Tips for Parents
Beating the Frantic Family Syndrome
Caring for Babies and Toddlers
Dealing with Bullies
Finding Good Child Care
How Parents Can Model Good Listening
Keeping Food Safe
Putting Fun Into Your Family Life
Staying in Touch with Your Pre-Teen
7 Steps to Sensible TV Viewing
Today's families are busier than ever before and as the holiday season approaches life can become even more hectic. Juggling schedules can become very stressful, especially if one or both parents work outside of the home. Combine one working mother, who is always in a rush, with one busy child, who marches to his/her own tune and you may find tempers flaring, tears falling, and misery coming from all directions.
Here are some tips taken from a YMCA of the USA publication to help you get the whole family up and moving - together and on time.
Connect with your children.
When you say you're in a hurry, your child often interprets this as meaning that your thoughts are elsewhere. You can bet your child will do his/her best to bring your attention back to them. Dawdling may not always be a deliberate attempt to defy you. It may be an attempt to give reassurance that you are still there for them.
Take time to do at least one unhurried activity before you leave home, and then again when you next get back together.
In the morning, you might talk about a dream your child had the night before. In the evening, you can each share what happened during the day. Include your child when you're cooking - work together side by side.
Respect each other's needs.
Kids don't like to be interrupted or ordered around any more than you do. It's important you respect your child's need to have some control. Remember, young children are tied to the present. Planning doesn't come naturally for them. Give your child advance warning, using words they can understand. Be specific about plans for the day - what will happen at what time.
When you want your child to finish an activity, look for a natural stopping point.
It could be finishing a drawing or reading to the end of a chapter. Give your child at least five minutes notice before you have to head out the door.
If a child is very attached to a special toy, bring it along.
Let a younger child bring his favourite blanket or stuffed animal.
Create schedules and routines.
Schedules keep families moving smoothly and help plan for what's to come. If the schedule needs to change, try to go over the changes in the morning or the night before.
Make weekends less structured than weekdays by scheduling fewer activities.
And be sure to build in at least an hour or two for yourself.
Leave enough time.
Allowing extra time to get to day care, work, or school can make the difference between sanity and chaos.
Plan ahead. Lay out clothes and fill lunch boxes, diaper bags, and bags for work the night before. Keep items you need near the door to avoid last-minute searches. Children need to be organized, too. Make tidying up their room a part of your child's everyday tasks. Get him/her to think the night before about what he/she will need for the next day.
Set the right tone and keep priorities in perspective.
You are your child's model. Pick your battles carefully and set a good example. Are matching socks as big a deal as getting to school on time? Decide what's really important and what's not.
Always try to keep your sense of humour.
Remember, nobody's perfect!
For first time parents every stage of life for their children is a learning experience for everyone involved and some of those first time experiences can be stressful for both parent and child. The following information taken from Little Well Beings, A project of the Canadian Paediatric Society may ease the stress of some of those "firsts" for new parents.
Did you know...?
It's much more effective to tell children what they can do, rather than what they can't do. In a situation where you must say NO, be sure to also tell children what they can do.
The amount of daily care needed by babies and toddlers may make you wonder how you'll find time to do more than meet their basic needs. However, you can use daily routine to help very young children feel comfortable and secure.
How can daily routines help your baby feel secure?
Make bottle feeding a time to show you care.
Feeding is an ideal time for you and the baby to relate. The best way to bottle feed a baby is to sit comfortably with the baby in your arms, and look at the baby, face to face. Talk gently and soothingly.
Talk with the baby during diaper changes.
Diaper changes are a perfect opportunity to talk with the baby. By their second birthday, toddlers will have had 500 to 8000 diaper changes. At an average of three minutes each, babies will have spent 250 to 400 hours - that's 10 to 17 days - looking up at adults who are changing them.
During this time you can meet the baby's emotional needs by making eye contact, talking, singing, playing games, naming body parts and pieces of clothing.
Make nap time a comforting, secure time.
Nap times provide an opportunity to foster a sense of security in babies and toddlers. A consistent, predictable daily routine will help your child develop sleeping habits and allow them to feel settled.
Encouraging children to have a special bed companion, like a blanket or toy, will increase their sense of security and help them to relax and fall asleep.
Approximately 1 out of every 1000 babies dies of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS or "crib death") every year. Scientists don't know the cause or causes of SIDS. However, doctors advise that you put babies to bed on their backs or sides rather than on their tummies. The research suggests that this may lower the risk of SIDS death.
Using the term "learning" helps to focus on the active role that children play as they begin to use the toilet. Learning is something children participate in, while training is something that is done to them.
When are children ready?
Most children are ready to learn to use the toilet sometime between 18 and 30 months. The following signs indicate when the child is ready:
- When the child can stay dry or clean for several hours at a time.
- When the child is aware of wetting or having a bowel movement in their diaper.
- When the child is able to get to the toilet without help.
- When the child can pull down loose fitting pants.
- When the child knows the names of body parts.
- When the child can use signs or words to indicate needs.
Play is very important for babies and toddlers. Any simple experience can become an occasion for play: pulling on toes, sucking fingers or reaching for toys. Play is how children learn.
What do babies need for play?
- Lots of praise, encouragement and attention, both in words and hugs.
- Freedom to explore in a safe place.
- Things to hold, feel, and chew on.
Inexpensive, household items are fine. Just be sure to remove any small parts that could cause choking. You can try things like:
- Plastic cups and measuring spoons
- Containers with lids
- Large plastic spoons
- Plastic coloured bottles
- Cardboard boxes
- Silky scarves
Some believe that if you pick up babies every time they cry, the will learn to cry more as they get older. In reality babies cry because that's the only way they have to tell you that they need help or comfort. If you respond quickly to the cries of a baby who is less than 6 months old, the baby will be less likely to cry when he or she is 6 to 12 months old. Babies learn to love and trust, and feel secure when adults around them give them the love and attention they need.
Our children have the right to play and grow in a healthy, safe environment. Sometimes our children are exposed to aggression from others at school, at play, at camp or even on a team. It is important as parents that we help our children deal with any potential aggressive situations.
The following information has been taken from materials used in the YMCA of Hamilton/Burlington, Family and Children Services Bully Proofing program that was done in partnership with the Principal at Pineland Public School in Burlington.
The facts on "the bully":
- Bullying is a negative social relationship in which a bully persecutes a victim over a period of time, through physical or verbal aggression.
- Bullying pervades all communities, rich and poor, and affects high and low achieving children
- A bully is someone who needs to dominate others and in some cases craves cruelty
- bullies convince themselves that their victims deserve their abuse and thus suppress their feelings of empathy for them
- Some bullies grow up in homes where the parents encourage aggressive behaviour
- Bullies choose victims who display signs of insecurity, low self-esteem or weakness, either physical or mental
- Bullying is often tolerated with the hope that the problem will go away.
- Many bullies become criminals when they are older.
Tips on how to deal with "the bully":
- Two is company - don't go where bullies hang out. Travel with friends to and from your destination.
- Make like a banana and split - it's better to avoid a confrontation - by using your sneakers. Head for a crowded place or someone's house.
- Talk about it! Don't be afraid to take a minute and talk about the situation with someone you trust. Parents and friends can help figure out what happened, and why.
- Practise acting confident. Use your head, make a plan, and you can beat the bully at his or her own game.
- Learn to shrug off name-calling and taunts
- Anticipate humiliating situations and learn how to maintain dignity.
- Learn how to say no and mean it.
Who they become as adults is determined by what they experience today. So it's crucial those experiences be positive and nurturing. As a working parent choosing your child's child care may be one of the most important decisions you make. Here are some tips from the Ministry of Community and Social Services that will help you make the right choice for your child's care:
- Begin your search early and try to consider more than one centre
- Visit the centres you are considering, meet the staff, ask questions, and watch what is happening with children and staff together.
Before visiting child care centres, consider:
- How many hours of care will your child need?
- Does your child have any special needs?
- Where should the centre be located? Near home, work or school?
Making the First Contact
A telephone call may be your first contact with the child care centres on your list. When you call each centre ask to speak to the director or supervisor.
Make a list of questions before you start your telephone calls. Your questions may include:
- What are your hours?
- How many children are in a group?
- How many staff members care for each group?
- What training do the staff have?
- Are parents encouraged to drop in?
- What is the basic cost? Are there any additional charges? Is there a charge when children are sick or away on holiday? Is there an application fee?
- Is fee subsidy available?
- Do you have a waiting list?
If you are impressed with the way the director or supervisor answers your questions, ask for an appointment to visit the centre. It is important to be able to compare centres so compare at least 2 or more centres.
Paying a Visit
Your visit should give you an opportunity to talk to the staff and observe the children. Visit each centre on your list at approximately the same time of day. Make arrangements for your child to be cared for by another person since seeing a number of centres can be confusing to a young child. Plan to be at each centre for a least an hour. While there, spend your time:
- interviewing the director or supervisor
- observing the children and staff
- assessing the physical setting
- Following your visit, make notes and sum up your impression for future reference.
Making a confident choice
Following your visits compare your notes and think about the centres in relation to your family's needs and the quality of care you want for your child.
If you choose your child care centre carefully, basing your decision on what is important to you, you are bound to make the best choice.
The YMCA of Hamilton/Burlington/Brantford is the largest provider of quality licensed child care in the City of Burlington and the Region of Hamilton-Wentworth. Over 1,800 children are cared for every day by the YMCA, accounting for 38 percent of all licensed care in the region.
Over the past years researchers have come to believe that our children's future is for the most part determined in the first 3 years of life. This is very important news for new parents and parents with young children. We need to understand and be aware of what part as parents we play in helping our children develop into healthy, happy adults. The following information taken from "How does the brain get wired?", an article from the Get Set for Life National Awareness Campaign series, will help you understand how the wiring of the brain happens.
At birth, your baby's brain has almost all the brain cells, called neurons, she will ever have, but most of these neurons are not "connected". Developing a network of connections, called synapses, is essential in order to think, feel or move. That's because brain function depends on rapidly sending signals from one part of the brain to another along neural pathways.
Of course, some connections and pathways are "hard-wired" right from the beginning - controlling breathing, heartbeat, body temperature, reflexes and so on. But the rest are formed when your child relates to, and interacts with, her world and the people in it. When these connections are activated over and over again, they are strengthened and cannot be eliminated. This process is called wiring.
Experience (nurture) plays a much larger role in brain development than scientists used to think, but genetics (nature) is still important. Nature affects the kind of person we are when we first come into this world. Right from birth, some babies are more expressive, some are more timid, some are very physically active, and others seem to be content playing alone quietly. As parents, it is vital that we recognize and accept the basic temperament of our child. It will guide us as we nurture her and draw her into the world - meeting other adults and children, trying new tasks and coping with various experiences.
Have you ever heard a parent say, "This child has a mind of her own"? That expression is particularly meaningful when you know that your child takes an active role in her own wiring. How she responds to you and to various experiences is the active part she plays. How you respond to her affects how she responds to you and vice versa. For example, if you beam and coo at your child, your child will likely beam and coo at you. Similarly, if your infant cries a lot and you remain calm and soothing, in time this will help her learn to calm herself. On the other hand, if you react with frustration and anger, she will likely continue to be just as fretful, if not more so, and the "calming response circuit" will not be strengthened.
Also, when your child tries a task for the first time, if you encourage her and resist the impulse to simply show her what she could have done better, you are supporting her sense of competence and initiative. You play a vital role in the wiring process by giving your child the love, security and responsiveness that make her confident now and for the rest of her life.
Connections are made for both positive and negative experiences. Repeated positive experiences (when a child needs a hug and gets one, or when a child and caregiver have fun playing games together) make positive, healthy connections. Repeated negative experiences (being ignored or rejected when she needs to be comforted, or being made to feel like a failure when she doesn't succeed at a new task) make equally strong - but negative and emotionally unhealthy - connections. The child develops an inner picture of the world, either as a rewarding, secure place or as a punishing, dangerous one. This picture stays with her.
Three-quarters of human brain development comes after birth. This makes humans unique and far more affected by their world than any other living being. That is why the early years are so important; once the wiring is in, it's difficult to modify. The early years set the stage for the kind of social behaviour, emotional control and learning capacity a child will have. Because every child has a different genetic makeup, a different temperament and is exposed to different experiences, no two brains get wired the same way. Every child, thank goodness, is delightfully unique.
The wonders of wiring...
- Wiring for language starts long before your child utters his first word - circuits are formed as your baby listens to you speak. As he absorbs sounds, his brain maps a structure of the language, which is different for each language learned. The more words a child hears, the faster he learns language. But his is a social game: when you speak in a happy, lilting voice to your child and look right at him with a smile, you expect, and will likely get, some kind of response, perhaps a smile or a coo.
- Wiring for vision takes place in the first few months. Babies whose eyes are clouded by cataracts from birth will, despite cataract surgery at age two remain blind. An adult who has a cataract removed will regain vision because the circuits were already wired - an example of use it or lose it.
- One interesting theory on brain development suggest that exposure to structured, melodic music may help wire the pathways that promote spatial skills, reasoning ability and mathematics skills because the parts of the brain that control math and music are in the same area. We know that learning to play a musical instrument, like many other skills, is a lot easier when we are young (up to age 10) than when we start as adults.
- If you respond to your baby's delight and excitement about something he has done with your own delight and excitement, it strengthens the circuits for these emotions. If your response clashes with his - maybe you're indifferent or even irritated - his circuits are confused and fail to strengthen. His accomplishment and excitement make a connection, but your response is the other half of the equation, and it's needed to strengthen the "zap".
Listening is not a school subject like reading and writing however, it is just as important. The latest studies reveal that listening is a very large part of learning. It is estimated that between 50 and 75 percent of students' classroom time is spent listening to the teacher, to other students, or to audio media. So how can you as a parent model good listening skills? Follow these tips and you will be on your way to successful listening!
- Be interested and attentive
Children can tell whether or not they have a parent's interest and attention by the way the parent replies or does not reply. Forget about the telephone and other distraction. Maintain eye contact to show that you really are interested.
- Encourage talking
Some children need an invitation to start talking. You might begin with, "Tell me about your day at school." Children are more likely to share their ideas and feelings when others think they are important.
- Listen patiently
People think faster than they speak. With limited vocabulary and experience in talking, children often take longer than adults to find the right word. Listen as though you have plenty of time.
- Listen to nonverbal messages
Many messages children send are communicated nonverbally by their tone of voice, their facial expressions, their energy level, their posture, or changes in their behaviour patterns. Always pay attention to theses nonverbal messages.
Safe food storage and preparation is important for the overall health and well-being of your family and is of particular importance when there are infants and young children in your household. The following information taken from Little Well Beings, a project of the Canadian Paediatric Society will help you prevent any unnecessary illness due to unsafe storage or preparation of foods.
Safe Food Storage
How can I make sure my food is safely stored?
- Keep your refrigerator at or below 40 degrees F (4 degrees Celsius).
- Keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot until it is time to eat.
- When packing foods in lunches consider freezing drinking boxes to keep lunches properly refrigerated and avoid the use of mayonnaise in warm weather.
- Avoid serving baby food from jars. Baby food in opened jars can easily become contaminated. For this reason, make sure to take the food out of the jar and serve it in a dish. Then throw away what is left in the dish, so not leftovers go back in the baby food jar. Remember, to refrigerate opened jars of baby food.
Safe Food Preparation
Am I preparing my food safely?
To make sure you are preparing your food safely, complete the checklist below:
- I wash my hands before handling food, eating or serving others.
- I never change a diaper in the kitchen or eating area of my home.
- I don't let my children or their friends share the same container or glass.
- I wash all raw fruits and vegetables before I use them.
- I thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator or microwave rather than on the counter at room temperature.
- I put leftovers from the serving dishes in the fridge right after the meal, and I use them within three days.
- I never put milk or juice left in the children's glasses back into the container.
- I always wash spoons and other utensils before reusing.
- I cook food thoroughly. I cook chicken and hamburger until they are not longer pink, and I Make sure eggs are well cooked.
- I am especially careful with raw chicken. After cutting raw chicken, I was the cutting board and knives with soap and water before using them with other foods.
- I do not hold a child on my lap while I am drinking hot drinks or eating hot soup.
- I always turn my pot handles toward the back of the stove.
- When there are children in the house, I use the back burners whenever possible.
- I supervise my children when they're in the kitchen.
- I pay attention to "best before" dates on labels.
For more information about food safety, please contact your local Public Health Department.
It may be hard to believe that your five year old is ready to head off to Kindergarten this September and it's an exciting time for both parent and child as you prepare for another landmark point in your child's life. The following information taken from a YMCA of the USA publication will help you understand the stage of life your child is about enter into and help you prepare for the next big adventure.
Kindergartners are curious about the world around them and they want to explore everything in their physical environment. This age group is intrigued by words, letters, number, keyboards, and computer screens. They enjoy using their senses, hands, and minds.
Pursuing their environment is an active pastime and includes talking, listening, and playing, touching, tasting, smelling, cutting, pasting, measuring, constructing, typing, and questioning. Constant movement and short attention spans are the rule!
At this stage of life children are eager to please adults and want to please parents above all and that desire can easily transfer to a teacher. Enjoy...never again will a child be so willing to respond to your wishes.
Imitating others, especially adults, is common, thus adults including caregivers, teachers, and instructors all have a powerful responsibility.
Kindergarten age kids are concerned only with the present and may know about yesterday and tomorrow, but living their lives today is what is most important.
Kindergarten readiness checklist
By the time your child enters kindergarten they should be able to:
- Tell their name, address, and telephone number
- Tell their parents' names
- Know the way to and from school (or to the bus stop)
- Do simple jobs at home, like shutting the door, getting a cup, and putting toys away.
- Care for themselves in the bathroom without help.
- Wash their own face and hands.
- Take off and put on their shoes and boots by themselves (parents should look for easy to get into styles).
- Use buttons and zippers without help.
- Play reasonably well with children of the same age without excessive crying, fighting, or teasing.
- Make their wants known in short, easy sentences instead of whining or crying.
- Listen quietly while being read a short story or poem.
How to help your kindergartner at home
- Praise your child's every effort to speak well, read, and write.
- Read to your child every day if possible: classic kids' books, current favourites, poems, and rhymes.
- Relate to his interests: police, dinosaurs, trucks, etc.
- Get your child to retell stories he's heard.
- Make sure your child sees you reading and writing.
- Remember, kindergartners imitate the key adults in their lives.
- Give your child lots of books to look at on his own. Visit the library as much as you can.
- Encourage your child to draw pictures and talk about them.
- Let him label the pictures with his own words and letters, even if you can't recognize them.
- Encourage your child to listen to story tapes and music.
- Talk to your child often.
- Give your child frequent chances to express their opinion.
- Ask your child about school.
- Give your child directions that involved two or three steps and ask him to follow them: "Please go to the kitchen, open the cabinet, and bring me a bowl."
- Ask your child to point out colours, shapes, or letters that look the same.
- Encourage your child to print their name and other words they may know.
- Expect too much. Remember that children develop at different rates.
- Push an activity if your child gets frustrated or loses interest.
- Criticize your child. This is an age to build confidence, not work on perfection.
- Criticize your child's teacher to your child. Voice concerns to the teacher directly or to the principal. A child learns better when he feels good about his teacher.
This is a very exciting time in your child's development... enjoy.
Today's families are busier than ever. Everyone's got an agenda to follow, from baby on up. Despite the hectic pace, it's important for families to make an effort to have fun together. Happiness is an important life skill that doesn't just happen. It may sound funny, but you have to work at it. The following information taken from a YMCA of the USA publication may help with some ideas on how to put more fun into your family life!
The following ideas listed below are ways in which you can add fun to your family's life.
Make ordinary things fun
Happiness is a way of looking at life. Turn everyday experiences into lighthearted fun. Make up silly names for each other or change the words to songs as you drive somewhere. Play games while grocery shopping as you head up and down the aisles. Put on some music and dance around after dinner. Wash the car together and then turn it into a splash party.
Teach your child the magic of anticipation
Children learn from their parents how to look forward to things. Sit down and talk about upcoming events that are going to be fun. Activities don't have to be major. Just looking forward to a weekend together or a trip to the mall can be enough.
Get in the habit of savoring the moment
Learn to live in the present sometimes. Don't get bogged down with analyzing a situation or lecturing for the sake of teaching. Just take it all in with your senses - observe and enjoy.
Take plenty of strolls down memory lane
Talk about the good times you've had in the past and help build your child's memories. Take pictures and collect souvenirs. Kids love it when you tell them about themselves - when they were born, what their first words were, when they learned to walk, etc.
Encourage your child's playful side
Help your child develop a sense of humour. Teach him how to find joy in life and not to take it too seriously. Laugh at his jokes, then make up some of your own!
Be playful yourself
Children enjoy themselves most when they're around parents who are playful. They learned how to keep things in perspective when they see mom or dad act silly at times. If you don't take yourself too seriously, you'll be more human in your child's eyes.
Eleven fun ideas:
- Keep scrapbooks or photo albums on family activities.
- Keep a book of family quotations. Your children say some hilarious things you won't want to forget. Write them down in a bound book, and then read it together some time.
- Make the first Saturday of every month Weird Breakfast Day. Serve something unusual like pizza or Chinese food. On the flipside, give the kids scrambled eggs, waffles, or pancakes for dinner every now and then - they'll love it!
- Have squirt-gun free-for-alls in warm weather, pillow fights in cold weather.
- Hold a story night with older children in which everyone tells part of a story, making it as silly as possible.
- Rent silly movies, pop some popcorn, and sit around and laugh together.
- Jump into a pile of leaves.
- Get a box of coloured chalk and decorate the sidewalk together.
- Turn the music up, roll back the rugs, and dance!
- Do seasonal things, like picking apples in the fall or taking a trip to a lake in summer.
- Let the housework go for once. Get out of the house and play!
We've all experienced or witnessed the young child attached to mom or dad's leg holding on for dear life as the parent attempts to leave for work or a well-deserved night out. Is this behaviour normal? Are your feelings of guilt needed? What can you do differently to avoid the separation anxiety? The following information taken from "Well Beings" a project of the Canadian Paediatric Society will help you understand the separation process and assist you in dealing with your concerns.
In the first six months of life, infants require a security that comes from depending on an adult who is constantly available and always predictable. Between 6 and 12 months of age, infants learn to play with adults and to experiment with separateness.
By about the age of 2 years, most toddlers begin to seek out the company of children their own age, although they still like to be able to retreat to the safe closeness of a familiar adult.
Some children are, by nature, more outgoing than others and they progress more rapidly from solitary play to parallel play beside other children, and then to interactive play with others. Some children may take much longer to pass through these stages, needing to observe from the sidelines until they can trust others enough to venture among them. It is easy to see how separation from parents and familiar people can be more distressing for some children than others.
The desire to ensure the child receives a continuum of warm, loving care underlies the reluctance of many parents, physicians and child care experts to place very young children in large groups in the first 2 or 3 years of life. Yet, for many Canadian families, out-of-home child care is necessary before the child is 2 or 3 years old. In the interests of both the infant and the infant's family, caregivers must do their utmost to ensure these infants receive nurturing and the highest quality of care. Parents need to be reassured that separation reactions are not usually harmful in the long run.
In fact, parents often have more trouble with separation than children.
Children about the age of 3 years are generally at a stage of social development where they have moved from solitary or parallel play toward interaction with other children. Therefore, some paediatricians specializing in child development feel this is a particularly good age to begin child care. This is not to say that infants and toddlers under 3 years of age cannot be well cared for in high quality child care programs; it simply underlines the importance of infants receiving increased attention from individual or primary caregivers.
Children's Separation Feelings
It is important for your selected babysitter or caregiver to understand separation feelings in both the children and their parents. The degree of distress usually depends on the age of the child, as well as the way the parents and new caregiver respond. Most infants begin to show separation anxiety by 8 months of age, but this can vary with temperament and previous experience.
There are normal developmental reasons why children cling to parents and cry when they leave. For example, the 8-month-old infant recognizes strangers and remembers parents after they leave, but does not yet fully understand that the parents will return later.
Your selected caregiver can provide your child with opportunities to express, accept, and respond to separation anxieties. With caring and respectful support, there is good reason to expect that children will continue to handle separation events well throughout their lives.
The YMCA of Hamilton/Burlington is the largest provider of quality licensed child care in the region of Hamilton/Wentworth and Burlington. For further information on available opportunities for your preschool or school age child contact the YMCA.
As kids move into preteen and teen years, they start to explore bigger chunks of the "real world". That discovery process is filled with choices and hopefully you have helped prepare your teen to make the right ones. Be prepared for mistakes to happen and then be there to pick up the pieces. Teens need to know they can rely on you for support and, most of all, a listening ear. The following tips taken from a YMCA of the USA publication may help parents with preteen/teenagers.
If you try to convince your son or daughter that you've never made mistakes, you're not going to connect. Sometimes things can get sticky when you're admitting you've made the same or similar mistakes - especially if they relate to sexuality or experiments with drugs. But when you admit to not being perfect, more often than not, you'll gain your teen's respect and friendship.
Be firm but flexible.
Be willing to say no. Teens often look to parents to say no to get them off the hook. Your teen may not want to go along with her friends at times, but dealing with peer pressure is too tough. If she asks for permission and you say no, she can go back and blame it on you. Their ego is saved.
But be prepared to bend the rules at times. When your teen wants to change plans, hear them out: Why do they want to make the change? If you can understand the importance and it doesn't take anything away from you or her, bend a little now and then.
Hear them out, then decide.
Don't make snap judgments and think before you act. The long and short-range consequences of any action need to be taken into account. But remember, this is a very sensitive age. Your teen is not likely to forgive and forget if you bowl them over.
Forgive, forget, and trust.
Not everything can be forgotten. But you don't have to dwell on the past by nursing hurts and grudges. Trust and forgiveness go hand and hand and both need to be renewed again and again.
How do you regain trust in your teen after a mistake has been made? First of all, avoid comments like, "You'll need to earn my trust again," because the only message you send is distrust. How can your teenager prove she is worthy of your trust if you've already made up your mind to distrust her?
Resolve the issues, state the consequences, and move on. Trust should not become the issue. The focus should be on the behaviour. Deal with each problem on its own and find ways to resolve it.
Be willing to do the right thing.
That includes the tough times, when drugs, sex, and hanging out with the wrong crowd are involved. Make an effort to know your teen's friends. Know faces and personalities, not just voices on the phone or faces in a car. Teens in serious trouble may require strong intervention. Don't be afraid to take the measures you need to feel confident about your teen's safety and self-esteem.
Take teens seriously.
Show them the same respect you require form them. Respect their privacy, their opinions, and their feelings. It's a big deal to your teen.
Expect responsible behaviour, then back off.
Learning how to let go is one of the toughest issues parents face. Try to use guidance, not force. Threatening or nagging doesn't work. You've got to allow your teen to make some choices and be ready to help lift them up when they make a bad choice.
Use words that say you're still involved, such as, "I realize it was your choice, but I want you to know I wasn't happy with it." Explain why. She may not agree, but if you approach her as if you think she is responsible and accountable, you'll go a long way in preparing your teen for future decisions.
Be there for your teen
On the outside, your teen may act as if she's embarrassed to be seen with you. But they still need your love and support very much. Be there for your teen in whatever way you can. Go to your teen's games, recitals, and school events. Even invite your teen on outings. They may be more willing to go than you realize, especially if a special friend can be invited to come along.
It's okay to worry a little bit
Parenting is the only career that's left strictly to amateurs.
As parents we need to give some thought to how television viewing impacts our children over the long term and make some educated decisions on what our children are exposed to via the television. The following information taken from "Well Beings", a project of the Canadian Paediatric Society may give you somewhere to start when making some family decisions on television viewing.
The following seven suggestions may help parents eliminate mindless viewing and ensure that your children take advantage of one of the most powerful informational and entertainment tools at their disposal - the television.
1. Supervise TV Viewing
Young children do not have the experience necessary to make judgements about TV. It is up to parents therefore, to decide what and when children can watch. Parents can search out good programs for family viewing and provide their children with clearly stated reasons for their choices. Older children should always have a good and specific reason for viewing what they are viewing. If they have no good idea, it is probably best to turn the TV off.
2. Watch with your children
A good rule is to have one parent share at least half of a child's viewing time. Watching TV with your children allows you to counterbalance TV's negative effects and extend its positive ones.
3. Talk About What You See
Parents can ask questions, reinforce new ideas, explain difficult topics or issues, help young children separate fact from fantasy, and encourage all children, regardless of age, to reflect on what they see.
As well, they can soften the negative effects of TV violence by disagreeing with or questioning aloud what is represented on the screen. Talking about TV makes children think about TV as something more than a time-filler and helps them develop a critical approach to what they view on TV.
4. Expand the Experience
Turning at least one good program a week into an expanded learning experience for your children can do this. Parents can follow up with a related activity - a trip to the library or museum, an art activity, or a writing exercise, such as scripting the further adventures of a story's main character. Whatever parents choose, it should be stimulating, interesting, and most of all, fun.
5. Provide your children with other options
Television should be considered as just one activity among many. Parents can also read aloud to young children, encourage play, take them to new places, and introduce them to people of many kinds. Older children can be encouraged to read, visit friends, or get involved in artistic, sports and community activities.
6. Be a Good Role Model
It is important for parents to set high viewing behaviour that they expect of their children. At the same time, parents need to be enthusiastic about other activities in their life - this enthusiasm will be contagious to a young child.
7. Become more "Television Literate"
Parents can learn more about the power of TV so that they will be better able to explain the medium to their children.
Like all aspects of good parenting, developing good television-viewing habits in children takes time and effort. But the effort is worth it: once selective and engaged viewing begins to take place, the problems associated with TV viewing will be eliminated and its promises and potential realized.