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Posts tagged ‘teaching’

Why Are Adult Themes In Kids Shows?

Why Are Adult Themes In Kids Shows?TV as Teacher

I am not sure how to begin this post. I know the words I am about to write will probably be misinterpreted by some and judged harshly by others but it is the way I feel at this moment. My daughter is 9, my son is 6. Tonight while watching a cartoon they have watched several times before. The story line went in a different direction. The two young characters in the show began talking about how one of the character’s Dad’s were going to have a baby. I thought I misheard it but I hadn’t they said Dad’s, as in 2 fathers.

My daughter promptly changed the channel. My son, not understanding the reference, asked her why she turned the channel. She got upset and left the room. I inquired with my daughter if she understood what they meant by two Dad’s. She said “yes, it meant boy’s liking boy’s…they were gay.” She said the show made was strange. I asked her to explain and she added it wasn’t something that she could explain. Sensing her confusion, I sat her down and tried to probe her further.

When did she first hear about someone who was gay? She said it was in a book or a show somewhere. Since I was unclear how the idea was presented I explained to her gay people are not bad, it is just part of who they are. It is nothing to feel weird about. They are just another form of a family. She seemed to understand the concept of “gay” better when I put it this way.

I recognize for a child who has knowns little to nothing about sexuality yet, the concept of being homosexual can be confusing. Most kids her age are not mature enough to understand what being “gay” means.  That is why I wish TV had not been the vehicle to introduce it.

Sex and violence in a kids movie?

Although the TV show did bring up something I would have addressed with her at some point anyway. I had to wonder why adult themes seem to be seeping into children’s shows? This is not the first time references to sex, sexuality and violence were blatantly broadcast in something made for children. Over Halloween, we attempted to watch the movie “Frankinweenie” and the boy in the movie actually says “sex and violence” within the first 5 minutes.

I know a lot was made about the “gay moment” in Beauty and the Beast but my concern is (from what I hear) the adult themes spread all over the movie. Far more overt then the “gay moment,” there are sexual innuendo and heightened violent scenes. Now I am not saying the makers of the film need to change their movie. By why not change the rating? Movies have gone from PG to PG-13 for less.

Skewing the demographics

Why does Hollywood seem to be hell bent on teaching children about adult themes before they are ready? Over the past year TV and movies have been much more lenient with what is allowed in a PG rating. Children’s channels previously free from overt violence and sexuality, like the Disney channel, are putting out adult like content such as their new show, Andi Mack, in which a teen girl discovers her older sister is actually her mother.

Why is this on a channel watched primarily by 2 to 11 year olds? Wouldn’t a show like this be more appropriate on a channel like Freeform or even Disney XD, which is geared towards teens?

From what I have read the reason for these adult theme children’s shows is the idea that children today are growing up faster and are looking for more “grown-up” storylines.” Sorry, I don’t by it. I think there is a  pressure on kids to grow up too fast and a lot of it comes from Hollywood and the media. These themes are being introduced more frequently in areas previously thought to be “kid-friendly.”

Not ready for prime time

They are coming up in shows and movies well before these kids are full equip, mentally and emotionally to

When I saw this graphic I was shocked. Had no idea something so violent was rated for a 14 year old viewer.

understand concepts like extreme-violence, teen pregnancy and sexual orientation. How could a 5-year-old be asking for shows with more adult theme like teen pregnancy when they don’t understand (and shouldn’t yet) what sex is?

The other prevailing school of thought is, we are only exposing children to something they will learn about anyway? So eventually they will learn about concepts like sexual abuse, drug addiction and murder. Should we be showing those images to a 5-year-old as well?

Some reading this post will think I am being overprotective, restrictive and even a bit of a homophobic. But I have talked to gay and straight parents about this. Many agree it is not so much the topic as the timing it is being introduced. For a teen questioning their sexuality or a 15-year old who is exposed to teen pregnancy, these are appropriate themes for a more mature time of life.

According to Dr. Meg Meeker, pediatrician and author,  “Talking to a child about sex when he is too young can be traumatizing, so parents must use their instincts and best judgement to take the cues and know when to begin talking to their kids about sex, letting them take the lead in their own time.”

TV time became a habit

I will admit this exposure by TV is also something of my own making. Most moms have done what I have. Put on Dora the Explorer for an hour when they were toddlers, so you can take a shower. But that has translated into TV become a daily part of family life.

Although, I am not happy about the adult themes popping up in shows made for young children. Family time is not about watching TV. It is about spending time together. I gave the content control over when I did this and let TV be the teacher. TV’s reference to a gay couple should not have been what prompted a discussion into differing family units and lifestyles. It should have been a more positively framed talk at a more mature, appropriate time.

By sitting them in front of the TV while I was on the computer or doing dishes, I created a habit. My responsibility and duty to preserve their innocence was given to Disney Channels and Cartoon Network producers. Blindly trusting them to keep the content safe and age-appropriate.

It is my job, not TV’s

In truth, they own me nothing. They do not know my kids and what they are ready for. Their goal is to produce shows they think people will watch and advertisers will buy into. It is my job to make sure the content is right for my children.

Still I don’t understand what the big push is to turn children into mini adults.  I know at some point I will have to have “the talk,” with my kids. When we I don’t want them to feel like they can not share their feelings with me because of something they saw on TV.

So for now, I will let my kids stay innocent just a while longer.  Adult life will come soon enough, quicker if Hollywood has their way. And when they are ready, and have questions. My kids can look to me to explain things…instead of learning it from TV.


Stop it…Just stop it now… there are kids watching

Are we teaching kids how to be intolerant?How do we teach your children it is ok to disagree?

How do we teach our children you can disagree and still be respectful? How do we teach our children people who are different from us are not bad, stupid or ignorant? How do we teach our children these lessons when adults are struggling to do this.


The nastiness is plastered all over social media. News and TV have made what should be civil discourse into a circus of misinformation and fear. People think it is generating from this election but this is something that has been around for a long time. No, I don’t expect people to get together and sing kumbaya but I am personally saddened by the nastiness from all sides, the uptick in hatred and name calling of and by every color,  nationality, every sexual orientation or political and religious belief. People all over the place are making snap judgement about each other based on assumptions feed to them by the media, Facebook meme’s, Hollywood and others.


In this past week alone I have been called a ignorant, white-privileged bitch. Friends of mine were told they need to get “back on the boat.” Co-workers have had doors literally slammed in their face because of their nationality. Family members and acquaintances are blaming each other for events that have not even happened yet. And Facebook bullies are making assumptions about peoples character based on political posts.

So I ask you what are we teaching our children? One side shouts at the other, the other side name calls back. But not one is hearing each other, no one is listening. Well, our kids are. They are learning that different opinions are wrong. They are learning that if your neighbor doesn’t think, look or act like you they are to be blamed for our countries ills. They are the problem.

Lessons in bad behavior

This squabbling, bitterness, anger and fear are teaching them it is ok to be intolerant of others. It is teaching them to stifle their own ideas if they aren’t in agreement with their friends. Our children are not learning to listen to both sides, they are not learning to be open-minded. They are learning to make snap judgements with little information and to be angered by differing opinions. Civil discourse and open communication are no where in sight, instead they are getting a lesson in stereotyping, non-conformity and name calling.

Who is teaching them this? Why, it is us of course. No… not one side or the other, it is all of us because well, it takes two to fight. So yes, we are all to blame for setting this example for our children.

It’s time to stop

Let’s be honest, we where never thinking of them. We were thinking of how wrong the other guy was, why would they think this way, why would they believe that? We were so caught up in proving the other person wrong that we all just kind of forgot our kids where watching. They we’re listening. But they saw your angered rant on Facebook, heard you yell at the TV commentator, watched as you argued with friends and family.

So how do we teach or children it is ok to disagree? How do we teach them that differences are not a bad thing? We teach them tolerance, respectfulness and civility, by doing it ourselves. That’s it… that’s all. Maybe we all lost our heads for a little while. But we all need to stop the nonsense, get off Facebook, make up with our friends and get back to living our lives because our kids are watching.



Kid, I’m Not Suppose To Be Your Friend

kids I'm not suppose to be your friendSaw this video the other day I thought I just had to share it on the blog.

It is sassy, funny and so on point. Just when I feel I am messing up my kids something like this comes along to let me know I am doing the right thing.

We can not always be our child’s friend. If we want to mold them into productive members of society and help then ultimately live a happy life,  we need to know sometimes they are going to say “Mom, I hate you.”

It hurts to think of this, but it is our job to guide them. Even when they are hating you for some imagined slight or removal of a privilege. Know in your heart that you are doing the right thing. You are protecting them, guiding them, parenting them. If they don’t like you, it’s ok because in the end you are loving them the way they need you to.

How do you feel about this video? What do you think about her points? Have you ever mixed ice cream and wine? Would love to know your thoughts on this topic. Share them in the comments below.

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Success in Parenting Series: Setting The Right Expectations

success in parenting

Success in Parenting Series: Setting the Right Expectations

By contributor, Ann Marie Flanagan


What are the chances that you have ever felt embarrassed about your child(ren’s) behavior in public? We have all been there! A screaming child in the checkout line? A teenager asking if a friend can spend the night…. In front of that friend? Oh, I know. Ever have your child tell an adult something not meant to be shared?

What is the answer to avoiding these awkward situations? Teaching social skills! We shouldn’t expect our child(ren) to automatically know how to act in different social situations, unless we teach them the expectation first. It seems overwhelming, but it is not when you break it down. I am going to give you the steps and an example.

First, choose one behavior you want to focus on. Think about your expectations and what that looks like. Is it realistic? What do you need to teach your child for him/her/them to fulfill that expectation?

Is it something that requires several steps? Write down the steps. Teach those steps.

How are you going to practice? Set up role plays or practice in a small setting.

Here is my example. When my daughter was 3-years-old she was still sleeping in my bed.

Behavior: I want my 3-year-old out of my bedroom at night.

Expectation: My child will be able to sleep in her own bed without an adult in the room.


1.       She will go to her bed and I will sit on the floor next to her bed until she falls asleep.

2.      She will get in her bed and I will sit on the floor in the middle of the room until she falls asleep.

3.      She will get in her bed and I will sit in the door frame of her room until she falls asleep.

4.      She will get in her bed and I will sit in the living room where she can see me.

5.      She will get in her bed and go to sleep.


1.       During the day, we will go into her room to discuss where she will be and where I will be. We can use stuffed animals to show this or we can each get in position. Talk about what a big girl she is for sleeping in her own bed. Talk about how her brother sleeps in his bed and her friends all sleep in their beds.

2.      For each (adult) movement out of the room, discuss what will happen before it is time for bed. You may even want to practice at nap time or role play. You can have the child practice with another adult or a sibling. Find what works for your child.



1.       Set up a realistic time frame. This will not happen overnight.

2.      Spend a few days with step #1 and begin talking about step #2, etc….

3.      Move to the next step. Some steps might be faster or slower than others.

4.      Celebrate the successes each step of the way!

Tip: Be consistent and stick with it

Would you like more information on how to get rid of tantrums? Send me an email for more information. My email is

I have an online workshop available for purchase. It includes 3 modules and one 15-minute consult with me to develop your “plan of attack.” In addition, I invite you to join our Facebook group, at where we discuss our successes and struggles with parenting. In the Facebook group you can also find my “10 Tips to Help Your Child Learn to Read” Series.

You can also catch me live or on the replay on the live streaming app Periscope at @AnnMarieFlanagan where I broadcast weekly on general topics including behavior, academic, and independent functioning skills for children.

Thanks again for allowing me to spend some time with you!

Ann Marie



Is Balance a Myth?

Is balance a mythRecently, I have seen a few articles about whether finding balance is a myth. Since one of the main purposes of this blog is to help working mothers find a balance between their work and home life, I thought I should weigh in on this topic.

Is finding balance a myth? If we look at what balance really means it is defined as a noun and a verb.

  1. an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady.
  2. stability of one’s mind or feelings.
  3. a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.
  4. harmony of design and proportion.
  5. an apparatus for weighing, especially one with a central pivot, beam, and a pair of scales.
  6. a counteracting weight or force.
  7. the regulating device in a mechanical clock or watch.
  8. a predominating weight or amount; the majority.
  9. a figure representing the difference between credits and debits in an account; the amount of money held in an account.
  10. the difference between an amount due and an amount paid.

So in order to figure out if balance is a myth we need to define what type of balance we are talking about. For the purposes of this blog we are primarily refering to the first three from this list. The topic being weighed are work and family life.

Ultimately, we are striving for an equal proportion of these in order to achieve the 2nd defination. Likewise if we can achieve this equal districbution then we can also acheve defination 1 and “remain upright and steady.”

Now that we have defined what balance means the next question would logically be is it achieveable? This is a bit more difficult to pin down so here is my opinion.

Yes and no. I think balance is achievable for moments or periods of time but is not sustainable. Frankly, life would be pretty boring if it was.

As I said one of the main focuses of this blog is to “find” balance. So the aim here is the pursuit of balance. To me the achievement of balance is great,(at least in theory) but if we are already in balance what is there to write about?

When you have reached success you can teach about how you got there, but not one can really understand what it feels like to be there without achieving it for themselves.

So that is the key, in my view. Achieving balance is possible but we as living breathing changing creature based in nature. Nature is in a constant struggle to find equilibrium but stimuli enter the picture to throw that equilibrium out of wack and thus starts the process again.

Each stage in life is like this containing a new set of challenges, thrills, adventures and triumphs. [ctt title=”Life is best lived not in the attainment of a state of balance. It is in the journey to get there. ” tweet=”Life is best lived not in the attainment of a state of balance. It is in the journey to get there. ” coverup=”709ko”]It is in the real life struggles, the moments of peace and well as the search for grace.

The best moments remembered are from these back and forth’s, the dips and valley where we learn about ourselves and adjust to out environment. Here is where we discover our true selves and help others walk where we have been.

Maintaining balance may be a myth but I don’t think that is really the point. Balance is not so much in the achieving it is in the finding. The journey to manage these two forces is what makes like worth living. It is in the journey to balance that matters not so much the destination.

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Introducting the Success in Parenting Series

Hello! My name is Ann Marie Flanagan.

Here is a little about me. I am a wife of 17 years and a mother of three happy and healthy children. I met my husband on a blind date. During my second year of teaching I was set-up on a date with a parent of a kindergartener at the school I was working in. That blind date led to marriage and my little family. My children are Blake, McKenzie, and Gavin. Ever since I was young, I had always wanted to become a teacher! I am thrilled to have the privilege of speaking to you about my passion: teaching.

During high school, I began tutoring my neighbor’s sons. While I was working with them they were both tested and labeled Learning Disabled. This intrigued me and I began to research and decided I wanted to focus on working with this population.

I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Learning Disabilities from the University of North Florida. From there I began my teaching career in an elementary school working with special education students in the 4th and 5th grades. Right away I knew this was my calling and couldn’t wait to learn more.

Image source unknown

Image source unknown

Several years later I participated in a cohort where I earned my Master’s Degree in Special Education from the University of Central Florida as well as my National Board Certification! I continued working in elementary education since then, only taking one year off.

This is my 21st year of teaching and I am more passionate about my students than ever before.

I educate and advocate for my students, collaborate with parents, and assist other teachers in their pursuit of becoming the best they can be for their students.

For the past 7 years I have worked in Pre-K and found my niche. At first I thought this was going to be the easiest of jobs. Boy was I mistaken! I have learned a whole new skill-set and I am in love with my career.

These 3 & 4 year olds are challenging, but they are also little sponges. My favorite areas to teach these young minds is in their social/emotional and communication skills. This is a critical age for my students. Early intervention is the key. Most of their labels include: Developmentally Delayed, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and Language Impaired.

My students inspired me to develop an online workshop called Tackling Tantrums. More often than not parents tell me about tantrums that are occurring at home and I have key strategies and tips to share. This workshop is not just for parents of special education students. It is for all parents who struggle with taming these outbursts.

In addition, I have developed a Facebook group to share our children’s successes and ask for assistance with challenges. This group is a safe place to discuss strategies and tips for young children all the way through young adults who may be ready to leave for college.

Would you like to join us?

Here is the link: SuccessinParenting. You can find information about the Tackling Tantrums Workshop in the group or you can email me at  I also have a free series within the group about how to set your children up for a successful start to the new school year. This series is filled with quick and easy tips that you can begin to implement today.

I look forward to the next opportunity to share with you every other Monday. In future posts I will share my expertise and knowledge about managing your child’s strong emotions, identifying red flags for learning difficulties, and how to prepare for a parent conference and/or Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting. If you have suggestions on topics just send me an email.


Ann Marie Flanagan

Keeping Your Kids’ Brains Active Out Of School

keeping kids brains active over the summerKeeping Your Kids’ Brains Active Once School is Out

Guest post by Susie Almaneih

Susie is no stranger to the art of balancing multiple things at one time. Climbing the corporate ladder is a challenge for anyone, but that can especially be true when you are trying to do it in heels. 
Susie Almaneih, entrepreneur and business executive, has learned over the course of her 20+ year career that as a female, being able to lead a juggling act in the professional world circus can sometimes be the biggest asset you’ve got. Currently, she is the SVP of Products and Program Marketing in Discovery Bay, California. visit her blog at:

 Keeping Your Kids’ Brains Active Once School is Out

What student isn’t excited about summer break? Sleeping in, sunshine, swimming, sports, activities, friends – who can beat it. The downside to summer break is possible ‘brain drain.’ According to recent studies, experts say students can lose three months of education during their summer breaks, and in the new school year ahead, a lot of time is lost relearning what they forgot. At usually two or three months away from school, summer break can just become a loss of knowledge gained in the prior year.

 As a parent, this is a concerning realization – but rest assured, there are things you can do to ensure your children’s previous learning hasn’t gone down the drain by August. Experts cite that the involvement of parents makes the difference in children retaining what they have already learned, and being prepared for all that’s to come.

 To combat brain drain, parents can strike a balance between learning and fun, infusing summer lessons with informality and grabbing opportunities to teach where they can find them. Most have learned through trial and error that sitting kids down at set times of day with work to do in the summer backfires. The more it feels like schoolwork, the faster you lose them. So here are some ways that will actually work to keep kids’ minds active when they’re out of school:

 Summer reading

Summer reading programs have been around for a century, providing age-appropriate options for kids of every grade and helping those who aren’t naturally great readers to find the material that will make them want to pick up a book.

 Foster creative pursuits

Whether it’s art, music, or acting, using the creative side of the brain is always a good idea in continued learning. Take advantage of your children’s interests. For example, if they’re into paintings, encourage them to learn about a particular artist, or even have them take part in a summer art course.


Experiencing new parts of the country and world, along with different cultures, is an invaluable learning experience that you can’t even get in a classroom. Have your kids do some homework in advance of the trip. Have them learn about what they’ll be seeing, the history behind it, etc. They can also participate in researching what sites the family should visit.


You might think that hours spent at the game console always equal mindless wasted time, but some games actually get kids moving, and may improve their ability to focus and learn new skills. Games like Dance Revolution or Guitar Hero engage the body, while encouraging mental concentration that not only helps kids learn, but also prepares younger students to sit still for lessons later.


To enjoy the fruits of culinary labors, children must first master reading, measuring, and following directions. Summer lessons that are much easier to swallow when the outcome is something tasty. Cooking also requires patience, accurate time-telling, and clean-up skills.

Family Activity Day

Work with your children as you put them in charge of planning a family activity day. This incorporates budgeting, research, and time management skills. The result is a fun day everyone can enjoy and remember, long after summer has ended.

These fun ways to include learning into summer vacation will be instrumental as your children tackle a new, productive school year next fall. They’ll not only be well-rested, but will benefit from brain power that hasn’t taken a break for three months.

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