Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Are you "reacting" or "responding" to your child?

Many parents react to their children. That is, they answer with the first word, feeling, or action that comes to mind. When you react, you aren’t making a decision about what outcome you want. Even more than that, if you react, you can’t choose the best way to reach the outcome you want.

Responding to your child means that you take a moment to think about what is really going on before you speak, feel, or act. Responding is much harder than reacting because it takes more time and effort. The time that you take between looking at the event and acting, speaking, or feeling is vital to your relationship with your child. That time, whether it be a few seconds, five minutes, or a day or two, allows you to see things more clearly, in terms of what is happening right now and what you want to happen in the long-term.

An appropriate response is one that fits the situation. Both your child’s age and the specific facts of the occasion are important in deciding what a fitting response is. For example, a fitting response for a baby who is crying differs from a fitting response for a four-year-old or a 10-year-old who is crying. A fitting response for an instance in which a child is running depends on whether that child is running into a busy street or running to the swing set on the play ground.

Responding to your child in an appropriate manner allows you to:

• Think about all the options before you make a decision.

• Answer some basic questions, such as: Do your words get across what you are trying to say? Do your actions match your words? Are your emotions getting in the way of your decision making? Do you know the reasons for your child’s actions or behavior?

• Consider previous, similar events and recall how you handled them

• Be a more consistent parent

• Offer an example of how to make thoughtful decisions

• Build a strong bond with your child

Thursday, January 26, 2012

"I'll Pencil You In" - The Overscheduled Child

In a world where being busy is the norm for most individuals, today's children are no exception. In addition to school, children have a multitude of extracurricular activities and are often jumping from one activity to another. Many parents feel that they should keep their children involved in activities, and doing so will keep them out of trouble. However, an over-worked, over-stressed child may face alternative problems from being too busy.

Research has shown that children involved in extra-curricular activities are less likely to be involved in risky behavior and have higher motivation for achievement. However, some children are over-involved in activities and may experience stress, anxiety, and burnout. Parents must intervene and help their children regulate activity involvement and break time to enjoy childhood.

How do parents recognize that their child is over-scheduled? Research has shown that increases in daily activities lead to higher levels of stress. Bouncing from one activity to another has left many children overwhelmed, stressed, and tired. Here are some questions to ask, to determine whether a child is overscheduled:

• Does the child go from one activity to another with little or no enthusiasm?

• Is the child having trouble sleeping at night?

• Does the child complain of not having enough time to spend with their friends?

• Is the phrase “hurry up or we'll be late” used excessively?

• When did the child last participate in “quality” family time?

• Does your child have time to explore different interests (other than activities) that they may have?

Research has shown an overbooked child leads to a less active teenager. Simply put, over-scheduled children become burned out later in life. Research also suggests that children who have played a sport with intensity for an extended period of time eventually tire of the activity as it becomes routine and just something to pass time, while the love of the sport is lost. The problem with these children is the vast number of activities replaces the experience they have with each. It becomes a struggle between quantity and quality. After burnout, children lose the desire to participate in other activities during later adolescent years and may become idle.

Download the complete publication “I’ll Pencil You in – The Overscheduled Child” By Eboni J. Baugh at: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/FY/FY105300.pdf.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Kids Appreciate Helicopter Parents

News reports and recent research warned parents that becoming overly involved in their children’s lives (helicopter parenting) was creating problems for both the parents and the children. Parents suffered increased anxiety while their children were not maturing as they should, often arrived at college without basic social or survival skills.

To better understand the scope of what many consider the problem of helicopter parenting the College Board and Art and Science Group conducted a survey of college-bound high school seniors. The results surprised the researchers! In the survey conducted by an independent research group, students reported that their parents are much more involved in the matters that affect their future than in day-to-day activities.

By far, the parents showed the greatest interest in their child’s college planning and their children wanted more, not less involvement in their college search process. Also of interest, these parents weren’t writing their children’s essays, rather they were most involved in helping their children plan college costs.

Although there are legitimate concerns about the impact of overly intrusive parental behavior, it’s also important to recognize that students often need and want parental support and input during this significant transition to adulthood.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ways to get your kids to listen

I wait until he is ready to talk

We discuss subjects that interest her

I find quiet time for one-one-one talking

I ask her opinion

We discuss his friends and activities

I try to be positive rather than negative

I tell him how important the issue is to me

I tell her how I feel about her behavior

I tell her I want to focus on our relationship

I make time for us to talk

I treat him with respect

We go out to dinner once a week

I avoid the third-degree

I insist that she listen to me

I let him know I am not perfect

We always talk at dinner or dishes

He listens better to me when I listen to him

I leave the door open for conversation

I am clear about what I want from her

I sit on the side of his bed at night to talk

I ask about things that matter to her

I don’t tell her that her worries are stupid

I show an interest in his friends

I treat his friends with respect when they come over

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New Moms: Take Care of Yourself

Nobody can take your place in your child’s eyes. You are your child’s first and most important teacher! One of the best ways you can teach is by example, because your baby or toddler takes in everything you say and do.

That is why this key—Care for Yourself—is so essential. When you take good care of yourself, you are more likely to be happy and loving. Your child feels it in the sound of your voice, your posture, and the expressions on your face and thrives on it.

“How can I care for myself when I have so much to do?” you might ask. Parents of babies and toddlers often feel tired and frazzled. They worry about doing everything exactly right. It is important to keep in mind that doing well starts with being well. You can learn to reduce stress and nurture yourself. Both you and your child will reap the benefits.

Understanding how much your well-being influences your child is awesome—even scary! Here is the good news: You do not have to be perfect. No one is. Try some of the following ideas to help keep your life in balance.

Although getting enough sleep is vital to your health, it’s often hard to do with a new baby in the house. Allow yourself to nap when your baby does. Also make sure you are exercising and eating right. Recognize your stress symptoms and ask (and accept) for help from family and friends. Keep your adult relationships healthy. Find time for yourself, share your feelings with others and most of all – enjoy that beautiful baby!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Reasons for Needing to Connect & Communicate

To have some influence

To understand

To make a request

To express feelings about their behavior

To teach family values

To check out how they are doing

To set limits and rules

To validate/praise positive behavior

To help them feel loved and valued

To enhance their self esteem

To be sure they don’t engage in dangerous behavior

To counteract the negative effects of media/peers

To see if necessary tasks are completed

To explain family issues/situations

To express our worries and concerns

To discipline or deliver a consequence of behavior

To help them understand the needs of others

To discuss the future

To remind them of responsibilities

To express dissatisfaction

To provide love and support

To gather information about what’s going on

To let them know we’ll be there for them

To get their opinions

To let them know our opinions

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Parents' Negative Styles of Communicating

I say the same thing again and again

Yelling and screaming

I don’t let her have her say

I say, “Because I said so.”

Making threats I can’t (or won’t) follow through on

I become sarcastic

I get angry and frustrated

I am unable to really listen

I feel attached and get defensive

I take what my child says personally

I end the discussion because I’m so emotional

I am unable to end discussions when needed


I lose control and say terrible things

I hate to admit when I’m wrong

I usually back down

I’m too judgmental



I let things build up

I blow up completely

I am angry all the time

I don’t have any fun with my kids

My attitude towards her is very negative

I’m always nagging

I usually try to make him feel guilty & ashamed

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Children's Health Impact on the Family

While parenting most often comes with unbelievable rewards, it also generates its fair share of challenges. One of those challenges can be our children’s health. In a recent study, the U.S. maternal and Child Health Bureau reported that children’s health problems can have dramatic impact on family functioning.

According to the survey, when parents of children with asthma or emotional or behavioral difficulties were asked about the degree of “burden” their children’s health condition created for the family, 16.3% of the parents of children with asthma reported a great deal or a medium amount of impact on their family. Twenty–eight percent of the parents with children who experienced emotional and behavioral difficulties reported a great deal or medium impact on family life.

For families with income below poverty, the impact on children’s health problem can be even greater. For these families, there may be financial losses, and it can also leave these parents vulnerable to losing their jobs when they have to tend to a sick child at home. Children in poor families were also twice as likely as those in higher-income families to have emotional and behavioral difficulties.

There may be some relief, however, in knowing that among children with asthma, the impact on families decline as the children get older. However the study reveals that the challenges get greater for families with children with emotional and behavioral difficulties.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Parents Spending Money on Teens

In a recent study from Teenage Research Unlimited, researchers reported that teens spent 159 BILLION DOLLARS in 2005. My own experience with raising three teenagers tells me that most of these teens were spending their parent’s money!

According to the USDA’s 2005 report on expenditures on children by families, today’s middle-income parents spend approximately $11,000 per teen each year. This figure is based on expenses of housing, food, transportation, clothing, health care, child care and education, and miscellaneous goods and services for youth ages 12 to 17. And the pressure on parents to keep up with cars, cell phones, sports, music and arts, and the other demands of teen living can add up and take a financial toll. For parents who are not financially prepared for the additional costs of the teenager years, this can lead to unexpected debt and additional stress.

What may interest many parents is the study’s finding that teen’s spending was actually down 6% from 2004, with teens reporting that nearly all the decrease was a result of “less access to other people’s money.” The researchers suggest that parents may be more cautious about spending on their children compared to previous years because of rising gas prices and fears of unemployment or layoffs. Yet, teens were not as skeptical. Nearly half of the teens believe they will continue to spend more – so hang on to your credit cards and cash!