Children and Kids articles catalog


The Best Way to Reduce Stress: Start Young - By Zach Brull


Would we, as adults, be so reliant on drugs and anti-depressants to get us through the day if we had learned how to effectively cope with stress when we were kids? Dr. Nadeane McCaffrey, PhD believes that the dependence on anti-depressants exhibited by many adults has a lot to do with the lack of life skill training they received as children.

?Most people never learned practical coping skills for reducing the anxiety caused by their daily stressors.? says Dr. McCaffrey, ?As a result they turn to outside sources for relief. What they don?t know is that with the right techniques, a person can look inward to simply, naturally, and effectively reduce and cope with stress on a daily basis.?

Dr. McCaffrey, a Sports Psychologist for the past 15 years, has co-developed a program that aims to teach these natural coping skills to children. The idea, of course, is to show kids how to use their minds and bodies as natural stress fighters, and reinforce these skills so the children will carry them into their adult years. Aptly titled the Feeling Great Life Skills Program, any child or teen between the ages of 5 and 16 can benefit. The program lasts 90 days and uses both an Instruction and Activity book, plus two CDs filled with exercises and games to get the message across. A parent, teacher or healthcare worker acts as an instructor, guiding the child through the program. However, kids in their teenage years may opt to participate in the program by themselves.

The program?s development goes back nearly 20 years. At that time, Dr. McCaffrey?s only daughter, Danielle, was undergoing treatment for Leukemia (ALL), and the daily stress her daughter endured as a result of the treatments was agonizing. Tragically, Danielle succumbed to her fight with Cancer, but Dr. McCaffrey did not forget about her daughter?s fight, and felt that other children would benefit if they learned techniques to help them cope with the inherent anxiety of treatment. Drawing on her experience as a Sports Psychologist, Dr. McCaffrey co-developed the Program, employing the techniques of the best of the best in sport, medicine, the arts, and aerospace. She felt that if children could develop a more positive mind-set and find a constructive way to cope with the necessary treatments, they would ultimately heal better and more quickly, and would ultimately suffer less from the treatments.

Over time, Dr. McCaffrey recognized that the techniques her program taught were inherently universal, and could be used by children from all walks of life, not just oncology patients. From there, the program was adjusted to incorporate exercises that emphasized goal setting and greater visualization skills geared towards achievement, while maintaining the original goal of helping children deal effectively with their daily stressors, thus decreasing the amount of anxiety they felt. The result was the current Feeling Great Life Skills Program.

The Feeling Great Life Skills Program was tested on over 3000 kids in the Ottawa (Canada) Elementary School system in the mid 1990?s, and the results were fantastic. The students, as well as the teachers, found the program helped them relax. Moreover, the children had fun with the activities and exercises, and this encouraged them to practice the techniques the program demonstrated. Through their feedback, Dr. McCaffrey discovered that the program helped many of the children feel better and reduced their worries and overall stress levels. Best of all, the teachers found that the program had a wonderful ?settling? effect on the children and improved their ability to focus on their school work and calm themselves when presented with a stressful situation, such as tests, presentations, performances, and competitions.

The Feeling Great Life Skills Program is currently available on the web at The site provides plenty of information about the program as well as the years of study and research that went into it. It is Dr. McCaffrey?s hope that as many children as possible will get the chance to experience the program, so they may learn skills that will help them in their childhood and adult years for improving their Quality of Life.

Dr. Nadeane McCaffrey was born in Cobar, Australia in 1953 and ?attended? School of the Air (radio) while living on a large sheep station (250,000 acres) in the Outback of New South Wales. In 1961, her father, a World War II veteran, was allocated a farm outside the town of Esperance, in Western Australia. Nadeane completed her primary schooling there before going to boarding school in Perth to finish her secondary education.

Nadeane?s university degrees include a BPHE (Hons) from Laurentian University in Sudbury, Canada, a Master of Science (Sport Psychology) from Ottawa University, Ottawa, Canada, and a PhD (Education) from the University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia. Her doctoral thesis research was based on the development and evaluation of a Stress Control Life Skills program for children with cancer. The results confirmed the program?s success in reducing oncology childrens? daily stressors, and verifed that adherents were empowered to enjoy an enhanced quality of life. Nadeane?s doctoral thesis also received the Honour of Distinction, making her only the third University of Western Australia graduate in the last 75 years from the Faculty of Education to receive such an award.

Since the mid 1980?s Dr. McCaffrey has consulted with athletes from Canada, the United States, and Australia. On several occasions she has worked with the Canadian Military then stationed in Lahrs, Germany, assisting with their mental training skills for Boeslager and CAT competitions. She has lectured at the University of Ottawa, teaching a course in Sport Psychology. From 1992-1998 she founded and directed children?s camps in Ottawa, which focused on building confidence, and teaching life skills and mental training to approximately 400 youngsters each summer. The three different camps, Free to be Me, Future Pro (Golf skills), and Feeling Great, all proved to be highly successful in teaching children how to be ?The Best You Can Be?. During this same time period, Nadeane was the research coordinator for a large educational Stress Control Program involving over 3,000 students from various schools under the jurisdiction of the Ottawa Board of Education.

Following the death of Danielle, her only child, to cancer in 1985, Nadeane dedicated her studies and work towards helping oncology children and their parents to better cope with their daily stressors. She has conducted countless workshops for children, teachers, parents, and hospital professionals, introducing them to the Stress Control Program, and to the techniques employed to achieve an improved quality of life.

Dr. McCaffrey is the co-author of the Feeling Great Lifeskills Program Guidebook and Logbook, and the Feeling Great CDs. She has recently developed a teen/adolescent version, which has been incorporated into the Feeling Great Lifeskills Program, which is similarly geared to helping individuals reach their Human Potential, to Enjoy Life to the Fullest, and to be ?The Best they can Be?. Nadeane and her Canadian husband presently divide their time between Ottawa and Perth.

Developing a Successful Joint Custody Arrangement - By Reena Sommer, Ph.D.


You`ve finally got your divorce decree and you feel you can now breathe a big sigh of relief. You may even be thinking, "no more divorce attorneys, no more divorce negotiations and no more custody battles!! - I can finally get on with my life without my ex."

For the most part, you are right - your professional relationship with your divorce attorney is over, and you are now in a better position to make decisions about your future. However, here is the rub! As a parent in a joint custody arrangement, your relationship with your ex-spouse will continue as long as your children are part of both of your lives.This reality check often comes as a huge shock to parents who are newly divorced. After all, the reason they chose to end their marriage was because they didn`t get along and wanted to get away from each other. What now!

Well, there is life after divorce, even for a joint custodial parent. The challenge for couples is to redefine their relationships and to develop cooperative co-parenting plans based on their shared concerns for their children.

In redefining a relationship, former spouses need to make some important shifts in thinking and feeling. An area of difficulty for many couples is making the shift from being emotionally married to being emotionally divorced; moving from a relationship based on intimacy to one that is more businesslike in nature.

The major problems lie in the area of personal boundaries. People make the mistake of feeling that they still have the same call on each other as they did while married. For example, an ex wife may feel she is still entitled to know with whom her ex husband spends his time or how he spends his money. Likewise, an ex husband may feel he can still comment on how his ex wife parks the car or wears her hair. Once divorced, these issues should be of no concern to either ex partner. In essence, they are simply "none of each other`s business". When couples are able to make this

shift in thinking and feeling, the old buttons that could be pushed, no longer work.. The emotional divorce is then complete.

In developing an effective and cooperative co-parenting plan, the following should be considered:

* Each parent must recognize the other parent as being competent to care for the children and to have their best interests in mind

* Each parent must be willing to give the other parent full authority to care for the children while they are in his/her care

* Each parent must recognize that any criticism of the other parent made in the presence of the children is destructive and detrimental to their well-being

* Each parent must be willing and able to put their personal feelings aside when communicating with the other regarding the children

* Each parent must put their children`s need for love, safety and security above their own needs.

When people are able to meet these challenges, they will experience the following benefits of being a joint custodial parent:

* Having the peace of mind that their children are being cared for by someone who loves them and will place their interests above all

* Having the time to devote to one`s own personal interests without being concerned about the well-being of the children

* Knowing that there is someone to share problems and concerns that may arise regarding the children

A joint custody arrangement can transform a once flawed marital relationship into a productive parenting effort where neither person feels that he or she is a "single" parent.

Copyright Reena Sommer 2000

Dr. Reena Sommer is an internationally recognized divorce consultant and author. She was featured on CTV National News and was recently a consultant to the Rick Sanchez Show in South Florida.

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