Thursday, October 28, 2010
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Preschool children don’t understand the concepts “lying” and “telling the truth.” They also may “exaggerate” because they have trouble separating wish from reality. A child may say, “I am the smartest kid ever.” Adults need to understand what the statement means to the child - that she is confident in her abilities and values intelligence. This doesn’t mean she’s a liar.
Around the age of four, children can start to tell the difference between lies and truth and between wrong and right. This doesn’t mean they won’t tell an untruth, though!
Children lie for the same reasons adults do; to avoid getting in trouble, to feel powerful, to take advantage of a situation, to keep a secret, or to help a friend. By ages five or six, a child can tell whether a listener believes a lie or not. Between seven and eight years of age, they understand that not only what they say, but their motives behind what is said can be judged. At ten to eleven years of age children can lie successfully.
What can parents do? Leading by example is key. Children need to depend on adults to tell the truth. A recent survey, however, found adults admitted to lying more than ten time a week.
Also, when you find your child is lying don’t be quick to anger. Take time to calm down before dealing with the lie. Find out the message of and the motive behind the lie. Explain the consequences of lying and use consequences to help your child develop his or her conscience. Have you ever told your child a lie? What was it and for what reason?
Monday, October 25, 2010
A recent study has found that television can be quite a powerful influence on teens’ sexual attitudes and behaviors. As reported in the Journal of Research on Adolescence, researchers from the University of Michigan found that high school students in their study reported a higher endorsement of sexual stereotypes when they watched more talk shows and “sexy” prime-time programs and also when they watched TV to fill their need for companionship.
For example, these students were “more likely to agree that sex is recreational, and that men are sexually driven, and that women are sexual objects”. Their findings also suggest that these students may be relying heavily on media for developing their own social norms and values. Is this a good idea?
The study also found that students who frequently viewed music videos and talk shows and who strongly identified with the main characters in television programs also reported a greater experience with the types of activities frequently featured on TV, such as dating and sexual activity.
This study gives strong argument for parents to monitor their teens in both the real world (such as knowing their peers and whereabouts) and in the surreal world of television. It’s a good idea to know the show your teen is spending time watching and how often. What does your teen like to watch on TV?
Friday, October 22, 2010
Morality refers to social conduct that exhibits good judgment of fairness, honesty and equality. Research studies and analysis have found that teachers who consistently encourage mutual respect in classrooms help develop morality in their students. Experts suggest that teachers who praise a student’s considerations for others or encourage politeness throughout the school day also cultivate a sense of morality in the classroom.
Children may be able to learn morality by putting themselves in someone else’s shoes. In terms of equality, honesty and keeping promises, one study in China found the concept of “If I were you and you were me” to be helpful for children. For example, if the teacher explains how either party would feel regarding the betrayal of a friend who broke a promise, both children learn a moral lesson from the event.
In addition to teachers, close friends also have an impact on moral learning. When children have a close friendship with a least one peer, they are better able to tell the difference between the norms of genuine and close friendships compared to the norms of friendship in the context of a group.
So the next time you visit your child’s school, check out the playground and the company your child keeps. It may be the values of your child’s friends – good or bad – that are helping to shape your child’s view of morality.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Standardized tests are used to measure a child’s learning to see if he or she is ready to advance or if they need extra time to learn. They are also important for school accountability. Because of this, children face increased pressures to perform well on standardized tests, such as FCAT.
One reported outcome of standardized testing has been an increase in the prevalence of test anxiety among school-aged children. According to research published in the Journal of Instructional Psychology, students who experience high levels of test anxiety tend to score lower on standardized tests than student who experience low levels of test anxiety. Nothing shocking about that!
According to the U.S. Department of Education, there are a number of actions parents can take to help prepare their children for tests and reduce their anxiety. First, meet with your child’s teachers on a regular basis to discuss progress and ask teachers for activities you can do with your child at home to help them prepare for tests. Some parents like to conduct “mock” tests using a timer for practice.
Try to provide a quiet and comfortable place at home where your child can study, and on test days, make sure your child is well rested and has had a good breakfast. As a test day approaches, calmly talk to your child about what is coming up and encourage him or her to do his or her best.
You can practice stress and relaxation exercises with your child, too. Deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation or visualization can help. Visit my free on-line Stress Management workshop at http://hillsboroughfcs.ifas.ufl.edu/Stress-Management.html.
Finally, it’s important for parents to avoid placing too much emphasis on their children’s test performance by getting upset over “bad” test scores. Doing this will only place extra pressure on your child to perform and increase their anxiety instead of making it better. Make sure your children know they are loved no matter how they do and that you know they will do well because they are ready!
Monday, October 18, 2010
The research suggests that the neighborhood itself (rather than household income) was the most important in determining outcomes for children.
The research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, followed families over a six year period as they moved in and out of what were considered disadvantaged neighborhoods in Chicago. Neighborhoods were defined as disadvantaged based on their rates of welfare receipt, poverty, unemployment, female-headed household, racial composition and number of children per household.
The research revealed that regardless of whether the families were low or middle-income families, the neighborhood played a more significant role in the development of verbal skills than did economic inequality. Additionally, the researchers reported that living in severely disadvantaged neighborhoods lowered verbal test scores by the equivalent of missing one year of schooling. The strongest effects continued to appear after children had lived in these communities several years.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
While a great deal of research has pointed to the benefit of youth activities – including sports, cultural activities and community organizations, a recent study asked teens to describe their own growth experience in extra curricular activities. The teens participating in the study reported that their extra curricular activities helped them in many ways. As they tried new things, teens learned more about themselves.
They developed personal initiative by learning to set goals they could achieve, working hard and persevering, managing their time and taking responsibility for themselves. The teens also reported that they learned to manage their feelings, especially anger, anxiety and stress.
They developed feelings of loyalty and friendship with peers, even those outside of their existing social network. Additionally they learned not only to work as a team, but also to develop leadership skills. Finally, they also developed an understanding of how their communities operate and enjoyed support from coaches, leaders and community members.
So, as you attempt to navigate what can be challenging teen years, you might want to consider what opportunities your teens have to experience personal growth through participating in organized activities. What activities are your children involved in and how do you think they benefit from them?
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Monday, October 11, 2010
Teenagers begin to interact with each other in more adult ways as they mature. Experts at the University of Florida say this is linked to physical development, and that peer groups may change during the teen years as they grow at different rates. While their bodies are changing, teens also are learning to accept their appearance and not feel pressured into the perfect body image.
Sexual maturity also occurs during the teen years. Teens begin to define what it means to be male or female. And while this can be a time to experiment with their image, most conform to society’s definitions of gender. UF researchers say teens often confuse sexual feelings with intimacy, and most do not get into long-term, intimate relationships until later years.
Another teen process many of us are familiar with is establishing independence from parents and other adults. During these years, teens learn to rely on themselves more. Although many do not gain economic independence until after career training or college, it’s during the teen years that they begin to consider careers and their financial independence.
Teens also begin to determine their own values and beliefs, although research shows these are usually based on their parents’ values and beliefs. They begin to work towards socially responsible behavior, such as employment and marriage. It’s important for parents to remember (particularly when the “going gets tough” with teens) that they still have a tremendous influence on their child’s development.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Responding to peer pressure in a kind but firm tone of voice is the best way to go. Parents can role-play scenarios with teens and come up with ideas for catch-phrases to legitimize the teen’s reasons for not using drugs, such as, “I’ve tried that before and I don’t like it.” Or “No, that’s not my kind of stuff.”
You might help your teen to consider other reasons that refer to consequences, such as “The one time I tried that, I got really sick and threw up all over the place.” Use any idea that will work for your teen and help him or her practice saying it. Another tactic your teen might use is to change the subject, and, if push comes to shove, leave the scene.
Peer pressure is not always the biggest enemy when it comes to substance abuse. The issue is not always outside influences, but those within the family. When teens don’t feel that their family supports them, they are at the greatest risk for problems.
Keep lines of communication open, use active listening while conveying support and concern, and calmly reinforce a “no use” view of drug and alcohol. These are the most effective ways to help teens resist using or depending on drugs and alcohol. Stay involved and stay connected with your teen.
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Monday, October 4, 2010
Barns and garages are both places where children can easily find stored items. From a child’s point of view, these can be great play places. Children climbing on stacks of logs and utility trailers have been killed when these makeshift toys shifted or toppled and crushed them. Broken equipment, such as old cars or parts of cars can also lead to tragedy. Stored chemicals, such as paint, paint thinner and cleaners may also be inviting to children. How can you protect children from harm outdoors?
Extension safety experts recommend that you increase your family’s awareness of dangers and reduce the risks by starting with a safety audit. Walk through your back yard, garages, barns, and shops with your children to identify potential dangers. Explain to them why things are off limits, rather than just telling them “Don’t play on this.”
Once you have completed your safety audit, consider what actions need to be taken. For example, lock sheds and barns and remove all keys from machinery and equipment not in use. Fence off hazardous areas, including retention ponds. Cap and secure all wells. And of course, store hand tools, power tools and toxic chemicals out of reach. Teaching your children about safety and taking the time to secure unsafe places can be the difference between life and death.