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News for Kids & Parents

Math can be as scary as spiders and snakes, at least in the brain of an 8-year-old child. And that early anxiety about dealing with numbers can put a child at a significant disadvantage, not only in school but in negotiating life and a career. Fortunately, a study of third-graders, published this week in theĀ Journal of Neuroscience, suggests an intervention that can help. One-on-one tutoring does more than teach kids, the researchers say. It calms the fear circuitry in the brain.
1 Tutor + 1 Student = Better Math Scores, Less Fear

As the evidence mounts of the negative effects of medical marijuana laws in various states, it’s even more important for parents to recognize that marijuana needs to be on their parenting radar screen.

The parents of teenagers’ friends can have as much effect on teens’ decisions about substance use as their own parents, a new study suggests.

If the parents of a teenager’s friends are not aware of their own child’s alcohol or drug use, or condone it, then it is more likely the teen will drink or smoke, the study found.

“Among friendship groups with ‘good parents’ there’s a synergistic effect – if your parents are consistent and aware of your whereabouts, and your friends’ parents are also consistent and aware of their (children’s) whereabouts, then you are less likely to use substances,” study author Michael Cleveland at Penn State University, said in a news release. “But if you belong to a friendship group whose parents are inconsistent, and your parents are consistent, you’re still more likely to use alcohol.”

The study included 9,000 ninth graders, who were asked about their closest friends, their parents’ discipline, and whether their parents knew who their friends were, HealthDay reports. The researchers broke the teens down into about 900 groups of friends. A year later, the teens were surveyed about their substance use.

The researchers found substance use in tenth grade was significantly related to parenting behavior of friends’ parents. This was true even after taking into account the effects of the teenagers’ own parents’ behaviors, and their friends’ substance use.

“I think that it empowers parents to know that not only can they have an influence on their own children, but they can also have a positive influence on their children’s friends as well,” said Cleveland. “And that by acting together – the notion of ‘it takes a village’ – can actually result in better outcomes for adolescents.”

The study appeared in the May 2012 Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

"Parental Involvement in Homework: A Review of Current Research and Its Implications for Teachers, After School Program Staff, and Parent Leaders" from the Harvard Family Research Project. October 2004, 10 pages.
read pdf


  • They are not finished yet
  • They act more powerfully than they feel
  • They assume they are not capable when the pieces don't fit – high expectations
  • They may not have learned the language to talk about or be aware of what they are feeling
  • They honestly did forget because they are usually in "in the moment" mode
  • Boys brains aren't fully developed until 22 – Girls around 18
  • Stress is real in their lives – skills may not be
  • Some behaviors are aggressive defenses because the world may not be safe
  • Adolescence is not contagious and IT WILL PASS – one way or another!


A good resource for parents:

The Children's Room is a center for bereaved children and teenagers and the adults who are part of their lives. It provides a caring and safe environment in which bereaved families can learn from each other to deal with their grief and find ways to heal.

Hear and read a three-part NPR series on a study of the sex lives of adolescents ages 12 to 14, 14 and Younger: The Sexual Behavior of Young Adolescents. Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

Dr. Robert Brooks is one of today's leading speakers on the themes of resilience, self-esteem, motivation, and family relationships. His newsletter can be found at here.

Chocolate Festival, March 2008

New Year's Party December 2007