Saturday, August 29, 2015

5 Tips on How Parents Can Prepare Their Pre-Teens for Back-To-School Success

5 Tips on How Parents Can Prepare Their Pre-Teens for Back-To-School Success

5 Tips on How Parents Can Prepare Their Pre-Teens for Back-To-School Success
By Joshua J Soto

As summer comes to an end and the new school year begins, parents can often experience stress in getting their kids back school. Stress can include taking your pre-teen or teen shopping for back-to-school supplies and clothes, which may also include tuition if they are attending private school. Some parents may also find themselves feeling worried or concerned if their child is starting at a new school, or starting the new school year with a good start.

1. Invite them to talk:

Managing your workload and the household can result in parent's overlooking their pre-teen's feelings of anxiousness with difficult social situations at school. Pre-teens can find themselves feeling stressed out about understanding their homework, and building and maintaining friendships. Ask your pre-teen if there's anything about going back to school that they are worried about. This lets them know that you're interested and willing to make the time to listen to them.

2. Empathize & Look for Positives

Being a pre-teen can be challenging when you're experiencing changes with both the physical growth of puberty, school, and their social life. Change can be both exciting and difficult for them learning in the classroom and building relationships in their peer group. When you acknowledge what your pre-teen is sharing about school and their peer group you are also letting them know that you're aware of what they're going through, and that you will always be there for them along the way as they need you. While it's normal to have some level of anxiety about starting school, it's important to point out that things may not always be as bad as they make them out to be. It is important to teach resilience by encouraging your pre-teen to face their fears rather than avoid it. Ask them if there's anything that they liked about school last year, and how that can be a part of them starting a new year at school.

3. Start a routine for success

Summer vacation often gives way to both pre-teens and teens developing the bad habit of going to sleep later than usual. Some parents don't mind this during the summer, but the drawback is that it's hard getting them back into good routines. A lack of sleep is often a major factor in how well people deal with stress, and this is never more true than with the developing mind of an adolescent. Starting a regular routine of going to sleep before the first week of school can soften the blow of them having to wake up early or look like a zombie getting ready and out the door. As much as your pre-teen may insist that they can do it on their own (it's not always the case), helping them organize where they keep things like their backpack, binder, and lunch money - can help make the morning go a little smoother.

4. Check in (and follow up) with the teacher

During the first week of school introduce yourself to your pre-teen's teacher. If your pre-teen has an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) or 504 plan, then it helps to establish a connection with them that lets them know you're open to and invested in their academic success. Don't wait until parent-teacher conference to check in and see how things are going. If you have a parent portal through the school, then you can view your child's grades and attendance, or communicate with teachers by e-mail if that's the preferred way to communicate. The homeroom teacher can be an important ally and advocate for your child's education, and with informing you about anything that comes up before it becomes a serious problem.

5. Don't wait for a problem, ask for help

If you're pre-teen or teen had a hard time with stress or anxiety last school year, then it's possible that it could be a recurrent problem. If you think that the stress this school year may be too much for both you and your pre-teen to handle on your own, then consulting with a therapist will help both you and them better manage and cope.

Whether you are a single parent, or have a spouse, communicate with them about how your child is doing in school and how they are growing. Keep in mind that your pre-teen may face some new challenges this year. Remember that as a parent you can be empowered as the expert on your child and trust that you'll bet there to listen and support them in growing up.

"The purpose of learning is growth, and our minds, unlike our bodies, can continue growing as we continue to live." ~Mortimer Adler

Joshua Soto, MA is a Marriage and Family Therapist Registered Intern (639) in private practice in Irvine, CA. Josh specializes in working with pre-teens, teens, and young adults. Josh also facilitates counseling groups to assist young people to learn mindfulness, social skills, and healthy coping skills to manage stress at home and at school. He is employed and supervised by Dr. Renee Miller, LMFT (43207) at 18023 Sky Park Circle, Suite G, Irvine, CA. Josh is accepting new clients and can be reached at (714) 422-0396

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Friday, August 28, 2015

Keeping Children Healthy, Safe and Fit During Winter

Keeping Children Healthy, Safe and Fit During Winter

Keeping Children Healthy, Safe and Fit During Winter
By Meagan Deacon

Tips for keeping kids healthy outside during cold and flu season.

While you're probably well aware of tips and tricks for staying healthy and protecting yourself from germs and viruses, kids may need some help. Getting plenty of exercise outside on the playground and in local parks is also important for kids - even during the snowy winter months. This might seem like a conflict of interests, so here are a few helpful tips to keep in mind.

Watch out for other sick kids:

When you're helping children gear up for an afternoon on playground equipment, one of the best things you can do to keep them germ-free is recognize other sick kids in the group. If there's one little boy or girl who is stifling a cough or sneeze, you might want to keep him or her separate from the rest of the kids. While this child may not be sick enough to have to stay home in bed, there's still the chance he or she could spread the illness to the other kids.

Bundle everyone up:

While winter weather doesn't cause colds or the flu, it can increase children's chance of developing an illness. This is because low temperatures force the body to work harder to stay warm, which means less energy is available for the immune system to fight off viruses and bacteria. In order to help boost children's immune capabilities, make sure they're wearing plenty of warm clothing before heading outside to play. Beyond a winter jacket, snow pants, boots, scarves, winter hats and gloves can keep kids warm and toasty in the winter weather.

Provide balanced meals:

Eating right isn't just important for maintaining a healthy weight, it's also vital for keeping the immune system strong. A diet that features too much sugary junk food like candy, cookies and soda can actually depress and weaken the body's ability to ward off sickness. However, foods with plenty of vitamins and minerals - particularly vitamin C-rich citrus fruits - can boost energy levels and immunity to germs. In combination with plenty of rest every night, a beneficial diet can keep children healthy.

Do you know how to keep kids safe in chilly weather?

It's no secret that kids love to spend their time outside on plastic playgrounds, even when the weather is less than ideal. Because of this, it's critical to be mindful of how children are dressed when they're allowed to use playground equipment in inclement weather. For instance, cold temperatures can raise the risk of hypothermia in little ones, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Similarly, rainy weather can result in health complications when kids are permitted to play outdoors under cloudy skies. Here are some tips on how to ensure that individuals are properly dressed for all weather conditions prior to allowing them to use the playgrounds at your facility.

Look for extra layers:

Extra layers of clothing above and below the waist are essential for outdoor play, especially during winter, according to the Appalachian Mountain Club. Ideally, children should have an undershirt or a fleece beneath their coat. Similarly, long-johns can be worn underneath waterproof pants to provide additional warmth to little ones while they run around the playground.

Keep extremities protected:

Some of the most vulnerable areas of the body are the bands and feet. To keep them safe, children should be wearing gloves and thick socks while playing outdoors. Additionally, hats and scarves may be needed to keep them comfortable and shielded from the elements. These items may feel a bit restrictive to kids who want freedom while using the monkey bars or the slide, but they're necessary for safety while spending an extended period of time outside. Think about recommending pieces such as gloves instead of mittens to make the clothing more convenient to wear.

Opt for waterproofing at all costs:

Ideally, waterproof clothing should be worn to prevent children from absorbing any outdoor moisture and becoming cold. If a child does not have the proper waterproof shoes, coats or mittens, it's critical to remove his or her clothing once it becomes moist, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health. Doing so can help little ones maintain their body temperature and potentially prevent complications such as hypothermia.

Tips to keep your children fit in the winter.

With cold temperatures and snow on the ground, getting children outside onto playgrounds or open fields to play is nearly impossible in some areas. However, it's still imperative that parents keep their kids healthy in the winter, especially when it's so easy to sit more and move less. Here are some ways to stay active during the winter months.

Build a snowman:

Going outside to build a big snowman isn't just a fun activity for families - it can also be a great method for staying fit. Pushing and rolling snowballs along the ground increases your heart rate and acts as a moderate form of cardiovascular activity. It's hard work to move snow around and lift the finished mounds on top of one another.

Help with shoveling:

There's always a sense of dread when it comes to shoveling. It's a task that few want to take part in, but it can be an awesome physical activity for children. They don't have to specifically help you shovel the driveway. You can assign them smaller jobs such as clearing out a path to the front door or mailbox. Better yet, tell them to shovel a design or pattern in the snow that they can look at afterward and be proud of.

Move around indoors:

It can be appealing to simply sit down and lounge when your family is stuck indoors, especially with the kids on vacation and the school playgrounds being closed. Rather than reach for the television remote, opt for the iPod stereo or any kind of speakers you own. Get your kids dancing around to music. You can also play the music while doing housework to keep the children excited. They'll be having so much fun, they won't even notice they're doing housework.

Look around the community:

The residential playgrounds may be shut down for the season, but that doesn't mean your community lacks other resources for physical activity to keep your children fit. Sometimes, local recreational centers will have open gym sessions where kids can run around and play basketball. There also might be an ice skating rink or bowling alley nearby that the whole family can go to and enjoy. Not only does it keep kids on the move, but it also brings the family together.

Winter doesn't have to become a time of the year when the kids shut down and hibernate until the snow melts in spring. Take them outside and get them physically active. Come up with creative new ways to keep your children fit and excited - it may just rub off on you, too.

ParknPool Corp. is a leading online distributor of commercial grade furnishings and site amenities such as picnic tables, park benches, trash receptacles, playgrounds and bleachers. For more tips on how your playground can be used during the winter months and advice on how to keep children warm while playing on these playgrounds call 877.777.3700.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Today I Saw God in Family Dysfunction

Today I Saw God in Family Dysfunction

Today I Saw God in Family Dysfunction
By Kathi Calahan-Manley

Matthew 6:12... and forgive us our sins as we have forgiven those who sin against us.

Family dysfunction started somewhere and because generations of parents remained asleep, or unaware, the same dysfunction was passed down through the generations until it reached you. I'd like to share a personal example with you in hopes it will motivate you to wake up and stop the dysfunction.

When researching my own family history, I saw back 4 generations, plus myself, so I guess that makes 5. I asked a lot of questions and listened to the stories about how my family repeatedly abandoned their children.

My 4X great grandfather disowned his daughter because she wanted to marry her love, who was not "acceptable." He actually told her to get out and not step foot back in his house again. She and her love and their baby daughter immigrated out of Sweden and into the United States.

My 3X great grandmother died at a very young age, leaving her 4 children motherless. The youngest was adopted out to a local family because the father could not work and raise an infant.

My great grandmother, who was the oldest of those 4 motherless children, grew up looking for someone to love her, but didn't have the wisdom of her mother to help her make good choices. So she married an alcoholic who beat her. She had two children, one who died in a car accident, got divorced from the wife beater (which was unheard of in those days) and raised her daughter alone.

My grandmother grew up without a father to teach her about men and married a man who cheated and abandoned her with 3 daughters, not paying alimony or child support. She went searching for a man to take care of her, abandoning the guidance to her now fatherless and motherless daughters.

My mom grew up with a suicidal mother, an absent father and two older sisters who went searching for love with all the wrong men. She slept with the first man who showed an interest and pretended to love her, who got her pregnant and ran.

I am the result. I grew up with an absent biological father, an alcoholic and cheating step father, a very angry mother and I got pregnant with the first man to show an interest, just to get out of my crazy, dysfunctional home.

Are you beginning to see a pattern? Around the world, there are abandoned children, crying for some sense of stability in their homes, but not having the skills to produce what they were so sorely missing.

But God has been there all along, with everyone who has ever been abandoned to the insanity of a dysfunctional home. If you're ready, he's ready. He wants you to wake up and stop repeating the same mistakes your ancestors made.

1 Chronicles 28:20 David also said to Solomon his son, "Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished.

It started somewhere in your family history, but it can stop now; with you. Together, you and God can put your family back on track. How?

1. Admit your family is messed up and has been for generations.

2. Admit they would have all done better if they knew better.

3. Admit that YOU would have done better if you knew better.

4. Forgive your ENTIRE family history for their dysfunction, their brokenness and make a promise to yourself and all future generations that you will begin today to heal the family dysfunction - so the sins of your ancestors are not passed on.

Learn now how God can restore in your life what the locusts have devoured. Find a good bible-based church. Read the bible (I read THE BOOK, because I could not understand the old English) and I'd like to offer you two resources that really helped me fix my own brokenness:

Joel Osteen Ministries, who gave me hope when I was dying of cancer.

Joyce Meyer Ministries, who taught me how to have a close, personal relationship with a God who loved me.

God bless you and your return to sanity, Kathi Thank you for caring and sharing.

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We are all teachers and students of life and together we can learn to care for each other and heal the wounds that have left us broken.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Where Is Your Pain Leading You?

Where Is Your Pain Leading You?

Where Is Your Pain Leading You?
By Ken Rupert

Have you ever faced a challenging situation where you were at a complete loss? A situation where, no matter what you tried, everything seemed to work against you? Where you felt completely out of control and unable to do anything even though something is what you wanted to do? In June, my son had his left kidney removed due to a congenital defect. In a six and a half hour surgery, that required another six hours in post op, my wife, son, and I began a journey that we had certainly never expected.

As if undergoing a major operation was not enough, a week later, he began to display symptoms that indicated something might be wrong. He began to suffer abdominal pain, diarrhea, and a loss of appetite. After a visit to the pediatric urology surgeon, he was diagnosed with c-diff colitis, a bacterial infection not related to the kidney, but certainly related to the surgery.

This surgery was not like the other seven he had already faced. This one elevated the level of stress to new heights. After three days and nights in the hospital, we felt like Jonah coming out of the belly of the whale. But it was soon obvious that this recovery was going to be more stressful than the previous seven ones.

As a caregiver and a life coach who works with other caregivers, my heart is broken time and time again as I watch parents struggle with the pain of caring for a seriously sick child. In those moments, you can begin to wonder how relevant your life is concerning the bigger picture. As the parent of a sick child, your life stops, but life itself goes on. That is the reality of a caregiver and when that care is chronic care, this cycle never stops.

You have to put your life on hold, yet maintain a connection to a world that is not taking a break from it's insatiable requirements. Life doesn't stop for the caregiver, but living often does. As a caregiver, I've learned that I could not be the parent I want to be, I had to become the parent I needed to be. In a real but subtle way, the caregiver becomes a product of his or her environment.

As a caregiver, it is easy to get trapped in a world of loneliness, isolation and confusion. It is easy to begin to ask the wrong questions. It is easy to ask "What am I going to do about this?", rather than asking "What am I going to do with this?" Believing that you can do something about a situation inclines you to shoulder the entire burden. But knowing that you can do something with your situation allows you to share your burden with other empathetic people.

Asking the question "What can I do about this?" leads you to a place of eventual failure because with chronically ill children, there is nothing you can do to change the situation. However, asking the question "What can I do with this?" leads you to a place of peace because you realize that, although you may not be able to change the situation, you can grow in your knowledge and practice of empathy towards others.

The difference in these two questions is a simple preposition: about and with. The preposition "about" indicates your desire to rid your experience of cause. It focuses on changing the situation. "If I can just change the child, I can be the parent I want to be." In contrast, the preposition "with" indicates your desire to turn your experience into constructive outcomes. It focuses on changing you. "If I can learn from the child, I can become the parent I need to be." The former is about changing the situation and the latter is about changing you.

As a caregiver, I have learned that my heart can be bigger, my mind can be sharper, and my soul can be richer than ever. I do not know where you are in your journey, but if you are asking the right question, I can't imagine you are not making progress. Instead of walking through life asking the question "What am I going to do about this?" ask the question "What am I going to do with this?" Remember, life is not about your comfort, it is about your growth.

Visit to learn more about caregiver coaching

Read Kenneth E Rupert's latest book "God, I Was Wondering" by visiting

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