Stranger Danger? Tricky People? Safe Adults? What is the best way to educate your children to keep them safe?

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Less than two weeks ago, two children two towns over from me were approached by an adult male at a convenience store who tried to buy them hats and fidget spinners. Luckily one of the children said something to an employee who intervened as the man fled. As a martial artist and an educator, I believe that having essential life skills like knowing what to do in a situation like this. Not only for your children, but also as an adult.

Article about man trying to lure children from last week

Previously I would present school assemblies and talk about stranger danger for kids until I learned about Pattie Fitzgerald, founder of Safely Ever After. Her concept of a “tricky person” and “safe adults” makes a lot of sense and is simple to explain to children. I invite you to check out her information. I have changed the conversation because of her.

The reality of life is that there are child predators out in the world and it is important that your children know how to protect themselves. As you send your child to school and camp it is always a good idea to have information that will ensure they have a wonderful school day. To assist with this, we have the following tips for you and your children. Please take time out of your day to review these tips with your family.

Link to tips that Pattie offers.

Below are tips from a previous blog post that still has useful information. Read through it once and you’ll be surprised at some that you never thought about. Isn’t your children’s safety worth it?

The following are tips on stranger danger for kids to discuss with your child when they are outside the house.

  • I will always tell my parents where I am going and when I’ll be home and return home before dark.
  • I will always play or go places with at least one other person – NOT alone.
  • I know my body belongs to me. I will trust my feelings. I will say NO and run away from a situation that doesn’t feel right.
  • There are certain kinds of strangers that can assist me when I need help. For instance: mothers with children, other children, police in uniform or store clerks in the mall.
  • If you think someone is following you, cross the street and go into a store. Tell a police officer or a mother with a child. Don’t try to hide — go to where you know you can find other people.
  • If someone tries to grab you, kick, punch and yell: “NO! I don’t know you! You aren’t my Mom (or Dad)! Or Stranger, Help!”
  • I will walk and play at places my parents said were OK. I will avoid shortcuts or alleys.
  • I will not allow adults to trick or force me into going places or doing things like; help find pets, carry packages, take pictures, play games, or take drugs with them. I will always check with my parents first.
  • I will not accept candy, money, gifts or rides from any adult without my parent’s permission.
  • I will always lock my home and car doors. I will not tell anyone that I am home alone.
  • I will learn to dial 911. I will learn to use the pay phone without money.
  • I will learn my address and phone number.
  • I will always walk against traffic on the sidewalk.  

The following are stranger danger for kids tips to discuss with your child when they are inside the house.

  • Many kids get home before their parents. If you come home before your mom or dad, make sure the first thing you do is call and let your mom or dad know you got home okay.
  • If you come home and a window in your house is broken or a door is open that shouldn’t be, don’t go in. Go to a trusted neighbor, or find a phone and call 911.
  • If you have to stay after school or want to play or study with a friend, tell your mom or dad.
  • Don’t leave your home without asking your mom or dad first. Make sure a parent knows where you are going and for how long. Always tell your mom or dad where you will be and when you will be home.
  • When your family is home and the doorbell rings, always find out who it is and ask your mom or dad before you open the door.
  • If you are home alone, never open the door — unless you can see that it is a relative or a specific person who your mom or dad said would come over to stay with you.
  • NEVER tell someone you are home alone, whether they call on the phone or come by your house. Ask your mom or dad what they would like you to say, like: “My Dad’s in the shower, can he call you when he gets out?”
  • NEVER give information to anyone over the phone about yourself, your family or where you live. Hang up on anyone who calls to bother you or who says bad things on the phone.
  • Ask your mom or dad for permission to go outside of your play area or yard or to go into someone’s home.
  • If you have a babysitter that hits you, touches you or makes you play games that embarrass you, tell a trusted adult, even if the babysitter told you not to.
  • Keep all the windows and doors in your home locked.
  • If someone tries to break into your home, call 911 immediately and give them your full address, including your apartment number if you have one. Tell them that you are at home and someone is trying to break in. Then, try calling a neighbor you know is usually home. If you can get out of the house, get out. If you can hide, hide.

The following are tips for parents to discuss and think about

  • Maintain current ID, including photograph, video and fingerprints.
  • Maintain current addresses and phone numbers of your children’s friends.
  • It is important to keep all doors and windows locked.
  • Do not advertise your child’s name on clothing, school supplies or backpacks.

Knowledge is power and knowing what to do in a situation involving a possible child abduction is extremely important in this day and age. If you are ever looking for school or camp assembly ideas to assist you in teaching your child what to do in a tricky person situation we offer a powerful “Outsmart the Stranger” assembly program that can be brought into your school or camp. Visit our website www.outsmartthestranger.com to learn more about the program. Recommending this program to your school and camp can help save a child’s life. I hope you have a wonderful rest of the summer. Stay safe, be smart and aware and have a fun summer!

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Behavior Management Strategies: To Tire and Strengthen Your Children!

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Physical fitness is proven to help a child develop a strong body and mind. Exercise increases oxygen intake into the body and works muscles and organs to keep us in Tip-Top shape. Sometimes we as adults make excuses as how we can’t get to exercise because we don’t have time. I’ve also heard that in many schools as well. Body weight calisthenics are a key component in my school assemblies as they implement different animals to use different parts of the body. These animal movements increase heart and lung power, strengthen all the muscles in the body and increase ligament and tendon flexibility. It also lets us be silly. And one of the best behavior management strategies I know is to get your children tired!

Below is a list of animals that we use in our classes . Included in the list are beginner basics like a bear crawl and a kangaroo hop to more difficult animals like the inchworm and gorilla. Try these out with your kids, especially before it’s time to nap. Yes, I suggested YOU try them out as well. If you do, you’ll feel a complete body change immediately after. If you know any other animals that are on this list, feel free to email me and I would love to add it and give you credit. And try to make the noises as best you can so that you can feel silly and light-hearted again. Let me hear you growl!!

  • Bear walk – walking on hands and feet
  • Frog jump – baby frog jump is squatting down all the way, heels off the ground and jumping. Super frog jump is when same frog jump is done however knees are brought into chest for additional height. Instruct children to land on balls of feet like a cat.
  • Crab walk – start sitting on bottom. Feet are flat. Hands are flat under shoulders. Fingers pointing toward toes. Lift bottom off of the ground and walk either forward, backwards, or sideways.
  • Snake slither – child is on belly, arms are in front, feet are crossed, and they slither around the room making any S sounds.
  • Monkeying around – is just basically bucking around, any sort of body movement, walking on your hands or feet, your legs jumping. Monkeying with a combination of bear and frog.
  • Kangaroo hops – kangaroo is when feet are together, knees slightly bent, elbows are tight to body and hands are in front and you are hoping, sometimes a “boing” sound. This exercise is great to finish off any animal exercise and go right into karate because it’s easy for any kid.
  • Seal crawl– seal is when your lower body is laying on the ground and your legs do not move and your upper body is pulling your lower body.
  • Tiger pounce – walk on all fours slowly for muscle tension, then get real low while trying to keep the body off the ground. Take a giant jump forward or straight up like a tiger pouncing on its prey.
  • Bunny hops – like kangaroo except hands are over ears making bunny sounds, which also increases shoulder strength.
  • Inch worm – student lies on stomach, hands on the ground, then jumps their feet up to their shoulders. Then they walk the hands out further and then jumps the feet up to the shoulders and walks hands out further and repeat.
  • Gorilla – Just like a bear walk, however the child is developing wrist strength by walking on their fists. Either knuckles forward or sideways work.

Picture by James Emery

 

How to Stop Bullying: with a great video to watch with your child!

Watch this video with your child. It has good tips on solutions to a mental bullying situation. Like anything in life, we start as a beginner with a new task. In my school assemblies, we practice what we are taught immediately as a walk around to all the children and bully them in front of their teachers. Luckily they use the Power Look and say “and?” repeatedly to stop the mental bullying. Practice this with your children so when the time comes and they are faced with a mental bully, they are proficient in what to do. The same goes with a physical bully. Enroll your child in a martial arts program for their own good. Martial arts provides the vehicle for learning self-respect, self-esteem and confidence. Don’t assume they are taught in school, because we all know what happens when you assume…I hope you enjoy the video. Be well.

Stranger Danger Tips for the Halloween Season.

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Halloween is one week away. I can’t imagine the excitement building up in your children as Halloween aka candy day approaches. Is this your child’s first year going without you? Or are you the official parent that hovers on the sidewalk waiting. Do you check all their candy? And I don’t mean by chewing it yourself first. Below are some quick Halloween safety tips from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children that will make your Halloween the most fun. Before you read theirs, listen to mine. Use your instinct. Trust your gut. That universal energy that flows through all of us and gets us where we want to go, sometimes magically, is to be honored and trusted. If you see someone and your stomach turns, move away from them. If you walk towards a house something about it doesn’t feel right, walk past it. Will you make the time to have this conversation with your children or will you blame everyone but yourself if something happens. Trust your gut. Talk to your children before Halloween.

TEN THINGS PARENTS CAN DO TO MAKE HALLOWEEN SAFER

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children Tells Parents
How They Can Build Safety into Halloween this Year

  • CHOOSE bright, flame-retardant costumes or add reflective tape to costumes and candy bags so children are easily seen in the dark.  In addition, carry a glow stick or flashlight.
  • PLAN a trick-or-treating route in familiar neighborhoods with well-lit streets.  Avoid unfamiliar neighborhoods, streets that are isolated, or homes that are poorly lit inside or outside.
  • NEVER send young children out alone.  They should always be accompanied by a parent or another trusted adult.  Older children should always travel in groups.
  • ALWAYS walk younger children to the door to receive treats and don’t let children enter a home unless you are with them.
  • BE SURE children do not approach any vehicle, occupied or not, unless you are with them.
  • DISCUSS basic pedestrian safety rules that children should use when walking to and from houses.
  • CONSIDER organizing a home or community party as an alternative to “trick-or-treating.”
  • MAKE sure children know their home phone number and address in case you get separated.  Teach children how to call 911 in an emergency.
  • TEACH children to say “NO!” or “this is not my mother/father” in a loud voice if someone tries to get them to go somewhere, accept anything other than a treat, or leave with them.  And teach them that they should make every effort to get away by kicking, screaming and resisting.
  • REMIND children to remain alert and report suspicious incidents to parents and/or law enforcement.

Knowledge is power and knowing what to do in a situation involving a possible child abduction is extremely important in this day and age. If you or your school are ever looking for school assembly ideas to assist you in teaching your child what to do in a stranger situation we offer a powerful “Outsmart the Stranger” assembly program that can be brought into your home, school, troop or camp. Click on the following link school assembly ideas to learn more about the programs.We hope you have a wonderful rest of the school year. Stay safe and take care.

 

Picture by Jesse Palmer

Essential backpack information so your child doesn’t develop Scoliosis and other back problems.

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When I was in elementary school 30 years ago I would wear my backpack over both of my shoulders until I found out that it wasn’t cool to do that. I then was wearing my backpack over one shoulder and didn’t really seem to be bothered by it. That was also when we had 5 minutes between classes so that we have plenty of time to drop off and leave books behind in our locker. As I grew older I was learning that one of the behavior management strategies schools implement now is to cut down the amount of time spent in between classes. The problem that they didn’t foresee coming was that now children would have to carry most of their books for the day in their book bag because they didn’t have time to stop at their lockers. As backpacks got heavier, children’s bodies had to compensate.

During my Fun Fitness school assemblies, I show children a fake spine and we discuss how caring a backpack on one shoulder changes the muscular development around the spine. As we carry a backpack on one shoulder, the back muscles need to compensate for the extra 30 or 40 pounds of weight by working harder so that the body stands up straight instead of leaning over if the muscles worked at the same exertion. When a child carries their book bag over the same shoulder day in and day out, the muscles in the back on the opposite side get stronger and stronger and start pulling the spine over in their direction. Children that do not have scoliosis can actually develop it unintentionally.

As my purpose is to help solve problems instead of covering up symptoms, I’ve learned that one way to help this problem is to get a note from a doctor and bring it to the school and the school will be required to give you an extra set of textbooks for home in addition to ones that your children can keep in their lockers. Another solution is to make sure your child has a strong lower back by having them practice Superman’s on the ground where they lay on their bellies and stretch out and lift their arms and legs while only their belly rests on the floor. Below is an article with valuable information that any informed parent should have regarding back pain and backpack safety. Good luck.

Backpack Safety Tips for the Educated and Informed Parent

Picture by sandiegopersonalinjuryattorney

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Why society is weak and our children will suffer without YOUR help.

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What happened to our society? Why are people always offended? What happened to our “right to free speech”? What shifted that now has parents and teachers coddling children and having them believe that the world is a loving and caring place that will never upset them or hurt their feelings? What happened to schools teaching children the realities of life and how to function in a social environment successfully? Parents don’t want their children to be upset because then they would have to talk to their children and deal with the upset. When did this all start? My guess is February 2nd, 2004.

That is the day after the famous wardrobe malfunction brought to you by Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake. The entire country realized the next day that they can be offended as a whole. People will listen to them complain and whine. “Our children were watching!” was one of the many complaints heard the next day on the news and at the office. Parents complained about having to explain what happened to their children. “It shouldn’t have happened! Why do I now have to explain this to my children? Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!” Fast forward 20 years later and we live in the delusional society where people think that other people are responsible for their own emotions. Someone says something that offends you, then you and you alone are the only person responsible for making yourself feel better. Or be weak and hope that they will change. Have you ever had a bad habit that people in your life wanted you to stop? The more they wanted you to stop, the more you wanted to do it. So why on earth would we expect others to change their behaviors and the way they think and speak for us?

 

When Donald Sterling made racist remarks, everyone was offended and thought that he should change the way he thinks because our society is moving away from racism. They aren’t going to change. We need to wait for them to die and educate our youth. Slowly we can change society and empower it. Because right now we are disempowering it. Everyone is so afraid of offending everyone else that they have become cowards themselves and unfortunately some of these cowards are responsible for our children when they are at school. Then you have the cowards at home they choose to blame teachers when they are honest with them about how to help their children when they truly need help. Parents used to listen to teachers because they are trained educators and believe what the teachers said over the lies of their children. Now they believe the stories that come out of their children’s mouths and accuse the teacher of “calling my child a liar” because they create a false truth that they are bad parents if their children lie. All children lie. The smarter ones lie more often. Be careful because you might be “shaming liars”.
Shaming this and shaming that. “He made me feel this way. She made me feel that way.” I hope that someday people wake up and realize that none of that happened in reality. What do I mean by that and how dare I say that? We are the only ones responsible for how we respond and react. When you allow something to offend you, you become a victim of your own mind and instead of being responsible and working on yourself, you would rather blame anyone and anything but yourself. It’s called being a human being in this society. Think about the next statement carefully. If I cursed you out and said the most obnoxious, rude, vile disgusting words right to your face, but I did it in another language, would you be offended? Of course not. That is because your brain did not interpret the words and give them meaning so that then you can choose to become upset at the meaning that that you gave the words. When I present my school assemblies on how to stop bullying, the children understand that no one can bully them without their consent.

If you raise your children or teach your students in a way that teaches them the opposite of how society is, then you are doing an amazing disservice to them. If you don’t let your children be upset occasionally then how will they learn how to be upset as adults? If you don’t teach your children that there is disappointment in life, then what happens to them when they are disappointed as adults? If you don’t teach your children to defend themselves both verbally and physically against a bully, then what happens when they are verbally or physically bullied as adults?

I invite you to choose the well-being of the children in your life instead of your own selfishness and I promise you your children will live better, stronger, and more effective lives. I invite you to wake up and see what kind of child you are truly creating.

Photo by Mike Mozart

 

 

 

How to Stop Bullying: with Nutrition

 

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How do you feel when you are going to work and when you get there, the coffee machine isn’t working. How about when it’s getting close to lunchtime and something comes up and delays your lunch for an hour. Do you go hungry or grab something not so healthy from the snack machine?

You know that what you put in your mouth and how you respond to the world that day are all intertwined in our daily lives. The same goes for your children. If your children are eating chemicals and not eating natural foods, that affects their interaction with others. If a child is coming down from a soda sugar high, their behaviors are affected chemically. If your child skips a meal, their brain function and ability to learn is affected. One way how to stop bullying is to ensure our children are healthy and fed. You already know this. The question is what can we do. Most of you aren’t nutritionists. The link below is to the nutrition section of our website. This is jam packed full of information like healthier alternatives to the typical foods that children eat. In my school assemblies on health and fitness, I give healthier alternatives to sweet desserts like microwaving apples or bananas and topping with cinnamon. AMAZING!

There is also information about what chemicals and additives are in the food you and your children eat so you have an educated decision to make for the next round of shopping. You have a hard choice to make for the future. Do I go the easy way out and feed my kids what I know isn’t good for them or do I work a little harder to make slow and slight changes in their food consumption and in turn stop filling the pockets of corporations that prey on uneducated parents and their trusting children. Hard statement to take in and the truth. I invite you to take the actions that you think are best for you and your family.

Healthier meal alternatives and information on additives and vitamins.

Read the First 2 Chapters of My New Book: Breaking the Bullying Circle

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Hello all! I am almost done with my second book in the, “Building the 21st Century Child,” series called, “Breaking the Bullying Circle.” This book will open up the eyes of parents and educators on how to stop bullying, why bullying is only getting worse and what is really happening at home, in school and society as a whole. Be warned! This book may push buttons, offend people, and, I hope, may even have people take action to actually prevent and eliminate bullying in schools and at home. I have attached the introduction and the first 2 chapters. Enjoy!

Breaking the Bullying Circle Intro and Chap 1 and 2

How to Stop Bullying: Bystanders Who Want to Help But Don’t Want to be Outted as a Tattletale

 

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Last week we addressed one of three reasons why the 85% of students known as bystanders don’t take action towards helping to stop bullying. If you missed the first part about them having the fear of becoming a new victim for a bully, I invite you to take a look at How to Stop Bullying: Bystanders Afraid to Become a New Victim of a Bully. This week we look at a concern that many adults would have in addition to their children.

Let’s address this situation so that your child can have the opportunity to powerfully stand up for their friend or classmate if the situation arises. Being a tattletale or a snitch as a child or adult is frowned upon in any social environment, whether at school, home, or in the workplace, and our human bodies are designed for self preservation first.  There is a distinction that we need to clarify which solves this problem quickly and effectively. Bystanders must learn the distinction of, “In vs. Out”.” If you are walking down the street with your family and you see two bank robbers jump out of their car and run into the bank, what do you do? I hope you said you would call the police or dial 9-1-1. Because of you, the police show up and the bank robbers get arrested and go to jail. My question to you is…are you tattling on the robbers? In my Breaking the Bullying Circle School Assembly Program I ask kids this exact question. The responses are typically “No. It’s not tattling because the robbers are doing something bad.” Next question for you…Is it more important to get the bank robbers in trouble or is it more important to get the people in the bank out of trouble? When given a choice most children responded “get the people in the bank out of trouble.” What did you say?

When you are trying to get someone in trouble, like telling on someone, then you are tattling and that isn’t showing respect. And if your child’s friend, or someone they know in school, is getting bullied and they try to get them OUT of trouble, then they are being a hero. Just like you would be a hero if you called the police to help stop the bank robbers. Now remember that you and the police are a team when you work together to stop the bank robbers. If you didn’t call them, they never would have come. Give your child a few examples and having them decide whether they are tattling or being a hero. Teamwork and being a hero go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Photo by Denise Krebs

How to Stop Bullying: When My Child’s Friend is Getting Bullied

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As your children progress through school, they are going to be observing and processing a lot of information both inside and outside of the classroom. If your child is lucky enough not to be a victim of a bully, then that is a win for them. However, just like in adulthood, bullies and victims do exist and the bystander can be the one that helps eliminate bullying.

A bystander is a person (or persons) who is present at an event without participating in it. They are the most ignored and underused resource in our schools. Bystanders are typically about 85% of a schools’ population, at any given time, but they can become desensitized over time to what is happening right in front of them.

We would like to think that our children are strong and stand up for their friends or even strangers because those are traits that we can be proud of. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Children who are bystanders often do not get involved because of three things:

  1. Fear of becoming a new victim for the bully
  2. Being outted by other peers as a tattletale
  3. Getting in trouble themselves

I will address each of these situations, with an effective solution, in separate articles.  Let’s start with the fear factor.

Fear of becoming a new victim for the bully

This fear is easily understandable and 100% a legitimate concern if a child is discovered by a bully to be the one that had them get in trouble. If you saw a bank being robbed and you had your cell phone on you, would you call the police in front of the bank robbers so that they could identify you or would you call the police somewhere where the bank robbers couldn’t see you? I assume you would make the phone call from a hidden and secure location to protect yourself, first and foremost. That would also be the ideal situation if a child sees another child getting bullied and reports it to a teacher. Unfortunately, not every single teacher is trained in specific bullying prevention techniques and might say to the child that they would like them to show them where the bullying is happening. If the child walks the teacher to the bully, all that will happen is the bully will lie, the current victim will be too afraid to admit they are getting bullied, and the child that was brave enough to stand up for the victim will now become the bully’s next victim; and will never stand up for another friend again. When I do my school assemblies, I instruct children to say to that teacher, “No. I do not want to be the bully’s next victim.” And then go find another adult to tell them where the bullying is happening. This may not be a popular choice with the teacher, but it is the best choice to keep a powerful and empathetic child safe so they may help others again. You may want to share this with your child or forward this to another caring parent.

Until next week…

Photo by Twentyfour Students