The Bully Within

Bullying is an issue which has captured the national spotlight in recent memory. What once was seen as an unpleasant rite of passage for many in their formative years, is now analyzed and studied with a tender, urgent care. The US government, through the Department of Health and Human Services, has even contributed to the proliferation of information on prevention geared towards children, parents, schools and communities. And for good reason.

It is estimated that approximately 25% of students experience bullying in a given year. With the advent of social media, bullying has moved beyond the boundary of schoolyards and now reaches anywhere a phone, tablet, or laptop does, effectively edging out any place of solace from perpetrators. And the cost can be devastating. Not only has an increase in rates of depression and anxiety been noted but suicidal ideation and attempts have doubled as a result; given that suicide is the second leading cause of death among students in middle school and beyond, the clamor for answers is quite understandable.

Bullying is far more pernicious than even these studies and prevention programs suggest. It is a human behavior which is not solely reserved for prepubescent students. And the extent of its scope can reach far beyond school or social media.

What if a bully’s reach was so vast as to be inescapable?

What if there was no place of comfort to be had from taunts, jabs, and jeers?

What if the bully were able to follow you relentlessly no matter where you turned?

What if your biggest bully lived inside your own mind?

Our minds are always abuzz with thought. More frequently than we might like to admit, those thoughts about ourselves are less than positive. If we were to hear anyone else be spoken to in the manner we sometimes speak to ourselves internally, there is little doubt we would classify it as bullying. But there is likely more to our cognitive traffic than we might realize.

Aaron Beck, the father of cognitive psychology, noted when working with depressed patients that they tended to experience negative spontaneous thoughts which he coined automaticnegative thoughts. The other thoughts we have are part of our conscious stream of thinking and are referred to as self-talk, our inner dialogue.

Beck noted that automatic thoughts tend to be negative and center around the self (“I’m so pathetic”), the world (“everybody ignores me”), and the future (“nothing is ever going to improve”). Automatic negative thoughts are plenty as well as repetitive. Since they generate in our own minds and sound as though they are our own thoughts, it can be easy to misinterpret automatic thinking as reasoned rational arguments or observations about ourselves. A constant barrage of negative cognitions can lead to low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety. If we then accept such thoughts as truth, then it becomes much easier to adopt them as value judgements and incorporate them into our conscious stream of thinking, thus becoming negative self-talk. This can easily plummet us downward into a sinking spiral of depression.

The silver lining to this darkening cloud of depressive thought is that it is a very typical experience shared by all; there is nothing abnormal about you for being subject to automatic negative thoughts. In fact, they are the reason behind the truism that we are our own worst critics. No matter how harsh the criticisms are which come from others, the voice inside our own minds is up to the task of topping them. Which leads into another positive which can allow us to poke holes through the clouds to let the sunshine in: we have the ability to control our own thinking. If we choose not to accept the negative automatic thoughts as true, then we can disrupt the tendency to add fuel to the fire by doubling down on negativity through our conscious self-talk.

So, how do we silence the bully within?

This can be accomplished by identifying, challenging, and then replacing the automatic negative thoughts in your mind. The tricky part is to become aware that you are being subjected to automatic negative thoughts before you incorporate them into your own conscious self-talk. One trick to accomplishing this is to give a name to your internal critic. This will allow you to distance who you are as a person from the automatic thoughts which pop up in your mind like so many prairie dogs of negativity. Labeling things comes naturally to us as human beings. If you give your critic a name, it becomes separate from you and gives you more power to challenge what it says about you. Make that nickname a silly or preposterous one and you take away its power, like “pantsing” the bully mid insult.

Once you have identified and named your inner bully, you can begin challenging the veracity of its claims. This is where automatic negative thoughts are at their weakest. When we accept them as true, we are often engaging in distorted thinking which we would not apply to negative comments about someone else. Here are three examples of how these distortions trick us into believing them.

1) All-or-nothing thinking:

These include evaluations about ourselves which are extreme, either black or white, with no gray in between. You can recognize such misleading thoughts because they use words like “always,” “never,” and “every.” It is one thing to be wrong in a given situation, nobody is perfect. But engaging in this kind of distortion would sound like “I am always wrong” or “I will never get this right.”

2) Selective abstraction:

This involves holding onto one detail taken out of context and ignoring everything else. This could be a form of perfectionism in which you believe you ruined a recital because of the mistake you made on one piece, or thinking that you are a failure in school because of the one “D” amidst the “A’s” and “B’s” on your report card.

3) Arbitrary inference:

This means drawing preliminary conclusions without sufficient evidence. An example of this would be thinking that your friend no longer likes you because they did not like your comment or return your text right away. It includes an arbitrary deadline and ignores other potential reasons for your friend’s inaction.

These automatic negative thoughts can be replaced once they are identified and challenged. This process silences the internal critic who bullies us into thinking that we are less than we really are. Life is challenging enough as it is without those sabotaging thoughts. Silencing our inner bully leaves us more emotionally whole and reduces our chances of developing low self-esteem, depression and anxiety. We owe it to ourselves, and to our emotional wellbeing, to be just as vigilant in preventing our inner bully as we are at preventing the schoolyard bully from causing pain and suffering to others.

Interested in more wellness counseling? Call 407-644-7671 to schedule an appointment with a JFS counselor today! Medicare, Medicaid and almost all commercial insurances are accepted. In addition, we’re one of the few remaining agencies in Central Florida that operates on a sliding fee scale (as low as $55 per session) for those who do not have insurance or have an insurance we do not accept.


Author: Jason Krause, MA
Jason Krause, MA is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern. He gained experience working for 10 years within the mental health field following graduation with his Bachelor’s Degree before returning to the University of Central Florida to follow his passion by earning a Master’s in Clinical Psychology.

Jason works with adults and children ages 12 and up to address a variety of concerns including anxiety, depression, self-injury, stress, substance abuse, and trauma. Jason utilizes unconditional positive regard, non-judgment, and empathy in a person-centered approach to help you discover and highlight your own personal strengths. Jason believes no one knows you better than yourself and he provides individualized care in a warm environment to help you actualize your potential.

Volunteer Spotlight: Robin and Marty Katz

Robin and Marty Katz working together to fight hunger in JFS Orlando’s Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry.

Teamwork makes the dream work! Robin and Marty Katz have volunteered together with JFS Orlando for about a decade. “I do it with Marty because he does the heavy lifting and I do the sorting and putting away,” says Robin. “And so we have a very good teamwork!”

Robin, originally from Chicago, and Marty, originally from New York, met in Arizona. They ran their own restaurant there until they decided to move to Florida in 1997. They sold the restaurant and bought a new business in Florida, a tea distributorship. At the same time, Robin was also a counselor and teacher. Now both retired, they enjoy working out, staying healthy, and their individual hobbies. Marty plays the trumpet with the Maitland Symphony Orchestra and Robin enjoys playing Mahjong. Additionally, they both enjoy volunteering in JFS Orlando’s Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry.

“We’ve always known about JFS!” says Robin. “Actually, Marty started volunteering several years ago. I started to do it with him. We like volunteering together. It’s such a good thing. We feel so good about doing it.” Robin and Marty volunteer the first and second Monday of every month for a couple hours in the afternoon. “It’s the easiest way for you to do community service,” says Marty. “It’s do-able. It’s a two-hour stretch,” says Robin.

The Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry serves clients of all walks of life who have run into an emergency and simply need a “hand up” to make ends meet. People come to pick-up food in their car, on the bus, and even on bicycles and wheelchairs! It’s something that has made quite an impression on Robin. “It really gets to me when I see people going on the bus, carrying all of these things, on a rainy day. What they have to go through to get food is enormous!”

When asked what they like the most about volunteering with JFS, the answer is clear: “Feeding people!” says Marty. “And we really like connecting with the people,” says Robin. “We like the generosity of the donors. And we love the blessings and the thankfulness from the people who get it. It’s just a really good thing.”

Besides our wonderful Pantry Assistant, the Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry is almost entirely run by volunteers. It simply couldn’t function without them. That’s why, when asked what she wishes the community knew about JFS, Robin says “That they need more volunteers. And there’s a lot of people that volunteer, but they’re always calling for more. I wish more people would come and see how nice it is to do it…if they would just give it a try!”

Thank you Robin and Marty for caring so much for the Pantry and the people we serve. You two are the perfect example of a power couple and we love having you on the JFS Volunteer Team!

Interested in helping your community by volunteering with JFS? Several roles are currently available, including helping out in the Pantry and behind-the-scenes office assistance. To sign up, contact us at 407-644-7593 ext. 249 or Audrey.Cohen@JFSorlando.org.

Volunteer Spotlight: Ruth Wallace

Ruth organizes the shelves with food for the hungry in JFS Orlando’s Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry.

Sweet. Caring. Motivated. These are just some of the words that describe one of JFS Orlando’s newest volunteers: Ruth Wallace. Originally from Syracuse, NY, Ruth got married, raised her three children, and now has four grandchildren all in Florida. Thirty years after starting her family, Ruth decided to go back to school for her Masters in Nursing from the University of Florida.

Even after graduating, Ruth continues to stay busy. She volunteers at the Winter Park Library. “I scan history documents. They have all documents about Winter Park history and they’re trying to make them accessible online. So I sit there and scan!” She also attends some classes at Rollins. One day she ran into her friend, Sue Katz. “I’ve known her forever. I went to a class with her at Rollins and she mentioned that she’d volunteered here [at JFS Orlando] for a while.” This past spring, Ruth decided to follow her friend’s suggestion and started volunteering in the Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry.

Every Monday through Thursday, the Pantry is moving. Individuals and families across the Greater Orlando area come by to pick-up food. Whether it’s because hours were cut at work and their paycheck just didn’t stretch far enough, or an unexpected car or house expense came up, the Pantry assists people with one of their most basic necessities: food.

Ruth loves working in the Pantry “because you get to see the people you serve. They’re always so thankful.” She also loves seeing her fellow volunteers, like Pantry volunteer Matthew and Legal Aid Society volunteer and former judge, Leonard Fleet. “I just wish the community knew about JFS’ various services. And I hope they know this is open to everybody, not just the Jewish community.”

Thank you, Ruth, for supporting JFS and the Pantry. From filling-in when we need an extra hand to sharing your smile with clients as they come pick-up food, it’s a pleasure to have you on the JFS volunteer team!

Interested in helping your community by volunteering with JFS? Several roles are currently available, including helping out in the Pantry and behind-the-scenes office assistance. To sign up, contact us at 407-644-7593 ext. 249 or Audrey.Cohen@JFSorlando.org.

The Fine Art of Forgiveness

Earlier this month, I was doing some paperwork one evening with the television on, news running in the background. Stories came and stories went. As I finalized a document by adding my signature with the flourish of a pen, one story in particular caught my attention. A young man, only 18 years old, was on the stand delivering a victim-impact statement at the sentencing of the woman convicted of killing his older brother. He was anxious, tugging several times at his collar to loosen the grip of the tie around his neck. As he spoke, he told the woman he forgave her and wished no harm to her. His words wobbled with emotion. Towards the end of his brief statement, he expressed that he loved this woman and asked the judge if he could embrace his brother’s killer.

Surprisingly, the judge agreed to his request. The courtroom fell silent except for muffled sobs as the two embraced. The sight itself was raw and emotional. Even looking back at it now, I can feel the intensity of it.

This tender moment was excruciatingly poignant, particularly set against the backdrop of a society which feels as though it has forgotten the art of forgiveness. It feels as though every effort is made today to embrace animosity, hatred, indifference to others, and in finding new ways to be offended. It feels as though precious little time is spent on breaking down walls, finding commonality, and forgiving those who offend us.

Though the mention of the word forgiveness tends to carry religious or spiritual overtones, there is an element of forgiveness which ties directly to psychology, to our mental health and wellbeing. There is a growing body of empirical research studying forgiveness, led by clinical psychologists like Everett Worthington. Research shows people who forgive those who offend them report decreased levels of anger, anxiety, and depression as well as increased patience and improved satisfaction with relationships. Research also shows that the process of forgiveness is stressful and requires work before being able to fully reap the benefits.

So, what is the secret to forgiveness? Why is something which carries with it such positive rewards so difficult to accomplish? I believe the answer to these questions, and the answer as to why society feels as though it is eschewing forgiveness in lieu of anger and vengeance, lies in the understanding of what forgiveness is and what it is not:

Forgiveness is a process.

Forgiveness takes time and energy and work.

Forgiveness is a willful conscious choice, not something that just “happens.”

Forgiveness is not a sign of weakness. Anyone who has forgiven another for wronging them understands that it requires great strength and courage to do so.

Forgiveness is not about absolving or pardoning the offender or forgetting what was done to you. In fact, if the offender is a dangerous or toxic person, it is not advisable to reinsert yourself into that person’s life in order to demonstrate that you have forgiven them. It is always important to protect yourself from further offense.

Forgiveness does not require the offender to apologize or ask for your forgiveness. In some instances, the offender is quite unrepentant and would keep offending if given the chance. It is much simpler to forgive a person who asks sincerely for it; it is far more difficult to forgive a person who refuses to accept responsibility, is not contrite, and who even blames you for “causing it in the first place.”

Forgiveness is all about you. Not about them.

When we are on the receiving end of a verbal, emotional, or even physical offense, there is a lot of negative emotion tied to it. We will likely become angry, and may harbor feelings of resentment, hurt, or even hatred towards the offender. And rightly so. These emotions are quite normal responses to being hurt. They tend to be powerful and are supported by natural desires for revenge or justice. When we are slighted, we are tied negatively to the offense and the offender. We may think about it frequently, almost obsessively. In psychology, this is referred to as rumination. We may reach out to others in order to validate our anger, or we may turn inward and try to find a reason why we deserved such treatment. The more frequently we ruminate, the strong our tie is to the offense. That tie becomes thick and heavy, like a rusted metal chain which binds us. The longer we ruminate, the more we feed negative emotions. And in the end, we are what we eat.

If we feed negativity, it will grow within us. If it grows, it will eventually spill out into other parts of our lives, impacting our mood, our relationships, and our health. The chain we carry binds us to the offense. As we move throughout our day, we are reminded about it continually with each step, reliving the moment and continuing to feed our anger, animosity, and other negative emotions associated with the offense. The weight of such a burden can be almost overwhelming.

This is where forgiveness can benefit us most. Remember, it is a process. Forgiveness includes defining the offending behavior. It entails examining all our emotions tied to the offense, bringing them to the surface to explore and process. This is the difficult part where many get stuck. Processing pain might require some assistance from someone else if you feel stuck. It is sometimes preferable to do such exploring in a safe environment with a therapist who can guide you through the process and help you make sense of the senseless.

This process may help you find that the chain which binds you to the offense is not fastened securely to your ankle or neck, locked and immovable. Upon closer examination, you may find the chain is held in your hand. You might be more affixed to the chain than the chain is affixed to you. Forgiveness, in its basic form, is about consciously deciding to release yourself from resentment and anger. It is a process which takes effort and strength and courage. When you are ready, you will be able to let the chain drop free from your hands. The burden of rumination replaced with peace. That peace is yours and is not contingent upon the offender at all. Forgiveness is for you, not anyone else.

Thankfully, we will likely never have to face the prospect of forgiving someone for killing a loved one like the young man from the story above. But even if this were the case, his example was inspiring in that it demonstrated the potential power for healing within us all. We have the keys to happiness within us. We have the keys to unlocking the chains which bind us.

Interested in more wellness counseling? Call 407-644-7671 to schedule an appointment with a JFS counselor today! Medicare, Medicaid and almost all commercial insurances are accepted. In addition, we’re one of the few remaining agencies in Central Florida that operates on a sliding fee scale (as low as $55 per session) for those who do not have insurance or have an insurance we do not accept.


Author: Jason Krause, MA
Jason Krause, MA is a Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern. He gained experience working for 10 years within the mental health field following graduation with his Bachelor’s Degree before returning to the University of Central Florida to follow his passion by earning a Master’s in Clinical Psychology.

Jason works with adults and children ages 12 and up to address a variety of concerns including anxiety, depression, self-injury, stress, substance abuse, and trauma. Jason utilizes unconditional positive regard, non-judgment, and empathy in a person-centered approach to help you discover and highlight your own personal strengths. Jason believes no one knows you better than yourself and he provides individualized care in a warm environment to help you actualize your potential.

Volunteer Spotlight: Judith Hara

Judith prepares to hand out a shopping cart full of donated groceries to a client of JFS Orlando’s Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry.

“It’s only a drop of what they need, but it helps.” Longtime volunteer Judith Hara can’t remember exactly how long she’s volunteered in the Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry—“Over five years,” she estimates—but she knows she loves doing it. “People have to eat and we’re helping in the little way we can. It’s the right thing to do. It’s just such a good feeling to be able to help.”

Born in New York, Judith moved to Orlando as a young girl in the second grade. She later became a registered nurse and mental health counselor, then a wife and mother. “Until last year, we [my husband and I] were caregivers for our parents. And that was a full-time job. Now I’m entering a new phase of life. My husband and I travel to New York a lot to see our grandkids. I’m very involved as a grandma, as a bubbe. Our two granddaughters live up there. They’re 5 and 8. It’s a great age! And I volunteer. I’m going to be working at the Holocaust Center—I’m a second generation of survivors—and I volunteer here [at JFS Orlando].”

Judith and her husband have supported JFS Orlando for several years. “The whole family is pretty involved with JFS. It’s a marvelous organization that helps a lot of people.” By volunteering, Judith gets to see the direct impact on the community right before her eyes. “You give $1 and you give $6 worth of buying,” she explains. “The food goes directly to the people that need it. That’s really cool! When they have food drives and people donate—you actually see it on the shelf and then in the basket going to somebody. It’s not like there’s middle men. It goes straight to them!”

Due to her travelling, Judith has a flexible volunteer schedule with the Pantry. She picks and chooses when she comes in depending on her schedule and when she’s needed. “It depends on their need. Whenever they need me and I’m available. That’s why Matthew [my volunteer partner for today] never knows when he’s going to see me again!”

Judith hands fellow volunteer, Matthew, a set of food.

Giving back to the community is one of her favorite things about volunteering, but Judith admits that meeting the other volunteers is also a perk. “One of the coolest things is that you meet wonderful people. People that volunteer are a special kind of people. Actually, years ago I met one and we’re the best of friends now! You meet nice people. They’re really terrific.”

We think you’re terrific, Judith! Thank you so much for your many years of volunteering and helping the Pantry continue to aid the Greater Orlando community. Your kindness and positive attitude are contagious and greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Join a good cause and meet wonderful, fellow volunteers! Several roles are currently available on our volunteer team. To sign up, contact us at 407-644-7593 ext. 249 or Audrey.Cohen@JFSorlando.org.

5 Tips for Creating Healthy Habits

Studies show that about 50% of people’s daily activities are habit-driven. (Source: Helping You Engineer Your Future) That’s half our day! It’s so easy to get stuck in our day-to-day habits. We try a routine, find what works, and stick to it—be it a specific route to work, a time to get up, or a go-to snack from the fridge. Whether you’re looking to break a bad habit or just want to shake up your daily routine for the better, below are five tips for creating healthy habits.

1. Begin with small goals

Aim to start with short exercises such as parking further from the store entrance, taking the stairs, or planning brief, short walks. Keeping the goal small at first increases the likelihood that you will repeat the action.

2. Schedule the time

Make sure to plan a time each day for your new healthy habits. If your health goals include walking every day, ensure that it is planned and made into a priority. Ideally, this should occur at the same time every day to help build a habit out of it.

3. Connect the action to an existing habit

You can plan your walks following dinner or immediately before brushing your teeth. Make the connection between the current daily activity and the new activity you want to add to the day.

4. Find a friend to come along with you

Keeping an activity going and turning it into a habit can become a lot easier if you have a friend come along with you. Going for a walk can seem like less of a chore and become more enjoyable if you have a friend come with you to share the experience with. It can turn a dreaded activity into a social event that you like doing.

5. Find the consequence of not repeating the activity

If you suffer a direct and obvious consequence from not engaging in a healthy activity, it can help force you into repeating the healthy activity. Far off penalties don’t always motivate us in the same way as more immediate penalties. These consequences can be the disappointment of a friend or being charged for an exercise class you missed. Anything you place a value on that you may lose can become a cost of not doing the activity.

Interested in more wellness counseling? Call 407-644-7671 to schedule an appointment with a JFS counselor today! Medicare, Medicaid and almost all commercial insurances are accepted. In addition, we’re one of the few remaining agencies in Central Florida that operates on a sliding fee scale (as low as $55 per session) for those who do not have insurance or have an insurance we do not accept.


Author: Ashlyn Douglass-Barnes, LCSW
Ashlyn Douglass-Barnes, LCSW is the Clinical Director and a licensed clinical social worker at JFS Orlando. Ashlyn has worked in a variety of settings including outpatient community based mental health, inpatient/admission psychiatric hospital, substance abuse/DUI, dialysis/medical, and in home/office outpatient therapy.

The Kehillah Exhibit is Now Online!

Explore Orlando Jewish history, and that of JFS Orlando, by visiting the new online Kehillah exhibit! Thank you to our friends on the Kehillah task force for your amazing efforts in putting together this resource that not only records but commemorates the impact the Jewish community has had on Central Florida. Mazel Tov!

JFS Orlando Staff Receives Suicide Prevention Training

The JFS Orlando Counseling, Growth and Development Team

On average, one person dies by suicide every three hours in the state of Florida. In fact, suicide is the eighth leading cause of death in the state. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Data & Statistics Fatal Injury Report for 2017) That is why this summer JFS Orlando’s mental health counselors and front-line staff participated in the Florida Implementation of the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention (FINS) Project.

FINS is a collaborative partnership between the University of Central Florida, Advent Health, the Statewide Office of Suicide Prevention, and the University of South Florida to build upon Florida’s comprehensive suicide prevention plan. The FINS Project was designed to enhance services to reach at-risk populations and ensure that adults, ages 25 and up, receive timely and appropriate services. 

Staff from the FINS Project worked with JFS to develop a strategy for suicide prevention and intervention, which will be implemented immediately agency-wide. The project, which consisted of four trainings, taught non-clinical staff gatekeeper skills to detect if someone might be suicidal; and clinical therapists how to conduct suicide risk assessments, safety plans, care coordination services, and, for select therapists, even clinical training to treat suicidal clients.

Many times patients in emergency rooms do not have access to therapists who are properly trained in suicide prevention. The FINS Project is aiming to build a system-wide approach where agencies partner together to ensure that care transitions are taking place between agencies. FINS Care Coordinators at Advent Health will be connecting with the clinical therapist team at JFS Orlando to help ensure continuity of care for clients/patients.

JFS is proud to have participated in the FINS Project and is grateful for this vital training that was provided at no cost to the agency thanks to the project’s collaborators and supporters. For more information regarding the JFS Orlando Counseling program, please contact Clinical Director, Ashlyn Douglass-Barnes, LCSW at Ashlyn.Douglass-Barnes@JFSorlando.org or 407-644-7593 ext. 301.

How to Relate to Your Child During Back to School Time

When the school year begins, children can experience excitement for their new grade, fears of peers and fitting in, or the dread of homework and tests. This is not too dissimilar to an adult starting a new job or moving to a new city. This is an opportunity for parents to find ways to relate to their children’s emotions and challenges by correlating it to their own similar experiences as an adult.

We all share the human experience, no matter the age. When we can link our own feelings and challenges of today to our children’s, we find a wonderful opportunity to parent intuitively in a way your children will greatly appreciate; through understanding and vulnerability.

It’s not about the homework.

Children work hard all day, sit still, and try not to talk in class. When they get home, the struggle becomes when to do the homework and how to muster the desire. Some parent’s strategy is to have it tackled right away in order to be able to relax the remainder of their day. Some have children wait until after dinner. There is no right or wrong answer, but the solution is stronger when it involves the individual child’s personality and when it gives them a sense of control by selecting the solution.

If adults attend an all-day conference, where do they go at 5pm when it is done? You will likely find them in a place where they can relax and take a break. If they have work to do before the next conference day, they will have to find the self-discipline and self-negotiating skills to do it. They may do it before dinner, during dinner or later before bed. They may change this by day depending on how they feel.

This ability to negotiate with self to do what is needed, and sometimes not fun, is a very important life skill.

Focusing on homework as an opportunity for your child to develop this skill and support them with empathy creates a different paradigm from ‘Get your homework done!’. Putting yourself in a situation that is comparable, like the all-day conference, will give you a mindset of support that is much different than frustrations and power struggles. This also may mean that sometimes your child won’t do their homework and will have to deal with the consequences. After all, adults don’t do everything perfectly either and we weigh the cost of the consequence with the short-term desire. Learning which consequences are too painful is a part of learning this life skill. If we take away this opportunity out of fear of their failure, we take the lesson away also.

There are many news articles stating that parent’s fears are getting in the way of children developing life skills and we need to refocus towards their internal world versus their external performance. When a child learns the self-discipline and self-negotiation needed for homework, it can apply to chores and future tasks. It is a lifelong muscle to value and exercise and, if applied, will yield rewards.

Remember, children are people too. They have reactions to events in life just as adults and they are much more like you than you may realize. Be with your child in support as you would wish if it were you.

Interested in more parenting or family wellness advice? Call 407-644-7671 or email Sonja.Pollard@JFSorlando.org to schedule an appointment with a JFS counselor today! Medicare, Medicaid and almost all commercial insurances are accepted. In addition, we’re one of the few remaining agencies in Central Florida that operates on a sliding fee scale (as low as $55 per session) for those who do not have insurance or have an insurance we do not accept.


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Author: Brenda Chappell, LMHC

Brenda Chappell, LMHC is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. Brenda holds a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Palm Beach Atlantic University with a specialty in Play Therapy.

Brenda Chappell specializes working with adolescents, children, and their parents with a variety of issues such as child defiance, depression, anxiety, poor school performance, divorce, domestic violence, substance abuse, and grief. Brenda utilizes Adlerian Child Guidance Principals to enable parents to be more effective and to build stronger relationships with their children. Brenda’s strengths lie in her ability to connect parents and children or adolescents through building a shared understanding and partnership.

Volunteer Spotlight: Pamela Wittenstein

Pamela volunteers in JFS Orlando’s Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry.

Pamela is one of JFS Orlando’s newest volunteers. Originally from Indianapolis, she moved to Florida in 2015 and later to Orlando in 2017 to be closer to her husband’s family. Before retiring, she was a paralegal for 10 years and an insurance adjuster for 30 years. Nowadays she enjoys playing Mahjong, exercising, and volunteering with a few organizations around town—including JFS Orlando!

Looking for a place to volunteer, Pamela reached out to her friends for ideas. “I heard it from Dolores Indek, actually!” she recalls. “I was sitting next to Dolores at a Hadassah meeting and I was telling her that I wanted to find some place to volunteer and she recommended JFS.” Pamela started volunteering at the beginning of 2019, at first helping the Reliable Independent Drivers for the Elderly (RIDE) program with data entry and later in the spring helping in the Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry. She is ready and willing to help however she can, filling in for any empty shifts that might arise. “I try to get here at least once a week. Just depending on what day they need somebody. This week [for example] I’m working three shifts.”

So far, Pamela has enjoyed giving back to the community and people in need through JFS. One of her favorite things about helping out this summer was seeing the little kids. “You hear them when they walk away,” she explains. “They go, ‘They’re so nice!’ Because sometimes when you have a loose cookie or something, or it’s a hot day and there’s a popsicle, you can give it to a little kid and it just makes their day. It’s just nice!” Having the opportunity to directly help people in need is what makes volunteering at JFS so rewarding for Pamela.

Thank you for your kindness, flexibility, and motivation in all of your volunteering work with JFS Orlando, Pamela! We so appreciate you stepping in for those empty shifts and even helping with that behind-the-scenes office work. Directly or indirectly, your hard work is truly helping the people who come to JFS in need. Thank you!

When you volunteer at JFS Orlando, you’re helping to better your community. Want to be a part of our volunteer team? Several types of opportunities are available. To sign up, contact us at 407-644-7593 ext. 249 or Volunteers@JFSorlando.org.