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Posts Tagged ‘children’

With a spat of news reports about cyber-bullying leading to teenage suicide, I suspect that some parents who allowed their children to join Facebook might feel pangs of regret.

Not me, and here’s why:

Many parents worry that social networking exposes pre-teens to foul and hurtful language, taunting, and general filth.  Those parents are correct.  The minimum age for joining Facebook is 13 years old.  Yet I allowed my 12 year old son and 11 year old daughter to join about six months ago.  As simple safeguards, I ran their accounts through my email and I have each of their passwords.  They also have friended me, and dozens of their friends–perhaps to puff up their friend numbers– have friended me thus allowing me to access their webpages.  My son has more than 100 friends and my daughter has zoomed to more than 250.

Unknown to them, (more…)

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Last year at this time I lost a night of sleep after my children grumbled about what they thought was a paltry Christmas.  My 11-year-old son, for example, was irked that his younger sister got a slightly nicer cellphone than his.  In the midst of a global recession that caused some families in our neighborhood to lose their homes to bank foreclosure, I felt my kids needed a better understanding of what was going on in the world and to temper their unseemly sense of entitlement to the latest $60 videogames, $10 first-run movie tickets and the latest stuff they see advertised on tv.

Following last Christmas, I arranged for them to make two phone calls.  The first one to their 89-year-old great-grandfather in Denver and ask him about what Christmas was like for him in 1932 during the Great Depression.  Then they talked to the local power company and got some stats on the number of families in and around our zip code who were having a cold, dark Christmas because they could not afford to pay their electric bill.  They were instructed to ask questions and write down the answers.  In the end, they actually kind of enjoyed the exercise, learned something, and understood why Daddy was making them do it.  But would it stick with them? I didn’t know.

This Christmas I found out the answer. (more…)

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Iowa schoolchildren in Ms Elliot's class circa 1968

Iowa schoolchildren in Ms Elliot's class circa 1968

This is the full, streaming video of a classic Frontline documentary about an Iowa school teacher who on the day after MLK was assassinated in 1968 decided to teach her class of 8-year-olds a harsh lesson about racism.  She decreed to that blue-eyed kids were better than brown-eyed kids and that they would enjoy privileges in the class, at recess, and in the cafeteria. The brown-eyed children were forced to wear collars. Not only did the classmates turn on each other but the “superior” kids started performing better in classroom exercises while the “inferior” kids slumped.  It is an amazing tale, and suitable for anybody young or old to watch.

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I got a lot of comments for my post a few weeks ago on disciplining children, so I wrote this installment today after my four-year-old nephew beaned my daughter in the head with a pine cone.  I was ready to laugh it off and move on.  But when confronted, my nephew lied about who threw it.  A moment later, he lied again and said that his Mommy had said it was okay to throw things.  The well-aimed pine cone I could forgive, but the lies warranted some kind of response.  I sent him to sit in the corner of the playground for an undefined length of time that turned out to be about 10 minutes.  I let him re-join us after he apologized to my daughter and explained to me why he was being punished.  He cited the pine cone but not the lying for his punishment, which is indicative of how difficult it can be to teach this important lesson in truth-telling to a little kid.

We all know that kids do stuff that results in something being spilt, broken, or getting dirty.  It is frustrating but expected, and in my book a mild scolding is all that is warranted.  But most all kids in the 3 to 5 year old range will at some time or another try out a lie or two to escape the scolding that they know is coming.  They blame someone else or make up some other little lie rather than face up to the truth.  Lying—even if it is deployed to cover up a small crime—deserves a some kind of a punishment in my book.  However in my daily life as a parent, I find myself doling out a scolding for the toy left in the rain but forget to punish the thing that is really a crime: lying about who left it there.

Another fine example: years ago my oldest son–who has always been a slow eater with a small appetite– claimed to have a tummy ache from eating half a bowl of oatmeal.  I told him that I took his word for it that he was sick and to put his bowl in the sink.  Though I couldn’t prove it, I suspected he was faking and I tried to smoke him out.  So as he hauled his aching belly to his room to recuperate, I told my two other kids that I was taking them on a surprise outing to the waterpark (this occurred in Jakarta and the waterpark was near our house and very cheap).  Before the car could leave the driveway, my sick son experienced a miraculous recovery.  He, of course, admitted to the lie.  I sent him back to his room to think it over and took the other two to the waterpark even though the trip would have been much more fun with all three kids.  I determined that the best way to get him to stop faking an illness was to make it costly to get caught.

The bottom line here is that while you may be annoyed as hell at your kid’s antics, most of it is just a kid being a kid.  But if there is to be no tolerance for lying to Mom and Dad, then it is up to you to make that clear.  This is about trust between parent and child.  And you need your kids to develop into habitual truth-tellers before they enter the teenage years and get into the type of trouble that cannot be fixed with a simple fib.

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Most every parent would love to instill in their children the expectation that they will go to college.  I have a simple method that will help plant the idea in your child’s head, while exposing them to the financial world in terms that an 11-year-old can understand.  Let me explain: (more…)

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