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5 Year Old with Behavior Problems in Kindergarten
First three days of kindergarten: Not wanting to listen, arguing “that’s not how my sister’s class does it,” refusing to participate all took place on day one. Second day he was sent to timeout for not listening and talking to the kids during circle time. Then yesterday became angry at another child and threw their toy across the room.
I know he’s been ornery lately, but he is also the only child with allergies and the class is having to adapt things because of him. Honestly when I met the teacher, she seemed inconvenienced over this fact. He is placed at a table away from the students at lunch time for his protection which I appreciate since pb&j are a major staple in elementary school, but as of yesterday NO ONE sat with him at lunch. This has me heartbroken and I have to wonder if all of this is just too much for his almost 5 year old brain to process.
I’m afraid that w/ his behavioral issues he will become the teacher’s target. As it stands she has sent home a paper they did in class with a red circle on it that says “Follow directions!” (exclamation point) I looked over the paper and he DID follow the instructions. However along the side she wrote that they were doing this paper together and he rushed and did it all at once. So he completed the assignment with no mistakes but she is upset because he got excited and completed it without waiting to do it with the class. O.K. I get that kind of thing is about working together, but really?
I have asked the teacher for a conference. I want to make sure she feels comfortable disciplining him as needed but that she’s not putting him in TO for petty little things either. I know he’s not used to the process, but this is kindergarten and supposed to be fun. He should not be getting in trouble every single day. Sigh. So….what should I ask?
What are some good ideas for establishing rules for him? We are pretty laid back here and anything short of hurting another person I just deal with. For instance, with preschool papers we never really cared about HOW he did them, just as long as he got the answers right. I’m not into “process for the sake of process.” and I fear that it may stifle him. We have discussed everything except the TO with him since we felt he was already disciplined at school, no need to rehash it at home. The first day we just discussed expectations for behavior and I escorted him in to apologize the next day so the teacher knew we weren’t ignoring the issues. And yesterday with the throwing we talked long and hard about how we behave when we are angry. I hope eventually it sinks in, but I’m terrified now my kid will be labeled the “bad” kid or the bully.
Wow. No wonder some kids hate school by first grade.
Your goal, of course, is to prevent that from happening. The best way to do that is to establish a bond between your son and his teacher. Kids only behave for teachers once they care about that relationship, and care what the teacher thinks of them.
Unfortunately, this teacher has so far not seemed to bond with your son, and seems more concerned about control. You can’t blame her for wanting to keep order in her classroom, of course. That is usually a big pressure for teachers early in the school year. But it would be a shame if she can’t bond with the kids she feels are disruptive, because that bond is how she can bring them back into better behavior.
In the PT conference, you’re more likely to get things onto a better footing if you first establish a bond with her. The best way to do that is to acknowledge the situation from her perspective. She has a big class of kids to manage, and she needs them to cooperate. And yes, it’s true, your son can get over-excited and doesn’t always listen. You’ve noticed that too, and you appreciate that it must be a challenge for the teacher since he does not yet have a bond with her that makes him want to cooperate. And he’s still working on his impulse control, so you’ve talked a lot with him about ways to control himself if he gets mad at another child, and why throwing toys is off limits. He’s getting better but he’s only five and still learning.
Then, tell her that you want to be her partner in teaching him to behave at school, and you need her partnership to keep your son liking school. Say you’re worried that he’s already showing signs of not liking school.
Ask her how you can be of help to her in teaching him appropriate classroom behavior. After you listen to her perspective, you might make some suggestions yourself. For instance, since feeling constantly criticized will backfire, maybe she could focus on the biggest issues — like not throwing toys and being quiet when asked — and not worry so much about whether he rushes through his worksheet. Tell her you know that she wanted the class to work together on the paper, and that he will develop the ability to do that, but he was trying to impress her by being able to complete the work. Explain that if he feels connected to her, he will behave for her, and that a little positive attention from her will go a long way.
If the teacher seems at a loss for positive ways to encourage his cooperation, here are five suggestions:
1. Give him a special responsibility. For instance, let him come a couple minutes early into the classroom to sharpen her pencils or do some other specific job for her. This will help him feel important, so he won’t need to challenge her, and it will help his self esteem in the face of any criticism from her. Most important, he will feel their relationship is special (even if she doesn’t make any special effort), so that he will be more likely to behave for her.
2. When he behaves well, have her send home a special badge or certificate acknowledging his effort. (It can be the same badge over and over. You can even offer to make it!) Your job is to make a big deal when he comes home with the badge.
3. Teach him self-management skills to increase his impulse control. You definitely don’t want him to be getting in trouble at school all the time. He needs your help to learn to use calming strategies like counting to ten, breathing deep, etc. You can show her what you’re teaching him so that she can encourage him to use those strategies at school. (But unless he feels a connection with her, he won’t take direction from her.)
4. Sign a contract with him about his behavior. This has been proven to be an effective tool with preschoolers and kindergarteners, if the teacher and parent both participate. There are several good templates online. Just be sure it is positive and encouraging rather than shaming.
5. Eating lunch with others seems non-negotiable. Being isolated will definitely make him feel like a bad kid, and will keep him from bonding with the other kids the way he needs to, which will make him act out more. It is standard practice to designate a certain table as milk-free or peanut-free. The students with allergies enjoy sitting with their friends who have “safe” lunches. To make this process easier, one teacher suggests hanging a magnetic board with a line drawn down the middle. One side for peanut lunches, the other for non-peanut lunches. Every child has a magnet with his or her name on it. As the kids arrive in the morning, they move their magnet to the appropriate side. When only one child has lunch with peanuts in it, the class is divided in half anyway, so no one feels isolated. (If there are more tables, the teacher just draws horizontal lines so the names are evenly divided.)
I want to add that you need to help your son develop a positive relationship with his teacher. That means resisting your own impulse to make any negative comments about the teacher, even when you think she’s wrong This can be a tough balancing act, because you also need to give your son a chance to blow off steam by listening and empathizing with him: “Uh huh. Tell me more. You are pretty mad at your teacher right now. You feel like she was unfair.” After you listen and acknowledge that you understand why he’s upset, have a brainstorming session about how he could make sure things go differently tomorrow. Make sure to let him come up with some of the ideas, instead of lecturing him.
Most important, before you go to the PT conference, do some deep breathing and reassure yourself. You are a good mom, and your son is a good person. And this teacher works with kids, presumably, because she likes them. Even though your son has gotten off on the wrong foot, this is something he can recover from. Going into the meeting feeling positively toward the teacher is the first step in the right direction. Good luck!
Why is my child so picky about his/her cloths?
We’ve all put on a wool sweater or scarf that feels really itchy and irritating on our skin. You feel in constant discomfort all day long when you move the slightest bit, its distracting for you all day, and you promise yourself you’ll never wear it again. Kids with tactile hypersensitivities experience this on a daily basis with many types of clothing, causing them to become picky about what they put on their bodies.
A typical tactile system will feel a light touch stimulus, such as a t-shirt on your body, and will quickly adapt to the feeling, so that the nervous system and tactile system no longer notice it is touching the skin. This allows us to wear clothes all day, and not notice or feel irritated by the constant touch on our bodies. The tactile systems of children with hypersensitivities never adapt to the light touch feeling, and are, therefore, constantly aware of it, constantly irritated by it, and constantly distracted by it. Some children may be so sensitive to touch that they perceive the touch of clothing as painful. Children with tactile sensitivities may begin to be rigid about the types of clothing they will put on their bodies, tending to prefer anything that is very soft, and/or seamless, so that it is more tolerable for them and allows them to function better throughout the day.
Suggestions to try to expand your child’s repertoire of clothing include:
Wash your child’s clothing several times to achieve a “worn in” affect. Use LOTS of fabric softener.
Purchase the softest fabrics you can find, particularly cotton, fleece, and flannel. There are also websites that specialize in extra soft clothing, such as http://www.softclothing.net.
Try wearing socks inside out, or purchase seemless clothing (such as socks, shirts, and undergarments), some suggested sites are http://www.smartknitkids.com/.
Take your child shopping and allow him/her to choose what you purchase. Make a fun day of it!
Allow your child to choose and lay out his/her own clothing the night before school
Remove all tags, embroidered emblems, cuffs and waistbands, or other potential irritants
During and after the shower or bath, try doing firm rub downs to the arms, legs, back, neck, hands and feet, avoiding the stomach and face as these are very sensitive areas. Start with soap or lotion, and firm, deep pressure. When this is tolerated, move to soft washcloths, then rougher washcloths and towels, and to sponges and loofahs as your child’s tolerance increases and his/her sensitivity decreases. Doing this consistently and as often as you can, ideally several times a day, will have the greatest results.
Massage with lotion after bath time. The deep pressure is calming and may help to decrease tactile sensitivities.
Explore different snug fitting clothing to be worn alone or under regular clothing, such as tights, or leggings; lycra / spandex undershirt that fits very snugly; or a “compression shirt” or other compression garments, such as a SPIO. Snug fitting garments will give some calming deep pressure input, and it will also keep the “itchy” clothing off the skin directly.
Messy play may help decrease tactile sensitivities- Such as shaving cream; finger paint; dry rice/bean bins; cooking with your hands, such as kneading or mixing.
If your child has tactile sensitivities which are causing disruptions and challenges to his/her daily functioning or the functioning of your family, consult an occupational therapist. Seek out an occupational therapy evaluation for expert assistance in working to overcoming this challenge.
Not Talking Yet?
If you suspect your child has difficulties with speech, speak up. The key to treating language disorders is early intervention.
Perhaps no other milestone, besides walking, generates as much anticipation as a baby’s first words. “Yet when a child isn’t quite on target, well-meaning family, friends, and even the pediatrician may say things like ‘Don’t worry; she’ll talk when she’s ready’ or ‘Uncle Bob didn’t talk until he was 3,’ and parents are often reassured into doing nothing,” says Marilyn Agin, M.D., one of the authors of a new book, The Late Talker: What to Do if Your Child Isn’t Talking Yet. “But, in most cases, you don’t have to — nor should you — take the wait-and-see approach.”
Typically, a late-talking child will catch up with her peers. But a recent study found that over 7% of 5-year-olds didn’t grow out of the problem before starting school, notes Dr. Agin, who is also a neurodevelopmental pediatrician and medical director of the Early Intervention Program in New York City. For these children, the consequences of waiting can be grave. Undetected disorders have been linked to poor reading and academic performance and also emotional problems. “I’ve seen children as young as 3 who are self-conscious about their speech, which can lead to low self-esteem,” says Dr. Agin. Here, she lists some of the warning signs outlined in more detail in her book. You may want to seek help if:
By 9 months, your infant has yet to babble or she babbles with few or no consonant sounds.
By 12 months, your baby looks at something he wants but does not use gestures, like pointing, to show you what he desires.
By 16 months, you still haven’t heard your child’s first words.
By 24 to 30 months, your child has yet to speak in two-word phrases (like “more cookie”).
By 36 months, your child says only single-syllable words with no final consonants (“ca” for cat, “beh” for bed). She also doesn’t ask questions and has frequent tantrums when not understood.
“You know your child best,” says Dr. Agin. “If, deep down, you suspect there’s something wrong with your child and you’re not satisfied with the response from your pediatrician, make an appointment with a speech pathologist or a neurodevelopmental pediatrician.” If your child is under 3, contact your local county-run early intervention program. In most states, evaluations are free; some offer a sliding scale. (To find one near you, visit the website below or call 800-695-0285.) If it turns out that your child’s delay is developmental and he’ll grow out of it, there’s no harm done and you can put your mind at ease, says Dr. Agin. On the other hand, if there is a problem, he’ll benefit tremendously from getting early therapy.
Holiday Health and Safety Tips
The holidays are a great opportunity to enjoy time with family and friends, celebrate life, to be grateful, and reflect on what’s important. They are also a time to appreciate the gift of health. Here are some holiday tips to support your efforts for health and safety this season.
Wash your hands often.
Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Wash your hands with soap and clean running water, and rub them together for at least 20 seconds. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow, not your hands.
Cover Your Cough
Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives
Cold temperatures can cause serious health problems, especially in infants and older adults. Stay dry, and dress warmly in several layers.
Stay Safe and Healthy in Winter Weather
The holidays don’t need to take a toll on your health and pocketbook. Keep your commitments and spending in check. Balance work, home, and play. Get support from family and friends. Keep a relaxed and positive outlook. Make sure to get proper sleep.
Whether you’re traveling across town or around the world, help ensure your trip is safe. Don’t drink and drive, and don’t let someone else drink and drive. Wear a seat belt every time you drive or ride in a motor vehicle. Always buckle your child in the car using a child safety seat, booster seat, or seat belt appropriate for his/her height, weight, and age.
Avoid smoking and breathing other people’s smoke. If you smoke, quit today! Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or talk to your health care provider for help.
Get check-ups and vaccinations.
Exams and screenings can help find potential problems early, when the chances for treatment and cure are often better. Vaccinations help prevent diseases and save lives. Schedule a visit with your health care provider for needed exams and screenings. Ask what vaccinations and tests you should get based on your age, lifestyle, travel plans, medical history, and family health history.
Regular Check-Ups Are Important
Flu and People with Diabetes
Get Smart: Know When Antibiotics Work
Vaccines and Immunizations
Watch the kids.
Children are at high risk for injuries. Keep a watchful eye on your kids when they’re eating and playing. Keep potentially dangerous toys, food, drinks, household items, choking hazards (like coins and hard candy), and other objects out of kids’ reach. Learn how to provide early treatment for children who are choking. Make sure toys are used properly. Develop rules about acceptable and safe behaviors, including using electronic media.
Home and Recreational Safety
Injuries can happen anywhere, and some often occur around the holidays. Use step stools instead of climbing on furniture when hanging decorations. Leave the fireworks to the professionals. Wear a helmet when riding a bicycle or skateboarding to help prevent head injuries. Keep vaccinations up to date.
Most residential fires occur during the winter months. Keep candles away from children, pets, walkways, trees, and curtains. Never leave fireplaces, stoves, or candles unattended. Don’t use generators, grills, or other gasoline- or charcoal-burning devices inside your home or garage. Install a smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector in your home. Test them once a month, and replace batteries twice a year.
Carbon Monoxide (CO) Poisoning Prevention
General Injury-Related Information
Healthy Pets Healthy People
Fire Deaths and Injuries: Prevention Tips
Traumatic Brain Injury
Handle and prepare food safely.
As you prepare holiday meals, keep yourself and your family safe from food-related illness. Wash hands and surfaces often. Avoid cross-contamination by keeping raw meat, poultry, seafood, and eggs (including their juices) away from ready-to-eat foods and eating surfaces. Cook foods to the proper temperature. Refrigerate promptly. Do not leave perishable foods out for more than two hours.
Be Food Safe
It’s Turkey Time: Safely Prepare Your Holiday Meal
Eat healthy, and be active.
With balance and moderation, you can enjoy the holidays the healthy way. Choose With balance and moderation, you can enjoy the holidays the healthy way. Choose fresh fruit as a festive and sweet substitute for candy. Limit fats, salt, and sugary foods. Find fun ways to stay active, such as dancing to your favorite holiday music. Be active for at least 2½ hours a week. Help kids and teens be active for at least 1 hour a day.
Teaching Your Child About Peers With Special Needs
Disabilities cover a wide range. Some are obvious — such as a child with a physical disability who uses a wheelchair or a child with a visual impairment who uses a cane to navigate when walking. Other disabilities may be more “hidden” — for example, children who have learning disabilities or autism spectrum disorder.
RELATED: Find Special Needs childcare near you.
Chances are that at some point your child will have a classmate with a disability. Just as you guided your very young child when he or she began to befriend others, you can encourage your child to learn about and be a friend to children who have disabilities.
Basic ideas to share with your child
No two people are the same — some differences are just more noticeable.
A disability is only one characteristic of a person. People have many facets: likes and dislikes, strengths and challenges.
Children with disabilities are like all children in that they want friends, respect and to be included.
Children can be born disabled or become disabled from an accident or illness. You can’t “catch” a disability from someone else.
Just because someone has a physical disability (when a part or parts of the body do not work well) does not mean they necessarily have a cognitive (or thinking) disability.
Children with disabilities can do many of the things your child does, but it might take them longer. They may need assistance or adaptive equipment to help them.
Try to use clear, respectful language when talking about someone with disabilities. For a younger child, keep explanations simple, such as, “She uses a wheelchair because a part of her body does not work as well as it could.”
Reinforce with your child that name calling — even if meant as a joke — is always unacceptable as it hurts people’s feelings.
Special needs at school
While each child learns differently and at his or her own pace, children with disabilities may need extra school support or accommodations. Many children with special needs attend public schools; others may go to private or other schools. If your child has a classmate with special needs, he or she may notice certain things.
Special teachers may come into the classroom to work one-on-one with the student.
Sometimes students will leave the room for a part of the day for individualized attention.
Accommodations may be present in the classroom. For example, a teacher may wear a microphone so that a student with a hearing impairment can hear better in school.
Getting to know children with disabilities
Paradoxically, when it comes to approaching someone with a disability, children may be better at it than their parents because they are less inhibited. Some adults — especially those without previous exposure to people with disabilities — may be more timid. Worried about appearing intrusive or insensitive, they may not know what to say or do.
“The other kids are great,” J.’s mom says, “They are very direct, which is good. They like her and want to interact with her.”
However, if your child (or you, for that matter) is unsure about approaching a child with a disability, here are some helpful tips:
Most parents of children with disabilities would prefer that other adults ask them about their child directly, rather than avoiding them. A smile or friendly “Hello!” is an easy icebreaker.
Even if a child doesn’t talk, there are still activities the children can do together, such as play board games or arts and crafts.
If your child wants to have a play date with a child with a disability or invite him or her to a birthday party, encourage it. Call the other parent and say simply, “How can we make this work?”
Share any concerns with the other parent. Parents of children with disabilities will often be happy to facilitate a successful play date or outing.
Extra effort goes a long way. For instance, learning simple signs so that you can better communicate with a child who is deaf (and uses sign language) will be much appreciated.
Learning more about disabilities
Reading or learning about a disability is a great way to further understand a child’s experiences. It may also help dispel any questions you or your child may have.
Your local library and librarian can be a great resource for finding age-appropriate books and materials.
Read picture books with younger children and discuss them afterward.
Chapter books with characters who have special needs are appropriate for older readers. Ask your child about the book when he or she is done — maybe you’ll be intrigued and read it yourself.
Some audio-visual materials have positive portrayals of children with disabilities. “Sesame Street,” for example, routinely includes children with disabilities in their episodes.
Websites with age-appropriate explanations and activities can be interesting and fun to explore.
Disability-awareness programs in schools
Find out if your child’s school offers any disability-awareness curriculum. These types of programs teach children about different disabilities, often through engaging activities and guest speakers. Consider volunteering if they need parent volunteers — it can be a wonderful experience for both you and the students.
5 things parents of biracial kids should know
by Amanda Rodriguez, iVillage
Hundreds of thousands of Americans identify as biracial. I don’t know the exact number or anything (Google it and get back to me), but I know the number of biracial kids is up — a lot.
And three of those are my own children.
Born to my Mexican-American husband and me, an African-American woman, my three sons have a heritage that is part Mexican, part black and totally American. As my husband and I do not have overtly strong cultural ties to our own heritages, our children are living a similar existence. So they don’t speak Spanish and we don’t celebrate Kwanzaa. But, ask me if they know at least two Mariachi songs by heart and can discern the smell of chitterlings a mile away (who can’t really?), and you’ll have a different response.
Not being a mixed-race person myself, I honestly underestimated some of the issues my children would face as racially-mixed children. I continue to learn as I go, but right now, here’s what I think all parents of biracial children should know:
1. Your kids will see color. They will see Mommy’s color, they will see Daddy’s color and they will see their own. In some families where everyone, including the friends and the neighbors, look alike, kids don’t always notice skin color. My boys had to face their difference very early in life and began asking questions about Daddy’s white skin (he’s a fair-skinned Mexican person) being different from their own light brown. Personally, I think they’re lucky because they get to appreciate the beauty of diversity by living with it every day.
2. Other people will see color, too. And, often they will ask about it. It’s not the normal occurrence for a white person or a black person to be approached on the street and asked about their racial composition by a complete stranger. For us, it is. People are curious about our kids’ hair and their skin color and want to know whether they came from my uterus — and no one seems to think twice about how these questions will be received before asking.
3. Your kids may want to choose. Some days The Dudes want to be Mexican like Daddy. Other days they want to be black like Mommy. We’re just trying to teach them them that they really only have to be themselves. We don’t make a big deal out of it at our house — we just have a sit down about why they’re feeling all choosy, talk up their awesomeness and sign off with a fist bump. Everything at our house ends in a fist bump.
4. They need confidence and understanding. Just like every other kid, but more. Our Dudes have faced numerous situations where an unsuspecting person (surprisingly usually an adult, not another kid) says something insensitive to them about Hispanic people, not realizing that their father is Hispanic. They’ve been complimented on their tans. They’ve had another child tell them that they shouldn’t let other people say they’re black because it’s rude. They hear more than a kid whose race is readily-discernible. We’re teaching them to deal with that with self-confidence and an understanding of human nature (which sometimes doubles as straight-up crazy). We tell them that it’s cool to stand up for yourself, but that sometimes kindness and understanding gets you further in life. (You know, that whole flies-like-honey bit.)
5. They want you to remind them that they are different good, not different weird.
Being different is a hard thing for a kid to accept and they won’t even pretend to believe you when you say they are going to be so happy about their uniqueness one day. Keep saying it anyway: They’ll know you love them and will totally fist bump you for it when they’re, like, 30.
Become A Better Brother Or Sister
In a family that consists of a father and mother, and several children, the youngest children will be often be referred to as younger brothers or sisters and the older children as older brothers or sisters. In most homes the oldest sibling has the most responsibility. This child probably has more understanding and has learned more skills than the younger children in the family. For this reason, the oldest child may be given the responsibility of taking care of his or her younger siblings. This very often makes the oldest of the siblings responsible for the actions and behavior of his or her younger brothers or sisters. Because of the responsibility that has been assigned to the oldest child it would be in his or her best interest to be the best sibling he or she can be. An older child should always strive to become a good example for his younger siblings.
Being a good brother or a sister will most likely bring about a close relationship, strengthening the bonds between each of the children. As he or she continues to care for the younger siblings, the parents of the oldest child will begin to recognize these efforts. It will make a good impression on the parents and other members of the family. The actions of a good older sibling will also bring about solid communication and interaction within the family, and everyone in the family will draw closer to each other throughout the years. Becoming a sibling that tries to be available to his younger family members will also give him or her the opportunity to help his or her siblings in times of need.
Perhaps you are an older sibling looking for ways to become a better brother or sister.
Tips for Exploring Science with Children
Explanations Do Not Always Help
Explanations, even simple ones, do not always help children (or adults, for that matter!) understand complex ideas. So what’s a parent to do? The simple answer is to worry less about explaining to your child, and spend more time modeling the fun of science: going on walks, mixing things, testing to see what will happen, observing carefully and wondering along with your child.
Science Is About Trying to Make Sense of the World
Science is not simply about knowing information—it is equally a way of trying to make sense of the world. Scientists must ask questions, design investigations, try to make sense of the information they have gathered during the investigations, and communicate and defend their thinking to others. They don’t always find the answers to their questions, and they don’t always agree.
Help Children Think Like Scientists
It is much more important for parents to help children develop the skills they need to think like scientists than to help them understand complex scientific concepts. Even the youngest children are quite capable of beginning to build these skills.
A Few Pointers
Here are a few pointers to keep in mind as you enjoy science alongside your child:
You don’t need to have answers for all of your child’s questions! Encourage your child to develop his own science thinking skills.
Listen carefully to your child. Engage her in conversation about what she thinks, and encourage her to explain why she thinks as she does by asking questions such as, “Why do you think the snail is eating that leaf?”
Don’t immediately correct your child. If your child says something scientifically incorrect, help her discover for herself what is correct rather than correcting her. For example, if she says “heavy things sink, you can ask her, “Which heavy things have you seen sink?” Or, “I wonder if we can find something heavy that can float?”
Model curiosity. Wonder aloud: “I wonder what will happen to this pudding mix when we put the water in?”
Children develop at different rates. Keep this in mind as you do science activities with your child, including those in this section. The activities suggested for various ages are intended to be followed generally, not strictly. Children develop at different rates, so not all will fit neatly into a specific age category.
Do You Have an Impossible Ex?
Recently, I wrote an article about the Malignant Divorce. These are cases that spin out of control in dark and often dangerous ways. Over the next few months I’ll continue this conversation, because even when a divorce is not particularly toxic, there are still moments in most divorces when you still have to protect yourself. And if you are in the midst of a Malignant Divorce, forewarned is forearmed. This post offers a direct follow up to the first tip that was referenced in the article. In simple words: if you’re trapped in a malignant situation, you must come to terms with the kind of person your ex spouse has become. And if you don’t, you’re in trouble.
The Intelligent Divorce book series promotes a rational approach to dissolving a family even though feelings are charged. We are not looking for perfect behavior here. Parents under the stress of money worries, legal concerns, stories of betrayal, and uncertainty about the future are going to make mistakes—even big mistakes. But there is so much at stake for their children, that it is worth stepping back and trying to divorce in as intelligent a way as possible. I am not arguing for the easy divorce, just a more intelligent one.
For the record (and, if it’s not obvious), intelligent does not mean stupid. There are cases in which the intelligent thing to do is to hang tough, not be particularly friendly and set good limits. There are cases in which the intelligent thing to do is to recognize that you are dealing with a spouse who is out to hurt you or your children. And, there are cases when all your communication must be done through attorneys because a moment on the phone or in person is just too loaded. A Malignant Divorce is instigated when one party simply wants to win at all costs. In these cases, intelligence is using all of your wits just to survive.
Here is the first point (of seven) that I made in the original overview of The Malignant Divorce.
You are dealing with an ex-spouse who just wants to win. If you are the healthier spouse, then you are trapped in a surreal life, largely not of your own making. It may not be fair, but it’s time that you deal with it. Laying back and hoping it will all go away is probably a poor strategy.
When getting a divorce you must be aware of whom you are dealing with. This may not be as easy as it appears; after all you were living with him for a number of years and may perceive his behavior as normal—or at least tolerable, when it is anything but.
More fundamentally, your ex-husband or ex-wife may not be quite the same person he or she was during the marriage. It is called regression, and it is not a good thing.
The stress of divorce, which includes the instinct of self preservation, can make your ex (or you, for that matter) function at a more primitive and therefore, less healthy manner. The Intelligent Divorce; Taking Care of Yourself outlines ten common Character Traps that people fall into when regressed. For those professionals reading this piece, I use the concept of a Character Trap, instead of the more diagnostic term, Personality Disorder, because these primitive, and sometimes, dangerous regressions are often time limited to the years surrounding the divorce. Unlike Personality Disorders which have a strong degree of permanence, Character Traps describes a phenomena of stress induced dysfunction that is often less obvious beforehand or years later.
Character Traps are a construct that can provide something to hang your hat on, because they make sense. People who have dropped into a Character Trap are potentially dangerous because they (like Personality Disorders) are not vulnerable, as a rule, to ambivalence. This can be disastrous to the healthier spouse in a divorce. If an unambivalent person is in a conflict with a person who is more open minded, it can be very bad for the healthier person.
If you are the healthier spouse, then you are trapped in a surreal life, largely not of your own making.
You will give him the benefit of the doubt (which in normal cases builds trust) and he exploits it. She says something bad about you to the kids, and you let it pass (which in normal cases may just be an isolated incident) and she sees herself as vindicated by your silence. That is why it is so important to wake up and realize with whom you may be dealing. Regressed people often “know” that they are right, and therefore have a powerful moral authority to do as they please. This is a dangerous recipe for abuse that can range from financial manipulation, to parental alienation (from mild to severe), to kidnapping or even, rarely—murder.
Today, we’ll go over the Character Traps (your ex can have more than one) that can set off a Malignant Divorce:
The Victim: This Character Trap is dominated by the certainty and injustice of being wronged. She believes that she lost precious years with you or that you are unfit to have anything to do with the children, because of what you’ve done (This Character Trap only applies when it is a distortion of the truth—note that it can be adaptive if an ex-spouse is truly dangerous). Victims are paradoxically ruthless in victimizing anyone who they believe hurt them. They have a powerful sense of justice and self righteousness. They also work from a kernel of truth, which makes their claims that much more powerful; this can be conscious and manipulative or more deeply unconscious and even, psychotic. I have seen terrible things done in the name of victimhood. If you are dealing with any Character Trap therapy is a must, so you have a chance to objectively decide how to stay safe and have a shot at having a relationship with your children. Many perpetrators of parent alienation have these features. Victims, paradoxically, can have a lot of power. They are often supported by family, attorneys, and even therapists, who fail to see that there is another side to the story.
Seven Ways to Foster Gratitude in Kids
Many parents and educators worry that today’s children are ungrateful. But new research suggests ways to turn the tide.
1. Model and teach gratitude
Our children want to be like us. We provide the blueprint for what to say and what to do and in what contexts. Expressing gratitude through words, writing, and small gifts or acts of reciprocity are all ways to teach children how to become grateful. Doing this will help make your appreciation for the goodness in your life more public, showing your kids that blessings abound and that being thankful is a valued attitude. Adults can promote gratitude directly in children by helping them appraise the benefits they receive from others—the personal value of those benefits, the altruistic intention of people providing them, and the cost to those people. This helps kids think gratefully.
2. Spend time with your kids and be mindful when with them
Another way to spell love is T-I-M-E. Believe it or not, children and, yes, even adolescents, like being with their parents. Giving a child a lot of quality time with you teaches them the language of love—life’s greatest gift. Savor every moment together, big and small, and rid yourself of distractions at such times, including your smartphone. Being mindful helps you maintain empathy toward a child, and this provides important modeling of empathy, the most important emotion for developing gratitude and moral behavior. It will also give you and your child a heightened sense of appreciation for the things both of you love and for your relationship.
3. Support your child’s autonomy
Using an authoritative or democratic parenting style, which is firm, yet flexible, sup- ports children’s autonomy. This will enhance family relationships, improve the atmosphere at home, and help bring out their strengths and talents, all good for making grateful kids. By taking ownership over their skills and talents and being responsible for developing them, children gain things to appreciate in life and make it easier to attract support from others, thus inviting gratitude into their daily life. Also, limiting children’s media consumption and guiding them to use media in prosocial ways protects them from commercial influences that discourage the development of the authenticity, self-development, and social interaction necessary to grow into positive, purposeful, grateful individuals.
4. Use kids’ strengths to fuel gratitude
After you’ve identified your children’s top strengths and you know their unique strengths profile, you should encourage and help them to use those strengths whenever possible. Not only does this open up opportunities for others to contribute to the things your children love, but it also enables your children to strengthen their ability to be helpful and cooperative toward others, which will make them more grateful. To directly promote gratitude, encourage and help your children to use their strengths to thank and be kind to others.
5. Help focus and support kids to achieve intrinsic goals
It’s very easy for people, especially youth, to pursue extrinsic—or materialistic—goals such as desiring or having possessions that show wealth, status, or convey a certain image. This usually leads to less fulfilling social relationships and forecloses prospects for developing deep connections with others and genuine gratitude. It’s our job to steer them away from pursuing extrinsic goals and toward pursuing intrinsic goals, such as engaging in activities that provide community, affiliation, and growth. Not only will successfully achieving these goals fulfill children’s fundamental human needs of competency, belongingness, and autonomy, but their personal development, happiness, success, and gratitude depend on it. To amplify their gratitude even more, remember to savor their accomplishments with them along the way, and encourage them to thank those who’ve helped them meet their goals.
6. Encourage helping others and nurturing relationships
Helping others and being generous are two key ingredients for making grateful kids. When children lend a hand, especially while using their strengths, they feel more connected to those they’re helping, which helps them to develop and nurture friendships and social relationships. A great way to do this is by teaching them through your actions that other people matter and that tending to relationships should be a priority. To help children strengthen their relationships, you should encourage them to be thoughtful of others, to thank others regularly, and to be cooperative, helpful, and giving.
7. Help kids find what matters to them
More on Gratitude
Explore what gets in the way of gratitude.
Having a sense of purpose in life gives youth a compass for creating a meaningful life. As adults, it’s our job to help kids discover their passions and to find a path to purpose that resonates with them— with their values, interests, and dreams. This starts with feeding their interests in the social issues they care about and pushing them to learn as much as they can about those issues and discover ways they can make a difference. The deepest sense of gratitude in life comes from connecting to a bigger picture, to an issue that matters to others and doing things that contribute to society down the road.
Trying to make grateful kids isn’t just an issue for families; it’s an issue for society as well. Society desperately needs to harness the power of gratitude. As our world becomes more culturally diverse and digitally connected, and as complex societal problems mount, gratitude may help catalyze the motivation and skills youth need to succeed not just academically but in the “life test” too. We must all do our part to help kids develop into moral adults, who will contribute to a world of compassion and care. But, while there’s no quick fix for cultivating gratitude in young people, the more we remain committed to it, the more rewards we’ll reap. Indeed, by bringing out the best in our kids, we can only imagine what blessings Generation Grateful could bring. Anything worthwhile takes a lot of time and effort. It’s up to all of us to make it happen.
The Importance of Parental Involvement in Your Child’s Education
WHY GET INVOLVED?
Parental involvement is known to be linked with improved behavior, regular attendance and positive attitudes. In addition, being involved shows your child you care about his or her education and schooling. That in itself can make children appreciate the importance of education and help them to understand that what they are doing has a purpose.
Parental involvement provides a support network for children, which is particularly important when they face academic hurdles or other challenges with friendships or extra-curricular activities. It also means you know where your child’s education journey is going and are able to be part of the highs and lows along the way.
As a result, children whose parents stay involved are more likely to have higher self-esteem, be disciplined, have more self-motivation and tend to achieve better grades, regardless of their ethnic, social or racial backgrounds.
BENEFITS FOR YOU
As well as boosting motivation and providing discipline for children, getting involved has numerous benefits for the parent. By walking alongside their son or daughter’s education journey, parents are more likely to be sensitive to their child’s emotional and social needs.
Parental involvement creates ties and strengthens bonds with children and can boost your confidence in parenting and any decision-making when it comes to your child’s education.
It also leads to the building of stronger relationships within the school, leading to clearer communication between teachers, parents and children. This can give you more confidence in the school’s approach to education and learning. Schools that have high levels of engagement with parents tend to experience better community support and positive reputations. Also, when children see a unified approach to their education between their parents and the school, they are more likely to understand the importance of their studies.
BENEFITS FOR YOUR CHILD
Research indicates that two thirds of teachers believe parental involvement in education results in better performance in school. As mentioned earlier, children tend to achieve better grades and tend to be more motivated when parents are involved. There are a couple of reasons for that.
Some research suggests parental involvement helps give children attention and praise which, in turn, helps them recognize their education is worthy of adult interest. As children tend to model adult behaviors, when parents are actively involved with their schooling, children will learn the importance of education and try to emulate those behaviors from their parents. It also helps children understand that their schooling isn’t just about them. It’s a collaborative approach between pupils, teachers and their parents. This team approach can further motivate them to work hard and produce positive results. Children who have help from their parents are also more likely to feel competent, and school attendance becomes more important to them.
Being involved also boosts the mental health of children. It encourages communication between children and parents, which can foster higher self-esteem and confidence. It can also help children interact better with their peers and advance their social skills.
Since parental involvement has many benefits for you, the teachers and of course your child, help him or her succeed by thinking about what you can do to get involved.
How To Help Your Children Live Happily In Two Homes
By Terry Gaspard, MSW, LICSW
The presumption in divorce in recent years is shared parenting. While a close to 50/50 split has been shown to be beneficial to children’s well-being, some children experience stress transitioning from home to home — especially if they witness conflict between their parents. It’s important for your kids to see you getting along with your ex without letting your emotions get in the way.
Recently, I read an excellent article on Huffington Post Divorce by Jackie Pilossoph entitled “Divorce Advice: Don’t Be Hurt When Your Kids Choose Dad” which caused me to reflect on my own experience co-parenting for almost a decade.
After my divorce, my two children (now grown) spend close to equal time with both myself and their father. During a nine year period, they experienced many transitions including a new stepfather, stepmother, and the birth of their sister, who is now fifteen. My experience with shared parenting was positive because I observed my children maintain a close bond with both me and my ex and grow into successful adults. My research shows that adults raised in divorced families report higher self-esteem and fewer trust issues if they had close to equal time with both parents.
The following are suggestions based on my own experience, research, and advice from experts. First of all, it’s paramount that you gear your parenting plan to the age of your children and that you are consistent with it. At the end of this article I offer guidelines for parents with both younger and older children. Try your best to develop routines for them leaving and coming home when they are young.
When they get older, you may not need these routines to be set in stone. Opening up lines of communication with your children about their parenting plan is beneficial because they’ll know what is expected of them and it can ensure smooth transitions.
It’s important to consider that your children may not have the wisdom, insight, and clarity to make decisions about spending time with both of their parents on their own and can benefit from your guidance. Researcher Robert E. Emery writes, “According to leading experts in developmental and clinical psychology, there really are only two critical aspects of parent-child relationships: love and parental authority.” Your role as a parent is to help your children adjust to divorce and setting boundaries, routines, and limits is an important aspect of parenting.
Let’s face it, communication with your ex is key to successful co-parenting. It’s a good idea to sit down with your ex and come up with a few strategies to encourage your children to cooperate with their “parenting time” schedule. For instance, you may decide to make different arrangements for drop off and pick up. Most importantly, it’s key that your children see that you and your former spouse are working together for their well-being.
Next, you may need to examine the “parenting time” schedule to make sure that it’s working for your children. For example, the younger child will adjust better if they are not transitioning between houses too frequently and adolescents usually want more control over their schedule due to school, activities, and time with friends. They may develop resentment toward you if they can’t make some decisions about their schedule.
Many children of divorce I’ve interviewed describe the pressure of loyalty conflicts. Lauren, a lively thirteen year old speaks candidly about her struggle to cope with divided loyalties since age nine. She recalls: “It was really hard to interact with both of my parents after their divorce. When they were saying nasty things about each other, I just never wanted to take sides.”
Loyalty conflicts can make some kids feel as if they don’t want to spend time with both parents. Lauren continues, “I felt like I had to keep my mom’s new boyfriend a secret because my dad didn’t have a girlfriend for awhile. When my dad asked me if my mom had a boyfriend I didn’t know how to deal with it so I said I wasn’t sure.” Lauren’s story reminds us that children should never be used as a messenger between their parents post-divorce. Let them enjoy their childhood and think about how you want them to remember you when they grow up.
Even though children don’t cause their parents’ divorce, they often feel responsible for their parents’ happiness. In some cases, they might side with one parent against the other parent, which can cause alienation or even estrangement. It’s important for your kids to see you getting along with your ex without letting your emotions get in the way. In What About the Kids? Judith Wallerstein cautions us that a serious problem exists when a child and a parent of either sex joins forces in an outright alignment against the other parent. Do your best to have a cordial, business-like relationship with your ex so that your children won’t feel intense divided loyalties.
Here are ways to help your child to be successful at living in two homes:
For the child under age 10:
• Reassure your children that they have two parents who love them. If they balk at going to their other parent’s home, you can say something like “Even though mom and dad aren’t married anymore we both still love you and are good parents.”
• Remind kids a few days ahead when they will be spending time with their other parent. This helps them anticipate the change and gives them an opportunity to adapt. Planning ahead and helping them pack important possessions can benefit them. However, keep items to a bare minimum. Most parents prefer to have duplicate items for their kids on hand.
• Do your best to encourage your younger child to adhere to their parenting time schedule — being consistent with their schedule will help your kids feel secure.
• Attempt to show enthusiasm about their visit with their other parent. It’s important to put your differences with your ex aside and to promote your children’s positive bond with them.
For children over age 10:
• Allow for flexibility in their schedule. At times, teens may have difficulty juggling their busy life with school, extracurricular activities, friends, and jobs if they start working.
• Avoid giving them the impression that being with their friends is not as important as spending time with you.
• Plan activities with them that might include their friends at times — such as sporting events or movies.
• Respect your teens need for autonomy and relatedness. Dr. Emery writes, “Teenagers naturally want more freedom, but they also want and need relationships with their parents, through your adolescent may be unwilling to admit this.”
Finally, recognize that your ex is your children’s parent and deserves respect for that reason alone. Modeling cooperation and polite behavior sets a positive tone for co-parenting. When children are confident of the love of both of their parents, they will adjust more easily to divorce. Keeping your differences with your ex away from your children will open up opportunities to move beyond divorce in the years to come.
For many Americans, the warmer weather of summer means more time spent outside: More gardening and yard work, more hikes in the woods, more backyard barbecues. But for this year in particular, some experts predict warmer weather will lead to more ticks.
That potential boom in ticks could lead to another boom—in Lyme disease, a bacterial illness transmitted specifically by deer ticks. When ticks attach for at least 36 hours—what studies have shown is typically the lower bound needed to transmit Lyme-causing bacteria—many patients develop a bullseye-like rash at the site of the bite within seven to 10 days. If they’re not treated quickly, within weeks patients can develop symptoms such as headaches, heart arrhythmias, rashes and facial paralysis. Within months, Lyme can lead to arthritis, most commonly of the knee.
The standard treatment for Lyme disease is a course of antibiotics, such as oral doxycycline if the patient is older than 8 years old or amoxicillin if the child is younger than 8—typically two weeks for early symptoms and longer for late symptoms. While the data showing when symptoms clear has been well established for adults, says Mattia Chason, M.D., a third-year resident at Children’s National Health System, little was known about how quickly symptoms typically resolve in children. That paucity of data can leave physicians and their families unsure about whether a child might need a repeat dose of antibiotics—or a different kind—or whether lingering symptoms might have a different cause.
To answer this question, he and colleagues—including Dr. Chason’s mentor, Roberta L. DeBiasi, M.D., M.S., chief of Children’s Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases—looked at data in the electronic medical records of 79 children who were admitted to Children’s main hospital with a laboratory-confirmed diagnosis of Lyme disease from June 2008 to May 2015. The research team was particularly interested in children who had a headache—a strong marker of the early disseminated form of the disease—or pain and swelling of the knee, a strong marker of the late form of the disease.
They found that after children with the early form of Lyme disease started treatment, their Lyme-associated headaches resolved rapidly—most within one to three days¬—no matter how long headaches were present before they came to the hospital for treatment.
Teaching Kids to be Global Citizens
By Caralee Adams
Five schools that are breaking the borders.
When seventh graders at the Washington International School learn about water pollution, they study the nearby Potomac River. Then they link by video teleconferencing to students in Bangkok, Thailand, who are studying the Chao Phraya River. “Just seeing the kids live on the screen is very exciting for them,” says Kusam Wagle, a seventh-grade science teacher at the Washington, D.C., school.
The American and Thai students compare their findings, discovering common environmental concerns with their classmates halfway around the world.
“The fact that they discussed this will remain in their minds,” says Wagle. “When they are older, they will remember it more than something out of a textbook. We hope it is something that will spark their vision for our planet.”
Many schools are looking for new ways to give students an international perspective as early as possible. Teachers are adding lessons on global cultures and developing whole schools dedicated to foreign-language immersion.
“The world is deeply connected. Our future lies in the success of international trade,” says Vivien Stewart, vice president for education for the Asia Society. “There is a general sense that in a global economy students cannot afford to grow up ignorant of other countries.”
Pressure to add global curricula is coming from parents who want their children to learn a second language. The increasing racial and cultural diversity of our communities—from small towns to big cities—further fuels the trend, notes Stewart.
So what are the cornerstones of a solid international education program? Instructor looked closely at five schools recognized by the Prizes for Excellence in International Education sponsored by the Asia Society and the Goldman Sachs Foundation. These schools offer students a wide range of programs that provide students with a comprehensive global curricula.
Teachers interested in starting an international education program can learn from these excellent models. Many of the prizewinning programs started with just one leader, or a couple of teachers with an idea, says Stewart.
It’s Not a Small World After All
Integrating an international perspective into a school’s curriculum means going beyond food, festivals, and fun, says Stewart. The five schools we recognized provide a menu of in-depth options.
Most of the students at Sunset Elementary in Miami, Florida, are enrolled in an international magnet program. They learn Spanish, French, or German within the context of a global education. Each grading period focuses on one of four essential aspects of global citizenship: exploring civic responsibilities, gaining cultural awareness, learning about the environment, and understanding the global economy. Lessons revolving around these issues are posted throughout the school and talked about in morning announcements, says Tere Pujol-Burns, a lead teacher at Sunset.
At John Stanford International School (JSIS) for grades K–5 in Seattle, teachers integrate global curricula into conventional units, says Karen Kodama, the founding principal of the school, who is now the international education administrator for Seattle public schools. In language arts, kids read literature from around the world. In science, they study global weather patterns and erosion issues in other countries. In math, teachers explain the Japanese way of learning multiplication tables and the Kenyan way of counting numbers.
Each week at Walter Payton College Preparatory High School in Chicago, students choose two 80-minute world-learning seminars from about 60 choices. Sam Dyson, a physics teacher, offers a seminar in Zulu language and culture. “Students really enjoy learning the language because it is so different” with its unique clicking sounds, he says. With a new language comes new concepts. The word ubuntu, for example, is a Zulu idea that each person achieves humanity by connecting to other humans. To deprive others is to deprive ourselves. It’s a “uniquely powerful” ideal, says Dyson.
Students at Walter Payton also choose a second language: Chinese, Japanese, Latin, Spanish, or French. For the next school year, Arabic may be added. A sister school and an exchange program for every language help students deepen their learning.
English Only Is Not OK
While the U.S. trails other industrialized countries in second-language teaching, immersion language programs are gaining popularity. These prize schools focus on early language acquisition. Starting in kindergarten, students in Seattle’s JSIS are immersed in Japanese or Spanish for half of the day. Math, science, culture, and literacy are taught in the second language, with other subjects taught in English in the second portion of the day.
The earlier students start a foreign language, the easier they are to teach. Young children aren’t as self-conscious when they start learning a second language, says Hiromi Pingry, a second- and third-grade teacher at John Stanford. “They don’t think it’s hard or easy—they just start,” she says. It is demanding to learn a foreign language, especially when students are studying vocabulary in a second language that they don’t even know in English. Yet, young students do it and don’t resist as much as older students.
Seeing Other Cultures Firsthand
Technology and travel allow students to form bonds with non-Americans, too. At Oregon’s Eugene International High School, a teacher-run public school that serves 1,300 students on three campuses, students in Caleb Kostechka’s ninth- and 10th-grade literature classes have pen pals from around the world. The pals communicate using a video camera and Skype software. When Kostechka held his initial video conference with South African students, he says, “At first kids can feel awkward. But once they start asking questions about being a teenager, all the walls go down.”
In 2006, Dyson led a group of Walter Payton students on a two-week trip to South Africa to meet their pen pals. It wasn’t a typical tourist trip—they stayed with families in the township. For the Chicago students who had never been on a plane, the experience was life-changing. “Broadening a student’s world helps shrink it as well,” says Dyson. The isolation that teens may feel “can be broken by an encounter with other students who are more like them than different,” he says.
The Walter Payton students also raised money to bring the students from South Africa to Chicago, completing the exchange. The South Africans stayed in the students’ homes. “I hope the students will take from this experience some deeper sense of the value of other and the idea of ubuntu—that they would leave their comfort zone for the needs of others,” says Dyson.
Student exchange programs solidify students’ understanding of both foreign languages and cultures. Eugene IHS students may study in Germany, Holland, or India. One year, Eugene students held a silent auction to raise money for their sister school in Bangalore, India, says lead teacher Courtney Leonard.
“I think my students get how everything is interconnected,” says Kostechka. “They appreciate Eugene and our community as an amazing place, but they don’t have their lens focused on this community alone. They see the global connection to everything.”
At Walter Payton, school trips to Paris and Morocco allow kids to use their four years of language study in a real-life setting. Abby Imrem, a French and Spanish teacher, says these trips inspire deeper learning. “They come back to a classroom even more energized to learn,” she says. And by traveling together, students bond and form a deeper connection with their teachers and school.
Experts Are Closer Than You Think
Schools with strong international education programs know how to tap into the expertise of their community. Businesses, universities, nonprofits and other organizations, and even parents have a wealth of resources they are often willing to share with students.
Walter Payton’s principal, Ellen Estrada, gets regular e-mails from an Illinois visitors’ center alerting her when a visitor from abroad is available to speak at her school. Previous speakers have included a journalist from China talking about press freedom, a lawyer from Russia explaining property rights, and activists from the Middle East discussing women-owned businesses.
The Seattle business community has been very supportive of JSIS. Each year, the school’s international business breakfast attracts big names, and last year it raised about $100,000. The school’s international business advisory board meets quarterly, helps promote JSIS, and spearheads its fund-raising.
Teachers Need Global Ed, Too
Most teachers lack training in global education. They need to play catch-up, says Stewart of the Asia Society. These prizewinning schools provide teachers with professional development at local universities and travel opportunities to provide them with this training.
Walter Payton opened the Confucius Institute, a center for learning about Chinese language and culture, in 2006. Teachers from all over the city can apply for training and access the institute’s resources, which include 10,000 texts for use in the classroom and Chinese-language software.
“I am constantly learning,” says Kostechka of Eugene IHS. When he starts a new unit or picks a book for his class, he researches the corresponding culture and art. At the end of the unit, Kosetechka allows students to write a paper or express what they learned through art.
Professional development at JSIS goes beyond obtaining new knowledge. Teachers are encouraged to share what they learn and coach others, says Kodama. For instance, when teachers learned a new guided language-acquisition design, they broke a subsequent staff meeting into small groups and discussed how the strategy applied to the different subjects.
These exemplary schools showcase great international education programs. But more still needs to be done to bring Americans into the global community, says Charles Kolb, president of the Committee for Economic Development, a nonprofit organization of business and education leaders in Washington, D.C. “International education is a question of both economic and national security. We don’t have the same orientation to other countries and cultures that you find in Europe. We are isolated and insular,” says Kolb. “And we have to go the extra mile to address that.”
But if your school does not have an international program, you can still go global. All it takes is an innovative teacher and a few good ideas. You can make a big impact just by adding one unit. If you start small—maybe by launching a pen pal program—and enlist the support of parents, you can build upon your success.
How to Help Kids Learn Responsible Pet Ownership
Becoming a responsible pet owner is something kids can learn early on. Helping your children learn how to care for pets responsibly and lovingly is easy enough to do, and more important than you might realize. Responsible pet care can also teach a number of life lessons to kids that will lead to them becoming responsible adults in many aspects of their lives. Here are a few tips on helping your kids learn these valuable lessons.
Feeding and Watering Chores
Children can take an active role in pet ownership by becoming part of a pet’s daily care. Adding the feeding and watering of a pet to a child’s daily chore list helps them develop a routine while taking part in the pet’s care.
At my house, the kids are not allowed to put off the feeding and watering of the pets until they feel like it, or find time. When they get up in the morning, feeding the cats is the first thing they are expected to do and of course, our kitties remind them of this. The two oldest children rotate this task: one feeds the indoor cats and the other feeds the outdoor cats. The next day, the roles switch.
Exercise and Playtime
Setting aside regular time to exercise and play with pets isn’t difficult and actually, it’s fun. Most kids will love this part and making it fun can help them to see that pets should not be ignored – they should be part of the family. Just like children enjoy running and playing and having a good time, so do the pets.
When you take the dog for a walk, let the kids go along. This can be an opportunity to teach the kids proper dog walking techniques and help them establish a pattern that they will follow when they are older and have pets of their own.
Allow Kids to Be Part of Simple Decisions
Part of learning responsible pet ownership is taking ownership. Kids can do this by taking ownership of some of the simple decisions regarding the pet. Examples of simple decisions could be: the pet’s name, pet toys, accessories (leash, collar, dog house, cat condo, food dishes) or pet food.
Allow children to help by doing research on pet care online. Let them check out books at the library about pets so they can read for themselves about proper care. Give the kids tasks that allow them to take an active role and ownership in the pet. The more they feel part of and valued in the decision-making, the more they will want to participate.
Taking the kids to routine veterinary appointments is also a great way to allow them to be part of decisions. When our cat has been sick, the kids will help remind me when it’s time to give her medicine.
Cleaning and Maintenance
This is not a favorite part of pet care, but it is necessary. Learning about proper cleaning and maintenance for pets is a must. Whether it is scooping and changing the litter boxes or scooping the doggy doo, kids can take part.
In my home, my children are expected to clean up any messes their cats make. If the cat pukes up a hairball or knocks a glass over, the kids are expected to help clean up after them. Not only do they learn that Mom isn’t the only one capable of cleaning up the messes, but they learn that Boo is their cat and therefore it is their responsibility to clean up after him. This is a good lesson to learn for life in general, not just for dealing with pets.
Teach your kids early on that being a pet owner requires responsibility in addition to love. They can begin learning these lessons at a young age and continue throughout their lifetime. Caring for a pet can help prepare them for their future as a responsible adult and they – along with your pets – will thank you for it.
Boys: Raising Them To Be Competent, Hard-Working, Masculine
Raising masculine boys today is a challenge especially when they are bombarded with wrong messages of what it is to be a man. It seems our culture is slipping away from valuing manly men – traditionally masculine men and fathers (gentlemen) – who lead their home, personal lives, and family well.
And a caveat: I am not talking about the wide range of God-given physical features or strength here. A man doesn’t need to be ruggedly built or look a certain way to be a wise, capable leader. And if there is a disability, the work becomes that of developing the mind and the inner spirit of the man. Hard work doesn’t always have to be physical.
Recently, there was a J. Crew ad with the company’s president and creative director Jenna Lyons painting the toenails of her son Beckett. She had painted his toenails pink and stated, “Lucky for me I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink. Toenail painting is way more fun in neon.”
“This is a dramatic example of the way that our culture is being encouraged to abandon all trappings of gender identity,” psychiatrist Dr. Keith Ablow wrote in a Health column about the ad. Media Research Center’s Erin Brown agreed, calling the ad “blatant propaganda celebrating trans-gendered children.”
“Not only is Beckett likely to change his favorite color as early as tomorrow, Jenna’s indulgence (or encouragement) could make life hard for the boy in the future,” Brown wrote in an opinion piece Friday.” J.CREW, known for its tasteful and modest clothing, apparently does not mind exploiting Beckett behind the façade
of liberal, trans-gendered identity politics.”
However, to some people (like the writer of this article), “it seems innocent — and even cute: a photo of a mom and her young son laughing adorably as she paints his toenails hot pink.” Mainstream media declared “So what? It’s just painting his nails.”
I don’t believe it. Let’s not confuse our sons with mixed messages especially with something as important as gender identity. Unfortunately, they are getting these messages in the public school system.
Although our two sons are now men and no longer little boys, I want to raise an alert. The world is feminizing our little boys and teaching little girls to be more masculine. Our culture is blurring the lines between genders and showering scorn on those that hold to the way God designed us to be man and woman. Clothing design, mainstream media, campus housing, marriage, and sports are only a few areas in which we see this happening.
Raising our boys is a special job, and we must take it seriously.
I’m so thankful that God has blessed us with two sons to mold and teach to become young men. It was obvious that they wanted to be like their Daddy long before they could be encouraged in any one direction by others.
Little boys naturally want to be just like their dad. I would often ask one of them, “Can you please help me carry these grocery bags. I need somebody big and strong to help me.” They would come running to help me, showing me their muscles and telling me how strong they were. Both would say, “I’m big and strong like Daddy.” They wanted to be manly men, just like their father. They saw their dad opening the door for me and so they did, too.
They would be climbing trees or way up into the barn rafters (I do not recommend this!) or trying to fix or figure out something mechanical or making their sticks into weapons with out the help of a TV to give them ideas. We decided early to ditch the TV so we would have time to really ‘do life’.
A boy needs to know how to get dirty and then clean up! I wish I could find the picture of them shoveling manure at my husband’s family’s dairy barn. Also, they need to learn to value a good book or grilling steaks as much as a romp in the woods or wrestling each other.
Boys To Men
Boys need to be able to take some risks, to be allowed to get hurt so they know how to deal with pain and stress. They need to know how to work hard and think critically under the guidance of a manly teacher. They need to be exhorted to holiness in their thought-life, and they need to play hard, too. Boys need to be equipped to be fathers of boys someday!
“The mind of a child is naturally active, it develops through exercise. Give a child plenty of exercise, for body and brain. The trouble with our way of educating is that it does not give elasticity to the mind. It casts the brain into a mold. It insists that the child must accept. It does not encourage original thought or reasoning, and it lays more stress on memory than observation.” ~ Thomas A. Edison
15 Tips to Help Prevent Allergy Symptoms in Kids
Before you start any treatment, visit a doctor to be sure allergies are causing your child’s troubles. Once you know he really has seasonal allergies, these quick tips can offer much-needed relief.
How to Soothe Your Child’s Allergies
Stay Inside. The best way to treat allergy symptoms is to avoid allergens to begin with. So when pollen counts soar, keep kids indoors as much as possible. Pollen is usually at its peak mid-morning, early evening, and when the wind is blowing.
Use Saltwater. Having a plugged-up nose can be one of the toughest symptoms for children with allergies. For relief, older children might want to try nasal irrigation with a saline solution. You can buy saline at the drugstore or make your own by mixing in a squirt bottle 8 ounces of boiled water to 1 teaspoon non-iodized salt.
Stay Hydrated. All that sneezing and blowing can leave a child parched. Keep a water bottle full and close to hand and encourage your children to keep sipping.
Warm It Up. Steam from a warm shower or bath seems to offer allergy symptom relief for some so encourage kids to enjoy a little tub time. Just be careful to make sure the shower is not too hot.
Keep It Cool. To keep pollen out when the weather’s hot, air condition your car and home and keep windows closed.
Deal With Dry Air. A little moisture in the air makes breathing easier for most, so if the air in your house is dry, get a humidifier. But be careful: Humidity over 40% can encourage the growth of indoor allergens like mold and dust mites.
Go Cold. When itchy eyes are driving your kid crazy, try a cold compress, which may help reduce the itch and soreness.
Keep Your Hands to Yourself. Help kids to avoid rubbing their itchy eyes. Rubbing will only irritate them — and could make the itchiness even worse.
Spice It Up. If your kids will eat spicy foods, a dish made with cayenne pepper, hot ginger, fenugreek, onions, or garlic may help thin mucus and clear nasal passages.
Use Top Tissues. When kids’ allergies are at their peak, tender noses can get sore pretty fast. Look for tissues with lotion or aloe.
Rub Jelly on It. And if your child’s nose is raw and red from blowing, you can soothe his sniffer with a dab of petroleum jelly.
Gargle to Relieve Sore Throats. If drainage leaves your child with a sore throat, gargling with warm saltwater made of 1-2 tablespoons of table salt in 8 ounces of water may ease the pain.
Drink Warm Tea. Drinking more fluids can also help soothe tender throats. Try a weak tea with honey and lemon. Bonus: The steam may relieve sinus congestion, too.
Get Face Time. Warm compresses applied to the face may also help soothe a child’s sinus pressure and pain.
Watch Out for Certain Foods. If your child is allergic to ragweed, he may also have an allergic sensitivity to some foods that may include bananas, melons, chamomile tea, sunflower seeds, and cucumbers.
Reaching a New Generation of Readers
Last Friday I posted a fun song about Millennials. Earlier this year a number of articles told of a Pew Research report that declared there are more Millennials in America than Baby Boomers. There are now over 75 million people ages 18-34. Boomers (ages 51-69) are no longer the largest demographic. (And there are more 22-years-olds today than any other age group.)
This was inevitable, of course, but something that has startled many that it happened so soon. Especially when the report claims that the number of Millennials in America will continue to grow via immigration.
So what’s the big deal?
For years I have taught writers to be aware of population trends. I kept saying “In ten years, that 15-year-old playing video games on his phone will be an adult and a potential reader of your book. And you will only be 10 years older.”
Consider this. Those who read Janette Oke when they were younger, now have children who are that age…who have never heard of Janette Oke.
Let me say it another way. The 30 -year-old lover of fiction was nine-years-old when Left Behind was first published….(1995). They did not necessarily grow up with Left Behind as a “bestseller” in their world. For them the major book was Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone first published in the U.S. in June 1997. When they were 11.
That is why the marketplace never tires of trying to find new writing talent because there are always new generations of readers.
The Mindset List
Beloit College creates a “Mindset List” describing the mindset of the year’s incoming Freshman to help professors know the framework with which these students operate culturally. I’ve taken the liberty of compiling a list with a different subject in mind. Mine is today’s 30-year-old reader.
For someone born in 1986 or later:
Superman has never had a phone booth in which he can change.
There have always been gay characters on television.
They never heard Muhammed Ali speak at a live event.
There has always been a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Castro has always been an aging politician in a suit.
Datsuns have never been made.
Iraq has always been a problem.
Bert and Ernie are old enough to be their parents.
They never heard Howard Cosell call a game on ABC.
Trivial Pursuit may have been played by their parents the night before they were born.
They have never been able to find the “return” key.
There has always been Diet Coke.
The three-point shot has always been a part of basketball.
“The Simpson’s” TV show debuted when they were four-years-old.
The Statue of Liberty has always had a gleaming torch.
Peeps are not a candy, they are your friends.
South Africa’s official policy of apartheid has not existed during their lifetime.
This generation has never wanted to “be a Pepper too.”
Hip-hop and rap have always been popular musical forms.
They were in early high school when 9/11 happened.
[some items on this list is from the Beloit College web site]
You get the idea? So how does this affect you as a writer?
Never Assume Cultural Knowledge
As the above list illustrates, if your book makes a comment about the Fall of Saigon… or President Ronald Reagen’s “Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall” speech you must be aware that many readers may not know what you are talking about!
Never Assume Biblical Literacy
We also have a generation where many have not grown up in a church-going environment. Therefore you cannot take for granted that your reader is familiiar the allusion you make to a Biblical idea or concept. In 2010 Pew Research did a survey and found that less than half of the public knows the Four Gospels are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John or that Martin Luther inspired the Reformation.
In a Barna Research poll in 2015 barely half of those surveyed thought the Bible was the Word of God without error. And among Millennials, 23% believe that the Bible, the Koran, and the book of Mormon are all different expressions of the same spiritual truths. And yet those same Millennials when asked if they were somewhat knowledgeable (up to highly knowledgeable) about the Bible 84% claimed they “knew” the Bible.
In other words, the person to whom you are writing may or may not have the same understanding of the Bible, theology, church-life, etc. as you do.
Thus the challenge for the writer. To communicate the power of the Good News to a dying world. But to do so in a way that communicates clearly. One way I have described it is to say “It is no longer ‘Evidence that Demands a Verdict’ but instead ‘Evidence that Demands a Story.’” And by story I mean both fiction and non-fiction. Engaging the reader with a compelling story can be a vehicle to communicate some powerful truths. Truths that can change the world.
How The Generation Born Today Will Shape The Future Of Work
Longer life expectancies and changing demographics mean potential clashes between more generations in the workplace.
We hear a lot about millennials, gen Xers and baby boomers, but there are several generations interacting today.
Demographers typically segment the world population into six living generations: GI (born 1901–1926), mature/silents (born 1927–1945), baby boomers (born 1946–1964), generation X (born 1965–1980), generation Y/millennials (born 1981–2000), and generation Z (born after the middle to late 1990s).
Additionally, Australian demographer Mark McCrindle coined a seventh living generation: a post-Z “generation alpha,” representing those born after 2010 up through the coming years to 2025.
All the generations can expect to live longer lives. According to recent indicators from OECD, the average life expectancy in the U.S. is now 78.8 (up by about 10 years since the late 1950s and early 1960s). According to the Social Security Administration, men who reach age 65 today can expect to live until age 84.3, and 65-year-old women can expect to live until 86.6.
Longer life spans mean that we will extend our work lives, but it also means that more people will draw from the social security government trust and from other social and economic resources. How will this affect our nation’s labor force in the relative near term? By looking at population and labor force statistics together with data about generational changes, we can get a sense of how the future of work might shake out over the next several decades.
Minority Population Growth A Key Indicator
Generation alpha, for instance, has already reached an important milestone that has numerous implications on future workforce development. In 2011—only their second year on the planet—they reached a first-time demographic milestone. There were more babies born in families of minorities than whites. Minorities currently have, and will continue to have, higher fertility rates than whites. According to senior fellow in the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program William H. Frey, author of Diversity Explosion, “The percentage of white women who are in their childbearing years is declining and is smaller than the percentage of such women in other, ‘younger’ minority groups. Both of these trends are likely to continue and should translate into smaller numbers of white births over time. The population of whites, in fact, is aging more rapidly than that of other racial groups.”
In an interview with Fast Company, Frey calls generation alpha and its sibling generation Z “a huge demographic force. We are really going to absolutely be dependent on these young people for our future.”
By 2023, whites will total less than half of the U.S. population under 30.
He explains that by 2020, 40% of the population will be racial minorities, and more than half of the population under 18 will be racial minorities, adding that by 2023, whites will total less than half of the U.S. population under 30. Overall, this new minority demographic is estimated to comprise 56% of the total U.S. population by 2060, compared with 38% in 2014, as reported by NPR.
What this all means from a workforce perspective is that as baby boomers filter out of jobs into retirement and gradually lose their social and business-oriented dominance, jobs will need to be filled within the hierarchy of business and industry by younger, exceedingly multiracial workers.
Another Generational Divide On The Near Horizon
In a recent op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times, Frey called this demographic trend the beginning of a future generational divide between gen alpha/gen Z and baby boomers. “I tried to show how ironic it is that today’s baby boomers are the same people who used to say, ‘Don’t trust anyone over 30.’ Now the shoe is on the other foot.”
As he explains in Diversity Explosion, the divide will present gaps relative to economic and political interests—in other words, issues related to whether or not government funds should support youth or seniors could become prominent, such as decisions about increased funding for K-12 education and workforce training as opposed to senior health care. “The cultural generation gap between the young and the old can exacerbate the competition for resources, because the rise in the number of senior dependents is occurring more rapidly among whites than among minorities, for whom dependent children is a larger issue,” Frey writes. “These contests may evolve into culture clashes.”
Gen Z (who are currently under the age of 21) as well as millennials (who are also more diverse than their predecessors) also need to be considered when referring to a looming generation divide and tomorrow’s dramatically changing workforce. Forty-five percent of gen Z, for instance, believe that working with baby boomers will be challenging, “compared to 17% who anticipate difficulties with gen X and 5% with millennials,” writes Dan Schawbel, partner and research director at Future Workplace, in his blog.
According to a 2011 poll by Pew Research, boomers, and especially silents, do not fully embrace diversity. “Fewer in these groups see the increasing populations of Latinos and Asians, as well as more racial intermarriage, as changes for the better.”
Must-Have Tax Contributions
Despite such differences, Frey says he is hopeful. He explains that “the solvency of government-supported retirement and medical care programs is directly dependent on the future productivity and payroll tax contributions of a workforce in which minorities, especially Hispanics, will dominate future growth.” Out of necessity, the older generations will fully support education and workforce training needs of their much younger minority generations.
He adds that the places where workers will be needed most are not urban areas, but instead rural areas and smaller cities, where so-called brain-drains of young people are common. “Those are the places that need to be aware of younger people of different backgrounds, speaking different languages. We need to make sure they can be useful in our companies.”
There may be a little backlash at first because of the vast cultural differences between mostly white boomers and those born after them, “but over the long term people will adjust to this,” Frey concludes. “They are going to understand that we have job openings and we need to fill them with skilled people. Savvy business owners and corporate leaders will understand that these are the demographics of the future, and we need to make the best of it.”
Living with children may mean less sleep for women, but not for men
New research backs up what many women already know: They’re sleep deprived. Unlike men, a good night’s sleep for women is affected by having children in the house, according to a preliminary study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 69th Annual Meeting in Boston, April 22 to 28, 2017.
“I think these findings may bolster those women who say they feel exhausted,” said study author Kelly Sullivan, PhD, of Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Ga., and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. “Our study found not only are they not sleeping long enough, they also report feeling tired throughout the day.”
For the study, researchers examined data from a nationwide telephone survey of 5,805 people. Participants were asked how long they slept, with seven to nine hours per day considered optimum and less than six hours considered insufficient. They were also asked how many days they felt tired in the past month.
Researchers looked at age, race, education, marital status, number of children in the household, income, body mass index, exercise, employment and snoring as possible factors linked to sleep deprivation.
Among the 2,908 women aged 45 years and younger in the study, researchers found the only factor associated with getting enough sleep was having children in the house, with each child increasing the odds of insufficient sleep by nearly 50 percent.
For women under 45, 48 percent of women with children reported getting at least seven hours of sleep, compared to 62 percent of women without children.
No other factors — including exercise, marital status and education — were linked to how long younger women slept.
The study found that not only was living with children associated with how long younger women slept, but also how often they felt tired. Younger women with children reported feeling tired 14 days per month, on average, compared to 11 days for younger women without children in the household. Having children in the house was not linked to how long men slept.
“Getting enough sleep is a key component of overall health and can impact the heart, mind and weight,” said Sullivan, “It’s important to learn what is keeping people from getting the rest they need so we can help them work toward better health.”
Materials provided by American Academy of Neurology. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
What reasons do family, children and parents immigrate. There own story 1920’s?
Learning History and Hope
Micromanaging Every Move: Inside a Controlling Relationship
No one easily gives up their right to make decisions. But it happens.
Coercive control is not about one partner simply being “bossy” or “a nag”; it’s about domination. People do not easily give up their right to make decisions about their own lives. But some people are so micromanaged by their partners that they can hardly remember what it’s like to make decisions freely for themselves.
Controlling people often assert power by micromanaging their partners’ everyday life. An abuser might restrict his partner’s food and activities and come up with a detailed schedule of what she should do with her time. He (or she)* might govern how his partner expresses her emotions, what she watches on television, and which sites she visits on the Internet. He might require her to stop talking to the cat, to sleep on her back, or to fold her clothes a certain way. Each day, he might decide what clothes she will wear and require rituals related to hygiene, exercise, or beauty. He may say he is doing all this because he “cares about her” and “wants her to be her best.” Implied in each one of the demands is the assertion, “If you do not do what I say, I will punish you.” People who are victimized try to comply to avoid uncomfortable or dangerous conflicts. This compliance reduces conflict in the short term, but contributes to a victim’s long-term isolation and a sense of being smothered.
A controlling partner often exerts his control in spheres that pertain to stereotypical gender roles. For instance, he might make elaborate demands regarding keeping house, preparing food, personal appearance, child care, and sex. An abuser might require that his partner put food into the shopping cart or cabinets in a certain way. He may demand that she iron his socks and underwear or attend to household chores on an inflexible schedule, even when she is ill.
This extreme behavior is different from a situation where the man is simply rigid and overly particular. In coercive control, the abuser’s expectations become demands that the partner must fulfill with little regard to her own preferences or well-being—and she faces consequences for disappointing him.
Here’s an example of micromanagement in a coercive control relationship:
Neighbors thought “Lucinda” and her husband, “Marty,” lived a charmed life with their two children in a tidy home. However, the true nature of their relationship was hidden. Marty forbade Lucinda to leave the house without him, and insisted she keep the blinds drawn at all times. He demanded that she keep a record of her activities every half hour. He required her to dress in extremely revealing clothing and high heels when he paraded her around town. He chose her nail polish and demanded that her hair be perfect at all times. Dinner was to be on the table at 6 pm and the television off at 9 pm. Marty required Lucinda to go to bed at the same time as their young children, so he could have some time “by himself” each night. She suspected that he used this time to live a secret life on the Internet. When he came into their bedroom hours later, he demanded sex. Lucinda loved her husband and children but she also felt trapped by her husband’s restrictive demands.
Source: Drawing by Liz Bannish
Even when micromanaged, people turn toward freedom just as a sunflower turns toward the sun. People who are subject to their partner’s control find ways to secretly defy them, for instance by “accidentally on purpose” doing things “wrong” or thinking “forbidden” thoughts.
How to Reduce Kids’ Sense of Entitlement in a ‘Me’ Generation
Giving in to your children’s demands doesn’t do them any favors.
By Jennifer Hartstein
It seems today that people are more self-centered and entitled than ever. The problem appears to span all ages and, in my observation, is especially true of children.
In my private practice, I have never had so many demands of me, combined with the expectation that I will just do what is being asked because the person asking “deserves” it. This isn’t limited to children or teens, and it starts with parents. If a parent arrives 45 minutes late for a 60-minute appointment, with no apology or acknowledgment, how can we expect his or her children to act differently?
In today’s world of helicopter parenting, over-involved guardians and uber-protected children, we are raising a self-focused, “all about me” generation. Children often believe that things will just be done for them. If they wait long enough, someone will pick up after them. If they ask enough times, someone will give in. If they act disappointed or sad, someone will give them what they want. If they seem remorseful enough, someone will cover for them or let the situation slide.
We aren’t holding children and young adults accountable for their actions. They can save their allowance to replace the cell phone they lost. They can figure out how to talk to the teacher about the forgotten homework. They can repair the relationship with the therapist whose appointment they blew off. Children and young adults are pretty resilient and resourceful when we let them be. Unfortunately, most of the time, parents are afraid to loosen the reins and let them be. It’s time for that to change.
The field of behavioral economics is instrumental in examining entitlement, as it combines psychological theory with economic ideas. More specifically, it looks at how people deal with limitations and gains when making decisions. Thinking about entitlement through this lens is fascinating. For example, we often think that young people are motivated by money, and therefore we pay them to do their chores. What happens, though, when the teen doesn’t really want the money because there is no party this weekend or nothing he or she currently wishes to purchase? That chore may not get done, because there is no motivation to do it. The money, although exciting at first, loses value. The extrinsic reward does not create intrinsic motivation. So, what happens? We up the reward. Ultimately, we teach our children that they can demand more and expect to get it, building their sense of entitlement.
Standing up for yourself and what you want is an important skill. Expecting to get what you want without putting forth effort is often where the problem lies. So how do you begin to break it down and teach our kids to strike a healthy balance? Here are some tips:
Teach perspective. If we want to teach someone to understand another point of view, we have to show them how. Encourage your child to consider how another person might be feeling, or what someone else might think about a given situation.
Amy McCready, author of “The ‘Me, Me, Me’ Epidemic: A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World,” notes that we “need to uncenter our children’s universe and get them to think outside themselves.” In doing this, children begin to see that it’s not all about them, and that there are others to consider. This can be incredibly helpful in building a moral compass and promoting healthy relationships.
Expect more. Your children are not withering flowers incapable of doing things for themselves. In fact, the only way your child will actually do things for himself is if you get out of the way.
In her book, “The Gift of Failure,” Jessica Lahey talks about the importance of letting your child fall on her face, while encouraging her to get back up and keep trying. We can’t expect our children to be successful if they don’t know how to fail first. It’s only through failure that we learn. We’re doing a disservice to them by doing too much. Your kids will surprise you in how much they can actually do.
Hold the line. It’s important not to say yes when you should say no. We often over-indulge to avoid disappointment and argument. Neither are good reasons to give in. When we cave to demands, we fail to teach our children how to handle not getting what they want, a skill they certainly need in life. It’s never fun to disappoint another person. Sometimes, though, it will happen. As the adult, you can model how to handle it and how to maintain a relationship in the face of feeling badly.
Give back. It’s never too early to provide opportunities for gratitude and giving back. Gratitude is the antidote to entitlement. Create chances for your child to give back to others who might be in greater need. When your child outgrows clothes or toys, take him with you to donate them to a shelter or a family. Providing an opportunity to help in a more personalized way has greater meaning and staying power than donating to a cause far away. This lesson can stay with your child for a long time and serve as a good balance to the entitlement that might develop.
Parents always want to provide for their children. They want to give them the best of everything. Unfortunately, sometimes that backfires, leading to children who only want, want, want. Instead, as parents, we must model for our kids how to decrease the “me” focus and prioritize caring for others.
10 Habits to Build a Strong Marriage
10 habits every couple should practice to build a happy, enduring marriage
“Happily ever after” is a great ending for Disney but in real life marriage takes work and commitment. It isn’t just Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt who argue (the only difference is that when they argue paparazzi peddle photos to celebrity magazines); every marriage has its ups and downs.
Here are 10 habits every couple should integrate into their home in order to build a strong, happy and enduring marriage.
1. Stop picking on your partner
It’s easier to blame and put responsibility on your spouse than acknowledge that marriage is a partnership. Husband and wife are a team. A healthy marriage means we support one another-in both words and actions. This is the definition of commitment. When something goes wrong stop trying to figure out whose fault it is. It’s a pointless exercise that just causes pain. Speak about solutions instead of looking to accuse. Be careful not to use put downs to feel better about yourself. There is no room for meanness in marriage.
This goes for the little moments as well as the big ones. Instead of looking to blame when there’s not enough gas left in the tank, give empathy. Allow your partner to unload and show that you care. Talk about finding a way to work this out for next time instead of defending yourself by attacking your spouse.
2. Express feelings in a mature way
There’s a difference between whining and being constructive. Constant complaining feels as if you are living with a two year old who falls into tantrums. Talk about what you want using a positive approach. Instead of saying “I feel as if I am a single mom; you’re never home,” say “The kids and I love spending time with you. Is there a way we can make this happen more often?” A healthy relationship means we speak about what we want instead making our partner feel that home is a place of criticism and nagging.
3. Stop being passive aggressive
Resentment builds when we say we are fine, and ‘whatever’ but inside we are feeling spiteful. You may think you are being nice and giving in but your eyes and body language speak volumes. If you are upset, communicate your emotions respectfully instead of bottling up your hard feelings. Don’t keep saying “Do what you want” and then freeze on your spouse with an icy silence. You do not want to become a bitter partner.
4. Stop trying to prove that you are right
You can be 100% right but your attitude is all wrong. If you keep bringing up the same thing over and over to prove your point, you have lost your way. In a healthy relationship, we make a choice to create peace instead of trying to always have the final word. Choose tolerance and compassion to replace the attitude of arrogance and being a ‘know it all’. There are some people who need to prove that they’re right even when they apologize. When you apologize, be sincere. Don’t clarify your apology by saying “I am sorry, BUT…” Being happy is better than being right.
5. Be receptive
We all make mistakes. When your partner wants to make things better, don’t make him suffer. If your spouse extends an overture after an argument, it is not wise to keep the argument going for days. Some people find it most difficult to forgive. After an argument they carry hard feelings and cannot even give a smile when their spouse reaches out and attempts to make things right. A thriving relationship requires a spirit of acceptance. This means that you are approachable and make reconciliation possible. Live your life moving toward each other instead of backing away.
6. Stop using threats to manipulate your spouse
If you value the self-esteem of your partner, you will be careful to avoid threats as a way to find control. When we intimidate the ones we are supposed to love, we lose our connection with them. We create an environment of fear as rage grows within. True love means that we nourish one another as we share a vision for our future. We support each other and don’t bulldoze our partner to get what we want. We never use threats to overcome turmoil. Your partner needs to feel cherished not controlled.
7. Set clear limits
It is easy to love when all is good. The question is how do we make it through a disagreement intact? In a healthy relationship, couples decide together where they will not go. Saying things like “I never want to see your face again,’ “I want a divorce,” or using cruel and shaming words are simply off limits. (Of course physical aggression is also never allowed). Slamming the door and walking out, disappearing for hours, being flirtatious to get back at your spouse, using the children as chess pieces in your battle are all actions that will hurt you and never help. Deciding what to do when a situation gets ‘hot’ instead of screaming and yelling is also crucial. A fight does not mean that the relationship is over. But things said and done during the disagreement can be the start of unhealthy pattern that will unravel the bond you have together.
8. Be proactive in your love life
Instead of complaining, start creating. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Be the one to take the initiative. Becoming a parent or being married for years does not mean that you should neglect your partner. You may need to decide to make more time for your spouse, be spontaneous, get creative, and infuse new energy into your relationship. Take care of yourself and ask: how can I make some small changes to help the situation? It may mean a haircut, losing the baggy clothing, or getting into better shape. Look at your lifestyle and make sure that your spouse feels cared for. Express your love every single day.
9. Keep your friendship alive
Being married means acknowledging that we live with our best friend. Focus on the one you love and reach out to your partner, not just your friends. A healthy relationship creates a life based on mutual trust. We share intimate details, fears and hopes without being afraid that we will be laughed at. We make time for each other and share experiences, not just problems, bills, and carpool schedules.
10. Stop expecting
When we give because we expect in return, we set ourselves up for disappointment. For love to endure, we need to invest in our relationship. This means we give and don’t measure how much we have gotten back. Our question must be: What can I do today to make my marriage better? We are all capable of giving. When we express appreciation, give a compliment, an encouraging hug, a thoughtful gesture, we are showing our spouse that we are committed and care. Concentrating on what our partner does for us becomes a selfish way of giving. Give because you want to create a home filled with love.
Marriage requires thoughtful contemplation. Happiness is a choice we make through our daily decisions and responses. When we realize that we have within our power the ability to build a life together rather than destroy, we will renew the spirit of love and acceptance in our homes.
If parents or in-laws are moving in with you
Multigenerational living is a tradition in many cultures and growing more common in the U.S. But, when you tell your friends that your parent or in-law is moving in, don’t be surprised if you hear How will that work? in polite response. Not so polite: Are you out of your mind?
The good news is that joining forces often succeeds beyond people’s expectations. Take Sarah, for example, a single mom whose parents moved in 12 years ago. “They help prepare dinner and do much of the chauffeuring detail,” Sarah says. “We’ve created a little village in which everyone helps and cares for one another.”
Questions to ask
When a parent or in-law moves in, it’s often thought to be long-term. Older relatives may need your help or you may need theirs. Just knowing that a living arrangement could become permanent makes it important for everyone, including your children, to feel good about it.
In discussions with your parents or in-laws about the move, you’ll want to address their needs and yours. Talk about how everyone visualizes day-to-day living. Here are some questions to ask:
Is the arrangement permanent? Is space available?
What effect will parents or in-laws moving in have on your lives?
Will the move affect you financially in a positive or negative way?
Does your spouse get along well with your parent?
How will a parent’s possessions be handled?
How do your children relate to their grandparents?
What is the plan if the move doesn’t work out or someone’s relationship status changes?
Think about personalities
You may not answer every question before the move. But you can give some thought to personality and the relationship you had in the past–to help you project how things may turn out: Will you hardly know your parent or in-law is in the house? Or will yours tend to hover?
When you got married, the last thing you thought about, if it crossed your mind at all, was that you would be living with both or one of your in-laws. For every impossible in-law, there’s a divine one–one you wished were your mother or father.
Difficult parents or in-laws will probably remain that way in new surroundings. They may mellow a bit with age, but you can count on old traits cropping up. For example: parents who feel entitled, are selfish or want to be too helpful.
Certain aspects of your life will become easier, others more complicated when parents or in-laws arrive. Your attention will be divided, as will your time. The parents or in-laws who live with you can be welcomed chefs or groundskeepers. In whatever role they serve, they’re more often than not loyal supporters of the family.
Dealing with quirks
Some behaviors are hard to overlook and can become a constant annoyance. You may want to try to alter or amend quirks that interfere or slow you down by saying, for example: “It bothers me when I can’t find the paper towels. Can we agree on where they go?” Or “I understand how you feel about expiration dates, but instead of throwing things out, please leave them. I’ll throw them out when I think they’re unsafe.”
Discussion is the grownup way to handle differences and frustrations. When something isn’t working out, one of you should broach the subject. Deal with it sooner rather than later so the annoyance doesn’t have time to fester. Consider creating a family a house rule: If anyone is unhappy about something, speak up so we can try to fix it or change it.
Be a role model
If you have kids living at home, don’t overburden them with responsibility for their grandparents. Have them help out, but within reason. Remember, your children are observing the respect you show and the care you give. How you interact with your parents or in-laws is likely the way they will relate to you in the future.
“My children are experiencing the challenges of three generations in one household,” said Sarah. “It’s teaching them about honoring boundaries and being easygoing. They are gaining an emotional depth that many of their friends won’t have.”
Look at the big picture
Coexisting happily requires shying away from the small things that can sour a relationship. Avoid focusing on petty behaviors or perceived shortcomings. Parents and adults who are motivated to build their relationship accept that they don’t always have to be right about every incident–that relating well and getting along are far more important.
Cardinal rules for living together
Be realistic about what you expect and how each family member can help.
Don’t let money problems cloud personal feelings.
Be grateful and make concessions.
Keep your boundaries strong and respect those of others.
Don’t rehash past negatives. Move on.
Use humor to ease sticky situations.
Be understanding of the difficult problems a relative faces.
Retain a ”we’re in this together” attitude while holding onto your separate life.
Focus on the good things you share.
5 Things Never to Say to Your Kids About Money
When our clothes dryer broke the same weekend we hired a babysitter for a few hours, my daughter, 6, informed me, “Mom, we’re spending too much money.” Never mind that the bills were for vastly different amounts. She knew we had to shell out for both replacing the dryer and paying the sitter, and it was too much for her little brain. Either she was really clever about trying to talk us out of having a sitter, or she was all confused about money.
I called Dr. Brad Klontz, a clinical psychologist and author of the book Mind Over Money, to get his take on some of the tricky things kids ask us about money. How should we respond? Here is his advice on the right things to say — and the wrong things.
The Wrong Thing: “I don’t know how we’re going to pay the bills this month.”
Freaking out about the pile of bills? Resist the urge to tell your children about it, because they can’t help. “Don’t give them TMFI: too much financial information,” Klontz says. “We can’t involve them in things they’re powerless to do anything about. Laying that load on a child makes her anxious.”
The Right Thing: Present a confident front, and then involve them with problems they can help solve.
Do have a conversation, because kids are sponges, and if you’re stressed, they’re going to feel it anyway. Tell them what’s going on, and then ask them to help with things they can manage. “Times are kind of tight. Dad lost his job. He’s looking for a new job, but don’t worry about it, Mom and Dad have it handled. This is what we’re going to do. We’re going to be eating out less. Do you have any ideas on stuff we can cook at home?”
The Wrong Thing: “It’s none of your business how much money I make.”
If a kid asks how much money you make, should you tell them? It’s understandable if you don’t trust them to keep that information private. But realize that if you don’t talk about it, you’re sending a signal. “You could be giving them the message that having a lot of money or having a little money is shameful,” Klontz says. “So maybe the kid walks away with the belief that having money must be bad, or that rich people are somehow evil or shallow.” What will that do to his earnings potential?
The Right Thing: Be honest – if you can stomach it.
Klontz meets with 30 adolescents each week, and if they ask about his income, he tells them. (Note to readers: I didn’t have the nerve.) “People will tell you more about their sex lives than how much money they make. I don’t feel any reason to feel ashamed about it,” he says. “If they ask you, I think it’s OK to tell them. You can ask them not to tell their friends, but give them a reason why: You’re afraid other families or friends are going to judge you for having more or less than them.” Try to avoid conveying shame to your kids.
The Wrong Thing: “I work so you can go to camp, art lessons, or play sports.”
If kids are fussing about your long work hours, it’s natural to want to tell them you’re putting in extra hours to fund their activities and their toys.
The Right Thing: Look at what’s really going on.
When your kid makes you feel like you’re not spending enough time with him, that gets you defensive. The right answer is, “Work is important to Mom, but what do you think about us trying to set aside some time when we can be together, you and I?” In this case, it’s not about the money, so resist trying to place an unfair burden on the kids.
The Wrong Thing: “$60 for a Halloween costume? That is way too expensive. I’m sorry, but I just can’t afford it.”
You feel bad or guilty, so you’re apologizing, which only magnifies the issue.
The Right Thing: We have $15 to spend on a costume.
Say it matter-of-factly: “This is our budget, $15. We can go to a thrift store or the Salvation Army, or we can buy something in this range.” If you state it firmly, without letting your emotions in, they probably won’t challenge you on it.
The Wrong Thing: Silence about money.
“Kids make the association very early on between money and the ability to buy things,” Klontz says. “I don’t think you can talk about it too early. The biggest mistake parents make is not talking about it. Because kids will arrive at their own conclusions about how money works, based on what they see us do and what they hear. They always arrive at erroneous conclusions – that’s the child’s mind, right?”
If those understandings aren’t challenged, as they turn into adults, they operate from these beliefs. For example, if a child grows up in a family that’s struggling financially, he might walk away with the belief that there will never be enough money. “There are two typical responses,” Klontz says. “Either he’ll be a workaholic who hoards money and never spends it. Or he’ll be a frivolous spender, because he’s never going to have enough anyway, so why try? The more emotional the experience is growing up, the more tightly we hold onto those beliefs.”
The Right Thing: Share Your Values About Money.
When your son is begging for a new computer game, say no, and say why. “It’s important for kids to get used to the idea that they can’t have everything they want,” Klontz says. Tell them what your other plans are: “With our money, we’re going to choose to have a vacation together or an experience together, to us, that’s more important than things. It’s OK that you want that, maybe that’s something we can think about getting down the road, but for now, we want to spend money on doing something fun as a family. That means a lot to me.”
If you hear a child talking about money, and she seems way off base, it’s a teachable moment. “Stop what you’re doing and say, ‘What do you mean? Where did you hear that?’ It gives you a chance to clarify and challenge whatever that belief is, and help flesh it out so it’s more accurate,” Klontz says.
10 Things I Wish I Had Known Before Senior Year Of High School
Having reached the final chapter of my high school existence, I’ve spent the end of summer reflecting on my last three years and predicting the months to come. As application deadlines loom in the distance, I’ve compiled countless of “could have beens” and “should have dones” into a pile of regrets. Here’s to moving past the past and facing the future head on. Better yet, here’s to not repeating mistakes. Follow these 10 tips and your future is golden.
1. It’s never too early to start preparing.
SATs and ACTs… they are pretty much the bane of my existence. Though finishing your testing before senior fall is ideal, sometimes reality hits you in the face with a frying pan. If someone had suggested I study a little sooner (cough, cough, summer before junior year), things would be a whole lot easier now. Also, a note to all the underclassman out there: you can take these tests any time. That means if you are a good reader, it’s totally okay to take the SAT 2 Lit test during sophomore year. Ignore the eye rolls you get from your friends. They’re the ones who will be stressing when there aren’t enough testing dates left before they apply.
2. Don’t try and be something you’re not.
There are two things colleges want to see in your essay. First and foremost, they want to know that you
can write coherently and use proper punctuation. Secondly, they want to see passion. If I’m being blatantly honest, the topic itself isn’t even important. If what you say isn’t genuine, it will crash and burn. Every time I sit in on a college informational session, the admissions officers have explained that their favorite essays have been simple and beautiful: like riding a bike or eating breakfast a certain way. It’s weird, I know, but write from your heart.
3. Find your “thing” and follow through.
The not-so-secret goal of the college office is to tie you up into a pretty little package deal. Not that you should play into everything they say, but it’s true that to get into college you don’t need to join every activity available. If you don’t have a diverse, lengthy list of talents, that’s OK! One of the best things you can do in high school is to find your niche, and stick it through. Commitment and leadership earn you major points.
4. You might not fall in love with a school.
After visiting your tenth college, you may start to panic. Why didn’t any of them seem perfect? How come you didn’t love with the campus? Will you fit in anywhere? Here’s the truth: that heart-wrenching “this is the place for me” feeling might never come. Between the tour, brochures and hours of research you still won’t know what it feels like to be an actual student. Trust your instincts on this one. You’ll find yourself happily adapting to wherever you go.
5. It’s important to have an outlet.
There will be tears. You will throw objects. Don’t let the stress and expectations suffocate you. The way you avoid hitting overdrive is by finding an outlet that allows you to cool off. I tend to channel all that frustration into poetry or binge on Breakfast at Tiffany’s and coffee ice cream. Excessively working will psychological burn you out, do yourself a favor and find an escape.
6. Don’t go on interviews until you’re prepared.
May day! Alert! Alert! What is the biggest mistake you could make? Showing up to a college interview uninformed. I learned this first-hand when I walked into one at the beginning of junior year. The meeting was painfully awkward, simply because I could not tell the person why I liked their school. You should wait until you are closer to applying before scheduling an interview. That way, you will have a better understanding of what you want and how to get it. You will also be fresh on their minds when it comes time for them to decide!
7. Have a teacher who knows you beyond the classroom.
Towards the end of junior year you will have to consider which teacher is going to write your recommendation. This rec is not to be taken lightly. If someone is going to speak on your behalf, make sure that they are going to fight for you to the death. “Hardworking” and “good input” is not going to make you stand out from 20,000 other applicants. Schedule a lunch to discuss what is important to you outside of the classroom so that the teacher can speak holistically. It is OK to be direct about what you want colleges to learn.
8. Sometimes, a “mental health day” is necessary.
Don’t mistake this tip for having anything to do with relaxing on the couch while watching the latest episode of Breaking Bad. A mental health day is the emergency eject button of high school. If things get too insane — you have two tests, an essay and a SAT tutor coming over tomorrow — you might just need space and quiet to get things done. No, it is not acceptable to make “playing hooky” a part of your weekly itinerary or to use it to avoid finals. This get-out-of-jail-free card should be handled with care.
9. What you think you want and what you actually want are two different things.
I recently had a college-search identity crisis. Everything that I thought I wanted -– to leave the northeast, the cold and the small school drama –- all of a sudden seemed limiting. This realization changed the way I look at my past, present and future. It’s allowed me to add schools back onto my list and it’s also made me question where my opinions have come from. Have an open mind about where you should visit. Some of the best experiences come from the unexpected.
10. Time works in mysterious ways.
Does it feel like your life is flashing before your eyes? Mine does. Someone pressed fast-forward and forgot to let go. Here we are, on a never-ending roller coaster ride, blurring the colors and experiences into one adrenaline-pumping vein of time. Where I’ll turn up, I cannot begin to predict. All I can hope is that I have made the most of what I’ve been given. Search for that pause button. High school will be gone before you know it.
5 Ways Millennials Must Kick-Start a Budget to Avoid Living With Their Parents Until Age 40
The path millennials take into adulthood will differ from their parents in many ways. Millennials have higher levels of student debt, poverty and unemployment — as well as lower levels of wealth and personal income — compared to Gen Xers and Baby Boomers at the same stage in their life cycle, according to the Pew Research Center. Parents of millennials want their kids to succeed, of course. The path to success for any young adult — no matter what generation — is a solid foundation in understanding the basics of personal finance. Sadly, lessons about saving and budgeting aren’t always passed down from one generation to another.
Learning how to save starts at a young age
“I was never really taught to budget,” says Candace Manriquez, a 33-year-old radio producer from Long Beach. “I definitely would have benefited from budgeting and saving in my early 20s. I held a job where I made nearly $80,000 and aside from my 401(k), I really didn’t save much.”
Manriquez says she wishes someone had taught her how to budget when she was younger, but with her parents living paycheck to paycheck, she didn’t learn about how to save money at home. School wasn’t any help either. Though statistics show that students who are taught financial literacy in high school are more responsible when it comes to money, most states don’t require students to take a course in personal finance. In fact, only 17 states currently do.
“It’s critical that young adults receive a sound financial education as they make long-lasting decisions about college and how to finance their education,” says Mary Johnson, director of Financial Literacy and Student Aid Policy at Higher One, which sponsored a study on how early financial knowledge influences financial decisions.
According to the study, students who receive financial literacy education are more responsible with loans and credit, more financially cautious, and less accepting of debt as a necessity.
Whether you learn about financial literacy through the classroom, at home, online, or through trial-and-error, it’s essential for young adults to educate themselves on the basics of money. One of the first lessons that many young adults need to master is how to create a budget.
“I think budgeting should be taught well before the 20s because preparation is the best thing,” says Kryselle Luna, a 25-year-old bank teller from Las Vegas. “I think in my early 20s I was bad with money. Now I think I’m better, but it is always a constant learning experience as new challenges and opportunities arise.”
So how do you budget?
For 20-somethings looking for a foolproof formula to create their first adult budget, sorry to disappoint, but there is none. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to creating a budget because it depends on what works best for you. In fact, there are several ways that you can approach budgeting.
Some experts prefer the 50-30-20 budget fix, where 50 percent of your after-tax income goes to fixed living costs, 30 percent to fun stuff like vacations and entertainment, and 20 percent goes to retirement and debt management.
Others believe you should go a step further and invest some of your money in the stock market and mutual funds as part of your budgeting plan, if you can handle it. And some experts say you should create multiple budgets that exist on a sliding scale in case you experience fluctuations in your income. That is, you create a regular budget similar to the 50-30-20 plan and then make a big money budget (in case you come across a big windfall) and a bad budget in case something catastrophic like a health scare of job loss occurs.
However you choose to create your millennial budget plan, the important thing is making sure you have one. If you’re looking for some guidance, here are the crucial steps to budgeting that will help keep your spending in check and savings flush with cash.
1. Set your goals
Learning to budget is a crucial part of achieving your financial goals, which is really your ultimate objective. You should have both short- and long-term financial goals in mind before even thinking about your budget. Keep those goals in mind as you allocate money and make adjustments to your budget.
After setting your goals, consider opening an online savings account, which gives you a much better interest rate than a big bank. It’s also free to use and maintain, so it might be worthwhile to start a savings account, if you don’t already have one.
2. Calculate your net income
The first step to creating a successful budget is to identify what your income is. That would be what you earn in your paycheck minus taxes and employer deductions for things like 401(k) contributions and health insurance premiums. What you bring home after all the deductions is your net income. That amount is what you will use to determine your budget each month.
3. Track your spending
You can’t make a budget if you don’t know where your money goes. Sadly, only one in three Americans actually prepare a detailed household budget. For at least one month, you should track all your expenses — every single one, no matter how miniscule. Once you figure out how you’re spending, you can make adjustments about how to allocate it.
4. Break down your monthly expenses
Divide your net income into two broad spending categories: fixed expenses and variable expenses. Fixed expenses like your rent don’t change each month. Other expenses, such as gas or entertainment spending, might vary (hence, why they’re called variable expenses).
How much do you spend each month on both types of expenses? Record that amount with whatever is handy — a pen, an app, your smartphone. With each of your expenses, keep track of what you’re spending. Admittedly, it won’t be easy. You might consider using your online banking records to evaluate your spending, carrying around a small pen and notebook, or reviewing your receipts every so often.
You want to total your expenses for the month and compare that amount to your income. If your expenses don’t exceed your income, you’re on the right path. With the extra money you have each month, prioritize how you want to spend it depending on your financial goals. For instance, you can use those funds to pay off your credit card or student debt more quickly if that’s one of your goals. If your expenses exceed your income, you’re in trouble. You have to make adjustments. Fixed expenses don’t really go away (unless you, say, move), so spending on variable expenses will likely need to be adjusted. If that’s still not enough, you may have to look into ways to increase your income.
5. Be disciplined
Maintaining a budget isn’t a fun task, but it’s a necessary one. You need to devote time each week to keeping track of your finances and updating your budget. That will require some amount of discipline, but it’s a worthwhile investment that can help you reach your short- and long-term financial goals. Luckily, there are many tools available to help you keep track of your spending. Remember, a budget is fluid and you might need to make more adjustments one month and fewer the next.
Creating your first adult budget doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom, though. Experiment and see what approach works best for you. In the end, your pocketbook will thank you for it.
“Budgeting is something everyone needs to learn,” says Luna. “Even though it may have taken me longer to understand budgeting, I’m thankful that I know how to do it today.”
Five parenting trends that we expect to gain momentum in 2017.
1) Grit-Style Parenting
Say goodbye to participation trophies, and hello to teaching kids some grit. Recent studies have shown that the characteristic of grit is the key to happiness and success, and in a world that increasingly values entrepreneurship and the failure that may come along with it, parents are letting their children figure things out on their own and even fail. By teaching children not to quit at the first sign of a setback, parents are showing children how to be resilient and autonomous, along with the lesson that persistence pays off whether there’s a trophy or not.
2) The Minimalist Parent
The minimalist movement that was sparked by Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up has trickled down to parenting. In lieu of all the “stuff” that children quickly grow out of and tired of, parents are electing for a more pared-down lifestyle for the entire family. These minimalist parents of 2017 are eschewing multitudes of toys, clothes and art projects and saving only items that spark joy, while selling or donating the rest to local charities or parent groups like the ones found on BigTent.com. In addition, minimalist parents are reexamining their children’s schedules and eliminating any sports or lessons the kids don’t truly enjoy.
3) Post-Gender Parenting
From an increase in unisex names in the last decade and the movement to ban the word “bossy” for girls to the elimination of gender toy segregation by mass market retailers and the call for unisex graduation gowns, gender neutrality is being welcomed by a new generation of parents. These parents are challenging stereotypes in an effort to raise their children in an environment where they aren’t confined by gender bias and where kids can simply be kids…whether that means learning how to code, to play rugby or to take ballet. This cultural shift means that children have more choices than ever before, and what parent doesn’t want that for their child?
4) Truly Flexible Workplace Programs
There’s no question about it: 2016 was the year of paid parental leave. While employers will continue to compete with each other in an effort to provide the best parental leave program, Care@Work, the enterprise arm helping companies support their working families, predicts leading employers will also expand on the notion of flex time for 2017. According to a Care@Work 2015 Better Benefits Survey, 17% of people would likely leave their job for one that offered a flexible work schedule. But beyond offering flexibility in working hours, companies are recognizing that true flexibility for America’s diverse workforce means many different things. Whether it’s a reduced work week à la Amazon.com’s 30-hour work week pilot program, job-sharing opportunities, or the ability to work from home several days a week to avoid long commutes or for no reason at all, the traditional, full-time schedule in an office is no longer a “one size fits all” model for today’s workforce. Most importantly, leading organizations who are committed to true flexibility are actively encouraging the use of these workplace programs to help mitigate commonly-held fears of being professionally penalized for actually taking advantage of them.
5) Cobbled-Together Child Care
For the first time ever in 2016, the cost of childcare featured prominently on the agenda of a U.S. Presidential election, and for good reason. The high cost of childcare has been an increasing pain point for many families, resulting in parents seeking alternatives to traditional childcare arrangements, such as nanny shares. According to Care.com, the percentage of families seeking a nanny share (in which two or more families employ one nanny and share the cost of her salary) increased 23% in 2017 as compared to 2015.
Transforming Kids’ Health & Body Image
4 Relationship Red Flags For Single Moms To Watch Out For
Want to learn from my mistakes? These are the red flags you should watch out for as a single mom on the dating scene.
1. Warning Sign Statements
If something your date says sounds bizarre, ask a few more questions. A few statements that should be construed as warning signs that this person might not be the right choice include:
“I haven’t seen my kids in a long time.”
“About five jobs ago…”
“Actually we are separated, but the divorce should be any day now.”
“I just broke up with my ex last week.”
Listen to your intuition and be willing to walk away from a date to protect yourself and your children. Do not play mental negotiations because they have a cushy job, financial security and a Porsche. Just say no to a second date.
2. Ignoring Bad Behavior
As Solomon wrote:
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23
So watch how your date behaves in all circumstances. You want to give yourself plenty of time to get to know them before you introduce them to your kids. Be sure to notice the little things. Are they kind to the wait staff at restaurants? If they have a pet, do they treat it well? Have you met their family and friends? How do they behave when under pressure? Are they triggered easily? Their actions in these situations will give you insight into their character that you should not ignore.
3. Lowering Your Standards
The time to think through any potentially perilous situation is before it happens. Know what kind of father you want for your children and what kind of man it will take to raise your precious babies. Fortify your convictions in advance with firm intentions, accountability and a solid plan. If you want a man who shares your faith with you, then don’t compromise spiritually. If you desire someone who has healthy work/life balance, don’t partner up with a workaholic. Dating with intention is never more important than when you have a family you are guiding and protecting.
4. Lacking Support
When facing any obstacle, it helps to know you have support. Invite others who share your commitment to God to encourage you and check in with you. Find advocates and ask them to watch your back and help you to hold firm to your convictions. They can help you to keep you moving in the direction you want to go.
In addition, seek out a dating guide whose perspectives and opinions you hold in high regard, like a pastor, a mentor or a teacher. Spend time with this person and glean all the wisdom you can. Good counsel is available to you if you’ll ask for it. Again, it was Solomon who said:
Cathy Neills’* two-year-old daughter, Amelia, woke up from a nap and immediately started to cry. When Neills asked what was wrong, Amelia pointed at the kitchen door.
Was the bright light that flooded in from the kitchen hurting her eyes? Neills thought that must be it, so she closed the door. But Amelia remained upset and more tears followed.
Ten minutes later, Neills finally figured it out: Amelia was hungry.
“What frustrates Amelia? Sometimes it’s not being able to move her dolls’ arms and legs the way she wants, or do up a zipper. Sometimes it’s things that puzzle me—like me not going down the stairs ‘correctly’ or not putting her stepstool exactly right against the toilet,” says Neills.
So much about life is frustrating for toddlers. They have big ideas about what they want, but can’t always communicate them clearly. When they do, all too often (from their perspective) the answer is no. They are easily overwhelmed by their emotions, so not being able to do up a zipper can quickly turn into a tantrum.
1. Frustration is normal
Not only is it normal for toddlers to frequently be frustrated, says parent educator and mom of two Jenny Emerson of Guelph, Ont., it’s essential to their development. Toddlers learn through trial and error; when something doesn’t work for them, they need to experience frustration in order to move on to the next step. “We can’t always make things better,” says Emerson, “but we should try not to make them worse.”
What makes it worse? Getting angry or punishing the child, says Emerson. “Toddlers who are frustrated often behave badly — screaming and hitting. We often react to that behavior with threats or punishments. That’s not helpful.”
There are more productive responses to help the child work through the situation. Emerson suggests:
2. Stay close
Some children will accept being held and comforted, while others simply need you to stay close and show empathy. Neills says: “I’ve learned that sometimes Amelia does not want me to hold her, touch her, talk to her or even give her eye contact. I used to walk away, but now I see that she needs me there.” And Emerson cautions, “Putting a child in time out or on a ‘naughty chair’ can make him feel rejected at a time when he needs help to deal with his emotions.”
3. Set them up for success
Toddlers are much more quickly frustrated if they’re hungry, tired or stressed, so paying attention to those needs can help stave off frustration. Neills noticed that when she organized group playdates, Amelia often ended up having a tantrum. “I figured out that Amelia is happier to play with one friend at home.”
Giving choices can also help, says Emerson. Toddlers are developing independence and often resist direct orders, then become frustrated when you insist. “I was outside playing with a little girl I was caring for,” Emerson recalls, “and when I told her it was time to go in, she said, ‘No!’ I could see frustration brewing, so I said, ‘Do you want to walk with big elephant steps or little mouse steps?’” It turned out the little girl was in the mood for big elephant steps, and the tantrum was averted.
4. Tolerate the tears
“We don’t like to see our children upset,” says Emerson, “but it’s important for them to experience their emotions. If you give in every time the tears start or every time your child stomps his feet, what is he learning?” Don’t give in, but do respect their feelings. Kay van Akker, mother of two-year-old James, says, “I let him have it out and then we’ll regroup, cuddle, read a story, nurse or find another activity.”
It’s worse, of course, when you’re out in public and getting dirty looks. When her kids were toddlers, Emerson often carried a sign that said “tantrum in progress” and would put it on the ground beside her screaming, kicking child. “The embarrassment we feel when these things happen, that’s our issue,” she says. “Really, everyone has been there. This is what toddlers do. And some can do it for hours.”
5. Be patient
Isn’t that the advice for every toddler issue? “The thing is their brains are immature,” says Emerson. “You can’t make toddlers grow up any faster. Eventually, they will be better able to handle their emotions. But it will take time.”
When Children Are Afraid of the Dark
A new strategy for helping your kids embrace their dark side…or at least ease toddler sleep problems!
Babies seem unfazed by darkness; if their mommy is holding them, it doesn’t matter much whether it’s night or day. By the time the toddler years arrive, though, nighttime can start to seem spooky, and the dark can be seriously creepy to a 4-year-old, thanks to a surge in cognitive development and imagination around that age, says Jonathan Kushnir, Ph.D., a sleep researcher at Tel Aviv University in Israel.
While fear of darkness is quite common and totally outgrow-able, it’s smart to nip night fright in the bud to avoid prolonged anxiety and interrupted sleep. In fact, infants who rely on their parents for help settling down for night-night are more likely to have night wakings both now and when they’re older, too.
One way to help spook-proof the dark is to have your kiddo help pick out a fun nightlight and comfort item. Kushnir’s research, featured in the European Journal of Pediatrics, found that sleeping with a new stuffed puppy (the comfort item provided in the experiment) significantly reduced bedtime fears and improved sleep for three quarters of the kids after just one month.
If you want to put this research to the test, give your child a new stuffed toy and tell her she needs to protect her pup (or bunny, duck, whatever). Or tell her the doggy is there to keep them both safe. Experts say either strategy works, so take your pick!
Encouraging Siblings to Get Along
Our twins, born just two minutes apart, have looked like “Pete and Repeat” their whole lives. And yet in every other way — from preferences to personalities — they are opposites. Two children, born at the same time to the same parents, and they couldn’t be more different.
Mike liked books about the solar system and numbers; Rob loved learning about community helpers and holidays. When playing with friends, Rob made sure no one’s feelings were hurt, whereas Mike was overly competitive.
When the boys were toddlers, I remember driving home from church one evening and hearing Robert’s sweet little voice say, “Mommy, I want to be just like Jesus!” Before I could even respond, Mike disagreed with him. “Not me,” he said firmly. “I want to be like God.”
As parents, we’re faced with the task of helping each of our one-of-a-kind children accept and appreciate the differences in their brothers and sisters. So how can you help your children value the unique qualities of their siblings?
Consider your example
Model the behavior you expect from your children. Your kids are watching how you handle the stress of living with those who don’t think like you or do things the same way you do.
If you’re like me, you chose a spouse who’s pretty close to the opposite of you. On a day-to-day basis — no matter how much you love that person — the differences can quickly become more annoying than refreshing. This fact gives us an opportunity to model appreciation for how our differences complement one another and make our relationship stronger. For sibling relationships, foster amicable behavior in your children to help create a more harmonious atmosphere in your home.
Focus on strengths
Call attention to unique qualities in each child, especially when those qualities represent a contrast to the strengths of a sibling. Point out the positives in front of other family members whenever you can. You might say, “Sara, you always seem to know when someone needs to hear a joke,” or “Sam, it’s so great to see how much energy you have!”
Help your children recognize and appreciate the positive side to being different. For example, a highly organized child who prefers a predictable schedule could be a big help when you’re deciding what kind of chart or calendar would work best for keeping track of family activities. A creative child who loves spontaneity could help come up with ideas for last-minute family entertainment.
When the boys were younger, we had a family tradition they both loved. At least once a week at bedtime, I’d take turns lying down next to each of them before tucking them in. I’d ask each one the same question: “Do you know what I like about you?” Then I’d go back over the past few days and remind each boy of what I’d observed. “I like how you shared that toy with your brother and how you opened the door for your grandma and . . .” It was a great time to connect with both boys and share with them how much I loved them, and I was able to affirm their good behavior.
Help resolve conflict
When your children disagree, start your mediation efforts on a positive note: “I know you love keeping toys organized at all times, but your brother enjoys being able to put his toys away after he uses them.” By telling your child how her strengths are different from her brother’s, you are helping her move toward a resolution.
Conflicts often begin when a child feels she’s been treated unfairly. She may find it difficult to understand why your expectations may be different for her than for her brother or sister. Let her know that you expect the same outcome of every child, but she and her sibling may have a completely different way of doing what they need to do. Define the outcome you’re looking for, and hold the kids accountable. For example: “You and your brother both need to put your toys away when you’re finished, but the way you store them doesn’t have to be the same.”
When you hear one child cry, “That’s not fair!” you can discuss with your child whether the end result is the same. Our son Mike, for example, needed to sit at a desk or table in a quiet place to do his homework. It drove him crazy that his brother, Rob, got away with lying on top of the coffee table in the living room listening to music while he did his. But both boys had to prove their way worked for them by handing in their completed homework assignments on time. Mike came to realize that his brother’s homework routine didn’t work for him.
Teach problem-solving skills
Few things are more annoying than dealing with children who meticulously keep track of each other’s behavior and report it to their parents. Although it seems to be a normal part of growing up, being known as a “tattletale” doesn’t make a child popular with anyone. In fact, constant tattling can drive a wedge in the sibling relationship. Reinforce to your children the value of overlooking minor faults and mistakes, encouraging them only to report urgent incidents.
Make sure your children know the definition of urgent. Questions they may ask themselves to determine if they need a parent’s involvement could include: Is someone hurt? Is this dangerous? Is a rule being broken that may lead to harm? This can create an awareness of what’s tattling and what’s not.
If you want to make your children aware of just how much they’re tattling on each other, you might want to use tickets as a tangible cue. Each child gets a specific number of tickets. (You can buy the standard roll of tickets at an office supply store or make your own.) Each time a child tattles on his or her sibling, one of the tickets must be surrendered. At the end of the week, offer a reward or special privilege for anyone who turns in unused tickets. This incentive encourages the child to resolve conflict without Mom’s and Dad’s intervention and to know the difference between minor infractions and unsafe behavior.
In the end, we want our children to have more memories of happy times than of conflict and strife. Although it won’t be possible to avoid all conflict, it’s worth the effort to foster an appreciation for each other’s differences as a foundation for the future.
Our boys are 20 years old now, and they’ve learned to appreciate how their differences complement each other. During their visits home from college, I love seeing them plan what they’re going to do together. Mike coordinates the logistics of the trip, and Rob plans their social engagements. They’ve learned to appreciate what makes each of them unique, and it’s made their friendship stronger.
How to Fight in Front of the Kids
We all fight in front of our kids. But are we doing it right? Read on to learn strategies for hashing things out in a way that won’t upset your children.
Nearly every weekend, Jennifer and Keith Yanowitz have the same old fight. “I can predict it,” says Jennifer, an advertising account manager in New York City and the mother of daughters Alexandra, 5, and Jordan, 3. “Keith and I take turns getting up with the girls around 7 a.m. so one of us can sleep late. When it’s my turn, I always make a healthy breakfast while the kids watch only a few minutes of TV,” she explains. “Then, we get dressed and read books or head to the playground. I like the girls to be busy and active in the morning.”
The scenario is a bit different when Dad’s in charge. “When I walk into the living room, the shades are drawn and the girls are still in their pajamas and wired because they’ve been glued to the TV for three hours,” Jennifer says. “Keith is working on his laptop and instead of a proper breakfast at the table, he has only given them a snack, like a few pieces of fruit.”
As far as Keith is concerned, one morning of hanging out isn’t a big deal. He tries to get his wife to lighten up, but she’s already shifted into drill-sergeant mode: “You’re kidding, right? We’re going out. Alexandra, get dressed. Jordan, try going to the potty.” Jennifer says that her husband is a terrific father and that most of the time they support each other. “But this is a real sore spot between us,” she admits. “We’ve discussed it, he promises not to do it — and nothing changes! It makes me crazy.” In a flash, their conversation escalates into a confrontation and the girls jump in too: “Mommy, Daddy, stop!” “The whole mood of the day shifts — and not in a good way,” says Jennifer.
Honestly, haven’t we all been there? At one time or another, most of us have found ourselves arguing with our partner in the presence of little ears. “It’s impossible to agree all the time — and wrong to pretend you do,” says Tovah P. Klein, Ph.D., director of the Barnard Center for Toddler Development in New York City.
The problem is, fighting in front of the kids affects them more than we realize. “Children are emotional Geiger counters,” says E. Mark Cummings, Ph.D., a psychologist at the University of Notre Dame, in South Bend, Indiana, and an expert in how family relationships affect child development. “Even 6-month-olds are acutely sensitive to all types of conflict between Mom and Dad — that includes bickering, hostility, and defensiveness, as well as physical fights.” A handful of studies have shown that blood pressure rises in infants when parents argue within earshot. They may not understand the words, but they register the conflict and try to figure out what it means.
In fact, new studies conducted jointly by Dr. Cummings’s team and researchers at the University of Rochester found that parents’ relationship with each other, and how they handle everyday conflicts, are critical for a child’s well- being. When parents get along well, a child’s sense of security deepens and he can confidently explore and learn about his world. “But frequent, unresolved fighting chips away at that confidence, triggering sadness, anxiety, and fear in children of all ages,” Dr. Cummings explains.
The Upside of Anger
On the other hand, children do learn positive lessons from parents’ arguments. “Kids need to know that even happy couples can disagree, and that anger is a normal legitimate emotion,” says Richard Gallagher, Ph.D., director of the Parenting Institute at New York University’s Child Study Center. Emily Terry, of Boston, reports that while she and her husband, Dave, try not to have “awful, mean fights” in front of their three kids, “animated discussions” do happen, like the recent one that had them bickering about where to put the new printer for their computer. “I want them to see that arguments are a part of life,” Terry explains. “It doesn’t mean that we don’t like each other or that we’re on the brink of divorce.”
Your fights can impact how your children handle their own anger too. “If they never learn to verbalize their true feelings, they may grow up squashing those feelings or believing that conflicts can never be resolved constructively,” explains psychologist Susan Heitler, Ph.D., a marriage and family therapist in Denver. When they hit a turbulent time in their future relationships, or disagree with a colleague or a boss, they won’t have the skills to untangle and resolve differences. And if you have all of your fights behind closed doors, or tell the kids, “We’re not fighting” when it’s clear that you are, they won’t learn to trust their own perceptions — or you, for that matter.
That doesn’t mean you must explain the issue at hand in exhaustive detail. “Daddy and I got angry at each other but we talked about it and figured it out” is sufficient. “You don’t have to iron out your differences in front of them,” says Dr. Gallagher, “but do take responsibility for the part you each played in any argument and make sure the children know that your quarrel wasn’t their fault.” If they can see that you’ve genuinely settled your differences, they’ll learn that arguments may be laced with hot emotion — but they can also lead to solutions.
The Good Fight
Lower your anger ceilings. “Each one of us, consciously or not, has a level of aggression we will tolerate in a relationship,” says Dr. Heitler. The key is to recognize the signals your body is sending before your conversation becomes excessively heated. Is your anger building up to a point where the conversation just isn’t going to be productive? Are you talking louder? Is your stomach churning? Your mind only focused on what your partner is doing wrong? Dial down the tension by taking a break: Get a drink of water, flip through a magazine — and resume the conversation when you feel calm again. If you’re in the car, or crunched for time, change the subject and come up with a plan to reconvene later. You may think your kids aren’t listening to your argument, but trust us: They are. So make an agreement with your spouse that if an argument pops up, you’ll both press the pause button.
Until you can continue the discussion, jot down the points you want to make. The simple act of writing can help organize your thoughts and bring clarity to an issue. You’ll be better prepared to speak calmly when you reopen the discussion.
Take issue with the behavior, not the person.
Always start a conversation using “I” statements that describe how you feel about something: “I get upset when you give the kids snacks right before dinner,” works better than “We’ve discussed this a thousand times! You never listen to me!” Stick to one topic at a time and, as you’ve heard before, delete the words “always” and “never” from your vocabulary. Generalizing puts your partner on the defensive, adding fuel to the fire.
Don’t force your kids to referee.
All they want is a cease-fire. “Children should never have to divide their loyalties,” cautions Dr. Gallagher. “When you start to hear, ‘Mommy, don’t be mad at Daddy,’ it’s a red flag that you need to tone it down.”
Don’t try to “win.”
Think of arguments as objectively as possible: They’re simply problems to be solved. When you respond respectfully to each other’s viewpoint, kids see that there’s more than one solution to a problem — and that compromise is not a bad thing.
Be sensitive to signs of kid stress.
Children, like adults, show their anxiety in different ways: Some withdraw when they hear or even sense conflict, covering their ears or eyes or running from the room. Some kids act out at home or school; still others rush to the defense of one parent or the other. Rather than becoming accustomed to the hostility, these children grow less resilient as time goes by. Headaches, stomachaches, or overeating are all clues that the fallout from your fights is affecting them.
How Your Child Sees the Argument
Babies and Toddlers
They tune in to your tone and body language as well as to the emotional undercurrent of the conversation. You may be engaged in a lively debate about health-care reform; your child only senses that the two people he loves most are yelling at each other. If you catch yourself doing this, slow down and lower your voice. Give a group hug, smile, and look your child in the eye as you say, “It’s okay! Mommy and Daddy still love each other.”
Kids this age may think they caused the dispute. Yes, they usually try hard to avoid blame, but there’s a bigger developmental force at work. “They’re ruled by magical thinking, and believe they’re the center of the universe,” says Dr. Klein. So they may think: “If only I didn’t bop my sister on the head, Mommy and Daddy wouldn’t be yelling.” Reassure them otherwise.
Children older than 5 or 6 will sometimes assume the worst — that you’re heading for divorce court — if quarrels go unresolved. Dr. Cummings found that kids in high-conflict homes may suffer from anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders. They can also have trouble paying attention in school and getting along with friends. Instead of trying to brush off a fight by saying, “Nothing’s wrong,” acknowledge the disagreement and report the resolution, if that’s possible. And when there is no resolution, don’t mislead your child, but explain that even working to resolve the issue helps everyone in the family.
Even The Experts Fight
You may find it comforting to know that sometimes even the experts don’t get it right. Dr. Klein recalls a recent heated argument with her husband about whether their 4-year-old son, Jesse, should stay home from preschool. “He woke up crying and insisted on staying home,” she explains. As she rushed around, getting everyone ready for the day, she debated the issue with her husband, a physician. “I didn’t think Jesse was really sick — I thought chances were good that what he actually needed was a mental-health day. Plus, having him stay home would require some serious maneuvering because we’d have to find a sitter to stay with him,” says Dr Klein. “But I figured it was better to be safe than sorry, since this was highly unsual behavior for a kid who loves school.”
Her husband didn’t agree. “Absolutely not,” he declared, loudly. “He should go to school.”
“What’s the big deal?” Dr. Klein countered even louder. After several minutes of “very spirited words,” the couple was able to amicably reach a decision: Jesse would go to work with Dr. Klein. “My husband and I agree about most things,” she explains. “But certain things just matter more to me than to him and vice versa. We’ve decided that when that happens, whoever cares the most about the issue gets his or her way.”
When You Might Need Professional Help
Sometimes, parents can agree to disagree. And sometimes they can’t. If the relationship you have isn’t the one you want, don’t settle and don’t continue to squash angry feelings. Talking to a professional — whether it’s a psychologist, a member of the clergy, or a marital therapist trained to work with couples — can help you find solutions to the problems that divide you. Counseling can also show you both how to recognize and acknowledge the parts you each play in the drama, provide a safe place to air feelings, and, most important, teach you strong communication skills. In fact, even good unions can benefit from checking in with a pro when you hit bumps, so you can get better at articulating your concerns and resolving your differences calmly when you see land mines ahead. In the end, you’ll be helping both yourselves and your children.
Conversations in front of kids must be simple and concrete, not angst-filled. Send this message: “Money is tight, but we have what we need to take care of you.”
Big Discipline Decisions
Presenting a united front preserves each parent’s relationship with a child, and it prevents her from playing one of you against the other. Set aside time to discuss important parenting decisions when the children are asleep.
Anything That’s a “Might”
As in “We might have to move” or “Dad might lose his job.” Don’t put them through it until you know for sure and have a plan.
Concerns About Your Child
Is he having trouble making friends? Is he still not reading? Discuss between yourselves or with the teacher or the school psychologist.
Issues You’ve Fought About Before
Learn from your mistakes! If you know that a topic is particularly touchy, make sure you talk about it when the kids aren’t around.
Your Sex Life or Your In-Laws
Money Milestones for Kids: An Age-by-Age Guide
Whether or not your child’s idea of a fun toy is a cash register and fake coins, the fact remains that as a parent, it’s your job to talk about financial responsibility with your kid.
But how young is too young to talk about budgeting or, say, credit reports? After all, we don’t want them to grow up and start hiding money under their futons.
We tapped Erica Sandberg, national personal finance expert and author of Expecting Money: The Essential Financial Plan for New and Growing Families, to help us lay out money milestones for every age.
“It’s important to remember that every child grows and matures at a different rate,” Sandberg says. “But if you stick with this general guideline, you’ll be off to a great start — and you won’t miss any important topics.”
Learn to Manage Your Finances in 10 Days
Age 3: Practice Waiting
At this age, kids should be learning about patience, and how to respond when they don’t get something they want right away. The simple lesson of delayed gratification will benefit them for the rest of their lives.
Activity: Tell your toddler that you’ll give him a cookie now if he wants it, but you’ll give him two cookies if he waits an extra ten minutes. See what he chooses and try to encourage him to wait for the extra cookie.
Lesson Learned: Be patient and wait for a bigger payoff, rather than always going for instant gratification.
Age 4: Go Over Counting
Your kid won’t understand the finances behind money at this age, but he should be good at counting and basic addition. So, this is the year to start linking those budding math skills to the concept of money.
Activity: Give your child a mix of coins and have her start by counting how many there are. Each week, introduce a new coin with its name (“this is called a quarter”) and have her practice picking it out of a pile. Once she’s learned all of the coin names, have her separate the pile into all of the different types, and keep growing the pile each week to escalate the challenge.
Lesson Learned: The names and sizes of each coin (plus math practice).
Age 5: Associate “No” With Spending
Kindergarten is when peer pressure starts to rear its ugly head, so stop the peer-inspired begging for stuff (“but Tommy has one!”) before it even starts.
Activity: Tell your kid that you can’t buy everything you want, so you have to choose the items that are most important to you. The next time your kid sees two things he wants at the store, make him choose just one. It can be just as hard for moms to say no as it is for kids to hear it.
Lesson Learned: It costs money to buy things, so you can’t always get everything you want.
Age 6: Start Giving Allowance
This is the year of “make it work.” Many experts advise starting kids with an allowance around age six, which means that if they want something just for fun, it’s up to them to save and figure out how they’ll get it.
Activity: Start giving your child an allowance on a weekly basis. The exact amount will vary depending on your situation and personal history, but a rule of thumb is a dollar per year of age, so you might want to start your kid with about $6 a week. Note that some experts say allowance shouldn’t be tied to chores: It’s a tool to teach your kid about managing money, not to pay her for household duties she should be doing anyway. Get answers to any other allowance questions you might have at LearnVest.com (see Resources below).
Lesson Learned: If you want something, figure out how much it will cost and save up.
More LearnVest.com Resources:
Answers to Your Every Allowance Question
Age 7: “What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?”
This is about the age when teachers start to ask kids what they want to be when they grow up. That makes this a good time to talk to your child about career and work. You should cover the fact that, though you go to work to earn money, if you’re lucky, you also enjoy it. Try to instill positive feelings toward work and earning an income.
Activity: Ask your kid what he wants to be someday, and have him draw a picture representing his dream job. Do this activity with him, sketching out a picture of you and your job (it doesn’t need to be artistic). Explain what you do at work, why you chose that field and why you like it.
Lesson Learned: People work to make money, but they should try to choose their jobs based on what they enjoy.
Age 8: Show What Household Things Cost
By this age, your kid’s understanding of addition and subtraction should be advanced enough that she can easily understand the broad concept of money coming in and going out. So, this is a good age to explain that, although you make money at work, you have to spend some of it on bills.
Activity: From now on, let your child sit next to you while you pay the bills. These numbers — especially rent or mortgage — will be too big for her to thoroughly comprehend, but you can let her help you with some of the math operations to balance your checkbook, like adding up the cents column in your transaction ledger.
Lesson Learned: Adults have to pay bills, but that’s not a problem as long as they save up money from their paychecks.
Age 9: Open a Savings Account
By age 9, kids are old enough (and self-possessed enough) to understand the concept of saving money for items they need and want. This is the right age not only to set up a savings account but also to include your kid in the action so he feels ownership over it.
Activity: Open a custodial savings account with about $30 (see Resources below), and tell him you’ve done so. Don’t let him withdraw money at will — if he wants to save up for a big purchase like a bike, he should talk to you about it — but tell him that you’ll take him to the bank to make deposits whenever he wants. For every dollar he contributes, consider offering to match it. For more tips to get your kid interested in saving, visit LearnVest.com (see Resources below).
Lesson Learned: It’s fun to save money!
More LearnVest.com Resources:
What You Need to Know About Custodial Savings Accounts
Kids and Money: How Do We Teach Children to Save?
Age 10: Teach the Truth About Cards
By the time your kid is in late elementary school, she’ll almost certainly hear people mention credit cards. Before she takes in misinformation or bad habits from her peers, teach her constructive (and correct) information about the different kinds of cards and accounts people have.
Activity: Take all of your cards out of your wallet and go over which one is for debit, which is for credit, etc. Explain the differences between them. Then, when you’re at the grocery store, let her swipe your card for you. Point out what that means for your money: If it’s a debit card, she’s deducting money from your checking account. If it’s a credit card, you might want to say something like, “Swiping this equals borrowing money from the company that gave it to me — if I don’t pay it back on time, they’ll charge me extra, but I always pay it back on time!”
Lesson Learned: How debit and credit cards work, and the importance of always paying back credit cards in full and on time.
Age 11: Immunize Against Advertising
Middle school is an era that’s all about fitting in. At this age, kids are getting a ton of messages from all over the place, all about how they should do or buy certain things to be “cool.” Take this time to bring your kid back to earth.
Activity: Go through a magazine together and point out how many different ads there are for different brands. Take guesses at how much those advertisers paid for those ads, and explain that they’re trying to manipulate the emotions of consumers to get them to buy more. Even things that are trendy are often cool because advertisers paid to make them seem cool. Do the same thing whenever you watch TV.
Lesson Learned: Don’t fall for the brand-name trap.
Age 12: Demonstrate Wise Purchases
As children start to reach puberty, they should start preparing to make their own wise purchasing decisions. Plus, within a few years they’ll start settling into more adult sizes, so they should start discerning when to go cheap and when to buy quality items — and how to identify that quality.
Activity: Take your kid shopping. At the store, point out a cheaply-made object and a higher quality alternative. Explain how you tell the difference (the feel of fabric and cut; reputable brands, etc.) and when you choose the cheapest option or higher quality item. If you feel strongly about buying sustainable or eco-conscious products, explain what that means, how to identify those labels and why you’re willing to sometimes spend more on them. (See Resources below to read a guide to conscious consumerism.)
Lesson Learned: Price isn’t always the determining factor in buying decisions — the key is to choose smart purchases rather than just the nicest or the cheapest.
More LearnVest.com Resources:
Shop for Good: Your Guide to Conscious Consumerism
Age 13: Interact With the Stock Market
By now your kid will recognize these words when she hears them, either on the news or at school. Too many adults feel a total lack of confidence around money, so get your child in the habit of asking for clarification on financial concepts she doesn’t understand rather than simply nodding along. Start by making this hard topic accessible.
Activity: Tell your kid, “I invest my money in the stock market to help it grow; in the short term, there’s the risk of losing money, but over the long-term it’s one of the best ways to make the most of my money.” Show her a historical graph of the S&P 500 (you don’t have to tell her that name — you can just call it “the market” for now) so she can see that, although the numbers sometimes dip, they tend to rise over time. If you want more guidance on these topics yourself, check out the LearnVest.com weekly newsletter, The Market by LearnVest (see Resources below).
Lesson Learned: How the stock market works, what it is and why people invest in it.
More LearnVest.com Resources:
Get the Free, Weekly LearnVest.com Newsletter: The Market
Age 14: Make Your Kid Work
At this age, young teens start going out with their friends and spending money more independently than before. Allowance might no longer cover everything your kid wants, so, if that’s the case, make him work for it.
Activity: Whether it’s by babysitting or mowing neighbors’ lawns, let your kid feel his own power to make money and the freedom that comes from making his own spending decisions with that money. Emphasize the point with specific examples of how everything you buy can be measured with time. For example, if your teen wants a $120 sweater, explain that he’d have to babysit for 12 hours at $10 per hour to afford it.
Lesson Learned: You have to work in order to get what you want… but if you do make money, you have a lot more options.
Age 15: Open a Checking Account
Open up a checking account for your kid as early as you beileve she’ll be able to handle it. If she’s responsible by nature, now’s a good time to open an account where she can store her money and write checks. Do not add money to this account for her. She should seed this account from her savings or money from her after school job.
Activity: For her to have an account in her name, you’ll need to be a cosigner. You may need to sit down with a bank official to explain that you’d like to teach your kid financial independence as early as possible. Although you’re a cosigner, let her know that she’ll suffer her own consequences if she overspends from this account. Have her write checks for costs like her student activity fees, and sit down with her monthly to balance her checkbook.
Lesson Learned: How to keep an eye on the bigger financial picture — and how to manage a checking account.
Age 16: Finding Balance
Junior year of high school is a pivotal time. Teens tend to be incredibly busy: sports, extracurricular activities, community service projects, AP classes. This is a good time for them to learn how not to lose their heads. After all, adults can also be overwhelmed by trying to balance work, outside projects and a personal life. And finances are often one of the first things to be pushed aside when you’re under stress.
Activity: If you suspect your teen is becoming overwhelmed, set aside an afternoon to find a solution. Make some hot chocolate, bake some cookies and go over his activity schedule together. Figure out whether he can shift around any obligations, and whether his schedule is unhealthily busy. Talk about how he handles stress, and what he does to relax.
Lesson Learned: Everyone has limits, and you can push only so far. Money is great, but it’s worthless if you’re not leading a balanced life.
Age 17: Explain Credit Reports
Your teen may be getting ready to go to college, but even if she isn’t, she’ll need to understand the ideas behind credit. Go over this with her now, before the bad habits of her peers get ingrained in her.
Activity: Look up her credit report and score with her online (even if she doesn’t have any credit yet, it’s a good exercise to show her the steps involved — if that’s the case, you can just look up your own score). For a step-by-step checklist on how to do that, go to LearnVest.com (see Resources below). Ensure she understands the importance of keeping her credit score high by paying off every bill in full and on time. She’ll need to develop good credit to eventually get loans for things she wants, like a house or a car, and it takes many years to develop a good track record.
Lesson Learned: How to check your credit report and score, and why they’re important.
More LearnVest.com Resources:
Check My Credit Report and Score
Age 18: Decide on Student or General Loans
Before your teen heads off to college or into the working world, he needs to fully understand how loans work — he’s borrowing money to use now, but he’ll be paying interest on that money even while he pays it back. You’ve already covered credit reports; follow up that lesson with the importance of always paying account minimums, and, whenever possible, even more than that.
Activity: Sit down together to go over student loans (see Resources below). Talk about whether your young adult will be taking on this financial burden, and whether you’ll be helping. Both of you should understand the terms of any and all loans before signing them. For example, verify that he doesn’t accept any student loans that start charging interest while he’s still in college. Together, come up with a solid plan for saving money while in college and repaying those loans afterward. You can find more info on student loans from www.finaid.org/loans.
Lesson Learned: Student loans can be a huge burden, and the worst thing to do would be to bomb your credit score in the process. Before entering into a loan agreement, make sure you understand all of the ins and outs, and that you’re choosing the best loans for your needs.
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.
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.
How should a single parent talk to a child about separation or divorce?
Many single-parent families are the result of divorce or separation. If this is the case in your family, talk to your child about the changes you’re facing. Listen to your child’s feelings and try to answer his or her questions honestly — avoiding unnecessary details or negativity about the other parent. Remind your child that he or she did nothing to cause the divorce or separation and that you’ll always love him or her.
A counselor might be able to help you and your child talk about problems, fears or concerns. Try to regularly communicate with your child’s other parent about your child’s care and well-being to help him or her adapt.
How can a single parent handle dating?
If you’re dating, consider the impact your new romantic partner will have on your child. Look for a partner who will treat both you and your child with respect. Consider waiting until you’ve established a solid relationship with someone before introducing him or her to your child.
When you’re ready to make the introduction, explain to your child some of your new partner’s positive qualities. Don’t expect your new partner and your child to become close immediately, however. Give them time to get to know each other.
How can a single parent address the lack of a male or female parental role model for a child?
If your child’s other parent isn’t involved in his or her life, you might worry about the lack of a male or female parental role model in your child’s life. To send positive messages about the opposite sex:
Look for opportunities to be positive. Point out accomplishments or positive characteristics of members of the opposite sex in your family, the community or even the media. Avoid making broad, negative statements about the opposite sex.
Contradict negative stereotypes about the opposite sex. Share an example of a member of the opposite sex who doesn’t fit the stereotype.
Include in your life members of the opposite sex who aren’t romantic partners. Seek out positive relationships with responsible members of the opposite sex who might serve as role models for your child. Show your child that it’s possible to have long-term, positive relationships with members of the opposite sex.
Being a single parent can be a challenging but rewarding experience. By showing your love and respect, talking honestly and staying positive, you can lessen the stress of single parenting and help your child thrive.
12 Tips for Working Mothers by Working Mothers
Whether you work by choice or out of necessity, send your child to day care or hire a nanny –every working mom needs to do what’s right for her, learning as she goes. We talked to five working moms about their personal do’s and don’ts. While no one can say they’ve mastered the craft of juggling their career, motherhood and everything in between (can anyone, really?) — they all believe they can learn from each other, one triumph (or mistake!) at a time.
Tips for Staying Organized
Get a good planner. Having a plan is key, according to mom of two, Jennifer Williams and soon-to-be mom of two, Beth Anne Ballance. From making daily lists of meetings and tasks, to putting your husband’s and kids’ schedules in a shared online calendar, to planning out your meals for the week, having a plan where you can see it not only helps you stay organized, but it gives you an idea of when you’ll need to enlist some help.
Make dinner the night before. Maija, who is a mom of three and just moved 1,800 miles from family, says she regularly cooks the night before so that at 5:30PM the next day, all she has to do is re-heat. Another idea? Make friends with your slow cooker.
Have a back up. Camille Langston, who spent four years as a single parent, suggests that every working mother find at least 3 different people (friends, family, neighbors, etc.) that are willing to be a backup in times of emergencies. After all, you never know when someone might be sick or if your current sitter cancels.
Tips for Conquering the Guilt
Present some ground rules at work. Working mom of three, Meredith Soleau, suggests telling your boss that you need to make it to all school functions, no matter what. Making it clear that your family is a priority from the start can help open up conversations down the road.
Don’t go to the mall/park at lunch. Maija says that while getting out of the office for lunch may be a welcome treat, seeing those stay-at-home/on-maternity-leave-moms enjoying their days with the kids just adds to her working mom guilt.
Focus on the positive. No matter how many hours you put in at the office, chances are you’re plagued with guilt, says Langston. Accept the fact that your children still recognize you as their mother and love you as such. You can take part in assuring that “the village” supports you in this as well.
Tips for Staying Sane
Turn to other working moms. While her husband worked as a police officer, Maija counted on the understanding of fellow cop wives to help her cope with being home alone with the kids during his shift. She says that having a network of people who understand your situation can be a great source of sanity.
Be flexible. Both Soleau and Williams agree that that most important piece of advice for working moms is to be prepared for anything. No matter how much you plan, something will come up that you weren’t expecting (“practice will be canceled…someone will puke!”), so be prepared to ditch your plan — and most importantly — go with the flow.
Slow down. Take an extra five minutes to pick up a latte or call a friend. Ballance says that, like many working mothers, she struggles with being a workaholic, so even something as small as a longer shower helps her feel recharged.
Tips for Maintaining Relationships
Thank your village. All of the working moms we interviewed agree that thanking the people you depend on is crucial. Treat your nanny well, pay the babysitter well, accept help from your family with a smile, and as often as you can, find special ways to show your thanks to the people who help your household run.
Check in on your kids. When you’re away from your kids for so much of the day, Langston says she believes in sending a text, email or even making a quick phone call to her kids. Not only will it brighten their day, but Langston says it makes her feel more connected.
Make some memories. Langston suggests taking a surprise vacation day once a quarter, if your work allows. Spend the day with the kids, rekindle that relationship and make some fun memories!
Trends in Child Care
Child care is evolving, and most care providers and parents agree the changes are for the best. What are some of the latest trends in child care and what should parents be looking for when making an all-important child care decision?
1Child Care Is Catering to Budget-Minded Families
More parents are taking a careful look at child care costs, and decisions to reduce hours or even pull their kids out of organized programs entirely due to job losses or expenses are affecting child care providers as well. As a result, more providers are offering flexible hours, keeping rates the same or even reducing them in some cases, and working out pay arrangements for struggling families to encourage families to stay. Special programs or fees are also being scrutinized as providers scramble to find ways to lessen costs while maintaining a quality care program for kids.
2 Child Care is Now Early Education
No longer is child care for young children simply babysitting. Child care centers have mostly transitioned to centers for early education, where young tots are involved with early learning. The trend to learning centers is partly due to high parent and school expectations; it’s also attributable to research that shows that kids are capable of learning early academics and other skills that previously were not taught until later. Care centers often offer formalized early education curriculum, and staff receives extensive training in instruction geared for preschoolers.
3 Drop-In Child Care is More Common
It’s no surprise that drop-in child care is on the grow. What may come as a surprise to some is that these facilities typically offer high-quality, safe, and affordable care options. The drop-in care facilities focus on fun activities for kids and often include mealtimes and special theme events to provide parents with a worry-free evening or time away from kids. Gyms, recreation centers, churches and even schools are getting into the act of offering Parent Nights Out or similar events. Look for this trend to continue with even greater flexibility in the future.
4 Corporate Child Care is Raising Quality Bar
Corporate child care is raising the bar in terms of quality child care. An increasing number of companies are either offering (or considering) in-house child care centers as a perk for attracting and retaining top employees. In addition, more companies are partnering with child care centers to offer discounted rates or even special hours for employees. Some developers are even focusing on including a child care facility as part of master planning of new areas, knowing that having a quality child care center nearby will make the area more desirable for both employers and employees alike.
5 Technology is Changing Provider/Parent Connection
An increasing number of facilities offer parents the piece of mind of being able to check on their child while at daycare as desired through video streaming of classroom activities throughout the day. Other providers regularly take photos of children and send to parents, post daily or weekly blogs or e-newsletters online for parents to view, or even exchange emails or text messages throughout the day. The technology provides parents and providers with another tool for staying “in touch” and bonding with activities and events planned for youngsters.
6 Most Child Care is Becoming Safer
While no system is absolutely fail safe, and occasional stories will continue to occur about child pornographers or sex offenders found to be working around children, the truth is that most child care providers are increasing measures to protect children in their charge. Increased security concerning picking up of children, additional background checks and screenings being done on prospective employees, and more surveillance and monitoring (both overt as well as the covert varieties) are helping to increase safety. Training and more thorough checklists is also helping to keep kids safer on field trips and outings.
7 More Child Care Options Exist
Parents today can consider a wider menu of child care choices, and many families are choosing to use a variety of care options based on current needs. Some families may use a nanny for an infant, an in-home provider for a toddler, and then switch to a care center for a preschooler. Some families use one type of care during the school year and then another for summer months. Occasional care service options can include babysitters, drop-in care, specified parent night out nights, and even child care co-ops. Options do abound in most areas, although sometimes you have to really seek them out.
8 The Internet Can Help You Find Child Care
Word of mouth or driving around a neighborhood used to be the most common way to find child care. Today, however, many families, especially those who have moved to a new community, rely on the internet to find quality child care. Many websites offer free listings of child care; most states have a child care site for review as well. Web-based babysitting and child care services are on the increase, and parents can type in a zip code and find providers who meet the specifications designated. Entrepreneurs are increasingly advertising availability for child care as well. Of course, nothing replaces reference checks.
9 Communications Are More Frequent, More Useful
In today’s instantaneous, “tell me now” society, communications between child care provider and parent continue to strengthen. Where once a month newsletters used to suffice in addition to daily greetings and goodbyes, child care providers are using a variety of tools to provide parents with ongoing information about their child’s day. Some providers create websites where they post monthly menus, weekly day-by-day activities, and even behavioral reports. Others provide parents with a daily update that is then emailed (written during naptime). Even with technology, face-to-face communications is still the best.
10 Child Care Caters to Time-Crunched, Working Parents
Have you noticed how more and more child care centers are offering enrichment options for tots to participate in while still at child care? Parents nowadays are busier than ever, yet want their child to participate in an array of activities at the same time. The solution for some is to sign kids up for optional fee-based ballet, karate, soccer and gymnastics classes that kids participate in during the week while still in care. The instructor comes to the facility rather than the other way around. This type of option may not be for everyone, but it works for those who are very busy or have long commutes each day.
11 Vacation Destinations, Kid-Friendly Hotels Offering On-Site Care
In order to entice parents to stay at a particular hotel or area, many resorts and tourist-based communities have added on-site or close proximity child care. While some facilities may have pricey fees for kids to participate, others are free and include crafts, special movie nights, field trips and more. As tempting as it can be, make sure you thoroughly check out the facility and are comfortable with the rules, safety procedures, staff training, health practices, and activities planned for the kids. If everything checks out: have fun!
12 After-School Programs and Care Provide Child Care Flexibility
Choosing a quality after-school care program can have a tremendous impact on your child’s academics, self-esteem and overall happiness. Many daycares transport school-aged children from school back to the center, provide a healthy snack, and then start kids on their homework, so that it is mostly done by the time parents arrive. Some schools have on-site programs as well to avoid kids going home to an empty house until parents get off work.
To read more go to the link above.
Bye, Bye, Baby: Leaving Your Baby With a Sitter For the First Time
As your social and work schedules return to normal, you’re probably going to have to have a sitter take care of baby, at least when grandma and grandpa are busy. This may bring about a normal, yet emotional reaction, in you known as “The Babysitter Blues.” Read on for some tips on how to handle this transition.
Your baby is ready for sitter when you are. For many parents, this is when a baby is about six months old. If it’s longer for you, that’s fine. Just like your child, you may need to take baby steps towards independence:
Start out small. Work up to leaving for extended periods of time. Hire a mother’s helper to watch the baby for half an hour to an hour while you go upstairs to dress, bathe, cook dinner, or do the laundry.
Next, try longer visits. Take an hour or two to walk and exercise with the dog, go to a yoga class or hair appointment, or do errands and shopping.
Eventually, you’ll be ready for a half day, day, or evening out away from your child. Only you and your partner will know when this time arrives, and that’s OK.
Preparing the sitter or mother’s helper
When you’re ready to hire outside help, follow these easy steps:
Do an initial phone interview, and then follow up with a face-to-face one so you can assess the caregiver in person. See how she interacts with your child. Be sure to carefully check all references.
On the first day she’s scheduled to work, ask her to come over a half hour before you leave. This way your child can see you interact with the sitter, and sitter and child can become acquainted.
Show the sitter where your list of emergency contact information is. Tell her the circumstances under which she should call you, a neighbor, a doctor, and so on.
Point out the food and drinks she can help herself to. (If you have a cake that’s for tomorrow’s office party, let her know it’s off limits, etc.)
Give her a list of activities that will divert your child’s attention in the minutes right after you leave.
When you’re ready to go, do so swiftly. Don’t dawdle.
The bottom line
If you take your time and communicate carefully, you’ll grow to find peace of mind when you leave your child with a sitter. Both you and your child will find fuller, richer lives through independence and meaningful relationships with the right child care providers.
Living with a Whirlwind
Jack Rosen is just 3 years old and barely 3 feet tall, but he has enough energy to fuel a turbine — and then some. There’s never a dull moment around Jack.
Not long ago, when he was out with his mom, he spotted a fire alarm in a public building, and, before anyone could stop him, he scampered up a landing and set it off. The scene that followed was pretty dramatic.
“I was mortified,” says his mother, Robin, of Atlanta. “Trying to keep up with this child is exhausting.”
Living with a whirlwind of a toddler can be trying, but it’s actually a common challenge: Kids this age have lots of physical energy — and a great sense of curiosity that drives it. “The world is very stimulating for 2- and 3-year-olds, and they love to explore,” says Parents advisor Kyle D. Pruett, MD, clinical professor of child psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine. They’re also pretty agile, so they can get where they want to go — sometimes surprisingly quickly.
It’s Fun to Run
The reason toddlers love to race around is simple: It feels good. “As adults, we forget what it’s like to acquire a new skill,” says Dr. Pruett. “If your world were just starting to open up, would you pass up an opportunity to check it out?” You, however, might not find this stage of childhood quite as enchanting. But toddlers aren’t being “bad” or purposely trying to make your life difficult. The 2-year-old who runs off to chase a bird at the park isn’t intentionally defying you.
“Toddlers don’t have the self-control or the cognitive ability to stop doing things they enjoy,” says Susan J. Schwartz, clinical director of the Institute for Learning and Academic Achievement at the New York University Child Study Center. What’s more, as they begin to realize that they’re unique individuals, they are also testing limits. In trying to figure out how the world works, they question (“I wanna pet the dog across the street. Can I make it over there?”), make predictions (“Yep, probably”), and experiment (“Well, I’ll try it and find out”).
Reining ‘Em In
While it’s important to encourage your toddler’s exuberance and to give him room to explore, it’s also critical to teach him that sometimes he simply needs to settle down.
Batten down the hatches. By now, you’ve probably childproofed your home, but this is a good time to recheck everything: Are electrical outlets covered with plugs that your child can’t pry off? Are windows securely guarded and the cords short and out of reach? Do you have temperature controls on faucets and safety latches and locks on cabinets and drawers? Think beyond the basics too. Can your 3-year-old move a kitchen stool and use it to climb onto a countertop? Is there a bookcase that your agile child kid could scale — and topple? Of course, you can’t rearrange all your furniture, but if you scope out danger spots, you can close doors or watch your child more carefully when he’s around them.
Let her loose. Toddlers need to roam so they can develop confidence in their abilities, so make sure they have plenty of time to be a little noisy and wild and let off steam. “When a toddler can run around safely, it’s easier for you to relax,” says Dr. Pruett. So just as you schedule “quiet time,” carve out lots of “active time” when your child can bang pots and pans together, jump on an air mattress, or toss around a ball. Follow that up with a low-key activity to help her calm down.
Be prepared. When you do need to rein in your toddler, make it easier by announcing your expectations in advance. Be positive: Instead of, “You can’t run away from me when we’re walking to the park,” say “You need to hold my hand until we get to the playground, and then you can play on the swings.” When running errands, always bring toys along to keep your child occupied. At the supermarket, have him “help” you by holding a few small items or pointing out the color red whenever he sees it.
Expect meltdowns. Energetic toddlers are prone to tantrums when they get worked up, so be prepared. Don’t make too big a deal out of them. Instead, acknowledge your child’s feelings (“I know you feel angry that we have to end a playdate”). Then, redirect her attention to something else or move her to a different location. If that doesn’t work, try to soothe her with a warm bath or a calming CD.
How to Travel with a Toddler
Taking a plane trip with an energetic toddler can be a real challenge. Be prepared for these common tantrum triggers.
The fear factor. Go over in advance will happen at the airport and on the plane. Don’t forget to discuss what you’ll encounter at security checkpoints. If a child gets frightened by uniformed guards and frustrated by the long lines, that can start things off on a bad note.
Boredom and hunger. Bring healthy snacks, such as raisins, cheese sticks, dry cereal, and animal crackers. Load a backpack with favorite toys, books, and crayons. Active kids thrive on novelty, so wrap up a few new trinkets.
Boarding too fast. Although many airlines offer priority boarding for passengers with young kids, don’t rush to get on the plane. There may be delays both on the runway and in the air, and your child doesn’t need to be cooped up any longer than necessary.
Too much sitting. When it’s safe, walk the aisles with your child. Don’t worry about annoying other passengers — pacing is better than letting your child scream. If your toddler has a meltdown, apologize to fellow travelers. But remind yourself that every parent on board knows what you’re going through.
Hyper to Mellow in Three Steps
Get close. Look your child in the eye and hold her firmly by the shoulder as you speak to her.
Keep it simple. Now’s not the time to explain why her actions are dangerous. Just say “No running” or “No climbing” in a gentle but no-nonsense voice.
Give her a say. If possible, offer options. (“Do you want to hold my hand or hold onto the stroller?” or “Do you want to play on the swings or the slide?”)
Favoritism and Other Family Issues During the Holidays
Nothing causes more strife in families than the issue of favoritism, and the holidays are a particularly tricky time of year for grandparents who try not to play favorites. Two issues are responsible for most holiday discord: gift-giving and dividing up holiday time. Clear communication among family members is key.
Gift-Giving and Avoiding Favoritism
Typical grandparents are expected to give gifts to their grandchildren, all carefully selected to delight the recipients. Also they are expected to not to show favoritism in their gift-giving. That the recipients may vary widely in ages, needs and wants is not supposed to be a significant barrier, but sometimes it is.
Grandparents should decide on their gifting strategy well in advance of the holidays and let their families know what to expect. Ideas to consider include:
Spending approximately the same amount on each child and grandchild. This is the strategy used by most grandparents, but it does present a few problems.
Do give gifts that are age-appropriate.
Since most toys are designed for a particular age level, this directive would seem to be an easy one to follow. It’s not. Grandparents often believe that their grandchildren are more advanced than others their age, so they choose gifts designed for older children. That would be okay, except that age designations are also made with safety in mind. Gifts for older children, for example, often have small parts that can be hazardous to little ones, or frustrating for them to keep up with. At the opposite end of the spectrum, choosing a too-babyish gift for a grandchild shows that you haven’t been paying close attention.
Don’t give toys that require a lot of space or particular care.
Consider the family’s living arrangements when buying toys. Large toys such as swing sets or playhouses aren’t good choices for families who live in small spaces or for those who must move frequently. Toys that require a lot of supervision, such as chemistry sets, aren’t optimal for families with crowded schedules.
Ask before giving noisy toys.
Giving the grandchildren a drum kit may your idea of an appropriate payback, but your grandchildren’s parents may not be amused. Check with them before giving musical gifts. When buying electronic toys, check for a volume control, or listen to the sounds to make sure they are not too annoying.
Do read the reviews before you buy.
Whether you are shopping in a store or online, reading the reviews can tell you whether a toy is the right fit for a particular child. If you’re shopping in a store, just use your smart phone to check reviews. You’ll have to look beyond the number of stars, however, and don’t put too much stock in one or two reviews, whether glowing or negative.
Consider the parents’ values and parenting philosophies.
Those who follow slow parenting or green parenting, for example, may not want their children to have toys that require batteries. Many parents do not approve of toy guns. Some disapprove of traditional toy guns but will allow Nerf guns. If you don’t know enough about the parenting philosophies that guide your grandchildren’s households, start the conversation.
Consider what the grandchildren want.
It’s a good strategy to ask the grandchildren what they want, but it’s wise to let them know that you reserve the right to choose a different gift. There are times when it’s best to say no to a grandchild’s gift request. And not just when they ask for a pony.
Don’t play favorites; have a plan and stick to it.
If one child or one family has a greater need than the others, it may be okay to give more to that child or that family. Perhaps you want to spend more on the older grandchildren than on the younger, on the principle that gifts for teens typically cost more than toys for toddlers. That is your choice, but let everyone know about the discrepancy in advance. Nothing plays havoc with celebrations more than the taint of perceived favoritism during the holidays.
Do consider the kids’ personalities.
Some of my granddaughters like anything that is pink and sparkly; another one asked for a boys’ bike because of her dislike of anything feminine or fussy. I have a different issue with one of my grandsons who does not enjoy getting gifts that are “off the list,” although he may learn to like such gifts later on. If I give him a surprise gift, I have to pair it with a gift that is exactly what he asked for. Others of my grandchildren delight in getting surprises. To handle gift-giving occasions with grace, grandparents need a understanding of their grandchildren that goes far beyond what size they wear.
Perhaps there was a time when grandchildren would cherish anything given to them by a grandparent. This is not that time, at least not in most families. If you observe your grandchildren closely, you will know whether you are hitting or missing the mark. If you are consistently missing it, maybe it’s time to consider the gift card after all.
Parenting a Preteen or Teen
Being the parent or guardian of a preteen or teen is not as scary as it sounds! Most of the time they are struggling to be independent and to fit in at school, at home, and with friends. Keep in mind that helping your preteen or teen to become an adult takes time, patience, and a commitment. There is no such thing as an instant adult!
There are two things to remember: preteens and teens need lots of love. They need a caring adult to help shape their moral compass and give them support during these difficult transitional years.
Tips for Parents and Guardians
Setting Limits and Boundaries
Communicating with Your Preteen or Teen
Tips for Parents and Guardians
Let your child know that you love him or her no matter what. Preteens and teens need a trusting and loving relationship with a parent or other adult to feel safe and secure.
Talk to your preteen or teen – listen to his or her ideas and opinions, and do things together.
Get to know your child’s friends and learn what they do in school; it helps you understand your preteen or teen even better.
Show you care by chaperoning a trip.
Join a parent group or support group where you and other parents can discuss parenting issues.
Attend all parent-teacher conferences at school.
Go to your child’s athletic events and school musicals.
Answer your child’s questions about health risks.
Teach your child to respect himself or herself and others.
Challenge your preteen to discover his or her own incredible potential.
Show your preteen or teen that you are proud of his or her accomplishments, both large and small.
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Setting Limits and Boundaries
Establish limits and boundaries such as: curfews, study hours, behavior at parties, and expectations for special occasions.
Define the consequences of unacceptable behavior – make sure your preteen or teen understands the consequences and then stick to them.
Recognize that some limits are negotiable and others are not.
Guide your preteen or teen toward choices that will keep him or her safe.
While preteens and teens may fight with parents about some decisions, they usually realize that the limits placed on them are a sign of love, rather than control.
Monitor your child’s behavior – what he or she says and does, where he or she goes and with whom, and when to expect him or her home.
Redefine your limits of control over your child’s life as he or she starts to think and act more mature. Otherwise you risk some major problems in your relationship.
Monitor your own behavior – what you say, what you do, and what you believe. Your behavior will make a huge difference in the choices your preteen or teen makes.
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Communicating with Your Preteen or Teen
Be honest and open with your preteen or teen when talking about your values, beliefs, and ideas. It may be wise to just say, “Here is what I think about…,” – briefly explain your views, and then drop the subject.
Help your preteen or teen to make responsible choices by talking about their options.
Tell your preteen or teen if you are disappointed or upset with his or her behavior.
Praise, hug, encourage, and say, “I love you.”
Express your expectations for his or her goals and accomplishments.
Recognize that your child’s life may be very different from your own adolescence.
Your preteen or teen deserves guidance, high but realistic expectations for achievement, and a fair balance between rules and freedom.
How Can You Raise a Clean Teen?
It’s possible to get your teenager to help keep the house clean — it just takes patience
What’s the biggest source of conflict with your teenage son or daughter? For many parents, it’s not dating or broken curfews or bad grades – it’s cleaning.
For them, the most ferocious arguments will typically have a mundane source — a wet coat thrown on the couch, a backpack left in the middle of the hallway. Your teens get sick of being nagged; you get sick of nagging. Even after the fight ends, a cold war ensues — weeks of dramatic sighs, surly stares, and eye rolling.
Some parents give up on the cleaning battle, despairing of ever getting their kids to pick up after themselves. Others start up a campaign of constant aggression, with lots of demands and threats and yelling. Neither approach is likely to help things much, says Charles Wibbelsman, MD, chairman of the chiefs of adolescent medicine for Kaiser Permanente of Northern California and co-author of The Teenage Body Book.
The good news is that Wibbelsman and other experts say that raising a clean teen – or at least a not-excessively-sloppy teen — is possible. It will take some forethought and consistency on your part, and perhaps some changes in your behavior and expectations. But done right, the payoff is big: a better relationship with your teen and a cleaner home.
Raising a Clean Teen: Changing Expectations
Many parents just don’t understand why cleaning house has to be such a big deal. Why is it so hard for a teenager to pick up a towel from the bathroom floor, after all? But it’s not just about the towel, or the dirty dishes, or the unmade bed. Wibbelsman says that there’s often a pretty basic reason behind conflicts over cleaning.
“Your kids are growing up,” he tells WebMD. “Your kids aren’t just kids anymore.” They’re a few years from adulthood and they’re desperate for more independence. The parent-child relationship that worked pretty well for so long is now feeling a little constrictive.
So what can you do, now that your authority might not carry the weight it once did? You might need to give your kids more of the control that they want, Wibbelsman says. But you also need to tie that adult freedom with a sense of adult responsibility. That’s the exchange.
“Parents need to respect an adolescent’s need for independence and individuality,” says Wibbelsman. “But adolescents need to have some respect for their parents’ ground rules. It is their house, after all.”
So you impose some standards and requirements, while also granting your teens more control over how their rooms look, or how they dress, or what bumper stickers they put on their cars. Allowing them more self-expression and self-determination could really help them feel happier, improve your relationship, and make it easier to agree on cleaning issues.
What’s the alternative? If you insist on controlling things too tightly, your teens could feel like you’re stifling their personalities. That could poison your relationship and — obviously — make them fiercely resistant to working with you on keeping things clean around the house.
Teen Cleaning Tips
So what are some of the ways you can put this philosophy into practice? Here are some ideas.
Adjust your expectations. Face it: you won’t be able to get your teens to do all the chores you want them to do. In fact, the more tasks you pile on, the less likely they’ll do any of them, says Tanya Remer Altmann, MD,a pediatrician and author of Mommy Calls and The Wonder Years.
So decide what’s really essential to you and what you’re willing to let slide. “Maybe your teen is refusing to make her bed every day and you’re always fighting about it,” says Altmann. “You might want to take a step back.” Does a made bed really matter to you that much? Maybe not. However, some other tasks – like bringing dirty dishes to the sink – could be absolute requirements in your book.
Come to an agreement. Once you know what you want, sit down and talk. “Negotiate with your teen a little,” says Altmann. “Come up with a cleaning plan that both parent and teen are comfortable with.” Sure, it might not be either party’s ideal, but it’s better than the never-ending argument.
Be absolutely clear. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that your kids will know what you mean when you say, “Clean your room.” What qualifies as “clean,” exactly? Picked up? Vacuumed and dusted? Or just a bit less disgusting than it is now? The answer might seem obvious to you – it might seem like common sense — but it might not be to them.
“If you were hiring a new employee, you wouldn’t just tell them, ‘Do a good job,’” says Wibbelsman. “You’d have a job description. You’d have a list of specific objectives.” It’s no different when you’re talking to your kids about their cleaning responsibilities, Wibbelsman says. You need to come up with a list of specifics. That way, you all know exactly what “clean” means – and there’s less room for miscommunication and argument.
Have sensible consequences. So what happens if your kids don’t clean up as they’re supposed to? There have to be consequences. Don’t make up new punishments on the spot when you’re angry. You’ll probably regret it. Make the repercussions predictable and consistent. Sticking to the tried-and-true is fine, Wibbelsman says. Dock their allowance. Set earlier curfews. Take away car privileges.
What if that doesn’t work? What if after all that, your kids still won’t clean their messy rooms? Wibbelsman has a suggestion. Explain to your teens that since they won’t clean their rooms, you’ll hire someone to do it – and pay for it out of their allowance.
Require basic hygiene. Some teens are pretty careful with their appearance and hygiene because they don’t want to stand out at school, says Altmann. But others don’t seem to care – something that’s especially common with teenage boys, Wibbelsman says.
You might be uncertain how to broach the issue, since you don’t want to knock your teens’ self-esteem. But experts say that it’s OK to set some minimum hygiene standards – like showering daily and wearing clean clothes — as part of their household responsibilities. If your kids don’t, the usual punishments apply.
Be a good example. Want your kids to clean up their act? Clean up yours first. “If one of the parents is slovenly and doesn’t provide a good example,” says Wibbelsman, “how can you expect the teen to be conscientious about keeping things clean?”
Don’t micromanage. Give your teens a task and a deadline. Then back off and let them accomplish it in their own way. So when your son’s doing yard work, don’t keep butting in with leaf-raking tips. Don’t keep pushing your daughter, for her own sake, to get her laundry out of the way first thing in the morning. Sure, you mean well. But you’re getting involved when you don’t need to be, and probably driving your kids nuts – which could make for some unnecessary conflict.
Keep your cool. So your son told you – five times! – that he would take out the garbage. But he didn’t, and the trashcans are now overflowing and buzzing with flies. Sure, you’re angry. But try not to let anger dictate what you do next. As much as you can, you want to stick to the responsibilities and repercussions that you’ve worked out with your teen. Keeping things predictable will make it less personal and less heated.
Don’t be mean. “Parents have to be careful not to get negative,” says Wibbelsman. “Don’t start demeaning your kid, calling her a slob all the time. That doesn’t work.” Instead, you need to help build your teens’ self-image, and to encourage basic cleanliness as a sign of self-respect.
Consider the larger issues. If you tell your teens that you’re making them wash your car to “build their character,” that probably won’t go over well. But remember that requiring your teens to clean up around the house isn’t only about your personal desire to have a neat living room.
“There’s a larger purpose to getting your kids to clean up after themselves,” says Wibbelsman. “Parents are teaching their kids an important lesson about respecting other people and other people’s property.” Keeping things tidy really will matter when they’re adults.
“In a few years, these adolescents will be on their own and dating,” says Wibbelsman. “They’ll have roommates. They need to know how to clean up after themselves.” Treating your teens seriously – and talking about how their behavior will affect their adult lives – might really help the conversation, Wibbelsman says.
Going Back to Work
Just as you’re getting used to being home with your baby and your work life feels like a distant memory, you realize that your maternity leave is coming to an end. The thought of waking up at 6 a.m. and racing off to a job after being up all night with a crying baby seems impossible. And then there’s the guilt: How can you spend so much time away from your infant?
No matter how long and hard you’ve thought about your decision to return to work, and how sure you are that it’s the right choice, you need to be prepared for mixed emotions. “You might feel guilty about leaving your baby in someone else’s care — or you might feel guilty about being eager to go back to your old life,” says Karol Ladd, coauthor of The Frazzled Factor: Relief for Working Moms. Although you’ll inevitably encounter a few bumps along the way, these five tips will make heading back to work a little less stressful.
Practice Your New Routine
It’s bound to take a while to learn to balance your new roles — and you’ll do so more quickly if your daily routine is efficient and well organized. The best way to make sure your new schedule will work? Do a couple of practice runs the week before you’re due back at the office. If possible, arrange for your child care to start a week or so early so that you can try out your routine — and get used to parting with your baby. Make sure you set your alarm extra early your first week back to give yourself time to work out any kinks in your schedule. And don’t forget to come up with a good backup plan for days when your baby (or your babysitter) is sick.
Get as Much Rest as You Can
One of the biggest complaints of working moms is sheer exhaustion — and when you’re overtired it’s much easier to fall to pieces. Your own sleep needs should take priority over doing another load of laundry or cleaning up the kitchen. And have your husband pitch in whenever possible. Because you’ll be getting up so early, you should aim to get to bed earlier too. Sticking to a 9 p.m. bedtime helped Heather Hill, of DeWitt, Michigan, get enough rest before her son Connor was sleeping through the night. “I woke up for the 2 a.m. feeding, and by that time, I’d had about five hours of sleep with a few more hours still ahead,” says the mother of Sean, 6 years, and Connor, 10 months.
Keeping It Together
Set Aside Time for Your “Mommy Life”
You’ve probably made a handful of new “mom friends” while on leave. Don’t put those friendships on the back burner once you start working. “Relationships with other moms are vital,” says Ladd. “You need them for emotional support.” Aim for regular weekend get-togethers. Gina Yager, mother of 5-month-old Mia, made it a point not to lose touch with her new friends when she went back to work. “On Saturdays, I’ll meet the girls and their babies at a coffee shop, and I’ve also joined a ‘mom and baby’ yoga class,” says the mom from Henderson, Nevada. “And I stay in touch during the week through our online support group.”
Keep It Together at the Office
Although you might feel like an absolute wreck when you’re at your desk — worrying about your baby, feeling physically and mentally exhausted, being daunted by the piles of work that have built up in your absence — don’t let your boss think you’re off your game. Keep your concerns to yourself, and avoid venting to your coworkers. Remember, your new juggling act might even make you more productive. “I’m a better boss now that I’m a mom,” says Sue Hermann, of Denver, mother of Sarah, 3, and Sophie, 10 months. “I’m more willing to delegate, more able to think outside of the box, and definitely better able to multitask.”
Hang in There
In your first few months back on the job, you will undoubtedly encounter days when you decide that you can’t manage and need to quit. But stick with it — at least for a while. Experts say most moms need time to get used to a new routine. If after a few months you’re still unable to cope, think about asking your boss for a flex schedule that lets you work from home one or two days a week, or for a part-time arrangement. Come up with a concrete plan before approaching your boss. “But be prepared for the possibility that your boss will reject your proposal and give you an all-or-nothing ultimatum,” warns Donna Lenhoff, JD, a Washington, D.C., lawyer who specializes in work-family issues. If that’s the case, maybe it’s time to consider whether this job is right for you. “Your goal,” says Ladd, “is to find a healthy balance that works for you, your career, and your family.”
Nursing at Work
A Working Mom’s Guide to Breastfeeding
If you’re planning to continue nursing, you’ll need to get the pumping routine down well before your return to work.
Start pumping and freezing the milk a month before you’re due back on the job. You’ll get in the habit of pumping and build up an emergency supply.
Let someone else bottle-feed your baby. “He needs to get used to being fed by someone besides his mother,” says Kathy Baker, Peer Counselor Program training administrator at La Leche League International.
Talk to your boss to come up with a pumping schedule that works for both of you. You might suggest dividing your lunch hour into pumping sessions: You’ll need to take 15- or 20-minute breaks two to three times a day.
Find a private location. “If your company doesn’t have a designated lactation room, perhaps there’s an empty office or conference room that you could use to pump,” suggests Baker. “Some women get creative and hang a curtain around the outside of their cubicle when no privacy is available.”
Having Second Thoughts?
“Unless you have a contract that specifically states you’ll return to work on a set date — which can happen in some union or high-profile jobs — you can decide to quit whenever you choose,” says attorney Donna Lenhoff of the National Employment Lawyers Association. Though your employer does have the right to take you to court to get back the health-insurance premiums and wages paid during your maternity leave, Lenhoff says that this rarely happens. As for the best time to give your boss notice, the sooner, the better.
There’s some final advice that’s at least as important as the other suggestions: Don’t try to change who your kids are. Part of the issue here is personality and temperament. Can you require that your teens do their own laundry and pick up their shoes? Yes. Can you make sloppy teens become a fastidious, tidy people? No – no more than you can make them, through force of will, into concert cellists or medal-winning high divers.
“Our kids are not ourselves,” says Wibbelsman. “You can’t impose your own personality on them.”
So as parents, you need to set some standards for how your kids behave in your house and some expectations they have to meet. But don’t go too far beyond that. Don’t try to change how they think. Respecting your teens’ individuality can mean compromise – accepting that they’re just not quite as tidy as you wish they were, and that it’s not something that arguing will change.
How To Create a Healthy, Adult Relationship With Mom and Dad
The problem is as old as time. It’s the stuff of which Greek myths, novels and screen plays are made. I’m referring to the love/hate relationship between parents and their adult daughters. Our Mistake: We continue to insist that our parents meet our emotional needs, while granting us our independence. Their Mistake: They unwittingly attempt to preserve the same relationship they had with us when we were little girls, yet can’t understand why we don’t just “grow up”!
The Good News: In the vast majority of cases, parent/adult daughter relationships can be greatly improved, and here’s how:
Step I: Get Your Own House in Order
Acknowledge that you are different from your parents and that it is OK.
If you haven’t already done so, begin to separate emotionally from your parents. Take the risk of defining yourself, and stop trying to win their approval.
Accept that your parents aren’t perfect (and neither are you).
Take responsibility for who you are today. Acknowledge what was troublesome about your growing up experience, accept it, and move on.
Realize that your parents are a product of their own growing up and life experiences.
Know that as an adult you are entitled to your own choices, opinions and decisions, even if they turn out to be mistakes. How else can you learn?
Understand that today you have the power to influence your relationship with your parents, even though you’re still “the kid.”
Step II: Avoid the Same Old Traps: Do Something Different
Stop trying to change your parents. Instead, think about how you can change your behavior so as to create better interactions with them.
Although you can’t change Mom and Dad, you can establish limits with them. You can let them know if they have overstepped your boundaries. Be clear about what is acceptable or unacceptable when they are dealing with you in the future.
Avoid old, toxic topics that are never resolved, and which only bring you pain.
Gently remind your parents that you are an adult now, capable of making your own decisions — and sometimes those decisions may be wrong.
Develop and enjoy interests and activities together, where you can participate as equals.
When issues come between you, treat them as problems external to you both, not as character flaws or as a battle to be won.
Do not expect Mom and Dad to do things for you, such as pick up your dry-cleaning or take care of the kids. This is part of the old parent/child relationship.
Refrain from asking for their advice unless you really want it.
Notice and acknowledge the good things they have done, and continue to do for you. Thank them for these things.
Even if relations are strained, try to remain in contact, if only through notes, e-mail or voicemail.
And If the Best-Laid Plans Don’t Work
In rare cases even these steps won’t be enough. The pain you experience as a result of continued contact with your parents may be greater than any benefit you receive. In such instances it is OK to say enough is enough. No relationship is worth sacrificing your personal sense of well-being.
Ultimately it is to your advantage to work on developing a healthy relationship with your parents. Upbeat interactions with Mom and Dad can add a wonderful dimension to your life. And at the end of the day, it is rewarding to feel good about the kind of daughter you’ve been
Setting Boundaries with Teens
I hear this all the time from young people…“I want to make decisions for myself. I want to be in control of my own life.” My first thought is, “Hallelujah! Your parents want the same thing – but like everything else in life, it must be within certain boundaries.”
Boundaries aren’t handcuffs; they free teenagers to make decisions since they know how far they can go. For instance, I’ve always thought that a teen wearing one fashion or another should be their own choice. They can dress how they want, but as soon as that clothing becomes immodest, they are stepping over a boundary, the modesty boundary. If what they wear breaks the school’s dress code, they are stepping over the school’s boundaries. Likewise, when a teen is allowed to drive the car, perhaps they are told they must be home by dark, not have any other teens in the car, and they must not drive any further than a certain distance away from home. Those qualifications for the use of the car are boundaries. How and where the teen drives within those boundaries is up to them, as long as they follow other imposed boundaries, such as traffic laws.
We all have boundaries in our lives, so teens need to get accustomed to them. As adults, we can’t just haul off and whack someone over the head if we don’t like them. We can’t take a week off from work without asking our boss. And we can’t spend our mortgage payment money on new sporting gear instead. Well, we can, but should we do so, we will face consequences.
Boundaries are only effective if they are known in advance. Responsibility and a feeling of self-control begin with a child knowing and understanding the breadth of their choices within those boundaries. The kids I’ve met with the lowest self-esteem and the least self-control are those who either have never experienced boundaries or whose parents use punishment as the only means of communicating boundaries. Such parents tend to shift their punishment (and the boundaries) based on how their own day is going or how frustrated they are with life, their spouse, or their children. So, the kids in those families don’t really know where the boundaries are any given day. Like landing in a mine field, they don’t know what step to take for fear it will set off their parents. So here’s what happens: they either get totally frustrated and decide to go ahead and set off as many “mines” as they can or they hide, keep their distance, and try not to upset the apple cart. They stay away from home as much as possible, become strangers, and turn into prolific liars.
Boundaries don’t encumber your child; they free them and they boost confidence and self-control. It’s like the difference between keeping a horse on a lead rope and letting him run freely in a fenced pasture. Within the safety of the fences, the horse has the freedom to roam and even push up against the fences. What they choose to do is in their control. Thank goodness teens are learning how to reason, so establishing boundaries and consequences will help them make better choices, versus the need for parental hovering, hand-holding, or physical barriers.
Setting Up a System for Behaviors in Your Family
As you develop boundaries, I encourage you to make it a family project. First, outline what you believe the behavior in your home should be — your “beliefs.” Then, determine what rules are needed to support those beliefs. You can develop behavioral beliefs and rules for any number of things, but I prefer to major on the majors, not the minors, so focus on areas such as modesty, honesty, respect, family contribution, curfew, use of the car, dating, substance abuse, church activities, abiding by the law, and education. Within each category you may have several related rules, but keeping it simple will help your children remember them better.
When you develop this belief system for your home, insure that everything is age-appropriate (boundaries for younger kids are usually not the same for older kids), clearly understood, and mutually supported by both parents and everyone else involved, including your teenager. Let your children help you establish the belief system and even the consequences. This will give them “ownership” for it. You’ll find them to be harder on themselves and suggest harsher consequences than you might have, so you’ll have to moderate those. Then, when they break the rules, you as a parent aren’t the heavy. They chose in advance to accept the consequences since they also knew in advance what consequences they would have to face.
It works well to graph out what you want in spreadsheet form, so that each belief has a rule and each rule has consequences that can be clearly seen. Here’s how one of your beliefs in the system spreadsheet could look for a 13-year-old child.
Belief – At age 13, we believe nothing good can happen after 11 p.m., and that on weekdays kids should be home earlier to encourage a good night’s rest for school.
Rule – Curfew is 9 p.m. weekdays and 11 p.m. weekends.
1st Violation: Curfew will be an hour earlier for one week.
2nd Violation: You’re grounded Friday and Saturday night for two weeks.
3rd Violation: Curfew will be 8:00 pm every night for a month.
When they learn that you are serious about enforcing the consequences, they’ll become serious about maturing. After all, what is maturity? It is simply knowing how to live successfully within the boundaries we all have in life.
Once your belief system is set, don’t undermine it by making exceptions. Nothing can be more damaging to your ability to enforce rules than to cave in and arbitrarily reduce or waive the consequences. In fact, tell your kids in advance that there will be no leniency, since they now know exactly what consequences are in store. It is your duty to enforce consequences without wavering, but it is also important to express your sadness when your teen experiences consequences. Help them know you are on their side and rooting for them. In other words, don’t rub their noses in it.
Will teenagers like consequences? No. Who does? Remember to let them experience the pain of their choices so that they learn “to not go there again”. It’s OK to let them “sit in it”. But don’t pull back your relationship when they suffer consequences. In fact, move toward them.
Just as a policy manual dictates conduct at a company, your belief system will determine the way everyone in your home will live together, because the decisions have already been made and everyone has signed off on it. Your beliefs won’t change, but your kids will mature over time, so be sure to review your rules about every six months (again, doing so with the whole family) to determine if they are still age-appropriate.
Discipline is hard work. It is strategic work. It takes a lot of work to formulate, communicate, and implement a plan to help a child get to where he wants to be and to keep him from going to a place where he doesn’t want to be. But that work is worth it! Teens have a hard time seeing the “big picture” and thinking about long-term implications. Putting boundaries and rules in place with consequences that they have agreed to will help keep them on track. And they’ll help you maintain discipline without destroying your relationship.
6 Secrets of Kids Who Rarely Get Sick
Do you know that neighborhood kid who never seems to come down with anything? Do his parents know something you don’t? Probably not, experts say, but put these six habits of healthy kids to use to avoid illness this year.
Keep hands clean
Regular hand-washing dramatically reduces the passing of respiratory and gastrointestinal illness, so get your kids in the habit of scrubbing up (or using a hand sanitizer) when they leave preschool or day care, after every playdate, and before they eat. Teach kids to sing “Happy Birthday” to themselves twice before rinsing — scrubbing for 15-20 seconds is key.
Be active every day
Studies indicate that regular, moderate exercise can reduce the number of cold and flu episodes that occur over the course of a year by 25-50 percent, possibly by boosting the circulation of infection-fighting cells. “Exercise is better than any advertised cure or miracle,” says Harley A. Rotbart, M.D., Parents advisor and author of Germ Proof Your Kids: the Complete Guide to Protecting (Without Overprotecting) Your Family from Infections (ASM Press, 2007).
Get plenty of ZZZs
Make sure kids stick to an early bedtime. Sleep deprivation nearly doubles the risk of getting a cold or flu, Dr. Rotbart says. Most babies need approximately 14 hours of sleep a day; preschoolers need 11-13 hours of Z’s.
Avoid touching your face
Cold and flu viruses enter the body through the nose, eyes, and mouth, so help your child keep her hands away from those areas. Yes, it can be very difficult to accomplish — hand-washing at strategic moments is all the more important. Teach your child never to share a straw, cup, or toothbrush.
Consume a balanced and healthy diet
Meals with plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables will help boost your child’s immune system. Look for foods rich in vitamin C (broccoli, strawberries, and oranges) and vitamin D (tuna, fortified milk, and cereals). Eating yogurt with active cultures (probiotics) can also help build defenses.
Get the flu vaccine
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says it’s the single best way to prevent the flu. What are you waiting for?
Our baby daughter is so demanding
My three-month-old daughter requires constant attention and stimulation and will cry the minute she is left alone.
She cannot be left in a cot or pram at all, unless in a very deep sleep.
She will only sit in a car seat or child’s seat if someone is shaking a rattle or playing music by her side all the time.
If we put her in her cot when she is asleep, she will wake up and start crying within a couple of minutes .
When I say cry, I don’t mean a whimper, but a build up to screaming within minutes. Her head goes red and the veins bulge.
We have tried leaving her to see if she’ll eventually quieten down, but to no avail. After 5-10 minutes it’s clear that she will continue screaming.
It is very alarming seeing her in this state. We are concerned she may fit or burst a blood vessel.
As soon as she is picked up or her attention averted she will stop crying and is a normal happy baby.
She had very bad colic for her first two months, which appears to have stopped, but we are concerned there may be some other medical condition troubling her.
My wife is exasperated and cannot do anything because she has to spend the whole day with our daughter.
All babies are different, some will be beautifully docile and lie happily in their cot unattended for hours at a time, observing the mobile hanging from the ceiling, others will behave like your daughter and scream and wriggle if unattended for even a moment.
The fact that she always settles down when you pick her up suggests that there is no medical condition underlying her tantrums and she is merely a wilful child who demands parental attention and insists on getting it.
Some babies are incredibly manipulative from a very early stage in their lives, and this may well reflect her future personality.
Your own parental anxiety, particularly if this is your first child, will undoubtedly contribute to the concern that you feel. This is no bad thing, parents obviously worry about their infant’s welfare.
Having said all this, a baby will undoubtedly cry more if they are in any pain or distress from any physical cause.
Does she need her nappy changing, is there an ear infection or her throat sore, is she thirsty, hungry or just tired? Is she too hot or cold?
If any of these apply, a child will certainly seek attention from her parents, although in most instances the crying will be persistent even when the child is picked up.
I suggest you ask your doctor to thoroughly examine your daughter to rule out any physical causes.
If the problem then persists, you can probably be reassured that she is just going through a particularly demanding phase.
Ask your health visitor for some advice on how best to manage the situation and formulate a structured plan to modify her behaviour.
The longer you continue to pick her up as soon as she cries, the longer she will continue to scream for attention, and you and your wife will continue to feel frazzled and exhausted.
Remember, too, that screaming and shouting is one of the few ways babies can express themselves, and there is a school of thought that believes babies need to have a good scream now and again.
This is not always easy for the parents though!
Finally, do accept any offered help, and don’t be reticent about asking for help from trusted friends or family to give you a break.
This will pass as your daughter grows and develops.
The NetDoctor Medical Team
Getting Along with Brothers and Sisters
In a house with more than one kid, there are bound to be some problems. Brothers and sisters borrow stuff, and don’t always return it in top condition. Younger kids sometimes feel like the older kids get to do whatever they want. Older brothers and sisters think that the baby of the family gets more attention. These are typical problems found throughout the ages, everywhere in the world.
When brothers and sisters don’t get along, it’s called sibling rivalry (say: SIH-bling RYE-vul-ree). A sibling is a brother or sister and rivalry means competition. It’s normal, but too much competition can make for an unhappy home life.
Let’s talk about getting along with brothers and sisters. They’re not so bad, are they?
What Is Sibling Rivalry?
A little competition isn’t a bad thing. Sometimes it can keep you working hard — like when you and your brother spend time shooting hoops. If he’s good at it, it may make you want to improve, too. But some sibling rivalry involves arguing, like when you think your brother is hogging the ball. People who love each other might argue sometimes, but too much fighting is unpleasant for everyone.
Have you ever heard of the green-eyed monster called jealousy? Sometimes brothers and sisters are jealous of one another. For instance, if your sister always does well at school, it may be frustrating for you, especially if your grades are lower.
Although you’re probably proud of your sibling or siblings, it’s normal to be a little jealous, too. It may make you feel better to focus more on doing your own personal best, rather than comparing yourself with a brother or sister.
All kids want attention from their parents, but sometimes you need to take turns. If you’re feeling ignored or like your sibling is always in the spotlight, talk to your mom or dad. If a parent knows you’re feeling left out, together you can figure out ways to help you feel better again.
Don’t Lose Your Cool
Sometimes when you’re jealous and frustrated, it’s easy to lose your temper. Try to follow these tips to avoid getting into a fight with your brother or sister:
Take a deep breath and think a bit. Try to figure out if you are angry with the person or just frustrated with the situation.
Remind yourself that you have special talents. Your sister may have won an art contest, but you might be better at basketball, or math, or singing. Eight-year-old Marisa says her brother “always wins running races, but I always get gold stars for good homework grades and that makes me feel better.”
Try to congratulate your siblings on their achievements and share their happiness. If you do this for them, they’ll be more likely to do it for you.
Hopefully, these tips will work. But if the situation gets out of control and you and your brother or sister start fighting a lot, you may need to talk to someone. Mean words can lead to hitting and physical fighting. If this is going on with you and your sibling, talk to a parent or another trusted adult.
It may be hard to believe now, but your brother or sister may turn out to be your best friend someday. Many brothers and sisters fight and compete with each other while growing up but become very close when they get older. As you grow up, your friends might change, but your family is your family forever.
How to keep your family knowledgeable about family history:
Tell stories about your life and the lives of your ancestors. Young people need more than facts and dates. They need the facts and dates packaged in interesting, meaningful, and memorable ways. The best way to create an interest in family history is by telling young people stories about real people. Fill your stories with interesting information, humorous details, and unusual facts that will capture a young imagination. Sharing family stories doesn’t have to be a big event; make it a common occurrence around the dinner table, in the car, or at bedtime.
Share heirlooms and photographs
Holding something that once belonged to an ancestor can be a powerful experience. Pictures and heirlooms make the past come alive. Children especially enjoy photographs that show how clothing and hairstyles have changed over the years. Keep photographs and family heirlooms around your home so children are constantly reminded of their heritage. Tell stories and histories about the item and its owner.
Attend family reunions
Family reunions are a good way for different generations and branches of a family to come together. A family reunion gives young people an opportunity to know relatives they might not otherwise meet. It gives them a chance to create experiences and memories that can last a lifetime. Help children and youth understand how they are related to each person they meet. For example, you might say, “This is your great-aunt Phyllis. She is your grandma’s older sister.”
Go on family history field trips
Children of all ages enjoy field trips. A family history field trip could be across the country or just down the street. Visit places your ancestors lived or worked. Visit graveyards. Go to museums or living history exhibits, such as a historically re-created village or a historical farm that shows how your ancestors lived. Celebrate your family’s ethnic heritage at a cultural festival. Use an Internet search engine to help you find festivals and living history exhibits in your area. Above all, make these trips fun for the children.
Play family history games
Games are a good way to make family history fun. Family history board games are available for purchase, but you can also make up games that are specific to your family. It’s easy to create a trivia or matching game or adapt a common game such as Bingo. Your children could even help make up the game. For examples of family games and instructions on how to create them, see appendix A of this lesson.
Music and movies from the past are another way to reach young people. Share music from different eras, and teach children some of the dances their grandparents used to dance. Children enjoy learning the old songs their great-grandparents used to sing. Watch movies that were popular during the lifetime of an ancestor or that portray a certain period in history. Children are often amazed to see some of the old silent movies that were popular in the past.
Celebrate with food
Food is an important part of holidays and family gatherings, and it was the same for our ancestors. Make your grandmother’s apple pie recipe or your father’s famous meatloaf for your children. Food from different countries where your ancestors lived can provide an interesting variation on your normal diet. International recipes are available on the Internet and in many cookbooks. You can prepare pastries from France or kimchi from Korea for a special family history meal. Visit www.cyndislist.com/recipes.htm for a list of Web sites that can help you.
4 Key Points to Positive Parenting Success:
An Effective Parent
Your words and actions influence your child the way you want them to.1
A Consistent Parent
You follow similar principles or practices in your words and actions.
An Active Parent
You participate in your child’s life.
An Attentive Parent
You pay attention to your child’s life and observe what goes on.
5 Tools to Successful Positive Parenting:
Responding to your child in an appropriate manner.
Preventing risky behavior or problems before they arise.
Monitoring your child’s contact with his or her surrounding world.
Mentoring your child to support and encourage desired behaviors.
Modeling your own behavior to provide a consistent, positive example for your child.
Why Kids Need Rules
By Marianne Neifert, M.d.
Whether it’s a toddler who’s deliberately dumped his plate of spaghetti onto the floor or an older child who can’t stop whining for one more story before bedtime, it seems our children repeatedly challenge the boundaries we set. No wonder so many parents get discouraged about establishing — and enforcing — limits, and even question if it’s really worth the effort.
But structure and rules not only make child rearing easier, they’re also essential. Trying to raise a responsible, cooperative child without age-appropriate boundaries is like trying to raise a goldfish outside its fishbowl. Far from squelching the spirit, rules are needed for kids to flourish:
They prepare children for the real world. Limits provide a framework so your child can understand what’s expected of him and what will happen if he doesn’t comply. Having family expectations, such as “no hitting” or “toys need to be picked up before bedtime,” and then enforcing consequences if he breaks the rules, will help him adapt better to new situations.
They teach kids how to socialize. Some rules are just basic manners — saying “please” after making a request, saying “excuse me” before interrupting. If you make it a policy to use polite words at home, your child will not only be more pleasant to be around, but she’ll also learn appropriate ways to get what she wants.
They provide a sense of order. Certain rules help a child predict what will come next, such as “Wash your hands before eating” or “Hold my hand when we cross the street.” Even little children tend to cooperate better when they know what’s required of them, and that helps them gain a sense of belonging.
They make kids feel competent. Clear limits tend to reduce power struggles because children don’t need to constantly test you to discover where the boundaries lie. This doesn’t mean your kids won’t ever test you; it just means that after the hundredth time they’ll realize it won’t get them anywhere. Your little one will understand what you want if you state your rules in the positive (“You can only eat food in the kitchen or in the family room”). Similarly, reinforcing his desirable behavior encourages him to cooperate even more (“Thanks for paying attention while I’m speaking”).
Rules reassure kids. No matter how often children act as if they want to be in control, having too much power is frightening. They intuitively know that they need an adult to be in charge, and they count on their parents to guide their behavior.
When your preschooler comes out of her room repeatedly at bedtime, she needs you to take decisive action instead of giving halfhearted warnings that carry no weight. It’s better to walk her back each time as you calmly state the limit (“You’re to stay in your room after I tuck you in”) and the penalty (“If you come out again, you’ll have to go to bed a little earlier tomorrow night”).
They help keep kids safe. Children — and some grown-ups — often grumble as if rules were made by a bunch of spoilsports. The truth is that many household rules, like many laws, are designed to protect our kids: “No lighting matches” or “Wear a helmet when you ride your bike.” When we insist that our child abide by safety rules at home, daycare, and school, we help prepare him to follow the law.
They boost confidence. If you gradually expand the limits placed on your child, she’ll become more confident about her emerging independence and her ability to handle responsibility. Young children take great pride in achieving simple milestones like going next door to play in a neighbor’s yard or sleeping over at a friend’s house.
Make sure the limits you set are in line with your child’s development and support his natural drive to explore, learn, and practice new skills. Some guidelines:
Don’t be too strict. In an effort to be firm and avoid spoiling, parents can sometimes set too many boundaries; without meaning to, they end up severely restricting their child’s behavior. If you expect your toddler to eat all his food with a fork or spoon or never to run in the house, chances are you’ll be met with more resistance than compliance. Worse yet, your high expectations could make your child feel that he’s incapable of pleasing you.
Try to: Keep your child’s age and abilities in mind when making rules, and when possible, give an explanation for your reasons. You can’t expect your 3-year-old to put his toys away without being asked, but you can expect him to help you clean up. And you can tell him: “The faster we clean up, the more quickly we can go outside.”
Don’t be too easy. Parents who are unwilling or unable to enforce appropriate limits do their kids a disservice too. When you cater to your child’s every demand, fail to impose consequences when she misbehaves, or find yourself making empty threats, you prevent your child from learning to act responsibly.
Try to: Impose reasonable limits on your child’s behavior. A toddler who’s just learning to speak can be forgiven for screaming when she’s angry, but you can, and should, expect more from your preschooler. And watch how you state those expectations: Avoid framing them as a suggestion (“Let’s use your words, okay?”); it implies your rules are negotiable. Instead, state your limits in a calm yet firm way (“We use words. We don’t scream”).
Be consistent. When you allow a certain kind of behavior one day and then overreact to it the next, you’re bound to confuse your child. Besides, your mixed messages will only encourage more testing of limits to find out where the boundaries really lie.
Try to: Create fewer rules that you can enforce consistently, rather than many enforced erratically. With younger toddlers especially, it’s easier to restrict limits to those involving health and safety. And remember that being consistent doesn’t mean being inflexible — you can bend the rules once in a while under special circumstances. For example, if you’re late getting dinner on the table, go ahead and break your “no snacking before meals” law — just explain your reason.
Be expansive. When your little one starts to notice what her friends and classmates are doing, she’ll probably start to ask for more privileges. Granting her requests will give her the opportunity to show you she’s capable of handling more responsibility.
Try to: Expand a limit on a trial basis to see whether your child is ready for it. If your 6-year-old is clamoring to go to bed later, for instance, you might say, “I’ll extend your bedtime by a half hour. But if I have a hard time waking you up every morning, that means you need more sleep and you’ll have to go back to your old bedtime.”
Give your child a voice. If you let your child have some say in what house rules to set — as well as what the consequences for breaking them should be — this can motivate him to be more cooperative. You may be surprised to find out just how reasonable he can be.
Try to: Choose a calm, relaxed time to discuss the issue. For example, if your child often dawdles before getting into pajamas at night, he can choose which bedtime ritual he wants to forgo as a consequence. Or if your kids constantly argue over which TV show to watch, have a discussion on how they can handle this type of disagreement. (They might decide to flip a coin.)
Establishing and enforcing rules is a labor of love that helps guard your child’s safety while increasing her sense of cooperation and acceptance. Far from limiting her, the boundaries you set now will give her the security she needs to become more responsible and independent as she grows.
Which Came First? The Behavior Problems, or the Poor Sleep?
It’s a classic which-came-first question: Is the child not getting enough sleep because of problem behaviors, especially at bedtime, or is the child behaving problematically because of not getting enough sleep? The answers are most likely yes and yes, and the back-and-forth currents can drag a child down developmentally.
In an editorial in JAMA Pediatrics in 2015, Michelle M. Garrison, a research assistant professor at the University of Washington in the division of child and adolescent psychiatry, described this intersection of sleep and behavior problems in early childhood as a “feedback whirlpool.” Dr. Garrison was commenting on a longitudinal study of more than 32,000 Norwegian mothers and their children who were followed from birth to age 5; the children with sleep problems at 18 months, including short sleep duration (sleeping 10 hours or less) or frequent nocturnal awakenings (three times a night or more) had more emotional and behavioral problems at the age of 5. This held true even when the researchers adjusted for emotional and behavioral problems already present in the 18-month-olds; compared to children at the same behavioral baseline, the kids with sleep problems ran into more difficulties as they developed.
“Sleep really does drive behavior problems and behavior problems are driving sleep problems, it really is bidirectional,” Dr. Garrison said. “A child can start having problems with emotional regulation, melting down more, and that makes it more difficult for the family to do all the things they have to do so the child can get good sleep. Sleep gets worse; behavior gets worse. It can really be an awful cycle for the kid and the family both.”
Dr. Oskar Jenni, a professor of developmental pediatrics at Zurich University Children’s Hospital, said that there is a great deal of variation in the individual sleep needs of children at any given age. Parents need to understand their children’s sleep needs and rhythms, since behavior problems can also arise when children are compelled to spend more time in bed than they actually need. “My main message is adjusting bedtime to the needs of the children in both directions,” he said.
In sleep clinics, this is often done by having parents complete a detailed sleep diary for their children. Many young children who are having trouble with sleep will do better if the routines and bedtimes are kept very consistent; Dr. Garrison said that with toddlers and preschoolers, parents are advised to keep bedtime within 15 minutes of the same time every night. Standard bedtime routines may not be sufficiently calming for the problem sleeper, and the child who is troubled by anxiety may need a very different transition to sleep than the child who is tremendously physically active and has trouble winding down. So she and her colleagues, she said, work with families on more tailored routines which can help the child relax, from bedtime yoga to parent-child foot massage.
“Some kids’ days are just so jam-packed they don’t have time in the day to relax and calm down,” she said. “Coming home, rush through and get ready for bed, some of those kids really struggle with being ready to fall asleep at bedtime.
Monique K. LeBourgeois, a psychologist in the department of integrative physiology at the University of Colorado at Boulder, told me that she regularly gets emails from parents around the world asking for advice about how to handle their children’s sleep cycles; how to choose between morning preschool and afternoon preschool, how much will it matter if we shorten or eliminate the nap.
“My response is, it depends,” she said. There are people who can miss out on some sleep without major effects on their moods or cognition. But parents have to look closely at the child in question. “I ask them, you see your child when she has a late bedtime, when she misses a nap, when he struggles to wake up in the morning. How sensitive are they?”
And children who are not getting enough sleep don’t necessarily look tired. “Kids are much more amped up and more likely to think somebody else is out to get them, somebody else is trying to start a fight,” if they are sleep deprived, Dr. Garrison said. “You can see how that can end up leading to aggressive accidents on the playground.” Some of the skills that are directly affected by sleep deprivation include the kinds of self-regulation that are developmental challenges for preschoolers, she said. “You end up with a 4-year-old who, because they’re sleep deprived, may have the self-control of a 2-year-old,” she said, “more likely to lash out, more likely to hit, more likely to melt down.”
So what can parents do if they have a child who is sensitive to lack of sleep but is not a willing or easy sleeper? Think about routines, think about consistency, think about timing. And think about the evening before the bedtime routine; the release of melatonin, the hormone that helps regulate sleep, is suppressed by light exposure, including, or perhaps especially, by LED light exposure. So the screens should be off for a good long time before bedtime, and consider dimming the lights, Dr. LeBourgeois said. “You should be able to read to your child, but you don’t want all the lights on.”
And yes, there are certainly children who are going to struggle more with sleep than other children. “There are individuals with poor sleep as there are individuals with poor motor competencies, with poor language abilities,” Dr. Jenni said. “It’s a question of the brain, the brain is highly variable.” But just as you can work on those motor skills and those language skills, he said, you can help children work on sleep.
“Parents need to trust themselves and also be good observers of their kid’s behavior, because it’s probably telling them things about their physiology,” Dr. LeBourgeois said.
8 ways for new parents to get more sleep
You have a baby and you’ve never been more tired in your life. Sure, you’ve heard the advice: Nap when the baby naps. Leave the dirty dishes, and don’t worry about the laundry — you’ll get to it eventually.
But the reality is that most days you need this time to take care of chores and other business. So what advice can you really use to get some sleep?
We invited BabyCenter parents to share their survival tips. One tried and true strategy is to share the nighttime feedings with your partner so you’ll both be guaranteed at least five hours of solid sleep. Some families find that bringing their baby to bed with them is the key to staving off fatigue.
Read on for more ideas.
Pump and sleep
“We started giving our daughter bottles when she was 2 weeks old. I would pump at 9 p.m. and then go to bed. My husband would wake her at 10:30 p.m. and give her the pumped breast milk. I got to sleep from 9 p.m. until 2 a.m., when she woke up again.”
– Jodi Mindell, author of Sleeping Through the Night: How Infants, Toddlers, and Their Parents Can Get a Good Night’s Sleep, and mom of Caelie, 23 months
“We had a cradle that rocked, and I tied a rope to it so I could rock it while I lay in bed when my son was a newborn. (I made sure the rope was out of his reach at all times.)”
– Mollie, mom of Nicky, 8 years
“The best way I’ve found to cope with disrupted sleep (the twins are on different schedules) is to have ‘power snacks’ when I’m up with the babies. Peanut butter and crackers, a glass of skim milk, yogurt, etc. The food helps me feel much better in the morning after those nights when it seems like nobody sleeps.”
– April, mom of 8-year-old Jeffrey, 6-year-old Erin, and twins Caitlyn and Ethan, 22 weeks
One night on, one night off
“My wife and I took turns getting up with our son every other night like clockwork for the first nine months. It was not pleasant, but was a decent survival tactic.”
– Steve, dad of Daniel, 3 years
“With our first daughter, my husband and I rotated nights. For instance, he had Monday night and I had Tuesday night, and so on. It worked out great! When I knew it was his night, I would help out more with getting everything ready for the night and he would do the same for me. We plan on doing the same for our next child.” – Keysha
“On the nights that I really want undisturbed slumber, my husband and son sleep in a separate room so I don’t hear them get up for feeding and changing. We also take turns sleeping in on the weekend.”
– Shari, mom of Kevin, 2 1/2, and Brian, 7 weeks
“We’ve found that the best way to protect our sleep and make sure we’re functional for work is to take our daughter in shifts. My wife usually handles the first shift (10:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.), while anything after that falls into my territory (2:30 a.m. to 6 a.m.).”
– Dan, dad of Mary Elise, 11 months
Early to bed
“Go to bed when the children do. This is hard for me because there’s so much that needs to be done, or I’d like to have that time to relax in peace and quiet — but do it!”
– Diane, mom of Bridget, 4, and Kelly, 8 months
“The best strategy I used to get sleep when my daughter was a newborn was to have her sleep with me. At first, she was in her bassinet and would wake for periods of four to five hours, and so we’d walk around and nurse until she fell back to sleep. Finally, my doctor suggested we take her to bed with us. She slept great and woke up only briefly to nurse.”
– Trista, mom of Sydney, 8 months
Family Activities: Cheap, Fast, Fun!
I was sitting with my daughter Anna at an outdoor concert. We’d walked eight blocks in the hot sun from the parking lot, skipped naptime and stood on long lines twice—once to pay the $20 entry, then for our $5 ice cream cones. And as I sat with Anna on my lap, thankful the loud music was covering her tired, cranky cries, I tried to remember why I’d thought taking a 3-year-old to a concert was such a great idea.
As moms, every day we see that kids love doing small, simple things. But we often can’t resist doing the big, elaborate ones, despite their cost and hassle. And though we know they probably won’t remember a trip to, say, the circus, we want the memory. That’s okay every now and then, but most of the time you’d be better off thinking a whole lot smaller. Some ideas to get you started:
The day they started to dig the hole for the foundation of a church in our neighborhood was the beginning of my family’s education about the differences between an excavator and a bulldozer (which is what we used to call every large yellow piece of equipment). It was also the day it started to dawn on me how many free and exciting family outings were literally sitting there waiting for us.
The perfect pull-over
Some of the best places to go are right on the side of the road. You can spend a good hour pulled over at a construction site watching gigantic machines dig, dump and lift. And if you’ve got train lovers—but no trains to ride—park near a crossing to watch them roll by (ask at a business near the tracks what time the trains pass through). When you’ve watched at one crossing, scoot over to the next one and watch again. Sitting on your car near an airport to watch the airplanes fly overhead is another exciting outing. In between take-offs and landings, you can watch the contrails and the shapes in the clouds.
Ask for a back-door tour
After grabbing a bag of bagels with Anna in tow, I headed, uncharacteristically, out the back door of the shop, which gave us a view of the bagel-making machine. We were both transfixed—and watched for a good 15 minutes. To turn your Saturday-morning errands into outings to remember, just ask for a closer look (or find a safe viewing point) at any number of destinations. A few good ones: coin-sorting and dollar-counting machines at the bank, automated photo-processing equipment and any sort of mechanized food preparation, from tortillas to doughnuts.
Pretty and public
Drive to a beautiful garden, a mural-or graffiti-covered wall, or a farm or fruit stand. Toddlers and preschoolers love nothing better than the smell, touch and sight of nature’s bounty, and the beauty of a fountain or even a somewhat tacky art display can be exciting to them. Ponds and streams—where you can also amuse yourselves tossing leaves and dandelions and watching them float away—all offer possibilities.
From the moment they can figure out who has more cookies on their plate and who got to open the door first, little kids are natural competitors and absolute maniacs about measurement. Since most tots love a good search, race, or competition, you’ll be able to invent all kinds of easy outings.
The seasonal search
My dad used to take me and my four siblings to seek out the first signs of spring, an activity that got us all on our hands and knees at the local park looking for green. You can also search for the longest icicle in winter, the most colorful leaf in the fall, or try my family’s year-round favorite: finding heart-shaped rocks for natural Valentines.
Who’s got the best…?
My favorite babysitter not only worked early on Saturday mornings (so my husband and I could enjoy one sleep-in a week), she also got the kids out of the house quickly with an ongoing search for the best weekend breakfast in town. At just 4 and 8, Anna and Kate practically ran out of the house, homemade survey sheets in hand, to test out the pancakes, hot chocolate and restaurant-provided amusements at every diner within driving distance. You can decide on the best ice cream or pizza. Or go with something nonedible, like the best echo in the area (under bridges or overpasses and in pedestrian tunnels), coolest playground castle or fastest slide in your town.
Go on a scavenger hunt
Look for the longest bridge, highest building, tallest tree or the biggest letter A on a sign. Bring a camera and record images of your kids in front of their finds. Or give the search a concrete reward: A friend of mine’s dad used to take her and her siblings on drives with the sole mission of finding double X’s on license plates—and they got a dollar reward for each X in a row. You could just as easily offer less or even nonmonetary compensation, since the literal payout doesn’t matter. My friend still remembers the drives with her dad 35 years later.
9 Things We Should Get Rid of to Help Our Kids
Listen, when I realized I was more than half the problem in this whole entitlement parenting challenge, it was a wake up call. Kids naturally want what they haven’t earned, especially if we are handing it out for free.
But what we have is an entire generation of young adults who got everything they ever wanted with little or no work; we have a cultural norm and it’s a problem.
Because reality is, life doesn’t give us everything we want. We don’t always get the best jobs or a job at all. We don’t always have someone rescue us when we have a bad day or replace our boss just because we don’t like them. We can’t always have what we want when we want it. We aren’t always rewarded in life.
Here are 9 things we can get rid of to begin eliminating entitlement in our children:
1. Guilt: Often we give into our kid’s requests out of guilt. We need to stop feeling guilty for not giving our kids everything they want. It’s hard to swallow, but we foster the attitude of entitlement in our homes when we are ruled by a guilty conscience. It’s okay to ask kids to be responsible for what they lose and to require consequences for actions.
2. Overspending: I think it’s good for our kids to hear us say, “We can’t afford that” Or “We will have to save for it.” Because that’s real life. We don’t have All The Money to Buy All the Things. I’ve known families before who are working multiple jobs to keep kids in extracurricular activities, when honestly, the kids would probably be happier with more family time.
3. Birthday Party Goody Bag (Mentality)-I’ve been guilty of this like most of us. But, really? We take our kids to parties so they can give a gift, but they take a small one home so they won’t feel bad? It’s not their birthday. This concept of spoiling kids (which usually goes far beyond goody bags) is temporary fun. It’s okay for them not to be the center of attention.
4. Making our day-week-month, our world about our kids-Working in the non-profit world has redirected our extra time. We simply can’t center our lives around our children when we are centering our lives around Christ. Child-centered homes don’t help children in the long-run.
5. The desire to make our children happy (all the time). If you visited my house, you’d find out pretty quickly that someone’s always unhappy. It’s not our job to keep our kids happy. Don’t carry that impossible burden. Typically when our kids are unhappy, it’s because we are standing our ground. And that makes for much healthier kids in the future.
6. Made Up Awards: You know what I’m talking about. Rewarding everyone who participates in every area only fosters an inflated self esteem. Kids don’t need rewards for every little thing. It’s okay to lose, they learn through failure as much as success.
7. Fixing all their problems: I don’t like to see my kids struggling. There’s a part of every parent that longs to make things right in their child’s world. But it’s not healthy to create a false reality. You won’t always be there to do so and not only that, if you’re doing it all for your child, why would they need to learn to do it themselves? Fixing all their problems is really only creating more challenges in the future.
8. Stuff: We could all probably fill a half dozen trash bags with just stuff. Excess. Try it. Bag it up and get your kids to help you and give it to someone who needs it.
9. Unrealistic Expectations: My girls are always asking for manicures. I didn’t have one until I was married, pregnant and 27 years old. I’m not opposed to the occasional treat, but it’s the attitude of expecting it because you as a parent or others have it. Just because I have an iPhone, doesn’t mean my children will get one. We don’t have to give our kids everything we have. It’s okay to make them wait for things in life.
When a parent has bipolar disorder… What kids want to know
Children have a lot of questions when someone in their family is sick. When children don’t have answers to their questions, they tend to come up with their own, which can be incorrect and scary!
When the family member’s illness is bipolar disorder, it often becomes a secret that nobody talks about. All children need some explanation and support, geared to their age, to help them understand bipolar disorder.
Each parent and child’s “beginning conversation” about bipolar disorder will be different depending on the child’s age and ability to manage the information. You know your children best.
This brochure will help prepare you (whether you are the well parent, the parent with bipolar disorder, a grandparent or another adult in the child’s life) to take the first step. If you have already started talking to a child about bipolar disorder, this brochure will give you more information to keep the conversation going. It lists common questions children have about their parent’s bipolar disorder, as well as suggestions for how to answer their questions.
Questions kids have
What is bipolar disorder?How does bipolar disorder work?
Bipolar disorder is an illness that affects how a person feels, thinks and acts. It is a sickness in the brain.
When people have bipolar disorder, their brain works differently from the usual way. Our brains help us to think, feel and act in certain ways. When people have bipolar disorder, they think, feel and act differently from how they do when they’re well.
There is almost always two different phases with bipolar disorder — lows called depression and highs called mania. During a low phase, the person is sad and often withdrawn. This is called depression. During a high phase, the person is either way too happy or way too angry. The person is very energetic and more outgoing than usual. This is called mania. At other times, the person is his or her usual self.
Having bipolar disorder is not a weakness.
Bipolar disorder can vary from person to person — it can be mild, or it can be a more difficult struggle.
Why does my dad act the way he does? How does it feel to have bipolar disorder? What goes on in my mom’s head when she’s not herself?
Bipolar disorder causes people to act in ways that are different from how they usually act.
Bipolar disorder is what causes the mood changes. The moods go in cycles.
One parent said, “It was very hard because when I was high, I felt I could do anything. I didn’t sleep or eat properly, and spent money excessively. The lows were very debilitating; I couldn’t get out of bed, lost all interest in my work, in myself, my hobbies and my friends. The depression is the hard part. It makes it difficult to get out of bed.”
What does a “low mood,” or depression, mean? What does it look like?
When people have low moods, they may be sad and cry a lot. They might also feel impatient and irritable and get more angry than usual.
A parent in a low mood might not want to do things with the family like playing, talking or driving them places.
They may get tired more easily and spend a lot of time in bed.
Sometimes the low moods make them have trouble concentrating or thinking.
The low moods may make them worry a lot more than usual.
Their thinking may seem strange.
They might have a bad attitude about life, or not think highly of themselves.
What does a “high mood”, or mania, mean? What does it look like?
When people have high moods, they may feel like they are on top of the world, that they have “super powers” and can do anything. One parent described it as feeling really, really excited about something all of the time.
They might spend more money, dress or act differently and say unusual things.
However, high moods can also make them feel impatient and angrier.
They might talk really fast, make quick decisions and seem distracted.
They might not want to sleep as much and may stay awake longer.
How will bipolar disorder affect me? How will it affect my family?
Bipolar disorder can affect the person with the illness, as well as other family members, in many different ways. (*This would be an opportunity for the parent to discuss his or her own symptoms with the child.)
It can be very hard living with a parent who has bipolar disorder because that person may do or say things that make children feel bad, scared, sad, angry and often confused. This can happen when the parent is in a high or low mood. Sometimes it can feel like a parent with mood swings thinks mostly about him- or herself and doesn’t care much about what the kids think and feel.
Bipolar disorder can make people feel ashamed so they don’t always want to talk about it.
Remember that people with bipolar disorder will have their usual moods between the high and low moods. As the high or low mood improves, the person slowly starts acting more like him- or herself again.
What causes bipolar disorder? How does it start?
Chemicals in the brain that are off balance cause bipolar disorder. But we don’t know for sure what makes the chemicals go off balance. In some cases, symptoms can appear suddenly for no known reason. In other cases, the symptoms seem to come after a life crisis, stress or illness.
Bipolar disorder may also be genetic or inherited. However, it will usually not be passed to children. About one in 10 children of a parent with bipolar disorder will develop the illness. Nine out of 10 will not.
It’s unclear why, but some people get bipolar disorder more easily than others do.
The child is not the cause of the parent’s bipolar disorder.
Will the bipolar disorder ever be fixed?
While there is no cure yet, the good news is that bipolar disorder is treatable. Most people with bipolar disorder manage very well with ongoing treatment and find that the illness is kept under control most of the time so they can lead a normal life.
Almost everyone who gets treated will improve and some may get completely better. While there is always a chance that the bipolar disorder will come back, medicine can often prevent this from happening.
If the mood problems do come back, they can be treated again.
How can my mom or dad get better?
Many different treatments are available, including medicine and talk therapy.
Medicine helps to make the chemicals in the brain work like usual. It can help people with bipolar disorder to be able to think, feel and behave more like their usual selves.
Talk therapy gets people with bipolar disorder to talk with a therapist about what they are experiencing. The therapy helps them learn new ways to cope and to think, feel and behave in more positive ways. Sometimes the therapist will talk to the children and the family too, which can also help the person with bipolar disorder get better.
There are also other kinds of treatment. If a child has questions about the help that a parent is getting, the child should ask to talk with a doctor, nurse or counsellor.
Is there anything I can do to make my mom or dad better?
Family support is really important for people who have bipolar disorder, but it is the adults (such as doctors and therapists) who are responsible for being the “helpers,” not the kids.
Even though you can’t fix bipolar disorder, sometimes just knowing what your parent is going through, and understanding that he or she has an illness and can get better, can help your parent.
Will it happen to me? Will I get it too?
No one can ever know for sure if they will get bipolar disorder at some point in their lives.
It’s natural to worry about this. Just like other illnesses, such as arthritis and diabetes, having bipolar disorder in your family might put you at greater risk of getting bipolar disorder yourself. But the chance of NOT getting the illness is far greater than the chance of getting the illness.
It’s more important to focus on what you can do to help yourself deal with stress and lead a balanced life.
If you are worried about getting bipolar disorder, try and find an adult that you trust to talk about your feelings.
Is there anything I can do so that I don’t get bipolar disorder?
One of the most important things that kids can do to stay healthy and happy is to be open about how they’re feeling. It’s healthy to let parents or other grown-ups in their life know what they’re going through.
By talking to parents, another family member, teacher or other grown-ups who care, kids can get the help they need to feel better and solve problems in their lives.
Some kids who have a parent with bipolar disorder don’t always talk about the times when they’re feeling angry, sad, scared or confused. They think they will just give their parents something else to worry about, or that others don’t want to hear about those feelings. But that’s just not true!
Participating in sports, hobbies and other activities with healthy grown-ups and kids is important because it helps to have fun and feel good about yourself.
If the child is worried that he or she might have really low moods or really high moods, the child can talk to an adult (parent, teacher and/or family doctor) about it.
Can parents give it to other people? Is it like a cold? Can you catch bipolar disorder?
No. Bipolar disorder isn’t like a cold. There’s no germ. It’s not contagious.
There is no way of catching it. So a child could hang out with someone with bipolar disorder without ever having to worry about getting it.
What should I do if I am scared? What can I do when I’m really worried about my parent who has bipolar disorder?
Sometimes children feel better if they make an action plan with their parents before they see mood changes in the parent with bipolar disorder. This helps them make decisions about what to do when they are scared.
Action plans can include:
making a list of “signs” that tell the child the parent is doing well
making a list of “signs” that tell the child that the parent is not doing well
having the name and number of an adult the child can call and
writing down questions or worries.
If the child is worried and has no one to talk to, he or she can call the Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868 to talk to an adult who can help.
If there is an emergency and the child needs someone there fast because he or she is worried that someone might get hurt or is hurt, the child can call 911.
Sometimes people with bipolar disorder need to be in the hospital for a while to get better. If this happens, the child should make sure to get all his or her questions answered. Understanding what is going on will help the child to worry less and feel
better about the situation.
Questions about self-harm
The questions we’ve listed touch on the major issues of interest to children. However, children can ask many different questions about family situations. Once a conversation starts, it is difficult to know exactly what children might ask. Most parents are able to manage “spin-off” questions (e.g., Why is mom in the hospital? When will she come home?). The topic of suicide is harder to handle.
Many people with bipolar disorder do not have suicidal thoughts. This is why we do not include this material in question-and-answer format. If questions arise around suicide or a parent self-harming, here are some ideas on how to share information with the child.
When children hear that someone is ill, they naturally wonder if the person might die. Children have asked if bipolar disorder can kill a person. While suicide is a risk with bipolar disorder, it is only one of the many symptoms a person might have. Children should understand that bipolar disorder does not cause the body to stop working, like a heart attack might. So no, it doesn’t kill people. But there are times when people with bipolar disorder might feel so bad while depressed that they say things like, “I want to die.” This can be a scary thing for a child to hear. And, once in a while, some people with bipolar disorder do try to hurt or kill themselves when they think and feel this way. When people feel this way, they need to see their doctor and/or therapist who can help.
If discussing this issue with children, it is important to reassure them that:
The parent has never wanted to hurt or kill him or herself. (Say this only if it’s true.)
If the parent were feeling so bad that he or she wanted to die, a doctor, therapist or other adult could help the parent keep safe and stop feeling that way.
Need more help? Contact the Mental Health Association in Your Town
5 Teen Behavior Problems: A Troubleshooting Guide
Is your teenager rebelling, defying your curfew, or hanging out with questionable kids? Here’s how to nip behavior problems in the bud.
To be fair, no one has ever pretended that parenting a teenager was going to be easy. Still, until your own kids reach that stage, it’s tempting to believe your family will be immune to teen behavior problems. No, you tell yourself, your teenager will never talk back, stay out too late or pierce her eyebrow.
Teenagers are basically hard-wired to butt heads with their parents, says Stuart Goldman, MD, director of psychiatric education at Children’s Hospital in Boston. “Adolescence is a time of rapid change for kids both physically and cognitively,” he explains. “It’s the task of the teenager to fire their parents and then re-hire them years later, but as consultants rather than managers.”
But that doesn’t mean you have to take it lying down. With the right approach, you can troubleshoot the following teen behavior problems in a relatively civilized fashion.
Teen Behavior Problem 1:
Your Teen Seems To Hate You
One minute your sweet child is begging you to come on the class trip or to lie down with her while she falls asleep. Then, seemingly overnight, she starts treating you like dirt, discounting everything you say and snickering at your suggestions. If you look closely, you’ll see that you’ve been through this before, when she was a toddler — only instead of shouting “no!” like a two-year-old would, a teenager simply rolls her eyes in disgust.
“It’s so hard for parents when this happens,” says Nadine Kaslow, PhD, a psychologist specializing in kids and families at Emory University in Atlanta. “But part of adolescence is about separating and individuating, and many kids need to reject their parents in order to find their own identities.” Teens focus on their friends more than on their families, which is normal too.
Sometimes parents feel so hurt by their teens’ treatment that they respond by returning the rejection — which is a mistake. “Teenagers know that they still need their parents even if they can’t admit it,” says Goldman. “The roller-coaster they put you on is also the one they’re feeling internally.” As the parent, you need to stay calm and try to weather this teenage rebellion phase, which usually passes by the time a child is 16 or 17.
But no one’s saying your teen should be allowed to be truly nasty or to curse at you; when this happens, you have to enforce basic behavior standards. One solution is the good, old-fashioned approach of: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” By letting your teenager know that you’re here for him no matter what, you make it more likely that he’ll let down his guard and confide in you once in a while, which is a rare treat.
Teen Behavior Problem 2:
Communication Devices Rule Their Lives
It’s ironic that teenage forms of communication like instant messaging, texting, and talking on cell phones make them less communicative, at least with the people they live with. In today’s world, though, forbidding all use of electronic devices is not only unrealistic, but unkind. “Being networked with their friends is critical to most teens,” says Goldman.
Look at the big picture, advises Susan Bartell, PhD, an adolescent psychologist in New York. If your child is functioning well in school, doing his chores at home and not completely retreating from family life, it’s probably best to “lay off.” It’s also OK to set reasonable limits, such as no “texting” or cell phone calls during dinner. Some parents prefer not to let teens have computers in their rooms, since it makes it harder to supervise computer usage, and this is perfectly reasonable. Many experts also suggest establishing a rule that the computer has to be off at least one hour before bedtime, as a way to ensure that teens get more sleep.
One good way to limit how many minutes your teen spends talking on his cell and texting: Require him to pay his own cell phone bills. And do your best to monitor what your child does when he’s online, particularly if he or she is using networking sites like MySpace and Facebook. You still own the home and computer — so check into parental Internet controls and software to monitor use of any questionable web sites.
Teen Behavior Problem 3:
Staying Out Too Late
It’s 10:30 p.m. and you told your daughter to be home by 10 p.m. Why does she ignore your curfew again and again?
“Part of what teens do is test limits,” explains Goldman. “But the fact is that they actually want limits, so parents need to keep setting them.”
Do some research before insisting that your child respect your curfew because it’s possible that yours is unreasonable. Call a few of your kids’ friends’ parents and find out when they expect their kids home. Goldman suggests giving kids a 10-minute grace period, and if they defy that, to set consequences — such as no going out at night for a week.
If it seems like your child is staying out late because she’s up to no good, or doesn’t feel happy at home, then you need to talk with her and figure out what might be going on. However, if your curfew is in line with what’s typical in your teen’s crowd, then it’s time to set consequences and then enforce them if your teen continues to break your rules. When you make a rule, you have to mean it. You can’t bluff teenagers — they will always call you on it.
Teen Behavior Problem 4:
Hanging Out with Kids You Don’t Like
You wince every time your son traipses through the door with his greasy-haired, noisy buddies. Should you suck it up, or say something?
Kids can wear weird clothes, pierce their lips, act rudely and still be decent kids, says Bartell, who advises parents to hold off on criticizing something as superficial as fashion in their kids’ friends. “Teenagers are so attached to their friends that it’s like criticizing them directly.”
On the other hand, if you know that your child has taken up with a group of troubled teens who skip school and do drugs, a talk is in order. “Without putting him on the defensive, tell your child you’re concerned about who he’s hanging out with and that you’re worried he’s doing drugs,” says Bartell. While you can’t forbid your child to hang around with certain kids, you can intervene and try to nip dangerous behaviors in the bud. Don’t be afraid to ask for professional help about hanging out with a crowd engaged in negative behavior. Counseling or family therapy can help.
Teen Behavior Problem 5:
Everything’s a Drama
Every little thing seems to set your daughter off lately, and the more you try to help, the more she sobs or shouts or slams the door.
Part of being a teenager is feeling things intensely, so what may seem like no big deal to you is hugely important to her.
Parents tend to trivialize the importance of things in teenagers’ lives, says Bartell: “What happens is that kids feel misunderstood, and eventually they will stop telling you anything. Right now it is the most important thing in the world that her best friend is flirting with her boyfriend, and you need to take it seriously.”
Don’t offer advice, disparage her friends or try to minimize it by saying that one day she’ll see how silly high school romances are. “Just listen and sympathize,” says Bartell. And put yourself in her position — because, after all, you were once there yourself.
Teaching Teenagers to Cope With Social Stress
Almost four million American teenagers have just started their freshman year of high school. Can they learn better ways to deal with all that stress and insecurity?
New research suggests they can. Though academic and social pressures continue to pile on in high school, teenagers can be taught effective coping skills to skirt the pitfalls of anxiety and depression.
David S. Yeager, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin and a leading voice in the growing effort to help college students stay in school, has been turning his attention to younger teenagers to help shore up their resilience at an earlier age.
His latest study, published in the journal Psychological Science, found a surprisingly effective technique. At the beginning of the school year, students participated in a reading and writing exercise intended to instill a basic, almost banal message to help them manage tension: People can change.
The students who completed the exercise subsequently had lower levels of stress, reported more confidence in coping and achieved slightly higher grades at year’s end, compared to a control group. These results were measured through the students’ self-reporting in online diaries and through cardiovascular and hormone measurements.
The studies are small. Some 60 students, recruited from the Rochester, N.Y., area, participated in the first trial; the second involved 205 ninth graders from a high school in suburban Austin, Tex. In 2017, researchers will try to reproduce these results on a larger scale, in some 25 high schools across the country.
Adults played no significant part in the exercise, researchers said. Students essentially taught themselves this mental buffer, and when they were inevitably rattled by social stress, they had a reassuring interpretation ready to frame it.
John R. Weisz, a psychology professor at Harvard who was not involved in the research, found the approach efficient and powerful. “If you’re an adolescent and you experience social harm, it’s not fixed that you will always be a target. You can change,” he said. “And over time, others can change, too. They may mellow and not be so cruel. That’s an interesting twist for kids to learn, and a good one.”
First, students read a short, engaging article about brain science, describing how personality can change. Then they read anecdotes written by seniors about high school conflicts, reflecting how they were eventually able to shrug things off and move on. Finally, the students themselves were asked to write encouraging advice to younger students.
Dr. Yeager and his colleagues have so far tried this intervention in five schools. In one study, 300 high school freshmen used this same method; nine months later, the prevalence of depression they reported was 40 percent less than in a control group.
If the results remain robust after the 2017 trials, Dr. Yeager plans to release the intervention material for free through a Stanford University project that provides learning support for students.
The breadth and depth of adolescent depression and anxiety is well established. A 2015 study found that nearly 11 percent of teenagers experience depression; other reports have even higher figures. Between sixth and 10th grade, the rate of depression doubles for boys and nearly triples for girls. And studies show that while a large percentage of teenagers face high stress on a daily basis, rates of coping skills are weak.
Dr. Yeager’s intervention suggests that if teenagers can hold onto a long view, they can soldier through immediate mortifications at the cafeteria lunch table. The takeaway: You are not doomed to be excluded forever. Neither your personality
Teen invents ‘Sit With Us’ app so no high schooler has to eat alone.
Natalie Hampton doesn’t just have memories of being bullied in middle school; she has actual scars. “I had bruises on my body from being punched with fists or shoved into lockers, I was slapped and had my hair tied in knots, and I still have a scar on my left hand from when a girl clawed me with nails and drew blood,” Natalie told TODAY Parents. “I was told by my classmates that I’m ‘so ugly it’s scary’ and ‘Everyone hates you.'”
Now 16 and a high-school junior in Sherman Oaks, California, Natalie said, “Apart from the horrific attacks, the worst thing was being treated as an outcast and having to eat lunch alone every day. I believe that being isolated branded me as a target. All I wanted was to have just one person who had my back.”
After switching schools in ninth grade, Natalie found a supportive new friend group, but she never forgot how it felt to be the outcast. “Whenever I saw someone eating alone, I would ask that person to join our table, because I knew exactly how they felt. I saw the look of relief wash over their faces,” she said. Her experiences inspired Natalie to create a new app called Sit With Us.
The concept is simple: the app allows students to reach out to others and let them know they are welcome to join them at their tables in the school cafeteria. Kids can look at the list of “open lunches” in the app and know that they have an open invitation to join with no chance of rejection. “Sit With Us ambassadors take a pledge that they will welcome anyone who joins and include them in the conversation. To me, that is far better than sitting alone,” said Natalie.
“Even though just about every school has bullies, I believe each school has a larger number of up standers who want to make their schools more inclusive and kind,” she said. “Sit With Us calls upon those people to reach out to students who may feel isolated. Lunch may seem like a small thing, but over time, I think this kind of program can shift the dynamic, so that kids are nicer to other kids in the classroom, or outside of the classroom, and not just at the lunch table. It brings people together with the possibility that they will make new friends.”
23 Ways to Soothe a Fussy Newborn
The first time you hear your baby cry is a thrilling experience; it’s a sign she’s entered the world healthy with a great set of lungs! But as the weeks go by, the thrill may quickly give way to concern and frustration.
As you will inevitably learn, babies cry a lot. Sometimes, the reason is obvious: Baby is hungry, wet, or tired, and wants you to address her needs. Other times, getting the tears to stop is not such a simple process. That’s why figuring out how to soothe and calm a baby when nothing else seems to do the trick is so important.
While no single method works for all babies, you’ll soon develop a repertoire of techniques that’s perfect for your child. In the meantime, read on for some time-tested ideas to help your little fusser feel better.
Loco for Motion
For baby, spending nine months inside Mom’s belly is literally like living in a mobile home. Even when you sleep, your body is moving, so when baby enters the world, lying quietly in a bassinet may seem oddly still and unfamiliar. Shaking things up a bit may make her more comfortable.
1. Rock-a-bye baby: Place baby in your arms, stand with your feet slightly more than hip-width apart, and swivel back and forth at the hips. Your movement can be fairly vigorous as long as you’re holding baby close. When you get tired, use the rocking chair.
2. Swing, swing, swing: Baby swings offer soothing, rhythmic motion that helps calm baby down. Just make sure the swing is designed for a small baby, as little ones may slump over in a large one.
3. Get some good vibrations going: The vibrating motion of a washing machine or dryer has saved the sanity of many a frustrated parent. Place baby in an infant seat, put it on top of the appliance, and hold on to it firmly so the seat stays in place.
4. Tool around the block: The smooth, consistent motion of a car or stroller ride, in addition to the snug comfort of a car seat or stroller, lulls many fussy babies to sleep.
Papa Bear Hug
5. Dad is king: Or so say many moms, when it comes to soothing. Maybe it’s because his strong arms can rock her more quickly. Maybe it’s because he swaddles her more tightly. Or maybe he’s just bigger and warmer. But who cares what the reason is? Get him to help and give yourself a break.
Wrap It Up
A womb is not a roomy piece of real estate. Your baby is used to being packed closely in a warm, cozy environment. Emulating it stops tears and makes her feel secure.
6. Swaddle away: Wrapping baby cozily in a thin, lightweight blanket with her arms across her chest has a wonderful calming effect. Swaddled babies often sleep longer and more soundly, too.
7. Snuggle up: Try kangaroo care. This technique is especially good for preemies. Undress baby, lie down, place her against your naked skin, and cover both of you with a warm, soft blanket.
8. Strap on a sling: It’s not surprising that the warm, dark, close comfort of a baby sling is a surefire soother. An added bonus: You can breastfeed anywhere undercover.
Bring On the Noise
A pregnant belly is not the serene sanctuary you might imagine. The inside scoop: Your baby can hear the pounding of your heart, the rush of your blood, and the gurgling of your stomach. For some newborns, silence isn’t golden.
9. Turn on a fan: The soft whirring is music to a fussy baby’s ears.
10. Vacuum up: Some kids are calmed by the jarring combination of noise and vibration.
11. Hush with a “Shush!”: Your “shushing” sound mimics what baby heard in the womb. Say it directly into her ear, over and over again.
12. Try white noise: Any machine with a consistent rushing sound has a soothing effect; recordings of waves on the beach, rainfall, or the sound of a waterfall will work as well.
Getting Rid of Gas
13-15. Letting it go: Some people think infants smile when they have gas; others know better. If you suspect your baby is crying from gas pain:
• lay him down across your knees and gently rub his back
• bicycle his legs while he lies on his back
• talk to your doctor about using infant gas drops
Could It Be Colic?
One-fifth of babies develop colic, which means they cry inconsolably for three hours or more a day for three weeks or more; it peaks at six weeks and usually resolves itself by three months.
16. Watch your diet: If you’re nursing and regular soothing tips don’t help, try eliminating:
• other potentially irritating foods from your diet
17. Try the colic hold: Lay baby facedown on your forearm, cradle her close to your body, and rock her back and forth.
Many moms wonder, “What’s the deal with pacifiers? Should I use one, or will my baby develop a bad habit?”
18. Offer a binky: According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), there’s nothing wrong with giving a newborn a pacifier. Some children have strong sucking needs and are quickly soothed by a binky. Most babies give up the paci on their own around the seventh month. If yours doesn’t, don’t worry. The AAP says it’s unlikely to harm his development.
Nothing Is Working! Now What?
All is not lost! There are still a number of tricks you can try to jolly your little one out of his cranky mood.
19. Go outside: A change of scenery can be distracting enough to calm your newborn’s cries.
20. Give baby a massage: Some babies find stroking soothing.
21. Dim the lights and shut off the TV: Too much stimulation can jangle a newborn’s nerves.
22. Check the temperature in your house: Baby could be too hot or too cold.
23. Check baby’s clothes: Hot, tight, or confining clothes can cause tears to flow.
How to Get Your Baby to Sleep Through the Night
Since bringing home our daughter, Olivia, two years ago, I’ve become more familiar with our bedside clock than I ever dreamed I would be. I’ve witnessed it display hours no human being ever should—ghastly times like 2:33, 4:01, and 5:17 AM It’s no coincidence that when my bleary eyes have seen those red numbers, there’s been a baby howling in the next room.
The jokes about sleep deprivation start before you’ve even purchased your first pair of maternity jeans, but nothing can prepare you for the hell that awaits you. Best-case scenario, you’ll be getting up at 6 AM on a regular basis, so you’ll need to try to sleep soundly during the wee hours. But how can you do that? What’s the best way to get a baby to sleep through the night?
Unless you’re one of a lucky few, you can forget about getting anything close to six to eight hours of uninterrupted snoozing for at least the first three months of your baby’s life. “Infants aren’t wired well neurologically,” says Charles Pohl, M.D., director of the Network of Apnea and Pediatric Sleep Center at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, in Philadelphia. “They have what we call disorganized, or fragmented, sleep.” That means that newborns don’t sleep for long periods the way we do (or did), nor do they necessarily do most of their sleeping at night. They also require two or three nighttime feedings, since their tiny stomachs can’t hold enough to keep them full for long periods. Though some babies are capable of sleeping through the night as early as 6 weeks old, for many it won’t happen until age 4 to 6 months.
By then most babies should be learning to fall asleep on their own in their own crib, without being rocked, nursed, or otherwise coddled into slumber. “At the age of 4 to 6 months, most babies are also capable of sleeping for about six to eight uninterrupted hours and putting themselves back to sleep several times during the night,” says James Lemons, M.D., professor of pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine. By 9 months, he says, most can sleep a full 12 hours. However, Dr. Lemons and other experts say that the age at which a baby actually does sleep through the night can vary a great deal and is often related to a particular infant’s weight or how satiated he is from his feedings.
Even if your baby is younger than 5 months, you can start helping her develop healthy sleep habits: “I don’t think it’s ever too early to get an infant used to a regular schedule, so that she starts to know when sleep time is approaching,” says Deborah Givan, M.D., director of the Children’s Sleep Disorders Center at Riley Children’s Hospital, in Indianapolis. “Another good idea is to minimize stimulation prior to bedtime. A warm bath, a book, or a song can help a child wind down.” Other simple approaches endorsed by most (but not all) sleep experts are to cut down on your baby’s napping and to move her bedtime to a later hour.
If most of your nights are still being interrupted once your baby reaches 5 or 6 months—if she still isn’t sleeping for six- to eight-hour stretches or can’t get herself back to sleep when she awakens—consider trying one of these techniques. Each method has its proponents and detractors, but there’s a good chance that one could work well for you and your baby.
Probably the most popular getting-baby-to-sleep technique is the Ferber method, named for its creator, Richard Ferber, M.D., director of the Center for Pediatric Sleep Disorders at Children’s Hospital, in Boston. It’s based on the notion that babies make associations with falling asleep, whether at bedtime or after waking in the middle of the night. So if you routinely rock your child until he falls asleep or allow him to conk out while breastfeeding or having a bottle, he’ll come to rely on these things in order to go to sleep and will want them repeated when he wakes in the middle of the night. The trick is to teach him to learn to fall asleep by himself in his crib. Here’s how it works:
1. Put your baby in his crib, say good night, and leave the room. If he starts to cry, let him—for about 5 minutes. Then go into the room, comfort him briefly without picking him up, and leave. If he cries again, wait 10 minutes before going in, then 15 minutes, until he falls asleep. The point of going in is to reassure your baby that you still exist and to reassure you that he’s okay.
2. Repeat the ritual—with the same timed intervals used at his bedtime—every time he wakes in the night.
3. Each subsequent night add an additional 5 minutes to the first interval. For example, the second night, start by waiting 10 minutes before going in, then 15 on the third night.
Over the course of three to seven days—blessedly, it rarely takes longer than this, say pediatricians and experienced parents—the baby learns to associate being in his crib with falling asleep. He also learns that crying won’t get his parents to pick him up. And a few nights of tears in an otherwise loving environment won’t have any lasting effect on your baby.
This method isn’t for the fainthearted, since you have to be able to handle hearing your infant cry, sometimes for long periods. But unlike simply letting the baby cry until he falls asleep, you go in to his room to calm him at prescribed intervals. You may have to repeat the entire process when the baby is older, since some will experience relapses.
The biggest problem with Ferberizing is when parents are inconsistent. Also, some infants just don’t respond to the technique. “There are some spirited children who may repeatedly outlast the parent,” says Dr. Givan. “If after two weeks the baby hasn’t adjusted his sleep habits, it may be time to talk to your pediatrician about another method.”
This technique is based on altering a baby’s sleep habits by waking her at prescribed times. Here’s the idea:
1. For one week, keep track of the times the baby wakes each night. Then, try to beat her to the punch. If she wakes at 12 and 4 AM, for instance, go in and wake her at 11:45 and 3:45 and rock her or do whatever you normally do.
2. Day by day, extend the waking times in 15-minute increments—back to 12 and 4 AM, then to 12:15 and 4:15, and so on. She should stop waking on her own and instead wait for her parent, who has become her alarm clock.
3. As you add 15-minute increments between wakings, she learns to sleep for longer periods of time. Eventually you phase out the wakings altogether and find that your baby is sleeping through the night.
For infants who routinely awaken at predictable times during the night, the scheduled-awakenings method can be a gentler alternative to Ferberizing—there’s often less crying and parents feel a sense of control, since they’re in charge of when the baby wakes up.
“The biggest problem I’ve seen is that parents have a hard time bringing themselves to actually wake the baby,” says Carl Johnson, Ph.D., a specialist in sleep disorders at Central Michigan University, in Mount Pleasant. Some sleep experts are adamantly opposed to this method and point out that there’s little proof that it’s effective. They argue that an infant’s waking schedule is too varied for this technique to be effective. Another glitch is that this approach takes a while—as long as three or four weeks.
Reinforcing Sleep Rhythms
On the flip side of scheduled awakenings is a preventive method advocated by Marc Weissbluth, M.D., author of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. The gist of it is that you never let your baby (of 4 months or older) become overtired, because being too fatigued is the root of all sleep problems, says Dr. Weissbluth. Instead, you anticipate your infant’s natural sleepiness and put him down—at nap time and at bedtime—accordingly. The approach works as follows:
1. Keep intervals of wakefulness brief when a baby’s about 4 months old; every one to two hours, put him down for a nap. Infants who are older than that can handle longer wakeful periods—put them down for naps two or three times a day. Any soothing bedtime ritual can be used, says Dr. Weissbluth, but avoid letting your baby nap on the run, such as in the car or stroller.
2. Anticipate when your baby will be sleepy. This, says Dr. Weissbluth, may take a while: “It’s like surfboarding—you have to catch the wave of drowsiness as it begins to surface before it crashes into an overtired state.”
3. Dr. Weissbluth’s motto is: Never wake a sleeping baby. Most babies (between 5 and 12 months) will take two or three naps of one to two hours a day, but he claims that longer naps will have no negative effect on nighttime sleep. “Sleep begets sleep,” he says. “It’s not logical, but it’s biological. The better a child sleeps during the day, the easier it is for him to fall asleep at night.”
4. Set an early bedtime. Babies need to go to bed between 6 and 8 PM, says Dr. Weissbluth, depending on their nap schedule. “Children who are kept up too late have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep,” he says. “And they have trouble napping during the day. Early bedtimes prevent night wakings.”
Dr. Weissbluth argues that with his approach, sleep problems won’t develop and you’ll never need to resort to Ferberizing or other techniques; all you’ll need to do is predict when your baby will get tired and then let him sleep.
Never letting a baby become overtired and never waking him up can be harder than it sounds. While this approach may be less wrenching than some of the others, it’s not a short-term quick fix: In order to work, you have to stick with it. And Dr. Weissbluth acknowledges that if your infant is waking in the middle of the night, this method will only bring about slow, gradual change.
The Family Bed
This method—in which children share a bed with their parents—is common in many cultures and is part of a child-rearing philosophy known in the U.S. as “attachment parenting.” It’s a sleeping style more than a technique for getting a baby to sleep well. This approach—not to be confused with allowing your child to come into bed with you once in a while—calls for sharing the bed most nights.
Proponents of cosleeping believe that the feeling of security the baby gets when she wakes up next to her mom and dad helps her go back to sleep right away. If the mom is breastfeeding, she barely has to open her eyes to feed her baby.
Many sleep experts offer warnings about this approach. You’ll have to forget about having any privacy. “And there is the possibility that a parent will roll over on top of the baby,” says Johnson. A family bed needs to be large enough to accommodate everybody comfortably and shouldn’t have a soft mattress, fluffy pillows or a comforter, which could suffocate the baby. Also, you should never consume alcohol or take any medications that may make you drowsy. And there’s the issue of when to stop inviting your child into bed with you, because at some point she’s going to have to learn to sleep alone—which means that one of the above techniques may eventually be necessary.
With any sleep strategy, it’s in everybody’s best interest to start sooner rather than later—certainly by 18 months. If your baby continues to have problems falling asleep and staying asleep, talk it over with your pediatrician; she may refer you to a doctor who specializes in children’s sleep disorders. “Once a kid gets older,” says Dr. Givan, “solving sleep problems requires more creative solutions.”
While getting your baby to sleep through the night can take some effort and willpower, if you keep up with it, everyone will rest easy.
Teaching Your Child How To Be A Good Sport
“It wasn’t my fault we lost!”
Have you ever played on a team with somebody who hated to lose? Or maybe you have a tough time if you lose anything — even a game of tic-tac-toe.
Some kids find it extra-hard to lose, but everyone needs to learn how to do it. Learning to lose without losing your cool is a skill, like learning to ride a bike. You might not be able to do it at first, but over time it will get easier. And when you can handle losing, people will call you a good sport.
Why Learn to Lose Gracefully?
Everyone wants to win. But any time two teams or kids are facing each other in a game or contest, someone will lose (unless it’s a tie). Kids lose in small ways, like in a game of checkers, but they also might face losing in bigger ways, like when their team loses a championship game.
Losing is disappointing, so it’s not surprising that kids don’t like it. Adults don’t like it either, but everyone can learn to control how they react to a loss. In other words, what should you do when you lose?
The tricky part is that sometimes you might react before you even realize it. For instance, it’s the last out of your Little League game and, in a flash, the other team has won. There they are celebrating on the field and you burst into tears. Oh dear, you probably don’t want to be crying right now, even though it’s OK that you feel sad.
The important thing is what you do next. Do you storm over to the other team’s dugout and accuse them of cheating? No! The best thing to do is to try to collect yourself and get in line with your teammates so you can congratulate the other team. Maybe you’ve seen Little League players do this. Each team lines up and they walk along sort of high-fiving the other team’s players and saying “good game.”
To be sure, the losing team may not feel like it was such a good game, but this tradition is one way to teach everyone how to be a good sport. If you feel like crying later or you want to complain about the game, you can do that — but it’s best to do it off the field and after you’ve had a chance to cool down. After a little time passes, you might not feel as upset as you were right when the game ended.
Losing — On Your Own
Sometimes kids lose on their own, like in a neighborhood game of basketball. These situations can be extra-hard if there are no grownups around to be the referees. Then it’s up to kids to decide among themselves whether something counted as a basket or a foul. It’s good for kids to learn to play without a grownup deciding everything but it also can lead to a lot of arguing. All kids want their team to win and may feel very strongly about plays that don’t go the team’s way.
How do you solve these disagreements? It’s best if everyone tries to be fair. Some kids still might cheat or bend the rules, but you can do your best to be fair. That might mean giving the other team the benefit of the doubt. Maybe you thought a basket shouldn’t count and the other team thinks it’s OK. If it’s close, you might say, “OK, it can count.” Hopefully, the other team will be just as sportsmanlike when one of your calls could go either way. Even if they’re not, you certainly can’t be accused of cheating or playing unfairly. You’ve done your part to bring good sportsmanship to the game.
Kids who are good sports — and don’t freak out when they lose — will become known as kids who are fun to play with. Kids might not be as eager to play with someone who gets angry all the time and won’t ever give the other guy or girl a break.
10 Ways to Be a Good Sport
Here are some ways that you can show others what good sportsmanship is all about:
- Be polite to everyone you’re playing with and against. No trash talk — which means saying mean things while you’re in the middle of a game.
- Don’t show off. Just play your best. If you’re good, people will notice.
- Tell your opponents “good game!” whether you’ve won or you’ve lost.
- Learn the rules of the game. Show up for practices and games on time — even if you’re the star of the team.
- Listen to your coaches and follow their directions about playing.
- Don’t argue with an official if you don’t agree with his or her call. If you don’t understand a certain call, wait until after the game to ask your coach or the official to explain it to you.
- Don’t make up excuses or blame a teammate when you lose. Try to learn from what happened.
- Be willing to sit out so other team members can get in the game — even if you think you’re a better player.
- Play fair and don’t cheat.
- Cheer for your teammates even if the score is 1,000 to 1! You could inspire a big comeback!
Explaining the News to Our Kids
Shootings, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, end-of-the-world predictions — even local news reports of missing kids and area shootings all can be upsetting news for adults, not to mention kids. In our 24/7 news world, it’s become nearly impossible to shield kids from distressing current events.
Today, kids get news from everywhere. This constant stream of information shows up in shareable videos, posts, blogs, feeds, and alerts. And since much of this content comes from sites that are designed for adult audiences, what your kids see, hear, or read might not always be age-appropriate. Making things even more challenging is the fact that many kids are getting this information directly on their phones and laptops. Often parents aren’t around to immediately help their kids make sense of horrendous situations.
The bottom line is that young kids simply don’t have the ability to understand news events in context, much less know whether or not a source of information is credible. And though older teens are better able to understand current events, even they face challenges when it comes to sifting fact from opinion — or misinformation.
No matter how old your kids are, threatening or upsetting news can affect them emotionally. Many can feel worried, frightened, angry, or even guilty. And these anxious feelings can last long after the news event is over. So what can you do as a parent to help your kids deal with all this information?
Tips for all kids
Consider your own reactions. Your kids will look to the way you handle the news to determine their own approach. If you stay calm and rational, they will, too.
Tips for kids under 7
Keep the news away. Turn off the TV and radio news at the top of the hour and half hour. Read the newspaper out of range of young eyes that can be frightened by the pictures (kids may respond strongly to pictures of other kids in jeopardy). Preschool kids don’t need to see or hear about something that will only scare them silly, especially because they can easily confuse facts with fantasies or fears.
Stress that your family is safe. At this age, kids are most concerned with your safety and separation from you. Try not to minimize or discount their concerns and fears, but reassure them by explaining all the protective measures that exist to keep them safe. If the news event happened far away, you can use the distance to reassure kids. For kids who live in areas where crime and violence is a very real threat, any news account of violence may trigger extra fear. If that happens, share a few age-appropriate tips for staying and feeling safe (being with an adult, keeping away from any police activity).
Be together. Though it’s important to listen and not belittle their fears, distraction and physical comfort can go a long way. Snuggling up and watching something cheery or doing something fun together may be more effective than logical explanations about probabilities.
Tips for kids 8–12
Carefully consider your child’s maturity and temperament. Many kids can handle a discussion of threatening events, but if your kids tend toward the sensitive side, be sure to keep them away from the TV news; repetitive images and stories can make dangers appear greater, more prevalent, and closer to home.
Be available for questions and conversation. At this age, many kids will see the morality of events in stark black-and-white terms and are in the process of developing their moral beliefs. You may have to explain the basics of prejudice, bias, and civil and religious strife. But be careful about making generalizations, since kids will take what you say to the bank. This is a good time to ask them what they know, since they’ll probably have gotten their information from friends, and you may have to correct facts.
Talk about — and filter — news coverage. You might explain that even news programs compete for viewers, which sometimes affects content decisions. If you let your kids use the Internet, go online with them. Some of the pictures posted are simply grisly. Monitor where your kids are going, and set your URLs to open to non-news-based portals.
Tips for teens
Check in. Since, in many instances, teens will have absorbed the news independently of you, talking with them can offer great insights into their developing politics and their senses of justice and morality. It will also help you get a sense of what they already know or have learned about the situation from their own social networks. It will also give you the opportunity to throw your own insights into the mix (just don’t dismiss theirs, since that will shut down the conversation immediately).
Let teens express themselves. Many teens will feel passionately about events and may even personalize them if someone they know has been directly affected. They’ll also probably be aware that their own lives could be affected by violence. Try to address their concerns without dismissing or minimizing them. If you disagree with media portrayals, explain why so your teens can separate the mediums through which they absorb news from the messages conveyed.
Understanding Your Child’s Trouble With Hyperactivity
By Amanda Morin
Most kids have moments when they have excess energy. But how often do you have to tell your child to slow down, stop interrupting or stay still? Hyperactivity is a classic sign of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It can also occur with other conditions. Learn more about what might be behind your child’s overactivity, and ways you can help.
What You Might Be Seeing
The signs of hyperactivity are hard to miss. And they often prompt negative reactions from other people. Until you know the reason behind the behaviors, you may find yourself getting annoyed and thinking that your child is just acting out. But if your child has ADHD, his overactivity is caused by differences in how the brain works.
Here are some behaviors that are common with hyperactivity:
- Talks almost constantly and frequently interrupts others
- Moves from place to place quickly and often clumsily
- Keeps moving even when sitting down
- Bumps into things
- Fidgets and has to pick up everything and play with it
- Has trouble sitting still for meals and other quiet activities
What Can Cause Hyperactivity
ADHD is a frequent cause of hyperactivity in children, but it’s not the only possible cause. Other conditions can cause kids to move around and talk too much—just for different reasons. Here are some of the issues you may want to read up on and talk about with your child’s doctor.
ADHD: This brain-based condition often causes kids to move and talk nonstop. It’s actually the result of the brain’s “wiring” system working a little slower than is typical. Think of the game Red Light, Green Light. With ADHD the brain takes a bit longer to get started and “go.” But it also has trouble putting on the brakes to “stop.”
Being hyperactive doesn’t just mean zooming around the room. Kids may fidget or have extra movements even when doing little things like tying their shoes, writing or playing an instrument.
“Being hyperactive doesn’t just mean zooming around the room. Kids may fidget or have extra movements even when doing little things like tying their shoes, writing or playing an instrument.”
Kids with ADHD also tend to be impulsive and have trouble paying attention ADHD may look different at different ages. For example, a preschooler might be accident-prone while a grade-schooler may not be able to sit still long enough to finish his work.
Anxiety disorder: Anxiety can make kids restless and unable to focus. Those symptoms sometimes lead people to mistake it for ADHD. It’s not uncommon for a child to have both conditions at the same time, however.
Hyperthyroidism: Kids rarely have this condition. But when they do, it can cause them to fidget and lack focus. It also often involves eye issues like an irritation or bulging.
Inner-ear disorders: Kids with inner-ear problems are often hyperactive. These kids’ need for constant motion may be caused by their hearing and balance disorders.
How You Can Get Answers
Getting to the bottom of your child’s hyperactivity is a process that may take a few steps. A good way to start is by observing your child and taking notes. Having these notes will be helpful when you talk to professionals about your concerns. And it may help you get answers more quickly.
Here’s what you can do to understand what’s behind your child’s hyperactivity.
Talk to your child’s teacher. Hyperactivity can affect learning. That’s why it’s a good idea to reach out to your child’s teacher. Together, you can talk about classroom strategies that can help, such as using a secret signal to cue your child to stay on task.
Look into an educational evaluation. If you think your child’s hyperactivity is affecting his learning, you or your child’s teacher can request that the school evaluate him. If the school agrees, you won’t have to pay for it.
Depending on the results, your child may be able to get services and supports to meet his needs. That might include things like taking breaks during tests or taking tests in a separate room, where there will be fewer distractions. The school would commit to providing these services in writing, through a 504 plan or an IEP. But the choice to pursue an evaluation is totally yours.
Talk to your child’s doctor. This is also a good place to start. Bring your notes with you to the visit, and share your concerns. The doctor may want to rule out hyperthyroidism and other possible medical causes of your child’s hyperactivity.
There are some questions you’re likely to be asked to get a better sense of what’s going on. They may include things like how long you’ve been seeing the behaviors, whether they’re getting worse and whether the teacher sees them, too. The doctor may also recommend a psychological evaluation to look at how your child thinks and to assess whether he has ADHD or anxiety, or both.
Talk to specialists. You may be referred to more than one specialist to get to the bottom of your child’s hyperactivity. An audiologist would look for hearing problems. A neurologist, psychiatrist or developmental behavioral pediatrician would look for brain-based medical issues including ADHD. And a psychiatrist or psychologist could diagnose anxiety disorders.
Professionals who can prescribe medications for these issues include your child’s doctor, a psychiatrist, a neurologist or a physician’s assistant.
See a private learning specialist. ADHD can have a big effect on your child’s learning. A psychologist can do an evaluation to see what the impact is and if any learning issues are at play. The tests are the same as what they use in a school evaluation. But you’ll have to pay for this testing since it’s done privately.
Tutors can help kids develop strategies to keep ADHD from getting in the way of their learning. But tutors don’t perform formal evaluations.
What You Can Do Now
Even if you don’t get an evaluation, there are many things you can do to find support. There are also strategies you can try to help your child manage his behavior. Just remember to pace yourself. Trying too many at once can make it hard to figure out which ones are working the best for your child and for you. Here are some suggestions:
- Learn as much as you can. Understanding your child’s hyperactivity is the first step to getting him the help he needs. The more you know, the better able you’ll be to find ways to help him gain self-control skills.
- Observe and take notes. By observing your child’s behavior, you may be able to spot patterns and triggers. Maybe his activity level rises as the night wears on. Or perhaps he has a hard time falling asleep and is overtired. Recognizing the trigger allows you to try different strategies like changing his bedtime routine to have more quiet time and get a full night’s sleep.
- Provide things to fidget with. Let your child chew gum, carry a stress ball or have some other object to fiddle with. It can help direct some of the overactivity and cut down on your child picking up and playing with other items.
- Consider martial arts or yoga classes. Physical activities give your child an outlet for his energy. These can also teach your child to be aware of his movements and be in control of his body.
- Try different strategies. For new ideas on dealing with behavior issues, check out the expert advice in Parenting Coach. You may find helpful tips for handling your energetic child.
- Connect with other parents. Knowing you’re not the only family out there dealing with hyperactivity can make a big difference. Connect with parents in similar situations and share information and advice. It can be a great source of support.
Understanding more about what’s going on with your child can help you start to get out in front of his behavior issue rather than always reacting to it. Looking at your child’s strengths, finding support for yourself and changing things a little at a time can make both of you feel more confident and in control.
Early Puberty: 5 Reasons Why It’s More Common Than Ever
In today’s world, we’re seeing more girls than ever going through puberty at a much younger age. We know that girls as young as seven years old are getting their menstrual cycle, and going through all the changes of puberty. Yet, these poor girls aren’t able to comprehend fully the emotional changes that go with it, or what it means for them on a reproductive level. Changing Menstrual Patterns It wasn’t that long ago the average girl would begin menstruating around the age of 16 or 17. One average, the general consensus was that girls would start menstruation at about 14 years old. By the early 2000s, the average had fallen to less than 13 years old. Today, it has fallen again, to as young as 7 years old. What we forget is that even before a girl has her first period there are signs of maturation that signal impending changes. These signs are also coming earlier. So really, some girls are beginning their puberty phase when they are 5 or 6 years old.
A generation ago, fewer than 5 percent of girls of this age would see the changes in their bodies that go with puberty – changes such as breast growth, body hair, acne, pubic hair and so on. But now, many of these young girls are seeing the start of these changes around 7 years old, with the average age being 8 years old. This is increasingly becoming the norm, and some experts think this age is still falling. Some doctors see fit to begin assessing girls for puberty-related changes at age 6. Classically, ‘precocious puberty’ is a term defining puberty that begins before the age of 8 years in girls, and 9 years in boys, but this is no longer universally accepted. In general, experts are now saying that 7 is probably a normal age for children to show some signs of puberty. While there are some who might not agree, we need to start asking the big question: Why is this happening? Are There Any Risks With Early Puberty? So far, researchers haven’t proved there are physical risks that come with early maturity. It could, however, pose a significant risk to women’s ongoing fertility, and bone health. It could also be putting women into menopause earlier, too. Many researchers have suggested the main risks associated with precocious puberty are not biological. Recent studies have found that girls who began the process early had an increased risk of depression during their adolescent years. There are also social risks that can disrupt a girl’s healthy development.
Puberty can be very confusing and emotionally damaging for girls. They might face “sexual innuendo or teasing” long before they’re ready for it, according to researchers and experts. Early puberty could change the way a girl behaves, and the way others behave towards her. This could pose other significant risk factors, such as early pregnancy, or exposure to STI’s, and many other things young girls are too young and naïve to know about. It could also lead to earlier use of alcohol and drugs. Why Early Puberty Is Becoming More Common Researchers primarily blame childhood obesity, and endocrine disruptors, so I will explain these, and other factors, and what you can do to help your daughter avoid an early puberty. #1: Diet and Early Puberty One of the biggest issues for young girls, and women in general, is change in diet – particularly the increased consumption of highly processed foods and higher intake of grains. This leads to higher levels of insulin in the body, which results in the body storing more fats. It also stops the body burning fats, which then creates inflammatory disease. High insulin levels also lead to higher levels of estrogen in the body. As a result, more children become overweight. Girls also experience problems with changes to hormones, menstrual cycles and gynecological conditions. Childhood obesity rates have increased exponentially in the past 30 years. More than one-third of children and adolescents now weigh in as overweight or obese. What people fail to realize is these fat cells produce estrogens (now known as ‘Estrogens’), which play a central role in girls’ bodies. They stimulate breast growth, cause problems with hormones, create gynecological conditions and are a major factor in girls getting their cycles much younger. #2: Obesity and Early Puberty Researchers and experts say that obesity is leading to earlier puberty. This theory is well supported by the fact that girls’ breasts are developing at a much younger age, and the age at which they start to menstruate has declined. The ovaries control menstruation, signaling that earlier breast development might be occurring because of different variables, such as diet and environmental factors.
#3: Endocrine Disruptors and Early Puberty As well as diet, lifestyle and obesity, there might be other factors at play. Girls of normal weight are starting puberty earlier as well, although at a lower rate than girls who are overweight, or obese. Chemicals known as endocrine disruptors – such as the phthalates used in the production of plastics – are also potential contributors to early puberty, and have been cited as the most likely cause. Endocrine disruptors mimic estrogen, and also cause disruption to the reproductive function. Therefore, they could cause precocious breast growth, and issues connected with the menstrual cycle. We know there are over 87,000 chemicals found in plastics and preservatives, in our foods, and even in our water ways. Detergents, and even small traces of the contraceptive pill, make their way into the water we drink. #4: Stress and Early Puberty Some experts have suggested stress during childhood can also play a role in prompting puberty. Children face far more stresses now than children of generations gone by. Many children grow up in families where there is domestic violence, arguing at home, or violence in the neighborhood. Girls who are exposed to such environments are more likely to begin puberty earlier. There have been studies and research that have suggested girls who grew up without their biological fathers were twice as likely to have their period before the age of 12. #5: Parental Health and Early Puberty Scientists are even researching parental variables. Researchers now know the parental mode of inheritance, through genes, is one way parents’ health, diet and lifestyle are passed on to their children. One study found overweight mothers who developed gestational diabetes while pregnant gave birth to daughters who would start puberty earlier in life, regardless of what the girls themselves weighed. We also know now that the lifestyle ‘sins of the fathers’ can play a part in a child’s development. If the father isn’t healthy at the time of conception, or has genetic abnormalities, or genetic issues, these can be passed through the sperm and then on to a child. The child is affected with issues that are expressed later or, these days, early in life. Regardless of whether the cause is environmental, genetic, biological, or a combination of factors, precocious puberty could be reaching a biological breaking point. Prevention and Getting Help All of the above are reasons why we need to be more vigilant of our children’s health, right from the start. We can pass our genetic disposition onto our children. For that reason, we also need to be aware of our own health before we conceive. Early intervention and prevention are at the center of managing any issue such as this. We need to teach our children to develop good eating habits from a young age, to have a healthy active body, and also to be in touch with their bodily functions and emotions at a young age. Period Pain and PMS Symptoms Are NOT Normal Period pain and menstrual irregularities (for example clotting, cramping and mood swings) are not normal, and we need to teach young girls this. Please read our article about what a healthy menstrual cycle should be like, to familiarize yourself and your daughter with it. Young girls can certainly have gynecological issues such as Endometriosis and PCOS. We know this beyond a doubt. The earlier you address any menstrual and gynecological issues, the better the long term prognosis for your daughters’ health and future fertility overall. Not all women’s health specialists are the same, and many want to put girls and women on the pill to ‘fix’ menstrual issues. This is often merely a band aid, which can simply mask damage being done underneath. If you or your daughter need help with menstrual issues, or if you want to know more about optimal menstrual health, please book in and see me – sooner rather than later. The earlier we start educating young women about what is normal and healthy, the better it is for them later on in life, and for their future health and fertility.
Working Together As a Family
Working at my grandparents’ place was always magical. Growing up, my sisters and I would often receive invitations from our grandparents to come over to the ranch and spend some time helping outside. My grandpa was what you’d call a workaholic, and my grandma always had several projects going at a time.
When I was very young, Grandma would sit outside in the sun with me while I helped her pick weeds in her flower gardens. We’d make a game of it and I’d pretend to be a superhero named “Captain Kitty” (I really liked cats) who had come to save the garden world from evil trespassers. My grandma would laugh at my jokes and show me the most effective ways to pull weeds, patiently teaching me which plants were weeds and which were not. I’d also help my grandpa pick fruit, shuck corn, harvest and shell walnuts, mow the lawn, prune, and do other assorted tasks in the yard.
I hold onto these experiences with fondness and have warm memories that include meaningful conversations, dirt and sweat, lots of laughs, and an always healthy lunch with delicious homemade bread to end the workday. These people knew how to work and how to love working. Because of these experiences as well as my own at home, I too was able to learn the value of working together as a family.
Work: It Doesn’t Have to Be Torture
Work and play both hold large roles in a family’s success and happiness. Being able to balance work and play is crucial for success. It’s also an important skill kids can learn at an early age. However, sometimes work has the connotation of “anti-play”. How do we prevent this negative light and teach our children that work is not necessarily the opposite of play—that work can be fun? Furthermore, how can we teach kids that work is important and valuable? We can’t always control how kids will respond, but we can control what we present to them and how we present it. I think the first step in doing this is to expose them to positive working experiences.
Make it Meaningful and Memorable
What was it about my previously mentioned experiences that made working such a cherished activity? As I reflect on the times spent at my grandparents’ ranch, two aspects of working there stick in my mind: good conversation and fun traditions. These made working a blast!
First, make family work time meaningful with conversation. Spend time learning more about your children and helping them learn more about you. Talking encourages connecting and learning. Tell stories, and ask questions. You may surprise your kids with the stories you have to tell, and they might even surprise you! When my parents and grandparents talked with me they made me feel like I mattered. I was important to them, and they wanted me to know why. They were willing to share pieces of themselves with me, teach me, and listen to what I had to say. They always answered my questions (some serious, some silly). Through our hours of conversation we were able to strengthen bonds and better relate to one another. This meant a lot to me then and means even more now as I look back.
Second, consider adding in special traditions to make working together memorable. These traditions could involve wearing silly costumes, going somewhere afterward, playing games, having a movie night, or eating a scrumptious treat. They could even be as simple as taking a walk or relaxing outside and enjoying a job well done. Whatever you and your kids decide, traditions give kids something to look forward to and aid in associating work with positive feelings.
Work Gives Us Value
The world we live in runs because of the work people do. Whether it’s physical or mental work, it’s all important in the end goal of getting things accomplished and living happily. From computer programming to banking to farming, the work that one person does can influence millions of people. Show your kids why work is important by pointing out their accomplishments and the beneficial results that could or did come from their actions. Help them see how happiness and fulfillment can come from work. Kids want to feel capable and responsible. Giving them opportunities to make a difference and succeed can boost their confidence and feelings of self worth, and they will be able to trust in their own abilities to get things done and do a good job. Additionally, encouragement from you can also draw them closer, help them feel valued, and cause them to desire greater achievement and learning.
Why Working As a Family Matters
The family as a unit has an incredible influence on an individual. When parents can give children constant love and instruction, those kids will be that much more prepared for the world ahead of them. An individual raised with a strong work ethic is better equipped with mental/physical tools to help him or her succeed in a future career and home life. Parents, what does work mean to you? How you feel about work will show, and that sentiment will probably carry over to your children. Teach them to give of themselves and to love giving. Their service will benefit future generations to come just as yours has. Children, learn from your parents to cherish the skill and gift of work. Embrace the time together.
My grandparents showed me their devotion to each other and our entire family through how hard they worked. That love was also felt from their desire to work with us side by side. I came to treasure those moments, the laughs, the lunches and homemade bread, and I eagerly looked forward to the next phone call to come help out at the ranch. When made meaningful and memorable, work can be gratifying and bring families together. As my grandparents did, you too can leave a legacy of hard work and dedication to family for your children and the generations that follow.
Helping Your Child Get Along with Others
Helping your child get along with others, make friends, behave in a positive way, express her thoughts and feelings, and handle her emotions will go a long way toward helping her succeed in school and throughout her life. As a parent, every day you can do simple things that will help your child relate well to others, learn self-control, feel good about herself, and be eager to learn to do new things.
BUILD TRUST Teach your baby that you will be there when she needs you. This will help her to trust her world and form relationships. Touch, hold and cuddle her often. Respond to her cries. Feed her when she is hungry. Pick her up when she needs to be held. Talk to your baby in a soothing voice. Sing, laugh and play with your baby. Tickle her if she likes it. Respond to her reactions. Repeat the things that make her smile and laugh.
TALK TO AND LISTEN TO YOUR CHILD Speak in a calm even voice. Listen to your child and let her know you care. Say please and thank you. Show her that you respect her. This will help her learn to respect others. Include your toddler in family conversations, such as at meals. This helps her learn to talk and to listen, and to take turns. Teach your child to use words instead of acting out. If she’s screaming or whining, calmly say, “Use your speaking voice.”
MEET NEW PEOPLE AND GO NEW PLACES Take your baby with you on errands (a trip to the store or to the post office) so she can learn to be around new sights, sounds and a variety of people. Allow family and friends to enjoy your baby. Their positive reactions will make her feel good about herself, and she will learn to trust others. Give your child chances to play safely with other children. Have rules for treating others with respect and kindness. As long as no one is getting hurt, allow children to work out their conflicts.
HELP YOUR CHILD BE INDEPENDENT Help her to learn to do new things and to take care of herself: Let her put on or take off some of her clothes, wash her hands, pick up toys off the floor, or do other things she can safely handle. Give your child a choice between two things whenever you can so she feels she has some control. For example, instead of saying, “It’s time to stop playing and have your snack,” you could say, “You can keep playing with your toy, or you can have a snack. Which one would you like to do?”
HAVE RULES Choose your battles—have a few rules about staying safe, being kind, and taking care of things. Be clear about your rules—remind your child what she can and cannot do in advance. Don’t change the rules on your child. Be clear about how you expect her to behave—holding an adult’s hand when crossing the street and looking both ways, not talking to strangers, taking proper care of toys, and sharing things. Praise your child throughout the day when she does something well.
SHOW SELF-CONTROL If you feel yourself getting mad or “losing it,” close your eyes and count to ten before saying anything, take deep breaths, or go into another room and sit down if your child will be safe on her own for a few minutes. If possible, ask a friend or neighbor to watch your child so you can take a break.
Raising Biracial Children to Be Well Adjusted
By Nadra Kereem
Biracial children have existed in the United States since colonial times. America’s first child of dual African and European heritage was reportedly born in 1620. Despite the long history biracial children have in the U.S., opponents to interracial unions insist on invoking the “tragic mulatto” myth to justify their views. This myth suggests that biracial children will inevitably grow into tortured misfits angry that they fit into neither black nor white society. While mixed-race children certainly face challenges, raising well-adjusted biracial children is possible if parents are proactive and sensitive to their children’s needs.
Which biracial kids have the best chance of success? Research indicates that they’re the kids allowed to embrace all components of their heritage. Multiracial children forced to choose a single-race identity tend to suffer from this inauthentic expression of self. Unfortunately, society often pressures mixed-race individuals to choose just one race because of the outdated “one-drop rule” which mandated that Americans with any African heritage be classified as black. It wasn’t until 2000 that the U.S. Census Bureau allowed citizens to identify as more than one race. That year the Census found that about 4% of children in the U.S. are multiracial.
How mixed children racially identify depends on a number of factors, including physical features and family attachments. Two multiethnic siblings who look as if they belong to different races may not identify the same way. Parents, however, can teach children that racial identity is more complicated than what someone looks like on the outside.
In addition to physical appearance, mixed children may choose a racial identity based on which parent they spend time with most. This especially proves true when interracial couples separate, causing their children to see one parent more than the other. Spouses who take an interest in their mate’s cultural backgrounds will be more equipped to teach children about all aspects of their heritage should divorce occur. Familiarize yourself with the customs, religions and languages that play roles in your mate’s background. On the other hand, if you’re alienated from your own cultural heritage but want your children to recognize it, visit older family members, museums and your country of origin (if applicable) to learn more. This will enable you to pass traditions on to your kids.
Choose a School That Celebrates Cultural Diversity
Your children likely spend just as much time in school as they do with you. Create the best educational experience possible for multiracial children by enrolling them in a school that celebrates cultural diversity. Talk to teachers about the books they keep in the classroom and the general educational curriculum. Suggest that teachers keep books in the classroom that feature multiethnic characters. Donate such books to the school if the library lacks them. Talk to teachers about ways to counteract racist bullying in the classroom.
Parents can also improve their children’s experience in school by discussing with them the types of challenges they’re likely to face. For example, classmates may ask your child, “What are you?” Talk to children about the best way to answer such questions. Mixed-race children are also commonly asked if they’re adopted when seen with a parent. There’s a scene in the 1959 film “Imitation of Life” in which a teacher openly disbelieves that a black woman is mother to a little girl in her class who looks like she’s completely white.
In some instances, a biracial child may appear to be from an entirely different ethnic group than either parent. Many Eurasian children are mistaken for Latino, for example. Prepare your children to deal with the shock classmates and teachers may express upon discovering their racial background. Teach them not to hide who they are in order to fit in with mono-racial students.
Live in a Multicultural Neighborhood
If you have the means, seek to live in an area where diversity is the norm. The more diverse a city is, the higher the chances that a number of interracial couples and multiethnic children live there. Although living in such an area won’t guarantee that your children never face problems because of their heritage, it lessens the odds that your child will be viewed as an anomaly and your family subjected to rude stares and other bad behavior when out and about.
What To Do When You Disagree With a Teacher
It’s a terrible feeling: You disagree – strongly – with something one of your child’s teachers has said or done. And you don’t know what to do about it. Relax – we’re here to talk you through it (because here at MemberHub, our passion is improving communications at your school – in whatever form they may take!).
1. Step back. Unless an immediate, forceful response is required – you witness a teacher actively yelling at your child, for example – step back and think through the situation. Don’t say, or do, something in the heat of the moment that you might regret later on.
2. Consider your child’s credibility. As parents, it can be hard for us to admit that our children may be capable of, shall we say, shading the truth. But they are, all of ’em – even the best kids (and the best grown-ups, for that matter) aren’t 100% truthful 100% of the time. So don’t assume that everything that your child tells you is gospel.
3. Look at it from the other side. No matter how mad you are, try to put yourself in the teacher’s shoes to the best of your ability. Is there some way of looking at the situation where the teacher’s actions make sense? And/or might even be justified?
4. Choose your moment. Don’t try to catch a teacher at a random moment to discuss something important – a few minutes before class starts, for example, or during afternoon pickup. The teacher will be caught off guard and put on the defensive. Make an appointment in advance.
5. Know what you’re looking to achieve. Do you want an apology from the teacher? An explanation? A revised grade for your child or a chance to do a make-up assignment? Just an opportunity to express your feelings? As with anything in life, you may not get 100% of what you want out of the situation – but you’ll increase your odds if you know your ideal outcome ahead of time.
6. Don’t go over the teacher’s head. If you try to discuss something with your child’s teacher and get nowhere, you may want to consider looping in the principal or department head at that point. But always, always talk to the teacher first.
7. Stay calm. Nobody likes being verbally attacked, but it’s especially counterproductive to come down hard on someone who’s on the same team you are (that team, of course, being the one that wants the best for your child).
8. Avoid finger-pointing. You will get much further – and achieve a better resolution – if you can avoid any type of comment prefaced by something like, “My child told me that you did/said/refused…” (Bonus points for avoiding actual finger-pointing! Sit on your hands if you have to.)
9. Listen. Really, truly listen. This can be extremely difficult if you go in with guns blazing, or a mind that’s firmly made up, but you will likely learn something important if you can make the effort to hear what the teacher is saying, and the reasons why he or she made the choices you disagree with.
10. Remember that you know the child in different ways. Just as your boss sees a different version of you than your kids do, at least some of the time, your child’s teacher knows your child in a different way than you do – and that includes knowing his or her strengths and weaknesses from an academic standpoint. Unless you’re a homeschooling parent, you’re probably not the final authority in this department.
11. Focus on common ground. No matter how vehemently you disagree with a teacher, you probably have at least a few areas on which you can agree. Focus on these as you move towards a resolution of the conflict.
12. Don’t step on your kid’s toes. As children get older, they assume more responsibility for their interpersonal relationships – including the ones they have with their teachers. Sometimes the best parental intervention between a student/teacher conflict is none at all.
Parents and Teachers: The Possibility of a Dream Team
Ineffective communication between parents and teachers can be a major obstacle when trying to solve problems with students, but fortunately it can be improved. Let’s first examine the two major causes of communication dysfunction.
Problem 1: Judgment
Teachers judge the parents of their students all the time. They judge them based on students’ language, hygiene, dress and social skills. Parents judge teachers, too, based on comments from their children. “What did you learn in school today?” is usually followed by, “Nothing.” Sometimes children accuse teachers of being unfair, picking on them, being prejudiced or a myriad of other questionable treatments.
So parents and teachers judge each other constantly, and the sources of their judgments are kids, often with a vested interest. Good kids want their parents and teachers to like each other. Troubled students want the opposite. Many children can, in their eyes, benefit from animosity between parents and teachers; and they play one against the other. This is a dysfunctional form of communication.
Problem 2: “Dumping”
The second problem is called “dumping.” When ineffective, frustrated or angry teachers call parents about their child, they tend to “dump” the problem in the parents’ lap. They tell what offense the child committed, and state that the parent must do something about it. This is no more effective than a parent calling a teacher about a problem at home and asking the teacher to fix it. Parents dumping on teachers is also common. They claim the teacher is responsible for a child’s bad grades, bad behavior or bad attitude. They demand that the teacher must change. Parent dumping is growing, reaching dangerously high levels with less respect and belief in the professionalism of the teacher. When parents and teachers blame each other and make unreasonable demands, the one who suffers the most is the child. Blame creates no winners and lots of losers.
A Shared Goal
Parents and teachers have the same goal, and therein lies the remedy for these problems. Both want the best for the student. Removing the child from parent/teacher communication process can alleviate much of the communication dysfunction. I don’t mean that children should be left out totally. There is certainly an important place for the child to be part of the process. But there is also a place for teachers and parents to build a relationship of their own. Both need to talk directly to each other.
How Teachers Can Help: The Three-Call Method
As early in the year as possible, teachers need to call as many parents on the phone as possible, hopefully all of them if their load is small enough. The purpose of the call is to welcome the parent into the learning community and to establish a positive communication line.
Here’s an example of the type of call I suggest. “Hello, Mr. Curwin. I’m David’s teacher. I just want you to know how happy I am to have David in my classroom this year, and to let you know that if any problems should occur, I’d be happy to talk with you so we can work together to make things better.” The second call is to tell the parent something good the child has done. Stay away from superficials like dress and focus on behavior, improvement and quality of work. Only after these calls have been made should the teacher call about a problem; not before. In this way, parents and teachers have already established a trusting, workable relationship that significantly diminishes blaming.
How Parents Can Help: Communicate Proactively
Parents, too, can help communication. They can inform teachers of things happening at home that might affect student behavior; a pending divorce, serious illness, birth of a new baby, a change or addition of a medication, or a parent on an extended trip abroad are all examples of things that can help teachers. Children who strongly object to going to school, hate a certain subject, are being bullied or have too much homework are other helpful things to discuss with teachers.
Become a Team
Finally, stop dumping and blaming on both sides. These tactics help no one, make the other party defensive and prevents finding possible solutions. Say things like, “Since we both care so much about David, let’s work together to find a way to improve things.” Become a team, not adversaries. Share your perceptions honestly. Tell the other what works at home or in class and what doesn’t. Work out a plan of action to try, and be flexible enough to change it if it doesn’t help. Deflect accusations by not taking them personally. It’s better to say, “I understand why you might feel that way, but what we really need to do is find some solutions that we both can agree to. I’d like to hear your ideas,” than to say, “That’s not true, and your son is not being truthful. I’ve never done that.”
Setting up effective communication and forming a team are very powerful tools in helping children be successful in school. Children spend most of their time at home and in school. When teachers and parents are allies and teammates, their combined influence on children is very powerful indeed
Simple ways to make your child feel special
Baby Center Expert Advice
With busy lives full of errands, work, appointments, and social events, it can sometimes feel like you need to make grand gestures to let kids know they’re loved and special.
But what makes your child feel special might surprise you. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on a birthday party or a deluxe trip to Disneyland. You don’t need to buy a Barbie Mustang or a tree house or dish out ice cream every night.
Making your child feel special is very simple, according to Leigh Leverrier, a family life coach in the Washington, D.C., area, who says, “Children feel special when they are respected, noticed, listened to, and heard.”
This can be as straightforward as hearing “what your child says and mirroring back what you hear to acknowledge his or her thoughts,” Leverrier adds.
Doris Jeanette, a licensed psychologist in Philadelphia, says: “It’s not the activities, but the energy behind the activities that makes a child feel loved.” In other words, making your child feel special is as simple as paying attention. Cuddling, play wrestling, and bragging about your kid works, too.
Here are some simple, inexpensive (or free!), and ultimately very meaningful ways to make your child feel special.
Create morning moments
“The morning sets the tone,” says Bob Lancer, author of Parenting With Love, Without Anger or Stress. “If there’s strife, rushing, or power struggles in the morning, you have a child who feels less important than other elements of the parent’s agenda.”
Instead of giving in to morning impatience, Vanessa Pizzinato of Ontario, Canada, takes a few minutes with her 5-year-old every morning to gently walk her fingers over his legs and feet to wake him up. If that doesn’t work, then she takes his feet, puts one up to her ear and the other in front of her mouth, and talks to his tummy and head “to find out when they think he will wake up.”
Cara Mirabella, who runs TheHouseholdHelper, spends a little quality time each morning with her 2-year-old by having coffee together. (His “coffee” is milk.) “We watch Sesame Street, the two of us cuddling on the couch, enjoying our coffee,” she says.
After taking five minutes for yourself “to enjoy the quiet of the morning before the stampede begins,” says Patty Wipfler, founder of Hand in Hand Parenting, spend ten minutes with your child before anybody has to rush anywhere.
“First thing in the morning can be a wonderfully effective time to connect with children, especially when they’re going to school and won’t get to see you all day,” she says. To read more goto Baby Center Expert Advice
Source Parents – by Care.com
Expecting more from babysitters. The kid down the block is no longer the ideal candidate when it comes to our childcare choices in 2016. According to Care.com, parents increasingly expect caregivers who really know their stuff. In fact, last year the site saw a 25 percent increase in job posts for nannies with a college degree, and a 55 percent increase in those requesting that a caregiver be certified in CPR and first aid. For more parent trends for 2016 goto:http://www.parents.com/baby/all-about-babies/6-parenting-trends-to-look-forward-to-in-2016/
Tips for Keeping Your Children Healthy During the School Year
By Rainbow Light
You have all the supplies you need to get your kiddos off to the first day of school.
- School clothes – check!
- Play clothes – check!
- School supplies – check!
- Back pack – check!
- Lunch box – check!
You and little ones are all ready to hit the ground running on their first day of school. This is going to be the best year yet! And with your support, there is nothing that they can’t accomplish.
Heading back to school can also mean being exposed to germs and fighting illness. It is important for kids to eat a healthy diet and get plenty of rest so their bodies stay healthy. But can you do more?
It may be a challenge to keep them well, but there are a few habits that can help your kids fight the germs that cause illness and give them a fighting chance to stay healthy!
Back to School Stay Healthy Tips
- “Always cover coughs and sneezes. Fail to do so can spread diseases.” Teach kids to “cover” their coughs and sneezes by coughing into the crook of their arm if they don’t have a tissue. This way the germs aren’t “caught” in their hands and spread to surfaces and other children by their hands.
- Keep hands away from eyes and mouth. Hands are often covered in germs. Eyes, nose and mouth are the entry points for germs to get into our body and make us sick.
- Don’t share water bottles or food. Anything that goes in your mouth should not be shared with your friends.
- Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer. This is probably the expert’s number 1 rule to cut down on colds and flu. Teach kids to sing “Happy Birthday” while washing their hands to ensure that they get good and clean. Wash hands or use hand sanitizer especially before eating.
- Play! Getting plenty of exercise helps your body and mind stay healthy.
- Eat healthy foods. Eating a balanced diet is the best thing for growing bodies.
- Sleep. Nothing prepares a child more to succeed in school than getting a good nights rest.
All of these tips will go a long way to keep your child healthy this school year. But, we want to add one more item to this list.
Current Parenting Trends
I think most parents will agree that the TV can be an enticing babysitter. With the channels dedicated to baby programs or “educational” shows, letting your child constantly watch TV may teach him or her something, but it can also damage your child. The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages exposure to TV, especially in children under two years old. Instead of setting your child in front of the TV, play a game, read a book, or take a walk. Social interaction is crucial to developing a well-rounded child.
Top ten tips for a happier family
1. Balancing work and home life
It’s not easy balancing your work and home life, but how you manage it can make quite a difference to your relationship with your family. Having a balance between work and home – being able to work in a way which fits around family commitments and isn’t restricted to the 9 to 5 – boosts self-esteem as you’re not always worrying about neglecting your responsibilities in any area, making you feel more in control of your life. Your family will be happier to see more of you, and you’ll have a life away from home.
2. Look after yourself
Parents often spend all their time looking after everyone else in the family and forget about themselves. If you don’t look after yourself, you can end up feeling miserable and resentful, and you won’t be able to give your children the support they need. Admit to yourself that you actually have feelings and needs of your own. It’s not selfish to treat yourself once in a while! It doesn’t have to be expensive – but putting aside some time to do just what YOU want to do, even if it’s only 10 minutes a day – is so important.
Rather than thinking of discipline as a punishment, you should use it as a way of teaching your children how to meet their needs without hurting or offending anyone. While you may be angry, it can help to keep calm and teach your child how he or she could have handled the situation differently, and how he or she can go about it differently next time. This way is both more positive and more constructive.
We often use boundaries to protect children from harm or danger. But it is important that you try to explain why boundaries are there, rather than issuing orders – for instance, if you pull them away from an open fire explain why. Children may be reluctant to follow instructions if parents command them. However, an explanation as to why the instructions are important will help your child understand, and therefore cooperate.
Communication is important – during both the good and the tough times. Children often find it hard to put their feelings into words and just knowing that their parents are listening can be enough. Talk about yourself – not just about your problems but about your daily life. If they feel included in the things you do they are more likely to see the value of including you in the things they do.
6. Quality Time
Try to organise some time together as a family a few times a week – perhaps three meals a week you could sit down to eat as a family. This will give you all a chance to connect and talk about the important issues, as well as the more fun topics. Ask your children to help you with the chores or to run errands. They may protest but they will feel included in your life rather than being an outsider.
7. Joint Decisions
With older children, it is normal for them to test the limits of boundaries to see what they can get away with. You may need to adapt boundaries as children grow into teens – it can even help to involve your child in the negotiation of new boundaries. Too many restrictions will be hard to keep on top of, so it is a good idea to work out which boundaries are really important to you, such as the ones for your children’s safety, and which boundaries are not worth fighting about. With fewer restrictions, your children will appreciate that the boundaries you do set are serious.
It is important for a family to be there for each other through the hard times, as well as the good times. If there is a family tragedy, or a family member has a problem, pulling together can really help. Your children will need your help at this time, and it is important to be open and communicate with them. They will need reassurance and explanation, and will react differently depending on their ages. It can also help to talk to someone impartial.
9. Be flexible
More than anything, children just want to spend time with their parents. It can be lots of fun to make time for an impromptu game or an unscheduled trip to the park, as well as being something that you and your children will remember fondly. It’s good to have a routine, but it’s not the end of the world if it’s interrupted from time to time for spontaneous fun and games. For busy families, it can be useful to schedule in a few hours every now and then for a lazy afternoon together.
10. Spend quality time with your partner
It can be difficult to find time for you and your partner once you have children, but it is important to make time for each other. After all, children learn about relationships from their parents. Make sure you communicate with them frequently about all the day to day matters, as well as just things you enjoy talking about. Try to organize time that you can spend with each other, whether it’s going out for a meal, or just relaxing in front of the TV together.
Fewer than half of U.S. kids today live in a ‘traditional’ family
Source: Pew Research Center
Fewer than half (46%) of U.S. kids younger than 18 years of age are living in a home with two married heterosexual parents in their first marriage. This is a marked change from 1960, when 73% of children fit this description, and 1980, when 61% did, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of recently released American Community Survey (ACS) and Decennial Census data.
Rapid changes in American family structure have altered the image of who’s gathering for the holidays. While the old “ideal” involved couples marrying young, then starting a family, and staying married till “death do they part,” the family has become more complex, and less “traditional.”
Americans are delaying marriage, and more may be foregoing the institution altogether. At the same time, the share of children born outside of marriage now stands at 41%, up from just 5% in 1960. While debate continues as to whether divorce rates have been rising or falling in recent decades, it’s clear that in the longer term, the share of people who have been previously married is rising, as is remarriage.
According to our analysis, today 15% of children are living with two parents who are in a remarriage. It is difficult to accurately identify stepchildren in the ACS data, so we don’t know for sure if these kids are from another union, or were born within the remarriage. However, data from another Census source—the 2013 Current Population Survey (CPS)—indicates that 6% of all children are living with a stepparent.
One of the largest shifts in family structure is this: 34% of children today are living with an unmarried parent—up from just 9% in 1960, and 19% in 1980. In most cases, these unmarried parents are single. However, a small share of all children—4%—are living with two cohabiting parents, according to CPS data. Because of concerns about the quality of the new 2013 ACS data on same-sex marriage, we do not separate out the very small number of children whose parents are identified as in this type of union, but instead fold them into this “single parent” category.
The remaining 5% of children are not living with either parent. In most of these cases, they are living with a grandparent—a phenomenon that has become much more prevalent since the recent economic recession.
School and Illness: Should Your Child Stay Home?
The following guidelines will help you decide whether your child is too ill to go to school.
Child Is Too Ill
Your child is too ill to go to school if he or she has any of these signs:
- Seems very tired and needs bed rest (this is common with flu symptoms)
- Has vomiting or diarrhea
- Becomes short of breath or is wheezing
- Has a cough that disrupts normal activity
- Has distracting pain from earache, headache, sore throat or recent injury
- Has yellow or green drainage from eye(s)
- Breaks out in a rash; not all rashes require that a child stay home from school. Check with your child’s doctor.
Your child should not go to school if his temperature is above 100.5F. He may return to school when he is feeling better.
- Your child should stay home from school if he has a contagious disease. A contagious disease is one that can be spread by close contact with a person or object. Examples are: chickenpox, flu, vomiting, diarrhea, colds, strep throat and “pinkeye.” A disease may be contagious before the child shows signs of illness. It is very hard to prevent the spread of some germs, especially in a school classroom. Good hand washing will help prevent the spread of germs.
- If your child has chickenpox or strep throat, ask your doctor when he may return to school. Generally, children who have active chickenpox should not return to school until all the lesions are dried and crusted. Children with strep throat should be on antibiotics for 24 hours and feeling well enough to concentrate.
- School is a child’s work. It is important for normal development. If your child is absent often, it may be harder to keep up with the class. It is important your child does not miss more than a few days of school a year due to illness.
- Ask your doctor if you are not sure about keeping your child home.
If you have any questions, be sure to ask your doctor or nurse.
Todays Parent “Budgeting is like dieting”
Budgeting is like dieting: You can’t escape the feelings of deprivation and restriction, but you do it anyway because you know it’s good for you. In both cases, it’s tough to find the formula that’s right, and tougher still to stay on track. So we asked financial planning pros from across Canada for their advice on how to plan a family budget, stay motivated and reach your financial goals.
STEP 1: Know what you spend
You can’t create a budget until you know where your money is going. While most of us are sure about the biggies, like mortgage payments and utilities, we tend to guesstimate what we spend on variable and discretionary items like groceries and clothing, says Laurie Campbell, CEO of Credit Canada Debt Solutions, a debt-counselling service. e actual amount is o en higher than we think — in some cases, even double.
To find out the true numbers, keep track of every purchase you make for 30 days. Don’t forget small items like gum or filling the parking meter. You could carry a small notebook and jot down purchases as you make them, or save all your receipts and record the numbers in a basic spreadsheet, an online tool like mint.com, or in an app like iReconcile or MoneyBook. To make keeping track easier, Jim Yih, a fee-only financial adviser in Edmonton, suggests using only one form of payment — whether it’s cash, debit or credit card. (He recommends credit cards only for people who have no trouble paying off all their bills each month.)
Once you’ve kept track for a month, divvy all your expenses into specific categories, such as entertainment, transportation and child care. Add up totals for each category, and then add together each of those for your grand total. Then subtract that amount from your monthly take-home pay. If you spend more than you make, you’d definitely benefit from a budget.
STEP 2: Set goals
While some people get all the motivation they need from watching their bank accounts grow, most of us need a more concrete reason to stick to a budget. So set some goals for your money. Think about what would make you feel great, financially: It could be repaying your line of credit or saving $2,500 a year toward your son’s postsecondary education. Set a secondary goal for something fun, like Lina and Steven Zussino did. Last October, the Victoria couple started saving $450 a month for a trip to Venice with their five-month-old daughter. “What could be more motivating than something like that?” says Lina. They’ll be making the trip next month.
To remind you of your goals, Campbell recommends writing them on a piece of paper, then taping it to your fridge, so you see them every day. From the get-go, involve the whole family in the decision-making process. Children as young as seven can join in discussions about saving and may have some ideas of their own.
Bottom line: If all your family members buy into the goal, you’ll be more likely to achieve it. “When only one person has a budget goal, that’s where you see one spouse out spending while the other is trying to save money,” Campbell says.
STEP 3: Create the budget
Now comes the hardest part, especially if you’ve been spending more than you earn every month: figuring out which spending habits you need to change, so that you can save more money.
First, realize that budgeting isn’t a board game with one rigid set of rules for everybody. It is all about choices — what you can live with (and without!) to stay on target. “One family might prioritize organic food, which means new toys for the kids every week or Starbucks every day can’t be priorities, too,” explains Stephanie Holmes-Winton, a financial planner in Halifax. “If everything is a priori ty, nothing is a priority .”
The Zussinos’ budget, for instance, has a heavy emphasis on groceries, but they couldn’t care less about home electronics. “We don’t see a need for a big screen TV when we live blocks from the beach and prefer to go out for a family walk in our spare time,” says Lina.
The Zussinos also strive to earn additional money by turning hobbies into income. A gym rat, Lina used to spend $720 a year on a fitness-club membership. She now teaches a class and, in exchange, gets that same membership for free. They’ve also turned their passion for bargain shopping into groceryalerts.ca, a blog they run in their spare time. Three and a half years later, the site now attracts advertising dollars — enough to make a dent in their Venice vacation fund.
A look through your spending log will help you identify the areas where you spend most, and help you see where there’s room to cut back and save. If that sounds too loosey-goosey for you, consider what Yih calls “a disciplined spending plan.” You divide your money into four quadrants: spending, saving (for emergencies), sharing (charities) and investing (for the future, be it retirement or your kids’ education). Let’s say you decide to allocate 80% of your income toward spending, 5% toward saving, 5% toward sharing, and 10% toward investing. Your predetermined ratio would apply to any money that comes in, whether it’s your regular paycheque, a bonus or inheritance. “ This really helps people to avoid winging it,” Yih says.
For more budget-setting tips, see “How to create a household budget”>
STEP 4: Monitor your progress
Review your budget each month to find out how well it’s working. The Zussinos treat their budget similar to a business plan, revisiting all expenses each month to see if anything can be tweaked further. For instance, Lina loved special drinks from co ffee houses to the tune of $100 a month. She wasn’t comfortable with spending so much on co ffee, so she learned how to make the drinks at home. They also decided to increase their car insurance deductible (the amount they’ll have to pay out of pocket if they make a claim), saving another $150 per year.
Making adjustments is a normal part of the budgeting process. Stay motivated by celebrating small successes, like the fact that you were able to save something, even if it’s just $5 more than you did before the budget was in e ffect. As Holmes-Winton says, “the point is that you are learning to limit your spending.”
NEXT STEPS: Investing 101
If you already have a handle on basic savings, consider starting an investment portfolio. For first-time investors, financial adviser Jim Yih recommends:
- Make an appointment at the financial institution where you keep your main chequing and savings accounts. You’ll be asked to fill out a risk profile questionnaire to determine what type of investor you are.
- Based on your answers, you’ll be placed into one of five categories: conservative, moderate, balanced, growth or aggressive investor. These categories will all clearly outline what portion of your portfolio should be equities (stocks and mutual funds that hold baskets of stocks), fixed income (such as GICs) and cash. For example, an aggressive investor likely has all her holdings in higher-risk equities, while a moderate investor’s holdings are more equally divided between equities, lower-risk fixed income and cash.
- While you won’t have to pay a fee to the financial adviser at your bank for this service, keep in mind that you will pay fees through what’s called the “management expense ratio” of any mutual funds you buy through your adviser. The fees are split among the mutual fund company and the advisers who sell the funds. Some mutual funds charge as much as 2.5%, which can eat into any investment gains, so make sure to ask about fees before you buy.
7 Things to Do Before Your Kid Goes to College
Teaching them to do laundry and how to open a bank account are important, but don’t forget to spend time together and have fun.
For the millions of parents who will send a son or daughter off to college in the fall, this is the summer of lists: making travel arrangements, picking meal plans and ordering linens and other items for the dorm.
But two lists, in particular, are of the utmost importance: One will help kids with the realities of being on their own for the first time. The other will prepare them—and you—for the emotional toll of this major milestone.
The first list is practical. As parents, we pride ourselves on getting our kids ready to leave the nest and soar on their own. But then reality sets in—and the kids land with a thump.
Read more at: http://time.com/2855449/parents-kids-college-tips/
This is a great website that gives you insight on education around the globe. Source: https://ei-ie.org/en/websections/content_detail/3247
Education International represents organizations of teachers and other education employees across the globe.
It is the world’s largest federation of unions, representing thirty million education employees in about four hundred organizations in one hundred and seventy countries and territories, across the globe. Education International unites all teachers and education employees.
- Education International promotes the principle that quality education, funded publicly, should be available to every student in every country .
- Education International promotes and represents the interests of teachers and other education employees on the international level.
- Education International assists the development of independent democratic organizations to represent teachers and other education employees and builds solidarity and cooperation between them.
- Education International advocates for equity in society. It combats racism and xenophobia. It challenges discrimination on the grounds of gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, and racial or ethnic origin or characteristics.
- Education International works with other global federations of unions and other kindred organizations to promote and achieve solidarity.
Education International is the voice for education employees across the globe.
Going Back to School
After a summer of sleeping in or doing things on your time, the alarm bell announcing that first day of school can be a rude awakening. Whether you’re an anxious new freshman or a confident senior, heading back to school signals a time of transition: new classes, new teachers, new schedules, and a new social scene.
Dread it or love it, you gotta go to school. Here are some ways to make the transition from summer to school a little easier.
There’s no escaping the fact that the first day of school can be crazy. New kids wander around in circles. Lockers won’t open. The school nurse needs your medical records. You forgot your gym shorts. Freshmen are running in all directions, looking for their homerooms.
How can you combat first-day chaos? If you’re headed to a new school, try to arrange a visit before classes begin. Explore any areas that are of particular interest, such as the gymnasium, library, or science labs. Some schools offer maps. Get one and give it a read before school starts — then keep it in your backpack until you’re familiar with your new surroundings.
Your first day is also the time to bring in school supplies and paperwork. It can help to pack your backpack the night before school starts so you’re not scrambling around at the last minute looking for what you need. In addition to packing basic supplies (such as notebooks, pens, pencils, and a calculator), hunt down any of the school forms that were mailed to your family over the summer: immunization (shot) records, permission slips, and class schedules.
Did you try on eight different outfits before deciding what to wear? Lots of people check out who’s wearing what on the first day of school. The key is to wear what makes you feel good, whether it’s a brand-new outfit or a comfy old sweater. If you plan to wear a new pair of shoes, break them in a few days beforehand or your feet may scream for relief long before last period.
Each school has a different opening-day drill. Some start with homeroom or an assembly, but others may jump right into the first-period class. You’ll meet your new teachers, and they’ll probably give you an overview of the course syllabus, class rules, what the semester will be like, what supplies you’ll need, and expectations of your performance and behavior. Some teachers will jump right into their first lesson, while others may have non-coursework activities planned. It all depends on the class and teacher.
Here’s a simple equation: new place = new emotions. Lots of people feel anxious, scared, or excited about school. Although students who are coming back as seniors may be happy they’re in their final year and can’t wait to visit with friends, most freshmen or new kids are likely to be tense or worried.
It’s perfectly normal to feel nervous on the first day of school. Getting back to the school routine and adjusting to new workloads takes some getting used to after a long summer break. If you’re having a mental meltdown, think back to some previous “first days.” Everything probably settled down pretty quickly once you got into the routine.
Meeting new people or getting reacquainted with classmates can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re the shy or reserved type. Start small: If large groups make you nervous, try saying hello to one or two new people a day — the kid at the desk next to yours in homeroom is a good place to start. Or ask new people to sit with you in the cafeteria.
If you still feel uncomfortable after a few days, talk to the school guidance counselor, a favorite teacher, or someone else you trust about how you’re feeling and what you can do. But give yourself time — most problems adjusting to school are only temporary.
Making Your Way Through the Lunchroom
What’s everyone’s favorite period? Lunch, what else? But with foods like tacos, pizza, or cheeseburgers staring you in the face when you’re at your most hungry, it can be hard to make healthy choices.
Here are some tricks to choosing foods that will keep you focused and active throughout the day — as well as help you grow and develop throughout the school year:
- Get a copy of the menu. If your cafeteria provides a weekly or monthly menu, check it out. Knowing what’s on the menu puts you in control: You can pick and choose which days you want to buy lunch and when you want to bring your own.
- Head for the salad bar. If your school offers a salad bar, take advantage. If you’d rather pack, consider adding carrot sticks, a piece of fresh fruit, or pretzels to your lunch bag.
- Think energy. Some foods are better choices than others for maintaining energy during the day. Choose low-fat proteins, like chicken, beans, or low-fat yogurt and add lots of fruits and veggies to your meal. They’ll provide the vitamins and minerals you need and the energy to get through the day. Foods that have a lot of simple carbohydrates, like sugary snacks, donuts, or french fries may give you a quick rush of energy but it’s not sustainable — which means you’ll be left wanting more soon after you eat. The same is true of drinks filled with caffeine or sugar. You don’t have to cut these out entirely — just enjoy them in moderation.
- Stop for a snack. You can’t concentrate or absorb new knowledge without a well-fed mind and body. So take along a healthy snack, like carrot sticks or trail mix, to stave off hunger between classes (don’t munch during class, though, or you may face a reprimand!). Not only will this keep you going, it will also help you avoid overeating when mealtime finally arrives.
Having a Brain Drain?
School seemed simple when you were younger. Everyone told you where to go, what classes to take, and how to finish your homework. Now things are different; there are so many choices and priorities competing for your time. Stretch yourself too thin and you may find yourself feeling stressed out.
Here are some things you can do to help regain control:
- Plan ahead. Get a wall calendar or personal planner. Mark the dates of midterms, finals, and other tests. Note the due dates of term papers, essays, and other projects as they are assigned. List any other time commitments you have, like basketball practice or play rehearsals. When your calendar starts to fill, learn to say no to additional activities until things calm down.
- Stay ahead. Try not to fall behind. If you feel yourself falling behind and starting to feel frustrated, let your teachers know. It’s better to get help early on than to wait and think you can ace the final if you spend a few nights cramming. Almost everyone struggles with a particular subject or class. If you’re having trouble with a particular subject or homework project, ask your teacher for extra help after class. Taking a few minutes to address the problem right away can save time later, and if your teacher knows that you’re struggling with something, he or she is likely to be more understanding of the situation.
- Listen up. Paying attention in class can actually pay off in the long run. Sure, it’s often easier said than done, but actively listening and taking notes during lectures can make recalling information easier when it comes time to study and remember things.
- Take notes. If you take notes and review them before class begins (or while studying for an exam), you can ask a teacher to go over anything you don’t understand. It can also be helpful to go over notes with a friend after class — as long as you’re confident your friend really grasps the material! Learning good note-taking skills in high school also helps put you ahead of the curve in college, when good lecture notes are key to studying and doing well.
Understanding the American Education System
By Study In the USA
The American education system offers a rich field of choices for international students. There is such an array of schools, programs and locations that the choices may overwhelm students, even those from the U.S. As you begin your school search, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the American education system. Understanding the system will help you narrow your choices and develop your education plan.
The Educational Structure
Primary and Secondary School
Prior to higher education, American students attend primary and secondary school for a combined total of 12 years. These years are referred to as the first through twelfth grades.
Around age six, U.S. children begin primary school, which is most commonly called “elementary school.” They attend five or six years and then go onto secondary school.
Secondary school consists of two programs: the first is “middle school” or “junior high school” and the second program is “high school.” A diploma or certificate is awarded upon graduation from high school. After graduating high school (12th grade), U.S. students may go on to college or university. College or university study is known as “higher education.”
Just like American students, you will have to submit your academic transcripts as part of your application for admission to university or college. Academic transcripts are official copies of your academic work. In the U.S. this includes your “grades” and “grade point average” (GPA), which are measurements of your academic achievement. Courses are commonly graded using percentages, which are converted into letter grades.
The grading system and GPA in the U.S. can be confusing, especially for international students. The interpretation of grades has a lot of variation. For example, two students who attended different schools both submit their transcripts to the same university. They both have 3.5 GPAs, but one student attended an average high school, while the other attended a prestigious school that was academically challenging. The university might interpret their GPAs differently because the two schools have dramatically different standards.
Therefore, there are some crucial things to keep in mind:
- You should find out the U.S. equivalent of the last level of education you completed in your home country.
- Pay close attention to the admission requirements of each university and college, as well as individual degree programs, which may have different requirements than the university.
- Regularly meet with an educational advisor or guidance counselor to make sure you are meeting the requirements.
Your educational advisor or guidance counselor will be able to advise you on whether or not you must spend an extra year or two preparing for U.S. university admission. If an international student entered a U.S. university or college prior to being eligible to attend university in their own country, some countries’ governments and employers may not recognize the students’ U.S. education.
The school calendar usually begins in August or September and continues through May or June. The majority of new students begin in autumn, so it is a good idea for international students to also begin their U.S. university studies at this time. There is a lot of excitement at the beginning of the school year and students form many great friendships during this time, as they are all adjusting to a new phase of academic life. Additionally, many courses are designed for students to take them in sequence, starting in autumn and continuing through the year.
The academic year at many schools is composed of two terms called “semesters.” (Some schools use a three-term calendar known as the “trimester” system.) Still, others further divide the year into the quarter system of four terms, including an optional summer session. Basically, if you exclude the summer session, the academic year is either comprised of two semesters or three quarter terms.
The U.S. Higher Education System: Levels of Study
- First Level: Undergraduate
“The American system is much more open. In Hong Kong you just learn what the teacher writes on the board. In America, you discuss the issues and focus more on ideas.”
A student who is attending a college or university and has not earned a bachelor’s degree, is studying at the undergraduate level. It typically takes about four years to earn a bachelor’s degree. You can either begin your studies in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree at a community college or a four-year university or college.
Your first two years of study you will generally be required to take a wide variety of classes in different subjects, commonly known as prerequisite courses: literature, science, the social sciences, the arts, history, and so forth. This is so you achieve a general knowledge, a foundation, of a variety of subjects prior to focusing on a specific field of study.
Many students choose to study at a community college in order to complete the first two years of prerequisite courses. They will earn an Associate of Arts (AA) transfer degree and then transfer to a four-year university or college.
A “major” is the specific field of study in which your degree is focused. For example, if someone’s major is journalism, they will earn a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. You will be required to take a certain number of courses in this field in order to meet the degree requirements of your major. You must choose your major at the beginning of your third year of school.
A very unique characteristic of the American higher education system is that you can change your major multiple times if you choose. It is extremely common for American students to switch majors at some point in their undergraduate studies. Often, students discover a different field that they excel in or enjoy. The American education system is very flexible. Keep in mind though that switching majors may result in more courses, which means more time and money.
- Second Level: Graduate in Pursuit of a Master’s Degree
Presently, a college or university graduate with a bachelor’s degree may want to seriously think about graduate study in order to enter certain professions or advance their career. This degree is usually mandatory for higher-level positions in library science, engineering, behavioral health and education.
Furthermore, international students from some countries are only permitted to study abroad at a graduate level. You should inquire about the credentials needed to get a job in your country before you apply to a postgraduate university in the USA.
A graduate program is usually a division of a university or college. To gain admission, you will need to take the GRE (graduate record examination). Certain master’s programs require specific tests, such as the LSAT for law school, the GRE or GMAT for business school, and the MCAT for medical school.
Graduate programs in pursuit of a master’s degree typically take one to two years to complete. For example, the MBA (master of business administration) is an extremely popular degree program that takes about two years. Other master’s programs, such as journalism, only take one year.
The majority of a master’s program is spent in classroom study and a graduate student must prepare a long research paper called a “master’s thesis” or complete a “master’s project.”
- Third Level: Graduate in Pursuit of a Doctorate Degree
Many graduate schools consider the attainment of a master’s degree the first step towards earning a PhD (doctorate). But at other schools, students may prepare directly for a doctorate without also earning a master’s degree. It may take three years or more to earn a PhD degree. For international students, it may take as long as five or six years.
For the first two years of the program most doctoral candidates enroll in classes and seminars. At least another year is spent conducting firsthand research and writing a thesis or dissertation. This paper must contain views, designs, or research that have not been previously published.
A doctoral dissertation is a discussion and summary of the current scholarship on a given topic. Most U.S. universities awarding doctorates also require their candidates to have a reading knowledge of two foreign languages, to spend a required length of time “in residence,” to pass a qualifying examination that officially admits candidates to the PhD program, and to pass an oral examination on the same topic as the dissertation.
Characteristics of the U.S. Higher Education System
Classes range from large lectures with several hundred students to smaller classes and seminars (discussion classes) with only a few students. The American university classroom atmosphere is very dynamic. You will be expected to share your opinion, argue your point, participate in class discussions and give presentations. International students find this one of the most surprising aspects of the American education system.
Each week professors usually assign textbook and other readings. You will be expected to keep up-to-date with the required readings and homework so you can participate in class discussions and understand the lectures. Certain degree programs also require students to spend time in the laboratory.
Professors issue grades for each student enrolled in the course. Grades are usually based upon:
- Each professor will have a unique set of class participation requirements, but students are expected to participate in class discussions, especially in seminar classes. This is often a very important factor in determining a student’s grade.
- A midterm examination is usually given during class time.
- One or more research or term papers, or laboratory reports must be submitted for evaluation.
- Possible short exams or quizzes are given. Sometimes professors will give an unannounced “pop quiz.” This doesn’t count heavily toward the grade, but is intended to inspire students to keep up with their assignments and attendance.
- A final examination will be held after the final class meeting.
Each course is worth a certain number of credits or credit hours. This number is roughly the same as the number of hours a student spends in class for that course each week. A course is typically worth three to five credits.
A full-time program at most schools is 12 or 15 credit hours (four or five courses per term) and a certain number of credits must be fulfilled in order to graduate. International students are expected to enroll in a full-time program during each term.
If a student enrolls at a new university before finishing a degree, generally most credits earned at the first school can be used to complete a degree at the new university. This means a student can transfer to another university and still graduate within a reasonable time.
Types of U.S. higher education
1. State College or University
A state school is supported and run by a state or local government. Each of the 50 U.S. states operates at least one state university and possibly several state colleges. Many of these public universities schools have the name of the state, or the actual word “State” in their names: for example, Washington State University and the University of Michigan.
2. Private College or University
These schools are privately run as opposed to being run by a branch of the government. Tuition will usually be higher than state schools. Often, private U.S. universities and colleges are smaller in size than state schools.
Religiously affiliated universities and colleges are private schools. Nearly all these schools welcome students of all religions and beliefs. Yet, there are a percentage of schools that prefer to admit students who hold similar religious beliefs as those in which the school was founded.
3. Community College
Community colleges are two-year colleges that award an associate’s degrees (transferable), as well as certifications. There are many types of associate degrees, but the most important distinguishing factor is whether or not the degree is transferable. Usually, there will be two primary degree tracks: one for academic transfer and the other prepares students to enter the workforce straightaway. University transfer degrees are generally associate of arts or associate of science. Not likely to be transferrable are the associate of applied science degrees and certificates of completion.
Community college graduates most commonly transfer to four-year colleges or universities to complete their degree. Because they can transfer the credits they earned while attending community college, they can complete their bachelor’s degree program in two or more additional years. Many also offer ESL or intensive English language programs, which will prepare students for university-level courses.
If you do not plan to earn a higher degree than the associate’s, you should find out if an associate’s degree will qualify you for a job in your home country.
4. Institute of Technology
An institute of technology is a school that provides at least four years of study in science and technology. Some have graduate programs, while others offer short-term courses.
Balancing Youth Sports and Family Life
How to Find Balance & Reclaim Family Time
By Verywell – Brooke de Lench for MomsTeam
Raising sports active kids is difficult, perhaps more today than ever before. Parents feel pressure to help their kids succeed. They want to keep up with other parents in an increasingly winner-take-all society. Too often, parents just like you feel that if they don’t do everything for their child, they are bad parents.
In fact, surveys show that today’s sport active kids and their parents get too caught up in the crazy sports vortex.
Today’s parents spend eleven hours less a week with their teenagers than they did two decades ago. The average mother spends less than a half hour per day talking with her teens. Only six out of ten 15 and 16 year olds regularly eat dinner with their parents. Family vacations are down by 28 percent. Sports have replaced church on Sunday for many families. Children are being benched for missing practice to be with their families on religious holidays.
Surveys also show that your children most likely lament the lack of parental attention. They want to spend more time with you, not less. They want more free time, not less.
I sincerely believe it’s time to reclaim our family time. Here’s how you can find a balance between your children’s youth sport activities and your family life.
My Top 6 Tips on Finding Balance Between Youth Sports & Family Life:
- Schedule family time.
Set aside one night a week or month as Family Game Night.
Choose a board game, play card games, make tacos, and just be together. Make it sacred time.
- Consider your travel time.
Before you allow your children to play a particular sport, or on a particular team, consider your travel time to practices and games. Other things to consider include: your work schedule as well as your spouses, your children’s school schedule and homework demands, carpool availability, and the needs of other family members.
- Look for balanced sports programs.
Look for leagues and clubs that balance sports, family and school life. Make sure the program emphasizes having fun more than winning. Children shouldn’t be penalized for missing practice on Christmas Eve to be with their family.
- Find a balance between sports.
Introduce your children to sports such as golf, tennis, squash, racquetball, cycling, sailing, windsurfing, rock climbing, jogging, kayaking, rowing, or canoeing that they can enjoy after their competitive careers are over. Encourage your children to engage in sports and activities with you as long as they enjoys them, like bike riding, hiking, skating, sailing, and running. Encourage them to play different sports and avoid early specialization. It will them develop a variety of transferable motor skills such as jumping, running, twisting and simultaneously reduce the risk of overuse injuries that too often result from early specialization.
- Allow for a social life outside of sports
Being on a travel or select team often requires a year-round or near year-round commitment and extensive travel.
If you allow your children to participate, they can end up socially isolated from the family, their peers and the larger community. The athletic role can become so consuming and controlling that their childhood essentially disappears. Early specialization can thus interfere with normal identity development, increasing the risk that a child will develop what psychologists call a one-dimensional self-concept in which they see themselves solely as an athlete instead of just a part of who they are.
- Coach your child’s team on “kid time.”
Too many parents fall victim to the idea that practices have to happen after an adult’s workday is over. This falls during the dinner hour, when children should be spending time with their family. With the new statistics of parents (primarily mothers) working from home, why not get your coaching license and run the practice in the afternoon right after school is over? This will give you time to be with your children and their friends and still be home in time for dinner with the rest of the family.
It is possible to create balance within your family’s everyday life, even with children who participate in sports. But it is up to you as the parents to make certain that your kids don’t over schedule and that they establish the right priorities.
Brooke de Lench, Youth Sports Parenting Expert and author of Home Team Advantage: The Critical Role of Mothers in Youth Sports, has helped over 42 million moms and dads worldwide get the tools and information they need to make their child’s youth sports experience safer, less stressful and more inclusive. For more information on balancing your child’s sports life with your family life, go to http://www.momsteam.com and sign up for Brooke’s free newsletter.
How to Find Balance & Reclaim Family Time
Raising sports active kids is difficult, perhaps more today than ever before. Parents feel pressure to help their kids succeed. They want to keep up with other parents in an increasingly winner-take-all society. Too often, parents just like you feel that if they don’t do everything for their child, they are bad parents.
In fact, surveys show that today’s sport active kids and their parents get too caught up in the crazy sports vortex. Today’s parents spend eleven hours less a week with their teenagers than they did two decades ago. The average mother spends less than a half hour per day talking with her teens. Only six out of ten 15 and 16 year olds regularly eat dinner with their parents. Family vacations are down by 28 percent. Sports have replaced church on Sunday for many families. Children are being benched for missing practice to be with their families on religious holidays.
Surveys also show that your children most likely lament the lack of parental attention. They want to spend more time with you, not less. They want more free time, not less.
I sincerely believe it’s time to reclaim our family time. Here’s how you can find a balance between your children’s youth sport activities and your family life.
My Top 6 Tips on Finding Balance Between Youth Sports & Family Life:
- Schedule family time.
- Set aside one night a week or month as Family Game Night. Choose a board game, play card games, make tacos, and just be together. Make it sacred time.
- Consider your travel time.
- Before you allow your children to play a particular sport, or on a particular team, consider your travel time to practices and games. Other things to consider include: your work schedule as well as your spouses, your children’s school schedule and homework demands, carpool availability, and the needs of other family members.
- Look for balanced sports programs.
- Look for leagues and clubs that balance sports, family and school life. Make sure the program emphasizes having fun more than winning. Children shouldn’t be penalized for missing practice on Christmas Eve to be with their family.
- Find a balance between sports.
- Introduce your children to sports such as golf, tennis, squash, racquetball, cycling, sailing, windsurfing, rock climbing, jogging, kayaking, rowing, or canoeing that they can enjoy after their competitive careers are over. Encourage your children to engage in sports and activities with you as long as they enjoys them, like bike riding, hiking, skating, sailing, and running. Encourage them to play different sports and avoid early specialization. It will them develop a variety of transferable motor skills such as jumping, running, twisting and simultaneously reduce the risk of overuse injuries that too often result from early specialization.
- Allow for a social life outside of sports
- . Being on a travel or select team often requires a year-round or near year-round commitment and extensive travel. If you allow your children to participate, they can end up socially isolated from the family, their peers and the larger community. The athletic role can become so consuming and controlling that their childhood essentially disappears. Early specialization can thus interfere with normal identity development, increasing the risk that a child will develop what psychologists call a one-dimensional self-concept in which they see themselves solely as an athlete instead of just a part of who they are.
- Coach your child’s team on “kid time.”
- Too many parents fall victim to the idea that practices have to happen after an adult’s workday is over. This falls during the dinner hour, when children should be spending time with their family. With the new statistics of parents (primarily mothers) working from home, why not get your coaching license and run the practice in the afternoon right after school is over? This will give you time to be with your children and their friends and still be home in time for dinner with the rest of the family.
It is possible to create balance within your family’s everyday life, even with children who participate in sports. But it is up to you as the parents to make certain that your kids don’t over schedule and that they establish the right priorities
5 Ways Millennials Are Changing Parenting Forever
Here are five ways millennial parents are changing parenthood forever.
1. DISCARDING ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL PARENTING
While Druckerman is quick to assert that America has a ‘parenting problem’ in comparison to its French counterparts, Chua ultimately concludes that the goal of raising ‘happy, strong, and self-reliant’ children is achievable through many parenting methods.
Millennial parents are open-minded and recognize that there is no one ‘right’ way to raise their children. The availability of books like those mentioned above and the Internet provide a wealth of resources, different parenting ideas, and culturally diverse perspectives from which parents can consider all sorts of information and opinions when crafting an individualized approach to family life.
2. MANEUVERING SOCIAL MEDIA
Though these tech-savvy parents may encounter an agonizing cycle of self-doubt and googling that previous generations skipped coupled with the potential negative influences of social media, millennials’ are navigating new technology to the betterment of their parenting styles. For example, Millennial parents are apt to seek advice and support and share experiences.
Also, a Time Survey-Monkey poll of 2,000 millennial parents’ revealed that 81% have shared a photo of their child on social media compared to 70% Gen X and 47% of Baby Boomers. This group’s propensity for social sharing is positively filtering into their children’s lives as their kids create solid social bonds outside school through increased interconnectedness.
Further, Millennials are demonstrating an equal wariness of the pervasive nature of social media and are more likely to be aware of privacy settings to ensure safer sharing.
3. EMBRACING CHANGING NORMS
Millennial parents are moving beyond an archetypal family construct to adopt a more open-minded, , and unconventional perspective on what modern family life looks like. Parenting among this group has become more team-oriented as millennials depart from traditional gender roles in raising children. Moreover, this divergence has translated to a heightened sense of cultivating kids’ identity and gender neutrality unlike the generations before. 50% of millennial parents have contentiously chosen gender-neutral toys compared to 34% of previous generations.
Millennials are also defying conventional notions of marriage, with a lower percentage indicating that marriage before children is essential for parenthood. At the same time, they are more likely to be stay-at-home parents than both Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers.
4. REFLECTING AND QUESTIONING
Millennial parents are moving away from the helicopter parenting of their predecessors, defined by the hovering, hyper-parenting and over-scheduling of the 1990s, to embrace an overall ‘relaxed and responsive approach’. Millennial parents appreciate that unstructured playtime is just as important as other activities, providing kids with much-needed space for independent learning and growth.
Backing off in a big way, millennials are approaching family life in a more democratic fashion by questioning themselves and asking children for input in decision-making. Plus, these parents are emphasizing a renewed focus on empathy to help children garner a greater understanding and engagement with their world.
5. HELPING CHILDREN CULTIVATE A STRONG SENSE OF IDENTITY
Today’s parents are posting everything from ultrasounds to unexpected success and failures, first grade to freshman year, actually creating an alternate sense of self for their children.
Though the effect of millennial parents’ social media sharing has yet to be realized, University of Michigan assistant professor Sarita Schoenebeck illuminates that millennials’ kids will develop both a public and private, autonomous offline identity.
Moreover, millennial parents foster a greater sense of identity and individuality, more so than previous generations, in simply naming their children. The Time Magazine survey indicated that 60% of millennials believe that children should have unique names, compared to 44% of Gen X’ers and 35% of Baby Boomers.
In a generation more ethnically diverse than any other, millennial parents are honing a distinctive parenting style that is defined precisely by its heterogeneity and open-mindedness aimed to cultivate kids’ unique external and internal identity and self-expression.
5 Key Steps to Sticking to a Budget
Why is it so difficult to stick to a budget? This is one of the most frequent questions I get asked, and the biggest problem we all have with starting the process of managing our finances.
Before we start honing in on the resources we have, we’re managing our finances without a purpose, and while we’re getting by on a monthly basis, there is no traction toward bigger financial milestones like: paying off debt, building wealth, giving, or saving regularly.
The solution lies in the keys below and requires regular routine maintenance of our focus, and discipline. Over time we begin to develop bigger budgeting muscles that help us stay on track. The five keys to sticking to a budget will help you win with your money and achieve your goals.
1. Define Goals
Before we decide to start budgeting, it’s helpful to spend a bit of time soul searching. Asking “why” we really want to get a handle on our finances, why do we want to pay off debt, why do we want to build wealth, why do we want to give, why do we want to save money?
These questions help us understand our deep motivations. Keep asking why until you really know the answer. At that point, our dreams can be pulled from the clouds and turned into goals. Put some time restraints and numbers behind goals, because a vague goal is one that is hard to achieve.
Once we know our why, it’s much easier to do the following steps.
2. Monthly Planning
With your “why” in tact, we can start to create a monthly plan (budget) to start chipping away toward the goals we set. By putting together a monthly budget, we’re not only breaking down our bigger goals into smaller goals, but we’re also keeping a closer eye on our monthly expenses.
And since most paychecks and bills come monthly, it’s easier to get into the details and see what’s happening at the monthly level rather than quarterly, or yearly.
Every month is a new opportunity at a better budget that gets us closer to our goals.
3. Make Sacrifices
While keeping an eye on our goals and creating a monthly plan will help us understand what’s happening, sacrifices are what will help us get to our goals faster. Although, I’ll tell you that they won’t seem like sacrifices once you know your why. They will seem more like a shift in priorities.
Before, when we tried to start budgeting or tried to get out of our financial mess, we ran out of will power, and slipped back into old habits and routines. Once we focused our energy on our why, the change in priorities now seemed worth it and more attainable.
Being able to delay gratification because our money would be better directed at our goals is a key turning point in the process to sticking to a budget for the long-term.
4. Momentum Advantage
Once we engage the process we’ll start to see some momentum toward our goals. It’s important to use this to our advantage. To constantly be trading in bad habits for good habits, and building on the momentum that we’ve worked so hard to build.
And once that train gets headed down the tracks, it’s hard to stop!
Most of us avoid the personal finance topic because we think that we’ll never get to have any fun. That’s not true. Of course, there must be sacrifices, but it’s also important to build in some celebrations when we reach our goals.
Of course, we’ll want to be sure that our celebrations don’t de-rail us from all the progress that we’ve made. This could be buying something you put off while working toward your goals, a night on the town, or a trip to your favorite restaurant. Simply calling it a celebration helps make it special.
Take time to celebrate the small victories.
I can tell you from personal experience that this works. It’s hard to get started, but once you do you’ll be on your way to financial success.
For us, our why was being debt free before growing our family (hence the photo). The why at that time seemed like something we just had to do. It drove us to make the sacrifices needed over the next few years to get out of debt, save up a six month emergency fund, and start saving for our future.
We’ve sharpened the tools, discipline, and focus over the years and it’s allowed us to dream bigger dreams. It’s the reason why I made a recent job transition to help others in a similar way.
You have your own dreams and I’d love to help you create a plan to achieve them. Let me know if I can help. You can email me at email@example.com if you want chat about your situation. Or check out the financial coaching page.
Millennials Still Want Kids, Just Not Right Now
Posted in Bloomberg.com
Baby boomer women transformed American family life. They made the choice to have fewer children, work outside the home, and raise children as single moms.
Subsequent generations of women have largely followed their lead. There are no signs that most millennial mothers want to go back to the big families of the post-World War II era, for example. But, just like so-called Generation X, millennials have also made surprising choices of their own, some of which are just starting to show up in demographic data.
When and whether women have kids is a decision with serious economic consequences that affects their education and career trajectories. Boomer women tended to get married and have their first children by age 30. Those who opted for college or graduate school were far more likely to remain childless.
A study released last month of younger boomer women, those born from 1957 to 1964, showed that 70 percent became mothers by 30. By their late forties, 83 percent of them were mothers, with an average of 2 children each.
Here’s a site you may want to keep up. Millennialmarketing tracks the millennial generation of parents.
New Research: “The Millennial Generation Becomes Parents”
If you’re wondering what is up with Millennials, you’re in the right place. MillennialMarketing.com’s team of contributors provides insight and commentary on the latest Millennial consumer and marketing trends.
MillennialMarketing.com was founded in 2008 by a Notre Dame marketing professor. Jeff Fromm and Barkley acquired the blog in 2012.
Posted by: Jeff Fromm
New study reveals how this generation’s behavior and buying habits change after kids
America’s often-watched millennial generation, traditionally viewed as young and unattached, has grown old enough to have children. Among the older half of millennials, those between ages 25-34, there are now 10.8 million households with children. Further, with millennials accounting for 80% of the 4 million annual U.S. births, the number of new millennial parents stands to grow exponentially over the next decade. A new study of 25-34 year-old parents reveals how starting a family has changed—or not changed—this generation’s behavior, values, media consumption and buying habits.
The two-part “Millennials as New Parents” study first analyzed exclusive research records of 10,800,000 millennials with children. The second phase included a one-to-one survey of 1,000 American adults aged 25 to 34 who have children living with them.
“Millennials are often inaccurately portrayed through the prism of youth and all the character traits that go along with it—narcissism, rebellion and entitlement to name a few,” said Jeff Fromm, EVP, Barkley and co-author of the just released book Marketing to Millennials: Reach the Largest and Most Influential Generation of Consumers Ever. “A large portion of millennials have grown up. By overlooking the fact that many millennials are now parents, brands could miss changes in behavior and consumption that directly impact their bottom line.”
When given the choice to shop at one store for the rest of their life, millennial parents gave a surprising answer. Between Amazon.com, Wal-Mart and Target, millennial parents chose Wal-Mart. Even as the world’s most tech-savvy generation, millennials who have kids opted for the brick-and-mortar locations of Wal-Mart and Target over online darling Amazon.com.
When broken down by income level, the answer shifts slightly. High-income millennial parents chose Target, while middle and low income brackets chose Wal-Mart.
Overall, those millennial parents who chose to shop at only Amazon for the rest of their life tend to be the most conservative politically. They still supported Barack Obama in the last election, but by a much smaller margin than those who prefer Walmart or Target. Plus, they are less likely to say they have become more politically liberal since they had kids than the other groups.
How do millennial parents shop?
Before they become parents, millennials rank their favorite brands in order of descending importance as Nike, Sony and Gap, with 10% naming Nike as their top choice. After they become parents, millennials continue to name Nike as their top affinity brand, but at a much lower margin. Only 6% put Nike at the top—followed by Target and Apple at 3% each.
Millennial parents are pragmatic—when compared to before they had children, they buy significantly more based on price than they do on quality. Before they were parents, their buying decisions were 57% on quality. After parenthood, they buy just over 50% on quality.
In some categories—dining and entertainment, apparel, and digital products—the change is more dramatic, with the shift away from quality and toward price dropping as much as 20%.
How do millennials parent?
Fifty percent of millennial parents agree with the statement “I am raising my kids the way I was raised,” while 28% disagree and 22% are neutral. So where do the differences and similarities lie?
Millennial parents’ top concerns are
environmental issues and what their kids eat, with 52% saying they closely monitor their children’s diet and 64% saying the environment has become a top concern now that they are parents.
Boomers, which are often cited as the inventors of the “helicopter parent” phenomenon, may have provoked something of a backlash, now that their millennial children are parents. For example, 61% of these young parents agree, “kids need more unstructured playtime.” Only 21% think their own kids are overscheduled.
Today’s millennial parents show a traditional streak: 48% say, “children do best if a stay-at-home mom raises
What do millennial parents value?
When shopping for products, 50% of millennial parents say they try to buy products that support causes or charities.
“Millennials are often cited as one of the most socially compassionate generations ever,” said Fromm. “The brands that win with millennial parents often help them feel better about themselves through purchases and brand engagement.”
In fact, of the brands that millennial parents favor most—Nike, Target and Apple—every single one has a cause platform. Nike, through its Nike Better World initiative, addresses social issues including health and wellness, Native American culture and sustainability. Target is deeply embedded in the cause arena, with its giving programs covering issues including education, hunger, health and the environment. Apple is an active member of Product (RED) and focuses a large part of its cause effort on sustainability.
When answering the question, “I want my kid(s) to_______”, millennial parents offered insight into what they value most. Ranked in order of importance, 82% want their child to know that they don’t need possessions to make them happy, 77% want their child to graduate college and 56% want their child to excel at sports.
Millennial parents are politically very similar to millennials in general. They voted 58% for Barack Obama—very close to most of the exit polls for millennials in general.
Now that they’re parents, millennials have become more interested in politics—43% are more interested compared to 36% who are not. However, only 30% say they’ve become more politically liberal than before they were parents.
How do millennial views on privacy change after they are parents?
Millennials, the most transparent generation ever, continue to remain heavily connected online even after they become parents. Over 35% of millennial parents claim to have posted on Facebook in the last day.
Millennials as a whole regularly trade private information for perks from brands they favor. However, that willingness falters a bit when millennials become parents, with 48% claiming they are less likely to give up private information about themselves in exchange for promotional perks.
How do millennial men and women parent differently?
When it comes to millennial parents, there are some distinct differences between men and women. Men are much more likely to say that since becoming a parent, they are the same person as before they had children—45% of men agree with that statement, but only 30% of women.
With the growing number of two working-parent households, its not surprising that work-life balance is a key issue for both male and female millennial parents. Here there is strong agreement between the sexes—with 76% of men and 74% of women saying that work-life balance issues have become more important.
“Millennials as New Parents” by the numbers:
Number of US households with adults 25-34 who have children: 10.8 million
Portion of parents married: 63%
Median income: $50,000
Total labor force participation rate: 76%
Labor force participation—women: 61%
Living in urban area: 28%
Living in suburban area: 51%
Living in rural area: 20%
Hispanic population: 16%
African American population: 12%
Caucasian population: 61%
Other minority population: 11%
About the “Millennials as New Parents” Study:
The full content of the “Millennials as New Parents” study will be revealed at the 2013 Share. Like. Buy. Millennial Marketing Conference on September 25-26 in Kansas City. For an advance look at verbatim survey answers or market-specific millennial data, please contact Jeff Fromm, Barkley, at firstname.lastname@example.org or Erica Wren, Barkley, at email@example.com.
From June 14th to June 20th, an online survey was fielded by Vision Critical and conducted and analyzed by Barkley among 1,001 randomly selected American adults age 25 to 34 that have children living with them, and who are Springboard America panelists. The margin of error—which measures sampling variability—is +/- 3.1%, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current age, gender, region, income, and ethnicity Census data to ensure a representative sample. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.
Barkley is one of the top-ten independent agencies in the U.S. The employee-owned company offers a full range of marketing communications services including advertising, innovation labs, public relations, millennial marketing, cause branding, social media, sponsorships and events, relationship marketing, design, media planning and buying, motion graphics, research and interactive marketing. Barkley has offices in Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Boulder and Los Angeles. www.barkleyus.com, @barkleyus, facebook.com/barkleyus
Home for Natural Family Living
5 Ways Outdoor Learning Optimizes Children’s Well-Being
Increasingly, children around the world have fewer and fewer opportunities to play and learn outdoors. Growing evidence shows that the disconnection from nature caused by urbanization and living in a digital era (along with a host of other reasons) is causing the minds and bodies of 21st century children to short-circuit on many levels.
According to a team of international experts, the lack of time spent out-of-doors is triggering a swath of unexpected negative consequences for younger generations. A new study, published today, makes a strong case for policymakers to consider the benefits of implementing outdoor learning as a cost-effective way to improve children’s well-being and quality of life.
“Nature’s Peace Will Flow Into You…While Cares Drop Off Like Autumn Leaves”
Over a hundred years ago, in response to industrialization and mass migration towards city life, there was a 20th century push by people such as President Theodore Roosevelt and Sierra Club founder, John Muir, to encourage Americans to reconnect with Nature. In his 1901 book, On National Parks, Muir wrote,
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings, Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. As age comes on, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but nature’s sources never fail.”
We all know that our daily lives in the 21st century are dominated by portable digital devices and smartphones that have the power to sever our ties with the natural environment—in ways that John Muir could have never imagined. The latest global research shows that in nations around the world, children are losing their freedom to play, explore, and be physically active in their outside environments for a wide range of complex reasons. Being denied the opportunity to explore the outdoors can have detrimental impacts on a child’s physical and psychological development. What can we do to fortify stronger connections with Nature?
In recent years, I’ve written a number of Psychology Today blog posts about the importance of the environment on a child’s education. Over the past 10 years, there’ve been five significant international reviews focused on the childhood benefits of formal and informal learning in natural environments.
As the parent of an 8-year-old, I have a vested interest in keeping my finger on the pulse of the latest empirical findings on various ways to optimize a child’s well-being. My hope in writing about these topics in a public forum is to be a small catalyst for creating a groundswell that motivates policymakers to think outside the box when it comes to keeping our children healthy, happy, and resilient in a topsy-turvy and rapidly changing world.
Outdoor Learning Improves Well-Being by Creating 5 Outcomes:
- Healthy and Happy Body and Mind
- Sociable Confident Person
- Self-Directed Creative Learner
- Effective Contributor
- Active Global Citizen
To read more of this article go to Psychology Today website
Message With A Bottle
List provided by: http://www.amessagewithabottle.com/best-parenting-websites-blogs/
Source Website: Message With A Bottle (nice website and very informative)
The following list of the best parenting websites and blogs have found a way to crunch all the important information for parents.
Here’s my list of the best parenting websites and blogs online today. I’ve broken the parenting website list down into two categories. The serious websites and the not-so serious website. You’re smart enough to understand the difference. At least I hope so, for your kid’s sake. By Message In a Bottle
Best Parenting Websites For Information
http://Cafemom.com — A community where moms can ask questions, give advice and share personal experiences, covering issues from fashion to work.
http://Parents.com— Parents Magazine includes message boards covering pregnancy, children, health, safety, food and…More parenting related topics.
http://Parenting.com— The home of Parenting and BabyTalk Magazines with information on many topics on being a parent.
http://Bundoo.com— Bundoo is a physician-driven resource for expecting parents and new parents of children from 0-4. Our content is evidence-based, and everything is either written or reviewed by doctors. They were recently named as an Official Honoree for this year’s Webby Awards in the Family/Parenting category.
http://Pampers.com–Pampers parenting institute. All about pampers and parenting. Includes email list and other resources online.
http://Mothering.com–is the largest online destination for parents interested in exploring natural and eco-conscious living — including birth and medical choice, breastfeeding, attachment parenting, gentle discipline, educational alternatives, healthy eating and green products.
http://Pbs.org/parents— Resources and expert advice about raising healthy children, encouraging literacy, family-friendly activities.
http://Indiaparenting.com— Information for Indian parents with topics ranging from pregnancy to raising children, including articles on infertility, health and medicine, and Hindu and Muslim baby names.
http://Kellymom.com— Evidence-based information on breastfeeding and parenting issues. Articles on breastfeeding, nutrition for mothers and infants, sleep and other parenting issues.
http://Justmommies.com— Parenting articles and videos on a large range of topics.
http://Askdrsears.com— Get answers questions about kids’ health care, pregnancy and childbirth, breastfeeding and discipline.
http://Modernmom.com— News, tips and advice for today’s mom.
Washington Post Parenting