Bonnie Harris, author of the new book “Confident Parents, Remarkable Kids: 8 Principles for Raising Kids You’ll Love to Live With (Adams Media, September 2008),” has plenty of tips for parents seeking solutions for morning time struggles between children and parents.
Several are listed in today’s Life section of The Oklahoman. Here are more of Harris’ tips to transform stressful mornings:
1. Decide what the best morning routine is for everyone. Make a chart. If you have a white board, write each agenda item with a box next to it for your child to check off when done.
2. Pick out clothes the night before.
3. Make lunches the night before.
4. Go over the next day’s schedule the night before.
5. Remind children to get backpacks ready before the bedtime routine starts — don’t expect this to be done without reminders unless you have an especially organized child.
6. Establish a rule that anything you have to do concerning homework is done the night before or it doesn’t get done.
7. Get up earlier and get your personal routine done before waking the children.
8. Ease your child awake with a smile and a back rub — unless she uses an alarm clock.
9. If you’re creative, prepare a “fancy” breakfast menu to present to your children when they get up. This can be a once in awhile option.
10. If things are not going smoothly, even silently acknowledge everyone’s agendas.
11. If your child is cranky, validate how hard some mornings are to get going and that you often have the same problem. Each day is different.
12. If there is a particular problem your child is dealing with, acknowledge the problem, and offer help and support without trying to fix it.
Bonnie Harris founded The Parent Guidance Center (now The Family Center) in Peterborough, N.H. in 1990, which is dedicated to parent education and support. She is the director of Connective Parenting and has designed and taught parenting workshops and counseled parents for 20 years. Sign up for her e-newsletter by going online to www.connectiveparenting.com.
If it’s a TV show that has parents and teens talking on the subject, so be it.
“Hopefully the talk will lead to some positive discussions for some young people because we have been ignoring them for too long,” Rodine said.
Some critics have jabbed at the new ABC Family show “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” saying that it focuses on sex too much and that it plays a lot like a soap opera parody, but others, like Rodine and leaders with the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, say it has folks talking and that’s worth a lot.
Rodine said it’s often hard to get people in Oklahoma to see how much teen pregnancy has become a concern.
“Between 2005 and 2006, and that’s the latest data we have, the births to teens in
“It’s an alarm bell going off because, in so many ways, we’ve become complacent.”
Rodine said it’s sometimes hard for people to relate to numbers so she found another way to describe the problem.
“How do we help the public understand what this means? To help put this in perspective I tell people that the number of teens giving birth in
“We need to say ‘diplomas before diapers’.”
With that said, here are some national statistics from the National Campaign to ponder:
– The teen pregnancy and birth rate has declined dramatically since the early 1990s (down 38 percent and 32 percent respectively), driven by decreased sexual activity and increases in contraceptive use. Even so, recent data shows that the declines in teen sex and improvements in contraceptive use have leveled off. And the teen birth rate is on the rise for the first time in 15 years.
It’s not too late to visit Grandma, Mee Maw or Granny to tell her you’re thinking about her.
It’s not too late to make a phone call and send Papa or Gramps a hug over the phone lines.
I know people sometimes argue that special designated days like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Grandparents Day are irrelevant when we should all be appreciative and loving of Mom or Dad or Grandma everyday.
But these family roles are so important that I believe we can’t laud them enough, appreciate and celebrate them enough.
So take the time to honor your grandparents. Many have invested much in their families and are now looking to see some of that time, energy and love come to fruition in the next generation.
Teach your children the value of respecting and appreciating the older adults who were paving the way for them long before they were even thought of.
The payoff is huge.
One day, if you are lucky, you’ll be a grandparent too.
P.S. Maybe you’re already a grandparent. If so, happy Grandparents Day!
According to a story by The Associated Press, the head of a prominent cancer research institute is cautioning people to limit cell phone use because of the possible cancer risk, especially to children whose brains are still developing.
I’m sure my family would go through cell phone withdrawal if we had to do without the cell phones simply because it is a way for us to stay connected when we are physically apart.
But cancer is, well, cancer.
I think I can go back to using the land line for most of my calls. I could also do some more letter writing or I could catch up on my e-mail correspondence now that I think about it.
The same goes for my kids. I know they can survive without a cell phone if their very survival was at stake.
I’m sure I won’t be the only parent on the look out for more information on this topic.
The vacation spot that looked so good in those glossy brochures is a distant memory.
By mid-April, as I watched the fuel prices climb, the “Big summer vacation” quickly became “What vacation? Did I say we were going on vacation?”
The good news is we don’t have to spend a lot of money to have some fun. It’s a fact that most good moms and dads must pass on to their children.
Sissy Osteen, Oklahoma State University associate professor and resource management specialist with the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, knows where I’m coming from.
She offers the following suggestions for spending time together without overspending:
1. Do your homework. Be smart. Many hotels and resorts are offering rebates on gasoline and airfare. Go online and look for deals. While on the road, a motel pool is cheap entertainment for children and a free continental breakfast for a family of five is $50 that can go into the gas tank.
Above all, if you haven’t budgeted for a trip, don’t succumb to the temptation of using credit cards to pay for it.
2. Stay close to home. Route 66 still offers kicks. The car is still the cheapest formof family transportation and Oklahoma has more miles of the historic roadway to explore than any other state. Visit destinations the family can reach and return home in a single day, and pack a picnic lunch to save on food expenses. Also communities throughout the state offer a wealth of free summer festivals and celebrations.
3. Let’s get together. Growing average life expectancy means retirement is getting longer for Americans. Hobbies are essential to happiness during retirement. This summer pursue an activity the entire family can share for many years. Begin learning to play tennis, golf or another sport. Learn to play a musical instrument. Take a class together. Buy cameras from a second-hand store and take up photography.
4. Not just for kids. The summer reading program at the public library is an experience the entire family can enjoy. So are volunteer programs. Teach children the rewards of philanthropy by involving the family in a community service activity this summer.
— Carla Hinton
The national spotlight is shining on Gloucester, Mass., but that’s not necessarily a good thing these days.
The most recent edition of TIME magazine includes a story about a so-called “baby pact” made between a group of girls at Gloucester High School.
The author of the story appeared on NBC’s TODAY Show this morning to discuss her interviews with school officials. She said they told her that several pregnant teen girls, out of a total 17 at the school, had confessed to making a pact that they would each get pregnant at about the same time and raise their babies together.
One girl apparently was impregnated by a 24-year-old homeless man, the TIME reporter said.
None of them, according to reports, is older than 16.
The blogosphere is abuzz with this latest bit of news, particularly since actress Jamie Lynn Spears, 17, reportedly had her baby on the same day that the world got wind of the so-called high school baby pact.
One interesting blog is Pregnant Pause, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy’s Web log.
What are your thoughts about the Gloucester baby pact?
– Carla Hinton
I should write a survivor’s guide for all the parents out there who are already pulling out their hair now that school has ended.
I have survived many things and have determined that I shall prevail this summer as well.
The last day of school was the calm before the storm. As my teens expressed relief that the school year was over, I prepared for the onslaught of what I call ’I'm bored-itis’.
I didn’t expect it to start just one day after school ended … but I was armed and ready for battle.
As I sat working at my desk, it started with a few phone calls from my daughter.
“I’m bored,” she said on the first call.
“Now, I’m really bored,” she said on the second call, following these words with a huge sigh.
“This is horrible! I’m sooo bored!,” she said on the third call.
Three strikes and you are out.
Never mind that much time and attention has been spent on coordinating a summer full of activities. Never mind that beginning next week she has more than enough commitments that will last well into August. Never mind that she’ll be begging me for a few hours to simply do nothing come July.
No, ‘I’m bored-itis’ had truly set in.
At the ready, I pulled out my secret weapon. Three words that are guaranteed to get rid of that summer plague everytime:
“Clean your room!,” I told her.
“Hello?,” I said, wondering if she had dropped the phone.
“Guess I’ll let you go,” she mumbled.
“Sure! … And uh don’t forget to clean your room.”
Works every time.
The following quiz (give or take a few questions) was given to dads who attended a “Championship Fathering” conference Saturday morning at Oklahoma City’s St. John Missionary Baptist Church.
I thought the quiz was interesting enough to pass on:
1. Name two of your congressional leaders.
2. What is the weather forecast?
3. Who won last year’s Super Bowl?
4. What is the price of gas?
5. Name a national TV news anchor.
Now that you’ve answered those questions, try the following:
1. What is your child’s favorite food?
2. What is your child’s all-time favorite possession?
3. What is your child’s greatest fear?
4. Who is your child’s closest friend?
5. What is your child’s favorite TV show?
OK. Tally up your score and see how you did on the first set of questions as compared to the second set.
Be honest, dads.
If you know more of the first set than the latter set, you probably need to spend more time with your children.
So said Brett Fuller, a Virginia pastor who spoke at the fatherhood conference.
Pretty insightful quiz, huh? These are really simple questions but the answers can make all the difference to your children — in more ways than one.
Look for more on the “Championship Fathering” conference in this week’s Oklahoman
In May 2000 my daughter was 5 years old and often described the whirling cyclones known to swoop down the Oklahoma plains as “tormatos.”
She would ask: “Mommy, are we gonna get hit by a tormato?”
It’s 2008 and she’s 13. Lots of things have changed, but her concern about tornadoes isn’t one of them.
She is one of many youths who may find themselves alone at home when the storm sirens go off. Children whose parents work outside the home often deal with this situation during tornado season. Wednesday’s storm was a classic example of this situation.
My daughter knows what to do during a storm, but it’s still frightening for her. Wednesday, I was actually caught out in the storm away from the office and made it home just as a tornado (classified as a “gale, “ it damaged property) briefly touched down not too far from my house.
The situation reminded me of a column I wrote in 2000 which featured some storm safety tips by Lisa Hamlin, a 4-H Youth at Risk educator and family and consumer sciences specialist with the Oklahoma County Cooperative Extension Center, a part of the Division of Agriculture and Natural Sciences at Oklahoma State University.
In 2003 she updated those tips to specifically address youths home alone during storms.
Well, things are somewhat different for Hamblin since we last talked years ago. She told me she now has a 6-year-old daughter named Caroline.
She’s still an advocate for young people, maybe even more so.
Tornados are scary to think about but parents must talk about them with their children, especially youths who are home alone after school and during the summer break, she said.
Tornadoes and severe storms always will be part of life in Oklahoma. Parents who prepare children for what to expect and how to stay safe will have children who exhibit fewer symptoms of anxiety, fear and stress, Hamblin said.
Here are some of Hamblin’s storm safety tips for parents:
1. Make sure your child knows the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning? Can they find their county on a state map? Children who are watching TV weather reports won’t understand them without this information.
2. Parents must be honest and not give false reassurances. Explain that tornadoes are unpredictable, but having and practicing a family emergency plan will help them stay safe.3. Older children can help put together an emergency kit that includes flashlights, extra batteries, a battery-powered radio, a first-aid kit and other necessities.
4. Discuss with your children what they should do if a tornado is heading toward your community. Is there a community shelter or close neighbors or relations? Is there a designated place in your home?
5. Children will be worried about their pets during a storm. Add a leash to the emergency kit or have a pet carrier nearby.
6. Parents of teenagers need to prepare them for what to do if they are caught by a storm in a car, at a mall or in other places teens tend to congregate. Adolescents may downplay their concerns, but it is still important to talk about their safety.
7. Parents of young children who attend a child-care center or an after-care program when school has ended need to be aware of their emergency procedures.
QUESTION: How do you help your children cope with Oklahoma’s severe weather?
I know I’m not the only one out there over 40 who started out text-challenged.
I steadfastly refused to text message my kids for months after they received their cell phones.
“Call me if you want to talk to me and I’ll do the same for you,” I told them in a no-nonsense manner.
That worked for all of two weeks.
One day I needed to talk to my 15-year-old son so I picked up the phone and called his cell. No answer. I tried three more times at different intervals over the next hour.
With a huge sigh, I typed out my message. Actually, I wouldn’t call what I did typing. It was more like pitiful pecking.
How did they manage to have whole conversations with people by doing this? This is insane, I thought.
Finally, after many, many stops and starts, I was able to press the “send” button and get that message out.
Surprise! Within a minute, my son answered back.
“Mom, you’re texting now?”
“YES, BECAUSE YOU DID NOT ANSWER MY TELEPHONE CALL!!!!”
I yelled this out at my desk, causing folks sitting around me to stare for a minute. Feeling, much calmer, I pecked out a response: “Just answer my question and we’ll talk about the rest of this later.”
Well later that night, I found myself the center of attention at my house.
By the time I got there, my son had told my 13-year-old daughter all about my inaugural text message.
I thought she was a little too excited.
She was making plans to have these intense conversations via text.
That is so not happening, I told her. I’ll do it when it’s the only way I can get in touch with you. Period.
Since then, I’ve text messaged more than ever. Of course the kids have had some laughs at my expense.
For intstance, they received several run-on messages at first and had to show me how to put spaces between words. Then they think it’s hilarious that I don’t use their text jargon. They find it amusing that I actually text complete sentences.
Look, to do otherwise would be flat-out weird to me.
I told them that if they get a text from “mom” that is short and includes all their usual jargon, they’ll know it’s not me, but an imposter.
It will be someone else having a hard time getting ahold of them …