Let’s all talk more

It was my friend Wayne’s birthday and his Mum took us out for a teatime treat at our favourite place. We had barely sat down when she whipped out her cell phone and started pressing buttons.

I was still examining the menu so didn’t think about it, but then the waitron appeared and asked if we were ready to order.

Both Wayne and I knew what we wanted, but his Mum had not even looked at the menu yet.  She just ignored the dude and carried on reading something on her cell phone.

The waitron stood there patiently for a bit. Then he hopped from foot to foot and sort of cleared his throat, as if to say… well… um… excuse me?

I considered giving her a nudge or saying something but thought that might be rude.

Eventually she looked up, waved her arm offhandedly and said “Just coffee”.

I probably went bug-eyed with surprise. No please. No thank you. Definitely no sorry for keeping you waiting!

I looked at Wayne to see if he had noticed but he was messing with the sugar packets.

His mother went back to her phone and ignored us completely.

Wayne asked his Mum if she’d had a good day, but she didn’t even hear him and so did not reply. He and I chatted quietly for a bit, and then we went and played in the kids section.

“Doesn’t your mum talk to you at the table?” I asked when we were safely out of earshot.

“No,” Wayne replied a little sadly. “She’s always doing stuff on her cell phone, even at home.”

I looked around the place and noticed that quite a few of the parentals were fiddling with their cell phones whilst their kids were sitting at the table, colouring in or trashing the place. There were other people sitting together, looking at their phones too – not talking to each other.

Our food arrived. His mum drank her coffee and hardly took her eyes off her phone. Wayne sucked up the last bits of his milkshake and made a loud slurpy noise.

His mother looked up sharply and said “Wayne! Where are your manners?”

But how could she expect Wayne to have manners if she did not have any herself. My Dad always says you have to earn respect, not demand it.

Let’s all talk to each other more please. Put those phones down.



Stand up to bullies

Remember last week we were talking about how bad bullies are and, even worse, how terrible it is to be bullied?

Here are some things that you can do if you are being targeted by a bully.

  • Get away as soon as possible and move to a safe please where there are other kids and adults.
  • Avoid places where you are alone – hang out with other people. Even if you are not friends with them – hang out near them anyway.
  • Act as if the bullying has no power over you. Look calm and confident (even if you are terrified). You can do this by standing up straight and tall – put your shoulders back and push your chest forward. (Practise this in the mirror at home – you never know when you might need to stand tall.)
  • Stand up for yourself – act as though the bullying is really boring and answer back with things like – So? Yup? Really? And…? Whatever you say! Who cares?
  • Get help from an adult you trust. Tell them what has happened to you and ask for their support. If one person does not listen – go to somebody else.
  • Keep in mind that bullying is about the person who is doing the bullying. Although they are targeting you and it affects your life – it’s not really about you – it says something about the person who is doing the bullying. Never forget that. It is not your fault.
  • Tell yourself that you are awesome, brave, lovable, worthy of respect and belonging. Nobody can take that away from you. Own it. Say it often. Remind yourself all the time that you are fabulous.

If you see somebody being bullied it is NOT cool to just walk away and not get involved either. YOUR SILENCE ENCOURAGES THE BULLY!

This is what you can do.

  • Don’t laugh and don’t encourage the bully in any other way.
  • Tell others not to join in on the bullying either. You can make a difference by encouraging others to do the same.
  • Help the victim any way you can – speak directly to them and say something like “Let’s get out of here.”
  • Show the victim that you are empathetic – say “I would feel sad and angry too” or “I’m sorry this is happening to you.”
  • Encourage the victim to tell an adult and offer to go with them.

Stand up for what is right – even if you are standing alone!



It is not BIG to make somebody else feel SMALL!

In the same survey that was done about how sad South African reading statistics are, they also mentioned that our Grade Four children are among the most bullied in the world.


How horrible is that?

There is often some confusion regarding conflict and bullying.

  • When someone says or does something unintentionally hurtful and they do it once, that’s RUDE.
  • When someone says or does something intentionally hurtful and they do it once, that’s MEAN.
  • When someone says or does something intentionally hurtful and they keep doing it – even when you tell them to stop or show them that you are upset – that’s BULLYING.

Conflict is normally a disagreement or an argument. Bullying is normally a show of strength or influence to intimidate somebody else, or typically to force them to do something that they do not want to do.

Conflict turns into bullying when there is an imbalance of power. This can come from someone being bigger, older, stronger and more confident or having more friends. Their mean behaviour happens over and over again.

Bullies come in all shapes and sizes – some use their fists (physical) others use their voices (verbal) and in the last few years, cyber bullying has become a big thing too – using the internet, social media, text messaging, e-mail and other electronic mediums to say mean or embarrassing things.

No matter what shape the bullying takes, they all leave you feeling broken and humiliated.

Bullying does not only occur at school either – it often happens at home and in the neighbourhood.

Warning signs of somebody being bullied:

  • Withdrawal from friends and activities.
  • Physical complaints.
  • Worried, angry, quiet or moody.
  • Declining schoolwork.

One of the major forms of bullying in schools is EXCLUSION.

For various reasons kids shun other kids. Often for stupid things like they don’t have cool enough clothes or hairstyles. We all know having a friend to sit with at break or lunch time makes the world of difference.

That’s what the friendship bench is all about. If you don’t have anybody to sit with – you can sit on that specific bench at school and somebody is always there to chat to you and see that you are not alone. We have a roster and take turns to do bench duty – you get to meet all sorts of interesting people too.

More on how you can beat bullies next week.

Be kind people!


Use time wisely

You often hear people saying that they wish they had more time to do something – be it homework, making dinner or spending time with friends doing something fun.

It is the one thing that we cannot change. Those minutes tick by relentlessly, never stopping for a moment.

Seems like when you are a kid the time takes forever to pass, but somehow when you get a bit older it feels as though the time whooshes by. One minute it’s the beginning of the year and suddenly the year is finished and it’s time to look forward to the holiday season again.

I guess we should all think about using our time more wisely.

Sometimes that sounds easier said than done. Exams are looming and studying for them is not really a very attractive prospect. Often you tell yourself you’ll just “do this quickly” and study later. Then suddenly the time has disappeared and you are unprepared.

That old saying – procrastination is the thief of time – might be tired – but it certainly is true.

I’ve decided to try and plan my life a bit better. I’m making lists of the stuff I need to do. I’m putting the important stuff on the list along with some smaller tasks – which are easy to get done. Then I feel great when I see things crossed off and it galvanises me to do more of the things on the list. I reward myself with some play time every so often for being so productive.

I’m really hoping it works because I’m rather good at dawdling!

Talking about time and how valuable it is – it’s really rude to keep somebody waiting.

Often we agree to be somewhere at a certain time and then get there several minutes late. In South Africa it is jokingly referred to as “African Time” but it does not make it right.

It sends the signal that the other person’s time is not important – to you anyway, and it shows a complete lack of respect. Being on time requires proper planning – like being aware and factoring in anything that might crop up causing delays and making one late.

It’s sometimes hard to predict traffic and often one gets to a place way too early and then you have to wait around but it is better than being late. Take a book or something.

Plan carefully people!


World Humanitarian Day

19 August was World Humanitarian Day. This day was initially declared by the United Nations back in 2008 after a terrible terrorist attack on the UN headquarters in Bagdad in 2003, where 22 people were killed.

Nearly every day some disaster happens – whether it is war, terrorist attacks, floods, earthquakes, tidal waves, hurricanes, disease, poverty or hunger. These things cause huge suffering for all the people who are caught up in these events and, sadly, it is usually the poorest people who suffer the most.

Humanitarian assistance workers go all-out to provide help in these situations both in the short and long term. Often these workers put themselves at risk too and sometimes even die in their efforts to help other people.


We can all be humanitarians.  There is no special training needed to do the right thing every now and then. Sometimes it is as simple as delivering blankets or warm clothes to the needy when there is a very cold spell. Or helping out in your local community if something untoward – like a flood -happens.

Basically it all boils down to being kind and thinking of others. The definition of kindness is the quality of being friendly, considerate and generous.

It’s not very hard to be any of those things, but sometimes it does require conscious thought. Often we get so caught up in everyday life that we forget there are many people who have considerably less than we do and could use a bit of a helping hand. It could be as simple as knowing somebody at school who needs to share your lunch occasionally.

Remember a while ago we talked about having “Friendship benches” at school.  Where kids who don’t have any friends, or just maybe need somebody to talk to, can go and sit and know for sure that somebody will come and talk to them. That also boils down to being kind – and generous. You don’t have to be generous with money always. You can be generous of spirit or with your time.

There might even be an elderly person in your neighbourhood who is lonely and could use somebody to chat to or maybe needs help with shopping or garden work.

The main thing is for us all to keep an open mind and not miss out on opportunities to do the odd good deed. Or many good deeds!


Pain in the butt

The last day of May is World No Tobacco Day.

Luckily I am too young to have to quit smoking because I’ve never started – but I know it’s a really hard habit to kick.

Truth is that smoking‘s bad for you. Not only can it cause lung disease, it can also cause heart problems and can cause cancer almost anywhere in your body too.

Luckily it’s now illegal to smoke with your children in the car – because second hand smoke is almost as bad for you as the real thing. At least people who smoke choose to do so. The kids who get to breathe their parental agents smoke have no choice. That’s just nasty!

Not only is smoking bad for people, it’s bad for environment and the animals.

Lately scientists have figured out that cigarette butts are one of the most abundant types of litter found around. That means there are plenty of butts out there. (Studies estimate that 4.5 trillion cigarette butts find their way into the environment each year.)

Worse, it’s one of nastiest, deadliest forms of waste.

People who would not dream of pitching a cool drink tin out of the car window will happily chuck a burning butt out. Not particularly caring that it can set fire to something. And they do too – burning butts are often the cause of serious veldt fires.

People also drop them on pavements or into gutters, where the wind will blow them into storm waters and all sorts of other places.

Beaches are ideal for putting out butts. One huge ashtray – right? Wrong.

Or… they flick butts casually into water – dams, the sea and rivers.

Cigarette butts are tiny little bundles of toxins. In other words… poisonous. They get into our marine ecosystems and cause havoc with the wildlife and the quality of the water.

And we all know that water is extremely precious – right?

You know what is also really scary – even those people who put their cigarettes out in the designated places have no guarantee that their butts won’t also end up in the water. The bins get emptied. Butts are chucked onto rubbish dumps. Then they get blown around and it’s highly likely that they also end up where they shouldn’t.

Take care where you put those butts please people.



Random Acts of Kindness

I’ve been reading things about kindness lately and I was thinking that we sure could use a little more of that stuff in our world to make it a better place.  It usually only takes one person to start a domino effect.

It’s not hard to be kind – but it does take a certain mind-set. You can start small. By smiling – and we all know that it takes only 26 to smile and 62 to frown!

Smile at random people for no reason at all.  Usually 9 times out of 10 (unless that person is having a really bad day) they will smile back at you. And then you both feel good.

It’s contagious. You walk along thinking about the person who smiled at you and usually you are still smiling. So you end up smiling at somebody else too … and so it goes.

Of course, remember – it’s okay to smile at random people but kids should not stop and chat. And if anybody ever gets too friendly and makes you feel uncomfortable – feel free to tell your parental agent.

If you are at home, or in a shop and somebody drops something. You can bend down and pick it up for them. It takes just a little bit of effort.

You can offer to help your mum or dad without being asked. They might fall over and faint – but try it sometime – I bet they would really appreciate it.

Or maybe if you see somebody at school sitting by themselves looking all sad and lonely you could go and sit with them – even offer them a snack out of your lunch box if you have enough to share.

This is going to sound a little crazy but engaging in acts of kindness actually acts a bit like a medicine chest in your body…

Did you know, it is said that kindness stimulates the production of serotonin. This is a chemical that not only makes you feel-good but it makes you happy and calms you down.

Even better – doing acts of kindness produces endorphins—the brain’s natural painkiller!

They say that people who are always kind have 23% less cortisol (the stress hormone) and don’t get as old as quickly as the average population.

Research has even found that being kind lowers blood pressure.

Go out people and commit random acts of kindness!

Lots of love,


Make Plans Please


We are going away for the festive season – to Flatwater Stills – so its yukky old malaria pills time again. Mum insists we take them – and we do – because malaria is very nasty and we don’t want to get it. Luckily there are only a few places in South Africa where those particular mozzies hang out. Sadly, our relatives stay in one of those places.

I wanted to take our dog Zona with us on holiday but mum said no. She was not having that hairy mutt slobbering and panting in her car for hours and hours.

Dad was more realistic and pointed out that our family has plenty of dogs of their own, there are not many fences and so it would not be safe to take Zona with us.

Mum said that we could get old Mr Whatsit next door to come and feed Zona whilst we were away.

There was a bit of an argument – Dad said that it was a bit risky to ask an elderly neighbour to look after our dog for five whole days. What happened if he forgot or if he got sick or something.

He said he would rather book Zona into the kennels for those days and then we would know for sure that she was being looked after. Plus she would not be lonely either because there are people around and there are other dogs to bark at.

That started me thinking… Mum usually invites Mr Whatsit to our house for Christmas dinner because he lives on his own and his family – if he has any – is not around.

I looked at Mum. Shame, poor Mr Whatsit! He’ll be really lonely too.

Mum agreed and said she’d talk to some of the other aunties in the street and see who would love to have him join their family for Christmas lunch or dinner this year. She’d organise it before we left to go on holiday.

It’s so sad when people get old and nobody looks after them or comes to visit. Must be very lonely just sitting by yourself all day with only the television for company.

Sometimes I have to do errands for him. He’s a bit grumpy but mum says I should not let that put me off – he’s actually quite a sweetie at heart.

Remember to make a plan with your animals if you are going away please!


Get off that darn cell phone please!

sibo-having-fun-at-the-wimpy-2Sjoe – some adults are really a bit less than the best!

Mum and I were at the Wimpy having a milkshake.

We chose to sit outside so that I could investigate all the fun stuff to do – and let me tell you – there is plenty of fun stuff to do at the Wimpy in Petersfield. Mum likes to watch me whilst I play. But we have a rule that I have to come back every now and then and talk. I also have to eat all my food.

Actually I quite like having my mum all to myself – so I spend more time at the table than I do in the playground.

I was slurping down my shake, chatting away, when I noticed a little kid who came in with her parental agent. They sat down inside – far away from the play area.

The little girl looked at the slide longingly but sat down, good as gold. A few minutes later the man took out his cell phone and kept it glued to his ear for quite a long time.

After a while the girl ventured outside and had a look around the play area – rather apprehensively.  Then she went back inside. The man was on his phone again. She fiddled with the sauce and stuff. He carried on talking. Their food came and he still chatted.

Part of the treat of going out somewhere is having the person talk to you – not someone else!

I see this quite a lot. People go out and they spend more time looking at their cell phones than they do talking to the person that they are with.

Adults are the worst!  They order their kids food and seem to feel that is all that’s expected of them. Their job is done,  they can sit back and withdraw into their cellular worlds. They don’t need to interact with their children other than to help them cut up their food.

Sometimes the kids spend the whole time in the play area and don’t even eat much of their food.

Most of us want you to watch us, we want to talk to you and we want to you listen to us – with your eyes and your ears. You can’t do that if you are attached to your cell phone.

Put it away people!


Being polite when using public transport


Remember last week I told you that it was International Literacy Day on the 8th of September! Well, I am super stoked. My latest book – Sibo on the Move – which is all about the Gautrain and how you should behave when you travel on public transport – is being launched on this very day in the Rosebank Gautrain Station.

How cool is that!

Wait! I hear you say… how on earth did you, Sibo, get to write a book about the Gautrain?

Actually it’s quite a funny story. We were busy with the road safety book – Sibo Looks Right. Not sure if you remember but actually we crowdfunded for this book so that we could share it with as many kids as possible.  Sadly we did not get enough money to print thousands of copies to distribute – but we did print a few and share them around the place. Plus of course the e-book is on my website for anybody to freely read.

Magically (there was a bit more to it than that – but we’ll leave it there) Gautrain got to hear about my road safety book and asked us all to a meeting. We thought that maybe they wanted to donate some money towards this book but it turned out, in fact, that they wanted their own Sibo book.

This is the book that is going to be launched on the 8th of September.  Actually it is also going to be used for transport month. This happens in October every year.  There is a serious drive in Jozi to minimize traffic on the roads and everybody is encouraged to use public transport as much as possible.

In fact – to make sure that people actually do this, some of the roads are closed off – so that people have to use public transport to get where they want to go – or walk!

This is part of the reason that Sibo on the Move was written – to help people remember that there is some etiquette to be adhered to when travelling on trains and buses.

Simple things like…

  • don’t listen to loud music
  • don’t put your feet on the seats
  • don’t sit in the seats that are allocated for the disabled or elderly
  • wait until people get off the train or bus before you jump on… and
  • eergghhhh – never ever stick chewing gum under the seat – that is beyond gross.

Travel safely people!


PS – If you want to read this book – it’s also freely available on www.sibo.co.za – just click on the cover of the book.