Archive | Children and Education

School Days Are Back

Early morning alarms? Yep, move over summer, a new school year is coming!

With the start of school, families face challenges because when school bells ring, so do early-morning alarm clocks. Get ready now for the best school year ever! Use these ideas to prepare your home and family for the busy days ahead.

Ease into the new school year.  The first day of school is not the time for a drastic adjustment.   Household sleep schedules should be acclimated before the big day. Ease the kids back into a routine gradually. During the last two weeks of summer start to re-introduce school year bedtime. Begin waking late sleepers earlier and earlier, closer to the hour they’ll need to get up when school begins.

Don’t neglect meal time schedules!  Younger children, in particular, need to adapt to new meal routines before the school day demands it of them. Plan meals and snacks to accustom your little ones to school day rituals before the new school year begins.

Stay Sane – Create Calendar Central.  Every school year glides on a sea of schedules. With school functions, lunch menus, club meetings and music lessons, how do you keep up and keep everyone straight? Calm the chaos with a family calendar area. Try a centralized site for ALL family calendars and schedules. You’ll need a family event calendar to track activities, school programs and special events. Whammo, you have it: a one-stop shop for family time management.

Form is a lot less important than function. A paper calendar with large squares lets you enter information easily. Pre-printed white board calendars are easy to revise when necessary. Color-coding entries by family member helps keep busy lives straight.  Just choose the calendar format that works for your family and post it in a family use area.  Add other calendars to the area: school lunch menus, class assignment sheets, and sports practice schedules.  When a new event comes up, you’ll know at a glance what the free options are for that day.

Plan before you shop.  August is the second-biggest sales month for clothing retailers. Back to school clothing sales began as early as last month!  Ugh, are you prepared to run the school clothes gauntlet? One of the biggest mistakes we make is to just head out to the store, so prepare before you shop.  Take a couple of hours to assess each child’s clothing needs. Put together a needs list and yes, shop early. With those back-to-school sales beginning in mid-July the good stuff is already waiting for your young learner.

Remember, two of the biggest keys to a student’s success, are getting enough sleep and sticking to a consistent routine. Add a little planned fashion and your child will be ready for a great school year.

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Thigh Gap and Other Teen Eating Disorders

by Shaina Owens, High School Student

I was born with a kangaroo pouch. No matter how many stomach crunches I do, my pouch will not go away. It’s hereditary. Thanks mom. LOL.  It’s cool. I know inside and out, I’m healthy. I eat right, I exercise and I get plenty of rest. Well, most of the time I get plenty of rest. Let’s face it, not everyone has a flawless physique. If all teens could accept that, then maybe they wouldn’t try to achieve the impossible. Instead, they look in the mirror and loathe what they see. They could weigh ninety pounds and consider themselves fat. Ridiculous. I know.

The latest body craze is “Thigh Gap.” It’s a term that references the space between one’s thighs. To some girls, if their thighs touch, then they think their legs are imperfect, as well as the rest of their body. Because of this belief, they take extreme steps to shed the pounds so they can obtain the perfect shape. What they need to know is that Thigh Gap has more to do with biology and less to do with bulk. The position of the pelvis within the frame of the skeleton decides if a person will have a Thigh Gap or not. Starving yourself will not achieve a Thigh Gap.

Anorexia and Bulimia are other forms of eating disorders and they effect 2 out of every 100 teens, ages 13 to 17. Teens who suffer from anorexia skip meals, exercise excessively, sometimes use laxatives, force themselves to vomit and are in constant fear of gaining weight. And despite being bone-thin, they still perceive themselves as obese. Bulimia is just as serious as anorexia. People with bulimia binge eat to the point that they’re about to explode, then force themselves to throw-up. Gross. But, they too have a distorted image of their bodies and are never satisfied with the way they look.

All eating disorders are dangerous. Many experts call them silent killers because people with eating disorders deny their body of the nutrients needed to feed their organs. Overtime, the body deteriorates. The heart and other major organs mal-function and eventually shut down. If caught in time, the damage can be reversed. Unfortunately, most cases go undiagnosed, which in the end, can lead to death.

Some signs of an eating disorder could include any of the following: feeling fat all of the time; skipping meals; becoming thin too fast; lack of energy; a fear of food; stepping on the scales every day; excessive exercising; avoiding special events that serve food; using laxatives, diuretics or enemas more than twice a week; scarf and barf; constant bathroom breaks; and, always unhappy with your body. These are only a few red flags. If you think you suffer with an eating disorder, get help. Tell your parents, a trusted friend, or a school counselor. With the help of medical professionals, eating disorders are treatable.

Depriving your body of food is not the answer to your problems. We’re all made special and unique. No one is perfect. Adopt a healthy mindset and learn to love yourself and love your body. It’s okay if your thighs touch. Mine do.

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Bullying Among Teens

The Ugly Truth

By: Shaina Owens, High School Student

Bullying is not a topic that teens feel comfortable talking about. Too many times our generation looks the other way. We fail to get involved. We fail to stand up for what’s right. And why? Because we’re scared of being targeted. We’re scared of being rejected. We’re scared of being ignored. It’s an ugly situation with too many ugly truths.

To shed more light on the subject, the entertainment industry is doing its part through advertisements and commercials. Local, state and federal government agencies have launched campaigns, conferences and instituted stiffer penalties against schools that fail to appropriately and timely address acts of bullying. Some universities and schools have set up policies and online sites that students can access to report abuse. But, despite all their efforts, bullying is on the rise. Awareness and education can only do so much.

If a difference is to be made, it needs to be made in the home. It needs to start with the family. What children are taught and how they behave in public or even in their own house is a reflection of their upbringing. If a parent embraces the idea that “kids will be kids” or it’s “all part of growing up,” then there lies your problem. A blasé way of thinking is not the solution.

Once a bully, always a bully. Unless the cycle is broke. If not, the belligerent behavior can filter into their adult life. This can lead to destructive life choices, anger issues, alcoholism, drug abuse, mental instability, spousal and/or child abuse, and perhaps prison time.

Another ugly truth is the one I faced. From my elementary school days all the way through my junior high years, I was a victim of bullying. The person that bullied me was the child of two teachers who worked at the school. The crime was reported. My parents got involved. They met with the school officials. They followed the school polices. Conferences were held. Discussions took place. In the end, the bully was never punished. No detention. No ISS. No nothing. The school felt that the bully and I should undergo counseling, together, with another school employee. This proposed a biased set-up from the get go and one that would protect the bully. We went along with their recommendations. Did it solve anything? No. She went her way and I went mine. And that’s the way it’s been ever since.

If a lesson was learned, then it was this. My parents were there for me. They stood by me and they supported me. My mom called local, state and federal officials. She spoke to U.S. and State Congressmen and Senators. She contacted a law firm too. She found out our rights and recourse. My dad was just as diligent. He made it known that our family would not tolerate any form of bullying whatsoever and we would take whatever legal steps necessary to stop it.

So my advice to you is to not lay silent. Speak up and speak out against bullying. You don’t have to be a victim. Be the victor instead. The real truth is you’re the one that can change things for the better. You’re the one that can put an end to bullying. If you need help, advice or information, visit stopbullying.gov. If you want to start a community anti-bully initiative, you can find tips here actagainstviolence.apa.org.

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Ready for Sleepovers

Ready for Sleepovers

By Sue Nelle DeHart

Many kids spend nights away from Mom and Dad and stay with other family members, right? Nowadays it is a normal pattern to have Grandpa and Grandma outings that start at young ages. And if they are lucky, they have cousins of the same age to spend holidays and weekends with. But if kids have none of these, they depend on their parents’ perception of the “right” age for them to be able to sleep away from home.  That age will be determined by a combination of the parents and the child readiness.

A sleepover can be good way to help kids progress to the next level of their emotional intelligence. They develop skills that no money can buy and no teacher can teach. It is one of those things everyone needs to experience on their own.

Here are just some of the advantages of sleepovers:

1.    A sleepover requires flexibility. Kids are forced to leave their comfort zone and take themselves into new territory, into the unknown. With Mom and Dad knowing the trustworthy host family, a sleepover can teach the kids that they can take that risk and survive it.

2.    A sleepover allows kids to examine the differences between their family and the friend’s family. It is a great opportunity to show them different ways of living and to talk about the choices you have made as parents in running your family. These talks will actually increase the bond between you and your kids.

3.    A sleepover is a good way for kids to experience change. This is why most kids prefer to have the sleepover somewhere else, rather than invite their friends to their own house. Change is something kids need from time to time and a sleepover provides plenty of change.

4.    Sleepovers are good opportunities enhance their social skills and independence. They go into a new house with a different set of rules and boundaries and they must learn to sense what those are and to get along – and most of the time they do. Inviting friends to sleepover can teach your child to share their toys, their bed and even their Mom and Dad’s attention.

Keep sleepover short and sweet, don’t add in multiple kids, and plan the sleepover ahead. Prepare for a lot of giggling which is also part of the learning process. Somehow they learn to make giggles and laughs at absolutely nothing.  That lightheartedness is a child’s rite of passage.

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Don’t Enforce The Rules

Don’t Enforce The Rules

By Sue Nelle DeHart

How many times have you heard a parent give direction to a child then add, Do you understand me?”  Children cannot wait to hear a parent talk like this because it means they have reached end of their rope.  The parent has once again reduced his or her authority through hollow, meaningless words.  This happens each time we make statements that can’t or won’t be enforced – when we tell a child what to do or not do, rather than what we will do.

In cases where parents frequently make unenforceable statements, children learn they do not have to do whatever the parent says or asks.  Parental authority is undermined as children test limits, act out and feel a general lack of control.

Some parents do not have these problems because their word is gold.  They understand that they actually have control over themselves and no one else.  The art of making enforceable statements involves talking about ourselves and what we will allow, what we will do, or what we will provide.  For example:

Unenforceable:    “Don’t talk to me like that!”
Enforceable:    “I’ll be glad to listen when your voice is as soft as mine.”

Unenforceable:    “Study NOW, young man!”
Enforceable:    “Feel free to join us for TV when you are finished
studying.”

Unenforceable:    “Be nice to each other, don’t fight.”
Enforceable:    “You’re both welcome to be around me when you
are not fighting.”

Unenforceable:    “As long as you live in this house, you won’t be drinking
alcohol!”
Enforceable:    “When I no longer have to worry about alcohol use,
I’ll let you use my car.”

Parents who make only those statements which they can and do enforce, raise children who believe their parents mean what they say.  Their children seldom test the limits.  This technique needs practice.  You might try, “Hey kids, from now on you need to know that I will be giving you desert when you protect your teeth by brushing.”  It is much easier to withhold a treat than to cram a toothbrush in a child’s mouth!  Simply, talk about what you allow – not what your child can or can’t do.

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Manners Matter

Manners Matter

By Dr. Charles Fay

In all parts of their lives, children with great manners have a powerful advantage over those who do not. They make friends easier, get along better with their teachers, and eventually make much better employees and spouses. Here are four techniques that will give your child this life-long gift:

Tip No. 1: Make a list
Sit down with your kids and make a list of the specific behaviors polite people display. Have fun with this activity. Your written list might look something like:
•    Say “please” and “thank you”
•    Eat with their mouths closed
•    Burp in the privacy of their own rooms
•    Say “excuse me”
•    Hold doors open for people

Tip No. 2: Model these manners
Children learn much more from our actions than from our words

Tip No. 3: Provide kids what they want only when they use manners
When parents use Love and Logic®, they don’t waste their breath lecturing about good manners. Instead, they very politely refuse to provide what their kids want unless they hear a sweet “please” or “thank you” and see the other behaviors on their “manner list.”

For this to work, parents must respond to requests with polite sadness instead of anger or sarcasm. For example, a parent might say in a sad tone of voice, “This is such a bummer. We can’t go to the movies today because you need more practice with manners first.”

A parent who sets this limit, avoids anger or sarcasm, and holds firm by staying home will see a very upset child in the short-term and a much happier, more responsible one in the long-term.

Tip No. 4: Expect them to repay for any embarrassment they cause
If your child continues to be rude, he or she may need to repay you for the embarrassment or inconvenience created. With genuine empathy and sadness, a parent might say, “How sad! Your rudeness at Aunt Mary’s house really drained the energy out of me. I’ve been too tired to clean the bathrooms. When you get them done, I’m sure I’ll feel a whole lot better.” If the child refuses or forgets to do the chore, wise parents don’t lecture or threaten. Instead, they quietly allow their child to “pay” for their bad manners with one of their favorite toys.

Thousands of parents have transformed manner monsters into polite kids who are a pleasure to be around. At one Love and Logic® seminar, a parent commented, “When I used these tips, my boys almost immediately started to shape up. They even warned one of their rather rude friends who was visiting: ‘Better stop burping…Our mom’s gonna make you do chores.”

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