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Posts Tagged ‘family communication’

a girl crying

I have been dealing with “girl bullying” with my daughters. I even went to the school, but the teacher dismissed it and stated, “Oh, she wouldn’t do that! I can’t see her saying that.” At that moment I was angry that the teacher completely dismissed my daughter’s feelings and did not believe her. I instantly felt as if it was a waste of time having a discussion with her. I reminded her bullying is not just physical, it can be a look, a whisper, one person telling a group not to talk to an individual, or rumors and exclusion.

Bullying is not always physical, it can be emotional. Girls are more known for “relational bullying” which includes exclusion, forming cliques, gossiping, spreading rumors, nasty comments, cyberbullying, out casting, sharing secrets, and backstabbing. This usually involves recruiting others to do the same. Relational bullying can often have side effects. Some effects include depression, anxiety, withdrawal from friends and family, missing school, change in behavior, suicidal ideation, PTSD, confusion, and anger. 

We are halfway through the summer, and I thought I had given my daughters the tools they needed to ease the situation. I was thinking, “Haven’t we all been bullied? Haven’t we all felt not good enough, not part of the team?” I was completely wrong! Parents, times have changed! When we were bullied and left for summer break, we may have not seen our bullies until school started again in the fall. Social media has changed that for our children. The bullying does not stop during the summer, it continues through Snap Chat, Instagram, TIK TOK, and group texts. The goal is the same: excluding and out casting the victim. I have now made it a priority to monitor screen-time and the apps my children are using.  I have began monitoring their phones and have discussed the dangers of social media with my children. 

How can we help our daughters build resilience when they are going through this difficult time?

  • Don’t overreact– It is hard for parents not to worry, but if our daughters see us worrying and reacting, they may feel as if it is their fault and that they are not living up to our expectations. We need to be strong and listen to how they are doing and feeling.
  • Communicate and Listen– Be a good listener. Do not make assumptions or interrupt. After they finish talking, ask questions to let them know you were listening. Help them come up with solutions and include them in brainstorming solutions. Ask them questions like “What do you think you can say next time?” or “What do you think might work?”  and “What will make you feel better?” 
  • Validate Anger- Your child has the right to feel angry. Make sure they know they are valuable, and find ways for them to cope and build resilience. Let them know they can expect better from a friendship. 
  • Seek alternatives– If the bullying is occurring at school, let your child develop friendships outside of school. Use community resources to find activities they are interested in.
  • Talk to the School– Even if your child is developing new relationships outside of school you still to need to inform the school. Let your child know if you contact the school. If your child fears that contacting the school will cause more ridicule, you may want to come up with a discreet plan. Most teachers are willing to talk, and teachers can call out behavior or help deter bullying behavior. Be mindful that teachers may be in a difficult position if the bully is a star athlete or a child of a prominent community member. Even if schools have anti-bullying policies some policies may privilege some students over others. If this is the case you may need to contact the superintendent, principal, or school board.
  • Allow them to figure it out– Discuss what a “good friend” is with your child. Role play how to deal with conflict.  Discuss reasons why someone who is bullying is suffering. Remind them they need to treat people with respect, but they don’t need to be friends with everyone!

Sources:

Schatt, D., (2018) Relational Bullying:  What Is It and What Can You do About It, JEM Foundation. https://thejemfoundation.com/relational-bullying-what-is-it-and-what-can-you-do-about-it/

Marrison, E. (2020) Teens and Screens:  What Parents Should Know.  Live Healthy Live Well blog, Ohio State University Extension. https://livehealthyosu.com/2020/06/25/teens-and-screens-what-parents-should-know/

Canty, J., Stubbe, M., Steers, D., Collings, S (2014) The Trouble with Bullying- Deconstructing the Conventional Definition of Bullying for a Child-Centered Investigation into Children’s Use of social media.  National Children’s Bureau. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/chso.12103

Written by:  Kellie Lemly MEd, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Champaign County, Lemly.2@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Jenny Lobb, Family and Consumer Sciences Education, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County

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I remember the nurse placing a screaming dark-haired baby in my arms like it was yesterday. 18 years later, this baby is graduating from high school and telling me she wants to change her address to one different from mine.  While I appreciate her goals and ambitions, watching her go is tough.  Preparing now with a few simple things I am hoping will make this big transition smoother for both of us as she heads to college on her own.

Prepare and You Will Not Fear

I remember being taught this principle in relation to natural disasters when I was young, this same mantra is bringing me some comfort as a mother as I prepare to send a child into the world.  There is a long list of independent living skills youth and young adults need to be successful on their own; more skills than can be taught in the summer between their senior year and heading out on their own.  Starting young with developing and teaching life skills can bring peace and confidence with parents and youth as they move on.  Giving young children and teens responsibilities at home, allowing them to make mistakes and learn from them will prepare them for obstacles and responsibilities they will face when they leave home.  These needed life skills include not only skills such as cooking and laundry but budgeting, relationship skills, emotional and behavioral control, manners, self-care, time management and more.

Am I invited too?

My daughter, who is leaving, sat at the table listening one night as my sister and I discussed future Thanksgiving plans.  When we were finished she asked, “Am I invited too?”  It never occurred to me that she might be having some questions about where she would fit in when she left home.  We talked about what our communication would look like, how often, ways we would stay in contact and what family events she might want to be included in.  I let her know she would be welcome in our home anytime, without an appointment or reason. 

Plans do not always work out.  Let your young adult know that they are welcome in your home and what your requirements might be after they move away and return to visit. Help your child know that while you are excited about their new adventure you are always there if they just need to chat. Communication can be vital during this transition, for both of you.   Do not assume they know they can phone you if they feel sad or need to talk. 

Have a Plan

Have a plan for if things go wrong too.  A clear plan for contingencies can help parents make a decision when emotions are running high or a quick decision is necessary. Have you discussed what will happen if your college student makes poor grades? What if they are homesick and want to return home? What if they want or need to change schools or apartments? What if they are unable to cover expenses and call to ask for money?  Having these discussions before hand can clear up confusion for you and your child. 

Take Care of You

Feelings of loneliness, loss, and grief may all be common when a child leaves home. Have a plan to deal with those feelings.  As I have discussed this transition with friends their advice and reactions have ranged anywhere from excitement to being seriously distraught over their son or daughter moving out.  There is no right or wrong way to feel.  Try to let your feelings run their course. If you feel like crying, cry. It is important to acknowledge how you feel and not allow others to dictate your emotions.  You will not react the same way your friend did to their child moving out and that is ok. 

Every family is different and will have different plans and responses to a big change such as a child leaving home.  Try to remember what a fun new adventure this can be for your son or daughter.  Your enthusiasm can go a long way to helping them move on.  Celebrate their successes and yours, and remember just like with anything else new in life- it takes time!

Good luck! I am in this one with you. . . 

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-in-between/201406/5-steps-help-your-teen-leave-the-nest https://www.healthguidance.org/entry/18004/1/how-to-cope-when-your-children-leave-home.html

Author: Alisha Barton, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Miami County, barton.345@osu.edu

Reviewer: Amanda Bohlen, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County, bohlen.19@osu.edu

 

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In my family of four, it is often my thirteen-year-old daughter who requests a family game night. This is the same thirteen-year-old who truly does not want (or need) a cell phone because she doesn’t want to become addicted to a phone. I think she’s on to something here… She craves the interaction and time with family, and time away from electronics, work and other distractions. And while some family game nights end up with someone frustrated over losing…most of the time we have fun and enjoy taking time to play together. There are a lot of benefits for families who play good ole-fashioned board games and card games.

board game

Games build character

While playing games, family members must learn how to take turns and be a good sport. Parents can model good character and sportsmanship by encouraging one another and showing how to win and lose graciously. This can be difficult for children (and some adults) to learn handle the disappointment of losing, but all the more reason to persevere with family game night.

Games develop motor skills

Rolling dice, shuffling cards, manipulating small pieces… all these tasks help young children build fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

Games train your brain

Some games help kids learn math, counting, strategy, problem-solving and how to count money. Games can also help teach spelling, vocabulary and general knowledge. Playing games also requires learning and following rules. Research from Carnegie Mellon University indicates that playing a simple, board game can lead to better academic results later in school.

Games teach flexibility

Sometimes it’s difficult to get the family to agree on which game to play and when to stop. The more members in the family, the more flexibility is required. Also keep in mind to be flexible about having a regular game night… sometimes the family may be too busy or just too tired.

Games help us turn off electronics.

It’s hard to play a game (well) and have electronics on, even in the background. Try some screen-free time and put on some background music instead during game night.

Games bring families together for fun

Numerous studies show positive outcomes for kids who spend quality time interacting with their parents. When families have fun together, lasting memories are created. Be intentional about spending time together and make family game night a regular part of the schedule.

If your family schedule won’t allow for a weekly family game night, try once a month. It’s well worth the investment of time and energy.

Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County.

Reviewed by: Alisha Barton, Program Coordinator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Miami and Champaign Counties

Sources:

Ankowski, A. & Ankowski, A. “Bringing Back Family Game Night.”  Public Broadcasting System. Retrieved from: http://www.pbs.org/parents/expert-tips-advice/2015/07/bringing-back-family-game-night/

Laski, E. V., & Siegler, R. S. (2014). Learning from number board games: You learn what you encode. Developmental Psychology, 50(3), 853-864. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0034321

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To some it may seem old fashioned, or a thing of the past, but family meals are a proven way to help strengthen families. Years of research has found that the more children eat dinner with their families, the less likely they were to smoke, drink or use drugs. Why? Eating dinner together has a positive effect on social development, family communication, nutritional intake and the development of the family structure.  The conversations that go hand-in-hand with dinner help parents learn more about their children’s lives and help them better understand the challenges their kids face each day.

The Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University in a research survey of teens and parents found that,  compared to teens who have five to seven family dinners a week, those who dine with their families fewer than three nights are:

  1. Three and a half times likelier to have abused prescriptions drugs
  2. Three times likelier to have tried marijuana
  3. More than two and a half times likelier to have tried cigarettes
  4. One and a half times likelier to have tried alcohol

CASA research shows teens are at a greater risk of substance abuse as they move from middle school to high school. It is especially important for parents to stay involved during this time.  Dinner is one way to make this happen.  It is never too early or too late to start the tradition of regular family dinners with your children.

Besides getting to know your children/teens better, there are other advantages to having frequent family dinners. When children and teens eat at a family table they:

  • Have healthier eating habits
  • Have lower levels of tension and stress at homefamily meal
  • Are more likely to say their parents are proud of them
  • Are likelier to say they confide in their parents
  • Are likelier to make better grades in school
  • Are more emotionally content and have positive relationships
  • Are at lower risk for thought of suicide

As a parent of five children, I know all too well, the battles of balancing work and family to get the meal on the table with the majority of the children each night, but with some planning, you can outwit common family mealtime obstacles and use dinner as a forum to strengthen family ties.   Here are some suggestions to get you started:

  • Set the mood.  Try eating at a clutter-free table without the television in the background, and no handheld devices.
  • Divide and conquer.  Let everyone help.  Many busy hands make the job easier.
  • Plan ahead.  Be sure all family members know what you expect, when to have their hands washed and their appetites ready.  Dinner does not have to be at the same time every night but let family know in advance.  Posting the menu on the refrigerator is a good idea.  Let the children choose what foods they would like to eat.
  • Cook up the conversation.  Save unpleasant topics for another time.  Be a good listener.  Practice reflective listening and use “I” messages.
  • “May I be excused?”  Clearly define the end of the meal.  Relax, and enjoy the meal together.

Remember that families do not change overnight.  Make small changes each day or week.  Time flies by so quickly in this fast-moving world, but remember that what your kids really want at the dinner table is YOU!

Sources:

Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (2001), May 9, 2001. http://www.casacolumbia.org/index/htm.

Compan, E., Moreno, J., Ruiz, M.T., & Pascual, E. (2002). Doing things together: Adolescent health and family rituals. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health,  56: 89-94.

Ohio State University Extension, Ohioline, Factsheet FLM-FS-4-03. http:/ohioline.osu.edu.

Written by: Kathy Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Butler County

Reviewed by: Kristen Corry, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Noble & Monroe Counties

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