Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Why healthy self-worth is important for children!

Self Worth – Self Worth is the value that people put on themselves and it's based on their self-concept and self-esteem. 
        “People in my life (father, mother, friends, boss, teachers) care about me.  I am valued by others, therefore, I value my self.”

Self Concept – Self Concept is the way someone thinks about him/herself.
       “I think that I am capable….I can do things for myself and accomplish important things.”

Self-Esteem – Self Esteem is the way someone feels about him/herself.
      “I feel good about myself.  I can make a mistake but it doesn’t mean that I am a bad person.”

Why should we care of our children develop a healthy self esteem?  It is important that children develop positive self worth, self concept and a healthy self esteem.  Children (and adults) who value themselves, think positive, and feel good about who they are tend to be happy, helpful children.   They take care of their bodies, and act in ways that will benefit their futures.    

A healthy (good) self esteem is based on experiences.  These experiences include the way he is talked to, the things that he learns, and the way he is accepted by others.  Parents are mostly responsible for their children’s self esteem because parents have the most contact with their children and and the most interaction with them.  Healthy (good) parenting helps to develop a healthy self esteem. The way that parents respond to their children's experiences helps them to process the experience as good or bad. Chose your words carefully. Realize that children and teens struggle to learn every day and notice their progress. Understand that brain development continues throughout the teens years till they reach their mid-twenties and be patient.

Ways NOT to build a healthy self esteem:
·         Yelling and screaming scare children.  Children who are yelled at will learn to yell themselves.
·         Hitting, yanking, or grabbing at children scares them.  Children who are hit, yanked, or grabbed learn to hit, yank, and grab. 
·         Name calling and swearing at children scares them.  Children who are called names and sworn at learn to call names and swear.

These methods scare children and they do not want to be around their parents.  When children are fearful and start to expect anger as a reaction, they stop going to their parents for help and advice and they stop using them as sounding boards for their big decisions. The people who are less scary and more accepting are their friends, so they start asking their advice and help on the big decisions...they learn their friend's values and morals instead of yours!!

Understanding that you're still ok even when you make mistakes and other's are criticizing you is huge and so helpful even when you're an adult.

Check out the CARE website at http://www.careofsem.com/ or call 586.541.0033 for our current list of parenting classes.

And don't forget to tune into our March 7 Parent Chat on Strong-willed Mothers and Daughters at 11:30 am at http://www.macombdaily.com/

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

12 Tips for talking to teens about sex!

1. Be knowledgeable and prepared. Read books, pamphlets, etc.

2. Answer questions on the spot. If that is not possible, say you will discuss it later and be sure to follow through.

3. Answer questions honestly.

4. Make answers short and to the point.

5. Just answer the question you are asked…don’t read into it.

6. Use proper terminology such as vagina, penis, sexual intercourse, etc. Explain slang terms but encourage children to use the proper names.

7. It is OK to admit to your child that you are embarrassed or that you don’t know an answer.

8. If you don’t know an answer, find it together. Go to the library, health department, call a hot line, or go online to a reliable website.

9. Be alert to situations that encourage discussions on sexual issues (pregnant classmate, movies, and/or TV shows).

10. Leave appropriate books and brochures lying around the house so that teens will find them.

11.  Talk to your child about values. Encourage them to think about what is important for their lives.

12.  Educate your child in degrees until all information is known.
Taken from YMCA Swift Program brochure.

The most important tip is to talk early and talk often. Children and teens need to hear the information more than once.

If you act uncomfortable and avoid talking about this subject, they will stop coming to you and start going to their friends!!

We discuss many issues just like this in our STEP parenting classes. If you would like to find out where to join a group, please call CARE of Southeastern Michigan at 586-541-0033. CARE offers parenting classes in many locations throughout Macomb County.

I also co-host a parenting chat the first Wednesday of each month at http://www.macombdaily.com/ If you would like to see the transcripts of some of our previous chats, search in archives for "Parent Chat".

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The first and most important STEP to stop bullying!

Great link to an article about empathy:   http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1982190,00.html

One of the skills that we discuss in our STEP Parenting classes is good communication. Reflective listening asks parents to listen and then reflect what they think their child is feeling. Children and teens then know that they are being listened to and understood...which validates their feelings.

We also discuss I-messages which are a way for parents to let their children know how their behavior affects them without shaming or blaming. 
Less defensiveness = less conflict.

Not only are children learning how to listen themselves when they see it modeled by their parents, they also learn that talking about feelings is ok,  and they learn empathy..the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

To find out about workshops and summer camps designed to teach children self-respect and personal empowerment visit http://www.girlsempowered.com

If you are interested in more information on parenting issues, CARE of Southeastern Michigan offers parenting classes throughout the year at various locations in Macomb County. You can view upcoming classes, get more information, and register online at http://www.careofsem.com/workshops.php or call CARE at 586-541-0033.

I also co-host a parenting chat at http://www.macombdaily.com/ with the Health and Lifestyle Writer, Maryanne Kocis-MacLeod, on the 1st Wednesday of the month at 11:30-12:30 pm.

Monday, February 6, 2012

How do we teach our children to ask for help?

Next Wednesday, February 15, the topic of the parent chat will be how to keep our children safe from predators. This follows on the heels of the recent news story of the third grade teacher in Los Angeles who had been molesting children between 2008 and 2010. He had been a teacher, though, for 30 years so they really don't know how many children he may have violated.

So how do we keep our children safe? How do we teach children that it's ok to ask for help? How do we get children to come to us when they are being told to do something that does not feel right to them? I'm sure those Los Angeles parents talked to their children so why didn't it help?

It made me think back to when I was a first grader. I had two hamsters, Tom and Jerry, that turned out to really be Tom and Geraldine! Two pet hamsters turned into many, many hamsters! Well one day my first grade teacher decided to call me up in front of the class, tape a red ball to my nose, and announce to the rest of the class that I was a hamster.  Everyone laughed but I was humiliated...no 6 year old likes to be the butt of a joke and have an entire classroom of her peers laughing at her.

Flash forward 20-some years to my sister, mother, and I sitting around discussing the upcoming school-wide reunion at this particular school. As we discussed the teachers that we hoped would be there, I mentioned my first-grade teacher and what had happened. We all had a few weird stories to share about this woman and my mother was horrified. She said, "Why didn't you tell me that happened? I would have called them up and complained."  I told her that I didn't know at that time that I had a choice in the matter. I was raised to be an obedient child and it wasn't in my nature to question an authority figure and say "No" to her or to complain. If an adult told me to do something, I did it without question because they knew better. Of course, she didn't do anything that would be considered abusive; but what if she did?

When I raised my children, I felt that I didn't have the luxury of raising obedient children. I wanted them to think for themselves and learn how to say no.  Problem was, they also said no to me; but I can handle that because I'm the parent. They needed to learn during the in-service workshop of home so that they could take what they learned and use it in the real world. I was very lucky and my children never had to experience the horrors that those children in Los Angeles did, but I sure would like to have had all the ammunition that I could to save them if they needed it.

Consider being a part of our chat on February 15. Our guest panelists will include a counselor who works with children and a program director who also helps children and families of abuse.  The time is 11:30-12:30 pm and the website is included in the information below.

If you are interested in more information on parenting issues, CARE of Southeastern Michigan offers parenting classes throughout the year at various locations in Macomb County. You can view upcoming classes, get more information, and register online at http://www.careofsem.com/workshops.php or call CARE at 586-541-0033.
I also co-host a parenting chat at http://www.macombdaily.com/ with the Health and Lifestyle Writer, Maryanne Kocis-MacLeod, on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of the month at 11:30-12:30 pm.