Improving Routines and Behaviors for Toddlers Through Elementary

Morning routines, evening routines, and even weekend routines… this is an ongoing challenge for parents of young children. We know the importance of keeping kids on a consistent schedule, but it can be quite stressful making the process smooth. As a mom of two young kids and a child therapist, including one toddler, making this process easier was important to me. As a therapist, I also saw this to be a struggle for many parents of the children I was seeing.

The Challenges with Routine

  • Distractions. The temptation for the kids to want to play instead of eat dinner, and for me to watch the news instead of prepare dinner, is one example of how distractions affect us at my house.
  • Stress. Getting yourself and the kids ready in the morning is no easy task and often very stressful. You do “what you have to do” just to get out the door on time.
  • Change. There’s no getting around the fact that changes in your family/life happen and adjustments have to be made. New babies are born, job schedules change, kids start new extra curricular activities… all requiring a modification to your routine.
  • Lack of Energy. I don’t know any parent who feels they get enough sleep and with all the activities of life today, disregarding a routine is very tempting, especially when you kids are resistant (bath, bed, etc.).

Continue reading “Improving Routines and Behaviors for Toddlers Through Elementary”

Guest Post: All About Psycho-Social Rehabilitation (PSR)!

All About Psycho-Social RehabilitationHello from the Potato State! My name is Stacey and I am co-runner of a little Idaho blog called: A PSR Gathering. I am here today to give a little insight on what we do!

In Idaho we have an awesome service offered to children and adults called PSR or Psycho-Social Rehabilitation. PSR is not available to everyone (it is a Medicaid only service and not in every state) which examples the blank stares I often get when I tell people what I do. Katie and I work with children (ages 4-19 is the general range of clients) but, adult services are available! Clients who qualify for PSR have been diagnosed with a Serious Emotional Disturbance (SED) for children, or a Severe and Persistent Mental Disorder (SPMD) for adults. I am going to keep this simple and sweet for you today, if you have a questions feel free to ask!


Have a Bachelors degree (in Social Services, Early Childhood Education, Sociology, Social Work, Psychology, and the like)? You can do PSR! You will have to gain a USPRA certification though, if you wish to work in the state of Idaho. Some states even require a master’s degree.

About us:

Katie (on the left): I graduated with a BAS in Child Care and Development from Boise State University in 2009. I have lived in Boise the majority of my life, am married with two dogs and with what spare time I can find love to travel, run, camp and read.  I have worked with kids for about 15 years in many different ways, from camp counselor to tutor to Pre-school teacher! I have been working as a PSR Specialist for about two and a half years now, and am just feeling like I’m getting the hang of it!

Stacey (on the right): I graduated from Boise State University in 2010, with my B.F.A in Drawing and studies in Psychology and Art Therapy. My family moved us to Boise when I was 10 and we have been here ever since. I just bought a house a street over from my childhood home and live there with my boyfriend of many years and our bully breed pup, Penny. I have too many interests to list but the tops are: creating, motorcycles, bargain hunting and kicking back! I have always had a passion for helping others, which has given me the opportunity to work in an array of jobs.  From working with animals, to slinging coffee or advising college students… I’ve done it all! I have been a PSR specialist for going on two years and can’t wait to see where it takes me.

What do we do as PSR workers?

PSR is individual skill based training, such as anger management, social skills emotions recognition, etc.

When do we work?

Each client qualifies for about 4-5 hours per week. We work in the community so our hours are outside of school hours–afternoons, night and weekends. As you can imagine we love summer for its flexibility!

So…an office? School?…where do you work?

PSR is a community-based position, no office (unless your car counts–I haven’t used my trunk for purposes other than hauling around ‘PSR’ tools for 2 years now-ha!). We work in the homes or take them out into the community to work. Libraries, malls, Barnes and Noble, coffee shops, parks–you get the idea.


Our goal(s) in PSR are simple. When a client comes into PSR a treatment plan is designed that consists of measurable and behaviorally specific objectives. PSR is there to build skills to better communicate, interact within society, build relationships, handle situations and overall be the best kiddos they can be!


We do an array of activities with clients (based on age, understanding and needs). Being out in the community and in the homes, we get a good glimpse on what our clients are like when their ‘guard’ is down, which lends to a lot of  ‘real life training.’ We also get to be silly kids our selves by using play and art to teach our clients new skills! Check awesome activity ideas!

PSR Gathering

Determining Your Discipline Technique

Now that we are in the toddler years with an active and independent little boy, discipline has begun, and it’s in full speed!  Our little guy literally looks at us and smiles before doing exactly what we instruct him NOT to do. Sometimes I get frustrated and other times I have to turn away so he doesn’t see me giggle at his cuteness 😉

I meet many parents in my personal and professional life who do well following the basic rules of consistency and maintaining patience, but knowing which discipline technique to apply is often diffcult.

photo courtesy

Some of the most common methods of discipline out there are:

  • Ignoring the behavior
  • Spanking (Does spanking work? Read what the research says here)
  • Time Out
  • Redirecting
  • Witholding, or taking items of value
  • Positive rewards
  • Grounding

When deciding what method of discipline to use, here are some good factors to consider:

Child’s Personality

Every child is different, so consider your child’s personality, temperament, patters of behavior, and sensitivities when you choose a method of discipline. Some children are so eager to please that just seeing your disappointment is effective, while other children are more strong willed and require a stronger method of discipline.

Reasons for the Behavior

This is always important. Is your child seeking attention or testing limits? Maybe they are overly tired or adjusting to recent transitions in your home? If you can pin point the reason, use this information when you consider your response to their behavior.

Parent Preferences and Expectations

Just like children are not all the same, neither are parents. One parent may be more tolerant of certain behaviors than another, or have a lower frustration level than another. Additionally, parents will have personal preferences for their methods of discipline. Some parents choose not to use time-out and others do. I also know some parents who choose not to use the word “no” around their kids.

Child’s Developmental Age

Obviously what is appropriate for a toddler is not always appropriate for a teenager. I think Dr. Phil has a good age-appropriate discipline list you may find helpful:

Birth to 18 Months


  • Positive Reinforcement
  • RedirectingIneffective:
  • Verbal Instruction/Explanation
  • Time-outs
  • Establishing Rules
  • Grounding
  • Withholding Privileges

18 Months to 3 Years


  • Positive Reinforcement
  • Redirecting
  • Verbal Instruction/Explanation
  • Time-outs


  • Establishment of Rules
  • Grounding
  • Withholding Privileges

4 to 12 Years


  • Positive Reinforcement
  • Redirecting
  • Verbal Instruction/Explanation
  • Time-outs
  • Establishment of Rules
  • Grounding
  • Withholding Privileges

13 to 16 Years


  • Positive Reinforcement
  • Verbal Instruction/Explanation
  • Establishment of Rules
  • Grounding
  • Withholding Privileges


  • Redirecting
  • Time-outs

This is a topic that could be a blog all by itself, but hopefully these basic guidelines are a good start!


5 Factors That Influence Discipline Strategies

Dr. Phil’s Age-Appropriate Discipline Techniques

5 Common Problems at School That Lead to Counseling

Throughout the school year, I get quite a few calls from concerned parents about their child or teen. Sometimes, the issues are stemming from something at home, and other times, it may be stemming from issues at school. Either way, it makes sense that a lot of the behaviors and struggles are observed on school grounds first.

What school problems are most commonly reported when parents seek therapy?

1. Not paying attention in class.

When a child or teen is reported as not paying attention in class, parents often worry right away their child has ADHD. While this is certainly a possibility, inattention can also be a symptom of boredom, lack of sleep or adequate nutrition, or preoccupation with other problems. When inattention is such a problem that the child’s grades are suffering, or it is causing them emotional distress, it’s best to seek professional intervention.

2. Difficulty making friends.

In my experience, this is most common with kids in elementary school who are just getting started in the school social scene. The possibility of a disorder on the Autism spectrum is always looming when parents report social difficulties. While we want to look at all possibilities, this can also be a symptom of a child who is shy, inexperienced in social settings, or even suffering from a mild form of social phobia. If the teachers are reporting this is a problem, or the child is telling you they are worried, and the problem persists despite your greatest efforts, seek professional advisement.

3. Disruptive in class.

When a child or teen is disruptive in class, it is usually treated as strictly a behavior problem without considering all the potential reasons for their behavior. Many times, like most of these issues, there is an underlying reason. First, kids and teens are extremely vulnerable to the need for social acceptance. This need can drive them to behave in ways that will get them into trouble, or even put their safety at risk. They may also be disruptive because they are bored, cannot understand the teacher, cannot see the teacher, or not challenged. This child may also be struggling with the material and find they are so far behind that it “saves face” to look as if they are failing because they don’t care, rather than being unable to understand the material. Many, many possibilities!

4. Reports of aggressiveness or anger.

When children act aggressivetly towards others, or express such a high level of anger, it can be worrisome. It breaks my heart to see a young person feeling so negative. In my experience, these kids don’t want to feel this way. They are often angry about something going on a home, such as a divorce, or an issue at school, such as a bully. When a child is this angry, seek help from a professional so they can work through some of that anger, as well as learn some more positive coping skills.

5. Failing grades.

When kids fail their classes, it’s best to determine the reason as soon as possible. The longer the issue goes on, the more and more behind they will fall. Not only may they repeat a grade, but they can feel defeated and believe they are not smart. This is rarely the case. Talk to the teachers and the student to find out more about what subjects they are failing. Is it test grades or homework? These details can help you discover the possible root of the problem. Finally, talk with a professional about your next step. They may be a candidate for psychological testing or therapy.

You May Also Like:

Angry Paper Toss

Being A Gifted Kid

5 Qualities of a Good Child Therapist

Friday Wrap Up 8-17-12: Must Reads and Best Online Finds From the Week!


It’s Finally The Weekend!!

Every week I come across so many informative articles, funny and inspiring quotes, and cool websites. It’s impossible to post them all on my facebook page, so here’s what I came across this week.

Have a great weekend!

1. Psychoanalyzing Batman. I love superhero movies. To me, they are more than a hero flying around saving people. There is always a story behind the superhero and how they transformed to a stronger, more powerful self. This post on is a good psychoanalysis of Batman. Good read. Here’s a clip:

Batman, AKA Bruce Wayne, lives through the trauma of watching his parents murdered in front of his eyes as a young boy. In order to find some kind of retribution, he becomes a superhero who tries to save his city, Gotham, from crime.

And not just that – he also picks a disguise that is reminiscent of what was once his greatest fear: the fear of bats.

As a kid he found himself trapped in a well, surrounded by fluttering bloodsuckers who seem to want to attack him. But as a young man, he wasn’t going to continue giving in to that fear. He wanted to overcome it.

So (after a long and hard training period somewhere in a faraway Asian country) he exposed himself voluntarily to a swarm of screeching bats, standing still in the midst of the tornado, until he had overcome his fear. And thus, the legend was born.

But Bruce Wayne doesn’t just attempt to move past what used to haunt him by looking straight at it. He transcends it into his greatest strength, and embodies what once was the source of a severe phobia.

2. Dads Pass “Trust” Hormone to Kids

Interesting article that suggests giving a parent oxytocinis can help improve a child’s emotional or social growth. I look forward to seeing more research in this area.

Often called the “love hormone” or “trust hormone,” oxytocinis a chemical that helps parents and children bond to one another and works on children’s emotional development.

A recent study has found that giving fathers oxytocin not only increases their bond with their child but also increases the amount of oxytocin found in their children.

The finding means that some children’s conditions related to social or emotional growth might be able to be addressed by giving a parentoxytocin without having to give any medications to the child.

3. Reframing!

4. Cute ideas for new family traditions here by Elaine Ng Friis. Here are some of my favorites!

Meal Under the Table
Once a month or so, have meal or snack under the table and bond with your child.

Family Devotion Time
Once a week, worship God, pray and read the Bible together as a family.

Family Night
Once every two weeks, let the children drag their mattresses to your bedroom floor and sleep together with you.

Super Family Night
Once a month, drag all your mattresses downstairs and sleep in the living room floor altogether with your children. (There’s no good reason why as we all have our beds other than it’s great fun.) Switch off the lights and light candles (you can use the fake candles for safety). The candle lights somehow helps to create a cozy conducive environment for family-togetherness. You can spend the evening talking about old family memories, or future aspirations.

Spring Cleaning
Once a year, do spring cleaning of the home together as a family. Let the children put on swim suits and slide on the wet floor while you are mopping the floor.

5. Feelings Darts

I always like finding unique activities to use with kids in therapy. This post on the Play and Child Therapy Blog is a fun one!

With families, each family member gets a Dart Gun, or they share if there are not enough, and they take a turn targeting and shooting a feeling card. Sometimes, families will target a feeling they want to talk about. Other times, everyone in the family will share a time they have experienced the feeling. The cards are great because the pictures are vibrant, fun and help little ones, who do not read yet, understand the emotion represented. Fantastic conversations and shared information have
come from the use of this activity. “Hard stuff” has proved easier to bring up
and talk about with this “game.”

This activity is also very popular with tween/teen boys and girls. With teens, I usually post the lashcards individually around the room with Poster Putty. Then, they can move around the room, target and shoot an emotion they want to share. Some kids like to throw play-doh or clay at an emotion/card. All ages love this activity. I have used it with four-year-olds through seventy-year-olds.

You can make the chart with poster board, Todd Parr Feelings Flash Cards (feelings posters work very
well –, and I used clear contact paper to laminate, and keep the whole thing together. To make a whole chart, you need to purchase two Todd Parr packs, as they are double sided.


Friday Wrap Up 8/10/12

Friday Wrap UP 8/03/12

Friday Wrap Up 7/27/12

Friday Wrap Up: Must Reads and Best Online Finds From the Week!


It’s Finally The Weekend!!

Every week I come across so many informative articles, funny and inspiring quotes, and cool websites. It’s impossible to post them all on my facebook page, so here’s what I came across this week.

Have a great weekend!

1. In honor of the final week of the 2012 London Olympics, I found a good post by a sports psychologist on what he thinks will make for a successful Olympic experience. We can actually ALL use these tips when striving for a goal!!

Here are some of my initial tips for an athlete’s success at the Olympics:

  1. Arrive psychologically ready having developed your psychological skills
  2. Keep your goal(s) in mind for the event. Ensure these are realistic (SMART)
  3. Know your Olympic Game(s) plan – how  you will manage your sports time during the competition and training times
  4. Know how you will manage your downtime – take it easy, relax, chill, put your mind on other things
  5. Be confident – recall all your preparation, training sessions, markers that you are ready for this, trust your preparation
  6. Manage pre-competition nerves
  7. Review each performance in a balanced way, so you can spot opportunities to tweak your plan while you are still at the Games (but be careful not to over meddle)
  8. Focus on you and what you need to do to perform well (don’t get too distracted by other athletes or the ‘circus’)

2. This website has some great downloads for therapeutic activities. Here are a few of my favorites, but there are many more so check it out!

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3. What a great reminder and visual aid for the power of exercise on our physical and psychological health!

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4. I thought this was a cool visual of the categories of anti-psychotics. Here’s the visual link.

Gold Medal Rules in Parenting (And Mom Wins the Gold!)

I stumbled upon a good article online at Parenting Magazine titled Quirky Discipline Rules That Work. This article is floating around on Pinterest right now and mothers everywhere are excited about the techniques offered by the author, who is also speaking from experience as a mom.

What I really like about these techniques, and the reason they get such good results, is because they follow the premise of a few golden rules. If you get the philosophy behind the techniques, you can come up with some creative ways to use them and come up with your own “quirky rules”, just like the moms in this article showed us. Aren’t they all about tricking our kids into doing what we want anyways? 🙂

1. Kids want to feel in control. I believe everyone likes to feel some degree of control over their life. My 18 month old already insists on choosing which socks and shoes he will wear to daycare.  Allowing kids an opportunity to make choices helps to fulfill that need for control and independence. When the author tells her kids they can be loud as long as it is in another room, or they can choose to stay in the room with her as long as they helped with the laundry, this is giving them a choice in how or where they will behave. Here’s an exerpt from the the article:

And then one day, as my oldest foster daughter sat and watched me work, asking me favors and waiting for me to be done, I came up with a rule that takes into account two important facts about kids:

* They actually want to be with you as much as possible.

* You can’t force them to help you in any way that is truly helpful.

I played fact one against fact two and told her that she didn’t have to help me but couldn’t just sit and watch. She had to go elsewhere. Given a choice between being with me and folding laundry or not being with me at all, she took option one.

Why it works: I didn’t care which she chose. And it was her choice, so it gave her control even as it took it away.

2. You can only control you. No matter how hard we try, we cannot control our kids like we think. By declaring herself “off duty” at 8:00pm, the author realized that she could not control the behaviors of her family. She could only control herself.  Once they learned she was serious about her 8 o’clock rule, they adjusted!

Goal: Regular bedtimes and time off for you

You can’t just announce a rule to your husband and kids that says, “Bedtime has to go really smoothly so I can get a break at the end of the day.” It won’t happen. But if you flip the problem and make a rule about you instead of telling everyone what they have to do, it all falls neatly  — and miraculously  — into place.

When this occurred to me, back when my oldest was 6 and my youngest was nearly 2, I announced to Anna and Taylor that the U.S. Department of Labor had just created a new rule and I was no longer allowed to do any kind of mom jobs past 8:00 in the evening. I would gladly read books, play games, listen to stories of everyone’s day, give baths  — the whole mother package  — before then. Then I held firm  — I acted as if it were out of my hands. Sort of like Cinderella and midnight.

Suddenly, my 6-year-old (and my husband) developed a new consciousness of time. My daughter actually rushed to get ready for bed just after dinner so that we could have lots of books and time together before I was “off.” My husband, realizing that if things dragged past 8:00 he’d have to face putting both girls to sleep himself, became more helpful. Anna’s now 11, and my hours have been extended, but the idea that I’m not endlessly available has been preserved and integrated into our family routine.

Why it works: You’re not telling anyone else what to do. The rule is for you, so you have only yourself to blame if it’s not enforced.

3. Make the rule objective. Anytime you can blame the child’s disappointment on “the rule” rather than mean ol’ mom, the better. The example in this article is that she never argues over money. So, when the moment arises when the kids want to argue over getting a new toy, then she can remove the personal aspect and claim it’s the outside rule that prevents her from arguing.

It cuts both ways, though: When your kids want to spend their “own” money, point out potential mistakes and give advice on the purchase if you’d like, but at the end of the day, don’t overrule them unless it’s a matter of health or safety. After all, you don’t argue about money. They may make some bad choices, but they’ll learn. And you’ll all enjoy shopping together a lot more.

Why it works: It shifts the focus from the whined-for treat to financial policy. You’re almost changing the topic on them, no longer debating why they should or shouldn’t have gum or some plastic plaything and, instead, invoking a reasonable-sounding family value.

I love it when parents spread wisdom and experience with the rest of us. Honestly, the education I get from other moms and dads is so much more valuable than books written by psychologists (shh don’t tell my psych friends).

You May Also Like:

Is There A “Right” Way To Parent?

Sibling Rivalry: Treating Kids Fairly Versus Equally

Creating a Calm Down Box


Friday Wrap Up: Must Reads and Best Online Finds From the Week!


It’s Finally The Weekend!!

Every week I come across so many informative articles, funny and inspiring quotes, and cool websites. It’s impossible to post them all on my facebook page, so here’s what I came across this week.

Have a great weekend!

Helping Children Cope with the Aurora Tragedy by Momaroo

A senior Psychologist at the Children’s Hospital of Denver gives some great advice on helping children cope with the tragedy. It’s a good read and here are a few clips that stood out to me.

“First, parents have to compose themselves,” Dolgan said, stressing that parents should think carefully about what they want to say to their children before they begin what will likely be a difficult conversation.

Second, Dolgan recommended that parents actually let their children lead the way. “Kids are all over the place with where they are developmentally,” he said. In order to deal with these differences, creating an atmosphere in which your children feel comfortable approaching you with questions would be optimal. Dr. Richard Marafiote, another psychologist who has worked in Aurora for many years, stressed how important it is for parents to “tune in” to their children in moments like these.
“By and large I think about the importance of parents allowing their children to speak about how they feel rather than having those parents put on their children what they believe their child may think or feel,” he said. Finally, Dolgan suggested parents should try to “normalize” the situation as much as possible, while limiting media exposure. “What we’ve found with many studies is the more kids and parents see the same kind of visuals, the more traumatizing it is,” Dolgan said.

10 Affirmations to Help Parents Accept Themselves and Their Children by

The author reminds us that it’s important for children to have parents who are accepting of themselves, as well as the children.

5 Affirmations for Helping Parents Accept Their Child

1. I accept my child is different.

2. I accept my child is quiet.

3. I accept my child can be stubborn.

4. I accept my child takes time to warm up to things or people.

5. I accept my child gets upset quickly.

5 Self-Accepting Affirmations for Parents

1. I accept I am a human being before I am a parent.

2. I accept I have limitations and many shortcomings, and this is okay.

3. I accept I don’t always know the right way.

4. I accept I can be selfish and unthinking in my dealings with my child.

5. I accept I don’t always know how to respond to my child.

8 Bucket List Questions to Ask Yourself, by Alice Boyes, Ph.D. on Psychology Today

Have you thought of jotting down a bucket list, or do you already have a bucket list? This is a good guide for us to use to help stimulate some ideas!

1. Who would you like to meet?

2. Where would you like to travel? If you could only do 3 things when you got there, what would you pick?

3. What challenges (if successfully achieved) would give you the biggest confidence boost?

4. What bucket list goals have you thought about but not pursued because you’d feel embarrassed if anyone knew you had that goal?

5. What do you like consuming that you might like to have a go at producing?

e.g., writing or acting for TV, writing a song, making a film, writing a novel, cooking foods you like to eat, writing comedy.

6. When you imagine yourself as really, really relaxed and happy, what are you doing?

7. When you imagine yourself as awestruck or giddy with excitement, what are you doing?

8. What was unique about you as a little kid? What were you passionate about as a little kid that you stopped exploring as you got older?

Advice From A Tree- I love this!

Miniature Building From Around the World from These would be great to use for sand tray therapy.

You May Also Like:

Steps to Improving Inattention in ADHD

What To Say To Someone Who Is Grieving

Parents: Educate Yourself on Cyberbullying

Friday Wrap Up: Must Reads and Best Online Finds From the Week!


It’s Finally The Weekend!!

Every week I come across so many informative articles, funny and inspiring quotes, and cool websites. It’s impossible to post them all on my facebook page, so here’s what I came across this week.

Have a great weekend!

33 of the Deepest and Coolest Thoughts About Life, by Single Dad Laughing

SDL asked his readers to share their coolest thoughts about life they have had or heard. There are some really good ones, but here are a few of my favorites:

“When I was about six or seven years old, I was watching ants on the pavement and wondered if some giant was watching down on us as if we were the ants.”

“When I was a teenager my mom told me that there were 2 things in life that would eventually become apparent to me: 1.Not everyone likes you and 2.You’ve stopped caring.”

“I hope to one day be the person my children see me to be.”

“You’ve got to have a little rain before a rainbow.”

How Kids Can Save Your Marriage, by Dr. Craig Malkin on Psychology Today

Dr. Malkin brings up some really good points about marriage and kids. Good read!

Kids invade your bedroom.  They rule your schedule. They dictate where you go and how you spend your time. They spark squabbles over matters as trivial as where to put all the stuffed animals or which living room arrangement will lead to the fewest head injuries (the correct answer, by the way, is to remove all the furniture and sit on bean bags). Despite all this, I have one simple message to share: Kids don’t kill marriages; adults do.

Taming the “Nasties” In Your Children, by help4yourfamily

Kate Oliver, a Clinical Social Worker, reminds us to consider why our kids are behaving negatively. Many times we assume it’s because they are just acting out, but she offers some alternative reasons that we should keep in mind as well.

The first thing to do when the nasties are tearing through your house is to assess what is causing the nasty behavior.  I had a professor once that said the most important piece in addressing any behavior is to find out it’s cause, and while you may not be very curious about the root of the problem when your child is yelling at you, perhaps I can persuade you by pointing out that figuring out the root cause is way more pleasant for you than beating yourself up over having such a mean child.  Here are some ideas to take into consideration when you are trying to figure out what is going on:

“What To Do” Guides For Your Kids, by Houston Family Psychology

I have never heard of these books before, but definitely think they are worth checking out. Thanks Dr. Weiss!

Did you know that your body is like a car that you need to learn how to steer, worries are like tomatoes that grow when they’re fed, and disappointments are like hurdles to be jumped? By the time you’re done with these books, you will! Using these and other similarly accessible analogies, Dr. Huebner brings the concepts of cognitive behavioral therapy to life, making them easy to understand and fun to practice.

Dr. Seuss on Love, another Pinterest find, and too great not to share!

IKEA Shelves Turned On Side Make Great Shelving, by IHeart Organizing

What a cool idea! I pinned this on Pinterestwhere I find so many great ideas. This would work well in a play therapy room or child’s room and less expensive than building a bench with shelving underneath!

Boys Need Men, and Other Lessons I Learned From the Elephants!

Years ago, my dad shared this CNN story with me, South Africa Reins In Its Young Elephants. I found it such a fascinating story and wonderful analogy for our young men today, that I continue to reference it all these years later. Please read the story for yourself, but I can share a summary.

The Story of the Elephants

The CNN story, written by Dean E. Murphy in 1998, is about a group of wild elephant bulls on a game reserve in South Africa. The elephant bulls, considered teenagers in elephant years, were being extremely aggressive. The elephant bulls were terrorizing the reserve by killing rhinos and chasing off safari visitors. One man even lost his life to one of the aggressive, young elephants. I can just imagine the chaos!

Reserve officials were perplexed by the strange behavior of the elephants and began contemplating the reasons for this behavior and possible solutions. You see, these elephants were orphaned at a young age and relocated to this reserve. It turns out, there were no older elephant males on the reservation. Officials determined that the male elephants had no role model for appropriate behavior.

The park finally introduced a handful of elder elephants to the area. At the time the story was written, the unruly behaviors of the elephant bulls had already decreased significantly. Wow, even the animals learn from their elders!

The Lessons:

Children Need Positive Role Models. I’m not the first person to tell you how much it means that you model good behavior for your children, boys and girls! They watch our every move and listen to our every word!

More Boys Need Men In Their Lives. I see more and more young boys in my therapy office without this male figure in their life. These boys yearn for their father and appear to be seeking guidance from anywhere they can. Moms serve a precious and irreplacable role in their lives, but they can’t serve as the male figure. William Bennett, a blogger with CNN Opinion, wrote in his article Why Men Are In Trouble, “For boys to become men, they need to be guided through advice, habit, instruction, example and correction. It is true in all ages.”

We Can Learn From Our Elders. I think today we really do not place enough value on learning form our elders. Whether we are young or middle-aged, our elders can teach us a lot about life. When I was pregnant with my first child, I read many books, hoping to be prepared for this new chapter in my life. When my baby finally arrived, I found the most valuable lessons came from my mother, my aunt, my grandmother, and my friends. Their experience taught me more than any book I read! Our younger generations are facing life today with the same mentality… learn what you need to from the internet. Unfortunately, there is so much more we can teach them. But first, we have to teach them to value the lessons what we have to offer.

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