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Verbal Aikido for Youth – Manage Verbal Attacks Peacefully and Effectively

Luke ArcherStephen - 1Verbal Aikido is a means of communication that enables the practitioner to transform verbal attacks, both effectively and peacefully. This philosophy comes from the Japanese martial art of Aikido that seeks to transform ‘attackers’ into training partners. It’s a fun and easy-to-learn approach that can be learned from ages as young as 5 years old. Regular practice of Verbal Aikido considerably increases self-esteem, altruism, and the confidence to manage conflict in a self-affirming and harmonious manner.              [display_podcast] Read, Listen, Share »

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Back to School and Back to the Rules: Setting Boundaries with Technology

cc0publicdomainstudentsonphonesThe months of August and September bring many changes to the lives of students. As summer winds down and a schedule is back in order, students of all ages are challenged with the task to set boundaries for themselves, especially with technology. While young children have to have boundaries set forth by them for parents, those in middle school, high school, and college students, also have troubles battling with the distractions of computers, phones, I-pods, and other technical devices. This can become a serious issue as many students, including myself, begin to feel a constant need to look at their devices, due to the compelling desire to stay plugged in with the rest of the world. Sometimes this world can be a place of learning and outlet, and other times, it can be a real addiction, that again, causes serious issues. As Andrew Hough from the Telegraph reports in his online article: Student ‘addiction’ to technology ‘similar to drug cravings’, study finds, there are many symptoms of this addiction that are truly evident in students’ lives. As he again notes in his article, a study of 1,000 students from several countries, such as America, Britain, and China, showed that many students experienced cravings like that of a drug addict while abandoning technology for just one day. He refers to a secondary article to discuss the actual results of the mentioned study, entitled: Facebook Generation Suffers Information Withdrawal Symptoms, in which science correspondent Richard Gray discusses the exact work of the researchers in this endeavor. Richard Gray refers to the work of Dr. Roman Gerondimos, a communication lecturer from the UK, who saw both psychological and physical symptoms in his UK participants during an experiment. The experiment was called “Unplugged”, and was conducted by University of Maryland’s International Centre for Media and the Public Agenda, and the results can be found here.  The article again discusses that Dr. Gerondimos believes that this addiction, faced by individuals, is real and pervasive and must be both acknowledged and addressed for the future.

I personally have been prone to addiction with technology, which is why I want to address the importance of setting boundaries for oneself, one’s children and for students in general, since this addiction to technology can really get in the way of your studies. It can definitely impact both the quality of education and life for students. More recently, I have tried to go without constantly checking my phone, email, and social media, and I start getting really antsy and nervous. This is not how I want to live my life forever, so I have been doing some self-reflection on what can be done in order to better my life. So, I would like to offer some tips to students, parents, and teachers in order to curb the addiction to technology and set real boundaries to address this phenomenon:

  • Set a real and strategic time limit for young children using technology when they are first exposed. In this strategy, it sets them up for a routine and teaches discipline in their technology usage. Explain why it is important for them to have a time limit, also, so that they can reason why they have to stop at a specific time.
  • Define your technology expectations with pre-teen and teenage students in a very clear and succinct manner. It’s important to help them understand thoroughly what you want them to do or not do on a regular basis. Some teenagers may be more autonomous with their technology usage than the younger kids and so this may involve more in-depth explanations of what is expected and the possible consequences if they don’t respect the needs.
  • Keep a journal of the time you spend using technology, such as your phone, internet, TV, Apps, games, etc. If you are a college or a university student, maintaining boundaries is generally important to give space for other leisure-related, work-related, and school-related activities. With the journal, you can re-evaluate how much time is wasted online, and decide where you can cut back and what you would gain if you had that extra time to spend on friends, family or school activities.

Again, I know how hard it is to break away from the tech world and our addiction to it. However, it becomes necessary to preserve our sense of who we are and to guard our precious time. It is my hope that these tips have helped readers to ponder the importance of setting technology boundaries.

Enjoy your additional time now!

Ann Margaret Zelenka

Graduate Student Intern

University of Baltimore

Negotiations and Conflict Management M.S. Program

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New School, New Beginnings – Helping Your Child Navigate Changing Schools

school-bus-600270_1280Moving for both adults and children can be a very exciting time, but it can also be very stressful for a child who is switching schools. Schools will be back in session soon, and students will be flooding the hallways, optimism floating in the air for the new year ahead. If you have recently moved, and you have a child switching schools, this time, can be both thrilling and anxiety ridden.

I had to switch schools twice when I was a kid when my family moved. The first time, I started third grade at a new elementary school. It wasn’t as big of a deal because the school was in the same county as my previous one and in third grade, I adjusted quickly – I say this only because I don’t recall any terrible moments about starting at a new school.  The second time was a very different experience; I started eighth grade at a new middle school in a new county.

My experience the second time was not nearly as smooth as the first. Middle school is an awkward phase for most kids, and I felt unnerved walking through the doors on my first day of eighth grade. I didn’t know anyone, and as I observed the students around me hugging their friends and catching up on their summer vacations, I felt an immense longing for my old friends. I also was behind on the curriculum; I remember the first day of math class, the teacher gave a refresher of what they had learned the previous year and my old school had only briefly touched on the subject. I vividly remember on my first day, I had gotten lost trying to find my class and was late getting to the welcome back assembly. Once I did get there, I had to walk in front of all my new classmates to find a seat on the bleachers; I was so embarrassed about getting lost and being late that once I sat, I just started to cry.

The good news is I survived – it was difficult, but I think moving helped me to become more confident in new situations. So parents what can you do to ensure this transition is a win/win for everyone? Using a list written by GreatSchools Staff, I pulled the tips I thought to be the most helpful.

  1. Take a Trial Run. When you’re in elementary, a lot of schools, have a meet the teacher day before school starting. However, once students get older many schools stop doing this; therefore, speak to the office and see if you can arrange a tour of the school and a meeting with your child’s teacher. By doing this, your child will get a feel for their surroundings and what to expect which can reduce the child’s anxiety.
  2. Encourage School Involvement“. I support this because it wasn’t something I did. When I switched schools the second time, I was deeply unhappy about the move and resentful of my parents. Therefore, I recoiled from student activities and limited my social interactions with my classmates at my new school. Instead, I spent just about every weekend at my best friend’s house where I use to live which restricted my ability to meet and make new friends.
  3. Keep a positive focus“. It is crucial that you have an open dialogue with your child about what they are thinking and feeling about starting at a new school. The more specific, the better, that way you can work with them to generate solutions to ensure they have a positive experience.

My last tip is one I thought of myself that I wish I had had the second time around.

  1. Get a buddy. Reach out to the new school and inquire about a buddy system or a particular student who could show your child the ropes on the first day. Walking into a new school was scary, and I think if I had had a someone to walk with me I wouldn’t have been as scared.

Have a good weekend,

Abigail R.C. McManus


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Hello, My Name Is… and I am a Procrastinator – Tips on How to Manage the Challenges of Putting Things Off During the School Year!

the-eleventh-hour-1254207_1920Have you ever waited until the last minute to complete a task?  Do you recall a moment where you were rushing to finish a project, paper, etc. the night before it was due?  You may be a procrastinator.

Merriam- Webster defines procrastinate as ” to be slow or late about doing something that should be done: to delay doing something until a later time because you do not want to do it because you are lazy, etc.

I always said back in my school days that I procrastinated because I worked best under pressure. I have heard many other fellow procrastinators say the same thing; however, if I examined why I delayed the inevitable I believe it boils down to two main reasons.

  1. I’m scared of failing.
  2. I don’t know where to begin.

If I fear failure, as I often have my entire life I limit myself from trying altogether. Back when I was in school, I would push off a paper because I feared I would get a poor grade on the assignment, especially if that mark would make up a huge chunk of my final grade. Hindsight is always 20/20- I recognized putting off a paper or project out of fear of getting a poor grade was correlating to me getting a poor grade. If I had jumped into the paper or project, I could have had more time to work on it which would have only assisted in getting me a better mark.

The second reason I would put off school projects or papers was that I wouldn’t know where to begin. The biggest issue with waiting until the last minute because I didn’t know where to start, is that I couldn’t ask for help without the teacher knowing I had waited until the last minute. I could have asked for help if I had begun earlier, and the teacher would have been able to assist me if I was struggling with a starting point.

Procrastination may work out sometimes; I won’t pretend like it doesn’t; however, maintaining that approach may one day bite you in the butt. Therefore, how can procrastinators correct this bad habit, so it doesn’t cost you in the long run?

  1. Plan and Chunk: The best advice I ever received was to plan out your projects/papers/ etc. and break it into pieces. One issue procrastinators have (myself included) is they look at the big picture instead of all the little details and therefore, the task looks unmanageable. If you break the big picture down into small chunks, you then find yourself completing smaller more manageable tasks.
  2. List it out: Number One and Number Two go together. Once you have planned and chunked your project, write it all down so as you complete it you can check it or cross it off your list. I have found it to be the best feeling in the world when you can cross an item off your list and visibly see your list getting smaller.
  3. Turn off distractions: I remember when I was writing my Master’s thesis, I would put my phone on “Do Not Disturb” mode so no one could text or call me. While it was a challenge, it helped me to stay focused. Procrastinators need to remove any and all distractions. By doing so they will be able to stay more focused.
  4. Treat Yourself: Give yourself an incentive to complete the task, whether at different milestones or when it is all done. It will make doing the work more enjoyable and gives you something to look forward to as you complete the project/paper/etc.

Procrastinators delay completing tasks for different reasons, take a moment and examine why you procrastinate? I challenge you to figure out what works best for you to complete your tasks. Don’t make procrastination a bad habit you can’t shake!


Have a great week,

Abigail R. C. McManus M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management


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Back To School or Back to the Broom Closet?

CC0 public domain no attribution required cleaningManaging life, in general, can be tough for some people. Living by oneself can produce a mile long list of things to do… cleaning, cooking, decorating, shopping, or even enjoying activities. As the new school year approaches, many of you will leave home, enter college and live with strangers, your new college roommates. Some of you will remain home and live with family as you attend classes.  Frankly, there will be very different explanations, opinions and even arguments about how these tasks should happen,  who is responsible, if responsibilities should be delegated, or if one person is expected to  be primarily responsible for everything.

Are you the responsible one feeling the burden for delegating or picking up after everyone? Of maybe, you relied on your parents to pick up and clean after you having never learned this responsibility of sharing household chores. As you transition into your college years whether you live in a dorm or an apartment with roommates, or live at home, be aware of this possible imbalance and view that everyone shares the same standard of cleanliness you grew up with at home. This assumption about your roommate or family member can lead to conflict over responsibilities especially of mutually shared spaces such as the bathroom, living room or kitchen.

While I have not lived with college roommates, I have dealt with my family, who more often than not, leave everything to me to clean up. For me, it has been quite a challenge to live with this lifestyle, and to accept this environment. If you are like me, the one who needs clutter free and a clean home environment, you may have to learn to walk away even when you feel the need to clean up after your roommates, so you don’t lose time or energy better devoted to your studies.  This struggle with chores causes a lot of tension between me and adult family members taking away valuable time from my academic focus.  So, I have had to make concessions and figure out how to best navigate these situations, and these strategies may be helpful to you as you get ready for living the college life.   I have several suggestions regarding managing expectations of chores and preventing conflict in these types of situations, especially within college dorm settings or other similar settings:

  • The moment you begin living with college roommates or other folks (or before if you can) define how each of you would like for your home to look and determine how willing each of you are to respect the other’s wishes. If you discover your roommate does not share the same standard of cleanliness, then you can either give it some time to see how things really present itself, or you may have to eventually reconsider your choice of roommates and move to another place.
  • Together, create a list of items to do and place this on the shared refrigerator. If it works that people can follow the chores list, this will prove helpful. If not, use this list as a means to enter into another conversation.
  • If both of these tips fail and you find yourself doing the bulk of the chores with anger and resentment you can either 1) resign to cleaning (after all, it is your standard, not theirs, you are trying to maintain), or 2) not do anything in the joint space. This takes a great deal of patience and letting go of standards. Sometimes, if the shared space stays dirty and unsightly long enough, you might find they can’t stand it themselves either and they will pick up. This may seem like reverse psychology, however, sometimes it motivates people to move towards betterment without fighting or being up in arms. The key here is if your roommate does finally clean up DO acknowledge their effort and DON’T be sarcastic. You want to reward good behavior.

Finally, life should not be just about the chores. For me, it is not fair for one person to do everything. So, if you’re starting to feel like a maid/butler, then it’s time to set boundaries and tell your roommates or family members how you feel. Life obviously isn’t perfect.  However, it is important to communicate your need for a basic standard of living and encourage a mutually shared space that promotes well-being and uplifting circumstances.

Have a good week,

Ann Margaret Zelenka

Graduate Student Intern

University of Baltimore

Negotiations and Conflict Management M.S. Program

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Graduate Student Stressors: Resolving Conflict and Meeting Expectations

Darlene R Johnsonzena Zumeta







The University of Michigan’s Rackham School of Graduate Studies has created a position of Resolution Officer which is responsible for assisting graduate students and faculty members who have issues and conflicts with each other to resolve those conflicts.  The Resolution Officer works directly with both faculty and students, and also facilitates conversations between them and mediates.  Her job includes counseling students about available options, supporting students through difficult situations, and connecting students to appropriate resources.             [display_podcast]

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Waltzing With Wolverines: Working With “Troubled” Teens


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Mark AndreasStephen - 1Join us to learn the key principles to building relationship and trust with any teenager, whether “troubled” or not. Want to know how to set effective boundaries, how to avoid ever getting into a power control battle, and how to have a whole lot of fun in the process? In a job where the average length of employment is measured in months, and many last only weeks, Mark Andreas not only survived but thrived while working round-the- clock with troubled teens. Whether you are a parent, a teacher, a youth leader, or anyone wanting to connect with and support the teens in your life, come learn how to build relationships that are simultaneously more empowering for you and the teens you work with.     [display_podcast]  Read, Listen, Share »

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The Future is Now: Students Using Technology to Expand Peer Mediation


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Cindy Morton-2Kristen WoodwardKaren DeVooge

  For decades, Peer Mediation Programs have helped students all over the world resolve conflicts. The Online Peer Mediation Platform is on the cutting edge, combining technology and peer mediation, breathing new life into programs.  Learn more about the project’s goals, resources and how you can get involved in this innovative opportunity!
                                                                                                                                                                                  Connect on Facebook, YouTube
                       Online Peer Mediation Project
Call To Action:  View Media Resources
           Educators and Trainers interested in online peer mediation, can request a video
           conference for more information by contacting our team via the website.      [display_podcast]

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Siblings That Squabble Don’t Have To Punch and Shout



Summer is ending and the school year draws near. Our kids have had lots of fun times together. Siblings can be the best of friends, but conflict and disagreements are also a natural part of their ever-changing relationships. We may not always realize it, but we have many ways to help our kids learn how to “fight fair” – to work out disagreements without punching or shouting.

Join me and my returning guest, Parent Coach Janet Bonnin of Fine-Tuned Families. We will dive into a great discussion with many tips and ideas you can take to head off big “blow ups” and guide constructive communication. We will also be joined by a super mother of eight, Maggie Luevano, and two of her kids who are part of the Hill Country musical group, “Mariachi ‘L'”. Maggie and her kids will share stories of growing up in this fantastic family, a brief history of the group’s formation, and how the family has dealt with sibling disagreements over the years. Don’t miss this great conversation!      [display_podcast]
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Conflict Chat…Teaching Children Responsibility with Consequences


Pattie8Abigail - smallerGot Conflict? If you have a conflict with someone and are not sure how to handle it, then let us know. Here is your opportunity to ask your question with Conflict Management experts who are mediators, conflict coaches and facilitators on how to think about, analyze or resolve your situation.

Think about it. Are you currently engaged in an active conflict with your co-workers or boss? Ignoring your neighbor because of a conversation you don’t want to have? In a disagreement with your spouse? Or simply afraid to bring up a concern with a friend in fear of stirring up problems.


Discussion Topics:

Using Natural and Logical Consequences

Explanation of:  Natural and Logical Consequences


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