Category Archives: Diversity and Culture

Teaching Kids Happiness and Innovation (Guest: Mike Ferry)

BTRadioIntWhat is it, really, that creates and sustains happiness in ourselves and in our children? Listen in to this program from our archives as Mike Ferry, banking on his research and experience in working with young people, offers valuable insights into this important and fascinating topic.

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Some define happiness as a positive by-product of success. In other words, if you are successful enough, you’ll be happy.

Teaching Kids Happiness and InnovationBut that definition doesn’t square with the fact that there are plenty of folks who have the appearance of success, yet they are NOT happy. Evidence and research at this point indicate precisely the opposite position: Happy people tend to be successful people, and they conduct their lives and relationships in a manner that is sustainable and consistent with their closest-held values.

Author and teacher, Mike Ferry, defines happiness as an optimistic, communal and disciplined perspective on life. Every part of that definition makes sense; it’s worth sharing with our children as a major lesson in life.

Happiness and Innovation Mike FerryIn this valuable and informative program, Mike discusses authentic happiness and how it can be combined with innovation and a growth mindset to give our children a strong base, a platform for managing life in a world containing more than its share of challenges. Mike’s here also to suggest how we can encourage our kids to develop and demonstrate other valuable attributes like gratitude, perseverance, mindfulness, purpose, tolerance, collaboration, faith and creativity. All of these will contribute to their happiness and a life well-lived.

Mike’s in-depth research and his years as a middle school teacher and father of four all come together in a book that’s the focus of this program. It’s entitled, Teaching Happiness and Innovation. (28:50)

http://www.happinessandinnovation.com

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Building Character Using Analogies from Nature (Guest: Barbara A. Lewis)

The Changing Behavior NetworkCharacter counts, and it always will. Barbara Lewis, nationally acclaimed educator and author of Building Character with True Stories from Nature, shares some excellent ways to teach principles of character using examples from animals and plants. From our archives we present, “Building Character Using Analogies from Nature.”

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Sometimes the best lessons in life are best NOT taught directly. Telling Tommy how he needs to be more helpful like his sister might only create resentment toward her with no change in his willingness to help others. So how do we effectively encourage desired behaviors and habits in youngsters like Tommy?

Teaching Positive Character Traits

Our guest on this program, Barbara A. Lewis, will show us a better way to emphasize and teach positive character traits by using analogies, true stories from the behaviors of animals (and even plants).

Since children are naturally drawn to stories and to animals, they not only attend to these analogies, they are stimulated to exercise higher-level thinking skills and, best of all, apply the message. Result: Moral development is enhanced, and youngsters are motivated to create positive changes in a natural and comfortable way.

Listen in as Barbara shares some stimulating and intriguing examples of what animals and plants can teach us about character.

Barbara A. Lewis

Barbara has earned national acclaim and many honors and awards for her work as a teacher and as an author. She encourages youngsters to apply their skills in solving real problems. In fact, while Barbara was a teacher at Jackson Elementary School in Salt Lake City, her students were deeply involved in numerous civic and environmental projects, garnering ten national awards, including two presentations of the President’s Environmental Youth Award.

Prominent print and broadcast media, including Newsweek, Family Circle, “CBS World News” and CNN, have featured Barbara and her work. The book we are featuring, written for parents and educators, is Building Character with True Stories from Nature. The book is published by Free Spirit Publishing. (26:22)

www.BarbaraALewis.com

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Technology, Our Children, and Social Connections (Guest: Danielle Lindner)

BTRadioInt-300x75-300x75All parents want their children to grow up to become happy, healthy adults that love their work, their families, and their relationships. But there’s a concern: How do they develop and maintain needed skills for those important relationships in life? This program is about technology, our children, and social connections.

If you take a moment to reflect on it, this really is an ongoing concern facing our children and teens today.

Danielle Linder, The Changing Behavior NetworkSocial Connections

Yes, we’re talking about social connections, the old-fashioned way: person-to-person and face-to-face. Of course, some youngsters will be better at it than others because it’s a skill like many other skills. But, if our children do all of their networking using techno devices, what happens to their face-to-face capability? How might it affect them on the job, in marriage, as a parent, or as a friend later on?

Our Guest: Danielle Lindner

Our guest on this program, Danielle Lindner, strongly believes we should address these issues now rather than later. Listen in as Danielle points out her concerns and how we can help our children understand and act on the value of improved face-to-face interaction with friends, family and others.

DLinderbookA teacher, trainer and educator, Danielle has extensive experience in both the public and private school settings. Seeing a need for an enriching, challenging and socially-engaging program for young people focusing on a scaffolding approach to learning and a strong character education curriculum, she founded The London Day School and Kindergarten Enrichment Academies in Florham Park, New Jersey.

Danielle has written a number of books for children that carry a focus on character education. (The book shown here is Tango: The Little Turtle Who Was Afraid to Go to School.) Danielle is a contributor to the Huffington Post and other publications, and she was named a Top 25 Leading Women Entrepreneur by the New Jersey Chapter of Leading Women Entrepreneurs and Business Owners. (25:32)

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BONUS: Here’s an excellent article on this from Danielle. It certainly relates to this topic. It’s entitled, “The Joys of Being Bored.” [link]

Make Memories: Work and Play with Your Family (Christy Monson)

CMonsonphotoThis past summer, my husband and I hosted a reunion of his childhood cousins. As kids, these wonderful people loved being together. Some of their families lived in Idaho and some in central California. The parents made a special effort to spend time with extended family, even though they didn’t live close. Every summer the cousins worked together on one farm or another, weeding, feeding livestock and irrigating.

Eventually everyone grew up and went their separate ways. They became doctors, international business men, teachers, and engineers in many walks of life. They saw each other at weddings and funerals, if their busy schedules permitted.

As they reached retirement age, they felt the need to reconnect. At the reunion this summer, they spent three wonderful days reminiscing and getting reacquainted with each other.

Family Talk BookSome of the memories they shared were of a crabby uncle, but most of the stories were told about work and play with hard-driving parents, struggling to eke out a living. No one focused on the barn being full of hay or the price of the potatoes each year. They remembered the time they spent together, filling the irrigation ditches, chasing an errant calf or eating pancakes until they were about to burst.

They talked about the ball games they won, the horses they rode, and the pranks they played on each other. Their reminiscence was about the pleasure they experienced in interacting with each other as kids—their communication and relationships.

Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity, but in doing it.

Greg Anderson

 

The parents of these cousins are not with us anymore, but here are some of the principles we can take away from their child-rearing practices:

1. Spend time with your kids
2. Work and play together
3. Give them a sense of family
4. Enjoy your extended family

 

Most of us don’t have to fill the irrigation ditches or milk the cows anymore. Life has changed. But we can still build relationships with our children through work and play.

A happy family is but an earlier heaven.

George Bernard Shaw

 

As adults what do you remember of your youth? What memories mean the most to you? ###

Christy Monson has an M.S. in Counseling Psychology and Marriage & Family Therapy from University of Nevada at Las Vegas, and established a successful counseling practice in Las Vegas, Nevada. Check out her informative website [link].

 

Envy: Learning to Manage a Powerful Emotion as We Grow (Dr. Josh Gressel)

BTRadioInt-300x75Envy is a valid emotion, yet no one seems to want to claim it. At least that’s the way it appears. Consequently, we might try to hide envy as best we can, yet it often causes us trouble.

So why is one of the Seven Deadly Sins and the subject of one of the Ten Commandments such a mystery? What is envy, and what do we do about it? That’s the topic of this program.

JGresselphotoOur guest on this program, psychologist Dr. Josh Gressel, describes envy as “the neglected emotional stepchild of our inner world.” Managing issues of envy as they affect adults, children, teens and families involves having a “new experience with an old problem.” In the process, we can learn to embrace the emotion as we do the others, while we take a step at becoming even more capable of dealing with life as it comes.

In this interview, Dr. Gressel discusses with Dr. Sutton not only how envy can be identified and addressed, but how it can have faces that are easy to miss. It’s not just the envy of others that causes struggle; the inciting of envy can create pr0blems. Then there’s the youngster or adult who deliberately performs less than their best for fear them might be envied. How costly might that be?

JGresselbookListen in, also, as the subject of “shadenfreude” is discussed. We have no word for it in English, but perhaps we should. Shadenfreude is the practice of finding joy in the misfortune of others, especially when they tumble from high places.

This program just might have you saying, “Yeah … I never thought of it that way, but it really makes sense!”

Josh Gressel is a clinical psychologist practicing in the San Francisco Bay area. He is a student of Jewish mysticism and seeks to integrate spiritual and psychological truths in his work with patients. He’s the author of the book we are featuring on this program. The title of this work is, Embracing Envy: Finding the Spiritual Treasure in Our Most Shameful Emotion. (29:05)

http://www.joshgressel.com

To download a free article from Dr. Gressel entitled, “Five Things to Do When You Feel Envious,” CLICK HERE or go to the Free Articles from Our Experts tab above.

 

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The Harder You Work, The Bigger the Snowman (Michael Byron Smith)

There is no school equal to a decent home and no teacher equal to a virtuous parent.

Mahatma Gandhi

It starts around October. People, almost exclusively adults, start complaining about the onset of winter. I understand their point of view. Their focus centers on being cold, dealing with icy roads and often dreary weather. I don’t like those things either, but not enough to worry or complain about them.

Few of us have to be in the cold air longer than it takes to walk from our toasty car to our toasty home or office, at least not often. Slippery roads are a nuisance, but where I live in the Midwest, there may be only 10-15 days all winter when the roads are seriously snowy or icy for part of a day. In more northern states, they really know how to deal with their more frequent snowy days and they do it efficiently. There isn’t much you can do about dreary days, but I’ve seen dreary days in every season. With those realities said, I believe any adult that doesn’t like winter has the right to complain about it or move to a warmer climate. But it is also my opinion that children who are raised in areas that have seasons are advantaged in experiences and learning.

Cardinal in WInterNow I admit that winter comes in last in my list of favorite seasons. Spring, fall, summer, then winter is how I rank the seasons. But I LOVE seasons! In winter, I thoroughly enjoy watching the snow fall while I sit by a fire. And there is certainly beauty in winter if simply a red cardinal resting on a branch with a snowy background.

One of my favorite sensations ever was at my farmhouse in the country, waking in the morning after a heavy snowfall had blanketed the earth the night before. The wind was completely still in the bright morning sunshine. I walked outside and it was the most profound silence I have ever experienced. It was as if the snow had muffled every possible sound, except the squeaky sound of my boots sinking in the snow. The scene was truly a Norman Rockwell painting.

I accept winter and look for those experiences that only winter can provide. This brings me back to children. You rarely hear them complain about winter. They pray for snow and run around outside so much they don’t get cold. When they come in, a little hot chocolate will put the exclamation point on a fun and memorable kid experience. I have many memories of playing outside with friends, coming in with my hands so numb that the cold water from the tap felt warm, and I loved it!

You can join in the fun with them. Have a snowball fight or take them on a hike in the woods. The exercise and cooler weather make it comfortable and invigorating with views no longer obstructed with leaves. And you can sneak in a few life lessons occasionally using tricky little metaphors that may stick with them longer than a boring lecture.

Teachable Moments in Winter
Build a snowman with your children. Maybe you can have a competition for the best snowman. The teachable moment may be, ‘the more you work on your snowman the bigger and better he will be–just like anything else you will ever do’. But working hard isn’t the entire answer to success. You have to work smart also. It’s impossible to make a good snowman with very dry snow, even if you work very hard at it. With a little patience, a warmer sunny day will melt the snow wet enough to be able to build your snowman. The teachable moment: Patience and smarts will often save you a lot of time and effort with better results.

Go sledding with your children. Find a nice long hill and feel the thrill of zooming down. If they want to ride down again, they will have to trudge up the hill. The first ride down is free, after that they will have to work to experience it again. Going down is easy. Going up is work! The teachable moment: Nothing worthwhile is really free. There is always effort required by someone. The only ones who sled down for free are those that don’t have the strength and need the help of others to get back on top. Which of those would you rather be?

Not only are there life lessons to teach, but there are science lessons that will be remembered when they are in school. Take your children ice skating. Skating is best when there is very little friction, allowing them to glide effortlessly. But when they need to stop, they want some of that friction back so they dig into the ice. Friction is like fire. It can save your life or ruin it. How people use it makes all the difference!

Some history lessons can be best expressed in the winter. The strength of our forefathers and ancestors can be demonstrated, when there were no furnaces to warm them up with a push of a button; or when their home was a teepee or mud hut. No snowplows helped them out. Grocery stores were rarely nearby and food had to be grown or hunted. Traveling for just thirty miles would take half a day or more and the only heat was from the horse if you were lucky enough to have one. Not until one thinks about how tough conditions were for others in the past will they understand and appreciate the fortune they have today.

But maybe the most important of all these moments, whether you stop to teach or not, is to be actively engaged with your children, having fun, creating everlasting memories, and making connections to them that will serve both you and them forever. I already mentioned a couple of winter activities, but there are others you can enjoy with your kids including baking things together, movie nights, reading books, crafts, snowball fights, going to sporting events, and so much more.

Take advantage of every opportunity
I wish everyone a great winter season! Make the best of every day no matter the season, and never miss a chance for a teachable moment for your children. And for you older folks out there who hate winter, just think about how fast time passes for us! It’ll be spring before you know it; the recent contrast of winter causing it to be even more appreciated. I can almost see the tulips and crocuses popping through the ground already. Another teachable moment! ###

Article and photographs by Michael Byron Smith, author of The Power of Dadhood [website]
“Helping Fathers to be Dads” blog

 

Childhood: Something We Don’t “Get Over” (Guest: Loren Buckner)

BTRadioInt-300x75Can you recall some really great moments from your childhood? Are they a joy to recall? Would you secretly like to have posters of those moments all over the house? But what about those not-so-good times, or even those parts of our childhood that bring discomfort as we think about them even today? Can we really bask in the best and simply forget the rest?

LBucknerphotoAccording to the guest for this program, psychotherapist Loren Buckner, ALL our childhood counts, even the parts we prefer to “delete.” Unaddressed, those parts can cause us and our closest relationships difficulty we don’t understand and certainly don’t need or want. The good news is that Loren will share how uncomfortable experiences and circumstances from our past can be addressed in ways that bring growth and changes that support it. The benefits are well worth the effort.

LBucknerbookLoren is the author of the book, ParentWise: The Emotional Challenges of Family Life and How to Deal with Them. Her wealth of experience as a mental health professional and as a mother of now grown children, puts Loren in a position to share what works and what doesn’t in the challenges of parenthood and in contributing to relationships that thrive. (28:45)

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10 Ways to Teach Kindness to Our Kids (Mike Ferry)

Mike Ferry photo 3We all want our kids to find happiness in life. Thanks to the “science of happiness,” research has identified several habits that make lifelong happiness more likely to occur. Kindness is one of these.

Being kind is a cost-free way to improve your emotional well-being. Plus, it doesn’t require a prescription! When we are kind, our brains experience an infusion of dopamine, the “happiness neurotransmitter.” The more kindness and compassion we display for others, the happier we become. Plus, kindness will make our world a safer and more sustainable place for our children and future generations.

For many of us, kindness may not be an innate attribute. That’s okay, because we can get better at it with practice. Here is a list of ways that we can teach kindness to our kids.

1. Model kindness. Our kids are always paying attention to our actions, whether or not we realize it. When interacting with other people, try your best to use a kind tone.

2. Give a generous tip. If you’re eating out with the kids, leave a tip that is more than expected. Explain that the server will appreciate being rewarded for a job well done.

THAIBookCover3. Bake treats for a neighbor. Kids will enjoy baking the goodies and seeing the smiles on the receiving end. Doing this will also lead to a stronger social connection, one of the most important predictors of happiness.

4. Develop empathy. We are more likely to show compassion if we have a better understanding of other people’s perspectives and experiences. Discuss the ways that characters from your favorite books and movies might have different opinions based on their unique backgrounds and situations. When your kids are studying history in school, encourage them to try to understand major events from as many viewpoints as possible. You can do this with current events as well.

5. Write a note of appreciation. Leave a kind message for the housekeeper at your hotel on the notepad by the bed. Have your kids add their own words of gratitude.

6. Serve others. Clean up trash at the park, gather athletic gear for needy kids, or serve food at a food kitchen as a family. Faith communities often have family service projects. If not, you could help get the ball rolling. For more ideas, try the HandsOn Network.

7. Make a micro-loan. Lend money to an entrepreneur in a developing country (or even your own) through Kiva. You can select the country, loan amount, and see the actual person who will receive your money. It feels great to know that your small investment is changing the lives of individuals and communities. Plus, your kids will improve their understanding of geography and global economics.

8. Send a homemade card to Grandma and Grandpa. It could be to celebrate a birthday, holiday, or for no particular reason at all. Most kids enjoy the arts and crafts elements of these projects, and grandparents love to receive them. Talk about the warm fuzzy feeling they’ll have when Grandma calls to say “thank you.”

9. Go green. Reduce, reuse, and recycle when possible. Discuss our role in the ecosystem. Explain that our actions have an impact on other living beings, and that some of these consequences may be felt for generations. When we care about what happens beyond our immediate circumstances, we are more compelled to act with kindness towards others.

10. Follow the leaders. Learn about historical figures famous for their devotion to the common good. Mother Teresa, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. are excellent places to start. Talk about ways that you could bring their philosophies and actions into your own lives.

 

Mike Ferry is the author of Teaching Happiness and Innovation. A middle school history teacher in Richmond, VA, Mike is raising four (mostly happy) children with his wife, Jenny. For more information about teaching happiness to children, visit www.happinessandinnovation.com.

 

Scared Justice: Fighting America’s War on Youth (Kenneth Johnson)

BTAboutThemAn eleven-year-old Florida student was handcuffed, taken to jail, and charged with a third-degree felony for having a plastic butter knife; a New York pre-K student is suspended for having too many bathroom accidents; a Mississippi student was arrested for breaking wind; a Tauton, Massachusetts second grader was suspended and forced to undergo a mental health evaluation for drawing a picture of Jesus on the cross; a California student faces a judge on criminal charges of being tardy too many times; and a Baltimore, Maryland student risked suspension for nibbling on a Pop Tart in the shape of a gun. We see it all the time in the headlines. For those who are unaware, there’s a war in America that’s been going on for some time now.

KJohnsonphotoEvery year, we are arresting over 2 million students. Far more students are suspended and expelled. Studies have shown that a child’s chances of dropping out increases by 50% for every time (s)he is suspended out of school. Presently, some 7,000 students drop out each school day. Most of these suspensions, expulsions, and arrests take place just before standardized testing. The reason for this, scholars posit, is what’s being called the Test-to-Prison Pipeline (a variation of the older School-to-Prison Pipeline theory). Simply put, a child that is suspended/expelled or incarcerated cannot take the standardized test and therefore the overall test results will be higher. This is critical in states like Florida where a school’s funding is based on how well students do on these tests.

Most juvenile arrests in America today are predicated upon what criminologists call the “Super Predator Myth.” This myth was first postulated by Professor John DiIulio, Jr. as a research-based theory of juvenile crime. Later, his research was found to be fundamentally flawed in every conceivable way. However, Pandora’s Box had already been opened by this junk science theory. We became a nation fearful of our youth and with the wrong-headed notion the only way to keep them from turning into murderous thugs was to arrest and try them as adults for felony crimes.

Today in America, the prison system is such a booming business. Private prisons, like the Geo Group, publicly trade on the stock market. Most of America’s population of inmates first came into the criminal justice system by way of juvenile arrests. The primary reason that an incarcerated person leaves a juvenile detention facility is because they have reached the age of majority and now must be transferred to an adult prison to finish out the rest of their sentence.

Rather than being a nation of law and justice, we have turned to “scared justice” tactics where laws vary based upon a person’s income, race, age, and other factors. And, no place can this injustice be more finely felt than by our nation’s youth.

KJohnsonbookHARD TALK; STRAIGHT TALK

In the fields of Conflict Resolution and Restorative Justice, professionals and writers are now focusing a tremendous amount of time on pathways to engaging in difficult discussions. Each field of conflict study has its own thought leaders with their own ways of tackling this endeavor head-on. But why are we seemingly in need of such study and works?

Part of the problem is the manufacturing of fear in the public over juvenile crimes. One major culprit is our nation’s School Resource Officer program. The other player in this social malaise is Hollywood.

While SROs are used practically nation-wide, the data on their effectiveness is less than compelling. While their stated purpose is to safeguard the students, national crime data reveals they generally arrest students for innocuous offenses when traditional school-based disciplinary procedures would be more effective and beneficial. In protecting students from school violence and shootings, the data also reflects they generally are ineffective with them mostly arresting students on baseless charges.

One of the best publicly available arguments against SROs can be found in the Justice Policy Institute’s “Education Under Arrest: The Case Against Police in Schools,” where it looks at the chronic failures, duties, dangers and case law surrounding SROs. For instance, in the Supreme Court case of J.B.D. vs North Carolina, involving a 13 year old student who was arrested without being read Miranda rights, the court found juveniles do not possess proper understanding to appreciate Miranda. Ultimately, the report delineates five ways to improve schools without needing SROs. These suggestions ranged from properly training and supporting staff on issues of behavioral disruptions to building quality relationships between staff and students.

Ironically, these suggestions are things which are best handled through Conflict Resolution and Restorative Justice strategies. In my book, Unbroken Circles for Schools, I specifically addressed how using Peer Mediation with Circles, Panels, Conferences, and Justice Circles can create a community of care which improves classroom instruction, addresses behavioral issues, builds relationships, provides counseling options, and identifies issues early on in order to render SROs needless in schools. The JPI piece proposed using government funds to purchase varying national plans but, as I note in my book, effective strategies already exist in the public domain.

Hollywood is also just as guilty of culpable harm. Specifically, shows like “Beyond Scared Straight” perpetuate a myth while fostering practices proven to actually harm children as bad, if not sometimes worse, than what SROs do by arresting children needlessly.

According to the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, “A study by Anthony Petrosino and researchers at the Campbell Collaboration analyzed results from nine Scared Straight programs and found that such programs generally increased crime up to 28 percent in the experimental group when compared to a no-treatment control group. In another analysis of juvenile prevention and treatment programs, Mark Lipsey of the Vanderbilt Institute for Public Policy Studies found that youth who participate in Scared Straight and other similar deterrence programs have higher recidivism rates than youth in control groups. And a report presented in 1997 to the U.S. Congress reviewed more than 500 crime prevention evaluations and placed Scared Straight programs in the “what does not work” category. Despite these findings, Scared Straight programs continue to be used throughout the United States and abroad.”

Again, the OJJDP focused on the very same solutions which the JPI looked at. Naturally, like with the JPI, the OJJDP urged for costly programs to be employed by schools and communities. However, like I stated before, effective Conflict Resolution and Restorative Justice solutions are already in the public domain and used daily by trained and certified professionals.

A common saying, “A leopard can’t change its spots,” is often used in reference to criminals. The meaning behind this is that a child who does wrong actions now will only do worse actions later as an adult – a flawed line of logic at best. I say, “If you paint spots on a lion cub, it doesn’t make it a leopard.” Ultimately, I contend that officials are making children out to be worse than they are. In fact, most, if they were given a little extra attention, could become tremendous benefits to society as adults.

Research has come forth saying that children are facing massive issues with underemployment by their parents, broken homes where they may have only an extended family member at best to serve as guardian over them, domestic violence in the home, substance abuse in the home, untreated illnesses, lack of proper nutrition, homelessness, child neglect, and sexual molestation to name a few. In fact, where I live, homeless kids have coined the term “couch surfing” to refer to how they spend their nights sleeping on the couches of friends, relatives, or anyone else that would take them in for the night. These are the children that our schools seemingly target.

What’s more troubling is that the children actually suffer more once they are incarcerated. This is because most states exempt juvenile detention officers from state child abuse and child neglect laws. In Florida, which is a top arrester of youths in America with over 58,000 arrested per year, a number of detention facilities have recently gone under review for children being allowed to die in front of guards without any call for help, children being sexually molested by staff, unnecessary beatings, and the list goes on and on.

There is a solution to this social justice dilemma. The crux of the problem is that the community must become engaged and press for resolve since schools and law enforcement refuse to take responsibility with this issue. This is a hard discussion topic for a society where many trappings of the traditional community are gone due to our nomadic existence and where the media colors our understanding of reality with sensationalized stories and filtered-out stories. This makes collaboration between nonprofits and religious institutions , on this issue, all the more critical for lasting change to take place since these are the unsung heroes doing most of the unseen social justice work in this nation.

WORKING TOGETHER; MAKING A DIFFERENCE

I suggest that interested stakeholders in the community, as well as Conflict Resolution and Restorative Justice professionals and advocates, agree to assemble at a neutral venue and break bread to talk about the problems facing their community. After all, this is how America got started! Once the problems have been stated, then the community should evaluate resources that each group can bring to the table. Since I pretty much wrote the book on this issue, here are some suggestions that I would make for consideration:

Have the school district do away with SROs. There’s simply no need for them. National statistics show time and time again juveniles make up less than 1% of the violent crimes committed in America. These are officers that can be put out on the streets to arrest real criminals, direct traffic, or engage in a number of social benefits inherent to law enforcement.

Have the school engage in Restorative Justice (RJ) and Peer Mediation practices. RJ has been proven far more effective on juveniles than any other group at reducing recidivism and also making lasting, positive behavioral changes. By the same token, peer mediation has been proven effective in handling issues typically tying up vital time normally handled needlessly by teachers. A good program should be a balance of daily circles, peer mediation, and conferencing.

Creating a peer counseling corps can offer critical support and assistance for students in needs. Like peer mediators, peer counselors are trained by professionals in the field and given similar skill sets as adult professionals in the field use in their own practices.

Establish a Neighborhood Restorative Justice Center (NRJC) as a deferment option should a child still end up in the court system. In many states, like Florida, there are already laws on the books allowing this sort of deferment but officials refuse to establish these centers. An NRJC, created by the community, allows the student that final, yet critical, opportunity to seek out atonement for their actions and to seek the help that they need.

There’s no other way to put it other than to say America’s war on youth is a national scandal. However, if handled properly, the communities around America have an opportunity to make a significant impact on the overcrowding of prisons, increasing tax revenues, increasing productivity, and re-engaging the “American dream” which has historically been our driving force in becoming a superpower in the global marketplace.###

Ken Johnson is a private researcher, writer, lecturer, and consultant on issues of culture and conflict. Organizational architecture and anabolic (positive) conflict are just some of the key issues he investigates. Though written for the school system, his book, Unbroken Circles for Schools, has core concepts which can be applied to various life applications. To learn more about Ken and his work, CLICK HERE to visit his website.

 

 

5 Tips for Raising Teens Effectively (Guest: Peggy Caruso)

BTAboutThemFinding it difficult to raise your teenage children? Adopt Peggy Caruso’s five life-saver tips to give them the right direction.

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peggy1. SET GOALS
Setting and reaching goals is very important with teenagers. Goals help them define what is important and it teaches them how to prioritize. It assists them with developing a plan of action in which they can measure their progress. Goals assist with maintaining focus, overcoming obstacles and staying positive.

Set short- and long-term goals. Once they reach a short-term goal it will be a motivator to work toward a bigger and more challenging goal. It will make them persistent in their endeavors.

In goal-setting, you must discover your child’s skill sets. Skills are behaviors in which we increase our knowledge, and abilities are natural talents. Understanding what skills and abilities they have and what they need to reach their dreams is an important component in your child’s career development.

Your teenager will develop skills that will be transferred as an adult. You will begin to understand their personality, discover their creativity and it will be easier to encourage them to become involved in extra-curricular activities. Remember that the less idle time they have, the better.

All successful people set personal and professional goals and it is very influential in raising a teenager’s self-esteem. It provides them with direction and a sense of accomplishment.

2. TEACH MASTERMINDING
Social media has a major impact on a teenager’s ability to effectively communicate. Verbal communication is on a decline due to texting.

One area to enhance communication is to teach masterminding. This is very effective and utilized by many adults; therefore, it can be effectively implemented with teenagers.

It is placing a group of five or six like-minded teens together to meet once biweekly for one hour. Meeting places can vary between houses. They begin by each taking one minute to say their “win for the week” and then they move on to challenges. Each teen presents a challenge they are facing and the remainder of the group assists by providing feedback and solutions.

This assists with problem solving and holding one another accountable. It reinforces communication and interpersonal relations. Masterminding enhances friendships, and helps them balance the highs and lows. It assists with creativity and establishes motivation and persistence. Communication is the key to every relationship.

PCarusocover3. TEACH PERSISTENCE
Teaching them to be persistent requires that they will be definite in their decisions, and that requires courage. It is a state of mind; therefore, it can be cultivated and with persistence comes success. When we talk of success, most people think of adults. But if you begin applying the success principles when your children are young and impressionable, you teach them how to realize that failure is good sometimes.

Persistent action comes from persistent vision. When you define your goal and your vision remains exact, you will be more consistent and persistent in your actions. That consistent action will produce consistent results.

Remember to teach your child the difference between the person who fails and the one who succeeds is the perception they have. It is seizing an opportunity and acting upon it, unlike the person who allows fear to dominate his abilities.

4. SET BOUNDARIES
It is extremely important to give teenagers consequences. They must understand poor choices and what happens when rules are broken. Once you set a consequence, it is imperative that you follow through. Once the teenager overpowers the parent, the problems spin out of control. You need to ensure that you, as the parent, are the one who maintains control.

Set boundaries and learn to say “no.” Don’t allow them too much “alone” time. Teens who spend an excessive amount of time alone in their room can get into trouble on the Internet. Keep electronics away from the dinner table and out of their room while they sleep.

5. IMPLEMENT SUCCESS PRINCIPLES
In today’s society, teenagers are faced with many negative influences, such as bullying, social media, Internet, divorce, cutting, depression and many others. Once it is determined what the issues are and where they were developed, a positive intervention can be applied.

One great positive intervention is implementing success principles. Discovering the true talents and abilities within our children will prepare them for this unpredictable world by teaching them how to adapt to any situation. Instilling entrepreneurial ideas in children will help them become successful adults and it will create independence within them.

Once your child becomes a teenager, you can get them into the financial mindset associated with college. Use a net price calculator on college websites to see how much each year costs when including other expenses besides tuition. Instead of letting them think you will pay for their college, allow them to understand the associated costs.

Also explain how there are other ways to assist, such as financial aid, grants and scholarships, and the differences in what needs to be paid back and what is free money. Teaching the fundamental principles at an early age will make them aware of why they need to focus on getting good grades and how their GPA affects the financial status regarding college.

Understanding finance will also help them understand how student loan debt could affect their lifestyle after graduation. This will make them aware of the importance of good spending habits during their college years. Children who help repay their college debt learn to be grateful and conscientious about money. Studies have shown that when children pay a portion of their debt, they are generally more focused on their academic performance.

They need to learn how to manage their own strengths and weaknesses. Many children are afraid to fail because they feel that they are letting their parents down. Teach them that failure is just feedback, letting you know how to modify your plan. It is a stepping stone to success. Many of the successful people in history have had multiple failures before reaching success.

As children and teens grow, they need to learn how to deal with change. We can’t give our children a blueprint in life, but we can teach them coping skills. Your child’s skills and abilities will be their most valuable asset throughout their lives.

Once you discover what their true talents and passions are, it is easy to get them started on building a business. There are many businesses suitable for children and teens. Educating them about employment or entrepreneurship has astounding effects. It teaches them time management, assists them in learning how to follow directions, and provides team and leadership skills. Studies show discouraged teens often grow up to become discouraged adults. This affects their confidence level in the workforce.

Peggy Caruso can be reached at pcaruso@lifecoaching.comcastbiz.net for more information. www.lifecoachingandbeyond.com