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Mary Mazzoni
Did you know that the Paralympics Games are making headlines in London and are being featured on Prime Time TV in many countries.

TV coverage of the Games is limited in the US - but you and your family can watch wonderful video of the Paralympics at http://www.youtube.com/user/ParalympicSportTV

You can also check out the schedule of events and watch events live at http://www.paralympic.org/

Frankly - I almost never watch television. But I love watching the Paralympics!

Have you and your family been following the Games?
Tara Kennedy-Kline
Liar, thief, bully, smart mouth, recluse, rebel...labels parents never want to hear attached to their children, yet chances are, it’s the parents themselves who’ve created them.

These “labels” are more accurately known as “behaviors”, and human behaviors stem from emotions. In other words, “The way we FEEL determines how we ACT”.

Since children are human...it stands to reason that their actions and behaviors stem from their emotions and how they feel as well.

If your child is acting out in a way that is undesirable or negative, chances are, they are feeling bad, scared, angry or frustrated about something (or many things) in their life...since they don’t have the same options as adults in similar situations, they act out or lash out to get their feelings out.

For example: If you are a parent, you probably have another adult person in your life. If that person is disrespectful, hurtful, angry or even physically violent toward you...you have options. You can tell them off, you can fight with them, you can have an adult conversation with them, you can choose to not be in relationship with them and/or you can leave. Our children have NONE of those options...

Now, can you imagine the anger and frustration you would feel if the person you lived with had total control over you? What you ate, when you slept, who you were friends with, what you wore, how you were allowed to talk and what you were allowed to do...ALL THE TIME!!! And if you dared to disagree or argue or not comply, you would be punished or disciplined...Can you imagine if that person were allowed to yell at you, insult you, embarrass you or even hit you when you did something they felt was wrong or inappropriate?

How would you react to that person? What would your relationship look like with him or her? Would you trust them? Would you lie? Would you hide mistakes? Would you refuse to speak to them or choose to speak to them with rudeness? Would you sneak the things you wanted? Would you fight back...or fight with others? Would you shut down? Would you run away?

These are all normal reactions that as adults we can see ourselves doing...but in children, we label those reactions as “issues” and we look to treat, medicate or discipline them.
I see this behavior as treating the symptom instead of the disease. If the cause of the pain in our leg is diabetes...do we take asprin for the pain, or do we treat the diabetes?

I’m not suggesting for a moment that children be allowed to roam free and have no guidance or accountability...but I am suggesting that when we engage in correcting our children, we should also be thinking about how we would react as an adult if we were being handled in the same way. If emotions truly are the basis of our behaviors...think about it; what emotions are you building in your child and what behaviors are you causing?

Seek first to understand...then guide in the direction of your dreams.
Tara Kennedy-Kline
I am rather active on many blog sites, parenting sites and magazines...and the topics are pretty much the same no matter where you go. Spanking, Piercing, Discipline, Homework, Feelings, Feedings, Manners, Who's really in charge and who does it the best...

But what I realized today is that nearly all the people who most actively participate in those conversations are either degreed or self proclaimed "experts" who are basically doing little more than telling each other their philosophies and what makes THEIR opinion (or research or diagnoses or program) right! I'm starting to wonder who is really benefiting from all these studies and research and parenting programs...I very rarely hear from a real world parent...and almost never hear from one who is ASKING for help!

I'm starting to believe that the only people who give a crap about how parents are raising their kids are the "experts" who think they know how everyone should be raising their kids! Because while all of those experts are spending their time battling beliefs and studying research & statistics to get their "parenting PhD"...the rest of us are spending our time parenting our kids.
Tara Kennedy-Kline
As I sat at the table during my son's IEP team meeting...I realized something.
(Shocking, I know!)
Hearing my son constantly referred to as "Special Needs" really just kind of irritates me!

They kept saying things like "Well I know that behavior is a result of his "special needs." and "That teacher is better suited to him because she is trained in working with kids with "special needs" and "We understand that tests and homework may have to be handled differently because he has "special needs"...

But all I kept hearing in my head was..."Don't we ALL have "special needs"?"

I know I do! And I know my husband does. And I know my best friend does, and her husband does, and the neighbor’s kids do...and my oldest son does...But not in an IEP way or autism support way or even a medicate able way. Just in our own "unique" way.

For example: One of my "special needs" is; I have to be asked if I have the time in my schedule before I will be willing to do a "favor" for someone.

I also have a "special need" to be told when people are leaving or retiring for the night...if you leave me without telling me, I will flip out. (So what! It's MY special need!)

My husband's "special need" is he wants us to have chores done by the time he gets home and/or without him having to ask. He also has a "special need" that we talk to him before loaning out anything (even if it's someone else's to loan out...like MY car or Max's airsoft equipment) He "needs" to be in control of our family’s belongings and whereabouts.

These things may seem trivial and even a bit odd...but they are the "special needs" which are unique to us. And when these “special needs” are met, it just makes our lives easier and happier. It's about knowing and understanding the people around us in order to keep peace and harmony more than it is about diagnosing and labeling a person based on the number or severity of the needs they have.

Personally, I think ALL kids should be treated as though they have "special needs"! All kids should go through an "evaluation" process with their teachers to find out what will help them to have a happier, easier more successful experience in school (and at home too for that matter)! What the heck? Why not? Isn't it our goal to raise happy, successful children?

So if all it will take is a bit of communicating, a bit of listening, a bit of understanding and then a bit of specializing or customizing to make every child a happy, successful student and every family a happy, healthy, successful team...then I say label every one of us "Special Needs" or just scrap that term completely and just call us all “Unique”!!!
Tara Kennedy-Kline
I walked my kid up to the bus in my jammies today. Yes...complete with my robe and my fuzzy slippers! ALLLLLL the way up to the bus, right past 3 houses and a guy walking his dog.

SO WHAT?! That guy walking his dog was wearing the same flannel shirt and overalls he wears EVERY FRICKIN DAY and I don't judge him...but he sure felt compelled to comment on my inability to "get dressed" before I had to run out the door now didn't he?

Yeah well, you know what else I screwed up?! I didn't brush my kid's hair either! At least he HAS hair! SO, THERE!

But here's the point...who was I hurting? Who suffered or was burdened by my "jammie fiasco"? Truly?...No one. Other than exposing some neighbors to a down-home "people of Wal-Mart" experience...nothing bad happened.

So why do people feel it necessary to open their mouths? When did we make it so acceptable for the imperfect people of the world to judge the other people around them? Why do we feel the need to put ourselves on such a high horse and determine what is acceptable and what is not for other people who don't even effect us?

I understand that individuals have their own unique ideas and beliefs about how the world should look. And I get that in your perfect opinion, jammies should not be worn outside the home. And in a mature non judgmental conversation, I may even agree with you (if we are talking about public places like stores and restaurants) But when you attack me by telling me what I am doing wrong (in your opinion) and then give me examples of how you do it "right" (which is totally offensive to me if I didn't ask for your advice.) You are only going to succeed at pushing me farther and farther away from you and your beliefs...and eventually, you may even drive me to defend myself against you and take the opposite point of view. Is that really the best way to reach your goal?

Humans have gone far beyond simply expressing an opinion of others...we have crossed over into the damaging realm of micro-judging. It's like micro-managing, but with harsher consequences. And it needs to be stopped!

If I am wearing something, doing something, saying something or being something that you don't like or agree with and you feel the overwhelming need to save me from my misguided ness...please do me a favor; Stop, take a deep breath and ask yourself these questions:

Is someone suffering?
Is permanent damage being done?
Did anyone ask for my help or opinion?
Is this going to affect me or my life AT ALL?

And if all 4 answers are No, then do me a favor...bite your tongue and go be yourself!
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