Do you have a favorite podcast? I have to admit that I haven’t really jumped on the podcast train, but I think I just had a change of heart.  This mother/son team from Arlington, Texas are podcasting their way through summer and enjoying some great bonding time producing this brand new podcast called “The Middle School Years” and it’s so charming and fun that I just had to share it with you.

The Middle School Years Podcast

This fun podcast broadcasts two new episodes each week and this mom/son duo launched with only 29 days preparation.  Episodes air on Mondays (with a mama and son talk) and Thursdays (Jennifer interviews a parenting expert) and can be found here. 

The mom, Jennifer Conner


told me that she was surprised at how difficult the transition from elementary school to middle school was for both her and her son. She wanted to share those lessons in a fun, funny and positive way with other families across the country.  Not to mention, she is setting her son up for success by giving him assignments for the podcast each week and he even gets penalized for reporting to “work” late.

Jennifer says:

I’m so excited to partner with my 11-year old middle school son on The Middle School Years Podcast. We’re using technology in a positive way to help spread the word about life in the middle. We hope that our lessons learned will help other moms and middle schoolers.”


Her son, Mekhi Leaks


is responsible for sharing his experiences in middle school each week and for helping with the behind the scenes production!  Instead of sitting around playing video games all week, he is practicing his public speaking skills, honing his organization and writing skills and building the executive functioning skills that are so needed in middle school.

Mekhi told me

The Middle School Years Podcast is amazing because I get to share my middle school experiences to help other kids with their middle school lives. I feel like a superhero.”

Podcasting Wins

How good does it feel as a mom if your child says they feel like a superhero AND they are giving back to the community during their summer break?  I just can’t get enough of this podcasting team.

But, you don’t have to start a podcast to capitalize on this summer bonding time.  Any team project that you complete with your child can help get your tween ready for the middle school years too.

Other ideas for parent/child bonding during the summer:

  • You might re-paint their bedroom or redo a furniture piece
  • Read a book together and have a discussion about it
  • Take a few lessons together in a new sport or hobby
  • Plan a staycation day in your town or a small road trip together (get them involved in the planning)
  • Try out a new recipe every week this summer and put them together in a family cookbook.

Final Thoughts:

If you have a child entering middle school (or returning to middle school), remember that they may not always find it cool to hang out with you anymore.  Use what time you have this summer to have experiences that they will remember even if they complain about it the entire time.

And, check out Jennifer and Mekhi’s podcast, “The Middle School Years” and let them know what you think about their podcasting bonding experience.

Why a white daisy?

Apparently, when people  are asked to draw a flower, the first one that comes to mind for a majority of people is the daisy shape.   This single flower (just the flower part without the stem or any leaves and on a solid black background) was show to study participants after being shown a high-arousal negative image. Examples of high-arousal negative images include awful things like violence, injuries and car crashes.  Two trials were conducted:  in the first subjects were shown a high arousal image and then either a) the flower image b) a mosaic of fragments of the flower image or c) a visual fixation point.  In the second trial, the high arousal image was followed by either a) the flower image, b) a chair (deemed a neutral image) or c) a blue sky with clouds (deemed a positive non-floral image).   Systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings were taken throughout the experiments.  

As expected, mean blood pressure was lower when participants viewed the flower versus the fixation point or the mosaic flower,  but what was unexpected is that the flower image actually reduced mean blood pressure to a level lower than the baseline.  Both the flower image and the blue sky had a similar positive impact in changing mood from negative to positive (with the blue sky having the most overall impact).  However, only the flower (not the sky) caused a reduction in mean blood pressure.  It was determined that viewing a simple flower image could in fact change a negative mood into a more positive one and also decrease blood pressure. 

The power of the single flower image was then studied in regards to salivary cortisol levels.  During this study, the high-arousal images were once again paired with the flower image, the flower fragment mosaic or the fixation point.  Once again, only the flower image was shown to significantly decrease stress during the recovery phase. One final examination looked at fMRI images of the brain during these conditions.  Through this imagery it was discovered that the flower image was effective in decreasing the amygdala-hippocampus activation that occurred after viewing the high arousal images. Researchers speculated that the flower image was a distraction tool that was helped prevent the recall of the stressful images.  

The brief viewing of this single flower image was shown to be effective at reducing negative emotions and created better functioning of both the cardiovascular and endocrine systems! Having such a simple tool available to help reduce stress and regulate unpleasant emotions and is one possible tool for interrupting ruminating thoughts or unpleasant flashbacks.  

About the Author Jen Taylor

Jennifer Taylor, LCSW, RPT is an experienced child and family therapist and public speaker who specializes in trauma, ADHD, and conduct problems. Discover more about her diverse clinical background and family. Reach out to Jennifer with questions or comments by emailing at

Jennifer Taylor, LCSW, RPT is an experienced child and family therapist and public speaker who specializes in trauma, ADHD, and conduct problems. Discover more about her diverse clinical background and family. Reach out to Jennifer with questions or comments by emailing at

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