A New Year’s Resolution: To Be a Better Parent

New Year’s is a natural time for people to take stock of the year and set goals for the next year. As parents, we all do our best, but there’s always room for improvement. While you’re making New Year’s resolutions about losing weight, saving money and exercising, also consider resolving to be the best parent you can be.

Get Healthier – Together. Research has repeatedly shown that families that eat together stay together. They are also healthier, more connected, and more successful in school and at work. Make a point to eat dinner together every night and take walks or engage in active play as a family.

Spend More Quality Time. Family rituals foster togetherness and open the lines of communication. Plan family trips, outings, art or home improvement projects and other activities together or volunteer as a family. In the New Year, set a goal to learn something new together; for example, study a new language, take cooking classes or start a family book club.

Monitor Your Teens’ Online Activity. The Internet can be a dangerous place for teens. If you haven’t already done so, move your child’s computer into a common area of the home (such as the kitchen or living room), set parental controls and monitor how much time your teen spends on the computer each night. While the Internet can be educational and keep your teen in touch with friends and family, it also raises a number of concerns such as teen bullying, Internet addiction and online predators.

Continue reading ways to be a better parent in 2010 >>

7 Lessons Parents Can Learn From Their Teens

Experts spend a lot of time giving parents advice on how to instill knowledge, values and skills in their teenagers. But one of the joys of having children is the ability to always continue learning and staying “current.”

Teens can learn a lot from their parents, but parents can also learn a thing or two from their teens.

1. Patience

If there’s one universal fact about teens, it’s that they will try your patience. You set rules, they break them; you say no, they do it anyway. As frustrated as you may be, your teens are teaching you a valuable lesson in patience. In time, your teens will grow into adults that appreciate all of your hard work. Until then, you can expect a lot of tests along the way.

2. How to Use Technology

In most households, it’s the teenagers who know how to put technology to use. Your teen can teach you how to find anything on the Internet with the click of a mouse, how to text message, how to use your new iPhone and more.

Because your teen likely knows more than you in this area, take extra precautions with their use of the Internet (especially social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace) and educate yourself about how to keep your teens safe online.

3. Trends and Fads

Most teens are horribly embarrassed by how “uncool” their parents are. When they tell you that your outfit looks ridiculous or that they wouldn’t be caught dead in public with you, it may be time to update your look.

If you have an open relationship, your teens can also fill you in on more important trends, such as teens abusing prescription drugs, sexting, cyberbullying and other worrisome fads parents should be aware of.

Read four more things parents can learn from their teenagers >>

Building Girls’ Self-Esteem Through Wilderness Therapy

Something happens to girls between late childhood and early adolescence. Research shows that girls’ self-esteem generally peaks around 9 years of age and then falls as they enter adolescence.

Low self-esteem impacts every area of a young girl’s life. “Girls can’t make healthy choices for themselves without a strong sense of self-worth,” says Kirsten Bolt, CMFTI, a therapist at Aspen Achievement Academy, a therapeutic wilderness program for teens in Utah.

Adolescence is a time when teenage girls must differentiate what they want for themselves from what their friends and parents want. Unfortunately, it is also a time when girls begin to feel pressured to look and act a certain way based on society’s idealized standards. They are more likely to suffer from depression and eating disorders than boys, largely as a result of low self-esteem.

The Causes of Low Self-Esteem
“We live in a society that values females for superficial reasons,” notes Bolt. “Girls aren’t encouraged to be leaders, there aren’t many great role models out there for girls, and the overall message is that girls aren’t as capable as boys.”

Learn more about the benefits of wilderness therapy for girls >>