Peer Pressure: Part 2

It’s the time of year when many families are anticipating the start of a brand-new school year.  If you have a child who is about to enter middle school or high school for the first time, they are about to experience the not-so-wonderful world of peer pressure.

Parents in this stage of life can learn a lot from Dennis Rainey, the president of the Family Life ministry,

Yesterday I shared that Dennis believes it’s critical for us to prepare our kids for the choices they will face, and to challenge them to be leaders rather than followers. 

He also reminds us to teach our kids the benefits of righteousness. He says this isn’t an easy concept for a teenager to grasp. They know they will gain popularity and acceptance if they adopt the values of their peers, but they may be ostracized if they don’t.

Dennis says “At some point, every Christian needs to learn that the approval of God is infinitely more rewarding than the approval of the crowd.”

He quotes Peter 3:14-17, which says even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts … for it is better….that you should suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.’

Talk to your kids about the benefits of obedience, and the cost of conformity.”

Dennis also encourages us to teach our kids the fear of God.  He quotes John Witherspoon who said “It is only the fear of God that can deliver us from the fear of men.”  And Proverbs 16:6 tells us, “… by the fear of the Lord one keeps away from evil.”

If our kids develop a reverential awe of God, their desire to please Him will help them to overcome the fear of what others will think them.

To read more of Dennis’ thoughts on helping your kids deal with peer pressure, go to familylife.com and click on “Parenting.”

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Peer Pressure: Part 1

If you have a child about to enter middle school or high school, they are about to face something they may never have had to face before—peer pressure.

Consider this.  In a recent survey, 37 percent of teens said that within the last 30 days, they had ridden in a car driven by someone who was drinking or using drugs. 66 percent said they are currently sexually active.  And 27 percent of admitted they had thought about suicide during the last 12 months.

Dennis Rainey, the president of Family Life, points out that very few teenagers have the courage to resist peer pressure. They simply don’t want to stand out.

The desire for acceptance and approval from their peers is so intense that many teenagers end up compromising their values and following the crowd.

Dennis offers a few suggestions for helping your kids to make the right choices when they are under the gun.

First, help prepare your kids for the choices they will face. Unfortunately many parents make the mistake of allowing kids to make their own choices without helping them develop their convictions beforehand.

As your kids approach the teen years, discuss how their friends will try to influence them in areas such as:  cursing, lying to parents, watching R-rated movies, drinking alcohol, taking drugs, sneaking out of the house at night, looking at internet pornography, and sexual purity.

Discuss how to respond in each situation. For example, set up a role-play situation, in which they are challenged to spend an afternoon stealing from stores at the mall. How should they respond? What should they say?

Dennis also says we should challenge our kids to be leaders rather than followers. Encourage them to make their own choices and to influence others for Christ.

Dennis says he is convinced that we don’t challenge our teens today with a high enough standard. He believes they are capable of much more than we give them credit for.

I’ll have more of Dennis’ thoughts on coping with peer pressure tomorrow.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Guidance for Middle School Parents

If you have a child entering middle school this year, it’s likely you will be experiencing a whole new set of parenting challenges.  Psychologist Brenda Hunter has some practical advice for moms and dads who have kids in that stage of life.

Brenda suggests you become a student of your child.Because early adolescence brings so many changes, learn all you can about your child from his teachers, pediatrician, youth director, and other parents.

Insist on respect and show respect.Remember that love and respect fit together like hand and glove.  Insist that your child speaks to others politely as well.

Talk to your child about her friendships openly. Make sure you know where she fits in. Remind her that having friends—not being popular—will make her happiest over the long haul.

Pay attention to what your child loves to do. Ask him questions about what makes him happy, and find ways for him to do those activities with other kids.

Brenda also reminds us to protect our children’s sleep.  Kids in middle school need nine to nine and a half hours of sleep per night.

Maintain tech-free bedrooms.Keep computers, laptops, televisions, and gaming equipment in common areas.

Tell your child the truth about drugs, sex, and alcohol.Don’t leave it to the school or his friends to educate him.

Reclaim your spiritual role. Brenda reminds us that even more than the church, parents are the most powerful spiritual influence in their kids’ lives.

And finally, Brenda says let your kids experience real-life consequences.Teach kids to make it right with others when they make mistakes. Do not spare your child from the real-world consequences of his or her actions.

For more solid advice on parenting your middle-schooler, check out Brenda’s book From Santa to Sexting: Helping Your Child Safely Navigate Middle School and Shape the Choices that Last a Lifetime.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Back to School Advice for Mom

Mom, here’s some advice for you as we begin a new school year: don’t overcommit yourself or your kids.

My friend Dr. Juli Slattery says that in the excitement of her newfound free time without kids, she often finds herself signing up for Bible studies, volunteer opportunities and promising everyone she knows that she can now get together for lunch.

When she adds in in her children’s homework, after-school sports and other activities to the schedule, Juli says all of a sudden she’s got one busy family!

Perhaps you also have a tendency to overcommit. Have you ever found yourself so busy that you burn out by October?

Many family experts believe that business is one of the greatest threats to marriages and kids today.   Dr. Slattery offers a few suggestions to help manage your schedule during the new school year.

Fill out a weekly calendar of commitments before the school year even begins. Don’t forget to write in Bible studies, sports practices, piano lessons and time to get homework and house work done.

After you’ve added in all your commitments, take a look at your schedule. How much margin does your family have?

Juli warns that we should never immediately say “yes” to a new commitment.  If we do, we may impulsively give away our time when one of our kids wants to get involved in something new or when someone asks us to volunteer.

Finally, protect your evenings and weekends. Obviously, your kids’ activities are going to be after school, in the evening or on the weekend. If possible, reserve at least three weeknights and weekends as “family time.” Use this protected time to connect with your kids, your spouse, and simply to rest.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Back to School Anxiety

Are your kids looking forward to the first day of school, or could they be feeling a bit anxious?

Along with going to bed earlier and doing homework, some children stress about a new school year because it means adjusting to change. Some kids love change, but for others it can create fear and worry.

“Will I like my new teacher?” “What if the work is too hard for me?” “What if I don’t make any friends?”  Clinical psychologist and mom Juli Slattery says questions like these can keep can keep a 6-year-old — or a 16-year-old — up at night in the weeks leading up to the start of school.

Dr. Slattery says we can help our kids with “new school year anxiety” by validating their feelings. Encourage them to express their feelings about the school year starting.

You might ask them what they’re most excited and most nervous about. Then, explain that its normal to feel jitters before school starts.

Juli says we can also help to reduce the number of “unknown” factors leading up to the school year. Find out what you can about a new teacher, a new school and what friends will be attending school with your child.

If your school offers an open house to meet teachers and organize lockers, take advantage of it. If you have children just starting junior high or high school, walk through their schedule for the day.

Finally, when school starts, provide your child with displays of your confidence and affection.  You might give a kindergartner a teddy bear to carry in his backpack as a reminder that “Mom and Dad are praying for you.” For older kids, leave notes of encouragement hidden in their notebooks or lunch sacks.

You can find more back to school tips by going to FocusontheFamily.com and entering “back to school” in the search engine.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Could Your Child Be Overweight & Not Even Know It?

Could your child be overweight—and not even know it?  According to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most children and teens who are overweight think that they are actually the right weight.

Live Science is reporting on the study, in which researchers asked kids ages 8 to 15 whether they considered themselves to be “fat or overweight, too thin, or about the right weight.”

Overall, about 30 percent of the children had misperceptions about their weight.  Some kids who normal weight thought they were overweight or too thin.  Other kids who were overweight or obese thought they were underweight or about the right weight.

The overweight kids had the most had misperceptions about their weight.  81 percent of overweight boys and 71 percent of overweight girls thought they were about the right weight. In addition, about half of obese boys and a third of obese girls thought they were the right weight.

According to the report, more children from low-income families had misperceptions about their weight, compared with the children of high- and middle-income families.

Previous studies have shown that parents also misperceive their children’s weight. Dr. Ihuoma U. Eneli, at Nationwide Children’s Hospital says one reason for the misperception may be inadequate knowledge about what a healthy weight looks like.

Dr. Eneli points out that as the prevalence of obesity has increased over time, our perception of what is a normal weight has also changed.  She says “If people look heavier, then heavier starts looking like the norm.”

For some advice on helping your child stay healthy and fit, go to healthychildren.org.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Frequent Arguing Could Be Killing You

Do you get into frequent arguments with your spouse, your friends, or your neighbors? You might be slowly killing yourself.

The LA Times is reporting on new study that found that middle-aged adults who frequently fought with their husband or wife were more than twice as likely to die at a relatively young age.

Frequent fights with friends were even more hazardous – people who did this were 2.6 times more likely to die prematurely than people who got along with their pals.

Worst of all were persistent fights with neighbors. The researchers found that people who did THAT were more than three times more likely to die prematurely.

Even when there was no yelling or screaming, simply worrying about friends or loved ones or getting angry over their demands could be enough to shorten one’s life.

People who “always” or “often” fretted about their spouse were almost twice as likely to die during the course of the study compared to those who seldom fretted.

And moms and dads, listen up…those who expended lots of negative mental energy on their children were 55% more likely to die prematurely compared to those who didn’t worry about their kids very often.

All of these associations between stressful social relations and the risk of early death were stronger for men than for women,

Over the 11 years of the research, 4% of the women and 6% of the men in the study died–most often of cancer, but also due to cardiovascular disease, alcohol abuse and accidents.

If any of those descriptions sound familiar to you, perhaps it’s time to see a Christian counselor. And ask God to help you make positive changes in the way you relate to those around you.

By the way, a great book on this topic is “Make Anger Your Ally” by Dr. Neil Clark Warren.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Kids and Listening

Dear Dr. Bill,

My son is having trouble listening to instructions and following directions. He gets very focused on the TV, a book or videogame. It seems like I have to repeat myself over and over again. How can I teach him to listen to me?

–Shawna

Dear Shawna,

 

The best way to get your son to listen is to change the way you communicate with him.

 

First of all, you need to make sure you have his full attention when you’re speaking to him. Never, ever ask your child to do something or give them instructions when they are watching TV, playing a video game, or engaged in some other kind of activity. Turn off the TV, tell your child to look into your eyes, and then give them a clear, unambiguous command.

 

Secondly, make sure your command is backed up by a time deadline and a consequence. For example, instead of simply saying: “Johnny, I want you to turn off that TV and clean up your room,” do this:

 

Turn off the TV, get your son’s full attention, and then say: “Johnny, it’s 5 o’clock—I want you to put away all of your toys by 5:30. I’m going to set the kitchen timer for 30 minutes and when it rings I’ll be inspecting your work. If you do a good job, I’ll allow you to have 30 minutes of video game time after dinner tonight. If you haven’t completed your work by 5:30, you won’t be able to play video games at all this evening.”

 

Then make sure you follow through. If you don’t, you’ve just taught your son that you don’t mean what you say.

 

Dr. Russell Barkley, one of the nation’s leading experts in parent training, coined a phrase that every parent should remember: “Act, don’t yak.”

 

Thanks for writing, Shawna.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Are Web Articles Interfering With Your Ability to Read Books?

Have you tried to pick up a book lately—and actually READ for a while? If it feels like reading a book is harder than it used to be, the Internet may to blame.

 

PluggedIn.com is reporting that scientists are concerned that the attention and focus required for sustained, deep reading is being undermined by online habits that encourage skimming and skipping.

 

Claire Handscombe, a 35-year-old graduate student in creative writing at American University, says that paying attention while reading a book is more difficult for her than it used to be.

 

She says “It’s like your eyes are passing over the words but you’re not taking in what they say. When I realize what’s happening, I have to go back and read again and again.”

 

Tufts University cognitive neuroscientist Maryanne Wolf says “I worry that the superficial way we read during the day is affecting us when we have to read with more in-depth processing,” she says.

 

And Andrew Dillon, a University of Texas professor who studies reading, says “We’re spending so much time touching, pushing, linking, scrolling and jumping through text that when we sit down with a novel, your daily habits of jumping, clicking, linking are just ingrained in you. We’re in this new era of information behavior, and we’re beginning to see the consequences of that.”

 

Another study has found that teens don’t read much for fun anymore, according to a study by Common Sense Media. About 45% of 17-year-olds say they only read for pleasure once or twice a year. About 27% of those teens—and 22% of 13-year-olds—say they “never” or “hardly ever” read for fun.

 

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.

Teens, Hookah & E-Cigaretts

Traditional cigarette smoking may be on the decline, but nearly one in five high school students have now smoked hookah water pipes. That’s according to a new study published in the journal Pediatrics.

PluggedIn.com is reporting on the study, conducted by researchers from New York University. They found that 18% of the more than 5,500 students they surveyed had used water pipes.

Joseph Palamar, a professor at NYU, says “Surprisingly, students with more educated parents or higher personal income are at high risk of use.”

The new findings are worrisome, as evidence suggests hookah use is more damaging to health than cigarettes.

Dr. Palamar points out that hookahs come in a variety of flavors and are less likely to leave users smelling like cigarette smoke after use. He says “This may allow some users to better conceal their use from their parents.”

Another study has found that many kids are smoking so called “e-cigs”—and suffering the consequences. A new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that calls to poison centers involving e-cigarettes is on the rise.

Many of those calls involved people 20 and older—but get this–more than half of the calls to poison control involved children under the age of 5!

And what do you know—advertising for e-cigarettes has exploded in the past 3 years, much of it targeting teens and young adults.

A new report says that e-cig ad exposure jumped 256% among 12- to 17-year-olds and 321% among 18- to 24-year-olds.

The e-cig makers bought time on cable networks like AMC, CMT, VH1, Comedy Central, WGN America and TV Land. More than 80% of these advertisements were for the brand known as “blu eCigs.”

To learn more about e-cigarettes and their dangers, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics website for parents, healthychildren.org.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Listen to today’s audio here.