Eye Exams for School-Age Children

Eye Chart
source: firemind

The American Optometric Association (AOA) recommends that children receive an eye exam at age 6 and then every two years during the school-age years. Parents can look for signs of child’s vision becoming impaired. Contact an optometrist if your child experiences the following signs of having vision problems:

  • Frequent eye rubbing or repeated blinking
  • Short attention span
  • Avoiding reading
  • Recurrent headaches
  • Covering one eye
  • Tilting head to one side
  • Holding books close to face
  • An eye turning in or out
  • Seeing double
  • Losing place when reading
  • Difficulty remembering what is read

 If your child has vision problems, when did they start?

Real Life Solutions: My Child Is Being Bullied

We are proud to have Dr. Linda Mintle in ParentLife each month answering questions submitted from readers. To submit a question for Dr. Mintle, e-mail it to parentlife@lifeway.com and include “? for Dr. Mintle” on the subject line. This month we have an extra Q&A from Dr. Mintle we wanted to share.

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source: lucylawrence

Q: My son has been the victim of bullying at his school, and we are trying to understand why and how to help. Our family is going through some difficult changes and there has been a lot of yelling and tension in our home. We are trying to work on that by seeing a counselor. Do you have other suggestions for us?

A: In 2010, the APA published a study where researchers reviewed 153 studies on bullying over the past 30 years. What they found was that bullies and victims share similar traits. Both lack social problem-solving skills and feel awkward and uncomfortable among their peers. When you add poor academic skills to the mix, a bully, rather than a victim, is likely to emerge. The study additionally profiled bullies with these traits:

  1. Negative attitudes and beliefs about others
  2. Negative self-image
  3. From families with conflict and poor parenting
  4. Negative school perceptions
  5. Negatively influenced by peers

The study also noted that victims are usually aggressive, lack social skills, think negative thoughts, are problematic in social skills and solving problems, isolate, are rejected by peers and come from negative family, school, and community environments. So continue to work on solving the family tension, work with the school and teach your son a technique called The Swarm. Basically, a group of bystanders swarm the bully and tell him or her to back off. There is power in numbers and bullies will often back down when confronted with a group that pushes back on them. Work with your son to identify who he can get on his team and stand up to the bully.

Also work with the teacher. She may be able to coach the class on the technique as well. Practice social skills and help him problem-solve when he encounters problems at school. Building his confidence to handle peers will go a long way.

Do you have any advice for parents of bullied kids?

Captain Underpants Speaks to Parents! An Interview with Dav Pilkey {Trends and Truth Online with Mike Nappa}

 

Dav Pilkey is the creator of the New York Times bestselling kids’ series, Captain Underpants. Recently, he took a little time away from his Captainly duties to answer a few questions for ParentLife readers:

T&TO: What should every parent know about Captain Underpants?

Pilkey: I purposely designed each [Captain Underpants] book so they would not only be fun to read, they’d be easy to read. Each story has short chapters and pictures on every page, but the humor is aimed squarely at third and fourth graders (and above). My goal was to present kids with a series that would give even the most reluctant readers a feeling of success.

T&TO: What makes writing Captain Underpants worthwhile for you?

Pilkey: I feel very motivated by all of the positive feedback I get from parents and teachers and librarians. They tell similar stories, always about a kid who refused to read until they were introduced to Captain Underpants—then everything changed…I just heard from a grandmother the other day who had to yell at her granddaughter to STOP reading (apparently it was way past her bedtime, and she was under the covers with a flashlight).

T&TO: According to ALA, Captain Underpants books are among the “most-challenged” books by parents and librarians. Why?

Pilkey: The reason the Captain Underpants books have been challenged by a small handful of “concerned grown-ups” is usually because of the humor. These books do tend to involve villainous toilets and booger monsters and things like that. Of course, that’s part of the appeal for most kids, but I understand that there are some grown-ups out there who are not amused by such things.

One angry lady in California complained to her local newspaper that certain characters in my books had engaged in name-calling and had “no moral value.” Oddly, she was referring to the villains. I remember thinking, “Aren’t bad guys supposed to behave badly?”

I actually think kids are smart enough to get the point of these silly books of mine. They realize that the bad guys are evil and the heroes are loyal, brave, and good-hearted. Kids totally get it, and fortunately most adults do too.

T&TO: Any last thoughts for our readers?

Pilkey: Every month I get hundreds of original hand-drawn comic book adventures written and illustrated by kids all over the world. Just last week I got two 16-page full color comics written and illustrated by a twelve-year-old from Australia. Earlier this year, I got some comics from a kid in Thailand. I couldn’t read them, but the illustrations were beautiful.

The amazing thing to me is that these comic books aren’t assignments. Nobody forced those kids to make an original comic book. These are things that kids have decided to do on their own—for fun!

It’s going to be exciting to see what happens when these kids grow up!

Mike Nappa is an author of more than 50 books. He is also the founder of Nappaland Literary Agency and a former book acquisitions editor. He is featured each month in ParentLife magazine and in Trends and Truth Online on the ParentLife blog.

Resources for Parents from Jennifer Holt

To go along with Jennifer Holt’s article on being a social butterfly in the January issue, here are some extra resources for parents.

 

 

Prescription for Preteen Worship by G.G. Mathis

Greenstone Church
source: reallyboring

It is possible, when a church has multiple hours of Sunday morning children’s programming, for a preteen to reach the end of sixth grade without attending a single corporate worship service. The result is a group of kids who, due to inexperience, approach church worship reluctantly instead of expectantly.

You can help preteens learn how to connect enthusiastically with God in your church’s worship service:

Encourage participation

  • If your church has a contemporary worship service, note the songs you sing most often. (Your worship leader can help compile a preteen-friendly playlist of tunes preteens may hear on contemporary Christian radio.) Play the songs before, during, or after class.
  • Make a date once a month for your preteens to sit and worship together.
  • As teaching opportunities arise, help preteens recognize and practice giving as an act of worship.
  • Acknowledge that God wires everyone to connect with Him in different ways. Encourage preteens to discover the worship styles and actions that best help them enjoy God’s presence.

Discourage distraction

  • Take a lighthearted approach to the subject of worship etiquette. Lead preteens to create a list of “worst worship behaviors” or take silly posed pictures of worship do’s and don’ts for sharing and posting.
  • Discuss appropriate/inappropriate worship behavior from a “you don’t want to miss a single minute of worship!” standpoint.

Encourage spiritual formation

  • Provide preteens with inexpensive spiral notebooks or composition books for worship use. Encourage preteens to take notes instead of passing them. Suggest that for each message, preteens record the title, the key Scripture, and at least three important ideas from the pastor’s message.
  • Begin, if you haven’t, taking notes yourself during the worship service. Whenever possible, mention ideas, anecdotes, videos, or worship experiences that relate in some way to the concepts you are teaching preteens.
  • Provide copies of Bible Express and encourage preteens to develop the habit of private Bible study and prayer. When preteens connect with God alone daily, it will be more natural for them to connect with Him with others weekly during public worship.

ggmathisG.G. Mathis loves watching the preteens at Forest Park Baptist Church in Joplin, Missouri, worship with others.

Should Smoking Be Rated R? Trends & Truth Online with Mike Nappa

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If James Sargent, M.D., of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire, had his way, cigarette smoking in any movie would automatically earn an “R” rating. Same for films with cigars, pipes, and the like. Here’s why:

When young kids see people smoking onscreen, that becomes something of a “product placement” advertisement that’s repeated and reinforced through frequent viewings—and which might influence kids’ attitudes toward the habit. Dr. Sargent and his colleagues conducted a study of 6522 preteens and early teens, trying to measure scientifically the impact smoking in movies may or may not have on children. According to Everydayhealth.com, Sargent’s research suggests that, “Kids 10 to 14 years old were 49 percent more likely to have tried a cigarette for every 500 they saw smoked on the screen in PG-13 movies.”

“It is the movie smoking that prompts adolescents to smoke,” Sargent’s team emphasized in their report, “not other characteristics of R-rated movies or adolescents drawn to them.”

In response to these findings, the study’s originators have a simple recommendation: Give all movie smoking an “R” rating.

The thinking is that an “R” rating would make it harder for preteens and young teens to see repeated product placement of cigarettes in movies. In the researchers’ opinion, that would reduce underage smoking by at least 18%—a significant number in today’s American society.

According to the Surgeon General’s office, the smoking habit almost always begins in adolescence. About 2400 youth and young adults become regular smokers each day, with about 90% trying their first cigarette before the age of 18. What’s more, cigarette-sized cigars are so popular in youth culture today that one in five high school males smoke cigars.

A strategy that would help postpone the onset of adolescent smoking would drastically reduce adult smoking (and smoking-related illnesses) in years to come. Why? Because, according to the Surgeon General, “Almost no one starts smoking after age 25.”

This is why Dr. Sargent calls for an “R” rating on movies that contain smoking. Refusing a PG-13 (or less) rating for tobacco-fueled films would, in theory at least, keep anyone under 17 from being exposed (without parental consent) to the negative influence of onscreen smoking. If Dr. Sargent is correct, that in turn would measurably reduce the prevalence of underage smoking in America.

And so now the question is out there:

Should smoking be rated “R” in movies?

Or does that take social censorship too far, paving the way for “R” ratings for films that feature other bad health habits, such as eating fatty foods or drinking coffee and soda?

And how does an “R” rating criteria in cinema impact smoking and other bad habits displayed on television?

What do you think, ParentLife families? Take time to talk about it in your home this week.

 

Have a pop culture question for Trends & Truths? Email it to parentlife@lifeway.com!

***

 

Mike Nappa is a bestselling author, a noted commentator on pop culture, and founder of the website for parents, FamilyFans.com.

Real Men Aren’t Afraid to Carry Bibles by G.G. Mathis

This post is part of our monthly series encouraging leaders and parents of preteens. You’ll find more information and a great curriculum at the FLYTE blog

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source: giratikanon

Kelton’s parents gave him a Bible for his eleventh birthday, four months ago. He’s never taken it out of the box.

Jaden brings his Bible to church, slams it on the table, and sits the rest of the hour with his arms crossed.

Barrett, certain he won’t need it at home, leaves his Bible at church on Sundays.

Hang around preteen boys at church, and you’ll discover that these behaviors, though undesirable, are not uncommon.  You have a unique opportunity to help boys (and girls) recognize the value of God’s Word. Here’s how:

Use navigational aids. Remember that some of your preteens are new to church, and a thick book arranged in neither alphabetical nor numerical order is hard to navigate. Assure boys, “It’s always OK to use the table of contents!” Frequently and briefly review the significance of chapter and verse numbers.

Use Bibles every session. Technology makes it possible for teachers to flash verses on a screen, use search engines to find them, or spit out a printout of a Bible passage. Don’t forget to encourage preteens to experience the Bible the traditional way—hands-on and minds on! (You can add technological techniques as kids improve in Bible-handling expertise.)

Use affirmation. Privately recognize boys who bring their own Bibles to church. Encourage them to show you what Bible translation they are using, as well as the maps, dictionaries, or other study helps it contains. As time and conversation permit, explain which study helps are your favorites and why.

Use natural preteen curiosity. How do you get boys to use their Bibles in between Sundays? Trick them, of course! Bait boys with bits and bites of Bible stories about heroes, battles, spies, and God’s supernatural power. Tell enough of the story to pique their interest, then tell boys where they can read the rest.

Use your Bible! Let boys see you carrying, reading, and respecting your Bible. Tell them about meaningful passages you read and how they helped you make it through a tough week. Keep up the habit of marking and memorizing Scriptures and sharing them with preteens when you teach.

What suggestions do you have for making preteens excited about the Bible?  

G.G. Mathis teaches preteens at Forest Park Baptist Church in Joplin, Missouri.

Halloween Safety

If you do participate in Halloween, here are some tips we originally published in 2009. Have a good night, whatever you’re doing!

Pumpkin Festival
source: nates_pics

Halloween is an exciting time of year for kids, and to help ensure they have a safe holiday, here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

All Dressed Up

  • Plan costumes that are bright and reflective. Make sure that shoes fit well and that costumes are short enough to prevent tripping, entanglement, or contact with flame.
  • Consider adding reflective tape or striping to costumes and Trick-or-Treat bags for greater visibility.
  • Because masks can limit or block eyesight, consider non-toxic makeup and decorative hats as safer alternatives. Hats should fit properly to prevent them from sliding over eyes.
  • When shopping for costumes, wigs, and accessories look for and purchase those with a label clearly indicating they are flame resistant.
  • If a sword, cane, or stick is a part of your child’s costume, make sure it is not sharp or too long. A child may be easily hurt by these accessories if he stumbles or trips.
  • Obtain flashlights with fresh batteries for all children and their escorts.
  • Teach children how to call 9-1-1 (or their local emergency number) if they have an emergency or become lost.

Carve a Niche

  • Small children should never carve pumpkins. Children can draw a face with markers.  Then parents can do the cutting.
  • Votive candles are safest for candle-lit pumpkins.
  • Candle-lit pumpkins should be placed on a sturdy table, away from curtains and other flammable objects, and should never be left unattended.

Home Safe Home

  • To keep homes safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, remove from the porch and front yard anything a child could trip over such as garden hoses, toys, bikes, and lawn decorations.
  • Parents should check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs.
  • Wet leaves should be swept from sidewalks and steps.
  • Restrain pets so they do not inadvertently jump on or bite a trick-or-treater.

On the Trick-or-Treat Trail

  • A parent or responsible adult should always accompany young children on their neighborhood rounds.
  • If your older children are going alone, plan and review the route that is acceptable to you. Agree on a specific time when they should return home.
  • Only go to homes with a porch light on and never enter a home or car for a treat.
  • Because pedestrian injuries are the most common injuries to children on Halloween, remind Trick-or Treaters:
    1. Stay in a group and communicate where they will be going.
    2. Carry a cell phone for quick communication.
    3. Remain on well-lit streets and always use the sidewalk.
    4. If no sidewalk is available, walk at the far edge of the roadway facing traffic.
    5. Never cut across yards or use alleys.
    6. Only cross the street as a group in established crosswalks (as recognized by local custom). Never cross between parked cars or out driveways.
    7. Don’t assume the right of way. Motorists may have trouble seeing Trick-or-Treaters. Just because one car stops, doesn’t mean others will!
  • Law enforcement authorities should be notified immediately of any suspicious or unlawful activity.

Healthy Halloween

  • A good meal prior to parties and trick-or-treating will discourage youngsters from filling up on Halloween treats.
  • Consider purchasing non-food treats for those who visit your home, such as coloring books or pens and pencils.
  • Wait until children are home to sort and check treats. Though tampering is rare, a responsible adult should closely examine all treats and throw away any spoiled, unwrapped, or suspicious items.
  • Try to ration treats for the days following Halloween.

© 10/09 American Academy of Pediatrics

For even more safety tips, to send these tips to a friend, or to download them in Spanish, visit http://www.aap.org/advocacy/releases/octhalloween.cfm.

Trends & Truth Online: What’s Too Scary for Kids? by Mike Nappa

ghost-pumpkin_mod
source: xerhino

It’s October! And during the Halloween season, everyone loves a good scare—especially children. But how can you tell what’s too scary for your kids? Clinical psychologist, Dr. Laurel Basbas, offers a little advice.

 

T&TO: What’s your perspective on “harmless fright entertainment” for kids 12 and under?

Basbas: In my view, there is no harmless horror. Horror, fright, scary movies; all depend on igniting the ANS (autonomic nervous system) so that the child (or person) reacts with an automatic adrenaline surge. Unfortunately the horror industry banks on the fact that terror is exciting (literally the ANS goes into an excited state). They bank on creating “adrenaline junkies” (people and children that love the high of the excited ANS). Allowing kids to think of the “fright response” as fun, without educating them as to its effects and the inherent dangers, can leave them vulnerable to pursuing the adrenaline rush through whatever means they can find.

Having said that, children will seek a scary story or experience to master anxiety. Facing fears in small manageable doses can be of benefit, allowing the child to learn that s/he can overcome anxieties. In small, short doses, a child faces fears and realizes he can survive the scary moment or experience.

 

T&TO: Why do kids crave fright entertainment?

Basbas: It is “cool” to like what their peers like. They [also] crave the adrenal rush.

Another reason kids crave fright is the need to master anxiety. As I mentioned earlier, facing fears in small, manageable doses, is helpful. To hear a scary story or see a scary show and survive does help the child. He feels, “I am OK, I can live through a fearful experience.”

 

T&TO: What’s too scary for kids?

Basbas: It takes a discerning parent to really read their child correctly. Kids usually do not have the discernment to know what scares them, and they may not want to admit they are afraid. No shows that scare either parent’s “inner child” can be a good gauge. Lots of adults don’t want to be scared.

For the kids that feel frightened by the [October] media deluge, teach the younger ones the difference between what is pretend and what is real. Reassure them that the witches, monsters, wolves, ghosts, etc. are pretend and will not become alive to harm them. Pray with them, reading scriptures that promise protection from evil. Psalm 91 is always encouraging, and can provide wonderful discussion about God’s care.

 

T&TO: What’s the best way for a Christian parent respond to kid-centric fright media during Halloween?

Basbas: Family activity where kids count on the stability and protection of parents helps with any activity. No scary movies without parents present, so there can be a healthy discussion with mom and dad later. Essentially if the entertainment has a redemptive purpose, like the Tolkien series, and the parents use the material to have discussions, it can be instructive.

 

Have a pop culture question for Trends & Truths? Email it to parentlife@lifeway.com!

***

Mike Nappa is a bestselling author, a noted commentator on pop culture, and founder of the website for parents, FamilyFans.com.

An Elective Education: Teaching Your Preteen about Citizenship by GG Mathis

ballot

This season, if preteens aren’t hearing political messages on TV, they are seeing them plastered on bus stops, yard signs, t-shirts, and Internet banner ads. You can use campaign season as a teaching tool to help your preteen understand what the Bible teaches about Christian citizenship.

Let your preteen know what the Bible says about citizenship. During your family Bible time—or at any other appropriate moment—share these Scriptures with your preteen:

You must not blaspheme God or curse a leader among your people. Exodus 22:28 (HCSB)

Then He said to them, “Therefore give back to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Matt 22:21 (HCSB)

Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except from God, and those that exist are instituted by God. Romans 13:1 (HCSB)

Use a searchable Bible study site or concordance to find other Scriptures about government and citizenship.

Let your preteen see your good example. Register to vote and do so. Invite your preteen to accompany you to the polls. Pay your taxes and explain how local, state, and government entities use the funds—especially in ways that benefit your community. As you have opportunity, involve your family in beneficial community events.

Let your preteen know where you stand. As local and state issues arise for voter approval, explain how you intend to vote and why. Encourage your preteen to ask questions and to express her thoughts on candidates, issues, and elections. Begin now to prepare your preteen to be an informed, ethical, thinking voter.

Let your preteen hear you pray for your nation. Paul urged Christians to pray diligently for “for kings and all those who are in authority” (1 Timothy 2:2). He reminded his readers that God wants all people to be saved and follow His truth—sovereigns, senators, and school boards. Many of us are guilty of complaining about our leaders instead of praying for them. As a family and on your own, ask God to bless, guide, and transform our nation’s leaders.

GG Mathis loves her family, writing, kids (especially preteens), and tea! She is a mom and wife in Joplin, Missouri, when her family endured the deadly tornado that wrecked their town in 2011.

 

LifeWay is MORE than excited about our new curriculum for preteens, FLYTE. If you’re looking for some great topics to touch on with your preteen group, go watch this video and then consider learning some more about FLYTE.

Photo used with permission of Flickr Creative Commons. Click on photo for source.