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I was sitting with my mother in the hospital lobby once waiting until we could see my father in the intensive care unit. Mom and I were talking and smiling. Perhaps for the first time in days we felt that everything was going to be okay with Dad.

Across the lobby was a young woman with two small children about two and four years old. As we talked, I noticed the littlest child have a bit of a temper tantrum, fussing and tugging to get away from his mother’s grip.

The mother was holding onto the child’s sleeve and trying to balance a plate of cookies in her other hand.

I must have looked away when all of a sudden the woman was standing in front of us. She leaned forward and said in a most hostile voice, “Are you having a good time?”

Caught off guard, I automatically turned my head around, thinking the woman must be yelling at someone behind us. But there was no one there. The woman stormed past with her children and disappeared down the hall.

My mom was clearly shaken. In that moment she looked like a little girl who had just been severely reprimanded. I didn’t feel so great either. It’s no fun having someone yell at you. I put my arm around my mother and patted her on the back and told her I loved her.

What I concluded was that the woman must have decided that we were enjoying her predicament. She had presumed to make herself the center of our attention. Yet at no time had my mother or I even commented about the woman and her children. If anything, the two of us were her allies, because we, too, have struggled with young children.

The sad thing was that because this woman had assumed that we were laughing at her, she made herself a victim, and in turn victimized us.

Although most people could probably say they would never behave in such a mean-spirited way, most of us make false assumptions rather routinely. Often these assumptions are based on seeing oneself as the center of the world.

For example: the boss calls a co-worker into his office, and you wonder if they’re talking about you. Your husband turns on the radio when the two of you get into the car, and you think he’s trying to avoid talking to you. You have a great date with a new man. He doesn’t telephone for a few days, and you decide he doesn’t like you. Your boss sounds irritated, and you think he’s mad at you.

When you’re not sure what’s really going on and you make an assumption, think beyond yourself. Make yet one more assumption.

Examples: Perhaps my boss is mad because he didn’t like what I had to say at the meeting. Or, perhaps my boss is mad because he just lost a big account.

Perhaps my husband turns on the car radio to avoid talking. Or perhaps he turns on the car radio because he likes music.

Perhaps those women across the lobby think I’m not a good mother. Or perhaps those women are happy because their relative is starting to fuss about hospital food and soon will go home.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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I went to the parking lot to get my car, and stuck under the windshield wiper was a paper napkin with a sarcastic note scrawled across it. The writer wanted to know whether I thought I was so much better than the other plebeians who worked at the building that I could park in the aisle.

In truth, I had parked in the aisle. In my defense, however, I blocked no one because the aisle is three car widths wide, there were no other spaces available, and I pay a monthly fee for parking.

At the same time, I felt a bit intimidated by the message on the napkin. I think I felt guilty because the note harked back to what I was taught as a child – that it was wrong to be pretentious or to think I was better than anyone else in any way.

Another factor may also come into play when a person is accused of some wrongdoing. Regardless of whether the person is guilty, he or she usually feels uncomfortable. This is probably because as children we were expected to be good and to do things right. And when we didn’t do something right, we lost our parents’ approval for a time, which translates into a loss of love. As adults, when reprimanded, we too feel that vague sense of loss of love.

Because everyone is sensitive to criticism and most everyone gets criticized from time to time, here are 3 questions to ask yourself.

  1. Is this criticism valid?
  2. Is it partially valid?
  3. What might I have done differently to have avoided the criticism?

By asking these questions of yourself, you put in perspective the criticism.

You might also want to keep in mind the following story which was written in the third century B.C. and recounted by Will Durant in “The Story of Civilization: Our Oriental Heritage”.

‘When a simpleton abused him, Buddha listened in silence; but when the man had finished, Buddha asked him: ‘Son, if a man declined to accept a present made to him, to whom would it belong?’ The man answered: “To him who offered it.’

‘My son,’ said Buddha, ‘I decline to accept your abuse and request you keep it for yourself.'”

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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It might be an eye opener if I focused on the ways people persecute each other in the course of a day. Here are some all too frequently used ways to persecute someone:

Blame someone else when you go off your diet.

Smoke in the home of someone who doesn’t smoke.

Be late for an early-morning breakfast date.

Don’t send an RSVP when the invitation clearly calls for it.

Let everyone else in the company know you’re going to fire someone before telling the person himself.

As you’re leaving a meeting on Friday, tell a subordinate in an ominous tone you need to talk with him Monday.

Allow a sales clerk to ring up your purchase first, even though you know someone else was ahead of you.

Always wait until the second notice before paying a bill.

Say you’ll mail a friend’s letter and then let it sit in your car for a week.

Refuse to let another driver pull into your lane.

Make your carpool sit for 10 minutes while you finish getting dressed.

Be a half-hour late for a dinner party and don’t call. And when you get there, don’t apologize.

Stay in bed until the last minute and then scream at the children to hurry up and get ready for school.

Don’t make your child-support payments on time.

Cancel a dental appointment five minutes before you are to be in the dentist’s office.

Make a lot of noise in the morning, even though everyone else is sleeping.

Don’t tip the waitress because the food doesn’t taste good.

Tell a job applicant you’ll call on Monday to tell him whether he got the job, and then don’t call.

Smoke a cigar at a meeting.

Lecture your child for an hour on his transgressions and bring up everything he has done wrong in the past.

Let your dog bark for hours outside in the middle of the night.

Simply hang up when the party on the other end says “Hello” and you realize you’ve called a wrong number.

Lend a book to a friend when you’ve already promised it to another friend.

Never pay back the petty change you borrow.

Throw your spouse’s coffee away without asking whether he or she is finished drinking it.

Use someone else’s idea but take all the credit.

Do you know any other ways that you may be persecuting someone?

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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It’s sheer agony working for my boss,” a woman recently told me. “He’s unbelievable.”

She continued: “In conversation he always puts you on the defensive. He asks rude questions such as “How old are you anyway?” “Are you a natural blond?” “How much money does your boyfriend make?”

“When he wants to make a point, he puts his hands on your shoulders to let you know he’s serious.”

“He assigns you a project, but then checks up on you 25,000 times. He butts in, changes it. He won’t let you be responsible for it.”

“He comes up and picks lint off my suit. He straightens my collar or my scarf. I want to say ‘Buzz off, slime ball.'”

“He acts like I didn’t have a life before I started working for his company. He thinks he made me what I am.”

“He can’t sit down very long. In the middle of a brain-storming session someone will be talking and he keeps butting in and interrupting. After he says what he wants to say, he gets up and leaves. Or he leaves while someone else is talking. We think he’s gone to the John. He doesn’t come back. We say, ‘Where is Fred?'”

“When decisions are made after one of these brainstorming sessions, he’s mad if we don’t use all his ideas.”

“When he’s with a client, he promises them the world. And then he reneges.”

“He is unbelievably tight when he negotiates salary. He uses every tactic in the book to intimidate you and make you feel insecure. He tells you that earnings are down. Times are hard. He’s doing you a favor by keeping you on the payroll. No one else would want you anyway. He, on the other hand, lives in a million-dollar house and drives a Jag.”

“He talks of being friends and thinks nothing of asking you to stay late or to come in early or give up a weekend. He says, ‘Friends do that for each other.’ But he never says thank-you or rewards you with a bonus.”

‘He takes your ideas and somehow in a week or two they become his ideas.’

“He starts a conversation in the middle of what he’s thinking about and you are always trying to play catch-up and figure out what he’s talking about.”

“He makes lewd remarks about other women.

“He makes lewd remarks to your boyfriend about you.”

“He never asks any follow-up questions about your life. You could say, ‘I broke my knee last night’ and he wouldn’t ask you how you did it.”

“Almost everyone thinks he’s a jerk. Doesn’t he get it?”

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide.” and “Thin Becomes You”.  Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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Shockingly, half of all kids are bullied. And at least half of all kids should bear the name “Bully.” We know that bullying goes on all the time among students, thanks to the media, but what’s happening on the home front? A far bigger story is to be told.

For example, the child who refuses to get ready in the morning and constantly makes her siblings anxious and late for school is involved in bullying behavior. Likewise is the child who goes into her sister’s room and simply helps herself to whatever article of clothing she chooses, despite the fact that she’s been told repeatedly to stop.

Then there’s 11-year-old Dan, who hides his sister’s hair dryer and toothbrush to get a reaction out of her. And whenever he walks by his younger brother, he gives him a punch in the arm. And he forever is grabbing the remote and switching channels on his siblings.

Parents may be annoyed regarding these behaviors because of the ruckus they create in the family. Rarely however do parents think of these behaviors as bullying. But they are!

What I tell parents: if one child constantly reacts negatively to another child’s actions, instead of focusing your attention on the child who is reacting, take a look at what she’s reacting to. She may be prey to a bully as opposed to falling into the category of, “kids will be kids” or “he’s just kidding” or “he’s younger than you.” These statements rescue the bully and are excuses for bad behavior. Worse, such excuses contribute to encouraging one of your children to bully another.

Parents also fall prey to children who bully. A child who simply can’t accept the answer “No” and keeps pushing and nagging, twenty, thirty, forty times until the parent caves is a bully.

If 14-year-old Jessica is reprimanded for anything, she punishes her parents by refusing to talk with them. She’s been known to carry on this behavior for several days. She also decides when she’s ready for bed. No amount of telling her to go to bed has an effect. You might say, “This kid does what she damn well pleases.” Once when told she couldn’t go out with friends, she jumped out of the second story window and joined them.

Anytime a child repeatedly intimidates, threatens, scares, frightens, browbeats, coerces, terrorizes, or tries to lord their power over another family member, be it a parent or a younger or older sibling, they are bullying. Or calling like it is, that child is a bully. Other bullying behaviors in families: name-calling, hitting, pushing, refusing to let another pass, purposely embarrassing, making faces, and taking and breaking other family members’ things.

So how do you get a bullying child to stop?

The first step is to name it. Call it like it is. Most kids do not think of themselves or their behavior as bullying. Example, “You are being a bully. Stop.” (Don’t tell him he is acting like a bully. This sugar coats his behavior. He is a bully).

The second step is to isolate the bully from the rest of the family. For example, if at a restaurant and your 9-year old keeps kicking his sister under the table after you’ve told him to cease, tell him he is a bully and take him to the car. No offering dinner afterward. Bummer for a parent but it’s imperative that parents protect all of their children. You protect the child who is being kicked and you help the bully to stop this behavior.

If you have a child that constantly badgers you, never ever give in because if you do you reinforce this behavior. You as a parent have to show more grit than your child. I once had one of our boys stand in the corner. I think he was about 9 at the time. He told me he was going to stand all night. In my head I thought, Well, I will sit at the table all night knowing that he would get more tired standing than me sitting. In the end he caved and apologized. Translated: we were both winners.

Do keep in mind. Bullies are not born. Bullies are made because their behavior is not checked. Some kids are more difficult than others (heaven help those parents) but no child should be permitted to intimidate or be allowed to grow into a bully.

Doris Wild Helmering is a clinical social worker, nationally known author, television and radio personality, has appeared on Oprah three times, and has written eight self-help books, numerous booklets, and a weekly syndicated newspaper column for twenty-four years. Her most recent books are The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World and The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide. (http://www.prweb.com/releases/2017/07/prweb14530687.htm).  She is in private practice where she does marriage and family therapy as well as counseling parents and kids. She has served as a consultant to a number of Fortune 500 companies as well as several school districts.  See: http://www.doriswildhelmering.com.

 

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What do you think is the most important message of the book?  

The message I wanted to convey was that all kids are motivated. The task of a parent or teacher or counselor is tapping into what interests a seemingly unmotivated kid has, in order to get him moving in perhaps a more productive endeavor. The second message: You don’t have to be a great student to accomplish great things in life. 

Of the numerous adversities Alex faces, which do you think is the most trying?

I think Alex’s long recovery at home after the accident, as well as how his appearance had changed (he now had a dimple on his cheek), were the most trying.

Why crickets? Has the question of food shortage interested you for a while?

Years ago, I had read that you could eat crickets. So when I was working on the book, I started exploring what bugs people eat in other parts of the world. I got so interested that I visited a cricket farm in Florida. And what an education I got! I incorporated that experience and had Alex and his family and Mr. D visiting a cricket farm and then, of course, Alex’s entire class raising crickets as part of their class science project.

Regarding food shortage: Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been conscious of what a terrible thing it is not having enough food to eat. When my mother was growing up, she didn’t have enough food, and I think her talking about going to bed hungry stuck with me.

Are there plans to publish another book that continues Alex’s adventures?

Yes, I have the story line and this time not only Alex, but also several of his classmates will take center stage.

How important was your own counseling practice to the development of the very convincing character in the book, particularly Alex and Mr. D?

I’ve been a counselor for many years so I think the counseling process that took place between Mr. D and Alex was similar to what actually goes on when I see a kid in counseling. So I would say it was essential.

How is the style of the illustrations connected to the story?  

 I’ve known John Dyess, the illustrator, for many years and have admired his work. So I was delighted when he agreed to illustrate the book. When I look at John’s work, I feel a connection: whether an illustration of a beautiful trout about to take a hook for Field & Stream or a bunch of guys playing basketball. That’s what I wanted the kids to feel when looking at the various bugs – a connection. When I first saw the illustrations for the book, I was blown-away.

How much is Alex’s physical condition (and recovery) a metaphor for his emotional one? 

When Alex was young, his father died, but he had little recollection of the event. But talking with his mom about his father’s death during his recovery was twofold: To help Alex come to terms with not having a father and to come to terms with his own pain from the accident. Years ago I asked a seventh grade class to write some of the losses they had experienced, trying to get a sense of loss at their age. I was astonished and saddened that almost everyone in the class had experienced a loss, and often a major one: the death of a sibling, parent, grandparent, relative, or divorce within the family and all the losses that entails.

Was any of the story based on real life events?

Yes. As a graduate student, I was a counselor at a boy’s home, so it was a natural for Mr. D to have been raised for part of his life in one. The part where his father, whom he never knew, came into the store where he worked and never identified himself, that happened to a close friend of mine. Sadly, the incident with the dogs was also based on a real-life event. The planting of a bottle garden, I did that many years ago with my husband, and I also like to roam around in junk stores like Alex’s family.

Have you tried eating crickets?

Actually I have. I’ve also eaten worms. How could I talk to kids about a book that has the potential of feeding the world and not have tasted some crawly cuisine myself? You can buy edible crickets and worms on the Internet. Dare I say, you too should take the plunge and try a handful of crickets or some crunchy worms. Believe me, you’ll catch the attention and admiration of a lot of kids.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide.” and “Thin Becomes You”. Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

 

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New Young Adult Novel Puts Motivation and Mealworms on the Menu

There’s a reason Americans don’t often hear the phrase, “please pass the crickets” during families meals and other fine dining occasions. Entomophagy—including insects in your diet—is, for want of a better clinical term, totally gross. Which, of course, makes it the perfect topic for Doris Wild Helmering’s charming and amusingly educational young adult novel The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World.
          Meet Alex Crow, a seventh-grader at 
Roosevelt Ridge Middle School, working with yet another school counselor to see why the smart 12-year-old is such a slacker when it comes to school work. The last counselor didn’t get too far. But this guy—“Call me Mr. D.”—this guy is different. All he cares about is putting Alex in touch with his passion.  Turns out, Alex’s passion is bugs. And that’s where the fun begins, as Helmering, a nationally-known author and syndicated news columnist, treats us to an all-you-can-eat buffet of grasshoppers, earthworms, and other slithery non-vertebrates with the potential to solve world hunger. Did you know that cockroaches run the equivalent of 141 mph? Or that if you were a grasshopper you could jump the length of a basketball court in less than a second? There’s a lot of fun as well as eeeew-inducing content in Helmering’s clear, beautiful prose. But Helmering has a more important fish, if not caterpillars, to fry.

A study in motivation

Helmering, a clinical social worker whose impressive portfolio of published books includes popular self-help titles such as Husbands, Wives & Sex and Happily Ever After, tackles, head-on, what it takes to succeed in life. “Helmering creates a delightful and imaginative experience for middle-grade readers that will inspire and motivate them to think outside the box as they consider their own life aspirations,” says M. Catherine Downer, a nationally certified counselor.
         “Ms. Helmering begins with the rock bottom belief that all children are naturally motivated to learn and it’s an adult’s job to discover and use their natural curiosity to help them develop the resilience and work habits to succeed in school and life,” adds Barbara Kohm, author of The Power of Conversation: Transforming Principals into Great Leaders. “[This is] a multi-layered book [that] addresses core issues middle students face with warmth, depth and humor.”

Motivation for parents, teachers, and grandparents, too

The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World comes with a powerful Parent Teacher Discussion Guide to help facilitate conversation about the book’s weighty themes: motivation, bullying, self-esteem, teamwork, grief, diversity, and environmentalism.  Helmering, whose “fresh, witty, wise, down-to-earth style” has been distilled from many years of experience as a psychotherapist, author, and television and radio personality, certainly knows how to get the conversation going. And if that conversation happens to involve such mouthwatering fare as wormburgers and the etiquette of removing bug legs from your teeth, well, nobody ever said saving the world would be pretty.
Bon Apetite!

The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World & The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide by
Doris Wild Helmering (Author), John Dyess (Illustrator)

Check out her additional books on Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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