Help your Middle Schooler Thrive Socially

So many books and movies illustrate the struggle that adolescents go through in social relationships. The Hunger Games, Lord of the Flies, and Harry Potter illustrate the social dynamics at work in the middle-school aged social life: Belonging, power, status, identity, leadership, conformity, and intergroup conflict.  I really think that stories like The Hunger Games are wildly popular among “tweens” because they can relate to the struggle those adolescent characters are going through.  And, don’t you think the writers of those stories chose to make their characters adolescents for just this reason?  In The Hunger Games story, Katniss and Peeta are fighting
Read More →

Categories: Children, Personal Growth, Relationships, and School.

The Challenge of Difficult Emotions

Fear.  Shame.  Anger.  Boredom.  Sadness.  Disgust.  These are feelings we don’t enjoy, and we can often go to great lengths to avoid them.  This was documented centuries ago by Blaise Pascal, who is quoted to say “All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.”   We try to suppress these emotions, especially fear and shame.  However, as Brené Brown has noted, emotions are like the old string of Christmas lights: when we deny or turn off one light bulb (such as anger) the whole string goes out.  Essentially, we become emotionally disabled in
Read More →

Categories: Children, Faith issues, Family, Mental Health, Parenting, and Personal Growth.

Can you become a “Kid Whisperer”?

I was in Walmart the other day and this kid, probably about 12, was making farting noises by putting the palm of his hand up to his mouth.  He was happily making these sounds as he followed his mother up and down the aisles.   She told him to stop it several times.  Suddenly she turned around and yelled “I said stop!  Why do you keep making those noises!?”  He gave the classic “I don’t know” answer and about 5 minutes later, he started it again.  The mother never did understand what made her son want to make annoying noises
Read More →

Categories: Children, Family, and Parenting.

“Remember Who You Are”

Who our children become is important to parents, and the level of this importance is seen in how much time, money and effort parents devote to their kids.   I put “who” instead of “what” because “what” our kids become is limited to doing – what they do for a career, for a hobby, etc.  Who our children become is much broader than this, and includes how they think, act, and what they stand for in their lives.   Parents have a huge impact on this.  Thinking about your own child(ren), aren’t you more concerned with “who” they become than
Read More →

Categories: Children, Faith issues, Family, Parenting, and Personal Growth.

Get a New Strategy

I don’t know about you but summer whizzed by like a bottle rocket for our family, leaving us a little startled by the abrupt beginning to another school year.  The end of summer can catch us a little off guard.  That being the case, its still possible to get a grip and find a successful strategy to stay whole, balanced and healthy as a family.   This takes planning and preparation.  Here’s a few quotes that drive this message home: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” ~ Benjamin Franklin “You hit what you aim at, and if
Read More →

Categories: Children, Couples, Family, Marriage, Parenting, School, and Stress.

Empowering the Bored Child

“I’m bored.”  It doesn’t take too long before this statement is heard in the summer.  Its a monotone, depressing complaint.  It can trigger anger in parents to hear this, or at least mild irritation.  Boredom by definition is a feeling of weariness with one’s present task or lack of interesting pursuits.  Its something everyone has experienced.  Its a feeling we have to live with sometimes as its part of normal human existence.  Unfortunately, with Netflix and video games this generation of children can pacify their boredom without truly overcoming it successfully.  The result is a low-grade boredom, like a lingering
Read More →

Categories: Childhood Disorders, Children, Family, Managing Media, Mental Health, Parenting, and Personal Growth.

Parenting Guidelines for Social Media

Parents today are truly pioneers in parenting during the internet age.  I imagine that parenting faced a similar challenge when paper and pen became readily available, and again when the telephone became a ubiquitous household item. Now, we face a new challenge with how to wisely use social media.  Why this is a unique challenge is that parents are learning these rules for themselves at the same time they are setting guidelines for their children.   Parents are realizing that rules around social media are needed because even though it’s in “cyberspace,” what is said and done there has real-life
Read More →

Categories: Children, Family, Managing Media, and Parenting.

Homework: Setting up for Success

What child out there enjoys continuing school work at home?  What parent enjoys it?  I’m betting that most children and parents would rather not deal with homework. Just thinking about homework is probably not bringing up the most pleasant memories.  How many of us can remember, in a memoir sort of way, sitting at a table with math work to do while looking out the window at all the other kids playing and having fun?  The next day the teacher gets your homework with little smudges where your teardrops fell on the paper. This is usually the point in the
Read More →

Categories: Children, Family, Parenting, and School.

Are you a Helicopter Parent?

Parenting has been in the news recently.  New studies indicate that that a growing trend in college, and even graduate school, is parents being involved in managing their child’s (now a young adult) coursework, social life activities, conflicts with professors, and even calling schools to convince them to accept their child as a student!  This shouldn’t come as a surprise, really.  This is the logical outcome of “helicopter moms” and the “hovering” parenting style that has become increasingly common.  Parents didn’t suddenly start micro-managing their child’s life when they left for college, its the way its been all along for
Read More →

Categories: Children, Family, Parenting, School, and Transitions / Change.

Is Your Teen an iZombie? Dealing with Smartphone Addiction

        This picture is a testament to the ubiquity of the smart phone. Most of you who are reading this article probably have your smart phone within arm’s reach right now! It’s the reality of our age that smart phones are integrated into our daily life. The question we have to explore about our relationship to our smart phones is this; are we in control? For some the answer is yes, they use their phone within appropriate limits to communicate, to find information, to provide healthy entertainment and so on. For many others the answer is no,
Read More →

Categories: Children, Family, Managing Media, and Parenting.