Helping Children

I love this post from Demand Euphoria on knowing when to help your children. Basically: If your children are struggling and not in imminent danger, let them figure things out on their own - unless they ask for your help.  Obviously, you're not going to let your kids "struggle" alone with putting out a dangerous fire or crossing a busy intersection. But there is incredible value in letting them solve their own problems when they can and want to.   I would add one caveat, though.  When our kids are small, the dangers we need to protect them from tend to be immediate ones.  The street.  A cliff.  Unsafe food.  As they grow up, however, the complexity of the dilemmas they face increases, … [Read more...]

Reward Systems for Kids?

When Roni was eight, I got the bright idea that a reward system would help encourage him to read.  He seemed to like reading, but he rarely picked up a book.  And he seemed to tire easily.  A reward system, I thought, would give him the added incentive he needed to make the effort, and would help him develop good reading skills early on.  So I offered him an ice cream sundae or a two-dollar prize for each ten pages he managed to finish.  And I thought he'd be swallowing books whole in no time.   Boy, was I wrong!  Not only did my plan backfire, it seemed to have the opposite effect.  Reading became a chore, a bother.  For the first couple of weeks, he read more and proudly claimed his … [Read more...]

A Simple Truth

"Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you." ... "You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth." - Gibran Khalil Gibran Kids and parents are like ships passing in the night.  They can call out encouragingly to each other as they pass,  shine a light for each other to see the way, perhaps exchange some vital information or even tools, but ultimately they have different paths.  They left different ports and have different destinations. Or as Gibran Khalil Gibran put it -- Kids are like arrows … [Read more...]

Do Zombies Have Free Will?

I believe in giving my kids freedom.  Room to explore.  Space for uninhibited, imaginative play.   That being said, it is my job to keep my children safe.  I believe in giving them freedom, but not the freedom, say, to fence with real swords or to walk on the railing of our balcony, three floors up above the ground.  Not the freedom to play with real guns and not the freedom to taste rat poison or eat laundry detergent. And not the freedom to let their brains rot.   So yeah, I think they need limits on T.V. time, too. And in the argument between Demand Euphoria and Teacher Tom, on whether to limit screen time, I'm with Tom.  Freedom, absolutely. But freedom that accounts for … [Read more...]

The Power of Context

I don't think I'm a fascist, but there does seem to be something to the "broken windows" theory of crime control (yes, I'm still re-reading The Tipping Point...) - something that we can definitely learn from as parents. In his chapter on The Power of Context, Malcolm Gladwell talks about how the physical environment we create can have a dramatic impact on people's behavior.  So, for example, one of the most effective strategies for fighting subway crime in New York turned out to be keeping the cars free of graffiti and cracking down on small offences like fare-beating.  Simple steps like these were able to bring about a dramatic and counter-intuitively quick decrease in crime levels in the … [Read more...]

The Malcolm Gladwell Guide to Emparenting

So I've been listening to Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point (for the second time, on my ipod...) and I've been struck by how many of his ideas and insights jive with the principles of Emparenting. One of the many interesting points that he makes has to do with the subtleties of persuasion.  In many cases, it's not what we tell people that makes them do what we want; it's how we carry ourselves and what we do. In one surprising study Gladwell talks about, the unconscious facial expressions of three major newscasters reporting on the 1984 presidential election were analyzed, and a significant correlation was found between their body language and the voting behavior of their viewers. While … [Read more...]

Gender Benders?

The blogosphere has been ablaze with controversy about Kathy Witterick and David Stocker's decision not to tell anyone whether their four-month-old baby is a boy or a girl. They said they were doing it as a "tribute to freedom and choice in place of limitation, a stand up to what the world could become". Others thought they were just trying to get attention.   When J. Crew executive Jenny Lyons was pictured recently in an ad with her five year old son sporting neon pink toenail polish, it sparked a controversy so fierce (and so ridiculous), that Jon Stewart called  it "Toemaggedon".   And this weekend the New York Times profiled several parents who are grappling with the … [Read more...]

Being on the Same Side

Another excellent article by Vickie at Demand Euphoria. When we treat our children as if we are at war with them ("Don't negotiate with terrorists!"), everybody loses. Update: Wow, and Vickie has another great one today:  Choosing Your Guide.  Imagine you were going on a hike, and you could choose between two guides: one controlling and bossy, and the other neglectful and uncaring. Then imagine you could choose a third guide, who planned the trip with you and was pleasantly cooperative throughout:   She will offer to help when she notices you are struggling, no matter how easy or hard it looks to her. Sometimes she might get distracted and get ahead of you, but she will notice … [Read more...]

Waving at the Schoolbus

I'm not saying we shouldn't have a daily impact on our kids' lives.  But how would you feel if your Dad waved at your schoolbus each morning, dressed in a different costume.  Humiliated? Loved? Actually? I think I would love it.   … [Read more...]

How to Confuse your Children

An outstanding post from Vickie at Demand Euphoria, on the top ten ways parents can confuse their children by demanding behaviors they don't live up to themselves. If he's yelling, yell at him: STOP YELLING! IT'S NOT NICE TO YELL. Tell him never to talk to strangers because it's dangerous, but then tell him he is rude when he won't say hello back to the cashier at the grocery store. Tell him he should never let anyone touch him if he doesn't feel comfortable, but then don't intervene when his aunt, who he sees once a year, hugs him against his will. Tell him you can't afford to buy him the one-dollar candy bar he wants, as you are buying yourself a five-dollar cup … [Read more...]