Who has the time to focus on a child’s emotional and developmental needs? Certainly oftentimes not the parent. Most parents are frazzled, living on the edge of exhaustion and deep into multi-tasking. Parents are of course responsible for all the basics that a child needs. They provide the housing, the trips to the pediatrician, the late night soothing after a bad dream, the trips to the mall for school clothing, and most of the daily needs that children have, such as getting a ride to school, and sitting at the table for dinner.

But who has the time for the magical moment with a child? Who has the time to really listen to what she is saying and even write it down, next to a digital picture of the moment when it was said? Probably not the child’s mom or dad. And who has the time to help her develop the social and intellectual skills she really will need to be a good citizen?

Most likely it will be the grandparent. That is, if you realize how important you are, and you take the time to step up to the plate. It is you who can have the magical moments with your grandchild-find those flowers to press and start the rock collection and sit in the window seat chatting about how it was to grow up long ago. And in grabbing those magical moments you do something else. You will be doing a great service to the next generation. You will be helping them grow in three basic ways that no one else in the world may have the time or patience to attend to. Here they are:

1.You can help her develop her curiosity. Nothing stirs the mind to be curious than someone else so fascinated by a subject that you just have to learn more. You have the time to be fascinated and to pass that feeling along. For example, just learning how to grow tomatoes in a barrel can be interesting and exciting for both you and your grandchild. Or you could have a neighbor that speaks in sign language and be determined to learn some. And that curiosity that you have will rub off on your grandchild. She will be interested in others as she grows up. She will see the world as a multi-faceted marvelous place that you have helped her notice!

2. You can help your grandchild develop her intellect. Whether you live around the corner or thousands of miles away, you can send your grandchild books, interesting articles, puzzles, games, etc. And you can make sure that when you are with her you teach her lots of stuff. You can discuss the news, find countries on the globe, play word and number games, read plays aloud. All is good for developing the mind and expanding the mind so that your grandchild will think beyond her direct environment.

3. You can help your grandchild develop her social skills. You have the time to teach her manners-how to set a table. How to open a door for grown-ups. You can take her out to eat, even if it is at the local diner. And you can teach her how to read a menu, eat with intention and enjoyment, make good conversation as she eats, etc. You can teach her how to ballroom dance. Or maybe square dance. You can take her to meet your friends or to do good needs. She can help you at the local food canteen or socialize with your friends.

And what is the result? Your grand child will grow up to be a fine, caring, knowledgeable person with a desire to help others and be able to socialize with people of all ages. Not a bad accomplishment!


Sometimes, as a Grandparent, you may think you are dispensable. You are kidding yourself. Even grandparents that are visited once a year or even less frequently leave a remarkable imprint on a grandchild’s life and have an important role to play. We know some of the reasons why. For one thing, most grandparents give off a sense of love and adoration for the grandchild that few parents have the energy or interest to sustain. Also, grandparents are good at providing extra treats, often coming through with a special gift or the money for a science camp, a trip to Disneyland or some other experience in life that the parents simply can’t or don’t feel obliged to offer. Lastly, grandparents are so interesting. They may live in houses or apartments that feel from another time. For example, they still may have a record player in the closet with a bunch of rock and roll records on the shelf or maybe opera’s. It doesn’t matter, it is just so much not where the child lives every day. And the TV has a giant back to it! There are old pictures on the tables and somewhere in the back of a closet are white leather gloves that great grandma wore on her wedding day!

But even beyond what I am mentioning so far, grandparents have influence that can be critical. Grandparents have that extra pair of eyes that parents have often sacrificed in the line of daily duty and upkeep of the children. By this I mean that they come to the family and the kids, often with fresh eyes. As the newcomer who may not have visited for a week, or a year, they often immediately can tell when something is off. Parents can miss these subtleties. We know that human nature acclimates to an awful lot. A quick test of this innate quality is suddenly looking at pictures of yourself from a couple of years ago. Suddenly a current look in the mirror reflects aging or at least change. On a daily basis we don’t see change.

So when grandma or grandpa come to visit or you visit them and the smell a rat, listen with every fiber in your body.

And grandma, when Abigail slams the door and doesn’t seem quite right, get ready to put on your detective eyeglasses and play sleuth. You may be even instrumental in the saving of your grandchild’s life, or at least her sense of well-being.

You don’t believe me? Well, stay with me and we will discuss Seven Ways that Grandparents Can Help Their Grandchildren Grow up Strong, Safe and Happy!

Child and Teen Obesity and Eating Disorders are a National Issue That We Can Help, says Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein

Fiction writing has given me, a positive psychologist and educator, a way of providing self-help information and support to girls, tweens, teens and the adults in their lives. There are so many topics to tackle: bullying,family dysfunction, relocation, crushes and of course body issues. In The Truth Series, the girl faces and handles many of these issues. It is in the second book, Secrets: You Tell Me Yours and I’ll Tell You Mine…maybe!, when she is 13, that she begins her own journey with how she perceives and handles her body. She becomes convinced that her derriere is too large and…But I’ll let you read that for yourself.

The important point is that I put theses episodes about body image into Secrets and some questions at the end of the book for further thought and discussion, because we have a National Epidemic going on. Between real obesity in children and the perception of being overweight, whether in fact true or not, that can lead to various forms of eating disorders, we have a big problem on our hands.

On television newscasters remark that movie theaters are losing money as they have to change the seats in the cinema to now be 21 inches wide, rather than 19 inches. This is but one tiny result of a culture that is having problems with eating throughout the lifespan.

Of course, as a psychologist and educator, I am on the front lines with tips and advice for you, so you can help your children grow up strong, resilient, confident of their self-image and themselves, not obese and without eating disorders. Let’s hope they can indeed, fit into cinema seats that don’t have to be widened.

Tips for Parents around Raising Strong Healthy Children, in both Mind and Body:

1. Praise your children for their positive actions, behaviors and words. Make it clear that their response to life as a good citizen and a loving family member is much more important than their looks or body type.

2. Don’t compare or judge people’s looks or bodies. Rather point out a person’s fine character trait or a good deed that a person has done. Your children are always listening to you and what you say, even if you think they are blocking you out! Your attitude very much influences how they will perceive others and themselves.

3. Show your children by your own eating habits, that you recognize the need for eating healthy foods. If you are out of control around certain foods and habits, what message is that sending to your kids?

4. Consider planting a small garden or learning more about the foods we eat with your children. This can be a fun activity like visiting a potato chip factory, or something more serious, like learning about the differences between organic farming and non-organic farming.

5. Cook up delicious meals, at least on occasion, and let the kids help. It can be fun to fine recipes together and shop for the ingredients as a family outing. Praise them for their help and don’t get caught up in the milk that spills or the egg that fell and cracked on the floor.

6. And of course, if you child is suddenly gaining or losing weight or showing any form of eating disorder, talk to her pediatrician immediately.

These are but a few suggestions. I bet you have some other suggestions. Please feel free to add your suggestions in a comment.

Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein, author of Secrets: You Tell Me Yours and I’ll Tell You Mine…maybe, comments on the New York Times article, Online Bullies Pull Schools Into the Fray

The girl in Secrets: You Tell me Yours and I”ll Tell You Mine…maybe! has to deal with a lot of stuff. She has to adjust to a new middle school, leaving behind all her friends. She has family problems and issues. No one really understands her and she worries about keeping her best friend. And on top of that she has a crush that seems to be going nowhere.

But one thing she doesn”t have to worry night and day about is serious and potentially dangerous bullying. That is because she lives thirty years ago, when many of us parents grew up. She lives with telephones and television. Can you remember those days? Remember when a tiny note rolled up and passed along in class could be devastating? Or someone changing tables in the cafeteria as you sat down could be a message that hurt for months? These sorts of events were awful and you may have cried yourself to sleep on several occasions.

But just magnify that by 1000 and you get closer to what today”s kids have to deal with. The New York Times article brilliantly outlines the typical nightmares that many kids of today face and also the difficulties that schools have in curbing much of it. After all, schools of today, just as 30 years ago, can”t control what happens after school or on the weekend.

As a psychologist and school psychologist I take very seriously what is happening to today”s kids. Parents and schools need to respond and act, not just react. Here are some tips for you as a parent:

You, as a parent, are on the front lines of your child”s development. That means:

Making yourself available to your child at meals, in the car, in the evening when possible, and on the weekends. Here is how:

Basic Rule: Don”t use cell phones, phones, or computers when your child is expecting and may need connection, help, advice or simply love from you.

Will this be a big change for you? Maybe. But it is essential. Research shows and we can figure this out for ourselves, kids don”t like it when their parents are only giving them partial concentration.

Ways to start: Don”t talk on your cell in the car anymore when your child is with you. Also, it will make you also a safer driver.

Don”t bring any cell phones, etc. to the dinner table with you.

Don”t answer the phone during mealtime, unless an emergency is going on.

Make sure you have meals with your kid at least three nights a week.

In the evening when kids need help with homework, etc. try reading a book or doing any project that you can instantly turn away from as you go in and out of their space.

Plan weekend time as a family. During that time, whether it is a picnic or visiting a relative, set aside only brief times when any of you can use technology. Try talking, laughing, telling jokes, reminiscing. These things have worked for centuries!

I”ll be back with more tips. Remember, the child you are protecting is your own! It is worth the effort.

Welcome Changes Radio host Velma Gallant interviews exciting and dynamic guests such as New York Times best selling author, Neale Donald Walsch, Mike Dooley from “The Secret”, and Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein! Read what Dr. Barbara had to say about the show and listen to the show yourself!

Being a radio guest of Velma Gallant, the Queen of Joy, was a true treat. She is a marvelous radio host, who knows how to elicit from her guest so much information. I felt like my expertise as a positive psychologist and as an educator was just pouring out of me as we chatted about my book,girl, The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything). It was a wonderful experience for me. I got to cover so many issues, including parenting, growing up and facing the storm of adolescence, the concept of resiliency and lots more. I even got to talk about about my first book, The Enchanted Self, A Positive Therapy.
I’m excited that you can listen to the podcast of our show together. Here is the link: