Saturday, August 16, 2014

Back to School: Offline Parenting Helps Online Safety

As a parent, you know that school supplies today include more than notebooks and pencils. Among the “must-haves” for students are tablets, laptops and smartphones. Now that kids integrate technology into their daily lives, it’s more important than ever for parents to keep tabs on their kids’ activities.

These back-to-school technology safety tips compiled by AT&T can help you take the proper steps to make sure their children are using technology safely.

1) Get tech savvy. Talk to your kids about what sites they’re visiting on the Internet and what kind of social media they are participating in. You should even experiment with them yourself. This will give you a better feel in evaluating risks and potential abuses. Friend them or follow them.
2) Check privacy settings on social media, but emphasize there is no privacy. The more private, the less likely inappropriate material will be received by your child, or sent to their circle of acquaintances. But make sure your child understands that everything sent over the Internet or a cellphone is public and can be shared with the entire world, so it is important that they use good judgment in sending messages and pictures and sharing on social media.
3) Set rules for texting. Only allow texting at specific times - no texting at school, no texting until homework's done, no texting after a certain time at night, and for teens, no texting behind the wheel. Tell your child you have the right to monitor the texts that are sent and received.
4) Research what your carrier offers that can help. For example, some offer wireless parental controls, like Smart Limits for Wireless, that allow parents to block unwanted calls and texts from up to 30 numbers, set monthly limits on texts and mobile purchases and restrict texting, data usage and outbound calling during specified times of day. Most Internet service providers offer parental tools to block access to specific Web pages, as well as to services such as e-mail, instant messaging, chat groups and message boards. Since it’s virtually impossible to stay informed about all the sites kids want to visit, also check to see if your Internet Service Provider offers permission slips, which allow children to request access to unauthorized Web sites. You get to be the judge. Tamper controls are another helpful feature, alerting parents if children attempt to change the settings.
5) Set boundaries. A parent’s responsibilities in overseeing a child’s technology use are not much different than in other areas of daily life. Set clear boundaries on appropriate and inappropriate uses of technology. Make sure these rules and the consequences of breaking them are clear. And monitor use to make sure they are following the rules. Above all, don’t be intimidated. Even if you’re less savvy about the technology than your children, you have the tools to make your job simpler in an ever more complicated world.

If you have teens that are driving, remind them, #ItCanWait – #X Campaign.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Summertime More Screen Time: Make it Safe Time

In the summer heat, it’s easy to  understand why kids (and their parents) don't want to be outside during the middle of the day. More free time spent inside during the summer, likely means more screen time for kids. 

Technology can help strengthen friendships and open a world of knowledge for our kids, but it calls for some limits during the summer months (and school year, of course). 

But where to start? AT&T's Anita Williams Weinberg has some great suggestions for parents in AT&T’s new Thread magazine.

Weinberg suggests parents arm themselves with some solid guidelines and use common sense to navigate the summer with teens and tech. She offers three simple rules to help kids get the most out of their screen time.

1. Be the gatekeeper: Set up parental controls that limit screen time and phone use, and designate which contacts may (or may not) be called or texted between certain hours. Most popular video game systems and computer operating systems offer parental controls.
2. Know where they go: Make sure kids understand that their electronics are not private. Know their passwords, and regularly scroll through phone and browser histories to spot red flags. Particularly with laptops and tablets, it’s important to keep the technology in a common area of the house — no hiding behind closed doors.
3. Share the fun: Make sure there are times when you can all enjoy tech toys and gadgets together, like family movie nights or gaming tournaments.

Read Weinberg’s full column here, then share your strategies for limiting screen time in the summer.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Summer Grade Recovery Program for Teens

Have you discovered your teenager failed a class or two?  Are they missing credits?

There are programs that can help them acquire grade recovery this summer. 

Maybe your teen is struggling with defiance, they disrespect you or are engaging in risky behavior.  You are not convinced that they warrant a full-time residential therapy.

Summer is a perfect time to explore a therapeutic boarding school that offers a summer program to determine if it is a fit for your teen.  It is important that it offers academics - since chances are likely your child is behind academically.  This can be part of their stress that brings on low-self-worth which feeds into making bad choices.

If you need resources please visit www.helpyourteens.com and fill out a quick form for a free parent consultation. 


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Summer Teen Help Programs

Summer is almost here and parents are searching for summer programs to help their struggling teens.  Many hope that a good summer programs will make a difference in their negative behavior.

Today parents will complain about the following issues with their teenagers:

  • Underachieving.  Capable of getting A's yet satisfied with C's and D's.
  • Dropping out of their favorite sport or activity.
  • Smoking pot -- occasionally - though parents may blame it on the friends, please keep in mind, it is your child making the decision to inhale that joint or pop that pill.  
  • Drinking - again, it may be the friends you want to blame, but are they holding the bottle to your teen's mouth?
  • Sneaking out of the house
  • Defiance, lying, stealing
  • Maybe they have changed their peer group this year?
Let's face it, with a combination of any of these above, you could be traveling down a negative path.

Chances are very good a short-term summer program will not address a long term solution, however many parents need to give it a try.  It is better than not doing anything.

It can irritate me when I see parents get sucked into these very expensive Wilderness programs that give tell you they can turn your child around in 4-9 weeks.  Really?

I think if you interview most of the families that have dug deep  into their wallets and spent that $15K-20K on a Wilderness program (which is likely to have zero academics to get your child caught up), you will find that at about the 4 week point, the program is already prepping the family for the "next step" of a Therapeutic Boarding School or Residential Treatment Center (another $50K step).

Or if the family truly cannot afford, which I have spoken to many of them too, since they have spent their  last dime on this summer last ditch hope, they soon find that within 3-6 weeks after Wilderness, their  child is back to their old ways.  

What is the answer?  It depends on the child, but in most situations it is finding the right placement the first time around.  Not starting at one place - and "breaking him down" (aren't they already broken?) and breaking your wallet too, and then going to yet another to break your wallet again.

Most quality and qualified programs are designed to treat teens that come in with the anger and defiance.  There are excellent 6-8-10 month programs that can offer a complete package of academic's, emotional growth (clinical) and enrichment programs (which are so important to help stimulate your teen in a positive direction).

It is my opinion, and after almost thirteen years of watching parents and families in this big business of "teen help" get screwed (sorry for the slang) but until you walk my shoes and have taken the time to learn about what goes on behind the scenes - the word just about seems appropriate.

I firmly believe in getting our kids help, as a matter of fact, it is our responsibility as a parent to do that.  We also have to do our due diligent.

Google is not God -- the Internet has some very disturbing sites - and disgruntled kids, parents, employers. Yes, I was one of them, but I also have a lot of substantial legal facts behind my case.  I don't sit and rant.  As a matter of fact, I don't want to discuss it - I want to continue to educate parents about how they can find the best program for their child's needs.

I offer many great tips, questions to ask schools and programs and resources.  Visit www.helpyourteens.com.

If you are looking for a summer program, there are many out there.  Do your due diligence, it will be worth it.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Crumpled: Your Words Matter

The power of a word is underestimated.

This is why we, as a society, have to take online harassment seriously.

Bullying doesn't discriminate. No one is immune to cyberbullying.

From schools to workplaces to playing fields to cyberspace -- at any age, you can become a victim of vicious keystrokes and harsh words.

Crumpled is the name of a video created by a group of students that are on a mission to Delete Negativity on Social Media with the #iCANHELP Campaign. The video speaks for itself, the message is powerful and one you need to pass on to others.

These students call themselves The Positive Warriors! It started when someone created a fake Facebook page to make fun of a teacher at their school. Instead of retaliating with cruelty, they decided to come back with kindness by spreading positive messages throughout social media and their school.

This crusade has spread through 100 schools in their state of California. Their goal is to go national.

Will it start with you? Talk to your school about it today.

Join #iCANHELP on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.
The movement can start with you locally!

To crumple or uncrumple, the choice is yours...

Words matter, keystrokes counts, use them with care.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Spoiled Rotten Brat Syndrome: Good Kids, Bad Choices

Let's face it, many parents experience a happy baby that bounces into a toddler and enjoys their elementary years only to leap into the teenage time of turmoil.  What happens?  Where did that bubbling, fun-loving child go?

Today's generation of entitlement is a new breed.  It's true - parents want to give kids what they didn't have when they were younger, but they need to remember they still need the foundation of an upbringing.

Many of us were brought up with respecting our parents, teachers and elders in general.  We would never dream to talk back to a person in authority - even if we didn't like or respect them.

If our parent told us to be home at 10pm, we were home at 10pm.  There was never a screaming match or a debate.

Today teenagers believe they can rule the homes.

The recent case that is splashing across the headlines it he Rachel Canning story.  Thankfully the ruled for the parents. 

“Do we want to establish a precedent where parents live in basic fear of establishing rules of the house?”

Exactly!  We would have a nation of teens controlling their parents!

Many parents call with a very smart teen, athletic, good looking, etc... suddenly they are hanging out with a negative peer group, underachieving in school, smoking pot, drinking, or simply making really bad choices.

It is wise to start with local resources and counseling.  Sadly in many situations, the one-on-one therapy once or even twice a week rarely makes a difference with a defiant teenager.

However I encourage all parents to try, since there some kids that are receptive to therapy.

After all local resources have been exhausted some parents try the residential therapy route.  This is usually more successful since it removes your teen from the negative influences.  It can give them an opportunity to focus on their issues without distractions.

Either way, parents need to understand, you are in control and teens should not be dictating your household rules to you.




Friday, February 21, 2014

Bullying in Sports: A Guide to Identifying the Injuries We Don't See

By Randy Nathan

Experts agree that bullying is a national epidemic and impacts hundreds of thousands of lives across the country.

This book uncovers the prevalence of bullying in sports by identifying the behavior. It calls out those who are involved in enabling the culture and the matter in which it is being used, and what can be done to stand up against this conduct.

Bullying in Sports offers a comprehensive approach that openly acknowledges the bullying in sports and identifies the breeding ground that inculcates athletes into a certain mindset that spills over into the classroom, hallways, and bathrooms. Chapters offer strategies and tactics on how to put policies into action. Furthermore, this book offers an important paradigm shift that has the ability and potential to completely transform our bullying programs and strategies.

Order today on Amazon.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Teen Dating Violence: Knowing If Your Teen is in Trouble

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. 

Although many parents and teens never believe that dating abuse will happen to them, they believe they are immune to such behavior, they couldn't be more wrong.

Domestic violence doesn't discriminate.

Parents, what you need to know if you suspect your child is in a bad relationship:

You can look for some early warning signs of abuse that can help you identify if your child is in an abusive relationship before it’s too late. Some of these signs include:
  • Your child’s partner is extremely jealous or possessive.
  • You notice unexplained marks or bruises.
  • Your child’s partner emails or texts excessively.
  • You notice that your son or daughter is depressed or anxious.
  • Your son or daughter stops participating in extracurricular activities or other interests.
  • Your child stops spending time with other friends and family.
  • Your child’s partner abuses other people or animals.
  • Your child begins to dress differently.
What can you do?

  • Tell your child you’re concerned for their safety. Point out that what's happening isn't "normal." Everyone deserves a safe and healthy relationship. Offer to connect your son or daughter with a professional, like a counselor or attorney, who they can talk to confidentially.
  • Be supportive and understanding. Stress that you’re on their side. Provide information and non-judgmental support. Let your son or daughter know that it’s not their fault and no one "deserves" to be abused. Make it clear that you don’t blame them and you respect their choices.
  • Believe them and take them seriously. Your child may be reluctant to share their experiences in fear of no one believing what they say. As you validate their feelings and show your support, they can become more comfortable and trust you with more information. Be careful not to minimize your child’s situation due to age, inexperience or the length of their relationship.
  • Help develop a safety plan. One of the most dangerous times in an abusive relationship is when the victim decides to leave. Be especially supportive during this time and try to connect your child to support groups or professionals that can help keep them safe.
  • Remember that ultimately your child must be the one who decides to leave the relationship. There are many complex reasons why victims stay in unhealthy relationships. Your support can make a critical difference in helping your son or daughter find their own way to end their unhealthy relationship.
You may be fortunate and you haven't experienced any negative behavior, however it doesn't mean you shouldn't talk about it! It’s never too early to talk to your child about healthy relationships and dating violence.

It’s never too early to talk to your child about healthy relationships and dating violence. Starting conversations -- even if you don’t think your child is dating -- is one of the most important steps you can take to help prevent dating violence. Here are some sample questions to start the conversation:
  • Are any of your friends dating? What are their relationships like? What would you want in a partner?
  • Have you witnessed unhealthy relationships or dating abuse at school? How does it make you feel? Were you scared?
  • Do you know what you would do if you witnessed or experienced abuse?
  • Has anyone you know posted anything bad about a friend online? What happened afterwards?
  • Would it be weird if someone you were dating texted you all day to ask you what you’re doing?
Need more tips to get started? Here are some other ways you can prepare to talk to your child about healthy and unhealthy relationships:
  • Do your own research on dating abuse to get the facts before talking to your teen or 20-something. Start with the information and resources on loveisrespect.org.
  • Provide your child with examples of healthy relationships, pointing out unhealthy behavior. Use examples from your own life, television, movies or music.
  • Ask questions and encourage open discussion. Make sure you listen to your son or daughter, giving them a chance to speak. Avoid analyzing, interrupting, lecturing or accusing.
  • Keep it low key. Don’t push it if your child is not ready to talk. Try again another time.
  • Be supportive and nonjudgmental so they know they can come to you for help if their relationship becomes unhealthy in the future.
  • Admit to not knowing the answer to a particular question. This response builds trust.
  • Reinforce that dating should be fun! Stress that violence is never acceptable.
  • Discuss the options your child has if they witness dating abuse or experience it themselves.
  • Remind your son or daughter they have the right to say no to anything they're not comfortable with or ready for. They also must respect the rights of others.
  • If your child is in a relationship that feels uncomfortable, awkward or frightening, assure them they can come to you. And remember -- any decisions they make about the relationship should be their own.
  • Find ways to discuss gender equality at A Call to Men
  • Contact Break the Cycle to find out if there are dating violence prevention programs in your community. If not, work with Break the Cycle to bring abuse prevention to your local school or community group.
Source:  Love is Respect