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Where did summer go? In just a few short weeks, buses will be en route, children will be anticipating that first day, and parents will be gathering all of those needed school supplies. So what’s the best way to prepare your children for that first day of school?

Children going into kindergarten can have a lot of anxiety about what school will be like. In many cases that anxiety can be parent-imposed as parents struggle with the new found role of their “babies.” Saying goodbye while your most precious cargo sails into the sunset on that big yellow school bus can invoke lots of feelings. The number of parents holding back tears can be equal to those children shedding them. The best way to prepare your child for their first day of school is to first prepare yourself parents. Assess how you feel in all of this. If you’re feeling anxious or fearful, address your feelings with a trusted friend or loved one — away from the ear shot of your children. The only thing your children should hear from you about school is positive reinforcement. ‘Oh, wow, you get to have a new teacher! You get to make new friends. It can be like a great adventure finding where the art class, bathroom and lunchroom are.” Everything can be spun positively… everything! It’s an enormous burden for children to have to shoulder the emotional roller coaster of their parents. Being mindful of what we bring to the dynamics is key.

Listen, with three children of my own, one of which is entering kindergarten this year, I certainly can be one of those parents if I do not practice self-awareness. After all, these are our babies, we nurtured, protected and sheltered them from harm. What is amazing is the adaptability of children, even very young ones. I can say I have witnessed thousands of young children enter into the school building each year for the first time who transition well and show great resiliency to change and new endeavors. The best way to prepare your young one emotionally for the start of the new school year, is to start with being mindful of how we present their impending new adventure.

Tenise Wall, LMSW has been serving the Hudson Valley since 2002. She is a Licensed Master Social Worker having obtained a Master’s Degree from Fordham University. She is the award recipient of the 2009 Orange County Tribute to Women of Achievement in the area of Education. She is the author of Pain to Purpose www.WallProfessionalServices.org.  If you have a blogging topic of interest or a question for me to answer, you could contact me at tenise@wallprofessionalservices.org.

 

Have you noticed your pre-teen or adolescent speaking in text talk “Like OMG Mom!” I think many parents battle with the constant challenge of keeping up with what’s new in the lives of our children. But it’s not all bad.

Take these tips:

Forget the unlimited talk plans for their cell phones and go with the unlimited text. There are some children who are able to communicate more readily and easily through texting than a verbal conversation. Kids are drawn to texting because it allows for them to have multiple conversations at one time,to  respond briefly to a question without interrupting what they may be engaged in, and respond if and when they are ready rather than being accessed at will by a ringing phone. I guess it’s similar to the reasons some adults are drawn in.

Establishing some boundaries with cell phones and texting is a good rule of thumb. If your child is old enough to drive, having the no texting and driving talk is crucial. There are too many preventable car accidents a year directly related to distracted drivers.

Taking cell phones to bed should be off limits. Children need 8-10 hours of sleep each night for their growing bodies and minds that need to be alert for their day at school. Having their sleep constantly interrupted by the vibrating phone is hazardous to their health. The best sleep is a deep sleep, that REM sleep where dreams are found and equally important; uninterrupted sleep.

I believe that cell phones have a place, and can bring pleasure into our lives, but like everything, they should be used in moderation.  

(Tenise will continute to blog for us, but may have lapses due to her pursuit of a Ph.D. in Psychology — with an expected graduation date of 2014.  Her degree will enhance the services she currently provides to children, adolescents and families in our area, and we are thrilled she is one of our bloggers!  Good luck, Tenise!  You can keep in touch with her at Facebook and Visit my Virtual Office)

My own twenty-year-old daughter recently let me know what MOM meant to her.

I thought I was in for some profound and sincere words of a maturing young adult (considering it was around Mother’s Day), but rather, she text me (because this is how this generation of adolescents/young adults communicate), and let me know that MOM meant Made of Money.

Wow! What a blow to the ego, but it shined the light on the gaps in educating our young people.

Many of us learned about handling money through a crash course of overextended credit and the mismanagement of our checkbooks and savings accounts.  Plain and simple.  So, we owe it to our kids, the next generation, to understand and respect the power and responsibilities that come with money.

A good way is to teach them the concept of work pay, which is a different concept than an allowance.  Teaching children that when they work, they’re able to earn money to obtain some of the things they want in life is a good thing. This “give me now, give me more” generation seems to have missed the connection between the application of hard work, and the result of hard work is obtaining the things they want in life.  It might be through baby-sitting, pet sitting, or mowing a lawn (if kids still do that!), or any other chore that you’ve negotiated with them for a set amount.  (Make sure they complete the task!)

Teaching children to save will help us as adults remember that we have to relearn how to save. I suggest that you start off small. Initially it is not about how much you saved, it’s more about that you saved. Work with your kids to get into the habit of putting just $5 or $10 every week into a savings account. Many accounts are set up that you can do this automatically. Adults can open up a youth savings account at the bank, or use the age-old piggy bank. When they get their weekly work pay encourage them to put a portion of it in the piggy bank for savings. That way, when they see something that costs more than their weekly work pay they’ll have a back up fund. When you start young, it becomes a habit to save a portion of your earnings.

Donating a portion of your earnings for religious purposes is called tithing, and you’ll find many successful business people follow this same principle. Discuss a worthwhile cause that your child may like to contribute to.  Parents can set an empty jar next to the piggy bank for the kids to place their weekly donations. At the end of the month, the parents can drop off the donations or write a check for the kids to mail. Your child will also learn to to help out others in need.

I have a thirteen-year-old daughter who does not mind spending my money. We were at Old Navy some time ago and she quickly brought over a skirt marked $19.99 that she wanted to buy. I told her that I was not willing to spend that much money on the skirt, but she could buy it with her money that she left at home. With the same quick gesture she made by bringing the skirt over, she removed it and placed it back on the rack. “Don’t you want the skirt? I’ll pay for it and you can give me back the money at home.” Her response, “I’m not spending my money on that!”

Clearly you see children will make purchases with someone else’s money that they would not necessarily make with their own. When my children want something that is costly, I do make them wait some time before the purchase is made. If they really want something in January they would still really want it in February. What I have found is that by making them wait — even if it is for 2-3 weeks — they sometimes change their minds. This is okay; we all change our minds sometimes. I would rather you change your mind before I buy the $199 Kindle then after I make the purchase.

There are plenty of ways to raise money-savvy kids. I  hope you enjoyed these few pointers.

If you have any issues for Tenise Wall to address, you can write to her c/o editor@excitingread.com

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Tenise Wall, LMSW

Wall Professional Services

Visit my Virtual Office

How many parents pay their kids an allowance these days?  Hmmmm? 

Well, I’ve sharpened my perspective on an allowance. I absolutely do not believe that children should receive an allowance just for being those cute little wonderful beings we created. I do however believe that children should be given the opportunity to earn a “work pay” for chores they do around the house. The way to raise money savvy, responsible adults is to teach them when they’re small. Money literacy does not come by accident — it comes by intention.

For my own thirteen year old, we designed a work week with one main chore a day for five days a week. She’s expected to do something every day but if our schedules get too hectic she can double up on another day, however all chores must be done before Friday’s payday. My daughter really bought into this for the first couple of weeks then began slacking. When she came for her work pay, it was not the agreed upon total.  (A good rule of thumb: the weekly total should match their age, hence a ten year old would earn $10 per week).  When my daughter looked in the envelope, she had a questioning look. I explained to her that if she did not do her work she did not get paid. Just like in the real world when you don’t go to work, you get docked (you can save the sick time discussion for another time).  This message rang clear and she regrouped the following week and committed to getting her chores done.

Children should understand there are things they are expected to do as a contributing member in the household and there are chores they can do to earn their work pay. I suggest sitting down and mapping it all out together. If they buy into what you are trying to establish they will be more likely to participate. Teach children to earn, save, donate and think through their purchasing decisions. By the time they are adults working real jobs, they will have the foundation to be respectful of the money they earn. Children who want to make a large purchase could be given the opportunity to earn extra money by doing additional chores.

Too many parents are parenting through guilt and the outcome is a generation of children who feel entitled, and their unquenchable thirst for more “stuff” fuels them, yet leaves them empty inside. When children have to contribute in some way to the purchase of their desired item, they are more likely to appreciate, respect, and enjoy it.

More next time on: Teach children to earn, save, donate and think through their purchasing decisions.

On Mother’s Day I had the opportunity to speak to scores of mothers; I delivered a message of hope, resilience and determination. Motherhood has to be the most difficult job I have ever worked. The job is so awesome, so arduous and yet you can’t give up, you can’t throw in the towel and you cannot fail. The task is too important to give anything less than your very best. There is no one book to read, no one philosophy to follow, no magic ingredients to throw in, stir up and produce one well adjusted, successful fabulous kid.

Good parenting begins by being intentional. I do not believe that the production of an awesome child happens by accident. Start today by committing to the task. Look at parenting your children with the same determination you give your job when the boss puts a project in your lap, they expect nothing but the best, and give you a deadline. And then what usually happens? You meet the expectations and most times supersede them.

Change your perspective on parenting and you’ll change a life in the process.

My favorite Easter treat is the chocolate Cadbury Egg. Most times they run out before Easter, leaving me with such a feeling of loss.  This year after going from store to store and being disappointed they’d run out, I bought 40 Cadbury Eggs the next time I found them!  Then, I rationed them, eating about 3 a day.  Now that Easter has long gone I have plenty of eggs left over. Something about supply and demand seems to be at play—we want what we can’t have, and overlook what’s within our reach. 

These Cadbury Eggs got me thinking about our children.

When our kids are small, most parents can’t wait until they can take their first steps. Once they can walk, we can’t wait until they’re potty trained. Once potty trained we can’t wait until they start school to save us thousands a year in Day Care costs. Once they begin school, we can’t wait until they’re old enough to let themselves in afterschool. Once they can do that we can’t wait until they can drive themselves to their baseball or dance practice. Once they are driving we can’t wait until they graduate so they go off to college and we can finally have some peace and quiet. Once they head off to college, we find ourselves in those quiet times, reminiscing about all the laughter and joy they gave us. Then we ask, “Where did the time go?”

So what does this have to do with a chocolate Cadbury Egg? Those eggs I wanted so bad are sitting next to my bed, a handful are left untouched. What I thought I wanted so badly doesn’t seem to satisfy. Sometimes we wish away the present. Children will only be children but for so long. Enjoy, savor and appreciate today’s experiences. Tomorrow will come soon enough, leaving you longing for a taste of the past.

Live life with intention!

Why have we become a generation of parents afraid to set boundaries with our children?

I promise you that despite their sentiments, children not only need boundaries but secretly want them.  I have to tell you, they will never admit it to you, their parents. Instead they tell me, their therapist, behind the closed doors of my office while Mom and Dad wait in the waiting area. They (the kids) share how they connect the lack of love they feel from their parents to the fact that they do not have consequences when they break the rules.  And in other cases they simply do not have rules. “They don’t care” is a running theme stated amongst the teens I serve. The number one reason for feeling uncared for amongst the hundreds of adolescents I have worked with; you may be surprised what the answer is…because there are no boundaries.

Parents spend countless hours working two and three jobs, accepting overtime, sacrificing to provide the things they feel their child wants and needs. I could easily make an argument that parents seem to be working harder now than ever before. But, it’s not all of those “things” provided that show children their parent’s love; rather it’s the care given through establishing sensible rules and providing timely and appropriate consequences when rules are broken. In a recent session, a young girl remarked with disdain, “My mother has all this money now. She thinks she can buy me and I’m supposed to respect that?” As a paren,t I understand why we get confused in thinking we must show our love through things. However we have to stretch our thinking to encompass boundaries, expectations and consequences into our parenting tool box as they are desperately needed to develop our children into well-adjusted and respectable adults, prepared to enter the world.

Tenise Wall, LMSW has been serving the Hudson Valley since 2002. She is a Licensed Master Social Worker having obtained a Master’s Degree from Fordham University. She is the award recipient of the 2009 Orange County Tribute to Women of Achievement in the area of Education. She is the author of Pain to Purpose www.WallProfessionalServices.org

 (If you have any parenting issues for Tenise to address, please send them to editor@excitingread.com, and they will be passed along.)

As I was driving along, an old song came on, one I’d classify as “Old School” and it immediately brought me back to when I was eight years old. The next song brought me to the days when I was a teenager. I was reminded just how many years have passed, and how “life is but a vapor.” That’s a phrase I’ve heard before, but today, it had new meaning, putting many things into perspective.

When you can look back and see decades behind you, it speaks to just how fast and how much more valuable our time here on Earth is. Every day we rise with a new chance to make it our best day ever, to set goals and reach for them, to be a better parent or to contribute meaningful engagements. Too often I hear people complain about life, but isn’t life really what you make of it? Do bad things happen? Absolutely they do, every day, to somebody, somewhere in the world. Most times we cannot change our situations but we sure can change how we respond to them. If someone has hurt your feelings, there is a way to move beyond it. If you were overlooked for that promotion, or you never get the appreciation from your spouse or children you crave, you don’t have to let it control you. You know your situation is controlling you when the things that “happen” to you dictates the kind of day you’re going to have.

Take back your control, choose how you will respond to life’s ebbs and flows because in the end… life is but a vapor.

Greetings to all of you!

My name is Tenise Wall, commonly called Mrs. Wall by day at the elementary school where I work as a school social worker, and Mama by night by my four-year-old. I’m happily married and the mother of three beautiful girls who keep me more than busy with their weekly activities. I’m excited in this new endeavor of blogging and look forward to sharing many helpful hints I’ve amassed in my counseling career where I’ve worked with 700+ children and adolescents. I’m also an Inpatient Psychotherapist and in private practice, providing counseling, consulting and guest lecturer services. This has provided me with a wealth of hands-on experience.  Anyone who knows me will agree that I am real, down to earth and willing to share of myself, my experiences and my professional opinion for the benefit of others. I am ready for this journey and invite you along with me. Seat belts? Ready? Let’s go!

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A tragedy hit the Hudson Valley this week, more specifically in Newburgh, New York where it was reported that a young mother drove her vehicle with her four children inside, into the Hudson River. With many preliminary news reports being shown and written it still does not give one the whole picture of what happened. Was it postpartum, mental illness, how did her domestic issues play into it, were there any signs of her being suicidal? While questions loom and her family, closest friends and our community seek answers it is important to remember the life that was spared that day. This young man, at just 10 years, has experienced something that will undoubtedly remain with him for the rest of his life.

The guilt he feels began weighing down on him moments after he made it to dry land and into the safety of the Good Samaritan who assisted him. There will be many moments of fear, anger, anguish, frustration and perhaps his own battles with “survivor’s guilt.” I agree that understanding why it happened is important for family and friends but also if our understanding helps to save another’s life. Perhaps there were signs and symptoms we as a community can learn from. While we try to understand why, I implore you to not forget about the 10-year-old, whose biggest challenges lie ahead. As a community, let us be there for one another in times of despair. My heart felt prayers go out to the family for their loss and especially for thsurvivor whose life has been forever changed, in an instant.

Tenise Wall, LMSW has been serving the Hudson Valley since 2002. She is a Licensed Master Social Worker having obtained a Master’s Degree from Fordham University. She is the award recipient of the 2009 Orange County Tribute to Women of Achievement in the area of Education. She is the author of Pain to Purpose www.WallProfessionalServices.org.  If you have a blogging topic of interest or a question for me to answer, you could contact me at tenise@wallprofessionalservices.org

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