Must-Read Information on Bullying

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This article sponsored by CHOC Children’s Hospital

In light of October as National Bullying Prevention Month, I had the opportunity to engage in an extremely eye-opening conversation with Dr. Christopher Min, PhD, a licensed pediatric psychologist at CHOC Children’s  about bullying and the mental health effects on children. This is a must-read for all parents! He shares bullying warning signs to watch for, how to talk to your children about bullying, and how seeking professional help can also be life-changing for the entire family.


Bullying Warning Signs

The number one warning signs Dr. Min said to look for are “avoidance behaviors” or when a child expresses not wanting to go to school, activities or other situations they haven’t had a problem with in the past.

The child may start having more stomach-aches or headaches, or you might be alerted to frequent trips to the nurse, often at times like recess or lunch when bullying may be happening.

How to Talk to Your Children About Bullying

I asked Dr. Min for tips on how to talk to your children about bullying and find out what is going on and this was a huge “aha moment” for me.

First, let’s talk about what NOT to do!

The topic of bullying can make parents emotional, and their reactions emotional, driving them to jump immediate “protective, problem-solving mode.” But Dr. Min said reacting in this way is not the best way to get the information and get your child to share more about what is happening.

The #1 important thing parents can do is LISTEN.

Listen, listen, listen and be calm, supportive and thoughtful while gathering information. It is also important to communicate it is not their fault and careful not to place blame or tell them, “You need to stick up for yourself!”

Really listening is the best way to get kids to share more and feel safe sharing with you, especially if they feel they will not be criticized for what they did or didn’t do.

Parents cannot control what the bully does at school or outside the home, but they CAN control a supportive, healing atmosphere at home.

What to Do If Your Child is Being Bullied

Depending on the severity of the situation, and especially if physical bullying is going on, the school should be notified immediately. If the bullying is lesser in severity, like teasing, parents can work with their children to come up with a practical plan on how to deal with the bully.

Dr. Min shared bullies tend to pick on children when they are alone. Making a plan to have your child avoid being alone or seek out a peer group (or position themselves near a teacher or adult) when the bully is present will make it harder for the bully to act out their behaviors.

The more situations or chances the bully gets to exhibit the behaviors, the more they are reinforced and likely to continue.

Having your child remove themselves as much from those situations as possible can help.

When to Seek Professional Help for Bullying

If the bullying persists, and the plan is not working, wonderful therapists are available to help children and families struggling with bullying.

Professional help is recommended if you notice the following in your child:

– Persistent irritable mood
– Anxiety and worry about school
– Trouble concentrating on school work
– Interference with daily functioning, school and/or activities

How a Child Therapist Can Help

A licensed therapist can be a tremendous help for children and families. Today’s mental health treatments for bullying are solution-focused and help give the child tools, skills and coaching on how to deal with the bully.  In addition, a therapist can provide additional support and stress management tools to help with the strong emotional ramifications that come with being bullied.

Mental Health Ramifications from Bullying

If left untreated, children that are persistently bullied can struggle with depression or anxiety, act out in unfavorable ways, and in severe cases, bullying can lead to suicide attempts. Bullying is not something that should be ignored or assumed will go away on its own.

A Word About Girls and Bullying

Many people think bullying only happens with boys, but for parents of girls, I was alerted to an eye-opening fact. Dr. Min shared girls at times can be even more aggressive than boys with bullying.

Using exclusion tactics and social humiliation to bully, the emotional abuse can be just as hurtful as physical abuse, especially now days with social media (which is another conversation in itself).

Let’s Talk About Pediatric Mental Health

lets-talk This generation of parents has a unique opportunity to start the conversation about mental health with our children. No sweeping issues under the rug, or pretending they don’t exist.

Mental health and happiness is just as important as physical health.

As human beings, no one is immune to struggling with mental health issues at times. But when the issues persist and quality of life is affected, there is no reason for a child, or anyone for that matter, to suffer.

Help is available to us  to navigate mental health issues with children – the most vulnerable population.

Let’s teach our kids, it’s OKAY to get help. In fact, it is often the right thing to do. I believe in turn we will be raising a happier, healthier future generation.

Click here to learn more about CHOC Children’s mental health programs and services.

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Tiny Oranges Book Club Starts Next Week!

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In the spirit of Rising Strong, the first Tiny Oranges Book Club selection, I am going to be completely honest and vulnerable when I tell you I really don’t know what I am doing. I am sure you are now completely compelled to join my Club. Right?

While reading Rising Strong, I had so many AHA and TRUTH moments I felt it necessary to be in a forum talking about it with others and the next thing I knew I was writing this post about starting an online book club. I didn’t know how I was going to do a book club online, but I felt I had to put it out there and would figure out the “how” later.

And now I am going to give this a shot! I hope you will bear with me as we figure this out together. If you have suggestions or ideas on how to make it work better, believe me when I say, I am SO OPEN to suggestions.

For now, I thought I would try Good Reads as the forum for our first discussion next week.

As a reminder, we will be discussing Chapter One – Four. 

Here’s what you do:

1. Hopefully by now you have gotten the book. Here’s the Amazon link again if you need to order it, like today.  You will want your own copy. I have underlined and made notes all over mine.

2. Visit my Tiny Oranges Book Club page on Good Reads.

3. Set up an easy profile and join the Club!

4. First discussion is an intro! Introduce yourself – I want to meet everyone before next week.

5. Come back to the Tiny Oranges Book Club page on Good Reads next Tuesday and I will post questions for us to discuss.  Since we are all on different schedules, I hope you can carve out a little time on Tuesday to post when it works for you.

Let’s see how that goes.  I would love to do a group where we are all online together in real time at some point. If anyone has suggestions on how to do that, or timing that would work best, please let me know.

I can be emailed at jennifer @ with anything!!!!

Love you all! Excited for next week and looking forward to diving into this discussion with you!



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Story Angels

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The story of a chance meeting. The story of when you fell in love. The story of a life-changing trip.  The story about the time you made a decision that changed the course of your life. Our stories are our legacy, precious and unique, and play a large part in making us who we are.

Some family stories might get passed down through the generations, but no one tells the story better than the person who lived it, which is why capturing these stories on video or documenting them on paper is a priceless family heirloom.

Story Angels

Last week I was invited to a special media event to experience a new program in the Fullerton school district. The fifth graders from Laguna Road School are the first to participate in the district’s new “Story Angels” program where students interview and film seniors about a life-changing event they experienced. 

The 5th grade students were paired with one senior in teams of four kids at the beautiful Morningside retirement community for this very special project.

You guys, my heartstrings were tugged at every turn watching these two very different generations interact together.

The first time the kids met their senior partner, they brought only their ears and notebooks as they listened to their stories.

Stories of surviving childhood polio, hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, tending to the animals on the farm and having a goat as a pet, moving to the banks of the Amazon in Brazil at the age of 11 with missionary parents. Life events, that probably sounded astonishing to the 10 and 11 year olds.

Honing their narrative writing skills, the children then worked on their own individual essays about their senior, which were fact checked via mail by the residents.  One of the students showed me her essay.  Can you even get over the first paragraph she wrote? I got the chills.

story angel essay

For the second meeting, students were armed with iPads provided by the Fullerton School District and the teams videoed their senior telling the story of this life event.

The students shared with me that they will then take the footage and learn how to edit it into one film.

The district and Morningside plan to hold an event next month in which the student projects will be screened and the final video heirlooms will be presented to the seniors and their families.

story angels taping

Make Your Own Story Angels Project

I was so touched by this I am completely inspired to have my girls work on a Story Angels project like this with each of their grandparents.

The obvious choice in a family would be to do interview the grandparents or a relative, but the senior could be anyone close to your family and it would make such a special gift.

These days with our aging family members are precious. I know. Now is the time to capturing their stories for generations to come.

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Tiny Oranges Book Club!

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Recently I started Rising Strong by Brené Brown and the book is so powerful and her message and research is so compelling, I can’t stop talking about it.  

She is inspiring a movement that I believe will result in happier people, better parents, better friends and better spouses by the act of embracing vulnerability and getting real.

The book is resonating so much with me at this stage in my life.

What I am loving about this book is how she teaches us how we can bring our best selves into our relationships by owning our stories, even the painful ones, to embrace our vulnerability and use it as a mechanism for personal growth.

Do you want to read it with me and discuss? I have never done this before, so I am going to spend some time researching how to do an online book club discussion, possibly on Goodreads, and start my own group. Bear with me on the details and I will let you know how we will get together to discuss.

For now, this is all you have to do:

1. Purchase Rising Strong by Brené Brown.

2. Read Sections One – Four by October 17th.

3. Subscribe to my posts so you can stay informed of our first Tiny Oranges Book Club Rising Strong discussion, happening in about two weeks.

Yay! I’m excited. Will you join me?



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