Friday, July 27, 2012

Words to live by...

A popular nursery rhyme goes like this... "Sticks and stones may break my 
bones, but words will never hurt me". Even though this rhyme is said to 
inspire strength and resistance in children who are being bullied and 
harassed, but the truth is, words do hurt... Badly!
One book on this topic that I can highly recommend is by James 
Garbarino, Ph.D. and Ellen deLara, Ph.D., titled: "And Words Can 
Hurt Forever" (link).  I have met Mr. Garbarino personally and I 
have a lot of respect and admiration for his research. 

Not only does the book highlight the scaring effects of words (which 
is related to emotional bullying) and the warning signs to look for, but
it also presents parent recommendations and pointers on how to protect
our adolescents from these effects. The book is very well researched but
it is important to note that it is based on the American population, so for
my local readers there are some parts that may not be applicable in
Kuwait or relatable. Bullying, however, is universal, and the dangers
are growing at an alarming rate due to children's exposure and access to 
violence (among other social, economic and environmental factors). 

I have written about bullying several times in this blog, do feel free to review 
the following posts:

I leave you with some words to live by...

Hit & Ruin

A study in the August 2012 issue of Pediatrics journal concluded:

Harsh physical punishment in the absence of child maltreatment is associated with mood disorders, anxiety disorders, substance abuse/dependence, and personality disorders in a general population sample. These findings inform the ongoing debate around the use of physical punishment and provide evidence that harsh physical punishment independent of child maltreatment is related to mental disorders.

Another study titled, "Physical Punishment and Childhood Aggression: The Role of Gender and Gene-Environment Interplay," recently published in the journal Aggressive Behavior concluded:

"... that genetic factors affect which children display aggressive behavior, but we also found that genetic factors matter more when children were exposed to spanking as a disciplinary tactic," said Barnes, an assistant professor of criminology in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences.

In this study, the link between environmental factors (in this particular study being spanking) and genetic predisposition to aggressive behavior was only found in boys.

I ask all of you... Is this worth it?

For more information about the effects of corporal punishment, please read this post.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Ramadan, not drama-dan

During Ramadan, our whole schedule changes.  The timings, food habits, work schedules and let us not forget the increased family obligations that come with it.  This is NOT easy when you have children.  It often results in increased tension and anxiety.  Some parents do not change their children's schedule at all, which can be ideal, but it is quiet unrealistic when you have children of different ages.

So,what is the solution? Is there a perfect schedule that I magically came up with?  Unfortunately not!  But there is some good news... I do have some tips:)

  • It is important to make sure your children have enough GOOD QUALITY sleep.  It may be easier for some to let the children stay as late as they want as they can sleep in all day since it is summer vacation.  This is NOT healthy.  There needs to be enough hours in the day where children see sunshine, and sleep when it is dark... Simple enough right? sleep when it is dark and wake up when there is sun outside.  Ideally, we all (especially children) should be asleep between the hours of 10pm-12pm.  I will look for the research that supports this statement soon.

  • It is O.K. to have some sweets.  As you know, I am not a big fan of elimination diets (where you completely stop your child from eating a specific thing) UNLESS, there is an allergic or medical reason for it. Provide alternatives and healthy options when possible, and put a limit.  Same with fried food, but I honestly think there is no need for fried at all since you have so many yummy alternatives!

  • Find time to be with your children.  As your free time is challenged this Ramadan, a little bit of pre-planning is in order.  Ramadan is a time for family, so why not think of group activities that you could do together.  This can help you with the first tip, as you can plan a nice night-time activity as a pre-sleep routine.  You could also have an activity right after futoor/iftar since there is usually a period of relaxation.  One suggestion with older children is playing trivia or board games.

  • Organize activities for your children during the day (at home or outside).  This will ensure less phone calls to you during work, and less agitated attention-seeking behavior when you are home.  It also ensures that your children are awake during the day, and tired at an acceptable hour by night.

  • Lead by example.  This is always the best tip and applies to ALL of the above.

These are my tips for tonight, I will keep them coming as the month progresses...

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ramadan Greetings!

   مبارك عليكم الشهر

Voice for Success - Zaina Al Zabin

I am finally sharing with you a video that has been a work in progress for the past couple of months.  The aim for making the video is to spread awareness about the needs of our children, and to get the message that policy change HAS to happen in order for our children to get the rights they deserve.  I am humbled and honored that I have been chosen by the Voice for Success program (see details below).  They have done a wonderful job! I do hope that you enjoy it... 

Voice for Success is a program initiated by en.v in collaboration with the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) to promote Kuwaiti civil society by giving greater visibility to local social activists.

To participate in our program, email us at or visit

This project is funded through the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, Office of the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI). MEPI is a unique program designed to engage directly with and invest in the peoples of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). MEPI works to create vibrant partnerships with citizens to foster the development of pluralistic, participatory, and prosperous societies throughout the MENA region. MEPI partners with local, regional and international non-governmental organizations, the private sector, academic institutions, and governments. More information about MEPI can be found at:

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Mean Girls...

Bullying... A topic we frequently talk about her at PTL.  Here is a great way to talk about this topic with your children.  Share this new song by Rachel Crow with your daughter this summer, and ask her about school and friendships.  As a parent, you could help not only in teaching your daughter about assertiveness and protecting herself, but it is very important to teach her about empathy.
Let us, one by one, teach our children to protect themselves and others, and not be bystanders allowing the bullies to continue tormenting others... Enjoy the song!