(Over)Protective Parents: Helpful or Harmful?

Are Some Parents Too Overprotective? What do you think?

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

My mom and I were speaking on the phone yesterday about a recent New York Times article on overprotective “helicopter parents,” their children and overnight camps. Did you see it?

Parents are “bombarding the camp with calls: one wanted help arranging private guitar lessons for her daughter, another did not like the sound of her child’s voice during a recent conversation, and a third needed to know — preferably today — which of her daughter’s four varieties of vitamins had run out. All before lunch.

We were laughing about how times certainly have changed since we were all younger– when parents told us to get up, rub some dirt on it, and give it another go. My Mom and I were trying to remember if I ever called when I was away at camp– maybe once– but we’re not completely certain of that figure. Of course, we didn’t have cell phones, email, web cams, or texting when we were kids– but would we have used them if we did?

People have been throwing around the term “helicopter parents” for quite some time now to describe parents who are overprotective of their children to a fault. Some people hate the term and others believe it’s spot on. Mothers and fathers often cite that “times have changed” and more hand-holding is necessary, even though, by many accounts, children in the United States are safer than ever. So is our attempt to protect negatively affecting our children’s ability to be self-determined and independent? What do you think?

Who: Sociologists find that helicopter parents tend to be mothers and fathers of “Millennials,” children of baby boomers, born between the early 1980s and 2000.

They saw their youngsters as “special,” and they sheltered them. Parents outfitted their cars with Baby on Board stickers. They insisted their children wear bicycle helmets, knee pads and elbow guards. They scheduled children’s every hour with organized extracurricular activities. They led the PTA and developed best-friend-like relationships with their children…Today, they keep in constant touch with their offspring via e-mail and cell phones. And when their children go off to college, parents stay just as involved.

Where do we see it: It’s been reported that overprotective parents are noticed on sports fields, schools, colleges, after-school programs, and now, even overnight camps. As I mentioned above, an article in the New York Times reported that overprotective parents have seeped into the camp culture, a place where children’s distance from home was often equated with “growing up” and “standing on their own 2 feet.”

In fact, the camps are now employing full-time parent liaisons to counsel parents from 7am to 10pm via email and phone. This position has become absolutely necessary because camps feel that they need to cater to the increasing number of parents who:

make unsolicited bunk placement requests, flagrantly flout a camp’s ban on cellphones and junk food, and consider summer an ideal time to give their offspring a secret vacation from Ritalin.

While camps want to accommodate parents, they worry that their over-involvement is negating the point of camp—a place to learn how to solve problems and make decisions without parental involvement. ]

What’s going on? Many reasons have been cited as motivators of overprotective parents. Parents are overprotective for all different reasons. In some cases, parents perceive that when they do something for their child, it comes out better. In other cases, parents feel a need for control in a world that seems more unpredictable and scary that it was when they were younger. Some parents have a fear of failure and hate to see their children struggle while others have a fear that their children will succeed and no longer need them as much as they did at one time. Still others feel entitled to check in with or about their children at any given time or they feel empowered by living vicariously through their sons and daughters who are doing things that the parents might not have been able to do when they were younger.

Here’s the rub from several sides:

(1) A study shows…Parental involvement can be very helpful. Data from 24 colleges and universities gathered for the National Survey of Student Engagement show that students whose parents were very often in contact with them and frequently intervened on their behalf “reported higher levels of engagement and more frequent use of deep learning activities,” such as after-class discussions with professors, intensive writing exercises and independent research, than students with less-involved parents. “Compared with their counterparts, children of helicopter parents were more satisfied with every aspect of their college experience, gained more in such areas as writing and critical thinking, and were more likely to talk with faculty and peers about substantive topics,” said survey director George D. Kuh, an Indiana University professor.

(2) A mixed reaction… Lenore Skenazy, a columnist for the New York Sun as well as a mother of a 9 year old son, recently talked about allowing her son to ride the subway on his own. People voiced both dismay and encouragement and called her everything from neglectful to a breath of fresh air. She used the incident to create her own blog about kids and independence, called Free Range Kids. The idea behind the concept is to live responsibly (seat belts, helmets, airbags, etc.), but not to restrict your child’s actions out of fear.

(3) The negative side of over-protectiveness, including:

(a) Undermining children’s confidence in their own abilities to take care of themselves and get things done;

(b) Instilling fear of failure such that they are denied the chance to learn how to persevere while standing on their own 2 feet;

(c) Stunting growth and development—in fact, studies have shown that these children lack some of the knowledge to negotiate what they need, solve their own problems, stay safe, and interact in close quarters with others;

(d) Inability to launch because they’re unsure of their passion, their own direction, and what to do next, if it means doing it on their own;

(e) Taking more staff, teacher, and administrator resources that would be directed towards their children but instead, must be used to tend to parental needs and wants; and, ironically,

(f) Raising parental anxiety levelsresearch has shown that parents who consistently judge their own self worth by their children’s success report feeling more sad and having a more negative self image than parents who did not engage in this behavior.

So, what do you think? Are parents going too far to protect their children and teens or are they justified in doing so? Do you think the affects are more positive or negative? Why? This is a heated topic with many different opinions. We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Please comment below!

Related:

Letters to their helicopter parents from their children: first of series

Dr. Robyn Silverman Interviews Cheri Meiners and Reads Her Children’s Book

Dr. Robyn Reads Try and Stick With It and Interviews Author, Cheri Meiners

Dr. Robyn: We are focusing on the Powerful Word, Determination, this month. The students are learning how they can use determination in their lives everyday! What are some easy and interesting ways that parents can help their children learn determination?

Meiners: The ‘Try and Stick with it’ book includes several fun activities at the back for parents to do with their children, as well as 12 strategies that children can use to develop perseverance and determination (note, see video of Dr. Robyn reading the book above). Parents can also talk about people who have shown determination in overcoming a problem, or at developing a new skill. This can be done through reading biographies, or talking about people you know. You might also discuss scenarios that children typically face, such as those in the book, and talk about how it feels to accomplish something that you put your mind to.

Dr. Robyn: What made you decide to write the book?

Meiners: I started writing this series and this book, particularly, to help children see how a skill like determination is developed, and what the positive outcomes can be. The first books I wrote were for my own children, and I realized that other parents could benefit from having these character building skills taught visually and logically to a child. The books are written in the first person so that the child, through repetition, begins to understand and apply the principles internally.

There are two themes that I wanted to address in this book. The first is that we all need to have the flexibility, courage, and determination to try new things. The determination to try something new builds self-confidence, and is the starting point for future growth. And then, of course, it takes determination to continue in a challenging path—but it brings rewards to oneself and others.

Dr. Robyn: All the Powerful Words Member Schools are teaching the youngest students that determination is a “no quit-go-for-it attitude.” We want children to learn the importance of seeing things through until they reach the end. In your view, why is it so important for children to learn to “stick with it.”

Meiners: Everything that a person learns, knows and accomplishes comes from ‘sticking with something’ because all skills take time and practice to develop. A person who has practiced determination is also much stronger and able to handle adversity when faced with it. We all face problems and challenges, and determination can help in overcoming them. All the medical and technical advances and artistic works that we enjoy in our culture are the result of determined individuals. Each of us has something important to share with others, but those skills and our own character must be developed through perseverance and determination. When children ‘stick with it’, they also learn about themselves–what things they like to do, and what things they are good at. ‘Sticking with it’ will also help a child get along with others because other people will learn to trust and count on a person who has the determination to follow through with commitments.

Dr. Robyn: Sometimes it can be difficult for young children to see things through until they reach the end. For parents and teachers, it can be hard to watch their children cope with failure and rough spots along the way to success. How can parents help to support determination in their children when children are struggling?

Meiners: Giving praise and encouragement for children’s efforts can motivate children to develop greater determination, and when used consistently is a powerful tool in shaping behavior. Also, be specific in pointing out the steps that they have already taken in reaching a particular goal, and let them know you believe in their ability to accomplish it.

Thank you!

Cheri J. Meiners, M.Ed., has her master’s degree in elementary education and gifted education. A former first-grade teacher, she has taught education classes at Utah State University and has supervised student teachers. Cheri and her husband, David, have six children. They live in Laurel, Maryland.

Want to Read the Book Yourself? Here’s how! Try and Stick With It (Learning to Get Along)

Randy Pausch, known for his last lecture on following childhood dreams, dies

Randy Pausch, the Carnegie Mellon professor whose last lecture on following your childhood dreams became an Internet hit and bestselling book, has died of pancreatic cancer. He was 47.

We spoke about Professor Pausch during gratitude month, as he reminds us to thank those teachers who push us to our potential and in the direction of our dreams. As shown in his last lecture, that was the kind of teacher Randy Pausch was. He was also all about exercising your determination:

“Brick walls are there for a reason. They let us prove how badly we want things.”

–Randy Pausch

According to the New York Times:

Last September, Dr. Pausch unexpectedly stepped on an international stage when he addressed a crowd of about 400 faculty and students at Carnegie Mellon as part of the school’s “Last Lecture” series. In the talks, professors typically talk about issues that matter most to them. Dr. Pausch opened his talk with the news that he had terminal cancer and proceeded to deliver an uplifting, funny talk about his own childhood dreams and how to help his children and others achieve their own goals in life. He learned he had pancreatic cancer in September, 2006.

This inspirational video is of Randy Pausch giving his last lecture. The full YouTube version is posted here– and well worth the view– but here’s is a shortened version (10 minutes) that played on Oprah for your convenience.

Thank you, Professor Pausch, who certainly showed us a thing or two about determination. A Powerful Example, indeed, of what it means to go after your dreams.

With gratitude,

Girls Feel Pressure to Grow Up Too Fast, Study Says

Girls Feel Anxiety about Pressure to Fast-Track Their Development

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

Between the magazine articles telling girls to lose weight, glossies telling her that she’ll never measure up , young celebrities withering away along with their clothes, models getting thinner and thinner, and the massive pressures in school and among friends to look the best, a generation of girls are being affected. Poor body image, poor body esteem, mental health issues, and low self worth abound.

Negative messages are everywhere. Even our daughter’s clothes and favorite dolls and toys are getting a boost, a lift, a pout, and a “push” to grow up sooner and sexier than ever before. Some, you just have to wonder, are the retailers kidding?

So who could be surprised that girls are showing some wear and tear from today’s sexualized, body-bashing culture? A recent study out of the UK reveals that the pressure to grow up too soon is one the greatest influences on girls’ well being, according to the girls themselves! The pressure to wear clothes that make them look older, entertain sexual advances from boys, lose weight according to the directions in the media, and even consider plastic surgery to “improve looks” were identified as pressures that were particularly damaging.

One participant explained: “When I was eleven I read a teenage magazine for the first time and that is when it kind of clicked, ‘I should be like this.’”

Here’s the scoop:

Who was studied? Girls between the ages of 10 and 14 years old. Qualitative (descriptive) information was collected through focus groups consisting of 54 girls, divided by age. Quantitative (the numbers and percents) data were collected through polls online, in which 350 girls participated.

By Whom: Girlguiding UK, the Mental Health Foundation, and leading researchers Opinion Leader.

What was studied? The report considers a new generation of potential triggers for mental health problems in girls – premature sexualization, commercialization and alcohol misuse – and also some of the more longstanding issues like bullying and family breakdown. It examines the impact of such factors on girls’ feelings and behavior at home and in their communities, and asks young women themselves what might be done to help.

What did they find?

§ Mental Health Issues: Many girls reported that they had direct experience with friends and people who they knew who were suffering from some kind of mental health problem.

o Two-fifths know someone who has self-harmed

o One third of the girls have a friend who has suffered from an eating disorder

o Half new girls who were suffering from depression

o Almost two in five had friends who had experienced panic attacks.

o Many girls felt strongly that self-harm was within the spectrum of normal teenage behavior – as long as it happened infrequently– and was not necessarily an indication of a mental health issue.

o A sixth of those surveyed often feel angry

o Half admit they find anger hard to manage.

o Around a quarter often worry (28%) and feel like no-one understands them (25%) while around half find both emotions hard to handle.

§ Gotta Have It! Increased pressure to have money for the latest electronics and clothes means pressure for the girls.

o One-in-five girls report feeling anger and sadness

o A quarter of the girls feel worried or bad about themselves.

§ Fodder for Bullies? Girls felt that the growing check-list of “ideals” for young girls was giving bullies additional excuses to single them out – leading to stress, unhappiness and anxiety.

As one girl admitted: “If I get bored then I start becoming really aggressive.”

§ Is my body OK? Media is a major culprit.

o Looking at pictures of models, pop-stars and actresses makes a fifth feel sad, two-fifths feel bad about themselves and 12 per cent feel angry.

o Media stories that portray young people in a bad light make half the girls who took part angry (50 per cent), a quarter worried (23 per cent) and almost two-fifths sad.

· Read the full study: A Generation Under Stress

Study after study is showing that girls are under stress…and duress in their normal, everyday lives. Yet, our culture continues to churn out manufactured, thinned-out celebrities, sexualized play-things, inappropriate clothes, and media to deliver the 1-2 punch.

Now, more than ever, it’s vital that we provide our girls with positive role models, positive body messages, and positive activities and powerful environments that show them they are so much more than a 2-dimensional object there to be critiqued, criticized, and put-down.

What are your thoughts on this recent study? Any ideas with regard to what to do next? Yes, we need these girls to have a pivotal moment when they know they’re worthwhile—but even more than that—we need to promote positive development in these girls from the start so that this problem is markedly reduced in the first place. Otherwise, we are simply averting our eyes…aren’t we? I mean, how bad does it have to get before we pay attention?

Here’s to Making Our Girls Feel and Become Powerful–

No Time? 5 Tips to Spend Time with Children When You Have No Time to Spare

Strapped for Time? 5 Tips to Spend Time with Children when Parents Have No Time

By Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

The Powerful Parent Blog

Between work and martial arts and gymnastics and shopping and piano and swim lessons and school and dance class and babies and laundry and chores…we often find we’re strapped for quality time when it comes to spending time with our kids.

When Susan, one of my newest coaching clients, came to me a few months ago, she was nearing her whit’s end. Cody, her 7 year old son, was talking back to the teacher at school and getting into arguments with friends. “It’s been getting worse over the last year or so since my daughter, Kayla, was born. I love both of my kids but the baby takes up so much of my time and I know that Cody needs me too. I don’t know what to do.”

It was Dr. Anthony P. Witham who once said “children spell love…T-I-M-E.” He was definitely onto something. Unfortunately, if you are like most parents, time is a precious commodity that often eludes us. Whether we have a new job, a new baby, or we just need to make the coffee or strip the beds, we always seem to be wishing for a little bobble from Father Time’s Treasure Chest. We need more. We want more. But we just don’t have it. Does that mean we don’t love them? Of course not.

Spending quality time with our children is extremely important for their development. Note that I said “quality” not quantity. We must find ways to slow down and slip in some memorable time that will let our children know that we love and care for them.

Many children will let you know in their own “subtle” ways if they feel that you are not giving them the attention that they need. Some will withdraw while others will “act out.” You might see it when a child gives “lip” to a teacher, fights with another classmate or resorts back to behaviors that once got your attention like increased crying, throwing tantrums or even bed-wetting. This is a way to capture your attention, albeit often negative, so that they can enjoy “focused” time with you. Essentially the thought process is, “if I can’t get her attention by doing something good, I’ll get her attention by doing something bad.” Nobody wants that!

So how can you find time when you don’t have any to spend? Here are some of the ideas that I am working on with Susan:

(1) MAC time: In Susan’s case, this stands for “Mom and Cody time” but you get the drift. MAC time is special alone time with your child doing something you both enjoy. With Susan and her family, this is the time when Dad takes the baby (another benefit for the baby-quality time with Dad) and Mom spends time with Cody. This could mean going to a movie, going to the local theater to see “Cinderella,” or just sitting at the park on a bench and talking. The frequency of MAC time is up to you. With one of my clients, a single mother of 3, we devised a plan so that each Saturday she spends quality time with one of her children and the last Saturday of the month they spent quality time as a family. Make it work for you.

(2) Integrate Together Time into Daily Schedule: Children love to help. Do you have a mailing to do? Have them put the stamps on the envelopes. Need to go shopping? Make grocery shopping “fun time” with you. Need to make dinner? Let them help you by contributing to the preparation process. While it might be messier and it may time more time in the beginning, you will see that the children will become your greatest helpers and they will look back and remember that “before dinner” was always special time with you.

(3) Family Meetings: Once per month I have any “Powerful Families” working with me, run a family meeting in which they discuss how they can integrate better character into their home. For example, for “respect month” exercises like “brainstorm what your ideal family would look like if everyone was using respect” and questions like “what are some specific ways that we can show respect at home” are included. This process allows for children to contribute to the family atmosphere, show the children that their opinions are valued, and allow for the family to spend quality time together doing something meaningful. You can also take some of the discussions that are ensuing at your Powerful Words Member School and use them as a springboard to talk about important, meaningful things in a short amount of time.

(4) Phantom Time: Don’t have a moment to spare until about 3am? You can still let your children know that you care. Write notes and drop them into their lunch boxes. You can also make a recording that they can play in the morning if you can’t be there. Recording devises are inexpensive and easy to operate. While it isn’t ideal to rely solely on “phantom time,” it provides something so your children know you are thinking of them.

(5) Break time: Everyone is busy. Some are busier than others. Slide in a “break time” so that you and your children can spend 15 minutes or a half hour together. Set a timer if you need to so that everyone knows when “break time” starts and finishes. Give warnings to your children when 2 minutes are left so that it doesn’t come as a surprise. Don’t even have break time available? Wake your child up 15 minutes early so that you can spend a little extra time doing something fun in the morning. You might not think that 15 minutes is any significant time at all, but to a child, it is 15 extra minutes with you.

Spending time with your children provides them with opportunities to learn and to be heard. Most of all, it provides you and your children with time to connect. It’s these connections that make time precious. So leave the beds unstripped for another few minutes and put the coffee on an automatic timer. Take those extra moments to spend with your children. When you look back, you will be thankful for the memories.

Here’s to a Powerful Week!

Photo credit: Jupiter Images

*Article originally written for Bay State Parent Magazine, award winning magazine Parent Magazine in Massachusetts

Tots Popping Pills to Lower Cholesterol: Necessary or Poor Reflection on the Health of our Children?

Friday Reflection: Cholesterol- Lowering Drugs for Children

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman for Dr. Robyn’s Powerful Parenting Blog

Today, I am frightened. Have we hit a new low? The diet, physical activity, school lunch options and overall health maintenance plan for school-age children has been so compromised in recent years that the American Academy of Pediatrics is now recommending “statins,” drugs to lower high cholesterol levels, as part of the health plan for “at-risk” children as young as 8 years old.

“Obviously all of us want kids to really take care of their health,” said Dr. Marcie Schneider, a member of the nutrition committee who is an adolescent medicine specialist in Greenwich, Conn. “We want them exercising, we want them eating well. You try the least invasive things always first, but at some point if that’s not helping enough, you need to go to the next level.”

While some youngsters have genetic predispositions towards higher cholesterol, statins will also be geared towards children as young as 8 years old with LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) at 190 milligrams per deciliter or higher, of those with an LDL of 160 and a family history of heart disease or 2 other risk factors such as being diagnosed medically with diabetes, high blood pressure or obesity.

“When you have a kid whose cholesterol looks like an overweight 65-year-old, what do you do?” said Dr. David Ludwig, director of the childhood obesity program at Children’s Hospital in Boston. “The committee had to balance the risks of treating children with powerful drugs, about which there is limited long-term data, with the risks of not treating children with unprecedented cardiovascular disease risk factors.”

The Issue: Concern that children are at risk for heart disease and heart attacks due to high cholesterol.

The New Guidelines: Issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics, citing that children as young as 8 should be put on cholesterol-lowering drugs if they meet the criteria for being “at-risk.”

The Problems: Several problems with these new recommendations have been cited.

Here are a few:

  1. There are no long term studies on how these drugs will affect the children in the long run—especially if they plan to take it for the rest of their life.
  2. The side effects are unknown for children. Adult side effects have been noted; such as cognitive problems and muscle pain.
  3. There is fear that the drug companies are now going to be advertising these drugs for children. “It will open the door for pharmaceutical companies to heavily advertise and promote their use in 8-year-olds, when we don’t know yet the long-term effect on using these drugs on prepubertal kids,” said Dr. Alan Greene, a pediatrician in Danville, Calif., and the founder of the popular Web site DrGreene.com.
  4. As reported in the New York Times, “We’re talking about potentially treating thousands and thousands of children simply to possibly prevent one heart attack,” says Dr. Sanghavi, from the University of Massachusetts. “That kind of risk benefit calculation is entirely absent from the A.A.P.’s policy.” Dr. Sanghavi, went on to say that statin drugs may affect a child’s endocrine system, which regulates growth and development, among other things. “I, for one, feel unsafe simply saying children are little adults in this case,” he said.
  5. There is no evidence that these drugs will prevent heart attacks later in life.
  6. It’s so easy to pop pills; A “push-button” solution may encourage children to continue eating a poor diet, refrain from getting enough exercise, and embracing an overall positive health maintenance plan. This can lead to many more dangerous health problems and a perceived “lower priority need” for good health education and lunch programs in school.
  7. The drugs are expensive and require consistent blood tests to rule out any complications.
  8. Proposing these kinds of drugs for young children may unleash widespread use of drugs for children.
  9. There is concern that there are financial ties between the doctors who prescribe and the drug companies who supply.
  10. People are concerned that children are not “little adults” and should not be treated as such.

***I’d love to hear the opinions of all you Powerful Parents and educators out there on the new guidelines and if you feel that it’s a good move, a cop-out, a poor reflection on the state of children’s health today, or the best solution for our times. What do you think? Please comment below.

Have a powerful weekend!

top image: Jupiter

Children’s Physical Activity Level Drops Dramatically in Teen Years, Study Shows

Children’s Activity Level Drops Sharply in Teen Years, Study Shows

Dr. Robyn J.A. Silverman

All you Powerful Parents out there whose older children and teens have the benefit of a great physical curriculum at their Powerful Words Member School, you just might be beating the odds. A long term study, out this week, has shown a sharp decline in children’s activity level between the ages of 9 and 15 years old. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), children at age 9 years old averaged about 3 hours of vigorous physical activity (MVPA) while teens, by the time they reached 15 years old, only averaged about 40 minutes of MVPA per weekday and 35 minutes per weekend!

“Lack of physical activity in childhood raises the risk for obesity and its attendant health problems later in life,” said Duane Alexander, M.D., Director of NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). “Helping American children maintain appropriate activity levels is a major public health goal requiring immediate action.”

Lack of physical activity coupled with poor diet (lots of sugar in food and in drinks, etc.) is a dangerous recipe for poor health!

The Study:

  • Who was studied? More than 1,000 children from ethnically and economically diverse backgrounds. The researchers started to collect information on the activity levels of 9 year olds for four to seven days several years ago. Then they conducted follow up studies on the children when at age 11, 12, and 15 years of age.
  • How? The children’s activity was recorded with an accelerometer, a device that records movement, which the children wore on a belt.
  • When/where will it be published? Today, in the Journal of the American Medical Association
  • Authors: Philip Nader, M.D., Emeritus Professor of Pediatrics at the University of California San Diego, along with colleagues.
  • Why is so important? It’s recommended in the 2005 Dietary Guidelines that children and teens engage in at least 60 minutes of MVPA on most or all days.
  • What might be going on? While the study didn’t measure the reasons for the sharp decline, the researchers suggested that schools do, indeed, tend to limit physical activity as children grow into their teens. Recess is not typically part of the school day at that time and many schools do not require physical education either. Further, as sports become more elite and exclusive in school as the children become teens, the average athletes drop out and only the best athletes continue.
  • Interesting Facts:
    • Ages 9-11 years old: More than 90% of the children evaluated met the recommended level of 60 minutes of more of MVPA per day.
    • Age 15: Only 31% met the recommended level of MVPA per weekday and only 17% met the recommended activity level on weekends.
    • Plummeting levels: The researchers suggested that MVPA declined by about 40 minutes per day each year until the age of 15 years when the majority of kids failed to meet the daily recommended level of activity.
    • Gender issues: Researchers found that on average, boys remained more active than girls. Boys tended to spend 18 more minutes per weekday in MVPA than did girls and 13 more minutes per weekend day. Girls dropped below the recommended level of MVPA (at least 60 minutes per weekday) by age 13.1 years in comparison for boys, who did not drop below that level until age 14.7 years. For weekend days, girls dropped below the recommended level of activity at age 12.6 years while boys dropped below the recommended activity level for weekends at 13.4 years.

“When you are younger, it’s much easier to go out and do things spontaneously,” said James A. Griffin, deputy chief of the Child Development and Behavior Branch at the national institutes’ Center for Research for Mothers and Children. “But when you get older, kids tend to play a video game or watch television with their friends. Parents need to be aware to help them balance that out a little better.”

It’s vital that we keep our children and teens active. As schools are not providing or requiring consistent and reliable physical activity, as powerful parents, we must ensure that our children are indeed getting the recommended physical activity they need each day. Children in martial arts, gymnastics, swimming, cheer, dance and other sports can work on their muscle strength, flexibility, and bone density as well as gain self confidence and strength of character through their Powerful Words Member Schools and Activity Centers.

Congratulations, Powerful Parents, for keeping your children committed to their health and beating the averages! Your child’s determination to stay healthy and fit during his or her teen years is more important than ever!