Monday, August 30, 2010

Homework Frustrations: Tips to Relieve Homework Stress

Schools are back in session. Teens that have been swimming, surfing, enjoying the beach, traveling or simply sleeping in over the summer are now faced with studies, homework and deadlines.

What can you do as a parent to help them overcome this hump and get them back into the study habits?

8 Ways Parents Can Help With Homework:

1. Offer encouragement. Give your child praise for efforts and for completing assignments.
2. Be available. Encourage your child to do the work independently, but be available for assistance.
3. Maintain a schedule. Establish a set time to do homework each day. You may want to use a calendar to keep track of assignments and due dates.
4. Designate space. Provide a space for homework, stocked with necessary supplies, such as pencils, pens, paper, dictionaries, a computer, and other reference materials.
5. Provide discipline. Help your child focus on homework by removing distractions, such as television, radio, telephone, and interruptions from siblings and friends.
6. Be a role model. Consider doing some of your work, such as paying bills or writing letters, during your child's homework time.
7. Be supportive. Talk to your child about difficulties with homework. Be willing to talk to your child's teacher to resolve problems in a positive manner.
8. Involvement. Familiarize yourself with the teacher's homework policy. Make sure that you and your child understand the teacher's expectations. At the beginning of the year, you may want to ask your child's teacher these questions: What kinds of assignments will you give? How often do you give homework? How much time are the students expected to spend on them? What type of involvement do you expect from parents?

Sources: Chicago Public Schools, Connect with Kids

Be an educated parent; your teens will have a better school year!

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Teen Cheating in the 21st Century - High Tech Society

School is open in St. Johns County, homework is starting and exams will soon follow.  High-tech cheating is a concern for both teachers and parents.  Cheating has been an issue for years, however with the latest technology of gadgets teens are carrying, cheating can be much easier now.

An edition of the Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth, a comprehensive national survey on the ethics of young people administered by The Josephson Institute of Ethics showed the following concerning high school students:
  • Nearly two-thirds (71%) admit they cheated on an exam at least once in the past 12 months (45% said they did so two or more times)
  •  Almost all (92%) lied to their parents in the past 12 months (79% said they did so two or more times)
  • Over two-thirds (78%) lied to a teacher (58% two or more times)
  • Over one-quarter (27%) said they would lie to get a job
  • 40% of males and 30% of females say they stole something from a store in the past 12 months
How are teachers combating these staggering numbers?  Some are turning to a website called TurnItIn which can help prevent plagiarism.  TurnItIn2 is coming on September 4th, 2010.

Parents need to speak with their teens about the consequences of cheating.  Cheating isn't the answer when you are struggling with a subject.  Offer your teen the extra academic help they may need.  Teach them that character counts and cheating only decreases your chances of a sound and bright future.

Learn more about Character Counts Week coming in October, click here.  Register today and be an educated parent.  Give your teen the boost they need and encourage them to learn all they can learn and when they have difficulties, there are people here to help.

Sources: Connect with Kids, Readers Digest, Josephson Institute of Ethics

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Bullying Prevention and Awareness - BLUE SHIRT DAY

As school opened many will not forget last year's headlines about Broward County students Michael Brewer and Josie Ratley.

Michael Brewer, 15 year-old that was nearly burned to death last October 2009, has spent almost a year in recovery.  The long road back has been a struggle however with the support and prayers from the community and the country, Michael and his family are survivors.

This week Michael Brewer started a new school in a new area.  He is continuing his progress and looking forward to a good school year.  Part of his determination is being a voice for the many victims of bullying.  Creating an awareness and being the survivor he is.

Bullying is a growing and expanding problem among kids today.  As school opens throughout the country in these next few weeks, take the time to learn more about bullying prevention and bullying awareness.
You can take part in being a voice to STOMP Out Bullying.  Get your schools involved in Blue Shirt Day!

Join Love Our Children USA on Monday, October 4th! Make a statement against bullying and cyberbullying and STOMP Out Bullying! 

Make October 4th the day that bullying and cyberbullying prevention is heard around the world by wearing a BLUE SHIRT in solidarity to STOMP Out Bullying!

To signify the importance of National Bullying Prevention Awareness Week from October 3rd - 9th, Love Our Children USA created NATIONAL BLUE SHIRT DAY. Specifically the first Monday of every October -- this year on Monday, October 4th, they are asking kids, teens and adults to participate in NATIONAL BLUE SHIRT DAY by wearing a blue shirt to STOMP Out Bullying.

Whether you order  a Blue Shirt from Love Our Children USA or wear your own blue shirt, you'll be sending a message to everyone to end bullying and cyberbullying. 

Read more.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Teen Help Programs: Building a Teen Back Up to Make Better Choices

Yes, some parents need the assistance of outside help when their teen goes down a negative path.  Finding the right program for your individual needs can be a daunting and confusing experiences.  How do I know?  I have been there.  I made all the mistakes so hopefully you don't have to.  My story is at

My story and organization is about educating parents - guiding them - and letting them know that punishing your child by trying to find a Boot Camp or Scared Straight program is not only a temporary fix (if it really does fix anything is debatable) it is not an option I would consider.  In most cases these types of programs only build more anger and resentment towards the parent or guardian that sent them to it.

Looking for a program that promotes positive enrichment programs as well as the clinical component with a good strength on academics.  Wilderness programs usually offer zero education - they are short term programs with short term results - and almost always need to continue on to a residential therapy program.

Sure, Wilderness may break your child down - get them ready for residential therapy, but correct me if I am wrong, isn't your teen already broken down?  Why are they acting out?  Don't  you think finding the right program from beginning to end would be more beneficial to your teen?  Consistency is key!  They lack it now - they need it for recovery.  Then again, maybe there is a double dip process they don't want you to know about.... Just my opinion.

I am a parent that firmly believes we need good residential programs - but they need three major and strong elements - Education/Academics, Clinical/Therapists "on staff" and Enrichment programs to engage your teens in a positive direction!

Learn more at - don't wait until you are in a crisis situation.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Teen Issues - Tips for Parents to Get them to Open Up

A common thread among parenting teens today is getting our teen to actually listen to us and open up.  Maybe they hear us, but do they listen?  Many know communication is key to parenting, but how can you get a teen to open up?

Dr. Michele Borba, Parenting Expert and Educator, offers excellent tips to help us get in touch and stay in touch with our teens.  As an author of over 25 parenting books, she has sound advice and proven results with extensive research.  Her latest book, Big Book of Parenting Solutions, has been one of the top selling parenting book and every parent and teacher must own.

From the expert herself, take the time to review Michele Borba's expert advice to help your teens to open up.
  • Don’t push. Think of friends you really feel comfortable talking to. They’re usually calm, open, and not pushy. Use those same listening strategies whenever you’re with your child.
  • Honor silence. Research shows that some kids need a bit longer to open up. So don’t give up during those lulls. Just wait a little longer.
  • Halt the criticism. If you need to bite your tongue to stop those critical, judgmental comments, do so. Don’t come off like a prosecutor or judge. Nothing stops a conversation faster than those “You should have” kind of comments.
  • Listen during active times. Some kids–particularly boys–are more responsive to talking when they are doing something active. So find active things your child likes to do whether it is kicking around a soccer ball, playing Old Maid, building Legoes, drawing, or shooting baskets. Use those active times for those chats. You just may find your kid is more receptive to talking.
  • Talk about your kid’s interests. Try tailoring the conversation around your child’s interests: her CD collection, his baseball cards, her Barbie doll, his Ipod downloads. Doing so might be a great entrĂ©e to discussing about what’s really going on your son or daughter’s life. One of my clients admitted that she read Teen People just to find some tidbit about some hot celeb to chat about with her daughter.
  • Go to your kid’s zone. If you want some one-on-one talking time, try going to a place your kid enjoys: A mall to look for shoes, the batting cage to practice his swing, the golf range to hit a bucket of balls, a Starbucks for a latte. Your teen will be more relaxed because he’s in his territory and just might be more likely to open up to you.
  • Ask specific questions. Kids say generic: “How was your day?” type questions are a big turn off. If you want to invite conversation ask more specific questions: “Who did you sit next to during lunch?” “What story did your teacher read today?” “What game did you play at recess?” You’ll be far more likely to get a response because the question conveys your real interest.
  • Ask questions that elicit more than one-word responses. Make skillful use of your questions so that your child must respond with more than a one-word answer: “How would you have ended that book?” “What would you have done differently in the game?” “What are your feelings about…?”
  • Find the best time and place for listening. With one of my own sons I realized it was almost impossible to talk with him before noon.(I swear he was on a different time zone is whole adolescence). I finally discovered the time he was most open to chatting was around five o’clock in the afternoon. And the place was in the kitchen where he would raid the refrigerator. So that’s where I’d plant myself each day knowing it was my best shot for a conversation. Which place and time is when you and your kids are most likely to have those great talks?
  • Sit side by side. This one is interesting: some kids—particularly boys–are often more receptive to talking side by side. Face to face chats–especially during those teens years—put them ill at ease. So try rearranging your chair. Sit next to your son on the couch and chat during those TV commercials. Take advantage of those rides in the car to discuss those CD lyrics. Or do what I did: learn to ski so you can sit on that chair lift with your kid. There is a twenty-minute time period they are stuck with ya!
  • Mandate family together times. If your home is anywhere like ours, sports, church group meetings, music lessons, and play practices used to constantly appear on the calendar, taking away fro our “together time.” So we finally sat down and figured out the times no one had anything scheduled, and those were mandated for our together times to just talk. If your family schedule is equally hectic, you may want to set aside specific times as well. Then don’t let anything interfere with your plan.
  • Set unplugged times. Many parents set an “unplugged policy” from six to eight in the evening. They’ve figured that’s the time when their family gathers for family meals and to share their day. The rule sends a clear message to the kiddos: family comes first. Set times in your home where listening to your kids with your full presence matters most. And turn on those answering machines!
Thank you to Michele Borba for sharing her excellent parent tips.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer and healthier teens.

Read more and watch video.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Sextortion: Teens Blackmailing Teens

Do parents really need yet another concern with raising today's teenagers?  With the expanding Internet and texting we had to deal with sexting.  As many predicted, it was only going to get worse, and it has.

Sextortion.  What is it? Teens blackmailing other teens for what they do online.  Taking those photo's that you believe are going to be private and threatening to expose them in the most ugliness ways.  Why? Just because they can and to hurt others and some may even consider it a form of revenge: E-venge style.
Teens can be more vulnerable to blackmail because they're easy to intimidate and embarrassed to seek help, this is even more reason for parents to open the lines of communication now.

Tips to prevent sexting that can lead to sextortion:
  • Don't take or send nude or sexually suggestive photos of yourself or anyone else. If you do, even if they're of you or you pass along someone else's - you could be charged with producing or distributing child pornography. If you keep them on your phone or computer you could be charged with possession. If they go to someone in another state (and that happens really easily), it's a federal felony.

  • Then there's the emotional (and reputation) damage that can come from having intimate photos of yourself go to a friend who can become an ex-friend and send it to everyone you know. Not only can they be sent around; they can be distributed and archived online for people to search for pretty much forever.

  • Sexting can be done on any media-sharing device or technology - including email and the Web. Teens have been convicted for child porn distribution for emailing sexually explicit photos to each other.
  • Many causes. In some cases, kids are responding to peer pressure in a form of cyberbullying or pressure from a boyfriend or girlfriend (they break up, and sometimes those photos get sent around out of revenge). Sometimes it's impulsive behavior, flirting, or even blackmail. It's always a bad idea.
  • Parents: Talk with your kids about sexting in a relaxed setting. Ask them what they know about it (they may not have heard the term, so "naked photo-sharing" works too). Express how you feel in a conversational, non-confrontational way. A two-way dialog can go a long way toward helping your kids understand how to minimize legal, social and reputation risks.
  • The bottom line: Stay alert when using digital media. People aren't always who they seem to be, even in real life, and sometimes they change and do mean things. Critical thinking about what we upload as well as download is the best protection.

Be an educated parent, talk to your teens today and you will have safer teens.  

Remember, education is the key to prevention!

WATCH VIDEO and read more.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Teen Health - Snacking in Style

Help Your Teen Find Healthy and Energetic Snacks

Life is perhaps the most difficult when you’re a teenager; of course, being an adult brings its share of worry and responsibilities, but you also have the maturity and hindsight that a teenager lacks. They’re caught between their parents and their friends, they’re torn between doing what is right and what comes instinctively, and most of all, they battle the bulge as they struggle to remain slim (because it matters more than anything in their world) even as they’re tempted by lure of fast food and sugary sodas. It’s up to you as a parent to ensure that they look and feel great by helping them find and eat the right snacks.

It’s not too hard to prepare and provide them with healthy snacks that boost their energy and keep hunger pangs away; the most difficult part is getting them to avoid junk food and eat healthier options. While adults are forced to exercise and stick to healthy diets because they’re worried about their health, to a teen, all that matters is how they look and whether they’re going to be accepted by their peers. So use their weakness as your strength – get them sold on the idea of healthy snacks by promoting them as ways to look great and keep their skin smooth and clear of acne.

It’s the only language teens understand, and it’s also the truth – when they go overboard on fast food and sugary drinks, they gain weight and lose their complexions; they begin to pasty and plump instead of slim and sexy. Use these facts to get them to eating healthy food and snacking in healthy ways.

The best snacks for teens include:
  • Slices of fruits and vegetables they can munch on
  • Trail mix of nuts, dried fruits and perhaps a little chocolate
  • Fresh fruit juices without sugar or any other additives
  • Yogurt and fruit smoothies
  • Whole grain, low fat crackers
  • Frozen juice bars
  • Low fat cheese and milk
In general, you can give your teen any kind of food as long as it is low in fat, salt, sugar and artificial substances including preservatives and additives.
Support your teen’s decision to eat healthy snacks by avoiding junk food yourself. Set goals and standards that the entire family can follow; if you insist that your teen eat healthy while you gorge on junk food and chips, your words are not going to hold water. So avoid buying unhealthy snacks or stocking them in your home. Once your teenagers are able to discipline themselves, it’s easy to send them along on the path to good health.

This guest post is contributed by Paul Hench, he writes on the topic of masters in public health. He welcomes your comments at his email id:

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sue Scheff: Are You Allowing Electronic Media to Parent Your Teens?

More Than One-Third of Parents Concerned Teens’ Exposure to Media Hinders Parent/Child Communication about Dangers of Drug and Alcohol Use

Teens Now Spend 53 Hours a Week Immersed in Electronic Media, More Difficult for Parents to Find Time To Talk ~

NEW YORK, NY – August 10, 2010 – New omnibus[1] research from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America shows that more than one-third of parents are concerned that TV (38 percent), computers (37 percent) and video games (33 percent) make it harder for them to communicate with their media-engrossed teens about risky behaviors, like drug and alcohol use.  The survey of more than 1,200 parents also confirms that a quarter or more are worried that newer forms of media, including cell phone texting (27 percent) social networking sites, like Facebook (25 percent) and Twitter (19 percent) hinder effective parent/child communication about the dangers of teen substance abuse.

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation study of 2,000 teens released earlier this year[2], the average amount of time young people (8-18 year olds) spend consuming entertainment media is up dramatically to almost eight hours per day – that’s at least 53 hours a week of immersion in some form of media. The research also noted that the more media teens consume, the less happy they tend to be and those who are most captivated by media reported their academic performance suffered.  About half (47 percent) of heavy media users reported they usually get fair to poor grades, mostly C’s or lower, compared to about a quarter (23 percent) of light media users.  ……

“These new findings present a unique opportunity for parents to play a more active role in what their kids are watching, monitor how they are spending their time online and remain aware of the impact all of this media consumption is having on their impressionable teens,” said Partnership President Steve Pasierb.  “We know that kids today are bombarded with pro-drug and drinking messages via everything from song lyrics, movies and video games, to social networking sites.  Videos of kids abusing cough medicine and common household products to get high are all too accessible online and that’s why it’s more important than ever for parents to break through the media noise and make their voices heard.”

The Kaiser study notes the drastic increases in media consumption among youth are driven in large part by easy access to mobile devices like cell phones and iPod media players. Among kids and teens, cell phone ownership has increased sharply since 2004, from 39 percent to 66 percent in 2009, while ownership of iPods jumped drastically from 18 percent to 76 percent over the same time period. Overall, 20 percent of kids’ media consumption comes from mobile devices. [1] And, as kids get older and consume even more media, the level of concern among parents increases and can lead to breakdowns in parent/child communication.

“I feel the frustration that comes from my daughters’ being constantly glued to their cell phones texting and sending non-stop instant messages and watching endless hours of trashy, reality TV shows,” said Susan Wilson, mother of three teenage daughters. “But I‘ve accepted that the role that media and technology plays in the lives of our kids is not going away and, as parents, we have to meet teens where they are. We have to be willing to listen to their music, watch their movies and know about the latest TV programs our kids are watching if we’re going to stay on top of what they are exposed to.”

Wilson added, “I’ve learned that even though I proactively limit it at times, embracing technology has actually improved my communication with my family.  I‘ve had some of the most meaningful conversations with my daughters about the pressures of growing up via text messaging. Not only is that less threatening to them, but they can keep a written record of my ‘voice’ that they can refer to again later.”

As Kids Head Back to School, Take “Time To Text” Your Teens
Back-to-school season signifies a time of new beginnings for teens, yet it can also mark a time of new challenges for many young people dealing with added pressure from peers, especially when it comes to teen drug and alcohol use.  Parents are encouraged to frequently communicate with their kids about the dangers of drug and alcohol use and the Partnership’s empowers them to recognize the influence they have in their children’s lives, while offering easy, online resources to help parents start an ongoing dialogue with their kids about avoiding risky behaviors.  Parents can learn about what teens are seeing and learning from their increased exposure to media and use those “teachable moments” as a starting point to supervise their kids’ media consumption and talk with them about the importance of making positive, healthy decisions for themselves.

Parents and caregivers who are waiting for the “right time” to talk with their kids about the dangers of drug and alcohol use may be missing key opportunities to influence their kids’ choices on this important health issue.  While nothing can take the place of in-person conversations, harnessing the communicative power of technology including emails, cell phones, and even texting, can help start a conversation with a reluctant teen.  Also, parents can reinforce these messages at times when teen drinking and drug use is more likely – after school, on weekends and during unsupervised hours.

Free Tool at Helps Parents and Caregivers Text Their Teens

For those parents who are hesitant or don’t know how to send text messages, the Partnership has created a free, downloadable guide called “Time To Text.”  The tool is now available at and offers quick tips on how to text, suggests examples of different messages to send to teens and even provides a cheat sheet parents can keep in their wallet.

“Some parents may still feel apprehensive about embracing media and technology as a way of communicating with their children, but, in today’s world, it is vital that they connect with their kids in any way possible,” added Pasierb. “It is important that we help bridge the technology gap between parents and ‘Generation Text’.”
# # # #

About The Partnership

The Partnership at is a nonprofit organization that helps parents prevent, intervene in and find treatment for drug and alcohol use by their children. Bringing together renowned scientists, parent experts, and communications professionals, the Partnership translates current research on teen behavior, addiction and treatment into easy to understand resources at  Through its nationwide PACT360 community education programs, the Partnership educates and mobilizes local community efforts to address drug threats at the grassroots level, including methamphetamine and prescription drug abuse, and also provides parent training and teen programs that help prevent teen substance abuse. The Partnership depends on donations from individuals, corporations, foundations and government. The Partnership thanks SAG/AFTRA and the advertising and media industries for their ongoing generosity.

Read more. WATCH VIDEO.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Teen Depression Linked to Extended Online Time

Teenage depression is a growing concern among parents.  Depression can lead to negative behavior that could potential cause thoughts of suicide, drug use, self-injury and more.  As school is opening soon, take the time and precautions to have a healthy new school year.

Recently US News reported  on Teen Depression Linked to Internet Overuse:

Depression is common among teenagers; each year, an estimated 2 million teens and preteens develop clinical depression, and last year the federal government recommended that all teenagers be screened for depression. So parents may want to note the link between "Internet addiction" and depression, and keep a closer eye on children who depend on screen time as a pacifier or mood stabilizer. A recent study also found a correlation between video game use and ADHD. Like the "Internet addiction" study, no causal link has been proven, but one-third of children exceed the two hours of daily TV and computer screen time recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Setting limits on screen time— and enforcing them—can really help.

Before school opens, sit down with your teenager.  Set limits, set boundaries and most importantly explain to your teen why it is important to stay healthy and how spending extended amount of time in front of a computer screen is not healthy.  Explaining that depression is not only common in teens, it is also a growing problem in adults.  The time is now to take care of their emotional health.

Signs of teenage depression:

  • Sadness or hopelessness
  • Irritability, anger, or hostility
  • Tearfulness or frequent crying
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • Restlessness and agitation
  • Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • Lack of enthusiasm and motivation
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
Be an educated parent, you will have safer and healthier teens!  Communication is key! Start talking today!

Read more.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sue Scheff: The Zzzzzz's of teens

It seems teenagers can function on less sleep than most adults.  Is it really true?

According to 9+ hours per night for preteens (10-12 year-old) and teens (13-19 years-old) need 8.5-9.5 hours.  How does your teen measure up?

It is difficult getting your teens to get the right amount of sleep, but it is imperative you do your best to help them understand the importance of a good nights sleep.

Sleep deprivation not only can make your kids grumpier, it also impacts their school performance as it decreases their attentiveness and short-term memory.

Especially for teens, sleepiness can lead to delayed response time and inconsistent performance, making driving and playing high-impact sport potentially dangerous.

As a parent, it is your responsibility to enforce consistent bedtimes and wake-ups, your child's health and success may depend on it.

When your teen says they will catch up on sleep on the weekends, note that all that sleep on the weekend won't add energy to the rest of the week.  Why? Our bodies can't store extra sleep!

Read more.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Sue Scheff: Teaching Your Kids to say "No Thank You"

As school gets ready open and students will be biking and walking to school parents need to have the discussion with their kids about talking with strangers.

Many kids know already never take rides, candy, gifts, or money from strangers, and let's remind them, it's okay to say "NO THANK YOU."

Love Our Children USA helps educate parents, teachers and kids about staying safe both online and off.  Some great advice from Love our Children USA:
Always report to a police officer, a parent, a teacher or any adult you know if a stranger:
  • Wants to play with you.
  • Asks you to go with him/her.
  • Tries to have a conversation with you, or touch you while you are at the movies, playground, or walking anywhere.
  • Offers you a ride, candy, gum, present, or money.
  • Always try to get a full description of the stranger.
  • If you see a suspicious car, take down the license number with a pencil and paper; write it in the dirt or on the sidewalk with a stick or stone.
Public awareness and advocacy is essential to helping prevent violence against children. You have the opportunity to share information with colleagues, your community and the public at large.

St. John's County Sheriff's Office offers a Community Service Unit for Youths.  Take the time to visit this site and learn more about our local resources.

Love Our Children USA also encourages all communities to take part in Blue Shirt Day!  This is bring about public awareness to bullying, child neglect and harm done to children.  Order today and get your school and community ready for this event in October.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer children.

Watch video about Blue Shirt, be ready for it in 2010.  Read more.