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Archive for the ‘Teens’ Category

20 of the Greatest Blogs with Fun and Fabulous Ideas for the Perfect Graduation Gift

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

Do you know someone graduating this spring?  You are probably wondering what to buy for the graduate.  Try to keep in mind what the next step is for the graduate.  Is he going on to college in the fall or out to get a job?  If he’s moving out of the house he may need items for his new place.  If he’s going job hunting he may need a suit and other dress clothes for interviews.  You may just want to get something sentimental like a personalized watch or necklace that he will always have to remember his special day.  These 20 blogs will help you determine what the right gift might be, whether you’re buying for a guy or a girl.  You may end up just giving him money and if so you may want to check out the blog posts about unique ways to give cash.

Guys

For some reason guys can be hard to buy for.  Men like gadgets so maybe you could get him a new cell phone, a laptop for college or a tablet.  Personalized items like a stadium blanket for those games that he will inevitably go to see or cuff links so that he can look very stylish at his interviews.  These five blog entries will help you choose something for your male graduate.

Girls

Sometimes girls are easier to buy for, but only because girls like technology, fashion, travel, and cars just like the guys so there’s a wider range of things to buy.  Take a look at some of these ideas for your female graduate and see if you get any ideas.

Unisex

Many items are unisex such as luggage, alarm clocks, docking stations for music as well as many other things.  These kinds of items might be good for the graduate that you aren’t too sure what they’re interests are, the last thing you want to do is to buy a gift that won’t get used.  Check out the ideas on these five blog articles and see if you can find any clues as to what you should buy.

Monetary

If all else fails you can give the graduate cash, but no one want to just hand over the cash because it will be combined in a pile with other cash and pretty much forgotten.  If you want to make something unique glance through the ideas on these five blog posts because they show a bunch of different ways to give cash as a gift that will make it far more memorable.

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What to Do When Your Teen Gets Her First Broken Heart

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

There’s no love quite like the first love; unfortunately, the first love also tends to be among the most painful when things inevitably end. While your teen may be walking through the house with a permanent smile on her face and visions of forever in her mind, you know that it’s likely just a matter of time before the bloom falls from the rose and real life sets in. Helping your teen navigate the painful and complicated world of surviving her first heartbreak isn’t easy, but it’s something that every parent will inevitably have to help with along the way. Handling the situation badly can be actively damaging to your own relationship with your teenager, so be sure that you have a basic idea of how to proceed in order to help her recover without sacrificing the harmony in your home.

Be Supportive, Not Smothering

Your teen needs to know that you’re there for her when she needs you, but she’ll also need to deal with the trauma and pain of her first real break-up in her own way. That may mean hours on the phone with her friends dissecting what went wrong and exploring the natural journey of grief, or it could mean throwing herself into extracurricular activities in a bid to fill up all of her free time. Provided that she doesn’t resort to risky or dangerous behavior as a means of soothing the pains of her broken heart, it’s wise to let her set the pace. Make sure that you’re available when she asks for help, but that you don’t smother her or foist unsolicited advice on her every time she comes into the room.

Avoid Using Language That Minimizes Her Experience

As a parent who’s watching a child suffer, your first instinct may be to downplay the importance of the event in hopes that she’ll realize how inconsequential a high-school break up is. Before minimizing her pain and implying that her feelings of grief are exaggerated or melodramatic, think back to your first experience with heartbreak. While you certainly know now that it wasn’t the end of the world, that doesn’t mean it didn’t feel that way at the time. It’s entirely possible to offer reassurance and support without minimizing the experience, and almost always the most effective method.

Don’t Bash The Ex

When someone hurts your child, no matter how old she is, it’s human nature to think less of them. If you weren’t wild about your teen’s partner before the break-up, it’s even easier to resort to bashing and dismissive language. Keep in mind, however, that high school romances have a way of resurfacing. Even if your teenager swears that she’s calling off a relationship for good, there’s a decent chance that reconciliation will bring that ex back into the fold at some point. If you’ve vocally expressed your distaste for her partner or confessed to never caring much for them in the first place, that reunion might be a tense one for everyone involved. Focus on building your child back up and helping her to recover, rather than tearing down the party that you feel is responsible for her pain.

Be Prepared for a Relapse

Teenagers tend to possess fairly mercurial dispositions, so your teen may seem to be over the worst of her mourning and on the road to recovery when a massive relapse forces her back to square one. The best way to deal with such an abrupt loss of progress is to be prepared for it from the beginning. Hope for the best, but realize that the first sighting of an ex with a new flame can be enough to restart a teenage girl’s grieving process altogether.

Offer Distractions, Not a Lecture

You can give your teen an “I told you so” lecture, reminding her of your warnings about getting too close to a teenage partner or shaming her for choices that she made over the course of her relationship, but it will do absolutely no good. In fact, it’s more likely to push her away and make her uncomfortable with the idea of approaching you in the future. After all, who wants to approach someone for help during a painful time when the only help they’ll get is a sound scolding? Even if you have a particular bone to pick with your teen, the days immediately following a breakup might not be the appropriate time to address the situation.

Familiarize Yourself With the Signs of Depression

To you, the end of a high school romance may seem like little more than a blip on the radar. To your teen, however, that break-up is the radar. While it’s certainly not true that every teen who goes through a breakup will feel like it’s the end of the world, some take such things harder than others. Teens that are already prone to depression or who are at risk can begin to suffer from the condition in the aftermath of a particularly messy break-up, so be sure that you’re apprised of the risks and understand how to spot the signs of teenage depression.

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10 Common Causes for Teenage Depression

Monday, May 6th, 2013

Adolescence can be a very turbulent and difficult time, even for the most well-adjusted child. Depression strikes teenagers and adults alike, and can have far-reaching implications when kids suffer from emotional difficulties that they aren’t sure how to manage. After noticing the signs of depression in your teen and helping him to get the treatment he needs, understanding the root of his depression can help to make the situation more manageable for everyone involved. While this is by no means a comprehensive list of all causes of teen depression, these ten situations can be very common contributing factors to depression.

  1. Academic Stress – Kids are under an enormous amount of pressure to succeed academically, especially as the costs of higher education rise and more families are reliant upon scholarships to help offset the expense. Stressing over classes, grades and tests can cause kids to become depressed, especially if they’re expected to excel at all costs or are beginning to struggle with their course load.
  2. Social Anxiety or Peer Pressure – During adolescence, teenagers are learning how to navigate the complex and unsettling world of social interaction in new and complicated ways. Popularity is important to most teens, and a lack of it can be very upsetting. The appearance of peer pressure to try illicit drugs, drinking or other experimental behavior can also be traumatic for kids that aren’t eager to give in, but are afraid of damaging their reputation through refusal.
  3. Romantic Problems – When kids become teenagers and enter adolescence, romantic entanglements become a much more prominent and influential part of their lives. From breakups to unrequited affection, there are a plethora of ways in which their budding love lives can cause teens to become depressed.
  4. Traumatic Events – The death of a loved one, instances of abuse or other traumatic events can have a very real impact on kids, causing them to become depressed or overly anxious. In the aftermath of a trauma, it’s wise to keep an eye out for any changes in behavior or signs of depression in your teen.
  5. Separating or Divorcing Parents – Divorced or separated parents might be more common for today’s teens than it was in generations past, but that doesn’t mean that the situation has no effect on their emotional wellbeing. The dissolution of the family unit or even the divorce of a parent and step-parent can be very upsetting for teens, often leading to depression.
  6. Heredity – Some kids are genetically predisposed to suffer from depression. If a parent or close relative has issues with depression, your child may simply be suffering from a cruel trick of heredity that makes him more susceptible.
  7. Family Financial Struggles – Your teenager may not be a breadwinner in your household or responsible for balancing the budget, but that doesn’t mean that she’s unaffected by a precarious financial situation within the family. Knowing that money is tight can be a very upsetting situation for teens, especially if they’re worried about the possibility of losing their home or the standard of living they’re accustomed to.
  8. Physical or Emotional Neglect – Though they may seem like fiercely independent beings that want or need nothing from their parents, teenagers still have emotional and physical needs for attention. The lack of parental attention on either level can lead to feelings of depression.
  9. Low Self-Esteem – Being a teenager isn’t easy on the self-esteem. From a changing body to the appearance of pimples, it can seem as if Mother Nature herself is conspiring against an adolescent to negatively affect her level of self-confidence. When the self-esteem level drops below a certain point, it’s not uncommon for teens to become depressed.
  10. Feelings of Helplessness – Knowing that he’s going to be affected on a personal level by things he has no control over can easily throw your teen into the downward spiral of depression. Feelings of helplessness and powerlessness often go hand in hand with the struggle with depression, and can make the existing condition even more severe.

It’s important that you speak to a medical professional or your teen’s doctor about any concerns you have regarding his emotional wellbeing, especially if you suspect that he’s suffering from depression. Depression is a very real affliction that requires treatment, and is not something that should be addressed without the assistance of a doctor. Your general practitioner or pediatrician should be able to help you determine the best course of action if your child is suffering from depression, including referrals to a specialist or medication.

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How to Know When Your Teen is Lying and When He’s Not

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

When your child is younger, spotting a fib isn’t much of a challenge. Little ones don’t quite have the skills they need to fabricate a plausible excuse, so picking apart a questionable story is usually the work of a moment. As kids get older and hone their skills in the world of deception, however, it usually becomes a bit more difficult to spot a false story. Accusing your teen of lying when she’s telling the truth can cause a major blow-up and do serious damage to your relationship, but letting her out of the house with a flimsy story can put her in dangerous situations. At no time in your child’s life is it more difficult to pick out a lie than when she’s a teenager, but it’s also the time when it’s most imperative. While there’s no fool-proof method of sussing out the truth when a teen is determined to lie, there are a few things you can keep in mind that may help you get to the bottom of a story before things get out of hand.

Look for Out-of-Character Behavior

Just as all poker players have a tell or two that will tip off an opponent in the know, everyone has a few tics that can give them away when they lie. The key to spotting suspicious behavior in your teen, however, is to be intimately familiar with her habits when she’s telling the truth. When you know your child and her mannerisms through and through, you’ll be better positioned to pick up on inconsistencies that indicate a lie or two. For instance, a teen that normally looks at the floor may be conscious that she needs to make eye contact in order to sell her story, and may hold that eye contact for so long that it tips you off to her tall tales. Any mannerisms that are out-of-character and suspicious can be indicators that she’s lying, so be on the lookout for changes in behavior.

Listen Carefully

It’s easy to get so caught up in trying to decode your teen’s behavior that you miss out on the most important aspect of determining the veracity of a story: just listening. Make sure that you pay attention to not only your teen’s mannerisms, but also what she says and how she says it. Long pauses after you ask a question are usually the result of your teen looking for holes in her story before answering, concocting an answer to your question that falls in line with her previous tale or to cover her tracks in case of a misstep. Slight stuttering or stammering or a change in pitch may also be indicators that your teen’s story isn’t entirely true.

Observe Her Body Language

A teenager that’s normally poised and graceful may have a perfect, seamless story to tell that fails only because her shifty body language betrays her. Look for fidgeting, excessive touching of the face, mouth or neck, tapping toes or a visible struggle to stand still. If your teen is suddenly fascinated with the hemline of a shirt or a stray thread poking out of a seam, she may be looking for an excuse to avoid making eye contact with you. Watching your child’s body language and comparing it with her normal behavior can give you a good idea of when her story is less than honest.

Ask Questions

Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions, or even the strange ones. Your job as a parent is to find out where your teen is going and what she’s up to, so don’t shy away from questioning a story that doesn’t sit right with you. Follow your instincts and listen to what your own experience tells you. If there’s a loose thread in your teen’s story, follow it to see how well that story holds up. Look for inconsistencies or discrepancies with the information you already have versus what she’s giving you.

Trust Her

While it may seem like trusting a teenager is just asking for trouble, you may be actively harming your relationship with her by questioning every word that falls from her mouth. Realizing the importance of showing her that you do trust her, and letting her know that you’re approachable when she’s in need of help or advice can actually foster a more open relationship that’s based on mutual trust and respect. When you work to build that trust, you won’t have to worry so much about picking apart her stories, as she’ll be more honest with you from the outset of a conversation. Accusing your child of lying when she’s telling you the truth only makes her angry and makes her more likely to stretch the boundaries of the truth in the future. After all, if she’s being accused of lying and punished undeservedly for dishonesty, why shouldn’t she at least earn your lack of trust and the penalties you level against her by doing exactly what you accuse her of?

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Why Teaching Your Teen to Dress Modestly is Important

Monday, March 25th, 2013

As the parent of a teenager, you’ve undoubtedly seen your share of questionable choices, bad trends and attempts to assert independence that don’t go as planned. Few things are as disconcerting or as upsetting, though, as the realization that your teen is no longer a child, but that the wardrobe choices she’s making are far from age-appropriate. Many teens think that wearing abbreviated clothing is an effective way of establishing their transition into adulthood and a reflection of their personal style, never realizing just how problematic showing too much skin can be. As a parent, your job does not end when your child begins to express her independence, especially if expressions of that independence include clothing that reveals far too much.

Teaching Girls That Their Worth Doesn’t End or Begin With Their Bodies

In a hyper-sexualized culture that celebrates scantily-clad pop stars who are more renowned for their fashion sense than any actual accomplishments, it’s easy for impressionable teenage girls to feel as if their worth is tied up with their skin and how much of it they’re willing to show. Insisting that your teenager dress modestly is important, but it’s also essential that you explain to her that one of the reasons why you want her to dress modestly lies within the message that she’s worth more if she’s wearing less. Having an open, honest discussion about the message society sends to young girls and its detrimental effects may reach your teenager in a way that a simple refusal to allow certain items of clothing never would.

Adhering to Religious Beliefs

Many religions count modesty as a virtue, with some even considering it a non-negotiable aspect of spirituality. If you’re trying to instill the religious beliefs and philosophies of your own spiritual alignment with your children, discouraging immodest dress is essential.

Maintaining School Dress Code Standards

As a parent, few things are as humiliating as being called to pick your teenager up from school because her outfit is too risqué. Most schools have dress codes that are clearly explained in student handbooks and conduct codes, and there’s very little room for interpretation. Regardless of your spiritual or social beliefs, it’s important that your teen understands just how necessary it is to adhere to the dress codes set before her. Even if you don’t personally have a problem with the way your child is dressed, there’s still a chance that the administrators of her school will.

Establishing and Understanding Regarding Appropriate Dress

As your teenager moves into her early twenties, your hands are largely tied when it comes to her wardrobe choices. It’s essential that you instill a basic understanding about dressing appropriately while she still lives with you, rather than simply making rules and requiring her to follow them unquestioningly. Remember that, as a parent, your job is to teach your children how to be successful adults, not to demand that they live by the rules you’ve set regardless of how well they understand them. Your teenager learns nothing about proper dress when you make a habit of vetoing her outfits before she leaves the house without explaining why it isn’t appropriate. She needs to know the difference between clothing you would wear to a party and attire that would work in a professional setting. The end goal of parenting is to give your children the skills they need to make the right decisions for themselves when you’re not there to guide them. Explaining the importance of modest clothing, especially in certain settings, is far more effective than banning certain items of clothing without any explanation.

Because Modesty is Important to Young Men, Too

The focus on clothing choices and modestly rests largely on the bodies of teenage girls, who are sexualized on a societal level in a dismaying assortment of ways. It’s easy to let your son’s education regarding modesty and appropriate clothing fall to the wayside as you focus on teaching your daughter that allowing others to objectify her based on clothing choices is a slippery slope. In reality, teenage boys need to learn about modesty and objectification just as badly. While you’re teaching your son that his pants shouldn’t be hanging around his thighs, you can also take the opportunity to explain all of the reasons why objectification is wrong, regardless of who’s on the receiving end. Boys need to understand that they’re more than their bodies, too. Remember, body image issues go both ways, even if they’re not talked about nearly as much when boys and young men are struggling with them.

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10 Things to Include in a Parent and Teen Contract

Monday, March 11th, 2013

While teens may initially balk at the idea of agreeing to implement a contract with their parents, getting all of your mutual rights, responsibilities and expectations on paper can make a big difference in the way that you communicate with one another. The effectiveness of a well-written contract is one of the many reasons why written agreements dictate so much in terms of professional behavior, a concept that can be applied directly to you and your teen. These are 10 of the things that you should include in your own parent-teen contract, so that there are no disputes borne of misunderstanding or miscommunication.

  1. Driving Privileges – Driving is a rite of passage, an undeniable sign to both your teen and yourself that she’s starting to grow up. Handing over those keys doesn’t mean that you’re giving her free reign to do as she pleases, though. Making sure that your teen understands driving her car is a privilege that can be taken away, rather than an unassailable right, can motivate her to behave accordingly. Outlining things like curfew, safe driving responsibilities and the financial responsibilities of driving can help your teen understand just how big of a step driving really is.
  2. Cell Phone Use – Today’s cell phone plans are a bit more flexible than the exorbitant fee charges for any calls made during peak times a decade ago, but they can still be quite expensive. In an era that sees every teen with a cell phone, laying a strong foundation regarding the proper etiquette of cell phone use, the importance of never using a cell phone as a tool for bullying and the repercussions of texting and driving is important.
  3. Staying Home Alone – Your teen will inevitably decide that she’s too old for childcare or babysitters during the period between her return from school and your arrival from work. Covering what is and is not considered acceptable behavior when she’s home alone in a section of the parent-teen contract clearly communicates these things to her.
  4. Unsupervised Visits with Friends – No matter how much you’d like to be watching over your teen every moment of the day, the truth is that you just can’t. When it’s time to trust her with unsupervised outings with her friends, knowing that you’ve discussed the matter at length and covered it in your contract can help give you some peace of mind.
  5. Dating – Few things strike fear in the heart of a parent like the idea of their teen dating. Unfortunately, it’s also an unavoidable fact of life as a parent. Making sure that your child knows what’s expected of her when she’s dating in terms of curfew, supervision and the likes can make the transition a bit easier for everyone involved.
  6. Computer and Internet Usage – The Internet is a powerful learning and research tool for teens, but it can also be a very dangerous place for them. Making sure that your teen knows how to avoid online predators, bullies and other dangers is important, but so is limiting the amount of time she spends connected to a screen. Working out a reasonable Internet and computer usage policy can help to maintain peace in your home, as well as discourage constant connectivity.
  7. Television Use – Limiting screen time is as important for teens as it is for younger children, even if it is more challenging to enforce. Encouraging active pursuits and hobbies that get your teen moving will not only impact her physical wellbeing, but also help instill good habits in terms of television use as an adult.
  8. Earning and Spending – Teens have expensive taste, a fact that parents know all too well. Outlining how your teen will earn spending money, how much of her income should be set aside for expenses and different saving methods are all important parts of teaching financial responsibility.
  9. Chores – Making your teen responsible for helping with the daily running of the household can give her an idea of just how much work goes into keeping up a home and the importance of contributing fairly. Covering those chores in the parenting contract can also prevent arguments later, as it serves as a black-and-white reference when disputes arise.
  10. House Rules – Every household has its own rules to follow, and they should be spelled out clearly for your teen in her contract. When she knows exactly what’s expected of her and what isn’t allowed, she’ll be better able to navigate the area between them with confidence.

Working on the contract together will not only give your teens a sense of ownership over the agreement, but also the chance to make sure that their interests are protected. The most effective parent-teen contracts allow teens to have a voice in terms of their own rights and expectations. Try not to draw up a contract that gives your teen a laundry list of rules and no rights of her own. A contract that simply imposes rules and stifles your kids is one that they’re not likely to accept without rebellion, whereas one that outlines the needs of all involved parties is something they might be able to respect.

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10 Ways to Avoid Fighting with Your Teen

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

When you’re raising a teenager, your house can feel like a warzone that’s scattered with potential land mines masquerading as casual questions. Every interaction can feel like it has the potential to blow up in your respective faces, leaving parents wondering what the safest course of action is in terms of avoiding an argument. During the tumultuous teenage years, these are 10 of the most reliable ways to avoid fighting with your child.

  1. Establish Rational Boundaries – During adolescence, your teen is revisiting the same mindset of early toddlerhood that leaves her looking for ways to test boundaries as a means of asserting her independence from you. Making sure that she knows some boundaries cannot be challenged lays a foundation for calm, rational interaction. Just be sure before you make those rules that you understand your teen’s need for a reasonable amount of independence, and avoid overly harsh authoritarian rules that leave no room for such expression.
  2. Shift Your Perspective – As an adult parent of a teenager, it can be difficult to remember your own battles during the tender years leading up to adulthood. Before flying off of the proverbial handle, try to remember how you felt as a teen, so that you can see things from your own teenager’s perspective.
  3. Refuse to Escalate the Situation – When you’re standing face to face with a raging, screaming teen that pays no heed to the feelings of anyone around her as she expresses her frustration, it’s easy to fall into the trap of shouting right back at her. By maintaining your composure and refusing to let the situation escalate into a full-on altercation, you’re effectively maintaining control of the confrontation without adding fuel to the fire.
  4. Practice Good Listening Skills – Sometimes a teen feels as if he’s not being truly heard and in response will lash out with anger, when all he really wants is to know that his viewpoints and opinions are being listened to. Taking the time to ask your child how he feels and actually listening to the answer he gives can diffuse many arguments before they start.
  5. Create a “No Judgment” Zone for Tricky Discussions – Teenagers face a variety of difficult choices and situations, and those who feel as if they have nowhere to turn for advice due to a fear of parental judgment or punishment can internalize that stress, leading to nasty arguments borne of frustration. Making sure that your child knows she can safely approach you with difficult questions can eliminate that frustration, making for a more peaceful environment within your home.
  6. Know When to Compromise – As a parent, it’s often difficult to admit when you’re being unreasonable and concede an argument, or at least to make compromises when you’ve reached an impasse. Mastering the art of a sane compromise with your teen, however, is the key to keeping a tense discussion from escalating.
  7. Understand When to Walk Away – When you can’t hold on to your temper, it’s okay to walk away. If you ascribe to a philosophy of walking away to let your temper cool, though, it’s essential that you afford your teenager the same respect. Resist the temptation to follow her in order to continue a diatribe; it’ll only lead to an even nastier confrontation.
  8. Actively Avoid Triggers – There are some subjects that bring out a passionate reaction in everyone, and those triggers differ from one person to the next. Your teenager is no different, and you know the things that will upset her before you discuss them. Avoid the subjects you know will upset your child, especially if there’s no real reason for discussing them.
  9. Refuse to Reward the Silent Treatment – The silent treatment is infuriating for anyone, but it’s important that you not reward that behavior from your teen. Attempting to draw him out with false cheerfulness or prodding him to talk will only blow up in your face, so let him stew without interference for a while.
  10. Avoid Drawing Comparisons – Telling your teenager that you never acted the way he does, or illustrating just how much more tolerant of a parent you are because you don’t punish him the way you would have been punished for behaving in such a manner serves absolutely no productive purpose. Remember that your teen is trying to establish himself as a separate entity from you; drawing comparisons, even when you’re just looking for common ground, can ultimately be counterproductive. 

Making a concerted effort to foster an open, honest relationship with your teen can make it easier to avoid the worst arguments, but the occasional disagreement is pretty much par for the course. Rather than dwelling on an argument after it happens, try to think about how you could have handled it differently so that you can apply that knowledge the next time negotiations become tense.

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How to Monitor Your Teen’s Online Social Life

Monday, February 25th, 2013

The Internet is an invaluable tool for teenagers, allowing them access to information that would have required their parents to spend hours in the library with a card catalog and stack of reference books. For all of the vast stores of information online, there are also more than a few dangers. Sexual predators, bullying and inappropriate and dangerously false information are just a sampling of the trouble teens can find when their online lives aren’t supervised properly.

Make Social Media Work For You

Adding your child on Facebook and following her on Twitter can keep you in the loop, provided that she doesn’t add you to a restricted list. If you know that your child is constantly updating her status or sending out tweets and you can’t see them, it’s a sure sign that you’ve been blocked. Making sure that you talk to your child about why you want to follow her posts can help her understand your reasoning behind these tactics. You’ll probably have the best results with this method if you refrain from posting on her Timeline or tweeting to her, though. Remember: out of sight, out of mind. When your every word is a source of embarrassment to a moody teen, she’ll be painfully aware of your presence and more reticent when it comes to social media. A policy of radio silence is more likely to give you an accurate picture of what she does and says online.

Establish an Open Line of Communication

When your teen knows she can trust you and can come to you with any questions or concerns she has without fear of judgment, she’s more likely to be open and honest with you about her life. Letting her know that you are making an effort to monitor her online life and that you’re doing it out of concern rather than a desire to snoop is your best bet. An open, honest relationship can almost eliminate the need for extensive monitoring.

Consider Monitoring Software Carefully

There are dozens of software products on the market that will record your teen’s keystrokes, track every move she makes online and report the contents of her email inbox back to you. The problem with these products arises when you’re forced to confront her with proof of her misconduct online. In order to discuss the matter, you’ll have to admit that you were secretly spying on her with monitoring software, which could seriously damage the level of trust between you. If you opt to use monitoring software, it may be best to disclose that upfront.

Keep an Eye on Your Browser’s History

Tech-savvy kids will know to clear their browser’s history, but even the stealthiest teens can forget from time to time. Making a habit of checking the browser can give you some clues as to what your kids are looking at online. Just be sure that you’re confronting your teen with something he actually looked at, rather than blaming him for a misstep made by another member of the household.

Use Parental Controls

There are basic parental controls built into most web browsers, which can filter the majority of the objectionable content that comes up in a general engine search. As with browser history, a tech-savvy teen can find ways to circumvent these controls, but they do provide a layer of protection from inadvertent stumbles upon questionable material.

Think About Computer Placement and Access

It’s certainly easier and more convenient to provide your child with a laptop or a computer in his room to complete homework assignments and such, but you’re effectively forfeiting your ability to keep an eye on his activity. By placing the computer your teen uses in a high-traffic area and limiting his access to a specified block of time, you can keep a closer watch on the things he’s doing online.

Work Out a Social Networking Policy That’s Acceptable to Both of You

An overly-authoritarian approach to social networking and Internet use will almost certainly make your teen feel more rebellious than eager to comply, but working together to draft an agreement everyone can live with gives them a modicum of control. At an age when asserting independence is so important, this small gesture can make a big difference in the way that your teen views his Internet use and the rules you’ve made together. Working out the agreement also provides you with a built-in opportunity to discuss the reasons why responsible social networking use is important, the repercussions of posting too much information and why you’re concerned with his activity online in the first place.

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28 Blogs with Ideas to Keep Teens from Going Stir Crazy Over Spring Break

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Spring Break is quickly approaching, but what do you do when you don’t have the time to go anywhere or if you have other commitments that make taking a trip with the family impossible at this time? The last thing you want is to find your hands full with teenagers who are losing their minds from boredom! Worse yet, how do you make sure they stay out of trouble while you are at work?  If these questions are plaguing you, then it may be a good idea to take a look at these 28 blogs that can give you some inspiration for surviving this Spring Break.

Games

Playing games might seem like an activity reserved for younger kids, but what if you have both older and younger kids? There are a wide range of apps available that are perfect for keeping your tweens and teens busy, as well as a variety of board games that teens will love playing.  These seven blog posts are full of answers for curing boredom.

Crafts

If your teen or tween likes to get creative, then encouraging her to start a new project over Spring Break might keep her busy for the whole week.  You may need to buy some supplies, but that will be money well spent if she can stay creative and busy all Spring break.  Find out what types of crafts she likes or show her something that you like.  Teach her to sew and challenge her to make her own quilt.  The project can be put together with things that remind her of years past, and by the time she graduates it will be a memory quilt she can take to college. If she doesn’t think she’s the crafty type, you could always try something different, like getting her started on Zentangles.  These seven blog articles can help you and your teen pick a project to work on over Spring break.

Activities

Finding activities for your teens and tweens to do during Spring Break can be tricky.  Many times area businesses will have activities for teens during their week off of school.  There might be a public service project that your teen could do to earn extra credit for school or free movies available to watch at the library.  Your teenager can probably walk or ride his bike to the local library or YMCA if there are activities there.  This could give your teen a chance to get out of the house for a while and do something with friends in a supervised setting.

Short Outings

If you don’t have to work over Spring Break either, then maybe you could get away on a few local outings that are close to home.  You can become a tourist in your own city or surrounding area.  Many times, you can live in an area for years and never see the sites that make that area famous.  Take this time with your family to explore a little.  Some of these outings can even be done after work or on the weekends.  Take a look at these seven blog entries to find some inspiration for different Spring break outings to take with your teen.

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Learn How to Talk Your Teen’s Language with These 30 Blogs

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

When your affectionate child becomes a strong-willed tween who suddenly morphs into a sullen teenager, it’s easy to feel like a language barrier has sprung up between you and the teenager you’ve raised from infancy. Innocent questions can quickly degenerate into shouting matches and emotional scenes, leaving teens upset and parents befuddled. With these 30 blog entries, you can begin to explore concepts that may facilitate more productive conversation between you and your teen. With a bit of dedication and plenty of practice, you’ll be speaking your teen’s language before you know it.

Showing Respect to Get Respect

One common complaint of parents seeking family counseling or help with a troubled teen is a lack of respect shown by that teenager. What many don’t realize is that in order to receive respect from a teenager, you have to offer it in return. Rather than angrily demanding unquestioning respect from your teen without doing anything to inspire it, look to these five blog entries for some advice on how to give your teen what you’re asking for in return.

Creating a “No-Judgment” Zone

In order to facilitate productive and honest conversation with your teen, you’ll need to make a point of encouraging them to talk without fear of judgment. Letting your teen know that they won’t be subjected to harsh judgments or punishments for sharing their thoughts and opinions or asking for advice is essential. Without the trust that her mistakes won’t be held against her, your teen will almost certainly choose not to come to you for help or guidance. Creating a judgment-free policy when it comes to talking to your teenager isn’t always easy, but these five blog entries are great places to start.

Keeping a Lid on Your Temper

It’s easy to fly into a rage when you feel like your teen is deliberately pushing your buttons, but it’s ultimately pointless to do so. Not only will it serve no productive purpose, but it can also make your teenager more hesitant to talk to you or to approach every conversation with hostility because that’s what she expects to encounter from you. Managing your temper in the face of a teenager’s maelstrom of emotions isn’t a trick you’ll master overnight, but the advice of these five bloggers can help you take the first step in that direction.

Learning to Listen

Part of learning how to speak to your teenager is learning how to listen to him. Just like an adult, your teen is likely to shut down when he feels that he’s not being heard, exchanging his efforts at a constructive conversation for sullenness and insults. Encouraging your teenager to talk to you can be as simple as letting him know that you’re capable of listening to what he has to say. These five blog entries offer pointers for how to practice active listening when your teen is speaking, allowing you to foster a productive dialogue rather than a one-sided shouting match.

Make Suggestions, Not Accusations

Teens who feel like they’re being attacked by their parents or accused of things they haven’t done are far more likely to shut down completely than they are to make an effort to turn the conversation around. At this stage in your child’s life, the burden of maintaining a civil conversation rests largely on your shoulders, as she’s still learning to master the finer aspects of communication. These five blog entries discuss the importance of avoiding inflammatory “you always/you never…” statements, and help you learn to drop the accusatory tone that can lead to so much trouble.

Non-Verbal Communication

There’s more to successful communication than formulating phrases and speaking them aloud. There are so many nuances and layers to how humans communicate, many of which are instinctual. The information in these five blog entries is centered on the concept of non-verbal communication and can help you master the art of speaking without saying a word.

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