100 Year Anniversary of Mother’s Day and Attachment

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Do you know that 2014 is the 100th anniversary of Mother’s Day?

Two weeks ago, Lois M. Collins, from the Deseret News National Edition, interviewed me about attachment and mothers. The part of the article I’m quoted in is below.

Follow the link to read the entire article. Mother’s Day 100-Year History

In the 19th century, Americans began what Matt calls a “sentimentalization of mothers,” who were featured lovingly in songs and stories and heavily celebrated for their virtue. “It began a new focus on mother love, warmth and tender ties.”

Mothers were noted for power to encourage kids to grow into good, pious citizens. Focus tightened on mother-child relationships. And Mother’s Day is a modern tale of love and attachment.

Author, speaker and child development specialist Marian Fritzemeier of Modesto, California, has two adult daughters and three grandchildren who will likely honor her with cards and small gifts, as well as a get-together and dinner. They’ll juggle the timing of the actual celebration so that her kids’ spouses can also celebrate with their moms.

She believes that a child’s very future hinges on developing secure relationships and strong emotional bonds. Mother is often among if not the first place those bonds form.

“Attachment is an emotional bond between an infant and a caring adult. It means somebody is responding consistently to the infant,” Fritzemeier said. Cries attract someone to figure out what’s wrong, whether it’s hunger, a need to be burped or stimulated or changed, or just a familiar and loving voice. Moms are often that early primary caregiver, she noted.

Strong, healthy attachment “provides a foundation for life, not just in infancy, but adolescence and into adulthood,” she said. At home, Fritzemeier is surrounded by trinkets and pictures her children have made her. “You don’t have to spend a lot of money. A lot of families don’t have it. Mother’s Day can be breakfast in bed, a meal together, perhaps a barbecue,” she said. Pick flowers from your yard or ask to pick your neighbor’s.

6 Year-Old Stabbed in Neck with Pencil

pencil-and-postit-796599-mWas it a stabbing or a poke with a pencil? Was it bullying or an accident? Why didn’t the school call an ambulance or the police? Did the Turlock Unified District follow established protocol?

The questions ruminating around California’s Central Valley abound. But the one question that bothers me the most is, Why didn’t the school intervene when the family previously reported bullying incidents?

Bully Workshop

I’m teaching a workshop at California Association for the Education of Young Children’s annual state conference in Pasadena, California. The workshop, Bullying 101: Helping the Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander; How Educators Can Help Break the Cycle of Violence, is based on a course I created for Merced College. This specific workshop is for adults working in kindergarten to third grade programs or schools.

Stories Abound

Any time I’ve had a conversation about my speaking engagement, someone shares a story. A story not unlike the “stabbing” story. “My (daughter, grandson, neighbor, friend, relative) has a child who was bullied. They reported it to the school over and over and nothing was done. The child changed schools.”

More Columbines?

How many more Columbines will it take for all schools to wake-up? How many more kids will take their own lives because of bullying, also called bullycide, before society demands bullying stops? How many times will I hear stories where no one intervened?

The Movie: Bully…

I’ll write more about bullying in the future and strategies that work. In the meantime, view the 2012 movie, Bully: It’s Time to Take A Stand produced by The Weinstein Company and Where We Live Films, rated PG-13. I’d sure like to hear your thoughts on the film and bullying in schools.

“The Forgotten Garden” Hope Street: My Journey

[www.stockpholio.com]-7574858320_4 on its way out aussiegall

The tomato plants hanging over the grow box creep onto the sidewalk fall chaotically onto my pathway look dead. It appears that someone at Stanford Hospital previously cared for these plants.

There’s evidence that tomato cages and stakes supported the plants growing tall and abundant. Now the cages lean haphazardly with the plants’ heaviness. The plants are left to die during the cool fall days.

The dead plants remind me of my life. Dealing with undiagnosed brain impairment for the past five years, darkness clouds my former bubbly personality and positive outlook on life.

After a long search, the doctors from the neurology & epilepsy department diagnosed me just last week. I’m one of the lucky ones. My diagnosis only took five years, while most people aren’t diagnosed for seven years.

My non-epileptic seizures don’t change my disability status. I’m still unable to fulfill my college professor responsibilities. I feel isolated and alone especially since my life no longer centers on hundreds of students and colleagues.

Then I notice that the plants are not quite dead. I discover two tiny, green tomatoes. I touch them and wonder how they are surviving amidst this tangled and forgotten garden. My eyes burn and overflow with tears. How will I survive another dark day?

During my hospitalization, the garden is the only place where I’m allowed some fresh air. Every day I’m compelled to visit the garden to check on my discovery. Breathing in the crisp air while observing God’s beauty, gives my heart a lift. The two small tomatoes are still growing amongst the neglected plants. If these two tiny tomatoes can thrive in this forgotten garden, maybe I can get better too.

Today as I approach the plants, they look worse than when I discovered them ten days ago. I hope my adopted tomatoes are still growing. But they’re not.

“They’re red,” I exclaim to no one but myself. “My two green tomatoes are turning red.”

I’m so excited I search through other vines parting their branches. I discover six tiny tomato buds on the first vine. On another I observe a dozen buds just forming in a row. Hundreds of tomato buds hang on the unkept plants.

What appears dead is still growing but unseen by those who pass by. I can’t always see the buds God is growing in my life. Yet in His time, I see glimpses of “red” just like my two adopted red tomatoes. There’s life amongst this forgotten garden. On this quiet nippy fall morning, I remember, God hasn’t forgotten me either.

Book Review: The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: The 25 Year Landmark Study

divorce-book-cover

Twenty five years ago, the general population was told that children and teens adjust to divorce within five years after their parent’s divorce. The controversial, New York Times Bestselling book, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: The 25 Year Landmark Study, came along in 2000 and tells a different story. A story that is difficult to process and challenges American society’s beliefs about divorce.

The Study

Wallerstein studied children of divorce since 1971, when she began observing some 131 children of divorced families in affluent Marin County, California. The original “children of divorce” study was funded by the Zellerbach Family Fund. Subsequent studies were done with the same children that ultimately led to The 25 Year Landmark Study.

The Book

The five-part, twenty-two chapter book presents a long-term perspective of children of divorce after they reach adulthood. “…when children of divorce become adults, they are badly frightened that their relationships will fail, just like the most important relationship in their parents’ lives failed,” (p. xiii).

College Students’ Responses

I used an article based on this book in my college Child Growth & Development course for small group discussions. The topic stirs up intense emotions alongside powerful opinions based on students’ personal experiences. The vast majority of students from divorced families agree with the authors’ long-lasting effects of divorce.

Interesting Chapters

Some interesting chapters include: Growing Up Is Harder; The Wages of Violence; Our Failure to Intervene; Undoing the Past; and Growing Up Lonely. Since divorce is so prevalent in our society, this is a well researched and documented book on the effects of divorce that should be read by anyone touched by divorce.

Book Information

The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: The 25 Year Landmark Study by Judith S. Wallerstein, Julia M. Lewis, & Sandra Blakeslee, New York: Hyperion, 2000. Available from Amazon.com hardcover $17.56; paperback $11.62; audio cassette $5.48; and Kindle $9.99.

Book Review: The Hurried Child: Growing up too fast too soon

The Hurried ChildOne of my favorite contemporary psychologists is David Elkind, author of the 25th Anniversary Edition of The Hurried Child. The message in his original book published in 1981 was, “Give childhood back to children.” As a child development specialist, his message echoes mine.

25th Anniversary Edition

Unfortunately, in his revised edition, the third edition, and now the 25th anniversary edition, the prefaces to his books sadly state that children are increasingly hurried. Interestingly, he includes all his previous prefaces in this edition.

First Edition

The first edition focused on the way parents, schools, and the media hurry children. Concerns about sports and schooling that he considered developmentally inappropriate, as well as the effects of sex and violence on television were key components of his book.

Technology & Hurry

The latest edition adds information on the effects of technology on children with the pervasiveness of our hurried society and media. “In many ways, our new technologies have radically transformed childhood, and not always for the better,” (p. viii). Other significant cultural changes include the focus on infant education, such as Baby Einstein and computer programs for infants and toddlers. Out of home child care for 12.5 million children under age five with an average of 36 hours per week is yet another cultural shift, as is the child as a consumer, and the technology empowered student.

Two Parts

This ten chapter book is dived into two parts: Our Hurried Children and Hurried Children: Stressed Children. Part one addresses the dynamics of how parents, schools, media and technology hurry children. Two excellent chapters in part 2 include Growing Up Slowly and How Children React to Stress.

Hurrying Children

Elkind’s documented so many significant cultural changes around hurrying children, he’s amended the closure from his first book to state, “In the end, a playful childhood is the most basic right of children,” (p. xvii). This book is counter culture to our hurried society which is exactly why I like it. Let’s give childhood back to our children. They deserve nothing less.

Book Information

The Hurried Child: Growing up too fast too soon by David Elkind, Ph.D., Da Capo Press, 2007, 25th anniversary edition. Available at amazon.com; paperback deluxe edition $12.42; Kindle $10.33.

 

To exercise or not to exercise?

5Bwww.stockpholio.com-5D-5032496501_4-Pilates-U-S-ArmyHas your doctor suggested you exercise for health benefits? Did your friend suggest exercising as a way to lose weight? Do kids ask you if you’re going to have a baby because of your tummy pouch?
Should I exercise today or not?
It’s a question you may ask yourself on a regular basis. Nah, not today, I tell myself. It’s raining. Maybe tomorrow…or if I’m lucky, maybe it will rain again. This week I spoke to a group of Mothers of Preschoolers in Tracy about The Physical Perspective. Most of us know that exercise is helpful to prevent weight gain, promote weight loss, or maintain our weight, but that doesn’t always do the trick. (1)

 

Some of us are motivated by health

Exercise reduces your risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. (1, 2) It also reduces stress, depression and anxiety. (3) Enhancing mental performance and work productivity (whether your “work” is in your home or outside your home) are other benefits. Exercise can even improve your skin.

But some of us are motivated by sex

The benefit the mothers’ giggled about is that 20 minutes of exercise a day improves your sex life. (3) Who knew that the Harvard School of Public Health studies such things? It’s true. Just 20 minutes/day Improves sexual response in women, leaves you feeling energized, and helps you feel more desirable.

Dr. David Katz from Yale adds, “Working out with your partner not only will allow you to spend time together, but it will trigger adrenaline & other feel-good hormones to get you in the mood.” (3)

I shared with the ladies, “If your husband finds out about this, chances are he’ll ensure you get exercise time in!” Maybe that will work…rain or not!

Sources:

1. Physical Activity and Health, www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/health/ Accessed 10/23/2013.

2. The Benefits of Physical Activity, Harvard School of Public Health, www.hsph.harvard.edu › The Nutrition Source. Accessed 10/25/2013.

 

Accepted and Rejected Children in School-Age Friendships

gossip-girls-1-1066564-sby Dr. Marian C. Fritzemeier, Ed.D. © 2014

The good news for parents is about 80% of children fall within the “accepted” children friendship group. (1) These children have at least one friend who protects them from experiencing long, lonely days in school.

The 20%

However, the remaining 20% are part of the “unclassifiable” group; they may have no friends at all. Psychologists are concerned about this bottom 20% on the social ladder. In this blog, we’ll look at the three sub-groups, typical friendships characteristics of each, and how parents can help these struggling children with friendships.

Neglected Children

The first sub-group is the “neglected” children who tend to be very shy, comprising five percent of children. (1) Although the group sub-title sounds negative, these children are very close to their families and typically good students. They simply don’t attract much attention from peers. Parents mainly need to accept their child’s social style which was explained in my last blog, Parents Can Help with School Age Child’s Friendships.

Controversial Children

The second sub-group, “controversial” children, also five percent, possess some traits peers like, but they also have annoying habits, such as: being a poor sport or poor hygiene. (1) These children need to be coached to give up annoying habits. Some parents think that by addressing these issues their children’s self-esteem will suffer, but these children are already suffering silently. If children knew how to change their behavior, they already would have.

Adult Guidance

They need adult guidance and specific strategies for improving these habits. It can begin with a simple observation question. “Today when you were shooting hoops, did you notice that your friend was angry when you kept hogging the ball? What can you do differently next time you shoot hoops?” When parents gradually and consistently work with children on specific annoying behaviors, most children will improve over time.

Rejected Children

The last sub-group, the “rejected” children contain 10% of children. (1) These children lack important social skills in a wide variety of areas and may not cooperate or know how to respond in certain situations.2 “Rejected children are either overly aggressive from the start and react to being rejected with more aggression, or they become depressed and withdrawn.” (1)

Missing Skills

Whereas the “controversial” children need some help on certain social issues, these children must be taught missing skills. (2) If not, this child will become a rejected adult. Maybe you know someone like this. They don’t pick up on social cues and are observed as “misfits” at work and in social settings.

Life Skills

Now is the time for parents and schools to help these children develop the all important life skill of making friends. School administrators are a great resource to find out about arranging friendship groups that help rejected children make friends. “Just 6 to 8 meetings of such a group can have a significant positive impact. Administrators should also implement anti-bullying policies and train teachers to create a socially safe environment in the classroom.”1 Rejected, angry children may need counseling.

Help Finding Friendships

Both “rejected” and “controversial” children need help finding friendships in other venues beyond the school day. Spending time neighbor kids or cousins is one way to begin. Children are in close proximity for observing interactions combined with “coaching” later. Joining a youth group, like Boy Scouts, Girls Scouts, or 4-H are other possibilities. Community service projects are great ways for children with to learn social skills while helping others.

Extra Guidance

When your children are in the last two sub-groups, they will need extra guidance, direction and support. Overtime, your children will benefit from better friendships. Remember, “It only takes one real friend to alleviate the worse aspect of loneliness.” (1)

Sources:

1. Let’s Be Friends: Help your child’s friendships flourish — even in the face of difficulty. Scholastic Parent, www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/article/stages…/lets-be-friends. Accessed 10/17/2013.

2. Children’s Health: Peer Pressure, www.healthofchildren.com. Accessed 10/5/2013.

How About Some Positive Peer Pressure?

by Dr. Marian C. Fritzemeier, Ed.D. © 2013learning-the-rules-909359-s

Although the last five blogs highlighted parenting tips to help their school age children resist negative peer pressure, it is essential to remember that peer pressure isn’t always negative. Positive peer pressure assists school age children with reinforcing skills.

An important example is demonstrating appropriate social behaviors. You may hound your kids about their manner with little results, but when their friends make comments, they often listen.

“That’s gross.”

Take for example, body functions, like inappropriate belching. “That’s gross,” friends may groan. Or maybe your daughter doesn’t like washing her hair. A friend may comment, “You’re not going to the birthday party with your hair like that.” Of course not, and the hair is washed, styled and off they go.

Changing

Peers can also motivate positive personal changes. (1) Maybe your daughter is struggling with math. Her friend offers to lend her a hand. Or possibly your son wants to play a sport but hasn’t joined a team before. A friend may join the team with him. Perhaps your daughter is organizationally challenged. A peer can help arrange her school binder.

Belonging

Peers can rally round your child to maintain self-confidence and a sense of belonging and meaning. (1) Kids usually choose friends who are similar to them. This helps children feel like they belong to something beyond their families. Having good friends with similar values provides fun times together and helps children feel more confident.

Volunteering

Positive peer pressure can also influence peers to volunteer, work towards becoming more “green,” staying away from drugs and alcohol, and thriving in academics and goals. (1) Even amongst school age children, natural leaders will guide peers to make a difference.

Opportunities

Check to see which non-profit organizations allow school age volunteers, such as food banks, homeless shelters, or animal rescue organizations or shelters. Some kids help save our environment. Other children challenge peers to stay away from drugs and alcohol or do well in school. When parents hear about negative peer pressure, keep in mind that peer pressure can also become a very beneficial asset for you and your child.

Source: Peer Pressure: Why it seems worse than ever and how to help kids resist it, Malia Jacobson, August 29, 2013, www.parentmap.com. Accessed 10/5/2013.

 

Suspend Judgment: Reducing Negative Peer Pressure for School Age Children

by Dr. Marian Fritzemeier, Ed.D. © 2013

Suspend Judgment   

Another tip for helping your school age children reduce negative peer pressure is suspending judgment when your child confides in you about his/her peers. 1 Sometimes the “friend” is actually the child him or herself so watch what you say. Your goal is to learn more about the situation by keeping communication open. Become an expert on asking open-ended questions. For example, “Sounds like Matthew’s really struggling. What could you do to help him through this tough time?”

Source:

  1. When Peer Pressure is Good For Your Child, Carolyn Hoyt, Good Housekeeping, Women.com Networks, Inc.

Awareness of “Virtual” Peer Pressure: Reducing Negative Peer Pressure for School Age Children

by Dr. Marian C. Fritzemeier, Ed.D. © 2013victoria-and-the-laptop-1019022-m

Another parenting tip for helping reduce negative peer pressure for school age children is to become aware of “virtual” peer pressure and intervene early. A few months ago when I prepared this material for a group of school age parents in Ceres, California, I became distraught about the potential negative consequences of technology.

Everyone Knows

“Children can reject and blackmail others, encourage hate groups and ostracize others instantly. In the past, only your child’s class knew if he was ostracized, today, with Facebook, everyone knows, everyone can see it and everyone reads it right now.” (1)

Collecting “Likes”

Just as financial numbers equal power for some adults, popularity numbers are powerful for various school age children. “Children collect friends and ‘likes’ to demonstrate their popularity and influence–which can be used to pressure peers with a few keystrokes.

A Bully’s Power

Behind a screen, a bully has power.” (1) Bullying has expanded way beyond the school walls. I can’t count the number of television programs and movies I’ve watched about cyber bullying. Children can view so many negative comments and hatred online that it is easy for them to believe that saying things like this is okay. It eventually normalizes “bad” behavior. (1) And this bad behavior gains attention.

Using Technology

So as parents, do we prohibit our children from using the Internet? Some parents do, but the benefits of correctly using technology far outweigh the negatives. Here are five simple ways parents can help protect their children online.

Ways to Protect Online

  •  Connect to your children’s accounts immediately. Control their passwords. Don’t be passive. If you begin monitoring when they’re young, they’ll get used to it.
  • Keep computers in the family living areas where people are around. This helps remind you and your children that you are monitoring their activity. Role model this open accountability standard by using your computer in the same way.
  • Teach your child to use the computer correctly. There are so many fun options for them, keep them busy with learning activities.
  • Periodically check the search bar and view the site history and cache. Teach them what is acceptable and unacceptable for your family. What are warning signs that they are heading towards “dangerous ground”? Here’s one potential warning sign: The cache is empty when you view it!
  • Install a family-friendly software program that helps monitor your Internet. There are many available, even free programs. Consider using a program that reports all activity via email, rather than one that simply blocks certain words.

Feedback

If you’ve used software programs for internet safety, please post your results: good, bad, or otherwise. This can be helpful for other parents.

Source:

1. Peer Pressure: Why it seems worse than ever and how to help kids resist it, Malia Jacobson, August 29, 2013, www.parentmap.com. Accessed 10/5/2013.