Forget Bullying, This Middle School Football Team Changes Lives

No bullyingBullying is a problem for many people and we hear about it a lot on the news. You have it in the schools. You have it online. And it’s not just the puny guy getting bullied. Even the NFL has problems. Sometimes we hear so much negative that we have little hope for society or the future of our children. But then I hear news stories like the video below and my faith in humanity is restored.

The football team at Olivet Middle School in Olivet, Michigan decided to surprise their coaches and teammate, Kevin Orr, by allowing him to score a touchdown. They took the ball as close as they could to the end zone. Then they handed Kevin the ball and protected him from the defensive team so that he could score the goal. Kevin is a special needs student who has found true friends and acceptance among his team. I loved watching this video and how his teammates accepted him for who he was. It is so heartening to see these boys (we’re talking Middle School Boys here) think above and beyond themselves and use their own volition to uplift and help another. Our future is sound with these guys.

Check out the video:

 

New Study: Social Media Enhances the Bond Between Teens and Parents

Parenting teenagers is a challenge and keeping a close and communicative relationship can be difficult. Most parents consistently seek ways to connect with their teens. A new study out of Brigham Young University may be able to help. According to research conducted by Sarah Coyne and Laura Padilla-Walker, teens who interact with their parents through social media such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, feel closer to their parents in real life.

social mediaThe study, which included nearly 500 families and lasted seven years, also noted higher rates of “pro-social” behavior– such as being kind, generous and helpful–in teens who interacted with parents through social media.

It not only allows parents to show interest, affection and support for their teen, but it also gives parents a glimpse into their child’s life. They can see what their kids are posting about or commenting on. Parents can also get to know their children’s friends through social media.

Of course, moderation is important. If you hover over your child, post embarrassing pictures or make snide or snarky comments, it will have the opposite affect.

Some parents may consider social media as something for the “kids” or find it confusing and frustrating, but the more parents are in tune with what their kids are doing, the better relationship they can have with them.

Although this study shows that interaction through social media can enhance relationships, it works better if the relationship is already on good standing. It is not a miracle cure. If your relationship with your teen is suffering, being their friend on Facebook is not going to solve all of your problems. It can, however, be a step in the right direction.

This study also showed that teens who over-use social media (some were using it more than 8 hours a day) were more likely to show aggressive  behavior and depression.

If you really want to be involved in your child’s life, it is important to be media savvy and know what your kids are doing in regard to the internet. Don’t be afraid to learn new technology or websites. Technology is here to stay so use it to your advantage.

To check out a Q&A session with the Lead Study Author, Sarah Coyne, click this link: http://news.byu.edu/archive13-jul-social%20parenting.aspx

Want to Stop Bullying? Try the Sidekicks.

bullyingOctober is National Bullying Prevention Month. As I was searching the web, I came across an interesting article (found here) called, The secret to stopping a bully?

Many times, when providing a solution to bullying, the focus is on the bully or the victim. This article suggests that Bystander Training may be the key. If the bully does not have support or an audience, how likely is he or she to continue the bullying behavior?

Even something as simple as just walking away will deprive the bully of attention, but research shows that most adolescents “standing by” are reluctant or unwilling to intervene. The biggest reason for this is fear–fear of becoming bullied themselves. 

According to the article, studies show that the best kids to approach are those closest to the bully–his or her sidekicks. Their influence above all others can stop the bullying. Most bullies want attention and control. Without the support of friends, the bully has no fuel to continue.

I like this quote attributed to Edmund Burke, a British statesman and philosopher. “All that’s necessary for the forces of evil to win in the world is for enough good men to do nothing.”

I think the same idea applies to bullying. This article has a lot of great information including studies that were performed, comparisons and examples of bullying in the media. Check it out.

The Importance of Touch and Teens

I recently read a great article on www.healthline.com about the importance of touch and teens (check it out here). Physical touch is an important part of all relationships, including parent/child. As our children become teens they tend to decrease in physical affection and it may take extra effort to find ways to have appropriate physical contact with them.

As a parent, I am trying to incorporate daily touch with my children as one of my expressions of love. I have several children that just crave touch, whether it’s rubbing their back or letting them sit on my lap to cuddle. I have a niece that needs physical contact so much that she’ll actually get into people’s personal space just to be in close proximity to them.

I also have two children that are more resistant to physical contact. They roll their eyes when I give them a hug or they just stand there and let me hug them but don’t reciprocate.  I have to remind myself that just because they are not openly affectionate does not mean that they don’t need physical contact. So I make an extra effort to give them a hug, put my arm around them or give them some sort of physical contact during the day.

The article I mentioned above gives some great ideas for providing physical touch to teens who may be less affectionate. One thing that I like to do (since I have a bunch of girls), is to play with their hair by running my fingers through it while watching TV or just braiding it for fun.

I firmly believe that physical touch is a great way to heal, bring comfort and show our love to our children. As the old adage says, “Have you hugged your child today?”

Stressed Out? Relaxation tips for teens and everyone else.

It’s Back to School in many parts of the nation. While some children are beyond excited to get back into school, others can find it very stressful, especially if returning to school means a big change like entering Jr. High or High School.

There are many reasons why a teenager might feel stressed. Perhaps they are dealing with peer pressure or bullying. Lack of sleep, feeling overwhelmed with schoolwork, physical changes associated with puberty, difficulties at home, feelings of self consciousness or worries about the future can all lead to increased stress.

Some of the signs of a stressed teenager could include: depression, irritability, increased attitude, trouble sleeping, changes in eating patterns, anxiety or physical symptoms such as headaches or stomach aches.

Learning how to effectively deal with stress is an important part of living a healthy and productive life.

Relaxation tips for teens and everyone else…

  • Get adequate sleep. When we are overworked or tired, it is difficult to stay positive making little things become big issues. Often, after a full night’s sleep we can view problems with the proper perspective and find solutions easier.
  • Find a hobby or participate in an enjoyable activity. Whether it is a hot bath, reading, listening to music, dancing, cooking or other activity, spending time each day doing something enjoyable can help alleviate stress.
  • Help someone. Find someone in need (it could be something as simple as being a friend) or volunteer in the community. Often when stressed we turn our focus inward. Our problems tend to diminish when we reach out toward others.
  • Laughter is the best medicine. Watch a comedy, listen to a stand up comedian or find someone who makes you laugh.
  • Spending time with friends or having someone to talk to makes all the difference.
  • Exercise is one of the best ways to relieve tension. It could be as simple as going for a walk or jog.
  • Writing your thoughts and feelings down on paper alleviates stress and can also help you see your problems with new perspective.
  • Take a little time each day to separate yourself from the world–find a quiet place away from distractions such as TV, music, movies, Internet, etc. and allow time to sit, breathe deeply and think.
  • Make a list of what is in your control and what is not. Let go of the things you can’t do anything about.
  • Be positive. Look for the things that are going well in your life and give yourself credit for the good things that you are accomplishing.