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How to help your teen build confidence

September 26, 2017

By Jessica Vician

How to help your teen build confidence

Building confidence isn't easy—even as adults we must to pick ourselves up and remember why we're awesome. Sometimes it takes a reminder from a friend, other times it's the perspective of what we've accomplished that gives us confidence.

That perspective isn't as accessible for a teenager, who has just started figuring a little bit of life out, but it's important that they start to build confidence to help them succeed in their next life adventure—college.

When your child goes to college, they won't have you or their high school friends to prop them up. They'll be alone, for maybe the first time ever, and need to learn how to harness motivation to go to class and study and summon confidence to make new friends and make good decisions.

How can you help them build this confidence now, while they're in high school? Extracurricular activities are a great first step for three reasons.

  1. Social
    Your teenager will meet people they might not otherwise interact with through these activities. By finding an activity that they're interested in, they will make new friends who share the same interests. That skill will accompany them to college when it's time to make new friends and try new activities.
  2. Academic
    YDuring meetings or activities, your teen will build skills that they might not build in the classroom. From teamwork to finding an outlet for creativity to developing leadership skills, your child can become a better student because of the skills they develop in extracurricular activities.
  3. Prepare for College
    Colleges and universities seek well-rounded students who have demonstrated a strong academic record and participate in extracurricular activities. The extra work shows a dedication outside of school and that the student can still earn good grades while doing something outside of the classroom.

If your teenager is initially hesitant to join clubs or other extracurricular activities, remind them how important they are for college applications. If they are looking forward to going away to school, the motivation to boost their chances of getting into their school of choice should encourage them to join one or two organizations. As your teen participates more frequently, they will build those skills and in turn, build confidence.

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Why should teens expand their circle of friends?

July 18, 2017

By Jessica Vician

Why should teens expand their circles of friends? | The Breakfast Club had a point—bring teens of different backgrounds and interests together and they'll learn something.

During high school, teenagers find their group of friends and spend most of their social time with them. It's easy for teens to stay inside that group and ignore the many classmates who are different from themselves and their friends.

While people aren't as easily categorized as The Breakfast Club characters are—the brain, the princess, the athlete, the basketcase, and the criminal—often groups of friends fit into molds like them. Within each group are unique individuals with strengths and weaknesses.

Just as The Breakfast Club teens learn in the movie, interacting with people outside of their group of friends can help your teenager become more empathetic and gain a more inclusive view of their community and the greater world. They will learn to find something in common with people who may seem very different from them but at their cores are not.

When the school year begins, encourage your teenager to step outside their friend group and engage with other peers. If your teen is athletic and spends most of their time with other athletes, they can join a club to meet other teenagers. If your child is academically focused, they can try a social club or a sport.

By branching out and meeting new people, your teenager may gain confidence and a greater sense of who they are as an individual instead of as part of a group. This confidence and understanding of others will build character and stay with them through adulthood.

Tags :  high schoolsocial
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How can I help my child choose better friends?

June 13, 2017

By YOU Program Facilitator

How can I help my child choose better friends?

Question: My daughter starts 4th grade in the fall. Some of her friends from this past year were bad influences—they made fun of kids in the class and would pressure my daughter to play tricks on those kids during recess. I want to start next year fresh by helping her choose better and nicer friends. How can I do that when I'm not there?

Answer: Just as with adult friendships, sometimes children end up with friends who don't share their moral code or treat others the way they do.

Assuming the friends from this past school year were mostly school friends—that is, your daughter won't see them much this summer—you have the opportunity to use the time away to teach her what qualities to value in a friendship and make new friends this summer.

For instance, look at your daughter's friends who you feel are good influences. What characteristics do they possess? Are they kind, compassionate, trustworthy, considerate? Talk to your daughter about those types of qualities, using her friends as examples.

"Angel always thanks me after we have her over for dinner. That shows she is grateful for our food and our company. What are you grateful for?"

In the same manner, you can start a conversation about negative qualities. Share a story from your childhood when someone treated you unkindly and relate it back to the friends who make fun of classmates.

"When I first got glasses, there were boys in my class who told me I was ugly and called me 'four eyes.' They hurt my feelings and made me cry. Did anyone in your class this year get glasses? Did anyone make fun of them? Instead of hurting their feelings, you can tell them you like their glasses and are happy they can see better!"

Then you can talk about what to do when classmates make fun of other people and talk about those values and traits that we want in our friends.

Use the summer to reinforce her friendships with positive people and when she starts back at school, remind her of the qualities we all want in our friends. If she finds her way back to the friends from this past year, make an extra effort to have these conversations.

Tags :  elementarysocialbullying
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Celebrate Your Child's Teacher During Teacher Appreciation Week

May 9, 2017

By Jessica Vician

Celebrate Your Child's Teacher During Teacher Appreciation Week

Image courtesy of PTA.org

Teachers do so much for our kids—not only do they educate, they also look out for their social, emotional, and physical well-being while at school. They're building confidence and self-esteem while curbing bullying. They're teaching for academic success and inspiring a thirst for knowledge outside of the textbook.

With the PTA's Teacher Appreciation Week in full swing, how will you thank your child's teacher for all that they do?

The PTA put together a toolkit that will help you and your fellow parents say thanks. From thank you cards to appreciation certificates to flyers, head over to their site to download and print.

You can publicly thank the teachers on social media using the PTA graphics included in the kit and the #ThankATeacher hashtag.

Ask your child to name several things they like about their teacher. If your child is old enough to write, have them write a thank you card. If they can't write yet, write the thank you card for them.

For older kids, ask them to think about what they love about their favorite teachers and find things they admire about their least favorite teachers. Encourage them to write thank you cards to both. It's the least we can do for the people who do it all for our kids.

Tags :  teachersacademicsocial
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Socializing Your Baby

April 4, 2017

By Jessica Vician

Socializing Your Baby | Just as you are your child’s first teacher, you are your child’s first friend. Taking his or her social cues from you, your child will slowly learn which faces and noises elicit reactions and how to mimic your facial expressions. | A dad smiles with his daughter.

Just as you are your child’s first teacher, you are your child’s first friend. Taking his or her social cues from you, your child will slowly learn which faces and noises elicit reactions and how to mimic your facial expressions. Eventually, he or she will start interacting more frequently by babbling, smiling, and crying around you to communicate. Those early communication skills are your child’s first steps toward socialization.

Since so many of your baby’s social skills are the result of interacting with you, it’s important to communicate often with him or her. In the first month, you can encourage these skills by making exaggerated facial expressions—raising your eyebrows, opening your eyes and mouth wide, sticking out your tongue—while speaking to your baby.

As he or she grows, keep talking to your baby as much as you can. Talk through your chores, as you change diapers and dress your baby, even as you prepare meals. These verbal cues slowly help your baby learn to talk and build the bond between you.

This Baby Center article details the monthly social developmental milestones for babies, which can help you know what to look for as your baby grows.

Every baby is different, and every parent has different expectations and needs for their child. The socialization skills and activities outlined above are easy to do at home, but what if you want to get out and expose you and your baby to other youngsters and parents?

There are plenty of options, from play dates with friends and their babies to classes at socialization centers like Gymboree. This mom, Brittany, wrote about her experience taking her eight month-old to a class, saying it helped her daughter interact with other youngsters and improve her motor skills. As your baby gets older, he or she will start taking an interest in other babies and you can begin nurturing those social skills, too.

While your baby is young, enjoy the bonding time as you teach him or her to socialize through interactions with parents, grandparents, siblings, and close friends. The parental bond will be the strongest social bond in the first year, so enjoy it!

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