How to Reward Your Child

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As the school year’s end gets closer and closer, many students will be getting awards for their achievements. Honor roll, good attendance, high school, and athletics are just a few. Awards are good. They encourage students to do their best and to strive for greater heights in the future. I remember my first trophy. It meant the world to me that I had done something that warranted recognition. For some, participation trophies are necessary because doing one’s best takes a lot of effort regardless of the outcome. I remember football being such a sport. We all got trophies and to account for all the running this heavy boy did, I should have received two trophies.

In the home there are also small doses of recognition that encourage children to work, participate and consider positive behavior. We do this though giving money, more TV time and at my house it’s chocolate. I believe my 5 year old girl would clean every toilet in our house for a good piece of chocolate. Again, these rewards are good. Children will never see the value of cleaning their closets now because it will make them a better person later in life, but they do see the value in getting something in return right now.

What you give your child (and when) is up to each parent. However, there are some things that children should just be expected to do and there are categories in which children should get something because they may not see the big picture. A balance must be struck wherein the child learns just what is expected and what he gets rewarded for because maybe the act requires a little more effort.

Things the child should just be expected to do. Things like speaking respectfully and being nice to his sister should just be done. This is a mistake on the parents part if you constantly reward your child. You are teaching your child that everything he does gets rewarded and he is partially controlling your behavior rather than the other way around. Good behavior is its own reward.

What should your child be rewarded for doing? Maybe you are encouraging them to start or stop a habit. By giving them an expectation and a reward at the end, you can help them find the motivation to do better. Small events wherein he/she shows they are growing up. As potty training gets easier and easier, you should recognize this and praise the child. Maybe not with something tangible, but emotional recognition goes a long way. For older children, driving for a week or a month and not getting into an accident. By recognizing this small accomplishment you show that you’ve noticed their responsible behavior. Sometimes we are too busy speaking about the negative to notice the positive.

Helping around the house with things that aren’t a normal part of their regular chores. Your child may get an allowance each week for completing their chores, but what about cleaning out the garage? That’s not done regularly but you sure could use the help and you know that to your son or daughter, nothing could be more boring. One thing to consider is what your child’s specific needs are. Does he/she need a lesson in humility? Don’t pay them anything. Does he/she need a lesson that a good job gets rewarded? Promise to pay them and then promise a little extra if certain guidelines are met.

However you treat your child when it comes to rewards, make sure you are leading your child down a path of good character. By teaching them about lessons involving work, you are leaving the world hopefully a little better than you found it.

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Teens & Social Media: The Unattended Playground

In a recent 7th grade class I discussed the responsible use of cell phones. While in class I did a quick survey to see what percentage of my students actually had cell phones and who used social media. I’ve included the numbers below along with a few points to ponder.

  • 93% of our 7th graders have a cell phone, iPod, or tablet. While you can’t make phone calls on all of them, you can interact via social media.
  • 32% use Twitter
  • 58% use Facebook
  • 59% have YouTube accounts which allow them to post videos
  • 36% use Google+ which is like Facebook
  • 51% use Skype
  • 51% use Snap Chat
  • 59% use Instagram
  • 55% use Kik
  • 53% use Vine
My intent with this information is to show that kids are active on these platforms, several of which require parent permission. Being on these is neither good nor bad, but the behavior that takes place on them is quite often of an unsavory nature.

“Curiously, the minimum age on LinkedIn is 14. On WhatsApp it’s 16, and on Vine it’s 17. Some platforms, such as YouTube, WeChat and Kik, have a minimum age required of 18, although kids aged 13-17 can signup with parent’s permission.”

Does your child use these sites? If so, do you have access to his/her password and username? There is plenty of good that can be gained from the above sites/apps, but it is just as easy to see and experience negative things. Like an unsupervised playground, the internet has all sorts of possibilities for mayhem and for your child to be influenced in ways you do not approve of.

Consider the following article: Are Your Kids Hiding Their Apps?

Also, a program called Team Viewer will allow you to watch your child’s activity on the computer without them knowing. Sounds like a secret spy tactic doesn’t it? You may have access to all their accounts but they may also have accounts that you don’t know about. Plus, the instant message feature of Facebook is easily kept secret. So, if you really want to watch what your child is doing on the internet (while they do it in the next room in real time), you can get a free version for your home use.

Some things to consider if you go this route. First, you need two computers. There’s the one they’re on and the one you are watching them from. Second, this needs to only be done through computers you own. There are all sorts of privacy issues if you start watching on computers that aren’t yours or if you watch someone other than your child. Third, is  your child’s stage in life such that you really need to do this? You may have a level of trust here that will be breached if your child finds out. However, if you are worried he/she is hiding something from you, it is ok to start investigating. Finally, you can’t let your child know you are doing this. If you run into the next room out of anger and yell, “I saw what you just typed” they’ll know you’re watching. Then, the one and only window you had is now gone. This may keep them off those sites for a long time which isn’t a bad thing but they will find other ways to keep stuff from you if they are already doing it. So, be careful of how you handle this tool.

Parents must take steps to ensure that their child is growing and developing appropriately. This means to the point of monitoring their internet use because of the immense influence it can have on young minds.

 

How to Handle Bullies

BULLY! It seems that everyone is crying this word. “He’s bullying me. She’s a bully. You’re a bully.” It gets the attention of parents, teachers and the media, but it can eventually have an almost useless meaning because while everyone is pointing the finger, no one is looking at him or herself.

 We are always going to have mean people in the world. So, instead of only pointing the finger at the troublemaker, we need to also take a look at his/her victims and the bystanders that can have a big impact on this negative social behavior. Rather than getting the bully to stop, we also need to get others to act differently.

 First, we do need to teach empathy to bullies. We need to help them see what their behavior does to others. They need to realize that if they didn’t want to be hurt then they shouldn’t hurt others. This is a simple task that may or may not reach some since the motivation for their behavior could come from places besides a lack of empathy, but this is a good place to start.

Second, the bystanders need to be taught to act differently. They may be taking part in the bullying or they may be allowing it to happy by their inaction. Teach your children ways to reach out to those who are picked on. The targets of bullies need friends too and this is often why they are targets. They can be a friend, tell a teacher and they can tell you. When the lines of communication are open, your child will hopefully come to you about this. If they see a child who is repeatedly attacked, tell them to do what they can to stop it and that this means telling an adult

Third, the victim must act as well. Sometimes ignoring the bully diffuses his or her actions, but this isn’t always the case. So, telling an adult or simply avoiding the person when possible are good places to start.

When bullying happens on the internet, a rather ingenious idea is to keep your child away from social media. They don’t need it to survive so why put them in a place that causes them anxiety? Kids and teens are not all capable of managing the sea of anonymity and danger that comes with the internet. We were once afraid of the adult stranger behind the screen, but now our kids are attacked by their own peers. The internet is another method for them to do this so keep yours away from it if it’s causing problems.

The victim must also not fan the flames of bullying. If someone is being rude to them, if they are rude back, things won’t get better. The bully could actually escalate the situation in order to assert dominance. So, teach your child to appropriately handle bullies by telling someone or just ignoring them.

Christian Parenting Books

Below are my books available on Amazon.com, all from a Christian perspective.

 

1. My latest work on parenting, published by 21st Century Christian.

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2. No More Yelling formerly titled, How to Argue with Your Teen and Win; a good primer to start communicating better, tonight. Available in Kindle .

This book was formerly titled, How to Argue with Your Teen and Win; a good primer to start communicating better, tonight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. A collection of my best posts on marriage. Available in Kindle and paperback.

Better Marriage Cover

Rules for Cell Phone Etiquette


NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN THAT: 
All citizens must everywhere, everyday constantly fiddle with their cell phones. 

At no time is it permissible to sit idle and observe the poetry of life or look into the eyes of another person. 

The arrival of a snippet of text or feed update holds the promise of unimagined pleasure.

Honor thy ringtone and other hand-held devices.

REMEMBER:
Practice constant devotion to the precious object
Give full attention to the glorious technology.
Maintain unselfish love for the flimsy hardware
ALWAYS.


Author unknown

Changing Tough Behavior

Parents, Teens, & Cell Phones

Thirteen-year-old Greg Hoffman had been begging his parents for an iPhone all year. So on Christmas morning he was thrilled to find the object of his desire under the tree, but there was a catch.
The phone came with an 18-point set of terms and conditions that he had to agree to before the phone could be his. And the agreement did not come from Apple or the phone provider, it was from his mother.
What a novel idea! A parent working to control her child’s actions. More parents need to get a clue and direct their children like this mother has rather than watching the train wreck their children slowly become. Here’s the list she came up with and if you are looking for ways to help your child become a productive adult, this may be a good place to start.

Her rules were edited by Bart King.
  1. It is my phone. I bought it. I pay for it. I am loaning it to you. Aren’t I the greatest?
  2. I will always know the password.
  3. If it rings, answer it. It is a phone. Say hello, use your manners. Do not ever ignore a phone call if the screen reads “Mom” or “Dad”. Not ever.

  4. Hand the phone to one of your parents promptly at 7:30pm every school night and every weekend night at 9:00pm. It will be shut off for the night and turned on again at 7:30am. If you would not make a call to someone’s landline, wherein their parents may answer first, then do not call or text. Listen to those instincts and respect other families like we would like to be respected.

  5. It does not go to school with you. Have a conversation with the people you text in person. It’s a life skill.

  6. If it falls into the toilet, smashes on the ground, or vanishes into thin air, you are responsible for the replacement costs or repairs.

  7. Do not use this technology to lie, fool, or deceive another human being. 
  8. Do not involve yourself in conversations that are hurtful to others. Be a good friend first or stay the hell out of the crossfire.

  9. Do not text, email, or say anything through this device you would not say in person.

  10. No porn.

  11. Turn it off, silence it, put it away in public. Especially in a restaurant, at the movies, or while speaking with another human being. You are not a rude person; do not allow the iPhone to change that.

  12. Do not send or receive pictures of your private parts or anyone else’s private parts. Don’t laugh. Someday you will be tempted to do this despite your high intelligence. It is risky and could ruin your teenage/college/adult life. It is always a bad idea. Cyberspace is vast and more powerful than you. And it is hard to make anything of this magnitude disappear — including a bad reputation.

  13. Don’t take a zillion pictures and videos. There is no need to document everything. Live your experiences. They will be stored in your memory for eternity.

  14. Leave your phone home sometimes and feel safe and secure in that decision. It is not alive or an extension of you. Learn to live without it. Be bigger and more powerful than FOMO — fear of missing out.

  15. Download music that is new or classic or different than the millions of your peers that listen to the same exact stuff. Your generation has access to music like never before in history. Take advantage of that gift. Expand your horizons.

  16. Play a game with words or puzzles or brain teasers every now and then.

  17. Keep your eyes up. See the world happening around you. Stare out a window. Listen to the birds. Take a walk. Talk to a stranger. Wonder without googling.

  18. You will mess up. I will take away your phone. We will sit down and talk about it. We will start over again. We are always learning. I am on your team. We are in this together. 

Thinking of Divorce? Think of Your Children.

Parents love their children but sometimes mom and dad don’t love each other. Another way to put it is that mom and dad are divorcing. You can divorce for good reasons or for bad, but in any case, please think of the children before you sign any papers. By working to save the marriage, you may save yourselves and them from utter ruin.

The following is from www.FirstThings.org. Some of these stats are old but because divorce is still divorce, I’d be willing to guess that things haven’t changed. They may actually be worse.

  • The poverty rate for a child in a single parent home is six times above that of a married, two-parent home. Typically, the household income of a divorced family falls 37%.
  • Surveys have found that children from broken homes, when they become teenagers, have two to three times more behavioral and psychological problems than do children from intact homes. Zill and Schoenborn, 1988
  • Good remarriages did not seem to help children overcome the trauma of divorce. Dr. Judith Wallerstein, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, A 25 Year Landmark Study, 2000
  • Children living with both biological parents are significantly less likely to suffer health problems than children raised in a single parent home. Dawson. 1991
  • In 90% of the divorces, the father is gone from the children’s lives in five years.
  • Nearly two-fifths of all kids live in homes without their father. Of those children more than half have never been in their father’s home, and 40 percent have not seen them in at least a year. David Blankenhorn, Fatherless America 1995
  • Daughters, white or black, between the ages of 12 and 16 who lived with unmarried mothers are at least twice as likely to become single parents themselves. McLahan 1988
  • Family instability or disruption is one of the major causes of youth suicide, now the second leading cause of death among adolescents. Nelson, Furbelow and Litman, 1988
  • Children of divorce complain: “The day my parents divorced is the day my childhood ended.” Dr. Judith Wallerstein, The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, A 25 Year Landmark Study, 2000



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