Author Dr Barbara Becker Holstein talks about children’s anxieties and how to help

Secret Diary Entry not in The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything).

I just finished reading A Summer Camp Miracle Story. Angela said she loved the book so I borrowed it from her. In the story Jackie goes away to camp and has all sorts of adventures, both bad and good. She wins an award for paddling a canoe the fastest and she makes lots of friends. But something bad happens. She almost drowns in the deep end of the lake. It’s a long story. She gets saved by the senior life guard and has fun at the hospital having her lungs checked out cause she swallowed so much water.

I don’t think I should have read the book. It made me so afraid. I’ve always been a little afraid of swimming in deep water and now I’m really scared. I don’t want to go to the beach this summer. What am I going to do? Kids are supposed to love to go to the beach. Who can I tell that I am pertrified? I don’t want to die that way.

I can’t tell Angela. She’ll think I’m a baby! I can’t tell me mother she will tell me I’m being ridiculous and that I’m a good swimmer.
I can’t tell my dad cause he was so proud of me when I passed the intermedite swimming test.

It’s times like this I don’t know what to do with myself. Can you help me Dear Diary?

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We often forget that kids have lots of fears and concerns. Even something they have appeared to have mastered can worry them again. They get triggered by upsetting information just as we do. The girl was triggered by reading a story where a child almost drowned. Even though the girl in the story was fine, the girl was left with increased anxiety and concern. And to top it off, she didn’t know where to turn.

We have to make sure as parents, teachers, grandparents, etc. that we are there for kids to turn to. We need to be alert to mood changes and/or remarks. Hopefully, the girl will get up her courage and ask the right person, or one of her parents will notice that she looks upset. Our job in real life is not to leave a child to just roam freely with anxiety and concerns. Our job is to pick up on nuances and spend enough time with our kids that we help to quiet the fear.

Great books for girls contain universal truths, as does The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything)

Do you remember as a child knowing the truth about a lot of things? I remember clearly. It may have been something small, like the litter in a public restroom. I knew at six that people should have made sure the litter got into the pail. Sometimes I even picked up other people’s paper towels to make sure. If my mother had seen me, she might have been rightly concerned about germs!

I also remember knowing that a lot of the fights my mother and father had and even fights I heard my grandmother and grandfather having were silly and not worth it. I wanted to stop them, but I didn’t have the power. However, I did promise myself that I wouldn’t fight over stupid things when I grew up.

Did I keep my promise? Somewhat. I wish I could say 100% but life is tough and I didn’t realize as a kid that I would still have to deal with moods and emotions when I was a grown-up.

In my book, The Truth, the girl makes a lovely list of the things she promises to do when she grows up. It is simple and rings true. Here is her list: Things for Grownups to Remember: Don’t be mean to animals; Try not to swear for a month; Don’t fight with anyone you love; Don’t put people down or call them names; Believe your child if she tells you she is in love; Answer a kid’s questions; Listen to their ideas.

It’s a good list for even us grown-ups. We might not always succeed but trying is better than not. And the world will be a better place! So let’s put our best foot forward.

Our kids will thank us, so will animals, so will people we don’t fight with and think how nice everything will feel without much swearing going on!

The Truth for Girls are Universal Truths Ring a Bell for All

In one of my interviews on Askimo televison I answered many questions, including but not limited to:

How does our behaviour as children have a bearing on how we will be as adults?
How will understanding your 12 year old self impact your life positively now?
How does shyness affect us as adults?
How can we connect with our inner child?
How can we nurture the best of ourselves as we grow older?
Can we hold on to the energy and confidence we had as a child?

I want us as paretns and grownupse to realize that the way we were as kids affects the way we behave as adults and even our feelings and emotions. At the same time we need to honor aspects of ourselves that are part of our history as they contain the strengths, talents and potential that often lie dormant and you might even say, afraid to come out, within us. Our ‘inner child’ is calling out to us on many occasions. We need to learn how to listen and turn on our inner resources, no matter what our age.

On the other hand, we have to always remember to listen and connect to our children and grandchildren. The ways we handle them will have an affect on their strengths, talents and potential for the rest of their lives! There is no way around bringing up a child. Ignoring a child or not treating a child appropriately always has lasting consequences.

In The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) the girl speaks from her heart in her diary about all her struggles and her successes growing up. She is speaking The Truth for Girls for all young girls. She resonates so much with us because her voice is an universal voice. We all had hopes and dreams and problems growing up. And we all wanted to be heard. And we still want to be heard and understood as adults. These are the simple truths that make the world go round! Let’s keep it turning at full potential!

Good Girl Books Help Girls Grow Up Strong and Happy, such as The Truth

For a girl to grow up strong and happy in today’s world she needs all the assistance she can get. Hopefully, she will have good parents who love her and are devoted to her care. Hopefully, she will have a chance to receive a good education. She will also need good health care, a safe place to live, clean water and good food, lots of loving relatives and good neighbors. Of course, she will also need friends that don’t bully and opportunities that cater to her particular talents, interests and potential.

This does sound like a lot, and I guess that is why they say ‘it takes a whole village to raise a child’.

Thankfully, lots of us do manage to grown up to be grown-ups in pretty good shape. Sometimes it is almost a mircle.

But one thing that really helps the process are good books to read that help a girl grow socially, emotionally and intellectually. There are many.

As a positive psychologist I did feel though that we are lacking in books written to help girls grow up feeling strong, happy and sure of themselves. Books that could really take a girl in and let her identify with another girl who manages to conquer all the negatives in her life and stay whole. Books written by a psychologist!

I decided to fill that gap, at least in part, with The Truth Series. In these books, The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) and Secrets (You tell me yours and I’ll tell you mine…maybe), we get to know a girl, inside out.

Good Girl Books include The Truth and Secrets

You may be wondering about the purpose of The Truth for Girls. This is where as a positive psychologist and an educator I showcase two great books for girls, The Truth (‘m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) and Secrets: You Tell Me Yours and I’ll Tell You Mine…maybe. These books, part of The Truth Series, are diaries written by a girl who encapsulates the hopes, dreams and reality issues that young women face growing up. She is wise and yet still a child struggling with every growing up issue from crushes, to sibling problems, parental fights, having to move, a death in the extended family, a new baby, girlfriend problems, bullying, trouble in school, and having to figure out a way to grow up strong, happy and resourceful. The girl gives kids, parents and teachers a way to enter into fruitful discussions around all of these critical subjects.

How can we not be influenced by a young girl who has the courage to remind us that it is painful to listen to swearing. It is painful to have a teacher who is dismissive of our thoughts and answers. It is painful to have parents fighting over trivial subjects. And it is painful to worry about growing up and not feel that there is anyone who can take the time to really listen or to answer questions.

Also, how can we not fall in love with a girl who has such courage and determination to make the most out of her life? Whether it is a small thing like feeling the wind as she rides her bike down a hill, or a big thing like finding a way to hold on to some secrets that make it easier to grow up, she is going to be a winner. And isn’t that what we want for all of our kids?

The Truth is We Need Our Inner Child All of Our Lives for Energy, Creativity and More!

I wrote The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) for many reasons.  Perhaps the most important was to help girls hold on to their inner child as they grow up and to help us adults get back to your inner child.  Did you realize how precious she really is? 

Do you realize that she holds many of your dreams, your wishes, your hopes, your aspirations?  She even holds your strengths and potential.  She has your coping skills all neatly there from childhood if you need to grab them again!  She can guide your to what will bring you true happiness.

Find out what I mean in the following video I need for Askimotv.

I Have a Secret to Share About Myself!

When I was in the third grade I couldn’t read and I was ashamed. I pretended to read by trying to memorize some pages in the reader. I sat in agony hoping the teacher didn’t call on me. Phonics just made no sense to me. I couldn’t understand what the teacher was trying to teach when she gave us different sounds that different letters made. I loved Miss Johnson, my teacher, but school was scary. Someday everyone would realize that I couldn’t really read past the first grade level!

But Miss Johnson was going to save me! And that is what you will find out now by listening to my video. She saw more than I realized and she knew how to turn a deficit into a talent!

And see, not only was I saved, but I ended up writing two easy to read books for girls and tweens, The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) and Secrets: You tell me yours and I’ll tell you mine…maybe, so that other kids could feel comfortable reading about growing up in a way that didn’t task their reading skills! There is enough in life to task all of us!

VALENTINE’S DAY CAN BE AWFUL OR WONDERFUL!

Sometimes as parents or teachers or grandmoms we forget the pain and suffering that go with certain milestones in growing up. One of those milestones is Valentine’s Day. In America we celebrate the day with fervor and make a lot out of it.

I remember in elementary school it was very important to me that my mother let me buy packages of Valentine’s for the whole class. Some years they were finished Valentine’s and some years I had to punch them out of the paper that held them. And some were more personal than others with cute sayings. I would have a method to my madness and of course my closest friends got the most pretty and personal cards. I supposed most of the kids had the same method. And there in lay the first potential trauma of that day. Would my best friend Lynne, send me one of her best?
I would only know once the Valentine Box had been opened and some lucky child was picked to be the first person to hand out Valentine’s. That was a treat also. Sometimes I was chosen, but often not. It only took 4 or 5 children to get them all passed out. I was only at peace that day when I opened my Valentine’s and felt remembered.

My video is here to remind all of us grown-ups that children have very deep and powerful feelings:

The Girl had a crush which even made her feelings more dramatic on Valentine’s Day. Not all girls and tweens have crushes. But still be sensitive to the fact that the girls in your life may take Valentine’s Day very seriously. Here are a couple of suggestions to weather the day:
1. Make sure you have remembered the girl(s) in your life in a way that she will feel very special.
2. Be sensitive to her feelings as the day approaches. Maybe share your own memories about the holiday.
3. Ask her if you can help her in any way. Maybe she would love to make cookies or fudge for her special friends and you can have some fun in the kitchen together!
4. Most of all, make sure she knows that she is Your Valentine!
~ © Barbara Becker Holstein .

Helping Your Daughter Have a Positive Identity Within Her Family and Her Community.

  • The ‘girl’ in The Truth and Secrets wants to know more about her family. She is close to her mother’s sister, Aunt Belinda, and her Grandmother who she adores.
  • But on her father’s side she only knows her father’s cousin George, who she doesn’t like much at all. (Mostly because he swears a lot).
  • She wonders what her father’s family is really like. Why doesn’t he talk more about his childhood and his parents? Are there secrets?
  • She feels happy to have a loving grandma and aunt but she wants more.
  • And her dad is talking about moving! Yikes! So, if they move, she will loose her friends. This is not good.

Discussion:
How could her parents help her to feel better connected to her extended family?

How can they also reassure her about the family moving and how she will fit into a new school or circle of friends? Anyone have any ideas?

Now on to Your Daughter: How can you help your daughter feel connected in healthy ways to both sides of her family?

How can you help her to stay connected to appropriate friends also, whether you are moving or staying where you live? You may find the following video helpful:

The Puberty Roller Coaster: Growing Up is Hard!

In Secrets: You Tell Me Yours and I’ll Tell You Mine, the girl really worries about getting older and how hard it will be to be a teen. She is very aware. Aren’t all of our girls? She is writing a lot of songs, a few of them appear in the book. In one of the songs she says:

“What is in store for me as I get older?
How can I leave behind so much of me?”

Yes, we do leave behind parts of ourselves at each transition in life. And of course, we get new aspects to ourselves. It is very hard to transition.  If you have had to move as an adult, or started a new job, or maybe lived through a marriage that fell apart, you know how terribly hard transitions can be. However, sometimes we forget how hard it is to grow up.  It is but a distant memory as we go through our busy days.  Yet we need to remember and to find ways to help our kids transition.

Can you remember being a kid moving toward puberty, and the teen years?  I am asking readers for input.  Here is what one reader shared:

    “When I was growing up I felt like I couldn’t do anything right. My parents were not ever happy and I was always fighting with my brother and sister. The cool kids in school made fun of me because I was little heavy and most of my clothes were made by my mother or grandmother. We didn’t have a lot of money, in fact I cannot ever remember a time growing up where my parents weren’t worried about how they would pay the bills and put food on the table.

    I was thankful that they made my clothes (and in some varity of my favorite color – red) and I wore them proudly but the feelings of shame and confusion because of the kids at school put me in an emotional whirlwind. Sometimes I didn’t know if I was coming or going!

    I was worried about it getting worse as I approached middle school and having older kids around that would probably push me about and make fun of me as well. I was scared to death of getting older and things getting worse. I just couldn’t see that life is what I make of it and if I’m not happy with something then I’m the only one who can change it. At that age you are more worried about what your friends think, what rumors are being spread, your school work, and trying to have a little peace and harmony at home then to look at how you can better your own situation and emotional chaos.

    Then there was my little sister who got away with everything, blamed me for the things she actually gets in trouble for and who I had to share everything with. We shared a room, had bunk beds, and I never had my own play things. In fact I was stuck with my sister in the same room until I was 17 and my older brother moved out but that is a story for another day and a whole different set of problems.

    Growing up is hard, but I think if we stay positive and teach our kids that if they think positive and work towards shaping their life to how they desire it to be instead of following the herd that they can be happy, even during the emotional roller coaster of puberty!”

What a moving story. Our reader overcame many obstacles. And the truth is that most of us do come through puberty and grow up with strong resources, some degree of optimism, humor, caring for others, the capacity to love and many other great traits.  But it isn’t easy, and we owe it to our girls to help them through the process with wisdom and support.  That’s what I do in my work as a positive psychologist.  You  may be doing it as a parent, aunt, teacher, guidance counselor, grandparent.

Try reading passages together with your youngster from either The Truth or Secrets.  You will find it fascinating, as feelings and thoughts and memories start to be exchanged.  This is one of the most therapeutic ways to make sure you have really ‘heard’ and understand your youngster and the bonus is she gets a better chance to ‘hear’ and understand YOU!  It is a win, win for both.

The Truth: I’m a Girl, I’m Smart, and I Know Everything
(now available as an ebook or a paperback)