The Kid’s Guide to Service Projects (Guest: Barbara Lewis)

Barbara1We do a lot for our children, don’t we? At some point, however, shouldn’t they learn that living in a thriving, healthy society means giving to others, also? Of course. That’s how they learn the value of service and the power of contributing positively.

In this program today, we’re talking about service projects for young people, about involvement in making the world better one generous gesture at a time. To help guide us through ways to get kids involved and excited about service to others is our guest, Barbara Lewis.

BLewisbookSPBarbara is clearly the expert on this topic. In fact, she wrote the book on it! A former public school teacher and award-winning author of The Kid’s Guide to Service Projects, Barbara and her students have been honored for community contributions by Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush. Her work has been featured in The Congressional Record and print and broadcast media, including Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, Family Circle, “CBS This Morning,” CBS World News and CNN. (27:58)

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Target as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK

Make Smart Choices for Post-Divorce Co-Parenting Success (Rosalind Sedacca, CCT)

BTAboutThemDivorce doesn’t end your co-parenting relationship with your former spouse. It only changes some of the form. It is still essential to create a working relationship focused on the optimum care and concern for your children. Every co-parenting relationship will be unique, affected by your post-divorce family dynamics. However, there are guidelines that will enhance the results for children in any family. Here are some crucial points to keep in mind to maximize your co-parenting success.

RSedaccaPhotoRespect your co-parent’s boundaries
Chances are your former spouse has a different parenting style than you, with some conflicting rules. Rather than stress yourself about these differences, learn to accept that life is never consistent and it may actually be beneficial for your kids to experience other ways of doing things. Step back from micro-managing your co-parent’s life. If the kids aren’t in harm’s way, let go and focus on only the most serious issues before you take a stand.

Create routine co-parent check-ins
The more co-parents communicate with one another about the children, the less likely for small issues to grow into major problems. Select days/times for phone, email or in-person visits. Discuss in advance visitation transfer agreements. List who’s responsible for what – each day, week or month. Food, homework, curfews, health issues, allowances, school transportation, sport activities, play dates, holiday plans and more should be clearly agreed upon, when possible – or scheduled for further discussion. Once you have a clear parenting plan structured, follow it to the best of your ability. But allow for last-minute changes and special “favors” to facilitate cooperation.

How Do I Tell the KidsPhotoEncourage your child’s co-parent relationship
Regardless of your personal feelings about your ex, your children need a healthy connection with their other parent. Keep snide comments to yourself and don’t discuss your parenting frustrations with your children. Encourage your kids to maintain a caring, respectful relationship with their other parent. Remind them about Mom or Dad’s birthday and holiday gifts. Make time in the weekly schedule for phone calls, cards, email and letters to keep the children’s connection alive when your co-parent is at a distance. Your children will thank you when they grow up.

Be compassionate with your in-laws
Remember that a Grandparent’s love doesn’t stop after divorce. If your children had a healthy bond with your former spouse’s extended family, don’t punish them by severing that connection. Children thrive on family attachments, holiday get-togethers and traditions they’ve come to love. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins can be a great source of comfort to children during stressful times and a sense of continuity with the past. Dissolving those relationships is hurtful to both your children and the other family. Think long and hard before making such an emotionally damaging decision.

Above all, be flexible. When you allow calls from your co-parent when the kids are in your home, they will be more receptive to your calls when the tables are turned. Remember, you are still a parenting team working on behalf of your children. That commonality should enable you to overlook the thorns in your co-parenting relationship and focus on the flowering buds that are the children you are raising. ###

Rosalind Sedacca, CCT is a Divorce and Parenting Coach, founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network and author of How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children — with Love! To get her free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting: Success Strategies for Getting It Right!, free ezine, blog, coaching services and other valuable resources for parents facing, moving through or transitioning after divorce, visit:

Letters to God: Diary of an Unsilenced Generation (Guest: Cassandra Smith)

BTRadioIntHere’s a replay of a very special program we featured in March of 2014. Cassandra’s work and book carry a powerful message for us.

CSmithphotoAmong the Millennial generation , there are young people who experienced their childhood during a time when many families were at-risk. In fact, some counselors, clergy and mental health professionals call this the “Orphan Generation.” Why is this, what happened, and what can we do about it?

Fortunately, our guest on this on this program, Cassandra Smith, discovered a way for us to know more about what these young people are really thinking about us, about themselves, and about the challenges of life they face.

LTGCover1Cassandra collected thousands of anonymous handwritten letters to God as she worked with Acquire the Fire youth conferences across the United States and Canada several years ago. What she discovered, and what she’ll share with us, were not only the deepest needs of these young people, but their intense desire for help and hope in their lives.

Cassandra is an honors graduate from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She has worked extensively with youth for twelve years, including tours for four years with Teen Mania’s Acquire the Fire and years of work with Youth with a Mission. Today, you’ll find her deeply involved in speaking engagements at events and churches, where she creates a deeping awareness of the needs of youth today, as well as how these young people can discover a path to restoration as they search for authentic and lasting hope and change. (25:23)

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Target as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK

7 Tips for Dads to Remain “Flavor of the Month” (Col. Michael Smith)

BTAboutThemDads are in the envious position of being like ice cream. What kid doesn’t like ice cream?

Ice Cream-001After a book signing, we took my two-year-old grandson to an ice cream parlor and got him a bowl of ice cream. It was supposed to be the kiddie size, but they accidently gave him a larger portion. He scooped up that vanilla fudge swirl like it was going to vanish before he could finish. When he took the last bite and stared into the empty bowl and said, “Put …more…in there.” I laughed, his mom and dad laughed, and we gently told him, “That is enough for now.”

Ice cream comes in a lot of flavors and so do fathers. Whatever flavor of father you may be, you are your children’s favorite! Unless, of course, you give them a colossal reason not to be–and it would take a colossal reason. Children are programmed to love their parents just like they seem to be programmed to love ice cream. The only difference is loving their parents is a much more healthy act.

MSmithphotoKids that never have ice cream, or the love of a father, don’t know what they are missing. They only see that other kids enjoy both and wonder what it is like. They are robbed of something very sweet in life.

Men that give up on fathering cheat not only their children, but themselves. The love, the smiles, the hugs are what you will recall the most. And seriously, it is not difficult to be a good father. Of course there are difficult times to go through, but that is where the satisfaction comes in, by working though issues and helping your child become a success in life.

Seven Tips to remain the “Flavor of the Month!”
Here are seven tips to help any man be a caring father. These are tips from my book, The Power of Dadhood, and I am expanding on them here. Any man who is aware of and accepts these important aspects of fathering will have no trouble being the flavor of the month, every month!

1. Neither he nor any other father knows everything or ever will. We do the best we can in every situation and should do what most dads won’t do: ask questions, read up, keep working at it.
2. His mistakes must not discourage him. Who doesn’t make mistakes? As I said in a recent article, “Success is a series of mistakes interrupted by persistence.” Never quit teaching out of frustration or fear of failure.
3. His actions are being observed. This is where you must have great awareness. Your actions speak so much louder than words! You can’t be the same man with your kids around as you may be with your drinking or sports buddies. Have principles you live by and teach through action.
4. He must be consistent, loving, sincere and available. This may be tip numero uno!
5. Humor will be an ally. Be fun to be around! I talked to a 56 year old woman last week who told me she was afraid of her dad. I didn’t take that to mean she respected him. I saw in her face that she was afraid to be herself around him. Joke around and be silly sometimes and watch your kids run into your arms.
6. His children must experience struggle (supervised, if possible) to learn and grow. As dads, we should never solve our children’s problems for them. We should teach them the skills and resilience to solve them on their own, while we look over their shoulder.
7. Every child is unique and learns differently and at a different pace. One size does not fit all, not when raising more than one child. Some need a push; some need reins; some need more attention at certain times than the others. Never compare your kids because they all have different strengths. One may run faster, but the slower one may read faster. Rewards and consequences could very well be different for each child. A young child with a slight impairment may be cheered more openly and loudly just by taking simple steps whereas the child without the impairment would not get the same attention for the same achievement.

Yes, dads are like ice cream. But different from ice cream, when a child says, “Put …more…in there,” you don’t say, “That is enough for now.” Unless, of course, the dad is being seriously silly that day! ###


MSmithbookIn addition to being a retired Air Force pilot and the author of the new book, The Power of Dadhood: How to Become the Father Your Child Needs, Col. Michael Smith is a husband, father and grandfather dedicated to helping fathers to be present and involved dads through his blog, “Helping Fathers to be Dads.” [website]

Cody Jane: Able, and Then Some (Guest: Marly Cornell)

Cody Jane was not a teacher by profession, but she taught us plenty. She taught us that life is a gift, and that we are placed on this planet to use that gift joyfully and completely.

Paralyzed from the waist down due to spina bifida and the ongoing surgeries and medical issues associated with the condition, Cody valued and tirelessly worked toward the sort of independence most of us take for granted. All who knew her were touched by Cody’s courage and drive, her ability to inspire others and, of course, her unsinkable sense of humor. She caused us to focus not on limitations, but on possibilities.

This is Cody’s story. More than that, it is her message. Our special guest on this program is Cody’s mother, Marly Cornell. Marly is an award-winning author, an artist and a social justice advocate living in the Minneapolis area. She’s the author of The Able Life of Cody Jane; Still Celebrating. (26:55)

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Target as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK

Turn September Gold: Fight Childhood Cancer (Steve Havertz)

BTSpotlightWhen I saw Emmalee exhale for the last time I was forever changed. I never dreamed my life would have so many twists and seemly impossible roadblocks. I firmly held the belief my children would bury me, not the other way around. Emmalee was only nine years old when she fell victim to the second leading cause of death among children. [Emmalee’s FaceBook page]

Steve&EmmaleeCancer Statistics
Accidents are the number one killer of children and cancer is the number one disease that kills children or second overall killer of children. One in five who are diagnosed will die from the disease. According to an article in TIME [link], 80% of children who survive cancer treatment will end up with a life threatening, disabling or serious health condition by the age of 45. Also, this article cited a study of 1,700 children, which showed that 98% of those children who survived cancer treatments ended up with chronic life long problems such as new cancers, heart disease or abnormal lung functions.

Is Chemotherapy the Answer?
Emmalee had two rounds of in-patient hospitalization chemotherapy. As a result of chemotherapy, she had to have her intestines removed out of her body to search for a hole caused by chemotherapy. A few cancers like Leukemia boast an 80% survival rate, but if the treatments cause a multitude of long-term, life altering issues, or other diseases and problems, then I dare say this is an archaic way of treating this horrific disease. For a nation that has made amazing technological advances and we still use chemotherapy as our best solution fighting cancer, I question our resolve.

Ribbons and Awareness
We all know that the pink ribbon represents breast cancer awareness, but how many know the gold ribbon represents awareness for all pediatric cancers? In October, which is breast cancer awareness month, we see the NFL players wearing pink socks, pink shoes and pink hand warmers… Breast cancer advocates have done wonderful job marketing for money and clout.

Appropriateness of Campaigns
I find it a little strange that high schools and even elementary schools are promoting breast cancer awareness, when their own classmates are suffering from cancer. Recently, I posted a photo on Emmalee’s FaceBook page [link] and one of the comments from a young man was “In America we like boobs, not kids.” I don’t believe this represents the majority mindset by any means, but it does speak to the over-sexualized society we live in. Is it appropriate for students to be advocating for breast cancer when there are plenty of youth-focused foundations?

DragonflywingsbookA Change is Coming
This year there is finally a change occurring. Major League Baseball is going gold for pediatric cancers [link].  This is great news for us advocates who have worked so hard to have pediatric cancers recognized.

Don’t ask How and Why
When we asked the doctors the taboo question of why and how Emmalee got this cancer, ultimately they had no answers. The first day she was diagnosed we were asked by at lease three different doctors if we had been to a third world country where Hepatitis B runs rampant. We had not, nor was she a drinker of alcohol, this being another cause of her type of rare cancer.

What Causes Childhood Cancer?
This is the case in most pediatric cancers: few answers to troubled questions. There is no rational explanation as to why or how each child ends up with this heinous disease. With some adult cancers there is at least an explanation, i.e. genetics, lifestyle or personal choices, but no casual root has been established for pediatric cancers.

Six Children Die Everyday
Any time we see a child die or killed on the news, our hearts skip a beat in sorrow. Every day, however, in homes and hospital beds across the country, six children die of cancer, according to

In the last few days of Emmalee’s life we knew her time was up. She hated the hospital and we didn’t want her to die there, so we took a big risk and had an ambulance take her home to die. The doctors thought the ride would kill her, so we rode with her just in case. But Emm was strong and wanted to be in her favorite place at home to pass. When we arrived home, I gently picked her up from the gurney and carried her to the couch in our front room. Her breathing slowed and within 20 minutes she peacefully slipped away.

Plain and simple, we need to stop this disease. ###

Steve Havertz has been a Licensed Clinical Social Worker for 22 years. He is the author of many articles and two books, including Dragonfly Wings for Emmalee [link about the book].


Stress in the Family: Its Effects and What to Do About It (Guest: Dr. Kristen Lee Costa)

BTRadioIntAlthough most everyone would agree stress is part of life, there wouldn’t be much life if there was no stress at all. Stresses and forces in our lives serve a purpose in pushing us along toward our dreams and goals.

Dr Kris color cropped finalBut, of course, too much stress can wreck a life and harm a family. So we need enough to function and grow, but not so much that it limits hope and makes us sick. Balance is the answer. How do we find it and keep it?

What are the effects of fast-paced, warp-speed lifestyles on the family? How do parents, children and teens interpret and manage all the expectations they experience, as well as the demands they put upon themselves. Why is it happening and what can be done about it? How do we reach and teach balance and resilience in ways that are healthy and sustainable?

“America’s Stress and Burnout Doc,” Dr. Kristen Lee Costa, is here to help us with these questions and concerns. As a parent, she understands the challenges that affect a family’s ability to bounce back from trying circumstances. What she shares on this program can make the difference between surviving or thriving in a world overflowing with challenges. What better skills could we teach our children?

BOOK COVER FINALDr. Kris will share with us her RESET model, a framework that’s been called “a breakthrough model for reframing stress.” As the Department Chair for Behavioral Sciences at Northeastern University, Dr. Kris’s research and teaching interests include individual and organiational well-being and resilience. She operates a clinical and consulting practice devoted to preventing and treating burnout and has worked with thousands of families. Dr. Kris is the author of RESET: Make the Most of Your Stress, winner of the Next Generation Indie Book Awards Motivational Book of 2015. She’s also a regular contributor for the Huffington Post and Psychology Today. (27:16)


TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Link as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK


Therapy Has Gone to the Dogs (Dr. Frank Sileo)

BTCounselorOver 12 years ago I adopted a Cairn terrier from a shelter. I named him Ozzie. One of the reasons I got Ozzie is because I wanted to train him to be a therapy dog in my private practice. Most therapy dogs and animals are used in settings such as nursing homes, schools and hospitals. I thought using a dog in a private practice consisting of children, adolescents and adults may help welcome them, put them at ease, and help them with their problems.

How does pet therapy help?

Many studies have shown that pet ownership has a positive impact on one’s physical and emotional health. Pets provide unconditional love and acceptance. When coming to therapy, patients often come with a myriad of emotions and problems. They may be struggling with issues of self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-acceptance.

FSileophoto2There is great power in the human/animal bond. Studies have demonstrated that when around animals, depressed people become more outgoing; children with ADHD and behavior disorders become less aggressive; and children with developmental delays or are on the autistic spectrum, become more social and their concentration improves.

From a physical health perspective, the National Institute of Health found that married couples that owned a pet had significantly lower heart rates and blood pressure levels during psychological and physical stress tests and recovered faster. Scientific studies showed that petting a dog increases the level of pleasure hormones and lowers the stress hormone cortisol. Who doesn’t smile when you see a dog wagging its tail at you?

Teaching Tool

OzzieBedHaving a dog in my practice allows me the opportunity to teach things in a different way and use the dog as another therapeutic tool. For example, some parents and kids asked why Ozzie has to stay in his bed and not wander around the room. This gives me the opportunity to discuss boundary issues and setting limits.

Sometimes couples argue in my office and Ozzie would react by shivering, whimpering and even barking. I will say to patients, “Look at the effect you are having on the dog. How do you think your children react when you start yelling like this at home?”

With Ozzie’s help, children with boundary issues learn social skills such as personal space and by following rules when it comes to petting Ozzie. They are taught where and how to pet him that is respectful to him. Children who are aggressive learn that their rough behavior with Ozzie is unacceptable and lose the privilege of being around him. This leads to discussions of bullying and taunting.

Patients who need to work on being more assertive get to first practice giving commands to Ozzie. As they gain confidence, they begin to practice with people in their lives.

For children who have difficulty naming and talking about emotions, I say to them, “Look at Ozzie’s tail. What do you think he’s feeling? How is your tail today? What would your tail be doing if you had one? Would it be wagging or between your legs (i.e., anxious, scared).

Sometimes my patients are reticent to talking about difficult topics or feelings in my office. I have often witnessed them talking to Ozzie about their problems or I have used Ozzie to talk to in order to get my patients to open up. I might say, “Nicholas looks sad today Ozzie, maybe he can talk to us about his feelings?” Sometimes when I talk to Ozzie, my child patients will laugh and therefore break the ice and allowing them to open up in therapy.

My adult patients love him too. When he takes a day off, they always ask, “Where is Ozzie?” Whether people open up to Ozzie or me, it doesn’t matter. The point is they are talking and feeling comfortable in the therapeutic room.

Change Happens

We all want to help our patients grow and change their dysfunctional thoughts and behaviors. What happens when your therapy dog changes?

Two years ago, Ozzie was diagnosed with bladder cancer. In the beginning, Ozzie had few symptoms and received chemotherapy and other treatments. Over time, Ozzie could not control his bladder, was having accidents and was tired from the treatments. It was an ethical and moral decision to retire Ozzie from the practice at this time.

I explained to my patients that Ozzie was going to retire from therapy and relax at home. This afforded my patients to talk about transitions, good-byes and other changes in their lives. This was also hard on me given that I am in solo practice. He was therapeutic for me, too!!

In 2013, Ozzie passed away after his yearlong battle with bladder cancer.

New Beginnings

CooperAfter some healing, I have decided to get another dog for our home and my practice. He is a Cairn terrier named Cooper. I like Cairn terriers because they are smart, attentive, trainable and hypoallergenic. I will begin training him through a professional school that will eventually certify him as a therapy dog.

We will have to wait some time before he’s ready to work with patients. Training and certification is a must. You cannot just bring your pet to do therapeutic work. Check into pet therapy resources online and get the proper training and certification.

I am excited about this new chapter in my personal and professional life. I am “panting” in anticipation of using Cooper with my patients! ###


 Dr. Frank Sileo, founder and Executive Director of The Center for Psychological Enhancement, LLC, in Ridgewood, New Jersey, is a licensed psychologist specializing in work with children and adolescents. He has written five books for children on topics including lactose intolerance, Crohn’s Disease, winning and losing, homesickness and self-confidence. His most recent book is entitled, Don’t Put Yourself Down in Circus Town: A Story About Self-Confidence. [Dr. Sileo’s website]


Compassion Fatigue: Healing the Healer (Guest: Loren Gelberg-Goff)

BTRadioIntCompassion is a good quality for any person to have. But too much compassion for too long can cause one to become dejected and weary. It can even make folks sick as it takes a toll on persons of high purpose and intent.

LorenGphotoWhen a person is a caregiver of others, either as a family member or as a profession, there will always be a risk for compassion fatigue. It’s a condition affecting good people, and, when children and grandchildren are in the home, how we deal with it is on display. How do we recognize the symptoms of compassion fatigue, and how is it managed and treated, or, if possible, avoided? Our guest on this program, author and psychotherapist Loren Gelberg-Goff, will help us with answers to these very important questions and concerns.

LGGbookAs a licensed clinical socialworker, Loren operates a thriving private practice in which she supports and encourages individuals to live their lives authentically empowered and fulfilled. She also provides training and keynotes on related topics of work and family balance, managing anger, dealing with stress, and expressing forgiveness, just to list a few. Loren is the co-author of the book, Being Well Within: From Distressed to De-Stressed. (The other co-author is Carmel-Ann Mania, also a health service professional.) (26:31)

TO LISTEN, use the player below or left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Target as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK

The Science of Happiness and Our Kids (Mike Ferry)

BTSpotlightMike Ferry, author of Teaching Happiness and Innovation, was interviewed on The Changing Behavior Network (posted on July 12, 2015). We caught up with Mike to see if we could learn a bit more him and his work.


Tell us a bit about your background, Mike.

Mike Ferry photo 3This school year (2015-2016) is my thirteenth year as a middle school history teacher at Collegiate School in Richmond, Virginia. My college sweetheart and I have four kids, three boys and a girl. We drive a very loud minivan! I’m also a musician and songwriter.

A few years ago, I learned about the Science of Happiness at an education conference. It had a powerful effect on my perspectives related to teaching and parenting. The experience led me to write my book, Teaching Happiness and Innovation.

Why did you write this book?

THAIBookCoverAs a teacher and parent, I want to help kids design the best possible future, one that is safer, more prosperous, and more sustainable than our current world. If we teach kids the habits of happiness and innovation, we’ll help them get there.

Research has shown that happy people tend to be successful in all walks of life. We can help our kids learn and practice the habits of happiness. As a result, they will be more successful in school, at work, and in other domains. Also, our country and planet need big ideas. After learning the skills of innovation, our kids will create the new businesses, works of art, technologies, and public policy solutions that will increase employment and improve our quality of life.

What habits of happiness should we be teaching our kids?

Well, it’s important to realize that our brains become most adept at doing whatever tasks we perform most often. In other words, practice makes perfect. If we want our kids to become happier, then we should help them identify and repeat behaviors that are associated with happiness.

These three habits comprise a good starting point: gratitude, kindness, and creativity. In our homes and classrooms, we will make great strides toward a happier future if we encourage children to practice these behaviors as often as possible.

How can we learn more ideas related to teaching happiness and innovation?

I have many helpful articles and insights on my blog and on the Teaching Happiness and Innovation Podcast. You can find these on my website, Also, if you sign up for my monthly email list, you can download a free chapter from my book.

If you go to the “Mike’s Tunes” page on my website, you’ll find many of my original musical compositions. You can download my songs for free. In exchange, all I ask is that you perform an act of kindness for someone. ###

Mike Ferry is a teacher, father, author, and musician based in Richmond, Virginia. He can be reached at (website)