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Back to School: 12 Things Parents, Kids Should Do Before Summer Ends

POSTED ON July 14th, 2015  - POSTED IN Uncategorized

Orig. Post August 1, 2014 by Carmen Chai, Global News | Re-Post July 14, 2015

activeFor your kids, July may have been jam-packed with ice cream cones, pool parties and trips to the zoo. The dog days of summer are winding down and soon, they’ll be swapping their swimming suits for pencils, binders and books.

To mark the final month before school starts, Global News asked a handful of researchers and experts to share their favourite ways for families to spend the month.

Here are their 12 suggestions on what parents should encourage their kids to do before summer ends.

Spend time in nature:  This was, by far, the most popular piece of advice doled out by the half-dozen experts we asked. “Just looking at a natural scene activates parts of the brain associated with stress relief and happiness,” Dr. Shimi Kang, a Vancouver-based psychiatrist and parenting author, told Global News.

Kang refers to a 2010 study: being in nature increases your sense of vitality, positivity and energy, the study found. Being outdoors also encourages kids to climb, jump, run and tumble, promoting muscle fitness and flexibility.

Parenting author Ann Douglas recommends heading to a conservation area, a friend’s cottage or even the neighbourhood park. It’ll help your kids – and you — relax and unwind.

Spend a night under the stars: Camping is expensive, and not all families can afford bikes or enjoy the outdoors. Instead, grab a picnic blanket and, at night, sit under the dark sky to look at the stars.

“Everyone needs that moment of awe when we see the grandeur of the universe – our place in it – the miracle of it all,” parenting author Alyson Schafer told Global News.

Download an app on your phone and document Big Dipper, the Milky Way and learn some summer constellations.

Share a book that you loved as a child: If you had a favourite you couldn’t put down as a kid, grab a copy and give it to your kids, Douglas said. Read it together and talk about why you’ve always loved this book.

“You’ll be helping your child to develop a love of reading and you’ll be creating – or continuing – a tradition in which much-loved stories are passed from one person to another in your family,” she said.

Douglas recalls her grandma reading to her in the summer when she was just nine years old. She had eye surgery and couldn’t read on her own so her grandma made it a priority to head over a few times each week as she recovered.

Take a break from technology…: That could mean a day at the beach, going for a hike, or taking a bike ride, according to Dr. Nicole Letourneau, a University of Calgary professor.

Instead of checking your work emails in their company or handing them iPads, break out the board games, play with a Frisbee or try some water sports.

“Just be together, be curious about your kids. What interests them and why? Ask them and listen to their answers intently. They will feel valued and valuable,” Letourneau said. She’s an author and current Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation research chair in parent-infant mental health.

…but embrace technology with your kids for an afternoon: While it may sound contradictory, Letourneau’s next tip was to take time with your kids while they play with their Nintendo DS, smart phone or iPad.

Play the game they’re playing. Even feel free to struggle with the game and ask them for help – Letourneau says that’s a huge confidence booster, to boot.

Then get to know their social media habits more: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, certain apps or games. “Listening shows that you value their perspective,” Letourneau said.

Visit family out of town: Not only does this offer your kids a change of scenery for a day or even a weekend, but it lets your kids know just how wide their network of loved ones is.

“Children thrive when they know that a lot of different people care about them,” Douglas said.

One of her most coveted childhood memories is getting together with aunts, uncles and cousins for family birthdays. “It gave me a strong sense of family and feeling safe and loved.”

It also shows your kids the idea of family. Going out of your way to make time for your relatives is a lesson that’ll stick with them for a lifetime, Letourneau says.

“Even families that struggle to get together can show kids the importance of trying under difficult circumstances,” Letourneau said.

(And if they aren’t out of town, make sure your kids are visiting relatives anyway. It’s a great opportunity for positive role models doling out the guidance, mentoring and interaction with people from different age groups, Kang said. “Summer is a time for kids to break out of these confines and spend time with [people] who may not be part of their routine academic life.”)

Earn some cash: Your kids can take to helping your neighbours with gardening, cutting the grass or showcasing their entrepreneurial skills by opening a lemonade stand.

Kang’s kids opened a lemonade stand and earned $2 on their first day. The second time around, they rethought their business strategy – the stand was named, added eye-catching artwork and moved to the corner of the street.

With those tweaks, they were bringing in $40 a day. “Summer is a great time for kids to practice their early business and finance skills,” Kang said.

Be a kid: Between summer camp, slumber parties and other activities, your kids could need a break. Let them take the reins for a day.

“Too many parents try to fill up every moment of every day for their kids, so sometimes it’s important for parents to back off a bit and let the kids do what they want or make up their own plans – even if it’s nothing at all,” according to Dr. Oren Amitay, a registered psychologist and Ryerson University instructor.

If they want to run through the sprinklers, build a fort or break out the arts and crafts, let them. Keep in mind, summer is a time for the kids to rest and recharge their batteries.

Get some culture: Sure, your kids go on field trips during the school year but spend a day at the museum, the art gallery or even watching some classic movies.

If you’ve moved to a new province, get to know the ethnic make-up and try local cuisines, Amitay suggests.

“Depending on the cultural make-up of the school the child is going to, maybe the parents could take their child to a cultural centre or some other type of place where the child can learn more about some of the people at school,” Amitay said.

Get the schedule back on track: Your kids may have blown their curfews, ate cake for breakfast or spent the day in their pajamas. That won’t fly come September.

Dr. Linda Pagani, a psychologist at St. Justine Hospital in Montreal, suggests that in the final week before school, families can coordinate their schedules.

There’s breakfast, lunch and dinner, or your kids may need a ride to school or soccer practice. Sleep schedules may also need a reboot, she said.

Scope out the new school: If your kids are starting kindergarten, graduating into junior high or starting high school, parents can try to make a fun day of checking out their new surroundings, Amitay suggests.

You may not be able to explore the indoors, but scope out the neighbourhood so your kids gain some familiarity going into their first day. Then head out for lunch or dinner and get a pulse on how your child is feeling.

“If the child has any anxiety about this transition, they can ease it a bit through getting to see the place and having fun before, during and afterward,” Amitay said.

Plan for the fall: It’s hard to give up the summertime, but Schafer suggests that taking the final days of the season to help your kids adjust with the transition ahead.

“Think about the fall and take the pressure off the back-to-school chores,” she suggested. Now’s a good time to start picking out new clothes, loading up on school supplies and grabbing a new backpack or combination lock.

If you have teens, use this holiday time to set the guidelines on a clothing allowance and start shopping early, Schafer suggests. It’ll change the experience from a “pressure point to a pleasurable bonding experience.”

Tips to Keep Kids and Teens Safe this Fourth of July

POSTED ON June 26th, 2015  - POSTED IN Uncategorized

Orig. Post June 27, 2013 by Megan Rucker, Seattle Children’s Hospital Research Foundation | Re-Post June 26, 2015

Fireworks-safety-300x225The Fourth of July is a time for fun and celebration; however, families should follow precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable occasion. Not only do parents need to worry about firework safety, but families should also keep in mind alcohol and sun safety, too.

Dr. Tony Woodward, medical director of emergency medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital, recommends some basic safety tips to keep your kids out of the emergency department this year.

Stay safe around fireworks

First and foremost: The main event on July Fourth is fireworks. Even though they are fun and exciting, they can be dangerous if precautions aren’t taken around kids. The best way to avoid injury is to leave the pyrotechnics to the professionals and attend public fireworks displays. But if you plan to use fireworks at home, Woodward has some suggestions to keep your kids safe.

Children should never be allowed to use fireworks, including the popular sparklers. Woodward says the majority of firework-related injuries to children under the age of 5 are caused by sparklers. “We often see kids with preventable burns and injuries from sparklers,” he says. Sparklers burn at a very high temperature, up to 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hot enough to cause third-degree burns.

Those that are setting off the fireworks should also be sure to wear eye protection. Another important tip is to only light fireworks on level ground. “At least 50 percent of kids that we see are not the people who are setting off the fireworks, but the bystanders,” Woodward says. Anticipate the consequences and provide adequate supervision to minimize any chance of injury. Never re-light a firework that has not exploded. If the firework appears to be a dud, be sure to pour water on it before picking it up.

If a child is injured by fireworks, Woodward says, “Remove them from the area and stop the burning. If it is serious, you are unsure or it involves the face, eyes or hands, the child should be seen by a medical professional.”

Avoid heat illness

Don’t forget that July can have particularly hot weather, says Woodward. During a long day in the sun, he recommends that parents be on the lookout for symptoms of heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Kids can become very ill if proper safety measures are not taken. Woodward recommends that parents make sure kids drink plenty of fluids and wear lightweight, loose clothing. Stay indoors during the hottest part of the day, usually the afternoon.

If your child is experiencing heat cramps, be aware that they can be painful, says Woodward. Stop activity, take a break and encourage your child to drink small amounts of water. In serious cases, heat cramps can lead to heat exhaustion, with symptoms such as pale skin, headache, dizziness, exhaustion and nausea.

The third and most dangerous stage of heat illness is heat stroke. Parents should be alert to symptoms such as vomiting, decreased alertness or loss of consciousness, extremely high body temperature, rapid or weak pulse, and shallow breathing. Heat stroke can be life threatening, so be prepared to call 9-1-1 if symptoms worsen.

Talk to your teen about drunk driving dangers

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Fourth of July is one of the deadliest holidays of the year. Many teens find themselves in dangerous driving situations during July Fourth celebrations, especially when alcohol is involved.

Research has shown that nearly 80% of high school kids have tried alcohol. In a Teenology 101 blog post, Dr. Yolanda Evans, with Seattle Children’s adolescent medicine division, offers tips for parents of teens to help keep them safe during summer celebrations. Evans recommends parents keep an open line of communication with their teens, as well as the parents of their teens’ friends. She also encourages a “free phone call” policy so teens know they can call any time of night if they need a ride home. Visit Teenology 101 for more tips on talking to teens about alcohol and drugs.

 

10 Ways To Be A Role Model To Your Children

POSTED ON June 17th, 2015  - POSTED IN Uncategorized

Orig. Post by All Pro Dad | Re-Post June 17, 2015

12075-dad-son-talk-teen.1200w.tnFormer Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich is the fourth out of the state’s past eight governors to be indicted on corruption charges. It’s not a legacy Abraham Lincoln would have wanted his state to have. But the problem is bigger than modern-day Illinois politicians. It seems that character is in short-supply all over America. Whether it’s athletes, politicians, actors, businessmen, coaches or even clergy, it seems our kids have slim pickings when it comes to role models.

But there’s good news. The most powerful role model for children sits across from them at the dinner table. It’s you. Here are 10 ways to be a role model to your children:

1. Healthy Living

When we eat properly and exercise regularly, not only does it improve our own lives, but it sets the example for our children as well. Childhood obesity has become an epidemic in American society, which can lead to depression and disease. This is not to say a parent needs to go overboard, but every reputable expert will always tell you that moderation is the key in diet as well as exercise. Keep yourself inside the healthy range for where you are in life.

2. Self-Improvement

Apply whatever cliché you choose here, but you certainly can teach old dogs new tricks. Self-improvement should be on our minds continuously. Our children are always watching. When they see you not watching TV but reading a book instead, they notice. Try new experiences and broaden your horizons. This teaches our children to never stop growing as a human being. Something new is to be learned each day.

3. Serving/Volunteering

Make it a regular habit to get out in your community with your family and volunteer your time and talents. This is one of the best ways to build family unity, teamwork skills, and most of all, generous and serving hearts. The opportunities to do so are endless and the rewards are rich.

4. Open Up Your Life

Do not hide who you are as a person to your children. If you are living correctly, you should have nothing to be ashamed of. Take your children to work some days and let them see Dad in his own world. Let them see how you interact with other adults and how you carry yourself in the world. Status doesn’t mean a thing, but your attitude and your demeanor mean the whole world when it concerns what your children are learning from you about how to live life.

5. Self-Control

We are men and all of us have tempers. Releasing our emotions, whatever they may be, is healthy and reduces stress. How we go about doing that in front of our children, however, has major consequences. When they see Dad slam his fist down or curse loudly, it sinks into their psyche in a variety of ways—none of them good. As difficult as it can be, it is essential to practice self-control at all times in front of our children. Bite your tongue and control that temper. If need be, take it out in the gym or go for a long run. Your author here prefers playing drums. They can be very therapeutic in this regard.

6. Relationship Harmony

This is another very difficult aspect of being a role model. We have many important relationships and not all of them are going to be pleasant. Maybe there are issues with your parents, step-parents, brothers, sisters, or ex-wife. As noted, our children are always watching and how they see you behave in these situations sinks in. Also, how you treat your wife or significant other will also define how they act later as adults. Strive to find harmony in your personal relationships no matter how difficult it may be.

7. Respect and Listening

If you want to teach your kids how to be confident, it starts with showing them respect for who they are and listening to their own unique thoughts. This is a tough aspect to leadership, but the very best leaders are the ones who listen carefully and talk far less. Open your mind and your ears and listen to what your children are telling you. They will in turn learn to do the same later in life.

8. Positive Attitude

There is plenty of negativity to be found in society today. Do not add to the daily deluge your child receives. Instead, display a positive and reassuring attitude and pass that on to them as well. They need to be able to look at you and feel that everything is going to be ok, and it is. A positive spirit will always emerge triumphant.

9. Goal Setting

Setting goals are important to give us a benchmark of where we are going and the progress we are making. Implementing and achieving those goals are of equal importance. When our kids see us moving along exactly according to plan it shows them the importance of organization and self-discipline in their daily life. Help them come up with their own set of goals and praise them when the goals are met.

10. Walk The Talk

The single most important aspect of being your children’s role model is to always say what you mean and mean what you say. Walk the talk. Back up your words with visible and concrete action and be a man of integrity and value. Actions speak volumes. “Well done is better than well said.” – Benjamin Franklin

Summer Planning for Tweens and Teens

POSTED ON June 4th, 2015  - POSTED IN Uncategorized
Too old for camp. Too young to get a job. What to do? If you start early and know where to look, there’s plenty out there to keep older kids happy and busy during summer break.

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It’s a parent’s summertime nightmare. While you’re at work all day, your tween or teen is at home. Alone. With nothing to do. So what does she do? She turns your house into party central.

This nightmare is exactly what happened to psychologist John Duffy’s clients, a family in a well-heeled Chicago suburb. “Every day when the parents went to work, their two teenagers invited all their friends over and had drinking parties,” Duffy says. “Some days there were as many as 100 kids at the house.” The couple didn’t learn about the parties until halfway through the summer, when another parent alerted them.

For kids, there’s nothing more delicious than summer vacation: two-plus months free from school. But for parents of older kids, the summer months can be fraught with very real hazards: from drugs and alcohol to ill-advised risk-taking to auto accidents. (Most deadly car crashes involving teens age 13 to 19 occur between Memorial Day and Labor Day, according to the American Automobile Association).

Other summer perils are less dangerous, but alarming just the same: the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) reports that kids lose significant ground academically when they’re not engaged in summertime educational activities. NSLA also found that kids gain weight two to three times faster during the summer months, likely because of inactivity and poor food choices.

For younger kids there’s camp. But for millions of tweens and teens? They exist in a summertime no-man’s-land: too old for lanyards and too young to get a job. Even for older teens, the job market is bleak. “In many cases, camp counseling jobs and other jobs traditionally held by teens are being filled by college students and recent college graduates,” says Gabriel Hanzel-Sello, a counselor atEnterprise for High School Students, a San Francisco nonprofit that helps teens learn job skills and find employment.

So how is an idle teen supposed to pass those summer months? If you’re lucky, he can visit grandma for a week or two. Maybe you’ll take a family vacation. And sure, a couple of weeks of unstructured downtime is welcome after the pressures of a long school year. But that still leaves weeks, and more weeks, to fill. The best innoculation against summertime shenanigans? Duffy advises: keep them busy! Plus, by finding inspired activities, your child will develop invaluable skills for high school, college, and beyond.

Happily, summer opportunities for tweens and teens are out there. The trick to homing in on the right ones is to get started early. Registration for most summer jobs and internships starts sooner than you might think — as early as January and February. Kate Shatzkin of NSLA suggests asking your child’s teacher for ideas during the spring parent-teacher conference. “The teacher can talk about areas your child needs to work on, and skills essential for the next grade,” she says. “She can also tell you which subjects make your child come alive in class — because she has a perspective on your child’s interests that you don’t have — as well as ideas for classes and other resources to encourage those interests.”

Read full article at Great Kids!

 

High School Graduation Goes Better Without Alcohol

POSTED ON June 1st, 2015  - POSTED IN Alcohol Awareness

Orig. Post June 10, 2014 by The Boston Globe | Re-Post June 1, 2015

Alcohol_2_2For many parents, high school graduation ceremonies bring a mix of joy and trepidation. It’s thrilling to watch a new graduate stride across the stage toward a distant future. But what of the immediate hours and days after commencement when grads gather to celebrate their accomplishments and let off steam? Invariably, some of those celebrations will take a terrible turn linked to underage drinking.

One healthy trend is the community-sponsored, alcohol-free party that typically lasts throughout the night. Good food, top DJs, dancing, games, and karaoke are often sufficient to keep recent graduates entertained until 5 a.m. As a rule, parents of the junior class serve as chaperones so as not to cramp the style of the graduating seniors. And to minimize contraband, any celebrant who leaves during the course of the night is not allowed to return.

Even without such options, parents can employ simple strategies to keep their children safe during graduation week. The best is a straightforward conversation about what to do if sons or daughters find themselves in risky situations. The standing offer of a no-questions-asked ride home from a parent or older sibling is an especially powerful tool because it reflects reality. According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey, 39 percent of underage students drank some alcohol during a 30-day period and almost a quarter rode with a driver who had been drinking. Keeping a teen out of a car with an impaired driver is the first priority. Everything else can be discussed later.

There is a widespread assumption that teenagers listen first to their popular peers in an effort to fit in and only afterwards to their parents, if at all. It’s really not the case. Parents underestimate the influence they have over their children. Teens are smart enough to know that underage drinking leads to legal problems, unplanned sexual activity, fighting, alcohol-related crashes, and alcohol poisoning. They are capable of hearing and heeding these warnings from parents, especially if communicated in a calm, non-hectoring manner.

Some parents offer their own homes for private graduation parties. It’s a generous impulse. But it also can be a dangerous one if it includes looking the other way where underage drinking is concerned. The CDC attributes more than 4,300 deaths and 189,000 emergency room visits annually to underage drinking. Adult hosts can be held criminally and civilly liable for knowingly allowing people under 21 to drink alcohol in their homes. And the social host law extends to parents who are not at home when the drinking takes place.

This is the season of celebration for high school seniors. But it’s also a season of risks related to underage drinking. And the first step on the path to adulthood is fully understanding and preparing for those risks.

Memorial Day Letter

POSTED ON May 19th, 2015  - POSTED IN Uncategorized

Memorial_Day_ImageWith Memorial Day weekend approaching, everyone here at Sports World.org would like to wish you a safe and relaxing three-day weekend. We know this weekend can be full of excitement, especially here in Indianapolis with the Indianapolis 500 going on. We want to encourage you to make positive choices as you celebrate.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration, on an average day, 519 underage drinkers (under 21) will need treatment in an emergency room after drinking too much – on Memorial Day weekend, this number climbs by 11%, up to 577 emergency room visits per day. This increase in underage drinking may stem from two sources. First, alcohol consumption for adults increases during the holiday weekend which means more accessibility for minors. Secondly, parents and adults may be a little more lax with the rules when it comes to allowing a minor to drink while grilling out or partying with friends and family.

Please help our youth to make positive choices by making positive choices yourself. Our youth are looking for role models and looking at the adults in their lives to fill that role. By demonstrating good decision making, you will help students understand that they can live a life of positive choices. Last year, 31,000 youth made a commitment to be alcohol free after hearing one of our Pro Speakers. We strive to be role models to the youth, but need the participation from all adults if we want to see underage drinking significantly reduced.

Once again, we would like to wish you a fantastic and safe holiday weekend. Don’t forget to take a moment to remember the service men and women who died serving our country.