How to Reward Your Child


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.



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, 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

Children and Hearing Loss: Overcoming the Difficulties

The following is a guest post by John O’Connor. John is someone I can appreciate. He is a father, outdoorsman, sports enthusiast and passionate about living a healthy lifestyle.  Check out his new blog. -Dale

Although people tend to think of the elderly when they hear terms such as “hearing loss” or “hearing aids,” many of those affected by hearing loss are quite young. In fact, some babies are born with hearing loss. Others begin to lose their hearing as toddlers or during grade school. As the number of Americans affected by hearing loss grows, the number of children affected also increases. Currently, roughly eight percent of Americans with severe to profound hearing loss are under the age of 18. Further, about 15 percent of all children aged six to 19 experience some hearing loss in either high or low frequencies.

The children affected by hearing loss face a number of challenges. Many young children who are hard of hearing have difficulties learning to speak or to pronounce new words. They may also struggle academically, especially in areas of language arts as their hearing problems make it difficult to learn new vocabulary, understand grammar, learn verb tenses and so on.

Like adults with hearing difficulties, children with hearing loss often benefit from the use of hearing aids. The small microphones within these devices amplify sounds, which are then carried directly to the wearer’s ear. Other children with hearing loss will do best by communicating non-verbally. Children with hearing loss often use sign language, a formal collection of hand gestures, to communicate with family, friends and teachers.

Despite the trials of hearing loss, many people have been able to overcome their hearing loss and have accomplished much. From the age of 12, Thomas Edison struggled with a serious loss of hearing. Rather than feeling bad for himself, he considered this condition a gift that helped him avoid becoming distracted while working. He went on to invent the incandescent light bulb, the phonograph and over 1,000 other things that made life better for people all over the world.

Today, actress Marlee Matlin has an Oscar, a Golden Globe and multiple Emmy nominations to her credit. When she was only 18 months old, however, she lost nearly all her hearing. With the loving support of her family, she didn’t let hearing loss impair her personal goals. She says about herself, “I am a person who just happens to be deaf.”

Hearing loss in children comes with challenges to be overcome, just like many other things in life as well. These challenges, however, need not turn into tragedies. With loving encouragement, children with hearing loss can be successful at many things. If your child faces such a difficulty, help him or her to face it with positivity and determination. Success will come.

Parenting Effectively

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 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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"How to Teach Your Child Phone Etiquette" (Guest Post)

This is a guest post by Martina Keyhell, author of

Back when landline phones were a fixture in every household, kids were taught proper phone etiquette as a standard skill. Conversely, in 2010 USA Today reported that one in four American homes had only wireless phones, with that figure steadily climbing. As a result, more of today’s kids are growing up in homes without landline telephones altogether, simply receiving their own mobile devices when they reach an age that their parents determine is appropriate. Teaching your children proper phone etiquette at an early age can help them understand the best ways to politely and appropriately use both the decreasingly popular landline telephone and their own cell phone, when they receive it.

Safety First
Children often have a tendency to give out more information than is strictly necessary over the phone. While these over-shares can range from mildly embarrassing to downright hilarious, that lack of discretion can be dangerous. Kids should be taught from a young age that certain information should never be shared with a stranger, which can help ensure that they never give out information that’s better kept quiet. To guarantee that your youngster understands what is considered appropriate sharing, role play a variety of hypothetical phone conversations and talk about the right way to handle certain questions. If you live in a home with a landline that is still regularly used, these conversations and exercises should start taking place before your child is allowed to answer the phone on his own.

Model Good Phone Behavior
Kids learn much about what is and is not acceptable behavior by observing parents and other trusted adults, then modeling their own behavior after those observations. You can start teaching your child good cell phone etiquette long before he ever gets his own mobile device by simply practicing good phone manners yourself. To provide your kids with a good phone-etiquette role model, don’t take non-essential calls in quiet, public settings or use alert tones that disturb others around you. If you want to raise a child who doesn’t text or talk on his cell phone while driving, it’s vital that you don’t either.

Discuss Appropriate Behavior
When it’s time for your child to get his first cell phone, it’s also a good time for you to discuss your family policy regarding accessing and sharing inappropriate content. If applicable, let your child know that his phone may be subject to random searches or that you’ve installed monitoring software to keep tabs on his phone use, and that he should never send messages or share photos that they would be embarrassed for anyone other than the intended recipient to see. Explaining that content is easily shared, both inadvertently and deliberately, and can never be retrieved may help to prevent him from sending potentially embarrassing content.

Declare “Phone Free” Time During Certain Hours
Banning cell phone use during dinner or landline use after a certain time will help your children learn that it’s not appropriate or polite to send messages or make calls at all hours of the day or night. Enforcing the rule and explaining why your family has such a policy also presents a great opportunity for discussion regarding other times and situations where using a cell phone or placing a traditional landline call might not be acceptable.

Talk About Bullying
Bullying and peer harassment is a very real problem for today’s youth, and it extends far beyond the boundaries of school property. Modern technology allows cruel kids to reach their victims through social networking sites, email and text messages for what often amounts to round-the-clock torment. Talking about cyber-bullying, how to handle it and why it’s wrong before giving your child his first cell phone can also help to open a dialogue about the subject of bullying in general, which can offer you some valuable insights. Explain to your child that even sharing a message with cruel content written by someone else is cyber-bullying, and that it’s never okay to participate in pranks that cause other people pain. It’s also wise to teach him how to deal with any cyber-bullying that he might encounter, so that he’s prepared in the event of this all-too-common occurrence.

In addition to teaching your children the rules governing public cell phone use, inappropriate content, and the basics of cyber-bullying, you should take the time to explain the proper methods for addressing someone after they answer the phone, asking to speak with a member of the household, and answering the phone in a polite, friendly manner.

REVIEW: Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters The 30 Day Challenge by Meg Meeker, MD

Why does a female MD write a book that helps males be better dads for their daughters? Because she believes we have a lot to offer them, things that can make them great women someday. This goes against our culture’s notion that men can’t possibly understand their daughters. Unfortunately, men believe this and consequently take themselves out of their daughters’ lives in one-way or another. Meeker is helping to remedy this.

In Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: The 30-Day Challenge,author Meg Meeker helps men see the God given abilities that can help them be an extremely important part of their daughters’ lives. Dads show their daughters what men are, who God is, and how the world doesn’t wants what’s best for them; only dad and mom do.

The book covers the same topics as her original work, Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know. 1) You are the most important man in her life. 2) She needs a hero. 3) You are her first love. 4) Teach her humility. 5) Protect and Defend her. 6) Pragmatism and Grit, Two of Your Greatest Assets 7) Be the man you want her to marry. 8) Teach her who God is. 9) Teach her to fight. 10) Keep her connected. She recommends reading certain chapters in this book. However, even if you don’t buy the 10 Secrets book, you get a lot of information from the Challenge book. This latter edition is particularly good for men who don’t have a habit of reading. Any man, if he cares to know more about his daughter, will read the thirty chapters, each of which are no more than four pages long.

Each chapter will help you grow as a man, and you will see that this is important because your daughter will someday marry someone like you. As Meeker says, “Women gravitate towards the familiar.” At the end of each chapter is a challenge engineered to help dads authentically engage with their daughters. Doing this can be awkward for dads but through Meeker’s coaching, any dad can do it. I wouldn’t recommend doing each activity one day after another. This will seem fake. However, a well-planned activity based on Meeker’s suggestions will do wonders for your relationship with your daughter. Furthermore, some activities are appropriate for younger girls while others are more for older ones. One of Meeker’s last directives is to put the book up for a while when you’re done, and refer back to it from time-to-time. I agree.

Meeker discusses men’s natural strengths without apology and identifies how they counteract the weaknesses of women. While this will enrage some feminists, it also allows her to speak directly to the heart of the dads reading, encouraging them to “man-up.” Too many dads sit on their thumbs, and remember, it’s a book for dads, not moms. Meeker’s frank authorship and knowledge of the worries and fears of today’s dads make this book a must-read for every man who wants to do his best for his family.

Think you can’t reach your daughter? Whether you only see her on the weekends or every single night, Meeker’s thoughts can help guide you to a better relationship with your little girl so you can shape her into a woman who will make you proud.