Tryout Tips for Parents: 5 Tips for Helping Your Child Make the Team

By CoachUp

sports-teamAs the upcoming sports season approaches, our throats begin to tighten. Winter and spring sports tryouts are underway, and our children are stressed. Chances are, you’re feeling just as anxious for tryouts as your kids.  Best case scenario, they make the team and happily transition into the regular season, worst case they don’t and they come to you in a whirlwind of emotion that leaves you struggling to find a resolution.

If you’re looking for a more concrete way to improve your child’s skills, CoachUp is a great resource for families looking to hire one in their area. There are a variety of private coaches that will fit your, or your child’s, needs. With experienced instructors from squash to basketball to strength and conditioning, CoachUp coaches are qualified and have all been background checked for safety.

If a private coach doesn’t pique your interest, there are definite steps you can take to help your child make the team. These tryout tips for parents from CoachUp will help guide you through both tryouts and a successful sports season.

1. Rome wasn’t built in a day, put in the prep

Encourage your child to begin practicing on a steady gradient from casual to intense sessions a month before preseason begins. Have them start their practice at about 30 min every other day increasing to an hour or two each day the week before. You shouldn’t put too much pressure on them to be perfect, but do convey that it is important to be well conditioned before the first day. Suggest that they play around with their friends or future teammates. This will help them get a feel for the competition early so that they can assess for themselves how much practice they need to be doing. During the first week, help them ease their nerves by reminding them how much great practice they’ve been doing, they’re ready for this.

2. Eat, Sleep, Play

Sleep and nutrition are extremely important for your child’s well being in the first weeks of preseason. Make sure that your child gets a great night sleep not just the night before the first day, but also the whole weekend before. Help them gear up by preparing healthy meals in the weeks before and during tryouts. Making great breakfasts and nutritious packed lunches during preseason will help take some of the load off your child and show them that you’re there for support.

3. Pencil it in now…not later

Creating a schedule for your child’s sports season seems like an obvious step, but it is an incredibly important one. List all practices, games, team dinners, etc. along with their times and locations. Consider linking up with other parents to make a carpooling schedule and to exchange information in case of emergency. Securing a time effective transportation system for the preseason will take the burden off your child. Children often feel stressed or judged by coaches or teammates when their parents are late or forget an event, so showing them you’ve got it all under control will ease their nerves.

4. Be a good sport, Mom and Dad

Reacting positively to coaches’ decisions, results of a game, or practice schedules will set a good example for your child. Sympathize and suggest alternatives if they are upset, but do not intervene or create unnecessary drama. Obviously there are always special cases, but use your best discretion to pick your battles. Your child will learn from your constructive attitude, which will reflect positively on the playing field.

5.  Put it into perspective

Last but not least, be sure to encourage and motivate your child while putting it all in perspective. Sometimes kids can get overwhelmed with tryouts and overreact. If they perform poorly in a drill or scrimmage, prevent them from wanting to give up by presenting the positive sides. They can make it up the next day, or if not, there’s always next year or other activities. Remind them that you’re proud of them no matter what.

Make tryouts as easy as possible for your children. If you take care of their schedule, meals, and transportation, they can freely focus on their game. Your children will be less stressed and perform their best when they know you’ve got their back, both logistically and emotionally. So here’s to a successful, best case scenario sports season, your children will thank you!

 

About CoachUp

CoachUp is a service that connects athletes with private coaches, believing that private coaching is the secret to reaching the next level in sports + life.  The CoachUp mission is to help change the trajectory of kid’s lives through sports. CoachUp has won numerous awards, including the 50 On Fire “Top 50 Hottest Companies in Boston” and  the Gold Prize at MassChallenge.  Backed by a stellar investment team including General Catalyst, Breakaway Innovation Group, and Founder Collective.

Steering the helm at CoachUp is CEO and Founder, Jordan Fliegel, a young entrepreneur whose passion for sports goes beyond his business. Jordan firmly believes his life was changed when his father enlisted the help of a private coach to step up his basketball game as a teenager.  Fliegel’s experience with private coaching led to a successful academic and basketball career at the college and professional level.  He returned to Boston to start CoachUp and pay it forward by coaching youth basketball players. For more information visit www.coachup.com.

 

Preparing for Back to School

by Major Mom

back-to-schoolCan you believe it’s already time to start thinking about the kids going back to school?  It will be here before we know it.  It’s best to get prepared now to make the transition of going back to school that much easier. Consider implementing one or all of these tips to make this school year the most successful it can be.

  • Establish routines. Summertime tends to be less structured than the school year. Children stay up later, wake later and have less overall responsibility. It’s important to begin setting the school year expectations well in advance to avoid problems with the adjustment. It’s never a good idea to start your new routines on the first day of school. Build up slowly to the new schedule.

  • Create a homework station. It can be helpful to establish a dedicated place in the home where children are expected to complete their homework. Set up the space with the supplies such as pencils, extra paper, dictionary, rulers, crayons, and other items that may be particular to your child’s grade level to help them complete their work efficiently. Having a dedicated space can help train the brain to focus more quickly.

  • Backpack/Out the door station. If there is nowhere to hang a backpack and coat where else is a child supposed to place them but on the floor? Create a small space where children place their items when they return home from school. It can be difficult to get them to use it right away, but if you stick with it and set the expectation far in advance they will eventually do it without thinking about it.

  • Lunch making station. Lunches are much easier to put together when you have everything you need in one place.  Dedicate a drawer or cabinet to everything need for lunches. Include Ziploc bags, plastic utensils, paper sacks, lunch boxes and non-perishable foods to make lunch making a snap.

  • Create a system for all that school paper. Children bring home A LOT of paper!  Be prepared  this year by setting up a sustainable system.

1.      Have an inbox for the paper they bring home daily.

2.      Before paper hits the inbox take 2 minutes to sort through them and decide what must stay and what goes.

3.      Separate action paper (permission slips, etc.) from paper to file (artwork, test grades).

4.      Keep a file folder handy of all action items.

5.      Keep a large tote of paper to file.

6.      Monthly or quarterly spend time with each child going through their tote of paper to file. Decide which items are important to both you and your child. Date the important items (you will forget later!) and toss the rest.

7.      Consider scanning the items you’re keeping to further reduce paper clutter. 

  • Update clothing. Spend time cleaning out clothing drawers and closets. Put away or donate any clothing that is too small or too big. Getting dressed in the morning is much easier for children when their drawers aren’t overflowing with clothes that don’t fit them anymore.

101 Fun Things to Do with Kids This Summer

by Ilene Jacobs, Care.com Contributor

summerSummer may be a time to relax, but tell that to kids who are bouncing off the walls or shrieking “I’m bored” every five minutes. How on earth are parents and nannies supposed to keep kids entertained, active and out of trouble for an entire summer?

The trick is to plan ahead. Brainstorm ideas for things to do now, so you don’t wind up spending the entire summer watching cartoons.

Jill Tipograph, summer expert and founder of Everything Summer, suggests that you: “Take advantage of those bright sunny days and warm summer nights and plan something new a couple of times a week. Outdoor adventures don’t have to be extreme — explore a new neighborhood or walk as a family to get a healthy after-dinner snack.”

Jesse Koller, mom and publisher of the parenting blog Play, Create and Explore, likes to keep kids entertained with crafts. Sheeven holds regular art workshops for local kids. “We have a blast focusing on mostly process art and projects, as well as some sensory activities.”

Start creating your summer bucket list today. If you need inspiration, we’ve come up with 101 things that will keep kids happy — and you sane.

  1. Bake cookies for ice cream sandwiches.
  2. Volunteer at a nature center.
  3. Make a photo journal or a family yearbook.
  4. Have a luau in the backyard.
  5. Visit the beach and collect shells.
  6. Make a fort out of cardboard boxes.
  7. Visit a farmer’s market.
  8. Pick berries at a nearby orchard.
  9. Have a picnic at a state park.
  10. Make ice cream. Tipograph loves using YayLab’s ice cream ball, which you fill with ice cream base and kick around until frozen.
  11. Go canoeing at a local lake.
  12. Build a sandcastle.
  13. Write and illustrate your own book and have it published into an actual hardcover book using IlluStory.
  14. Forget cooking — set up an ice cream sundae buffet for dinner.
  15. Clean up trash at a local park.
  16. Have a backyard campfire…or just use the grill! Roast hot dogs on sticks, pop popcorn and finish off with s’mores.
  17. Stage an A to Z scavenger hunt, where you have to find something that starts with every letter.
  18. Make homemade pizza.
  19. Print out a list of children’s books that have won Caldecott Medals. Visit the local library throughout the summer and try to read as manyas you can.
  20. Go for a walk and then make a collage from nature objects you find along the way.
  21. Take bread to a creek and feed the ducks.
  22. Have a water balloon fight.
  23. Practice your origami skills and make objects to hang from the ceiling.
  24. Go biking on a trail
  25. Interview an older relative about what life was like when they were young.
  26. Plan a picnic at a local park — or in your backyard.
  27. Set up a lemonade stand.
  28. Create salad spinner art: Place circles of paper inside a cheap salad spinner, dab tempera paints on top, cover and spin away.
  29. Practice making interesting shadow puppets and then put on a show with your characters.
  30. Plant a garden of herbs and veggies.
  31. Make a sidewalk chalk mural.
  32. Go ice blocking (sledding) in the grass with a towel-covered block of ice.
  33. Have an outdoor painting party using huge canvases or cardboard.
  34. Visit a fish hatchery.
  35. Plant a butterfly garden with flowers.
  36. Pretend to be pirates for a day — dress up in costumes, plan a treasure hunt and talk like a pirate.
  37. Make an indoor sandbox using colored rice: mix 4 cups of rice with 3 tablespoons of rubbing alcohol and a few drops of food coloring and let dry overnight.
  38. Turn the backyard into a carnival — set up a face painting area and games like ring toss.
  39. Make totem poles out of paper towel rolls and decorate them.
  40. Visit a museum you’ve never been to.
  41. Make a giant hopscotch or Twister game on the lawn (with spray paint) or driveway (with chalk).
  42. String beads into jewelry.
  43. Make a bird house out of Popsicle sticks.
  44. Learn about stargazing and identify as many constellations as possible — see if there are any local astronomy groups for kids.
  45. Create leis with wildflowers.
  46. Go fossil hunting near a lake.
  47. Break out your baseball gloves and start a game, sandlot style.
  48. Make paper boats and race them in a kiddie pool using straws to propel them.
  49. Play mini-golf — or set up a course in your driveway by laying different size containers on their sides.
  50. Make your own colored sand and create sand art.
  51. Get a map of the United States and mark off all the exciting places you want to visit — create the ultimate road trip.
  52. Set up a net and play badminton and volleyball.
  53. Visit an amusement park or water park.
  54. Wade through a stream and search for minnows or tadpoles.
  55. Go zip-lining.
  56. Have a tricycle race at the park.
  57. Investigate an ethnic grocery store and make lunch using interesting spices and kid-friendly international recipes.
  58. Visit a fire station.
  59. Collect rocks and paint them to use as paperweights or pet rocks.
  60. Go roller skating.
  61. Visit a zoo or aquarium to learn about animals.
  62. Run through the sprinklers.
  63. Blend your own smoothie.
  64. Set up a bike wash and raise money for a local charity.
  65. Batter up at a batting cage.
  66. Let kids paint the sidewalk or patio with plain old water and sponge brushes. When their creation dries, they can begin again.
  67. Bake cupcakes in ice cream cones and then decorate them.
  68. Assemble a family cookbook with all your favorite recipes.
  69. Go horseback riding.
  70. Make popsicles in Dixie cups using fruit juices.
  71. Catch fireflies in a jar (and let them go at the end of the night).
  72. Stage your own Summer Olympics with races, hurdles and relays.
  73. Create a backyard circus — kids can pretend to be animals and dress up as clowns.
  74. Decorate bikes and have a neighborhood Fourth of July parade.
  75. Take a sewing/crochet/knitting class.
  76. Make Mexican paper flowers using different colored tissue paper.
  77. Go to a flea market.
  78. Volunteer at an animal adoption organization.
  79. Visit a retirement home and read stories to residents.
  80. Attend an outdoor festival or concert.
  81. Pick a nearby town to visit for the day.
  82. Visit a cave.
  83. Get a map of your area, mark off all the local parks — then visit them, take pictures and vote for your favorite.
  84. Take in a fireworks exhibit.
  85. Make crafts with recyclable items like stickers using old photos, magazines and repositionable glue.
  86. Make your own hard-to-pop bubbles with 1 cup of distilled water, 2 tablespoons of Dawn dish soap and 1 tablespoon of glycerin.
  87. Paint canvas sneakers with fabric paint pens or acrylic paint.
  88. Create three dimensional buildings using toothpicks and mini-marshmallows.
  89. Make bird feeders by covering pine cones with peanut butter and rolling in birdseed.
  90. Paint with ice by freezing ice cube trays with washable tempera paint.
  91. Create unusual s’mores by experimenting with ingredients like cookies, bananas, flavored marshmallows and white chocolate.
  92. Have a fancy tea party.
  93. Make a giant slip-n-slide with a painter’s tarp and shaving cream.
  94. Have a backyard camp-out.
  95. Let kids paint each other with washable tempera paint, then wash it off in the sprinklers.
  96. Visit a national park and help the kids earn a junior ranger badge.
  97. Go to a ballgame and teach your kids (and yourself!) how to keep a scorecard.
  98. Set up a tent in the backyard to use as a summer playhouse.
  99. Take a free kid’s workshop at stores like Lowe’s, Home Depot or Pottery Barn.
  100. Have a game night with charades, Pictionary and bingo.
  101. Take a boring brown paper bag and have kids brainstorm creative things to do with it — you’ll be surprised at how many things you can come up with.

Ilene Jacobs is a Contributor for Care.com (www.Care.com), the largest online care destination in the world.

Celebrate Mother’s Day Creatively

mirrorMother’s Day is almost here! It’s dad’s turn to help the kids get creative to make it a special day for mom. Crayola has some fun and easy ideas that kids of any age can participate in:

 

Greet mom in the morning with a special message on the bedroom window or the bathroom mirror Washable Window Markers. [Craft Details]

Jazz up mirrors. Make dazzling picture frames. With colorful Crayola® Washable Window Markers you can change designs whenever you wish.

1.Could you spruce up a mirror in your house with seasonal or fanciful borders? Or could you transform a plain picture with a decorative edge inside the frame? Check with an adult before you start to make Markered Mirrors.

2.Think up ways to brighten mirrors or picture frames. Some suggestions: Surround a mirror with “Happy Birthday” for a morning surprise. Create holiday decorations such as hearts for Valentine’s Day. Draw a string of colored lights for Christmas. Add an “I love you” border around your picture for a gift. Repeat or embellish designs from nearby wallpaper or clothing in a picture.

3.Use Crayola Washable Window Markers to draw a colorful border around the edge of your mirror or on the glass inside your picture frame.

4.When you are ready for a change of scene, just wipe with a damp paper towel and make a new design.

 

Personalize placemats to decorate the table for a surprise Mother’s Day breakfast/lunch/dinner using Ultra-Clean Washable Markers. [Craft Details]

Place others first and you’ll make someone smile! Show you care by creating a placemat to donate to an agency that provides meals to people who are homeless, elderly, or disabled.

1. There are lots of terrific kids who help others, care for the environment, and make their communities better places to live! What can you do to help others in your community? Here’s a great idea to inspire you: Design a placemat to donate to a service organization, such as one that provides meals for people who may be lonely or unable to leave their homes.

2. With Crayola Scissors, cut cotton or 50/50 cotton/polyester fabric into a placemat. Put on your painting shirt, and cover your work surface with clean paper. Crayola® Fabric Markers stain clothing and surfaces, CLOSE ADULT SUPERVISION IS REQUIRED.

3. Use a ruler and Crayola Fabric Markers to separate sections on the fabric. Each section can be a different size and shape.

4. Create a cheerful design with large and small shapes, colors, or patterns. Add stripes or dots to fill each section with color.

5. Designs must be heat set by an adult so the placemat can be laundered. Set the iron to cotton. Iron on the reverse side using a back and forth motion for 4 minutes. Or put the placemat in the dryer for 30 minutes on the hottest setting.

 

Create a portrait for mom on the sidewalk or in a chalkboard frame using 48 ct. Washable Sidewalk Chalk that provides you with the largest variety of colors.

 

Customize mom’s favorite picture of the family by drawing a picture-frame border with Color Wonder markers that only appear on Color Wonder paper. [Craft Details]

Make memories with this easy-to-make, no-mess frame. Kids can display their own art or photos of themselves, pets, and family members.

1. Decide whether your picture frame will be a gift or for yourself. What picture will you put inside the frame? You could draw one, or ask an adult if it’s OK to frame a photograph.

2. To mark the frame’s four borders, firmly crease its inside edges in a piece of Crayola® Color Wonder™ Paper.

3. With Crayola Color Wonder Markers, draw and color a pattern to make your Bright Borders. What decorations go well with the picture you are framing?

4. Fold the creases in both directions. Carefully tear along the folds to remove the blank center of your frame.

5. Attach your art to the back of the frame with a Crayola Glue Stick. For extra support, glue cardboard on the back.

 

How To Tell When Your Child Is Ready For Music Lessons

By Leila Viss on behalf of www.JoyTunes.com

music-lessonsAlthough not every person is destined to be a concert musician, everyone can be a music maker, enthusiast and supporter. Giving your child the gift of learning music on any instrument is something to treasure, but finding the answers on how to provide this gift is not always easy.

You may be unaware of your youngster’s readiness for making music, but there are some signs that should help you make that assessment. Here are some steps toward unlocking your child’s innate musicality and readiness.

 

How can I tell when my child is ready?

Encourage Exploration

  • Purchase a keyboard instrument (a portable digital keyboard may do the trick but plan to upgrade when lessons begin) and let your child explore sound before enrolling in lessons.
  • Once this exploration begins, notice how your potential musician gravitates and experiments at the keys.
  • Download some music game apps such as Piano Dust Buster 2.0, The Most Addicting Sheep Game or Magic Piano and invite your child to explore. It won’t take long for a youngster to be drawn into these magical games that also teach music fundamentals.
  • If the keyboard and favorite apps receive regular visitation, this is strong evidence that your future maestro is ready to engage in lessons.

Prime the Potential

Some basic skills are involved in learning any instrument and it’s important that these fundamentals are developed before enrolling in lessons.

An ideal candidate for instrumental lessons can:

  • Say and sing the alphabet
  • Count at least to 20
  • Match pitch and sing songs with ease
  • Identify the left from the right hand
  • Cut with scissors
  • Color and draw with markers, pencils, etc.
  • Dance and move freely to music
  • Clap and march with a steady beat

Consider early music education groups, which are perfect for young learners.

How do I know what instrument is right for my child?

The piano is the easiest instrument to begin exploring and eventually making music. Therefore enrolling your child in piano lessons may be a place to begin his/her music education. Once your budding musician is introduced to other instruments in school around 4th or 5th grade a shift in interest may occur.

How do I choose the right teacher?

Referrals from friends and acquaintances are your best bet for a good teacher. If they are happy with a teacher there’s a good chance that you will be as well. Also, ask to arrange an interview with several teachers and you’ll discover that each owns a unique studio. It’s important for you to determine what your priorities are for your child’s music education. Here are some things to consider:

  • Some teachers may excel at preparing students to compete, while others may lean toward a more relaxed approach with fewer opportunities to compete or perform formally.
  • While some may remain set in a traditional approach with standard repertoire others may emphasize lessons in creativity beyond the page and various styles other than classical.
  • Group lessons are a popular social setting which may best suit those who are still on the fence about studying an instrument. Private lessons usually accommodate schedules more easily and offer one-on-one instruction.
  • Music should be shared so ask if the teacher offers encouragement and opportunities to perform, even casually. Although difficult, performing instills discipline, motivation, confidence and good experience for public speaking.
  • Teachers usually use a method book or series to teach an instrument. A good question to ask during your chat with a teacher is “What methods and tools will you use to help my child progress in his/her music skills?”

How do I balance being a supportive parent without becoming overbearing?

Here are a couple of tips to help you maintain a healthy attitude:

1) Some teachers may require you to be present at lessons to take notes so consider this as a free lesson yourself and learn right along with your child. You will realize that building musical skills is a long-term process with peaks, valleys and plateaus.

2) Regardless if you attend lessons or not, it is important for you to remember that this is your child’s endeavor and not yours. Allow your budding musician to:

  • Learn how to learn
  • Read all assignments
  • Take charge and ask the teacher questions themselves when they forget a concept
  • Be responsible for collecting books prior to the lesson, etc.

3) The best support you can offer your child is providing and modeling structure.

  • Make daily practicing a priority so it becomes a habit by setting up a schedule.
  • Instead of setting the timer and demanding practice, ensure that the teacher’s instructions are understood and completed during practice time by reviewing the assignment with your musician. The amount of daily time at the instrument may vary, as consistent practice will make the assignment easier to play by the end of the week.
  • Arrive promptly for each lesson and be on time for pick-up.
  • Show teachers the respect they deserve by following all studio policies and submitting timely payments.

Music lessons are a worthy investment toward a gift that lasts a lifetime. Happy music making!

 

Get Your Children Outside and Moving

girl-outsideThe headline “43 percent decrease in childhood obesity,” has been all over the news lately. But what they aren’t headlining is that this is only in children ages 2-5 years. According to the newest study by the Journal of the American Medical Association, the childhood obesity rate is 17 percent, which has not changed much over the past 10 years.

Sure, cutting down on sugary drinks and snacks may help your child’s health, but the real way to ensure a healthy lifestyle is exercise. Get your child outdoors and moving this spring with this list of activities!

Go Jump

Jumping on a trampoline is an excellent way for you child to have fun while unknowingly burning tons of calories! Jumping for 10 minutes is the cardio-equivalent of running one mile! It may seem like an expensive investment to buy a jump tramp, but the health benefits for your children are vast! We recommend buying a safety net, like these nets by JumpSport, to avoid any injuries while jumping. Is buying a trampoline not quite in your budget? Jumping rope can be just as affective! After 10 minutes of jumping rope, you burn just as many calories as if you jogged for 30 minutes. Check out this list of jump rope rhymes to teach your child to make it fun!

Get Pedaling

Riding a bike is great exercise for kids of all ages. This under-rated cardio workout strengthens the arms, legs and back while giving your heart a workout too. Research shows a 135-pound woman pedaling 12-14 miles per hour burns 488 calories in just one hour—so accompanying your child on bike rides will provide you with a nice workout as well! While bicycling is a great form of exercise, doing so on the streets can be dangerous. Make sure your child stays safe on the roads by always wearing a helmet and equipping their bike with lights, such as Coghlan’s Adhesive Signal Light. Don’t know how to get your child started with biking? Watch this video on children’s biking progression.

Head to the Park

Give your children some outdoor playtime at the park this spring, and exercise will come with it! Thank of all the workouts your child gets: swinging, climbing the monkey bars and ladders, running, even on the teeter-totter! Playgrounds are full of opportunities for your child to burn calories. It can be hard to find time to exercise as an adult. Take advantage of your child’s play time and fit in a workout yourself by following these park exercises!

Start Hooping

Hula Hooping is a great way to get your children exercising without them even knowing it! Hooping for only 30 minutes can burn up to 300 calories! This easy-to-do activity strengthens over 30 core muscles while working on flexibility and balance. Check out hooping.org to see how hula hooping has changed the lives of children and find out more about hooping classes and camps!

Skate Away

Rollerblading/skating is the perfect way to get your kids outside and moving! Just 30 minutes at a steady pace can burn up to 285 calories. Rollerblading improves strength and endurance as well as flexibility and balance. Similar to biking, rollerblading requires safety gear such as helmets, wrist guards and kneepads to keep your child safe! Not sure how to get your child started? Livestrong provides a great how-to teach your child to rollerblade on its blog! If your child is very young and steadily growing, try Fisher-Price’s Grow With Me Inline Skates until he or she has a more stable shoe size. Rollerblade USA’s kids’ skates, such as the Spitfire XT, are made to adjust up to four sizes and features a tutorial on the website on how to adjust them.

Sign Them Up

Whether its swim, dance, basketball, soccer or martial arts—sign your children up! Getting them involved in athletic and aerobic activities from an early age will set the precedent for the rest of your child’s life. Start your child’s active and healthy lifestyles today!

Introducing your child to any of the above activities is great, but make sure you set a good example as well! Stay active yourself and encourage family exercise. According to a study done at the University of Michigan, overweight or obese children have an 80% chance of being overweight or obese as an adult. You can change the outcome of your child’s life right now!

How To Cope With Bullying

by Gail Peterson

Too-Many-Rocks-in-your-Pocket-BullyingThe rise of social media and smartphones has made the impact of school bullying more apparent. A 2012 report from the US Department of Health & Human Services stated that 37% of students reported being bullied in school, and 52% report being cyber bullied.

These statistics are alarming to many, especially parents. As mentors and guardians to our children, we are all looking for tools to make our kids more aware of bullying and better able to handle conflicts with their friends and peers.

The negative feelings associated with being bullied lead to fear and anxiety, as well as a build up of stress. When combined the stress associated with bullying with other stressors (tests, homework, competitive sports, etc.), it becomes difficult for some kids to separate out the causes and find reasonable solutions.

After years of working with stressed and overworked clients and seeing my kids struggle, I came up with a new solution to help kids identify stresses in their life called Too Many Rocks in Your Pocket.

There is a pouch of hand-polished rocks painted with different common stress words that kids experience, such as bully, fear, fitting in, grades, etc.. How it works is by following the instructions to take out the appropriate rock from the bag that best fits the emotion or stress they feel at the time and put that rock in your pocket. Carry that rock around in your pocket for the day. In the case of a younger child, when the parent and kid get home, take the rocks out that have been put in the pocket for the day and open a discussion as to what caused that stress. When as parents we know what causes our kids stress or hurt we are much better equipped to help our kids understand helpful and creative ways to deal with it. What we have found is that children often have a hard time defining emotions such as pressure, fear, fitting-in, etc on their own. The rocks can be a tool to open up a discussion and help find a solution.

Tom Krause, a thirty-year classroom teacher and national motivational speaker in education, said of the rocks, “A wonderful resource for teens to deal with stress is Too Many Rocks in Your Pocket. They are a brilliantly simple and effective tool to help teenagers confront and deal with stress on a daily basis.”

In order for us as parents to effectively use tools such as stress rocks, we must first understand where bullying comes from. I believe, it is safe to say that to some degree our children are products of their environment. a child’s behavior is influenced through family life, school life, social and peer interactions. As a starting point we must first evaluate the home life. Of course the vast majority of us don’t think of ourselves as bullies or abusers, but we must be cautious of the interactions we expose our children to. Do you ever speak disparagingly of a co-worker or relative? Make a joke at someone’s expense? These are the subtle, often innocent behaviors that our children can pick up on and use as a justification to bully someone at school. As far as school and social relationships we as parents have a duty to be involved in our child’s life. Make an effort to talk with teachers in regards to not only grades but classroom interactions. Look for signs of aggressive behavior towards others. Know your child’s friends! Who do they hang out with? Are they positive or negative relationships. Simply put, be involved and know what’s going on when your child is away from home.

As adults it can be easy to blow off the seriousness of bullying. We may think back to when we were kids and say, yeah, I was bullied by a classmate, no big deal it made me build character and I got over it! That was then; the reality today is sadly that teen suicides and school shootings are on the rise, in large part to kids who feel bullied, alienated, stressed, and depressed. As I mentioned earlier, with the much wider availability of electronic communications and social sites it is easier than ever for a child to get ganged up on. Rumors spread in the speed of a click or text to a whole class or school. The days of one on one are gone; imagine being bullied by your whole class! Tom Krause, teacher and motivational speaker say, “Society, in general, has made teenage years more stressful today than it was thirty years ago. Increasing drug usage, suicide attempts, and dropout rates attest to the difficulty many children and teens face.”

I urge all parents to realize the seriousness of bullying and the importance of opening up discussions with their kids, parents of their child’s friends, and teachers. I also urge you to familiarize yourself with your state’s anti-bullying laws. 49 of 50 states have such a law, and there are also federal laws to be aware of. Consider using tools such as Too Many Rocks in Your Pocket to help your kids cope with the stresses of modern life and to help facilitate communication with your child. According to Elizabeth Washburn, a Social Worker and Development Disability Professional, “Tools such as “Too Many Rocks” can assist communication and coping skills because it allows them a verbal prompt that shows the emotion that they are attempting to express. In play therapy, psychologists use similar tools in allowing children to express and identify the target of their pain.” Bullying will never go away, but with consistent and comprehensive involvement by parents, teachers, and others professionals we can help our children develop the skills necessary to appropriately deal with bullying.

Training and Exercise for your Brain
Too Many Rocks In Your Pocket (Kids Series) is designed to help children cope with stress and to open up communication with parents on topics relating to stress and bullying.

How it works: Through research we have found that identifying target words help children open up with adults regarding important issues that may otherwise go unchecked. Through their teenage years – and sometimes beyond – many children lack a firm grasp of the concept of stress and how it affects their lives. When adults use the trigger words on our rocks and ask their children what those words mean to them, it becomes easier for children to recall significant conversations and situations in their lives.

Once you have had a discussion with your child, you are better equipped to help them deal with those stresses. This concept works by allowing children to confront their stresses visually and physically instead of suppressing them or not dealing with them appropriately. It is a tool designed as a step towards identifying stress – not as a solution in and of itself. The concept represents a simple, yet effective approach that practically anyone can learn to use.

Are You Doing Too Much For Your Child?

by Carolyn Daitch, Ph.D

lazy-teenOne of my clients, Katherine, came in yesterday and told me that she was feeling frustrated with her son’s behavior. “Today I asked Evan repeatedly to take out the garbage and he just kept saying, ‘Later, Mom.’ I finally did it myself, but I was so angry and resentful,” she explained. “And it’s not only the trash – it’s more important things, like finishing schoolwork. I do virtually everything for Evan – to the point where sometimes I’m exhausted – and he never seems to take any responsibility himself.”

When I asked Katherine why she continued in this way, she said, “I suppose it’s because I felt my parents never did anything for me…and I don’t want Evan to ever feel that way.”

I replied, “I can see this is hurting you – but do you realize you may be hurting Evan, too?”

Katherine’s overprotective parenting style stems from her own sense of neglect, but there are other reasons parents may overcompensate and feel they must do everything for their child.

Fear of dire consequences can cause a parent to step in, e.g., “If I don’t finish the science project for her, she’ll fail the class and never get into college,” or “If I don’t remind him to get to soccer practice on time every day, he’ll get cut from the team.”

Feelings of anxiety about the world in general can drive parents to take control or indulge their children excessively, in the belief that they can keep their child from ever being hurt or disappointed. For instance, “If I let him walk to his friend’s house alone, he may be kidnapped,” or “If I don’t buy her those expensive jeans, she says she just has to have, the other girls will make fun of her and ostracize her from their crowd.”

Although “do-everything” parents have good intentions, they can actually instill their own anxiety in their child. Parents who hover over and micro-manage their children at school functions or during play dates, because they themselves are uncomfortable in social situations, may create children who will mirror that same unease and apprehension.

Studies have shown that an overprotective parent can harm a child by engendering a lack of self-agency, the feeling that they are the agents that can produce a desired outcome, not the parent. Similarly, overprotective parents impede the development of self-efficacy, the sense that one has the capacity to take effective actions. Individuals with diminished self-efficacy are less resilient to stress and underestimate their own resources.

Children who have everything done for them lose the chance to develop valuable coping skills, to gain self-confidence and to learn to bounce back from failure when necessary.

So, if you catch yourself doing too much for your child, step back and give him or her a chance to learn to be more independent –– perhaps at first with a struggle, but later with ease.  Chances are you’ll both feel better about yourselves.

Carolyn Daitch, Ph.D has been a psychologist in private practice for 30 years. She is the director of the Center for the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders in Farmington Hills, near Detroit. www.anxiety-treatment.com

5 Tips To A Dry Bed

By Renee Mercer, RN, MSN, CPNP & Founder of BedwettingStore.com

 

kid-in-bedThe development of urinary control is a maturational process. Everyone is born wetting the bed. As children grow and develop, so does their ability to control their bladder. Between the ages of 1 and 2, they have a gradual enlargement of bladder capacity and begin to sense when their bladder is full.  When they are 3 and 4, they learn to void, or inhibit voiding, voluntarily.  By the age of 5, the majority of children have an adult pattern of urinary control and the maturation of the bladder is complete.  However, about 20% of children have not  developed  this pattern and are still having bedwetting episodes. As your bedwetting child grows older, chances increase that intervention will stop the nighttime wetting in a few weeks rather than waiting years for bedwetting to just disappear.

 

Although only 3% of children who wet the bed have a medical reason for doing so, it’s important to make sure medical problems aren’t contributing to the wet nights. If your child develops a bedwetting problem, talk to her healthcare provider to rule out medical issues.

 

There are many steps that you can take to stop your child’s bedwetting problem. Here’s a list of some common  methods of eliminating bedwetting, some of which are effective and some that should be avoided:

 

  1. Restricting fluids: This is only effective for about 15% of bedwetting children, since fluid consumption is usually not the cause of the problem. You also run the risk of dehydrating your child. A better way to maintain adequate hydration  is to move overall fluid intake to earlier in the day. Make sure your child avoids caffeinated beverages, milk, and juice before bedtime and encourage him to empty his bladder before retiring. Also, encourage him to double void before bedtime. This means that he should urinate, wait several seconds (about 15), and then urinate again.

 

  1. Punishment: Bedwetting is something that your child doesn’t have control over. Punishing her will most likely lead to poor self-esteem, increased anxiety, and a subsequent continuation of the problem.

 

  1. Waking child or setting alarm clock: This is according to the parent’s schedule and does little to help your child develop the ability to wake up to a full bladder.

 

  1. Drug therapy: DDAVP is a synthetic version of vasopressin (a natural hormone) and is administered as a small pill. DDAVP decreases the amount of urine produced at night and stops wetting in about half of the children who take it. The dosage varies between 1-3 tablets per night. Oxybutinin (Ditropan) is a medication used to treat overactive bladder. This can be helpful in children who experience urgency or frequency in the daytime as well as nighttime wetting. While medications may provide a temporary solution to bedwetting, most children begin wetting once they stop taking them.

 

  1. Bedwetting alarms: Over time, these moisture-sensing alarms can improve your child’s sensitivity to the feeling of a full bladder. Because these devices train your child to recognize a full bladder, their effects will last long after treatment. The alarms’ success rate is higher and relapse rate lower than any other type of therapy. Choose from wearable alarms, pad-type alarms, and  wireless alarm kits at www.BedwettingStore.com. One of the advantages of bedwetting alarm treatment is that, after the first couple of weeks of the parent responding to the alarm and waking the child up, the child should then be better able to recognize the sound of the alarm and the feeling of bladder fullness. When you think he’s ready, encourage him to get up on his own to use the bathroom at the sound of the alarm. If you’re not using moisture-sensing alarms, have your child wear protective undergarments to bed. Disposable pull-ups can be disposed of easily and conveniently, and reusable absorbent undergarments are machine washable and dryable.

 

More About Renee Mercer, RN, MSN, CPNP: Renee Mercer has spent 13 years as a pediatric nurse practitioner in Maryland specializing in helping children achieve overnight dryness. Mercer knows how stressful bedwetting can be for families and how this problem can negatively impact a child’s self-esteem. She founded The Bedwetting Store www.BedwettingStore.com  to share her knowledge and to advise parents on effective treatments to help children stop wetting the bed. She is also the author of Seven Steps to Nighttime Dryness.  In this easy-to-read book, she answers common questions such as “Did I do something to cause this problem?”, “How long until my child outgrows bedwetting?”, “Will my child ever be able to go to a sleepover without worrying?”, and “What can I do to speed up this process?” This book is a must-read for any parent with a child who is struggling with bedwetting.

5 Simple Steps for Better Grades

By Rick and Teena Kamal

 

studyMost parents realize that helping their children set goals is important, but few realize that not all goals are created equal. While some goals can empower children to get better grades and achieve academic success, others can actually discourage children or cause them to become frustrated and overwhelmed.

 

How do you know the difference between a goal that inspires and one that is counterproductive? Here are five steps to help your child create goals that lead to academic and professional success:

 

  1. Inspire Dreams and Translate them into Long-Term Goals – When children are small, they’re often asked what they want to be when they grow up. Parents laugh lightheartedly as their tots talk about becoming ballerinas and astronauts.  As children get older, however, parents too often discourage those lofty dreams. When this happens children can grow complacent and lose their passion for their future. As youngsters enter middle and high school, help them revisit their dreams and begin thinking seriously about their personal and professional goals. Talk to your child about her future openly and without judgment. Allow her to dream as big as she wishes, and encourage her to jot down several long-term goals she hopes to achieve as an adult. Once children see the connection between their dreams and achieving academic success, they’re much more likely to put in the effort to make better grades.

 

  1. Transform Long-Term Goals Into S.M.A.R.T. Goals – An important part of the goal setting process is make sure all goals are S.M.A.R.T. – Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Go through your child’s long-term goal list, and together, decide which goals to keep, which to modify, and which to discard. Then work with this refined list to transform these long-term goals into their short-term S.M.A.R.T. counterparts. Make sure each short-term goal has a definite starting and ending point, so that you child doesn’t fall prey to procrastination.

 

  1. Make an Action Plan for Each Short-Term Goal – Help your child develop an action plan for each short-term goal. For example, if your child has decided that she wants to make better grades in English, then her action plan may consist of tasks such as reading for an hour each day, joining a study group and spending an extra 30 minutes of study time on this subject each night. Post this plan in a place where your child will see it every day, and help her be accountable for completing daily tasks.

 

  1. Monitor Progress and Adjust Goals Regularly – Schedule specific times to review progress and adjust goals as needed. If your child has met a goal on the list, set a new goal to encourage continual progress. If your child is making little progress despite remaining committed to his daily action plan, then you may need to reevaluate how realistic the goal is and modify it accordingly.

 

  1. Reward Success – Be sure to appropriately praise and reward your child’s efforts to achieve her goals. Whether you grant her a special privilege, give her a tangible reward, or simply pat her on the back for a job well done, be sure to take time out from your busy schedule to recognize her triumphs.

 

By following these steps you can help your child stay motivated as he follows his own unique path to success.

 

About the Authors: Study and life skills experts Rick and Teena Kamal founded EduNova to prepare students to lead and thrive in the global economy. They worked with 33 top university education experts and many successful senior executives to produce resources that empower middle school, high school and college students to succeed. Learn more at www.HowToStudyBest.com.