The Surprising Way to Help Teens Cope With Cyberbullying: Family Dinner!

Study Shows Family Dinners Can Help Teens Cope With CyberbullyingAlong with the health benefits of home-cooked cuisine, a new study shows that family dinners may help teens cope with the effects of cyberbullying.

“One in five adolescents experience cyberbullying,” Frank Elgar of the Institute for Health and Social Policy at McGill University said in a press release. “Many adolescents use social media, and online harassment and abuse are difficult for parents and educators to monitor, so it is critical to identify protective factors for youths who are exposed to cyberbullying.”

According to research published in JAMA Pediatrics earlier this week, nearly 19 percent of the students involved in the study reported having experienced cyberbullying during the previous year. And while victims of cyberbullying have been shown to abuse drugs and alcohol as well as have an increased possibility of developing mental health problems, this study demonstrated that teens who were dealing with cyberbullying and who ate with their families on a regular basis benefited from the social support that goes hand in hand with dinner table conversation.

Of course, family dinners aren’t the only way you can help your child cope with cyberbullying. The research promotes any kind of family interaction, whether it’s eating breakfast together or talking on the drive in to school, can offer the support your child needs. And if you think your child is being cyberbullied follow our 18 tips to put a stop to cyberbullying.

And bring your family to the table with these family-friendly slow cooker recipes.

Family Dinners: 4 Tips To Make Them Better
Family Dinners: 4 Tips To Make Them Better
Family Dinners: 4 Tips To Make Them Better

Photo of family at dinner courtesy of Shutterstock.

 

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Healthier Pregnancies Are Possible for Obese Women, Study Finds

Healthier Pregnancies Are Possible for Obese Women, Study FindsAbout 30 percent of  reproductive-age women in the U.S. are currently classified as obese. And with obesity rates on the rise nationally, monitoring and understanding healthy weight gain during pregnancy has become a real concern for healthcare professionals.

Dangers abound for women who are obese and pregnant, including miscarriages, birth injuries, and a chance of having gestational diabetes, among other issues for the child down the road, TIME reports.

But research just out from the journal Obesity has promising news. The study found that the risk level can be lowered if women join in a program that encourages them to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

The study followed 114 women who were classified as obese, based on the Institute of Medicine guidelines. A test group was given an “intervention program,” which included individualized calorie goals, advice to follow the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension dietary pattern without sodium restriction, and attended weekly group meetings, while the control group was only given advice one-time dietary advice.

And the results? Women who participated in the intervention programs gained less weight than their counterparts and their babies also had lower numbers of large-for-gestational age weights.

“Most interventions to limit weight gain among obese women during pregnancy have failed, but our study shows that with regular contact and support, these women can limit the amount of weight they gain, which will also reduce the risk of complications during and after pregnancy,” author Kim Vesco, MD, MPH, a practicing obstetrician/gynecologist, said in a press release.

Not sure what a healthy weight range is for you during pregnancy? Take a look at our general guidelines. But remember, you should always ask your healthcare provider about what’s best for you and your baby.

Weight and Pregnancy: Gain Only What You Need
Weight and Pregnancy: Gain Only What You Need
Weight and Pregnancy: Gain Only What You Need

Photo of pregnant woman courtesy of Shutterstock.

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How a Mom Got Her 4-Year-Old Son Expelled From Preschool

Child Expelled After His Mom's Facebook PostHave you ever taken to social media to vent your frustrations? One mom in Florida did just that — and what she wrote ended up getting her son expelled!

Running late to drop her son off for picture day at Sonshine Christian Academy last week, Ashley Habat told a school administrator that she felt the preschool should have given her more notice about the approaching picture day.

Afterwards, still upset, Ashley went home and posted on Facebook: “Why is that every single day, there is something new I dislikes about Will’s school? Are my standards really too high, or are people working in the education field really just that ignorant.” She tagged Sonshine in her post, but the next day, the school called her for a meeting to say that her son, Will, was going to be expelled.

“I was in shock,” Ashley told WJXT-TV. “Why would you expel a 4-year-old over something his mom posts on her private Facebook page [that] only people on her friends list can see?”

The letter of dismissal explained: “Your relationship with Sonshine did not get off to a very good start the first day of school … you utilized social media to call into question not only the integrity, but the intelligence of our staff. These actions are also consistent with sowing discord, which is spoken of in the handbook  you signed.”

In a time when social media is at our fingertips and where mom bloggers often have vocal power, we’re wondering: Was Sonshine out of line? How do YOU think this situation should have been handled?

Also, take our quiz to find out how your child’s school stacks up.

Mom Confessions: My Latest Parenting Fail
Mom Confessions: My Latest Parenting Fail
Mom Confessions: My Latest Parenting Fail

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The American Academy of Pediatrics Recommends Later School Start Times for Teens

Pediatricians Recommends Later School Start Times for TeensAs teenagers across the country head back to school, many are starting what will be yet another year of little sleep. But consider this: A consistent lack of shuteye can be much more serious than feeling fatigued in biology.

Studies show sleep deprivation puts teens at risk for things like car accidents and can lead to poor academic performance and ill health. Citing this topic as an “important public health issue,” the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a recommendation that middle schools and high schools start classes at or after 8:30 a.m. to allow students the chance to get more sleep regularly.

“Chronic sleep loss in children and adolescents is one of the most common – and easily fixable – public health issues in the U.S. today,” said pediatrician Judith Owens, MD, FAAP, lead author of the policy statement, in an AAP press release.

The AAP states that the optimal amount of sleep time for teens is between 8 1/2 and 9 1/2 hours per night. But as students get older and responsibilities pile up, a mix of homework, extracurricular activities, and after-school jobs leads to even later nights, which can make it very difficult to meet the sleep goal.

The possibility of making this policy change in schools across the nation is also tough. School districts struggle with financial and logistical challenges that include providing school busing services for elementary, middle, and high schools. It can be difficult for enough buses to shuttle kids to all of the schools in one time frame, which can also strain school district budgets. Ultimately, “the issue is really cost,” Kristen Amundson, executive director of the National Association of State Boards of Education, told the AP.

Does your child’s lack of sleep affect her performance at school? Take a look at these tips to boost her school success.

Helping Your Child Succeed At School
Helping Your Child Succeed At School
Helping Your Child Succeed At School

Photo of girl sleeping courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Too Much Screen Time Can Decrease Kids’ Ability to Read Emotional Cues

Kids Who Use Technology Less Can Read Emotional Cues BetterThe amount of screen time you allow your kids can be a point of tension in many households. A new study published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior shows that increased digital use may actually affect pre-teens’ ability to read and interpret people’s nonverbal emotional and social cues.

According to The Los Angeles Times, two groups of children were given two tests, a pre- and a post-experiment test that asked them to decipher the emotions of people shown in photographs and videos. Afterwards, one group continued with their normal plugged-in lifestyle, while the other group spent five days outdoors with peers at a wilderness camp where all electronics (cellphones, televisions, and computers) were banned.

Researchers found that the kids who spent time away from technology scored better on their post-experience test, while those who didn’t scored about the same. This finding underscores the worry that many parents have about the negative impact of prolonged exposure to digital media. “Many people are looking at the benefits of digital media in education, and not many are looking at the costs,” said Patricia Greenfield, a senior author of the study from UCLA. “Decreased sensitivity to emotional cues — losing the ability to understand the emotions of other people — is one of the costs. The displacement of in-person social interaction by screen interaction seems to be reducing social skills.”

But the good news is that it only took the kids who attended camp a short amount of time improve their emotional recognition ability. And this new piece of research gives the evidence you need to get kids to turn off technology — at least for a few more hours — and interact with friends and family. “The main thing I hope people take away from this is that it is really important for children to have time for face-to-face socializing,” said Yalda Uhls, another author of the study and a Southern California regional director for Common Sense Media,

Would you ever consider asking your family to give up technology? Our Homeschool Den blogger is doing just that this week!

Setting Limits on Technology
Setting Limits on Technology
Setting Limits on Technology

Plus: If you’re hesitant about how to introduce technology to your little one, we’ll show you how with these media-minding tips.

Photo of children courtesy of Shutterstock.

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