Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Parenting Teens Online: Tips to Help Keep Them Digitally

When used in a responsible and safe manner, the Internet can be one of the most powerful research and educational tools at a child’s disposal. It can expose him to a wealth of knowledge that would otherwise be difficult to obtain, help him experience other cultures and ways of life and encourage him to learn about the world around him. When used irresponsibly by children that have not been adequately taught about the potential dangers, however, the Internet can also be one of the most powerful tools at a predator’s disposal.

These ten tips can help you keep your kids safe without depriving them of the valuable knowledge available online.
  • Take an Active Role in Monitoring – While you’ll want to provide your child with a certain measure of trust and freedom, it’s also important that you maintain an open policy about Internet and social media use. Make sure that you’re keeping tabs on what he’s doing online, and that you’re doing it in an open, honest manner that doesn’t seem like covert spying to your child.
  • Be Honest About Use of Monitoring Software – Monitoring software can be a very effective method of keeping up with what your kids are doing online, but it can also send a very clear message about your lack of trust if it’s used on the sly. Let your children know that there is monitoring software installed, rather than accosting them with evidence of misbehavior out of the blue.
  • Use Content Filtering Features – Web browsers, anti-virus software and search engines all have some level of filtering capability built in to them, so it’s wise to take advantage of those features to block questionable or mature content. Kids can inadvertently stumble over nudity, pornography or violent content without actively seeking it out, and these features make that a bit less likely.
  • Keep Your Computer Located in High-Traffic Areas – When your child has her own computer, she’s free to do her homework or study without tying up the family computer. She’s also able to access questionable content with some degree of privacy. Keeping your computer in a high-traffic area allows you to see what she’s looking at during her browsing sessions.
  • Limit Social Networking Use – Social networking sites are among the most popular on the Internet, but they’re not always a safe place for kids. Make sure that security settings on your child’s account are locked down, that he understands not to accept friend requests from strangers and that his social networking use is kept to a minimum.
  • “Friend” Your Child – While there are filtering options and lists that will allow a determined child to post and share questionable content without you seeing it, not all kids are that tech savvy. Insisting that your child send you a friend request as a caveat of social networking use can be a major deterrent from unsafe and risky behavior online.
  • Talk About Illegal Downloads – Kids don’t always understand the harsh penalties that can come along with copyright infringement and illegal downloading, which is why it’s important for parents and kids to have conversations about the repercussions of breaking the law, even if the Internet seems like a largely anonymous space.
  • Emphasize Values, Rather Than Tech-Savvy Tips – Kids will almost always have technical knowledge that outstrips that of their parents, which is why it’s important to emphasize a set of values over technical methods of staying safe. Talk about what is and is not okay to post online, how to handle scary situations and how to comport themselves rather than how to work the latest safety feature.
  • Keep Tabs on Gaming Devices – Most parents know that their kids’ cell phones and computers are sources of constant connectivity, but may not realize that their gaming consoles also connect to the Internet and put kids at risk of encountering predators. Make sure your little gamer knows never to share personal information with people he plays games with, and that you understand just how much outrageous “trash talk” is normal in the gaming community.
  • Maintain an Open Dialogue About Online Safety It’s not enough to have one conversation about online safety and to leave it at that. Instead of having a single conversation about safety, establish an ongoing dialogue about what he sees online, what’s okay and what’s not okay.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Parenting Teens: The Challenge When They Hate You

No matter how great your relationship is with your teenager, there will inevitably come a moment when she screams that she hates you at the top of her lungs. While these declarations of animosity will naturally leave you feeling hurt, angry and even like a bit of a failure as a parent, they can also be a sign that you’re doing something right. Involved, engaged parents are occasionally forced to make decisions that are in the best interest of their children that their teenagers hate.

These are ten of the ways that you can be a mom your teenager hates, at least until she gets older and acquires a new perspective with age.
  • Give Her a Curfew – One surefire way to make your teenager hate you for a few years is to set a reasonable curfew. Teens are itching to express their independence and explore the boundaries in their lives, and they’re eager to make their own rules. When you insist on their return home at a reasonable hour, you know that you’re keeping them safe and helping them to get the rest they need. Your teen just thinks that you’re out to spoil her fun, though, and she will hate you for it.
  • Get to Know Her Friends – There’s nothing quite as embarrassing as your parents talking to your friends when you’re a teenager, which is why yours will not be your biggest fan when you get to know her friends. You’re a walking, talking and breathing embarrassment, and she’d probably rather her friends think that she sprung, fully formed, into existence. Don’t take it personally; she hates your presence on principal, but she doesn’t really hate you.
  • Make Her Dates Come to the Door – Generations of parents have been hated by their teenagers when they refused to allow a date to pick their kids up by honking a horn in the driveway. When your daughter’s dates meet you at the front door, she’ll hate you for embarrassing her and making her seem childish. Later in life, she’ll realize that you were just keeping a healthy eye on who she was spending time with.
  • Insist on Family Dinners – Kids from families that share meals on a regular basis, rather than eating on the go before heading out to yet another activity, tend to perform better on an academic level and are less likely to experiment with drugs and alcohol or experience a teen pregnancy. Your teenager may hate the fact that she’s forced to spend the evening with her lame family while her friends are having a great time without her, but those family meals will be treasured memories one day. They’ll also have a lasting impact on the person she becomes.
  • Make Her Earn Her Own Money – Today’s teens are often accused of being filled with a false sense of entitlement, and of being materialistic or spoiled. Generalizations aren’t always accurate, but you can help to prevent entitlement issues in your teen by insisting that she earns her own money, especially for pricey, frivolous items. When her friends’ parents are lavishing them with gifts while she works for the things she wants, she’ll probably hate you a little bit. Later in life, when she’s able to manage a budget and appreciate the value of hard work, she’ll thank you.
  • Give Her Chores – Kids that don’t have to do chores around the house get to have more fun with their friends, and enjoy their teenage years without many burdens. What they don’t do, though, is learn how to be an adult. Your teen will hate being forced to manage household chores, but she’ll be learning valuable lessons about how to care for herself when she’s no longer living at home.
  • Assign Her Real Responsibilities – Your teen wants to be free of responsibilities because she wants to spend her days talking to her friends and exploring her identity as someone separate from her family. When you make her responsible for certain things and hold her accountable when she fails to meet those responsibilities, she’ll hate you. She’ll also, however, be figuring out the importance of taking care of things independently.
  • Let Her Learn About Natural Consequences – Teenagers want complete independence from their parents, but they also want those same parents to shield them from the harsh realities of life by covering for them when they make a mistake. It’s never easy to let your child fail when she doesn’t do what she’s supposed to, but experience is the only way she’ll learn to modify reckless behavior.
  • Enforce a Dress Code – Sweatpants aren’t appropriate for a family celebration, and party dresses aren’t ideal for a trip to the mall. Your teen is probably still learning about dressing appropriately, and will hate you for pointing out her missteps.
  • Establish House Rules – Your teen wants absolute freedom, not rules. She’ll hate you for establishing and enforcing house rules, but she’ll appreciate the values you’re instilling later.
It’s important to realize that there’s a very real difference between being an authoritative parent that kids occasionally feel like they hate and being a harsh, authoritarian parent that teenagers genuinely dislike. Make sure that you’re making decisions with your kids’ best interest at heart, rather than trying to live through them vicariously or browbeat them into submission.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Teens and Body Image: Reasons Not to Put Your Children On a Diet Without Doctor's Orders

 Childhood obesity is endemic in the United States, so much so that the Unites States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that up to 18% of American kids between the ages of six and 11 are obese. These kids are more likely to suffer from pre-diabetes, and are at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. In an effort to capitalize on this health crisis, many companies and for-profit entities are advertising diets for kids, ostensibly to slim kids down while lining their own pockets. Before you buy into the hype, these are seven of the reasons why you should never put your child on a diet that hasn’t been ordered by his pediatrician.
  • Growing Bodies Have Very Real Nutritional Needs – The body of a growing child requires a specific balance of nutrients, fats and calories in order to develop normally. Those needs are very different from those of an adult, and putting your child on a regimented diet that isn’t prescribed and supervised by your child’s doctor can actually deprive her of the things she needs most. The low-carb, high-protein diet that helped you lose weight simply isn’t appropriate for a child’s needs, and can cause more harm than help.
  • Hunger Leads to Desperation – When you’re on a strict diet, you understand that the hunger pangs are something that you’re managing in order to achieve a desired outcome. Your child, on the other hand, only knows that she’s hungry and that food is being withheld from her. The desperation to fulfill that hunger can easily lead to problems when you’re not watching, up to and including gorging when she’s not being supervised.
  • Emotional Eating isn’t Curbed by a Rigid Diet – Just like their adult counterparts, kids that learn to view food as a source of comfort will turn to it in times of stress. When you’re forcing her to adhere to a harshly restrictive diet, you’re only causing your child to feel the stress that makes her want to eat. You’re not treating the root of the problem, only the symptom.
  • Diets Encourage Deprivation, Rather Than Promoting Physical Activity – Kids need plenty of fuel for their growing bodies, but they also need plenty of physically intensive, active play to stay healthy. When you put your child on a diet, you’re placing the emphasis on what she eats, rather than the lifestyle she keeps. Encourage healthy activity and provide ample access to nutritionally sound, healthy snacks, rather than taking an approach that espouses minimal activity and maximum deprivation.
  • Diets Condition Kids to Look for the Quick Fix – A crash diet works in the short term, but is typically accustomed to a return to the poor habits that led to the weight gain in the first place. Teaching kids to diet in order to lose weight temporarily not only complicates their relationship with food and potentially causes a host of other problems, but also sends the message that the quick fix is the solution to their problems, rather than concentrated and sustained efforts to make better choices all of the time.
  • Putting Kids on a Diet Can Damage Fragile Self Esteem – Even young children know, thanks to social conditioning, that “diets are for fat people.” Putting your child on a diet and, even worse, using the term “diet” is effectively telling your child that she’s fat and needs to change because the person she is right now isn’t appealing to you. The renowned Mayo Clinic suggest placing an emphasis on health when discussing food and dietary choices with your child, rather than weight.
  • Dieting Creates a Complex Relationship With Food – Kids need to see food as fuel for their active bodies, not an enemy to avoid or a friend to turn to when they’re upset. Complicating your child’s relationship with food can lead to very real problems with eating disorders as she gets older, which will only damage her health further and make her adult life more stressful than it should be.
If you have concerns about your child’s weight, discuss the matter with her pediatrician and work together to find a solution that’s both nutritionally sound and unlikely to be emotionally damaging to your child. Remember that the lessons you instill in her as a child will shape the adult she becomes, and act accordingly to avoid causing lifelong problems with food and overeating.

Source:  Nanny Sites