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Archive for July, 2010

Effective Ways to Parent Teens

July 27th, 2010

We all know adolescence is a tough for children, and for parents. With hormones raging, bodily changes, emotional instability, and peer pressure, raising a teen can be an extremely difficult challenge. Here are some tips and examples to help you help your teen through this tumultuous time.

• Actively listen to what your teen is telling you, and give them feedback that lets them know you’re listening. (e.g. It sounds like you had a very frustrating day.)
• Praise good behavior with privileges or time with you, rather than material objects. (e.g. Opt for an extra night out with friends or a movie with you, rather than a new outfit.)
• Spend time together with just you and your teen, as well as time with your entire family. (e.g. On the way to a baseball tournament, ask your teen to tell you about his week at school; plan a family night of bowling.)
• Take time to talk to your teen about values. (e.g. After watching the news and hearing about an underage drinking party where someone got hurt, you could discuss with your child why you have particular rules, and that these rules are designed to keep the child safe.)
• Communicate with your teen using “I statements.” (e.g. I get frustrated when you don’t empty the dishwasher because then everyone piles their dishes in the sink. Please go empty the dishwasher right now.)
• Before rules and consequences are put into place, discuss the specifics of the rule and the reasons behind the rule with your teen. (e.g. Now that you can drive, I need to set a curfew of 9:00pm for you. I am setting this curfew because I don’t want you in any bad or harmful situations that can occur late at night.)
• When problems arise, brainstorm solutions with your child, decide on a course of action, and follow up with a reminder if necessary.
• When heated conflict arises between you and your teen, step away from the situation, and deal with the issue when you have cooled down. (e.g. I am very upset with your behavior right now. We will talk about this after I’ve had time to cool down.)
• If you have questions or concerns that come along, seek out information. Talk to other parents or professionals, read books about parenting teens, or surf the internet for typical and atypical teen behavior.

raising teens

Screen Time and Attention Difficulties

July 20th, 2010

Researchers in Psychology at Iowa State University recently completed a study involving school-age and college-age participants in Iowa.

Their goal: To determine how the amount of screen time affects children’s attention skills in school.

As mentioned earlier in this blog, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than two hours of screen time each day for middle and high school children, and even less for younger children. The ISU study found that the average television and video gaming time was 4.26 hours per day. This is well above the recommended amount, but still below the national average.

When observing the classroom behaviors of these children, the researchers found that children who exceeded the recommended two hours of screen time per day were 1.5 to 2 times more likely to be above average in attention problems. Although many other factors contribute to attention difficulties, the investigators of this study feel that screen time may be a contributing factor for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children.

Although they don’t know exactly why increased screen time is associated with increased attention problems, researchers speculate that it could be due to the fast-paced, attention grabbing effects of television shows. Today, television shows change screens every one to two seconds, and include many more lights, camera and sound changes, and special effects than in the past. Children who get used to this action packed, attention-grabbing entertainment may have more difficulty concentrating in a classroom that doesn’t have all these special effects.

So, what can you do to limit your child’s tv time?  Click here to find out more.

media and kids

Teaching Responsibility to Teens

July 9th, 2010

Parents want their children to become more responsible with age, but this is not an easy skill to teach. Ideally, teaching responsibility does not just start when your child becomes a teenage, but rather, it’s something you work to instill throughout the child’s life. From infancy to leaving the house, parents should work to gradually let children take on more responsibility. This can often be seen in extended curfews, more chores, and more decision-making opportunities as children get older.

With teenagers in particular, we see parents get frustrated as they often attempt to give children more responsibility, like chores around the house, but are disappointed when the chores don’t get finished. Don’t despair. These unfinished chores can actually be a great learning opportunity.

When chores go unfinished, the first task is to get yourself in the right mindset. As humans, it’s a natural inclination to become upset. You might start nagging the child, insist that things be done your way, or even punish the teen. However, as parents, you need to remember your long-terms goals in this situation. You don’t want to have to nag or punish in order to get the child to complete the tasks he/she has agreed to. Instead, you want your child to become more responsible, to complete tasks on his/her own, and to learn from mistakes.

When situations involving unfinished responsibilities arise, try the five step process of joint problem solving. This involves sitting down to talk with the teen about the situation and generate potential solution.

1. Describe the situation. “I don’t like it when you don’t vacuum the house like you said you would because the carpet is dirty.”

2. Both you and the teen tell how you feel about the situation. Parent – “I feel upset.” Teen – “I don’t think it’s fair that I have to vacuum the house.”

3. Brainstorm possible solutions. List any and all ideas that could solve the problem. Do not criticize any ideas.

4. Try a solution. Choose a solution to try for a specific length of time.

5. Select a time to check back. State a time with your teenager when you will be checking back in to see if the solution is working. If not, select another option from the list.

Even though teens intend to stick to the solution, they often fall short on their end of the agreement. To help avoid this, give the teen reminders. For example, if your child is going to meet friends, you might say, “Remember we agreed that the house would be vacuumed by noon.” If reminders aren’t helpful, then the solution is not working, and it is time to try another solution.

raising teens