″Quality time ″ means putting extra effort into the time you have with your child. But quality doesn′t mean rare. Real quality time should be an everyday event. Make your child your priority. Don′t let yourself get so busy that she gets only the ″leftover ″ you. Include your child in your daily tasks. And make time every day for fun, laughter and enjoying each other.
Playing word games can develop children′s thinking and reading skills and pass time on a long drive. On your next car trip, ask your child to spot objects that begin with each letter of the alphabet, in order. Or take turns naming a word that begins with the last sound of the previous word (cat-toy-oyster). Or start with a short word and take turns changing one letter to make a new word (cat-bat-bad-bed).
It′s important that children learn to take responsibility for their own homework. When they do, they learn not only the subject matter, but also important life lessons such as perseverance, time management and initiative. When your child fulfills his homework responsibilities, he learns that he can handle things himself. Remember, it′s not your homework.
It′s great to have high expectations for your child. But if she rarely meets them, it may not be her fault. It′s also important that your expectations be realistic. To evaluate them, consider questions such as: Why do I have this expectation? Where did it come from? What purpose does it serve? Is it based on my child′s needs, or mine? Is it appropriate for a child this age? Consult with the teacher if you are in doubt.
Sometimes conversations with children can be frustrating. ″What did you do in school today? ″ you ask. ″Nothing, ″ your child replies. Don′t give up! Try asking specific questions, such as ″What was the best part of your day? ″ or ″What are you studying in science? ″ Sometimes it works just to say, ″What do you want to talk about? ″ You might be surprised by your child′s answer!
If your child has trouble waking up in the morning, encourage him to read before going to sleep. Then set his alarm clock for a half-hour earlier in the morning. When he wakes, your child can continue reading where he left off. After waking up slowly and reading a bit, he may come to breakfast alert and with a cheerful attitude.
Here′s a game to play to build your child′s ability to follow directions: Hide a small prize, such as a coin. Then tell your child all the directions she needs to find it. Before she sets off, have her repeat the directions, then close her eyes and picture following each step. Start simply, by giving only two or three directions. Increase the complexity of the directions as she improves.
Start now to help your teen make a smooth transition from secondary school to college. Whether she′s a middle schooler, a freshman or a senior, she will benefit from writing down her goals and how she plans to accomplish them. Help her think of the strengths she can draw on, and the obstacles that she might encounter on the way. To support her efforts, encourage her to take a study skills course over the summer.
Your young teen may be ready to learn complex material, but he may not be emotionally ready to handle upsetting current events. To help him cope, stay nearby as he watches or reads the news. Ask him what he thinks about it. Steer him toward reliable media sources you trust, and offer to answer his questions or talk about concerns. Be sure to call your teen′s attention to good news, too.
Collecting gives your teen a chance to be an expert
You may think that your teen′s figurines, comic books or foreign coins are nothing more than clutter. But collecting has benefits that can pay off in school. Collecting requires your teen to notice details and find patterns. If she enjoys her collection, encourage her to read to find out more. Becoming an expert on the items she collects can give her confidence in her learning abilities.
Adolescents often believe their parents never listen to them. It can make them stop talking to their parents. To really listen to your teen, avoid these common traps: Focusing on what you are going to say next. Hearing only what you want to hear. Letting your mind wander. Comparing your teen to others. Belittling your teen′s concerns. Agreeing with your teen just to be nice or avoid conflict.
Respond right away to signs of drugs or alcohol use
If you discover your teen has been using drugs or alcohol, act fast to stop the abuse. Have a long talk with your teen. Remind him that his actions are illegal. If there is a history of substance abuse in your family, explain that it means added risk for him. Let your teen know you will be watching him closely. Don′t just drop the issue. Whenever the subject of drugs and alcohol comes up, repeat your views and rules.
At home and at school, teens are making the transition from being taken care of to taking care of themselves. Compromise can be an effective way to help your teen achieve her desires and fulfill her responsibilities. You might say, for example, ″I know you want to go to a movie on Saturday evening. I can agree to that if you agree to study for two hours on Saturday afternoon. ″
Teens are notorious for sleeping late, even on school days. One of the best ways to keep mornings on schedule is to change other parts of the day. For example, encourage your teen to study earlier in the day instead of late into the night. Set a consistent nighttime routine, and chat with her about her day and any problems she′s having. She′ll be more relaxed, and more likely to get the sleep she needs to wake up on time.