Wednesday, October 26, 2011

It's More Than Hormones!

It’s raging hormones! Typically parents blame all the ups and down of raising a teen on that one factor - hormones. Normal teen development is really made up of many changes not only in biology, but also socially, emotionally and intellectually. All of these changes are taking place at the same time. But, the timing and speed of these changes is unique to each teen.

As change occurs, it means many things for the teen: new roles in society, becoming mature sexually, and learning to deal with emotions. Other changes include more advanced thinking abilities. Teens start to consider future goals around education and lifestyle choices.

Teens also begin to recognize and challenge parents’ faults. Teens are striving to become more independent. At the same time they want to stay connected - but in new ways.

As teens experience these changes, parents can be supportive and helpful. Here are some tips:

 With emotional and physical changes, parents should remain calm.

 Discuss issues informally and listen, don’t lecture.

 Avoid comparisons to siblings.

 Recognize the teen’s need for privacy.

As teens gain abilities in thinking and reasoning, realize that a teen who debates is not being defiant. The teen is actually checking out new ideas and is on the way to becoming an independent thinker. Be willing to listen to and talk with your teen about those new ideas, but reserve serious conversations for the more important issues involving health and safety. As teens gain more social skills and want to do more on their own, parents can continue to take a firm approach but with an evolving set of boundaries.

It’s not just hormones. Teens experience many kinds of changes on the way to becoming a competent, caring adult.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Grandmothers as Parents

More than two million U.S. children are being raised by their grandparents. These grandparents are in a unique situation, because for the most part, the children’s biological parents are experiencing problems that keep them from being successful parents.

These grandmothers have tremendous responsibility, taking on the role of the main caregiver to prevent their grandchildren from being placed in foster care.

In a study reported in the Journal of Family Relations, a small sample of care-giving grandmothers reported that they used seven main parenting strategies. They placed a high priority on communicating with their grandchildren. They also took a strong role in the educational process of their grandchildren.

Grandchildren who have been abused, neglected or abandoned may need extra time and support and grandmothers provided encouragement and one-on-one attention for these children. Grandparents also intentionally worked to boost children’s lagging self-esteem.

When grandmothers needed help with parenting, they turned to extended family members. Grandmothers also thought it was important to recruit male relatives to be positive role models for grandsons.

Finally, even if the biological parent was not physically located in the home, they were still present in the children’s minds. Grandmothers found ways to respond to children’s questions about their parents, explaining where they were and what happened to separate them from their children.

Parenting is not easy under any circumstances, and grandmothers who became parents face many unique challenges, yet have many strengths that enable them to be effective parents “the second time around”.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Double Day Work: How Women Cope with Time Demands

In the last 30 years, women have entered the work force in record numbers, yet even as they have taken on employment outside the home, their household duties have usually remained the same. Several expressions have been coined to describe this double duty, such as double day, second shift or double burden. Men and women do seem to be sharing tasks more, especially when they both work outside the home and have young children.

However, across all families, women still carry out most of the unpaid work, including housework, household management, child care, and elder care. A 2005 study printed in the Journal of Marriage and Family reports that women often put in anywhere from 5 to 13 hours more per week than men on household and family care.

As women face the demands of combining work and family, they develop strategies for organizing their lives and accomplishing many tasks. For example, while paid employment takes priority in the scheduling time, women do negotiate with their employers and adapt their work hours when necessary and acceptable to make themselves available for their families.

Working mothers often use weekends to catch up on household chores from the previous week and prepare for the coming week. Sometimes they lower their expectations of what absolutely must be done and reduce their housework so they can spend free time with their families, and they ask their partners and children to share with the load. Double day work provides many time management challenges for women. However, by using various strategies, women can successfully meet the demands of their busy lives.

Source: Lee, Y.S. & Waite, L. (205) Husbands’ and wives’ time spent in housework; A comparison of measure.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Guidelines for Helping Your Child Solve Social Problems

Every child faces problems with their friends and peers at some time. They may be losing a best friend to a new group of peers or fighting with a friend. While painful, these problems are a normal part of growing up. With their parents’ support and guidance, children can learn to solve such problems on their own.

Parents may want to rush in to solve problems for their children, but sometimes all children really need is for their parents to listen with understanding. Before you start giving advice, make sure your child actually wants and is ready for your ideas for solutions. Listen carefully and openly. Stay away from criticizing, belittling, or even talking about a similar experience of your own.

When a child is ready to work on the problem, help your child identify what the true problem is and invite him or her to come up with a list of possible solutions. Go over each idea and talk about the possible consequences of each one. Ask what he or she thinks sounds like the best solution. Talk to him or her about how they are going to put the solution into action or practice what they are going to say or do. Even if your child’s solution isn’t the one you would choose, let him or her use it.

Recognize that just as you survived ups and downs with your friends and peers, your child will too. And remember, most of the time, helping your child think through a problem is the best help you can give.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Older Adults and Physical Activity

Physical activity is any body movement that uses energy, including daily activities such as house or yard work and walking. Regular physical activity helps keep the heart, lungs, bones, muscles, and joints healthy. 

It also helps improve energy level and self-esteem, decrease stress, manage weight, increase strength and flexibility, control arthritis pain, prevent or delay some diseases, such as heart disease and osteoporosis, improve balance and decrease the risk of falling. Being active can help you improve your quality of life and stay independent longer.

Aim for at least 30 minutes of a moderate-intensity endurance activity most days of the week. Moderate-intensity activity should increase your breathing and heart rate. Try walking, yard work, or vacuuming.

Plan to do some strength exercises like lifting weights or using resistance bands 2 or 3 times a week. With stronger muscles, you'll be able to do more things on your own. You don't need fancy weights; use books or cans!

Include balance exercises. Try standing on one leg and then the other, using a chair for balance; practice this three days a week to help prevent falls. Tai chi also helps with balance.

Include gentle stretches to be more flexible and give you more freedom of movement. Never stretch so far that it hurts. Gentle yoga also can help improve flexibility.

Remember the goal is to get at least 30 minutes of activity during the day. It doesn't have to be all at once. Work in the garden in the morning. Mop your floor while watching TV. Take a short walk after dinner. Choose activities that you enjoy and invite a friend along. Vary your activities and routines—try a different walking path.

Set realistic short- and long-term goals. Reward yourself when you reach them! Keep an activity log so you can look back and see how far you've come. Find an exercise partner!

Physical activity actually increases your energy level. Be active for five minutes and if you're tired after that time, stop. But chances are you'll feel like continuing!

Many people find that once they start being active, it feels so good that it becomes fun and enjoyable! But if physical activity sounds overwhelming, don’t despair—if you haven’t been active, start slowly and increase your activity gradually. Remember, doing something is better than doing nothing!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Playing With Your Child

Play is a vital part of a child’s development. Play is your child’s work. It’s as important to your child as your job is to you. Play teaches cooperation, trust and independence. It also builds self-esteem. It gives children the chance to get to know themselves, the world, and other people.

Find out what your children like to play and join them. Set aside an hour or two each week for play time. This will help you and your children to communicate well. Turn housework into play by sharing chores with them and making a game out of it.

If you feel you don’t have time to play with your child or that you are too tired, think of how important play is to your child’s growth and development. Children also want to be heard. Show them you care by listening to their feelings and dreams. From your example, they will learn how to respect and listen to others.

Give your child your full attention. Stop what you are doing and look at your child while she speaks to you. Sit or place yourself at her level.

Try to understand the world from your child’s point of view. Unkind words tell children that they are not good enough. They hurt and tear down self-esteem. Praise your child for his independent ideas. Take time to really listen to your child. Express your love freely and always use kind words.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Three Rules About How Babies Grow

#1.Change occurs in an orderly way. For example, babies first learn to hold their heads up, then roll over, and then to sit. Once they are able to sit up alone, they do not forget how to do that. They naturally move on to creeping, crawling, and standing.

#2.Development happens at different rates for each child. There is a wide age range in which normally developing children gain new skills. A child may be further along in one area than another. For example, an 18-month-old may be putting lots of energy into walking and running but may not yet be talking much.

#3.There are windows of opportunity during the first three years for a child to learn many basic abilities. A window of opportunity is a limited period of time—a few weeks or months—when it is especially easy for a baby to develop a certain ability. At these times, connections between brain cells get stronger and multiply.

You can tell when your baby has entered one of these periods because he begins to do new things. You can help him open his windows of opportunity during these special, important times. As you play and care for him, notice what he especially likes so you can help supply certain kinds of learning experiences.

Watch your baby with fascination to see changes happening. Enjoy and celebrate each day with your child. Respond to your child with smiles and words. Get other family members involved in caring and playing with your child. Be patient! Sometimes babies and toddlers seem to backtrack, but not for long. Your baby will continue to develop.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Suggestions for Stepfamilies

All families have difficulties; children playing one parent against another, communication difficulties, money issues, and parents finding time to be alone. Stepfamilies are no different. It takes up to three years for a combined family to start working like a family. Practice patience!

For parents it is critically important that you come to terms with your past. New partners deserve someone who has explored the good and bad of a previous marriage. The emotional well-being of each person is important for a healthy, new marriage. So take stock of your emotional health and do the work that is required to make yourself a relationship asset.

Each parent should strive to have good communication with the children’s other parent. That lays a foundation that meets the needs of the children as you parent apart. Communicate with ex-partners and understand that children living in two families need respectful and caring relationships in stepfamilies and, whenever possible, with birth parents.


 Love your children no matter what.

 Provide an environment with rules, expectations, and limits.

 Remember that children don’t always listen to you but they are always watching you. Modeling is important - remember to treat your former spouse civilly. Then your children will behave more civil themselves.

 The biological parent should be the primary disciplinarian. In time a stepparent has more authority. In the absence of the biological parent, the stepparent should have authority and support of the biological parent. The new parent may provide insight for a biological parent who’s willing to listen.

 First time parents may want to take a parenting class.

 Stepparents should not try to replace the parent. You are special and unique and in time will create your own relationship with the children. Allow for the biological parent to have time alone with their children.

 The new parent should be a spouse first and give the parent role time and space to develop.

Pay attention to your marriage and do something together beyond everyday duties. Your relationship will gain depth and increased satisfaction.

Finally, you will bring traditions and activities from your previous life. Add to these by creating new traditions and enjoying activities as a new family. The results will bring stability in marriage.