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Health & Parenting

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They’re back in school. Do you know what your tweens are really up to? A guide for parents.

Breaking The Rules

Cursing
Fifty-two percent admitted using swearwords at school. What you can do: Watch your own language-parents are kids' greatest role models. You should also explain that cursing can offend people or hurt their feelings. If bad language continues to be a problem, ask the teacher to e-mail you a weekly behavior report. Then let your child know that you and Mrs. Johnson will be in touch regularly.

Cutting class
Twenty-two percent admitted they've played hooky. What you can do: Ask the school for attendance records. If your tween isn't showing up, try your best to avoid yelling. That kind of reaction rarely translates into positive changes in a kid's behavior. Instead, create a contract with your child to outline what the consequences will be if he ditches class. Work together to come up with realistic terms. This way, you'll be giving your tween responsibility and making clear what you expect from him.

Forging signatures
Thirty-five percent of tweens admitted turning in fake notes, whether to excuse an absence or to give permission for a field trip. What you can do: See if the school can keep your signature and handwriting samples on file so that administrators will be able to detect fakes right away.

Good Housekeeping Magazine

PHOTO BY ADAM GAULT/GETTY IMAGES

80% of ten-year-old girls have been on a diet
Our source: a Magellan Health Services study. Plus, in our online survey, 34 percent of the tween girls said they've cut back on their eating without telling Mom. What you can do: Kids look to parents as examples, so don't ever let the words "I'm so fat!" escape your mouth. Your daughters-and sons-internalize what you say about body image, so keep criticisms in check. You should also be careful about how often you talk about your child's looks. Even too much praise can send the wrong message. Make sure you offer compliments that don't always focus on appearance. What if your tween really does have a weight problem? Take action, but don't make her feel like an outsider. Get the whole family involved in exercise and eating well.

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