Teenagers: Managing Highly Demanding Work with High Demands

Teenagers are still growing and are having increasing demands which are difficult to meet. They face a lot of challenges from school, peers, and sports but are equipped with confidence. Parents think teenagers have it all easy but they need more support and understanding now than ever.

Work

High school kids have daily home work that takes three to four hours every day. The advanced and honors courses leave little room for outside fun. Teenagers manage the tests, grades, ACT, SAT, activities, and so on. To meet their demands, teenagers start working as soon as they are eligible. Volunteering in a related interested field is expected at this age. Through volunteering, high school kids are able to explore the study and work choices.

Health

The frontal lobe of the teenagers is still developing. Teenagers are highly susceptible to schizophrenia and other issues.Their perception of situations and problem solving methods are different than adults. Healthy diet, exercise, and more sleep is recommended for overall well being. Social, physical, emotional, and mental health is crucial for teenagers. Any out of school activity costs a lot but there is risk of developing obesity at this age and related complications may arise due to the sedentary lifestyle. Smart phone addiction goes often unrecognized in teenagers.

Peer Pressure

Teenagers face drugs, alcohol, dating, and other situations in daily lives. Increased rates of depression and suicide among teenagers are due to the constant pressure. Cyber-bullying and online crimes on teenagers are getting out of control. They are exposed unimaginable sex and terrorist videos that are available openly on the Internet. Cyber crimes and under age charges can be filed in case of sharing nude photos.

Dating

Dating is common in high school and kids are highly anticipating for this in elementary and middle schools. Many end up marrying their high school partners for life long. However, nowadays due to the unlimited exposure, there is high occurrences of teenage pregnancies which hinders their education, work, and lifestyle. Children are exploring their sexuality and identifying their preferences. They are experimenting and knowing their limits. Too much sharing on Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, live videos, unlimited selfies, and so on take a huge toll on time and efforts. The cost of the dates also is an additional expense for the family! Some do earn through chores and part time jobs.

Demands

If you have a teenager at home, probably you have come across all the high-end demands. Smartphone, car, laptop, events, branded gear, allowance, and what not. They have to have the stuff to get along with their friends. ‘All are doing it’ and ‘All have it’ are some of the phrases parents get to hear.

Cost

Smartphone for a teenager costs $1000 or more and it needs yearly upgrade! Carrier bill of teenagers with unlimited data costs about $100 a month. High-end earbuds to listen to the music which cost another $150. Monthly music memberships for Spotify and Netflix add another $50. If your high school kid is a gamer, they will need monthly memberships, gaming systems, game remotes, and compatible head phones add another $1000.  If you have a fashion favorite at home, clothing, seasonal attire, and accessories cost another $500 per month (minimum).

Colleges

Finding a correct match for the courses teenagers wish to study and the college offering them is not decided until they join.  They are applying to colleges and scholarship and writing related essays. The application fees of the colleges and the college visits itself may add up to significant amount.

Managing all 

Teenagers are working their best to meet the work and increasing pressures. Stress management is possible through yoga, meditation, and social and physical activities. The outbursts and yelling are a way to get the stress out. Understanding the kids nature while respecting their growth is needed during their developing years. Helping teenagers take the right decisions and reminding them of the basic rules and life goals keeps them focused.

The challenges faced by current generation are never heard before and they are working hard to get ahead in the competition of study and life! Parents must show their support and encouragement while negotiating their demands.

Middle Schooler Equals Smart Cranky and Sensitive

You never understand whether to appreciate a growing up middle school kid or to resent the cranky argumentative. The sharp contrast signs of a smart child versus aggressive debater of a pre-teen child is a normal.

Elementary school leaves behind a world when your child enters the middle school. Now, your child is capable of handling more work and responsibility. Has grown up physically and is able to handle more physical and mental challenges. Middle school provides opportunities for the child to explore more about self and know the strengths and weaknesses. They are now smart enough to make their own decisions and choices. They are able to handle the changes in their bodies and minds. They can acknowledge the changes happening to their friends too. Everything seems perfect. Not yet.

Middle school success also brings a lot of confidence in children. This may cross the boundaries some times and may lead to questions. Such as, why I have to brush my teeth, why I need to take bath, why do I have to do the work, why I have to listen to you and blah blah blah. Voila, welcome to the new child. These questions would have been made sense from the elementary child perspective. But, you may wonder why a middle schooler is asking these questions. Well, now you may have to take some patience stand and repeat the answers carefully as you would to do the elementary child. You may have to remind the basics again and review the guidelines again. Remember, now you can no way shove the questions or hush the child. You may have to reason and explain more to the now grown up midde schooler.

Mostly, there would be no difference between the elementary child and a middle school or a high school child. But, they may show some extremely adult like choices and conversations in the pre-teens. And sometimes go back to the elementary child like arguments. Sometimes, you may be bewildered by their explanations and overwhelmed by their accomplishments. And yet sometimes you will be shocked as why you have to explain the little things. Remember that they are now more smarter and equipped with better knowledge and skills. So, you have to take a firm approach on the rules and consequences. Do not let your love for them influence their ability to get-away with the mistakes. However, it is equally important to appreciate the good behavior and achievements to encourage further.

Watch out for any signs of abuse, depression or bullying. You can give positive suggestions and neutral feedback to help them take better decisions. Pre-teens are emotionally more vulnerable and susceptible to anger. They need your love and support more than ever. Show some concern and care and shower some hugs and kisses. They will be your sweet kids again. 🙂

Putnam Museum – Fun in the Exhibits

Putnam museum is offering unique events and fun opportunities this holiday season. Visit Putnam this Thursday and Friday for a Pyjama party. Further, December 26th thru Dec 30, Putnam is hosting special events for all.

Putnam Museum

Putnam is a venue for different exhibits and shows for Quad city residents. They encourage fun and learning and is a great place for the IMAX movies.

Pyjama Party

Putnam is hosting the pyjama party this Thursday and Friday from 5pm to 10pm. Each ticket costs $10. Audience can watch Polar Express in 3D and get their flashlights ready for a total lights out experience.

Fun in the Exhibits

Putnam is arranging family friendly activities in the exhibit halls from Dec 26th to Dec 30 from 1pm to 3pm. The events are free with the museum admission $7.

  1. December 26th – Travel around the world on Map-it Monday
  2. December 27th – Explore the gadgets on Tech Tuesday
  3. December 28th – Encounter hands on science experiments on Weird Wednesday
  4. December 29th – Solve puzzles and numbers on Think tank Thursday
  5. December 30th – Visit live animals and birds on Friends of Nature Friday
Visit the museum during the special events to make most of the holidays. Get a free pass at the public library and have more fun. 🙂

Gifted Child

Every parent feels that their child is exceptional and gifted. There is no other star in the world than your own child. But, gifted children have a different kinds of capabilities and requirements which must be identified and hence can enhance the child’s learning and performance.

In the highly competitive world, is it just enough if your child gets good grades, or do you think they have to work hard to shine and exceed expectations in the standardized tests and teacher expectations. It is easier said than done. How are the gifted children identified and what are the parameters.

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act defines a gifted child as – ” Students, children, or youth who give evidence of high achievement capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who need services and activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop those capabilities”.

Characteristics

Here are some of the characteristics of gifted children:

  1. Ability to read at an early age and develop independent learning
  2. Asking why and how rather than taking granted
  3. Having large vocabulary and expression of the ideas
  4. High energy levels in academics
  5. Exceptional skill in music, art, sports, or any other activity
  6. Extremely curious about objects and topics
  7. Breaking complex material and systematic analysis
  8. Elaborate thinking and thrive on problem solving
  9. Handle tasks in efficient manner
  10. Understand their own abilities and capabilities
The National Association For Gifted Children (NAGC) defines gifted children as -“Gifted individuals are those who demonstrate outstanding levels of aptitude (defined as an exceptional ability to reason and learn) or competence (documented performance or achievement in top 10% or rarer) in one or more domains.  Domains include any structured area of activity with its own symbol system ( mathematics, music, language) and/or set of sensorimotor skills ( painting, dance, sports).”

Schools use standardized testing to determine the gifted children apart from classroom assessment. Students scoring 90 percentile in the tests or exceeds expectations in the state wide or nation wide tests. NUMATS is also used to determine students with exceptional abilities and achievements.

Strategies

Once the gifted child is identified, the child must be treated with extra care and special attention. They my feel bored easily in class rooms if they are not challenged accordingly. They may also feel left out and are vulnerable. Here are some strategies that can be used with gifted children:

  1. Challenge them to achieve more
  2. Let them know that it is ok to perform above standards
  3. Put them in to special programs which have curriculum prepared to suit them
  4. Promote positive environment and encourage learning
  5. Set up high standards and appropriate coaching so they can achieve the goals

Parents and teachers can work with the gifted children and challenge their minds for a better performance. Appropriate training and counselling is required to make them successful. Underachievement is also a common trend in gifted children due to lack of proper identification and training.

Note that the government does not provide any additional funding for the public schools to nurture the gifted children. Schools formulate funds to take care of the special programs.

Is your child gifted? What steps have you taken to meet your child’s learning demands.

Kids and Money: Why Children Need Money

Parents argue that why do the children need money when they are willing to buy everything for thier children. In contrast, children think having money is cool and they can buy whatever they want. Well, it all depends on the family circumstances on how early one can teach their children about money. Experts suggest the sooner one introduces money to a child, the better the child gets at finances when they grow older.

Teaching Money

The age old piggy bank system does not seem to working in the modern days. All children are looking out for immediate gratification and instant rewards. Why the kids are fascinated about money? It may be the fascination towards the power of money to buy anything or the mess adults make around finances or savings. Parents may wonder why children need to get money when they are struggling very hard to earn it.

Children see a toy as a need while parents might think, it is a waste. 🙂 Teaching money to children is as important to teach any other basic life skills. Initially, counting the coins and identifying and grouping them might be a good idea to start with. Handling small amounts of money to save in the piggy bank or purse helps them understand the importance of saving.

Handling Money

Being money smart can be taught to children by actually handling them some money, say, ten dollars. Allowing them to spend and observing how they take care of the cash will help parents in giving feedback. As it is a small amount, some mistakes may be permitted to facilitate their learning. By learning their spending patterns or saving habits, parents can help the children improve their money skills.

Handling money for children in turn for small chores around the house is a traditional and good idea. Depending on their age children can be appreciated and rewarded for minor chores such as putting the toys away, sorting laundry, throwing waste, unpacking groceries, keeping their room clean and so on. Older children may be allotted additional tasks such as vacuum cleaning, lawn mowing, snow blowing, raking leaves, baby sitting, and so on.

The minimum age at which children can start earning is 14 and it may vary by state. While handling money in return for chores, parents must always emphasize that education is the top priority for children and that earning comes only at a later stage in life.

Spending and Saving

Spending the money appropriately and identifying the change is a good skill for children. Basic math skills can be put to use while children learn money management. Children can be supervised while performing small transactions such as ordering their food, buying their favorite toys, choosing their video games, and so on. Calculating and handling change is also a good skill to be taught to children.

Letting the children save their money (which is hard :)) in a piggy bank or a bank account for future use is a good idea. Keeping track of the money initially through a small note book is suggested so that every body has a track of the money. Accounting and budgeting can also be introduced to children apart from buying and saving.

While financial management is the constant learning for most adults, it is also crucial for children. Children learn by observing parents and might want to exercise their own money management techniques. Sometimes parents may be surprised to hear the ideas from children that they could never think of. 🙂

Disowning a Child

Most believe that all children are equal and are treated equally by parents. But, most parents have a personal favorite to whom they may or may not bestow gifts. In contrast, some parents who are disgusted by their children’s choices may even disown them barring from all their properties and inheritances.

Parents versus Children

Some children make their parents proud through their achievements while some others may bring embarrassment and shame on the family through their failures. Regardless of the child, most parents treat children fairly and try to support even in their old age. All children will be equally fed and provided education with some minor adjustments and based on the financial situation of the family.

Children during the young ages look up on the parents as role models and try to learn from them. As life progresses children get busy with studies, jobs, families, which is inevitable and is expected. During the entire process, how efficiently one is balancing parents and siblings expectations differs. While all may not manage equally, most of us feel related and belonged while speaking to a family member or sibling.

Disowning

Disowning siblings or children is a common phenomenon in families. Due to changes in lives or personal choices many family members may not stand each other and try to avoid each other. Disowning formally involves barring all communication and inheritances which may be further distressful.

Why some chose to disown a child or family member is a individual decision. But, the common psychology may have been in the interest of the child. Many poor families disown their children so that they may find a better family. In modern days, children who marry out of the parents choice or who are drug addicts or have committed serious crimes are all being disowned by parents.

Disowning is an extreme choice and must be done only in severe circumstances. While the disowned may face depression and loss, the dis owner may feel satisfied by being able to do what they wanted to do. Disowning may sometimes provide relief from the emotional burdens. 🙂

Nowadays, some children too are disowning their parents once they become major. Would you disown your children if they acted out of your beliefs and wills?

Arguing in front of Kids

We don’t often realize that the kids have grown up and what not to do when they are around. Arguing parents is one of the conditions which most kids confront in their childhood and may have created unnecessary thoughts. Most parents argue without actually realizing and some argue to prove their power in front of the kids. While negotiating and settling matters softly will prove as a good example to your child rather than calling names, insulting your partner, or hurting.

Arguing Couples

Most couples or in any relationship arguing is natural. Wife and husband do argue quite a few times. Be it a petty issue such as a messy toilet or a major financial issue, couples do tend to argue with each other. Sometimes, the arguments go over the board and result in screaming, yelling, pushing, physical attacks, calling names, swearing, and what  not.

Such powerful arguments do not necessarily result in divorce or a settlement for that matter. Arguments do not really produce results or a common agreement. They just increase the tension in the relationship.

Arguing in front of the kids

OK, we all grew up watching our parents argue. Didn’t we turn up alright? Perhaps, Yes or No. But, how are we making sure how our kids are going to tackle it in a proper manner. Avoiding arguments in front of the kids may not be possible all together. Sometimes, we do not really mean what we say to each other while we argue. But, the kids may take it in a real sense. Their small minds may stay confused who is right or whom to take sides with.

Some kids may undergo severe shock or depression when they confront arguing parents. They may get scared that their parents might hurt each other which they do not want. Often, they may find it amusing and may wait for a chance to use it back on parents. 🙂 Be mindful that how we behave in front of them may lay guidelines for them to behave with others.

Watch out

If you are caught arguing in front of the kids, apologize and say that you really don’t mean it. Sometimes, due to emotions, adults do forget the rules of fighting and set up a bad example. You can promote healthy argument by:

  1. Respecting your partner
  2. Facing your spouse while talking
  3. Making your point clear while listening
  4. Not involving in any other task while talking
  5. Repeating what the spouse said as an example
  6. Talking softly as you would talk in front of your neighbors
  7. Restating your expectations
  8. Agreeing or proposing an action plan for the resolution

Most of the things may seem ideal and unattainable, but there is  no harm in practicing once in a while. 🙂

Is money the only method to maintain relationships?

Yes. It seems in the current recession era, money is the only way which can help maintain relationships. If you have money, I can be friends with you. Or else, you are not my friend. If I give a gift to you, only then, you know I love you. Why money is the only predominant factor in relationships?

Any relationship, be it wife and husband, parent and child, brother and sister, cousins, or  friends, is currently being evaluated with how much one is spending in it. One is able to maintain relationships only if capable of spending enough in a relationship. Most relationships are getting commercialised. The importance a person gives us is being decided based on the money or gifts being exchanged.

Communication and not spending enough time may be some of the reasons for such trends. Most family members or friends may not communicate often. Due to which it is extremely difficult to decide whether a person has changed a lot or remained same with time. So, in order to compensate this gap, exchanging gifts or spending money is essential. With which, you are establishing that things have not changed much and you still value the other person.

In addition, living distantly and not meeting often, is another reason for the trend. The thirst to work and earn more leaves less time for family and freinds. To compensate this gap again, spending money is essential. Working parents do not get enough time to spend time with their children and so they keep on buying gifts for their kids. On the other hand, working people do not get time to spend  with their aged parents. And again resort in spending money to compensate the gap.

Finally, what has begun voluntary money spending has become mandatory in relationships. Now, the current trend is, only if you have money, you can talk to me about anything. Or, else the relationship is not smooth. Watch out people. 🙂

Scared to be a Role Model

Whatever I do, whatever I say, wherever I go, I am aware that two tiny eyes are watching me and observing. Yes, children watch and observe us all the time and often imitate. Sometimes its scarier to be having so much influence and being a role model to children.

Children and Parents

Children observe parents’ every move and action. Most kids imitate their parents which some times is amusing and some times not. They observe:

  • What we say
  • What we do
  • What we eat
  • How we behave
  • Where we go
  • How we exercise
  • What we do in free time
  • How are we managing friends
  • What we do in critical situations

Often, children can catch us telling lie or skipping a chore and immediately point it out. 🙂 And of course, they learn from us.

Most of the times it may not be convenient for adults to explain their actions and behavior. But, we have to explain why we are doing or not doing a task if they ask. Then, they may take a decision or draw a conclusion what is alright or not.

Role Model

Being a role model is not always easy. We may not be perfect all the times and cannot always preach to do the right when we ourselves are not doing. I think it is a continuous struggle to be honest with children and set up good examples for them to adhere.

Children immediately look up to their parents in any situations during their initial development stages. So, we need to be a little careful and choosy in using the words and doing the actions. After all, we do not want children to learn what is not good for them eventually. 🙂


Back to School!

While back to school season means a lot of fun for children, it is a lot of work and stress for most parents. Taking care of the registrations, school supplies, back pack night, day care, transportation among others is easier for some but stressful for other parents.

Registration

American public schools require a child to register every year to enable them to plan the classes. Further, submitting address proof is mandatory so you fall in the same school district. Most schools have posted the registration information on their websites but some have sent the registration packets to all children as well. Some schools have online registration for middle school and high school children.

Physical presence of the parent at the time of registration is necessary in order to fill out the forms, pay the fees, and submit the proofs.

  • The forms include registration form, Language forms, Food forms, Transportation forms, Parent-Teacher-Association forms among others
  • The school fee may be from $40 to $60 for public schools and for private school may be $35.
  • The address proofs may be your most recent rental agreement, gas bill, cable bill, electricity bill, telephone bill , and so on.

Some schools require school physical form filled out from the child’s doctor which can be submitted later.

If you cannot register your child on the specified dates, you may register st a later date but the seat at the desired school may not be guaranteed. Then, it would depend up on the class strength. You may have to send your school to another school in the same school district.

School Supplies

School supplies list have been posted on the school websites and can be collected at the time of registration. Many departmental stores such as Walmart have school supplies list of  all local schools in the store itself. Some schools have the facility of arranging the supplies if you pay the amount to the school directly.

Most of the supplies for all schools are similar but may vary slightly depending on the school. Some of the supplies may be reused from the previous year’s stock. School uniforms and shoes may change and require further shopping.

Back Pack Night

Most schools have a preset date on which children and parents can visit the school before the school reopens. You may need to submit the school supplies and check out your child’s class room and teacher. It will be exciting for some children to meet their friends and class mates but some may feel nervous facing the new teacher.

First Day School

You do not want to miss the first day of school as it will be a lot of fun for the children. There will be introductions and children will get familiar with the class rules and regulations. For the first week, there may not be any serious classes but most adjustments and ice breaking sessions may be in progress.

Some parents may not like sending their children to school, but note that, the American government mandates that every child must receive education, be it public, private or, home schooling. 🙂