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How to handle student-teacher conflicts for the benefit of your child's education

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - Conflict and disagreements are a part of life. As an adult you understand this and you employ skills that help you mitigate conflicts and avoid future disagreements. Your children, however, may not have developed these skills yet. That means they will rely on you for help in dealing with these situations. Your help is especially important when the disagreement involves your child’s teacher. Approaching this situation in the proper way is important. It provides a good example for your children and sets them up for a successful learning experience the rest of the school year.

“When parents are active in their child’s education, the child is likely to perform better academically in school,” says Dr. Deborah Hammond-Watts, an adjunct professor in the College of Education at Argosy University, Chicago. “A good working relationship between school and home sends the message to a child that his/her parents and the school work together for his/her educational and emotional benefit.”

When a child approaches a parent with an issue or comment related to school and/or the teacher, parents should be willing to listen and to not jump to conclusions. “Whether you believe what your child is telling you or not, it is important that your child knows you are willing to listen,” says Dr. Dominick Ferello, professor in the College of Arts & Sciences and College of Education at Argosy University, Tampa.

The next step is for the parent to reach out to the teacher directly. Request a conference or time to discuss the matter with your child’s teacher directly (without your child present) to gain some understanding as to what the teacher perceives the concern or issue to be. “When requesting to talk with a teacher, keep in mind that the teacher’s job is to teach the children in the classroom during the school day. Schedule an appointment to make certain that the teacher has time to speak with you. Showing up at school and demanding to see a teacher may not always work in your favor,” says Hammond-Watts.

“Try not to make assumptions about what is going on before you have an opportunity to meet with the teacher,” says Ferello. “The goal for the meeting is to gather information about what may be going on, as well as make it clear that you want to partner with the teacher in helping your child to feel that the focus is on their education and helping them succeed in the classroom,” says Ferello. “Even in some of the most difficult situations, a compromise can probably be reached if both the teacher and parent keep in mind that they are working for the benefit of the child in the educational setting,” says Hammond-Watts.

The reality is that teachers aren’t perfect and neither are parents, says Ferello. As such, the outcome may not always be what either party had hoped for. “Teachers are faced with questions and concerns from a number of parents and children on any given day,” says Ferello. “Given the number of students they teach and the demands placed on them, it’s not hard to imagine that even teachers can get frustrated. Given that parents naturally want to stand up for their children and see the best in and for them, it stands to reason that parent/teacher conversations can sometimes go in the wrong direction.”

“If that happens, it’s important to acknowledge that you got off on the wrong foot,” says Hammond-Watts. “To change the relationship or the conversation, someone needs to address the ‘bad start’ and be willing to start over. Either the parent or teacher can do this.”

If you and the teacher just cannot get along after much effort and frustration, the principal or another administrator may need to get involved. “The presence of a third party may assist both teacher and parent to try to communicate in a way that demonstrates less conflict,” says Hammond-Watts. “After the meeting, the principal/administrator can meet separately with the parent and teacher to critique the meeting and offer solutions toward a better working relationship. While the principal can instruct the teacher to work with the parent in a professional manner, the teacher needs to be sincere in any efforts to do so.”

Categories: Lifestyle

7 health myths that might surprise you

Tue, 09/16/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - Living a healthy life takes some resolve, but success often comes down to knowing what pays the biggest dividends for a given effort. Health coaches are great sources for this insight. They’ve seen it all on the job and learned a lot in their training.

To honor Employee Health and Fitness Month in May, health coaches for workplace well-being leader Provant identified seven commonly held health and wellness myths drawn from their research and experience:

Myth No. 1: An aerobic workout boosts your metabolism all day. Wrong, it just burns calories while you’re doing it. Muscle-strengthening exercises, however, will burn calories long after your workout.

Myth No. 2: If you don’t break a sweat, it’s not a workout. Wrong, sweat is just the body’s way of cooling itself. A better reflection of effort is the talk test: your workout is moderate if you can talk, but not sing, and vigorous if you need to take a breath every few words.

Myth No. 3: You should stretch before you exercise. Not really, you could hurt yourself. Better to stretch after you’re warmed up with light, smooth movement of gradually increasing intensity.

Myth No. 4: Frozen fruits and vegetables are less healthy than fresh ones. Actually, they’re both healthy. Frozen fruits and vegetables are generally picked and frozen at nutritional peak. Canned can be a fine choice if you’re watching your budget. Avoid fruits packed in syrup.

Myth No. 5: Cigars and chewing tobacco are safe because you don’t inhale. This is another myth. Cigar smokers have higher rates than nonsmokers of death from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and are four to 10 times more likely to die from cancers of the throat, mouth, lips, larynx and esophagus, according to the American Cancer Society. People who chew tobacco are more likely to develop oral cancers that affect the tongue, lips, cheeks and gums.

Myth No. 6: Stress happens. There’s nothing you can do about it. Not true, stress doesn’t have to overwhelm you. There are several approaches to managing it. Set priorities and tackle simple problems first. Then move on to complex difficulties. Practice relaxation exercises. Make yourself more resilient by eating smart, exercising and avoiding tobacco.

Myth No. 7: Cold turkey is the best way to quit tobacco. Nope. It’s just one of the ways to quit, and the more times you try to quit, the better your chances of succeeding. Research indicates to help improve success rates, you need: the desire and readiness to quit, some form of pharmacotherapy (nicotine replacement therapy or prescription medications) and social support (family, friends, health coach).

Keep this information in mind as you go about improving your health, and most importantly, don’t give up.

Categories: Lifestyle

Your credit scores: What you don't know could cost you

Wed, 09/03/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - Do you know what your credit scores are? If you don’t, you’re not alone. In fact, many people know very little about their credit scores, what they are or how they work. And they certainly don’t understand that having low credit scores can have a big impact on their future.

Are you one of these people?

Recent research from the Consumer Federation of America and VantageScore Solutions highlights some of the crucial credit score information most people don’t know. According to the survey that polled 1,000 American consumers, almost half of the respondents did not know that a credit score measures the risk of a person’s likelihood to default in 90 days, as opposed to factors such as knowledge of - or attitude toward - consumer credit. This is paramount, as lenders typically review a person’s various credit scores before authorizing a loan.  

The youth factor

Although people of all ages showed a lack of knowledge regarding important credit score information, the results show that the wider knowledge gap exists with Millennials (ages 18 – 34) than with older Americans.

Less than half of all Millennials understood that age was not used when calculating credit scores, according to the data. Meanwhile, more than 60 percent of adults (45-64) understood this.

Millennials also were less likely than older adults to know that credit scores are based on information collected by each of the three main credit bureaus.

“It isn’t a big surprise that consumers in the 45-60-year range know more than younger consumers about credit scoring, but the generation of consumers coming into the workforce is particularly challenged by massive student loans. A student loan is a great opportunity to help establish good credit for these consumers, but the concern is that many of these young adults could miss payments and begin their financial lives deep in debt with low credit scores, putting them in a difficult position,” says Barrett Burns, president and CEO of VantageScore Solutions.

Knowledge is power

Many people fail to realize how many different ways poor credit scores can affect their lives. Credit scores affect not only whether a person can receive a loan but also the interest rate a person pays for the loan.

The data shows that while the majority of all respondents understood that their credit scores would be reviewed by credit-card issuers and mortgage lenders, they did not know that electric utilities, home insurers, landlords and even cell phone companies may also review this information.

In short, a good credit score could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars in interest or rate payments when compared with possessing a poor score. If you want to improve your scores, the first step is to obtain your credit scores so you know where you stand. Not surprisingly, individuals who obtained their scores in the past year knew more about credit scores and how they are used by lenders in the market than those who didn’t obtain their scores in the last year.

“We know that education can help consumers improve their scores, and whatever the consumer’s age, our aim is to arm him or her with accurate, unbiased information and resources to help them become good managers of their credit,” Burns said.

To get a true picture of your credit status, it’s best to review your credit reports and credit scores from multiple sources.  Test your knowledge about credit scores at, which was created by VantageScore Solutions and Consumer Federation of America. Both the online quiz and a corresponding brochure are available in Spanish at

For more tips and resources to educate yourself regarding credit scores, visit the VantageScore Website. There you’ll find useful information regarding what impacts your credit score and how to be a good manager of your own credit.

Categories: Lifestyle

Family turns grief into action; offers advice for raising awareness for a cause

Tue, 09/02/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - Mother and rare disease advocate Lora Moore knows all too well the value of good health and how quickly it can slip away. In 2004, she tragically lost her 12 year-old daughter Lyndon to Hereditary Angioedema (HAE), a rare genetic disease characterized by repeated swelling attacks that can occur anywhere in the body such as the limbs, abdomen, face and even the throat, which can be life-threatening. Lora herself suffers from HAE, as does her oldest daughter Hillary. For their family, living in fear of the unpredictable swelling attacks of HAE is a way of life.

Lyndon’s untimely death was devastating to the Moore family, but inspired by the creation of the first-ever internationally recognized annual HAE Day on May 16, 2012, Lora and Hillary turned their grief into action.

“Lyndon had the kindest and most caring heart. She wanted everyone to feel happy,” said Lora. “We knew we had to do something to keep her memory and wonderful spirit alive.”

Beginning in 2012, Lora and Hillary organized an annual memorial walk in their hometown on HAE Day to raise awareness about HAE and honor Lyndon’s memory.

Having no event experience prior, they had little time to prepare for the inaugural memorial walk in 2012. Lora went door to door to local businesses trying to get as many sponsors as she could and also made T-shirts printed with a picture of a butterfly that Lyndon had drawn. As a result of her hard work and dedication, the memorial walk went on without a hitch and around 100 people came out to support the walk and celebrate the first HAE Day, all while raising funds for the U.S. Hereditary Angioedema Association (HAEA).

The next year, Lora enlisted the support of the HAEA to help coordinate the second annual ‘Lyndon Brooke Stidham Memorial Walk’ so that they could make an even bigger impact than the year prior. Not only did they double the number of participants, they raised four times the amount of money as the year prior.

Through their work to organize the walk, Lora and Hillary learned a number of valuable lessons that are applicable to anyone hoping to raise awareness for an important cause. These include:

* Tap relevant local and national organizations for help; they often have valuable experience and resources to leverage

* Use social media to help get the word out and don’t be shy about asking people to “share” the news; this can be a great (and inexpensive) way to raise awareness

* Local businesses are often looking for ways to help out the community; consider approaching them for donations of funds or items to help with your event (e.g., food and beverages or items for raffle prizes) or even to post flyers about your cause

* While organizing an event can be hard work, the rewards are immeasurable

For Lora, the walk provided more than just an opportunity to raise awareness and celebrate Lyndon. It also connected her with many others facing a similar challenge.

“It’s so empowering celebrating HAE Day with other HAE patients. Having a rare disease can sometimes make you feel alone and isolated, so bringing people together who can relate and share stories is incredible,” said Lora.

As for the future of the ‘Lyndon Brooke Stidham Memorial Walk,’ Lora’s dream is to take the memorial walk across America.

“I want to bring this event to people all over the U.S. so that we can continue to raise awareness about HAE across the country,” said Lora.

To learn more about HAE Day, visit To find a health care professional, visit, the official Web site of the U.S. Hereditary Angioedema Association.

This content provided courtesy of Shire.

Categories: Lifestyle

The growing burden of diabetes

Thu, 08/28/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - Next time you're looking around in a crowd, there is something you won't see that will be there - Type 2 diabetes. Most Americans have heard of the condition, but very few understand just how prevalent it has become across the nation. In fact, Type 2 diabetes affects at least one in every 10 Americans. That’s about 9.3 percent of the population or 29.1 million people and a dramatic increase from 2010 when 25.8 million people, or 8.3 percent, were living with diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If this growing health problem isn’t addressed, the CDC estimates it will affect one in every three Americans by 2050.

Diabetes also affects loved ones and places an unsustainable burden on the health care system. With current medical costs at $176 billion annually as reported by the American Diabetes Association, people with diabetes have, on average, 2.3 times higher medical expenditures. Factor in the $69 billion in indirect costs – disability, work loss, premature death – and you can understand the substantial burden diabetes represents in this country. Diabetes remains the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. Many of those who die are vulnerable because they are low-income, uninsured or under-insured individuals with limited access to quality health care. 

What’s being done?

Initiatives like the Alliance to Reduce Disparities in Diabetes, supported by the Merck Foundation, are helping tackle this problem. The Alliance works to improve the delivery and quality of care for people most affected by the disease. Working with national, regional and community partners, the Alliance is implementing programs to educate the public about diabetes prevention and teach people living with diabetes how to manage their condition and take charge of their health. Programs include diabetes management classes, home visits and cultural awareness/communication training for health care providers as well as innovative health care system changes to ensure that programs are sustained over time.

The Alliance is delivering hope to people with diabetes across the country with program sites in Camden, New Jersey; Chicago; Dallas; Memphis, Tennessee; and the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. People with diabetes who are enrolled in the Camden program have already seen a substantial reduction in the number of preventable hospital and emergency room visits. Patients enrolled across all five sites have also shown a decrease in blood sugar – an important step in preventing complications from diabetes. If similar programs were established across the country, cost savings could be considerable.

Know your risk

As the saying goes, you can’t manage what you don’t measure - so understanding your risk of diabetes is half the battle. Type 2 diabetes can affect people of any age in any region, but certain ethnic groups are more likely to be diagnosed with the disease than others.

In particular, African Americans are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes as non-Hispanic whites and more likely to experience complications. Diabetes is more prevalent among Hispanic populations as well. On average, Hispanics are 1.7 times more likely to have diabetes than non-Hispanic whites. Native Americans and Alaska Native adults are also twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes as non-Hispanic white adults.

While many vulnerable, underserved populations are at increased risk of diabetes, there is hope. Diabetes is a serious condition, but one that can be effectively managed by medication adherence, proper diet and exercise and receiving more coordinated health care. Initiatives like the Alliance are working to close gaps in access and improve the quality of health care for vulnerable populations. To learn more about diabetes and the work of the Alliance, visit the Alliance to Reduce Disparities in Diabetes website at

Simple tips to lower your risk of Type 2 diabetes
It is essential to seek advice from a medical professional if you feel you may be at risk for Type 2 diabetes. However, these steps presented in The Nutrition Source by the Harvard School of Public Health, may lower your chances of being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes:

* Stop smoking

* Lose excess weight

* Exercise for 30 minutes each day

* Eat healthy foods and limit excess sugar and processed meats

Categories: Lifestyle

Teaching kids to give back

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 12:00am

(BPT) - One of the most rewarding reasons to get involved in your community is to set a good example for your kids. Whether you donate money or time, giving back is beneficial, and not just for the recipients. The reward for your selfless acts can be a beautiful thing for both your community and your children’s future. But what are some of the ways you can teach kids to give back and what age should you begin encouraging them?

Giving back is just as much about volunteering as it is about philanthropy. Dr. Lois Winchell, child and family therapist at Argosy University, Sarasota, believes it should be a combination of both. “If we want our children to give back, our families need to be involved in multiple activities,” says Winchell. “These include volunteering resources and time and giving money when possible. Learning how to donate time can be a very powerful lesson for children because it is a giving of ourselves. This intimate experience can be significant and can often reap a more personal reward than the offering of money and things.”

As with everything else in life, kids learn best by example. The closer you can bring your child to the recipient of the gift, the more personal the experience becomes.

“Nurturing a sense of giving and making sure this is a value for your children starts as early as age 3 or 4,” says Winchell. “At this developmental age, we can teach them that others have feelings and that your child has an impact on those feelings. This sense of empathy is the underpinning of charity. The most significant impact on our children is what they actually see us doing as it relates to a giving spirit. As we engage in specific projects, we can have conversations with our children regarding why the project is important and who will benefit.”

Start by expanding their sense of environment, from the immediate family to their local community and eventually the world around them. A sense of awareness of something greater than themselves is important in raising a compassionate individual. This sense of responsibility to others and the environment as a world citizen can be supported by making children aware of others’ needs whether in visiting a shelter or a food banks with family members or simply helping younger siblings.

“From infancy to about 5 years old, children aren’t necessarily capable of thinking outside of themselves. Even so, parents need to foster their child’s sharing with others,” says Winchell. As children grow older they can begin volunteering and supporting community projects more directly. Whether they donate toys to a children’s shelter or simply participate in a walk for charity, these years are important for a child to learn the art of giving back. When they become teenagers, they can do even more for the community by assisting an elderly neighbor with his yard work or helping out at a local food bank or soup kitchen.

Additionally, it is important to convey the message that “giving back” does not include an expectation of getting something in return. Instead, highlight the sense of joy in being able to make someone happy and how those feelings are the greater gift.

“When a child experiences sharing and the serving of others, an internal sense of contentment and self-worth is experienced,” says Winchell. “This self-enhancement and sense of belonging is coincident with their giving and results in a benefit that cannot be gained any other way. This sense of happiness and accomplishment then contributes to their positive sense of self.” In other words, teaching kids to give back is one of the best things a parent can do for the community and the child.

Categories: Lifestyle
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