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Steering Your Teen Toward Safe Driving

The post Steering Your Teen Toward Safe Driving is from Teachable Moments from the experts at Boys Town.

Most parents see it as a blessing when their teen can finally start driving. They love the thought of not having to play chauffeur anymore, and welcome the convenience of having someone who can drive to the store for a few groceries or give a younger sibling a ride to school.

What parents must realize, however, is that the biggest threat to the safety of a teen with a driver's license is sitting right in their own driveway.

Consider these sobering statistics:

In 2013, just under a million teenage drivers were involved in police-reported crashes, resulting in 373,645 injuries and 2,927 deaths (AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety). Every day, an average of six teenagers die from motor vehicle injuries (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Among youth ages 16 and 17, the number of deaths from motor vehicle accidents exceed those from suicide, cancer, and other types of accidents (HumanFIRST Laboratory at the University of Minnesota).

Does this mean you should ban your teen from driving until he or she is an adult and out of this adolescent “danger zone”? No. That would be neither practical nor reasonable. But you should give a lot of thought to your decision to allow your child to drive and then set some basic expectations before handing over the car keys:

Driver's education is a must. Depending on where you live, driver's education classes may be offered through your teen's school or by private driving schools. (Your car insurance company also may require them for your teen as a condition of coverage.) Such training is invaluable in preparing your teen to be an alert, conscientious driver. No phones, few friends, and no fooling around.  Distractions while driving are a major cause of accidents involving young drivers. For example, a teen driver with three teen passengers is four times more likely to have a serious crash than a teen driving alone. Have your teen make and enforce a pledge with their friends never to text and drive. Also, let your teen know it's okay to say something and get out of someone's car if he or she doesn't feel safe. Model positive driving behaviors. Studies show that when parents buckle up and stay off their cell phone while driving, their kids are more likely to do the same. Consider getting your teen a safe, used vehicle. We suggest a huge, old, slow “tank” with lots of dents.  The last thing a novice driver needs is a souped-up hot rod that makes the temptation to speed and show off irresistible. Consider installing a GPS monitor in the car your teen drives.  This gives you a way to check on his or her whereabouts any time. Make sure your teen knows driving is a privilege, not a right. Just like any other privilege, you can grant or take away access to the car depending on how well or how poorly your teen follows the rules you set. Create a special blessing for your teen's car, and when he or she is leaving to drive somewhere,  ask for God's protection and remind your teen to uphold the values you share as a family.

As kids get older, it's normal for parents to give them more freedom and “loosen the reins” of adult authority a bit. But when it comes to teen driving, parents should constantly preach safety first and focus on making sure their child understands the immense responsibility that goes with getting behind the wheel.

For more tips and a parent's perspective on teen driving, visit this Boys Town blog at: My View from the Passenger Seat – Teaching My Teen to Drive.

The post Steering Your Teen Toward Safe Driving is from Teachable Moments from the experts at Boys Town.

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Summer Movie Review: Inside Out

The post Summer Movie Review: Inside Out is from Teachable Moments from the experts at Boys Town.

Teachable moments can come from a wide variety of sources, including other parents. From time to time parents write blogs for us that we think you will find interesting, useful, or entertaining. Please enjoy this post from a fellow parent. 

I couldn’t wait for the release of the new Pixar movie Inside Out, I love a good kid movie. In fact, most of my family finds joy in the simple pleasure of most cartoon flicks. So, last weekend my husband, myself, my two kids (5- and 7-year-olds), my 13-year-old nephew and even my parents hit the movie theater. Before the movie even started, we got to enjoy the Pixar short film entitled Lava, a love story between two volcanoes. Sounds bizarre, right? But, between the catchy song and the adorable graphics, we were all smiling through the entire clip and it was a great way to set the tone.

The actual move, just like the other Disney Pixar movie, did not disappoint. The characters were memorable, the design and graphics were amazing and I loved the overall story. The storyline did a great job of reminding parents what kids are thinking and what they are “feeling.” And they did it in such an adorable way. Everyone had his or her favorite movie moments. I remember my 5-year-old son laughing out loud when the feeling Anger got so mad that fire spurred erupted out the top of his head. My 7-year-old daughter was really drawn to the feeling Joy; she loved her swirly dress; she also loved the ending. I loved what the movie referred to as core memories, those key memories in your life that make you who you are. The memories you never forget. I also enjoyed the subtle adult humor that was incorporated. I found myself laughing out loud a few times too … and, yes, just like most Pixar movies, I found myself crying at the end; I wasn’t the only one.

As a parent, I could definitely relate to those times when you are dealing with something pretty big (in this case moving across the country) and you forget the effect it might have on your kids. We sometimes have unrealistic expectations on how we think kids should just handle it — move on or even get over it. But this movie reminds us that kids don’t work that way; little things are actually big things to them. We need to listen to them, hear their fears, concerns, joys and troubles and help them through them. Make them feel good about themselves. Remind them daily, hourly, every minute that they are loved!

So, if you haven’t already gone, I highly recommend this movie. It is great for all ages; even my teenage nephew enjoyed it.

The post Summer Movie Review: Inside Out is from Teachable Moments from the experts at Boys Town.

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The Day Father Flanagan Died

The U.S. Government Had Called on the Founder of Boys Town to Help Children in Post-War Asia and Europe   It was a story made famous by Spencer Tracy and Mickey Rooney. During the winter of 1917, Father Edward J. Flanagan borrowed $90 from a friend and turned an Omaha boardinghouse into a residence for homeless and neglected boys. The young Irish immigrant priest stuck to his then radical idea that all boys were welcome regardless of race or religion. By the late 1940s, after three decades of successfully working to change the lives of children society had labeled as hopeless (and 10 years after “Boys Town” won Tracy an Oscar), Father Flanagan had become the undisputed authority on youth issues, not just in America, but worldwide. As the nations of Europe and Asia began to rebuild following the devastation of World War II, they were faced with large numbers […]

The post The Day Father Flanagan Died appeared first on Teachable Moments.

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My View from the Passenger Seat – Teaching My Teen to Drive

Teachable moments can come from a wide variety of sources, including other parents. From time to time parents write blogs for us that we think you will find interesting, useful, or entertaining. Please enjoy this post from a fellow parent. Ask any adult about their most vivid memories of being fifteen years old, and there’s a good chance you’ll hear about their first day of high school; their first love (and inevitable first heartbreak)… and the first time they sat in the driver’s seat of their parents’ car, gripped the steering wheel and stepped on the gas. I still vividly remember that early Spring day in 1982 when my father drove me out to an empty parking lot, tossed me the keys, moved to the passenger seat (the only times I remember him ever being in the passenger seat of his own car) and said “OK, let’s see what you […]

The post My View from the Passenger Seat – Teaching My Teen to Drive appeared first on Teachable Moments.

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Praising Teenagers

I’m very much an advocate of praising kids, including teenagers, in a positive-negative ratio of at least four positives to every one negative. For some, this may sound a bit lofty but it is very realistic if adults truly pay attention to behavior and learn to praise specifically and genuinely. Praise is a sincere, positive evaluation of a person or an act. A lot of praise is “global” and terms are used such as “great job,” “you are smart,” or “pretty,” etc. These are very general, nonspecific words that often mean little to kids/teens. One of the keys is to offer very specific praise for very specific behavior. Learn to observe a behavior and describe the behavior back to the teen when possible. My general rule of thumb is when offering praise to a teenager; use one or two specific behavioral sentences. In contrast, when describing inappropriate behavior to a […]

The post Praising Teenagers appeared first on Teachable Moments.

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Residential Care – The Heart of Boys Town

The post Residential Care – The Heart of Boys Town is from Teachable Moments from the experts at Boys Town.

When Father Flanagan founded Boys Town in 1917, it was as a home for boys who had fallen through society’s cracks. Regardless of background, ethnicity or religion, Father Flanagan brought these young men together under one roof because he firmly believed, “There are no bad boys. There is only bad environment, bad training, bad example, bad thinking.”

Today, nearly 100 years later, Boys Town still serves as a home for boys and girls – who are at-risk and in need of family-based care, education and nurturing. And Father Flanagan’s original vision has proved to be incredibly effective, with thousands of former Boys Town residents now leading successful, productive lives throughout the United States and beyond.

This is Boys Town’s Family Home program. And it is based on the simple notion of having a married couple of Family-Teachers as the heads of each Boys Town residence. In each home, up to eight boys or girls between the ages of 11 and 18 live and learn together under the close watch and guidance of their Family-Teachers.

Click here to learn more about life in a Boys Town Family Home.

Living with a houseful of teenagers can be hectic, as you might imagine. But as challenging as it can be, it fosters a unique atmosphere of familial camaraderie that lasts long past graduation. These kids end up feeling like brothers and sisters. And their Family-Teachers almost become a second family to them. The Family-Teachers give them a sense of stability and love that they have likely never known. It is this bond that is fundamental to the program.

And while Boys Town has grown over the years to provide in-home counseling and other services to at-risk families all across America, along with educational consulting to schools and even a nationally renowned research hospital, it is the Family Home program that is the heart and soul of Father Flanagan’s original dream.

The post Residential Care – The Heart of Boys Town is from Teachable Moments from the experts at Boys Town.

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The Father’s Day Gift

The post The Father’s Day Gift is from Teachable Moments from the experts at Boys Town.

Teachable moments can come from a wide variety of sources, including other parents. From time to time parents write blogs for us that we think you will find interesting, useful, or entertaining. Please enjoy this post from a fellow parent.

Ties. Socks. Electric razors. Grill tools. T-shirts with funny sayings. Ball caps with funny sayings. ‘Day Off’ coupons. Cologne.

All are good Father’s Day gifts.

But, in the long run, the items above have come and gone. The Father’s Day gifts that I still have are instead one-of-a-kind masterpieces. Made by little hands, they aren’t always suitable for framing, but they are always memorable. And they are always heartfelt.

And that’s why I’ve kept them. I can’t bear to throw them away.

Here’s a selection of some of my favorites.

This one is perfection in its simplicity. No extra words to clutter up the sentiment. No extra colors to distract. Plus, there is something about the backwards ‘r,’ the misshapen ‘y,’ and the indecipherable mix of capital and lower case letters that makes it one of the prize members of my Father’s Day collection.

In contrast, this piece is positively bursting with style and design finesse. My son was, when he made this, going through a Pokemon phase and was adept at tracing. Overall a solid design, and I would award him extra points for the shadows on the text…not an easy thing to do. I do wish he could have added some color, at least to the flames coming out of Charizard’s mouth.

Could a Father’s Day card get any better than this one? Not in my book. It’s colorful. It’s cut in the shape of a heart. It’s perfect. I suspect my daughter had a little help with the first five words, but the signature is priceless. This one stays on the top of my pile of Best Father’s Day Gifts Ever!

The post The Father’s Day Gift is from Teachable Moments from the experts at Boys Town.

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Nepal Quake, Texas Tornadoes and Kids’ Fears

With the media’s 24-hour news cycle and insatiable appetite for sensational stories, wall-to-wall coverage of natural disasters is always going to dominate the airways, online news services, newspapers and magazines. This week, several such events have been front-and-center, including the devastating earthquake in Nepal and the massive storms with tornadoes and baseball-sized hail closer to home in Texas. The imagery and language used to present both of these stories are frightening enough for adults; for little ones, they can be absolutely terrifying. When your children see these stories, they may understandably become upset, worried and anxious. As a parent, you’re going to face questions from your kids like, “Could an earthquake knock down our house?; “What happens if I get sucked up by a tornado?”; and “Are we safe?” Rather than let your kids’ fertile imaginations run wild, it’s best to address these issues directly and immediately. I highly recommend […]

The post Nepal Quake, Texas Tornadoes and Kids’ Fears appeared first on Teachable Moments.

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4 Easy Ways to Make ‘Family Dinner Time’ a Reality

This post first appeared on Momaha.com. Photo courtesy of Momaha.com. Families aren’t having family dinner as much as they were maybe 20 years ago. It was an automatic in my house that you were going to sit down to a family meal almost every night — definitely on the weekend, and probably at your grandmother’s house. But today, life is faster and parents need some innovative ways to bring everyone to the dining room table. Step 1: Plan ahead. Get the kids involved in choosing the meal and buying groceries. When children are a part of the decision making process, they are more likely to want to eat the meal and to participate in it. Step 2: Think about more than just food. Once the food is on the table, find little things you can add to the experience to keep kids interested. Discuss a recent movie you all saw together […]

The post 4 Easy Ways to Make ‘Family Dinner Time’ a Reality appeared first on Teachable Moments.

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