Knoxville, TN Book Events: June 25 & 26

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I am excited to announce that I’ll be in the Knoxville, TN area June 25 & 26 for two book events. The first will be at Union Avenue Books. Here, I will be discussing my latest book, Generations to Come: Becoming All Things to Your Child. It is a work on parenting that I hope will encourage many to improve their relationship with their children.

Learn how to constructively communicate with your child, what parental assets you should be employing and even the motivation behind your child’s misbehavior. This discussion on the adventure of parenting is sure to make you laugh and appreciate all that you have in your family.

Free copies of Dale’s two Kindle books will be available for all attendees. 28 Days to A Better Marriage and No More Yelling.

The second event is on June 26 from 11:30am to 1pm at the Laurel Church of Christ. This particular event is the monthly meeting for the Tennessee Licensed Professional Counselors Association. The cost for this event is $15. One CEU and lunch is included. This session also covers Generations to Come but is geared towards counselors, ministers and anyone who works with parents, children and teens.

I hope to see you there.

Generations to Come Book Cover

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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3 Superpowers Fatherhood Has Given Me

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After you create other human beings, it gives you a certain sense of power. Of course you didn’t do it alone, especially the 9 month part, but there your child is; a creation that you helped bring into this world. It is truly one of nature’s wonders and if you are committed to raising the children properly, you gain certain superpowers.

First, you care about your kids, a lot and you will do anything to protect them. God blessed men with an immense propensity for danger. When you pair this with children that a man loves, the words, “your burning house is about to collapse” means nothing if the children are inside. Which brings us to our next superpower; strength.

Men who have daughters especially know this. Regardless of the size of the arrogant zit-faced teen that may enter your home, his perceived strength is nothing in comparison to what fuels your desire for justice in light of your little girl. This is also a reference to emotional strength because you must be there for her when she comes home crying. She may go to mom, but the strength you possess will also help her get through any difficulty.

Finally, I have a level of ESP that can only come from exposure to gamma radiation or in having children. Walk into a room or down a store aisle, I can predict with extreme accuracy the things my children will want to touch, hit each other with or knock over. This may seem like paranoia, but allow your predictions to come true a few times and you’ll see it for the superpower that it is.

By exercising these powers, and others, I’m sure I’ve forgotten, you can show your kids you truly love them.

How Bad Do You Want A Happy Family?

We must invest in our families, but too many of us do other things besides build the relationships with our children or with our spouses. We spend time at work and all too often doing things we want to do which typically doesn’t involve family activity.

The story is told of a man who wanted to be successful so he met up with a guru and asked, “how can I be successful?” The guru told him to walk out into the ocean. The two men walked way out until it was up to their necks. The guru then held the man’s head underwater and asked him when he let him up what he wanted more than anything else when he was under water. He said, “I wanted to breathe.” The guru then said, “when you want to be successful as bad as you wanted to breathe, you’ll be a success.” How bad do you want to have a happy family?

Too many of us want to watch football more than we want to spend time with our family. We’d rather work in the yard, look at our phones or watch whatever is on TV. How we spend our time shows what we value. Do you value your family or whatever it is you do at the end of your day? Your actions speak louder than your words and your kids notice. Your spouse does too.

Who’s Deaf? You or Your Child?

My son’s vision has become such that he needs to always wear his glasses now. This happened so slowly that he didn’t realize what he was missing until he finally saw it. He was excited at the world around him; like seeing things for the first time.

What are you helping your child see? My biggest concern was that he saw the songs for church that are projected on the wall. Second of course is that he see what his teacher is writing on the board. As parents we are to show our children the world around them, but if they can’t see it, hear it or comprehend it, what do we do?

I spent a weekend at a dude ranch a few years back and the family that hosted us had an adopted child from Mexico. She was about my son’s age at the time, around seven years old, and she didn’t speak. It’s not that she lacked the physical capabilities to do so or that she didn’t understand English or Spanish; she understood a little of both, but rather she had not heard much of any speech for the first few years of her life. After being abused because her parents thought she was being disrespectful in not communicating, doctors discovered that both of her ears were impacted and totally sealed off. She wasn’t being defiant; she couldn’t hear. I can’t imagine the guilt the parents must have felt when they learned this.

How many times have we as parents disciplined our children for not understanding something? Not because they chose not to, but because we weren’t communicating well. Have you yelled and screamed, frustrated at your child’s behavior only to realize later that he or she didn’t hear or understand you? It happens. We are parents but we aren’t perfect.

It is our job to help our children learn and by doing this we must also make sure they understand. Asking an 18 month old to do something he or she isn’t developmentally ready for is only asking for parental angst to begin. Not helping your teen boy with his own anxiety is setting him up to look for relief through drugs. Not telling your teenage daughter that you love her, dad, is pointing her in the direction of boys who will pay her attention to her own emotional detriment.

As you are guiding your child through life, make sure you are on the same page at the same time and in the same book. If he or she is frustrating you, chances are they are just as confused and maybe even more so than you.

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.

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Disney’s Frozen & Emotion Control??

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Can you believe the hype over Disney’s latest masterpiece, Frozen? People are waiting for five hours to see Anna & Elsa at Disney World. It is a great movie and it can teach us a lot about emotion control. Often referred to as EQ (emotional quotient) we have the ability to be in tune with our emotions in order to make the most of what we are as humans. Emotions aren’t bad but they can be misleading and can be expressed inappropriately.

If you’ve not seen it, there are no spoilers here so don’t worry. In the movie, Elsa has the power to freeze things, and I don’t mean just freeze a small glass of water, she started the winter season in her kingdom. She had a lot of power. Her abilities were discovered when she was a young girl and in order to keep her and her sister safe, her parents told her to “conceal, don’t feel.” You can hear this line in the song by the way.

The idea was that if she suppressed her powers, which were greatly tied to her emotions, then she would be able to control them. Well, by the time she was an adult, she had almost no control over her freezing ability. All the years of suppression couldn’t hold back what was naturally there. She didn’t know what to do.

We often tell our children, and sometimes ourselves, to stop feeling a certain way. This has its place as we sometimes over react and know in our heads that crying over spilled milk all the time is no way to live. So, a proper reaction both intellectually and emotionally is necessary. Help your child construct a healthy EQ by processing the negative event. Don’t just tell your teen to “get over it.” She doesn’t know how to do that.

We sometimes believe that strong emotions are a bad thing, particularly men. However, if we are to be strong, we must conquer our feelings. We must master them because there’s nothing more manly than self-awareness. Otherwise, our emotions will rule us. If a person feels a certain way, he should express that and then think about whether or not the emotion makes sense. Suppression only serves to add the emotion up, and like a soda that’s been shaken, it will eventually explode.

 It is the expression of our emotions that often gets us in trouble. If your teenage son is angry, let him feel that. Let him experience it, but help him talk it out and get a good hold of why he feels the way he does and what he should do about it. Exploding in a rage only helps the person learn to lose control, not master his/her demons.

Like the song says, let it go.