Tag Archives: parenting

Report Card

Should You Bribe your Child?

Report CardIs a monetary reward an appropriate motivational tool for parents to use with their kids?  It’s a loaded question, but one most parents will someday face when their child just isn’t putting in the effort we think they should. So it’s always better to have at least begun to think about it beforehand.

Would you believe that 48% of parents pay their kids for good grades– according to an American Institute of CPA’s survey. The survey also contains information about allowances, so it’s worth a quick read.

Where the motivation is lacking, an external motivator like money might gain the desired results, and those results might then become the prime motivation. On the other hand, the external motivator might instead then become the prime motivator. Like so much of parenting, it likely depends on your child and how you believe they will respond and react to the external motivation of money.

These questions were all raised in this article: Beth Kobliner: Should You Pay for an ‘A’? How to Motivate Your Child — Part 1. Part 2 promises to include expert opinions on the subject, so I’ll keep you posted.

Big Pancake Stack

10 Weight Tips for Kids

Big Pancake StackWe’re told at least once a week that this country is in an obesity epidemic. As I try myself to lose a few extra pounds, it’s real clear how hard it is in today’s busy world to eat healthy and get sufficient exercise. So Fox News has 10 concrete ways to work it in to our busy lives and get our kids on the right and healthy track.

I wrote earlier this year how a study shows that exercise helps our kids focus and concentrate in school- so get them moving before they even get out the door, perhaps by walking the dog? Build it in to your morning routine as one of several short, like 20 minutes, get moving sessions throughout the day: before and after school, after dinner, whenever it fits. Do it together whenever you can- good for you too. Make it fun, not a chore. And limit that screen time- one of the biggest impediments to getting out and doing stuff.

Be a dietary role model– let them see you eat healthy. Up the fiber in everybody’s diet, as recommended by the experts, since fiber gives that ‘full’ feeling. Yes, this means fruits and vegetables. Try new prep methods- roasting, grilling, wok’ing. Get the kids involved in the eating process, starting with the shopping lists, and at the store as well as in the kitchen.  They’re far more likely to buy in to the whole healthy deal if they’re part of it from the get-go.

Broken down into small chunks like this, it’s not so hard to make the changes necessary to give our kids a real shot at a healthy lifestyle.

Go Sum App

Go Sum Math App

Go Sum AppFollowing on yesterdays post about the value of educational apps, I just had to pass this one along.  It certainly appears to skill build through practice rather than actual learning, but where arithmetic and math are concerned practice IS really important. Here’s a shout out to coolmomtech.com for bringing this to everyone’s attention.

The game plays like Scrabble, but with numbers and arithmetic– the basic four of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Just like Scrabble, each player builds on whats on the board with their virtual tiles. Play with friends, family or an internet opponent- no language barriers here! 2, 3 or 4 player game formats.

Looks like good fun!



Smart Phone

Educational Apps

Smart PhoneI missed this when it came out in Forbes, but that delightful Dad blogger over at Game Theorist wisely reprinted his thoughts on this subject on his own blog, and I want to share it here.

Apps are an exciting new entry in the educational arena, but excitement and kids having fun doesn’t necessarily mean any real learning is going on. Joshua Gans (the Game Theorist), with a string of degrees and real world experience making him at the very least a qualified parent observer of whats going on here, points out some good benchmarks for evaluating these educational apps for our kids.

My big take-away here is that real learning comes when the game requires mastery of an educational task to progress to the next level. There’s reference to an algebra game that actually teaches algebraic equation manipulation, but doesn’t really sound much like a game. Where the learning keeps the kids engaged in fun-play while progressing, that’s the real deal.

But let’s not denigrate the importance of practice, which is different from learning but certainly contributes to mastery. Even if new learning isn’t part of the game, if real, meaningful skills are being honed, I consider that a good thing. Further, any so-called educational app may be a better use of your child’s time than a totally non-educaitonal game or the TV. So while many apps out there may not be ‘educational’ in the strictest sense, they may well help build skills and engage our kids in something more meaningful than they might otherwise be doing with their free time.


Relationship Building Questions

BedtimeSo many things to do at bedtime: get them to sleep, on time; read to settle them down and to foster a love of books; check for the monsters under the bed, etc., etc. So we often forget that bedtime is also a great time to build that parent child relationship and to bond with plain old conversation.

Young children often need some help starting and maintaining a conversation– a valuable skill in and of itself. So www.imom.com/espresso-minute has a daily set of 20 questions you can have delivered to your e-mailbox to help the process. The specific questions are far less important than getting into the routine of asking and really listening to the answers. Just the act of asking shows your child how much his or her thoughts and answers are valued, building self esteem.

Establishing these lines of communication could prove to have been invaluable when your son or daughter gets older and their communication shrinks down to grunts and monosyllabic answers. Old habits die hard, and when they need you those synaptic pathways built from all those earlier bedtimes may just kick in and bring your child to you with his or her issues and problems. It sure can’t hurt!

Dollar Sign

Games or Money?

Dollar SignSummer is the PERFECT time to get off the merry-go-round of who spent how much on their child’s birthday party. Think about it- there’s a reason kids often throw up on the carousel; we don’t belong there! And I thank the hollandsentinel.com for the reminder that parents DO NOT have to play this game.

And for reminding parents that the alternative to money and paying others is a little time and a little creativity to keep a bunch of whatever-year-olds having fun. Is your goal to out-perform the last  bunch of parties your child went to or is it to give the kids a good time that celebrates your child’s milestone? I suggest it should be the latter.

Sure- Pinterest and the web are loaded with incredibly extravagant photos of spreads suitable for a prince or princess. And if that’s what those parents enjoy doing, great- they’ve had fun putting it together. Doesn’t mean you have to compete with it. Trust me- those parents get great pleasure out of their own accomplishments, and that’s cool, but I’d bet a lot of money that the party kids barely look at it or register very many of those time consuming details. ALWAYS KEEP IN MIND WHO YOUR AUDIENCE IS.

That’s why this blog focuses so heavily on ideas for fun games and DIY stuff that doesn’t take forever or cost a lot. Lower the bar, not raise it, in your neighborhood or school district. You’ll never hear it, but you’ll be getting a bunch of silent ‘thank you’s’.


Dollar Bills

Money-Smart Daughters

Dollar BillsA tip for parents today, and one that’s ear to my heart and one that I failed pretty miserably at with my own girls: bringing them up to understand money. Thanks to reuters.com for this good story that all us parents of girls need to pay attention to.

Here’s the deal- it’s anecdotal but oh, so true. The girl opts for a spa birthday party, at some expense, while the boy wants everybody to just bring a donation so he can buy a Lego Death Star puzzle for $400 that he really wants. What’s going on here?

It should come as no surprise that our boys are subject to a bit less social pressure to be trendy and own/wear the latest thing than our girls. Boys seem to value appearance less than our girls. What is surprising is that girls, according to a 2010 Harvard study, are significantly less able to answer financially based questions than boys, despite their overall classroom success. They apparently just aren’t being taught, and the teaching is apparently up to us parents.

Check out the Reuters article referenced above for good ideas on teaching our girls about money and resources you can use. Encourage any entrepreneurial tendencies that you see. Show them about wise spending and budgets at the supermarket and the mall. Teach them the difference between need and want. You can even teach a money lesson when it comes around to birthday parties, as you’ll read in the article! Our girls will be all the better for learning about money early on instead of when it’s too late and they’ve overspent.


Happy 4th of July

FireworksWishing everyone here in the US a Happy 4th of July and a SAFE celebration. Here’s a wake up: 9600 people were hurt and 4 killed by fireworks in 2011, according to a just released Consumer Products Safety Commission study. Don’t let your kids or anyone else be a statistic.

Although illegal here in my state, fireworks are legal to purchase in many states and while some states apply age restrictions, some of those allow kids as young as 12 to buy fireworks. Make sure your kid(s) isn’t/aren’t one of them.

Let the professional handle the fireworks and sit back and enjoy their skill in putting on a great show for you. If parents don’t handle the fireworks, its far less likely that the kids will try to and injury will be avoided.

Even small fireworks can cause injury- most commonly bad burns and eye injuries. The cause is generally carelessness and getting too close, and children between the ages of 5 and 14 are at the greatest risk of injury (according to the Texas Opthalmalogical Association). And once an eye is seriously injured, that eye’s sight is generally gone for good. The stakes are high.

And if these aren’t good enough reasons for you to leave the fireworks to the pros, think about this heat and those wildfires burning acres and homes because everything is so dry. One misplaced spark from a firework and that might be yet another serious fire.

So enjoy your family and the hotdogs and fireworks on our nations birthday, and be safe and keep your kids safe.

Birthday Cake

The Real Meaning of Birthdays

Birthday CakeAs I prepare for the first summer weather 3 day weekend, I remind myself of the real meaning and purpose of Memorial Day. It’s not to eat burgers in the backyard, but rather to honor our fallen heroes. It pales in comparison, but it’s also appropriate to remember the real meaning of your child’s birthday and not get too caught up in the less meaningful stuff. My thanks to blogs.psychcentral.com for putting it so eloquently- here’s the link to go read it.

First and foremost, every birthday is a celebration “with joy and gratitude for each passing year of that child’s health and aliveness”.   Secondly, it’s a special time together with those that share in that joy of the child’s existence- the family “sharing special time together and evolving your family’s unique traditions for holidays and birthdays [that] are important ways to honor and solidify the bonds of love and connection”. I suggest that these are words worth remembering.

Sure, our kids want a birthday party, but that party and it’s preparation and expense should never overshadow the celebration of family, it’s traditions, and of the individual child. The message here is to keep the party in perspective. It’s not really what the birthday is about- it’s important, but secondary.

So don’t make yourself crazy, or broke, for the birthday party.


Exercise and Learning

RollerbladingAs parents, we all know how important exercise is for our children to maintain healthy bodies, but there is now evidence to show that exercise is also important to our children’s mental health and learning ability as well. Several studies have been conducted to see how learning and exercise are related and the overwhelming findings have been that children who are more active have also done better academically. So what can we do as parents to help our children get off to a good start both physically and academically? Kids Tips will try to help.

Some of the studies that have been conducted have linked physical activity and better grades on standardized tests, as well as claiming that the processing speed of the brain and the ability to focus and remain attentive increase with exercise. Read more about these studies at http://www.ahwatukee.com/kids_camp/article_75f8942e-7e86-11e1-9ea5-001a4bcf887a.html or at http://articles.dailyamerican.com/2012-04-04/news/31290607_1_children-need-exercise-child-care-preschoolers. Both of these sites share some wonderful information on the subject of children’s exercise and the effects on learning.

In order to get our kids off to the best possible start, both physically and academically, we need to get them to be more active in their time at home. Some good ideas to achieve this is to get them used to a short morning exercise routine, having running, hopping or skipping races whenever possible and making a bending and tossing game out of picking up their belongings in the evenings. Anything to keep them moving will be beneficial and making it fun will make it easier to get them involved.

While we parents can’t control how much exercise and movement our kids get during the day in school, it may well pay off to get them moving before they get to school so their brain is in top form as they tackle their academic day. Sadly, the days of walking or biking to school seem to be gone, at least where I live, but if there’s any way parents can accompany our kids on a brisk walk or ride to school, it might just do a world of good for our kids.