How to Calm the Climate—at Home!

_A150897Dr. Louise Hart stood on a chair at the end of the 2017 Zorgos Awards and shared something from her career as a parent educator: a wonderful exercise that teaches healthy touch. She learned about it in the International Journal for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse & Neglect, way back in the 1980s. Here’s an excerpt from The Winning Family, which inspired The Bullying Antidote.

Nurses would bring mothers who had been raised with abusive touch together with their children, for a cup of tea and a chance to change their natural instincts. This was such a hit they called it the “New Zealand Treat,” in which givers put their hands on the backs of receivers, and act out a “Weather Report.”

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It’s important to establish that the body receiving the attention is in charge, and should be giving feedback. (More! Harder! Stop that!) The purpose is to inflict pleasure, not pain. One mother found that she was able to stifle the urge to hit her child by massaging his back instead—with far superior results!

Humans are hard-wired for touch. Teaching children to give and receive massage is as beneficial as teaching them to value exercise, hard work and a good diet. Read more about the benefits of massaging your child. In this high-tech society, there is more a need for high-touch than ever before. Read this article in EduTech for more thoughts on that.

But in a world where the climate is changing and we feel out of control, this give-and-take exercise allows children and adults alike to feel calmer, connected, and more able to cope. It also provides a way to talk about and plan for ways to hande climate disasters as our world changes every day.

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Calm the climate in your home with this easy massage practice.

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Parenting’s Troubled History

This excerpt from The Bullying Antidote was recently published on ACEsConnection:

As we learned from the CDC-Kaiser Permanente ACE Study, negative childhood experiences are often kept secret, downplayed, or repressed because ofthe_belt our powerful desire to put such things behind us. Unfortunately, our minds and our brains don’t work that way. Patterns can play out automatically, no matter how hard we try to be original and create our own realities.Just as it is important to know family medical history (e.g., diabetes or tuberculosis) it is equally important to know about our social inheritance.What is your ancestry? What destructive patterns did your parents and grandparents overcome? Think back to your childhood, to how you were disciplined. What were the consequences in the short term? In the long term? There is a chilling quote from Time magazine essayist Lance Morrow, from his ACES-informed book, Heart: “Generations are boxes within boxes; inside my mother’s violence you find another box, which contains my grandfather’s violence, and inside that box (I suspect but do not know) you would find another box with some such black secret energy—stories within stories, receding in time.”

Punishment and Fear-Based Leadership

Authoritarian or autocratic leadership, the very strict style predominant in early 20th century European countries, was also the predominant style in the U.S. before the 1960s. Many families and subcultures in America still abide by this style. The primary goal of authoritarian parents is obedience; their tools are blame, shame, guilt, threats, force, and abuse. Their goal is to control, and their greatest tool is punishment.

Keep reading at: Parenting’s Troubled History | ACEsConnection

Nip Meanness in the Bud

book-tiltedOne day at the post office, I mentioned to the clerk that I was writing a book on bullying. Her face lit up eager to tell me about her son. I was so impressed with her story – and how she helped change his life, that we share it in Chapter Five of The Bullying Antidote.

A local post office clerk was called in by the principal at her son’s school because he was bullying younger students. During the meeting, the mother’s heart sank for the little children. She asked them, “Is he scaring you?” They nodded their heads. In front of her son, she said, “I promise you he will never do that again. If you need any help, or someone else is ever bullying you, he will be the one to go to.”

That experience changed the young man. Over time, through programs at school and working with his mother at home, he became a friend to those children.

The school security guard bumped into him one day and asked how he was doing. “Great!” the boy replied. “Love school, and I’m getting good grades.” The surprised guard joked with him: “I thought I would see you in juvenile hall by now.”

“Now, he is a sweetheart,” his mother boasts. “He will even be speaker at his graduation!”

I gave her one of the first copies of The Bullying Antidote. That evening she read the passage to her son—who didn’t remember the experience. “Was I mean, mom? Was I mean?”

The Take-Away of this story:

Kids mostly don’t realize they are being mean. Parents and teachers can nip meanness in the bud by speaking up when it happens saying, “That was mean,” and encouraging them to soften the statement: “Can you say that another way?” With feedback helps children develop their identity, self-image and character. Identifying what’s mean, and knowing that mean is not good, can curb negative behaviors and bullying.

It is even more important to notice and comment on positive behaviors, to reinforce desired behavior. Martin Seligman, the “Father of Positive Psychology,” advises parents to look for emerging strengths and virtues, like kindness, prudence, judgment, and fairness. Noticing and identifying positive qualities build “signature strengths” in youngsters. These positive strengths can be buffers against negative emotions and depression, and lift life up to a more positive plane.

This is one way to build emotional and social health and pro-social skills in children, and to foster self- regulation that interrupts meanness and curbs bullying.