Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sue Scheff: Hannah's Socks - Holidays Are About Giving

In Toledo, Ohio, on Thanksgiving Day in 2004, four-year-old Hannah Turner helped her mom, Doris, serve food at a local homeless shelter. She saw a man with holes in his shoes and no socks, and she asked her mom if she could offer the man her own socks. The next day, Hannah’s mom took her to buy more socks and distribute them to local shelters. That year, they collected and donated more than 100 pairs of socks in the area.
Over the next two years, Hannah distributed nearly 10,000 pairs of socks to shelters with the help of her mother, family and friends. Since then, Hannah’s Socks has collected more than 100,000 pairs of socks for homeless and domestic violence shelters.The annual Hannah’s Socks Holiday Sock Drive has just been launched this year, with The Clorox Company as its sponsor. Their goal is to gather and donate 10,000 pairs of new socks to underprivileged children’s programs, as well as homeless and domestic violence shelters.
Wouldn’t this be a wonderful project for your family to adopt this holiday season? It would be a simple but powerful way to teach your children about giving to those in need. Your efforts can take many forms:
- Donate socks
- Host a drop box/sock drive
- Donate funds
- Volunteer to sort and distribute socks
- Spread the word via Facebook, Twitter and word of mouth!
Visit to learn more about how your family can join the Hannah’s Socks Holiday Sock Drive this year!

Twitter: (tweet using the hashtag #HannahsSocks)

"P.S. Thanks to Mom Central for sharing this terrific cause with me!" -Susan Heim
Thanks to Susan Heim (Twitter @ParentingAuthor) for sharing this information!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teen Ambassador for Love Our Children USA

Last month Cati Grant was honored with the title of Teen Ambassador for Love Our Children USA. Cati demonstrates dedication and devotion to help stop bullying and cyberbullying. Her website,, offers tips and resources to help you and your children stay safe in cyberspace as well as learn about the issue of bullying in schools.

Recently Cati and the founder of Love Our Children USA, Ross Ellis, were featured on Fox News New York for a segment on bullying (pictured above). Love Our Children USA has expanded their organization with STOMPOUTBULLYING and continue to educate people and help children all over the country.

I interviewed Cati last month. Since this interview, she has attended Kids Are Heroes Day in Maryland as well as New York City to continue to be a voice against bullying.

Here is her interview from last month:

Q. Tell us about Cati Cares? When did you create it and why?

A. I created Cati Cares in June of 2008 as a birthday gift from my parents. I created it because I wanted to help other people, prevent cyber-bullying, and promote Internet safety to anyone with access to the Internet. I really wanted to start a movement of caring among teens.

Q. What tips do you have for kids that are being cyber bullied online?

A. Try not to encourage the bully and just try to ignore it…. do not respond, keep records of all contact and talk with a trusted adult. I cannot stress enough for anyone who is being bullied to speak with a trusted adult. There is so much more awareness about this issue than when I went through it several years ago, there are a lot more resources available for everyone to use. Don’t suffer in silence!

Q. Who inspires you and what motivates you?

A. I find inspiration from simple everyday things and I am constantly motivated by people who encourage me to keep up the work of Cati Cares.
Q. What are your long term goals for Cati Cares?

A. To keep the website up for anyone who might need guidance or help to deal with a bully. I have the domain registered for the next 10 years. I am excited that Cati Cares has given me the opportunity to meet so many wonderful new people. I plan to always be a community advocate.

Q. How do your family, friends and teachers feel about your crusade?

A. They all feel that I am doing a great job and that I am making a difference in the world today.

Q. Do you have other hobbies or activities you enjoy?

A. Yes, I love horses, science and cheerleading. I love walking my dog, Bella. I also enjoy reading and writing.

Q. What do you want to be when you grow up?

A. I want to be a veterinarian specifically for race horses. I love all animals and have been riding horses since I was 5 years old.

Q. I understand you are part of Love our Children USA, it is such an honor. Please tell us about it?

A. It is a great honor to be named the Teen Ambassador by Ross Ellis, she is such a wonderful person. I am excited for the future and happy to have another venue to raise awareness. If we all join together, we can eradicate bullying forever.

Q. You were also invited to participate in Kids Are Heroes Day 2009, another honor. Please tell us more about this special day?

A. Another amazing honor, I am so excited to attend Kids Are Heroes Day in Frederick, Maryland October 24, 2009. I hope to motivate other teens and kids to volunteer in their communities. I am also looking forward to meeting other Heroes. Everyone is invited to come out and meet us. It should be a pretty amazing weekend!

Q. Is there anything more you would like to share with us?

A. I would like to encourage anyone who is being bullied to speak with a trusted adult, they will listen. Middle school and High school will be the toughest years of your life! Be yourself and don’t let anyone else try to make you feel bad for that! I would also like to encourage anyone who is a witness to someone being bullied, speak up! You just might save someone’s life and become a hero. I have some advice for bullies; ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing? Stop before you are branded a bully for life.

You can follow Cati Grant on Twitter and visit her website at .

“Join the movement of TEENS caring. Take the PLEDGE not to cyberbully.” – Cati Grant

Monday, October 26, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teen Drivers

Having a new teen driver in your home can be extremely stressful, not to mention nerve wrecking! As a parent, we will provide the education they need to become a defensive driver, however there is nothing more priceless than experience. This doesn’t dismiss the classroom, however it is in addition to driving schools.

Parents need to be prepared before they get behind the wheel. Again, I have to recommend Crash Proof Your Kids by Timothy C. Smith. This is one of the most comprehensive books on new drivers I have read so far.

Last week we read about Keeping New Drivers Safe. Here is a recent article with some great parent tips from Connect with Kids.

Source: Connect with Kids

Defensive Driving Schools

“Every new driver needs to go through a defensive driving course – a classroom portion. But that just gives them the head knowledge. What young drivers especially need is experience.”

– Robert Wilson, National Safety Council

Today only 15 percent of new drivers get any kind of formal training before they get behind the wheel. That’s a dramatic change from 30 years ago when driver’s ed was nearly universal. On the other hand, today some young drivers get training that might be called driver’s ed on steroids.

Welcome to defensive driving at the racetrack. This isn’t your parents’ driver’s ed. The program is not only more extreme, it’s more expensive than conventional driving courses. But is it worth it?

“Oh, yeah,” says 17-year-old Erika, “because you think what happens if I flip the car, or what happens if I mess up, everybody’s looking, I’m gonna mess up…it’s scary out there.”

Her father, Dave, agrees. “Absolutely. I mean, I will worry less and I believe she’ll have more respect for the vehicle and what it can do, so yeah, hands down.”

Seventeen-year-old Andrew also has good things to say about the class. “I think it’s gonna help my confidence a lot. You stay relaxed. If something happens you don’t tense up and freak out.”

“Every new driver needs to go through a defensive driving course- a classroom portion,” explains Robert Wilson of the National Safety Council, “but that just gives them the head knowledge. What young drivers especially need is experience. The skid pad, for instance, is a great experience, teaching kids that if they are in a skid, how to handle it.”

Skidding, spinning and wiping out may seem like fun to some kids, but there is reason to be cautious, says Wilson. “The tendency, especially with young boys, might be to take lessons learned on the racetrack and convert that to regular highway driving and that certainly is a caution. I know the instructors at these schools strongly discourage that and explain that to the kids.”

Wilson adds that whatever course your child takes, it needs to be followed by driving lessons from mom or dad. “The parents need to be driving with these teenagers after this school experience, to reinforce the lessons learned, the proper lessons, and that speed is not acceptable under any conditions.”

Driving is a risky business for American teenagers. Despite spending less time driving than all other age groups (except the elderly), teenage drivers have disproportionately high rates of crashes and fatalities. Experts say that the high accident rates for teens are caused by a combination of factors, most notably teenagers’ immaturity and lack of driving experience. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System collected the following data about teenage drivers:

•Crashes are the leading cause of death among 16- to 19-year-olds.
•The majority of teenage passenger deaths occur when another teen is driving.
•Two-thirds of teens killed in motor vehicle crashes are male.
•Among teenage drivers, alcohol is a factor in 23 percent of fatal accidents involving males, 10 percent of fatal accidents involving females.
•More than half of the teenage motor vehicle deaths occur on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.
•Of those deaths, 41 percent occur between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Tips for Parents
The risks involved in letting a teenager get behind the wheel of a car are very real, but there are safety measures parents can take to improve the odds for beginning drivers. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety offers these tips:

•Don’t rely solely on driver education. High school driving courses may be the most convenient way to teach driving skills, but they don’t produce safer drivers.
•Supervise practice driving. Take an active role in helping your teen learn how to drive. Supervised practice should be spread over at least six months and continue even after your teen graduates from a learner’s permit to a restricted or full license.
•Remember, you are a role model. New drivers learn by example, so you must practice safe driving. Teens with crashes and violations often have parents with poor driving records.
•Restrict night driving. Most nighttime fatal crashes among young drivers occur between 9 p.m. and midnight, so your teen shouldn’t be driving much later than 9 p.m.
•Restrict passengers. Teenage passengers in a vehicle can distract a new driver and/or lead to greater risk-taking. The best policy is to restrict the number of teenage passengers your teen is allowed to transport.
•Require safety belts. Don’t assume that your teen is using a safety belt when he’s with his friends, just because he uses it when you’re together. Research shows that safety belt use is lower among teens than older people. Insist that your teen use a safety belt at all times.
•Prohibit driving after drinking. Make it clear that it is illegal and highly dangerous for a teen to drive after drinking alcohol or using any other drug. While alcohol isn’t a factor in most crashes of teenagers, even small amounts of alcohol are impairing for teens.
•Choose vehicles for safety, not image. Teens should drive vehicles that reduce their chances of a crash and offer protection in case they do crash. For example, small cars don’t offer the best protection in a crash. Avoid cars with performance images that might encourage speeding. Avoid trucks and sport utility vehicles, particularly the smaller ones, which are more prone to roll over.

•Drive Home Safe
•Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
•National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Also read Examiner article on New Teen Driver Resources.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sue Scheff: Halloween Safety Tips

Halloween is almost here! Many kids are already anxious with anticipation and excitement. Parents are busy either making their costumes or shopping for them. Be sure to take a few minutes to review these Halloween Safety Tips! They may sound like common sense, but we all need reminding.

•Have a parent or older sibling go trick or treating with you, or go in a group.
•Wear a costume that makes it easy for you to walk, see and be seen.
•Trick or treat in your own neighborhood. Go only to the homes of people you know.
•Carry a flashlight so you can been easily.
•Use makeup instead of a mask or anything that obscures your vision.
•Be sure your costume is flame retardant.
•Cross only at corners. Never cross the street between parked cars or in the middle of the block.
•Stay on sidewalks and be aware of cars that may be turning or backing out of driveways.
•Don’t go to homes that do not have their lights on.
•Always be polite, say thank you, even if you don’t care for the treat.
•Wait until you get home to sort, check, and eat your treats; accept only candy that is wrapped or packaged. Parents or an older sibling should help sort the treats.
Lastly, my favorite idea that can be a tip that I just learned about: Teaching gratitude on Halloween!

Happy Halloween! Have fun and stay safe!

Also on

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sue Scheff: Teens and Chat Room Safety

Does your child, teen or do you venture into “Chat Rooms” online? Chat rooms are among the riskiest places on the Net for children and teens. Most Internet Predators are lingering waiting for their next victim in a variety of chat rooms. Don’t allow it to be your child.

As a Parent Advocate, I encourage all parents to take the steps to educate your children about cyber safety with a strong emphasis on chat room safety. October is National Cyber Safety Awareness Month, which is a reason for you to set aside time to sit with your kids and discuss what lurks online.

Here are some great Chat Room safety tips from Connect Safely to share with your family:
Remember that what you say in a chat room or instant messaging session is live -- you can't take it back or delete it later.

Don’t say anything you wouldn’t want the public to know — this includes your full name, your address, phone number of other personal information.

Don't get together with someone you meet in a chat room. If you must, meet in a public place and bring along some friends.

Don’t reveal your actual location or when and where you plan to hang out.

Choose a nickname that's not sexually suggestive and doesn’t give away your real name.

If someone says or does something creepy, block them and don't respond.

Just sign out if the topic turns to sex. That can often lead somewhere you don't want to go.

Also on

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sue Scheff: Parenting Alert-Fashion Magazines Affect Our Daughters’ Physical & Emotional Health

Michele Borba, Parenting Guru and author of over 23 books, is voicing her opinion over the recent news in the fashion world. Our daughters' have enough to worry about with today's peer pressure and society always in their face with how they are supposed to look, act and more. Read Dr. Borba's excellent commentary and don't forget to pick up her recent book, Big Book of Parenting Solutions.

Parenting Alert-Fashion Magazines Affect Our Daughters’ Physical & Emotional Health

By Dr. Michele Borba

Warning: I’m ticked–or just darn-right over-the-top disgusted–about two recent events in the fashion world.

First up there was top fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld’s attack on the women’s magazine, Brigitte decision to start using “normal-size women” for models instead of the pencil-thin variety. Such a concept, eh? Well, here was Lagerfeld’s comment: “These are fat mummies sitting with their bags of crisps in front of the television. No one wants to see round women.” Starting to get a little riled? Keep reading….

Then there was last week’s equally disturbing incident involving Ralph Lauren’s fashion house. RL and company finally apologized for doctoring one of their advertisements, which had an already stick-thin model look even—if this is even possible–thinner. Did you see that picture???? AHHH!

For some reason our culture just loves the pencil-thin look—and it’s everywhere. When’s the last time you flipped through a fashion or celebrity magazine? Only one body type is flaunted: thin, thinner, or thinnest. Make no mistake those images do influence our daughters’ eating habits.

REALITY CHECK: A five-year study of 2516 teens by the American Psychological Association found that girls who frequently read those dieting and weight loss articles are far more likely to fast, vomit, or use laxatives to lose weight. In fact, the data proved that the more frequently a girl reads those fashion magazines, the more likely she is to resort to extreme weight control behaviors.

And it appears far too many girls are partaking in extreme measures to achieve this absurd unhealthy, “unnormal” appearance to achieve “the thinner the better” look.

While researching eating disorders for my book The Big Book of Parenting Solutions I discovered scathing statistics. Here are just a few of those troubling trends about American children and their attitudes about their body image that should sound an alarm:

At least ten percent of all adolescent girls now suffer from eating disorders. The disease has no boundaries: male or female, young or old, urban or rural, Catholic or Jewish, black or white. Boys now make up about 30 percent of younger children with eating disorders. And the rates are only increasing. Children as young as six these days are diagnosed with eating disorders. Over ten years ago 34 percent of high school girls thought they were overweight; 90 percent believe they are today.

Here’s more troubling news:

•Half of girls eight to ten years old and one-third of boys are unhappy with their size
•42 percent of six through eight-year old girls want to be thinner
•40 percent nine year olds have been on a “diet” and nine percent have vomited to lose weight
•51 percent of nine-ten year old girls feel better about themselves when dieting.
•Eighty-one percent of ten year olds fear being too fat
•30 to 55 percent of girls start dieting in middle school. Preteen girls struggling with low self-esteem are particularly vulnerable to images of thin models and celebrities

It’s time to recognize just how destructive this super-thin obsession has on our daughters and how it undermines self-esteem and encourages eating disorders.

And then we must make a concerted, collected pledge to help our girls develop healthier attitudes about their body for their physical as well as emotional health.

Here are a few beginning parenting solutions to help our daughters (and don’t forget our sons):

Monitor the media your child consumes a bit closer (and make sure those bodybuilding magazines do not consume your son as well).

Limit your child’s access to magazines that promote the “thin-is-better” look and get her a subscription to healthier alternatives.

Teach your child to be media literate and resist the ways television, movies and magazines portray underweight women as “glamorous,” and muscle-bound men as “all-powerful.”

Talk frankly about the unglamorous reality of eating disorders (damaged teeth; hair loss; osteoporosis, brittle fingernails, as well as even possible death).

And while you’re at it, put down those celerity and fashion magazines with those covers are plastered with skinny pop stars and model. Your child is taking notes.

But most important: please help your child find healthier alternatives and help her learn to love herself from the inside-out.

For more research-based tips to turn around this troubling trend, healthier new habits to teach our kids, how to recognize the signs of eating disorders, and the latest scientific findings refer to The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries in the chapters on Eating Disorders, Perfectionism, Role Models, and Dress and Appearance.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sue Scheff: All things kids - Books, toys, games, restaurants, camps and more!

If you haven't visited yet, take a few minutes and see what kids are talking about today and what items they like and why!

Lane Sutton is expanding his passion of being a National Kid Critic! He welcomes all things kids! Do you have kid friendly websites, services, products, camps, toys, books and more? Let Lane offer his review from a kid's perspective! What can help your business better than having your item reviewed by the very audience you are promoting it to?

Follow Lane on Twitter at @KidCriticUSA and find out more! You can contact him directly by emailing him at - He is located on the East Coast but welcomes business owners from all over the country! Are you a Public Relations Firm looking for some free promo for clients representing kid-tween-teen items (books, toys, etc) - contact Lane today!

The best part is - this is free advertising for you when Lane posts his reviews! He also Tweets them too! Holiday's are coming - it is marketing time for those shoppers!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Sue Scheff: Mother's against Internet Predators

October is National Cyber Safety Awareness Month. It is a time for parents to become educated on where their kids and teens surf online. Who are they chatting with? Who are they sending photo’s to? Where are they posting information?

During this month, I am going to bring you different valuable resources, websites, and tips to help you become more familiar with Cyber Safety and Cyber Protection.

In Broward County, Florida, we have an organization, Mothers Against Predators. This group is put in place to create an awareness of what lurks online as well as helping you protect your children. Internet Predators do not discriminate, any child is at risk if not properly taught about how to stay safe in cyberspace.

Learn more:

Mothers Against Predators is a non-profit corporation whose mandate is to promote legislation and education to facilitate the creation on an effective defense against Internet predators. Through outreach programs and advocacy groups, M.A.P. will educate children and parents on effective ways to be protected from Internet predators, and how to properly report inappropriate or illegal behavior. M.A.P. works in partnership with local and national elected officials and law enforcement to create effective legislation and laws to provide a defense against Internet predators.
Visit their website today and learn more:

Also on

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Sue Scheff: School Conferences with Your Child's Teachers

School Family is a fantastic website with a wealth of information. Here is a great list of questions you need to be ready for as parent teacher conferences are being scheduled.


• How is the school working to keep students on track
and/or raise achievement?
• How can I stay aware of what my child’s assignments
are and how my child is doing in class?
• [In the fall:] What are students expected to master by
the end of the year? How will you be gauging my
child’s progress toward these goals?
• If my child is falling behind, how will I be notified?


• Any changes in the home or family situation that
might affect your child (behavior, achievement,
or other)
• Whether your child is experiencing difficulties
(academic, social, or other) at school


• What are my child’s academic strengths? What
areas need improvement?
• What is my child’s current achievement level and
how does it compare with other students in the
same age group?
• What specific things can I do to support my child
and reinforce classroom lessons at home?
• How do you view my child’s emotional and
social skills?
• With whom does my child socialize? How does my
child relate to peers and adults?
• How does my child do with working in groups and
working independently?
• Does my child exhibit a good attitude toward
learning? Does my child make a good effort on
assignments and turn in completed assignments?
• Does my child stay on task well or need frequent
reminders? Has my child been developing good
work habits?
• Does my child participate in class? Does my child
behave in class?
• How much time should my child be spending on
homework each night?
• Have you noticed any issues that need to be
addressed or interests to be encouraged?
Follow School Family on Twitter.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sue Scheff: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It is a perfect time to speak with your daughters about this serious subject, especially if it has touched someone in your family. Part of dealing with a serious illness is better understanding it. Open up your lines of communication.

Here is an inspiring and touching book written by a Cartoonist everyone recognizes, Tom Wilson aka Ziggy!

Ziggy Cartoonist Shares Story of Loss of Wife to Breast Cancer

New Book Zigzagging: How Ziggy Saved My Life by Tom Wilson

Cleveland, OH – (October 1, 2009) – How does a man find new, original and humorous optimistic sentiments each day while watching his wife lose her battle with breast cancer? Ziggy cartoonist Tom Wilson reveals his story of love, loss and overcoming depression with the help of a character that millions of people smile at every day.

In Zig-zagging: Loving Madly, Losing Badly – How Ziggy Saved My Life (HCI Books – $17.95), Wilson takes readers along with Ziggy, through tremendous family tragedies, deep depression, and learning to live happily, meanwhile always being an inspiration to millions of everyday readers.

Much of Wilson’s memoir is centered on the journey he took with his young wife after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

”Particularly in October, when there is so much focus on breast cancer awareness, I want to share with all of the other families out there, a personal experience about how breast cancer affected me and my life,” Wilson explains. “I don’t pretend to know what it is like to have cancer, but I consider myself a survivor because I watched it tear my life apart. My perspective is for all of the other spouses, sons and daughters, who deal with this disease when it moves into their lives.”

Like Ziggy, Tom Wilson has turned tragedy into a learning experience and readers can be inspired by the humorous healing touches throughout the book. Through the occasional appearance of Ziggy cartoons across the pages, the book deftly treats its readers to “comic relief” along Wilson’s occasional sad road.

Ziggy first appeared in newspapers in June 1971. Tom Wilson has drawn and written Ziggy since 1987, after the retirement of his father, the senior Tom Wilson, who first created Ziggy as a greeting card character. Now distributed through Universal Press Syndicate, a division of Andrews McMeel Universal, Ziggy is published in more than 600 newspapers, reaching 75 million readers daily, and maintains an online presence through and

Order on Amazon today. Read exerpts of Zig-Zagging in my Examiner article. Tom Wilson will also be presenting at the Miami Book Fair International in November.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Sue Scheff: Bullying Victims

Don't forget this week is STOMP OUT BULLYING Week.

“They just think that that’s a part of high school, like that’s just the process they go through.”

– Becky, 17 years old

A child is taunted in the hallway, a child is pushed in the bathroom, and another child is punched on the bus. The latest numbers on bullying show that one in four students is bullied, one in five admits to being a bully, over a quarter of a million kids are physically attacked each month, and eight percent of students have missed school because they were afraid.

“People don’t usually take a stand about that because they’re too scared,” says Brittany, 15.

“And I can remember the names of every single kid who used to kick me, jump me, take my lunch, push me around,” says Nam, 19.

Experts say bully victims often become depressed and isolated and that those feelings can last into adulthood.
“That they go to work and they can’t stand up and speak for themselves. They go to do something in their religious community, and they don’t feel empowered to give back – something that they want to do, that will make them part of the community. They just don’t have it. It got shut down in school through the systematic abuse,” explains Dr. David Fenstermaker, a psychologist and expert on school violence.

Bullying has been around since the days of the one-room schoolhouse, but kids say parents still don’t understand.

“A large percentage of the students at our school get bullied every day. The ones that don’t are the bullies themselves,” says Brittany, 15.

Experts say it’s vital that you learn about your child’s school day … every day. And sometimes, specifically ask about bullying. “You can be sensitive, have empathy with them so they realize they are not alone. That’s one of the most devastating feelings is that you feel, ‘I’m all alone in this. Nobody understands, nobody cares,’” says Dr. Allen Carter, a psychologist.

Carter says parents should take their children’s fears seriously. They must talk to teachers, the principal, the bully’s parents … do whatever it takes to stop the pain.

“Ten years later, and I still got it embedded in my mind,” Nam says.

Tips for Parents
Parental involvement is the key to reducing and preventing bullying and the problems it brings. The NCPC offers the following tips to help prevent bullying incidents in your child’s school and community:

■Listen to your child. Encourage him or her to talk about school, social events, classmates and the walk or ride to and from school so you can identify any problems he or she may be experiencing.
■Take your child’s complaints of bullying seriously. Probing a seemingly minor complaint may uncover more severe grievances.
■Watch for symptoms that your child may be a bullying victim. These symptoms include withdrawal, a drop in grades, torn clothes or the need for extra money or supplies.
■Tell the school or organization immediately if you think that your child is being bullied. Alerted caregivers can carefully monitor your child’s actions and take steps to ensure his or her safety.
■Work with other parents in your neighborhood. This strategy can ensure that children are supervised closely on their way to and from school.
■Teach your child nonviolent ways to resolve arguments.
■Teach your child self-protection skills. These skills include how to walk confidently, staying alert to what’s going on around him or her and standing up for himself or herself verbally.
■Help your child learn the social skills needed to make friends. A confident, resourceful child who has friends is less likely to be bullied or to bully others.
■Praise your child’s kindness toward others. Let him or her know that kindness is valued.
■Don’t bully your child yourself, physically or verbally. Use nonphysical, consistently enforced discipline measures as opposed to ridiculing, yelling or ignoring your child when he or she misbehaves.
Although anyone can be the target of a bully, victims are often singled out based on psychological traits more than physical traits. The National Resource Center for Safe Schools says that passive loners are the most frequent victims, especially if they cry easily or lack social self-defense skills. Many victims are unable to deflect a conflict with humor and don’t think quickly on their feet. They are usually anxious, insecure and cautious and suffer from low self-esteem. In addition, they rarely defend themselves or retaliate and tend to lack friends, making them easy to isolate. Therefore, it is vital that you instill confidence in your child and empower him or her to become a healthy, socially adjusted adult.

■Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
■National Crime Prevention Council
■National Institute of Child Health & Human Development
■National Resource Center for Safe Schools

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sue Scheff: Parenting Teens - Flavored Cigarette Ban

Flavored Cigarette Ban

“They’re marketing towards us, and there’s not much we can do about it but just not buy it.”

– Forrest, 18

The Food and Drug Administration has now banned flavored cigarettes in American in an attempt to lower the teen smoking rate. Clove and mint and chocolate flavored cigarettes will no longer be sold in the U.S. But already tobacco companies are finding loop-holes in the new FDA rules.

The packaging was sleek with the promise of a sweet smell and taste.

“I saw two of them,” says Adina, 15. “One of them was, like, Kahlua flavored, and one was, like, lime.

Another teen, who doesn’t want us to use his name, says he tried them once. “I guess ‘cause it had a flavor to it.”

Flavored cigarettes are now banned under new FDA legislation, but tobacco companies have found a way to keep their hands in the primarily under-30 market: flavored cigars.

Still, experts say, parents have the power to keep their kids from picking up the habit. “Sitting down and talking about how advertising works, how companies — regardless of what they’re advertising — what hooks they use in trying to manipulate you into buying products,” says Linda Lee, anti-smoking advocate.

Forrest, 18, says teens can take matters a step further. “They’re marketing towards us, and there’s not much we can do about it but just not buy it.”

Tips for Parents
Patrick Reynolds was the first tobacco industry executive to turn his back on the cigarette makers. His grandfather founded tobacco company R.J. Reynolds, but the family's cigarette brands, Camel and Winston, killed his father and eldest brother. He has devoted his life to the goal of a smoke-free society and motivates young people to stay tobacco free. Patrick Reynolds first spoke against tobacco to Congress in 1986. Over the years he has reached over a million youngsters through his talks to school groups.

■One study shows that 25 percent of 12- to 13-year-olds who smoke as few as two or three cigarettes a day become addicted in just two weeks.
■It takes the average smoker 17 years to quit.
■Tobacco products cause mental and physical addiction in users.
■It’s very hard to quit: 95 percent who quit without an aid go back to smoking within a year, 85 percent of those who use a patch, gum or other program to quit are unsuccessful for more than one year.
■The average smoker spends $1,200 on the addiction each year.
■Most smokers started smoking as teens, and 40 percent of smokers will die from a disease resulting from their addiction.
■In the United States, smoking causes one of every five deaths. Cigarettes kill 1,200 Americans every day, or 420,000 Americans each year. Globally, deaths total 5 million annually.

Every day in the United States, 3,000 teens become newly addicted to smoking. Smoking ads are designed to manipulate minds. Teens represent any business’ future. Tobacco companies are extremely sensitive to this fact and look to find new users in young demographics.

■Today 75 percent of Americans do not smoke, and this percentage is even lower among teens. Remind children that being a non-smoker is normal and widely accepted.
■Eighty-six percent of teens say they don’t want to date someone who smokes.
■Movie characters are more likely to smoke than people in real life. Films mislead many teens into thinking that smoking is more popular than it really is.
■Stores are paid up to $100 a month for each countertop display of tobacco products in the store. Plus, they make a lot of money from the cigarettes their customers buy.
■In many places it is illegal to smoke indoors. Tell your child that he or she will be smoking outside of his or her future workplace and college and will be doing so in the heat, cold, rain, snow, etc.

■Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
■The Foundation for a Smokefree America