So Your Child Wants to be an Artist? Relax, Don’t Worry

You want your child to lead a happy and successful life. How you interpret success and happiness may vary widely, however. How your child interprets these words and the feelings represented by them may vary even more.art

For many families, success is defined in terms of financial success, but even financial success can mean a lot of different things as well.

What parent wants to see their child struggle to pay the rent or put food on the table?

It may not be that your vision of financial success means your child having a six-figure income, but it probably includes them living on their own without needing regular influxes of cash from Mom and Dad in order to survive.

So what happens if your child comes to you and tells you that they want to be an artist? What thoughts begin racing through your head?

Are you excited glad that they have something they’re passionate about, knowing that their talent will carry them? Or are you concerned that they’ll be living in a hovel and face daily struggles for safety and survival?

For hundreds of years, parents have had to face the idea of their children pursuing the arts. Despite the risks, parental protests, and even the threat of being financially cut off, many of these children still choose to follow their hearts.

Some artists have a passion for the arts, but aren’t able to pursue their dreams until later in life. Other children are determined to follow their dreams earlier, with or without parental support or approval. Parents may disapprove entirely of a career in the arts or may only approve if their child fits within a specific mold.

Paul Gauguin followed several careers in order to first please his family and then his wife’s family. He had to return to painting full-time several times in his life. It was in his nature and part of his core being that had to be expressed despite the challenges that it created.

Painter Édouard Manet’s father was adamantly opposed to his son having a career in art to the point where Manet left for Paris to pursue his dream while still in his teens.

Singer/songwriter Kris Kristofferson’s parents disowned him when he turned down a position to teach literature at West Point in order to devote himself to songwriting.

Katy Perry fashioned her musical career even though it still isn’t in harmony with her parents’ religious careers as evangelical Christian pastors and musician Miles Davis wasn’t met with approval of his choice in career. It was just that his mother thought he ought to play a stringed instrument rather than the trumpet. His father hoped he would become a dentist.

Fortunately, all of these artists persevered and have created art that’s influenced countless others and these are only a few examples.

Will your child struggle and suffer? Will their career soar or flounder? Is it a good idea for them to have a Plan B in case their art career fails? Or would it be smart for them to take another job and pursue music in their free time? Would a job in the field or something related to their field be as fulfilling and safer?

You can’t know what the absolute best path for anyone else is even if that other person is your own child. What you can do is tap into your Internal Guidance System (IGS) and encourage your child to tap into theirs as well in order to help discover their best path.

Whether your child will becomes rich and famous in their lifetime is uncertain. Are the odds in their favor? Maybe not. If you worry about it, it probably won’t make one bit of difference. And if you encourage your child to abandon their dreams in exchange for financial security, they may never find the one thing you want them to find in life: happiness.

If you can leave your personal preferences aside and let joy be your guide, then you’ll find the right path. Passing this ideal onto your prospective artist is the best thing you can do for them.

For more, please visit www.SharonBallantine.com.

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Preparing for the Empty Nest

At some point in your life as a parent, you’ll be faced with the fact that your child has grown up and wants to move out. That’s the plan, isn’t it? You became a parent not because you had this vision of always having a child at home to raise, right? Hopefully, part of your vision was seeing your child flourish and grow into an independent adult living on their own.empty nest

So if this is the vision, why is empty nest syndrome such an issue?

More importantly, how can you avoid suffering from it? How can you plan ahead so that you can happily make the transition?

To start, it’s important to recognize what empty nest syndrome is. Both men and women can suffer from it and Psychology Today defines it as “feelings of depression, sadness, and/or grief experienced by parents and caregivers after children come of age and leave their childhood homes.”

Looking at the life of a typical parent, it’s understandable that you might have these feelings. More than likely, being a parent has been a full-time job for two decades or more. This makes it hard to avoid feeling like being Mom or Dad is a major part of your identity. You may feel like you’re losing that part of yourself as your baby heads out the door. If you’re experiencing these feelings, this is a perfect opportunity to take some time for yourself and reassess the age old question:

“Who are you?”

Be willing to embrace whatever you’re feeling. You may feel sadness or grief and that’s okay. You may also feel joy and a sense of freedom. That’s okay, too. You may feel a complete rainbow of emotions during this transition. Journaling can help. Short sessions of deep breathing or meditation can also help. I also encourage you to continue tapping into your Internal Guidance System (IGS) to help process your thoughts and feelings.

If you were a stay-at-home parent, the change can be more stressful and startling than it would be for a parent who worked outside the home. You may have devoted a larger percentage of your day to day activities to caring for your children. You may have even put aside your career or hobbies in order to be there to chauffeur, chaperone, and support your child physically and emotionally.

If possible, you can set yourself up for a happier transition long before the actual expected departure date.

Start by recognizing that you’re more than your child’s parent. Start consciously adding other people into your life: choose some people who have similar interests, but aren’t the parents of your child’s friends. It’s important to make make the effort to find other adults who don’t know your child at all.

Even though you might not think you have it, carve out a block of time that is for you without your child. Use it to be with other adults whether you take a class, get back to your favorite hobby, read, explore, exercise your body, or volunteer in your community.

Carve out another block of time that’s for you and your spouse to be together as a couple. Have a date night or catch a matinee. Go for walks together. If it feels like the only thing you seem to have in common is your child, then it’s a good idea to spend the time to get to know each other again. Rediscover the man or woman you fell in love with. This is your chance to dream about the perfect vacations you can take alone together.

Place focus on your health. Move your body. Eat healthy foods that you can enjoy. Laying a healthy groundwork now will make it harder to fall prey to bad habits when your child is out of the house.

If you follow these simple steps now, you’ll have an easier transition when the time comes and your child moves out on their own. That doesn’t mean you won’t ever feel sadness or miss them. You raised a pretty awesome person, so it’s natural to miss them. By allowing yourself to have a life without your child, you’ve also given them time to explore life as an individual. Ironically, this separateness can be one of the greatest gifts you can give them and be what brings them back to visit, voluntarily and lovingly.

For more, please visit www.SharonBallantine.com.

Traveling with Children

Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or are new to the rigors and adventures that traveling brings, traveling with children is a very different experience then traveling solo or with other adults. That isn’t to say that it should be avoided. Taking your children on trips can be great for the entire family. To ensure that the trip is as enjoyable as possible for everyone concerned, it’s a good idea to keep a few things in mind.

Schedule play dates

Traveling gives you the opportunity to teach your children about other cultures, nature, and to visit a variety of museums and educational attractions. That’s all fine and can give your children an advantage when they get back to school, but it can also be exhausting or even boring when overdone.

Remember that your children are still young and that this is also a time for fun.

Allowing for scheduled breaks from traveling, toting luggage, and learning will go a long way towards your children’s enjoyment of the adventure.

Consider having a rest day now and then, especially if you’re traveling for extended periods. Not only is this a good chance for the children to release some pent up energy, it can be a healthy break for everyone.

When planning your itinerary, seek out some places that give the children time for their own version of R&R. Whether they love amusement parks, playing at the beach, climbing trees, cooking, the arts or any other specific outdoor activities, you can incorporate some of their favorite pastimes into the schedule.

You may discover some fun activities for them that are also different and new. Sometimes these fun adventures become the highlight of a trip, especially when it’s new for the entire family.

Gather family input

Traveling is a lot more fun when you get to have a say in where you’re going and what you’ll see. Any time you leave home, you’re facing change, which can be scary. New sights, sounds, and smells bombard you from all directions. Different foods challenge even the most adventurous eaters. Learning different customs and dealing with different forms of currency or different languages can be daunting and confusing.

Consider discussing your ideas for a trip with the entire family. Allow each member to have time to talk about what they’d like to experience most. Don’t be surprised if this conversation takes place over several family meetings as the idea starts to sink in. Let your children know it’s okay to express their concerns as well as what excites them about the upcoming adventure.

If your family has children whose ages vary widely, don’t be surprised to hear very different suggestions. They may seem like they’re incompatible, but with a little creativity, you’ll probably be able to incorporate a little something for everyone.

Pack a few extras, but not too much

Allow your children to bring something that’s comforting to them. For a young child, that might be a favorite toy to play or sleep with. Older kids might want their electronics in order to keep in touch with friends.

You’ll want your children to have appropriate clothing and shoes for whatever you have planned. Some children will need your guidance as to what’s appropriate, especially if you’re traveling abroad.

Also keep in mind that most places in the world carry just about everything you’ll need, so it’s okay to pack the minimum amount of things. When you do this, it keeps your luggage lighter, making traveling a lot more fun and leaves room for some souvenirs.

Encourage your children to create memories along the way. This may be in the form of taking photographs, collecting postcards, or writing in a journal. Think about bringing a blank journal for each child so they can write things down or slip in something to trigger a memory later.

Be willing to shift gears

So you’ve settled on a plan. You have your tickets, your itinerary, your bags are packed, and you’re on your way. All is going well and the family seems to be having a good time.

Then suddenly, it isn’t going so well.

Things happen, especially when you’re traveling. Be open to the idea that you might have to shift your schedule a bit. Perhaps you tried to get too many things into the day and people are feeling burned out. Maybe there’s more togetherness than you’re used to and there’s a need for some elbow room. It could be that your days are starting too early or ending too late and the children are short on sleep. Are your children overstimulated with all the new and different things surrounding them?

When you hit a bump in the road, it’s the perfect time to revaluate and see if you need to modify the plan. You might need to add a day of rest and forego seeing a museum or cultural event. Or you might just want to juggle the itinerary. Sometimes the spontaneous rest days that take advantage of what’s right there in front of you will be the most memorable of the entire trip.

Set your intention to have fun.

Your mood and energy can go a long way to setting the tone for the entire family. You’ll have a much better chance of achieving the goal of having a fun-filled day if you wake up with that intention rather than dreading any hiccups that may occur.

Traveling with your children can be a wonderful adventure. Let yourself experience it and be fully present with your family. Just as you want your children to connect with the adventure and with you, be sure to connect with them as well.

Keeping these tips in mind you can create a lifetime of memories. Hopefully you’ll be able to establish a pattern of fun traveling together as a family — even if things don’t always go exactly as planned.

For more, please visit www.SharonBallantine.com.

Why Fighting in Front of the Children May be a Good Idea

More than likely, you don’t like to fight in front of your children. Many experts encourage this behavior, with the idea being that disagreements shouldn’t happen in front of children and that parents are to present a united front for them with a loving and supportive façade.asking for fb login info

That’s where the problem can occur; the façade. There are several reasons why this façade can actually create a challenge for their children kids no matter how happy the parents are as individuals or together as a couple.

I’m not suggesting that you should have vicious battles, verbal or physical, in front of your children. You want your children to grow up in a loving environment and you want them to know they’re loved and in a safe place.

However, that doesn’t mean parents can never disagree. Calmly discussing differing opinions can be a great lesson for kids. It teaches them how to dialogue, to listen to someone else’s viewpoint, and to be able to articulate their own.

In addition to that, it demonstrates that two people can care for each other very much and still disagree on topics. When adults disagree and are able to negotiate a peaceful resolution, children learn the art of compromise. They learn of respecting other’s needs and positions, as well as how to seek alternatives rather than digging in their heels and insisting on getting their own way.

What about more heated discussions? Should they be held only behind closed doors?

Fights happen. You and your spouse are unique individuals with lots of different preferences and pressures impacting you on a daily basis. As much as you presumably love one another, sometimes those differences hit hard.

Again, I’m not talking about violence, slamming doors, and screaming tirades, but there are times when emotions are elevated. Tempers may flare and tears may flow. Do you want your children to witness these moments?

There isn’t a right or wrong answer here, but there are two different perspectives to consider at the very least.

It might feel right to have this sort of marital disagreement in private. Perhaps it deals with an adult topic, is a result of some unusual stress in your life, or maybe it’s just something between you and your spouse.

Keep in mind that your children are probably able to hear much of your discussion. They may not be able to discern all the words, but they can feel the energy and it doesn’t feel good. It may even be scary for them if they’ve never heard you raise your voices before. They won’t be feeling safe and they may even imagine that you’re getting a divorce.

If you have your disagreement in private, then you might consider how much you’ll share with your children. If they heard any of the discussion or felt the negative energy, it might be helpful for you to give an abbreviated account of the situation — hopefully as a united front. It’s important to remember that while you may have kissed and made up, it’s unlikely that your children heard that part, so they may think you’re still angry with one another.

Your arguing might also feel scary for them, but it’s also a small dose of reality. It gives you, your spouse and the children a chance to see it all the way through — the disagreement and that you and your spouse still love each other even when you fight.

Parents who never fight only exist in fairy tales. When you pretend you’re like those make-believe people, your children can grow up feeling like any disagreement is a sign that a relationship is over. Letting them see some of your imperfections may be scary for everyone involved, but in the long run, it may help your children grow into healthier and happier adults with full, loving relationships.

For more, please visit www.SharonBallantine.com.

When You Don’t Like Your Child’s Friends

Let’s face facts: sometimes you just don’t like some of your child’s friends. You’re only human after all and there are going to be people you just don’t resonate with well.

While that’s definitely okay, it can be challenging when your son or daughter’s BFF grates on your nerves. Chances are, you can handle an irritating friend even if you don’t understand the chemistry. You may not particularly enjoy having them around, but you love your children, so you try to be patient and deal.hold onto the jumprope

Sometimes it isn’t that the friend in question is irritating. They may just be so different that you’re uncomfortable.

As much as you like to think that you’re open-minded and accepting, there may be cases where someone’s so different from your experience that it’s a challenge for you to warm up to them.

These differences may be cultural, religious, or social. Depending on your background, it may be a challenge to accept or figure out how to communicate with a person from a different country or culture. It may feel like you don’t like this person because you don’t understand them or you have a fear that they might pull your child away from you and your own comfort zone

But what if it’s more than a personality issue? What if you’re concerned that a new friend is a bad influence on your child or even dangerous? Do you leave it alone or do you interfere?

Unless your child’s life is in immediate danger because of a friendship, it might be a good idea to take a little time before taking any action. As hard as it is to accept that your studious daughter who’s never gotten into trouble in her life has fallen for the bad boy in town, you sometimes have to accept that opposites attract.

Forbidding relationships, whether they’re friendships or romances, rarely work out the way you hope they do. More often than not, your fight against the union strengthens their resolve to be together rather than draw them apart. Instead of fighting it, you might want to step back and consider whether or not you’re making an honest, objective assessment of the troublesome person. Or could it be that there’s something else going on that’s influencing your feelings?

For example, if the new friend reminds you of someone from your past that history could unfavorably color your views. If the person from your past was a bad apple you may project that onto your child’s friend, no matter how wonderful the friend truly is.

That’s not to say that your instincts are incorrect. It could be that you’re picking up on subtle (or not so subtle) clues that are setting off alarm bells.

One of the best ways to know if your reaction to this person is accurate or if you’re projecting things from your past is to check in with your Internal Guidance System (IGS). As challenging as the relationship may be, your IGS will help you to see it for what it is, including how it may be a benefit to your son or daughter. You may find that by tapping into your IGS, you clearly see the person behind the different clothes, long hair, or foreign appearance, and see what your child sees — a wonderful human being.

As much as opposites do attract, it’s also true that people generally gravitate towards others with whom they have something in common. While it may seem like two incompatible statements on the surface, it really means that you can find important things in common with someone who seems quite different in other ways.

Your child deserves your trust in choosing their friends. They may befriend people you don’t care for. And as much as you’d prefer to love each and every one of their friends, it’s actually healthy for them to have a wide variety of people in their life.

It speaks highly of your child when they can see beyond the things that separate people and see the uniqueness in others even if they do pick their bad apples now and then. As hard as it may be for you to step back and watch that happen, it’s about their life and their unique path. In the end, they may learn some of their most important life lessons from the very people you wanted to keep them from.

For more, please visit www.SharonBallantine.com.

Give People a Chance

One of the greatest abilities human beings have is the ability to change — an important point for you to help your children understand. Just because someone is one way or feels a certain way about someone else one day doesn’t mean that they’ll always feel that way. This is true for both kids and adults.lady trump vs the world

The movie Hotel Transylvania gives a humorous take on this theme. The movie depicts monsters as the “innocent” beings vilified by evil humans. They seek refuge away from humanity. But like humans, they perpetuate the stories of all the horrors done by their perceived enemies — us.

These myths have a basis in fact, but the facts are never challenged, out of fear. It’s assumed that nothing’s changed — at least not for the better – between the two groups.

Enter the human protagonist. Through him, the monsters learn that humans may not be quite as scary as they thought. They even learn that humanity has changed their attitudes over several hundred years.

Like the monsters, the things a person often likes or dislikes about another are based on fears and misconceptions. Some are completely unfounded. Others may be rooted in a fact or event from a long time ago.

As a society, it’s possible to see how this has happened and continues to happen even now. It wasn’t long ago that the majority of Americans thought interracial romances and marriages were wrong. It was actually illegal in most of this country until 1967. Even after it was legalized, it was still considered taboo by many, but kids today are far blinder to this kind of prejudice than previous generations.

There are many areas where you can choose to differentiate yourself from others. Mentally, you can categorize people by race, political party, economic standing, religious beliefs, and level of education. You can even divide people by the types of foods they like and whether they are cat people or dog people.

You can choose to use these labels in an effort to keep separate from people who are different from you or you can use these labels to help you find people with whom you have something in common.

It can come as a surprise when someone with whom you share so many common interests with has a very strong position on something that is extremely different from your own.

These differences can be polarizing and actually result in the end of good friendships.

When you decide to give people the benefit of the doubt and accept them for who they are — even when you don’t agree with them – you’re giving yourself a gift. You now have the opportunity to learn and grow as an individual. By knowing yourself and understanding different views as well as the goodness in them, it’s possible someone’s position will soften.

When you’re open to liking people despite your differences, you allow for a peaceful dialogue. You open yourself to becoming a better human being because you’re embracing your differences.

It’s interesting to note that as an adult, you’re far more likely to recognize that some of the most important people in your life are people you probably wouldn’t have befriended earlier. Sometimes the very traits and qualities that would have divided you from others as a kid are suddenly attractive later in life. Some traits may have softened or changed, but it’s also your attitude that’s evolved.

When you give yourself and others the opportunity to change and experience other people for who they truly are, the world is a better place.

For more, please visit www.SharonBallantine.com.

Making and Recording Family Memories

As the holiday season approaches, it can be a great time to look back on the past. What do you remember from the year? What do other members of your family remember? It can be very interesting to compare these memories and it’s often surprising to hear how differently everyone remembers the same events. Even more surprising is how something that was so important to one person may not even be remembered at all by another.

There will also be family memories for you to share.

They won’t be remembered exactly the same way because everyone in the family experienced them through their personal filters, but you can all make an effort to create and record more of these memories by talking about them, together.

Not only can this be fun in the moment, but it can bring you a lot of pleasure in the future when you look back together or individually.

When families are young, there’s often a lot of recording of family moments. In the past, this was done with cameras and old home movies. There were photo albums or shoeboxes filled with pictures of the first baby’s early years and big events. Then as the family grew, there were fewer pictures of each child. Not because you love the oldest child more, but because you had your hands full.

When your children are very young, it’s possible to direct the activities as well as how and when you record them. Consider your personal preferences and have activities that fill you with joy. At the same time, pay attention to how your children react. They’ll give you great clues even at early ages about things they like to do and things that don’t light them up.

It’s always wonderful when everyone’s having a great time and when each member of the family is doing something they love to do, but rather than stressing out about having the perfect activities and creating the best memories, just try to have fun.

Think about your own childhood. What do you remember the most? If your parents are still alive, you can ask them what memories they thought they were creating. It can be an eye opener to realize that adults often work hard at making happy moments for kids to remember, but the best part of that time may have just been being together with their parents. Hopefully, this knowledge lets you relax a little bit and focus on being there rather than creating the perfect event.

As the kids grow up, you can include them in making choices about activities that will become fond memories in the future and how they would like to record those memories.

When it comes to recording these events, here are some suggestion to keep in mind:

  • Capture the memories in a variety of ways, rather than relying solely on one method. Technology has a way of changing and if all your memories are recorded on video, you might not be able to view them in the future unless, you find a means of converting them to the new media. Remember VHS tapes?
  • Take photos and videos, but focus more on the people and less on the scenery. Be sure to include everyone, even the camera-shy people in the shots. Not everyone has to be in every picture. Allow every family member a turn behind the lens. That way, no one’s left out. And you never know… You might instill a love of photography or filmmaking one or more of your kids by doing so.

As much as one person might enjoy being the director, remember you’re creating family memories, so you want to document that the entire family was there.

  • Collect postcards from places you visit to augment your own pictures. Often the image will be much better, but it won’t have your family members in it. You can write short notes on the back of the postcards too, either of what you did that day or about anything interesting that happened. By combining postcards and personal pictures, you can get a full memento of the experience.
  • Journaling is another way to help capture memories. Encourage each family member to create a journal or travel book of their own. You may elect to share your journals with each other or allow each person to have their own private book, opting to share only selected portions.
  • If you’re artistic, you might consider making scrapbooks from photos and various trinkets picked up along the way. These can be physical or digital. The advantage to the digital books is that they don’t take up a lot of room, but again, you may become a victim of technological advancements. You may consider having a physical book created from your digital photographs for that reason.

Holding a book, photo album, or scrapbook in your hand is a different experience from watching a video or slideshow. While old home movies are making a comeback, many people like to be able to control the experience, lingering and speeding through sections at their discretion.

Consider your family members’ skills and interests both in planning activities and in recording them. Having some books to hold or home movies to watch in the future will be fun, but the most important part is just in having fun family experiences together.

For more, please visit www.SharonBallantine.com.

Is My Child Being Bullied?

Is My Child Being Bullied?

When kids are bullied, there can be a wide range of negative consequences. Bullied children may develop behavioral issues of their own and in turn, start to bully other children or take it out on themselves in one way or another. As a parent, this is something that you should be aware of, but first, you need to ask yourself this:

What is Bullying?

According to StopBullying.gov, bullying is defined as “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.” They continue to state that the behavior either is repeated or has the potential to be repeated.

However, while bullying is defined as occurring between school-aged children here, the behavior can continue into adulthood and the workplace and for that reason, it’s imperative that everyone plays a part in ending bullying at all ages and levels.

What do they mean by an imbalance of power? Often that power is sheer physical strength. The bully may be physically larger or stronger than the person who is the target. This is the stereotype where the bigger (usually dumber) kid in movies such as A Christmas Story, threaten the smaller kid unless they give up their lunch money.

Yet size and strength aren’t the only ways kids can bully one another. One of the most common forms of bullying today is “cyber-bullying,” or harassing someone online. The imbalance of power in this type of situation is about distributing information – often misinformation – that would embarrass the kid being bullied. In the old days, this bullying was done by cliques at school and in person, but today it can be managed away from other kids via texts and social media.

3 Types of Bullying

  1. Verbal bullying: when one person says (or writes) things about another. This could be as simple as teasing and name-calling or it could be comments that are far more severe, such as something sexual in nature or blatant threats.
  2. Social bullying: harming another person’s reputation or relationships. This can include excluding someone, gossiping and spreading rumors with the intent to purposefully embarrass someone.
  3. Physical Bullying: harming another’s body or possessions. This is the traditional schoolyard fare where someone actually strikes or kicks another. It also includes any other unwelcome physical contact including tripping another, spitting on someone, and taking or breaking their possessions.

How Do We Stop Bullying?

First of all, it’s important to have zero tolerance for behavior that resembles any of these three. It isn’t just kids being kids, but putting an end to this problem isn’t as simple as an automatic school suspension of the kids causing the problems. That has actually proven ineffective.

You also need to keep in mind that both bullies and their victims — including bystanders — suffer when the behavior is allowed to continue. By showing that bullying is unacceptable, adults and other kids can actually stop the behavior.

You need to teach your kids to be respectful of all the people involved when dealing with bullying behavior. It’s easy for an adult to demonstrate bullying behavior by demanding answers from children or making threats. Remember, as an adult, you’re in a position of power.

Tap into your Internal Guidance System (IGS) to remember what it feels like to be bullied. It’ll help guide you to separate the children and treat each as an individual. You can gather information and get to the truth, but don’t make snap judgments or expect kids to tell you the entire story while they’re standing in front of the person terrorizing them or even their own friends.

What Do I Tell My Child Who Has Been Bullied?

Always reassure your children. Let them know it’s not their fault. Also let them know that you’ll work with them to stop the bullying behavior. Encourage your children to talk to you about what’s happening and how they feel about it.

Also teach your children to tap into their IGS. Their IGS can help them to better understand others — even someone who might be making their lives miserable. Often kids who bully others are doing it because they themselves are being bullied. They might be suffering from some stress at home or they might be new and are trying to fit in. This doesn’t make it right, but it can help your son or daughter to understand that the behavior is more about the troublemaker than about your children.

Finally, help your children learn what to do to take care of themselves if they’re bullied again. This doesn’t mean teaching them how to fight back either verbally or physically. Instead, let them know there are safe places to go and adults they can turn to. Roleplay with them – use different responses such as how to leave the scene and how to get help as well as support from a friend or an adult.

Adults and kids must work together to support one another and prevent bullying. People need to learn to respect other people who are different from them. No one has to be exactly like any other human being — that would be an unrealistic goal, but people can learn to be kind to one another and honor their differences. When everyone learns to do this, not only will you see an end to bullying behavior in your children, but in adults as well.

For more, please visit www.SharonBallantine.com.

Tips for Parents of an Introverted Child

Everyone has their own unique method for processing daily information. Some children are naturally more introverted than others and this can be a challenge for parents at times, especially if the parent happens to be naturally extroverted.kid with headphones

Many people think that an introverted kid is just shy and that they’ll grow out of it, however shyness and introversion are very different aspects to a person’s personality. While it’s possible for kids to be both shy and introverted, that doesn’t mean they can’t also be quite outgoing.

Sound confusing? It can be, especially since many sources will define an introvert as a shy person to begin with.

Yet introversion is more accurately defined as a means of processing information. It doesn’t refer to how easily you relate to other people.

As a parent, it’s important to be able to distinguish if your child is an introvert or if they’re shy.

You may want to help your children overcome their shyness, but you should also support and allow an introvert to process information in their natural way. To try and change that is similar to trying to make a left-handed child become right hand dominant.

Introverted people relish time alone. They may appear to be more concerned with their inner minds than the outer world. They may like to quietly observe others without actively participating. Introverts will often report feeling alone or lonely when they’re surrounded by a group of people they don’t know. And contrary to popular belief, introverts don’t always lock themselves away in their room. They may enjoy going to parties or being part of a team, but will probably want some quiet time afterwards in order to recharge.

This can be especially difficult for an extroverted parent to understand. Extroverts get a lot of energy from other people, so they might go out in order to recharge. For an introvert, being around a lot of people or even noise can be both physically and emotionally draining.

Your introverted child may be very thoughtful and able to carry on great conversations. Small talk may be more of a challenge for them, however. Watch your child as they interact with others. Many introverts work out problems and conversations in their minds silently. They aren’t likely to blurt things out without a thought.

Being an introvert is hardly a negative thing. A higher percentage of gifted children are categorized as introverted and introverts can succeed at any career — even ones that you might think would only be a fit for an outgoing personality. For example, many successful actors are actually introverts — they process the information internally and then they’re able to embody their characters regardless of what personalities they’re meant to be playing.

If your child is an introvert, be sure to give them plenty of quiet time. Recognize that if they have a delay in responding to you, it might just be that they’re thinking or feeling out their answer.

If you’re an extrovert, you may be used to verbally going over answers to life’s challenges. Don’t expect your child to follow your lead because it doesn’t mean they didn’t hear you when you spoke. They may be silently repeating your words in their heads as they work out their own solutions.

For more, please visit www.SharonBallantine.com.

Parents Need a Break Too

Your kids get a nice break from their routines when school is out, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a break, too. Sure, you probably don’t get as much time off as your kids or even as much time as you would like, but it’s important for parents to take a break from their routine too.

While you might not get three months off work, appreciate the time you do have. It may be that your vacation consists of long weekends camping in the nearby mountains.tent

Or perhaps you get a week or two away. Even if you can’t travel, you can still enjoy a “stay-cation” and enjoy local parks or museums that just never seem to fit into your normal schedule.

Some parents love to work so much that they don’t want to take a vacation. Others think they’re indispensable to their employers or perhaps even quietly fear that if they go away, their boss will figure they’re expendable.

Remember the saying “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy?” This is true for adults and kids. Taking a break and have some fun is good for your mind and spirit. It can help you be a better parent, a better employee, and even a better and happier human being.

Think about different options for a break. What sounds good to you? Does your spirit cry out for a break away from the day to day cares? Perhaps you’d love a little quiet time at the shore. Are you stuck indoors most of the time? Maybe a river rafting adventure is just the right ticket.

Be willing to try something new. Allow your mind and spirit to be stimulated and to break out of the rut you might be in. Give your mind and body time to recharge and to get rebalanced.

Talk to your kids about a break for the entire family, but be sure to include your desires in the plan. So often, parents put their needs last. Remember, this is your break, too.  You and your family won’t experience all the benefits of a vacation if your needs aren’t being met and you’re just going along with the ride.

If your kids want to go camping and what you want is a trip to an art museum, see if there is a way you can have both. This can broaden the horizons of every member of your family and teach a lesson in standing up for yourself.

Your family might actually decide that you have plenty of together time at home and you would each prefer to spend a few days or a week on a special passion.  If you son wants to attend theater camp and your daughter wants to go to soccer camp, then what’s to stop you from having your own camp experience?

What may be the perfect vacation for one family is potentially sheer torture for yours. Don’t let other people tell you what you should do for your break(s). Pay attention to the messages you’re getting from your Internal Guidance System (IGS) and you’ll discover the right solution for your family. Take a little time off — you deserve it. You’ll come back refreshed and glad you did.

For more, please visit www.SharonBallantine.com.