Kids need help and tools to succeed

1. Make sure your kids get enough sleep. The lack of sleep has been
linked to a variety of physical and emotional problems in both kids and
adults. Sleep deprivation has been associated with childhood obesity,
memory impairment and poor impulse control.
While individual needs may vary, here are the recommendations from
the National Sleep Foundation on the number of hours needed by our kids:
toddlers, 12 to 14 hours; preschoolers, 11 to 13 hours; school-age children,
10 to 11 hours; and adolescents, 9 to 10 hours.

2. Set limits on technology. Limit television and computer usage on
school nights. Make certain that homework is completed accurately before
the television is turned on. Texting with friends throughout the late evening
can be a problem for some teens.

3. Stay involved in your kids’ academic world, but don’t make it
your responsibility. Homework, studying, navigating issues with teachers
and solving peer problems are your children’s responsibilities, not yours. Act
as a good coach, offering advice, giving encouragement, setting standards
and applying consistent consequences. Your job is to teach responsibility and
good problem-solving skills, not to create a dependency on you.

4. Put families first. Things get really busy for families during the
school year, with numerous school-related activities. Learn to say no to
some of these events. If you are not having meals together as a family at
least three nights a week, you are doing something wrong.

5. Pay attention to your children’s friendships. Peers have an
incredible influence on your children’s values and behavior. Get to know your kids’ friends and their parents. Make your home kid-friendly so your child
feels comfortable having his friends over at your house.
By the time your child is a preteen, it’s difficult to influence their
friendships. Avoid criticizing your child’s choice of friends, but don’t be
reluctant to compliment or condone values or behavior that is different from
what you find acceptable.

6. Help out at school. This is a great way to give back to your
community as well as stay connected with what is going on in your child’s

7. Keep a balanced perspective. All students are not academically gifted,
and college is not a good choice for everyone. Grades matter, but they do not
reflect your value as a person or the contribution you will make to society.
Focus on helping your child develop a good work ethic, high moral
standards, trusting relationships and a positive attitude.
With those attributes, your child will live a meaningful life even if he doesn’t
get outstanding grades in school.

This article was previously published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.