Sunday, September 24, 2017

Great Teens Doing Great Things!

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
Teenagers in my neighborhood have shown great courage in many ways.

I’m a mom. I think teens today are getting a bad name that they don’t deserve.

When I was a teen, we made wrong choices more often than what’s happening now.

I wanted to write and let you know, because we only seem to hear about the kids who are acting out.

These teen stories are from my area alone:

• A 13-year-old boy was babysitting two small children, when he saw another small child fall into a pool next door. The parents were gardening and didn’t see her. The boy grabbed the kids he was babysitting, put them on his hip and ran over yelling that their daughter fell into the pool. He put the two kids down, next to the parents, and jumped into the pool and saved the little girl. Our town gave him an award.

• Two senior high school girls were given drugs in their beers. Another girl saw the boy doing it. So she called 911. The boy was arrested. One of the girls went to the hospital. (No, they shouldn’t have been drinking, especially in a hot tub.) Then the girl who reported it was ostracized and bullied for telling on him.

• A girl at our middle school was cyberbullied for her “stupid” and “ugly” hair-style until another girl told on one of the kids. She courageously still proceeded to run for student council and won.

These are just a few examples of our courageous, valiant, and caring kids; teens who made right choices are all around us.

Observant mom

Dear Mom,

Thank you for your thoughtful letter!

It makes a big difference when communities recognize kids with values, depth-of-character, and the courage to do the right thing.

It makes a big difference when parents, teachers, and others recognize and reward teens’ good deeds. We’re not necessarily talking about monetary rewards, but acknowledgement in a magazine, newspaper, or something public.

Courage doesn’t need to be grandiose to be of great value.

These actions show courage:

• Reporting wrong behavior, even if it causes the double-bullying effect; bullied for being good and bullied for reporting

• Living high standards, even when mocked

• Saying no to drugs, alcohol, sex, and bullying

Courage is one of our Foundation’s 5 C’s of Leadership which also include: Civility, Confidence, Creativity, and Communication.

Good job mom!

 Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Technology is here to stay, but bullying and suicides aren't

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
My daughter was cyberbullied last year and now it’s happening again. Someone is threatening to expose my daughter’s “sexting” to her boyfriend. The anonymous bully is demanding sex from her, but she doesn’t know who he is.

More messages revealed my daughter’s suicide threats.

Now she regrets the sexting to her old boyfriend. She said she wishes she was dead because it’s going to ruin her life.

Her friends said everything from “Don’t be so dramatic” to “I would want to die, too.”

I’m so anxious. I didn’t know she had a boyfriend. I don’t have the know-how to look into other things on her phone.

What do I do besides have anxiety attacks?

Anxious mom

Dear Mom,

We understand you’re anxious, however, now is the time to be strong for your daughter. She sounds suicidal. Take her to a professional, now.

A new report states the suicide rate among 15- to 19-year-old girls has doubled in the last few years. Teen boys also had a 30 percent increase in suicides.

Cyberbullying is hard to detect because of its secretive nature. It flies under the radar of parents and teachers. Teens have ways of hiding their behavior with new technology everyday.

It would behoove you to enroll in phone technology classes (often given by your phone carrier).

You may want a therapist to help you with your anxiety.

Cyberbullying is insidious and happens 24/7 and 365 days a year. Here are some tips to protect your daughter:

• Don’t allow her to go to school with a phone.

• Don’t allow nighttime usage by letting her sleep with her phone (often a “charging” excuse will be thrown at you; you charge it).

• Have frequent talks about suicide even when she doesn’t act like she wants to talk — she will ultimately feel your love and care for her. It’s a myth that talking about suicide will cause suicide.

• Talk about hopes, dreams, ideas, and not people, as good examples of communication.

Tell her to report, report, report (until an adult does something constructive) the following bullying behavior that’s happening on her social media or in person:

• Mocking, labeling, name-calling;

• Gossiping and being ignored;

• Being blackmailed (look at our Blackmail Bully column online); and,

• Being manipulated to do things you don’t want to do.

Technology is here to stay. But bullying and suicides don’t have to be.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Lunchbox Bullies

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
I’m a school volunteer and I have witnessed some really disturbing bullying behavior in middle school.

One boy grabbed a neighboring student and made really awful remarks about his healthy sandwich. He grabbed it so hard that it was squished. Tomatoes, spinach and lettuce fell out, and he pushed up the spinach to the little boy’s nose. The boy tried not to cry, but it was too hard. All the boys sitting at that table then taunted the boy and made fun of his healthy food.

To my surprise, the boy with healthy food sat down by the same bullying boys day after day! And the bullying continued.

I politely asked the boys that were bullying to please stop. They ignored me and the bullied boy kept his head down.

Another group of girls made fun of a girl and her “trash food” (not just junk food, but trashy.) The girl left with her food and went into the bathroom to eat!

I’ve watched kids take other kids’ food and throw it away after making fun of it.

I’ve told everyone from other volunteers, cafeteria workers, teachers, and the principal once. They did nothing..

I live in a big city and I looked forward to volunteering. Not now!

No More Volunteering for Me

Dear No More,

We applaud you and others like you who choose to volunteer in some volatile schools.

We can feel your torment. It’s a shame to loose a conscientious volunteer, so here are some suggestions:

• Report, report, report (this is what we tell kids to do until they get help) to all adults around you, including your school district superintendent, until something is done.

• Ask for an absolutely strict rule banning any body shaming, taking another’s food away or switching lunches.

• Promote bringing extra food for those in need. All kids deserve nutritious lunches.

• Have a “silence” rule for maybe twenty minutes and have kids focus on eating-this helps with the loud, rambunctious, and over-stimulation that promotes “acting out.”

• Explain that healthy foods or unhealthy labels are a family decision and not for the kids to judge.

We agree that the environment for a stress-free lunch is greatly necessary in today’s culture. It needs to be dealt with. Allowing slightly longer lunchtimes is also needed.

Thank you and please don’t give up. We need volunteers like you in every size town!

Rhonda & Dr. Cheri

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Family Meal Time Can Reduce Sibling Rivalry

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

What causes sibling rivalry?

Our daughters are terrible about fighting with each other. They are so different. The 12-year-old gets straight A’s but isn’t athletic at all. Our 10-year-old daughter is amazing at soccer and does okay in school.

Our boys don’t fight. In fact, they leave a room and go play together if the girls are arguing.

The girls are jealous of each other. They battle over who is “better.” They do mean things to each other, and then report them to me. I make them go to their rooms until they get along. It works, but not for long.

My sisters and I didn’t get along either, but we were more alike. I thought because my girls are different, they wouldn’t fight.

Mom of dueling girls

Dear Mom,

Your girls aren’t arguing because they are different or alike.

Children develop sibling rivalry between each other for many reasons like jealousy, labeling by parents or each other, or a need for individual time with each parent.

Placing them in a room alone may cause hard feelings to fester.

Improve family communication and relationships by having sit-down dinners.

Have rules like:

    Set a dinner time and give prep responsibilities to each child.

    Have your children make small paper name tents. Mix them up each night.

    Ask each child a couple of questions every night. Don’t allow taunting, labeling, eye rolling, whispering, or laughing at one another – teach respect by making positive remarks about each child. Don’t talk about problems now.

    Have each child take turns helping clean up. This gives them time alone with a parent.

Have a race against the clock, instead of each other, to get ready for bed.

Reward children for their behavior towards each other every day, using a star chart with categories like caring, sharing, and saying, “I’m sorry” when needed. Individually go over it each night. If they had a rough day, ask them what they could do the next day to start over.

Reward your children for good behavior and not only a good job in school. You’ll teach your children to value who they are and what kind of hearts they have toward others.

Hold family meetings regularly and listen to your kids’ opinions about their problems. Ask them for their solutions. This will help teach them how to use and develop their critical thinking skills to resolve problems.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri