Threatening kids into better behavior

Threatening people works. It works quickly to change their behavior. If a guy with a gun asks you for your wallet, you hand over your wallet. It's not because you've suddenly decided that he deserves your money but rather that you have little choice. What thoughts would be going through your mind in this situation? How would you be feeling towards the gunman?

The same ideas about threats applies with children. We can threaten them to get them to behave but it deteriorates our relationship with them. Threatening children who are misbehaving may get them to change their immediate behavior but it doesn't help them learn to make better choices in the future.

Back to school, back to bullying?

We certainly hope that back to school does not mean back to bullying! Unfortunately being bullied at school is the reality for too many children. According to the National Crime Prevention Council, "Bullying has become a tidal wave of epic proportions."

Everyone's Role

In her book The Bully, the Bullied and the Bystander, Barbara Coloroso explains "Breaking the cycle of violence involves more than merely identifying and stopping the bully. It requires that we examine why and how a child becomes a bully or a target of a bully (and sometimes both) as well as the role bystanders play in perpetuating the cycle. A deadly combination is a bully who gets what he wants from his target; a bullied child who is afraid to tell; bystanders who either watch, participate in the bullying, or look away; and adults who discount bullying as teasing, not tormenting;"

When Your Child is the Bully

If your child has bullied someone, it's important to help him build his skills so that he finds better ways of acting in the future. Punishing him by grounding him or taking away privileges may only encourage him to find ways to avoid being caught in the future.

(read the rest of the article at Priceless Parenting)

Turning 18 - legal ramifications for parents

My daughter will soon be turning 18.  My sister-in-law, who is a financial planner, recently sent along some important information about things parents need to think about.  Once children turn 18, they are legally considered adults. This applies even if they are still in high school.

Since they are now adults, parents no longer have the same level of access or authority over their child's financial, educational and medical information. This can cause problems in cases where the child needs help in these areas.

Lowry Hill's article "The Transition to Adulthood: Readying Children for the Real World" discusses things to be considered from a legal and financial viewpoint. They recommend preparing and signing these documents:
  • Health Care Power of Attorney
  • Living Will
  • Durable General Power of Attorney
Having these documents can prevent parents from needing to go to court. For example, they state "Without a Health Care Power of Attorney, parents may end up spending time in emergency court hearings trying to obtain legal authority to make time-sensitive medical decisions for their child."

While filling out legal documents is not the way most of us like to spend our time, these documents could save us a lot of heartache in the future.   These legal documents vary by state and most can be obtained online. 

Educating kids about advertising

Children are bombarded with ads every time they watch TV or use the computer. How saavy are your children about advertising tricks?

There's a fun, educational site called "Don't Buy It: Get Media Smart" that helps kids learn about advertising. There are activities like figuring out what toy is really in the box based on the ad on the box. It's not as easy as it looks ... I got the first one wrong!

My favorite part of the site is their banner ads. They look just like real banner ads you see all over the web but when you click on the ad you see information about that type of ad.

This site does a wonderful job helping kids learn about advertising in a fun way. Best of all it's free!

Constantly correcting children

A dad was at a hotel swimming with his six-year-old daughter. He apparently was in the habit of giving her many warnings even when she was behaving just fine.

He told her many things like
  • “If you don’t put on sunscreen, you’re not going swimming.”
  • “Don’t splash anyone. People don’t like to be splashed.”
  • “If you run, you might slip and get hurt.”
However, she wasn’t splashing, running or refusing to put on sunscreen. He was just warning her in advance.

The problem with these types of warnings is that the unspoken message is “I don’t trust you to know how to behave so I’m telling you.” This is not a message we want to be giving our children!

It’s easy to get in the habit of trying to protect our children from any and all mistakes. However, they’ll do better if we can show confidence in their ability to make good choices.

Letting Go as Children Grow

Letting go isn't easy - especially when it comes to our kids. It can be scary to let go and perhaps to not be there to rescue them from trouble.

However, if our children are to launch successfully as young adults, we need to continually encourage them to become increasingly independent. Most of us find it easy to encourage our babies to take their first steps. It's so exciting to see them learn to walk!

It is far more difficult to leave them for the first time at daycare - especially if they are crying and reaching for you as you walk away! Eventually they learn that you will return and they learn ways to comfort themselves while you are away.

Every day our children take small steps towards independence. Some days our children take big steps - like when they leave for college.

We'll soon be driving our daughter to college for the first time. She'll be living on the other side of the state and starting a new phase of her life. Although I'm excited for her, I'm also saddened knowing how much we'll miss having her at home. Letting go certainly isn't easy.

The online course "Ready to Launch: Parenting Teens Through the College Transition" is a wonderful resource for preparing parents for this change.

Being online - talking to your kids about it

Once your children have access to the internet, there is a whole new set of risks and responsibilities for parents to consider.  From setting up anti-virus software to configuring appropriate parental controls, there's a lot to know.  Besides configuring computers and cellphones, parents also need to talk to their kids about a range of topics from protecting their personal information to cyberbullying.

The Federal Trade Commission's booklet  "NET CETERA: Chatting with Kids About Being Online" provides practical advice on talking to your kids about being online.  This booklet contains a good overview of topics to discuss with your children to increase their abiility to stay safe online.

Are you teaching your kids moderation?

Messages pour into our children about all the wonderful things they should have – from the latest video games to the best tennis shoes. Do our children need al these things? No, but they certainly want them!

We are left with the challenging task of teaching our children the difference between “needs” and “wants”. Learning moderation and that you can’t always have what you want are not easy lessons.

In her book Life is Short – Wear Your Party Pants, Loretta LaRoche cautions “Kids are told over and over to get the latest and the greatest, and it becomes a relentless testing of parents’ willpower. It’s hard to say no when all the other kids have something. But that’s where moderation comes in. If you don’t say no to them, when will you? Giving in just because other kids were able to torture their parents into saying yes isn’t good enough. Perhaps it’s time to gather your family and spend a few hours discussing your values – and moderation needs to be one of them.”

Encouraging Words for Parents

You work hard as a parent to do the best for your kids.  For the most part, it is a thankless job.  Watch this video for some encouraging ...