May 27, 2011

Child Protective Behaviours

Protective behaviours can make a real difference in helping to keep your child safe, especially in combination with a positive parent-child relationship, good communication and appropriate supervision.

How does child abuse happen?

Child abuse happens when a person uses their power or authority to take advantage of a child’s trust, and involve them in an activity that is harmful to them. This may be physical or emotional harm, or it may involve sexual activity. Irrespective of the type of harm, it is important that children are protected. You can help protect your child by teaching them protective behaviours, or in other words, how to keep safe.

When should I start talking to my child about protective behaviours?

From a young age children inevitable spend increasing periods of time outside the direct supervision of their parents – for example, at child care, at school, with extended family, friends and neighbours. As soon as children can name their body parts and begin to understand and name feelings, parents can introduce the idea of protective behaviours.
At 3 years of age children are able to say NO and tell a parent if something has happened which has made them feel scared or uncomfortable. As children grow older more information can be given to them to help them keep safe. This is a process that can continue right through adolescence.
Protective behaviours are ideas that parents and carers need to talk about with children over time, gradually adding more detail and discussion of this topic as children grow older.

How do I talk to my child about protective behaviours?

You may wish to introduce the subject by reading an appropriate picture and story with them, even at pre-school or primary school age.
Day to day situations with your child also provide many opportunities for teaching new skills, such as when there is something relevant on TV or in a story, or during bath time or dressing.
Discussing road and water safety can be a good starting point to talk about other types of safety, such as personal safety.
There are also many general conversations in which to do this, such as when talking about body parts or sexuality issues, other adults in a supervisory role, or any problem involving new experiences or a degree of risk – for example bullying, teasing, situations that provoke anxiety or fear, or staying over at a friend’s house.

What does my child need to keep safe?

1. Children need to know what it means to feel safe
Talk to your child about what it means to feel safe. What does your child think of when they say the word “safe”. Ask your child what sorts of situations do they feel safe in and what sorts of situations they might feel scared in. Think back to your own childhood and give age appropriate examples to your child about situations you felt safe or unsafe.
2. Children need to be able to name and trust their feelings
Help your child to name their feelings, e.g. when they feel happy, sad, angry. When your child has a feeling encourage them to describe what is happening to their body at that time. Discuss with your child what is happening to their five senses when they feel safe i.e. their sense of touch, smell, sight, taste, sound. Ask them to tell you how their body feels when they are frightened, e.g. they might feel funny in the tummy, their knees might shake, they might get a headache or start to perspire, or they might feel like running away.
You can help your child to identify situations in which it is fun to feel a little scared (such as during a scary movie), or when feeling scared is uncomfortable (such as when somebody hurts or teases them), and situations where they feel safe and comfortable (such as when they are signing songs or watching a funny TV show). This process helps children to identify their feelings.
3. Children need to know that it is OK to express their feelings
It is important that children are encouraged to express their feelings, even those feelings which may make others feel uncomfortable. A child who is always told to “shut-up and stop crying” learns that their feelings do not matter. A child who has the confidence and opportunity to express their feelings is in a much better position to keep themselves safe.
You can help your child to express their feelings by listening to them, accepting and understanding their feelings, and by being someone who shares their own feelings.
Encourage them to say NO when situations make them feel uncomfortable or unsafe. It may not always be possible for a child to say No because of fear or threat of violence. When teaching children to say no, let them know that they must seek help later by telling a responsible adult.
4. Teach children about their bodies
Talk to children about the names of their body parts, including private parts. Tell them the proper names as well as the more commonly used terms. Bath time is a good opportunity to do this, and to explain that their bodies are their own and nobody should touch them in a way that makes them feel confused or uncomfortable. Let children know that it is not OK for others to touch their private parts, unless someone is helping them with toileting or at the doctors.
5. Good touches / bad touches
Introduce ideas about good and bad touches by talking about how nice a hug or kiss can be. Explain that people often show they care about or love someone by touching them.
Children often touch pets to show them how they feel. Talking about pets can be useful example to use to talk about the likes and dislikes a pet might have when they are touched in different ways.
You can also ask your child about the kinds of touches they like and dislike , e.g. being tickled. When talking to young children about tickling, help them to understand that something might be fun at first, but they are right to say NO when it is not fun for them anymore.
6. Sometimes adults do things that are not OK..
Explain to children that sometimes even people who are good do things that are not OK.
7. Talk to children about good secrets and bad secrets
People who abuse children often depend upon the child to keep secrets. It is important to teach children to say No to this request.
In some families, children are taught to keep surprises but not to keep secrets. A surprise is information that will eventually be shared, such as a present or party.
Another idea is to teach children the difference between good and bad secrets. Children should always tell a trusted adult if anyone asks them to keep a secret about things that make them feel embarrassed, or uncomfortable.
8. Talk to children about “tricks”
Explain that sometimes people may try to trick children into doing things they don’t like, by offering presents, money, or sweets. Teach your child to say they need to ask mum or dad first, and then leave to get help. Your child should be encouraged to tell you if someone tries to trick them.
9. Encourage your child to tell someone they trust if they don’t feel safe
Assure them that there is nothing they can’t talk about it with someone they trust, no matter how awful it seems. While parents hope that their child will talk to them if something happens, they may not always be available to help straight away. Help your child to develop a network of trusted adults whom they can talk to if they are feeling unsafe or worried by a problem. Make sure these adults are aware of their role.
Explain to your child that sometimes the adult they tell may not understand or may say “Don’t be silly”. Reassure them that they should keep on telling until someone does believe them and does something to help.
10. Practice how your child might respond
You and your child can practice what to do in possible risky situations, e.g. if they were locked out of home; if mum or dad were late picking them up from school; if somebody at school started to bully them; if someone approached them in the park. Make sure that your child includes a response which involves telling an adult.
11. What about overnight visits?
Be sensible about knowing who is looking after your child. Meet their friend’s parents and other adults who may be in the home. Encourage children to talk about how their time was after they’ve been away from your care. Try to make sure that your child is always supervised well, as this helps to prevent unsafe situations.
  • Teach your child to memorise their name, address and phone number
  • Teach your child about dialling 000 in emergency situations. Provide them with a phone card or coins and teach them how to use a public and private telephone
  • Encourage respect for privacy with your child’s bodies and their bedrooms.
  • Find out if there is a Protective Behaviours Program at your child’s school. Be ready to answer any questions!
  • Help your child to feel good about themselves – this makes them much less vulnerable
Useful Number:
Enough is Enough Anti Violence Counselling Services: 02 9542 4029
Parent Line: 1300 1300 52
Department of Community Services: 13 21 11
Police: 000

Enough is Enough thanks for this article Parent Line Australia.

May 25, 2011

Finding Inspiration

Without inspiration, musicians struggle to compose, writers are blocked, painters languish before an empty canvas, & actors betray their characters. Feeling inspired rivets your attention, warms your heart, and draws you in. It creates the urge to do your best so that you can reach your own higher ground. It’s a form of positivity  that pulls us out of our shell of self-absorption.
The word inspiration suggests that something has been ‘taken inside’ the individual. Philosopher Ignacio Gotz called it “one of the most mysterious moments in anyone’s life, the instant when things ‘click’ and fall neatly in place, or a new idea flashes in the dark.” He explained it as follows: The mysterious instant goes by many names: inspiration, enlightenment, illumination, intuition, insight, vision, revelation, and discovery... Religious mystics speak of ecstasy and satori; poets, painters, musicians, dancers, and historians invoke their Muses; while scientists and mathematicians, parsimonious and prosaic, claim only hunches and intuitions.
Individuals find inspiration in many ways. For example, when psychologist Robert Ornstein tried to research this topic, he found that there were nearly as many sources of inspiration as people in his study. Australian health researchers Debbie Kralik and Kerry Telford asked individuals who were suffering from various chronic illnesses where they turned for inspiration. The responses were diverse, encompassing religion and loving relationships as well as the sound of birds in the morning, friends, and one’s own endurance. In addition, a number of people cited an inspiring role model who had shown great courage in similar or even worse circumstances.
All sources of inspiration can be captured in two basic strategies: inside out or outside in.
Kids Drawings as Photographic Inspiration:
Korean Photographer Yeondoo Jung uses children's artwork as inspiration for his photos. His exhibit Wonderland has shown in Beijing China, Barcelona Spain and New York.
You can try an inside –out approach to discover inspiration from within, or you can adopt an outside-in technique to draw inspiration from the external world.
If you seek inspiration from within, you can begin by using a simple but powerful technique recommended by many self-help gurus, including the late Dale Carnegie. Challenge yourself with empowering questions. For example, you might try the following: ‘I work hard. I have skills and talent. Why can’t I be just as successful as my co-worker?”
If you are interested in finding inspiration from the external world, read widely, make contact with nature, visit new places, or watch inspirational films. Researchers have found that music can be a powerful source of inspiration. You can select songs to fit your particular needs.
If you are facing a difficult challenge, try to reframe it as a growth opportunity, or part of a larger life lesson. Committing oneself to some form or action can unleash previously dormant, powerful inner forces. You may benefit from a combination of approaches. Many of those who have persevered, despite years of pain and adversity, have been able to combine a will to act with the belief that they are pursuing a higher calling.
Try IT!!
Perhaps you have tried some of the above suggestions but still feel mired in the hopeless grind of an uninspired life. The following guidelines are adapted from psyhchologist John Suler’s Internet posting.
For a period of at least four hours, leave your home and go out somewhere. Don’t plan ahead. Just follow your instincts and go where your intuition leads you. Do this alone. If you encounter a friend or acquaintance, limit your time with them to just a few minutes.

As you move about, reflect on one or more big questions that you would like to answer such as “Who am I?”, “What is important for me?” and “What do I want from life?”

Try to balance thinking and reflecting with moments of unfocused drifting.
Frequently remind yourself that you are on a quest, a search mission. Expect to find something and trust that insights will occur. Stay open to any sign or symbol that might provide you with inspiration. It could be something that happens to you or something you see or hear. Bring a notebook and a pen. Every half hour or so, sit down and write. Note your reactions, including your thoughts, your feelings, and your insights. If you’re feeling anxious, frustrated, or bored, ask yourself why and write about this aspect of your experience. If nothing important has happened, you should reflect and write about this as well.

For some, the call to mastery will reflect a universal tune such as the impulse to be a good parent, teacher, artist, plumber, farmer, or business owner. For others, it may consist of a more personal “mission in life”. In addressing your particular needs, you must look deep within, far ahead, and everywhere around. Only you can evaluate your success in life.


May 16, 2011

Building Hopeful Resiliency – Trust Lessons

According to The Oxford English Dictionary, resiliency consists of the following: a tendency to rebound, an ability to return to a natural physical state, and the power of recovery. Hopeful resiliency involves a capacity for sustaining hope in times of stress and uncertainty. An individual who is resilient has the ability to bounce back from a crisis as well as a tendency to maintain emotional equilibrium in the midst of chaos.

There are many types of survival. Physical survival has been a preoccupation for most of human history. However, in this age of anxiety, you may be finding yourself far more focused on emotional survival. If you are older, have struggled with substance abuse, or have battled a mental illness, you may be most concerned with sustaining a sound mind. Perhaps you are especially worried about maintaining a particular lifestyle (social or economic survival). Understanding your particular needs is crucial.

Beyond individual needs and styles, there are significant coping differences that result from cultural factors. In the West, there is a greater focus on direct problem solving, or primary control processes. In the East, there is a preference for secondary control processes, which involve making subtle changes in behaviour to indirectly impact the outcome of events. For many individuals, spiritual beliefs play a major role in daily confrontations with stressful events.

One of the important parts of hopeful resilience is a survival –based trust. Individuals who believe others can and will help them are more likely to solicit and receive comfort and support. By survival-based trust, we mean a particular form of trust – a belief in the willingness and capacity of others to provide help during stressful times.

The first five or six years of life can be critical for the development of survival-based trust. Maybe you felt abandoned or betrayed as a child and now find it difficult to trust others. Can you really go back and shore up your resiliency?

If your resiliency is being hampered by trust issues, keep the following five Rs in mind:
  • Respect
  • Research
  • Risk
  • Receptiveness
  • Repetition
First, respect your individuality. Some people are genetically predisposed to be more outgoing and assertive than others. Extroverts may do better with a larger network of relationships that are moderate in emotional intensity. Introverts can make up for their typically smaller circle of friends by cultivating more intense bonds.

You will not look for something unless you believe in its existence. Those who have frequently been let down by others may cease to believe that there is still goodness in the world. If you have had disappointing relationships, do a little social experiment. Consider it your job to research and find examples of what writer Anne Herbert called “random kindness and senseless acts of beauty.” Watch a “feel-good” movie or read a heart warming tale from a compilation such as the Chicken Soup for the Soul books. Another great collection of inspiring personalities can be found in Hope Dies Last by Studs Terkel. If you are religiously or spiritually inclined, consider doing some research on the lives of saints, prophets, or humanists.

Some risk might be necessary to lead a hopeful life. The philosopher Gabriel Marcel wrote that “openness allows hope to spread”. How do you achieve an effective degree of openness? Think of your task in terms of boundary making. The invisible yet palpable emotional barriers that exist between individuals are often referred to as boundaries. Your goals in this area should revolve around the concepts of symmetry and degree of relatedness. To ensure symmetry, match your level of disclosure and commitment to others’ capacities for sharing and intimacy. Meet them halfway, in other words. If you go less than halfway, the person who is more open might experience you as distant. However, if you go more than halfway, the person, who is more reticent, might view you as intrusive.

You must also consider the nature of your relationship with the other person. Are you trying to connect with a friend, a lover, a parent, or a child? Recall the advice of Confucious, who proposed guidelines for maintaining different kinds of relationships. Also consider the wisdom offered in Tolstoy’s War and Peace, when Andrei tells his friend Pierre, “You can’t everywhere and at all times say everything that is on your mind.”

It is important to repeat the research and risk steps. Don’t give up if you are disappointed at the outset. Keep on trying, and you will discover that there are kind and generous individuals in the world who are willing to listen and even provide direct assistance. There are sources of goodness in the world, and the more you look, the more you will find.

Regaining trust takes time. We speak of building and earning trust for a reason: It doesn’t happen overnight. You need patience and perseverance to build hope.

"Never fear shadows. They simply mean there’s a light shining somewhere nearby." – Ruth E. Renkel

A Cry From The Heart: Violent Video Games For Kids

Why are we so complacent and naive when it comes to kids’ exposure to violent media, specifically violent video games?

Why do adults give children violent video games or titillate them with war movies and war stories but baulk at exposing them to sexual pornography or mind-altering drugs and alcohol? The assault on their childhood is exactly the same.

Pilots use flight simulators to learn to fly. Motorists use driving simulators to learn to drive. This kind of visual imagery is a very powerful learning medium. Some children are “print aversive” and thus even more receptive to visual imagery than others.
Prof. Dave Grossman of West Point Military Academy uses the same violent video games that our kids play with; to teach army recruits and policemen to overcome their natural reluctance to kill another human being.
Prof. Grossman calls violent video games; “killing simulators” because they’re such an effective medium to teach someone the will and the skill to kill” They are very effective in turning human beings into compliant automatons.
Prof. Grossman is so alarmed by the indiscriminate use of these killing simulators by kids that he has written a book, entitled: “Stop teaching our kids the will and the skill to kill”.

“So, what’s the solution?”
The solution is to arm the kids with knowledge.

We highly recommend to read:
5 Building Blocks of Active Parenting

Children learn best through play and imitation. So why do we choose violent play and violent imitation for our kids? The video industry , like the tobacco industry, is very aware of the toxicity and addictive nature of its product. Like the tobacco industry; it employs expert knowledge of our brain chemistry to optimise their sales (i.o. to enslave and secure sales) – callously disregarding the wellbeing of kids.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child covers kids from birth to 18 yrs. Adolescents have recently been highlighted as the group most vulnerable to exploitation.
Awaken the kids to their exploitation by the video industry. Lift them up to a higher sense of self. They are worth more than lucrative indicators on the video industry share price index.
They have a higher value than meat for the market –i.e. the multi-million dollar video industry market.

Why do adults dump down on kids in this manner and add insult to injury with flaccid claims such as; “It’s good for you”- “for your hand-eye-coordination, for social interaction skills, for release of your pent-up aggression, for problem –solving, et. It doesn’t take much to see that these are the media industry’s flaccid pitch. But why are these claims so eagerly embraced by parents? It is because they are a very welcome conscience balm?

Even kids are smart enough to know that these skills can be learnt through many, many other forms of play, other than through a killing simulator. For, it doesn’t take much to discover the many non-violent games available that teach them all the above –named skills. These non-violent video games are just as much fun, just as challenging and offer the same degree of escapism as the violent ones.

The present generation of kids are the first wave of scapegoats of the video industry. The first wave of stupefied goats shepherded to the market – the unconscionable billion dollar video industry market.

The next generation of kids may have the necessary safeguards in place to protect them against the assault on their childhood by the unconscionable video industry moguls – but what about this generation?

It seems that for this generation; the stronger-minded, more awakened amongst them; must take up the call on behalf of the weaker-minded kids. To vote with their choice at the video store. If you have an awakened adult, protecting you, then you are indeed fortunate.
As the man said: “All kids are our kids”. That sentiment is easy to apply in an ideal society. Yet others are feeble-minded and smile and avert their faces as their kids slip into darkness. The kids eventually becoming as callous as their manipulators – prematurely desensitised and robbed of their inherent childhood radiance by hypnotic play-imitation of soldiers engaged in violent warfare.

As Marianne Williamson states in her book “Return to Love” “We are all meant to shine, as children do”.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” “It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us”.
Shireen Tripp, Cronulla, NSW, Australia


May 2, 2011

Building Resilience - Find Your Islands of Competence

Just as the manner in which we understand and respond to setbacks in an integral part of a resilient mindset so too, is the way we react to successes in our lives. Think about how you understand your achievements. 
Those who are resilient view their accomplishments as based upon their own resources and strengths. This doesn’t mean they fail to acknowledge the support of others. Rather, they don’t dismiss or minimize what they have achieved. 
In contrast, people who are not resilient tend to attribute their success to factors outside their control such as luck or chance or fate. Consequently, they are not as confident or optimistic about being successful in the future. There is another feature of resilient people we wish to highlight. While they do not deny their vulnerabilities, they are able to identify their strengths or what we call their “islands of competence”

What would you list as your islands of competence?

How to find your "real" islands of competence? The power to discover it lies in the potential that was bequeathed you at birth. Latent and undeveloped, the seeds of greatness were planted. You were given magnificent “birth-gifts”-talents, capacities, privileges, intelligences, opportunities-that would remain largely unopened except through your own decision and effort. Open these gifts. Learn with Stephen Covey host to open  your islands of competence,  your voice, your calling, your soul’s code. 

"People are internally motivated by their own four needs: to live, to love, to learn, to leave a legacy. When they overlap, you have voice-your calling, your soul’s code." - Stephen R. Covey. Key Message.

Q: How do you define “voice”?

A: Voice is the overlapping of the four parts of our nature: our body, our mind, our heart, and our spirit. These also represent the four intelligences: our IQ for the mind, our EQ for the heart, our SQ for the spirit, and our PQ for the body.

To help you find this, answer these 4 questions.

1. What are you good at? That’s your mind.

2. What do you love doing? That’s your heart.

3. What need can you serve? That’s the body.

4. And finally, what is life asking of you? What gives your life meaning and purpose? What do you feel like you should be doing? In short, what is your conscience directing you to do? That is your spirit.

Q: Is finding your voice an evolving process, or can it happen all at once like a light bulb going on in your head?

A: I think that it can happen all at once, but more so, I think it is an evolving process. As people grow up, they are exposed to different fields of knowledge and different experiences. They don’t yet know what they’re good at or even what they will like doing. Once they have this exposure and education and they start getting involved, they start to find satisfaction, and that leads to success as it begins to give them a sense of their voice or what they really love doing that they do well. For some people, it does comes like a flash of light, but it is usually preceded by someone who really deeply believes in them-sees their strengths and affirms them when they don’t see their own potential themselves. This creates an opportunity for that voice to be developed and expressed. This happened with me.

Q: Is the process of finding your voice the same for an individual as it is for an organization that is trying to find its voice?

A: That’s a very interesting question and I think in a very real sense, it is the same. But because an organization is made up of many different individuals who have different voices and a different sense of what gives them meaning and their life purpose, it takes communication processes where people are genuine and authentic with each other in expressing what they really care about. However, people gradually get a sense of what the organization stands for, what it loves doing and does well, and what it feels like it should be doing. So, there is kind of a collective form of the four intelligences that overlaps and develops in an evolutionary way.

Q: How can we help someone find his or her voice?
A: I think if you care about people genuinely, you listen to them and observe them; because this is more than just hearing them speak, it is observing them-observing where their excitement is, where their enthusiasm is; observing where you sense they have potential.

Sometimes it is very powerful just to say to them in sincerity, “I believe you have great potential in this area. I see real strengths in you that you may not see in yourself, and I would like to create an opportunity for you to use those strengths and to develop this potential. Would you be interested in that?” 

Most people are so flattered by someone who sincerely cares for them and affirms their work and potential that they are moved and inspired by that kind of input. It’s very powerful and it can make all of the difference, particularly with people who grow up with a confused lifestyle, bad modeling, and basic education. Often they have no clue as to what life is about or what they are about until someone becomes a teacher to them-a mentor, a confirmer, and a coach. This kind of mentoring is becoming increasingly important in education, in relationships, and in work environments. It can make all of the difference as to whether a person takes a higher road to his or her own voice or a lower road to where he or she is swallowed up by the priorities and voices of others.