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Why cursing in front of a child is good

A lot of us moms play video games with our kids and get fired up. Part of that emotion might result in cursing in front of a child.

Our culture is one that inhibits emotions. A generation ago we were taught to speak only when spoken to and hide your emotions under that sleeve. But that’s a lot of baloney. Demonstrating emotion in front of children is healthy and natural. That’s what cursing in front of a child is good – it teaches them that momma is human, too.

Of course, we should qualify when cursing in front of a child is good and when it’s bad. Some curse words are racially charged while others are downright offensive. It is never okay to use some curse words. However, personal expression among piers or by one’s self is a natural and reasonable characteristic – even in children.

The level of alarm dictates the appropriateness of the curse word
Playing video games with my son gives me pause to remember that having older kids has it’s own advantages, too. Where intimacy rules the nest while they’re young, children sometimes distance themselves from parents who fail to interact with them in the ways they find normal. Video games are an extension of the modern child – like it or not. Here is the world where they interact and learn to conquer their inhibitions while dealing with their emotions while polishing their skills.

Someone rear-ends me in a car? That’s cause for an explicative. Someone kills me in a video game – that’s not the time to curse in front of a child.

Why cursing in front of a child is goodSuddenly, you’re sitting there with console and hand and have just won that video game fight. You hear the dreaded work “S@#$ Mom! You killed me!” You are a little taken back at first, but then realize it’s a point to be addressed. How are you going to handle this situation? The reason cursing in front of a child is good has everything to do with the reason that explicative is used – and which one is used.

When is it a curse word?
You can either make the use of curse words a negative experience or one for a positive teaching lesson. I’ll assume you don’t have your head in the sand about the fact most children are going to curse whether you’re around or not. The ideal parenting situation is that they are comfortable testing the boundaries on parents (instead of someone else), so that you can guide them in the proper etiquette and technique for effective expression.

A word is a curse word when it is derogatory in nature, and it is used without premeditation.

Many people believe that cursing is a sign of a limited vocabulary. I believe that if you have a large enough vocabulary that it is possible to find different words to use rather than cursing. The other side of that coin is that many people believe that it is just part of the culture. As parents our kids are going to curse if we want them to or not. It can also be looked at as though they are just other words – but that’s a mistake. Sometimes at the moment, people need to use those words of absolute emotional conviction.

Responsible Cursing
This debate has gone on a long time. Many times the answer to why cursing is wrong is based on the ideal that it is a sin. In addition, another reason that cursing is wrong is because words have power. It is important to know that when our children begin using those words, it also can be hurtful to those that they talk with. Teaching them these points is the first step in teaching responsible cursing.

Pro of Cursing
There are several reasons cursing is okay:

  • Social Bonding – Some people believe cursing can increase the social bonding. When used in a social situation, it can be a sign of openness, that you are easy going, as well as just being fun.
  • Power – Many believe that cursing offers kids power. Through cursing, some individuals will be empowered to react to their situation. It can be seen as being confident and having a high self-esteem.
  • Self-Expression – Cursing can be a way that people can express themselves. It can also be something that some people find important, and that makes them more lively.

Cons of Cursing
There are also several reasons for  why cursing can be bad:

  • Unacceptable to others – Many times cursing can turn conversations into aggressive conversations quickly. Some curse words are racially charged while others are downright offensive. It is never okay to use these words.
  • Bad Self-Expression – Cursing can offer a bad impression, it can endanger relationships, and it can make you unpleasant to be with. Having a bad attitude, or showing your lack of character as well as reflecting ignorance are reasons that one should not curse. Negativity is no way of life.
  • Poor Use of Language – Cursing is not a sign of good language, it can be abrasive and shows a lack of control in expression. Cursing lacks imagination as well as the ability to communicate clearly.
  • Decline of Etiquette – Society looks at cursing as the decline of politeness. It also can offend individuals as well as make others uncomfortable. Children and adults will be left out when they don’t know the rules of etiquette.

As a child I never dared to speak to my parents using curse words, but I used them with friends as a way to look cool. As I got older I realized these social rules were shallow and lacking maturity – about the same time all my friends realized it, too. We grew out of it when we realized we wanted to be adults, to emulate adults.

Having teenagers, I know that they curse. My children are not afraid to curse in front of me. I’m not afraid to call them out on it. They know I would rather them use better adjectives and we work on controlling our outbursts and effective communications.

In contrast, my daughter is five and I am concerned that she will pick up the habit of cursing. For this reason I hold my tongue and also displine my other children to avoid bad self-expression and poor use of language around her.  I want her to learn to be expressive in a positive manner. We can have different standards for age groups. But it is a regimented system, and at some point I’ll accidentally let fly a curse word. When it happens I will use the moment to teach my daughter about cursing. However, I will accept my daughter’s sense of expression as I hope she will learn to accept mine. Together, we can work on the best ways to communicate.

The 4 safety positions for third trimester sex

It’s amazing how many times women turn down sex when they’re pregnant. Of course it’s a valid concern they may hurt the little one, or that pregnant women on bed rest might be over-taxed. But for the majority of women who are pregnant – even within their third trimesters – sex while pregnant can be good for the baby and mommy.

Gynecologists are in agreement that sex during pregnancy – even up until the very end – is safe and normal. The New Health Guide even talks about the joys of getting around that big baby bump: “You can get creative and try positions which put lesser pressure on your bigger bump.”

There are even ways to enhance sex between husband and wife, by taking the opportunity to step outside comfort zones to try new and interesting positions.

Four Safe Sex Positions for Third Trimester Sex

  1. Daddy Sporking – What starts off as spooning and cuddling will often result in the husband promoting his agenda by jabbing his partner in the back. The sexual spork is a form of rear-entry position where one partner lies on one side with knees bent while the man typically enters the partner from behind.
  2. Mommy Doggy Style – Because that baby bump can get too difficult for the woman to lay on her belly, this crouching position – on all fours – is another form of rear-entry positioning that allows for greater control by both partners. In ancient Rome, this practice was known as coitus more ferarum.
  3. Momma on the Mountain - Because pregnant sex can sometimes be painful given the obvious physical changes going on in the woman’s body, a woman finds control by climbing on top of her partner and leaning back or forward (holding his angles or knees if necessary) so that she manages the agenda.
  4. The Sideways Samba Momma – This position is different from spooning in that the woman turns away from her partner with her legs straight out in front at a ninety-degree angle, making an L-shape with her torso. This position is the riskiest of the four because the man maintains most of the control when entering his partner. Cosmo has a good take on it.

Why Pregnant Sex is Good

It is important to remember that while you are pregnant your senses are heightened. In many cases women have a higher sexual desires than before they were pregnant. The orgasms reached while pregnant are higher based on some physiological reasons. Hormones are a lot higher when a woman is pregnant, this increased blood flow as well as increased sensitivity of the genital areas is something to be celebrated and indulged.

One of the greatest things about be pregnant is that you are able to do a lot more. One of the fun things that we are able to enjoy is food and sexual pleasure. Sex was fun before I was pregnant, however after I got pregnant it became far more enjoyable and fun.

Get Your Bump OffAvoids Preterm Labor & Complications – Preterm labor is something that concerns all women. Even though contractions do happen during some women’s orgasms, it is not true that an orgasm can bring on early labor. In fact, there is anecdotal evidence (from my friends) that sex helps optimize the beginning of labor. For instance, when I was in the last weeks of my last pregnancy, I benefited from sexual intercourse by keeping my body optimized and active down there. And once my labor set in, the contractions were increased from sex while circulation of blood and hormones such as serotonin were encouraged.

Sperm is good for women – Sex can help to reduce the risks of complications through pregnancy because of the medicinal qualities sperm is known to have on women, both orally and vaginally. These protective properties offered by sperm also help women to avoid complications that could be life-threatening. For example, pre-eclampsia has been reduced through sex and oral sex.

Reduce Stress – Pregnancy gave me many new aches and pains that I didn’t have before. I thought I was never going to get rid of the backaches or headaches. In my case I tried many traditional and nontraditional medicinal options. However, it wasn’t until it was suggested that I increase sexual intercourse to reduce the stress on my body.

There have been studies suggesting that having stimulation in the genital region can help to increase an individual’s ability to handle pain. After all, sexual arousal is designed to bring pleasure, and that resulted in reducing my pain. The endorphins released during foreplay and after orgasm are similar to those that a runner experiences during a run.

Partner Bonding – One of the important things about pregnancy is to enjoy the time you’re pregnant. One way that you can enjoy pregnancy is through feeling like nothing has changed within your life. Don’t let a lack of sex with your husband create those distant and cold nights and days we all fear. Sex can make the couple feel a bit happier, as well as more stable.

While most women will not have problems from sexing it up during their pregnancy, there are specific issues that may prevent a woman from sexual activity, including if the placenta covers part of the cervix (called “previa”), if the woman experiences vaginal bleeding, or after the water has broken (get thee to the hospital!). Obviously, women should feel empowered to say no to sex if they don’t feel it’s right for them. But women should feel free to indulge their sensual side throughout pregnancy.

The junk food compromise

I went on a change-your-diet-change-your-life kick, limiting all the snack, sweet, fast food, or junk foods from my family’s diet. It was easier for me than you’d think because I was the only one buying groceries. I just didn’t buy it anymore.

Just because something isn’t available doesn’t mean people won’t miss it. I thought everyone would just decide that my way was the best way – then fall in line and eat their fruit without considering the chocolate that still sat on the grocery store shelves.

Boy, was I wrong.

The Junk Food CompromiseMy children are traditional junk foods kids. They use bad foods as their drug. There, I admit it. They have an addiction, so while a physical change in food availability may be real, my children’s emotional change was a different story. I wanted to cut out the junk food for a long time, and I figured cold-turkey was the way to go. We’d become healthier and live happily ever after. A forced change.

But something went horribly wrong early on. Kids are resilient. They’re as wily as those prisoners in old prison movies where cigarettes and nudie magazines are smuggled in from god-knows-where. Due to the intensity of that first week after I banished junk food, my kids cracked and started getting their supply from somewhere else. The difference was that they now felt the need to hide their sweets from me. Smuggling junk food behind my back.

Having them hide things from me made me feel like a horrible mom. My children, until this point, had been communicating with their troubles and joys, freely expressing their passions and longings. I know they kept secrets from me in the past, but never physically hiding things – not to mention hiding upset feelings.

By the second week of smuggling and hiding foods, I realized there would need to be another approach. Parenting 101 for me, I guess, but I finally got to the point where I understood kids have to be educated on the lifestyle change I wanted for them. Force won’t work. By week two I sat them down and went over the following checklist, adapted from author Charity Curley Mathews:

  • Everyone over the age of 2 eats the same meal
  • Mix the vegetables in things to get them to eat vegetables
  • Small portions of the unhealthy stuff, and everyone eats the same amount
  • Less packaged and fast-food
  • Two snacks during the day (no more)
  • We drink water or milk (I added juice on special occasions)

This means that we all had to eat together and choose good foods to eat. Understanding the need for a balance of protein, fruits, vegetables, grains and dairy is where I started.

But guess what? It didn’t work. Well, not all the time anyway. Yes, we failed and we gave in to our kids, giving them junk food occasionally, but now we have a conversation about ideals. It’s important for kids to be educated about the difference.

My decision to reintroduce junk food went wrong at first. But it was the best thing I ever did because they spent the next week eating horrible things. But the conversation finally came back around and I asked everyone to make an effort at the rules.

More and more, the conversations are about eating dinner with the family – their WANTING to eat with the family. They still ate a lot of sweets and junk foods, but they also understood and sought out dinner with healthy foods. I was pleased because little by little they choose to healthy foods. By the next week they weren’t eating any sweets. They were not hiding foods either – at least I hope not!

But the point is that there should be no going “cold turkey” or forcing extreme changes on children without including them in the conversation. By posting shared values and failing at living up to them, we’re finding a realistic compromise the honest compromise. It’s good to have my family working together on their junk food addiction, not hiding it.

Discipline children with respect, not humiliation

With authority over children comes the responsibility to discipline children with respect. Sometimes we all feel a lack of respect for an irrational child with no concept of civility, but parents must remember to respect their children for who they will become, not what they are in the moment. Because many teachers are often the first line of authority for children, sometimes there is a tendency to punish openly and publicly. In a recent classroom situation at a school, a little girl had drawn a picture of a tree house and swing on to her desk. As a result the student was disciplined with a trip to the office, no recess, and she was forced to clean the desk – the teacher also took the student's desk and chair away for the rest of the year. The student completed the school year using a clipboard as a desk and sitting on the floor instead of in a chair. Discipline with respectOf course the girl felt humiliated by the punishment. She was too scared to tell her parents about what the teacher did because she thought her mistake was so horrible she did not deserve the use of a desk any longer. Certainly she remembered the lesson learned, but there was also a great deal of other consequences incurred for the nature of the punishment – including the fact she felt inclined to lie about the punishment as well as never wanting to draw again. Many authority figures discipline with fear, through force, or by punishment. However, this is not discipline by definition.
Discipline is the teaching or training of an individual to accomplish a goal.
The education of self-reliance, self-control and respect for themselves and others is taught to our children through discipline. Finding safe and humane ways of teaching our children is the difference between them offering respect and demanding respect. How to discipline children with respect Every parent should display and promote a rigid list of rules, and the consequences for breaking these rules. Parents should also have known tiers of severity for the consequences – from minor offenses to the most severe. By disclosing these rules and consequences in advance we are creating environments that are not going to sabotage our children with unknown or unexpected situations that result from their careless or overt acts. Then, enforce discipline with clarity, consistency and caring. Read more

Why fathers should not preach natural childbirth

Listen, I tip my hat to women who welcome natural childbirth – in the same way I like to gawk at David Blaine for freezing himself in a block of ice. But if you’re a woman who feels the need to avoid a natural childbirth – don’t feel bad. You’re taking advantage of what medicine has to offer, and it's for your own good. And for those husbands who preach natural childbirth on their expecting wives – you guys are fools. Know-it-all mothers continue to preach natural as the only way to have a successful conclusion to pregnancy. But we should've followed our senses instead of reading books. My wife and I made a decision based on sentiment and emotion, but the reality of it was something different entirely. But we won't make that mistake again. Natural ChildbirthI accept the fact that natural childbirth has its advantages. For example, the mother bonds with her baby by sharing the trauma of entry, and the mother can (in theory) remain alert and active while pushing out the baby, which can lead to a lessened likelihood for intervention. But after my wife recently had a baby using "natural methods" without any sort of pain management other than breathing exercises, I swore I'd warn every expectant father how wrong they are for preaching natural childbirth to their wives. Listen, the woman has her whole life to bond with her fetus, so take advantage of modern medicine and help your wife feel empowered by it. Of course, it's her call to decide ultimately, but remember that women can be empowered by making a decision that includes pain killers. Aren't women bigger than just their babies? Haven't we gotten over that as a society? Why, then, is there this guilt women find themselves feeling when other women preach natural childbirth? We’ve come a long way when it comes to advancements in medicine. Today, women don’t have to go through what our ancestors went through when they gave birth. The scene has been portrayed in movies countless of times: she's cursing his man for getting her pregnant, breaking the nearest arm she can get her hands on, and all the while vowing never to get pregnant again. I can tell you that this is exactly what happened with my wife, and she says she'll never do it again without...
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The progressive philosophy of intelligence in children

I was recently babysitting my 9-year old nephew while his parents went out on date night. We mostly sat around his house playing cards and talking, but then he got to going about his good grades, and I was suddenly not very interested in talking with him anymore.

“Because I am smart.”

He bragged about the good grades he received during the school year, going on and on about why he was superior to his classmates. He had never been an especially arrogant boy, but something in him recently triggered this new-found confidence play.

I read Kristine Croto’s forward strategy on using the inverse power of praise on children, and it seems to be something of a revelation for what many of us already know – intelligence must be reinforced through discipline and work.

The classical concept has intelligence as a relatively stable characteristic of the individual – once clever then always clever. On the converse if you are not so bright, then there’s not too much you can do about it. But these are outdated theories because Carol Dweckcontemporary research suggests a different concept of intelligence. Dr. Carol Dweck is of the opinion that intelligence can be improved and is not a static concept. Dweck introduced the essential idea of mindsets – that people with a fixed mindset will fail; likewise, children and parents with an progressive philosophy of intelligence are going  to improving their minds, thus increasing their IQ and talents.

But our children do not innately know the philosophy of intelligence extends into discipline (or maybe they’re too lazy to face up to this fact). Believing in talent and ability is not necessarily a bad thing, but children who have a fixed mindset do not think that learning new things can change or enhance their abilities.

Children with a fixed mindset:

  • Students are afraid of failure and not looking smart enough – Failure for them is not an opportunity to learn – it is their worst enemy. They do not want to be regarded as anything but ‘clever’ or ‘intelligent’ or ‘talented.’ My nephew also fell into this trap because he thinks being smart is enough to achieve everything he needs.
  • Children do everything to preserve their ‘clever’ image – The children will do anything to demonstrate success in intelligence, including cheating on a test to get a better grade. Students who have a fixed mindset are also vulnerable to criticism, and they cannot bear the questioning of their ability.
  • Children make themselves blameless – Their environment keeps sending them messages that reinforce their fixation. “You are so intelligent,” or “You are very good at maths” are messages that reinforce the fixed mindset and offer no opportunity to develop or to get better.

Children with a progressive and dynamic philosophy of intelligence:

  • Children believe in actively growing their intelligence – Children with a growth mindset do not worry too much about how smart they are or look in the moment, because they are fully aware they can become smarter and develop their abilities. The key to such improvements is hard work.
  • Children with a growth mindset are brave enough to fail and do not pursue success at all costs – They are aware that the road to success is long and not necessarily easy. These children are willing to learn and, more importantly, willing to make considerable effort to get better at whatever they do or want to learn.
  • Obstacles, failures and mistakes are necessary obstacles to ultimate success -A setback inspires them to double their efforts and keep going until they succeed. Children, who have a growth mindset are motivated, able to face adversity and show remarkable resilience, and ultimately achieve better results.

The progressive philosophy of intelligence in childrenTeachers and parents can send different messages that acknowledge the effort and hard work of the child, thus reinforcing a progressive view on a child’s philosophy of intelligence. These messages imply that children can get better and develop their abilities when they try hard. When students receive such messages about their performance and abilities, they learn to profit from constructive criticism and do not ignore negative feedback.

It is important to see the point here – not all praise is good for a child. When adults praise children for their effort, they reinforce their motivation.

We had a long discussion with my nephew about the importance of effort underlying his philosophy of intelligence. He understood that being clever is just one thing, and without making an effort intelligence is not enough. The most successful people do not only have naturally perfect abilities; instead, they are hard-working and determined people who want to succeed. We used the life histories of some individuals he likes and values, such as Albert Einstein and Cristiano Ronaldo, to find some inspiration.

Seems like the smartest kids are the ones who need to be reminded of the importance for having a progressive view on their philosophy of intelligence. Perhaps that’s because the smartest adults are the ones who often make it look effortless.

Using the inverse power of praise on children

My 6 year old is smart. Not brilliant, not a genius, but quick, bright, perceptive, sensitive, and intelligent. Her information retention is impressive, and her verbal skills often have people thinking that she’s a year or two older than she is. And I never, ever use the word smart in front of her if I can help it.

Everyone tells my daughter how smart she is. They think I’m incredibly bizarre when I tell them I’m using the inverse power of praise by not telling her. They say, “You’re so smart.” I respond, “Yes, she worked very hard on learning to read that story,” or, “I know, we’re so pleased that she has been practicing all the words to her favorite song.”

Inverse Power of Praise CalloutI first read about this approach in Po Bronson’s NurtureShock essay, “The inverse power of praise“, and I’ve talked about it a lot since then with my parenting friends. The idea is that by complimenting something that your child perceives as inherent (smartness) instead of something they can control (effort) you are setting him or her up to believe that if he or she can’t just DO something, he or she cannot LEARN to do it. Bronson argues that in the great self-esteem push of the 1980s many of us fell victim to this kind of thinking. The science at the time believed that praising kids would give them great self-esteem. Likewise, many of us were raised being told we were smart, creative, and generally awesome at everything. And then, many of us struggled to understand how to study in school because we lacked the ability to organize ourselves and complete long term projects. We often felt that if we weren’t immediately good at something there was no point in trying – we wouldn’t ever be good.

This is not what I want my daughter to learn, so I’ve turned to the inverse power of praise.

How the inverse power of praise works
My daughter is smart, sure. But I compliment how hard she works, when she solves problems on her own, or when she doesn’t give up when the going gets tough. I compliment things under her control, praise ways that she influences and changes her world for the better. I want her to learn that she is powerful. I want her to know that it is not something inherent or predetermined that creates her limitations, but her vision, and her effort.

  1. Identify specific behavior that is earned – Parents must learn to identify how a child got to a successful conclusion, then, tell that child what it is that helped him or her to succeed. For example: “Jimmy, I know you gave it a lot of effort and energy to clean your room. I really appreciate that!”
  2. Identify results – Parents must first identify the difference between earned rewards and rewards that come to the child without effort and energy expended. But don’t dwell on the results, because the point here is that parents need to recognize the effort and the behavior that has delivered the results. The inverse power of praise means that even if the painting was not that great, the fact that the child went through the discipline and effort to complete it is what’s important. For example: “I think your painting impressed grandma. What other great pictures can we draw for our friends?”
  3. Offer gratitude and encouragement – Parents should remember that a sincere “thank you” can be enough, and should be enough for children to feel praised and satisfied. There’s nothing in the world a child seeks more than a parent’s affirmation. For example: “Jimmy, I want to let you know how much daddy and I appreciate your emptying the dishwater earlier today. That meant a lot to us. Thank you!”
  4. Choose your praise with discrimination – Parents need to remember that everything children do is not to be rewarded. For instance, after a routine, such as emptying the dishwasher, has been established, then parents can get by with a simple “Thanks”. An overabundance of praise goes against the inverse power of praise, so use praise sparingly.
  5. Spread your praise to other children – When a parent gives praise to another child for good action while his or her own child watches provides the opportunity for that child to know that rewards are not reserved inside the family. The inverse power of praise demonstrates how discriminating praise can be doled out. For example: “Thank you for showing my son Jimmy how to throw away the broken pieces from our ceramics project. We appreciate the help in our household.”

Giving praise helps children feel appreciated and respected, but only praise that is sincere and specific. Most parents tend to spread praise about like they’re blessings to be bestowed freely upon our children. In fact, we need to ensure that our praise is given only occasionally and with maximum effect.

Excessive praise kills motivation in a child because self-esteem becomes misunderstood when it is not cultivated and nurtured properly. Nowhere is this point better illustrated than in the Greek myth of Narcissus, where someone who was so very sure of himself he sat pondering the glories of his own reflection in a lake until his vanity overwhelmed him and he died. Here’s a perfect example of the inverse power of praise.

 

Dealing with a bored child can mean leaving them alone

Kids of today are too serious. They receive pressure to succeed, have little time to get bored and they often don’t make decisions on what they want to do. Play has become a structured regimen, much to the chagrin of children and their better nature. Dealing with a bored child can mean leaving them alone.

Plato QuotationThe American Academy of Pediatric says play is the development of children, not just a part of that development. Boredom leading to unstructured play might just be what the doctor ordered to counter attention deficit inclinations that most kids seem to have these days. Between school commitments, church or other spiritual activities, afternoon sports teams and evening television schedules, children are often completely overbooked.

Throw away the schedule
Schedules are something our children need to learn to follow (to be sure), but let us not forget that the world is an unscheduled one where nothing happens without someone scheduling it. Your child will be scheduled much of his or her adult life, taking directions and subjugated by bosses and other oppressive institutional structures. But there is anecdotal evidence today that shows that unstructured children who are forced to create interesting activities for themselves, tend to be more creative while learning how to dictate structure for themselves – and, ultimately, for others.

How to Encourage Unstructured Play
Many parents feel it is important to offer children opportunities, but unstructured play can also be part of teaching that structure. By placing them in after-school activities every day of the week, parents are creating dependencies for their children. On the other hand, encouraging kids to take initiative and create their own schedules can be a start to a creative life that can be bigger and better than what parents might imagine. Dealing with a bored child means letting them do things that they want:

  • The child chooses the child’s own destination –  Stop telling the kids where to go when they go outside. If they choose mud, then mud it is! It provides our children with sensory experiences through the squishing and mushing of the mud. These experiences can be essential to the development of the brain. Also, making mud pies can offer wonderful experiences with hand eye coordination.
  • Hand your children toys that have no specific designated purpose – Art supplies, cress-up clothes, dolls, and broken Legos are all abstract projects they can enjoy. Give them plenty of ways to express themselves without limiting them to one way.
    Freely Drawn Face

    Unstructured coloring can help create creative habits.

  • Controlled chaos is important – It may seem weird to many mothers, but everyone needs to release the reigns and let a little mess take front stage. Controlled chaos is where we as parents ensure that when chaos time is over we are able to clean up the aftermath easily.
  • Color without lines – Providing free play is recognized as important to our society, but the tendency is to provide coloring books with the lines already drawn in them. “Just fill in the middle,” one might say. But a better alternative might be to provide the child with a blank piece of paper and have them go at it alone. What will happen?
  • Let your kids meet strangers – Many children are not learning how to interact with strangers, either. Meeting random kids in the park (even the weird ones) can cause many parents ultimate fear what their children might learn. But in my case I beg my kids to go make new friends, and they will learn who is scary and who is not on their own. That’s a skill they’ll take with them for the rest of their lives.
  • Let kids stay up past their bedtimes (occasionally) – We all understand the perils of a tired child, but letting kids stay up past their normal bedtimes can allow for them to learn the necessity of sleep for their own well being, not just what adults tell them is good for them.

Encouraging our kids to be the best that they can be is not a problem for most parents. However, when parents spend all of their spare time focusing on a particular skill or activity, this limitation can be harmful to their emotional health. Many times the pressures that we put our children under – to perform in school, creative arts, or sports – can cause stunted creative growth.

Pacific Standard magazine reports on the importance of unstructured play, and how children may find themselves underdeveloped and emotional unstable for their age when structure is too prevalent in their short lives. One of the biggest ways our children learn how to express themselves and be happy, according to the magazine, is by having plenty of unstructured free time during childhood.

Breastfeeding in Asia is not what I expected

“This baby feeds from his mother’s milk,” I answered in my newly-acquired language. Stepping out with a newborn in Indochina, I had expected the typical questions to be “Boy or girl?” or “How old?” But what I heard was very different – “No Breastfeeding!”

Local friends, waitresses, fellow passengers on the city bus, taxi drivers, the neighbor’s housekeeper — everyone in this foreign land wanted to know if my baby was breastfed. I answered with quiet confidence: “My baby drinks milk from his mother.”

Breastfeeding in Asia is not what I expectedLiving in a developing country, I assumed breastfeeding in Asia happened for all babies. After all, breastfeeding is very economical and many countries in Asia offer some of the most generous maternity leave laws in the world. It took some time to synthesize the complexity of their perspectives on breastfeeding in Asia, however. Not everyone thinks breastfeeding is all that great, so it took fortitude and commitment to fight through the shame and to continue nursing my child during my stay in Southeast Asia.

From young mothers I often heard, “I couldn’t feed my baby. I didn’t have milk.” I wanted to take these moms in my arms and say, “I’m so sorry. They lied to you. You have milk for your baby if you’d only use it!” These moms were shortchanged the opportunity to breastfeed because of ignorance. Somewhere deep in the psyche of their mothers and the neonatal nurses in the hospital was the belief that formula was a better source of nutrition than breast milk. Perhaps the third world has the same problem the United States had in the 1950s – 1970s. They are playing catchup.

Despite the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services pronouncements on the importance of breastfeeding, many Americans also don’t believe breastfeeding is all that important.

Ignorance about a scientific problem called nipple confusion is rampant. This problem happens when newborns and mothers find bottles easier during the first days following birth. But the long term consequences are significant as children and mothers never learn to properly breastfeed.

It is difficult when doctors and nurses tell parents to only give babies formula, because their patients believe them. Mothers are often told something similar to “Your baby was hungry, and you don’t have milk.”  Aware of this practice, I taped self-published notices in the local language to my son’s crib that read: “This baby only breastfeeds.”

In parts of Asia many middle-aged women have a perception that breastfeeding is dirty and something animals do. Only the unclean, uncivilized, uneducated would breastfeed. So, I quietly took my place, stereotyped as the unclean, uncivilized, and uneducated by breastfeeding in Asia – but I held firm to my belief that breastfeeding was right for my child.

Southeast Asian grandmothers, with pride sparkling in their eyes, would say to me, “We have money to buy milk powder (formula) for our grandchild.” These grandmas had raised their children during a famine. Some days, they had only the runoff water from cooking rice to give their babies. With increased wealth and food, these grandmas scraped together what money they had to get only the best for their grandchildren. The look on strangers’ faces communicated disapproval for my not buying the best for my baby.

Other third-world countries experience the same perils when parents arrive in urban areas where “science” influences their decisions to breastfeed. The best way to feed, these mothers will often conclude, is the formula powder that came in shiny cans from industrialized nations.

“Many of the women from the countryside usually do breastfeed, even up to one year, even if the lactating mother is malnourished. But when these women come to Mogadishu, they see the women here bottle-feeding with formula, and believe it is better. Then they start changing their ways.”
– Counselor in Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) practices, Shamso Abdullahi

From an impoverished, underprivileged, rural woman on the city bus, I heard condemnation. One moment stands out in my memory about breastfeeding in Asia, when I met a fellow traveler who was going to peddle a few handmade trinkets in the city. She asked, “Does your baby breastfeed?” although by this time, my one-year-old son had weaned. I was quietly relieved to be able finally to give the acceptable answer. “My son drinks powdered milk.” My relief was vain and fleeting when she looked at me with pride in her accomplishments and in pity for my failure. “My baby is two years old, and she will still drink milk from her mother.”

Turns out the tides may be changing in favor of breastfeeding, after all. Event this rural woman in a third-world country new the benefits of breastfeeding beyond one year.

How I got a free dinner for breastfeeding in public

My family and I were enjoying a nice dinner at a local restaurant. We have three children each several years apart – two boys, 11 and 8, and my little 12-month old princess. I had breastfed my little girl since she was born while the boys were bottle fed when they were babies. It was a choice I made, and I don't question other parents who decide not to breastfeed. I've done both. BreastfeedingIn the restaurant we had already ordered and were waiting for the food to arrive. My little princess suddenly became a royal problem when she decided it was time to eat, screaming at the top of her lungs. I wasn’t going to console her by distracting her toward something else; instead, my weapons are built in and ready to go at all times. My baby was getting nursed. So, I sit her on my lap, cradle her, kiss the top of her head, and let her begin to feed – instantly, the crying stopped. During this day and age we have advanced in so many ways, but in other ways we are stumbling to call ourselves civilized. We offer our children the best in processed milk, and a nipple placed on the end of a bottle, but acceptance and support for breastfeeding mothers is available as long as you do it in the privacy of your own home. In that restaurant I didn’t have a cover-up over her head. It was hot in their – not that I need to make excuses for breastfeeding in public. I was wearing a maya wrap, a cloth baby carrier that contours to my curves, and my baby's head was blocked by the wrap. Here's where the story gets weird. I was approached by our server and informed that there was a bench in the bathroom that can be used for that. I was so stunned I think I muttered "thanks" before she walked away. Not that I went anywhere, and a few minutes later another person came to ask, "Do you know about the restroom to feed your baby?" What kind of idiots are these people? I asked to speak on the manager. When the manager came over I asked him if he would mind taking my dinner and serving it to me in the restroom. He looked as though I was off my...
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Are parents to blame for childhood obesity?

A couple of days ago, a family asked me for advice about their child, a 10-year-old who is overweight. They were running out of ideas what to do about it. Their most pressing concern was their own responsibility about the situation. I had to answer whether I thought these parents are to blame for childhood obesity, a question that is not as straightforward as most might think. The increasing number of obese children represents a serious health problem, which also has far-ranging consequences on social relationships for children. Childhood and adolescence obesity is growing. In the United States obesity rates increased from 14.5 percent in 1999 to 17.3 percent in 2011. Europe is following suit, and if the current trend continues childhood obesity will affect 90 percent of children by 2050 in Britain. That's a lot of fish and chips. meme_chubbyThe fact of the matter is that parents are mostly to blame for childhood obesity, but it's more complicated than just what parents feed kids. Genetics is partly to blame, society is partly to blame, and the dynamics of a child's parents interacting between each other also plays a role. How to know your child is fat According to Pediatrician Roberta Anding, a registered dietition at Texas Children's Hospital and an editor for The Family Guide to Fight Fat, the best way to know your child's getting fat is not by how round his arms and face get or that he's too big for his age compared to the other kids on the block. Instead, she says, follow the growth chart. "If the child's weight is increasing at a faster rate than his height, that's a red flag," Anding says. Being fat is often associated with genetic factors, but most evidence points to the fact this excuse only works in a minority of cases. A study called "Genetics of Obesity" points to the real cause of obesity, and it's a great resource for answering the question Are parents to blame for childhood obesity?:
The increased availability of palatable, energy dense foods and the reduced requirement for physical exertion during working and domestic life contributes to a state of positive energy balance. – Genetics of Obesity
Don't blame society It is not easy to lead a healthy lifestyle with the availability of high...
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Should I spank my child? Let the parents decide

The recent police case of an 8-year old boy in New York, who got spanked by his father, has led some anti-helicopter parenting advocates to protest that the government is not letting parents deal with their own children as they see fit. The father, who was charged and convicted with child-endangerment, found vindication from a New York appeals court panel ruling who dismissed the case. These anti-helicopter parenting advocates can breath a sigh of relief after a court ruled that spanking is not excessive punishment, after all.

New York is one of many states confronting parents who go too far with corporal punishment. In Florida, for instance, a recent ruling outlines the single-spank policy, a policy enforcing a rule where a single spank does not qualify as domestic violence.

But anti-spanking advocates say these rulings fail to address the underlying problem with spanking. Should I spank my child should not be a question that a rational parent should be asking him or herself, the thinking goes:

“The problem with spanking is what you are doing is using a negative action and you are reinforcing that as a way in which to deal with life issues. Ideally, what you want to do is teach the child what to do instead – pro-social alternative actions that children can take, as opposed to using a negative action like spanking,” said Nava Silton, a child psychologist who thinks spanking shouldn’t be used by parents.

Spanking is not for meOthers think spanking, when used strategically, can be a good route: “I stopped spanking my kids after age 8, as they were able to be reasoned with,” wrote a user calling him or herselfr crackhappy on Reddit. “At this point, every once in a long while, they will push too far and I will spank them for it. But, considering they’re all teens now, it’s not the pain but the humiliation aspect that matters. I never spanked my kids until they were 2, and even then at the young age it’s not usually about the pain but the escalation that mattered. It’s not about abuse, it’s about demonstrating levels of importance to the child.”

The debate about “Should I spank my child?” continues to rage on blogs and newsgroups – both for and against spanking. Most anti-helicopter parents are against the government’s intrusion, whether these parents believe spanking is healthy or not. It’s for the parents to decide, they say.

Despite the recent actions by the U.S.’s more liberal states, most jurisdictions allow for spanking by parents. To spank or not to spank … that is the question. In fact, 38% of U.S. States allow school teachers or principals to punish public school students by hitting them.

Corporal punishment usually comes in the form of paddling in schools, with a well established tradition in certain institutions going back centuries. The Human Rights Watch and American Civil Liberties Union reported that there are abuse in the practice because the teachers or principals who hit students often do so as a first resort. The Human Rights Watch claims the U.S. corporal allowance unfairly targets students with disabilities. As autism continues to be diagnosed and treated within the school system, the rules for spanking children will assuredly change.

Another user on Reddit called CoffeeNTrees pushed the case for spanking: “There is a very easy clear line between swatting your bratty kid, and beating the hell outta them. People without kids don’t usually understand that. The problem comes when the swat is the only form of parenting that people learn.”

How long can I leave a sleeping baby in the car?

Today’s pundits and doctors insist they know what’s best for our children while not allowing parents to do right by their own judgement. Helicopter parenting laws are coming to municipalities in ways unimagined, but the anti-helicopter parenting movement is pushing back. Humor is one way we’re doing it, including this clever video shows the stress parents are feeling.

It turns out that babies are rather weak when it comes to leaving them alone. So, how long can I leave a sleeping baby in the car? While nobody is advocating you leave a sleeping baby in the car during the summer, some of us are willing to admit that we’ve done it before in circumstances that are seemingly harmless, perhaps just to run and retrieve the mail from a mailbox at the end of a driveway, or to get out and pump gas.

How long can I leave a sleeping baby in the car? Well, now we can’t leave the car unattended at all. It’s illegal, something the station wagon generation had nothing to worry about.

In fact, in some places it is illegal to leave a 15-year old unattended in the car. At 16 years you can leave them alone. The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services has outlined how old a child can be left alone in a car:

Leaving a child unattended in a car is a crime that is punishable under the Texas Penal Code, Title 5, Chapter 22, Section 10: Sec. 22.10. LEAVING A CHILD IN A VEHICLE. (a) A person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly leaves a child in a motor vehicle for longer than five minutes, knowing that the child is:      (1) younger than seven years of age; and      (2) not attended by an individual in the vehicle who is 14 years of age or older.      (b) An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

The nuances surrounding these laws are really what we need to consider applying in cases involving “abandoned children.” how long to leave a baby alone in a carParents should remember that in certain locations the police have a zero-tolerance policy when enforcing how long parents can leave kids unattended. An incident in North Augusta, South Carolina, demonstrated that police will take children away and lock up the parents when kids are left alone – even in a public park.

Most of us realize that instincts are more important than laws, however. So, there’s not likely to be a significant number of arrests made for a mommy who runs into the bank to drop off a deposit. Or will there? To leave a sleeping baby in the car has always had a taboo attached to it, but now there’s likely to be jail time, too. And rightly so for the idiots who aren’t responsible enough to know it’s dangerous.

It is cause for concern that parents are stupid and hurt children through negligence, but it’s also cause to take notice that a brave new world in which we live has a way of forcing us into ridiculous habits that can significantly impact the way we parent.

Are ebooks good for students?

I overheard an interesting debate between two young fathers the other day as they discussed what kind of books their children should read. They were in agreement that reading is beneficial for children as it fosters a stronger relationship between parent and child, contributes to the development of academic and speech skills and helps develop a mastery of the language for better communication. Not only is reading fun, it provides children a plethora of new experiences and prepares them for the future. But are ebooks good for students? Well, that depends. Are ebooks good for students?Reading enables children to connect what they already know. These new connections contribute to their understanding of the world. Moreover, reading makes it possible for children to meet characters and learn about cultures they may not encounter otherwise in their lives. In fact, research indicates fiction readers tend to have a better understanding of other people, empathize with them and are better able to see the world from their perspective. The debate between old and new media The question are ebooks good for students rages on. Paper books versus eBooks? Here's what I overheard between these two fathers discussing and arguing over the matter. Once believed that modern technology will never be able to replicate the time-old comfort of holding paper-based books, while the other man argued modern eBooks are the wave of the future as they are always accessible. Some people believe, however, excessive media usage can lead to attention problems, school difficulties and possibly sleep or eating disorders among children. The campaign for traditional paper books for children There are many people who believe there are benefits to reading only traditional books to children.  When a parent reads aloud, for example, it becomes personal. Parents can ask questions, color the story a little bit, but an eBook is unable to add unexpected twists. It is also said to be harder to distract a child reading a real book. In addition, an electronic device cannot in any way replicate the smell of an old book or the beautiful look of a well-stocked bookcase. I guess it depends whether you are more practicable or sentimental. Are eBooks the future for children? The other parent explained eBooks are the future as they are overtaking reading in print. This is not necessarily a good thing because the UK’s National Literacy Trust believes that children who read more on computers...
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Why hand me downs are better for kids

Look, you’re expected to spend $242,000 on your newborn until he or she is 18. Don’t tell me you’re just going to accept this as your own fact? You can change this. Don’t say no to savings. Get all the savings that you can get with hand me downs. There’s no shame in that! Hand Me Downs My wife and I used to fight all the time about it. She wanted us to give the “very best” for our kids. Of course, this means buying the most expensive things brand new. On the other hand, being the cheapskate that I am, I wanted to make use of some perfectly good stuff previously used by the older kids. Why buy a brand new stroller if we have a perfectly good stroller used by our older daughter for just a few months? Hand me downs are better for kids, aren't they? She wouldn’t have any of it. Nothing our older kids had was good enough for my wife. "It's not the right color," she said. "Those shoes don't lace properly anymore," she countered. She was determined to avoid all hand me downs for our newborn. In response I made an Excel spreadsheet with the things we bought our older kid. We spent almost $500 bucks for the stroller she used about a dozen of times. The baby monitor for $200, ten pairs of shoes for $30 each, a crib for $200 and line items for all the clothes I could itemize. The final cost was so high her mouth dropped when she saw how much we spent. She had no idea. Now, this is not to say that it’s not worth buying quality items to start. Travel strollers, for instance, have to be well researched before buying. Going traveling requires good preparations to match the good equipment. That’s my point. If it's a good quality stroller it will hold up to a second or third use. Hand me downs are better for kids when the hand me downs are quality. Maximize the investment, right? Well, guess what? My wife couldn't argue to buy another $500 stroller, so we used it with our new baby. Again, for just about a dozen times. Imagine if we spent another $500 for a brand new stroller? That’s $1000 for around two dozen usages. Warren Buffet is shivering over that...
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Co-sleeper or crib? That is the question

There are so many ways for a baby to sleep, but most parents will choose from one of three ways – full crib, full co-sleep or half-crib and half co-sleep. There are so many reasons that you choose the sleep pattern that you do. However, with three kids and three different ways of teaching them to sleep I have had a lot of experience in doing it the wrong way. Co-sleeper or crib? Let me say that I have slept with babies in my bed as well as having babies exclusively sleep in a crib. Co-sleeping is almost as controversial as the vaccinations. Many women feel guilty about co-sleeping – but I don't. The Crib Sleeper - As a new parent I thought what all of the ‘older and wiser’ people were telling me was the truth. So without question I listened. However, there is some research that says that it might not be best to co-sleep. The number one problem is sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). In the western cultures there are so many different types of bedding and even mattresses that can make a big difference when thinking of co-sleeping. Out of my three children my oldest one is the one that never spent a day in my bed as a baby. He was the child that was laid down in his bed and was allowed to cry it out to help to acclimate him to being alone. Man was that a mistake. After he was old enough to walk he would climb out of bed and crawl all over me. To this day as a teenager he still tries to climb on of me and snuggle. This makes me feel that maybe he missed something as a baby. My half-crib and half co-sleeping baby - Once realizing the older and wiser might not ALWAYS be correct, I went with my gut a little more when considering a co-sleeper or crib. Even though I thought about SIDS, sleep deprivation won in this case. Unlike my previous child I decided to breastfeed this baby. Waking up in the middle of night to walk across the house was horrible, and cold, so we did the dreaded co-sleeping. It was so much better than the constant waking him up to sleep. There were some cons to co-sleeping. Co-sleeping can encourage breastfeeding, which made it easier for me...
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Parents should use teacher tools to silence kids

At one time or another, all parents need to take on the role of teachers in a classroom, using teacher tools that help manage children. Managing classroom noise level with common sense is not all that common, after all. But it will happen to you – it might come at a church retreat or a large babysitting party where kids are gathered for a game of learning. Regardless, it can be daunting to understand how best to coral their spirits while keeping things flowing and fun. Existing teacher tools can help.

Rob Plevin’s tutorial for taking control of kids using his Classroom Management Strategies have been followed by thousands of teachers. Now, it’s worthy for us parents to also evaluate these ideas for our own use with the kids we undoubtedly have to manage from time to time.

Managing classroom noise level with common sense

I remember waking up before school and telling my mother I didn't want to go. "Give me two reasons why you don't want to go?" she asked. "Well, the kids all hate me and the teachers hate me, too," I replied. "Oh that's not a good reason not to go to school. Now, get up and get going!" I resisted and begged with my mother, "Give me two good reasons why I should go to school today?" She didn't miss a beat and said, "Well, you're 25 years old and you're getting paid to teach!" I started teaching in a school in the Philippines last month and was very excited about it. The job in Asia was offered to me suddenly, only days before the start of school. I do have teaching experiences during an internship, but this would be my first experience with teaching as a profession. I've never had to think about managing classroom noise level, but I figured it would be easy during my first day as a teacher. I was wrong. classroom noise level with common senseMy first day on the job didn't start well. I was sick. Nonetheless, a teacher should always be ready – just like a boy scout. I sniffled my way into the classroom after downing ample amounts of cold medicine, the same cold medicine parents use to get their kids to sleep. The first hours I felt like my head was in a fishbowl. The kids seemed to realize immediately that there was something different about their teacher. I was not managing classroom noise level because I could hardly hear it. "Do you have a cold?" one of them screamed. I responded that my cold didn't inhibit my ability to hear them in the classroom. "Why is everyone screaming all the time?" I asked again, quieting the class after my ears popped and everyone seemed to be in chaos. I must admit that I found the level of noise surprising. Of course it's all made worse because of the communication gap – they cannot understand me when I speak only in English, so I translate despite the fact they sometimes don't understand me. I'm not fluent in Aklan – many students' mother tongue – so it's all quite complicated at times. But my training has taught me to focus on activities instead of speaking too...
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Homeschool stigma fades while numbers rise

Last year, the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics released that there are 1,770,000 homeschooled students in the US.  This is a huge jump from 1.5 million students in 2007. Now, 1.7 million may not sound much since it represents just 3.4% of children of school age, but the fact still remains that the number is on the rise since it was first tracked in 1999 when there were only 850,000 homeschooled students. Right now, there are two options when it comes to schooling – institutions and homeschooling. Of course, most parents prefer the traditional form of sending them off to public or private institutions. Only a little more than 3% of parents homeschool, a statistic so lopsided as to stigmatize those parents who do decide to teach kids themselves. It’s easy to see why this is the case. After all, most parents were traditionally schooled, so the idea of something that doesn't always seem viable. I admit that I didn’t want to be homeschooled because I didn’t want people to think that I was weird – only religious nuts and actors were home-schooled. There's many an article that argue that most homeschooled kids ended up weird. Homeschooling PaceBut homeschooling is on the rise. There are social media homeschooling websites where families have a dedicated community. When I started digging into the reasons why parents homeschool, the first thing I found was that private pre-schools are run as commercial institutions meant to maximize profits. It’s like every move your kid makes there’s an attached fee structure that provides the school with the opportunity to increase tuition. Sure, I know that they have to pay the bills, but so do I. By homeschooling my kids, I can save a lot of money. For starters, I’m going to save on $4,460 to $13,158 per year, the average cost for preschools in the US. You’re probably thinking ... what the heck do I know about educating kids? Well, I'm keenly aware of the work that lay ahead of me. There are homeschooling programs to follow, some for a fee, which teach parents the methodology and provide the lessons for children. Many of these homeschooling programs are actively promoting themselves as ways to teach children to learn, not teach children to take tests. Many of today's academics are  betraying their...
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