Monday, 21 December 2009

Change Your Daughter's Body Image by Changing Your Own

How often have you mentioned that you'd like to shed a few pounds? Especially during this holiday season where parties, hors d'ouvres and special treats abound - how many times have you said, "I'd better not have another cookie" or had one and mentioned what it'll probably do to your less-than-desirable waistline?

I don't consider myself to be overweight, but there have been times when I've mentioned the probable effects of one too many scoops of ice cream on my thighs. Or how I wouldn't mind fitting in some of my college-era jeans again. Yes, I've said it, and perhaps my daughter was listening. But what effect does it have? According to a book by author Dara Chadwick, plenty.

"You'd Be So Pretty If...: Teaching Our Daughters to Love Their Bodies - Even When We Don't Love Our Own" is Chadwick's book about how a mother's ideas about her own body can seriously effect a daughter's image of her own. The former Shape magazine columnist uses her own experiences growing up and other girls she interviewed to form the basis of her book, which starts out:

"I grew up listening to my mom bemoan everything from the size of her thighs to the shape of her eyes. So you can imagine my dismay the first time someone exclaimed, 'You look just like your mother!'

I don't really remember my own mother making any negative comments about her own body. However, I do remember her going on a diet of sorts. And going tanning. And using wrinkle cream (sorry, mom, but it's true!) So I guess I might have grown up with the sense that I needed to be rigorous in keeping up my appearance. That lines and spots and grays and a little extra bulges that come with aging should be combated and thwarted for as long as possible. There are probably whole courses taught at universities about how to market this anti-agism to promote beauty products. But the media's impact on girls' image of themselves is a whole other matter. Besides, they say the voice that has the biggest impact on one's developing body image is a mother's.

As Chadwick's site states, the book is really a how-to guide on "breaking the mother-daughter cycle of bad body image." That if you have been making negative statements about yourself, that it's important to change the conversation you have about body image with your daughter, even if your image of your own body is far from perfect. Despite what peers or the media says about a woman's body, what you say could be the most important opinion for your daughter to hear; the one that makes the deepest and longest-lasting impression. Her book is available at many independent booksellers, Borders and

Erin Boudreau is the founder of, and online retailer of positive and inspiring clothes for girls.

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Friday, 11 December 2009

Practical Advice for Parenting Teenagers

Parenting teenagers is full of extremes. There are great joys while parenting teenagers and also great disappointments. The teen years are a time when the child is slowly separating themselves from their parent's tight hold and parents need to realize this. Each child needs to gradually be weaned off the total parental control into a world of adulthood. This can be a difficult experience but also an exciting one. As a parent, one has been working to prepare his child for adulthood and now the goal is about to be achieved. A parent needs to celebrate the teenagers step towards independence while continuing to provide a safety net.

Preparing for Parenting a Teenager

As a child begins to celebrate double digit birthdays the parent must begin preparing for parenting a teenager. One thing that can help to make the future easier is to find interests for the child to be involved in. Some children are very sports motivated; being involved in team sports is a great experience for the teenager and will help to keep the child involved in wholesome activities. The parent needs to be involved with this area of the child's life. Attending the games and showing interest will be very important.

Another great thing for the child to get involved in is a church youth group. Teenagers will have questions regarding their spiritual life. Having a well founded spiritual leader and group outside the home will help both the parent and the teenager throughout the teen years. There are other appropriate activities for the teen years. These include scouting, choir, band, dance, gymnastics, fishing, camping and many other activities. Parents need to get involved with their child in some activity before the teen years begin. This will keep the teenager involved in good activities as they begin to pull away from the parents.

A Team Approach to Parenting Teenagers

In a two parent family it will be important for the parents to be united in their approach to parenting a teenager. Parents need to plan and discuss the expectations for the teenager. Even if there are areas of disagreement between the parents, the teenager needs to see a united front. If the teenager see the parents in open disagreement this may cause confusion and rebellion. Parents need to work together for the benefit of the teenager.

If the parents are separated or divorced, differences need to be put aside for the benefit of the child. The world offers too many options for teenagers today. The parents must be united in the morals, values, and attitudes they want the teenager to uphold. Most teenagers will still rebel somewhat but this can prevent major rebellion. If the home is a single parent home, without the support of a second parent, the single parent should seek the support of a grandparent or other relative or friend. It is good to have someone supporting the very important decisions which need to be made while parenting a teenager.

Source: Free Articles

Gift Ideas for Teenagers

If you've ever tried to buy gifts for teenagers, you've probably run into a common problem: Teenagers are hard to buy for!

Buying gifts for teenagers is difficult. Each one has their own tastes and style, and some are influenced by popular culture while others aren't. So the first step in figuring out what kind of gifts to buy for teenagers, is to find out a bit about the teenager. If that fails though, here are 5 gift ideas that tend to go over well with almost any of them.

1. MP3 Player - Music players are popular. And they're useful too. Now some teenagers might turn their nose up at any MP3 player that isn't an iPod, but many others would be thrilled to have one if they don't yet already.

Try finding one that gets radio broadcasts in addition to playing MP3s, that way they'll have some variety when they're tired of listening to the same songs over and over. Also try getting an MP3 player that doesn't require extra cords. Those could be lost in a teenager's room. Many MP3 players are made to simply plug into a USB port, and those seem to be the most convenient.

2. Sunglasses - While this might seem a bit cliche or obvious to some, sunglasses are always popular. They're still considered "cool" and with the wide variety of styles these days... one is sure to be a hit with either boys or girls.

3. Wallet/Purse - Another someone obvious gift idea that's often overlooked. Teenagers are starting to carry money, personal papers and misc other things. They may have wallets and/or purses already, but they may not have great quality or the style they want. So try a nice leather wallet gift for boy's, and maybe a designer purse for a girl.

4. Games - This is a very broad gift idea, and the type of game you get will depend quite a bit on the teenager you're buying for. Most teenagers love computer games. Some also adore strategic board games though, and many like card games too. The card games we're talking about for teenagers might not be the kind adults think of though. Many teenager like card games that involve collectible cards. Magic and Yu-Gi-Oh are two examples of popular strategic card games which involve collectible cards.

5. Cell Phone/Top Up Card - Some teenagers have cell phones already, but many still don't. Their parents either don't want, or can't afford to have a two year phone contract. And teenagers talk. Alot. Thus having regular cell phones can create outrageous bills due to time limit restrictions on regular cell phones.

An excellent alternative - and a gift any teenager will adore you for - is to buy them a pre-paid cell phone. And if they already have one of those, the gift idea becomes extremely easy: Just buy them a "top up" card! The top up cards allow them to add minutes to their pre-paid phone, and can be bought at most major stores for as little as $20.

Source: Free Articles

Monday, 7 December 2009

Is Teenage Smoking On The Rise - Why Is It Harder For Teens To Quit Smoking?

When I last visited our local shopping centre I could not believe the number of teenage smokers. I'm sure some of them were no older than twelve. Where are we going wrong with our youth?

There has always been peer group pressure with teenage smoking, they want to keep up with their friends and if its cool for their friends to be smoking then it's cool for them as well. And we can't ignore the fact that a lot of teenagers come from homes where at least one parent is a smoker. It gives them a feeling of being older than their years, it kind of empowers them, but unfortunately, not always in a good way. Teenage smokers are often more aggressive and disrespectful to others, particularly older people. In some cases because it's considered a forbidden activity by teachers and parents, it becomes the forbidden fruit that they just have to try, satisfying the rebellious streak that's quite normal in many teenagers.

There are huge amounts of money spent on anti smoking campaigns but even so it's still estimated that every minute thousands of teenagers will take there first puff on a cigarette. How many of those will become addicted, smoke for most of their life and become another health statistic. Whith the benefit of modern day media coverage, you would think that teenage smoking would be falling not increasing as the figures are currently showing. What do we have to do to make them see the light.

There is no doubt that smoking with groups of friends has a social aspect to it, that was seen in the cigar bars and certain clubs, but thankfully has now lost it's attraction for most of the community. It was said it encouraged conversation and companionship, even the tea break at work was often referred to as the smoko break where smokers would do there best to finish a whole cigarette in the short time they had. But when you weigh up the social aspects against the health issues, it would seem obvious which should win out. But until we can get the message across in a better way, one that teenagers can identify with, then the battle for the health of our future adults is yet to be won.

Teenager's smokers also have a unique problem should they decide they no longer want to smoke. The friends they hang out with who continue to smoke may ridicule and poke fun at them. This can be very difficult for teenagers as they are at stage in their lives where they need to be accepted but at the same time can also be emotionally sensitive. Parents need to keep this in mind when offering support and encouragement to their teens.

Don't let your children's health be compromised, make sure they are fully informed of the health effects of smoking before they get hooked.

You can find more free information on teenage smoking and it's effects by visiting a very useful web site dedicated to helping smokers beat the habit.

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How To Tell If Your Breath Stinks!!!

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Tips for Parents of Teenagers: Don't Just Survive - Thrive!

What makes parenting so challenging at times? One widespread research study reports that feeling “unprepared” tops the list for many parents’ causes of dissatisfaction. And parents of teenagers, in particular, may feel this acutely as so many changes converge at once: adolescents are changing in every conceivable way while they often push parents away in their search for individuality. That this often happens during parents’ own mid-life changes only adds to the poignancy of this period in a family’s life.

So how can parents prepare for this dynamic journey? Here are some tips:

Learn about adolescent development

You probably read about babies before your first child was born. You had a pretty fair idea about developmental time frames – when he would see you in focus, when she would begin to crawl, etc. Adolescents are, in many ways, changing as dramatically as they were as small babies – and yet many parents don’t make the time to learn about what is happening developmentally to their teenager. Information and knowledge will shed light on this puzzle, and it will enhance your understanding and your ability to provide support.

Here’s an example: Teenagers may look like adults, but they are not. Their brains are still under development, which causes them to be more impulsive, more spontaneous and developmentally not ready to foresee the consequences of their actions. Knowing this - and knowing that developmentally they are not ready for certain levels of responsibility- can help you better manage your expectations and your relationship.

Put YOU into the equation

The issues that really get intense for parents aren’t always about the teenager – sometimes, parental issues are at the heart of the situation, and adults need to be able to separate this out and view the situation objectively. Remember, you are changing and developing too, and redefining the nature of your relationship with your teenager can bring up issues for you. It is imperative that parents examine themselves, their behavior, objectives and beliefs in the context of their family dynamics.

It is too easy to be habitual in our responses to children. Yet, you can see the growth and changes that are occurring with your teenagers – they are changing in dramatic ways. It stands to reason, then, that parents need to examine the rules, roles and relationships to make sure they’re adjusting for all this change. That requires self-examination.

Talk to your peers

Many parents find themselves feeling alone, and in their alone-ness they lose the ability to see the similarities in their experiences with those of other parents. There is so much you can gain by talking to other people in the same situation you are in. In sharing with others you gain additional perspective, and you are likely to see things in a new light. You may find others who have walked your road and who found other, or better, ways to address similar situations. Allow yourself to learn from them. Develop these friendships and make time to connect with them. Think of it as your own support network where “getting prepared” is one of the beneficial outcomes.

Find the humor

Have you ever noticed how humor can make tension instantly melt away? Some parents just tend to take things too seriously. Consciously look for the humor in situations because it allows you to create an environment of lightness and an attitude where communication is likely to be enhanced. Used appropriately, humor is a tool and a friend.

Take care of yourself

Sacrificing yourself to your children’s needs serves nobody – certainly not you, and it actually does a disservice to kids. They benefit from seeing parents as strong, fulfilled individuals who take good care of themselves, and you need nothing less if you are to thrive and grow.

Dr. Laurence Steinberg in his book Crossing Paths; How Your Child’s Adolescence Triggers Your Own Crisis says that the parents who thrive during their child’s adolescence have genuine and fulfilling interests outside of their parenting role. There is room for family life and career or other outside interests, and those who thrive are people who have both in balance.

Be open to learn from others.

Every day parents are given opportunities to prepare and to learn to be better as parents. Yet many times adults squander the opportunities put in front of us. It’s easy to criticize how others handle situations with their teenagers, but if instead, you ask the question “what would I do in that situation?” you can create opportunities to prepare yourself for what you may face. Parents of teenagers are likely to find themselves in situations that are unpredictable. Sometimes kids do crazy things. But if you get in the habit of promoting open-mindedness, and of asking questions and getting facts before you react, you will behave in ways that don’t embarrass you during a time of crisis. Parents can develop their own strategies by asking themselves “what would I do?”

Get involved in your child’s school life and social life
Some parents pull away from their kids during adolescence. Granted, this may seem like what your teen is asking for, but it’s not. The character of your involvement may change during this time, but by all means stay connected in meaningful ways. One big way is to know your child’s friends. This not only brings pleasure into your life, but it allows you to know more about your child, and from a different perspective.

There’s a lot about this stage in a family’s life that can create pressure and challenges. Probably only a few escape without a scar or two. It is also a time that is ripe with opportunities for growth for parents - so don’t be left behind. There is opportunity for you to thrive as you grow, too.

Sue Blaney
Copyright 2004

Sue Blaney is the author of Please Stop the Rollercoaster! How Parents of Teenagers Can Smooth Out the Ride and Practical Tips for Parents of Young Teens; What You Can Do to Enhance Your Child’s Middle School Years. As a communications professional and the parent of two teenagers, she speaks frequently to parents and schools about parenting issues, improving communications and creating parent discussion groups. Visit our website at

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Thursday, 3 December 2009

Why Don't Children Use Their Imaginations Anymore & What to Do About It

It wasn't too long ago that you would find children in the streets, yards, and sidewalks of neighborhoods pretending to be famous athletes, princesses, dinosaur hunters, moms playing house, or soldiers at war. Why is this not the case any longer? Unfortunately, the reality is that:

- There is an increased emphasis on early academics

- Physical and sexual predators have become far too common place

- People generally have become less social and neighborly

- After school programs consume too much of our children's time

- TV, cell phones, internet, and video games certainly don't help

- And there is an increased amount of constant supervision of children in urban environments

It is widely known among Child Development professionals that 'creative play' is necessary to form the foundation of intellectual, emotional, social, physical, and creative abilities necessary as children grow and develop. While is it obvious that the mediums of TV, movies, and the internet can certainly be a source of much good and education, the reality is most people use them simply as 'baby-sitters' rather than constructive tools. And yet, despite the (limited) pros of such mediums, the 'creative play' element is still missing due to the fact that the majority of time spent in front of a TV, computer, or video game is idle, materialistic, uneducational, unproductive, non-interactive, and certainly immorally influencing.

Thus, the question is - what can we as parents proactively do about this? Let me suggest a few helpful tips that if implemented and consistently acted upon over time, will result in the emotional, intellectual, physical, and social health of your child.

- Resist the temptation to just turn on the TV when the children are acting up or full of energy. Learn how to appropriately convert the child's natural energy into 'creative play' rather than allowing the idle entertainment from the world to 'baby-sit.'

- Participate in and be involved in your child's imaginative and creative play. If that means that you need to be the bad guy who gets caught, the prince who marries the princess, or the horse running in the field (living room), than do it.

- Take them outside! Leave the room with the TV or video games and just go outside - children instinctively have an ability to use their imaginations to have fun - and it is usually outdoors that this ability is heightened.

- Read to your children - and do it often! A child who learns to read and who is read to will not only be intellectually far better off, but will develop their creative abilities and not be as dependent upon the TV or video games to be entertained.

- Play Games together as a family and with your children. Rather than turning on a movie or playing a video game - play games together. Learn to interact. Use the time to talk, laugh, and just have fun together. Ideally, play games that help a child develop their ability to use their imagination and be creative.

- Be the example! It is important to have rules for how much/little a child can watch TV, but if Daddy/Mommy don't lead by example, it is extremely difficult to implement those rules. Translation - this may mean that Daddy/Mommy need to develop their ability of 'creative play' so that when they (or their kids) want to just turn on the TV, they all can work together on using their imagination, playing games, and having fun together.

Being a good parent requires effort, sacrifice, patience, creativity, and even using your imagination and being immature at times. Providing food and shelter, education and entertainment, and clothing and toys... it isn't enough. What children desire and need most is attention, love, interaction, laughter, and time with parents who love them. Unfortunately, the majority of parents spend a huge portion of that time with children in front of the TV watching a show or a movie. Turning off the TV a little more should not only be done to increase the imaginations of our children, but more importantly, to strengthen relationships and bring families together to participate in fun and wholesome entertainment.

Matt is the founder of - a website full of helpful parenting advice, fun games and activities, traditions and holiday ideas, and tips and articles for families everywhere. Matt is also the author of: "Great Games! 175 Games & Activities for Families, Groups, & Children." To view the book and learn more, visit:

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