Allowing Our Kids to Grow Up

One mom who is taking the Priceless Parenting online class shared how she decided to give her kindergartner a choice. Since he started school in the fall, she always drove him to school, parked the car and then walked him to his classroom. One morning she gave him a choice asking “Would you rather have me park and walk you to your classroom or drop you off at the door and walk in by yourself?” He replied that he wanted to try walking in by himself.

Although the mom knew this was a safe situation, she still found herself worrying about the many things that could possibly go wrong before he got to his classroom. Fortunately everything went just fine and her son grew in confidence that day!

Too Wild for One Little Girl

A dad was picking his preschool son up after school. He spent 15 minutes chasing his son and a friend around. Dad would ROAR; the boys would giggle and run away. They were having fun.

A little girl in the same room was crying and clinging to her mom’s leg every time the dad ROARED. Her mother was engaged in conversation with another mother and wasn’t paying attention to her daughter’s reaction.

The dad was having so much fun that he didn’t notice that this was upsetting this little girl. Her mom was so busy she also didn’t notice. When adults ignore a child in distress, the child learns her feelings aren’t very important … not the message we want to give!

Playing Doctor - When to Worry

Young children are naturally curious about their bodies. Part of their development is learning the differences between boys and girls. They may explore these differences by playing the "doctor game" where they take their clothes off in order to show their private parts.

When parents stumble into a situation like this, it can be easy to get upset. Amy Lang from Birds + Bees + Kids recommends calmly addressing the situation, asking the children to put their clothes back on and directing them to another activity.  It might sound like this:  "I see that you are looking at each other's privates.  I feel uncomfortable when I see that happen.  We'll talk about this later.  Why don't you put your clothes on and we'll go outside and play."

Lang explains that this type of sex play is normal and healthy as long as it is spontaneous, mutual and good humored. The time to be concerned is if the behavior is adult-like, aggressive, recurring or involves secrecy or being sneaky.

Trying to Control Too Much

As parents we want to guide our children to making good choices. How do we know when we’ve stepped over the line and are trying to control too much of our children’s behavior?

Luckily children are pretty good at letting adults know when they’ve stepped over that line. If you hear your child saying any of the following, you’re probably over the line:
  • “You’re not the boss of me!”
  • “I’m not going to do that!”
  • “You can’t make me.”
  • “Why do you always get to choose?”
One mom was describing her frustration in getting her daughter to practice the piano. No matter how hard she tried her daughter sat on the piano bench refusing to put her fingers on the keys. This is a typical power struggle and one that mom is likely to lose since her daughter ultimately controls what she does with her fingers!

For ideas on how to handle control issues and avoid power struggles, check out Lesson 2: Control Issues in the Priceless Parenting online class.

Digital technology's impact on kids

Do you ever wonder how all the time kids spend with being digitally connected is affecting their development? A lot of other people are also trying to figure this out.

The PBS Frontline special digital_nation: life on the virtual frontier provides an excellent overview of what is currently known. The entire 90 minute show is available for viewing online.

They look at a range of information from researchers who are studying the effects of multi-tasking to rehab centers in South Korea which are helping kids addicted to the internet. This show presents some fascinating data about how our children are being effected by their digital world.

Motivating children

Do carrots and sticks work well to motivate children? Will the promise of a reward for practicing the piano help our child practice more? Or will the threat of punishment be more effective?

According to Daniel Pink’s latest book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, external rewards and punishment are not effective. The secret for motivating children to high performance lies in allowing their own internal drives to direct their behavior.

Pink describes three elements of true motivation:
  • Autonomy – the need to direct our own lives
  • Mastery – the desire to learn and create new things
  • Purpose – the ability to positively impact ourselves and our world

If you want your child to practice the piano more, try allowing her to choose when to practice, what music to focus on and where to perform that will bring delight to someone else.

Developmental delay?

What do you do if you think your baby might be developmentally delayed?  First it's helpful to know the developmental milestones children are expected to reach at different ages.  Information on developmental milestones for ages 3 months to 5-years-old is available on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

If you feel your child may be developmentally delayed and you live in the United States, you can get a free evaluation and assessment under the IDEA program (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). 

According to the web site for the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY):
IDEA requires that your child receive a timely, comprehensive, multidisciplinary evaluation and assessment. The purposes of the evaluation and assessment are to find out:
  • the nature of your child’s strengths, delays, or difficulties, and
  • whether or not your child is eligible for early intervention services.
Multidisciplinary means that the evaluation group is made up of qualified people who have different areas of training and experience. Together, they know about children’s speech and language skills, physical abilities, hearing and vision, and other important areas of development. They know how to work with children, even very young ones, to discover if a child has a problem or is developing within normal ranges. Group members may evaluate your child together or individually.
The earlier children with developmental delays start getting help, the better off they will be.

Suffering from Wii-gression?

A mom recently told me that her son was suffering from Wii-gression. What? Some new disease I’ve never heard of before?

Yes. She explained it is caused by a child getting a Wii game system and once again having meltdowns and tantrums – behaviors that had been extinguished years ago. These meltdowns happen most often when it is time to shut the game off. Unfortunately not all games have a “save” feature so shutting it off after playing for an hour causes significant stress due to the fact any progress in the game is lost.

Her son was especially upset because he was working hard to get to the next level in the game. She talked to him about her concerns regarding shutting the game down and how it seemed like the game was causing more pain than joy. The solution they came up with was that for games that didn’t have a save feature, he would play with the game but not try to get to the next level.

Have you experienced a similar problem? How did you solve it?

Protecting Your Child from Sexual Abuse

One of a parents worst nightmares is that their child would be sexually abused.  Unfortunately, by age 18, 1 in 10 children have been sexually abused.  In 90% of the cases, the abuser is a family member or someone else known to the child.

How do you teach young children about inappropriate touch without scaring them? A great place to begin for preschoolers is by reading the book My Body Belongs to Me. It's a simple children's story with the message that if someone touches you inappropriately, tell.

Another resource for parents is the Darkness to Light website which describes 5 steps for preventing sexual abuse:
  1. Learn the facts
  2. Minimize opportunity
  3. Talk about it
  4. Recognize the signs
  5. React Responsibly

By understanding the facts and proactively talking to our children, we reduce the likelihood that they will be a sexual abuse victim.

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...