Back-to-School Tips

Back to schoolPicking out backpacks, shopping for clothes, and stocking up on paper and pencils are a tell-tale sign that school is coming. For some, the new school year begins this week. Whether you have a kindergartner or a senior, the American Academy of Pediatrics offers the following tips to help ensure a terrific school year.

Making the First Day Easier
• Remind your child that there are probably a lot of students who are uneasy about the first day of school. Teachers know that students are anxious and will make an extra effort to make sure everyone feels as comfortable as possible.
• Point out the positive aspects of starting school: It will be fun! She’ll see old friends and meet new ones. Refresh her positive memories about previous years, when she may have returned home after the first day with high spirits because she had a good time.
• Find another child in the neighborhood with whom your child can walk to school or ride on the bus.
• If you feel it is appropriate, drive your child (or walk with her) to school and pick her up on the first day.

Bullying
Bullying can be physical, verbal or social. It can happen at school, on the playground, on the school bus, in the neighborhood, over the Internet, or through mobile devices like cell phones.

If your child is bullied:
• Help your child learn how to respond by teaching your child how to:
1. Look the bully in the eye.
2. Stand tall and stay calm in a difficult situation.
3. Walk away.
• Teach your child how to say in a firm voice:
1. “I don’t like what you are doing.”
2. “Please do not talk to me like that.”
3. “Why would you say that?”
• Teach your child when and how to ask for help.
• Encourage your child to make friends with other children.
• Support activities that interest your child.
• Alert school officials to the problems and work with them on solutions.
• Make sure an adult who knows about the bullying can watch out for your child’s safety and well-being when you cannot be there.
• Monitor your child’s social media or texting interactions so you can identify problems before they get out of hand.

If your child is the bully:
• Be sure your child knows that bullying is never OK.
• Set firm and consistent limits on your child’s aggressive behavior.
• Be a positive role model. Show children they can get what they want without teasing, threatening or hurting someone.
• Use effective, non-physical discipline, such as loss of privileges.
• Develop practical solutions with the school principal, teachers, counselors and parents of the children your child has bullied.

If your child is a bystander:
• Tell your child not to cheer on or even quietly watch bullying.
• Encourage your child to tell a trusted adult about the bullying.
• Help your child support other children who may be bullied. Encourage your child to include these children in activities.
• Encourage your child to join with others in telling bullies to stop.

Developing Good Homework Skills
• Create an environment that is conducive to doing homework. Youngsters need a permanent work space in their bedrooms or another part of the home that is quiet, without distractions, and promotes study.
• Schedule ample time for homework.
• Establish a household rule that the TV set stays off during homework time.
• Supervise computer and Internet use.
• Be available to answer questions and offer assistance, but never do a child’s homework for her.
• Take steps to help alleviate eye fatigue, neck fatigue and brain fatigue while studying. It may be helpful to close the books for a few minutes, stretch, and take a break periodically when it will not be too disruptive.
• If your child is struggling with a particular subject, and you aren’t able to help her yourself, a tutor can be a good solution. Talk it over with your child’s teacher first.
• Some children need help organizing their homework.  Checklists, timers, and parental supervision can help  overcome homework problems.

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Tips to Help Prevent Hazing at Your Child’s School

Despite the increased awareness on bullying, and similar behaviors such as hazing, harassment and stalking, incidents of these activities continue to affect children and young adults across the nation, with a hazing incident just reported recently at a local Los Angeles high school.

Hazing is defined as the use of embarrassing and often dangerous or illegal activities by a person or group to initiate new members – and is against the law in many states. Many of these activities or rituals occur on or near school campuses and can include forced alcohol or other substance use, physical abuse, being tied up or abandoned, demeaning treatment and ridicule.

Here are a few steps to help prevent hazing on your child’s team or school campus.

Encourage Responsible Leaders – Ensure that your child’s school or team plans for, develops, and works with positive, proactive leaders who will not plan or permit hazing in any form.

Discuss Your Views on Hazing – Meet with your child’s school officials, coaches and/or local leaders to learn more about the school’s policies, and discuss your views on hazing. Partner with these leaders on a hazing/bullying prevention plan and ensure that everyone is accountable.

Install a Big Brother/Sister System on the Team – If your child is involved in sports, encourage coaches to pair up younger athletes or newcomers with veteran athletes to watch out for and mentor them in their new environment.

Report Hazing Incidents – Report any incident of hazing immediately. Let your child know that he can come to you or another trusted adult if they anticipate or experience any incident of hazing. Talk openly with your child, reminding him that you have zero tolerance for this behavior and are there to help him, should he, or anyone at his school, experience this. Just like with bullying, assure your child that he or she is not at fault should he experience any form of hazing, and the attacker’s behavior is the problem. Assure them that they will not be a “tattle” by reporting an incident, instead he will be helping the situation.

Model Positive Behaviors – Help your kids understand the meaning of respect and tolerance by modeling friendly, caring behavior and showing how friends, family and peers act positively toward each other.

For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources website.

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Dealing with Bullies

Hopefully your child’s back-to-school routine doesn’t include a bully! Occasionally, friends and classmates may tease each other in a fun, friendly and mutual manner.  But when teasing becomes hurtful, unkind and constant, it crosses the line into bullying. And that needs to stop.

If you suspect your child is being bullied, or she approaches you about the subject, here’s some simple advice you can offer her for improving the situation:

• Tell an adult.  Teachers, school staff, parents, and volunteers at school can all help stop bullying.

• Use the buddy system and avoid the bully.  Stick to your friends to ensure you’re never alone with the bully.

• Hold the anger.  It’s natural to get upset, but getting a reaction out of you will only encourage the bully to continue the behavior.  Practice “cool down” strategies, such as counting to 10, taking deep breaths or walking away.

• Act brave, walk away and ignore the bully.  Firmly and clearly tell the bully to stop, and then walk away.  Ignore hurtful remarks.  By ignoring the bully, you’re showing you don’t care, and hopefully the bully will get bored with bothering you.

Make sure your child continues to talk to you about the situation.  Help her understand that she is not to blame.  The bully is the one behaving badly, not her. Try to lessen the impact of bullying at home, by encouraging her to get together with friends, join clubs, or participate in sports.  Find activities that can help your child feel confident and strong.

And, lastly, let her know that together you’ll find a solution.

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Cyberbullying: Tips Parents Should Know

With the nation’s recent focus on bullying, there are a lot of great tools and resources out there, such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ “Stop Bullying Now!”website, which parents can take advantage of to inform themselves and their families about this unsettling epidemic.

Cyberbullying, in particular, has been a focus with more and more kids using social networking as a way to interact and communicate. As a fierce advocate for the health and well being of children, CHOC offers some great tips on Cyberbullying for parents. Check it out here: http://www.choc.org/publications/articles.cfm?id=P00303&pub=KH&aid=397

Also, check out this article on what parents can do to protect their kids by setting rules for media moderation: http://www.choc.org/publications/articles.cfm?id=P00303&pub=KH&aid=552

Leave us a comment and let us know what your family or school is doing to tackle this important issue.