“My 12 Year Old Was Blackmailed for Nude Photos”

As a mom, and a communications professional in the technology space, I’ve heard some pretty scary stories about kids’ use of social media. Predators lurking on Facebook, bullying happening via Twitter and even suspicious activity occurring on Minecraft.

As parents, we try to stay on top of what our kids are doing, but the technology seems to be outpacing our ability to monitor. And there seems to be a new breed of apps out there that are wreaking havoc on our children. SnapChat and ask.FM seem to be particularly problematic. Well, at least that was before a friend — someone I have no doubt is an engaged mother — wrote the following words to me:

“I want to share my story to as many moms as possible, so it doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

I thought she would share a bullying story gone wrong, but it was much, much worse. My heart ached for her — but even more for her 12-year-old daughter.

You see, we continue as parents to try to give our kids an inch of technology so they can feel accepted and part of their generation. We often complain that we see only the tops of our kids’ heads because their noses are always in their phones — but we don’t take them away or limit their use. We think we have explained the rules, controlled the mechanism, established boundaries — but then a new company comes along with a new “app” that is better, faster, easier in every way, and it probably is. Until it’s used for evil and not its original intent.

And we don’t even know it’s happening.

Enter Kik (and several other messengers that fly under the radar of parental controls because they are apps. And oh yeah, kids can delete the messages so they are no longer on their device –although they can remain on the recipients.)

Kik Messenger (launched in late 2010, but gained a lot of popularity in 2012) is an instant messaging app for mobile devices. The app is available on most iOS, Android, and Windows Phones operating systems free of charge. It uses a smartphone’s data plan or WiFi to transmit and receive messages, so kids that have limited texting or no cellular texting at all love it — particularly because we now live in a world where free wi-fi is everywhere.

But kids really love Kik because it is more than typing messages. They can add videos and pictures to their text. They can also send Kik cards, which let them include YouTube videos, GIFs, or their own drawings in their conversations (these also fly under the radar of most parental controls.) The problem is some kids share their private Kik username on public social networks, or can find other users, usually with “cute” photos as their profiles. Kids post their username on their Twitter, Instagram or Tumblr pages and once someone knows their username, anyone can send them a message — and sexual predators are using it to contact minors ALL THE TIME.

According to an article from The CyberSafety Lady: “There are no parental controls for this messaging app of course, this app is designed for adults. And the usual parental controls on your child’s device won’t work within the Kik Messenger app. So blocking YouTube for example on your child’s iPod, won’t disable the YouTube app within Kik Messenger. Some parents are sharing messaging apps with their children to supervise their interactions. This can be especially helpful for younger users. Kik Messenger doesn’t enable this ability. The moment you log into the same Kik account on another device previous messages and conversations are deleted from the account. Logging out (resetting) of Kik messenger also deletes all previous conversations and messages, which for many parents makes parent supervision quite unreliable.”

So, if you are like me, this is where you say: “This wouldn’t happen to me. I’d monitor my kids’ devices better. And they understand the dangers of talking to strangers.”

And then I read this from my friend, and realized that if placed in a situation like this, I’m just not sure my daughters wouldn’t act the same

The below is a first-hand account of the incident. It is abridged for privacy and publication:

I picked up my 12 year old from summer camp one day, and her counselor made a joke about my daughter with her “phone” during a fire drill. Oddly enough, she doesn’t have a phone, but she does have a Galaxy Player. It’s an android device like the phone, just without the phone components. She is strictly forbidden from taking this device to camp, so, I took it from her right then and there as a punishment.

When I got home, I started investigating what was on the device to see what was new and what she was so interested in. She started sobbing dramatically and announced through hysterics, “Mom, please don’t be mad… I got a Kik account.”

Because I try to keep up with the latest in social media for tweens/teens, I was furious with her. I knew that these sorts of apps were bad news. I pulled it up and sure enough she had deleted the conversations as she went so I had no idea what she had been doing on it. I sent her to her room, and started looking at other things on the device to see what else was on it.

I pulled up the photo gallery section of her device, and when I saw the Kik file, my heart just broke into a million pieces. Photos of my daughter in her underwear posed in sexy selfies in front of her mirror.  I started sobbing and my knees gave out.

I immediately thought she was sending these photos because she thought all her friends were doing it. But then — amongst the sexy scandalous selfies — were photos of her crying. Like she was trying to send the photos but mis-angled the camera and it showed her face instead. The million pieces of my heart broke into a million more. Something was really wrong.

We called her to the living room and had a very serious discussion with her. She said she downloaded Kik at camp (free wifi) on Thursday. Then, on Friday she “kik’d” some cute guy (reportedly a teen boy) who posted a photo with the comment, “Kik me,” so, she said she did exactly that. He asked for a simple photo of her, and she complied.  Once she gave him a harmless photo, he started demanding more scandalous photos, like the ones in her underwear.

She didn’t know how to make him go away, and he kept telling her he would “upload her picture” and “ruin her life” and her “friends and family would disown her if they found out” if she didn’t comply with his demands. This all happened in two short days of her having a Kik account.

She told us through tears that she had deleted all the conversations that would back up her story, so of course, I had my doubts. We told her if the story was true, we needed to call the sheriff, and she surprisingly agreed.

The officers came to our house and had no idea what Kik was. Initially, they told us because she wasn’t “nude” or in pornographic acts that the photos and such were harmless. We felt they were merely implying that we needed to get a better handle on our kid.

Frustrated,  heartbroken, and confused, I downloaded Kik to MY phone and logged into her account. She showed me the name of the person who was blackmailing her, and told me who was who on her list of people she talked to. I just wanted some idea what she was exposed to.

That night, the app buzzed all night long from her “friends” at summer camp, all wondering why she wasn’t replying. Then the next morning, while I was at work, it happened.

Him: “(daughter’s name)” “Answer me” “What are you doing”

Me (as my daughter, trying to talk like she would): “Go away”

Him: “No sorry. You don’t get to tell me that.”

“I will upload this photo.” (One of her in her undergarments.)

“You want your friends and family to see these photos? “(then proceeds to post each and every photo she’d sent him)

Me: “Wat do you want?”

Him: “Let me see you. What are you wearing.  You can take a photo.”

Me: “wat kind? wat kind of pic do u want?”

Him: “Show me what you are wearing.”

I thought it was now or never, so I went to the Sheriff’s office to show them the exchange.

I replied: “Busy”

Him: “Photos you have to take: (here he goes down a list of 5 photos – ranging from a fully dressed to “fully body naked in front of the mirror.” He also included some inappropriate graphics.) You do all that I want and I won’t ruin your life.”

Him: “Do you understand?”

Me: “U need to wait. can’t now. busy.”

Him: “I give you one week to do all those photos. If not next Wednesday I start to post your photos online. Do you understand?”

All this is happening while I am  sitting with a Sheriff’s deputy from the Special Victim’s unit. The officers had a meeting while I waited. They discussed the points of the case, and what was being said in conversation while we were watching it happen.

They decided to pursue the case, because the demands of the 5 photos took the event from “a family scandal” to an assortment of felonies. The police seized my phone as evidence, then followed me home (without allowing me to call my husband and let him know we were coming), interviewed my daughter, took all the internet devices that accessed Kik and left.

A week went by and we finally heard from the detective. He said pursuing this guy was a long shot. Kik normally doesn’t cooperate with US Law Enforcement (it’s a Canadian-based company,) and he also said there are 10 cases just like this on his desk. He would keep the case active though.

Another long week in and the detective contacted us again about using our account for a Sting operation. We immediately agreed, and were anxious to hear what the police would tell us next. About three weeks later, the detective said in a surprise move Kik complied with his U.S. Warrant. They got all the information about the user, and surprisingly, he was a minor himself — a 16-year-old boy in London.

Because he’s a minor,  the U.S. won’t prosecute him since the crime committed is no longer a felony when both people involved are minors. It’s more like a speeding ticket.

But you know why this was ALL good news to me? Because this month of hell is finally OVER. I don’t have to drag my daughter to depositions or a trial. We know who he is and know we won’t be seeing him. We have closure and know that it wasn’t a trafficking ring or an adult predator, although it is disturbing that there are young kids out there doing this and they most likely have disturbing futures ahead.

My daughter’s photo is now in the database for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. If the photos are to surface, ever, law enforcement agencies around the globe can use facial recognition software to identify victims of internet exploitation.

I keep telling her camp counselor that I owe her a lunch, for if she had she not joked about her “phone”, I wouldn’t have checked her Galaxy for another week. If she had gotten those messages (the 5 demands, sent 12 hours after we discovered the incident) she likely would have done it out of desperation. She truly felt like she had no options because this guy said so.

I am so thankful this story had what cannot be described as a happy ending, but at least a safe one. The fact that this young girl was so scared of getting caught that she engaged in even more desperate and unsafe behavior is so troubling, but yet so understanding. Who among us hasn’t tried to avoid getting caught by our parents when we knowingly go against the rules? But have the stakes ever been as high?

I did some research of my own, and found some extremely disturbing trends in the way kids are using this app, as well as a few others, and why Internet predators find these such an easy way to get in touch with potential victims.

It literally scared the crap out of me.

I am still searching for the appropriate way for tweens and teens to use the Internet and engage in social media, but I become increasingly convinced that the development of technology far outpaces the maturity of our children.

I encourage you to share this story with your friends and if appropriate, with your children. I encourage you to have meaningful discussions about Web-based behavior and treat it like drinking and driving — there is no instance about social media where they should be scared to tell you what they have done or contact you to help get them out of trouble. And I encourage you to hug your kids tight tonight.

I know I will.

 

Dialing my Extrovert Down…..For My Daughter

I am the quintessential extrovert. I thrive off the energy of other people and will talk to anyone who makes eye contact. Just ask the 15-year-old who bags my groceries. Or the lady on the elliptical next to me at the gym. Or my new BFF at the dry cleaners who shares a similar love of v-neck dresses. And you probably don’t want to sit next to me on a plane.

In order for me to process information I need to talk it out, usually at length (or ad nauseam if you asked my husband.) I don’t enjoy being left alone to my own thoughts (unless I’m writing, which is really just like talking to myself), and would rather be socializing than most anything else in the world.

So, imagine what it must be like for my daughter, an introvert.

And it’s not enough that she has Hyper-Mom as a parent. She is also blessed with Chatty Cathy and Talkative Tammy as sisters.

The kid doesn’t have a chance to get a word in even if she wanted to.

But sometimes when I get her alone –usually on the way to pick up her sisters from a team practice — she decides to throw me a bone and share a little bit. I listen intently to her stories about Minecraft or Bad Kitty or some show she just watched. And then because I recognize she opened the door, I change the subject and ask about something I am interested in, like did she have fun at camp or why she didn’t want to stay outside with the other kids, and just like that, I’ve lost her. She’s done talking.

It’s been pretty frustrating, and it’s hard not to take it personally. I used to think she was being crotchety and rude when she asked me to turn the music up when I picked her up from school and peppered her with questions about her day. I used to get hurt when she would turn and walk out of the room immediately after answering a question. I used to be devastated when we would have a group of girls over to play and she would be off, by herself, pretending with her horses or reading a book.

What was wrong with this child? Did I not raise her right? Would she become one of those sad, isolated girls that would end up as the crazy cat lady?

introvert

I tried to encourage her to make more friends….at school, at the pool, at camp. And she would, although she didn’t seem to be obsessed with having them over all the time like my other two. Her friends were more for “in the moment” and if there was no one suitable to play with, she was more than happy to find something to do by herself or with her sisters.

And then one day as I complained to my husband — another introvert — about how worried I was because my daughter had come inside when all the neighborhood kids were still playing outside, he said this:  “I get it. When I come home from work — after talking to people all day long — I need a break. It doesn’t mean that I don’t love you, but I have hit my capacity for conversation. I just want to decompress before I go back at it again.”

Um, what the what what? It is an effort for my husband to hold a conversation with me? I am like talking to a ray of sunshine, so why was the ten minute car ride home not enough to let the air out of his head?

But he made me pause. Could my husband be right? Could it be that what my daughter was doing was actually okay even though her behavior seemed so odd to me? Did she know what was right for her, even before I did?

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So, I started googling and Amazon-ing books and of course talking to some other people and realized my daughter was perfectly fine.

It was me that had the problem. It was me who thought if you weren’t talking you weren’t okay. It was me who thought my daughter needed more friends, more communication, more……of me.

In today’s day and age we put so much pressure on socialization. We start playgroups at birth, have them participate in team sports at age three and expect our kids to have a best friend before they enter kindergarten. And when they don’t want to participate as we think they should, we — meaning me — think something is wrong.

Each year my daughter’s teachers tell me that she gets along well with all the other kids, and can even be chatty once she gets going. She is happy and participates, although sometimes she would rather read a book (gasp!) instead of do something in a big group or  she would rather swing by herself than play a game.

At first I found this information startling and shocking. I mean who would rather be by themselves when all her friends are having fun? But I think I’m starting to get it.

Holding long conversations can be difficult for her, so doing something by herself enables her to collect her thoughts, or just not think at all for a few moments. Being “on” in the classroom for an introvert can be exhausting, not stimulating. Reading a book or taking a ride on a swing — where you don’t have to focus on anything or anyone else — is energizing, not boring.

And after a long day of school, the last thing an introvert needs is her over-anxious mom grilling her for ten straight minutes on her day, when all she would rather do is listen to some tunes and clear her head. My daughter needs to do these things to cope with her daily stresses, just as I need to talk to deal with mine.

I’ve learned a lot this year about my daughter, the introvert, and her crazy mom. I’m trying to not push her to be someone she’s not, and I’m trying to have the patience to talk to me on her terms, not mine. And I have found that by giving her some time and space, she’s more likely to talk — at least a little bit — when she’s ready.

Now shutting her sisters up….well that’s an entirely different issue.

Are you raising an introvert in an extrovert’s world? I highly recommend: Hidden Gifts of the Introverted Child by Marti Olsen Laney.

 

 

Five Ways I Made My Daughters Cry in One Day

For as long as I have had children, people have commented about the hormones that were one day going to invade my home. I have always laughed it off, because it seemed so very far off in the distance. And although I listened to other parents talk about how at age nine their daughters started to change…a little bit more attitude, a little bit more tears, a little more moody — I didn’t take it very seriously.

Because like most parents do, I chose denial as my force field, telling myself that my kids were different. I was different. Our journey would be different.

And it has been. For girls, they aren’t very dramatic and though we experienced a few doozy of some tantrums in their younger years, most of the time they are remarkably even-keeled. Just like their mom.

Up until recently. Because over the past few weeks it seems like someone is always on the verge of tears. And by verge I really mean out-and-out uncontrollable sobs.

I don’t think my parenting style has changed much. No one is sick, under too much stress or been faced with a recent tragedy. Yeah, we’re not on too much of a schedule and probably haven’t been sleeping as regularly, but it’s not like we’re staying up late every single night.

Yet there seems to be a heavier tone in the way the girls respond to me — more sass, more exasperation, and a little more defiance. There seems to be a borderline eye roll and some heavy sighs after I ask them to do even the smallest tasks.  And there has even been some slight embarrassment when I do my killer running man moves in front of their friends.

But could it be hormones? Could it be puberty? There are no physical signs, so could this really be the big change?

I was not convinced. After a particular trying day today with my sweet girls, I thought I would reflect on what I could do differently for my kids. Maybe it wasn’t all them….maybe I played a part in the tears. So, I wrote down the things that made my normally good-natured girls upset today. They include (but actually aren’t limited to):

+ Helping to learn long division. One of my girls is entering a new math program this year and needs to complete some work before school starts. Today’s lesson was long division, and she wasn’t understanding it based on the computer program. I got as far as: “How many times does three go into 22” before the water works started. Apparently I didn’t know how to teach it right.

+ Asking to change into a bathing suit that actually fits. Remember when I said that there were no physical signs of puberty yet? Well, that doesn’t mean my size 10 daughter can fit into a size 6 swimsuit. Apparently it was pretty traumatizing to have to walk up the stairs and change.

+ Offering to brush her hair. Yeah, I still haven’t figured out why that one brought on the water works.

+ Encouraging them to watch E.T. Apparently one of my daughters thought my choice of movies was so hurtful that it made her cry, so we watched the Disney channel instead. Again.

+ “Hey, can you guys jump in the shower before dinner?” This actually brought two sets of tears and one full waterworks. I like to think that maybe they were protesting for clean water in some third-world country, but I’m pretty sure they were just mad because they had already taken a shower the night before.

Could hormones really be the cause of so much angst? My twins are approaching double digits in just three short months, and although I don’t see any physical signs, the attitudes are very real. And although she’s just 16 months younger than her sisters, I’m pretty sure my eight year old is just coming along for the ride.

This is happening.

This is happening.

Yes, I think we may be approaching Tweendom in our house. And although I’m completely unprepared, I am comforted by the fact that so many brave moms have fought this battle before me and survived. Some even lived to tell about it, passing valuable secrets such as the book above which will help me discuss terms like breast buds and body odor with my three prepubescent lovelies.

I’m still holding out that maybe — just maybe — we’ve been having a few bad days lately and maybe some ice cream and a few snuggles will bring my sweet little girls back. Because if this is the opening number to what the teenage years are going to be like, I told my husband to buckle up, because this is going to be one heck of a ride. And we need a lot more wine.

Game on girlfriends.

 

 

Five Talks You Should Have with Your Child Before Kindergarten

It’s hard when your baby birds start leaving the nest. We want them to be independent, but also want to protect them at the same time.

But we (usually) let them spread their wings. We let them go to a friend’s house, ride their bikes around the neighborhood, and attend camps and other places where we can’t oversee their care. And although some of us would like to insert an OnStar device in them or make them carry around a Nanny Cam, deep down we know they’ll be okay.

That being said, we live in a dangerous world, and even the most protected kids should know the basics of safety — and more importantly, what they should do when they encounter a bad situation.

Most safety information available is geared towards kids ages five and up, but experts agree you should start discussing safety issues as early as pre-school. Yes, pre-school. Even if you are the only care taker, even if you are constantly with your child, even if you don’t think it can happen to you. Unless you plan to live in a bubble, you should at least address the basics.

Just make sure you talk about it calmly and in a developmentally-appropraite way, which means no hysterical screaming, crying or Mary Kate and Ashley videos.

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It’s important to have “house” rules and then some basic safety guidelines for when you’re outside of your home environment. Here are five important conversations you should address with your child before they enter kindergarten.

1. Gun Safety. According to Pew Research, more than a third of Americans report that either they or someone in their home owns a gun. In a perfect world, these are all stowed and locked away appropriately, but we all know that’s not the case. Teach your kids that if they ever see another child handling a gun they should leave the room immediately, and encourage them to get an adult. Also, tell your child that no adult would ever give permission for a child to handle a weapon, so don’t believe a friend that says he or she is “allowed” to play with it. It’s also important to explain to your child that real guns are different from the ones shown on TV or video games, and can seriously injure a person.

2. Stranger Danger. I hate this one. It is so difficult to teach your kids to be kind and cautious all at the same time. Although child abductions are much rarer than the media portrays, it is still an important conversation to have. According to the site www.mychildsafety.net, you should begin talking to your child about Stranger Danger when they are old enough to play on playground equipment by themselves — even if you are right there.  An easy way to explain to your kids about strangers is two-fold: first, explain that adults know they should not approach little kids without their parents. If an adult you do not know is asking a child for help or offering something, they probably aren’t safe. More importantly, kids need to understand that they should never go anywhere without asking their parents permission — which is something even pre-schoolers can comprehend.

3. What to do if they are lost. Although most kids under six are rarely walking around by themselves, it is a very real issue that kids and parents can get separated in a crowded shopping mall, amusement park or grocery store. First, encourage your child to stay put. Explain to them that you will always return to where you were, but you can’t guess where they may go next. Second, make sure your young children know your first and last name and will call out for you. Practice this at home. If you don’t return immediately, tell your child to find another mom with kids and let them know that he or she is lost. Mothers are often the most emotionally invested in ensuring a child is taken care of, and most men are fearful of helping due to the risk of being labeled a predator.

As your child gets older, practice your cell phone number with them. If your child has a problem memorizing the digits, write it down inside their shoe or pocket and let them know they can give it to another mom if you become separated.

4. Inappropriate Touching. I was shocked at my daughters’ four year old check up when my pediatrician told them that even a doctor shouldn’t touch them unless their mom was in the room, but it ended up being a great teaching moment. We went home later that night and talked about “private parts” and how no one should be touching them without Mommy or Daddy knowing. We also discussed that no adult should ever tell them that they shouldn’t tell their parents something.

5. If all your friends jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge. Okay, I learned this one from my dad, but it comes in handy. Peer pressure starts early. One kid says they are allowed to do something and the next thing you know you have a bunch of four year old’s throwing sand at each other on a swanky golf course (may or may not have actually happened.) It’s important to talk to your kids about following your rules, not what another child says. It’s one of those things you shouldn’t have to discuss, but you can’t always count on kids to understand unless it’s implicit.

Safety doesn’t have to be scary if you approach it calmly and rationally, but the important thing is to start discussing these things early and often.

What discussions have you had with your young child?

Developing an Attitude of Gratitude

As parents, how often do we express gratitude for our lives? The crazy, manic, over-scheduled messiness that comes with being a working mom, dad who travels too much, exhausted stay-at-home mother of multiples and everything in between.

We hear it all the time when we hear of tragedies. I do it myself. “I am just thankful for my children’s health” or “I am so grateful my spouse has a job.” But developing an attitude of gratitude…a constant stream of appreciation for the life you have. Now that’s pretty powerful.

I am not going to tell anyone that you have to be appreciative for every little thing about parenthood.  Most of parenting in my eyes is just about survival or getting through, like the time your daughter takes her diaper off during nap time and decides to “paint the walls” (I may or may not be talking from experience.) Or when your five-year old finds the Sharpies and decides to decorate the stairs. Or when your seven-year old decides she wants bangs, so she cuts them. Herself. Or half of them.

No, I’m not one of those Positive Paula’s that says you should embrace every single moment and be thankful for it. But I do think having a regular attitude of gratitude can impact your daily life. It can empower you to be more productive. And you may just smile a teeny bit more in those crazy moments.

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Why is gratitude important? Simply put: giving and receiving gratitude makes us feel good. Think of how great you feel when you get acknowledged with a promotion for a job well done. How good does it feel when someone tells you your kids are well-behaved? And do you get all warm and fuzzy when someone reacts in kind when you do something nice for them?

Gratitude-ing is contagious. Here’s a few tricks I’ve learned along the way:

+ Believe in good intentions.  One of things we do as women is constantly try to read between the lines in our interactions…in a Facebook status, text message, or conversation. It often leads to misunderstandings, hurt feelings and resentment. Each and every time we have an interaction with someone who makes us unsure of someone’s intent, try to think the best of that person. Obviously don’t be naive, but when you think the best of someone, you may be surprised in how it turns out, and you aren’t consumed with the negative energy.

For example, did you not get an invite to a party? Instead of getting mad, believe that it was either inadvertent or because the host had constraints. Someone not call you back? Believe it was because that person is swamped. Did someone decline an invite? Maybe they really just were exhausted. The net-net for women: don’t let our own insecurities skew the way we look at other people.

Of course, there are the times when people are being malicious, but it’s always easier to let them mess with their karma, not yours.

Write down your blessings. You don’t have to do this every single day (although I know journaling about gratitude makes it a habit), but write what you are truly thankful for down at least once, then refer to the list often.

This helps me a lot when my mojo is off. When I was unhappy in my job, it was good for me to think about how the extra money I was earning was helping with my daughter’s horse back lessons and build our retirement. When my kids were little and made me want to pull my hair out, I was reminded that at one time I wasn’t even sure I could physically have children. Looking at the world this way didn’t make me completely Zen after the fifth time being awoken in the middle of the night, but it did help me cope with stress better and not sweat the small stuff.

+ Take Notice. When you see someone –whether it is a stranger or family member — doing something nice, acknowledge and thank them. Sincerely. Stop a member of  the Armed Services in the airport and shake their hand. Tell a kid that picked up some garbage that other people walked around that you noticed. Thank your son for taking out the trash, even if you had to ask him three times to do it.  Acknowledging kindness spreads the good will.

Be a giver. While I try to do things for the less fortunate, I also try to give to my friends, my kids’ schools, my neighbors, etc. Showing gratitude to the important people in your life is a double whammy — it makes your recipient feel good and you feel great. Take a meal to someone (doesn’t have to be homemade), cut your neighbor’s grass, drop off a bouquet of flowers or offer to bring a neighbor home from practice. When I feel like nothing is going right in my world, I always do something for people who have it worse off than me. It’s a great reminder that my life isn’t quite as bad as I feel in that moment, and I feel good about helping someone who needs it.

+ Change your vocabulary.  You know that saying it’s not what you say but how you say it? Well, not exactly true. Studies have shown that the words that come out of your mouth can change your attitude. For example, say you had to wait two hours at the pediatrician’s office and missed a deadline at work. Instead of instantly complaining to your spouse, start the conversation off by discussing how at least it was a minor issue with your child and how well-behaved she was at the office (if you are super lucky that day!) The point is: if you start off with gratitude, the rest doesn’t seem so bad.

+ Don’t worry about the Joneses. One of my all-time favorite sayings is: “If you aren’t happy with what you have, why do you think you’ll be happy with more?” One of the biggest problems we have as women is we think what we see externally is the truth. Someone is skinny and has a big house — they must be super happy. A mom and her kids who is always dressed perfectly  — she must have it all together. But, we all know that is often not  the case. When we take all the energy away from wishing we had what someone else did and focus it on being grateful for what we already have, it is amazing the contentment we can feel. And it spreads throughout the whole family.

What are your tips for being grateful?

 

 

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