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Applying Strengths-Based Parenting During Your Child’s High School and College Years

 

Teens

Your children’s high school and college years can be some of the most exciting, challenging and stressful — yet rewarding — years of their lives. New opportunities for growth, exploration, and developing professional and personal relationships are seemingly everywhere. By seizing on the wealth of opportunities available during these special years, your children will be one step closer to blossoming into happy, healthy independent adults who can create fulfilling lives for themselves.

While it may pull on your heartstrings to see your little ones who used to toddle across the kitchen now forging a path for their future, this exciting phase lets them uncover their true talents and allows them to shine. In Gallup’s StrengthsFinder 2.0, talent is described as a natural way of thinking, feeling or behaving. A strength is the result of taking that talent and with investment — skills, knowledge and practice — using it to provide near-perfect performance in a given activity.

Our children do best when they get to use their strengths every day. Likewise, when parents apply their own individual talents and strengths, parenting becomes easier and more fulfilling, which affects their children’s fulfillment too.

As tough as it may be, it’s important to give your children the independence they crave during these formative years. If they elect to drop a class or activity that is not a right fit in favor of one that fosters their creativity, trust their instincts and that they are using their natural talents to the best of their ability. Focus on creating a positive, supportive environment where your children can apply their talents and build them into strengths.

When was the last time you really listened to your kids talk about their passions and started a conversation about developing those areas? At this age, they need to know what steps to take to determine which opportunities are available and how to seek them out.

The Gallup Student Poll has studied nearly 4 million responses from high school students to help educators build focused education that will engage students today and make them ready for tomorrow. Gallup’s Student Poll measures four areas of student success: enthusiasm for school, hope for the future, a knack for entrepreneurship and an understanding of finances. For parents of high schoolers, talk with your children to gauge how they are doing in each of these areas. Maybe you will spark an idea for a side business based on their passions that they can start during summer break. A little extra spending money goes a long way during these busy years filled with after-school activities, homecoming dances and prom.

prom

Of note to parents of older children, the Gallup-Purdue Index studied 30,000 U.S. college graduates to measure the degree to which students were engaged in their work and thriving in purpose, social, financial, community and physical well-being. The study concluded that those who had the following six experiences (Gallup’s Big Six) fared better later in life than those who didn’t have these experiences:

  1. Had a professor who made them excited about learning
  2. Had professors who cared about them as a person
  3. Had a mentor who encouraged them to pursue their goals and dreams
  4. Worked on a long-term project
  5. Had a job or internship where they applied what they were learning
  6. Were extremely involved in extracurricular activities

Stay involved in your children’s progress, and keep tabs on whether the Big Six are showing up in their lives. Pay attention to how they use their strengths in important interactions, whether it is developing a rapport with an internship coordinator or making a positive connection with a student adviser. Remaining focused on these key points allows you to be your kids’ biggest cheerleader and main support system for their long-term success. Our future doesn’t depend on everybody being the same; it depends on all individuals applying and sharing their unique talents, their blessings, their beliefs and their passions.

Take heart, new college parents. The holiday break will be here soon, and that means more opportunities to practice using your unique parenting strengths by touching base and really listening to how all those important new life experiences are going for your children as they navigate campus life.

mary-reckmeyer-ph-d-executive-director-of-gallups-donald-o-clifton-child-development-center

About the author:

Mary Reckmeyer, Ph.D., is the Executive Director of Gallup’s Donald O. Clifton Child Development Center, which has received national attention for excellence in early childhood education and helped parents and children build their lives around strengths. She has studied talent-based interviews of thousands of individuals, including children, teachers and parents, and she helped create the Clifton Youth StrengthsExplorer. Reckmeyer also coauthored How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids. She and her husband have four children.

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A must have school supply – a quality backpack

 

school-supplies

It’s back to school shopping time. Parents across the country are making lists and checking them twice to make sur their child has everything they need for the start of the new school year.

School supply lists have changed A LOT since I went to school. Back in the day we needed a binder, paper, pencils, pens and erasers. That was pretty much it. Anything else was a bonus. Nowadays kids are required to have pens in certain colors, special pencils, super expensive calculators, numerous folders and notebooks, as well as supplies for the classroom.

We always take advantage and stock up on school supplies when they are on sale year round. That way when we have to go school shopping we have almost everything we need and we can avoid the crowds and long lines. The only things we need to pick up are those specific extras teachers might require.

The cost of school supplies really add up, so it’s important to take advantage of sales and special.

There is on thing we learned NOT to skimp on and that’s backpacks. We learned that lesson the hard way over the years.

We used to buy our kids whatever character backpack they wanted from “bargain” type stores (I won’t mention brand names, but I’m sure most readers know what stores I am referring to). We would buy the kids $10 – $15 backpacks. We thought we were saving money but in the long run it ended up costing us MORE money because we always had to replace the backpacks a month or two after school started.

When it comes to backpacks it’s well worth it to spend a little more to get a quality backpack that will last the entire school year.

If you are in need of a backpack for your child for the upcoming school year, check out the great variety available at eBags, Here are just a few examples.

backpack-1

Elementary

JanSport High Stakes

Available in 14 colors; retail price $29.99 – $39.99

  • Fully lined with Herschel Supply’s signature coated fabric
  • Fully padded and fleece-lined 15″ laptop sleeve
  • Magnetic strap closures with metal pin clip
  • Main compartment with cinch top closure
  • Front pocket with hidden zipper and key clip
  • Internal media pocket
  • Ventilated air mesh back padding
  • Contoured shoulder straps

backpack-2

Middle School/Jr. High

Adidas Prime

Available in 7 colors; retail price $60.99 – $64.99

  • Padded laptop sleeve for up to a 15.4’’screen
  • Tricot-lined tablet sleeve and media- safe pocket
  • Two side water bottle pockets
  • Front zippered pocket with deluxe organization
  • LoadSpringTM shoulder strap system and air mesh back panel will help ease the load
  • 3D embroidered brandmark

backpack-3

High School

Hershel Supply Co.Little America

Available in 21 colors; retail price $79.99 – $143.99

  • Fully lined with Herschel Supply’s signature coated fabric
  • Fully padded and fleece-lined 15″ laptop sleeve
  • Magnetic strap closures with metal pin clip
  • Main compartment with cinch top closure
  • Front pocket with hidden zipper and key clip
  • Internal media pocket
  • Ventilated air mesh back padding
  • Contoured shoulder straps

I recommend Jansport backpacks. My kids have used that brand’s backpacks many times over the years. They have plenty of great colors and designs to choose from.

My son has an Adidas backpack from eBags. I made extra certain to give it a good “once over” to see how well it’s made. I even tugged on the straps to see how well they are sewn on. It is a quality backpack.

backpack

The backpack suits his needs. It’s very room and can handle the super heavy and huge text books he’s bringing home.

There is also room for his laptop, but he doesn’t bring it to school with him.

Our daughter has a zebra print backpack from eBags. I don’t have a photo of it because she leaves it in her car (she goes to college). Every time I ask her for a photo she keeps forgetting to snap one for me. Ugh!

Her backpack looks just like this one.

zebra

I like that eBags has such a huge assortment of colors, designs, sizes, brands and prices available to suit everyone’s needs.

I’ve even found a lunch bag for work that I wan to pick up the next time I get paid. I love the design and that it’s insulated.

lunch

eBags has so much more than just school supplies (backpacks, lunch bags…). They also sell luggage, portable chargers, packing kits, clothing, sporting gear, automotive products and so much more. eBags an easily be your “one stop shop” for a lot of your family’s needs.

Ladies… eBags carries A LOT of beautiful handbags too!

If you would like to check out all that ebags has to offer, visit eBags.com. You can also check them out on social media. All of their links are found at the bottom of their website.

Have you ever shopped at eBags? Are you in need of a quality backpack?

eblogo

Kimberly

*I received free product samples to review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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Why Leaving Home Can Be a Good Thing for Your Teen

 

Teens

There’s no place like home, right? But when home is a battleground centered on a teen who’s got behavioral issues brought on by a mood or emotional disorder, learning disability, addiction, or other difficulties, it no longer feels like a safe haven for anyone in the family. And it doesn’t do a thing for the teen who’s in the middle of it all.

You might have tried other kinds of programs during the school year or during summer vacation, but sometimes a complete change of environment is what’s needed. Academy ranches could be the answer. It’s a safe environment with a fresh, new vista that gives a troubled teen time with peers facing the same challenges as they work through them with counseling and personalized instruction in a setting of natural beauty and away from everything that triggers old behavior patterns.

Part of the ranch academy experience is learning the skills and gaining the confidence to become an independent adult, ready to realize his or her full potential. Teens need guidance, but they’ve got to be given the chance to try things on their own and also occasionally to fail at them. Spending time out of their familiar home environments provides them with the opportunities to do this safely as they learn to be adaptable and overcome obstacles.

While a ranch academy’s focus is to provide individualized and group counseling along with high-quality academics, these are some of the other things that a teen learns in a ranch academy setting that clear the way to becoming a successful adult:

Getting Along With Other People

Compassion and empathy for other people, along with knowing how to cooperate, collaborate, and compromise… those are the easy things, right? Well, maybe it’s true that they’re easy for some people. But others need coaching and practice at them.

Learning school subjects is important, but developing interpersonal skills is important in other ways as a teen participates in activities with peers and matures to go out into the workplace and the greater community. Experiences at a ranch academy teach good manners and communication skills so that a teen gains confidence when meeting new people and learns how to treat others with respect, no matter who they are.

Teen Driver 2

Solving Problems

As your teen gets older, you’re not going to be available every time he or she runs into a difficult situation that requires quick thinking and strategic problem solving. At a ranch academy without you in the next room, teens learn how to keep a cool head and confront things as they happen instead of looking for a parent to make everything all right.

They learn what to do on their own if something isn’t where it should be or doesn’t go as planned. Perhaps most importantly, they learn that not everything is a crisis or an emergency, and gain the confidence to know that there are always ways to work through things that happen and that they are smart enough and strong enough to do it themselves.

Managing Time

Even little kids have calendars that take a strategist to manage. By the time they’re teenagers, their days and nights are full to brimming and it sometimes it seems as if it’s a circus act to keep all the balls in the air. Life at an academy ranch teaches good habits of time management, prioritizing, and decision-making so that they’re not doing five things at once and leaving chaos everywhere they go. Teens at a ranch learn that their own lack of organization affects everyone around them, and they learn to take responsibility for their own actions.

Earning and Managing money

As long as you’re the family treasurer, your teen probably doesn’t take money too seriously. You have it, they want it, and, in many cases, they get it. An academy ranch gives teens the challenge of working for what they want, and teaches the elements of budgeting, the importance of saving, and the value of every hard-earned dollar or ranch credit. What’s even better is the sense of accomplishment a teen gains in the process.

Doing the Stuff of Daily Life

Slacking off isn’t an option when it comes to doing dorm and ranch chores. Teens at an academy ranch quickly learn that they are responsible for taking care of themselves and their surroundings, and see how their actions impact the others they live with. Knowing the state of his or her room at home, it may be a surprise to know how much more amenably a teen will take on a responsibility if you’re not the one telling him or her to do it.

Even if your teen is staying at home with you, here are some good suggestions on  how to manage these issues and more.

Teen with horse

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The Rising Teen Epidemic and What to Do as a Parent

 

Teen Smartphone

So here’s the good news: according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the levels of drug abuse among eighth, tenth and twelfth graders is trending downward. Many of the drugs studied are at their lowest levels of use since the study began. Even prescription drugs like opioids are at an all time low amongst teens. Hooray!

The bad news is that teen drug use has not been eradicated and it probably never will. Teenagers like to experiment. They’re more likely to succumb to peer pressure. And as the therapists at www.hotelcaliforniabythesea.com have noted, drug use, abuse, and treatment is much different for young adults than older adults.

As a parent, it is totally normal to want to protect your children from all of the harms in the world. And, when those children become teenagers, it is totally normal to want to seal them in their bedrooms and monitor all of their contact with the outside world. This urge has become even stronger since the internet reached the ubiquity stage and much of teen communication and entertainment moved away from the easily observable.

Seriously, schools use tablets now. No more having just one computer for the whole family that sits against a wall of the living room where anybody can walk by and snoop over someone’s shoulders! Even with monitoring apps and parental controls, your kids are going to find ways to sneak around. It’s how they try to take control over their lives and experiment with adulthood. It’s a normal part of growing up, and it’s a normal part of parenting to hate it.

So what can you do? And even if you do everything right, aren’t your kids likely to experiment with drugs and drinking anyway?

Yes, probably. Still, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try.

Calm Yourself

The first thing you need to do is develop your poker face. If you freak out every time your kids try to talk to you about the behaviors in which they are experimenting or that they observe in their friends, they’ll stop sharing these details with you. You can still freak out on the inside, of course, but do your best to present a calm and even response even when you want to tear out your hair. If you stay calm and positive, your kids are more likely to tell you what they’re dealing with and you’ll be better to able to spot problems in their early stages.

Teen Driver 2

Communicate Often

Figuring out how to talk to your kids about drugs and drinking can be difficult. Even so, you have to do it. And you cannot wait for your kids to come to you. Ask them questions about their days, their classes, their friends, their friends’ classes and families. Remember the details. The more interest you take in your kids’ lives the less likely they are to try to slip something by you.

Set Up Support Early

We aren’t advocating that you toss your teen into rehab after his or her first drink. Of course not! What we mean is that it’s important that, in addition to having stable boundaries and rules, it’s important to reinforce the idea that when your kids need help, they should come to you. Even if they think it’s nothing. Even if they are embarrassed. And this is where your poker face is going to come in handy because these times are when you need to be supportive instead of judgmental.

Offer Autonomy

No matter what they think and feel, no teen is truly ready to take total control over his or her life. Even so, if you start noticing problematic behavior, it is important that you resist the urge to completely control your teen’s life. Yes, privileges can be taken away, but if you want to help your teens stand up to peer pressure and get the help they need if they develop dependency on drugs or alcohol, they need to feel like they are making a choice. Talk to your teens about what kind of resolutions they’d like to see or what kind of help they think they need. You don’t have to give them exactly what they want, but including them in the conversation will make the decision to get help feel like something they can own. And the more ownership your teen feels, the more likely he or she is to get back on the right path.

Adolescence is rough on everyone. Puberty is awful. Everyone will make mistakes. But don’t worry, you’ll get through it, and so will your kids.

Teenagers

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Make the Right Financial Choices for College – Tips from a Financial Industry Veteran

 

College

As a parent with one child in college and another heading off to college in the fall of 2017, I know all too well about the difficulties of finding a way to pay for it.

Below is a guest post from the CEO and co-founder of College Ave Student Loans that might help some parents to navigate the stressful process of paying for college. This is a guest post. The opinions expressed are that of the author’s and do no necessarily reflect my own.

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College award letters have arrived and decision day has passed. Now tuition bills are arriving and many families are thinking: How do we pay for it?  As parents formulate a plan to afford college, private student loans can help bridge the gap between scholarships, grants, and federal student loans.  Here are some tips from College Ave Student Loans CEO and Co-Founder Joe DePaulo on things to consider when thinking about private student and parent loans:

Consider all of your options. Scholarships, grants, and federal student loans in the student’s name should be the first things families look to when budgeting for college.  Unfortunately, these sources aren’t always enough to cover the full cost of college.  A successful college funding strategy takes some research and planning, by looking at all available sources of funding.  For those with good credit, a private student loan or private parent loan might help with expenses not covered by other options.

Understand the importance of good creditUnlike federal loans, private student loans typically require a credit and income review to determine an individual’s anticipated ability to repay the loan. Since many students have limited credit history and income, private student loans typically require a cosigner (often a parent or guardian who has good credit and sufficient income) who agrees to take equal responsibility to repay the loan if the student borrower can’t. Some private lenders, like College Ave Student Loans, also offer parent loans for parents who want to borrow on their own without sharing responsibility with the student. Parents with strong credit may be able to save with private parent loans over the Federal Direct Parent PLUS loan, so be sure to shop around. Not sure about your credit? College Ave Student Loans offers simple and free credit pre-qualification tools at CollageAveStudentLoans.com so customers can quickly find out if their credit qualifies for a College Ave loan.

Make sure your plan goes beyond tuition.There are lots of extra costs of college beyond the school’s tuition and fees. Plan ahead for extra expenses likedorm supplies, books, or a new laptop. If a student is in off-campus housing, you may also need to think about utilities, groceries, gas and more. Schools factor these additional expenses into their cost of attendance. As long as your existing aid doesn’t exceed the school’s calculated cost of attendance, private student and parent loans can be used to cover those out-of-pocket costs. College Ave’s Parent Loan even offers the option for a portion of the loan funds to be deposited directly into the parents’ bank account – so they can control the spending for extra college costs.

Don’t assume all loans are the same.  If you decide that borrowing is the right option for your family, shop around to get a loan that works for you. Low rates are important, but also be sure to look for lenders with repayment options that help you match the loan to your budget. Be on the lookout for any application or origination fees as well. 

If you need to borrow, don’t wait until the last minute. The time from application to disbursement (when a student loan is sent to the school) varies. At a minimum, the process requires participation from you, your lender, and your school.  Even though this can be streamlined, there’s always the possibility that something could slow it down such as your school certifying your loan.  On top of that, there are certain regulatory periods (e.g., right-to-cancel period) that are required by law and cannot be reduced.

College Students

About the author:

Joe DePaulo, a financial services veteran, previously served as CFO, EVP of Banking and a member of the Board of Directors at Sallie Mae. Before Sallie Mae, he was CEO and co-founder of Credit One Financial Solutions, a company focused on debt consolidation. He previously held several executive positions as MBNA, including U.S. Card group executive and member of the corporate management committee.

 

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Teens and Drugs: Don’t Look the Other Way

 

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Many people use prescription drugs for relief from chronic pain, depression, anxiety, and ADHD. Unfortunately, many people abuse these drugs and then find themselves addicted. Some of these abusers take more than the prescribed dosage. But, more often than not, the abuse comes from people who do not have a prescription at all.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, of the number of abusers, teens and young adults between the ages of 18 to 25 rank the highest. In a single year, 2014, over 1,700 died of an overdose. This figure does not include young adults that required medical treatment or a hospital stay. If you see a change in your child’s behavior take notice and act without delay. The sooner he/she gets help at a recovery clinic, the more likely positive changes will be permanent. Pinnacle Peak Recovery, an Arizona drug rehab program lists a number of programs that use proven treatment modalities like CBT, DBT, EMDR, and Experiential Therapy that can help your teen if they have an addiction problem.

Drug abuse is on the rise. And for teens, the probability of having someone approach them is more common than you think. Dealers are in middle schools, high schools, and colleges, often disguised as friends. And what they’re pushing often originally comes from a pharmacy shelf. Of these prescription drugs, the most common on the streets are opioid pain relievers, ADHD and anti-anxiety drugs. The reason they are so available in colleges is that students are under a lot of pressure to get good grades. The ADHD drugs help them to focus, making studying easier. The problem is that they soon begin to rely on them for daily use.

Medicine

Teens and young adults want to fit in with their peers. If approached at school or a party, many will try them just to look cool. Some may never take a pill again, but others now contact the person who introduced them to get more. Despite your best efforts, any child can find themselves addicted. This is a serious matter. They are taking something their body doesn’t need and may lead to serious consequences down the road.

If you suspect your child may have a problem with drugs, don’t ignore it. Take the time to sit with them and discuss the dangers of using these types of medicines. If they admit that they have tried but are not using, keep an eye on them. If you observe changes in their behavior, grades and appearance these may all be cause for alarm. Since prescription drugs are only safe when monitored by a doctor, teens and adults are at risk.

If you discover that your teen has a drug problem get them help fast. Along with rehab, you should also keep your child in counseling to uncover the underlying reason for the abuse. While some do it just to experiment and get high, others do it to avoid their life. Getting the proper help can mean the difference between a life of dependency and a bright future.

You love your children and want the best for them. But, sometimes despite your efforts, they get into trouble. A child hooked on drugs could lead to deadly consequences. This is a growing problem across the United States. It’s not partial to any economic or social group. Educating your teen before they reach puberty is a step in the right direction. Keeping them busy with sports and after-school programs will also help. It may just give them the confidence they need to say no to drugs.

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