Influencers and Worries… According to Kids! – PediaCast 419

Show Notes


  • Highlights magazine returns to PediaCast to talk about their annual State of the Kid Report. This year’s focus is “the influences and worries of a generation ready to stand up and do what’s right.” Editor-in-chief, Christine French Cully, shares survey results, while parenting coach and education expert, Jennifer Miller, unpacks insight and takeaways from the report. We hope you can join us!


  • Highlights Magazine – State of the Kid Report
  • Who Influences Children?
  • What Worries Kids?




Announcer 1: This is PediaCast.



Announcer 2: Welcome to PediaCast, a pediatric podcast for parents. And now, direct from the campus of Nationwide Children's, here is your host, Dr. Mike.

Dr. Mike Patrick: Hello everyone, and welcome once again to PediaCast. It is a pediatric podcast for moms and dads. This is Dr. Mike, coming to you from the campus of Nationwide Children's Hospital, which happens to be the nation's largest children's hospital. We are in Columbus, Ohio.

It is Episode 419 for November 28th, 2018. We're calling this one "Influencers and Worries… According to Kids!"

I want to welcome all of you to the program.

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and you were able to spend some time with family. Even if it wasn't actually on Thanksgiving Day, many folks work on Thanksgiving Day.

Those in the medical field, first responders, others in public service. And this particular holiday, lots of retail associates were also working. In fact, you may be the largest group of people working on Thanksgiving. Especially in the evening, and as you move into the morning hours.

But here's the important thing, I mean, like late night, early Black Friday morning hours. The important thing though is if you work on a holiday, hopefully, you had some time with family as well, at some point over the long weekend, because that's important.

Our family enjoyed the viewing of the new Disney movie, Ralph Breaks the Internet, over Thanksgiving weekend.

What can I say about it? Highly recommended. I gave 5 stars. Clever, fun, I think I had a smile on my face, pretty much the entire movie.

And, no spoilers here, but the scene with 14 Disney Princesses and Vanellope, it was truly terrific!

If you go, be sure to stay all the way through to the end of the credits, because there are many, many surprises along the way at the end of the movie. And though I do not get a kickback from Disney, just a pro-tip from our family to yours, I think your kids will love Ralph Breaks the Internet. And parents, especially those who grew up with the internet, which is most of this audience, I think you will enjoy it, too.

So just my two cents and a very brief movie review.



So what are we talking about today?

You recall, around this time last year, the good folks, Highlights Magazine, joined us to give their state of the kid report to share that with us, which they have released each and every year since 2009.

Last year, the topic was kindness.

This year, Highlights surveyed another 2000 American children to get their thoughts on helpers. You know, influencers, heroes, in other words, who do kids trust? Who do they admire and respect? Who they feel safe talking to? And who do they think listens when they talk or have a concern?

They also asked kids what worries that they have. They asked kids what do you do, what do kids do when someone says or does something to hurt another person and they witnessed it? Do they act? Do they tell someone? What's the plan?

They asked what kids like best about themselves, and if the kid could have one superpower, what would it be and how would he or she use it? Lots of great responses that provide quite a bit of insight into the state of today's kid.


Our two guests will help us unpack and explore the results of the survey.

Christine French Cully joins us again. She is Editor in Chief of Highlights for Children and Highlights Magazine and in charge of this survey project.

And then, Jennifer Miller is a Parenting Coach & Education Expert, she has a Master's in Education, and she hosts the site Confident Parents, Confident Kids.

So we'll talk to her about what the results mean and how parents can use the results to maybe be a more effective parent depending on, you know, what's happening in your house and how your kids sort of stuck up to what we're seeing on a national level, as we think about kids and who influences them and who they look up to, who they feel like they can talk to.

If it's not you, maybe there are some ways that you can promote and nurture your relationship with your child in such a way that they do feel comfortable talking to you about the things that worry them in their life. Very important thing.

And sometimes, it is hard to get kids to open up. So we're going to have some hints and ideas for you on how to do that effectively.

And then, really delve into what it is that's worrying kids today and what parents can do to help alleviate those worries.

Before we get to Christine and Jennifer, I do want to remind you that PediaCast is available for you on Facebook and Twitter.

And in addition to sharing the week's program and the new material content that we have freely listen to. We also trying to be useful in that space and collect other information and share it, that we think could be helpful for parents.

So just some examples, the FDA had a warning about the dangers of feeding babies honey-filled pacifiers, especially kids who are less than 12 months old.

Botulism is a real risk with honey. And so, we want to avoid honey in the pacifier.

And the FDA had some warnings about that, that we shared on Facebook and Twitter.

One-third of US parents are skipping flu shots for their kids this year. Despite the fact that 180 kids died from the flu last year, many of them healthy, most of them unvaccinated.

So the flu vaccine really does help prevent flu death. And so, you know, even if your kids have gotten a flu shot and they still get the flu, or what you think is the flu, it probably would have been a lot worse if they haven't got their flu shot.

So just provide some effectiveness, and even if it doesn't provide complete effectiveness, and certainly can prevent pediatric death from the flu.

So important to get your flu shots, I'm not sure why a third of US parents are skipping the flu shot, that's disappointing. And hopefully, you are a parent who is getting your kids protected from the flu. This is an important thing to do.


Also, we shared how to use an EpiPen, even if you're not the one who needs it, you know, you may be called upon at some point to help a stranger. And so, knowing how to use an EpiPen even if you don't have a history of severe allergic reactions, that's an important thing.

We talked, we shared an information on the effect of social media on self-image in girls, that's an important thing to chat and talk about. So we shared that on Facebook and Twitter.

Bulky coats in car seats, you don't want to wear, you don't want your child to wear a bulky coat in their car seat. Because they can slide around, and the harness can get tied enough around them. And so, we provided some tips through our blog posts on better things to wear. Basically, thinner and layers, though, they need to stay warm rather than one bulky thing. Some thinner layers are going to be more appropriate and will hold them in their car seat more securely.

How to stop a nosebleed? Nosebleeds are common in the winter time with little more dryness. So proper ways to stop that. And then, fever, very common during the winter viral season. You know, what is it and when do you worry about a fever.


So these are all things that we have shared recently on Facebook and Twitter. So, lots of great resources, you won't necessarily hear in the podcast, except when I mention it here.

But there are many, many more. Trust me on that.

So please, on Facebook and Twitter, do consider liking us and following us and sharing the content that we provide.

We're also on Instagram, a little bit more personal there, you know, movies our family have seen like Ralph Breaks the Internet and my thoughts regarding them. We're really big moviegoers in our house, we love going to the movies. And some recent ones that we have seen, again, besides Ralph Breaks the Internet, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Meg, Mama Mia, Ocean's Eight, Incredibles 2, Jurassic World, Fallen Kingdom, not all of them are kid-friendly!

But, you know, parents need a date night, so hire a sitter, talk over a nice dinner, and go see a movie. Some important thing for moms and dads to get out and have some time of their own.

And if you want a review from a not-so-polished movie critic, then I am your guy on Instagram. Don't expect link for reviews, I'll probably just give you a sentence or two, and one to five little emoji clapboards, that's my rating system. So be sure to check that out on Instagram. Again, just look for PediaCast.

Well, also our family vacation pictures, our tree that came partially down in an early-season ice storm, driving through mountain tunnels on a family road trip to North Carolina, renovating a condo's kitchen for newlyweds. In other words, life.

And a County Fair Demolition Derby but not with cars. With combines, you heard me right, is a farm equipment only in Ohio, or at least the middle west I think, the video of a Combine Demolition Derby, I think that alone is worth a trip to the PediaCast Instagram page.


Alright, two more items of business.

Don't forget that if there's a topic that you would like us to talk about, it's really easy to get in touch. Just head over to, look for the contact link and ask away. If there's a topic you want to suggest or question you have, love to hear from you!

And then also, a reminder that the information presented in every episode of PediaCast is for general educational purposes only. We do not diagnose medical conditions or formulate treatment plans for specific individuals.

So if you have a concern about your child's health, always, always, call your doctor and arrange a face-to-face interview and hands-on physical examination.

Also, your use of this audio program is subject to the PediaCast Terms of Use Agreement which you can find at

Let's take a quick break and then I will be back to talk more about Influencers and Worries… According to Kids!

That's coming up right after this.




Dr. Mike Patrick: Christine French Cully is Editor in Chief of Highlights for Children which has published magazines for kids for a very long time, since 1946, in fact. And I'm sure there are many parents out there, including myself, who have fond memories of reading Highlights as a child and sharing their magazine with their kids today.

So, Chris Cully, very warm PediaCast welcome, thanks for joining us today.

Christine French Cully: Thank you for having us.

Dr. Mike Patrick: And we also have Jennifer Miller in the studio.

Jennifer is a Parenting Coach & Education Expert, and author of the website "Confident Parents, Confident Kids" which is a terrific resource for Moms and Dads. Jennifer has a Master's Degree in Education and 20 years of experience focused on children's social and emotional learning.

So Jennifer, a warm welcome to you, as well.


Jennifer Miller: Thank you so much. I'm excited to be here.

Dr. Mike Patrick: Really appreciate both of you taking the time to stop by.

So Christine, let's begin, just with the overview of Highlights for Children and the state of the kid report. Tell us about the magazine.

Christine French Cully: Well, Highlights has been around since 1946, as you say. It is, I think it's an American icon. You know, one of the best parts about working for Highlights is the fact that we almost never run into somebody who hasn't heard of us. And for home reading, Highlights is in a warm fuzzy memory.

We focus on the whole child, we're concerned about the child's cognitive development and growth and basic skills and knowledge, but also the social-emotional development.

So we publish several magazines, books, and digital products for kids. And we do this wonderful state of the kid's survey for the last ten years. Where we give kids a national platform from which to speak. Because we think we can always learn from kids when we lean in and listen to them. And that helps us serve them better.

Dr. Mike Patrick: Absolutely.

And you surveyed at about 2,000 children from all across the United States. And this is a pretty good representative sample, right?

Christine French Cully: Yes, it is a representative sample. Children ages 6-12 all across the country. Open-ended survey, taken online, at home, and in the classroom.

Dr. Mike Patrick: And you partnered with the C and R Research. So you had folks, you know, who know about surveying and making sure you are getting a good sample of what kids are thinking all across the country.

Christine French Cully: Yes. They help us match gender and age of children from the US census statistics. We're sure that the results are a representative sample.

Dr. Mike Patrick: Perfect.

And last year, you kind of focused on kindness. And we have an episode where we talked with it. So folks, if you're interested in what kids had to say back in 2017, we will have a link to that podcast in the show notes for this Episode 419 over

What was the focus this year?


Christine French Cully: Well here, we wanted to follow-up on that great survey about kindness. But you know, it was a tumultuous year. With some war, gun violence in schools, and places of worship, we had teacher and student walkouts. You know, the Me Too movements turned up, there were protest marches everywhere. And some of the instability that we know that kids were witnessing in both public and private disperse, it's kind of stunning.

So we wondered, what are kids thinking about in these times? You know, who they're watching? Who did they admire? Our kids living in childhood, we called childhood a short sweet season, and we want kids to have, you know, age-appropriate choice and concerns.

But maybe in these times, they're picking up kind of more serious concerns at adults, and worrying about problems that are really, largely out of their control.

So we, this year, we talked about those things. And we wanted to know who kids were, you know, who would they're influencers? And did they, worry about the world and did they think that they were in a position that they can help make the world a better place.

Dr. Mike Patrick: Great questions. And I'm sure we're all very interested in what kids are thinking on that. And we will have links in the show notes to Highlights Magazines. And also, the State of the Kid Report. So folks can see their report for themselves, the full details of it, so look for that in the show notes over

Jennifer, tell us about your site. Confident Parents, Confident Kids.

Jennifer Miller: So, Confident Parents, Confident Kids offers parents helpful resources, simple strategies based on research for helping promote children's social and emotional skills in family lives. Skills like empathy, listening, communication, responsible decision-making.

Dr. Mike Patrick: And I love that you have resources both for kids and then also for parents, too! So not only to help the kids out but help parents be better parents.


Jennifer Miller: Yes. And then actually, there are resources for kids but most mostly it's for parents as the leaders of the household. How can we promote those essential skills and also support learning in school?

Dr. Mike Patrick: And I love the book recommendations.

So for kids, you have recommendations for kid's books of all ages. And we actually had an episode, a couple weeks back, on Literacy and Great Books for Kids. And we went through all the age groups, and, you know, with our own personal, what books we remember reading and what books, you know, we shared with our children.

So it's really fun, kind of looking through your book recommendations, too.

Jennifer Miller: I love that! Children's books are a wonderful way to connect with your child around social and emotional themes. And just reflecting on what choices characters made, what they're thinking, what they're feeling can build empathy. And it's a really great dialogue to have with your kid.

Dr. Mike Patrick: I mean, the great launching point too, you know, if you're both reading the same book and then, I mean, of course, you can read out loud, that's great fun. But also, reading independently with the same book and then getting together and discussing it over dinner.

Jennifer Miller: Yes.

Dr. Mike Patrick: You know, it's a lot of fun, too!

Jennifer Miller: As they got older into chapter books, that's a great way to share the stories together.

Dr. Mike Patrick: Yes, and we'll also have a link to Confident Parents, Confident Kids in the show notes over

Alright, well, let's get to the State of the Kid's survey.

So the first question was, that you proposed to kids, was: Who is the person you admire and respect?

So what are the results from that question, Christine?

Christine French Cully: Well, we did ask kids to tell us that we asked them to think about somebody other than their parents, and 25% of the respondents said that they admired and respect their teachers.

Now, this is a question that we also asked in 2009, and that year, 17% of the kids named their teachers. So that's up.

Dr. Mike Patrick: So teachers are growing in influence?

Christine French Cully: They are. 20% still named their family member, 15% named celebrities, and that's up from 4% in 2009.

And that included answers, they named athletes, entertainers, actors, you know, kind of what you would expect there.

And 15% said they admired and respected other friends.


Dr. Mike Patrick: So celebrities going up from 4% to 15%. Why do you think that jumped up so high?

Jennifer Miller: You know, Common Sense Media says that kids are on screens in an average of 11 hours a day. So that takes into account, school time, on laptops, but when they're home, they're on their digital devices.

So they're accessing celebrities in a way that no other generation has before.

So multiple platforms, and so what's interesting is that we, as parents, instead versus… in the all-noon days, having the TV on, and everyone in the family gets to see what children are watching.

Now, they have hand-held devices that are very individually focused. And so, we don't always know the worlds they're exploring. And it can be really scary for parents to wonder what's going to crop up in a search.

So I think that offering children an entry point for dialogue about their interest in their digital world is really important. How can we make the regular family conversation? What do you interested in? What characters are you learning about? What are they exploring?

So that, it becomes a regular conversation in family life, and we get to know the celebrities that are influencing our children.


Dr. Mike Patrick: Because sometimes, those celebrities may have opinions of the world that don't take everything into consideration.

And so, this would be a good launching point to talk to kids, you know, about what they're feeling, why do they feel that way, have you thought about this side of it.

And just one example I can think of, there are a lot of celebrities who are anti-vaccine.

And so if, you know, a kid hears that and, of course, a pediatrician is telling "Hey, you need this vaccine! And that one. And they are safe, they're effective." But they may be getting a one-sided view. And so, having that conversation with your kids can help them see the big story, maybe.

Jennifer Miller: Exactly. If you have a regular conversation about it, then it feels like a safe topic for kids to come to you and then, when they view things that are problematic, they may be more up to bring it up.

Dr. Mike Patrick: So when they become anti-vaccine, because many kids become anti-vaccine, they're the ones getting stuck with the needles. So that's understandable.


Jennifer Miller: Then it's part of your discussion!


Dr. Mike Patrick: I know, I'm just…


Jennifer Miller: You're right.


Dr. Mike Patrick: No, but it is. And then they feel comfortable, you know, talking to their family about it.

Jennifer Miller: That's right.

Dr. Mike Patrick: So teachers, the fact that they are really the highest percentage in terms of influencers. 25% of them named teachers.

What do parents get from that? How can you use that information to help parent?

Jennifer Miller: Well, I think it's a wonderful compliment to teachers that children are saying they are highly influential in their lives.

And in fact, they said they're role models for them, and they're models of caring and kindness. So that tells me or suggests that teachers are really investing in relationships with students. And maybe less on the bottom line of testing or academic outcomes.

So I think, it's a really positive direction that children reflecting back. "My teacher really shows that he/she cares about me, and I can look up to them as a role model."


Dr. Mike Patrick: And the more that parents get to know the teacher, then there's an extra line of communication that can only help your kids. Right?

Jennifer Miller: Can only help. In fact, research confirms the best predictor of academic success is parent's involvement.

And I think, as parents, we kind of allow teachers to come to us. We know they're busy people and we don't want to interrupt the learning process and the relationship between our children and them.

That relationship is so critical that we can take those steps to reach out. We can stay at pick-up time and shake a hand and just start a caring relationship.

So that if problems occur down the line, we've already created that dialogue.

Dr. Mike Patrick: Very good.

So the next question that was posed to kids: When you need help or have something important to say, who is the person you go to first?

So what did kids think about that, Christine?

Christine French Cully: Well, also, in the category of good news for parents, 81% of kids responded that they would go to a family member first. 72% named their parents. 6% named their sibling. 3% named other family members.

Dr. Mike Patrick: That's a lot.

Christine French Cully: 10% said they would go to a friend and 6% again said they would go to a teacher first to tell them something important.

Dr. Mike Patrick: So kids really feel like their parents are listening, right? I mean, if 81% of them feel comfortable talking to their parent about something that is bothering them, like that is excellent news.

Jennifer Miller: It's excellent news. Parents are listening, kids feel like their ideas are important, some of them said that "My parents build on my ideas so I know that they value them." So that's really good news for parents.


Dr. Mike Patrick: And really talking to your kids and being a part of their daily life becomes more difficult in the teenage years. But if you really nurture that relationship, and sort of have a judgment-free zone for conversation, that can help. Really, to continue to have that great relationship even as they go into their teenage years, right?

Jennifer Miller: So true. Yes, as peers become more influential in the teenage years, if you do keep curious about what's going on in your child's life, not as a 'gotcha', but as a genuine interest in, then this is a safe space to even raise difficult issues.

We can talk about risky topics, and we'll be okay. "I love you no matter what." And we'll have a safe space to have a conversation, then certainly teens are going to be more up to come to their parents.

Dr. Mike Patrick: How can, as a parenting coach, how can parents get their kids to talk more during the teenage years? Not just the one-word answers. So like, you know, "How was your day-to-day at school?" "It was good." How do you tease out that conversation? More in-depth with kids who don't necessarily want to talk.

Jennifer Miller: Part of it is being around and ready to listen when they're eager to talk. So, it may be, turning the radio down on a car ride, it may be just hanging out in their room, but really, we need to be around when they're ready to share.

And then, when they do share, we have to be careful about judging what they share.

So, it's so tempting to judge friends, and sometimes, I think we think we're teaching them, well, you know, "Joe shouldn't have taken that risk."

But really being open to learning from your children about what they're, or your teens, about what they're experiencing. And listening with an open mind creates that safe space.

So they feel like it's okay to come to you.

And if you judge their friends, you're going to, they're going to worry you're going to judge them. So really keeping an open mind about their life and just being curious about it. I think, opens the door.


Dr. Mike Patrick: It's a fine line, isn't it? Because at the same time, we don't want to, like, give permission, you know, there are some parents who like, can't tell their kids "No" and those can have bad outcomes, too.

So it really takes some judgment and patience, right?

Jennifer Miller: Patience. Because I think, if you listen first, then you can get into the reflections on choices and responsible decision-making.

And really, you want your child to become a responsible decision-maker.

So asking good questions, well, what other choices could he have made that wouldn't have caused harm in that situation? And prompting your teen's thinking is a great way for your teen and turn the lies, they're more on compose and the barometer for responsible decision-making.

Dr. Mike Patrick: Now that makes sense.

And a lot of times, when risky behavior occurs, there is not necessarily a bad consequence every time. But can a helping guide your kids to thinking what those bad consequences could have been, you know, that can also open up more conversation that can, you know, be more in-depth.

Jennifer Miller: That's right. And, celebrity influencers can also be a way to pull-in those discussions about choices. Because certainly, there are high risks that are taken on Youtube that may not occur naturally in our lives.

But you can talk through what other choices that they have, what might be the outcomes in five years, ten years, to people around the person. And also the person who made that decision.

So the celebrity influencers can also bring in that responsible decision-making dialogue opportunity.


Dr. Mike Patrick: That's great.

The next question was: What is anything do you worry about?

Cristine, what are kids worried about today?

Christine French Cully: Well, first of all, we were surprised to know that 79% of kids say they're worried. Now, you know, we do like to think about childhood, as they know a little bit about of a carefree time. But, we knew kid's worried.

That was a high number, and the things they worried about, this is stated that parents really should pay attention to.

16% said they worry about family, friends, or loved ones. Presumably that they're worrying about their well-being and their safety among other things.

12% said they worry about not doing well in school.

11% said they worry about violence or safety. And of that 11%, 35% of those kids sighted school shootings and school-related gun violence specifically.

9% said they worry about social and political issues.

9% said they worry about bullying.

Dr. Mike Patrick: That's a considerable number of kids who are worrying. And they're worrying about some very serious things.

Christine French Cully: Very serious things.

Jennifer Miller: Yes.

Dr. Mike Patrick: What do we take away from that?

Jennifer Miller: Well, first of all, worrying is normal.

All humans worry to a certain degree, right? And our children, as they enter the tween and teen years, their social awareness grows. And as their social awareness grows, so too does their social anxiety. And you'll notice that, like, "Oh, he thinks my hair looks crazy today!" And no one said that her hair looked crazy today but they're making new inferences from people's judgments around them.

So our tweens at teens will begin to worry a bit more.

But then, we also have to consider how our children are coming to know the world on a daily basis?

Typically, they're coming to understand the world, maybe at through school lessons, but often it's through the media. And what are they seeing? If it's through news, they're typically seeing violence, they're seeing crime, they're seeing world problems.

And if that's the only way they're getting to know the world, then the world becomes a very scary place.

So how can parents balance that?

It's not that we need to take it away completely. But first of all, how can we be reflective regularly on what our children are witnessing? And then, also, how can we balance it with positive role models around the world? Of parents who care about children's voices, we know they're out there, but how can we expose our children to the positive change makers in the world?


Dr. Mike Patrick: The news media, you know, have stories of violence, you know, one after another. And these are the things that, so adds. So that they have more viewership, I mean, it's generated through, a lot of it, through profit.

And so, you know, you wish the news media would see what that does to families and kids. And, you know, the hope would be that they would start to even balance out to have some, you know, more good stories of what's going on in the world. Rather than just the negative.

Jennifer Miller: Yes, but there are, if parents go looking, there's really nutritious support of media content and I think Common Sense Media's an awesome resource for parents where you can look up video games and books and television programs and movies, and find out the development of appropriateness and what themes are involved. So that you become a reviewer of your children's content.

And I encourage parents to teach their children to review their own content before they deep-dive into it.


Dr. Mike Patrick: And this whole idea that your kids, you know, 80% of kids worry.

And if you ask your kids, you know, "Hey, are you worried about anything?" You are likely to get a "No! Everything's fine."

So you still want to address worry. Because we also know that constant worry leads to toxic stress. And toxic stress, of course, we know when you worry, you have a lot of hormones and just that worry-feeling that you have is chemical. And those hormones, you know, in higher degrees over a long period of time, worth now learning can cause things down the road: Heart disease, diabetes, I mean, there's real physical illnesses that can come years later from constant worry during childhood.

So it is important to, you know, not badger your kids about what they're worried. Because that can create its own worry in your kids. But taking their cues of what they're saying, what they're talking about, to try to tease out what it is that they're worried about. And then talk to them and be supportive.

Jennifer Miller: That is so important, to listen first. Because we often can project our worries and our fears may be deeper and broader and more expansive than our children are really concerned about. So we really do need to listen first.

What exactly are they concerned about? And then, how can we learn together and get more information, become more informed, and take steps to allay those fears.

Dr. Mike Patrick: And learning to do that builds resilience into kids. So that even though there's toxic stress, they deal with it. And the biggest factor of resilience is having a caring adult in their life.

And so, I just want to point this out though.

There are some kids who their parents are not the caring adult in their life.

And so, there may be an opportunity, you know, if you know a kid that you can, you know, make a difference in and provide them support even if it's not your child, that can be really helpful and make a difference in the kid's life.


Jennifer Miller: It does take a village. And neighbors can be such a valuable resource. Community members, teachers, after-school program staff, there are so many caring adults that children, if they have the wherewithal to go to them.

And parents, I think, if they work on creating that community, in other words, bringing, caring adults and introducing them to their children and getting them involved in their lives, can add resilience by doing, by creating that village.

Dr. Mike Patrick: And getting to your child's teacher is one step that you can take to help with that process.

Jennifer Miller: Exactly.

Dr. Mike Patrick: For sure.

Jennifer Miller: That's right.

Dr. Mike Patrick: I did notice that medical providers were not mentioned in the top influencers for kids. We have a lot of medical providers who listen to this program all around the country.

And so, just think, you know, how can you engage your patients in a way that they will begin to think of you as a positive influence in their lives? Kind of a challenge for medical providers in the crowd.

Jennifer Miller: I love that.

Dr. Mike Patrick: The next question: Do you think the grown-ups in your life really care about what you have to say?

What would the kids say about that, Christine?

Christine French Cully: More good news for parents. 90% of the kids responded said YES. And 10% said NO.

Dr. Mike Patrick: That is really good news, that 90% think that the grown-ups in their life care about what they have to say.

Jennifer Miller: Parents, teachers, other influencers in their life, kids feel like they're really listened to, and that they really cared about.

That's wonderful news.

Dr. Mike Patrick: So really, parents are doing the things that we're talking about. Always room for improvement. But that is fabulous.

And then, as we move outside of the family. So, kids think, you know, parents care what they think and what they have to say.

What about the world in general? Does the world care about what kids think?


Christine French Cully: Kids are less sure about that. 59% said YES and 41% said NO.

Dr. Mike Patrick: What do we take away from that, Jennifer?

Jennifer Miller: Well, it's interesting in it. It kind of goes back to children's worries and how they're being exposed to the world on a daily basis.

It makes sense that they would be cautious about the greater world when they're seeing school violence in the news, when they're seeing crime and problems around the world.

So I think, we can take from that, again, that we need to add a balancing force that we need to ask the question. How can we introduce our children to the world in ways that provide a balanced view that shows that there are many caring adults out there?

I think we can also prepare our children for crisis situations by saying, instead of the old stranger danger, there are plenty of caring adults when you're in a grocery store and you have a problem. Seek out the caring mom. If I'm not with you, how can she help you? If you have a school crisis, or a neighborhood crisis, how can you seek out the caring adult around you to help you?

Dr. Mike Patrick: I feel like we did that more before kids had smartphones. So, like, now there's this instant link, you know, that a lot of kids have the phone in their pocket, they can get hold of their parents. But when you were really separated from your kids, I think, you did instill in them more of an idea of where to go, who you can trust, what you do if I'm not around.


Jennifer Miller: But smartphones don't do everything. And we need relationships. And in crisis situations, really, it is the individuals who were around that are going to be helpful.

So I think it's important for parents and teachers to guide children to look for the caring adults to help them in those situations.

Dr. Mike Patrick: Very good point.

Now we turn more toward action as opposed to feelings, and the next question was: If you saw or heard someone doing or saying something to hurt you or another person. What would you do?

Christine French Cully: Well, it seems that we are raising a generation of up-standers.

93% of the kids said they would take action.

60% of them said they would ask an adult for help.

23% said they try to do something to stop the behaviors on their own.

7% said they ignore, stay out of it.

6% said they'll ask a friend for help in doing something.

And 4% said they would do something, that they would do something else.

Dr. Mike Patrick: Okay.

So in terms of that, 93% said if they see a wrong happening, that they're going to do something about it. Where does that come from?

Jennifer Miller: Well, that's powerful.

It shows that our kids are compassionate. And the first step in being compassionate is noticing other's suffering and pain, and then as humans, we want to do something about it when we noticed pain and suffering.

So the trick I think for parents is to give our children the tools to take action. How can they make a difference? And I really encourage parents to think about starting at home or close to home.

So how can children contribute to your household? How can they show responsibility for caring for your household? How can they get involved in serving their school community and contributing to safety in their school community? If safety is truly a concern.

And then in their neighborhood. We regularly see homeless persons in our neighborhood. And it really is a concern and my son has noticed it.

So we've talked about how can we do things for the homeless people in our neighborhood? That's personal, that's meaningful.

And we take action as a family together.


Dr. Mike Patrick: Because they want to take action, but the action that they might choose on their own could potentially put them in danger. And so, it is important that we want to act, but there are ways to do it in a way that we also keep ourselves safe.

Jennifer Miller: That's exactly true.

And we are not always with our children. So we want to prepare them perhaps for dealing with the bully on the playground. And in fact, there were researches that the majority of bullying acts stop when a friend gets involved.

So if we prepare our child for the things that they can do in very simple ways. Can you go up and lock arms with the person who's being bullied and just simply walk them away? Or are there simple things that you can say, like "Stop that! You know you're wrong!"

And again, walk the child away.

If we prepare our kids in these ways, then they can feel confident that they can take action.

Dr. Mike Patrick: Absolutely. Great points.

The next question: What should grown-ups know about being a kid today?

What do the kids want grown-ups to know?

Christine French Cully: Well, 35% of them said it's fun and easy being a kid.

31% of them said it's very hard to be a kid, it's not easy.

Dr. Mike Patrick: So very different responses there. And really, as we think about it, that's so true. I mean, some kids, really, things are pretty easy. Although, when it seems easy, you know, they may be, would have difficulties that they're not telling you about.

But there's other kids who really do worry about safety and violence and, you know, they think bad things happening in their neighborhoods.

And so, really, it is, this doesn't surprise us, right? That there's mixed answers on this one.


Jennifer Miller: It doesn't and it could be evidence of the child's life that they're, that they are actually enduring difficult circumstances. But it also could mean that that is how they approach life, that things are challenging for them or they view things as challenging.

So we don't know exactly what children are experiencing but it seems to be there's a balance between things are easy, fun, and carefree, and things are challenging.

Dr. Mike Patrick: And like, most adults, it depends on the day that they're asked that question.

Jennifer Miller: Exactly! That's right!


Dr. Mike Patrick: Whether it's a fun day or a hard day. Yes, Chris?

Christine French Cully: But it is another reminder of the importance of, you know, really connecting to your kid and having an ongoing dialogue and listening.

I have a very resilient memory of my daughter when she was young and I put her to bed and I heard her crying, and I went in, and I asked her what was wrong, and she looked at me with her scare-filled eyes and said "You just don't understand what it's like to be a kid."

And I remember thinking, you know, I really don't, I mean, whatever her problem was, it wasn't huge, but it was huge to her at that moment.

It's a reminder that staying close, asking questions, being available, leaning and listening. It can help them with these problems, even when they seem small to us, they're important to them.

Dr. Mike Patrick: And if those times when life is hard and not easy for kids, if we pick up on that, we can offer them the best support as opposed to serve ignoring it and they get to the point where they have meltdown.

Jennifer Miller: Some of that is just accepting their feelings. So often, we want to say, "Oh, we're fine!" or "Oh, you're fine!"

And sometimes, we're not fine, and just admitting and accepting that it's a frustrating day, and how can we talk about those frustrations is enough to make a child feel understood.


Dr. Mike Patrick: Absolutely.

Christine French Cully: When I think about this question, it reminded me of the kid's mail, we received highlights from our readers. And many times, they write to us with what seems to us to be a small problem.

For example, I saw a letter the other day about a child who was upset because his mother made him wear hand lotion, put hand lotion on his hands. And he hated to feel the hand lotion.

That doesn't seem like a big problem to us, but, you know, we take all of those very serious when we answer them and then we often hear back and they feel so much better.

You know, it was hard as relatives, but it's all important.

Dr. Mike Patrick: Absolutely.

And, you know, the parent who has their child, you know, do the hand lotion, they probably don't really realize, you know, how much of a problem this is for the kid. They probably get him just guessing that you would just on the surface, view it as "they don't want to do what I'm telling you to do, and this is the best thing for you, and I know it's best."

But when you do stop to listen, it's about how it feels, that the child doesn't like the way that it feels. And, you know, is there an alternate way, maybe to provide whatever it is that you're trying to provide with that lotion.


I think, it's called, you know, cold action for parents to really try to understand the reasons that kids, you know, make the decisions or the things that they like or don't like, what's driving them, you know, to have more empathy to our kids.

The next question, and this I think is a really important one:

What do you like best about yourself?

What do the kids say about that, Chris?

Christine French Cully: This is a question where we saw some interesting gender differences.

41% of the kids who responded said they like best a personal quality.

14% said they like that they were caring and kind.

9% like their sense of humor.

9% like the fact that they were friendly.

But 37% of the boys answered this way and 45% of girls answered the question this way. It's kind of interesting.


Dr. Mike Patrick: Can we pause there really quickly?

Christine French Cully: Sure.

Dr. Mike Patrick: So, Jennifer, what do you think there in terms of the difference between boys and girls? That girls like their personal qualities a little bit more than boys. What do we take from that?

Jennifer Miller: You know, I think it's, the gender differences are interesting. I do think for parents, we can reflect on what we tend to compliment in our children.

And for teachers, as well, what do we reflect on? I love that girls are interested in, or valuing their friendliness, their kindness, some also noted their physical appearance.

So, for parents, I would say, you know, are you telling your girl she's beautiful each day? Which is a wonderful reflection but also, are you pointing out her creativity, her innovation, her integrity, what are some other qualities that you can bring out to really emphasize the character of the person?

And for boys, as well, I know, athleticism was very high for boys, and physical development is really important. But then, how can we also point out some of the character traits in boys? Like kindness, like, again, creativity, like being a good friend. Those kinds of things.

Dr. Mike Patrick: So when you see them being kind, even though they are very athletic, that's a great opportunity to point that out. Like, "Oh, that was really a kind thing to do!" and give them some positive reinforcement for that kindness.


Jennifer Miller: Exactly. So, you're pointing out specific actions that they're taking that show kindness.

Dr. Mike Patrick: So besides personality qualities at 41%, what were some of the other things, Christine?

Christine French Cully: 22% named their intelligence or their academic skills as to think they like best about themselves.

And for boys, 26% of boys named that and 17% of girls.

Dr. Mike Patrick: So, that surprises me. You know, usually, I know you think of boys, more athletic. Girls, more in the classroom, the intelligence piece. But more boys would like their intelligence and academic skills compared to girls.

Jennifer Miller: So that's interesting, and you wonder if families are reflecting that they are emphasizing the importance of intelligence. And, I guess, my reflection on that for parents would be, how can you talk to children about intelligence as something that is grown over time and that can be grown with hard work and patience and can be developed? Instead of a static issue that it's not a natural ability` you're born with, but something that you grow over time.

Dr. Mike Patrick: And we all, in terms of our academic skills, are better at some things and not as good at other things and just naturally, you know, I'm not great at Math, but, you know, English and writing, I do fine with. And there's a lot of kids have those differences.

So how do you nurture the things that maybe not so good at?

Jennifer Miller: Well, first of all, I would say, just a back-up that you build on strengths, so you build on their asset, you notice what they do well and build upon that.

And then, in the areas where they don't do well, they may be a little less motivated because they don't want to fail.

But I think, it's equally important for children to learn that failure is a critical part of the learning process. We all make mistakes. And parents can do well to talk about their own mistakes to make it okay for children and to make mistakes.

And dig in any way, that this is a challenge at school and we can dig into the sand, and with some patience, hard work, and time, you can get it.


Dr. Mike Patrick: And I think, sharing with your kids the struggles that you had maybe when you went to school, like, you know, "Hey! I wasn't that great at Math either, so I understand!" You know, but it is important and so we are going to push through.

Jennifer Miller: Yes, exactly. They actually, research shows that at learning about ancestors, and the struggle of ancestors, helps us appreciate our lives more and not that we're ancestors, you know, learning about our past experiences can help children put things in perspective and realize that "Yes, we all go through struggles with learning." And they're not alone, and yet, they can persist through it.

Dr. Mike Patrick: Christine, some of the kids said that their physical appearance was the thing that they like best about themselves. How many felt that way?

Christine French Cully: 15% made physical appearance.

10% of boys and 19% of girls.

Dr. Mike Patrick: What do you think about that?

Jennifer Miller: You know, physical appearance changes drastically in the childhood in teen years, and certainly throughout our lives.

So I think that it's certainly reflected in the media, children see images all the time of beauty in the media. They will be influenced by that, we're all influenced by that.

But I think, the key for parents is to emphasize that there's much more than just your physical attributes, that developing your intelligence, that developing your artistic side is really also equally important.


Dr. Mike Patrick: And we, as parents, we do have work to do in this area because, you know, a fifth of all girls said that their physical appearance was the best quality.

And so, I think, parents really can identify what other qualities that kids have. It's fine to be beautiful, but at the same time, you really want to nurture something else in your kids, right?

Jennifer Miller: It's almost a habit we need to break. Because, it is, we are so used to seeing the messages ourselves, and we're so used to focusing, I think, particularly with girls on, "What a pretty dress!" "Oh, your hair looks beautiful today!" "Oh, such pretty eyes!"

And, so, it really takes retraining of our own compliments and comments to our children. How can we begin to notice the inner qualities and bring those out regularly?

Dr. Mike Patrick: Very important thing to think about.

And then, physical abilities. Tell us about that, Christine.

Christine French Cully: 14% of kids named that physical abilities is their favorite thing about themselves.

21% of boys and 7% of girls.

Dr. Mike Patrick: That's not too surprising that boys think of their physical abilities as the thing that they like best about themselves.

But it's kind of like the same thing with a physical appearance for girls, right? I mean, it's great to have physical abilities but these physically-able kids also may be creative and intelligent and caring and kind, and these are also things that we want to really let our kids know that they're good at these things.


Jennifer Miller: That's right.

You know, sports play a huge role in children and teenager's lives and certainly, the celebrities that they're looking to, many of them are celebrity athletes.

But there are character qualities and social-emotional skills that are learned through sports that can be emphasized in addition to physical ability.

So how about talking about collaboration and teamwork?

"You are an excellent team player!" Or, "You lost the game and you actually were very gracious about losing the game and supportive of the winners."

So how can you emphasize the other lessons, friendship, loyalty, that are learned in sports as well?

Dr. Mike Patrick: And then, finally, creative skills.

Christine French Cully: 13% named creative skills as their favorite thing.

18% of girls and 7% of boys.

Dr. Mike Patrick: So very interesting there. Girls value their creativity a little bit more than boys. But then, again, this is another opportunity for physically-active kids. Many of them are creative, that parents could really call out that creativity.

Jennifer Miller: And certainly, schools are creating maker spaces more and more where children can be more creative in school, in areas like Science and Technology. In addition to learning music and art.

But at home, too. You know, I encourage parents to be sure that they are helping limit screen time with their children. Because creativity requires time. And off of passive screen time. So if a child is creating videos, that's one thing.

But how can they have the time to play, because play inspires creativity, play is creativity.

And how can kids have the time to experiment in their own backyards so that they can really engage in creative endeavors.


Dr. Mike Patrick: For my kids, one of the things that they love to do was to create games, like with the ball outside, but you know, not a standard game. We're going to make up a new one with new rules, and so you can be physically active but be creative at the same time.

Jennifer Miller: I love that. My child and his neighborhood friends have created a language. And I never know what they're talking about, but I celebrate it, and it's wonderful.

Dr. Mike Patrick: And then, I love this question:

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why would you want it?

Christine French Cully: Every year, we try to include a question in our survey that's really mostly for fun. And this set, this was the question this year. But, it had a little serious, tends to a two.

27% of the kids reported that they would most want to have the gift of teleporting or being able to fly.

Dr. Mike Patrick: I love that.

Christine French Cully: 10% said they would like to be invisible.

And that superpower, 9% said they would like super mental powers.

7% be, they would like to be able to move quickly.

6% said they like to have a superpower that would make the word better.

In fact, 17%, when asked them why they want this particular superpower, 26% said they would want it for just the advantage it provided. That 17% said they would want a superpower to prevent or to change events that would, you know, save the world or help people in some way.


Dr. Mike Patrick: And, you know, kids, the Marvel Comics, and the superhero movies now, are really big. And so, this was a great question.

Jennifer Miller: It's so exciting to hear that we have compassionate kids who are eager change makers. They want to contribute to the world.

So it really is a big call out to parents, how are we going to support them in doing that? How can we encourage them and give them the skills and the tools to be contributors to the world?

So I think, it's really exciting.

Dr. Mike Patrick: Definitely.

Well, we really appreciate both of you stopping by today. Interesting conversation, lots of take-home messages for parents, for sure.

Don't forget, we will have quite a few links in the show notes for you over at This is Episode 419.

And we'll have links to Highlights Magazine, The State of the Kid Report, Confident Parents, Confident Kids, and also last year's interview when we talked about Kindness… According to Kids!

We'll have all those links again in the show notes.

So, Christine French Cully, Editor in Chief of Highlights Magazine, and Jennifer Miller, Parenting Coach & Education Expert with Confident Parents, Confident Kids.

Thanks so much to both of you for stopping by today!

Christine French Cully: Thank you for having us!

Jennifer Miller: Thank you! What a treat!




Dr. Mike Patrick: We are back with just enough time to once again say thanks to all of you for taking time of your day and making PediaCast a part of it, we really do appreciate that.

Also, thanks to our guests, Christine French Cully, Editor in Chief of Highlights for Children, and Jennifer Miller, Parenting Coach & Education Expert with Confident Parents, Confident Kids. Really appreciate both of them stopping by and sharing their expertise with us.

Don't forget, you can find PediaCast in all sorts of places. We are in the Apple Podcast app, iTunes, Google Play, iHeartRADIO, Spotify, and most mobile podcast apps.

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We are also a part of the Parents on Demand Network, at

It's a collection of podcasts for moms and dads. That collection includes PediaCast along with many other terrific podcasts for parents.

Including Liz's Healthy Table Podcast. And Liz has been on PediaCast before, she was here in the summer, and we talked about Healthy Summer Meals on PediaCast 407.

That was great, lots of terrific information.

If you live in a part of the world that has summer going on right now, maybe this is spring slash early summer for those of you down under. You can check out her podcast for recipes and cooking fun, anybody can do that, but the healthy summer meals, one may be interesting to you if you're heading into summer right now, and we'll have that over, we'll have a link to it so that you can find it easily, Episode 407.

But Liz is a Food and Nutrition Expert. She serves up wholesome flavorful, and of course, family-friendly recipes with tasty sides of Science good nutrition and fun.

So check out her podcast. Some recent episodes, Seafood Supper, 100 Days of Real Food on a Budget, Taco Taco Taco, that's a terrific one, Kids in the Kitchen, All About Pork, Fast Family Dinners, so great stuff.

Be sure to check out Liz's Healthy Table Podcast. And I'll put a link to it in the show notes.

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Thanks again for stopping by, and until next time.

This is Dr. Mike saying stay safe, stay healthy, and stay involved with your kids.

So long everybody!




Announcer 2: This program is a production of Nationwide Children's. Thanks for listening. We'll see you next time on PediaCast.

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