Sunday, January 27, 2013

Parenting Tips for Smartphones and Kids

How many kids and teens received smartphones over the holiday season?

Chances are you know someone who got a cool new smartphone or tablet over the holidays, most likely a teen or tween! But most of us don’t have time to go through the entire instruction booklet to figure out the device. 

Below are seven easy steps you can use for any device to make their smartphone smarter.

AT&T Smartphone/Tablet Tips: 

1) Email set-up, 2) Network check, 3) Wi-Fi settings, 4) Maximize battery, 5) Settings & notifications, 6) AT&T apps & services, and 7) Accessories.

Let’s take them one at a time.

Email Set-Up. Pull vs. push. Pull email allows for a scheduled time the device will go out and find new emails instead of emails being constantly pushed to your device.  Setting emails to the “pull setting” will help with overall battery life. 

Network Check. Make sure you know which network you are using. For example, AT&T’s 4G LTE network lets you surf the Internet and talk at the same time- great for multi-tasking – or you might be able to switch to Wi-Fi.

Wi-Fi Settings. Most devices are Wi-Fi enabled and by using this network setting you can improve battery performance.  AT&T operates the nation’s largest 4G network and provides access to nearly 225,000 hotspots globally through roaming agreements. Most AT&T smartphone customers get access to its  national Wi-Fi network at no additional cost, and Wi-Fi usage doesn’t count against customers’ monthly wireless data plans.

Maximize your battery. For most devices, you can adjust the screen brightness, manually place the phone into sleep mode and turn on the battery saver—which all leads to better battery and phone performance.

Settings & Notifications. By limiting or turning off all applications that have alerts you will help improve device functionally and performance.

Apps and Services: Check out your carrier’s apps and services. For example, AT&T has Rollover Minutes letting you rollover unused minutes from month to month for a year. AT&T also has Family Map which helps parents keep track of where their child’s cell phone is via their smartphone or PC, or wireless phone insurance which can save you some big bucks if you leave your shiny new device in a cab.

Accessories. Take the time to check out which accessories come with your device. The right Bluetooth, car charger or screen protector can be worth it.

Operating system.   Stay current with any upgrades to the operating system for your smartphone or tablet. Pay attention to software updates that pop on the screen of your device or PC when you synch the device. For example by downloading Zune software, you’ll be kept up to date on the latest phone offerings.

Source: AT&T

Friday, January 18, 2013

Entitlement: Tips How Not to Spoil Your Kids

Entitlement issues--many teens seem to have this problem today.  It starts from infancy.

When your child is an infant, you may be warned that you can “spoil” her by holding and cuddling her too much. While experts like attachment parenting guru Dr. Sears insist that there’s no such thing as a spoiled infant, it is true that children can develop a sense of entitlement or a lack of gratitude as they get older. For many parents, avoiding the label of “spoiled,” which is often applied to children who exhibit signs of being self-absorbed, having an attitude of entitlement, or are patently ungrateful for the things they have is an important part of their approach to parenting.

Think Before You Buy
When your toddler is on the verge of a tantrum because he wants a new toy or an older child is pleading for candy at the checkout line, think twice before making those purchases. Sending your toddler the message that screaming and crying is an effective way to get what she wants will only reinforce that behavior, making it more difficult to correct as time passes. Letting older children know that they can purchase the candy themselves with their own money, take on extra chores to pay you back for the difference, or find a way to earn money for the candy on their own may leave them frustrated, but it will also help them to understand that material goods must be purchased with money that’s been honestly earned, rather than simply expecting them to be bestowed upon request.
Make a Point of Delaying Gratification
Even though a child may act like the world will end if he doesn’t get the new video game that all of his friends are playing the day it’s released, you can assure him that it won’t. Letting him know that he can, and will have to, wait until his birthday or a gift-giving holiday has arrived, or until such time as he’s earned the money to make that purchase himself, can help to prevent the sense of entitlement that kids can acquire when all of their demands are instantly met.
Don’t Concede to Demands for Immediate Attention
When a newborn cries, it’s because she’s in need of food, a diaper change or attention. Small babies should get the attention that they need immediately, but that doesn’t hold true as kids get older. Dropping everything to attend to your child’s demands for attention, such as putting a telephone call on hold or abandoning what you’re doing as a concession to your child can send the message that everything should be put on hold when he deems it so, an attitude that won’t get him far as an adult. Talking about the importance of waiting patiently for his turn to speak or being respectful of other people’s feelings and boundaries can help to reinforce this concept.
Talk About Sharing and Charitable Giving
Teaching kids to share typically starts during toddlerhood; earlier for children in center-based daycare or other group settings. The concept of sharing may be fairly well ingrained in your child, but it does no good if he refuses to practice it. Working on the importance of sharing, along with helping the less fortunate and charitable giving, can help to instill a sense of gratitude that’s missing in most “spoiled” children.
Set Limits, and Don’t Give In
Once you’ve set limits regarding acceptable behavior, gift-giving practices or completing tasks set before your children, it’s important that you adhere to those limits and refuse to give in. Sending the message that unpleasant tasks can be avoided by pleading, cajoling or throwing an outright tantrum does not help your children learn the skills they’ll need to be functioning members of the adult society, and will not help to curb a sense of entitlement or ingratitude in the slightest.
Give Kids Chores and Responsibilities
Instituting a policy of chore completion in exchange for a weekly allowance or simply giving children household tasks to complete as an exercise in responsibility are great ways to help your children understand not only how much work goes into maintaining their living space, but also that money and material goods must be earned through hard work and effort, rather than expected simply because they feel that they deserve them. Withholding rewards or allowances in exchange for failure to complete those tasks can also be an effective lesson about earning money and being responsible.
Overly permissive parenting styles can make it difficult for children to understand the importance of hard work, the disappointment of failure and the difficulty of managing their own problems.
As childhood turns into the teenage years and teenagers become young adults, their lack of real-life coping and management skills can be quite apparent. While it may seem a bit harsh to some parents to insist that kids earn the things they want and share them with others, it can make for stronger, more independent adults.

Source: Babysitting Jobs

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Saturday, January 12, 2013

Is Your Child a Bully? 7 Forms of Bullying

No parent wants to believe their child is a bully.

As the importance of preventing bullying and teaching kids to deal with torment from their peers is emphasized more and more in the media, it becomes apparent that today’s bullying bears little resemblance to the taunting and teasing that most parents were subjected to during their own childhood years. The modern bully wears many faces, and has an unprecedented level of access to the lives of those they hurt.

Here are seven forms of bullying that today’s children are exposed to on a regular basis.
  1. Cyber-Bullying – Bullies are able to take their insults, threats and hurtful words to a very public and thoroughly humiliating new level through social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Status updates make it easy for an entire social group to view and even comment on cruelty, while more personal threats can be sent through private messaging. Blogging platforms can also be used to mount full-scale smear campaigns, making it almost impossible for victims to face their peers.
  2. “Frenemies” – While the word “frenemy,” a portmanteau of the words “friend” and “enemy,” can be traced back to a 1953 Nevada State Journal article, the concept is intimately familiar to modern tweens and teens. Girls in particular have started to accept backhanded compliments and blatant rivalry as traits of their associates. When more assertive girls use the force of their personality and the threat of revoked social standing to coerce other members of their peer group into doing or saying things against their will, it is absolutely a form of bullying and should be treated as such.
  3. Bullying By Authority Figures – Typically, bullying is considered to fall in the realm of children and their peer group. As a result, taunts, insults and derogatory comments made by mean-spirited teachers or overzealous athletic coaches typically go unchallenged. Taught to obey authority figures, meek and mild-mannered children may never report this behavior for fear of retribution or punishment.
  4. Physical Harassment – There’s nothing new about physical bullying; stronger kids have been known to lord their prowess over smaller peers since the beginning of time. Tougher punishments and penalties have simply forced these bullies to get more creative when doling out their abuse, rather than curtailing it.
  5. Exclusion and Ostracism – Teachers and counselors with good intentions can make every effort to stamp out physical and verbal harassment, but their hands are tied when it comes to exclusion. Children and adolescents simply can’t be forced to associate with someone they’ve deemed an outcast, and this ostracism can be more painful for the victims than physical punches and kicks.
  6. Verbal Harassment – Name-calling, teasing and making fun of a child’s appearance, wardrobe or any other area of perceived inferiority might have crept over into social media and text message wars, but that hasn’t diminished its face-to-face value. Though the old adage about sticks and stones makes for a catchy rhyme, it does little to comfort youngsters that are mercilessly taunted for one “failing” or another.
  7. Blackmail – When every tween and teen carries a phone that doubles as a camera, snapping photos that double as blackmail material is the work of a moment. The release, or even the mere threat of release, of an embarrassing picture can send kids into a panic; kids who willfully inflict this torment on a peer are a new breed of bully.
Shame and fear of revenge can keep children from telling even a trusted adult about what they’re suffering through, leaving them feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of shouldering the burden alone. Because children are so often reluctant to discuss bullying, parents and caregivers should be on the lookout for signs of depression, isolation and agitation, which can be indicators of emotional turmoil and distress.

Source: Nanny Jobs

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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Residential Treatment Centers: Does My Teen Need One?

Don't be a parent in denial, get help for your teen.
After the tragic events of Sandy Hook Elementary the world sits in a state of horror and mourns for the children and heroes we lost.

The questions linger, could this have been prevented?  Is it about gun control?  Is it about mental health?

Working with parents of at-risk teens on a weekly basis, I know firsthand that families are at their wit's end searching for help.  Some are literally scared of their own child.  Some are scared of what they read online about residential treatment centers.  I don't blame them - I was once a victim of this industry myself, which is why I am a Parent Advocate today.  I have made it my mission to help parents find safe and quality residential therapy for their struggling teens.

Let's discuss if your teens does need residential care?

How To Know When It's Time to Try Residential Therapy
  • You have read most parenting books and behavioral strategy -- removing privileges, instilling consequences that are being broken,  to behavioral contracts to one-on-one behavioral support in the home -- and your teen still doesn't get better.
  • Your child had been given numerous psychiatric diagnoses, none of which totally fit. He/she has been on different medications, but none result in long-term changes.
  • Your house is a war zone every day. Your child is routinely explosive and scares younger siblings and you. You are exhausted and the stress of managing daily crises is taking a toll on your marriage, your job, your personal life and you  have reached your wit's end.
  • Your child has been expelled from school (or on the verge of  being expelled), is addicted to video games, using drugs or alcohol, and has had multiple run-ins with the law.
  • Your child engages in self-injury, threatens to hurt others or kill himself.
  • Your child has had a psychiatric hospitalization.
  • You have finally exhausted all your local resources.  This is not an easy decision and one that comes out of love.  It is time to give your son or daughter a second opportunity for a bright future - finding a residential therapy setting for 6-10 months out of their lifetime is a small price to pay considering the alternative road they are on.
How Residential Treatment (RTC) or Therapeutic Boarding Schools (TBS) Helps, When Nothing Else Does
  • RTC or TBS focus on helping the child take personal accountability. Through intensive individual, group and family therapy, residential staff work on shifting the child from blaming others for his problems to acknowledging that he is where he is because he made poor choices.
  • RTC or TBS remove your child from their negative environment.  Whether is a contentious home situation or a negative peer group, it is an opportunity to be in an objective placement to open up and speak freely to others that may have his/her same feelings.
  • RTC or TBS have level systems so children learn the consequences of their actions. If they make poor choices or don't do their levels work, they don't gain privileges. The levels system incentivizes children to change their behavior.
  • RTC or TBS provide structure and containment that is impossible to achieve at home. Most RTC or TBS are in remote areas where there is nowhere to run. Therapists, behavioral staff and a levels program provide intensive scaffolding to support the child as he learns coping skills that he can then use to regulate himself. When a child can utilize coping skills, he feels in control and begins to make better choices.
  • RTC or TBS are particularly skilled at helping parents recognize the ways they are unwittingly colluding with their child's behavior, and learn tools to change their own behaviors. Parent workshops and family therapy (usually via phone and visits) are essential for the child to return home successfully.
  • When selecting an RTC or TBS, it is important for a parent to find one that has accredited academics, qualified therapists and enrichment programs.  This is part of doing your due diligence when researching for programs for your teenager.  
My book, Wit's End! Advice and Resources for Saving Your Out-of-Control Teen (HCI), outline a complete detailed list for parents that are seeking help.  Starting with local resources to deciding if you need an RTC or a TBS and the differences.  

For more assistance, please contact us at  We offer a free consultation as well helpful hints and tips on our website for finding programs and schools.

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