Twist The Wrong Way
December 5, 2016 · Posted in Parenting, Pregnancy · Permalink · Comments (2)

Last week in yoga class, my mat was next to a pregnant woman. She moved like an experienced practitioner, not a newbie, so I was distracted and surprised that the teacher had to come over repeatedly to remind her not to twist in the direction of everyone else but twist the opposite way, so as not to crowd the baby. The woman was obviously pushing herself intensely, and it upset me.  I found myself judging. “Is she crazy? Can’t she stop herself? She’s not taking care of that baby…” It was preoccupying me and I  was having a very hard time focusing on my own practice.

Yoga teaches you to notice your flow of thoughts and to stop them. To note the thoughts and judgments that pass through the mind and then gently bring yourself back to a centered place. So, I started to observe my thinking rather than being lead by it. I noticed I was worrying about the baby in her belly. I was identified with the baby. Caught up in judging this woman for her inability to override herself and do what was right for her baby.  Then I thought about all the times, not in yoga,  but in life as a mother, that I “twisted the wrong way”.

  • The snarky comment I made the ‘nano’ second after I told myself not to say anything.
  • The lecture I gave when I knew I should be listening
  • My impatience when I knew that one of my daughters needed calm and comfort more than anything.

The times when I knew what to do but somehow “chose” to twist the wrong way, and not care for one of my children in a way my higher self knew I should. As we moved on through poses on the mat, I started to feel empathy sliding in to replace judgement. Pushed by fear or worry (for her, maybe about her weight, or her changing body) we all do things that hurt our children. I began to feel connected to this pregnant woman, instead of separate from, or better than. I noticed the relief I felt that I when I was pregnant, it was fine to just take it easy and eat and wear big clothes. Now, with so much pressure to be a skinny, sexy, pregnant person, who knows if I would be able to fight the urge to push too hard instead of taking good care of myself, or my growing baby. I felt grateful for the freedom that came with being pregnant in a very different time.

I let go of my focus on her and got back into my own body, enjoying the ability to move-the exertion and the relaxation. When I noticed her again at the end of class, I wanted to say, “Welcome to motherhood, where we often twist the wrong way.”

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Thanks Giving
November 22, 2016 · Posted in K-5 Kids, Parenting, Preschoolers · Permalink · Comments Off

 

Kids love traditions. The smells and tastes of the holidays, the family rituals, are stored in their little brains forever. Here is a great tradition to make Thanksgiving true to its name.

Using a sketch or scrap book start a ‘Family Thanksgiving Book’ together. Give each person, large and small, a page to write or draw what they feel thankful for. From the sublime to the ridiculous, your health to your boots, from “Mommy and Daddy” to “my legos.” Do this each year at Thanksgiving and over the years it will become a real treasure.

 

 

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Giving Voice To Mothers Survey
November 8, 2016 · Posted in Parenting · Permalink · Comments Off

14889721_10154209602724405_6615660655055702322_oChoices in Childbirth is reaching out to ask for your help recruiting for a survey about maternity care practices and experiences. In partnership with researchers at the University of British Columbia and Boston University, we are collecting data to help policy makers and care providers understand perspectives and better meet your community’s needs.

Until now, US researchers have only studied the experience of childbirth among women who gave birth in a hospital and who mostly identify themselves as “non-Hispanic white”. In the Giving Voice to Mothers study, we hope to collect information from families of diverse backgrounds who have given birth in ALL settings: homes, hospitals and birth centers.

The goals of this study are:

  1. To learn about which maternity care options are most important to all types of pregnant families in the US;
  2. To understand experiences of maternity care in communities of color;
  3. To find out how families decide where to give birth and if place of birth affects their experiences;
  4. To describe the experience of making decisions during pregnancy and birth, including being heard and treated with respect;
  5. To learn about any differences among doctors, midwives, or consumers that may affect maternity care choices.

We hope that you can make sure your community-members’ experiences are included. Some ways you can encourage participation include:

  •   distributing and posting the attached flier
  •   mentioning the survey to families (especially when they have waiting time)
  •   inviting community members to use an on-site computer or tablet to take the online survey
  •   assisting participants with getting started on the survey

Please share this survey widely, so that we capture a wide variety of experiences. Thank you for participating and for bringing this survey to members of your communities.

If you have any comments, questions, or concerns about completing the survey, please contact Sydney at: 347-389-4721 or by email: gvtm@choicesinchildbirth.org

Please access the survey with this unique link: www.voicesofmothersny.org 

Best,

Maris Gelman and Nan Strauss

Choices in Childbirth

 

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How to Incorporate Fitness With The Creative Types
November 3, 2016 · Posted in K-5 Kids, Parenting · Permalink · Comments Off

By Katrina M. Phillip, Energetic Juniors Trainer little-katrina-e1474150900509-768x1024

Growing up, my parents would be the first to tell you that they couldn’t shut their daughter up or keep her still, especially if there was music playing or the sun shining. I wanted to run and dance and sing, and loved to simply talk to myself in as many different voices as possible.

The one way they could calm me down and get me focused, was watching old movie musicals. And years later, enrolling me into dance class and acting. It was here that I was able to show my exorbitant amounts of energy and creation, and where I felt most at home.

At school, in class, in P.E., things were more difficult. I was very coordinated; however, throwing and catching a ball was not “fun” for me. Why? I mean, “Where’s the music?” “Where’s the storyline?” Or “Whaddya mean I’m out? Can’t we all play?” Rules of these sport games eventually made sense enough, but it didn’t get me going like making up stories and characters, and moving to music.

Because of this I was always last to be picked for teams during P.E. or recess… I was made fun of ruthlessly. Going up to bat was paralyzing. The others on the team made fun of me, and it was all I could do just to walk up to the plate. I tried, but I longed to just be in dance class and acting. Always.

20 some odd years later, I find myself helping these creative children that remind me of myself, through Energetic Juniors. Energetic Juniors is an in-home fitness training company, in New York City, geared to helping children one-on-one with fitness and exercise training. I have been with this company for over 13 years now, and I must say that most of the children I work with fall into this category; being a Kreative Kid. This kind of child tends to think outside the box, marches to the beat of their own drum… Sports don’t interest them, P.E. class are more of a challenge, even a hindrance, and they become a target for their bullying peers. What do we do for this child? How can we encourage their creativity AND keep them active and motivated physically?

This is where Energetic Juniors comes in and WHY it is so VERY beneficial and crucial for these kinds of kids. There are NUMEROUS ways to get children moving that do not involve sports. I’ve personally developed several games that merge improv, dance, and storytelling with fitness; incorporating calisthenics, running, jumping, agility, etc. getting their bodies, minds, and creative juices flowing and shining! The child not only is more engaged, he / she is having fun, and will gather the confidence they need in order to build upon their natural abilities and talents. Indeed, if we nurture these skills, it will help them in the long run. They will find their path more easily when approaching adulthood, and have a better chance at becoming a more successful and healthy (mentally and physically) individual.

I mentioned that I was “lucky”. I AM lucky, because my parents accepted me for who I was, and who I am. They recognized that my abilities and my talents were able to shine and flourish in the arts, as opposed to sports. Now, what if I was a male? Not Katrina Marie, but Jonathan Miles? What then? Would my parents be as supportive and encouraging? I would argue, yes, but then again… Hmmm… There is definitely an extra pressure for boys in our culture, in our society, to participate in and LIKE sports. WHY? Once again, this is where Energetic Juniors can be such a highlight and chariot. It’s ok to not like sports, and there is a way to be active & physically fit without being on a sports team.

 

Learn more about Energetic Juniors, visit their website at: www.energeticjuniors.com.

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When Should Kids Start Organized Sports?
September 27, 2016 · Posted in K-5 Kids, Parenting, Play, Pressure on Children, Teens · Permalink · Comments Off

just-letem-playBy Dr. Andrew Jacobs

One of the most popular questions young parents are asking currently is what is the best age to sign my child up for organized sports participation? This is an issue I       have discussed for years with parents, sports administrators and coaches. In today’s social environment, there is more and more pressure to get your child signed up at earlier and earlier ages. Leagues are being formed in many sports for ages four and five, for both girls and boys. For many, the pressure to get their child signed up can come from a variety of sources. Often, parents of youngsters just starting nursery school or kindergarten will feel they need to sign their child up because everyone else in the class is doing it. Social media has made youth sports accessible to almost everyone and the benefits of youth sport participation in a healthy scenario tremendously outweigh the detriments. Many are inundated with information about youth leagues in almost every sport and often feel the need to get involved or face the stigma of having their child “fall behind”.

So if you are interested in signing your child up at an early age, what should you be looking for? There are several factors that can play a role for young children when they start a sport activity. First, I remember a discussion I had with a very prominent college basketball coach. He told me that he thought all young children should participate in both an individual and a team sport. He emphasized that he felt individual sports really helped develop self-confidence, self-esteem and independence, while team sports helped tremendously with learning about sacrifice, communication, selflessness and sharing. Second, there are several factors I believe you should look for when deciding what kind of sport and organization to sign up with.

Let’s say your child is interested in a team sport like soccer, basketball or softball at age four or five. First, find out why they are interested. Many kids get excited after watching a team play on television or at an actual competition. Many want to play because their parent or older sibling participate. Check out what is available in your area and school district. Look for sport programs that focus on teaching skills and development with an emphasis on having fun. Check out the background of the coaches. Speak with parents of others who have had children coached by them. Your first negative warning sign will be if the coach talks a lot about winning and beating other teams. Also, at this young an age, stay away from coaches that want more than two practices a week. Your child will quickly lose interest at that age. Initially, it will be best to give your child some private lessons at a club that specializes in that sport. It would be best to give your child the opportunity to learn the sport on an individual basis before signing up to be on a team. However, often that opportunity is not available or is a possibility financially. The next option is to sign up on a team through the school or park and recreation department. But, make sure you take the time to find out about the league and the instructor/coach. Find out about the coaches goals for the team. As I stated before, if winning and losing are emphasized, run away as fast as possible. I have seen children’s self-confidence destroyed and the desire to play again ruined by coaches who are interested in the score and results, rather than on teaching skills and HAVING FUN.

If your child is interested in an individual sport, find a program through a sport club that specializes in teaching that sport. Check out the instructors and make sure you stay involved. Many like to drop their child off and not stay involved as if it is childcare. Practice the sport with them when you can and encourage them to have fun doing it.

There is no right or wrong age to start your child in a sport activity. Don’t let the pressure you feel from others to result in signing your child up before they are ready or excited about it. Many successful professional and Olympic athletes didn’t start their sport until the end of elementary school or the start of middle school. However, lately I have been hearing from many parents and coaches about starting their child on an organized team at ages two or three. My personal and professional opinion is that children younger than four aren’t mature enough or emotionally, psychologically and physically developed enough. Give your child the opportunity to play with other children their age. There is no reason to have them on an organized team before kindergarten. One of the main reasons leagues are starting for younger and younger ages for boys and girls in many sports is because someone is making a profit on it. As I previously stated, I don’t believe there is a right or wrong age to start your child in a sport activity, but I feel most aren’t ready until they begin elementary school. In the end, you as the parent need to make the right decision you believe is right for your child and most importantly, it should be about learning skills and HAVING FUN. Perhaps the most important factor that concerns me in today’s society is that youth sports have become so structured and organized, that the concept of play has disappeared. Make sure your child has the opportunity to play with their friends. Obviously, safety is an issue, but encourage your child to play with their friends without a parent coaching or barking instructions. Give them the opportunity to create on their own with their peers, and they will probably stay involved in that sport much longer than getting burned out by 10, 11 or 12 from going to organized practices and games since age four or five.

You can learn more about Dr. Jacobs on his website www.winnersunlimited.com and read his book Just Let ‘Em Play

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Blind Spots
September 21, 2016 · Posted in Communication, K-5 Kids, Marriage, Parenting, Preschoolers, Relationships, Toddlerhood · Permalink · Comments (3)

images-1

Everyone has blind spots. They are unconscious conflicts from the past that creep up on us unexpectedly and influence reactions we have and decisions we make in the present. They are a normal part of the human experience; pockets of feeling or behavior that are hard to explain or understand, and which seem to control us.

In the course of parenting, we all hit up against these blind spots. Something in our child’s behavior or stage of development triggers an overly intense reaction. We may know that we are “over-reacting” but do not know why. Left to our own devises these areas can become repetitive patterns of negativity in our relationship with our child. At Soho Parenting, we help parents learn to identify their own blind spots so they can untangle the past from the present.


Jeff sits in my office looking sheepish as his wife Tina, frustrated and angry, talks about why they have come for some help. She complains that Jeff continually undermines her attempts to control the wild and often disrespectful behavior of their four-year old son Gabe.

“It’s like having 2 children,” she says in exasperation, “I cannot stand to be the only parent. He just cannot say no to him.”
“I’ve tried to be stricter”, says Jeff, “but I hate it when he gets so upset.”

In trying to understand more about why saying no is so hard for Jeff, I ask him to talk about his own upbringing and early experiences of discipline. Jeff looks uncomfortable and then starts to talk haltingly about his own strict and overly harsh father. He describes him as cold and quick to anger, with little patience for childish behavior.

“My father was always flying off the handle. He wanted us to be like perfect little adults. If I didn’t hang up my towel after a bath he’d freak.”

Jeff has sworn that he will not repeat this treatment with his own son and in these first four years he has been very successful in being a warm, affectionate and available father to Gabe.

So where is the blind spot? Jeff has not been able to see that his old hurt from childhood has been keeping him from entering into an arena of parenthood that is critically important for a growing child’s health and development. Discipline. Not the harsh and punitive kind, not the arbitrary and scary kind, but the kind of discipline that teaches you how to be respectful and gives the feeling of safety that comes with knowing that your parent is the adult and will keep you from getting out of control. It was easy for Tina –and anyone else for that matter– to see that Jeff was not providing the stabilizing function of a strong but loving parent. But for Jeff, who was unconsciously avoiding setting limits for fear that he would “become his father”, couldn’t act on his son’s need for boundaries.

Jeff really understood and felt this connection in the session. He knows now that he needs to actively counteract his worry about “becoming his father” and step up to the challenge of being Gabe’s father. He was thankful for the concrete advice about discipline; having a real game plan was reassuring. TIna felt validated and more hopeful about being allies instead of adversaries. A blind spot uncovered and a path made clearer!

For all parents, raising children confronts us with our inevitable vulnerabilities. If we use these discoveries as an opportunity for growth, we can take more control of our behavior, and be more the parents we want to be.

This article first appeared on A Child Grows in Brooklyn.

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Creating a Homework Haven at Home
August 25, 2016 · Posted in Education, K-5 Kids, Parenting · Permalink · Comments Off

logoBy Dr. Colleen Carroll

Back-to-school season can be a distressing few weeks leading up to the first day in the classroom for so many kids. While some of the angst around this return to routine makes sense – after all, days get colder and shorter and we need to get back to tighter schedules and earlier bedtimes – there are also a few things we can do to ease this transition and actually make it an empowering time for kids.

Many kids dread, and even fear homework. Even the word can spark anxiety in some children (and parents!). This is understandable; as kids get older the homework gets harder and the time spent on it gets longer. However, you can be prepared in advance and lessen anxiety by creating a homework sanctuary of sorts for your child to feel safe, even empowered, as he gets his work done.

The following are my top 5 ways to empower your child at homework time:

  1. Create a homework haven in the house somewhere that’s bright, cheery, and full of all the items he needs to get his work done efficiently, with minimal distractions. Consider the kitchen to be close to a helpful parent, or a bedroom if noise can be a problem.
  2. Don’t let it be obvious that you dread this time too. Children pick up on your emotional state. Instead, be as positive as you can about this learning experience, even when things get tough.
  3. If your child is having a rough time on homework, let the teacher know. There is no reason to struggle for hours over a few problems when really the child just needs more instruction.
  4. Get the hardest subjects done first when she is less tired; trying to tackle the hardest at the end is never a good idea!
  5. Set up an afternoon routine to get homework done before other evening activities whenever possible so it isn’t hanging over your child’s head.

Kids crave routine; they (and most adults) do best when they know what’s coming next and they can be ready for it. By having a homework routine and a space that is comfortable and efficient, it probably won’t make homework fun but it will make it easier to accomplish and more organized for return to school the next day. This in turn will definitely lessen the anxiety around homework in general and allow your child to focus on some more pleasurable activities each evening, perhaps even a little reading.

 

Dr. Colleen Carroll works with parents of kids who struggle and hate to read by getting them off the Xbox and TV and onto books, fast. Her international tribe of Innovator parents testify that their kids are now saying, “Mom, I LOVE reading!” after just a few weeks of her techniques. 

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Don’t Overdo the Prep for Going Back To School
August 19, 2016 · Posted in Education, K-5 Kids, Parenting, Preschoolers, Pressure on Children · Permalink · Comments Off

Finding balance between acknowledging that a new grade begins in a months’ time and reveling in summer fun is hard to strike. Here are some ideas about how to do it:

  • Don’t talk about school everyday. Let your child be in the present, without the new school year hanging over their head.
  • Do answer any questions that come up, like, “Will so and so be in my class?” or “Will you stay with me at school”, honestly and simply. No long monologues.
  • Do go and walk by school the week before class begins. Point out landmarks, like the pet store, the deli etc. so you can look for them on the walk to school the first day.
  • Do get a little back pack or lunch box to bring on the first day.
  • Do expect stomach aches, difficulty falling asleep or grumpiness around the first days of school.
  • Do tell stories about your first days of school.
  • Don’t talk about the beginning of school with your peers and assume the kids can’t hear.
  • Do remember that a parent taking their child to school is one of the most important jobs. Try to adjust work schedules so one parent can do drop off at least a few days a week.
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Top 5 Ways To Keep Kids Active All Summer Long
July 20, 2016 · Posted in K-5 Kids, Parenting · Permalink · Comments Off

family-biking

By Laura Young, Energetic Juniors Youth Fitness Trainer

Did the last day of school spring up on you out of nowhere!? Now the kids are home all day, and all they want to do is park themselves on the couch, watch TV, and play video games. Yet they still need to get the recommended daily exercise and experience those physical benefits. How can you get them excited to get moving without making it feel like gym class or a chore? The trick is to meet them on their level. Each child is unique and has their own interests, so we have to find activities that speak to them. Here are a few ideas for how to tap into their interests and get them moving!

 

  1. Check Out What’s Happening in Your Neighborhood! 

 

There are an infinite amount of sources out there on the web, but I highly recommend checking out sources such as Timeout.com and DNAinfo.com. Both of these (and countless other sites) will update their calendars with local events and fitness-focused activities catered to kids. TimeOut will often list the best parks or local festivals taking place in your area. Playgrounds are an imaginative space for kids of all ages (yes, adults can be big kids, too); taking your child to the playground allows you to see their strength grow in the most natural of environments.

 

  1. Get Sports-Specific Personal Training for Kids and Teens!

 

Just because sports leagues for the school year have finished doesn’t mean your child should lay off training: pre-season conditioning and tryouts are just around the corner. By training for individual sports, they will come back in the fall stronger and better prepared, which coaches will certainly take notice of. Personal training for kids provides individual attention and can lead to seeing visible improvement faster. Kids’ trainers can give coaching tips and techniques to enhance their athletic performance and target their strengths and weakness. Sports-specific training is the most effective method of training for youth athletes. Companies such as Energetic Juniors match kids with seasoned youth trainers.

 

  1. Create a personal challenge!

 

The fitness industry is bursting at the seams with fitness challenges ranging from walking 10,000 steps a day, to drinking a gallon of water, to even yoga pose challenges. Discuss with your child what sort of challenges they would like to complete. It doesn’t have to be one found on Instagram, though that can be a great source of inspiration. Coming up with some on their own will make them feel more committed and likely to follow through with it. A good starting point may be steps challenges accomplished by long walks to a fun destination, basketball shots, making a list of different parks to explore in city, or even star jumps which can be done at home. The options are endless and with a challenge you can always find ways to top them!

 

 

  1. Discover Day Camp!

 

Perhaps because school is out, some of your child’s best friends are away at sleep-away camp or spending the break out of city, and they feel like they can’t have any fun without them. However, unlike adults who may find making new friends more of a challenge, kids more often than not will quickly find common ground with someone. Luckily we live in a vibrant city where there are plenty of day-camp options that have specialty focuses such as: Musical Theatre (http://www.broadwayboundkids.net/), Tennis (http://www.gothamtennis.com/summercamp.html), Tech (https://www.idtech.com/kids/tech-camps/) and Cooking (http://tastebudskitchen.com/). Find a day camp that speaks to their unique interests, and the exercise for your child will follow.

 

  1. Share Your Workout!

 

Some of my best memories as a kid were of early morning bike rides in the park with my dad. Not only were he and I getting in some solid exercise early in the day, but it was a chance for us to spend some quality time together. Your child will remember the time spent bonding and the example of a healthy lifestyle being set rather than thinking of the importance of exercise. As an added bonus you can check off your own thirty-minute cardio requirement for the day! The summer opens up numerous activities that might not otherwise be available year round depending upon where you live such as swimming, kayaking, and rowing. Even utilizing many of the current apps such as Map My Run can be a measuring tool that you and your child can use as visual inspiration. It doesn’t really matter what the activity is so long as you are doing it together.

 

When the summer comes to an end—and it always comes sooner than we imagine it will—, it is important that your kids have some impressionable memories to walk away with. The older kids get, the more distractions they have, and the more likely they are to begin to lose interest in physical activity; but those who’ve enjoyed exercise from a young age are more likely to stay active into adulthood (kidshealth.org, 2016). It is recommended that children get at least one hour of physical activity a day. Kids do not need to go to the gym and target different muscle groups throughout the week like adults may do: they are naturally going to use their entire bodies and physical strength; so this is not say at the end of the day they can’t kick back and play some video games on the couch; it is summer vacation after all! So see what’s happening in your city, try new activities, and challenge them to discover what they’re capable of. This will be a summer they won’t forget.

 

For more fitness games or to learn more about Energetic Juniors, visit their website at: www.energeticjuniors.com.

 

By Laura Young, a certified ISSA Personal Trainer and ISSA Youth Trainer, and a registered yoga teacher from Atmananda Yoga in Manhattan.

 

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Understanding the Dangers of Social Media Apps
June 28, 2016 · Posted in K-5 Kids, Parenting, Technology, Teens · Permalink · Comments Off

blog2By Hilary Smith

As our young girls and boys enter the tween and teen years, it is essential that we empower them with skills and strategies to safely navigate the digital world. It’s no secret that texting and social media have drastically changed the way our kids and society communicates. We need to try to stay a few steps ahead of our kids as they enter the world of social media.

Our little digital natives adapt to devices with relative ease, often mastering the technology before we can figure out the volume and power buttons. Social media is no exception. Today 71 percent of teens are already using more than one social media site and 70 percent of our children will take measures to hide their online activity.

Given this secrecy and the potential danger online we can help prepare our children for living in a digital environment by familiarizing ourselves with popular apps and the dangers associated with them.

Start with these 4 apps

Line. Line offers a wide range of services including voice chat and the ability to create short videos. Children like this app, because it has a lot of features that works across all types of devices. One area of concern is “Hidden Chats”, that allows users to send disappearing messages that automatically delete after being read. While this fleeting quality can promote authentic communication, it can be a playground for cyberbullying and other undesirable behaviors.

Ask.fm. This is a popular “anonymous” app that hides users’ identities while allowing them to ask and answer questions. At first glance, this app offers a unique way for people to interact. However, in recent years this site has been associated with multiple cyberbullying cases.

Tinder. This very adult dating app admits that 7 percent of the users on the site are between 13 and 17 years old! In the sites defense, they have created a teen section, using filters to sort users by age groups. Unfortunately, many children use false birthdates to register for social media apps that can inadvertently expose them to much older and experienced individuals who are looking for a good time.

Burn Note. This app strives to maintain a user’s privacy by using self-destructing messages and a spotlight feature that only allows a section of the message to be read at a time. Burn Note was created to protect users from prying eyes, screenshots, and forwarding messages making it difficult for parents to catch cyberbullying or inappropriate conduct if a child utilizes this app.

For a better detailed explanation of Burn Note, please check out this video produced from TeenSafe:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zl3IYc5tFgQ

 

Hilary Smith has parlayed her love of technology and parenting into a freelance writing career. As a journalist, she specializes in covering the challenges of parenting in the digital age. She loves all things tech and hasn’t met a gadget that didn’t peek her interest. The Texas native currently resides in Chicago, IL and braves the winters with her two children, ages 4 and 7. 

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