A Mighty Girl

April 20, 2018

If your a parent, educator or care-giver of any kind dedicated to raising smart, confident, and courageous girls you’ll want to check out A Mighty Girl. After years of seeking out empowering and inspirational books for their four young nieces,  Carolyn Danckaert and Aaron Smith decided to create resource site to help others equally interested in supporting and celebrating girls. The site was founded on the belief that all children should have the opportunity to read books, play with toys, listen to music, and watch movies that offer positive messages about girls and honor their diverse capabilities.

‘Girls do not have to be relegated to the role of sidekick, gossipy backstabber, or damsel in distress; they can be the leaders, the heroes, the champions that save the day, find the cure, and go on the adventure. It was their hope that  high-quality children’s products will help a new generation of girls to grow and pursue whatever dreams they choose — to truly be Mighty Girls.

A Mighty Girl’s Book section is epic.  Their are new books and old favorites that have been passed down for decades.  Times may have changed, but these classic characters still speak to the girls of today just as they did our grandmothers.In the first section, the’ve highlighted classic stories written before 1950, many of which remain immensely popular decades after their publication. In the second section, we’ve featured modern classics written between 1950 and 1990. These modern classics show the changes in the way Western culture viewed girls and women with the Mighty Girls in these pages tackling difficult social issues and daring to define themselves in daring ways. And, more and more, girls being portrayed in strong leadership roles is no longer considered unusual — that’s just the way Mighty Girls are!’’


BBB Accreditation

April 16, 2018

Cambridge Nanny Group, Nanny Services, Hudsonville, MI


We are pleased to announce that we are accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB). This means BBB has determined that Cambridge Nanny Group meets Accreditation Standards, which include guidelines for ethical business practices. BBB’s Code of Business Practices is built on the BBB Standards for Trust, eight principles that summarize important elements of creating and maintaining trust in business.

Trust is a function of two primary factors – integrity and performance. Integrity includes respect, ethics and intent. Performance speaks to our  track record of delivering results in accordance with high standards – standards that clearly speak to our character and competence.


Loyola Chicago Headed to Final Four

March 24, 2018

Loyola University Chicago Is headed to the Final Four #NCAA #Ramblers #marchmadness #FinalFour #Alumni #AlmaMater #Cinderella #Believe 

My darling kind beautiful Niamh

My youngest daughter, Niamh, age 3.

Niamh (pronounced Neev) is an ancient Irish 🇮🇪 name,  but still very popular in Ireland today. It’s ranks as one of the 50 most common baby names for girls and for decades it was firmly planted in the top 20.  If you were to visit school in Ireland you’d mostly find a girl named Niamh in each grade.  As far as classic Irish names go it’s  right up there with Mary, Katherine, Maeve and Caitlin.

(Did you know  Caitlin is an Irish ☘ name?   In Ireland the name Caitlin is pronounced “koit-leen” or  “kath + leen”. It’s only in America that Caitlin is pronounced phonetically as “Kate + Lynn”.  An Irish boys name that is trendy in America currently is Liam.  My brother-in-laws name is Liam. However,  in Ireland the name  Liam is a nickname – short for William.  If you literally cut William in half it becomes Wil-Liam or Liam. )

My husband is Irish, as in from The Emerald Isle ☘, so Niamh’s name has a very special meaning to our family.  It was originally a term for a goddess; a name rich in legend and folklore associations. In Irish myth, one who bore it was Niamh of the Golden Hair, daughter of the sea god, who falls in love with Finn’s son Oisin/Ossian and takes him to the Land of Promise, where they stayed for three hundred years. Niamh was the most beautiful  and radiant woman in all of Ireland.

In America Niamh’s name is unique. Unless a person is either familiar with the Gaelic language or traveled to Ireland, they aren’t familiar with pronunciation and it gets botched.   (Side Note:  The Irish language, also referred to as the Gaelic or the Irish Gaelic language, is a Goidelic language historically spoken by the Irish people. My husband is fluent in both Gaelic and English. French was compulsory when he was in school as well.)

We asked Niamh if she’d prefer to anglicise the spelling to Neve, Nieve, or Neave /ˈniːv/.  Her answer is always the same:  No. She thinks her name is magical. And so do I. ❤


If if your interested in learning more about Irish baby names here are a few links to check out:













A Parenting Manifesto I Love

March 23, 2018

I became a parenting and child advocate quit by accident.  I have even been referred to as a parenting expert. The fact of the matter is I’m not sure  I even believe in the idea of “parenting experts.”   It just so happened  that my daughter’s preschool teacher said to me “Whatever you are doing you must share it with other parents.”  Subsequently my oldest daughter’s Kindergarten teacher said to me “Have you ever considered writing a book about parenting? You really should”.  It was my children’s teachers who first put the idea of me sharing parenting information out into the universe. Since then it has manifested in ways I never expected. Teachers are good like that.

My husband I chose to become parent later in life – in our mid-30’s.  Like many of you, parenting is by far my most valiant life adventure. When I embarked on the journey of care for another’s soul I was clear on one thing, I didn’t have all the knowledge and resources I needed to be successful. I became an ardent researcher and an eager knowledge seeker. I’m an imperfect parent but stubbornly dedicated.  It takes a village to raise a child and my tribe and community was built with  consciousness and intention.

There are many thought leaders who have influenced my parenting style, and Dr. Brené Brown is just one.  Her official line: “I’m a research professor at the University of Houston where I hold the Huffington Endowed Chair. I’ve spent the past sixteen years studying courage, vulnerability, empathy, and shame. I’m the author of four books: The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, Rising Strong, and Braving the Wilderness. The bottom line: I believe that vulnerability – the willingness to be “all in” even when you know it can mean failing and hurting – is brave. I do NOT believe that cussing and praying are mutually exclusive. And, I absolutely believe that the passing lane is for passing only.”

Brené Brown is a badass.  She teaches that owning our story and loving ourselves through the process is the  bravest thing that we will ever do in our lifetime. Our story is unique and it is the source of  our Superpower.

The difficulties and tragedies we encounter in childhood and beyond do not have to permanently dent or crack us.  They can be the source of our Superpowers, if we allow it. The very best thing about adversity is it can gift extraordinary fruit.  Traits like leadership, discernment, intuition, wisdom, patience, empathy, compassion, mercy,  diplomacy, the utherworldly ability to sniff out bullshit, Nar-Dar (narcissist radar), Cray-Dar (‘problematic-people’ radar) 😊, analytical problem solving,  foresight and strategic planning, courage, strength, resilence and fortitude.

Brené says only those who have earned the right to know our story should hear it. See what I mean. Badass.

Below is Brené Brown’s Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto.


Above all else, I want you to know that you are loved and lovable. You will learn this from my words and actions—the lessons on love are in how I treat you and how I treat myself.

I want you to engage with the world from a place of worthiness. You will learn that you are worthy of love, belonging, and joy every time you see me practice self-compassion and embrace my own imperfections.

We will practice courage in our family by showing up, letting ourselves be seen, and honoring vulnerability. We will share our stories of struggle and strength. There will always be room in our home for both.

We will teach you compassion by practicing compassion with ourselves first; then with each other. We will set and respect boundaries; we will honor hard work, hope, and perseverance. Rest and play will be family values, as well as family practices.

You will learn accountability and respect by watching me make mistakes and make amends, and by watching how I ask for what I need and talk about how I feel.

I want you to know joy, so together we will practice gratitude.

I want you to feel joy, so together we will learn how to be vulnerable.

When uncertainty and scarcity visit, you will be able to draw from the spirit that is a part of our everyday life.

Together we will cry and face fear and grief. I will want to take away your pain, but instead I will sit with you and teach you how to feel it.

We will laugh and sing and dance and create. We will always have permission to be ourselves with each other. No matter what, you will always belong here.

As you begin your Wholehearted journey, the greatest gift that I can give to you is to live and love with my whole heart and to dare greatly.

I will not teach or love or show you anything perfectly, but I will let you see me, and I will always hold sacred the gift of seeing you. Truly, deeply, seeing you.


This my darlings is my promise to you.



#Niamh #Birdie #Love #Family

How to Protect Children from Toxic Adults

March 17, 2018

We teach our kids to respect adults and other children, and they should, respect is an important part of growing up to be a pretty great human. There’s something else though that’s even more important – teaching them to respect themselves first.

Sometimes that means letting them know when we don’t support something an adult in their lives has said or done and giving them permission to close down to the influence of those who contaminate their self-esteem, their happiness and their self concept. It’s not always easy or possible to withdraw from a relationship, but with our support they can minimize the influence and impact of those broken adults who might otherwise do harm.

Toxic relationships are ones in which someone’s own negative behavior can cause emotional damage or contaminate the way a child sees himself or herself, or how other’s see that child.  They can lead to anxiety, depression, physical illnesses and feelings of isolation. Children can end up blaming themselves and feeling guilt or shame. Even if there is something about our kids that needs a little bit of a nudge in a different direction, any behavior that makes them feel less than or ashamed just won’t do it. In fact, it will do damage.

We all have an inner voice. It’s the one that tells us how we’re going, whether we’re good enough, how we think the world sees us, what we’ve done wrong and what we’ve done right. When another adult is toxic, the risk is that the inner voice of the child will pick it up and make the words their own. Children are born awesome. Our job as the adults in their lives is to make sure they know this and to minimize the effect of anyone who might influence them to feel otherwise. When children feel small, inadequate, stupid, naughty, troublesome, untrustworthy, incapable or silenced in response to the comments of any adult in their lives, it’s time for us to be their voice.

We adults will get it wrong sometimes. On some days, we’ll get it so wrong that it will feel like ‘right’ won’t want anything to do with us for a while, but kids are savvy and seem to know the difference between a bad day, a bad mood, a bad decision, bad timing and something more enduring and targeted. Our kids will look to us for confirmation and validation of what the world is telling them. Though it’s important to support the other adults in their lives as much as we possibly can, when there is an adult who is causing them harm or responding to them with bad intent, it’s equally important for us to let our children know that we don’t support that adult’s behaviour.

Toxic people can come in the form of teachers, coaches, relatives, parents (our own and the parents of others) neighbors, community members, and friends. Adults should be a source of support, safety and trust for children. At the very least, they should do no harm. When they are a source of shame, anxiety or stress, the risk to the child is too much to allow it to keep going. Though it’s important to provide our kids with the opportunity to be resilient to difficult people, part of being resilient is knowing when to draw a bold heavy thick line between our self and another. Kids need our permission and our guidance to being able close down to people who scrape against them continuously.

This doesn’t mean that we withdraw our support from every adult who makes a decision that we or our children don’t like. We’re all human and life disappoints us all sometimes with plenty of decisions that go against us along the way.

Part of becoming a successful adult is learning to bounce back from these with the capacity to sustain relationships through disagreements and disappointments.

A bad decision or a difficult relationship isn’t necessarily a toxic one. The line can be a blurry though. Toxic people are usually masters in the art subtlety and skilled at staying just behind-the-line-but-not really-but-kind-of. Fortunately, children are often skilled at picking up on when something – or someone – feels bad. I’m not talking about the cranky teacher or the day they get blamed for something that isn’t their fault. I’m talking about ongoing behavior that feels shaming, belittling and ‘bad’.  Kids might not always talk about it because they won’t always have the words, so it’s up to us as the adults in their lives to notice the changes in them and to listen when they try to tell us that something isn’t right.

The Signs

Kids won’t always be able to say when something doesn’t feel right, particularly if it’s in response to an adult whose authority they’ve been taught to respect or whose intentions they’ve been taught to trust. The first sign that something isn’t right might be in their behavior.

Here are some things to watch out for. Remember, you’re looking for changes from their normal:

  • They seem withdrawn.
  • They don’t want to go  somewhere they previously had no problems going (e.g. school, soccer, dancing). (Remember that you’re looking for changes from the norm. If your child has always had trouble saying goodbye at school drop-off, that doesn’t mean there is someone there that they are having trouble with. What’s more likely is that they’re a little bit anxious about leaving you.)
  • Their grades drop.  Particularly noteworthy when grades dip in subject areas they have historically had interest and excelled.
  • They cry more easily than usual, or more often.
  • They have a lack of energy.
  • They aren’t as interested in the things they used to enjoy.
  • They have unexplained tummy aches, headaches or other pains or illnesses.
  • They’re clingy.
  • They’re aggressive or more cranky than usual.
  • They seem worried more than usual.
  • They seem more controlling than usual.(When there is something that feels out of control in one part of their lives, a normal response is to try to take control over other things.)
  • They’re treating their siblings differently.(They might treat younger people in their lives the way they feel that someone is treating them.)


Now Explore a Little Deeper. Have the Conversation.

If you suspect there is somebody in your child’s life who is causing trouble, have the conversation.

Here are some questions to guide you in your chat with them:

  • So – if you had to say five people you like being around, who would you say? What makes them good to be around? Is there anyone who doesn’t feel good to be around?
  • Start with something that’s easy to talk about so your child will (hopefully!) feel relaxed enough and engaged enough with you to speak about something that might be more difficult.
  • Would you say they’re mostly good to be around or mostly bad? What makes it so? How do you feel when you’ve been with that person?  Do you feel relaxed and free to be yourself or on edge?  How does your body feel when you’ve are around that person?  Do you feel loose and relaxed or tight and rigid and stiff?
  • Look particularly for how your child feels about him/herself. Remember the danger of toxic people is damage to the self-concept.
  • What do you think that person thinks of you?

Adults don’t have to like everyone and they don’t have to like your child. Regardless of how an adult feels though, it’s critical that any negative personal opinions are kept away from the child. An adult might disapprove of a certain behavior, but the child should always feel supported and liked regardless. This needs to be conveyed verbally as well as non-verbally and energetically. It’s not enough for an adult to say, ‘But I’ve never said anything bad.’Good. But what about the non-verbals?  What about the mental energy you are directing toward the child?

What does that person think of other kids? I’ll If your child says this person is grumpy with everyone, there’s less chance that the things the adult says or does will be taken personally, which minimizes the chances of doing damage. If your child says the adult is fine with everyone else but doesn’t like him or her, then that sound you hear will be alarm bells.

Does this person treat you the same as the other kids or a bit differently? If differently, how?

These questions are more for you. Your child might not be able to answer them directly but they are important ones to consider. The answers might be more likely to come up through observation, passing comments or in direct conversation with the adult in questions.

  • Is your child’s feelings towards this adult different to their feelings towards other adults?
  • If there are a few adults the child feels like this about, it may be a symptom of a broader problem, rather than one problem person. Is your child misinterpreting?
  • Taking things personally that aren’t intended that way?
  • Acting in a way that’s problematic?
  • Does the adult exclude your child from activities or give your child less opportunities than other kids who are also under the adult’s supervision or care.
  • Is the adult quick to blame the child for their (the adult’s) own behavior, mood or feelings?
  • Does the adult lack empathy towards your child and fail to understand why your child feels or behaves as he or she does?
  • Does the adult often find fault with your child?
  • What is it that the adult does that causes distress to the child?

See if you can get a handle on exactly what it is about the adult that upsets the child. It may just be that the adult has a loud voice, or a way of speaking that sounds more abrasive than is intended. A measure is whether the adult does this with everyone or just your child.

Damage of the Toxic Adult

  • Does the adult interfere with the child’s opportunities?
  • Does the adult try to convince you, (or particularly in the case of a parent) health professionals there is something wrong with the child?
  • Does the adult try to harm the child’s reputation (or the reputation of the child’s parents, family or friends) by spreading lies and malicious gossip?   Toxic adults are slick and often present malicious gossip to others under the guise of  ‘care and concern’ to camouflage their malevolent intentions.
  •  Does the adult try to convince the child there is something wrong with them or one of their primary caregivers. (Personality disordered adults often use psychological projection. The defend themselves from from negative impulses or qualities by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others. For example, the depressed adult may try to convince the child they are sad or depressed. )
  • Does that adult do anything that undermines the child’s capacity to cope or their belief that they can cope (with whatever)?

Kids are born with a beautifully intact sense of who they are. As the adults in their lives, it’s up to us to see to it that their self-concept stays as dent free as possible. Of course there will be scars and bruises – they’re an unavoidable part of learning and being better, stronger, wiser and braver, but when deeper cuts are made into that self-concept, the damage is harder to repair. Sometimes it changes people forever.

As parents, we are told to support teachers  and other adults in the lives of our children and this is true – to a point.

What’s more important is supporting our own children in drawing the line between what is acceptable and what isn’t when it comes to other people. Sometimes that means openly naming unacceptable behavior When did it ever become more important to support an adult than to protect a child?

I’m not talking about openly speaking out against a decision that neither you nor the child like, or behavior that might have gone against what you would prefer. There are plenty of times to ‘suck it up’ and get on with it. What I’m talking about is the behavior that does damage. It can be a hard line to draw, and given the finesse with which toxic people have mastered the art of subtlety, and staying off the radar, it can also be a blurry one. (Sadly, it may takes months or even years of toxic misbehavior to realize the adult you are dealing with  has a personality disorder or other serious psychopathology.) Remember this though – you know your child, and you will know when something is changing them – the way they are, the way they see themselves. Trust yourself to know when something isn’t right. If it feels ‘off’, then it probably is.

We can’t stop toxic people coming into the lives of our children. What we can do though is give our kids independence of mind and permission to recognize that person and their behavior as wrong. We can teach our kids that being kind and respectful doesn’t necessarily mean accepting someone’s behavior beliefs or influence. The kindness and respect we teach our children to show to adults should never be used against them by those broken adults who might do harm.

Our kids are amazing. Let’s do whatever we have to to keep them that way.



Credit: Hey Sigmund – Where they Science of Psychology Meet The Art of Being Human

Mighty Girl Book Pick Of The Week

February 19, 2018

Confidence code for girls book

A Mighty Girl Pick of the Day: “The Confidence Code for Girls: Taking Risks, Messing Up, and Becoming Your Amazingly Imperfect, Totally Powerful Self.”

Girls today are achieving like never before, but many are still consumed by self-doubt on the inside. Especially during the tween and teen years, girls are filled with worries about everything from how they look to why they aren’t getting “perfect” grades” to what others think about them — and all these worries are holding girls back taking risks and challenging themselves. But if they can crack the confidence code, they can learn how to set those worries aside and focus their energy on what’s really important: confidently pursuing their dreams and embracing their authentic selves!

In this timely new release, Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, the authors of the best-selling “The Confidence Code” for adult women, draw on the latest research to help tweens understand why doubt can be so insidious and how to short-circuit the thoughts that drain your confidence and hold you back. Graphic novel strips and humorous illustrations throughout help draw girls into the book, while lists, quizzes, and stories from real-life girls help readers understand how to embrace risk (and failure), overcome anxieties, and be happy in their own skins. By learning these skills in the tween years, girls will feel empowered and brave enough to take on anything! Highly recommended for ages 8 to 12.

“The Confidence Code for Girls” is available at https://www.amightygirl.com/the-confidence-code-for-girls

For adult women, we also recommend the original edition, “The Confidence Code,” at https://amzn.to/2H5KsVW

For two excellent guides for teens on this topic, check out “Conquer Negative Thinking for Teens” ) and “The Self-Esteem Workbook for Teens” (https://www.amightygirl.com/the-self-esteem-workbook-for-teens)

the For more confidence-building books to help Mighty Girls of all ages discover her inner strength, visit our “Self-Confidence” book section at http://amgrl.co/2qxXQhH

Making Caring Count Project for Children

February 18, 2018


Building Self Esteem in Children

February 17, 2018

A positive self esteem is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child.

Here are 25 phases that you can use to increase confidence and self-esteem in your children: and

1. “You are capable.”
As a parent, our words become the internal language in the minds of our children. We know that our kids are capable of so much—let your words match this belief. Avoid saying things like, “You are going to hurt yourself” or “Don’t fall.” Our tone and language should communicate confidence.

2. “That was brave.”
Sometimes we need to notice things aloud. That means to let them know when we see them being brave. When we notice our kids being brave, they start to notice too.

3. “You’ve got this.”
You know that they have the skills and means necessary and your vote of confidence will give them that extra boost they need to succeed.

4. “I believe in you.”
As the parent, you have faith in your child’s ability. When you openly communicate that faith in them it will inspire it within themselves.

5. “You can do hard things.”
When the going gets tough the obstacles can seem insurmountable. So this direct phrase will tell them exactly what they need to hear—acknowledgment that this is hard work and that they are capable

6. No matter what happens, I love you.”
Our children need to hear words that communicate unconditional love. That means providing reassurance of our love—regardless of the outcome.

7. “Let’s try it together.”
Sometimes we all need a helping hand and be sure they know that you will be that hand when they need it.

8. “How’d you do that?”
Ask questions. When you see them do something hard, say, “How did you manage that? How can you do it again?”

9. “That sounds awesome, can you tell me more?” Take it one step further than just noticing their effort—ask them to elaborate. Then hear the the pride in their voice when they explain.

10. “How can I help?”
When they get really stuck, don’t be afraid to offer your support. Let them know that the offer to help is on the table.

11. “Give it your best.”
We will never win it all, do it all, or be it all. But we can give it our best. Let’s teach our kids this lesson.

12. “I know it’s hard, but I have seen you do it before.”
It can seem overwhelming, but let’s give them evidence of when they have been successful before. This will instill the confidence that they can do it again.

13. “You are enough.”
It doesn’t matter what the outcome—they need to know they are enough just the way they are.

14. “You make me proud.”
Straight and to the point—you can never tell your child this enough.

15. “Even when we get frustrated, we still love each other.”
Feelings like frustration, anger and hopelessness are all common human emotions. And despite these big feelings we will stand by the side of our children with unconditional love.

16. “I wonder what would happen if…”
Try to evoke curiosity and a new way of thinking by wondering about the possibilities.

17. “Do you know what grit means?”
Kids love learning new words. Teach them about grit, resilience and perseverance to help them reach towards these goals.

18. “Want to hear a story?”
Share stories with your kids. Tell them about times when you overcame obstacles, met your goals, and reached for the stars.

19. “Do you want to try something crazy?”
Challenge your children with things they think are beyond reach (even if it sounds a little crazy). They might surprise you and themselves.

20. “Sometimes new things can seem scary, but they can be exciting.”
Young children tend to cling toward people and environments that are familiar. But if we emphasize how exciting and joyful that new experiences can be, we can encourage the confidence to venture out of the comfort zone.

21. “I know you tried your hardest and I am proud of that effort.”
When we see them working hard and giving it their all, we can recognize this effort. After all, life is about the journey, not the destination.


22. “It looks like you are curious about this, let’s take a deeper look.”
Encourage curiosity and exploration in children of all ages. As a result, they will be more likely to seek out new information and experiences with confidence.

23. “Sometimes we make mistakes, and that is how we learn.”
The path to growing up is filled with stumbling blocks and learning experiences. When we parent without shame, we help our children to use these mistakes as learning experiences.

24. “How did you challenge yourself today?”
Start the conversation about growing, changing and taking risks. With each challenge and accomplishment, the sense of self-esteem will grow.

25. “Repeat after me, ‘I can do it.’”


Grief at School – Training Curriculum

February 9, 2018

American Hospice Foundation created a model Grief at School training curriculum that has been used by more than 3,500 schools and was endorsed by the national associations of school counselors, school psychologists and social workers. As part of their community service mission, many hospices have used this curriculum to train school staff to address the needs of grieving students and discuss grief and loss in the classroom.

Failure to address the needs of grieving children can have short-term effects on their school performance and serious consequences later in life. Schools can play a vital role in helping their pupils come to terms with losses and preparing them for life’s inevitable tragedies. Teachers, counselors, and other school personnel have considerable influence in the lives of students, especially for those for whom school assumes the importance of family. Children often look to their teachers and counselors when they need help in overcoming problems that are difficult to discuss at home.

By introducing classroom lessons about grief and loss, and responding appropriately when a child has suffered a loss, school personnel can encourage open discussions and enable students to develop healthy coping skills.

We hope you find these materials useful. They are all free and can be reproduced and shared.

Grief at School Training Video

In this 35-minute video, renowned author and trainer Helen Fitzgerald leads a children’s grief group and demonstrates how to introduce therapeutic activities in the classroom using stories, games, writing, and art. Ms. Fitzgerald is a certified thanatologist with more than 35 years of experience in designing and implementing grief programs for children.



Grief at School: A Guide for School Personnel
Grief at School: A Self-Study Toolkit for School-Based Professionals