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I've always said if it's not life threatening, more life threatening or unhealthy, let it go. Hello and welcome. I'm Shane Parrish, and this is another episode of the Knowledge Project podcast exploring the ideas, methods and mental models that help you learn from the best of what other people have already figured out. Learn more and stay up to date at F-stop Blogs podcast. On the show today is Barbara Kyocera. Barbara's a best selling author on parenting, teaching, school discipline, bullying, grieving, non-violent conflict resolution and restorative justice and so much more.
A friend of mine first introduced me to Barbara after she had her speak at a medical conference. My friend said that Barbara was one of the most popular talks and people were hungry for more.
So I bought Barbara's book, Kids Are Worth It, and after seeing all of my own parenting was exposed on the pages, I knew we had to chat. Well, this episode is geared towards parents. I promise. Even if you don't have kids, you will learn a lot. Chances are you want kids, you know, somebody with kids or you occasionally look after kids. You come away with tools and techniques, as well as a firm understanding of what kids need to be successful.
It's time to listen and learn.
Before we get started, here's a quick word from our sponsor. Furnham Street is sponsored by Medlab for a decade, Medlab has helped some of the world's top companies and entrepreneurs build products that millions of people use every day. You probably didn't realize that at the time, but odds are you've used an app that they've helped design or build apps like Slack, Coinbase, Facebook Messenger, Oculus, Lonely Planet and so many more. Medlab wants to bring the unique design philosophy to your project.
Let them take your brainstorm and turn it into the next billion dollar, up from ideas sketched on the back of a napkin to a final ship product. Check them out at Medlab Dutko. That's Medlab Dutko. And when you get in touch, tell them. Shantanu Barbara, I'm so happy to have you on the Knowledge Project. Thank you for having me. It's a joy.
I think I read that in the 60s you entered a convert to become a nun at the age of 17. What led you to do that?
I entered a convent of San Franciscan Convent at 17. What do you really know? Other than I wanted to work with kids with special needs, having been a lifeguard and taught special needs and swimming. And I had my dad's cousins. One was a monk, one was a priest, one was a nun, and the other was a woman who had seven kids. So that was his cousin Bache. And so I grew up knowing them. And when I talked to Sister Jean Marie about what I was thinking of, she suggests to the Franciscan order in Milwaukee that also ran the Carletto school, which is where Joseph I mean, John Kennedy's sister was that.
So that's what got me to the Franciscan convent. I'm glad I went and I'm really glad I left. That was a good experience in my life for three years and I'm glad I left. I have a husband and three kids and no, I didn't meet him in the convent. You wasn't a priest? I met him after I left the convent. So that'll answer all the Catholics questions on that one. I have three kids and three wonderful grandchildren as well.
So that's where you learn to teach at the convent? Yes. I got my teaching degree after I left the convent, but I was pursuing it. I was a year away when I left the order and anyone listening to me would know that we take three girls, chastity, obedience and poverty. I grew up very poor, so that wasn't an issue. Chastity.
I was too young to know what I was really giving up with that. But the obedience was a difficult one for me because all along in all of my work, I talk about raising people who will stand up for values and against injustices. And at that point in my life, it seemed like I was to be obedient to the bishop.
I know better now, but it just seemed like that and I was not going to do that. It's obedient to the gospel and that's what I live today. But yes, that was the beginning of my journey. That's where I got most of my specialized training. And then I left the convent and finished up at the University of Northern Colorado. And that's where I met my husband at a migrant protest march with Cesar Chavez dance group. And I had been involved in civil rights as a nun in Milwaukee.
And then you started teaching only everything you had found out about what you learned about teaching turned out to be not true, the area of behavior modification, because that was big in the late sixties.
And that, again, getting kids to do what I want them to do by using rewards and bribes and threats and punishment really went against actually what I was learning in my theology and philosophy courses, which were required as a nun. And they ran headlong into that with this is how we should bribe children and threaten them and reward them and punish them. And so in my real world experience in the classroom, I realized that I would far better rely on my philosophy, sociology and theology training to work with kids.
And I came up with three basic tenets. One, kids are worth it. I believe they're worth our time, energy and resources to help them become all they can become. Second, I won't treat them in a way I myself would not want to be treated. If I wouldn't want it done to me, I'm not going to do it to a child. And the third, if it works, it must leave my dignity and the child's dignity intact, not just if it works or appears to work, but does it work.
And they both have our dignity intact. By leaving your dignity intact, that I'm not doing things to that child that would like killing a child, I am opposed to that because I think it destroys their sense of self-worth and dignity. And in return, I have harmed a child and I want to look at alternatives. The title of my video, my very first one was Winning at Parenting without beating your kids and winning it, teaching without beating your kids.
And I mean that not only in a humorous way, but also in a serious way, because we still have 19 states in this country that allow corporal punishment. But I'm talking more about the power struggles we get into with kids. And this is where I felt that bribes and threats, rewards and punishments, which, by the way, have become an insidious part of our culture, really interferes with raising an ethical human being. And that's why I went back to my sociology and my theology and philosophy.
I want a child who will stand up for values against injustices when it costs them, not what they're getting rewarded for catching being good because it's all about getting caught when the high state of sociably says to all the other girls in grade eight, if you want to be in my group, which is a reward, don't eat lunch with the new girl. I want your daughter to be the one to say that's mean, that's cruel and have the courage.
And it does take courage to go sit next to the new girl because she will do that at cost. She is not going to get any scratch and sniff stickers and stars. Lunch with the principal, which she'll probably get, is almost goody two shoes. So your next and I want your sons when their friends say, look at that kid over their different skin color, religion, gender, physical or mental ability, the big five for hate crimes.
What makes a hate crime different than any other crime? It's criminal bullying. And the kids say, let's go mess him up. I want your son to be the one to say no. When the burdens heavy, when his friends say, what are you chicken? What do you just like him? So I look both as a parent and as an educator, as how do we raise a generation willing to stand up and speak out and step in and not be price dependent on reward dependent, dependent, reward dependent children, make wonderful henchmen for bullies.
They will do the bullies bidding because they want whatever reward that bully is dangling in front of them. I want young people to do the right thing when it's difficult to do. And so what do we do in the classroom and what do we do at home that encourages that? We give them opportunities to make choices and decisions and mistakes. We hold them accountable and allow them to see that they truly do have the agency in their lives, that what they do matters.
I want to do a huge deep dive into that. What does it mean to hold them accountable?
What does it mean to make them own their decisions? Can you walk me through what that means, not only in the classroom for the teachers that they're listening, but also at home for the parents like myself, who probably default to this sort of like reward punishment?
It's part of our culture.
Well, let's look at first giving them choices and decisions. I don't say to a two year old, do you want to go to bed or not? That's not a decision they get to make. But I do say, do you want to go to bed now with your pajamas or now with your blue pajamas and they show up red bottoms, blue tops. I've always said if it's not life threatening, more threatening or unhealthy, let it go.
Stick with the big stuff you need to get hysterical about. And so they show up with that mix. Then you constantly increase responsibilities, decisions both at home and in the classroom that gives them the opportunity to make those choices real choices. So I go from red pajama, blue pajama to three outfits. Pick one to here's your school clothes, here's your play clothes, pick something from your school clothes and regularly. Our middle daughter would show up at the layered look, all school clothes just definitely layered.
Now, I know a lot of parents who would say, go pick out an outfit. Oh, you can't wear that one. Now, it's not life threatening to a kid to wear the layered look. It's painful for parent, but it's not life threatening. You let it go. It's shoes on the wrong feet. If they hurt, they move them. But we worry. We're worry. I've yet to see a senior with shoes on the wrong feet, but a lot of their early childhood worrying about it.
No, it's letting go and saying what truly can a kid do? Age appropriate ability appropriate. And that will be different for each child. And our goal is to constantly increase responsibilities and decision making, decrease limits and boundaries so that when they leave our homes in our schools, they are truly responsible for all of their own behavior and for their own choices in terms of mistakes they've made and how to fix them and the life. So you start with responsibility and decision making, and then after we've looked at that in all areas, I ask educators, do you have a plan from kindergarten through grade 12 in this district to increase responsibilities in decision making and academic skills, work study skills and affective skills?
Because that's how kids are successful? And do you have that plan to constantly increase that again, helping them develop what I call inner discipline, self-discipline? And then I look at what do we do at home or at school if they make a mistake, create mischief or cause mayhem? Now, I must say right up front, any and all bullying, because it's an attack on another human being, is mayhap. But there are degrees of mayhem and not all mayhem is bullying.
You can have a one on one fight that so serious that it becomes mayhem. So that aside, when kids make a mistake, bullying is not a mistake. Calling somebody a gross name, dunking your head in the toilet, it's not a mistake. And although people will say, oh, he made a big mistake, no, he didn't. He created mayhem. So let's look at the distinction there. A child runs along, leaving art class in his felt tip marker has the lid off and he's accidentally marking up the wall.
That's a mistake. Another child does tic tac toe on the wall. That's mischief. Another child writes a gross term and another child's name. That's mayhem. All three markings. But the intent is different. So what I want young people to know, again, at home and at school that if you make a mistake, it's a very simple formula. Simple doesn't make it easy with a mistake. You own it, you fix it, you learn from it and you move on.
So as educators, if we know and I've seen it posted in classrooms after I've done lectures in schools, that whether you're a kindergarten kid or a 12th grade or if you make a mistake, your job is to own it, fix it, learn from it and move on. If it's mischief, we show them what they've done wrong, give them ownership of the problem, give them ways to solve it, leave their dignity intact. If it's mayhem, we do three R's.
It's called restorative practices, restitution, resolution and reconciliation. In other words, you have to own and fix what you do. Figure out how you're going to keep it from happening again and find a way to heal with the person that you've truly harmed. And so going back, if a child makes a mistake, a three year old drops a glass on the floor or a 16 year old in a lab class drops a beaker that has caustic material. Both are mistakes.
They were not intentional. They have to own it. They can't blame it on a crooked table. They can't blame it on a slippery glass. They have to fix it. Now, three year old cannot pick up glass, but they can run, get a bag and you can pick up the glass while they hold the bag and they can help mop up the floor. The 16 year old can't pick up the caustic material, but he can get the hazmat kit and you can demonstrate to the whole class how you pick up caustic material.
Then he has to replace the beaker and then he has to do is experiment again. So on it takes it. Learn from it. Move on with a three year old. You say, which of these two plastic glasses would you like to use today? Same principle of own it, fix it, learn from it and move on. So we don't have to have a lot of confusing rules and and levels of discipline. You know, if a kid dunks a kid's head in the toilet, which is mayhem, I am not going to give him a warning or her a warning.
I mean, we're going to treat it as mean and cruel right away.
How would you handle that with a child taking another kid's head in the toilet or writing on the wall with the name and the the the name on the wall restitution own that you did it and own and fix it.
So you've got to raise it. Now, let's say they set it on line as well. They have to go in and try to get that off, which is almost impossible. It can be scrubbed, but that's expensive. But you can also have the child send down a message. I said these ugly things, you don't repeat it, but I said these ugly things to about this person. What I said was mean and cruel. If you received it, would you please delete it if you sent it on to others, would you send this note on?
It's a humbling experience for them to do that, but if it's on the wall, then they have to scrub it off and own that they did it fix it. Second is figure out how you're going to keep it from happening again. And most kids will say, oh, I won't do that again. I said, well, that's good. That's what you want. Do I want you to tell me what you will do? And this is where your wisdom is.
An educator or parent will come in and they say, well, I don't know. I well, one. Things you could do if he was on the computer is not use your computer for a period of time till you can demonstrate with supervision after that that you can use it in a way that civil and savvy, smart and kind. And so and another thing you can do is I never demanded an apology. I can say what you can own, what you did to the person.
You did it to us for an apology. You get one, two, three, go home. Real heartfelt or. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. They keep doing it again and again. It's like some people use confession. Some people listening will have no idea what I'm talking about or they will say, I'm sorry you were offended. Which, by the way, is not an apology. Oh, yeah.
Well, what I do say to them is you need to let them know that you did this and that you're fixing it. And that I do demand I don't demand an apology, but they must fix what they did and other things like let's say they call somebody a name sitting in class. And it was overheard by me say no more, not here, never. That was mean. That was cruel. And this is a safe harbor for every child in this classroom.
And they need to to fix it. And they so I just won't call her name. Listen, no, you're going to hear some options. You can sit in the front of the class class for the rest of the term. You cannot sit near her giving them options. Obviously, they're not coming up with this, but I give them options that they can choose to do for some kids. If it's serious enough, you need to take a different English class so that kid is not tormented the rest of this term.
Now, let's look at your schedule. Oh, but that means I won't have lunch with my friends. Oh, that's a bummer. Yeah. Maybe you'll think about not calling anybody girls names because it meant you have to change your English class.
Does that eventually foster a sense of responsibility in kids for their actions?
That's a whole thing. From red to blue pajama through all of this, both discipline and choices. You are helping young people say that I have agency in my life, that what I do matters and that I can affect change in the world and it can be for good or for ill. And that's a choice I get to make. I want them to see they do have choices that they can make. The third step is probably the most difficult to heal with the person you've harmed when the person who was targeted is ready.
Now, if you don't, the kids head in the toilet. He may never be ready to meet with you. And that's what that child needs to live with. The kid who did the dunking has to live with. Is that good? Then they want you around. But others, when that was called a girl's name is a sit down with the kid and I'm there. And it's a conflict resolution that's totally separate, that's done with conflict, not with bullying.
When it is, I say, OK, first thing you have to do and I've talked to the kid who is targeted, I give them tools for standing up and speaking out when it happens to them. We want to help them. We want to empower them. But I also feel that what the other person did was mean and cruel and bullying. We stop. So when they sit down together, the the bully has to say, this is what I did.
Often what a target wants to hear is the bully just admitting they did it right. And if they have a smirk on their face when they say it, I say we're done, we're done. We're not ready yet because the kid is still smiling and smirking about the event.
They don't have any remorse for it. So I stop it all. But my mom won't let me use a computer until I get through this process. That's a bummer. Come back to the office, work on your face, but most of the time they're ready and they say, I did call you a gross name and I regret that. And this is how I want to fix it. I'm going to sit in the back of the class and the other child might say, oh, you don't have to do that.
Just don't call me names.
But they might say, good. So the back of the class on the front, then they say, you know what, I'd like to invite you to sit at the lunch table with us because this group of girls and myself locked you out of the lunch room or a chat room, and we'd like to invite you now. The targeted kid might say thank you. I'd love to sit with you, but they might not they might say with Steve. Suskin said in that powerful song that he and Alan Shamblin wrote and Peter, Paul and Mary made famous.
Don't laugh at me, don't laugh at me, don't call me names. Don't take your pleasure from my pain. And he says, I'm not asking you to be my friend, but is it too much to ask to laugh at me? Don't call me names. And so the targeted child might say, I don't want to sit at lunch with you. Thank you for the offer. Most targeted kids are kind, caring people, so they might say thank you, but I don't want to do that.
I just need to know that when I sit in the class, I'm not going to. Called a gross name, when I go online, I don't see my name, I'm not locked out of a chat room. This is what I need in restorative practices for that kind of scenario of mayhem. What we do is we empower the targeted kid and we are humbled, not humiliated. I'm not into humiliation, but we humble the person who did the mean and cruel act.
I don't care whether it's kids at home because we do have sibling bullying or kids at school. The process is basically the three R's restitution, resolution and reconciliation, and they need us to help them get through that. The middle one. Our son had made a mistake. He made a goal for the opposing team in a major tournament and people on the sidelines were yelling and screaming. He came out of goalie, went on the field, fell down on his shoelaces, untied and got up the ball and went down as his teammate is screaming, No, Joe, no, Joe, this is our goal.
And Joey was ready to make that goal. And he made a beautiful athletic goal and then realized it's on the wrong team.
His coach handled that beautifully. He demonstrated owning mistakes. He said, Joe, so get over here. And Joe walks over. He says, I'm sorry, coach, I'm sorry. You said, I don't want to and I'm sorry. That was a beautiful goal. And I get out there and get one for us, you say?
And the coach said on it, don't blame it on me. Fact you came out of goalie. Don't blame it on the fact you fell on your shoelaces. Just own it. I made a goal for the other team. Fix it, learn from it, move on so we can use that in our everyday life with all ages of children after about age two, even adults.
Oh, all stages of our lives.
Well, does that differ at all? If you have siblings in conflict between siblings, conflicts normal.
It's natural. It's necessary. How should parents think about handling that? Like, say, you had seven to nine year olds at home and their bickering over the TV, a TV show?
Sure, yeah. What you need to understand is, as you said, conflict is inevitable. Violence is not. So our job as wise and caring parents is to teach them to handle that conflict nonviolently. To kids fighting over a TV program. I talk about three kinds of families, the brick wall, the jellyfish and the backbone. The brick wall goes, stop it, stop it, stop it. Turn that set off. Nobody's watching it and points a finger at them, which shows them that we can't handle our own conflicts.
It's when an adult is around and they stop us and that doesn't serve them well. When we're not around, jellyfish goes, oh, please, your brothers and sisters, you're supposed to love one another. Don't do this to me.
That doesn't help me either. Backbone parent understands the slower you walk, the quieter you are, the better your chances of it being over before you get there. And if it's still going on, you just take the remote, turn the set off, model it for them and say you're both fighting. You don't say, give me your side of the story. Give me your side story. I've never gotten a news story out or two editorials, so I'm not going to bother.
So I say you're fighting. You may turn this set back on as soon as you both have a plan.
Now what I mean, they never say it nicely. Oh, mom, we need a plan, so don't count on it. But one of three things will happen. They'll share. They'll both get up and leave it or one of them will come up with a plan they both can live with as long as the one who came up with the plan does not use brute force or intimidation. I mean, if one says I'll beat you over the head, you say that's not a good plan.
I mean, there's a reason we're hangin with kids. We're going to grow up, but we have to be there to raise them. Lest they be. We get Lord of the Flies, you know? So I say to them, nope, that won't work. Come up with another plan. Say, I haven't said why you can't hit your brother. You don't get hysterical. You just know that's not going to work. And but if one says you let me watch this one today, you can have two tomorrow.
Now you and the older kid. No, tomorrow, Saturday. Nothing goes on. Don't say a word. This is not the teachable moment. It comes the next day when that little one goes.
It's not fair. There was nothing on. I say, I noticed you're giving in to your big brother a lot. Would you like to learn a few good lines and you teach them the lines like I'm willing to let you watch this program today. If I can have this one on Monday, this one on Tuesday, and I want it in writing. You teach that no one do that. Nobody's is going to walk all over them. Right? So you give them both the tools to handle their conflicts and they'll have to practice and they'll make mistakes.
And you keep working with them. And you know that they go through this process and then ten minutes later they might be fighting again. And you walk in and you turn the TV up. And pretty soon they get the idea of, mom, we can do it. We can have it. I know. I know we need a plan. They get it, but it'll serve them well at home and at school. And so that's real important that we teach them that.
However, sibling bullying is something we have ignored for too long. There's a fascinating research project done by Volpi out of England, a 20 year longitudinal study that showed that children who are targeted by their siblings are at higher risk for being targeted by their peers, higher risk for alcohol and drug abuse, for self-harm activities and depression in the later teen years.
And it's easy to see why, but we dismiss it. So you saw the fighting scene, but this is different. The 10 year old has the five year old's arm up his back. We're not talking a yoga pose.
The kids and screaming, you rush in there and as soon as you're older sees you, she drops her brother's arm and starts comforting him. And we say, What are you screaming like that for? And the way your 10 year old looks at the five year old, because bullying has to do with intimidation. He knows right now if he says anything in front of you when you leave, his sister's going to wail on him. So he makes a choice.
Oh, nothing, Mom, nothing. And we said, well, then quit screaming like that. We have just three targeted the target. But step back a moment.
When you walked in there, you saw something you wish you hadn't seen. You saw your daughter smirk before she saw you as she had that arm of the back. She had the biggest smirk on her face. The smirk is an involuntary response when you're hurting someone and getting pleasure from their pain.
And that's what bullying is about, a conscious, willful, deliberate activity intended to harm when you get pleasure from somebody else's pain. And that has to be stopped. What should the mother do?
That's the restorative practices, restitution.
You were hurting your brother and you seem to be getting pleasure from that with that smirk on your face. So you need to own and fix it, figure out how you're going to keep it from happening again and heal with him when he's ready for it.
I'll take it back a little bit here with somebody bopping a kid over the head with a toy and smiling and same kind of thing, own it. I grab my brother's arm and hurt him. Sometimes that's all the brother wants, is affirmation that the kid on that they really were doing something mean and cruel. Fix it. Oh, how are you going to fix it? Well, this is not one of the things you could do, and that's where your wisdom comes in.
Again, one of the things you could do is go over into your room. It's time out at this point, but into your room and let your brother have the rest of the house and any toys in it for a period of time. Oh, but, mom, you need to do something. If you can come up with something better that gives him some peace and quiet. I'm open. But otherwise you need to to leave him be. It could be for an hour, depending on age, you know, an hour, two hours.
And he just has free roam in the house and you can play in your room.
Is that a punishment or if it's a consequence for what you did, you harmed your brother. And you need we can talk about time out later and the effectiveness of that. But it's another thing you might say is that you need to sit in the third row of the car. If there's a third row. I don't like the third row I get. Oh, that's a bummer. Maybe you'll think about not bumping your brother in the nose next time, but you come up with something that allows the other kid who's been harmed to have some peace and quiet.
I also go up to the kid whose arm has been hurt and I rub it. I said, well, that's awful. That must have really hurt. And, you know, when your sister goes to do that. So I want to let him know that I know he was hurt. But I also say to him, when you see your sister coming, fold your arms like this so she can get them. It's OK to raise your voice and say, leave me alone.
That hurts. It's OK to get attention. I want young people to know you get out of an elevator if you're uncomfortable and not worry about what anybody else says. So all these tools help them become very capable adults as well.
So all these are learning tools using the stuff of everyday life. So restitution resolution, how are you going to keep this from happening again? And this is where I like to take a moment with young people and teach them three things. I draw a circle with a line down and I say, this is you. This is your brother now, you control half of this. Yeah, but he wouldn't give me the toy. OK, you can ask him for the toy, but once it goes over that line, it's an invitation to him and he can accept it or reject it.
But he has control on that side. You control half your brother controls half second lesson. You influence one hundred percent. How you ask your brother for that toy matters boppin him over the head will radically reduce the chances of him being willing to share. Grabbing his arm and pulling it up reduces the chance that he's willing to cooperate with you at all. And I try to use some humor in there with it as well. But I want him to understand that that didn't work so you can influence it.
And maybe you didn't think about this, but maybe you could offer him your favorite toy and you might see a grimace at that point or two of your second favorite toys and give her ways that that she can influence how she responds to that. And then the third lesson is no is a complete sentence. If your brother you've asked him nicely, you offered the toys. If he says no, you have to go find something else to do, not think about it.
You teach seven and eight year olds. You control half your brother controls half. You influence one hundred percent. No is a complete sentence. How that will serve both boys and girls when they start dating scene. We are giving them in the process of all of this tools to handle both conflict and mean and cruel activities in their lives to empower them. I also want to empower them. And that's where red pajama blue pajama comes in and giving him choices and decisions and is saying to them, you do have agency.
When that little girl is left out, you can go over and sit with her. But Mom, all the other girls will pick on me. OK, well, sometimes it's a cost. And maybe one of the things you need to do is tell an adult that the other girls but I don't want to snitch is not snitching. Those girls are hurting. That other little girl, it's telling is not tattling. It's reporting not ratting. If somebody is getting hurt, then you need to report it.
What's the difference between tattling and telling it? It's tattling. Is getting somebody in trouble telling is getting somebody out of trouble if it's ever built. And bullying is I need to know, for instance, all those self-appointed playground monitors, Mississippi, Mississippi is on the swing, is not supposed to be on the swing he didn't share yesterday. That's tattling. If it's OK for him to be on the swing, he leaps off the swing, his coach gets caught.
He's hanging on the swing. Tell me that's going to get him out of trouble. Now, if he's not supposed to be on the swing and he's hanging on the swing, it's both. I need to know. Five year olds get that. I've had little ones come up. This is the same as see, I say in and out or both. And sometimes they scrunch up their face and walk away and they go in trouble and they get it.
I say thank you for figuring that out. And but I've also had them go up Mississippi, Mississippi. I say an honorable maybe. I don't know. I can't figure it out. I they well tell me we'll figure it out together. Or sometimes they come up and say Mississippi. I say thank you for telling me that's going to get this kid out of trouble. So reinforcing that at a very young age because we have this idea, snitches get stitches and stuff.
And so if it's mean and cruel, No.
One, we have to keep the target safe. No, to a witness safe. Number three, we deal with the kid is doing the mean and cruel activity, even if it means delay justice. Like if a kid comes up and says to me, those kids are calling me names, if I would go directly to those kids right there, they would retaliate against her and make it worse. So then kids don't tell.
But if I say to her, that was an ugly thing to happen to you, let me give you some tools for handling that. But I also need you to know I'm not going to deal with it right now because I need to keep you safe. But tell me, where is it happening and when's it happening? Because it often is continuous, repeated over time. And we watch the kids like a hawk and we'll catch them being mean and cruel and then we nail them on it.
But I also want to give her ways to stand up when kids are being mean. I thank her for telling me that she's being her own witness. Now, if another kid comes up and says those boys are doing these mean things to this other boy. So thank you for telling me. I know it took courage to tell and I promise you, nobody will know. You told me. And I say to him, I need you to know that I won't deal with this situation, but I will watch it.
Where's it happening when that happen? Now, if they jump the kids head in the toilet and he's dripping in urine, I deal with that right on the spot because the evidence is there. The Smirk's are on their faces, what sort of tools would you give that girl to handle the name calling, being able to?
Well, we have some lousy tools. I'll give you those first mini anti-bullying programs. We'll say just tell them, please stop.
That hurts. That works when you're dealing with a friend who inadvertently said something, it was the wrong time, wrong place. It happens to all of us. It was the wrong time, wrong place, wrong situation. And the other kids face drops and tears in her eyes. And so. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. What does a bully do when they know that they have hurt another child? They keep going. They get more aggressive when the other shows any hurt.
It's a difference between teasing and taunting, teasing, slapping with taunting is laughing at. And if they're taunting her, one of the worst things she can do is turn around and say, please stop that hurt. It's like putting a red flag in front of a bull. Oh, good. We heard her. See what I. And you don't want to be aggressive. Well, it takes one to know one because bullies are cowards, but they're not ignorant.
They picked on somebody they knew they could get. So I'd to teach the young girl had a roller soldiers around and down and stand strong and not in a passive posture, stand strong and in an assertive voice, be able to say that was mean, that was cruel, not your mean, your cruel call the deed, not the kid. That was mean. That was cruel. That was bigoted. That was racist. That was sexist. That was ugly.
That was I tried to give as many adjectives as possible so they can choose from them. I don't need this. I'm out of here and getting themselves out of there for older kids and for adults when they're in a situation, maybe even at a family gathering with with an adult sibling targeting them. Still, you roll your shoulders around and down, stand strong and you say that comment was beneath both of us.
Is that effectively labeling it. Yeah. And labeling the behavior, not the kid. Right. And that comment was beneath both of us says I'm not getting in the mud with you and I'm inviting you to be bigger than you are right now because I believe you can be that revenge is so quick, but that doesn't help. The Chinese said it so beautifully. Those who seek revenge at best dig two graves because they eat up, too. So we want to sort of lines not aggressive or passive.
And I've got to say, our climate today of adult discourse doesn't help our kids at all with these violent attacks and dehumanization of another human being, which is what verbal bullying does. So we need to walk our talk and talk our walk. So I ask adults, how do you treat hired help? How do you treat the new neighbor who looks different than you, has a different faith tradition, different skin color, different languages, their first language, your children are watching.
How do you treat that person moving through the grocery store slower than you'd like them to? And how do you deal with a bigoted relative at the family gathering now? We all have bigoted relatives on the family tree.
Some just started on the branches there, right there at the dinner table, spewing bigoted comments thinly disguised as a joke. And we need to be able to say, I'm bothered by that, or that was that was racist. When all the other relatives roll their eyes and say, what? Can't you take a joke? Not that kind. And, you know, you've had an impact when you walk back in the dining room and everybody shut up. But you've had an impact and you've had a greater impact on your children.
When your mother says it's Uncle George, he's old, hey, I'm 70 years old, is never an excuse for bigotry and intolerance. And I think your children need to hear you saying to your mother in an uncomfortable situation, Mom, I don't want my children to ever believe that it's OK to make those comments that are bigoted and racist or sexist, no matter how old we are. Now, you do that, you stand up when it's uncomfortable to do it.
The chances of your daughter sitting with the new girl or your son getting the other boys to stop has been greatly increased.
When I go back to something you said above the brick wall family, the jellyfish family and the backbone family, can you expand on this?
Yes, brick wall my way or the highway uses a lot of bribes and threats and rewards and punishments as a way of controlling the child. And it leaves children with the inability to truly think for themselves or they will rebel. It's like and they use punishment a lot. And when you punish a child, they basically rebel, they fight back, they flee or they turn inside themselves because they're afraid.
And what's the difference between punishment and consequence again and discipline? Punishment, discipline? Yes. Discipline has consequences. Punishment may, too. But I always say we need to use the French term R.S.V.P. responsible play, which means please respond. Discipline is not something we do to a child. It's something we do with the child. Punishments adult oriented is imposed from without. It arouses resentment and teaches kids to respond to their fear or fight back or flee discipline.
On the other hand, if you go back to its Latin roots, means to give life to a child's learning. So consequences need to be R.S.V.P. reasonable, simple, valuable and practical. But let's look at discipline again. If it's a mistake, own it, fix it, learn from it, move on. If it's mischief. And this is where consequences you say. But why do we need discipline when it's a mistake? Because discipline is giving life to a child's learning.
Whether it's that sixteen year old with a B.A. or the three year old with a glass giving life to their learning. So discipline is an integral part of what we do with our kids that. Let me give you an example of use my son again. When it's mischief, this is where consequences come in. Our son did something that wasn't on the approved behavior list. On a field trip, he broke the beaver bait jar at the Natural History Museum.
Could have been worse. Could have been an irreplaceable dinosaur. Like we're very lucky, very replaceable. Beaver Beşiktaş. He was not punished. He was not paddled, which is punishment. He wasn't sent to the principal's office, which could have been punishment depending on how the principal handled it. He didn't have to write five hundred and fifty times. I will not break a beaver bait jar, which is punishment. And he didn't get banned from the next field trip, which, by the way, sad to say, as a special ed teacher, that happens an awful lot to kids with special needs and then they never learn to go on a field trip.
But those were all punishment. He didn't have any of that. Instead, his teacher wisely said, Joe, you have a serious problem here. I know you can handle it. He had to write a letter to the Natural History Museum. He had to replace the beaver bait jar, which was a trip unto itself for those who are listening, who don't know Beaver Beedis, female beaver urin, he will never break another beaver bait jar. And before you go on the next field trip, there were conditions he had to have all that done and have in writing how he would handle his feet, hands and mouth creatively and constructively.
On the next field trip, he was shown what he'd done wrong, given ownership of the problem, given ways to solve it, left his dignity intact. Did he have fun? Yes. And this really galls people who are a brick wall and in punishment, how Derek can have a good time fixing it. Messy. May I have worked with administrators who have truly discipline the child, but since they're not hanging by their toenails at noon in public display and in pain, somebody will say, you didn't do anything to him?
No, I'm not doing something to them. That's punishment. I'm doing something with them. Yes, he had fun the Saturday morning, got up early, got his little knapsack ready, and then the game warden very patiently explained to Joe how he had to collect female beaver for urine. His eyes got huge. He looked at me. He looked at his dad, who was now smiling, and he said that the game warden I asked to do that.
I thought the game wardens comment was classic.
He said, well, I didn't break the beaver bait jar and just was. Joseph Senior prom was held at the Natural History Museum. What a fitting into this public education. But in that experience, he was truly disciplined, shown what he'd done wrong, given ownership of the problem, given ways to solve it, left his dignity intact. And that's what we need to do with discipline, whether it's a mistake, it's mischief or mayhem and always with mayhem.
You go to those three hours in discipline.
And through that, is that how we teach children how to make better decisions and own the outcomes of those decisions?
Well, it holds them accountable for what they've done. It teaches them that they do matter. What they do matters and how they fix it matters. And it gives them the opportunity to fix it and heal with people if they've harmed any of them. He got along quite well with the game warden, went out and did other. Ventures with them and helped out. What are the other things as parents that we can do to help our kids learn to make age appropriate decisions and prepare them for the world where they have to make their own decisions?
It's looking around every situation and saying, is this a choice he can make? And we have to give up some of this efficiency control, but we got to get it done right now.
So I'm going to sit back and say it's going to take a little bit longer for him to fix his own lunch with us, helping him fix it. But pretty soon it's going to be able to fix his own lunch on his own, which is our goal, you know, and you're going to have mistakes. I remember my oldest daughter doing the laundry because she was old enough to learn to do it and she put all the whites in and put bleach in.
However, her brother had taken off his red shirt with his t shirt at the same time. So it was white on the outside. Inside was a red t shirt.
Everything turned pink, including her dad's I you know, everything.
And so Don's underwear was pink and and I said, well, one things we can do is put it through the wash again without the red shirt. But you got to fix your brother's shirt. And now she could have blamed it on him and said, have you to put it in the laundry with the separate. No. You know, hey, you did it. You did it. And I quite frankly, I helped her out with buying a new shirt.
But because it was a mistake, it was an honest mistake. So I helped her out. But she went to her dad and said that you have pink underwear. Well, will be different, have different color. But we look at it, OK, it was a mistake. Had she put a whole load of blue and red clothes in and purposely because they were her brothers and purposely put bleach in it, she wouldn't have a bigger problem. That would have been a menacing thing.
That would have been mayhem with intent matters, you know. But what I want to do is make it simple for parents. Not complicated, but understand that simple doesn't mean easy. And along with that, I can impress upon you how important it is to try to steer away from all the bribes and threats, rewards and punishments. They interfere with ethical behavior and also consider that bribes and threats are the flipside of the same coin. They don't buy as much.
I like to go one step further. I think they bankrupt the spirit of our children because now we have kids saying, well, what's in it for me? And we'll never break the cycle of violence related to bullying if everything's in what's in it for me, because it costs you to stand up and to speak out. So it's trying to put it all together and using simple things that we can do every day, whether it's dealing with conflict or sibling bullying.
None of us like to think our kids are bullying, but we have to look at it. If it is if that's Smurfs on that face, we need to shut that down and help the targeted kid be able to stand up and be strong.
What tools would you give parents trying to put their kids to bed if there's no sort of like threats or punishments? And, you know, you have, let's say, an eight to ten year old and they don't want to go to bed or they refuse to go to sleep or by the time they were that old, you've already got into a routine.
Routines are critical. And I don't mean brick wall routine where it's eight o'clock and you're going to bed no matter what. Bedtime doesn't have to be a nightmare. I wrote about that and kids are worth that. A whole chapter. It doesn't have to be when they're little. My husband and I would take turns putting. I had three kids and three and a half years and so we would take time, time putting them down. The littlest one went to bed.
The latest, you know, it's a busy house, this them nursing them and stuff.
But one of us would do the dishes and the other would put the kids down and one of us would get a break. We're not sure which one on some nights, but it's a matter of I stayed with them and and just would harm or we'd have a little routine. Often it's, you know, being grateful for what has happened during the day and that reading a story and having a calmness about the bed time. Also, if you have a child who has a learning disability, I'm a special ed teacher.
If you rub the bottom of their feet, the Chinese knew it well. The eyes of the windows sold at the feet of the doorway to the body. And you can firmly rub the bottom and their feet. It does two things. One, it calms them down. And two, they can't get out of bed when you're hanging onto their feet. And then you you can rub their backs and make bedtime a pleasant time. Instead, what we tend to do is get in.
First of all, we ask them, did you brush your teeth? Which is silly. That's a silly question. Does Cookie all over his face to do eat that cookie? If they need to brush their teeth, so do you. And so when they're little, you brush your teeth brushing theirs. We're sure we get it all done. Good. I just had my eyes with one of our grandkids, a seven year old, and he's into rules right now because seven year olds are and I was brushing my teeth, I finished before him.
He said, Grandma, you didn't do it the full time.
And what did you say to that? I was on the net. So, you know, you do it with him if you really want him. And then pretty soon they'll be able to take it over themselves and care for their teeth and the dentist will talk to them about teeth rotting out of your head, that kind of stuff. So you teach them, you teach them and you model it for you make bedtime a pleasant time instead of get back in the bed, get back in the bed, get back in the bed.
How many times I have to get back in the bed and you start screaming and then they finally fall asleep and you feel like the bad witch from the west because now they're asleep and you're awful. You've been screaming at them. So taking time, I guarantee you they will want you to put them to bed at 17. I guarantee you that. So if you take that time when they're young and get them in the habit. Now, the seven year old occasionally likes to still be tucked in, but the 10 year old and the nine year old, my grandkids I'm thinking about will want to say good night to you.
And they read and everything. Not not on tools, not on the electronic tools, a real book. There's a reason for that. The blue light from the electronic tools are not good for helping put them to sleep. They also can be harmful to their eyes. So reading a real book will often times they like to read that until they fall asleep.
Or is there like a bedtime? Yes, well, you have a bedtime, but it's a time to get ready to go to bed and and, you know, within a half hour they're out. And you haven't screamed. You haven't yelled. You check in on them. You turn the light out because the book is on their face, you know, making it a pleasant time. Now for some kids, especially kids who may have some learning disabilities or some body issues, the massage, the talking to them, I, my graduate, work with the autism and with them it was a friction oil, but rub firmly to come.
You don't want the tickle tickle because they can't handle that. But the firm massaging of them and helping them relax instead of it becoming a battle because you both do it.
Now, do all these techniques work with autistic kids as well as ADHD kids and regular kids, or are different ways to apply them to the work that's in kids are worth?
It was originally written for kids with special needs and then I was asked to write the book and what I found was with kids with special needs in that backbone that gives you flexibility you don't get from a rigid brick wall, but it also gives you structure you don't get from a jellyfish model.
And we need as parents and educators to have both flexibility and an environment that's conducive to creative, constructive and responsible activity with kids with special needs. We often have to have a smaller distance between the vertebrates and a whole lot more vertebrates.
So we break it into steps and know that there are moments with kids with special needs when they would be horribly frustrated and and you're worn out and making sure that we get a break as parents, a little respite, but also to understand that your kid is struggling in school.
And that's a lot of struggle for them. And you want to be very tuned in.
If a kid says the kids are calling me names and bullying can be devastating, how should a parent respond to that when their kid comes home and says that or hints at the fact that they might be getting bullied at school?
I stop everything I'm doing and sit down and say, talk to me about it. Tell me about a very soft voice. Talk to me about it. Tell me about it and then listen. I say, what can you and I do? Oh, Mom, don't tell anybody. Don't tell me.
They'll make it worse. Kids tend to know that, that if schools aren't handling it well, it will make it worse. And that but there are things that we need to know. I'm an educator. If somebody's bullying tends to happen under the radar of adults. So if a parent would come to me and say that my son said the boys are calling you names in the bathroom, then I change the bathroom schedule. I make sure this one at a time kind of thing, and then I keep an eye on those boys and I say to the parent, I'm going to keep an eye on those boys.
I think the young boy for telling. And I also say to him, nobody's ever going to know. You told and nobody I tell a parent, nobody's going to know you. I'm going to watch them, which means I can't deal with it what they did in the past.
But I tell you that the snow, the playground, the lunchroom, we're going to be on our toes watching for that. And once we're tuned into that, we usually can catch him doing it. We can nail him. And I do I you know, normal conflict. We're going to have lots of that and we just get through it and help them get through it. But bullying is our job to stop and deal with it, both for the targeted person and the the bully and the not so innocent bystanders who joined in.
In your book, kids are worth that.
You talk about the difference between doing good and feeling good. Can you elaborate on that for everybody listening? And what does that mean and how does it change how you parent?
I want to teach young kids to do good is James Nachtwey said because good is good to do that. You do it because it's the right thing to do. He goes on to say, spurn threats and bribes. The hell you do it because it's the right thing to do. Which brings us back to bribes and threats, rewards and punishments and looking at the alternatives to those what to do instead of feeling good about yourself. It's about yourself. When kids understand they have agency in their life, when they sit next to the new girl, no one can take away how good they feel knowing what they did for that other little girl.
No one can take that away. But if you bribe kids, then it's external approval that will help them feel good. And I don't want external approval. So let's look for a moment at what to do instead of bribes and threats and rewards and punishments because they are insidious part of our culture. You know, it's again, if I don't get caught, what I did wasn't bad. If I have to be caught being good and remember, nice kids often get caught being good in the classroom, but they're not been kind to the new girl or to the child with special needs.
The child with analogy, I'm not into nice. I'm mean, kind and kind often happens. I will walk up to a child. I say I want to thank you for inviting that new girl to sit with you. She feels a part of the class now, so that's part of the alternative. So let's look at what the alternatives are. Instead of bribes and threats, rewards and punishment, what kids need are encouragement, feedback, a sense of deep caring and discipline.
We've already done the discipline so we can look at the other's encouragement. Praise can only occur at the end of a deed done the way you want it done. It's highly judgemental. Encouragement can occur any time a kid falls flat on his face. How do you praise fell? Well, now you say to him, Come on, buddy, pick yourself up. I know you can do it. My six critical life message is I believe in you.
I trust in you. I know you can handle it. You're listen to your character. You're very important to me, children. You need to hear that in lots of different ways. And one of them is to say, come on, buddy, pick yourself up. You can do it. Encouraging children. They also need feedback. Now, feedback comes in. Three C's compliments, comments and constructive criticism. Compliment, best compliment you give any child as an educator or a parent is.
Thank you. Thank you for walking the dog. He's been inside all day. Look how happy is to be outside. Thank you for watering that plant. It was really wilted and now it's standing strong. Thank you for inviting that new boy to lunch. So he feels like as a new kid, he fits in already. Now notice how I did that. You stroke the deed, not the kid. Be very specific to the deed and let the child know what his or her behavior did for the dog, a plant or another human being.
And you say, but can I ever get excited? Oh, sure. The three year old want you to say bye bye to the bowel movement.
You say bye bye to the five year old, makes it down the hill without the training wheels touching you.
Did you see how different that is? And if you make it down the hill will go to Dairy Queen and he doesn't make it down the hill, he'll lie to you. He'll throw the bike down and say, I don't care about any stupid Dairy Queen. But you say you did it or you didn't come up. Pick yourself up. You can try it again. You go back to that encouragement and your sixteen year old makes it around the parking lot without popping the court.
You did it. It's OK to get excited, but it's about your child's excitement, praise dependent kids can't get excited to give them permission. Do you like this? This is OK. So we want to stroke the deed. Not that could be very specific to the deed and let the child know what impact they've had that affirms their agency. Again, the second C is comments. Good, solid instruction. We have to teach our kids how to add, subtract diagram.
A sentence settled. Amy, we have to teach them how to be kind and caring. We have to teach them those things. We have to teach them to have a healthy regard for themselves, including their own sexuality and a healthy regard for others, including their sexuality. Teach them to be cyber savvy, cyber, civil and cyber safe. We never had to do that a generation ago, but today we do have to do that and those are things that as parents we need to teach our young people.
So that's in the instruction the comment section. The last see is constructive criticism, which we're so afraid to give kids and a price oriented culture. We're afraid to disappoint them. I don't use a red pen at school. I use a green one and I check all the answers that are correct. And I say to a kid, your job is to fix all the other ones. So they get a green mark, too, that says to a kid, I believe you can do it.
I don't say to a kid, that's wrong. I usually say, that's not right because it's bigger than right or wrong. One of my books is just because it's not wrong doesn't make it right. And it's teaching kids to think and act ethically. And in it, I talk about the fact that two kids making up a game only two can play because they don't want the new girl to play with them because she played with the other girl yesterday.
Now, there's nothing wrong with making up a game only two can play. But it's not right if your intent is to exclude somebody. So your intent matters. So I say that's not right and I invite them to fix it. So it is bigger than my mom. So we want them to have constructive criticism. I say you can fix it. I know you can fix it, but how we treat an A plus, we'll give our kids a clue if they can come home and tell you they wrecked the family car.
They've been targeted at school. Are they worse than that? We're we're targeting somebody. You see, we need our children to be able to tell us about the good, the bad and the ugly. Now, price dependent kids are afraid to tell you. They're afraid to take a risk. They're afraid they won't take advantage because they might get a lower grade. And I like good risk takers. I wanted to be able to take a risk of sitting next to the new girl and the like.
So you're talking themselves and they plushest. I'm so proud of you. You take up to my side of the family. We're going to put this up on the refrigerator for the other side to look at. You do that very often. You're going to go to back to school and I pick up every child's desk and find every paper in there. That's not a plus because they're afraid to bring it home and said, well, what am I going to say when my kid comes home?
I've already given you the comment in another situation. All I ever say to my kids is talk to me about it, tell me about it. And it opens it up for them to talk instead of me talking about it. And so I say, talk to me about it. And the girl who spelling comes easy, say, says Spellings, easy. I don't get excited about that. But the other child where spelling comes hard for them, they say, Look, Mom, I got all the words right.
Even spelling February right in the hours in the funny place, I get excited about their excitement. But the child who got the eight plus because spelling comes easy for them, I say you have a phenomenal gift. We have to find a way for you to use that gift. And at home I would say something like, we've been going over to the senior center and you're old enough to come with us and with your spelling gifts. You can answer their emails, you can write thank you notes for them, you can write letters for them.
I want young people to know that if you have a gift, you have an obligation to use that gift instead of I'm so proud of you for that gift. And then they'll be less likely to take risk if they're afraid they're going to get disapproval from you at school. I would say you have a phenomenal gift. And we have a young child in class who has a difficult time reading out loud and spelling and not but and she's a phenomenal storyteller, which, by the way, is true of many kids with dyslexia.
One of the things you can do is you can write out the stories she dictates to, oh, we have an artist in the class. You can illustrators story. We have musician. You can score her story. We have two class clowns. You can act out the story. What I just did didn't cost a dime and didn't interfere with standardized testing is I just created a larger circle of caring, which goes a long way to breaking the cycle of violence.
The chances of kids mocking the young girl with dyslexia have been radically reduced because they have seen that she has a gift. I take a child with learning disability and let them be the first to climb the rock wall. Why they often are willing to take those risks and the kids at the very top and the other kids are going, wow, instead of oh, he takes ADHD medicine, he has to go down that, you know. Wow, look what he can do.
I take kids who are impulsive, get them in Red Cross programs so that first day classes so they can learn to fix the nosebleed they get gave somebody I, I try to get them to learn to swim really well. I want to. Kids know how to swim. Being a former water safety instructor, I want them to swim well so they don't drown. But kids who are impulsive make phenomenal. I mean this very seriously. The lifeguards, they make wonderful EMTs and paramedics, lousy brain surgeons, but I don't need a brain surgeon in the back of an ambulance.
I need somebody who uses their impulse quickly and they've got that trained. So it's a mindset that we have to have about one of the gifts these kids have. And I want them to say, talk to me about getting an F, OK? Talk to me. Oh, you ran the car into a post the school. Talk to me about it and show me how are you going to fix it? It was a mistake. You know how to fix it, fix it, learn from it.
Move on. Now, if they were drinking and they had an accident, they got mayhem on their hands. And that's a much bigger issue. So but you see how it fits in that structure of the backbone.
I like that a lot.
I find so often the schools are focused on what the children can't do and it's usually geared toward some curriculum or they don't fit inside this ever narrowing sort of box instead of what they can do and taking advantage of maybe special gifts or different ways of viewing the same problem.
Well, I tried to change that as an educator regularly when I'm lecturing and working with schools, when a kid walks through those doors. I've been doing a lot of opening of schools at the beginning of the school year and I say I don't care where a kid comes from. Dad's an alcoholic, mother has an interesting occupation. Brother's going to jail. Any kid walking through those doors, it's a kid and they need those six critical life messages. I believe in you.
I trusted you. I know you can handle this. You're listen to care for very important to me.
I think that's creating psychological safety for the children. Has to I mean, it's the exact same thing we do for adults to create an environment of safety.
Well, we may and I have people say to me when I was working with seriously troubled adolescents, but they're going to go home to the same environment. They're going home to the same streets as they have a five and a half hours a day. I can only do all I can do, but I've got to do the best I can do with them because it's truly a safe harbor. Alice Miller, the psychiatrist, did a study of kids who had been horribly abused and found that those who did thrive had one person in their life that cared about them.
And very often it was an educator. So we can make a difference in their lives. We have to believe that. No, totally.
I mean, I had one teacher make all the difference for me, and it was grade ten. It was the only teacher who ever believed in me and it just changed everything. It does change everything.
It does. Karl Rove convicted in the womb. He spent a good portion of his junior high and high school years in prison, juvenile detention, and then went on to prison. And an English teacher in the prison said, you're a good writer. And he went out and wrote and he also got the Crips and Bloods to put down their colors in Kansas City and went on to be a phenomenal advocate and writer. But it was that one teacher that said, I believe in you.
Yeah, I totally agree with that. Mr. Duncan, if you're listening, thank you so much. I want to tell your big proponent of real world consequences. I want to understand what real world consequences are. And I want to understand when parents or teachers should intervene and when they shouldn't.
If it's not life threatening, morally threatening or unhealthy, let it go. Let them experience the consequences. But you don't say to a 16 year old, go ahead and jump off the building. We'll discuss the consequences. After you land, you pull them back in a second chance at life. But the rest of the time I give them the opportunity to make those choices and decisions. Does that mean I don't give them wisdom, know my own wisdom were there for a reason.
As adults, we're not just kind of hanging with them and we're certainly not their friends.
Do you give them recommendations? Oh, I do. And I would say to someone, you know, I know you love that combination. How do you think I try to get them to how do you think some of your peers may respond to that when you walk through the door? And if he says, I don't care what they think and says it very strongly, so go for it, you're your own person. But if they say, I don't know, what do you think, Mom?
I don't look that well in my day. This is what might have happened, you know, going back to me, because I'm I only know from my own experience and as experience as an educator, I know these things. I also can talk to them about if you said that to somebody and said it in that way, how do you think they might respond? It's a matter of teaching. I was driving one day with my oldest granddaughter and my daughter and my oldest granddaughter asked something and I went off into my teaching mode and my daughter said, You're always teaching, aren't you?
I said, Yeah, you know, because it was a teachable moment.
And I think you take those teachable moments, take them and you get them. Yeah.
Yeah. And you give it to them. And I believe I'm a good teacher and I think that I have some knowledge to impart and I want my my grandkids, I want children in the neighborhood to be able to experience that. And that's why I lecture to teachers. Hopefully they can take some of the wisdom that I have and make it a part of their own school. I want to go back a moment here because I said, you know, they needed the three C's, but they also need deep caring, which is something you just alluded to.
Deep caring is not liking somebody. I tell kids you do not have to like every kid in this classroom, but you must honor their humanity. Deep caring is the must to relieve somebody else's suffering and wishing them well, which, by the way, is the antithesis of mean and cruel. So if you care deeply about another human being, you want to be in there to help relieve any suffering they have and wish them well. And that's what we as educators, we need to be mindful with a wise heart.
And if we're so locked into rules, I have very few rules and many more guidelines. Rules are how we expect kids to behave. Guidelines are how we hope to behave. But a rule is important, but it must be rooted in deep caring that I'm going to go back to a brick wall with that. There was a situation outside of Atlanta, Georgia, a few years ago where they had a rule about cell phone use. It was a good rule about cell phone use.
However, 30 percent of those kids had one or both parents deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan. And a grade 11 boy made international news. His phone vibrates in the lunchroom. It's his mom from Iraq. She didn't get to call very often. He goes into the Commons area and for better cell phone reception and a moral, absolute rigid brick wall teacher came by and said, turn that phone off and give it to me. He said, but it's my mom from Iraq and how telling moral absolutism is, she said, I don't care.
She took the phone. He got belligerent. He was suspended for five days for using his phone, five days for getting belligerent. Now, the board back that teacher, because they said if we let him use the phone, then everyone will use the phone, say moral. Absolute red brick walls are so afraid of moral relativism, but they even got that wrong. It isn't moral relativism. Jellyfish isn't. Everyone will use the phone but who you are, who you related to, what position your parents of the community and who caught you.
That's the jellyfish also reinforcing, not thinking.
Right, like you just followed blindly following some sort of rules or procedures. And you're not exercising any sort of judgment. I mean, you might as well.
Yeah, that's what zero tolerance is all about. It's zero thinking. So what would a deeply caring teacher do? Who's the rule is a rule. It's a good rule. But there's a time to bend to go above the rule now because the rule isn't a good rule. So you see the child with the cell phone, you say cell phone and he looks at you said, look, it's my mom from Iraq and a deeply caring teacher whose ethic is rooted in deep caring and rules are rooted in deep caring, says, I'll talk to you when you're finished and hangs around.
And then when he's done with the phone call, say, how's your mom doing and how are you and grandma doing? It's been a long deployment for all three of you. Is there anything I can do to help that says I care and that the rules are there, but there's a time to bend. Another kid comes up. This is how come he gets to use a cell phone and I don't know, say when your mom's in Iraq, you get to use your cell phone.
Do you have a child with cancer? Needs to wear a hat, but you have a hat rule. There's a time to bend. It's like two yellow lines down the road. That's a rule, not a guideline.
And we have to trust the highway department rules are about trust. I have to trust you. Stay on your side road. You have to trust. I say on my side, the road. However, an ambulance comes down the middle of the road. They have not violated that rule. They superseded the rule. It's still a good rule, but there's a time to supersede that rule, to get to the place so that you can be deeply caring to relieve somebody else's suffering, wishing them well.
Oh, go ahead.
Do you think people follow those rules because they're trying to avoid punishment or trying to avoid being wrong if they exercise their judgment?
Will I ask people when I'm talking about this in the lectures, I say, if any of you have a radar detector, I don't want you to raise your hand if your child's in the car with you. What you have just said to them is speeding is not bad. It's getting caught. That's bad. And some people go and moan a little bit, but it's about getting caught. We don't none of us like to get caught. None of us liked it.
But if that's the only reason we're not speeding, then we have a problem and the rules are there. For a reason, there's only when I say develop your school rules or classroom rules, your general area rules, the basis of those rules has to be deep caring. And it's a matter, again, of does it have to do with safety or the way we relate to other human beings. If you have a rule that doesn't have those two things, one of those two things in common, then I challenge some rule you have.
What were your family rules? My own well, my school rules. My classroom rules were easy. Show up on time. Be prepared. Do your assignments respect your own another's life space. Very simple. And a lot of guidelines where you said how you ask for things, guidelines, but rules are we expect to guidance. That's what we hope you'll behave in our own home. It will be kind and caring, help out with chores that you're responsible member of this family.
We're counting on you to do chores and treating one another kindly, I think lasciviously.
Can you walk me through what would be age appropriate chores for, say, six to eight? Eight to ten. Ten to 12 to 14, 14 to 16?
Well, remember, our goal is to constantly increase responsibilities, decision making, and reduce limits and boundaries. So you don't let a two year old play with a gas stove, but you let them help put peanut butter on the salary and put the little raisins on top for ants on a log, you know, that kind of thing. It's, again, age appropriate. And I would impress upon your ability appropriate. You may have a child with special needs who is the oldest, but the second oldest is more capable of getting more responsibilities in decision making.
They ought to be allowed to do that and not because, oh, I'm worried that the other kid will feel bad. No, we honor each one's differences and seek out one another's gifts as well.
It was interesting to me. I had a niece who's a doctor say that she was talking to some of her patients and some of them who came from Third World countries. Those children were more likely to do more chores and be more helpful around the family because it was expected now that even they live in a first world country, then our children to take a serious look at if our goal is for them to be independent, what chores are we willing to take the time to teach them to do and hold them accountable for?
So I couldn't give you. Exactly. All I know is your goal is when they leave home, they know how to do the laundry. They know how to mow the lawn. They know how to wash windows. They know how to keep a house in order. They know how to shop. So and some of you listening may say, I got a fifteen year old, we've lost it. We're what do we do now? We've done it all wrong.
No, you haven't. It's never too late. You can say, kid, you got a job to do and I've got a job to do and that's to get you ready to go outside on your own at 18. So we got some catching up to do and we can do it. It's again, that affirmation. We can do this. We can do this. What responsibility and decisions do you think you're capable of doing now and what limits and boundaries do you think we can take away?
And you're open. And when they realize that you mean it, they won't give you some far out things like I think I can stay out all night at fifteen. Well, no, not really. But you're open. Let's see what limits we can put. And how about curfew? You know, some people have that rigid brick wall, curfew, jellyfish, that's all. Well, my kid will come home whenever, but a backbone says a half hour after the event or an hour after events or because an event may end at ten.
But you say curfew at 12:00. Well, they can control out. Right. But, you know, an hour after the events over and that means your child can still say, mom, the other boy had something to drink. I'm driving him home. Thank you for telling me.
My parents always had this rule, which I think might not even need anymore because of the likes of Uber and stuff. But the rule is you can call me any time, anywhere, no questions asked and we'll come get you.
That's still a very good rule. That's still a very good rule because it's not always about drinking. It's not always about an Uber. Sometimes it's about they're in an uncomfortable situation. They want out. So you have a code that they can give you a text message or something that says, please come get me and all my mom needs me home right now. Tonight, I've got to babysit my brother, you know, because they're uncomfortable. You get to be the fuddy duddy.
It's like three alternatives. So, you know, how can we say no to kids? Mom, can I have a cookie? No, it'll spoil your supper. Dad, can I go to Jamie's? No, my mom can I have the. Akis, no, dad, can I stay out all night? No, we say no so often that they don't take it seriously on that big one. Well, there's three alternatives. So you start today.
So when you need to say no, you say it and mean it and follow through with it. Mom, can I have a cookie? Yes, later. And how do you find a no? Yes, later, the five year old says, But I'm hungry. OK, have a cookie. It's already later. It's at least three seconds later. But most importantly, you didn't change a no to a yes. It was a yes all along the second.
Dad, can I go over to Jamie's house? Give me a minute. There's nothing wrong with asking for a moment to develop your own case. You might think, gee, it'd be kind of nice to have a meeting or. Yeah, you can go or wait a minute, we have this and this and this to do. No, you can't go. At least when you say no. You know why you said no? How often we say no, we have the foggiest because it sounded good.
Why did why did I say that? I don't know. So yes. Later. Give me a minute. The third I often use with adolescents, but you really can use it with anyone. It's verbal. A mom. Can I have her car keys? Convince me why should I spend all my energy at my age convincing my adolescents you can let her spend all our youthful energy. Convince me why she should.
A mom. All my friends. I'm not convinced. Mom, you let Maria. I'm not convince Mom. If you don't give me the car keys, you're going to take all of us to play practice. I'm convinced. And then when you're sixteen year old says, can I stay out all night, a good line is no. There is a time and a place for no. And they're going to say, how come? And our typical response is because I said so, which is not a wise reason at all.
They're going to go out the back window after you lock the front door. They still don't know why. Tell them why, kid. You can't stay all night because of sex, drugs, personal safety, what not. You can't stay out all night because of sex, drugs and personal safety. Mom, you don't trust me? Oh, yeah, I do. I trust you. From the moment you walk out of this house in the morning to come back in the evening, it takes less than ten minutes to get involved in sex or drugs.
And I just trust you not. But after midnight in this community, there's a whole lot less to do with sex or drugs. And I just don't want to put you in a position you can't handle. Oh, but, mom, everybody's staying up. Not true. You're not you don't love me. I do. I'm not going to argue. I do. They're not going to be real happy, many of our kids.
So we'll be relieved because now they can say, mom won't let me. And you get to be the fuddy duddy. Well, they're still developing that strong backbone of their own.
I like that approach a lot where you can take the blame for the kids. My mom won't let me and my dad won't let me. And then that gives them an out and a way to save face. Yeah. Yeah.
But without them having to stand up and say, I don't want to do drugs, which is really a hard position to put them in.
Yes. And also now that they all have their phones, a text, a code word that they can text to you, that means please come get me or I'm scared or I'm worried and you'd be right there. And you can even walk into that party and just say, John, you didn't get something done.
You need to come home right now and they'll think, whoa, is she up?
And I we took in before we had our own children, kids who were troubled adolescents. And one of them was on the verge of being sent back to juvie hall if he messed up one more time. And I said, you can always blame it on me, I'll back you up. And this was new for him. And he came running in the house ahead of his buddies, said, tell me no, tell me no. And I had no idea what I was telling him about.
But he said, tell me, tell me, know. And so it's it. Come on in. And Mom and all the foster kids call my mom and mom. Can I go? I said, nope. Oh, come on. Never mind you. I have no idea what I'm saying, but I know. And I got even firmer. No, you absolutely asked me one more time. It's going to be a bigger no. No, they won't.
She won't let me. And then after they left, I explain this to me. Well, they were going to go do something he knew he would get in serious trouble for, but he had it. We had an agreement that if he needs me to say no, I'll say it.
How did take the foster kids to integrate into the family? Well, I didn't have kids then. We took in the kids before we had kids. We took in young offenders that while they were being adjudicated or leaving one foster care to another. My husband was a psych rehab counselor. I was a special ed teacher. Some of these kids were two. So some of them that boy in particular, had me right.
What a phenomenal place to learn. Oh, we loved it.
And I told my own kids, we've handled kids who have seriously harmed others and hurt themselves. So you're going to have to work. As shocking as they all three did, by the way, in the teen years, they worked hard. But again, you go back to it's not life threatening or threatening or unhealthy. Let it go. The purple hair will grow out. Nobody likes admitting they're wrong.
How should parents admit that they made a mistake to their kids? They reacted. They did or punished too much or I blew it.
Know, we we all lose it. You know, we yell and scream, how dare you? You're grounded for six months. I mean, why would you want to get on that? But we if you've ever done that, you can always pull back, just like we teach kids. We can always go back and say, I lost it. Give me a few moments to come up with something that makes sense. And I will know you are not grounded for life.
I had a friend grounder adolescent for six months, including senior prom, because she lost it. And so often I see admitting wrong.
It didn't didn't make sense. Go back and you just say to the kid, I blew that one. Now sometimes you have to say I blew it. I'm going to go back outside, I'm going to kill myself down and we'll start over, which gives them a tool for how to do it, too.
And they see that we make mistakes and we're vulnerable. And what's hard is when your kids say you blow it. And I had when I was lecturing in Toronto and we were in an elevator and I had taken my son with me that on that trip and he turned around. He was thirteen. And he looked at all the people that were talking about the lecture I'd just given. And he said, well, would you like to me for me to be good or bad so you can see how she handles it, you know, like, oh, please, you know.
So yeah, humor always helps if you blow up humor helps to know you're not grounded for life. But let me come up with something that makes sense. And by the way, I'm open to suggestions it's OK to ask a kid for some suggestions of what to do.
And some kids will say, spank me. I say, well, that's off limits. I don't do that destroys my dignity and I will destroy yours, too.
So let's come up with another option and then tell them to try again if if it's not in line with what happened. Yeah, yeah.
One of the techniques used in the book that I thought was particularly interesting and I tried it on my kids last night was the set. Can you explain that and wait to use it if you hit.
You said it. Yeah. Yeah. If you hit, you said, OK, let's look at time out because I'm often asked about that. There's time in, there's time out and some people have an interesting time out. I had a parent, one of my workshops say I have a wonderful time out program. It works. Our son hits his sister. He goes, and since I don't even have to tell him anymore, I go, Oh, that's not working.
And you still do something wrong.
Yeah. Yeah. So do I believe in time now? Not that kind, but I do believe in time out. When a child bumps another kid over the head, I say, whoa, it's all right to be angry. It's not all right. Get your brother. I want to separate those two. It is all right to me. It's all right. Your brother. You need to take time out to calm down and figure out how you're going to fix what you just did.
The purpose of timeout is to calm down and to figure out how you're going to fix what you just did. That's the purpose of it. So many timeouts. It's obligatory timeout and the obligatory I'm sorry, and that's the little boy who will hit his sister and go sit and then come up and say, I'm sorry, did not mean it, you know, and still hit a sister. But I also give him options. I say you can sit in your rocker room or on my lap.
Now, people in behavior might say, well, I'm not going to let him sit on my lap. I've been trained in behavior mod with rats. I'm not going to use it on kids. And so sometimes a very out of control child needs a very in control adult and just rocking them may help save them. The goal is to calm them down. Then they have to deal with what they did. So I give them a choice. Rocketboom room, my lap notice, I give them three choices.
You give a strong willed child two, they'll try to figure out which one they you want them to do and they'll choose the other just to spite you. But you give them three. They're confused. So Rocco, on my lap, when they're done calming down now the work begins and mom, I'm ready. OK, if he says I'm done being mad, there's still anger, so. Well, not yet. Do you want to go for a walk?
Maybe sitting isn't what comes down. You get to know your kid is getting attention, is calming down. Now, he's still got to do the work in the three hours he hit his brother. Restitution. You have to own and fix what you did. I hit my brother with a toy and the toy can figure out how you're going to keep it from happening again. And this is where you teach them to share. Except here's you. Here's your brother.
You control half your brother. Controls half, you influence a whole and no is a complete sentence that if he says he doesn't want to give you the toy, you got to find something else to do kind of thing so very quickly. But he says, I won't hit him again, OK? That's what you won't do. But what will you do instead? So then you give him the options there. And then the third is to heal. Now, your brother didn't get off to such a great start today, being bumped over the head with his favorite toy that you now have to go and buy him a new one or fix this one.
Let's see if it's repairable, that kind of thing. What can you do to help him have a better day? And he says, well, he likes to be pulled in the wagon. So here's the five year old pulling the three year old, the five year old noses on goodness, the three year old noses on his brother's goodness and they heal so they can go back and fight later in the day because believe me, kids fight. But it's a matter of you hit.
You said they know that right away. You hit you said you need to calm down and work through the process.
Did you have family meetings? And if so, what what was discussed? How are they run and what was the frequency of them?
Yes, we have family meetings and they were loosely put together when there was a need to come together as a family to decide when they were older. We talked to them about options for holidays. Now they get to choose how we want to go to Australia. We have limits and boundaries. We said we're going to go to this place and what can we do and talk about it. As I got even older, you know, they were better at planning trips when they were five.
It was a matter of who's going to do the math reading and what do you think we need to put in the cooler to get us from this point to this point? Problem solving. Basically, if there was an issue in the family where mom or dad had to leave because somebody was ill or something, we had a really big issue where our kids godfather was kidnapped in Lebanon. He was in nineteen eighty three. He was one of the Lebanon seven.
And we held many family meetings over what do we do to be effective. And our kids were like ten and and nine and seven at that point. And so we we decided we've always had family meals at the table. TV was off when Marty was kidnapped.
Ted Koppel used to have a show every night, so date me. And so we watch TV. Well, we aim to get caught up on what what's happening with the hostages. So every family is going to deal with different kinds of very difficult issues. And Marty did come to stay with us some period of time after he was released.
And and our kids were really close to him. He was their God father. And so that was a traumatic time to deal with it. We also, when our kids were about the same age, my brother in law died and we had the two kids, one older than our oldest son, one the same age as our oldest. And so we had them. And what do you do when all the other adults are planning a funeral that nobody had planned on and all of those things?
So we got together the the three kids myself. My husband, of course, was with the family helping plan everything because it was his brother and the two whose father had died and said, OK, what should we do this afternoon to to remember in a special way and chase dad? And they all just kind of look kind of solemn. And it said, I think we ought to go to Walt Disney movie because Dad loved those with us.
OK, so we're going to a while this, you know, but it was a matter of coming together. And so we didn't have meetings every week. I know some families do that our lives were just a little more hectic, but we did know a format for a meeting that we would have, that we all listen to one another. And we didn't frown on anybody suggestions. We would tell them how we felt. And I think those are all important skills in communication.
And if there is an issue where we have a problem, it needs to be solved. OK, we have to talk. Nobody nobody likes to do bathrooms. It's just the reality at our house. We like to do bathrooms. OK, how can we make this something? OK, we all will all rotate the bathroom, but we all have to do a standard. The bathrooms. Now, if there's a chore, one of my kids love to cook and another not especially.
But she didn't like to cook so she would clean up. It's working those kinds of things out and it's the one who always had to clean up. So we're used to many dishes here. OK, what can we do to solve that kind of a problem? So you got a problem? What's your plan? Basically, it's a formula that we use. I like to have some kind of structure there. You got a problem? OK, what's the plan?
I'm a huge fan of that because it gets the kids out of knowing what to do and get some thinking on how to do it.
Yeah, yeah. And they have to figure it out. You're not telling them? Yes. You're still the adult.
You are their parent until they reach puberty and then you become their mentor, their model, their guide. I really just like it when people say my teenager was my best friend. I said, get a life. You know, they need a mentor. They don't need a friend right now, not you as a friend. Then in adulthood you can become their friend and you better become a good friend because they do pick out your nursing home. And so we need to move through that progression.
But it's critical during those formative years that we are truly a parent and then we become a mentor and a guide and then we can become a good friend in their adult years. Two questions left.
Before we wrap up, I want to talk about teens and social media. And now we have five year olds on social media.
But how do we as parents be responsible with our children? And what kind of conversations should we be having with them and what kind of monitoring, if any, should we put in place?
And how do we get the very same thing as red pajama, blue pajama? I mean, some of our kids today come out of the womb knowing how to use the phone because mom and dad were using it in the room when they were born, texting to their friends, sending pictures. And you see an 18 month old who takes a picture book and tries to slide it. Well, it doesn't change because they're so used to sliding on the phone.
And so what we want to do is teach kids three things to be digitally savvy, smart about the tools are using. And this starts very young. And I know we often think that we don't need to teach them because they don't have a cell phone yet. But I was working with the Department of Defense schools in Europe and I had done a day session for teachers. And then I was working with the parents at night. And then in the day I had third and fourth graders together and then fifth and sixth graders together and teachers were in the back.
And I said, the third and fourth graders, can anyone here tell me how you might be mean on a cell phone? This little boy shot his hand up, had a smirk on his face, and he told me how he had been mean, not how it could be mean. He said, Well, I asked my classmate and he was real cocky. He said, I asked my classmate if I could borrow his phone to call my mom.
And then he had this smirk and he said, But I call my mom. I went into his phone book. And a lot of you say, I know a lot of parents who don't know how to do this, but I went into his phone book and said an ugly text message to every one of them and got him in trouble. And he's laughing. Right. The teachers in the back of the room were stunned. Who was the most on the fourth grade teacher?
Oh, gee, Billy, she didn't have to teach him this stuff. Does he have a cell phone yet? No. You borrowed a friend's. So I believe it's important. About age five, we started teaching them to be savvy about the tools they use to be civil, and that's where we put the structures on it. I used to use the old Sufi saying that our words must pass through through Gates first. Is it true? Not true.
Maybe true after a rumor, but is it true? Is it necessary to say something may be true, but not necessary to say. And the last is, is it kind if it won't pass or all three gates. Don't you dare push send. But it also is true in the offline world too. Is it true? Is it necessary. Is it kind? And again, we're fighting in a climate today with adults not going through those three days before they engage their mouth or their fingers.
So we've got to work against that. So we teach them to be digitally savvy, digitally, several digitally safe. Now it starts about age five. You have limits and boundaries. Of course, you would just like crossing the street for a five year old, more limits and boundaries and fewer responsibilities in decision making. And then you constantly increase the responsibilities of decision making as they demonstrate ability and age appropriateness. Then you look at what limits and boundaries can be put on it.
I believe through the early teen years, it's important that we know their passwords, that they trust us and we trust them. But trust and I use Ronald Reagan's comment trust but verify it with them because there's so much dangerous stuff out there today and we need to talk to him. I try to stay up and there is a wonderful Web site started here in Colorado, common sense media dog. And you can subscribe to it free and it will give you the latest apps, the latest games.
The latest concerns with movies and they've done a wonderful thing, they hired experts in the field to make handouts for parents and educators from preschool all the way through high school on media savvy and safe, but uses different terminology.
So that's a tool that I use regularly. Then the other one, stop cyberbullying dog that Parry Aftab started is made for middle school and high school kids and their parents to help them help their kids stay safe and civil and savvy about it. I mean, the tools are changing so rapidly and you've got to know that kids are not targeting their their peers on Facebook now because grandma is on Facebook, they're using apps and they're using them quite effectively. And these are tools.
That's all they are. They can be used for good or for ill.
And parents have an obligation to kind of keep up with what's going on. And so do we educators, both of us do. But I also feel very strongly, Rafie, the singer started the Red Hood project. Rafie Beluga Whale was one of his famous songs after a young girl and killed herself after being targeted by a predator from the Netherlands. And she lived in Canada, Amanda Todd. And she thought she was communicating with a 15 year old and he blackmailed her.
And our crack team here in the United States actually found him in the Netherlands and found her and over two hundred other us and Canadian boys and girls who had been blackmailed by him.
And so he was so angry. He started the Red Hook project that you can subscribe to. But his whole push is that, yes, teachers and parents can help keep kids safe.
Would you talk to your kids about examples like that or would you hide them from it?
Oh, no, I would I would probably do it again. But he goes to Google and Twitter and Yahoo! And the latest app producers and Facebook and says, you've got to help us out. You've got the money. You've got the resources. You need to help keep our kids safe because educators and parents cannot do it alone and the police department will be overwhelmed. And so we need to be able to have that conversation and demand that these companies that are developing these tools help us help our kids be safe.
It's more the issue of safety. But also we have an obligation to teach our kids to be savvy about these tools, not be used by them, but to be able to use them effectively and civil, probably civil as the most important. Sometimes kids will hide behind the anonymity of the net, but other times people say, well, it's an anonymity. No, sometimes they can hardly wait to get to school to see how the targeted kids are responding to their vile comments to her the day before when they use their full names because there's nothing going to happen to them.
Now, I was a part of developing David's law in San Antonio, Texas, drafting that law for cyber issues, because I think he was what is that law?
So it's a site on cyber bullies called David's Law. You can look it up in. The Texas state legislature is one of the first to deal with holding kids accountable if they tell someone to kill themselves, as had happened to David, if they demean or harass someone on the web to hold them accountable.
And our laws have not caught up. And so parents have a kid being relentlessly tormented. And what do we do? We can't take it into our own hands as much as we'd like to. But the law says they haven't reached a point. Well, now they have. And it's different degrees of offences there. So we need all of us to help keep our kids safe online, offline worlds. We used to talk about the real world and then the online world, but we can't use that language anymore.
It's online. Offline have merged to create the real world for young people. Today I spent I'm 70, I spend a lot of time trying to keep up a fortnight is now a popular.
But tell me about it. Yeah. And and it frightens me because it and people say, oh, don't be such a fuddy duddy. But I know the research behind what military has done to help break down the barrier for killing someone in that same kind of thing, breaking down those barriers in the. Of kids are becoming desensitized to flying. If you were a parent, would you allow your child to play that or would it be supervised or framed or how would you go about that?
I'm not a fan of censorship, but age appropriate ability, appropriate. And I believe that game was developed for older people. It was not developed for seven year olds. However, let me just frighten you a little bit more. There is an online program where somebody has developed a form of that that young kids and this is something parents need to be aware of in the roebuck's, where kids go online and get invited by friends and they may parent may think they're their kid is just playing good games here because I know somebody is communicating with them.
Somebody else is inviting them to talk. Oh, what is this? Well, somebody did a form of fortnight that doesn't have any of those restrictions on it. And you can have a five year old, seven year old, six year old playing.
And now I know there are parents who have actually hired coaches so their kids can get better at it and they've hired coaches themselves so they can beat their sons or daughters out.
And I have serious concerns about it because I have I and part of it's my own world history, my own life history. I work in Rwanda with orphans from the ninety four genocide.
I see what happens with hateful rhetoric is a short walk to hate crimes, to crimes against humanity. And and I also look at the good research out there about what happens with all that violence. Any violence our kids are exposed to, whether it's online or offline, become a part of their worldview. And we need to be tuned into that. And so I have a problem with that. With young kids from a portion of their brains are not fully developed.
There's a lot wrong with that for young people. Now, I probably get a lot of grief from people saying, oh, there's nothing that bad about it. But in my book, just because it's not wrong doesn't make it right. I talk about the whole issue of what's so wrong with all this violence and violent video games. It isn't just that one. And again, there's people who will say, well, the researchers said that it's not that bad.
Well, let's look and see who did the resource or research for it.
And when we find out who did it, if it's the people developing the game that's going to be skewed, if it's people who are truly concerned about the what's happening in kids lives and in their minds and are willing to look at it objectively. And now I think we are seeing some good research on that.
But I think it's critical that we take a serious look at what's what's wrong with all the violence that kids are being exposed to. And if we can do that, then I believe we can show kids that violence in our homes. I don't maybe it's the way we treat one another. It isn't just the online, but how do we speak to one another in our homes as adults? How do we speak to one another when we're talking to our neighbors?
How do we correspond? Are we always online? And if we're always online, when a kid walks into school from school and we're on our phones, do we get off our phone so that they can communicate with us and say, how was your day?
And the kid walks in, head down, shoulders down and is fine. This is fine. But I want to go back here just a moment. The deadly consequences. What's wrong with all this violence, real or imagined? Acts of violence tend to cultivate a sense of danger, of mistrust, of alienation and gloom in our kids. None, none of what our kids need today and children who are regularly exposed and engaged in media violence. And that isn't just the gaming, but media violence in general.
They're more likely to become desensitized to real life violence so they won't see other kids in school. Being mean to another kid is such an awful thing when it really should their guts. I'll just say this is awful. One of the scary things is they imitate that violence that they see and hear. They also some of them for some, they become easily intimidated or depressed because it's online and offline for them. Others become fearful and distrustful of others. Oh, that really creates community.
And I think one of the most important things that happen is they miss their natural healthy fear clues. Our bodies want to keep us alive, and if they become fearful, full of fear, they don't get tuned in to things that should bother them. Little ones will say, I don't want to go to Uncle George's because they're listening to their little gut say it's not a good place to be and we don't live.
But if they're fearful of stranger danger, which drives me crazy because we usually have to go to a stranger if we need something, if we need help, then they miss their fear clues and they're often lulled into thinking that they are safe when in familiar surroundings with familiar people. And that's not always true. And when you have those video games, there are pluses. It does draw them into intricate systems where they learn to play and interact with one another.
It does strengthen the hand coordination as surgeons. They use it quick thinking and cooperation and imagination and problem solving. And it does. Some of the games can invite kids to be thoughtful and caring and come up with solutions to quandaries or dilemmas like SIM City. And the UN has developed some wonderful games for that. But there are probably negatives as well. When you're playing a video game, it requires little more than quick, aggressive, violent responses to perceived threats.
You see something pop up right away. You've got to respond. It glorifies violence as a legitimate solution to problems. And violence is not a solution like this, Loescher said. Conflict is inevitable, violence is not. And it sets other people up as adversaries, praise or targets rather than people that we need to communicate with that Martin Buber's I and now in our common humanity, I am I and you are now. I'm unique. You're unique, and we have a lot in common.
It does. We know it to be true. Military abuse it it breaks out our natural inhibition to killing. It also does something that neurologists have found out and neuroscience. It creates neural pathways that connect violence with pleasure and rewards rather than sadness and sympathy and fright. And that ought to scare us all. And it's non-stop stimulation can provide comfort and becomes a source of soothing. We have young people waking up at night having to get online to play something to soothe them back to sleep.
And we do know that for some kids it can become addicted. So we have to look at this deadening consequences and what's wrong with all the violence, whether it's online or offline.
I think that's something all parents and educators should reflect on. I want to end with a question on sex and drugs and how we should talk to our kids. I mean, my kids, we can use my kids as hypotheticals are sort of like eight and nine right now.
Walk me through how I should talk to them about that over the next ten years. And what do I need to be doing now to lay the foundations?
I'm sorry. You're using the proper words. Very young, a little three year old, a grocery store mommy. But I've done it. It's before I go, you know, and we have one hundred and five words for penis. Twenty one hundred and twenty five for breasts and one ankle. We have to start teaching kids to use their proper words. I want a little boy just say that there's something my penis feels funny. And instead of using all these euphemisms, we we sausage and bacon or twigs and berries, all the words that we use junk family jewels to use them.
And you say, but why? Well, when they reach middle school, they won't be calling one another slut or fag or bitch, which are derogatory sexual term. So we start young. You said, well, wait, no, no, no. We start even younger. We start giving them the proper terms. We talk to them about limits and boundaries, just like we talked about limits and boundaries and every other part of their lives, that sexuality is an integral part of their being.
So that instructions, how do we treat them? How do we treat their bodies? How do we talk to them when they're real, real young about proper words? Then as they're getting older and we're seeing puberty grow up with especially our young girls today. And so the talk, quote unquote, has had to come earlier. But if we couch it in being free about talking about our bodies properly and talking about that we don't violate somebody else's space, and then we can start talking about the difference between teasing and taunting, you say.
But what does that have to do with sexuality? Teasing is laughing with somebody, taunting is laughing at somebody. So if we can start about age five, talking to kids about the difference between teasing, which is a mutual thing. It's lighthearted, clever and benign, and it's only a small part of your relationship, and both parties are laughing and taunting, it's one sided. It's a small it's the only part of the relationship. You have bigoted comments thinly disguised as jokes and teasing when the other person appears distressed.
We stop in taunting. We keep going. So if we teach them that, then by fourth grade we can start talking to kids about the difference between flirting, which is normal, natural, necessary to keep the human race going, and sexual bullying, which is none of those, because the checklist for teasing and flirting is very similar for taunting and sexual bullying are very similar. So that's why I said we have to start young. And so it isn't just dropping in the talk being open.
When a kid asks a question about sexuality, you're driving in the car and you're your eight year old says, Daddy, where did I come from in your mind's going, where do I start? Where do I start? And the and you start talking about, well, mom and I loved one another. And he says, no, no.
Is it New Jersey or New York, you know, finding out where the kids coming from and not be upset when they bring something up, if they use a gross sexual term to stop in its tracks, because that's mean and cruel and then get some help.
There's some good programs out there. I know my oldest granddaughter's 11 and the hospital actually had several sessions for moms and daughters to attend and fathers and sons to attend about your changing body.
And they had it well developed and it provided an environment of lots of girls and lots of women and lots of boys and lots of men to help kids talk about this and use those kinds of resources. And then when they noticed their bodies to see if one is developing earlier than other girls, do you need to get a little sanitary pack and have that ready? So you're ready and she won't be afraid to tell you that she started her period or mom, I want a bra.
We've sexualized our young children and we've got to get away from that so that they can normally develop just like development of everything else, the foam portion of their brains, their emotions, and then become tuned in to that, an age where they're unable to be an adult and unable to be a child and wanting desperately to be both. And that's that that thirteen through fifteen year. And those are hard on everybody, including the kid. The wonder years were so really wonderful when it comes to their identity, their self identity, their sexual identity and asking lots of questions and be open.
And you can honestly say, I'm going to have to look that up or talk to me about why it's important for you to know that right now. And it's being open and talking to them. They're hearing things.
They're able to see things online that you and I were never exposed to for good. And there's good stuff. The kids are finding out and it's for media. But there's also some stuff that's not healthy. Dr. Phil Zimbardo did some amazing work. He did the Stanford Prison experiment, but he also did a TED talk. And you look at our founder, Phil Zimbardo. It gives the name of the talk is scary, but it's about our young boys and what pornography is doing to them and why it's so dangerous, the kind that's out there today and what it does to their sense of relationships with the real world young girls that they hopefully will fall in love with.
Think it has a huge impact on adults, too, doesn't it? That's well, you know, it does. We know it does on relationships. So, you know, as an adult, your brain is fully developed. Theirs is not their own sexual identity. Their sense of self in relation to other human beings is not. So it has really devastating effects. And so we need to be tuned into those kinds of things. And again, age appropriate ability, appropriate what their interests are.
And they do need to know how their body is developing. And if you're uncomfortable with it or you're not sure. My generation, my mother didn't know the words all the proper body parts because they never use them and they were never told what they were. Right. And so generation was reading our bodies ourselves, which I gave to. My daughters, when they were 15 and 16, and now there's a lot out there, seek it out, ask for help.
Use your programs that you have in your community that will help you. But being honest and open, remember, if your kids can tell you the good, the bad and the ugly, going back to not praising them and not using rewards and punishments of will come much easier when they feel like they can talk to you about anything, use humor.
And I also, while we're on that with drugs and sex, you don't have to tell them everything you did wrong. You can do a lot of lessons. But they really there are things your parents don't know. It's probably best that your kids don't know either. And unless there was a real teachable moment in it, you're getting your kid out of the local jail and you ended up there once to sharing that with them. But in a way of, you know, we can get through this and the like, I'm here for you kind of thing.
But telling about all your experiences with drugs in the abuse probably isn't the best idea. So we learn from those things. There are things you don't have to share. There's oversharing. So and we want them to feel good about their sexuality regardless, wherever they fit on whatever spectrum there is, and to be open to them and let them know that we love them, that we're here for them, that they are who they are.
That's a great spot to end this conversation. Barbara, thank you so much. This was a phenomenal exploration of how to raise kids and how to think about it from a parenting and a teacher perspective. And I really appreciate you taking the time. Well, kids are worth it, they are worth our time, our energy, our resources to help them be all they can be because that's what matters. Hey, guys, this is Shane again, just a few more things before we wrap up.
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