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While I was preparing for my upcoming parenting course I started wondering why some parents don’t take advantage of such opportunities.

Busy familyThen I remembered, so well, my struggle with my inner critic before I updated from my simple cell phone to an expensive smartphone, that required a more expensive “data plan”. I didn’t even know what a “data plan” was! I questioned myself endlessly, as I tend to do over expensive purchases. “Do I really need it? Is it worth the expense? And yes, I even answered myself! “I’ve gotten along just fine without it.” “Other people seem to be doing fine without these gadgets.” “It will take too much time to learn about it.” Truthfully, I even felt shame that I knew nothing about smartphones. I felt embarrassed and stupid that I didn’t even know what questions to ask.

When I finally decided to ‘just go for it’—to find out about these smartphones—I remember so well my sense of awe when the salesperson, Stephen, wisely and patiently took his time to show me all the features of what became my first smart phone. A couple of times I even exclaimed, “Wow!” Compared to my boring cell phone this smart phone was definitely SMART—and could make me smarter! These days successful, effective business leaders know that updating is a smart move.

So what does this have to do with parents not taking advantage of parent education opportunities? Well, I wonder if some of the reasons why parents don’t attend parenting workshops are the same reasons why I was reluctant to get a smart phone. I have heard parents say, “Parents should know what to do. It’s just common sense.” “It’s only parents in trouble who need parent education” or “I don’t have time.”

Yet, many of my clients know that keeping updated on the latest information about how to help children grow up to be happy and resilient is a smart move.

For instance, our parents could only have dreamed of the tools available to parents today — tools like learning the skills to become your child’s emotional coach, tools for discipline that promote a child’s self-discipline and self-motivation, strategies for dealing with tantrums effectively. Just learning this one thing—how not to be a “helicopter parent”— whose kids grow up to feel “entitled” or feel too scared to grow up and go out into the real world of work—could prevent a lot of future suffering.

Both parents and children have less stress and enjoy their life together so much more when parents learn such skills.

Just like the smart phone helps us cope with the digital age and the fast pace of our lives,  research-based parent education can help you to prevent your child from going down the slippery slope of internet addiction, a growing, serious problem with youth today. (This is just one of the parenting problems parents, in the past, didn’t have  to worry about.)

Being updated on the latest information on helping children grow up to be happy and resilient is a smart move. For example, some styles of parenting are outdated and make parenting harder. The authoritarian style and the permissive style—or as Barb Coloroso, author of “Kids Are Worth It” called them, the Brick Wall and Jellyfish models of parenting—are outdated and costly to you and your child. You can still use them but they are ineffective and time-wasting, producing poor results. They are as outdated as the typwriter! As with a smart phone, there are more options and more applications in parenting to make your job effective, enjoyable and efficient.

To carry this analogy just a little further, there is so much to learn about raising kids. As I have often said, “Parenting is all learned, not inherited.” The bad news is that learning on the job is inefficient and outdated. The good news is that you can learn how to talk so kids will listen (Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlich), and how to be respected and connected to your children even when you set limits. And you will smile, knowing that not much else in the world really matters more than raising children who believe in themselves and have the gifts of self-respect, inner strength, and a strong moral compass that will guide them throughout their life—even through the hazards of adolescence.

Stephen Covey once commented “There is so much good we that we can do in the world and it all starts in the home.”

 


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Getting Kids’ Sleep Schedule Ready for School

Back to School

Back to School

Summer has its own pace, but school in September demands more routine. It will be easier for both parents and kids to ease into their new school year bedtimes and wake-up times if parents start, two weeks before school begins, to implement a plan.

  1. Start making both wake- up time and bedtimes earlier. Gradually move these times earlier, in small increments, (about 15 minutes every other day, time permitting) as the start of school approaches.
  2.  Plan to do activities earlier in the morning. I encourage outdoor activities as much as possible. It doesn’t help kids to be cooped up inside, and couch time watching screens doesn’t promote good sleep either.
  3. A parent’s mood is contagious. Be calm and cheerful. Avoid interruptions such as answering your phone. This is a valuable time to connect with your children.

Preparation for sleep:

  • The bedroom needs to be dark, quiet and comfortable.
  • Eliminate screen time before bedtime. TV and computers are too stimulating right before bed. Even light from a sleeping computer can make sleeping difficult.
  • Avoid exercising or doing anything too thought-provoking.
  • Limit any caffeine intake in the afternoons and have a healthy diet because quality meals set the stage for successful sleep.
  • Do something quiet, like reading. This sends a signal to the brain that it is time to wind down.

Be prepared to listen to your child’s concerns. When children have an opportunity to voice their concerns they are able to sleep better.

Don’t talk about going back to school too much, especially if your child tends to be anxious.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, more than 60% of U.S children ages 5 to 17 feel tired at some point during the day and 1in 4 feel tired most of the time.
Sleep deprivation diminishes mental performance. Lack of sleep causes temporary loss of I.Q. points (National Institute of Health).

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The National Sleep Foundation suggests the following guidelines for children:

6- to 9-year-olds need about 10 hours of sleep a night.
10- to 12-year-olds need a little over nine hours each night.

Teenagers should aim for eight to nine hours per night.


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Parent Alert: The Choking Game

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Stay connected to your teenagers.

When Amanda Bryant of Alberta found her nine year-old-son, Kalib, in his bedroom with a belt around his neck eleven days before Christmas, it changed her life and the lives of her family forever. Kalib’s death was initially ruled a suicide. Amanda found it hard to believe that her outgoing, happy child would commit suicide. She began a search for answers

That search led her to another mother whose son had died in an eerily similar way. In California, Sarah Pacatte’s 13-year-old son Gabriel was found by his twin, Samuel on May 6, 2005.

“I saw Gabe with the rope around his neck and a math book on his lap. He was just sitting on the ground. And so I thought he was just joking and so I said Gabe, knock it off, or like quit messing around…I looked over at him and he hadn’t moved. I said his name a couple of times.”

Gabriel was rushed to hospital where he died 15 hours later. He had died playing “the choking game”. Sam remembers playing the game with his brother.                        www.cbc.ca/fifth/chokinggame/

The choking game is voluntary suffocation, to the point of unconsciousness, for the purpose of obtaining a ‘rush’ or light-headed sensation. Pressure is used to cut off the blood and oxygen supply to the brain. When the choking pressure is released, blood rushes back into the brain causing a euphoric rush, a momentary physical thrill.

Initially one kid will do it for another, sometimes at a party, and then the kid will seek the sensation again, alone.

Many names are used for this game such as Pass Out, Gasp, Space monkey, Hyperventilating, the Elevator Game, the Funky Chicken, and the American Dream Game.

 “At this point, there is a need for public education,” says Angela Boak, Research Coordinator and Analyst at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. After studying this phenomenon, she believes “parents, physicians and educators should be aware of this game.”

-cited byTawnya Pancharavski, AboutKidsHealth

This is an alert to all parents. Many parents don’t even know the choking game exists and many didn’t suspect their child was doing it until it was too late.

The kids think the choking game is challenging,and  thrilling — without realizing it is dangerous and can be deadly. Typically, they are 9 – 16 years old and are well behaved, good kids. It’s done at school and it’s done at home. Did you know that they can get specific directions on the internet? They do it for fun, to see if they can succeed at it, and to get a high. This behaviour can be addicting.

Every time someone plays this game, their brain cells die. Anytime the brain is deprived of blood and/or oxygen, cells begin to die. Brain cells cannot regenerate. Those brain cells are dead forever. Death of brain cells is actually the least serious effect of this “game”. Broken bones and fractured skulls from falling, blindness, and coma are a few of the consequences. Worse still, unfortunately, some kids who do the choking game have one thing in common – death.

Studies show that 45% of kids knew someone who tried it. 40% of kids perceived no risk. They think it’s just like fainting. They are wrong. It will kill as long as our kids are uneducated — and consider this a game.

Prevention:

Parents need to be alert and vigilant, to be educated about the risks of the choking game,  and to talk to their kids about it. This is an opportunity for closeness and teaching. Just as you talk to your kids about alcohol and drugs, incorporate this topic into those conversations. This is your job. Don’t leave it to anyone else. You could save a life — maybe your own child’s. Even if you didn’t know about this, kids do know. You can initiate the conversation by asking them about it.  Ask them if they tried it or know someone who has.

Warning signs:

  • blood shot eyes
  • marks on the neck
  • wearing high-necked shirts, even in warm weather
  • frequent or severe headaches
  • long periods of time spent alone in the bedroom
  • disorientation after spending time alone
  • ropes, dog leashes, scarves, or belts, tied to bedroom furniture or doorknobs or found knotted on the floor.
  • acute vision changes or vision loss

Even as your children get older they still need to experience connection and closeness with you. They still need your counsel and your supervision. Monitor the sites they visit on their computer.

As well, encourage your school to teach parents and students about the risks of this game and the irreversible damage this game can cause.


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