Essential Life Skills for Teens Before They Leave Home

We all hope our kids move out of our house at some point, whether off to college or a career. Great Schools has a list of 14 must-have life skills that teenagers need before they head off on their own. The time to teach them these skills is during those middle and high school years, and it can take some responsibilities off your plate as well. Among those needed skills are:

  • How to do the laundry
  • How to clean the bathroom
  • How to plunge a toilet
  • How to boil water—and more
  • How to budget
  • How to use a credit card
  • Trusting their inner voice
  • How (and when) to ask for help

Check out the full article for more information on these skills and others that your teen needs before they leave the nest.

Helping Your Child When They’re Excluded

It’s a powerless feeling as a parent—your child is being excluded from a group at school, often a group they’ve been friends with for years. That exclusion is a form of bullying known as relational aggression, and can occur online and in person. It can include gossiping, spreading rumors, public humiliation, alliance building, and social isolation. But unlike physical bullying or verbal harassment, it can be hard to spot.

According to a survey by The Ophelia Project, 48% of students in grades 5 through 12 are regularly involved in or witness relational aggression. Students between the ages of 11 and 15 report being exposed to 33 acts of relational aggression during a typical week.

An article at Great Schools provides six ways you can help your child deal with relational aggression. The solution involves teaching them coping skills and how to find healthy friendships. The six strategies are:

  1. Watch for the signs.
  2. Use conversation starters.
  3. Make a friendship tree.
  4. Create a personal billboard.
  5. Problem solve together.
  6. Create a coping kit.

Helping your child deal with relational aggression can minimize the issues that can stem from this form of bullying. Children who experience relational aggression are absent more from school, do worse academically, and exhibit more behavior problems, eating disorders, substance abuse, symptoms of depression and anxiety, and low self-esteem. Read the full article for how to implement each of the six strategies.

Understanding Financial Aid Award Letters

If you have a college-bound senior, you might be dealing with one of the more confusing parts of helping your child decide which college admission to accept—figuring out what the financial aid award letter means and how those offers from different colleges compare. The SLM Corporation, known as Sallie Mae, the federal banking partner that runs the student loan program, has a useful page to help you decode what a financial aid award letter means.

The page provides answers to questions such as:

  • What’s in a financial aid award letter?
  • What do COA, EFC, and other parts of the letter mean?
  • How to you compare financial aid packages?
  • How do loans, grants, and scholarships compare in an financial aid award letter?
  • Do I have to accept all of the financial aid offered in the letter?

The site also offers a short video with four tips on how to read an award letter. Make sure that you an d your child have the information you need to make a college decision that is right for them and for your family’s financial situation. Check out Sallie Mae’s page and other information on the site.

Photo © 2016 by airpix under Creative Commons license.

Talking to Kids About Violence

As the nation deals with yet another school shooting, many parents may be struggling about how to talk about violence with their children. Parents can no longer just keep the TV news off and assume their kids won’t see or hear much about an event, as the latest shooting had students sharing videos and pictures from inside the school on social media. Many schools now have active shooter drills that they practice, just like fire drills and tornado drills. It has become impossible to shield our children from these acts of violence, and thus important that we talk with them about those events.

The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) has an article, along with a shareable PDF and infographic, on how to talk to children about violence. The key points:

  • Reassure children that they are safe.
  • Make time to talk.
  • Keep your explanations developmentally appropriate.
  • Review safety procedures.
  • Observe children’s emotional state.
  • Limit television viewing of these events.
  • Maintain a normal routine.

When talking with your child, NASP suggests emphasizing these points:

  • Schools are safe places.
  • We all play a role in school safety.
  • There is a difference between reporting, tattling, or gossiping.
  • Although there is no absolute guarantee that something bad will never happen, it is important to understand the difference between the possibility of something happening and the probability that it will affect you or your school.
  • Senseless violence is hard for everyone to understand.
  • Sometimes people do bad things that hurt others.
  • Stay away from guns and other weapons.
  • Violence is never a solution to personal problems.

Read the full article for additional information on all of these points. Share the PDF with your PTA members. Use the infographic on your PTA’s social media.