46 posts categorized "Children" Feed

Things I Hope My Kids Learn: #31 Whenever Possible, Do Good.

This is part of a continual series called, "Things I hope my kids learn." I currently have 150 different things written down that I hope they write. You can find the whole series of posts here.

#31. Whenever Possible Do Good. Kidslearn1

So often little opportunities are missed. I was thinking today about the fact that sometimes life gets really complicated, really fast.

No matter how hard we try, it can get complicated. One thing that I hope my children learn and apply is to do good.

This can be something simple.

Sometimes, it will be complex. In fact, sometimes the good they see that needs to be done, they may not be able to do but I hope and pray that they will not allow those things to keep them from doing the things that they can do.

Whenever possible, do good. I hope that this won't need much explanation for my children.

We are hardwired to connection from birth.

Researchers have found that "all scientific research now shows that from a time a baby is born, a baby's brain is biologically already formed to connect in relationships." 

Key take-a-ways

  • In large measure, what is causing this crisis of American childhood is a lack of connectedness. We mean two kinds of connectedness—close connections to other people, and deep connections to moral and spiritual meaning.
  • Much of this report is a presentation of scientific evidence—largely from the field of neuro-science, which concerns our basic biology and how our brains develop—showing that the human child is hardwired to connect. We are hardwired for other people and for moral meaning and openness to the transcendent. Meeting these basic needs for connection is essential to health and to human flourishing
  • For the first time, a diverse group of scientists and other experts on children's health is publicly recommending that our society pay considerably more attention to young people's moral, spiritual and religious needs."

~Tim Clifton and Joshua Straub

A note to Ricky’s mom: Why humiliating our child never works

The following post is a guest post by my wife, Erica. The topic of parenting is such an important one. So often, it seems to us that parents turn to shame and humiliation in order to get results and often feel trapped. Read on for Erica's thoughts.

Several days ago a video swept the Internet, encouraging parents everywhere that there is hope in controlling your child’s misbehavior and it is called humiliation.

A single mother of 3 was tired of her 16-year-old daughter skipping school. Her punishment? Mom showed up to school, and followed her around for a day.

In the video mom says:

  • This is what happens when Ricky does not act right”
  • “Ricky tell Cody why I am at school with you today?”
  • “Cody, Ricky is liar”
  • “You cannot act right”
  • “Ricky say hi to facebook”

This mom, in desperation to “fix” the problem resorted to guilt, shame and fear. Of course, the daughter will not skip school again for now. Her mom humiliated her in front of her entire school. You notice, as you watch the video the daughter is angry (the red face) she is also crying. Do you think those emotions were remorse for what she had done or anger because of how mom was acting?

How else can I keep my daughter from skipping school?

  • Ask Questions

“Ricky I feel like you are not telling the truth, you are not just going to the bathroom but according to the school you are skipping, is this true?”

“Ricky why are you skipping school?” “Is there is something going on I am not aware of?” (Chances are the answer is yes)

  • Create an action plan together

“Ricky it is a problem that you are not attending school” “It seems you are a leaving during chemistry.” Is there something in Chemistry that is hard for you? Do you feel anxious? Instead of leaving Chemistry what else can you do?

(Invite your child into adulthood by teaching them to problem solve) (LISTEN)

  • Become your child’s biggest support

When a parent uses humiliation to teach a lesson it hinders a parent/child relationship. Instead of calling your child names use the sandwich message to create emotional security in your child.

Top slice

Ricky I love you and I am honored to be your mother. (Tell her what you love about her)

The messy Middle

I am concerned about you skipping school. (Lay out all your concerns)

Bottom slice

I am not sure what is going on but I want to understand. If you tell me what is going on we can get through this together.


Create a reward and consequence plan: (Yes, reward positive behavior)

“Ricky if you choose not to skip school for an entire week I will pay for you and friend to go to a movie or I will take you out to dinner. “(Do something for the child that they love doing)

If she makes it through one day utter the words “I am so proud of you!” “You did it.”

If she continues to skip:

Then you make the consequences consistent and natural. Let the truancy officer come get her.

I truly believe if you find out where the anxiety is coming from, which is most likely why she s skipping school, and listen, validated her, praise her and offer support, then you will never need to worry about consequences. She most likely just needs you to be a mom who shows compassion and a listening ear. I promise you there is a reason Ricky is skipping school.


You can find the video referenced in this post here

5 Ways to Change How We Are Raising Boys. (Guest Post)

This post come from my friend Ty Woznek. You can find him online here. His thoughts are sure to start some conversations today. A picture of his boys can be found at the end of this post.

I agree we need to reprogram how we raise boys.

Some suggestions:

1) End crazy zero tolerance policies. Suspending a boy for punching a bully is nuts. May not be the correct course of action, but it's not suspension worthy.

2) Bring back winners & losers. If a boy hates losing, he'll work harder on winning.

3) Let boys play with guns. Let them take risks. Let them achieve glory. Let em prank. Will they go to far? Yes. But robbing boys of failure also robs them of success. Let them take the risk at work, not just playing sports. 10668682_10204683532879394_939512397_n

4) Train them to be gentlemen and not label such as misogyny. It's not, it's being classy, romantic, and civil. And yes, part of that means we can say: "Man up!" and not be accused of meaning "UFC fighting, beer guzzling, BBQ dripping from mouth barbarian."

5) STOP PORTRAYING DADS AS DUMB OR DEADBEATS. We have a dad problem more than anything.

Why am I so emotional today?

I have random memories from first days of school.
I suppose that’s true for many people.
One positive one is cutting grass the night before. Back then, ABC or some such station had Monday Night Baseball and I wanted to watch the Dodgers play with my mom.
She loved Tommy Lasorda, him being Italian sealed that deal.
I also remember the night before sixth grade. I was going to a new school.  I wasn’t sure what to think. It was pretty much a train wreck.  I hated that year.
Probably at least some of that angst was just normal middle school stuff.
But today my oldest daughter started sixth grade. Photo
I almost always get a little down when we start the back to school ramp up. I like having my kids home. I like the freedom they (and I have) to visit the office and stay up late swimming.
I know education is a necessity (the grammatical errors that are sure to run through this post aside), but there is a lot of school systems that I don’t truly understand.

I’m also a pretty optimistic person. I hardly ever get too down, nor do I get grumpy for an entire day too often.

But yesterday I was grumpy.

And today as I drove away from the school where I had just dropped my daughter off for her first day, I fought back tears.
I woke up at 5:15 and didn’t fall back asleep this morning.

This caused me to what my family jokingly refers to as “therapize” myself. That is to say, I started to deconstruct my feelings so I could better understand them and process them.

I think there are a couple of things going on. For whatever reason, the loss of my mom has been really poignant this week.

But of course, there is more.
I think my daughter starting sixth grade has caused me to relive some of that and worry for her.
I mean, isn’t that the heart of parenting?
We don’t want our kids to suffer as we did.
We don’t want our kids to face the same bullies we faced.
We don’t want them to feel the searing hot pain of being misunderstood or outright rejected.
My daughter is so excited for middle school. She had a year, where a bully targeted her because my daughter had success at a project that the bully did not experience.
My daughter is a lot like me. She enjoys discussions about deep and random things.
I haven’t told her about my own troubles because the time isn’t right yet. Some day I will tell her all of it.

For now, I will hold my breath and hope. I will hope that her sixth grade year is better than mine was all those years ago. If it is not, we’ll deal with that as a family.
I will hope that her infectious desire to learn and process things will blossom through this year.
I will hope that I lead her well by walking beside her and her sisters as they traverse this next chapter of life. For some reason, the younger grades don’t seem to get to me as much.

I will also grieve.

I love being a dad. Seriously, besides getting married, it is absolutely the best thing I have ever done. And my kids are growing up. They are moving through the stages and its wonderful.
Wonderful change.
Years ago someone told me that all change is loss. I believed him then and I believe him now. We tend to think that grief is inherently bad. I disagree with that sentiment. Grief simply exists. It's a reminder that we are all growing and dying. It is a reminder that life is too short and time is too fast. It is a reminder of all that we've loved and all that we've lost.

So to you, my friend, I say wherever you are right now on the kids spectrum. May you find contentment and peace. May you find the courage to process your own stuff that having (or not having) kids brings up in you. May you find the next step while enjoying the current one.

Points to Ponder (100 Words or less)

The sensible alternative to overparenting is not less parenting but better parenting. The alternative to permissiveness is not to be more controlling but more responsive. And the alternative to narcissism is not conformity but reflective rebelliousness. In short, if we want to raise psychologically healthy and spirited children, we’ll need to start by questioning the media-stoked fears of spoiling them. (60)

 Kohn, Alfie (2014-03-25). The Myth of the Spoiled Child: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom about Children and Parenting (p. 8). Da Capo Press. Kindle Edition.

~Looking forward to reading this book. I imagine I'm going to love parts of it and hate other parts of it.


Dealing with mommy guilt; 3 key realizations

In my last post, we dealt with mommy (parent) guilt that stems from envy. While, I believe this type of guilt is not the majority, I do think it has too much space in our world.
Today, I’d like to discuss parent guilt that comes from not being able to do the things that we’d like to do for our children and from the mistakes we make throughout the normal course of our parenting duties.

Not being able to do what we want to do for our children
Mary believed highly in the value of a private education. She hoped it would give her children a leg up in what she knew was a competitive college field. She couldn’t afford to do what she wanted to do on her single salary.
Frank worried as he pulled out of his driveway to head to work that his kids were going to resent how much he was working, but with the recent increase in his insurance premiums and the loss of his old job in this struggling economy he had to take whatever job he could find. The job he found was second shift, which paid the bills but kept him from his kids.
This was the perfect formula for some parent guilt.
There are three things we have to realize when we are dealing with parent guilt because we feel caught in the middle of what we want to do and what we have to be doing.

1. The difficult realities of life are that we often have to do things that have to be done and that sometimes we can’t do the things that we want to be doing. We teach our children this with our words, and often try to teach them the exact opposite with our actions. Life is hard. It’s OK to teach our children this as they grow up so that they are properly and realistically prepared for adult life.

2. We have to realize that our children are not as fragile as we are constantly being told that they are. Children need love. Not things. Children can overcome difficult circumstances in more ways than we can imagine. We are so afraid that we are going to “ruin” our children by making them live life. But, in truth, we’re going to give them the opportunity to be stronger because they experienced life.

3. We need to realize that our kids are watching us as for our response to adversity.
Life is hard. There is no two ways about it. So often, I see parent guilt radiating from a place of trying to keep that truth from our children. This is a bad choice, because it doesn’t allow our children to grow up into the adults we will want them to be because resilience is a skill that’s developed. It grows over time. It grows from being faced with the harsh truth that life can be hard. Exposing our children to this truth isn’t something to feel guilt about, it’s something that we need to expect. Children look at our life, not the things in our life. They learn from our character, not the places we can take them or the opportunities that are privileges that we can or cannot provide them.
My next post will deal with actions that we can take in order to eliminate parent guilt from our life.


Points to (≤100 words) Book Style

Good parenting begins in your heart, and then continues on a moment-to-moment basis by engaging your children when feelings run high, when they are sad, angry, or scared.

Gottman, John; Goleman, Daniel (2011-09-20). Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child . Simon & Schuster, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

"The need has never been more pressing..."

At our office we talk a lot about emotional intelligence in children and adults. We talk a lot about the increased rate of children needing help to regulate their emotions. Recently, I read a book by John Gottman, and Daniel Goleman, which had this very disturbing quote in the beginning of the book.  They offer this paragraph to explain the need for their book.

The need may never have been more pressing. Consider the statistics. Over the last few decades the number of homicides among teenagers has quadrupled, the number of suicides has tripled, forcible rapes doubled. Beneath headline-grabbing statistics like these lies a more general emotional malaise. A nationwide random sample of more than two thousand American children, rated by their parents and teachers— first in the mid-1970s and then in the late 1980s— found a long-term trend for children, on average, to be dropping in basic emotional and social skills. On average, they become more nervous and irritable, more sulky and moody, more depressed and lonely, more impulsive and disobedient— they have gone down on more than forty indicators. Behind this deterioration lie larger forces.
Gottman, John; Goleman, Daniel (2011-09-20). Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child . Simon & Schuster, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

I think the reasons for this are probably rather big and far reaching, but the statistics are cited in the book and ring true based on our experience in our office. What do you think? What are the "larger forces" they write about? 

Everyone Wins? Just for showing up? Part 3 of 5

I have a lot of things that I am excited to share with you over this upcoming year. But I'm kicking off the school year with a series that I did last year regarding what I think is a dangerous mentality of “everyone wins.” This series is designed to create some conversation on what it means to allow our children to lose and struggle and win. If you read it last year, maybe you’ll want to skip it…and then again you might enjoy it again. If you’re new to these parts maybe you’ll love it…or maybe you’ll hate it. We’ll see. Either way. Here is part three of five.




Part one can be found here and part two can be found here.

There is a great scene in the animated movie, The Incredibles. The son Dash is being "encouraged" by his parents. One of his parents tells him that everyone is special. Under his breath he replies, "Then no one is."

We are stuck on this idea that everyone is exceptional, special and a winner.

Of course, if these things are true than no one is actually any of them. Some people are good at math, while others are good at stringing words together. Some people can sing, some can play sports, some can cook and clean. Some people can do amazing things with a pencil, others do amazing things with fire and sand.

Yes, we are all unique. Yes, we are all have skills, talents, and abilities that make us unique. But have we gone to far. Are we creating a generation of people that expect to win just for showing up? Personally, I think the answer to that question is yes.

I have a problem with this mentality. I think it is hurting our society. When I was a teacher, I would hear all the time about the unfairness of life. Student X was upset because she wasn't getting the playing time she deserved. Parent after parent would ask me how their child would get better if he or she did not play in the game. I would get the it's not fair that she or he practices as much as the other person and doesn't get to play. 

My daughter played soccer a number of years ago. She loved it. She wasn't very good. It's not a value judgement on her, it is simply a statement of fact as someone who has coached for a number of years. She might be god some day, but the truth is at this point I doubt it. She did not enjoy running, which is a rather critical component of soccer. She has moved onto dance. She loves it. I have no idea if she is good or not from a critical point of view but I love watching her. I love the ways her eyes shimmer when she talks about dance.

What is interesting to me is that she knew she wasn't very good. She still got the same ribbon as everyone else on her team. Just for showing up.

A friend of mine has a son that played on a baseball team. He batted a thousand for the season and scored every time he came to bat. I have no idea what that would make his slugging percentage but I would think it would be really high. You see, he played in a league where every time a batter hit the ball he or she ran all of the bases. Every time, no matter what. At the end of the season he got an award, just for showing up.

He was ill prepared for the next season when three strikes meant you were out.

When I worked as an athletic director, I instituted rules and guidelines for people to earn a letter in a sport. To that point in the schools history, simply showing up meant you made the team and earned a letter. One of my favorite student athletes failed to earn his letter while his older and younger brother did make it. Two girls on the women's basketball team also failed.

"But they really tried." "It's not fair." "He's really disappointed." "I don't like to see him hurt."

Essentially they could have just said, "Look, trying is enough."

Of course, this isn't really true. What about the people who applied for the same job opening that you did and didn't get it because you got it. What about the people who put a bid on the same house that you are now living in. Do you want them moving in because they really wanted the house?

What do you think? Do you think people are being taught that you win just for showing up? If not, why are you still reading this? :) If so, do you think that is a good or bad thing?

In the next post, I'll begin to explain the problems inherent in the idea of winning just for showing up.