Proven: Sibling Bullying Harmful

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I love it when new information validates my personal theories and the TURNING STONE process with research and evidence. This past May, I posted an article, Sibling Insult, addressing sibling aggression, sharing my frustration with sibling bickering and bullying. My logical point of view of why accepting bullying behavior between siblings is simple and perhaps naïve no longer – it’s unacceptable. The Courier-Post ran an article in their Thrive Section as did multiple other media venues after the journal Pediatrics study released findings, proving sibling bullying is a relevant issue and has lasting mental health ramifications. See below articles from nbcnews.com, Times of India and stay connected with TSC as we continue to share relevant topics for teachers and parents.
http://m.timesofindia.com/life-style/relationships/parenting/Bullying-by-siblings-as-harmful-as-by-peers/articleshow/20649461.cms
http://www.nbcnews.com/health/parents-dont-ignore-sibling-bullying-study-warns-6C10327300

For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

My Mouth is a Volcano – Suggested Reading & Review

my mouth is a volcano
A Mom’s Choice Award book by Julia Cook, My Mouth is a Volcano addresses the annoying habit of interrupting others through a child’s point of view with humor and imagery. Louis, a vibrant boy with very important words to share with the world has a lot to say and struggles with controlling his words. Will he be able to keep his volcano from bubbling over onto others with a zangy method mom shares or will he keep erupting? Playful illustrations to match Cook’s words deliver the message of how difficult it really can be to stop “erupting.” A simple, fun read with practical application for all, and an excellent resource to set the tone for classroom behavior in the beginning of the school year. Teachers, parents and child-care workers will reap the reward for reading this witty book coping with social skills, polite conversation, self-control and appropriate behavior. Appropriate for ages 4 and up.

For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

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Excellent Resource- Bystander Behavior

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Pete is the new kid learning, “The kids in his new school are way different than at his other school.” Everyone is talking about the “Promise” but will Pete join the group or continue to be odd man out. The Juice Box Bully is a realistic journey of a bully and the real power students have when standing up for each other. Bob Sornson and Maria Dismondy present this book for primary grades, encouraging empowering choices under stressful interactions and giving children concepts related to bystander behavior.
Recent studies are confirming, students are the real solution to abusive and bullying behavior in schools. They have the power to set the tone of what is acceptable in their social settings. Yet, they often lack the skill set to make empowering choices. The Juice Box Bully is an excellent resource for students and teachers to discuss real life situations and how to make appropriate choices.
For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

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Balancing Act – 3 Practical Tips that work

Balancing Act – 3 Practical Tips that work

Life is one crazy, unique, balancing act, leaving the average American: stressed, fatigued, sick, depressed, and overwhelmed. We often meet the criteria for a prescription drug advertisement, listing all the ailments above. The fact maybe; the scales of life are tilting a little too low for us to thrive. We can have a knowing-feeling something is wrong with the way we “do life”. Yet, we keep grinding through the same actions or inactions each and every day, hoping something will eventually change. We cannot wait for change to come our way. We must be the change we seek. Our choices in life can create the balance we so desperately need. The fine art of having balanced lives is such a popular topic, evident by the numerous self-help and “how to achieve balance” books lining the shelves of libraries and book stores. I admit to perusing those aisles, wanting to reduce the stressors of work and family, but the mere thought of reading a 500 page book on a balanced life made me nauseous, and meditating an hour, in a twisted position, with screaming children in the background seemed ridiculous. With some reflection, I realized, I do juggle several balls in the air at once, and, although, I am not perfect and drop balls left and right, I can honestly say, I am content with my current balancing act–challenged but not fried! Here are three, very practical tips, I use every single day to manage the madness:

1. EAT A GOOD BREAKFAST
If you refuse to eat breakfast, no matter the excuse, I guarantee you stress galore for the day. As a nation we sleep less, eat less of the good stuff and eat more junk, making us feel like slugs, all the while expecting our brains and bodies to engage at warp-speed. As a fitness trainer, I have heard of every excuse, using a few, myself. I always regret the donut, not out of guilt, but, because it always makes me feel like – a slug! Multiple studies reveal the benefits of eating a healthy breakfast. According to a USDA study, adults will have better concentration, productivity throughout the morning, and suffer from less illness. For children, the impact of breakfast is enormous! The American Dietetic Association claims, children will have: better concentration, be more alert, more creative, better problem solvers and have better social interactions. More schools are practicing first period breakfast class, because, the end result is a student body ready and energized to learn. Taking 10-15 minutes to prepare and eat breakfast is an efficient and achievable way to start the day with some zing!

2. SAY NO!

This one is harder to implement if you are a people pleaser, but the freedom to say, “No”, creates confidence and gives wiggle room in life. My default answer to everyone at one point in my life was, “Yes”. I hated to say – “No”- to anyone; friends, family, co-workers. Flattery had me hooked and guilt kept me locked in. I did not want to disappoint others. In fact, I would end up crashing, and disappointing everyone, including myself. By accepting everyone’s request, I was setting myself up for failure. I love, Alicia Keys’ song, “I am Superwoman”, blasting and singing loudly like a personal anthem but at times, we need to accept our humanness. Perhaps, one can accomplish, A through Z, in a 24 hour period, but at what cost is it being done, and just because it can be accomplished, does it mean it should? Swirl that around in your head for a moment. If you have never said “No”, try this. Thank you, (person) for thinking of me for (XYZ). At this time I am concentrating on (pick a ball you are juggling). Do not make excuses for why you are saying no, because, bottom line, whoever is asking probably does not need a running list of all of your life responsibilities, they have their own too. Say no with graceful, confidence and don’t add, maybe I can… When I personally hear “Maybe”, I am hanging on to the hope of, “Yes”. Let your “No” be “No.” Friends and family will respect the boundaries you are setting for yourself.

3. TALK OUT LOUD TO YOURSELF

Don’t judge! We are already rambling to ourselves, constantly, about what needs to be done or said. For example, you might be, mentally rehearsing an excuse why the extra project you volunteered for is late (Should have said, “No”-go back to tip #2). Giving an audible voice to our thoughts can clear the clutter, and even focus us on what is truly important. Focus brings about a calm, constructive feeling. Obviously, you need to use good judgment, as to where and when to try this exercise. I do not recommend doing so in front of your classroom while students are taking a test, could prove to be a bit distracting, among other things. A perfect time to try this little exercise is in the car. Now days, if you are driving legally and talking on a cell phone, it looks like you are carrying on a complete, engaging, conversation with yourself, anyway.

I know life is challenging and circumstance can demand every ounce of energy you have in your body. I can’t promise the cure to the unbalanced life styles we live. What works for one person might not work for another. The good news, there are choices available and the opportunities to make positive ones are plentiful. Good Luck or good-balance!
Please visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com for more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process.
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

Math Blame – Taking responsibility for learning

“All blame is a waste of time. No matter how much fault you find with another, and regardless of how much you blame him, it will not change you. The only thing blame does is to keep the focus off you when you are looking for external reasons to explain your unhappiness or frustration. You may succeed in making another feel guilty about something by blaming him, but you won’t succeed in changing whatever it is about you that, is making you unhappy.” – Wayne Dyer

I should have been required to recite and analyze Mr. Dyer’s quote many years ago in high school and college. I was a model student, involved in: student counsel, extra-curricular activates, and excelled academically. I even worked diligently to the point of attending two schools my Junior and Senior years. I would wake early, be at school by 7:30, take classes through lunch so I could finish up my academics, and then catch a bus to Arts High, finishing around 5:00 in the evening. I loved it, and I worked hard, but, in one area–Math.

I blamed my lackadaisical math skills on my teacher, Mr. Y. He was an older teacher without personality, and we immediately clashed upon meeting. There were days he would meet me in the hallway before class would start and say, “Not today”. Fine with me, I would casually make my way to the principal’s office, where I would get some work done and no one challenged me or called me on it. Like I said, I was a model student, continued to receive A’s and B’s in all my classes in both schools, but fail math. I knew this particular teacher had a reputation for “giving” bad grades to students. So, I felt completely entitled to my blame. It was his fault I was so frustrated and flailing.

I believe the blame game is a way of life for many students and people in general, pointing their fingers at others for their personal flaws, inadequacies, and circumstances. Why bother accepting responsibility for what effects you directly; hmmm—because– it effects you directly, and typically no one else. Other times, like in my case, we can be oblivious to our blaming behavior because we feel overwhelmingly, justified in our judgment. If blame is not acknowledged and dealt with quickly, then a hard to break habit can spread across every aspect of one’s life, avoiding responsibility altogether. We can become stunted and have a horrible feeling that others control our life. This of course is an illusion. We, and only ourselves, have the ability to make choices that control the outcome of our lives.

The truth was, I didn’t like math, and it didn’t come easy to me, so, I dismissed it completely. I was doing fine in everything else. If I was slacking in math, and had a perfect scapegoat to take the fall for my arithmetic agitations, so be it.

Even in later years, I would tell people of the horrible math teacher I had, and that was the reason I didn’t understand logic problems. Ironically, I struggled years before and years after Mr. Y’s classes. Were all those teachers to blame also for my frustration and poor grades? I just refused to accept any responsibility for my learning, and in hind-sight, I know I could have put forth some effort. I never went for extra help, even though teachers were always available. Other things, places and people were more important. And, I would at times blame myself – “I just can’t get it” or better said, quit on myself.

My high school was really small, and Mr. Y knew what I was capable of. I think he was in the right for kicking me out, because I had no intention of even trying to learn Algebra II, which I had to take twice. If I was wise, I should have put forth the effort the first year, so I would not have to endure the second year too. But, I was too busying quitting and blaming to understand simple algebraic concepts.

These days, I am inspired by the children running through my house asking their father for math problems. I married a man who majored in chemistry and, yes- math. The boys are excited to get “hard” problems, and work through those challenges. Knowing my personal struggle in this area, daddy makes sure I am in the game too.

Mr. Y, I owe you a huge apology for carrying the burden of my responsibility all these years. I’m not sure if you were a good teacher or not, but it was my responsibility to at least try and learn.

Is it time for you to apologize to someone for carrying your burdens? Be accountable to yourself and for yourself.

For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

Student Stress and One Whacked-Out Dream

Vibrant, multi-colored baby sheep rose up from the ground and surrounded me. They were perfect, adorable, little puff balls, leaping off a cliff. I was trying to stop them, but there were too many. One, slightly bigger, baby sheep approached me. He was a delicious, milk chocolate hue and his eyes were huge. He proceeded to talk fluent “Baa” to me, but I did not understand, then he smiled sweetly, and jumped off the cliff. That was my whacked out dream last night. I really didn’t need an interpreter to tell me, this was my subconscious dealing with today’s event. My oldest son is on his way to an amazing environmental science field trip that will be four days long. This would be his first time truly away from home. My anxiety decided to manifest in an unusual dreamscape, resembling a video game. I am a bit stressed, but I am not alone.
Stress is a way of life these days and According to a recent survey by the American Psychological Association (APA),” Many Americans — both adults and youth — experience high levels of stress.” As an adult, I am able to recognize my anxiety, give the proper attention and respond accordingly. Unfortunately, young individuals typically do not recognize stress and do not have the skill set to cope appropriately.
It is estimated that 10% of our teen population suffer from anxiety disorders due to stress. Guidance counselors and social workers are giving more health referrals for students who are dealing with stress and witnessing more hospitalization with anxiety and panic attacks. Stress is on the rise and crippling our children.
The causes of stress for children are extremely broad but one study in Baltimore identified the five top most experienced stressors for students: 1) school work, 2) parents, 3) romantic relationships, 4) friends, and 5) younger siblings. The same study found that boys and girls dealt with these stressors in significantly different ways and recommended separating the sexes for some stress management activities. The study also recommended that programs should teach students how to react in a healthy manner towards stress. The TURNING STONEchoice program implements techniques that will equip students with knowledge, allowing them to identify stress, or other obstacles in their lives, and how to work through these challenges in a positive way.
Schools across the country are taking action to de-stress the student body. Some schools are using service dogs to roam the halls in between classes; other schools are replacing traditional chairs with large exercise balls. Extended homeroom times are the norm in many school districts, allowing students to catch up on their work or meet with a teacher for extra help.
These ideas are needed and refreshing but one dimensional. Most of the programs being implemented are focused with relieving the symptoms of stress, not promoting students’ skills to recognize what stress is, or make self-empowering choices that reduce or eliminate stress to begin with. Relievers are necessary since we can never escape the realities of stress. Equally important, is a student’s understanding of his/her unique stress tolerance and their ability to make positive decisions that bolster their confidence, keeping stress in their dreams.
For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

The Truth Behind Bullying

Currently, there is an epidemic of hostile, violent, out of control behavior plaguing our schools, requiring our immediate action. Although attention and assistance must surely be given to victims, it is equally crucial to focus on the offenders, themselves. Simply put, no bully behavior, no victims.
Complicated and individualized histories exist behind bullies and the gamut of reasons for their behavior even more tumultuous. Long gone are stereotypical theories that promote a one-stop-bullying identification process. For instance, not all bullies were bullied by their parents.
There are some children who are more likely to bully others. According to a government study, “Some are well-connected to their peers, have social power, are overly concerned about their popularity, and like to dominate or be in charge of others. Others are more isolated from their peers and may be depressed or anxious, have low self esteem, be less involved in school, be easily pressured by peers, or not identify with the emotions or feelings of others.”1 With an identification that includes almost anyone and everyone at some point in time, a program that reaches students where they are emotionally at any given moment is essential.
Some school programs emphasis the typical rundown of what bullying is or is not, which on a surface level is important considering a few offending students might not otherwise become aware that their behavior actually falls within the realm of bullying. Yet, we need a solution holistic in its approach that includes an examination of interpersonal relationships and tackles the core issue- cognitive choice making. The truth is bullying is just a by- product of an immature and limited choice model; as are blame, self-pity, anger and other multiple obstacles that interfere with an individual’s effective self-empowering choices.
Turning Stonechoice is that holistic approach, a flexible program for developing students’ choice-making and critical-thinking skill sets. The program targets K-12 students and can be used as a stand-alone unit, a character-development lesson, or as enrichment material in content areas like reading, social studies or writing.
The program is comprised of four fundamental components: training, parent involvement, materials, and support. The combination of these components supports the TSC Process, which is core of our program, providing a vehicle for positive choice making in a non-competitive manner.

For more information on TURNING STONEchoice and its process, visit http://www.turningstonechoice.com
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice
1. http://www.stopbullying.gov