Why do emotions always run high at the Olympics?

Because feelings rule; whatever we feel comes first & that drives our behavior!
First of all, what a thrill it would to watch your child succeed in an ultimate way, competing as an Olympian. Very few of us parents will ever experience that thrill, but we certainly can watch, listen and learn lessons from these Olympic games with our kids.
I often think of the age old Olympic quote, “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat” and wonder if we are preparing our kids to gracefully accept their triumphs and graciously swallow their defeats for their social success?
And the answer is that whether or not we have been preparing them for their defeats, we can! If we embrace improving our child’s emotional quotient (EQ) with as much enthusiasm and conviction as we do for their academic success our children will be fully prepared for life’s disappointments.
Teaching social emotional skills are really is as easy as 1-2-3 or the A-B-C’s. We must take the time to not only define & identify a feeling your child might be having, but help them reach that ah-ha moment about what they normally do to cope with that feeling!
One major hopeful to win gold during these 2014 Winter Olympics was Shaun White.  We unfortunately fell shot of the medal podium, but he truly handled his feeling of disappointment with grace.  He not only showed great sportsmanship, but he knew what he needed to get through his disappointment…A HUG! Read more about what a great example Shaun White can be for our kids!
Finally, let PFF teach them 100′s of ways to DEAL with their feelings for academic & social success, Dr. Ann

What do TEAM sports teach?

As the excitement of Super Bowl weekend is upon us, I am not just reminded of watching of football, although I am a huge fan, but of what my son and daughter learned through their participation in team sports.

This past weekend my 33 year old son visited and invited 15 of his high school friends over for a BBQ.  I looked around our kitchen and saw lifelong friendships that started 25 years ago when they all first met playing team sports.  And every holiday my 28 year old daughter has a reunion with her song teammates to share their lives now and remember the experiences they all shared dancing together 10 years ago.

Traditionally some parents think of team sports as a way for their children to achieve recognition or scholarships or just plain popularity.  But, there are more profound lessons and benefits from getting involved with a team.  Your child doesn’t need to be the ‘best’ or most talented or coordinated on a team to receive these lifelong benefits…

  • Friends for life
  • Leadership roles & learning peer group social skills, like cooperation
  • Confidence in achieving goals
  • Health and exercise (Click HERE for an easy healthy Super Bowl Snack idea)

As your family enjoys the super bowl, even if it is just to see which commercials they like the best, remember to encourage your child to join a team.  It doesn’t have to be the football team; it could be the chess team or spelling team or art team or girl & boy scouts just as long as you give your child the opportunity to experience the benefits of being part of a team.

Enjoy Super Bowl and go Bronco’s…sorry Seattle fans, but University of Denver is my Alma mater!

Dr. Ann

What does Thanks…Giving Mean Anyway?

Question from a parent of three:

“Thanksgiving always reminds me to count my blessings.  But I find myself at a loss when it comes to teaching my children how to be grateful.  It seems like even though they say “Thanks” when they get something it is quick and insincere”.


The “Give to Get Rule” is always worth repeating this time of year.  Remember every time you give your child a toy or when they get a big turkey dinner, it is your chance to model for them how to be grateful.

It is never too young to start a family ritual of ALWAYS giving away one of their unused toys to someone less fortunate than themselves, when they get a new one.

But, don’t just bundle up the toys in a bag and leave it on the street curb for ‘the truck’ to pick up.  Because, what this means to a child is that ‘the truck’ took my toys!

Instead take your child’s hand and walk with them into a childcare center or half-way house for abused & neglected children and have your child actually hand over their toy into the hands of another child.  Do the same with a turkey dinner to one of your neighbors who otherwise wouldn’t have one this holiday season.  The look of joy and appreciation on another child’s face will make a lifelong memory for your child.

How parents show gratitude themselves has everything to do with how kids learn the importance and joys of giving themselves. So give back wherever and whenever you can and make sure your kids are watching!

I am truly grateful for all of you and your amazing families…Happy Thanksgiving, Dr. Ann

P.S. For words of wisdom from Dr. Bill Sears this holiday season check out www.askdrsears.com!

“Studies have shown that people that are grateful are healthier because they often feel happier, are more optimistic, take better care of themselves, have stronger immune systems and have a brighter outlook on the future”.  -Dr. Bill

Trick-or-Treat…What To Do with ALL that CANDY?

Before we get into what to do with the mounds of candy kids collect on Halloween each year, we need to take a step back and ask ourselves if our kids seem ready to Trick-or-Treat, or if my child is too old to Trick-or Treat? If your child shows reluctance to participate in Halloween, listen to them. You must respect your child’s scary feelings as they are REAL in their experience. Do not expose your kids to what they perceive as ‘real threats’.  Just wait until the next year when they are ready and your whole family holiday experience will be all smiles.

As for older kids, make sure you give safety tips, like don’t eat anything you received trick or treating until you get home where your parents can check it out.  As a teenager, if you are not willing to ‘dress up’ you are too old to trick-or-treat.

So lets get back to the age old question…What to do with the candy?

My first suggestion is to introduce the “Candy Fairy”, it worked wonders with my kids when they were young and with countless numbers of my clients that I’ve shared this technique with over the last 35 years. Tell your kids that there are kids who don’t get candy on Halloween (which is the truth) & your family believes “it is more blessed to give than to receive”, so we are going to put most of our candy in a bag for the “candy fairy”. Then, the “candy fairy” will take it to the kids who didn’t get to go trick-or-treating.  But before they put their candy it the bag, tell them to “take out a few of their favorite pieces, then fill up that candy bag for the fairy to take to other kids”!

My second suggestion is to help your kids make the connection between what they put into their bodies and how that makes them FEEL.  Candy is fun, but empty calories and sugar which can change their behavior and not always for the best.  So make sure your kids exercise to burn off energy for better behavior and to get rid of those extra calories. If they want to run from house to house, let them go for it and definitely plan on a family walk the next day!

Denise Webster, Dr. Wm. Sears Family Wellness Educator at dwebster2@cox.net is a great resource for fun ways your family can eat healthy http://www.fuelingbrainsandbodies.com/

 Have a healthy, fun Halloween, Dr. Ann

What’s your biggest concern with your kids in middle school?

A current on-line survey says…”Parents say bullying is a greater concern than alcohol, while children themselves worry most about making the right friends”.

I’d say that both parents and their kids are on the same page with their concerns.  Because, the primary way kids make friends and keep friends is by being accepted by their peer group and that depends entirely upon on how others treat them.

Recently, the Today show posed the question, are ‘mean girls getting meaner’? http://www.today.com/moms/are-mean-girls-getting-meaner-teens-open-about-bullying-8C11417897

The resounding answer was yes, the reason given was that girls say mean things to ‘fit in’.  The advice to parents was to talk to your kids about their feelings and have lots of physical connections with them, like hugging.

While I agree with this advice, I also want to take it one step further by suggesting that kids need to be taught emotional literacy in order to cope with bullying, so they can make the right friends.

Emotional literacy is not just talking about your feelings it is learning how to DEAL with the way you feel in appropriate ways.

The fact is girls are mean because they feel ENVY and don’t know what to do about it. So teach your kids that ENVY is going to come whether they like it or not. It’s about wanting something that somebody else has and if you don’t know how to deal with it, you’ll automatically tear down someone else in order to build yourself up!

Once kids learn this fact, tell them to always compliment that someone who has something they’d like to have and then remember to compliment themselves later in order to improve their own self worth. This conversation you have with your kids is how you teach emotional literacy.

Teaching emotional literacy is a necessary step for your kids to understand themselves better. Once they understand their emotions and how to DEAL with they way they feel, it is easier for them to create positive behavior and find friends in all the right places.

Hope this helps, Dr. Ann

For more information on Emotional Literacy and how to teach your kids how to DEAL with the Way they feel, check out my emotional literacy program Pocket Full of Feelings @www.pocketfulloffeelings.com or email me to set up a private or group consultation @ drann@theparentingdoctor.com

How much screen time is too much screen time?

Almost daily parents ask me this question, “How much screen time is too much screen time”? The answer to this question is that time is not the real issue; it’s what a screen does to kids brain and behavior. 

Catherine Steiner-Adair, Ed.D. Harvard, interviews over 1,000 kids from the age of 4-18yrs in her new book to understand how technology is affecting their lives socially, emotionally and in their relationships. Her book, The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood & Family Relationships in the Digital Age says that parents are “not teaching their children how to deal with frustration & boredom”. Instead we sit them in front of a screen to not only entertain them but to keep them from getting bored & or frustrated instead of teaching them how to deal with their real feelings.

The article by Lori Leibovichabout Catherine’s book describes the 8 Ways Screens Are Ruining Your Life

1. Don’t put your baby in front of a screen. Ever.

2. And think hard about putting your toddler in front of one, too.

3. Teachers can tell if your child is getting too much screen time.

4. Your kids hate your screens.

5. Just because we can be connected to work 24/7 doesn’t mean we should be.

6. Screens aren’t good for your marriage. And that’s not good for your kids.

7. In order to be a good parent, you need to take care of yourself.

8. Sorry, but you really don’t know what your kids are doing online. But that doesn’t mean you should give up trying.

Please take the time to read 8 Ways Screens Are Ruining Your Life by Catherine Steiner-Adair in Lori Leibovich’s article for the Huff Post, it’s truly a great resource.

For more information about how easy it is to teach your kids how to deal with frustration & boredom, check out the Pocket Full of Feelings website of Ask Dr. Ann either through drann@theparentingdoctor.com or call (949)637-3482 for a consult.

Could you be spoiling your kids by saying your proud of them?

Do you ever wonder if you are spoiling your kids by saying you are proud of them…if you want the right answer to this question I recommend you read my colleague Kenneth Barish’s article Understanding Children’s Emotions: The Importance of Pride and Shame.

I highly recommend reading this informative article by Kenneth Barish Ph.D., clinical associate professor of psychology, Cornell University. Check out more of his work on his website www.kennethbarish.com.

I hope you enjoy reading Understanding Children’s Emotions: the Importance of Pride and Shame!

Have a fun and safe Labor day weekend! For more information about teaching your children about their emotions and how to deal with the way then feel visit my Pocket Full of Feelings project.

~Dr. Ann

In Praise of Fathers

Fathers should be appreciated all year… not just on one day! While Father’s Day is a tremendous idea, we all need to affirm Dads for their significance every day of the year.

I come from a long line of fantastic fathering men. My grandfathers were both grand fathering me from birth to their deaths. My Dad, in his 80’s, is still fathering me long distance and with just as much love, sincerity and respect as always. My husband has been an awesome father for 28 years. One of the problems with us mothers is that we sometimes spend too much time trying to get the fathers in our lives to mother, instead of just appreciating what fathering does for our children.

Fathers teach two very crucial concepts to children: how to trust themselves and how to take risks! Since men don’t have the same hormonal response as women when their kids move away from them, a familiar scenario often happens. Mom might go out to the park and ask her husband to watch the kids while she goes to the bathroom. When she returns, the kids are playing on the playground equipment, at the furthest point from where her husband is standing. He is in deep conversation with another Dad. Mom’s first response is usually, “why are you not watching the kids, they are way too far away and you weren’t even looking at them when I came out of the bathroom?”

The truth of the matter is, kids can move six times further away from a Dad, as opposed to a Mom, before he has any physical response like that alarm that goes off in Mom’s head saying, “where are the kids?” That does not mean that men love or protect their children any less than a woman. What it does mean is that fathers teach their kids that it is okay to trust your self and take risks.

So Moms, celebrate Father’s Day by valuing what Dad’s give kids!

In deep appreciation of fathers 365 days per year, Dr. Ann Corwin

Sexting…Why in the world would your child do that?

Sexting, sending racy or sexually explicit messages or photos via cell phones and computers, is becoming an alarmingly common practice among teens.  It’s a felony, as law enforcement qualifies sexting as minors in possession of pornography.  So why don’t kids believe they are doing anything wrong?

I’ll tell you why!  Sending a message to someone without being able to see their reaction doesn’t give teens the opportunity to see how their message was received.  If you tell a joke at a party and no one laughs, or some people roll their eyes or frown, you instantly know your message was not appropriate.  A person can tell how to behave by the social cues they receive from others.

If a teen has to look into the eyes of another teen and say “hey, take off your shirt and let me see you naked”, that teen will most likely pause and either feel a bit embarrassed or reluctant to do so because someone else might see them or their parents might walk in.  There are tons of checks and balances on behavior if it’s done in person or in public.

When kids send words or pictures via phone/computer they don’t get any immediate feedback on their content, its like out-of-sight-out-of-mind.  Therefore, it seems harmless.

So what’s a parent to do?  Its not enough to just tell your teen not to do sexting, its wrong, those pictures will be in the public forever.  Even though all of that is true, it wont keep teens from sexting.

Instead teach and insist your teen spend more time in person with their friends so that they can practice social skills and learn reactions to their inappropriate behavior.  Your family rule should be, “for every text their needs to be face-to-face connection with their peers”.  In order to keep your children safe you can visit www.brickhousesecurity.com to view your children’s messages.  Don’t be afraid to be ‘in the know’ about your kids safety, Dr. Ann

You Know I Love You Anyway

In celebration of Mother’s Day, I’d like to share a special poem with you that was given to me by a mom that I had been working with earlier this year. She was a new mommy having trouble adjusting to being a stay-at-home-mom after the birth of her second child. She came seeking guidelines in managing her impatience with her children… the same impatience that many of us experience in trying to juggle life’s many demands. In the course of working with her, she found this poem and shared it with me, and today I share it with you as a subtle reminder to slow down and enjoy your precious children.

I bumped into a stranger as he passed by.

“Oh, excuse me, please,” was my reply.

He said, “Please excuse me too.

I wasn’t even watching for you.”

Oh, we were polite – this stranger and I.

We went on our way and we said our goodbye.

But at home a different story is told

how we treat our loved ones, young and old.

Later that day, cooking the evening meal,

my daughter stood beside me very still.

When I turned, I nearly knocked her down.

“Move out of the way!” I said with a frown.

She walked away, her little heart broken.

I didn’t realize how harshly I’d spoken.

Later that night, wide awake in my bed,

a still, small voice came to me and said,

“While dealing with a stranger, common courtesy you use,

but the children you love, you seem to abuse!

Look upon the kitchen floor,

you’ll find some flowers there by the door.

Those are the flowers she brought for you,

she picked them herself – pink, yellow and blue.

She stood quietly, not to spoil the surprise,

and you never saw the tears in her eyes.”

By this time, I felt very small,

and now my tears began to fall.

I quietly went and knelt by her bed,

“Wake up, sweetheart,” I whispered and said.

“Are these the flowers you picked for me?”

She smiled, “I found ‘em, out by the tree.

I picked ‘em because they’re pretty like you.

I knew that you’d like them – especially the blue.”

I said, “Daughter, I’m sorry how I acted to you today,

I shouldn’t have yelled at you that way.”

She hugged me and said, “Mommy, that’s okay.

You know I love you anyway.”

I said, “Daughter, I love you too!

And I do like the flowers – especially the blue.”

Dr. Ann