My dad’s adventurous palette definitely helped me eat out of my comfort zone. Growing up watching him eat everything and anything from brussel sprouts to SPAM, I always wanted to have what he was having, even if I didn’t like it.
On the other hand, my younger sister was like my mom. A bit more of a picky eater. Even though my sister’s not unhealthy, even now she sometimes turns down vegetables simply because she grew up not liking them.
As a parent, you’re always under a microscope. Your kids are watching. Chana Stiefel, from Parents Magazine says “Your child learns by imitating you.” Have you thought about how your eating habits influence your kids’ eating habits?
I know sometimes you want to chow down on a bowl of cereal just because you’re in a rush. And everyone has cravings at times. But remember that kids today have many more food options than you did. They’re going to be making a lot more choices about what to eat. What they eat at home will have a special appeal to them. It will smell, look and taste familiar. Putting a balanced diet in front of them on a regular basis will increase the likelihood that those foods will end up in their diet when they are away from home.
Unlock Food, a website created by the Dietitians of Canada, states that “By creating a positive eating environment and being a good role model, you can help your children develop healthy eating habits that can make a lasting impact on their health.”
I know that living in a household where the rule was “you have to at least try it once, and if you don’t like it, you don’t have to eat it” helped me give a variety of healthy foods a fighting chance. Now I eat better I think than most of my friends. Thanks Dad!
Odds are your child will become part of a cyberbullying scheme at some point in their young life. It’s unfortunately just one of the consequences of the new “digital age”. The only question that is relevant is: will they be on the giving end or the receiving end? (I’ll admit for the moment there may be a few in the middle just “watching”.)
So what is cyberbullying?
By definition it is bullying that takes place over the internet, cellphones, or social media. Yes, these things overlap. Social media is on their phone, etc… Cyberbullying is posting or sending inappropriate, negative, or private information about someone to threaten, harass, or embarrass them.
My personal story about cyberbullying
I was in middle school and a new girl moved to my school. That girl and I were similar in ways and I became envious of her. I accused her of stealing my friends. Of course, I now realize my friends liked her because she was just like me. I can now confess we both did our share of cyberbullying each other. Usually on social media or via text message. A lot of hurtful things were said, and because of it, we both lost some friends. We did not get along for quite a while and we did get in trouble with our parents for the way we were acting.
Looking back on the situation, it was ridiculous. None of those things needed to be said/written, and all of those things are still out there – in/on the internet somewhere.
Of course, we eventually got over it and became good friends. Nobody changes as much as a teenager.
So isn’t it ironic that the ever-permanent internet is where today’s teens spend so much of their time? Teens need to change. The internet is permanent. Not really a good match.
What should you be concerned about? Everything…
Anything your kid posts on the internet can become public and it might affect online reputation. Don’t believe them when they say “it will disappear in a few seconds on Snapchat”. (Read our blog post about Snapchat to learn more.)
Stopbullying.gov says cyberbullying is persistent, permanent and hard to notice. Dr. Lauber told us a story about when he left school, he was safe from bullying as a young kid. But his kids experienced even in his house because they were online. There’s no longer any safe place!
Did you know…
the 2015 School Crime Supplement (National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics) indicates that, nationwide, about 21% of students ages 12-18 experience bullying?
the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) indicates an estimated 14.9% of high school students were electronically bullied in the 12 months prior to the survey?
Cyberbullying is not always easy to catch. Unless your child shows or tells you, or you’re very knowledgeable on their social life (texting, social media, etc…), you may be unaware of what is going on. Parents and children use technology differently. This makes it difficult to know when cyberbullying may be happening. Below is a graph from cyberbullying.org on cyberbullying victimization, along with some signs of cyberbullying and some helpful tips.
Is your child bullying or being bullied?
Cyberbullying happens to children of all ages at least once in their lives and at any time of any day. KidsHealth.org mentions some signs of cyberbullying:
being emotionally upset during or after using the internet or the phone
being very secretive or protective of one’s digital life
avoiding school or group gatherings
changes in mood, behavior, sleep or appetite
wanting to stop using the computer or cellphone
being nervous or jumpy when getting an instant message, text, or email
avoiding discussions about computer or cellphone activities
So what can you do?
I confess, I’m not a parent yet. And maybe my generation will be more prepared for it, since we’re the first generation to live through it. But here’s what I found (and Dr. Lauber endorses these tips!)
Be open and honest with your child. Be someone they can come to for help.
Offer your comfort and support.
Praise them if they seek your help.
Talk to someone like a principle or guidance counselor at their school.
Encourage your child to “be the better person” and not retaliate.
Provide punishment for those who are bullying.
Limit technology time and monitor it.
Learn more about online safety.
Set a good example yourself.
No one wants their child to be bullied or to bully others, but it happens. I believe it always has and always will. But I hope I’m wrong.
All you can do is try your best and help your child make good choices. The good news is I lived through it. Your child will to.
You’ve heard that parents live vicariously through their children. Sports is no exception.
If you haven’t yet been on the sidelines, watching your kid play, maybe you haven’t seen the parent obsessed with their child’s performance. Yelling negative comments at their kid, the coaching staff and even the referee. It’s why a lot of kids’ sports leagues have put in new rules.
But their are parents at the other end of the spectrum, also. Maybe their kid is serious about sports, but when it comes game time, they look up and no one is there. Their teammates have both of their parents, plus two sets of grandparents, a couple of aunts and uncles, and even a few cousins. But they don’t see anyone cheering them on.
These are the kids that get a ride home from practices and games. Their parents were “just too busy” to come pick them up.
That was me. In high school I lettered in varsity wrestling and soccer every year since I was a freshman. The amount of times I had my parents supporting me at my matches and games was far smaller than the times I didn’t have anyone there.
While nobody wants that over-involved parent, screaming in their face after every bad play, also, nobody wants to be the kid never hearing a cheer from the crowd.
So where is the happy medium? How do you help your child feel good about themselves and have a positive experience with athletics? Here are my thoughts.
Be there to support, but not to coach
First, a parent should be there to be a child’s number one fan, win or lose. But unless they are actually on the staff, they should leave the coaching to the coaches. If you’re seeing your child give 100 percent, that should be the most important thing to you.
Sure, who doesn’t want their kid to be successful in everything they do. Athletics are probably no exception.
But, when wins and losses become the only thing you focus on, it could become the only thing your child focuses on as well. Sports are something that can teach kids valuable lessons from a young age such as not being afraid to put themselves out there, losing graciously, perseverance and creating a good work ethic. But sports shouldn’t be the number one thing in their lives. Nor yours.
Everyone understands that parents today are busy. And sometimes it’s easier to ask someone else to give your kid a lift home from practice. But with that being said, even if you can’t be there every time physically, it’s important to be there for them emotionally.
Ask them how practice was and what they learned. Ask them what they’re goals are and how they think they can work to accomplish them. Asking questions and being involved with their athletics is an easy way to open up a good line of communication, which may be helpful if more serious circumstances ever come up. But it is a delicate balance of asking questions, having good conversations, and carrying it too far. And resist the urge to “coach” even off the field – at home.
Make sure they’re taken care of physically
While it’s always important to make sure your kid is healthy, i’s even more crucial that your athlete is getting the proper nutrition. For more information on properly feeding your child athlete, head over to KidsHealth.org. I also strongly recommend family dinners. See our post about that right here.
Aside from food, make sure if any injuries happen they are treated properly. Today, the second leading cause of emergency visits in the U.S. is sports injuries. According to Nationwide Children’s Hospital Sports Medicine, over three million youth are seen in hospital emergency rooms for sports-related injuries and another five million are seen by their primary care physician.
If you’re child does get injured, just remember R.I.C.E.: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. For more on RICE, visit nationwidechildrens.org.
By the way, according to ESPN , the second leading cause for boys and third leading cause for girl to quit a sport is because of injury. Some injuries are preventable. Make sure you’re doing your part.
Make athletics fun for your child
It’s pretty widely known that an athlete can give their peak performance when they are having fun at a competition. When your child begins to not enjoy going to practice or competing anymore, it may be the beginning of a burnout. If this happens, try to find the root of the problem. Is it the pressure, the coaching or just plain exhaustion? Something else?
Find the Midfield
Your child benefits a great deal from athletics. It helps them stay physically fit. It gives them a sense of belonging and team camaraderie, and maybe even a few life long friends. But you’ve got to set the tone. Avoid the extremes of not caring at all and caring too much.
Sitting alone in my bedroom, I finally allow myself to release all the tension and built-up stress from the longest day of my week. It’s days like these that make me sometimes question my ability to accomplish even the smallest of tasks.
Thursdays are rough.
I wake up for my 8 a.m. class, which sometimes is immediately followed by a meeting with our project team. Luckily, I usually have approximately an hour or so to get lunch. From 12:30 to 3:15, my back-to-back classes occupy my afternoon, and after that I go to work…until about 11 p.m.
That’s just the skeleton of my Thursday.
In any free moment, I’m trying to finish the homework that inevitably did not get finished for that day’s classes. During downtime at work, I try to get a head start on the next day’s work, which never actually happens because there’s no downtime at work. For dinner, I pick up any unhealthy but quick meal I can get that won’t break my already low bank account.
None of this factors in walking time from academic buildings to my house (10-15 minutes depending on the building), which adds up at the end of the day.
All of this results in me coming home exhausted and delusional, only to bawl my eyes out at something small like accidentally knocking my glass of water off my nightstand.
It’s difficult. It’s draining. But it’s not unusual for someone my age.
Though my high-stress situations didn’t start until college, some students start experiencing them in high school or even middle school.
I know a good amount of people who regularly have mental breakdowns from the pressures of school. Some are on anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication. Some regularly see a therapist. Many would say that they have at some point felt overly stressed and depressed.
Some, however, deal with their problems alone, which is why it’s extremely important that you as a parent recognize if this is happening to your child.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States.
If you suspect your child is getting overwhelmed with school, reach out. Acknowledgment on your part can go a long way.
BUT, you must be patient. Each case is different, so what you may have heard worked for someone else might not work for your child.
What Can You Do?
Validate their emotions. It’s extremely discouraging to breakdown over a series of events when our peers are thriving doing the exact same things. Recognize and remind your children that they are doing their best.
Look for symptoms. ASCD gave a great list of what to look for:
Don’t stigmatize the situation. It can be a complicated topic to discuss, but the last thing you want to do is make your child feel like their emotions are something they have to hide from others. More people are going through this than you think.
Encourage your child to reach out. To you. To a friend. To a teacher. Get them talking.
For more information about depression and anxiety, click here:
Growing up a child of three, it was always hard to get everyone together to eat a family dinner. Whether it was cross country practice or my sister’s dance class, it seemed we could never get together at the same time. However, the rare nights did sit down and eat a meal together are still ingrained in my head. That quality time was and always be important to me.
So, are you having family dinners?
According to the The Family Dinner Project, sitting down together helps children develop in numerous ways, including eating a more balanced and healthy diet. This group belongs strongly in this activity because of research on the physical, mental and emotional benefits of regular family meals. Research suggests the benefits include:
Better academic performance
A greater sense of resilience
Lower risk of substance abuse
Lower risk of teen pregnancy
Lower risk of depression
Lower likelihood of developing eating disorders
Lower rates of obesity
It can be tough for some parents to get into the swing of family dinners. Fortunately, the Family Dinner Project has many helpful resources, such as recipes and conversation topics.
Maybe you noticed above we wrote that family dinners can help lower the risk of substance abuse. A report done by CASA Columbia found that “teens who had frequent family dinners (5 to 7 per week) were more likely to report having high-quality relationships with their parents.” Researchers have also found that parental engagement is a key to keeping your child away from tobacco, alcohol and other drugs.
Brian Howard, a fellow parent blogger, has written “Many of our best parenting moments come at the dinner table. At the table, we teach our kids all sorts of things that will help them to be successful adults in society.”
As a 22-yr-old, I still remember those challenging conversations at the dinner table. I realize now they were parenting us without lecturing us. Those casual conversations were actually serious stuff.
There’s lots to talk about when it comes to raising healthy kids. Feel free to post a question. We’d love to hear from you.