When Will It Stop?

Ferguson

We’ve seen the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge go viral over the last two weeks on social media; people happily dumping buckets of ice water over their heads to raise money for a worthy cause. During this same period of time, Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Missouri and protests have continued in that city and around the country. In the aftermath of the death of Michael Brown, may we engage thoughtfully and critically in examining the situation in Ferguson and stand together on the side of justice and equality?

We need to make empowering choices to actively plan how to take actions that will dismantle injustice when it happens in America. So here’s a #FergusonChallenge:

Share a story about how the events in Ferguson have resonated with you, and then donate to an organization that promotes underserved youth, racial justice, and/or police accountability.

Here a story that resonates with TURNING STONEchoice. It is one of the Letters to the Editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch titled When Ferguson Hits Home August 21, 2014

I never thought I would be living so close to conflict. If I jumped on the highway and zoomed down a few exits, I’d be visiting Ferguson. We are that close, yet we are so far away. Our entire city and country has become focused on what is, and even more alarming, what is not happening in a town within our town. Yet we attempt to put distance between our neighborhoods, just like we attempt to say what’s happening in the Middle East is happening “over there.” Well, folks, “over there” just came to our backyards, and it is madly screaming for our attention.

None of us know the whole story of the incident that led to this massive turmoil my neighbors are embracing without choice. I grieve with every single person involved in this story. There is not one person who is unaffected by this tragedy, including those of us who attempt to drown out the sirens because it’s happening “over there.” It’s “here,” people. The world is watching us, and most importantly our children are silently observing every step we take.

I wonder what would happen if we embraced all those who were hurting tonight, and realized that grieving is actually taking place on both sides of the police line. What if we all held ourselves accountable and allowed each other to take a deep breath when confusion, fear or anger sets in to release a potential breath of hope? I wonder if we’d find peace.

Jen McCurdy  •  St. Louis County

The choice is yours to empower your children and help guide them through purposeful and empowering choice making to help end intolerance and create a peaceful world.

As TURNING STONEchoice always teaches children and adults in our communities, and as the writer of this letter suggests, the first thing we must do is to take that “breath of hope”.

Michael Brown

ACLU of Missouri Foundation: http://www.aclu-mo.org/get-involved/
Amnesty International: http://www.amnestyusa.org/donate-to-amnesty
Ferguson Youth Initiative: http://fyifergyouth.org/
Ferguson Bail Fund: http://antistatestl.noblogs.org/…/bail-and-legal-fund…/
Or buy an “I Am Human” tee-shirt to support protestors on the ground: http://teespring.com/IAMHUMANDONTSHOOT

Posted in choices, Critical thinking, Current Events, Education, Empowering Choices, equality, Fear, Ferguson, injustice, Michael Brown, Parenting, Racism, Teaching | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How critical can you think? A blog for making choices and being in control of your own living.

TURNING STONEchoice:

Worth Re-posting! Please Read!

Originally posted on TURNING STONEchoice:

If individuals only think about themselves, are they being selfish? In our society today, the answer would most likely be yes, but is that really true?

Thinking about ourselves, for ourselves and by ourselves is what keeps people in control of their own living. No one else has the power to shape our actions besides ourselves.

An anonymous author once wrote, “The greatest knowledge we can give our children is knowledge about themselves. Such knowledge gives them the base for learning everything else important in their life.”  TURNING STONEchoice (TSC) holds this philosophy at the core of its program. Self-communication and interacting in (vs. reacting to) a situation is integral in solving everyday problems.

As part of the TSC program, educators and leaders are helping children identify their innermost feelings about realities they are facing.  The TSC program teaches children to make self-empowering choices resulting in inner fulfillment.

Making a…

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A Great School Year According to Kids

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Summer’s end gives way to back-to-school thoughts with traditional articles doling tips and advice to kick off the school year just right.  Usually– no, always these thoughts are derived from the experts, teachers and parents. No one ever asks those who ultimately should get to define that experience.  When asked, kids have their fair share of what would make for a great school year.  Enjoy the thoughts of students from pre-school to senior year of high school, when asked, “What would make for a great school year?”

“Reinstitute recess.  And, I mean, a real recess that the teachers don’t try to control.”  – Charlie, 8th grade

“Elementary school should have more science and experiments so kids can have fun learning.” – Joseph, 5th grade

“No NJASK! It doesn’t count as a grade & it builds too much attention for something that almost means nothing. Prepping for months long is not a learning experience. What did I learn?”  – Shawn, 8th grade

“For writing kids should be able to meet and interview authors to get tips on how to become better authors.” – Joseph, 5th grade

“I want a field trip to an amusement park with lots of roller coasters.  I want to know how they work.” – Caleb, 5th grade

“Some days, I want to be able to scream at the top of my lungs without getting into trouble.” – Nick, 2nd grade

“I would like to do more math and get rid of reading.”  – Justin, 2nd grade

“A great school year has lots of play dough!” – Jessie, Kindergarten

“We need video games, like math video games in every room and a half day of school with recess every day.” – Justin, 3rd grade

“I’m happy to get to go upstairs with the big kids and bubbles.  We should have bubbles.” –  Jasmine, Preschool

“To receive equal respect from teachers.  They are demanding respect from us but it seems like they don’t give it back to us.” – Avery, 12th grade

I wish we had basic life skills being taught to us.  Everything is so academic and I feel like that it really doesn’t prepare me for life.”  – Lily, 12th grade

Also, we learn so much about history that I feel disconnected to what is going on in the world today.  I wish we learned more about current events.” – Lily, 12th grade

I think there should be breaks throughout the day to hang out with friends, better lunches and no homework.  I would rather spend an extra half hour a day at school than do homework.  I just want to be done! “- Phillip, 8th grade

Elementary school should have a baseball team and clean bathrooms, a glass dome with a huge opening so I can sky jump from a private jet right into the building. And, reading, lots of reading, I wish we had more time to read.”  – Michael, 4th grade

My school year would be great with lots of outside time! Did you know my favorite letter is E, like egg, elephant. . . I think we will learn more about the letter E. “– Emily, Kindergarten

Great friends that are there, teachers that support, not adversary and a nice atmosphere. “– Riley, 9th grade

It’s difficult to learn subject matter that is not enjoyable but important.  Wish teachers could make it fun. And, students stop being mean to others that have different interests.  I see kids being mean or just ignoring others because they do not have shared interests.  Wish that could end.” – John, 9th grade

Down with the yellow buses.  They smell disgusting!” – Charlie, 8th grade

The pressure to be more ahead of where you are is insane.  I wish there was an acceptance from adults that not everyone needs to be so advanced.  We should be motivated by our learning experience not always trying to get ahead.” – John, 9th grade

“Having a choice in what we learn would be nice.  We are always told what we should learn but no one asks what we want to learn.” – Riley, 9th grade

Students were incredibly eager to voice their feelings about their education.  Between the bubbles and smelly yellow buses were some profound messages.   I hope as teachers and parents we are listening and willing to have a great school year.

Good luck with the upcoming school year and enjoy the last days of summer.

For more information on the TURNING STONEchoice process please visit www.turningstonechoice.com.

Sammy@TURNING STONEchoice

 

 

 

 

Posted in Back to School, Parent, Teachers, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Gone Too Soon!

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Ending a life is incredibly, incredibly tragic. It represents a lost battle with mental illness. Where it is different is that suicide is a choice. Suicide is a terrible decision made by someone whose pain is so great that they can no longer hold it, and feel they have no other option in life but to end it. They forget all the wonderful things in their lives because they are so consumed by the depression and by the feelings of not being worthy. It’s a decision you can’t take back, and a decision that will affect your friends and family forever. It is not taken lightly.

Losing a person to suicide may feel like a waste. For someone looking in, it does seem like a waste—especially in the case of Williams, who was a brilliantly funny man and a talented actor. People who are severely depressed can’t see past their failures, even if they’ve been successful. Life, however, is never wasted. Williams did things in his life that touched people to their core.

About 90% of people who commit suicide have some kind of mental illness that goes untreated or undertreated.

The national suicide prevention lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255 or http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Depression and Suicide Resources

American Foundation for Suicide

About Teen Depression

Depression Fact Sheet

Youth Depression

Talking with Kids About the News

~ TURNING STONEchoice

Posted in Children, choices, Communication, Current Events, Education, mental illness, Parent, Parenting, Robin Williams, suicide | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Recess Queen

recess_queenThis book is a favorite! Powerful insights into playground bullying, school violence, and poor self-esteem.  This book offers wonderful life lessons while weaving through character development traits like responsibility, integrity, courage and leadership.  The Recess Queen is a great teaching tool for guidance counselors, teachers or parents.  This book is a sure hit!

~ TURNING STONEchoice

Posted in Book Review, Books, bullying, Children, Parent, Teachers, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Signs of Positive Self-Esteem

As we work to understand ourselves and our children, we should strive to make choices that help us achieve long term success and self-fulfillment. When we have positive self-esteem, we can better understand:

  • The reality of our personal abilities and limitations.
  • The importance of understanding that we do not live within a vacuum and must interact rather than react to others.
  • The knowledge of when we are being influenced emotionally by past events which may cloud our judgment in a new situation.
  • The reality that ultimately we only have control of ourselves and no one else, not even our children.

Ultimately, when you have positive self-esteem, you understand the reality of your choice making and are able to maintain an attitude that with careful consideration will allow you to supplement and compliment your efforts and overcome challenges.

MIL_277x277_0006_middle_school~TURNING STONEchoice

 

Posted in Children, choices, Education, Educators, Empowering Choices, Making Choices, Parent, Parenting, Positive self-esteem, Teachers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

CHILDREN NEED HELP UNDERSTANDING THEIR EMOTIONS

What do you do to help children develop the ability to understand their emotions and others around them? It’s never too late to use your emotions in a positive way. Here are tips to help children develop emotionally:

1. Accept children’s emotions – “Are you OK…you look upset?” “Did something happen?” ” Are you angry? Let’s talk about it.”

2. Identify their emotions – “You look sad.” “That must have hurt your feelings.” “You sound upset.”

3. Encourage children to talk about what they are feeling – “Do you want to talk about what’s bothering you?” “How are you feeling?”

4. Help children identify how others may be feeling – “How do you think that made your friends feel?” “How would you feel if you were in your friend’s shoes?” “Everyone makes mistakes.”

5. Teach children how to calm down – “Take deep breaths.” “Count to ten.” “Remove yourself from the situation so you can cool off and think in a positive manner.”

6. Help children maintain self control – “I was impressed when you used your words to tel, how you were feeling.” “You handled yourself really well even though you were frustrated.”
Troubled_teen

Posted in Children, Communication, Education, Educators, emotions, Health, Parent, Parenting | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

How to Handle Child Attitude

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The awe and flash of Fourth of July fireworks, replete with cannonade, have drifted into silence, but the significance of independence never fades.

In the classroom, we seek to mold independent, critical minds for solving tomorrow’s challenges, and, in the home, we strive to raise confident and self-reliant children.  However, both teacher and parent would relish freedom from the universal, adolescent phenomenon known as “attitude.”

“Attitude,“ as used in this post, is the negative one we experience when a child chooses to express his or her feelings in an inappropriate way.  You know:  rolling the eyes, stomping the feet, invoking a tone of doom, sometimes even throwing a tantrum unrivaled by the most petulant toddler.

Attitude is defined as the way a person views something or tends to behave toward it, often in an evaluative way.  A good attitude makes a student “a pleasure to have in class,” whereas a toxic attitude often serves as the impetus for firing an employee.

Attitude can also be a fuzzy line of self-expression or disrespect.  It’s difficult to pinpoint and even more difficult to address.  Is this child just venting or is he or she being disrespectful to me?  Some of the attitude thrown our way requires looking more insightfully at possible causes and solutions.

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  I notice a rise in attitude and complaining at home.  Quick to point fingers and snap about complaining spirits, I, in turn, complain to others about my children’s attitudes.  Huh?  The irony and hypocrisy in that is ridiculous.  If my spirit is irritated and not kind or considerate, perhaps I’m setting the tone.  Additionally, barking directives at my children is such an easy default in my interactions with them.  Solution:  I need to check myself. Being mindful of what is coming out of my mouth and the way it is coming out is brutally challenging, but the solution is to adjust my own attitude.

A fellow parent believes a sibling’s or classmate’s attitude is more influential than that of a parent.  It’s the equivalent of silently saying, “This is acceptable behavior that you have permission to model.”  For example, if a child is allowed to snap and whine with rewarding results, there will be plenty of witnesses who will follow the same lead.  Solution:  Bring attention to the behavior without engaging in a battle.  That takes a moment of self-control on our part, not to react but to pause then interact.  A teacher can simply let a student know, “I do not appreciate the way you are speaking to me,” and move on to the next item of the day.  Totally ignoring a bad attitude is like throwing gasoline on a flame.  It has the potential to get bigger, blow-up, and spread to others.

Unmet expectations!   This one is huge and is the bottom line of most attitude problems.  When a request gets denied, there, typically, is a response.  It could be a repeating of the same request.  [I must have not heard the request right the first time and my “no” really must have meant something else.]  Or the silent treatment, sulking, body flopping, a resounding, “COME-ON!”, and “Pleeeeease,” could all be possible follow-ups to a denial.

I realize those are all forms of coping with disappointment and expressing feelings, but there is no benefit to a child who gets his or her way when using any of these techniques.  She or he will be the one getting fired in the future for trying to use the same techniques with his or her employer. Solution:  Never “change your mind” when a student or your child engages in a poor attitude.  If we cave [I know, I have], then we have just trained this child to respond accordingly to get his/her way.

Attitude adjustments do take time, effort, and a dash of humor.  Stay consistent, stay strong, and keep in mind the wise words of Captain Jack Sparrow when addressing attitudes in the home or at school, “The problem is not the problem.  The problem is your attitude toward the problem.  Understand?”

For more information about TURNING STONEchoice please visit www.turningstonechoice.com.

 

Have a happy & healthy summer.

Sammy @TSC

 

Posted in Attitude, Children, Parent, Teachers | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Interview with Author Traci Dunham – The Oyster’s Secret

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Below the waves and into the deep sea, Mr. Oyster is quietly, but confidently being himself.  Author, Traci Dunham debuts her first children’s book, The Oyster’s Secret with vibrant and engaging illustrations and a clever stroke of curiosity.  TURNING STONEchoice had an opportunity to talk with the author and listen to her insights on this soon to be children’s classic.

What inspired you to write this book?

Inspiration hit me last summer while sitting down by the water in my hometown of Wildwood Crest. I  wrote the book on the beach that day on the back of a crossword puzzle.

What was your goal in writing The Oyster’s Secret?

I wanted to let children know that their self-worth comes from what is on the inside.  It doesn’t matter what you look like or what you do.  Beauty comes from the inside out.  Raising a daughter that is handicapped has shown me that every person has value and a purpose. I love books that have a message and too many children’s books today do not.  With so many children being bullied, I want every child to know that even though they are different it is ok.  I am hoping this book teaches children at a young age to accept those with special needs.  I don’t think that there are many books out there that reach the younger age groups about children with special needs and I wanted to do that.  I’ve experienced firsthand the lack of education young children receive in regards to this topic.

Do you have any other works in progress?

Yes – My Sister Lu Lu and Me, a story of two sisters, one who is handicapped.  It is written from the point of view of the sister who is not handicapped. She talks about their differences and let’s everyone know that even though her sister is different it is ok.

The Oyster’s Secret is a delightful story, geared toward the juvenile reader with an incredible message of acceptance, self-confidence, and inner beauty. To enjoy your own copy please visit The Oyster’s Secret.

For more information about TURNING STONEchoice and our process please visit www.turningstonechoice.com.

Sammy@TSC

 

 

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Arguing With Your Child

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“Boy, get out of that tree!” I hollered at Nicky.  “I’m not in a tree, Mama,” he hollered back.  Hmmm?  Are you looking at the picture above?  Is Nicky in a tree, or have I completely lost my vision?  And, yes, because I had been baited into arguing with my child, I took a picture to have solid evidence of his presence in that Japanese maple, just to prove that he was wrong, and I was right.  FYI:  Physical evidence still proved ineffective in dissuading him from his position.

I wish I could claim this as an isolated incident, but I argue on a consistent basis with my boys over ridiculous issues, like basic reality:  Is he in the tree or is he not?  Timeframes:  theirs or mine.  Words I never said (or did I?):  “Mom said we could have cookies for breakfast.” 

I know, in my heart of hearts, I never even mentioned cookies, much less eating them for breakfast.

My sanity is often on trial here, and, in an attempt to defend it, I go there and engage in a verbal tennis match with my seven-year-old.  Not wise!  The truth is, it drains my mental and emotional reserves and benefits no one.  His reasons for arguing with me are generally rooted in a need for my attention or understanding.

My husband claims our children know they can get away with it with me.  I think he is right, but my big fail is that I entertain and engage where I have no business.  I mean, which one of us is the adult?

I often tell my older son when he is locked into sibling bickering with his younger brother, “Do not engage with a seven-year-old.”  Looks like I need to take my own advice!

How do you handle arguments in your classroom or home?  Please share your comments in the box below.

For more information about TURNING STONEchoice please visit www.turningstonechoice.com.

Sammy@TSC

 

Posted in Children, Parent | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments