child management

Help is Around the Corner For Your Teen and Their Social Media Addiction

By | February 16th, 2019|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Generally speaking, I like to write my own blogs, it’s what makes me a blogger, right? But sometimes, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. When I came upon this article in Psychology Today I realized I’m tired of reading the same thing with a few words jumbled around. Susan did a great job offering some tools for parents to use with their children. In fact, my thoughts of rewarding with more time with family…already used! So today I’m giving credit to a well-written article. For my readers, if you would like help implementing some of the ideas that you read today in a behavior plan you know how to reach me! www.ourbreakthroughs.com.

13 Parent Assists to Help Children Become Tech-Savvy Users

From phone addiction to Fortnite, how to protect kids from digital missteps.

Posted Feb 06, 2019

Like many lately, my friend Alice’s son is addicted to Fortnite, the video game of the moment. Unsure of what to do, Alice offered her 12-year-old several hundred dollars to abandon Fortnite for a month. He refused without hesitation. So a few weeks later, when I asked a young man in his 20s to explain the sensation to me, he instantly likened Fortnite to “crack.”

For many parents, who might already have to nag their children to put down their phones or log off social media to do homework, this kind of tech dependence—where parents must pry their seemingly bewitched children away—is at a new level of alarming.

In a The Wall Street Journal article about Fortnite, calling it an “unwinnable war,” Betsy Morris wrote: “The last-man-standing video game has grabbed onto American boyhood, pushing aside other pastimes and hobbies and transforming family dynamics.” Even for parents who concede that technology can be powerful learning tools for children, the family conflicts arising from the Fortnite phenomenon or incessant texting are frustrating reminders of what technology has become for users of all ages: a mind-numbing distraction and time suck. Is it possible for families to achieve balance—between raising their children to be savvy and tech literate, but not face developmental harm?

Mountains of research reveal all the ways technology influences children’s and teens’ language skills, their brain development, their social interactions, their sleep and more. Common Sense Media found that 50 percent of teens feel “addicted” to their phones. The Pew Research Center discovered that 59 percent of US teens have been bullied or harassed online. Negative reports make it tricky for parents to find a happy medium and accept technology as beneficial especially when trying to protect their children or simply get their attention.

A Look on the Bright Side

As parents, we are so worried about our children’s addiction to their devices and the negative effects of technology that we overlook the positives. A study in American Psychologist, “The Benefits of Playing Video Games,” concludes that the skills learned while playing video games translate into positive social behavior with friends and family members.

The Family Institute at Northwestern University also shines a brighter light. In a review of numerous findings on digital effects, it found encouraging news for parents: “Several studies have suggested that digital forms of communication do not dictate the quality of interaction and relationships [for children and teenagers]. Rather, the quality of the pre-established relationships often determines what effect using digital forms communication will have.”

Be it developing social skills, fine-tuning time management, or simply learning to use technology wisely, parents have an important role.

Enter Parents

Tech is ubiquitous and a teaching tool used increasingly in schools and for homework assignments. Similarly, texting, Facebook, Instagram and the like are not going away. In spite of excessive hours spent on technology, parents can teach children and teens to strive for balance, to harness technology so they are not harmed by it.

An important caveat: Beginning at very young ages, taking devices away or using screen time as a reward is likely to increase time spent on screens by 20 minutes a day for children age 5 and younger, according to a study in BMC Obesity. The same probably holds true for older children and teens.

Approached with acceptance and understanding, parents can encourage children to be sensible technology “users” in all its forms. Diana Graber, the founder of CyberWise and an International Digital Literacy Advocate, has an approach that will help parents relax. Although technology is relatively new to many parents, kids, on the other hand, have grown up with it, but Graber is confident that we can help our children “build a healthy relationship with technology.”

13 Parent Assists to Help Children Become Tech Savvy

Graber makes these useful suggestions to help build social skills:

  • Teach children and teens to look people in the eye when talking to them.
  • Have consistent, unplugged family time.
  • Set up an email account for younger children and practice writing emails with subject lines, greetings and sign-offs.
  • Engage in kindness online with them: review a book or rate a restaurant you liked; “like” someone’s photo or Facebook post.

Early on, be sure you and your children understand the scope of media and how information can spread far more widely than intended. Graber believes it’s vital for both parents and children to know the meanings of:

  • Social media site
  • Tagging
  • Screenshot
  • Upload
  • Post
  • Drive home the fact that what they put online is very difficult to erase.
  • Be sure they understand who will look at their social media in the future: college admissions personnel; potential employers; prospective dates.
  • Guard your present and future digital reputation by being selective in what you share.
  • Share community service, involvement in a cause, commitment to a project or idea you created.

 

Given the many potholes to avoid, with a small time investment, parents can turn their children into savvy digital users. While the jury is still out and studies on many aspects of kids and technology often produce conflicting results on privacy, time spent on devices, games, and computers, no one can disagree: technology puts knowledge at everyone’s fingertips. Following Diana Graber’s lead goes a long way in calming parents’ many worries.

For more, see Raising Humans in a Digital World: Helping Kids Build a Healthy Relationship with Technology.  

Copyright @2019 by Susan Newman

In other words, “for children and teenagers who already have well-developed social skills, using digital media to interact does not harm their relationships or social development. In contrast, if a child or teenager does not have strong social skills or an in-person social network, that child or teenager should be encouraged to continue exploring ways to build these skills and to balance time towards that goal with their screen time.”An essential lesson to get across is the importance of the digital footprint a child may have left online that will affect her in the future. Graber recommends these reputation-saving lessons: In her book, Raising Humans in a Digital World, she explains the role parents play to assure kids have the skills they need to act responsibly. Parents can guide their children to think critically about how they use technology and what they put out in the world.

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Some Effective Tricks to Say Good Bye to Legos

By | September 8th, 2018|Tags: , , , , , |

When is it time to say goodbye to legos? My sons haven’t played with them in years, they are gathering dust on their shelf and they desperately need the space, and yet I find myself asking again when do we box them up and put them away? I’ve been researching this topic for some time. Projects to do with old lego sets. Revamping old lego sets. Setting up your lego set. Restoring your lego sets, donating, and storing. In this time I realize that I’m putting forth this effort because I’m having a difficult time letting go of a “phase” my children went through. Plus…it has been replaced by the video game phase…and I see no end in sight.
 
The lego phase was fun and creative. It was interactive and required patience and thought. In the end, there was pride in a job well done. There is a large difference between that and now that they have discovered video games. Video games are isolating and often thoughtless. Progress is achieved with a skill that is acquired over time. The time that is spent away from friends and family. Although I limit my children’s video time, I compare it with lego time and miss it greatly. Because video time has to be controlled it often involves arguments and tears. Lego time was endless hours on the floor putting together battleships, dragons, and superhero space stations. The only tears were of frustration when tiny pieces couldn’t be found
 
This is more than saying goodbye to legos and re-structuring family life to involve some independent play time. There have been a lot of phases that I have not given the same thought. Kids grow up so fast. I’ve heard that phrase a lot but today it holds new meaning. Although I don’t find it necessary to eliminate all electronic use in our home, I do have a call for action. I call for more time playing games on the floor, at the table, in the garage…wherever there is space! There is no use crying about the end of a phase if you aren’t going to do something about it! Replace it with something fulfilling. I’m missing the time spent with my children. Done! And as far as my initial question…I guess I’m going to box them up today.
 
Some simple steps:
 
  1. Don’t forget to ask your child – Believe it or not, I started the process of deciding when to store their legos months before asking them. I finally built up the courage and was surprised when my oldest was already on board.
 
  1. Have a plan in mind if your child is resistant. For my younger two we are planning on keeping two or three of their favorites.
 
  1. Decide how to store and stay consistent. Keep them in their sets or color code. Either way, make sure that you keep them in airtight containers. If you are going to go through the process to store them make sure they are usable after you open them again. 
 
  1. There are plenty of projects to do with mix-matched sets. Research books, websites, etc for ideas if you are not ready to store your legos.
 
Breakthrough is a path to many useful parenting tips. Come to visit our website at www.ourbreakthroughs.com
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5 Mind Numbing Steps for Kids Craving Structure

By | September 2nd, 2018|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Children crave structure. They appreciate knowing the rules and how far they can push. It is one of the reasons for learning how to set rules is important. Learning how to set boundaries can be difficult which is especially true when it comes to children; we want them to have more than we did. A parent told me “our generation has ruined it”. We get our kids what they want when they want it. When it comes time to give a gift there is little from which to choose. It is time to set some boundaries! Let’s look at five steps for setting boundaries:

  1. Discover why you are setting a boundary. It is important to have a good understanding of the problem before trying to brainstorm solutions. You may miss your target altogether. 
  2. Explore and identify different solutions to the problem. Depending on your need, come up with as many solutions as possible and generate a list. There are no dumb ideas. Sometimes the whackiest idea (or ideas in combination) make a fun and appropriate solution.
  3. Choose the idea you will use. Don’t be afraid to combine lots of different ideas in setting your boundary. If your “problem” is that your child pesters you for treats at the grocery store, then some ideas might be: avoid taking your child to the store or allow them to accompany you but have them choose to spend their own money.  This combination of options easily becomes: don’t take your child to the store unless he is willing to spend his own money.  Important: Don’t throw away the list just yet. You will probably want to revisit some of your ideas later!
  4. Implement your solution. Using the example above, take your child shopping.  This may appear easier than it is. Make sure to be prepared to allow him to spend his own money. Allow him time to pick the one thing that he can afford. Stick to your guns. Consistency is key.
  5. Evaluate. If your child has stopped pestering you in the store, it appears that your job is done! Congratulations! If, however, they pick their item and begin pestering for more, then make sure you have allowed enough time to implement your solution.  You may need another trip to the store.  If that doesn’t work, then it is time to start from square one and make sure you have identified the right problem. Revisit your solutions and put another one into effect. This can be a long process. The important thing is being consistent once you set a boundary so that you can see what works and what doesn’t.

You may find that you have to go through the steps several times before you get the result that you want. The point to remember is that your child will be better for understanding the boundaries that you are setting.  The time you have together to visit, plan and perhaps the dream will be priceless. 

  For more helpful tips on positive reinforcement and tools to help implement them in your home please visit our website at www.ourbreakthroughs.com

Behavior management games are a fun way to get started. Check out Vlinder on our website. It’s quick and the kids love it!

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Helpful Hints of Healing

By | February 9th, 2018|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

We all haven’t faced the easiest of lives. Unfortunately along for the ride are our little ones. As much as we try to protect them, their experience is undeniably different from that of their friends. It isn’t your fault. You might be able to look back and see things you could have done better, but isn’t that true of everyone? You do the best you can with the hand you’re dealt. As a result, your child may start to display some poor coping strategies and behaviors. There are positive methods that you can do that support your child.

The first step is Acceptance. Accept the idea that your child is acting out because they are getting attention. This is true for many if not most people. During times of trauma, it is easy to overlook everyday events. Traumatic experiences take precedence and events like growing up get overlooked. The need for attention is a result. For some people, this may only go on for a short time and long-term behaviors never emerge. For the child who experienced traumatic events over a longer period of time, they may have started to accept the role that is assigned by adults and peers, i.e., troublemaker, class clown, bully…, etc. 

The second step is to be Available. Now its time for the parent(s) to be available and figure out what activities to do together. It could be something as simple as a card game or making dinner together. Don’t just try to be part of their lives…let them be part of yours. I’m not under any assumption that life has changed for you so dramatically that your calendar has opened up. As your child ages, they are more interested in what you do with your time. Things that you wouldn’t think of might appeal to them, i.e., the gym, your friends, your work. The trip to the grocery store could include a quick stop at the ice cream parlor. A long wait at the DMV could be a chance for them to show you their favorite YouTube video. The point is you have to make time even if it overlaps with your busy day.

The third step is Identity. You can’t shake a role assignment that your child has taken on, it is now part of their identity. However, you can add extracurricular activities to their agenda to help them discover different facets of who they are. Provide them with different groups to support a different role opportunity. Leave leaflets around the house and see which one sparks their interest. No point in pressuring them. Try to make it their idea. Some ideas are art, photography, sports, volunteering, coding, dance…, etc. Your child shouldn’t get the idea that you don’t like their identity or that you want to change them.  Remember these steps are taking care to help your relationship and grow as parent and child. Change is inevitable. 

The fourth step is Reward. Communicate with your child and discover some trouble areas. Identify them and write down positive alternatives to replace negative behaviors. Reward when they are completed. Best to identify the poor coping strategies that have been used such as yelling, hitting, ignoring, slamming, lying…, etc. If your child has experienced a lot of trauma it is best for them to experience reward on a more frequent basis until there is a level of trust. (Using a game like Vlinder, www.ourbreakthroughs.com is helpful in having some consistency and structure in your reward system.)

The fifth step is Celebrate. Look back at all you have accomplished. Go out to dinner and celebrate that you are working on your relationship and that you have made it all the way through the five steps! Think about how far you have come. Before you started you hadn’t accepted that your child needed attention and you weren’t looking at being available in a way that involved you both opening up your lives to one another. By recognizing your child’s assigned identity you opened up avenues for your child to re-invent themselves. Finally by talking about your child’s problem area’s and rewarding positive behaviors you have reinforced your expectations.

These steps should not take the place of counseling or medical attention if needed. There are different levels of trauma and we all experience them differently. I advocate for families that want to work on their family relationships and provide many tools to help them do so including Vlinder and Consultations. www.ourbreakthroughs.com

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The Safety Parent

By | January 3rd, 2018|Tags: , , , , , , |

A long time ago I had a scary conversation about child predators and how to keep our children safe. The talk progressed sharing fear-based stories heard on the news, internet and via word of mouth. We naturally helped each other as each tale got more difficult to fathom. It followed with good parenting advice on how to prepare children for such a potentially horrible world. What hit me later is that I don’t want my kids to grow up fearful. I want to instill confidence.

At the time my own fears were getting in the way. The avoidance method was in full effect. Around the same time, my oldest son had an interaction with two separate men at the grocery store. One made him very uncomfortable so he stayed clear. Another was a homeless man and they shared a special interaction. One that I would have robbed him of had I been around. I’m proud of him and I don’t have advice on how to make it safer. It was time to review how I parent, the rules of safety, and make decisions that have long-term benefits for my children.

When I think of what I want my children to be I think of words like outgoing, adventuresome, kind, brave, intelligent, and confident. I don’t think of weary or even aware. There is a question that looms over my assertion. How do you keep your children safe?

The best I can do is feed their intelligence by watching the news and discussing stories as needed. As a family, we work on confidence and self-esteem with self-defense or martial arts. We inspire adventure with travel, imagination, and books. I have had to come to peace with the fact that as ready as I think I am, there is always the unknown that I am not prepared for.

There are many strategies that can be used to nurture a personality trait. As the parent, you decide which actions you take, even when if it is no action there are outcomes. If you read my blogs, you know that I am a proponent of parenting with intention. I proffer that after reading this you look at what you want for your kids with regard to their safety and decide if your actions are helping or hurting them get where they need to be.

The biggest lesson in this part of the journey was learning that I have to continue to work on my own fears. Fear is a strong emotion and impacts the decision-making process in a profound way. Children look to us for our strength and guidance. Making sure that I have enough energy saved up to offer what is needed is my goal, my mission, my work.

Thank you for reading. There is more available at www.ourbreakthroughs.com. Come visit to learn more about what Breakthrough, LLC has to offer. We invite feedback. This is a great place to start a conversation.

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Vlinder Elf Tips

By | December 12th, 2017|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

It’s that time of year when parents get a couple of extra hands to keep an on eye on things. I’m talking about the elves. I appreciate using the little guys and gals to help bring some order into the home. There are a few things to keep in mind to make sure that this is helping your quest to maintain long term change and not adding additional stressors to your kiddos. It’s a nice break having Santa’s naughty and nice list as a motivator but since we know you aren’t going to send a present back to the North Pole we need to keep it real.

Some children are more prone to anxiety than others. You are feeding that by suggesting that they may not get the gifts if they don’t perform. Careful how much power you give the elves and remember not to put into jeopardy that which will not be taken away. This tradition is meant to be fun.

Using the elves to create order in your home is a type of reward system. Depending on when the elves show up at your house, the reward takes a long time to get there. One way to manage this is by setting up other forms of positive reinforcement. Rewards are not always presents and candy. Some ideas are sitting at the table with mom or dad to write a letter to a loved one, special one on one time or tons of kudos and high fives! Be clear why the reward has been earned if you want to see it repeated.

Finally, if you use your elf for behavior management then please remember that they, the elves, also “see” the positive behavior. Allow your kiddos time to reflect on the positive reports that the elves will be reporting to Santa.  Personal pride goes a long way.

If you have any questions or suggestions for today’s entry please contact us on our website, www.ourbreakthroughs.com. We love visitors and invite you take a look around while you are there. If you would like to sign up for our free newsletter there is a form provided on the home page. Happy Holidays!

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Vlinder Reward Cards

By | December 5th, 2017|Tags: , , , , , |

Happy Holidays,

November was the month of gratitude. Now December is our chance to give back! Our gift to you is a set of Vlinder Reward Cards. All you have to pay is shipping.

    • What if I own Vlinder? You can have a second set for yourself or share with a friend!
    • What will I do with cards if I don’t have a game? There are two things you can do!
          1. Purchase the Vlinder Task Sheets. We will make sure you get a set of instructions!
          2. Gain access to the Interactive Task Sheet app. This makes your Vlinder experience 100% customizable! Plus you never have to worry about where to get your refills!
    • Can I transfer my gift to a friend? Just tell us where to send the cards and we will make sure that they get there.

However you choose to use the Reward Cards, they are yours free of charge

Our goal at Breakthrough is to make a difference in the homes of families just like yours. 

To qualify for your Vlinder Reward Cards all you have to do is sign up for the newsletter by the end of December. The instructions will follow.

Happy Holidays!

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Why Does Vlinder Work? Behavior Management

By | September 2nd, 2017|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Good question! Something that I, as the creator, should be able to explain to you.

For those that have never read my blogs…Vlinder is a behavior management game or program that uses positive reinforcement to reward clearly set expectations. For more information visit the website.

This is not about how to play or even how it works…this is about WHY it works. The ABC’s of behavior management rests on three aspects: antecedents, behaviors and consequences. Antecedents are events that occur before behaviors present themselves. If a child doesn’t have a good meal, didn’t get enough sleep, and got news that they weren’t going to their friends house then those are the antecedents to the temper tantrum that followed. The tantrum is the behavior that you are trying to discourage. Parents generally have a built in consequence for poor behaviors which can be anything from avoidance to a time-out or even worse.

Taking this example and using Vlinder means that you set the expectations before the antecedents have a chance to impact behavior. Clearly the child is in no shape for a play date. Expectations are set for what is reasonable for them to achieve the goal either later in that day or the next day. What can they do to earn this time? Have a rest or eat more breakfast? Complete some of their morning responsibilities. Note that in this example they are not losing their playdate…they are working towards it. You have gotten the same result without a tantrum.

That is the simple explanation of why Vlinder works. We looked at the ABC’s of behavior management and we took control at “A” (antecedents).

There are times of the day that are typically more stressful than others. If you use Vlinder to structure time you will be amazed at how much smoother time will play out. Not only will you have more cooperation but you will have more time for yourself as your players know what they have to do…as their expectations have already been laid out for them.

As with any behavior management program, results will vary. I am the first to admit that the first couple of times that you try this new approach it can be confusing for your child and a tantrum may still follow. Habits are hard to break. As they come to see that you follow through with your promises they will begin to work hard. Stay positive as you see them trying. When they question just acknowledge that this is not earning their “stamps” (part of the game) to go to their play date.

For more parenting tips or information on using positive reinforcement visit my website at www.ourbreakthroughs.com!

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My Kid is a Liar

By | July 4th, 2017|Tags: , , , , , , |

I can still remember the look on my child’s face when he got caught in his first lie. It was the perfect mixture of defiance and embarrassment with neither behavior wanting to make an appearance. He wasn’t sure how to face the disappointment he had caused yet desperately wanted to find a loophole out of the situation. It was a hard lesson that day and it wasn’t the last. The fact is kids start “lying” for a variety of reasons and it isn’t until they are older that it starts to become deliberate and something that needs an intentional intervention.

There is no question that lying is a learned and even accepted behavior when growing up. I expect preschoolers enjoy believing their favorite Disney character lives somewhere in their world. I also expect they enjoy sharing their make believe adventures. Even as our kiddos get older and blame their make believe friends for spilled milk, somehow the sweetness of the story allows us to give the lesson to the friend, letting our kiddo off the hook.

I’m not saying that any of this is wrong! It is just important to understand that your kid is not inherently bad because they started lying about things that are suddenly more important in your eyes. Now it is time for your kiddo to start learning the value of telling the truth. This lesson deserves the same consistency that their previous lessons in lying received.

It is important to understand what your motivation is. In this case it is for your child to tell the truth. If your motivation is for your child to stop lying then you will be looking for and expecting poor behavior. It is not as powerful a message. Trust me…look for the positive, you and your child will be happier.

Next you want to set up a reward system. What are some of the behaviors that will show that they are telling the truth? The most obvious is a daily honesty reward. This would be on the honor system. Another could be what I call an ownership reward. There isn’t a day that goes by that my kids can’t take ownership of starting an argument, leaving clothing, etc. Finally I love creating a leadership reward. This reward is earned by showing leadership skills around the house and family.

The rewards are recognition stamps or stickers for a job well done. Its up to you to decide how many need to be earned to earn a larger reward. It is important for your child to work for something they want. If you have weekly goals and rewards then make them smaller. If you want to work towards a friend movie party, let him work at it for a while.

If you have more questions about setting up a reward system visit my website at www.ourbreakthroughs.com. You can also reach out to me at jenn@ourbreakthroughs.com 

This is a good blog to help you understand the difference between a bribe and a reward.

Barriers to Communication

By | May 11th, 2017|Tags: , , , , , , , |

We go through life doing our best to be understood. But lets face it, it can be difficult. So many people coming from so many different walks of life. Each person having their own experience filter which has the ability to distort a message. The best we can do is be aware of the challenges of effective communication and do our part. As parents we do a little more by teaching our kids.

Communication is a skill. Spoken communication relies on three personal factors. First, self-concept, which impacts how you organize your world, which in turn affects how you communicate. Second, the ability to give information clearly and finally being able to listen effectively. Without understanding a message communication cannot take place.

These eight barriers to communication impact all three of the above personal factors. As you read through the list think about how often you are the donor or the recipient. Later you can think about how you can do it differently.

1. Perception and interpretation  It is not possible for two people to experience the same thing the same way. We all come from different genetics, backgrounds, education, experience, etc which all impact the way we take and interpret information.

2. Generalizations and bias  We are used to seeing things a certain way and it takes effort to open our minds.

3. Jumping to conclusions  We often get to the outcome before we have been given all of the facts.

4. Assumptions  The idea that perceptions are unique is all but ignored when someone presumes that others thoughts are like their own.

5. Multiple meanings  All messages can have different meanings when viewed from different angles or different perspectives.

6. Dilution  A message loses its intended meaning the more interpretations or people it passes through.

7. Message sent, but not received  This is a selective listener, picking and choosing parts of the message that they want to hear but filtering out the rest.

8. Physical barriers   These are all of the physical and verbal barriers around you every day; noise, delays in transmissions, length of message, restrictions in asking questions, and/or the attractiveness of the message.

We have just touched on some basic difficulties in communication. Look forward to more blogs on communication in the near future. For now take these common barriers and see what you can do differently in your own style to make a difference in the way you hold a conversation with others. In particular the way you speak with your kids. I know I perceive things differently then they do and I certainly jump to conclusions when I hear something crash!

For more information please visit www.ourbreakthroughs.com. I would love to hear your comments.

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