At the beginning of the school year, a second grade teacher in Texas sent this letter home to her classroom parents:

After much research this summer, I am trying something new. Homework will only consist of work that your student did not finish during the school day. There will be no formally assigned homework this year.

Research has been unable to prove that homework improves student performance. Rather, I ask that you spend your evenings doing things that are proven to correlate with student success. Eat dinner as a family, read together, play outside, and get your child to bed early.

Thanks, Mrs. Brandy Young

A parent posted the letter on Facebook with a hearty thank you to the teacher. It went viral as parents nationwide expressed frustration at the amount of homework their children had, along with the stress it created in their home.

Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman is a clinical director at New England Center for Pediatric Psychology who contributed to a study published in the American Journal of Family Therapy regarding homework. She has serious concerns about the amount of homework children have and its impact on them.

“One study found kindergartners were given 25 minutes or more of homework,” says Donaldson-Pressman. “Homework for kindergartners is supposed to be nonexistent. Children at this age need to be playing outside, experiencing the early stages of socialization, learning how to play, how to share so they are finessing their motor skills. Family activities and play are more important than homework at this age.”

Donaldson-Pressman believes parents have a lot more control than they realize. Parents can set limits for how long their child does homework.

The National Education Association recommends only 10 minutes per grade level per night. The same study that found kindergartners spend too much time on homework also found that first graders spent 25 to 30 minutes. By third grade, kids spent more than a half-hour per night. Donaldson-Pressman noted that in her practice, some third graders spent two to four hours on homework – and their parents can’t help them.

According to Donaldson-Pressman, the data shows that homework over the recommended time is not beneficial to children’s grades or GPA. Evidence actually suggests that it’s detrimental to their attitude about school, grades, self-confidence, social skills and quality of life.

If homework creates stress in your home, Donaldson-Pressman says you can help decrease the angst if you:

  • Create a quiet place to do homework.
  • Try to do homework at the same time every day.
  • Set a timer for 10 minutes for a first-grader, and then have them stop. Fourth graders need to move on to something else after 40 minutes.

As a parent, you probably already know how important it is for children of all ages to get enough rest. Plus, you want them to have time to play, develop friendships outside of school hours and engage in family activities.

In addition to managing the homework situation, assessing your child’s activities and how much pressure kids feel to perform can help. Hopefully, these ideas can allow your family to enjoy more quality time together after a long day at work and school.

This article was originally published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on January 22, 2017.

How do you feel when your child has a meltdown? You probably do everything you can think of to help them, but absolutely nothing works. It could be in the store checkout line, at bedtime, the second you walk in your friend’s house or at a birthday party. You may find yourself at wits’ end and literally on the verge of having your own meltdown.

There probably isn’t a parent on the planet who can’t relate to this experience. Your blood pressure goes up and you can feel everyone watching you. So, you reach into the recesses of all you know about good parenting in an attempt to use something you’ve learned, but absolutely nothing will console your child.

What now?

Before you judge yourself too harshly, know that you are not alone. There is nothing worse, no matter how old you are, than feeling out of control. Children have meltdowns. But guess what? Sometimes adults do too.

Christie Burnett, editor of Childhood 101, encourages parents to consider developing a “Calm Down Plan” to help children cope when their emotions overwhelm them. These steps can help them when they are upset or feel out of control.

5 Steps to Managing Big Emotions

  • Remember that it is never OK to hurt others. Set clear guidelines about what is acceptable and what is not. For example, physically hurting others or destroying things is not acceptable, nor is it OK to say hurtful things.

  • Take three deep breaths or count slowly to 10. Breathing deeply or slowly counting to 10 gives your child time to recognize their body’s warning signs, such as a tense body, clenched teeth or a racing heart. Talk with your child about how their body feels when they are angry or frustrated. Then introduce the idea of taking a few breaths to compose themselves and choose a better course of action than striking out at another person.

  • Use words to express feelings and hopes. Acknowledging their feelings gives them legitimacy. Saying what they wish would take place helps to open a problem-solving conversation. Sometimes what they wish would happen is not acceptable, but this is part of the learning process. It’s also a great opportunity to help them think of other options.

  • Ask for help to solve the problem. Talking through a problem helps to process the situation, even for adults. Let your child know it is OK to ask for help solving a problem, and keep channels of communication open so they feel they can always come to you for help. One day, they’ll be working on much bigger problems than a spat with a sibling or frustration with a friend.

  • Take the time needed to calm down. Teach your child that sometimes the proposed solution may not seem to be enough. They may still feel angry or upset after working through each of the steps. In these situations, it is often better to walk away or find another safe way to diffuse those feelings.

Whether you’re younger or older, it’s difficult when you feel out of control. These steps can provide a sense of security and help you develop a plan of attack for those moments when big emotions try to take over.

This article was originally published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on January 8, 2017.

When Sara left home on the first day of sixth grade, she was super-excited about starting middle school. She was anything but excited when she got in the car at the the end of the day.

Sara told her mom that her friends since kindergarten had decided to end their friendship. The leader of group had told them, “We don’t like her anymore,” a statement that launched Sara and her family into a year of chaos.

Every impulse in Sara’s mom wanted to hunt down those girls, but she knew better than to do that. In conversations with other moms, she asked, “Why all the meanness?” Many of the women had not only experienced this with their children, they had gone through it themselves. In fact, they could still recall the interactions in painstaking detail.

“Peer pressure and rejection hurts so much because it hits a youngster’s self-esteem, which is still wobbly at best during the preteen and early teen years,” says psychologist Dr. Susan Hickman from the Mental Fitness Institute in Chattanooga.

“To make it worse, children at this age have not yet developed good filters to distinguish that this type of experience may be more about the other person than about them. They immediately translate the bad behavior of others into seeing themselves as unworthy. In reality, these two are not connected at all.”

Whether young or old, everyone has the need to belong. So the feeling of rejection hits a person right in the gut.

“If children can’t get a good sense of belonging from a peer group at school, parents have to help them work a little harder to develop a sense of belonging elsewhere, such as through team sports, extracurricular hobbies, neighborhood peers or community groups,” Hickman says. “Once they establish a group with which they can identify, it’s much easier to teach them how to dismiss their peers’ bad behavior and grasp the fact that it is really not about them.”

Hickman believes teaching children mental-fitness skills is the key to navigating these tough situations and evaluating their own feelings. Learning how to challenge and confront false ideas can keep them steady for the rest of their lives. Fortunately, you can help your child with these steps:

  • Develop healthy self-esteem that is not affected by hurtful people’s negative opinions. Help them solidify an appropriate sense of self-approval – regardless of others’ bad behavior.

  • Learn healthy coping skills in the midst of negative circumstances. Self-talk is a key component to this. It’s important for them to positively cope with emotional upheaval instead of harming themselves or flocking to unsavory peers. Walk them through identifying healthy ways they can cope.

  • Keep perspective. Teach them to assess how much the situation has to do with themselves versus the bully. Get them to ask: Why might this person act this way? This teaches them to identify with the other person and separate themselves from the event. It also helps them look at their own behavior and make necessary changes.

  • Find alternative strategies and resources for fitting in. Trying a new hobby, joining a sports team or even finding another friend group may help. A busy mind is far less likely to think negative thoughts.

So, how exactly do you teach them these crucial skills?

“Think of it as you would any other skill, such as tying your shoes,” Hickman says. “Know what you want to teach them and show them the steps to reach their goal. Gently correct any missteps and model the next step for them. Then, have them practice the behavior until it comes naturally.”

This will take some time and probably patience. But in the end, you will have taught them how to handle life situations and their own emotions with dignity.

This article was originally published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on January 15, 2017.

As Christmas approaches, some eagerly anticipate celebrating in the same way they always have. Others are ready to shake things up a bit and do something a little different.

The thought of buying presents for all of their children and grandchildren overwhelmed Terri and Bill, especially when nobody really needed anything. After several conversations about what to do, they finally decided to give their family a special gift of time and togetherness. They started planning mystery destination trips.

When the time came, they told their family what kind of clothes to pack. Then on the morning of departure, everybody learned where they were headed together. Sometimes they took a trip to the mountains for a weekend, and other years they did something more elaborate. These experiences helped create memories that will last far longer than many of the gifts they had given in the past.

If you’re ready to add some variety to your festivities, here are some things you might try:

  • Expand your knowledge and your palate. Some families like to learn how other cultures celebrate the holidays. Consider letting your children choose a country and create your Christmas celebration around those customs and traditions. You can even change up your usual dinner menu to include traditional dishes from that country. As a bonus, you might even get extra help from the kids in the kitchen.

  • Play games. How about starting a tradition of giving your family a new game that everybody plays for the first time at your Christmas gathering? Speak Out, Heads Up!, Apples to Apples, Family Feud and Catch Phrase are likely to create lively conversations without the drama.

  • Go offline. Maybe you could ditch the technology and ask everybody to come prepared to share a talent or a hobby as you gather together.

  • Be more active. Resurrect the annual family football game. There’s nothing like some healthy competition to work off the big meal and make room for the next. If you can’t do football, sack races, three-legged relays, a scavenger hunt or a hike will fill the bill!

  • Share family history. Many younger family members don’t know much about their family history, and the holidays are a great time to learn about it. Try having your guests bring a baby picture, then shuffle them up and guess who belongs with each photo. As you connect the pictures to each family member, that person can share a little-known fact about their family history.

  • Create together. Have a gingerbread house building competition. Purchase kits, but have some additional candies and supplies on hand. Divide up into teams and set a time limit for the creations. Then, designate a judge and let the fun begin!

  • Treat yourself (and someone else). If you don’t enjoy cooking the Christmas meal, eat out for a change! When going out though, remember that employees are working on a holiday instead of being with their own families. You might even show extra Christmas spirit and bless the wait staff with a large tip.

Finally, as you make plans, don’t forget those who work on Christmas Day. Some people are alone for the holidays, too. If you don’t celebrate with family, consider taking homemade breakfast or Christmas dinner to first responders. You might even take food to a hospital waiting room or to someone who can’t leave their home. Or, you can really brighten someone’s day by inviting them to celebrate with you, especially if you know they are lonely.

Have a wonderful holiday season!

When tragedy strikes, it seems to bring out the best and the worst in people. One tragedy after another – fires, shootings and a horrific bus accident – has left people reeling in pain and raw with emotion.

While some experienced personal loss and/or injury, these events have impacted everyone in the community. In most cases, adults have words and the mental ability to process what just happened, but it is a different story for children.

“Children watch their parents’ or caregivers’ response,” says psychologist Dr. Gary Oliver with the Center for Healthy Relationships. “Even if their parents didn’t say a word about the anxiety they felt, their children could feel it. Anxiety and fear are contagious. Children are very good at reading facial expressions and noticing a change in the tone of voice used by their parents.”

Situations like this are an opportunity for parents to teach their children how to handle tragedy. What do you do in the midst of crisis? How do you practice good self-care? How do you move forward even when it’s painful?

“In many instances adults can make a difficult situation worse by our own lack of self- awareness,” Oliver says. “Thinking about your own fears is important. Listening to your children and what they are thinking can be very helpful.  Tragedies like the bus accident, a death in the family or the loss of a home can become a great opportunity to build trust and communication, and to increase a child’s sense of security, continuity and stability.”

Oliver has these suggestions for walking through tragedy with your children:

  • Listen to your kids. Let them talk. Don’t feel like you have to have all the answers. Extroverted children will usually tell you what they are thinking.  Introverted children probably won’t, so it is important for you to understand the nuances of your child’s personality. Help them to share their thoughts by sharing your own thoughts and feelings appropriately. Comfort them and remind them that they are safe, secure and loved.
  • Be honest. For example, it is okay to say something like, “I’m not sure where we are going to live for a while.” Or, “Our lifestyle is going to change a bit.” Being honest can be very healing and therapeutic.
  • Seek to respond with patience instead of react. Children may ask lots of questions and become clingy. Model the steps that will move them toward hope and recovery. Reacting creates panic, often results in poor decision-making and tends to make things worse over time. Responding is more of a process where you acknowledge that what is happening is awful. In other words, you feel the loss, but have hope for tomorrow.
  • Focus on what you can do. In the midst of the greatest tragedy, we always have choices. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are a part of the grieving and rebuilding process, but remember that the process is unique for everyone. Don’t be afraid to seek help for you and/or your children when you feel it is necessary.

In demonstrating these steps for your children, you will give them skills for the future. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed in the midst of tragedy, your example can guide them to keep perspective and continue to put one foot in front of the other with hope for the future.

You don’t have to break the bank to celebrate Christmas! Here’s a quick list of ways to make memories. It’s so easy, you can’t afford NOT to take a look.

  • Make decorations for your house and the Christmas tree as a family. Gather nature items outside (now before it snows!) and make them into a garland for the tree. Make Christmas ornaments together.
  • Get in the kitchen and make Christmas cookies or candy as a family, then take a few plates to neighbors and sing Christmas carols while you’re at it.
  • Attend a free/cheap concert or play in your community each year.
  • Go sledding, build a snowman, or have a snowball fight.
  • Read Christmas stories from the library or have Mom and Dad talk about memories of Christmas from the good ol’ days.
  • Have a fun sleepover a few nights before Christmas in front of your lit tree. Watch a Christmas show, read Christmas stories, or listen to Christmas music.
  • Have a gingerbread house or cookie decorating contest. Then donate the houses or cookies to your local Festival of Trees event, if you have one.
  • Turn off all the lights on Christmas Eve and use candles as you tell the story of the Savior’s birth. If you have young children, act out the Christmas story from The Bible.
  • Talk about the most significant event that happened to your family this year and how that has helped you grow closer.
  • Write special memories from the past year and keep it in a Christmas box that you open each Christmas to see how you have changed over the years.
  • Write a family Holiday letter and then send it to loved ones.
  • Require that all gifts be homemade and be sure to draw names so each person is only focused on making one gift.
  • Run in a Christmas 5K event together.
  • Do the 12 days of Christmas for a family in need.
  • Put together a few boxes for Operation Christmas Child.
  • Serve the homeless at your local shelter.
  • Drive around and look at Christmas lights, and, if you feel like it, find someone you can bring home for the evening to share the spirit of Christmas.
  • If you live near a Festival of Trees event, attend and/or donate a tree (you probably will have to start this several months before the event). Attend another charity event if you do not have a Festival of Trees in your area.
  • Instead of Elf on the Shelf, buy some Kindness Elves* and discover all the wonderful things you can do for each other this Christmas season!
  • Purchase a few toys and donate them to Toys for Tots.
  • Volunteer at a local senior citizens center. Make cards, sing songs, or just visit with the elderly for an evening.
  • Let the kids pick out 3 toys that they would like to give to another child in need.
  • Make a dinner for a family who needs it and take it to them on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
  • After all gifts have been opened, ask everyone to gather at least 3 things they no longer want that they can put in a bag and give to charity.

Adapted from: http://humbleinaheartbeat.com/meaningful-and-frugal-family-christmas-traditions/

The song says it’s the most wonderful time of the year. And, in a lot of ways, it is wonderful. Something about the season seems to bring out the best in many folks. However, too much of a good thing can lead to serious meltdowns for children and parents alike.

As you prepare to enjoy a wonderful season with your family, here are a few things to consider ahead of time.

  • When it comes to your expectations of your children, keep them realistic. During the holidays, everything they are used to in the way of bedtime, the food they eat, who they spend time with and more gets thrown to the wind. While it is tons of fun, children can only take so much before they move into overload – and we all know that never ends well. Everyone will be happier if you can keep some semblance of routine and structure.
  • Talk with your children about your plans for each day. Just like adults, it’s helpful if kids know what to expect. Keep it simple. Share the highlights.
  • Keep your cool. When your child has a meltdown, it can be a challenge for you to not have one, too. Yelling and getting angry will only make matters worse, so stop and take a deep breath. Then, if possible, take your child to a quiet place where they can regain control.
  • If you can, try to spread out the celebrations instead of doing everything in a 48-hour period. While it’s hard to say no to the grandparents, putting boundaries in place can make the celebrations more enjoyable for everyone, even if you celebrate on a different day. A note to grandparents: Your adult children often find it difficult to tell you no without feeling guilty. Asking your grown children what works best for them could really help them as they plan to celebrate.

For those in the midst of co-parenting:

  • Talk about the fact that transitions are difficult. Sometimes just saying, “I don’t have a choice and you don’t have a choice; now how are we going to make the best of this situation?” can make things better for your child.
  • Make a plan. Discuss how to make the transition easier. Then use your time together to make it a special celebration.
  • Be prepared. Help them understand the possibility of a last-minute change in plans. Ask them what they would like to do instead and acknowledge the pain they may feel.
  • Stay in the parent role. While it might be tempting to be your child’s buddy, that is not what they need from you. It is very difficult to go back to being the parent once you have crossed that line. Before you make or change plans, think about how it will affect your child.
  • Children will follow your lead. If you have a bad attitude about the holidays, your children will probably follow suit. Set a positive mood for a holiday to remember.

Planning for bumps in the road beforehand can reduce holiday stress in your family and increase the chances for a joyful holiday. Wherever you find yourself, choose now to make the best of the days ahead.

This article was originally published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on November 27, 2016.

Looking for more? Watch this episode of JulieB TV on this topic!

Just hearing the words, “summer camp” can make people smile. Why? Because it’s hard to forget a summer filled with new friendships and learning new things. This is true whether it involves sports, cooking over an open fire, identifying wildlife, stringing a bow or shooting an arrow.

Since school will be out soon, it’s time to make those summer plans.

The good news is, there are plenty of camp options for everything from the zoo, coding and nature, to scouting, sports and cooking experiences. And, many local organizations offer both day and residential summer camps. There’s really something for every kid out there.

The camp experience can be good for kids in many ways. It may help them:

  • mature socially, emotionally, intellectually, morally and physically;

  • discover and explore their talents, interests and values;

  • build self-confidence and increase independence as they learn how to navigate relationships away from their parents; and,

  • try new things and develop leadership skills.

So, how do you choose a camp that fits your child’s personality and needs?

The American Camp Association (ACA) website has suggestions for you as you make decisions. Here are a few for you to think about.

  • What is the camp’s philosophy? Does it complement your parenting style? Is the camp competitive or cooperative?

  • What is the camp director’s background? At a minimum, a camp director should have a bachelor’s degree and camp administration experience.

  • What is the ratio of counselors to campers? Depending on the age and ability of the campers, the medium range is one staff member for every seven to eight campers.

  • How old are the counselors? ACA standards recommend that 80 percent or more of the program staff be 18 or older. Additionally, at least 20 percent of the program/administrative staff must have a bachelor’s degree.

  • How does the camp handle poor behavior and discipline? Positive reinforcement, assertive role-modeling and a sense of fair play are generally regarded as key components of camp leadership.

Another good idea is to research references and camp policies, such as visitation, dealing with homesickness or other adjustment issues.

If your child is camping for the first time, you’ll want to make sure they are ready. Just because you think they are old enough doesn’t mean they are emotionally prepared.

Remember to include your child in the camp decision-making process. If you choose an overnight camp, be sure they can spend the night away from home and can handle being away from you. (By the way, sleepovers at Grandma’s don’t count!) Discuss what to do if they get homesick.

Also, prepare them to meet people who are different from them. Let them know they will encounter bugs and other creepy-crawly things if camp is outdoors.

Each year, more than 14 million children go to camp. Parents say it greatly impacts their child’s ability to get along with others, willingness to learn something new and how they feel about themselves.

Summer camp can be a home away from home. And, when the camp is right for your child, it can provide great fun, lasting memories and personal discovery.

This article was originally published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on March 12, 2017.

If you have teens or college-age young adults, you’ve probably had (or soon will have) ongoing conversations about how they’ll spend their break.

As kids try to get permission (and money!) for the trip, you’ll hear phrases like these. “I’m almost an adult. This is a rite of passage.” Or, “It’s what college students do. We go to the beach and hang out.”

The pressure is on for sure.

But before you give in to that pressure, here is what research shows about spring break students:

  • The average male reported drinking 18 drinks per day, compared to 10 drinks for the average female.
  • Of the 783 young people surveyed, more than 50 percent of men and 40 percent of women said that they drank until they became sick or passed out at least once.
  • The U.S. Department of State fact sheet on “Spring Break in Cancun” states: “Alcohol is involved in the vast majority of arrests, accidents, violent crimes and deaths suffered by American tourists in Cancun.”

This has become a major issue on some Florida beaches. So much so, that places like Gulf Shores and Orange Beach police departments have taken precautionary measures to avoid problems. These cities have already posted open letters on Facebook to those planning to spend spring break there.

“We have said it before, but just so we are clear,” says one of the letters, “If your top priorities when visiting the beach are being drunk and disorderly; breaking what you consider to be small rules like underage drinking, littering and leaving glass on the beach, urinating in public, using drugs, or engaging in violent or indecent behavior, Gulf Shores is definitely not the place for you.”

Before you assume this is not an issue with your child, it’s helpful to remember that risk-taking peaks during adolescence. Instead of weighing risks based on logic and wisdom, teens are usually more concerned about how their choices will impact their peer relationships. They see being unaccepted relationally as a threat.

Scientists found that while a teen might make good choices when he is alone, adding friends to the mix changes things. It makes him more likely to take risks for the reward of relationship instead of considering the cost. Even if your teen generally makes great decisions, getting together with hundreds of other spring breakers can make it seem like the rewards of risk-taking outweigh any future consequences.

If your goal is for your spring breaker to be safe, here are a few things to consider:

  • Even if they don’t like the idea, you may decide to go along if you feel they aren’t ready to fly solo. It doesn’t mean you have to constantly hover over them. Checking in regularly with an adult can decrease the potential for poor decision-making.
  • Help unsupervised teens and young adults prepare well. Discuss their plans and where they are staying. Establish clear expectations about everything from social media and location check-in to communicating with you by phone at designated times.
  • Address the dangers of underage drinking, meeting up with strangers and the potential consequences (legal and otherwise) for poor choices. They also need to know how to protect themselves from sexual assault, date rape drugs and the like.

Ultimately, the goal is to keep your child, and those around your child, safe over spring break. We all know that one irresponsible decision or crazy social post can change the trajectory of a young person’s life.

Most of us would probably agree about one thing. It’s better to leave no stone unturned than to wish we had said something. Don’t be afraid to be “that parent.” You know, the one who encourages new experiences, knowing that a strong foundation can help them make the most of their opportunities.

This article was originally published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on March 5, 2017.

Any parent headed home with their first child is probably a bit nervous about this whole parenthood thing. You really want to raise good kids, but unfortunately, each unique baby doesn’t come with its own manual.

Whether you shop local or go to Amazon for parenting help, hundreds of books offer different perspectives on the best way to raise good children. In spite of the many approaches, however, a group of Harvard psychologists found that it really boils down to some very basic strategies.

1. Spend time with your children. 

It’s often tempting to be in the same room with your child as they play with toys or a computer while you check email or social media. That isn’t what the researchers are talking about. Engage them in play, look into their eyes and read a book with them. Learn about their friends, find out what they think about school and that sort of thing. By doing this, you’re teaching them how to show care for another person and that they are a priority to you.

2. Model the behavior you want to see. 

It’s easy to have one set of expectations for children and another set for adults. In some cases this makes sense, but when it comes to teaching your children, they are like sponges. They take in all you do. Everything from how you care for yourself and let others talk to you, to how you deal with a difficult personal situation or how you handle anger teaches them right from wrong and what it means to be an upstanding citizen. When you model the behavior you want to see, it is a powerful thing.

3. Show your child how to care for others and set high ethical expectations. 

Children believe the world revolves around them. When you involve them in caring for others, especially people who are different from you, they learn they will not always be the center of attention and that all people matter. They also see what it looks like to share with others without being selfish.

Even the little moments can teach your child about being an honest and ethical person. When the cashier gives you too much change and you return the money instead of keeping it, they see. Or when your child sneaks something in their pocket after you said they couldn’t have it and you make them return it and apologize – that’s a teaching moment.

 4. Teach your child to be appreciative and grateful. 

Parents usually start with please, thank you and you’re welcome. Giving your child age appropriate chores and thanking them for doing their part also teaches them about appreciation and gratitude. Teaching them how to write thank you notes and to think about others’ feelings and needs is also useful.

5. Teach them how to see beyond themselves. 

Find ways to show them a world beyond their family and close friends. Help them appreciate differences in ethnicity. Talk with them about other places in the world, rituals, customs, living conditions, etc. By doing this you are expanding their world.

The children in the Harvard study thought their own happiness and self-esteem was really important to their parents. Instead of being overly concerned that kids are always happy, you can emphasize how to be kind to others in their world, whether it’s the bus driver, the Walmart greeter or the referee at the sports event. Focusing on these things will help you raise children who are caring, kind, courageous and responsible.

This article was originally published in the Chattanooga Times Free Press on February 26, 2017.