I’m Impressed: Sondra Clark, 77Creative Ways Kids Can Serve

Last Friday, March 14, 2008 I had the pleasure of interviewing 18 year old Sondra Clark on my radio show, Kids, Tweens and Teens, A Positive Psychologist Looks at All Three. This show is archived on www.internetvoicesradio.com Sondra has been writing books since she was 8. That alone, would make her exceptional. However, what is even more fascinating is that so much of her work is the kind of outreach work that people three times her age are involved in. She volunteers and she teaches other kids how to find ways to volunteer and to be good citizens. For example, take a look at her new book, 77 Creative Ways Kids can Serve. Her ideas are wonderful. How about “Preparing Birthday Bags for Kids in Shelters”? It is a great idea. Or “Promote Senior Computer Skills”? Another great idea as kids know so much more than we do about computers.

It was my pleasure to interview her and learn more of her upbringing, adventures, plans and ideas. I hope you will listen to the show and get to know Sondra, also. She is a special young woman.

The Harder I Work, The Luckier I Get!

10aThe Harder I Work, The Luckier I Get!  I think there is a lot of wisdom in that phrase.  Wisdom that we should be passing on to kids, tweens and teens.  As a positive psychologist, and author of The Truth, (I’m a girl, I’m ten and I know everything) I know only too well that lots of people suffer in life because they haven’t learned and practiced the skills they need to succeed.  It is great to have a dream. But it is even better to be developing the skills that can make the dream come true.  You know how they say it looks so easy to be a ballet dancer, or concert pianist.  Well, we also all know how deceiving looks can be.  Have you ever tried to stand on your toes?  Or played the piano without lessons?  It is very hard.

So be a good mentor to someone else or yourself.  Get the right information to succeed in whatever you are doing or encouraging someone else to do.  See what education, training, mentoring, advice, skills, tools, etc. are involved and help either your dreams or someone else’s dreams come true.  And guess what?  You will have good luck!

Crushes, We all have had them

20aAs most of my readers know, I’m a positive psychologist.  I’m fascinated with lots of the universal struggles that most of us seem to go through.  One that I find repeated again and again is the secret crush that tweens and teens often have.  Almost everyone has been there and it can be very exciting but also very painful.  Whenever I do a workshop women in the audience always have their stories to tell about early crushes and the fun, adventures and sometimes misadventures that happened. In my new book, The Truth, (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) the girl is very involved in her head and her heart with her crush.  It is much more major than her mother wants it to be and it takes over a lot of her inner life.  The girl can hardly concentrate on her school work when she thinks about Paul and she can’t imagine growing up and not marrying him.  One of the themes in this book is how the girl finally comes to terms with her crush, as she must.  Have you had an early crush? Can you share the story about your early crush? Are there other books out there that have a main character that is a tween or young teen with a crush?  What are they and did you enjoy the book? Let’s chat about this subject.

Two and One Half Men may be funny but what is the show saying about schools and tweens?

13bTonight, Monday evening, I happened to catch some of Two and One Half Men on CBS.  It is a modern day comedy-a far cry from I Love Lucy that I so loved to watch on Monday nights at 9:00 PM so many years ago.  That show had an innocense that Two and One Half Men lacks.  However, it is a different era.  And that’s what made tonight’s show so poignant, in terms of being a tween.  The youngster, who is the son of one of the characters and the nephew of the other is going to Junior High or Middle School-I didn’t catch which.  So the men are taking him shopping.  They make him buy old people’s looking sneakers so no one will try to beat him up and steal his sneakers.  They make him buy beige pants because no gang members wear beige.  By the time they put him on the school bus he looks scared to death.  As they walk away, one of the men remarks, “We’ve done all we could do, now it’s up to him.”

And I suppose that is true.  We have done or not done what we can and now our tweens are out in our society, sometimes scared to death, exposed to pressures and worries that we would never have dreamed of as children.  This is not good for them.  Kids are still developing emotionally and physically.  Having the pressures on them that someone might beat them up for their sneakers or simply beat them up because the other guy is in a gang is frightening.

Even though the ‘girl’ in my new book, The Truth, I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything, lives in a simpler time, she gives parents and tweens a great chance to talk about so many ’scary’ and complicated subjects.  She is also worried about transitioning, just like the boy in the show.  She also wants friends and to fit in. Sometimes it is easier to talk about important subjects when we simplify the setting.  That’s what I did in this book.  The Truth gives us direct access to look at all the issues surrounding growing up.  And we should!  Our tweens deserve it!

A Fourteen year old boy in Pasadena agrees with the ‘girl’ in The Truth, (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) And the truth is it is not nice to swear

Gosh darn! Cussing banned in California town-taken from CNN news

18aSouth Pasadena declares first week of March as No Cussing Week

Mayor hopes proclamation will “elevate the level of discourse”

Anti-swearing drive started with teen who founded high school’s No Cussing Club

This news is so exciting.  As a positive psychologist, a school psychologist, a mom and a grandma, I’m thrilled to read about a 14 year old boy having the courage and conviction to come out loud and clear that cussing is not necessary, not nice and we can handle ourselves in more refined ways!  Congratulationgs to him.  I was tickled to see this special week happening in California.  In my new book, The Truth, (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) the girl is very upset when a cousin comes to visit who swears all the time.  She knows it isn’t nice and it doesn’t feel good to listen to the language.  How is it that so many of us Americans have forgotten when children know to be true?  I hope we can all practice no cussing days, everyday!

Bullying increases risk of depression and more

bulliedI heard on ABC Now News today that bullying can increase the risk of depression and even suicide.  These are serious findings. For more information fo to www.abc.com and go to the on call section. Every day, in every way possible we need to help kids, teens and tweens to not be bullied.  We also need to help the bully so he or she doesn’t have the rage or hurt inside to be a bully.  We have a big task but we can do it.

Here are some pointers: 1.  In your family life don’t make fun of each other or bully.  Remember that kids model what they see!

17a2.  If you child talked about a bully in school or the neighborhood LISTEN and stay alert.  If you see any changes in your child, even small ones like leaving the dinner table early, talk to her and see what is going on.

3.  Remember you are the grown-up and take responsibility if necessary.  If you think you had better speak to a teacher, guidance counselor or principal about your child being bullied or your child showing some traits as a bully, do it!

Tweens will always give us wild rides but as parents we can handle it!

16ahttp://www.goodhousekeeping.com/family/tweens/

Jan Singer wrote a wonderful blog entry today on her tween son who give her a ‘wild ride’ as most tweens do.  Here is my response:

I’ve been a psychologist in private practice for over 25 years and a school psychologist.  I don’t have a tween boy, but soon I’ll have a grandson getting near 8-12.  But may I comment on Jen’s little story about her tween son?  It is a wonderful example of how we will think we are ‘getting’ it about our tween and then suddenly there is a whole twist that we missed.  The good news is that Jen and her family handled her son in a positive way.  And that is the bottom line emotionally.  When I wrote, The Truth, (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) the girl is 10 also.

And she also is having thoughts, feelings and insights totally unique to her that the family is missing.  I made sure that she did as a character because since this is a mother-kid book I wanted there to be a lot of room for discussion and mutual understanding. For example, Jen’s post raises questions such as: How do we treat our tweens even if we don’t understand them?  What do we react to?  What do we let go? When do we permit ourselves to have a secret chuckle over what our kid did or said?  When do we shed a secret tear and then try to get in there with a different approach?  Yes, it is an endless array of moments, insights, realizations and reactions when there is a tween in the house-be it a boy or girl.  Hurray for Jen and her son-they are just doing fine and he will probably grow up loving music and who knows, be a great composer!

Mean Girls, a Positive Psychologist speaks up and so does a girl from the book, The Truth, (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know Everything)

The Truth, (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything)2a

Things I promise to do when I grow up:

I’ll travel a lot, I won’t look away when my kids ask me tough questions

I’ll answer truthfully, I won’t swear

I won’t get into silly fights with my husband…

The ‘girl’s’ list from my new book, The Truth, (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) could go on and on.  She knows so clearly what has come into her life that didn’t feel right-parents who didn’t have the time to really hear her.  Parents that fought too often.  People in her life that somehow, whether with our without meaning to, distorted the truth, and people who did unpleasant behaviors such as swearing.  All of these external actions led to internal reactions which were painful to her.

As a positive psychologist I hypothesize that MEAN GIRLS don’t just wake up mean.  I believe that they too, have been exposed to too much that began to hurt just too deeply-and then finally one day, they began to give back.  And the result is a MEAN GIRL.  Perhaps the girl was teased unmercifully, or she came from a household that had too much conflict, or she had no one that really understood her needs.  That doesn’t get a MEAN GIRL off the hook and I agree with the information shown on Prime Time 20-/20 show this week on February 26th, 2008 that parents must work with their daughters and help them fend off the MEAN GIRLS.  And who best to give strategies, than one’s parents!  But also we need to look at the societal factors in the world around us to see what we can all do to help both the MEAN GIRL and the girl being teased.  I’ll talk about these factors in other blog entries.  But one sure factor is to keep tweens busy and engaged and excited about what they are learning and doing.  For example, a girl caring for a horse every day after school will probably not have the time to think about becoming mean-unless someone is not nice to her horse.  And then you had better watch out!  But that makes sense and sometimes we are reactive because that is exactly the right way to be!

What do you think?

Tween Girls Bullish on Fashion Fantasy Game: Online Fashion Game Gains New Entrepreneurs

With Permission from anastasiya-landa.deviantart.comWonderful article the The Earth Times.  You can find it at .  My congratulations.  Tweens need activities that allow them positive creative outlets.  What little girl hasn’t wanted to be a ballerina, or a princess?  And what tween hasn’t wanted to be something like a fashion designer?  Well, now it seems girls can get a safe way of learning not only about designing clothes but running a business.  As a positive psychologist, I know this type of learning experience is exactly what girls need between the ages of 8-14.  Your daughter may end up becoming an engineer or a physician or a graphic artist, but the confidence she can learn and the fun she can have in doing an activity that stretches her imagination will never be lost.

In my new book, The Truth, (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) the girl is so excited to meet any challenge that stretches her thinking and yet keeps her feeling girly, girl at the same time.  That is probably why she loves Nancy Drew mysteries.  She gets such a kick out of solving them, before Nancy Drew!  And that’s why lots of girls are sure to feel excited playing this new game.

Actually, this on-line fashion designing game appeals to the girl inside of me.  I wonder if older women can sign up?