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Dear Highlights Podcast

A weekly podcast about raising kids today, hosted by Christine French Cully, Highlights Editor in Chief and Chief Purpose Officer

Highlights 4Cs

Curious, Creative, Caring, and Confident™
The light bulb icon represents curiosity. For content about raising a curious child, look for this icon.
The paint brush icon represents creativity. For content about raising a creative child, look for this icon.
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Dear Highlights Podcast

For 75 years, Highlights magazine has received thousands of letters and emails from kids, and we answer every single one. “Dear Highlights” has always served as a way to help ease children’s concerns and help encourage them to become their best selves. In so doing, we’ve sustained an ongoing, authentic dialogue with kids that has deepened our understanding of their worries and fears, as well as their hopes and dreams. Our goal for the Dear Highlights podcast is to elevate the voices of children and help parents raise kids to be curious, creative, caring, and confident.

Dear Highlights addresses the issues around being a kid today and offers parents expert advice to help raise their children to be their best selves. Tune in wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts! We launch a new episode every Tuesday morning.

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Season One

Thank you for listening to Season One of Dear Highlights. Join us again in August 2021 for Season Two. We’ll lean in and listen to more letters from kids, and talk with the grownups researching, learning, and exploring how to help kids tackle the big feelings and really hard things of childhood, to grow to be their best selves.

Episode 12. Children and Grief

The majority of kids will at some point grieve a loved one. It’s a normal part of childhood we often don’t talk about enough. How does a child’s evolving understanding of death impact their grieving? How can we help kids express and process their grief?

Developmental-behavioral pediatrician and Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Dr. David Schonfeld joins us on this week’s episode of Dear Highlights to shed light on the important topic of childhood bereavement. Host Christine French Cully reads letters from grieving children who have lost family members and talks with Dr. Schonfeld about how adults can support children’s understanding of death, model effective coping, and help children to continue to feel connected to their loved one who has died.

Episode 11. Becoming a Big Sib

Helping your school-age child adjust to becoming a big brother or sister can be hard. After all, your child has grown used to your current relationship, whether they have all your attention or share it with an another sibling. And now their world will turn upside down. Are there ways to better prepare your child(ren) for the birth of a sibling? Welcoming a new baby is the subject of this week’s Dear Highlights podcast. Host Christine French Cully talks with New York University Professor of Early Childhood, Erin O’Connor, co-founder of Scientific Mommy--a platform designed to bring together parents, researchers, and teachers around issues of child development--for tips on how best to approach your child about the new baby, when to start an age-appropriate discussion, what should happen on the big day, and living together peacefully once the new baby comes home.

Episode 10. The Role of Fathers

In honor of Father’s Day, we’re talking about dads in this episode of our Dear Highlights podcast. We know that kids look to their fathers to provide a feeling of security, both physical and emotional. Children want to make their fathers proud, and an involved father helps promote a child’s inner growth and strength.  Yet many children write to us about their dads, longing for a different relationship, one that is more connected. Our podcast host, Christine French Cully talks with John Badalament, Ed.M, author of The Modern Dads Dilemma: How To Stay Connected With Your Kids In A Rapidly Changing World and Director of Training and Education at Fathering Together, about the role today’s fathers play in family life. He offers insight and tips on how dads can become more connected with their kids, starting when kids are very young.

Episode 9. Saving the Planet

This week’s Dear Highlights podcast focuses on kids who want to save the planet. Host Christine French Cully talks with Highlights Science Editor Andy Boyles, who provides tips for parents on supporting kids’ interest in caring for the planet and how to talk to kids about the environment,. For years, kids have written to Highlights about animal rights, conservation, climate change, littering, pollution, and more. This podcast will help families learn the many ways they can get involved to help save our planet.

Episode 8. Importance of Play

I have so much homework, when will I have time to play? This kid lament is one many parents hear daily and to help, this episode of the Dear Highlights podcast tackles the importance of play in a kid’s life. Host Christine French Cully talks with play expert, Temple professor Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, PhD,  about how children really learn and why they need to play more and memorize less. Yet many parents, educators, and policy makers worry that playtime takes children away from precious academic activities. Dr. Hirsh-Pasek discusses why play is important, the purpose and need for play in a child’s life, how play influences learning, and simple ways parents can encourage playful learning at home.

Episode 7. Suicidal Thoughts

It may be hard to fathom, but children as young as age 8 can have suicidal thoughts, and many parents don’t know when their children are in crisis. In this week’s Dear Highlights podcast and in honor of Mental Health Awareness month, our host Christine French Cully, talks with Dr. John Ackerman, a child clinical psychologist and the Suicide Prevention Coordinator for the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, about risk factors and treatments for mood disorders and suicide in children, and how to tell if your child is at risk.

Episode 6. Respectful Conversation

For many parents, a child talking back or being rude is met with immediate anger or sternness—perhaps an instinctual response from their own upbringing or beliefs about respecting our elders. In this week’s Dear Highlights podcast, we tackle dealing with disrespect in terms of back talk and how a rude exchange can become a teachable moment. Mom and educator Dr. Chawanna B. Chambers talks with our podcast host Christine French Cully on how to teach a child who is seemingly acting disrespectful to manage their responses. For Chambers, her 6-year-old speaking rudely was an opportunity to teach a lesson about our brains and how we can head off a problematic interaction before it starts. 

Episode 5. Big Feelings

This Dear Highlights podcast focuses on mental health for kids. Host Christine French Cully interviews pediatric psychologist Parker Huston, PhD, Clinical Director of On Our Sleeves, a national movement to break stigmas around children's mental health, from Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. They discuss concrete strategies for parents about tweens and mental health, such as when to know if a mood swing is just that or something more. How can parents tell if their child’s anxiety over attending a birthday party is a phase or a sign of a deeper issue? Many children occasionally experience fears and worries or display disruptive behaviors. This podcast offers advice on assessing children’s mental health.

Episode 4. Mother's Day Tribute

We created a special Dear Highlights podcast as a Mother’s Day tribute.  Host Christine French Cully shares how kids feel about their moms with a few letters, poems, and stories they’ve written to Highlights over the years. We’ve all experienced or at least heard about the additional roles moms have had to take on in this pandemic--teacher, social director, creative muse, and more! To honor them and all they do for children every day, we dedicated this podcast as a Mother’s Day tribute.

Episode 3. Navigating Friendship

Today’s Dear Highlights episode discusses navigating friendships, both the fun and the challenge. Highlights receives more mail about friendship, a vital part of a kid’s social-emotional development, than any other subject. By making and keeping friends, kids learn important life skills, such as getting along with others and resolving conflicts. Positive interactions with friends help build self-esteem and provide kids with a sense of belonging. In contrast, negative interactions with friends, such as being betrayed or feeling hurt by a friend, can dampen their self-confidence. Our guest, child psychologist Eileen Kennedy-Moore, PhD, is the author of Growing Friendships, A Kids’ Guide to Making and Keeping Friends and of Kid Confidence, Help Your Child Make Friends, Build Resilience and Develop Self Esteem. She provides insight to parents on how to navigate the ups and downs of their child’s friendships and offers actionable advice on the best ways parents can help their child.   


Episode 2. Sibling Rivalry

In this Dear Highlights episode about sibling rivalry, host Christine French Cully talks with clinical psychologist Dr. Laura Markham, author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings: How to Stop the Fighting and Raise Friends for Life  and founding editor of AhaParenting.com, about sibling rivalry, the role siblings play in family life, why siblings fight, and how parents can best keep a peaceful, happy home. Dr. Laura offers simple yet powerful ways to cut through common sibling squabbles and to foster a loving, supportive bond between siblings, while giving each child the vital connection they need.


Episode 1. Worrying

This Dear Highlights episode discusses how the pandemic affected children as their worlds turned upside down, and how parents can nurture optimism in their kids as we move to a new normal. This past year, kids have had to tackle distance learning, face-mask wearing, social distancing, and more. With that, many children were worried about parents who were front-line workers or about the health of their elderly grandparents. One recurring theme was the anxiety that kids felt due to the pandemic. Now that the world is beginning to open up, how will kids feel about the future?  Additionally, how can the parents who love them best guide them to have a sense of optimism? Our guest, educational psychologist Michele Borba, EdD, author of the new book, Thrivers, and TODAY show contributor, offers sound, realistic advice to parents, teachers, and advocates for children about helping children thrive.