Posts Tagged ‘Teens and Technology’

Non-Tech Holiday Gift Suggestions from Screenagers

Thanks to Delaney Ruston, MD, Screenagers‘ Filmmaker, for this list of non-tech holiday gifts…I love following Delaney’s blog posts, and think that her continuing the dialogue about the effects of screens on teens (and us) is an important one.  Enjoy!  – AKS

It’s that time of year again, food, friends, family, gifts (and hopefully not too much stress). Tech takes up so much of our attention all year long; I find the holidays are a great time to slow down and enjoy some non-tech family fun. I’ve put together a list of some engaging, non-tech toys for your Screenagers.

Be it the latest from young adult literature favorite John Greene or silly explorations like The Big Bento Box of Useless Japanese Inventions, books should be on everyone’s list. My 16 year old just finished The Hate You Give, and she told all her friends the next day about how amazing and powerful it was (it did make her cry three times). Now she has a list of friends wanting to borrow the book from her.

I also think a pop-up book makes a fantastic gift—the engineering that goes into making each unique page blows my mind. One that is near and dear to my heart is the French story, The Little Prince. My dad would read it to me—and now it is available as an incredible pop-up book.

Stargazing will take on a whole new meaning if the stars you are looking at have a personal connection. At Star Registry, you can give the constellations personalized names. You will receive a certificate the name of your star, the location, and coordinates. Perfect for your budding astronomer.

An alternative to spacing out on screens is spacing out with pen and paper. Coloring books were big last year and continue to be today. Spirograph, also big when I was a kid, is back on toy store shelves. Creating the circular shapes is very meditative.

Kimochis, which means “feelings” in Japanese, are a collection of stuffed animals designed to help kids understand their varying feelings. Similar to the Mr. Men and Little Miss books of my childhood, Kimochis have several characters (moody Cloud, confident Cat and sensitive Bella Rose) that kids will identify with. Don’t rule out older kids for this gift. While it may be perfect for younger kids, I know quite a few middle and high schoolers who love the cuddly characters.

Root-Vue Farm is something you and your kids can continue to enjoy long past the holidays. The see-through acrylic garden shows the life cycle of several vegetables from seed to root to plant.

You are never too old for jigsaw puzzles. They are an excellent family activity, especially if you are putting together something that can be framed. The “I AM” collection from Madd Capp Puzzle is fantastic. The photo-realistic animal heads are challenging to put together but wonderful to look at when completed.

Know a kid or teen who gets stomach aches, cramps? I love these hot water bottles. (This is a set of 2, but you can buy just one).  I just used the grey one last night going to bed—and it was so comforting. I also love that these can help with saving energy—I have the heat low in the house, and then I put the hot water bottle put in my bed, and when I finally hit the mattress it’s nice and warm.

When my son was 11 I got him a cookbook called Get Cooking, authored by a teen from England named Sam Stern. Even though we keep moving every two years I have made sure to keep this book. I highly recommend getting a cookbook for any males in your life—I bet they will be motivated to try something in it! Sam Stern wrote his first cookbook when he was 14.


PEP Offers Free Webinar for Parenting Teens in Time of Distress

A Less-Is-More Approach to Parenting Tweens or Teens

Editor’s NoteFree parenting webinar on Tuesday December 19th, and with the holiday rush, if you can’t attend, you can register now, and view the webinar at your convenience anytime in the next year

To help the many families whose teens are dealing with intense stress, including processing the recent teen deaths in the Maryland area, PEP is hosting a free webinar featuring teen expert Michael J. Bradley on the topic: “Parenting Your Teen in Times of Distress.”

More information about the webinar is below.

Dr. Bradley—author of Yes, Your Teen is Crazy and Crazy-Stressed: Helping Today’s Overwhelmed Teens with Love, Laughter, and the Science of Resilience will provide guidance to parents so they can help their teens during difficult and painful events. With the holidays upon us, this webinar gives parents specialized advice at a time when many families will be spending more time together.


Parenting Your Teen in Times of Distress with Teen Expert & Author Dr. Michael Bradley

8pm-9pm ET, Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Dr. Michael Bradley, author of Yes, Your Teen is Crazy and Crazy-Stressed: Saving Today’s Overwhelmed Teens with Love, Laughter, and the Science of Resilience will talk about:

·Recognizing a teen’s signs of distress and when to seek professional help

·Talking to kids about traumatic events in the community and getting kids to talk

·Dr. Bradley’s “three baskets”

·What you can do right now

Can’t attend live? We’ll record it, and you can watch at your convenience for up to 12 months.

This webinar is FREE but registration is required. To register, click here.  

Questions?  Call 301-929-8824 or email Trish Pannuto at

MomTastic Find: Label Daddy





This month’s MomTastic find is a school supply you might not have thought of.  I’ve been a huge fan of Label Daddy‘s stick-on labels for a while now.  With 3 boys, sorting laundry when everyone is home is challenging (and generous!).  I’m not a huge shopper, but when I do, the Smith boys know they have to label everything before it leaves the kitchen table.

I think of labeling as an insurance policy.  It gets everyone’s “stuff” to their room at some point.  At college, I’d like to hope some of the clothes make it back to their dorm rooms if they get lost or left behind somewhere.  And it saves me from using a Sharpie that doesn’t always stay where it should when I’m multi-tasking.  They have a bunch of products, but my favorite is the extra small mini-label. They’re described as waterproof, and do stay on for a while even through wash cycles.  They seem to work best for me when I stick them directly to the clothing label.  I’ve also used their shoe labels and even the larger labels for trash cans which tend to travel down the street on windy days.

Thanks to Label Daddy for giving MomTini readers a 20% discount – you can use the code momtini at checkout, and enjoy organizing your kids’ stuff!

Post disclosure:  Samples and a blogger fee were provided as compensation for this post, but the opinions, as always, are guaranteed to be my own.

A Mindful Start to the School Year

Many thanks to A.S. Braverman, an Academic Liaison at Thinking Caps Group, for this mindful article.  She shares some great tips about kicking off the school year with some perspective and planning.

Fall brings lots of things we love—pumpkin pie, the crunch of dry leaves, the comfort of a favorite sweater. As they activate our senses, as we enjoy them, these things pull us into the moment. But Autumn also means back-to-school, which can be a big source of stress for even the most laid-back family. Here are a few tips to help you and your family stay present in the hubbub of September.

Mindful Organizing – Use the ritual of cleaning your child’s study space as a way to minimize distraction while also setting some good intentions for the school year. To keep your child attuned to the smaller parts of his or her day, consider making a color coded filing system for different assignment and classes. A weekly planner (hard copy or electronic) can help your child focus on one day at a time. Another option is to plot out weekly or monthly tasks and activities on a family calendar in a prominent location, such as the living room or kitchen. Writing things down will free up everybody’s mind to focus on the moment at hand.

Gratitude Jar – Keep a Gratitude Jar, fun colored pen, and colorful notecards on the kitchen counter. Make it a weekly habit to write down one thing that you’re grateful for, and encourage your kids to do the same. Then, once a week when the family is together, maybe at dinner or breakfast, open the jar and read the notes out loud. Often, remembering what we’re grateful for can help put a challenging day (or grade) in perspective.

Language List – Like the Gratitude Jar, a Language List is a good way to pay attention to the everyday moments that are easy to overlook. Have your child pick out a notebook at a bookstore and dedicate it to words. Include funny words and phrases, figures of speech, or even unfamiliar words your kid can look up later. This is good handwriting practice, and will help your child spend some time away from a screen.

Take a Break – No matter how busy the semester may get, make sure you build breaks into your child’s daily schedule—and yours. Take a walk around the block together and see how many different kinds of flowers you can name. Step away from that hard math problem or vocab list and try a headstand or some jumping jacks—anything to shift your kid’s perspective, because we all need moments to reset our minds.

Editor’s Note:  Love these ideas, and of course, I’m a huge fan of being organized.  I tend to hide my “pile” so it isn’t staring me in the face as a reminder of what I haven’t yet done.  A clean desk is something I enjoy.  I guess it’s “fake it ’til you make it,” because we all have endless to-do lists, but we are in control of our workspaces.  Hope our MomTini friends and families have a great back-to-school experience. – Amy

Author Bio: A.S. Braverman is an Academic Liaison at Thinking Caps Group and a recent graduate of Columbia University. Thinking Caps has published many books, including SAT Demystified (McGraw-Hill, 2012) and ACT Demystified (McGraw-Hill, 2013). The company has been featured in The New York Times, Parenting, and The Huffington Post.





Tips for Avoiding the Summer Slump






Thanks to Rose Howell, Academic Director from Thinking Caps Group, for these tips on keeping kids’ minds sharp during the summer months while balancing the tech overload/electronic babysitter urge.

This summer, your child’s attention will turn to playdates, camp and the screens of his or her iPad, iPhone and TV. The mental stimulation provided at school inevitably takes a dive, leaving many parents wondering how to react. We now know that excessive electronic usage causes memory loss and waning communication skills (eye contact, interaction), as well as weaker observational skills, language articulation and vocabulary. Too much screen time indoors also underlies health issues such as inadequate exercise, headaches, eye fatigue and tendonitis. Here are some realistic ways for you to combat “summer brain drain,” expand your child’s education and keep his or her body and mind active.

  • Harness your child’s natural curiosity. Your child is still absorbing his or her surroundings like a sponge—take advantage of this gravitational pull.
  • Find a special notebook for your child, and suggest that he or she writes down any questions, hopes or musings about a topic of interest. Then, carve out a day or two each week to go exploring within that theme. If your child often has questions about the world that you can’t answer, encourage him or her to write them down for future investigation.
  • Stay strong when it comes to screen time. Your children will thank you later if you’re able to nurture their relationship to reality over mind-numbing hours in front of a screen. Treat gadgets like you treat dessert—they are not a given. Set limits for screen time by being honest with your child about the effects that this time is having on him or her. If your child refuses to give up the gadget, that time will come out of his or her allotted time for the next day.
  • Encourage your child to engage in imaginative play, exploration in nature and activities outdoors. Do not be fazed if your child claims he or she is bored—a healthy dose of boredom triggers new ideas.
  • Fight the academic slide. Reading is one of the best ways to keep your child’s brain sharp. Go with your kids to a library or bookstore, and let them pick the books they want. If they don’t like to read, read out loud and leave off at a moment of suspense. Before you know it, they’ll begin picking up the book themselves. Also, try graphic novels—they still require the child to read, but provide accompanying visual stimulation. Books on tape are another good trick; any travel time can be an opportunity for learning.

Author Bio:  Rose Howell works as an Academic Director at Thinking Caps, a unique tutoring company that takes a one-on-one, individualized approach to academic support for students of all ages and learning styles.


MomTastic Recipe – Stained Glass Windows





I love recipes that are quick, easy, and generate conversation.  This one is a home run everytime, is impossible to mess up, and best of all, can be made weeks in advance and sliced quickly when you’re ready to use.  I got this recipe from my husband’s cousin, Natala, who is an amazing caterer in Dallas, and wanted to share here at The Lounge.  After you make them, you’ll understand their name.  I’ve added some of my own notes, and feel free to improvise.  Again, tough to mess up 🙂

Cousin Natala’s Stained Glass Windows


1 package colored miniature marshmallows (Amy note – white fine too, but multi-colored looks really cool)

1 package (large 12 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate chips (2 cups)

1 stick butter

1 teaspoon peppermint flavoring (Amy note –  can add any flavoring you like – I typically don’t)

1 pinch salt

1 cup pecans if desired (Amy note – I’ve never added nuts)

Colored sprinkles (Amy’s modification)


Melt chocolate chips and butter. (Amy note – go a minute at a time, and stirI).  Let cool a little before adding marshmallows and other ingredients. Take a piece of wax paper and sprinkle powdered sugar on it.  Spoon some chocolate and marshmallow mixture to form a log shape. Amy note – I sprinkle now with colored sprinkles/jimmies – you could also do coconut or nuts or anything you want on the outside. Pull wax paper over log tightly and roll. Twist ends. Put in freezer until hard. Thaw slightly to slice. Slice and serve. The slices thaw quickly. Can make way ahead and stay frozen for weeks.

Amy’s final note…warm a slice for a few seconds in microwave, not too much to burn your tongue, but enough to make it soft & yummy.  Trust me, you won’t stop at one!



In Memory of My Mom, Marlene Kossoff






It’s been a while since I’ve posted…the longest break since I started this venture…three months.  I lost my mom at the end of April, and it has made me reflect so much on the magnitude of a mother-daughter relationship.  I debated whether this was too personal to post at The Lounge, but I can’t imagine not giving my mom a tribute here.  As a journalist, my goal is to make sure every story here follows our editorial guidelines and focuses on the business of motherhood, and I think this story fits on many levels.

My mom was incredibly organized.  What I love to do on spreadsheets and apps, she did on notecards, meticulous files, and paper systems that could rival that of any computer.  She ran my dad’s optical practice for 30+ years on paper and adding machines.  No computer, no iPhone, just paper and an incredibly organized and methodical approach at work, with a rotating chore wheel (dog, dishes, dinner) at home.  She was a major inspiration to me on many levels, and certainly in my approach to motherhood.  We all learn from our moms, things we want to take into our own generation, things we don’t.  But as a close friend pointed out to me recently about why this loss is so painful, moms are our oldest historian.  They hold our history in their belly for 9 months, in their arms for dozens of years, and in their hearts forever.  Who else has that kind of tenure with us?  No one.  (Dads certainly have an incredibly powerful and long-tenured role as well, and I would never discount that, but with the development of our every organ happening inside Mom, she’s got an edge).

While I was helping my dad find something, I came across a worn manilla folder with a typewriter-typed label, “The Business of Motherhood.”  That was the first name and inspiration behind this blog, and my tagline to this day.  My mom wasn’t storing all of her mothering organization in that folder…she was keeping track of my adventure.  Early newspaper articles, my email announcement printed out when I told family and friends I was doing this, some blog posts she liked, etc.  That’s good old-fashioned love.  That’s support and pride for your kids and what they care about.

So I hope they get to read blogs in heaven, because if they do, here’s another hug to a mom I miss every day, and who was my first teacher and mentor in the most important job I have, being a mom.

– Amy



Family-Friendly Chicken Burgers From My Kitchen Chaos

Loved connecting with FOF (friend of friend – thank you Liz 🙂 ) Adina Kalish, a mom blogger who created “My Kitchen Chaos,” a collection of “measure-free” recipes for busy parents.  Adina is smart, funny, resourceful, and has put together a great resource for moms (like me) who need easy, fast, ideally healthy recipes to feed the family.  Her blog focuses on “recipes for disaster or everyday life,” and Adina assures us moms that we can’t mess these up if we try.  Adina has a great sense of humor, and it is a special ingredient in all of her recipes.

Check out her first TV segment with her daughter on how to make Chicken Burgers:

The measure-free approach is smart – it’s the “little bit of this, little bit of that,” that Adina describes best…

The reason the recipes on My Kitchen Chaos don’t include exact measurements is simply because I have neither the time nor the patience to wash extra dishes. It’s a pain. It adds clutter. And clutter is chaos. So I’ve adopted my great-grandmother from the old country’s “grab it with your hands” method of cooking. Most every recipe on My Kitchen Chaos is foolproof, meaning you can’t mess it up. That’s also why you won’t see too many baked goods here. Baking is an exact science. I didn’t do well in science.

Adina’s Writer Bio (stolen straight from her site, because I couldn’t say this better if I tried):

I’m a writer by day and a writer by night. I write things for other people most of the time. Things like newspaper articles and press releases and proposals and speeches and ad copy and web copy and scripts. My articles can be found in places like The Huffington Post, Working Mother, and other magazines. I write things for myself the rest of the time. Things like books and screenplays and reality show pitches. Oh, and cooking blogs. I wrote a book called Making It in the City, a girl’s guide to starting life on your own in a ridiculously expensive city you can’t afford. It was published in 2005 when I was young and broke and living in New York City. It’s full of resources for the young and broke. Or not so young and broke. I have a motto. It’s Dream Big. Pay the Rent. I do whatever I can to achieve both.

Check out My Kitchen Chaos when you clear your own kitchen counters (or before).

MomTastic Baseball Discount – Washington Nationals









Thanks to our friends at the Washington Nationals for sharing this discount code (10-20% based on game).  Friends know I’m a huge baseball fan, and have loved watching my own boys play, along with some friends we made at the Bethesda Big Train.  Washington Nats games in the summer are such a fun family outing.  Hope you enjoy some MomTastic games with your own families this spring/summer!  Here’s how you take advantage of the offer:

1)      Go to:

2)      Select Game

3)      Enter MOMTINI in the coupon code box

4)      Click Apply

5)      Select Seats

 Disclosure:  No monetary compensation was made in exchange for this post, although a pair of tickets was extended as a thank you.  Go Nats!  #Natitude


How Technology in Bedrooms Affects Sleep






Thanks to Delaney Ruston, Screenagers‘ Filmmaker, for sharing this article on how technology in bedrooms is having a major impact on kids’ sleep.  Timely, given the upcoming National Day of Unplugging on March 4.

By Delaney Ruston

major study showed the negative effect cellphones have on the quantity and quality of children’s sleep. It’s a major sleep public health issue: 75% of teens do not get the recommended 8 to 9 hours of sleep. Why public health experts care is because things like accidents, obesity, mental health problems all go up with sleep deprivation – and grades go down.

Many parents don’t allow TVs in their children’s bedrooms but lack similar guidelines around cell phones and computers. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children and teens not have any screens in their bedrooms including phones, computers or TVs.

The issue is compounded by teens’ natural tendency toward staying up late.

I talked to my son, Chase and other teens about going to bed at night and they tell me about how it is often hard for them to fall asleep. I looked at the data and found that it is normal for teens to not get tired until around 11 p.m.  This article in The Conversation cites researcher Mary Carskadon and others at Brown University who found that:

” …the human brain has a marked shift in its sleep/wake pattern during adolescence. At the onset of puberty, nearly all humans (and most mammals) experience a delay of sleep timing in the brain. As a result, the adolescent body does not begin to feel sleepy until about 10:45 p.m.”

Despite this science, the push to have schools start at a later time has been slow to gain traction. People have been working on this issue for more than twenty years and recently I was disappointed to learn from my friend and sleep expert, Lauren Hale, (who is the author of the article at the start of this TTT) that very few places around the country have implemented later start times.

Back to screens…. There are many reasons phones in the bedroom can affect sleep. Notifications from updates, texts, Snapchats and the like disturb sleep. It is hard for kids that like to game to have the constant pull of their gaming device right next them all night. You can eliminate the battles that ensue in your families around kids being on their devices late into the night if you simply create a rule about what time devices come out of the bedroom. Or, better yet, how about making bedrooms device-free altogether?

The National Day of Unplugging (sundown March 3rd to sundown March 4th) is a great time to start with a new rule around no cellphones in the bedroom.

For more discussion ideas, you can peruse past Tech Talk Tuesdays. If you are interested in seeing Screenagers, you can find event listings on our site and find out how to host a screening.

Stay in touch with the Screenagers community on FacebookTwitter and at




Raise a Chore Happy Kid






It may sound impossible, but…imagine a house that thrived on teamwork…every day?!

Thanks to‘s CEO Gregg Murset, for this guest article on how parents can pick age-appropriate chores and design an assignment and award system that works.

The average school day is between 6 and 7 hours long and most children have homework to complete after school, plus sports and extra curricular activities. Busy schedules can make it difficult for parents to find time to incorporate chores into the day. But, research has found that helping out with household tasks like laundry, dishes and yard work can help children¹s mental and physical develop while teaching life skills, responsibility and team spirit. Many parents struggle with knowing what chores are age appropriate for their kids, how many tasks to assign and how to, if at all, reward a job well done.

Start ‘Em Young

When it comes to kids helping around the house, start them young. These days, kids as young as 3 are working laptops and tablets. As parents, as we supposed to believe they aren’t old enough to pick up their toys or carry their dirty dishes to the sink or dishwasher?  Sure, not all chores are designed for really young kids. However, you know what your child is capable of doing … you just need to have them try doing it.

Build a Routine

Everyone knows kids do better when they have a solid routine. You probably already have one when it comes to getting ready for school, after school or at bedtime. Add a few daily chores to your kids routine to help you around the house or start building a sense of work ethic in your kids.

Fit To Size

While the age of your child may not matter when it comes to doing chores, size certainly does. Leave the “big jobs” for the big kids, while your smaller tikes handle projects closer to the ground.

Reward Success

Parents have tried everything when it comes to rewards for chores – money, stickers, extra TV, later bedtime or video games. We believe that paying an allowance is the best way to reward a job well done because it helps prepare them for the real world as adults. Whether parents pay an equal amount each week or have chores worth different values, the fact is that your child is learning how to earn and how working hard pays off.

Don’t Reinvent The Wheel

There are plenty of chore-allowance systems parents can choose from, so there is no reason to reinvent the wheel. The important thing is to find something that matches your beliefs and will actually keep children engaged. A system that is never used or forgotten after a week or two, fails everyone. Take a look at’s online system that teaches kids work ethic and money management. Here, kids can save, share, spend and invest real money they earned through completing chores.

About BusyKid

Formerly known as My Job Chart, is the first mobile-website that helps parents teach children about work ethic, responsibility, accountability and managing real money.  Even though the website lets kids learn real life lessons surrounding earning and spending money, it also encourages strong character traits, good behavior and supporting charitable organizations.

For more information visit

Editor’s Note:  I love these ideas, and whether your family decides to use allowance, positive reinforcement, or other ways to get kids involved, it helps parents and kids in so many ways.  By teaching kids the value of teamwork and building self-sufficiency, it’s a win-win.  Also note – we have a host of articles related to this topic on both chores & allowance on our website.




Celebrate Calm Book: Stop Power Struggles from Morning to Midnight








Who can argue that calm isn’t ideal in a family?  We all get heated, adults and kids, and this heat rarely leads to good things.  I’ve published some of Kirk Martin’s tips from Celebrate Calm before, and thrilled to see he’s publishing a book that dives deeper into some of his concepts for diffusing situations at home.  Change Your Child Overnight By Changing Yourself First applies the tried and true principles Martin and his team have taught parents for years.  Change the approach, and the reception changes, too.  I asked Martin to share some best practices here at the Lounge, and he shared “10 Secret Phrases to Calm Any Situation.”

Martin believes in the power of words and our ability to choose the words we use.  He explains, “Your words can inflame a situation like a match in a dry haystack.  The flip side is that your words can calm almost any situation immediately.”  He advises practicing these not guaranteed but potentially calming phrases to stop power struggles:

  • I’m curious.
  • I get that you’re frustrated.  I’d feel frustrated too.  (Practice acknowledgement).
  • That doesn’t sound like you.
  • I know that you know what’s wrong.  And my assumption is that you don’t want to lose all your stuff.  (Assume the best).
  • You know what?  I think you’re right about that.
  • You’re not being defiant or bossy right now.  You’re just overwhelmed.  (Give your kids wisdom and insight).
  • Thank you for sharing that idea.  I have to go cook dinner, but if you want to catch me later, I’d be happy to share my thoughts with you.  (Give kids space and ownership).
  • I can imagine that it doesn’t feel good to talk like that.
  • I am feeling frustrated right now, so what I really need is some space to work on my own frustration.
  • I apologize.  I was wrong.  I think I misunderstood your intentions.

So, this is the short version for sure.  Martin has some great explanations and strategies for families that are very much in sync with his Celebrate Calm approach.  More on his new book, Change Your Child Overnight By Changing Yourself First, here.





PEP’s Annual Noted Author Event – Joys and Fears of Teen Years and More…

A Less-Is-More Approach to Parenting Tweens or Teens



This month’s MomTastic Find is…PEP’s Annual Noted Author Events.  DC/MD/VA friends – if you have tweens or teens, these are not to be missed.  I’ve seen Schafer talk at PEP before, and she is hilarious, insightful, and will leave you with ideas to take home from the minute she hits the stage.  Check out the “411” on her events, and please share with friends:

Alyson Schafer is a therapist, author (Honey, I Wrecked the Kids and Ain’t Misbehavin’) and internationally acclaimed parenting expert who empowers families by providing tools to parents for raising happy and healthy kids.

The Joys and Fears of the Teen Years – Thursday November 17 from 7:30pm-9pm

Parenting teens today requires a unique and empathetic parenting approach. Alyson speaks candidly about the joys and challenges that face teens, pre-teens and their parents during the transition to adulthood. Parents will learn brain-based research on teen behavior, interpersonal solutions to teen problems, a refreshing understanding of how great teens can be and a reality check on the real issues for which we need to be prepared.

Moving from Conflict to Cooperation – Friday November 18 from 9:30am-11am

Whether it is sibling bickering or parent-child power struggles, conflict is a part of family life. Navigating conflict constructively isn’t always intuitive. Fortunately, kids give us endless opportunities to both improve our skills and help them develop their own. Using a four-step approach, you’ll learn: to recognize the difference between conflict and rivalry; how our parenting can stimulate conflict or cooperation; and to manage conflict without feeling bad about it or avoiding it.

Tickets are $35. Register today at or 301-929-8824.


PEP’s Annual Noted Author Talk

To get an idea of Schafer’s approach and ideas, check out a post I wrote when she spoke to PEP before about her acclaimed book, Honey I Wrecked the Kids.  You’ll find information on her “4 Crucial C’s” and how to work more effectively with your kids.  She talks about misbehavior as a dance we do with our kids, and helps us figure out how to get OFF that dance floor.

Disclosure:  I am a volunteer on PEP’s Board of Directors, so I am committed to the success of PEP and to parenting education in general.  No compensation was made for this post or for my love for PEP’s programming.








Cracking the Teen Sexting Code

Hot topic for sure from the title alone.  Amy Williams, a social worker who specializes in teen behavioral health, developed some great tips and a colorful infographic to help parents navigate this area.  Having grown up stretching cords on phones to get privacy, this feels like grabbing wet spaghetti!  As Williams reports, the digital footprint issue isn’t going away, and the explosion of social media adds a whole new dimension to the risks and the parenting issues associated.  Here are her insights on how we can be more aware in this sensitive area.

Cracking the Teen Sexting Code by Amy Williams

Parenting children in the digital age can be difficult. Many families are encountering dramatic issues regarding sexting and their teens. Let’s face it, we came of age during skin mags and hidden VHS tapes. Our sexual exploration didn’t involve social media or the Internet, we struggled through this phase of development without creating a digital footprint.

Understanding Sexting

Experts have said that sexting is normal teenage behavior, it’s just the use of cell phones that have changed. Previous generations were able to keep our explorations private. However, today’s highly connected teens are exposing themselves to far more than a special intimate moment.

Many teens view sexting as a safe alternative to intercourse. Teens might feel that sexting is a smart choice in today’s sexually rich world, but their underdeveloped teenage brains might fail to adequately assess the risks associated with sexting. Whether they are just curious about sex or seeking an outlet for their new feelings, it is a risky behavior.

Decoding The Signs Your Child Is Sexting

Sexting is an easy act to disguise. Most teens rely on their cell phones to sext, because it is portable, has a camera, and easily connects them to other people. In the past, teens utilized text messaging, but today many teens are taking advantage of the ever changing social media platforms to sext.

While many teens are adapting their methods there is no safe way to sext, because everything posted online or digitally has the potential to be saved, forwarded, or retrieved. Teens are discovering new apps to cover their activity that create disguises like calculators to hide online activity.

Listed below are common warning signs your child is sexting:

  • dimming screens
  • hiding their phone
  • using code words – GNOC (get naked on camera) or PIR (parent in room)
  • a sudden spike in sexual curiosity

6 Ways Parents Can Help Curb The Temptation To Sext

The following tips are six ways we can help our children navigate the popular issue of sexting:

  • Have a sext talk and include the dangers.
  • Keep cell phones out of private areas like bedrooms.
  • Create a contract that outlines rules and expectations of technology.
  • Strive to keep an open line of communication between family members.

Author Bio:  Amy Williams is a social worker, specializing in teen behavioral health. As a parent of two teenagers, she is focused on spreading the word on positive parenting techniques and new technologies.

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MomTastic Find: Because They CAN, Closing the Belief Gap

MomTastic Find:  Because They CAN, Closing the Belief Gap in education


This month’s MomTastic find is a heartwarming back to school story, and what better time to think about realizing potential in each and every kid.  Because They Can is an organization looking to close the gap between what students can achieve and what other people believe they can achieve by empowering educators to empower all students to achieve their fullest potential.  Education Post had a great article detailing the effects of ignoring kids on performance, self-esteem, and ultimately, being the best they can be.

Unfortunately, not all kids have engaged parents in the home. Research shows that many adults in society have much lower expectations for these kids, and when they underestimate what they’re capable of, it’s called the Belief Gap.

Here’s an example, the story of 8th grader Kim Wilborn, a young girl who, with the help of committed educators, was able to be pushed farther than she ever imagined.

Because They Can believes that great schools and teachers can help kids like Kim reach their full potential.  Help spread the word #BecauseTheyCan


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