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The following story is Zen. Of all stories, this one has helped me keep troubles and disappointments in my life in perspective. I hope the story will serve you as well.

A very wealthy man visited a prophet and commissioned him to write something special about riches and prosperity for his family. What the man was looking for was words of wisdom or insight that he could pass down from generation to generation.

After taking the man’s money the prophet pulled out a large piece of paper and wrote:

Father dies

Son dies

Grandson dies

He then handed the paper to the man.

“What is this?” asked the rich man. “Is this some sort of a joke? I asked you to write me something regarding prosperity and riches for my family to treasure and you write me this?”

The prophet then explained.

“If your son dies before you, you will be sad for the rest of your days.

“If your grandson should die before you, you and your son will be heartbroken.

“If your family dies, generation after generation, in the order I have written, your family is truly prosperous.”

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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One mother confessed that when she looks at her overweight daughter, she sees her as a failure. And then she translates her daughter’s failure into her own failure.

“I try to hide my disappointment and discontent with the way she looks,” said the mother, “but it’s always there. I make subtle comments, which really aren’t so subtle. In the past I’ve said, “I heard about a great diet book. Should I buy it for you? “I’ve also said, ‘It’s a great day; let’s go for a walk.’ What I’m really saying is, “You need some exercise.’ The worst comment was when I said, “‘Why, you have a double chin just like me.’ “When I look at her, I think she’s lazy. She has no pride. I wonder where I went wrong.”

Another woman confided that it makes her sick to watch her daughter eat. “I want to say, ‘Stop eating that roll and butter. Don’t you have any respect for yourself?’ I don’t dare say anything because in the past I have and it just makes her mad and not want to be with me.” “I never stop bugging my daughter,” said one mom. “I’m always coming up with a plan. I take her articles and books on weight loss. Last year I enrolled her in a weight-loss program and she lost 50 pounds. Then she gained it all back. My next plan was humiliation. I told her I loved her, but the world hated fat people. This month I’ve offered to pay for her to enroll at a gym. Does all this do her any good? It doesn’t seem to help her, but it helps me feel as though I’m doing something.”

“My daughter is 70 pounds overweight and seems to be on her way up,” moaned another mom. “She eats all the time. Her room is full of candy wrappers. I’m thin, and I just don’t get it. Nothing I say to her has an impact. She’s sweet and a successful high school student. She plays in the band and has lots of friends. I know she’s unhappy with her weight, but she can’t seem to get control of it.”

Yet another mother said, “The worst time for me is when I have to introduce my daughter, who is at least 90 pounds overweight, to someone she’s never met. I cringe. I think that the person must be thinking how ugly she is. I smile and am chatty and act like everything is fine, but on the inside I feel terrible and know it’s not fine. I feel bad for my daughter and bad for me.”

“What am I to do?”
If you are a mother having bad feelings about an overweight daughter, you know that your daughter also is struggling with feelings about her weight. The best course of action is to ask her directly, “Is there anything I can do to help you with your weight? Or would you rather I said nothing?”

Some daughters want their mothers to bring them diet programs and suggestions. This keeps the problem out in the open as opposed to pretending there isn’t a problem. Other daughters will ask that their mother not push food or tempt them with homemade cakes and cookies. Some don’t want their mothers to say anything about their weight problem. They already know they have one, and they’ve tried any number of diets and exercise programs.
If you truly want to be helpful to your overweight daughter, be a good model by following a healthy diet and exercise regimen yourself. Ask your daughter what she wants from you regarding her weight. And then have the strength and courage to give her what she asks for.

To take care of your own feelings about her weight, confide in one of your close friends from time to time. And then perhaps become a bit philosophical and ask yourself, “Why did I bring this child into the world?” I bet your answer has nothing to do with her weight.

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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Teenage Blues? Find out how this father re-connected with his teenage son.

Recently I spoke with one father who confessed to having difficulty liking his son. Clearly his son was rebellious and had some behaviors that most parents would find offensive. The son rarely did what he had promised. He blew off chores. He had trouble backing down and he thought he never made a mistake.

When I pushed the father to tell me something he liked about his son, he reluctantly admitted that the boy was a pretty good student, didn’t get in trouble at school, had a great sense of humor and a rather endearing smile. The trick for me was to get the father to focus on his son’s attributes at least some of the time. This would allow the father to feel good about his son as opposed to always feeling negative.

The first thing I did was to ask the father to bring me a list of fifty things he liked about his son even if he had to go back in history and remember some of the incidences from his son’s childhood. Although the father dutifully made his list he couldn’t wait to tell me how his son had messed up that week.

The father’s next assignment was to only comment on the positive things his son did. The idea was to get the father to change his focus from looking at the negative to looking at the positive. This assignment did not work either.

I then came up with the idea that every time the son messed up the father would say in his head, “At least he’s alive.” When I told the father this he said, “You do have a point.”

The following week when I saw this man he said that the assignment had worked. For the first time in almost three years he felt some genuine closeness toward his son. He no longer saw his son as an incompetent. What he saw was a boy struggling, sometimes inappropriately, for his own identity. As this father left my office that day, he grinned a little and said, “You know, I really do love that kid.”

If you’re having trouble loving your kid because of his hard-to-deal with behaviors, why not experiment with one on the previous homework assignments?

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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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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I want to know how can I control my temperament/anger, and increase my patience with my 3 year old son. I am out of energy, struggling with my weight/shape, time management and level of responsibility at work. I feel like a zombie.

Three year olds can be a handful and everyone seems to be overwhelmed today. Regarding your anger and weight, try this affirmation, “I choose not to be angry or overeat, I choose to be in control.”

Why this particular affirmation? Because it addresses both of your issues, anger and weight and the mere repetition of the affirmation will help you feel more calm. Say it several thousands times a day (no joking!).

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” (a middle grade read) as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide.” www.doriswildhelmering.com

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