After-school activities – Less may be better

After-school activities – Less may be better

The beginning of the school year marks the start of extra-curricular activities like soccer, music lessons, dance classes and so on. Involvement in these activities can enrich your children’s lives and help them master difficult skills. They also create a sense of connection to people and a feeling of belonging to organizations that are important to them.

Problems of over-committing

Your children’s schedules may be exhausting to them and you. You may want to register them in activities not because they want to participate, but because other children are participating coupled with the fact that society requires children to perform excellently in both school and extra-curricular activities. There is pressure for children to acquire skills at very fast pace and for their parents to enroll them in an overwhelming number of activities.

Over-committing your children to different activities can be disastrous to their development, causing them to be overwhelmed by the expectations placed upon them. They often don’t have the opportunity to relax, play, be quiet and be unscheduled. In other words, to just be kids.

Learning and building broader skills are very important for a child’s development, however, a balance of work and free time is needed. It is helpful to appreciate the value of having fun.

Play should not be neglected, as children who are allowed to play are most times, more emotionally healthy and creative than those who are not given the time.

Make a choice

Making the right choices for your child can take a lot of pressure off you and it can also help you make transition to the fall schedules less stressful for the whole family.

Each family is unique and as such, need to decide for itself the degree of activities that is right for them. It is not a one formula fits all, for every family and their child. Some families may thrive on a very active schedule, while others may not.

How to maintain a balance

You can consider the following points in helping you develop a balance that fits your family’s style.

  • Know your child’s limit

Always take into consideration your child’s personality when deciding how many activities he should sign up for. Certain children can handle and cope with a very busy schedule while others cannot.

  • Know your family and recognize its needs

These days, family members are so rushed that there is little opportunity to connect with one another. It is important to create opportunities for family togetherness and time for pleasures and relaxation. These times can be scheduling a few times in a week when everyone eats a meal together and shares the events of the day.

  • Know yourself and your limits

If at any time, you are displeased with your children’s busy schedules, consider taking a step back to create a healthy balance for everyone.  Remember that by taking care of yourself in this way, you will be modeling for your children how they can take care of themselves.

Ways Parents Can Help Prevent Teen Depression

Ways Parents Can Help Prevent Teen Depression

Parents are understandably worried about their teens. The ever increasing rate of teen suicides and depression, have made parents wonder what they could do to help kids overcome treacherous moments during their adolescent years.

Fortunately, scientists have come up with some advice on how to better understand impacts of depression on teens and how to prevent it. These suggestions are explained below.

Provide continual warmth, caring and support

A study result in 2016 of some group of teenagers from different  ethnic backgrounds, have showed that teens with sufficient parental support had lower depression symptoms and lower cortisol and C- reactive protein levels – two physiological markers associated with depression – than teens with less supports.

One important thing from this study is that, supports from peers did not change these markers, suggesting to us that parental support is key.

So, the best way to help guide your teen is to provide appropriate supports without discounting their emotional lives. Showing empathy, asking open-ended rather than pointed questions, seeking to understand rather than correct, being gentle when your teen’s words and actions don’t match, and showing support for their growing autonomy. Most importantly, adequate support and enforcing appropriate limits, are key toward helping your teen avoid depression.

Teach and model strong social and emotional skills

Teens also go through different social and emotional situations, just like adults. These include changing friends, sour romantic relationships, disappointments, the stress of academics and so on. So, coping with these challenges can be difficult, making teens more prone to depression.

According to report, parents can help their teen face emotional challenges by modelling positive emotional responding.

Parents can also help their kids through emotional coaching, starting by accepting their teen’s feelings. Also, practicing mindfulness – which is an awareness of one’s present emotions, thoughts, and experiences – can help parents keep calm whenever they are interacting with teens. This in turn helps teens avoid depression, anxiety, and the use of drugs, which have all been linked to depression.

Encourage positive peer relationship

Teens look to their peers for approval and status. But if these relationships are agitated, they may lead to depression.

A study in 2015, reported that having positive friends, and being in a romantic relationship, can help protect the teenage child from social anxiety and depression.

However, negativity and abuse in friendship and romantic relationship can lead to social anxiety and depression.

So, parents can help their kids by not becoming unnecessarily worried because their kids have many friends and by understanding that taking risks in relationships is part of growing up

Encourage teens to seek purpose in life

Research have shown that having a sense of purpose in life or even searching for one is beneficial for teens, especially as they get older.

Parents need to always interact with their teens by asking relevant questions and then listen carefully to what they have to say in order to assess where their sense of purpose may lie.

So, if parents can practice these points and others, they will not only help their teens avoid problems like depression, but will also help to shape a positive future for them and for society.

Tips for parenting in digital age

Tips for parenting in digital age

Kids between the ages of 6 and 23 fall into the category of people who are now referred to as Post-Millennial or iGen. IGen is a recent name given to any one born between 1995 and 2012. They are about 24% of the American population and the most diverse in the history of America. They are also the most digitally connected and smartphone addicted generation. They were born after the internet has been commercialized and each of them will enter adolescence in the age of the smartphone. As parents, we face many challenges in parenting these kids in the digital age.

Characteristics of iGen

The iGen generation are marked by a few things and they are highlighted below

They are smartphone natives

According to a report, about 80% of iGens are smartphone users.

They are always online

IGens are spending massive amount of time online. They are virtually never offline.

They are secularizing

About one fourth of iGens do not attend religious activities or practice any form of private spirituality

They perceived one another through fractured bites

They connect and learn about one another digitally and in fragments

They are woke

IGens are socially awoke as they can stand up for anyone who is vulnerable and they can rally as seen in such rallies like March for Our Lives and the National School Walkout Day

Tips for iGen parents

Delay social media as long as possible

Social media poses a dilemma. Social media is where teens look for life and it is what costs them their lives. Parents must help their kids see this paradox. Social media, unwisely used, will cost them something precious.

Delay smartphones as long as possible

Once parents introduce their child to a smartphone, with texting and apps like Instagram and Snapchat, parental controls are virtually futile. Kids can be exposed to all kind of materials like nude selfies and sexualized conversations and the parent may never know. So, resist the pressure to give your kid one and don’t leave old phones around.

Keep screens out of bedrooms

Always make this a rule in your home. From 8pm to 8am every day, impose a no TVs, gaming devices, laptops, tablets or phones. Break off the endless social demands, gaming addiction and preserve sleep patterns.

Write a smartphone contract

When you move to the smartphone, write a contract of expected behaviors, curfews, family expectations that comes along with the phone. Have your child share their login information and get familiar with steps to temporarily pause or deactivate the phone

Redeem dinners, car rides and vacations as a family

Ensure you enforce a no phone rule during dinner times, family car rides and  family vacations . Unhurried time together especially during dinner is very important because it provide an opportunity for parents to get to know their kids. It also afford parents to interact with their kids and ask questions like, what happened at school? This fellowship is carried over in more intense way on family vacations.