The Art of Letting Go: Fear

Girl hiding behind balloonIn the next chapters of The Art of Letting Go, I will present a list of attachments. Letting them go is guaranteed to make your life easier and happier. Each example will include some activities and I promise that paying attention and doing the exercises will produce results. Also, I will add some inspirational quotes about each kind of attachment. You can use these quotes to remind yourself it is best to get these attachments out of your system, because they only bring disappointment, sadness and grief. So acknowledge them and let them go!

Fears are educated into us, and can, if we wish, be educated out
– Karl Augustus Menninger

Fear is a belief that something will turn out badly in the future. When people are afraid, they go in their mind to the future and imagine a negative outcome. Many people are attached to their beliefs because they think that being afraid of something will reduce the chances of it happening or even guarantee it will not happen. In a sense, they are trying to control the future. In fact, nobody can do that. We were not born fortunetellers and maybe for a reason. There is no need to try and do it in our mind, so just let go of the desire to do it.

Being afraid is only natural. We have instincts that trigger fear to protect us from danger. Unfortunately, while those instincts were meant to protect us from threats to our survival, many of us today consider discomfort and stress as dangerous enough to trigger a “fight or flight” response. When we are afraid, we react as if we are in danger and our reaction is not proportional. After all, we will not die if things do not turn out the way we want them to or when someone is not happy with what we are doing.

Read more about how to let go of fear

Helicopter Parenting: is it a choice?

clip_image008_thumbHelicopter Parenting is a term used to describe parents who “hover” over their kids and try to control their kids’ choices regarding friends, education, schooling, hobbies career and even partners. The original intention behind the helicopter parenting style is to protect children and to help them get the most out of life by directing them towards what the parents think is right for the child.

Helicopter parenting comes with much love and care for the children, but there is always the risk the parents may become obsessive and create a dependent and helpless attitude in the children by not giving them the opportunities to experience, learn and evolve using their own judgment.

The greatest risk of using this parenting method is that of the parents adopting a form of perfectionism that sends a message to the child that Mom or Dad’s way of doing things is the only right way. Rather than creating a feeling of safety, love and appreciation for the child, perfectionism creates a feeling of inadequacy and fear. In simple words:

Anxious parents raise anxious kids

A new study showed that an over-involved or overprotective parenting style, often referred to as “helicopter mothers”, increases the risk for later anxiety in children. The study, conducted by researchers from the Centre for Emotional Health at Macquarie University, followed 200 children, aged 3-4 years old, and again 5 years after, at the age of 8-9. It also contains observed interactions between mothers and children, as well as mothers’ responses to statements like “I determine whom my child will play with” and “I dress my child even if he/she can do it alone”.

Read more about helicopter mothers

The Value of Community

Homeless person sleeping with dogWhen I was growing up, there was a strong sense of community in everything. The people in my parents’ generation told stories of small places, where they knew everyone and did most things in a group of peers of families. Today, most people live in big cities, many live away from their hometown and family. Many people move every few years. Community is a luxury.

During the Easter break, we watched the movie Canvas with the kids. It tells the story of a family in which the mother has Schizophrenia. The father works as a builder for a rich jerk who buys speedboats and cars, but pays him too little too late, so they do not have enough money for medicine, which their basic health insurance refuses to cover.

The film shows how being poor and sick can have negative effects on your life and spin it out of control so quickly that it is super hard to recover. Because people expect certain behavior from adults, the mother creates a scene, which gets them thrown out of public places, like restaurants. Business owners may empathize with someone who sees imaginary people, but they still have a business to run.

The boy, being young, cannot truly understand what is happening to his mother. Unfortunately, neither can his schoolmates, who bully him for it. Also unfortunately, the father is a simple man who struggles to get by and lacks the emotional tools to help his son relax and cope with the mother’s strangeness and absence, let alone the additional social burden he has to endure.

Read more about the value of community

Topsy Turvy World (4)

Happy toddler on an ice slideOur world is a weird and wonderful place, but sometimes, we act in weird ways that make it not so wonderful anymore. In many situations, there is a conflict between what is good for us personally and what is good for everybody. In others, the conflict is between what is good for us right now and what will be good in the future. Without considering the implications of our actions, they sometimes make the world just a little bit less pleasant.

Of course, when we do many of these things and lots of other people do them too, the decline accelerates. I often think of my kids and the kind of place I would like them to have when they grow up and it makes me worry.

No Running, No Jumping, No Playing

When Tsoof was 4 years old, his favorite activity was soccer, he loved to play drums and was a very energetic and talkative little boy. We wanted him to be with other kids, so we sent him to a nearby kindergarten that had great facilities and looked really nice.

Over time, we noticed our little boy was becoming sad and agitated, until he said he did not want to go to kindie anymore. When we ask him about it, he said, “They just want me to sit all the time. I can’t run and I can’t jump and I can’t climb anything. And they want me to be quiet all the time. If I sing or shout because I’m happy, they say ‘keep it down’. I heard something outside and I climbed the toy box to see what’s happening and the teacher pulled me down”, he said.

The next time we dropped him off, we went in with him and asked about all these restrictions. His teacher told us there had been some accidents and some children had gotten injured from climbing or bumping into each other while running, so their insurance company had told them they would not pay for these anymore and they should make sure the kids did not do anything dangerous.

“But this is what kids do”, we said, “They run and climb and experiment. It’s good for them”.

“Sorry”, said the teacher, “We can’t afford to lose our cover”.

Read more about our topsy turvy world

Ritalin: The Easy Way Out of ADHD?

Ritalin: so much easier than parenting

If you are a parent of a child who has been diagnosed or suspected as having ADHD and you are considering putting them on Ritalin, this post is for you! I have written about ADHD in this blog before, hoping to empower parents to take control over the health and wellbeing of their children and making sure their kids do not become a label. I hope today’s story and video will help you make more informed choices about ADHD and Ritalin.

I have been working in the special education field for 25 years. My amazing mentors and teachers warned me that one day, the inflation in the use of drugs to solve academic or behavioral problems like ADD, ADHD, emotional struggles and even tiredness will be so high that my job would be to stay on guard and offer parents alternatives and hope. I took this job description very seriously, but never in my darkest and most pessimistic dreams have I seen it becoming as big or as scary as this.

I am angry and I want to cry from frustration, because we have lost one more child to a form of organized crime. I am writing this post to recover, to remind myself of my job description, to try and save other children from a horrible fate and to offer hope, only this time I need that hope myself.

Read more about what Ritalin does to children with ADHD

Video Games Violence (3): Parenting

Kids shooting at an arcadeIf you are a parent and your kids play or want you to buy them video games, keep reading! Today’s post is about how parents view video games, how video games are rated and how you can help stop violence inspired by video games by following some simple tips and perhaps save lives.

Video games are considered art. The game designers do their best to make each scene as real as possible and see themselves as artists. You can watch this to understand how this artistic work can be disturbing and potentially dangerous.

Please make sure there are no children around when you watch this video, because it is extremely violent. If you are sensitive to vicious brutality and blood, you may want to skip the video altogether.

Click to watch

While Tsoof was doing his assignment on video game violence, I was shocked with the level of violence the kids were exposed to and it really got me scared. By the end of it, he also showed me some statistics about parents and that got me even more scared.

Parents and video games

Here is a list of figures from a US research into parents’ involvement and attitude towards playing video games:

  • 50% of parents play computer and video games with their children
  • 93% of computer and video games are purchased or rented while the parents are present
  • 88% of games are purchased by adults
  • 72% of parents believe video games are “fun for the entire family”
  • 71% of parents are asked to play by their kids
  • 66% of parents believe computer and video games provide good opportunities for them to socialize with their kids
  • 63% of parents believe computer games are a positive part of their kids’ life
  • 50% of parents claim that playing computer and video games with their children provides good opportunities to monitor the game content
  • 10% of parents never check the official rating of the computer and video games their kids use

Read more about the link between video games and violence

Video Games Violence (2): Video-game-inspired real violence

In the first chapter of the series, I wrote some facts about the gaming industry and some research regarding video games and violence. Here is a list of real life killings and acts of violence inspired by video games. You may even recognize some of them.

Real life violence out of virtual worlds

Monster from a video gameApril 20, 1999: 18-year-old Eric Harris and 17-year-old Dylan Klebold killed 12 students and a teacher in the Columbine High School massacre. The two were allegedly obsessed with the video game Doom.

1 April 2000: 16-year-old Spanish teenager José Rabadán Pardo murdered his father, his mother and his sister as an “avenging mission” given to him by the main character of the video game Final Fantasy.

20 November 2001: 21-year-old American Shawn Woolley committed suicide after what his mother claimed was an addiction to EverQuest.

February 2003: 16-year-old American Dustin Lynch was charged with aggravated murder and used an insanity defense that he was “obsessed” with Grand Theft Auto III.

7 June, 2003: 18-year-old American Devin Moore shot and killed two policemen, inspired by the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

Read more about real life violence inspired by video games

Video Games Violence (1): Shock and Awe

Violent video game characterOur kids do not play computer or video games that often (they are too busy ice skating, singing, playing music, dancing, playing sport and reading to have much time left for video games), so we did not expect this to make any difference to our 15-year-old son Tsoof, but it did big time.

This year, Tsoof had to do a school assignments in drama class. If you think Drama studies are all about playing, make belief or acting, they are not. He had to research a topic and present it in a special style and he worked really hard on this project. Gal and I felt happy and privileged to watch the whole process of this assignment and the way he grew from doing it.

We were shocked by how easy it was to find information on video games and violence. It is all there – all the proof for the negative and devastating effects of violent video games on our society. Yet, the spread of violent video games is increasing and things are getting worse.

I was not sure how to present Tsoof’s findings to you. I was debating whether to tell you my opinion or maybe there was no need. I think maybe just giving you some of the facts about it will be enough for you to understand the severity of the problem. As I believe that as parents, we have lots of power to change this horrible phenomenon. So sit back and be horrified!

Read more about how violent video games affect your children

Bullying (31): How to stop parent bullying

clip_image006_thumbParents are the most important agents of socialization in our society. Unlike teachers, who are the second biggest influencers on children, the same parents are around their kids while their teachers change. It is only sensible to think that if we want to support kids’ health and wellbeing, we need to support the most important people in their life – their parents.

I came up with the idea of supporting kids by supporting their parents about 20 years ago when I had an early childhood center. I could increase my young kids’ success and confidence whenever I got to the parents and made the partners in the process of education. There was 100% correlation between the success of the child (1½ years old to 4 years old) and the level of their parents’ involvement. My young students could read, do math and solve 60-pieces puzzles. They had the fine and gross motor skills expected of kids 3 years older than they were. At first, their parents did not believe their own eyes, but I just sent all their games and work sheets home so they could see their kids were able to do everything I said they could.

After 25 years in education, I can dare to say that investing in the parents is the most effective investment in children. And as with any investment, the sooner you start, the greater the returns.

I believe that government organizations should be investing in parents, but until that time, I will use this blog to help parents help themselves.

Here are the next 5 tips to help parents stop the cycle of bullying, help themselves and help their children be confident and avoid being bullied, being a bully or being a silent bystander.

Read more about the best anti-bullying

Bullying (30): How to stop parent bullying

Bullying stick figuresPersonal development is a good way to eliminate many problems in our society, because it goes through all the levels of change – developing awareness, making a decision to change, creating new habits and living the change. Changing a whole society of bullying is no different. We can move from a bullying society toward a caring, sharing and respectful society using the same personal development techniques.

In the last chapters of the bullying series, I gave tips for parents to stop the bullying in their life, whether to help themselves out of feeling like victims, to stop them bullying their families or to help them help their children. Since bullying is a never-ending cycle, any break in the cycle makes a huge difference to many people you are in contact with. Much like in the movie “Crash”, everything that happens to us touches the lives of the people around us directly or indirectly and we have the power to make a difference in the world by giving strength to our families, partners and children.

Good luck! Well, you do not really need luck. You need a conscious decision to work on yourself and be strong so you will never be picked on by a bully and never feel like a victim and try to gain that power back through your children.

Here are the next 5 tips for parents to work on their personal development and stop the bullying cycle