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How to Help Our Child to Overcome Exam Syndrome

stressStudents are often faced with a series of exams or tests at the end of term or semester, which are usually scheduled closely together. This can lead to great stress for students – and those who live with them! The words stress and pressure are often used interchangeably but in fact, they are quite different. Pressure can be positive and useful to complete deadlines or to help somebody avoid danger. However, when pressure is prolonged, it can become negative, and depend on how the individual perceives it and reacts to it, it can lead to the development of stress. This Hot Topic offers information and ideas on how to help our child or young person manage exam stress.

What is exam stress?

For some people, the increased pressure around exam time may lead to them experiencing stress symptoms much more readily than others. Stress can be defined as ‘the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressure or other types of demands placed on them’. It varies from person to person and in many ways a stress response is a normal physical response to events that make you feel threatened or that upset your balance in some way. However, we do know that prolonged stress can lead to illness, both mental and physical.

What causes exam stress?

Exam stress is a natural reaction to pressure caused by a number of factors including:

  • Inability to accept failure or uncertainty
  • Pessimism or negative self-talk
  • Unrealistic expectations (either of the student or the parents)
  • Unpreparedness
  • Life transitions
  • Family issues and/or relationship difficulties
  • Financial problems
  • Performance anxiety.

What are the known impacts of exam stress?

When a person is stressed over something, their body reacts accordingly. If adequate approaches for managing extreme exam stress aren’t developed it can have negative results including lower grades than anticipated or required. Over the long term, various physical health problems such as digestive problems, eczema, as well as mental health issues such as anxiety or depression could develop.

What can you expect to see if your child has exam stress?

Some people feel pressure and develop stress symptoms more than others. Stress responses can differ between males and females as well, with research showing females present internal symptoms and responses such as nausea, butterflies, and feelings of inadequacy which can lead to sadness and depression. Males tend to externalize their anxiety and can become increasingly irritable or angry.

When someone is faced with increased pressure (in this case at exam time) their body can go into a ‘fight or flight’ response which releases increased amounts of adrenaline into the body. This can lead to various symptoms including:

  • Feeling cranky and irritable (increased yelling or crying, swearing, hitting)
  • Indecisiveness and/or confusion
  • Problems with going to sleep or getting up in the morning
  • Strongly beating heart, sweating
  • Mild chest pains, back pains, nausea, trembling, shortness of breath
  • Minor stomach upsets
  • Possible skin breakouts
  • Teeth grinding, nail-biting and fidgeting
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Going blank in the exam.

If exam stress or stress, in general, is not resolved responsibly, it can lead to more serious problems like:

  • Increased smoking, drinking or drug use (for teenage and above)
  • Losing touch with friends
  • Feeling inadequate, negative self-talk, blaming.

What influences a person’s stress tolerance level? 

Support network – A young person experiencing exam stress will have a better response to stress if supported by parents or other caring adults.

A sense of control – Having a sense of control over what to expect on the day, what to learn and ways to systematically revise will assist a young person to manage their exam stress.

Positive attitude and outlook – Assist them to see the bright side, to laugh at themselves and to appreciate the positives in life. People who are resilient to stressors have an optimistic attitude.

Preparation – The more a young person prepares for a stressful situation, such as an exam, the easier it is to cope. A student’s stress level is often influenced by the amount of preparation and planning they have put into studying towards a particular exam and how confident they feel about the material they are to be tested on.

What can parents and carers do about exam stress?

One of the best things parents or carers can do if their child is experiencing exam stress is to try to be as supportive and tolerant as possible.

We’ve put together a list of strategies that may help young people to manage exam stress. We’ve also included some tips on how to help your child deal with stress on and after the exam day.

Effective study and learning habits

Parents and carers can help reduce the exam stress of their child by helping them establish effective study and learning habits:

  • Help your child find a quiet place to study without distractions. Make sure their table is uncluttered so they can focus better.
  • Encourage your child to find out exactly what the test involves – are there past test papers they can look at to help them understand what to expect?
  • Encourage your child to ask for help or ask their teacher for clarity if they are unsure of something or if they feel confused.
  • Help them to make ‘mind maps’ to collect ideas and summarise thoughts – use bright colors to help remember important links.
  • Help them to plan their study schedule early on so they have sufficient time to study. It can be helpful to develop a clear, realistic plan of what they want to cover in each study session. Can they break it down into small chunks?
  • Remind your child to take a short rest and move around in between each part of their study.
  • Offer help sometimes. It can be useful having someone to listen or practice with.

Healthy sleeping and eating habits

  • Encourage your child to stick to a routine of going to bed at a reasonable time. They need to avoid late night TV shows or movies.
  • Motivate them to eat regularly and make time to have fun and exercise.
  • Help them to cut back on coffee or any other stimulants which they may be using, as these can increase agitation. Encourage them to drink lots of water instead.
  • Remind them to take time out when they eat, rather than carrying on with the study.
  • Encourage them to eat fresh fruit, veggies, cereals, grains, nuts, and protein – they are all good for the brain and blood sugar levels.
  • Encourage them to eat when they get hungry. This keeps blood sugar and hydration levels steady.
  • Avoid junk food if possible. It will bring a sudden sugar high which will fall away quickly, leaving a person feeling tired.

Relaxation ideas to help your child cope with exam stress

  • Always encourage your child to relax before they go to bed after concentrating for long periods of time. Activities such as reading a short story may help them unwind and sleep better.
  • Encourage them to go out for a walk, run or do some other exercise they enjoy.
  • Teach them relaxation techniques such as listening to some gentle music, getting them to lie down, closing their eyes and taking a deep breath while visualizing a calming scene such as a deserted beach.
  • Help your child to develop a positive mindset by encouraging them to visualize success – this can really help with self-confidence.[12]
  • Avoid rushing on the day of the exam by organizing and packing everything they need to take with them the night before.

Ideas for exam day

Talk about these ideas before exam day so as not to add to anxiety levels.

Suggest to your child that they:

  • Eat a good and light breakfast – something that will sustain them and help them concentrate.
  • Try to arrive at school or the exam venue early.
  • Go to the toilet before the exam starts.
  • Keep away from people who may agitate them before the test or may say unhelpful, anxiety-provoking comments.
  • Try writing about their thoughts and feelings at least 10 minutes before the exam to free up brainpower from focusing on emotions so they can focus on the test material instead.
  • Take time to slow their breathing and relax when they first sit down in the exam room.
  • Skim over the exam paper, underlining key words and instructions.
  • Work out how long they have to each question or section.
  • Watch out for the wording of the questions – they need to understand and address what the question is really asking.
  • Answer the questions they find easiest first to build their confidence, then as they relax more move on to more difficult ones.
  • Don’t worry about how long others are taking but keep an eye on the clock to ensure they have enough time to answer the more difficult questions.
  • Re-read answers if possible and make any changes that are necessary – correct spelling, check workings.

Post-exam tip

If your child is not able to do well in the exam and they feel very upset about it, reassure them that there is always a second chance and passing an exam is only part of the story. It may be helpful to take some time to discuss any problems they had so they can avoid them next time.

Who else can help?

You may wish to contact your local parenting help service/s for further information and help.

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11 Ways to Empower Your Child Against Bullying

What is bullying? StopBullying.gov defines “bullying” as unwanted, aggressive behavior in which a child or teen uses a real or perceived power imbalance, such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity, to control or harm other kids. It can include anything from spreading rumors to name-calling to physical aggression. Essentially, Bullying is an abuse of power.

Why would a young person do such a thing? Because it gives her power. We all need to feel powerful in our lives. If we don’t have access to power in healthy ways, it can be hard to resist using it in unhealthy ways. And for a child or teen who often feels powerless in her life, abusing power by bullying can feel as potent as a drug. If he’s hurting inside, it can help him feel a little better for a short time. If someone has humiliated, threatened, or hurt him, those feelings often threaten to overwhelm his psyche, and he lashes out, wanting to humiliate, threaten or hurt someone else. Unfortunately, then, kids who are hurting often hurt other kids.

Can you bully-proof your child? Unfortunately, no. There have always been hurting people who act out by hurting others, and your child’s path will sometimes cross with theirs. And all children want to get their way, which means they will sometimes abuse power; that’s developmentally normal and short-lived in a context where they’re also developing empathy. Your goal is not to insulate your child, but to support him to develop the awareness and skills to protect himself when necessary, and to seek help when he’s in over his head.

Bullying behavior begins in preschool and gains momentum as kids grow. Depending on which survey you read, between 40 and 80 percent of middle schoolers admit to participating in bullying behavior, so clearly, our culture bears some responsibility for the pervasiveness of bullying. Many kids describe themselves as having been subjected to bullying but also as having bullied others. For this reason, restorative justice circles, conflict resolution training and transforming the culture of a school have all been proven to be more effective approaches to reduce bullying than targeting bullies with punitive punishment. Unfortunately, our school cultures are still struggling to implement effective approaches. The interaction of bullying and social media seems to have increased the psychological danger so that more children are committing suicide in response to bullying.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that you can help your child develop the skills to stand up to bullying behavior, and you can keep him from becoming a bully. How?

1. Model compassionate, respectful relationships from the time your child is small.

As Alice Miller, author of Thou Shalt Not Be Aware, wrote: “If children have been accustomed from the start to having their world respected, they will have no trouble later in life recognizing disrespect directed against them in any form and will rebel against it on their own.”

The most effective way to keep children from being bullied, and from becoming bullies, is to make sure they grow up in loving, respectful relationships, rather than relationships that use power or force to control them. Children learn both sides of every relationship, and they can act either one. If you spank, your child will learn that physical violence is the way to respond to interpersonal problems. Research has repeatedly established that physically disciplining a child is associated with more bullying behaviors.

In fact, any discipline methods that use power over a child teach him to use power over others, or to let others use power over him. Punishment is often perceived by children as adults using force to get their way, which teaches them that bullying is okay. Don’t worry, you don’t need that kind of discipline.

2. Stay connected to your child through thick and thin.

Lonely kids are more likely to be bullied. And kids are often ashamed that they’re being bullied, so they worry about telling their parents. Remember, parenting is 80% connection — a close relationship with your child — and only 20% guidance. The guidance won’t stick unless you have the relationship to support it, and will just drive your child away. So prioritize your relationship with your child, and keep those lines of communication open, no matter what.

3. Model confident behavior with other people.

If you tend to back down easily so you don’t make a scene, but then later feel pushed-around, it’s time to change that. Your child is learning from watching you. Experiment with finding ways to assert your own needs or rights while maintaining respect for the other person. It’s also important not to put yourself or your child down because you’re teaching her to follow in your footsteps.

4. Directly teach your child respectful self-assertion.

Kids need to know they can get their needs met while being respectful of other people. Give him words to stick up for himself early on:

“It’s my turn now.”

“Hey, stop that.”

“Hands off my body.”

“It’s not okay to hurt.”

“I don’t like being called that. I want you to call me by my name.”

5. Teach your child basic social skills.

Unfortunately, bullies prey on kids whom they perceive to be vulnerable. If you have a child who has social-skill challenges, make it a priority to support your child in all the other ways listed in this article, to make him less attractive to bullies. Then, make games out of social skills, and practice at home. Role plays with your child how to join a game at the playground, introduce himself to another child at a party, or initiate a playdate. For instance, kids who are successful in joining groups of kids usually observe first and find a way to fit into the group, rather than just barging in.

Sometimes kids want peer acceptance so much that they continue to hang around a group of peers even when one of the group leaders begins to mistreat them. If you suspect your child might be vulnerable, listen to what he says about peer interactions to help him learn to check in with his own inner wisdom, and work to provide healthy relationship opportunities for him.

6. Teach your child how the dynamics of bullying work.

Research shows that bullies begin with verbal harassment. How the “victim” responds to the first verbal aggression determines whether the bully continues to target this particular child. If the aggression gives the bully what he’s looking for — a feeling of power from successfully pushing the other child’s buttons — the aggression will generally escalate. It’s imperative to discuss this issue with your child BEFORE he is subject to bullying so he can stand up for himself successfully when a bully first “tests” him.

7. Practice with roleplays so that your child feels comfortable responding to teasing and provocations.

Roleplay with your child how he can stand up to a bully. Point out to your child that the bully wants to provoke a response that makes him feel powerful, so showing emotion and fighting back is exactly what the bully feeds off. Explain that while he can’t control the bully, he can always control his own response. So in every interaction, how he responds will either inflame the situation or defuse it. Your child needs to avoid getting “hooked” no matter how mad the bully makes him.

The best strategy is always to maintain one’s own dignity, and to let the “bully” maintain his dignity, in other words, not to attack or demean the other person. To do this, simply say something calm like:

“You know, I’m just going to ignore that comment.”

“I think I have something else to do right now.”

“No thank you.”

Then, just walk away.

Teach your child to count to ten to stay calm, look the bully in the eye, and say one of these things. Practice until your child has a strong, self-assured tone.

8. Teach your child that there is no shame in being frightened by a bully, in walking away, or in telling an adult and asking for help.

Bullying situations can escalate, and saving face is less important than saving their lives.

9. Teach kids to intervene to prevent bullying when they see it.

Bullying expert Michele Borba says that when bystanders — kids who are nearby — intervene correctly, studies find they can stop bullying more than half the time and within 10 seconds.

The best interventions:

Partner with the victim and remove her from danger – Go stand with the victim physically, turn the victim away from the bully and walk her off in the other direction — towards adult help. Say “You look upset” or “I’ve been looking for you” or “The teacher sent me to find you.”

Get help – Bullies love an audience. Get the other kids on your side by waving them over to you, yelling, “We need your help.”  Confront the bully: “You’re being mean.”  Then walk away: “C’mon, let’s go!”

And of course, if you’re at all worried about safety, shout for a teacher or dial 911 on a cell phone.

10. Teach your child basic bully avoidance.

Bullies operate where adults aren’t present, so if your child has been bullied, she should avoid unsupervised hallways, bathrooms, and areas of the playground. Sitting in the front of the school bus, standing in the front of the line, and sitting at a lunch table near the cafeteria chaperones are all good strategies for bully avoidance.

11. Don’t hesitate to intervene.

Your job as the parent is to protect your child. That means that in addition to teaching your child to stick up for herself, you may well need to call the teacher or principal. Don’t give your child the message that she’s all alone to handle this. And don’t assume that if there isn’t physical violence, she isn’t being wounded in a deep way. Despite the old rhyme about words not hurting, mean words and isolation are terribly damaging a child or teen’s psyche, and research shows they can cause lasting negative effects. If the school cannot protect your child, consider transferring to a different school, or even homeschooling.


Strategies for Kids

Here are six of the most successful strategies to help kids defend themselves, courtesy of bullying expert Michele Borba. Be sure to check out her website for more info on bullying.

Assert yourself.

Teach your child to face the bully by standing tall and using a strong voice. Your child should name the bullying behavior and tell the aggressor to stop: “That’s teasing. Stop it.” or “Stop making fun of me. It’s mean.”

Question the response.

Ann Bishop, who teaches violence prevention, tells her students to respond to an insult with a non-defensive question: “Why would you say that?” or “Why would you want to tell me I am dumb (or fat) and hurt my feelings?”

Use “I want.”

Communication experts suggest teaching your child to address the bully beginning with “I want” and say firmly what he wants to be changed: “I want you to leave me alone.” or “I want you to stop teasing me.”

Agree with the teaser.

Consider helping your child create a statement agreeing with her teaser. Teaser: “You’re dumb.” Child: “Yeah, but I’m good at it.” or Teaser: “Hey, four eyes.” Child: “You’re right, my eyesight is poor.”

Ignore it.

Bullies love it when their teasing upsets their victims, so help your child find a way to not let his tormentor get to him. Fifth graders offer these kid-tested ways to ignore teasers:

“Pretend they’re invisible,” 

“Walk away without looking at them,” 

“Quickly look at something else and laugh,” 

“Look completely uninterested.”

Make Fun of the Teasing.

Fred Frankel, author of Good Friends Are Hard to Find suggests victims answer every tease with a reply, but not tease back. The teasing often stops, Frankel says; because the child lets the tormentor know he’s not going to let the teasing get to him (even if it does). Suppose the teaser says, “You’re stupid.” The child says a rehearsed comeback such as: “Really?” Other comebacks could be: “So?,” “You don’t say,” “And your point is?,” or “Thanks for telling me.”

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Safety Rules for Every Family

ehp.122-a12.g001It’s a big world out there. When your child was a baby or toddler, you were always there, or you left your child in the care of a trusted adult. But as your child gets older, you’ll be holding his or her hand less and less. You’re bound to worry a bit about safety. And when kids begin to navigate the sidewalks or even public transit themselves, it can be positively nerve-wracking.

 

Every parent’s nightmare is that phone call with the news that something has happened to her child. Rest assured that despite the prominent publicity that accompanies tragedies, they are very rare. And even more encouraging, experts say that most abuse cases, abductions, and even accidents involving children can be prevented if parents and children know what to do to prevent them.

So here you are, one dozen basic Family Safety Rules that every parent can implement, that really will help you to keep your child safe as you let go of his hand.

1. Prioritize your child.

“Every time you respond to your child’s cry of hunger or pain or discomfort, you raise a child who knows he will be heard,” say safety experts Ric Bentz and Christine Allison. Children who feel heard and taken seriously are much more likely to stick up for themselves, to fight back, and to ask for help.

The best way to keep your kids from being abused by predators, bullied, using drugs, becoming sexually active before they’re ready — virtually every risk factor you can think of — is to maintain close relationships with them. Eat dinner together as many nights as you can. Make sure you have one on one time — unstructured (this isn’t for homework or reading to them), to see what bubbles up and help your child express emotions and problems — with each child every day, preferably for at least 15 minutes with each child.  If you notice that your child is defiant or distant, make it your highest priority to re-connect.

2. Teach your child to cross the street.

It’s so automatic for us that we often don’t realize that children need to be taught to cross the street safely. When your child is young enough to hold your hand, stop every single time and announce “Let’s cross safely. First check the signal — it shows the person walking, so we can cross. Now we look left, then right, then left again. Any cars? Okay, now we can cross!”  As your child gets a bit older, ask him to take charge of the ritual. By the time he can cross by himself, safe habits will be engrained. Needless to say, looking at your phone while you’re crossing the street is terrible modeling for your child. Be sure once he’s old enough for a phone, he has the discipline to put it away while crossing the street.

3. Give your child the tools to prevent bullying.

Bullies prey on children whom they perceive to be vulnerable. The best way to keep children from being bullied is to make sure they have high self esteem and strong relationships at home and with peers. Bullying behavior often begins by “testing the waters” with a mean remark, to see if they can goad the child into hurt or upset. If your child is being bullied, role-play with him how he can stand up to a bully with quiet dignity and walk away. Kids need to be reassured that there is no shame in being frightened by a bully, in walking away, or in telling an adult and asking for help. Bullying situations can escalate, and saving face is less important than saving their life. For more on protecting your child from bullying, see 10 Ways to Empower Your Child Against Bullying.

4. When your child goes to someone’s house on a playdate, be sure you know the family, and watch your child for cues about what’s happened.

Get to know the parents at households where your child spends time. Talk to him about what goes on at his friends’ houses. Are the kids unsupervised on the computer? Allowed to stroll up to the store alone? Would he be able to recognize if his friend’s mother was drunk? Would he know what to do if his friend’s father touched him inappropriately? What if his friend suggested they look at porn, or play a new “secret” game involving touching or sniffing markers?

Before your child plays at a new friend’s house, ask if they keep guns, and if so, how they are secured. Teach your children to leave any room and house immediately if a gun appears – loaded or not. It would be great if your child can say “I’m not allowed to be in a room with a gun,” but your child will be under great social pressure at this moment, and that invites a discussion that your child will then get sucked into participating in. Any child old enough to be on his own at a playdate understands social lies and will be grateful for your permission to say something like “Oops, I just remembered I have a dentist appointment!”

5. Instead of teaching “Stranger Danger” teach kids to trust their instincts and stand up for themselves.

Teach your child that most people are okay, but there are a few people out there who do bad things, and could hurt her. She needs to be told explicitly that it is more important to stay safe and to trust herself than to be polite or nice. It is okay for her to question, disobey, and even run away from someone whose behavior is making her acutely uncomfortable. Predators give signals; your child just needs your support to trust herself in reading them. Teach your child what constitutes improper behavior on the part of an adult, for instance, that it is inappropriate for adult strangers to offer children treats or to ask them for directions, and their reaction should be to walk away immediately, and always to fight back and shout “Help me! This is not my parent!” If she’s in a public place and gets worried, teach her to run to a mother with a child, who can generally be counted on to help.

6. Give your child the tools to prevent sexual abuse.

The statistics are that one out of every three girls will have suffered some unwanted sexual touching by the time she is sixteen. But don’t assume only girls are sexually molested, the stats for boys are almost as bad, one out of six. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, someone the child knows and trusts usually perpetrates child molestations, so teaching “Stranger Danger” completely misses the point and does not protect children. Instead:

  • Teach Consent. If you want your child to stand up for herself in an abuse situation, it’s critical that she be allowed to make her own decisions about who touches her body from an early age. Raise your child with the house rules that “We ask people before we touch their body” and “When someone says STOP!, we stop.” Don’t “steal” kisses or hugs if your child says no. Never force your child to be touched by a relative or friend if she doesn’t want contact. She must be respectful, and you can ask her to blow Grandpa a kiss instead of giving a hug, but she must be in charge of her own body.
  • Teach your child that in your family, no one ever keeps secrets.  Molesters usually begin “grooming” by seducing kids into complicity with mild secrets: “Don’t tell your mom I gave you candy.” Your child needs to know that anytime anyone asks her to keep a secret, she is to tell you immediately. In fact, I often hear that another child, older in years or experience, is the one who “teaches a secret game” to a child, with tragic results. Make sure your child knows he can tell you anything, and that you will love him no matter what he’s done.
  • Educate. Teach your child that every part of her body covered with a swimsuit is private, belonging only to her. Every child should have (and be regularly read) books like No Means No by Jayneen Sanders and My Body Belongs to Me by Jill Starishevsky. Teach your child that no one – no adult, no child, NO ONE – should ever touch her in ways that make her uncomfortable.
  • Protect. Don’t leave your child with anyone, even your boyfriend, unless you completely trust him. The good and bad news about abuse is that most of it, statistically, is not perpetrated by strangers. It happens at the hands of family members or the mother’s boyfriend. Almost all the rest is perpetrated by trusted intimates such as coaches, religious leaders or teachers. Bad news? Yes, these are people your child trusts. But it’s good news because it’s a risk you can usually avoid, if you trust your instincts and pay attention to your child. This is just one of the many reasons that stepparents should never have the responsibility of disciplining their partner’s children.

7. Every child should know how to SWIM.

And be sure your child knows NEVER to dive into water that she has not already personally established to be deep and safe. Since toddlers are most at risk of drowning, supervision is critical near pools or creeks, and of course when a bathtub has water in it.

8. Make helmets non-negotiable for cycling, skating or skate-boarding.

They reduce the risk of brain injury by 90%.

9. Cars are dangerous.

If you are transporting a little one in the back of your car, train yourself to check the car before you get out to be sure your child is out of the car, so you don’t space out and forget a sleeping child – horrible to even think about, I know, but we’re sleep-deprived parents and every year, babies and toddlers die in cars because we go on autopilot. Train your child to buckle up. Teach her to get out of any car immediately if the driver is drunk. Role play with her what she can say to get out of the car and to a safe place. (Again, “I’m carsick! I’m going to throw up! Stop the car quick!” may not be strictly true, but will be a lot easier for your child to say than “You’re behaving erratically and I think you may have been drinking. Please let me out of the car.”) Make sure that she knows she can always call you for a ride regardless of the situation.

Car accidents are the leading cause of death among teens. Once she starts driving, make sure she hears any personal stories you have about kids who’ve died in car accidents; that story could keep her alive. When you see a news story about an accident caused by a driver texting, discuss it at the dinner table. Admit that you’re tempted, too, but role model turning off your phone and putting it in your bag in the back seat. (Need directions? Pull off the road to check them.)

10. When your child begins using public transit, ease into it.

First, travel with him. Then, stay near him but let him travel “alone. ” Then, let him travel with a friend. Role play like crazy: What happens if he and his friend get separated? What if someone pulls a knife and asks for his money? (Yes, this happened to my 13 year old.) What if his cell phone falls on the subway tracks? What if some guy stares at him and it gives him the creeps? Buy him a cell phone and have him call you before he gets on the bus and after he gets off. Be sure he doesn’t use his phone or other electronics en route; they make him a target.

11. The best way to keep your child safe is to help him develop good judgment.

There is no substitute for supervision and knowing what’s going on in your child’s life, but as your child becomes increasingly independent, he’ll need to be aware of his own instincts about what’s safe, and follow them. Unfortunately, the brain of a teen is primed to be influenced by peers, so he can easily override that “still, small voice within ” if all the other guys are doing something risky. Daredevil behavior is bad enough in a six year old, but in a sixteen year old it can be deadly. Help your child develop good judgment (here’s a whole article on how) and social intelligence, so he can resist the lure of social pressure when he needs to.

12. Talk with your kids constantly – and listen more than you talk.

Listening keeps you connected and helps your child feel safe. But it also helps your child talk to you more, and when you get kids talking about something, they’re thinking about it. So introduce topics that will help your child think, reflect, and develop good judgment. Ask questions, like:

  • What do you worry about the most?
  • If you got into really big trouble, how do you think I would respond?
  • What are the different kinds of courage? How do you define bravery?
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Avoiding Power Struggles with Defiant Children: Declaring Victory is Easier than You Think

anger_childHow do you nip escalating fights over power in the bud? We show you three powerful techniques for defusing defiant power struggles.

“Remember, when you engage in an argument with your child, you’re just giving him more power.”

How do you know if you’re entering into a power struggle with your child? Any time you’re asking your child to do something and he’s refusing to comply—when you find him “pushing back” against the request you’ve given or the rules you’ve set down—you’re in a struggle. If the push for power is appropriate, you should be able to sit down with your child and talk about it in a fairly reasonable way. If it escalates into an argument or fight, you are in a defiant power struggle—and make no mistake about it, parents need effective ways to dial that back immediately.  Read more …

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Why You Can’t Be Your Child’s Friend

Here’s the Truth

If being your kids’ friend was enough to raise them successfully, we would all probably parent that way. But our job is way more complicated than that. Children and teens really crave boundaries, limits and structure. At the same time, they also need some healthy separation from us as they go through adolescence and develop into adults. Our role as parents is really to teach, coach and give our kids consequences when they misbehave. Read more …