Posts Tagged ‘11 year old’

Not so long ago my fifth-grade child turned in a sloppy book report and brought home a poor grade.  I started in with a lecture on taking pride in your work and soon enough I had worked into a lather about taking your time, checking your work and that sloppy work was unacceptable.  As I built to a crescendo, I realized that my child hadn’t gotten a word in edgewise in about 10 minutes.  Nor had she looked up at me.  Eighty percent of what I said had not registered.  She had probably disengaged from my 100 mph lecture and was simply awaiting the pronouncement of a punishment or for me to stop talking.

I vowed to revamp my strategy for the next time.

When I do all the talking, I come away with no real sense of the nature of the problem and how to best fix it.  My child reverts to silence and the occasional ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.  This denies me the two things that I — and all parents — need most:  more information as to what exactly is going wrong and secondly for the child to learn the lesson and remember it long enough to put in an improved performance at the next opportunity.

A few weeks later, I found a school test with a bad grade written in red in my child’s schoolbag.  This was my chance.

The fouled up math test wasn’t complicated or tricky.  Straightforward equations, wrong answers.  I started out with a simple, “Tell me what happened here?” and handed my child the test.  “I rushed through it and didn’t check my work.”  I asked if we had ever discussed this problem in the past.  “Yes.”  So you agree that we have dealt with this problem in the past and it still isn’t fixed.  Is that something that me as a parent should be concerned about?  She said, “Yes.” Tell me why I should be concerned.  “Because if I rush through, then I will get things wrong and a bad grade.”

I felt like a football coach breaking down the game film at halftime and making adjustments in the locker room before the second half.  My child and I proceeded to go through what happened on that test step-by-step with me asking the questions and she providing the answers. It felt like a genuine give-and-take.  If she could successfully present me with a valid reason why poor performance on this test should not raise parental concerns, then I was prepared to let her off scot-free.  But as expected she knew where my questions were heading and preemptively confessed to the problem, explained that she is too distracted by her friends in the classroom, and told me she needs to focus better.  She then came up with a suitable punishment: no Facebook or cellphone until she could demonstrate that the problem was fixed.

I became a convert to the second approach.  I came away with a much clearer understanding of why she makes easy errors on tests that had left me scratching my head.  By explaining herself in her own words, this (I hope) thus lessened the chances of a repeat performance.  I don’t have to worry about the punishment fitting the crime because my child had confessed to the crime, described in detail how the crime was committed and then levied the punishment.  Lastly, if this problem resurfaces, I can say, “Remember when you told me ….” and be confident that indeed she will remember her own words.  And if I have to take even stronger measures, I can simply say, “We did it your way last time and now we are going to do it my way.”

But if my revamped strategy works, hopefully it won’t come to that.


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My wife and I have high expectations for our three elementary school-aged children, but we have told them repeatedly that we do not expect straight A’s.  That may sound like a contradiction, but it is not.  If we see good effort then we anticipate that good grades will flow naturally.  And if their best isn’t good enough to net them an “A” then so be it. Everyone makes mistakes, and nobody is perfect all the time.

My 11-year-daughter has hit the beginnings of puberty and as her body changes, so has her priorities.  Getting full effort out of her is increasingly difficult.  It frustrates but doesn’t surprise me when she forgets her homework at school on the last day before an assignment is due, but remembers clearly when the local high school football team plays a home game that she can attend with her sixth grade classmates and friends.  She increasingly views anything that stands in the way of her interacting with her friends as a grave injustice.

We are fairly permissive parents.  (more…)

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It has been exactly two months since my son stepped foot Hooters.   Hundreds of people from around the world have left comments about my blog post both positive and negative, some thought provoking and others just nasty and dismissive.  The last word (at this blog anyway) goes to Catherine Otwell, who waited on us that day and emailed me recently asking to write a guest post because she’s got something to say.  I think it speaks for itself:

My name is Catherine, and a few weeks ago my photo was featured in a story on the homepage of AOL. Totally unaware of the situation, I was bombarded by phone calls and text messages telling me to check AOL’s top stories.  Initially, I was pleasantly surprised as my friends called exclaiming, “You’re famous!”

When I came home, and finally was able to see the article, I quickly remembered the Saturday when Bob came to Hooter’s with his son after his football game. As I read the article, I was intrigued by Bob’s experiment. I kept reading. Finally, I came to the comments. I was not surprised to see how many people have distaste for Hooters, especially when it comes to children. However, I was disappointed to see how quickly people judge the restaurant and the girls, without even stepping through the doors.

Firstly, Hooter Girls are not the enemy. What you see in the photo is a 20 year old, George Mason student. I was a professional ballet student at the Washington Ballet, I graduated in the top of my class with an IB diploma, and the only thing that stood in the way of Georgetown was the tuition. I support myself on entirely on my own, and I am paying my way through school. (more…)

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Greetings to those who read my piece in the USA Today and went looking for my blog.  I originally wrote the Hooters post a  few weeks ago and it is buried in my archives, but I’ll save you the scrolling and put it Here.  Below is the picture:

The Hooters picture.  My son is the one on the right.

The Hooters picture. My son is the one on the right.

But don’t believe the hype.  Blogging about red meat topics like Hooters is not what I usually do.  For those of you in the market for some interesting parenting stories and lessons about raising infants up to pre-teens, I have compiled my Greatest Hits with a thumbnail description culled from my 40+ posts in the past three months:

1) The time I had my kids talk to their great-grandpa about the Great Depression.

2) How to reduce your child’s crying

3) How hard to push your child into competitive sports

4) How to win the discipline war with your kids

5) Why a 10-year-old needs a cellphone

6) Using chores and allowance to instill a work ethic and saving money.

7) Dump your stroller

8.) Two simple tests you can run on your 4-year-old that researchers believe are keys to future success here and here. Also, looking for clues in the crib.

9) The key to being an effective parent.

10) What Happens when even good parenting isn’t enough

11) Kids, Videogames and self-control

12) Peeing in a trashcan. One of my favorite funny stories.

Thanks for taking a look at my blog, and leave a comment if the mood strikes you.  If you work your way through my grammatical errors and weak lines of argument, and sift out a nugget of two of useful information to apply to your own children, then I am happy.

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For some reason I don’t understand, I am seeing a giant spike from people clicking today to read my two-week-old post about taking my son to Hooter’s (if you really want to see it, i’ll make it easy for you: here it is).  That post was popular and controversial when I wrote it, but I have moved on to more interesting, substantial parenting topics.  So if you are here to read about Hooter’s, great.  And you are more than welcome to stick around and see what we have to say about instilling your kids with a work ethic and a capacity to save money, how to get your kids off the videogames, a link to a serious documentary about school children and racism.  In addition, my favorite and most popular posts from the archives are listed on the right panel under “Greatest Hits You Might Have Missed.”

P.S. Can someone leave in the comment section what link you saw that led you to my blog today?

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Last Saturday after a youth football game, one of my friends and I took our 11-year-old sons to Hooters for lunch.  Both boys knew what Hooters is known for and one of them actively wanted to go while the other didn’t show any outward signs of interest but perhaps he was just good at hiding it.  In any case, we had a decent lunch and before leaving our waitress obliged us by taking a picture with the boys.

Two boys who like owls.

Two boys who like owls.

Days later, I told my sister-in-law about it and her immediate reaction was, “How could you?”

Had I made a mistake … (more…)

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