Positive Transitions During the School Year

While most students are well into their new school year, some are in year-round schools or just now transferring into a new school.

What they all have in common is that they are experiencing transitions, and transitions are a part of life and can sometimes be challenging. 

It can be difficult, for example, to transition from summer schedules to fall schedules or vacation and holiday schedules to busy school schedules.

There are both physical and mental adjustments that need to be made, and those require periods of adjustment for students as well as their parents and other adults.  

Here are some suggestions to approach transitions in the school year in a positive way:

1.  With regard to physical adjustments, parents can help their children reset their body clock and get used to a new sleep schedule.  Resetting bedtime and gradually having their children wake up earlier and earlier, is a good start to getting them “ready” for the early morning wake up call for school, as well as establishing monthly schedules that include adequate time for homework, after school extracurricular activities, and time spent with family and friends. 

2.  With regard to the mental adjustments, parents play a big part in helping their children get ready for the new school year as well.  The transition between summer break and the fall semester can be exciting and frightening at the same time. The transition between holidays and school any time of year can be sometimes challenging.

Parents can begin by having meaningful discussions about the exciting new things that their children will be doing during the new school year.  It’s a time to be positive and discuss the fact that, as children get older, they are given greater responsibilities and get to do more and more exciting things. 

It is during these discussions that children frequently express their own ideas and feelings, and even anxieties, fears and insecurities. By engaging the children in conversations like this and focusing on the positive aspects of change, they can ignite a sense of excitement and something to think about well into those first few weeks of school. This can help alleviate some of the stress or anxiety over an “abrupt” end to summer or a holiday.

3.  Parents can also address any specific concerns that their children might have about new and unknown things. If the children do in fact have anxiety, stressors or fears about the new school year starting and the end of summer, this is the time to identify them and take specific steps to address them.  It is not unusual for children to be anxious or stressed over new friendships, breakdown of old friendships, moving to a new neighborhood, new teachers, a bigger school, finding their classroom, additional homework, etc.  The key is to acknowledge the fears and talk about them.

4.  Parents can also help children create a positive outlook about school by discussing what they hope to accomplish in the coming year.  It is important to set goals and regularly assess whether those goals are being met.  Many of these goals will probably be aligned to what will be expected of the children in school, and others will be related to how to accomplish those goals.  There will undoubtedly be successes and failures, triumphs and challenges; but the key will be to be supportive and keep the lines of communication open with the children.

There are many more ways parents can help their children transition out of vacation mode and into school year mode.  We would love to hear your thoughts.  So, like and share your thoughts with us on Facebook!


How to help your kids fight the “Winter Blues.”

The summer months just flew by while Lily and the rest of the Superheroes were having fun, preparing for the launch of the big book!

Now that fall is here, however, we’re all starting to notice that the daylight hours are shorter and shorter. School routines are back in session for most of us, and the nights are longer.

This happens every year and, while most of us are well adjusted to the changing seasons, sometimes adults and kids suffer from something called SAD. This is an abbreviation for Seasonal Affective Disorder.

When kids suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, part of the problem may be due to a decreased level of serotonin or an imbalance of melatonin that is usually not the case during the warmer, summer months. Of course, this is an oversimplification to what could be a more serious condition.  But if it is simply a case of the “Winter Blues,” we can certainly takes steps to get them through the fall and winter months.  

We know Lily would be right there to help cheer up any of her classmates and friends if she saw that they were sad or despondent.  But what are some of the signs of someone suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder?

If children are suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, they may have trouble getting out of bed in the morning; they may be more withdrawn or want to stay indoors, have less energy, have difficulty concentrating, or feel as if their usual fun activities aren’t as much fun as they usually are.

Children may also exhibit a change in their eating habits beyond what is normal for them.  They may suddenly be disinterested in their favorite fall sports or participation in school plays, concerts, or competitive activities and may withdraw from their classmates or siblings.

If as a parent, you have some concerns, perhaps casually asking your child if he or she has a case of the “Winter Blues” is appropriate.

It’s important to keep in mind, though, that some of these signs may indicate a case of the “Winter Blues,” but may also indicate something more serious.  If that is the case, then it’s important to address that as well and in some cases, first.  

We’ve talked about some of these before in our posts about bullying.

So what can parents, teachers, and Lily and the Superheroes Club do to help someone suffering from SAD?

While it may be difficult to go outside during the darker, colder months, parents, teachers, siblings, and friends should encourage each other to participate in “fun winter activities” that involve regular exercise and not turning into “couch potatoes.”  Besides enjoying outdoor winter activities, one can also explore indoor activities. Many fun arts and crafts projects can be found on websites like Pinterest.  It’s an excellent time to visit museums or other places of interest that are indoors.

Maintaining a balanced diet and providing healthy meals help generate feelings of wellness to cope with the changing environments.  The fall and winter months are the perfect time of the year for family members to plan meals together and actually prepare and cook the meals together as well.  In addition, involving children in making desserts, especially baking cookies, can lift our spirits.  It might be surprising to discover that there is probably a master chef or master baker within most kids.

It’s important to communicate regularly with our children in order to give them the opportunity to discuss their feelings and the things that are going on in their lives. While it may not always be easy to do, it’s important to schedule one on one time with your child, where there are no distractions, and your child can openly discuss the challenges and the joys he or she may be experiencing.  

Planning a winter getaway either as a weekend trip or a quick one-day trip can be invigorating because it takes one away from the usual routine and provides everyone with a well-needed break.  Sometimes it’s not only the actual trip but also the planning that can help ward off the “Winter Blues.” Letting your kids pick places they want to go and do the research to make the visit happen can help them overcome sad or downcast feelings.

In extreme cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder, some doctors suggest light therapy.

As always, parents, teachers, and other adults should consult professionals, if they believe it is necessary and appropriate, when dealing with this disorder or any other disorder.

There are numerous ways to deal with the SAD feelings that come up this time of year. The most important thing to remember as a parent or teacher is to empathize with the child, student, or friend and provide them the opportunity to share their feelings in a safe and nurturing environment.  Only then, can they learn to overcome the “Winter Blues” and hopefully find their own inner “superhero.”

How To Be A SUPERHERO Against Bullying - Bully

Part 4: If your child is the one doing the bullying

First, it is important to understand that if your child is bullying or being mean to others, it does not make you a bad parent or your child a bad child.  Children bully other children for a variety of reasons, and it takes an astute parent to recognize it and a courageous parent to accept it and take steps to address it. 

Educating children involves having to teach them about dealing with difficult situations, such as when they are hurting, angry, or sad, and when they have to interact with someone they don’t like.

Our children have all been in situations when they have been upset or unhappy and have directed those hurt feelings toward someone else.  Usually this is unintentional, and they may be completely unaware of how their words or actions can be hurtful and be interpreted as “bullying” the other child.

For children, as well as adults, learning how to recognize when we have inadvertently hurt someone else and taking the appropriate steps to make amends is a necessary lesson for living life as a caring and empathetic child or adult.\

Consider the following steps in helping your child if he or she is accused of “bullying” someone else:

  • Have a frank discussion with your child. Let him or her know that he or she was called out for “bullying” others. It is important to discuss the specific behaviors that he or she may have taken which were considered “bullying” and give your child the opportunity to explain his or her actions.  It opens the door for a more intense discussion of how your child feels and why he or she felt compelled to act as your child did.  This can be a great opportunity to determine whether this was just “kids being kids” or a problem requiring further investigation.   If it’s just “kids being kids,” then your child needs to be taught and reminded of behaviors that are inappropriate, those that are unacceptable, and that all actions have consequences.  On the other hand, if it’s determined that your child’s actions point to some deeper emotional challenge he or she may be experiencing, than counseling by a school counselor or outside professional may be warranted.
  • Model and teach empathy. We believe that children learn behaviors not only when they are taught but also when they see it modeled.  So, it is incumbent upon all of us, who interact with children, to practice empathy and kindness as a way to teach them about people’s feelings and how they need to consider that in their own personal interactions with others.
  • Work with your child’s teachers and school counselors.   See how you, in conjunction with your child’s teacher and counselor, can plan a strategy for curbing that “kids will be kids” behavior, and if necessary, determine alternatives if your child requires greater forms of intervention or services. 
  • Teach your child to calm down before acting.  Unfortunately, there will always be situations when children get annoyed and angry with other children, and they will react impulsively and say and do hurtful things.  Help your child understand that if and when he or she feels the urge to bully or be unkind, suggest taking a few minutes to calm down before reacting in an inappropriate way. If necessary, suggest that your child ask an adult for help to try to avoid a potentially hurtful situation for everyone involved.
  • Focus on the inappropriate and unacceptable behavior.  In any discussions involving “bullying,” it’s important to focus on the inappropriate and unacceptable behaviors and not personally attack the child who is acting meanly.  It is important to distinguish the behavior from the child and not permanently label the child as a “bully.”  What we want to avoid is the “self-fulfilling” prophecy which happens all too often with children.  If a child is told often enough that he or she is a certain kind of person, he or she begins to believe it and takes on those behaviors and characteristics.
  • Remind your child to monitor and try to adjust his or her behavior.  Reminding your child to monitor and perhaps adjust his or her own behavior, especially with regard to treating other kids with respect, is a first step to build positive relationships with other children.  Children can adjust their tone and body language to communicate a friendly and respectful demeanor, while discouraging instances of “bullying.” It will take additional modeling and persistence to give children the tools to practice this positive kind of communication even when faced with difficult situations.
  • Have your child approach and apologize.  Set up a meeting or a play date with the parent(s) and the child that he or she bullied.  Your child should address the child he or she may have been mean to and discuss what prompted the “bullying” and how it made everyone feel.  It is important to end the meeting or play date by acknowledging everyone’s feelings and apologizing for any inappropriate and hurtful behaviors, as well as the commitment to not repeat the behavior. 
  • Encourage your child to make a pact with friends and fellow students to not engage in “bullying” behaviors.  It is important for children to not only recognize and acknowledge when they are engaging in “bullying” behaviors but also acknowledge that it is unacceptable and that they will try other ways to deal with conflict.  Since peer pressure is very powerful in dictating children’s behavior, parents, teachers and counselors can and should also help them collectively agree to not engage in “bullying” behaviors.  If most of the children see this as a value, then there should be a significant decrease in “bullying” behavior and an increase in cooperative and friendly interactions.

We hope these posts can help you with the children in your care whether they are being bullied (link), see bullying (link), or sometimes act like a bully themselves. Our kids need our help and our example to become empathetic, caring adults, and in the process of helping them, we can find ourselves becoming better people ourselves, just like Lily and the Superheroes Club.

How To Be A SUPERHERO Against Bullying - Victim

Part 3: If your child is the one being bullied

Children, who are victims of “bullying,” experience painful and possibly long-lasting emotional and physical scars that can affect them throughout their childhood and into adolescence and adulthood.

As parents, we must take action and help our children deal with their pain in a way that minimizes the long-term effects of the meanness or cruelty, enabling them to enjoy happy and healthy childhoods.

The following are points to consider:

  • Address the “bullying.”  If your child has been the victim of mistreatment like bullying, hopefully he or she has shared it with you, with friends or other adults, rather than hiding it and trying to deal with it on his or her own.  Depending on their age and the level of meanness, some children are able to deal with a “bullying” situation pretty well, but more often than not, intervention of some sort is necessary.  As a parent, it is important to address it immediately by acknowledging that it is happening and helping your child identify the feelings that he or she is feeling.


Have you noticed that your child appears overly angry, resentful, and fearful, or has eating issues or trouble sleeping?   The more important question to ask, though, is whether your child is exhibiting unusual behaviors, mood changes, even unexplained physical injuries, or avoidance of friends and technology.  Is your child behaving in a way that is the norm for him or her?  Assuming your child is not experiencing some other obvious trauma in the family such as a death, severe illness, divorce or other family crisis, it is important to delve into what could be bothering your child.  Your child could be the victim of “bullying” and needs your help.

If your child is reluctant to discuss it with a parent, a school counselor, or perhaps spiritual leader, then another outside professional should be considered.

Unfortunately, instances of “bullying” aren’t usually resolved without some form of intervention, which is critical if your child is to begin the process of healing. 

  • Takes steps to stop it.  When your child alerts you to his or her being a victim of meanness, it is important to take the situation seriously and validate whatever feelings he or she is expressing.  More importantly, it is equally important to strategize ways to empower your child to stop the “bullying.”  Discuss ways to not only stop the mistreatment, but also prevent it from happening again.  Encourage your child to be part of the solution because it will help your child develop confidence, courage, and resourcefulness.

When children take part in solving their problems, they will feel more in control and less like victims.

Encourage your child to stand up for himself or herself by confronting the bully, assuming your child feels safe enough to do so.  Role-play some scenarios where you suggest possible words your child can use when speaking to the bully. 

Being part of a buddy system is also a good strategy.  Having a friend or multiple friends, who are aware of the “bullying,” can be helpful in confronting a mean person.  There is always strength in numbers, and within a group, friends can give each other support, security, and confidence if one of them must deal with a bully.

  • Deal with the pain it has caused your child.  Because being a victim of “bullying” is painful, your child will need your help in overcoming the pain it has caused him or her.  As a parent, it is important to continue to give your child love and support during and certainly after the incident.  Continue to monitor your child’s behavior and see if he or she has reverted back to what was the norm prior to the “bullying.”  Is your child smiling again? Does your child want to go to school and spend time with friends and participate in activities he or she loves? Is your child eating and sleeping well, and once again eager to go on social media sites?

As a parent, you will recognize if there are still unresolved issues and whether further intervention by a professional, is perhaps warranted.  Only you can determine how to best deal with your child’s ongoing pain, if it does persist. The good news is that you don’t have to deal with it alone; your local school and your community usually have resources to help you and your family.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.



How To Be A SUPERHERO Against Bullying - Witness

Part 2: If your child witnesses bullying

If your child is around other children for any length of time, the likelihood is that he or she will see a child being unkind to another child, or even being a bully! It’s important to help our children recognize instances of “bullying” and then give them the strategies to combat it.

Some kinds of “bullying” can be harder to identify than others.  Help your child recognize instances of bullying like the following: physical altercations on the playground, unkind words directed at others, spreading rumors on the Internet, using relationships or social status as a means of control. Some of the ways in which children are mean to each other or mistreat each other may not be considered “bullying” but are still hurtful and also need to be addressed.

It is equally important to discuss how your child can become an advocate for others and speak up for those children who may not be able to speak up for themselves.

But, observing instances of bullying and meanness can be scary and intimidating for children, and we certainly would not want them to intervene without the understanding and the skills needed to deal with those situations.

Below are some suggestions regarding ways we can support our children to be superheroes and intervene when they see children “bullying” other children.

  • Encourage your child to practice empathy and kindness toward other children and help create caring communities in which children help and support each other and discourage any form of cruelty.
  • If “bullying” does occur, encourage your child to find a teacher or other adult who can intervene and hopefully resolve the situation.
  • If your child feels uncomfortable getting involved, he or she can speak to a teacher, parent or other trusted adult, in confidence, to report the incidence of unkindness.  Your child needs to understand the importance of reporting acts of “bullying” or meanness.  All too often, staying silent and not wanting to get involved leads to additional mistreatment, more extreme kinds of cruelty toward children or other, more serious, behaviors.
  • When appropriate, being assertive and standing up for a friend or fellow student, who is being bullied, is another way your child can intervene.

“Bullying” is not a new childhood phenomenon.  It has perhaps become more widespread, and we are certainly more aware of it, in all its forms.  As parents and members of the community, we all need to advocate for treating all people with decency and respect.  Let your children see that you value those things and that you intervene when others are being discriminated against or are being hurt.  It might be helpful to discuss the many forms of intervention that are also possible.  It could be a person-to-person discussion, it could be a written correspondence to an appropriate person or agency, and it can even be an anonymous reporting.  Whatever form of involvement one chooses, the message we want to give to our children is that it’s important to get involved and help when we see an injustice, and, in this case, “bullying.”

Finally, just being caring and supportive of each other is the best way to avoid and counter acts bullying, and it is the true sign of a superhero.

Lily and her friends can help your child be a superhero too in the fight against bullying.


How To Be A SUPERHERO Against Bullying

Part 1: Introduction

We never want to see children bullying other children! “Bullying,” in any form, is hurtful to those being bullied and can have lasting effects on a child’s social and emotional development. Children can be quite unkind to each other without it being called “bullying,” and what we discuss here can apply to all forms of unkind behavior.

Children bullying other children not only robs them of a happy and healthy childhood but can further lead to a child’s inability to form healthy and lasting relationships with his or her peers and can cause lifelong emotional scars into adolescence and adulthood.

Our message in the Superheroes Club Book series is clear: it is about helping, sharing and caring, being empathetic, and enjoying childhood.  But, for many children, this message is not their reality.

So, if we agree that “bullying” is an unacceptable behavior, how do we help our children recognize it, understand why children do it, and encourage our children to not engage in it, while empowering them to intervene when they see it happening?

Obviously, it is not easy for young children to recognize or understand all the ways that kids bully or are mean to other children, or why they do it, and it is an even harder thing for them to stop it when they see it.

As parents, it can be challenging to navigate the world of bullying and to know how to appropriately deal with the topic, whether your child is the one doing the bullying, the child being victimized by bullying or the bystander who is not sure what to do when they witness bullying. When we talk about “bullying” in this post, we mean the gamut of actions from childish meanness to the cruelty we have seen with teenagers and the internet. No form of unkindness to each other is acceptable, and teaching that starts with our kids.

No matter in which category your child finds himself or herself, we have suggestions to help you address this topic of meanness.

First, we, as adults, need to recognize the many ways that children can hurt other children.

It is not just the name-calling or the physical confrontations at school anymore.  It is much more subtle and destructive in many ways.

Ignoring fellow classmates, whispering behind someone’s back, intentionally leaving children out of activities, passing hateful notes or spreading hurtful rumors, especially on social media, are all examples of the kinds of “bullying” that children experience on a daily basis.

And now with social media, it is even more widespread and more hurtful and damaging.

Sometimes children will act out when they, themselves, feel unsafe or insecure. They might be experiencing problems at home or at school but keep their true feelings hidden.  This may lead to unkind actions and bullying of other children when they are, in effect, really crying out for help. 

It is therefore important that parents, teachers, and other adults in our community be aware and recognize some of these signs in children so they can address the problem at the source and hopefully prevent it from escalating to a level where children feel the need to redirect their hurt toward other children.

If we look at our superhero, Lily, we realize that she could never be a bully.  She is such a happy, confident, and independent child. With her positive outlook on life and her natural instinct to help others, she would not engage in meanness and would certainly not tolerate someone around her being “bullied” by another person.

What Lily does instead is inspire and empower other children to do “good” and share and care about others, which includes befriending them and intervening if they are being bullied.

Lily’s personality and unique character traits enable her to be that anti-bullying, anti-meanness superhero. 

So, how can we help our children follow her lead and be real superheroes like her?  How do we support Lily’s efforts and our own children’s efforts to stop bullying and meanness when they see it, in a smart and safe way, as Lily does?

In the next three posts, we’ll share some ways to help our children be superheroes - whether they are themselves bullies, victims of mean actions, or witnesses to cruelty.