Thursday, January 31, 2013

What Middle-Schoolers Want to Talk About

Can your middle-schooler talk to you? Most 10- to 14-year-olds want a warm, close relationship with their parents. However, only about a quarter of adolescents nationwide find their parents "approachable and available" to talk.

What do young teens want to talk about? A study appearing in the journal Family Relations asked a sample of middle school students, "If you could ask your mom or dad any question and know you would get an honest answer, what question would you ask?"

The largest percentage of youth (44%) turned in questions about family, especially questions about the parent-child relationship. They asked questions about rules and responsibilities, such as "'Are some of your rules really necessary?'" They also wondered about parental love and asked, "Do you think I am really important?'" Some questions had to do with feeling connected, such as, "Why don't you have any time for me?" Trust and conflict also came up around issues of privacy and respect. Only 1 in 4 middle schoolers turned in questions about dating, drugs, puberty, and school, the topics that parents tend to talk about.

To keep the family relationship strong, parents will need to be open to listening to what their young adolescents want to talk about, and not impose their own agenda. Youth may be less interested in talking about sensitive subjects as parents would expect, and more likely to want to discuss understanding each other, getting along, expressing love, and understanding themselves.

Family Album Radio

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Some Notes on Your Adolescent’s Behavior

The adolescent years (12 to 17) are the in-between years when a pre-teen or teen is neither a child nor an adult. These are the years of many physical and emotional changes which cause confusion and frustration for both parent and adolescent.

These are exciting years for the young person seeking independence. They can also be scary years for the adolescent who has to give up the security of childhood, and take on the responsibilities of young adulthood.

The adolescent stage can take a long time. It’s a tough job; the teenager needs the help and understanding of his parents if he/she is going to emerge as a responsible and caring person.

Misunderstandings can sometime make it hard for parents and teenagers to get together during the adolescent years. Your child, who is trying to gain a new sense of individuality and independence, may reject your help and reach out to his or her friends. The teen may view her parents as adults who are trying to hold her back, tell her what to do, and restrict her freedom.

Parents may also be confused or frightened by the sudden changes in their adolescent. They may be impatient with this new challenge to their authority. They may be upset with her changing moods. They may worry about his activities with his friends - especially since he is less willing to tell his parents what he feels, where he is going, who he is with, and what he is doing.

Think of adolescent growth as a puzzle, although each piece is different, each stage builds on the previous one. When the last piece is snapped in place, you have the satisfaction of knowing you helped to create a beautiful, unique and wonderful human being.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Stress Management Techniques

Are the "post holiday" blues getting the best of you? Getting stressed in traffic? Worried about your finances or loved ones? Worried about paying the bills? You are not alone. Stress is a daily part of life and can cause both health and emotional problems. Experts suggest that we manage our stress in order to prevent having these negative results. Here are some tips for managing stress:

First, if you are under a lot of stress, take better care of yourself than usual because you are more at risk for getting sick. Try to eat healthier, get enough rest, and exercise regularly. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as well as other drugs.

Second, you may want to work on relaxing your muscles. One way to do this is to use heat, such as a hot shower or bath, or even a heating pad. Exercise can both relax muscles and increase endorphins, which help improve mood. Another way to relax your muscles is to use a technique in which muscles are tensed and then relaxed. Yoga and meditation may also help with muscle relaxation, and may provide other benefits in dealing with stress.

Third, try to think about things in a different way. This might mean looking at the situation differently, distracting yourself, or even using humor. Recent research suggests that humor provides a helpful way to combat the negative effects of stress.

Finally, breathe deeply and slowly to help your body relax. This can have a calming effect and can be done anywhere, anytime, and without any tools but your own sound body and mind.

Source: Family Album Radio

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Talking to Your Teens about Dating

Talking to teenagers about dating may seem like a daunting task to some parents who are thinking their teen will assume the "Oh no, not another parent talk again" posture. You know the one—head cocked, eyes rolled, and arms crossed. However, talking about it can be very important in determining how your teen approaches dating and his or her future relationships.

According to family and adolescent researchers, peers may influence a teen's dating life, but parents and families should have the final say. Begin by maintaining a loving, supportive relationship with your teen and keeping open lines of communication.

Be willing to discuss your own relationship experiences with your teen. Share how you define a healthy versus unhealthy relationship. If you're currently in a significant relationship, serve as a role model for healthy relationship behavior to your teen. Also, consider joining your teen in watching his or her favorite television programs, especially those that involve teens having romantic relationships. Refrain from commenting during the show and take time for discussion when the show is over. Let her or him know your views and values on dating with an optimistic attitude.

Overall, it's important to provide a safe and secure base for open communication with your teen and guide your teen with open-ended questions to help them think about their own expectations and values in relationships. Parents can use their knowledge of both the promise and pitfalls of dating in the teen years to discuss dating openly with their children.

Source: Family Album Radio, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Toddlers and Learning to Share

 Toddlers enjoy playing next to other children. They are not very good at playing with other children. We call this “parallel play.” Sharing is one of the things toddlers tend to have trouble with. They just don’t understand the concept of sharing, yet. Parents can “train” their toddler to hand over a toy, but the concept of sharing has not taken hold. They think that sharing a toy is the same as giving it away.

It is very common for a toddler to give someone a toy and then expect it to be given right back. It sure makes for a fun game for awhile.

When toddlers are together it’s better and easier to give them similar toys to play with. For example, two trucks can prevent many squabbles and may even help children to cooperate and communication better. Of course, it doesn’t mean that one or both toddlers won’t insist on having the other child’s truck!

If your toddler does share, praise him or her for it. But respect s toddler’s need to protect and guard the things they treasure.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

School Mental Health Services

National data from several studies show that millions of U.S. children and youth suffer from mental illness, ranging in severity from daily sadness to major depression or suicide attempts.

Many children's conditions go undetected and untreated. Those who do get help are most likely to receive mental health services from professionals at their public school, such as guidance counselors, school psychologists, and school social workers.

In a recent report on school mental health services, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services presented the results of a national survey of public K-12 schools and district offices. Nearly three-fourths of schools "reported that 'social, interpersonal or family problems' were the most frequent mental health problems for both male and female students." This extended across elementary, middle, and high schools.

For boys, the second most frequent problem was aggression or disruptive behavior, and the third most common was behavior problems connected with neurological disorders such as ADHD. For girls, the second and third most common problems were anxiety and adjustment issues. Fortunately, several mental health services were available to these students at the vast majority of schools.3 However, services are often insufficient—nearly 70% of districts faced an increased need for mental health services at the same time that funding was decreasing. Over half of schools said that families could not afford additional services they needed, leaving many of our children at risk.
Source: Suzanna Smith for Family Album Radio, University of Florida Extension

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Parents are Human

Parents sometimes think they have to be right all the time. Parents are human; we can make mistakes, and we have feelings, too. We can get angry, upset, frustrated, depressed. We can say and do the “wrong” things sometimes. Why not accept this as part of living, and go on from there?

Instead of trying to be perfect, and live up to an ideal image of a parent, why not admit to yourself and your kids that you make mistakes sometimes just like everyone else? Sharing your feelings with your children helps them to see adults more realistically, and gives them a more accurate model of adult life.

Learn to apologize to your children when necessary. Teach your children how to admit their mistakes - a difficult (if not impossible) task for children. Teach them how to correct a wrong if this is necessary or possible and talk about a plan to prevent the same mistake from happening again.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Single Parents - Start Enjoying Your Future Now!

New Year’s Eve conjures up images of festive party-goers celebrating the start of another new year. But for many single parents bogged down with too many responsibilities, money worries, and loneliness, the start of a new year can be anything but festive. Single parents are often so focused on our own worries and responsibilities that we are not able to enjoy life and all it has to offer.

Many parents (single or co-parenting) go so far as to postpone their happiness until a future time – “I’ll devote myself to my children now and after they’re grown, it will be my turn.”  Make a New Year’s resolution to stop letting life’s challenges get in the way of your enjoyment of the present and start enjoying your future.

Come to grips with your past relationship. You can’t fully enjoy the present or look forward to a brighter future until you can let go of the past. You may be feeling anger, resentment, pain, etc. Make an effort to put these feelings behind you in 2013. Rather than dwell on the negatives of the past, concentrate on what you learned from the relationship.

Make one important change in your life this year. Take a moment to reflect on your life. List the aspects of your life that you are happy with. Then list those things which you would like to change. Choose one thing and make this a goal for the New Year.

Get a life. Many times we become so overwhelmed with the day-to-day struggles of trying to make ends meet that we lose sight of the exciting experiences life has to offer. Don’t settle for just surviving from day to day. Start looking forward to what the future has in store for you. Be open to new people, places, ideas and experiences. Attend meetings, plays, or any social event where the public gathers. Don’t be afraid to go alone or to take the children with you.

Take charge of your life. Recognize that your happiness depends on your attitude. Everyone has problems. Not allowing these problems to control your life is the key to being a happier person. Make a resolution to face the New Year with a positive outlook.

Take care of you. Eat right, make exercise a regular part of your life, manage your stress, and get enough sleep. Not only will these practices help you feel better about yourself and allow you to enjoy life more, but will also help you cope with those curve balls life sends your way.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year’s Resolution: Exercise

If your New Years’ Resolution is to get more exercise, you have lots of company. Exercise can help you function better and reduce your risk for getting some diseases, such as diabetes.  

If you’re not active, what’s stopping you from getting started? Read on for suggestions from Jennifer Hillan and Linda B. Bobroff, UF Extension, to learn how to overcome some common barriers!

I don’t have time to exercise for 30 minutes every day. Do as much as you can. Every bit of activity adds up! Start with 10 minutes a day and gradually add more time. You don’t have to be active for 30 minutes all at once. Try spreading your activities out throughout the day.

·         It’s not safe to walk in my neighborhood. Find an indoor activity, such as an exercise class at a community center or walking at the mall. You can even walk around your house!

·         I don’t like to exercise in a group. Choose something you can do on your own, such as walking outside or following an exercise program on TV or DVD.

·         Physical activity is boring. Find an activity you enjoy. Ask a friend to be active with you. Vary your routine.

·         It’s too hot outside. Walk inside a shopping center or grocery store or use an exercise DVD at home.

·         I don’t have the right clothes.  Wear anything that is comfortable! Be sure your shoes fit well and your socks don’t irritate your skin.

·         Walking hurts my knees, and I have bad balance. Try chair dancing, swimming, or water aerobics.

·         I’m afraid I’ll make my condition worse. Talk with your health care provider to learn what activities are safe for you.

·         I can’t afford to join a fitness center or buy expensive equipment.  All you need is a good pair of walking shoes and socks!

·         I’m afraid I’ll get low blood glucose.  If you’re taking medication that can cause low blood glucose, talk to your health care provider about how to exercise safely.