Closer Parent-Bond Benefits Child Mental Health

Last updated on October 6th, 2015 at 12:01 am

Fun vacations and special occasions make great family memories, but they’re not what create a sense of closeness between parents and kids. Tight bonds come from being involved and interested in your kid’s daily life – from schoolwork, to hobbies, to friends and more.

Why is it important to get closer to your kids? A 2010 Binghamton University study found that it greatly boosts child mental health. And if you start early, the bonds will be long-lasting too: According to an MTV/Associated Press survey, teens and young adults said that the greatest source of happiness is spending time with family.

Here are seven easy ways to get closer to your kids.

1. Share a hobby

Whether it’s drawing cartoons or doing jigsaw puzzles, a quiet activity you can do together will bring you closer. Playing sports or video games is fun, but it doesn’t give you the same opportunity to talk or just work side by side. It doesn’t matter if you do it every night, once a week or once a month – as long as you make time (and a commitment) to enjoy it together regularly.

2. Set aside time to talk

When your child comes to tell you something, give him your full attention. That means putting down the phone, turning off the laptop, or even turning off the stove so you can face him and really listen to what he’s saying. Set aside a few minutes every day to ask what he learned at school, how his playdate went, etc. And try not to interrupt. This is his time to talk, not yours!

3. Review homework

Sitting down five nights a week to go over schoolwork shows how much you value your child’s education – and the effort she puts into it. Offer help if she needs it and give praise when she earns it. Most important, ask her to explain what she knows. She’ll feel great teaching you a thing or two.

4. Be open

Communication is a two-way street, and your child benefits from hearing your thoughts as much as you do from hearing his. Keep an open dialogue on everything from politics to personal beliefs, being honest but age-appropriate in what you say.

5. Create rituals

They can be serious or silly, but having reliable routines gives your child a sense of security and family identity. Whether it’s eating pancakes for dinner every Sunday or having pizza-and-movie night every other Friday, creating rituals shows how much you value spending time together. Later, you may hear your child saying to others, “Here’s what we do in my family.”

6. Play make-believe

Playing is so crucial to a child’s emotional and intellectual development that the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights deemed it a right of every child. Sit down for a teddy-bear tea party or have a make-believe pirate sword fight in the living room. Taking part in your kids’ pretend play gives you a window into their feelings, fantasies and fears – and shows them you want to be part of their special world. Check out this make-believe playing guide for more on how to play pretend with your kids.

7. Read together

Studies show that children who grow up watching their parents read are better readers themselves. But reading to a young child – or reading the same book as your older one and then discussing it – is a way to explore the world and share ideas every day.



Who Here Is Certified in CPR or Basic First Aid??

Last updated on August 30th, 2015 at 05:47 pm

It’s a simple question really. How many people at your child’s school are certified in life saving CPR and basic first aid? The answer may surprise you. I am often on the other side of this question training the administrators and teachers in cpr and first aid, and praising them for spending the time and money to go beyond the bare minimum and make sure their entire staff is trained and the children are safe, but putting my oldest child in school for the first time this year made me curious to know the answer to this question.

As a concerned parent I placed a call to Miami Dade public schools and was alarmed to find out that at a public school here in Dade county only two people are required to be certified in CPR and basic first aid. This is a dangerously low number considering that some of the schools here in Dade County have over 5000 students. Not to mention what would happen if one or both of these people calls in sick or goes on vacation? Then you run into the possible situation of having nobody on campus that day required to be trained. Not good. With the normal everyday injuries at schools, the knowledge of basic first aid is a must and add to that the growing number of sudden cardiac events in schools around the country and you will see that having a basic knowledge of first aid and cpr together is also a must and therefore the bare minimum of safety by some schools just will not do.

What would cause a school to keep only the bare minimum of people trained in something so important? Is it that the administrators and staff don’t care about the children’s safety and only do the bare minimum because they have to? Of course not. The answer as usual is money. Now obviously what needs to happen is the schools need to increase the number of people trained in cpr and basic first aid, but like anything else training costs money and with school budgets shrinking by the day and teachers coming out of their own pockets more than ever to make up for the lack of funds, asking a school to budget in training for an entire staff just does not seem possible. So what can you as a concerned parent do? Well if you are certified to train the staff in cpr and first aid then you can do as I have done and donate the training to the school and staff for free, or you can do as some parents here in Dade county have done and that is to raise the funds for the training themselves by having a bake sale or a car wash or some other fundraising event and hire a company to come out to the school and train the entire staff. I cannot think of a better use for that money than the safety of our children.

The bottom line is no matter where you live the people looking after your children, whether it is a school, a daycare or even grandparents need to be trained and know how to react when your child needs help. So go ahead and do as I did and ask the question as to who is certified here and what can I do to help? And if you are in the south Florida area, shoot me an email, I’d be glad to help.

Be Safe.

Speedbump

Last updated on August 31st, 2015 at 12:22 am

Hi, my name is Jon Fischer. I have always had an interest in technology and was the Massachusetts Middle School Robotics Champion 3 years in a row. I wanted to enter the Massachusetts State Science Fair in 2006 (my Junior year of high school), but wasn’t sure what I could do for an original technology project.

Then one of my older friends crashed his car speeding on a back road, severely injuring him and 2 others. After his recovery, the driver told me he knew he was driving much too fast for that road but never thought he would actually crash. I had seen similar stories in the local papers and continued to learn more about the issue in drivers ed. I noticed a recurring theme with teen driver accidents: they almost always seemed to happen on back roads. I decided to do some research and proved my theory, speeding on non-highway roads (local or back roads and secondary roads) is statistically much more dangerous than on highways. I realized that this was a big problem and set out to solve it for my science fair project.

My first step in the project was to research what products already existed for teen safe driving. I found a few products out there, but they were all “constant tracking solutions” to continuously track your teen, which have a number of issues. First, parents would have to dig through mountains of data to find if their teen was ever speeding. Second, this approach is just too invasive for teens. I knew I could build a better solution for both parents and teens!

By the end of the science fair, I had developed a hardware prototype running my own custom software that allowed monitoring of speeding by road class. Although very rudimentary and by no means a useable product, my prototype worked. It was able to be mounted into a car and detect the type of road being driven on with GPS, and then determine if the car was traveling at an appropriate speed for the road. If the car was speeding, the prototype would save the location and speed data which could be viewed on a computer. But if the driver was being safe on the road, the prototype wouldn’t log any kind of data about the driver.

I got an honorable mention in the science fair and was happy with the prototype I had made. Following the science fair presentation, my dad (who was running a small business he had started several years earlier) suggested trying to commercialize my prototype into a real product. I then wrote a business plan over the summer and entered the Mount Wachusett Community College Business Plan Competition in the fall. To my surprise, I won! And took home almost $20,000 to start my business.

I used some of this money to file a patent on “the ability to monitor speed by road class” and used the rest to incorporate the business. Because of this business plan competition win, I was also able to get several entrepreneurial scholarships for college and attended Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont. I chose Champlain because of their BYOBiz (Bring Your Own Business) program. BYOBiz is an extracurricular program at Champlain that provides student entrepreneurs with resources to build their business; primarily mentorship and a shared office space on campus.

It took another 2 years, and a partnership with a hardware manufacturer before release of my first version of the product, Speed-Demon, a commercialized version of the hardware I developed in the science fair. Unfortunately I was only able to sell 52 in a year’s time. Every parent that bought one said they loved the product and saw a vast improvement in their teen’s driving while using the product. However, I received a lot of feedback from parents who could not afford the $250 dollar upfront cost of the box, plus a $15 dollar a month subscription to the service.

I could not bring the cost of the hardware down any further and now, for the first time, thought the business might not make it. One night while playing with my friend’s new Android phone, I realized that times had changed; I no longer needed to sell hardware! Smart phones now had all the technology I needed to provide the same teen safe driving service but without selling my own hardware!

I immediately started researching platforms and found Android OS to be the best for the first version of Speedbump – The Teen Driving Safety App.

The app launched on Android phones at the beginning of summer 2011 (just as I graduated from college) and the iPhone version of Speedbump will be available in early 2012. Speedbump now has more users than Speed-Demon ever did, in less than a quarter of the time! Parents have continued to tell me how much they love Speedbump for its ability to make their teens safer drivers. As an added bonus, they also mention that their teens have become safer passengers, often telling their friends to slow down because of Speedbump reporting. Speedbump is bringing parents and teens together to encourage driving safety and I couldn’t be happier. I’d like to offer any readers of this article a Free 1 Month Trial by using the promo code “PSafety” to sign up at www.SpeedbumpGPS.com. In addition, it would be great to hear any comments or suggestions you may have for me! Please reach out to me on Twitter @SpeedbumpGPS or on Facebook: Speedbump.

HEALTHFUL HINTS

  1. Safe driving is green driving. By following the posted speed limits, you can save a lot at the pump!
  2. Help your teen drive safely:
    • Know the facts/risks – and talk to your child EARLY. Car crashes are the number one killer of teens in the United States – more than cancer, homicide and suicide combined. And risk begins to increase as young as age 12 – because young teens are also at risk as passengers of cars driven by older teen drivers (AAA gives a good overview).
    • Use a parent-teen driving contract (click here for example).
    • Always remind your teens to wear their seatbelts.
  3. Set a good example for your teens with your own driving! According to AAA, good driving habits include:
    • Always wear your safety belt.
    • Obey traffic laws.
    • Do not use a cell phone while driving.
    • Watch your speed.
    • Don’t tailgate.
    • Use your turn signals.
    • Don’t drive when angry or tired.

Love Is Not Abuse – Please Talk to Your Teens!!

Last updated on October 6th, 2015 at 12:33 am

Do you know what an abusive dating relationship looks like? Would you recognize the signs if your child was involved in one? Are you sure?

Two years ago a very close friend of mine discovered that his son (yes folks this happens to boys too) -his brilliant, talented, confident son – had spent his last semester at college involved in an abusive relationship. The girl he was dating sent him an unbelievable number of emails alternating between” I love you”, “I hate you”, “you’re everything to me”, “you’re nothing…none of your friends like you – I’m all you have”…etc. The stream of emails was almost constant…and in between there were phone calls and voice mails, all intended to build him up and then break him down until his self image became nothing more than a reflection of whatever mood she was in.

My friend found out about this – not by talking to his son – but when campus police called to notify him that they had received a tip that his son had left campus, taken a train to a nearby city, checked himself into a hotel and was talking about suicide. Ironically, it was his girlfriend who had called this in. Even sadder – despite the abuse (and warnings from his school) he could not stay away from her which resulted in his forced withdrawal from college. Although he was eventually allowed to return, the damage was done.

How could my friend not have seen that his son was in trouble?? Why didn’t he talk to him? Unfortunately his experience is not uncommon. Studies have shown that more than half of all parents do not recognize the warning signs. According to Cindy Southworth, founder of the National Network to End Domestic Violence’s Safety Net Technology Project, “one of the foremost challenges in dating abuse is understanding that using power and control over a dating partner often goes beyond physical violence”. Jane Randel of Liz Claiborne Inc. adds: “Despite the fact that one in four teens are victimized through technology, our research shows that parents are dangerously out of touch with the high levels of dating violence and abuse taking place in their children’s lives”.  In truth, we can’t afford to be.

Fortunately parents, there is something that can help. Liz Claiborne Inc. recently launched Love Is Not Abuse (LINA), an iPhone app that provides parents with a rare insight into what it feels like for their teen to be a victim of digital dating abuse.  The app simulates the abuse that many teens endure in their dating relationships. For just a few minutes, application users will receive text messages, emails and phone calls from a ‘boyfriend’ or ‘girlfriend’ that mimic the actual communications abused teens receive – in many cases, all day and night.

Love Is Not Abuse provides parents with facts on teen dating abuse, helps them recognize abusive behaviors, directs them too immediate help if they suspect their child is in an abusive relationship and offers tips on how to talk to their teen about dating abuse. “When parents know concrete examples of what can constitute dating abuse, they are better-equipped to support their children.

So now we know…and now it’s up to you and me to do something! Remember, teen dating abuse comes in many forms, making it difficult to recognize. It does not always leaves scratches or bruises, so parents need also to be aware of subtle signs that their teen may be under attack through technology. And we need to acknowledge that this doesn’t make it any less serious.

Dating abuse can result in injury, death and mental health problems including suicidal thoughts, substance use, disordered eating and depression. My friend was lucky – he got the call before his son took his life… but it could just as easily have gone another way. Please talk to your kids and establish a support system before the abuse happens. Remind them that LOVE SHOULDN’T HURT ABUSIVE BEHAVIOR is NEVER OK.

CONNECT WITH “LOVE IS NOT ABUSE” ON THESE SOCIAL MEDIAS

The Love is Not Abuse app is available FOR FREE at the iTunes App store

Many thanks to Leslie Loves Veggies and Mom Central Consulting for sharing this information so we could share it with our readers.

Is it Too Young to Remove Wisdom Teeth at Age 13?

Last updated on November 3rd, 2018 at 05:27 pm

Not really, says T. Bob Davis, a dental surgeon and the spokesman for the Academy of General Dentistry. Wisdom teeth normally don’t break through the gums until about the ages of 17 to 25, but your dentist will likely start assessing your child when she’s 13. And if it seems likely that the wisdom teeth – or third molars, as they are clinically called – will crowd other teeth or cause problems (dentists can predict this using dental X-rays), the sooner they are extracted, the better for your child’s oral health, says Davis.

“It’s easier on both dentists and patients to remove the teeth when the roots are still soft and not fully formed, and younger people heal better,” adds Davis. (He likes to remove the lower set of wisdom teeth in one procedure, at age 14 or 15, followed by the upper set in a separate procedure the following year.) “There’s no point in making a child wait — it just gets harder as the roots calcify.”

But as common as the procedure is, Davis warns that two things are likely to be different for your child than they were when you were a teen:

  • Don’t expect general anesthesia. Patients who have general anesthesia – as opposed to sedation and local anesthesia – heal more slowly. What’s more, a recent study found that patients who are given general anesthesia are more likely to develop infections – and that their infections are more severe – than those who are given local anesthesia.
  • Don’t expect a “knockout” pain medication. These days, dentists are less likely to prescribe heavy-duty pain pills. Painkillers such as Vicodin are among the most abused drugs, “and it’s better not to introduce it to kids who are in their teens,” he says, “especially since we now know we can manage pain so much more effectively, alternating ibuprofen (even before the procedure) with less addictive types of painkillers.” But each case is different. If you’re concerned your child is not getting enough pain relief (or worried that it’s too much), talk to your dentist.

Editors Note:

For additional information on this topic, please see our follow up post “Be Wise About Your Teen’s Wisdom Teeth” by PedSafe Expert Dr Bill Williams

5 Things Not to Say to Your Tween Daughter

Last updated on September 20th, 2018 at 12:48 am

The tween years are all about developing a positive self-image, good decision-making, healthy self-discipline and better mood regulation. What you say to your tween and how you use your nonverbal language to communicate with her may have a lasting impact on her view of herself. As conflicts arise you might find yourself blurting things out that you wish you could take back. Reflect on some common parent-daughter foibles to help yourself stay on the path to positive communication with your tween.

If you catch yourself being judgmental or shaming breathe through it, after reading these five things not to say to your tween, you’ll make better choices next time.

“Your dad noticed.” Tweens can be nervous about what other people see and notice about them, especially their dads. The father-daughter relationship is an important one. Your tween’s first line of dealing with boys who become men is in the relationship between father and daughter. If a tween’s dad is going to notice things about a tween, it’s time for him to speak directly to her. The tween years can feel uncomfortable to a dad, at times. Help your husband to talk openly with your tween about her relationships, her body and her friendships. The more comfortable dad is the more comfortable your tween will be.

“I don’t like that friend.” The tween years are a time when children move from practicing in their relationships to making choices about whom to befriend and who to avoid. If you feel your tween could be making better choices in her friendships help her to identify what makes a good friend. Talk with her about what kinds of friendships make her feel happy, safe and “lifted up.” Open-ended questions that allow self-reflection and not self-judgment such as “How do you like your friends to talk with you?” and “When you share something private with a friend, what are you hoping she does with that information?” will help your tween to develop the skills to observe and reflect on her relationships and improve her decision-making skills.

“You’re too young to like a boy.” With the changes occurring in a tween’s body and brain, developing attraction to boys is a natural process. Often in fourth and fifth grade tweens begin to notice boys. Having crushes can be expected, although not required. Instead of telling your tween how she is allowed to feel guide her to develop attractions that are based on honesty, caring and compatibility. Part of the growing communications with her girlfriends will be drawing comparisons about whom they like. Encourage the freedom to feel differently than her friends without making the object of their affection out to be a “bad guy”. Discussing what they like in boys and what they do not like is the beginning of sorting out whom they will date in high school and college. The tween years are when you lay the groundwork for healthy choices and good decision making about courting behavior. Open communication is the first line to healthy decision-making and problem solving.

“I never want to hear you say that again!” As your tween begins to define herself as a person independent of how you think and feel, she’s going to say things you wish had not come out of her mouth. Instead of being directive and setting up a control struggle wonder aloud about what she meant and help her to understand that what she says in the world reflects on whom she is inside. Gentle direction will win almost every time over bossy intimidation.

“You’d be beautiful if…” You were a tween once. How did it feel when others told you to lose weight, hide your big ears or wear different clothing? Research shows that the developing self-image of a tween persists through adulthood. So help your tween love herself as she is. If she needs to get more exercise, to eat better or choose less revealing clothes, show her the path to success with loving guidance not shameful embarrassment.

Hey mom, you might be new to this whole ‘tween-thing’, your tween is as well, so open-up, talk it out and seek advice from friends you trust. You’ll get the hang of it, just as your tween will.