Sunday, October 29, 2017

On-line self-harm-a new form of bullying

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
Our teen daughter has made creative videos for Youtube. We live in New York City. We’re working musicians in an orchestra.

We’ve taken her to many Broadway shows since she was young. She loved them. She wanted to act since then, but we avoided that. Many of our friends in the industry said it wasn’t emotionally healthy for kids.

We put her into dance classes. She was fairly good, but not outstanding. She also took musical comedy classes.

As a pre-teen, she started cutting herself. We couldn’t figure out why, but we got her professional help. We changed her school and she’s gone to an all-girls’ school. She gave up on dance. She’s very smart in academics.

She was our only child for a long time and then we had a boy. She fights with him constantly.

We just found out she has been making up videos and claiming she was bullied. We dug deep and found out she is bullying herself on-line, just for attention.

Should we have let her pursue a career in the industry?

Parents of a self-harmer

Dear Parents,

Blame is not the issue, so please don’t blame yourselves. How she got here isn’t as important as what you do next. She may need a professional assessment.

Self-harming on-line is a relatively new form of cyberbullying. Teens are basing their worth on their looks, their talents, their intelligence, and many other outside tangible forms of identifying themselves.

Social media as an identity source is superficial and one-dimensional, but kids don’t always make that connection. It has changed the rules by helping them create an over-simplified persona.

Feeling one-dimensional can create enormous anxiety, depression, envy, and insecurity. These ingredients can lead to self-harm through on-line self-abuse.

It’s not about her just “wanting attention.” But you can help her get healthy attention by investigating her internal and external talents.

Talent development helps kids focus on something other than their own emotional pain. They naturally want to share their talents and that’s a great thing. This helps them to provide service.

All human beings innately desire deeper connections and service provides that.

Youtube can feel like a good tool for teens to express their emotional pain, because others will react to them. However, a better and safer tool for her to express herself and use her creativity is to share real-life performances before safe and smaller groups of friends and family.

Since this is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, there’s no better time to explore this new and harmful trend. That will help your daughter the most. Do it together.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Let kids pick their own talents

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
Our nine-year-old son won’t stick to anything. He likes drawing cartoon characters to relieve stress. My husband tells him it’s a waste of time. Now our son hides his drawings.

Our son is super good at soccer. My husband has him on every soccer team and doing every type of coaching and classes.

He pushes him and tells him that he needs to get a soccer scholarship to college. My son just goes along with it.

I happened to see our son watching his sisters rehearse for a play they’re doing at school. They invited him to participate and gave him a part to help them practice.

It’s a musical. He started singing and he was unbelievably good at singing and acting. Plus, he loves it.

My husband got mad and told him he was throwing his life away. I told my husband our son is only nine years old. My husband stormed out.

The next morning, our son came down with his soccer clothes on, saying he was ready to practice, to the delight of my husband.

Should I be sad? It bothers me.

Sad Mom

Dear Mom,

Please talk with your husband, alone. Ask him to allow his son to pick one talent that he loves and wants to seriously try out.

“Seriously trying it out” means being committed for six months of taking classes, being coached, and trying hard. After six months, your son can reassess what he wants to do for the next six months. But your child, not his father, has to choose.

If your son chooses singing and acting over soccer, let him.

Six months gives a child time to see where his passion is. He’ll also learn the value of commitment.

Tell your husband that you understand he’s just trying to help his son participate in something that will help him in his future. However, your son has to love, love, love what he’s doing or he won’t be successful, no matter how good he is.

Kids need to learn how to deal with failure and criticism. They also need to be encouraged and praised.

Your husband and you may need counseling if he won’t try to help his son choose his own talents to develop.

And please let your son draw to relieve stress or just for fun. It’s productive and in the future, he may just want to try it out for six months.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Is my child a victim of my domestic abuse?

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

My two daughters saw me being violently abused by their father. I was hit, kicked, and punched when my oldest was four years old and I was pregnant with my next daughter.

My husband actually hit the older daughter with a shoe he threw at me and missed.

She also saw him jump on me when I was pregnant and scream in my face. She hid that time.

She was 10 years old when I left with them. I was a teacher, but had a hard time focusing and lost my job. It didn’t help that my sister put me down for leaving my husband.

I did finally get things together and we now live in a small apartment.

My oldest girl resents me now. She won’t have her friends over because she doesn’t want them to see her room she has to “share” with her little sister.

My younger daughter is mostly solitary. She always tells me she loves me. I think my other daughter loves me but she’s just confused. Maybe she’ll grow out of this stage.

Abused Mom

Dear Mom,

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3.3 million children witness domestic abuse in the US annually.

We know you are trying as hard as you can, however, kids who come from violent homes don’t “grow out of it.”

Many women like you go through denial, think their spouse will change, are scared they are responsible for a broken home, and are in so much pain emotionally, that it’s hard to figure out the ramifications of leaving. You are courageous to leave when you did.

Children who witness abuse and violence react in the following ways:
Substance abuse and other addictions
Date rape and sexual assault
Running away and skipping school
Using pornography
Continuing the cycle of violence
Feelings of guilt for their inability to stop the abuse

As adults, they are:
11 percent more likely to become an alcoholic
42 percent more likely experience chronic depression
10 percent more likely to commit suicide

The CDC reports that each year two million women are injured and 1,300 are killed in domestic violence incidents. Three women are murdered every day by their intimate partner.

Caregivers, family, and friends that create safe, nurturing, positive and healthy relationships with the witnessing children are the single most effective factor in their healing.

Most of all, give them love, be consistent with them, and create calm.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Civility in the answer to bullying

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

A friend of my daughter is bullying her by harassing and humiliating her with damaging comments. She also gets classmates to exclude her from many activities.

She told others that my daughter was having sex with an older boy in our neighborhood. I found out from my daughter that she didn’t even know his name!

I wanted to have a party for my daughter to help stop the bullying, but she said no to it because she thinks no one will come.

My daughter didn’t do anything to deserve this wrong-doing. The girl called her stupid a million times and shoved her around. She’s pushed her food tray off their lunch tables.

My daughter’s cried, begged not to go to school, told her teacher (who said she told the principal and talked with the girl and her parents).

My daughter is being bullied and abused. My heart is breaking for her. I don’t know how to stop it!

Signed, Sad Mom

Dear Sad Mom,

Young people are bullied every seven seconds. It’s the most common form of abuse our school-aged children experience.

In the U.S., 160,000 kids stay home from school each day for fear of being bullied. Who knows how many, like your daughter, are begging to stay home.

Exhaust every resource for help at the school level and then go to the next level. As a last resort, look into other school options. Then get involved with your daughter’s school.

Your daughter’s isolating herself in order to escape her pain and probable depression. There are many free and inexpensive professionals to help.

Encourage her to make new friends that will help her have positive academic and talent developmental experiences. Help to her to discover civility.

Here are our examples:

1 - Consideration—continuous and careful thoughts about her friends, developing sympathetic feelings towards the needs of others and basing opinions on careful reflection;

2 - Courtesy—having standards of behavior that include common manners, respect, expressions of consideration for others, thoughtful cooperation with others, and having generosity of spirit;

3 - Care—helping the oppressed, sick, unfortunate, needy, or those grieving, and having respect for her friends.

Help her to learn she can only change herself and she’s not responsible for the bullying.

You are already expressing our definitions of civility. Look for ways to serve in your community.

Civility is a community responsibility. We all need to define civility in our communities and help stop bullying to create a better society.

Signed, Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, October 1, 2017

What's with all the eye-rolling?

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
When my husband doesn’t like something I say, he rolls his eyes at me. I don’t like it!

Of course, when I complain about that, he again rolls his eyes. He does it to get out of real conversations with me—where we listen and then talk.

Lately, it happens more and more. Now I leave the room when he “rolls” because I don’t want to be disrespected. He’ll follow me from room to room, though, and try to keep arguing. If I say I’m not going to argue with him, he rolls his eyes and leaves.

What’s worse is that when his kids stay with us on weekends, it’s like he taught classes to them on eye-rolling.

I can’t stand it!

No more “rolls”

Dear No More,

Eye-rolling is a sign of contempt, or the three D’s as we say: Disrespect, disdain, and disapproval.

Body language and tone-of-voice are 93 percent of our communication. Words comprise only 7 percent. When communication in a relationship is negative, contempt is often the cause and is shown with eye-rolling.

Contempt wasn’t shown by eye-rolling until the 1960s. In fact, eye rolling used to be a sign of flirting and passion. (Just look at Shakespeare.)

A noted ethologist (a new science that deals with human character and its formation and evolution), Irenaus Eibl-Eibesfeldt, said in his 1989 book “Human Ethology,” that many cultures have “similar gestures for rejecting, all involving looking away.”

Monkeys do this bit of behavior when they are mad. They turn their back to you.

Looking away from someone is a sign of arrogance and condescension. It’s an action of trying to one-up someone and show superiority.

Today, eye-rolling is over-used.

But we think your husband may not know how to communicate with you or he may need to be listened to with more understanding … even if you don’t agree.

The 3 A’s, or antidotes, for eye-rolling are: Approval, appreciate, and assurance.
Show each other that you may not approve of their idea, answer, or thought, but you approve of each other in general.

You can always appreciate who the person is and still not like something about their idea or solution.

Assure each other that you love and care about them regardless of whatever they say or do.

Don’t judge each other with your body language, tone-of-voice, or the 7 percent of words that you use to communicate.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri