Friday, November 27, 2015

Science says this is how you should discipline your children

Every household has a different approach on discipline, as most parents have to learn their child's personality before they can determine a policy that is effective. For us, we recognize that our son likes to talk, so we give him timeouts during which he is not allowed to talk. It may feel unfair to him, but it gets his attention and gives us a break from any unacceptable behavior.

On minor infractions, however, I've always played by the rule of "pick your battles." Letting little things go since he behaves well in the long run has worked well for me.

Recently, science has dissected children's personality types into separate categories and revealed the best way to discipline each. The odd part is that the number one recommendation is the same for all child types: Compromises are key. Whether your child is easy-going or difficult to manage, science says that you should teach them the art of compromise - sometimes they will get what they want, sometimes they won't but they will learn the way the world works.

Interesting approach.

What do you compromise with your children over? Tell me in the comments.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Just say No to homework

Imagine this: School is over. Your children go to their after-school sports activity or music lesson and finally comes home. They have time to play outside and get some fresh air and sunshine. At the dinner table, everyone has time to talk about their day before retiring for their separate activities for the evening. Your children go to bed on time.

And there is no homework.

Homework has become a staple of nightly battles in families for decades. And yet, some schools are ditching homework altogether. The reasons for abandoning homework are simple: Our children are overworked. When we read studies on adults needing a break and free time to relax and tap into our own sense of creativity, we forget that the same good advice applies to children. But we can't give them that free downtime if they are busy with algebraic worksheets until well past their bedtimes.

Is homework necessary? Maybe. But probably not in the quantities that are currently given. It may be time to scale things back and focus on the areas they need help with the most.

Would your children excel or flounder if they didn't have homework? Tell me in the comments. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

How are babies made?

We were eating dinner in a Chinese restaurant when my son asked me how babies were made. I swallowed my mouthful of sweet-and-sour chicken and answered him with an age-appropriate summary of how sperm and an egg join together and then grown inside a woman's womb to make a baby.

"Oh, OK." he said.

"Do you have any other questions?" I asked him.

"No," he said. And then he moved onto another topic of conversation.

Talking with your children about sex is never easy, but it is necessary. And if you start early, it makes life a little easier when your child is a teenager. A new study out of North Carolina indicates that teenagers (especially girls) are listening to their parents when it comes to discussion around sex. But the key is that parents have to start the conversation.

In addition to talking early and often, one of the other key tips for parents is that they should focus more on being a resource for their children and less of an interrogator. So, instead of asking your teen if they are having sex, ask them if they have access to birth control if they need it.

One big tip is to not share stories from your own sex life, because NO child wants to think about their parents having sex. Ever.

What sex education tips have you learned when talking with your children? Tell me in the comments.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Teens spend more time on media than sleeping

I work nine hours a day. From around 8:30 until 5:30 (if I am paying attention to the alert that tells me to leave), I am answering emails, rescheduling projects, attending meetings, straightening out issues over the phone and reading more emails through lunch. Nine hours.

And that is the same amount of time the average teen is spending on media. Nine hours seems like a really long time (and it is longer than most teens sleep at night), so it is important to note that the "media" label on that link includes online videos and music, so there could be some overlap as a teenager consumes more than one form of online services at a time. But that is still a lofty number.

I have often thought about my son's future media use. About the conversations I will have with him around his device use (that it will have a bedtime) and the agreements that he will limit the amount of time he spends on screens so that he remembers to go outside and play. I've even had that internal discussion with myself about using services and apps to monitor his device use and the messages he is sending to insure he is using them responsibly.

But I know that I can't keep up with nine hours of monitoring.

It's inevitable that there will be times when I don't know what he is doing online, and I am prepared to accept that. My fear, however, remains.

How do you keep track of your child's online activities when you can barely keep track on your own? Tell me in the comments.