Don’t Fool Yourself! Kid’s Have Elephant Ears and Hear Through Walls!

The girl in my book, The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) could teach her parents so much, if only they would listen! She is not alone. Most, if not all children, are acutely aware of what is wrong in a family, regardless of parent’s efforts to hide their problems. Even if the parents are not overheard through the walls, kids figure out that their is a problem going on. How? Many ways. Just like us, they sense when something is not right. They see facial expressions; they hear tones of voices; they recognize silence as a weapon or possibly a hurt reaction; they hear a door slam; a plate put down too harshly at the dinner table; a parent coming home too late without a good reason. Our behaviors are usually pretty easy to read. Even if a child can’t put into words what or why something is wrong at home, she will still feel that there is something wrong. And the pain for a child can be immense. For example, read what the girl has to say in her diary:

“Last night my parents had a big fight. I could sort of hear them through the walls of my room. My eyes were shut tight but my ears were wide open, like elephant ears, trying to hear every word. I couldn’t, but they made me nervous and I couldn’t sleep. Today in school I was tired. They are the grownups; they shouldn’t have stupid fights that keep me awake. And anyway, nothing gets solved. No one feels better after being yelled at or put down. No one is going to co-operate any better just because you yell at them and tell them all the things they do wrong. Even I know that! I should’ve been able to fall asleep and have sweet dreams! I could teach my mom and dad so much, if only they would listen. Why would a grown-up put down someone he’s supposed to love? I don’t get it. They waste so much time fighting, and before you know it, everyone’s mood is sad or angry and the day is ruined. This is one thing I’m really promising myself to never do! My dad says, “Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.” Well, even though he forgets his own words, I’m going to remember them.”

We need to understand that children want happy endings and everything to be alright. These are normal psychological expectations growing up. They depend on us to create the good times and to keep the household peaceful and a safe place to be. It is a big task when a couple is getting along. It is even a bigger task when there is friction between the parents.

Here are a three suggestions for you, if you and your spouse are struggling as a couple and perhaps it is your child that has elephant ears!

1. Seek professional help. Couple counseling can not only bring happiness back into your lives, but the counselor can help guide you on what to tell your child about your difficulties, how to soothe her, etc.

2. Make an effort to not go down the emotional developmental ladder, when the two of you are upset with each other. That means that your efforts to talk out problems, even if the kids overhear, rather than shouting, going silent, storming out, is the more grown-up decision. It will help show them that you are trying and also give them examples of tools of communication that they will need as grown-ups.

3. Above all try to maintain time with your child that is pleasant and loving. That goes for each parent. If you can not navigate good times together, then at least separately have fun, loving times with your child. She deserves the good times and so do you!

*Watch Julia reading for the girl in the play version of The Truth, The Locket

Selfies – The Good, The Bad And The Dangerous – Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein Urges Caution

Selfies – The Good, The Bad And The Dangerous – Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein Urges Caution –

How To Deal With Tweens And Teens And Romantic Relationships

When it comes to our teens and tweens, there comes a time that nearly every parent dreads. Dating. As our kids get older and begin to grow into themselves, the kinds of relationships they create grow and change with them. They start noticing others in a special kind of way. It’s a critical moment in their lives, and as parents, we need to make sure to be there to guide and comfort them through these times.teenromance

While our kids begin to branch out, its our job to set a good example for them. We can do this with our own relationships. An unhealthy relationship between parents can confuse a child emotionally. The child can find themselves in a relationship that is abusive and be unaware of it because that was the ‘norm‘ in their home. It is not to say that a child from divorced parents or single parents will be destined for failure. A single parent can set a good example using healthy, responsible dating, and divorced parents can set an example by not involving the children in their ‘dirty laundry‘. When they say “children date their parents“, it is absolutely true. Without a doubt, our relationships are the most important aspect that influences our teens and tweens.

With that being said, we also need to watch our teens and tweens for signs of an abusive relationship and help them through any trouble they might be in. We can do this by being understanding of our teens and tweens feelings, listening, sharing helpful advice, and taking appropriate action on ways of getting out of that situation.

As our teens and tweens begin to date, it’s natural for us to want to be involved in every aspect of their lives. This can be difficult and frustrating for us because of many reasons. We may disapprove of their love interest or actions. We may want to give advice and over involve ourselves. This might be off-putting to our teens and tweens because they may not understand why or even want our help.

We need to be open and able to talk to our children about our feelings and what is healthy and what is unhealthy. We need to set clear, concise ground rules about their relationships and what is appropriate for dating. We also need to respect our childrens privacy when it comes to their love life when they ask for it, as long as no one is getting hurt. Finally, as hard as this one may be, we need to allow our children to experience the love and heartache that comes along with a romantic relationship. As much as we feel the need to save them from making mistakes and protect them from every kind of pain that is out there, as parents, we must understand that this is crucial for them to be able to grow into successful adults.

We will talk more about this subject as it is so critical. Meanwhile, maybe share with your kids some of your own memories of your first crush, first date, etc. and help them see that you are real. You have been there! That way they will feel more courageous to open up to you. You may even have fun and a good laugh, sharing these special moments of life that all of us have gone through!

Ellen DeGeneres, Selfies And Narcissism – Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein Makes The Case For The Selfie

Ellen DeGeneres, Selfies And Narcissism – Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein Makes The Case For The Selfie –

Puberty – An Emotional Ride For Us All

pubertyOften enough, puberty is an awkward time for both girls and boys. Hormones are raging, sending us on an emotional roller coaster. Hair begins to grow everywhere, and worst of all.. pimples! They start showing up all over the place! For some, it may seem like our world has come crashing down around us. For others, those lucky tweens and teens, its a beautiful and wonderful experience as we grow into our new selves.

However, puberty isn’t just a difficult time for tweens. This can be just as difficult for parents as well! While we all have gone through this strange, zit-popping, rights-of-passage, as parents we still run into speed bumps when it comes to communicating with our emotion-driven tweens. We need to take a minute and step back when our tween or teen begins to have an emotional meltdown or starts to lock themselves away, and instead of immediately rushing to them and demanding to know whats wrong, and think back to when we were younger and why we reacted the same way.

Here are some of my thoughts on this:

“We as adults have often forgotten about how hard it is to move into adolescence. The body changes alone, are overwhelming. How many of us suffered with pimples, anxieties about getting our period, and all sorts of other issues? Just about all of us, although these issues may seem very far away now. I remember some mood swings that seemed to come out of the blue when I was 11. Hormones raging through my body, I’m sure didn’t help.

We can make the situation a lot more bearable if we share some of our memories about ourselves. Maybe it is even the time to get our the photographs and share stories behind the pictures of us at 11, 12 or 13. Laughing and admitting situations that we may even wish we could forget, give our kids courage to manage and live through growing up.

And good advise can also go along way. When I had such terrible raging moods at 11 my mother got advice from the nurse in the school where she was a teacher. She came home and shared this advice with me, instead of yelling at me for jumping up and down on my bed like a maniac and holding by breath at the same time.

She explained to me that when hormones are changing our moods sometimes can’t keep up with the changes but by the time I would get my period I would actually feel a lot less moody. And she also told me that she wasn’t worried now that she understood where my mood was coming from. So information and compassion were a win-win for both of us.

In summary: Getting and giving accurate advice, and sharing about our own ups and downs as we moved through those years can take the pressure off a lot of what is happening.”

pubertyrollercosterPuberty is difficult on everyone. Especially our kids. If we’re a little more understanding with them and we remember back to when we were going through the same issues as they are now, we can better help them through this time and make them much more successful. After all, we do want them to grow up! In fact, sometimes during those difficult years we wish they would grow up overnight! Just hang in there, time will pass, moods will even out, pimples will be less, and if you show compassion you and your tween or teen may still enjoy these somewhat difficult years.

How My Family and I Experienced Tet, Our Most Important Holiday, by Tieu, Linh, our Teen Journalist from Hai Phong, Vietnam

How My Family and I Experienced Tet, Our Most Important Holiday“Wake up, Mi * !! It’s high time you got up and enjoyed Tết !”

(Tet is the most important national celebration in Vietnam. The full name is Tet Nguyen Dan, which means “Feast of the First Morning of the First Day’. Our Tet has the same objective as the Western World’s New Year. It is a chance to welcome and celebrate the new year and hope for health, luck, happiness and achievements.) And now on to more of my story:

Hearing my dad’s voice, I opened my lazy eyes and tried to drag my body out of the bed. The day was so special. Instead of seeing clunky clouds in the sky and thinking about how to confront another ordinary day, I could feel the sunshine already and see the bright blue sky.

“Well, Tết is here. Light the flame inside you, Linh !”, I whispered to myself.

After having got through all the household chores and getting ready, we left home and got into the green taxi, which had been waiting for a few minutes. At first, we visited pagodas that we knew were where our ancestors are worshipped. Then, we were in the intimidating crowd at Nghe Temple, trying, along with everyone else, to express our respect for General Le Chan, who had founded Haiphong City with the original name “An Bien”.

I gazed at the map of Nghe Temple and made efforts to find out something interesting to meditate upon, although that was not the first time I visited this remarkable temple. Leaving there I was still excited as the day was just beginning to unfold. A wonderful journey was still waiting for us. “Heading your way !!”, I playfully thought.

omnoIt took us about one hour to reach Hai Duong Province. My mother had suggested that we should visit An Phu Temple, or Cao Temple, where Prince Yên Sinh – the first emperor of Trần Dynasty’s elder brother – is worshipped. It was quite hot, different from the usual rainy and wet weather of Tet in Vietnam. Hot, and tiring. The temple is located right on top of the mountain, so we had to climb – to be more exact, walk many steps – to eyewitness the ancient beauty of An Phu Temple.

We took numerous photos, and I followed my parents to explore the structure of Cao Temple.  I smelled the ancient, orthodox scent of incense sticks visitors had burnt. Not very sweet-  smelling, but it reminded me of the solemn atmosphere at a sacred place.

I memorized some historical events that had happened to Prince Yên Sinh, shaking my head as  I realized the irony of what he had been compelled to suffer.

Saying goodbye to An Phu Temple, we left Hai Duong Province for Haiphong City again. But, we stopped at Do Son District to visit Ba De Temple, which is situated near the sea. “Up to the forest, down to the sea”, this is the saying that most depicted our travels. Ba De Temple is associated with a love story between a powerful king and a beautiful and glamorous commoner, who ended up suffering.

After finishing all the holy procedures, we went down to the sea and felt extremely refreshed to take photos, draw on the sand and join in some activities which were kinds of horseplay. I constantly had a bee in my bonnet about the unlucky fate of the beautiful commoner and I could understand how painful women’s lives were and are when they had and have to live amongst male chauvinists.How My Family and I Experienced Tet, Our Most Important Holiday

I’m still lucky, and I think I ought to look up to my life better. And that’s the truth.

PS *: () Mi is the name that my intimates call me at home.

What is a special trip you have taken with friends or family? Share with us. We want to share meaningful experiences that girls have from around the world. Send your e-mail to

Linh is The Truth for Girls first international young journalist. From Vietnam, she was given a copy of The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) by her mom, translated into Vietnamese. She loved the story and found my e-mail address at the back of the book. She wrote to me and I answered. That was the beginning of a three year correspondence. As I realized how perceptive Linh is and how versatile her Englih is, I invited her to write articles for other girls around the globe who follow The Truth! We hope you enjoy her article about New Year’s in Vietnam that follows. And remember The Truth is always ready for more young girls from around the world to be journalists. If you are interested write to me, Dr. Barbara at .

‘Getting our Tweens and Teens’ Can We Do a Better Job in How We Communicate?

growingupOne thing I find over and over again is that Parents don’t seem to “get” their teens and tweens, and vice versa. There seems to be miscommunication going on. A teen or tween misbehaves and doesn’t understand why the parent is upset, while the parent doesn’t understand why their teen/tween can’t follow direction after being told several times. Often it’s not because the child in question wants to misbehave, and it’s not because the Parent is a ” bad” parent.

It’s the approach. We as Parents and caregivers need to take the negativity out of it when we talk to our children, even when disciplining. For example, try the sandwich method: First give some positive feedback: “I was so proud of you when you got that 100 on your spelling test a few weeks ago. Second give the bad news: If you can’t seem to find time to do your homework and your marks keep reflecting that, we will have to limit your time on playing video games. Now the rest of the sandwich: We really believe you can make better use of your time and get back on track to get good marks on your homework. If you need our help, just ask. We are here for you!

Here’s another of my thoughts on this:

It is so important to be a role model to your teen! It is not only what we say and how well we listen, but how we live our own lives. That means it does matter how gracious we are, how kind we are, whether we are generous of spirit and eager to not hold grudges or be petty. It does matter what we say, but often it matters just as much on how we say it. Can we cushion a criticism with some sweet honey? Can we wait until the right moment to say something personal when no one else is listening? It all matters!

Yes, all of the above does take practice. Learning to control our rage, our disappointment, our anger and instead finding ways to speak to our kids at the right moment, with supportive yet realistic reactions to their behaviors is almost an art form. But then again, helping a kid grow up successfully is like being a great artist. Every remark, every activity we do with them, every hug we give them are all the next tiny strokes in turning out a marvelous human being! Isn’t the time and effort worth it?

Valentine’s Day For Divorced Women – Positive Psychologist Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein Offers Tips

Valentine”s Day For Divorced Women – Positive Psychologist Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein Offers Tips –

Positive Psychologist And Author Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein Offers 8 Tips To Overcome Holiday Blues

Positive Psychologist And Author Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein Offers 8 Tips To Overcome Holiday Blues –