Category Archives: Education

Parenting Adult Children Today

Was it stressful sometimes having to change dirty diapers almost every two hours? It even worsened when your beloved child became a teenager; he or she used to be rebellious and gave you sleepless nights. Time flew by and now your “child” has grown into an adult. What happens when you realize he or she is making a serious mistake? Will you scold him/her like the teenager you used to have? I am certain this will ruin your cordial relationship with him/her.

Everybody wishes to have his/her adult child as their best friend, but this will not come easy, unless you recognize their status as adults and also learn to treat them with the same level of respect you will give to other adults. This will definitely strengthen the bond between you two. Now your child is ready to settle down but his/her choice of spouse makes you want to force some sense into their heads, so how do you handle such a situation? You may try to talk with your child about your concerns but please try to maintain a respectful tone to avoid seeing your own blood rebel against you! If talking it out with them will not help then you will have to accept the bitter reality, and just accept and respect the spouse.

Visiting your children at their homes will definitely put smiles on their faces, “your presence is more important than your presents”… but you will also have to inform them of your visit. This will definitely create a good environment between you and your child`s family. Making surprise visits may seem fun but also keep in mind that your child is now an adult and his/her privacy should be respected. If they are still living under your roof you may have to involve them in running the household. This does not mean that you should make them pay rent… letting them buy some groceries, utilities and sometimes pay the water bills will not break a bone.

Gone are the days when you used to have the final say! They are no longer small kids, therefore when having family discussions you will have to listen to what they have to say and respect their ideas. If you do not agree with any of their advices you will have to respectfully talk to them and try to nicely talk them into buying your ideas. Undertaking important issues concerning the family without informing them will definitely drive them away from you!

It reaches a point when your adult child will ask you for a loan. Remember you are their best friend! and they definitely count on you. So how do you go about it? If you are not in a position to help out just be honest about it… they are adults and they will understand. If you can swing it then be transparent about it and inform your other children. This will prevent sibling rivalry. Then set a repayment schedule. By granting them loans you are turning them into very independent people. Parenting adult children is much easier than handling teenagers. Despite their adult status, they will still be your babies, and you should lend a helping hand when needed.

Why Scrabble Is A Great Game For Young Children

As most people know, Scrabble is a game where you have to spell out words on a board in order to earn points. Certain letters are worth more points than others and certain spaces on the board are worth more points than others. But Scrabble also represents a great educational opportunity for young children. It is obvious that Scrabble teaches children new words and expands their vocabulary, but Scrabble has other benefits that may not be obvious at first glance.

#1: Scrabble Improves Young Children’s Spelling

Part of the gameplay is having to spell words correctly. When young children play the game, they are forced to spell their words correctly, otherwise they do not receive points for them. Spelling words correctly will become an integral part of a child’s growth because spelling mistakes are often frowned upon in writing. As young children play Scrabble over a period of time, they expand their vocabulary and learn to spell more complex words correctly. This will really help children in the future.

#2: Scrabble Motivates Children To Learn More Vocabulary

This is different from the previous statement made that Scrabble expands a child’s vocabulary because this point is meant to indicate that children are more motivated to learn new words. As children continue to develop their gameplay skills, they will realize that they must learn new and complex words if they are to win. Children are willing to look in the dictionary more often and look for new words that are longer in length and will help them score more points. Over time, this will help improve their motivation to learn new words in general and not just for the game itself.

#3: Scrabble Also Represents A Parent’s Opportunity To Teach The Child New Vocabulary

Board games represent an opportunity for families to come together and bond. Scrabble is no exception. Whenever parents play with their children, it gives them a great chance to teach their kids new words. It is hard nowadays to sit kids down and motivate them to learn. Thus, it is advisable to keep the child busy in a game setting where they can have fun and learn at the same time. Scrabble accomplishes just that.

Value Of Books In Character Development In Children

Reading is a fun and interactive way to bond with kids. Experts recommend reading a good book to a young child every day. It is usually done before a child goes to sleep. It is an excellent way to end the day as it leaves the kid’s imagination flowing with wonderful thoughts. Moreover, reading books to children aloud can help cultivate creativity and expand vocabulary and reading skills. Children are curious beings and they love to hear new stories, see beautiful pictures and illustrations. Parents use books to help their children develop good character traits like courage, kindness and obedience.

Story Telling Books Mold Character

Stories have been an important part of man’s life. Before, stories were passed on by word of mouth. Now, there are so many kinds of books available, thanks to the invention of the printing press in 1440. Story telling books today ranges from fairy tales, princess and prince books, fables, parables, folklore and so on. Millions of parents around the globe still use these story books to teach moral lessons to their little ones. Goldilocks and the three bears and Little Red Riding Hood are two of the most popular books of all time. These books teach kids different values which are applicable to all aspects of life. Goldilocks and the three bears talks about respect of others property and privacy. Little Red Riding Hood, on the other hand warns children of the danger of talking to strangers.

Fables And Parables

Parables illustrate life lessons and instructive principles. The Bible’s New Testament provides a number of parables that Jesus taught himself while he is still on earth. One of the most significant parables in the bible is the Prodigal Son, which teaches about the love of the Father to his children. Fables, on the other hand, are very much like a parable but the difference is that it uses animals in the story. Aesop is credited for a number of popular fables today. Thus, the name Aesop’s Fables become a popular household name. Aesop, according to research was Greek slave and story-teller believed to have lived between 620 and 560 BC. Some of his famous stories are “The Dog and the Wolf”, which teaches the importance of being free, “The Bear and the Two Travelers” which talks about sincerity of friends.

Evolution Of Books

For years, books have greatly evolved. Before, books are part of every kid’s bedtime routine. Children anticipate eagerly the first page of the book that their parents will read to them. Each book has a new story to tell. Children are intrigued to see how each story will end. Will the princess meet his prince charming? Will the frog turn to a handsome prince? On the other hand, with the advancement of technology, some children are no longer accustomed of having good books around the house. More parents and educators rely on the power of the internet to teach young minds to explore. Yes, having educational other educational materials and gadgets around the house is good. Then again, it is refreshing to see kids enjoying reading books. Certainly, the experience of feeling the hard covers of the book and the crisp turning of pages is different from just clicking on pages.

Though, books have evolved in form, it is still relevant today. Parents and educators alike still use books as part of instruction and grounding materials for development of moral and character to children.

Homeschooling Children with Autism: 5 Reasons Why It Works

As a homeschooling parent of a child with autism, I am often asked, “How do you do it?” It takes dedication, planning, and research, of course, but I find that it is not all that difficult when I remember why I do it.

There are 5 primary reasons why homeschooling is the best option for my child:

1. One-to-one instruction provides for optimal learning.

It is a generally-accepted educational principle that the lower the teacher-to-student ratio, the more effective the teaching can be. Most parents realize that the more students a teacher has, the less attention and direct instruction each student will receive from the teacher. One-to-one instruction is always preferred for private lessons or tutoring because the lessons can be customized to the student’s ability in order to maximize their progress in the shortest amount of time.

Homeschooling or private tutoring offers a child with autism the opportunity to make the most of their learning potential. The child receives more direct instruction time, immediate feedback, and teaching that is tailored to their learning style and strengths. Due to the individualized instruction he or she receives, the child with autism is able to experience success on a daily basis which helps improve their self-esteem. Feelings of success are something that many children with autism do not experience in a typical school setting.

2. The environment can be adapted to the child’s sensory needs.

In a home setting, it is much easier to control the learning environment. Unlike a classroom situation where other students can be a big distraction from learning, homeschooling parents can structure an environment that is best suited to their child’s needs. Whether it is a quiet room, special lighting, background music, or breaks for sensory issues, the home can be an ideal educational setting.

3. Homeschooling offers flexible scheduling.

With fewer distractions and more direct instruction, home-schooled students require less of their time to be spent on schoolwork. There is no time wasted on the taking of attendance, class announcements, student reprimands, repetitive teaching on a subject the student has already mastered, etc.

The school day can also be planned around the child’s best time for learning. Some children with autism are “night-owls” by nature and have a difficult time going to bed early and getting up early for school. We can adjust our hours of instruction to correspond with the times that the child is naturally most alert and able to focus. We can also schedule shorter learning sessions throughout the day with plenty of breaks as needed. Shorter sessions also promote greater intensity and concentration on academic tasks resulting in the child retaining more of the material being taught.

Most parents quickly realize that another benefit of homeschooling is the fact that you can plan field trips during the week when places are less crowded. This is a big advantage for children with autism who may not do well with large groups of people.

4. The child has a better opportunity for positive socialization.

All socialization is not beneficial for our children. In schools, you must take the bad with the good. In a home setting, parents have more say in determining when their children are ready for specific social situations. For more on the topic of schools and socialization, see my article entitled, “Social Skills and Autism – Where’s the Best Place for Socialization?”

5. The child’s interests can be incorporated into their schoolwork.

Anything that your child is interested in can form the basis for their studies. In homeschooling circles, this is referred to as unit studies. You take any topic of interest and design a complete educational program around that topic. This approach works well for reluctant learners who say that school is boring.

For my family, homeschooling is a great time-saver that allows us to focus our attention on constructive social opportunities, educational field trips, and practical daily living skills. We don’t have to worry about which teacher our child is going to have every year nor do we have to spend most of the year trying to help the teacher “get to know” our child and their needs. We don’t have to fight the school district for services or for the correct implementation of services that were promised. We don’t have to waste our time going back and forth to school or to school-related meetings. Simply put, homeschooling offers my son with autism a method of instruction that works efficiently and effectively to enable him to achieve his highest potential.

Teeth Can Predict Future Mental Health of Children, Says Study

Archaeologists have used teeth since long to reveal information related to lifestyle, cause of death, and ancient civilizations. However, a recent study reported by the Daily Mail suggested that teeth can also give us information about the future. Researchers have found that teeth can predict the susceptibility to mental health disorders like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and depression, in children.

The lost milk teeth of six-year-olds were scrutinized and it was found that children with thin enamel might be at the risk of developing attention deficient issues. Lead author, Dr. Erin Dunn, a psychiatrist at the Massachusetts General Hospital, said that while a discovery like this could be commonplace for archaeologists, it is extraordinary in psychiatry as it opens the gate to an entirely new outlook for screening mental health disorders, which are on the rise.

Differences in dimension and teeth quality better predictors of mental health

Dr. Dunn stated that it was something they had never seen or thought of before. Her team comprised anthropologists, public health practitioners, and archaeologists and she presented her work at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAs) in Washington.

The researchers asked 37 parents from California to donate the teeth of their 6-year-olds when they fell off. Each tooth was examined using high resolution imaging. This analysis was later extrapolated to study the behavior of kids. Compared to other biomarkers that a psychiatrist would look for usually, teeth quality and differences in dimension were found to be better predictors of mental health.

Scientists across fields need to work together

Dr. Dunn shared that it was important that scientists across fields worked together as it would add more dimensions to a research. She added that scientists usually had a tendency to get isolated and worked with people from the same field. For example, psychiatrists worked only with psychiatrists and psychologists worked only with psychologists. People generally refrained from moving across disciplines or exploring other related facets in a research.

Dr. Dunn stated that this study is a proof of the fact that there is a need for more interdisciplinary science and how more efforts can provide one with the opportunities to view things from different angles which might be completely unexpected.

Warning signs of a mental illness in adolescents and teens

Sometimes, it can be really difficult to tell if a child or teen’s behavior is a normal part of growing up or something else. If the symptoms lasts for weeks or months, it warrants a visit to a healthcare professional. Some of the warning signs of a mental illness are:

  • Feeling extremely anxious and worried all the time
  • Throwing tantrums and getting irritable
  • Having frequent headaches, stomachaches and other unexplained aches
  • Trouble sleeping with frequent nightmares
  • Low or no energy
  • Avoiding friends
  • Smoking, drinking or using drugs
  • Engaging in self-harm and other risky behaviors
  • Losing interest in things used to enjoy previously
  • Having trouble doing well in school or sports

Road to recovery

Good mental health is important for the overall well-being of children as well as teens, as these are their growing years and they shape the future personality of the child. For many adults experiencing mental health problems, the symptoms were present when they were growing up but were undiagnosed or ignored. It is therefore, important that a mental health disorder is detected early and receives timely diagnosis.

Children Can Benefit From Chiropractic Care

When watching children in every day play and activities it is obvious and noticeable that they are more active than most adults. It may seem inconceivable that they are subject to the same injuries and maladies as adults. This appears especially so in the case of lower back pain. However, a recent research study investigated lower back pain prevalence among children and found spinal pain to be a common condition. This article will describe low back pain disorders of children and adolescents and a potential solution.

Children and adolescents tend to be very active. When one observes children, especially those in the juvenile age group, they always seem to be in motion. When of their own volition, they seem never to be sitting still, standing or even walking. They are almost always running, skipping, hopping and jumping. Constant movement appears to be their default setting. One would presume that vigorous physical movement makes them happy, joyous and brings them their greatest pleasure.

Because of this exuberance it is hard to believe that children and adolescents could be potential candidates to develop lower back pain. Yet, a research study published BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, March 2017 found that spinal back pain is common among adolescents and children. The study monitored schoolchildren ages 8 to 15 for three years. It found 55% experienced one or more episodes of spine pain during that time. Though most children had only a few short-lasting episodes of spinal pain, more than one out of five children had three or more episodes during each study year, and 17% of all episodes lasted for more than a month. This led the investigators to note that spinal pain is a substantial problem among children.

To be sure most lower back pain episodes in children are short-lived and on an occasional basis only. But a number of juveniles and adolescents are known to have reoccurring and chronic conditions of pain in the back. Unfortunately, children with lower back pain tend to become adults with back pain. Chronic lower back musculoskeletal pain in adults is a significant problem in the United States. These individuals tend to require more healthcare and more healthcare monetary expenditures. They tend to suffer more disability which creates a burden to family and institutional caregivers. They may not be able to hold employment and therefore require government disability coverage in payments.

It is to everyone’s advantage to try to prevent or minimize our population from having chronic lower back pain. One way this can be accomplished is through chiropractic care for children. Chiropractors are trained to evaluate and treat children with musculoskeletal pain. The care that a doctor of chiropractic provides is safe, nonsurgical, drug-free and cost-effective.

The chiropractic profession has been helping people of all ages who suffer from musculoskeletal disorders like pain of the back for over 122 years. That certainly qualifies as a track record of success!

Why Our Children Will Die Too Soon

After decades of advancements in modern day medicine, why are mortality rates increasing in 2016? Regrettably, today’s parents can expect to live longer lives than their children, a sad commentary on today’s lifestyle. Bottom line… the obesity epidemic amongst the children of America is shortening their lifespan, causing mortality rates to head in the wrong direction.

America’s first lady has been championing the anti-obesity cause in America’s schools. Of course public school officials should remove access to sugary high calorie beverages from our nation’s cafeterias. However, our children spend less than 20 percent of their time in the classrooms. What good does it do when a child can’t drink high calorie beverages in school when their home refrigerator is full of sugar laden beverages?

I recently heard someone ask “what was the most important thing we can teach our children?’ The answer was to teach our children how to be when they leave us. In other words, prepare them for life when they’re out on their own. Remembering my early years as a parent, I knew my daughters were learning about life “through my eyes”. I was always aware of the responsibility I felt as a role model. And that is what I would hope would be at the top of the job description list of every parent, as a caring teacher of our children.

For today since this is an article about obesity and mortality rates, this is my plea to the parents of young children. The national focus encouraging healthier diets in public schools has placed a spotlight on America’s obesity crisis. Indeed, inaction on the matter will have startling results, including a lifespan for members of our newest generation from two to five years lower than that for the previous generation, according to the New England Journal of Medicine. Think about this for a moment-with all the medical advances our society has produced; this generation’s children will have life expectancies less than their parents. The glaring culprit is in my mind, fast food (I have never seen a child turn down a french fry), video games, and other screen activities that discourage physical activity.

And, whenever we hear about the high incidence of obesity, we’re reminded of today’s diabetes epidemic. In the U.S., diabetes affects tens of millions of Americans, costs some $174 billion a year, and ranks as the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. And studies indicate that the greatest risk factor for type 2 diabetes is being overweight, a characteristic shared by 85 percent of diabetics. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, nine in ten cases of type 2 diabetes could be prevented through exercise, healthier diets, smoking cessation, and other healthy behaviors. Even modest weight loss has been found to help people with diabetes achieve and sustain blood glucose control and live healthier, longer, and more active lives.

Complications from diabetes, as reported by the Defeat Diabetes Foundation, are legion. Most troubling, in my opinion, is that diabetes sufferers are 65 percent more likely than their peers to develop Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, high proportions of people with diabetes incur damage to their nervous system, including carpal tunnel syndrome and impaired sensation in their feet or hands. And people with diabetes are two to four times more likely than others to develop heart disease and six times more likely to suffer a stroke. Not surprisingly, people with diabetes live an average of six fewer years than their nondiabetic peers. All this from a condition that more often than not can be prevented by reducing consumption of the sugar, carbohydrates, and processed foods so prevalent in the American diet.

Point being, parents of young children in the U.S. need to fully acknowledge and understand the health risks their children are facing today and in the years to come. They’re facing the challenge of being overweight and the increased chances of becoming a child diabetic. A young diabetic today will face a 65% greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease in their later years. Moreover, a diabetic lives six years less than non-diabetics. Diabetic children have a much greater health disparity than people without disabilities.

The message is very loud and clear. But it must be heard, understood, accepted and acted upon! The key to good parenting begins with loving our children yet we must take it one step further. We need to start with accepting that we control how long our children will live. We hold their mortality in the palm of our hands. When we pacify them with French fries and sugary drinks, WE ARE GUARANTEEING to help shorten their life span. They’ll die too soon and long after we’re gone. Is this the legacy you want to leave with your children? I hope not.

Copyright 2016

Allan Checkoway, RHU

Children Found Raised By Dogs

The topic of feral children has fascinated me for several years. Now, to find out that two children were found in the Ukraine, living amongst wild dogs; has further provided researchers with questions regarding language development and human psychology.

Victor: The First Feral Child Documented

Victor was an 11 year old boy found in January 1800 near Saint Sernin sur Rance, in southern France. Victor survived 11 years by living in the forest; he crawled around on all fours and snuck food from people’s gardens.

It is thought, that since he had no human contact for the first 11 years of his life that he probably gained the social skills that he had from animals. He did not wear any cloths and his body had several old and new scars from living in the wild.

When found, Victor could not speak human language. Researchers at the time tried to re-socialize Victor to more appropriate social norms of the time and tried to teach him language. They made barely minimal progress.

Victor lived to age 40, which was probably the average life span of that time. He was never able to be socialized to live the type of life that most of us would think of as normal and healthy. Since Victor’s case, psychologists and sociologists have been very interested in language development in cases of social neglect.

Feral Children in Modern Society

In 1991 an 8 year old girl was found in Novaya Blagoveschenka, Ukraine. Her name was Oxanna Malaya. At the time she was discovered living in the backyard of her family home in a dog kennel.

She had befriended the dogs in the yard and basically took on their behaviors and actions. She walked on all fours, growled and barked. She would defend the territory in an aggressive display similar to that of an angry dog. She had minimal human language abilities, but would communicate like her canine companions through animal-type actions.

Also, in Mirny, Ukraine in 1999, a young boy was discovered, named Edik. Edik was 4 years old at the time he was discovered. Edik was living in a run-down apartment on his own, in a very poverty stricken area of the Ukraine.

He had wild dogs co-habitating in the apartment with him, some say at any given time he had at least three dogs with him.

Researchers believe that it was the symbiotic relationship between the human and animals that strengthened the bond, and created the “pack” mentality between the boy and the dogs. The dogs found that the boy would provide some source of food, regardless of how infrequent; which meant that the dogs did not have to hunt. In exchange, the dogs provided the boy with affection and companionship.

What Have Oxanna and Edik Accomplished Today?

Today, Oxanna and Edik are not classified as true feral children because of their previous human socialization and the fact that they did have some basic language skills early on.

But to this day, their language skills still lag behind their chronological development to this day. Researchers believe that Oxanna’s language skills will always lag behind other people her age because she was discovered past the age where the brain can regain those skills to full functional capacity.

Edik on the other hand has made good progress. His language skills as still behind other children his own age. But researches believe that he will be able to regain enough language that he will function well in society. They believe it is solely based on the fact that he was discovered young enough that the brain can still learn the basic foundation needed for language development.

Today, Oxanna and Edik live in care homes where they interact with other people and staff. Both Oxanna and Edik have dogs at the homes where they live so they can still enjoy them as pets. They are no longer dependent on these animals for survival so their relationship with the animals has changed a lot.

Both Oxanna and Edik now walk on 2 legs, like the rest of us and wear clothing in a socially appropriate way. It took months and years for both of them to learn these basic social norms. An update from 2010 indicates that Oxana is now trying to locate her birth mother and father to learn more about herself.

Children – The Building Blocks of Every Nation

I saw him lying half-awake under a push cart. His tender and fragile face told me that something must be making him sleepless – something must have been bothering him at such a young age when other children of his age don’t have to carry the weight of the world. I was to have a series of such sleepless night when I was haunted by the image of that boy. Here I was lying on a neatly made bed, my hunger satisfied with homemade food and an air conditioner whirring, thinking about that boy. I wondered how many such children are out there in my locality and across the entire nation. His image – poorly clad with the body left to the mercy of the blood sucking insects – contrasted with the eternal bliss I was living in was more disturbing. I was trying hard not to ruminate about the boy; thankfully the chores at the office let me go easy on myself for a while.

I could not erase the image of the boy from my thoughts for days together. Whenever I bumped into kids of the same age I thought about him. For me he represented the society’s poverty and indifference towards the future generation. We are so lost in the maddening crowd and so caught up in the race of life to stand out, pause and ponder.

When we are deeply involved in the thoughts of succession at work place and economic or social development that we let the governments take care of other issues and do not even think for a minute who would address the core issues of poverty, lack of basic civic amenities and even basic education for children? These incidents made me see beyond and think how one could take the responsibility of these issues and work on them rather than fret at the sight of kids who are seen on the streets either begging or getting flogged accused of stealing? They are deprived of their childhood; their dreams crushed under child labour and exploitation as sex workers. Basic education and healthy life are their fundamental rights but who will fight for their cause?

Do you know there are *an estimated 158 million children aged 5-14 engaged in child labour in India which is one in six children in the world is a child labour. Millions of children are engaged in hazardous situations or conditions, such as working in mines, working with chemicals and pesticides in agriculture or working with dangerous machinery. They are everywhere but invisible, toiling as domestic servants in homes, labouring behind the walls of workshops, in plantations hidden from public view.

*Nearly 13 per cent of all children in South Asia are engaged in child labour which equals around 44 million. Of these children, 29 million live in India, where the child labour rate is 12 per cent. Within India itself there are vast divergences between states in the incidence of child labour, ranging from 32 per cent in Gujarat to 3 per cent in Goa and Kerala.

If these kids are the future, who will develop them into strong pillars that supports the very existence of our nation?

With these lingering thoughts I and my friends sat back sharing our concern for some Chai-biscuits. I realized that even they shared similar concerns and ideas on the same issue. Many of the like minded friends offered to help volunteer for this cause and wanted to put in time and effort to bring a change in the lives of such underprivileged kids. but that was not it. This was a temporary solution. What happens when we have transformed our lives growing professionally and personally with a shift from Chai-biscuits to green tea & Cookies like a sophisticated social being? What would happen when this passion and concern just dies out like any other interest in our life due to work and personal qualms?

This is a question which each and every citizen of this country or any nation facing similar development issues should address to create a harmonious and equitable society and develop a sustainable solution for the future.

There are numerous NGO’s coming up that work for the development of such underprivileged section of the society with support of International agencies to mainly provide education and other fundamental rights. For example Paatshala, an NGO involving youth towards buiding a better tomorrow. An well designed model for Private- Public Participation (PPP) would work wonders for growth of any developing nation. May be the first step towards taking up responsibility would be to collaborate with such NGO’s to create a better environment socially and economically and a school of thought for the younger generations to blossom and grow.

(*Data gathered from UNICEF statistics on Child Labour in South Asia)

To know more on Paatshala and latest programs visit: http://www.paatshala.org/

Mentoring Children

All parents hope that their children will grow up healthy, happy, and productive. They aspire to have children who have the skills to contribute to their own well-being and to the well-being of their families and community. There is no magic bullet for developing these capacities in children. Literally thousands of programs have been developed to support families in their efforts to help children to become competent, confident, caring young people who have positive social connections and good characters.

Children have the potential to succeed in life and contribute to society. However, not all children get the support they need to thrive. By all estimates, an astounding 17.6 million young people – nearly half the population between 10 and 18 years of age – live in situations that put them at risk of not living up to their potential. Without immediate intervention by caring adults, they could make choices that undermine their futures. The presence of caring adults offering support, advice, friendship, reinforcement and constructive examples has proved to be powerful tools for helping young people fulfill their potential.

Mentoring is a structured and trusting relationship that brings young people together with caring individuals who offer guidance, support and encouragement aimed at developing the competence and character of the mentee. A mentor is an adult who, along with the parents, help young people bring out strengths that are already there. They are good listeners, compassionate and teach children how to live an honorable life. A mentor is not a foster parent, therapist, parole officer, or cool peer. The role of a mentor is not to “fix” young people but rather to help them achieve their full potential. Enforcing competence, confidence, connection, character, caring, and contribution to self and society, help develop a child into a productive and respectful adult in later years.

A mentor’s main purpose is to help a young person define individual goals and find ways to achieve them. Since the expectations of each child will vary, the mentor’s job is to encourage the development of a flexible relationship that responds to the young person’s needs. Using influence and resources as a decision maker, adults can bring new hope to young lives through the power of mentoring. A mentor encourages positive choices, promotes high self-esteem, teaches respect for oneself and family, supports academic achievement, and introduces the young person to new ideas. Youth who meet regularly with their mentors are 46% less likely than their peers to start using illegal drugs and 27% less likely to start drinking alcohol (Public/Private Ventures study of Big Brothers Big Sisters). About 40% of teenager’s waking hours are spent without any companionship or supervision. Mentors provide children and teens with a valuable place to spend free time. Children learn to make thoughtful choices, fulfill their commitments, acknowledge their mistakes and account for their actions. By taking control of their lives, children realize they can achieve more than they ever dreamed possible.

I encourage you to think of the mentors in your own life-a coach, teacher, or another caring adult, and take a few minutes to consider all the contributions they made in your life during your developing years. I know throughout my own adult life and business career, I have been greatly rewarded by years of mentoring children and young adults into productive, happy individuals that are successful in life. Children need someone to believe in them. Often times, children lack the attention needed to reinforce morals, values and self esteem on a daily basis. It makes all the difference in the world during times of indecision in their lives to have that reinforcement. Mentoring develops children into young adults who have confidence, determination and self-awareness.

Mentoring is recognized throughout the US as an important part of a child’s life and some states have already proposed legislation to the Senate. The Coalition of State Mentoring Partnerships has worked closely with Capitol Hill staff and Senators to advocate this legislation. The Mentoring for All Act 2008 (S. 3200) is one of the most significant legislation actions to benefit mentoring. Please call; send emails or letters to your Senators urging support for the bill.