I need a phone

August 7th, 2014

Getting ready for school in the fall used to mean buying new clothes, some basic school supplies and maybe a new backpack. Today a new cell phone often is at the top of the back-to-school list, but do kids really need cell phones?  We know that many kids want cell phones, but not all kids need them. A child should be mature enough to understand how to use the phone safely and be responsible for taking care of it. And whether your child is asking for a first phone or wants to upgrade to the newest version, talk about his or her motivation. Why exactly does he or she need this particular phone?”

Join us this month as we work through the pro’s and con’s of cell phones and children.

media and kids, parenting, podcast ,

Making a difference….. Strong Families

July 31st, 2014

Reading Donna’s post last week about the word ‘no’, reminded me of a fabulous program that we have all over the United States (and even internationally)..

Created right here at Iowa State the Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14 has made a difference in thousands of families in all 50 states and in over 25 countries.

I want to share this quote from the website:

“Parents want to protect their children, but it’s challenging. Youth need skills to help them resist the peer pressure that leads to risky behaviors. Research shows that protective parenting improves family relationships and decreases the level of family conflict, contributing to lower levels of substance use. ”

Sometimes taking the time as a family to participate in programs like SFP 10-14 seems daunting… but if we knew that by participating we could help our teens gain skills that might help them make good decisions when we weren’t around, wouldn’t it be worth it?

Find out more about the Strengthening Families Program: For Parents and Youth 10-14 here .

If you have been able to take part in an SFP 10-14 program we would love to hear from you!

 

Lori Hayungs

miscellaneous, parenting, peer pressure

“No” is Such a Simple Word

July 24th, 2014

Think about it. “No” is a two letter word, one syllable, easy to pronounce. Easy – to use, that’s another matter. Remember last week when you got a call to do something you really didn’t want to do but you did it anyway because you thought you should. You didn’t want the rest of the parents or your friends to think you badly of you. You gave in to peer pressure even though you wanted to say no.

It works the same way for our kids. One or more friends (or maybe just acquaintances) will ask your child to do something she doesn’t want to, but the “no” gets stuck in her throat. A little practice can help children and teens feel more confident in belting out the two letter word or using refusal tactics.

Role play just what to say and how to do it. “No, I don’t want to.” “No, my parents won’t let me.” “No, you go ahead without me.” “No, that’s not me.” Other ideas are things like: start another activity, change the subject, leave the situation, and find new friends.

Let’s go back to that phone call I mentioned earlier and my favorite mantra of parents as role models. Does your child hear you saying “no”? Does he see you giving in and doing things you really don’t want to do? Show by example how to stand up for yourself and not get pressured.

Do you have ideas on how to teach a child to say “no” or even how you’ve learned to say “no” yourself?

Donna Donald

conflict, peer pressure, social-emotional

It Has To Do With Friends

July 18th, 2014

Peer pressure and friends – it’s a combination that can be good or bad. I remember my best friend from those elementary grade years. We played together, sat by each other at school, rode the school bus, and had a great time at sleepovers. If one of us wanted to do something, so did the other. Fortunately we both grew up in families with similar values. Our parents knew eahappy-childrench other and saw that us kids had fun – but within their guidance and supervision.

Parents, get to know your kids’ friends. Make your house the inviting place for everyone to hang out. Then be visible and interact with the kids. Note how your own child responds to others. Is he a leader or is she a follower? Do the kids seems to get along well or are there troublemakers?  Talk to the other kids’ parents whenever you get a chance.

You can gently steer your child to friends you see as positive influences. Arrange play dates or have the whole family over for a BBQ. Enroll your child in clubs or activities with children who you think could be good friends. As children grow, parents have less and less influence over this part of their child’s life. Be cautious about pushing too hard on getting rid of friends you think are a bad influence. Kids will often rebel and do just the opposite of what you want.

That good friend from my early years – well, as we entered high school, our interests changed and so did our friendship. I found new friends and new experiences. Happily these friends never pressured me into doing anything I didn’t want to.

So parents, keep tabs on your kids’ friends. Know what is going on. It’s a key piece of peer pressure.

Donna Donald

friendship, peer pressure

Peer pressure. It’s not a ‘teen’ thing.

July 14th, 2014

A University of Maryland article called “Peer Pressure Starts in Childhood” caught my attention last week.  A study in the May/June 2013 issue of Child Development shared that as soon as children enter elementary school and begin forming friendships their peers begin to influence their decisions.  A couple of quotes that I have been pondering on include:

“… Children begin to figure out the costs and consequences of resisting peer group pressure early. By adolescence, they find it only gets more complicated.”

and

“Children may need help from adults when they face conflicts between loyalty to the group and fairness to outsiders. They may be struggling to ‘do the right thing’ and still stay on good terms with friends in the group, but not know how. ”

As parents it’s important for us not to take early elementary friendships lightly.  Talk with children about the games they are playing at school. Ask who else participates. Find out the conversations that are occurring. Share stories about games and groups that you participated in and the feelings you had during those experiences. You may be surprised at how long your child will talk with you about their own peer group interactions and the insights they are having.

Share with us some insights you may have had after talking with your elementary aged child about their friends.

Lori Hayungs

 

miscellaneous, peer pressure

Everyone Is Doing It- Peer Pressure

July 2nd, 2014

Everyone is going, all the kids sneak candy into the theater and no one else has to be home by 11 p.m. When kids are facing peer pressure, how should parents respond? Kids of all ages may find peer pressure hard to resist.  Often kids give in to peer pressure because they want to be liked; they want to have friends and be part of a group. Kids may be afraid that others will make fun of them if they are different or don’t go along with what’s being said or done. Sometimes kids give in to peer pressure because they want to try This month we will take a close look at the positive and negative aspects of peer pressure. We will offer ideas on how parents can help their children maintain friends while learning how to resist pressure and also standing up for what they believe is right.Blo

Listen and Blog with us.

 

peer pressure, podcast , , , , ,

From Maps to Apps

June 25th, 2014

Vacation day arrives bright and sunny. As the car pulls out of the driveway, you glance into the back seat to be sure the kids are settled. And settled they are – completely engrossed in whatever their smartphones and tablets have to offer. Is this what you had in mind for family vacation? Are you going to be nagging everyone (maybe even yourself) the whole trip to put the phones away?

It is well to remember that learning can happen in many ways. While the days of counting cars and playing the ABC sign game may be a thing of the past, family fun continues.

mapHere’s one example. Reading maps were a big deal when we traveled as a family. Someone would trace the route with a highlighter. We would use the legend to figure the distance in miles. Another person would check the population of towns we passed through and compare them to our hometown. Maps even had information about historical sites.

Now there’s an app for everything we used a map for – and more! Have the kids take turns with finding directions, checking out places to eat, sharing fun things about places, etc. You can make this into an electronic scavenger hunt (that dates me). The amateur photographers in the family can be responsible for taking pictures and creating a virtual album.

The point is to turn smartphones and tablets into a useful, learning part of vacation rather than a battle. And it’s still ok to occasionally have some “phone free” time. This too can become a game. Each family member gets to pick time during the awake hours each day when phones and tablets are taboo.

How do you handle this issue on your family vacation?

Donna Donald

education, family time, media and kids , , ,

A treasure hunt vacation? SIGN ME UP!

June 20th, 2014

SandraGeocachingGuest Blogger, Sandra McKinnon

Geocaching: A Great Family Activity

Geocaching is a world-wide treasure hunt where you electronically use longitude and latitude to locate the “loot.” It is a great low-cost family activity. It is easy to catch on to and you can do it anywhere you are.

My adult son introduced me to the game. We used his handheld GPS unit and went searching in a nearby park. What we found was a camouflaged box full of trinkets. He explained we could take a trinket, but if we did we were to leave another of at least equal value. We signed the log that was inside the box and carefully put it back where we found it. Then we went along our merry way as if nothing had happened.

How did he know that the box was there? He went online to geocaching.com and searched near his home for a cache. He plugged the coordinates into his GPS and we left the house. When we were back to the house, he went online to log the find.

Now, the electronic treasure hunt is as easy as getting an app on your smartphone. You simply search near where you are, choose the level of difficulty and terrain you feel appropriate, and then off you go geocaching.

Since the time with my son, I have logged caches in several states. I have also introduced geocaching to several friends, relatives and colleagues. My 4 year old grandson and I have gone hunting together. We searched for one that was easy enough to get to and to find. He delighted to find the treasure! And no one saw us – which is a trick sometimes! You see, the caches are secret so you don’t want anyone to know what you are doing.

I’ve enjoyed traipsing stealthily all over the U.S. It is a quick activity to stretch your legs or get children out to run a bit when the family stops for a break on a trip. Or plan a picnic and day out exploring wherever you are. Hint: many geocaches can be found at safe places like rest areas, parks and cemeteries.

Maybe you’ll find a cache that I have hidden. What will be inside it?

To learn more about the rules and courtesies of the game, and to search near you, visit geocaching.com.

education, family time, miscellaneous, play, positive parenting, relationships , , , , , ,

A Museum, No Way!

June 12th, 2014

When our kids were growing up, there wasn’t much time or money for family vacations. But somehow one summer we managed to load the five of us in the Suburban and head to Chicago. Looking back I think all of us had different ideas about vacation. The girls wanted to swim in the pool at the hotel, my husband looked forward to interesting food, and I couldn’t wait to get to the museums. During the road trip, we started talking about possibilities and I realized I needed to think fast (something which Moms do pretty well).

d14db7fd3dHere is my solution. Each person got to choose one thing he or she really wanted to do. Then the rest of us would agree and participate. We didn’t have to like it but the rule was – no whining and no complaining. Now the interesting part. I chose the Museum of Science and Industry. A stern look was needed to silence the complaining that was about to erupt. We entered the museum and began to look at the exhibits on the first floor. And then the magic happened. After 30 minutes the girls were still enthralled in the first couple of exhibits. I had to keep encouraging them to move along to see more. Fun and learning and family time all got wrapped up into one wonderful afternoon. The discussions about what we saw and experienced extended well into the evening and later on the trip home.

A couple of takeaways here.

  • Mom doesn’t have to do all the planning. Everyone can have a voice in what the family does on vacation.
  • An afternoon at the museum can be a fascinating way to learn – in this case, science.

I still have a couple of the plastic cups we got at the Brookfield Zoo while on this vacation. Every time I use one, the fond memories come flooding back.

Donna Donald

education, family time, miscellaneous, school , , ,

Summer Vacation Time

June 2nd, 2014

Juggling work schedules, kids’ commitments and the family budget may make some parents wonder if a family vacation is worth the effort. But before giving up, consider this: the kids might learn something from the experience. Families take vacations for many reasons – to spend time together, have some fun, or rest and relax. However, research shows these opportunities to visit other people and places and see something new can actually boost your child’s academic achievement.

Join us during June as we talk about summer vacations and academic achievement.

 

education, family time, podcast , , ,

No, I Won’t Come and Get You

May 30th, 2014

Have you ever been homesick? Well I have, and it’s an awful feeling. You just want to be back at home where you feel comfortable and secure. And kids who go to camp – no matter how much they want to be there – aren’t immune from getting homesick. So how do you handle this challenge?

Let’s start with prevention. Last week Lori talked about writing letters ahead of time and having the camp counselors deliver one each day. That’s one great idea! We also talked about a child practicing being away from home overnight. That’s another great idea. Another is to work as a family in selecting the camp, packing the bag, and talking through what to expect. It’s okay to mention the possibility of missing home – parents, siblings, pets, food, bed, etc. Just don’t promise that you will go pick up a homesick camper!!

Instead, talk about what your child might do at camp when missing home. Let your child come up with some ideas and then add things like:

  • keep busy with the activities, don’t stay in the cabin
  • talk with a camp counselor or other kids
  • make a list of all the fun things you want to tell your parents when you get home

Camp is all about having fun. But it’s also about kids developing confidence and gaining independence. A little struggle with homesickness may be painful but can be overcome and helps shore up confidence.

So Mom – when you get a text from your son pleading to come home after the first day, don’t hit the reply button with a yes. Dad, when you get a tearful phone call, agree that you too are missing your daughter. Then quickly steer the conversation to what’s happening at camp, not what’s going on at home. Could it be that camp helps foster some independence for Mom and Dad too? How have you handled homesick kids at camp?

Note: check out http://www.extension.iastate.edu/4h/camping to learn all about Iowa 4-H camping.

Donna Donald

 

camps, social-emotional ,

Who’s more anxious? Them or me?

May 22nd, 2014

camp2Last summer when my youngest daughter was almost 9 years old she went to her first over night camp (for three whole days and two nights!). I’ll admit I was anxious. She had only stayed with close friends and family members up to that point. It was really important that I not show her my level anxiety because the reality was that I was probably more anxious than her. Luckily, the camp must have dealt with anxious moms before. Camp leaders told us to write letters ahead of time and they would hand deliver them to the kids each day. That helped me. I felt like at least these short daily written messages were a way my daughter could connect with me, even though I wasn’t personally be able to connect with her. At the end of the three days I was thinking “I’m never letting her leave for that long again!” I pulled into the camp, she came running and giggling with all her new friends saying “I’m coming back next summer! And guess what? I’ll be old enough to stay for a WEEK!!”       (I’ve been buying antacids on sale all year so I’m stocked up and ready!)

How have you encouraged your child to join in camp type activities knowing that you will be anxious without them? What tips do you have that worked to help ease the transition for both parent and child?

Lori Hayungs

camps, positive parenting, social-emotional , ,

Help me pack my bag

May 15th, 2014

duffle bagYour child really wants to go to camp this summer and after careful thought, you are ready to give it a try. Then the next question may be – day camp or sleepaway camp? This is a pretty big decision that can impact how successful the camping experience is for your child. While many children around the ages of 9 or 10 are probably ready for being away from parents and on their own, there are several factors to consider.

Let’s start with the obvious. Does your child stay overnight with grandparents or friends? Can he get through the night without calling you to come get him? Has he been away from home, and you, for more than a night or two?

It’s not a good idea to pack a bag and send your child off to camp for a week if she’s never slept away from home on her own. Instead this might be the summer to sign her up for day camps and plan a sleepover at a friend’s house.

However, if your child seems okay with being on his own away from home, go ahead and explore sleepaway camp options. Start with camps that have a shorter duration – of a week or less. If all goes reasonably well, then you can look at longer time frames next year.

As you’re making camp decisions, remember to take into account your child’s ability to take care of herself. Can she get up, find her clothes, and make it to events on time?Does she make friends easily? Is she willing to try new activities and foods? Do unfamiliar places, routines, and people cause anxiety? The answers to these questions will help you determine what types of camps are better choices.

Once you’ve explored these questions with your child, you’re ready to help pack the backpack for a day camp or the duffle bag for a sleepaway camp. Then let the fun begin!

Donna Donald

 

camps, friendship, social-emotional ,

Remember when…

May 8th, 2014

I remember every summer camp experience I had. I only had a few but I REMEMBER! There were pivotal things that happened at each one. They shaped me. They were so important to me that as an adult I have attended a camp with my children for the last 5 years in a row. Not so much to create an experience for them, but to create experiences for all of the children attending. I LOVE CAMP! Can you hear me practically dancing on the keyboard as I type? You should have seen/heard me trying to speak slower for the podcast! My excitement over the possibilities that children have during camp experiences knows no boundaries. I’m even rambling now. So many organizations understand the importance of camp that they have scholarships, grants and monetary support systems to ensure children have opportunities.

Share your camp experiences with us. And if you really want to make a difference – find a camp near you and help a child enjoy it!

Lori Hayungs

family time, nature, positive parenting, social-emotional , , , ,

Summer Camp

April 30th, 2014

86489804-campers280

The 4-H camp, sports camp and music camp brochures are arriving and the kids are begging for a summer adventure. But other than fun, is there any value to camp?

 

According to the American Camping Association, more than 8 million kids attend summer camp every year. So obviously camps are an attractive summer activity for many families.

We’ll take a look at some research on whether camp experiences can contribute to the healthy development of young people.

During May, we will examine the research and discuss how to help children choose an appropriate camp. Join us!

 

 

 

 

camps, friendship, nature, social-emotional