Archive for August, 2010

Family meal time

August 30th, 2010

Regular family mealtimes improve children’s health and academic performance!

Now that your children are back in school and your family’s activities are in full swing, one of the most important things you can do is take time to eat frequent family meals. Research consistently shows that families who eat meals together reap many benefits! For instance, children who consistently eat meals with their families consume more nutritious meals than those who do not. Family meals tend to contain healthier portion sizes, more fruits and vegetables, fewer snacks, and fewer fried foods. Research also shows that children who eat regular family meals have a decreased risk for developing eating disorders, being obese, and using alcohol or other drugs. These children also perform better in school, tend to be happier, less stressed, have positive peer relations, and a decreased risk of suicide. As an added bonus, family meals also provide children with skills they can use later in life, such as social etiquette, table manners, and conversational skills.

Family scientists recommend remaining flexible when choosing a time of day and location to eat together; if every member cannot be together at dinnertime, schedule a family breakfast, lunch, or picnic. It’s important to make family meals a priority without the distractions of televisions, computers, phones, or gaming devices. Parental involvement and frequent, quality parent-child communications during mealtimes facilitate family rituals, better parent-child communications, higher self-esteem among children, and more secure family relationships.

Eliciting help from everyone in mealtime planning, preparation, and clean up increases the amount of time spent together as a family. For example, everyone can choose menu items, a 4-year old can easily set the table with napkins and silverware, an 8-year old can assist in the clean up, and a teen can help prepare the meal. These opportunities give children more responsibilities, which in turn enhances their self-esteem.

Parents are role models for their children’s attitudes about food, values, and the importance of family time. So, make mealtime a priority and make it fun!

raising teens , ,


August 10th, 2010

Cyberbullying, or bullying via technology and/or the internet, has become the newest way to make fun of, ridicule, and victimize others. In a 2010 study of 12 to 18 year olds, researchers found that 83% of teens use a cell phone, 78% send text messages, 50% use Facebook, 38% use Myspace, 46% email, and 41% instant message. With this wide variety of technology being used by today’s youth, it’s no wonder that bullying has found its way from the playground to cell phones and computers.

It’s no secret that physical bullying is more common among boys, while relational bullying (bullying with words) is more common among girls. Given this fact, it might not be surprising to you that cyberbullying is most common among girls, although it happens to both girls and boys. Over 20% of teens report having experienced cyberbullying. The most common forms are hurtful comments, rumors, or threats online. Other forms include text messages, pictures, videos, or websites created about the victim. If not dealt with and solved, cyberbullying can have serious negative consequences for children. As a parent, it’s important to know how to handle such a situation.

To help your child stay safe from cyberbullying, here are some helpful tips:
• Keep your home computer in a location where it can be easily viewed. If your children know that you can see what they’re doing, they are more likely to use the computer for appropriate behaviors only.
• Become familiar with social networking and communication technologies. If your child tells you that he’s doing homework, but he’s actually instant messaging, would you know the difference? In order to keep your children safe, you have to know a little about these technologies: know what they look like, know what they’re used for, and know the lingo.
• Talk with your children about cyberbullying. Encourage your kids to come to you if anyone says or does anything online that makes them feel uncomfortable or threatened.
• Consider installing filters or blockers to keep your child from visiting dangerous chat rooms or from using the Internet in other harmful ways.
• Set guidelines for cell phone use, then enforce and monitor these expectations.
• Set guidelines for computer and internet use, along with specific consequences if these guidelines are not met.
• Have a plan of how you will handle the situation if your child is being cyberbullied. Stay calm and take steps toward finding a solution.
• Inform school administrators right away. Inquire about bullying preemption programs.
• Keep evidence of the cyberbullying. Save the messages, pictures, or videos.
• Spend time with your child to let him/her know how much you love and support him/her.

bullying, media and kids, raising teens


August 3rd, 2010

Bullying is one topic parents hope they never have to encounter. Unfortunately, it happens all too in often, in a variety of different forms. Approximately 75% of children report that they have experienced bullying. The most common type of bullying is verbal bullying, followed by physical bullying and indirect bullying (spreading rumors, excluding others). Cyberbullying is also becoming more common; however, I’ll save that for the topic of next week’s blog.

Sadly, children do not always tell their parents that they’re being bullied. As a result, it’s important for parents to look for signs that their child is being bullied. Your child may be experiencing bullying if he/she:

  • Takes a different or long way to/from school
  • Doesn’t like going to school; fakes illnesses to stay home from school
  • Doesn’t care about schoolwork
  • Has a loss of appetite
  • Doesn’t have friends
  • Has troubles sleeping, including nightmares
  • Comes home from school with items that are torn, broken, or missing
  • Acts nervous, stressed out, grumpy, or sad, especially when getting home from school
  • Comes home with bruises, cuts, scratches

If you think your child may be experiencing bullying, the first step is to sit down and talk with them. Ask questions about bullying, be a good listener, stay calm, and show concern for your child. If your child is experiencing bullying, here are some important steps to support you child in handling the situation.

  • Find out more information about the bullying situation – Who, what, when, where, how often
  • Explain to your child that you will likely have to tell others about the situation, in order to protect him/her
  • Notify school faculty, and other adults who may be present when the bullying is taking place
  • Explain that if the incident happens again, your child needs to report it to an adult; Remind your child that this is telling someone about a dangerous situation, NOT tattling
  • Take photographs and keep a log of any evidence from the bullying incidents – Bruises, cuts, torn or damaged items, harassment notes
  • Brainstorm and role play strategies for handling the bullying situations
  • Help your child make friends by getting him/her involved in an organization
  • Spend time with your child, let them know they are loved and supported

Click here for more information on bullying.