Monday, August 31, 2009

Sue Scheff: Do you know what Google is saying about you?


Do you know what lurks online?


Internet Safety has become a priority concern for many parents. Whether you are worried about predators online, or your child’s social networking; don’t forget about your child’s (especially teens) virtual image.


Today more and more colleges and employers are using your name or your child’s name in a “Google Search Box.” They may use other search engines, but Google seems to be the trend and most frequently used.


Years ago I woke up to find myself in the middle of a Cyber-War that I literally thought was simply a nightmare and what I was seeing/reading online had to be a mistake.
It wasn’t! If you can imagine the most horrible things being said about you, including sexual innuendos, anti-semantic remarks, and worse, you will be living what I went through.


My never before told story is finally told in my upcoming book, Google Bomb, The Untold Story of the $11.3M Verdict That Changed the Way We Use the Internet (Health Communications, Inc. September 2009). People that have reviewed this book are simply stunned, shocked and amazed what can happen to you if you are not aware of your online presence or have a cyberstalker.


Google Bomb will not only go behind the scenes of my 2+ year court battle that vindicated me with a landmark $11.3M jury verdict for damages done to me online (Internet Defamation and Invasion of Privacy), it will also offer you practical guidance. Have you been slimed online?
What does this have to do with parenting? Your child will be applying to colleges someday, or filling out job applications. Are they aware of what Google is saying about them? For that matter, do you know what Google is saying about you?


Remember, it can take 20 years to build a solid reputation about you, and only 20 minutes for it to be destroyed with evil keystrokes. Whether you have a disgruntled client, a friend turned foe or a relative that didn’t like the reading of a will – you need to be prepared to protect your cyber profile.


From students to teachers, lawyers to landscapers, truck drivers to doctors, stay-at-home moms to career women, teens to grandparents – no one is immune to what lurks online.
For more info: Google Bomb Book, Sue Scheff, Amazon, ReputationDefender Blog, Wit's End Book, EpicCenter Wired, UPI-Breaking News Google ordered to reveal anonymous Blogger, Washington Post, AARP Bulletin, LA Times Part 1, LA Times Part 2.


Also on Examiner.com

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sue Scheff: Ten Signs You Have A Successful Blended Family



Top Ten Signs You Have A Successful Blended Family

1- You and your spouse have clear house rules that apply to all family members

Yes, this means that house rules don’t change when you are tired, or your spouse is out of town. Both biological children and stepchildren all follow the same rules. It really does help when the parents also follow the same rules. (Why does Dad get to eat in the living room when the rest of us can’t?)

2- You hear laughter at meals

The kids are joking and comfortable enough to be a little silly at times. Even if some of your kids are more outgoing, watch your introverted children respond by smiling to the antics of the louder children.

3- All children are treated fairly and equally by their biological parent and their stepparent

The children are watching to see if you really love everyone the same, and will keep “tabs” on how you are doing!

4- Your child is willing to introduce their stepparent to their teachers or friends

It’s awkward at first, but smile and praise your kids (later) when they are able to introduce their new stepparent to their friends and teachers.

5- Your stepsiblings talk to each other, when they are in the house together

With a newly blended family, silence may be the loudest noise in your home. As kids become more used to their new family, they will gradually talk with their new stepsiblings. Don’t automatically jump into the conversation. Let them talk amongst themselves without realizing that you and your spouse are listening and rejoicing over their conversational attempts.

6- You have more than one photo, in your house, with all members of your blended family in it, and everyone is smiling

I know some of you are laughing, but a newly blended family does NOT photograph well together. There are lots of frowns, pouts, crossed arms and lowered heads. Take candid shots of your kids, while they are enjoying an activity. This is a great way to expose them to photos of your new family. Display these candid shots around your home. It takes a little while, but photographing your family, as a whole, is an important step for all. You are stating to the world that this is my family, and I’m proud of it.

7- One of your kids walks in, with a bag full of snacks, and says “want some” to one of his stepsiblings

It’s just a common courtesy, but really important. Your children are acknowledging that their stepsiblings are someone they care about, and are willing to share with these new family members.

8- You have new family traditions that your blended family has developed, on their own

Both families came into the new blended family with memories of their own traditions, especially around the holidays. Take time and share these memories, and develop slightly different traditions of your own. Make sure all children have a part in the development of these traditions.

9- A visiting child tells her parent that she had fun and asks, “When is the next time I visit you?”

When the visiting children feel at home, during their brief visits, and are looking forward to the next one, you have truly made some progress. Make sure each child has some personal space of their own, when they visit. Separate bedrooms are great, but not always practical. If you can keep a few personal items in their space (and make sure these items aren’t touched in their absence) this creates a sense of familiarity and also ownership, when they arrive for their visits.

10- The kids share a joke or an issue with each other

It may sound strange, but a group of kids teaming up against the parents is a sign of a successful blended family. It’s O.K. to disagree, but seeing your children and stepchildren unite on any topic is quite exciting to watch and a wonderful accomplishment in your blending.

It’s Worth It!

Blending two families together can be quite a challenge, but is worth the effort. Seeing your two families come together as one unit is a fantastic accomplishment. Not easy- but is it doable, with patience and persistence.

For more information on how to blend your step family- check out our book, Blended Family Advice Ebook by Shirley Cress Dudley.

Shirley Cress Dudley is a licensed professional counselor with a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Counseling, and a master’s degree in Education. She has a passion for helping blended families grow strong and be successful. Visit our website for more help with your blended family issues. http://www.BlendedFamilyAdvice.com/

Friday, August 28, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teen Drivers


When your teenager reaches the age of their new freedom, called driving, it can cause many parents to reach stress levels that they never knew existed. Or quietly honestly, just hoped this day would never come, since it was only yesterday we taught them to ride a bike.


As a Parent Advocate I believe an educated parent is a prepared parent that equals a safer teen! I know personally the stress I went through when both my teens (now adults) started driving. What I found to be interesting was that my daughter was very anxious to get behind the wheel and had her permit within a week of her birthday. My son wasn’t in any hurry and actually was 18 before he got his license.


We all have different teens with unique personalities; however the nature of parenting usually doesn’t change: we worry. I am listing a few great resources targeted at helping you with this next stage of parenting teens - teen drivers.


Teen Driving – A must read and print out, Teen Driving Contract. This website offers tremendous tips about teenage driving, maintaining their cars, driving in a variety of weather conditions, looking into car insurance for teens and more.


Safe Teen Driving Club – 1-866-930-TEEN (8336) is a comprehensive website and organization that I encourage parents to take the time to review. From choosing a safe car to learning about defensive driving, Safe Teen Driving Club covers a wide range of topics that are critical for you and your teen to be aware of. You may also be interested in their recommended vehicle tracker (GPS).


ZoomSafer – “We don’t let friends drive distracted.” Distracted driving is a complicated and growing behavioral problem, especially with teenagers. Whether it is texting or talking on your cell phone while driving, it is a distraction that can potentially lead to tragic endings. Follow ZoomSafer on Twitter at @IDriveFocused and get updates.


Vision 20/20 – The Vision 20/20 P.O.M. Pilot is one of the smallest real-time GPS tracking devices available. If you are considering a GPS, this one is waterproof, highly sensitive and comes equipped with a panic button, GeoFencing features, remote control and more. Follow Vision 20/20 on Twitter at @GoVision2020.


I am confident there are many other great resources online for parents (feel free to leave comments below), as well as products. It is up to the parent to decide what is best for their individual families. There are many different services and products. I encourage all parents to do their research before choosing the right product for them.


For more info: CDC - Teen Drivers, Save Teen Drivers Blog. Take the time to visit these websites and resources.
Also posted on Examiner.com.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Sue Scheff: Afterschool Programs - Keeping Teens Busy



“The highest juvenile crime rate is between three and six p.m. - and in many neighborhoods, the juveniles that are doing that crime or getting in trouble are between the ages of 11 and 14 or 15 years old, and that’s the middle school.”

– Walt Thompson, Executive Director, After School All-Stars

Every day the recession continues, more after-school programs are forced to close their doors. This despite studies that show when teens don’t go to an after-school program they are three times more likely to smoke pot, drink alcohol, skip school and have sex.

And yet, each day, when the school bell rings, more than 14 million American kids are left alone.

Experts say those hours after school are the most dangerous - especially for kids in middle school.

“The highest juvenile crime rate is between three and six p.m. - and in many neighborhoods, the juveniles that are doing that crime or getting in trouble are between the ages of 11 and 14 or 15 years old, and that’s the middle school,” explains Walt Thompson, Executive Director of the Georgia chapter of After School All-Stars.

Many high school kids have a job or sports, or some after-school activity. But middle-schoolers, Thompson says, “they are the neglected age…if you go into the neighborhoods, those are the kids that are creating havoc in the neighborhoods, those are the kids that are getting arrested, those are the kids that are doing drugs, those are the kids that are getting initiated into gangs and the girls are getting pregnant.”

That’s why, experts say, it’s crucial for parents to find an after-school program for their kids.

And the best place to start is your child’s school.

“It provides structure, provides somewhere for kids to come, be with children of their own age involved in constructive activities,” explains Tresa Andrews, principal of King Middle School.

Andrews hosts the After School All-Stars program at her school. She says keeping kids in one place is essential, “They don’t have the opportunity to, quote-unquote, become lost trying to get from one location to another,” she notes. “We’re here.”

Ashley Carlisle, 14, is in the program. Here she can finish her homework and spend more time with her friends.

Ashley’s mom says the program is invaluable. “It helps me because I’m running in the morning to one job,” she says, “and I used to worry cause the area I live in - to me- is not as a secure area that I would like for it to be, and I worry about her in the afternoons.”

Experts say kids in after-school programs have better grades, higher attendance rates and are less likely to commit a crime.

Thompson says it’s a win-win situation for everyone. “If you take that kid that may get in trouble and put them in a structured environment,” he says, “it’s got to be good. Whether it has an influence on their grades or whatever, if they’re in a structured program with loving and caring adults, it’s got to be a good thing.”

Tips for Parents
The National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center defines after-school programs as safe, structured activities that convene regularly in the hours after school and offer activities to help children learn new skills and develop into responsible adults. Activities may cover such topics as technology, reading, math, science and the arts. And the programs may also offer new experiences for children, such as community service, internships or tutoring and mentoring opportunities.

As a parent, why should you consider an after-school program for your child? Without structured, supervised activities in the after-school hours, youth are at greater risk of being victims of crime or participating in antisocial behaviors. In fact, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention reports that juveniles are at the highest risk of being a victim of violence between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. And the peak hour for juvenile crime is from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., the first hour that most students are dismissed from school.

If you are interested in enrolling your child in an after-school program, you have several different types from which to choose. The Educational Resources Information Center says that a good after-school program should offer children the chance to have fun and feel comforted, as well as motivate them to learn. The best programs offer a comprehensive set of activities that do the following for your child:

■Foster his or her self-worth and develop his or her self-care skills
■Develop his or her personal and interpersonal social skills and promote respect for cultural diversity.
■Provide help with homework, tutoring and other learning activities
■Provide time and space for quiet study
■Provide new, developmentally appropriate enrichment activities to add to his or her learning at school, help him or her develop thinking and problem-solving skills and spark curiosity and love of learning
■Provide recreational and physical activities to develop physical skills and constructively channel his or her energy pent up after a day sitting in a classroom
■Encourage participation in individual sports activities to help develop self-esteem by striving for a personal best, and participation in group sports to provide lessons about cooperation and conflict resolution
■Provide age-appropriate job readiness training
■Provide information about career and career-training options, preferably through firsthand experiences with community business leaders and tours of local businesses
Some programs may be excellent while others may be lacking in resources and staff, and therefore, less attractive to parents. It is important when choosing an after-school program to ask questions, visit the facility and get to know the staff.

References
■Boys & Girls Clubs of America
■Educational Resources Information Center
■National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center
■Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teens that Inspire


Being a Parent Advocate offers me an opportunity to meet not only parents, but also amazing teens.

With my organization, Parents’ Universal Resource Experts (P.U.R.E.), we are in contact with parents that are struggling with their teenager. Whether it is failing school, defiance, disrespectful, running away (sneaking out), using drugs and/or alcohol as well as other negative behaviors, parents are at their wit’s end.


Teens that inspire need to be recognized. I am listing a few that I have personally been in contact with and believe that parents will be amazed at what teenagers can accomplish. Some of these teens have taken a negative situation in their life and turned it around to help others. Then we have a 12 year old wonder boy! Take time to visit these websites and learn how one teen can change the lives of thousands.


Cati Cares– Cati is an amazing 16 year old that has created awareness and a crusade to help STOP bullying and cyberbullying. As a victim herself in the 6th grade, she has turned her unpleasant and hurtful experience into a campaign to help other teens. Her website offers Internet safety tips, Cyberbully Prevention and much more. Join her movement today! Follow Cati on Twitter at @wwwCatiCarescom

Joni Poole – When you think of a survivor, think of Joni. On August 22, 2007, Joni was raped and sexually assaulted. She was only 16 at the time. Since this horrific assault, Joni found the strength to fight back legally and found justice. From here, Joni could have moved on with life and attempted to put this time behind her. Instead, she created Sexual Assault Abuse and Rape Awareness (S.A.A.R.A.) Joni is now a voice to be heard and fighting for victims of sexual abuse. Join Joni on Facebook and MySpace. Help her to help others.


Danielle Herb –At 15 years old, Danielle has accomplished more than many adults do in a lifetime. Danielle created a program for ADHD/Autistic children with her expertise in horsemanship. Drop Your Reins is becoming nationally recognized, and Danielle is the driving force. As an ADHD child herself, she truly relates to the children and inspires them to overcome their fears. Learn more about this unbelievable teen at Drop Your Reins and follow her on Twitter at @DanielleHerb.


Lane S. – He is our 12 year wonder boy who is an incredible source of information and has a maturity that will blow you away! He owns, operates and writes for his website – http://www.kidcriticusa.com/– where he gives you insights through “kid’s point of view”. When I found out he was only 12, I was shocked. Be sure to follow him on Twitter at @KidCriticUSA and I am sure you will see what I and many others have realized, Lane is going places!


Krysten Moore – Grace, dignity, integrity, and beauty, both inside and out. Krysten is one of the Bullying Prevention Spokespersons for Love Our Children USA. At 17 years old, she was Miss Teen New Jersey International 2007. When I meet her, I was in awe of her. As a sophomore in college now, she is still active in helping others fight bullying and cyberbullying. In my latest book, Google Bomb, on page 198, you can read about Krysten’s experiences in school and how she was teased and bullied. She took action, took her life back and continues to be a voice against bullying.


For more info: Please take the time to visit each of these amazing teens websites. Send them an email of support and follow them on Twitter!

Also posted on The Examiner.com

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sue Scheff: PTA - Every child. One Voice.


As the largest volunteer child advocacy association in the nation, Parent Teacher Association (PTA) reminds our country of its obligations to children and provides parents and families with a powerful voice to speak on behalf of every child while providing the best tools for parents to help their children be successful students.


PTA does not act alone. Working in cooperation with many national education, health, safety, and child advocacy groups and federal agencies, the national PTA organization collaborates on projects that benefit children and that bring valuable resources to its members.
Visit the PTA website for more information and follow them on Twitter at @PTAeditor.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sue Scheff: Who is Jaylen? Help STOP Childhood Bullying


I recently wrote an article for the Examiner.com about Teens that inspire.
In the comments, I was introduced to an amazing young boy, only 8 years old, that embodies the word "inspiration." So who is Jaylen Arnold? Read all about him!


My name is Jaylen Arnold, I am 8 years old and in the 2nd grade. I am ready to change the world through my challenge! I want to STOP childhood bullying! I made this page to help put an end to kids that bully other kids...especially disabled ones.


I am a disabled child who suffers from Tourette's Syndrome (TS - a Neurological Disorder), Aspergers Syndrome (ASP - a broad spectrum Autism Disorder), and severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD - much more than just washing your hands or checking things over and over...believe me)!

I began symptoms of Tourette when I was 2 years old. The diagnosis came at age 3. The OCD followed by age 4, and more recently, the Aspergers was diagnosed at age 8.

So I am what some might call an alpahabet kid. See look, here is my name: Jaylen Arnold, TS, OCD, ASP (I am beginning to have all the letters of the alphabet behind my name) he!he!

My mom says I'm a kind and loving boy. My dad says I'm really intelligent. IQ test scores say I'm 3 points below genius. But I say, God made me really special and I know that if I try super duper hard, I can do anything I want to do. One day, I'm going to be on the Disney Channel & You Tube educating people about teasing and bullying! And one day, Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and The Jonas Brothers will be wearing my armband to help stop bullying! I've never heard her sing, but Oprah has a lot of fans, I know she can help me with bullies. When I grow up, I want to be a dentist (hope my tics don't interfere with me having my hands in your mouth)!

I love all people and all kinds of things - unless your coughing and sick - in that case, I will wave & flap you away because with my severe OCD, I'm really quite the germ-o-phobe. I just can't help it. I can actually feel your germs landing on my toungue if you don't completely cover your cough or sneeze! Even if you are a long way from me. If I can hear you cough, I got the wave going on!

I have complex Tourette's which means I have vocal "tics" and motor "tics" pretty severly. They interrupt my daily living and are quite troubling. If you don't know what "tics" are just hang around and you'll soon find out. (No they are not the bugs - ticks) he!he! I also often yell out the word BAM! for no apparent reason.

There is no cure. They don't really know too much about this disorder. There are very few medicines available and they come with very bad side effects. I'm a little guy so my parents don't want to take a chance on me taking these medicines that can give me a heart problem...so they protect me naturally, the best they can. I just want the "tics" to stop. You control your body, my body controls me (and boy does it ever). he! he! BAM!

My parents have always protected my environment by sending me to a private school. At my school everyone is mostly accepting and loving to me. We are like a family. One day, I decided I was a big boy and I wanted to go to regular school. Boy, that was a mistake! My disorders got way worse with the stress. The doctors say my disorders cause me to have a lot of anxiety. I witnessed a lot of fighting and meanness. I don't like fighting. I was really scared for the other kids to see my "tics" and know that I was different. I was trying so hard to hold them in. I would go to the hall and try to get them out. Eventually, I couldn't hold them in. It's like a big sneeze...you can hold it for a few seconds, but then it just blows out really hard. BAM! I was soon "ticcing" all day long. The other kids were copying my tics.

One day the teacher put a little sign on me that said I had a medical condition, Tourette Syndrome. My parents really didn't like that too much. It was embarrassing because the kids then knew I had something wrong. Before that, they thought my noises and movements were me being a class clown. I was okay with that, as long as they didn't know the truth! My condition got so bad that I began hurting myself with my tics. I didn't mean to, but my stress and overstimulation was so bad that my "tics" got very hard.

The muscles used to perform the tics were contracting very hard. The Dr. called those "violent tics". I was crying one night because I was hurting so bad, and when my mom saw how I was bruising myself from the tics, she took me right out of that school and I am now back at my Christian school. She kept me at home for a bit ~ we made a video for you to see on the videos page. You see when your tics get that bad, it takes weeks or months for those tics to calm down. I had to decompress and become de-sensitized. I love my school. Those kids don't bully or tease me. They love me for who I am and I want all kids to experience the same feeling.

Read more and learn how you can help Jaylen too! Visit Jaylen's Challenge and follow him on Twitter at @JaysChallenge

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sue Scheff: Do you what Google is saying about you?


Do you know what lurks online?


Internet Safety has become a priority concern for many parents. Whether you are worried about predators online, or your child’s social networking; don’t forget about your child’s (especially teens) virtual image.


Today more and more colleges and employers are using your name or your child’s name in a “Google Search Box.” They may use other search engines, but Google seems to be the trend and most frequently used.


Years ago I woke up to find myself in the middle of a Cyber-War that I literally thought was simply a nightmare and what I was seeing/reading online had to be a mistake.
It wasn’t! If you can imagine the most horrible things being said about you, including sexual innuendos, anti-semantic remarks, and worse, you will be living what I went through.
My never before told story is finally told in my upcoming book, Google Bomb, The Untold Story of the $11.3M Verdict That Changed the Way We Use the Internet (Health Communications, Inc. September 2009). People that have reviewed this book are simply stunned, shocked and amazed what can happen to you if you are not aware of your online presence or have a cyberstalker.


Google Bomb will not only go behind the scenes of my 2+ year court battle that vindicated me with a landmark $11.3M jury verdict for damages done to me online (Internet Defamation and Invasion of Privacy), it will also offer you practical guidance. Have you been slimed online?

What does this have to do with parenting? Your child will be applying to colleges someday, or filling out job applications. Are they aware of what Google is saying about them? For that matter, do you know what Google is saying about you?


Remember, it can take 20 years to build a solid reputation about you, and only 20 minutes for it to be destroyed with evil keystrokes. Whether you have a disgruntled client, a friend turned foe or a relative that didn’t like the reading of a will – you need to be prepared to protect your cyber profile.


From students to teachers, lawyers to landscapers, truck drivers to doctors, stay-at-home moms to career women, teens to grandparents – no one is immune to what lurks online.

Also posted on Examiner.com

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sue Scheff: Parenting Teens in a Positive Direction


School is opening throughout our country this month. It can be an exciting time for some and a trying time for others.


Having a successful school year is always a parent’s desire, however sometimes there are bumps and struggles. Especially if your child is in High School and preparing for their college applications, we need to be sure your teen is motivated in a positive direction.


I always encourage parents to find their child’s passion. It could be tennis, swimming, photography, baseball (sports), chess, fine arts, music, dance, or many other interests. Does your child show an interest in writing? Get them involved in the school newspaper or on the yearbook committee. Doe your child like politics? Look for groups and clubs within their school or outside and encourage them to join. Check your local library for a variety of clubs or groups.

A teen that is guided in a positive direction has a better chance at reaching their goals and developing their skills in their area of interest. It can also enhance their academic progress knowing they have a goal. I also recognize many teens don’t know what they want to be when they “grow up,” however many do have something they are passionate about.


One 15 year old,Danielle Herb, has taken her passion and reached heights that many only dream of. Her mother has been her inspiration and has encouraged Danielle to be all she can be.
Danielle Herb organized and runs Drop Your Reins, a program for kids with ADD/ADHD and Autism. She and her mother offer peaceful solutions for ADHD/ADD & Autistic Children using natural horsemanship. Visit Cheers Ranch on Amelia Island, Florida.


As a young teen, Danielle is driven, motivated and determined to do what she does best, relate with her horses and help others with her gift. Danielle herself is ADHD, and relates to the children she is helping and mentoring.


I understand this is an exceptional young woman, however your teen can be successful too. Find their passion – encourage them to get involved – be an involved parent – and don’t forget, these years go so fast, don’t waste a minute.


Be an educated parent; learn more about your teen and their goals. You may have a teen entrepreneur in your home and not realize it!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sue Scheff: Curbing the Youth Entitlement Epidemic

Another sneak peak into The BIG Book of Parenting Solutions! Don't forget to order your copy!

Curbing the Youth Entitlement Epidemic

REALITY CHECK: Research shows that our children are born with the marvelous gift to care and be concerned about others. But unless we nurture those glorious virtues they will lie dormant. A new study shows we may not be doing such a great job. San Diego State professor Jean Twenge (author of a must-parent read: The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement) has conducted a longitudinal study on college students for narcissistic patterns and finds a troubling trend. Narcissism has steadily has steadily increased in our youth per decade. Another must read by Twenge: Generation Me: Why Today’s Youth are More Confident and More Miserable Than Ever.

http://www.amazon.com/Generation-Americans-Confident-Assertive-Entitled/dp/0743276981/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1249749611&sr=8-2

Do you have a Little Princess or Prince in your house who feels entitled to luxury and privilege? If so, you’re not alone. In fact, national surveys show most parents feel they’re raising selfish kids. One thing is for sure: selfish kids are no joy to have around. These critters always wants things their way, put their needs and concerns ahead of others, and rarely stops to consider other people’s feelings. And that’s because they want you to believe that their feelings are “more important” than the feelings and needs of others. The truth is kids don’t arrive in this world selfish. And yes, young children are by nature exocentric because they’re trying to figure out the world. But our role is to gradually help our children move from that Me-Me-Me stage, focus more on others and adopt more of a “WE” attitude.

So let’s roll up our sleeves to squelch this obnoxious bad attitude, and make sure our kids have the virtues of selflessness, generosity, and consideration. And here are five essential solutions for a successful makeover that will squelch those selfish attitudes.

Step 1. Censor Selfishness. A major step in squelching kids’ selfish attitudes is simply not tolerating it. You’re right: it won’t be easy. After all, especially if your kid is used to having his every whim catered for a long time, But if you really are serious about changing this attitude, you must stand firm and be consistent. STart by clearly laying down your new attitude expectations: “In this house you are always expected to be considerate of others.” Then loudly state your disapproval each and every time your child acts selfishly.

Step 2. Nurture Empathy. Kids who are empathic can understand where other people are coming from because they can put themselves in their shoes and feel how they feel. And because they can “feel with” someone else, they are more unselfish and caring. So nurture your child’s empathy to help him see beyond himself, and into the views of others. You might help him imagine how the other person feels about a special situation. “Imagine you’re a new student and you’re walking into a brand new school and don’t know anyone. How will you feel?” Asking the question often because it helps kids understand the feelings and needs of other people. Then look for daily opportunities to help your child consider others.

Step 3. Set Limits. One reason kids become selfish is because they are used to getting their way. So don’t. Set clear limits and then stick to them like glue. Don’t give in to whining, pouting, tantrums, and guilt-laced admonishments of “You’re the worst parent in the world!” Hundreds of child development studies conclude that kids whose parents set clear behavior expectations turned out less selfish kids. You may have to have a serious talk with other caregivers in your kids’ life who are guilty of overindulging. Let such individuals know in no uncertain terms you are serious about curbing your kid’s selfish attitude around and must have their cooperation to do so.

Step 4. Halt the Accolades. Parents who raise selfless, caring kids don’t do so by accident. They intentionally make sure that their kids are aware of the rights, feelings and needs of others. This means you need to fight that tendency of trying to make your child feel as though the world revolves around him or her. You’ll be much more pleased with the outcome: a more considerate, caring kid.

Step 5. Reinforce Selfless Acts. Of course, one of the fastest way to increase selflessness is by “catching” your kid doing considerate and unselfish acts. Always remember to describe the deed so she clearly understands the virtue and point out the impact it had on the recipient. Doing so will also help her be more likely to repeat the same generous deed another time. “Did you see Kelly’s smile when you shared your toys? You made her happy.” Or: “Thanks for giving your CDs with your brother. I know you don’t listen to rap anymore but he just loves it.”

Of course, the key to any successful makeover is your consistent commitment to help your child become his or her personal best. So don’t give up until you see the kind of behavior you envision. No, it won’t be easy. Yes, you may want to throw in the towel. But hang in there: this is serious work. This is all about nurturing your child’s character and reputation as a human being, so nothing is more important. All the best!

Just remember: Using simple parenting solutions can make real differences on your children’s lives—especially when you choose ones that matter most in raising good kids then commit to making them become a habit in your daily parenting.

Get more Parenting Solutions by following Michele Borba @MicheleBorba on Twitter or at http://www.micheleborba.com .


Portions of this article are adapted from Michele Borba’s latest book, The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries (Jossey-Bass) which is available for order now.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Sue Scheff: Do you know what Google is Saying About You?


Do you know what lurks online?


Internet Safety has become a priority concern for many parents. Whether you are worried about predators online, or your child’s social networking; don’t forget about your child’s (especially teens) virtual image.


Today more and more colleges and employers are using your name or your child’s name in a “Google Search Box.” They may use other search engines, but Google seems to be the trend and most frequently used.


Years ago I woke up to find myself in the middle of a Cyber-War that I literally thought was simply a nightmare and what I was seeing/reading online had to be a mistake.


It wasn’t! If you can imagine the most horrible things being said about you, including sexual innuendos, anti-semantic remarks, and worse, you will be living what I went through.
My never before told story is finally told in my upcoming book, Google Bomb, The Untold Story of the $11.3M Verdict That Changed the Way We Use the Internet (Health Communications, Inc. September 2009). People that have reviewed this book are simply stunned, shocked and amazed what can happen to you if you are not aware of your online presence or have a cyberstalker.


Google Bomb will not only go behind the scenes of my 2+ year court battle that vindicated me with a landmark $11.3M jury verdict for damages done to me online (Internet Defamation and Invasion of Privacy), it will also offer you practical guidance. Have you been slimed online?
What does this have to do with parenting? Your child will be applying to colleges someday, or filling out job applications. Are they aware of what Google is saying about them? For that matter, do you know what Google is saying about you?


Remember, it can take 20 years to build a solid reputation about you, and only 20 minutes for it to be destroyed with evil keystrokes. Whether you have a disgruntled client, a friend turned foe or a relative that didn’t like the reading of a will – you need to be prepared to protect your cyber profile.

From students to teachers, lawyers to landscapers, truck drivers to doctors, stay-at-home moms to career women, teens to grandparents – no one is immune to what lurks online.



Also on Examiner.com Order on Amazon Today!!!! Early Release!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sue Scheff: Troubled Teens and Teen Help


Are you at your wit’s end?


Are you experiencing any of the following situations or feeling at a complete loss or a failure as a parent? You are not alone and by being a proactive parent you are taking the first step towards healing and bringing your family back together.

• Is your teen escalating out of control?
• Is your teen becoming more and more defiant and disrespectful?
• Is your teen manipulative? Running your household?
• Are you hostage in your own home by your teen’s negative behavior?
• Is your teen angry, violent or rage outbursts?
• Is your teen verbally abusive?
• Is your teen rebellious, destructive and withdrawn?
• Is your teen aggressive towards others or animals?
• Is your teen using drugs and/or alcohol?
• Does your teen belong to a gang?
• Do they frequently runaway or leave home for extended periods of time?
• Has their appearance changed – piercing, tattoo’s, inappropriate clothing?
• Has your teen stopped participating in sports, clubs, church and family functions? Have they become withdrawn from society?
• Is your teen very intelligent yet not working up to their potential? Underachiever? Capable of doing the work yet not interested in education.
• Does he/she steal?
• Is your teen sexually active?
• Is your teen a good kid but making bad choices?
• Undesirable peers? Is your teen a follower or a leader?
Low self esteem and low self worth?
• Lack of motivation? Low energy?
• Mood Swings? Anxiety?
Teen depression that leads to negative behavior?
Eating Disorders? Weight loss? Weight gain?
• Self-Harm or Self Mutilation?
• High School drop-out?
• Suspended or Expelled from school?
Suicidal thoughts or attempts?
• ADD/ADHD/LD/ODD?
• Is your teen involved in legal problems? Have they been arrested?• Juvenile Delinquent?
• Conduct Disorder?
• Bipolar?

Does your teen refuse to take accountability and always blame others for their mistakes?

• Do you feel hopeless, helpless and powerless over what options you have as a parent? Are you at your wit’s end?

Does any of the above sound familiar? Many parents are at their wit’s end by the time they contact us, but the most important thing many need to know is you are not alone. There is help but the parent needs to be proactive and educate themselves in getting the right help.
Many try local therapy, which is always recommended, but in most cases, this is a very temporary band-aid to a more serious problem. One or two hours a week with a therapist is usually not enough to make the major changes that need to be done.

If you feel you are at your wit’s end and are considering outside resources, please contact us. http://www.helpyourteens.com/free_information.shtmlAn informed parent is an educated parent and will better prepare to you to make the best decision for your child. It is critical not to place your child out of his/her element. In many cases placing a teen that is just starting to make bad choices into a hard core environment may cause more problems. Be prepared – do your homework.

Many parents are in denial and keep hoping and praying the situation is going to change. Unfortunately in many cases, the problems usually escalate without immediate attention. Don’t be parents in denial; be proactive in getting your teen the appropriate help they may need. Whether it is local therapy or outside the home assistance, be in command of the situation before it spirals out of control and you are at a place of desperation. At wit’s end is not a pleasant place to be, but so many of us have been there.

Finding the best school or program for your child is one of the most important steps a parent does. Remember, your child is not for sale – don’t get drawn into high pressure sales people, learn from my mistakes. Read my story at http://www.aparentstruestory.com/for the mistakes I made that nearly destroyed my daughter.

In searching for schools and programs we look for the following:
• Helping Teens - not Harming them
• Building them up - not Breaking them down
• Positive and Nurturing Environments - not Punitive
• Family Involvement in Programs - not Isolation from the teen
• Protect Children - not Punish them
Visit http://www.helpyourteens.com/ for more information.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sue Scheff: Back to School - How to Ease Back to School Jitters

Another timely Blog from Parenting Expert, Michele Borba. Don't forget to order her new book - The Big Book of Parenting Solutions

By Dr. Michele Borba

How to Ease Back to School Jitters

REALITY CHECK: Heading back to school is exciting for a lot of kids but a bit traumatic for others. It’s only natural for children to feel a little anxious especially if you’ve just moved to town, are changing schools, repeating a grade, have never left mom’s side, are a shyer more sensitive child or didn’t have a successful experience last year. There are also big adjustments to make like: learning the school rules, finding your way around, getting on the right bus or getting along with other kids. And if you’re off to kindergarten for the first time there is an even bigger worry: “Will Mommy really come and pick me up?”

Though parents can’t be there to solve every problem and ease every worry there are things to help your child feel more secure and make those goodbye go smoother and less stressful. Here are solutions from my new book, The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries.

•Peruse the new surroundings. A week or so before the big send off, take him for a visit to the school so he can view his new surroundings and find those key places like his classroom, playground, school office, cafeteria, water fountain, lockers, and restroom. Keep in mind that a large campus can be intimidating-especially if your child has multiple classes in different locations. If possible obtain a map of the school (go online) and print out his class schedule. Then help him walk that campus until he feels secure. Just don’t over hype the tour (“What a gorgeous campus! You’re going to be soooooo happy here!”) You don’t want to build up expectations too much so as to disappoint him if things fall short of your build-up

•Check out those school rules. The more your child is aware of the school rules and rituals the more comfortable he’ll be when he arrives. See if the school has a website or stop by the school or district office and ask for school handbook. Then review it with your child. Find out the dress code, bell schedule, names of the principal and teachers, mascot, motto, and even mission statement. Many schools have websites which give online tours.

•Make one acquaintance. Knowing just one classmate can minimize first day jitters so if possible help your kid meet at least one peer. These two don’t have to become soul mates –just acquaintances! Do a little sleuthing at playgrounds and parks near the school to see if you can find a child who will be the same classroom, grade, or school. Ask parents, coaches, or check in at the local Boys and Girls Clubs. If your child takes a bus, ask neighbors for the name and address of a kid on the same route. If you can find a car pool with even one kid it will help your child feel more secure to go to school with someone instead of alone. And make sure your child knows the name of at least one adult to go to (the nurse, secretary, principal, teacher) for help or assurance.
•Create “goodbye” rituals. Rehearsing a goodbye can help a younger child feel more secure when the big moment really comes. Practice a special private “goodbye” between the two of you like a secret handshake or special kiss to help him start to pull away. Or try putting a special pebble or keychain with your photo in his pocket and explain that whenever he touches it means you’re thinking of him wherever you are. If your child is a little worry-wart, teach her to “talk back to her worry.” The simple tip can reduce anxiety. The child then names the feeling (“I’m scared”) and learns how to talk back to the fear so she is in charge of the worry and not the other way around. The trick is to have your child practice telling herself she’ll be okay to build confidence: “Go away worry, leave me alone. Mommy will come back.”

•Rehearse social scenarios. Set up pretend scenarios and role-play specific social problems, like how to meet someone, start up a conversation, ask if you can play in a game, or ask for help from a teacher. Kids learn social skills best if you show and not tell them what to do so practice one new skill at a time until your child feels comfortable. Anticipate concerns (“What if I can’t find the bus?” “How do I tell the teacher I have to go to the bathroom?” “How do I ask if I can play with them?”), then develop answers that appease your child.

•Point him to the “first thing.” Not knowing what to do or where to go upon arriving at a new scene increases anxiety. So offer “first thing” suggestions. For a young child it may be pointing her towards an activity she enjoys—like a puzzle or blocks. An older kid can go to the basketball courts that he enjoys or meet up with that acquaintance he meet at the park.

•Be cool, consistent and leave. A kid’s anxiety increases if you make too big of a deal about leaving or draw it out. So stay calm and show confidence in your child. A matter-of-fact goodbye “See you soon” is better than long-drawn out ones. Wearing an inexpensive watch marked with the exact time with a watercolor pen you’ll return can help. The key is to establish a consistent pattern of goodbyes that build your child’s confidence so she realizes she can make it through the time apart. And be sure you or your designated caregiver picks your child up when you said and at the exact spot you prearranged. If he cries when you pick him take it as a compliment! It usually means he’s delighted to see you—not that he hates school.



Adjustment may take from a day to several weeks, so be patient. The key is to watch for a gradual increase in confidence and a diminishment of those worries. If separation anxiety still continues, check in with the teacher to see if she has suggestions. Excessive clinginess may be a sign of separation anxiety disorder or another condition, so when in doubt, trust your instinct and consult with a trained mental health professional.



Follow Michele Borba on Twitter at @MicheleBorba

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sue Scheff: ZoomSafer - "We don't let friends drive distracted"


By Matthew Howard
ZoomSafer Aligns with President Obama and Secretary of Transportation in Fight Against Distracted Driving

ZoomSafer Aligns with President Obama and Secretary of Transportation in Fight Against Distracted Driving

Secretary Lahood Says “Laws Alone” Are Not Enough to Reduce Distracted Driving
Reston, Virginia – August 11, 2009 – ZoomSafer, the leading provider of innovative solutions to prevent distracted driving is pleased that the Obama Administration and Secretary of Transportation, Ray Lahood, have announced plans to host a Summit next month to develop a list of “concrete steps” to minimize accidents caused by distracted motorists.

“As we prepare to launch our innovative solution to prevent distracted driving, we are very happy to see the Federal Government prioritizing resources to help solve this growing issue,” said Michael Riemer, Co-Founder and CEO of ZoomSafer. “Beginning in late August, members of the public will have their first opportunity to experience for themselves how ZoomSafer’s patented technology helps motorists minimize distractions stemming from the use of cell phones while driving.”

“Distracted driving is a large and complicated issue,” said Matt Howard, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer of ZoomSafer. “While some people will choose to abstain from using their phones while driving, others will seek legally compliant solutions that are capable of providing safe alternatives to send and receive texts and emails so they can stay connected while driving.”
ZoomSafer has been developed to support existing laws and address a broad spectrum of consumer and commercial end user requirements:

• A FREE version automatically detects when you’re driving and activates a set of basic services that suppresses external alerts and minimize distractions.
• A PREMIUM version activates a set of enhanced services so you can communicate safely while driving. Use your voice — not your thumbs, to send email, texts, and tweets. Use your ears — not your eyes, to listen to emails, texts, and other content.

• A CORPORATE version enables enterprises, insurance carriers, and fleet owners to administer specific policies on end-user devices to manage risk and minimize liability.

As a commercial enterprise ZoomSafer looks forward to joining with the Federal Government, Insurance Carriers, Public Safety Associations, and others in the effort to reduce and eliminate the significant dangers posed by distracted driving.

Visit http://www.zoomsafer.com/ for more information.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sue Scheff: Vocational Education




Vocational Education


“I think, just in general, in America people think that you have to go to college and you have to have a regular white-collared job - where you don’t get your hands dirty.”

– Debbie Brown, Career Coach and Consultant

The President’s Council of Economic Advisors reports that the jobs of tomorrow are nursing, construction, plumbing, and auto mechanics. We will need more workers for all of these and that means we may have to reconsider the value of vocational training.

The dream of 18-year-old Travis Murphy is to become an auto mechanic for Mercedes. “From what I’ve been told, [in] their first year they make around 40-thousand,” says Travis, “and then it just continuously goes up from there - with more certifications and experience.”

In the next five to ten years, the greatest job growth will be in plumbing, nursing and auto repair- all jobs that require vocational training or an associate’s degree.

But some kids don’t think highly of these jobs. “It is something that is, for certain populations, frowned upon - because it is not considered more of a professional job, says Debbie Brown, a career coach and consultant. “But those jobs can be very well-paying, depending on what you want to do and your skill level.”

Brown says that, while some blue-collar jobs like manufacturing and textiles are disappearing or getting outsourced, others, like plumbing, carpentry, and electrical work pay well and are in demand.

“If your car breaks down, you have to get it serviced if you want it to keep running,” she notes. “So sometimes people will put off repairs for a little bit, but they can’t put them off for too long.”

What’s more, she says, some students will enjoy physical jobs where they can work with their hands. “And there’s so many people who are just not suited to sitting in front of a desk,” says Brown.

If students choose a trade instead of college, she says, parents should help them get the best possible training. “Find out what the best trade and technical schools are in your community; two-year colleges, technical schools,” she advises. “Talk to these people, find out the best match in terms of the program for them - and get them into the best programs, so they can get the best skills and the best training.”

Travis, meanwhile, works on cars for half the day at his Vo-Tech school. When he graduates, he’ll spend a year and a half at a technical college. “And then after that I plan on taking the advanced test to get into the Mercedes Elite program, so I can go and be a certified Mercedes mechanic,” he says.

To be even more marketable, experts say, students can pursue certifications after they enter the workforce -to help them get the most complex, highest-paying assignments.

Tips for Parents

Vocational programs remain popular with many students despite the lingering misperception that such programs are for under-achievers and students who don’t plan to go to college. Teenagers are discovering that completing a program in vocational education can provide them with the knowledge and skills relevant to today’s job market.

Though of particular interest to those students who do not plan on going to college, the U.S. Department of Education says that skills gained from vocational education programs are also of importance to:

■The large number of students who need or want to combine work with college attendance.
■Those students who are unsure of their future education plans.
■Those students who plan to earn a subbaccalaureate degree, such as an associate’s degree.
■Those students who plan to enter a technical field for which a “hands-on” or applied curriculum provides valuable groundwork for more abstract study in later years.

Today’s vocational educational classes are interwoven into mainstream curriculum. Many students, including college prep students, take at least some coursework in vocational education. In fact, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics 96% of high school graduates have taken at least one career and technical education course.

The U.S. Department of Education says that over the past 15 years, the focus of vocational education has shifted from preparing students for entry level jobs in occupations requiring less that a baccalaureate degree toward a broader preparation that develops the academic, vocational, and technical skills of students.

References
■National Center for Educational Statistics
■U.S. Department of Education

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teen Sex Education



Source: Education.com

Talking to Your Boy About Sex

by Laura Bueno

When it comes to talking to boys about sex, dads are often assigned the tricky task. But don't feel like moms can't carry out the conversation: sometimes the best man for the job may be a woman! Regardless of which parent it falls to to explain the ins and outs of relationships and sex, it's an important discussion to have that will benefit your family for years to come. It's never easy, but once you open the doors of communication, you may be surprised at just how much your son is willing to ask and even more importantly, willing to share.

Here's what parents need to know about talking to their sons about sex:

•Start Young Just when is the right time to have "The Talk?" As soon as your son starts asking questions! Keep your answers simple, straightforward, and matter of fact. For example, when a 6-year-old boy asked his pregnant mother, "How does the baby get out of your tummy?" she explained it like this: "Boys have two holes. One at the tip of their penis for going pee and one in their bottom for poop to come out. Girls have another hole called a vagina for the baby to pass through when it's time to be born." Try your best to use anatomically correct words to avoid confusion and embarrassment later on. By you being approachable from the get-go, your son will more than likely feel comfortable coming to you again and again when he has a question.

•Break the Silence Some boys are more open to discussion than others. For boys that are reluctant to initiate or join in a conversation, a book is often the best icebreaker. One mother recalls, "I never had any difficulty talking with my oldest son about sex. But when my second son got to that age, every time I tried to casually bring up the subject, he'd say, 'No thanks. I'm good.' That's when I picked up a copy of What's Going on Down There by Walker Books for Young Readers. I read the book first and told him if a mother of three learned a thing or two, I am sure he could, too. I also threatened to read it out loud to him if he refused." The result? He read the book, which sparked some points of discussion, and those discussions have been going on ever since.

•Be Realistic Let's face it. In this day and age, most people don't wait until they're married to have sex. But it's important to help your son understand that having sexual relations with someone is a huge responsibility and a commitment based on trust. Reinforce that just because he is ready physically doesn't mean that he is emotionally prepared for the aftermath of having sex. Let him know that if he finds himself in a position where his relationship could lead to sex, you will help him purchase birth control to protect him as well as his partner. And, point out that even birth control has been known to fail, so he really has to consider the consequences of their actions. Is it truly worth the risk? Trust that you are not giving him permission or encouraging him to have sex – if your son is going to have sex he will do so with or without your permission. But in the end, isn't it better to accompany your son to the drugstore rather than to a clinic?

•Girls Girls Girls No matter if your son is in middle school or high school, it's important to remember that girls are more mature in certain areas and, for developing boys, largely a mystery. While both girls and boys are developing social skills and strategies, including flirtation and other ways of signaling attraction, girls may sometimes play social "games" that boys may not understand, such as acting affectionate one day and distant the next. Explain to your son that relating to the opposite sex is a complicated skill that takes practice, and that good communication skills are the key. Introduce and emphasize the concept of consent: just because a girl sends a flirtatious text does not necessarily mean that she wants to "hook up," so be sure the signals are straight before engaging in any sexual activity, even kissing. Likewise, boys may be pressured by more mature girls to engage in sexual activities that they're just not ready for, so make sure to tell your son that saying no, and meaning it, are a must if he doesn't feel ready.

•Seize Every Opportunity Use the news, movies, television, and even personal stories of friends and family to educate your son about real-life situations that stemmed from having sex at a young age. Cite specific examples such as the Bristol Palin pregnancy story. Help your child imagine what missing your prom to stay home and change diapers might feel like, so that your child knows that having a baby changes lives forever.


Talking to children about sex is never easy, but it is necessary. As one mother of two commented, "If I left it up to my husband, the boys would still believe that babies are delivered by storks!" Regardless of who ends up giving the "Talk," you can rest assured that your son will be healthier, happier, and maybe even grateful in the end.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teen Sexting Tips




Teen Sexting Tips


These tips are re-posted from our sister site, ConnectSafely.org

“Sexting” usually refers to teens sharing nude photos via cellphone, but it’s happening on other devices and the Web too. The practice can have serious legal and psychological consequences, so – teens and adults – consider these tips!

It’s illegal: Don’t take or send nude or sexually suggestive photos of yourself or anyone else. If you do, even if they’re of you or you pass along someone else’s – you could be charged with producing or distributing child pornography. If you keep them on your phone or computer you could be charged with possession. If they go to someone in another state (and that happens really easily), it’s a federal felony.

Non-legal consequences: Then there’s the emotional (and reputation) damage that can come from having intimate photos of yourself go to a friend who can become an ex-friend and send it to everyone you know. Not only can they be sent around; they can be distributed and archived online for people to search for pretty much forever.

Not just on phones. Sexting can be done on any media-sharing device or technology – including email and the Web. Teens have been convicted for child porn distribution for emailing sexually explicit photos to each other.

Many causes. In some cases, kids are responding to peer pressure in a form of cyberbullying or pressure from a boyfriend or girlfriend (they break up, and sometimes those photos get sent around out of revenge). Sometimes it’s impulsive behavior, flirting, or even blackmail. It’s always a bad idea.

Parents: Talk with your kids about sexting in a relaxed setting. Ask them what they know about it (they may not have heard the term, so “naked photo-sharing” works too). Express how you feel in a conversational, non-confrontational way. A two-way dialog can go a long way toward helping your kids understand how to minimize legal, social and reputation risks.

The bottom line: Stay alert when using digital media. People aren’t always who they seem to be, even in real life, and sometimes they change and do mean things. Critical thinking about what we upload as well as download is the best protection.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Sue Scheff: Guidance Counselors Helping Keep Students Safe Online


Many people know I highly recommend ReputationDefender not only for online reputation management, but for their services to protect children online and your privacy. Here is a great merge of two fantastic organization working towards helping teens, kids and all stay safe in space!




ReputationDefender and iKeepSafe Provide Online Reputation Resources to Guidance Counselors


ReputationDefender has been working with the Internet Keep Safe Coalition (iKeepSafe), a non-profit that works for the health and safety of youth online, to create resources that help guidance counselors educate kids in the US about how their online reputations can keep them safe, and help (rather than harm) their ability to get into college — Download ReputationDefender’s guide to keeping your kids safe online today!


iKeepSafe launched Project PRO (Privacy & Online Reputation) at this summer’s American School Counselors Association annual meeting in Dallas, TX. I’d like to send a special thank you to our reputation agents who contributed their expertise in creating the booklet, DVD and online materials (http://www.ikeepsafe.org/ASCA) that have now been distributed to educators nationwide.


Marsali Hancock, President of iKeepSafe, on the launch of Project PRO:


“What youth post online today directly impacts their future academic and employment opportunities. ReputationDefender has worked closely with iKeepSafe to develop content for school counselors that teaches students how to protect their privacy online, and help students create an online reputation that is an asset rather than a liability.


We are grateful for ReputationDefender’s support and for sharing their expertise about managing and building an online reputation that opens doors to future opportunities, rather than eliminating them.”


Concerned parents can also find helpful tips in these materials for ensuring the safety of their kids online, and try MyChild to combat the spread of potentially harmful information about their kids online. As always, we here at ReputationDefender recommend that you keep current with technology, keep communicating with your kids about what they’re doing online, and keep checking on their Internet activity. With a great online reputation, the sky is the limit for your kids!


ReputationDefender and iKeepSafe’s 3 Key Tips for Parents:


1. Keep Current with Technology: Talk to teachers about what forms of Internet safety tools they implement in computer labs and technology classes, consider these safety tools for home use, and stay up-to-date on the capabilities of any mobile devices your child may have.


2. Keep Communicating with Your Kids: Find out who your child talks to online, educate your kids about the permanence of any “digital footprints” they leave behind, limit the use of social networks, and make it a habit to engage your kids in critical conversation—the more you talk to your kids about their online usage, the more they will learn to use digital products in a safe and healthy manner.


3. Keep Checking Your Kid’s Internet Activity: Keep computers in a central public location, check your child’s browsing histories, and limit your child’s computer time—there’s a whole world of outdoor and offline activities where they should be involved!


Follow ReputationDefender on Twitter at @RepDef

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sue Scheff: Promoting Community Education


One of the most important parts of any community is the local school system, and it’s easy for concerned parents and good citizens to become intimately involved in some important aspects of school decisions.

Becoming involved with local schools helps decide the direction of the youth in your community, which is of the upmost importance for the success of any community system.


A simple way to begin your citizen school involvement is by attending school board meetings. School board meetings help decide most of the important aspects of a school’s future, including school curriculum, dress code policy, disciplinary measures, budgeting, hiring teachers, new school buildings, and a variety of other things.
This is one the best ways to be a part of local school decision making, and if your school board is elected it allows you to vote on school board members while understanding the types of administrative issues that my affecting your kid. At the very least, attending school board meetings provides you with a better understanding of how to be a productive citizen in both the community and school system.


Many schools also seek volunteer help. This work could include anything from grading papers to providing transportation on school field trips. Most public school systems in this country are overcrowded and underfunded, so any volunteer work is looked upon favorably and can help the schools function better. In the end, maintaining the education of our younger generation is always a major part of a good citizen’s workload.


Another great way to get involved in education is organizing after school programs. Many schools have after school programs that they coordinate with volunteers designed to give kids something productive to do after school. Keeping kids out of trouble after school and stimulating them with meaningful work is an excellent way to promote community involvement and healthy learning. Studies show that kids who participate in afterschool programs and extracurricular activities are much more likely to succeed in school then those who don’t.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Sue Scheff: Parenting Tips - Family Time Out


School is opening in many areas of our country and soon kids and teens will be getting back into their academic schedule.


As a parent we need to be sure our teens are prepared not only with school supplies, but more importantly, with the self-esteem and motivation to have a fantastic academic and social year.

Parents and their teens need to take the time to open their lines of communication and turn off technology. Creating a “family-time-out” as part of your evening schedule can help you become more in tune to your child’s life; both at school and socially.

Take at least 15 minutes each evening and turn off all electronics. Including TV, cell phones, Computers, telephones (don’t answer), radio, Ipods, etc. Many families find that doing this in the later evening is easier; around 8:30-9:00pm after dinner when parents are home from their jobs and have had time to unwind.

Ask your teen how their day was? Did they meet any new friends? How are their teachers? What are they studying? I am amazed that many parents are so busy with their own work and lives, they are not aware of what subject a child is studying in school. With today’s technology, I always encourage parents to ask about virtual friends and where your teen is surfing online. Remember, being an educated parent can help you be a better parent.

Part of family-time-out is also sharing your day. Many teens are not aware of what their parents do or how they feel. Once your teen realizes that you are human too, with feelings that can get hurt by friends or co-workers, they will be more open to share their feelings with you.
As school opens, let’s start opening the lines of communication at home too.