Practicing decision-making skills
The best way to prepare teens to make good, healthy decisions is to give them chances to practice under adult guidance. Teens won’t always make the choices parents want them to, but when families make a habit of openly discussing tough issues, teens are more likely to think before they act.
Start by giving teens responsibility for making choices on matters involving little or no risk, such as how to style their hair or hobbies. As youth grow, they’re capable of taking responsibility for more important decisions. Even preteens will benefit from the experience of working through some tough decisions on their own. Parents should step in if a decision involves serious risk, but otherwise it’s important to let youth take responsibility and experience the consequences, both good and bad.
Parents can work through the following activity to decide ii they’re giving their kids too much responsibility or freedom before they’re ready for it:
• Make a list of some tough choices kids may face in the future
• Decide how capable kids are of – making a smart decision. Choices could be almost always, usually, sometimes, occasionally or almost never
• List decisions kids are currently responsible for making on their own, such as after-school activities or how to spend their allowance money.
• List decisions kids could possibly make, such as curfews or dating and driving privileges.
• Decide which decisions, such as dating, drug use or college plans, should be discussed.
• Make a plan to do this including time to explain the reasoning for decisions. Ask your youth for inputs, adjust the rules as your teen matures and be able to turn over responsibility to your child.
Though you’ve chosen the best school for your child, much will depend on his teacher. Here’s how to enlist teacher’s help and be partners in your child’s adventures in learning.
Take advantage of every opportunity the school provides to meet with your child’s teacher. Understand the teacher’s style and how it complements the special learning techniques relevant to optimize your child’s performance and well-being. Ask what you can do to help, and take an active role in school activities.
Help your child do his homework, as it teaches him discipline and responsibility. Don’t give conflicting rules to avoid confusion as who to follow, remember that your child’s progress is based on a collective effort: your child’s, his teacher’s, and yours.
COMMUNICATE AND COOPERATE
Cultivate regular communication with the school. Ask teacher for an appropriate time and place for meetings. Make a list of issues or concerns you would like to discuss beforehand. Remember, when talking to teacher; be aware of your tone of voice, words, and body language. If your child heats a negative comment about the teacher, this will undermine the teacher-child relationship and will not solve any problems.
Here’s how you can help ease his anxiety.
Does your child seem jittery before or during an exam? Some physical signs, like uneasiness in the stomach, signal minor anxiety. But don’t worry; this is not bad at all. In fact, you can consider this useful worrying; it keeps the student alert, focused, and motivated to study more.
Excessive anxiety though, can be unhealthy as well as unproductive. Your child’s anxiety may lead to mental blanking during a test. Then all his hard work will go to waste, leading to more frustration. Parents can help their child settle the exam jitters in the following ways:
Before the exam
• Teach positive self-talk. Children with extreme exam anxiety often have unreasonable attitudes. Some are afraid to make mistakes—they think people will disapprove of them and see them as total failures. What you can do: Make your child understand that these attitudes are not based on facts. Explain to him that he is blowing it all out of proportion. Ask him to say to himself, “I will do my best to pass this test. If I do not do well despite my efforts, I will do better next time.”
• Do relaxation techniques. Taking a few slow, deep breaths will reduce your child’s pulse, heart rate, and perspiration. It will also help him cope better.
• Enforce study schedules. Get him in the habit of reviewing all the day’s subjects. Ask him to list down at least three major points discussed in every subject, and to answer end-of-chapter questions.
Being unable to remember information for that day is his cue to hit the books and review his notes.
• Encourage pacing. Cramming sets the stage for blanking during exams, so teach your child to pace his learning over a longer period of time.
• Teach him to refocus his efforts if necessary. Pull your child out of the trap of studying only what he already knows, and what he finds easy. Encourage him to devote more time on topics that he finds difficult, and to tackle these when his mind is at its freshest.
• Provide proper nutrition. Ask your child to turn in early after reviewing for his exam. On test day, make sure he eats a light but healthy breakfast.
During the exam
Your child can further control his anxiety with these reminders:
• Read—and reread. Instruct your child to read questions and instructions carefully. If he encounters unexpected questions, tell him not to panic, take deep breaths, and do positive self-talk.
Once he has calmed down, re-reading the question usually produces more heartening results.
• Have a plan of attack. Train your child to underline a question’s key aspects and to plan the order by which he will answer them. Answering all the questions he knows first will increase his confidence.
• Recognize key words. Explain to him how singular and plural wording in multiple choice questions can cue you to the right answer. Teach him to do away with those that are obviously wrong, and then to work on the remaining ones using the process of elimination. Take note: Words like “usually,” “often,” “sometimes,” and “rarely” are more likely to be a correct response than emphatic statements such as “never,” “all,” “always,” and “none.”
• Don’t forget to down all the formulas. Solutions to math problems will have to be presented with the final answer properly identified.
• Give yourself time to focus. If he blanks out during the exam, teach him to stay calm and accept that he has just forgotten the information. Tell him to go ahead and work on other parts of the exam.
Choosing what to major in college can be an edgy experience. With so many available options and endless suggestions from family members and friends, the child may have a rough time coming to a decision, What may make it worse is when parents put pressure on the child by insisting that they major in something she is not interested in.
Expert advises teens to know their capabilities and then work on their decision-making skills. “Will they follow their heart or their parents’ choices?” she asks.
“They should communicate with their parents and be assertive but not in a way that’s disrespectful.” “Compromise and then make a decision. It helps to know all the advantages and disadvantages.”
Parents should make an effort to listen to what the children have to say. They may give suggestions but not encroach on the child’s decision.
Both parties must have a heart-to-heart talk. “Lay down all your cards. But remember that it is the child who will be studying, and if she doesn’t like it, she will suffer because she will not perform so well. Just support her in the best way you can.”
“The student should also listen to her parents and other concerned people as they might perceive certain potentials in her that she is not aware of.”
Money isn’t everything
Another thing that can make it hard for young people to decide is the money factor. How much will I earn if I choose this career? Will I be able to save and have leeway for shopping and gimmicks?
“You may be successful financially yes. But are you really happy (with what you’re doing)? Money may be important hut it’s not everything. What also counts is the satisfaction one gets from performing a job he or she truly likes.”
First-time moms are often anxious of what they don’t know, while second-time moms are afraid of what they do: sleepless nights and crying spells- But you can’t compare the experiences. In fact, it’s the first-time experiences that make the second time around so different and better for most moms. Equipped with knowledge, and the wisdom that comes from having more friends with kids, moms are able to hit round two of parenthood with more confidence, ease, and joy.
Here’s what helps make the second time easier.
While I was going through an old box, my daughter, Arianne, came across the stuffed bear I’d had when I was her age, a deeply loved creature named Teddy. Then she began asking how come my stuffed bear has no fur and has no eyes at all! I explained that my pet dog had chewed up Teddy when I was a kid. She was shocked. Gravely, she kissed Teddy’s empty eye sockets. Somberly, she reported to her elder brother, Andrei, what had happened. Then I saw them fixing that old stuffed bear.
As it turns out, children have an inborn capacity for compassion. Small in stature, they naturally identify themselves with stuffed animals, other kids, pets, and underdogs. The tricky part is that their empathy must compete with other developmental forces, including limited impulse control which makes them pull the cat’s tail and their belief that their needs absolutely must come first which makes it hard for them to let their cousin push the cool fire truck.
But with so much hatred and turmoil in the world today, it seems more important than ever to raise kids who can understand and be kind to other people. Teaching this doesn’t t mean lectures or visits to soup kitchens It’s part of day-to-day life how you answer your child s questions how you solve conflict at the park, how you nudge his or her growing capacity to understand and think about other people. Temperament, of course, plays a role some kids are naturally more tuned in to other people’s feelings and difficulties, while others are a bit oblivious. Either way, you have influence in fostering your child’s ability to empathize. Age by age, here’s how to do so in small, daily doses.
Teach your child ways to treat things with care so your child can develop the understanding that actions have consequences.
Show how to be gentle. Your child wants to be friendly but ends up grabbing the baby roughly, demonstrate it another way. You can show your child his love with his hands You can actually take his hand and show him physically what a gentle touch is.
Speak softly. Your kindness will be a role model for how to treat others. When your child is in pain, be warm and caring. Maybe a hug would be nice. Young toddlers don’t have a very consistent long-term memory, so you’ll have to repeat your lessons more times than you thought possible.
Reject rudeness, Children sometimes do things like spit into their parents’ faces and the parents will just laugh. This will not do. Compassion requires that your child respect others, including you. Gently but firmly correct your child s behavior In the same loving but no nonsense manner remove his little feet from the table and unlock his fist from your hair.
Say ‘I’m sorry’ if you ye been short-tempered with your child, apologize to him. All parents make mistakes. It’s how you address them afterward that make the difference. He will learn that everyone, even Mom, admits it when she’s wrong.
Small babies can be surprisingly quick; especially those five months old and older. They are not ready to learn about the dangers yet, so you will need to keep them out of harm’s way. Eventually, you will be able to tell your baby which things are off-limits and help him learn a safe way around. Teaching toddlers to go down stairs backwards, over and over again, will help them protect themselves. You could also start using a word like ‘ouch’ whenever there .is a minor mishap so your toddler can start to learn what it means. Then you can use that same word to warn him or her of things that night causes the same sensation such as a hot oven or a sharp edge.
In the meantime, to make your home safe for your baby, you can try to prepare in advance. Some new parents even invite their friends babies to test run which areas of their home need ‘baby proofing’.
But before you spend up high on the latest safety ‘whatsit” or gadgets remember that supervision is the only reliable prevention against accidents
Around the house
Never shake a baby even playfully throwing a baby in the air can injure his fragile spinal column and brain. There are telltale signs of shaken baby syndrome, no matter how it occurs.
Babies love to pull themselves up and climb so make sure your furniture and heavy objects are stable especially TVs, bookcases, entertainment units and cabinets. If furniture is wobbly, remove it from the house or fix it to the wall Babies love to grab tablecloths and pull themselves up. When you make a well deserved hot Chocó, keep it out of reach and off the table.
Install a safety gate at the top and bottom of stairs and make sure they are always securely closed
Be prepared for emergencies by keeping a list of numbers by your phone. Keep a well stocked first aid kit and consider doing a first aid course which covers techniques such as CPR.
It s normal for babies to put things in their mouths — be it food toys or Mom’s favorite earnings — so regularly scan the house for small objects that maybe choking hazards. Older children may enjoy a daily hunt to help look for small toy parts or other potentially dangerous objects lying around. Things to look out for include coins marbles, pills/tablets pen lids, jewelry, small bits of construction toys, hardened pieces of food on the foot, and anything smaller than a D-size battery. And make sure you know what to do if baby is choking.
In the bedroom
When changing baby nappies, be sure to keep one hand on him all the time so he doesn’t fall. And never leave him unattended on a change table — he can squirm or wriggle off in seconds.
Sleep safety: Keep pillows fluffy toys and other soft things out of his cot to prevent SIDS and suffocation.
In the kitchen
A dangling toaster cord is tempting to pull so keep appliance cords from hanging over the edge of the. bench. When cooking, turn saucepan handles inwards and use the back stove elements (rather than the front ones) when possible. Do not hold your baby while you’re cooking. Keep washing up liquid, insect sprays and other chemicals locked away and up high.
In the bathroom
Never leave your baby alone in the bath even for a second. It takes no time for a baby to drown and it is both quick and silent. Make sure you have everything you need when you start. If you need to leave the bathroom to get something, take her with you. It is also wise to lock up medicines and keep soaps up high out of baby’s reach.
In the car and outside
Don t be tempted to leave her in the car while you pop into the shop — in some countries it is against the law Babies overheat very quickly in cars so always take her with you When outdoor, remember the sunscreen and hat. Baby’s burn very easily so keep them shaded or covered at six months, you can start using baby sunscreen (those containing zinc or titanium dioxide protect better than simple chemical sunscreens). Take the opportunity at this early age to make a habit of wearing a hat for all outside play.
During preconception and pregnancy, a woman’s diet makes a big difference to her health and to the health and growth of the fetus.
After her baby’s birth, what she eats affects breast milk if she is breastfeeding. It ha s a big effect on her health and energy levels, too. Key concerns about diet during each of the three stages are outlined below.
In the months before a woman gets pregnant, her food choices are important what she eats and the vitamins she takes can help ensure that mother and fetus will have nutrients that are essential from the very start of pregnancy.
A B-vitamin called folate can help prevent certain birth defects of the spine and brain called neural tube defects. The neural tube starts to form soon after conception. Many women do not know they are pregnant until a few months into the pregnancy.
For that reason, health authorities advise all women of childbearing age to get 400 micrograms (mcg) a day of folic acid, a synthetic form of folate. This has been shown to help cut down the risk of neural tube defects. One multivitamin a day should supply this amount.
Just as it is important to stay active and get plenty of sleep during pregnancy. a woman needs to eat well, too. Her body and her growing fetus have special nutritional needs. The best way meet these needs is to eat a variety of foods from all the food groups.
Skipping meals, eating poorly, and trying to diet while pregnant can be serious threats to the development of the fetus. After the first trimester, in fact, a woman should add about 300 calories a day of healthy foods to her diet. She should expect to gain between 25-30 pounds during her pregnancy. Below is a list of special nutritional needs during pregnancy. A woman who is not sure if she is meeting these needs should consult her healthcare provider.
Carbohydrates give the fetus the constant supply of energy it needs for growth. Most of a woman’s extra calories during pregnancy should come from carbohydrates.
Foods such as fresh fruit, whole grain cereals and breads, rice, potatoes, and beans are good sources.
Iron supports the growth of the fetus and helps a woman produce more blood. If the mother does not get enough iron, the fetus will take the iron it needs from her blood.
Pregnant women should get about 30 milligrams (mg) of iron a day. Most women do not embark on pregnancy with enough iron in their blood. An iron supplement may be prescribed to prevent iron deficiency anemia. Foods that contain iron include meat, poultry, fish, legumes such as beans, and whole-grain and enriched grain products.
Iron from animal products is better absorbed by the body than that from plant sources. Eating good sources of vitamin C, such as citrus fruit broccoli, and tomatoes, can help the body absorb iron.
Folic acid is important for the developing spinal cord. It helps make new cells and genetic material. Its most important job is helping to prevent neural tube defects, such as spina bifida.
During pregnancy, the recommended daily amount of folic acid rises to 600 mcg. Based on the woman’s medical history and test results, the healthcare provider may recommend 400-800 mcg of folic acid a day. Many foods are fortified with folic acid, including those made with enriched flour or grain products, such as bread and rice. This makes it easier for a woman to get all the folic acid she needs before and during pregnancy.
Food sources include green leafy vegetables such as spinach and broccoli, dark yellow vegetables, and fruits such as mangoes, papaya, peaches and pumpkin, beans and enriched grain products and nuts.
Protein is needed for the growth and repair of muscles and body cells in mother and fetus. During pregnancy, the RDA (recommended daily allowance) for protein is 70 grams a day. Good sources of protein include lean meats, fish, legumes, eggs, and skinless poultry.
Calcium and phosphorus help to form the bones of the fetus. The DRI for calcium is 1,000 mg for most pregnant women over 18 years of age, and 1,300 mg for pregnant women under 18 years of age.
If she does not get enough calcium, the fetus will take what it needs from calcium stored in her bones. Milk, yogurt, and other dairy products are the best sources of calcium. Other sources include tofu made with calcium, calcium fortified orange juice, sardines, salmon with bones, and dark green leafy vegetables such as collard greens, kale, and mustard greens.
Vitamin D works to help the body use calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin D is found in fortified milk and from sunshine.
Other vitamins and minerals are also needed in higher amounts than usual during pregnancy. Except for iron, folic acid, and calcium, most of the nutrients needed during pregnancy can be taken in by making healthy food choices.
However, a healthcare provider may prescribe a vitamin and mineral supplement. If so, it should be taken only as directed.
A survey of 1,000 pairs of parents and children commissioned by Cartoon Network, gives us the lowdown.
On watching TV
• 61 percent of kids say it’s their top leisure activity.
• 95 percent of parents watch TV with their kids; 82 percent do soon a daily basis.
On health and fitness
• 82 percent of parents claim their kids are involved in sports or exercise and play outdoors. 49 percent say their kids do this on a daily basis.
• 95 percent of parents believe their kids “have an active and healthy lifestyle”; 85 percent feel they “get enough physical exercise” but 79 percent would still like them to “play and exercise more.”
On kids’ spending power
• 93 percent of kids receive pocket money from their parents; 88 percent receive it on a daily basis. The average weekly amount is $3.
• Kids in homes with cable TV receive almost 50 percent more pocket money than the others.
• Kids would most like to buy clothes, footwear, and bags. Girls go for dolls, while boys choose action figures.
• Over half of the homes have a DVD player; 30 percent have a computer and video game system; and 23 percent of kids have a TV set in their bedroom.
• 26 percent of kids have their own mobile phone or share it with their siblings; 27 percent are able to use their parents’; and 41 percent in the AB socio-economic group have their own mobile phone.
• 75 percent of kids who use mobile phones are familiar with text messaging; 69 percent use it for games.
Too much academic pressure and over scheduled kids.
There she goes again. It is past 10 PM, past any child’s bedtime. But the neighbor is still yelling at her son Gino, a grade one student studying for a test. Earlier in the day the young boy had already attended his review sessions at a nearby learning center. On the weekends, his parents have scheduled Taekwondo, math and reading sessions too, convinced that this is the best way to help Gino succeed in the future.
Many parents today are like Gino’s parents. They love their children and early on want to prepare them for challenges in the future. They believe that education is a means to development and success. However, too much pressure on the child to excel academically and over scheduling their activities may lead to child stress and create potential detrimental effects on children.
Pressure to make the grade
A psychologist-educator confirms there is much pressure on kids today and that there are parents who do pressure their children more. “There is really a lot of pressure (on children]. Imagine they are in school by 7AM, when they come home, they eat, take a bath and they are off to another (learning) center to be tutored again. [Back home] they, spend a little time to do homework, that type of set up (on a daily basis).”
Much emphasis on the child’s education is geared towards competition, comparison, achieving high test scores and ultimately the numbers and letters called grades.
Grades indeed are vital tools to help parents measure a child’s performance in school- However too much emphasis on grades alone may hinder true learning and lead to serious effects on a child’s growth and development. This comparison among others is baseless. A child should be seen individually. A child should not be seen as performing either above par, at par, or below par with his peers. Each child has his or her own strengths and weaknesses. Unfortunately, the comparison goes beyond comparing his or her classmates, another child or another sibling.”
“Grades are there to guide you where your (children) are at,” “but they don’t make the person. In childhood, it’s not so much the development of cognitive ability but the whole self. We should also focus on the social, emotional, and physical development of the child.”
• Electricity doesn’t come cheap. Heat-producing appliances such as clothes dryers and refrigerators burn up enormous amounts of energy. Consider purchasing an energy- saving appliance. Hang your wash outside instead of using the dryer. It will save you money, and the clothes will smell fresh!
• Children usually like to draw. If your little Picasso is eating up all of your expensive computer printer paper, consider using paper bags or recycled office paper for some of their artwork. These are fine for collages, and they are free. An added plus? You’ll reduce that stash of paper trash that keeps growing, and you’ll save several trees.
• Entertainment need not be expensive. Rent a video instead of seeing a movie in a theater. Invite your friends and have a potluck chow session while you have fun watching your favorite DVD movies. Now you’ve multiplied the fun without the extra cost of parking, movie tickets, and refreshments!