Myrna Shure (left) with Montel Williams, TV syndicated talk-show Host,
and Eva Blackwell, Publicist, NBC10, Philadelphia. Photograph
taken at the NBC10 Fit Fest, an annual full day free event to learn more
about health and fitness, with fun-filled activities for the whole
family to enjoy -- held April 12th and 13th, 2003 at the
Philadelphia Convention Center.
interviewing Montel Williams at the NBC 10 Fit Fest, April 12th
and l3th, Philadelphia, 2003.
Click here to read Myrna's column,
"TV Host Montel Williams Explains MS to his Kids", as it was
in the Philadelphia Daily News.
Is your child one of the millions mesmerized by the adventures
of Harry? What is it about Harry Potter that so enraptures them?
In asking children ages 7 to l2, I discovered it is different
things to different kids.
A 7-year-old boy just likes the adventure, the magic, and
wishes he could do what Harry does - well, some of what Harry
does. An 11-year-old girl wanted to talk to her mom about Harrys
being an orphan, about his mean aunt and uncle, and since mom had
read the story too, they were able to talk about their own family
and how lucky they are to have the family they do.
Harry provides kids with lots of wonderful opportunities to
think about their own lives at home and at school. And if you can
read the books yourself, you can help your child connect Harrys
life to your childs.
Heres some things you can ask:
Why do you think a girl in Harrys school acts so bossy?
Now stretch your childs thinking. Ask, Why else? Then
ask, Do you know a kid who acts that way in your school? Why
do you think that kid needs to act that way? Why else?
What can you think of to do or say so she wont act that way?
Harrys adventures can help your child to think about how to
solve other problems he may face in life. From an earlier book in
the series, one 11-year-old girl was fascinated by how Harry flew
his magic car too fast and crashed into a tree. It was fun to read
how the tree came to life and fought back, but here was an
opportunity to think about how Harry felt about what happened,
what he did, and what else he could have done. This girl thought
for a moment, and said, I would have written a letter and have
the owl who carries letters to school deliver the letter."
Reading the Harry Potter books is fun. What a wonderful way to
excite your children to think about how they feel about things,
how other people feel, and what they can do to solve the
everyday problems in their own lives too.
concerned that video games designed to knock down, shoot, or blow
up human figures will make your child want to hurt other people?
Do you prohibit these games to protect your child from
thinking bad thoughts? Have
you talked with your child to find out how he thinks about
10-year-old told me, Theyre just fiction.
Its fun. Its
cool. And I can help
my hand-eye coordination. That
makes me feel good. When
I asked him if he thought they might encourage him to hurt anyone
in real life, he said, I would never hurt anyone in real life.
I could get in trouble, and I would lose my friends.
You cant lose friends in a video game.
boy, also age 10, agreed. Theyre
not real. Theyre just fun. When
I asked if he thought those games could make kids violent, this
boy confidently assured me that they could not, because Once
you beat the game, thats the end, theres no more to do.
Its no big deal.
He did tell me why he thought a classmate, already a bully
who had no friends likes these games.
They probably make him feel better.
Hes in control. In real life hes not.
just one of the problems parents are concerned about, control.
Control of who gets hurt, how much, and for how long.
No big deal? They
of risking making violent video games more attractive by
prohibiting them, try helping your child think more about this for
himself. You can ask,
How do you feel when someone gets hurt in real life?
How do you think he feels.
If you feel angry in real life, what can you do so you
wont hurt anyone?
try to keep your child away from these kinds of video games if
youre concerned about potential violence, now, or later.
Helping him learn empathy early in life will much more
likely prevent it.
your child invite a friend to the house and then not come home on
he call a friend very early on Sunday morning, without thinking he
might wake him up?
she borrow a book and not return it when her friend needs it to do
told your child a thousand times to think of others, but he
doesnt seem to hear you.
some things you can do:
your child how his friend might feel if no ones home when
he comes, gets awakened by the phone, or doesnt have his
book on time.
him what he thinks might happen if he doesnt think of
others, and then ask him if he wants those things to happen.
your child what he can do or say next time he has a chance to
show a friend he cares.
early as preschool, children can care, and show they care
And your children will act more thoughtfully if you
help them think about how what they do affects others in return.
Your child is starting to use words you never heard him use
before - curse words. Where did he hear them? Why is he starting
to use them now?
You tell him to stop - but he doesnt. You send him to his
room - and he slams the door. You explain to him that he
wont have any friends if he talks to them like that - but he
doesnt hear a word you say. And when you ask him why he
started to talk like that, he just says, Because.
Youre at your wits end. What can you do?
- First, think about whether something else is upsetting him
now. Cursing can be the result of the real problem, not
the problem itself.
- If you think hes just being defiant, ask:
How do you think I feel when you talk like that?
Can you think of a different way to tell me (or your
friends) how you feel?
Darren, age 8 came home from school one day using curse words
he never used before. The more his mom demanded he stop, or
explained why he shouldnt use them, the more Darren defied her.
When she asked him to think of a different way to tell
her how he felt, Darren stopped - smiled - and no more needed to
Your l2-year-old is starting to mix with friends you
think are bad for her - and youre worried. You keep telling her
you dont want her hanging around those kids anymore - but that
only makes them more attractive to her. You explain why she
should find new friends - but she doesnt hear you.
What can you do? What can you say?
If your child is caught up in what you think may be a
destructive relationship, ask:
How do you feel when youre around those kids?
What is it about them that you like?
Do you like the way you feel around them?
What can happen if you stay friends with those kids?
Do you want that to happen?
What can you do so that will not happen?
How will you feel then?
Most kids really do want to talk with their parents about
issues like these. Mary Ann, age l2 never thought about these
things before her dad asked her these questions. And she came to
realize that her friends were getting her to do things she
really didnt want to do - and that maybe these were friends she
didnt really want to have. With this kind of help, Mary Ann
will be better prepared to resist later pressure from peers as she
approaches those more tumultuous teen age years.
Your 5-year-old is upset again because his sister keeps taking his toys.
You tell him you'll talk to her about it.
Your 10-year-old complains that her sister keeps "borrowing" her jewelry.
You assure her you'll take care of this right away.
Your 15-year-old is angry because his brother took his bike again - without his permission.
And you say, "I'll tell him you don't like that."
Mom or dad to the rescue. But parents aren't always around to help their children when they need them.
Children have to learn to think for themselves.
Here are some things you can do:
- Bring your children together. Ask them to tell you what the problem is, and what they can do to solve it.
- Ask them to think about whether their solution is or is not a good one, and why. If they decide it's not a good idea, ask them to
think of an idea they can both be happy with.
Rescuing children from the daily turmoil of life without involving them doesn't help them learn to solve their
problems. It only relieves them from having to think any more about them. And as early as age 4, children can turn
problems into problems that can be solved.
How do you feel when something you want to happen, doesn't?
How do you feel when something you thought would happen, didn't?
Do you take it out on others, give up, or find a way to make it OK?
We all have frustrations and disappointments in life.
And children do too.
Here's how we can help.
Let them express their feelings about it so they don't bottle them up.
Help them think of something different to do that they can feel good about.
Help them appreciate what they do have, instead of what they do not.
A 10-year old who was really disappointed that her parents couldn't come to
her first soccer game told me, "I look on the bright side, I'm lucky, some
kids don't get to do this at all."
Help your children turn a negative into a positive and they'll turn
frustration into pride.
Your daughter's now 12 and starting to talk to boys. And
you're concerned because she's talking to one particular boy - a lot - on the
phone. He's two years older - and you don't know him.
If you restrict her entirely, she'll talk to him on the sly.
If you give her free rein, you worry about what they're saying
- and where it might lead.
Here's some things you can do:
Let your daughter know you care how she thinks and feels about
the boy. By doing this, you'll learn more about him than by asking her
more direct questions.
Encourage your daughter to have a small group of friends over
to your home, giving you a chance to meet him without his being singled out.
If you do decide your daughter is not yet ready to relate to
this boy, ask her to think about why you may feel the way you do.
Simple forbidding her to talk to or see him will only make him
seem all the more attractive.
If your preteen daughter can feel safe talking with your about
these matter now, your line of communication may stay open as she approaches
those more tumultuous teen-age years.
Do you have a child who excels at something, is perhaps
academically gifted, a star athlete or a brilliant musician?
Do you have another child who does not excel, enjoys fewer
accolades and may feel jealous or left out at school?
Here are some ways to help a less-gifted child feel special
Encourage him to choose a different hobby he can enjoy -
playing a musical instrument, art, a sport, or becoming immersed in a unique
Let her know she doesn't have to be perfect. Any
pressure to "be good," "to win" or to practice every day no
matter what may have the opposite effect of what you want for your child - just
to feel good inside.
One 12-year-old I know was very jealous of her younger
brother, a talented actor. She discovered pottery and now beams when her
creative juices flow. She's not preparing for "first in
show". More importantly, her pottery paved the way for her to meet
new kids, and now she's made some new friends.
This girl found her own niche. And instead of feeling
jealous, she's feeling very good about who she is.
What can you do to help your child take her schoolwork seriously after a summer of fun?
One mom helped her 10-year-old daughter, Carrie, by asking her to think of some things that might be
different for her this year than last. Carrie replied that she thinks the work will be harder, she'll have to do more writing and
more reports. Carrie was nervous about how hard math will be too.
Instead of telling her what to do, Carrie's mom asked her to think about what would be a good way to practice some of the skills she would need this
year. Carrie came up with the idea to write some stories about what she did that she liked during the summer.
Being excited about her own idea, Carrie wrote about swimming. That helped her express
her thoughts and feelings, and also helped her practice her writing skills.
Carrie's mom then asked her about how she could practice her math skills, and Carrie
said, "I could practice my flash cards."
Mom asked Carrie to think about other things that, may be different about school this
year, and Carrie realized that everyone would look different, that she is now taller and her friends would be too. When asked how she feels about that, Carrie beamed,
"More grown-up. And I can't wait to see them."
Starting now, help your child slowly move from her summer schedule to the new one for school. Let her choose her way to do that. Even: kids going to kindergarten can do that. Carrie got excited about practicing skills because she
thought of how to do that herself. It was a good transitions And she was energized about, and better
prepared for doing back to school.
Your child has homework that he cannot or will not do.
Do you help him? If so, how? You could do it for him, so it'll get
done. But what's the real goal?
If your child says homework's boring, you can spice it
up. Let him help you cook dinner and discuss the difference between a
quarter of a teaspoon and a half. If he likes baseball, ask him if he'd be
happier if the Phillies got 2 times 4 runs or 4 times 3 runs. You can vary
this according to what your child is learning. When you buy things at the
store, let your child connect anything he's learning to real life.
If she's very young, you can place two applies on the left and two on the
right and let her count them. Let her choose other objects to place on the
table. If your child is learning to subtract, take away some and let her
do that too.
Ask an older child questions about how a story he's reading began, what the
characters did, how they felt, what else they could do to solve any problems
described, and how the story ended. Let him make up different story
endings. Let him look up some background about the subject. If the
book describes an era within your lifetime, tell him about what life was like
for you and how it's different now.
Be creative. Let your child be creative too. Research shows that
parents who are involved have children who do better in school. In an
activity so important now in your child's life, it shows him you care - and he
will care too.
Can dads play a special role in how their kids do in
school? New research by the Department of Education says so.
Researchers can't say for sure why dads make such a
difference, but having Dad in their lives is something children notice and
appreciate. And, maybe, it makes them want to do better - for Dad and
Mom's involvement in school is significant. Mom plus Dad
What can moms and dads do?
- Stop by your child's school, even if it's just once in a
while, and volunteer to help out.
- Make bulletin boards for classroom walls, and let the kids
- Tutor a child who needs help.
- Talk with a disruptive child.
- You can ask the teacher what you can do to make your
child's life as successful as possible academically, socially and
How can being involved help you and your child?
- You'll learn more about what your child is learning in
- You'll get a better idea of who his friends are.
- You can better help your child plan his goals and how to
So, dads, help your child back to school by making a special
effort to get involved.
Your child may come home happier and with better grades than
ever. And you'll both feel very proud.
Is your child picked on, teased by classmates, left out of cliques at school?
Here are some ways you can help.
First, try to find the cause. If your child tells you the kids don't
like her or won't include her in the group, avoid glossing it over in hopes it
will go away.
Then, let her know you understand she's unhappy, and let her know you
care. If your child's classmates are merciless, as kids can sometimes be,
help her think of just one thing she's really good at, and focus on that for
now. It will help her to rely on her strengths, fell good about herself,
and maybe, get those classmates to see her in a new light.
You can then begin to help her think through what she can do or say so kids
will stop teasing her, what she thinks might happen if she does that, and two or
three more alternatives she can try if needed.
One 12-year-old boy was told by a classmate, "You're ugly. You're
too short." Instead of unleashing a good swift kick, he simply looked
at him and said, "I'm built differently than you."
What a different outcome that might have been if this boy couldn't control
his anger and draw on his inner strength and confidence.
Children can learn to change behaviors they can change - and they can learn
better responses for children who tease them about things they cannot
modify. If you help your child think about these things, they'll go to
school with pride, instead of fear or despair.
Is your child concerned about, or even succumbing to, the pressures from peers at school?
It can begin very early -- in sometimes subtle ways. A child is asked to do things she might not want to do. Does she think she has no 'friends," and if she doesn't do what these kids want, she'll lose them too?
What should you look for, and how can you help?
- Look for signs of stress in her face.
- Look for change in posture, in enthusiasm for school, even a drop in grades.
- Ask, in a supportive tone, "Did something happen today that made you feel sad?", If she doesn't reply right then, let her
know you're there, for her when she does want to talk.
Once she responds; avoid lecturing or telling her what to do. Instead, ask questions to help her, to think
about what she's doing:
- What might happen if you tease someone, smoke cigarettes, or try drugs? How will you
feel about that?
- Can you think of something you can do or say so those things won't happen?
Good problem solvers will care about themselves and others, make more responsible decisions, and will feel pride in their successes instead of frustration in their failures. They'll develop an inner strength, and have less need to succumb
to the pressures of doing what they don't want to do from "friends" they don't want to have.
If we change the way we talk to kids, it will change the way they talk to us
- and to their peers who are pressuring them at school.
Have you ever made a promise to your child that you could not or did not
keep? Perhaps you didn't buy that toy you promised or couldn't go to her
soccer game. Sometimes we really do forget - sometimes it's unavoidable,
and sometimes it's just our way of not knowing how to say no. An
occasional breach won't hurt. But when promises are broken again and
again, your child can react.
- He may feel no one cares about him.
- He may come to believe that if something you promised is delayed, he will
never have it at all.
- He may lose his trust in you. He'll come to think you don't mean
what you say. He might even come to believe that about other people,
When your child promises he'll clean his room today - will he? If you
don't keep your promises, he may come to believe that he doesn't have to keep
If you really mean no, avoid saying "maybe," or
"later." And if you can't follow through, let him know why and
that you'll make it up to him.
The world isn't a perfect place, and your child doesn't expect it to
be. But if you keep your promises most of the time, your child will, too.