Monday, July 30, 2012

The Things Kids Don't Want To Do


Regardless of their age kids don't like to be forced to do things they don't want to do. Parents do and they always win - after all they are older, wiser, stronger, so no surprise here. But the victory usually comes accompanied by tears, screams or quiet disagreement bordering resentment - kids have their own ways to fight back.

The issue is as old as the world itself and generation after generation had had to deal with it, each in their own way. However, life changes and so does parenting. Even during the 20th century the authoritarian parent was a given - children always did what they were told to do and that was that - no questions asked. Nowadays the issue is becoming a dilemma: should kids be made to do the things they don't want to do or not? The opinions vary, but can be grouped in two major categories:

The Parent category. Opinions in this group unite around the notion that parents must make their kids do what they think kids should do. That's part of raising them, disciplining them, teaching them about responsibilities and life.

The Children category.  According to the general opinion prevailing in this group children should be left alone and not forced to do what they don't want to do because by forcing them parents can damage their child's self-confidence and self-esteem.

Before you say anything, here are two popular scenarios to think about:

1.      Kids don't like chores and usually refuse to do them. You come home from work tired but you roll up your sleeves to make dinner. As you putter around the kitchen your daughter is sitting at the table playing with a toy and looking, well, hmmm... bored. You ask her to give you the pot that is at the back of the shelf in the furthest cabinet. She gives you an odd look: “Mom, but you're closer...” actually meaning “Why don't you get it yourself, Mom?” She probably thinks this is a nice funny way to refuse to do what you have just asked her to do because she simply doesn't feel like getting up to take out that pot. You are as mad as you can get:“I need that pot now!” She gets up.

2.     Children don't like to be made to show affection. Your girlfriend comes for a visit with her daughter. Of course they want to see your son right away, but he is in his room and has no intention of coming out. You call him to come and greet the guests, but it's as if he's deaf. You  are embarrassed and frustrated, almost ashamed that he's showing no manners whatsoever, so you go to him and, pulling him by the sleeve, say  with a big, but fake smile: “Come on sweetie, come and give auntie Julie a hug and a kiss and take Susie to your room to show her your newest colouring book.” He looks absolutely miserable, but eventually gets up and approaches the visitors.

What do you think? Where do you stand as a parent?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Myths About Child Intelligence


“My daughter is smarter than my son.”
“My little one is really silly, not like her older brother.”
“My kids are so different - one is really smart and the other one is so... silly most of the time.”

Statements like this are not uncommon, we have all heard them in one form or another. They have gradually become the backbone of a popular theory that elder kids are more intelligent than their younger siblings.

According a new study published recently in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin this is absolutely not the case. The author, Aaron Whichman and his team studied 3,000 families and compared the intelligence of children at age 7-8 and then again at age 13-14. The key component differentiating the families has been the age of the mother at the time she gave birth to her first child. Children from families in which the mothers had given birth to their first child at the same age were equally intelligent no matter how many children were there in the family. At the same time, children of older mothers were generally more intelligent than children of younger mothers. The explanation is that as a rule younger mothers have less time for education, they have more kids, lower standard of living and are more prone to be in adverse life situations. All this apparently contributes to general lower level of intelligence of their offspring.

No connection whatsoever was found between the number of children in a family and their intelligence. Younger children have the same capabilities and are as smart as their firstborn siblings. All children in a family are being born with the same level of intelligence. The most important factors influencing child intelligence and development are family situation and genetic characteristics.

This particular conclusion is related to another popular belief that the bigger the head, the smarter the kid. Catharine Gale and her team from the University of Southampton studied the correlation between the growth of the head during the embryonic period and up to age 8. The results clearly show that there is a correlation between the growth of the head during embryonic stage and early childhood: bigger head guarantees normal functioning of the brain later in life and furthermore, people with bigger heads generally have sharp mind even at old age and do not suffer from Alzheimer's disease. However, the size of the head is not related in any way to the development of the brain.

More myths have been busted.

Friday, July 13, 2012

One Third of Online Teens Share their Phone Number Online

and their parents have no idea! This is from a research study by McAfee and shared by Business Insider. A pretty scary thought!

Luckily with Kytephone, even if the kids post their number online, the strangers will not be able to contact the child as Kytephone will block incoming calls from all unknown numbers.

    

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Children and Dreams


Recently, I read a post from a mother who was wondering should she support her son's dream of becoming “the best swimmer of all times”. She was weighting all pros and cons, questioning mostly the abilities of her child; her post was full of “what ifs” and she was reaching out to others for advice.
I found that very sad. All children dream and they dream big. That's only natural because they are enthusiastic, ambitious and driven like only kids can be; they don't have self-limiting subconscious beliefs; they don't have past experiences and fear of failure. Of course as parents we have to be realistic, but let's not forget: it's an indisputable truth that if you want to be big, you have to dream big. To the dreamer the dream is realistic, to the realist dreams are full of obstacles that can't be overcome. How can a parent not support their child's dream? All the 'ifs', “buts” and “becauses” are simply excuses - excuses of parent's closed mind, fears, insecurities. This mom was questioning her child's abilities, but it seems to me she was questioning her own abilities to believe in her son's dream, in his determination, his enthusiasm. Her hesitation to support her boy was an expression of her fears - will she be able to deal with the pressures and stresses of a busy routine; would she be strong enough to cope with the failure, if it happens. I think that a loving mother should do whatever it takes to overcome all these negative thoughts and feelings and openly and sincerely support her child, no matter what emotional price she has to pay.

Maybe a child's dream should be a wake-up call for parents to start dreaming again. It's never too late to dream, to believe unconditionally in yourself, to become brave enough to start working on it. Do you remember how great it feels to have a dream, a goal and to just go for it? Don't stop your child from dreaming and setting up goals, don't teach them how to question themselves. Do not turn them in close-minded, insecure people. Support them and learn from them. It is not easy, but it is worth it - your child will grow up to be a strong and confident person, you will be happy to have made it possible. And if you still can - start dreaming again!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Do You Know What Your Child is Doing Online?

Have you ever wondered what your kids are doing online? If you've asked them, are you concerned that they are not telling the truth? If you have ever wondered about this, you should read Lisa Belkin's great article on this topic where she references a study by McAfee, the computer security folks.


The study mentions the different ways that kids can fool parents:

  • 53% of kids clear the browser history
  • 23% lie or hide the details of their online activities when asked
  • 21% use internet through the smartphone
The article goes on to mention the discrepancy between what parents think about their kid's activities and what their kid's actually do. For example, while 10% of parents think their kids have been victims of cyberbullies, more than double, 23%, say they actually have been victims. A further 25% admit to participating in bullying. Kytephone aims to reduce that discrepancy, so parents are aware of what their child is doing online.

The positive news is that 50% of the kids said they would change their online behaviour if they knew their parents were watching. 

Unfortunately, many parents said they don't monitor their child's activities because they are either overwhelmed by technology or they don't have the time or energy to keep up with their kids.

Luckily for these parents, we built Kytephone. Kytephone makes it super easy for parents to monitor their kid's online activity on the smartphone.  While kids should have freedom, parents should always have a watchful eye to prevent trouble. 

What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Punishment vs. Discipline


Yesterday I took my grandson to the park. It was a nice summer day and the playground was buzzing with noise like a bee hive. My little boy was hopping, screaming, running and doing all those funny and cute things a 5-year old bursting with energy does. Jump, but not the highest or the farthest  - look - ask for approval or praise... run, but lag behind - look - ask for support.... scream, but not the loudest - look - ask for confirmation was that still OK...Some moms were watching carefully and attentively, really getting involved in their kids' entertainment';others were overprotective, to the point that the kids could not enjoy the games; yet others were too preoccupied with themselves and would only pay attention if the kid needed to be scolded. What diverse and interesting interactions indeed One thing was common though -  no matter what the kids were doing  they were trying to get their parents' attention. And oddly enough the naughty ones got the most attention.

Made me think: so, in kids' mind it is probably like this: 'The naughtier I get, the more attention I'll receive”. However, the naughtier the kid, the angrier the parents..and punishment is hanging in the air.  Perhaps then it's better if parents pay more attention to the good deeds, not the naughty ones. I am not saying we should let kids get away with everything or be ignorant to what they are doing. No, kids should be disciplined. Period. But disciplining does not mean punishing, it actually is a balance between the parents taking responsibility and control over their own anger and setting boundaries for the child's behaviour. Manage your anger and try working on the good in your kid. All kids are naughty at times, but this is the act, not the kid. Kids not only need and crave their parents' attention, they also want to please their parents. They love more than anything to have a loving and - almost unconsciously - respectful relationship with their parents. Once you achieve this, even for a few days, your child will love it and will want to keep it that way.  A disciplined, respectful and open to learning and suggestions kid need not be punished, because in time they will know how to listen to you and the guidance you provide, they will understand you. Can you ask for a better relationship?

I managed to give quite a few smiles of approval to my grandson and he was beaming every time our eyes locked. On the way home we shared a good laugh. It was such a rewarding day!
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