What parents need to know about video chatting

If your children have access to a computer with a webcam and an internet connection, they can use video chatting through their social networking, instant messaging accounts or a program like Skype.  While video chatting adds a richer dimension to communication, it also requires a higher level of responsibility and maturity. 

Is your child ready to handle the responsibilities of video chatting?  Do you have the time and energy to monitor your child's use of video chatting?  Common Sense Media provides some helpful parenting tips on video chatting

Video chatting led to serious problems for 11-year-old "Jessi Slaughter" (her screen name). Using her computer's webcam, she posted videos which included inflammatory language, profanity and violent threats.  Her videos quickly spread across the internet leading to mean pranks and death threats.  According to the ABC News story on Jessi,
Jessi created an Internet firestorm when she posted a nearly five-minute video raging against online bullies who had called her names and accused a friend of raping her.
But her online rage, posted to Stickam, a video-sharing site, and uploaded on YouTube, only prompted more hatred, this time from more experience and vicious computer junkies.
No family wants to go through this horrible experience.  Before giving your children access to video chatting, make sure you and your children are ready to handle the increased responsibility. 

Teens learning about becoming parents

The Parenting and Paternity Awareness (p.a.p.a.) curriculum developed by the State of Texas helps teens learn about the realities of being a parent.  Their site explains "Key themes in the curriculum focus on the importance of father involvement, the value of paternity establishment, the legal realities of child support, the financial and emotional challenges of single parenting, the benefits of both parents being involved in a child's life, healthy relationship skills, and relationship violence prevention."

Since this program was developed with taxpayer money, it is available for free to any teacher who goes through the 6 hour training program.  However, even if your teen's school doesn't offer this program, they can still watch the videos that are part of the p.a.p.a. curriciulum.  It's powerful to see teens explain the impact of having a baby on their lives. 

Four Things That Matter Most in Parenting

What four things matter the most in parenting? Could they be the same as the four things that matter most in life? It is likely they could be the same since our relationships with our children are some of the most significant ones we have in our lives.

The Four Things That Matter Most

In his book, The Four Things That Matter Most: A Book About Living, Ira Byock proclaims these are the four most important things to say to those you love:
  • Please forgive me.  
  • I forgive you.
  • Thank you.
  • I love you. 
Byock explains "Comprising just eleven words, these four short sentences carry the core wisdom of what people who are dying have taught me about what matters most in life." The book contains many moving stories of people who have healed relationships when they've been able to say these things to each other.

Forgiveness - The Hardest Thing To Do

One story in the book is about Avi who had been rejected by his father when he was a boy. He harbored a deep resentment against his father for his cruel behavior. When he found out his father was dying, he realized how much his hatred of his father was still controlling his own life. It was even interfering with the relationships he had with his own young sons.

(read the rest of the article at Priceless Parenting)

Characteristics of bullies and victims

Recent research reviewing 153 studies over the past 30 years on bullies and victims found consistent characteristics of bullies and victims.  The press release published by the American Psychological Assocation summarizes the findings from Clayton R. Cook, PhD, of Louisiana State University and co-authors from the University of California at Riverside:
“A typical bully has trouble resolving problems with others and also has trouble academically,” said Cook. “He or she usually has negative attitudes and beliefs about others, feels negatively toward himself/herself, comes from a family environment characterized by conflict and poor parenting, perceives school as negative and is negatively influenced by peers.”
“A typical victim is likely to be aggressive, lack social skills, think negative thoughts, experience difficulties in solving social problems, come from negative family, school and community environments and be noticeably rejected and isolated by peers,” said Cook.
Given these underlying issues, programs that focus on temporarily removing the bullies from the environment aren't very effective.  A better approach is recommended in the report:
“Intervene with the parents, peers and schools simultaneously,” said Cook. “Behavioral parent training could be used in the home while building good peer relationship and problem-solving skills could be offered in the schools, along with academic help for those having troubling in this area.”
While there are no easy solutions, working to address the underlying issues is in everyone's best interest.

TV and tots = language delays

As tempting as it is to put a young child in front of a TV for a moment of peace, resist the urge!   Evidence is mounting on various developmental problems in babies caused by watching too much TV.  Babies miss critical practice with language and reading emotions when they or their parents are distracted by TV.    
Discover Magazine reports research by Dr. Dimitri Christakis, a University of Washington pediatrician, showing that "for every hour a television was turned on, babies heard 770 fewer words from an adult, the new study found. Conversational exchanges between baby and parent dropped 15%, as did the overall number of vocalizations made by children."  

Babies brains are wired based on the input they receive.  They need lots of loving attention to develop their language and social skills.  These are the things a caring parent can provide but that a television does poorly at!

Tell me more

All the grandchildren wanted to spend time with my Grandma. What was it that made her so special? Why did we excitedly look forward to spending a few days with our family staying in her one bedroom apartment at the top of an old house?

Grandma had a wonderful way of making each of us feel treasured and appreciated. She asked about everything we were doing and listened carefully to all we had to say. We simply glowed under her attention.

Children thrive on positive attention. The next time your children mention a challenge they're struggling with, try replying “Come here and tell me all about it.” Let me know what happens!

You're being watched!

Have you ever noticed how closely your children observe your behavior, even when you think they're not paying attention? Many parents have grimaced when their young children can't seem to enunciate clearly until it comes to repeating a swear word that they just heard their parents say!

When I realized how carefully my children were watching my every move and often imitating me, I was motivated to become the best role model I could be. I learned that by treating them with respect and teaching them to treat me with respect, they treated their friends and teachers with respect. By showing compassion to them, they showed others compassion. I saw my behavior reflected in their behavior.

Allow children’s constant surveillance to bring out your finest behavior!

Dealing with a picky eater

What's a parent to do when their children regularly complain about their food? It's too crunchy, too mushy, too hot, too cold or worse yet it's touching other food!

According to a Zero to Three article, "Picky eating usually peaks in the toddler and preschool years. Many parents worry that their picky eater is not getting enough nutrition to grow. But in most cases, he is."

For ideas on handling your picky eater, read their article "It's Too Mushy! It's Too Spicy! The Peas Are Touching the Chicken! (Or, How to Handle Your Picky Eater)".

Sugared Cereal Is Not Healthy For Kids

Did you know that  sugared cereals have more sugar per serving than frosted cakes or donuts? Yikes! Dr. Michael Greger's article, &qu...