Monday, August 31, 2009

Sue Scheff: Ethics in the Classroom: What You Need to Know

What a fantastic article as school as just opened in many areas. is always full of informational and up-to-date news on academics, parenting and more. One of my favorite websites!

Ethics in the Classroom: What You Need to Know

By: Anna Weinstein

Ethics and morals are often associated with religion, but schools can also provide important lessons in ethical thinking and action.

“There’s a big fear out there that somehow teaching ethics in school will seep into students a particular religious viewpoint,” says Dr. Bruce Weinstein, aka The Ethics Guy. “But ethics must be taught and are being taught in school. It’s impossible not to teach ethics in a school.”

Weinstein, who writes a weekly column for and recently released the popular book Is It Still Cheating if I Don’t Get Caught?, says if schools have a code of conduct, they are teaching ethics.

According to Weinstein, there are five basic principles of ethics that are common to all faiths:

•Do no harm
•Make things better
•Respect others
•Be fair
•Be loving

These values are defined differently in different parts of the world, but they are cross-cultural and expected among all groups of people. And Weinstein says they should extend beyond the walls of the sanctuary and should be taught and expected in homes and classrooms as well.

Dr. Larry Hinman, Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Values Institute at the University of San Diego, explains that ethics in a secular context has to do with what people have in common in terms of humanity. “The questions we’re facing now are not how can we live well within our group, but how can our group live well with other groups in the world,” Hinman says. “We need to spend a lot of time listening to what other people say about their values, rather than just making assumptions. The more we’re able to see the common ground, the better our chance will be of building a strong society and a strong world.”

According to Weinstein, children today are looking to the culture at large for ethical guidance, and many adults are not setting a good example. And it’s not just the bankers (whose misconduct is easily identified within the current economy). Weinstein says children are looking even at the conduct of athletes, for example. “These athletes beef themselves up with steroids,” Weinstein says, and children think to themselves, “If these people can get away with it, why shouldn’t I?”

He points to a 2008 report released by the Josephson Institute of Ethics that found that of more than 30,000 high school students surveyed, approximately 65 percent admitted to cheating. Schools must teach ethics, Weinstein says, “otherwise the Bernie Madoffs of the world will set the standard.”

Hinman, too, is concerned with cheating—particularly students’ difficulty in understanding how it is harmful. “I’ll have a conversation with students about what, if anything, is wrong with cheating—who gets hurt,” Hinman says. “And most often, students think, ‘If nobody is getting hurt, how is it harmful?’” But Hinman explains that when someone cheats, it makes an unequal playing field. And if everyone were to cheat, we would be back to square one because no one gets an advantage.

“I feel I have an ethical obligation to the students who are following the rules to make sure that the playing field is level,” Hinman says. “It’s not so much about being out to get cheaters as much as what do you owe to the people who play by the rules?”

The focus on rewarding good behavior rather than punishing bad behavior has a long history in the Character Education Movement, which began about three decades ago. Katie Lang, Senior Researcher at the Ethics Research Center (ERC) in Washington DC, says the movement was established to encourage teaching core values in schools. “There was a question of ‘Is it possible to teach values without teaching religion at the same time?’ This was an attempt to teach the importance of doing the right thing in a classroom setting.” The Character Education Movement looks at various ways to teach values, often involving role modeling and taking advantage of teachable moments. “A lot of schools have students of the month, for example,” Lang says. “They look for ways to recognize and reward students who personify the values the school is trying to promote.”

Hinman and Weinstein share the following reminders for behaving ethically and teaching children and young adults to behave ethically:

Do No Harm
Try not to hurt people. Weinstein says if hurting others is unavoidable, for example, in breaking up with someone or firing someone, it’s important to minimize the hurt. Say just enough to make the point clear; don’t say anything that will hurt the person unnecessarily. Hinman reminds us also that it’s important to not be hurtful to people who don’t fit the mainstream, whether it’s a student who is homosexual or a student with disabilities. Hinman explains that the risk factors go up dramatically for these students, and kindness (not cruelty) is a necessity.

Make Things Better
Weinstein says it’s important to help people—and to know the difference between helping and hurting. If you’re a teacher, assign only the amount of homework that is helpful. If there’s a new kid in school, make him feel welcome. If you see someone in need, lend a helping hand. Say something kind. Make people feel good about themselves. Be a part of creating a community where people trust one another. Hinman says if you don’t have trust in a community, people won’t take risks and won’t share who they really are.

Respect Others
Weinstein explains that we show respect by telling the truth, keeping our promises, and not listening to or spreading rumors. If someone tells you a secret, don’t tell anyone else. Hinman points to the importance of teachers respecting students. Don’t treat a child with disrespect or disdain. Don’t crush a child’s spirit. Hinman reminds us that one of the primary goals in a school is to create a community with varying talents that flourish. One of the foundational values for that, Hinman says, is respect—respecting one another and our differences.

Be Fair
Fairness has to do with how we punish people, Weinstein says. Don’t punish too harshly because you are emotional. Make sure your punishment fits the crime. Fairness also has to do with how we distribute scarce resources. Don’t favor some students. Don’t give more to some and less to others. Finally, Weinstein says, fairness has to do with a willingness to turn an unjust situation into a just one. If a teacher is verbally abusive, Weinstein says, the ethical teacher will stick his neck out and get involved. If a student is being bullied, the ethical student will step in.

Be Loving
Part of being loving, Weinstein explains, is having compassion for others. Show people you care about them. Weinstein recalls his 5th grade teacher telling his class that if they did drugs, he would haunt them for the rest of their lives. “When you look at those words on a page, it looks like a threat,” Weinstein says. “But this was his way of showing that he cared about us. And that’s one of the main reasons that I didn’t get involved in drugs.”

Weinstein recently rekindled his relationship with this 5th grade teacher. He flew to see him last year, and he thanked him personally for the influence he had on his life. “That may be going above and beyond the call of duty,” Weinstein says, “but even just a simple e-mail can show you care.”

Anna Weinstein is a freelance education and academic writer. She has written and edited textbooks and materials for many educational publishers, including McGraw-Hill, Harcourt, Houghton Mifflin, and Rosen Publishing.
Follow on Twitter @Education_com

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sue Scheff: How is ADHD Diagnosed

Kara Tamanini offers sound and understanding advice regarding ADD/ADHD children. Take the time to visit her website. Her books for children are excellent! I was very impressed and recommend them if you have a child that is ADD/ADHD.

The most important component at arriving at an accurate diagnosis of ADHD is to complete a thorough and comprehensive evaluation. Many times, I have seen children and they have have been brought in by their parents and diagnosed by their pediatrician after being seen for five to ten minutes. In addition, parents will often tell me that either their child’s pediatrician or a child psychiatrist, prescribed their child medication after being seen and the parent is uncertain as to whether or not their child received an accurate diagnosis. Unfortunately, this happens all too often and the steps to arrive at a diagnosis of ADHD should take more than 5-10 minutes in a doctor’s office.

First and foremost, a clinical interview should be completed with the parents to obtain a thorough background history. This should include developmental history, medical problems or complications, school and home issues, any behavioral problems, social/interpersonal skills, etc… In other words, everything else should be ruled out before a diagnosis of ADHD is given. ADHD is a diagnosis of exclusion. We need to rule out that their is not another issue or problem before we arrive at a diagnosis of ADHD. A medical evaluation may also be needed to determine that the behavior or symptoms are not caused by a medical issue.

Both a child’s parents and the child’s teacher should complete a behavior rating scale in order to determine the child’s behavior in both settings. In addition, this is a good method to compare if their are any discrepancies between the parent’s report of behavior and the child’s teacher’s report. If there is a huge difference between what the parents are saying and what the teacher is saying, this might strictly be a behavioral issue in one of the settings and we should be looking at a discipline problem and not an attentional issue.

The child should also be interviewed and behavioral observations should be made by the psychiatrist, psychologist, or a mental health professional that is conducting the evaluation. Direct behavioral observation of the child are often very helpful, however this is not a necessary component to reach a diagnosis of ADHD.

Also, intelligence and/or achievement testing is also beneficial to determine if their is a learning difficulty. Children who are struggling in school, often act out or are inattentive as a result of extreme frustration with their school work. A learning disability evaluation is often beneficial to rule out that the child is not struggling academically, which affects their behavior at school. Before any child can be diagnosed as having ADHD, a complete and thorough evaluation needs to be completed and all information obtained should be scrutinized carefully and all issues/problems ruled out that may be causing attentional difficulties. Most evaluations completed by a psychologist or psychiatrist to diagnosis ADHD last at least 2-3 hours in order to obtain the necessary clinical information. If your child has been diagnosed with ADHD after a 5-10 minute session with your child’s pediatrician than a comprehensive evaluation should now be completed.
Follow Kara on Twitter @KidTherapist

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teen Driving

When your teenager reaches the age of their new freedom, called driving, it can cause many parents to reach stress levels that they never knew existed. Or quietly honestly, just hoped this day would never come, since it was only yesterday we taught them to ride a bike.

As a Parent Advocate I believe an educated parent is a prepared parent that equals a safer teen! I know personally the stress I went through when both my teens (now adults) started driving. What I found to be interesting was that my daughter was very anxious to get behind the wheel and had her permit within a week of her birthday. My son wasn’t in any hurry and actually was 18 before he got his license.

We all have different teens with unique personalities; however the nature of parenting usually doesn’t change: we worry. I am listing a few great resources targeted at helping you with this next stage of parenting teens - teen drivers.

Teen Driving – A must read and print out, Teen Driving Contract. This website offers tremendous tips about teenage driving, maintaining their cars, driving in a variety of weather conditions, looking into car insurance for teens and more.

Safe Teen Driving Club – 1-866-930-TEEN (8336) is a comprehensive website and organization that I encourage parents to take the time to review. From choosing a safe car to learning about defensive driving, Safe Teen Driving Club covers a wide range of topics that are critical for you and your teen to be aware of. You may also be interested in their recommended vehicle tracker (GPS).

ZoomSafer – “We don’t let friends drive distracted.” Distracted driving is a complicated and growing behavioral problem, especially with teenagers. Whether it is texting or talking on your cell phone while driving, it is a distraction that can potentially lead to tragic endings. Follow ZoomSafer on Twitter at @IDriveFocused and get updates.

Vision 20/20 – The Vision 20/20 P.O.M. Pilot is one of the smallest real-time GPS tracking devices available. If you are considering a GPS, this one is waterproof, highly sensitive and comes equipped with a panic button, GeoFencing features, remote control and more. Follow Vision 20/20 on Twitter at @GoVision2020.

I am confident there are many other great resources online for parents (feel free to leave comments below), as well as products. It is up to the parent to decide what is best for their individual families. There are many different services and products. I encourage all parents to do their research before choosing the right product for them.

For more info: CDC - Teen Drivers, Save Teen Drivers Blog, The Safe Driver. Take the time to visit these websites and resources.

Also posted on

Friday, August 28, 2009

Sue Scheff: Parents - Teach Time Management: The Key to Success

Teach Time Management: The Key to Success
Topics: Organizing Your Work, Scheduling and Time Management

Every busy parent, wishing for more than 24 hours in the day, has tried to come up with ways to make more efficient use of their time. By establishing efficient routines and reasonable schedules in your home, you have the ability to do just that. You might even find yourself with enough time to plan fun extra activities to do with your family. Rhona M. Gordon, a speech pathologist, organizational specialist and author of Thinking Organized for Parents and Children, has these tips for parents to try:

•Start early! To save time, everything in your house should have a designated place, including: back packs, lunch boxes, coats etc…Start practicing over the summer by having children put the items they use daily, such as swim bags or sports equipment, in a pre-arranged spot. It sounds simple, but it is true– it’s easier to find something if that item has a home.
•Set up a monthly calendar with each child. Begin by listing holidays and birthdays. Use your school district’s global calendar to add school vacation days, exams or other testing dates and any other important events. When school begins, help your child expand the calendar with a color coding system: red for tests or quizzes, blue for long-term projects, black for nightly homework and green for fun activities. Being able to see activities for an entire month helps children plan and organize time more effectively.
•Practice estimating time with activities such as a family dinner or sports practice. Begin by practicing this skill with everyday activities over the summer, and then encourage your child to use the same strategy with his or her homework. By recognizing the actual amount of time necessary for schoolwork, chores and fun activities, your child gains an awareness of the passage of time and the importance of managing time efficiently.
•Teach your child how to divide long term projects into manageable tasks. Once again, it is best to practice this strategy with fun activities over the summer, and then apply the skill to schoolwork in the fall. It is easy to combine this strategy with practicing how to estimate time accurately. For example, have your child list the steps associated with preparing a family dinner, such as choosing the menu, finding the ingredients, cooking the food, setting the table, eating, clearing the table and washing the dishes. After the activity is divided into specific tasks, your child can estimate the time each step will take and compare this to the actual time. Learning how to divide large projects helps students initiate and complete daunting academic assignments by breaking the large task into manageable pieces.
•Avoid procrastination. Some students cancel afternoon or weekend plans because of homework but still delay completing the work until the last minute. Teach your child to pair difficult or boring tasks with a reward by modeling. You can explain that you have been putting off cleaning that closet or junk drawer, but have decided to get it done and then reward yourself with a long bubble bath. Working from a “To Do” list helps both you and your child prioritize tasks and plan time effectively.
As children become more conscious of time, it is easier for them to succeed in school and extracurricular activities. Fortunately, time management skills can be learned. Parents can help students become aware of time every day: how it is spent, how it is wasted, how it is planned, and how quickly it passes. Practicing time management strategies will help your student become a better manager of time and ultimately benefit the whole family.

More tips from Rhona Gordon are available online at .
Follow on Twitter @Education_com

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teens, kids and disappointment "I didn't make the team"

When your child comes home with disappointing news that they either didn't make the team or was recently cut from the team, are you prepared on how to handle these feelings of rejection and negative emotions? Be an educated parent - here are some very good parenting tips.

Source: Connect with Kids

“There’s about 30 kids in there, and only 10 can make it.”

– Glenn, Age 13

The start of the school year means the start of sports try-outs. Kids will run and jump and throw and catch as hard as they can and then some find out they didn’t make it. They didn’t get chosen for the team. How can you help your child cope with rejection?

Fourteen-year-old Chelsea and 13-year-old Glenn are trying out for their middle school basketball teams. “[It’s been] pretty hard, for a try-out,” Glenn says. “I’ve been working hard doing push ups, sit-ups, running a mile, doing different drills,” Chelsea adds.

It’s a competitive program, so they might make the program and they might not.

Those who don’t, experts say, will go home a little angry, and very disappointed. “A lot of negative emotions, unfortunately,” says sport psychologist Rick Van Haveren. “Sadness, disappointment, perhaps confusion about why they didn’t make the team. Maybe some feelings of low self-worth, self-esteem.”

The good news, he says, is that for most kids the sadness won’t last. They’ll play another sport, find another hobby, or will practice a little harder and try again next year. “For example, classic story, Michael Jordan got cut from his high school basketball team. And viewed that really as a challenge, and worked even harder, and eventually made the team and of course went on to be the athlete that he was,” Van Haveren says.

Still, some teens may need help seeing rejection as an invitation to work harder. There are things parents can do to avoid the small, but real chance of serious depression. “You know you can always praise a student for effort,” Van Haveren says. “And sometimes that can help to build up positive feelings about their self-esteem or self-worth, and allow them to go back and try out for that team again.”

Tips for Parents

Not making the team isn’t the end of the world, but for a child that has been cut from a sports team, it can be a very difficult time. “A lot of negative emotions” are typical, according to sports psychologist Rick Van Haveren. “Sadness, disappointment, perhaps confusion about why they didn’t make the team…maybe some feelings of low self-worth, self-esteem.” But sports history is filled with stories of athletes, like Michael Jordan and Wilma Rudolph, who failed first, before moving on to greatness.

Van Haveren says it’s helpful for parents to praise children for their effort. “Reward them for other areas where they have relative strengths,” Haveren suggests. “And sometimes that can help to build up positive feelings about their self-esteem, and allow them to go back and try out for that team again.”

There is a phrase often used by coaches during training: “No pain, no gain.” Remind children that sometimes it is impossible to succeed without failing along the way. “Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose,” Van Haveren says. “Losing, or getting cut (from the team) can be a part of life. But it can be a learning experience, and in reality, can end up being a positive experience because it makes you a stronger person, able to take on and deal with the challenges of life.”

Sports are not about winning at all costs. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, sports can help children “develop physical skills, get exercise, make friends, have fun, learn to play as a member of a team, learn to play fair, and improve self-esteem.” Attitudes and behavior taught to children in sports carry over to adult life. Parents should take an active role in helping their child develop good sportsmanship. To help your child get the most out of sports, the AACAP says you need to be actively involved. This includes:

■Providing emotional support and positive feedback.
■Attending some games and talking about them afterward.
■Having realistic expectations for your child.
■Learning the sport and supporting your child’s involvement.
■Helping you child talk with you about experiences with the coach and other team members.
■Helping your child handle disappointments and losing.
■Modeling respectful spectator behavior.
Sometimes, a child’s failure to make the team, or consistent failure in sports, can lead to anxiety and even depression. Depression among teenagers is increasing at “an alarming rate,” according to the National Mental Health Association. The NMHA says as many as one in five teens suffers from clinical depression at some time during their teenage years. Depression can take several forms, including bipolar disorder (formerly known as manic depression). Depression can be difficult to diagnose in teens because adults often expect teens to be moody, and they often are. But depression is more than typical moodiness.

The following symptoms may indicate depression, particularly when they last for more than two weeks:

■Poor performance in school
■Withdrawal from friends and activities
■Sadness and hopelessness
■Lack of enthusiasm, energy or motivation
■Anger and rage
■Overreaction to criticism
■Feelings of being unable to satisfy ideals
■Poor self-esteem or guilt
■Indecision, lack of concentration or forgetfulness
■Restlessness and agitation
■Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
■Substance abuse
■Problems with authority
■Suicidal thoughts or actions
It is extremely important that depressed teens receive prompt, professional treatment. Depression is serious and, if left untreated, can worsen to the point of becoming life threatening. If depressed teens refuse treatment, it may be necessary for family members or other concerned adults to seek professional advice. Contact your local mental health association or a school counselor for suggestions on treatment.
Some of the most common and effective ways to treat depression in adolescents are:

■Cognitive-behavioral therapy helps teens change negative patterns of thinking and behaving. Several studies support the effectiveness of this treatment.
■Psychotherapy provides teens an opportunity to explore events and feelings that are painful or troubling to them. Psychotherapy also teaches them coping skills.
■Interpersonal therapy focuses on how to develop healthier relationships at home and at school.
■Medication relieves some symptoms of depression and is often prescribed along with therapy.

■American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
■National Mental Health Association

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sue Scheff: Google Bomb Book featured in Washington Post by Kathleen Parker

I was so flattered and honored to speak with Columnist and Journalist, Kathleen Parker. She interviewed me yesterday and wrote an amazing column which included my new book book, Google Bomb, that is now available on Amazon and will be officially released on September 1st. The endorsements and reviews have been fantastic! There is a ground swell, and I believe we have the making of a best seller. The topic is timely and sizzling with the recent news on Google being forced to expose an anonymous Blogger.

Follow Google Bomb Book on Twitter @GoogleBombBook and @SueScheff

Shock Waves From the Google Bombs

By Kathleen Parker
Wednesday, August 26, 2009

When Oscar Wilde observed that the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about, he could not have imagined the Internet.

The wild frontier we now know and (mostly) love called the blogosphere is a not-always-okay corral where Free Speech is armed and often dangerous.

The latest showdown is between two women — a Vogue model and an anonymous blogger — at odds over what is permissible in the name of free expression. After the blogger called Liskula Cohen a “skank,” among other things, the model demanded her identity from the blog host, Google. A New York Supreme Court judge agreed that she was entitled to the information and ordered the company to reveal her name.

Outraged, the blogger, revealed as Rosemary Port, is launching a $15 million lawsuit against Google for disclosing her identity. Google’s Andrew Pederson said that while his company sympathizes with victims of cyber-bullying, “We also take great care to respect privacy concerns and will only provide information about a user in response to a subpoena or other court order.”


This all may seem like an inside-the-runway spat between two women who don’t like each other. As pioneering blogger and law professor Glenn Reynolds noted on Instapundit, “I never would have heard the words ‘Liskula Cohen’ and ’skank’ together if it hadn’t been for her blogger-outing litigation efforts.”

The model case isn’t insignificant, however, and raises weighty questions about privacy, anonymity and the future of e-free speech.

The problem of online defamation is hardly new, but several recent lawsuits have begun challenging the anything-goes modus operandi of the Internet. One of the most famous dates to 2006, when Sue Scheff won a staggering $11.3 million verdict against a woman who had posted hundreds of defamatory comments about Scheff and her company, which counsels the parents of troubled teens.

After years of torment that included stalkers and death wishes, Scheff was able to prove that her reputation and business suffered as a result of the defendant’s comments. In her new book, “Google Bomb,” due for release Sept. 1 and co-authored with attorney John W. Dozier Jr., Scheff tells the story of her lawsuit and offers advice to others similarly defamed online.
“Google bomb” is Internet slang for attempting to raise the ranking of a given page during a Google search. The popularity of a page may not reflect the page’s relationship to truth, but it may be popular for other reasons. Let’s just say, nasty sells.

Defusing Google bombs isn’t much fun unless you’re a computer geek or have no preferable ways of spending your time. To keep your online profile positive and prominent, you have to blog, tweet and maintain Web sites — or hire someone to do it for you. Scheff says she resents having to do these things, but, “if you don’t own your own name, someone else will.”
Scheff considers herself lucky because she was able to hire an attorney as well as an Internet monitoring company, ReputationDefender, that manages her online persona. Others, hundreds of whom write her each week, aren’t so fortunate. In one example, a wedding photographer lost his business when a single unhappy bride went ‘zilla and trashed him online.

“No one is immune,” says Scheff. And, just because you’re not personally active on the Internet doesn’t mean that your persona isn’t online — not necessarily in a good way. The Internet has unleashed that part of ourselves that we used to keep under wraps. Dark thoughts, like the trolls of Mordor, can now surface and thrive by the light of day.

The freedom granted by anonymity and a virtual audience may have been a boon to democracy, affording everyone a voice, but it has been a plague on decency. Inhibition, we lament, is an undervalued virtue.

Scheff’s case and the Cohen incident suggest that a new level of accountability, largely missing from personal blogs, may be in the offing. “What you type today can haunt you tomorrow,” says Scheff. “People need to know that if you use your mouse and keypad to harm others, there is a price tag.”

Harm is the operative word. Although Scheff was able to prove material losses, Cohen likely gained from her brief tenure as a victim. In fact, she has dropped her lawsuit and forgiven the blogger.

No one likes being bashed online or elsewhere — and public people are familiar with the experience. But even Scheff thinks that in the absence of quantifiable defamation, anonymity deserves protection. As Google and the courts slug it out, Cohen did manage to render an oft-ignored lesson in bold italics: Think before you type.

Or else someone may want more than a penny for your thoughts.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sue Scheff: The New School Year: Starting with a Clean Slate

What a great website and educational information to help you raise your daughters. Take the time to learn more about A Way Through.

The New School Year: Starting with a Clean Slate

By Jane Balvanz

Last week we had our school’s ice cream social and meet the teacher night. There was such excitement as students raced around to find out whether they got the “right” teacher and if their friends were in their class.

Kindergarteners marched in with their parents, behind them if they were wary and ahead if they were excited. I like to watch this rite of passage. The kindergarteners start school with clean slates. No one really knows them. These students basically are happy little people, and as a teacher friend of mine once said, “They smell like milk!” They love school, the teacher, the kids, the crayons, and everything in the whole wide world. They are curious little sponges absorbing everything they can.

I like that they start the school year with a clean slate. I wish that for all students of all ages. We have memories, however, which can either be friend or foe. On the friend side, they us let us recall pleasant experiences or caution us to be careful in certain situations. On the foe side, they hold onto negative experiences without factoring in changes as time passes. It’s the foe side that keeps us stuck, doesn’t allow us to clean our slate. and refuses to let others clean theirs.

If your daughter was involved in a relational aggression incident in school last year – be it as bully, target, or bystander – help her start the new school year with a clean slate. We’ve provided three conversation starters you may want to use with your daughter for her unique situation(s).

1.If you were a bully, remember that everyone makes mistakes. If you have apologized, made amends, and changed your ways, go back to school with your head held high. Other girls may need time to trust you. Continue to treat others the way you want to be treated. You will attract old or new friends this way. What do you feel about this?
2.If you were a bystander who backed a bully or didn’t help the target, learn from your mistakes. If you learned that it’s not OK to support a bully or that you should help a target when you safely can, celebrate! Plan to be a Positive Active Bystander™, a bystander that helps instead of hurts. When you can do this, it shows just how much courage you have. That’s something you can be proud of! Since everyone is a bystander at some time, what ideas can you think of to help yourself become a Positive Active Bystander?
3.If you were a target, you may have many different feelings. Sometimes targets feel ashamed, like they are weak or that it’s their fault they were bullied. Remember that no one can make someone bully another person. The bully makes the choice. You are not responsible for others’ choices. If you have learned to stick up for yourself or ask for help when needed, you are one wise girl. What advice do you have for other girls who may become a target of bullying?
Best wishes for a great school year!

A Way Through, LLC is having a contest! To win a When Girls Hurt Girls™ parent pack from the age group of your choice, simply write a comment about this blog post in the box below called “leave a reply” and click the submit comment button. We will draw for the winner and their name will be announced when we publish our next Guiding Girls ezine.

© 2009 A Way Through, LLC

Female friendship experts Jane Balvanz and Blair Wagner publish A Way Through, LLC’s Guiding Girls ezine. If you’re ready to guide girls in grades K – 8 through painful friendships, get your FREE mini audio workshop and ongoing tips now at

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sue Scheff: How to know if your child is bullied

Get ready for Dr. Michele Borba's BIG Book of Parenting Solutions, releasing just in time for school. Here is another sneak peak about a very important topic, bullying.

REALITY CHECK: Research finds that 49 percent of kids say they’ve been bullied at least once or twice during the school term, but only 32 percent of their parents believed them.

By Michele Borba

Those school doors will be opening soon and excitement is in the air. But many kids may not be sharing that excitement and in fact may be a bit jittery. And they have good cause. One study found that one out of every four children will be bullied by another youth in school this month. If your child is bullied, it means that peers are intentionally causing him pain.

Reports also confirm that bullying is starting at younger ages and is more frequent and aggressive that ever before. Do know that if your child is bullied chances are he or she did NOTHING to cause it. Bottom line: bullying behavior must be taken very seriously.

Your first step to helping your son or daughter is to know the warning signs that your child may be bullied and needs your support. If your child complains of being taunted, picked on, or threatened by a peer, please take him seriously. Unfortunately, however, chances are that if your child is bullied, he won’t tell you. He may be embarrassed, doesn’t want you to be involved in the situation or feel you won’t take him seriously. So watch for the changes in your child’s typical behavior.

Signs and Symptoms of Bullying (pg. 324 Big Book of Parenting Solutions)

•Unexplained physical marks, cuts, bruises and scrapes, or torn clothing
•Unexplained loss of toys, school supplies, clothing, lunches, or money
•Afraid to be left alone: doesn’t want to go to school; afraid of riding the school bus; wants you there at dismissal, suddenly clingy
•Suddenly sullen, withdrawn, evasive; remarks about feeling lonely
•Marked changed in typical behavior or personality
•Physical complaints; headaches, stomachaches, frequent visits the school nurse’s office
•Difficulty sleeping, nightmares, cries self to sleep, bed wetting
•Begins bullying siblings or younger kids
•Waits to get home to use the bathroom
•Ravenous when he comes home (lunch money or lunch may be stolen)
•Sudden and significant drop in grades; difficulty focusing and concentrating
Follow Michele Borba on Twitter at @MicheleBorba

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sue Scheff: Students - The Stress of Being Gifted

As school is opening, is your child gifted? Have you ever considered the stress and anxiety that comes with being gifted? Having to meet high expectations and feeling the pressure that can result in other difficulties. Please take the time to read these great parenting tips. Be an educated parent.

Stress of Being Gifted

“I have all this pressure on me that they’re saying ‘Emily, help me!’ And then I can’t.”

– Emily, age 10.

A small percentage of the kids now heading back to school are called “gifted.” They are children who are very smart, multi-talented and often stressed out. High expectations and the pressure to succeed can weigh heavily on high IQ kids. But there are ways to help them cope with the pressure.

Ten-years-old, she practices the piano almost every day. Emily is a gifted student and she knows it. She expects to perform better than the average student and will push herself until she does. “If I don’t maybe play piano really good that day,” she says, “I just play forever until I really get it.”

As smart as she is, Emily is beginning to understand that the label “gifted” is mostly a blessing but also a curse. Sometimes the other kids tease her. “I mean if you’re teased….you have a lot of pressure on you and then maybe it affects your schoolwork or something,” she says.

But teasing is only one of the difficulties gifted children experience. Research also shows that they feel a constant pressure to excel at their work and, at times, even to help other children with their schoolwork.

“Sometimes, just sometimes when I like don’t know a problem, it kind of makes me feel weird because I have all this pressure on me that they’re saying ‘Emily, help me!’ And then I can’t,” says Emily.

Experts say the best way for parents to help their gifted children cope with the pressure of being so talented, so smart is to encourage them to talk about it.

Family and Child Psychiatrist, Dr. Dave Davis says because these children are gifted, they will excel at learning how to cope just as they excel at math and reading and playing the piano. “These coping skills are all learned and often bright children are able to learn them more quickly than other children and that gives them another jump ahead.”

That’s something 8-year-old Ryan is learning from his parents. “I think they’ve taught me a lot about solving problems, not getting so mad.”

In the end, Ryan and Emily have learned that being ‘gifted’ doesn’t just mean being smart. It also means being different.

Tips for Parents

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, most teens experience stress when they perceive a situation as dangerous, difficult, or painful and they do not have the resources to cope. Some potential sources of stress for teens might include:

■school demands and frustrations
■negative thoughts and feelings about themselves
■changes in their bodies
■problems with friends
■unsafe living environment/neighborhood
■separation or divorce of parents
■chronic illness or severe problems in the family
■death of a loved one
■moving or changing schools
■taking on too many activities or having too high expectations
■family financial problems
Some teens become overloaded with stress. When it happens, inadequately managed stress can lead to anxiety, withdrawal, aggression, physical illness, or poor coping skills such as drug and/or alcohol use.

There are a number of benefits typically associated with being identified as “gifted’ child. These benefits may include:

■access to superior educational resources
■participation in challenging and stimulating academic programs
■unique opportunities to explore special talents and gifts in non-traditional settings
■personal recognition
■enhanced opportunities for advancement
However, a recent study by researchers from the University of Michigan Medical Center has found evidence that gifted children may be subject to stresses specific to their special designation. While the children participating in the study all reported generally positive feelings about being gifted, they also identified up to nineteen individual stressors that caused them varying degrees of anxiety and discomfort. According to Dr. Lesli Preuss, the lead author of the study, these stressful feelings and experiences include such things as:

■increased or additional workload resulting from participation in the gifted program
■extraordinarily high expectations regarding grades and perfect work
■being expected to help out other kids in the class
■pressure on selves to excel in everything they do, whether academics, sports, languages and other activities
■insensitive treatment by teachers – i.e. being singled out in class as gifted, being expected to know all the answers, etc.
■generally higher expectations regarding behavior
■feelings of isolation
■feeling misunderstood by peers
Regardless of whether or not your child is officially designated as gifted, it is important that parents be aware of how their children are reacting to their environment at school and at home. Children react to stress in a number of ways, and their reactions can include such behaviors as:

■increasingly moody or withdrawn behavior
■suddenly rebellious or defiant challenges to authority
■changes in sleeping and eating patterns
■loss of interest in activities or people they previously enjoyed
■reluctance or refusal to go to school
However, Dr. Rex Forehand cautions that parents should be careful not to overreact to signs of changes similar to those listed above. “Some of these new or changing behaviors are related to the normal transition from childhood to adulthood. They should not necessarily be seen as danger signs of poor stress management.”

Some experts say that learning and using effective coping skills is critical to a child's ability to successfully navigate stressful situations. Some examples of coping skills are:

■suppressing feelings of discomfort in the short-term in order to get through situations
■directing feelings of anxiety toward more positive outlets (sublimination)
■learning relaxation exercises (abdominal breathing and muscle relaxation techniques)
■developing assertiveness skills. For example, state feelings in polite firm and not overly aggressive or passive ways: ("I feel angry when you yell at me" "Please stop yelling.")
■rehearsing and practicing situations which cause stress. One example is taking a speech class if talking in front of a class makes you anxious
■decreasing negative self-talk
■learning to feel good about doing a competent or "good enough" job rather than demanding perfection from yourself and others
■developing and maintaining a sense of humor
By using these and other techniques, teenagers can begin to manage stress. If a teen talks about or shows signs of being overly stressed, a consultation with a child and adolescent psychiatrist or qualified mental health professional may be helpful.

■American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
■Dr. Lesli Preuss, University of Michigan Medical Center
■Dr. Rex Forehand, Director, Institute for Behavioral Research Health

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sue Scheff: Back to School - School Fights

As school is opening, be an educated parent - read more about school fights and parenting tips to help you help your child.

School Fights

“People are just throwing words, and words turn into action and they start hitting each other.”

– David, 16, on school fights he has witnessed

One in three teens, both boys and girls, say they’ve been in a school fight, according to the latest survey by the National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center. In the dynamic of fighting, there is an attacker and a victim, and typically, one more child: a witness, who is also a victim.

Some students say fights are almost commonplace. But for every child in a fight, there are a hundred others who watch, and it’s frightening. Ron, 17, says just a couple of weekends ago, a brawl broke out in the stands at his high schools basketball game.

“The stands emptied, everybody came to the middle of the floor and just kind of converged. I think there were a few people taken to jail,” says Ron.

Fights are scary, for those in the fight, and for those who watch.

“If the child is more of a sensitive kid, and more aware that somebody could get hurt, it could be a very frightening incident for them,” explains psychologist Dr. Alexandra Phipps.

“When I see it happening, it…upsets me,” says Ron.

Parents need to be aware of the impact witnessing a fight can have on their child, and respect how their child is feeling, says Phipps. “I think it’s really important for a parent to listen to what a child says and listen for the emotion, and in no way belittle what the child says they are feeling.”

Experts say if your child has witnessed a fight, look for symptoms of stress, including nightmares, difficulty sleeping, or even reluctance to return to school.

“If any of these symptoms go on for more than a week, I would consider taking the child to a family psychologist,” Phipps says.

Tips for Parents

It is difficult to gauge how a particular child will respond to witnessing fighting and other scenes of violence in school. However parents still know their children best, and know what is normal behavior for his or her child. According to The National PTA, sudden changes in a child’s behavior, whether the changes are subtle or dramatic, can serve to alert parents that something is troubling their child. The National PTA provides the following list of signs that a child may be suffering from emotional upset as a result of exposure to violent behavior.

■Withdrawal from friends
■Decline in grades
■Abruptly quitting sports or clubs the child had previously enjoyed
■Sleep disruptions
■Eating problems
■Chronic physical complaints (stomachache or headaches)

It is important that parents not overreact to these behaviors in their children, since they may be signs of normal adolescent development. However, these symptoms do indicate that parents should be aware of changes in their kids’ behavior, and think about them as potential problem indicators.

The following suggestions for ways that parents can help make schools a safer environment for their children are excerpted from information provided by the Center for Effective Collaboration and Practice:

■Discuss the school's discipline policy with your child. Show your support for the rules, and help your child understand the reasons for them.
■Involve your child in setting rules for appropriate behavior at home.
■Talk with your child about the violence he or she sees--on television, in video games, and possibly in the neighborhood. Help your child understand the consequences of violence.
■Teach your child how to solve problems. Praise your child when he or she follows through.
■Help your child find ways to show anger that do not involve verbally or physically hurting others. When you get angry, use it as an opportunity to model these appropriate responses for your child-and talk about it.
■Help your child understand the value of accepting individual differences.
■Note any disturbing behaviors in your child. For example, frequent angry outbursts, excessive fighting and bullying of other children, cruelty to animals, fire setting, frequent behavior problems at school and in the neighborhood, lack of friends, and alcohol or drug use can be signs of serious problems. Get help for your child. Talk with a trusted professional in your child's school or in the community.
■Keep lines of communication open with your child--even when it is tough. Encourage your child always to let you know where and with whom he or she will be. Get to know your child's friends.
■Listen to your child if he or she shares concerns about friends who may be exhibiting troubling behaviors. Share this information with a trusted professional, such as the school psychologist, principal, or teacher.
■Be involved in your child's school life by supporting and reviewing homework, talking with his or her teacher(s), and attending school functions such as parent conferences, class programs, open houses, and PTA meetings.
■Work with your child's school to make it more responsive to all students and to all families. Share your ideas about how the school can encourage family involvement, welcome all families, and include them in meaningful ways in their children's education.
■Encourage your school to offer before- and after-school programs.
■Volunteer to work with school-based groups concerned with violence prevention. If none exist, offer to form one.
■Find out if there is a violence prevention group in your community. Offer to participate in the group's activities.
■Talk with the parents of your child's friends. Discuss how you can form a team to ensure your children's safety.
■Find out if your employer offers provisions for parents to participate in school activities.


■National Parent Teacher Association
■National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center
■The Center for Effective Collaboration and Practice

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Magnolia Hills Christian formerly Carolina Springs Academy (Parent Alert)

Please note that Carolina Springs Academy, the program that harmed my daughter and defrauded us, has had their license revoked this month. They have recently changed their name to Magnolia Hills Christian. It is believed the staff will remain and I believe nothing will change except the name. Falling under a Christian/Religious umbrella may not require them to meet the same regulations a traditional accredited school or program would meet.

The irony of this change is when my daughter asked for her Bible at Carolina Springs Academy, they took it from her – and she got demerits. They were not allowed Bible Study or to have any Bibles.

She prayed every night that she wouldn’t wake up – it was that bad. She was cautious not to be caught praying since that would have been a demerit, too. Our story is published in Wit’s End (Health Communications, Inc. July 2008) or you can read A Parent’s True Story.

The marketers (Teen Help, Lisa Irvin, Help My Teen, Jane Hawley, Teens in Crisis, Life Lines, etc) of these programs claim I was a disgruntled parent. Yes, when a program harms our children parents do become disgruntled.

Parents still contact me to this day letting me know about treatment their children have received. Former students also contact me with their stories. And the sad news is it’s the same treatment my daughter received 10 years ago!

Sure, maybe they’ve made a few improvements while they were under scrutiny. But the problem is the same “people” are running the program.

I defeated this organization in a jury trial – proving my story has truth – and then won an $11M judgment for Internet Defamation that I endured following my victory and their loss. My book, Google Bomb, The Untold Story of the $11.3M Verdict (Health Communications Inc. September 2009) is available now for early release.

Learn from my experiences and my mistakes – gain from my knowledge.

Learn more.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sue Scheff: Single Parenting with Ziggy!

What does Ziggy have in common with single parenting?

Tom Wilson!

Many people may wonder why a Parent Advocate would write about a cartoon character. Well, the cartoonist is not a cartoon character, he is very real and his memoir, Zig-Zagging, is a remarkable story of how Ziggy empowered Tom Wilson’s life and has given so much to people throughout the world.

Afterall, who doesn’t know and love Ziggy? Who can’t relate to some of Ziggy’s situations written in the comic strips?

Last spring I picked up Zig-Zagging and was ready to read all about how Ziggy was created and what drives him. Instead, with the turn of each page, I realized that Tom Wilson is much more than Ziggy. Sure, Ziggy is the animated Icon character we all love, but Tom Wilson is the man that gives Ziggy life. What I didn’t know was how Ziggy gave Tom Wilson life.

Tom Wilson’s father (Tom Wilson Sr.), the original creator of Ziggy, left him a legacy that he couldn’t ignore. From a young boy he would watch his father create, draw and struggle at times with his cartooning. His father worked hard and diligently and in many ways was more of a father to his work, than to the family. This is not an insult; it was how he provided for his family.
Now back to where the single parenting is connected. After Tom Wilson married his beautiful wife, Susan, and they have two wonderful boys; Susan was struck with cancer. After a long 7 year battle with breast cancer, Susan passed away. Not only was Tom devastated, he now is a single parent to their two sons. Attempting to be strong and grieve at the same time after such a loss, was overwhelming for him.

Tom Wilson’s struggles with parenting were all too familiar to me, as a single parent, that I realized this book has so much more to offer. It is not only about a cartoonist who inherited a legacy that has been extremely successful worldwide; it is about real life issues. Life. Death. Depression. Parenting. Grieving. Loss. Single parenting.

Many people assume that happiness is related to fame, good fortune, legacies etc. Tom Wilson’s struggles and triumphs will have you turning each page with a cheer, a chuckle and a tear.
What a fantastic read, and a quick read too! Perfect for a lazy weekend or plane trip. Go ahead, add a little Ziggy in your life! Single parenting may be a bit challenging, but we are never alone and there is always hope!

Order Zig-Zagging, Loving Madly, Losing Badly and How Ziggy Saved My Life by Tom Wilson on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders or wherever books are sold.

Also on The

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sue Scheff: Google Bomb is Available NOW!

Amazon has the books ready for delivery and already the demand is high!

Online vs Offline - are they equal to who you are?

When Revenge turns to E-Venge? Do you know how to protect yourself?

Free Speech does not condone Internet Defamation!

Rise above Internet Defamation - learn how to take your online image back and how to maintain it!

Sue Scheff: 3 Keys to Helping Girls Effectively Address an Emotional Bully

A Way Through - The Female Freindship Experts.
Recently I was introduced to this educational website for parents of daughters. You will find some great tips, advice and information to help you be a better parent to your daughter. Here is one of their recent Blogs on a hot topic - bullying.

How Should a Girl Respond to an Emotional Bully?

Let’s say you’re in a meeting at work and a co-worker rolls her eyes when you offer a suggestion to a problem your team is discussing. You’re tired of her constant non-verbal abuse and you decide to address her. Do you know what you’d say? What tone of voice would you use? What emotion would you portray as you walk up to her? This situation is stressful enough to make even the most socially savvy adult break into a sweat. Can you imagine doing it when you are nine years old? Or 13 years old?

Pay Attention to Words, Tone of Voice, and Emotion

Girls struggle with how to respond when they are on the receiving end of hurtful friendship behaviors. After facilitating hundreds of friendship role plays between girls, I’ve noticed three keys to successfully delivering a message that maintains dignity and diffuses the situation: words, tone of voice, and emotion.
The Right Words

Girls’ tendencies are to immediately focus on the words they’ll say. That’s great, and it can be really helpful to practice saying what they want to say. The best word choices tend to name the hurtful behavior and focus on themselves, offering the other girl a way to back out of future aggression. Let’s revisit the eye-rolling example above… “I’ve noticed when I offer suggestions in our team meetings that you roll your eyes. I’m wondering what’s up between us?”

Tone of Voice

How many ways can you say the word “so?” Try saying it with these tones of voice: sarcasm, fear, curiosity, aggression, confusion. You know the old saying… It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it.

This key really should be first, but oftentimes it helps girls to think through what they’re going to say and how they’re going to say it. Now, before they open their mouths, they need to understand that they can choose their emotion. This is a concept many adults find difficult to understand, and it is challenging for girls to get it too. Let me say it again… YOU CAN CHOOSE YOUR EMOTIONS! No one else can make you mad. Or sad. Or disappointed. You make you mad, sad, or disappointed. By helping our girls learn to manage their emotions and come to discover that our response is our response, we help them to distinguish between what happened, how we feel about it, and what emotion we choose. From that place, a girl chooses her emotion in addition to her words and her tone of voice. Then when she grows up and enters the workplace, she’ll know exactly how to handle that difficult co-worker – with dignity and grace.

© 2009 A Way Through, LLC

Female friendship experts Jane Balvanz and Blair Wagner publish A Way Through, LLC’s Guiding Girls ezine. If you’re ready to guide girls in grades K – 8 through painful friendships, get your FREE mini audio workshop and ongoing tips now at

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sue Scheff: Parenting Solutions to Stop “Poor Loser” Attitudes and Boost Sportsmanship

Another sneak peak of what The BIG Book of Parenting Solutions, by Parenting Expert, Dr. Michele Borba. As school opens, this is a timely post.

Parenting Solutions to Stop “Poor Loser” Attitudes and Boost Sportsmanship

REALITY CHECK: “I should have won.” “They ought to fire the coach.” “I could have gotten the right answer. The teacher doesn’t like me.” “If I were on a better team I’d win.” Sound familiar? They’re all symptoms of a deadly youth ailment called “Poor Loser” and it’s spreading among our youth.

Watching any kid be a poor loser is embarrassing, but when the kid is yours, it’s downright humiliating. Sure, your son or daughter may be the best drummer in the band, have the highest-grade point average in the class, be the best gymnast on the squad, or the fastest sprinter in town, but the moment she starts blaming others, making excuses, arguing, or booing, her skills no longer matter. What everyone sees instead is just a poor loser, and that’s a tough image to erase.

So what do you do? (Believe me, wearing a paper bag over your face to escape humiliation will get old after awhile). What you need is a good makeover plan to rid your kid of this bad attitude, and that’s where I can help. With a new school year approaching (honest, it’s almost here!), and all those swim lessons, soccer games, gym meets and other very public kid gatherings going on under parents watching eyes, there’s no time better than the present to start in. Here are solutions to help you make real change happen and end that bad attitude once and for all.

1. Confront your behavior. Kids aren’t born poor losers, so ask yourself where is your kid learning this behavior? Are you modeling good sportsmanship? Do you make excuses for your own difficulties? Blame your boss when something goes wrong? Yell at the coach? Criticize your kid’s teachers in front of them? Your kid is watching. What can you do to be better example of good sportsmanship for your kid?

2. Call “foul” on your kid on the first hint of losing attitude. Each and every time your kid shows that bad attitude (he makes an excuse, blames others, can’t accept criticism, boos, criticizes the teacher, coach, sibling), call him on it. Let him know plain and simple that kind of attitude isn’t going to be tolerated any more. If he exhibits a losing attitude with others, take him aside and tell him what you noticed: “I heard you criticizing the teacher for your mistake,” “You were fighting with the coach…” or “You blamed all your teammates.”

3. “Red card” any uncivil, aggressive behavior. Spell out your expectations: if your kid displays bad sportsmanlike behavior again, he will leave the game (play group, scout meeting, or whatever) on the spot or apologize. Your child has to recognize that he must be considerate of other people’s feelings, and if he is not, he just simply may not participate. And if your child does display any aggressive, insulting, or rude behavior that goes over your line—such as booing, hitting, or cheating—remove him from the activity.

4. Emphasize good sportsmanship. Some families have a personal motto that represents good sportsmanship: “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” “If you can’t play nicely, you don’t play,” “Winning isn’t everything.” You might choose your family’s favorite, hang up a few posters on the fridge, and repeat it again and again until kids can recite it without reminders.

5. Find teachable moments to show the right way to handle defeat. Kids need to learn that everyone suffers defeat, but there is a right (and wrong) way to handle setbacks. And the best lessons are those teachable moments. Use them: While watching the Olympics, a quiz or even a reality TV show, say, “There’s only going to be one winner. Let’s watch to see what the losers do. See—they’re shaking hands with their opponents.” Or “That was a tough competition. Did you notice how some of the kids acted who lost? They were complaining the event wasn’t fair. They sure didn’t act like good sports.”

6. Teach your child to encourage her teammates. Good sports and good losers support and encourage each other. One way to help your kid be more encouraging is to teach the “two praise rule.” It’s simple: you must praise your peers at least twice before the event ends. Help your kid think of a few encouraging comments—for example, “Great job!”, “Super answer!” “Amazing play!” Then suggest he practice the rule at any group activity.

7. Teach how to lose gracefully. Not everyone can win; so we need to teach our kids how to accept victory as well as defeat–and do so gracefully. If we don’t, our kids won’t know how to handle their loss and because they lack that skill, they often look like poor losers. You could help your child learn a statement to say to herself to bounce back from defeat: “Nobody’s perfect.” “I can turn this around.” “I can handle this.” Show how you cope with defeat, so your kid can model your example. Create a phrase together your child can say when he suffers defeat so she sounds like a graceful loser—for example: “Good race!” “That was close.” “Let’s try again tomorrow.” “Wow, I’m impressed.” Help him practice it at home so he can confidently say it to peers.

Tuning up good sportsmanship is about how to help our kids play the game called life—and how to play it well. We must replace a poor losing attitude with those glorious old homespun values of fairness and forgiveness. So roll up your sleeves, and let the attitude makeover begin!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sue Scheff: Where Does Your Teen's High School Rank?

As school is opening, many parents that have teens entering High School have probably already researched their reputation. Recently posted this article about what High School rankings are, and what to they mean. At this time of the year, I felt it was a good time to share this article on my Blog.

High School Rankings: What Do They Mean?

First came lists naming the country’s “best colleges.” Then magazines began ranking high schools. With a click of the mouse, parents can read whether their local school is considered one of the top 100 in the country, one of the top 1000, or whether it fails to make the cut. While this may fill “winners” with pride, it leaves others wondering why their wonderful school didn’t make the list, and how any one school can claim to be the “best” anyway.

“There are plenty of rankings available, and some feel like ‘beauty’ contest awards – ‘best test scores,’ ‘top debate or sports teams’ etc,” says Paul Gazzerro, Director of School Evaluation Services, which helped create the methodology used for US News and World Report’s “Best High Schools” issue. “So, despite how tempting it is to get excited about a ‘best school’ ranking, the first question any skeptical consumer should ask is, ‘best at what?’”

Newsweek’s list of the “Top 1300 High Schools,” for example, is based on the number of students taking Advanced Placement (AP), International Baccalaureate (IB) or Cambridge tests. New Jersey Monthly’s list of “Top High Schools in New Jersey” is based on a number of factors, including the school environment, student performance on AP and SAT exams, and the number of students going on to college. US News and World Report’s “Best High Schools” list, which bills itself as the most thorough, is based on a complex stew that takes into account the relative performance of financially disadvantaged and minority students, as well as college preparation.

For parents, these lists often raise as many questions as they answer. Many excellent schools don’t make the list, although they send scores of students on to competitive colleges. Other schools on the list might be ideal for high-achieving kids, but provide few, if any, services for kids with special needs, or those not bound for college. Some schools achieve high scores by cutting time spent in art, drama, music and sports. Others simply don’t have the budget to offer extracurriculars. Additionally, because these lists rank only public schools, they exclude many of the country’s most prestigious independent schools.

“Lists like these are tools, not solutions,” says Dan Gilbert, Lecturer at the Stanford School of Education. “I think parents can use these lists as a tool for reflection on what makes a good school and what makes a school good for their child.”

While it’s exciting to see a great school recognized, it’s just as important to remind yourself that education isn’t one-size-fits-all. Whether your child’s school is #1, #200, or not on the list at all is probably less important than how she fits in there. Only you can judge the best school for your child, and any child with parents that invested in her education is likely to thrive anywhere.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sue Scheff: Parenting Tips

If you don't receive Sue Blaney's 2 Minute Tips, you should subscribe. She always offers sound and reliable advice on raising our teens today.

My tip this week is – Link Freedom and Responsibility -Listen now.

I received a query from a mom of a teenager asking for my input on curfew times for her teen. New curfews and questions about updated rules are relevant now as a new school year begins. As they go up a grade teens may have expectations for additional freedom; and they will likely be making some new friends and opportunities for new social activities could be on the horizon. So let’s talk about curfews in the context of additional freedom for your teen in general.

What kind of additional freedoms are appropriate as your teen grows? More on Link Freedom and Responsibility - 2 Min Tip #69

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sue Scheff: When Dad is the Coach (as School opens)

“Sometimes when parents are trying to figure out what’s their role and how much do they push and how much do they step back, there are gonna be some differences and some miscommunication,”

– Rick Van Haveren, Ph.D., Psychologist

Today there are about 4 million kids who play sports and have a unique set of both rewards and challenges: their coach is their mom or dad. How can these parents make the best of the situation both on and off the field.

Bill Bufton loves to watch his sons Beau and Brett play ball. Bufton is not the boys’ father, he’s also their coach. “It has its ups and downs,” says 16-year old Brett. “But I guess [one] of the good things is he’s always there to help you.”

But there are admittedly some downsides. “I tend to take the game and sometimes practice home,” says Coach Bufton. “And I like to talk about things as we get home and they like to just leave it at the gym or at the field.”

“[Sometimes] I get home and he’d be on my case all the time saying stuff about the game and how I did bad and stuff like that and I just told him you need to back off,” says Beau, 17.

“And he’s not saying that in a bad way and it doesn’t ruin our relationship,” says Bufton. “It’s just, ‘I’ve had enough,’ and I have to respect that and walk away and just let him be his own man.”

Bufton is a high school coach, but more often parent coaches are volunteers. Either way, experts say, coaching your own kids can be difficult. “Sometimes they feel picked on or criticized. Mom or dad is being too hard on them or sometimes it can go the other way and they feel like they’re not getting enough attention from mom or dad so times there’s that confusion,” explains Dr. Rick Van Haveren, an Atlanta-based psychologist.

Experts the key to making the relationship work is balance. Kids should understand that parent coaches wear two hats and parents need to understand the frustrations of the game don’t belong at home. “If you find that your athletic role starts to interfere with what’s going on at home, then I think it’s time to talk with your child about what’s going on and see if it would be a good idea to continue and if there [are] things you can resolve or if maybe it’s a better idea if someone else coaches the team.”

Experts say it’s also a good idea to use other coaches as a barometer for your behavior and on occasion allow them to work hands-on with your child to create a sense of seperation.

Despite the challenges, the Buftons say the good outweighs the bad. The best part they say is being together. “Those two boys are really two of my best friends and I love being with them. I don’t try to live through them. They have their own lives. They have their own goals and they’ve made a name for themselves not just by being my sons.”

Tips for Parents

Coaching your own child can be a very trying ordeal for a parent or it can be a very rewarding one. It mostly depends on how the situation is approached and the attitudes of the parent and child before and during the season. Below is an adaptation of a do and don’t list for parent-coaches originally compiled by the Canadian Hockey Association.


■Communicate with your child, making sure he/she understands why your relationship is different at the rink, court, field, etc.
■Offer both praise and criticism when necessary
■Make sure your child works just as hard as the other players
■Treat your child the same way you treat others
■Talk to your child after games, as home or in the car and tell him/her how you really felt


■Give your own child more playing time than other players
■Expect more from your child than you do from others
■Praise your child more than others for goals or fine plays
■Yell at your child at the rink, court, field, etc., just to make an example of him/her
■Ignore your child totally, believing this is better than paying too much attention and thus possibly being accused of favoritism

In addition to the guidelines above, members of the New Palestine United Youth Soccer Organization have developed a list of rules for parent-coaches.

■Know the game
■Listen to your players
■Don’t play favorites
■Get everyone in the game
■Make it fun for both you and the kids
■Don’t baby the players
■Be a teacher
■Act your age
■Care – but not too much
■Kids Sports Network
■The WonderWise Parent at Kansas State University
■Youth Sports Resource

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sue Scheff: Parenting Tips to Keep Your Teens and Kids Safe in Cyberspace

Source: Reality Check Blog by Dr. Michele Borba

Here are few of many tips on Cyber Safety and Cyberbully from Dr. Michele Borba's book The Big Book of Parenting Solutions to help you keep your kids safe online.

•Hold a media talk. If your child isn’t talking about cyber-bullying, don’t assume he hasn’t been affected. Let him know you’re aware of the darker side of Cyberspace. Start the discussion:

“What have you heard about…” “What are the other kids saying?” Let your child know from the start using your family computer is a privilege and comes with responsibility. That privilege will be removed immediately if your child abuses your family’s rules.

•Don’t be too tough. This one sounds contradictory but here’s the low down: A study at Clemson University found that kids often did not tell their parents about cyberbullying for fear of losing online privileges. One study found that almost 60 percent of kids did not tell their parents when someone was abusive to them online. So don’t overreact or ban him from using the Internet altogether.

•Monitor your computer. Do you know what your child is doing online? Does she have a Xanga, use instant messaging, have a blog, visit chat rooms, frequent game rooms? Does your kid really need that fancy cell phone with all the attachments allowing straight Internet access?

•Provide clear electronic guidelines: “Never, ever put anything in an email, IM, blog, text-message or website that you would not everyone to see or would be hurtful. Never send anything you wouldn’t want said about you.” Or teach the headline test: “Would you want what you wrote printed up for all the world to read in front page headlines?” Police officers tell me that one reason cyberbullying is so rampant is that kids feel their actions can’t be tracked back to sender. Not so! Stress that new software allows law enforcement to discover the sender and are taking cyberbullying very seriously.

•Do NOT respond. Stress to your child that bullies seek reaction so don’t give the kid what he wants. Do not respond or click. It only will intensify things. If you do, the bully wins and usually will continue. Do not forward any vicious email to another party. The email, text, or message stays in your inbox. Turn off the monitor; walk away from the computer, and tell an adult. (Don’t turn off the computer. You will lose the evidence).

•Block communication. If your child is victimized change your phone number, your child’s password, and email account and talk to your service provider. Keep your child’s account numbers and passwords handy at all times. Have the phone number to your cell phone company and the URL of your computer server handy so you can change your child’s password and account in the event he is harassed.

•Don’t delete. You may need evidence to prove that your child is being cyberbullied. So tell your kid to not push that delete button too quickly. Instead save any evidence by printing out the message so you can use it later.

•Google your child. Periodically check to see what is being said about your child online. Seriously! Just put your child’s name in quotes into the search bar on your computer. How often does your child’s name come up? What kinds of comments are being said about your kid?

•Tell authorities. In some cases you may need to decide whether the situation warrants telling authorities or school officials. You may need to advocate for your child.

•Change your password. Passwords should periodically be changed and never given out. By the way, when’s the last time you changed your family’s password or your child’s password? Why not do so right now?

Cyberbullying is painful stuff and your child needs your empathy. So watch your child a bit closer. Tune into her emotional signs. Don’t let your child be victimized. And don’t let your child victimize others. In some cases, cyberbullying has caused depression and suicides amongst victims. Do what you need to do to protect your child.

Get more Parenting Solutions by following Michele Borba @MicheleBorba on Twitter or at .

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sue Scheff: Remarkable Parnets - Using Information and Technology to Improve Lives

I was just introduced to this "remarkable" website full of great information for parenting today in today's techy world!

Remarkable Parents offers valuable, educational and great resources. Take the time to read their Blog and articles and become more informed on today's technology.

About Remarkable Parents:

Twitter. Google Docs. MySpace. Facebook. When you hear these words, does it sound like a foreign language?

Is MySpace your idea of outer space?

Better Communication

Try to communicate with your kids using these new social media and software tools and you’ve probably thought Forget it

Don’t Forget it. Get it, with the help of Remarkable Parents.

Use technology as an ally, not an enemy .

Remarkable Parents don’t fight the flow, they roll with it.

You already know that everything is happening now on the web. It’s where your kids are interacting with their friends.

What you may not know is that it’s also a forum that allows us to be in contact with each other, and more importantly, to stay in touch with your kids.

Higher Productivity
The internet has been called ‘The Great Equalizer’ between big business and small business.

This is because it allows small business to have a large presence in it’s venue.

It’s also ‘The Great Equalizer’ between generations

More Quality Time

Our site will help you make better use of your precious time.

We will help you become more organized and productive.

This will enable you to be part of the conversation, instead of fighting it.

“Because the truth is, these technology tools aren’t just for teens.

Adults are using them to connect with each other, to learn new things, and to be more productive at home and at work!”

Technology is not going away and the web is not going anywhere. The sooner you learn to use these resources to your advantage, the better off you will be.

Our kids, in this era, have never experienced life without computers. We have some catching up to do, and this is where Remarkable Parents comes in.

Learn more:

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sue Scheff: ZoomSafer - We Don't Let Friends Drive Distracted

With news of accidents happening during texting, cell phone use and other distractions, ZoomSafer is a new product to help you drive safer. Although I have never used it, I cannot endorse it, I am sharing this new information with you. I hope to hear great feedback, and appreciate anything new to help keep us safe while driving.
ZoomSafer is mobile software and services that helps you drive safely, have fun, and stay connected.

Our software will be FREE to download because our goal is to prevent distracted driving for everyone, regardless of phone type or carrier network.

For starters, Zoom will be available on the following smartphones:
RIM Blackberry
Windows Mobile
Visit for more information.