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Secondhand Stress for Parents from Remote School? It is a thing.

Is remote school stressing you out?

Several stressed out parents and really smart experts were kind enough to speak with me for this story in the Washington Post.

“We’re a fly on the wall in a room we were never meant to be in,” said Robyn Silverman,  host of the How to Talk to Kids About Anything Podcast.

remote school

When parents overhear a teacher calling on their child when they are unprepared, or when we overhear a not-nice interaction with a classmate, “you can’t help but put yourself right back there” to your own school experience, said Silverman, who has a son and daughter  who are learning at home.

“As much as possible we need to separate our kid’s experience from our own,” says Tina Payne Bryson, a psychotherapist and co-author of  Whole Brain Child. If your heart races when you see emails from their teacher, you can try to center yourself and separate your experience from your child’s, says Bryson.

But parents need to be aware when their own school experiences can affect how they react to their children’s.

Psychologist Regine Galanti reminds us to remember that remote school is putting an “impossible burden” on parents and that self-compassion is needed.

Read the rest here, including some tips on how to deal with all the email and texts and other communication coming from school.

Need some help with pandemic parenting and screens?

I am offering limited numbers of one hour coaching sessions for parents navigating remote school, pandemic screen time and more. Happy email chat with you to see if it is a fit.

Social Media Shaming, for CNN Opinion

While a very public outing and social media shaming of a few young people here and there might offer some satisfaction, it unfortunately lets too  the rest of the community — students, parents and educators — off the hook. Finding the racists and exposing them becomes the focus, instead of how the grownups – the educators and parents — can support Black, indigenous and students of color and offer all students a thoughtful education.

Finding the teen who is imprudent about using a slur on social media focuses all the anger on that young person. What about the student who anonymously leaves a note in a locker? What about the student who keeps other kids off the team. What about the kids who quietly make it so uncomfortable for “outsiders” that some extracurricular activity is completely closed to kids of a certain orientation, ethnic group or gender? What about a school counselor who systematically counsels African American students away from advanced classes?

Read the rest on CNN Opinion


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Six Ideas for Getting Through Pandemic Holidays

A Light in the Darkness

pandemic holiday ideas

It’s getting dark so early that it feels like by the time I am ready to take that second walk of the day, the sun is already going down. During these short and sometimes lonely days of the pandemic, it is powerful to think about how many traditions have holidays that focus on a light in the darkness this time of year. Diwali, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Chanukah, Winter Solstice and more.

As we scramble to prepare for 8 days of Chanukah with just the three of us at home, I wanted to share some ideas to make the these winter holidays and upcoming school break a little easier and less stressful.

Six Ideas for Getting Through Pandemic Holidays

1) Remember that traditions can be adapted…and invented. If Aunt Leela isn’t coming this year with her usual dish, can she zoom with you and your children to teach you how to make it at home?

2) This winter break is a great time for a film festival. Spirited AwayPan’s LabyrinthDo The Right Thing, and Yellow Submarine are on our list. What films on yours? Can you coordinate with your kid’s friends families or your own extended family to watch a movie in each home and then chat about it afterwards?

3) Getting kids involved in making and choosing gifts for others is so much fun for them. Don’t let them be all about receiving. Give them stickers and markers to make some cards, or even some digital money to spend on siblings, or cousins (if they don’t have their own money saved up.) Choosing a gift for someone and anticipating and enjoying their reaction is a pleasure that kids can learn to relish.

4) If your usual volunteering in the community isn’t safe this year, find other ways to give back. Leave some food in your neighborhood’s grab and go box, or round up coats for a coat drive. So many people need so much right now, and getting our kids involved with giving is the perfect way to get into a grateful space and help your neighbors.

5) Decorate! I admit that I am NOT usually very excited to hang up holiday decorations. It is not a tradition I grew up with. This year, when we couldn’t trick or treat, I hung up some spiders and other Halloween decorations with my son, and it made coming home to our house, where we are spending more time than ever, unexpectedly cheerful. Getting kids involved in making place settings, ornaments or other holiday decorations is very engaging. If decorating isn’t your speed, you can walk, bike or drive by someone else’s over-the-top holiday decorations as a fun outing. We biked all over town checking out Halloween decorations. Even a skeptical tween or teen may secretly enjoy the neighbor’s reindeer on the roof.

6) If you are giving tech gifts (like a new phone, gaming console, or tablet) remember to plan. This present might be better as a non-surprise. Or the surprise could be a wrapped box containing a picture of the item. Don’t hand over the actual device until you can give your full attention to setting expectations and setting up the new item in a mutually agreed on fashion. Generous grandparents and others should check with primary caregivers before giving the gift of technology! If you are getting a new phone for a kid in the house, consider signing up for Phonewise. Phonewise is my self-paced course for parents of new phone users. It is on a holiday sale for the next 8 days .

Digital Wellbeing for Teens Devorah in conversation with Rosalind Wiseman

In this live conversation, parenting experts Devorah Heitner and Rosalind Wiseman will discuss how to help kids navigate ALL. THE. SCREENS. How can we help them find the balance with tech when so many other options have been taken away? How can we help them navigate friendship drama and conflict online and offline that may come up during this time? July 16, 6pm EST, 5pm CST, 4pm MST, 3pm PST 12pm HST

Moderated by Susan Borison at Your Teen Magazine.

During this webinar, you will learn…

  • Strategies to support your child’s wellbeing and balance technology
  • How to understand and empathize with the ways social media can be challenging right now
  • Skills to help young people understand and process the news cycle–for some kids this is an activating inspiring time, for others it can be overwhelming
  • How to help our kids deal with anxiety during this time.
  • Best practices for setting family agreements and routines around technology.
  • How to manage your reactions with your own digital use. How can we model thoughtful tech use and wisdom?

Bring your questions! We will open it up for Q&A at the end.

A recording will be sent out after.

By registering for the webinar, you agree to receive communications from Devorah Heitner, Cultures of Dignity and Your Teen Media.

Grab Your Spot!


Devorah Heitner

An expert on young people’s relationship with digital media and technology, Dr. Devorah Heitner is the author of Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World and founder of Raising Digital Natives. Her mission is to cultivate a culture of empathy and social/emotional literacy. Dr. Heitner’s work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, TIME magazine and Education Week. She has a Ph.D. in Media/Technology & Society from Northwestern University and has taught at DePaul and Northwestern. She is delighted to be raising her own digital native.

Rosalind Wiseman

From where we learn to where we work, Rosalind Wiseman fosters civil dialogue and inspires communities to build strength, courage and purpose. She is the co-founder of Cultures of Dignity; an organization that shifts the way communities think about our physical and emotional wellbeing by working in close partnership with the experts of those communities–young people, educators, policy makers, and business and political leaders. A multiple New York Times best selling author including Queen Bees and Wannabes that was made into the movie and musical Mean Girls, a frequent contributor to the New York Times, Washington Post and other publications and international speaker, she lives in Boulder Colorado with her husband and two sons.

Susan Borison

Susan Borison founded Your Teen Media in 2007 to help parents of teenagers find support and advice during the turbulent years of raising teenagers. As the mother of five, she knew those parenting teenagers was lonely and scary. Your Teen is the village that we lose as our kids get older. After practicing law followed by 15 years trying to figure out the parenting thing, Susan discovered the solution at Your Teen Media, where parents and experts share their hard earned secrets. Your Teen Media: The Advice You Trust. The Community You Need.

Raising A Digital Kid? Empower them to Mindfully Add Contacts

If you can empower your child build their contact list slowly and deliberately, this can help them to avoid overwhelm later on when they scroll through their contacts and don’t recognize half of them. Make sure your child  knows it’s perfectly fine to simply ignore requests from people she doesn't know or don’t want to chat with.

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