Thursday, October 28, 2010

Teens share experience to help others stay safe

Last Halloween Melissa Robles and Hailey Vileta were out trick-or-treating with a group of 15 friends. Tragically they were struck by a car and ended up in the hospital with serious injuries. Now they are using their experience to try to help other kids avoid a similar tragedy.

They are telling their story at local Seattle schools. Yesterday they were at my son's school telling about what happened to them last Halloween. It certainly left an impression on him.

You can read more about their story on their website, Stay Alert & Stay Safe and also hear them discuss it on Good Morning America. It's really inspirational how Melissa and Hailey are sharing their story as a way to warn others. Be sure to talk to your kids about making safe choices when they are out this Halloween!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Helping kids avoid online traps

It's very easy to fall for an online trap - downloading content containing viruses, giving away personal information to thieves or sharing passwords or pictures with people who eventually misuse the information.  These are very common problems encountered by kids and adults alike.  Common Sense Media has put together a short video where three kids share their stories of how they fell into one of these online traps.

It's a short video worth watching with your children:

Monday, October 18, 2010

Children Dangerously Breaking Rules

We establish rules to help keep our kids safe. We'd all like to believe our children would make the right choice when presented with a situation like whether or not to answer the door to a stranger. But what would they really do?

What would your kids do?

Recently NBC's Dateline tested a few kids in tough situations in a program called "The Perils of Parenting". Although it wasn't a scientific test, they demonstrated how easy it is to get kids to break rules.

They set up various situations where the kids were recorded on hidden cameras. Parents were interviewed ahead of time and asked how they thought their children would respond. Parents expressed how they hoped their children would act but often had nagging doubts as to how their kids would actually behave.

In one scenario, 12 and 14-year-old siblings were home alone when a man with a badge knocked on their door. Much to their parents' disappointment, they opened the door and let him in when he explained that he was in the neighborhood inspecting milk. This scenario had been used successfully by a real child predator.

Does the way you word a rule matter?

(read the rest of the article at Priceless Parenting)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Parenting rises to the top of the pyramid

A team of psychologists has revised Abraham Maslow's pyramid of needs based on recent research.   Maslow originally proposed the pyramid in 1943 in a paper titled "A Theory of Human Motivation".  The pyramid showed five levels of needs with physical needs at the bottom and self-actualization at the top. 

This is Maslow's pyramid of needs (Credit: Doug Kenrick, Arizona State University):

The revised version also has "Immediate Physiological Needs" at the bottom but now parenting is at the top - where it belongs!  This is the revised version (Credit: Doug Kenrick, Arizona State University):

When the researchers looked into what makes humans successful in surviving as a species, then mate acquisition, mate retention and parenting came in at the top.  Their research paper explains why parenting is seen as more critical to evolutionary success than self-actualization.

I always felt that parenting is the most important job that any of us will ever do ... and now we have the pyramid to back up this claim!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Criticizing other people's parenting

I was recently talking to a mom who has been struggling with her teenage son's behavior. This past summer they sent "Carl" to spend some time with an uncle's family on a ranch. Carl told his uncle and aunt all about what rotten parents he had.

When my friend and her husband came to pick Carl up, they were unprepared for the criticism they received at the dinner table about their poor parenting. Nobody likes to have their parenting criticized and certainly not in a public situation. Needless to say, this experience has put a huge strain on those family relationships.

While it can be tempting to judge other people's parenting and set them straight, it is not a helpful or compassionate approach. In situations like these it's good to remember the Golden Rule - treat others the way you would like them to treat you.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Bullied into suicide

How are you guiding your children in the ways they should treat others? Do you talk about challenging situations where another child is from a different race, religion or sexual orientation? What values do your children see you demonstrating?

Given the recent tragedies involving teens taking their own lives after being bullied, it’s clear that as parents we need to be more frequently discussing these moral issues. We especially need to talk about how to treat others who are gay or lesbian since these kids are singled out more often for cruel bullying.

One of the most recent tragedies was Tyler Clementi, an 18-year-old freshman at Rutgers University, who took his life on September 22nd after his college roommate posted video of him and another man making out. The two 18-year-old students who posted the video are being charge with invasion of privacy. They face 5 to 10 years in prison if convicted.

How did these teens ignore the legal and moral issues associated with their behavior? Clearly they are very intelligent to have gotten into Rutgers but they seemed to be lacking any empathy towards Tyler. What went wrong that they didn’t develop this empathy?

It is up to us to teach our children about the importance of treating everyone with dignity. Their future and maybe even their lives depend on it.