Archive for the ‘tweens’ category

What’s your biggest parenting problem?

July 23, 2012
do your kids use computers, video games , TV, texting and cell phones too much? Do you as parents have trouble regulating your children's and teen's and tweens use of electronics such as video games, online gaming, sexting, texting and cell phones?

Do your kids spend too much time online and using electronics? Do you often argue with your kids about how often they are hooked up to computer and video games?

Readers –

What’s going on in your families today? I’m interested in your most difficult problem as a parent right now that you wish you could solve by waving a magic wand. Include the ages of your children with the comment.

You can share the hardest problems you’ve faced in the past year, the past five years and/or since your child was born. LIMIT of three big problems per comment.

Be general and concise when describing the problem.  “Discipline” is too general. “Not listening” would be more specific.

Here are examples gleaned from my own parenting challenges.

  • Power struggle between me and my daughter, until she left home.
  • Sibling rivalry — kids fighting, all ages.
  • Telling the truth, lying and trust issues, teens.
  • Morning and bedtime routines.
  • Food and mealtime issues.
  • Toilet training.
  • Excessive screen time — computers, cell phones, gaming, television.

I realize that parenting problems are a moving target. Give a snapshot of Vancouver MLS where you are now, and/or a really big problem you faced since you had your kids. I’m looking forward to your responses.

The Hunger Games

March 23, 2012

The Hunger Games

Parents have a tough decision on whether or not to allow tweens to view “The Hunger Games.”

From Judy Arnal, a fellow parenting educator from Calgary, Canada.

Tips for parents of children watching The Hunger Games Movie

Ideally, see the movie before your child does! However, if attending a midnight movie is not on your fun list, at least be present for processing this weekend!

Talk to your child about the movie – what did she like, dislike?

Ask your child to draw pictures of what she thought of the movie. Give her plain paper, markers and don’t judge. Accept all responses.

Temperament matters more than age. If your child is sensitive and empathiseswith other children, re-consider if this movie is appropriate.

Realize that reading the books is different from watching the images. Reading allows a child’s imagination to interpret the scenes according to their experiences. Watching a movie forces a child to accept an adult’s interpretation of the scenes which can be much more intense and frightening.

Gauge your child’s ability to handle complex subject matter. The onset of puberty allows children the ability to handle abstract thinking and examine the grey areas of right and wrong. Pre-teens are not able to think critically yet, and see things in absolutes or black and white. This is the reason for the PG14 rating.

–Judy Arnall, the Professional Parent

From Raising Able

Talking about “The Hunger Games” and getting them to write and draw about it will reduce the impact of those powerful images. Read the book, too. The book is always better than the movie. It’s one of those books that tweens, teens and parents can read together and talk about.

Make friends with money from the start

October 10, 2011
Children doing chores is an important part of growing up. Children should NOT be paid for doing chores unless they pay parents for doing chores. Children can learn to manage money by being given an allowance and learning how it feels to run out of money. Children, tweens and teens can learn to budget money, plan for special occasions and trips, and spend money carefully. They can learn by having an allowance, but not tied to chores
My daughter Kristen, then about age 6, is painting the basement playroom. Kristen did not get cash for doing this. Her rewards were much more valuable: being connected to our family (the BEST substance abuse prevention) teamwork, learning a work ethic, developing a skill, nurturing self-esteem, self-discipline and competence. Today, Kristen is earning a Masters in Fine Arts in sculpture.

Money. Can’t live without it. Seems like there’s never enough. Many a marriage has failed over money. The challenge is how to teach children the golden rule: spend less than you earn.

You can convey this to children so they grow up to have successful relationships with money, and their life partners.

DO NOT pay children to contribute around the house, also known as chores. Do not pay children to work for money at home unless you want to:

1. Guarantee that you will always have to pay them to do that task, earn that grade, or practice that instrument;

2. Teach them that money can be used to manipulate others; or

3. Teach them that work ought only be done for money. Research shows that money is the LOWEST motivation to do anything.

Parents must be creative, have a plan and work together to make teamwork fun to motivate kids without money, fear or punishment.

This takes time. Pay, praise and reward and punishment are quick and dirty. Creating an environment where contributions are encouraged and appreciated takes time and patience — like most aspects of good parenting.

Start with a family meeting.  This is where to reinforce positive parenting and mold your child into the adult you envision. Or at least to manage their behavior to live peacefully until they leave home :-)

Make a list of everything parents do around the house. Ask every child, tween and teen to make a list of what s/he does. Self-chores do not count, such as, “make my bed, clear my dish, put my toys away.” We’re looking for contributions for the common good: emptying the wastebaskets, setting the table, making the salad or dessert for dinner, mowing the lawn, painting a room. Notice how those chores increased in complexity, as they do as a child gets older.

Ask them what responsibilities they’d like to take on. Write them down. Expect them to do the job in the coming week, month and year. Encourage and appreciate their efforts. Hold them to their agreements by being kind, firm and consistent. This is how they develop the precious gift of self-discipline — doing something we don’t feel like doing at that moment.

Do not pay them by the chore. Do not withhold allowance if they don’t do them. DO give them an allowance that is NOT tied to money. They contribute to the common good, they enjoy the rewards of being in a family. Don’t you have bad days/weeks at work where your performance was lacking?

Here’s a true story about how to handle requests for payment of chores.

Me: (Fixing dinner.) Noah, it’s time to empty the dishwasher. (Notice I didn’t ask him. He agreed to do to the job at a family meeting.)

Noah (age 8): Mom, will you pay me for emptying the dishwasher?

Me: (Pause. Thinking quickly.) Sure, Noah. I’ll pay you $3 for emptying the dishwasher.

Noah: (eyes light up.)

Me: But dinner is $5.

Next post: How to use allowances to teach children how to manage their money.

Back-to-school 2: Empowerment through responsibility

September 12, 2011
First day of school polish and shine. How to get kids to succeed in school is complex and starts with chores in massachusetts and boston. Children who have chores learn self-discipline. Children with chores know how to manage time and succeed in school. Homework is a child's problem and responsibility. It allows them to learn how to manage their time and duties. Don't take it on as your problem. Allow natural and logical consequences to happen. Children can learn from failure. Encourage them. Use family meetings.  "Alfred Adler" would approve.
Ah, the polish of the first day of school.

One day in the supermarket, Eric’s mother asked me, “How’s Noah’s diorama coming?” My truthful answer was, “I have no idea.” Noah and Eric were in fifth grade. Noah’s diorama was his homework, not mine.

By third grade, most typical kids can handle their own homework. The more parents can step back and allow children to take responsibility and experience success AND failure, the more children learn about time management.

I’m the ultimate free-range parent and could have probably been a tad bit more involved. But I can’t argue with success. My “kids,” now 23 to 30 years old, can manage jobs, school, time and money. They live independently and call home, but rarely for money. We have a good adult-to-adult relationship.
It started at home, with family meetings, family dinner, family chores and encouragement. Doing a few simple regular chores at home gives kids an introduction to self-discipline — which is doing things whether we feel like it or not.
Kids will never complete chores and homework up to our high standards. Do you anyone who has lived up to his/her full potential?
Our job is to encourage children, tweens and teens to take baby steps towards taking on the responsibility for their lives — including homework.
Use a family meeting to talk about homework and the morning routine. Set out the expectation that typical kids age 9 and up can manage their school responsibilities with your help as needed. Give every school-age student their own alarm clock [or two if more noise is needed] so they can rouse themselves in the morning.
Here’s the kicker. Allow them to fail. Yes. I repeat, allow failure. Think about how many times you have learned from success, and how much failure it took to get to that success. You had to develop the courage [the root of encouragement] to try again until you succeeded.
Schools have systems in place to deal with students who don’t complete homework. Allowing children, tweens and teens to experience the consequences at school of failing to do homework. Small stumbles at school. even failing a high school course, will never show up on their resume. Yet failure teaches children how to take responsibility and do what they’re supposed to do without nagging, begging, bribery, threats or punishment, which will make them a star on the job.
Letting them handle schoolwork will build mutual respect and enhance the parent-child connection because you trust and encourage them, eliminate nagging, and only interfere when they show they need help.

Plant seeds, have hope

July 11, 2011

exploration, children, toddlers, babies, natural exploration, natural and logical consequences, helicopter parenting, learning, education, allow them to find their own way, according to the latest research. Babies & children can benefit from parents getting off their backs!Look dad, here’s my piecrust!

Summer can be an ideal time for kids to do chores regularly without the interruption of school and other activities.

Make time for regular family meetings and ask them what jobs they want to do. Allow them to stretch. It’s fun to let them cook and enjoy the results. My motto is “It’s hard to hurt homemade food.”
My friend Carol, who is like an aunt to our four children, remembers Kristen’s first attempts at making pies. Carol told me, “Her pies weren’t that good, but you said, ‘Mmm,Kristen, this is good!'” An expert pie maker, Carol kept quiet and ate the pie. Kristen eventually mastered pie crust and makes fabulous pies today. Mastering the art of pie crust gives young cooks the idea, “If I can make a pie crust, I can cook anything.”
Kristen is spending the summer as an intern at Franconia Sculpture Park north of Minneapolis, Minn. In addition to helping resident sculptors and doing her own sculptures, Kristen takes turns cooking dinner for 13 to 15 people.

She has called home for a few recipes and said, “Thanks Mom for teaching me how to cook. I’m one of the better cooks and I can time everything to be done all together.”

I smiled and remembered how I taught Kristen to cook.

At 4:30 or 5 pm, I’d call up to her bedroom where she would be sequestered reading. “Kristen, come help me fix dinner.”

Long silence. “Kristen?”

“Do I have to?”

“Yes. I need your help.” I still hate to cook alone.

making pie from scratch is a way for kids, tweens and teens to learn how to cook. summer vacation is an excellent opportunity to slow down and cook with kids and allow them the independence to cook whatever they want. Allow them to make cookies and other goodies. It will teach them how to cook with confidence. Encourage their cooking efforts. Parenting is about building confidence.
These strawberry rhubarb pies were really delicious.

“I’ll be down in a few minutes.”

Ten minutes later I’d call up again. “Kristen! You said you’d be down in a few minutes!”

Five minutes later she wandered down reluctantly. This is how Kristen learned to cook — reluctantly.

It’s an example of how tweens and teens can resist being included in family time, but they still show up. They like to be invited, to be wanted and included, BUT they can’t show too much enthusiasm because of their age and hormones.

What are your kids doing this summer now that they might have some extra time? If they want to stretch and learn new skills, like making pie crust, appreciate and encourage their efforts. Have patience and hope. You’re planting seeds that will blossom in ways you can’t imagine now.

Family dinner: drug & alcohol abuse prevention

June 28, 2011
pizza making former adolescent. Family dinner is the anti-drug. Family dinner prevents drug abuse, alcohol abuse and cigarette addiction. Family dinner is the best and most effective way to prevent drug abuse
Difficult children eventually grow up and become interesting. I have many “Ian” stories because he was so challenging. He was the third child born in 3.5 years, and has a younger sister. Ian is making pizza dough here. Making pizza together on Friday nights and watching a movie together was one of our family traditions.

I can still see Ian, above, then 17 years old, standing in the kitchen, looking down at me from his 6’2″ height, arguing in a tortured voice.
Ian: “Why do I have to eat family dinner?”
Me: “You must have dinner with us tonight.”
Ian: “It’s stupid.” Shakes hands and shoulders. Sighs.
Me: “It will only take 20 minutes. Then you can go out with your friends.” Some things are non-negotiable. Every fiber of my being sent the message that I was not going to budge from this expectation.
Ian: “I don’t see why I must have family dinner.” I give him the last word. No worries. He came to family dinner and got a dose of connection, values and love.
The primary reason to have family dinner:
Research  shows that regular family dinner (breakfast works, too) three or more times a week results in lower use of drugs, alcohol and cigarettes among teens and tweens.
Family dinner interrupts the time between 2 pm school dismissal and midnight, when junior operators must be off the road. So it limits the distance and trouble they can get into.
The worst trouble one of our teens ever got into was when that teen should have been home for family dinner. Bob and I had become permissive. We immediately got back on the family dinner track.
Our family made pizza together on many Friday nights and watched a G or PG-rated movie together. Everyone put toppings of their choice on a small pizza. By middle school, they could make and roll out the dough so it was a team effort. We all pitched in to clean up. My “kids” request pizza when they come home to visit and we share an enjoyable family dinner.
And Ian? When he celebrated his 26th birthday a few months ago, do you know what he served for a bunch of friends? A dozen homemade pizzas. As they devoured the delicious gourmet pizza, friends commented, “You MADE this? Man, this is really good!”
Get some pizza pans. Connect to your kids. Look how fast they’ve grown already. They will leave home — and this will make you happy. Family dinner reduces the likelihood they will stray towards drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. This will make you happier.

Firm friendly follow-through

March 21, 2011
Kids having fun in the snow, playing, learning natural and logical consequences, how to make good decisions, going 60 miles away, 60 miles an hour. Parenting: about. How to parent, Teenagers, tweens, toddlers, school age, how to parent, parenting teenagers, setting boundaries. related, respectful, reasonable, "Dr. JAne Nelsen, Ph.D. " "Dr. Alfred Adler" "Dr. Rudolf Driekurs" Learning to make good decisions is really important. Parent/child relationship, "tough love" starts early. playing in snow is fun.

Teach kids NOT to skate on thin ice!

On Saturday a scout leader at the Polar Bear Derby (rescheduled from January) told me that he had repeatedly warned his son and the other kids to stay away from the half-melted pond.

Alas, his child got wet.

“I had to take him home for dry clothes and bring him back,” the scout leader said, shaking his head with disappointment.

How wonderful to know Dad will bail out Junior no matter what.  

Or is it wonderful?

Kids who never experience the related outcome of their decisions do not learn to take responsibility for their actions.

Junior learned:

  1. He doesn’t have to listen to Dad — even when his safety is at hand;
  2. Dad will bail him out and he still gets to participate , despite his poor choice.
  3. He can continue to make bad decisions because good ol’ Dad will bail him out.

I’m interested in the big picture and what precedent Dad set. Tough Love is a group of parents of young adults who have realized they constantly enable their child to make bad decisions. The parents must learn  to say No, I won’t bail you out again from the poor choices you made, which often involve substance abuse and addiction.

It’s hard for parents to say “NO” or to deny Junior the Polar Bear Derby.

Dad could have let Junior experience being wet and cold. Junior could have asked to be taken home or gone inside the lodge to warm up.

Ideally, Dad could teach Junior to listen at home, BEFORE the Polar Bear Derby. It takes time, patience and consistency to teach children to listen and make good decisions. Investing the time, patience and consistency in making small decisions may someday save your child’s life.

The goal is for children to become teens who will make good decisions when they become teenagers and they’re 60 miles away, going 60 miles an hour.

Will the young person who is 60 miles away, going 60 miles an hour:

  • Be driving the speed limit?
  • Wearing a seatbelt?
  • Be with friends you know and like?
  • Sober and focused on driving?
  • Have told you the truth about where they are and what they’re doing?
  • Made good choices around sexuality?

Start now to teach good decision-making by giving children enough rope to burn but not enough to hang. Let them experience small repercussions, like being cold and wet during the Polar Bear Derby, forgetting homework or mittens, not being able to find their sporting equipment because they didn’t put it away.

It will pay off in the long run.


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