Shining Brightly in Holiday Photos

ChatterGirls is proud to have a guest blog from one of our Advisory Board members, Amanda Batchers.

Amanda shares her insights on creating a better holiday photo and more!
As her website,, and her photo training lessons via Empowered Pictures states she is all about “Celebrating inner and outer beauty because one ignites the other”. Thank you-Amanda.

When I began my modeling career, I started to see photos of myself where I was captured at my best. I felt beautiful. My perceived flaws that used to feel like a heavy burden, I carried more lightly. I also learned how to make the camera capture the best and most authentic version of me. This information has empowered me in my life. Now I love sharing these techniques with others in hopes that it could do the same for them.

The holidays are often a time for taking many pictures. Between the parties, family gatherings, and beautiful decorations everywhere, there are photo-ops galore. Sometimes people shy away from capturing these memories because they don’t feel confident in front of the camera. I’d like to help you capture these memories in pictures that you love, by sharing one of my favorite tips to looking great in a photo.

Perhaps the most important element to looking your best in a photo is finding great light. The easiest  rule to remember about finding good light is to have LIGHT SHINING TOWARDS YOUR FACE INSTEAD OF OVER IT. The technique I’ll share today is about creating light that shines towards you when there is none to be found!

Have you ever tried to take a picture in a dark room? Without a flash it is too dark. With a flash it is too bright and you end up looking kind of squinty and pained. Or have you ever tried to take a photo and the lighting was just simply not lovely? This trick will help with both.

This is what I like to call THE TWO CELL PHONE TRICK. You will use one cell phone as your light source and another to take the photo.

Use the flashlight feature on your first phone and shine it towards your face. Remember that light shining towards you is usually the loveliest. Sometimes the flashlight is a bit too bright. If that is the case you can use a paper napkin, tissue, piece of paper, etc, and put it over the flashlight. This will filter and soften the light just a bit. You can unfold the paper for a mild filter and fold it up for a heavier filter. Play around with how close or far you hold the light from your face and filtering it with a paper product.

Then you will use your other phone as your camera.

The most valuable gifts I have to give to the world are my inner beauty traits. I have come to learn that if I feel good about how I look on the outside, those inner traits are empowered. When those inner traits are empowered, my own unique outer beauty shines more brightly.

I hope your holiday season is full of love and light, and you shine brightly inside and out.

For more tips on taking a great photo check out @EmpoweredPictures on Instagram or

5 Ways to Make Sure Your Holiday Isn’t Gift Focused!

It time for that Big Book to arrive in the mail!

When your child begins to make their holiday wish list, how much of is it based on wants or just because?

There is a learning opportunity to look beyond themselves and help others.

Here are some ideas for making a more thoughtful holiday season for your little one:

  1. Sharing with others less fortunate is a great part of the holidays. Going through toy bins and closets and select items that are no longer played with and donate them to a local organization is wonderfully thoughtful. It also helps to clear space for new toys!

Do you have a giving tree at your place of worship or through a local non-profit? Ask your child to select the toy for the person you’ve selected.

  1. It’s important to talk about anxiousness during the holidays as the stress or anticipation of events might be overwhelming. Be sure not to over schedule your child otherwise you might see melt downs.
  2. Have your children participate in holiday traditions. Talk about the traditions of your family and assign different jobs/duties as they grow (putting bows on gifts at age 3, helping with cookie making at 5 and helping put up lights at 10). Consider starting a new tradition like looking at lights or Chris Kringle market or a day of wrapping presents.
  3. Sit with your child and talk about realistic presents and values.
  4. The holidays means different things in different families, and it’s good to talk with your child about that so they can be respectful of their friends.

Wishing you a wonderful time of peace and giving.

Don’t Panic! Your Family Holiday Guide Has Arrived!

Happiness, Joy, Anxiety, Stress, Sadness and other emotions are prompted once we begin the holiday rituals.

I’d like to share a few survival tips with your family this holiday!

  1. Begin by understanding what your families expectations are for this holiday season. Then listen to family, friends, co-workers- How do their expectations reflect upon your family participation?
  2. Think about other family experiences and ask “What brings us joy?’ “What has brought  feelings of stress or anxiety?” Set some rules or expectations supporting everyone in your family by suggesting they remove themselves from the event or situation that causes negative feelings and choose something that brings you joy.
  3. Write down a list of what brings your family joy and a list of expectations (which do not bring you joy).
  4. Plan appropriately by having time to doing something each day that brings you joy during the holiday season, like baking, driving around seeing the lights or calling a friends who you have not talked to during the year.
  5. Remember something special about each group (friends, family, work) before you attend a gathering. Focus on that and remain positive.
  6. Focus on the reason for the season. Regardless of your beliefs, it is not always about the gift, but rather, your presence.
  7. Breathe through your busiest moments! Long lines…breathe! Overbooked…breathe!
  8. Reach out to those who have suffered a loss this year or to those battling depression. Joy is not always easy during this time of year for everyone.
  9. Remind each member to take care of themselves and find something new to celebrate next year together.
  10. Listen to the sounds of peace within your mind. A breath, a moment of silence, a smile, will endure always through the holidays and beyond.

Effective Tactics to Welcome College Kids Home for Holiday

It’s that time for college students to return home for holiday break!

What your expectations of your child’s visit will be and their expectation may be two very different things.

For months now, college students have enjoyed being accountable only to themselves and with the end of a semester for some, there could be anxiety being experienced. Combine this with missing school friends and trying to see “home” friends and expectations can be vary greatly between you and your child.

So… after a few months of not following your rules, here are some suggestions on how to manage this time with your child (whether over Thanksgiving or Christmas or both):

  1. Remember- You are still the parent but they are now considered adults.
  2. Share your expectations and decrease misunderstandings.
  3. Find a balance – Let them have that time with their friends and schedule time as a family.
  4. Remind your student that connecting with younger siblings is important and that the at-home sibling may need time to adjust to not being the only child in the home again. So be prepared for a little stress for the other child. Make adjustments like having that college student take them to events instead of you and giving them time to talk and connect again.
  5. Avoid interrogation -the 50 questions drill will not work and will cause anxiety for you both.

Instead, communicate with positive remarks about what they are experiencing and is school what they expected. These questions can open up discussions.

Remember that accountability looks different in your relationship now but open communication and setting proper expectations on both sides can lead to a much more enjoyable time together.

4 Things Every Parent Should Share with their Daughter

I was recently listening to a country western song about how boys and girls deal with break ups differently and it got me thinking about the way girls handle hurt and upset.

Our children find different ways to cope with pain. A girls sensitivity to pain comes from within and unfortunately, she may hold on to it through adulthood.

When a girl intentionally hurts another girl, I am concerned for both children, as both are truly hurt. Bullying can make a girl feel like her life has come to an abrupt stop!

In my years working with children as both a counselor and a coach, I’ve seen the negative and everlasting effects that pain or hurt have on girls.

We need to empower our girls and give them the tools to deal with others and the internal mind chatter and build towards a more positive and powerful future.

I encourage you to share your hurts and disappointments with your daughter and let her know she’s not alone in her situation. Our daughters look up to us and seek our approval and guidance and what better way to help them thrive, then to employ a few simple techniques.

  1. Reaffirm your daughter’s sense of uniqueness.
  2. Share one of your personal disappointments and how you overcame it. By sharing and inviting her to share her disappointments, you’re both coming from a similar starting point and can move forward together.
  3. Read daily affirmations. There are many great affirmations in my book “Changing the Chatter: Help Your Daughter Look Beyond the Mirror for Self- Esteem”
  4. Help your daughter set goals: daily, weekly and long-term


How to Quickly Lower Anxiety for Your Child This Halloween

Halloween is upon us!

I love Halloween and seeing the costumes on children as they are out trick or treating.

You can tell so much about a child from the costume they chose to wear: favorite movie character, super hero or who they identify with.

Here are few ideas for preparing for that special night or day:

  1. Either let your child chose his/her costume or make sure they can relate or identify with it so they’re able to answer questions about it. –Minimize anxiety.


  1. Make sure the costume is weather friendly. It is really hard for a child to plan to wear a costume and then have to covered up with a coat or taking off parts when it is too hot.


  1. Pick and purchase! Last minute changes will happen but you don’t want a costume to be sold out at the store or have to make a costume at the last minute.


  1. For younger children, stay with them while trick or treating and encourage older kids to help out.


  1. If your child has food allergies, look for the teal pumpkin or create a trade-in program to substitute the candy they receive for something else they’d like.


  1. Take them out early and to places they know. Local stores and venues offer early parties for younger children to experience the holiday.


  1. Have the costume come to life with a story the child can tell about their character.


  1. Plan on an early dinner or meeting friends after trick or treating to ensure there’s a meal plan.


Halloween is an imaginative holiday! Let your child share theirs and stay safe.

Happy Halloween!

The Growing Pains of Communicating with Your Child

I recently witnessed a group of moms sharing their concerns about their children. This was prior to our first ChatterGirls meeting and it was awesome to see the connections being made over one commonality, the challenges of raising a daughter today.

We host a parent information meeting prior to each of our sessions but all of the parents are always able to attend so this was a new group of parents meeting for the first time while dropping off their daughters.  It’s great to see parents connecting on such an important issue.

A major concern for all parents is the loss of positive interaction and communication with their child. Communication looks a lot different between a parent and a 7 year old than it does between a 14 year old and a parent. The reality of a 7 year old is completely different from that of freshman in high school!

With each year, new fears may emerge, uncertainties pop up and possibly of a change in friends or schools may occur for some. That’s why it’s imperative to hold on to the connection of sharing the happenings of daily life. Whatever life looks like in the moment, that’s where you need to shine the light and focus, to ensure that you are your child’s life raft when maybe they need a bit of help staying afloat in the rough waters of growing up.

It takes moments to ask questions and remain interested in today’s experiences. The work that you put in today will pay off for years to come. Don’t settle for the response of “fine” or “ok”, you deserve more and so does your child.

We are proud that our program can encourage the girls who attend to remain open and honest with their parents and caregivers. They learn that once they understand themselves, communicating with parents and teachers is easier and helps them write the story of their young experiences.

6 Ways to Start Addressing Tragedy with Children

What happens when tragedy hits?

Whether we look at the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey or a mass shooting, tragedy is part of our lives and when we see it on the news it enters our household and becomes a priority to address with our children.

How do you manage tragedy in your home?  We may be able to shelter our children from some news, but often times, news stories become school discussions. Discussions, images and other media input, may bring a child’s fears closer to reality.

How do you help your child feel safe in the wake of tragedy?  Here are 6 ways to start.

  1. Start by talking with your child, rather than ignoring the issue.
  2. Check with school to see how they will be approaching it.
  3. Remind your child how they are protected in their own home.
  4. Ask your child what they are hearing and what questions they have.
  5. Ask them what they think they can do to help someone who is suffering a tragedy.
  6. Offer suggestions of ways that your family can help those in need: Donating clothes, time or money (from their own savings).

Remember that tragedy looks different through a child’s eyes and ignoring it will only cause further fears and may lead them to believe it’s not important or relevant.

A wonderful lesson to teach our children is that we can help remove fear with discussion.

Is your middle school child ready for the upcoming year?

For some children, middle school can be very challenging, especially the 6th grade.

Schools do their best to eliminate student fears, but not all children are comfortable.

The realization that new friends may need to be made, or new pressures will be faced, can be overwhelming and it’s so very important for children AND parents to have the right tools to move forward and thrive at this time.

I spend quite a bit of my summers preparing young girls for middle school and the anxiety that may accompany the transition. In my program, ChatterGirls, we address those fears and prepare young girls to be comfortable with themselves.

I’d like to share with you a few tips, based off my years of counseling and working with our youth that will help your son or daughter and you during the transition to middle school.

  1. Respectful listening is the most important. Remember that silence also needs to be “heard”.
  2. Be aware that change is happening.
  3. Speaking respectively needs to be two-sided.
  4. As a role model, parents need to keep their social interactions positive.
  5. Are you aware of what thoughts are being kept in the chatterbox of their mind?
  6. Approach conversations in a calm manner and be based in the present.
  7. Quantity of time spent together becomes more challenging, but it’s crucial that the time together be QUALITY time. Make sure to have one on one time with your son or daughter.
  8. Look for signs of anxiety: Withdrawal from friends, poor grades, lack of interest. As a parent your awareness and availability to listen is important.
  9. Keep an eye on your child’s social media accounts. Who is he/she connected with and following? Put rules in place and observe regularly.
  10. See something concerning? Don’t be afraid to reach out to others for assistance. A counselor or life coach are fantastic resources!

Make middle school a time to enjoy and make new friends. Be prepared and enjoy the transition.

Five Ideas to Help Your Daughter Avoid Today’s Pitfalls

Keep their self-esteem intact and boost their self-confidence:

  1. Respectful listening is the most important. Listening happens in many ways, one of which is silence.
  2. Speak respectively to others. Children hear how we speak to our friends and they pick up on if that’s negative or positive in tone.
  3. Encourage your daughter to share the thoughts are being kept in the chatterbox of her mind.
  4. Approach conversations calmly and based in the present.
  5. Focus on the quality of time spent together. The quantity of time spent with our daughters will decrease and it’s important to share time one on one moving forward.