Saturday, March 22, 2008

Tips on talking to your teen boy about sex

As parents we need to have the sex talk with our children, both boys and girls as early as possible. This way they will hopefully have a good idea of what sex is, what is ok and not ok, and the consequences like pregnancy, Aids and other STD’s. We cannot stop our teens from wanting sex, or even having sex. All we can do is try to make sure they make the best possible informed decisions.

Time goes by so quickly. We meant to have that all important sex talk but the time never seemed right. All of a sudden our little boy is a teen boy and we have to find some way to talk to him about sex. There are a lot of ways to open up a conversation about sex with teen boys. Here are some tips on talking to your teen boy about sex.

The first hair shows up, the typical sign of the onset of puberty. This is a great time to talk about hormones and body changes. This can lead right into the sex talk. “Now that you are becoming a man you are going to want to have sex so it is time we talked about it.” “You are a man now, you are going to have some questions about sex. Now is a good time to talk with you about it.” Talk about what his “parts” do and what they are for. The how and why people have sex as well as the consequences of having sex. Such as pregnancy and STD’s.

There is always some good looking girl or woman on TV, in movies, and video games. Ask your teen boy if he finds her attractive. Then ask what he finds attractive in girls or women. What “feelings” he has and what he would like to do, like hug her or kiss her. This opens up what sex is, what the feelings are and what is and is not ok, how you treat a lady, i.e. no means no.

There are always talk shows on teen sex and the consequences and even on how to talk with your teen about sex. Montel Williams and Dr. Phil usually have at least a few every year. Watch them with your teen boy. Talk about the topic of the show. Use the questions the show opens up.
Teen boys get erections all the time. You can open the conversation by talking about how best to hid them in public; what types of pants to wear and other strategies to avoid embarrassment in public. This is a great way to find out what else your teen boy may have questions about.

Teen boys also start having ejaculations in their sleep, wet dream. This is a great opening to talk about what an ejaculation is and then talk about sex. This is a good time to talk about the issue of having unintentional ejaculation when reacting to stimuli’s, i.e. a pretty girl is talking to you. This can be very embarrassing and teen boys need an idea of what to do when it happens, or a strategy to avoid it from happening.

Buy a box of condoms and use a cucumber to demonstrate how to properly use condoms. This lets you talk about sex, safe sex, STD’s, contraception and hopefully find out what sex myths you son might believe. Myths like clingwrap around the penise works just as well as a condom. This also opens the door to questions like, “What do the different condoms do”, “What condom do girls like best”, “How do you know when to make the first move”

It is not important the way you open the conversation, as long as you have the conversation and give real honest answers. Find out what your son already knows or thinks he knows. If you don’t know what misinformation your son has you cannot let him know the truth. You need to talk about sex, how good it feels, when is the right time, how to control the urge, how to react when a girl says “no”, and how to have control over your body not the other way around. Think about all the things you wish you had known about sex at his age and talk with him about it.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Setting boundaries for your children's free time

I have had to set boundaries for my children’s free time. If I did not use a timer when my son is on the computer he would be on it all day. I need to use a timer so that he knows when his time is up, he has no idea how much time passes when he is playing. Using the computer started as a way for him to learn and to help with his hand eye coordination. The next thing I know is that I have a four-year-old computer addict. He will give up just about anything for computer time. I use it as a treat or a reward, some thing to be earned not a right.

As my children get older I am going to have to make sure they have a balanced life. To do so I will have to put limits on computer and TV time and make sure they play outside with other kids. I have already decided that my children will not have a TV, computer or phone in their rooms. That will all be in the living room. That way I have more control over when they use them and what they use them for.

I will be enrolling them into after school and summer programs so that they socialize and do some type of activity. I, like any other parent, want to give my kids all the opportunities that I did not have. At this point it is open to what programs they will go into. I want to make sure it is some thing they like. I can only give them the opportunities to do things; I cannot make them participate. Swimming, baseball, gymnastics and dance all seem to be high on my son’s list right now, so we will try those first.

I know that my children are going to have great demands on their time when they start school. They will have less free time and will want to spend it doing what they love the most, be it computer games or playing sports. As an adult it is very easy for me to become caught up in a book, game or TV show, how can I expect my children to be any different? I need to give them boundaries, balance until they are able to create their own boundaries. At the same time I need to make sure I don’t limit them so much that they rebel and find other ways to get the TV or computer time they want.

I have some great ideas from talking with parents of older children. Now only time will tell how they will work on my kids. Homework must be done before I let them watch TV or play games. I need to give them a choice of games, computer ones, handheld ones, ones played on the TV and board games. I want the games to be ones that the family can all play, so there is some family time involved. Arts, crafts and music are all very important and I need to give them access to create or enjoy them. The best way is for me to do things with them, not just put some paper and pens on the table and tell them to keep busy. The one thing that seems to stand out the most, no matter what activities I expose my children to, is that I need to participate with them. My involvement as a parent is more important then the actual activity.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Security blanket: Key to baby sleeping all night?

No a security blanket can aid a baby sleeping all night but it is not what will get your baby to sleep. There are several things that you need to help your baby develop good sleeping habits, consistency and routines. The most important thing you need is consistency. This is very important, being consistent allows a child to anticipate or know what is going to happen next. This reduces anxiety and stress and will increases the feeling of safety in the child.

So what do you need to keep consistent? Bed time and bed time routines. Do the same things at the same time in the same order every night. If you do that then the child knows what is coming next and knows what is expected from them. So you may have bath, toothbrush, bed clothing, story, sleep time. You may also want to see who is training whom. If your child wakes up a half hour after you put them to bed every night, and you pick them up and rock them for 10 minutes, guess what, it is part of their bedtime routine. It is just not part of the bedtime routine you made.

It is much harder to break bad bedtime routines then it is to establish good ones in the first place. That means every one involved has to be on the same page, all care givers. If you have a routine and some one is not fallowing it this can cause problems. Every one needs to know what the routine is and do it. It is work to establish the routine, and then remain consistent. As a new parent you will find you have to give up a lot of “your” time to get the routine working. You give up TV shows, couple time, and just about any thing you can think up. It is worth putting the time into establishing a routine and being consistent with it. It is much harder to have to break the bad bedtime habits so do the hard work now so you can have peace latter. Please note that as your child gets older the routine will need to have some changes but your and your child will work that out when the time comes.

The security blanket is just part of the routine. It also can make transitions easer. It is just a tool though, not the solution. Can they help yes, but only as long as you have a set routine and are consistent with it. There are a lot of things that can be added to a bedtime routine that can help your child go to sleep. Warm milk before brushing teeth, warm bath with lavender, soft music playing on the radio, a foot rub, or a nightlight can all help. Each child is different so you will have to find out what works with yours. Just do not expect a special toy or blanket to suddenly make bedtime easer or no longer stressful.

Here are a few tricks I learned;
1) Have the child or children turn the TV or video game off and keep it off during the bedtime routine.
2) Have the child clean up their toys and put them to bed (away), it makes it easer for them to stop playing and get ready for bed. It is a way to help with the transition.
3) Give a non-sugary snack just before toothbrush; this gets rid of the “I am hungry” at bedtime. If they still say that you can say – “No you are not, you just had a snack” and not feel guilty for putting your kid to bed hungry.
4) Have a cup of water with a lid on it already by the bed. Thirsty, fine have a drink.
5) Read a book with your child or children at bedtime, this will usually give them some Mom/Dad time and let them calm down for bed.
6) Have a little light or nightlight so they are not afraid of the dark.
7) Do a monster check with your child before they get into their bed.
8) Let them know were you will be, such as in the living room, so they are reassured that you will be around if they need you. It is a small thing, but it helps.
9) The hardest thing to do is to let them cry. As long as they are not hurt, or sick, or need to go to the bathroom, let them cry. Reassure them that you are in the home; don’t yell at them as that always makes it worse.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Starting the big sex talk dialog when your kid is a three year old

Now talking about sex to your three year old is not going to be the same as if she/he was eight, thirteen, or eighteen. But it is a good place to start and get some things out of the way. It makes it easer to have the bigger talks when they are older. It lets both of you become comfortable with the idea of talking about it and actually having the conversation. The other part is that three year olds need to know some things.

It is a sad thing to say, but for some people a three year old is a sex object and they will prey on them. It is good to let your children know what is ok to touch or have touched as soon as possible. It is also important that children know the real names of their parts so that if some one does touch them then they can say, “So and So put his hand on my vagina”, instead of “he rubbed my kitty.” This is one of the biggest problems police have is that kids use slang words that their parents taught them to use. The police don’t know if the kid means that some one actually touched their penis or vagina or did they touch the kids pet cat, or bird.

So how do you start a conversation about sex with a three year old, and what do you talk to them about?

1) When potty training use the correct term for their bits, penis or vagina. I tend to use the word bum though, not anise. I started when I was changing their diapers, I would tell them I was cleaning their bum, or that is your penis or vagina. It is a very simple thing to do, and to be blunt what is the point of using some made up name or word; it is just going to confuse the kids latter on. It is funny because my three year old keeps saying it is her penis, and I have to keep reminding her that she has a vagina because she is a girl and that boys have a penis.

2) It is also easy to use potty time to mention that their bum and penis or vagina is their private area. This makes it easer for you to let them know that you have private areas as well and that your child needs to tell you if some one is touching your child on their private areas, or asking your child to look at or touch their private areas. Rule of thumb is that if your underwear covers it then it is a private area.

I have asked my three year old and four year old about if anyone has touched them. I was told that the daycare person was cleaning that area when my three year old went in the diaper or potty. She told me, she understood the concept of someone touching that area was something I needed to know. Now I completely expected that answer and have no concerns about the daycare workers as long as that is what her answer is. My 4 year old is expected to clean himself at daycare so if he told me someone was touching him on his private areas then we have a problem.

Today when he used the potty, I asked him for the first time if anyone has asked him to touch his or her private parts. He said no, and we talked about how he should say “No”. He is the one that came up with “No thank you, that’s yucky” and now he knows to tell me about it. It will take some time to get it to the point were he knows to tell everyone who will listen that “so and so” tried to get him to touch their private parts or tried to touch his. But the conversation has already started.

3) Bath time is also a great time to make sure you talk to your kids about what are the names of their parts and what are private parts. This is really great as you get them to wash. We have a story where our kids wash their toes and up to their heads. We go over each body part, and the kids wash. We always leave the private parts last, partly because it helps teach kids not to wash their bum and then their face, but to wash their bum last. It also re-enforces the names of their parts and what is ok and not ok. Like it is ok for them to wash them, but someone else should not be touching them.

4) Today in a public bathroom my daughter noticed a dispenser for pads and tampons. She asked what it was. I told her that it was a dispenser for pads and tampons that women use when on their periods. That was good enough for her, she was happy with that answer. I was happy that she asked and I was able to mention to her for the first time about pads, tampons and period. I know that over the years more opportunities will come and I will use them every chance I get. Especially if my kids open the conversation.

By talking with them now I am creating the groundwork for some real conversations latter on. If I don’t get them comfortable about talking to me now, why should they feel comfortable about talking to me about this type of stuff latter. The same goes for me, if I cannot become comfortable about talking to them about something as simple as what their body parts are called, how can I ever have a real talk about sex and every thing that comes with it with them.

I have to admit that part of the “this is a private part/area” conversation came about because my then two year old started hitting me on my breast and hit her dad in the “jewels” so we started using “no touch that is my private area” in self-defence. She still got a time out for hitting, but she also learned that there are some parts on Mom and Dad that she cannot just reach out and grab or hit. That is just as important for kids to know that as it is for them to know others should not be touching them in the same areas.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Teenager's reality - Would you like to ge a teenager again?

Would you like to be a teenager again? People today see teenager’s lives as being carefree and with out any real responsibilities. That is not reality. Today’s teenager does not live in the same world we their parents grew up in. Teenagers have huge demands on them, placed on them by others, for their time, energy and attention. Teenagers have as much if not more stress in their lives then adults. When we were in high school we would receive 2 to 3 hrs worth of homework. Today on average each teacher gives one hour of homework, which works out to be between 6 to 8 hrs of homework every night. That is like having two full time jobs. So not only do you have tons of work to do and not so much time, you have to do it well. You need to do well in school to be able to pass, apply for college or university, get scholarships.

Then you add employment into the mix. Most teenagers have jobs these days. It may be part-time or full-time but it is still a job, with every thing that goes along with it. Teenagers are not being treated as kids at work, they are employees and have the same expectations and responsibilities placed on them as any other employee. Just because it is in a fast food restaurant, or in a retail store does not mean that they are working any less then we do. They have the same stress and frustrations at their work as any one else. Being a teenager does not make it any easer to do the job, or make your self go to work. To be blunt, teenagers get some of the crummiest jobs because no one else will do them for the pay they get. Oh, and its not all fun and games with the paycheque either. Teenagers for the most part are not working so they can buy the $400.00 pair of shoes or go party with friends. They are working to pay for college, or university because they know that their parents cannot pay for it and it is not easy to get a scholarship. Or they have bills like car payments, insurance and some times rent, food and clothing. In some cases they are working to help out the family.

Now some kids are blessed with talent and can try to get scholarships. To do so they have to participate in extra curricular activities so they are well rounded. There is more demands on their time and energy, remember they have to compete for scholarships. If you are going for a sports, music, science, or any type of scholarship then you need to be putting the time into that area or activity. You have to be the best at what ever you do. How many hours a day do you have to put into being the best, be it as an individual or as part of a team. That is a lot of stress to put on some one.

Sound life a carefree life with out responsibilities yet? So we understand that teenagers are already under a lot of stress meeting the demands of school and work. Lets look at the expectations of parents and family responsibilities. We expect the teens to do well at school and get a job to pay for the things they want. What other expectations are we putting on our teens. They are expected be home at specific times, like meal and bed time. They are expected to get their homework done, and help around the home, baby sit their brothers and sisters. To take on some responsibilities at home like making dinner or cleaning up. They need to spend time with family, be it just Friday night movie night, or Grandmothers Birthday. They have to fit their schedule around the expectations of their parents and family. It is not like they do any thing but talk on the phone, play video games or hang out with their friends, right, that is what teens do. Why can’t they do what I want them to do when I want them to do it? The teen is just being a teen and is rebelling or just does not appreciate every thing I have done for them right. It could not be that they are tired or any thing like that. Right.

We think that all teens do is socializing with their friends. They always seem to be on the phone, talking or texting, or on the computer chatting, or out with their friends. The truth is that socializing and dating is a very important part of being a teenager. It is an important part of their development. They need to find some time to socialize. It is very hard to find the time with every thing else going on in their lives. So yes talking at school, the bus, on the phone, emails are ways to socialize that fit their high demand life style. You socialize wherever you can. Teens today have more demands on them then the average adult. They have teachers, employers, parents and their friends all demanding their time and attention. So your teen wants to relax with a few friends over, watch some TV, play a video game, let them. They need to distress even more then we do.

Still think it would be fun to be a teenager again? When you take a real look at the demands and expectations being placed on teens it is easy to see why they feel overwhelmed, burn out, give up or turn to drugs and alcohol to deal with it. As parents it is our job to make it easer on our kids. We need to understand the whole picture of what our teens are going through. Think about what you can do to help relieve some of the stress and demands on your kids now that you have an idea of what they are going through.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Your teen wants to be a in the fashion industry, now what.

To a teenager the fashion industry looks like it is fun and glamorous to work in, with the chance to rub elbows with stars or even become famous. If your teen enjoys fashion and would like a career in the industry there are lot of options for them to look at. The best thing to do is take a real look at the fashion industry and the careers in it. A lot of teens dream of being a clothing designer because they know how to sew and they love to make changes to clothing, or they just have great fashion sense. The problem with that is very few people have the talent, education and luck to become top of the line designers, or to have a successful clothing line; fashion is a business like any other business.

You teenager should understand that there are a lot more careers within the fashion industry then designer. There seems to be three main areas with in the fashion industry, designing, marketing, or buyer. Each one has a completely different set of skill sets, and education requirements. So your teenager can make fashion by creating the clothing, or tell everyone what is fashionable with marketing or decide what is going to be available in the stores as a buyer. All of this requires someone in touch with current trends and great fashion understanding.

Once your teen has a realistic view of the fashion industry and an idea of what they want to do then your going to look at different schools. Find out what they offer, what is the schools reputation with in the industry, and what is the success rate is for job placement, what schools work with your budget and what are the requirements your teen has to meet to be able to go to the school. You may want to look at location of the school. New York is the US centre for fashion so it makes sense that most of the best opportunities within the fashion industry would be in New York. Under the same logic some New York fashion schools would have an advantage over ones not located in New York. The contacts and opportunities alone could make a difference.

A fashion school in New York may have some advantages because of its location. It is just one of those things you need to look at when you are checking out what options your teenager has and what is actually going to be important to their career. No matter what career a person picks what school they go to can have a big impact on how well they do. You need to find the best one for your teen that fits your budget. Having the right fit can make the difference of successfully completing school or dropping out. It is just as important to put the time into finding the right educational path for an individual going into fashion as it is for someone going into law, science, acting, or anything actually. When it comes to fashion schools New York comes to mind, but there are local schools that may meet your teenager’s needs just as well, or better. It is all about doing your research about what your teen will need for success and what schools will give that to your teen.