Awareness of “Virtual” Peer Pressure: Reducing Negative Peer Pressure for School Age Children

Another parenting tip for helping reduce negative peer pressure for school age children is to become aware of “virtual” peer pressure and intervene early. A few months ago when I prepared this material for a group of school age parents in Ceres, California, I became distraught about the potential negative consequences of technology.

Everyone Knows

“Children can reject and blackmail others, encourage hate groups and ostracize others instantly. In the past, only your child’s class knew if he was ostracized, today, with Facebook, everyone knows, everyone can see it and everyone reads it right now.” (1)

Collecting “Likes”

Just as financial numbers equal power for some adults, popularity numbers are powerful for various school age children. “Children collect friends and ‘likes’ to demonstrate their popularity and influence–which can be used to pressure peers with a few keystrokes.

A Bully’s Power

Behind a screen, a bully has power.” (1) Bullying has expanded way beyond the school walls. I can’t count the number of television programs and movies I’ve watched about cyber bullying. Children can view so many negative comments and hatred online that it is easy for them to believe that saying things like this is okay. It eventually normalizes “bad” behavior. (1) And this bad behavior gains attention.

Using Technology

So as parents, do we prohibit our children from using the Internet? Some parents do, but the benefits of correctly using technology far outweigh the negatives. Here are five simple ways parents can help protect their children online.

Ways to Protect Online

  •  Connect to your children’s accounts immediately. Control their passwords. Don’t be passive. If you begin monitoring when they’re young, they’ll get used to it.
  • Keep computers in the family living areas where people are around. This helps remind you and your children that you are monitoring their activity. Role model this open accountability standard by using your computer in the same way.
  • Teach your child to use the computer correctly. There are so many fun options for them, keep them busy with learning activities.
  • Periodically check the search bar and view the site history and cache. Teach them what is acceptable and unacceptable for your family. What are warning signs that they are heading towards “dangerous ground”? Here’s one potential warning sign: The cache is empty when you view it!
  • Install a family-friendly software program that helps monitor your Internet. There are many available, even free programs. Consider using a program that reports all activity via email, rather than one that simply blocks certain words.

Feedback

If you’ve used software programs for internet safety, please post your results: good, bad, or otherwise. This can be helpful for other parents.

Sources:

1. Peer Pressure: Why it seems worse than ever and how to help kids resist it, Malia Jacobson, August 29, 2013, www.parentmap.com.

2. Image: technology typewriter image [thebluediamondgallery.com]

Know Friends’ Parents: Reducing Negative Peer Pressure for School Age Children

Here’s another parenting tip to help reduce negative peer pressure with your school age children.

Mr. Rogers was Right

Get to know the parents of your children’s friends and adults in your neighborhood. Most children attend elementary schools in the neighborhoods where they live; therefore, many of your children’s friends will live close by. Who are the people in your neighborhood?

Reduce Crime

In an age of automatic garage door openers where neighbors can come and go without interacting with others, how can you get to know your neighbors? One way is to begin a Neighborhood Watch program with the help of your local police or sheriff department. Neighborhood Watch is built on the concept that knowing your neighbors helps reduce crime. Crime reduction appeals to many people living right near you.

Fun Ideas

National Night Out (NNO) is celebrated the first Tuesday in August. Communities across the United States are encouraged to plan an evening to get to know their neighbors. In Modesto, California, a city in Central California, finds that NNO grows in popularity every year. In many communities like ours, National Night Out is sponsored by the city’s police department.

McGruff & Horses

Every year is different, but community service representatives arrive at these neighborhood events scattered around the city. One year two mounted police officers paraded about on horses. Another year firemen showed off their fire truck. A favorite was the year McGruff, The Crime Dog, arrived in a black limousine to remind us to, “Take a bite out of crime.” McGruff even has a web page for teaching kids safety featuring games, videos, advice, and downloads. 1

Neighborhood Events

Block parties and other neighborhood events we’ve organized, such as holiday caroling and 4th of July dessert followed by fireworks facilitate building relationships with others and making community connections. These adults are potential role models for your children. Teenagers are possible baby-sitters. One elderly couple on our street serves as honorary grandparents to countless school age children.

Common Ground

Seek other parents who have similar family guidelines. Try talking about common ground rules, like a parent needs to be home when friends are visiting. You may encounter more families with similar values than you expect. We did. We discovered like-minded adults in every neighbored who became significant others in our daughters’ lives. Getting to know neighbors is a terrific strategy for helping your children reduce negative peer pressure.

Sources:

1. McGruff, The Crime Dog. www.mcgruff.org.

2. Image: city-6056073_1280 [Pixabay.com]

Quiz: Are you a Helicopter Parent?

“Helicopter parents can be identified by their tendency to hover close to their child, ready to come to the rescue at the first sign of difficulty or disappointment,” explains Indiana University psychologist, Chris Meno. (1)

She counsels “over-parented” college students on gaining independence. “Helicopter parents can be identified by their tendency to hover close to their child, ready to come to the rescue at the first sign of difficulty or disappointment.” (1)

Here’s a quiz to help determine if you tend to allow your child to be responsible for her actions or if you lean towards helicopter parenting. I’ve used the term “child,” but you can also substitute the word child for “teen.”

Answer each question with rarely or never; sometimes; or usually. I’m looking for 5 more questions to add to the “quiz.” If you have a question or two to add, please post a comment. Thanks.

Question Never or Rarely Sometimes Usually
  • Do you wake up your child to get ready for school?
  • Do you continually remind your child it’s time to get up?
  • Do you keep repeating, “We leave for _____ (school, practice, or church) in ____ minutes.”?
  • If your child is late, do you change your schedule to accommodate your child’s tardiness?
  • Do you take responsibility for your child’s things, like packing her sports bag for practice or his backpack?
  • Do you complete or adjust your child’s homework and/or project until it meets your standards?
  • If your child forgets her homework, music instrument, and/or project do you take it to school for her?
  • Do you allow your child to stay home “sick” because he has a project due that isn’t done or a test she didn’t study for?
  • Do you regularly call or email your child’s teacher over grades or assignments?
  • Do you make excuses for your child’s misbehavior, such as, “The referee made a bad call.”?
  • Do you run onto the sports field immediately if your child’s hurt?
  • Do you rush in to settle your child’s disputes to ensure it is settled fairly?
  • When your child fails at something, do you reward him for trying?
  • Do you wait on your child by getting her snack or something to drink?
  • Do you prepare different food because your child doesn’t like what the family is eating?
  • Do you expect your child not to do chores since school is his “work”?
  • Do you manage your child’s schedule?
  • Do you call or text your child many times a day to check in?
  • Is your child or teen your best friend?
  • Do you manage your child’s money? Allowance?

Answer Key:

If you typically answered “never or rarely,” you tend to allow your child to be responsible for his actions.

If you generally answered “sometimes,” you often allow your child to be responsible for her actions, but sometimes you rescue your child.

If you answered “usually” to the majority of the questions, you regularly rescue your child and take responsibility for him. This is referred to as “helicopter parenting.”

 

Sources:

  1. “Helicopter parents” stir up anxiety, depression, Indiana University, IU Newsroom, newsinfo.iu.edu
  2. Image: Stock.XCHNG www.sxc.hu/. helicopter-3-1032378-m

 

Peer Pressure & Helicopter Parents

“The more you like yourself,

the less you are like anyone else,

which makes you unique.” —Walt Disney

A generation ago, I didn’t teach parents of school-age children how to instruct their children about peer pressure. But times have changed.

Unfortunately, peer pressure, is starting earlier; happening at lightning speed; on an unprecedented scale; and is fueled by social media. To make matters worse, today’s children may be less equipped to resist peer pressure, due to overprotective “helicopter parents.” (1)

Helicopter Parents Defined

Jennifer O’Donnell defines the term “Helicopter parents” “as a group of parents who engage in the practice of over-parenting. Helicopter parents are accused of being obsessed with their children’s education, safety, extracurricular activities, and other aspects of their children’s lives.” (1)

Another Definition

Another description by Indiana University psychologist Chris Meno adds, “Helicopter parents can be identified by their tendency to hover close to their child, ready to come to the rescue at the first sign of difficulty or disappointment.” (2)

Helping or Hindering?

Parents mistakenly believe they’re helping their children; however, their hovering and doing almost everything for their children is actually hindering them. These children cope less effectively than other children.  Since the parents have trouble setting limits for their children, the children have a hard time setting limits for their friends. (3)
Sources:
  1. What are Helicopter Parents? Jennifer O’Donnell, About.com Guide. 
  2. Peer Pressure: Why it seems worse than ever and how to help kids resist it, Malia Jacobson. 
  3. “Helicopter parents” stir up anxiety, depression. Indiana University, IU Newsroom, newsinfo.iu.edu. 
  4. Image: nicubunu-Peer-to-peer [freesvg.org]

 

 

 

New Opportunity for Writing: HARO

I’ve discovered a new opportunity for writing. It is called HARO, Help A Reporter Out. HARO is a network of writers who are seeking experts on topics they’re writing about. I’m responding as a child development expert to some of their requests. This is the first article I’m quoted in. Signs Your Child Is or Isn’t Ready for Preschool. Here’s a link to the article.

http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/1005839/signs-your-child-is-or-isnt-ready-for-preschool

“Something New” Hope Street: My Journey


On October 5th, 2013 I’m going to do something I’ve never done before. For several months I’ve been exercising twice a week and doing some bike riding. My husband and I ride on some bike paths, but mostly I ride in our neighborhood by myself. Well, almost by myself.

Dancing in Circles

I wear a front pack that carries my ferocious Chihuahua, Grace. Despite the fact that she barks all the time at home, she’s the perfect bike passenger. She dances in circles when I ask, “Do you want to go on a bike ride?” and rarely makes a peep on the ride. I always feel safe when she rides with me.

Half-Way There

Today I’m proud of myself because I met my half way goal for my new adventure. I’ll be riding a 20 mile bicycle “Fun Ride” at Clear Lake. I rode ten miles today. We’re not discussing time here, just the distance.

I Paid for That?

I’ve never done anything like this before. For those of you who know me, I’m not very coordinated and not even a teeny bit athletic. But I like riding my bike. I love to see God’s beauty and listen to the birds as I pedal along. I needed some kind of goal.

The Ride

I checked bike club rides but most are over 25 miles, so I had to start somewhere. I found this ride in a bike riding booklet. I even bought a pair of bike shorts. I never paid so much money for something so ugly. Oh, except for my hiking vest and pants when I started bird watching and hiking. I’m not sure which are the ugliest.

What About You?

So I’m doing something totally out of my comfort zone. What about you? or your children? Have your children or teens been talking about something they want to do…someday? Is there something you’ve thought about trying but decided not to? Schools started this week in Modesto. A new school year is the perfect time to choose to do something new. I’d like to hear your stories of your new adventures. I’ll keep you posted on mine.

 

Image Soucce: bike route traffic sign [publicdomainvectors.org]

 

Back to School & Sleep

Ahhhh, summer vacation. Swimming, camping, amusement parks, and later bed times for children.

Boy People Portrait Cute Sleeping Child Indian

School is just around the corner. How can parents help get their children’s sleep back on schedule so they’re not tired when school starts and the alarm goes off way earlier than in the summer?

Do the Math

About two weeks before school starts, calculate how much earlier your children need to get up for school. For example, is your child is sleeping in until 9:00 AM and will have to get up at 7:00 AM for school, that’s two hours. Figure out roughly how much earlier they need to get up each day so that they’re ready for the school alarm clock. If they got up just ten minutes earlier every day, they’d be on track for the earlier wake-up time.

How Much Sleep?

While you’re figuring out their wake-up times, just how much sleep does your child need? The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (2012) recommends that school age children (kindergarteners to 8th graders) need 9 to 10 hours of sleep. Ninth and 10th graders need 9.25 hours while 11th and 12th graders need 8.5 hours.

More Sleep?

Your child needs more sleep if he/she has challenges getting up in the morning. Obviously, if your child falls asleep during school, he/she needs more sleep. Another reason your child may need more sleep if they are overly active and/or acting out.

Routines Help

Make bedtime consistent, relaxing routine. For younger children, a bath and story time are positive ways to end the day. If your children are sensitive to caffeine and/or sugar, eliminate these in the evenings. Don’t forget, chocolate contains caffeine.

Electronics & Sleep

Keep electronics out of the bedroom two hours before bedtime. Even the light from televisions or electronic devices can suppress the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps aides sleep. Following these suggestions and a healthy breakfast will help your child be ready to learn when he/she returns to school this fall.

 

Image Source: Boy-People-Portrait-Cute-Sleeping-Child-Indian-3621405 [maxpixel.net]

Book Review: My Sister’s Keeper

When I taught Child Development in a Learning Community with an English teacher at Merced College, all the reading was based on child development content. The fiction book we selected was My Sister’s Keeper.

The Story

The story begins with a couple’s decision to genetically engineer a baby to become a bone marrow match for the two-year-old sister Kate’s leukemia. Although the book actually covers two weeks, with flashbacks, the reader gains a fuller picture of the three siblings’ child and adolescent years.

Controversy

Author Jodi Picoult is known for taking real life controversial issues and presenting multiple views from various characters. How far would you go to save your child’s life? Picoult weaves the view of the father, mother, oldest brother, sister Anna, sister Kate, Cambell (Anna’s pro bono attorney), and Julia (Anna’s guardian ad item) in this emotionally riveting book.

Life as a “Designer Baby”

Since Anna’s arrival as a “designer baby,” she’s had countless medical procedures to save her sister’s life. At thirteen, when Anna’s parents plan for her kidney donation, Anna makes a decision to sue her parents for the rights to her own body.

Movie Not the Same

If you’ve seen the movie released in June 2009 and haven’t read the book, be prepared. The movie doesn’t entirely follow the book. The 423 page book is far more emotionally gripping. The author takes readers on a distressing roller coaster ride. As with all good roller coaster rides, there’s an unexpected twist at the end.

Food for Thought

This book is a tear jerker but gives such a concise picture of the struggles each family member deals with when a child is seriously ill. This book raises questions about medical ethics, family conflict, and the power of love. The book includes a Q & A section with the author and questions for discussion. When you read the book, you’ll want to discuss it with someone.

Book Information: My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult, Washington Square Press, 2004. This book is available through Amazon.com. Paperback $12.67; Kindle $10.38; Hardcover $19.48; Audio CD $25.64.

 

Book Review: All Grown Up and No Place to Go: Teenagers in Crisis

All Grown Up...As I research for my book series, From Diapers to Diamonds: Raising Responsible Adults, I discover a book that raises many of the issues I’m answering in this parenting series. Slouching Toward Adulthood: Observations from the Not-So-Empty Nest written by Sally Koslow documents why a generation of carefully nurtured young adults is delaying adulthood.

“Adultescents”

Though she offers no solutions except during a brief last chapter, she simply reports what she discovered from research and interviewing parents and what she calls “adultescents” during 2010 and 2011.

“Twenty-eight is the new nineteen”

This thirteen chapter book provides a picture of college graduates returning home and living with their parents another decade or so. In the first chapter, A Public Display of Reflection, she explains how she learned that “twenty-eight is the new nineteen,” and included a new decade, the “odyssey, the decade of wandering that frequently occurs between adolescence and adulthood,” (p. 11) and she panicked. This information triggered the impetus for her book.

Engaging

I found this book so engaging. It’s flagged with countless post it notes and comments written throughout the book. She examines young adults’ relationships to work or not to work, money, and their social lives. In chapter three: Choose Your Own Adventure, she addresses the challenges with decision making. “Forget Plan B. There isn’t a Plan A,” (p. 24).

There’s No Place Like Home

This entitled generation comes home after college because “…there’s nowhere else they could live better,” (p. 68). Two of my favorite chapters include chapter five: The U-Haul as Umbilical Cord and chapter six: Adultesents Without Borders. If your children have returned home or you hope they don’t return home, read this book. It gives a solid picture of what’s going on with the current generation of “adultescents.”

Book Information

Slouching Toward Adulthood: Observations from the Not-So-Empty Nest, Sally Koslow, Viking Penguin Group, 2012. Available at Penguin.com. Hardcover $25.95; paperback $16.00; eBook $9.99. Paperback, 2013 with a new introduction.

Laundry or Writing?

“What keeps you from writing?” questions keynote speaker, during a writers conference in late March.

“The laundry,” one mother replies.

The laundry? How old are your kids? I wonder.

The speaker wonders the same. “How old are your kids?” he probes.

“Four teenagers and one husband,” she boasts.

I hear the audience’s collective surprise. I haven’t done my kids’ laundry since they turned 13. Are you still doing your teenagers laundry? Is there something you do for your kids that they could do themselves? Is there something else you’d rather do with your time?

Milestones

My husband and I were committed to training our daughters to live independently and possess necessary life skills by the time they graduated from high school. Laundry falls into this category. We wanted milestones our children could experience in tangible ways affirming that they were growing up. Getting older requires more responsibilities, but it also comes with more privileges.

Privileges & Responsibilities

Starting at age ten, we negotiated with them both a privilege and a responsibility. Some years they chose the same privilege and responsibility while other years they differed. Each year they also went to bed 15 minutes later. For example, when they turned ten, they went to bed at 8:15 PM. The privilege they chose was getting their ears pierced. The responsibility was making family dinner one night a week.

Dinner Duty

“Make dinner one night a week?” a parent whines. “My kids can barely use the microwave.”

Yes, make dinner every week. They can do this because I started training our girls in the kitchen before they were two years old. Pictures attest to pouring with measuring cups, cracking eggs, using a hand mixer, and spooning cookie batter onto a baking sheet. Of course they made a mess. But they also enjoyed eating foods they helped prepare while learning math skills and nutrition. By age ten, they were ready. We had our fair share of burritos, spaghetti, and hot dog casserole. As they got older, they began trying more complex family recipes and finding recipes on their own.

Gender Issues

I know what you’re thinking. Your children are girls. You didn’t raise boys. It’s true, but we would have made the same requirements if we had had sons. They need the same skills for living independently as girls do. Serving as a male role model, my husband also began cooking dinner one night a week. Well, at least that’s what he called bringing home take-out food for some of his “cooking” nights.

Finally, A Driver’s License

But my favorite privilege and responsibility arrived with my daughters’ sweet sixteen birthday celebrations. Since my oldest daughter was eight, I’d been counting how many more years until she’d drive. Driving a car comes with a multitude of privileges, otherwise known as freedom, but also a multitude of responsibilities, otherwise known as DMV laws.

New Freedom for All

This new freedom wasn’t only for our daughters, but freedom for us as parents. Freedom from taking them everywhere they needed to go. The privilege: our car to drive as long as they maintained a 3.0 GPA. The responsibility: creating a family menu every two weeks and grocery shopping on a budget. We didn’t plan a menu and do major grocery shopping for over four years until our youngest moved out. What could you do with all that extra time?

Back to the Laundry

I just got so excited about the privileges and responsibilities that I forgot about the laundry challenges. I know. You’re concerned your teenagers will ruin their clothes. Most likely they won’t for two reasons. One, you’ve spent years training them; and two, they have a clothing budget that started at age twelve. They might ruin clothes YOU bought them, but its less likely they’ll ruin the ones they budgeted for and purchased. They know exactly how much each item costs and what it will cost to replace it. I’ll address more on that topic when I write more on “Money Matters.”

Laundry or ….?

So what would you rather do with your time?  Laundry or … ? I’d rather write. And since I don’t do my own laundry until Friday, today I’ll write.

 

Image Source: detergent-laundry [publicdomainpictures.net]