The Value of Summer Jobs

The Value of Summer Jobs School is out for the summer, and one of the best ways for young people to keep busy is to secure jobs. Working in a restaurant, bagging groceries, and cutting lawns can provide kids with a fantastic learning experience. Holding a job will teach them how to handle themselves in the workplace, and the thrill of getting a paycheck is usually reason enough for most young people to pursue job opportunities. Unfortunately, a recent national report indicates summer jobs will be scarce this year for teenagers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports more than seven in 10 U.S. teens will be jobless this summer. One of the major reasons is that older workers, immigrants and college graduates are also competing for the same jobs. So if your child cannot find a paid summer job, don’t underestimate the value of volunteering. Although some larger companies don’t routinely use volunteers, there are numerous businesses and organizations that do offer “kid-friendly” volunteer opportunities. Young people can serve as counselors-in-training at camps and day care centers. Hospitals, non-profit organizations, senior citizen homes, parks and recreation departments, and local cable companies often use volunteers. Not only will children be able to learn valuable skills through volunteerism, but it is also gives them an advantage over other jobseekers when the organization or business does have job openings. Additionally, many kids don’t get a chance to volunteer during the school year because of their busy school and activity schedules. Summer is a good time to gain job and social skills through volunteerism. Older children and teenagers also can create their own...

Calming Children’s Fears During Storms

Calming Children’s Fears During Storms This summer, we’ve had some rather unusual and threatening weather in Michigan. In addition to long stretches of extremely hot temperatures, severe storms have knocked down trees and power lines, causing widespread power outages. Massive property damage has resulted from the hail and high winds. Some of the storms rolled in without much warning and setting off tornado sirens in many communities. This type of weather can be frightening to adults, so imagine the impact it has on children. The loud thunder, lightning flashes, strong winds, and power outages can be a scary experience for kids. We also see fear in our pets during storms. There is actually some real benefit to our innate, uneasy response when storms strike, because we are aware that a dangerous situation exists. There are nature’s dangers, such as falling trees and lightning strikes, and then there are man-made dangers resulting from electrical wires and electronic items in our homes. Nowadays, we get a lot of our news and information via the Internet and mobile phones. But too much dependence on technology can wipe out your communication during a power outage, unless you have battery backup. Or you have “vintage” transistor radios and corded phones stashed away for emergencies. Although there are only a few weeks of summer left, we can expect to have more severe weather. Now is the time to talk to your children about what to do during major storms. First, explain that fear is a completely natural reaction when the dark clouds roll in and the thunder booms. Stress the importance of taking precautions when there...

Moving On After a Senseless Tragedy

Moving On After a Senseless Tragedy By Janet McPeek, Ph.D. President, Crossroads for Youth As the world continues to ask “Why?” in the senseless tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, families in that community — and everywhere — are trying to return to a life of normalcy.  Children who survived the gunman’s attack on the school are experiencing a range of emotions — from grief and sorrow to fear and even guilt for having survived while so many of their fellow students did not. Perhaps your child has expressed concerns about a similar attack occurring at his or her school.  Or they want to know more about the details of what happened at Sandy Hook.  What should you tell your children?  How do you calm their fears?  What can you do as a family to show your concern for the victims’ families? Events like the Connecticut tragedy can have a profound effect on children and adults.  Although the amount of news coverage has decreased since the day of the shooting, it is still a good idea to monitor and balance the amount of time that you spend watching news stories about the tragedy with your children.  Research has shown that you don’t have to be at the scene of a tragedy to be traumatized.   Simply hearing about it can be traumatizing, especially since we all can relate to being in school or having someone we know and love in school.  Such incidents also can bring back raw emotions and feelings for those who have suffered their own loss recently, such as a death in the family. Children...

Starting the New Year Off Right

Starting the New Year Off Right By Janet McPeek, Ph.D. President of Crossroads for Youth Now that we are a couple of months into 2013, how are you doing with your New Year’s resolutions? If you’re like many people, your determination to make major changes in your life may be fading just a bit. Most of the time, adults make resolutions to fix what we don’t like and to start doing things that we haven’t been doing. Some of the most popular resolutions include losing weight, exercising regularly or not procrastinating. Children and teens also tend to participate in the annual tradition of making New Year’s resolutions.  They may resolve to keep their room cleaner, turn in homework assignments on time or limit the time they spend watching television. While making resolutions can help kids learn about the importance of self-discipline and setting goals, there is another way that children and families can benefit from New Year’s resolutions. Instead of focusing on doing something you haven’t been doing, why not look back at the things that have gone well for you over the past year? Think about the activities, events and occasions that made you happy. These are the special moments you should replicate in the new year. Parents can make a commitment to do more of the things their children enjoy. Place an emphasis on what has been working well for your family and resolve to continue doing it throughout 2013. Maybe you had a great family vacation or you spent quality time with your daughter when you drove her to dance class. Perhaps you are proud of how you...

Braving the Storms

Braving the Storms It’s All About the Kids By Janet McPeek, Ph.D. President of Crossroads for Youth Let’s face it. Most of us get a little anxious when potentially dangerous storms blow through our communities. Recently, Lake Orion and Oxford were hard hit by a fast moving storm that uprooted trees and destroyed houses. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured. But, now that we are entering the summer season, our chances of experiencing destructive weather will increase. Storms are a common fear for a lot of kids. Parents must equip children with knowledge on what to do when storms are approaching. They should know to always take weather warnings very seriously. Explain to your children the importance of taking shelter and paying attention to all signs of impending dangerous weather. If the skies look threatening, but warning sirens are not going off, it’s still better to follow your instincts and seek protection from the elements. In order to prevent anxiety in children, adults often have a tendency to tell them not to worry because it’s just a storm. But, in reality, we shouldn’t say that, because storms can be deadly. It’s important not to minimize their fears or the potential danger associated with thunder, lightning, and high winds. There’s a reason why we have a natural fear of storms. It’s an instinctive way to keep us safe. Although some storms can be destructive, kids should also be aware of how such events build a sense of community. They may see light poles taken down by high winds and vehicles damaged by hail or downed trees. But, they also will...