What is a teachable moment? It's learning through family. That's what Boys Town provides to tens of thousands of children and parents everyday. And that's what we'll focus on here. Stories of those who we've seen succeed, and ideas on how to help bring Teachable Moments to your home and family, too.

Tag Archives: Parent-Child Relationships

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Daniel Daly, Boys Town Psychologist

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Teens are more stressed and anxious, but they don’t know why. Here’s how parents can help.

Article courtesy of The Washington Post.  The teenage years can be tough, marked with physical and emotional changes, new choices and responsibilities, and evolving relationships with the people who surround us. But a recent report shows that hormones aren’t the only thing troubling the teen years; young people are increasingly showing a general inability to identify the source of their angst and pain. These results have serious implications for those who care for kids. A review of more than 830,000 calls, text messages, ...

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By Father Steven Boes, President and National Executive Director, Boys Town

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Acceptance and Equality Must Be Part of Every Child’s Life Lessons

Father Edward J. Flanagan was far ahead of his time, sometimes dangerously so. When he founded his home for boys (later to become known as Boys Town) 100 years ago in Omaha, Nebraska, he welcomed youngsters of all races, religions and cultural backgrounds, and he provided care for all of them under one roof. This approach was unheard of in the early 1900s, and even though many local citizens supported Father Flanagan’s work, there were those who disapproved and even made threats ...

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Maggie McGill, Boys Town In Home Family Consultant

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3 Tips for Creating a Parenting Plan with your Co-Parent

This article was originally published on momaha.com. Co-parenting can be difficult because you need to remain consistent with addressing behavior, and you might have different expectations than your child’s other parent. Creating a parenting plan can help parents work together to appropriately and consistently address children’s behaviors. Use the following steps to create a parenting plan of your own. Find a time to sit down and discuss what rules you have for your children. Make a list if needed to help you remember. ...

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Boys Town Contributor

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Six Discussions to Start the School Year Right

Every school year is your child’s opportunity for new success. If your child was less than successful the previous year, the school year ahead offers a clean slate. If they’ve been doing well throughout the years, then the new school year means a path to continued success, building on the positive skills and habits they’ve acquired. To help start things off on the right foot, it’s a good idea to sit down with your child and discuss the upcoming school year. ...

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Boys Town Contributor, Mother or 11-year-old son and 9-and 4-year-old daughters

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10 Milestones You Might Not Find in the Child Development Books

Sure, learning to read and tie their shoes are great accomplishments for kids, but there are others that every parent truly appreciates once their children have mastered them. Like when they learn to feed themselves or when they discover how to play by themselves. Certain crucial achievements are often overlooked, and you might not find them in the traditional lists of developmental milestones. As every parent knows, we should celebrate these milestones for the amazing accomplishments they are. Milestone No. 1 Can ...

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Boys Town Contributor

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Raising Compassionate Children

Compassion literally means "to suffer together." Emotional researchers describe compassion as the feelings and motivation that arise in us when we are confronted by the suffering of others. Most young children have an innate sense of compassion, but the development of this important feeling must be nurtured if it is to survive into adulthood. This is where parents come in. So, how do you go about raising a compassionate child? The most important way is by allowing your child to routinely experience compassion ...

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Pam Farmer | Boys Town Foster Parent

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A Mother’s Love, a Lifetime of Inspiration

As Mother's Day approaches, greeting card stores are stocking up for shoppers looking for the perfect card to express their feelings about their mothers. My mother is considered the "Hallmark Queen," a title she earned among our family members for remembering everyone's special events by sending a card. It seems old fashioned now, with texts, emails and Twitter accounts that allow people to keep in touch, but a handwritten note in a beautiful card sends the message that someone went ...

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Kristen Hallstrom, Manager of Boys Town National Hotline

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You’ve Got Questions, We’ve Got Answers

Each year, the Boys Town National Hotline receives hundreds of thousands of calls and online inquiries regarding a host of issues affecting children, teenagers and parents. We recently talked to Kristen Hallstrom, manager of the Boys Town National Hotline, and she provided some insight about common calls, preventive measures parents can take right now and more. We hope this information will help answer some of your questions and assure you that the hotline is here any time of day for ...

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Boys Town Contributer

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Turn Weather Fear into Fun with a Pirate Treasure Hunt

When severe weather strikes, even the bravest adult can suddenly feel small and vulnerable. Now, imagine being a young child in a similar situation. Fear is caused by the unknown, so putting together an emergency severe-weather kit can help alleviate worry for both children and adults. What happens if we lose power? We have flashlights with fresh batteries and a hand-crank weather radio. What happens if somebody gets hurt? We have a fully stocked first-aid kit. What happens if our house ...

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Bridget Barnes | Director of Common Sense Parenting at Boys Town

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5 Tips to Help Parents Clear Up Instructions

This blog was originally featured on momaha.com. Most parents know they should give children clear instructions, but sometimes this isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Below are some helpful hints on how to give kids instructions that will make both you and your child more successful – no matter the circumstances. 1. Get their attention. Go to your child or call them to you. Get down on their level and talk in a normal or calm voice while making eye contact. You ...

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Laura Kelley | Crisis Counselor for the Boys Town National Hotline and the Nebraska Family Helpline

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5 Tips for Dealing with an Aggressive Child

This blog was originally featured on momaha.com.   You may have witnessed it out in public or in your own home. Dealing with an aggressive child can be difficult as you try to remain calm, keep others safe and help your child wind down. Whether it is verbal or physical, aggression can be a learned behavior or a symptom of a mental health or substance abuse issue. Here are some tips on how to help teach your child appropriate ways to handle anger. 1. ...

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By Bridget Barnes | Director, Common Sense Parenting®

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Teaching Togetherness in Today’s Reality

We have just experienced one of the most divisive presidential elections in recent memory. Nerves are raw, wounds are fresh, and even younger children are aware that there is tension in the air. If ever there were a time for Americans to show we are one nation, it’s now. Sadly, some have forgotten that it is “unity” that makes us the United States. We must teach our children there is no us or them there is only “We the people”. ...

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Chris McGinnis, Ph.D., BCBA-D | Clinic Director for Boys Town South Florida’s Behavioral Health Clinic

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Increasing Your Child’s Independence and Initiative

Ever feel like you're doing too much to help your child or teen be successful but with very little success? For example, without sitting down with your child and helping with homework you know it would never get done? And yet your child is getting no more independent with it as time goes on? You may be right. You may be doing too much. In economics, there is a concept called the Laffer curve, and it has to do with getting the federal ...

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Boys Town Contributer

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Making the Holidays Memorable When You Can Only Afford to Give Them Love

It can be tough during the holidays when you have young children who want a toy or game they see on television or in the hands of friends and schoolmates, and you can’t afford to give it to them. In situations such as these, it’s crucial to teach your children that there are more important things in life than just “things.” Putting ‘Things’ in Perspective To help your children understand this concept, show them that certain activities can make them just as happy ...

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Boys Town Contributor

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How to Raise a Giver

As the holiday shopping season moves into full swing, we’re bombarded with the usual messages to “Buy! Buy! Buy!” As adults, we can tune out a certain amount of this noise, but children aren’t so readily equipped. For them, the constant barrage of commercialism can lead to a selfish urge to acquire the latest toys, games and other shiny objects advertised on screens both big and hand-held. So, how can you help your children focus on giving rather than receiving? Here ...

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Pat Thomas, Boys Town

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5 Tips for Easing Anxiety in Kids

This article was originally featured on Momaha on Nov 17, 2016. These days, there are a lot of kids dealing with feelings of worry and anxiety. Often, these feelings are the result of struggling with things they don’t understand, or there is a break in the routine, and they are not sure of what is going to happen and when. Studies show that children feel safe when they are in a consistent and predictable environment. Safety is their main concern and ours. Kids are ...

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Jaime Wyant, Momaha Contributor

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All That Election Anger You’re Spewing on Social Media? Time to Tone It Down

This article was originally featured on Momaha on November 14, 2016. This week was full of election chaos. After one of the most surprising upsets in American political history, Donald Trump is the President-elect of the United States of America. Whether you are thrilled or terrified with the results of the election, you cannot avoid all of the social media commentary. What is truly upsetting to me is all of the hate plaguing our lives right now. There are people on both ...

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Kristin Bieber, Ph.D., Boys Town Child and Adolescent Psychologist

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Make the Most of Parent–Teacher Conferences

Parent–teacher conferences play an important role in the education of your child. First quarter of the school year typically ends with a 15-minute conference. For many parents, these conferences are the first time they hear that their child is struggling in class or with peers, and there just isn’t much time to discuss the details. In general, communication with your child’s school is important. So, attending parent-teacher conferences is one way to send a message to your child and to teachers ...

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Laura Buddenberg, Boys Town Expert

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7 Ways to Teach Your Teen How to Disagree Appropriately

This article was originally featured on Momaha.com July 14, 2016. Teens love to argue their viewpoints. In fact, if you’re the parent of a teen, you often may feel like you’re living with a pricey underage attorney or a national debate champ! Meaningless arguments are a bummer for everyone, and there are plenty of issues that shouldn’t be up for negotiation. When our kids were growing up and still at home, my husband and I had the final word on anything physically, morally or ...

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Maggie McGill, Boys Town In Home Family Consultant

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4 Steps to Help Your Kids Avoid Peer Pressure

This article was originally featured on Momaha.com August 4, 2016. Avoiding peer pressure is not easy for kids because they are desperately looking for acceptance and a place to fit in. The best way to help kids avoid peer pressure is to teach them how. Here are four steps to help you teach your child how to avoid peer pressure. 1. Start out by sitting down and talking with your child at a neutral time. Explain to them the difference between positive and negative peer ...

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By Terry Hyland,  Boys Town Writing Team Director, Marketing & Communications

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It’s Summertime, and Here Come the Grandkids!

I have a photo of me and my three grandkids – ages 6, 5, and 16 months – on my office desk. There’s a caption, and it reads: “Grandpa & Me, You are a friend I will never outgrow.” I love my grandkids with all my heart. But as much as I want to be a friend who sometimes spoils them with one too many cookies or a giggle-inducing piggyback ride right before bedtime, I also have to be one of ...

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Boys Town Contributor

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School’s Out, Rules Out? Not with Our Summer Contract!

It’s that time of year again that kids dream of and parents sometimes dread —summer break. And that means that houses all across America will be filled with kids who think that just because they’re no longer in school, they’re able to act however they want, free from any rules and constraints. Sleep ‘till noon? Sure! Play video games for 12 hours straight? Sounds good! Stay out until 2:00 a.m. with your friends? Awesome! Ignore your chores? Of course! So how does ...

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Scott Butler, Director of the Boys Town Day School

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6 Summer Activities to Promote Learning

This article was previously featured on Momaha.  One of my fondest childhood memories is the incredible feeling of freedom I experienced each May on the last day of school. I walked out of the school building carrying the remains of my school year, a back pack full of half-used pencils, broken crayons and used up notebooks. The entire summer was in front of me. My child eyes refused to focus far enough ahead to see the next grade looming in August. In ...

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Boys Town Contributor 

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Getting Your Parenting Skills on Track

Ever have one of those days? You know, when it seems as if you’ve failed as a parent. You’re not alone. Raising kids is one of the most difficult jobs on the planet, and whether you’re dealing with a tantrum-throwing toddler or an “I know everything” teen, you are occasionally going to need support. Everyone does. Luckily, the child behavior experts at Boys Town have seen some of the most difficult parenting situations imaginable. They’ve worked with virtually every issue in ...

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Father Steven Boes, Boys Town National Executive Director

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Setting Rules to Survive Your Stay-at-Home Teen

Your teenager is graduating from high school! What a great accomplishment! As a parent, you’re feeling pride and happiness – and maybe a little bit of apprehension about your teen’s plans for the upcoming summer. If your adolescent child will be living at home until college starts in the fall or until he or she begins a job and moves out, that apprehension level might be somewhere between nervous and panicky. Here’s the rub:  How do you parent a child who is still ...

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 Boys Town Contributor 

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The S.A.N.E. Approach to Disciplining Your Child

For decades, the parenting experts at Boys Town have become uniquely experienced in allocating discipline for an infinite variety of misbehaviors in adolescents. It is through experience that teaches a certain way to approach discipline that is more effective than simply reacting in the moment out of anger or emotion. We call it the S.A.N.E. approach: Small consequences are better. Avoid punishing yourself (e.g. taking away your teen’s car privileges only to have to drive him or her everywhere for two weeks). Never abuse ...

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Boys Town Contributor

Mother of four-year-old and two-year-old daughters

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Parenting Tools That Work

Being a mom is one of the most rewarding jobs there is, but it’s those ‘ah-ha’ moments that are the currency of the adventure. I am one of those people who will read every article, blog and book out there on parenting, but I find that true learning comes from putting what you read in to practice.  Case in point: I recently discovered an awesome resource to help me put that knowledge in to action with the Parenting Tools provided by Boys ...

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Boys Town Contributor

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This “Promposal” Thing is Getting Out of Hand

Remember when prom was just a dance? Sure, it was an important school activity and it was a big deal to muster up the courage to ask someone to be your date. Maybe you didn’t ask anyone and went stag or with a group of friends. Or maybe you just didn’t go at all. Regardless, it was still just a dance. These days, getting asked to the prom has become the social media event of the season, with outlandish “promposal” videos ...

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Kristin E. Bieber, Ph.D., a staff psychologist with Boys Town Center for Behavioral Health

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Self-Harm: Signs, Prevention and How to Talk to Children, Adolescents About It

This post was first published on Momaha.com. Self-harm can sometimes first occur at the transition between childhood to adolescence. It's around this time that adolescents begin to think more about their feelings, pay more attention to peers’ behaviors and place more of an emphasis on fitting in. Boys Town Center for Behavioral Health shares information to help prevent and respond to self-harm. How is self-harm prevented? The first step in addressing self-harm is educating parents. Upon discovering their adolescent is self-harming, parents may become ...

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Boys Town Contributor
Mother of eight-year-old son and six and one-year-old daughters

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Are You Seeing Someone Inclusively? You Should Be!

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 have three kids, so getting time alone with each one of them is really tough. That’s why this Valentine’s Day, my husband and I not only spent time with each other, but also had much-needed one-on-one time with each of our children. What I’ve realized ...

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Dr. Tanya Martin, Director of Special Education and Transition Services at Boys Town High School

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What Did You Just Say?

Have you ever been riding in the car and had your children utter words or phrases that make you think, “What did they just say?” Every generation has its vocabulary of slang; it’s one of those things that sets the youngsters apart from their parents. Tweens and teens enjoy the secrecy of their own “private” slang language, thinking that parents and adults are too “uncool” to understand what the kids are talking about. So if you feel you have been left behind ...

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Boys Town Contributor, Mother of seven-year-old daughter and five-year-old son

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What Parent Doesn’t Want Their Child to Be Grateful?

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. What parent doesn’t want their child to be grateful? From a very young age, we have taught our children their please and thank you’s, before they could speak they were signing the words. We wanted our kids to have manners and ...

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Boys Town Contributor

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Instead of Black Friday, Make it Fun Friday!

Let’s face it; Black Friday is getting old. So let everyone else get up at the crack of dawn and fight each other for those "door-buster" deals. After all, if you’re like most moms and dads, you spent much of the days before cleaning the house and preparing a huge meal for your extended family. Wouldn't you rather sleep in and enjoy a late breakfast or brunch with your kids? Besides, there are plenty of fun family activities that you can ...

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Kerry Stewart, Director of Family Home Program

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The 4 to 1 Principle of Praise: Prompting Positive Behavior

As parents, we’re conditioned to notice when something is out of order with our kids – that’s nature working. So when they’re at the kitchen table doing their homework or in the bathroom brushing their teeth before bed, everything is normal and we go about our regular business. Unfortunately this means that many of us have a tendency to interact with our kids more often when they’re being bad than when they’re being good. After all, bad gets noticed, so ...

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Terry Hyland,
Boys Town Press Book Co-Author,
Father and Grandfather

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Finding Positive Behaviors to Praise – Even When They’re Hard to See

It’s easy to criticize your kids when they’re being bad. After all, when they’re bad, you notice (which may be why they’re doing it in the first place). But research shows that they’ll improve their behavior quicker – and will be less likely to tune you out – if you “catch them being good” and praise them four times for every one time you criticize. The trick is, of course, how to catch them being good, because unlike obvious bad behavior, ...

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Terry Hyland,
Boys Town Press Book Co-Author,
Father and Grandfather

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The Power of Praise: All ‘4-to-1’ and One for All

In the restaurant business, there’s something called the “3:11 rule.” It means that if diners have a good meal and a positive dining experience, they are likely to tell three people about it. However, if their dining experience is sub-par or unpleasant (bad food, bad service), they’ll share their complaints with 11 people. It’s just human nature for us to focus more on the negatives than the positives and to look for things to criticize rather than things to praise. For parents, ...

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Mother of six-year-old daughter and four-year-old son

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Can I Ever Get out of the House on Time?

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. Is it even possible to get out of the house on time with kids? It is certainly a frequent discussion between my fellow mom friends and myself. My mornings have changed drastically over the last year. I used to find ...

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Julia Cook, Children’s Book Author

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Civility Wars: Helping Your Child Battle Rudeness and Learn Positive People Skills

Rudeness damages others by creating stress, eroding self-worth, creating relationship problems and making life difficult. When we are treated rudely by others, we often become vulnerable and self-doubting. Teaching children to be polite is not an all-or-nothing proposition, but instead is a continuum that starts at birth and continues throughout life. Teaching a child just one single strategy toward politeness will better that child! The most important skill we can teach our children to help them succeed in life is the ...

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Boys Town Contributor
Mother of nine-year-old son and seven and two-year-old daughters

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Why Cell Phones are Ruining Our Families

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. Ok, the title of this may be a little over-dramatized, but there is a lot of truth to the harm that they are doing. For Christmas my husband and I were due for upgrades on our phones, so we packaged up ...

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Julie Mooney, Boys Town High School Teacher

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Summer Reading Part One

Reading is a lifelong skill that benefits students of all ages. As a teacher, I have seen that a student who is a good reader will be more successful in almost every subject in school. This is one learning area that children can continue to work on all summer. And it can be fun! The goal is to encourage your children to read and improve their comprehension as well. You can help with this easily. Here are some tips on how ...

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Laura Buddenberg, Manager
Training and Community Outreach, Mother of two

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4 Tips to Help You – and Your Senior – Survive Graduation

This article was first published on Momaha on May 21, 2015. http://www.omaha.com/momaha/tips-to-help-you-and-your-senior-survive-graduation/article_81501410-fd99-11e4-8059-0b9233b66128.html It’s graduation time! Everywhere, parents of high school seniors are in high preparation mode, getting ready for ceremonies, parties and visits from family members. High school graduation is a big accomplishment and rite of passage (for kids and parents alike!) – and well worth celebrating. Here are some tips for maintaining your sanity (and your graduating senior’s safety) during this season. Communicate! 1. Get in touch with your child’s school and do one ...

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Julie Mooney, Boys Town High School Teacher

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Let’s Celebrate the Last Day of School!

Finishing another year of school is a big deal for a child. It means feeling a sense of accomplishment and moving forward to new adventures. How can your family make this really special? First, plan a celebration. What marks the beginning of summer for your family? My children always loved starting the season with an event we could do together. It doesn’t have to be something big or expensive. Our kids always looked forward to camping the first weekend after school ...

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Bob Pick, Vice President of Boys Town Nebraska/Iowa

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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,” ...

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Father Boes

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The Pressure to Be ‘Parent Perfect’

A woman stopped by my office earlier this week. She had just come from another meeting with the school principal about her child and her shoulders sagged under the burden of responsibility. She needed help. As we talked, her worries and fears rushed out. She was convinced that she was to blame for her child’s troubles. I told her, “It’s not your fault.” She looked up at me, startled. Again, I said, “It’s not your fault. You are a wonderful mother.” As those words started ...

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Boys Town Contributor

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What If There Were No Boys Town?

We wanted to know… what if there were no Boys Town? We asked some of the children and families that we heal each day. Here are a few of their responses: There is not a doubt in my mind. I would have gone back to gangs, gone back to drugs. I would not have graduated high school. Mariah They are the reason that I’m here today; I actually graduated college, I actually did something with my life. Boys Town gave me opportunity, ...

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Bob Pick, Vice President of Boys Town Nebraska/Iowa

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Why Teenagers May Be Smarter Than You Think

Between the ages of 16 and 19, adolescents have achieved full physical maturity. In sharp contrast to early adolescence, when many teenagers are socially awkward and embarrassed by their bodies, late adolescence is the time when teens are more comfortable with their physical appearance. They’re more confident. And they dress accordingly (sometimes to the point of inappropriateness). From a psychosocial standpoint, they exhibit better adjustment, a developing self-concept and a growing development of emotional intimacy. From a cognitive standpoint, teenagers are ...

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Father Boes

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Does Your Family “Tebow”?

As fans prepare for Super Bowl XLVI, I’m sure there are more than a few who are sad that Tim Tebow and his Denver Broncos didn’t make it to the big game. There are a variety of opinions on Tebow’s primetime praying and the reasons behind it. Regardless of what people think, his public expressions of faith have brought prayer back into the mainstream conversation, and that is great news for families. Growing up in a small town, my family prayed before ...