How to Talk With Your Children About Coronavirus

As conversations about the coronavirus disease increase, kids may worry about themselves, their family, and friends getting ill.  As parents, we play an important role in helping our kids deal with their fears and confusion.

It’s important to give our children an opportunity to talk openly about questions or concerns they have without forcing them to talk if they don’t want to.

When opportunities do arise to discuss the situation with our kids, we should remain calm and reassuring.  Remember, kids not only listen to what we say, but the way we say it.

We should always be honest when talking to our kids by providing them with information that is truthful and appropriate for their age and developmental level. Let them know that not everything they hear from their friends or on the internet may be based on accurate information. 

Along those lines, it might be good to limit the amount of time they spend on social media.  Too much information on any topic can lead to anxiety in our children.

We should also remember that feelings are neither good nor bad, they just are.  As parents, we can reassure our kids that it is ok to have some fear about the situation and that talking to us about their feelings can help them deal with their fears and confusion.

This is certainly a difficult time for families, especially for our kids, who may be scared and confused about their world. It’s also a great opportunity to bring our families closer together.  We might take this time to renew our family prayer life by encouraging prayer as a family like praying the rosary together and saying a blessing at meal times.  Remember, our children draw strength and encouragement from their parents.  It’s up to us to instill the sense of hope they need in these trying times.

May God bless us all and give us his strength during these unprecedented times.

Effects of terrorism on our kids

Boy watching TV

We hear a lot about the reality of terrorism around the world, including the threat that exists right here in America. But, we never seem to hear about the effect terrorism has on our developing children.

  • How safe or scared do they really feel?
  • What should we be doing to help them deal with the treats of terrorism in their everyday lives?
  • Is it best to talk openly with our kids about the real threats in the world?

Unfortunately, these questions are a reality in today’s world and should be addressed by parents. To ignore the reality of terrorism and the effects it is having on our children is to ignore a substantial factor in their wellbeing and support.

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December Issue Of The Month: Are violent video games making our kids violent?

thXB615Q2DIt is hard to believe that kids have been playing video games as a regular part of their lives for more than 40 years now. In fact, today we see more than 97% of U.S. teens playing video games, many of which may be considered violent in varying degrees.

 As a bored 13 year-old, I remember how exciting it was when the first commercial video game, Pong, was released in 1972.  There was something inherently mind-numbing and at the same time quite challenging about moving a single paddle back-and-forth across the television screen in a never ending quest to slap the cyber ball, which was actually shaped like a square, to the other player so they could furiously move their paddle in a singularly responsive attempt to slap the cyber ball back across the screen.  There was nothing violent associated with Pong, unless you think hitting a ball with cyber-paddles is an offense against puritan values.

thVX94LGDKOf course, the video gaming experience today is quite different that it was when I played Pong as an alternative to running around outside in the “fresh air”. Rather than cheering their child on as he or she slaps the cyber ball across the TV, parents are now asking whether the experience of violent video games such as Call of Duty, Alien:Isolation, Grand Theft Auto, Assassin’s Creed and the like is adversely influencing their kids behavior. In fact, blood and gore, intense violence, strong sexual content, and use of drugs are just a few of the phrases used by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) in describing the content of several games in the Grand Theft Auto series.

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Arguing With Your Parents?

bart-and-homer-simpson-the-simpsons-26556618-500-513The teens I talk with seem to have a fairly common complaint. They don’t understand why they have to argue with their parents on what seems like a constant basis.  Of course parents wonder the same thing. Constant arguing between parents teens is no doubt aggravating for everyone involved.  It most certainly does not make for a tranquil home and can even lead to doubts about love among family members.

The good news is that these perpetual arguments tend to diminish as teenagers get older. But what can be done in the meantime? Well, there are some ways to make arguing a little bit less of a disastrous event for both parents and their teenage children.

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Why am I so lonely?

images-21We might think that people are born with social skills, but that’s not the case. We actually learn how to socialize as we grow. And like every other learned behavior, some of us become really good at socializing and others do not, just like some of us become really good mathematicians and some of us don’t.

There are, of course, some people who just prefer to be alone more than hanging in social settings all of the time. In general, however, humans are social creatures who are not meant to be isolated. After all, our emotional and physical well-being actually depend on our degree of socialization. You might say that lonely teens who don’t get help overcoming their loneliness often become lonely adults. Regardless, loneliness should be a passing phase. Occasionally though, teens can get stuck in a loneliness rut that seems to last forever.

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Sexting: The not-so-little dirty little secret invading teen lives

images-7As someone who deals with teens and their contemporary issues on a daily basis, I admit I was a little surprised to hear of the extent of sexting occurring at Canon City High School. It’s bad enough when our Secret Service Agents are arrested for sexting with 14 year-old girls and members of congress are caught sending nude pictures of their “no-no zones” across the web. Now, however, its apparently becoming endemic in our schools.

According to the Urban Dictionary, sexting is “the act of messaging someone in the hopes of having a sexual encounter with them later. . . .” That seemed a little extreme to me, so I checked out the Merriam-Webster definition, which said that sexting was the “sending of sexually explicit messages by cell phone.” Both definitions are disheartening to say the least, especially to someone who cares about the health and welfare of our teens.

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November Issue Of The Month: Teen Stress 101

images-13It’s normal to have some stress in life.  But, everyone is affected by excessive stress at one time or another, and it can feel overwhelming.  In fact, a 2013 survey by the American Psychological Association (APA) found that excessive stress is extremely common among teenagers, especially during the school year.

Here are some things that cause teens to feel stress overload:

  • school pressure and career decisions
  • dating and friendships
  • pressure to wear certain kinds of clothing, jewelry, or hairstyles
  • pressure to experiment with drugs, alcohol, or sex
  • pressure to be a particular body size or image
  • dealing with cognitive and physical changes of puberty
  • family and peer conflicts
  • being bullied or exposed to violence or sexual harassment
  • crammed schedules, juggling school, sports, after-school activities, and family obligations

With the right tools though, you can learn to manage stress before it takes a toll on your physical and emotional health.

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