Apr. 2016. <http://psychcentral.com/lib/the-anxiety-of-facebook/>.
Lyubomirsky, Sonja. The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want. New York: Penguin, 2008. Print.
O'Hanlon, Bill, and Bob Bertolino. The Therapist's Notebook on Positive Psychology: Activities, Exercises, and Handouts. New York, NY: Brunner-Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2012. Print.
Peterson, Christopher. A Primer in Positive Psychology. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2006. Print.
Top image is mine and edited using Font Candy / Second image is the Facebook logo that I edited on Font Candy
Sexual Education is a source of stress for educators and parents. I will be spending the next few months writing blogs on this topic on my teen page, which will be beneficial for you to read, as well. Sexual Education doesn't start at puberty. Your reaction to your baby playing with his penis or her vulva is educating your child. As is your view of playing "doctor" or teaching your child about "safe" touches in pre-school. Sexual Education doesn't end in high school, as many young adults will more actively explore their sexuality at university. They could also face circumstances, like walking across a campus at night or going to large parties where vulnerability sometimes becomes very real. Perhaps they see friends involved in abusive relationships. They might directly enter the work force and find themselves facing sexual harassment. Your role in this challenging area of development is an important one. Ensuring your kids have a number of adults you all trust is key. Sadly, they will not always go to you, even if you are typically their biggest ally and confidant.
Feel free to send me links you find educational and helpful and I'll try to incorporate them in my blogs. Contact me if you need a Skype session to develop your Sexual Education program in school or if you need help planning a talk with your child.
Parker, Imogen. "Young People, Sex and Relationships: The New Norms." IPPR. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2016.
I like to share brief, researched tips to help people lead a balanced life. Typically I send ideas via emails to expat teachers or students where I work. I've decided to share to a larger audience. While some parts of my blogs will clearly be geared toward expat educators, many shared ideas will be generic tips that apply to anyone.