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...]