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Parenting Survival Tips
Are you connected with your kids??? Only 27 percent of American adolescents describe their
parents as “hands on”. Being hands on or connected means being involved in your child’s daily
life; asking about their day and knowing where they like to go, knowing who your kid’s friends
are, knowing where your kids are, and how they can be reached. Being consistent with rules and
enforcing them helps with being connected to your child. Respect their privacy but also be
aware of what is going on in your child’s life.
Communication with teenagers can often be difficult. Teenagers frequently misread emotional
signals due to brain development and before you know it, an emotional blow up can occur. To
put this in a mathematical equation it would look something like this: misinterpretation + gut
response + lousy brakes = poor communication. Have you ever experienced this before? It is
quite common. See the communication tips on the back of this page for help.
Talk to your kids about smoking, drinking, drugs, and sex and make sure your kids are clear
about your expectations. Set up necessary rules and consequences. Maintain an open dialogue
and don’t just talk to them once about the subject.
Maintain rules and enforce consequences if necessary, specifically curfews. Teens with curfews
have a greater sense of accountability. They know that parents who wait up will be much more
likely to figure out what condition they are in when they come home. In addition, they are more
likely to fill you in on where they are going and won’t be out all night doing who knows what. Some statistics:
The average adolescent spends almost 40 hours a week in front of the screen (TV, video games, and computer use-this does not include phone time and listening to music). That’s the same amount of time as a full time job! 2 out of 3 teens have a TV in their bedroom and it’s been proven that these kids who use the most media do worse in school than the ones who spend less time on media. The lack of physical activity due to media use is contributing to obesity and diabetes.
Because violence is so prominent in mass media, the average youngster will witness 200,000 acts of violence before he or she graduates from high school including 20,000 murders. TV violence or violent video games can increase aggression hormones in teens.
Our teen pregnancy rate is almost double that of the Westernized countries with the next highest, England.
The US has the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases, like syphilis, gonorrhea, and Chlamydia, in the Western Industrialized world. Three million US teens contract an STD every year. The countries with low rates of teen pregnancy and low rates of STDs deal with sex more openly. In the mid-1990s a study showed that 75% of adolescent boys and 57% of adolescent girls had oral sex before intercourse. STDs can be contracted from oral sex. Most teens do not consider oral sex as sex even though STDs can be contracted.
Unfortunately only 19% of teens get accurate information on sex from their families. With the increasing restrictions on sex education in schools, many of the other 81% rely on flawed info from their peers or the media. 75% of teens say that media portrayals of sexual behavior influence their sexual behavior and their peers’.
Teens already have sex on the mind. It doesn’t matter where they come from, what their beliefs are, or how they were raised: adolescents have natural processes at work in their brains and bodies that prompt an interest in sex. Talking about it will not make
them interested. They are already
See the next page for a quick reference of do’s and don’ts
• Get to know your child’s friends and
• Listen, listen, listen. Don’t just talk at
• Have regular conversations with your
• Make sure your child has accurate info
• Model responsible use of alcohol. Our
• Search for ways to connect with your
• Set clear expectations about drinking
• Maintain family traditions even when
• Insist that your teen share in family
• Expect and tolerate a little adolescent
• If you are at all worried about your
• Apologize to your child if you need to.
• Seek professional guidance if you are
• Encourage your child to get involved
• Encourage your child to find solutions
when they are feeling down or discouraged and name and talk about feelings. Ask them what they can do about a situation that is bothering them.
• Don’t ignore signs and symptoms of
• Don’t lecture. If lectures worked, you
• Don’t base your parenting decisions
could not lift their heads can return to
• Don’t get caught up in a yelling match
• Never give up hope for a mentally ill
• Don’t ignore signs or accept excuses
• Don’t tolerate aggressive behavior if it
turns destructive to either property or people. Intervene early and let your child know exactly what behavior is accepted and what behavior is out of bounds. Instead of issuing ultimatums, tell your teen what the consequences will be.
• Don’t let kids play ultraviolent first-
• Don’t let media time crowd out all the
other activities that are important for adolescents.
computers in the bedroom or late at night and turn off during meals-talk with your child instead.
• Don’t let your teens get in the habit of
using a lot of caffeine or other stimulants to wake up in the morning.
This is the first in a series of concept papers commissioned by the International Trachoma Initiative (ITI) to bridge the mission and programmatic work of ITI with the current discussions in other fields related to health and development issues in poor countries. The general aim of the concept papers is to assist ITI to clarify and articulate the success of its current programs to eliminate blind
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