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Psychotherapist Offers Expert Tips For Parents So We Can Empower Kids As They Go Back To School

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Best-selling author, TEDx speaker, and psychotherapist Jodi Aman, LCSW, knows the anxiety that both children and their parents are facing about returning to school this far. In a conversation with LittleThings, Jodi shared a few tips to help parents and their kids prepare.

Jodi believes that parents need to start from a place where they feel comfortable with their decision, one way or another.

“Remind yourself that you are empowered rather than disempowered,” Jodi urged.

“Especially with kids going back to school with COVID still rampant in many parts of our country, we deeply feel the ‘no choice’ conundrum. But within every action you take you do have a choice.”

“You may be struggling with only having to choose one, when you’d prefer two options, but it is still a choice. If you focus on what you can choose and do so consciously, this will empower you (instead of making you distracted by being out of control) to make other choices to make things work the best for your family.”

mom daughter serious talk

Sometimes, children won’t be on board with the decision you make. Jodi feels it’s important to determine whether or not that reason is related to concerns about the virus.

“There are different reasons kids may not want to go back to school, so it is important for you to ask why so you can address the specific worries in their minds,” she noted. “It may not be what you think!”

Many kids will have to wear masks in areas where they can return to a classroom. Jodi believes that while kids may have mixed feelings about wearing masks, parents need to validate them while empowering their ability to adjust to this new normal.

“You can validate any feelings that they express and then let them know that humans adapt and they will be able to as well. Belief about what they can do is important to relay and helps decrease their worries,” she noted.

mom daughter mask

With younger children, Jodi encourages building up to all-day mask-wearing over time. “Let them build up to many hours a day so they get used to it. It can be like wearing new prescription glasses,” she suggested.

“You might get dizzy the first day if you wear them too long. Have them do different activities with a mask so it becomes second nature. Don’t spend energy hating the mask, this exhausts you and can make you kids feel anxious and troubled. You have to model adaptability to them.”

Kids should also practice not touching their faces before their return to the classroom. “This is one of the hardest things is that people touch our eyes, nose, and mouth constantly and now we need to train ourselves not to,” Jodi explained.

“For kids, especially if they have been home all this time, haven’t had to practice this yet. Try to come up with fun ways to learn not to touch one’s face. The masks may help with this, but there may be times when there is physically distancing possible and they may take masks off, like during lunch, before washing their hands and not having ever had to have this awareness, they may need to practice this. Rather than increasing anxiety, normalize this so your kids feel like taking smart action is an empowered way to live free of worry.”

boys seesaw masks

It’s also important to prepare kids for conflicts with their peers regarding masks and personal space.

“This situation may increase times when other children aren’t respecting your child’s space,” Jodi noted.

“Some kids are not kinesthetically aware and may need to be reminded frequently to physically distance. Help your kids find the words to ask for space when they are in these situations. Practice doing this until they feel more comfortable.”

bullying

If your kid heads back to school and is struggling the space boundaries and other children, Jodi thinks you should make the teacher and any other adults in the room aware of the situation so that everyone is on the same page.

“A conversation is to be had with the adults to help keep the other child away from your child,” she noted.

boy upset mask

It’s also as important as ever for parents to address bullying with their children. “One consequence of people feeling out of control is that they bully others to try to get a sense of control back,” she points out.

“Just like every other year, make sure you speak to your kids about what to do if and when they are bullied. Get close to an adult, tell an adult, and tell you so you can decide next steps together.”

classroom masks

Parents may be more hesitant to reach out to already-overwhelmed teachers this year. It’s as important as ever to keep teachers in the loop right now, Jodi explains.

“Each teacher lets parents know how to reach them, whether it is by email or phone. Teachers may be overwhelmed but they are sensitive to what kids might be going through, so they are available to talk,” she says.

“They appreciate parents reaching out to co-support the kids. Go into the conversation assuming you are working together for the common good of your child. Acknowledge how hard this must be for them, too. Let them know what you are hearing and observing. Ask how you can support them.”

We’re all venturing into new territory as we head back to schools and workplaces. Your kids will be more prepared if they can go into situations feeling prepared to handle things as they happen.

“You want to help your kids think of themselves as empowered problem solvers,” Jodi said.

“Find out what exactly they are anxious about. This will inform what actions you can suggest they take to help them see themselves as empowered problem-solvers.”

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Cynthia Nixon on HBO’s ‘The Gilded Age’ Resuming Production: Daily COVID Tests for Actors, Wardrobe Department ‘Greatly Scaled Down’

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Production on HBO’s “The Gilded Age” shut down three days before it was slated to begin back in March, and actor Cynthia Nixon has finally had her first fitting as the industry begins to ramp back up.

She was picked up at her New York City apartment by a Teamster driver.  “I showed him my green screen saying I had passed my [daily COVID] questionnaire,” Nixon said on Thursday’s episode of the Variety and iHeart podcast “The Big Ticket.” “He showed me his phone with his green screen. He was also behind an awful lot of Plexiglass at the front of the vehicle. I was in the back of the vehicle.”

Cameras will start rolling on the HBO series on Sept. 29. The show revolves around the influx of newly wealthy people in New York City in the 1800s during the Industrial Revolution. “The Gilded Age” was originally set at NBC in 2012, but never got off the ground, even after a series order in 2018. In spring 2019, the show moved to HBO.

COVID safety protocols will add an “enormous amount of time” to the shooting schedule, Nixon said.

“We have a lot of women in our cast,” she said. “Between the corsets and the wigs and the hats, it takes a while for each of us to get dressed, and they have greatly scaled down the wardrobe personnel,” Nixon said. “So I think on a day when there are six of us shooting and let’s say four or five of us are women, we’re only going to have two wardrobe people to do that. That’s going to be an enormous amount of people waiting around.”

The use of extras on set has also been significantly cut back. “I think there are a lot of things that are being CGI-ed that previously would have been background actors,” Nixon said.

Despite the production changes, everyone was prepared to start shooting again. “Knock on wood, I think they’ve done an amazing job at what I’ve seen so far,” Nixon said. “They’ve been very much in contact with us throughout the past months. We’ve had Zoom call after Zoom call, hearing all the precautions and all the medical people who have been hired.”

Created by “Downton Abbey’s” Julian Fellowes, the cast also includes Christine Baranski, who plays Nixon’s old-money sister, Carrie Coon, Taissa Farmiga, Jack Gilpin and Jeanne Tripplehorn. Making her television debut will be Louisa Jacobson, Meryl Streep’s youngest daughter.

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An Oral History of Unbreakable With M. Night Shyamalan and Samuel L. Jackson

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In retrospect, it’s easy to see why Unbreakable was not the box office hit that many were expecting from M. Night Shyamalan in the year 2000. The director had the impossible task of following The Sixth Sense, the second biggest movie of 1999 (behind only The Phantom Menace); he was making a comic-book movie at a time when the genre was out of favor (thanks largely to the silliness of the late-’90s Batman movies); and the studio had marketed it, misleadingly, as a Sense-style thriller. And yet, it’s also easy to see why Unbreakable would go on to find a devoted audience on DVD and eventually streaming, and why it would start to pop up in “Best Superhero Movies” lists in the late 2000s: It’s really, really good – and well ahead of its time. The dark, grounded, and refreshing take on the superhero genre also benefited from some incredible performances from Bruce Willis (as train crash survivor and reluctant hero David Dunn) and Samuel L. Jackson (as Elijah Price, a.k.a. Mr. Glass, whose friendly fascination with Dunn belies more villainous intentions). In this oral history of Unbreakable, Jackson tells Rotten Tomatoes about his first impressions of “Night” (“a little dictatorial”) and the appeal of his fragile villain Elijah, while Shyamalan reveals the origins of his tale and its journey from risky studio proposition to cult favorite.

What follows is a history of Unbreakable (2000), and reflection upon it, drawn from sit-down interviews with M. Night Shyamalan and Samuel L. Jackson. 


ALSO WATCH: An Oral History of Split | An Oral History of Glass


“I think you might be a real-life superhero.”

M. Night Shyamalan: When I was editing Sixth Sense, I was writing Unbreakable, and the idea originally was a plane crashed and the guy survives and then someone says, “I think you might be a real-life superhero.” But then I put it into a train ’cause I love trains and I felt it was more comic book-y for me. It felt more reasonable that he would survive [a train accident] without a scratch, and so [it] could be dismissed as luck. But then Elijah’s character comes to him and says, “No, I think you might be a superhero.” This idea of a regular person who doesn’t have anything to do with superheroes in a world in which that doesn’t exist is told: Hey, you know these fake things in comic books? I think they’re actually based on people like you.

(Photo by © Buena Vista)

“He said, ‘Oh I just finished this movie with this kid, and he’s writing a movie for us right now.’”

Samuel L. Jackson: I was just finishing a job in Morocco and I had to go into Marrakesh. My wife was coming for few days, so we were gonna, I guess, take a holiday. I was in a casino, heard a voice – Bruce! – I turned around, we talked. He asked me what I was doing; I told him. I asked him where he’d been, and he said, “Oh I just finished this movie with this kid, and he’s writing a movie for us right now.” I was like, what movie was that, and he told me. I said, “Oh, I read that movie. I wanted to be in it.” He called Night on the phone, and Night says, “Oh, I’m writing one of your scenes right now.” And we start talking, he tells me what the movie’s about. [I said] don’t read it to me, I’ll just read it when you send it.

“It was really from Quentin that I grabbed that union of Sam and Bruce.”

Shyamalan: One of my favorite movies is Pulp Fiction, and I really wanted that flavor that Sam and Bruce gave in Pulp Fiction for Unbreakable. Obviously, [it’s] a totally different story and all that stuff, but that kinda cool, edgy, grounded quality that they both had in that movie… I thought [Willis’] quietness versus [Jackson’s] pizazz could be really fun. It was really from Quentin that I grabbed that union.

Unbreakable

(Photo by © Buena Vista)

“His body’s so fragile, but he had this great mane of hair like a lion – very strong.”

Jackson: I love the character. I’m a huge comic book fan. I like the fact that he had this great arc. [He’s] not a weak character at all; he’s just fragile, physically fragile. It takes a certain kind of person to be able to accept that they have something like that, carry on and have a strong belief that, “If I’m this person, there must be some person out there that’s opposite me that can justify the fact that God made somebody like me.” He had these things that were wrong with him that made him stronger. That’s what you want — you want a character that definitely knows what he’s about. I talked to the costume director about the color scheme; we had great talks about the color scheme and the kind of materials he wanted to use. I kind of brought the hairstyle idea to him and Night accepted it, and then okay, let’s build it and see what happens and to give Elijah things that were very distinct. It has a level of strength to it that his body didn’t have. His body’s so fragile, but he had this great mane of hair like a lion, very strong.

Shyamalan: Sam brought that Frederick Douglas look to the table. The hair kinda parted and [created a] big silhouette that I love so much. He definitely brought the pizazz, which is what you expect from Sam.

“Those guys were icons and I was being very aggressive about the way we were making the movie.”

Shyamalan: I think I was 29 when I was doing Unbreakable. Or maybe even 28 when I wrote it. I was still in the early stages of my career, and those guys were icons… And I was being very aggressive about the way we were making the movie. Long takes. Three-minute takes, two-minute takes, four-minute takes – really aggressive filmmaking. And they just had to trust me. There’s no close-ups. There’s no this, there’s no that. And it’s very play-like.

Unbreakable

(Photo by © Buena Vista)

“We were kind of like his puppets in an interesting way.”

Jackson: First impression [of Shyamalan]: young, strong ego, a little dictatorial when we first started working together. He had certain ways he wanted us to do things, and he would tell us to do them. I came up through the theater, and theater is essentially a dictatorship – the director tells you to do something, you do it, or they ask you a question, you have to have the right answer to justify what you’re doing. Night went further than that. It was like, “I already know what you’re going to do, and I want you to do it this way.” We were kind of like his puppets in an interesting kind of way. There were specific times he would say, “Okay, try not to blink. Just do the whole thing without blinking.” Or he would say, “Don’t say the line that way, say it this way,” and I’m one of those actors that hates being given line readings. But he was very adamant about it. Bruce and I have been around together for quite a bit, so… it was kind of easy for us to kind of listen to Night and look at each other and go, “Yeah, wait till this kid finds out.”

We’re never gonna mention comic books, superheroes – any of that.”

Shyamalan: I think for the studio at that time… it was seen as a fringe element of the movie – that this is about comic books. “Oh, those are those weirdos that hang out at those conventions.” Back then, there was just Comic-Con, and it was very niche at that time. People weren’t aware of it. It was more cult-like. So, they said, “Let’s not make this a cult subject movie; let’s sell it more as a general thriller. We’re never gonna mention comic books, superheroes – any of that.” That meant you couldn’t even [promote] the main plot of the movie because that’s the plot of the movie: “Hey, I think you’re a real-life superhero.” That couldn’t be said in the ads. It was a really weird and ironic time that the thing that dominates the film industry now was the one thing they were running from. They thought that was the least commercial element of the film. Obviously, times have changed a great deal.

Unbreakable poster

(Photo by © Buena Vista)

“Immediately as the DVD came out you started to feel the change.”

Shyamalan: When the movie opened I think there was a disconnect because [audiences] were thinking it was kind of a sequel to Sixth Sense – it was me and Bruce and we sold it like that. So, there was confusion. People were coming to see a scary movie and that’s not what they saw, you know? But immediately as the DVD came out, you started to feel the change in their perception of the movie. And… “Oh, wait, this is about comic books?” And then again, six months later, six months later, six months later… it just kept growing and growing until I would cross the street and, if you and I were hanging out, invariably someone would come up to us and say: “Unbreakable! I love it, man. When are you making the sequel?


ALSO WATCH: An Oral History of Split | An Oral History of Glass

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Forrest Gump Author Winston Groom Dies at 77

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(FAIRHOPE, Ala.) — Winston Groom, whose novel “Forrest Gump” was made into a six-Oscar winning 1994 movie that became a soaring pop cultural phenomenon, has died at age 77.

Mayor Karin Wilson of Fairhope, Alabama, said in a message posted on social media that Groom had died in that south Alabama town. The death was confirmed by a local funeral home, which said arrangements were pending.

“It is with great sadness that I share the passing of our dear friend Winston Groom,” Wilson wrote on Facebook, adding her community had “lost an iconic author.”

“Forrest Gump” was the improbable tale of a slow-witted man who was a participant or witness to key points of 20th Century history — from Alabama segregationist Gov. George Wallace’s “stand at the schoolhouse door,” to meetings with presidents. Stars including Tom Hanks gained in popularity through the acclaim the movie and their performances received.

Groom was a 1965 graduate of the University of Alabama, according to the university, which said it was saddened by the passing of what it called a “legend.”

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey also issued a statement that Groom will forever be remembered for his classic work.

“Saddened to learn that Alabama has lost one of our most gifted writers. While he will be remembered for creating Forrest Gump, Winston Groom was a talented journalist & noted author of American history. Our hearts & prayers are extended to his family,” Ivey said in a message posted online.

Contact us at letters@time.com.

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