Parenting Begins with You!

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One of the most important characteristics of teaching children is to show respect for their views and to let them have some say in their choices that surround them.  Many parents take the word “discipline” to mean punishment.  Discipline doesn’t have to hurt.  As parents, if we can see the word discipline to mean teaching instead of punishment we can help teach our children to become better human beings.

Here are some tips to teach children to respect.

Love – Children need lots of love and approval.

Communicate  – Take time to listen and consider their point of view.

Set Clear Limits – Telling children in advance what is expected and what the rules are helps prevent conflicts before they happen.

Be Consistent – This is the key to effective consequences.  Don’t say you will do something unless you are prepared to carry it through.

Check Yourself – If you are angry or frustrated take a time out for yourself.  Take a deep breath, count to ten and calm down.  Once you are in a calm state of mind then address the situation.

Parenting is one of the best and most rewarding jobs in the world.  It is also a tough, 24-hours a day job.  The most important key to successful parenting is knowledge, knowing what your children need, knowing how to deal with them in different situations, and knowing how to take care of their needs.

Learning more about parenting and child development can make a world of difference.  To learn more check out Skills to Build a Secure Child workshop series.

~ TURNING STONEchoice

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

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

Teacher Appreciation

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“When you learn, teach. When you get, give.” ~ Maya Angelou

It’s time to thank the dedicated teachers for all their sacrifices and support for children throughout the year.  Teachers play a key role in student success and feeling valued lets teachers know their efforts are not going unnoticed.

“Ideal teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross, then having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create bridges of their own.” ~ Nikos Kazantzakis

power-of-choice

Share This with All the Schools, Please

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One of the BEST stories I have had the privilege to read this year. A touching story of a teacher and her passion for the lost hearts of children, written by Glennon Doyle Melton from MOMASTERY on Jan 30th. Be inspired, encouraged and pass it on! Sammy@TURNING STONE choice

A few weeks ago, I went into Chase’s class for tutoring.
I’d emailed Chase’s teacher one evening and said, “Chase keeps telling me that this stuff you’re sending home is math – but I’m not sure I believe him. Help, please.” She emailed right back and said, “No problem! I can tutor Chase after school anytime.” And I said, “No, not him. Me. He gets it. Help me.” And that’s how I ended up standing at a chalkboard in an empty fifth grade classroom staring at rows of shapes that Chase’s teacher kept referring to as “numbers.”
I stood a little shakily at the chalkboard while Chase’s teacher sat behind me, perched on her desk, using a soothing voice to try to help me understand the “new way we teach long division.” Luckily for me, I didn’t have to unlearn much because I never really understood the “old way we taught long division.” It took me a solid hour to complete one problem, but l could tell that Chase’s teacher liked me anyway. She used to work with NASA, so obviously we have a whole lot in common.
Afterwards, we sat for a few minutes and talked about teaching children and what a sacred trust and responsibility it is. We agreed that subjects like math and reading are the least important things that are learned in a classroom. We talked about shaping little hearts to become contributors to a larger community – and we discussed our mutual dream that those communities might be made up of individuals who are Kind and Brave above all.
And then she told me this.
Every Friday afternoon Chase’s teacher asks her students to take out a piece of paper and write down the names of four children with whom they’d like to sit the following week. The children know that these requests may or may not be honored. She also asks the students to nominate one student whom they believe has been an exceptional classroom citizen that week. All ballots are privately submitted to her.
And every single Friday afternoon, after the students go home, Chase’s teacher takes out those slips of paper, places them in front of her and studies them. She looks for patterns.
Who is not getting requested by anyone else?
Who doesn’t even know who to request?
Who never gets noticed enough to be nominated?
Who had a million friends last week and none this week?
You see, Chase’s teacher is not looking for a new seating chart or “exceptional citizens.” Chase’s teacher is looking for lonely children. She’s looking for children who are struggling to connect with other children. She’s identifying the little ones who are falling through the cracks of the class’s social life. She is discovering whose gifts are going unnoticed by their peers. And she’s pinning down- right away- who’s being bullied and who is doing the bullying.
As a teacher, parent, and lover of all children – I think that this is the most brilliant Love Ninja strategy I have ever encountered. It’s like taking an X-ray of a classroom to see beneath the surface of things and into the hearts of students. It is like mining for gold – the gold being those little ones who need a little help – who need adults to step in and TEACH them how to make friends, how to ask others to play, how to join a group, or how to share their gifts with others. And it’s a bully deterrent because every teacher knows that bullying usually happens outside of her eyeshot – and that often kids being bullied are too intimidated to share. But as she said – the truth comes out on those safe, private, little sheets of paper.
As Chase’s teacher explained this simple, ingenious idea – I stared at her with my mouth hanging open. “How long have you been using this system?” I said.
Ever since Columbine, she said. Every single Friday afternoon since Columbine.
Good Lord.
This brilliant woman watched Columbine knowing that ALL VIOLENCE BEGINS WITH DISCONNECTION. All outward violence begins as inner loneliness. She watched that tragedy KNOWING that children who aren’t being noticed will eventually resort to being noticed by any means necessary.
And so she decided to start fighting violence early and often, and with the world within her reach. What Chase’s teacher is doing when she sits in her empty classroom studying those lists written with shaky 11 year old hands – is SAVING LIVES. I am convinced of it. She is saving lives.
And what this mathematician has learned while using this system is something she really already knew: that everything – even love, even belonging – has a pattern to it. And she finds those patterns through those lists – she breaks the codes of disconnection. And then she gets lonely kids the help they need. It’s math to her. It’s MATH.
All is love- even math. Amazing.
Chase’s teacher retires this year – after decades of saving lives. What a way to spend a life: looking for patterns of love and loneliness. Stepping in, every single day- and altering the trajectory of our world.
TEACH ON, WARRIORS. You are the first responders, the front line, the disconnection detectives, and the best and ONLY hope we’ve got for a better world. What you do in those classrooms when no one is watching- it’s our best hope.
Teachers- you’ve got a million parents behind you whispering together: “We don’t care about the damn standardized tests. We only care that you teach our children to be Brave and Kind. And we thank you. We thank you for saving lives.”
Love – All of Us

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

Express Your “Self”

creativity

It takes a great deal of creativity when teaching and parenting children. Simple, adult logic just isn’t going to get the job done, and, if you’ve been in this game for any amount of time, you know what looks good on paper doesn’t always translate to the classroom or the dinner table. Out of sheer frustration, I created my alter ego, “Isabella,” a feisty, French, world traveler who flew in one day when Mommy had heard the word “Mommy” one too many times. Unlike Mommy, Isabella addressed the children in a French-ish accent and would even tell them if their actions were “stoopid”. I mean Mommy never wielded that word for fear of bruising their self-confidence. On the other hand, Isabella was free to call it as she saw fit and didn’t feel the need to jump to their rescue or fulfill their constant requests. She often told them, “Get it yourself” [insert French accent]. The crazy thing is the kids absolutely loved her and would ask when Isabella was coming for another visit. She would share her adventures in countries where Mommy has never been, the unique people she met, the food she enjoyed, and where she was going next (sneaky geography and cultural lessons.). She was fun! Unaffected by tantrums, she would actually leave if one occurred. This, in turn, would disappoint the children, and they would ask nicely if Isabella would come back. Now, before you freak out with an assumption of a multiple-personality disorder, relax. Who knew all of my earlier years of acting would pay off? I enjoyed Isabella and learned from her, too. Understanding my children proved to be more competent than I realized. They were willing to listen when having a conversation with Isabella—unlike constant directives from Mommy. Isabella hasn’t visited in a while, and the kids have gotten older, but I smile when I hear them say, “Remember when Isabella . . .. ” She allowed a greater freedom of choice for the kids than Mommy did. I guess, sometimes, we need to go outside of ourselves a bit to embrace our creativity, the spice of choice. When we embrace creativity with our students and children, who knows what intriguing persona might just fly in for a visit?
~Sammy @TURNING STONEchoice

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

Take off the Costume

Wonder Woman

Costumes and candy are bulking up the store aisles. It’s Halloween – when we embrace the fantasy of being a super hero, a princess or some gruesome extraterrestrial from Mars. It’s a blast to pretend for a moment that we can be something different or something more than we are. What teacher or parent wouldn’t want to acquire a few extra powers? (I hear the yeah! Girl!) Halloween is also a time when you can peek into a person’s personality. Dressing up in costumes can be simple fun. On the other hand, I believe the costume or mask someone chooses to wear reveals something unique about that person. There is a story to be told, if we are willing to listen with our eyes and then our ears. I know one kid in the neighborhood who has sported a policeman uniform for the past 8 years. His father happens to be a policeman, and, although, his parents have given him every opportunity to pick a different costume, this young man is sticking with the police department. I don’t think it is a far stretch to assume, he looks up to his father, and wants to be a policeman someday. The number 1 costume choice for 2012 was a witch. What that might reveal could be interesting. I remember wanting to be Wonder Woman back in the day. She was the trifecta, pretty, smart and strong. Come to think of it, I don’t think I have ever outgrown my Wonder Woman complex. I have tweaked it over the years, embracing my unique version of a wonder woman. Sorry, but I’m not feeling that costume. That could in no way be comfortable! I am curious about the costumes and masks we continue to hold onto over the course of time. What costumes are we wearing year long? How about the children we teach and the ones under our roof? Do they slip on a mask to cover up their feelings and thoughts to blend in with the crowd? How many of us continue to keep the mask on to keep others from knowing the real us? There is this pervasive feeling among so many, adults, teens and children, that if we were to be ourselves, then others would not like us. Fear of being disliked, shunned or rejected keeps the wonder woman costume glued to our bodies. What is the worst thing that would happen if the costume were to come off? Would some people dislike you? – Yep, people dislike you already. People dislike me. That is a hard, jagged pill to swallow. But, what matters most is accepting and liking yourself and that cannot be accomplished in fantasy land or year round Halloween. Enjoy an entertaining and fun time with family, friends and neighbors. Just be sure to remove the costume, pack it away till next year, and love on the real you.

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