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Many of these are things parents know. Many find it difficult to follow through with them because we are tired from working all day or because our children beg us and it is easier to give in. I am hoping parents who may be struggling will pick one or two things to work on so as their children get older the problems do not escalate. We have many teenagers who are not living at home because the parents are at a loss as to what to do about their behavior. They have lost control. The reason I decided to put these tips out is because I want to help prevent those kids from either leaving home or being kicked out because no one knows what to do or the student doesn't think they are loved or they don't want to follow the house rules. It needs to start at a young age. You can not wait until the child is 14, 15 , or 16 and all of the sudden lay down the law. There needs to be boundaries at every stage of their life. The boundaries/limits will change with the child's age.

Ages 0-5
*Read with your kids every night before bed. It doesn't have to be a long time but a few minutes every night. It will help their pre-literacy skills as well as speaking skills.
*Routine is very important at these ages. They need the same bedtime every night and the same routine before bed.
*Limit TV, Computer, and Screen Time -Even if they are doing educational games or shows it is not good for this age group.
*This is an age group you have control over what they are eating and drinking. I would avoid all pop and candy. If they don't try it at a young age they won't be as apt to ask for it frequently. You can really set the stage for the kinds of foods they will eat as they get older. If you don't give them sugared cereal they really don't know any different. Once you start it is hard to change. Try to put it off as long as possible. Then maybe only have those treats on special occasions. Many children battle constipation at this age and many times it can be managed with diet.

Ages 6-9 (Grades 1-4)
*Once again regular bedtimes are a must for this age group. Reading before bed can help them relax and be able to go to sleep faster. Do not let them play video games within an hour of bedtime as this can disrupt sleep.
*Talk positively about school. Obviously not all parents' experiences with school were positive. However, your child is going to go through 13 years of school. It can be very helpful if you can talk about their day, give encouragement and get involved so your child hopefully can have a positive feeling toward school.
*Be on time for school. This can set the tone for their whole day.
*Monitor what they are watching on TV. Even cartoons can have content not appropriate for this age group. Limit screen time. They need time to be outside and getting fresh air. Set limits on where they can play and what time they need to be home. Get to know your child's friends and their families.
*Talk about things like drinking, smoking, and drugs. You don't need to go in depth or be stern about it. Let them know if they ever have questions or concerns they can come to you.
*Some kids may get their first cell phone in 3-4th grade. With that comes responsibility for them as well as for the parent. Discuss where the limits are. Is it for emergency use only? What is appropriate language? Parents should have full access to their phones to check texting messages and/or voicemail.

Ages 10-11 (Grades 5-6)
*This age group still needs their sleep, 8-9 hours per night. Once again, no video games 1 hour before bedtime.
*This is a fun but difficult age. They may seem moody or show many emotions in a short amount of time. You may notice physical changes with your child. This is the age you will want to begin to talk about maturation and begin talking about sex. They know from TV, music, and friends a little about sex. It is best to get the facts from you their parent because in the upcoming age group they will begin to have friends that experiment with many different things.
*Don't forget to talk about hygiene! (Don't just talk but make sure they are showering daily and changing their clothes, deodorant is a great thing to start at this age.
*Many more are getting cell phones. It used to be the kids would have email and communicate that way. As parents we could put the computer in a spot so we could keep an eye on what was being written. (I still recommend putting the computer where you can monitor the sites they are visiting.) With the cell phone it makes it a little more tricky. You will need to make sure your child knows that with the cell phone comes the understanding that at any point if they are asked to hand it over you can check their texts as well as pictures. Don't just threaten them but you will need to figure out how to operate the phone and check it often. If you see something you don't like you will need to discuss it and give appropriate consequences. If they are being bullied or their friends are writing inappropriate things you will also need to address that either with your child or possibly the other child and his/her parent. It takes a village! I think many would be surprised some of the things that are written and many parents think "my child would not do this so I don't need to worry about it." The only way you will know for sure is to check. They may accuse you of invading their privacy but you are doing your "job" as a parent. Your job is to raise them and love them so they become well adjusted, contributing members of our society.
*Facebook Pages are free game for viewing also!
*Encourage them to try new things. Try a new sport, band, or chorus. Give them more responsibility (paper route, babysitting jobs, chores around the house, volunteering in the community). The more involved and connected children are the less likely they are to go down a wrong path.
*30% of children in Iowa are overweight or at risk for being overweight. Being healthy starts at home. Eating healthy: limiting pop (absolutely no energy drinks), eating fruits and veggies and dairy, sit down and eat as many meals together as possible-at least 3 per week. Encourage activity: Go for a walk together (many great talks can happen on a walk), yard work is great exercise, PLAY! Movement is good. Sitting is not good. They have sat most of the day in school so activity after school is a must.
*Don't forget to ask about school and how it is going. Check their grades online. Don't hesitate to contact the school if you have concerns of any kind.
*You may think gosh there is a lot of heavy advice in this age group. The reason is is because when they move to the next age group is really tough and with this age group it is critical you do the ground work for some really tough topics.

Ages 12-13 (Grades 7-8)
*It used to be this would be the age I would talk about the stuff I wrote in the previous section. The kids are maturing earlier and earlier.
*Sleep at this age is just as important as the previous age groups. Many parents think that if their child goes to their room that counts. Many kids have TVs in their rooms, go to bed with their phones or IPods. I would encourage you to limit these items at bedtime. Have them leave their electronic devices in the kitchen and everything is shut off at 9-10:00.
*Nutrition is again very important. Watch what they are eating at ala carte. Discuss with them what they eat for lunch at school. Are they eating 2 lunches with chocolate milk and ala carte items? Limit the amount of ala carte they have access to. They are allowed as many fruits and vegetables as they would like for their school lunch. Encourage them to fill up on those verses cookies. Energy drinks are popular at this age. There have been kids who have died from drinking them so encourage other options. 100% juice is best if they are drinking juice. Be careful how many calories they are taking in through things they are drinking. Juice, regular Gatorade or other sports drinks and regular pop/soda are full of sugar and calories. If your child is not active these calories will catch up with them (don't forget about dental health).
*Activity for this age either really picks up or disappears for the most part. Those that choose to be in athletics obviously are getting their exercise. If your child happens to choose not to go out for sports that is ok. Not everyone is an athlete, however, everyone should exercise or be active. If your child is not active you may need to come up with some creative ways to promote it (biking, swimming, walking, cleaning, paper route, yard work).
*Cell phones are a major mode of communication for this age. If you have followed the tips I listed in the earlier grades, when you ask to see their phone to look at their texts and picture they shouldn't mind too much because they know it is part of having a phone. If you didn't do it when they were younger they may complain and give you grief about being in their business. You will need to stand your ground and explain the expectations that come with having a phone. Check it often. Discuss texting ettiquette. No obscene pictures or language is tolerated. If your child is being bullied or being a bully address it immediately. It takes a village so communicate with other parents...that doesn't mean gossip...but discuss ways to help your students become responsible phone owners.
*Facebook Pages at this age are popular. Check these pages frequently for age appropriate material and signs of bullying.
*According to several surveys this is the age where children begin to experiment. I hope you have tried to keep communication lines open through the years so the topics of sex, drugs, and alcohol are not new topics of discussion that will all of the sudden occur at this age. Many parents want to stick their heads in the sand and say "not my child they would never do that" or "they are young and wouldn't be ready for that yet." I am telling you now if they aren't experimenting with sex, drugs, or alcohol they are talking about someone who is or talking with friends about these topics. Once again check their phones and computer sites. Check to make sure your child is where they say they are going to be. That doesn't mean to call them on their phone. That means you go and physically see that they are where they say or talk to them on a land line. If they are not where they say you will need to figure out a consequence for their action. This will lay the foundation for when they get their license and are able to be mobile.
*Ask about school and how they are doing academically and socially. Contact the school if you have concerns.
Ages 14-18 (Grades 9-12)

Ages >18 (After High School)