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Archive for November, 2011


Posted on: November 17th, 2011 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

Last year, the computer and video game industry had $10.5 billion in revenue. Since the days of Pac Man and Tetris, the booming industry has seen sales and profits rise consistently as it continuously reinvents itself. This hobby has created extreme loyalty, which can sometimes be viewed as addictive and dangerous. In 2010, the average gamer spent eight hours a week playing video games, and 25 percent of those gamers are under the age of 18.

We have all seen the news stories about video games making kids overweight and increasing crime rates in teens. But with 67 percent of U.S. households having a gaming console, are there actions parents can take in order to keep kids safe and healthy?

The most significant thing for parents to keep in mind when allowing their kids to play video games is to remember they are in control. Here’s a short list of ideas to help you keep gaming under control.

  • Monitor their playing time either by how much time a week, or as a reward for doing homework, helping out around the house or even exercising.
  •  Use the parental controls. With the new gaming technology, most consoles and games come with parental controls, so make life easier by using them. With the new technology, your kids can go online to play and talk with complete strangers. Be aware of those games and limit what their kids can do.
  • Keep a close eye on the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rating. These ratings typically show up in the commercials as well as placed on the boxes. There are numerous ratings and they run the gamut from EC for Early Childhood to A for Adults Only. Parents should purchase games that are appropriate for their children, instead of just buying what is popular.
  •  Play video games with your kids so you are in the know about what they are being entertained by.
  • Discuss your household video game rules with friend’s parents so no toes are stepped on and consistency is maintained.

Parents should keep in mind it is not always a negative thing for their kids to play video games. Some available games promote hand-eye coordination, problem-solving skills, and the mind’s ability to process information.

If you see a sudden change in behavior, grades or socialization habits, the negative effects of gaming may be affecting your child. When in doubt, go with games that are known and promoted for their educational benefits. Giving a game that is entertaining as well as beneficial to your child’s mind is a win-win for all. And lastly, do not let the gaming world become their world.



Posted on: November 10th, 2011 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

The terms “step family” and “blended family” may not be new, but they are much more common in society today than ever before. In the past, we were most familiar with two drastically opposite views on what a blended family could be. On one hand we had the negative example of Walt Disney’s Cinderella and her evil stepfamily, and on the other we had the picture perfect portrayal of a blended family brought to us by the Brady Bunch.

Now, blended families are more of a norm, with 65% of remarriages including children from previous relationships. Just as a divorce or losing a parent is life changing for a child, and sometimes extremely difficult to deal with, “blending” families to create stepfamilies can be just as challenging. Sometimes the battle is between the kids getting along, the kids and the new parents accepting each other or even between the parent’s struggling to find a balance between two different parenting techniques. It may be difficult at the start, but one of the key elements to blending a family successfully is time. The biggest mistake a parent can make is to force and rush the transition.

Things to Keep in Mind When Planning a Blended Family

  • Too many changes at once can unsettle children. Blended families have the highest success rate if the couple waits two years or more after a divorce to remarry, instead of piling one drastic family change onto another.
  • Don’t expect to fall in love with your partner’s children overnight. Get to know them. Love and affection take time to develop.
  • Find ways to experience “real life” together. Taking both sets of kids to a theme park every time you get together is a lot of fun, but it isn’t reflective of everyday life. Try to get the kids used to your partner and his or her children in daily life situations.
  • Make parenting changes before you marry. Agree with your new partner how you intend to parent together, and then make any necessary adjustments to your parenting styles before you remarry. It’ll make for a smoother transition and your kids won’t become angry at your new spouse for initiating changes.
  • Don’t allow ultimatums. Your kids or new partner may put you in a situation where you feel you have to choose between them. Remind them that you want both sets of people in your life.
  • Insist on respect. You can’t insist that people like each other but you can stress that they treat one another with respect.
  • Limit your expectations. You may give a lot of time, energy, love, and affection to your new partner’s kids that will not be returned immediately. Think of it as making small investments that may one day yield a lot of interest.

The biggest step for a parent is making an effort to create a relationship with their spouse’s kids. Even if the kids do not accept the change at first, stepparents should not take that as a sign to give up.  This is a new life and everyone needs to go through the ups and downs together. Continue to take baby steps. Show them you care, that you want to be in their life and appreciate them, because in time they will do the same.




Posted on: November 2nd, 2011 by Angela Ardolino No Comments

A young man who was grieving for his pet goldfish said, “If something happens to me, will Mom and Dad flush me too?”

A 10-year-old girl who had just lost her 9-year-old dog—with whom she’d grown up—said, “Mom and Dad aren’t crying, so I should be grown-up too and not cry.”

These humbling examples offered me a sobering perspective on how deeply and personally children experience grief. With such a fragile and sensitive subject, what can parents and grandparents do to help?

Right now, before a loss occurs, think about how to bring your child into the process. Each person handles death differently. Age, life experience and personality vary from child to child, and parents need to be able to acknowledge that and support their child’s healing process individually. Death is a natural part of life, and how a parent guides their child or grandchild through their grief will very likely affect how they will deal with similar experiences in the future.

Although there is no uniformed way to deal with death, there are actions parents can take to help their child understand this unfamiliar circumstance:


  • Explain death to them. Of course this is going to need to be done in terms appropriate for their age level. Using unknown vocabulary or ignoring the situation all together will only make your child more confused and hurt. Whether it is a beloved family member, distant relative or even pet, it is important that a child is not sheltered from a natural, uncontrollable part of life. It is going to happen and it is better for them to understand the process than be under the impression of false information.
  • Teach them how to handle death appropriately. Even if it is the death a pet they’ve had for less than 24 hours, parents should take these examples and make them teachable moments. Holding a small family funeral, at which the animal’s life is celebrated with stories, artwork, poetry, or a song, will help kids learn different ways to express their feelings in the situation of death.
  • Show emotion! It is important for children see their parents express emotion in these unfamiliar situations, because they are looking for any sign of what to do and how to act. Parents and grandparents are always the number one role models and seeing their parents handle emotions such as crying, will teach them that it is okay to show emotion and how to appropriately go through the healing process. If parents suppress their feelings, their child might come to believe that it’s wrong to express one’s grief.


A popular question parents have when helping their child cope with death is what is the proper age for a child to attend a funeral? This choice is up to the parent. They know their child best, and have a good grasp on what their child can handle. If it is the first funeral, parents should brief their child on what to expect when they go. Sometimes attending a funeral is the best way for a child to understand death and heal. Children closely connected to someone who died may need that closure and final good-bye. At the same time, some children may not be ready to attend funerals, and this potentially could make them only more upset. Again, it is a judgment call only a parent or grandparent can make.

As kids learn how to deal with death, they need space, understanding, and patience to grieve in their own way. They might not show grief as an adult would. A young child might not cry or might react to the news by acting out or becoming hyperactive. A teen might act annoyed and might feel more comfortable confiding in peers. Nevertheless, watch for any signs that kids need help coping with a loss.

Signs your child may need additional help coping with death:


  • Drastic behavior and character changes. Ex: Going from a social butterfly to extremely withdrawn and angry.
  • No signs of healing. If your child has not come to terms with the death after a normal period of time.


A doctor, school guidance counselor, or mental health organization can provide additional assistance and recommendations. Also look for books, websites, support groups, and other resources that help people manage grief.

Just as dealing with death is a learning process for kids, teaching this is also a process for parents.  Parents can’t always shield kids from sadness and losses. But helping them learn to cope with them builds emotional resources they can rely on throughout life.