Five Tips to Help Bully Proof Your Child

As an educator, I have always noticed some children simply do not appear to be likeable to others. No matter to what extent a teacher goes to to help a child become more socially accepted, it seems that some children simply do not have a knack for socializing.

Over 20 years of experience in the classroom has lead me to notice these less social children arrive in the early grades smiling less, pouting more, and seeming less open to others in general.

I am sure it will come as no surprise to know as these children get older and move through the grade levels with this self-absorbed attitude, they appear to have few friends and acquire a reputation for being “different”.  As such, these children are generally the ones that make the best targets for bullies.

I do believe it is the responsibility of the adults in the lives of these children, teachers and coaches included, to offer these less social children situations where they can practice social skills. It is imperative for a healthy sense of self-esteem and well being that children are given guidance in how to make and be a friend. To assist parents in helping their children to be more likable and social, I have listed some tips that may be useful.

Children need to be around other children. Begin in the toddler years to schedule plenty of play dates for your children. Being around others allows your child to learn valuable skills such as caring, empathy, sympathy, sharing, and bonding. By interacting with others from an early age, children learn to be social.

Do not make everything about the child. Many children grow up in an environment where they are the center of attention. Adults and older siblings dote on them. This is perfectly normal and acceptable inside the family unit. But doting needs to be tempered by situations where the child understands that he/she is not the center of attention in every situation. Children need to realize they are part of something much larger. The earlier children are exposed to others outside the home, the easier this concept is for them to accept.

Tell your child to smile often. It is human nature to be drawn to those who smile. People who smile appear friendlier and more approachable to others. This simple gesture allows others to know when one is open to making new friends. Teach your child to smile from an early age by allowing them to see you model this behavior often.

Teach your child to ask questions. One of the easiest ways to make new friends is by showing interest in people. Everyone enjoys someone who seems genuinely interested in him or her. As a way of bonding and getting to know others, teach your child to ask appropriate questions of others about hobbies, vacations, sports, likes and dislikes.

The biggest key to your child knowing how to act in social situations is you. A child who grows up around people who socialize will be more likely to enjoy and engage in socializing. Be sure to let your child see you as a social being and when appropriate allow children to be part of your social network.

The article link below offers some helpful tips to parents as they teach social skills to their children.,2933,584671,00.html

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Sticky: Children Who Feel A Sense of Purpose Are Happier


Children who are engaged are happier

Dear Parents,

A happy child is the unspoken creed for successful parenting. Yet, many times parents feel helpless when they see their children experience sadness, apathy or low self-esteem. If you want to improve the well being of your children you are not alone.

Over 20 years experience in education has lead me to an understanding of what attributes are necessary for children to succeed. To embrace the world with excitement and joy children need to feel a sense of purpose.

Unlike adults who can actively seek situations where we can connect with others and garner a sense of purpose, children must have most of their needs met within the family and school settings. The elements needed to raise happy well-connected children are attainable for every parent. Most require little time, but offer great returns on building a foundation for your children to be happy and engaged in life.

This site shares insights, advice and guidence for parents. By implementing some of the suggestions offered here, parents can help their children feel a heightened sense of happiness,  belonging and success. Sign up to receive updates on new post and learn simple ways to improve the life of your children.

Happy Parenting!


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A Simple Game to Help Your Student Thrive

It is common knowledge that a large vocabulary leads to increased intelligence. And, since the use of language begins in childhood, why not teach your children to enjoy learning and using new words?

I have always found pleasure in teaching new vocabulary to children of all ages. They generally balk at the mention of learning new words, it sounds too much like work, but once they realize they can use these new words to impress their friends, they generally get into the spirit of it.

Parents, it’s easy to make an ongoing activity of helping children learn and apply new vocabulary. Create a game for your family where each member listens or looks for one new word each week. (Search Google for word of the day sites if your children start off reluctant to play.)

At dinnertime, in the carpool line, or on the way to a sports event, family members can introduce their chosen word. The word should be pronounced and used in a sentence as a way of having family members guess the meaning. Once the meaning has been guessed, go one-step future and have family members practice the word by finding ways to use it in conversations throughout the week. Applying the new word helps children to recall it’s meaning over time.

If your children are young, there is an easier form of this activity you can play. Simply, introduce a “word of the week” on Monday. Pronounce the word, tell it’s meaning and use it in several sentences. Then ask children to find ways to use this word each day.

Granted in either game, not all words will be remembered over time. But some of the words will “stick” and become part of the way your child communicates. This game is a means of helping children feel smarter while offering your family a positive and unique way to bond.

Two of my favorite books for increasing the vocabulary of children are The Weighty Word Book and Weighty Words, Too. I used both these books in my years in the classroom. I also like giving them to young people as gifts. They are non-intimidating, colorful, short story books that teach new vocabulary in the most clever way imaginable. These short stories are written to be mnemonic devices that help children remember meaning and pronunciation of new words.

If you have a reluctant reader, buy one of these books and read a few of the stories together. It is likely your child will begin to read these entertaining stories independently. But beware you could soon be hearing some hundred-dollar words being tried out on you.
Parents, in order for children to thrive in school, it’s important that they feel successful and smart. Learning new vocabulary is one simple, easy way you can help your child grow academically.

Happy Parenting,


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Three Keys to Transitioning to Middle School With Better Grades

It is not uncommon for students who earned passing grades in elementary school to find themselves overwhelmed and over worked in middle school. The level of academic responsibility increases with each year of schooling, but the leap from elementary to middle school creates the biggest challenge. Curriculum becomes more in-depth as the academic pace accelerates. This combination along with newfound social connections leaves many students struggling and many parents frustrated.

Follow these three simple habits at home to help regain control of the situation:

1. Organization is Key

As simple and unrelated as many people feel this component is, it is critical to academic success. Beyond the obvious and overstated, have a specific spot for homework assignments to be completed. The next step to this process is rarely mentioned; put the homework, books, teacher notes, notebooks etc, in the book bag at night.

Many students stumble into class each morning half awake only to find the work they spent time on the night before is still sitting on the dinning room table.

When this happens these assignments are considered missing, incomplete, or late. All of which put a lower grade in the gradebook. Several days of this repeated pattern and any GPA would certainly be reduced.

2. Be Proactive

Unlike the elementary years where teachers were available to keep parents informed of progress, middle school educators teach 100 or more students a day. The parent to teacher communication now falls mostly on the parent.

Be proactive. Monitor your child’s grades weekly. If you see low grades or notice that your child struggles with understanding homework assignments, it is wise to seek intervention immediately. Email the teacher. Ask what steps he or she recommends to get the tutoring your child needs. Take action and get help. The work your child is doing will only get more challenging as the year progresses.

3. Social Activities and Academic Effort

The adolescent mind is different than that of a child. By now your children are probably seeking more social outlets, friendships, and activities. While parents need to encourage children to participate in extracurricular activities, clear guidelines must be set. These guidelines should include a base level of academic success. Participation in social events should be allowed only when the agreed upon base for academic grades are met.

Far too many parents are unaware of the power of tying social events to academic success. When children know their social outlets are contingent upon their academic efforts, most are more willing to take responsibility to earn good grades.

Start and follow through with this practice in middle school, and by their high school years your children will know academic responsibility is imperative to their freedoms.

If you would like a happier, less stressful relationship with your child go victoria@thrivingstudent and ask for a free 30 minute consultation

Happy Parenting!


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Are Your Good Intentions Harming Your Child’s Academic Success?

Most children start school with a positive attitude and an open willingness to learn. They attend kindergarten classes where they learn basic skills as well as social skills needed to be part of a group of learners. First and second grades build upon basic foundation concepts and social development grows as children learn to work with others.

In most cases, third grade is the first real experience children have of their active role in the learning process. It is a year when many students experience stress from academic pressure for the first time, as they seek to grasps new concepts as multiplication and division are learned and practiced.

Parents see their children becoming frustrated and seek to offer comfort. Oftentimes, this comfort comes with a price to the children which parents aren’t aware of.

Many parents share with children that they too found math challenging as a child. They may go on to tell stories of their own childhood struggles, poor grades and lack of understanding.

These words spoken with good intent have a tendency to backfire for many students. What children hear from a parent’s well-meaning words is, “I was not good at math therefore, neither are you”.

This admission of academic weakness from the parent becomes an excuse, a reason if you will, for children not to put forth much effort. They feel they have been given permission to perform poorly.

A preconceived attitude of defeat does not serve students as they seek to understand concepts in any academic area. Therefore, it is best not to introduce this type of thinking.

The good news is there are constructive ways for parents to offer assurance and support to struggling students. Following are some suggested ways for parents to offer encouragement and understanding while facilitating and promoting academic development.

1. Let children know you have full confidence in their abilities. (Use matter of fact language. Leave no doubt that you believe in them.)

2. Create a specific time and place in the home for homework to be completed. (This adds structure and organization to their physical environment, as their mental abilities are being challenged.)

3. Have an adult in close proximity when children are doing homework. (This serves to keep them on task and to offer assistance if needed.)

4. Reinforce that some things take time and practice. (Tell them it is like a puzzle they may have had as a toddler. At first it was difficult, but over time the puzzle became easy to solve.)

5. If your child becomes frustrated, ask school officials for resources in tutoring. (Many schools offer morning or afternoon tutoring, or know professional who are willing to help.)

Your attitude towards their learning is a huge indicator of their level of determination. Be positive about learning. Celebrate even the small successes. This encourages children to continue working towards their goals. Your support, attitude and follow through will help to instill a positive self image as your children grow and learn.
Happy Parenting!


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