The Teacher is Talking: FALL Series–Bullying

By Leslie Lindsay

Yesterday, I wrote this beautiful post on the prevalence of bullying.  Okay, perhaps the word, ‘beautiful’ is so wrong when it comes to this terrible social aggression we’ve all come to think of as a ‘normal’ part of growing up.

Right before I was about to hit, “publish,” the whole plonking thing when bye-bye.  Since I’m kind of a superstitious person, I wonder if the original post wasn’t meant to go out?  Or, perhaps it’s because I ran across something better in the meantime?  Ah yes…the muse is at play here.

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I came across something better.  A book.  A literary book.  THE SALT GOD’s DAUGHTER eloquently and articulately.  In fact, I think you’ll glean so much more if I share an excerpt or two from the book.  But first, you must know a couple of things:

1)  The character I am discussing is a 12 year old girl who was born with two feet (not so uncommon, eh?) but one of those feet has been affected by syndactylysm, a rare condition in which the toes do not separate in utero.  She has a webbed frog-like foot.  (Hint: bullies make fun of the different or known).

2)  This is fiction, but it’s so relatable.

“Julio was trying to get my attention.  I could feel his eyes searing my back, cutting into me, causing me to shift in my seat and finally to turn back and glance at him.  I lifted my chin.  This time, he gave me the finger.  I gave it back to him again.” 

“Raise above Naida,” my mother always said.  But I was not that  godly.  Not a saint, and certainly not enough of a wallflower, though I wished to be.  Lift off like a huge white bird…

…”She’d gone after me for no reason, so I didn’t know why I was so willing to be her friend.  She first learned the secret of my foot when I was six and had authored a series of stories of my hoof and claw, had pretended to like me in order to get my phone number.  Now she was almost as tall as our teachers…her authoritative presence had everyone afraid of her…mostly her meanness.” 

…”The bully drills.  Those torturous things.  There were instructions to walk away, as if away were a better place.  To ignore a bully.  Not give a bully attention….it gets better, they say.  It never did.  I walked away.  It didn’t help.  My bullies followed m.  My teachers, they could not help at all.  Tell on bullies made things worse.  The bullies would come back angrier, or perhaps satisfied they were in trouble.”

Oh!!  Doesn’t your heart just break for young Naida?  Mine, too.

The best suggestions I’ve heard on combating bullies is from Judy S. Freedman and her book, EASING THE TEASING.  Product Details

  • Agree with the bully.  “You’re right.  I do have a frog foot.  Big deal.”  (Or, “You’re right…I do have a big nose/glasses/freckles).  This stops the bully cold.
  • Flatter the bully with kindness.  “Yep.  Math’s hard for me now.  You’re good at it, maybe you can give me some pointers?” 
  • Tell the bully you appreciate being noticed.  “Thanks for noticing…there are lots of kids in this class/school and you chose to pay attention to me.  Cool.” 

Try discussing this scenario with you child(ren).  Ask for their thoughts on bullying in general.  You may be surprised. 

Please, if you have any major concerns about a child being bullied, speak up.  Bullies are real.  They hurt.  They can even kill. 

[iamge sources: retrieved 10/30/13]

The Teacher is Talking: FALL Series–Identifying & Managing Feelings

By Leslie Lindsay

When you were in school, you learned the basics: math, science, reading…but what about those pesky feelings that we also have to contend with in our everyday life?  Maybe math makes us feel annoyed.  Maybe reading is fascintating…and perhaps science is super. 

Wouldn’t it have been wonderful if you were also taught about the varied feelings that shoot through your body and take up temporary–and sometimes permanent–residence in your brain? 

Our school district has such a person.  About once a week, the school social worker swings into my daughters’ classrooms and talks about feelings.  Now if you are thinking this is all too touchy-feely, rainbows and unicorns, then I have a little news for you.  Research shows that kids who are intune with their feelings (and especially postive ones) actually do better in school. 

Start with the basics.  Ask your child(ren) if they know the five basic feelings:

  • Happy
  • Suprised
  • Angry/mad
  • Sad
  • Scared


  • Ask your child to show these feelings with simple facial expressions.  Now, have them act ’em out.  You can do a little role-reversal if you want; my kids find it hilarious when dad and I exaggerate our feelings to prove a point.
  • Give some scenarios and ask your children what feeling is most likely to be felt (there is no right or wrong answer–everyone reacts differently–but there may be some overlap).  Here are some examples:   1)  Some takes the Legos you were using 2)  You don’t like math homework but you have a test tomorrow 3) All of the lights suddenly turn off in your classroom 4) There’s been a change–instead of art/PE (a favored activity), your class now has to do some standardized testing 5)  Your little sister/brother brought home a better grade/report card than you did


  • How are thoughts and feelings connected to your feelings?
  • How does your body feel when you feel________?  (Happy, sad, scared, mad, surprised)
  • What is your brain saying when you feel _______? (Happy, sad, scared, mad, suprised)
  • Does everyone show feelings in the same way?
  • Can you name some ways people show they are happy?


Sometimes we all have feelings that are hard to control.  What might you do to tame those feelings?  I love what my 1st grader brought home the week before last.  THE ZONES of REGULATION (


So, the idea here is when one is in the blue zone, she feels hurt, exhuasted, bored, tired.  It’s time for a rest. 

When one is in the green zone, she is calm, good, proud, ready to learn, etc.  Good to GO.

Slow or yellow means…”I’m overwhlemed/frustrated/anxious/scared.  It’s time to slow down.”

Finally, RED…”I’m ready to blow…watch out!!”  (Aggressive, mean, mad, yelling, terrified) STOP!!! 


kidsincarThe framework is very easy to follow and understand, even for young kids who are familiar with the red-green-yellow traffic lights.  Hey–try talking about this idea in the car and then see if you can transfer the ideas to home. 

For more information on kids, feelings, and academic progress, see: 

Apraxia Monday: Excerpt from Australian “Apraxia Mum”

By Leslie Lindsay

Via Leah Boonthanomon Oct 11, 2013

It’s amazing to me just how small the world really can be when our children are the common demoninator.  Can you picture it:  Tiny voices of little pip-squeaks across the globe of every color uniting for the same cause?  Yes, it’s childhood apraxia.  So, when Leah, a mum in Austrailia reached out to me about her article on CAS, I was completely touched.  A unifying struggle, parent to parent and child to child.  Here’s an excerpt from her article, When Words Will Not Come: A journey of Verbal Apraxia by Leah Boonthamnon. 

“At the beach the other day I heard my three-year-old daughter Indica wail for another movie, when what she actually wanted was a banana smoothie.

Another time at the playground I heard my five-year-old son Serentai ask me to go on the slide, when actually he was eagerly suggesting, “You count, I’ll hide.” His happy face deflated when instead of closing my eyes, I dragged him to the top of the slippery dip for a stacks-on downward ride.

Misunderstandings like these are commonplace in our family, but not because there’s anything wrong with me or my husband Steve’s hearing.

Our kids have verbal dyspraxia (commonly referred to as childhood apraxia of speech (CAS) in the United States)–a neurologically based, motor planning developmental speech sound disorder which is most prevalent amongst young children. Their brain knows what they want to say, yet struggles to tell their mouth how to execute it; praxis means planned movement.

Instead their searching, groping tongue and unsure lips produce adulterated sounds that result in many unintelligible words.

Beginning sounds are easily sabotaged, and middle and ends commonly omitted. For many years milk was “glup” and apple was “gappu” to our son; not to mention the “buh-fie” or butterfly that is still “webbo”—yellow—or our daughter.

There’s no predictability; their errors are ever-present and inconsistent.

Verbal dyspraxia is unique from typical speech delays in that the child easily understands all that is said and knows how they want to respond, only to be thwarted by their oral motor skills. This also means they often tend toward short two-word demands such as “drink please,” over longer structured sentences.

Dyspraxia presents itself from birth and is suspected to be genetic—although Steve, a surfer and successful marketer, can speak underwater and I too can be vicariously verbose.

How then did we create two beautiful children for whom words will not easily come?

Serentai’s first word, naana, was uttered at 15 months old in the fruit and vegetable section of a supermarket as she was strapped to my back in an ErgoBaby, but it has yet progressed to ‘banana,’despite devouring them daily for breakfast. Other favored staples—cucumber, vegemite and avocado—similarly elude him.

This difficulty with multi-syllabic words is quintessentially dyspraxic; though he struggles less to summon his beloved indargo—a.k.a. Ninjago—who loyally fights every battle beside him.

When Serentai was 18 months old, we hoped the solution to his missed verbal milestones might be as simple as treating his moderate tongue-tie—a.k.a. ankyloglossia—given the tongue is the most important articulator of speech. While expensive (though in retrospect roughly equivalent to one term of private speech therapy), his frenotomy was performed using laser dentistry because it didn’t require general anesthetic or stitches. It was performed with me nursing him in a suburban dental chair, which made little difference.

Post-surgery our son was soothed with lemonade icy poles as a sugary placebo for his ailing speech. Afterwards I took him to Macquarie University’s audiology clinic to listen for aliens dropping marbles and puppets popping up from the control room, where he passed with flying colors.

To continue reading, please head over to:

Thank you, Leah for this thoughtfully written article.

Leah Boonthanom is an Australian writer who covers a diverse range of genres. Mum to two young kids, she is currently focused on writing memoirs, many of which explore what motherhood and being adopted mean to her. Leah works for Australian Doctors International and has previously worked for the international charity ActionAid in Asia and National Geographic magazine in Washington DC. Despite having a MA in Non-Fiction Writing from Johns Hopkins University, she’s recently started dabbling in writing children’s fiction. In her spare time, Leah loves practicing yoga.

The Teacher is Talking: FALL Series #2: Making Friends

By Leslie Lindsay

Long ago, a wise person once told me, “When you arlook back on your life, and you think of all of the relationships and people who have come and gone, you’ll see that the number of true friends will fit on the fingers of only one hand.”

I looked at my right hand, flipping it over so I could see the ridges and swirls of my palm. It was pink and youthful. I counted my friends, wiggling each finger as I did. More than five. I looked back at this person, my eyes full of questions. At the time, I was young–about to graduate college. My whole life lay out ahead of me. How could it be possible to only have five individuals to name as ‘true friends’ as I became an old lady; there was a lot of living left between now and then.

And how it is that we teach this lesson to our youth? Perhaps, we don’t. Maybe it’s intended to be one of those mysterious life’s lessons that we learn along the way? In the meantime, your child will undoubtably have friends and want more of them. In fact, at this particular stage my daughter is in, she sees popularity as a virtue.

Here are some ideas to get the discussion going at home:

  • Why is it important to meet new people?
  • What kinds of people would you want to be friends with? (list out some qualities you look for–and identify some not-so-good qualities, too; those are ones you’ll want to avoid)
  • How will you know when/if new people meet your qualifications?
  • What information might you want to know about someone new? (where do you go to school? Grade? Age–only for kids? where do you live? What do you like to do for fun? What games do you like? Sports? Do you have a big family/brothers or sisters?)
  • How can you let others know you are interested in them as they share information?

Test your knowledge by role-playing at home:

My kids love when we do this kind of thing. My 6 year old and 8 year old daughters often try role reversals with me and my hubby. We’ll be the kid, they’ll be themselves (or sometimes a parent/teacher). We’ll try to make friends with each other by practicing the skills we learned or discussed as a family. Make it fun! Be silly!

  • Choose the right words for your introduction. “Hi! My name is ________. Nice to meet you!”
  • Choose the right time. Is the person busy? Did you make eye contact first ? Offer a smile?
  • Give good non-verbal clues (happy eyes, friendly posture, a smile). This helps others see you are friendly and offers a good first impression
Pair of HandsFollow-up with a discussion about why friends are so important. Talk about good friendships beingt he result of quality and not quantity (back to my daughter’s notion that popularity is all the rage). You may even want to extend the activity by tracing your child’s hand and having him list the friends he’d call in bind by writing those names along the fingers of the traced hand.As for who that wise person was…my grandmother.

Next Week on THE TEACHER IS TALKING:  Identifying and Expressing Feelings.  Next new blog, Monday, October 21st is Apraxia Monday!

The Teacher is Talking: FALL series-Self-esteem & More

By Leslie Lindsay

Here’s my first attempt to merge apraxia with other parenting/child-rearing/educational and child psych skills.  The Teacher is Talking will appear here as well as my other blog, for a few weeks and then will exclusively appear here. Enjoy!

Welcome to a NEW fall series on THE TEACHER IS TALKING!

This is an 8-week “workshop” covering a huge amount of social skills tips and ideas our kiddos may struggle with. We’re starting with my personal favorite–SELF-ESTEEM because I believe it underlies all of the other skills we’ll be covering.

Eight-year old Kate identified the word self-esteem, as “Self as teem.” She probably had never seen it in print, only heard others pass the trendy term around, yet I was particularly struck by how she transferred the information.

SELF AS TEAM. Love that!!

It’s kind of like saying, responsibilty is your “ability to respond,” or history is “his story.”

So you take this information and you think, “Yeah, I am sort of like a team that works together to create a whole, interesting, happy, proactive person.”

As a parent, how do you teach this to your child? Waves of recent researach are crashing into what we thought we previously knew: parental/teacher praise will increase a child’s self-esteem. Well, not so fast. In fact, overpraising a child can increase a child’s feeling of entitlement; they may simply stop trying.

There’s a fine line between telling your child, “You’re wonderful…you can do anything,” and giving them a healthy dose of confidence.

Try instead, of complimenting a particular skill or attribute. “You are so artistic. I like the way you combined colors here.” Then point to what you like.

My kids often bring art work to me (or a story, or even handwriting practice from my 1st grader) and will ask, “So what’s your favorite part? Which “H” do you like the best?” It’s not about complimenting the whole, but about finding one part of that scribbly drawing I can comment positively about.

But there is time for constructive criticism, too. We get the lower-case letter d confused with b. Sometimes, I have to flat-out say, “We need to work on this. I think you could be a little confused.”

Remember, self-esteem works as an inner guage for kiddos. They like to see how they are valued and accepted by others, including family, friends, teachers, classmates. We need social acceptance, period. Beginning around age 8, kids self-esteem works as a kind of rollercoaster as peers see them as likeable, attractive, smart, athletic, etc.

According to experts, children absolutely need to feel valued, accepted, and loved…this will ultimately lead to high self-esteem; a can-do attitude.

I’d like to leave you with this reminder, praise success in a skill-based model:

“Wow! I love seeing how hard you working in soccer (fill-in blank for your child’s interest). Some of the other teams will be better, but you’re really giving it your all and that’s what I like about YOU!”

[image source: 10.08.13,,]

…that’s it! Class dismissed.

Apraxia Monday: When Apraxia & Other A-words Collide

By Leslie Lindsay So you’ve browsed the bookshelves at your favorite bookstore and you spy every disorder/disease/parenting woe known to man that begins with the letter A. 

Anxiey…asthma…autism…aspergers…allergies…AD/HD…but where, oh where is the book on apraxia? 

Okay–we’ve got that covered, too. 

So, what happens when one of those A-words is also combined with childhood apraxia of speech (CAS)? 

Chaos?  Confusion, and delay?  Maybe.  But what may crank out of the Play-Doh Fun Factory may be quite the creation.  I don’t mean to take a careless apprach to this.  It’s all very real.  And serious. But that doesn’t mean one should take it to heart or be overly serious about the predicament.

A writer friend of mine who is also in the throwes of raising a son with Down syndrome said it best eighteen years ago when her son lay swaddled in her arms, “Please, if I am to raise a son with Down syndrome, make him be happy and spunky.” 

Her wish came true.  Nick is a jokester.  He pulls fire alarms for fun (much to the dismay of his teachers, parents, and fire deparment), loves kitties, Sprite, and Taco Bell.  When he sees someone he likes, he lifts his shirt, giving them a naked belly, akin to when your dog rolls over, limbs in the air begging for a tummy rub. 

Nick also has apraxia.  And autism.  And perhaps a few other things I don’t know about.  But I do know this: his parents are firecely involved. 

As are you.

Here’s the bottom line:  Oftentimes, apraxia (CAS) is a package-deal.  You may find that your child also has an additional neurological concern like autism, or ADHD, or anxiety.  The jury is still out as why that happens, but it could be a result of “mismatched” wiring. 

 Sometimes, however CAS is packaged in a single blister-pack; frustratingly difficult to open and maybe just as hard to operate.  So, you take your child to a SLP and have him or her help you pry open the package, insert batteries, or wind up in the form of practice drills, or Kaufman cards.  And then you on your merry ol’ way. 

But sometimes you learn that your child is blessed with an extra-dose of something in that blister pack.  It’s kind of like finding a super-agent decoder ring in the bottom of a Cracker-Jack box.  “Oh,” you say.  “How do I get this thing to work?”  And so you line the decoder ring up over the mystery letters and see if you can decipher what it all means.  You may need to take you child to another professioanl…a developmental pediatrician, a clinical psychologist, a reading specialist, a pediatric neurologist.

They throw around some words, anxiety, autism, AD/HD…you cringe because you never wanted to hear that.  It happened to our family about three years ago when we learned Kate also has AH/HD. 

In the intervening years, I’ve grown accustomed to the diagnosis–both of them.  It is a set-back?  Not exactly.  But it is what makes Kate an artistic,creative, inventive, smart, silly, and fun girl. 

And now I look for other A-words to supplement my vocabulary. 

Admirable…                                                        Attitude….

                                                               Amazing…                                                                        Amusement…                                                                       ….Advocacy

October is an important month for many reasons.  May God bless those woman who are fighting breast cancer, but also those who are suffering from a mental illness (it’s mental illness awareness week October 7-11), AD/HD Awareness Month, National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, Dyslexia Awareness Month, among others.

And the WINNER is…

By Leslie Lindsay

Lots of great interest in the MagneTalk board by Super-Duper.  Thanks to all of you who shared via social media and then let me know…it’s all about spreading the word on apraxia.   ALICIA N.  !!!!

This concludes our Blue Ribbon Review Series.  But don’t worry…we’ll have some more give-a-ways in the near future. 

Also, we’re in the process of merging THE TEACHER IS TALKING content from to this site.  If you’re a fan of those educational, parenting, and child psych topics, you’ll find them in both places for the next few weeks and then exclusively here. 

Coming up on ApRaXiA mOnDaY:  October is Autism and AD/HD Awareness month…and how do those relate to CAS? 


[image source:]