Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bribery works immediately

Why do parents turn to bribing their kids to behave? One reason is that it often gets the desired results right away.

One mom told me about how her son was begging her to watch a Star Wars movie that they had bought the previous night. They were planning to watch it as a family the following night but that wasn’t soon enough for him! He kept on asking to watch it and proceeded to try to persuade her even when she was on the phone.

Since her phone call was for business and she really needed to complete the conversation, she took a quick break to promise her son an ice cream cone if he stopped bugging her. He immediately agreed and stopped nagging her!

While she achieved the desired behavior, he learned that nagging her may result in a treat. Do you think he’ll try nagging her again? Whatever behaviors we reward, we can expect to see more of those behaviors in the future!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Talking to tweens about drinking

The average age in the United States for alcohol initiation is 13-years-old. This fact along with other important research data is reported in Stephen Wallace's book Reality Gap: Alcohol, Drugs, and Sex--What Parents Don't Know and Teens Aren't Telling.

If your child is 11 or 12, it's a good time to start discussing issues around drinking. You might begin a conversation by stating that you recently learned that the 13 is the average age for kids to start drinking. Ask your children for their thoughts on drinking. Share concerns you have about underage drinking.

For these types of ongoing issues, plan on having many short conversations while your children are growing up. Knowing that you are open to discussing tough topics will help your kids feel more comfortable approaching you in the future.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What's wrong with just wanting our kids to be happy?

"I really do just want my kids to be happy! What can possibly be wrong with that?" The potential problem is that it appears there is a connection between parents focusing on making their kids happy with those children actually being increasingly unhappy.

What does the research show?

Although it seems that children who have their basic needs met plus enjoy many extras would certainly be happy, this appears to not be the case.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveyed over 14,000 students in grades 9-12 in 2007. They reported "During the 12 months before the survey, 28.5% of students nationwide had felt so sad or hopeless almost every day for 2 or more weeks in a row that they stopped doing some usual activities."

How do parents play a role?

Loving parents can unintentionally raise self-centered, unhappy children. How does this happen?

(read the rest of the article at Priceless Parenting)

Monday, July 20, 2009

If I could just hit him!

An exasperated dad of a 12-year-old boy told me “I wish I could just beat him! That would straighten him out.” He went on to explain that as a child he had been frequently beat for misbehaving and he quickly learned not to misbehave. His son had just been suspended from school that day for fighting and he was at wits end trying to figure out how to deal with this boy’s behavior.

Hitting an adolescent is a very bad idea. In Dr. Michael Bradley’s book, Yes, Your Teen is Crazy, he explains it this way:

“You are now officially discharged from the army of hitters of children (if you were ever in that group). As the parent of an adolescent, you must assume the status of conscientious objector. You don’t do violence anymore. You don’t hit, smack, butt, throttle, jab, or even look like you might ever do any of these things. You draw an invisible circle around your kid and you never cross over that line uninvited.

You do this for two reasons. The first is that hitting doesn’t work anyway. The second is that smacking an adolescent is an experience very much like whacking at an old stick of dynamite. Often, it doesn’t explode right away, but when it does, it will demolish everything around it. The question is why would anyone whack at a stick of dynamite or at an adolescent?”

When you’re experiencing this level of challenge and frustration with your child, it’s time to get some outside help. Hitting your child is definitely not the answer.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Following instructions but not the intention

I recently saw a young boy and his teenage brother doing some challenging skateboarding tricks. Both kids had helmets with them; however, those helmets were in their hands, not on their heads! I imagined that their parents had told them to take their helmets and that’s exactly what they did.

While the boys had followed their parents’ instructions, they ignored the intention of those instructions. Clearly the helmets do not do any good if they’re not being worn. Perhaps the parents could have been more specific by saying something like “You’re welcome to go skateboarding as long as you wear your helmet.” Then if they observe the boys skateboarding without wearing their helmets, they could impose a consequence like taking away their privilege to skateboard for awhile.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Challenges with bringing the baby home

New parents are often shocked by just how much work one baby creates! All this extra work combined with a lack of sleep frequently causes marital stress. In their book, And Baby Makes Three, the Gottmans document their research findings that "67% of these couples had become very unhappy with each other during the first three years of their baby's life".

If couples fail to successfully navigate these challenging times, their unhappiness unfortunately can lead to divorce. When my children were in preschool, I was both saddened and amazed by how many couples with young children were divorcing.

This book can help couples expecting their first child anticipate some of the challenges and develop strategies for dealing with these challenges. It is also filled with practical advice for all parents with young children.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

I’m going to start smoking

A mom told me a story about her 15-year-old daughter announcing one evening that she had decided she was going to start smoking. Although the mom strongly felt this was not a good idea, she resisted the urge to share her viewpoint. Instead she replied, “I hope smoking doesn’t interfere with your singing.”

The next morning when her daughter came down for breakfast she declared that she had decided against smoking because she really wanted to have the best singing voice possible. Her mom was thrilled that she had changed her mind! She was also happy she held herself back from giving her daughter a lecture about the evils of smoking.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Children swearing

A mom told me about a problem that occurred when chaperoning a 4th grader’s birthday party (children ages 9 – 11 years old). One of the children was asked to leave a laser tag game because he was using obscenities. He was disappointed and angry that he had to stop playing the game.

This mom spoke to him about why his language was inappropriate. She found out that he regularly watched comedians on late-night TV where he learned this type of language. He hadn’t developed the ability to differentiate between appropriate and inappropriate places for using these words.

Later when she let his parents know what had happened, they appeared to be shocked. They quickly learned that the unmonitored TV viewing was having some negative consequences! Although it can be challenging to monitor what are children are viewing on TV and computers, it is essential for parents to do this so that they can provide much needed guidance.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Learning when not to trust

One of the hardest things is watching your children learn that not everyone in the world is kind and honest. My 13-year-old son recently learned this at his school. He had been bringing his IPOD to school to listen to music on the bus ride to and from school. He always kept it in his backpack which was with him.

However, during a track practice, he had left his backpack unlocked the locker room. While he was practicing, someone went through his backpack and took his IPOD. He was shocked and disappointed that someone would do this. It was a valuable lesson but certainly a tough one to go through.