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Teaching life lessons to children

 

Teaching

In the next few weeks many children across the country will be returning to school. They will trade lazy days by the pool with ABC’s and 123’s. Such is the “circle of life”. LOL!

Academic learning is very important as we all know. It’s difficult to get through life without knowing the basics. Not only that you need a good education if you want to make something with your life. As much as children whine and complain about tests and homework in the end they will realize that it was all worth it.

In addition to a good education children should also be taught some important “life lessons” too. Things like showing others respect, accepting people for who they are including all their quirks, and be kind to one another.

I am a firm believer, and practitioner, of Random Acts of Kindness. I try and do at least one random act of kindness daily. I have encouraged my children to do that same.

It’s important for me that my children accept people in all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, abilities and differences. Just because someone looks or acts differently doesn’t make them any less of a person. I also ask my children to think about the other person and try to imagine being in their shoes. No matter our differences are we are all people who live, breath, laugh and love.

Netflix has an original series called Derek. It’s from the creative mind of Ricky Gervais. This mockumentary-style comedy-drama is all about acceptance, no matter age, abilities or quirks. Ricky plays the role of Derek, a nursing home employee who is able to see the good in everyone. He’s almost too kind. Derek himself is socially awkward. One might think that there may be something “wrong” with him but the reality is that he’s just a gentle soul who cares about the people he cares for in the nursing home and his fellow employees.

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I’ve watched a few episodes. It’s funny but at the same time kind of sad. It’s more along the lines of  “dramedy” (drama/comedy).

So far my favorite episode is episode 3 from season one when a teenager comes to fulfill some community service at the nursing home. My favorite line from that episode is when she’s asked “Do you read?” to which she replied “Yes”. She was then asked “What do you read?” and the teen replied “Twitter”. LOL! That sounds like a teenager.

In that episode the teen girl was initially put off by the elderly people at the nursing home. She seemed disgusted by them (such as changing their bed sheets). You could tell she did not want to be there. Then one day one of the elderly residents complimented her on her nails. That made the young girl warm up a bit and soon she found herself enjoying her time with the elderly people. She found them fun and interesting where as originally she saw them as gross and pathetic. She learned to open her eyes (and her heart) and accept the residents for who they really are and not what she assumed they were.

I don’t think this show is for young children. There are a few crude parts that I’ve seen thus far (rarely but there are parts not suitable for  young children).

Netflix has plenty of great films that help teach children about acceptance and empathy. Here are a few examples you might want to consider watching with your child. I think these films are a great way to get a conversation going about accepting, kindness and empathy towards others.

Big Kids

Films/Shows for older children.

1. Rudy – Great movie!
2. Mulan
3. A Mile in His Shoes
4. Radio – Love this movie!
5. Good Luck Charlie: Down a Tree
6. Glee

Little Kids

Films/shows for younger children.

1. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Vol. 1 Ep. 6: Friends Help Each Other
2. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Season 3, Ep. 4: One Bad Apple
3. Arthur, Season 15, Ep. 8: Muffy’s Classic Classy Club / Best Enemies
4. The Hunchback of Notre Dame
5. Super Why, Season 1, Ep. 61: The Ugly Duckling: Becoming a Swan
6. The Fox and the Hound

Why not pick a few of these shows or movies and have a family movie night?

No family movie night would be complete without a yummy snack. Try something different. Instead of popcorn why not bake Salted Caramel Monkey Bread. Mmmm! This looks so good!

Monkey Bread

It’s always fun to do a family activity together. Check out this Kindness Punch Box. This is a fun way to introduce acts of kindness to your children. Plus doing a craft together is a great bonding experience.

Punch Box

 

To learn more about Netflix and their programming visit www.Netflix.com. You can also find the brand on social media.

How do you teach kindness, empathy and acceptance to you children? Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences.

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Kimberly

*I was not compensated for this post. I receive a free membership in exchange for my participation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.

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Fed Up – A food documentary that the food industry doesn’t want you to see in theaters and on VOD today (May 9, 2014)

Fed Up Movie Poster

I have to admit that I enjoy watching documentaries. They are a wonderful way to learn about things you might not otherwise have the opportunity to learn about. I also find them very “eye opening”.

Many times when I watch a documentary I end up with strong feelings – angry, sad, scared or happy. Especially after watching ones that expose what goes on “behind the scenes” that many people don’t know about or are blissfully unaware of.

I recently had the opportunity to screen the documentary Fed Up. It will be shown in select theaters and on VOD (Video on Demand) TODAY (May 9, 2014).

For the past 30 years, everything we thought we knew about food and exercise is dead wrong. FED UP is the film the food industry doesn’t want you to see. From Katie Couric, Laurie David (Oscar winning producer of An Inconvenient Truth) and director Stephanie Soechtig, FED UP will change the way you eat forever.

Wow. Simply WOW! I learned A LOT from watching this film.

While it is important to eat healthy and exercise it is NOT the #1 thing you should be taking into consideration – it’s sugar.

The number of Type II Diabetes has skyrocketed over the past 30 years. More and more children are developing this diasese than every before. Type II Diabetes was mostly seen as something that effects adults. These days it’s almost effecting more children then adults.

Today’s generation could possibly live SHORTER lives than their parents.

Why is this happening? One word – sugar.

Today people around the world consume sugar more than ever before. It’s in almost everything we eat and drink (except all-natural products) and it comes in various forms.

Even foods that are supposedly “better for you” like low-fat products are actually WORSE then their regular counter parts. In order to make low fat or reduced fat products taste better they add sugar. So you might be saving a few grams of fat here and there you are actually consuming MORE sugar than your body can deal with.

When your body is fed to much sugar your liver has to work overtime to process it. The easiest thing for it to do is turn it into fat. If you eat so much sugar your pancreas has to release insulin to help deal with it. Insulin also turns the sugar into fat.

Fed Up

There are approximately 4.2 grams in every teaspoon of sugar. The World Health Organization recommends no more than 6-8 teaspoons of sugar per day (24-32 grams per day maximum). I believe the film said that is equal to 5% of your daily totals. Due to politics and government bullies that was changed to allowing you to have 25% of your daily dietary intake as being sugar. That is a HUGE difference.

Go to your pantry right now and grab any food product (soup, cereal, cookies…) and look at the nutrition facts. You’ll notice that there are NO PERCENTAGES listed next to sugar like there are other things (fat, cholesterol…). That is because the big companies and government people who regulate this kind of stuff DOESN’T want you to know the real percentage of sugar you are ingesting when you eat those products.

In the film they showed a typical diet for one day (pancakes, orange juice, PB&J sandwich, spaghetti with sauce…). The meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) were things that most people might eat during the day. The sugar came to well over 40+ teaspoons! Not the 6-8 that the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends. It’s no wonder their is an obesity and diabetes epidemic, not only in this country but around the world.

Processed foods (those with the most sugars) are cheap so people purchase them over healthy, natural foods. School budgets have been cut so much that all they can afford is junk foods to serve students. Some schools even rely on meals from Taco Bell and other fast food places to serve lunch to kids. What kid is going to pass up on a slice of Pappa John’s pizza and opt for a garden salad with grilled chicken instead?

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When I was in school the lunch people made the meals. Now they serve processed, pre-made, frozen meals. Yuck! I’m grateful my kids bring lunch.

The documentary highlights several teenagers with weight issues. They are doing the right thing (eating low fat foods, excercising…) but remain overweight. That is because those “reduced fat” foods and the foods they are served at school are loaded with sugars.

Even Michelle Obamas “Get Moving” campaign was discussed in the film and how she emphasizes moving over eating healthy. That is because she cannot risk ticking off the powerful food companies by emphasizing that kids need to eat natural foods and not processed foods.

I also learned from the documentary that you shouldn’t eat foods with more than five ingredients because it’s not healthy for you. I took that to heart and recently looked at the label on some chicken that I served my son for lunch one day. The chicken had only four ingredients – which I was thrilled about – BUT – the bread crumbs (coating) had about 20+ ingredients. And it was just bread crumbs! UGH!!!!

Now when I shop for foods I am cautious of the label. I read the grams of sugar and take them to heart. I am also looking to replace foods we normally buy with those that are made with less ingredietns, are more natural and contain less sugar.

If you would like to learn more look for Fed Up at a theater near you or on Video on Demand services. You can also visit www.FedUpMovie.com. The film can also be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Here is the film’s trailer.

 

Kimberly

*I viewed an online screener in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.

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Financial Literacy Month: How to Have the Money Conversation with Your Kids

 

dollar

As a parent you are constantly helping your children develop an understanding of the world around them.  As your children grow older, the conversations evolve from teaching your children basic skills, like manners, to more complicated topics, like financial management.

April is Financial Literacy Month, so it’s a great opportunity to try and make a point to talk to your kids about money and how to manage it. Maybe you bring it up while you’ve got them in your backseat on the way to school or while handing out allowances; as long as you get the conversation going, that’s what matters.

Financial literacy is the ability to understand the language of finance. Taking the time to introduce even simple concepts about what financially-related words mean can help your children greatly in the future. Financial literacy or financial education will allow your kids to make informed decisions regarding the management of their money and gain greater understanding of how money works in the world around them.

You may be surprised to learn that teens are anxious to have more of these money-related conversations, as well. According to a Teens & Personal Finance Survey conducted by Junior Achievement USA (in partnership with The Allstate Foundation) more than half of all boys and girls surveyed stated that, “when it comes to financial literacy, parents/guardians do not spend enough time talking to them about money-related topics.”

Helping your kids understand money at an early age doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Below are some simple tips to help get you started!

Young Children - START THE CONVERSATION

With your younger children, bring up money conversations in everyday life to help them understand the value of the dollar. Some examples of how to do this may be to discuss wants versus needs when watching various commercials on TV or talking about how much things cost when you are at the store. Here at Oink, we love the lessons and milestones offered on moneyasyougrow.org!

Pre-Teens – MAKE IT RELEVANT IN THEIR WORLD

One of the ways to enforce the knowledge on the value of a dollar is helping them plan for things they want. Some ideas of how to do this include making a wish list. This gives your kids an opportunity to earn money and save for big items. Another option is to give your kids a budget for birthday presents so that your pre-teen experiences finding the best deals on different gift ideas for their friends.

Teens – TEACH THROUGH HANDS-ON EXPERIENCE

As kids get older, open a bank account that will let them pay for things and learn how money comes in and goes out in a tangible way. As an extra incentive, you can even work with them to plan a vacation together and teach various budgeting lessons throughout the planning experience.

Young Adults – HELP THEM UNDERSTAND FINANCIAL TERMS

Preparing for college or the workforce is an excellent time to introduce terms that your young adult will need to understand in the near future. If your child is taking out a student loan, be sure to discuss interest rates with them and go over repayment terms. If your child is opening their first credit card, be sure to discuss borrowing mechanisms, such as APR and credit limits. Make sure your soon-to-be adult understands credit scores and the difference they can make on an APR in the future.

You don’t have to be a money expert to have these conversations with your child. Just introducing simple money concepts will go a long way towards fostering financial wellness. It’s also important to remember that you, as a parent, don’t have to be in an excellent financial situation to still be helpful in your child’s financial literacy. Don’t be afraid to talk about your own money struggles – it can be a good way to learn and grow together. What’s important is instilling a good knowledge of how money works so that children are eventually able to make smart and informed decisions on their own.

Happy Financial Literacy Month!

Piggy Bank

About Rebecca Howell

Rebecca Howell is the Marketing Manager for Oink.com, the first e-commerce solution that enables teens to manage, spend, and give their money within a parent-controlled environment. The technology offers parental controls and a budgeting dashboard for the entire family.

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How to select the best college for your child?

 

Collage

When people say “time flies by quickly” they are not exaggerating. It seems like only yesterday our sweet big eyed daughter was running around here with her Barney stuffed doll and her hair in pigtails. She’s almost 17 years old now and instead of Teletubbies and Dora the Explorer she’s into boys and trying to convince us to let her go to Florida on Spring Break with an 18 year old friend (no way!).

Sigh… if only they could stay young for a longer time.

We’re not prepared for a lot of things that come with having an older teenager. It’s enough just trying to help her find a job so she can afford a car, which is another thing we are not ready for. We also have to think about college. She’s going to be a senior in the fall. NOW is the time to think about where she wants to go, what she wants to study and spend our weekends making college visits.

When I was in high school and I was planning on going to college I wanted to go to a college that my friends were going to – or one that was known as a “party school”. I was young and foolish then. I didn’t think about college curriculums, entrance exams and essays, financial aid, student loans or what college majors have the strongest job prospects. I just wanted to go and hang out with my friends. What a big mistake that was.

I’m NOT letting our daughter make the same mistakes that I made. I want her to know everything there is to know about selecting a college, applying for college and how to afford college.

You CAN find this information online, but you’ll go crazy researching it. There are so many websites and so much different information to be found online. I prefer to have it all in one place by a trusted resource. That is why I am going to get a copy of the book by U.S. News & World Report called Best Colleges 2014. This guide book is filled with the latest, up to date, information and includes all important information you’ll need to consider when selecting a college.

Best Colleges 2014 cover for B&N Better Paper Project promo

I like that the book starts off with something that is very important for all college bound students – WHY are you going to college? How do you learn best? What activities matter most? Can you handle the pressure?

Our daughter wants to go to a college on the west coast (we’re in NY). I can understand that she wants to “spread her wings and fly” and be independent, we also don’t think she’s “equipped” to handle something like that… yet. We’d like for her to go to a college locally for a couple of years to see how she does then she can transfer any where she wants to go.

I love that the book points out which schools offers the best internships, which schools foster a sense of community with incoming freshmen and which schools are best for certain degrees.

Throughout the book you’ll also find informative articles/essays written by professionals that also help you and your student prepare for life beyond high school.

Here is just one of the articles you’ll find in the book (shared with permission).

Admissions Officers Speak Out: Application Mistakes To Avoid

Some types of mistakes on college applications drive admissions staffers crazy (and sometimes send the applicant straight to the rejection pile). U.S. News asked pros from around the country to weigh in on what they’d strongly rather you not do. Here’s a sampling from the 13 goofs they identified:

Let parents take the lead

“It doesn’t tell us that a student is interested if we get 15 phone calls from Mom,” says Tom Weede, vice president for enrollment management at Butler University. “We want families involved. But the student needs to take the lead.” 

Submit a lengthy résumé

“At my stage in my career, I shouldn’t have a three-page résumé. So no 17-year-old should be submitting a three-page résumé,” advises Leigh A. Weisenburger, dean of admission and financial aid at Bates College . “I know many college counselors encourage students to write one as a process to help the kid recognize all she’s accomplished, but we don’t need to see it if you’ve filled out the application properly.” 

Hit submit without proofreading

“Using spell-check isn’t enough – you have to proofread,” warns Debra Chermonte, dean of admissions and financial aid at Oberlin College. Admissions officers tell of one applicant who described having an “international bachelorette” degree and another who wrote a passionate essay about the musical “Lion King.” 

Wait until the last minute

“Many students who submit on the date of the deadline assume that everything transmitted and was received. But sometimes things are lost in cyberspace,” says Julie Shimabukuro, director of undergraduate admissions at Washington University in St. Louis. “We try to give a few days’ grace period, but colleges and universities expect you to confirm that your application has been received and that it is complete. Check your status through the college’s or university’s website first to see if everything is there.”

Write a one-size-fits-all essay

“If you write an essay for a university, and then you write that essay again and it’s just a matter of changing the name of the university, then it’s probably going to be a poor essay. And yes, we have gotten students who forget to change ‘Northwestern’ to “Rice,’” reports Chris Muñoz, vice president for enrollment at Rice University. “Why, specifically, have you chosen us? Demonstrating true interest and care can make a difference on the margin.”

Trump up your extracurricular activities

“We want to know where a student’s passions lie, and genuine interests tend not to appear suddenly in senior year,” states Sarah Richardson, director of admissions and scholarships for Creighton University. I’d rather see quality over quantity. Include as much detail as you can so that we can understand what kind of a fit you’ll be for our institution.” 

Fail to check our requirements

“There’s nothing more disappointing than to review an application of a student who might otherwise be competitive for admission and realize she is ineligible because she didn’t take the required courses, says Kelly A. Walter , associate vice president and executive director of admissions for Boston University. “For very focused and specific programs and majors like business, you’re required to have specific quantitative skills. Or for physical therapy and athletic training, a very strong foundation in both science and math is a critical factor in the admissions process. So look at all the curriculum requirements for things you may be interested in.”

Excerpted from “Oops! These Goofs May Ruin Your Chances” in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges 2014.

Thankfully this article will help us to avoid these mistakes.

I made A LOT of mistakes when it came to college. I wasn’t prepared and I didn’t think things through. As a result I dropped out after one year and had to wait several years before I was able to return to college with a better head on my shoulders.

I am getting a copy of this book not only for me and my husband but also for our daughter. She needs to start taking things more seriously and start narrowing down her choice of schools that are not entirely based on location (she’s only looking at where is a school is located – not at what it has to offer or how much it costs). She also needs to narrow down her major and find out if it’s a major that will help her to land a job when she graduates or does she need to reconsider and come up with alternative options just in case?

You can find the book at retail locations like Barnes & Noble and Books-A-Million. You can also purchase the guidebook HERE. Use the discount code SCHOOL25 to save 25%.

If you have a child heading off the college soon or you have already survived sending a child off to college, would you care to share any words of advice and tips? Not only will it help me but others who are reading this post. I value your feedback.

graduation

Kimberly

*I have partnered with U.S. News and World Reports to bring you this information. Although compensated the opinions expressed are entirely my own and not influenced in any way.

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4 Techniques That Will Help You Teach Your Teen to Drive

 

Teen Driver

You taught your kid how to walk with no problems. When it came time to go to school, you showed him how to add and subtract with ease. But now that your child is approaching the magic age that suddenly allows him to drive, it’s time for you to teach him something that’s not quite as simple. Operating a vehicle is multi-tasking at its finest, and even old-timers can’t always do it effectively. So how are you supposed to instruct your teenager, that won’t even clean up his room when asked, how to do it?

1. It’s What You Do, Not What You Say

With teenagers, it doesn’t really matter what words are coming out of your mouth unless you back them up with actions. This is especially true when it comes to driving. You can preach all of the rules of the road to your teen until you lose your voice, but he will still pay more attention to what you do when you are behind the wheel. After all, if you break one of the rules, it must be okay for him, right?

2. Answer the “Why?”

Just like when your kid was a toddler, the all-important answer to the question “Why?” really matters. It’s not enough to tell your teen that he needs to keep both hands on the steering wheel: You need to explain that if he doesn’t, he won’t be able to control the car successfully in an emergency situation. Once your teen actually understands the reasoning behind all of the driving rules you give him, he is more apt to follow them.

3. Be a Pollyanna

Sometimes it seems like all you ever say is, “Don’t do that!” and “No, that’s not right!” Instead, try to focus on the positive. Even though your teen seems like he doesn’t care about what you think of him, deep down, he thrives on your pride for him. So let him know how awesome he is when he follows the speed limit, even in the school zone. Tell him good job when he uses his blinker before switching lanes. He will crave your positive words and try to earn them every chance he gets. Plus, teaching him to drive will be much more pleasant experience for both of you.

4. Use Scare Tactics

It may be a cheap shot, but it is an effective one. And when it comes to your teen’s safety, you need to take advantage of everything at your disposal. In order to really stress to your teen the importance of what you are telling him, you need to put a little fear in his bones. Let him know that out of every five teenage deaths, one of them is from a car crash, making it the leading cause of death for his age group (15-19 years). Inform him that over 5,000 teenagers die while driving (or riding with a teen driver) each year, and 56% of these teens were not wearing seatbelts.

To top it all off, really ingrain the importance of safe driving into his head by showing him graphic images of car crashes caused by teen drivers. If that doesn’t scare him into driving safely, you might want to withhold the licensing process until it does.

Car

Guest post by Drivers Ed by Improv.

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5 Parenting Tips Every Parent Can Do To Make a Difference in Their Teen’s Life

 

Talking to teen

As a parent, you want to equip your teen with the skills necessary to navigate through the world with a minimal amount of pain and hurt. However, adolescence is typically when teens break away emotionally from their parents as they try to find their own identity. Even though you and your teen are entering a new phase in your relationship, there are still some parenting techniques and tips you can employ to make a difference in how your teen transitions into a healthy, capable adult.

Tip #1. Set Rules and Consequences Up Together

As your teen gains more independence, now is a good time to discuss the house rules and the consequences of breaking them. Often, your teen will come up with some meaningful contributions to the discussion. Hold the conversation when you are both calm and relaxed rather than immediately after an infraction. Establishing expectations on both sides will give you both an idea of what happens and what punishments are fair.

Tip #2. Communicate About Dangers

Your teen may feel like he or she knows everything there is to know about life, but you can make them better prepared when you have open and honest discussions about things like sex, drugs, drinking, bullying and even social media responsibilities. Make sure they are educated on the facts of each topic rather than rely on what they hear through their friends. Brainstorm ways that your teen can handle various situations, from being offered alcohol at a party to dealing with a bully. Planning, preparation and information also leaves the door wide open for your teen to come talk to you about any of these issues in the future.

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Tip #3. Know When to Step In and When to Back Off

Your teen needs opportunities for independence now, so give them a chance to do things on their own, within reason. Step in when your teen is thinking about doing something harmful or permanent, but in general, let them have some leeway when it comes to day to day decisions. Realizing the consequences of their choices are some of the most powerful life lessons, and sheltered or smothered teens may not develop a healthy sense of self awareness. Pick your battles when it comes to your teenager and don’t nitpick over small matters, yet step in when it is something that is significant or potentially serious.

Tip #4. Get to Know Their Friends

You may not like your teen’s friends, but when you get to know them better, it gives you insight into the type of people your teen identifies with, for good or bad. It also gives your teen a chance to see how his or her friends react around others, adults specifically. If your teen’s friends are not respectful, responsible or otherwise appropriate, your teen will see that quickly. Knowing about your teen’s friends also gives you another avenue for communication—you can ask about the happenings in the friend’s lives and gain insight into your own teen’s thoughts, concerns or achievements.

Tip #5. Set the Example

Your teenager may act like he or she doesn’t want much to do with you but in reality, your actions and behaviors still have a big influence on how your teen views the world. Make sure your actions in dealing with others, handling stress and challenges and expressing yourself reflect what you want your teen to see you do. You can be a good role model and help your teen develop appropriate ethical and moral standards that will help guide them through their later teen and adult years.

Teens

Tyler Jacobson is a freelance writer with expertise in marriage and family development and adolescent issues. For more parenting tips, visit HelpYourTeenNow.com.

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