When The Nice Girls Have To Fight Off The “Mean Girls” In Today’s School System

Being a nice girl isn’t always easy; sometimes, you have to deal with a group of mean girls in school, which can be one of the most difficult things to do. When you’re the parent of a girl who is getting bullied by other girls, it can be hard to help her cope, but here are some ideas to make life a little easier for her.

Listen to Her

It can be so difficult to listen to your daughter talk about her problems and not try to solve them right away. But this can start to make her feel like she isn’t really being heard or that her problems have an easy solution. Instead, start by listening. Let her get out all of her frustrations by just venting. Try not to solve the problem right away, and after she manages to talk about it, she really will start to feel a little better.

Choose Your Words Carefully

When your daughter is done telling you about the issues at school, make sure to choose your words carefully. Very Well gives a few tips on advice parents can tell their daughters in a mean girl situation, including

  • “Remember to stay strong and to be confident in yourself.”
  • “Don’t just respond right away when they are making fun of you. Think about what you’re going to say back. This is a way of having control over the situation.”
  • “Don’t let this take your focus away from school. After all, you’re there to learn.”

Show Her Support

Another one of the best ways to help her is just to remind her that you understand her feelings, you care about her, and you will always be there to listen and support her. This problem might not be solved overnight, so showing her you’re there for her will make all the difference in the world.

Help Her Recognize Good Friends from Bullies

iMom gives this advice: teach your daughter to be able to recognize the difference between bullies and friends. Help her learn that people who truly care about her won’t behave this way. Then, dig deeper as to why these mean girls have been so cruel. Remind her that bullies often act out because they are attempting to control their own situations and are doing so in the wrong way.

Additional Support for Parents

Parenting a teen is not easy, especially girls. There's a lot of support for parents, so don't think twice reaching out for it.

​Gift Giving During The Holidays – How Much Is Too Much?

There are basic rules to follow when it comes to giving baby shower gifts, wedding presents, and other structured events. But there seem to be no rules around holiday gift giving, especially when it comes to children.

Should parents lavish gifts on their children and make the holidays memorable? Or is it better to give a few quality presents? There is also the “naughty or nice” conundrum. Many parents threaten to take away presents if a child is naughty, though it is unsure if those parents follow through with this threat.

We have found through our work with troubled youth, overly indulged teens tend to struggle with various issues. So if you are considering packing in the presents this year, consider some of our research on why that may not be in the best interest of your teenager.

Materialism Can Disrupt Mental Health

Most parents work hard to provide for their children. They want to be able to give their children everything. But this can have destructive side-effects. Research has been done looking into psychological costs of material wealth. Children who have parents activity pursuing wealth have been found to struggle with:

  • Depression
  • Substance abuse
  • Anxiety
  • Self-esteem

Two of the main factors that have been identified are:

  • Excessive parental pressure on children to succeed - Many parents want their children to reach a higher level of success than the parents were able to reach. However, this pressure may push children away from their actual dreams so the children can pursue their parent's vision.
  • Children feeling isolated from parents - While the goal of many affluent parents pursuing money is to provide for their families, children just see that their parents are not around. Buying lavish gifts for holidays can’t make up for missing all the other days in the year.

Rather than working yourself into the ground to justify buying more presents, try to be more present in your child’s life. Engage in activities with your kids and give them the greatest gift - the gift of your time.

Ways To Alter Holiday Gift-Giving

Not all is lost if you have previously engaged in holiday gift-giving blowouts. We have some ideas you can implement to help shift your children away from the more material aspects of the holidays.

  • Serve others - While many soup kitchens are booked far in advance for holiday service, there are ways your family can serve others. Caroling neighbors and nursing homes, shoveling snow for others, and adopting a family in need for the holiday are some ways your family can move the focus away from gifts.
  • Gifting limits - Set limits on presents. It can be tempting to just keep adding to the present pile but avoid the temptation. Instead, set monetary limits, or mandate that all presents need to be homemade, or other limits as you see fit.
  • Talent-finding presents - Rather than buying the latest bit of tech, give your children the gift of talent exploration. Try giving each child some kind of creative supplies, like art supplies, instruments, and craft kits. Learning new skills can boost your child’s self-esteem.

So while we can’t give you a hard number on how many presents are too many, consider the effects of focusing too much on materialism. If you are concerned that your family may be struggling with some of these materialism-related problems, we hope you can use some our solutions to help your children back on track.

How To Work With Your Son’s School Teachers

As parents you know the importance of education and the impact it can have on the rest of your child's life. Your teen however, usually doesn't see further into the future than the coming weekend. It is for this reason that working with your child's teachers is vital to ensure they thrive in school. By incorporating these steps into your weekly routine, you'll notice a positive change in your child's school performance.

Resolve Past Issues

It's hard to establish a good learning environment if your child doesn't get along well with his teacher. If your child complains about his teacher "not liking" or "always picking" on him, chances are there is a reason why. Send out a quick email to your child's teacher asking if something was done to offend them or disrupt the class in any way. If the response is yes, have your child apologize and maybe go as far as bringing in a plate of goodies for the teacher. A simple apology can go a long way to mending the relationship between student and teacher.

Establish Common Goals

Once you've resolved any past issues your child may have had with their teacher, the next step is to have a meeting with you, your teen and their teacher. Within this meeting there are several points that you should address.

  • Identify the Problem- Are you concerned about your teen's grades, are they not being challenged enough, are you wondering if they should be put in a different class? Identify exactly what it is that needs to be worked on so that together you can establish a solution.
  • Possible Reasons- Once you know exactly what the problem is, you can begin to figure out what may be causing these issues.
  • How to Fix It- Now that you know what the problem is, and what is causing it, the next step is to resolve the issue. This will require participation from the teacher, you and your teen.

    • The Teacher- Some quick fixes the teacher may want to incorporate are; moving your child's seat so they aren't distracted by friends and providing you with a list of the class assignments.
    • You- Once you know your child's daily assignment, make sure they are getting the work done each day.
    • Your Teen- Needs to commit to doing their assignments each day and asking for help when they need it.

Open Communication

After coming up with some solutions to help your child better succeed in school, continue to have an open dialogue with your teen's teacher. Never feel like you are being a burden or annoying your child's teacher, they want to see your child thrive in school and appreciate parents who are actively involved in their children's education.

In a survey done by the University of Phoenix, they found that while 97 percent of teachers want parents to be involved, only 8 percent of K-12 grade teachers said that 75-100 percent of their parents were involved in the classroom.

Keep an open line of communication, that way if you ever have any concerns or are curious about your child's progress in school all you have to do is ask. Don't wait until your child's next report card to realize that something needs to be done.

Get Ahead of the Curb

At the beginning of each semester, ask to receive an extra syllabus so that you and your child can have a copy. By having a syllabus for each of your child's classes you will know exactly what is expected from them and help them prepare to meet those expectations. Teenagers aren't the greatest at managing their time, leaving it up to you as their parent to teach them. For example, if you notice your child has a big project coming up in their English class, encourage them to finish homework in their other classes early so they can focus all their attention on the project.

Make it a habit each night to bring out your child's syllabuses as well as their homework to ensure that they got the work done they needed to. This daily ritual will ensure that your child succeeds in school.

Find them the Help They Need

There will be areas in your child's schooling where they thrive and other subjects where they may struggle. It is important to get your child the help they need so they can learn the material and do well in all their classes. If you are able to teach them and help them understand then great, otherwise help them find a tutor, a study group or encourage them to get after school help from their teacher until they are able to understand the material.

Involvement Makes A Difference

Being this involved in your child's schooling may make you feel like a helicopter parent. You may start to wonder, wouldn't it be better if they did this on their own? On the contrary, research shows that there are a number of benefits to parents and their children when the parents are involved in their schooling.

Benefits to Parents

  • Parents are more attentive to all of their child's needs.
  • Gain of confidence in their parenting.
  • By being involved in their child's schooling, there are more opportunities for positive reinforcement and affection.
  • Awareness of your child's school curriculum.
  • You and your child can bond through your shared knowledge of your child's curriculum.
  • Parents become more active in school policies.

Benefits to Children

  • Achieve more regardless of their race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status or their parents' education
  • Earn better grades
  • Score better on tests
  • Have a better attendance record
  • Complete their homework consistently
  • Pass their classes
  • Have higher self-esteem
  • Be more self-disciplined
  • Have better social skills
  • Have a more positive outlook on schooling

Next time you worry you're being "too involved", remember all of the many benefits that have a positive effect on you and your child.

By implementing these steps into your family's routine, you will be able to establish a worthwhile relationship with your child's teachers. This relationship will allow you to accomplish your mutual goal of seeing your child succeed in school.

Step-Parents and Troubled Step-Children

Parenting your own children is challenging enough, but what do you do when you're a step-parent faced with troubled step-children? This question can be a tricky one to answer, because every situation and family is different, but there are some basic things you can do to improve a step-parent/step-child relationship.

Unfortunately, the step-parent stigma still exists today, thanks largely to media portrayal {think Cinderella's wicked step-mother}. The good news is that doesn't mean the stigma is true, nor does it have to be. Look at it this way: step-parents have a unique opportunity to be an advocate for their step-children--another caring adult they can rely on as they grow and mature. How do you accomplish this, especially if your step-children are troubled?

  • Troubled step-children may be grieving for the loss of their parents' marriage, and this can go on for a long time. Allow them the time they need to grieve and the space to do it. Don't put undue expectations on them. They probably won't feel any respect or love for you right away--don't make them feel they have to. If the other parent has died, allow your step-children to talk openly with you about their deceased parent and their feelings. As they can share their feelings with you without fear of judgement or recrimination, your relationship with them will grow.
  • Be sure that you do not talk bad about the other parent in front of the children, ever. Even if the other parent deserves it! You run the risk of alienating your step-children, especially if they feel that you are out to get their Mom or Dad.
  • Teens have said that all they really need is a friend, not another parent. This gives you, the step-parent, an opening into their lives if you take it. Be a friend and a good listener, someone he can rely on to help them and to be objective.
  • Make sure to support your new spouse in whatever co-parenting decisions they make with their ex. Your starring role should be as the best supporting player there ever was. Your step-children will notice and appreciate this, not to mention your spouse!
  • Take the time to develop honesty and trust between you and your step-children. Take an interest in what interests them. If they tell you something, keep it in confidence. As you show them you truly care, they'll develop that trust that is so important in all family relationships, step or not.

If you have a step-child who is really struggling with your blended family, perhaps by acting out against others and/or themselves, seek help. Liahona Academy provides experienced, caring, residential therapy for troubled teens and their families.

Understanding Everything in Moderation, Especially “Unproductive” Technology Use

Technology--we could probably all agree that it's both good and bad. The uses for it are myriad and range from extremely useful to extremely unproductive, and sometimes even harmful. Many of today's teens, and even adults, fall victim to technology's unproductive and harmful enticements every day.

We've all heard the term "everything in moderation," but how do we understand this cliched {yet true} phrase in light of unproductive technology use? Let's take a more in-depth look at this issue.

Everything in Moderation

The phrase, "moderation in all things," has been around since the time of ancient Greece. It is generally regarded as a wise philosophy, since it's fairly obvious that most anything in excess {food, drink, exercise, sleep, etc.} can be harmful. Perhaps the best way to look at it is with the eye of balance. For example, too much sleep isn't good for our bodies, but neither is too little. So we all try to strike the perfect balance of getting enough sleep each night, without getting too little or too much. The same is important for technology use.

What is Unproductive Technology Use?

To answer that question, let's think about what is meant by productive technology use. Productive use of technology can mean different things to different people, but generally speaking, spending time on work projects, homework, or looking for information that will better our daily life is productive. Unproductive technology use is time spent wasted on social networking, aimlessly surfing celebrity news sites, binge watching TV shows or movies, etc. It also includes risky practices such as spending time in chat rooms or looking at pornography. If your teen is spending too much time in any form of unproductive technology use, you need to help change that.

Why is Unproductive Technology Use Harmful?

Jean M. Twenge wrote an article about her research into teens and smartphone use. She calls today's teens the iGen, because their growing up years have been marked by the rise in popularity of social media and the widespread use of smartphones. Members of this generation don't even remember a time before the internet. Her research shows that smartphone use has radically impacted teens' social interactions and their mental health.

What Can Parents Do?

First of all, make sure you practice what you preach. If your teen feels he can't get your attention because you are constantly looking at your own smartphone, there won't be much you can say to convince him to stop wasting time on his. Make the effort to be accessible and give your teen your full attention, especially when he asks for it. Create teaching moments on a daily basis to help you connect with your teen in more personal and valuable ways. These teaching moments are what lead to discussions about technology use and other issues that teens face today.

Does Your Teen Need Help?

If you believe your teen is spending too much time on unproductive technology use in any form, there is help. Liahona Academy has programs to help teen boys with emotional issues, mental health issues, and even addictions that can stem from unproductive technology use.

Education for Parents with Troubled Teens

Parenting troubled teens isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes strength, confidence, and knowledge to get through it. The following are just some of the ways you can find the education needed to be the best parent to your struggling teen.

Local Community

Most communities have support groups and workshops for parents. These meetings discuss the issues parents have during adolescence. It’s a great way to learn from guest speakers who may be psychologists, physicians, and specialists. Since there will be other parents there, you will be able to meet others who understand what you’re going through and be able to help you.

Therapy

Many parents set up therapy appointments for their troubled teens, but they don’t set them up for themselves. It’s a wise idea to do this because a therapist can provide a wealth of information on how to approach situations. Not only will it be a good way to vent all the thoughts and feelings you’re having, but you’ll also be able to walk away with the knowledge of what to do when crises occur again.

Books

Many child and adolescent specialists have written books on how to care for at-risk youth. Visit your local library or search online for books related your experiences. For example, if you believe your teen may be using drugs or alcohol, search for books on that topic. You’ll learn how to approach the subject with your teenager, and what to do if you’ve already said something and it’s made the situation worse.

Online Resources

The Internet provides extraordinary amounts of information you can use to parent your teen.

PBS has articles, resources, and videos on how to deal with some of the most common behaviors of troubled adolescents.

HelpGuide.org has detailed information on what to do when you’re faced with a teen who is engaging in risky behaviors. It also provides insight into why your teenager may be misbehaving.

ParentingTeens.com has articles on just about every issue a teen can struggle with in high school. You can find information on mental illness, substance abuse, bullying, violence, peer pressure, and more.

HelpYourTeenNow.com hosts hundreds of articles for parents struggling with their child’s behaviors. You’ll gain knowledge to tackle every situation with strength and confidence.

Troubled Teen Boarding Schools

Boarding schools, such as Liahona Academy, offer many benefits to parents. Not only is it a place where troubled teenagers can live to get away from peer pressure, learn better coping strategies, and understand why their actions are dangerous, but it’s also a place for parents to learn how to reconnect with their child. Workshops, therapy sessions, and discussions with specialists can help you take control of the situation you’re currently in, so you can guide your teenager back on a path that will make him successful in life.

If you’re struggling emotionally, mentally, and physically because of your teenager’s behaviors, contact Liahona Academy for help today. We can help you understand what has happened, and know what needs to happen to help your teen become a responsible, caring, and confident adult.

Co-Parenting Life Hacks After Divorce

Divorce is one of the most difficult and heartbreaking processes a person can go through. After years of trouble in a marriage it can seem like a relief when the decision to end things has been made, but there is still the difficulties associated with splitting your lives apart and starting over separately.

Coparenting is one of the more difficult challenges associated with divorce. Trying to raise children in two different homes without ripping one another’s heads off can be hard for even the more harmonious of broken couples.

Whether you get along with your ex-spouse or want to tie them to train tracks, here are some life hacks you can use to at least co-parent effectively. Even if you drive one another nuts.

  1. Use An App To Enforce Agreements - You spent all that time in mediation figuring out the financial and custody arrangements. Why leave the enforcement of them to your own potentially bungled planning? You need to keep track of everything, from purchases to days spent with each parent to child support. There are apps out there that help you to do that, creating calendars, keeping track of financial information and more. Make sure you both have it, if possible.
  2. Plan Shared Family Events - This probably sounds very counter intuitive. Why would you want to spend time with your ex? You divorced them so you didn’t have to! Well, they are still the other half of the parenting dynamic and while you would probably rather avoid getting too close to your ex, your children almost certainly miss doing things as a family. Every few months try and organize a small family outing where you and your spouse are both present.
  3. Discuss Small Home Details and Try and Merge Them - With small children especially it can be hard having one set of rules one place and another at a different place. Add that to rules they have to follow at school and other places they regularly attend and it is asking for trouble. Consider creating a single set of rules followed at both parent’s home.
  4. Don’t Give Children Twice The Stuff - So many parents overcompensate in a divorce by giving their children twice as much as they used to. There is no reason to do this. Some items, such as furniture and some clothes are good to have at both. But with electronics becoming all the more portable and so much homework done online, try pulling together to buy big ticket items they can take from place to place.
  5. Never Talk Bad About The Other Parent, Period - This is a no-brainer. Kids don’t just pick up on words, they pick up on actions. If your ex is bad mouthing you but you don’t do the same it is going to send a clear message, while teaching your child a valuable lesson about respect and dignity.

Find out more at Liahona Academy.

5 Activities Which Encourage Personal Growth

This is not going to be an astonishing list. When I started writing it I wanted to be totally honest and provide the five activities that I really, truly believed would spark personal growth. Those five activities turned out to be so cliche and standard that I wondered if I should even bother to write them down.

But then I thought, “Are they really cliche, though? Or are they just universally true?” Thinking to each item on this list I will admit that I sometimes need a reminder to take part in them myself. Which leads me to believe that at the very least there are others like me that need a kick in the pants.

With that said, these are five honest (if obvious) activities that will really help you to grow as a person. No self-help gimmicks, no tricks, not even therapy, just simple tasks anyone can do.

  1. Open a Book - Our world can be a cold and unfeeling one. We are so busy thinking of ourselves that others, especially those who are behind a screen, don’t factor into our day to day. But a study back in 2013 found that reading literary fiction can actually increase empathy. In other words, cracking open a book on a regular basis - already an enjoyable activity - can make you a better person.
  2. Get Out Into Nature - You don’t have to go on a two month trek across the Appalachian Trail, don’t worry. But getting out into the fresh air and connecting to the world around you is a fantastic way to gain a bit of perspective. A nice walk out somewhere isolated will leave you alone with your thoughts, without constant distractions. You may find yourself much more relaxed and at ease with your life.
  3. Spend Time With The “Other Guy” - A recent initiative was sparked by some local imams around the country. They started opening up their mosques to non-Muslims for community nights where they provided dinner and a chance to meet others from nearby neighborhoods. Many people attended and learned more about a culture that they didn’t know about before, allowing them to grow past the fear and hatred that has been building for the past decade and a half.
  4. Learn Something Practical - You should never stop learning. But if what you are learning has no real application in your life you may be robbing yourself of an opportunity to grow with a new skill. Have you wanted to take up sewing? Cooking? DIY furniture building? Gardening? Learning something practical is amazing for giving a boost to your life.
  5. Do Something New - We all have a tendency to settle into our comfort zones and not want to get out of them. But stretching and challenging ourselves is how we improve and it is important to do so regularly. Try something new, even if it is scary. You will be glad you did.

Find out more at Liahona Academy.

How to Help Your Son Become a Leader

Every parent wants to see their child become a leader. Leaders are confident, self-assured, helpful, ambitious, and determined, which are all qualities that a parent wants their son to possess. Here are four ways that you can help your son become a leader.

Be a Leader Yourself

One of the best teaching methods is to lead by example. Your son will be much more likely to take on leadership responsibilities when he sees that his parents do as well. This means getting involved in your neighborhood, children's schools, church, etc. When he notices that you are involved with various organizations or activities, he will learn from your example and have more confidence taking on leadership roles of his own.

Instill Leadership Values

From a young age, work on instilling leadership values in your son. These opportunities will come often but may be hard to recognize. While there are many different leadership values, here are some of the most important and scenarios where you can instill teachable moments.

  • Compassion- Your son sees a friend or sibling fall and get hurt, encourage them to offer comfort and ask if they need help.
  • Integrity- Your son gets an answer right on a test, even though he knows it is wrong, urge him to tell his teacher of the mistake.
  • Cooperation- No child wants to share, from a young age teach your son the importance of sharing, and cooperating well with others.
  • Focus- Help him accomplish something difficult, such as studying for and taking a big test.
  • Courage- Encourage him to try new things, like trying out for a team, auditioning for the school play, or asking a girl on a date.

Teamwork

You can't be a good leader without appreciating the importance of teamwork. From a young age have your child try different sports until he finds something that he really loves. As he tries various sports he will come to appreciate the value of teamwork and then be able to apply that principle of camaraderie into every aspect of his life.

The Importance of Humility

Possessing humility is a definite mark of a great leader. This is not simply admitting when you're wrong, though this is an important quality. A humble leader's overall goal is for his team to succeed. Often this means forgetting himself and listening to the suggestions and ideas of others until together they are able to come up with a worthwhile solution. Humility isn't the easiest of attributes for teenage boys to come by, but you can help teach him within your own home. As the leader of your household, organize a trip or activity and then have your son help you plan it. He may plan things you never would have yourself, but he will always remember the feeling of accomplishment and pride from seeing his plans set into action. When he is in a leadership role himself, he will be more likely to replicate your humble example.

By practicing these four tips throughout your son's life, he will undoubtedly learn from your direction and grow to be the leader you always knew he was capable of becoming.

Creating Teachable Moments

Every parent wants their child to be smarter, happier, stronger, and more successful than themselves. Raising this amazing human being can be hard, and finding opportunities to teach them all that you want them to know can also be difficult. Here are four authentic ways that you can incorporate teachable moments into your household.

Ask the Right Questions

As with any relationship, the best way to get closer to your child is through communication. When they come home from school instead of asking the mundane question, "how was your day?" instead ask thought provoking questions like, "who did you help today?", or "when were you happiest today?" When you ask the right questions, you will get worthwhile answers back. Your child's responses can lead to open discussions where you'll be able to learn more about each other. These dialogues are a perfect opportunity for you to teach your child because they won't feel forced which means they will be more likely to listen to your counsel.

Learn From Your Mistakes

A lot of times parents are hesitant to share their past with their children. They don't want to "give them any ideas" or think less of them for their past mistakes. Know that whatever crazy thing you did in your youth, it's been done a million times over and won't be news to your kid. Open up to your teen and tell them about your past mistakes, let them know why you regret what you did, how difficult it was for you to overcome, and how you want better for them. Your teenager will appreciate your honesty and most likely strive to learn from your mistakes.

Encourage Opportunities

Some of the best teachable moments come through experiences. For example, only by playing on a team can you fully appreciate the value of teamwork. Sometimes the only way you can discover that you're truly great at something is by stepping out of your comfort zone and auditioning. These opportunities will surround your child throughout their life. From a young age, encourage them to take part in different activities and then watch as each experience shapes them into someone better.

Be Understanding

Sometimes your child isn't going to make the team, or get the part that they auditioned for. Sometimes they are going to come home with a bad grade, or a detention slip. In these moments be patient and understanding. Your child has a right to make some mistakes of their own, it is your job as their parent to guide them back to the person you know they're capable of becoming.

Creating teachable moments in your household doesn't need to be some grand pre-orchestrated event. Utilize these four tips for creating authentic teaching opportunities in your home and you'll find yourself closer to your child and notice them learning from your advice.