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Filed under: Teens

SNAP your problems!

Filed under: Children, Families, Teens
SNAP your family’s problems with this easy-to-remember acronym.

Problem solving is a great resilience skill for families. All ages can learn or fine-tune their ability to solve problems. After all, life ensures there will be plenty of problems to solve! You can specifically help children learn how to problem solve with this easy-to-remember acronym—SNAP:

S: State the problem.

N: Name the goal.

A: Find All possible solutions.

P:  Pick one option.

For example, if your child wakes up tired every morning, you can help him or her identify the problem (being tired), set the goal of getting more sleep, and discuss possible solutions (such as going to bed earlier, developing a bedtime routine, or learning a relaxation skill such as deep breathing). Then help your child pick one to try for a specific time period (such as a week) to see if it works. And instead of trying to solve the problem yourself, be a coach and help your child learn how to solve problems using SNAP.

Check out FOCUS’s handout on SNAP to learn more. And for more resilience-building skills for your family, visit HPRC’s Family Resilience section.

Running 101 for kids and teens

Is your child interested in running as a sport? Check out some helpful strategies on proper running form, hydration, and other tips to ensure your child is safe and gets the most out of this healthy activity.

Running provides an inexpensive and effective way to get your child or adolescent excited about physical fitness for a lifetime. Beyond the physical health benefits, running can also lead to improvements in classroom behavior, self-control, self-esteem, alertness, enthusiasm, creativity, and maturity.

For children of all ages, running is one of the most versatile and natural physical activities. In younger children, running should be encouraged through fun activities such as tag, capture the flag, the fox and the hound, and red light green light. By keeping running fun, your child may learn to enjoy exercise at an early age, helping him or her maintain those habits as he/she gets older.

For older children interested in the sport of running, there are some additional ways to help your child become a strong, healthy runner. Learn more about proper running form, training, hydration, diet, shoes, and safety, which may help your child’s performance and may also decrease his or her risk of injury.

Staggering stats about teens and stress

Teens are stressed out, and families dealing with deployments can face extra stress. Learn more and pick up some practical tips.

The American Psychological Association (APA) wants to know how stressed out Americans are. Every year since 2007, they’ve conducted a yearly “Stress in America” survey in which they analyze trends about stress and its associated symptoms and behaviors across a range of people living in the U.S. In August 2013, they focused on 1,018 teens (ages 13-17).

A recent report of this information about teens and stress showed that the stats are staggering. Teens from the general population (civilian and military) exceed healthy levels of stress, mirroring the trends in the U.S. among adults. Stress affects sleep, exercise, and eating. Teens tend to get 7.4 hours of sleep on school nights, while the recommended amount is around nine or more hours according to the National Sleep Foundation, and between nine and 10 hours according to the National Institutes of Health. One in five teens exercises less than once a week or not at all. And 23% of teens report that they’ve skipped at least one meal in the past month due to stress.

Parents’ deployments are extremely challenging for children and teens, so military teens often have to deal with additional stressors. Consider this:

  • When a parent deploys for 19 months or more, kids’ achievement scores are lower than peers’ scores.
  • Teachers and counselors say that parental deployment can cause stress at home, often leading to more problems at school (such as incomplete homework, skipping school, or a less-engaged parent).
  • Kids’ resiliency can be impacted when a parent is away, and parents/teachers/counselors sometimes feel that helpful resources can be hard to navigate.

What can you and your teens do to combat their stress?

  • Watch for signs of stress, and actively use stress-management techniques. You can also find children-centered techniques in these HPRC resources. Recognize that stress-management skills are important to develop whether you are a Warfighter, family member, or civilian.
  • Military parents can alert teachers and counselors when a parent is deployed and enlist whatever support is available.
  • Parents’ well-being impacts their teens’ well-being. Be sure to take care of yourself by eating right (individually or with your family), exercising, and managing your own stress.
  • Bolster resiliency skills, both in times of stress and in times of calm. You can learn how with practical tips in "Building Family Resilience."

Exercise for children and teens

Exercise is an important aspect of healthy child and teen development. Learn about guidelines and tips.

Physical fitness is important at any age, and it’s especially important that children begin leading healthy, active lifestyles early on. Regular exercise for kids can build strong muscles and bones and promote overall health. Exercise can also boost kids’ self-esteem, improve sleep, and stimulate learning in school. But do you know what kinds of exercise your children or teens should be doing? Check out HPRC’s Answer, “Put some fun in your children’s fitness,” to find out.

Need help talking to your teen?

Here are some tips to help you talk to your teen about some of the tough issues they may have to face.

We all know the importance of communicating with our kids, but sometimes it’s hard to know what to say—particularly around issues such as sex, tobacco, alcohol, and drugs. Healthfinder.gov (from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services) has tips for how parents can talk to their kids about:

  • Healthy relationships
  • Sex
  • Tobacco, alcohol, and drugs
  • Bullying
  • Depression

Having open communication lines with kids and teens is important for healthy development. For more information on maintaining or strengthening your family check out HPRC’s Family & Relationships domain.

FDA to examine adding caffeine to foods

HPRC Fitness Arena: Family & Relationships
The FDA is investigating the recent trend of caffeine added to many food products and its possible effect on children and adolescents.

The trend of adding caffeine to new food products has led the FDA to take another look at caffeine regulations. In particular, they have decided to look into caffeine being added to foods, as reported in this Consumer Update. The FDA approved the addition of caffeine to colas (specifically) in the 1950s, but the addition of caffeine to foods and beverages popular with children and adolescents, such as waffles, chewing gum, and energy drinks, has prompted them to take a fresh look at the possible impact of caffeine on children and adolescents’ health.

Currently, the FDA has not set a safe amount of daily caffeine consumption for children. Medical professionals discourage any caffeine consumption and state that children and teens should take in no more than 100 mg of caffeine per day. To put that in perspective, an eight-ounce cup of coffee typically contains about 100 mg (or more), and the most popular caffeine-containing sodas contain around 30 to 55 mg in a 12-ounce can (a 12-ounce soda cannot contain more than 68 mg of caffeine). Not knowing how much caffeine and other stimulants are contained in the drinks and foods children eat is a concern. In the meantime, for a better understanding of the effects of caffeine, read this article from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Tips for parents to help children and teens with deployment: Week 5

Look at deployment and reintegration as times of family strength and growth to help you and your children weather the changes gracefully.

In this fifth and final week of strategies you can use to help your children and teens weather the deployment of a parent, we take a look at how you can use the experience to strengthen your family.

Week #5 tips: Honor the family strengths.

  • Deployment and reintegration can be times of family strength and growth. Look at these as opportunities to practice new roles and routines that can be helpful as your family adapts to the challenges of deployment and reintegration.
  • Recognize the growth of your adolescent when you return from your deployment. Many teens feel like they’ve matured during their parent’s absence and feel hurt when this goes unacknowledged. In fact, acknowledging and communicating growth and transformations for each member of the family can be a great family activity to build positive relationships.

Tips for parents to help children and teens with deployment: Week 4

Tips for parents to use during reintegration to help children and teenagers

Children grow and change over the course of a deployment, and service members can sometimes miss events and milestones. Here are some practical strategies you can keep in mind during reintegration to help your children and teenagers.

Week #4 tips: Strategies you can use during reintegration.

  • When a deployed parent returns, slowly transition the roles and responsibilities of each family member at home, but don’t forget the individual needs of each person as well as the family as a whole.
  • Let your children know that you love them unconditionally, but still provide clear expectations and boundaries.
  • Brainstorm a list of fun activities to do as a family.
  • Devote one-on-one time with each child when you return home in order to get reacquainted with your children.
  • Demonstrate how to cope well with emotions. For example, children can be taught emotion management. One tool is called a “feeling thermometer.” Family members can monitor and control their feelings using the picture of a temperature thermometer to manage stress when the temperature is too high.

Tips for parents to help children and teens with deployment: Week 3

Strategies for helping your teenager cope with deployment include keeping the lines open.

This week we offer some practical strategies to help you to keep the lines of communication open with your teens about deployment and post-deployment reintegration.

Week #3 tips: Maintain open communication with your teenager.

  • The most important strategy to use especially with teens is to maintain open communication about concerns, emotions, and questions.
  • Encourage your teens and children to speak out about their thoughts and feelings to their loved ones. It not only helps manage their emotions, but it also helps foster closer family relationships.
  • Stay close to your teen or child while you are deployed using the technology they love: smartphones, Twitter, Facebook, email, etc.
  • Reinforce your teenager’s growing autonomy while you rebuild and maintain your relationship in new and flexible ways. Let your teen choose how much he or she wants to stay in touch; take a hint from how—and how often—they respond to you reaching out.
  • You also can encourage your teens and children to create a “scrapbook” of videos, pictures, stories, and relevant events that took place while their parent was deployed so experiences can be shared during and after deployment.

    Tips for parents to help children and teens with deployment: Week 2

    More strategies you can use to help your child or teen cope throughout the deployment cycle.

    Here are some additional practical strategies and tips you as a parent can use to help your children and teens cope with deployment and the post-deployment reintegration process.

    Week #2 tips: Easing deployment and reintegration

    • Before deployment: If you’re being deployed, try recording your own audio books so your child can listen to your voice during your deployment. This also will help your child stay connected to you by continuing family routines such as reading before bed.
    • During deployment: Depending on their age, kids don’t understand timeframes as well as adults do. If you continue to remind them of future plans during and after the deployed parent’s return, it will help them deal with the separation and reunion.
    • Try referring to the deployed parent’s absence as work instead of just saying that he or she is gone. This helps children realize that the absent parent didn’t simply choose to leave them, which could make for a better reunion.
    • Before the deployed parent returns, talk about what issues to address when he or she does. And plan activities you can share together.
    • Throughout the deployment cycle: Be aware of mental health symptoms for children of all ages. If needed, join your children or teenagers in group counseling; it can be a helpful forum where everyone can discuss experiences, feelings, and thoughts.
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