A dying dad's message to his kids

Randy Pausch, a professor from Carnegie Mellon, is dying from pancreatic cancer. On September 18, 2007 he gave a last lecture titled "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams" (watch it on YouTube). It's an incredibly moving and inspiring presentation filled with laughter. It's a gift he created for his three young children to cherish when they are older. As you watch this video, think about the legacy you want to leave for your own children.

He's also written a book titled The Last Lecture.

Keeping your children safe

May 25th is Missing Children's Day. It is a day set aside to raise awareness around child safety. According to the U.S. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, there are over 2,000 children reported missing each day in the United States. To help prevent these tragedies, it's important for parents to teach their children how to be safe.

Rules for older children include:

1. Don’t go out alone.
2. Always tell an adult where you’re going.
3. It’s your body – reject unwanted and inappropriate attention.
4. Say no if you feel threatened and tell a trusted adult.

You can read more about these rules and real stories which emphasize the importance of the rules. There are many free resources available to help parents like the 16 page booklet, Personal Safety for Children: A Guide for Parents.

Spend some time today teaching your children about safety!

Are you over-controlling your children?

It’s very easy for parents to try to control their children in order to ensure their children do what’s best: eat the right food, do all their homework, follow the rules, participate in sports every season and hang out with the right friends. In an attempt to protect their children, parents often try to prevent their children from making mistakes. However, this also prevents the children from becoming self-sufficient and confident.

What are some signs that you might be over-controlling your children?
  • Lots of power struggles with your children
  • Children acting rebellious
  • Children lacking self-confidence
  • Teens looking to you for help in making most of their decisions

One mom complained that her teens still turned to her for permission on nearly all their decisions. Looking back she said she realized she had made nearly all of the decisions for them but at the time didn’t realize the impact it was having on her kids.

A key goal for children is to learn the skills they need to be independent and self-sufficient. What are you doing to help your child learn to be self-confident, weigh consequences and make choices? If you want ideas, check out the Priceless Parenting course!

Talking about the birds and the bees

One more thing on your to-do list as a parent … talk to your kids about relationships, love and sex! Did you know that the conversation should be started by age five and that by age seven children should have a basic understanding about the facts of reproduction? Children with this information are less likely to be the victims of sexual abuse.

When you start the dialog when children are young, it’s easier to continue it as they grow older. If you’re not sure what to say or how to approach the subject, there are many excellent books on sexuality for all age groups.

This is the perfect time to talk to your kids since May is Teen Pregnancy Prevention month. Help your children get the information they need to make wise decisions.

Avoiding power struggles around eating

I overheard one 9 year old girl ask her dad “Why are you the boss of what I eat?” Her dad was carefully monitoring how much his daughter was eating and encouraging her to eat more in order to earn dessert.

This type of every day battle takes a toll on relationships plus makes meal time unpleasant. It is the parent’s job to provide healthy food and to teach children why their bodies need healthy food. However, it is the children’s job to decide what to eat and how much to eat. This is an essential skill for all children to develop.

If you want to set limits around food, tell the children what you are going to do instead of what they have to do. For example:

“I’ll be serving dinner until 6:30.”
“I’ll be giving dessert to everyone who has finished their vegetables.”
“We’ll be leaving the restaurant in 5 minutes. Eat enough to keep you going until breakfast.”

Dealing with teasing, bullying and putdowns

It can be really hard for parents when they learn their child is dealing with teasing, bullying or putdowns at school. Ideally parents will teach children how to handle themselves in a way that deals with the teasing and makes it less likely to happen in the future.

There are a number of ways to respond to teasing that work well, for example, using a short response like "interesting point". There are also a number of ways that typically increase the teasing like tattling to the teacher or getting upset.

I recently read the book "Words Will Never Hurt Me". The author does an excellent job describing practical approaches that work well in dealing with teasing.

Powerful 1-2 word reminders

Yesterday I saw two young boys goofing around in a grocery store parking lot, not paying attention to the traffic around them. Their dad said “parking lot”. That’s all he said. The boys quickly stopped messing around and paid attention to where they were.

One or two word reminders can be effective while saving you from accidentally launching into a mini-lecture (“How many times do I have to remind you to be careful in parking lots!? There are cars ...”).

Another mom told me that when her daughter forgot to put her dirty dishes in the dishwasher after dinner she would just say “plate” and walk away. She said using a one word reminder was effective and prevented her from ranting at her daughter.

Words to avoid: "I told you so"

Last week I saw a young boy walking home with his mother from school. He tripped on the bottom of his pants, fell, skinned his knee and burst into tears. His mother reminded him that she had told him this might happen if he wore those pants.

It would have been so much better had she just used empathy to comfort him. Had she instead said something like "Oh how sad. That really hurt.", she would have been on the same side of the problem as her son with his bad decision on the other side.

Nobody likes hearing "I told you so". It can be sometimes feel good to say it but it is far better for your relationship with that other person if you avoid saying it.

Mother's Day inspiration

Please join me on Sunday May 11th, 2008 as I am the featured Inspirational Luminary on InspireMeToday.com. Inspire Me Today™ is a website that provides the Best of the Best Inspiration Daily™- each day from a different person. Enjoy a 10-minute podcast, a 30-minute audio feature, a personal story or just my quote of the day. It's easy. Just click on the image below and be inspired! Thanks for joining me!


What makes time-outs work or fail?

If you are finding that time-outs are not working well, see if you have these items covered:

1. Provide a rich, nurturing "time-in" environment (so that the child wants to be there)

2. When you ask your child to take a time-out, make the request unemotionally, using few words.

3. Do not give children attention while they are in time-out.

4. Allow children to leave time-out once they have quieted themselves and feel they are ready to rejoin the family.

5. Be consistent in how time-outs are given.

For more detailed information, please read the article "What Makes Time-Out Work (and Fail)?".

Tracking children’s grades online

Many schools are now providing the ability to track student’s grades online through programs like ParentCONNECT or Parent Assistant. Although our school does provide the ability to track our kid's grades online, I have never used it.

I've always given my children the expectation that they are responsible for their school work. If I need to see something, then it is up to them to show me. This sends them the message that I trust them and I’m not worrying about their homework so they’d better be the ones concerned about it! Ultimately, I want my children to choose to try their hardest in school because it is in their own best interest.

What are your thoughts on this?

Meet me on May 4th - Seattle Center

I'm participating in the Northwest Enterprising Mom's Spring Event at the Seattle Center on Sunday May 4th 11:00 - 3:00. The event takes place in the Exhibition Hall and I'd love to meet you if you are in the area. I'll have a table at the event and I'll also be giving a talk from 2:00 - 2:30 on "Taking the Stress Out of Parenting".

Sugared Cereal Is Not Healthy For Kids

Did you know that  sugared cereals have more sugar per serving than frosted cakes or donuts? Yikes! Dr. Michael Greger's article, &qu...