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Our creative team is always developing and discovering new tools and activities for children and teens to master the everyday emotional challenges of their lives. Check back often to see what's new and how you can help your child.

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January 26th, 2011

Technology: Constant Communication for Kids

Many parents can remember growing up without being in constant contact with their own parents and or peers. Communication was either in person, by telephone, or exchanging notes in school. The limitations of these methods of communication meant that most young people were not in constant contact with others and experienced a good amount of time being alone.

Not so today. Electronic and technical advancements are truly extraordinary and wonderful, but they are life changing. Our young people are able to communicate in a variety of electronic ways. Texting, cell calls, voice mail, email, Facebook, and Twitter, provide non-stop interaction. Children and teens walk down the street talking on the phone, text as they enter and leave school, checking for texts, or going on Facebook multiple times a day. Some even fall asleep secretly chatting or texting on their cells.

What will this do to children? For one thing, they will be different than their parents, especially in their ability to be alone. There may also be more worry and anxiety. Before the advent of electronic communications, young people accepted a certain amount of alone time. Now, children and teens K-12 have an expectation that they MUST be in contact with their peers at all times or feel that something is very wrong with them. Many experience a crisis of confidence if they cannot generate enough communications or if they are electronically bullied or demeaned by their peers. Problem-solving will also suffer as kids don’t have to solve as many problems on their own. Parents and peers are available to help and rescue at a moment’s notice.

Communication is essential for a happy and healthy life, but young people need to feel comfortable not being in constant communication. Parents can help them learn that being alone is OK, that spending some time with yourself, without interacting with others can be valuable and wonderful. It’s a great challenge, but one that can reduce worry, boost confidence and build resilience.

January 21st, 2011

High School Students and Stress: Emotional First-Aid Tools Can Help

Have you had a conversation with a high school student lately? Chances are, the young person may mention how stressed out he or she is. Tension can begin the moment students begin 9th grade, or even at the end of 8th grade as they anticipate their new role as high school students.

Everything counts, they say, and college is mentioned at least 10 times a day. They have to juggle grades, sports, sometimes college level classes, and extra-curricular activities. Navigating the social scene is not an easy task either. All of these pressures mount as an adolescent’s body and mind are being transformed into that of an emerging young adult.

Juniors in high school have their own brand of stress, often feeling as if they are dodging anxiety-ridden requirements for advanced classes and SAT or ACT preparation. Seniors experience significant stress too, especially during application time and when college acceptances and financial aid packages are looming in the background.

The high school experience can wreak havoc on kids’ self-esteem and trigger anxiety in children. High school students not only need to learn chemistry, pre-calc, global history, and answer document-based questions adeptly. They need emotional life tools to stay steady and strong in the face of self-esteem setbacks and mounting worry.

Tool Kits for Kids recognize that time is very valuable for high school students. We have developed two quick yet powerful ways to teach them strong confidence activities and effective anti-anxiety tools. The Charge Up Your Confidence® Tool Kit helps young people deal with imperfection, mistakes, criticism, self-doubt, and embarrassment – all which can derail confidence.
The Outsmart Your Worry Tool Kit for Kids® helps young people think and behave in strong and accurate ways to fend off anxiety – which if not checked, blocks effective performance and interferes with a sense of personal control.

These two emotional first-aid Tool Kits teach essential strategies necessary for success and happiness in the high school years and beyond. Specifically designed for teen’s independent use, the High School/Middle School Edition of the Tool Kits have won prestigious parenting awards.

January 13th, 2011

Tragedy in Tucson: Help Your Child Deal with the Death of Another Child

The recent tragedy in Tucson, Arizona has sparked intense reactions throughout the country and the world. Murder is always abhorrent, but the murder of a child is even more disturbing. Children can often ignore criminal acts when they involve only adults, but when a child is murdered, children are confronted with a reality that is too much for them to understand and tolerate.

Children do not expect to die and they don’t expect other children to die. This is a natural psychological framework that helps them feel secure in the world. When a child is murdered, this framework is shaken and children can be stunned and often feel very threatened. They wonder, Will I die? Could I be murdered too? They may develop other anxiety symptoms, such as trouble falling asleep, nightmares, difficulty separating from their parents, or increased irritability. Parents can play an important role in helping children deal with their child’s reaction to another child’s murder.

First, be there for your children. Make sure you can spend extra time together. Encourage them to talk to you about their feelings and their fears. Try not, to minimize their fears. Instead, reflect them. For example, try NOT to say, Oh, don’t worry, that’s impossible. Nothing will happen to you. Try saying something like, Yes, I know it’s scary. We don’t expect that a child will be killed. It’s very upsetting. You might also add that although it’s not impossible to be murdered, it’s very unlikely. You might also encourage your child to do something positive and constructive, such as organizing the children in class to write a letter of sympathy to the child’s parents.

Finally, be patient and give it time. With your help and understanding, your child will ultimately regain the framework of psychological security that existed before the murder.

January 7th, 2011

Turn SORE SPORTS into GOOD SPORTS

Young people, K-12 are raised in a world that loves competition and reveres winners. This is particularly true in the world of sports. Frequent activities for children and teens include avidly watching marathons, the World Series, championship football, March Madness, and golf matches to see who is The Best. After winning, The Best continue to be adored as they win endorsements for advertisements associated with the best products. Closer to home, athletic children often get big bonuses themselves as they rate high in social competence and popularity.

As a result, performance in competitive sports is closely linked to many kid’s self-esteem. Winners feel wonderful and are respected by their peers. Unfortunately, losers are not. For athletically gifted young people and for those who are able to see positive results from hard work and practice, competitive sports can be a glorious boost to self-esteem But not everyone is gifted and not every child sees high level benefits even if they work hard at improving their athletic skills. When so much value is placed on winning, it is no wonder that many children and teens find it upsetting to lose.

It is difficult for adults to learn to lose gracefully and it is even more difficult for young people. Child confidence can suffer with athletic losses and problematic behaviors may develop. Crying, yelling, name-calling, blaming others for the loss, and moping are a few of the sore sport behaviors which can emerge when kids’ self-esteem is wounded by losing.

It is unlikely that the global attitude towards placing great value on winning will change. The best athletes will be valued and the not so athletically gifted kids must learn to protect their self-esteem. There are countless dimensions in which child and teen self-esteem can be measured, and the world of athletics is only one. Parents want to know what to do to help their child deal with stress and cope with loss when their child is not an athletic winner.

Child confidence is the way to help children manage the stress of athletic loss. Feeling good about oneself is a good stepping stone to learn good sportsmanship behavior. The Charge Up Your Confidence Tool Kit for Kids™ was expressly designed to teach children self-esteem activities which enable them to discover and value their own special and unique qualities. For younger children, the Tool Kit is filled with interactive parent-child activities designed to build confidence. Find Your Hidden Treasures, Good For Me, and Trying Trophy are a few if the many elementary and middle school skills which will help nurture a child’s confidence. Self-esteem activities for teens include Pattern of Positives, Face It, and Effort is Essential.

When kids’ self-esteem is high, they can tolerate losing without feeling badly about themselves. Even though it may feel better to win, children with strong confidence skills are able to enjoy athletics even if they don’t win. Their healthy sense of self-esteem allows them to develop good sportsmanship behaviors. See how the Sore Sport becomes the Good Sport as child confidence grows.