Posts for Kidpower

101 Reasons to #CelebrateGirlhood

Go Girl! - Allison Kenny - September 6, 2016

Girls can shine
They can make messes
They can make trouble
Girls can get dirty
They can make money
They can make movies
They can make you laugh
Girls can rise strong
Be fierce
Be gentle
Code
Stand up for each other
Girls can care for animals
Be mindful
And see the beauty in everything
Girls can wear their crown
Say no

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Ride bikes in skirts
Girls make worms into friends
They choreograph Thanksgiving Day dances
And feed their lizards
Girls can smile, or not
Girls insist on justice
Remember the underdog
Perform a wedding ceremony for their yorkie and chihuahua
Girls make potions from sunflower petals and apples
Spell words out of sticks
Girls can be born with boy parts
Question being a girl
Question authority
Girls can be curious
Cut their own hair
Dye their bangs purple
Rip Barbie’s head off
Girls put lavender oil in their bath
Speak out of turn
Ask for what they want
Yell to get help
Girls win championships
They can be mean and stop being mean

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Girls ask for forgiveness
They can let it go
Girls can believe in fairies
Tell the truth
Spit a phat rhyme
They can walk away from gossip
Intuit the future
Start the conversation
Girls can love their brown skin
Love their curly hair
Love their freckles
Love their glasses
Love their round body
Love their skinny legs
Love their big feet
Love their bellies
Girls can rock short hair
Learn all the words to Hamilton
Recover from embarrassment
Girls win gold medals
They can act confident even when they don’t feel it
They can say “I’m smart, too” when strangers tells them “You’re pretty”

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They can love other girls
Girls start movements
They learn to use their words instead of their fists
They invent new technologies
They can start over in a new home
They can be scared and do it anyway
Girls jump off a diving board into the deep end
They can gut a fish
They can set boundaries
Girls can read books for hours
They can be part of a group
They give and receive love
They have big feelings
They write stories about unicorns and witches
Wear a suit and tie
Speak many languages
Girls can understand their privilege
Girls can insist on being seen
Girls can take up space
They can run barefoot in the dirt
They can pretend to be Beyonce
Girls can learn the dances of their ancestors
Wear bells on their ankles
Travel the world
Girls can learn differently
They can talk with their hands
Use wheels to walk
Girls can believe they are amazing
Take the power out of rude words
Grow up to be themselves
Girls can choose friends that are good to them
Teach people how to treat them
Believe their ideas matter
Girls grow gardens
Jump rope
Gaze at the stars
Girls can notice the moon
And take center stage

 

Want more chances to #celebrategirlhood? Bring your family to the Spotlight: Girls Telling Event. I can’t wait to get on stage with other amazing tellers and share real life moments from our girlhood.

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Dear Kids at School

Forever Family, Go Girl! - Allison Kenny - August 30, 2016

Dear Kids at School,

I know that when you see my little girl, you notice all the ways she is different from you. You see her glasses and her funny walk. You notice that she talks fast and loud, that she grabs the stuff from your hands without asking, how she sometimes tells everybody what to do. You see that it doesn’t take much to make her cry or make her mad or make her break the rules.  You notice that she is different than you. A different race. Has a different kind of family. Gets pulled from class for special ed. Why is she so weird…right? That’s what you want to know. Why is she so different?

Well, these aren’t the only things that make her unique. If you look closely, she has other qualities that might be harder to see. When you say hi, she’ll never ever ignore you. She’ll never leave you outside her house and say you can’t come in to play. She’d never ever want you to feel forgotten. In fact, my girl goes out of her way to make everyone feel special all the time. It’s her superpower. At home, she likes to put the toothpaste on the toothbrush for me and leave it out. A little surprise for me to find at bedtime. She leaves me notes and treasures and drawings of hearts that I find all over the house.  When our dogs were scared of the doggy door, she invented a contraption to hold it open for them. The first time she rode a horse, she petted it and kissed it and thanked it for the ride. You see, my girl’s heart is bigger than the heart of most people. That’s what actually makes her different. She’s sweeter than most. We could all learn something from her.

Another superpower she has is courage. She’s braver than most. Did you know the school you all go to is her 5th school in 4 years? She had to be brave and start over with new classrooms, new teachers and new kids every time. She did the same thing with families. Can you imagine walking into the house of brand new parents when you were 6 years old? Seeing your new room for the first time and wondering what this life would be like? Learning to trust brand new mommies and let them take care of you? That’s what my girl did. She had the courage to start a whole new life in a brand new town.  She had to say good-bye to everyone and everything she knew before. These are big good-byes. She had to have the courage to feel all those sad feelings and let her heart break so it could start to heal.

I can’t end this letter without talking about how hard my daughter works. You know that math packet you just got for 2nd grade homework? The same page of problems that takes you 15 minutes, takes her an hour. Oh no…it’s not because she is dumb. It’s because she was born 4 months early. Totally not her fault! But when kids are born early, their brains don’t get enough time to grow so they learn differently. Can you believe she never gives up? She doesn’t get to. She just has to work harder and harder- yes, harder than you so that she can learn the same things. She also works hard at making friends. She didn’t get to see people being good to each other when she was little, so she didn’t learn about things like sharing or taking turns like you did. She works very hard at this. She has a coach who comes every week and helps her learn to play well. She’s getting better and better at it. She has to work harder than most kids to do things like chew her food, tie her shoes, or even understand directions the teacher gives her. Pretty much all day, she’s working super hard to do things that most of you can do with no problem.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could cheer her on? What would it be like if she knew you were rooting for her instead of teasing her or leaving her out? What if you could see her sweetness, her courage, how hard she works?  What if you could help her along instead of push her down? I bet you’d feel good about yourself then. You could be so proud to know you were a good friend and accepted someone who is different than you. It would mean the world to her and  you…well, you would get a lot out of it, too. When we open our hearts and act kindly, we get to be happy. We get to be connected. We get to have more fun. How does that sound? You with me?

I can’t wait to see what you decide to do.

All the best,

Allison
Go Girls! Co-Founder
Kidpower Instructor
Mama

P.S. Speaking of having more fun,  join me in Berkeley on Sept 25th and see me perform live on stage. I’ll be celebrating magic and power we all have to be ourselves. Go Girls!  New to my blog? Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

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10 Ways to Respond When Your Kid Disrespects You

Forever Family, Go Girl!, Self-care - Allison Kenny - August 22, 2016

Ever feel like a punching bag in your own home? When I’m faced with eye rolling, furniture kicking, hands over ears, screaming in my face or a disgusted tone of voice, I do my best to respond without throwing a tantrum myself…which is not easy for me. Here are the phrases I practice and use like a script to keep from throwing my daughter’s toys in the trash or cursing like a sailor.

“I wonder why you’re not listening to me…”

“I’m turning my ears right off to that.”

“I don’t listen when people talk to me that way.”

“Wow. You seem really angry. Please don’t take it out on me.”

“I’m sorry you’re mad, and stop.”

“I’m happy to listen when you’re calm.”

“I’m starting to get angry. I need some space to breathe and get calm.”

“I won’t listen when you’re yelling.”

“That was rude. Would you like a do-over?”

“Please try that again with a respectful voice.”

I want my daughter to feel powerful and know how to stand up against violence. But when she uses her power to yell, kick or fight back when I’m simply asking her brush her teeth, it’s a misuse of her power. I believe it’s my job to teach her how to treat me and others. I try to be super flexible in all other areas of my parenting, but this is a battle I will pick every time. She cannot disrespect her parents. Period.

How do you keep your girls strong and ready to fight for themselves while also keeping the peace and expecting respect?

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I said F&%K to My Kid This Weekend—Here’s Why!

Go Girl! - Allison Kenny - November 16, 2015

"Jenga" Mara Tr.

The Scene: A 7-year-old girl and her new adoptive mommy are sitting on the carpet, playing Jenga in their pajamas. Puppies are sleeping on the couch nearby. Mommy is thinking of getting up to take a shower, when the little girl says…

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The Squirrel finds the Squirrels

squirrels

Our good friends, Doug & Johnny, who gave us last week’s date night, have given us many gifts over the last 6 months.  One of which was this amazing set of squirrels in honor of our own little Squirrel.  Like a squirrel hoarding her nuts, I have kept these little cuties locked up tight.  Mine!  I didn’t want her to have them.

This morning, she found them.  I told her, “Doug and Johnny saw them and were reminded of me.  You know…how I like to call you “Squirrel” sometimes.  She smiled.  She loved that.

Dammit.

She played with them for sooooooo long.  In fact, I left her with them to take my shower and, as I am coming out of the shower, I hear Allison’s voice say:

“No hitting.  Hitting hurts.  Please stop.”

…and…

“You two have to work on your relationship problems.”

…and…

“Even though you are hitting, you are still a good squirrel and I love you.”

She had entered into an imaginative play scenario where the two squirrels were fighting.  Allison grabbed my stuffed elephant, Mai Tai, and made her the teacher, helping them work through the conflict.  Not only did the Squirrel immediately take to these new toys, she was able to access that magical inner wisdom that kids get and use the squirrels to get to work playing through her own hitting issues at school.

Oh. My. God.

Well, I guess I may have to give up my squirrels to the Squirrel.  They are clearly her power animal.   At least I still have Mai Tai.

me and mai tai

She can’t take her away from me.

 

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I’m sorry my kid beat the sh#t out of your kid

Foster/Adoption, Learning, Parenting - Allison Kenny - April 29, 2015

School is hard on lots of kids. I know it. For a long time, my work during the school year was to run friendship circles for girls, present Kidpower in classrooms, and provide social/emotional support during recess. I see what happens when kids get over or under stimulated, when they don’t have enough tools for emotional processing or simply when supervision is limited. School can be a place where emotions run high and hitting feels like the only way.

michelle rodriguez girl fightStill, when I go to pick up the Squirrel from school and she’s in the office…again…my heart sinks. The secretary and her teacher have that harried look like they’ve tried everything and are at their wits end.

The hitting started back in January. Every once in a while, the Squirrel would lash out at a kid who did something she didn’t like. Then, it escalated. Pushing kids out of their chairs, kicking them on the ground, pinching, kicking other girls in the crotch, beating kids with hard plastic jump ropes, hitting the same girl over and over…this has been happening every single day. For months.  Her school threatened suspension. I didn’t know that could even happen in kindergarten.

What is causing this level of acting out? What do we do about it? How out of control she must feel.  Is it the environment? Her past trauma? Frustration over a learning disability? Being away from home too long? All of the above?

Of course, we had an SST with the principal, her teacher and our social worker. We all agreed that, as the Squirrel deepened her attachment to Lynn and I, being away from us for a whole school day, was just too much. She needed to be able to picture where we were and what we were doing. She needed to know we still existed. Like a toddler who circles back around to her mother’s lap 1000 times a day.

So I volunteered in the classroom more, presenting Kidpower skills every week to all the kindergartners. We set up a daily phone call for the Squirrel to hear our voices each morning and picture where we were. We gave stickers and special time with us for each day she kept her hands and feet to herself. We practiced great ways to deal with big feelings in therapy. We repeated how much we loved her and were there to help. Nothing, however, seemed to actually help. The daily beatdowns continued. And she was crying every morning and faking sick to get out of going to school at all.

Finally, our therapist suggested I stay at school with her for a few weeks, like a behavioral aid, and find out more about her triggers. Frustrated and exhausted, I agreed. I saw that the Squirrel behaves very much like a two year old in her classroom. She wants things her way and when they don’t match up, she freezes, fights or flees. It is heartbreaking. Our kid is nowhere near ready for school. There is not enough containment or support in a traditional classroom. And there is not enough mommy. She wanted to be in my lap all day. Being her aide wasn’t sustainable, of course. I lasted less than a week. But I learned a lot. And I switched to picking her at noon every day instead.

Investigating new schooling possibilities has been at the forefront these days. Public school? Private school? Charter school? Homeschooling is not allowed until we formally adopt her. We are not in charge of when that happens. Most folks who have been parents for 6 months don’t have to deal with school at all. I miss that opportunity to get to know my kid at home with the curtains drawn. No sad and sorry looks from teachers with the best intentions. No pressure for the kid to make friends before she actually knows how.

One morning after Spring Break, the Squirrel announced that she had decided not to hit anyone at school. Great choice! She’d never said anything like that. I admit, my hopes were up. Could it be this simple? Did all our interventions finally sink in? Sure enough, the hitting stopped. 4 days of no hitting. 5 days…I started picking her up 30 minutes later each day.

Yesterday, we got to pick up another little girl in class for carpool and the Squirrel was so happy she could barely stand it. They ran down to class together holding hands while I watched. This had never happened! Maybe we’ll make it through the next few weeks to summer and she’ll feel even the littlest bit connected and successful.

But the Squirrel was in the office when I came to pick her up later that day. She had pinched and hit and kicked the very same girl we picked up for carpool. I’m back to picking her up at noon. And I’m up at 4:30 in the morning writing this blog post.  I’m noticing how triggered I am about her hitting. I’m noticing how much I want her to “be a good girl” in school. Mostly, I’m just tired and out of answers. But I’ll help her write her apology card this morning and give it to her friend. I’ll help facilitate the repair and try to trust that at some point she will grow through this. However, I am so frustrated… I could hit someone.


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