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My teenage son is getting into trouble and won’t listen to us. What can we do?

November 5, 2015

By YOU Program Facilitator

My teenage son is going through some changes and seems to be straying off of the right path. I have been told we need to talk to him as parents but he won’t listen to me, and my husband refuses to talk to him. What can I do? | A boy puts his hand up, blocking his mother from speaking to him.

Question: My teenage son is going through some changes and seems to be straying off of the right path. I have been told we need to talk to him as parents but he won’t listen to me, and my husband refuses to talk to him. What can I do?

Answer: This is a difficult situation, because you want to help your son but don’t know how. And deep down, your husband wants to help his son, too, but is likely having trouble knowing how to talk to him.

You and your husband might be surprised by how much your son still needs you and benefits from your time and attention, even as a teenager. Despite becoming more independent and making decisions you don’t agree with, he still needs love and support from both of you.

Think about your relationships with your son before he became a teenager. Then think about what your relationships were like when you and your husband noticed your son straying from that path. How have those relationships changed?

Often as children become teens and more independent, parents give them space. There are many reasons for it: embracing them becoming an adult, respecting their increased need for privacy, and sometimes even because it’s easier now that you don’t have to worry about them in the same ways you did when they were toddlers.

But that change in attention could be affecting your son. While it’s important to respect his new boundaries and step back a bit, it’s also important to spend quality time together and get to know him as he becomes an adult.

  • Give your son affection, even if he doesn’t like it. A few hugs a day never hurt anyone.
  • Make time for him, and ensure it’s face-to-face and not via phone or texting.
  • Resume family traditions, like game night or family dinner. Even if these traditions happen less frequently, it’s important to keep them scheduled.
  • Talk to him, even if he won’t reciprocate. Tell him about your day, ask for advice, even talk about the weather. Eventually, he’ll respond in some way, which can lead to more conversation and help him get back on the right path.

Even if he dismisses your advice or affection, it’s still important to try. At least that way, he’ll know he is loved and still a priority in your lives.

You can learn more about supporting and engaging your teenager throughout high school in the third book of the YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher series.


5 Ways to Focus in the Digital Age

September 8, 2015

By Jessica Vician

5 Ways to Focus in the Digital Age | Children are having trouble focusing more than ever, which is affecting more than just their homework-- it's affecting their ability to emotionally develop. Help your child learn to focus with these 5 tips. | A child plays a video game with his headphones on.

Smartphones, tablets, laptops, game consoles, televisions. All of these digital devices make us more connected yet more distracted than ever. As any adult office worker can tell you, constant Internet access grants instant information but also makes it easy to lose focus on the task at hand and enter a digital rabbit hole.

It especially affects our children. With all of these opportunities for information and distraction, students aren’t fully developing their ability to concentrate and focus. That means more than just being easily distracted in class—it means that the neurons in their brains don’t learn to fire in a way that allows them to focus. If their brains don’t fully develop this function, it could affect their successes in life.

“This ability [to concentrate] is more important than IQ or the socioeconomic status of the family you grew up in for determining career success, financial success, and health,” psychologist and journalist Daniel Goleman said during an interview on KQED Radio.

Not only will children be unable to focus on their academics, they might not develop social and emotional skills needed to become well-developed adults. So how can you help your children focus in this digital age of distraction?

  1. Do light exercise.
    Get extra energy out of their system with a quick game of Horse or a bike ride before starting homework.
  2. Turn off all devices.
    While some assignments will require Internet research, make sure all other devices—smartphones, tablets, games, television, etc.—are off or are in another room. Have your child do as much homework and prep work as possible before accessing the Internet.
  3. Have your child make a task list after school.
    With a list of items he or she needs to accomplish, your child might be more focused to cross items off that list. Just as lists help adults, they can help children.
  4. Check in on computer time.
    If an assignment requires Internet research, check in every ten to fifteen minutes to make sure your child stays on task. If he or she is struggling to avoid surfing, sit and help them stay focused.
  5. Take breaks.
    If your child gets distracted after some time focusing on homework, let him or her take a break. Have some fruit or a glass of water, let their mind rest, and then return to that list.

These are just five ways to silence the distractions and help your child focus. By teaching him or her these valuable skills, you are giving your child the tools to succeed in school and in life.


Save Your Child’s Immunization Records

September 1, 2015

By Jessica Vician

Save Your Child’s Immunization Records | How long should you save your child's immunization records? Until they finish their doctorate. Once your child graduates from high school, they will need those records to apply for undergrad, graduate, and post-graduate school, so keep them just in case. | A doctor fills out an immunization form.

You know you need to save your child’s immunization records for a while, but just how long should you save them?

The short answer? Until your child finishes a doctoral program.

I know it seems extreme, but the reality is that pediatricians aren’t in business forever. While high schools keep records for some time after students graduate, if you or your child moves away, it’s hard to track those records down.

11 years after graduating high school, I decided to go to graduate school and needed to provide proof of certain immunizations. At that point, I had no idea where those records were. My pediatrician had retired long ago, and my undergraduate school wasn’t able to provide them. Luckily, my high school still had my records and my parents still lived nearby so my mom was able to pick them up for me.

However, most high schools won’t keep these records for more than a few years after graduation. To avoid your child needing to repeat vaccines or have extensive blood work done to prove immunity, keep these immunization records until your child is ready to take them for safe keeping.

The vaccines required may vary by state and school, but generally your child will need proof of the following:

  • Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR)
  • Meningococcal meningitis
  • Tetanus/Diphtheria
  • Hepatitis B

While your child might not have plans for graduate or doctoral studies right now, keep those immunization records in a safe place for many years after he or she graduates from high school, especially if you move. It might not seem like a big deal now, but your child will thank you if he or she ever pursues an advanced degree.

To learn more about college and career readiness and supporting your child’s health, read the YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher 3-book set, available on Amazon.


Think Before You Share: Protect Your Child’s Privacy on Social Media

August 4, 2015

By Noralba Martinez

Think Before You Share: Protect Your Child’s Privacy on Social Media | When you share photos of your kids on social media, those photos can fall into the wrong hands. Read on for how to protect your family. | A mother and father take selfies with their two kids while on a carnival ride.

This summer, as our kids are having a blast being out of school, we parents are trying to capture every fun moment to treasure it forever. Smartphones have made it easy to snap photos and immediately upload them to social media accounts for all our family and friends to see.

But what if more than just your family and friends are seeing the photos of your kids? How safe are those photos? According to an infographic published by Go-Gulf, over “600,000 Facebook accounts are compromised every day.” How would a social media hack affect your children’s privacy?

My friends and I were talking about how we can protect our children’s innocence as long as we can in the age of social media. One of my friends told me to Google our names. Luckily only one picture popped up of me (the one used for this website), but my friends and their kids were not as lucky—some of their personal and private pictures were on the Internet for everyone to see because they weren’t taking proper precautions.

Use these quick and easy tips to keep your children (and entire family) safe from being overexposed and away from dangerous people like pedophiles and hackers.

  • Keep all social media accounts private. If you feel your accounts are not safe enough, delete the information you don’t want shared or stored and close the accounts.
  • Only share your pictures with family and close friends. Keep in mind that once you post an image on many social media platforms, that company owns the photo and can use it for marketing purposes. Even when sharing with people you trust, only share what you don’t mind others seeing.
  • Change passwords regularly and be creative with them to avoid having your accounts hacked. Don’t use birthdays, anniversaries, or your children or pets’ names, either.
  • Back up photos to your computer or an external hard drive and then remove them from your phone.
  • Always lock your phone, in case someone steals it.

Remember that memories of your children will be around for a long time, even if you don’t post a photo of it on social media. Some of the best ones are preserved in your heart. Cherish the moment—don’t lose it because you are looking for your phone.

To learn more about proper technology use for your kids, see the YOU: Your Child's First Teacher 3-book set


3 Strategies to Teach Your Teen to Budget Their Summer Paycheck

July 7, 2015

By Nely Bergsma

3 Strategies to Teach Your Teen to Budget Their Summer Paycheck | It's never to late to teach your teen the valuable life skill of budgeting. Try these three tips to help them grasp the concept of saving and buying mostly what they need. | A teenager stands behind the counter of her summer job.

When is a good time to discuss savings and budgeting with your teenager? Financial professionals suggest a good starting point is when children begin to receive an allowance. But don’t get discouraged if you didn’t start then; it is never too late to introduce savings and budgeting to your child.

Now that summer is here, your adolescent may insist on needing a job and be enthusiastic about the idea of earning his or her own money. But most teens work so that they can spend. Teaching yours to set a budget can be useful in curtailing his or her spending and encouraging savings.

30-day Plan
Begin by keeping it simple. Ask what your teen intends on doing with the money he or she earns. Then suggest waiting 30 days before spending any bit of the paycheck. This tactic cuts down on impulse buying and helps to identify what your child needs versus wants.

Create a Budget
During the 30-day waiting period, encourage your son or daughter to create a budget. A budget is a useful tool for keeping track of spending habits.

Ask your teen to identify what he or she actually spends each month on food, entertainment, cell phone, and clothes. Use real numbers, not estimates.

Dig through your own personal bank and credit card statements to help your teen figure it out. This process will easily show both of you the areas where he or she may be overspending.

Spend Less Than They Earn
Lastly, remind your son or daughter to spend less than they earn and put away that difference for the future. This budgeting and financial planning will help your teen achieve his or her short-term and future financial goals.

Learning and practicing good financial habits now can serve to support your child’s emotional growth and financial independence in the future. Practicing these strategies will help them get there.

It's never too late to supplement your teen's school education with lessons at home. For more tips like these, read our YOU: Your Child's First Teacher books, available on Amazon. 

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