Women's Empowerment Program

Helping Women Speak up in Relationships and at Work to avoid Bullies, Abusers, and Predators and live Confident, Fearless and Safe.

Helping Women Speak up in Relationships and at Work to avoid Bullies, Abusers, and Predators and live Confident, Fearless and Safe.

Have a "No Fighting" Summer

Oh my! Summer is fast approaching and let’s face it, you're going to need to have an action plan in place to avoid arguing over curfews, technology, and house rules with your teen.
The truth is, your independent offspring is walking into summer with his or her own set of rules too... And that means it's inevitable that there's going to be a clash of power. So…

How can you stay calm and cool as the temperature heats up IN and out of your house?

I’ve put together a few essential tips to help you get thru these next few weeks with a little more ease:
Scenario:
Your teen daughter is disagreeing with everything you say and looking for a confrontation. You’re tired of arguing and need help.
Solution:
It’s best to understand that teens (just like the rest of us) often handle disputes in one of four ways: 
Attacking
Withdrawing
Complying
Problem solving

First, try to identify which pattern they (and you!) are more likely to follow. There may be a combination of more than one, but in general people tend to respond predictably when faced with confrontation.

For the "
Attackers", be sure to let her know that you hear her and validate her opinion and point of view. Say something like, "Please calm down, I really want to understand your point of view." Then STOP TALKING.

Usually as parents we let our (unwanted and unsolicited) opinion linger on and on...
The problem here is the teen never feels heard and continues to argue her point. It’s similar to why a toddler throws a temper tantrum. They do not feel their feelings are being acknowledged. For toddlers, we had to stop what we were doing, get on our knees down to their level and say, “I’m so sorry your toy broke. You must feel really sad about it, let’s see if we can glue it when we get home.” Until the problem was acknowledged, the wailing and flying arms and legs were rampant. It’s the same with your teen. Take a deep breath mom, and try to say as calmly as you can (without rolling your own eyes at how ridiculous the next sentence you have to say is), “I know it really sucks that you can’t stay over your boyfriend’s house after prom when his parents aren’t home. I agree it’s not fair and I know you’re really upset about it, but as your parent I can’t let you do that. Can we try to calmly come up with a compromise of something else that you both can do together?” Let her talk. And as you listen try to understand why this is so important to her. Once she feels you really understand her, then you can suggest better ideas without the attack factor.

"
Withdrawers" tend to internalize problems instead of dealing with them- which results in anger in the long run. Teach her the benefit of facing differing opinions with maturity and allow areas to practice this summer. This is a skill she'll need in relationships and the working world anyway, so better get the kinks out at home. It's important to let her know you are not here to judge her but to fully support her. Both "attackers & withdrawers" are prone to depression, anxiety, or more conflict in their friendships and romantic partners. So, it's important to help them effectively handle conflict resolution now and be as supportive and understanding as you can. Notice the repeat and highlight of those 2 words. :)

"
Complyers and Problem solvers" are much better at conflict resolution and enjoy debate but they suffer too...

"
Complyers" often suffer from moodiness. Always agreeing and not expressing her own opinions may lead to resentment down the road. Let her know that you value her opinion and want her to express it. Be sure to tell her that she has a right to contribute to disagreements and that smart and honest feedback is welcome.

"
Problem solvers" try to fix everyone's mess. The thing to watch for here, is that as long as she's not stressing herself out to do it, you may have a future judge on your hands. :)

In this case, be sure to encourage her to acknowledge her own 
boundaries and know when she shouldn't get involved in a disagreement. It's not up to her to mediate everything. Also, that it's ok for her to take a side when she feels strongly about an issue and it feels right to express her own opinion.

Remember, good fights happen when we help our teen see another persons point of view-  bad fights happen when they don't.  

Healthy arguments are a part of life, and indeed healthy. If you can find constructive ways to argue this summer- without blame- you will help your teen see beyond her own perspective and develop 
Emotional Intelligence. And that's something that's definitely not taught in school or on any I-device...

Need more inspiration?

Here's the presentations we offer for groups:

*
 3 Expert Skills to Prevent Assault 
Identify the key areas to increase personal safety.
Learn the new rules of consent.
The importance of "who", "when", and "how" predators strike.
Discover the power of "identifying predators before they hurt you".
Practice real-life safety skills you can use every day.


*
 How to Handle Workplace Sexism & Bullying
Learn the art of speaking up while improving relations and satisfaction within your
team.
Explore the difference between teasing and bullying.
Discover the power of effective body language to communicate your intention.
Takeaway the action steps necessary to create lasting behavior change.


*
 Proven Methods to Raising Confident Young Adults 
Practice parent-to-young adult coaching to use effective language.
Discover the "power of being a fan".
Introduce 3 behaviors every parent must eliminate.
Explain the new rules of dating and consent in the current culture.

Takeaway the action steps to create lasting communication and respect.

Middle School Success: Mean Girls & Dating Safety (ages 10 & up)
Explore the difference between teasing and bullying.
Discover proven methods to increase peer, academic, and personal success  
during these critical years.
Learn the new rules of dating today and consensual relationships.


What to Do When Faced with a Predator (perfect for College-bound girls!)
Practice the power of voice and the most effective words to use.
Learn effective body language to communicate your "No".
Takeaway the action steps and practical hands-on fighting skills necessary to best
defend yourself to avoid being a statistic.


I'm happy to teach your group of daughters/moms and friends! If you live within the Bay area you can learn more about our workshops 
here. If you live long-distance, contact me about our dynamic coaching program that's available nationally.

Remember, it's not easy being an empowered woman, let alone trying to raise empowered daughters! I want you to know you are doing a great job and deserve to schedule a few relaxing days this summer just for you. YOU are amazing.

Keep up the good work!
-
Dara




Stop Bullying Me!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, no matter where bullying comes from, whether it’s a corporate boss, the neighborhood school bully, or the president of the United States, you should always take a stand against bullying.
Just today, I had to have “the talk” with the parent of my child’s elementary school-age bully.
I made sure I approached the parent with a friendly conversation starter. One that talked about how much our kids both like their teacher. This neutral topic allowed us to start on common ground and agree on something before engaging with the issue.
I went on to mention how I was concerned that my child liked playing with his daughter but has been coming home lately saying they no longer like school because she felt his daughter was excluding her and being mean. I remained calm and conversational as I talked to the parent but noticed that my unconfrontational behavior was not being mirrored.
The other parent immediately began to react in a defensive body language and tone of voice. He kept his arms crossed and defended their child’s behavior by saying the ridiculous statement that is often used to excuse
intolerable behavior, “She was only teasing”. Then he continued on, “My child’s not a bully, anyway, they’re too young to be bullies at this age.” 🤬
What? Are you serious? I thought.
I kept my composure… Although I wanted to unleash the mamma bear.
I shook my head and simply thought, nice try, but you’re not going to fool me with that crap. 
I politely reminded him that I’ve written books on the topic and that I lead an award-winning organization called Kurukula to prevent bullies. Adding, “I’m pretty confident that I know the difference between teasing and bullying”.
(In case you’re wondering as you read this post: Teasing is an isolated incident that is said among friends to reinforce their friendship. It’s said in a joking way and doesn’t offend the intended receiver. Teasing however crosses over to bullying when it happens repeatedly, and the receiver is clearly upset by the behavior, often asking the person more than once to stop.) And for the record,
bullying of course happens across all age groups, from preschoolers to seniors.
There’s no justification that can be used to excuse bullying. If a person feels they were mistreated, then they most likely were.
Often times
the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree... 🍎 🍏 Bullying adults often raise bullying children. But we can (and must), call them on their bad behaviors and speak up (yes, even to the grown-ups) if we want it to stop.
For younger kids, it’s essential that parents and teachers get involved. It may be hard for kids to communicate effectively on their own when a situation occurs. Therefore, we need to prepare our children with assertive words and body language to defend themselves, always without drama and emotion
I’ve spent the day trying to understand the other parents’ reaction. Honestly, it boggles me. If you approached me in a friendly way and told me your child felt scared to come to school for several days because of something my child said or did, the first thing out of my mouth would be, “
I’m so sorry, let me talk to my child about that.” That, I think, would be a mature reaction.
Imagine how hard it must be for a child to confide to their mom that they are being hurt by a kid at school. That takes courage and guts for a young person. Now imagine the uneasiness of you approaching the bullied parent to say that you believe their child’s behavior was the cause of their pain. Most people would not enjoy that conversation and would want to avoid a further confrontation.
Wouldn’t it be human nature to empathize with the victims’ experience and pain? It’s no different, than the victim blaming that our culture does when a woman finally speaks up that someone sexually abused her. Defensiveness or judgement have no place in these situations— even if you feel you are innocent. The point is,
even if you were innocent, and didn’t intentionally harm another person shouldn’t the first thing out of your mouth be ‘I’m so sorry that happened to you’?
We have lost touch of our human connectedness. It’s not an us versus them world. We are all one.
If a child feels bullied at school, then our entire school system is not successful at protecting our children, and all parents need to help solve it. Just as if one woman is a survivor of sexual assault, then our entire culture is lacking in decency and respect to how we treat women and we are all responsible for it.
We are one human race. One species trying to survive together on one planet. We need more empathy for each other. When one of us falls, lend out a hand to pick the person up, don’t simply walk by. It’s time we understand how our actions and words are hurtful to our neighbors, classmates, friends-- our entire human family.
I felt sad that the other parent reacted to my inquiry that way. My intention was not to be blaming or confrontational but rather, to have a mature conversation on how we can best get our girls to be friends again. Unfortunately, the dad walked away with a “huff” and a “sigh” to clearly demonstrate to me that this conversation was over and not worth his time. And with that, it was over.
I went home and reassured my child that bullies are not as confident as they appear. The best defense is to avoid them and search out better friends. Friends that treat them how they deserve to be treated.
We can’t be responsible for how others choose to live their lives or raise their kids. But we can strive to do our best to connect and empathize with the people around us in this world.
Arming you against bullies (and sexual assault) is my jam. I often feel like the Robin-hood of the innocent. I want to
protect and empower you with tools you can use. And nothing makes me happier than knowing you’re living with confidence and fearlessness, and that you no longer need my trainings.
If you’re dealing with a bully harassing you or your child please reach out to me. My
Jerky Johnny game was designed to equip you and your young person with these exact skills. Or of course, if you prefer to experience my badass trainings in person then schedule a call with me. I’m happy to help. 
When you see wrong in the world, speak up. Especially for those who may need help asserting themselves. Your children are watching your every move. And when you behave with maturity, integrity, dignity, and respect it gets modeled in their behaviors. And that’s, how we change the world.
In support of you,
Dara

Ever get Bad Advice?


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This was the advice women gave their daughters not so long ago.

Today, there's a lot more you need to teach her to help her thrive.
Everything from how to be compassionate and caring...To being independent, smart & strong.  Every mother wants her daughter to be self-sufficient.
To raise a woman who makes good choices is the ultimate goal-- Especially when it comes to men and relationships. But are you really prepared to teach her all the tools she needs to thrive in today's world? According to a recent study, here's the top 10 tips for raising a Confident girl today:
1. Encourage assertiveness.
2. Be specific in your compliments.
3. Make your praise match reality.
4. Help her understand why she sometimes gets left out.
5. Encourage competence.
6. Encourage her to play sports if she wants to.
7. Don't make assumptions about her strengths and weaknesses.
8. Encourage a healthy body image.
9. Prepare her for sexism.
10. Point out positive female role models.
Some of these are easier to accomplish than others. And at Kurukula Women's Empowerment, we've got you covered. Especially for:
#1 Assertiveness
#4 Dealing with Mean girls
#5 Developing Competence
#8 Confident Body Image
#9 Preparing her for Sexism
#10 Giving her positive female role models

Did you know... Most women will have to deal with an unhealthy relationship at some point in their lives?
Whether it's mean girls, a controlling boss, or a jerky date that tries to take things too far...
She (and you) needs to learn effective tools to handle these situations!
These skills are not taught in school or learned from friends.
And sadly, many parents don't know how to prepare their daughters to have respectful, consensual mature relationships.   I've seen it happen too many times over the years, especially during my work with the police...
Abusive people are often disguised as charmers and lurking to prey on young women who are innocent and unprepared.
Here's how it happens:
An innocent young woman, who "seems" confident or assertive at school or home, gets caught up in an unhealthy relationship with the "Nice Guy".
How? Why?
It happens partly because she was unaware of the Danger Signs of abusers and partly because her self-esteem was lacking and he chose her.
"But he was such a nice guy..." she says.
Of course he was.
Abusive people are often very nice, at first. They may even win over your friends & family.
Then after you let your guard down, they begin to slowly strip away your self-esteem even more. 
He may begin to insult your appearance. Or remark that you're stupid, or useless, etc.
If left unattended, these comments often escalate into physical abuse leaving her completely depleted of self-esteem and depressed.
Like a fly caught in a hungry spider's web, many women are trapped in this cycle of abuse and often afraid/unable to get help.
It's not her fault. It's very hard to break out of the web.
Yet there is good news...
There are proven tools you can learn to keep abusers from selecting you-- before it's too late.

But tools are useless if you never use them.


Kurukula is an Award-winning organization that is leading the Women's Movement to end abuse in the world.
We have empowered thousands of women. And we are not close to stopping...
Our goal is to:

Help women ages 10 to adult live Confident, Fearless & Safe lives by preventingBullies, Abusers & Sexual predators. 

Let's make a New poster for women!
One that says:

1. You are worthy.

2. You are incredibly talented and smart.

3. You are deserving of healthy and loving relationships.

4. You can do anything you set your mind to.

5. You can choose when and who and IF you want to be in a relationship with someone.

6. You always have a right to say: "No!" or "Stop!"

7. You do not owe anyone anything regardless of how much money or time they spent on you.

8. You are not responsible for "how turned on" he got.

9. You have a right to change your mind.

10. You have permission to be authentically and unapologetically YOU.

We are Excited about our mission and hope you will join us!
Check out our upcoming workshops & let us give you advice that you can actually use:
Mother-Daughter Empowerment Retreat May 4 or June 9
Monthly Women's Circles, May 15 or May 17 
Private Workshops for Girl Scout troops, NCL or Women's groups
Energy Healing Retreat for Women, Sept. 8
These events are popular, so if you're interested do not delay reserving your space. In the meantime, if you have any questions about how Kurukula can empower you or someone you know, feel free to:
Schedule a time to chat with me,
or Share our newsletter with a friend!
As always, you're important to me and I'm happy to help anyway that I can.
In support of you,
Dara

What Happened to Your Sweet Daughter?



You know the one who used to live in your house and greet you cheerfully and tell you everything.

 
Raising a teen is extremely challenging. Especially in this world of media messaging, social pressures, and I-everything.  Did you know teen girls are especially at risk for developing depression, low self-esteem, and inflicting self-harm to themselves during these years? As she undergoes many changes during this time, she may want you to think you're not needed anymore... But the reality is you're needed more than ever.


One of the best ways to maintain connection with her as she goes through adolescence, is to pay attention to her Body Language & Non-Verbal cues.

She's testing the waters...



Learning what it means to move from childhood to adulthood. And let's face it, that transition isn't always smooth. It can also be a very confusing time for her.

She's most likely being confronted for the first time with:


-smoking, vaping, drugs 
-dating kids kissing at school
-sexting, sexual pressures, pornography
-technology pressures keeping up with the latest apps
-juggling mean girls, bullies, teachers, parents, technology, hormones, & homework

That's alot.


She may feel silly asking you about any of the above- thinking you don't have a clue. And to be honest, we might not really understand the pressure kids today are under. For the past 15 years, I've been leading Kurukula workshops I'm always saddened when I learn the #1 complaint I hear from girls is (actually it's a tie between 2...):

Their parents put too much pressure on them.
They don't feel their parents listen to them.

Here's the thing...


Despite her reluctance to open up and ask you something, or share her true feelings with you, often what she needs is shown in her body language...

You just need to be paying attention and know what to look for.

This may help:

She says "I don't care"
What it really means is:
She feels
 that you don't care. Be available to just sit and listen. 

She sits with a slumped posture
What it really means is:
She feels self-conscious, unhappy, or stressed. She needs a real heart-felt hug from you, extra love, attention and support. Don't scold her by saying, "sit up straight." Try to remember the pressure of being a teen yourself.

Poor eye-contact
What it really means is:
Teens are still developing eye-contact with adults. Find time to talk where you're not facing each other- like while driving in a car or watching a sporting event. It takes self-confidence and a certain comfort level to be able to look an adult in the eyes. Pick your battles on this one.

She's hanging around
What it really means is:
She wants to engage with you but feels intimidated. Ask an easy question to engage her or include her in whatever activity you're doing. Let your tone be playful and light.

Most parents struggle with raising teens. You're not alone.

Chances are your teen will guide you in the right direction of what they need... And it's crucial as her mother that you start off with the right tools to ensure your relationship is filled with love, respect, communication, and healthy boundaries.

The good news is that if you put the time in now your daughter will not only flourish, but she'll come to you when she needs something- and not turn to an abuser (or something else harmful) for love and attention.

That's why I'm so passionate about the work Kurukula does. It provides women essential life-skills to be prepared to make healthy choices and live Confident, Fearless, and Safe. The short-term investment in a Kurukula workshop now is priceless for her future.

Isn't she worth it?

In support of you,
Dara
What happened to your sweet young child?

Don't Dwell on It

I'm not going to lie to you.

This morning was really rough. My husband was sick with a stomach bug and up all night vomiting. At 2am this morning he announced to me that I probably shouldn't be sleeping next to him if I don't want to catch it. So, I tucked my favorite pillow under my arm and walked down the hallway in search of another bed to occupy. I ended up in my daughter's room to share her large full size bed. Unfortunately, she awoke and caught on to what I was doing and adamantly kicked me out of her bed. Damn. The sofa it is, with the ornery orange cat.

If you have ever tried sleeping with a cat you know that you mine as well just stay up all night. Those nocturnal fuzz-balls, as cute as they are, don't pair well with their pawing and purring with a light sleeper like myself. So when my kids alerted me the next morning that we all overslept and were now critically late for school, I went right into
manic morning mamma. Don't judge me, I know you've been there. If you have school age kids I can guarantee you've been there. "Hurry, eat a good breakfast, get dressed. Grab your lunch! Did you brush your hair and teeth? No? Then go do it, HURRY! Come on we're really late! Can't you move any faster!?" And on and on… That awful place we go to when we're really stressed.

Although I rushed her, we still arrived after the bell rang. We missed it. We were late again. My daughter shuffled into her elementary school upset knowing that I was frustrated we got another tardy. It was more on me than her. Mom shame. It happens.

I felt horrible the whole rest of the day. I felt bad for my frenzied- not a great performance by mom- morning. I had already planned to do something fun with her the moment I picked her up from school to make up for it. Then, and this is how cool the universe is, at 12:00 her school called me. The number coming in on my phone said "school nurse" so when I answered I expected to hear "Hi Mrs. Connolly your daughter bumped her head again so please come pick her up." She's always bumping her head. So when I saw the call come in I started to put my shoes on and go out the door. Yet, this time the person on the other end said, "This is the office staff, we just wanted to tell you what a wonderful girl your daughter is and how she makes everyone else's day here better. Her teacher wanted us to tell you that." Whoa…I stopped me in my tracks.

I messed up the morning with her but it was all going to be okay. She's a great kid and kids are resilient. They can handle just about anything. As long as we give them more positive than crappy moments in life they will know they are loved and safe.

As mother's we try to do it all and sometimes we fail miserably. I wanted to write this story to tell you that wherever and however in life you messed up- big or small- to please not spend another moment of your life dwelling on it. Maybe you were involved in a bad relationship and awful things were said in front of your child. Or maybe you yourself said or did something horrible to someone else. All you, we, can do is try to quickly correct it, learn from it and move on. Accepting our mistakes and the moving on part is hard I know, but when you forgive yourself you are able to grow and learn from your experiences and hopefully, avoid the situation from happening again.

In my line of work, I meet women literally everyday who tell me their stories of failed marriages or how they were trapped in an abusive relationship- either with bullies or a controlling person for years and years. These events and situations of your life are not your fault. Whatever has happened to you can be excruciatingly painful and awful, but remember the suffering we put ourselves through is optional. You can and will go on. I know it will all be ok because you are still here and oh man, are women strong. And if you are able to breathe another breath then you are able to move forward another day and handle whatever life throws your way. We keep going. That's what we do.

My story with my daughter is a small example of how I messed up and is top of mind because it just happened today. All I can do is try to learn from it and do better tomorrow. That's me giving 100%. And I want you to know that I am here giving you that same 100% too. I want to help you overcome beating yourself up in life and to let you know that not only do I support you, but that you are not alone trying to figure it all out. Kurukula is here to help.

That was my intention when I created Kurukula- to empower women from the inside out. When we feel good about ourselves, our choices, our future and our options- our self-esteem as women flourishes. That's what this program does.
It builds your self-esteem and confidence to get you thru anything. If this speaks to you, then join the thousands of others who have completed our training and check out our monthly women's circles that are available nationally. Feel free to share this link with someone you know who can benefit from these empowering life-skills too.

Thank you for reading this and being a part of my life.

Be empowered,
Dara

What about the Boys?

Too often I hear, "What about the boys…?"
Read More…