March 16, 2010

To Stop Bad Behavior, Stop Reinforcing It

The other day at work, my husband saw a child with his father who was engaging in a common act of very poor behavior: he was saying, "Dad.  Dad.  Dad.  Dad," over and over while his father talked with another adult.  We've all seen this, been on the receiving end of it and probably on the giving end as well.

Then the boy upped the ante.  Tired of chanting, he punched his dad's leg as hard as he could.

The father's reaction?  He promptly turned around and said, "Yes, son?" as though nothing strange had happened at all.

There are a couple of things at work here, and therefore a couple of ways to stop the bad behavior all around.

March 9, 2010

Are We More Careful Feeding our Dogs than our Kids?

In the last few weeks I've been seeing a shocking number of pricey meals for dogs (and sometimes cats): organic, all natural, refrigerated or prepackaged fares are filling the shelves.  'Balanced' and 'wholesome' are the buzz words of this growing trend.

I'm not talking about a rare treat, a little wet food mixed with the dry, or any other vet-recommended diet.  So, let me first say that I love animals and I think they should be well fed, with food that is good for them and keeps them happy and healthy.  Second, let me say, give me a break!

March 5, 2010

Use Travel to Connect, Not Ignore

WebMD has an article with some advice on travelling with kids.  Most of it is pretty standard advice: bring new toys and books for long car trips; if you're flying, have your child drink something during take-off and landing to equalize ear pressure; and stay relaxed and keep your expectations on par with you children's ages and abilities.

All good advice.  The only thing in the article I really object to is the idea of giving your kid Benadryl on a long flight to 'help them sleep.'  Let's call a spade a spade here, folks: that is drugging your child.  Not right.  I have to say, that's also pretty disturbing advice to be written by a medical doctor.

Anyway, my suggestion to families this year for spring break: leave the technology at home.

March 4, 2010

Teachers Suggest How to Improve Education

This survey, commissioned by  Scholastic Inc and the Gates Foundation, asked teachers a number of questions about the current state of American education and how it can be improved.  The survey showed that, in terms of retaining good teachers, supportive leadership (68%), time to collaborate (54%) and high-quality curriculum (49%) all out-rank higher pay (45%).

The teachers' suggestions to directly improve student performance include: "clear, common standards; multiple measures of student performance; and greater innovation, including differentiated instruction and more use of digital resources."  I certainly agree with all of these things.  But I've got one to add.  

Child Directs Planes at JFK

We'd all like our kids to show an interest in what we do for a living, right?  After all, if you work outside the home, your job takes up a large portion of your time, energy and focus.  Whether your motivation is to show your child why you love or hate your job, how hard you work, or simply to make it clear how you spend your day, taking your child to work can be a great experience for all.

But letting your child do your job?  Maybe not such a good idea.

February 27, 2010

Fun in a Tough Economy

Last night as we watched TV and the third commercial in a row said, "In these hard times," or "In this economy," my husband looked at me and said, "I'm so tired of hearing about the economy."

I have to agree.  I'm tired of thinking about it and worrying about it.  I'm tired of people trying to sell me something to give me the illusion of security.  I'm tired of people trying to wring my last pennies out of me, or trying to tell me where I should spend them.  I'm tired of seeing how it has affected many people that I know and love.

But at least I understand what's going on.  It makes sense to me, and I can see the broad scope of influence the tough economy has had.  And that isn't necessarily true of kids.

February 26, 2010

Behaviors your Kids Will Imitate

Kids learn by example.  It's a simple fact of life.  When they see you writing thank you notes for gifts, driving defensively, keeping your cool under pressure, or problem solving calmly with your spouse, they learn.  They can see a positive way to deal with the situation in question; and when they see others behaving poorly, they'll think, "I know how to do that better."

Unfortunately, no parent is perfect.  You're not going to do everything just right, all the time, and that means that sometimes your kids are going to see a bad example in your behavior.  What can you do?  First and foremost: talk.  If you've realized you've made a mistake, talk to your kids and let them know that you did something wrong.  This turns a bad example into a good one: your child sees you analyze your own behavior and take steps to fix what's wrong.

Here are some behaviors to watch out for in yourself or your kids.  If your kids have any of these behaviors, ask yourself where they might have learned them.  And if it's you...take responsibility!