Category Archives: Soap Box Moments

Livescribe 3. Grrr.

I have been eying something like this since the late 90s.  For real.  I remember walking into a Franklin Covey store and thinking that they were the coolest thing ever.  I knew, though, that there was no way that the technology was there yet, especially for the price.  So I waited.

These days, I have a ton of research to do.  I spend most of my “downtime” reading journal articles and taking notes.  Sometimes, if inspiration strikes, I will write two or three pages of my future dissertation in a notebook.

Organization was starting to get insanely out of hand.  When I went to put everything in one place, I thought, “wow – wouldn’t it be nice to have all of this converted into text for me?”

So began a search for the new iteration of digital notebooks and digital pens.

Livescribe has a ton of cool features.  However, the only one I cared about was the handwriting-to-text feature.  I don’t need to talk to my pen.

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Here’s the skinny: The OCR (optical character recognition) is great.  It got almost everything right.  The notebooks are of great quality and don’t cost any more than a Moleskine.  The pen is light, easy to use, and feels pretty comfortable in hand.  It is a little too fat, but whatever.

However,

THE APP SUCKS SO INCREDIBLY MUCH THAT THE ENTIRE THING IS USELESS.

Okay. Here goes.  This might get a little cockamamie, but that’s the app’s fault. Trust me.

So say you have a couple of pages written in a notebook, and want them transferred to a word document…

First, you need to go into the app and go to the “feed” view.  You cannot change handwriting to text in the notebook view- only the feed view.  So, if you have more than one notebook in the feed, good luck keeping that all organized.  That was one of the deal breakers for me.  Not everything needs to look like a Facebook feed, people.  For real.  I can just see the Livescribe guys thinking that this will make it seem “cool” –

“Hey! Let’s mix up all their notes so that they are chronological instead of in the actual notebooks they took them in to stay organized and call it a feed- like social media! Cause the kids love social media! C’mon, hepcats! We’ll be sooo groovy that way!”

So you are in the feed, you swipe to turn your handwriting to text, aaand… hm.  You can create a pdf of what you wrote, but that doesn’t do anything for me if I want to add it to a paper I’m writing.  I can copy/paste it into the document… but oh. my. god. the formatting is ridiculous.  You will spend more time reformatting the text than you would have by just typing it yourself. So basically, you have this text and then you have nowhere to go with it.

If you want to send it to Evernote, well, you are sending a pdf attachment.  Which is kind of crap, in my opinion.  I’d much rather have it go in as a note without having to open a second thing to look at it.  Same with OneNote, by the way- and Apple users should NOT get all excited by this new OneNote- the iOS version AND the free Mac version are incapable of opening pdfs.  Which is the only format Livescribe exports.  Sooo….

Oh- back to the app- so in the feed view, it cuts up what you have written into these “snips.” So if you pause to think for a sec, it creates a new snip.  I’m a little slow 🙂 so I ended up with a million different snips, which was annoying.  I looked around, and yes! They can be merged.  Except.

Snips from one page can be merged.  For some inexplicable reason, snips from more than one page cannot be merged together.  I don’t know about you,  but I write things down that take up more than one piece of notebook paper sometimes.  So, IF I wanted to turn my notes into a pdf (stupid, but go with it), I can only get ONE page worth of writing onto a pdf EVEN THOUGH that might only be a paragraph or two of actual text.  So now I have to have multiple pdf files for like five paragraphs of text.  Swell.

And don’t forget- all those snips are all jumbled up in the feed.  You can’t turn handwriting to text in the actual notebook- you have to go “work” with it in the feed to do that.

So, cool pen (sort of), nice notebooks, CRAP app.  And the app KILLS the product.  Unless you’d like to drive yourself to madness, don’t buy this.  I returned mine and bought a few skinny Moleskine notebooks that I can organize.  It’s working just fine.  I did buy one of those Evernote Moleskines, so we will see how I like that.

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5 Little Flips to Modernize Your School Library

I had the best time tonight. I had dinner with an old friend, a new friend, and an old acquaintance who really should be a friend.

We gossiped. We talked about books. We talked about the fact that we were talking about books.

I noticed something at dinner. I was sitting with a teacher and two tech integration guys. And me- a library media specialist. There was this unspoken (and mumbled a couple of times) thing in the air about librarians. I think they felt comfortable about it because I’m an unconventional librarian- I have surround sound, for god’s sake. But, in the grand scheme, nothing has changed. The perception- the stereotype- is still there. And I can’t go it alone.

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We all need to work together to change it. Otherwise, those of us forging the newer path look like we are just “jerks” bent on making the rest of you look bad. That isn’t the goal. We want to push our profession forward. In order to do that, we all have to be in this together. So I thought I would share a few things I’ve heard by the “water cooler” and you can go from there…

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1. Tech Integration. It isn’t just the tech integration guy’s job. As a matter of fact, I get a little salty when my guy crosses the tech line into my territory. I would have to say that 50% of the tech integration stuff is OUR job. They can keep the google integration, grade book programs, blogging, smart boards (barf), and teacher websites. If we aren’t pushing databases, ebooks, audiobooks, literacy apps, etc., then how will we stay relevant? And if your tech guy starts teaching Boolean searching, you have my permission to go medieval. I almost did.

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2. Environment. This isn’t your momma’s library. I have gotten so many positive remarks since I started piping music into my library. I play mostly Vitamin String Quartet (modern music, classical style) – my music policy is NO VOICES. I’m a musician, so I realize that if there is too much going on, I will pay too much attention to the music. However, I have noticed that my own productivity has gone up because of the music, so I know that the kids’ has too. And Thrift Shop done classically is a trip. I also bought couches and bean bags a few years ago. It’s a mess. The bean bags are all over the place- my assistant and I happily clean them up every morning. You have no idea how nice it is to see kids lounging with a laptop, concentrating. It’s magical. Ditch the stodgy view of what the library should look like. The kids need a safe, comfortable, serene place to work. Like I said- the compliments come in every day. From teachers AND kids.

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3. The books. I just received a compliment about books today. I am a middle school librarian, and the books in my library aren’t available in the other middle school libraries. Parents are asking friends and relatives to check books out of my library for their kids (against policy, but I let it slide). Put your beliefs aside. Put your prejudices aside. Put your preconceived notions aside. Put your fears aside. Some of your students are gay. Some of your students have eating disorders. Some of your students are victims of abuse. Carry books for everyone!!! Only restrict THE MOST edgy books- the 5% most edgy books- in your library. Don’t make everything good available ONLY for the oldest students. They might not be the ones who need them!!! You have a varied population, and you need to cater to everyone! It’s in our code of ethics. Don’t be afraid of the .01% of parents who might be offended. If they show up, tell them, “I have 1000 students and I need to have something that speaks to everyone. If your child checked something out that you find questionable, please tell your child to return it and talk to me about a book that would be great for them.” Done. Was that so hard?

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4. Back to Tech. We need to get more tech savvy, people. I just acquired 14 iPads for my library, and I plan to use the hell out of them. I have plans. Buy some books- iPads in Library is a good one. Troll the internet- Twitter and Pinterest are my favorite resources for Ed tech tips. Find an ebook supplier (I use Follett) and then go into classrooms and market the hell out of it. Don’t buy another goddamn encyclopedia. Find a Web 2.0 tool that relates to info literacy, research, reading, or whatever, and master it. Then, offer to teach it to kids. When I started, I had three false starts… Nooks, Kindle Fires, and a third party ebook client…. FAILS. Don’t let the fails set you back. If you have questions, ask me. Don’t do that librarian thing – well, I tried and it didn’t work, so I’m not trying again. Technology is horrible. It doesn’t work in my district. NOPE. You are wrong. Technology doesn’t always work anywhere. Oh well. Move on. Make it work.

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5. Push IN. I surprised the hell out of one of my administrators the other day. She walked through the library and saw me teaching… Then she did a surprise visit to a teacher and found me teaching…. And then she dropped into another classroom and (you guessed it) saw me teaching. She didn’t realize that I do as much push in as I do, and that’s a good thing. When you surprise them like that… Priceless. Is every day like that? Of course not. I got really lucky that day 🙂 but it isn’t rare, either. I constantly badger teachers to let me come in and teach something, anything. Come on- we are the best people the school has to teach research skills, for instance. Do you have any idea how many lessons you can prep on research? Especially with Common Core???

Bottom line? MARKETING. You need to run your library like a business. Be a retail manager. What is going to bring in revenue?

Tough love. 🙂

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Five Graphic Novels that will Change Your Mind

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard from parents and teachers that graphic novels aren’t “real books.” It hurts me inside every time I hear that.

The visual literacy gained from graphic novels is real.  Not only do you need to comprehend the words on the page, but you need to interpret the images, and how they relate to the words.  Some graphic novels do depict superheroes and action like the comic books we are all familiar with, but there are so many richer themes going on in graphic novels as well.  Even the superhero comics can be good, though- the themes of good triumphing over evil and social justice above all are really great things for kids to learn.

As a librarian, I find that even my most reluctant readers can lose themselves in a good graphic novel- and then I see them coming back for more and more.  They don’t realize how good these books are for them.

Now, I know that some may need more convincing than that.  So, I put together a quick list of five graphic novels that may change your mind for good.

epilep1. Epileptic by David B. – David’s brother is diagnosed with epilepsy at age 11. What follows is a desperate search for a “cure,” where his parents try everything (even things that are crazy or harmful) to cure David’s brother during a time when not much is known about the condition (the 60s and 70s). David uses vivid imagery and metaphoric characters to represent some of the people and situations he encounters along the way (a macrobiotic healer is a tiger, for instance).

persep2. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi – Students tell me all the time that this was an eye-opening read for them.  Persepolis is Ms. Satrapi’s memoir of her experiences from the ages of 10 to 14 living in Iran during the Islamic Revolution.  She weaves together a story of the horrors of the conflict, coming of age as an independent, smart girl, and the history and culture of Iran.

 

Maus3. Maus by Art Spiegelman – Speigelman depicts Jews as mice and Nazis as cats in this Holocaust story.  The story is true- Speigelman’s father was a Holocaust survivor, and the entire story is based on his memories of what happened to him during that time.

 

 

american-born-chinese-cover4. American Born Chinese by Gene Yang – Yang weaves three stories together: one about a mythical monkey who wants to be a god, one about a popular white kid embarrassed by his stereotypical Chinese cousin, and one about a Chinese-American kid who wants acceptance from his white peers.  The book teaches acceptance: from others, and from oneself.

 

odyssey_cover_400px5. Anything by Gareth Hinds – Hinds turns classics in to another kind of art by turning them into graphic novels.  He keeps the original language of the piece, and he is extremely thorough.  These have absolutely no resemblance to the “Illustrated Classics” we grew up with- these are graphically gorgeous adaptations that adults can appreciate just as much, if not more than, teen readers.

 

There are a ton of others- some even better than these (Watchmen, Dark Knight Returns, etc.), but I wanted to show you a cultural mix that might surprise you.  I didn’t even delve into the genius coming from Asia.

Pretty please with a cherry on top: next time you see someone with a graphic novel, DO NOT think that it isn’t a real book.  It is real- and it just may be even more real than some of the Kindle candy being published these days.

Read one! You might love it- never know unless you try!

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Stay Sane at Work! Strategies for Dealing with Workplace Dissatisfaction

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Recently, I heard of an employer who announced plans to change a crucial procedure for doing things in a department of a small company.  They did not enlist any of the employees who actually do this job (of which there are 54) to aid in the decision-making process.  The executives who chose the new procedure have never actually worked in the position that would be effected by the decision.  Now, the employees are left with a procedure that they are held accountable for that doesn’t make sense and doesn’t get the job done as well as the old procedure.

Whatever your reason, the fact is that many of us feel undervalued and unhappy at work.  The last thing we should do, however, is sabotage our own success over someone else’s shortcomings.  For this reason, I have compiled a list of five tips for dealing with a less than ideal working environment.

1. Bite Your Tongue.  Sadly, it seems, in most cases speaking out just doesn’t seem to be the best solution.  Middle and upper management seem to need to create ways to justify their positions in such a volatile marketplace, and letting them know that it isn’t working just isn’t the best decision for your own job security.  No matter how painful it may seem, just sit back, do things the way they want you to do them, and wait for it to all crash and burn.  When they start doing damage control and change things, yet again, go home and crack open a bottle of wine.  Toast yourself with a hearty “Told ya so!”  But under no circumstances should you actually voice that at work.

2. Get a Hobby.  Too often these days, our jobs consume our thoughts outside of the office.  Go find something else to occupy your thoughts outside of work.  Better yet, find something that will get you so excited that you can think of it at work as well to get you through the day.  A friend recently said that if he is getting really worked up about work, then his home life needs some serious adjusting.

3. Create A Happy Place. Your desk (or cube, or where ever it is you work) should be your sanctuary.  Create a serene environment, filled with as much evidence and reminders of your life outside of work as you possibly can.  Don’t skimp on nice frames for pictures, add a nice table lamp to your desk; really make it your space.  That way, when you sit down at your unique space, you feel comfortable and at home in your surroundings.  You will be amazed by just how much more you are able to get accomplished when you feel comfortable.

4. Forgo Negative Energy.  Stay away from the employee cafeteria if it is a breeding ground for negativity.  Don’t get wrapped up in water cooler talk that is sure to get you worked up.  Remember the words once spoken by…somebody: “Don’t insult yourself by saying bad things about someone else.”  Live by that at work, and some of the bad stuff will simply slide off your back.

5. Be a Terrific Actor or Actress. Plaster that smile on your face at work.  Wear clothing that is just as professional as your boss.  Act like you love your work.  Pretend that everything is fine and that whatever your bosses decide is fine with you.  They are the experts, after all!

The bottom line is this- and we don’t have to like it, but we do need to hear it.  There are many people lined up to take a shot at our jobs.  Our bosses can find someone who will do what they want with a smile.  Perfect working environments are incredibly hard to come by- especially in a tough economy.  Those jobs at Facebook and Google don’t exist outside of Facebook.  And Google.

But all hope is not lost.  The funny thing about the list above is that it actually does help.  You’ll find that as you are using those strategies to pretend that everything is okay, things will start to be kind of, well, okay.  And okay is pretty damn good these days.

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Zotero, Mendeley, RefWorks, and Endnote (Oh My!)

Hi All!

I just wanted to drop a line to share my experience today- I have spent the last four hours researching and testing the various source management tools out there, and I have to say that my classmate, Paula is my hero.  She suggested Mendeley, and Mendeley won for me.

Here is my two cents (take it or leave it, obviously):

icon2_zoteroZotero: A little over my head.  The learning curve is steep, and the interface isn’t as user-friendly as I would like.  When I tried to import my pdfs, they did not come with the source information.  No app support.  If you start fresh with Zotero, I think you will be very pleased.  Everything is in the cloud, which is vital these days.  For me, I had a ton of pdfs saved in Dropbox that I wanted to be able to drag and drop into whatever program I chose, and have that program recognize the files.  I couldn’t figure out how to make Zotero do that seamlessly.  You can create folders for different topics, which is good.  If you are a Firefox user, Zotero might be the best choice.  They have a plugin.  I use Chrome, so it wasn’t a feature I would use.

8322ade9fa513f6511f643c0066a87a7Endnote: Not free.  Expensive (which is even worse than not free).  Not as user-friendly as the other options.    I couldn’t figure out how to download the info I was looking for (although, according to their promo video, it IS possible).  They do have a 30 day free trial, so you can try it for yourself.  And they have cloud support and an app, which is good.  I got frustrated with the desktop program, so I didn’t try those.

images-1Refworks: Even more expensive than Endnote.  Twice, actually (Endnote costs $113 for two years of access, Refworks costs $100/year).  No free trial.  End of research. 🙂

 

imagesMendeley: Free.  Drag and drop and everything is there: the journal, issue, volume, pages, stable url, abstract- everything.  Most of the time, at least.  When it isn’t, you can search Google Scholar right from the record.  If that doesn’t work, you have to do it manually.  Out of the 200 I imported, I need to enter about 30 manually.  The interface reminds me of Evernote Desktop, which makes it really user-friendly and idiot-proof, which is good for me.  It has a little bookmarklet like Zotero, too- so when you are doing new research, it’s easy.  I tried it, and it works.  You can also create folders to keep things organized.  App support is there, but reviews say it tends to crash.  The one thing I wish I could do is annotate right in the app.  It will let you highlight and annotate, but only on a computer.  I don’t see that feature available in the app.  I will say that so far, it hasn’t crashed on me.  It’s in the cloud, so you can access it from anywhere, although, obviously the desktop version has many more features (true with Zotero as well).

So… there’s my opinion.  Like I said, take it or leave it- but I thought it would be really sad if four hours of work was wasted on just me. 🙂  Obviously, no one thing can give you everything (why???).  Mendeley had the most bang for the non-existent buck for me.  Oh- there was one other one that might look good- qiqqa- BUT they don’t support Mac.  Who does that anymore?  And why do they all have red and white logos? Oh, dear, I need to go to bed.  Four hours of researching research tools has gone to my head.

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An Honest (Optimistic) Look at DailyBurn and DailyBurn Ignite

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Today, I decided to try the DailyBurn program. I did a lot of research (hello- Librarian!) on the different options available on my Roku. I was just looking for the best exercise channel, and I found it surprising that there were very few bloggers talking about this. I usually trust bloggers’ opinions over any other, so I decided I would add to the conversation.

174737_137614426285009_7428335_nI checked out the following options: Gaiam (which is my second choice), The Gymbox, the free channels, and DailyBurn. I thought The Gymbox’s videos were a little low-quality (from what I could see in the previews). There was only one trainer in any of the videos, the routines looked really outdated and old-fashioned, and the trainers looked really low-energy.

Gaiam-TVGaiam’s videos are great, obviously. I liked that in addition to the exercise videos, you also get a lot of general wellness content. The reasons Gaiam came in second for me are two-fold. First, it is hard to come up with a “routine.” You have to do a lot of browsing and searching to come up with an activity for the day, and there is no continuity unless you put in some effort to come up with a plan for yourself. I wanted something I could follow- something designed by someone other than me. Also, many of the videos require special, gimmicky Gaiam-specific equipment, such as that Mari Winsor contraption and The Wave weird stepper. I already have the basic equipment. I don’t want to buy any more- and especially not As Seen on TV crap.

The free options? Well, let’s just say you get what you pay for. I’m not totally knocking them, though. If you don’t want to or can’t spend any money to get fit, it is really nice that they exist.

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So, back to DailyBurn. I chose this one for a few reasons. I liked that I answered a few questions about myself and my expectations, and then the site came up with a plan for me. I will be doing 30 days of Yoga, to start. I can change it up from there. They offer dance, Insanity-style workouts, quick 15-minute bursts, and more. I think it will be hard to get bored. The videos look to be high quality and high energy, which was important to me, as well.

iphoneapp2I like that it is available on my Roku and on my iOS devices. I will probably only use my Roku, but I like knowing that if I need to use my iPad, I can. Actually, now that I think about it, I am presenting at a conference in November, so I might just use that feature in my hotel room.

The surprise for me was the Ignite program- I wasn’t expecting it, but I am really excited about it. It is an add-on, but it also comes with a 30-day Free Trial (a definite perk to the whole program), so I can try it out for a month. DailyBurn costs 10 bucks a month, and to include Ignite, it’s another 5 bucks. Not bad, considering that Weight Watchers costs that much for a week, and this has many more features.

384049-xbox-daily-burnIgnite looks to be an anti-inflammatory diet, which is why I am excited. For a 34 year old woman, I have horrible acne. My doctor recently told me that if I want to clear up all of my acne- including the stuff on my back and shoulders, that I need to go the anti-inflammatory route.

It is also really detailed- no room for questions- and includes an app for tracking on my iPhone. I need an app. Don’t ask me why. I just do.

fuel-chocolate-0838c016aa55e6c7fc97abcd6c3dd882They also sell a protein shake to go with the program, and they suggest drinking it within an hour of waking up, every day. They are explicit about the need to have some kind of breakfast within an hour of waking. I suck at eating breakfast, so I bought the shake mix. It wasn’t cheap- $65 for a month’s supply. I am also going to need to buy almond milk and flash frozen strawberries to go into the shakes. So, breakfast every morning will come out to be about $3.50. I guess that isn’t too bad. Especially if I lose fat and clear up my skin in the process.

So, I was looking for some good exercise videos and I got a whole fitness program. If it works, then I can definitely handle $15/month plus the cost of food (which I would be spending anyway, of course).

I will update this post in a month. Wish me luck!

Much, much later…

Here’s my response to a reader…I was a bit of a slacker. This is from a couple of months ago:

After this response you can read what I’m up to now…

Sorry! I keep meaning to update this… Yes- it helps my acne tremendously. I have a hard time sticking to an exercise program, so not so much on that. 😦 But they are good workouts if you are so inclined. The diet plan, well, once you get the hang of it, you don’t really need to pay the fees anymore (if at all, since you get the first 30 days free). I didn’t find that I lost any weight just following the diet plan, although I did try some gluten free bread products, which are not low calorie in the slightest. And, I am a vegetarian, so the no soy products thing was hard for me. I think that in order to keep up with losing the acne AND losing weight, I am going to have to stick to no dairy and cut carbs to next to nothing. The Perricone Prescription is a really good book on that. I love the shakes- and they are dairy free, so I will keep using those. Overall, I think it is one of the better all-around plans out there. Whole, unprocessed foods… No-brainier, really. Oh- the apps absolutely suck. I hope, for all of their subscribers’ sakes that they will revamp those.
Hope that helps! If you have a chance, please let me know what you think if you try it.

SECOND UPDATE:

Okay. Here’s the skinny (pun intended). I just bought a precor elliptical and I love it. I use it every day. And I am still trying to stay on track with the daily burn style diet, although some parts are hard for me. The gluten-free thing ends up sabotaging losing weight- unless you are okay with nothing breadish at all. Gluten free stuff is four times more caloric than anything.

Also, I once lost 80 pounds on the whole calories in-calories out idea, so I can’t completely subscribe to something that doesn’t believe in that. I’m willing to try other things because I have back pain and acne- but anything that doesn’t recognize that calories are calories is a problem.

One of my commenters (I love comments!) mentioned a pill that was featured on ABC. I did a LOT of research (I’m a librarian) and found that reviews are VERY mixed, and it is expensive. However, in the interest of being unbiased, I let the comment stand. The pill is part of a MLM though- Amway-style.

At its heart, Daily Burn IS gluten free breadish free,and calories in calories out, but their apps suck. The Daily Burn videos and Gaiam are the best on Roku- with very different styles.  Daily Burn videos are much more modern.  It is like you get all of the cool infomercial videos without paying infomercial prices, which is really nice.

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Sleep Stealers: The Fears That Make Bedtime Challenging

There are many reasons that bedtime is terrifying for a child.  Darkness, monsters, night terrors, nightmares, separation anxiety – the list of possibilities can seem daunting to a new parent.  It is incredibly easy to give up and allow your child to stay awake until he is too tired to resist sleep any longer.  However, building good sleep habits when children are young is not only one of the best things a parent can do for their child’s health, but it also helps to ensure that children will be successful in school later.  According to a random sampling of kindergarten teachers surveyed, 10% of all kindergarten students fall asleep in class (www.med.umich.edu).  Here’s a quick guide to the most common bedtime menaces, and more importantly, excellent tips from experts on the best ways to tackle the perils of nighttime.

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1.  Night terrors.  Night terrors are very different than nightmares.  Night terrors typically happen within the first few hours of falling asleep, when a child reaches the deepest stage of sleep before REM sleep kicks in (www.nightterrors.org).  Night terrors are abstract snapshots that cause fear and are most common among children between the ages of three and five.  Whereas children will remember a nightmare after waking, they will not remember the subject of a night terror.  A child will typically wake up screaming.  There is no cure for night terrors, they will usually just go away.  It is perfectly safe to wake a child when they are having a night terror, and the best thing to do is just hug the child and reassure him.  Don’t yell at a child when he wakes from a night terror, and keep in mind that he will be disoriented and upset for five to twenty minutes after waking.

5363751208_0f4459eb1c_z2. Nightmares.  Nightmares occur during REM sleep, and unlike night terrors, usually tell a story.  Nightmares can be remembered the next day.  The good thing about nightmares is that when they are properly dealt with, they can help a parent to better understand their child.  The key to dealing with nightmares is a four-step approach, also called “The Four R’s” (www.athealth.com).  The Four R’s consist of:

  • Reassurance
  • Rescripting
  • Rehearsal
  • Resolution

Reassurance is most important for helping the child to understand that it was just a dream, and cannot hurt them.  Offering your child your shoulder to cry on after they wake from a nightmare shows your child that you love them and that they are safe.  Reassuring your child after a nightmare can serve a dual purpose in helping to build a deeper bond between your child and you.

During rescripting, you are collaboratively brainstorming with your child to rewrite the nightmare.  Try to give the nightmare a happy ending, or make the scary characters in the nightmare less intimidating in creative ways.  For example, a two-headed monster becomes much less daunting when it is hopping along on one leg and it’s best friend just so happens to be your child’s favorite cartoon character’s best friend.  Perhaps the two-headed monster (whom you can rename Fred) could take your child to his best friend’s house so that they can meet.  Now the cause of the nightmare has become a hero rather than an antagonist.

Rehearsal includes coming up with ways that your child can thwart the villain in the nightmare.  Act out the rescripted storyline with your child.  Make it fun.  Create “sets” in your living room and let your child jump around and slay the demon.  Once he sees he can do it while he’s awake, he will think that slaying the demon in the nightmare is a piece of cake.

Resolution includes reminding your child of the new, fun, storylines that came from their nightmares before they go to sleep.  Help your child to resolve to use his new strategies after he falls asleep.

images3.  Fear of the Dark.  It is normal for toddlers to begin to fear the dark around two or three, when cognitive abilities develop.  Quakeroatmeal.com suggests adding a night-light, searching for monsters and securing the bedroom before lights out, and not watching violent television, especially before bed.  One interesting suggestion is to comfort your child, but don’t overdo it.  It is always a good thing to cuddle your child and to whisper comforting words.  However, if you give your child too much of that, he may begin to think that there really is something to be worried about.

good_morning_by_egyptian_sands-d59xcyu4.  Separation Anxiety.  Again, this is a very normal stage that babies and toddlers experience.  When your child feels separation anxiety before bed, the best thing to do is to give your child some much-needed cuddle time.  Spend extra time nurturing and having fun in the hour before bedtime.  At bedtime, read a story and sit with your child for a few minutes.  Tuck your child in to bed slowly.  Do not, however, stay in your child’s bedroom until he falls asleep.  This only exacerbates the problem (www.babycenter.com).

Sometimes, the symptoms are so slight that it is easy to miss them.  Sleep deprivation is not only unhealthy for a child, it is usually the biggest way that these fears manifest themselves in your child’s daytime routine.  The most common indicators of sleep deprivation are falling asleep in the car whenever it begins to move, needing to be waken almost every morning instead of waking naturally, seeming irritable, cranky, overtired, aggressive, overemotional, or hyperactive, and “crashing” much earlier than the usual bedtime on some nights (www.med.umich.edu).  If you detect any of these symptoms, chances are good that one of the above fears isn’t too far behind.

Many of a child’s fears center around nighttime, but the recurring theme for curing your child of these fears is one of love.  Cuddling and showing your child that he is loved and cared for is the best medicine to cure most of the common fears that children experience.  However, always talk with your doctor when things don’t seem right.

NOTE: I wrote this a few years ago, when my older son was having night terrors.  Now that I am having a hard time getting my younger son to sleep in his own room, I pulled it back out and thought I’d share.  Funny how these things come back around!  If you are dealing with this stuff for the first time, please know- this too shall pass. 🙂

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