Thursday, August 16, 2012

How to Minimize the Sibling Rivalry

By: Krystal W. Abbott

The answer is easy . . . The execution, however, is what requires the effort. I don’t care if your kid is a lousy student, an uninspired athlete, lacks the existence of a creative bone in his or her body, has a crappy work ethic, appears to excel at nothing, or just seems to lack interest in anything. Every child has a special gift, a special talent, or the potential to have one. Sometimes those gifts and talents are easier to identify in some kids than in others. The hard work comes with those kids whose talents are not readily apparent.

Hard work does not mean enrolling your kid in every recreational activity under the sun; or spending every penny you have for some type of lesson or another. It is more about observing and listening to your child. Sounds simple, but when you are trying to run your kids here and there; monitor school work and activities, pay bills, prepare meals, and work outside of the home, it is difficult to sometimes sit, observe and listen. It is not an issue you will resolve over night. It will take time. My point is . . . once you are able to identify your individual children’s gifts, they will each have their own thing to excel at and thrive on and there will not be a need for them to worry about how well their sibling(s) is doing or how much better their sibling is doing because he or she will have their own special talent. As a result, the rivalry between or amongst your kids will be close to non-existent.

My 13 year old daughter was easy. She has been singing since before she could talk and her outgoing personality, and her love for acting and dancing pegs her squarely as a triple threat in the actress, singer and dancer category. My 15 year old daughter threw us for a loop. She had always been uncoordinated, clumsy, no rhythm, appeared cross-eyed, and had asthma, allergies . . . the last person you would think would excel in athletics. Well, my husband saw it . . . I did not. And he was right. She is extremely athletic, excels in any sport she plays and is being recruited for a college scholarship playing volleyball. My oldest daughter found track and field. She loves it and works so hard at it. More than that, her special talent as a leader, a debater, a negotiator, an advocate and her passion for world events definitely has her square pegged as doing good works in Congress, the Senate, a political office or somewhere in the public/political sector. My 12 year old son definitely wants to be an entrepreneur of some sort and he loves playing football. My 10 year old son loves animals and wants to be a veterinarian.

Certainly, kids change their minds as they grow up and are exposed to other things, but take the time to figure out what their interests are a long the way and that will help your kids’ self esteem; it will help them get a long better; and you will not have to work yet another job on top of everything else you have to do as a parent . . . REFEREE!!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Does Your ADHD Child Also Suffer from Depression?

By: K.W. Abbott

Depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are two of the most common mental health problems that can appear in childhood and it is not uncommon for them to occur together. In fact, recent research has shown that up to 30% of people with ADHD also have depression. If you think about it, that makes sense! ADHD kids are usually unsuccessful academically or in other facets of their lives because of the ADHD. With continued failure and/or the lack of success can come depression. In children with ADHD, the risk of developing depression is as much as 3 times greater than it is for children without ADHD.

So parents . . . please do not dismiss your child’s feelings of sadness, anxiousness, helplessness, restlessness, irritability, hopelessness or feelings of self-destructiveness (i.e., suicidal) as laziness, a cop out, an excuse, lack of motivation or as something they will just get over. Depression is more than just the blues or blahs and cannot just be "snapped out of." It is a serious health problem that affects the total person. In addition to feelings, depression can change behavior, physical health and appearance, academic performance, social activity, and the ability to handle everyday decisions and pressures. The good news is that in children, both depression and ADHD, are highly treatable through a combination of medications, psychotherapy and behavioral therapies.

So, watch for the symptoms of depression in your ADHD child and if you notice any, have him/her tested just to make sure. I know it is just something else we as parents have to manage, but just think about how tough it is on your kid to have to deal with ADHD and depression. Your child needs you now more than ever to help him/her manage his/her condition. The hope is that your child will learn from your actions and will become able to manage their own mental health challenges independently. Being able to do that will allow your child to go on and live long, happy and healthy lives. All of the time and sacrifice will be so worth it!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

My Kid Has No Interest in the Recruiting Process . . .
She Just Wants a College to Make Her a Scholarship
Offer by Watching Her Play . . .Now What?

By: K.W. Abbott

Athletic recruitment is a process. If you are fortunate enough to have college coaches who are interested in your kid, the next step is your kid reciprocating. . . Especially if your kid is younger than a junior in high school. According to NCAA rules college coaches are not allowed to reach out directly to you or your child (besides sending camp information) until they are juniors in high school. Any communication from college coaches have to go through your kid’s club or high school volleyball coach or director. Not only that, but if your younger than a junior in high school athlete calls and leaves a message for the coach, the coach cannot return the call. So guess what that means? Your kid has to be proactive on all fronts in communicating with college recruiters. Kind of difficult if your kid wants no part of calling coaches , e-mailing coaches, or visiting colleges. She just wants to play! What should be an exciting college recruitment journey becomes pure misery!

Don’t be mad at or frustrated with her though! She is just not mature enough to understand the importance of the recruiting process. And quite honestly, most 14 and 15 year olds are not really thinking seriously about college . . . they just got into high school for heavens sake! At the same time you as the parent don’t want your kid to blow a potential scholarship opportunity by being passive during the recruitment process . . . so what do you as the parent do? HELP KEEP YOUR KID RELEVANT UNTIL THEY ARE MATURE ENOUGH TO UNDERSTAND FOLLOW THROUGH WITH THEIR ROLE IN THE RECRUITMENT PROCESS!

This will require your active participation . . . oversee the following:

*Don’t force the phone calls if she is really fighting you about it

*Have your daughter use e-mail to tell any interested coaches or schools she is interested in the following:

- her season volleyball schedule and then the week prior to each match or tournament, remind the coaches of her upcoming tournament

- updates on any individual volleyball accomplishments

- updates on any team volleyball accomplishments

- her volleyball resume

As far as college visits, you can certainly reach out to the college coaches as the parent to set those up, but make sure they are schools that: (1) invite you for a visit first; (2) have your daughter’s college academic program; and (3) your daughter is interested in visiting.

Believe me, your daughter will come around and all of the grief, frustration, and extra work will be worth it when she secures that scholarship! Just keep talking to your daughter. . . not at her. Keep giving her constructive advice and encouragement . . . not attacks and destructive criticism. Continue to encourage her to work hard at being the best. You all will be just fine!

The Financial Aid Process

By: K.W. Abbott

The financial aid process is comprised of the following four steps:

(1) After applying to college, the student must file the appropriate financial aid applications. The two basic types of financial aid applications are the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) and the PROFILE (the Financial Aid Profile Form).


There are 3 ways to file a FAFSA: (1) by manually completing the form and mailing it to the FAFSA processor; (2) by filing electronically through the college (not all colleges have this capability); and (3) by filing on the internet by contacting:

To receive aid from the federal student aid programs the student must:

* Show financial need

* Have a high school diploma

* Be enrolled in college

* Be a U.S. citizen or eligible noncitizen

* Have a valid social security number

* Make satisfactory academic progress

* Certify the aid will be used for educational purposes

* Not be in default of a federal loan

* Be registered with selective service

* Not be convicted of possessing or selling drugs

                    PROFILE Form

The Financial Aid Profile form is used by some private colleges to calculate the Institutional Methodology EFC (Estimated Family Contribution). The PROFILE may require the applicant to answer questions in addition to the basic application questions. These questions are known as "Section Q Questions" and unfortunately, there are no instructions on how to accurately answer these questions.

(2) Receive and review the Student Aid Report (SAR). In 4 - 6 weeks (1 - 2 weeks when electronically filed) after filing the FAFSA form, a student should receive the SAR form. The SAR form indicates the student’s EFC on the upper right corner of the first page. Errors or estimated tax information must be immediately corrected or updated on this form and the form re-filed.

(3) Verification of the applicant's information s required of at least 30% of the financial aid applications filed. If a student is picked for verification, there will be an asterisk accompanying the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) amount on the SAR. Verification can vary from merely providing a tax return to sending in detailed family financial information (at some private colleges). Using estimated numbers on the FAFSA or inconsistency of data submitted on the application may lead to an increased chance of being verified.

(4) Receive and review the colleges' Award letters. The Award Letter states the amount of the financial aid and types of financial aid offered to the student. A student may accept, deny, or appeal, any part of award letter.

                                                                                                           National Institute of Certified College Planners

The College Admission Process

By: K.W. Abbott

Students must apply to be accepted at a college. That is pretty obvious, right?? You would be surprised what is overlooked during the college admission process! There are several ways in which a student can be informed early of their admission status:

Early Action - The student can apply to a college by an early deadline (set by a particular college) to guarantee admission without obligating the student to attend that college. The student then usually files for financial at the college under the same deadlines as a regular student applicant.

Early Decision - The student can apply to a college by an early deadline to guarantee admission, but is obligated to attend that college under a binding contract. Early decision applicants file for financial aid early and are offered a financial aid award at an early date. Some colleges make "early decision" binding only if the financial aid offer is mutually agreeable.

Early Notification - The college notifies the student of their admission status as the admission office makes its admission decision. The student applies for financial aid in the same manner as would a regular financial aid applicant.

Early Read - The college computes the student's Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) early and estimates the student's financial aid award. Since this computation usually takes place early in the fall of the year, the student must submit estimated financial information to the college.

                                                                                   National Institute of Certified College Planners

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Federal VS. Institutional Methodology EFC Formula

By: K.W. Abbott

There are two formulas by which the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of a family can be computed: The Federal Methodology and the Institutional Methodology.

All colleges use the Federal Methodology (FM). It is used as the basis for distributing federal financial aid funds. The Institutional Methodology (IM) is used by some private colleges. It is used as the basis for distributing the individual college’s private funds. Federal financial aid funds are distributed on the basis of the FM, even though the college uses the IM to distribute its own private funds.

The Institutional EFC is usually higher than the EFC calculated using the FM formula. The IM takes into consideration items such as the personal residence and family farm assets. The financial aid office also has the discretion to add back certain income items such as depreciation or business losses. The financial aid office can also add back asset items that have been disposed of prior to the filing of the financial aid application, but were in the family’s possession during the year.

The IM formula gives several options to the financial aid office at the university. The family’s EFC should be calculated using both the FM and IM formulas. This is to prevent an unpleasant surprise for the family that calculates its EFC using the FM formula and has a student who attends a college that uses the IM formula to calculate a higher EFC.

                                                                           National Institute of Certified  College Planners

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Stigma of Special Education . . . What Stigma??


By: K.W. Abbott

You have just been told that your son or daughter’s testing has yielded results that qualify him / her for special education services. How should you respond to that as a parent? How should you tell your child about his educational status? As a parent you should embrace the news and scream HALLELUJAH . . . THANK GOODNESS!! FINALLY . . . my child can get the support that he /she needs so that they can be and feel successful in school. When explaining it to your child, let them know the joy and sense of accomplishment they will feel when they can understand something with more ease, or when they get that "A" on a test or quiz or on a homework assignment or on a project. Without the support services special education programs bring for some kids, school is an absolute nightmare. It is a daily confidence killing, self-esteem crushing experience because they struggle so much in grasping what the heck is going on in class everyday and then again every night while trying to do homework. The other great news is that with a lot of special education programs, they are so integrated with the general education classes that it is not readily apparent that special education students are in special education.
I know in a perfect world, all kids would be brain surgeon smart and would not need any additional help to get straight A’s. Well, it is not a perfect world! Some kids are brain surgeon smart, but most are not. Most kids need help to be successful in school . . . some need more help and support than others. We as parents cannot be ashamed of that! We need to be thankful that there are educators in our schools willing to take the time to notice that there is a problem, conduct testing to confirm it, and then formulate a game plan to help fix it (i.e., i.e., IEP or 504 Plan). It takes a village right?? Just think of these educators who care deeply about your children’s success in school as part of that village necessary to help your child grow, develop and learn in a form and at a pace which will put them on the path toward continued success. Once you embrace the idea of special education and get excited about all of the support and help your child will receive on their journey toward success, your child will likewise embrace the idea and will go into their new program with open minds, a positive attitude and a willingness to learn. . . the keys to achieving the success that has averted them for years!!
To Spank or Not to Spank . . . That’s Not The Question!

By: K.W. Abbott

The question is whether spanking is the best deterrent for your child’s misbehavior. With some kids corporal punishment is the only way to get a parent’s point across. Timeouts, grounding, taking privileges away, taking away fun activities, etc. are not always effective. With other kids, spankings do not deter misbehavior. Other methods of discipline achieve the desired result. With yet other kids, a parent’s mere showing of disapproval and disappointment and pointing out the error of the child’s ways are enough to get the point across. As with most aspects of parenting, it is a trial and error process. There is no right or wrong method of discipline. Of course any discipline which would traumatize a child physically or emotionally is clearly unwarranted, but it again is a trial and error process to determine where the line is not to cross. Certainly, beating a child or physically disciplining a child to the point of needing medical attention is also unwarranted.

Each kid is different and each kid responds to different forms of discipline. Like with other methods of parenting, your kids are not cookie cutter duplicates. Just as you must identify your children’s likenesses and differences and treat them accordingly, the same goes for how you discipline them. I could spank my 13 year old daughter every day about misbehavior and it would not make much of an impact. She may straighten up for an abbreviated period of time but she would revert right back at the bad behavior in time. But if I ban her from auditioning for a play or from performing in some other capacity, THAT gets her attention. My 12 year old son only requires that dreaded "look" a parent gives a kid when they are very disappointed to get him straight. My 10 year old son and my 17 year old daughter (when she was much younger) definitely responded to spankings to keep them in line. My 15 year old required a combination of the showing of disappointment and spankings. Now we are at the point where spankings are very far and few inbetween because they know better! You just have to figure out what works for your kid. Punishment for the sake of punishment is worthless if it is not achieving the result that you as the parent wants . . . whether it be teaching a lesson, deterring bad behavior, setting an example, etc.

So no . . . spankings are not taboo . . . and timeouts are not always effective . . . take the time to get to know what makes your child tick in order to determine which form of discipline is most effective for each individual kid in your household.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Guilt Ridden Working Mom

By: Krystal W. Abbott

Yeah . . . GUILT is a highlighted emotion in our lives, isn't it?? We have guilt about not spending enough time with our children.  We have guilt about not spending enough time with our spouses.  We have guilt about not spending enough time on the job.   We have guilt about not being a good enough mom . . . a good enough wife . . . a good enough employee . . . a good enough friend. We have guilt about doing things for ourselves and we have guilt about doing nothing at all!  Striking the right balance can be so difficult. We must make sure our priorities are straight and then we can make better decisions about what to take on.  There is no one right way to lessen our guilt.  So much depends upon your own special set of circumstances.  It all starts with what will make YOU happiest and then you can make better decisions that will minimize and/or obliterate the guilt! 

What is most important to you? Are you a working mom who REALLY wants to make partner at your company or firm . . . or who wants to be a high level exeuctive?  Are you a working mom who wants to make it to as many PTA meetings, field trips and be in attendance at as many school, sport or club activities your child is involved in? Are you the kind of working mom who wants to support your husband's career by putting his goals ahead of yours? Are you the working mom that just has to work at a job because you have to earn a living to support your family? Or are you somewhere in between one of these working moms? You have to decide what will make you most happy and revolve your schedule around that because if you are not happy, you will make decisions in an effort to please everyone else and then you will be even more unhappy.  What's worst is you will be even more GUILT RIDDEN because no one will be happy; you will not be doing anything well; and you will just feel like a complete failure.

When you are happy, you will be in a better and more solid position to make decisions which will make the rest of your family happy. Like they say on the air plane flight, you have to save yourself first (with the oxygen mask) and before  you can be any good  to anyone else.  Come on working moms! Let's get rid of the guilt by just being solid on how we want things to roll in our households and then make decisions accordingly!

College Loans - Federal Unsubsidized Stafford Loans

By: K.W. Abbott

Unsubsidized Stafford Loans are not need-based loans.  If there is no financial need, the student can still receive an Unsubsidized Stafford Loan (subject to the Subsidized Stafford Loan limits).  A student must file a financial aid appication to receive this loan.  The interest ratre and repayment terms are the same as the Federal Subsidized Loan.  However, the interest is not subsidized by the federal government duing the time the student is in college.  Therefore, these loans cannot be considered financial aid when comparing financial aid award letters from various colleges.  However, repayment of these loans will not start until six months after the student leaves college.

In a situation where a student does not qualify for need-based financial aid because the Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) is greater than the Cost of Attendance (COA), it may be more beneficial for the student to borrow using an Unsubsidized Stafford Loan rather than for the parents to borrow using a PLUS Loan. There may be a greater probabiity that the student will be able to deduct the interest as student loan interest from the Unsubsidized Stafford Loan than the parents will be able to deduct the interest on a PLUS Loan.

When the student leaves college and claims himself/herself on the student's tax retune, the income wil probably be lower than the income phase-out limits for deducting the student loan interest,  The student can then deduct the interest paid on the Unsubsidized Stafford Loan.

Since the interest accrues during college years and repayment to is deferred until after college years for an Unsubsidized Stafford Loan, the student will be be eligible for a substantial student loan interest deduction.  The parents' income level may be greater than the interest deduction phase-out limit ($150,000 for married) and therefore, they will be unable to deduct any of the interest for the PLUS loan on their tax return.

                                                               National Institute of Certified College Planners, LLC