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Parents: To help kids thrive, encourage these four aspects of life
Pocono Record (Stroudsburg, PA) - 2/28/2014
Feb. 28--Parenting is not for wimps -- especially when it comes to motivating children.
Four areas are critical to keeping kids on track: building good homework habits, developing physical fitness, dealing with problems rationally and managing money.
The homework battle
As a parent, it's difficult not to become invested in a child's success in school.
"We know as adults and parents, one way to success is a solid education," said Debbie Pincus, author, licensed counselor and founder of the Relationship Center in Larchmont, N.Y. "Kids need to buy into the value of doing well."
But parents face a daunting task.
"It's hard to make homework appealing," said Bill Simonovich, a guidance counselor at Stroudsburg High School.
Students are constantly bombarded by information from cellphones and other electronic devices, causing distractions from homework.
Simonovich advised setting aside a specific time to sit down with your child and talk about the consequences of unfinished or sloppy homework.
"Deciding what the consequences will be -- whether it's no computer for a specific length of time or no television -- the parent has to enforce the rule," he said.
When the student learns a homework routine, it will become easier, but you need to be the adult, Pincus said.
The National Education Association advises parents to help the child relate the assignments to the child's existing skills. For example, if your child, who loves soccer, is working on addition problems, show him how his team's goals added up in the last game.
Also, use examples of how learning from homework will help them later in life.
At the secondary school level, try to impress upon the student that doing homework can lead to greater academic achievement.
"Parents need to encourage and praise their child, because everyone likes to know they are doing a good job," Simonovich said.
"As a parent, you can help shape your child's attitudes and behaviors toward physical activity," said Janet Fulton, Ph.D., of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Encourage young people to be physically active for one hour or more each day with activities ranging from informal, active play to organized sports, she said.
Many physical activities fall under more than one type of activity.
"This makes it possible for your child to do two or even three types of physical activity in one day," Fulton said.
For example, she said, "if your daughter is on a basketball team and practices with her teammates every day, she is not only doing vigorous-intensity aerobic activity but also bone strengthening."
As a parent, you should be setting a positive example by leading an active lifestyle yourself, she said.
"Make physical activity part of your family's daily routine by taking family walks or playing active games together -- and most important, make it fun."
Talk over problems
Some days, keeping the peace while keeping your cool seems almost impossible.
One of the most important things to keep in mind is to know when to take a step back, Simonovich said.
"It can be very difficult not get into a verbal back-and-forth with your child," he said.
When you get into this kind of debate, it can only go badly.
"Get up, walk away, go do something else and tell your child (that) when everyone is calmed down, the conversation will resume," Simonovich said.
"Remember, reacting to your child's temper flare-up and how you, as a parent, manage your own anger, is the best example," he said.
Responsible with money
Starting when children are young, each time they see you spend money or use the ATM, they are building an understanding of what money is, said Paul Richard, spokesman for the National Parent Teacher Association.
Over time, you'll see that, through everyday conversations and fun activities, you can help your child grow up to make good financial decisions, he said.
"Everyday spending decisions can have a far more negative impact on children's financial futures than any investment decisions parents may ever make," Richard said.
Parents need to take an active role in providing youngsters with information on how to spend wisely, he said.
"Communicate with children as they grow and talk to them about your values concerning money -- how to save it, how to make it grow and, most importantly, how to spend it wisely," he said.
Setting goals is fundamental to learning the value of money and saving.
Every toy or other item children ask their parents to buy can become the object of a goal-setting session.
"Such goal setting helps children learn to become responsible for themselves," Richard said.
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