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.

 

Have you had the talk with your daughter? Just 4 Questions can save her life.

by D. Bryant Simmons

datingDating abuse is a reality not often discussed when the topic turns to domestic violence. Adults tend to dismiss the social interactions of pre-teens and teens as puppy love—immature and unequal to the romantic relationships between adults. Well, did you know that one out of three adolescent girls has been a victim of verbal, physical, or emotional abuse from someone they dated?i And nearly half of teenage girls know someone that is dealing with dating abuse.ii What you don’t know about your kid’s relationship with their boyfriend or girlfriend could be the makings of a life or death situation.

Before dating becomes a possibility, before the “first kiss, there are four questions every mother and father should ask their daughter.

1. Do you know what makes you special?
Ignore her awkwardness and wait patiently for a real answer. The goal is not for her to state the obvious, that she’s tall or athletic or has a decent head of hair. The answer has to be more than skin-deep. Affirm the qualities that she’s recognized and add a few of your own. Give her examples. Remember the time that you….I was so proud because….

2. When you start dating what rights do you have?
She has the right to end the relationship at any time. She has the right to withhold consent for anything at anytime. If she doesn’t think of these rights describe situations where she would want to enact these rights to help her understand each one. Then restate the rights in a concise manner like above.

3. When dating what responsibilities do you have? To yourself, to the other person, and to your family?
This is your opportunity to lay out any rules you may have and dispel any dating myths. For instance, if a date spends a lot of money on you, then you owe him….

4. How do you set boundaries and how do you respond when someone disrespects those boundaries?
State clearly and explicitly what you expect and why at the beginning of a relationship. Have a no-tolerance policy regarding your physical and mental safety. No-tolerance means no second chances. If someone crosses the line tell your best friend, your parents, someone who cares about you. Ask for their support. Then report the person to the authorities. Do not let them get away without legal consequences and a permanent record. End all contact with the person.

You may have doubts about bringing law enforcement into this. We are talking about adolescents and teenagers here, right? They’re young. They can still change. Well, people do not change their behavior when the behavior doesn’t result in significant consequences. Here’s some more food for thought. If it happens again, this time to a different girl, and this time he goes even further the police will have to take it seriously. His parents will have to take it seriously because now we’ve established a pattern.

Encouraging a no-tolerance policy is the only way to say unequivocally to our girls, “That is unacceptable. You deserve better.” And have them believe it.

5 Things To Discuss Before Your Teen Heads Off To College

talking-with-momCommunication between college students and parents is key. Here are five important things to talk about before your teen leaves home:

The Budget

One of the biggest potential sources of family conflict is the college student budget. Whether you are funding your child’s education, or expecting him to come up with the money himself, your child will need to be on the same page. If your financial assistance will be limited, it’s important to explain what help you can provide and how it will be distributed. Plan to deposit five hundred dollars a month to help out? Say so. Don’t expect your child to intuit your financial plan.

Parents often promise to pay for college in full, but may not define their expectations clearly. Maybe you have been saving since your child was a toddler, but how to you plan to disperse the funds? What if the savings won’t be enough to cover living expenses all four years? Paying for college extends well beyond tuition.

Points to consider:

·      Who will pay living expenses? Will those be paid directly by parents, or will money be deposited in an account for the student to use to pay bills him/herself?

·      How will food, transportation, and clothing be paid for?

·      What about the cell phone?

·      Will parents pay for health care?

·      Who will pay for extras?

The Timeline

College isn’t always four years of coursework. Some students extend time in college because their programs last five or more years. Some change majors. Others take it slowly for the first couple of years.

If your plan is to fund college for your child, does your strategy take these things in to account? Is there a time limit to your financial support? How about your patience? Are you prepared to pull the plug if your child is on the seven-year plan? If so, maybe she needs to hear your thoughts ahead of time, so she can find a part time job or pick up the pace.

Crisis Situations

Medical or mental health crisis: Record numbers of college students are seeking mental health support according to recently published studies. Common mental health related causes for leaving college include: depression, anxiety, panic attacks, excessive drinking, and drug use. Are there medical or psychiatric issues that might prevent your college student from completing school uninterrupted? If so, under what circumstances might you need to bring him home? Does he know when to ask for your help?

Academic Crisis: Do you have a plan for failing college grades? Most paying parents won’t want to continue writing checks unless kids are producing passing grades. Have you discussed your views with your soon to be college student?

Breaks From School

Some parents express frustration when kids arrive back home during college breaks, dump their laundry next to the washing machine, and flop down into bed for the duration of the school break. If your son or daughter is home on break, do you expect him or her to help around the house? Work a summer job? Be up and at ‘em by nine every morning and in bed before midnight? Whatever your expectations, be certain to spell them out before the first academic break begins.

Plan B

Recent statistics estimate that almost half of college enrollees drop out before completing a degree. No parent sends a kid to college hoping she’ll drop out, but with estimated dropout rates so high, all parents and new college students should discuss alternative strategies in case college doesn’t work out.

 

Dr. Melissa Deuter is a psychiatrist in San Antonio, TX who specializes in the care of emerging adults. www.MelissaDeuter.com; @MStenDeut

 

7 Critical College Savings Questions Parents Should Ask

By Pamela Yellen

Paying for college without spending your life’s savings is one of the biggest challenges families face today. Many folks feel they must choose between saving for their children’s education and saving for retirement.

But what if there were a strategy that allowed you to do both? This is one of the advantages of the savings method I call Bank On Yourself. It uses specially designed, super-charged dividend-paying whole life insurance policies that grow by a guaranteed and pre-set amount every year. More than 500,000 Americans are using this method, many to simultaneously save for college and retirement.

In researching hundreds of savings strategies, I found this method be superior to traditional college savings plans, such as 529 college savings plans, UGMAs, UTMAs and student loans, for a number of reasons. Here are seven questions to ask when considering the best way to pay for college:

1. Do you have full control over how and when the money is used? With limited exceptions, you can only withdraw money that you invest in a 529 plan for eligible college expenses without incurring taxes and penalties. With UGMAs and UTMAs you lose all control the day your child legally becomes an adult. Student loan proceeds are paid directly to the college, so you have no control. The Bank On Yourself method gives you complete control.

2. Can you avoid having the funds count against your kids when they apply for federal student aid? Student loans and the cash value in a Bank On Yourself plan are not considered as assets. But the money in your 529 plan is counted as your asset, and UGMAs and UTMAs will be treated as your child’s assets. Having these assets will likely penalize your child when they apply for need-based financial aid.

3. If my child earns a full scholarship or decides to be an entrepreneur instead of going to college, can the money be used for non-educational purposes? The answer is “no” with traditional college savings plans; “yes” with the Bank On Yourself method.

4. Can I use the plan beyond college? The Bank on Yourself method allows you to use your savings however you choose. With 529 Plans, there’s the “Gotcha” of taxes and penalties. With UGMAs and UTMAs the money is not yours – it’s your children’s, and they can use it for whatever they want. Student loans can extend beyond college, but in a bad way – these loans can haunt the student for decades.

5. Are there tax benefits? With 529 Plans you may be able to get a state income tax deduction for your contribution, depending on where you live and the plan you choose. If the money is used exclusively for college, the gains in your plan, if there are any, can be tax-free. Gains in UGMAs and UTMAs can be taxed at the minor’s tax rate instead of yours, so that may save you some money. With student loans, there may be a state income tax interest deduction, depending on your income. With the Bank On Yourself method, you can take money at any time, and for any reason, and it’s possible under current tax law to do so with no taxes due.

6. What happens with my plan if I die prematurely? This is an important question, and unfortunately it’s one most families fail to ask. Among these college savings plans, only the Bank On Yourself method comes with a death benefit that allows your savings plan to “self-complete.”

7. Is growth of money in the plan guaranteed? In a 529 Plan, absolutely not.

With UGMAs and UTMAs, probably not, since most families put the money at risk in the stock or bonds markets. With student loans, the only thing guaranteed to grow is the debt, if interest payments are deferred. With the Bank On Yourself method, growth of principal is predictable and guaranteed.

This method also offers a great way for grandparents to contribute. My husband and I have done this for our two grandchildren, who are now 10 and 12. The plan we set up for our grandson is projected to provide about $90,000 for his college education expenses by the time he graduates, based on current dividends. Our granddaughter’s plan is projected to have a value of about $125,000. And if either of them decides to become an internet entrepreneur, rather than go to college, the money could be used to help fund their dream.

About the Author: Financial security expert Pamela Yellen is author of the New York Times best-selling book, The Bank On Yourself Revolution: Fire Your Banker, Bypass Wall Street, and Take Control of Your Own Financial Future. Pamela investigated more than 450 financial strategies seeking an alternative to the risk and volatility of stocks and other investments, which led her to a time-tested, predictable method of growing wealth now used by more than 500,000 Americans. For more information, visit www.BankOnYourself.com.

How Do You Know When You Are Done Parenting?

5 Categories to Assess Your Child’s Wellbeing

By Erick Lauber, Ph.D.

the-family-unitFor many parents, when their children enter the teen years, things get more confusing. When the kids were younger it was kind of easy, or at least simpler. Keep them safe. Make sure they eat healthy.  Let them know they are loved, etc…

But when the kids are teens, “good parenting” gets harder and harder to define.  Are you supposed to step in and fight their battles for them, or hang back and let them figure it out on their own? Can you prevent heartbreaks or must you only provide counseling afterwards?  And does anyone know exactly what do to about sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll?  When are you done parenting?

If you survey your friends about this question you might get responses like, “when your children are independent,” or “when they can take care of themselves.”  But how shall we define “independent?”  When are our kids grown up? Does it magically happen one day, perhaps, the day they graduate high school or move out?  Those seem like arbitrary dates and not all kids mature at the same rate, right?

If we focus on what really worries parents, that their children will not grow up happy, healthy and wise, we are lead in a different direction. For example, most – if not all – parents have been focused on taking care of their child’s “future self,” not just the present one.  Responsible parents have been denying their children candy in the grocery aisle, getting them up for school every day, and making a thousand other decisions knowing that these choices will be best for their child in the long run.

So, one answer to our question is “when the young adult starts making decisions that are in the best interests of their future selves, not just meeting their current wishes or needs.”

So what does that look like?  How shall we define a “happy, healthy and wise person” and how will we know when our children are headed in the right direction?

Wellbeing

Fortunately, these questions are somewhat answerable. The Gallup organization has been studying life satisfaction and individual happiness for many, many years.  Their concept of the good life is informed by millions of survey responses and top notch social scientists.  Their results support our intuitive notion that we all want basically the same things.  Gallup has combined these few universals into a concept called “wellbeing.”  When we are doing well in each of these categories, we give ourselves very high scores on wellbeing.

For our purposes, these five categories allow us to break down the question “is our child headed in the right direction?” into five more specific questions.  Our child will do well in life and have high wellbeing down the road if they are taking care of themselves in the areas of career, social, physical, financial and community wellbeing.

  1. Career

The Gallup organization has discovered that the single most important element of one’s wellbeing is a person’s self-evaluation of their career wellbeing.  This question is not about how much money you make, but instead about how much you enjoy what you do on a daily basis. Part of our job as parents is to help our children select and get in to a career they will enjoy.  This doesn’t mean we have to find the right job for them, or even select their college major. It means we have to help our children understand enjoying your work is very, very important.  As they understand themselves better and better, they have to be responsible for making their careers, and thus their lives, enjoyable.

  1. Social

Similarly, we cannot make relationship decisions for our children, but we can pull back on parenting when we can see they are taking care of themselves and their future selves in this arena.  Are they forming strong bonds with people at work or school? Does it look like these relationships will last for years?  Are they able to navigate brief disruptions in those relationships?  Are they forward-looking in their choice of a spouse?

  1. Physical

We as parents have been taking care of our children’s physical health for quite some time. How are they doing in that department? Are they doing the day to day things that will lead to a long term healthy life style? Are they avoiding major risk factors that could create catastrophic results for their health and wellbeing? We might disagree as parents in the specifics, but if we step back and assess the overall pattern, is our child on their way to being a healthy, productive adult?

  1. Financial

Can our child manage money?  Many parents will “test drive” their teenagers’ financial decisions by either giving them their own money, maybe as an allowance, or encouraging them to get a part-time job.  Though we won’t agree with every buying decision, we want to know is our child learning about the importance of money, and whether or not they can save for big things instead of spending it all right now.

  1. Community

Finally, the Gallup organization has found a significant correlation in an individual’s self-reported wellbeing  and  their involvement in their community. Volunteering is a significant contributor to our happiness and can inoculate us from stress and other negative emotions.  Does our child show any tendency toward this kind of sacrifice and involvement? Do they belong to clubs or service organizations? Do they understand the importance of volunteering?

To answer the question “when are we done parenting?” we must have a goal in mind. Wellbeing is at least one way of answering and describing what we want our children to achieve throughout their lives. As we begin to think about when our jobs as parents might be winding down, we can use the five categories of the Gallup organization’s wellbeing index as a way to ask more specific questions about whether our child is not just taking care of their present needs and wants, but also their future selves.  Though all of us know our roles are parents will never really be over, it is completely acceptable to say the job can evolve.  The kind of parent we want to be is someone who can celebrate, from the sidelines, our child’s happiness and wellbeing.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Erick Lauber, Ph.D. is an applied psychologist and faculty at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He speaks and consults on personal growth and development, life balance and change. He has won 19 educational TV/film awards and is published in numerous journals and psychology conferences. For more information, please visit www.ErickLauber.com or call 724-464-7460.

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

Could Your Child Be a Cyberbully? Warning Signs and Prevention Tactics

“No, my child would never do that.” Would this be your response if your child were accused of being a cyberbully? If so, you’re not alone. For one thing, no parent wants to believe that his or her child is capable of teasing or harassing other youngsters. For another, cyberbullying is, by its very nature, a relatively easy behavior for youngsters to keep under wraps: With the click of a mouse or the swipe of a finger, the evidence disappears. And most concerning of all, it’s easy for kids to get caught up in this destructive behavior without initially realizing how dangerous and hurtful it is.

“Like it or not, the rapidly expanding digital landscape has allowed bullying to spread beyond playgrounds and school hallways to computer screens, smartphones, and more,” says Amy Lupold Bair, author of Raising Digital Families For Dummies® . “Since this is a pressing issue that can affect any family, it’s crucial for parents to be able to recognize the signs that their children may be cyberbullies, and to know how to handle and prevent this behavior.”

Specifically, Lupold Bair says, tweens and teens (and in some instances, even younger kids) who are engaged in cyberbullying often exhibit behavior changes, just as victims do. Watch for the following signs:

• Your child may stop using the computer when you come into the room or quickly change screens or tabs.

• Your child may sharply increase time spent on the computer or on a smartphone.

• Your child may appear stressed or secretive when using these devices, and may become anxious, upset, or excessively angry when you limit or take away access.

• Your child may be spending more time with a new group of friends, or might no longer interact publicly with a long-time friend.

“Regardless of whether your child’s behavior fits into any of these categories, it’s a good idea to proactively bring up the topic of cyberbullying,” Lupold Bair says. “Make sure your kids know what cyberbullying is, why it’s harmful, and what your expectations are for their online conduct. By keeping an ongoing dialog going, you’ll not only gain insight into the digital world in which your kids live, but you may also discover warning signs that your child’s online group is participating in these types of activities.”

Specifically, Lupold Bair recommends discussing the following topics with your children:

• Joking vs. harassment. The line between harmless joking and mean, harassing behaviors can often be a fine one, and younger children especially may have trouble recognizing when they’ve crossed it. Explain to your kids that any online behavior that makes another person feel upset, threatened, hurt, mocked, etc. can be considered bullying. If your child knows that one of his peers is uncomfortable with a specific online interaction—or if a particular online behavior would make your child feel upset if the shoe were on the other foot—it’s best not to participate.

• Appropriate online communication. While it may seem obvious to many adults, kids frequently don’t understand that what they write or share in a digital format can often be forwarded, saved, or accessed by others. On a continuous basis, talk to your kids about what is appropriate to share online and what is not. Put a special emphasis on why it’s important to keep friends’ secrets and personal communications private and where it is and isn’t safe to discuss these things.

• Standing up to bullies. Teach your children how to stand up to their friends to discourage bullying behaviors online, if they’re comfortable doing so. Make sure they understand the importance of not standing by while others are being bullied and help them find the words to tell their friends that they refuse to participate in these bullying actions.

• Limiting contact with bullies. Cyberbullying is often a group occurrence with more than one child playing a role and different participants contributing varying levels of bullying behaviors. Make sure your children know that they can often use blocking features on social media and chat sites to avoid online contact with bullies. Explain why being associated with a cyberbullying incident can have serious consequences, even if your child wasn’t the ringleader or even an active participant.

• Informing adults. Encourage your kids to talk to teachers, coaches, and friends’ parents if they don’t feel comfortable coming to you with concerns about their own online behavior, which may have potentially crossed the line into cyberbullying. Also, encourage them to inform authority figures if they know another child is the victim of cyberbullying. Tell your kids that if they’re uncomfortable coming forward because they don’t want to attract the bully’s attention themselves, an anonymous note left on a coach’s or teacher’s desk, for example, can still be a tremendous help.

“Don’t just assume that your child’s online activities are harmless, even if she’s generally a ‘good kid,’” Lupold Bair concludes. “Be proactive about discussing why cyberbullying is a major issue and how you expect your child to behave on all digital platforms.

“In fact, I recommend creating and having your kids sign a document called a Digital Family Policy,” she adds. “It should include rules and expectations for all technology use. Be sure to include information regarding how you define cyberbullying and what the consequences will be if your child crosses that line.”

Defining Cyberbullying: A Parent’s Guide

From Raising Digital Families For Dummies®
by Amy Lupold Bair

teen-phoneWhen most of today’s parents were growing up, bullying was largely limited to in-person interactions. For that reason, it can be difficult to intuitively and fully understand what our children are facing as they navigate the digital landscape.

In essence, cyberbullying comprises any digital communication, typically from one minor to another minor, with the purpose of frightening, threatening, embarrassing, or harassing a person. The most common form of cyberbullying is sharing a private text message, e-mail, or instant message (IM) with someone else or through a public posting. Cyberbullies’ tools are computers and smartphones and they plague victims via text, e-mail, IM, chat rooms, social media, and blogs.

Examples of cyberbullying behaviors include:

• Using websites to rank or rate peers according to criteria such as looks and popularity

• Publicly blocking someone’s participation in an online group

• Tricking someone into sharing embarrassing information with the purpose of sharing it digitally with others

• Creating a website with the purpose of harassing someone

• Creating a fake social media account to pose as another person and post untrue things about that person

• Sending threatening or mean e-mails, text messages, and IMs in chat rooms

• Posting embarrassing pictures of someone on a social media website

The effects of cyberbullying can be far more devastating for victims than traditional bullying because:

• Cyberbullies often remain anonymous, making victims unsure of how to protect themselves and whom to trust

• Victims often receive bullying messages via their home computer, taking away their feeling of safety within their own home

• Victims may be affected both at school and online, taking away two primary locations where teens socialize and interact

• Cyberbullies can reach a large number of people easily and instantly, making it possible for the entire world to see the behaviors and shared information about the victim

• Because cyberbullies don’t face their victims, the bullying behaviors are often more extreme than traditional bullying

• Cyberbullies can attack their victims frequently on multiple technology platforms

Many states have laws regarding cyberbullying, but current laws vary by state. To see where your state stands regarding cyberbullying legislation, visit www.cyberbullying.us/Bullying_and_Cyberbullying_Laws.pdf.

Warning Signs of Anorexia

By Dr. Ismael Nuño

thin girlMy daughter, Catharine, began her battle with Anorexia Nervosa with a classic presentation at the age of fourteen. Prior to that she was involved in gymnastics in a highly competitive circle in Germany. All the little girls wanted to be number one and they all wanted to compete in the Olympics. When Catharine began high school in America, she and her classmates would get together at lunch and talk about how they all looked fat and they were on a diet and they would compete to see who could lose the most weight. They all got A grades. At home, her mother was a strict middle school teacher and her father (me) was a heart surgeon. She had a younger, loving brother who was caught in the middle of a fight between anguished parents and a daughter who refused to gain weight.

Then, I was suddenly sent to the Middle East to fight Saddam Hussein. TV news hysteria kept announcing that 10,000 US soldiers would die in the first few hours of battle. My daughter Catharine kept watching this horror on TV. I was informed by the American Red Cross one evening during the Gulf War that if I wanted to see my daughter alive, that I should return to the US immediately.  She was very ill. Within an hour I was flying back to Washington, DC. After being in a metabolic unit in Washington, and receiving psychotherapy as an inpatient she then received it as an outpatient. When we moved to Los Angeles she went to UCLA and was achieving top grades. She began to eat normal meals and developed a wide span of friends. One hot and humid afternoon while planting flowers, Catharine fainted momentarily. She told me about it but I thought she was just dehydrated. It happened again at school but when she was taken to the emergency room of the UCLA Medical Center her EKG was normal. One morning, I found her in her bathroom on the floor. She had no pulse and she was not breathing. I gave her CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation), I called the paramedics but Catharine could not be brought back. Her ashes were scattered over the Pacific Ocean.

Young girls with eating disorders like Anorexia Nervosa (restrictive caloric intake) or Bulimia (binge/purge) usually have stressful family situations, highly competitive environments, and a genetic pre-disposition for substance abuse or physical or mental disorders. The clinical onset is commonly very insidious. These young girls begin to lose weight, change eating habits and restrict caloric intake. They have a morbid fear of gaining weight. They are very careful in their meal preparation and sometimes even wear gloves so as to not contaminate their food with calories. They prepare non-fat meals, cut up their meal into very small pieces and in my daughter’s case, she would discuss her day with us at the dinner table while moving her food around her plate. Sometimes, they develop moodiness, are withdrawn and act shy. Catherine, like many, had an intense physical activity regiment and would run in the mornings or go up and down the stairs repeatedly after meals. The first warning sign is a change in eating habit, weight loss, dizziness, fainting and fatigue. They go to the bathroom often and always after meals. The way they manage their food at mealtime is a big indicator that something is wrong.

Physical changes are also evident. These patients develop dry skin. They become dehydrated, constipated, and develop abdominal pain or a bloated stomach. They become emaciated, fatigued, develop lanugo (small friable hair), and sometimes even stress fractures. As parents, we just think that they are stressed out because of school and that an increased fluid load and a good meal will resolve their problem.

One of the most threatening and possibly fatal complications of an eating disorder can be a heart rhythm abnormality or delay in the transmittal of electricity, which is why many people suffering from eating disorders have a tendency to faint. The EKG is static and will not show any immediate changes but a Holter Monitor exam must be done to record the electrical activity of the heart over a period of time. Now, these tests have gone from 24 hours to two weeks. If there is a delay in electrical transmission in the heart it will be found. The treatment for that is the insertion of a pacemaker. There is a 3-5% mortality rate in these young girls. Most of it is by cardiovascular abnormalities and sudden ventricular arrhythmias, or sudden cardiac death, and some of it is by suicide. One could argue that a prolonged restriction of calories, emaciation and the resulting complications are a form of suicide.

The best success in controlling an eating disorder is to catch it as soon as possible. Try to become engaged as a family. Seek medical attention from the pediatrician, a metabolic expert and a psychotherapist. Control of these disorders can take years and a lot of love and a lot of patience. What used to be an occasional sick child with an eating disorder is now an epidemic. Many, if not most, of the pediatric units have metabolic teams that will help your daughter on her difficult journey to become well.

Dr. Ismael Nuño is the author of the book The Spirit of the Heart: Stories of Family, Hope, Loss, and Healing. He received his training in Cardiothoracic Surgery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. He was Chief of Cardiac Surgery and Chief of Staff Elect/President Elect of the Medical Association at the Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center, as well as Assistant Professor of Clinical Cardiothoracic Surgery at the Keck School of Medicine. He is currently Medical Advisor for the Alfred Mann Institute of Bioengineering at USC, and was previously Medical Advisor for the St. Jude Medical Corporation for the Western United States.

Christy’s Four Steps to Help Stop Medicine Abuse

By Christy Crandell

 

medicineTen years ago, one of Christy Crandell’s sons was arrested for armed robbery while high on over-the-counter (OTC) cough medicine. Now Christy is an author and one of the Five Moms working to educate other parents about dangerous teen behaviors such as medicine abuse to keep families safe and healthy.

 

One in 20 teens have admitted to using dextromethorphan (DMX), an ingredient found in more than 100 OTC cough medicines, to get high. Yet many parents still believe that it will not happen to their teen. I encourage you to take these four steps to prevent this abuse.

 

Educate yourself on medicine abuse

The first step in helping to stop OTC cough medicine abuse is to educate yourself on the issue and learn how to recognize the signs and symptoms. Start by learning teen’s slang terms for DXM like robo-tripping, skittles, and dex. Additionally, learn about the different side effects and warning signs such as nausea, confusion, and slurred speech. By knowing what to look for, you can help prevent your teens, their friends, and other teens in the community from abusing OTC cough medicine.

 

Talk to your teen

Many parents often find it hard to start conversations about drugs, alcohol, and online behavior with their children. However, as parents, we know that these conversations need to happen. It is a matter of finding the right time, the right place, and the right words. If you are having trouble finding the right words, try using one of these conversation starters to help ease into the conversation.

 

During these types of conversations, I encourage you to talk about how to say no to peer pressure. Explain to your teen that you understand it can be difficult to say no, then practice running through different scenarios with them and provide an exit plan. Agree on a code word that can be used when your teen needs help getting out of a situation with their peers when drugs or alcohol are present. Even if your teen does not seem like they are listening or engaging in the conversation – keep talking. Remember 50 percent of teens who learn about the risks of drugs from their parents are less likely to use them.

 

Monitor your medicine cabinet

Protect your teen from the temptation of medicine abuse by safeguarding the medicines in your home. Monitor and track all the medicines in your cabinet and know how much is left so you’ll notice if anything goes missing.

 

Educate other parents in your community

I believe that the harder the conversation is to start, the more important it is. Many parents do not know where to begin when talking to other parents and community members about medicine abuse. I have found that one of the best ways to start the conversation with other parents is to naturally weave over-the-counter medicine abuse into a conversation about other drugs and alcohol. If you do not usually talk about the topic of drugs or alcohol with parents in your community, another way to start the conversation is to share a personal connection to the issue. Please, do not be embarrassed to share your story, because by sharing your story and starting the conversation about medicine abuse, you could ultimately save the lives of others. If you do not have a personal story to share, I welcome you to use mine or one of the other Five Moms’ stories to help you start the conversation.

 

Encourage parents you know to check out stopmedicineabuse.org to learn about the problem.