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Bullying promoted by Cutthroat Kitchen

Soap box warning!

It is a known fact I am not a fan of reality TV. Being a teacher and mother  of 2 young adults, I have seen the negative effects of such programs on the outlook and behavior of children who have grown up watching them. Children born in the late 80’s and early 90’s were raised on reality TV.  Despite all my parenting skills and lectures as a teacher, celebrities and TV shows still have a higher impact on children’s perception of acceptable behavior in the world. Reality shows are based upon putting others down, bullying, sabotage, rudeness, and countless other inappropriate behavior. Yes, I know, such antics sell and bring masses of money to these shows and advertisers. They also bring on behaviors  which cause great social problems and violence.

There was one area of Reality TV which seemed immune to the negative behaviors, cooking shows. Yes, there are time limits and surprise last-minute ingredients but over all, these shows were wholesome and fun to watch. But, then came Cutthroat Kitchen.  I’m a Georgia girl so of course I am a huge fan of Alton Brown. I love his practical creative twists on cooking. But, Cutthroat Kitchen totally blew me away.  I watched as contestants bought their wins by sabotaging others. On the flip side, I saw others overcoming adversity despite the odds. I mean really, who can make pancakes or was it muffins, without a bowl? There are some MacGyver moments happening in the kitchen there. WHY? WHY? Must the last of the wholesome reality shows move into the dark world of bullying? Why do people love watching folks plot evil plans to try to secure a win? ALTON, WHY DID YOU STOOP TO SUCH?

What shows like Cutthroat Kitchen are teaching kids and young adults is that money can buy you wins and fame. Not always but it can really put a dent in your competition. This transfers in to the watchers reality. So a kid is in a school competition, he/she has the means to sabotage another competitor to win, why not? He/she sees it happen on the Bachelor, Survivor, and plenty of other shows. A child raised in the best of situations can and often still is  influenced by TV can impact decisions above most other influences. I see it daily. I also see it in the workplace.

Alton, I am disappointed. I know it is all about ratings and in some way teaching others to be creative but I am still disappointed. My greater disappointment is how our lives have been impacted by the sudden draw to negative behaviors being glorified on TV. What happened to promoting the positive and the good?

We all know TV is rarely monitored by parents. Youngsters the age of 4 are watching shows like the Kardashians, and Orange is the New Black. They are learning to laugh at others pain and misfortune on Tosh O., Rob & Big, and Jackass. They are also trying to recreate such stunts resulting in severe injuries or worse. They are also picking up the rude and very inappropriate behaviors at a very young age resulting in serious consequences.

The lyrics, “Children will Listen,” from Into the Woods, the Broadway Play and movie, could not say it any better.

Careful the things you say
Children will listen
Careful the things you do
Children will see and learn
Children may not obey, but children will listen
Children will look to you for which way to turn
To learn what to be
Careful before you say “Listen to me”
Children will listen
Read more: Into The Woods – Children Will Listen Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Sometimes it just has to be said.


Over scheduled child

As a parent of two active children, I understand the meaning of being an over scheduled parent. It is difficult to work 40 to 50 hours a week coupled with the duties of being a mom. Add to the work and home chores are the weekly activities. In today’s society we have a driving need to make sure our children are involved in as many sports and arts activities as possible to give them the edge in their future endeavors. Sports are different when I was a kid in the 70’s. Some children practice daily for hours to become world-class athletes at the old age of 12. It is the same for children with music practicing recital pieces for hours on end mixed in with private lessons and group sessions. The pressure to be the best at the age of 8 or 9 years old did not exist some 40 years ago.

Olympians are getting younger. The need to lie about age is a constant reminder of the need to compete for extended years. The same is happening in little league. I have heard of children being put on strict diets to make weight requirements to play recreational league football and wrestling. It amazes me what parents will do in the name of sports and the ultimate glory to win it all.

I believe another term for this madness to push children has been called the “hurried child.” The constant push to excel at all cost has caused many children to lose the best years of their lives, the careless days of fun and exploration as a child. What happens when we take away childhood?

I have witnessed the result of such pressure on children. There is an increase in suicide in children/teens who feel they have failed to meet expectations. The disappointment from a parent who is constantly pushing a child beyond limits is resulting in more failures than wins can make a huge impact on the emotions of a child. Stress injuries are on the rise in children where it was rarely seen before. Some of these injuries are life altering or worse, life threatening. The absence of age appropriate interactions often affects how children deal with problems later in life. The emphasis on personal validation  wrapped around a trophy or rank can cause the inability to find happiness without competition.

Don’t take me wrong, it is good for children to be involved in competitive activities. It is very important to take part in team and group activities in moderation. More so, it is good to be able to balance school and other activities of interest. Colleges do look for future prospects who can maintain good grades while participating in a variety of activities. Success such as excelling in a sport or holding leadership positions builds character. There are those rare exceptional children who are gifted. But we must realize not every child is or can be made into a super star.

Childhood is a time to explore and not worry about the pressures of adulthood. It is a time to  test limits within the safety of supervision. A time to learn how to interact with others via unstructured but monitored gatherings. It is a time to dabble in a variety of interest  without the fear of failure. Children need lengthy down time moments.

A hurried or over scheduled child finds it difficult to handle down time. This includes the excessive gamer children who must always be hooked up to some sort of gaming system constantly. I do consider those in this category because gaming is another form of competition. Children also get wrapped up in winning via thumb-play as much as they do a highly competitive sport but without the physical training which includes fitness.  Those of you over 45 years of age will remember creating games and never having a problem finding something to do after school when you were finished with your homework. We never had excessive ball or piano practice. We had a great deal of outside play or finding fun things to do indoors. We did not need to be entertained at all, in fact we just wanted to be left alone to explore and create. We sought time to disappear to find treasures often getting in trouble for all the holes we dug in the neighbor’s yard. We tested out agility by climbing trees. We would swing on our swing set for hours. We painted masterpieces in mud on the driveway then made to hose them off. We were inventors, dreamers, and no doubt testing limits daily with bending the rules.

I urge you to allow for some unstructured time for your child. If you are the parent of a super athlete or artistically talented child who is involved in competition, please find time to allow your child to have extended breaks. Create a balance. Challenge yourself to revisit those carefree days. You might need to show your child how to build a fort out of sheets on a rainy day. How to make mud pies, win a snow ball fight or the skills in staying dry during  a water gun battle are all things children should experience.  Just make sure there is time for fun creative childhood memories.

Please share some of your best outrageous childhood adventures.

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Why your child with ADHD or learning challenges should play sports

Sports and games

Sports and games (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are the obvious reasons such as learning team work, running off excessive energy, and developing social skills. Some least expected gains from participating in sports might shock you. Did you know most high school and college programs are required to monitor grades? Due to the high demands of eligibility to play sports many schools offer afterschool tutoring programs for athletes. Coaches become very proactive to keep players’ grades in safe zones. Often coaches will spend time mentoring and providing guidance during tough academic times for struggling athletes.

Another less known benefit of participating in sports comes from spotting learning challenges by the way students respond. As a special education teacher, my husband, a coach, would talk to me about a situation observed while a student was running a play. I have stepped in to lend my area of expertise. Some of the issues found were vision perception problems, eye-hand coördination, and undiagnosed dyslexia. A playbook is not always easily read and learned by students with hidden disabilities. I have often stepped in to color code and adapt playbooks for football players.

Athletes with some visual perception problems will often shy away from fast balls coming directly towards them. Working with the Wii gaming system can help improve the eye-hand coördination as well as the shy away response. As with all gaming systems, the sports games build in speed and skill. Having a virtual ball come at your repeatedly can help develop more confidence while building reaction time and coördination. For students who have problems with foot work, the Just Dance games can help. Even Guitar Hero helps with visual processing and eye-hand coördination. The more these areas are developed the more those skills will likely transfer to the sports field.

Team sports area great for helping children understand the importance of patience, trouble shooting, and impulse control. All players must depend on each other for a win. Even though there are those that excel more than others, all members of the team are needed for a win, even the bench warmers. Those that do not play much are needed to encourage and support. Never under-estimate the power of a positive motivating team-mate when the chips are down to pick a team back up. Many a losing team have kicked back in at the last second of the game to pull out a win due to a player’s encouragement when the majority of the team had already given up.

Being a part of team has benefits no matter the player’s level of performance. A member of a group helps build self-esteem in children who struggle due to those invisible disabilities such as ADHD, ADD, and learning disabilities. On many a playing field, the disabilities are not noticed. If they are there is often a different sort of acceptance among athletes that is not found in the classroom. Some students with such challenges often are gifted in sports which acts to balance out the struggles happening in the classroom. Having a purpose will motivate athletes to seek help in their academics in hopes to be able to keep up eligibility to move on to the next level. Often colleges hire learning specialist to help with the transition from high school to college level academics. Knowing there are people willing to help and guide an athlete towards making the grades will keep the athlete from becoming depressed. Depressed students with learning and behavior challenges often seek negatives to fill the emptiness and discouragement. This is a downward spiral leading to jail or worse. In my experience as a high school coach’s wife I have seem many lives changed for the positive due to sports. I have also witnessed the downfall of those who dropped out of sports resulting in negative and harmful alternatives.

If you questions the benefits of sports for students with ADHD/ADD and learning challenges trying search the internet for professional athletes with ADHD and learning challenges. Read the hundreds of stories about how sports saved lives and built self-esteem.

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Are Wii there yet?

Mario Kart Wii - Mason's "Game Face"

Mario Kart Wii – Mason’s “Game Face” (Photo credit: Adam Melancon)

Are Wii there yet? That depends on if you are a seasoned Mario kart or a Hot Wheels racer. Then again, there are plenty of adventures to be found on today’s gaming systems that take you virtually any place you want to be or if like me, I end up in most I do not.  It is a good thing it is far easier to drive my car than a Mario kart.

With so many electronic options games can be played anywhere. I was a non-gamer for years though I supported the use of them in my classroom and at home, with limits. I was amazed when the Wii came on the scene. One game caught my attention, and my daughter’s as well. She played the one where you sit on the game board as still as possible to keep a flame lit. She learned to focus and gain some control over her ADHD using this game. I have enjoyed using the draw pad and the Wii exercise programs though I am not happy with the fact the avatar matches me so closely. Cruel joke, Wii!!

Gaming can help with ADHD and other learing disabilities. The Wii encourages students with physical disabilities to expand their range of motion and feel more capable moving about in a virtual world. I urge that you stray away from the violent games and search out those with more intellectual challenges as well as physical activities where killing is not the focus.

Like chocolate and other addictive substances  gaming can bring about the same obsessive behavior. It can also interfere with social skills if the virtual world is the only one your child socialize within. Please limit gaming to just a few hours. If it gets out of control grades will fall and with adults, marriages can end  and jobs lost when the obsessions to play becomes nearly nonstop. Do not allow it to get out of hand early on.

Despite the issues of obsessive behavior, gaming has great benefits for those with challenges and disabilities.

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