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Archive for August, 2012

Help Your Child Succeed in College with Independence Skills Needed in the Transition to College

Monday, August 20th, 2012

I remember when I was a teacher in the public schools one of my colleagues created a bulletin board that displayed in large letters ‘Life Skills.’ Soon enough the first ‘s’ disappeared and students were entering my classroom snickering because my neighbor’s bulletin board now proclaimed ‘Life kills.’ Yikes! While it’s true everyone’s life has an expiration date (that’s a topic for another article) I believe your teen can navigate adult life successfully with the acquisition of certain life skills. I’ve collected a few your teen might want to practice before they leave the nest or transition to college.

First, your teen should know how to cook five complete meals. This could mean something as simple as operating a microwave and heating up a frozen entre, or creating a complete shopping list and navigating the grocery store. Contrary to popular thought Ramen is not a complete meal.

Second, your teen should know how to use the bank. Most colleges utilize a debit card system for meal plans so allowing your teen the opportunity to use a debit card would be great practice. Teens should also know about the advantages of good credit and the long-term effects of bad credit.

Finally, and most importantly, your teen should know how to stay safe and healthy. Talk with her about safe sex, the importance of staying with a group when she goes out, and what to do if she gets sick. Walk her through the pharmacy and make sure she knows how to use medicine properly, especially if she has special needs like psychotropic medication or insulin.

While this list is not exhaustive, it will help your child succeed in college and independent living with  some important life skills needed when she is out on her own. Have fun with it, listen to your teen, and practice what you preach.
Dr. Kate Walker Ph.D. is owner and CEO of achievebalance.org found in The Woodlands TX.

Teaching Kids About Money

Monday, August 20th, 2012

It’s August and that can only mean one thing – spending money! A recent survey indicated that moms spend more on their kids during back to school shopping time than they do the entire year. While the jury is still out about whether it is better to give your kids an allowance or make them earn their spending money, back to school shopping is a great time to teach your kids good spending habits, budgeting, and discount hunting.

Sit with your kids and explain that they will have a certain dollar amount that you will spend for school clothes. If they have their own money they can supplement this, but be clear that you will only buy them necessities (no crazy hats or studded belts). Have them put items on hold at the store for your inspection before you use your credit card or cash to purchase the items.

Another great approach to teaching kids about money is to have them go on a bargain hunt the week before the planned shopping outing. Most kids know about checking out the catalogues before the holidays, but explain to them that if they can find good bargains they may be able to get more stuff. Learning to budget is made easier when teens see how much more their money will buy by looking for deals. Teach them about early bird specials, two for ones, couponing, and even vintage clothing stores. For older teens this can be a great time to teach them about using credit cards responsibly for discounts.

You may find as you are teaching your kids about good money management you discover you have some bad money habits yourself. Don’t despair! Use this time to hone your own skills, take a course (we recommend Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University), and get your own budget in shape.

Dr. Kate Walker Ph.D. is owner and CEO of achievebalance.org found in The Woodlands TX.

Electronic Media Boundaries with Teens

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Summer is ending and it’s time to develop some good back to school habits. Your child’s school is developing policies regarding the use of cell phones, electronic readers, and smart pads during the school day. Take a cue from them and start now devising your own rules about your child’s use of electronics at home. Call it a ‘family social media policy’, or give it the bravado of calling it an Electronic Manifesto: putting reigns on gaming, texting and facebooking is a smart thing to do. Some important things to consider are bedtime use, and social networking.

Recently researchers at Columbia University concluded that “adolescents and teens with strict bedtimes of 10 p.m. or earlier were less likely to be depressed and to have suicidal thoughts than classmates whose parents allowed them to stay up until midnight or even later.” If your teen likes to use his phone or ipad to play games, text, or use social media in bed, he may be staying up later than you think. Eliminating bedtime use by creating a ‘electronics parking spot’ in a central location in the home could help your teen not only get to sleep earlier, but also improve sleep quality.

It is absolutely normal for teens to try on different personalities (jocks, Goths, Emo, etc.) and sites like Facebook, and Instagram allow teens to portray their different selves through words and pictures. Not all teens know how to share appropriately, however, and what they share on social media sites can have lasting effects. Raising teenagers in the electronics age means holding them accountable for how they are accessing the online realm. Insisting your teen share passwords to social networking sites will not be popular but it is a must for parents who want to keep their teens safe while they explore.

Addressing bedtime electronics use and social media passwords is a great way to start designing your ‘Electronics Manifesto’ for your home. Remember that half of setting boundaries with kids is to take into account their thoughts and concerns. So listen to your teen, don’t use the manifesto to be controlling, and as always, practice what you preach.

Dr. Kate Walker Ph.D. is owner and CEO of achievebalance.org found in The Woodlands TX.

Getting Ready for School

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

About this time of year the talk amongst parents of school age children turns to bedtime rituals, earth-friendly lunch containers, and shopping for school supplies. Not to be outdone, we at achievebalance.org decided to dedicate an article to the top 10 ways parents can smooth the transition from summer to fall. Supporting your child from a youth mental health standpoint is all about making sure your child is equipped with knowing the ropes Here is the top ten countdown for mentally getting ready for school this fall:

10. If you are transitioning your child to a new school, take time to visit the campus and ask for a tour.

9. Find out what kind of food is served in the cafeteria and allowed for snacks. Many schools have a policy against nuts and foods of minimal value (FMV).

8. Call the bus facility if your child is a bus rider to see what the commute time is in the morning and afternoon. Help your child prepare if the commute is long and the weather is extreme.

7. Create your list of emergency contacts. Schools always ask for them and its good for your child to know who may pick them up if you can’t. Teach your child never to go with anyone who is not on this list.

6. Donate to the local backpack/school supply drive while you are picking up your own supplies.

5. Talk to other parents about age-appropriate bedtimes. Everyone doesn’t have to be the same but it will be much easier to get your kids to go to bed on time if everyone in their group of friends has close to the same bedtime.

4. Check the school handbook before you go clothes shopping. Most schools without uniforms have rules about school clothes.

3. Get your child’s input on school lunch ideas.

2. If your child is having anxiety about the start of school or has trouble separating from you, check your own attitude and make sure you don’t seem fearful too.

1. Celebrate the end of summer and the start of school by doing something fun! Make it a new tradition you and your child can look forward to.

Parent, child, school…success!

Dr. Kate Walker Ph.D. is owner and CEO of achievebalance.org found in The Woodlands TX.

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