Friday, November 13, 2009

Diena Thompson on Dr. Phil Show- "I've received hate mail"

Last night I caught a segment on Dr. Phil with Deina Thompson. The incredibly distraught mother who's young daughter was abducted and murdered on her way home from school was invited on the show for an episode about how to protect our children from predators.

I was shocked at the end of her segment when Deina said that she's received hate mail. There are people out there who have actually taken time out of their own lives and time to put ink to paper to tell this mother that she was at fault for her daughter's murder and should be put in jail!

I would foremost want to tell Deina Thompson that under no circumstance, no how, no way, is she responsible for her daughter's death. The person whose hand murdered Somer is solely responsible. Deina, like many, many, many parents, allowed her children to walk to and from school because the school does not provide bus service to their neighborhoods. Should the school be labeled murderous for not providing the bus service? Of course not. And so, of course, neither should Deina.

With that said, I had to examine why people would put the blame on Deina in the first place...and then go so far as to send her hate mail to tell her so?!

Then I recognized the link between this occurrence and my work with the Tomgirlz. Through the book ABBEY'S TURN, I look at the issues of bullying. It is a children's book and most often thought of as a child's problem, but bullying occurs at all stages in life. In fact, it is often said that parents need to be part of the solution. I believe that it is adults like those who wrote those letters that teach their children the bullying behavior in the first place and unwittingly perpetuate the problem.

Bullies almost always seek a victim to tear down in order to build themselves up in some way. They do not have enough confidence or belief in their own dreams and goals, so they spend their time instead lashing out against someone else. Does this really make them feel better? I doubt it...but it does work in most cases to make the victim feel really, really bad.

And so, Deina Thompson, cry for your daughter, but do not shed one tear of guilt that these people would put on you to cover up something they themselves feel guilty about in their own lives. Know that their words express the pain of their own problems and have nothing to do with you. Do not allow yourself to be victimized all over again.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

5 Ways to Prevent Your Child From Being a Bully

With all the talk about bullying and anti-bully policies taking over school curriculum, one thing is clear...everyone agrees that prevention starts at home! But many parents aren't aware of the problem, what to look for, or what to do.

Here are 5 ways to ensure your child grows up with great self esteem and confidence...and there is no such thing as a bully with great self esteem or confidence!

1. BE AN EXAMPLE - Let your child see you as kind, patient, and respectful of others. That doesn't mean be a push over. It is just as important to show your child how to resolve conflicts in a strong and controlled manner without resorting to shouting or violence.

2. START EARLY - From the time your baby can show emotion, start correcting poor behavior. Don't accept things such as hitting, pushing, or teasing, as child's play. Let them know that it is wrong. At the same time, let them know how good they make others feel when they are kind, share, or even just smile.

3. SET RULES AT HOME ABOUT BULLYING - Your child hears all the rules and policies at school, but these rules should be set at home long before your child even goes to school. The younger a child is when "rules" such as no hitting, put downs, teasing, etc are taught, the more embedded it will be in their subconscious mind and the less likely they will are to become a bully.

4. BE AWARE AND DON'T IGNORE THE SIGNS - Know what bullying is. Think about times that you yourself have been bullied or bullied someone else and make sure you yourself fully understand that that's not normal (if you don't know what bullying is, then you can't help your child). If you see signs in your child such as disrespectful behavior and attitudes, putting others down, anger, frustration, etc...don't let it slide until it escalates. Catch these things at the onset and you stand a much better chance of prevention.

5. CONSTANT COMMUNICATION - Don't figure you can have a talk once with your child. Tell them why they can't hit Tommy or Patty when it happens. Tell them how Jane might feel if they tease her. Ask questions to get your child talking about their behavior and then actively LISTEN. And then keep asking and listening. It may be the same discussion for weeks at a time, but stay patient and persistent and your child will eventually get it.

If you are interested in a new book for elementary aged children that can help open the dialog about bullying, or having an anti-bully seminar/author visit for your school, organization, or youth group, visit

Friday, October 9, 2009


I am one of those people who unfortunately spent most of my life defining myself by what others called me or even self imposed labels that are very limiting. Perhaps the most debilitating label I slapped on myself was the term SHY.

Anytime we allow ourselves to be labeled, we make ourselves "smaller" to fit the label (because in reality we are too complex to ever truly fit any label). To fit this label, I made it very difficult on myself to do many of the things I hoped to. I would never raise my hand in class (never mind speak out!), struggled to build friendships, and hid behind my poor mother's legs if she even dared try to introduce me to someone.

One specific example I can think of was the time I wanted to try out for a town play. My parents took me to the audition at the high school, we went through the registration process, and my name was called out several times. Each time I said I wasn’t ready to audition yet. Finally (at least 6 hours later!), the last person completed their audition and I still could not bring myself to climb the steps to the stage. Those three little steps might as well have been Mt. Kilimanjaro! My parents stayed at my side the entire time and then drove me home as I berated myself for not even trying.

I battled this self imposed label for years, but have made a decision to stop using this word as a description for myself. I made a breakthrough and will never use the word shy as a label for myself. I may still have feelings of insecurity now and then (that's normal), but "shy" is no longer a label that defines me. Now I LOVE standing up before a group of children or parents and speaking about topics I am passionate about and I'm glad to say I am happier and more fulfilled because of it.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

March Is Women's History Month- Celebrating Helps to Empower Young Girls

The TOMGIRLZ chapter books are all about creating characters that are role models for girls. They display strength of character, respect for themselves and others, and an attitude that they can achieve anything in life they choose to reach for.

All mothers hope their young daughters will grow up to be achieving women one day. They will be our leaders and healers and saviors. The more role models and positive messages our young girls receive the more they will realize that making dreams come true lies in their own hands.

It's really important to celebrate the women in history that paved the way. As early as the 1970's there was very little serious study of women's history, but thankfully today nearly every college offers courses in women's history. Partially the shift is due to the women's movement of the 60's. Women became tired of being virtually invisible behind the hands of men and started speaking out and acting out. In the 70's the emphasis of history changed from being primarily political to including an array of American Life topics such as public health, ethnic culture, and urban poverty which also increased awareness of women in history.

The date March 8, 1957 was the initial day of demonstration in the U.S. celebrating the strengths and accomplishments of girls and women. In 1981 the celebration became known as "National Women's History Week" and in 1987 it was expanded to include the entire month of May.

Celebrating the accomplishments of women is important for our girls. The more they learn from other women who are courageous, smart, entrepreneurial, and leaders in the world, the more they will feel empowered themselves. The true sign of a role model for girls, however, is that all these great things are done with the absence of jealousy, cliques, and "cattiness."

I want my daughter to excel and be a leader, but I want her to always do so with a kind heart. Then we'll always have something to celebrate.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Positive Messages Must Be Repeated

If you are the mother of an awesome, good humored, high spirited young girl like I am, you want her to stay that way. But as our tweens become teens, it is evident that many girls change. Why? Well, there are many reasons, but if we as mothers stay aware and repeat the positive messages our girls need to hear over and over and over, I believe we have a chance of winning the battle.

Here are some things I worry about:
1. One bad teacher
I've seen this happen more than once. A child can have straight A's in 1st grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade....all of a sudden she gets into 4th grade (or whatever grade in which the child is placed with the "bad" teacher) and the grades mysteriously drop! Unfortunately, the child may not go back to the straight A's even after moving on to a new teacher. This can be due to falling behind and not being able to catch up, or perhaps because self confidence turns into self doubt. I don't think teachers intend to be "bad" for any child. Sometimes the teaching style just doesn't match the child's learning style. It is unfortunate that in the day of large classes teachers do not take the time to figure out how each student learns (visual, auditory, tactile...) Students are left to figure things out no matter how it is fed to them instead of the teacher adapting to the needs of each child.

What to do? First, follow grades and mood changes very closely so any problems can be caught immediately. If changing teachers is not possible, you will need to assist in every way with homework and checking papers, and any other support you can give. You could also get a tutor if possible and sit in on some of those sessions. Either way, talk positively to your child and never yell or punish. Children never want their grades to drop; there is always a reason. Be encouraging and repeat the "you can do it" messages constantly.

2. Peers

Your child's friends don't have to be "bad" to have what you may consider to be a negative influence. They may simply have different beliefs or priorities that you don't share. Don't get me wrong...this doesn't mean you should ban your child from being friends with anyone who is different from you. Quite the contrary, I think it is very important to not only be around people who are different, but to learn from them. The problem is when your child changes who she is to impress them or feels like she has to change herself to fit in.

What to do if you see your child changing to fit in?
This is going to take lots of talk, talk, talk. Don't ever put others down to show that your way is right; instead ask your child to discuss the differences she sees. What she likes, what makes her uncomfortable, anything at all to get her talking. Explain that there are many differences in people; that's what makes our world so rich. It's okay to learn about the beliefs and ways of others and those people can be great friends as long as they are willing to learn about and respect you too. It's a two way street.

My daughter was always very strong and competitive. In gymnastics she was surrounded by others just like her and she was an achiever. Later, she left gymnastics for dance and acrobatics. She became very good friends with the girls in the dance company. This was also a competitive team, but the girls' priorities were different. They were more into socializing and winning wasn't as important. I watched as my daughter's own priorities changed. She got a dance solo, but didn't practice as hard as she normally would. She started to complain more and didn't put more than 75% into her training when it used to be 110%. When I discussed it with her, she told me that she was afraid that if she worked so hard the other girls would think she was a show off. It took lots of talk for her to understand that the other girls weren't wrong for how they were, but they certainly wouldn't be upset with her for being a winner!

Staying on top of these situations and constantly talking and repeating positive messages can be exhausting, but it is absolutely necessary and isn't it rewarding to see your child not only maintain her bright spirit, but be a leader by passing it onto others?

Friday, December 26, 2008

New Year's Weight Loss: Top 4 Tips for Moms to Lose More

The new "Don't Label Me" book that will be published by Tomgirlz Enterprises in a couple months is all about empowerment for women. Although the book won't be out in time for New Year's, here are some tips provided in the book that may be helpful for your weight loss resolution.

1. Don't Label Yourself as Fat
If you call yourself fat all the time, you will see yourself as fat. This alone can
seriously affect you reaching your goal. The label you give yourself is what you
say you are. Understand that you may need to lose some weight, but fat is not who
you are.

2.Don't Allow Others to Label You
When others refer to you as fat, you subconsciously allow them to tell you that's who you are. You need to ask them to stop. Let them know that you are working on losing weight, but by labeling you as fat, they are making it more difficult.

3. Give Yourself Skinny Self Talk
Let's face it, of all the motivational speaches and pep talks you can get, the ones you give yourself are most important. You need to talk to yourself like the success you are. Give yourself messages like, "I'm a skinny person, I just need to shed a couple of pounds to see her again" or "I am a caring, loving,wonderful person, fat is not who I am, it does not define me, and now I will take care of myself as well as I take care of everyone else!"

4. Diet Plan for the Mind
When it comes to losing weight, I really believe that we all know how we are supposed to eat and exercise. Fewer calories in, more burned off through the day...certainly no cookies, cakes, and ice cream. The problem is, we simply don't (or many say can't). Cravings, pain from exercise, too busy with family and work, these are all "excuses" we use at one time or another. Unfortunately, our weight loss goals will wait. If you want to reach those goals, it all starts in your MIND. How you think must start before what you eat.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

No Labels For Moms Too!

The "no labels" message for children through the TOMGIRLZ chapter book series applies to moms as well. There are plans underway for a book just for moms that will be very inspirational and motivational. This book is in its infancy stage, as I am still writing the next TOMGIRLZ chapter book where children will learn about childhood obesity, teasing, and bullying through a fabulous new Tomgirlz character named Abigail who is dealing with these issues.

The title has already been selected and chapters designated, but I won't give it away yet...check back for more info on this very exciting addition from Tomgirlz Enterprises.