Momster

How to Avoid Your Kid’s Video Game Meltdowns

Written on January 22, 2015 at 10:15 am , by

Video games have come a long way since the days when we were just trying to gobble up dots and steer clear of four pesky ghosts. Now they’re 10 times as complex—just look at all the buttons on the joystick, ahem, controller. Story lines are far more elaborate. And a kid’s desire to play just a little bit longer? Infinite. So how do you get your child to put the controller down? Our parenting expert Rosalind Wiseman received an email from a concerned school official dealing with just such a dilemma. Here’s Rosalind’s advice for putting playtime in its place.

Dear Rosalind:

I am an elementary school counselor, and so many parents have asked me for guidance on enforcing rules about video games. They don’t have problems setting the rules, but with enforcing them without meltdowns. What’s your advice?

Maybe some of you reading this have kids who follow your rules about games. Maybe some of you have kids who never argue or, worse, pretend not to hear you, when you say, “Your game time is up.” But for those of you who don’t, this is what I try to keep in mind.

Meltdowns are going to happen when your child stops playing a video game. As a parent, expect it and don’t take it personally. Don’t get annoyed. Don’t think your child is insane. He’s going from fighting monsters or competing in a world championship sports event to… sitting on the couch listening to his parent nag him about going over his screen time limits. Come to think of it, maybe our kids get into fights with us in these moments to continue the adrenaline rush.

When my boys disconnect, I give them about 10 minutes to be grumpy, rude, butt heads. They don’t get a free pass to be brats or say something personally horrible to me or about me. (“I hate you” doesn’t count as horrible. That’s a standard thing for your children to say and also should not be taken personally.) You should expect that they will lie (or be in denial) about how long they’ve played or argue with you about how much longer their sibling has been playing and how unfair the whole thing is. This is because they truly feel that they have been playing for only a few minutes and that their sibling(s) has hogged the controllers. Their passion fuels their justification about how unfair the situation is, which in turn fuels their belief that they are justified in being obnoxious brats.

Here’s how I try to manage myself so they don’t drag me into their tantrums: When I come into the house and they’re gaming, I try not to greet them with, “How long have you been playing?” (which, to be honest, is not a question—it’s an accusation) or “You better get off in 10 minutes” or “Have you walked the dog yet?” (again, an accusation). Instead—and this is very hard—I go in, say hi and let them play for 10 more minutes. Then I come back, tell them to pause the game and ask them about homework, the dog, cleaning the kitchen, etc. If they don’t pause the game after one warning, I do turn it off because that’s in our rules. (Rule #7: “I’ll pause the game within one minute after being told my time is up. If I don’t comply, I understand that my parent will turn off the screen so that any unsaved progress I lose will be because of my actions, not because my mom turned off the screen.”)

I have found that no matter what rules I have about food, leaving dirty socks on the floor or placing the cushions back on the couch, my kids still violate all of them. I don’t think I have ever come into the room where they play games and not found several dirty socks lying around. But when they stop playing, they have to clean up the space. Nothing happens until they clean up that room.

Bottom line: Don’t take their behavior personally. Don’t think they’re insane or game addicts. And don’t let them get you into a bad mood, stomping around the house resenting them. Stay strong, keep calm, and when in doubt you can always hide the controllers in the laundry room.


What rules do you place on video games in your house? Post a comment and tell me. 

Rosalind Wiseman is the author of the new best seller Masterminds and Wingmen as well as Queen Bee Moms & Kingpin Dads. For more info, go to rosalindwiseman.com. Read more of Rosalind’s parenting advice here

Do you have a parenting question? Email askrosalind@familycircle.com.

Flu Fighters: Six Easy Ways to Avoid Getting Sick This Season

Written on January 21, 2015 at 11:00 am , by

Runny nose

Don’t let fevers, body aches, congestion and coughs creep through your front door! While flu activity is especially high this season—nearly 5,500 people have been hospitalized since October—and the CDC predicts it will remain elevated for the next few months, there are simple ways to stay protected. The vaccine offers your best defense, even if it doesn’t cover all strains. “A shot will still decrease your chances of getting sick, and it’s never too late in the season to get it,” says Keri Peterson, MD, an internal medicine doctor in NYC. In addition to getting vaccinated, shield yourself and your family with these strategies from Peterson.

1. Make Your Face Off-Limits.
“A big thing people forget is that they shouldn’t touch their eyes, nose or mouth, because that’s a direct entry point for germs,” says Peterson. Pretend there’s a glass table around your neck, meaning your hands cannot go above it.

2. Lather Up Often.
Scrub your hands with soap and water several times a day, especially if you’ve touched a potentially contaminated area like a subway pole, doorknobs, faucet handles, kitchen sponges or that pen on a chain at the bank. When you’re on the go, use hand sanitizer or antibacterial hand wipes (try Wet Ones, from $2), which kill germs as well as remove them.

3. Stop the Spread of Bacteria.
A few easy tricks will help minimize the germs you disperse and pick up. Cough into your elbow instead of your hand, and fist-bump instead of shaking hands. At home, regularly clean surfaces—like counters, handles, faucets, your phone, laptop and mouse and the toilet—with a disinfectant product or a bleach-and-water solution. Finally, skip the office when necessary. According to a Vicks survey, 48% of us still head to work outside the home with cold and flu symptoms, which just ups the risk of infecting others.

4. Boost Your Immune System.
Help your body fight off ailments by getting enough sleep and reducing stress, whether by practicing yoga or reading a good book. Exercise will also help you stay healthy, so break a sweat when you can—just remember to wipe down equipment if you head to the gym. Also, munch on more immunity-boosting foods like green leafy vegetables, antioxidant-packed berries and vitamin C−filled oranges.

5. Bundle Up.
The old wives’ tale turns out to be true: You’re more susceptible to contracting an illness if you’re exposed to the pathogen outside in the cold. Chilly temperatures cause blood vessels to constrict, and without sufficient blood flow to the back of the throat or the nose (where cold viruses live), your body can’t readily deliver immune system cells to those areas. This makes battling germs much more difficult.

6. Stay Away from the Sick.
If someone in your family does end up with influenza, get her to a doc. Antiviral meds should be taken within the first 48 hours to reduce the severity and duration of the condition. Then quarantine that individual to her room with instructions to cough and sneeze into tissues, drink lots of fluids, sip chicken soup (it has anti-inflammatory effects and loosens up mucus) and get lots of rest.

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Learning from Loss: Why We Need to Embrace Goodness

Written on January 16, 2015 at 5:41 pm , by

 

Being blessed with four daughters means that I never had to have the “driving while black” talk. (For those who don’t know, that’s the conversation parents with black sons must have about the extra precautions you need to take should you be pulled over by a police officer.) Now, let me say up front, I respect, defer to and have admiration for the men and women who put their lives on the line every day to keep our citizens and communities safe. However, as a mother my heart has been broken over the recent events involving innocent black youngsters and black men who have died in police encounters in Missouri, New York and Ohio, to name a few.

Just because these events happened in 2014 doesn’t make them any easier to manage emotionally in 2015. Last month, on the second anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting, my heart was broken again as I saw images of the sweet, innocent smiles of victims contrasted with video of the ongoing pain of their surviving family members. A brave mother who lost her outgoing, curious and beautiful daughter stated: “You have bad days and even worse days…but you go on step by step.”

Yes, you go on, but how? Maybe the answer is closer than we imagine. The same ability that allows us to feel our own and others’ pain gives us the power to recognize that hope is all around us. We just have to make a conscious decision to see it, believe it and state it out loud. Our children need to hear us talk about the good in our lives—good people, good actions, good hearts and good words. That goodness connects us. It connects the people of Sandy Hook and the diverse group of people who are marching together for justice.

The new year provides a prime opportunity to teach our children with renewed spirit about giving, loving and being kind…just because. We can teach our children that the most important aspect of the recent holidays were not presents but presence. Interact in a gentle caring way, share history, swap stories and dole out tight hugs. Grief and heartbreak are part of life, but so are hope, goodness, love. And love heals.

How do you move forward from losses you’ve experienced or watched others experience? Post a comment below and let us know.

Janet Taylor, MD, MPH, a mother of four, is a psychiatrist in New York City. Follow her on Twitter @drjanet. Read more of her posts here.

 

Got a question for Dr. Janet? Email her at askdrjanet@familycircle.com.

 

A Wheel Good Time: How to Pick the Perfect Bike and Helmet for Your Kid

Written on December 18, 2014 at 11:21 am , by

Girl on bikeAt some point in time, almost every kid gets a two-wheeler for the holidays. It’s a gift that can keep on giving through spring, summer, fall and beyond, as long as you pay attention to a few key details that allow for an enjoyable ride. That’s where the experts—Pacific Cycle‘s Terry Collins, vice president of sales, and Joe Werwie, global director of product development—chime in. Follow their advice for finding the best bike and helmet for your teen or tween to pedal with pride.

For the bicycle…

Size It Right
Many parents opt for a larger ride, thinking their son or daughter will grow into it. The problem with that approach: Bikes become much more difficult to handle when they’re a size too big, and that can diminish a kid’s confidence on two wheels. Avoid this by heading to the bike shop knowing your child’s exact height. That way a pro can help you pick the ideal frame or you can base it on the retailer’s sizing chart.

Determine the Terrain
The second most important info you need before purchasing is where your child will ride. If he or she plans to pedal mostly on paved roads, a thinner tire is ideal, whereas a wider one works best on gravel or trails, since it’ll have a better grip on rough surfaces. Also consider whether your kid will have to carry the bike up and down steps—a lighter model makes that much easier.

Get Set Up
Before your child starts spinning, hold the front of the bike steady and have him or her sit on it. Crank the right pedal to its lowest position and make sure your kid’s heel rests on it. If the knee is bent, raise the seat so that it’s straight. If the foot doesn’t touch the pedal, lower the saddle until the heel makes contact. The handlebars should be adjusted to a comfortable riding position that balances the pressure on your child’s upper body and lower half. The rider’s hands, arms, shoulders, back and neck should feel relaxed and natural.

For the helmet…

Find a good fit
Helmet size is usually listed by age, but if you want an exact fit, it’s best to bring your kid along to the store. (A helmet’s tightness is most important for safety.) Most options will have a dial in the back for adjustments, so use that to ensure security. Kids can test the snugness by rocking their heads forward and backward—doing so shouldn’t shake the helmet. Or put your hands on top and try to move it front to back and side to side, and modify accordingly if it budges.

Place properly
Many riders wear their helmets too far back on the head, with the front pointing upward, but it should really face straight forward. Aim for the front edge to be about one inch above the eyebrow. As for the straps, they should form a triangle around the ear, coming together below the earlobe. Tighten these so they’re directly under the chin and not swaying freely.

The Best Christmas Gift I Ever Got from My Child

Written on December 15, 2014 at 11:18 am , by

Attention moms: This is a post you’re going to want to share, forward, copy and paste.

You see, right about now, plenty of little kids are wondering: What’s in Mom’s letter to Santa? And, well, bigger ones are pondering which treasured item Mom secretly hopes to find wrapped under the tree, too.

Contrary to all the commercials on endless repeat for the rest of December, you told us it’s not really diamond earrings or a luxury car. (Although we must admit those would make pretty fabulous holiday gifts. And if anyone out there has already put in an order for the VERY BIG BOW, don’t cancel it on our account.)

So what does Mom really want? Hundreds of them wrote in to tell us about the best present they ever received from their kid. The overwhelming majority of these gifts didn’t come in a box. The presence of loved ones was especially treasured, as were things like having an argument-free day. There were also a few items created, coordinated or purchased by their kids that were big hits. So without further ado, here are the gifts that were a huge hit:

1. HANDCRAFTED MASTERPIECES

“My daughter made a heart on canvas with pictures of our family.” —Annette S.

“Twelve handmade coupons from my adult son promising one day/afternoon together each month, just the two of us.” —Linda S.

“A hand-painted Santa egg by my son who is 28 and has been creating one each year for 12 years. I treasure each one.” —Janice W.

“The rocking chair I rocked all my kids in—refurbished. Such a special gift!” —Millie U.

“Our son passed away in April 2008 at the age of 16, and my daughter had a memory book made for us by having different family members and friends email her a memory of him. Priceless!” —Michelle T.

2. A HELPING HAND

“They decorated my tree, put up my lights and cleaned my home for Christmas.” —Pearl M.

“An IOU for keeping his room clean for a year!” —Sharon K.

“I was sick for the week leading up to Christmas, and my two daughters planned and prepared the whole Christmas meal. My sons cleaned up afterward. All I had to do was come to the table and then go back to my room. I was never so grateful for their help. I didn’t even know they knew how to do it. They even baked the pies!” —Ginny S.

3. TREASURED ITEMS

“Nail polish in my favorite colors.” —Linda M.

“Some of my favorite perfume.” —Petra M.

“A really soft throw blanket with a tiger on it. Tigers are my favorite animal.” —Robin N.

4. A LATE START

“Waiting until 8:30 a.m. before coming out [of the bedroom]. Yay!” —Heidi C.

“She slept in. First time in 11 years I’ve gotten a shower in before opening gifts” —Leeann A.

“A sleep-in. Our five kids all decided to sleep in Christmas day and we had to wake them up.” —Kylie B.

5. A SHOW OF SUPPORT

“My eyesight. They paid for me to have cataracts removed.” —Donna C.

“I’m going through chemo for breast cancer, and when I walked into my daughter’s house for Christmas dinner, everyone had on pink kerchiefs!” —Anita K.

“I was crying because I couldn’t afford to get them a whole lot. My 10-year-old son was in the room and asked me why I was crying. I told him I was afraid he and his sister would be disappointed with their gifts. He said, ‘It’s okay, Mom. That’s not what Christmas is about! Anything you got we’ll be happy with!’ That made me so happy and relieved! It was the best gift I could have ever been given!” —Allison B.

 

 

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Six Ways to Fight Holiday Weight Gain

Written on December 12, 2014 at 11:51 am , by

Dessert trays, cocktail parties, big family meals—it’s the perfect combo for a happy holiday, but for a trim waistline? Not so much. Of course, occasional indulging is okay, but to stop you from overdoing it, we pinged Amanda Butler, a trainer at NYC’s BFX studio, a boutique gym that offers classes like barre, group cycling and circuit workouts. She gave her top exercising and eating tips for keeping the number on the scale steady throughout the season.

Amanda doing the squat for a burpee

1. Take Four for Fitness
Making time to break a sweat will torch some of those calories from pie and cake. To quickly maximize the burn, try a Tabata routine—a type of high-intensity interval training that requires you to push yourself as hard as you can for 20 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds and repeat for eight rounds. That’s just four minutes of work!

The move Amanda says works best to sculpt from head to toe: burpees. To tackle this exercise, stand with your feet hip-width apart. Squat down and place your hands on the floor, then jump your feet behind you so you’re in a push-up position. Perform one push-up. Next, jump your feet forward toward your arms, then stand and jump straight up, clapping your hands over your head. You’ll burn approximately 75 calories in just four minutes with this move—that’s about one chocolate chip cookie. For similar results without the full-on burpee, alternate jump squats and push-ups (you can put your knees on the floor to modify it) for your 20-second intervals.

2. Keep Moving
While you’re waiting to take the ham or casserole out of the oven, do a few quick moves, such as triceps dips or step-ups with the kitchen chair. It always helps to take the stairs and walk more too, so park farther from the mall entrance or grocery store to get more steps.

3. Grab and Go
At the dessert table, put the two treats you love the most on your plate and walk away. Enjoy each bite and then start a conversation with someone at a spot located away from the sweets so you’re not tempted to snag more.

4. Graze at a Slow Pace
When you’re having a group dinner, eat slowly and put your utensils down every now and then to help you do so. Savor the flavors and pay attention to how you feel. If you let out a big sigh from being so full, it’s definitely time to stop nibbling.

5. Plan for Celebrations
Don’t show up to your company’s or friend’s bash on an empty stomach. Have a snack, like an apple, before you go so you’re not feeling ravenous and ready to scarf down whatever you see first. Also, sip water between cocktails and swap the sugar- and fat-filled choices, such as eggnog or a flavored martini, for lighter beverages, like a vodka soda with lime or red wine.

6. Mentally (and Socially) Prepare
Give yourself a little pep talk before a full day of dining so you’re ready to turn down the second (or third) helping. And let others know you’re trying to watch your weight so they don’t peer pressure you into having more food and drinks.

 

When Friends Turn to Foes

Written on December 3, 2014 at 10:00 am , by

Two’s company and three can be a crowd when it comes to tween girls and friendships. So how can a mom help her daughter smooth things over when an expanding circle of friendship starts to wreak havoc? Our parenting expert Rosalind Wiseman received an email from a worried mother dealing with just such a dilemma. Here’s Rosalind’s advice for keeping the peace.

Dear Rosalind,
My 8-year-old daughter (I’ll call her Alexa) has known another 8-year-old girl (let’s call her Becky) since they were 4 and they’ve gone to the same school. Last year a new girl (let’s call her Jamie) came in halfway through the year and my daughter befriended her. Jamie has a difficult home situation and lives with her great-grandmother. Sadly, Becky is one of several people—including Becky’s overprotective mom—who don’t like Jamie and are giving my daughter a very hard time over the friendship. They’ve begun excluding Alexa. Becky used to cling to Alexa like glue and Alexa never pushed her away. I can’t understand why this girl has become so unkind to my daughter.

As hard as this is to believe, I’d bet any amount of money that the overprotective mom thinks she’s in the right—that in her mind she has a perfectively justified reason for supporting her daughter (Becky) in excluding your daughter’s (Alexa’s) new friend. So let go of “understanding” this woman’s perspective or why her daughter can’t accept the new friendship and focus on supporting your daughter and her new friend.

The only time I would talk to the nasty mom is if she confronts you or something happens between the girls that necessitates you speak with her. If that does happen, I’d say to her, “My daughter likes this new girl and we support the friendship. Our daughters don’t have to be friends, but I would like your support in allowing the girls to go their separate ways without being hurtful to each other.” Then get ready for this woman to be defensive or tell you the reasons why the new girl is a bad influence. Don’t get sucked in. The most you should say in response is, “That’s not been my or my daughter’s experience with this girl and I hope you would respect that.”

You also need to talk to your daughter. Tell her that you’re disappointed that her old friend isn’t being nice to her or the new girl. Maybe she’ll turn around one day but for right now, ask your daughter to give her some space until she can be a good friend.

If the old friend continues to be mean to her or the new girl, she needs to tell you and/or the person she thinks is the smartest adult at school what’s happening. But at base, this is an opportunity for your daughter to learn an important lesson from you: Sometimes good friends do things that make it impossible to continue the friendship for right now. Maybe later things will change. But in the present, it’s important to have friendships with people you actually like who allow you to be friends with others as well.

How would you handle a girl (and her mom) putting friendship pressure on your child? Post a comment and tell me. 

Rosalind Wiseman is the author of the new best seller Masterminds and Wingmen as well as Queen Bee Moms & Kingpin Dads. For more info, go to rosalindwiseman.com. Read more of Rosalind’s parenting advice here

Do you have a parenting question? Email askrosalind@familycircle.com.

 

Happy #GivingTuesday

Written on December 2, 2014 at 2:19 pm , by

You’ve made it through Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But have you heard of #GivingTuesday, the global day dedicated to giving back? In December 2012, #GivingTuesday was founded by New York’s 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation to bring families, businesses, community centers and students around the world together in celebrating generosity and giving. Today, December 2, 2014, marks its third annual observance, and it’s not too late to get involved. Helping those less fortunate is a great idea to focus on at the start of a month full of gift giving, family celebrations and winter fun. So today, find a way to do something small for someone else—as a family, with friends or with others in your community. For a list of #GivingTuesday movements in your neighborhood, click here.

And if you want to add a little do-gooding to your holiday shopping and donating this season, check out our tech-savvy friends getting into the giving spirit today. Microsoft is offering store customers a free $10 donation card to #YouthSpark on GlobalGiving with any purchase (while supplies last). They’ll also match today’s contributions (up to $350,000) to #YouthSpark on GlobalGiving, which supports organizations providing critical technology skills and resources to youth around the world.

Also, starting today and running through December 31, PayPal’s launching a holiday giving campaign to match 1% of each donation made at www.paypal-donations.com. Consumers can choose one of thousands of U.S. 501(c)(3) charities, with 100% of every donation reaching each cause.

How will you give back today? Remember to hashtag all photos and posts with #GivingTuesday.

Blades of Glory: The Only Ice-Skating Tips You’ll Need This Winter

Written on December 1, 2014 at 10:03 am , by

Minnesota Ice Skating

Looking for a fun, active family outing this holiday season? Head to the rink! After a morning on the ice with our friends at Fruit of the Loom, we gathered tips from Wicksie Tu, an instructor at Winter Village in NYC’s Bryant Park, to make it entertaining for everyone, even ice-skating newbies.

Before you get out on the ice, layer up in tight clothes—baggy garments will catch wind and drag you down. Also, tie skates tight enough so the ankle stays steady and can’t sway from side to side as you move.

Once you’re ready to hit the rink, Tu has a few drills for beginners: First, march in place to get comfortable on blades, then begin to move forward while you march. When you feel confident, push off the ground like you would on a scooter. For those more at ease on the ice, move your feet in a diamond shape to go forward a few times, then backward. Next, try driving off your forefoot to glide on both skates for a few seconds. Or if you’re feeling daring, lift a leg and slide on one foot.

Ready to increase your speed? Do as the pros do and cross one foot in front of the other as you continue to push off the ice. To come to a halt, do the snowplow stop (which is best for beginners and similar to the pizza-wedge stop used in skiing): Bend your knees and move your toes toward each other while pushing your feet outward. You’ll form a V or pigeon-toed shape and shave some ice.

Ice Skating

Now that you’re a pro when it comes to technique, follow these dos and don’ts when it comes to form and you’ll stay upright with ease.

DON’T look down. When you gaze down at the ice, your body tends to lean forward, which throws you off balance. Keep your eyes focused in front of you and your hips centered.

DO bend your knees. If you feel yourself tipping, bend your knees a few degrees (they should always be slightly bent, but emphasize it more) and place your hands on them. This will help stabilize you.

DON’T lean back. Tumbling backward can be dangerous, because you risk hitting your head. Counteract that tilt by bending your knees, putting your arms out to the side and keeping your shoulders and hips aligned. 

DO get loose. People tend to think stiffness will make them steady in the rink, but it actually ups your chances of wiping out. Roll your shoulders down and back and just relax.

DON’T use the toe picks. Those little spikes on the front of your skates work well for performing jumps and tricks, but they can get in a newcomer’s way. Avoid dragging your feet and your skates won’t get stuck, causing you to trip.

Is It Okay for a Mom to #BreakTheInternet?

Written on November 25, 2014 at 10:00 am , by

Celebrity provocateur Kim Kardashian hoped to create an earth-shattering event when she posed for naked pictures in an attempt to #BreakTheInternet. (Warning: That hot link goes to her Paper Magazine spread, which includes nude photographs.) Her ample derriere was widely posted throughout cyberspace. Reactions seemed to range from disinterest to disbelief and astonishment.

Many people voiced concern about her seeming lack of seriousness related to her role as a mom and the potential long-lasting effects of images like this on her daughter. “Why would a mother want to pose like that?” some asked.

Yes, she is a mother. She is also being mothered by a woman who is her manager and obviously supportive of her recent photo spread.

For me, the underlying issue is not about her being open to displaying herself as a sexual being. She has the right to pose in any way that she chooses. There has not been any suggestion that she is abusive or negligent to her adorable daughter. The exhaustion of motherhood, with its additional responsibilities and time demands, can impact intimacy and sexual desire. Those are two situations that require process and communication—not a photo shoot.

The real issue is the way the media drives our consumption of knowledge around individuals who seemingly do not inject any sense of purpose or additional meaning into our lives. Enough. How great would it be if we could #BreakTheInternet with examples of kindness, generosity and overall goodness?

The positive news: According to the Wall Street Journal, the Rosetta spacecraft’s landing on a comet had more tweets then a champagne glass landing on Kim Kardashian’s rear. Score one for the comet and zero for Kim Kardashian. And that is really big, big, big news.

What do you think about Kim Kardashian’s attempt to break the Internet? Post a comment below and let us know.
 Janet Taylor, MD, MPH, a mother of four, is a psychiatrist in New York City. Follow her on Twitter @drjanet. Read more of her posts here.

Got a question for Dr. Janet? Email her at askdrjanet@familycircle.com.

 

The Most Important Thing You Can Teach Your Daughter

Written on November 21, 2014 at 12:02 pm , by

Being the parent of a teen girl has never been easy. But being a parent of a teen girl in this gadget-driven, video-vixen, text-versus-talk culture can be monumentally difficult. In this guest post, Sophia A. Nelson, author of The Woman Code: Powerful Keys to Unlock Your Life, explains how to rise above pop culture, catty friends and blaring headphones to give your daughter the tools she needs to succeed.

As an aunt of one tween (age 12) and a bona fide teen (age 16), I take some pride in being very in touch with this new generation (Generation Text, Generation Connection or, more fondly, Gen Y) of young ladies. As a speaker, the author of two successful books about women, and a coach for women in corporate America, faith-based communities and universities, I cannot stress enough how important it is for us as moms, aunts, mentors and role models to boldly and honestly take back our girls by teaching them to know their value.

Of all the modern things we struggle with as women of our time, variations on one age-old question still determine how far we will go in life: “Am I good enough?” or “Can I be enough?” or “Am I worth enough?” Our girls struggle with this even more. They are constantly bombarded with images of beauty, overt sensuality and celebrities who make it to the top by way of YouTube—or worse. They experience the world far differently from us. And it’s up to us to be the bridge over turbulent waters to help keep them centered and focused on what matters most: their value.

How? you ask. It’s really simple.

We have got to reengage in old-fashioned conversation (that means speaking and eye-to-eye connecting) with our daughters. Make them put the gadgets down. We have to talk, not text. We have to stop trying to be a friend and start being what our moms and grandmoms were to us: teachers, advisors, protectors and disciplinarians without apology.

Here are five keys I use with my own nieces, and that I write about in The Woman Code. When put into practice, they shift the energy in our relationships as older women connecting with the next generation of young women.

1. Value yourself. Yes, we can tell our girls, daughters and nieces that their value is not defined on a TV set, a YouTube video or social media. We can drill home that it is defined from within. But know that they are also watching how YOU value yourself. So make sure you are teaching and leading by example.

2. Dare to engage in courageous conversations. Don’t duck the hard issues young girls face today. Be open and be willing to listen. You are the adult. Make sure they know you are there to protect and love them, and that you actually were their age once. It’s all about connection and conversation.

3. Teach your daughters to be authentic. Let them know who proper role models are: women like first lady Michelle Obama or singer Carrie Underwood. Teach them to live from their gifts from the inside out, not to be part of a crowd or a follower.

4. Share with your daughters the power of choosing the right friends early in life. I call it “know your front row.” If you see your daughters with the wrong crowd, intervene. Explain why these friends are not going to help them to win in life. Stress the importance of not engaging in gossip, bullying other girls or allowing themselves to be bullied. This is a favorite pastime of girls—tearing down other girls. And it causes great damage for years to come.

5. Prepare them to guard their hearts—not gate them, but protect them so that they will love the right men, surround themselves with the right friends and honor their deepest desires for marriage and family later in life.

 

Sophia A. Nelson is an award-winning author and journalist. She is a noted TV personality and thought leader on all things women. Her new book, The Woman Code: 20 Powerful Keys to Unlock Your Life, is now in stores everywhere. You can tweet her @iamsophianelson.

Clean Your Home for the Holidays in Four Steps

Written on November 20, 2014 at 4:02 pm , by

With November upon us, we’re about to enter prime party season—you know, that time of year when guests are coming over and your home needs to look its holiday finest. No worries! Study up on these quick-clean tips, and your space will be on its way to sparkling in no time.

De-clutter, de-clutter, de-clutter. Before you even pick up a mop or vacuum, best to clear off any surfaces that look messy. Grab a basket or bin and go through the rooms where you’ll be entertaining, collect out-of-place items and stash them in a closet for the time being. Target the coffee table in the family room, and get rid of catalogs and old magazines. Wipe down your downstairs bathroom vanity. Clear countertops are a must in the kitchen, and never leave pots or pans in the sink for company to see. Load and run the dishwasher before the party, even if you don’t have the chance to put everything away. The latest machines, including Samsung’s new Chef Collection model, are whisper-quiet and could even be run during the festivities if need be.

Shine surfaces in high-traffic areas. Guests tend to congregate in a few key places during get-togethers: the kitchen, the family room, the dining area. Whatever your cleaning weapon of choice—microfiber cloth and hot soapy water, disposable wipes or all-purpose cleaner and a rag—the process is the same. You want to focus on any visible surface where dust and grime build up. In the kitchen, run a disinfectant over the counters, stove, sink and island. Do the same in the powder room, wiping the sink, faucet and toilet handle. Spend a little time on the toilet, swishing the bowl with a long-handled brush and disinfecting the seat. Dust off the coffee and side tables in the family room, and make sure you wipe down the dinner table before you set it or lay out a spread of food. Be sure to use clean cloths each time you attack a new surface to avoid cross-contamination. Some pro cleaners even designate particular rags or cloths for certain rooms or jobs—a few for the bathroom, a few for the kitchen and so on.

Fake it till you make it. If you have enough time to mop the floors and dust off all your downstairs light fixtures, ceiling fans and baseboards/moldings, by all means do it. But if you can’t, your best recourse is to vacuum area rugs and give the kitchen floor a quick once-over with a wet mop or steamer. Fluff pillows and cushions on the sofa, and buff away fingerprints on stainless-steel appliances and streaky mirrors. Put out fresh hand towels and a candle in the powder room. Empty the trashcans. It’s all about the illusion of tidiness—that is, until you can actually take the time to do a deep clean, post-party.

Make it fun. Cleaning is a chore, yes, but that doesn’t mean it has to be complete drudgery. Bust out that wireless speaker before the party starts, and check out one of the many cleaning playlists on Spotify. Or crank your own. Make it a point to get through all the songs before you stop.

This post was sponsored by Samsung.  Opinions/content are Family Circle editorial.