Thursday, July 30, 2009

Sue Scheff: Parents Learn More About Cyberbullys


Source: Connect with Kids

“What used to be done face to face or at slumber parties or on the telephone are now done through instant messaging and emails and etcetera. And the difference is it doesn’t go away. It can stay there permanently, it can be saved, it can be transmitted.”

– Joanne Max, Ph.D., Psychologist

For the online generation, here are the latest numbers: 91 percent of teens have an email address, 60 percent use instant messaging, 75 percent have a cell phone, 72 percent have a Facebook or Myspace page. And in a recent Harris Poll, one in five teens has been harassed online or by text message.

13-year-old Taylor has lots of online friends and one enemy: a girl who posted a web log making fun of Taylor and other kids.

“She was mostly calling everyone whores and sluts and ho’s,” says Taylor.

Taylor found out thru the grapevine at school that the girl was a classmate.

“She wrote down all the people’s names that she didn’t like, or didn’t care for, and she wrote something mean about them for every name,” she says.

According to a recent Harris Poll of over 600 teens, 20 percent say they’ve been harassed or threatened on the web or by text message.

“The cattiness, or cliquishness of yesteryear has now transitioned to the discriminatory behaviors that occur on web sites or blogs or chat rooms,” says Psychologist Joanne Max, Ph.D.

Experts say one reason online bullying is common is that kids can’t see the reaction of the person they’re writing about, they can’t see the hurt they’ve caused. “Sometimes the perpetrators are not aware of the impact of their statements and the hurtfulness or the fear they can engender in others,” says Dr. Max.

“Like if the 2 people that are in a fight, if they’re online they’ll say things they wouldn’t say in person,” says Taylor.

Experts say parents need to be technologically savvy. They need to learn about blogs, Myspace and instant messaging and ask your child directly about online bullying.

“Certainly an open ended question opening dialog like that is very helpful,” says Dr. Max, “The other side of that is also to ask if they’ve ever been part of that kind of conversation.”

Tips for Parents
Bullying in America has become an epidemic. In fact, with the advent of the Internet, bullies don’t even have to have physical contact with your child to torment him/her. Thus, parents are faced with the monumental task of monitoring the activities of children in a world of virtually unlimited sources of information. Although many parents attempt to regulate the access of their children to the Internet, that access is, in fact, nearly ubiquitous. Consider these facts regarding children, technology and the Internet:

Children are increasingly using new technologies in school, at the library, at home and in after-school activities.
Recent studies estimate that nearly 16 million children under the age of 11 are online.
91 percent of teens have an email address
75 percent have a cell phone
72 percent have a Myspace or Facebook page
Because bullying – including online bullying – can be such an emotional issue, experts say it is extremely important to open the lines of communication with your kids. This can include:

Starting to talk with them early.
Initiating conversations.
Creating an open environment.
Communicating your values.
Listening to your child.
Trying to be honest.
Being patient.
Sharing your experiences.

Also, watch for behavioral changes. Children who are suffering from teasing and bullying may try to hide the hurt. They become withdrawn from family and friends, lose interest in hobbies, and may turn to destructive habits like alcohol, drugs and acts of violence.

While bullying, harassment and teasing are unfortunate aspects of childhood, you can help minimize these occurrences by raising non-violent children. The American Academy of Pediatrics cites the following tips for curbing hurtful behavior in your child:

Give your child consistent love and attention. Every child needs a strong, loving relationship with a parent or other adult to feel safe and secure and to develop a sense of trust. Without a steady bond to a caring adult, a child is at risk for becoming hostile, difficult and hard to manage.
Make sure your child is supervised. A child depends on his or her parents and family members for encouragement, protection and support as he or she learns to think for himself or herself. Without proper supervision, your child will not receive the guidance he or she needs. Studies report that unsupervised children often have behavior problems.

Monitor your child’s Internet use. If your child knows you are watching, he or she is less likely to take part in cyber-bullying. Also, encourage him or her to avoid using chat-rooms with violent or derogatory conversations.

Show your child appropriate behaviors by the way you act. Children often learn by example. The behavior, values and attitudes of parents and siblings have a strong influence on them. Be firm with your child about the possible dangers of violent behavior and language. Also, remember to praise your child when he or she solves problems constructively without violence.
Be consistent about rules and discipline. When you make a rule, stick to it. Your child needs structure with clear expectations for his or her behavior. Setting rules and then not enforcing them is confusing and sets up your child to “see what he or she can get away with.”
Try to keep your child from seeing violence in the home or community. Violence in the home can be frightening and harmful to children. A child who has seen violence at home does not always become violent, but he or she may be more likely to try to resolve conflicts with violence.

Try to keep your child from seeing too much violence in the media. Watching a lot of violence on television, in the movies and in video games can lead children to behave aggressively. As a parent, you can control the amount of violence your child sees in the media by limiting television viewing and previewing games, movies, etc., before allowing access to them by your child.
Help your child stand up against violence. Support your child in standing up against violence. Teach him or her to respond with calm but firm words when others insult or threaten another person. Help your child understand that it takes more courage and leadership to resist violence than to go along with it.

Kaiser Family Foundation
Talking With Your Kids
British Medical Journal
American Academy of Pediatrics

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Sue Scheff: Raising a Child and Teens with Morals

Dr. Michele Borba is getting ready to release her BIG BOOK of Parenting Solutions, and she is giving you a sneak peak of what you will find inside.

Source: Reality Check Blog from Michele Borba

By Michele Borba

How to Raise a Moral Child

I recently worked with PARENTS magazine to conduct an online survey of over 2400 moms. One question: “How do you hope your child turns out?” Next to health and happiness, most parents hoped their children would grow to be adults with solid character and strong morals. One thing is certain: parents who raise moral kids don’t do so by accident. We also know that home is the best school for teaching character. And the best time to teach the beliefs and habits that boost strong character are in everyday intentional moments. Here are ten tips to help you raise your child to have a strong moral intelligence from my new book, The Big Book of Parenting Solutions.

1. Commit to Raising A Moral Child

How important is it for you to raise a moral child? It’s a crucial question to ask, because research finds that parents who feel strongly about their kids turning out morally usually succeed because they committed themselves to that effort. If you really want to raise a moral child, then make a personal commitment to raise one, and don’t stop until he does.

2. Be a Strong Moral Example
Parents are their children’s first and most powerful moral teachers, so make sure the moral behaviors your kids are picking up from you are ones that you want them to copy. Try to make your life a living example of good moral behavior for your child to see. Each day ask yourself: “If my child had only my behavior to watch, what example would he catch?” The answer is often quite telling.

3. Know Your Beliefs & Share Them
Before you can raise a moral child, you must be clearly about what believe in. Take time to think through your values then share them regularly to your child explaining why you feel the way you do. After all, your child will be hearing endless messages that counter your beliefs, so it’s essential the she hears about your moral standards. TV shows, movies, newspapers, and literature are filled with moral issues, so use them as opportunities to discuss your beliefs with your child.

4. Use Teachable Moments
The best teaching moments aren’t ones that are planned-they happen unexpectedly. Look for moral issues to talk about as they come up. Take advantage of those moments because they help your child develop solid moral beliefs that will help guide his behavior the rest of his life.

5. Use Discipline as a Moral Lesson
Effective discipline ensures that the child not only recognizes why her behavior was wrong but also knows what to do to make it right next time. Using the right kind of questions helps kids expand their ability to take another person’s perspective and understand the consequences of their behavior. So help your child reflect: “Was that the right thing to do? What should I do next time?” That way your child learns from his mistakes and grows morally. Remember your ultimate goal is to wean your child from your guidance so he acts right on his own.

6. Expect Moral Behavior
Studies are very clear: kids who act morally have parents who expect them to do so. It sets a standard for your child’s conduct and also lets her know in no uncertain terms what you value. Post your moral standards at home then consistently reinforce them until your child internalizes them so they become his rules, too.

7. Reflect on the Behaviors’ Effects
Researchers tell us one of the best moral-building practices is to point out the impact of the child’s behavior on the other person. Doing so enhances a child’s moral growth: (”See, you made her cry”) or highlight the victim’s feeling (”Now he feels bad”). The trick is to help to help the child really imagine what it would be like to be in the victim’s place so she will be more sensitive to how her behavior impacts others.

8. Reinforce Moral Behaviors
One of the simplest ways to help kids learn new behaviors is to reinforce them as they happen. So purposely catch your child acting morally and acknowledge her good behavior by describing what she did right and why you appreciate it.

9. Prioritize Morals Daily
Kids don’t learn how to be moral from reading about it in textbooks but from doing good deeds. Encourage your child to lend a hand to make a difference in his world, and always help him recognize the positive effect the gesture had on the recipient. The real goal is for kids to become less and less dependent on adult guidance by incorporating moral principles into their daily lives and making them their own. That can happen only if parents emphasize the importance of the virtues over and over and their kids repeatedly practice those moral behaviors.

10. Incorporate the Golden Rule
Teach your child the Golden Rule that has guided many civilizations for centuries, “Treat others as you want to be treated.” Remind him to ask himself before acting, Would I want someone to treat me like that? It helps him think about his behavior and its consequences on others. Make the rule become your family’s over-arching moral principal.

For more Parenting Solutions follow Michele at twitter @micheleborba or on her daily blog, Dr. Michele Borba’s Reality Check.

This article is excerpted from Michele Borba’s book, The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries (Jossey-Bass) available for order now:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teen Challenge - FEARS: Are They As Big As They Feel?

Debra Beck is an author and mentor for teens, specializing in girls. Her first book, My Feet Aren't Ugly has helped thousands of girls empower themselves - build self esteem and make better choices in life. Read her recent Blog entry - FEARS: Are They As Big As They Feel?

What are you afraid of? There is plenty to fear--whether you are a child, a teenager or an adult. Fears come in all shapes and sizes from the Boogieman to the Taxman. You can be afraid of speaking in front of a crowd, growing old, getting a bad grade on a test, losing friends, looking bad, embarrassing yourself. The list can go on and on. Everybody is afraid of something and to different degrees.

Are fears only as big as we make them?

Let’s take a look. Let’s say that you have a new boyfriend, and you really, really like him. You’re afraid that now that he has claimed to like you, he will wake up some morning only to like your best friend better. You’re so worried that you start asking him questions about how he feels about your friend, such as “Do you like the way she looks?” and so on.

Your fear of losing your boyfriend gets so big and out of control that every time you’re with him that’s all you talk about. Guess what? He might like your best friend better one day. And he might not. But I can guarantee that talking about it with your boyfriend day in and day out is only going to make your boyfriend think about it--and get bored with your relationship.

So let’s say he does wake up some morning and decides that he likes your girlfriend. Was there anything you could have done about it? Did worrying and having all of that fear stop him? No!

Now, let say he never decides that he likes your girlfriend. Did you waste a lot of time worrying and being afraid about it? Yes! Either way it was a waste of time, and it prevented you from being close to your boyfriend and sharing special moments with him.

Some fears can ruin a relationship
and keep us from being in the now.
Some fears can ruin a relationship and keep us from being in the now. If your boyfriend is with you right now that has to be good enough.

Another thing fears can do is to prevent us from doing things and experiencing situations that would make our life fuller. For instance, suppose you want to join a certain club at school, but you know that it requires you to speak in public. Speaking in public has always made you sick to your stomach, so you don’t join. What if you joined and walked through those fears and eventually you could speak in public without getting sick? What if you even started to enjoy it?

We all have many fears, and we have to take a look at each of them individually. We need to make a list of our fears. We need to ask: Is this a fear that is holding me back? Is this a fear that is ruining my relationship? Or is this a valid fear? A valid fear, for example, would be getting into a car with a drunk driver.

The more we get to know our fears, the better we will be at deciding how to handle them. We do not want to be controlled by our fears. We do not want our fears running our life.

I have noticed that when we face our fears and
walk through them, we become empowered.
I have noticed that when we face our fears and walk through them, we become empowered. When we do the opposite and allow our fears to control our life, we empower our fears.
Visit for more great information!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sue Scheff: Learn About Teen Medicine Abuse

Community Impact on OTC Cough Medicine Abuse

Posted by Five Mom, Hilda Morales , on Friday, July 10, 2009

The summer heat means spending lots of time outdoors at community parks, pools, and events. No matter where you live, everyone savors the summer months when the crazy pace of life generally slows down and families get to spend more time together. Busy families also find they are likely to spend more time in their community, attending sporting events, picnics, or concerts. It’s a reassuring and comforting feeling to be a part of a community of people that you identify with and feel a connection to in a meaningful way. This connection can play an important role in the fight against over-the-counter cough medicine abuse.

Take a look at how one community assessed the risk factors that contribute to drug abuse in teenagers. It is easy to see how communities have a great deal of impact on the risky behaviors of their teens. In this article, we have taken a deeper look at ways our own communities can solve the problems and risks associated with drug abuse in teenagers.

Safeguard your home

Because OTC cough medicines are useful to consumers, they can be found in the medicine cabinets of almost every home. As mentioned before in Blaise’s article, however, we must take responsibility for what is in our own medicine cabinet and keep track of every medication. Share this information with friends and community members.
By keeping the parents in our communities informed about the simple steps they can take, such as keeping a careful inventory of household medicines, we can all feel more comfortable and confident as our teens spend more time out of the house during the summer months.

Talk about the risks

In comparison to illicit drug use, some communities are not aware of the serious dangers of OTC cough medicine abuse. If you need tips on how to bring up the topic, take a look at Becky’s latest article on taking action within your community. By using the free resources on the Stop Medicine Abuse web site, you can make sure other parents understand the real dangers of medicine abuse and are encouraged to discuss those risks with their own teens.

Encourage community involvement

Summer vacation is a great time to get your teen more involved in their neighborhood. Organize a block party or encourage your teen to make a little extra money by babysitting, mowing lawns, or walking dogs. Not only will these activities get your teen outside they also will give him or her a sense of responsibility and a connection to others in the community.

Being responsible, getting involved, and speaking out against OTC cough medicine abuse are great steps every parent can take this summer. What other ways do you think communities can prevent this form of abuse in teenagers? Share your ideas or comments on the Stop Medicine Abuse Facebook fan page!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sue Scheff: When Parents Don’t Agree Over Discipline

Kara Tamanini, and author and therapist, wrote an interesting Blog entry today. I am sure there are parents that will relate to this. Be sure to visit for more great information from Kara Tamanini. Follow her on Twitter @KidTherapist

When Parents Don’t Agree Over Discipline

What do you do as a parent when your child is resistant to discipline and your spouse will not stand behind you and enforce the rules. As a therapist, I see this all the time. One parent is the “good guy” and the other one who disciplines and enforces the rules is the “bad guy”. No two parents agree all the time about discipline/boundaries and will parent the same, however some parents just don’t want to discipline at all and want their children to be their “friend”. Children and parents are NOT friends, your child needs a parent, their friends are at school. This is a serious problem as it puts one parent against the other and of course the child will play one parent against the other in order to get their way. So what can you do if you are the parent that is the “bad guy” and your spouse will not help you with discipline.

First of all, as the “bad guy” you need to address this with your spouse. Most likely you are saying that you already have and it fell on deaf ears and your spouse did nothing about changing their way of disciplining. If your spouse will not change than from now on they need to be held responsible for the consequences of not enforcing discipline in the home. For example, if your spouse will not make your child clean up their room, then your spouse should have to clean up the child’s room.

You are not to go behind your child and go into their room and clean it up. If your child has been told to take out the trash and they have not, even after you told them, then your spouse is to take out the trash. Most likely, if the resistance of a spouse to change their behavior and discipline strategies is very severe, this is probably a marital issue and not a parenting issue. Marital counseling may be needed in order to address a “marriage issue.” Individuals understand consequences for behavior, whether it is an adult or a child. Make the parent who does not want to discipline or enforce appropriate boundaries reap the consequences for doing nothing.

Sue Scheff: Step Families Good for Kids - Blended Families

Source: Connect with Kids

“The challenges were having my kids listen to Gladys and having her kids listen to me – they didn’t.”

– Michael Uhri, a father

Every year, the parents of one million children get divorced. And every day, 1,300 new step-families are formed. Those first days and months aren’t easy, but studies show that kids who live in step-families are happier than children whose parents never re-marry.

When Gladys and Michael decided to marry, it wasn’t just one plus one … it was four plus four. Two families of divorce were joining each other, and the kids didn’t like it.

“We didn’t get along AT ALL,” says Tiffany, now 14 years old.

“I didn’t like having a whole new family,” says Ashley, 15.

Michael’s kids resented Gladys, and her kids wouldn’t listen to him.

“They stayed in their own room a lot; they found things to do by themselves a lot,” Gladys says.

Divorce is hard enough on children, but when a divorced parent remarries, joining a new family can be an emotionally difficult experience for kids. They actually get MORE upset.

“It’s very hard for children, especially adolescents,” says Valerie Houghton, a family therapist specializing in split families.

Houghton says it’s hard for kids to understand why they’re getting moved around and getting less attention than they were. But, experts say, the longer a stepfamily is together, the more stable it becomes and the less depression the kids have.

And eventually, the children who’s parents remarry are actually happier than children who’s parents did not.

“There’s great potential,” Houghton says, “but everybody has to be on the same page. They need to provide what children basically need, which is protection, consistency, love, time.”

After five years of family meetings, vacations, fun and even arguments, Michael says what’s finally worked was that the children now believe in the commitment he and Gladys made those years ago.

“We both had vision. And that’s what’s most important. To know how it can be and should be,” Michael explains.

Tips for Parents
In the 1950’s, a date with the family meant a date with your biological mother and father. But that ideal has slowly faded. By 1972, only 73% of kids lived with their original parents, and now, barely half do. In fact, a new study reports that 1,300 new stepfamilies are being formed each day. But though this new modern family may differ from the traditional family of the past, experts are quick to point out that a sense of family is still a critical component for child rearing. The Kansas State University Cooperative Extension Service suggests teaching that “family” is defined not by the way it is structured but by what each member does for one another.

Recent research suggests that for adolescents, gender of the child can be important in determining adjustment to stepfamilies. Some research shows that pre-adolescent boys fare better in stepfamilies than divorced families, whereas pre-adolescent girls do somewhat better in divorced families than stepfamilies.

Psychologists who work with blended families urge parents to allow time to adjust to the new situation. Many children who already have experienced separation and divorce may struggle with the new reality that their old family is now permanently gone. Even when children know and like the new stepparent, still be stress for both the child and the parents can still exist. The Stepfamily Association of America offers the following suggestions for a smooth transition for your family:

■Encourage all children in the blended family to talk about their feelings.
■Make sure all children have their own space, from a bedroom to a drawer or closet.
■Involve all children in planning and helping with household responsibilities and setting family schedules.

■Kansas State University
■Stepfamily Association of America

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Sue Scheff: Promoting Teen Health, Nutrition and Body Image

I found a cool website for teens and parents. BodiMojo – promoting teen health, nutrition, and body image. Read more!

BodiMojo will be a premier nutrition, fitness and body image website built with teens, for teens, and focused on integrating online & off-line activities in fun and motivational way.
Teens told us what they wanted and we listened. BodiMojo will include elements of music, interactive tools, games, vids, creativity, community building, contests, original content and customized user pages for teens. BodiMojo will also offer its users new technology for fitness tracking and mobile motivation.

BodiMojo philosophy is simple: Health Can Be Cool

Nutritional experts, health professionals, fitness gurus along with our participating teen users will develop stories, articles, information, graphics, videos, interactive features and more.
This current site will provide information and updates on the development of the full BodiMojo website as well as receive content submissions from teens. Keep an eye on BodiMojo and our upcoming Virtual User’s Group, Blog, Contests and News. BodiMojo will launch 2009.
BodiMojo will also be partnering with game developers, musicians, technologists, producers, athletes, writers, artists and business people interested in participating in BodiMojo’s mission. Contact us at

Remember, a body in motion, stays in motion.


Friday, July 24, 2009

Sue Scheff: Warning Signs of Teen Depression

Common warning signs/symptoms of teenage depression

•Changes in eating and sleeping habits (eating and sleeping too much or too little)
•Significant change in weight (loss or gain)
•Often misses school and/or shows bad school performance
•Reclusive, withdrawing from friends or family members
•Quick to show anger/rage
•General restlessness or anxiety
•Overreacts to criticism, even constructive
•Seems very self conscious, guilty
•Unusual problems with authority
•No longer partakes in or enjoys activities and events they once loved
•Indecision, lack of concentration, or forgetfulness
•Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
•Frequent health complaints despite being healthy
•Lack of motivation and enthusiasm for every day life
•Drug/alcohol abuse
•Mentions or thoughts of suicide

Learn more - click here.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Sue Scheff: How to Treat a Specific Phobia

Kara Tamanini is an author and therapist and I can always find great information for parents on her website.
Most children go through different phases in which they are scared of different things when they are young. However, a child can develop a specific phobia to different things in which their fears are excessive or unreasonable. Now, you may say that everyone is scared of something at one time or another. However, children that have specific phobias become extremely fearful or terrified when a parent or adult even exposes them to the specific thing they are scared of. Children most often develop specific phobias to the following things: being in the dark, water, animals, going to the doctor or the dentist, and lastly thunderstorms or bad weather.

Children may display their fear or anxiety of a particular stimulus (ie… a dog) if the child is scared of dogs in a variety of ways. Children will typically display their anxiety or fear over their specific phobia by having a temper tantrum, clinging to their parents, crying, or they freeze and will not move.

How can a child’s specific phobia be treated? Most commonly, parents will bring their children in for treatment when the child’s phobia has become so excessive that it is interfering with the child’s day to day life. A common phobia for children is a fear of dogs. The steps that must be taken to treat a specific phobia are slow and methodical and exposure to the stimulus which the child is scared of (ie… dogs) should be done with the assistance of a therapist or mental health professional. Parents/caregivers should never attempt to treat a specific phobia without the help of someone who understands phobias and the treatment thereof.
The therapeutic method or approach that is used to treat specific phobias is called systematic desensitization or in other words, the therapist slowly exposes the child to stimulus’ related to their child’s phobia. In the case of treating the specific phobia to dogs, here are steps that could be taken by the therapist:

1.) Expose the child to something about dogs. A good exercise would be for the child and therapist to cut out pictures of dogs from a magazine while in the treatment session.

2.) Read stories to the child about different dogs, such as Clifford the Big Red Dog, Lassie, Snoopy, or stories about Scooby-Doo. The idea here is to not flood the child with too much about dogs, but work up slowly so as to not overwhelm them.

3.) Have the child when they are ready sleep with a dog stuffed animal.

4.) Have the parents post pictures of dogs on the refrigerator that they have cut out of magazines as a family activity

5.) Watch videos or a movie about dogs when the child feels they are ready. The emotional and psychological status of the child in regards as to whether they are ready to be exposed to the stimulus (ie.. dogs) is in the clinical judgment of the therapist with input from the child and his/her parents

6.) Have the parents take the child somewhere in which dogs will be present, ie… park, but keep the child at a distance for the dog/dogs. Over a period of time usually weeks, the parent with the help of the child’s therapist will decrease the distance in which the child is in the proximity of the dog until the child is able to stand next to a dog. The child does not have to pet the dog unless he/she feels comfortable in doing so.

The steps outlined in treating a specific phobia, in this case dogs, can be used with any type of specific phobia that a child is experiencing. What is being exposed of course will be different depending on the nature of the specific phobia. Treatment of a specific phobia should be done slowly; cautiously in order to not overexpose children to the stimulus and traumatize them even further to what they are scared of. We call this flooding. Consult a mental health professional in order to treat a specific phobia.
Follow Kara on Twitter at @KidTherapist

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sue Scheff: How to Choose Your Family Values & Become a More Intentional Parent

More great parenting advice from Parenting Expert and Guru, Michele Borba! Don't forget to order her BIG BOOK of Parenting Solutions.

By Michele Borba

How to Choose Your Family Values & Become a More Intentional Parent

REALITY CHECK: Parents don’t raise moral kids by accident. They know what they stand for and pass those values onto their children deliberately and purposefully. So here’s your Reality Check: If you sat your child down right now and asked: “What do we stand for in this house? or What values matter most to our family?” would your child be able to answer? If not, it just means you’re not tuning up your values strong enough so your child adopts them for his own moral core.

Suppose you were allowed just one wish for your children and just suppose your wish would be granted. Here is the rule: The wish must be something you personally can control (so it can’t things like your child’s health, financial status, or longevity). It must also be something you can inspire or nurture in your family. You may wonder how that wish could have to do with parenting, but what if I were to tell you that your answer is how to create the best legacy to leave your children? All of a sudden the exercise suddenly becomes far more significant, right?

You see, the answer to your wish is what will guide your daily actions and help you stick to what matters in your parenting. That’s because that wish is what you want for your central mantra for your day-to-day interactions with your family. Your answer will help you make decisions based on what you know if right for your children, so it will reduce guilt, stress, and second-guessing. It is how to develop a moral compass in your sons and daughters that will guide their behavior for the rest of their life. That’s just how serious your wish is. After all, knowing what you stand for and reinforcing your beliefs is how you instill your values in your children. So what are you waiting for? Let’s get started in creating your legacy right!

Step One: Create a List of Your Values

Wait until your kids are asleep, turn off the TV, and turn on the voicemail. Get yourself focused and leave enough time so you can really think. Take out your laptop, or pad and pencil. Now answer this question: Aside from good health and security, what traits do you hope your baby will possess as an adult? That will be your greatest wish. Write down as many as you can think of, but write at least ten traits. To get you started, here are a few wishes that parents typically choose.: compassion, respectful, responsible, persevering, honest, trustworthy, peaceful, resourceful, courteous, fair, charitable, joyful, sensitive, grateful. Pick only ones that are most important to you

Step Two: Choose Your Top Three Family Values

Now reread your list. Which traits really matter to you the most? Start crossing off ones that aren’t as important to you until you finally have your top two to five family values.

Step Three: Select Your Top Value

Now select the one or two values you want most to instill in your children. This is your greatest wish you hope for your family. Next, think seriously: Why did you choose those beliefs? I strongly urge you to write your thoughts so you can read them again and again these next years. It will help reinforce what matters most in your parenting. Here are a few ways to preserve your ideas:

•Collect inspirational quotes that match your beliefs. Print them on cards then put them in a place where you’ll be sure to read them such in your organizer or taped to your bathroom mirror.
•Write a letter to yourself stating why you believe so strongly in your vision. On a specific day each year (such as on your birthday, Christmas, or Valentine’s Day) reread your message.
•Tell a close friend and then ask her to “gently” remind you ever so often of your belief.
•Start a parent journal and write your vision boldly on the opening page.
Step Four: Use the Belief in Your Daily Life

Finally, you need to make sure you are using this value in your own everyday behavior. After all, the easiest way for your child to learn any new value is by actually seeing it in action. So intentionally start looking for ways to tune up your chosen value and it’s not too early to start practicing now. If you think courtesy is important, than intentionally start being more courteous. If self-control is your core value, than this is the time to start taking those deep breaths and counting to ten. Remember also to reinforce your child whenever he or she displays the value. “I loved how you smiled at Grandma. That was being really kind. Did you see how her face lit up?” Be sure you name the value, and tell your child exactly how it made a difference.

If you take time to reflect on what kind of parent you want to be and the kind of values you want to instill in your baby, you will be more likely have your wish come true. Doing so is also the best way to create a lasting legacy to your children.

This blog is excerpted from my latest book The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries now available for advance order online or through Amazon.

You can also receive daily Parenting Solutions by following Michele on Twitter @micheleborba

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teens and Money

Debra Beck, an Author and Mentor to Teens, has a wonderful website and focus's on building your teens self esteem. Having self confidence can help your teen make better choices. Debra just posted a very timely Blog on Teens and Money - check it out!

It’s amazing to me how teens react to money differently. My oldest daughter didn’t like to spend her money or mine for that matter. She was always very picky about what she purchased to make sure that the money was well spent. My youngest on the other hand spent both of our money without a second thought, and sometimes on wasteful things.

I am noticing the same with my partners boys, one is very careful about his spending, and the other has the money spent in no time at all. What can we do as parents to assure that our teens have a certain amount of respect for money, no matter where it is coming from.
The first thing I suggest is starting at a young age. Be careful that you don’t give them everything they want, every new gadget that comes onto the market; computer, I Pod, cellular phone, new car and on and on. Set up a chore list and make them work for the toys they want. Also, be honest with yourself, I hear so many parents say “She needs a phone so I can get in touch with her”, please, how have parents stay in touch with their kids for all of these years without cell phones? Teens want the phone to call their friends and to be like all the other teens. That’s okay, but let them pay for the expense with their own earned money.

We don’t want our teens to feel like they are entitled. By giving them everything they want, without working for it, they feel superior. A perfect example of this is: when it comes time to drive and parents buy their teens really nice cars. I’m not saying you have to buy your teen a beater, but a modest car will do the trick. A used, economical car that is adequate and serves the purpose but doesn’t scream “Look at me, aren’t I special”.

We want to teach our kids to understand what money is all about, the importance. If we give them everything and they get into college and then get out in the world without us to pay for everything, for the first time, what do you think will happen? I have seen a lot of young adults go crazy, and get credit cards and spend like they are use to spending, not caring about who has to pay back the debt. They get used to having and therefore keep spending.

I think we need to talk to our children about money starting at a younger age, giving them an allowance for chores and letting them spend it the way they see fit. Then always talking to them as they get older about money. Talk to them about what you did to start making a living and the bills that you have and the responsibility you have. Talk to them about credit cards and paying for things up front, explain the difference.

I sat down with my daughters when they were 11 and 12-years-old and ask what they were going to be when they grew up, and where they wanted to live and what they wanted to have. My youngest daughter said she wanted to work at store, like Walmart, and my oldest wanted to be a Veterinarian. I showed them on paper, what each of them would make in the careers they picked and what they could afford to buy with there income. My youngest was very disappointed with the outcome of her paycheck.

Teens love to spend money and they don’t quite understand that the money bag isn’t bottomless. I remember my youngest daughter telling me to “Just write a check”, when she wanted something and I told her I couldn’t afford it. I asked her what she thought happened when I wrote a check, she had no idea.

As our children get older their spending habits get more expensive, their needs for things in general become more. It’s okay to have your teen participate in the expenses of their living habits, for a fact it’s more than okay, it’s a good thing. When they participate, they become more responsibly with their actions of spending money. When it’s their money they are less apt to spend money foolishly. They tend to spend our money a lot easier, there is no risk.

You want your teen to participate in their expenses, not cover them completely. When I was a teen, my friend was totally responsibly for all of her clothes, make-up, food, entertainment, everything. It was too much for her, so don’t go overboard. Building a responsible teen is one thing, you don’t want them to be neurotic. So, talk to your teens about money, give them chores or let them get a part-time job and earn their own money. Let them spend their money on what they want to spend it on, and still help them with necessities.

It’s our job to raise independent adults, the best way to do this is to teach them about responsibilities. Money is a huge part of this. It also gives us the opportunity to look into our own spending habits, and how we view money. Good luck, and have fun with your teen, helping them learn how to and not to spend money.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sue Scheff: The BIG Book of Parenting Solutions

As a Parent Advocate, I am a huge fan and friend of Michele Borba! I am very excited that her 23rd book will be released in September 2009.

The reviews are in and they are outstanding!

The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries

Publishers Weekly

Borba, author and Today Show regular, employs a cookbooklike approach in her latest volume: rather than read through the entire tome, parents can flip to topics pertinent to their family. Borba opens with a friendly overview, noting that contemporary parents feel more stressed and find their roles increasingly difficult (June Cleaver, she points out, didn’t have to deal with cyberbullying or Facebook). With characteristic wit, Borba identifies the “seven deadly parenting styles,” including helicopter, buddy, incubator, bandage, paranoid, accessory parenting (judging themselves by their kids’ accolades) and secondary parenting (relinquishing power to such outsiders as marketers or the media).

In nine sections on family, behavior, character, emotions, social scene, school, special needs, day-to-day and electronics, the author urges readers to roll up their sleeves and get back to basic, instinctual parenting. As she tackles 101 issues ranging from sibling rivalry, lying and peer pressure to cell-phone use and TV addiction, Borba helps readers identify the reason underlying the behavior or problem, and work with 10 essential principles of change. With her no-nonsense yet compassionate voice, Borba once again delivers an indispensable resource for parents of toddlers to 13-year-olds. (Sept.) Publishers Weekly

The Big Book of Parenting Solutions is available now for advance orders — on online stores or at Amazon.

Follow Michele Borba on Twitter @MicheleBorba
Congrats Michele!

Sue Scheff: Is Your Teen Sitting in Front of the Computer All Day?

Sarah Newton's Blog and Podcasts at Gen Y Guide has some great parenting information for parents today and the technology our kids are using! We need to try to stay ahead of our kids - it is summer - check this Blog out - I am sure many can relate!
Sick of your child sitting in front of the computer all day?
By: Carol McNaughton via Sarah Newton (check out the Gen Y Website!)

Let’s face it, there is always plenty to do during the summer holidays. That isn’t the challenge. It is finding something our kids, especially teens, would rather do than sitting in front of the computer. When every suggestion is met with, “Boring!” what can a parent do? With two teens and a nine year old at home I know exactly where you are coming from and how difficult this can be. Is there a solution? Definitely!

Let’s take a quick look at our children’s generation, Generation Y or The Milleniums, to see who and what we are dealing with.

Research has shown that Gen Y are:
• Technologically brilliant
• More globally orientated
• Ethnically diverse
• Better educated
• Socially tolerant
• Environmentally conscious
• Volunteer in record numbers

All positive attributes but you may still be thinking, “All well and good but how on earth do I get them off the computer and out doing something?” Firstly, we need to make our young people part of the solution. Secondly, we need to engage them from their point of view rather than trying to get them to see or do things from ours.

Our techno savvy children approach many areas of their lives via the net. If they need to get information for a school project, they check it out on the net. If they want to contact friends, they do it over the net. To us at their age, socializing meant face to face contact or talking over the phone. Gen Y may still do this but they are also constantly communicating with friends over the net through social networking groups or msm. If we want to engage our young people we must accept that computers are an integral part of their lives and use them in creative ways to connect with our young.

With a little encouragement we can get our young adults out and about, even with the rest of the family. The best way to start is to have a casual conversation, possibly over dinner, about up coming plans. “What has everyone got planned for the summer holidays? What would you like to do?” Younger siblings will usually start talking first while your teens may just roll their eyes or say nothing. If your teen doesn’t respond ask, “Is there a sport or art you’d like to try?” Still no positive response, ask everyone, “What could we do on rainy/sunny days?” or “How about….?” Keep brainstorming different ideas without censoring. When ideas start to slow down suggest topics or themes such as historical sites, volunteering, music etc. Some of the ideas will be suitable for the whole family but others will be individual pursuits. The idea is to open up the conversation and plant “idea” seeds in their minds.

“Where else can we find out what’s happening during the summer?” will help children focus on other resources such as magazines, newspapers and the net, sports centres, and helps encourage independent thinking which is so vital in school. In these tougher economic times, asking for “cheap day out” activities can help children understand the value of money and they often come up with some wonderfully creative ideas. How about an all day pajama party for the family with movies and popcorn? Or get your children to cook dinner? Give them a budget; let them create the menu, do the shopping, cooking and table preparation. It could become an enjoyable family tradition. Setting a budget and challenging a teen to plan a family day can also be very effective and fun.

It is always a good idea to plan some down time so everyone can just kick back and relax. Unscheduled time is so important especially for children who are normally over scheduled. It gives them an opportunity to experience boredom and learn how to entertain themselves. For your teens that downtime might mean spending time on the computer catching up with friends. And that’s ok. It’s all about balance.

In our house we have planned our summer visit back to the UK as a family. One evening we sat around the dining table with laptops on researching hotels, local attractions as well as planning our route. It was great to see each child involved and making, and of course rejecting, ideas. Will everything go as planned? No. Will everyone be happy with each choice made? No. However, as each of the children was involved in the whole process they are more likely to give and take, and participate even in activities they don’t particularly like.

Getting our children off the computer may mean getting them on it more in the beginning. Making the computer your friend rather than the enemy and getting your techno savvy Gen Y to help to do research on the net will give you a greater chance of getting them outside enjoying all that summer has to offer.

Carol McNaughton Ho is the creator of Fusion Parenting. Through coaching and consulting she helps parents prepare their children to face the ever shrinking world as responsible, independent young adults who are motivated, have a voice and a strong cultural identity. Carol can be contacted at

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teen Runaways

One of any parent's greatest fears is a missing child.

Each year, one million troubled teens from every social class, race and religion run away from home. Unfortunately, for American families, that number continues to rise.

Confused, pressured and highly impressionable teens follow their peers into bad choices. In most cases, runaway teenagers want to escape the rules and regulations of their family and household. Disagreements with parents leave them unhappy and frustrated to the point of rebellion. Naiveté leads them to believe they could survive outside the nest; and dreams of a life without parental guidance, rules and punishment seem ideal.

The dangers of a runaway lifestyle are obvious. Afraid and desperate, teens on the street are easy targets for robbery, rape, prostitution, drug addiction and violent crime. While the official Runaway Hotline cites nine out of ten teens return home or are returned home by the police within a month, any amount of time on the street can change a child forever. Protecting our children from a potential runaway situation is incredibly important; the problem is serious, and the effects are severe.

My name is Sue Scheff™, and through my organization, Parents Universal Resource Experts, I am working to keep America's teens safe. A troubled teenager is a difficult and uphill battle, but you are not alone! As parents, we must work together to educate and support each other through the crisis. The best resource is that of someone who has been there; and at P.U.R.E.™, parents can find the information and support of so many dealing with the same situations.

Are you worried that your troubled teen will run away from home? We have compiled some of the most helpful resources on teenage runaways.

Looking for support or professional help? Visit our website, Help Your Teens. Our consultation service is free of charge and available to any parent seeking help. You are not alone!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teaching Pre-Teens About Technology

Tangerine Times founder has written a very timely Blog about the distressing news of kids and sexting/texting. Please take the time to become an educated parent and proactive in keeping your kids safe not only online, but with their cell phones.
By Myrna L.

This summer I’ve been working to expand my abilities into the video world. I was interviewed by a educational film maker about Social Media and teens (I will write more about this later). And, I’m excited to be part of a new video series about technology and kids (more on that later too). I’m also working on including a video component to my site which requires a little time and patience, both of which I’m in short supply lately due to our move. That said, I am excited to find new avenues to talk about teenagers and particularly their use of technology.

What Do YOU Know?
Frequently I get asked advice or “what do you wish you had known?” questions from parents of younger children. They are wisely looking to parents with older children for some guidance on issues surrounding technology use. Parents with children between the ages of 8 - 10 have a particularly important task. This is the age group (I think) that becomes strongly interested in personal technology but has the least maturation and ability.

Terrifying Texts
When I saw this interview with a ten year old girl who received terrifying texts, it made me even more resolved to engage parents of pre-teens in the discussion of technology use. The age-old “chain letter” has taken on a whole new life in the form of text messages. The pre-teen recipients just aren’t old enough to put the messages in perspective and are frankly, freaking them out. How do the messages reach these kids? One way is via the computer. It’s easy enough to send text messages via the AT&T, Verizon or T-Mobile website (so the cell number isn’t traceable). Granted, these messages are spam but the affect on the kids is still the same. It feels real to them. You can tell that by watching the ten year old girl in the interview.

Raising Good Cyber-Citizens
Parents of pre-teens can start by identifying technology use as a teachable skill that is something to be added to the parenting “list”. We teach our kids table manners, personal hygiene, how to study and how to treat other people - don’t we? This is simply one more teachable skill we need to add to our parenting duties. More work you say? It’s true, but if we don’t add “Raising Good Cyber-Citizens” to the list of parenting jobs, it may be our own kids that end up on the receiving end of technology gone bad.

Specific Tips for Safe Texting for Pre-Teens
If you are determined to get a cell phone for your pre-teen, start by making sure it is the simplest device possible. Try to avoid “loaded” or “smart” phones that have multiple capabilities. It’s hard enough keeping tabs on the “voice” part - if you want them to have texting capability - get ready to monitor it. It’s a lot of work. And, it can get really out of control FAST. Add features as the child matures and they demonstrate their “techno-skills”. I’ll write about how to buy a cell phone, when to buy and what features in a future post. For now, here’s some tips for if your pre-teen already has a phone with texting capabilities:

•Remind your child to send only appropriate texts and pictures (an inappropriate picture would be one that showed body parts that are normally covered by a swimsuit)
•Upon purchase of the phone, sign up for a call blocking program with your phone company (you can add this later if you forgot when you initially bought the phone)
•Tell your kids NOT to give their cell phone number freely to people they don’t know well. Teach them to guard their personal information and not divulge things like phone number, address etc to people they don’t know or where other people might overheard.
•Tell them not to respond to texts from people they do not know. This is hard for kids because they think it’s a friend of a friend. After all, texting and social media are designed for building groups and communities. They are meant (ideally) for older, more mature people who understand that a friend of a friend is NOT my friend.
Just some thoughts to get you thinking.
Follow TangerineTimes on Twitter at @BBerryMom

Friday, July 17, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teen Driving

by Anita M. Smith, Vice President, the Institute for Youth Development Source: The Institute for Youth Development

It's one of the few rites of passage in the American culture. A time of exhilaration for teens, a mixture of relief and dread for parents. And no matter how intense the anticipation or anxiety, it is an inevitable step for both parents and teens - teen driving.

While many teenagers can't wait to sit behind a steering wheel signifying more independence, many parents try to delay handing the car keys to their son or daughter. This step is fraught with emotions and can quickly become a less than positive experience for both parents and teens.

While nothing will solve all the issues or salve all the emotions related to teen driving, some common sense approaches by parents can help assure their children's safe transition through this period. Whether your children are toddlers or teens, consider the following ideas:

1.Decide on your approach to teen driving and talk about it with your children long before they reach permit age. This enables parents to set the limits without the pressure of having to make quick decisions, and the children to know what their limits will be once they begin to drive.

2.Model good driving habits daily. Children, young and old, imitate their parents' behavior-good and bad.

3.Try not to tie the driving permit stage to reward or punishment. A driving permit is for the purpose of training and learning what will help teens become better drivers. Restricting that time, or cutting it short, as punishment may get your child's attention, but it will also cut short his or her opportunity to learn safe driving habits with another adult-usually you-sitting beside them.
4.Pay attention to studies that offer guidance for teen driving limits. Research shows that the following factors are keys to teen road safety:
•Driving at night puts inexperienced drivers at risk. Teen accident rates increase after 10 p.m., and even more dramatically after midnight.
•The more passengers in the car, the greater the risks for the young driver. The likelihood of a 16-year-old carrying one passenger being killed because of an accident are 39 percent higher than those driving alone; 86 percent higher for those carrying two passengers and 282 percent greater for those with three or more passengers. Results were similar for 17-year-old drivers.
•Younger drivers are more likely than more mature drivers to drive when drowsy.
5.Learn the laws in your state, but beyond that base the limits you set on your teen's driving on expert advice and common sense, not what other parents are doing.

•More than 20 states have enacted a graduated licensing system that begins with a learner's permit at age 16, through a provisional permit and license with restrictions, to an unrestricted license at age 18 based on the youth's meeting all the test, supervised driving, and other requirements.
•At least 10 states restrict the number or age of passengers who can ride with new teen drivers.
•At least 28 states have driving curfews, most beginning at midnight, although New York imposes a 9 p.m. curfew on drivers under age 18.

6.Underage drinking is a problem common to all areas of the country, as is substance abuse. Explain as often as necessary how your zero tolerance plan works. There is no such thing as a teenage "designated driver." Not only should your teen not get near alcohol, but neither should anyone who rides in their car.

Parents who take the time to thoughtfully prepare for this important stage of their children's lives, will help ensure that their young people not only understand the rules of the road, but they are also ready for the road.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sue Scheff: Stop Medicine Abuse - Teen Drug Use

Recent studies among middle and high school aged kids across the country show a disturbing form of substance abuse among teens: the intentional abuse of otherwise beneficial medications, both prescription (Rx) and over-the-counter (OTC), to get high.

Teens who learn a lot about the dangers of drugs from their parents are half as likely to abuse drugs.

According to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, one in five teens reports having abused a prescription drug to get high. Where OTC medicines are concerned, data from the Partnership for a Drug-Free America indicate that one in 10 teens reports having abused OTC cough medicines to get high, and 28 percent know someone who has tried it.

The ingredient the teens are abusing in OTC cough medicines is dextromethorphan, or DXM. When used according to label directions, DXM is a safe and effective ingredient approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and is found in well over 100 brand-name and store-brand over-the-counter cough medicines. When abused in extreme amounts, DXM can be dangerous. was developed by the leading makers of OTC cough medicines to build awareness about this type of substance abuse behavior, provide tips to prevent it from happening, and encourage parents to safeguard their medicine cabinets. Substance abuse can touch any family: The key to keeping teens drug-free is education and talking about the dangers of abuse.

Learn more at - it is important to be an educated parent!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teens Wrapped in the Web

In today's society, the Internet has made its way into almost every American home. It is a well-known fact that the web is a valuable asset for research and learning. Unfortunately, it can also be a very dangerous place for teens. With social networking sites like Myspace and Friendster, chat rooms, instant messaging, and online role-playing video games, our children are at access to almost anyone. Sue Scheff, along with Parent's Universal Resource Experts™, is tackling the dangers of the web.

Keeping tabs on our teens' online habits doesn't just keep them safe from online predators. More and more parents are becoming wary of the excessive hours their teens spend surfing the web, withdrawing from family, friends and activities they used to enjoy. Internet Addiction is a devastating problem facing far too many teens and their families. While medical professionals have done limited research on the topic, more and more are recognizing this destructive behavior and even more, the potential mental effects it can have.

Though the web is a great place for learning and can be safe for keeping in touch, it is important that families understand the potential risks and dangers to find a healthy balance between real and virtual life.

The Basics: The Dangers of Teen Internet Addiction
It’s clear that, for teenagers, spending too much time online can really deter social and educational development. The Internet world is such that there is always something new to do and to distract one from one’s responsibilities. We all do it- take ten minutes here or there to explore our favorite gossip or sports site. There is nothing wrong with using the Internet as a tool for research, news, and even entertainment. After all, the World Wide Web is the world’s most accurate, up to date resource for almost any type of information.

But as the Internet evolves and becomes more tailored to the individual, it grows increasingly easier to develop a dependency on it. This is especially true for teens- a group that tends to be susceptible to flashy graphics and easily enticed by the popularity of social networks. In a sense, the Internet is the new video game or TV show. It used to be that adolescents would sit in front of the TV for hours on end operating a remote, shooting people and racing cars. Now they surf the web. Teens are impressionable and can at times be improperly equipped to handle certain situations with a degree of reason and rationality. And although they may have good intentions, they might be at risk of coming across something inappropriate and even dangerous.

Sexual Predators
We’ve all heard the stories about children entering chat rooms who end up talking to someone older than them who may be looking for something more than merely a chat. These tales may sound far-fetched, or to some, even mundane, because of the publicity they’ve received, but as a parent it would be rather foolish to dismiss them as hearsay or as something that could never actually happen to your child. The fact is, these accounts of sexual predation are all too true and have caused some families a great deal of strain and fear. Even pre-adolescents have been known to join chat rooms. The reality is that there is no real way of knowing who might be in one at any given time. An even scarier thought is that these forums are often sexual predators’ main source of contact with young children. In fact, the popular TV show, [To Catch a Predator (], employs someone to pose as a teen and entice these sex offenders. The show profiles the interactions between them all the way up until the actual meeting. Some of the situations portrayed are horrifying. If you’re the parent of a teen or pre-teen, make sure to monitor Internet activity with regards to chat rooms and educate your child on the potential dangers they present.

Sensitive Subject Matter
Human curiosity is perhaps at its peak during one’s teenage years. That curiosity is what aids teens in the growth and development process. It’s necessary for survival as an adolescent and can provide for some great discoveries and maturation. However, teen curiosity can also potentially lead a person into some questionable situations, and the Internet is a prime medium through which to quell one’s inquisitiveness. Let’s face it- teenagers are anxious to be knowledgeable about topics such as sex, drugs, and other dangerous subject matter.

Talking to your teen about these sensitive subjects before he or she has a chance to search online can be a great way to allay his or her need to surf the web for more information. The Internet might be an excellent tool for presenting interesting data, but it can also grossly misrepresent certain issues. If a teenager wants to learn about sex or drugs via the web, he or she might decide to do a search containing the words “sex” or, perhaps “marijuana.” The results your child might find may not necessarily be the type of educational, instructive material you’d hope they would receive. The Internet may be savvy, but one thing it’s not capable of doing is knowing who is using it at any given time and how to customize its settings. Talk to your children about subjects you feel are important before they have the chance to find out themselves. You never know what they might come across.

Limited Social Growth
There is no better time to experience new things and meet new people than during one’s teenage years. Getting outside, going to social gatherings, and just having a good time with friends are among some of the most productive and satisfying activities in which teenagers can engage. While the Internet can provide a degree of social interaction, online networks and connections cannot replace the benefits of in-person contact. Teen Internet Addiction is dangerous because it limits a person’s options when it comes to communication. Much of learning and growing as a teen comes from the lessons one learns through friendships, fights, disagreements, trends, popularity, etc.

The Internet has made it all too easy for teens to recoil from the pressures of adolescence and remain indoors. The lure of the web can often make it seem as though social networks and online gaming are acceptable substitutes for real life. Teens can find acceptance in chat rooms and message boards, while at school they might be complete outcasts. It’s easy for teenagers to rebuff the idea of interacting with their peers and risking rejection when the Internet can provide for a seemingly relaxed environment. Children need to know that Internet addiction and reliance on online forums will only stunt social growth and make life much more difficult in the future.

Sedentary Lifestyle
Internet dependency also inherently promotes a lifestyle that is not conducive to exercise and physical activity. Many teens tend to become so enthralled in games or chats that peeling them away from the computer can prove to be an ominous task. The entertainment the Internet can provide often trumps the option to leave the house and get exercise. Parents should encourage their teens to use the Internet for school projects and some degree of entertainment, but they should also limit the time that they are allowed to spend on the computer. Begin supporting your child’s involvement in sports teams at an early age and make outside activities fun and interesting. The earlier a child is introduced to the mental and physical benefits of outside activity, the more likely he or she is to avoid inside amusements such as the Internet, TV, and video games.

Nowadays it seems our whole lives can be conducted via the Internet. We can order, purchase, and have groceries delivered all with the click of a few buttons. We can play games, talk to people, find dates, and even attend AA meetings online. The Internet may have made our lives and their day-to-day processes exponentially easier to accomplish, but by the same token it has also increased our dependence on the advantages it can provide. The convenience it creates has been known to cause some people to recoil from outside situations, opting to conduct as much business as possible from home. We must be careful of this trend, especially with teenagers, for whom positive (and negative) social interaction help to form valuable personality and wisdom.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sue Scheff: Programs through Partners in Education for At-Risk Youth

The Army National Guard’s Partners in Education program connects schools, teachers, and students with free Army National Guard educational resources, from classroom presentations to programs for at-risk youth. Classroompresentations can be requested online, and topics include:
Partners In Education (, a dynamic, interactive presentation that takes students through the steps needed to prepare for life after high school.

HUMVEE School Program (, a unique, hands-on opportunity that informs students about technical career directions while offering an up-close and personal look at the high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle.

YOU CAN School Program (, an award-winning program that offers more than 30 motivational presentations organized into the following categories: health and social well-being, life betterment,discovery, and disaster preparedness. It introduces students to necessary life skills in order to let them know that they can have successful futures and accomplish great things.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sue Scheff: Michele Borba - Is Your Teen Moody or Defiant? Parenting Solutions to Help You Survive and Know When to Worry

Dr. Michele Borba, again has given us an educational and informational Blog - this time about our teens moods and how to survive them! Her new book coming out in September, The BIG Book of Parenting Solutions will offer you literally volumes of great parenting advice!
By Michele Borba

Last year your daughter was so sweet, suddenly she has an “attitude.” Two months ago your son was your best bud, now he treats you like you’re totally “uncool.” Welcome to the world of parenting a teenager. Throw out any of those child-rearing manuals you’ve used in the past. To survive this age group and come out sane you need a whole new parenting perspective. Mark Twain offered one of most ingenious solutions: “Put them in a barrel,” he said, then and nail it shut until they turn nineteen. Only then should you let them out.” Here are a few more realistic (and legal) tips from my book, The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries that might help you save your sanity and stay connected with your teen. The last tip is critical: It will tell you when to know your teen’s behavior is not typical and you should worry and seek help.

1. Know teens are a little bit crazy. If you think you suddenly have an alien in your midst, applaud yourself. You right. At no other time in your teen’s life will his body be undergoing so many physical, sexual and emotional changes. And you’re not imagining that those mood swings: Your teen’s quick-fire emotion switches show up on brain scans. So a big parenting solution is to alter your parenting response to this new kid you have on your hands.

2. Get educated! You’ve read all those baby books and mastered child development 101. Make sure you know about normal teen development as well. The more you understand typical adolescent behavior, the better you’ll be at tailoring your parenting to this “new tenant” of yours. My favorite two books in the teen category are: Get Out of My Life, but First Could You Drive Me & Cheryl to the Mall: A Parent’s Guide to the New Teenager, REvised and Updated by Anthony E. Wolf Ph.D., and Yes, Your Teen Is Crazy!: Loving Your Kid Without Losing Your Mind, by Michael Bradley.

3. Don’t overreact. Teens experience feelings more intensely and often overreact because they think we’re upset or angry. So trying counting to three (at least) before talking to a moody or defiant teen. Stay calm. Lower your voice. Clarify emotions: “Are you thinking I’m mad because I’m not.” Or take a time out: “I need a moment to get it together.”

4. Don’t take it personally. Teens will be more defiant and will take issue with things they don’t consider fair. They will argue. In a few years they’re going to be out on their own and their need to be “independent” or at least treated as an adult are paramount. Once the tsunami is over and the waves are calm, do try and reconnect with your teen. Forgive and forget. Move on!

5. Empower your teen. Whenever appropriate (and whenever you’re willing to accept his verdict), ask his opinion. “Where should be the rules for the car?” “What should be the consequence if you break curfew?”

6. Pick your battles carefully. Choose what is not negotiable. You don’t want to argue every little issue, so select issues you really do care about and won’t deviate from. Then let those other more minor issues go. For instance, my girlfriend finally decided to forego trying to get her son to clean up his room because it caused too much friction between them. Once she did she discovered half the battles stopped but she stood her ground on curfew. Figure out what really matters and stay true to those issues. For instance: Obeying curfew is your major; cleaning her room is your minor. Read: Stop Negotiating With Your Teen: Strategies for Parenting Your Angry, Manipulative, Moody or Depressed Adolescent, by Janet Sasson Edgette.

7. Find a common connector–anything! Finding ways to stay connected and involved in your teen’s life is your goal. If your son loves to work out, go to a gym with him. If your daughter wants to learn to cook, review cookbooks together. If she pulls away from you and wants to only be with her friends (that’s normal!), what about starting a Mother-Daughter book club with her best friends and a few moms? National surveys say our teens do want us in their lives and need our guidance. The key is to find the balance between being too involved and backing away too much. Read: Staying Connected to Your Teenager: How to Keep Them Talking to You and How to Hear What They’re Really Saying, by Michael Riera.

8. Use “too” as your worry index for when you should worry. Your teen will sometimes be moody, defiant, lazy, sleepy, and secretive. And those behaviors are to be expected. But when do you worry that your adolescent’s behavior is more than just raging hormones? Here’s the formula I tell parents to use:

•Identify your teen’s normal. Tune in and watch a bit closer until you can get a pulse on what’s typical for your teen.
•Expect some behavioral changes. Hormones, cognitive changes, normal teen angst, school stress, worrying about the future, body image, peer pressure are just a few factors that affect your adolescent on or daughter.
•Worry when “too” comes into the mix. When you recognize that your teen is too moody or too defiant or too unfocused (etc) for his normal self. And that atypical change lasts too long. Something else may be contributing to this new behavior (drugs? alcohol? depression?) and it may be time to seek professional help.
•Use your gut instinct. No one (no one!) knows your teen better than you. So when in doubt, get help. Call a medical doctor to screen your teen for possible depression (1 in 12 teens will have a serious episode of depression this year!) Irritability, loss of interest, and depressed mood that lasts everyday for two weeks are signs of depression. Sixty percent of depressed teens are not diagnoses or receiving treatment. Do not wait. Consequences can be serious.

If things do get to the point where you have an out-of-control teen on your hands who you can no longer parent effectiveness, then you need to specific help. Do not wait. If you are considering residential treatment, please read, Wit’s End: Advice and Resources for Saving Your Out-of-Control Teen, by Sue Scheff for helpful hints or visit .

For daily parenting solutions follow Michele on twitter @micheleborba

Dr. Michele Borba is the author of over 22 books including the upcoming Big Book of Parenting Solutions.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sue Scheff: Sexting, Teens and Cell Phones

I think of the title of this article says it all. Parenting today has more challenges than ever before. Being an educated parent will help you protect your teen.


By: Rina Shah, M.D. F.A.A.P
Go to Rina's Home Page
Sexting, Teens and Cell Phones

Recently, I had a 15-year-old girl in my office. We'll call her Emma. She routinely was sexting. She was sexting many young men at the same time.Never heard the term "sexting"? You are not alone.Sexting is sending sexually explicit pictures (of yourself or another) from your computer or cell phone, to another.Teens are doing it all the time.

A study done by the National Campaign to prevent teen and unwanted pregnancy shows that approximately 20% of teens send sexually explicit pictures.

There are some experts who doubt that number. But after having asked my patients over the last month, I can say that most of my teens knew someone who had been “sexting.”

Why do teens send nude or partially nude pictures of themselves? The national campaign to prevent teen and unwanted pregnancy research indicates that some teens send pictures to people they know online (have never met), while other teens send them to people they want to hook up with. Some teens send them to boyfriends or girlfriends and end up with complications, as is the case of one young girl in Cincinnati.

This high school senior sent a picture to her boyfriend. He shared that picture with other friends. Embarrassed and possibly depressed, she ultimately committed suicide, The developmental stages of adolescence include concerns with body image and the very real influence of peers. Certainly, like alcohol and drugs, experimentation is another stage of adolescence. If one teen is doing it, it is likely that another can be pressured to do the same. Even if it were something they would not ordinarily do.

The study above states that approximately 40% of teens feel pressured to send these pictures.Unfortunately, in the wrong hands, the pictures can spread like a bad case of the flu. From one teen to another, from one school to another. After the pictures are sent and re-sent, the photographed child can be left exposed often evolving into a victim of bullying and cyperbullying.

Cyberbullying is a new phenomenon that has risen with the advances in technology.

From a 2007 report the CDC estimates that cyberbullying is still the least common form of bullying. Those numbers are likely to increase with technology rapidly becoming accessible to the masses. The repercussions of cyberbullying include low self-esteem, difficulty at school, and ultimately depression.Legal ramifications have been the most newsworthy complication of sexting. Strictly speaking, sending nude pictures of underage teens is considered child pornography, even if it is sent by the teen.

It is presumed that receivers and re-senders of these pictures also are culpable under current law. But, even so, many courts, schools and law officers are not sure what to do with complaints of sexting.Many parents are opposed to the rigorous laws that hold teens accountable for sending the pictures. A young teen journalist wrote for SF gate, "sexting itself is just not that serious." From a health perspective it can be bad. Depression, legal ramifications are just one of the few problems that come with sexting.

There are the obvious sexual issues related with sexting. Are these teens left vulnerable to sexual predators? Does sexting make them more likely to engage in sexual activity? Are these teens already engaged in sexual behaviour?

The data from the national campaign to prevent teens and unwanted pregnancy seems to indicate that sexting does make them more likely to engage in sexual behaviors.

So who is responsible for the complications of sexting: schools? parents? the law? the websites?

For now, many of these questions remain answered because this is a new phenomenon. Currently, schools and parents are blaming each other. No one quite is sure what to do. For sure, the schools and the parents need to work together in educating the teens.An important message teens need to hear, from schools and parents, comes from the National Campaign to prevent teens and unwanted pregnancy:

1.) Nothing you send is anonymous

2.) Once you click send anyone can get it.

3.) It can be illegal.So what happened to Emma?

She ran away from home with the help of the young adult male who she was sexting. He lived in another state. She stayed with him for a few weeks and engaged in sexual activity with him and another young adult male. She is back at home with her parents, without a cell phone or Internet access. And fortunately, she is without STDs or an unwanted pregnancy.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sue Scheff: Weekly Parenting Tips: How to Spend More Time with Our Kids

Bringing you parenting articles is part of being a Parent Advocate - and recently I discovered More for Kids website that offers great parenting advice, tips and articles. Here is one that I think now, especially during the summer, we need to read and put into action.

Source: More For Kids

Weekly Parenting Tips: How to Spend More Time with Our Kids

People may wonder if kids have gotten off track these days. You hear it all the time from the older generations. They think that kids these days simply aren’t as disciplined and respectful like kids used to be. You may have even noticed a change in your own child’s behavior and have wondered what the problem is.

Before we get too analytical about your child’s behavior—whether bad or indifferent—we have to take a quick peek at our own lifestyle. Lets ask a few questions. Do we work a lot? Do we work too much? How often are we home? How many times have we engaged our child this week?

Everyone's circumstances are different. One thing I am not trying to do is point the finger at anyone by saying its all parents fault that we don't spend more time with out kids. In some cases it may be, but we have to be realistic too. In this economy our bosses are placing more of a demand on us and many parents have to work two or more jobs just to make ends meet. One thing to remember, in times of stress, our kids need us more than ever and we should try everything possible to help keep the connection.

So, do we spend enough time with your kids?
Well, of course there are plenty of great kids in this world, but the world has become a busier place. Everyone works so much that it is hard to just let go, clock out, and get your butt home so that you can spend some quality time with the kids. Sometimes our busy, hectic world reflects in our children. Kids who are listless, have no interests, or who do poorly in school likely have parents who don’t spend much time with them.

It is important to understand that half the battle of winning our kids over and helping them progress through life is just being there for them. They need to see our strengths, see our weaknesses and how we handle different situations. Our kids’ eyes are always on us, and it is up to us as parents, to lead them until they are able to do so themselves.

Here are some great habits to get into when trying in order to help spend more time with our children.
Tip 1: Tell a Tall Tale!
When kids are young, a great idea is to read them a story before bed time. Nothing piques a child’s imagination better than a fantastic tale just before they doze off. There are dozens of good books out there that are perfect for younger kids. If you are feeling froggy, then make some up yourself! Not only does reading to your child before bed excite them, but it also helps them develop comprehension skills. And it’s just flat out fun!

Tip 2: Love Those Outdoors!
When children are very young, try to take them to a park as often as you can in the spring and summer. If you have a family dog then all the more fun! If you live where winter comes once a year, then you can have a great time playing in the snow with your child. Make sure they develop a healthy love for being outside because they will face the lure of video games later in life.

Tip 3: Make Like the Griswolds!
Take regular vacations. Family vacations are certainly difficult but can be fun when they are simple. If you live within driving distance of a beach or camping area, make a b-line for it! Camping can be one of the most economical-type of vacations you can take. Once you purchase the initial equipment then you can go a few times a year!

Tip 4: The Heart of any Family…DINNER!
Having regular meals, better yet, teaching your child how to cook can be a great way to form some good bonding time while you fill your belly. Cooking is a skill that your child will use in the future, and you can ask them a lot of questions about their day while they help you prepare the meal. After your meal, they can help clear the table and develop good work habits at an early age.

Tip 5: Kill the Tube?
Sometimes you just have to turn the TV off and play a board game. Limit their time on the TV and see if they want to work on a craft or plan a special event. Or, if your child insists on watching a lot of TV, get involved with them and try to watch shows you are both interested in and can comment on. Watch the Discovery Channel or one of the many interesting educational shows that are on cable. Avoid the “couch potato” role.

Tip 6: Just Do It!
Put together one night a week where your family spends time completely together. You can play Wii bowling—or just go to the bowling alley—put together a jigsaw puzzle or even settle in for dinner and a movie. Try to find things that can be developed into traditions for your family. These kinds of things will live with your children well into old age and help them set precedents for their own children.

Tip 7: Slam Dunk!
Involve them in sports at an early age. If you are a father or mother and you have any interest in sports whatsoever, then you can really help your child grow by teaching them a game. You can even learn with them as they learn. Imagine coming home from work and tossing ball with your son or showing your little girl the best way to shoot a basketball. It can be a great learning experience for your child and help the two of you bond. Think about all the years you can cheer them on from the sidelines as they go from season to season, growing with you and gaining confidence in themselves.

Tip 8: Get Smart!
The best way to help your child excel in school while spending time with them is to help them with their homework. If you were never good in school yourself, that’s fine, there are still certain techniques you can use to pass on to them. Not only does this allow you some time together, but it eliminates later problems for both you and your child.

Regardless of which tips you are able to pull off, you should see a marked improvement in your child’s behavior just by being there. Don’t allow time to run out for you and your child. Be conscientious of how precious that time with your children is, and make the most of it while you can.