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6 Simple Steps to Handle Your Child’s Mood Swings


We all have moments when our kids are moody and cranky and we are wondering, “Why is this happening?” Are we bad parents because we can’t handle it? Why can’t we fix this? I am here to tell you not to worry anymore. Their behavior is completely normal and all kids have mood swings. Every parent just has to remember our children have a lot on their plate every single day: hours of homework, difficult exams, all the friendship dramas and lot more.

Mood swings are a normal characteristic of development at certain stages, such as during toddlers and teenager years, and there is no ultimate cure for it. After all, they are still kids and as a result, they may not have the emotional language to express and work through what they are experiencing.

Luckily, there are tips parents can use to help their kids regulate all of those emotions. Follow these simple steps and you will be able to fight mood swings.

1. Be understanding.
The most important rule for parents is to be understanding of where our children’s emotions and what is behind their behavior. Don’t be mad because of their mood swings and show them some support. Ask them questions about what they are going through, however do not push if they do not want to share their problems with you. Just let them know you are recognizing their feelings.

Also, instead of pushing them, say something like, “It sounds as if you are not in the mood to talk at the moment. I understand that completely, but I am here whenever you need me.” Later, when they are more relaxed, such as when you are playing together or when you are watching TV, ask if something happened, he wants to talk about. They will more likely be ready to talk if you do not push them and it is easier for them to bring up some hard topics when they are involved in another activity.

2. Stick to your boundaries.
Even though you need to be understanding, you also need to stick to your boundaries. Our children will often try to test us to see how far they can go. Our response will show them how far we will allow them to go. You need to make clear what kind of behaviors you going to tolerate and stick to your decisions.

3. Don’t be critical and stay calm.
When your kids are having a mood swing, you will feel the urge to point out that they are overreacting and that the world is not going to end. Resist that urge, because if you criticize them, you will just push them further away from you. Also, if you get angry, it could escalate into a power struggle. So try to stay calm.

4. Don’t despair. 
If your child’s moods and aggression sometimes makes you despair, just remember that you are not alone. Talk to other parents and share your experiences. You will feel much better when you see that there are other parents going through the same thing.

5. Play with your children.
When they are in a bad mood, suggest they play a fun game. That will help them relax and calm down. Also, playing together can help you bond with your children.

6. Create a happy place.
Create a happy place for your children. A place where they can go when they are feeling upset. It can be a simple chair in their room where they can read their favourite books, or maybe listen to some music. Their happy place will easily make them calm when they are feeling moody.

If you teach your children how to cope with their emotions now, that will help them for the rest of their life.

Remember these simple steps and you will have a good time with your child despite the mood swings. Also, always have one thing in your mind: you are the person your children need the most, even if they are not showing that!





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Why Are Kids So Crazy About Animals?


I wouldn’t expect kids to want to give any of their money to grown-ups. And while kids may be helping to drive awareness of climate change, “the Earth” is a pretty amorphous target.

But I have to say that I am constantly surprised by how devoted kids are to animals, even if that devotion doesn’t seem to last into adulthood for most of us. (See, for instance, the dearth of interest in animals in this philanthropy bleg.)

Can anyone explain it?

I have a few rough thoughts:

1. Animals are simply cute and cuddly — at least in the abstract, and in cartoons.

2. Animals seem vulnerable, and kids want to take care of them — or, conversely:

3. Animals seem vulnerable, and kids want to control them.

4. Animals are a sort of proxy for kids in that kids are relatively powerless compared to adults whereas animals are relatively powerless compared to people.





We are different, we are the same: Teaching young children about diversity


We are different, we are the same: Teaching young children about diversity
Diversity activities teach young children to respect and celebrate the differences in all people. Learning about different cultural aspects offers new experiences for children.

It also helps them realize that we’re all humans, despite differences in how we look or dress, or what we eat or celebrate. Games and activities offer a fun way for young children to learn about differences and similarities among people and to introduce the concept of diversity. All types of differences such as race, religion, language, traditions, and gender can be introduced this way.

When do children notice differences between people? At about age 2 years, children begin to notice gender and racial differences. At 2 ½ or so, children learn gender labels (boy/girl) and the name of colors – which they begin to apply to skin color. Around 3 years of age, children notice physical disabilities. At about 4-5 years, they start to display gender appropriate behavior and become fearful of differences.

Activities that can help children learn about and appreciate differences:
Skin color match-ups helps children learn about different skin tones and ethnic backgrounds.
What you need:
nylon knee high stockings in various shades such as tan, black, white, pink, yellow, and red
What you do:
Encourage children to try the nylons on their hands, arms, or feet. Ask questions to help children increase their awareness of skin color: “Can you find a stocking that is the same color as your skin?” Have children try another color and ask them, “Is this lighter or darker than your own skin color?”

Hair, hair everywhere helps children learn about different hair types related to ethnic groups.
What you need:
photographs of different hairstyles, types, and hair care products
What you do:
Ask children to identify the different types of hair by talking about hair texture and curl. For example, some people have fine, thin hair while others have thick, coarse hair. Some people have straight hair and some people have curly hair. Talk about how people have different hair colors, lengths, and styles. Discuss how to care for different types of hair and which types of hair care products children use. Take photos of each child’s hair and make a collage of different hairstyles.

Diversity bingo helps children learn about other cultures from around the world.
What you need:
Bingo cards with images that relate to a specific culture and a large set of picture cards with the same images as those on the bingo cards; some ideas might be an Indian sari, chopsticks, or a sombrero.
What you do:
In each square of the bingo card, place an image of something from a specific culture. To play, hold up one of the large set of pictures; tell the children (or ask them) what the picture is and what culture it comes from. Students who get five across, down, or diagonally win.

Diversity dress up incorporates diversity into dramatic play to help children learn about different cultures.
What you need:
Clothing for various cultures (examples: yarmulke, a Jewish head cover; Burka, a garment worn by Muslim women); start with clothing that is reflective of the various cultures in your program, then expand to other cultures that the children may
What you do:
Have children try on the various items of clothing and discuss the culture that wears each one and why/how that style of clothing was created. Place the items in the dramatic play area so that children can wear the clothing as part of their play scenarios.

Music for everyone demonstrates the importance of music to many different cultures.
What you need:
audio recordings of music including those from a variety of cultures and featuring different types of instruments, and pictures of various musical instruments
What you do:
Ask each student to bring in a CD of music from their family of origin. Explain about each culture and how music plays a role in their cultures and celebrating traditions. Talk about what instruments are used. Add similar CDs to your music library and use them in daily music activities.

Reading Spot Light
The Sneeches by Dr. Seuss
In this story the star-belly and plain-belly Sneeches learn that neither type is superior and that they are able to get along and become friends.

The Color of Us by Karen Katz
This story explores how everyone in the neighborhood is a different shade of brown – from peanut butter to chocolate – and does a great job of subtly explaining that people are all different shades of the same color.

Why Am I Different by Norma Simon
This book outlines the variety of ways people can be different from each other including hair color, size, language, and family.

It’s OK to be Different by Todd Parr
The author explores sensitive issues such as adoption and unusual things such as eating macaroni in the bathtub, but manages to explore diversity in all forms.

Resources and References:

Public Broadcasting Sysyem. “Diversity in the Classroom.” Precious Children.







How can I get my kids to put down their phones?


As annoying as constant texting is, it’s a normal part of life for many kids. Staying in touch with friends is important to tweens and teens. When we parents were teens, we talked for hours on the phone! Now the same kind of contact happens through texting.
However, if cell phone use is getting in the way of family time, homework, and other responsibilities, it might be time to help your kid manage his or her phone time.
Help kids find space for face-to-face conversations. Put phones down during key conversation times such as dinner or car rides.
Model the manners and behavior you want to see. Avoid texting in the car. Consider narrating your phone use (“I’m looking up directions to the party”) so young kids understand the utility of the device. Make sure to excuse yourself if you have to interrupt a family moment to attend to your phone.
Charge kids’ phones in your room at night. Removing their phones can give kids a needed break.
Establish consequences for problematic phone use. If your kids are having trouble putting the phone away when you ask or are engaging in other problematic phone-related behavior, consider instituting temporary time or location limits. Some wireless carriers offer parental controls that let you set daily phone-use limits, and some apps can disable your kid’s phone when he or she hits a limit.
What’s your strategy for getting your kids to put down their phones?




Being The Only Girl In The Family


Even though I was the middle child, being the only girl gave me perks that most middle children miss out on.
I grew up in a house with an older brother and two younger brothers. Nonetheless, it was always pretty hectic in my home. There were a lot of times that I was felt like more of an afterthought than a priority. That was due to my older brother always needing so much attention with his behavioral issues and of course having a newborn didn’t make things any easier for my parents. I was definitely the kid that helped most though. Being the only girl, my mom always looked to me for extra help and hands.
Being the only girl also means that I am a huge daddy’s girl. I have definitely always been my father’s daughter. I have always been very close with my dad and he has always done everything he can to give me whatever I wanted. However, he has also taught me lessons about life that my mom couldn’t or give me advice about things that no one could explain better than him. He’s taught me the importance of budgeting and saving money. He’s taught me to work hard in life and take care of myself. I got my drive and great work ethic from him and I could not be happier about that.
Growing up as the only girl, I would always get a little more on Christmas than my brothers (shhh), a lot of the times it was because I was the only granddaughter in the family for the majority of my life. Everyone loved being able to spend time with me one-on-one when they got the chance because it was always a nice break from rowdy boys. Every man in my family always felt a little more protective over me when it came to boys or just me going out. Even my little brothers, now that they’re older, will try to do and say little things that show they are trying to stick up for me. Being the only girl meant that any guy I ever brought around my family needed to be prepared in advance for their extensive list of questions.
Being the only girl meant I was held to a little bit of higher expectations. Partially because I was a responsible kid and a good one, and partially because I was the girl of the family. I was also looked up to a lot by my little brothers, I still am.
I was raised as a role model to my younger siblings and often times, even my older brother. Being the only girl gave me a lot of “mommy” duties when it came to helping my parents out with the little ones. I loved it honestly. It’s given practice toward raising my own kids in the future and it’s made really appreciate my brothers. Being the only girl and the middle child meant I got away a with things a lot *evil laugh*. And yes, being the only girl, I was spoiled and yes, I was a brat about it when I was younger. But, being the only girl my whole life has also taught me a lot of great lessons and has helped me become the person I am today. I’ve learned responsibilities that most people my age now and growing up, didn’t have to. I’ve learned to become very independent because of them and I have been able to support myself. And no, I’m the stereotype most people put with only girls or children. No, I’m not a spoiled rotten brat and expect everything handed to me; I was raised to work for what I want. No, I’m not mean or rude to people when things don’t go my way or they don’t give me what I want.
Though I’m not the only granddaughter or niece in the family anymore, I will always be the only sister among my siblings. And want everyone to know that it’s not a bad thing to be the only girl or an only child and that we aren’t selfish, spoiled little brats.




Planning holidays with kids


Whether you’re hanging out in one spot or heading off to explore, holidays with kids are about planning for short attention spans and short travel times.

Here are some top tips:
Plan more breaks and fewer activities than you would if you were travelling on your own or with adults.
Make sure you have plenty of stops for meals and drinks to keep everyone’s energy levels up.
Look for activities and local attractions to keep children entertained – for example, swimming, games, playgrounds, carnivals, fun parks and movies.
Plan downtime for yourself too. If your children are entertained with organized activities, playing with other children, or being looked after by babysitters, you’ll get a break for yourself.





Top 3 Reasons Why Your Child Has Runny Nose All the Time


Are you constantly running after your child with KleenexTM ? Does your child seem to have a “cold” that never clears? Does your child have sore nostrils from constant wiping, shirt sleeves that you want to wash on “sanitary cycle”, and  crusty material around his/her cute cheeks that is not so “cute”? As an ear, nose, and throat specialist, I am always advocating for what I consider to be the perhaps most under appreciated organ in our body, the nose. No matter how big or small, we all need the nose to work properly to breathe, smell, humidify the air, and smell is responsible for 2/3 of our perceived taste. In addition, our sense of smell let us know if we are exposed to potential dangers such as a fire or exposure to chemicals. Finally, as an Asian woman with a not-so-prominent nasal bridge, I can tell you how useful our noses are to hold up our glasses and sunglasses! For all that it is responsible for, in our children with their small noses, anytime it is runny with snot, many of these functions are impaired.
If your young toddler and preschool aged child has chronic runny nose daily or most days, and they are playing, eating, running around, going to daycare, sleeping, and act like mucus is part of their personal charm, then it is very likely that they do not have a “chronic” illness.  Any or all of the following are most likely the reasons why they have a runny nose all the time:
1)Young children can’t blow their noses effectively, nor do they sniff snot into the back of their throat effectively like we can.
2)they experience many more colds in the first years of life.
3)they suffer from the Milk and Cookie Disease (MCD) – too much dairy and/or sugar in their diet, and they are drinking milk at bedtime.
Preschool aged children are known to experience at least 7-10 upper respiratory tract illnesses (URI) or “colds” per year.  The great news is that only 7-13% of these URIs actually go on to result in a true and real “sinus infection” that we associate with bacteria, and therefore would benefit from a course of oral antibiotics. However, the rest of those 93-87% URIs can still result in green and snotty noses with cough even after the initial 7-10 days of cold symptoms, and not represent a true “sinus infection”.  The trouble is that for parents and doctors alike, it is extremely difficult to tell when your child may be experiencing that 10% “acute rhinosinusitis” as a complication of the viral illness.  As a pediatric ear, nose, and throat specialist, I think a course of antibiotics is reasonable if a child continues to have runny nose, cough, congestion, and fever for over 7 days and the cough is present both daytime and nighttime such that is disturbing their sleep.  I am especially concerned if the child has poor appetite, can’t engage in fairly normal play and activities despite the runny noses and cough, and/or seem ill for longer than the week that we would expect it takes for a cold to go away.  Research has demonstrated that this is an area of significant challenge.  When pediatricians are surveyed, there is significant variation in the age at which pediatricians begin to consider the diagnosis of acute sinus infection with most using duration of symptoms as the most important diagnostic factor.  Also found was the likelihood of pediatricians prescribing the use of systemic decongestants and antihistamines in young children, which is now being scrutinized given the recent Food and Drug Administration warnings regarding their safety.  By the way, “snot” being green does not mean it’s a “sinus infection”.  The discoloration naturally occurs due to an enzyme called “myeloperoxidase” found in neutrophils, a cell that fights infection, and the enzyme contains iron which causes the discoloration. This occurs due to inflammation and should not be interpreted as an indicator of true “acute rhinosinusitis” or need for antibiotics.
In A Healthier Wei, I explain the benefits of mucus and the natural physiology of why during a cold, allergies, and reflux from MCD and bad eating habits increase mucus production.  While I can’t “cure” or prevent colds and true allergies, my book, philosophy, and counseling of families about their child’s diet and dietary habits has helped thousands of young children stop having chronic stuffy and/or runny noses.
It is important to understand that children CAN NOT have a sinus infection of a sinus they don’t have!  Babies are born with early buds of the maxillary (cheek) and ethmoid (between the eyes) sinuses, while the formation of the frontal (forehead) sinuses and sphenoid (center of the head) sinus do not usually start forming until age 7 or older, for the frontals, and age 5 or older for the sphenoid.   Again, the point is, nasty snotty noses can occur without a sinus infection!
The understanding of this point by both primary care physicians and parents and caretakers is critical to reduce the over prescription, overconsumption, and inappropriate use of oral antibiotics.  Furthermore, we can all reduce unnecessary visits to the emergency department, urgent care facility, and doctor’s visits for these symptoms if we share this information and support one another in how to better handle runny noses in young children.   The overprescribing and overuse of antibiotics will continue to threaten our ability to treat resistant strains of organisms responsible for other infections.  The overprescribing and overuse of medications in otherwise healthy children will continue to threaten our children experiencing potential side effects that we do not yet know or understand because we have not had research data showing what happens when a child has taken 20-30 years of once daily allergy medications or nasal steroid sprays.
While my own research and other clinical trials have shown how effective and safe using saline nasal irrigation is for treating true and chronic rhinosinusitis (congestion, cough, and runny nose) in resolving these symptoms, I find that children younger than 4 simply can’t tolerate the once daily irrigation using a squeeze bottle.  Before we get too discouraged, the good news is that based on my clinical experience and research, true chronic rhinosinusitis typically occurs in school aged children (average age around 7) who have underlying skin-test proven allergies to multiple aeroallergens (trees, grass, pollen, mold, dust mites, etc).  Therefore, I am even more passionate about making sure that our toddlers and preschool aged children do not have MCD as the cause of their chronic runny nose.
I am a strong advocate for making sure that our toddlers and preschool aged children do not receive unnecessary radiation exposure through x-rays of their sinuses and CAT scans to find out if they have “sinus infection”.  While both tests definitely have a role in helping primary doctors and ENT specialists to confirm whether a child has sinus inflammation, they are neither recommended nor necessary to make the diagnosis of any suspected acute problems.  Based on my own published research findings, I only order CT scan in children who are sent to me for chronic rhinosinusitis AFTER they have used once daily irrigation for 6 weeks, and report no improvement in their chronic symptoms of nasal congestion, cough, and/or runny nose. Thank goodness I find this to be the case in only about 10% or less of all the children I see in my practice.
By the way, if your child’s doctor or allergist did order a CT scan, and it shows some “opacification” (gray in the sinus cavity representing thickening or swelling of mucous membrane), this is often misinterpreted by physicians, even ENT doctors, as sign of “sinus infection” and lead to the prescription of 21 days of oral antibiotics. Let me share that I have met endless number of families whose child has been so many courses of these “21 day” rounds of antibiotics and they simply do not experience long term “cure” of their symptoms. The reports of paranasal sinus CT scans usually describe such findings as “mucosal thickening” and rarely do physicians see “air-fluid levels”, a finding that would support acute infection.  Opacification is only showing that there is t mucosal thickening in the sinus cavities, and usually means there has been prolonged lack of airflow through the natural “window” of each sinus from the nasal passages.  Due to blockage of the “window”, there is then lack of oxygen in the sinus cavities and then inflammation results, not necessarily bacterial overgrowth.
Here is the bottom line, if you have a young child (older than 12 months) with chronic runny nose, try the following and you will likely see an incredible improvement:
1) If your child drinks milk every night right before or at bedtime, STOP immediately. I promise that within 7 days you will notice that he/she will have much less congestion, nighttime cough, waking up with snot and phlegm, and sleep better.  A Healthier Wei explains why undigested milk in the stomach lead to reflux and then these nasal symptoms.
2) If your child has a snack every night after dinner and before bed, especially if they contain dairy and/or sugar, STOP that habit. Instead, if he/she must eat again, choose items which do not contain diary and/or sugar.  See 5 tips to A Healthier Wei at
3)If your child eats a great deal of dairy every day, yogurt, cheese stick, milk, chocolate milk, Mac-n-Cheese, cheese pizza, cheese, ice cream, etc, please consider cutting down on their daily dairy consumption.  Find out how much dairy is truly necessary for health in A Healthier Wei.

To read more go to link above.





Is My Child Old Enough to Babysit?
Get expert insight on whether or not your teen is ready to be a caregiver


A recent study of 11- to 13-year-old babysitters found that almost all of them know whom they should contact if faced with an intruder or sick child, but 40 percent said they had left children unattended and 20 percent had opened the door to a stranger.
Figuring out whether your daughter is up to the task really comes down to knowing your child. (Note: Some states do set the minimum age for a babysitter at 12.) Does she generally make good decisions? If she has younger siblings, how does she interact with them? If you’re confident that she would be reliable, then suggest she take a babysitting class. The American Red Cross offers a one-day course for 11- to 15-year-olds (
You can also help your child prepare by rehearsing different scenarios, such as what to do if the doorbell rings or a stranger phones. And it’s a good idea to ease her into the role: In the beginning, she should only accept jobs for a few hours at a time, so that she has a chance to get used to the kids she’s watching and vice versa. Of course, she should always know how to contact the parents in case of an emergency; having the number of a neighbor is a good idea as well. The more support she has, the better.






Caregiving with Your Siblings


Providing care for your parents can be complicated. When your brothers and sisters are also involved, caregiving can become even more complex. While your siblings can be enormously helpful and your best support, they can also be a source of stress.
In this fact sheet, you will learn how to identify the family dynamics that can impact caregiving, ways your siblings can help, how to increase your chances of getting that help, and how to deal with emotions that arise.

Why Sibling Tensions Can Erupt as Parents Need Care
Todayʼs adult children and their parents are going through a new kind of family transition. Because parents are living longer—but with chronic illnesses—their adult children are now caring for them for up to a decade or more. Siblings—or in some cases step-siblings—might not have a model for how to work together to handle caregiving and the many practical, emotional, and financial issues that go with it. There is no clear path guiding who should do what, no roadmap for how siblings should interact as mature adults. While some families are able to work out differences, many others struggle.
Siblings are also going through a major emotional passage that stirs up feelings from childhood. Watching our parents age and die is one of the hardest things in life, and everyone in the family will handle it differently.
Itʼs normal to feel a wide range of emotions. You may find that needs arise for love, approval, or being seen as important or competent as a sibling. You may not even be conscious of these feelings, but they affect the way you deal with your parents and with each other. So without realizing it, you may all be competing with each other as you did when you were kids. Now, however, the fights are over caregiving: who does or doesnʼt do it; how much; and who is in charge.
This is a hard time, so have compassion for yourself, and try to have compassion for your siblings. You donʼt have to excuse negative behavior, but try to imagine the fear, pain, or need that is causing your siblings to react as they do. That kind of understanding can defuse a lot of family conflict.

As a Family, Carefully Consider—or Reconsider—the Caregiving Responsibilities
Families often donʼt think through who becomes the primary caregiver and what supporting roles other family members will play. Caregiving may start when the sibling who lives nearby or has a close relationship to the parent helps out with small things. You may not even identify yourself as a caregiver at first, but then find yourself overwhelmed and feeling resentful of your siblings as your parent requires more help. Itʼs easy for families to fall into common traps, assuming, for example, that the son will handle finances while the daughter will take care of emotional or physical care needs.
In another common trap, one sibling may become Momʼs caregiver because he or she doesnʼt have a job or needs a place to stay, and family members think this arrangement will solve a lot of problems. But it can be a recipe for trouble. The family needs to spell out clearly what that person will be expected to do, whether there will be financial compensation, and how that will work. In addition, the sibling(s) should be clear about what support tasks each will provide.
You need to re-examine all these assumptions as a family. The best way to do this is to call a family meeting as early (and, later, as often) as possible. A family meeting can provide a place to discuss the parentʼs needs and to ask what each person can contribute in time or money. If needed, a trusted person outside the family can facilitate.

Think About Family Roles When You Were Growing Up, and How You Can Change Them for Caregiving
Whenever we get together with family, most of us tend to slip into our old roles, even though we behave differently when we are with other people. But these roles may not work anymore. Parents may not be able to play the parts they did when the family was young, like making the decisions, providing emotional support, or smoothing tensions between family members.
Maybe you were expected to be the responsible one; maybe your brother was seen as someone who needed taking care of. Maybe your other sister was groomed to go off and become the achiever while family chores were left to others. Perhaps you were identified as the “caring” one while your sister was labeled “selfish” or “cold.” So ask yourself: am I being pulled into being the big sister or the helpless little kid even though weʼre all adults now?
Also, itʼs helpful now to take a fresh look at your siblings. Parents create labels and roles for each child, and everyone in the family adopts them and assumes they are true. They may be based on some reality, but parents may also assign these labels for all kinds of reasons: who was born first or last, which kid reminds Mom of her older sister (whom she resented), which kid is most like Dad in personality—and how Mom feels about Dad!
Whatever the reasons for these roles, we need to re-examine them now. If you were the “responsible” one, it does not mean that you should accept doing everything because you always did—even though your siblings may expect you to take on that role. You may need to help them see that you can all adapt your roles to new times and who you are today. Also, if you assume a brother or sister is less capable or helpful because thatʼs the way you saw them as kids, you are less likely to get help from them. If you approach them differently, they may prove to be more helpful than you think possible.

Siblings May Have Different Ideas About What Parents Need
The idea that you may soon lose Mom or Dad, or that they need more care, can be really scary. Some adult children still need their Mom to be the parent. Some get over-anxious and think the parent is in bigger trouble than they are. Some just canʼt accept that the parents need as much help as they do. These differences are common. Here are some ways to handle this:
If thereʼs no emergency, allow some time to get everyone on the same page. Itʼs natural for siblings to take in the situation at different times and in different ways. This can happen regardless of whether theyʼre far away or close.
Share information. Get a professional assessment of your parentʼs condition by a doctor, social worker, or geriatric care manager and send the report to all your siblings. Try using email, online care sharing tools, and/or in-person family meetings to help keep everyone abreast of care issues and information.
Keep in mind that parents often tell their kids different things about how theyʼre doing. This is a good reason to keep communication lines open with each other and to try to pool your information about your parentʼs health.

Try to Separate Your Parent’s Needs from Your Own—and Yesterday’s Battles from Today’s Decisions
Itʼs natural to take pride in being able to help your parent, or feel satisfaction that you are doing something important and valuable. When these basic needs are satisfied, caregivers feel good about what theyʼre doing and feel less burdened.
But you may also have other less conscious, emotional needs that can actually make things harder for you. For example, if you feel you must make your Mom happy—when sheʼs never been a happy person or has suffered painful losses—you may be setting yourself up for an impossible task. You can make sure your parents are well cared for, but it isnʼt your job—nor is it always possible—to make them happy.
So try to focus on the essential things your parent needs for good care. For example, if you insist on doing all Momʼs shopping because only you know what she likes, you may exhaust yourself. And itʼs hardly a tragedy if your sister buys her a different brand of tuna.
When those old needs to be loved and approved of get stirred up, it can fire up sibling rivalry. After all, youʼre not the only child who needs to feel important to Mom or Dad. So when youʼre discussing whether Dad needs a more expensive wheelchair or Mom is still safe at home, try to keep the discussion on the concrete issue at hand, not on which of you cares the most or knows what is best.

Clues That You Are Acting out of Emotional Needs or Fighting Old Battles
Your level of emotion is out of proportion to the specific thing being discussed right now. For example: getting into a heated argument about which of you should go to the doctor with Dad next week.
You or your siblings criticize the way you think another person is being, for example: selfish, bossy, uncaring, irresponsible, or worse.
You feel that none of your siblings understands what Mom needs the way you do and you are the only one who can do certain things.
You or your siblings generalize a discussion, saying, for example, “You always do this!”
You or your siblings criticize the way one another feels, for example, “You donʼt care anything about Mom.”
When you become furious or terribly hurt in a dispute with your sibling, try to step back, calm down, and focus just on the issue at hand, e.g. getting Dad to his doctor appointment.

Tips for Winning More Support from Your Siblings
Try to accept your siblings—and your parents—as they really are, not who you wish they were. Families are complicated and never perfect. There are no “shoulds” about how people feel. They are not bad people or bad children if they donʼt feel the same as you do. If you can accept this, you are likelier to get more support from them, or, at least, less conflict.

Do not over-simplify. Itʼs easy to assume that you are completely right and your siblings are all wrong—or lazy, irresponsible, uncaring, etc. Each person has a different relationship with your parent, and each personʼs outlook is bound to be different.

Ask yourself what you really want from your siblings. Before you can ask for what you want, you need to figure this out, and thatʼs not always as simple as it seems. First of all, ask yourself whether you really, deep down, want help. Many caregivers say they do but actually discourage help. So think hard. Do you want them to do certain tasks regularly? Do you want them to give you time off once in a while? Or do you feel you have everything under control but youʼd like them to contribute money for services or respite?

Or—and this is a big one for many caregivers—do you really not want them to do anything but youʼd like more emotional support? Many caregivers feel lonely, isolated, and unappreciated. If youʼd like your siblings to check in on you more, ask them to call once a week. And tell them it would really help if they would say “thanks” or tell you youʼre doing a good job. They are more likely to do this if you donʼt criticize them for what they are not doing.
Ask for help clearly and effectively.
Asking is the first step. You might ask for help by saying: “Can you stay with Mom every Thursday? I have to get the shopping done for the week and it gives me some time to myself.” Donʼt fall into the common trap of thinking, “I shouldnʼt have to ask.” Your siblings may assume that you have everything covered so they donʼt recognize the added responsibilities and “burden.” They are involved with their own lives and struggles and not so attuned to yours that they can read your mind. Also, if youʼre not exactly sure what you want from them, you may be giving them mixed messages.
Ask directly and be specific. Many caregivers hint or complain or send magazine articles about the hardships of eldercare. But these strategies do not work well.
Ask for whatʼs realistic. People get more when they donʼt ask for the impossible. So consider the relationship your sibling has with Mom or Dad and ask for what that person can really give. If your sister canʼt spend ten minutes with Mom without screaming at her, donʼt ask her to spend time; ask for something thatʼs easier for her, like doing paperwork or bringing groceries.

Watch how you ask for help—and steer clear of the cycle of guilt and anger.
Avoid making your siblings feel guilty. Yes, really. Guilt makes people uncomfortable and defensive. They might get angry, minimize or criticize what you are doing, or avoid you. That is likely to make you angry, and then you will try harder to make them feel guilty. They will attack back or withdraw even more. And round and round you go.
Sometimes your siblings will criticize you because they are genuinely concerned about your parents. Try to listen to these concerns without judgment and consider whether it is useful feedback. At the same time, be bold by asking for appreciation for all that you are doing—and remember to say thanks back when someone is helpful.
Be careful of your tone and language when you request something. Itʼs not always easy to hear the way we sound to others. You might think you are asking for help in a nice way, but if youʼre angry, thatʼs the tone your siblings will hear. And theyʼre likely to react in unhelpful ways.

Get help from a professional outside the family. Families have long, complicated histories, and during this very emotional passage, it is often hard to communicate with each other without overreacting, misinterpreting, or fighting old battles. Even the healthiest families can sometimes use the help of an objective professional. People like family therapists, social workers, geriatric care managers, physicians, or clergy can help siblings establish what is real about a parentʼs health and needs in order to help distribute responsibilities more equitably. In family meetings, they can help you stay focused on the topic at hand and help you avoid bringing up old arguments.

Steer clear of power struggles over your parent’s assignment of legal powers. Whether or not you have been given your parentʼs legal powers over finances or health, you need to remember that it is your parent who has made these decisions. If you have your Momʼs or Dadʼs power of attorney, be sure to keep detailed records and send your siblings statements about how you have spent Momʼs money. This may seem like a lot of extra work, but record keeping is required by law, and being open will reduce distrust or distortion—and lawsuits. If a sibling has been given legal power, try to accept your parentʼs decision and donʼt take it as a personal attack on you. Do your best to work with the sibling who has the authority by presenting expenses and bills in black and white. If the sibling who has the purse strings doesnʼt cooperate, then bring in a professional to explain your parentʼs needs and to mediate. If you are concerned about manipulation, a changed will, or undue influence, contact your local Adult Protective Services.

Donʼt let inheritance disputes tear your family apart. If you feel wronged by the way your parents have divided their money and property, itʼs natural to be upset, especially when you are grieving. You may feel that you deserve more because you have cared for your parents. If thatʼs what you feel, you need to discuss this with your parents while they are alive and can make these decisions. If you suspect foul play by another sibling, then this is the time to consult an attorney or Adult Protective Services.
Yet, research shows that most parents feel a need to leave their estates equally as a sign of their equal love for all their children. When they divide things unequally, itʼs often because they are worried that a particular child will be in greater need. Whatever their reasons, remember that it was your parents, not your siblings, who decided this. Think hard before you take your anger or disappointment out on your siblings. They are what remains of your original family, and for most people, this relationship becomes more important after parents die.

Dealing with your siblings over parent care can be difficult, complex, and emotional. It is important to understand your own emotions at this challenging time and to try to have sympathy for your siblingsʼ feelings as well, even if you disagree. Ask for what you need from them directly and specifically without guilt or anger. If you cannot, or there is conflict anyway, bring in an objective professional to help your family solve the problems that need solving. Family dynamics were present prior to your caring for your parent(s), and you may not be able to resolve existing conflicts now to your satisfaction. The important thing is to be sure to get support for yourself so that you can find peace during your caregiving journey, and once it is completed.




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Raising Children of Character: 10 Principles
By Thomas Lickona


1. Make Character Development a High Priority
One of my college students, reflecting on her character development, wrote: “I was an only child, and my parents let me have my own way most of the time. I know they wanted to show how much they loved me, but I have struggled with selfishness my whole life.”
We need to view our children as adults-in-the-making. What kind of character do we want them to possess as grown men and women? Will they be generous and responsible adults? Will they make loving husbands and wives, and capable mothers and fathers? How is our approach to parenting likely to affect these outcomes?
2. Be an Authoritative Parent
Parents must have a strong sense of their moral authority — their right to be respected and obeyed. Psychologist Diana Baumrind’s research has identified three styles of parenting: authoritative, authoritarian, and permissive. Authoritarian parents use a lot of commands and threats but little reasoning. Permissive parents are high on affection but low on authority. By contrast, authoritative parents are high on authority, reasoning, fairness, and love. The authoritative parent “explains reasons behind demands, encourages give and take, and sets standards and enforces them firmly but does not regard self as infallible.” Baumrind finds that at all age levels, the most self-confident and socially responsible children have authoritative parents.
To establish an authoritative parenting style, we should have a zero tolerance policy for disrespectful speech and behavior. When kids engage in disrespectful back-talk, they need immediate corrective feedback (“What is your tone of voice?”, “You are not allowed to speak to me in that way, even if you’re upset.”). Allowing our children to speak to us disrespectfully will quickly erode their respect for our moral authority, our rules, our example, and our teaching.
3. Love Children
When kids feel loved, they become attached to us. That attachment makes them receptive to our guidance.
One-on-one time. We need emotionally intimate time to keep any relationship strong and growing. To protect one-on- one time with our children, we should plan it. I know a school superintendent, a father of four, who can show you in his appointment book which child he’ll be spending the coming Saturday afternoon with. “If I didn’t schedule that time,” he says, “it wouldn’t happen.”
Love as communication. Good communication doesn’t happen automatically. We often need to do something deliberate to bring about a meaningful exchange of thoughts and experiences. When our older son Mark was 13, I became frustrated with the fact that our exchanges typically consisted of my asking questions and his giving monosyllabic answers. (“How was school?” “Fine.” “How’d the game go?” “Great.”) One day, in exasperation, I said: “It would be great if you asked me a question.”
He said, “Okay, Dad, how are your courses going this semester?” It was the first time I ever talked to him about my teaching. After that, even if we had only five minutes in the car, we’d do “back-and-forth questions”: I’d ask him one (e.g., “What was the best part and the worst part of your day?”), he’d ask me one (often the same question), and so on. It became a family tradition.
Love as sacrifice. About a million children see their parents divorce each year. Marriages fail for many reasons, including violence, alcoholism, and infidelity. Researcher Judith Wallerstein’s book, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce (2000), documents the often lasting repercussions of family breakdown for both kids and adults. Given such evidence, both secular and religious marriage counselors are now urging married couples having problems to do everything possible to try to save their marriage.
4. Teach by Example
Teaching by example goes beyond treating our children with love and respect. It has to do with how we treat each other as spouses and how we treat and talk about others outside the family — relatives, friends, neighbors, and teachers. These days, the most important example we set may be the stands we take — especially stands that are unpopular with our children or at odds with what other parents are permitting. What do we prohibit? Violent video games? TV shows and movies that contain sex, violence, or foul language? All forms of pornography? Immodest dress? Parties where there’s drinking? Do our kids know where we stand on the great moral issues of the day — respect for life, war and peace, threats to the environment, the plight of the poor? Stands like these define our values.
5. Manage the Moral Environment
How should we regulate kids’ use of media — TV, movies, music, video games, and the Internet? The basic rule: The use of media in the home is a privilege, not a right. Exercise of that privilege requires parental permission and presence. We should also thoughtfully explain our moral objections to something rather than simply forbidding it.
Today’s moral environment also requires more vigilant supervision of our children. The research report Building a Better Teenager ( finds that “handson” parents — those who know about their children’s activities, friends, and behaviors and monitor them in age-appropriate ways — have teens with lower rates of sexual activity and drug and alcohol use.
We should also expose our children to what is noble and heroic. Somewhere in the evening paper there’s at least one example of integrity, courage, or compassion. The website is a source of films that offer positive role models and matter for moral discussion. Books That Build Character by William Kilpatrick provides an excellent annotated bibliography of more than 300 books appropriate for different age levels.
6. Use Direct Teaching to Form Habits and Conscience
7 Ethical Tests
The Golden Rule (reversibility) test:
Would I want people to do this to me?
The what-if-everybody-did-this test:
Would I like it if everyone else acted this way?
The parents test:
How would my parents feel if they found out I did this?
The religion test:
Does this go against what my religious faith teaches?
The conscience test:
Will I feel guilty afterwards?
The consequences test:
Might this have bad consequences, now or in the future?
The front-page test:
How would I feel if my action were reported on the front page of my hometown paper?
We need to practice what we preach, but we also need to preach what we practice. Direct moral teaching helps to develop a child’s habits and conscience. “Pick up your toys.” “Say please and thank you.” “Don’t interrupt.” “Look at a person who’s speaking to you.” Hundreds of teachings like these communicate to children, “This is how we behave,” “This is how we live.”
Direct teaching includes explaining why some things are right and others wrong. Why is it wrong to lie? Because lying destroys trust. Why is it wrong to cheat? Because cheating is a lie — it deceives another person. This kind of moral reasoning helps children develop a conscience that will guide them when we’re not around. Developing our kids’ decision-making skills also means teaching them certain “ethical tests” they can use to evaluate any given behavior. (See side bar.)
Finally, direct teaching can also take the form of guiding our children to a good book, article, or pamphlet. A Canadian mother told me she was at a loss for words when her 16-year-old daughter Lisa disclosed that she and her boyfriend were thinking of having sex. When the mother said, “But sex is meant for love,” Lisa replied, “But we do love each other, and this is how we want to express it.” To help a teenager reflect on the meaning of love, a parent could offer a pamphlet such as Love Waits. It reads, in part:
Love is patient; love is kind. Love wants what is best for another person. Love will never cross the line between what’s right and wrong. It’s wrong to put one another in danger of having to deal with hard choices, choices that could change your lives forever. Having sex before marriage may feel right for the moment. But the possible costs of an unexpected pregnancy, abortion, and sexually transmitted disease — as well as the deep hurts that can come from a broken relationship — outweigh the feelings of the moment. If you are getting to know someone — or are in a relationship — remember: If it’s love, love waits.
7. Discipline Wisely
Disciplining wisely means setting expectations, holding kids accountable to them, and responding to their lapses in a way that both teaches what’s right and motivates the child to do what’s right. This means discipline should be clear and firm but not harsh.
Sometimes a disciplinary consequence is needed to help kids realize the seriousness of what they’ve done and motivate them not to do it again. In imposing consequences, however, many parents come down too hard in a moment of anger (“You’re grounded for a week!”) and end up going back on what they said. A better approach is to ask a child, “What do you think is a fair consequence for what you did?” Together the parent and child can then agree on a consequence that will help change behavior.
Restitution is also important: When you do something wrong, you should do something right to make up for it. Restitution is restorative. We should teach our kids to ask: “What can I do to make up for what I did?”
8. Solve Conflicts Fairly
Fairness Agreement
If Mom has promised to do something with us, she will tell the person she is busy and will call back later.
We will make a list of things to do while Mom is on the phone.
Mom will try to make her calls shorter.
If Mom has to be on the phone for a longer time, she will tell us, and we will behave.
Mom, Phillip, & Ben
Conflicts provide important opportunities to foster character development. A fairness approach can be used to solve a wide range of family conflicts. It has three parts: (1) achieving mutual understanding; (2) arriving at a fair, agreed upon solution to the problem; and (3) holding a follow-up meeting to evaluate how the solution is working. One mom used the fairness approach with her sons Phillip (7) and Ben (5) to address the problem of the kids acting badly when she was on the phone. “The more we talked,” the mother says, “the more I understood their feelings of rejection when I’m on the phone for a long time. I explained that with working and going to school, this is often my only way of keeping in touch with friends.” Once they understood each other’s feelings, the mother, Phillip, and Ben were able to brainstorm solutions. They worked out a Fairness Agreement (See side bar), which they all signed and posted. Two days later, Mom and the boys held a follow-up meeting. The mother reports: “We agreed we had stuck to our plan. The kids played together or did things independently when I was on the phone. I made calls shorter. There has been much less hassling about this problem.”
9. Provide Opportunities to Practice the Virtues
Virtues develop through practice. We don’t develop character in kids simply by talking about it; they need real responsibilities in family life. A mother of three sons (ages 2, 4, and 6) says: “The rule in our house is that you get a chore for each year of your age. Our boys are all very proud of what they do.” Children should not be paid for these chores; such jobs are the way they contribute to the family.
10. Foster Spiritual Development
“Religious Involvement and Children’s Well-Being” ( reports that young people who frequently attend religious services and say their faith is important to them exhibit higher levels of altruism and lower levels of drug and alcohol use and sexual activity. It is certainly possible to be an ethical person without being religious, and having religious faith by no means guarantees that a person will be good. But for many persons, religion gives life a higher meaning and an ultimate reason for leading a moral life. If we are not ourselves religious, we must nevertheless help our children to develop a spiritual vision that address life’s largest questions: What is the meaning of life? What is the purpose of my life? What leads to authentic happiness?
Kids will make mistakes growing up, just as we did. That said, it’s our job as parents to make the most of the many opportunities we have to help our children become persons of character.







Stop Enabling Your Overly Dependent Adult Child
Learning how to sidestep guilt and be a positive influence for your adult child.


You see your son’s phone number (for the line you are paying for) come up on your Caller ID. It is your day off from work and you planned to decompress. But it is, after all, your child, and you love him, so you accept the call. As you hear his voice, you have conflicting thoughts including, “What the heck is it now?” immediately followed by your guilt for being wary of, and anxious about, what your son is seeking.

Your son goes on a twenty-minute rant about how his former boss was a jerk and that he still can’t find another job. He mentions that he has no money for his car payment. You start to explain that you have financial pressures too and he immediately says, “Fine, don’t worry about me!”  You then say, “Only this time” but you know your words have a hollow ring, since you’ve said this so many times before. So, with mixed emotions, you agree to go by his apartment later to “loan” him money to pay his rent. As usual, he promises to pay you back, but you know that will never happen. You think about how this chaos is unsustainable (your son is only twenty nine years old) and wonder when he will ever learn to stand on his own two feet.

Do You Enable?
Enabling, is fixing problems for others and doing so in a way that interferes with growth and responsibility. Do you create an enabling dynamic for your adult child? If he, for example, buys a new audio system for his car instead of paying rent this would result in a consequence of losing an apartment. An enabler rushes in and removes the consequence, giving the adult child no reason or opportunity to learn a valuable lesson.

Helping Your Adult Child Without Enabling
Does helping your adult child tend to become a pattern of unhealthy rescuing? If you try to “save” your adult child every time he or she is in trouble, you may be making things worse in the long run. Do you struggle with knowing where to draw that fine (or not so fine) line between letting him learn how to stand on his own two feet and bailing him out? Parents, for sure, need to be thoughtful about how to assist their adult children without enabling them.
Adult children who remain overly dependent on their parents often are allowed to get into this situation because their parents enable them, as discussed above. Perhaps this relationship dynamic stems from parents who want to be needed. Setting boundaries with your adult child can sometimes be the best thing to do, even when it is hard to say, “I am here to listen and here’s what I can offer, but I also think you will feel better about yourself if you figure this out on your own.”
Whether you’ve got a 35 year old daughter who keeps asking for money while falsely claiming she will pay you back, or a 25 year old son who just can’t keep a job, adult children who behave immaturely can be stressful. I have seen many sad stories in my office of families with children over age 21 (in one case age 44!) who still are overly dependent on their parents. It can be very challenging for parents to set limits with adult children whom have become overly dependent. The parents often feel drained and emotionally depleted. They want their child to be happy on his own, yet they live in fear of not doing enough to help their child get there. This is by no means an easy situation!
In some cases these adult children may have significant mental health issues, including addictions, which need to be addressed. At the same time, mental health treatment does not have to be mutually exclusive from the adult child contributing to their recovery in any way they can. Too many times, however, I see parents overly rescuing their children from their problems. While it may feel good for parents to do this, the implicit (or even explicit) message to the child is, “You’re not competent to make it on your own.” Parents in this situation can help themselves to be mindful of enabling their child by being carefully considering the following questions:
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• Does your child now act entitled to, and demand, things you once enjoyed giving—car privileges, gifts, perks at home, or rent money?
• Does it feel like you are living from crisis to crisis with your adult chld?
• Do you sacrifice too much to meet your adult child’s needs?
• Are you afraid of hurting your child?
• Are you feeling burdened, used, resentful, or burnt out?
Encouraging Them To LIve In Their Own Skin—Skin That’s Also in The Game
As children either graduate or quit school, they need to increasingly have “skin in the game” and strive toward being self-sufficient. This does not mean parents should abruptly put their adult child on the street. At the same time, the adult child needs to “own” his or her goals and plans to become self-reliant.
Sometimes, crises occur that send children back home such as a bad breakup, problems at college, or health issues. This is acceptable as long as there is a plan in place for the adult child to become independent.
Try not to be adversarial as you encourage your child to become more independent. The goal is to be supportive and understanding with a collaborative mindset. Be calm, firm, and non-controlling in your demeanor as you express these guiding expectations below to motivate your adult child toward healthy independence:
1. Encourage working children to contribute part of their pay for room and board.
2. Don’t indiscriminately give money. Providing spending money should be contingent on children’s efforts toward independence.





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Preteens: Positive Parenting Your 10-12 Year Old

Your game plan for the tween years, when your son or daughter isn’t quite a teen yet — but is definitely on the way out of childhood.

The First Cell Phone
Many kids get their first cell phone as they hit the preteen years, because they start to spend more time away from home. That first cell phone needs to come with written rules and responsibilities in the form of a signed contract, so your child learns how to handle it responsibly. If you ask your kids what they think the rules should be, and negotiate until you’re happy, they will “own” those rules. Over the years, my teens have developed these rules for themselves.

Staying Close to Your Tween Daughter
The bad news is that your tween’s developing body is flooded by hormones, her need to discover herself and her place in the world takes precedence over the other things she values (like her family and schoolwork), and she probably can’t acknowledge how much she still loves and needs you.  The good news is that if you can accept this new situation and adjust your parenting accordingly…

Positive Discipline with Your Preteen/Tween
“Because I say so!” stops working with tweens.  Your best strategy is a strong relationship, clear limits, and lots of empathy. Here’s how.



How to Encourage Children to Get Good Grades



All parents want their children to do well in school. Whether our own school experiences were positive, neutral, or negative, we want our children to succeed in school and life and often are willing to do anything to support that goal. A question many parents wonder about, though, is how much support we should give our children to earn good grades. Do we help with homework? Do we encourage good grades with rewards?
How to Help Kids Get Better Grades
Have high but realistic expectations. We should always hold high but realistic expectations for our children. Let your kids know that you think they are smart and capable and provide assistance as needed with homework and projects. But don’t go overboard with your expectations. Having high expectations is important, but having too high expectations can put unnecessary pressure on your child and that is not usually helpful.
Provide homework help. Creating homework space and offering help is a good thing. Sometimes all that is needed with homework help is to listen while your child thinks through a project. Showing your interest in and of itself is helpful. You can also ask open-ended questions (like “What do you think?”) to help the process along, but not give the answers. Asking open-ended questions works even after the content of your child’s homework exceeds what you remember from school.
Encouragement over praise. There has been a lot of discussion recently about praise vs. encouragement. Praise (“good job” and “well done”) is less helpful than descriptive phrases that offer encouragement (“These last few months you have been really consistent about doing your homework each night and it shows in these good grades.”). Specific encouragement as part of positive parenting is helpful because you are telling your child exactly what he did that was beneficial. He is more likely to remember your specific encouragement than a generic “good job.”
Refrain from rewards if your child is intrinsically motivated. Most of us want our children to be intrinsically motivated – in other words, we want our children to want to earn good grades and to work without verbal recognition or tangible rewards. By the time they start school, many children are intrinsically motivated and our job is to help them maintain this quality. A powerful way to encourage a child’s motivation is for parents to model working towards a goal, whether it be cleaning the kitchen or completing a challenging project at work. If a child is intrinsically motivated and he or she is offered tangible rewards for good grades, that child will likely come to rely on the rewards and may, in the future, only get good grades if a reward is present. So rewards are not needed if your child is intrinsically motivated and may even have a negative outcome.
Tips on Offering Tangible Rewards for Good Grades
Offering tangible rewards (like money, a toy, new boots, etc.) tend to make your child dependent on the reward to achieve good grades in the future. Your positive words can mean more. However, if you are already offering rewards or are trying to build your child’s motivation, here are a few things to consider:
You might try saying that this reward is only for this one time so that you don’t set a precedent for all good grades in the future. Your child may still say, “but last time, I got…” but you know you are being true to your agreement.
Be specific about your expectations when it comes to rewarding good grades. “If you get three A’s, you will get…”
You must follow through on what you agreed to. If your child doesn’t earn the grades agreed to, she doesn’t get the reward.
Children may compare their reward to their friend’s reward (“I only got $1, but Emily’s mother gave her $5 for good grades.”). Be prepared with a response such as, “Different families make different choices about rewards for good grades.”
An alternative to tangible rewards for good grades is that your child could earn time with you to do an activity of your child’s choice. Often this is the best reward possible. The challenge here is that earning good grades shouldn’t be the only time your child gets individual time to do a special activity with you. This should happen on an ongoing basis.
So how do you decide what is best when it comes to encouraging good grades and doing well in school? A few things to remember are:
If your child is intrinsically motivated already, rewards are not necessary and may even have a negative impact.
Save tangible rewards only if needed or for special circumstances and be clear that this is a one-time practice to bring their grades up.
Consider offering special time with you as an alternative to a tangible reward.
Consistently offer encouragement for your child’s efforts. This should happen regularly.
Each family has to decide what works best for them with reward systems. Your decisions may be different than your neighbors and others in your extended family. Taking time to think through how you want to handle this area will be important in the event that questions from your child or others arise.





5 Ways to Motivate Your Child for School


Motivating your child for school is not always an easy task, and your child may never be as enthusiastic about school as you would like, but there are some things you can do to get your child to at least show some interest in their education.

1. Ask Questions and Be Enthusiastic
Getting your teen motivated for school may be as simple as showing your interest in what they do during the day beyond what they learned in school. Asking your child questions about school, teachers, friends and activities may elicit responses that reveal enthusiasm about some aspect of going to school. Hearing you have an interest in what they have done during the day may be all the motivation your child needs.
Also ask questions to find out what your teen likes and dislikes about school. There may be something going on at school that is causing your child to be unmotivated. It may be a teacher who is giving them a hard time or a fall-out with a friend. If you are able to uncover the problem and help your unmotivated teen overcome it, your child may be more eager to go to school. Finding out your kid’s likes also goes a long way toward motivating them because you can encourage them to talk more about things they enjoy about school and get them excited in the process.
2. Get Them Involved in Activities
Kids may find school boring simply because they haven’t become involved with an activity they like. Most schools offer a variety of interesting groups and activities to get involved with. Talk to your kids to find out if they are interested in getting involved with the student newspaper, joining the lacrosse team or becoming part of a volunteer organization. Finding just one activity that gets your child excited may be all that’s needed to get them jumping out of bed and ready for school in the morning.
If there is nothing offered by the school that sparks your child’s interest, encourage them to find an outside activity. There are plenty of sports and volunteer opportunities in your neighborhood, some of which can be applied to school credit. The key is getting your child involved in something that interests them because that enthusiasm will spread to everything they do.
3. Teach Them the Benefits of Education
There is no doubt that your kids know they need to complete their education. They just may not realize why. Take time to explain to your children the benefits of getting an education and how that will affect their future. Describe the different careers that will be available to them when they are educated versus when they are not, and the different salaries they can earn. A reality check can do wonders for motivation.
If, in doing this, your children show an interest in a specific career path, encourage them to pursue it during high school. If your child is interested in becoming a nurse, they can take extra classes in biology. If it is architecture that your child wants to pursue, sign them up for more art and math classes. Not only will this get your child thinking about career options, it will get them excited about learning something new every day.
4. Celebrate Achievements
Letting your child know you are proud of what they accomplish at school can be a huge motivator. Even if it is just completing a routine paper or finishing finals, reward your child for accomplishments, big or small. Treat them to a movie or ice cream, or give them a reprieve from chores for the week. These gestures help children realize that you are proud of their efforts.
5. Set Realistic Goals for Your Child
Getting motivated can be difficult for children if the pressure on them to do well is too much. Your child will not be as interested in school if they know you expect them to get straight A’s, read extra books and be the star player on the basketball team. While it is fine to set high standards for your child, the goals should be realistic.
Finding a way to get your children motivated for school may take some time depending on how willing they are to open up to you. But it will be worth it when you see your child actually try to rush you out the door in the morning so they are not late for class.




Kids – Embrace Your Imagination



Are your kids ‘boooored’? 39 ways to cure the summer blahs


At this stage of the summer, an unmistakable sense of weariness can set in — for parents. After all, mere mortals can only handle hearing the phrase “I’m bored!” so many times.

But keep your chins up, moms and dads: A healthy dose of boredom can yield all sorts of unexpected benefits for your kids. As part of our “Summer Fun” writing challenge, TODAY Parenting Team contributors have been sharing ideas for creating perfectly imperfect summer memories — and many have been weighing in on why their kids’ boredom isn’t a bad thing at all. On the contrary, they explain why it’s beneficial. We’ve compiled 39 of their insights here.
Please feel free to join in this ongoing conversation by becoming a member of our TODAY Parenting Team, and stay connected to TODAY Parents updates on our Facebook page. If you have your own ideas for how to tackle the summer months with kids, please let us know. We want to hear from you!
In the meantime, check out these ideas and observations about summertime boredom from the TODAY Parenting Team:

“Being of permanently exhausted mind and a tired body, I do solemnly swear… that I will let you do fun, messy stuff even though it drives me crazy. I will let you play in the mud, bake cookies, try elaborate crafts, run in the sprinklers, and do science experiments. You are growing up so fast and I know there’s not much more time left. And Lord knows how many times I said no to the Play-Doh.”
2. Boredom can spark creativity. (Leah Singer)
“A few summers ago, I made a bold move. I decided not to fill the entire summer with daily camps and activities for my daughter, Sophie, who was 5 years old at the time. I was going to take a chance (on both our sanity) and see what would happen without every minute being scheduled. I truly believe that it’s okay for children to be bored. In fact, amazing things unfold when kids are — gasp — left to use their imagination and think on their own. In her unstructured summer time, Sophie created several things she may not have had she not been bored. They included:
“A fort made with blankets and pillows, a stack of books, and ‘air conditioning’ in the form of a fan. Spontaneous backyard art… A completely homemade puppet show theater and finger puppets, which Sophie later used to give me a show… Making a ‘museum’ out of playroom toys.… Creating decorations from craft supplies…. Outside mud kitchen play.”

Courtesy of Leah Singer
Mom Leah Singer was astonished by everything her daughter Sophie created when given some genuine down time.

3. Bored kids can become self-sufficient adults — so don’t feel guilty! (Rachel Macy Stafford)
“It had been a far cry from the fun-loving summer I envisioned we’d have. Guilt wanted me to think about everything my children missed due to the temporary challenging situation I faced. But through new eyes, I saw something guilt didn’t want me to see — things that probably wouldn’t have happened without the freedom and the opportunity for my children to do for themselves. …
“I saw kids who got quite good at making beds … kids who attempted and failed at French macarons, but had fun trying … kids who finally caught on to hanging up wet towels after several unsuccessful years … kids who became expert laundry folders … kids who could order and pay for their food without adult assistance … kids who fixed a delicious hot lunch and cleaned up afterwards … kids who could entertain themselves for hours with a little dish soap and a slip-and-slide.”

To read more go to link above:



Swim Safely


Splashing, wading, and paddling — it must mean a great day in the water. Playing at the beach, at a water park, by a lake, or in a pool can be a real treat on a hot day.
Swimming is a lot of fun, but drowning is a real danger. Even kids who know how to swim can drown, so let’s find out how to stay safe in the water.
Why Is It Important to Be Safe in the Water?
Fish are able to live and breathe in water, but people need air to breathe. People drown when too much water gets into their lungs. When that happens, the lungs can’t put oxygen in the blood. Then, too little oxygen gets to the brain and the rest of the body.
Drowning is the second most common cause of death from injuries among kids under the age of 14. Drowning can happen so fast — sometimes in less than 2 minutes after a person’s head goes under the water. That leaves very little time for someone to help.
Many drownings and near-drownings happen when a kid accidentally falls into a swimming pool. But accidents can happen anywhere — at someone’s home or even at your own house, and that’s why you need to know how to be safe around water.
Swimming Pools
Pools are awesome! What could be better than a dip in the pool and fun in the sun? But it’s important to remember that a pool’s sides and bottom are usually made of concrete, a rock-hard material. A slip or fall could be painful and dangerous.
Have you seen those big numbers painted on the side of the pool? Those are called depth markers — they tell you how deep the water is at that point. You should always look before you jump into a pool. Also, only dive off the diving board. Never dive off the side of the pool unless an adult says that the water is deep enough. The water may be shallower than you think. If you hit the bottom . . . ouch! You might get knocked out or you could hurt your neck very badly.
Test the pool’s water temperature before you plunge in. Cold water can shock your body and make your blood pressure and heart rate go up. You might open your mouth to yell and accidentally breathe in some water. Cold water also can slow your muscles, making it hard to swim.
Other rules to follow:
Always have an adult watch you when you are in the pool — even in your own backyard. Never go in the pool if there is no adult around. Always call an adult or lifeguard if there is an emergency.
Gates are around pools for a reason — to keep kids away from the water when there isn’t a lifeguard or adult around to watch them. Never go through any pool gates when they are closed. Stay safe and stay out!
Always obey pool rules.
Swim with a buddy.
If you’re learning to swim, ask your mom or dad to make sure your flotation devices are Coast Guard-approved.
Walk slowly in the pool area. Don’t run.
Swim at a depth that is safe for you. If you’re just learning to swim, stay in the shallow end.
Don’t push or jump on others. You could accidentally hurt someone or yourself.
Toys to help you float come in many shapes and sizes (an inner tube, air mattress, or beach ball, for example). Although they’re fun and can help you while you learn to swim, what they can’t do is save a life. They’re toys that can lose air or float away.
Don’t chew gum or eat while you swim — you could choke.

Lakes and Ponds
Lots of kids swim in streams, lakes, or ponds. Take extra care when swimming in these beautiful places. You can’t always see the bottom of the lake or pond, so you don’t always know the depth of the water. This is another reason to always swim with an adult.
Although the fish swimming around won’t hurt you, some ponds and lakes may hide jagged rocks, broken bottles, or trash. Wear something to protect your feet. Also, watch out for weeds and grass, which can trap even a good swimmer. If you panic and try to yank yourself free, you may get even more tangled. Instead, shake and pull your arms and legs slowly to work yourself loose and call for an adult’s help.
If you’re going out on a boat, always wear a life jacket. (Again, the life jacket should be Coast Guard-approved.) Even if you are a good swimmer, something could cause the boat to tip over and you could be trapped underneath.

It’s hard to resist a day on the beach, but you’ll need to know some safety rules for swimming in the ocean. Swimming in the ocean is trickier than the pool because of waves and currents, which can change. When you first get to the beach, check with the lifeguard to find out how strong the waves are. Some places fly flags or write notes on a chalkboard to give swimmers an idea of what conditions are like.
Waves can knock you down or push you to the ocean floor. Stay close to an adult or get out of the water when the waves get rough. People also get into trouble when they start to panic or become too tired to swim. It’s important to know your limits, so if you start feeling tired, get out of the water and rest for a while.
In some places, swimmers may run into strong undertows or ocean currents. Rip currents (also called riptides) are so strong that they can carry swimmers away from shore before they know what’s happening. If you are caught in a current, swim parallel to the shore (alongside the shore) rather than toward the shore until the water stops pulling you, then swim diagonally back to shore. If you can’t get back to the beach, tread water and wave for a lifeguard’s help. In this situation, it’s really important to stay calm and not panic.
You probably won’t see any sharks (although a friendly dolphin may splash by) where you are swimming. But you might run into some jellyfish or Portuguese man-of-wars. These umbrella-shaped, nearly clear animals can grow to be as large as several feet in diameter! They are often found floating near the shore. Getting stung is no fun — it can hurt and blister your skin. If you get stung, tell an adult as soon as possible.
Other rules to follow:
Never swim alone!
Always swim where a lifeguard can see you and in areas that are marked for swimmers to use.
Wear protective footwear if surfaces are rough or rocky.
Don’t swim out too far.
Never pretend to be drowning. The lifeguard may take you seriously.
Don’t swim close to piers — those big, wooden structures that jut out into the water. If the water moves suddenly, you could hit a piling or a rock.
Store drinks in plastic containers at the beach — broken glass bottles and bare feet don’t mix.
Face the waves, instead of turning your back on them. Then you’ll know what’s coming.

For more information go to the link above.



Kids Need Adventure. Parents Need to Teach Them How


The value of outdoor adventures cannot be underestimated
Well I think yes. The value of outdoor adventures, little or large cannot be underestimated. And it’s not just about thrills and spills or building a bank of rose tinted memories of childhood. Whether building a tree house, camping and stargazing, fishing on the old industrial canal, or exploring the local environment on foot or by bike; active adventures bring real health and developmental benefits. When children are helped and allowed to experience risk, even in a semi-controlled way, it helps develop their ability to deal with it and builds self-confidence. It encourages them to think for themselves and develops their resilience. It readies them for dealing with the risks and uncertainties that are part of the big wide world. Who doesn’t want active, healthy, resilient, confident, independent children? And don’t we need people like that in the world?

But there’s a bigger issue too. Child advocacy expert Richard Louv calls it “nature deficit disorder” and these stats sort of bear him out. According to Louv too many kids in today’s ‘wired generation’ live in a personal world that’s disassociated from nature. They may get to read Frozen Planet, watch Ray Mears World of Survival or play I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, but that doesn’t give them direct, first-hand experience of nature and the ways of the natural world. And, according to Louv, this lack of nature in their lives has direct impacts for kids and society as we see in the current rates of obesity, depression and attention disorder. In his book, ‘Last Child in the Woods’, Louv makes a compelling research based case that suggests “direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and for the physical and emotional health of children and adults.” And as we sit contemplating all manner of current and future environmental crises, we have to ask, how can we expect kids that don’t know nature to respect or care for it? And what is the future environmental cost for tomorrow’s kids of today’s epidemic of nature deficit disorder?

Is it parents not kids that are the problem?
Perhaps kids aren’t the problem; perhaps as parents we need to own up and acknowledge our part here. Remember, 85% of kids say they want more adventure, 85% of parents think that’s a good idea, but it doesn’t really happen much. Why? Because sometimes as parents we don’t let them. I know I don’t. Why? Because it’s part of my job to look after them, keep them safe and out of trouble. But isn’t it also my job to help them develop the skills and judgement they need to be safe when I’m not around, or when they escape the nest (with or without me knowing).

It’s not just kids that need skills to adventure safely. We parents need them too. We need the skills and confidence to lead our own mini family adventures, to show kids how to adventure and explore, and to give them the skills and know-how they need to be safe when they’re out and about on their own.




Free Things to Do in Every State


Staying on a budget doesn’t mean you have to stay home watching Netflix. There are plenty of free activities in every state that take you beyond a picnic and duck-watching at your local park.

Free museums, concerts, hikes and attractions make it easy to find weekend activities that won’t blow the monthly budget. Become a pro at ferreting out free things to do, or build your next vacation around things to do on the cheap.

Most places can be found on the state sites by city or you can go to the above website and see things by state.




Teach Your Kids Work Ethic


Children, even as young as 3 or 4, can do such chores as feeding the pet, watering plants, or emptying the dishwasher. Parents shouldn’t feel they are burdening kids or robbing them of playtime. Children want to contribute and do things that make them feel valuable. Chores plant the idea that service is expected in the family. If we don’t invite them to help, we miss an opportunity. They want to contribute.

Make Work Fun
If parents can tell, or show, kids how work contributes to the family’s well-being, children will be more positive about chores. Some parents make a to-do list of daily or weekly household jobs and post it on the refrigerator, offering kids tasks to choose from (putting tasks in a job jar and letting kids pull from the jar also works). Do what works, but don’t let the kids opt out. Giving kids a choice helps make work more tolerable, but adding incentives can sometimes make work actually fun. Contests — say, for Fastest Room-Cleaner or Best Vacuumer — get kids more involved, as do rewards. Going out to a favorite park or restaurant, renting a movie, or inviting friends for sleepovers are just a few ways that parents can reward hard work.
Let Them Learn from Failure
Don’t expect kids to always do their tasks well. What’s important is the effort. Resist the urge to step in and take over. If the child fails to water the plant, let it wilt or die. If teenagers have trouble on a job — or even get fired — because they fail to show up on time or do the job correctly, don’t make excuses for them. Let them learn that their actions or inactions have consequences. Talk about what happened and ask them what they can do to keep from repeating their mistake. Don’t rub it in, but don’t let them shrug off what happened either.
Talk About the “Why” of Work
As children get older, it’s important for parents to discuss the meaning and purpose of work. This is the time to make it clear that jobs are not done for drudgery’s sake but to create value, make products, or serve people or even a greater good. A young person needs to learn that there is a purpose to all of this — that doing a job well makes you a better person and enhances character and self-esteem. One way parents can start this discussion with their kids is by sharing their own work experiences — good and bad — and talk about the lessons they learned and how they were shaped by those experiences.
Teach Patience
In real life, work isn’t always fun — sometimes the boss isn’t fair, customers are rude, and hours at work seem to drag by. Expect teens to complain about their jobs. Let them vent — in fact, encourage it. After all, adults sometimes gripe about their jobs too. But where kids are concerned, parents should be ready to offer encouragement.
Model the Ethic
Kids learn good work habits when their parents walk the walk. That means showing kids that work is important and that it’s part of a balanced life. For example, the three children in the Judge family in Skaneateles, New York, have seen their parents make such choices — doing extra work to get ahead and choosing family over a job. Although Sheila and Joe are now a full-time working couple, Sheila left a job two years ago because it interfered with family life. Joe recently became a principal at a middle school after taking college night classes for nearly 10 years to earn a graduate degree and certification to become an administrator. “We want them to put work in perspective,” Sheila says. “It’s not about earning a lot of money and buying things. It’s about improving your life and doing something you like.”




Strong-Willed Child Won’t Stay in Bed


How can we get our defiant toddler to lie down and go to sleep at night? He’s a handful at any time and under any circumstances, but nothing can top his uncooperative behavior at bedtime. No matter how many times we put him to bed, he gets up again and again. I feel as if I’m losing my mind for lack of sleep. What can we do about this?
Battles at bedtime are not unusual when there is a strong-willed child in the house. In some cases this problem may even persist into the elementary years. The remedy is basically the same as that which we would prescribe in any conflict with a strong-willed child: firm, loving and persevering discipline. The key to winning this confrontation is not to punish harder but to conquer a child’s will by outlasting him, even if that process takes two or three hours.

In dealing with a situation of this kind, it’s important to take appropriate action and stick with it until the undesirable behavior has been eliminated. Success depends on your ability to establish meaningful consequences and to apply them consistently. Be sure to discuss these consequences ahead of time. Your child should understand what is and what is not acceptable before he is held accountable to keep the rules.
You might begin by saying something like, “We all have jobs and responsibilities in our family. Your job right now is to stay in bed and go to sleep.” Let your child know that if he fails to fulfill this responsibility, something unpleasant will happen. This could involve the removal of some privilege directly associated with the bedtime ritual or routine. For example, if his door is usually open or a night light is left burning in the hallway, make it clear that the door will be closed and the light turned off if he doesn’t stay in bed. If he is used to listening to music, looking at a picture book or cuddling a stuffed toy, take them away until he decides to comply with your wishes.
After putting your child to bed, you should be prepared to intercept him immediately if he gets up. It might be a good idea to take a book or some paperwork and sit just outside his door. If he comes out, take him back to bed and sit quietly with him. Talk calmly and firmly about the importance of staying there. Explain your concerns about safety in the house and why you can’t permit him to walk around while others are asleep. Say, “What we need right now is for you to stay in bed. What do you think we can do to make that happen?”
If he decides to climb out of bed a second time, repeat the process. Be firm but not angry or exasperated. Having drawn your boundaries, stay within them. Your goal is to outlast your child, no matter how long it takes. It’s a matter of simple endurance. Once the battle has been won, the child will usually live within the parameters established. If it is lost, the next conflict will be even more difficult.
Meanwhile, don’t forget to invest an equal amount of energy on the positive side of the ledger. Here, as in so many other areas, it’s important to stay vigilant and “catch your child being good.” When he has a good night, find some way to encourage him and praise him on his accomplishment. We’re not thinking here in terms of rewards, which can promote selfishness if offered in excess, but rather of family celebrations. You might, for example, place a glass jar in a prominent place and allow your child to put a marble in the jar every time he goes to bed without a fuss and sleeps for eight or nine hours at a stretch. Then, when the jar is full, you can celebrate by planning a family outing or devising a creative way to get involved in serving friends and neighbors as a parent-child team. Let your child choose a fun activity or pick a family he’d like to present with a batch of home-made cookies. This will give him the sense of control and self-determination that is so effective in moderating the behavior of strong-willed kids.
If you feel a need to discuss these ideas at greater length with a member of our staff, we’d like to encourage you to contact our Counseling Department for an over-the-phone consultation. Our counselors will be happy to discuss your questions with you. You can reach them Monday through Friday between 6:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Mountain time at 855-771-HELP (4357). The Family Help Center staff member who answers the phone will arrange for a licensed counselor to call you back. One of them will be in touch just as soon as they’re able.






What Makes Your Child “Tick”? Using Children’s Interests to Build Communication Skills


Have you ever been to a party and found yourself talking to someone with whom you have nothing in common? The conversation quickly goes downhill, with both of you feeling awkward and not having much to say. Conversely, chatting with someone who shares a common interest with you is easy and enjoyable. You don’t need to think about what to say next and you are motivated to share your ideas.
The same is true for children. Once we take a closer look at what captures children’s attention, and find ways to join them in their interests, we can interact with them in ways that build their communication skills. This premise is so important that the Center on Everyday Child Language Learning (CECLL) in the United States is dedicated to researching the effect of using children’s interests and everyday activities on their communication and language skills.

Why Use Children’s Interests to Build Communication?
Children learn more effectively when adults engage them in everyday activities that are based on their interests.
Many studies have shown that children learn more effectively when adults engage them in everyday activities that are based on their interests. Recently, researchers at the CECLL compared 41 studies (which included over 4000 children altogether) and found that children had better communication and language outcomes when their interests were included into everyday learning activities. This was true for both children with and without communication delays and disabilities [1]. The researchers explain that including children’s interests is more likely to:
motivate children to interact, and interact for longer
provide parents with more opportunities to promote their child’s communication
Research has also shown that [2]:
many of infants’ first words relate to specific, motivating situations and activities
toddlers and older preschoolers’ language learning is often tied to specific events and activities
The bottom line….when caregivers talk about children’s interests during motivating everyday activities, children are more likely to interact, pay attention, and learn new words.

How to Discover Your Child’s Interests
While you might know many of your child’s interests, taking a closer look might give you some new information. The first step in using a child’s interests to build communication is to observe his interests. In order to observe a child’s interests, you need to [3]:
be at his physical level – this might mean lying or sitting on the floor, or sitting across from your child in his high chair.
be face-to-face – so that you can see what your child is interested in.
wait – instead of starting up an interaction, stop and wait to see what your child is doing first. Abandon your own agenda and make your child’s interests your focus.
In order to gather information about your child’s interests, you should observe your child throughout the day in as many activities as possible. You can write down your child’s interests on a list, or fill out a checklist, such as the “Child Interests Activity Checklist“[4] developed by researchers at the CECLL. Thinking about the following questions can also help you identify your child’s interests [5]:
What makes your child smile and laugh?
What gets and keeps your child’s attention?
What gets your child excited?
What are your child’s favorite things to do?
What does your child work hard at doing?
What “brings out the best” in your child?
What gets your child to try new things?
What does your child choose to do most often?
As you start to gather information about your child’s interests, you may notice that his interests can be grouped into two types of interests [6]:
personal interests – these are a child’s favorite things, such as cars, water play, or music.
situational interests – these interests emerge when something about an activity, material, or person attracts a child’s attention or invites him to become involved. Situational interest often occurs when a situation is new, interesting, or unexpected.
If caregivers take advantage of motivating interests and situations, children will have more opportunities to learn to communicate.
Imagine a child who loves water. This child loves to play in the bathtub, run through the sprinkler in the backyard, play in the water table at preschool, and pretend to give her doll a bath. This child has a personal interest in water. Now imagine another child who is walking to school with his mother on a rainy day. Large puddles are forming on the sidewalk, and he begins to jump and splash in the puddles, laughing and showing his mother what big splashes he can make. This child has a situational interest in water which has emerged at that moment due to the puddles. If caregivers take advantage of these motivating interests and situations, children will have more opportunities to learn to communicate [6].

How to Use Children’s Interests to Promote Communication
Once you know your child’s interests, you can include them throughout the day to take advantage of all the opportunities for learning. Think about which interests [7]:
occur most often
fit easily into your family’s schedule
provide good opportunities for learning
For example, if your child likes cars, you might look at your daily routines and find that the following activities involve cars:
riding in the car each day on the way to daycare
going to the car wash
filling up the car with gas
reading books about cars
playing with cars during play time
Then, within each one of these activities, there will be many opportunities to use his interest in cars to have longer interactions and conversations. For example, while playing with cars, you can take turns pretending to fill them up with gas, sending them down a ramp, or putting passengers inside. Or when you go through the car wash together, you can talk about what is happening as your car moves along the conveyor belt. Think of all of the language you could model during just one interaction about cars!
Using a child’s interests and everyday activities provides so many more learning opportunities than are possible during a speech therapy session.
But always remember to follow your child’s lead – let him show you and tell you what interests him about cars. Don’t tell him what to do (e.g. “Now give my car some gas”) or ask questions that test his knowledge (“What color is your car?”). Rather, make a comment about what he’s doing or what he’s looking at, such as “That car doesn’t have any tires!” or “Wow, that car is fast!” He’ll enjoy the play more and will also learn more from this type of language.
The idea is provide your child with as many opportunities as possible throughout the day to communicate with you. Researchers at the CECLL point out that using a child’s interests and everyday activities at home provides so many more learning opportunities than are possible during a speech therapy session. For example:
Therapy twice per week accounts for only 2% of a young child’s total waking hours.
Preschoolers participate in about 50 different kinds of activities every day. This translates into about 100,000 learning opportunities each year, not counting the multiple learning opportunities that can happen within any single activity! [8]

Share Your Child’s Interests
If you are working with a speech language pathologist, it is very important to share information with him or her about your child’s interests and your everyday activities. Your speech language pathologist can provide you with ideas about how to incorporate your child’s interests and which strategies you can use when you interact during these motivating activities.
By figuring out what makes your child “tick”, you will be able to follow his lead and talk about his interests during everyday interactions and conversations. In this way, your child will be motivated to communicate with you, and you will find that you have more opportunities to help him learn vital communication skills.





Here are five ways nature can help your baby learn shapes.
1. Draw shapes in the sand or dirt. Next time you’re heading out for a walk to the park or playground (or even just lounging with baby on your own lawn), grab a stick along the way. When you get to a patch of dirt or sand, draw shapes in it with the stick and name each one as you go so your child associates that word with its corresponding shape. Another way to go? Sidewalk chalk, which you can use on your driveway or any other pavement.
2. Make shapes with stones, sticks, shells or anything else you find on the ground. This is a super easy way to teach a fast-moving baby shapes. Just make squares, circles, triangles, rectangles and more with sticks, stones, shells or other little things you pick up off the ground. All-natural, of course. Leave the bottle caps out of it!
3. Use things at the park to teach your baby shapes. It couldn’t get any simpler than this, but it’s a good way to get your child to retain what she’s learned. Hit the park or playground and point to various things outside as you go, naming the shape they are. For example, point to the sun and say “sun … circle” repeatedly so she gets it. Use a pine tree for the triangle, a puddle for the oval, the moon (if you can see it) for the crescent, and so on. Talk about a fun way to teach and learn shapes!
4. Use flowers and fruit to teach your child shapes. Flowers and fruit are “naturals” when it comes to teaching babies shapes. Apples, oranges, blueberries and countless others are circles, bananas are crescents, mangoes and kiwis are ovals, strawberries and watermelon wedges are triangles, etc. Perfect! And because there are often multiple shapes in a single flower, you can get a lot of mileage out of just one. Your little cutie pie will be fascinated!
5. Lie in the grass and look at the clouds together. Clouds are mesmerizing, aren’t they? Your child will be enthralled if you can get him to sit still long enough to gaze at them — and he can learn something in the process. Each time a cloud changes shape, tell him (or ask him, if he’s old enough) what it looks like. It’s a game that really sparks the imagination, and it could go on for hours!
And for those days (or nights) when letting nature be your guide just isn’t possible, you are invited to check out a great product called Tiggly Shapes.
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Co-Parenting Tips for Divorced Parents
Making Joint Custody Work After a Divorce or Separation


Co-parenting after a split is rarely easy, especially if you have a contentious relationship with your ex-partner. You may be concerned about your ex’s parenting abilities, stressed about child support or other financial issues, feel worn down by conflict, or think you’ll never be able to overcome all the resentments in your relationship. But co-parenting amicably with your ex can give your children the stability, security, and close relationships with both parents they need. For the sake of your kids’ well-being, it is possible for you to overcome co-parenting challenges and develop a cordial working relationship with your ex. With these tips, you can remain calm, stay consistent, and resolve conflicts to make joint custody work and enable your kids to thrive.
Why is co-parenting after divorce important for children?
Unless your family has faced serious issues such as domestic violence or substance abuse, co-parenting—having both parents play an active role in their children’s daily lives—is the best way to ensure all your kids’ needs are met and they are able to retain close relationships with both parents. Research suggests that the quality of the relationship between co-parents can also have a strong influence on the mental and emotional well-being of children, and the incidence of anxiety and depression. Of course, putting aside relationship issues, especially after an acrimonious split, to co-parent agreeably can be easier said than done.
Joint custody arrangements can be exhausting, infuriating, and fraught with stress. It can be extremely difficult to get past the painful history you may have with your ex and overcome built-up resentments. Making shared decisions, interacting with each another at drop-offs, or just speaking to a person you’d rather forget all about can seem like impossible tasks. Despite the many challenges, though, it is possible to develop an amicable working relationship with your ex for the sake of your children.
The key to successful co-parenting is to separate the personal relationship with your ex from the co-parenting relationship. It may be helpful to start thinking of your relationship with your ex as a completely new one—one that is entirely about the well-being of your children, and not about either of you. Your marriage may be over, but your family is not; doing what is best for your kids is your most important priority. The first step to being a mature, responsible co-parent is to always put your children’s needs ahead of your own.
Co-parenting is the best option for your children
Through your parenting partnership, your kids should recognize that they are more important than the conflict that ended your marriage—and understand that your love for them will prevail despite changing circumstances. Kids whose divorced parents have a cooperative relationship:
Feel secure. When confident of the love of both parents, kids adjust more quickly and easily to divorce and new living situations, and have better self-esteem.
Benefit from consistency. Co-parenting fosters similar rules, discipline, and rewards between households, so children know what to expect, and what’s expected of them.
Better understand problem solving. Children who see their parents continuing to work together are more likely to learn how to effectively and peacefully solve problems themselves.
Have a healthy example to follow. By cooperating with the other parent, you are establishing a life pattern your children can carry into the future to build and maintain stronger relationships.
Are mentally and emotionally healthier. Children exposed to conflict between co-parents are more likely to develop issues such as depression, anxiety, or ADHD.
Co-parenting for divorced parents tip 1: Set hurt and anger aside
Successful co-parenting means that your own emotions—any anger, resentment, or hurt—must take a back seat to the needs of your children. Admittedly, setting aside such strong feelings may be the hardest part of learning to work cooperatively with your ex, but it’s also perhaps the most vital. Co-parenting is not about your feelings, or those of your ex-spouse, but rather about your child’s happiness, stability, and future well-being.
Separating feelings from behavior
It’s okay to be hurt and angry, but your feelings don’t have to dictate your behavior. Instead, let what’s best for your kids—you working cooperatively with the other parent—motivate your actions.
Get your feelings out somewhere else. Never vent to your child. Friends, therapists, or even a loving pet can all make good listeners when you need to get negative feelings off your chest. Exercise can also be a healthy outlet for letting off steam.
Stay kid-focused. If you feel angry or resentful, try to remember why you need to act with purpose and grace: your child’s best interests are at stake. If your anger feels overwhelming, looking at a photograph of your child may help you calm down.
If you’re having difficulty managing your feelings…
HelpGuide’s free Emotional Intelligence Toolkit can help you manage your emotions, control troublesome thoughts, stay connected to what you feel, and quickly relieve stress.
Don’t put your children in the middle
You may never completely lose all of your resentment or bitterness about your break up, but what you can do is compartmentalize those feelings and remind yourself that they are your issues, not your child’s. Resolve to keep your issues with your ex away from your children.
Never use kids as messengers. When you use your children to convey messages to your co-parent, it puts them in the center of your conflict. The goal is to keep your child out of your relationship issues, so call or email your ex directly.
Keep your issues to yourself. Never say negative things about your ex to your children, or make them feel like they have to choose. Your child has a right to a relationship with their other parent that is free of your influence.
Tip 2: Improve communication with your co-parent
Peaceful, consistent, and purposeful communication with your ex is essential to the success of co-parenting—even though it may seem absolutely impossible. It all begins with your mindset. Think about communication with your ex as having the highest purpose: your child’s well-being. Before contact with your ex, ask yourself how your talk will affect your child, and resolve to conduct yourself with dignity. Make your child the focal point of every discussion you have with your ex-partner.
Remember that it isn’t always necessary to meet your ex in person—speaking over the phone or exchanging texts or emails is fine for the majority of conversations. The goal is to establish conflict-free communication, so see which type of contact works best for you. However you choose to communicate, the following methods can help you initiate and maintain effective communication:
Set a business-like tone. Approach the relationship with your ex as a business partnership where your “business” is your children’s well-being. Speak or write to your ex as you would a colleague—with cordiality, respect, and neutrality. Relax and talk slowly.
Make requests. Instead of making statements, which can be misinterpreted as demands, try framing as much as you can as requests. Requests can begin “Would you be willing to…?” or “Can we try…?”
Listen. Communicating with maturity starts with listening. Even if you end up disagreeing with the other parent, you should at least be able to convey to your ex that you’ve understood their point of view. And listening does not signify approval, so you won’t lose anything by allowing your ex to voice his or her opinions.
Show restraint. Keep in mind that communicating with one another is going to be necessary for the length of your children’s entire childhood—if not longer. You can train yourself to not overreact to your ex, and over time you can become numb to the buttons they try to push.
Commit to meeting/talking consistently. Though it may be extremely difficult in the early stages, frequent communication with your ex will convey the message to your children that you and your co-parent are a united front.
Keep conversations kid-focused. Never let a discussion with your ex-partner digress into a conversation about your needs or their needs; it should always be about your child’s needs only.
Relieving stress in the moment—no matter who you’re dealing with
It may seem impossible to stay calm when dealing with a difficult ex-spouse who’s hurt you in the past or has a real knack for pushing your buttons. But by practicing quick stress relief techniques, you can learn to stay in control when the pressure builds. See: Quick Stress Relief
Improving the relationship with your ex
If you’re truly ready to rebuild trust after a break up, be sincere about your efforts. Remember your children’s best interests as you move forward to improve your relationship.
Ask your ex’s opinion. This simple technique can jump-start positive communications between you. Take an issue that you don’t feel strongly about, and ask for your ex’s input, showing that you value their input.
Apologize. When you’re sorry about something, apologize sincerely—even if the incident happened a long time ago. Apologizing can be very powerful in moving your relationship away from being adversaries.
Chill out. If a special outing with your ex is going to cut into your time with your child by an hour, graciously let it be. Remember that it’s all about what is best for your child. Plus, when you show flexibility, your ex is more likely to be flexible with you.
Tip 3: Co-parent as a team
Parenting is full of decisions you’ll have to make with your ex, whether you like each another or not. Cooperating and communicating without blow-ups or bickering makes decision-making far easier on everybody. If you shoot for consistency, geniality, and teamwork with your co-parent, the details of child-rearing decisions tend to fall into place.
Aim for co-parenting consistency
It’s healthy for children to be exposed to different perspectives and to learn to be flexible, but they also need to know they’re living under the same basic set of expectations at each home. Aiming for consistency between your home and your ex’s avoids confusion for your children.
Rules. Rules don’t have to be exactly the same between two households, but if you and your ex-spouse establish generally consistent guidelines, your kids won’t have to bounce back and forth between two radically different disciplinary environments. Important lifestyle rules like homework issues, curfews, and off-limit activities should be followed in both households.
Discipline. Try to follow similar systems of consequences for broken rules, even if the infraction didn’t happen under your roof. So, if your kids have lost TV privileges while at your ex’s house, follow through with the restriction. The same can be done for rewarding good behavior.
Schedule. Where you can, aim for some consistency in your children’s schedules. Making meals, homework, and bedtimes similar can go a long way toward your child’s adjustment to having two homes.
Making important decisions as co-parents
Major decisions need to be made by both you and your ex. Being open, honest, and straightforward about important issues is crucial to both your relationship with your ex and your children’s well-being.
Medical needs. Whether you decide to designate one parent to communicate primarily with health care professionals or attend medical appointments together, keep one another in the loop.
Education. Be sure to let the school know about changes in your child’s living situation. Speak with your ex ahead of time about class schedules, extra-curricular activities, and parent-teacher conferences, and be polite to each other at school or sports events.
Financial issues. The cost of maintaining two separate households can strain your attempts to be effective co-parents. Set a realistic budget and keep accurate records for shared expenses. Be gracious if your ex provides opportunities for your children that you cannot provide.
Resolving disagreements
As you co-parent, you and your ex are bound to disagree over certain issues. Keep the following in mind as you try to reach a consensus.
Respect can go a long way. Simple manners should be the foundation for co-parenting. Being considerate and respectful includes letting your ex know about school events, being flexible about your schedule when possible, and taking their opinion seriously.
Keep talking. If you disagree about something important, you will need to continue communicating. Never discuss your differences of opinions with or in front of your child. If you still can’t agree, you may need to talk to a third party, like a therapist or mediator.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. If you disagree about important issues like a medical surgery or choice of school for your child, by all means keep the discussion going. But if you want your child in bed by 7:30 and your ex says 8:00, let it go and save your energy for the bigger issues.
Compromise. Yes, you will need to come around to your ex spouse’s point of view as often as he or she comes around to yours. It may not always be your first choice, but compromise allows you both to “win” and makes both of you more likely to be flexible in the future.
Tip 4: Make transitions and visitation easier
The actual move from one household to another, whether it happens every few days or just on weekends, can be a very hard time for children. Every reunion with one parent is also a separation with the other, each “hello” also a “goodbye.” While transitions are unavoidable, there are many things you can do to help make them easier on your children.
When your child leaves
As kids prepare to leave your house for your ex’s, try to stay positive and deliver them on time.
Help children anticipate change. Remind kids they’ll be leaving for the other parent’s house a day or two before the visit.
Pack in advance. Depending on their age, help children pack their bags well before they leave so that they don’t forget anything they’ll miss. Encourage packing familiar reminders like a special stuffed toy or photograph.
Always drop off—never pick up the child. It’s a good idea to avoid “taking” your child from the other parent so that you don’t risk interrupting or curtailing a special moment. Drop off your child at the other parent’s house instead.
When your child returns
The beginning of your child’s return to your home can be awkward or even rocky. To help your child adjust:
Keep things low-key. When children first enter your home, try to have some down time together—read a book or do some other quiet activity.
Double up. To make packing simpler and make kids feel more comfortable when they are at the other parent’s house, have kids keep certain basics—toothbrush, hairbrush, pajamas—at both houses.
Allow the child space. Children often need a little time to adjust to the transition. If they seem to need some space, do something else nearby. In time, things will get back to normal.
Establish a special routine. Play a game or serve the same special meal each time your child returns. Kids thrive on routine—if they know exactly what to expect when they return to you it can help the transition.
Dealing with visitation refusal
It’s common that kids in joint custody sometimes refuse to leave one parent to be with the other.
Find the cause. The problem may be one that is easy to resolve, like paying more attention to your child, making a change in discipline style, or having more toys or other entertainment. Or it may be that an emotional reason is at hand, such as conflict or misunderstanding. Talk to your child about their refusal.
Go with the flow. Whether you have detected the reason for the refusal or not, try to give your child the space and time that they obviously need. It may have nothing to do with you at all. And take heart: most cases of visitation refusal are temporary.
Talk to your ex. A heart-to-heart with your ex about the refusal may be challenging and emotional, but can help you figure out what the problem is. Try to be sensitive and understanding to your ex as you discuss this touchy subject.
Related HelpGuide articles
Dealing with a Breakup or Divorce: Grieving and Moving on After a Relationship Ends
Children and Divorce: Helping Kids Cope with Separation and Divorce
Blended Family and Step-Parenting Tips: How to Bond with Your Stepchildren and Deal with Stepfamily Issues
Resources and references
Co-Parenting After Divorce – A four-page booklet that includes a checklist of what to include in a co-parenting plan and descriptions of different types of custody arrangements. (Montana State University).
Non-Residential Parenting After Divorce – Tips for the parent who does not have custody or who lives a long distance away, and can’t be involved with the children every day. (Montana State University)
Co-Parenting Communication Guide (PDF) – Tips on communicating with your ex for the benefit of your children (Association of Family and Conciliation Courts)
Co-parenting after marital dissolution and children’s mental health – Research outlining the impact of co-parenting on a child’s mental and emotional health. (Science Direct)





Kids say ENOUGH.  Help your child learn to respect others.


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How to talk to your child about interacting with strangers


What your child knows – and needs to know
What you say to your child about talking to strangers depends on her age. Preschoolers, for example, don’t know what a stranger is and can’t tell who’s safe and who isn’t. You can begin to teach these little ones basic safety, but they’re not yet ready for conversations about how to deal with strangers.
By age 4, many children have heard about strangers and can start learning safety rules. However, they’re still too young to be unsupervised in public because they don’t have good judgment or impulse control.
School-age kids probably have heard that some strangers might be dangerous, but they still may assume that an adult who seems nice is also safe.
These 5- to 8-year-olds are also much more likely than preschoolers to be unsupervised in public (walking to school, at soccer practice, riding bikes with a friend). They may also have access to the Internet or occasionally be left home alone for short periods of time. This is why they need clear guidance on how to interact with strangers.
“If you get separated, you want them to have clear, simple rules to follow so they’re less at risk,” says Sherryll Kraizer, executive director of Coalition for Children and author of The Safe Child Book.
When you’re talking about strangers, keep in mind that despite sensational media coverage, stranger abductions are extremely rare. According to the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, only 115 children in the United States each year are victims of kidnappings by a stranger. And young children are less likely than teenagers to be targeted by strangers.
How to talk with your child about strangers
Start with basic body safety. To start the conversation about strangers, discuss general safety with 2- and 3-year-olds. When you go out, ask them to stay close. Also, kids this age are not too young to learn the correct terms for their genitals and that it’s not okay for most people to touch them there.
Discuss the concept of strangers. Kids are usually ready for this discussion around age 4. Starting by asking your child, “Do you know what a stranger is?”
If your child isn’t sure, tell him a stranger is anybody he doesn’t know. To avoid frightening your child unnecessarily, emphasize that a stranger is not necessarily a good person or a bad person – just someone he doesn’t know.
After talking to her preschooler about the risk of approaching an unfamiliar dog, one BabyCenter mom says, “I drew the parallel that a stranger might be nice or not, just like a dog you don’t know.”
Sandy, the mother of a 4- and a 9-year-old, used the DVD Stranger Safety (part of John Walsh’s The Safe Side series), which explains the difference between people a child doesn’t know at all, those he knows a little, and those who are safe. “We’ve talked to the kids about who their ‘safe-side’ adults are – mom, dad, grandparents, aunts – and we’ve quizzed them,” she explains.
Point out adults that kids can trust. Besides Grandpa and Auntie, give a few examples of adults a child can go to for help – another trusted parent, teacher, or school counselor. Point out authority figures, like security guards and store employees, so your child can identify strangers who might be able to help.
“We explained to my son how to identify store employees – by their vest or by their post at a cash register – if he gets lost,” says Sandy, the mother of a 4- and 9-year-old.
Go over do’s and don’ts. Define some rules about how to deal with strangers. Kraizer suggests giving an older preschooler a game plan to follow if you become separated: “If you lose Mommy in the grocery store, go to where we pay for things and tell them you’re lost, tell them your name, and don’t move from that spot until I come to get you.” Tell an older preschooler that if he’s approached by a stranger, he should go straight to the person who’s taking care of him.
Your school-age child should know that although it’s okay to say hello to a stranger when you are close by, he doesn’t have to talk to any stranger – and he shouldn’t if you aren’t around. “It’s perfectly fine for the child to say, ‘I’m not supposed to talk to strangers,'” says Judith Cohen, medical director at the Center for Traumatic Stress in Children & Adolescents, Allegheny General Hospital, in Pittsburgh. Be clear that he should never go anywhere with a stranger.
Establish Internet do’s and don’ts. Place any computer your child uses in a common area, so you can monitor what he’s doing. Children this age shouldn’t be in chat forums. “We’ve had cases of kids under 10 being targeted by predators online,” says Cohen.
Tell your child never to give any personal information, answer questions, or fill out forms online. Discuss online citizenship and online safety with help from websites such as NetSmartz and Common Sense Media.
Establish guidelines for using public bathrooms. By age 6, most children are ready to use a public restroom on their own. But be vigilant: Stand outside the door and tell your child to call if she needs you. Tell her to refuse help from anyone who offers it by saying, “No, thank you. I’ll do it myself,” or “No, thank you. My mom can help me.”
Prep older children for being home alone. Teach him that if someone comes to the door, he shouldn’t open it but should say, “Mom can’t come to the door right now.” If the visitor has a package, he should tell the person to leave it at the door or to come back another time.
If you have a landline, decide whether you want your child to answer the phone. You may not think your 5-year-old is ready to talk to strangers on the phone, but an 8-year-old may be mature enough. If you plan to call home frequently when you’re away, use caller ID so he’ll know when you’re calling.
Role-play to teach, not to scare. “What if?” questions are an opportunity to practice – just be sure to stay positive and not frighten your child. “Role-playing is the key to teaching kids how to handle tricky situations,” says Kraizer.
Act out with your child what to do if she’s approached while alone in the park. (For example, she could move close to the nearest parent who’s there with kids.)
Kraizer suggests telling your child, “If you’re by yourself or with friends, and you’re approached by someone you don’t know, stop what you’re doing, stand up, and stay an arm’s reach away from that person.” Demonstrate exactly what that means.
Another example: If a person drives up in a car and asks for directions to the nearest grocery store, tell your child to take a step back and point to where it is. But if the individual gets out of the car, instruct your child to take several steps back, turn around, and go inside the house or school to get an adult.
Avoid scary statements. To drive the message home, you may be tempted to issue warnings like “A stranger might take you away from me!” or “I might never see you again!” But that will frighten your child unnecessarily. “The conversation needs to be not what you’re afraid of but what empowers your child,” says Kraizer.
Remain calm and stick to the basic do’s and don’ts. If your child asks why he can’t go with a stranger, say something like, “Because I want to know where you are and that you know how to follow the rules.”
Repeat. There’s no need to overdo it. But underscore the message at appropriate opportunities, such as Halloween, on vacation, or before a trip to any public setting where your child may be around strangers.
Answers to common questions about strangers
“Is Isaiah’s mom a stranger?” Parents need to define clearly who is in the family’s circle of trust, especially with preschoolers. You might consider the parents of one of your child’s friends perfectly safe, but not know others well.
For preschoolers, answer the question on a case-by-case basis: “No, Isaiah’s mom is our friend” and “Yes, the mailman is a stranger.”
“What if a stranger gives me candy?” An older preschooler might have heard rumors about what strangers do. Teach your child to firmly say “No, thank you” and redirect her back to the rules: “Go immediately to the person who’s taking care of you.”
“What if someone tries to steal me?” Your child may have heard that strangers take children. Reassure your child that he’s safe and return to the rules: “If someone approaches you, stay away from him, turn around, and go inside the house or school to get an adult.”
Tell your child that in the unlikely case that a stranger does touch him, he should yell, “Help! This is not my Daddy!”
What else you can do
Read about safety together. Let’s Talk About Taking Care of You: An Educational Book About Body Safety for Young Children teaches children about body parts and personal safety.
Teach your child where home is. Start by teaching your young child her full name, then your full name, then your address and phone number. Occasionally quiz older children on your address and phone number. When your child is old enough to bike or walk in the neighborhood without you, discuss boundaries and point out landmarks and safe places to go if she needs help.
Get your child an ID card. Many states issue ID cards for kids that include a physical description, age, address, photo, fingerprints, and parent contact information. You can file a copy with the police department. Check with your local DMV about getting a card, and update the photo as your child grows older.


Raising Money Smart Children


Raising money smart children is a series of ongoing observations, conversations, and experiences. It is a process parents are well advised to start early. A 2013 Cambridge University study revealed adult money habits are set by age seven!
Teaching kids about money doesn’t have to be difficult. However, it does take time and lots of repetition. There are not any secrets or silver bullets. You and your children will get out of the process exactly what you put into it. If you pour enthusiasm into your parent teaching, you and your kids will enjoy it more. If you and your partner get on the same page, your chances for better results increase. And, your own finances may improve. Here are six tips to help you make the financial education process more rewarding for the entire family.
Put yourself and your partner on a personal finance reading program. If you make money choices daily, and we all do, then it makes sense to continually learn about the topic. What you learn will strengthen your financial knowledge by either confirming or changing your existing thinking. Google articles, interviews, and books. Or go to the library and do the same. Invest time with some of the worlds’ great minds on money, present and past. Warren Buffett. Janet Bodnar. Benjamin Franklin. There are lots of excellent options. Find and fill your thinking with voices that inspire you to action. Knowledge is useful. Applied knowledge produces results.
Write down the main points of your money philosophy. Then, refine the philosophy to short sentences. Catchy slogans are best. They are easy to repeat and remember. Your philosophy should minimally cover four areas: (1) saving (2) investing (3) spending (4) giving.
Translate your philosophy to kids speak. Whatever you do, don’t dumb or talk down to kids. Presume kids are smart. They will “get it” – the concepts – if you can explain them. Time Magazine covers this principle in its article, Infants Understand More Than You Think, Study Shows. Here is an example. Many personal finance experts advocate paying yourself first. Warren Buffett supports the principle but says it differently – ““Do not save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after saving.” Sammy Rabbit, the children’s character my team developed to deliver financial messaging to kids says the same thing three different ways. “Saving is a great habit!” “From every dollar, save a dime!” “Save one out of ten, again, again, and again!”
Here is an additional translation tip. Lay a foundation and develop awareness for a concept or term by using it in a sentence with an adjective a child is likely to understand. For example, one of the most motivating and powerful concepts in personal finance is compound interest. You might introduce the term by sharing the following: One of the most fun reasons to save and store money up is to watch it grow and compound. It’s amazing! When you save money, when you store it up for another time, your pile of savings grows and grows. It compounds. Your pile gets larger and larger. That’s a super duper thing!
If you want assistance, check out Sammy Rabbit’s Slogans on Money! Use them with your kids or as a catalyst to inspire your own slogans.
There is no way to sugar coat it. Mastery requires repetition. And, unfortunately, the law of diminishing returns applies to parental guidance. So, stay relevant by using a variety of methods to reinforce the same messages over and over, again and again. In addition to conversations and slogans, I recommend storybooks, songs, games, activities, and experiences. Grocery shopping, trips to the bank, yard sales, lemonade stands, going out for family meals, birthdays and holidays are all terrific teaching opportunities.
This is where the rubber meets the road. Be a great role model. If your behavior matches your words, it increases the chances of your kids adopting the behavior. Lead by example. Show your family the way!
If you are only going to teach your children one thing about money, teach them to get in the habit of saving. Here is why. Saving has multiple benefits. It is a cornerstone upon which many other money and success skills can be taught. Saving teaches discipline, delayed gratification, preparedness, planning and goal setting.  Saving protects us from poor spending choices. Saving positions us to invest with less risk. Saving provides more freedom and choices. Saving builds confidence and character.
Sam X Renick is the driving force behind Sammy Rabbit, Sammy’s Dream Big Vision and the “It’s a Habit” Company. Sam and Sammy are dedicated to empowering kids’ dreams and improving their financial literacy through the development of great habits and strategic life skills. Sam has read and sung off key with over a quarter million children around the world, encouraging them to get in the habits of saving money and reading! He has won numerous honors throughout his career including the New Jersey Coalition for Financial Education’s Lifetime Achievement Award!







Tips for Finding a Job for Teens

Review When and Where You Can Work

Restrictions on Work
There are laws restricting when you can work and what you can do. Teens hired for non-agricultural employment (which is just about everything other than farm work) must be at least fourteen.
Other restrictions also apply:
Ages 14 and 15: During the school year, hours are limited to 3 hours a day and 18 hours a week. On days when there’s no school and in the summer, working hours increase to 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week. There are limits on when you can work, too – no later than 7 p.m. during the school year and no later than 9 p.m. between June 1 and Labor Day.
Ages 16 and 17: There’s no limit on hours, but, if you’re under 18 you can’t work in a job that the Labor Department considers hazardous.
How to Get Working Papers
In some states, if you’re under eighteen, you may need to obtain working papers (officially called Employment/Age Certificates) in order to legally be able to work. You may be able to get the form at school. Otherwise, you can get one at your state Department of Labor. Check the Employment/Age Certification list to see which guidelines apply to you.
If it’s school, check with your Guidance Office. If it’s the Department of Labor, check with your state office.

Some states, like New York, for example, have special sections of their websites on Youth Jobs, which will give you the information you need.
Check Out Different Types of Jobs
Once you’ve got the paperwork in order, consider what you would like to do. Are you interested in working with little kids? Take a look at after-school programs, child care centers, or summer camp jobs. How about working on the beach or the ski slopes, at a park, in the mountains, or at another outdoor job? Consider a job at a museum, a hospital, at a zoo, or at some other organization related to your career aspirations.
Here is a list of teen job options.
The jobs you have during high school will give you some idea of what you might want to do later on. They also might give you an idea about some jobs you absolutely don’t want to do!
How to Find a Job
Check with your high school Guidance Office and ask how they can assist with your job search. They may have postings for local businesses, for babysitting or for other part-time positions.
Next, tell everyone you know that you’re looking for work. Speak with teachers, family, coaches, friends, parents of friends – anyone and everyone you can think of – and ask for help. Most jobs are found through referrals and people you know are often happy to assist.
How about starting your own business? Consider your own skills and interests as well as the needs of the local economy where you will be spending your summer. Possible ventures include babysitting, lawn mowing, house painting, designing and marketing T-shirts, caring for pets while people are on vacation, car detailing, etc.
Online Job Searching
Start your online job search by visiting the sites that focus on teen job opportunities. Searching, for example, by type of position and location will generate a list of openings. There’s also a list of national employers that hire part-time workers.
Also check this list of companies that hire high school students.
Employers in fields like retail and hospitality often are very interested in hiring teens and are willing to provide training. Search by the category of employment you’re interested in. This will generate some more leads. These types of employers often don’t advertise, so check with the stores or restaurants in your town to see if they have openings.
Don’t forget to check the Employment Services job listings and the Help Wanted ads in your newspaper. Small local papers like The Pennysaver usually have listings too.
Teen Job Interview Tips
Next, make sure you dress appropriately, are ready to complete an application, and are prepared for an on-the-spot interview.
Before you head out to your interviews, review these student job interview questions and samples answers, so you are ready to respond to the interviewer.
Before Accepting a Job Offer
There are good jobs for teens and there are not-so-good and even awful jobs for teens. Before you say “yes” to a job offer, make sure the company is legitimate. Check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there have been complaints.
Be aware that the Department of Labor has rules and regulations about when teens can, and can’t work, as well as what type of job you can do. Make sure the employer is complying with the law.
Decide whether this is a job you really want to do. Don’t accept it if you don’t feel comfortable with the work, with the environment, or with the boss or other employees. If this doesn’t work out, there will be another offer. Consider whether the hours will fit into your school and activity schedule.





Teens talk diversity.  Great conversation with common thoughts.



Talking to your parents or other adults!


You probably talk to friends way more than you talk to your parents. That’s natural. Even if you and your parents have a great relationship, you want to find your own path and make your own choices.
Still, most of us want a parent’s help, advice, and support at times. But talking to the adults in your life can seem difficult or intimidating — especially when it comes to certain subjects. Here are some tips to make it easier.

Talk About Everyday Stuff — and Do It Every Day
The more you do something, the easier it gets. Talking to the adults in your life about everyday stuff builds a bond that can smooth the way for when you need to discuss something more serious.
Find something trivial to chat about each day. Talk about how your team did at the track meet. Share something one of your teachers said. Even small talk about what’s for dinner can keep your relationship strong and comfortable.
It’s never too late to start. If you feel your relationship with your parents is strained, try easing into conversations. Mention that cute thing the dog did. Talk about how well your little sister is doing in math. Chatting with parents every day not only keeps an existing relationship strong, it also can help a frayed relationship get stronger.
When parents feel connected to your daily life, they can be there for you if something really important comes up.
Raising Difficult Topics
Maybe you need to break bad news to a parent, like getting a speeding ticket or failing an exam. Perhaps you’re feeling scared or stressed about something. Or maybe you just really, really want to tell your parents about your new boyfriend or girlfriend, but you don’t know how they’ll react, how it will feel to tell them, or how to find the words.
Here are 3 steps to help you prepare for that talk.
Step 1: Know What You Want From the Conversation
It takes maturity to figure out what you want to get out of a conversation. (Most adults aren’t so good at this!)
What you hope to achieve can vary. Most often you’ll probably want the adults in your life to do one or more of these things:
simply listen and understand what you’re going through without offering advice or commentary
give permission or support for something
offer you advice or help
guide you back on track if you’re in trouble — in a way that’s fair and without harsh criticism or put-downs
Why think about this before you begin talking? So you can say why you want to talk in a way that communicates what you need. For example:
“Mom, I need to tell you about a problem I’m having, but I need you to just listen, OK? Don’t give me advice — I just want you to know what’s bothering me.”
“Dad, I need to get your permission to go on a class trip next week. Can I tell you about it?”
“Grandad, I need your advice about something. Can we talk?”

Difficult Topics
Step 2: Identify Your Feelings
Things like personal feelings or sex are awkward to discuss with anyone, let alone a parent. It’s natural to be nervous when talking about sensitive topics.
Recognize how you’re feeling — for example, maybe you’re worried that telling parents about a problem will make them disappointed or upset. But instead of letting those feelings stop you from talking, put them into words as part of the conversation. For example:
“Mom, I need to talk to you — but I’m afraid I’ll disappoint you.”
“Dad, I need to talk to you about something — but it’s kind of embarrassing.”
What if you think a parent may be unsupportive, harsh, or critical? It can help to defuse things by beginning with a statement like, “Mom, I have something to tell you. I’m not proud of what I’ve done, and you might be mad. But I know I need to tell you. Can you hear me out?”
Step 3: Pick a Good Time to Talk
Approach your parent when he or she isn’t busy with something else. Ask, “Can we talk? Is now a good time?” Driving in the car or going for a walk can be great opportunities to talk. If it’s hard to find a good time, say, “I need to talk to you. When is a good time?”
Difficult conversations benefit from good planning. Think ahead about what you want to say or ask. Write down the most important ideas if you need to.

How to Talk So Parents Will Listen
As most of us know, talking and listening don’t go smoothly every time. Emotions and past experiences can get in the way.
Will parents take you seriously, believe what you say, listen to and respect your opinions, and hear you out without interrupting? A lot depends on your parent. Some parents are easy to talk to, some are great listeners, and some are harder to approach.
But some of what happens depends on you, too. Since communication is a two-way street, the way you talk can influence how well a parent listens and understands you.
So here are some guidelines to consider when talking to parents:
Be clear and direct. Be as clear as you can about what you think, feel, and want. Give details that can help parents understand your situation. They can listen better or be more helpful if they understand what you mean and what’s really going on.
Be honest. If you’re always honest, a parent will be likely to believe what you say. If you sometimes hide the truth or add too much drama, parents will have a harder time believing what you tell them. If you lie, they’ll find it hard to trust you.
Try to understand their point of view. If you have a disagreement, can you see your parents’ side? If you can, say so. Telling parents you understand their views and feelings helps them be willing to see yours, too.
Try not to argue or whine. Using a tone that’s friendly and respectful makes it more likely parents will listen and take what you say seriously. It also makes it more likely that they’ll talk to you in the same way. Of course, this is hard for any of us (adults included) when we’re feeling heated about something. If you think your emotions might get the better of you, do something to blow off steam before talking: Go for a run. Cry. Hit your pillow. Do whatever it takes to sound calm when you need to.

What If Talking to Parents Doesn’t Work?
Your parents won’t always see things your way and they won’t always say yes to what you ask. They might listen respectfully, understand your point of view, and do everything you need except say yes. It can be hard to take no for an answer. But gracefully accepting a no can help you get more yeses in the future.
What if it’s more than just saying no to something, though? What if you really need your parents to be there for you but they can’t? Some parents have troubles of their own. Others just can’t be available in the ways their kids need and deserve. Others have a hard time being flexible.
If you can’t talk to your parent, seek out other adults you can trust. Find a relative, a teacher, or a counselor who will listen, understand, encourage, believe in you, and care. Then follow all the tips above to get the most from your conversation with that person.
Acting respectfully demonstrates maturity. Parents are more likely to think of their children as grown up (and, as a result, capable of making more important decisions) when they see them acting maturely. Give these tips a try and you’ll come across that way — maybe even more mature than your parents!



Parent Tip:   Romantic Dinner at Home
Whether you have a babysitter or not, you can plan a romantic dinner at home.


Since you probably have no time to cook an elaborate meal, you should order your favorite take-out or purchase already prepared foods at your next supermarket run. Take turns showering and making yourselves presentable, then set the table, light some candles, eat, and flirt with one another. If there is no babysitter, eat this meal whenever baby takes a nap, even if it’s in the late afternoon. Try to choose a time when baby normally sleeps for a long stretch. While I realize you should be sleeping when baby is sleeping, you also need a little couple’s time, so try to squeeze in a date, too. Remember, if there’s time, you two can power nap together after eating.




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Building Strong Family Relationships


Strong families have good communication.
Strong families have open lines of communication — where all family members feel heard and respected. One of the best ways to strengthen your family is to increase your listening skills and those of other family members. Until we can hear each other, we cannot build strong relationships.
To build strong family relationships, listen actively to each other.
Give the person your full attention, turn off the TV or put down what you are doing.
Focus on what the person is telling you — rather than thinking about your reaction or response to what is being said. (There will be time for that.)
Listen for how the other person is feeling and relay back what you think they were saying and how they are feeling. ―I hear you saying that you don’t like your sister. You look pretty mad. Did something happen?
Resist giving advice or your reaction until you are certain you have fully understood what the person was saying to you.
Use “I” messages rather than “You” messages when talking.
I messages are more difficult because they require us to be clear about our own thoughts and feelings. They, however, increase the chances that our message will be heard and decrease the chances that a fight will begin.
“I don’t like all this fighting. It upsets me to see the two of you not getting along.” Rather than ― “What’s wrong with the two of you? You’ are making me crazy! Can’t you ever get along?”
Teach everyone in your family to talk with “I” ― messages as much a possible. ―I am feeling…. (upset) when I see you (playing video games before you finish your homework).
“You” messages should be discouraged because they often lead to bad feelings and increased fighting. ― “You” messages seldom resolve the problem.
Encourage all family members to share their thoughts and feelings.
Strong families allow all family members — no matter how young or small — to talk about their thoughts and feelings. This does not mean that members are not respectful of one another, but rather that feelings and ideas are respected.
Everyone should be expected to express themselves in appropriate ways — such as with  ― “I” messages. When people feel heard and respected, they feel better about themselves, are more open to solving problems, and are more likely to allow others to express themselves.
Strong families spend time together.
In today’s busy world it can be difficult for families to find time to be together. All relationships need attention — and this includes the family as a whole.
Family rituals can offer a set time for families to get together and give each other the attention needed. A family ritual is simply a time that is set aside on a regular basis for a family to get together. This can mean having dinner together, celebrating a holiday together, going to church together, or going for a walk together. It is important that the family ritual be predictable and that other activities are not allowed to upset it.
Family rituals help define who we are as a family. It allows time for the family to get together, to share experiences with one another, and to reconnect with each other. Knowing that the family will have time together can help us deal with those times when we are apart. Even though parents may work, children can know that each evening, each weekend (or whenever works for your family) they will have some ― “special time” with you.
Every child is special and every child needs some special time when he can have his parent all to himself.
Giving your child some “special time” helps develop a close relationship with your child. If you can make it a predictable ritual, your child can depend on it — and look forward to this time with you. Be sure that this ” special time” is not easily  interrupted by other activities. For example, don’t answer the phone during this time.
Allow your child to help you decide how to spend this time. You could read books, sing songs, go for a walk, play a game — or whatever your child enjoys. The more you are able to spend ―special time‖ with your child the stronger your  relationship will be.
Look for opportunities to connect with your child.
Although setting aside time with your child is important, also look for small moments that you can use to connect with your child. Researchers say that spending frequent, brief amounts of time (as little as 1-2 minutes) involved in child-preferred activities is one of the most powerful things parents can do. You can make up stories together while doing chores, talk about concerns while on the way to the grocery store, read a book together while waiting for dinner to finish. We often think we have to wait for our “special time” but all these small moments help us stay connected in between the more scheduled times.
Strong families handle their conflict fairly.
All families have conflict – it’s a natural part of human relationships. Strong families are able to work through things they disagree about by focusing on the problems, rather than by “tearing each other down.”
Keys to Fair Fighting
Stay focused on the behavior or problem. Use “I” messages to express your thoughts and feelings about the problem. For example, if you and your child are arguing about bedtime, you could say “I get angry when you continue to argue with me even after I’ve told you my decision. I want you to go to bed now.” instead of “You never listen to me. Go to bed now or I’ll spank you.”
Stay focused on the present problem. Do not bring up old issues and problems. These only distract from the present issue. You can discuss them later.
Respect each other’s right to safety. Fights should never become violent. When people are so angry that they feel like hitting one another or throwing things, call for a time out. Agree to get together to talk again after everyone has had a chance to calm down.
Use your problem solving skills to create new solutions to the problem and teach your kids to think of ways to resolve conflict. It is not useful to fight about what isn’t working. Instead, focus on what has worked in the past or what could work now.
For bedtime problems, you could say, “I am tired of always arguing with you about your bedtime. Let’s come up with some new ways that you can get to bed without all this hassle.” Then you and your child could think of some solutions and decide which one to try. The more you include your child, the better problem solver he will be — and the more likely to follow through with the plan.
Strong Families Develop Trust.
Strong, healthy families recognize the importance of developing trust. Trust is the glue that holds relationships together.
Some ways to develop trust in your family are:
Give your child opportunities to earn your trust. Let her do small tasks around the house and praise her for doing it on her own.
Show your child that you can be trusted. Children need to know that they can count on what their parents say. Follow through with the things you promise to do.
Allow people in your family to make amends. We all make mistakes. Teach your child to forgive and allow yourself to forgive others. Holding on to past hurts often only hurts us.
Teach everyone how to say “I’m sorry.” Taking responsibility for our good and our bad behaviors is important and helps to develop trust. People learn to trust that they can be loved even though they are not perfect.



Women Discuss Relationship Red Flags



10 Ways to Deal with a Teen who Talks Back


Both teenagers and parents need to know that it is developmentally appropriate and healthy to question what is being asked of them, as long as they are not doing it in a rude or offensive manner. We do want to teach our teenager that it’s important to stand up for what they believe in, and that some ways of getting what they want are more effective than others, but that sometimes standing up for oneself may include an unpleasant consequence. Here are some ways to deal with teenagers that talk back and show disrespect:
Make sure that the rules of the house are very clear and specific. You may need to say to your child (at a time when you are both calm), “We have been fighting a lot lately, so we need to sit down and clarify what my/our expectations for your behavior are, and what the consequences will be for breaking the rules.”
When your child talks back to you or refuses to do something you have asked, take a few seconds to remind yourself to stay calm, and think about what you are about to say. Do not threaten your child or yell at her, as these behaviors can cause the interaction to escalate. Simply state the behavior and remind your child of the consequences. If your child seems to be out of control (or you feel that you are getting out of control), let her know that you will continue the conversation later, and walk away.
Be confident, firm, and consistent. Do not negotiate with your child, back down, or let her draw your into an argument about the consequence that you are enforcing. Consequences are consequences and shouldn’t be up for discussion or argument. If your child feels like she can argue or negotiate a consequence, she’ll be more likely to continue an undesired behavior and moreover, more likely to argue even more the next time around. Do not lecture or give long-winded speeches, as your teen will simply tune out, which will in turn make you more likely to get worked up.
Be willing to have conversations (rather than arguments) about adjusting the rules and consequences every few months as your child gets older and can take on more responsibility. However, make it clear that your teen must be able to present her position to you without being rude – this is an excellent life skill to instill. In addition, all parties involved need to understand that just because your teen may present a good argument in a polite manner, it doesn’t mean that you’re required to change your position. Be willing to listen with an open mind and be up for a discussion, but in the end, you are the parent with the life experience to make good decisions, as well as the person responsible for your child’s safety and well-being.
Backtalk sometimes comes from teenagers trying to learn how to assert their independence and test limits, so help them make good choices within the boundaries that you set. As much as possible, let them be responsible for their own behavior, even if it means that they have to deal with the negative consequences (this can often be the best learning experience from them). In addition, give them choices whenever you can, but make it clear when no choice exists and you are not willing to negotiate, especially when it comes to matters of your child’s safety.
When your child uses rude words to label you or someone else, ask her to be specific. Say, “When you call me…, it is not only rude and will not be tolerated, but it also does not help me understand what you want. Tell me what you are upset about or what you would like to happen.”
One common refrain from teens is, “You don’t understand!” Do not further frustrate your child by saying, “Yes, I do!”, or “I went through exactly what you are going through now.” We all like to think of experiences as unique. Instead of asserting a “been there, done that” stance, help your child practice communicating without being rude by responding, “I may not understand, but I do want to try to understand what you are feeling. Can we talk about it later when we’re both calmer? Or you can you write it down and send me an e mail, if you like?”
Think about how you speak to your child and to others around you. How often are you sarcastic or rude? Is your child picking up on your tone and the way you treat others? Try to adjust your own behavior and remember that whether she knows it or not, you are your child’s greatest influence in terms of nuturing the right kinds of behavior in her. Consider telling your child that you have noticed that you can be rude to others sometimes, and that you’re going to try to modify your own behavior. Sometimes, parents admitting that they too can make mistakes or have things that they need to work on, makes all the difference in terms of communication. Your child will feel less like she’s under attack and more open to making adjustments of her own.
Try to break a pattern of interaction in which your child is constantly rude to you and you in turn respond with frustration and/or punishment. Tell your child that you don’t like the way your relationship has been lately, and that you would like to do something pleasant together. Let your child choose something that the two of you can do together, and make a pact that neither of you will be rude or critical. If one of you breaks the pact, end the activity, and try again another day.
Give your child the same respect that you would like and try to refrain from name-calling or labeling with such words as, “spoiled brat.” Instead, keep the focus on the behavior that you would like to change.
If your child seems to be out of control or defying you in ways that endanger her safety or that of others, seek professional assistance immediately. Ultimately, helping your child break habits of backtalk and disrespect will help her not only in her not only at home, but will make all the difference in her ability relate to others and be successful in life.





Surviving the Teen Years


You’ve lived through 2 a.m. feedings, toddler temper tantrums, and the back-to-school blues. So why is the word “teenager” causing you so much worry?
When you consider that the teen years are a period of intense growth, not only physically but emotionally and intellectually, it’s understandable that it’s a time of confusion and upheaval for many families.
Despite some adults’ negative perceptions about teens, they are often energetic, thoughtful, and idealistic, with a deep interest in what’s fair and right. So, although it can be a period of conflict between parent and child, the teen years are also a time to help kids grow into the distinct individuals they will become.
Understanding the Teen Years
So when does adolescence start? Everybody’s different — there are early bloomers, late arrivers, speedy developers, and slow-but-steady growers. In other words, there’s a wide range of what’s considered normal.
But it’s important to make a (somewhat artificial) distinction between puberty and adolescence. Most of us think of puberty as the development of adult sexual characteristics: breasts, menstrual periods, pubic hair, and facial hair. These are certainly the most visible signs of puberty and impending adulthood, but kids who are showing physical changes (between the ages of 8 and 14 or so) also can be going through a bunch of changes that aren’t readily seen from the outside. These are the changes of adolescence.
Many kids announce the onset of adolescence with a dramatic change in behavior around their parents. They’re starting to separate from mom and dad and become more independent. At the same time, kids this age are increasingly aware of how others, especially their peers, see them and are desperately trying to fit in. Their peers often become much more important than parents as far as making decisions.
Kids often start “trying on” different looks and identities, and they become very aware of how they differ from their peers, which can result in episodes of distress and conflict with parents.
Butting Heads
One of the common stereotypes of adolescence is the rebellious, wild teen continually at odds with mom and dad. Although it may be the case for some kids and this is a time of emotional ups and downs, that stereotype certainly is not representative of most teens.
But the primary goal of the teen years is to achieve independence. To do this, teens must start pulling away from their parents — especially the parent whom they’re the closest to. This can feel like teens are always at odds with parents or don’t want to be around them the way they used to.
As teens mature, they start to think more abstractly and rationally. They’re forming their moral code. And parents of teens may find that kids who previously had been willing to conform to please them will suddenly begin asserting themselves — and their opinions — strongly and rebelling against parental control.
You may need to look closely at how much room you give your teen to be an individual and ask yourself questions such as: “Am I a controlling parent?,” “Do I listen to my child?,” and “Do I allow my teen’s opinions and tastes to differ from my own?”

Tips for Parenting During the Teen Years
Looking for a roadmap to find your way through these years? Here are some tips:
Educate Yourself
Read books about teenagers. Think back on your own teen years. Remember your struggles with acne or your embarrassment at developing early — or late. Expect some mood changes in your typically sunny child, and be prepared for more conflict as he or she matures as an individual. Parents who know what’s coming can cope with it better. And the more you know, the better you can prepare.
Talk to Kids Early and Often
Starting to talk about menstruation or wet dreams after they’ve already begun is starting too late. Answer the early questions kids have about bodies, such as the differences between boys and girls and where babies come from. But don’t overload them with information — just answer their questions. If you don’t know the answers, get them from someone who does, like a trusted friend or your pediatrician.
You know your kids. You can hear when your child’s starting to tell jokes about sex or when attention to personal appearance is increasing. This is a good time to jump in with your own questions such as:
Are you noticing any changes in your body?
Are you having any strange feelings?
Are you sad sometimes and don’t know why?
A yearly physical exam is a great time to talk about this. A doctor can tell your preadolescent — and you — what to expect in the next few years. An exam can be a jumping-off point for a good parent/child discussion. The later you wait to have these talks, the more likely your child will be to form misconceptions or become embarrassed about or afraid of physical and emotional changes.
And the earlier you open the lines of communication, the better your chances of keeping them open through the teen years. Give your child books on puberty written for kids going through it. Share memories of your own adolescence. There’s nothing like knowing that mom or dad went through it, too, to put kids more at ease.
Put Yourself in Your Child’s Place
Practice empathy by helping your child understand that it’s normal to be a bit concerned or self-conscious, and that it’s OK to feel grown-up one minute and like a kid the next.
Pick Your Battles
If teenagers want to dye their hair, paint their fingernails black, or wear funky clothes, think twice before you object. Teens want to shock their parents and it’s a lot better to let them do something temporary and harmless; save your objections for things that really matter, like tobacco, drugs and alcohol, or permanent changes to their appearance.
Ask why your teen wants to dress or look a certain way and try to understand how your teen is feeling. You also might want to discuss how others might perceive them if they look different — help your teen understand how he or she might be viewed.

Set Expectations
Teens might act unhappy about the expectations their parents place on them. Still, they usually understand and need to know that their parents care enough about them to expect certain things such as good grades, acceptable behavior, and sticking to the house rules. If parents have appropriate expectations, teens will likely try to meet them. Without reasonable expectations, your teen may feel you don’t care about him or her.
Inform Your Teen — and Stay Informed Yourself
The teen years often are a time of experimentation, and sometimes that experimentation includes risky behaviors. Don’t avoid the subjects of sex and drug, alcohol, or tobacco use. Discussing tough topics openly with kids before they’re exposed to them actually makes it more likely that they’ll act responsibly when the time comes. Share your family values with your teen and talk about what you believe is right and wrong, and why.
Know your child’s friends — and know their friends’ parents. Regular communication between parents can go a long way toward creating a safe environment for all teens in a peer group. Parents can help each other keep track of the kids’ activities without making the kids feel that they’re being watched.
Know the Warning Signs
A certain amount of change is normal during the teen years. But too drastic or long-lasting a switch in personality or behavior may signal real trouble — the kind that needs professional help. Watch for these warning signs:
extreme weight gain or loss
sleep problems
rapid, drastic changes in personality
sudden change in friends
skipping school often
falling grades
talk or even jokes about suicide
signs of tobacco, alcohol, or drug use
run-ins with the law
Any other inappropriate behavior that lasts for more than 6 weeks can be a sign of underlying trouble, too. You may expect a glitch or two in your teen’s behavior or grades during this time, but your A/B student shouldn’t suddenly be failing, and your normally outgoing kid shouldn’t suddenly become constantly withdrawn. Your doctor or a local counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist can help you find proper counseling.

Respect Kids’ Privacy
Some parents, understandably, have a very hard time with this one. They may feel that anything their kids do is their business. But to help your teen become a young adult, you’ll need to grant some privacy. If you notice warning signs of trouble, then you can invade your child’s privacy until you get to the heart of the problem. But otherwise, it’s a good idea to back off.
In other words, your teenager’s room, texts, e-mails, and phone calls should be private. You also shouldn’t expect your teen to share all thoughts or activities with you at all times. Of course, for safety reasons, you should always know where teens are going, when they’ll be returning, what they’re doing, and with whom, but you don’t need to know every detail. And you definitely shouldn’t expect to be invited along!
Start with trust. Tell your teen that you trust him or her, but if the trust gets broken, he or she will enjoy fewer freedoms until it’s rebuilt.
Monitor What Kids See and Read
TV shows, magazines and books, the Internet — kids have access to tons of information. Be aware of what yours watch and read. Don’t be afraid to set limits on the amount of time spent in front of the computer or the TV. Know what they’re learning from the media and who they may be communicating with online.
Teens shouldn’t have unlimited access to TV or the Internet in private — these should be public activities. Access to technology also should be limited after certain hours (for example, 10 p.m. or so) to encourage adequate sleep. It’s not unreasonable to have cellphones and computers off limits after a certain time.
Make Appropriate Rules
Bedtime for a teenager should be age appropriate, just as it was when your child was a baby. Teens still need about 8-9 hours of sleep. Encourage your teen to stick to a sleep schedule that will meet those needs.
Reward your teen for being trustworthy. Has he or she kept to a 10 p.m. curfew on weekends? Move it to 10:30 p.m. And does a teen always have to go along on family outings? Encourage a reasonable amount of family time together, but be flexible. Don’t be insulted when your growing child doesn’t always want to be with you. Think back: You probably felt the same way about your mom and dad.
Will This Ever Be Over?
As kids progress through the teen years, you’ll notice a slowing of the highs and lows of adolescence. And, eventually, they’ll become independent, responsible, communicative young adults.
So remember the motto of many parents with teens: We’re going through this together, and we’ll come out of it — together!


The Importance of Self-Care for Health and Stress Management
Take Care of Yourself: You Deserve It!


Many of us have so many responsibilities in life that we forget to take care of ourselves. This is particularly true for mothers, who have many caregiving responsibilities, but moms certainly don’t have a monopoly on letting life get in the way of taking care of themselves.  And while it’s hard to prioritize something like taking a bath when you have so many other priorities in life, self-care is an important aspect of stress management.

This is because we are all less able to handle the stresses that come our way when we’re already depleted by physical and emotional exhaustion.  Or, put in a more positive way, we are more resilient and more able to handle life’s stress when we are feeling our best both physically and emotionally.  A massage, soak in the tub or other forms of pampering revitalize you inside and out. Taking time out to maintain self-care has several benefits:
Self-Care and You Physical Health
While self-pampering doesn’t always lead to major improvements in overall health the way healthy diet and exercise do, the relaxation you get from it can trigger the relaxation response, which can prevent chronic stress from damaging your health, so in a sense, self-care is good for you inside and out.
Self-Care and Your Emotional Health
Taking time out to care for yourself can remind you and others that you and your needs are important, too.

Having a well-cared-for body can make you feel good about yourself and your life, and conveys to others that you value yourself. This can contribute to long-term feelings of wellbeing.
Self-Care Makes You a Better Caregiver
People who neglect their own needs and forget to nurture themselves are at danger of deeper levels of unhappiness, low self-esteem, and feelings of resentment.

Also, sometimes people who spend their time only taking care of others can be at risk for getting burned out on all the giving, which makes it more difficult to care for others or themselves. Taking time to care for yourself regularly can make you a better caretaker for others.
Taking a few hours for a spa experience and some much-deserved self-care is also an effective way to manage stress for the following reasons:
A Break from Stress
Taking a break amidst a tub of warm bubbles or under the warm hands of an experienced masseuse can help you feel like you’re escaping a stressful reality and taking a mental and emotional vacation. As I mentioned, it triggers the relaxation response and allows you to come back to the reality of your life feeling refreshed and relaxed.
Time Alone
While different people have varying degrees of introversion and extroversion, having some time along is important for most people’s functioning. When you’re relaxing by yourself, it’s much easier to slip into a state of quiet meditation, enjoy some self-reflection, or let your problems work themselves out in the back of your mind, without taking all of your focused concentration.

Soothing Feelings
Giving your body some special treatment is a natural way to relieve stress. Other than keeping your skin soft and your body in good repair, spa-related activities like massage and warm baths have been known to soothe even small colicky babies like nothing else. Such activities continue to be effective tools for relaxation as we get older, but we sometimes forget to utilize them.
Once you’ve decided it’s time to start nurturing yourself and your body, be sure to block off some time for this.  Try to schedule a block where you won’t be interrupted. You need only to have a bathroom to give yourself a home-spa experience; you can put on some soothing music, and try some or all of the following suggestions:
Take a Bath: Get out the bubbles, oils, and scented soaps, and soak until you’re wrinkled.
Deep-Condition Your Hair: While you’re in the tub, put on a deep-conditioning treatment for your hair, and let it work as you relax.
Deep-Clean Your Pores: With a nice clay masque, you can draw impurities out of your skin and stress out of your system.
Care For Your Feet: After you soak your feet to soften calloused skin, use a pumice stone to slough off dead skin, and finish with a rich foot cream, and perhaps polish.
Nourish Your Skin: Rich, luxurious creams smell wonderful and feel smooth, especially if you exfoliate your skin in the tub before putting them on.
Tend to Your Nails: Correct the beating your nails probably take from your busy life (especially for those of you who bite your nails!) by filing and buffing. A coat of polish on can make you feel like a princess for days afterward. (This is probably more for my female readers.)
Get a Massage: This one can be especially nice. If your budget doesn’t allow for regular massages with a professional, see if you can trade with a friend or your spouse, or use an electronic massager.
In addition to pampering yourself, more substantial forms of self-care involving healthy lifestyle choices are important, too. Consuming a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, and being sure you get enough sleep are all important for long-term health and stress management as well.
Try the following self-care strategies to build a healthier lifestyle and greater resilience toward stress.



Children and Separation


Separation or divorce does not normally end your involvement and responsibility as a parent. Children need the continuing affection and support of both parents. This will require cooperation with your former partner which may not always be easy.
The pain of a separation can be felt in many ways. You may feel lonely, desperate, depressed or grief-stricken; you may feel a failure and lose your self-confidence; you may feel angry, jealous or guilty. Mixed up with all these emotions, you might also feel a sense of relief.
All of these feelings are normal responses to a separation. You should not be alarmed by the fact that you experience them and you should not expect to cope with everything immediately. On the other hand, if you nurse feelings such as jealousy, anger or despair for too long, they may take over and prevent you from once again leading a fulfilling life. They may also get in the way of your children’s adjustment. There are many ways of coping with a separation but they can be broadly described as falling into two basic categories. One reaction is to get stuck in self-pity, living in the past, continuing the bitterness, putting the children in the middle of your conflict and turning the children against their other parent. This type of reaction always means increased difficulties for everyone, particularly the children.
The other reaction is where you try to make the best of the situation and learn through your experience. Choosing this direction gives you the chance to rebuild your life, regain your self-confidence, find new and satisfying goals and take a positive view of life again.
The way you handle the separation very much affects how your children cope with it. During this time of great difficulty you may find some of the following suggestions helpful for you and your children.
What happens for children when their parents separate?
Children can react very differently to separation or divorce. The way they react depends on a number of things, but two important factors are the age of the child and the degree of conflict and animosity between the parents.
There is no doubt this is a stressful period for children, but most recover and end up leading normal healthy lives. Children from separated families can develop and flourish just as well as other children. Their adjustment is enhanced when parents remain sensitive to the children’s needs.
Separation is often a surprise for children and they generally experience many of the same feelings as adults. Children can also grieve for quite a long time. They may be unaware of the problems their parents were having and they may feel shocked and confused when the separation occurs. They are also likely to feel insecure and worry whether the remaining parent will leave them as well.
Some children may feel that they must have been to blame. Others may feel very angry with either or both of their parents and want to blame one of them. Sometimes children become unsure about whether they can still love the parent who left, and they can wonder what is happening to the absent parent. Although parents are often upset and confused themselves at this time, it is important to try to understand what your children are going through and to consider their feelings as well.
Remember, it can be far less harmful for a child to go through family breakdown than to go on living in an unhappy family where there is extreme tension and fighting in the home.
How do they behave?
Children do not always communicate with words. Their responses to their parents’ separation may be expressed in behavior.
Some children become very withdrawn and avoid talking about the separation or the absent parent. Others (particularly if they are younger) may become very ‘clingy’ and not want to let the parent they are with out of their sight. These children feel they have ‘lost’ the departing parent and are determined not to lose their remaining parent.
Others may ‘regress’ in their behavior – they may act younger than they did before the separation, talk in baby talk or fall back in their toilet training. Some may have nightmares, others may become rebellious, difficult to handle or aggressive with other children and even their parents. These are some of the ways your children might show their distress. This is their signal that they need your special attention. With time, most of these behavioral problems disappear. However, if they persist over a long period it is best to seek some help.
What happens to children at different ages when parents separate?
Birth – 2 years
Children in this age group are highly dependent on their parents.
If one parent has taken on primary responsibility for care of a child it is almost certain that a strong physical and emotional dependence will develop between them. Lengthy separation from this parent can be a source of intense emotional distress. A child at this age has a very different concept of time than does an adult. For very young children a few hours will often seem to be a very long time and this needs to be considered when making parenting arrangements.
In this age group, children are likely to fret for the absent parent with whom they need frequent, short periods of contact to continue their relationship.
A high level of conflict between the parents can make visits extremely stressful for a child of this age. For this very young group, it can be helpful if parents stick to a routine and, where possible, provide reminders of the other parent such as photos. It may also be useful if some special toy or blanket travels with them between households.
2.5 – 5 years
Children in this age group begin to be a little more independent of their parents. Separation can be a major crisis for these children and they can react with shock or depression. For instance, children in this group may show their distress by a change in sleeping habits, toilet habits or a deterioration in language skills.
In this age group also, children differ from adults in how they perceive time. They have less time distortion than do infants, but still experience a short period as being a much longer time than it is for an adult.
Pre-school children understand the world through very different thought processes than older children. They often fantasies about what they don’t understand and are likely to make up things from bits of their own experience. They are also often confused by time and days. A calendar showing when they will be with either parent may be helpful. They are sensitive to criticism about either parent and may perceive this as criticism of themselves.
5 – 8 years
Children in this age group are beginning to be able to talk about their feelings.
They often have an intense wish to restore their parents’ relationship and say and do things they hope will bring this about. They often want to stay at home to be near the parent with whom they spend most of their time.
Similarly, they may feel reluctant to leave the other parent at the end of a visit and may exhibit behavioral problems which are noticed by friends, teachers and parents. Children in this age group can have difficulty expressing their worries and tend to demonstrate them through their behavior which can be difficult to understand.
It may be helpful if both of you, or adult friends or relations, invite children of this age to express their emotions about the separation, particularly of their desire to get their parents back together.
You should discourage children from taking responsibility for making arrangements about contact.
8 – 12 years
Children in this age group are able to speak about their feelings. They experience a conflict of loyalty between each parent and, if the conflict between parents is high, they may try to cope by rejecting one parent or trying to keep both happy by saying negative things about one to the other. They are also beginning to experience the world outside their family. They have sporting and other interests and social commitments. When you make parenting arrangements you should take account of your children’s interests and activities. This allows them the opportunity to join in the social and sporting activities which are an important part of their development. Where possible, it would be beneficial for children to continue their activities regardless of who is caring for them.
12 – 16 years
In some respects adolescents are increasingly independent of their parents, even when parents are not separated. They need to be given time and space to work out their own reactions to their parents’ separation. If pressured by either parent, adolescents are likely to react with anger and rejection.
They particularly need flexibility in arrangements to allow them to participate in normal adolescent social activities and school events.
What is the effect of continuing disagreement over children?
Children are very sensitive to conflict between their parents. While disagreement is normal in any family, a continuation of conflict makes life very difficult for children. In fact, research shows that this is one of the critical factors affecting children’s adjustment after separation or divorce.
It is hard for children to enjoy both parents when they continue fighting after they have separated, particularly if they put the children in the middle of the conflict. Eventually, because of the stress this causes them, children may become anxious or distressed before and after staying with or visiting the other parent, or they may start having problems at school.
Children’s development can be seriously hampered by exposure to hostility and violence. Overhearing or witnessing intense conflict is harmful and places them at risk of long-term emotional and behavioral problems.
How parents can make things difficult for children following separation
When children are growing up their parents, or in some cultures members of their extended family, are the most important and powerful people in their lives. It is very easy after separation for these adults to sometimes misuse their power because they feel so hurt and angry about what has happened.
Most parents sincerely love and care about their children. But in times of intense conflict in a relationship children can become weapons against the other parent. Unfortunately, these parents do not realize the harm this is doing to their children.
Sometimes parents may be quite unaware of the more subtle things they do which affect the way their children feel about each of them. These things include putting the children in a position where they feel they have to protect their parents from hurt or choose between the people they love most.
Sometimes, instead of providing support for their children, parents expect their children to look after them and keep them happy rather than the other way round.
Separation and divorce can be extremely traumatic for children – they can see the dramatic changes in their world as a loss of care and stability.
For children up to five years old, family breakdown can be difficult to understand and the child is especially vulnerable at this age.
Older children can experience a time of confusion and uncertainty even though they are more able to understand what is happening to the family.
Ways you can help your children
When you begin to accept the separation then your children will be able to do the same – it is important that you get on with your life and not dwell in the past or hang on to any anger or bitterness.
Ensure your children know you both still love them and that this will always be the case.
Don’t criticize the other parent in front of the children.
Be positive about the other parent when talking to your children.
Give your children the clear message that it is good for them to have an ongoing relationship with both of you.
Let your children know that even though separating is upsetting, you are handling it and expect things to improve.
Be aware that children often tell you what they think you want to hear and sometimes what they say should not be taken too literally. A young boy who says, when questioned about his time with his father: “I don’t like the food my daddy gives me to eat”, may just want to reassure his mother that he likes living with her.
Talk to the other parent about your children and their interests.
Talk to your children’s teachers.
Give your children the time to think about and express their own feelings about the other parent, even if those feelings are not the same as yours.
Avoid conflict in front of your children.
Keep your children out of your arguments. Avoid asking them to give messages to the other parent.
Turn to other adults for emotional support rather than your children.
Help your children to discuss their feelings about the separation.
Reassure children that they are not to blame – sometimes when parents are fighting some of the anger is directed toward the children who may then mistakenly believe that it was because they were bad or troublesome that led to their parent’s separation.
Making decisions
Sometimes parents feel that it is best for children to make up their own minds about where they want to live. Young children are not usually ready for this responsibility as they are not generally mature enough to make this important decision. Having to make such a decision places a heavy burden on them and having to choose between their parents can lead them to feel guilty about the parent they have not chosen. Usually the best decisions about where and how the children live are those made together by the parents. However, parents should consider the feelings of their children and be willing to listen to them. Children should not be required to express a view when to do so would mean reprisal from a disappointed parent. Parents normally know their children’s needs and are usually in a better position than anyone else to make decisions about their children’s future. If parents are unable to make these decisions themselves because of conflict, family and child mediators and counsellors can help them to negotiate with each other. Mediators and counsellors can be contacted through the Family Court of Australia Mediation Service and through groups such as Relationships Australia, Centacare and Anglicare. They may assist parents who wish their children to be involved in decisions and they can help parents assess the needs of their children. If an agreement is still not possible at the talks, it then becomes necessary for the Family Court judges to make a decision.
Suggestions about making arrangements for your children
In the early stages of separation children don’t need to know details about why their parents have separated, but they do need to know where they are going to live, what school they are going to attend and when they are going to be with each parent. Some parents ‘forget’ to mention the arrangements to their children because they feel anxious about them. Even if you have some doubts about the arrangements, give them a fair go – this is the best way to start on reasonable terms with your former partner. Changes can always be made later if things aren’t working.
You will probably need to adjust the arrangements from time to time according to each child’s age, health and interests. There may be occasions when you need to change an arranged time. You should always discuss with the other parent any new arrangements. If this proves difficult, an independent family and child mediator or counsellor may be able to help you both. You may wish to set out your arrangements in a Parenting Plan, which is available as a do-it-yourself kit from the Family Court, or seek ‘consent orders’ from the Court. The Family Court can give you information about the ways in which you can formalize your arrangements without going before a judge.
One of the most difficult times is when a parent arrives to pick up or to drop off a child. Children are aware of the tension between their parents; they have already suffered the shock of one parent’s departure and may feel very insecure about further conflict or tension. As well as advance notice, parents need to give children the feeling that they are in control and know what is happening.
Keep to your arrangements and inform the other parent if you are unable to do so. Children can easily feel rejected by your unexplained failure to arrive at the expected time.
Contact visits should be pleasant, not only for the children but for both parents. They should help children maintain a positive relationship with a parent who is no longer living with them. A breakdown of this relationship can add to the grief experienced by children. Don’t attempt to discuss contentious issues at handover time or while the children are present.
It is possible that one or both parents will find other partners at some point. This can sometimes be a difficult time for everybody. Parents should feel free to introduce the children to their new partners, but not to be too anxious for the children to approve of or like this person. Take a very gradual approach. Because adjustment to new people can be stressful for the children, the relationship should be well established before children are deeply involved with a new partner
Children need time to adjust – they should not be forced to adjust to changes too quickly. On the other hand, they should not be encouraged to dictate the terms on which they will see or spend time with their other parent.
After time with the other parent, especially in the early stages, children may show distress of some kind, be irritable or withdrawn or generally behave differently when they return. The fact that they are upset does not mean they have had a bad time. Children often retain the hope that their parents will get back together and spending time with the other parent, while enjoyable in itself, can remind them that their wishes for the family to get back together are not being fulfilled. They may feel sad about having to leave one parent and go to the other even if they love both.
Children may sometimes show distress in one form or other upon returning from seeing or staying with the other parent. The distress is usually real and a calm, sympathetic response will go along way towards helping children work out their own way of coping with their parents’ separation.
It is generally better not to move children between households too close to their bed time. Nor is it wise to start an activity or outing immediately they arrive or return. Allow children time to settle in. m Visits should never be used as a way of parents checking on each other. Children need to be able to go between both households without being questioned about what is happening in the other. Children may want to talk about their other parent but they should never be ‘pumped’ for information. They should be able to feel that the love they get from each parent is unconditional and not dependent on giving right or wrong answers to one parent about the other. Children do not always fully understand why their parents needed to separate and quizzing them for information can make them feel stressed and insecure in their relationships with both parents.
Parents do not need to provide the children with a duplicate environment with regard to discipline, rules of behavior, etc. On the other hand, just as when both parents live together, it’s important to reach broad agreement on matters of discipline so that one parent does not undermine the other’s efforts. It is not uncommon even in unseparated families for there to be disagreements between parents about what is good or safe for children or other child rearing issues. Compromises on these issues frequently have to be reached. Compromise can cause anxiety for one or both parents. Give things time to settle before trying to renegotiate further changes.
The attitudes and actions of separated parents who remain in contact through their children have a lot to do with how their children will cope with the separation and the extent to which their needs can be met. Children should not be used as the go-between.
What is the Court’s view on parenting arrangements?
The Court encourages parents to make arrangements that meet the needs of the children and family.
The Court encourages families to make their own decisions and offers a range of mediation services to help them do so.
Contact with family members is considered to be the right of a child (not the right of a parent).
Where children express a view and are of sufficient maturity, their views should be considered by parents. There is no set age for this as all children and families are different.
The Court usually considers that it is in the child’s best interest to maintain contact with both parents.
Denial of contact with the other parent may have serious consequences for the child’s development.
Children need to be safe and protected from harm and the Court will make decisions based on a child’s unique circumstances.
For agreements such as Parenting Plans to work, parental cooperation is essential. Without this cooperation, parenting is bound to become difficult and cause problems for both you and your children.
As parents, you are in the best position to make decisions about your children because you know them so well. Older children usually like to play a part in the decision-making as well, so it is important to listen carefully to them when they express opinions or feelings about parenting arrangements. Family and child mediators and counsellors may be able to help you and your children discuss their needs.
When parents cannot agree, the Court will make the arrangements considered to best meet the needs of the children. Judges consider carefully the circumstances of your family before making final decisions and then it is up to both parents to follow the orders made.
An important point to remember is that most children love both parents and although they may have many feelings about the separation, in most cases they miss their parents and want to keep in contact with them.
Guidelines for parents
Give yourself, your children and your former partner time to readjust.
Try to strike a reasonable balance between time for yourself and time for your children.
Don’t feel you must overcompensate for the loss your children have suffered by giving them expensive holidays, outings, presents, etc. The best thing you can give your children at this stage is your time and yourself. Over-compensating with presents and outings is usually the result of you feeling guilty and will not help your children.
Although it may be difficult from a practical point of view, it is better not to upset your children’s routine too abruptly.
Children need stability and having to cope with too many changes at once can be very disturbing for them. Sometimes an abrupt change of environment like moving house or school cannot be avoided and, in these circumstances, it is very important that you allow extra time for yourself and the children to be together.
Relationship breakdown is always hard on children (as well as parents). But this should not stop you from telling them what is happening and why, in a way they can easily understand. However, limit the amount of detail that you tell your children. This will vary with the circumstances and with each child’s age and understanding. Be careful you don’t tell them things in order to convince them of your point of view. The point of discussing things is to reassure them and keep them informed about what is happening so that they don’t worry unnecessarily.
Remember the better parts of the relationship with your former partner and try to share them with your children.
If your children are visibly distressed you can help them by assuring them that it’s okay to cry. Sometimes they will want to talk as Guidelines for parents well as cry; at other times they may simply want to cry.
Your children may also express a lot of anger. Anger is often an expression of hurt and one way of helping is to encourage them to talk about their feelings of hurt, loss and insecurity.
Regularly tell your children that they are not to blame for the breakup and that they are not being rejected or abandoned. It is important to understand that children, especially younger ones, often mistakenly feel that something that they have done has caused the breakup. Small children live in a world which is part real and part fantasy, and they can easily believe that some secret wish of theirs may have caused one of their parents to leave.
Most people going through a separation or divorce find they need a ‘lifeline’ during the difficult times. If so, make contact with a relationship counselling or mediation organization, a self-help group or a friend whose opinion you trust. The Family Court can help you make contact with such services. You can also find services for single parents and families listed on the ‘Community Help and Welfare Services’ page at the front of your phone book; also under ‘Marriage’ in the White Pages and under ‘Counselling – Marriage, Family and Personal’ in the Yellow Pages.
Continuing bitterness and anger between separated parents is likely to damage children much more than the separation itself. To prevent this happening, it may again be helpful to talk about your feelings with someone you trust (preferably outside the family) or with a professional from one of the services mentioned.
Of course, you may feel angry with your former partner and these feelings may last some time. But remember, it is important for the development of children that they can respect both parents. Discourage your children from taking sides. A child should not be placed in the position of deciding which parent is the ‘goodie’ and which the ‘baddie’.
Separation or divorce often places financial pressure on both parents. It is important that you discourage your children from blaming the other parent for your financial circumstances.
After your separation, it is important that you continue to be consistent in your discipline of the children. Children need to know clearly what is expected of them – they feel more secure when reasonable limits are set. Don’t confuse allowing the children to express their feelings with allowing them to do whatever they like.
All children have a need and a right to…
….Love and be loved by both parents.
….Be able to enjoy the love of both parents without having excessive demands placed on them by either.
….Feel proud of both parents and to be able to respect them.
….See their parents behave towards each other with at least mutual courtesy, consideration and respect.
….Be listened to by both of their parents so that their needs are met.
Contact with both parents is considered to be the right of the child. Continuing contact with a parent not living with the child is an important part of your child’s emotional and psychological development. If anything, this contact is even more important when your child is very young. Each of you has a contribution to make to your child which the other parent cannot make up for.
Realize that in spite of your separation you still share common goals for your children. Both of you hope that your children will grow to be mature, well-balanced, secure, happy and successful people. These are goals which you share even though you are separated – the problems which occur on the way to achieving these goals will be your common problems. Your children will benefit greatly if, when problems arise, you are able to cooperate with each other or, at the very least, not use every problem to score points against each other.
Children should be able to feel that both parents are positive about their time with the other parent. The enjoyment and benefits children can receive from seeing their parents will be enhanced if they feel the arrangements have the approval and support of both of you. When collecting or returning your children try, where possible, to spend a few minutes in casual conversation with each other, perhaps over a cup of coffee. If you cannot do this then at least avoid any outward show of conflict.
Most children desperately want to stay friends with both parents. For many children who want nothing more than to live happily with both parents, visits may remind them that this is not happening. Emotional scenes are therefore quite common at the beginning or end of visits, but they usually happen less often once a regular routine has been established. Try to cooperate with each other to make parenting arrangements as positive and enjoyable as possible and to minimize any stress to your children.
Keeping in regular contact with both parents can help your children deal with the fears, fantasies, and emotional upset caused by the separation. If your children have a good relationship with both of you, they will want to involve both of you in their lives for many years to come. And there may be times when they wish to involve you both in the same event or function, such as parents’ days at school, special birthdays, and watching them at sport. It will be easier for your children to maintain a close relationship with you both if you show courtesy and consideration toward each other.



50 Ways to Bring Out Your Child’s Best

by Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D.


Richard loved to tinker with mechanical devices.  As a 6-year-old, he took apart an alarm clock. At 9, he helped his dad fix the lawn mower.  In high school, he spent hours tearing apart and rebuilding stereo equipment.  Now, as a young adult, he’s a sound technician for a professional theater company. Richard’s parents encouraged his interests at an early age, which helped him become a successful adult.  However, Richard was never labeled as “gifted.” In fact, he had trouble with math in school. The definition of “the gifted child” has traditionally been based on school-related skills and limited to the upper 5 to 10 percent of children who achieve high test scores, write well and excel academically.  These are certainly important, but there may be hundreds of other ways for children to show their gifts.  “Today’s intelligence researchers emphasize that nearly all children-not just the celebrated 5 percent-have special talents, “says David G. Myers, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Hope College in Holland, Michigan.  Studies at Harvard University bear this out, suggesting that kids can display intelligence in many different ways-through words, numbers, music,pictures, athletic or “hands-on” abilities, and social or emotional development. As an anonymous observer once said: “All children are gifted, some just open their packages later than others.  “You can play a crucial role in awakening latent talents or developing current strengths through experiences you give your child at home.  Here are 50 ways for you to bring out your child’s best, regardless of how his gifts are packaged:

1.  Let your child discover her own interests.  Pay attention the activities she chooses. This free-time play can say a lot about where her gifts lie.
2.  Expose your child to a broad spectrum of experiences.   They may activate latent talents. Don’t assume that he isn’t gifted in an area because he hasn’t shown an interest.
3.  Give your child permission to make mistakes.  If she has to do things perfectly, she’ll never take the risks necessary to discover and develop a gift.
4.  Ask questions.  Help your child open up to he wonders of the world by asking intriguing questions: Why is the sky blue?  Find the answers together.
5.  Plan special family projects.  Shared creativity can awaken and develop new talents.
6.  Don’t pressure your child to learn.  If children are sent to special lessons every day in the hope of developing their gifts, they may become too stressed or exhausted to shine.  Encourage, but don’t push.
7.  Have high expectations.  But make them realistic.
8.  Share your work life.  Expose your child to images of success by taking him to work. Let him see you engaged in meaningful activities and allow him to become involved.
9.  Provide a sensory-rich environment.  Have materials around the home that will stimulate the senses: finger paints, percussion instruments, and  puppets.
10. Keep your own passion for learning alive.  Your child will be influenced by your example.
11. Don’t limit your child with labels.  They may saddle her with a reputation that doesn’t match her inner gifts.
12. Play games together as a family.
13. Have a regular family time for reading, listening to music, talking.
14. Have reference materials available to give your child access to the world.
15. Allow your child to participate in community activities that interest her.
16. Use humor, jokes, silly stories to encourage creativity.
17. Don’t criticize or judge the things your child does.   He may give up on his talents if he feels evaluated.
18. Play with your child to show your own sense of playfulness.
19. Share your successes as a family.  Talk about good things that happened during the day to enhance self-esteem.
20. Provide your child with access to a home, school or public library computer.
21. Listen to your child.  The things he cares about most may provide clues to his special talents.
22. Give your child a special space at home to be creative.
23. Praise your child’s sense of responsibility at home when she completes assigned chores.
24. Visit new places as a family.
25. Give your child open-ended playthings.  Toys like blocks and puppets encourage imaginative play.
26. Give your child unstructured time to simply daydream and wonder.
27. Share inspirational stories of people who succeeded in life.
28. Don’t bribe your child with rewards.  Using incentives to get children to perform sends a message that learning is not rewarding in its own right
29. Suggest that your child join peer groups that focus on her gifts.
30. Discuss the news to spark interests.
31. Discourage gender bias.  Expose your child to both feminine and masculine toys and activities.
32. Avoid comparing your child to others.  Help your child compare himself to his own past performance.
33. Be an authoritative parent.
34. Use community events and institutions to activate interests.  Take trips to the library, museums, concerts, plays.
35. Give presents that nourish your child’s strengths.
36. Encourage your child to think about her future.   Support her visions without directing her into any specific field.
37. Introduce your child to interesting and capable people.
38. Think of your home as a learning place.  The kitchen is great for teaching math and science through cooking.
39. Share feelings.  A child’s gifts can be stifled by repressed emotions.
40. Encourage your child to read.
41. Honor your child’s creations.
42. Do things with your child in his areas of interest.
43. Teach your child to trust her intuition and believe in her capabilities.
44. Give your child choices.  It builds willpower and fuels initiative.
45. Show your child how to use books to further an interest.   For example, “how to” books for the “hands-on” learner.
46. Set aside an area of the house for displaying creations and awards.
47. Encourage your child to tackle areas that are difficult for him.  Help him learn to confront any limitations.
48. Be a liaison between your child’s special talents and the real world.  Help her find outlets for her talents.
49. Introduce children’s literature that honors and develops gifts.  Books like the Little Engine That could encourage a “can do” attitude.
50. Accept your child as he or she is.






Why Having Fun with Family is Important


Messies and Cleanies
There are two kinds of mothers in this world: cleanies and messies. Your ability to have fun is going to be directly related to which category you fall in. Many times “fun” means “mess”. This is the first reality we have to come to grips with if we are going to have fun. When my friend Cathy splashes in the puddles with the kids, there is certainly going to be a mess. Wet, and maybe even muddy, clothes will have to be attended to. Showers or baths may be in order. If we don’t have the right perspective, this will feel like an interruption to our day. The right perspective, though, is that it is an essential part of our day. Having fun with our children is part of being a mom. And dealing with messes is sometimes a part of having fun.
I fall into the “cleanie” category. The prospect of messes far too often keeps me from having fun with my children. I have come a long way over the years, but I still have more to grow in this area. I’m way too practical at times when I need to be spontaneous. God has been working with me on this one – a project I know my kids are glad he is doing. I certainly don’t want to look back, after my children are gone, and say, “I wish I had loosened up. I wish I’d had more fun.” I want to do that now, while I can make the change and make a difference in my kids’ lives.
Spontaneous Fun
Sometimes spontaneous fun happens when we maximize the moments. Cathy called the other day and invited our ten-year-old daughter to her home. Her eight-year-old daughter was having a private garage sale just for a few friends. She had cleaned out her room, priced her items, and was ready to host this special event. Cathy was surprised at her daughter’s business enterprise, but decided to make the most of the occasion. She helped Rein set up the sale on their Ping-Pong table in the basement and ordered pizza for the girls who were attending this private sale. Opportunities for fun happen on a regular basis – as mothers, we choose to either maximize the moments or minimize the fun.
Family Fun
Family fun is an important part of building a strong family identity. When families have fun together, it builds a bond that can last a lifetime. Traditions are often developed in times of fun. Those traditions help define and individualize each family.
At the Savage household, we have a tradition of fun called “surprise rides”. This started when the older children were small, and we wanted to surprise them with a spontaneous activity. It might be ice cream at our favorite ice cream parlor, a spontaneous trip to the park, or a matinee showing of a new family movie. Whatever it is, thought, the anticipation is the best part of the fun. From the time Mark and I yell, “Surprise ride,” and everyone rushes to get in the car, until the time that we arrive at our surprise destination, the excitement increases. As the kids have gotten older, they have often suggested surprise rides. Of course they’re not really a surprise that way (unless your teenager is driving you somewhere!), but the suggestion alone says, “Let’s have some fun together as a family.” It has given us common ground and shared vocabulary that lends to family fun.
Holidays also provide opportunities for fun that may develop into special traditions. Several years ago I served dinner backwards on April Fools’ Day (dessert first!). It was a fun evening that started a new tradition. Each April 1 has been dubbed “Backwards Day” ever since.
Families need to recreate together. We need to have unstructured times of togetherness. I’m not talking about watching TV together – I’m talking about a pick-up game of basketball, playing cards, or just sitting out on the porch talking and laughing together. Camping, fishing, biking, and hiking are great times of family recreation. As moms, we must take the initiative and make these things happen. We have to be available, and we have to value having fun together. As we spend time together in both spontaneous and planned activities, we will find our family relationships growing stronger.
Birthday Fun
The night before a birthday is spent preparing for a special breakfast. After the birthday person goes to bed, the table is set with birthday plates, cups, and napkins. The family presents are placed in the center of the table. Later, we quietly slip into their room and hang balloons and streamers. When the birthday girl or boy awakes in the morning, the room reflects his or her special day. As we move downstairs to the breakfast table, the best part of the celebration takes place: cake and ice cream for breakfast! Yes, I know it flunks all the tests for a healthy breakfast, but it stands the test of time for building family fun. It is certainly a favorite activity of our family, and with six people in our family it means six times a year we eat cake and ice cream for breakfast!
Our birthday celebrations have become treasured traditions for our family, special memories that Mark and I realize can only be enjoyed when the children are home. We only have a short season to fully enjoy these traditions and times of fun, for far too soon our children will be grown and creating traditions of their own.



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Setting Limits: The Child Who Blames Everyone But Himself


Now and then teachers run into a child who consistently blames other people—children or adults—for his own misdemeanors. In my experience, the cause is usually one or two of these reasons:
The child, like all young children, like all adults, yearns for approval. Because the child feels that the adult will not approve if he acknowledges that he did something wrong, he denies it. It’s obvious to him that someone must have done it, so he names someone else as the culprit.
What you can do:
Avoid accusing. Instead, you might say, “I see you made a mistake. We all make mistakes sometimes. Next time please remember …”
Avoid confronting the child and requiring him to respond. State the reality in a matter-of-fact tone and move on. If you try to discuss the subject, a child like Bobbie will argue with you; then you’ll express disapproval of his behavior, increasing his wish to blame someone else! Simply put the truth into words and change the subject: “Bobbie, you need to remember not to touch the grown-ups’ scissors, because they’re too sharp. Are you going to cut some more with these child scissors, or would you like the markers now?”
Be generous with compliments, as well as cautious when it comes to criticism. The child who feels approved of and warmly appreciated is not likely to fear disapproval so much that he can’t accept responsibility for his actions.
The child is not accustomed to accepting responsibility for his behavior because adults close to him have made and are still making excuses for him. These can be expressed in a number of ways: “Oh, he’s tired.” “He’s been sick.” “His brother always makes him do that.”
What you can do:
Be empathetic yet encourage personal responsibility. Here are some examples: “I guess you’re very tired today, but you need to (do/not do whatever it is) anyway.” “I think you’re feeling a little bit sick today. It’s hard to cooperate (with the rules) when you don’t feel well, but you need to (do/not do whatever it is) even when you feel sick.” “Yes, I see that Joanna is pestering you, but you hit her. Joanna didn’t make you hit your own self hit. You’re in charge of your arm: Don’t let it hit anyone.”
The child rarely experiences negative consequences when his behavior is unacceptable because his parents endlessly negotiate with him. Have you ever seen a child sit, whining, while an adult scrambles to find a suitable solution (“Would you rather have this one? That one? Me sit here? Me sit there?”). Kind, cooperative parents and teachers try to be accommodating, but at some (sensible!) point, we set limits. And there are consequences (logical, if possible) for unacceptable behavior.
What you can do:
Be fair, but ensure that something less than desirable results from wrong actions. For instance, you could say, “Listen to my words. You can choose to keep on whining, or you can choose to go over there. But you can’t choose to stay where you are and whine. It bothers my ears.” Then you need to enforce what you say.
The child has been so overcontrolled at home—and maybe at school too—that he doesn’t feel In control of his own behavior. This child expects others to discipline him, so he isn’t developing self-discipline. In order to learn to control his impulses, a child must be given a certain amount of freedom to govern himself.
What you can do:
Give children more control of themselves and their learning community. This includes enough chances to make meaningful choices, enough opportunities to discuss plans and problems that affect the group, enough invitations to participate in making significant decisions, and enough time and guidance to process instances of mistaken behavior and to help one another see the wisdom of controlling their own impulses.
When a child blames others for his own inappropriate behavior, as you say your Bobbie often does, I would think of each of the above four possible causes in relation to the individual child to determine which ones fit. I would then tailor my teaching style accordingly.



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Boundaries in Dating – Say No to Disrespect


Respect is a necessary element for any couple to grow in love. Each person needs to feel that they are respected by the person they are getting to know. This involves creating boundaries in dating where both parties have esteem or regard for all aspects of the other. Respect is different from empathy, though any relationship needs both to be hand-in-hand.
Empathy is the ability to feel another’s experience, especially painful ones. Respect is the ability to value another’s experience. You may not be able to actually empathize with someone, but you can always take a position of respect for them. For example, a guy may restrain himself from pushing his girlfriend sexually for either reason. He may feel deep compassion for the dilemma he is putting her in. Or he may restrain himself because he respects her right to make her own moral decisions. Relationships develop best when both empathy and respect are in place.
When respect is present, the other person feels that he can be free to be who he is. He can be honest, and still feel connected and safe. He doesn’t worry that he will be attacked, humiliated, or treated poorly. When respect is absent, many people will find themselves controlled, neglected, or injured by someone who doesn’t care about their needs or feelings.

If you desire to be respected, you are not asking to be treated special. Respect is not worship. It has more to do with being treated as you would like to be treated, which is Jesus’ Golden Rule (see Matthew 7:12). It means things like the following:
Your opinion is heard and valued.
Your differences and disagreeing are validated.
Your choices are esteemed, even the wrong ones.
Your feelings are regarded.
When you are wrong, you are confronted respectfully, not talked down to nor babied.

Disrespect flourishes when someone values their own desires above their date’s. They may not be actively trying to hurt the other. Instead, the other person’s feelings, freedom, or needs get trampled or ignored because of how intent their date is on having their own way. Disrespect tends to be more self-centered than malicious in nature, though that does occur also.

Building boundaries in dating situations means that a couple needs to know that their feelings, needs, and freedom are respected. When someone is uncomfortable in a sexual situation, or is hurt by a sarcastic remark, or becomes angry with a broken promise, that is a signal that something is going on. The other person needs to take those feelings seriously. The couple needs to talk about what triggered this, and solve the problem.
Disrespect may come out in several ways, and it usually involves some violation of freedom in one of seven ways:
1. Dominating: The other person won’t hear “no” from her date. When he disagrees, she intimidates, threatens, or rages. She is offended by her date’s freedom to choose. For example, a woman may want her boyfriend to spend lots of time with her. When he tells her he’d prefer to do other things, she may disrespect his freedom by becoming angry and telling him their relationship will be jeopardized.
2. Withdrawal: One person pulls away when the other exercises some freedom or difference. He may isolate, sulk, or be silent. But he is passively punishing his date for her differentness. For example, a woman might want to go out with the girls on a night that her boyfriend wants to be with her. While he doesn’t complain, he also doesn’t call or talk to her for a while. He is showing her that he doesn’t respect her freedom.
3. Manipulating: One person shows disrespect by subtle stratagems designed to make the other person change his mind. A woman may cry or nag to get her boyfriend to help her paint her apartment when he doesn’t have the time.
4. Direct violation: The person disrespects by continuing the same hurtful action, even after being asked not to. A man might chronically cancel dates at the last moment. Even though she tells him how much this bothers her, he keeps doing it.
5. Minimizing: One person says the other person’s negative feelings are simply an overreaction.
6. Blaming: A man talks about a problem, but the woman indicates that he himself caused the problem. For example, a man will tell his girlfriend that it hurts when she makes fun of him in public. She might respond with, “If you would pay more attention to me, I wouldn’t have to resort to that.”
7. Rationalizing: The other person denies responsibility for whatever caused the problem. For example, the chronically late date excuses the hurt his girlfriend feels by saying, “I understand your feelings, but it was the freeway traffic, not me.”
Respecting someone doesn’t mean that you agree with them. Nor does it mean that you will comply with what they want. It means that their feelings matter because those emotions belong to a person who matters. Listen to, understand, and try to help the situation.




4 Signs of Single Parent Burnout You Should Never Ignore
Make Taking Care of Yourself a High Priority


1.  Screaming at your kids
We all raise our voices from time to time, but screaming to the point of losing your voice is another story. When you find yourself ‘losing it’ in this way, take note of whether you’re ignoring a need of your own that you need to pay more attention to. Perhaps it’s time to call in some reinforcements from your support network or find a babysitter and give yourself an evening off. If those aren’t possible, then take one night a week and push yourself to get the kids to bed earlier than usual—and then use those extra minutes of ‘free time’ to do something that fuels you.

  Parenting on auto-pilot
Interacting with your kids on auto-pilot all the time is an indication that you need to stop and press the ‘restart’ button. In part, because being on auto-pilot robs you of opportunities to connect in ways that make the hard work you’re doing feel worth it. But also because being constantly preoccupied—to the point where you’re not able to pay attention in the present—is when accidents tend to occur. To end the cycle, force yourself to slow down and really be  present with your kids when you’re together. Small things like making eye contact when you’re answering a question, or turning off the TV in the background, can help you be more present mentally. Once you begin to remove yourself from the auto-pilot rush, pay attention to what it feels like to be more present with your kids and what changes, if any, you notice in their behavior.

Feeling overwhelming resentment
For many single parents, burnout begins with resentment. And, certainly, you may feel at times like you have a lot to feel resentful about. Instead of ignoring that feeling, you need a way to process it—so it’s not constantly simmering in the background, making you ready to boil over at any moment. For starters, try writing in a journal or sharing your feelings with a trusted friend.

Withdrawing from others
A more serious warning sign of single parent burnout is withdrawal. This is when you just don’t want to be around anyone, including your kids and the people who love you. This happens to everyone now and then, but if you’re noticing that the urge to withdraw has become constant, or is accompanied by the urge to self-medicate with alcohol or numbing behaviors, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor. 



Normal teenage behavior vs. early warning signs of mental illness
By Jaimie Byrne

It is not uncommon for parents to wonder whether their child is acting like a normal teenager or behaving differently due to mental illness, drug use or behavioral difficulties. Normal teenagers are often moody due to hormonal and physical changes that happen during puberty. However, when mental illness is involved, it may be difficult to differentiate “normal teenage behavior” from the symptoms of depression, anxiety and other emotional difficulties.
Teenagers may be short-tempered and get angry easily, especially when they begin to naturally separate from the family and feel they do not have enough distance or privacy. The natural process of separation begins in early adolescence; this is when parents see that their child begins to be embarrassed by them and spends increasing amounts of time with friends and very little time with the family. You may be worried that your teenager spends hours on end on the computer or locked in his or her room chatting on the phone and gets defensive when asked what he or she is doing or who he or she is talking to. This type of behavior is normal. Teenagers need to naturally separate in order to gain their independence in early adulthood and often react defensively in order to attain this goal. During this time, you should be able to see that even though your teenager may cringe at spending quality time with the family, he or she is still able to enjoy time with friends and engage in healthy social and extracurricular activities outside of the home. If you see that your teen is not engaging in other activities or with friends and is chronically disconnected, angry and sad, this is when the behavior becomes abnormal and requires intervention.

Along with the teenage years comes drama. This is a phase of new experiences, and what may seem like a small affair to an adult may be a big deal for a teenager experiencing it for the first time. Teens may be distraught when they are having difficulty with girlfriends/boyfriends or when fighting with a friend, when they do not do well on a test or even for not having the right thing to wear to school one day. Teenagers are often oversensitive and self-conscious and have not developed adequate coping tools to appropriately deal with events such as these. Therefore you may notice that your teenager experiences episodes of sadness, anxiety, frustration and feelings of being overwhelmed. These episodes should not last more than a few days at most; if these feelings are continual and your teen is chronically anxious or sad, then you should speak to him or her about your concerns and consult your family doctor to see if there may be a more serious problem than normal teenage angst.

It can be difficult to tell the difference between symptoms of mental illness and normal problems that all teenagers experience from time to time. If you begin to worry that your teenager may be suffering in silence or acting in a way that is concerning, but not enough to call the doctor, you may want to talk to other parents or organizations to compare your teen’s behavior to those of his or her peers.
Often as adults we compare our teen’s behavior to that of our own at that age. This can be anxiety provoking for many parents due to the changes in today’s social norms. Teens these days are engaging in sex, drugs and alcohol at a much earlier age. Parents often panic when they find out that their 15-year-old is already having sex or has started drinking socially. If all of your teen’s friends, classmates and colleagues are engaging in this behavior then you have a good sense that although you do not approve or support it, this behavior is “normal” and there is less of a possibility that mental illness is present. If you find that your son or daughter is out of the norm, then you may have reason for concern and should contact your family doctor. Here are some things that you may observe in your teen that will help to decipher the difference between mental illness and normal teenage behavior.
Some concerning behaviors
• Decrease in enjoyment and time spent with friends and family
• Significant decrease in school performance
• Strong resistance to attending school or absenteeism
• Problems with memory, attention or concentration
• Big changes in energy levels, eating or sleeping patterns
• Physical symptoms (stomach aches, headaches, backaches)
• Feelings of hopelessness, sadness, anxiety, crying often
• Frequent aggression, disobedience or lashing out verbally
• Excessive neglect of personal appearance or hygiene
• Substance abuse
• Dangerous or illegal thrill-seeking behavior
• Is overly suspicious of others
Sees or hears things that others do not
*It’s important to remember that no one sign means that there is a problem. It’s important to examine the: nature, intensity, severity and duration of a problem.

Know who your teenager is
Although your child is growing up and changing rapidly, as his or her parent you are in the best position to know who your child is. You have raised your child with values, beliefs and a set of guidelines to work from; you know when your child is acting out of character and when he or she is having difficulty. Trust your instincts and don’t be afraid to act on them. Even though your teenager may give you attitude when you ask him or her what’s wrong, asking on occasion lets him or her know that you care and that if he or she wants to talk, you are open to it.
Pride and denial can often get in our way of accepting that there is a problem with our child. As parents we have dreams and hopes for our children and we begin to see them come together in the teenage years as the adult personality emerges. Often teens who are intelligent, talented and creative become ill just as they are becoming mature enough to use these skills in a productive way. This can be earth-shattering for parents and makes it very easy to deny that a problem exists. Ignoring the problem does not make it go away and can contrarily make the problem worse. As with any illness, not getting the appropriate treatment prolongs the symptoms, which will likely get worse with time. Being open, honest and non-judgmental with your teenager about his or her difficulties will help you to be more in tune with his or her needs and facilitate a trusting relationship between the two of you.

Talking to your teen about your concerns
If you have major concerns about your teen’s behavior and moods, it is very important to have a conversation with him or her about it. Try to identify specific concerns, i.e., “I’ve noticed that you haven’t really been going out much lately and you don’t answer the phone when your friends call.” Or “I can’t help but notice that you haven’t been eating much at dinner and your stomach aches have been getting worse.” Your teen will most likely not want to talk about it, but give him or her enough space and time to respond. Let him or her know that you are there to help and that you can work out the difficulties together. Seek help from a family doctor or local CLSC, who can evaluate your child and offer the appropriate services.
It is never easy to start a conversation with someone about mental illness, but the following tips offer a way to lessen tension during the discussion.
• Speak in a calm voice.
• Say what you mean and be prepared to listen.
• Try not to interrupt the other person.
• Avoid sarcasm, whining, threats and yelling.
• Don’t make personal attacks or be demeaning.
• Don’t assume your answer is the only answer.
• Try not to use words such as “always” or “never.”
• Deal with the now, not the past.
• Don’t try to get the last word.
• If things get too heated, take a break and come back to the discussion later.
• Make allowances for the other person.
• Parents: Remember what it was like to be a teen.
• Teen: Remember that parents frequently react strongly because they know the stakes are high.
• Acknowledge that you are in this together.
The teenage years can be the most difficult for a parent. During this time, there are many changes that make it difficult to know how and when to intervene with your teen. It may even be difficult to identify when there is a problem and when your teen is just being a teen. Listen to your instincts and get involved. Ask questions and take action if you feel that your teen is not doing well. Early intervention is the key to success; prolonging the problem may lead to more difficulties.





Here are 10 of the most common mistakes couples make when dealing with money.

1. Not talking enough about finances
There’s a time and place for everything, but it’s often difficult to find the right time and place to talk money.
Some couples benefit from scheduling a time to talk about money matters, just like they would for a date night or business meeting. Other couples might choose to set a monetary limit that would initiate a conversation: Let’s say, for example, they decide purchases under $500 are discretionary but spending money over that amount warrants a discussion.
Find what works for you and your spouse and commit to it. It might not be the most enjoyable way to spend time together, but you’ll thank yourselves later.
2. Thinking you can buy love
If you think splurging on a new diamond ring or luxury car will help improve your marriage, think again.
A Brigham Young University study found couples with two materialistic spouses were worse off on nearly every measure. Following behind were couples with one materialistic spouse.
Couples who claimed money was not important to them, however, were lucky in love: They scored 10 to 15 percent better on marriage stability and other measures of relationship quality than couples with one or two materialistic spouses.
Interestingly, it didn’t matter how much money they had, but how much value they put on money. In the study, couples who were better off financially but admitted to having “a strong love of money” found that money was a bigger source of conflict.
3. Ignoring conflicting spending habits
Scholars have found that individuals gravitate toward spouses who look, sound, and act as they do – except when it comes to money, according to surveys conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, University of Michigan, and Northwestern University.
Penny pinchers and reckless spenders tend to marry the other, but these couples report unhappier marriages than those in which both spouses had similar spending habits, the studies revealed.
Disparity in spending can be manageable, but if issues aren’t addressed, research says this could increase your likelihood of divorce. The Utah State University study found individuals who feel their spouse spends money foolishly reported lower levels of marital happiness and gauged their likelihood of divorce at 45 percent.
4. Not agreeing on how to divide money
Whether you have joint or separate accounts – or both – doesn’t really matter. What does is whether your financial plan is the right one for your marriage.
This comes down to you and your spouse’s spending habits and money values. If you’re unnecessarily stressing about small, day-to-day purchases, for example, it might be better to put part of your finances in separate accounts – so you’re less likely to question your spouse’s every buy. If you work better as a team knowing where all your money is and where it’s going at all times, then merged accounts could be better.
5. Taking on too much debt
About 76 percent of Americans admit money is a significant source of stress in their lives, according to an American Psychological Association report.
There’s nothing more stressful about money than debt – especially the high-interest, hard-to-pay-off kind. If there’s debt hanging overhead that’s threatening to come between you, read stories like A Simple System to Destroy Debt and focus on paying it off – together.
6. Hiding purchases or debts
Eighty percent of married couples hide some purchases from their spouse, according to a survey by nonprofit CESI Debt Solutions – with men admitting they’re more likely to routinely cover up their spending.

The survey revealed 30 percent of respondents view financial infidelity as being just as harmful as sexual infidelity. What’s more, 79 percent of married respondents were more likely to confess about their financial infidelity to a friend than their spouse.
7. Lending or borrowing money from family
In our recent story The 7 Dumbest Ways to Borrow Money, we explained that borrowing money from family comes with major strings attached. After all, you’re risking your relationship if the deal goes bad.
These waters are even more treacherous for married couples. Rule of thumb: Whether it’s borrowing or lending, the fewer in-laws involved, the better.
Of course, with the right scenarios, borrowing money from or lending it to family can be a success. But proceed with caution: Consider drafting a legal document to ensure everyone’s on the same page, and resist splurging on luxury items while you still owe family members money.
8. Believing you need to split up financial responsibilities traditionally
Traditional roles suggest that women manage the day-to-day finances, like balancing the checkbook and paying the utility bills, and men typically handle investing and financial planning. But traditional isn’t always best.
A better option: Recognize each other’s individual strengths and divvy up the financial tasks accordingly. You want the best candidate for the job, regardless of what other couples do or used to do.
9. Failing to recognize that money matters carry emotional weight
Compared with disagreements over any other topic, research shows financial disagreements last longer, are more salient to couples, and generate more negative conflict tactics, such as yelling.
Money conflicts in marriage particularly affect men. Research suggests that since they are socialized to be providers, men tend to take financial conflict harder than women.
10. Not enjoying your money together
Money doesn’t always have to be a source of stress or conflict. It can also be a source of pleasure. Some of my happiest memories with my husband wouldn’t have been possible without us spending money – on things like exploring Italy, or taking our daughter on her first trip to Florida.
In fact, research indicates that spending money on new experiences, like concert tickets or a wine tasting, produces longer-lasting satisfaction than spending money on material possessions. Experiences bring us happiness not only when we’re experiencing them, but also whenever we reflect back on them as memories.
Fond memories, after all, usually turn out to be one of the most valuable assets in a marriage.






Guilt Parenting

In order to help the family unit run smoother and for the better emotional health of all the family members we need healthy boundaries. Breaking boundaries does a disservice to everyone involved, even if the broken boundary feels good at the time. The results that broken boundaries brings in the long run can be devastating to a family or an individual.

One harmful outcome of having broken boundaries is guilt parenting. This can happen with both a mother and a father, it can happen in nuclear families as well as blended families. It is more common than it used to be in nuclear families since both parents usually work and parents may feel guilty about that. It happens a lot in blended families in both the cases of the custodial parent and the non-custodial parent, although it is more common with non-custodial parents.

WHAT IS GUILT PARENTING? Guilt parenting is when a parent chooses to parent his or her children out of guilt or fear rather than doing what is right or best. It can take on many shapes and forms and usually involves rewarding poor behavior and the guilty parent has many excuses. A guilty parent may feel guilty about not seeing his or her child every day, about putting the child through a divorce, a new marriage or a new sibling, about moving the child from a place they are familiar with, or many other reasons. A guilty parent may be afraid of losing the child — he or she may be afraid the child won’t want to come visit anymore or that the child won’t like the parent or think the parent is cool.

Another aspect of guilt parenting is that the parent can only see what is right in front of him or her. He sees his child is upset and feels guilty or fearful and reacts to these feelings rather than what is best for the child and the entire family. If the parent really wants what is best for the child and the family she will need to step back and look at the big picture. What is this teaching my child? How is this helping or hurting my child’s future? How will this make the other children in the family feel? What does my spouse think of this?

HOW CAN YOU RECOGNIZE GUILT PARENTING? As already mentioned it can take many shapes and forms, there are probably as many different ways to guilt parent as there are guilty parents. An obvious example is when a child wants something and starts to throw a fit or start crying and the parent gives the child what they want. Another example is if a child starts yelling at or bossing the parent, the parent complies with the child as if the child were the parent and the parent were the child. If a child is given more of a say in household matters than the adults that is a good sign of guilt parenting. Often a parent who guilt parents will give the child equal or top say in how things are run in the home. Buying presents for the child on an unusually frequent basis is another symptom of guilt parenting. One guilty dad used to take his child shopping every time that he picked her up for a visit, which was 1-2x a week.

You will often hear many excuses for guilt parenting. Here are some, but certainly not all, excuses that you will hear: “I just want her to feel at home here,” “I want her to know how much I love her,” “I don’t want him thinking that I am mean,” “I don’t want him to not want to come and visit anymore,” “I have to protect my child,” etc. If you are the spouse you are likely to hear the following: “You hate my child!” “You don’t care about my child!” “You are out to get my child!” “You don’t want my child to have anything good!” “You don’t want my child to be a part of this family” etc. If you have children, too, you will likely feel that it is his children versus your children. Often the guilty parent will come across as having a strong victim mentality, nothing is their fault or the child’s fault.

WHY IS GUILT PARENTING BAD? It is bad for many reasons, one reason being that it rewards bad behavior and teaches the child that they get what they want through manipulation. Imagine a child who is used to getting their way by throwing fits or bullying others, what do you think life will be like for that child when they are grown up? When they get a job they will expect the boss to jump in and give him or her what s/he wants once they start to throw a fit or bully co-workers. In a romantic relationship the child will expect the same things. As the old saying goes: “What a mom doesn’t mind doing, a wife surely will!”

The parent who guilt parents is setting their child up for a very difficult adulthood. One of the main jobs of parents is to teach children how the world works and what reality is like. A child who was guilt parented is at a severe disadvantage because the world will not give the child everything that they want when they want it. The child will end up going from job to job and relationship to relationship unsatisfied with life. They may even end up in jail if they think they can get what they want by bullying others. What children need more than presents and rewards is a parent who is both strong and loving, one who can set firm and loving boundaries.

Aside from what guilt parenting does to the child guilt parenting is extremely destructive to the marriage and family. I have never met or heard of any spouse of a guilty parent who is happy with the situation. When a parent chooses to guilt parent they are putting the imagined needs of the child ahead of the real needs of the marriage and family. This is extremely destructive to the family unit as well as to the child. Guilt parenting makes the other members of your family (spouse, your spouse’s children, children that you have had with your spouse) feel like you care more about the child that you are guilt parenting. This leads to resentment and a loss of respect for you. Your other family members also feel like your child has more control over the house than anyone else because you let the child’s mood and behaviors run the household. The breaks down communication, trust and love all of which are necessary for a healthy family.

HOW CAN WE BREAK THE CYCLE? If you are guilty of guilt parenting then acknowledging it is a great first step. Once you realize that you need to change your behavior for the betterment of your child and your family and marriage you will need to be on the lookout for ways that you guilt parent and what triggers you to guilt parent. Learning about healthy boundaries is great step to take as well, looking up articles online and buying books will help you to learn about appropriate boundaries. If you are truly serious about changing, ask your spouse what they think you need to change — because they are the one who has been living with you and has seen your guilt parenting like nobody else!

If you are the spouse of a guilty parent, you have your work cut out for you — even if they admit that they guilt parent and need to change. You can do some things to help your spouse change his or her ways, even if they don’t think they have a problem. Be prepared that it will take work and patience on your part, but it can be done! You can help by kindly pointing out what the long-term effects of guilt parenting is doing to their child. You will also have to go out of your way to show your spouse that you care about his child and that you really do want what is best for the child. Likely, you are very sensitive to the effects of the guilt parenting and have built strong boundaries around yourself to protect yourself from the situation. You will need to loosen up some of those boundaries in order to do the things listed above.


Strong Fathers Building Strong Kids



US Military Enlistment Standards – Single Parents


Single Parents are not allowed to enlist in the US Military, period. Except for the Army National Guard, waiver approvals are very, very, very rare, and most recruiters won’t even submit one. In the “old days,” some recruits would try to get around this restriction by giving up legal custody of their child(ren) until after basic training and job school, but the military has wised up to this practice.

For example, in the Marine Corps, one must give up legal custody (by court order) of their child(ren), and then wait one year or more before being eligible for enlistment. For Navy enlistments, the waiting period is six months and the court order must make it very plain that the transfer of custody is permanent.
In the Army and Air Force, single member parent applicants who, at the time of initial processing for enlistment, indicate they have a child or children in the custody of the other parent or another adult are advised and required to acknowledge by certification that their intent at the time of enlistment was not to enter the Air Force/Army with the express intention of regaining custody after enlistment. These applicants must execute a signed statement testifying they have been advised that, if they regain custody during their term of enlistment, they will be in violation of the stated intent of their enlistment contract.

They may be subject to involuntary separation for fraudulent entry unless they can show cause, such as the death or incapacity of the other parent or custodian, or their marital status changes from single to married.
The military’s refusal to accept single parents for enlistment is a valid one. The military is no place for a single parent.

Due to a divorce, I spent the last six years of my military career as a single parent, and it is the singularly most difficult thing I have ever done in my life. In the military, the mission always comes first. Absolutely no exceptions are made in assignments, deployments, duty hours, time off, or any other factor for single parents. Single parents in the military are required to have a nonmilitary person (in the local area) on call at all times, 24-hours-per-day, seven-days-per-week, 365 days-per-year, who will agree (in writing) to take custody of their child(ren) at no notice, in the event that the military member is deployed or called to duty. Failure to comply with these “Family Care Plans” can (and does) result in an immediate discharge.
In general, an applicant who has joint physical custody of a child by court order or agreement, and the applicant does not have a spouse, he/she is considered a “single parent.” If a local or state court allows modification, if the other parent assumes full custody, the applicant is usually qualified for enlistment.

In the Army National Guard, a single parent may enlist if they receive a waiver from the State Adjutant General of the state that individual is enlisting.





My meow is louder than your meow


Sometimes, a catfight with another mom happens without anyone even noticing. No scratching, no biting, no high-pitched yelps that make you want to rip your eyes out. These are the one-upping disagreements that some moms are experts at starting — the subtle “my kid is better than your kid” digs that get moms going, big time. There’s nothing worse than having another mom brag about their own child at the expense of yours and when it comes from a mom who is also a friend, those passive-aggressive cat scratches can leave deep scars.

Let’s face it, we have all been in the room with a parent who brags excessively about his or her child’s achievements. As parents, we may sometimes feel elation as our children meet and surpass milestones, but when does bragging become a problem? More importantly, can it alienate other parents?
There are moments when I wonder if I am that woman — the one who boasts about her children so much that she actually annoys her friends and family.

I’m not that woman — right?
I will admit, I am wholly preoccupied with my kids, as I think are most mothers. There is rarely a moment when I am not considering their wants and needs — and the entirety of my daily life is filled with their laughter, accomplishments, tantrums and triumphs.
Milestones are certainly worth mentioning, however, at times bragging can be not only annoying, but hurtful.
Why do parents brag?
I want to believe that boasting about my children has nothing to do with my own ego, but I know that on some level, it does.
I would never consider rattling on about my own abilities, because it seems so clearly rude. Yet I find myself regularly going on at length about my 2-year-old’s impressive knowledge of dinosaurs or the fact that my 3-month-old rolled over this week.
When is it okay to brag?
Milestones are certainly worth mentioning, however, at times bragging can be not only annoying, but hurtful.

I try to save bragging about my children for instances when people ask about them. When friends inquire about my kids, I do take that opportunity to share a few of their recent accomplishments. But I try to keep it to a minimum unless they continue to engage me on the subject.
Avoiding the urge to one-up another parent is also crucial. Be sure to give other parents the floor to share stories about their own children — and offer the same interest and enthusiasm that you would expect in return.
As we all know, every child is different, and bragging could be particularly hurtful to parents whose children have developmental delays.






Why Your Elderly Parents Might Be Petty and Demanding


Are elderly parents petty and demanding?

Many adult children caregivers experience the pettiness and demands of elderly parents, as do professional caregivers.
If you are asking this question, perhaps your parents are petty and demanding.  In general, however, I would have to say that just because people are elderly or parents, or elderly parents, does not mean that they will necessarily be petty and/or demanding.  From my experience, when elderly folks are petty or demanding, there is usually a good reason.  Listed below are some reasons why elderly people may be petty or demanding.

1.  They have always been that way! Some people are by nature petty and demanding.  It might be their personality, so to speak.  If this is the case with your parents, it is not realistic to expect that they will change now that they are older.  In fact, research shows that how people handle adversity and difficulties in their younger years does not change much, if at all, as they age.
2.  They have a mental illness.  Some researchers estimate that 15 to 25 percent of elderly people in the U.S. suffer from significant symptoms of mental illness, most commonly dementia, delirium, and depression.  If they have a history of mental illness, they are more likely to suffer from mental health problems later in life.  People with mental illness have dysfunctional ways of thinking, perceiving situations, and relating to others.  Concerns in this regard should, of course, be thoroughly discussed and evaluated by a mental health professional.
3.  They are not feeling well or are living with chronic pain. For those living day to day not feeling well or with chronic pain, being reasonable with those around them becomes difficult and sometimes even impossible. And, unfortunately, those closest to the suffering person are often the ones who get the brunt of the difficult behaviors.  Make sure your loved one sees a physician and is totally honest with the physician about what is going on so that the underlying problem can be addressed.  Try to find a way to stay on top of the pain with medications or in other ways.
4.  They are not getting enough sleep. Most of us cannot function at our best when we are sleep deprived.  If your elderly parent is sleep deprived, this would be a reason to consult with a physician. There are many sleep aids on the market which are tremendously helpful to many people.  Decreasing caffeine intake, getting fresh air and exercise, and refraining from napping during the day may make for better sleep at night.
5.  Anger is one stage of the grieving process. It is imperative to remember that when dealing with aging parents, they are indeed facing significant grief and loss issues.  Their “fears” are often facts.  For instance, they really are prone to illness and injury, they really are frequent victims of crime, they really do have less strength, they really are more isolated, and they really are more vulnerable.  For seniors, life can get to be one loss after another, and the grief process never ends.  Changes in health, living situations, financial resources, and the increasing reliance on others are just a few examples of loss your elderly parents may be grieving.  Some people get stuck in the anger phase of grief.
6.  Our expectations are too high. I once heard that expectations are resentments waiting to happen.  Could it be that you are expecting too much of your elderly parents?  It’s easy to view our parents as strong, competent, and independent if that is how we have known them to be.  In reality, they may no longer be what they once were.  In that case, we need to adjust our expectations.
7.  Loss of Control. If our elderly parents feel like they have no control over the bigger issues in their lives, they may try to maintain control over the little things.  “Why did you get me StarKist tuna?  You know I wanted Chicken of the Sea!”  “I never hear from you” (even though you call to check in every other day).  “You need to re-vacuum the floor. You missed a spot over there!” There are countless other examples, and I’m sure you can think of some!




7 Tips For Those Dealing With Grief During The Holidays

For many people, the holiday season is one of the hardest times in grief. We miss our loved ones even more than usual. How can you celebrate togetherness when there is none? When you have lost someone special, your world loses its celebratory qualities. Holidays only magnify the loss. The sadness feels sadder and the loneliness goes deeper. The need for support may be the greatest during the holidays. You can and will get through the holidays. It is not the grief you want to avoid, it is the pain. Grief is the way out of the pain. There are a number of ways to help get you through the holidays.
1. Be honest about your grief. There’s pressure to have a joyful holiday even when nothing has gone wrong in life. You’re not a Grinch, you’re in grief! Don’t feel the need to fake it or be happier than you actually are. You don’t have to have holiday joy!!
2. Include the loss into your holidays. The grief is there anyway. Light a candle in their honor. Dedicate the prayer before dinner to your loved one. Have everyone at the dinner table share a favorite story about your loved one that died.
3. Take your grief online. Facebook in the new town square. Share photos of past holidays with loved ones now gone. Also there are many closed Facebook groups, just for those grieving. Also many pages such as mine have messages to help you navigate loss. You will quickly see others are also feeling loss during the holidays.
4. For events, always have an exit strategy. You don’t have to stay. Feel free to say, you just wanted to drop by or you have another event to get to. You can even text yourself if you need to…time to go!
5. Re-evaluate your rituals. Choose what works and doesn’t. You can even cancel a holiday. You don’t have to do those 200 Christmas cards. You don’t have to cook the dinner. Free yourself.
6. “No” is a complete sentence. You should not have to do anything you don’t want to do. And you don’t have to explain it. “No, thank you” also works well.
7. Pay attention to the children. They are often the forgotten grievers. We think since kids seem busy in school they are fine. Or it’s easier to focus on the adults. But children feel the grief and have less life experience and tools to deal with the loss.
Holidays are clearly some of the roughest terrain we navigate after a loss. The ways we handle them are as individual as we are. These holidays are part of the journey to be felt fully. They are usually very sad, but sometimes we may catch ourselves doing okay, and we may even have a brief moment of laughter.


Helping Children with Learning Disabilities
Practical Parenting Tips for Home and School


All children need love, encouragement, and support, and for kids with learning disabilities, such positive reinforcement can help ensure that they emerge with a strong sense of self-worth, confidence, and the determination to keep going even when things are tough.
In searching for ways to help children with learning disabilities, remember that you are looking for ways to help them help themselves. Your job as a parent is not to “cure” the learning disability, but to give your child the social and emotional tools he or she needs to work through challenges. In the long run, facing and overcoming a challenge such as a learning disability can help your child grow stronger and more resilient.
Always remember that the way you behave and respond to challenges has a big impact on your child. A good attitude won’t solve the problems associated with a learning disability, but it can give your child hope and confidence that things can improve and that he or she will eventually succeed.
Tips for dealing with your child’s learning disability
Keep things in perspective. A learning disability isn’t insurmountable. Remind yourself that everyone faces obstacles. It’s up to you as a parent to teach your child how to deal with those obstacles without becoming discouraged or overwhelmed. Don’t let the tests, school bureaucracy, and endless paperwork distract you from what’s really important—giving your child plenty of emotional and moral support.
Become your own expert. Do your own research and keep abreast of new developments in learning disability programs, therapies, and educational techniques. You may be tempted to look to others—teachers, therapists, doctors—for solutions, especially at first. But you’re the foremost expert on your child, so take charge when it comes to finding the tools he or she needs in order to learn.
Be an advocate for your child. You may have to speak up time and time again to get special help for your child. Embrace your role as a proactive parent and work on your communication skills. It may be frustrating at times, but by remaining calm and reasonable, yet firm, you can make a huge difference for your child.
Remember that your influence outweighs all others. Your child will follow your lead. If you approach learning challenges with optimism, hard work, and a sense of humor, your child is likely to embrace your perspective—or at least see the challenges as a speed bump, rather than a roadblock. Focus your energy on learning what works for your child and implementing it the best you can.
Focus on strengths, not just weaknesses
Your child is not defined by his or her learning disability. A learning disability represents one area of weakness, but there are many more areas of strengths. Focus on your child’s gifts and talents. Your child’s life—and schedule—shouldn’t revolve around the learning disability. Nurture the activities where he or she excels, and make plenty of time for them.
Helping children with learning disabilities tip 1: Take charge of your child’s education
In this age of endless budget cuts and inadequately funded schools, your role in your child’s education is more important than ever. Don’t sit back and let someone else be responsible for providing your child with the tools they need to learn. You can and should take an active role in your child’s education.
If there is demonstrated educational need, the school is required by law to develop an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that delivers some educational benefit, but not necessarily one that maximizes student achievement. Parents who want the best for their kids may find this standard frustrating. Understanding special education laws and your school’s guidelines for services will help you get the best support for your child at school. Your child may be eligible for many kinds of accommodations and support services, but the school might not provide services unless you ask for them.
Tips for communicating with your child’s school:
Being a vocal advocate for your child can be challenging. You’ll need superior communication and negotiation skills, and the confidence to defend your child’s right to a proper education.
Clarify your goals. Before meetings, write down what you want to accomplish. Decide what is most important, and what you are willing to negotiate.
Be a good listener. Allow school officials to explain their opinions. If you don’t understand what someone is saying, ask for clarification. “What I hear you saying is…” can help ensure that both parties understand.
Offer new solutions. You have the advantage of not being a “part of the system,” and may have new ideas. Do your research and find examples of what other schools have done.
Keep the focus. The school system is dealing with a large number of children; you are only concerned with your child. Help the meeting stay focused on your child. Mention your child’s name frequently, don’t drift into generalizations, and resist the urge to fight larger battles.
Stay calm, collected and positive. Go into the meeting assuming that everyone wants to help. If you say something you regret, simply apologize and try to get back on track.
Don’t give up easily. If you’re not satisfied with the school’s response, try again.
Recognize the limitations of the school system
Parents sometimes make the mistake of investing all of their time and energy into the school as the primary solution for their child’s learning disability. It is better to recognize that the school situation for your child will probably never be perfect. Too many regulations and limited funding mean that the services and accommodations your child receives may not be exactly what you envision for them, and this will probably cause you frustration, anger and stress.
Try to recognize that the school will be only one part of the solution for your child and leave some of the stress behind. Your attitude (of support, encouragement and optimism) will have the most lasting impact on your child.
Tip 2: Identify how your child learns best
Everyone—learning disability or not—has their own unique learning style. Some people learn best by seeing or reading, others by listening, and still others by doing. You can help a child with a learning disability by identifying his or her primary learning style.
Is your child a visual learner, an auditory learner, or a kinesthetic learner? Once you’ve figured out how he or she learns best, you can take steps to make sure that type of learning is reinforced in the classroom and during home study. The following lists will help you determine what type of learner your child is.
Is your child a visual learner?
If your child is a visual learner, he or she:
Learns best by seeing or reading
Does well when material is presented and tested visually, not verbally
Benefits from written notes, directions, diagrams, charts, maps, and pictures
May love to draw, read, and write; is probably a good speller
Is your child an auditory learner?
If your child is an auditory learner, he or she:
Learns best by listening
Does well in lecture-based learning environments and on oral reports and tests
Benefits from classroom discussions, spoken directions, study groups
May love music, languages, and being on stage
Is your child a kinesthetic learner?
If your child is a kinesthetic learner, he or she:
Learns best by doing and moving
Does well when he or she can move, touch, explore, and create in order to learn
Benefits from hands-on activities, lab classes, props, skits, and field trips
May love sports, drama, dance, martial arts, and arts and crafts
Studying Tips for Different Types of Learners
Tips for visual learners:
Use books, videos, computers, visual aids, and flashcards.
Make detailed, color-coded or high-lighted notes.
Make outlines, diagrams, and lists.
Use drawings and illustrations (preferably in color).
Take detailed notes in class.
Tips for auditory learners:
Read notes or study materials out loud.
Use word associations and verbal repetition to memorize.
Study with other students. Talk things through.
Listen to books on tape or other audio recordings.
Use a tape recorder to listen to lectures again later.
Tips for kinesthetic learners:
Get hands on. Do experiments and take field trips.
Use activity-based study tools, like role-playing or model building.
Study in small groups and take frequent breaks.
Use memory games and flash cards.
Study with music on in the background.
Tip 3: Think life success, rather than school success
Success means different things to different people, but your hopes and dreams for your child probably extend beyond good report cards. Maybe you hope that your child’s future includes a fulfilling job and satisfying relationships, for example, or a happy family and a sense of contentment.
The point is that success in life—rather than just school success—depends, not on academics, but on things like a healthy sense of self, the willingness to ask for and accept help, the determination to keep trying in spite of challenges, the ability to form healthy relationships with others, and other qualities that aren’t as easy to quantify as grades and SAT scores.
A 20-year study that followed children with learning disabilities into adulthood identified the following six “life success” attributes. By focusing on these broad skills, you can help give your child a huge leg up in life.
Learning disabilities and success #1: Self-awareness and self-confidence
For children with learning disabilities, self-awareness (knowledge about strengths, weaknesses, and special talents) and self-confidence are very important. Struggles in the classroom can cause children to doubt their abilities and question their strengths.
Ask your child to list his or her strengths and weaknesses and talk about your own strengths and weaknesses with your child.
Encourage your child to talk to adults with learning disabilities and to ask about their challenges, as well as their strengths.
Work with your child on activities that are within his or her capabilities. This will help build feelings of success and competency.
Help your child develop his or her strengths and passions. Feeling passionate and skilled in one area may inspire hard work in other areas too.
Learning disabilities and success #2: Being proactive
A proactive person is able to make decisions and take action to resolve problems or achieve goals. For people with learning disabilities, being proactive also involves self-advocacy (for example, asking for a seat at the front of the classroom) and the willingness to take responsibility for choices.
Talk with your learning disabled child about problem solving and share how you approach problems in your life.
Ask your child how he or she approaches problems. How do problems make him or her feel? How does he or she decide what action to take?
If your child is hesitant to make choices and take action, try to provide some “safe” situations to test the water, like choosing what to make for dinner or thinking of a solution for a scheduling conflict.
Discuss different problems, possible decisions, and outcomes with your child. Have your child pretend to be part of the situation and make his or her own decisions.
Learning disabilities and success #3: Perseverance
Perseverance   is the drive to keep going despite challenges and failures, and the flexibility to change plans if things aren’t working. Children (or adults) with learning disabilities may need to work harder and longer because of their disability.
Talk with your learning disabled child about times when he or she persevered—why did he or she keep going? Share stories about when you have faced challenges and not given up.
Discuss what it means to keep going even when things aren’t easy. Talk about the rewards of hard work, as well as the opportunities missed by giving up.
When your child has worked hard, but failed to achieve his or her goal, discuss different possibilities for moving forward.
Learning disabilities and success #4: The ability to set goals
The ability to set realistic and attainable goals is a vital skill for life success. It also involves the flexibility to adapt and adjust goals according to changing circumstances, limitations, or challenges.
Help your child identify a few short- or long-term goals and write down steps and a timeline to achieve the goals. Check in periodically to talk about progress and make adjustments as needed.
Talk about your own short- and long-term goals with your child, as well as what you do when you encounter obstacles.
Celebrate with your child when he or she achieves a goal. If certain goals are proving too hard to achieve, talk about why and how plans or goals might be adjusted to make them possible.
Learning disabilities and success #5: Knowing how to ask for help
Strong support systems are key for people with learning disabilities. Successful people are able to ask for help when they need it and reach out to others for support.
Help your child nurture and develop good relationships. Model what it means to be a good friend and relative so your child knows what it means to help and support others.
Demonstrate to your child how to ask for help in family situations.
Share examples of people needing help, how they got it, and why it was good to ask for help. Present your child with role-play scenarios that might require help.
Learning disabilities and success #6: The ability to handle stress
If children with learning disabilities learn how to regulate stress and calm themselves, they will be much better equipped to overcome challenges.
Use words to identify feelings and help your child learn to recognize specific feelings.
Ask your child what words they would use to describe stress. Does your child recognize when he or she is feeling stressed?
Encourage your child to identify and participate in activities that help reduce stress like sports, games, music, or writing in a journal.
Ask your child to describe activities and situations that make them feel stressed. Break down the scenarios and talk about how overwhelming feelings of stress and frustration might be avoided.
Recognizing stress in your child
It’s important to be aware of the different ways in which stress can manifest. Your child may behave very differently than you do when he or she is under stress. Some signs of stress are more obvious: agitation, trouble sleeping, and worries that won’t shut off. But some people—children included—shut down, space out, and withdraw when stressed. It’s easy to overlook these signs, so be on the lookout for any behavior that’s out of the ordinary.
Tip 4: Emphasize healthy lifestyle habits
It may seem like common sense that learning involves the body as well as the brain, but your child’s eating, sleep, and exercise habits may be even more important than you think. If children with learning disabilities are eating right and getting enough sleep and exercise, they will be better able to focus, concentrate, and work hard.
Exercise – Exercise isn’t just good for the body, it’s good for the mind. Regular physical activity makes a huge difference in mood, energy, and mental clarity. Encourage your learning disabled child to get outside, move, and play. Rather than tiring out your child and taking away from schoolwork, regular exercise will actually help him or her stay alert and attentive throughout the day. Exercise is also a great antidote to stress and frustration.
Diet – A healthy, nutrient rich diet will aid your child’s growth and development. A diet full of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean protein will help boost mental focus. Be sure your child starts the day with a good breakfast and doesn’t go more than 4 hours between meals or snacks. This will help keep his or her energy levels stable.
Sleep – Learning disability or not, your child is going to have trouble learning if he or she is not well rested. Kids need more sleep than adults do. On average, preschoolers need from 11-13 hours per night, middle school children need about 10-11 hours, and teens and preteens need from 8½-10 hours. You can help make sure your child is getting the sleep he or she needs by enforcing a set bedtime. The type of light emitted by electronic screens (computers, televisions, iPods and iPads, portable video players, etc.) is activating to the brain. So you can also help by powering off all electronics at least an hour or two before lights out.
Encouraging healthy emotional habits
In addition to healthy physical habits, you can also encourage children to have healthy emotional habits. Like you, they may be frustrated by the challenges presented by their learning disability. Try to give them outlets for expressing their anger, frustration, or feelings of discouragement. Listen when they want to talk and create an environment open to expression. Doing so will help them connect with their feelings and, eventually, learn how to calm themselves and regulate their emotions.
Tip 5: Take care of yourself, too
Sometimes the hardest part of parenting is remembering to take care of you. It’s easy to get caught up in what your child needs, while forgetting your own needs. But if you don’t look after yourself, you run the risk of burning out.
It’s important to tend to your physical and emotional needs so that you’re in a healthy space for your child. You won’t be able to help your child if you’re stressed out, exhausted, and emotionally depleted. When you’re calm and focused, on the other hand, you’re better able to connect with your child and help him or her be calm and focused too.
Your spouse, friends, and family members can be helpful teammates if you can find a way to include them and learn to ask for help when you need it.
Tips for taking care of yourself
Learn how to manage stress in your own life. Make daily time for yourself to relax and decompress.
Keep the lines of communication open with your spouse, family, and friends. Ask for help when you need it.
Take care of yourself by eating well, exercising, and getting enough rest.
Join a learning disorder support group. The encouragement and advice you’ll get from other parents can be invaluable.
Enlist teachers, therapists, and tutors whenever possible to share some of responsibility for day-to-day academic responsibilities.
Communicate with family and friends about your child’s learning disability
Some parents keep their child’s learning disability a secret, which can, even with the best intentions, look like shame or guilt. Without knowing, extended family and friends may not understand the disability or think that your child’s behavior is stemming from laziness or hyperactivity. Once they are aware of what’s going on, they can support your child’s progress.
Within the family, siblings may feel that their brother or sister with a learning disability is getting more attention, less discipline and preferential treatment. Even if your other children understand that the learning disability creates special challenges, they can easily feel jealous or neglected. Parents can help curb these feelings by reassuring all of their children that they are loved, providing homework help, and by including family members in any special routines for the child with a learning disability.

Ways to Find Joy and Balance During the Holidays
Feeling down during the holidays can be tough.


Feeling down during the holidays can be tough, especially since you seem so out of step with the world. Everyone else seems to be beaming, ruddy-cheeked, bursting with holiday spirit. You’re feeling wretched and exhausted.
But here’s something to cheer you up the next time you’re stuck in a room of revelers at a holiday party: Plenty of them are probably unhappy, too.
“I think a lot of people would say that the holidays are the worst time of the year,” says Ken Duckworth, MD, medical director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “They’re just straight up miserable, and that’s not only for people with clinical depression.”
So if the family gatherings, the endless parties, and the shopping get you down, you’re hardly alone. But people with depression — or who have had depression in the past — need to be especially careful when coping with holiday stress. While it might take some conscious effort on your part, you can reduce stress — and maybe even find some holiday joy, too. Here are some tips.
Finding the Holiday Spirit: Emotions
1. Keep your expectations modest. Don’t get hung up on what the holidays are supposed to be like and how you’re supposed to feel. If you’re comparing your holidays to some abstract greeting card ideal, they’ll always come up short. So don’t worry about holiday spirit and take the holidays as they come.
2. Do something different. This year, does the prospect of the usual routine fill you with holiday dread rather than holiday joy? If so, don’t surrender to it. Try something different. Have Thanksgiving at a restaurant. Spend Christmas day at the movie theater. Get your family to agree to skip gifts and instead donate the money to a charity.
3. Lean on your support system. If you’ve been depressed, you need a network of close friends and family to turn to when things get tough, says David Shern, PhD, president and CEO of Mental Health America in Alexandria, Va. So during the holidays, take time to get together with your support team regularly — or at least keep in touch by phone to keep yourself centered.

4. Don’t assume the worst. “I think some people go into the holidays with expectations so low that it makes them more depressed,” says Duckworth. So don’t start the holiday season anticipating disaster. If you try to take the holidays as they come and limit your expectations — both good and bad — you may enjoy them more.
5. Forget the unimportant stuff. Don’t run yourself ragged just to live up to holiday tradition. So what if you don’t get the lights on the roof this year? So what if you don’t get the special Christmas mugs from the crawl space? Give yourself a break. Worrying about such trivial stuff will not add to your holiday spirit.
6. Volunteer. Sure, you may feel stressed out and booked up already. But consider taking time to help people who have less than you. Try volunteering at a soup kitchen or working for a toy drive. “You could really find some comfort from it,” says Duckworth, “knowing that you’re making a small dent in the lives of people who have so little.”

Finding the Holiday Spirit: Family
7. Head off problems. Think about what people or situations trigger your holiday stress and figure out ways to avoid them. If seeing your uncle stresses you out, skip his New Year’s party and just stop by for a quick hello on New Year’s Day. Instead of staying in your bleak, childhood bedroom at your stepfather’s house, check into a nearby hotel. You really have more control than you think.
8. Ask for help — but be specific. See if your spouse will lug out the decorations. Ask your sister to help you cook — or host the holiday dinner itself. Invite a friend along on shopping trips. People may be more willing to help out than you expect; they just need some guidance from you on what to do.
9. Don’t worry about things beyond your control. So your uncle and your dad get into a fight every holiday dinner and it makes you miserable. But remember your limits. You can’t control them. But you can control your own reaction to the situation.

10. Make new family traditions. People often feel compelled to keep family holiday traditions alive long past the point that anyone’s actually enjoying them. Don’t keep them going for their own sake. “Start a new holiday tradition instead,” says Gloria Pope, Director of Advocacy and Public Policy at the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance in Chicago. “Create one that’s more meaningful to you personally.”
11. Find positive ways to remember loved ones. Holidays may remind you of the loved ones who aren’t around anymore. But instead of just feeling glum, do something active to celebrate their memory. For instance, go out with your sisters to your mom’s favorite restaurant and give her a toast.
Finding the Holiday Spirit: Parties
12. Don’t overbook. “The holidays last for weeks and weeks,” says Pope. “People really need to pace themselves or they’ll get overwhelmed.” So don’t say yes to every invitation willy-nilly. Think about which parties and you can fit in — and which ones you really want to attend.
13. Don’t stay longer than you want. Going to a party doesn’t obligate you to stay until the bitter end. Instead, just drop by for a few minutes, say hello, and explain you have other engagements. The hosts will understand that it’s a busy time of year and appreciate your effort. Knowing you have a plan to leave can really ease your anxiety.

14. Have a partner for the party. If the prospect of an office party is causing holiday stress, talk to a friend and arrange to arrive — and leave — together. You may feel much better knowing you have an ally and a plan of escape.
Finding the Holiday Spirit: Shopping
15. Forget about the perfect gift. If you’re already feeling overwhelmed, now is not the time to fret about finding the absolute best gift ever for your great aunt or your mailman. Remember: everybody likes a gift certificate.
16. Shop online. Save yourself the inconvenience, the crowds, and the horrors of the mall parking lot by doing the bulk of your shopping online.
17. Stick to a budget. The cost of holiday shopping mounts quickly and can make people feel out of control and anxious. So draw up a budget long before you actually start your shopping and stick to it.



Get that Budget Back on Track after the Holidays

Presents, traveling to see relatives, preparations for parties and holiday festivities: there are numerous costs associated with the holidays.
As we find ourselves recovering financially from the increased spending of this time of year, now also marks the perfect time to get your budget back on track. Here are five tips to help get you started:
Evaluate and track – Now that holiday spending has ended, it’s time to reevaluate where your finances are to determine what you need to do to get back on track with spending. From there, track your expenses and adjust your spending until you return to your pre-holiday financial state.
Establish a new budget – Alongside tracking your spending, establish a new budget to get your financial situation back to normal. After the cost of the holidays, a stricter budget may be necessary, but stick to it and you’ll be back to normal before you know it.
Put down the credit cards – The holidays mark a period when credit card spending tends to go into overdrive. Now that they’ve ended, it’s a good time to put down the credit cards and start paying off the debt you’ve accrued instead. Little by little, that holiday debt will become a thing of the past.
Shop for what you need – One easy way to get your budget back on track after the holidays? Pump the breaks when it comes to spending. Before you make a purchase, ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” If the answer is yes, go ahead. If not, save the purchase for another day.
Declutter – Getting rid of things you don’t need – whether selling them online or organizing them for that spring yard sale – not only declutters your home, it helps you add a little something extra to your budget. Take an inventory to see what household items can stay and which can go.
Now that the holidays are over, start getting back on track with your personal finances!





A time for family reunion


It is therefore imperative that we take every opportunity to bond with our family and make the most of our relations, and Christmas, no doubt, provides us with the best opportunity for bonding with our family. So this time around, make sure that you take time out from your busy work schedules in order to have a long Christmas at home. Trust me, your old parents and your young children will really appreciate it. Stop treating Christmas as a time for socializing and designate it as official family bonding time. Invite family like parents, children and their spouses and your brothers and sisters with their families for Christmas.

Spend quality time with your kids before your extended family arrives. Christmas is a good time to teach your family, especially children about values like love, compassion, giving and sharing. Try to include the whole family in different Christmas activities like festival related cooking, decorating the house and the tree and wrapping up gifts extra.

Come up with games that your family might enjoy. Build a snowman together with your kids. Go ice skating. In fact, it is a good idea to go shopping together, where you can make your kids choose their own gifts, but do the latter only when you have an unlimited budget.
The key here is not to get too involved in planning the feast and the party, but to give yourself a break and to spend maximum time with your family. A family Christmas is the best kind of Christmas and once you have had a good one, you will make it a point to enjoy every future Christmas with your family.





Home for the Holidays
Tips for overcoming holiday anxiety and stress.


What Causes Holiday Stress?
First, ask yourself this: What about the holidays gets you down? Once you cut through the vague sense of dread about family gatherings and identify specific problems, you can deal with them directly. For many people, holiday stress is triggered by:
Unhappy memories. Going home for the holidays naturally makes people remember old times, but for you the memories may be more bitter than sweet. “During the holidays, a lot of childhood memories come back,” says Duckworth, who is also an assistant professor at Harvard University Medical School. “You may find yourself dwelling on what was inadequate about your childhood and what was missing.” If you associate the holidays with a bad time in your life — the loss of a loved one, a previous depression — this time of year will naturally bring those memories back.
Toxic relatives. Holidays can put you in the same room with relatives you avoid the rest of the year. People struggling with depression may face stigma, too. “Some relatives don’t really believe you’re depressed,” says Gloria Pope, director of advocacy and public policy at the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance in Chicago. “They think you’re just lazy, or that it’s all in your head. It can be really hurtful.”
What’s changed. The holidays can highlight everything that’s changed in your lives — a divorce, a death in the family, a son who’s making his first trip back home after starting college. Any of these can really unsettle a gathering and add holiday stress.
What’s stayed the same. For others, it’s the monotonous sameness of family holiday gatherings that depresses them — the same faces, the same jokes, the same food on the same china plates.
Lowered defenses. During the holiday season, you’re more likely to be stressed out by obligations and errands. It’s cold and flu season and your immune system is under assault. It’s getting dark earlier each day. You’re eating worse, sleeping less, and drinking more. By the time the family gathering rolls around, you’re worn out, tense, and fragile. The holiday stress makes it harder to cope with your family than it might be at other times of the year.

Controlling Holiday Stress

Experts say that the holidays can make people feel out of control. We feel at the mercy of our relatives or steamrolled by the sheer force of family tradition. But you have a say. The key is to take some control over the holidays, instead of letting them control you.
For instance, you may find the family obligations of the holidays overwhelming. You have to make the rum balls according to your grandmother’s recipe, even though you personally find them inedible. You have to go over to your aunt’s for the holiday dinner, even though she always drinks too much, makes a scene, and freaks out your kids. You have to leave a poinsettia on your grandfather’s grave, even though it’s three hours and two states away. You don’t exactly want to do any of these things. You just have to.
Duckworth encourages people to stop right there. Do you really have to?

“Ask yourself, ‘Why am I doing things that make me miserable?’” Duckworth tells WebMD. “Think about the reasons.” He suggests that you draw up a list of reasons why you engage in these holiday traditions, and then a list of reasons why you shouldn’t. Just making a simple pro and con list will remind you that you do have a choice.

Changing Your Outlook
The next step is to challenge some of your assumptions. If you enjoyed the holidays differently this year, what would happen? What if you didn’t go to your aunt’s for dinner? What if you didn’t bring the poinsettias to your grandfather’s grave?
Your gut feeling might be: Calamity! Disaster! But get past that initial reaction. Think about what would really happen. Maybe your aunt would be annoyed. Is that really such a big deal? Could you make it up to her later with a brunch in February? Instead of trekking to your grandfather’s grave, could you honor him in a different way — lighting a candle or saying a prayer?
The key is to be conscious about what you’re doing. This holiday season, don’t unthinkingly do things the same way just because that’s how you always do them. If the old holiday traditions aren’t working, if they’re not making you happy and causing holiday stress, it’s time to do something different.

Tips for Beating Holiday Stress

Once you’ve taken a clear look at the holidays — about what works and what doesn’t — it’s time to make some changes. Focus on the holiday stresses that you can control. That includes making different plans and changing your responses to situations. Here are four key don’ts for the holidays.
Don’t do the same old thing. If the usual family gathering is causing holiday stress, try something else. If you’re too overwhelmed to host, discuss other possibilities with family members. Maybe a sibling could have the dinner this year.
Don’t expect miracles. If your holiday anxiety stems from a deeper history of family conflict, don’t expect that you’ll be able to resolve any big underlying issues now. Sure, it’s supposed to be a season of forgiveness and good will. But in the midst of a hectic holiday season, you can’t pin your hopes on leading family members to big emotional breakthroughs. You may be better off focusing on your own state of mind and confronting difficult issues during a less volatile time of year.
Don’t overdo it. To reduce holiday stress, you have to pace yourself. Long before the family gatherings actually happen, decide on some limits and stick to them. Stay one or two nights at your parents’ house instead of three or four. Plan to drop by the holiday party for a couple of hours instead of staying all night.
Don’t worry about how things should be. “There’s a lot of cultural pressure during the holidays,” says Duckworth. “We tend to compare ourselves with these idealized notions of perfect families and perfect holidays.” But in fact, most people have less than perfect holiday gatherings — they have family tension, melancholy, and dry turkey too. If you have negative feelings, don’t try to deny them. Remember that there’s nothing wrong or shameful or unusual about feeling down during the holidays.

Depression During the Holidays: Getting Help
For many people battling holiday stress, changing expectations and behavior can make a big difference. But not always. David Dunner, MD, director of the Center for Anxiety and Depression in Mercer Island, Wash., says that sometimes the apparent connections between the holidays and depression may just be coincidental.

Depression During the Holidays: Getting Help continued…

“I tend to take a fairly agnostic approach toward the cause of depression because I’m never sure what it really is,” says Dunner. “Even though it might seem like that the holiday trip to Cleveland to see family is what’s making you feel down, it could have nothing to do with it.” Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a medical condition, a drug side effect, or something else entirely could be the real culprit.
Dunner also worries that some people may write off signs of serious depression as mere holiday stress. It’s unwise — even dangerous — to ignore depression symptoms for weeks or months in the hopes that they’ll just disappear come January.
So while holiday stress may be seasonal, depression can be year-round. If your holiday anxiety seems severe or is interfering with your job or home life, talk to your doctor or to a counselor.





10 Tips for Raising Mentally Strong Kids


Mentally strong kids are prepared for the challenges of the world. They’re able to tackle problems productively, bounce back from failure effectively, and cope with hardships competently. Helping kids build mental strength equips them to deal with life’s challenges—both big and small.
Mentally strong kids don’t act tough or suppress their emotions. They also don’t become stubborn or treat others unkindly.

Instead, developing mental strength is about building resilience and helping kids have the courage and confidence to reach their full potential.
While most parents want to raise resilient kids, many of them don’t know how. Helping kids develop mental strength requires a three-pronged approach: teaching them to replace negative thoughts with more realistic thoughts, helping them learn to control their emotions so their emotions don’t control them, and showing them how to behave productively despite their circumstances.
There are many parenting strategies, discipline techniques, and teaching tools that can help kids grow stronger. Here are 10 strategies that will help your child develop the strength he needs to become a mentally strong adult:

1. Teach Specific Skills
Discipline shouldn’t be about punishing, it should be about teaching. Look at your child’s misbehavior as an opportunity to teach specific skills, such as problem-solving skills, impulse control, and self-discipline skills.

These skills will help your child learn to behave productively, even when he’s faced with temptation, tough circumstances, and difficult setbacks.
2. Let Your Child Make Mistakes
Allow your child to learn some important life lessons by making his own mistakes. Teach your child that mistakes are part of the learning process so he doesn’t feel ashamed or embarrassed for getting something wrong.

Allow for natural consequences when it’s safe to do so and talk about how to avoid repeating the same mistake next time.
3. Calm the Negativity
It’s hard for kids to feel mentally strong when they’re bombarding themselves with put-downs or when they’re predicting doom and gloom. Teach your child to silence the negativity and think more realistically. Looking at life’s inevitable obstacles realistically, yet optimistically helps kids perform at their peak.
4. Help Your Child Face Fears
If your child avoids things that are scary, he’ll never have an opportunity to gain confidence in his ability to deal with stress. Whether your child is afraid of the dark, or he doesn’t want to challenge himself to try new things, help your child face his fears one small step at a time. Cheer him on, praise his efforts, and reward him for being brave.
5. Allow Your Child to Feel Uncomfortable
Although it can be tempting to help a child when he’s struggling, rescuing him from all distress will only reinforce to him that he’s helpless.

Whether your child is feeling frustrated with his math homework, or he’s struggling to resolve an argument with a friend, let your child experience discomfort. With support and guidance, struggles can help your child build mental strength.
6. Focus on Building Character
Kids need a strong moral compass to help them make healthy decisions. Work hard to instill your values in your child. Create opportunities for life lessons that reinforce your values regularly.
For example, emphasize the importance of honesty and compassion, rather than winning at all costs. Children who understand their values are more likely to make healthy choices—even when others may disagree with their actions.
7. Make Gratitude a Priority
Gratitude is a wonderful remedy for self-pity and other bad habits that can prevent your child from being mentally strong. Help your child affirm all the good in the world, so that even on his worst days, he’ll see that he has much to feel thankful for. Gratitude can boost your child’s mood and encourage proactive problem-solving.
8. Affirm Personal Responsibility
Building mental strength involves accepting personal responsibility. Allow for explanations – but not excuses when your child makes a mistake or misbehaves. Correct your child if he tries to blame others for how he thinks, feels, or behave.
9. Teach Emotion Regulation Skills
Building mental strength isn’t about suppressing feelings, it’s about choosing healthy ways to cope with those feelings. Teach your child how to deal with uncomfortable emotions, like anger, sadness, and fear.  When kids understand their feelings and know how to deal with them, they’ll be better prepared to deal with challenges.
10. Role Model Mental Strength
Showing your child how to be mentally strong is the best way to encourage him to develop mental strength. Talk about your personal goals and show your child that you’re taking steps to grow stronger. Make self-improvement and mental strength a priority in your own life and avoid the 13 things mentally strong parents don’t do.

3 Steps to Helping Kids Build Mental Strength
Up Next






Material things bring temporary happiness!


Material things do not necessarily bring you happiness. That is a fact of life. It is a hard fact to understand sometimes, especially in a society that tries very hard to teach you otherwise.
It is very common to get into a mode where you think, “If only I had object X, my life would be perfect and I would be happy.” You REALLY want something: a new TV, a new car, a special pair of shoes, whatever. Then you buy it and you LOVE having it for a few days. But over time you get bored or it wears out. You can see this pattern repeated constantly in your own life. For example, your parents and grandparents likely spent thousands and thousands of dollars on toys for you as you were growing up: Dump trucks and Barbie dolls and video games and electric cars and on and on and on. All of those toys got boring or broken or outgrown eventually. They brought happiness for a moment or a week, but over time they became worthless and your desire turned to a new object.

This pattern begs the following question: “If material things bring just a temporary and short-term happiness, then what does that mean?” It might mean that you have to buy material objects at a rate of perhaps one per day to sustain the temporary and short-term high of getting something new. The problem is, that begins to sound a lot like a drug habit. This train of thinking can get you into some very deep areas. Things like:

This sort of philosophy implies that you can find something other than material happiness to give meaning to your life.
The thing about “wealth” is that there is more than one way to measure it. Traditionally it is measured in dollars, but there are many other scales. You can be “rich” in ways that have nothing to do with money. For example:

Rich in friends—A person who cultivates friendships and who is a joy to be around can have hundreds of good friends and can be rich beyond the wildest dreams of others.
Rich in health—A person who spends time eating right, exercising and relaxing from stress can be extremely healthy, and this health can be far more valuable than any amount of money.
Rich in strength—A person who works out with weights every day, runs, swims, etc. can be rich in strength and will have an attractive body.
Rich in family—A person who devotes time to his or her spouse and children will have a strong and happy family that is rewarding throughout life.
Rich in knowledge—A person who reads and studies will become rich in knowledge.
Rich in skill—A person who practices anything daily (a skill, a sport, prayer, whatever) will become excellent in that skill area. Excellence has its own rewards.
Rich in character— A person who works hard at being honest and truthful in all situations will become rich in character and will be trusted by everyone.
One funny thing about all of these different areas is that none of them are taxed. You are taxed on the money you earn, and that is it. There is no knowledge tax, for example. You can learn freely throughout life and acquire a huge “bank account” of knowledge. No one can steal it or diminish it in any way. Presumably, knowledge is the one thing you might be able to take with you to Heaven.
All of these alternative types of wealth are different from financial wealth, and yet all of them can be equally rewarding in their own ways. The point is that the act of buying things by itself, despite what television tells you, may not be what will bring you maximum happiness in life. Things like good friends, a loving spouse, well-raised children, a home built on love, a good relationship with God, a clear conscience, a worthy goal and a job you truly enjoy bring you contentment that lasts and has meaning. These things are often very hard for some teenagers to understand, but as you mature they become more important.





10 Tips for Dealing with a Fussy Baby


Fussy babies are incredibly stressful and draining, but at the same time, the closeness and bonding between a fussy baby and her parents is profound. The fussy baby seems to need more closeness and care than the average baby, and the amount of fussing, crying and whining attests to this. Dealing with a fussy baby can be more than challenging at times, however, no matter how much you adore your little one.
1. Identify Signs of Spoiling
It’s funny really, how many people who’ve never dealt with a fussy baby and consequently needy toddler imagine the child is spoiled. To the parent who is new to the arts of calming and soothing, it is easy to believe the “advice” of those who aren’t aware of your child’s special needs. There is such a thing as a fussy baby and when a baby under the age of six months or so fusses, she is not spoiled. She can only communicate one way, and that communication is telling you that she needs you.
You can’t hold or soothe a baby too much. It is likely that she will become accustomed to the constant care, but study after study have shown that this is a good thing. You can’t care for your child too much, so if your baby is telling you she needs you, go to her and help her feel better. Fussy babies often develop more sensitive natures as they grow, making the high level of care and attention a relative constant for some time. The fussy baby will grow out of the fussiness or you’ll find its source. As she ages and develops more independence and maturity you can help to foster that growth ensuring that she is never spoiled, although you truly can’t spoil a baby with attention.
2. Check the Obvious
Sometimes we’re so overwhelmed when a child cries, we forget to check for things that should be obvious. Is your child crying because she’s hungry? She’s wet? She has a dirty diaper? Not all fussiness is the same or caused by the same reasons. Having a simple mental checklist to work through when she begins to fuss is a nice way to be sure you’ve checked the obvious causes each time and never neglected her simple needs simply because you’re more attuned to her cries.
3. Consider Feedings
Many babies seem to have food and eating issues right from the start. Work closely with a lactation consultant and your pediatrician to be sure your child is latching on the breast or taking a bottle in the right way. Check to be sure you’re feeding her an appropriate formula if bottle feeding and have her checked for reflux. Due to an immaturity in your baby’s esophagus, she might be experiencing a sort of heartburn after she eats as milk and acid from the stomach bubble up.
There are medicines and special sorts of formulas available to treat acid reflux, but always speak to your doctor before making any changes in feedings. If you’re concerned that feedings might be part of your child’s fussiness, try having her sleep in a reclining position. Put her to sleep in her car seat, strapped in completely, inside her crib or on the floor for safety purposes. If she seems to sleep better, it might be that her food is staying down a bit better making her more comfortable.
4. Create a Womb-Like Environment
Some babies seem to come into the world a bit too early for their own good. They seem to be more comfortable in conditions that replicate the womb. Try swaddling your baby with her arms inside the swaddle. Swing or rock her rhythmically while creating a white noise. These sorts of conditions can be very soothing to a baby who is a bit overwhelmed by her surroundings.
Some fussy babies, and particularly those with colic, are even sensitive to how you create these environments. Try different styles and approaches until you find something that works. Powerful swings set on a high setting are popular as are white noise machines, car rides, stroller rides and being worn in a carrier or sling.
5. Seek Hands-free Comfort
The closeness and constant movement of riding on Mom’s chest is hard to beat for a fussy baby. Invest in a high quality front carrier or sling for smaller babies. Baby is able to ride with plenty of support pressed against your heartbeat while you keep your hands free for other things. Wear your baby while you take care of the dishes, vacuum, buy groceries and pay bills. You might find that your baby is so comfortable being worn, you simply leave her in the carrier a better part of the day in the early months.
Carrying or wearing babies is not a novelty around the world. In many countries, it is more the norm for a mom to be wearing her baby in a sling or carrier. The trend of keeping babies close by wearing them against the chest and later on the hip or on the back is becoming increasingly more common in the Western world as well as it is convenient for both mum and child and is a nice way to feel closeness while getting things done.
6. Get Household Help
Many mums of fussy babies have perfected the movements and soothing patterns their children respond too. They spend so much time together finding a delicate balance of calmness and peace that it’s very hard for these mums to give their children to others to care for. Instead of finding help with your children, spend your money or favors on help with your household. Hire a housekeeper and gardener. Order take-out or buy simple meals to prepare. Ask friends and neighbors to grab a few things for you at the store on their way over to minimize the things you need to do during the day. Keeping your days as free as possible for your little one will let you focus on her needs and care for her without worrying about mopping or taking care of the dishes, too.
7. Take a Break
Even though you likely want to be with your baby every moment she seems to need you, it’s also very normal to reach a point where you need a break. Get trusted, loving help from someone experienced in fussy babies such as family members or your partner and then take a hot shower, go to the store alone for a treat or spend the afternoon getting your hair and nails done. Taking short breaks from the almost constant action of a fussy baby allows you to refocus your energy and break the cycle from time to time. This lets you see situations more clearly and help to reduce your stress level.
8. Talk to Your Partner
Your partner is your closest support network, but with a fussy baby in the house, it’s easy to pick fights and take out your aggravation and stress on him. It is even easier for him to do the same to you, so you must make it a point to share the responsibilities of the little one as much as possible and to communicate. Some parents have a harder time dealing with fussy babies than others. How each family handles this situation is up to the parents, but be sure both parents know how to soothe and comfort the fussy baby as well as have time when baby is happy to bond and spend time together.
Make it a point to not only talk about your child with your partner, but discuss other topics as well. Watch movies together or send each other interesting stories via email or the mobile. Fussy babies make a house rather chaotic, and your partner should be your anchor and your teammate as you work together to keep your baby comfortable until this stage is complete.
9. Use Your Closeness Wisely
Your baby is close to your throughout the day most likely so that you can attend to her needs when she fusses. Make use of this closeness. Help your baby grow and learn during this tough stage. If she requires movement, hold her and take her on tours of your home, yard and street. Let her see the different items and talk to her constantly. The running chatter will not only be soothing to her, but will also help her vocabulary and early language skills develop well.
Talking to your baby in an almost conversational tone will be a great habit to develop and it’s also a nice way to blow off steam. Tell your baby what you’re doing and ask her opinion on things – even while she’s riding sound asleep in the carrier. When she’s being especially fussy, ask her questions and hold a complete conversation about how stressful it is when Mummy can’t figure out what she needs and won’t it be nice when Baby is old enough to point or to tell Mummy in words what’s wrong. Having a conversation out loud will help your baby, but it will also help you to deal with the complex emotions of parenthood. You might earn some interesting looks from others, but your child will know how to hold up her side of a full conversation by the time she’s two, so strange looks are no problem.
10. Settle In
Finally, know that the fussy period where your child requires your almost constant attention and presence is relatively short lived. It might seem like eternity, but the fussiness will improve as your child begins to sleep more soundly at night and grows. By four or five months, the bulk of the fussiness should be fading, and by eight or nine months, your child will be independent and exploring your home. By a year you’ll have a toddler and you’ll be wondering where the time went when all your baby wanted to do was be held.
Don’t squander the special time you have with a fussy baby in the early months of her life. Make a comfortable nest in the living room with pillows and blankets and watch all your favorite shows and watch movies together while you hold your little one. Keep her bassinet in the room with you so that you can put her down to sleep easily and keep a close eye on her while you move about. Take care of chores and such while she sleeps and then head back to your comfort zone when she needs to be held and entertained.



Lets talk baby shower!



Stress Management For Parents


Parenting can be very stressful. Whether you are a stay at home parent or a working parent, a single parent or a married parent, mother or father, parent of one child or several children; remaining cool, calm and full of energy can help get you through the day. Below are some simple stress management tips and relaxation exercises that have proven useful to adults whether or not they are a parent. By taking a moment to consider which stress management tools will work for you and then putting them into practice immediately will help to provide the stress management approach you are looking for and the stress relief you deserve.

How do we get so tense?
When we are worried, anxious, hurried or harried our body begins to feel tense. Actually, this is a natural reaction. Our body is preparing us for flight or fight. Our body has been given the signal to prepare to respond to a threat. If a real physical danger were present, we would be able to protect ourselves by attack or retreat. When the emergency was over, an “all clear signal” would be given and our body would relax and return to its normal state.
In our modern existence, our mind is often bothered by many things. We call this stress. Constant mental stress keeps our body in constant tension which itself becomes a form of stress. We can handle stress by learning to cope with thoughts and events so they no longer are stressful. We can also learn to relax. When we practice relaxation, we are giving the “all clear signal.” As we become better at giving the signal we are able to trigger the relaxation response so our body will return to its normal state.
Chronic tension affects each of us differently. Depending on the person it can cause sleep disturbance, increased or decreased appetite, headaches, stomach aches, poor concentration or irritability. Some diseases may be caused by or made worse by chronic tension. Also, our immune system can be weakened. thus, making us more susceptible to colds and other infections.
Our section titled 52 Proven Ways to Reduce Stress gives some tips on coping. This section will help you learn Three Proven Ways to Relax. The are: (1) Progressive Relaxation, (2) Deep Breathing, and (3) Pleasant Images.
Use of positive mental images can be useful. Many parents have benefited from listening to a relaxation CD or MP3 such as Being a Happy Effective Parent.
Progressive Relaxation
We will start with your feet and lower legs. Tighten those muscles just as hard as you can. Feel the tension. Then gradually release the tension. Let your feet and lower leg muscles relax just a little bit at a time. Repeat this with your upper leg and hip muscles. Again, experience first the tension and then the gradual relaxation as you slowly release all the tension.
Next, tense the muscles in your hands and lower arms. Make a fist. Tighten them as tight as you can. Then gradually let them relax. With each muscle group, the relaxation feels good. As you relax one group at a time your whole being will begin to feel relaxed, calm and peaceful. Repeat the tension and then gradual relaxation with your upper arms and shoulders. Remember to tense and hold before relaxing.
Next, tighten your stomach muscles. Hold the tension and then gradually release. Then, move to your chest muscles. Take a deep breath. Hold it while tensing your chest muscles. Gradually let out your breath while gradually letting go of the tension in your chest muscles.
As you have now progressively relaxed most of your major muscle groups, you may feel a tingly sensation. You will find that your breathing has become slower and deeper. You are now relaxed.
Try to practice on a daily basis. When you have followed the above for about 10 to 15 sessions, try it without tensing the muscles. See if you can just relax one muscle group at a time while breathing slowly and deeply.
Relaxation and Stress Management Program – Imagery Relaxation and Success Rehearsal is a CD/MP3 audio program that is great for general relaxation training.
Deep Breathing
When we are tense, our breathing is often shallow and rapid. If fact, most of us do not breathe properly, tense or not. Improper breathing robs us of oxygen which purifies our body as well as helps our body produce energy. Fortunately, learning to breathe properly is not difficult. Find a comfortable place to lie down. Place your hands on your abdomen just below your ribs. Begin breathing slowly and deeply. If you are breathing properly, you will feel the expansion in the abdominal area before your rib cage expands. Spend 5 to 10 minutes several times a day practicing your deep breathing. You will notice that as you become more proficient, your breathing will improve during your normal activities.
How to take a mental vacation.
When we think about things that are upsetting, our body tenses up. This is because the lower centers of our brain, which regulate body functions, does not distinguish between real images and those which are imagined. If you think about being in an uncomfortable situation, your body will begin to respond as if you were in that situation. Since you have probably had lots of experience thinking about things that cause tension, you actually have all the skills necessary to do just the opposite. Imagine something that makes you feel good.
To prepare for your mental vacation, relax your muscles and take a few deep breaths. Then close your eyes and imagine you are someplace you enjoy. It could be the beach or the mountains or enjoying a favorite activity. Try to fully experience this imagined event. See the sights. Hear the sounds. Feel the air. Smell the smells. Tune in to the sense of well-being. At first, you should allow 10 to 15 minutes for this exercise. As you become more adept you will find that you can feel like you have been on a long vacation or just come back from a good time in just a few moments.
Some other ways to feel relaxed
Listening to music is very relaxing. Reading can be rewarding for many. Enjoying a hobby can make life more fun. Research has shown that exercising several times a week (even just a walk) can reduce stress and tension. Research has also found that regular church attendance and daily prayer result in lower blood pressure and better coping.
Avoid too much caffeine or alcohol. Both of these are thought to be relaxing but they can actually make things worse. Avoid watching the news before going to bed. Try to take one day at a time. Look for the good things that happen each day and be thankful. Reach out and touch someone. Giving IS better than receiving. Be forgiving. Don’t hold grudges. No one is perfect. We all make mistakes. As you learn to forgive others, use a little on yourself. Tomorrow is another day.
Remember the AA serenity prayer:
Grant me the courage to change the things I can change.
The ability to accept the things I cannot change.
And the wisdom to know the difference.
52 Proven Stress Reducers
1. Get up fifteen minutes earlier in the morning. The inevitable morning mishaps will be less stressful.
2. Prepare for the morning the evening before. Set the breakfast table, make lunches, put out the clothes you plan to wear, etc.
3. Don’t rely on your memory. Write down appointment times, when to pick up the laundry, when library books are due, etc. (“The palest ink is better than the most retentive memory.”-Old Chinese Proverb)
4. Doing nothing which, after being done, leads you to tell a lie.
5. Make duplicates of all keys. Bury a house key in a secret spot in the garden and carry a duplicate car key in your wallet, apart from your key ring.
6. Practice preventive maintenance. your car, appliances, home and relationships will be less likely to break down/fall apart “at the worst possible moment.”
7. Be prepared to wait. A paperback can make a wait in a post office line almost pleasant.
8. Procrastination is stressful Whatever you want to do tomorrow, do today; whatever you want to do today, do it now.
9. Plan ahead. Don’t let the gas tank get below one-quarter full. Keep a well-stocked emergency shelf of home staples. Don’t wait until you’re down to your last bus token or postage stamp to buy more, etc.
10. Don’t put up with something that doesn’t work right. If your alarm clock, wallet, shoe laces, windshield wipers, whatever are a constant aggravation, get them fixed or get new ones.
11. Allow 15 minutes of extra time to get to appointments. Plan to arrive at an airport one hour before domestic departures.
Allow 15 minutes of extra time to get to appointments. Plan to arrive at an airport one hour before domestic departures.
12. Eliminate (or restrict) the amount of caffeine in your diet.
13. Always set up contingency plans, “just in case.” (“If for some reason either of us is delayed, here’s what we’ll do..” Or, “If we get split up in the shopping center, here’s where we’ll meet.”)
14. Relax your standards. The world will not end if the grass doesn’t get mowed this weekend.
15. Pollyanna-Power! For every one thing that goes wrong, there are probably 10 or 50 or 100 blessings. Count’em!
16. Ask questions. Taking a few moments to repeat back directions, what someone expects of you, etc., can save hours. (The old “the hurrieder I go, the behinder I get,” idea).
17. Say “No!.” Saying “no” to extra projects, social activities, and invitations you know you don’t have the time or energy for takes practice, self-respect, and a belief that everyone, everyday, needs quiet time to relax and be alone.
18. Unplug your phone. Want to take a long bath, meditate, sleep, or read without interruption? Drum up the courage to temporarily disconnect. (The possibility of there being a terrible emergency in the next hour or so is almost nil). Or use an answering machine.
19. Turn needs into preferences. Our basic physical needs translate into food, water, and keeping warm. Everything else is a preference. Don’t get attached to preferences.
20. Simplify, simplify, simplify…
21. Make friends with non-worriers. Nothing can get you into the habit or worrying faster than associating with chronic worrywarts.
22. Get up and stretch periodically if your job requires that you sit for extended periods.
23. Wear earplugs. If you need to find quiet at home, pop in some earplugs.
24. Get enough sleep. If necessary, use an alarm clock to remind you to go to bed.
25. Create order out of chaos. Organize your home and workspace so that you always know exactly where things are. Put things away where they belong and you won’t have to go through the stress of losing things.
26. When feeling stressed, most people tend to breathe in short, shallow breaths. When you breathe like this, stale air is not expelled, oxidation of the tissues is incomplete and muscle tension frequently results. Check your breathing throughout the day and before, during and after high pressure situations. If you find your stomach muscles are knotted and your breathing is shallow, relax all your muscles and take several deep, slow breaths. Note how, when you’re relaxed, both your abdomen and chest expand when you breathe.
27. Writing your thoughts and feelings down (in a journal, or a paper to be thrown away) can help you clarify things and can give you a renewed perspective.
28. Try the following yoga technique whenever you feel the need to relax. Inhale deeply through your nose to the count of eight. Then with lips puckered, exhale very slowly through your mouth to the count of 15 or for as long as you can. Concentrate on the long sighing sound and feel the tension dissolve. Repeat 10 times.
29. Inoculate yourself against a feared event. For example, before speaking in public, take time to go over every part of the experience in your mind. Imagine what you’ll wear, what the audience will look like, how you will present your talk, what the questions will be and how you will answer them, etc. Visualize the experience the way you would have it be. You’ll likely find that when the time comes to make the actual presentation, it will be “old hat’ and much of your anxiety will have fled.
30. When the stress of having to get a job done gets in the way of getting the job done, diversion (a voluntary change in activity and/or environment) may be just what you need.
31. Talk it out. Discussing your problems with a trusted friend can help clear your mind of confusion so you can concentrate on problem solving.
32. One of the most obvious ways to avoid unnecessary stress is to select an environment (work, home,
leisure) which is in line with your personal needs and desires. If you hate desk jobs, don’t accept a job which requires that you sit at a desk all day. If you hate to talk politics, don’t associate with people who love to talk politics, etc.
33. Learn to live one day at a time.
34. Every day, do something you really enjoy.
35. Add an ounce of love to everything you do.
36. Take a hot bath or shower (or a cool one in the summertime) to relieve tension.
37. Do something for somebody else. Make a meal for someone who is in need.
38. Focus on understanding rather than on being understood; on loving rather than on being loved.
39. Do something that will improve your appearance. Looking better can help you feel better.
40. Schedule a realistic day. Avoid the tendency to schedule back-to-back appointments. Allow time between appointments for a breathing spell.
41. Become more flexible. Some things are worth not doing perfectly and some issues are well to compromise upon.
42. Eliminate destructive self-talk; “I’m too old to…,” “I’m too fat to…,” etc.
43. Use your weekend time for a change of pace. If your work week is slow and patterned, make sure there is action and time for spontaneity built into your weekends. If your work week is fast-paced and full of people and deadlines, seek peace and solitude during your days off. Feel as if you are not accomplishing anything at work? Tackle a job on the weekend which you can finish to your satisfaction.
44. “Worry about the pennies and the dollars will take of themselves.” That’s another way of saying: take care of the todays as best you can and the yesterdays and the tomorrows will take care of themselves.
45. Do one thing at a time. When you are with someone, be with that person and with no one or anything else. When you are busy with a project, concentrate on doing that project and forget about everything else you have to do.
46. Allow yourself time-everyday-for privacy, quiet, and introspection.
47. If an especially unpleasant task faces you, do it early in the day and get it over with. Then, the rest of your day will be free of anxiety.
48. Learn to delegate responsibility to capable others.
49. Don’t forget to take a lunch break. Try to get away from your desk or work area in body and mind, even if it’s just for 15 or 20 minutes.
50. Forget about counting to 10. Count to 1,000 before doing something or saying anything that could make matters worse.
51. Have a forgiving view of events and people. Accept the fact that we live in an imperfect world.
52. Have an optimistic view of the world. Believe that most people are doing the best they can.





Sometimes communication between you and your adult child can be hurtful.

The relationship between parents and adult children can be difficult and tense, with parents often feeling the strain and conflict more than the adult child does, according to the article, the “Study of Relationships Between Adult Children and Parents,” published in Medical News Today. When feelings are strained, your adult kids can say things that are hurtful and it can be difficult to know what to say to reconcile or to stop the hurt.


Assess the Situation
Sometimes, a parent is partially responsible for negative interaction by treating the adult child as a child, according to Dr. Randy W. Green, a licensed New York psychologist on his website, Creative Solutions. Take an objective look at the interaction to determine if you offered unsolicited advice or if you failed to treat your child as an adult. Your child’s anger could arise from something you said or did. If so, apologize for overstepping your place in your adult child’s life. Ask what you need to do to make amends. Tell your adult child that you will make a greater effort to remember that she is an adult and that she can make decisions on her own.

Respond With Love
Treat your child in a loving, respectful manner, just as you would want to be treated. Get to the root of the interaction and find out what precipitated the exchange that hurt you. Listen to your child and ask questions until you understand. Take responsibility for your actions and words, but do not base your relationship with your child on guilt and fear, advises Green. In your response, set an example for your adult child. You can tell your child that he hurt your feelings, stating your side of the problem after you have heard his.
Establish Boundaries

If your child is out of line, establish boundaries based on the kind of relationship you would like to establish, suggests Dr. Kathy McCoy in “When Adult Children Become Strangers.” Let your child know that you are not her resident babysitter or her banker. If she’s angry because you didn’t drop everything to bail her out, send her money or some other action that you feel isn’t in her best interest, explain why you made the choice you did. Let her know that you love her but you will not communicate with her when she hurts you, is disrespectful toward you or makes unreasonable demands of you.

Check your relationship for enmeshment, suggests Jane Isay. A person who is enmeshed with another — in which the boundaries are not firm between two people — will take more offense when the other person rejects her advice. Tell your child you won’t allow him to make choices for you and that you will refrain from making choices for him. Express your wish to have a relationship in which you two interact as adults who care and respect each other. Expressing this wish can prevent harsh words and hurt feelings between you.


Related Articles
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What Kind of Discipline Should Be Given to Kids Who Are Rude & Inconsiderate?
How to Tell Parents That Their Kid Is Disrespectful to Other Kids
Tips for Forgiving Your Best Friend
Disrespectful Behavior in Children
How to Handle Conflict Between Your Daughter in Law & Not Seeing Your Grandchild




Child Prodigies


Recently there was a clever series of commercials that featured celebrities like Larry Bird and Aretha Franklin showing off their respective talents, and the announcer urged us to do the same. “Are you a prodigy?” he wanted to know. Sadly, for most of us the answer is no. Our abilities are too ordinary. The term “prodigy” retains the sense of its earliest meaning, when it referred to any occurrence outside of the usual course of nature. One could easily argue that Bird’s basketball skills and Franklin’s singing voice give them abilities far beyond the normal range, and such enormous talent is amazing when found in adults. It is even more startling when it is placed in the hands of a child.
Dr. David Feldman, a psychologist who has devoted many years to studying child prodigies, wrote about six of them in his book, Nature’s Gambit. There was Billy, a seven year old who read college physics books for fun, and Franklin, who was a top-rated chess player by the time he was eight. Perhaps the most amazing of all was three year-old Adam who could read, write and speak several languages, as well as compose music on the guitar. His knowledge seemed to have no bounds. When the boy was five, Feldman took him to Boston’s Museum of Science, where he enjoyed a puppet show on humpback whales. He participated like the other children right up until the end, when the puppeteer asked the rhetorical question, “Does anyone know what humpback whales eat?”
“Krill!” called Adam immediately. Then he added helpfully, “They’re small shrimp but they’re not microscopic.”
Feldman noted that unlike Adam, child prodigies are typically extreme specialists. They are finely attuned to a particular field of knowledge, demonstrating rapid and often seemingly effortless mastery. While most child prodigies do have high IQs, they do not demonstrate extraordinary performance across the board. Rather, they are bright individuals whose ability is far beyond that of age mates but falls short when compared to adults. Some child prodigies, however, have skills outside the range of even the most able adult competitors. For example, the young chess player studied by Feldman could recreate entire games from memory, an ability even most chess champions do not possess.
For many years, people looked upon child prodigies with a mixture of awe and trepidation. Some cultures even considered gifted children to be a sign of impending doom, but mostly the children’s talents served as entertainment for curious onlookers. It was not until the turn of the twentieth century that researchers began systematic study of gifted children, searching for clues about the nature of intelligence. By far the most industrious program was led by Lewis Terman, who began a study of 1500 genius children that lasted nearly seventy years.
The Terman Study
As one of the founders of our standard IQ test, Lewis Terman spent most of his life studying the nature of intelligence. He believed that intelligence testing was important for identifying child prodigies, whom he felt were destined to lead the country. Not everyone agreed. In the 1920s, popular thinking on child geniuses was that they were frail, sickly, and socially maladapted, certainly not the types one would want in public office. Determined to prove his critics wrong, Terman began one of the most ambitious studies in the history of psychology. He would track the development of 1500 child prodigies over their entire lives. The results of his research had some surprising things to say about what it means to be born with a genius IQ.
To find his subjects, Terman sent his colleagues out to dozens of California schools, where they asked each teacher to name the brightest child in the class, the second brightest, the oldest and the youngest. Nominated children then took a battery of intelligence tests, including the Stanford-Binet IQ exam. Less than 1% of the population receives a score of 145 or above on the test, so Terman set the cut off point for his study at 140. Interestingly, the children most likely to meet Terman’s criteria were the ones identified as the youngest in their class, suggesting that ability to compete with slightly older peers is a good indicator of extreme intellectual talent. Terman also tested siblings of children admitted to his study, and many of them were admitted as well. One family had all five children make the cut. By all accounts, Terman’s subjects were pleased and honored to be included in his study; they even nicknamed themselves “Termites.”
Right from the start, it was clear that Terman was correct about the hardiness of child prodigies. Each time they were tested, results showed that his subjects tended to be healthier than their peers, probably because their comparatively wealthy status afforded them better nutrition and medical care. Terman was also pleased to note that his subjects scored well on traditional measures of success. Most of them graduated college several years ahead of schedule. Compared to their peers, Terman’s children held more professional jobs and thus earned more money. Three Termites became members of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, and eighty-one Termites, including twelve women, were listed in “American Men of Science.” As a group, the Termites earned 350 patents and wrote 200 books.
Life was not always rosy for the Termites, however. Terman was quite surprised to find that starting life with an enormous IQ was no guarantee of future success. While it was true most of his subjects went on to make substantial contributions to society, there were many who seemed to flounder as they reached adulthood. Some had trouble keeping a steady job, others were merely average at the jobs they had. The Termites’ intellectual prowess did not make them immune to mental illness, and a good percentage struggled with alcoholism. At least twenty-two of his subjects committed suicide. Terman searched his early data for clues that might explain why some of his children succeeded where others failed, but he was unable to find any reliable predictors. Furthermore, none of Terman’s subjects achieved the kind of fame or made the genius contributions that he had hoped they would. Terman was correct that precociously bright children grow up to be bright adults, but IQ is not necessarily the best measure of a person’s potential. Among the students passed over for Terman’s study, there were two Nobel laureates. Among Terman’s group, there were none.
What makes a child prodigy?
Most people who have studied child prodigies agree that there is a genetic component to genius. The kids in Terman’s study went on to have exceptionally bright children. When one of Terman’s successors administered the Stanford-Binet IQ test to 1500 of the Termites’ children, he found they had an average IQ of 133, with an astonishing 16% scoring in the gifted range. But even in cases where the child’s ability is remarkably focused, as with music or athletic skills, there is often precedent for such talent within the family. Many times a family’s established interest in the field helps them recognize and nurture the precocious child. Tiger Woods was born with a great deal of raw golf ability, but it might have gone undetected if it weren’t for his father’s early attention. But aside from a probable heritable component to prodigious talent, there is not much known about the biology of intelligence. A few people have suggested that gifted children have greater specialization in brain areas that control motor behavior and increased communication between the two hemispheres. While there is some evidence that children with high IQs have brains that are slightly less lateralized (e.g., they do not have as strong a preference for one hand over the other) but many non-prodigy children are also ambidextrous. Also, it is difficult to know if prodigies are born with superior motor skills, or if they develop them with the intense practice that follows their keen interest in music, drawing, or athletics.
Why Piano and Not Physics?
While nearly every field has precocious contributors, Feldman notes that not all domains are equally likely to produce a child prodigy. Art, for example, is one area where young prodigies are uncommon, and child authors are rarer still. One of the prodigies in Feldman’s study was a boy named Randy, who began writing plays at the age of five. Though he was wise beyond his years, Randy’s dramas still tended to revolve around superheroes, and his language would not be mistaken as the work of an adult. This is in contrast to musical prodigies like the violinist Mi Dori or athletic prodigies like figure skater Tara Lipinski, both of whom were able to compete successfully with adults in their fields at the tender age of thirteen. Feldman proposed that children are most likely to be able to compete at an adult level in fields that are highly structured, with a clear set of established rules. Children seem especially drawn to domains like music or chess, which rely on symbolic representation that relate to each other in fixed patterns. Fields that have more open-ended goals, such as writing or scientific research, often require a depth of experience and abstract thinking that make them difficult for children to master.
Learning from Child Prodigies
Some of the early studies on child prodigies have already provided parents with valuable information. The name of the game, says Feldman, is maximizing a child’s potential. By examining the personal histories of prodigies, we become better at recognizing and nurturing precocious ability. For example, Terman concluded that for children with an IQ over 140, it is often better to let them skip a grade in school rather than risk the child’s losing interest in the institution altogether. Both Feldman and Terman noted that gifted children usually have gifted siblings. Thus, parents with an exceptional older child would be wise to watch for special talent in the younger ones, who can often get lost in the shuffle. It is also important to consider the cautionary threads woven into Feldman and Terman’s tales of genius children. Being born with a high IQ or amazing piano ability is no guarantee of later success, and parents who push too hard are likely to set their child up for a fall. Randy, the young writer from Feldman’s study, had a difficult time adjusting to the fact that other children managed to “catch up” with his writing ability by high school. He was still very bright, but his talent was not as awe-inspiring as it once was. Likewise, parents of seemingly “ordinary” children should not despair; many of the world’s most significant contributions have been made by people who struggled as youngsters. Mozart was a child prodigy; Beethoven was not. The world still marvels at them both.







When NO means NO!


One of the toughest things for me as a parent is having to endure the wrath of my children when they don’t get what they want. Just saying the word “No” to my kids can turn a perfectly wonderful afternoon into a nightmare. As a result, I’m often tempted to give in just to restore the peace. But is this the best approach? I turned to acclaimed parenting guru and author Betsy Brown Braun to give me the low-down on how to say “No.” Turns out if you lay down the law your kids may thank you later. Read on to find out why.

– Julia Storm, Director of Production, The Mother Company

Why is it so important to create clear boundaries and rules for our children?

Children are trying to figure out the extent of their reach – What are the rules of the road? What is ok and what is not ok? Does “No” sometimes mean “Yes?” They can’t figure it out unless there is a clear boundary. So, one reason that we say “No” is so the child will learn. There are 3 peaks all children have to scale in order to grow up and function in the world and often they involve hearing the word “No”:

  • Tolerating disappointment

  • Tolerating frustration

  • Delaying gratification

Learning these will not happen if the child always gets what he wants. In order to tolerate frustration you have to be frustrated, so [as a parent] you have to give the “No” response, however we say it, in order to teach the child to tolerate disappointment.

But there are times when it’s just exhausting to say “No.” Can’t we give in ‘just this once?’

In our world today there are so many parents who work in addition to their work as parents, even ones who don’t get paid in addition to their work as parents — parents who volunteer, parents who have busy lives. We have much less time with our kids than parents used to. No one wants the time she spends with her kids be filled with arguing, fighting or just hearing the child’s fussing resulting from the child’s disappointmentor frustration. So, for the parent it’s just easier to avoid conflict by giving in or doing what the child wants.Their precious time together will be more pleasant. This thinking is short sighted.

Can you expand on that? What kind of attributes are we cultivating in our children by always caving in to their demands?

Kids who aren’t given clear boundaries or ones who always get what they want are the kids who often have trouble playing nicely with others; they have a hard time socializing because they have never experienced being anything but king. They have a hard time keeping friends, a hard time interacting in groups, a hard time taking turns. They seldom know how to delay gratification; they want what they want when they want it, and they have a tough time in the world, interacting with others. Once children get beyond nursery school and kindergarten, the real world is not going to give them just what they want all the time or even most of the time. Their world is then full of disappointment, and they blame it on everyone else, not taking any responsibility themselves. These children aren’t able to look into themselves and say, ‘Gosh, this is happening because I wasn’t helpful or I didn’t give him a turn.’ They often see the world as being against them. A person’s ability to socialize, to interact with others cooperatively, to be part of a team, to be both leader and follower all grow out of his having learned to accept boundaries and to tolerate the frustrations that result from other’s needs and wants, in addition to his own, that he will no doubt encounter.

So is there a “right” way to say “No”?

There are lots of ways there are better than a flat “No.” One way that we say “No” is by saying “Yes.” One of the things that I teach is that very often with our young children ( I’m talking about kids who might be 1-3 years old ), they don’t know what they should be doing, what is the right thing to do. You may think that the child is actively defying you, when it just may be about not knowing, about needing information. So, if your child is jumping on your brand new couch, and you don’t want him jumping on it, you would start by saying, “Do you feel like jumping? You can jump all you want on the bed. But don’t jump on the new couch.” We say “Yes” before we say “No,” “You really really want a cookie; I will put it right over here so you can have that cookie after dinner. Right now you can have carrots.” You are acknowledging what the child wants, and you’re saying “Yes,” that he will get what he wants…later! I’m not saying that will always work. I’m not even saying it will work half the time. But it is often better than a flat out NO!

What if I say “No” and then change my mind?

I don’t believe that you should say “No” to a child if there is a chance that you are going to change your mind and the “No” becomes a “Yes.” As a parent you need to be able to tolerate the reaction you’re going to get if you say “No,” a reaction which might be explosive. You are undermining yourself, your power, your boundaries if you change your “No” into a “Yes.” Of course, it’s ok sometimes to change your mind, but generally, children don’t understand how our minds work, what our reasoning is. So, keeping in mind that they are trying to figure out the rules and the ways of the world, to suddenly say “You know what? I changed my mind. I feel like doing that,” is not helpful to the child. That only teaches him that whining works, that “No” doesn’t really mean “No.” There is a lesson in everything whether you intend it or not. So, I would only say “No” when you are really prepared to FOLLOW THROUGH, to stick to your guns. If you’re not sure, then you can say, “I have to think about it, and I’ll see if I can make that happen or not.”

Is it possible to say “No” too much?

There is a downside to anything too much. I think that kids need to stretch. We don’t want to have little automatons. We want them to try stuff out and figure out that sometimes things are ok, and sometimes they aren’t. The downside to saying “No” too much is that the child stops trying and testing. Trying is really important – moving out, stretching his wings, challenging you, questioning authority – that stuff is good stuff…some of the time. And as they get older, instead of saying “No” right away, perhaps we would say to a 7 or an 8 year old, “Well, give me a good reason why you should do that or have that? ” or “Convince me.” We’re honing all kinds of skills, and if we just give an automatic “No” all the time, the parent becomes this giant thumb that keeps coming down on the child, squashing his very being.

Do you have any tips for parents who have become slaves to their child’s demands?

Yes, people like that are the ones who come to me and say, “I dug myself into this hole, what do I do?” And the first thing I do is I reassure parents that this is an issue that many parents have. I also explain that this mainly happens with a first child, not the second one. It’s part of learning how to be a parent. I let the parents off the hook a bit which makes them available to learning. I say, You can change this. It’s not going to be easy. But it’s not about your child alone. It’s about both of you.” Now, with some families it is about the child; some children are genuinely difficult or challenging. But still, in some way they have enabled that child, allowed the behavior to continue and given him the idea that the way he is behaving is just fine.

Setting these boundaries is really critical to your child’s well-being in the world. Children who have boundaries and limits feel safe. Children who do not, do not feel safe. They are reluctant to take risks or they even act out since there is no one in charge.  They think, “Who is going to stop me? I’m out of control.” Kids need to know that there is someone to stop them, that someone will take care of them. This is even true for teens…who also need boundaries!

I would say to that parent, “I will work with you on this. It’s going to be hard but you are short-sighted if you think this is going to go away if you do nothing.” Wherever there is a struggle, something really hard, it usually leads to a good outcome whether it’s for the child or the parent.

– See more at:






How Lack of Stability Affects Children


By Kathryn Hatter

Stability forms the backbone of a child’s life, providing the structure, strength and consistency that supports the child emotionally and psychologically. If a child’s life involves upset and unrest, due to any number of negative situations, the child is likely to suffer in different ways from a lack of stability.

Behavioral Problems
When a child’s family environment undergoes significant changes or unrest due to single parenting, divorce, remarriage or financial difficulties, the quality of parenting and the parents’ mental health often suffer, state the authors of “Family Structure, Family Stability and Early Child Wellbeing,” published by the Princeton University. The result of this lack of stability may be a child who exhibits behavioral problems such as delinquency, including trespassing, theft, vandalism and setting fires, or school issues, like bullying, fighting in class, disrespecting teachers and administrators and having temper tantrums, advise Paula Fomby and Cynthia Osborne in their article, “Family Instability, Multipartner Fertility and Behavior in Middle Childhood.”
Cognitive Development
The stress and anxiety that accompanies instability can have a direct impact on cognitive development, warns the American Psychological Association. When a youngster experiences this anxiety about issues she cannot control and even understand, it prevents the child from focusing on learning because she probably concentrates less and remembers less.

Health Issues
When parents have difficulty providing a stable home for a child, the child may experience health issues as a result. For example, asthma is typically a controllable disease as long as the patient manages the symptoms carefully. A child with preoccupied or unavailable parents may not receive the care and support he needs, which could result in life-threatening asthmatic incidents, according to “Profiles of Risk: Child Health,” published by the Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness. In general, unstable parents may not seek responsible and necessary health care for a child, often because of distractions or a logistical inability to get care.

Abuse and neglect generally involve trauma for a child, which creates a significantly unstable environment. Along with this trauma, stress, attachment disruptions, sleep issues, anxiety and school difficulties are common, according to physician John Stirling, Jr., author of “Understanding the Behavioral and Emotional Consequences of Child Abuse,” published by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Even after restoring stability, a child often continues to experience the behavior difficulties for a significant time.







We all are likely to benefit from increased levels of emotional security. Emotional security is a rather nebulous concept that includes how we feel about ourselves, how good we feel in relationships with other people who are important to us (eg family), and how confident we are that things will turn out well for us.
Probably all of us feel some elements of doubt in some of these areas, and especially children – if they are able to think in these terms.
One of the main functions of a family unit is to foster feelings of emotional security in children, and often much of the irritating or negative behaviour seen in children can be removed through actively raising the child’s levels of emotional security.
This is an easy claim to make, but often in actuality a harder thing to achieve. Following are some techniques that have been tried and found useful in raising the level of emotional security in children.

1. A very successful technique is to set aside 3 to 5 minutes every night for the child. After the child has gone to bed, mum or dad (take turns) should go in, turn off the light, and sit on the side of the bed in the dark. The child is in the security of its own bed, with a little body contact with the parent, and no eye contact, because it is dark. Then the parents should just talk about their own day, share some of the things that happened. No questions, and not asking the child to talk. When the child learns that this is a regular occurrence s/he will initiate things and feel free to share, and topics involving emotional stress are likely to come out.

2. When the child makes a statement to you (eg “I hate school”), try not to block, or answer the comment. Try to extend the comment. The child may not really realise the feeling behind this statement, and you may never find out unless you can get the child to clarify it. One technique that can be effective, is to hand it back to the child in a questioning way – (eg “You hate school?”) to which the reply may be – “no just the teachers” – so you say, “You hate all the teachers?” “Well, not all, mainly Mr Jones” etc.

3. The question “Why” rarely achieves anything with little children. Seldom can they provide an adequate answer to such a question, and so effectively they are cornered. Try to avoid “why”.

4. Also try to avoid the words “NO” or “WRONG”, especially when the child is attempting to do something (eg reading). “Almost right” or “Not quite but getting better” are likely to keep the child interested and keen to try. The words “NO” and “WRONG” are likely to make a child give up as a failure.

5. Try to let your children know that they are good at things, that they are nice people, and that you like them. Generally we tell our children when they fail, when they annoy us, or when we feel let down by them, but we don’t let them know the good things. Many children thus get the impression that they are failures and develop a poor self-concept.

6. Right handed children like to sleep on the right side, or on the stomach with head to the left shoulder. Left handed children generally sleep facing the other way. Try to place your child’s bed so that in the natural sleeping position (according to handedness) s/he sleeps facing the wall.
This tends to give the child added security, and often has the effect of eliminating problems with light sleepers as well as nightmares and bed-wetting. Placing a child’s bed at right angles to a wall, extending out into the room, is best avoided with children who are light or restless sleepers, as it provides little or no security to the sleeping child.

7. If a child needs a nightlight, try a blue or green bulb rather than a red one. Blue and green are pacifying colors, whereas red is stimulating.

8. Try to accept your child’s reality. If the child is upset or scared about something, irrespective of how irrelevant or trivial it may seem, accept that this is the real feeling of the child. Rather than dismissing the complaint or saying that it does not matter or not to be silly, ask what the child is feeling and then help to go through these feelings so that the child can either accept or work around the worrying feeling.

9. If possible, try to set aside a short amount of time on a regular basis, in which your children can have your undivided attention perhaps ten minutes straight after tea, or may be while doing the dishes. This may help avoid the repetitious ‘in a minute’ response which we constantly find ourselves giving to our children.

10. Read to your children. Younger children (2 – 6) enjoy and benefit from favourite books being read and re-read to them numerous times – so that they learn the whole story by heart and can “read” it back to themselves just by looking at the book. Older children (7 –

10) benefit from having something interesting read to them by a parent, so that they feel they are sharing a common interest with the parent – maybe historic stories or children’s encyclopaedia stories.

11. Fool around with your children. Let them see that adults can laugh and play, can be silly, as well as being serious.

12. Consistency on the part of adults is of prime importance. If you act consistently the child will know where it stands. If not, the child will be confused, and become unpredictable as well. Always do as you say. Do not threaten punishment unless you are willing to carry it out, otherwise you lose credibility. The same applies to offering rewards.





Holidays and the In-Laws
By Wilford Wooten


How have you dealt with special days like Christmas, Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, Easter, Memorial Day, and birthdays? Most of us might think only in terms of the way we grew up, perhaps with Mom and Dad, and expect these occasions to be celebrated the same way.
The only problem, now that you’re married, is whose mom and dad’s celebration of the holidays you’re going to adopt. An added challenge confronts blended families, who may have a host of combinations of relationships and traditions to consider.
One husband and wife, like many others, found themselves in a quandary. Where should they go for Thanksgiving? In an effort to respect the desires of both sets of parents and a grandmother, they ended up rushing from house to house. The result: They didn’t enjoy the food or the time together.
Sometimes practical considerations minimize this conflict. If family members live far apart, the question of where to spend the holidays may be answered when travel costs are taken into account. Often, though, the solutions aren’t quite so clear.

Premarital counseling may be the best place to start addressing this question; it’s frequently covered in that setting. Whether you discussed this important area of family relationships before you were married or are just now beginning to deal with it, here are some key concepts that can help you decide how and where to spend your holidays:

Sit down with your spouse and share—orally and in writing—how each of you feels about holidays and how they’re spent. Include major national holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and other occasions that are special to you. If it’s your family’s tradition to take a drive to see the changing autumn leaves, for instance, don’t hesitate to mention it. The same goes for marking the start of fishing season, the last day of school, or the Super Bowl.

Explain how you spent the holidays as a child. Which aspects did you enjoy? Which would you like to change? If the two of you were raised in different countries or cultures, what holidays could you learn more about? For example, a spouse who grew up in England might not realize the significance of Thanksgiving and Independence Day to a mate who was raised in the U.S.

Consider how your parents and other relatives may wish to have you involved. Perhaps a Christmas Eve service together is important to the wife’s parents, while Christmas dinner is central to the husband’s. Try to be open to the desires of family members—but not controlled by them.

Agree on how you as a couple would like to establish your own holiday traditions. Work for balance and fairness. For example, you might decide to spend Christmas morning with your parents and Christmas evening with your spouse’s (if both live close by). The following year you might spend the whole day at home as a couple—or, if you have children, with them.

Be open to changing your plan as needed. Flexibility and variation can help to avoid hard feelings when the in-laws’ expectations aren’t met. For instance, you might invite relatives to gather at your place instead of agonizing over which ones to visit. You might even take a vacation during the holidays to add variety and break the cycle of expectations.

Despite the usefulness of these steps, holiday observances still can be an emotional minefield for couples and in-laws. Here are some cautions to keep in mind:

It may be a lot easier for you and your spouse to change what you want for the holidays than for parents to adjust what’s been important to them for many years. Share openly with them some of your ideas and hopes for holiday times, letting them know that you value being with them.

Develop realistic expectations of how the holidays should be spent. Wishful thinking generally leads to hurt feelings and disappointments. Personality differences, physical limitations, and philosophical disagreements don’t disappear just because a particular date on the calendar has arrived. On the contrary, these factors often become more pronounced under stress—and most holidays provide plenty of that.

Holiday gift-giving can be a source of conflict and hurt. While it’s better to give than receive (Acts 20:35), most people seem to prefer a balance of the two. Exchanging presents can easily get out of hand, creating hardship for family members who can’t afford the expense. Try creative options. For example, you might give Christmas or birthday gifts to immediate family members, exchange names for other relatives, or give single gifts to family units.

There may be no specific right and wrong ways for families to spend the holidays together, but there could be better ways for you to approach holiday traditions and expectations. To keep those days worth celebrating, remember these tips:

Aim to make holiday times enjoyable and memorable.
Balance the development of your own traditions with those of the homes you came from.

To read more go to the link above: Focus on the Family.




Making the Holidays Less Materialistic


“The gimmes” are all around us during the holiday season. It can be hard for kids — and parents — to look beyond all of the product-driven hoopla and remember what the holidays are really about.
It’s not the gifts but what’s behind them that’s important — the spirit of giving. Help your kids learn the fun of giving, and how rewarding it can be to look for, make, and wrap something special — or do something special — for people they care about and others who are in need.

Here are five ways to curb materialism in your kids and reinforce the real reason for the season:
1. Teach Kids to Question Marketing Messages
From the TV commercials during cartoons to the promos on the backs of cereal boxes, marketing messages target kids of all ages. And to them, everything looks ideal, like something they simply have to have. It all sounds so appealing — often, so much better than it really is.
The ads kids see around the holidays can help foster unrealistic expectations and lead to disappointment. After imagining their “wish list” items all around them, it’s hard for reality to measure up when they actually open their gifts.
Of course, it’s nearly impossible to eliminate all exposure to marketing messages. You can certainly turn off the TV or at least limit your kids’ watching time, but they’ll still see and hear ads for the latest gizmos and must-haves.
Explain, when your kids ask for products they see advertised, that commercials and other ads are designed to make people want things they don’t necessarily need. And these ads are often meant to make us think that these products will make us happier somehow. Talking to kids about what things are like in reality can help put things into perspective.
Ask what they think about the products they see advertised as you’re watching TV, listening to the radio, reading magazines, or shopping together. Ask thought-provoking questions, such as “Do you think that product really looks, tastes, or works the same way as it seems to in the ad?”
To limit exposure to TV commercials, experts recommend having kids watch public television stations, recorded programs (without the ads), and children’s videos and DVDs.
Teach your kids that not everything they want can always be theirs and that a little “want” here and there isn’t all bad. The key is to want things in moderation and to fully appreciate what you’re given. Emphasize that the holidays are a special time, when a lot of love and thought is put into gift giving.

2. Focus on Family Traditions
Traditions that focus on family or friends can be a great way to put meaning back into the holidays. Here are a couple of ideas:
Talk about which family traditions your family loves the most. Then figure out how you can put more emphasis on them. If you love the tradition of lighting the menorah, get together as a group to make your own candles. If you enjoy the family trip to pick out a tree, make it an all-day event and head to a tree farm to choose your own.
Find out what the holidays mean to others. Have your kids talk to a grandparent, parent, uncle, or aunt about how they spent the holidays growing up. Some holiday traditions that used to be strong — such as neighborhood caroling — are all but lost today. Maybe you’d like to revive some of these as a way to share some holiday spirit with your family, friends, or community.
Build some new traditions. If you don’t have any family traditions, it’s never too late to start. Get together around activities that you all enjoy, such as cooking or ice-skating. Ask your kids what they would enjoy doing every year and make an effort to do it. If you can’t all decide on one thing, make traditions out of several, so that everyone feels like part of the festivities.

3. Teach Kids to Give of Themselves
Volunteerism, especially around the holidays, offers an ideal opportunity for families to have fun and feel closer to each other at the same time. Community service helps to drive home the message that giving is much more than laying down cash for the hot gift of the season or scrambling around to buy mounds of presents.
Volunteerism can show kids that giving your time, effort, and kindness is more rewarding than just expecting to receive lots of presents.
Also, if volunteering begins at an early age, it can become part of your kids’ lives — something they just want to do. It can teach them:
that one person can make a difference. A wonderful, empowering message for kids is that they are important enough to have an impact on someone or something else.
the benefit of sacrifice. By giving up a toy to a less fortunate child, a child learns that sometimes it’s good to sacrifice. Cutting back on recreation time to help others reinforces that there are important things other than ourselves and our immediate needs.
tolerance. Working in community service can bring kids and teens together with people of different backgrounds, abilities, ethnicities, ages, and education and income levels. They’ll likely find that even the most diverse individuals can be united by common values.
to be even more appreciative of what they have. By helping others who aren’t as fortunate, kids can better see all the remarkable things to be grateful for in their own lives.
Choose to help an organization or group that fits with your family’s values and the things you believe in. Just a few ways you can help out in your community and beyond:
Sponsor another family in need or purchase some presents for less fortunate children through a toy donation program. Let your kids pick out and wrap the gifts themselves.
If your kids love animals, talk to your local animal shelter. Many distribute staples like pet food to low-income pet owners over the holidays and need volunteers to help.
Give back to the elderly in your area. Help out at a nursing home; visit with older people who could use a little extra joy and company around the holidays; bring gifts or meals to those who are homebound; or lend a hand to elderly neighbors with decorating, cooking, or wrapping presents.
Volunteer your family’s time by helping out at a children’s hospital or homeless shelter or building or refurbishing housing for people in need.
Community service can teach kids that giving comes in many forms, not just as presents. Emphasize that giving of their time, effort, and caring can mean so much more — and last longer — than any gift that money can buy.

4. Give Gifts With Meaning
Of course, gift giving will always be a large part of the holiday season. And with good reason — it can teach kids to really consider what might make others happy and what’s important to people they care about. Watching loved ones’ faces as they open presents that your children put a lot of heart and thought into can make the holidays more worthwhile for your kids.
But presents don’t always have to be purchased in a store. Teach your kids how to put some real meaning and feelings into their gifts this year and beyond. Making their own presents can help show just how much kids care and can make the experience of giving more rewarding for both kids and their gift recipients.
Here are some ideas to get your family started:
Make homemade gifts together.
Create photo albums, especially small “brag books” that family members can carry around with them. Not only does this capture precious memories and show just how much they mean, making photo album gifts also shows loved ones that a lot of thought and time was put into their presents.
Print and frame favorite digital photos of friends and loved ones.
Create customized stationery for people on your family’s list using your home computer and printer.
Have your kids create their own customized artwork — collages, paintings, drawings, etc. — and put them in fun frames. They can even decorate the frames.
Create a customized family tree for family members (something grandparents would especially appreciate).
Make your own batches of presents, like potpourri or ornaments, or wrapping paper and customized home decorations like wreaths.
Create personalized family videos for long-distance friends and loved ones.
Give philanthropic gifts. Many communities hold fairs where you can buy gifts by making a donation to causes your family and friends care about. Others offer actual gifts made by people with special needs. Check out charity organizations’ websites for information on donating money on behalf of others and about gifts whose proceeds go to the charity itself.
Instead of giving gifts of things, teach kids to consider giving gifts of time. For example, their grandmother may welcome their help in learning how to use a computer program. Or their little sister may want to learn how to knit. Have family members create special gift certificates (e.g., “two free car washes,” “five free specially prepared meals,” “10 free loads of laundry,” etc.). These days, when everyone’s so stretched, a gift of time can be more meaningful than one that costs big bucks.

Be a Good Holiday Role Model
Show your kids that the holidays can be joyous and fulfilling, not just a stress-ridden time that revolves around marathon shopping trips. Emphasize early on that it’s not about tons of presents, but giving and receiving a few heartfelt gifts.
By starting early with traditions that emphasize the true meaning of the holidays and the caring thoughts behind gift giving, you can help to mold your kids’ perspectives on the holiday season and what it means to both give and receive all year long.




Most Toddlers Are Picky Eaters

Many toddlers express their budding independence through eating — or not eating, as the case may be. So nearly all toddlers could be described as picky eaters. If kids don’t like a food, they won’t eat it — no rocket science there.
Does your toddler want to eat only macaroni and cheese? When a child is stuck on one food, a parent might feel forced to serve that food every day so the child eats something. But eventually the child may tire of that food — and then what?
You choose the foods on your toddler’s plate — and you don’t have to serve macaroni and cheese daily. If you do, you miss an opportunity to introduce new foods and increase the number of those your child is willing to eat. Most of these “food jags” won’t last long if parents don’t give in to them.
Kids won’t starve, but they will learn to be more flexible rather than go hungry. Present a variety of healthy foods — including established favorites and some new foods — to make up the menu. Your toddler may surprise you one day by eating all of them.
Your toddler doesn’t like green beans the first time around? Don’t stop serving them. Kids are naturally slow to accept new tastes and textures, so keep reintroducing the beans. Serve a small portion and encourage your child to try a bite without nagging or forcing.
And be sure you’re setting a good example! Serve nutritious foods that you like or eat something new so your kids see you enjoying what you’re asking them to eat.

Don’t Bargain for Bites
You want your child to eat the spinach you serve; your child drops it on the floor. Your well-meaning impulse may be to start talking up nutritious foods, saying how big and strong spinach will make your child. Or you might start bargaining: “Well, if you eat three more bites, I’ll give you a cookie.” The problem is that these tactics don’t work in the long run.
Who hasn’t used the line about spinach making you strong? But this approach may build dislike for the healthy food rather than acceptance. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t teach kids about the benefits of healthy foods, but don’t push too much by celebrating every bite of spinach your toddler eats or disapproving when he or she refuses.
For some kids, dinner becomes a negotiation session from the very start, and parents have been using dessert as an incentive for decades. But this doesn’t encourage healthy eating. Instead it creates the impression that “treats” are more valuable than mealtime food. Foods like candy and cookies are not essential to a child’s diet and it’s not a deprivation to not serve them during the toddler years.
Threatening a punishment, much like bribing a child with dessert, ultimately isn’t effective either. It creates a power struggle.
To encourage healthy eating, continue offering your child an array of nutritious choices — and keep the mealtime mood upbeat. Also try these tips:
Serve right-sized portions. Parents often overestimate how much food a child should eat. Especially with foods that aren’t yet favorites, a couple of tablespoons is plenty to start with. Small portions are less overwhelming, while bigger portions may encourage overeating.
Don’t negotiate. It’s fine to encourage kids to “try one bite” but don’t fall into the negotiating trap. Prepare and serve healthy meals and let them decide what to eat.
Have family meals together. Set your toddler’s place at the family table — it’s good for kids of this age to see their parents and siblings eating together and eating healthy foods. Kids eat a more nutritious diet, with more fruits and vegetables, when they regularly have family meals.
Create positive peer pressure. Toddlers are more likely to eat fruits and vegetables if they see their peers eating them, so look for opportunities where they can eat healthy with friends.

Let Kids Feed Themselves
Kids should start finger feeding around 9 months of age and try using utensils by 15-18 months. Provide many opportunities for this, but make sure your toddler eats enough so that the experience doesn’t lead to frustration.
Jump in to help when necessary, but pay attention to hunger cues and signs that your child is full. You can always offer more if your child still seems hungry, but you can’t take the food back if you overfeed. When you’re controlling the fork or spoon, resist the urge to slip in one more bite. And as your toddler gets the hang of eating, step back and let your child take over.
Some parents think that not letting kids feed themselves is for the best, but it takes away control that rightfully belongs to kids at this age. They need to decide whether to eat, what they will eat, and how much to eat — this is how they learn to recognize the internal cues that tell them when they’re hungry and when they’re full. Just as important, toddlers need to learn and practice the mechanics of feeding themselves.
Listen to Your Child
Be alert to what toddlers say through their actions. A child who is building a tower of crackers or dropping carrots on the floor may be telling you he or she is full. Pushing food on a child who’s not hungry may dull the internal cues that help kids know when they’ve eaten enough.
But this doesn’t mean that it’s practical or advisable for kids to eat on demand all day long. Those who eat all day may not learn what it is like to be hungry or full. That’s why structured meals and snack times are important.
Kids can manage their hunger when they come to expect that food will be available during certain times of the day. If a child chooses not to eat anything at all, simply offer food again at the next meal or snack time.

Can Kids Skip a Meal?
Many toddlers need to eat often — as much as six times a day, including three meals and two or three snacks. Keep this in mind as you establish a pattern of meal and snacks. But realize that a food schedule only sets the times that you will present food to your toddler. Your child may not take every opportunity to eat.
Allowing kids to skip a meal is a difficult concept because many of us were raised to clean our plates and not waste food. But kids should be allowed to respond to their own hunger cues, a vital skill when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight. That means eating when hungry — and sometimes not eating, even if it’s time for Thanksgiving dinner.
Set times for meals and snacks and try to stick to them. A child who skips a meal finds it reassuring to know when to expect the next one. Avoid offering snacks or pacifying hungry kids with cups of milk or juice right before a meal — this can diminish their appetite and decrease their willingness to try a new food being offered.
Avoid the Junk Food Trap
Toddlers need to eat healthy to get the nutrients their growing bodies need. Candy, potato chips, and other low-nutrient “junk foods” shouldn’t be part of their diet because they can crowd out the healthy foods needed. Also, food preferences are established early in life, so don’t miss opportunities to help your toddler develop a taste for nutritious foods.
Even if your child likes candy or chips, don’t feel like you must give in. Kids can’t run to the store to buy them, so just don’t keep them in the house.
If your toddler asks for candy, simply say, “We don’t have any candy.” Then present two healthy snack alternatives to choose from. Even a child who mourns the lack of candy will still enjoy the sense of control from deciding which healthy snack to eat.




Children with Disabilities: Understanding Sibling Issues
By: National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY)


The birth of a child with a disability or chronic illness, or the discovery that a child has a disability, has a profound effect on a family. Children suddenly must adjust to a brother or sister who, because of their condition, may require a large portion of family time, attention, money, and psychological support. Yet it is an important concern to any family that the non-disabled sibling adjust to the sibling with a disability. It is important because the non-disabled child’s reactions to a sibling with a disability can affect the overall adjustment and development of self-esteem in both children.
In any family, each sibling, and each relationship that siblings have, is unique, important, and special. Brothers and sisters influence each other and play important roles in each other’s lives. Indeed, sibling relationships make up a child’s first social network and are the basis for his or her interactions with people outside the family (Powell & Ogle, 1985). Brothers and sisters are playmates first; as they mature, they take on new roles with each other. They may, over the years, be many things to each other — teacher, friend, companion, follower, protector, enemy, competitor, confidant, role model. When this relationship is affected by a sibling’s disability or chronic illness, the long-term benefits of the relationship may be altered (Crnic & Leconte, 1986). For example, the child with a disability may have limited opportunities to interact with other children outside the family; thus, social interaction between siblings often takes on increasing importance.
Each child’s personality and temperament play an important role in their response toward a sibling, including one with a disability. Although both positive and negative feelings exist in all sibling relationships, McHale and Gamble (1987) conclude, “…for school-age children and young adolescents, these relationships tend to be more positive than negative in their feeling tone. Furthermore, children with disabled siblings appear to have more positive and fewer negative behavioral interactions than do those with non-disabled siblings…” (p. 141). These positive aspects include higher levels of empathy and altruism, increased tolerance for differences, increased sense of maturity and responsibility, and pride in the sibling’s accomplishments (Powell & Ogle, 1985).

Today, many areas have yet to be explored concerning siblings. Parents and professionals, for instance, need more information about sibling adjustment from the perspective of different family systems (Skrtic, Summers, Brotherson, & Turnbull, 1984). For example, how do different family compositions — the single parent, adopted children, foster children, and families of different cultures — affect sibling relationships? Powell and Ogle (1985) summarize the importance of studying siblings when they state: “Siblings have much to share; they have much to teach those who wish to help them. They can guide the actions of parents and professionals so that their needs can best be met.” (p. 5).

Non-disabled sibling reactions and the family environment
Living with a brother or sister, including one with a disability, can be rewarding, confusing, instructive, and stressful. Siblings of a child with a disabling condition express a range of emotions and responses to that sibling, similar in most ways to the range of emotions experienced toward siblings who have no disability (Powell & Ogle, 1985). Children react toward a sibling with a disability with feelings of love, empathy, pride, guilt, anger, and support; the predominance and prevalence of these reactions have great impact on the levels of stress and coping ability of the sibling with a disability. The positive or negative nature of the relationships between siblings and among family members may be influenced by factors such as these:
the family’s resources;
the family’s lifestyle;
the family’s child-rearing practices;
the kind and severity of the disability;
the number of children in the family;
the age differences between children in the family;
the other stress-producing conditions that exist in the family;
the kinds of coping mechanisms and interaction patterns that exist within the family; and
the kind and quality of the support services available in the community.

Each child’s reaction to having a sibling with a disability will vary depending on his or her age and developmental level. The responses and feelings of the non-disabled sibling toward the sibling with a disability are not likely to be static, but rather tend to change over time as the sibling adapts to having a brother or sister with a disability and copes with day-to-day realities. Preschool-aged siblings, for example, may feel confused, afraid, anxious, and angry about a brother or sister’s disability or illness. All children are different; the intensity of a child’s concerns, needs, and experiences will vary from sibling to sibling, as will a child’s reaction to and interpretation of events. The younger the child the more difficult it may be for him or her to understand the situation and to interpret events realistically. Non-disabled siblings may resent the time their parents give to the sibling with a handicap and perceive it as rejection. They may wonder what is wrong with them that their parents love their sister or brother with a disability more. During the early years the non-disabled sibling may mimic the physical or behavioral actions of the child with a disability, or the non-disabled sibling may regress in behavioral development. Later on, he or she may be prone to extremes of behavior such as “acting out” or becoming the “perfect” child

Elementary school-aged children may feel embarrassed or ashamed as they recognize differences between their sibling and someone else’s brother or sister. They may worry about “catching” or developing the problem, and they may feel guilt because they themselves do not have a disability. They may also feel protective and supportive of their sibling, and this may trigger conflicts with peers.

Young adults may have future-oriented concerns. They may wonder what will become of their brother or sister with a disability. They may also be concerned about how the people they socialize with, date, and later marry will accept the brother or sister with a disability. Additional issues faced by young adults may include genetic counseling when planning their own families, and coping with anxiety about future responsibilities for the brother or sister with a disability or illness.

Family stress factors
The birth of a child with a disability, or the discovery that a child has a disability, can produce stress among family members. Stress can also be caused by a number of ongoing factors, or by special circumstances. Siblings need an explanation for the tensions within the family and the cause of the tensions.

Some families are stressed by the amount of financial resources required to meet the needs of the child who has a disability. Some parents may expect non-disabled siblings to accept the brother or sister with a disability as “normal.” This expectation can lead to internalized feelings of anxiety and jealousy which the non-disabled sibling may be reluctant to voice. The parents, in turn, may fail to recognize the child’s unhappiness and may deny that a problem exists. During an interview with the Parent Advocacy Coalition for Educational Rights Center, Inc. (PACER), Beth, a young sibling, offered parents some sage advice:

“I think… I’d want them to understand that sometimes siblings are going to get jealous of the extra help and attention that a brother or sister who’s handicapped receives. Parents shouldn’t get mad about the jealousy or make the kids without a handicap feel too guilty about it if sometimes they resent the extra attention. Parents have to sit down and talk to the brothers and sisters who are non-handicapped about what the handicap really means. Kids don’t automatically understand it by themselves” (Binkard, 1987, p.5).
Non-disabled siblings may feel obligated to compensate for the child with the disability, to make up for that child’s limitations. They may be acting as a surrogate parent, assuming more responsibility than would be usual in the care of a family by providing their parents with assistance and support, which they otherwise might not have, in the care of the child with a disability. The non-disabled child may experience jealousy because he or she may be required to do family chores, whereas, the sibling with a disability is not required to do them — despite the fact that the sibling with a disability may be unable to do them, or would have great difficulty doing them. The non-disabled sibling may resent having to integrate the sibling with a disability into the neighborhood peer group, and may experience or perceive peer rejection because of having a sibling with a disability. Finally, the non-disabled sibling may feel embarrassment because of a sibling’s physical characteristics or inappropriate behavior. Essentially, parents, other adult family members, and professionals should realize that non-disabled siblings need special understanding, attention, support and recognition of their unique contributions to the family system (Powell & Ogle, 1985).
Siblings with disabilities, on the other hand, also experience stress as family members. These common stresses include frustration at not being able to make themselves understood; unhappiness at being left to play alone; irritation over constant reminders about everything; withdrawal because of lack of social skills; low self-esteem; and anger resulting from an inability to do things as easily and quickly as their non-disabled brothers and sisters. Through it all, with understanding and support, there are usually many positive interactions and normal sibling give-and-take situations from which each learns and matures.

When parents have a double standard for disabled and non-disabled children, conflicts can arise. Even though the child with the disability, in fact, may need and receive more parental attention, the amount given may be perceived as unfair by non-disabled siblings. Some parents, on the other hand, may tend to overindulge the normal sibling in an effort to compensate for a brother or sister with a disability. The normal rivalry between all siblings may cause the non-disabled sibling to perceive incorrectly that the parents favor or love best the sibling with a disability. Mary expressed the resentment she feels when her brother is dealt with lightly in comparison to her punishments:

“Non-handicapped kids can get pushed aside when their brothers or sisters have handicaps. Andrew seems to get help naturally — it’s like attention to his needs is “built into the system.” I’m the bad one, but he can do no wrong. He makes all the messes, but I get into trouble if I don’t empty the dishwasher.” (Binkard, 1987, p.10)

The importance of information
Unlike their parents, siblings may have no knowledge of life without a brother or sister with a disability (Featherstone, 1980). McKeever (1983) tells us that siblings generally are poorly informed about disabilities. Yet siblings’ needs for information may be as great, or greater than those of parents, because of their identification with their brother or sister with a disability. It is important to bear in mind that they have limited life experiences to assist them in putting a disability into perspective (Featherstone, 1980). Parents should respect the non-disabled siblings’ need to be recognized as an individual who has concerns and questions as well as his or her right to know about the disability. Non-disabled siblings may require information throughout their lives in a manner and form appropriate to their maturity.

For many siblings, anxiety-producing feelings often are not expressed in day-to-day family interactions and discussions, and are shared even less at school. These internalized feelings complicate sibling relationships, for children need to vent their emotions. Children should be given an explanation for their sibling’s problems so that they will not make incorrect assumptions.
Parents and professionals need to be aware that there may be a gap between the non-disabled sibling’s knowledge and actions. A non-disabled sibling may be able to rationally explain a brother’s or sister’s disability to inquiring friends or neighbors, but may still exhibit temper tantrums over the same sibling’s actions in the home.
Most importantly, the need for information and understanding does not have to be addressed solely by the parents. A child’s disability is a concern which should be shared by parents, helping professionals, and society. For example, some progressive clinics and hospitals have designed programs that include siblings from the beginning. These programs offer Family Support Groups which bring entire families together as a means of sharing information and mutual support.

It is important for educators to be sensitive to non-disabled siblings’ feelings and needs. Educators can do much to promote positive sibling interactions as well as acceptance of disabilities in all children. During the school years, especially the early years, teachers can help to promote sibling awareness and interaction by providing opportunities for siblings to learn about disabilities. For example, conducting a “sibling day” or a sibling workshop can be an excellent way of introducing siblings to a variety of disabilities. A “sibling day” can be held on a school day or on a weekend.
On this day, activities can include a presentation by “Kids on the Block,” disability simulation games, sign language instruction, and sharing positive experiences about having a sibling with a disability. Siblings who are not disabled might be interested in seeing and/or participating in some of the unique activities in which their brothers or sisters with disabilities participate while in school. For example, siblings of students with orthopedic impairments might see a physical therapy room and go through activities a student might perform in physical therapy. Siblings of students with hearing impairments might learn a song or poem in sign language.
Information puts fears into perspective. In most instances, simply knowing the facts about a disability or chronic illness takes away the sting of embarrassment, as well as uncertainty and fear. While embarrassment can and does occur in many situations over the years, knowledge can help one cope.

Ask parent groups, social workers, therapists, doctors, teachers, or counselors about the availability of support groups and other sibling resources in your area.

The impact on a sibling with a disability or chronic illness
Most of the sibling research has focused on the effects of a child with a disability or chronic illness on non-disabled siblings. Also important is the influence of the non-disabled sibling on the child with a disability or chronic illness. Crnic and Leconte (1986) report that the non-disabled sibling’s impact upon the child with a disability may vary across the family’s life. While very little work has been done in this area, researchers do stress the reciprocity of sibling relationships.

Planning for the future: Sibling concerns
Planning for the future raises many important issues for the family of a child with a disability. Powell and Ogle (1985) note that the most challenging of these dilemmas is the care of the adult sibling who has a disability. Even though non-disabled adult siblings have lives (and often families) of their own, they face unusual, additional responsibilities because of their unique relationship with their brother or sister with a disability.
The amount of responsibility that adult non-disabled siblings assume for their adult sibling with a disability varies with individuals and with circumstances. It is dictated by a consideration of family and job responsibilities, personal choice, and available community support.
Perhaps the most challenging issue families face is, on the one hand, encouraging and fostering the independence and self-determination of the person with a disability and, on the other hand, facing the reality that, at some level, assistance may be necessary.

Suggestions for families
When planning for the future of the sibling with a disability, you should consider such things as mobility, social and communication skills, education, and the individual’s own ideas about where to live and work. Even after careful planning and the appointment of a guardian or co-guardians, plans should be made for emergencies. A file should be kept in a safe place, known to all family members. The following ideas should be addressed when making future plans and the information should be included in this accessible file:
Develop financial plans for future care. If the family is considering establishing a trust for the family member with the disability, it should consider the incomes of the children in the family, including the sibling with a disability. Make a will only with an attorney experienced in devising wills for those who have an heir with a disability. Inheritances must be treated with caution. It is especially important to investigate the continued eligibility for certain social services if assets from an estate, pension, or life insurance are left to the child with a disability.

Know your state’s laws regarding guardianship and independence. Do not assume that you as parents will automatically remain your child’s guardian when he or she reaches the age of majority in your state. Establish whether the sibling with a disability requires no, partial, or full guardianship. This information should be in writing, and, if possible, make contingency plans in case the first-choice guardian is unable to assume that role. Be aware of the consequences in your state of not having a guardian appointed.
Non-disabled siblings should know where to access the needed educational, vocational, and medical records of the disabled sibling, and be ready to anticipate his or her changing future needs.
Families should consider the future health and care of the disabled child. Parents should document where he or she can receive medical care and the financial resources and arrangements necessary for this care.

Families should gain an understanding of the legal and eligibility requirements of programs available to the family member with a disability. Investigate resources through government programs, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Vocational Rehabilitation, Independent Living Centers, employment services, parent and disability groups.

Families should discover the types of community resources available. The range of services and resources varies considerably according to place of residence. Keep abreast of any changes in the availability of these services. Consider the sibling’s need for long-term care, as well as for employment and companionship.
Be aware that, as families grow and develop, the members within it change. Living with and caring for a child with a disability is different from living with and caring for an adult with a disability. Family members should continually ask themselves the following questions:
What are the needs of the sibling with a disability?
How will these needs change?
What can be expected from local support groups in the community?
What is and will be my level of involvement?
Is the involvement financially, emotionally and psychologically realistic for me?
How will the responsibility be shared with other family members?
Are my career plans compatible with my responsibilities for my brother or sister with a disability?
Will my future spouse accept my brother or sister?
The care of a sibling with a disability or chronic illness is, in large part, a family affair and a responsibility that should be shared as evenly as possible. By planning effectively for the future, parents can help ease the responsibility and the feelings of stress that uncertainty about the future can bring.

Suggestions to parents
Parents set the tone for sibling interactions and attitudes by example and by direct communications. In any family, children should be treated fairly and valued as individuals, praised as well as disciplined, and each child should have special times with parents. Thus, parents should periodically assess the home situation. Although important goals for a child with special needs are to develop feelings of self-worth and self-trust, to become as independent as possible, to develop trust in others, and to develop to the fullest of his or her abilities, these goals are also important to non-disabled siblings.

To every extent possible, parents should require their children with disabilities to do as much as possible for themselves. Families should provide every opportunity for a normal family life by doing things together, such as cleaning the house or yard; or going on family outings to the movies, the playground, museums, or restaurants. Always, the child with the disability should be allowed to participate as much as possible in family chores, and should have specific chores assigned as do the other children.

Care giving responsibilities for the child with a disability or chronic illness should be shared by all family members. It is especially important that the burden for care giving does not fall onto the shoulders of an older sibling. If there is an older sister, there is a tendency in some families to give her the primary responsibility, or an excessive amount of it. Today, however, more communities are providing resources to ease the family’s care giving burdens. Examples include recreation activities, respite care, and parent support groups.

Powell and Ogle (1985) present several strategies suggested by non-disabled siblings themselves for parents to consider in their interactions with their non-disabled children. These siblings suggest that parents should:
Be open and honest.
Limit the care giving responsibilities of siblings.
Use respite care and other supportive services.
Accept the disability.
Schedule special time with the non-disabled sibling
Let siblings settle their own differences.
Welcome other children and friends into the home.
Praise all siblings.
Recognize that they are the most important, most powerful teachers of their children.
Listen to siblings.
Involve all siblings in family events and decisions.
Require the disabled child to do as much for himself or herself as possible.
Recognize each child’s unique qualities and family contribution.
Recognize special stress times for siblings and plan to minimize negative effects.
Use professionals when indicated to help siblings.
Teach siblings to interact.
Provide opportunities for a normal family life and normal family activities.

Join sibling-related organizations.
Children with special needs, disabilities, or chronic illness may often need more help and require more attention and planning from their parents and others in order to achieve their maximum independence. Brothers and sisters can give parents some of the extra help and support they need; the special relationship of brothers and sisters, disabled and non-disabled, is often lifelong. This special and unique bond among siblings can foster and encourage the positive growth of the entire family.
A final word

It is important for parents, siblings, and professionals to utilize the positive resources discussed here in order to cope with a variety of special circumstances, and to adapt them to meet individual needs as they change. Together, family members, as well as professionals, must strive to accent the “abilities” of disabilities, not only for a brother or sister with a disability, but for the entire family.





Managing Stress For A Healthy Family


Evaluate your lifestyle. As a parent, it’s important to model healthy behaviors for your children. Children are more likely to lead a healthy lifestyle and less likely to associate stress with unhealthy behaviors if the whole family practices healthy living and good stress management techniques. So, ask yourself ― How do I respond to stress? Do I tend to overeat or engage in other unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking and drinking alcohol, when I feel stressed? In what ways could my stress coping skills be improved?

Talk about it. If you notice that your children are looking worried or stressed, ask them what’s on their minds. Having regular conversations can help a family work together to better understand and address any stressors children are experiencing. Low levels of parental communication have been associated with poor decision making among children and teens.1 Talking to your children and promoting open communication and problem solving is just as important as eating well and getting enough exercise and sleep.

Create a healthy environment. Your home, work space and even social environment can influence your behaviors. Altering your environment can help alleviate stress. For example, cleaning up a cluttered environment can help. Look around your home and even your car and ask yourself, does this space feel clear and relaxing? Clearing up your home space for the family is something you and your children can control, and it teaches children to focus on those things they can control when feeling stressed.

Focus on yourself. The correlation between health, obesity and unhealthy choices is strong. When you and your family are experiencing stress, make a conscious decision to take care of yourselves. Get adequate doses of nutrients, physical activity and sleep. When you feel overwhelmed it is easy sometimes to fall into cycles such as eating fast food, plugging into sedentary electronic activities like playing video games or watching TV, or not getting enough sleep. Research shows that children who are sleep-deficient are more likely to have behavioral problems.2 And, parents have an extraordinary amount of influence on their children’s food choices.3 A healthy dinner followed by an activity with your family, such as walking, bike riding, playing catch or a board game, and topped off with a good night’s sleep can do a lot to manage or to lessen the negative effects of stress.

Change one habit at a time. You may aspire for your family to make multiple important changes at once such as eating healthier foods, being more physically active, getting a better night’s sleep or spending more time together. However, if you are already overextended from juggling many different responsibilities, doing all of this at once can feel overwhelming. Changing behaviors usually takes time. By starting with changing one behavior, you and your family are more likely to experience success, which can then encourage your family to tackle other challenges and to continue making additional healthy changes.

If you or a family member continues to struggle with changing unhealthy behaviors or feels overwhelmed by stress, consider seeking help from a health professional, such as a psychologist. Psychologists are licensed and trained to help you develop strategies to manage stress effectively and make behavioral changes to help improve your overall health.









4 Keys to Resolving Conflict with Your Kid
Powerful new tools to improve your relationship with your kids.


Every parent knows the nightly ritual: You read your child a bedtime story, say “lights out,” and then brace for the storm of “I do not want to go to bed!!!” Night after night, we parents all suffer from this same malady, until we finally lose that last sliver of patience and snap back at our child with some not-so-nice words. Our child eventually falls asleep, but we lay awake worrying about what we said and wondering whether we may just be the single worst parent in the world.

You’re not. In reality, every parent and child fights — and a whole new set of tools offers powerful methods to resolve conflict, whether you are struggling to put your four-year-old to sleep or tussling with your teenager over screen time. Here are four crucial guidelines:
1. Don’t fall into “vertigo.” Perhaps no relationship in life is as intense as that between parent and child. So as conflict intensifies, you risk having the tension emotionally consume you, to the extent that you can think of nothing else in your life. I call this experience vertigo, for you feel like the world is spinning out of control. Every time you try to regain focus, your child makes a new demand of you or a child lobs a punch at a sibling, pulling you one step further into that emotional swirl.
The best way to break out of vertigo is to avoid getting into it. As tensions escalate, ask yourself one critical question: “Do I really want to get caught up in this conflict?” Most likely, the answer will be no. So take a moment to regain perspective: Take a deep breath and imagine yourself an hour from now, alone in the shower or in your bed relaxing and reading a book. Or imagine yourself on the moon looking down at your interaction. Is it really worth getting so worked up over your kid’s bedtime? Probably not.

2. Appreciate your child’s concerns. We parents tend to think that we know all the right answers, especially when we are in arguments with our children. But just because we have power over our kids doesn’t mean that there is no validity to their perspectives. Kids often have a good rationale motivating their behavior, and it pays to take the time to inquire, listen, and try to understand. When your ten-year-old starts shouting that you treat him unfairly, don’t just defend your behavior. Ask why he thinks that way. He may be jealous of the leniency you show in disciplining his younger brothers, or he may be making a call for more attention.

3. Give your child some autonomy. Imagine how disempowering it can feel to be a child: Your parents tell you what time to wake up, what to eat, when to sleep, and even how to talk. Unsurprisingly, then, children want some freedom to determine their own destiny. Even my four-year-old son Liam will break out in a temper tantrum if I choose his dessert for him. “Daddy! I want to choose!!!” So the next time your child asks if she can stay up an extra half hour, don’t just say no. Ask why. Listen to her reason, and give her a choice: “If you stay up later tonight, you will have to go to bed earlier tomorrow night. Which do you want?”

4. Resist the repetition compulsion. Notice the patterns of conflict that you tend to repeat when in a fight with a child. In my own family, I noticed a common pattern develop with my ten-year-old son, Noah. The moment he started to tease his younger brothers, I would immediately step in with tough words: “Noah … stop!” He tended to ignore those words and persist with his behavior, which undermined my authority but elevated his status in his brothers’ eyes. Of course, I would then further assert my authority, again demanding he stop. Inevitably, our conversation would end in a verbal clash.





Infant Development (brain-development)


Academic achievement. College scholarship. Presidential aspirations.

These used to be phrases parents tossed around at their kid’s high school graduation.
Today, it’s a new form of “baby talk.” From maternity wards to toddler play groups to mommy chat rooms, how to raise a smart baby is a key focus of conversation and concern.
“Parents have always wanted the best for their babies, but now it seems there really is a much more focused attempt, and more worry and concern about doing the right thing to encourage baby’s growth and development, particularly brain development,” says Nina Sazer O’Donnell, director of National Strategies for Success By 6, a United Way of America learning initiative.
The concerns are not without merit. While a portion of a baby’s 100 billion brain cells are prewired at birth — mostly the ones connected to breathing, heartbeat, and other physiological survival functions — it is during the first five years of life that much of the essential wiring linked to learning is laid down.

“What occurs during the first five years of life can have an enormous impact on not only how well the baby’s brain develops at the moment, but how well that baby learns and grows throughout their lifetime,” says Christopher P. Lucas, MD, director of the Early Childhood Service at the NYU Child Study Center and associate professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine.
While experts say baby brain development is still largely a mystery, what we do know is just how great a role natural parenting instincts can play in putting your baby on the fast track to success.

Smart Babies: Trust Your Instincts
As society gave birth to a brave new high-tech world, parents everywhere began assuming that high-tech learning was essential if baby was to grow up and prosper.

Turns out, nothing could be further from the truth.
Indeed, one popular form of smart baby technology — learning videos such as Baby Einstein — received low marks in a study designed to evaluate their effectiveness in helping baby brain development. The research, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, showed that not only were these so-called baby brain tools not helpful, they may actually slow word learning.






Do Kids learn faster than adults?


TV Linked to Attention Problems

Source: WebMD

A study by researchers at the University of Washington Child Health Institute supports the idea of a connection between TV viewing and attention problems. According to the researchers, a 3-year-old who watches two hours of TV per day is 20% more likely to have attention problems at age 7 than a child who watches no television. The findings were published in the journal Pediatrics.
“Most TV programs now require very short attention spans,” says American Academy of Pediatrics spokeswoman Susan Buttross, MD. “In a classroom setting, you need to have sustained attention for a prolonged period of time. The more you’re used to having something fast and furious going by you, the harder the classroom setting gets.”
But don’t unplug your TV just yet. Other studies show preschoolers who watch high-quality educational television programs tend to score better on reading and math tests. “Children who are watching good programs do make gains, both cognitively and socially,” says Dorothy Singer, EdD, co-director of Yale University’s Family Television Research and Consultation Center.

Singer tells WebMD that television becomes a problem when parents give their kids too much control over what and how much they watch. With the average American child watching about four hours of TV per day, she says kids are missing out on real life experiences. “It’s taking time away from socializing with other children, from beginning to read, from exploring the neighborhood, from exercising and riding a bicycle.”





No Guilt Allowed! Why Parents Need Time for Themselves
By Brian Gresko

A couple of months ago, I spent two weeks at a writers’ colony in Arkansas. Hands down the comment I heard the most—both from people I met there and from friends and neighbors when I returned home—was, “You must have missed your son so much!”
It’s true—I did miss him. But even more than that, I felt great joy at leaving my parenting-self behind. I spent the majority of my days in solitude, and I loved it. I wrote, read, walked, and slept more than I have in years. I could have stayed there for another week!
Telling people this, however, garnered me a few strange looks. We’re supposed to want to be around our kids all the time, right? Going to work is a hardship because it takes us away from our families. Same with exercise. Same with any commitment that might distract us from our children.
That might be true for many people, but for introverts, having time away from their children is essential. If you as an introvert hold yourself up to the standard set by our attachment-focused culture, you might end up feeling that something is wrong with you, that you don’t love your kids as much as you should, or that you’re somehow failing at parenting. You’re not. You need to establish a relationship with your children that is right for you.

Still, knowing that is one thing; feeling it is another. I sometimes worry that I’m not parenting right and that I should be more nurturing and closer to my child. When my parents ask with excitement about what my family has planned for a three-day weekend or a long break from school, I sometimes respond with dread rather than anticipation. I appreciate the quiet routines of the school week that afford me some space I require for myself each day—space that can be hard to come by when my son is at home all day.

I’m not alone in how I feel. A fellow introvert friend I’ll call Margot has experienced the same feelings, compounded by the even more unrealistic expectations that mothers face.

From the start, Margot had a complicated reaction to motherhood. She enjoyed the intimate connection of breast-feeding; at the same time, she didn’t like how, at certain times of the day, her body was suddenly not her own. As her son grew older and more demanding, she looked forward to weaning him and did so as soon as possible. “I took an active role in cutting him off,” she said, something an attachment-oriented friend found shocking. This made her feel guilty as did her decision to return to work when he was barely 3 months old.

“So many of my colleagues asked me if I missed him during the day,” Margot told me. “And friends said things like, ‘that’s such a shame, you have to work.’ But being home with my son all the time sounded terribly depressing to me. I worried that I would feel trapped. Still, I felt guilty for not wanting to be there with him.”

Guilt still creeps in to her parenting life even though her son is 5 years old now. “I feel bad when I come home and, instead of jumping into playing or making dinner, I sit by myself and knit for a little while to recharge after my long day at work.”

I can understand. Since my son Felix started full-time kindergarten, many people have asked if I feel sad because I had been his full-time caregiver for the first four and a half years of his life. The truth is, I’m happier now than I’ve ever been: I finally have the solitary time I need.

It’s not that I hated being a stay-at-home dad, but it deeply drained me. On bad days, I experienced exactly what Margot feared: an emotional claustrophobia and exhaustion. Do you know how many words a four-year-old can lob at you during the course of the day? My son chattered all the time about LEGO and trains, grilled cheeses and chocolate ice cream. I’d want to plug my ears just to have a moment to think.

I’m a better parent, husband, and generally a calmer person now that he spends his days in school. And I’m happy to see him growing into an independent individual, one who requires his own recharge time and enjoys quiet building and art activities. While many parents bond over nostalgia for infants and toddlers, I rarely miss the clingy little creature he used to be.

I do love my son—so much that I want to be my best for him. This means that I require space of my own for thinking, feeling, and finding my center. It’s like the emergency instructions in an airplane, instructing adults to strap the oxygen mask on themselves before assisting their children. You have to take care of yourself in order to best take care of someone else. For us introverts, that means maintaining a bit of space in our schedule for quiet and autonomy.

This coming Saturday, my wife is taking my son to visit her mom for a couple of days. After that, I’ll be on full-time dad duty while he’s on winter break. Will I miss my family this weekend? Of course. When they return, I’m going to throw myself into having full, fun, and adventure-packed days with Felix. There’s no way I could do that without a little peaceful “me time” on the margins.



I’M OVERWHELMED: 5 Tips On How Parents Can Take Control Of Their Lives

By Linda Milo


Are you feeling overwhelmed being a parent? Do you want to feel more relaxed and empowered raising your child? Working parents, stay-at-home parents, visiting parents – it doesn’t matter which one you are because these days almost every parent feels overwhelmed by their daily day. Parents every day experience anxiety, stress and despondency because they feel as if they are losing control of their natural balance. The natural balance that once allowed them to walk, talk and chew gum slowly – all at one time! Now you are running to work, picking up children, grocery shopping, doing laundry, paying bills, taking your child to some lesson, etc. Those days when you had control over your life, can be re-lived again by knowing how to create a structured life that incorporates extra time, a swing to your step and the ability to believe that you can accomplish what needs to be done, in addition to being a fun and caring parent. Below are five tips that can start you on the path of feeling a positive glow about yourself.

1. Create Routines – Routines are established by parents to manage their own behavior and also to manage the behavior of their child. A routine actually nurtures the positive overall growth of your child. A routine helps to create consistency, and consistency allows you and your child to feel secure. Create a “routine calendar.” Get a large sheet of paper and write down what needs to be done daily (hour by hour). A time slot for each activity, whether it be work or play. This routine calendar is a plan for each hour of the day. For example: 6:30 AM – wake up, shower, dress; 7:15 AM – wake children, help them dress; 7:45 AM – start breakfast and have your child make sack lunches, etc. (Do not forget to put down chores for each child in this calendar). Two personality traits that develop from a routine are positive thoughts and feelings children have about themselves. Routine doesn’t allow for frenzy and uncertainty. Routine says I know what is being done and when it is being done. Most importantly, stick to the routine each and every day. Watch your life become more manageable.

2. Nurturing – A part of every single day should be devoted to nurturing your relationship with your child. Whether the specific time for concentrated nurturing is in the day or night doesn’t matter…what does matter is that you spend at least one-half an hour a day doing something with your child. Choose an activity (massages, games, toys, exercises, dancing, joking, being silly) that nurtures you and your child’s spirit. These daily nurturing sessions will stimulate the growth of your child and allow you to become child-like once again yourself. You can feel very refreshed by having an unstructured playtime with your child. Your feelings of being overwhelmed throughout the day should just melt. The quality of your child’s emotional growth is largely a part of their reflection of their relationship with you. Seeing you smile, having a light cheerful voice creates an exceptional fun and healthy bonding for both of you.

3. Create Limits – Feeling hopeful and empowered with your child starts with you defining the “limits” of what you think is acceptable behavior. Set limits on acts, but not on your child’s spirit. When your four year old decides to run ahead of you in the shopping mall, take the time to talk with your child about your rules and limits when out shopping. Make these limits well known to your child. Create a substitute limit, i.e., tell your child he/she can run ahead of you in the house only. The defining of “limits” is necessary not only for your peace of mind, but also for your child’s development in knowing when and what is acceptable behavior. If you have decided that no ice cream is permissible before dinner, stick to that limit or rule. The truth is – if you allow your child “just-this-one-time-only”, you are really giving permission for this scenario to take place time and time again. Then you become angry and overwhelmed. No need to loose control, just create a limit of each act that pushes you to feel anxious and un-balanced. Remember to create limits that are age appropriate. This is known as “wise-parenting management.”

4. Create Time – Sometimes less is more. Start by doing less each day. Parents are generally creating the overwhelming feelings they experience because of trying to fill their day with too many activities. Children honestly benefit from “down time.” When you are going in too many directions at once, you are creating stress and strain. Everyone feels it. Look at your routine calendar and see what activities can be eliminated or reduced. Sure dance lessons, soccer practice, piano lessons, etc. are important – but not as important as finding nurturing activities that are done at home and done in the name of sanity. To feel less overwhelmed, spend some time in paring-down what activities are welcoming and credible to your family members and what activities are actually causing frustration and stress (like when you hear yourself saying, “hurry up, hurry up.”) Make the cut and you will create a more relaxing and manageable family life.

5. Create Your Own Personal Time – This is a time for you to remind yourself that you do have control of your life and you do need to take care of yourself. There are many examples of healthy personal time which makes your heart happy (and making your heart happy is very, very important for your entire well-being): time spent apart from your child (call the babysitter), time spent in a warm bubbly bath (wait until your child is asleep), time spent on a date with your special other (again call the sitter), time spent doing an activity that makes you feel good (drawing, gardening, knitting, golfing), time spent going out with friends for dinner, time spent exercising, time spent just getting quiet and welcoming the peace. Being good to yourself is the most important thing you can do in life – it benefits you, your child, your mate and your work life. It is amazing that what you do for yourself is a characteristic trait that your child will learn to admire, learn from and respect.

By incorporating at least some of the above-suggested tips daily, you will truly experience a positive change in yourself and in raising your child. Your life will be more in control, more livable, more enjoyable and more relaxing. Keep up the good work you are doing and don’t forget to spend some quality time on yourself.

















How The Arts Can Help Students Excel


Many people disregard the importance of the arts in education.  Sure, the arts are good for blowing off steam and encouraging creativity, but are they useful in the real world?  If a student doesn’t have the capabilities of being the next Beethoven or da Vinci, what is the point of wasting resources on their continued arts education?

The Current State of Arts Education in Public Schools
The prevalence of art education in public schools has been on the decline since the early 1980s and in recent years, budget cuts have made it almost obsolete.  Nowhere are these cuts more severe than in urban areas where minority children are the most unlikely population to receive arts education.

Why Parents and Teachers Should Be Worried about the Future of Arts Education

Several new research findings are proving what art education teachers have been saying for years: art invaluable.  A well-rounded educational experience that includes the arts is closely linked to academic achievement, social and emotional development, civic engagement, and equitable opportunity.

A recent study of high school students revealed a correlation between arts education and math and writing test scores. These high school students were tracked for three years and were required to take a minimum one credit of art education.  Students who took more than the minimum requirement were 1.5 times more likely to meet or exceed the ACT Plan national average composite score!  These students excelled in statewide tests, earning proficient levels in math, reading and writing.

How the Arts Enhance a Student’s Education and Overall Development

Plenty of research has supported the role of arts education in providing a comprehensive education.  Let’s take a closer look at how exactly the arts affect a student’s ability to learn and develop:
Learning to read music and understand concepts like time, rhythm, and pitch have a direct effect on a child’s ability to comprehend math skills.  One study showed math scores of music students surpassed those of their non-musical classmates.  Students from low socio-economic backgrounds were twice as likely to excel in math if they had musical education.

Studying the lyrics of music can teach students about syllabification, phonics, vocabulary, imagery, history, myths, folktales, geography, and culture.

Studies show there is a direct correlation between continued involvement in theater and success in math and reading.
Non-native English speakers may learn the language more quickly with the use of music.  Thematic learning helps children learn in a safe, enjoyable, student-centered environment.
Students who take the time to master a musical instrument learn about hard work, practice, and discipline.  While performing in a group – like an orchestra, band, or choir – students learn to work together, appreciate teamwork, strive for a common goal, and develop negotiation skills.

Cultural awareness is achieved through every form of arts education.

Arts education has always been important to those who value creativity.  Now, as new evidence continues to emerge, more and more people are realizing its importance – especially when it plays such a crucial role in a well-rounded educational experience. What if the next Picasso is sitting in your classroom right now?
Author Bio:
Jessica Velasco is a freelance writer.  She has 15 years experience working as a teacher and child development specialist.







Traveling with Teens “A New Adventure”


Anyone who has ever traveled with a 15-year-old in tow knows that a teen can make or break the vacation for the entire family. Or, as travel agent Lynda Maxwell says, “If the teens are happy, everybody is happy. And a great big, fat vice versa.”

Teens are often the most enthusiastic of travelers, but their interests — and schedules — don’t always align with those of their younger siblings or parents. That means that while you might be happiest striking out at the crack of dawn to explore an archaeological site, your teen would likely rather sleep in, load up on a huge breakfast and then mosey out around noon.

Those realities make travel with teens a tricky — but not impossible — challenge. The key to success, according to the experts, lies in what you do long before you set foot on an airplane.

For many families, the hardest part may be finding a vacation time that’s good for everyone. Working around school and after-school activities can be a chore. Be sure to sit down with everyone before settling on a date.
Beyond setting the date, you’ll want to make youngsters a part of the planning process from the start.  To learn more go to the link above.





Activities To Strengthen Parent Teen Bonds


Happy families have strong family bonds.

10 Ways to Strengthen the Family Bond
You can create this firm foundation by committing to these ten essential practices that will strengthen your family’s relationships.
#1 – Schedule in family time.
When you have teens, you will need to take a look at everyone’s schedule.

Try to make a regular night, maybe once a week, when the entire family gets together for a fun activity. By keeping it on a regular schedule, everyone will know that they need to keep that night clear for family times.
If you are going to plan a day trip, try to do it at least one month in advance. Post it on the family calendar and make sure that adults and teens are aware of the plan so they don’t make other plans.
#2 – Eat meals together as much as possible.
Studies have shown that eating meals together helps reinforce communication. Choose a few nights during the week when you expect everyone to gather around the dinner table. Don’t allow phones or other electronics, either. Just eat a meal and have a conversation together.
If you unable to get together as a family for dinner because of busy schedules, try breakfast.
#3 – Do family responsibilities together.
Make cleaning your home or caring for the yard a responsibility of the whole family.

Create a list of chores and have everyone sign up. Set up a time when everyone can tackle their chore at the same time.
If your teens need a little more flexibility, give them a deadline to have their chore completed.
#4 – Create a family mission statement.
It may seem a little corny or too business-like, but it works.

A family mission statement can remind every family member about your core values or what you love most about each other. It is simple and fun to develop as a family (it’s a great project for family night).
Place your mission statement in a predominant place in your home. Read it and talk about it often.
#5 – Have family meetings.
Family meetings are a good time for everyone to check in with each other, air grievances or discuss future plans (like a vacation!). These can be scheduled events or you can make them impromptu and allow any member of the family to call a meeting if they feel the need.
Start each of these meetings by reading your family mission statement. If you have a large family, you might also want to begin by asking if anyone has something for the ‘agenda.’ Write down what everyone wants to talk about and go through them one-by-one.
#6 – Encourage support for each other.
Family support is important and you can build this bond that will last your kids a lifetime, even when they’re your age and after you’re gone.

Encourage everyone to learn about things that are important to everyone else and to support each other through good and bad times.
Share when something goes well at work. Ask your teen how her test went. Commiserate when your son’s team loses a game. Celebrate good grades and reward good behavior by doing something special together.
#7 – Take time out for yourself.
Parenting is a huge responsibility that you are required to fulfill every day. Even the Department of Labor requires companies to give employees two 10-minute breaks during a work day. Shouldn’t you do the same?
The reality is that you will be a better parent when you take some time just for you. Take a break and read a chapter in a book, go to the salon or play a round of golf. Do something you enjoy, even if only for a few minutes.
#8 – Volunteer together.
Giving your time to make someone else’s life better is always a powerful learning experience. Learning important life lessons together will strengthen the relationship you have with your children.
Spending a day at the local food bank or a weekend building a home for charity will be valuable experiences you can share throughout your life. Volunteering is a positive experience and it’s a good idea to demonstrate that with teens.
#9 – Become involved in your teen’s interests.
You don’t have to be the coach, but you can help out with a fundraiser or be in charge of snacks for the bus on an away game night. Ask where you can help, it will show your teen you care about what they are interested in.
#10 – Join something with other families.
Whether this is within your community or your church, being with other families will strengthen your own family bonds.




My teenager is driving me insane!


OMG!!  Within a two week span, my 15 year old son has lost his keys, left his wallet at a movie theatre, and today he left his cell phone at a local restaurant — at least 10 miles away.  I am so tired of the drama of looking for things, going back after things, not to mention replacing things!!  I get angry at myself for not remembering to mention to double check things … but, I can’t remember everything!!  My house ALWAYS looks like a tornado went through it.  No matter how many times I ask him to pick up behind himself, there’s always another trail. I love my son, but I’m really beginning to get frustrated living in my “own” home.

My son is only 10, but I can relate to the trail of “stuff.”  DH and I a joke in our house- there’s a band called “And They Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead”, so whenever DS walks through the room leaving a trail of whatever one of will say “and they will know him by the trail of “fill-in-the-blank.”

It’s extremely frustrating though.  I can only imagine how much worse it is when the stuff lost if vital to everyday life, like keys and wallets.  I think making him earn the lost items back would be fair, especially if he cannot find/retrieve the items on his own.

I can’t remember which comic strip it was in this past Sunday’s paper, but the frames showed the mother cleaning, then a spotless room, then she was framing a photo, and the last frame was the room full of kids (and trashed), her husband walking in the door and her pointing to the photo of a spotless room.
Isn’t life fun with teenagers?  I have a 14 year old.  He is starting to remember stuff better, not much.  It is like teenage Alzheimer’s.  Between the teenage stuff and the add stuff I am surprised he doesn’t get lost crossing the street.  If my son forgets something like cell phone he doesn’t get it back when I get it back.  He has to show me he can take care of it.  Threaten to buy a chain thingy that hooks onto his wallet and pants if he loses his wallet again.  And what is and what does a clean house look like?  I forget.

This actually sounds a little like my husband. He frequently “misplaces” his cellphone, his keys, and sometimes even his wallet.
I wonder if it would help for your son to try to use some kind of memory device, like every time he leaves one place to go to another, think KWP (keys, wallet, phone) or if you can come up with something catchier, that would be better. Also, I think it is helpful to ALWAYS keep things in the same place, like always keep your phone in you left front pocket and clip your keys to your belt loop, and at home, always put these things in the same place. I think the key is to develop a habit, then remembering becomes easy. Having said that, I haven’t had much success with my husband, and my daughter is pretty good and losing things too. My house looks like a tornado went through it too…







Saying Goodbye to My Boy


I walked by the open bedroom door and stopped to turn off the light. As my hand reached for the switch, I glanced at the person lying on the bed and thought: That is a young man. He’s no longer my little boy, but a young man. 

Wait, stop. Just for a minute. Stop. I need a second to catch up. I need a moment to say goodbye.

I know that I will let go of the kid who was caught between two worlds—of boy and of teen—because I’ve done it all along. From a tiny baby whose whole body fit neatly in one hand, to a grinning toddler who went everywhere in a Captain Feathersword costume carrying either a Thomas the Tank Engine or Lightning McQueen car, to a sturdy school-age boy who ran everywhere, explored everywhere, and gave me constant heart attacks—I loved each and every stage of his childhood and motherhood, and while I looked forward to the next one, I mourned the loss of the one we left behind.

Just a while ago, I begged for just one more summer of what I thought was the perfect age for him. Oh, how I needed just a little more time of my little guy being little. I got my wish—one more summer of little boy madness. Then inevitably, he went on to the next stage. He grew. And I grew with him. I had no choice. It was grow or be left behind.

Even now, I see how wonderful it’s been. I see what an amazing teenager he is becoming. There are so many changes happening with him even on a daily basis. It seems like he shot up taller than my 5 feet 9 inches in a week, and suddenly he has a deeper voice and a different laugh and even different ways of thinking. We discuss politics for God’s sake, and he knows what he’s talking about. He’s growing up, moving on, and leaving childhood behind as he reaches for his full potential. That’s the plan, and I’m doing my job right because he’s already an amazing person. He will be a magnificent man.

I think that I will always miss that grinning toddler, the magical ideas of a 6 year old, the Cars, the #EpicForts and my little boy. Having said goodbye to each stage lets me know what I’m missing, and what I’m gaining. Oh, my boy is growing up, and it’s a wonderful, magical thing. We really do have so many adventures ahead of us.


Self-Defeating Behaviors: Does Your Child Refuse to Do Homework?


Self defeating behaviors. Negative thinking. Procrastination. Self-destructive behaviors. Self-fulfilling prophecies. If you have a child (or children!) with ADHD, anxiety or depression, you have seen these behaviors close up and personal. These children get frustrated and believe they can’t do something — then they won’t do it and voila! “See Mom, I told you I couldn’t do it!” They’ll look at an assignment and see how long it is, or look at a book and flip immediately to the back to see how many pages it is, and without reading it at all, decide they just cannot do it. The sad part is, these children are masters at self-sabotaging.

I do believe in natural consequences. If you forget your lunch, you’ll be hungry. If you don’t take a coat, you’ll be cold. If you do not turn in an assignment you get a zero. Sounds simple, right? WRONG! It sometimes seems that these children don’t believe they’re worth their own efforts.  Raising children with these negative thought patterns is maddening. You would think that if a child doesn’t turn in an assignment and then gets an “F,” they would work harder next time. But not these children! If they don’t do an assignment, their thinking is that they would have failed it anyway, so why bother?!

So, this brings me to the BIG DILEMMA. When you’re sitting with a child who has an assignment due and is making no effort at all, how much do you push? I am on my third go-around with this. Now, let me set the record straight — I never did the work for any of my kids, but I didn’t allow them to give up, either. It was torture for all involved. We spent many tearful, long nights doing assignments. It was almost like forcing them to feel successful, so that when they turned in the assignment and got a grade — any grade other than the “F” or zero — they would feel some sense of accomplishment. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like we did it once and they were so excited that they jumped right into the next assignment with both feet! Oh, no. It was years of pushing — but at some point, it did click. I don’t know if it’s maturity or what, but eventually our kids started tackling assignments without those negative thoughts of failure.

It seems like I was the one who had to believe in them enough for the both of us before they’d believe in themselves. One son balled up papers in his backpack every day. You’d think each night I was asking him to cut off his arms by the way he reacted to being “forced” to sit with me, smooth out the papers and clip them in the appropriate sections. The next day I would ask if certain papers were turned in and point out how much easier it was to open the notebook, and know exactly where the paper was. Still, it took years before the child was able to do this this on his own, with no prompting. But again, one day it just clicked. I never was sure if I was helping or hurting by this torturous method, but after seeing 2 children succeed eventually with no prompting, I knew it was worth it.

Now my step-son is taking his turn, but this is different for some reason, because he doesn’t get to that hump that my boys crossed over each time. So far, he’s consistently resisted any of my efforts to “assist” him. Although he gets upset when he fails, he doesn’t seem to make the connection that he could make changes to help himself succeed and he gets very angry when we try to give suggestions. It’s as if he’s out to prove to us how stupid he is. He won’t ask for help — and if we offer it, he gets angry. He will go into his room “to do school work” and we find him playing.

We spoke with his therapist and asked if we should be backing off and letting him fail, and he actually gave us the same answer I had for my own children. We need to force this child to feel success. The therapist said if he needs to read his assignments aloud, with his dad’s supervision, then that’s what he will have to do. The therapist gave him strategies to help, which he refuses to utilize. He suggested he read all of his directions twice.   He told him to set aside an hour and a half each day for homework. If he doesn’t have enough homework to fill that block of time, he is to reread class notes, or just plain read. He gets home at 3:00 and would have until 4:30 to do this and then have the rest of the evening free.

I am the one at home at this time, and I’d often peek in and find him playing. If I said anything at all, it was met with attitude. He’d say he was finished with his work, yet his school progress reports consistently show missed homework assignments. In order to remove me from the equation as much as possible, due to his resentment of me taking on a mother role he’d prefer his own mother have, he now has to wait until his dad gets home at 6:00 to begin his school work.

We are always willing to try new things and hopefully this new strategy will get him past the negative thinking. The sad part it, it seems he has decided he is worthless and there’s nothing he can do to change it. We are hoping he will eventually feel success and move beyond these feelings of failure. He is a smart kid and there is a nice little boy buried beneath this shell he’s created around himself.






Is Your Child Being Teased About His Weight?


It’s hard being an overweight child or teen. There are the obvious health risks; 60 percent of obese kids are at risk for diabetes or cardiovascular disease, but for most overweight children the actual consequences won’t come until later in life. The eventual health consequences aren’t trivial; it’s been suggested that this may be the first generation in America to have a shorter lifespan than their parents.

Although the medical consequences of childhood obesity may not emerge until adulthood, the psychological effects are immediately present. Studies have shown that discrimination against overweight kids begins in kindergarten or earlier. One study of five year-olds found that they described an overweight child as “lazy, dirty, stupid, and ugly.” A new study found that 4 – 8 year old children were less likely to help overweight peers with everyday tasks like picking up toys. Another study reported that virtually all overweight teenage girls had been verbally abused. College students when asked to rate the desirability of a potential spouse rated cocaine users, embezzlers, and shoplifters as better marriage partners than an obese person.

The psychological consequences of the stigmatization of overweight children cannot be overestimated. In addition to lowering the child’s self-esteem, there can be depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts.  It’s understandable that, instead of playing with other kids and risking humiliation, an overweight kid may retreat and engage in solitary (usually sedentary) activities. Sometimes parents don’t recognize the suffering of their overweight child because the child is too embarrassed to tell Mom or Dad about the indignities they’ve suffered.

If you suspect that your child might be teased or harassed because of her weight there are several things you can do. Perhaps the single most important thing you can do is to listen. When your child is describing the problem it’s natural to want to tell them what they should do, but it’s better to just listen without offering advice or comments until your child has told you the whole story. When your child is describing what happened you can express your understanding and concern by maintaining eye contact and nodding sympathetically.

When your child is finished you can explain that it’s likely that the kid doing the teasing is insecure. The teaser is trying to make himself feel better by putting you down. Sometimes the teaser is unpopular and thinks that he will be accepted by the more popular kids if they see him making fun of you.

To help “inoculate” your child against future harassment you can suggest:

  • Don’t look embarrassed or intimidated
  • Don’t give the bully any pleasure by responding or showing any emotion
  • Tell the teacher or other trusted adult. This isn’t tattling but rather you are showing the bully that you can’t be intimidated
  • If it is a friend or family member doing the teasing let them know that teasing won’t help you lose weight.

Since overweight kids frequently are socially isolated you can help your child become more social by getting him or her involved in afterschool activities. Would your child enjoy the Boy or Girl Scouts? Could he join a youth group at your church or synagogue? For younger kids you could arrange a play date and invite neighborhood children. Anything that increases your child’s socializing will tend to decrease teasing and ultimately help your child get to a healthy weight.










Why Time-Out Is Out


Six experts explain why one of the most popular discipline tactics is also one of the most misused.

Dr. Banks, who teaches at the James H. Quillen College of Medicine at East Tennessee State University and has a practice in Bristol, TN, had not set out to be a cranky, loudmouth dad. He felt discouraged, but instead of throwing in the timer, he delved into the research on childhood discipline to see if science could show him a better way.

What he found was an eye-opener. First, Dr. Banks learned that he was doing time-outs all wrong. “The key is to completely ignore your child,” he says. “A lot of misbehavior in children is done to get attention. Scolding gives them the attention they are seeking. It was actually the worst thing I could do.”

The clinical evidence also showed that time-outs don’t work unless parents practice time-ins — positive, sometimes physical, reinforcements of good behavior. “Periodically, you touch your child’s head, or smile, or say a word of praise,” he explains. This essential yin to the time-out yang was not something that had been stressed in medical school.

Dr. Banks’s review concluded that time-outs are often an effective and appropriate discipline for children up to age 5 or 6 but the technique is being poorly managed by parents like him in the real world of tantrums, tears, and sibling smackdowns. “Other people are doing exactly what I had done,” says Dr. Banks.

Parents’ Biggest Mistakes…

time_out_out_art_pg2Andrew Bordwin

Thirty years after it came into vogue as an alternative to spanking, time-out is getting its middle-age checkup from physicians and other child advocates. Some staunch opponents have gone so far as to recommend banning it. Most experts, however, remain in favor of the time-out tactic, which has enabled millions of families to spare the rod while teaching children limits. Still, they say parents need to refine their understanding of the classic technique and overhaul the way they use it at home.

Simply put, time-out is supposed to be a brief pause in a caregiver’s interaction with a child, its purpose being to allow the child a chance to practice self-calming skills. What it isn’t: “Time-out isn’t a chair; it isn’t a corner; it’s not a length of time,” says pediatrics professor Edward Christophersen, Ph.D., of Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, MO, who helped pioneer the technique in the 1970s, after researchers at the Universities of Kansas and Alaska borrowed the term from animal-behavior studies. “It’s supposed to be time out from positive reinforcement,” he says. “As soon as the concept became a chair, it was ruined.”

The biggest mistake parents make is to insist that time-outs last one minute for each year of a child’s age. According to Dr. Christophersen, the minute-a-year guideline is supposed to be a maximum time, not a hard and fast rule. “Like so much else in childcare literature, time-out has been over-codified,” says renowned British child psychologist Penelope Leach, Ph.D., who says that this formula is too simplistic. “A time-out is meant to give a child a break from a situation that has overwhelmed him into unacceptable behavior. The sooner the child can get back in charge of his emotions and join the rest of his family, the better. If that turns out to be 45 seconds or even less, that’s fine. And please, don’t use a special time-out chair that is only meant to shame a child.”

Making the chair the focal point is another common foible. While a designated seat can be useful for kids who need physical space to help them regain their composure, it’s not necessary. Merely sitting in a chair is not a hardship — nor should it be treated as such, says Dr. Christophersen. In addition, yelling at a child to “go to your chair” is like administering a verbal spanking, he says. The only discomfort a child should be made to feel from time-out is the withdrawal of your attention, which is distressing on its own. (Grown-ups might recall how dejected they feel when they’re excluded from a dinner party conversation.)

Parents’ third major tactical error, as Dr. Banks learned to his chagrin, is to muddy the message by talking too much — before, during, and after time-outs. Warnings are counterproductive, Dr. Christophersen says: “If time-out means I’m going to stop interacting with you, how can I possibly give you three warnings? Each one is an interaction.” What’s more, lecturing after the fact serves no purpose, other than to remind the child why she was out of control and perhaps send her back to that state.

Finally, some parents cling to time-outs after their kids have outgrown them. By the time a child is 6 or 7, she’s likely to overthink time-outs and spend her cooling-off period plotting revenge against her parents, says Dr. Banks. At this age, a better maneuver is to take away privileges that are logically connected to the problem at hand. If a child refuses to turn off the TV when asked, for example, there’s no TV for a while.

…And What They Should Do Instead

Despite all the confusion, there is still ample support for the judicious use of a time-out. Properly administered, it’s the single best-documented technique in all of pediatrics for reducing unwanted behavior, according to Dr. Christophersen. “Parents can give the message, ‘I’m not going to play with you until you can stop that,’ in many different ways depending on a child’s age and situation,” says Dr. Leach. “It’s sometimes enough to look away from a toddler or move away from a preschooler.” However you do it, the act of giving a child the opportunity to pause and start over may enable him to take charge of his own behavior or at least to hear what the adult is saying, she says.

Toddlers and preschoolers are the core audience because their parents’ affection is extremely important to them. Discipline strategies that rely on reasoning or empathy are less effective at these ages because kids are self-centered and lack the necessary verbal and logical skills.

Then there’s the matter of technique. Parents should introduce time-outs to their kids using as few words as possible: “Time out. No hitting. Hitting hurts.” Start with a brief withdrawal of attention, usually lasting no more than two to three seconds, says Dr. Christophersen. Then the time-out can be lengthened, as necessary, by a few more seconds each time. A quick ending is key too. Kids should be welcomed back into the social thick of household life soon after they regain composure. “Look for that first relaxation,” says Barbara Howard, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. “Then quickly get your child out of time-out and move her on to something else.”

The Guidance Approach

In part because of unpleasantness associated with time-out, like screaming and thrashing, some experts have begun to promote what they call a more positive, guidance-based approach to discipline. The guidance camp seeks primarily to effect change in schools and daycare centers, where time-outs are sometimes meted out as shameful punishments instead of brief withdrawals of attention. “I have visited schools where the teacher says, ‘This is our ugly chair; this is where children sit when they’re being ugly,'” says Karen DeBord, Ph.D., an early childhood specialist at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. “What goes along with that in a child’s world is devastating. It’s the dunce cap, the nose in the chalk circle. It just breaks my heart to see how time-outs are misused.”

The basic idea behind the guidance approach is to teach rules of behavior by talking them over with your child and finding opportunities for your child to make an emotional connection to them, explains early childhood educator Lois Robbert, who teaches in the education extension department at the University of California at Los Angeles. A child who has hit a playmate, for example, would be asked: “Can you tell me the rule about not hitting other children?” His input would also be encouraged: “How could we have done this in a different way?”

Critics are skeptical of this technique because it attempts to teach kids a lesson in the heat of the moment, which hinders retention. The once-trendy “think about what you’ve done” approach to discipline was discredited for this very reason, says Dr. Christophersen. But Dr. DeBord explains that the guidance approach is more of a preventive tactic: “It’s a way of creating the positive interactions all along, instead of just when the child does something wrong. It lays the groundwork for what the expectations are.” Parents can start to guide their children when they’re very young — sometime around the age of 2 — but they shouldn’t expect the messages to sink in with the children right away. “Remembering what you said comes later — at about age 4 or 5,” she says.

Why Variety Is Essential

No matter where they stand on the issue of time-outs, proponents and opponents agree on one thing: Time-outs were never intended as the be-all and end-all of discipline. Parents need a big bag of tricks, experts say, including redirection (interrupting a tantrum in progress with distractions like “Look at that fire truck!”) and prevention (cutting short a trip to the grocery store when you know your little one has had a long day). Guidance advocates are also huge fans of positive reinforcement for good behavior (sometimes referred to as time-in) and of modeling the behavior adults would like children to emulate, both of which bring them squarely in line with the pediatric and child development mainstream.

If the discipline tactics you use at home are not as varied as they might be, take heart. You are not alone. Experts on discipline techniques say that parents tend to rely almost exclusively on time-outs and spanking until they’re educated about options like redirection, prevention, and setting logical consequences for misbehavior. “Parents aren’t born knowing these things,” says Dr. DeBord.

Neither are parents naturally endowed with the ability to institute perfectly executed time-outs. While the concept of withdrawing your attention from a misbehaving child is easy enough to grasp, putting it into practice is much, much harder than the accepted wisdom might have you believe. Dr. Banks says he and his wife struggled mightily to overcome their instinct to react to Trenton’s tantrums by hollering back at him. “I had to sometimes remove myself from the situation,” he admits. “As we practiced, it became easier to ignore him.” Their other major challenge was to be consistent, since it’s so much easier to give in to a screaming child than it is to ride out the storm until he’s able to calm down — even for a trained family physician.

Dr. Banks’s advice to fellow parents: Stay the course. Once he and his wife learned to ignore the loud protestations of Trenton, now 7, his son quickly got the knack of taking time-outs without resorting to all the drama. And since then, Trenton’s 3-year-old sister, Skylar, seems magically to have picked up her brother’s exemplary time-out behavior.

The siblings still torment each other and talk back — “only every other day,” Dr. Banks says with a laugh. But they’ve started to build the self-calming skills that time-outs encourage. “We are not having to discipline nearly as often,” he says, without a hint of crankiness.















Are You Overly Involved In Your Adult Child’s Life?


Parents of adult children so often have a hard time letting go. Their expectations are dashed and they feel that they need to get in there and either save their adult kid or control the choices they make. The reality is that all this worry and control is making the parent lose site of their own life that they need to take care of.

I’d like to speak about parents being overly involved in their adult children’s relationships and in their lives. I get a lot of letters about parents concerned about their children who are no longer children but a man of 35 or a woman of 38. I letter about a woman of 30-something, addicted to drugs, and the writer didn’t want to see her on the street, asking what should I do? Or a gentleman emailed me a question about his son, and his wife is keeping him away from the family. Both extremely painful concepts. Number one, in both cases, the parents have no control over what their adult children are doing. Addiction is a terrible thing, and it is like a poison: anyone who touches it will be affected, so I know how hard it must be to imagine your daughter on the street. But I’m going to tell you, if you don’t put her on the street, you’re simply enabling her, and you’re giving her a place to use, and you are avoiding or staving off the bottom that she needs to hit in order for her to really wake up, on her own accord, whether she would like to be alive, on the planet, negotiating life, or not. And there’s nothing you can do, parent–hard as this is for me to say–to save her. You cannot save your addicted daughter. She has to save herself. The time for saving her was 0-10, 15 years old. She no longer needs saving. She needs to stand up and decide, I would like to be alive. I would like to be on the planet. I would like to experience life’s everythings.

(2:14) The other gentleman who emailed me, whose son does not have a relationship with his family because apparently his wife is pulling him away from his family. Well hello! Isn’t he deciding to agree with this woman? Isn’t he saying, OK, I am not going to be in a relationship with my family because you, partner, have asked me. Father, you can’t change that. You can say, “Please have a relationship with me. Please do not stay away from me.” But there must be an agreement there, and there’s nothing you can do to control. And you can be as concerned as you want, but that concern and that worry are hurting you. So, parents who are overly concerned about their adult children, what they are doing is not taking care of their own lives. And they’re using their children as a way to avoid dealing with their own lives. I want you to deal with your own life.

I want you to deal with your own life. I want you to get busy in your life, and then that will probably create less of a worry in your system, and when that worry is lower, you’re going to be happier in life. And you know, you don’t own those kids. You gave birth to them, you brought them to the planet, you gave them what you could, and the various things that you gave them they are now taking and making their own lives. So I’m stating the obvious, but I cannot tell you how many letters I’ve gotten about concerns over adult children, and I just want to say, you’re compromising your own ability to live and grow and experience your latter years. Take responsibility for your own life; let your adult kid do their thing. If it doesn’t measure up to your expectations, oh well. You don’t have a right to have expectations over anyone but yourself. I’m being harsh but I’m being absolutely in line with what I believe to be healthy and good.







10 Ways To Help Him to Help YOU With A New Baby


After your gorgeous little baby is born – and especially if it’s your first – it’s completely understandable that as new mother, you may become super protective of your baby. You’ve carried this adorable being inside you for nine months, you’re falling in love (thanks to the delicious mummy margarita) and those potent mama bear hormones are flying around the place! While it’s important to be protective of our offspring, being overly protective can make life more difficult for both ourselves and our partner, without even realizing it. I’ll put my hand up – I was guilty of being far too protective of my firstborn. I didn’t really think I could look after our baby better than my partner, but because I had spent more time with our baby, I understood our baby’s needs better and I could sort out problems much quicker than her dad could. So when our baby cried, I wanted to swoop in and  soothe her, before giving her dad a chance to learn how to soothe her crying.

I often fell into the trap of going into autopilot and doing whatever needed to be done for our baby – even taking the baby off my partner and settling her myself, because I knew I could get it done quicker and with fewer tears. However, doing this creates a bigger problem. It’s an issue which many new fathers express concern about: not being able to learn for themselves. Below are some comments from some experienced BellyBelly dads, as well as ten great tips for new mothers, written by Psychologist, Danny Chable. What Do Dads Think? Despite what we might assume, dads do have an opinion and feelings when it comes to being competent with a new baby. One dad says, “I think the main thing a woman can do to help their partner after giving birth is to not exclude him from dealing with the new baby. I can’t speak for other men, but I was fascinated with the whole baby thing. I remember as soon as my first daughter was born. The midwives started taking her out of the room for a check-up. I just sprang up and followed. There was no way I was letting them run off with her!” He continues, “My wife was a little protective of our first daughter and it was months before I got to bath her solo. I’m sure my wife was in another room tearing her hair out, probably thinking I was drowning her by accident. But it was great. I felt like I was making a real contribution to the raising of our new daughter. My wife was much calmer after the birth of daughter number two, and I was allowed to “drive” from day one. So women – get your men involved!”

One dad felt supporting him with work issues were important, and asking women to realize that they do think of their partner back at home: “I truly believe that women, in some way think, men just go to work and therefore are switched off to their partner’s problems, how they are coping and the fact that their partner has to be with the baby all the time in an often messy house. Believe it or not, most men I know are actually quite aware of this. They may not show it in the way the woman may want it to be, but it is still acknowledged by the male. Unfortunately, after having a baby we somehow believe that we have to escalate our ability to provide. Not all men are resentful of having kids – a great deal of them feel like they have to get on top of all the finances and provide more so they feel relaxed. For some reason I believe this gets attacked… and it should… but attacked for the wrong reasons. Usually it’s, ‘You are late… you don’t care how I feel’, etc… But as stated before, it’s quite the contrary. In my eyes, a supportive nudge and something like, ‘Hon, I know you want to get on top of everything and have that college fund set up for junior, but we can work on it slowly. It’s okay to relax a little bit and spend some quality time with your family – then we can have those talks about owning a big beautiful house to retire in…” A brilliant book that I recommend for all men (and their partners) is Manhood by Steve Biddulph. BellyBelly’s Psychologist, Daniel Chable’s Top Ten Tips For Mums

#1: Do Appreciate That Your Partner Is Under Pressure Too If would be beneficial for both of you if it were possible for things to be arranged such that each of you had the opportunity to do something for yourselves that each of you likes on an alternating basis (after things have settled down with your baby). Don’t forget, however, that it is very important for you the two of you to do things together on a regular basis (whether it is once every six weeks or once every week) and it doesn’t have to cost anything to do it. It would be good for the two of you if this could be in place by the time your last child is 1 year old at the latest. You can take turns choosing what you will do.

#2: Don’t Tell Him About Everything That Happened During The Day The Moment He Enters The Door Come to some agreement about when is the best time to talk. Some men like to have even five minutes of adjustment between when they arrive home and when they are “hands on”. Even if it’s the time between just getting out of his work clothes and into something more comfortable. It helps him to shift gears from work to home.

#3: Do Tell Him Exactly What You Want From Him Most men prefer direct, unambiguous communication. Tell him what you need and want, without demanding of course.

#4:Communicate When It Comes To Sex Don’t expect that just because you are too exhausted to even think about having sex that he feels the same. You need to let him know how much you simply want some time to yourself (sort of like what he gets when he watches television or plays games on the computer); and that your intimate relationship will return in due course. A good article for men to read is Why Doesn’t She Want Sex With Me After Having A Baby?

#5: Do Recognize Most Men Tend To Have Good Focused Vision … while most women tend to have good peripheral vision. When you ask him to find something in the fridge that you know is there and he can’t find it that it is because of this rather than simply being lazy. Understanding goes a long way in preventing resentment.

#6: Don’t Assume That Your Partner Is Similar To A Woman Both parents need their own downtime – even if for some mothers that means going out to do the shopping alone while he watches the kids, or going for a walk to de-stress. A common preference for men is watching their favorite television program. When he is watching a television (particularly football!), the last thing he wants to do is get his brain ticking over and discussing things. It may appear that he isn’t doing anything, but he is actually very focused on what is taking place in the match. Let him watch the match his team is playing in (but not every match!) and save any discussions for after the game, unless its really important. This is not an old way of thinking, its simply allowing your partner to have his own downtime and being responsible for your own too. Make sure you’ve allocated your undisturbed activity time too.

#7: Recognize That What You’re Expecting From Your Partner Tends To Be Similar To What You Experienced When You Were Growing Up Your respective experiences were neither right nor wrong. The two of you need to work out (compromise) what will work best for both of you.

#8: Don’t Assume Your Partner Understands How You Want Him To Talk With You – Most Men Don’t Understand This You need to tell him that you would like him to make some special time e.g. over a cup of tea/coffee when he will listen to what you are telling him; tell him how he can show you he is listening; tell him that you would like him to be able to be empathic about your situation; and that you don’t want him to give you a solution and/or walk out of the room if you become a little annoyed or upset.

#9: Do Tell Him You Need Recognition And Encouragement From Him It’s okay to tell him you need him to be a soulmate and to tell you that he loves you – and you need this much more frequently than he needs it from you. Many men say that they survive just fine if their woman tells them that she loves him once a year. He might like to read this article: 5 Important Things Mothers Want Dads To Know which is a brilliant summary of what a new mother goes through emotionally.

#10: Don’t Assume Your Partner Is Incompetent About Looking After Babies Just because he may choose to take your baby out in a non color-coordinated outfit, this is not a sign of incompetence. The more your child gets to know that there is more than one way of doing things, the more secure they will be.





How to Deal with Parental Anger

Sometimes our kids make us feel angry. We will come home after a tough day, step on one of our children’s toys or they will spill something on the carpet and we cannot help but feel angry towards them. Parental anger is normal to experience sometimes. The important part is knowing how to react when we feel overwhelmed with this emotion. When you are angry it is important to stay calm and not take that anger out on your children.

1. Heal Your Angry Past

Parenting can be therapeutic. It can show you where your problems are and motivate you to fix them. If your past is loaded with unresolved anger, take steps to heal yourself before you wind up harming your child. Studies have shown that children whose mothers often express anger are more likely to be difficult to discipline. Identify problems in your past that could contribute to parental anger. Were you abused or harshly punished as a child? Do you have difficulty controlling your temper? Do you sense a lack of inner peace? Identify present situations that are making you angry, such as dissatisfaction with job, spouse, self or child. Remember, you mirror your emotions. If your child sees a chronically angry face and hears an angry voice, that’s the person he is more likely to become.

2. Keep Your Perspective

Every person has an anger button. Some parents are so prone to parental anger that when they explode the family dog hides. Try this exercise. First, divide your children’s “misbehaviors” into smallies (nuisances and annoyances) which are not worth the wear and tear of getting angry about, and biggies (hurting self, others, and property) which demand a response, for your own sake and your child’s.

Next, condition yourself so that you don’t let the smallies bother you. Here are some “tapes” to play in your mind the next time you or your child spills something:

  • “I’m angry, but I can control myself.”
  • “Accidents happen.”
  • “I’m the adult here.”
  • “I’m mad at the mess, not the child.”
  • “I’ll keep calm, and we’ll all learn something. “Rehearse this exercise over and over by play acting. Add in some lines for you to deliver:
  • “Oops! I made a mess.”
  • “I’ll grab a towel.”
  • “It’s OK! I’ll help you clean it up.”

You may notice a big contrast between this and what you heard as a child. You may also notice it won’t be as easy as it sounds. When a real-life smallie occurs, you’re more conditioned to control yourself. You can take a deep breath, walk away, keep cool, plan your strategy and return to the scene. For example, a child smears paint on the wall. You have conditioned yourself not to explode. You’re naturally angry, and it’s helpful for your child to see your displeasure. You go through your brief “no” lecture firmly, but without letting parental anger get the best of you and yelling. Then you call for a time-out. Once you have calmed down, insist the child (if old enough) help you clean up the mess. Being in control of your parental anger gives your child the message, “Mommy’s angry, and she has a right to be this way. She doesn’t like what I did, but she still likes me and thinks I’m capable enough to help clean up after myself.” We find going into a rage is often harder on us than the child. It leaves us feeling drained. Oftentimes, it’s our after-anger feeling that bothers us more than the shoe thrown into the toilet. Once we realized that we could control our feelings more easily than our children can control their behavior, we were able to endure these frustrating stages of childhood, and life with our kids became much easier. And when we do get mad at a child, we don’t let the parental anger escalate until we become furious at ourselves for losing control. The cycle of parental anger usually goes like this:

  1. Mad at child
  2. Mad at self
  3. More mad at child for causing you to get mad at yourself
  4. Mad at being mad

You can break this cycle at any point to protect yourself and your child.

3. Make Parental Anger Your Ally

Emotions serve a purpose. Healthy parental anger compels you to fix the problem, first because you’re not going to let your child’s behavior go uncorrected, and second because you don’t like how the child’s misbehavior bothers you. This is helpful parental anger. I have always had a low tolerance for babies’ screams. At around age fifteen months our eighth child, Lauren, developed an ear-piercing shriek that sent my blood pressure skyrocketing. Either my tolerance was decreasing or my ears were getting more tender with age, but Lauren’s cry pushed my parental anger button. I didn’t like her for it. I didn’t like myself for not liking her. It might have been easier to deal with the problem if I had not been feeling angry. But because I was angry and realized it affected my attitude toward Lauren, I was impelled to do something about her cry, which I believed was an unbecoming behavior that didn’t fit into this otherwise delightful little person. So instead of focusing on how much I hated those sounds, I focused on what situations triggered the shrieks. I tried to anticipate those triggers. I discovered that when Lauren was bored, tired, hungry, or ignored, she shrieked. She is a little person who needs a quick response and the shriek got it for her. My parental anger motivated me to learn creative shriek-stoppers. I’ve become a wiser parent. Lauren has become nicer to be around. That’s helpful parental anger. Anger becomes harmful when you don’t regard it as a signal to fix the cause. You let it fester until you dislike your feelings, yourself, and the person who caused you to feel this way. You spend your life in a tiff over smallies that you could have ignored or biggies that you could have fixed. That’s harmful anger.

4. Quit Beating Yourself Up

Often anger flares inwardly, as well as outwardly, over something that you don’t like; but upon reflection, after a lot of energy is spent emoting, you actually realize that the situation as it stands now is actually better for everyone concerned. This “hindsight” keeps us humble and helps us diffuse future flare-ups. Our motto concerning irritating mistakes has become: “Nobody’s perfect. Human nature strikes again.”

5. Beware of High-Risk Situations that Trigger Anger

Are you in a life situation that makes you angry? If so, you are at risk for venting your anger on your child. Losing a job or experiencing a similar self-esteem-breaking event can make you justifiably angry. But realize that this makes it easier for otherwise tolerable childish behaviors (smallies) to push you over the edge. When you’re already angry, smallies easily become biggies. If you are suddenly the victim of an anger-producing situation, it helps to prepare your family: “I want you all to understand that daddy may be upset from to time during the next couple of months. I’ve just lost my job and I feel very anxious about it. I will find another job, and we’ll all be okay, but if I have a short fuse and get angry at you sometimes, it’s not because I don’t love you, it’s because I’m having trouble liking myself…” If you do blow your top, it’s wise to apologize to your children (and expect similar apologies from them when they lose their tempers): “Pardon me, but I’m angry, and if I don’t appear rational or appreciative, it’s because I’m struggling—it’s not your fault. I’m not mad at you.” It also helps to be honest with yourself, recognize your vulnerability and keep your guard up until the anger-causing problem is resolved. There will always be problems in your life that you cannot control. As you become a more experienced parent—and person—you will come to realize that the only thing in your life that you can control are your own actions. How you handle anger can work for you or against you—and your child.


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Helping Kids Handle Worry

Kids don’t have to pay bills, cook dinners, or manage carpools. But — just like adults — they have their share of daily demands and things that don’t go smoothly. If frustrations and disappointments pile up, kids can get stressed or worried.

It’s natural for all kids to worry at times, and because of personality and temperament differences, some may worry more than others. Luckily, parents can help kids learn to manage stress and tackle everyday problems with ease. Kids who can do that develop a sense of confidence and optimism that will help them master life’s challenges, big and small.

What Do Kids Worry About?

What kids worry about is often related to the age and stage they’re in.

Kids and preteens typically worry about things like grades, tests, their changing bodies, fitting in with friends, that goal they missed at the soccer game, or whether they’ll make the team. They may feel stressed over social troubles like cliques, peer pressure, or whether they’ll be bullied, teased, or left out.

Because they’re beginning to feel more a part of the larger world around them, preteens also may worry about world events or issues they hear about on the news or at school. Things like terrorism, war, pollution, global warming, endangered animals, and natural disasters can become a source of worry.

Helping Kids Conquer Worry

To help your kids manage what’s worrying them:

Find out what’s on their minds: Be available and take an interest in what’s happening at school, on the team, and with your kids’ friends. Take casual opportunities to ask how it’s going. As you listen to stories of the day’s events, be sure to ask about what your kids think and feel about what happened.

If your child seems to be worried about something, ask about it. Encourage kids to put what’s bothering them into words. Ask for key details and listen attentively. Sometimes just sharing the story with you can help lighten their load.

Show you care and understand. Being interested in your child’s concerns shows they’re important to you, too, and helps kids feel supported and understood. Reassuring comments can help — but usually only after you’ve heard your child out. Say that you understand your child’s feelings and the problem.

Guide kids to solutions. You can help reduce worries by helping kids learn to deal constructively with challenging situations. When your child tells you about a problem, offer to help come up with a solution together. If your son is worried about an upcoming math test, for example, offering to help him study will lessen his concern about it.

In most situations, resist the urge to jump in and fix a problem for your child — instead, think it through and come up with possible solutions together. Problem-solve with kids, rather than for them. By taking an active role, kids learn how to tackle a problem independently.

Keep things in perspective. Without minimizing a child’s feelings, point out that many problems are temporary and solvable, and that there will be better days and other opportunities to try again. Teaching kids to keep problems in perspective can lessen their worry and help build strength, resilience, and the optimism to try again. Remind your kids that whatever happens, things will be OK.

So, for example, if your son is worried about whether he’ll get the lead in the school play, remind him that there’s a play every season — if he doesn’t get the part he wants this time, he’ll have other opportunities. Acknowledge how important this is to him and let him know that regardless of the outcome, you’re proud that he tried out and gave it his best shot.

Make a difference. Sometimes kids worry about big stuff — like terrorism, war, or global warming — that they hear about at school or on the news. Parents can help by discussing these issues, offering accurate information, and correcting any misconceptions kids might have. Try to reassure kids by talking about what adults are doing to tackle the problem to keep them safe.

Be aware that your own reaction to global events affects kids, too. If you express anger and stress about a world event that’s beyond your control, kids are likely to react that way too. But if you express your concern by taking a proactive approach to make a positive difference, your kids will feel more optimistic and empowered to do the same.

So look for things you can do with your kids to help all of you feel like you’re making a positive difference. You can’t stop a war, for example, but your family can contribute to an organization that works for peace or helps kids in war-torn countries. Or your family might perform community service to give your kids the experience of volunteering.

Offer reassurance and comfort. Sometimes when kids are worried, what they need most is a parent’s reassurance and comfort. It might come in the form of a hug, some heartfelt words, or time spent together. It helps kids to know that, whatever happens, parents will be there with love and support.

Sometimes kids need parents to show them how to let go of worry rather than dwell on it. Know when it’s time to move on, and help kids shift gears. Lead the way by introducing a topic that’s more upbeat or an activity that will create a lighter mood.

Highlight the positive. Ask your kids what they enjoyed about their day, and listen attentively when they tell you about what goes great for them or what they had fun doing. Give plenty of airtime to the good things that happen. Let them tell you what they think and feel about their successes, achievements, and positive experiences — and what they did to help things turn out so well.

Schedules are busy, but make sure there’s time for your kids to do little things they feel good doing. Daily doses of positive emotions and experiences — like enjoyment, gratitude, love, amusement, relaxation, fun, and interest — offset stress and help kids do well.

Be a good role model. The most powerful lessons we teach kids are the ones we demonstrate. Your response to your own worries, stress, and frustrations can go a long way toward teaching your kids how to deal with everyday challenges. If you’re rattled or angry when dealing with a to-do list that’s too long, your kids will learn that as the appropriate response to stress.

Instead, look on the bright side and voice optimistic thoughts about your own situations at least as often as you talk about what bothers or upsets you. Set a good example with your reactions to problems and setbacks. Responding with optimism and confidence teaches kids that problems are temporary and tomorrow’s another day. Bouncing back with a can-do attitude will help your kids do the same.




Disrespectful Child or Teen? 5 Things Not to Do as a Parent



Eye–rolling, curses and insults, backtalk, name calling, ignored requests, snide comments: disrespect from your child or teen comes in many different forms. If you’re struggling with disrespectful behavior from your kids, you’re definitely not alone: this is one of the biggest topics of conversation on Empowering Parents each week.

The truth is, disrespectful behavior is one of the inappropriate ways kids, especially teenagers, try to solve their problems. Kids can feel powerless in the face of rules and expectations, and talking back and showing disrespect is one way they try to take some power back. If they can drag you into an argument, that’s even better: now you’re arguing about respect instead of focusing on their curfew or their homework!

The reasons behind disrespectful behavior include the perfectly normal and healthy process of your child growing up and away from his identity as a younger child. Teens naturally seek more independence as they get older, and mild disrespect is one way that independence gets expressed.

But as James Lehman writes: “While it’s important to allow for the natural ‘breaking away’ process that comes during the teen years, parents also have to be sure to identify and challenge any truly disrespectful child behavior that is hurtful, rude, or demeaning to others.”

So while it may be healthy and normal in some cases, disrespectful behavior isn’t something you want to let go unchecked. In fact, ignoring it completely can actually cause disrespectful behavior to escalate.

What else increases disrespectful behavior in teens?

Here are five almost guaranteed ways you can unknowingly encourage disrespectful behavior in your child – and what you can do instead:

    1. Take everything personally. Over-react. Pretty much every teenager pokes relentlessly at their parents, expressing their frustrations in various ways. Eye rolling, scoffing, smirking – those are all tools in the teenage arsenal that convey their disregard. And as we all know, those mild, irritating behaviors can really get under your skin.Kids are looking for those weak spots, those places where they can drag you into defending yourself or your rules. If you take it personally, it’s going to be really hard to respond effectively. If you react to every single one of those behaviors, you’re not likely to see any change in your child.While these things are annoying, they aren’t necessarily something to correct. James Lehman talks about ignoring the little disrespectful things your child does – especially if she’s otherwise complying with your rules. The kid who mutters under her breath as she stomps off to do as she’s told is behaving like a typical, normal kid. It’s when your kid treats people badly while refusing to comply with expectations that you need to jump in and correct the behavior. (The EP article Disrespectful Child Behavior goes into this in more detail.)What to do instead:
      • Decide which behaviors you’re going to focus on, and which you can ignore. Remember that those mildly irritating behaviors aren’t about you, they’re simply an expression of frustration. Your role is to deal with your child or teen’s behavior as objectively as possible. It doesn’t mean you won’t be irritated! Just find ways to handle that emotion away from interactions with your child, if possible.Let it go, and stay focused on the topic at hand.
    2. Bad mouth other people. Life is stressful sometimes: bosses are challenging, neighbors get too loud, family members can be irritating. As a parent, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to show your kids how you manage your behavior when you’re annoyed or upset.Kids “watch us for a living,” as the Lehmans say. If you talk badly about others or treat other people with disrespect, don’t be surprised if your child follows suit.What to do instead:
      • Parents have to role model better behavior for their kids. Remember, they’re watching you, even if they don’t seem like they care what you do. If you value respect, model respectful behavior. Do your best to show them the way it should be done.

Related: How to give your child consequences that work.

    1. Take your child’s side. Wait, what? What does taking your child’s side have to do with disrespectful behavior?Let’s say your child complains about how much homework he has, calling the teacher names and generally being disrespectful toward her. You might agree that this particular teacher does give too much homework. If you take your child’s side in this case, you might say you agree that you think the teacher is stupid, and that she’s doing a terrible job. You agree that your child doesn’t have to do all that homework because clearly, the teacher is wrong.When you side with your child, in effect joining them in disrespectful behavior, you’re showing them that you don’t have to be respectful to someone you disagree with. The message your child hears is: If you think someone is wrong, then you have a right to be rude.What to do instead:
      • The truth is, neither you nor your child have to agree with someone in order to treat them respectfully. Even if you think the teacher (or the coach, or the boss, etc.) is wrong, let your child know that regardless of how they feel, they still need to find a way to act appropriately.One added bonus of this approach? Your child will most likely encounter plenty of people in his adult life he disagrees with. Help him learn the skills he needs to handle those disagreements in a calm and appropriate manner.

Related: Doing too much for your child? How to stop.

  1. Never notice their good behavior. Maybe you’re thinking, “Look, my kid is constantly disrespectful. I have to stay on him if I want things to change.”So you correct and redirect every chance you get. Sometimes your child does manage to get it right, but the bad times far outweigh any progress.Kids are just like adults: constant correction breeds resentment. If you’re always calling your child on his poor choices, he might decide there’s just no way he can win. If you never acknowledge the times he actually manages to control his own behavior, he may just stop trying. It may seem counter-intuitive, but relentless attention to failure, with no acknowledgement of even small success, can increase your child’s disrespectful behavior.What to do instead:
    • Kids respond well to praise. Not only does it feel good to be praised, it also gives your child important feedback: acknowledging good behavior reinforces those skills. If you notice your child doing something well, you might say: “When you went to your room instead of calling your sister names, that was really great. I know you’ve been working on controlling your temper when you’re annoyed. I appreciate it.”
  2. And last, but not least: demand respect. “I am your parent and you have to respect me!”Does that sound familiar? A lot of parents on the 1-on-1 Coaching ask, “How can I get my child to respect me?”The truth is, many kids don’t automatically respect their parents. In fact, it’s pretty normal that your teen thinks they know far more than you; that’s one of the pitfalls of adolescence. Pretty much every teen thinks they’re smarter and more in tune than their parents.So here’s the thing: you can’t make someone respect you. Respect is a feeling, and you can’t legislate feeling. Trying to force your child to respect you just isn’t going to work.If you can’t demand their respect, how can you possibly stop them from acting so badly?The answer lies in addressing their behavior, rather than their feelings – even their feelings about you.What to do instead:
    • You can’t demand respect, but you can require that your child acts respectfully, no matter how they feel about the situation.One great way to do this is to use one of James and Janet Lehman’s suggestions: when your child is behaving in a disrespectful way, you can tell them: “You don’t have to like the rule, but you do have to comply with it. Just because you’re irritated doesn’t mean you get to call me names.”Remember, stay focused on the behavior, and leave the feelings alone.

Related: How to give fail-proof consequences to your ODD child.

If you see yourself in any of these  examples above, please don’t worry. Recognizing an ineffective way of dealing  with disrespect is actually a great step. As you become more aware of the  things that don’t work, you’ll be better able to take consistent, effective action to turn the situation around. It will take time and practice, but you can help your child learn to behave in more respectful ways.

*These tips apply to mild to moderate disrespect from your child. If the behavior you’re seeing is more extreme than that, please be sure to reach out for more support. Remember, as The Total Transformation Program teaches, “There’s no excuse for abuse.” Too many parents have gone through the same challenges for you to feel alone. We’re always here to help.



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“The Importance of “Me Time”


When you treat yourself well, it will trickle down to everything else in life—your partner, children, classmates, coworkers etc. Whether it is going to a park to read a book for a half hour, treating yourself to a pedicure, or trying that new yoga class, here are 10 tips to carve out some time for yourself!

Schedule it

We schedule doctor’s appointments and work meetings, why not schedule some “me time”? Pencil it into your calendar lender just like you would for any other important event. It may seem silly, but this is how you will be able to remind yourself, and hold yourself accountable, to giving yourself some alone time.

Make it count

While it may be tempting to spend your free time running errands or catching up on school work, commit to spending the time to pamper yourself. Start a craft, or enjoy a warm cup of tea. You don’t have to spend a lot of time, but it has to be for yourself.

Find tasks that you can delegate

Some things are just easier for you to do yourself, but find other tasks that you can ask others to help you with. Have your children help you more with the chores, or ask a roommate to pick up a few grocery items if you know she is already going to the store. Lighten the load when you can—it will make a huge difference!

Check your email at designated times

You will save a lot of time if you set certain times to check your email. Checking it four times a day, or every two hours, instead of every 15 minutes, will give you some extra time. How often do you really need to be checking email?

Gimme 5

Even if five minutes is all you can muster, take it! Spend that 5 minutes breathing deeply, going for a walk outside, or just sitting quietly by yourself. That can be all it takes to recharge for the rest of the day.

Say no, gracefully

It is great to help out your friends and family when they ask. But if the favors they ask begin to cut into your ‘me time,’ it is okay to create a buffer. Tell them that you are happy to help, but you will need 20 minutes (or whatever time feels right) before you can do it.

Get up Earlier

You have probably heard this suggestion before. This time, actually give it a try! Try it for a week straight, and then decide if it is for you. Set your alarm for 15 minutes before you would normally wake up. Use that time to be quiet, write in a journal, or engage in any activity that restores you.

Use your shower time

Taking a shower may be your only naturally built in alone time during the day. Take advantage of it! Purchase some aroma therapy products that you love and treat each shower like it is a spa getaway. Take some deep breaths and let the warm water wash away any tension that you were having.

Maximize your commute

Most of us spend a lot of time in our cars driving to work, school and running errands. Instead of listening to music or podcasts, use that time to enjoy a brief period of quiet.

Remember why it is important

Taking care of yourself can leave you feeling guilty; you aren’t spending time with your family or doing work. Keep in mind that carving out time for yourself is vital for keeping yourself healthy, and that means a happier family and more productive work and school life.




Managing Stress for A Healthy Family


As the nation continues to face high-levels of stress, families are susceptible to mounting pressures from finances and work. Raising a family can be rewarding and demanding even in healthy social and economic climates, so stressful times can make things much more challenging. An online survey by the American Psychological Association (APA), conducted by Harris Interactive in August 2010, found that 73 percent of parents report family responsibilities as a significant source of stress. It was also found that over two-thirds of parents think their stress level has slight to no impact on their child’s stress level. However, only 14 percent of tweens and teens reported that they are not bothered when their parent is stressed. Furthermore, the connection between high stress levels and health is alarming, with 34 percent of obese parents experiencing high levels of stress (defined as an 8, 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale) as compared to 23 percent of normal-weight parents. It is important to consider the way a parent’s stress and corresponding unhealthy behaviors affect the family. For example, the APA survey found that parents who are obese are more likely than those who are normal weight to have children who are obese. In addition, overweight children are more likely than normal-weight children to report that their parents are often worried and stressed.

Children model their parents’ behaviors, including those related to managing stress. Parents who deal with stress in unhealthy ways risk passing those behaviors on to their children. Alternatively, parents who cope with stress in healthy ways can not only promote better adjustment and happiness for themselves, but also promote the formation of critically important habits and skills in children.

Parents know that changing a child’s behavior, let alone their own, can be challenging. By taking small, manageable steps to a healthier lifestyle, families can work toward meeting their goals to be psychologically and physically fit.

APA offers the following tips to get you and your family started down a healthy path:

Evaluate your lifestyle. As a parent, it’s important to model healthy behaviors for your children. Children are more likely to lead a healthy lifestyle and less likely to associate stress with unhealthy behaviors if the whole family practices healthy living and good stress management techniques. So, ask yourself ― How do I respond to stress? Do I tend to overeat or engage in other unhealthy behaviors, such as smoking and drinking alcohol, when I feel stressed? In what ways could my stress coping skills be improved?

Talk about it. If you notice that your children are looking worried or stressed, ask them what’s on their minds. Having regular conversations can help a family work together to better understand and address any stressors children are experiencing. Low levels of parental communication have been associated with poor decision making among children and teens.1 Talking to your children and promoting open communication and problem solving is just as important as eating well and getting enough exercise and sleep.

Create a healthy environment. Your home, work space and even social environment can influence your behaviors. Altering your environment can help alleviate stress. For example, cleaning up a cluttered environment can help. Look around your home and even your car and ask yourself, does this space feel clear and relaxing? Clearing up your home space for the family is something you and your children can control, and it teaches children to focus on those things they can control when feeling stressed.

Focus on yourself. The correlation between health, obesity and unhealthy choices is strong. When you and your family are experiencing stress, make a conscious decision to take care of yourselves. Get adequate doses of nutrients, physical activity and sleep. When you feel overwhelmed it is easy sometimes to fall into cycles such as eating fast food, plugging into sedentary electronic activities like playing video games or watching TV, or not getting enough sleep. Research shows that children who are sleep-deficient are more likely to have behavioral problems.2 And, parents have an extraordinary amount of influence on their children’s food choices.3 A healthy dinner followed by an activity with your family, such as walking, bike riding, playing catch or a board game, and topped off with a good night’s sleep can do a lot to manage or to lessen the negative effects of stress.

Change one habit at a time. You may aspire for your family to make multiple important changes at once such as eating healthier foods, being more physically active, getting a better night’s sleep or spending more time together. However, if you are already overextended from juggling many different responsibilities, doing all of this at once can feel overwhelming. Changing behaviors usually takes time. By starting with changing one behavior, you and your family are more likely to experience success, which can then encourage your family to tackle other challenges and to continue making additional healthy changes.

If you or a family member continues to struggle with changing unhealthy behaviors or feels overwhelmed by stress, consider seeking help from a health professional, such as a psychologist. Psychologists are licensed and trained to help you develop strategies to manage stress effectively and make behavioral changes to help improve your overall health.

For more information on stress, visit the APA Helpcenter. Read the full methodology for the 2010 Stress in America.




Knowing Your Family Health History Can Benefit You At Any Age


The holiday season offers many opportunities for your family to share a meal—and your family health history. You and your family members share genes, and you may also have similar behaviors, cultures, and environments, each of which may affect your risk of developing health problems. Family health history takes all of these factors into account. Everyone in your family can benefit from knowing your family’s health history and sharing this information with his or her doctor.

  • Before and During Pregnancy: If you have a family health history of a birth defect or genetic disorder, like sickle cell disease, you might have a higher risk of having a baby with this condition. Knowing your risk is important so that you can find and address potential health problems early. There may also be steps you can take to reduce your risk, such as taking folic acid to help prevent spina bifida. Remember to collect family health history from the baby’s father, too.
  • Children. Many genetic disorders are first detected in childhood, and knowing about a history of a genetic condition in your family can help your child’s doctor find and treat the condition early.
  • Young adults. A family health history of chronic diseases like diabetes or heart disease can mean that you should start screening tests earlier. For example, if you have a family health history of early onset heart disease, it is recommended that you start cholesterol screening at age 20.
  • Adults. Family health history can help your doctor decide what screening tests and other interventions you need and when. For example, if you have a grandmother, aunt, mother, or sister who had breast cancer before age 50, you may want to talk to your doctor about whether cancer genetic counseling might be right for you.
  • Older Adults. If you are one of the older members of your family, you may know more about diseases and health conditions in your family especially in relatives who are no longer living. Be sure to share this information with your younger relatives so that you may all benefit fromknowing this family health history information.

No matter what their ages are, everyone in your family can benefit from a healthy lifestyle, such as eating healthy, being physically active, and not smoking.
Are you ready to collect your family health history but don’t know where to start? Here’s how!

How to Collect Your Family Health History

The Surgeon General’s My Family Health Portrait is a free web-based tool that can help you and your family collect and organize family health history information. My Family Health Portrait allows you to share this information easily with your doctor.

  • The first step is to talk to your family. Write down the names of blood relatives you need to include in your history. The most important relatives to include in your family health history are your parents, brothers and sisters, and your children. Next, you may want to talk to grandparents, uncles and aunts, nieces and nephews, and half-brothers and half-sisters.
  • Ask questions. To find out about your risk for chronic diseases, ask your relatives about which of these diseases they have had and when they were diagnosed. Questions can include:
    • Do you have any chronic diseases, such as heart disease or diabetes, or health conditions such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol?
    • Have you had any other serious diseases, such as cancer or stroke?
    • How old were you when each of these diseases was diagnosed?
    • What is our family’s ancestry – what country did we come from?
    • For relatives who have died, be sure to ask about cause and age of death.
  • Record the information. Write this information down, and be sure to update it from time to time. To organize the information in your family health history you could use a free web-based tool such as My Family Health Portrait.
  • Share family health history information with your doctor and other family members. Your family health history can give you an idea of your risk for chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease and diabetes, but it is not the only factor to consider. If you are concerned about diseases that are common in your family, talk to your doctor at your next visit. A doctor can evaluate all of the factors, including family health history, that may affect your risk of some diseases, and can recommend ways to reduce that risk.

My Family Health Portrait lets you know your risk  (increased, not increased) for diabetes and colon cancer based on your family health history and other risk factors. Even if you have a high risk family health history of diabetes, colon cancer, or another condition, that does not mean that you or your family members will definitely get that disease. It is important that you talk to your doctor about steps that you can take to lower your chances of getting the disease. You have already taken the first step by learning about your family health history!







Understanding Family Relationships


If someone walked up to you and said “Howdy, I’m your third cousin, twice removed,” would you have any idea what they meant? Most people have a good understanding of basic relationship words such as “mother,” “father,” “aunt,” “uncle,” “brother,” and “sister.” But what about the relationship terms that we don’t use in everyday speech? Terms like “second cousin” and “first cousin, once removed”? We don’t tend to speak about our relationships in such exact terms (“cousin” seems good enough when you are introducing one person to another), so most of us aren’t familiar with what these words mean.

Relationship Terms

Sometimes, especially when working on your family history, it’s handy to know how to describe your family relationships more exactly. The definitions below should help you out.

Cousin (a.k.a “first cousin”): Your first cousins are the people in your family who have two of the same grandparents as you. In other words, they are the children of your aunts and uncles.

Second Cousin: Your second cousins are the people in your family who have the same great-grandparents as you., but not the same grandparents.

Third, Fourth, and Fifth Cousins: Your third cousins have the same great-great-grandparents, fourth cousins have the same great-great-great-grandparents, and so on.

Removed: When the word “removed” is used to describe a relationship, it indicates that the two people are from different generations. You and your first cousins are in the same generation (two generations younger than your grandparents), so the word “removed” is not used to describe your relationship.

  • The words “once removed” mean that there is a difference of one generation. For example, your mother’s first cousin is your first cousin, once removed. This is because your mother’s first cousin is one generation younger than your grandparents and you are two generations younger than your grandparents. This one-generation difference equals “once removed.” Twice removed means that there is a two-generation difference. You are two generations younger than a first cousin of your grandmother, so you and your grandmother’s first cousin are first cousins, twice removed.

Relationship Charts Simplify Everything

Now that you have an idea of what these different words mean, take a look at the chart below. It’s called a relationship chart, and it can help you figure out how different people in your family are related. It’s much simpler than it looks, just follow the instructions.

Instructions for Using a Relationship Chart

  1. Pick two people in your family and figure out which ancestor they have in common. For example, if you chose yourself and a cousin, you would have a grandparent in common.
  2. Look at the top row of the chart and find the first person’s relationship to the common ancestor.
  3. Look at the far left column of the chart and find the second person’s relationship to the common ancestor.
  4. Determine where the row and column containing those two relationships meet.
Common Ancestor Child Grandchild G-grandchild G-g-grandchild
Child Sister or Brother Nephew or Niece Grand-nephew or niece G-grand-nephew or niece
Grandchild Nephew or Niece First cousin First cousin, once removed First cousin, twice removed
G-grandchild Grand-nephew or niece First cousin, once removed Second cousin Second cousin, once removed
G-g-grandchild G-grand-nephew or niece First cousin, twice removed Second cousin, once removed Third cousin

Just When You Thought You Had it

When you are working with older records, be aware that the meaning of the word “cousin,” along with the meanings of other relationship terms, have changed over time.






Building good family relationships

Raising Children


Good family relationships help your child feel secure and loved. This is what children need to learn and grow.

Being a parent can be one of the most difficult (and rewarding!) jobs around. It’s not something that you can be perfect at. Most parents are doing the best they can for their kids while juggling work, friends, managing a house, and lots more.

But it’s worth trying to improve the relationships you share with your child and other family members. Good family relationships are more than just enjoyable for their own sake. They:

  • make children feel secure and loved, which helps their brains develop
  • can help to overcome difficulties with children’s eating, sleeping, learning and behavior.

Even for the busiest of parents, there are plenty of easy things you can do to develop good family relationships.

Spend quality time together

  • Use time together, such as mealtimes, to talk and share a laugh.
  • Have one-on-one chats with each family member to build and strengthen individual relationships.
  •  Do fun things together as a family on a regular basis.
  •  Make decisions together about what to do for special events such as birthdays.

Communicate in positive ways

  • Talk about everything (even difficult things).
  • Listen with full attention to each other.
  • Make it OK to talk about feelings (even the bad ones).
  • Encourage each other with praise rather than being critical.
  • Work together to solve problems.
  • Discipline with love, patience and understanding.
  • Show appreciation, love and encouragement through words and affection.
All good relationships in life have the same thing in common – good basic communication. This can be applied to relationships in all cultures, religions and family structures.

Work together as a team

  • Create family rules that apply to everyone.
  • Include older children in decisions about things like family rules and family holidays.
  • Share household chores.
  • Think about everyone’s needs when planning family activities.
  • Let children make some of their own decisions (as long as they’re still within the boundaries you’ve set and within their developmental levels).

Appreciate each other

  • Take an interest in each other’s lives.
  • Include everyone in a conversation when talking about the day’s events.
  • Support each other in important events such as sports days and school concerts.









Understanding Your Baby’s Personality

Your baby’s personality is unique, even from an early age. One baby might be quiet, another alert, one aggressive, another laid-back. Over the first few years, your baby will develop the personality type that will follow him into adulthood. Learn how your baby’s personality is formed and how to encourage healthy development.


Genetic Factors

Though little is known about how genes affect the personality of your baby, doctors agree that something causes siblings to have completely opposite or decidedly similar personalities. Researchers are currently studying how genes influence Baby’s personality, but they do know that Baby’s environment and your presence play crucial roles in her personality as an adult. “There is definite nature and nurture influence on personality. There are people who are definitely introverted and people who are extroverted, and that is just the way they are. Introverts are not necessarily bad at social situations; they’re just uncomfortable, and that’s a definite biological, genetic thing,” says Jen Meyers, coauthor of Raising Your Child.

Your Parenting Makes a Difference

Whether your child is a boy or a girl, an introvert or an extrovert, your parenting can make a difference in his or her development. There is no “right” way to parent; it is a learn-as-you-go process. But one thing is for sure: Your constant love is the most important factor in Baby’s development of self and personality. Creating a healthy attachment with Baby, whether it be going for a walk together or simply responding to your baby’s cries, will allow a positive relationship to develop. “When your child is ready to do something, she will do it,” Meyers says. “Following your child’s inner timeline is important for your child’s development of self-esteem and self-worth because it is saying that your child’s timeline is okay.”

Decoding Personality Types

You’ll be able to tell from about 1 year of age whether your child is introverted or extroverted. An extrovert will be playful and inquisitive without shyness. An introvert will exhibit signs of curiosity but will be more cautious about exploration. A combination of genes and environment affect your baby’s tendency toward an introverted or extroverted personality. Recognize your baby’s personality type and adjust your parenting style to complement it. For example, your baby might need you to stick around in new situations if he is slow to warm up. “You have to be sensitive to whether a big noisy place is fun for your child or overwhelming for your child,” Meyers says. “You’re going to understand how your baby reacts and you’re going to naturally be able to choose activities that best suit his personality.”

To read more goto:







Single parent? Tips for raising a child alone

Raising a child on your own can be stressful. If you’re a single parent, understand how to cope with the pressure, find support and nurture your child.

Source:  By Mayo Clinic Staff

If you’re raising a child on your own, you’re in good company. Single-parent families are more common than ever. Know how to manage some of the special challenges single parents experience and what you can do to raise a happy, healthy child.

 What are the most common single-parent challenges?

Child rearing can be difficult under any circumstances. Without a partner, the stakes are even higher. As a single parent, you might have sole responsibility for all aspects of day-to-day child care. This can result in added pressure, stress and fatigue. If you’re too tired or distracted to be emotionally supportive or consistently discipline your child, behavioral problems might arise.

Single-parent families also generally have lower incomes and less access to health care. Juggling work and child care can be financially difficult and socially isolating. You might worry about the lack of a male or female parental role model for your child, too.

How can a single parent deal with these challenges?

To reduce stress in your single-parent family:

  • Show your love. Remember to praise your child. Give him or her your unconditional love and support. Set aside time each day to play, read or simply sit with your child.
  • Create a routine. Structure — such as regularly scheduled meals and bedtimes — helps your child know what to expect.
  • Find quality child care. If you need regular child care, look for a qualified caregiver who can provide stimulation in a safe environment. Don’t rely on an older child as your only baby sitter. Be careful about asking a new friend or partner to watch your child.
  • Set limits. Explain house rules and expectations to your child — such as speaking respectfully — and enforce them. Work with other caregivers in your child’s life to provide consistent discipline. Consider re-evaluating certain limits, such as your child’s screen time, when he or she shows the ability to accept more responsibility.
  • Don’t feel guilty. Don’t blame yourself or spoil your child to try to make up for being a single parent.
  • Take care of yourself. Include physical activity in your daily routine, eat a healthy diet and get plenty of sleep. Arrange time to do activities you enjoy alone or with close friends.
  • Lean on others. Work out a carpool schedule with other parents. Join a support group for single parents or seek social services. Call on trusted loved ones, friends and neighbors for help. Faith communities can be helpful resources, too.
  • Stay positive. It’s OK to be honest with your child if you’re having a difficult time, but remind him or her that things will get better. Try to keep your sense of humor when dealing with everyday challenges.  To read more go to:






Fight Frustration

“Help your child learn the patience, practice, and perseverance he needs to overcome obstacles.”


Five-year-old Mateo sits in front of the mirror, blowing air through his pursed lips. He wants to whistle, just like his grandpa. At first, as he blows gently, the faint notes seem promising. Excited, he blows a little harder, clenching his mouth into an O. But the more he tries, the worse he sounds. Suddenly he shouts, “I’ll never learn to whistle!” He bolts from his chair, flips it onto the floor, and launches himself onto his bed, where he lands in a sobbing heap.

Hearing the commotion, his grandfather peeks in and asks, “What’s the matter?”

“I stink at whistling! I’ll never be any good,” Mateo shrieks.

Frustration is inevitable in childhood, especially when a child struggles to master something new or when he’s told he can’t do or have something he wants. Most of us can remember these moments from our own childhoods, such as when we first tried to tie our shoes, ride a bike, or hold our breath underwater. We all get frustrated when we are unable, or forbidden, to do what we’ve set out to do. The resulting feelings of anger, discouragement, and despair can be overwhelming, particularly to young children.

The good news is that the challenges that lead predictably to frustration can be turned into opportunities for learning. With your help, your child can learn how to confront and overcome frustration and the feelings that go with it, a valuable skill that he’ll need his whole life long.

When She Says “I Can’t Do It!”
Depending on your child’s temperament, frustration might result in tears, silent seething and steaming, or blood-curdling shrieks and flying objects. The intensity of a child’s frustration is magnified by how insurmountable the barriers seem and how badly she wants to succeed. Until she does, his self-esteem is at stake. For a young child surrounded by adults who are competent in so many things she has yet to master, it is hard to believe that one day she, too, will master the same skills. “I’m no good at this” is only a short step away from “I’m no good at all” in a young child’s mind.

As a child faces each new challenge, he needs to learn three things:

  1. How to control feelings of frustration. You can help him learn to soothe himself by demonstrating patience and self-control, and by suggesting self-calming strategies, such as cuddling with a favorite stuffed animal; singing a favorite song; taking a break and doing something fun; or beginning the task again with a smaller step so that there is a first success to build on. Your long-term goal is for him to learn to recognize when he’s frustrated and what he can do about it on his own.
  2. How to believe in herself. You can help her hold on to her sense of self-worth by helping her remember her past successes – and the struggles that preceded them. Put her current struggle into perspective by recalling other times that she thought she’d never succeed, until she did. Help her learn to notice the strengths that she can count on to help her triumph — guts, determination, endurance, careful observation (no matter how fledgling some of these qualities may still be).
  3. How to keep on trying. You can help your child recognize that learning involves trial and error. Mastering a new skill takes patience, perseverance, practice, and the confidence that success will come. To a young child, achieving success, whether it’s writing his name or hitting a baseball for the first time, can seem monumental.

Instead of recognizing that failure is temporary, a child often concludes, “I’ll neversucceed.” That is why encouragement is by far the most important gift you can give your frustrated child. Take her dejection seriously, but help her look at her challenge differently: “Never,” you might reply, “is an awfully long time.” Eventually, she’ll learn from your encouraging words to talk herself out of giving up.

Helping Your Child Cope with “No”
The other form of childhood frustration arises when “I want” meets “You can’t.” When you tell your child that he can’t have that candy bar, or stay up past his bedtime, he’s bound to struggle. Once he gives in to your requests, of course, he’ll be angry and disappointed. Every day your child invests so much of his energy in fulfilling his desires, and he usually expects your support. But in these situations, you play a very different role: You say, “No. And I mean it!” Now rather than encouraging him to persevere when he can’t have his way, you need to help him let go of his wish and accept reality.

Though she may hold you responsible for her frustration, you still need to help her get it under control. The first two lessons she will need to learn from these types of experiences are similar to the ones she will learn when facing new challenges: how to cool down heated emotions and develop an understanding that her value as a person is independent of always getting what she wants.

The third lesson, though, is for parents. When your child can’t get what he wants, you must learn perseverance and endurance. If you have wavered in the past, for example, about candy at the checkout counter, your child will be even more frustrated the next time you try to say no. You can certainly empathize with your child’s wish at first, even if you’ve decided that it can’t be satisfied: “I know how badly you want it, but I just can’t let you.” Then, if you stick to your guns, your child will learn that he can balance his wishes with the demands of reality, just as you do.

A child who fails to learn these lessons is bound to be unhappy. She’ll take such frustration personally, focusing on what she can’t have rather than learning to accept that she can’t always get what she wants. Teaching these important lessons takes a delicate balance of empathy and limits. When you remain calm, it is easier for your child to be reassured that her desires will not be allowed to rage out of control, and that not getting this or that may turn out to be less important than it first seems. If you are hesitant about saying no when you must, you miss out on teaching your child that living with unsatisfied wishes is a necessity, and not necessarily such a terrible thing.

Try these strategies to help your child live with the reality that all his wishes cannot be satisfied, while still sustaining his motivation to express and fulfill his needs:

  • Be firm, and stand your ground.
  • Pick your battles. Look for opportunities to balance no with yes.
  • Offer choices that you can live with — which book to read, which ice cream flavor to eat, and so on. Don’t give choices that you’ll need to take back.
  • Empathize with your child’s frustration, and let her know that it is understandable. But don’t give in to dramatizing her disappointment. She needs to learn to put it into perspective.
  • Make it clear that other people’s needs are important, too, even when facing them means dealing with frustration. Help your child feel proud that he can handle his own frustration in order to be fair or helpful to others.
  • Don’t protect your child from her own frustration. She may come to feel that she can’t count on herself to face reality, and that you don’t think she’s up to learning to manage her feelings.
  • Remember that your child will feel reassured both by your limits and by your respect for his growing ability to settle down and control himself.

With each new accomplishment, your child learns the indispensable value of patience, practice, and perseverance. With each drama of unfulfilled desire overcome, she gains confidence in her ability to withstand frustration and disappointment, to be the master of her feelings rather than a victim of them.


Fraternal Twins

Fraternal twins are “dizygotic,” meaning that they developed from two different eggs fertilized by two different sperm cells, while identical twins are “monozygotic” i.e., they developed from a single fertilized egg that split. The likelihood of identical twins is the same around the world — about 3 in 1,000, while the incidence of fraternal twins varies by geography and ranges from 6 to over 20 per 1,000 deliveries. Source:

Comparison chart

Fraternal Twins versus Identical Twins comparison chart
Fraternal Twins Identical Twins
Develop from Two different eggs fertilized by two different sperm cells The splitting of the same fertilized egg into two
Genetic code Like any other sibling; not identical. Nearly identical
Gender Usually different Always the same
Likelihood Varies by country. About 6 in 1,000 in Japan, up to over 20 per 1,000 in some parts of Africa. Two-thirds of all twins in the world are fraternal. Uniform around the world; about 3 in 1,000. Only one-third of all twins in the world are identical.
Blood type May be different Always the same
Causes Hereditary predisposition, certain fertility drugs, IVF Not known
Appearance As similar as any other sibling Extremely similar, although may not be exactly identical due to environmental factors
In utero Develop separate sacs in utero. May be contained in one sac in utero.
Risk for TTTS (twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome) Low risk Higher risk compared with fraternal twins
Fingerprints Different Different




12 Ways to Raise a Confident Child


How to Raise a Confident Child

Self-esteem is your child’s passport to a lifetime of mental health and social happiness. It’s the foundation of a child’s well-being and the key to success as an adult. At all ages, how you feel about yourself affects how you act. Think about a time when you were feeling really good about yourself. You probably found it much easier to get along with others and feel good about them. Try these tips and advice to help raise a confident child.

Self-Image is How One Perceives Oneself

The child looks in the mirror and likes the person he sees. He looks inside himself and is comfortable with the person he sees. He must think of this self as being someone who can make things happen and who is worthy of love. Parents are the main source of a child’s sense of self-worth.

Lack of a Good Self-Image Very Often Leads to Behavior Problems

Most of the behavioral problems that I see for counseling come from poor self-worth in parents as well as children. Why is one person a delight to be with, while another always seems to drag you down? How people value themselves, get along with others, perform at school, achieve at work and relate in marriage, all stem from strength of their self-image.

Healthy Self-Worth Doesn’t Mean Being Narcissistic or Arrogant

If you raise a confident child that grows up with a healthy self-worth, it means they have a realistic understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, enjoying the strengths and working on the problem areas. Because there is such a strong parallel between how your child feels about himself and how he acts, it is vital to discipline to raise a confident child. Throughout life your child will be exposed to positive influences (builders) and negative influences (breakers). Parents can expose their child to more builders and help him work through the breakers.

1. Practice Attachment Parenting

Put yourself in the place of a baby who spends many hours a day in a caregiver’s arms, is worn in a sling, breastfed on cue, and her cries are sensitively responded to. How do you imagine this baby feels?

This baby feels loved; this baby feels valuable. Ever had a special day when you got lots of strokes and showered with praise? You probably felt very appreciate and loved. The infant on the receiving end of this high-touch style of parenting develops self-worth. She likes what she feels.  Read full article at:


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Teach your child to share


Great Tips from       WebMD

Sharing Strategies

Prep for play dates. Let toddlers or preschoolers choose some of their most loved possessions to set aside before other children come over. Siblings, especially older brothers and sisters, can have some toys designated just for them.

Make it clear. “Kids get a much better sense of what you want if you use the term ‘taking turns,'” Karp says. They’ve learned to take turns in infancy through babbled “conversation” with caregivers, he says. Explain that toys work the same way — everyone gets a turn.

Talk it up. “You can notice and point out sharing in day-to-day life,” Karp says. “‘Look at that man. He’s sharing the bread with the bird.'” Pointing out what other people do is, Karp says, “an effective way of planting the seed.” For more information go to: WebMD



Kids’ Birthday Parties: Taking The Stress Out Of Celebrations


Have you ever looked around at a child’s birthday party and noticed how stressed out the hosts look? In trying to plan the perfect celebration for our kid, many of us fret over ever detail and overextend ourselves and our budgets.

The leaders of our Stress-Less Parenting workshop, Christine Koh and Asha Dornfest, argue in their new book Minimalist Parenting that less fuss = more fun when it comes to family celebrations. As Christine writes in her new blog post, her family found that throwing simpler parties that suited her daughter’s temperament made everyone — including the birthday girl — a lot happier.

Here, she and Asha offer tips for throwing the right kind of party for both you and your child.


Getting to the heart of your motivations around celebrations will help you identify your party priorities. You may be surprised to find that your expectations have more to do with your needs than your child’s.
Ask yourself:
* Am I doing this because I love throwing parties and (perhaps a little)
showing off my entertaining skills?
* Am I compensating for something missing from my own childhood?
* Am I doing this because everyone else is throwing large parties
and inviting the entire class?

Tailor Party Plans to Your Child’s Temperament
Once you’re clear about your own motivations, you’ll be able to see clearly what’s most important: what your kid would enjoy.

Consider Throwing Parties Every Few Years
Everyone should feel special on her birthday, but there’s no rule that says your kid has to have an elaborate party every year. Family gatherings, simple traditions, sleepovers, or a day out with one or two good friends can be just as special as a big party, especially if big parties are overwhelming.

Plan Separate Celebrations
If you have a large family, consider planning two separate (but simple!) gatherings to keep the numbers more intimate.

Play to Your Strengths
If you’re a natural party planner, wonderful! Planning your kids’ birthday parties is likely a source of joy, and you should run with it! But if you’re not one for entertaining, the idea of hosting 12 5-year-olds in your house may fill you with dread. No need to feel guilty — just ask for help. If you want to save on the prep/mess factor at home, another great solution is to outsource the party. No need for an expensive, chaotic trip to the local pizza-arcade-party factory!


Decide on a Reasonable Number of Guests
A common rule of thumb is one person per year of the child’s age. But once kids start school, that’s not always possible as class-wide parties become the norm. If you don’t have the energy to host a class-wide party, that’s perfectly fine. Simply distribute invitations outside of school and to talk to your child about the importance of discretion.

Simplify Invitations
Printed or hand-lettered invitations are lovely — but only if you and your child enjoy making them. For everyone else, electronic invites via e-mail, Evite, or Paperless Post are quick, easy, and get the job done.

Ask for RSVPs, but Don’t Worry About Stragglers
It’s always handy to know how many people are going to show up at your party, especially when guests arrive with siblings. But a few RSVPs are bound to get lost in the parenting chaos. Plan on a few extra portions of food and don’t worry about it.

Set an End Time
Always err on the side of a shorter party, and note a specific end time on the invitation. As kids get older, most parents will expect to drop off their kids and pick them up at the end of the party. If you’d like some grown up assistants, be sure to arrange for them ahead of time.

Reduce the Expectations About Meals
A party doesn’t necessarily have to involve a meal. A selection of selfserve snacks and drinks, plus birthday cake, make for a perfectly festive food setup. If you set your party time between lunch and dinner, the expectations will be clear.

Simplify the Decor
It’s amazing how far a few balloons, streamers, or tissue paper balls go toward creating a festive atmosphere. In fact, to create a cohesive and festive party atmosphere in mere minutes, pick up plates, napkins, a disposable tablecloth, and balloons in the same color palette and you’re good to go.

Prioritize Tasks in Order of Fun Factor — Then Let the Rest Go
Even when your plans are simple, sometimes the tasks can still stack up. Prioritize the things that bring you the most joy and let go of the rest.

Skip the Goodie Bags!
There! We said it! We love the generous spirit behind goodie bags and party favors, but we could all do without random tchotchkes that get played with for five seconds (if that) and then stuffed in a drawer. How about hosting a simple craft activity and letting the result serve as the parting gift? Or sending kids home with something edible/usable? Or taking a group photo and printing out copies (at the party or after) for each child to keep?

Team Up with a Friend
Does your child have a good buddy with a birthday in close proximity? Team up to reduce effort (and scheduling) for all!





If your child is having problems, here are some tips to get him on the right path.

By Judy Koutsky


If you notice your child is suddenly having problems in school (he’s gone from an “A” to “C” student) or maybe his behavior has changed recently (he used to love basketball, but then he dropped out), you might be worried that he’s going down the wrong road. Here are nine tips to get your child back on track.

1. Address red flags promptly. “If you notice some red flags — such as getting into trouble at school, falling behind in a subject, or missing extracurricular activities — it is important to address the situation promptly,” says clinical psychologist Nekeshia Hammond, PsyD. Talk to your child as soon as the situation becomes known. Don’t accuse him or sound upset. Ask him openly what’s going on.

2. Talk to your child. “[Some children] will easily open up. Other children may shut down or become angry or defensive about your questioning,” says Hammond. “Depending on the response of your child, they may need other outlets to discuss their feelings.” Maybe your child would rather talk to a relative, coach, or other respected adult friend.

3. Maintain positivity and expectations. “Instead of taking an emotional approach (‘I am so disappointed in you’), ask questions like, ‘What can you do differently this year to stay on top of your grades?’” says licensed professional counselor Tina Sustaeta, MS, LPC. “Helping your teen come up with ideas and goals are great ways to show him how much you believe in his ability to succeed.”

4. Communicate with the school. “Communication with your child’s school is critical. Keep in close contact with teachers and administrative staff about how your child is doing in school,” says Hammond. “If your child has started to get into trouble, discuss ways you can work with the school to resolve the issue and decrease further occurrences.” If falling behind on schoolwork is an issue, try to find out if your child is having trouble understanding the material or if there’s something else going on. If he or she is having trouble comprehending the assignments, a tutor might help. “Keep track of your teen’s school assignments. Don’t assume anything,” adds Sustaeta.

5. Revoke weeknight social privileges. If you’re noticing academic grades falling, perhaps it’s because your child has an active social life. “Do not allow your teen to go out socially on school nights,” suggests Sustaeta. Let him socialize on the weekends and leave weeknights for school activities and homework.

More from P&G everyday: 5 Tough Topics Moms Must Talk to Their Kids About Now

6. Encourage more sleep. “Make sure your teen is getting enough sleep, especially on school nights,” says Sustaeta. “The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests a minimum of 8.5 to 9.5 hours a night.” Inadequate sleep can leave your child drowsy and unfocused the next day at school, which can lead to a myriad of problems.

7. Reduce screen time allowances. In the evenings, along with encouraging an earlier bedtime, “have your teen put all electronics to bed as well,” Sustaeta adds. Staying up late surfing the Internet, playing games on their iPads, or texting friends on their phones does not make for a restful bedtime ritual.

8. Get to the root of the problem. If the problem is not academic, then it’s important to “explore the reason for the change in behavior. Perhaps there is bullying, depression, or anxiety,” says Hammond. Talk to your child, the school, his sports coaches — people who know him well. See if they have some insight to share.

9. Seek professional help. “In many cases, interventions in the home and school settings are helpful for getting children back on track,” notes Hammond. “However, if things get too out of hand or unmanageable, your child may need to see a mental health professional to explore if individual therapy is an option for him. There is a stigma in regards to mental health, but research has shown that many children and adolescents have benefited from therapy services.” Going to see a therapist simply means you are seeking another form of treatment for your child.

Have you ever felt your child was headed down the wrong path? What did you do?


Fix Rude Behavior

By Parents -By Jacqueline Burt from Parents


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