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Back to School Battles Begin-Now What??

www.freedigitalphotos.comFor most kids the first few weeks of school are fueled by an exciting energy. It is when the schoolwork begins to build slowly to a stable crescendo however that some tweens experience feelings of anxiety, annoyance, and yes, even anger. Summer suddenly feels like a lifetime ago. Although as a parent you may have tried to prepare for the moment when the attitude toward school switches, once you are in the thick of the battle, it is hard to remember how best to proceed. You may long for the days when your son’s biggest dilemma was whether to go to the pool or the beach with his friends.

Back to school battles are not of course always related to schoolwork. As a parent it can be painful to wake your child up at the crack of dawn to get ready for school. This is especially true if instead of greeting you with a sunshiny smile, she flashes you a smirk that clearly says, “leave me alone, I’m still sleeping.” The social pressures associated with middle school can also contribute to cranky attitudes.

The tween years are often synonymous with feeling awkward and out of place. Tweens tend to be super sensitive and sometimes overly considered with how others perceive them as well as their family members. This why tweens are so easily embarrassed by what their parents say and do.

How do you quell the angst in the air? How do you pre-empt daily battles and instead encourage problem solving?

Here are a few hints:

1.)  Respond with calm. Although your tween may present as overwhelmed and irritability, your own reaction can really change the tone of a situation. With the emotion out of the way, you and your tween will have a better chance of talking through a situation successfully.

2.)  Affirm your understanding. Few things are more validating than a parent who acknowledges a tween’s angst, or anxiety. Even if you don’t agree with your tween’s perspective saying you can see how she is feelings is sometimes enough to thwart a battle before it begins.

3.)  May it a ‘can do’ conversation. Push your tween to problem solve dissatisfying situations by focusing on the things that can be changed. This will make his problem solving efforts far more satisfying and productive.

4.)  Set up satisfying solutions. Take the time to talk through situations to find agreeable answers. If for example, your tween gets upset and/or irritable when you wake her up in the morning suggest that she set up a loud alarm clock across the room. While she may still get annoyed that she has to get up, you will no longer be the target of her attitude.

Back to school battles can be difficult to de-escalate. When you are armed with a commitment to communication you can talk through potential conflict and generate satisfying solutions. 


Virtual Budgeting Challenge Teaches Teens How to Manage Money

Imagine an opportunity to teach teens how to manage their money without facing the risk of losing a single cent. The H&R Block Budget Challenge is currently offering high school students such a situation.

Fifty eight percent of teens surveyed nationally reported they are concerned that they will not be as financially successful as their parents. One third of parents surveyed reported that they are more comfortable talking to their teens about, cigarettes, substance use and bullying than they are about money. Only five states currently require at least one course in personal finance offered to high school students prior to graduation.

H&R Block Dollars & Sense, an educational program aimed at helping teens learn about financial management, has created an interesting initiative to teach teens to manage money. The H&R Block Budget Challenge is a free, online, learn-by-doing simulation created for high school students. Teachers register students to participate in the challenge.

Once enrolled, students begin to virtually ‘live’ the financial life of a recent graduate who has been working for six months. To make the experience realistic, students receive a salary and an opportunity to maximize their earnings through a 401K. Along with the monetary benefits however, come bills. Students must learn to effectively manage their money to pay common expenses such as rent, utilities, and car payments. Additionally, students are challenged by ‘real life’ budget and spending issues such as unexpected costs for car accidents and lost cell phones.


But perhaps the most exciting benefit of the Budget Challenge, is that H&R Block will award $3 million in classroom grants and scholarships to the top performing participants.


Parents can secure a spot for their teens by encouraging teachers to sign up their class.  But hurry, registration for the 2014/2015 school year program ends this Friday, February 6!




Dr. JPL offers Holiday Tips for Parents worried about Teens & Alcohol


On Mourning the Loss of Childhood

It would appear that coining the term ‘tween’ has come at a cost. It would seem that our children ages 8-12 are no longer considered kids, at least in some circles. Parents raising tweens know all too well the daily challenges they face, the embroiled battles in which they often engage as their pre-pubescent children push and pull them in every direction. At times tweens may seem to live by the credo “Rules are made to be broken.” And yet, at other moments it is clear that they take comfort in being told exactly what to do when and how.

Tweenhood is fraught with negotiating new situations. Parenthood (at least for parents of tweens) becomes about helping these little beings affirm some independence and autonomy while ensuring that they don’t grow-up too quickly.

What happened to childhood? Back when we were kids there was no such thing as tweenhood; then again there was also no such thing as cell phones, social media, and the Internet. While the World Wide Web has expanded the universe, it may have also contributed in some small way to taking away a piece of childhood.

As parents we can do our part to sustain even elongate out tween’s childhood through our words, actions and interactions with our children. It is difficult however, to prevent their exposure to a more mature universe however, unless the parents of their peers make the same commitment. Even then, nothing short of raising them in a plastic bubble or ivory tower can truly prevent tweens from exposure to the world at large.

The world has become a much smaller place for our children. As parents perhaps we are simply charged with redefining our role and reactions to our children. Instead of mourning the loss of childhood, we are better served embracing the evolution of access by encouraging our tweens to take on the outside world with our continued counsel. Parental involvement and commitment is the key to contentment for our children.


Dr. JPL Discusses "The Mean Girl Study"