Kids and Teens ( 5 Things You Need To Know 'To Get Back On Your Horse' )

Kids and Teens ( 5 Things You Need To Know 'To Get Back On Your Horse' )


live in Texas. Everyone in Texas rides a horse, right? (Well, maybe not in Houston.)
One weekend I was visiting my sister in Austin. We went to see some friends who lived outside of Austin who had four horses on several acres of land. Her friend John asked me if I would like to ride one of their horses and I said, "OK if you can find me a nice horse." It had been years since I had ridden a horse. He said, "Sure, I have just the horse for you. His name is Buckwheat." Buckwheat looked like a nice enough horse. My daughter was 5 at the time and she watched her mommy get up on the horse. She said, "Mommy, are you going to be OK?" "Of course," I replied.
I took off on Buckwheat. It didn't take long for me to realize that Buckwheat was in control and I was not. He was heading straight for a short mesquite tree. You guessed it. My horseback ride lasted for about 10 seconds before I was knocked off the horse. Thank God I was fine. I dusted myself off and walked up to John and asked him why he named his horse Buckwheat. He said, "It's because he bucks." Well, I would have liked to known that beforehand. Needless to say I didn't get back on Buckwheat.
I think most of us have been knocked off our horse in one way or another. We are riding along the happy trails of life and we get bucked and thrown off our horse. Some days it feels like our horse has trampled us.
The school called you and let you know that an inappropriate picture of your daughter has been forwarded around school. Maybe a friend disappoints you. You get laid off from work. You get the phone call late at night. Your daughter doesn't make the tryouts. You send in your manuscript to a publisher and they reject it. You said you were going to lose 20 pounds but you end up gaining more weight. Drama happens and chaos happens.
The situations distract us and throw us off course.
So here's the question. What do you do when you get thrown off your horse?
Some of you get back on your horse without missing a beat. But many of us find ourselves face down in the dirt and it is hard to get up. A part of us gives up and settles. We start to rein it in. We play it safe and lose a little bit of our spunk. We shrink back to the corral and we give up on riding in the big wide-open spaces. And it affects our outlook on life.
After that incident with your daughter, you feel like such a failure it's hard to do anything.
You are cynical about friendships, because your friend disappointed you.
You think, "nothing works out for me," because you got laid off from work.
You decide that you are a lousy writer and decide to quit, because you were rejected from the publisher.
To turn this around you need to get back on your horse.
5 Things you need to know to 'Get Back On Your Horse'
1. Get another horse. You may need to find a different horse. It would have not been wise for me to get back on Buckwheat. Just because you got knocked off your horse doesn't mean it's about your shortcomings.
You need support and more information.
You need to change the situation and get a strategy.
2. What's stopping you from getting back on the horse? This is an important question.
Are you so hurt you feel frozen? Are you afraid? Are you too busy and distracted? Is it perfectionism? Is it hopelessness or resignation? Once you are aware what's stopping you, turn it into a question.
If I wasn't afraid I would________________________________________.
If I didn't have to get it right I would______________________________.
Now drop the first part of the question and get back on your horse.
3. Lessons from the dirt.
Lying there in the dirt, looking up at the trees and the blue skies gives you a different perspective. What can you learn from getting knocked off the horse? It's tempting to beat yourself up but that is not useful. This is a great opportunity to go deeper inside yourself and your faith. Where do you need to grow? What's your part in this? Where do you need help? How can you approach this differently?
4. Picture yourself riding on wide-open spaces.
You need a new vision. It's easy to keep replaying the old stuff over and over again. If you keep seeing yourself get thrown from the horse it's impossible to move forward. Let it go. Ask yourself the questions in number 3 and they will help you find your new vision.
For Example: If you have lost your job you have a choice. You can spend lots of time complaining about your boss and everyone at work or you can create your ideal job description. In some ways it's easier to replay the old stuff because your brain doesn't have to think. But if you take time to create your ideal job description you start to feel more hopeful. Picture yourself thriving in your new job and surrounded with people you love. And before you know it you will be back on your horse.
5. Now Get Back On Your Horse.
It's time to take action. You can learn your lessons, do your research, and have the vision but the point of all that is to get back on the horse.
You can take small steps. I am working with this wonderful young college guy. He struggles with anxiety. He had his heart broken in a relationship about 2 years ago. He is trying one of those online dating services. He told me is doing research and making it a game. But he hadn't asked out anyone yet. He is not a player. He is scared of being rejected. I told him that it was time he took the next step. Maybe it was not the big wow date but he could ask a girl out for coffee. In other words he needed to get back in the game and back on his horse.
Happy trails to you!
========================
Colleen O'Grady encourages and empowers women to live their highest and best life. From her coaching programs to her one of a kind therapy sessions, she has helped hundreds of women and teenage girls uncover their true purpose in life, create more happiness, and move to a place of inner peace. Colleen knows that everyone can create this kind of life.
Colleen O'Grady is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Marriage and Family Therapist. Her private practice in Houston, Texas has been active for over 20 years. As an approved supervisor on a state and national level, Colleen is sought after to train master-level therapists, psychology and psychiatry residents throughout Houston. Colleen has created innovative coaching programs to give people practical tools for moving forward while also standing on a strong foundation of therapeutic practice.

Kids and Teens ( American Students Need to Have Their Self-Esteem Lowered )

Kids and Teens ( American Students Need to Have Their Self-Esteem Lowered )

Our public schools have bought into the concept that high self-esteem of students translates into productive ones. The better a student thinks about him or herself, the more open, relaxed and absorbing the student's mind will be. The higher the self-esteem of the student, the easier the learning becomes for him.
This "cultural fact" has reigned supreme for several generations. Even young students now say the most important thing for them is to have a high self-esteem. Feeling good about oneself without being competent in a productive endeavor is not going to allow him to maintain his false high esteem.
The academic results of American students has been dismal. US students have not done better as compared to other American students of the past or in comparison to other nations. At best, US students are treading water and at worst are declining academically.
This high self-esteem movement is fundamentally flawed. The reasons are evident when the theory is logically examined and analyzed. The proponents believe high self-esteem is acquired through high doses of positive reinforcement even if it is not warranted. In actual practice the person that does the reinforcement is increasing praise by lowering standards. Teachers have been trained to spout positive feedback that is bordering on outright distortion.
The practice of increasing a student's self-esteem is not by working to improve their performance but by creating an educational environment without failure. Marking of schoolwork and tests has become devalued to the point of not being done. It has become immaterial to a student's assessment. Grade inflation is a common practice to avoid hurting a child's self-esteem.
More importantly than the child's work output is the teacher's ability to "make a silk purse out of a sow's ear." The statement "your effort is better than yesterday" even when it is not or "you have a wonderful writing ability" even when it is grammatically incorrect and illegible has become standard operating procedure.
These positive reinforcement methods have not worked. Modern US students have positive feelings about themselves even when they cannot complete the simplest task. They usually possess poor academic and social skills. These pupils are self-absorbed individuals with little to no need to prove themselves to peers or authority figures. Entitlement mentality sums up the way they view their future. When they want something, they expect to receive it without any effort. This is irrational thinking.
There is little past experience in school or in the home to prepare them to learn how to excel. When everything a young person does is uncritically accepted as top notch, there is no motivation to try harder to improve. Even sports competition has been removed to earn a spot on a team and to compile a higher score than a competitor to win. Everybody wins.
Standards have been lowered in most endeavors to erase any possibility of anxiety and the bad taste of failure. Our children have been weakened to the level of whiny complaining wimps.
For centuries children have been trained to be strong and self-reliant by elders setting almost unattainable goals and pushing children to reach them. It did create anxiety and uncertainty in the children's minds although it pushed them to the next level. Without facing defeat, victory becomes hard to consistently obtain.
Successful people have to put great concentrated effort to reach the top of any endeavor and even more effort to remain there. A person's fear of failure is a great motivator to keep him focused. Having abilities and competencies in different areas gives them actual self-competence not phony praise that makes a person somewhat delusional.
The higher self-esteem movement has been the false-esteem fiasco. Grade integrity and constructive criticism need to be returned to our culture for us to be strong enough to compete or even survive in our competitive world.

Kids and Teens ( My After School Program Was Very Exciting )

Kids and Teens ( My After School Program Was Very Exciting )


Growing up, my mother and I had the best after school program ever! Not only could my parents rest assured we were in good hands until they finished work and errands, but we also made new friends and had an absolute blast running around with the other kids. You cannot put a price tag on the peace of mind parents must feel when they are certain their children are in good hands when they cannot be there to watch them. When you have plenty of activities in which to participate, you can have loads of fun and get the exercise you need growing up.
My brother and I went to a local family fitness center after school that was located right around the corner from our school. Upon first glance at the building, it looks like a gargantuan warehouse. The lettering was blue and white and the people who worked there were always friendly. We rode the bus to the fitness center and walked through the doors into our after school program. Once, I even found twenty dollars in the parking lot!
When we got into the after school center, we would first drop off our book bags and have a snack. Usually the snack was healthy and that was okay with us. After we ate, we would do any homework we had for about thirty minutes. When that was all finished, we would be allowed to play until our parents picked us up. This facility had everything! Some days we would play racquetball or squash, while other days we would go swimming. There was also work out equipment, but we were not allowed to play on that because we were too small. We could also play cards or other indoor games in our big room. I remember there being a drink machine that had the best flavored drinks I had ever tasted. My favorite flavor was strawberry and I got one whenever I had enough money to afford one.
The best thing about our after school program was playing racquetball. Since not too many other kids had the access or resources to permit this sport, it was somewhat mysterious and amazing. When I got home every evening, I would tell all of my neighborhood friends about how much fun I had at the fitness center playing sports and hanging out with my friends. I even managed to convince some of their parents to let them go there too.

Kids and Teens ( When Your First-Born Is Jealous of Baby (or Baby-To-Come)

Kids and Teens ( When Your First-Born Is Jealous of Baby (or Baby-To-Come)



There's a New Kid in Town
Although jealousy between siblings is not uncommon, if you're the parent of a jealous older child you may feel clueless as to how to best manage the situation. You'll probably receive your fair share of unsolicited advice from people who feel they know best, but keep in mind that each family is different and each child is unique in how they may deal with jealousy over a new baby brother or sister. Do yourself (and the rest of your family) a favor and ignore the "armchair therapist" advice. What follows are a few solid, time-tested tips and some common-sense advice to help siblings coexist in a happy home.
Above all else is communication; you need to talk with your older child about the fact that a new baby will be arriving. Put yourself in his/hers shoes, especially if they are a fair bit older than the baby. If you're having your second child, your first-born has been the sole recipient of your love and attention for as long as they can remember, and the center of their world has been Mom and Dad for a very long time. A bit of competition between siblings is normal; however, once the baby arrives, the child should not feel like they have to compete for attention. If parents allow ongoing competition for attention or time, it is likely to become an unhealthy environment, as well as an unhealthy relationship. So communication with your child, regardless of their age, from the time you become pregnant is crucial.
What follows are a few thing that you can do to encourage healthy sibling relationships.
- Talk about your child about their new role as big brother or sister (leader, teacher, etc.) while you are pregnant.
- Talk about the advantage of your baby having a big brother or sister and how important they'll be to their new baby brother or sister.
- Let your child help prepare for the arrival of the baby.
- Make schedule changes for your child that will be in effect when the baby arrives, such as an earlier bath time or dinner time. Doing this ahead of time will insure the older child doesn't blame the baby for the new way of doing things.
- Have your older child be the first to be introduced to their new sibling, shortly after birth, and let them choose what outfit the baby will wear to go home.
And some things to expect from your older child...
- Expect grumpiness or clinginess in the first few weeks of the baby's life. This is a big change for your child and no matter how diligent your efforts have been to prepare your child, their natural reaction will be one of fear that they'll be forgotten.
- Praise him/her when they do positive things, related or unrelated to the baby. For example, if he/she prepares a bottle for the baby, praise the child. If the child goes ahead and does homework without being told,also give praise.
- Ignore tantrums to show them that acting out is not appropriate. Divert your child into something else, whether it is an activity the child likes, or humor on your part. This should lessen the number, as well as the length, of tantrums.
Now, the hard part - especially if he/she is several years older than your baby. Offer equal attention to both children. Ask your friends and relatives to remember your older child first when they enter your home to meet the new baby. Be sure that you and your spouse give your child one-on-one time as well. This will lessen the thoughts that the child is no longer special to you. Allow them to participate in caring for the baby by choosing a task that is age appropriate. Beware, your older child is not a parent, and you should never treat that child as such.
If all else has fails, have a heart to heart with your older child. Jealousy is probably the result of your older child fearing replacement in your life. Do not tell your child things like, "That's ridiculous" or "You are being silly!" Instead, tell your child that the feelings are okay, but they need to be expressed in the correct way; and always reiterate how important they are to you AND the growing family, and how much you love them.
Many times, parents are overwhelmed with trying to deal with the jealousy in their households. When your older child is jealous of the younger child and nothing seems to make the older child feel secure, jealousy can affect relationships, as well as the child's self-image. Extreme cases are when arguing, acting out and physical fighting occur, which oftentimes causes stress in the entire household.
If your family is in upheaval as the result of one child being jealous of the other and you feel like you've tried everything to stop it but aren't' getting anywhere, consider talking with a professional. It may be helpful for parents to attend counseling, and then to bring the children with them to counseling once the problems are known. There is no need to be embarrassed or ashamed, and this is not a reflection of your parenting methods or style - it is a healthy choice. Contact the Relationship Center of Orange County today at 949-220-3211 to make an appointment for you and your family members, or make your appointment using our online tool. Speaking to a professional may be just what is needed to reestablish peace, love, and understanding in your home


Kids and Teens ( How Summer Camp Builds Self-Confidence )

Kids and Teens ( How Summer Camp Builds Self-Confidence )



Overnight summer camp gives kids amazing opportunities to try new activities, make decisions on their own, meet new friends and learn to work together. And as they mount a horse for the first time, negotiate who will play which part in a skit or take responsibility for cabin chores, they'll be taking big strides in building the self confidence that will help them all through their lives.
Accomplishments build self-confidence. Whether scaling a rock climbing wall, learning how to maneuver a sailboat or conquering the challenges of a high ropes course, sleepaway camp gives kids the chance to learn new skills and find success in areas they'd never dreamed of.
Learning to get along with a new group of peers is often a challenge for kids, and making a first step toward a new friendship is a great confidence builder. It's hard to overcome that fear of rejection, but taking risks often feels easier at camp, where kids have a chance to be a whole new self, free of the expectations of parents and peer groups at home.
Camp counselors play an important part in helping build kids' self-confidence, and summer camps work hard to hire mature, skilled and well-trained staff who will do their best to work with campers and encourage them to take on new challenges. Campers learn how to get along with and negotiate with a different group of trusted adults, and a good counselor will know how to encourage each child to try new experiences and make the most of the aptitudes he or she has. Good camps do not tolerate bullying and do their utmost to make sure every child is treated fairly and valued as an individual.
Summer camp offers days of happy, lively, boisterous group games and sports from swimming to rock climbing, horseback riding and boating. The emphasis on healthy living and exercise is a great way for kids to get into good wellness habits. Feeling healthy, fit and good about yourself builds self-esteem. Youngsters who are running, jumping, climbing and having a great time with friends are much happier, healthier and more confident than those languishing on the couch surrounded by a summer supply of electronic devices.
In a good camp, kids are encouraged to help each other. All kids learn to work as a team, whether in a sport, on the high ropes course or creating, writing and producing a skit. Learning to help each other and be part of a community builds self-confidence, and can carry over beautifully into so many other parts of a camper's life at school and at home. It's important to able to work through obstacles, persevere and contribute to a team effort for the betterment of the group.
Kids get to be more independent at camp. Away from mom and dad and teachers, kids feel a sense of freedom to make their own decisions. They can decide to be in the afternoon skit, play dodge ball or pick a crazy design for their camp T-shirt if they want to, or they can choose to do something else. Small as these choices may be, they are part of growing up and gaining a healthy feeling of empowerment.
One of the most special things about sleepaway camp is that it gives kids a sense of belonging. The new and ultimately secure and safe atmosphere of camp, where everyone is welcomed and celebrated, gives a sense of security and self-worth that is invaluable. Silly camp songs and goofy traditions are so much more than they appear to be; they are part of the glue that holds a motley crew of kids of all ages, abilities and personalities together as a group.
Let your kids enjoy the experience of summer day camp at Maplewood Summer Day Camp. Experienced staff will keep your child both safe and busy with arts and crafts, games, water sports, gymnastics and more

Kids and Teens ( The Flying Fairy Toy )

Kids and Teens ( The Flying Fairy Toy )


Does it really fly?
Yes! Like RC helicopters. But it is a fairy, which makes it much more girly. Being a girly toy does not mean it cannot be dynamic and exciting. You control the fairy by your hands. When she goes down, you put your hand under her and she goes up again before she touches your hand. The toy is not just fun to play with, it also makes the girl think about how it flies which gets her excited about science. After playing with the fairy for a while, the girls usually start experimenting with it by putting it in different conditions and testing its limits. This is much more educational than the traditional dolls that might be pretty, but do not really do anything to excite the girl and work her brain.
It is pretty and durable
When it comes to girl dolls, looks matter a lot. The fairy has a pretty face and she wears some makeup. Her dress is cute and detailed. Girls always show a big smile when they first see this toy. The doll accessories are not removable which is a good thing because, as all parent know, it does not take long for a kid to spread his toy accessories all around the house and lose them. The toy is also very durable. It does not break even if you crash it into a wall or into furniture. A ceiling fan would be a tough test though. It automatically stops when it hits something and it is designed to take shocks without breaking.
Operation
The toy has two main parts: the base and the fairy. The base is a remote control that is used to turn the fairy on and off. It is also used to charge the fairy. It takes a bit less than half an hour to charge the fairy, and when it is fully charged, if can fly for 5 to 10 minutes before it needs to be charged again.
Is it hazardous?
Calling it hazardous would be too much. But still, the supervision of an adult is recommended. At least until the kid learns how to use the toy. As mentioned before, it stops automatically when it hits something. Also there is a button on the base to turn it off at any time. It is recommended that the adult holds the base as the kid plays with the fairy to turn it off if anything goes wrong.
So it is a great toy. But where do you get it from? There is more options than you might think. There is many brands and many manufacturers making flying fairies. The most known brand is Flutterbye which is an American brand. There is other less known and less expensive Chinese brands that are just as good.

Kids and Teens ( Is It Important to Be Tactful? )

Kids and Teens ( Is It Important to Be Tactful? )


Tact may seem to be irrelevant in today's fast-paced life. Why waste time being diplomatic, taking ages to say something which could effectively be dealt with in a couple of sentences?
But being on the receiving end of someone else's tactless remarks can be painful, annihilate our confidence and feel unnecessarily bitchy and insensitive. Our personal experiences teach us that being aware of the impact of our words and actions is more humane, considerate and ultimately more effective. A little sensitivity can help us deliver an important message in an efficient and constructive way.
Let's look at why it's important to be tactful and consider a few situations where the use of tact can make a real difference:
- Clothing and dress sense can be a minefield to some young people. There are those who dress fabulously with apparent ease. They own the latest fashions, know which styles suit them, always look like they've stepped out of the pages of a magazine. For others in our circle, fashion may be a rather different matter.
Judging someone solely on their appearance is a superficial action. Tact means reflecting on that person's situation. They may have massive personal issues at home; may have little spare money to spend on shopping trips for clothes, may have difficult domestic circumstances which they choose not to share with others. Why not focus on enjoying their company and their individual style. Learn to appreciate the person and value their other important attributes and qualities.
Then there are those people who enjoy being non-conformist with a quirky style that suits them and their personality. Appreciate that not everyone has to look the same. Fashion designers are feted when they invent a new look; they work hard to be original. Learn to value the contributions that quirky individuals can bring.
Another option may be that a person is genuinely not interested in fashion or has no idea where to start or what suits them. If you enjoy this person's company you could befriend them and perhaps even offer to go shopping together. Then, if they're interested, you could have fun putting together their 'look'. A setting like that provides the perfect opportunity to share your experience and perhaps offer advice, being complimentary when they choose a colour or style that you feel really suits them.
Being genuine, honest and tactful improves the quality of your communications whilst being respectful of each other's feelings, tastes and individual styles. A far more humane way of interacting with someone than simply rejecting them because of their choice in clothing.
- Dating can be another potentially volatile situation where tact often needs to be employed. Let's consider those times when we feel our friend is making a fool of themselves, chasing someone who's not interested, someone who's perhaps even cheating on them. Our friend may well be feeling vulnerable, defensive and not want to look stupid. Coming straight out and telling them what you think, have witnessed or overheard may make them feel the need to protect themselves. This can result in them accusing you of being jealous, of lying, of inventing a story to cause trouble. Being too blunt may mean you risk losing the friendship.
Tact often requires us to see the situation from the other person's point of view, to be empathic, understand how they're feeling. How would you like a friend to treat you if you were involved in a messy dating situation? With that in mind it might be better to gently share what you've heard and ask your friend what they think it means. Avoid criticising their date directly as they may view that as criticism of their taste. Far better to let your friend reach their own conclusions, then you can be there for them if the relationship hits a rocky patch. Being tactful enables you to be seen as a good friend; loyal, non-judgemental and supportive.
- Being tactful is not the same as being dishonest. Telling someone they have bad body odour may well be the truth but could hurt someone and cause them enormous shame and embarrassment. It's more sensitive and tactful to share personal concerns you may have had, to refer in general terms to the importance of good personal hygiene, the importance of regularly laundering clothes, or to mention a really good deodourant that you've just discovered.
Only then, if that doesn't work might it be necessary to take someone to one side and have a more forthright discussion, or perhaps ask an appropriate teacher or mentor to intervene.
Respecting other people, appreciating their right to conduct their lives as they see fit, make their own decisions with maybe a few mistakes along the way, is all part of letting each other grow up and become their own person. Being tactful in our dealings with others demonstrates regard, respect, good manners and a sensitive level of understanding about how they may be feeling. So, on balance, it seems that yes, it is important to be tactful at times.
Susan Leigh is a Counsellor and Hypnotherapist who works with stressed individuals to promote confidence and self belief, with couples experiencing relationship difficulties to improve communications and understanding and with business clients to support the health and motivation levels of individuals and teams.

Kids and Teens ( All the World's a Playground! )

Kids and Teens ( All the World's a Playground! )


While walking back from our kite flying adventures yesterday, my little one tripped and skinned his knees and elbows. The sight of the grazed knee distressed him more than the actual pain. I belong to the 'brush it off' camp - skinned knees, bruises and bumps all come with the territory. They will survive and the memories of these hurts will fade faster than the scars themselves.
This episode took me back to a time in my life full of grazed knees, endless falls, scraped elbows and muddy clothes. My earliest memories of play involve being outside with a bunch of different-aged kids and playing at the park right across from my house or playing neighbourhood games with friends. We rarely played with toys and video games were not a part of our childhood. Parents accompanying kids to the park was unheard of, it was our territory, as were the many nooks and corners behind buildings, on the terrace, all those little hiding places and the many trees we regularly climbed (what else are trees for!)
Most people now would take a very dim view of the playground, where we played religiously every single day. My favorite part of it was the heavy set of wooden-seat swings, with the red pain chipping off them, where we would spend countless afternoons pumping it, until its joints creaked and the chains rattle in protest. We would swing standing up, sometimes two of us together, we'd jump off mid-flight to see who lands the farthest, swing sideways and twist the chains around, feeling our bodies swirling when released. These would really have scared the bejesus out of Rachel.
The old-fashioned see-saw, the planks of which were bent and cracked from the overuse, was also a popular place. Our most satisfying game on it, and which could quite possibly be illegal now, was to jump of the end of the seesaw sending butts on the other side slamming to the ground. Then there was the 'clothes-ripper' metal slide, launching us down at (what then seemed like) lightening speeds scorching our bottoms on hot days, but didn't bother us the least. We walked up the slide, came head down on our tummies, we jumped off it, there were no mommycopters crashing down on us with requests of 'lets take turns' or 'go the right side up'!
The monkey bars were a way to earn respect, who can zip fastest to the other side skipping two or even three bars, extra points for a stylish landing! These manic bars bear the liability of many a broken bones. The moment the cast came off, kids were back on it - bruises, broken bones were considered par for the course. A regular tetanus shot and some boric powder and we were good to go. The good ol' merry-go-around gave us valuable lessons on centrifugal force!
As much as I would have loved to raise my kids around woods, meadows and open fields, living in a city means being confined to specific play areas. Admittedly, it would be next to impossible to replicate the carefree life that we were lucky enough to have, but I had always imagined my kids enjoying outdoor play, as much as I did. Boy, was I mistaken!
Most days I struggle to get the boys out of the house! These rounded plastic brightly colored safety-enhanced playgrounds which you would find in every condo, HDB area and most public parks are just a giant versions of the Fisher Price toys at home, and fail to keep the kids interest for longer than 15 minutes. On the other hand are the exorbitantly prices and excessively padded indoor playgrounds, sold as the best alternatives for play on hot and rainy days, which incidentally are the only two types of days in Singapore! Most of the traditional playgrounds are devoid of swings or merry-go-arounds, to avoid any liability of injuries. The see-saws don't touch the ground, the springy ride-on things barely wobble, where swings are available, they provide minimal elevation and slides feature deathly slow-descents.
This piece in the Atlantic Magazine 'The Overprotective Kid', had me nodding in agreement throughout. In short, the article posits 'A preoccupation with safety has stripped childhood of independence, risk taking, and discovery-without making it safer'. Among other things, the author is asserting that the current dumbed down play areas (thanks to the litigious nature of our society and modern culture of risk-aversion) aren't that much safer than old-schools ones, like the playground of doom from my childhood.
While exploring different playgrounds in Singapore, in the hope of finding ones that could replicate my experiences for my kids, I came across some unique structures and interesting designs at some slightly newer public playgrounds. Like a bird's nest swing at this Elite Terrace Playground, where more than one kid can pile in together, making swinging a communal event! I also talked about some great play equipment in my previous post on the newly renovated Pasir Ris Park playground, including zip lines and spinning disks.!
The Geodesic Dome at the Telok Kurau Playground could have definitely benefited from being taller, but kids love it nevertheless. Playpoint Singapore is one of the companies responsible for designing and bringing these innovative euro-style equipment to Singapore, including the provocative treehouse inspired FEO Children's Garden at Garden by the Bay.
Nothing like this treehouse, it was still a great improvement on the sanitized playgrounds which have been the norm of the past few decades. Disappointingly though, the last time we were there at least two of the most fun areas, including the steep metal slide and the angled rail-less merry-go-round had an ominous yellow tape around it with a sign reading "This play area has been decommissioned". I spoke with Jason Sim, MD, Playpoint Asia, he simply stated that the those rides have been deemed too dangerous for kids. He told me, "Our mission is to push the boundaries of play and bring innovative ideas on play equipment and landscape design to Singapore". At the risk of sounding cynical, I think this worthy goal can only be successfully achieved if we can alter the collective risk-averse psyche that permeates our current culture.
The Atlantic article also quotes a recent paper by Sandseter and Kennair (2011) which talks about risky play allowing children to cope with commonly experienced fears in a relatively safer way. The authors present that by preventing kids from experiencing fearful and risky situations, somewhat counterintuitively we hinder their ability to cope with fear, which in turn gives rise to increased levels of anxieties down the road.
Our kids are padded and protected just like the playgrounds they are exposed to. The common theme across most parenting boards is advice on dealing with daily battles with kids, struggles with kids aggression, support for sibling rivalry and so on. I may be taking some liberties here, but I wonder how much of it has to do with the complete lack of thrilling and exciting forms of play for our kids these days. With our misguided focus on organic foods and hand-sanitizers, are we forgetting the most basic need of our kids, the need for unstructured and challenging play? This insightful blog post by An Honest Mom is what got me thinking about this.
We know kids learn through play, it is serious business for them. Tuning motor skills through play is also important in developing their minds for reading, writing and creative thinking. Here's to more skinned knees and boo-boos - let the kids play, before life takes o

Kids and Teens ( 5 Tips For Eating Healthy At Camp )

Kids and Teens ( 5 Tips For Eating Healthy At Camp )


Summer is not only a break from school, but also a time for fun with or without family!
I love the idea of kids experiencing new and exciting adventures at sleepover camps. Whether its exploring the woods or perfecting musical talent in the city, your children will bring home lifelong memories. They get to be with people from a variety of hometowns and backgrounds who have similar interests. Campers are challenged to go beyond their comfort zone helping them reach new goals as well as set new ones!
How do you pick a camp?
I'm sure the first thing parents and children look at when choosing a camp is the theme. If your child wants to try canoeing and/or horseback riding, you probably won't be looking into an ice skating camp. Or if your child wants to perform Shakespeare, you won't be checking out the circus camps. It just takes a few seconds to Google search the camp of your child's dream. Whether you type in specific words such as "swim camp" or "find a camp" you are sure to find several camps throughout the country. Price and location are other factors to consider. These points alone take time and planning, but I wonder how many people consider the food available at camp?
Unfortunately many camps fill their menus with processed foods.
Why? These foods are often more convenient and cheaper to make in large quantities. But what if your child is on a special diet or if your child simply prefers whole foods? Here are a few tips to help you through the process.
1. Contact a few of your top camp picks and ask if they accommodate special diets. Most camps probably offer vegetarian dishes, but if your child has peanut, dairy, or gluten allergies, make sure there are options for them. I would also ask what kind of oil is used and how the food is prepared. If processed food is a main staple, I would be concerned. For example, gluten may be hidden in the ingredients as barley, rye or malted vinegar. Because CJ is so sensitive to gluten, I don't feel comfortable sending him to camp. There is a website; however, with a list of kids gluten-free friendly camps.
2. Ask for a copy of their menu. Even if camps accommodate special diets, it's always best to see for yourself. I'm always wary that even the GF foods will not be healthy/gut friendly. You can go over the meals with your child so they know in advance what they can eat and what they should avoid. This is also a good idea for children who just like to eat healthy and avoid processed foods. They will have a better idea of what foods will be available to them.
3. Find out how your child's food allergies/preferences will be addressed with all the staff, especially those in the kitchen. It's particularly important to know how food cross contamination will be avoided for children with severe allergies, especially those with wheat and nut allergies. You also need to know how your child's camp counselor will be notified as well. Everyone needs to be on board with your child's eating necessities and/or preferences.
4. Pack healthy snacks and drinks. Even the most conscientious eater may be tempted to eat unhealthy foods if they're hungry. Many camps set snacks out all day for munching. Although there will probably be some fruit and veggie choices, unfortunately most snacks will likely be pre-packaged. Make sure when packing the extra socks and underwear, you also add nuts, fruit and filtered water. Our favorite packaged snacks include plentils lentil crackers, squarebar organic protein bars and tankabar buffalo jerky. As a special treat I would send some favorite healthy homemade snacks. Make sure you send enough to share because I'm sure there will be other campers wanting yummy, good-for-you food!
5. Replenish good gut bugs. Your child will be exposed to many new and different experiences. They'll also be exposed to lots of bad bacteria in the food or from fellow campers who get sick. Protect their immune system with fermented foods. Replenishing their good gut bugs will protect them from "traveler's stomach" that often results in diarrhea. It may also prevent colds and pollen allergies. My son Nolen has gone to sleepover camp for several years and always brings a few bottles fermented probiotics.
Sleepover camps offer so much fun, excitement, education and independence.
With a little planning you can also make it a healthier experience! It's always bittersweet when your child leaves for camp-especially for the first time, but following these 5 tips will help relieve some of your worries. What to do about missing your child? Now that's a whole separate topic for discussion.
Tamara Yapp, a mother of 7, is CEO and Founder of Real Food. Real Life (RFRL), a company that is dedicated to helping others lead healthier lives through their innovative line of top-quality probiotic products and lively edutainment online TV show that brings the best healthy products and information to consumers everywhere.


Kids and Teens ( What Diversity? )

Kids and Teens ( What Diversity? )

Last week, I carelessly strolled through the Teen Section of Chapters in hopes of finding a new novel I had yet to experience. Weaving in and out of the aisles, I passed some of the most popular teen books: Divergent, Twilight, Harry Potter, and The Fault in Our Stars. As I sat down in the neighbouring Starbucks, I realized a pattern in all the books displayed. Each novel had a hero or heroine who was intelligent, vulnerable, interesting, and - white.
In modern teen literature, it seems diversity is non-existent. As an avid reader, finding characters I can relate to in young adult fiction is always difficult. Let's face it, I am a short, dark-skinned, fairly curvaceous Jamaican and reading books with protagonists constantly described as tall, and slim, with long flowing hair, and porcelain skin has become unbearable.
Showcased in Chapter's "21 Books to Read Before You're 21 List" is the best Young Adult (YA) fiction from the past few years. The Perks of Being a Wall Flower, The Hunger Games, and Speak were amongst the recognized novels. Again, each book on the list follows the unwritten rule which states: writing a book with a Caucasian protagonist makes a story more interesting. This familiar concept creates an internal discontentment for me, but who can I blame? The majority of popular authors are Caucasian, therefore they write about characters who look like them. It made me question if it was an author's fault when every protagonist in their books are Caucasian - if they're Caucasian themselves. In my opinion, the answer is yes. If it isn't difficult for a female author, for example J.K Rowling to write about a male protagonist and be successful, then it shouldn't be difficult for a Caucasian author to write about an Asian, Middle Eastern, Hispanic, or African-American protagonist. Although people write from personal experience, I believe that solely writing about one specific person or race is boring.
When visible minorities are protagonist in Young Adult fiction, the book's plot is destined to involve slavery, racial discrimination and some form of challenge the person must face due to the colour of their skin. This ideology is best identified in novels such as The Kite Runner, or The Secret Life of Bees. Although these books are important as they teach of equality and our history, it is still unjust that we cannot view people of different cultures without accompanying obstacles they must face due to the colour of their skin.
Overall, I am still unsatisfied with the lack of diversity and positive portrayal of different ethnicities in fictional novels. Where are the books with the kick-ass Japanese girl, who saves her district; or the book with a young African boy who moves to a new city and experiences the most interesting summer of his life; and since when did Caucasians become the only race to experience a cute romance?
When we do have minorities in Young Adult books that are free from stereotypes or struggles, they are always supporting characters, never the central focus. For example, Uriah and Christina from Divergent, Marcus from Paper Towns, and Takumi from Looking for Alaska are all supporting characters of different ethnicities. These characters were very interesting, had charisma, however it's irritating that the author would never create a story from their point of view.
As I walk through the Teen Section of Chapters, yet again, I am sad that in the modern world, especially in North America, we still lack diversity in something as simple as our literature. Before I leave, my eye catches a book - Eleanor and Park. The novel is written by Rainbow Rowell and the protagonist is funny, smart and - Korean. When asked why Park is Korean, Rowell states, "Because I think there should be more Asian-American characters in YA, especially boys. (And also more chubby girls.Because it's up to people like me, who write, to write them." Rowell's words are true and impactful, they demonstrate to youth what a writer should be doing.
To the average teenager, they have found a new romance novel to swoon over. I however, have just found my new favourite book.
Please comment on how YOU feel about the lack of diversity within Young Adult Fiction.


Kids and Teens ( Top 10 Tips for Christian Teen Parenting )

Kids and Teens ( Top 10 Tips for Christian Teen Parenting ) 



How can I help my Kids now they're getting a little older?
1. "Spend More Time With Them."
Lets debunk the myth of quality verses quantity time. This is rubbish. All kids need attention and a lot of it. If you don't offer it to them they will demand it in possibly unexpected and unwanted ways!
"If you're a parent of teens or even pre-teens, set aside at least fifteen minutes three days a week to spend with them. You might just find you enjoy it and so do they and you could add more time later. Just fifteen minutes could change a relationship."
2. "Don't Buy Your Kids So Much Junk."
Many children in the first world today get everything they ever want. There seem to be few limits to the amount of gadgets and gear that the average teenager is given.
"My parents seem to think that buying me things will get me off the hook from spending time with me or doing things that I want to do. I wish they knew how little those things mean to me. I want them, not things."
3. "Keep Sharing the Scriptures with your kids."
Don't fall into the trap of leaving this to the youth workers of staff in Church. Whilst there's a time to let someone else get involved and ask hard questions it's your job to set the example and study the scriptures with them. Det 6:7-9 makes this clear.
"I don't know why most parents say studying the Bible is so important when they never study it with us. I am going to study with my teen."
4. "Don't let them watch rubbish on TV."
You would have heard over and over growing up, "You are what you eat!". Just as our physical health is determined by what goes into our bodies, our spiritual health is determined by what goes into our minds.
"I am not going to be afraid to tell my kids what they can and cannot watch on TV. There are some things I don't watch because of personal convictions, but my olds have no idea what I watch."
5. "Please Listen to their Music."
Like movies, music has ratings as well according to the level of explicitly. Create your own rating system for your household and listen to your teen's music before giving permission for him/her to listen.
A teen writes, "I know the difference between good music and bad music. I am not going to allow my children to listen to anything that will take them away from Jesus."
6. "Teach Your Children About Finances."
They're just not going to learn about this at school, and in reality they're going to imitate you. Do you give sacrificially? Are you a good steward?
"The reason that I don't know how to handle money now is because my parents never talked to me about money. I'll teach my kids to control their money, and not let it control them. I'm also going to teach them to give God the first and best."
7. "Help Them With Their Homework."
Help and doing are vastly different terms. Provide as much aid as needed for your child to find the solution on his or her own. Guard against impatience and the desire to do the work yourself so it will be perfect.
"My parents help me with my homework and it has helped our relationship as well. When they have the time to help with simple school work it makes me feel like they have the time for my real life problems as well."
8. "Show Real spirituality."
As parents we can pray, read the Bible, and attend worship services, but to our teens that means little if prayer, devotional periods, and worship have little impact on the day to day.
"I want my children to be able to look at my life and know whether I am spiritual or not. I do not want to have to tell them. It's one of those things that is easy to say, but hard to live."
9. "Use Balanced Discipline."
What your teen wants is fair and balanced discipline. Don't just react emotionally to what is happening. What is balanced? They expect fair discipline that is fair according to the offense.
"I want to be firm but loving. I want my children to know that I will not punish one way this time and another way the next."
10. "Love Your Children."
Love, as Paul wrote in I Corinthians, is the most excellent way. It can cover a multitude of sins, mend the broken heart, and bring the sun out on a rainy day.
"I will love my kids with all my heart, soul and strength. No matter what kinds of problems they have I want them to know that I will always love them."
Do your best to measure yourself against these basic tips for teen parenting. Make up your own for your own family.
I'd love to know what you do at home to help your teen to grow.
Until next time,
Dwight Veenman
Dwight Veenman is a committed Christian and father of 3 school aged children. He regularly teaches kids ranging from pre-school to teens. If you're looking for an easier solution to preparing Sunday School Lessons or Youth Group Activities then get a FREE Lesson to try right now at: http://www.raisingfaithfilledkids.com

Kids and Teens ( After School Care Creates Excellence )

Kids and Teens ( After School Care Creates Excellence )

Every parent wants to give their child the gift of success. One amazing way to do that is to get them enrolled in an after school program. At 3:00, when others stare, lounging on the couch watching television and playing violent video games, the lucky ones are being encouraged away from boredom-induced attractions and negative possibilities of drugs, alcohol and other worse options, towards intellectual stimulation and creative play. Everyone acknowledges that top colleges and universities look for extra-curricular activities on the resume of hopeful applicants, because they are the mark of a well-rounded student. After school academies create the habits of "extra" and instill a strong sense that creative play, work ethic and discipline are the pathways to a wonderful academic career, as well as a balanced adult life.
School budget cuts are legendary; we all know about overcrowded classroom issues. Individual attention in a small group at a fantastic after school facility can be a game changer for your child. After school programs can create personalized programs to specifically meet the needs of your child. Talents can be discovered and cultivated by highly trained educators who can take what your child is memorizing in their classroom and help them understand the practical applications for life and future work. Getting them around a different peer group creates opportunities for social growth. They will be asked to work as a team, solve problems together, respect the opinions and feelings of others, which gives them experience collaborating and negotiating with others. After school, they can also get a chance to work more closely with excited and committed adult mentors than they do with a school teacher, which teaches them how to respect adult supervisors, and invites them to create their own set of leadership skills.
Issues of attention deficit, hyperactivity, rebelliousness and obesity can lessen or dissolve completely with the addition of an after school program. Emphasis on physical activity, creatively experiencing and participating in artistic activities, and equal encouragement of intellectual excellence is what creates a well-rounded child.
In addition to offering tutoring services, which can invite them to push past expectations, many after school facilities have independent reading programs they encourage. Teachers agree that if you gift your child with a love of reading, you create life-long self-educators who are excited and confident to learn new things. Another great benefit to your child would be an after school academy that works technology into their curriculum, so that their children have access to the tools they will need for their future. Ask about nutrition; they will have healthy snacks to provide fuel for growth and learning. Having accredited teachers at the program who have bachelors in education and/or a Child Associate Degree is essential to insuring that you have selected the best possible program for your child.
School is legally required and gives our kids the basics. If you want to create excellence, enroll them in an after school program to gift your child with the opportunity to surpass what you both think is possible!
For More Information Visit: http://www.a-kids-academy.com/
Stephen Shankland is a freelance writer specializing in consumer education on a variety of topics including child day care, pre-schools and After School.

Kids and Teens ( Useful Television )

Kids and Teens ( Useful Television )

Television programs do a lot of harm to the students. I take strong exception to this verbal expression. Television programs are immensely useful and beneficial to the students. Televisions are pleasure-deriving machines. A tired and exhausted child can become instantly happy and energized by watching television for a few minutes. Television provides a wide variety of programs. There are more than a hundred programs on television. This causes people to surf the channels as they become blurred and cannot dedicate total care to one program. Thither are a lot of channels for music, entertainment, kids, sports, news and knowledge. Only studying and no source of enjoyment can turn a student to a bookworm. Hence, watching television for at least one hour a day can turn out to be a colossal source of refreshment for the pupils. It is a great stress-buster. Children can watch their favorite cartoons to entertain themselves. Nowadays, the pupils don't need to go to far-located stadiums to watch their favorite matches of various sports like cricket and football. They could view it on televisions just by pushing one button. Thither are many programs which cause a broad mixture of sports games like cricket, football, volleyball, hockey and polo. These games lit up a sportsmanship spirit in students' minds which is very essential as it encourages a pupil to never give up.
There are a bunch of educational programs on television too. They explain all the concepts of various issues by presenting real life lessons and showing experiments which remain bright in our intellects. It gives deeper impact than reading books which are awfully boring and dull. Some instances and examples of educational programs are Discovery channel, National Geographic and History T.V. Pupils could know about eccentric human diseases, the animals in their natural habitat and many great people who have brought a revolution to the society. Television even provides us the information about the happenings all around the world. News channels hold many debates on current problems and issues like increasing rape of women, murders, theft and juvenile offenses. This should be seen by the scholars, which would assist them to know about this cruel and disillusioned world. In a nutshell, the controlled use of television by the students could be vastly beneficial to the students. Children should not forget that their main aim is to study. They should employ the television for their betterment and educational uses only.

Kids and Teens ( Teens Who Want a Six-Pack Should Sprint )

Kids and Teens ( Teens Who Want a Six-Pack Should Sprint )

Many teens, both male and female, would like to get a six-pack. Although a six-pack is most famous for being displayed on male bodies, a growing number of female teens are becoming of the hot, fit bodies of female celebrities in movies and on T.V. who have sexy six-packs, so many teen girls now desire a firm, flat tummy like their heroines.
Everybody has a six-pack but abs only become visible at below 10% body fat for males and below 15% body fat for females. Females must have greater percentage body fat than males to be healthy. A male at 8% body fat looks athletic but a woman at 8% looks like a living skeleton. If she has 13% body fat, she's doing very well.
However, losing weight and doing ab exercises as a teen is problematic. Way too many teen girls go on a diet, rather than simply increase protein, lower their carbs and push weights, which is the quickest, easiest answer to most female weight problems. Also, both male and female teens are faced with issues such as whether weight training for abs is going to mess up their growth spurt and place unnatural stresses on growing muscles during puberty. There is also the issue of gyms often being 18+ only, which rules out treadmills and exercise bikes (unless you have the space, time and money to use these items at home).
The answer to these problems needn't be high-tech. If you are seriously overweight, then some form of diet is a must, since fat loss is ultimately a "calories in, calories out" numbers game. If the number of calories going out is greater than the number of calories coming in, you will lose weight. However, is that weight you lose from fat, water or muscle? Losing water weight looks impressive on the scale but ultimately doesn't mean much, since it doesn't make any difference to the shape of your body if you still have lots of fat. Going on a crash diet will definitely shed fat in the short term but with it will also go a lot of muscle weight, too, which will make it easier to gain all the weight back on later.
Therefore I recommend that you start with bodyweight resistance training to keep you from losing muscle mass, plus do high-intensity cardio for fat loss. One of the best low-tech ways people of any age can burn off fat is by SPRINTING. That's right, just running as fast as you can - preferably, up a hill!
Sprinting has been found to be hugely effective at creating fat loss in individuals of all ages, shapes and sizes and is one of the safest ways you can get a six-pack in record time! Just run on a straight or uphill surface for 20 seconds, then jog back. Do this 20 times and you're done. Do this 3 times a week and you have an excellent means of burning off fat and revealing that sexy six-pack that you've always wanted! Hill sprints are preferably, since they bump up the intensity dramatically to create even faster results. Many online fitness experts swear by sprinting and these days it is becoming one of the most high-intensity cardio exercises around.
So get started sprinting and soon you will have the six-pack abs you have always wanted that you can show off in front of your friends!
Oliver Chapman is an up-and-coming expert in Personal Development who specializes in Health, Wealth and Relationships. This article belongs to Health. To discover all of "Olly's Six Principles" to living your dream life, subscribe to his five-part e-mail series and ongoing newsletter giving tips and advice on how to live your dream life! Copy and paste the link below into your web browser to get started!



Kids and Teens ( Modern Day Parent Trap )

Kids and Teens ( Modern Day Parent Trap )

Do you know the impact that divorce has on children? Divorce has a profound effect on our children. We were walking in the mall, my ex-husband and my son, hand-in-hand. My son was having the time of his life with both parents holding his hands. He was in the middle and the world was all great with him. Then all of a sudden, the unthinkable happened. My son, my adorable son, took my hand and took his father's hand and pulled our hands together, in hopes that we would hold hands. I was so amazed, shocked and at the same time very anti-getting-back-with-my ex-husband. My reaction was so instantaneous, that I jerked my hand away. I immediately realized what my son was doing and focused all my attention on him. I grabbed his hand again and told him how much I loved him. He replied, "Mommy I know, I love you too!" My son was attempting to get his parents back together, his ideal situation. From that point on, I prepared myself for my son's attempt for a parent trap.
It is unfortunate the impact that divorces have on children. Speaking from experience, my parents divorced when I was a child. The absence of my father, not being involved in my life on a daily base, was very impactful. I did think about the day that my parents would be back husband and wife, mother and father in the same household. When my son actually acted on trying to get his parents to unite, I felt a deep regret for placing him in a situation that I could not make happen for him. I love my son and would do anything to make him happy, at least I thought. Reuniting with his father in a romantic way was not ever going to happen. My next order of business was to make certain that he knows that both parents love him more than anything and sometimes adults, parents don't get along and need to be apart. In time, he understood and now cherishes all the moments when we all get together.
One of my favorite movies of all time is the 1998 version of The Parent Trap. What I enjoyed mostly about the movie was that the parents finally got back together at the end of the movie. After plotting, planning and some devious action carried out by the twin sibling, they were able to convince their parents that they were still in love and belonged together. Even though that's in the movies, I've known several couples that married, had children, divorced and eventually got back together. Ashley had married her high school sweetheart Jacob. After eight years of marriage and three children later, they divorced. Living apart and realizing that she still loved Jacob, they eventually got back together. Being parents and both of their involvement in the children lives kept them constantly in touch with each other. It was actually Jacob that initiated the reunion; however, Ashley was hoping that they got back together. In my instance, the best scenario for my son is that both parents live apart but love and support him.
As divorced parents, it is imperative that we focus on the well-being of our children. Even though our children plots and plans for their parents to get back together, communicating to them that they are the most important part of your life will make a tremendous difference and help them deal with the fact, that their parents are not getting back together.
As divorced parents, how we communicate with our children about the relationship of both parents is crucial for them to understand the dynamics of co-parenting.