Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.
None of us are immune to bullying. Or the mix of emotions it triggers. Bullying can happen in almost any setting imaginable: the classroom, at home, social media, at work, summer camp, etc. And it can come in many different forms: verbal, psychological, physical, cyber. It’s impossible to predict who might get bullied and when. So how do we prepare children for it? Even the most self-assured person is still human and susceptible to the sting of a well-placed insult. The trick is to not let those stings build up and overwhelm your own sense of self.
Be the bigger person.
Such a simple concept yet so hard to practice. Imagine you’ve just been called stupid by a classmate in front of the whole class or found out you were the only one of your friends who wasn’t invited to a birthday party, how many of us keep our composure when that happens? The last thing you might be thinking is “stay calm, their words/actions don’t matter”. Instead you’re angry, hurt, sad, embarrassed or confused. In the end you might give into one of those emotions bubbling to the surface, maybe by crying or lashing out at the person who’s wronged you. Reacting this way might feel good in the moment but what about when the emotions fade? Guilt or more embarrassment about what you did might soon follow.
Eye for an eye.
Violence does not have not to be met with violence. Work with your child to identify the emotions they feel when faced with stressful or scary situations. Having a familiarity with the emotions triggered by stress might help them to remain calm when faced with a bully. Work with them on recognizing if they are in a situation that could turn physical and if they are teach them there is no shame in walking away or asking for help from an adult. If they are faced with a bully with no physical threat help them build their confidence enough to stand their ground and try talking to the bully or to have no reaction at all. Getting a strong response and feeling that sense of power or control that comes with it is what most bullies are after and reinforces the bullying behavior. The strongest defense against many bullies is taking the power of reaction away from them.
Believe in yourself!
Remind your children and yourselves that we are not the sum of what others say/think about us. They cannot control what other people say or think. They have the power to change and shape what they think about themselves into what they want it to be. It won’t be easy, and they will meet a lot of resistance during the process, but you can help them by supporting them and creating an environment that encourages honest communication from an early age. This doesn’t mean they will be 100% immune to bullying but with a solid internal foundation perhaps external jabs won’t be able to cause as much, lasting damage.
Let’s all be Good Buddies out there to ourselves and each other!
So… what is this episode about visiting an optometrist’s office doing in the tail end of the Rainbow Series?
Well, let’s connect the dots between the videos so you can have a meaningful conversation with your children about rainbows, colors, light, eyes, and what the heck they all have to do with each other.
The biggest take away from our “Rainbow Rap” video was the concept that “Color is the perception of light” and seeing things around us is all a matter of perspective. Roy lays it out in the lyric, “He sees me, and you see me too. But if you saw through his eyes you’d think that I moved.”
Next we reviewed the many colors of the color spectrum in Crazy Colors. Sajja and Kabba say colors followed by an object with that color “I want to look like a banana.” FLASH! Everything turns yellow.
Then we take a journey with a ball of white light that appears and splits into the primary colors, learning that even though we see white light, all of those colors are present! Pretty mind (and color) bending stuff!
In the next video, Sajja and Kabba meet someone who is colorblind. We’re back on that perspective train again established in the Rainbow Rap. The very things we see are subject to change by the sole quality of one’s own perspective.
Which brings us to the optometrist…
How can we see all the colors around us and express what we see if we don’t keep our eyes in tip-top shape and give them assistance when needed? Light bounces off of surfaces, absorbs/reflects certain parts of the spectrum, then it bounces into our eyes, where they and our brain constantly interpret the input. (Really missing one of those Arizona sunsets right now)!
Our eyes are the only avenue for us to perceive this wonderful world of bright colors. Dr. Odum not only reminds us of the importance of our eyes, but she also shows children how easy the exam process is!
These are not concepts we expect children to understand right away, and we strive to meet them where they are through our fun and educational content! A smooth introduction (and a little help from you) helps them begin to grasp how the world around them works!
Next week, with the help of a Chicago kids band called The Lucky Trikes, we touch briefly on the absurd notion that people may be prejudice against different colors of fur… all because light bounces off of them a little bit differently.
P.S. Did you know that ancient Greeks used to think we shoot “lasers” out of our eyes to see? Sometimes it’s easy to forget how far society’s baseline scientific knowledge has come!
"Why does that lady walk funny?”
“Look at that man!"
“What’s on his face? "
If you have kids, you have likely been mildly embarrassed by their blatant public observations of others, and, possibly, have stumbled over what to say in such moments. Talking about diversity and disabilities with children can be a challenge but is an essential part of their emotional development.
The human brain is an incredible code breaking instrument, we naturally look for patterns and anomalies to create and edit our impression of the world and, from an early age, children are seeking to make sense of the human condition. They are trying to come up with a definition and a set of guiding principles about how to conduct themselves and where they fit into the equation. When a child is solely exposed to individuals that are similar to themselves, they develop a somewhat narrow view of mankind, however, interacting with a diverse group of people can enrich a child’s environment and set them up to be more emotionally attuned as adults. Exposing children to various cultures and lifestyles will help them develop greater empathy and open-mindedness.
It is difficult having a conversation with children about why someone is different, however, if we have this conversation early and at home first it makes interactions in public much easier. A good way to start such conversations is with this week’s video about color blindness. Then, talk about your own strengths and weaknesses and ask your kids what they feel really confident in and what are somethings they need help with, this is a great way to build self esteem. Point out that everyone is unique and this is what makes the world such a great place.
Some other resources for discussing diversity:
1) Books about various cultures or ways of life: simply being exposed to the stories of others is a powerful tool.
2) Museums: talk about what it would be like to live in a different time period or location. Developing the ability to put oneself in another’s shoes is a skill that must be practiced.
3) Festivals: Let kids ask you questions. If you don’t know the answer, ask someone! Children love to see adults learning too.
4) Listen to music or try food from another country.
The important thing is that we have these experiences with our children and engage them in an honest and open conversation about how there are so many wonderful and unique people in the world.
If anyone ever needed proof that human beings are creative, all they would have to do is fall asleep.
Every night when our heads hit the pillow and our eyes shut, we dream. Our brains become the directors of these interactive movies, and we get to be the star.
We experience our dreams as exhilarating, scary, funny, and sometimes even strange.
Actually, that makes them A LOT like the movies we watch at the theater!
How We Dream
The difference is dreams aren't created in Hollywood. They are created by our subconscious minds.
While there is not a lot of definitive science on how we dream, a study done by a group of French researchers in 2013 suggests that dreaming is generated by the brainstem: the part of the nervous system that connects the spinal cord to the brain itself. They did find however that more complex or creative dreams do require higher-order processes. For example, if you have a dream where your dog is talking to you and then takes you to a dog kingdom full of talking dogs.
Actually... that sounds like an awesome movie!
Regardless of how we dream, a more interesting question to ponder is...
Why We Dream
There are a few theories out there on why we dream.
1. Dreams Act As Therapy.
Dreams often bring up our negative emotions and negative events that are happening in our life that may be hard for us to face in waking life. When we face an event like this in our dreams, our brain doesn't know that it's not real. The exploration of the issue might even allow us to dig to the root of what's really going on.
2. Dreams Let You Deal with Threats in a Safe Way.
You might never fight a bear in real life. In fact I would recommend you NEVER fight a bear in real life! In a dream, you might have the opportunity though. Again, your brain can't tell the difference between what's real and what's a dream. Fighting a bear in a dream may give you confidence in waking life and sharpen your fight-or-flight sense if you ever do find yourself in a precarious situation.
3. Dreams Allow You to Practice a Skill.
You might want to be a rock star or President of the United States. Whatever it is, dreams give you the opportunity to practice being on stage or giving a speech or anything else. (If you really want to dive deeper into this, learning how to lucid dream could change your life!)
4. Dreams Let You Get Creative.
Dreams are an amazing way to come up with new ideas! I once had a vivid dream that was so scary, but when I woke up I realized I just dreamt a script for a whole horror movie! I unfortunately was the main actor in the film... But taking the perspective of being the writer and director of the film as well allowed me to not only not be afraid of it but be empowered and emboldened creatively by the dream!
5. Dreams Declutter Your Brain.
Some think that dreams are just a way for your brain to sift through the important and unimportant information lying around. Essentially, it's your brain's way of "taking out the trash" when the garbage can is overflowing.
We may not be sure of how or why we dream, but we now have a few theories for both!
I believe we create our own meaning in our lives and therefore also our dreams. Nightmares are nothing to fear! Just as challenging situations in our lives are nothing to fear! They are all moments and experiences for us to learn and grow.
And if you don't believe me, why not try giving it a shot? Do it for yourself, but also for your kids (if you have them!) This mindset will empower you and your kids to embrace your creativity and face your fears head on which are both valuable skills in Life.
So, dream on.
What are dreams? Why do we dream the things we do? Are there hidden meanings or messages in them? Even as adults we probably don’t have solid answers for any of these questions. So how are we supposed to help a child or Sajja and Kabba understand what a dream is?
Of course, there is the scientific explanation of sleep and sleep cycles that give us answers on what is happening to us physically while we sleep and dream, but I think what most of us really wonder about is why we dream the things that we do and why our dreams can affect the way we feel even when we are awake. Each time we drift off to sleep a whole new world emerges, and it’s full of imagination and creativity. It’s impossible to know what might happen. The mystery is exciting and scary to a lot of us, especially for our younger buddies out there.
Kids and Dreams
Kids probably won’t remember their dreams every day but occasionally there will be a dream that sticks with them. They might recall just a few images from the dream, the overall feeling of the dream or perhaps even the entire thing. When they do remember a dream, it can be confusing or unsettling. They might not understand how they came up with the content and even experience emotions they can’t explain or aren’t familiar with. Maybe it was a dream where they were the most successful unicorn farmer in the country, and upon waking feel silly or embarrassed for having such an unconventional dream? Or maybe they were so excited by the prospect of being a unicorn farmer that they were bursting to tell everyone they know?
Now here I go again, I see the crystal visions
I keep my visions to myself, it's only me
Who wants to wrap around your dreams and,
Have you any dreams you'd like to sell?
Stevie Nicks, Dreams - Fleetwood Mac
Tips and Tricks
Here are a few ideas to help anyone out there, young or old, to process their dreams:
I did what every scared child would do and called my mom.
During our 10-minute conversation, she reminded me that everyone gets scared sometimes and to just accept the unknown. "None of us have control of our dreams." She told me.
Having only that short talk and simply acknowledging what I was feeling made the uneasiness go away, and I began to feel better.
Dreams can be a great source of creativity and inspiration and can expose us to different emotions/experiences that we might not have otherwise. The more channels we have to share and explore our dreams, the more we might be able to learn from them and incorporate those lessons into our everyday lives. Encourage your little buddies to embrace their dreams and share them with you in a format that works for them, you never know where their dreams might take them!