Children

Tips On Finding Summer Programs For Children

Summer is here and the yearly dilemma for parents can be what to with the children. Many single parents rely on school and after care while they are at work. When school is not in session, this can be a challenge. Non-profits can offer summer programs at low cost to fill this gap. An accountant mentioned that summer programs can be eligible for a “Child independent care credit” when a working parent has an income. This means that some of the money spent on programs counts as child care for a tax break.

A rabbi whom I interviewed, suggested calling one’s local synagogue or Jewish Community Center (JCC) to see what is being offered for children. She said that there were sleep-away camps, particularly in the Northeast. A woman at the JCC, said in larger communities there are day programs. The JCC can also be a resource for what else is available where one resides. The Protestants and Catholics have Vacation Bible School which gives parents a break when they need some child care.

There are non-religious options, such as The Boys and Girls Clubs. The one I contacted charges $700 for the entire summer or $350/month. This is all day sessions which includes food and many activities. Local community colleges and recreation centers have their own programs which can be a little less than other day camps. There are programs for special interests, such as chess camp, with a low fee so that all can attend. These people do it for the love of chess (or whatever it is) and to get youngsters excited about it too.

Summer provides the chance to take advantage of the special family events around town. Go to street fairs and festivals to enjoy the lively atmosphere, music and great food. This is almost like being on vacation in Greece, Africa or other exotic locales. Many parks have concerts which is a nice opportunity to have a picnic with the kids. Some cities show movies outside with food carts nearby. Play tourist in your own city. It is amazing how many people have not been to museums, the planetarium, zoo or other attractions right on their own door step. Go to a larger metropolis nearby or the countryside for a change of scenery. There is an artist colony on the periphery of our city. My sons and I feel as if we have been on vacation after browsing through the offbeat shops and indulging on homemade ice cream plus other treats.

Get away, whether it is to the shore, lakeside cabin or a farm nearby. My mother took me to Wildwood, New Jersey every summer. Swimming in the ocean and walking along the boardwalk created lasting memories for me. When parents and other relatives live out of town, going for a visit can be an affordable adventure. There are new places for the kids to discover. My sons were thrilled to visit a farm near the city where my mother lived. The tractor and fabulous milkshakes were an extra bonus. They picked blueberries and strawberries which is not possible on their home turf. What may seem like a mundane activity to you can be a unique experience for your child.

Some single parents send their children to their parents for a chunk of the summer and use that time to work extra hours. They accumulate more time off to spend with their youngsters upon their return. Or, when their offspring is with the other parent, they put in overtime and have more days off with the little ones. My mother sent me to sleep away camp for several weeks every summer and worked during that period. I had a blast and she was off when I was home. Camps can be pricy, so perhaps make them a special treat and not the main course for their summer break.

A young teenager may be too old for summer programs and too young for employment. Parents in this case recommended a membership to the local pool or recreation center. This gets them out of the house and interacting with others. Some children’s museums and other program invite this age group to be a junior intern and entertain the young campers. My sons did the summer reading programs at our library with other activities, such as magic shows. Young teens were on hand to make this program a success. These individuals can be volunteers for various charities during their summer break. My sons volunteered with a cat rescue group and that encouraged me to become one too.

Make the most of each moment during the summer, because one day your little ones will be in their twenties just as my sons are now.

My article was originally printed in DivorceForce   https://www.divorceforce.com/   Affected by Divorce? Join DivorceForce, the online community committed to empowering those affected by divorce. Many helpful articles for those facing divorce.   @divorceforce (Twitter)

Ways To Help Children Cope With A Difficult Parent

Dealing with a difficult parent

Children need support when a parent is bitter and vindictive post-divorce. The mum or dad may have a personality disorder and are incapable of parenting in a nurturing way. When a difficult parent takes centre stage and the youngsters treated as bit players, it is important to explain that it is not their fault. Children need to know that when indifference is shown or caustic remarks overheard, it is the parent’s issue, and not them causing it. When a parent is toxic, kids can be quick to blame themselves. It is a balancing act to get support for your children while at the same time not making disparaging remarks yourself about their other parent. Give children extra cuddles and attention. Let then know that they are loveable. Point out their talents and strengths as one way to build up self-esteem which may have been affected by being around negativity.

Discuss various strategies on how to deal with problems in an uncomfortable situation

My sons got angry hearing nasty comments about me, from their father and his mother. There were ways to handle it, such as by using “I statements.” “I don’t want to hear…..” Other ideas were they could quickly change the subject or walk away to somewhere else. The boys had specific actions which helped them to feel more empowered.

Supportive people

Have a neutral third party available who can listen to the children’s concerns when time spent with a toxic parent is not going well. My sons reported this continual situation to their therapist and to the court appointed mediator, who was overseeing shared time post-divorce. This situation did improve slightly when their father realized that professionals were looking over his shoulder. Supervised visitation or at a Children’s Contact Centre may be warranted, when a parent is using the children to get back at the other one. If children do not feel safe, then visitation is not productive.

Connections

When it is hard to deal a parent out for revenge, my older son suggested connecting to a Higher Power – whatever is in your belief system. Singing in the choir and spirituality gave him support from something outside of himself. Divorce support groups for children help them to realize that they are not alone. Connections with others, such as through sports or after school activities lead to positive experiences.

Volunteering

Volunteering takes the focus off your child’s situation. One teenager felt appreciated when taking care of cats who depended upon him at a rescue charity. It increased his self-worth when he felt needed. Another teen was a chess coach at a primary school. Watching the youngsters become enthusiastic about chess under his guidance was gratifying. Being called “The chess god” was a nice bonus. Both of these fellows had a rough time with a parent post-divorce, and volunteering helped life to be happier.

Life is about balance

We may be stressed by divorce and have a serious outlook. Children require fun, especially when going through tough periods. They need play and some unstructured time for creative pursuits. Take them to the park, the beach, to a festival or whatever your family enjoys. Kids will get through dealing with a difficult parent easier, when the other one is relaxed and full of fun. That is how my sons made it through their stressful situation. We watched comedies, took holidays, gave back to others through volunteering and maintained connections to people. Make sure to take care of yourself, so that you have the energy to be there for your children.

This article was originally published in The Divorce Magazine  https://www.thedivorcemagazine.co.uk/

Teaching Teens to Love Themselves From the Inside Out

girl-1848477_960_720Teens, and especially teenage girls, often suffer with body image issues brought on by multitude of factors. According to the Mayo Clinic, these can include puberty-induced weight gain and media portrayal of the ideal female body.

A healthy body image is vital for overall physical and mental health and development. As a parent, you will play an important role in helping your child learn to love themselves and to be comfortable in their body. It starts with loving yourself. After all, your children will learn their behaviors from you, and if you constantly express dissatisfaction with your own body, how are they to learn to love theirs?

Talking about body image  

While it may be uncomfortable, you must realize that, as your teen is developing physically, they are also becoming more aware of their own sexuality. This is where most body image issues begin. Talk to your children about the changes that will happen as they exit childhood and begin to experience puberty. Weight gain is a normal part of this process. It is not uncommon, however, for young children to display signs of having a negative body image. This is especially true of kids who display characteristics of self-criticism and perfectionism.

Social media messages  

Media, especially social media, is full of other people’s opinions on the perfect body. And since teenagers are spending more and more time in front of the screen, they begin to believe that the unrealistically thin Instagram model they follow exhibits the only possible traits associated with beauty. When social media impacts a child’s body image, it may be time to unplug. Monitor your child’s Internet usage and, if possible, limit her exposure to those platforms that make her question her physique.

Boys have body image issues, too  

The Atlantic recently featured an editorial on body image issues in boys. Don’t overlook your son and his struggles with self-esteem. Unlike girls, boys tend to focus on gaining weight, specifically muscle mass. Another body image issue for young men is the constant struggle to display masculinity.

The dark side of the quest for perfection  

Body image issues can trigger a host of other problems for teenagers. These include depression and social anxiety and may turn in to Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), a mental health condition characterized by distress over a particular aspect of the body. Tara Well, Ph.D. goes into greater detail on BDD in this Psychology Today post. Concerns over body image can also trigger eating disorders. There are many different types of eating disorder. The most common are anorexia and bulimia. Warning signs of these include weight fluctuations, extreme weight loss and avoiding social situations that revolve around food. If you suspect an eating disorder, pay close attention to your teen’s behavior. If he or she disappears or regularly visits the bathroom after eating, this could be a sign of purging (intentional vomiting in an effort reduce the amount of calories consumed).

If you suspect an eating disorder it’s imperative to get help immediately. Unhealthy eating habits can cause cardiovascular issues, slowed digestion, constipation, and neurological disorders. The National Eating Disorder Association also reports that eating disorders can wreak havoc on the body’s endocrine system, resulting in lowered levels of vital hormones such as testosterone, estrogen and those that control the thyroid.

Embracing diversity  

Finally, your children should be taught to embrace diversity. Remind them that the world is comprised of people from all walks of life. People come in all shapes, sizes and personalities. Each individual has their own strengths and weaknesses that shape who they are. Help teens find those things that make them unique.

Body image issues don’t have to ruin your teen’s life. Help him or her learn to love their body, and you’ll set them on a path toward a healthy future.

Author of this article, Tilda Moore, researches and writes about educational resources for openeducators.org. She is passionate about helping parents and teachers in providing kids with the best education possible. She works directly with teachers and other public education groups to ensure they are working toward our vision of constructing a reliable database of verified information