Category Archives: Parenting

Encourage Learning This Summer By Having Kids ‘Earn Time’ to Play with e-Carrot

Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to learn about a cool rewards-based technology platform that not only encourages balance in your child’s digital consumption but also gives parents the control to effectively manage how much time their child spends using devices.

eCarrot

Along with a few other mom bloggers, we interacted with the developers of eCarrot, who also happened to be parents and were given a thorough presentation of the app.

As the parent of two boys,  I was excited to hear about eCarrot’s app and how it gives kids a chance to play with smart devices based on correct responses to math questions.  The app also gives parents the control of managing their child’s time without power struggles or hassles.

What’s most impressive about eCarrot is that eaches children how to be better manage their “screen time”. Since the app is geared towards children age 5-12, it helps kids to have an early start on balancing their virtual and real life.  A healthy balance of media creates less stress and challenges in the teen years.  Without learning the skills to manage their time, some kids are at risk of becoming addicted to their smart devices.  Being that kids have more free time over the summer, most kids are spending more hours on their devices.

Since the app works by modifying behavior and rewarding “play time” based on how a child likes to be rewarded. This gives parents the flexibility of using the controls according to their child’s motivating factor rather than a general reward. What this means is that if you have a child who prefers to accumulate their reward, you can set up your account to meet this individual need.

The rewards of using eCarrot is not just for the kids. Parents are given the autonomy to give their kids smart devices without feeling guilty.

eCarrot can be an integral part of summer learning for struggling math students.  According to the National Summer Learning Association: Most students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months. Low-income students also lose more than two months in reading achievement, despite the fact that their middle-class peers make slight gains (Cooper, 1996).

If you’re looking for a tool to help your child use technology responsibly while also helping them learn math, checkout eCarrot! The app is available for FREE on the Android platform on Google Play.

Give yourself peace of mind and give your child a head start in math and digital literacy.

 

 

Disclosure: I received compensation thanks to The Mommy Factor blogger referral . Views expressed are always 100% my own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does it Matter if Your Son is Happy?

“I just want you to be happy”. How many times have we either uttered these words or heard other parents say this to their children? Why are we so consumed with the happiness of our children?

Happiness

I used to say this to my sons until I realized that happiness is rather subjective. I also realized that for children who are loved unconditionally, nurtured and cared for, happiness is just a state of being.  Happiness became a focal point in our lives a couple of years ago during my son’s turbulent middle school years and my husband’s deployment.   I became obsessed with making sure everyone around me was happy. Looking back, I was just consumed by the superficial happiness of my family.   As long as they looked and sounded happy, that’s all that mattered to me.

This continued until the day my dad passed away.  It was what one would call a “happy day”.  The weather was perfect and I was enjoying quality time with my family. Still basking in the glory of all that happiness, when I got home, I received the call that my father had just died.

I was a wreck for a long time. I began to refer to everything as B.D., “Before Death”. I felt that no one around me had the right to be happy.  I wanted others to feel as miserable as I did and when they didn’t, I resented them.  I was a walking contradiction to my sons. On one hand, I was making cliche comments about living life to its fullest and on the other hand I was reprimanded them for simply being happy. Instead of being resilient, I had become rigid.  I couldn’t understand how one can be happy when grieving. The problem was that for so many years, happiness dominated my life. I allowed my life to be dictated by what did or did not make me happy.

I neglected to see the messages I was sending my sons about happiness:

  1. As long as they’re happy, nothing else matters in life.
  2. My happiness and emotional well being is contingent upon their happiness.
  3. Happiness is the most important value in life.
  4. If they’re not happy, then there’s something wrong with them.

I’m a bit more mature about the emotional needs of my sons.I don’t want my sons to live their lives chained to the the quest for happiness.  I don’t want my sons to think they’re entitled to be happy. I want them to understand that life is full of peaks and valleys. I want them to appreciate the good and bad days in life. I want them to be able to regulate their emotions and understand that happiness is a choice.  I want my sons to make their emotional and mental health a priority and recognize when it’s not just the blues or stress. I want my sons not to hide behind a happy face to avoid the stigma of depression.

Instead of focusing on raising happy kids, we should focus on raising compassionate, empathetic and resilient people.  Happiness should not be such a powerful force in their lives that it can change the course of their day because of disappointment, rejection, or failure.

Constantly, telling your son “I just want you to be happy” will not make him happy. Stop trying to give him everything he wants to make him happy. It’s only a temporary fix. The more your try to make him happy, the more he will demand of you to be happy. If you keep it up, he will never appreciate anything or anyone in his life.  Life will be full of frustrations and how your son manages his emotions will determine how he handles life.

 

 

Your Son is Not Broken, Stop Trying to Fix Him

“Mom, I’m not broken.”  That’s what my son told me when he was younger. I was overly concerned with how he was not being social and he wanted to let me know that he didn’t need me to fix him. He needed me to accept him.  As much as you want your son to “be himself”, there are times you don’t accept him.  I know there have been times when I’ve focused on how what’s wrong with my son instead of being grateful for what’s right with him.

Mom, Stop Trying to Fix Me

Your son is not a DIY project or piece of equipment that requires professional servicing. As parents, sometimes our view of our sons are limited and narrow, that we focus on the areas that need improvement instead of looking at the whole child.

Yes, children need discipline and guidance but it shouldn’t be our focal point. We see the minor imperfections and before you know it, we’re embarking on a mission to fix what we think needs to be corrected. We look so closely at his weaknesses, that we neglect his strengths.  Your son is not going to live his life exactly as you wish. He’s going to take risks and make mistakes. Our job as a parent is to pick him up when he falls and lead him in the right direction.

Your son doesn’t need you to point out his limitations, he needs you to guide him to make the right choices in life.  He needs you to see his possibilities. He needs you to encourage him as he faces daily struggles, pressures and criticism from society. He needs your comfort and help. He needs you to have realistic expectations and allow for mistakes. He needs your reassurance that you believe in him and love him unconditionally.

Take some time today to see your son as capable and complete. I’m learning to do the same every day.

Brilliant But Lazy: Helping Your Underachieving Son to Succeed in the 21st Century

Relaxing on the sofa

One of my favorite lines from Spiderman 2 is when Peter Parker’s professor describes him- “He’s brilliant, but lazy. He’s always late to class, or absent entirely. He must stay out all night partying or something, because when he is here, he’s always exhausted, too worn out to take much initiative. He doesn’t do his homework.”

How many of us can relate to that when it comes to our sons? We nag, we threaten and we yell, but nothing seems to phase our sloth-like genius.What’s most frustrating is that we know they are capable of doing the work. It’s one thing if your son is struggling because of lack of knowledge or skill, it’s another when he’s just not motivated to do it. If you want your son to be intrinsically motivated, you have to explore the source of his underachievement.

I’ve watched my son set lofty academic goals and not meet them because he was not disciplined. We tried talking to him about studying habits and managing his time. All these suggestions were ignored.  At what point, do you step back and let your son be accountable for his grades and his future? When dealing with your brilliant but lazy son, ask yourself: Who owns the problem? Is this your son’s problem or your problem? You’re probably thinking, ‘If he fails, it becomes my problem because I’ll be blamed”. Well first, you take your son’s age and mental and emotional development.  If he’s at a stage where he can be accountable for his actions, then it’s time to redefine your role as a parent.  As your son grows, you parenting responsibilities move from directing/managing to collaborating/delegating. We equip our sons with the tools they need to move from the cycle of underachievement to achievement.

Your son needs to be committed to his own personal success. We may want our sons to be intrinsically motivated  but he needs to identify his attitudes and beliefs about himself. Does he see himself as a failure in some areas of his life? Why?  What are his limiting beliefs?  Are his beliefs turning into a self fulfilling prophecy?

One of the mistakes we made with our son was not identifying the underlying reason for his lack of motivation.  We made assumptions, we blamed social media and social change, but we didn’t acknowledge our contribution to the problem.

Here’s what we learned:

1. Create a safe space for your son to share and feel heard.  There may be hidden feelings that he does not feel comfortable sharing with you.

2 . Set guidelines and show him how to balance “work and play time”.  Be consistent with helping him manage his time. This is something we struggle with as adults.  Think about how much time do you spend on social media.

3. Show him how to problem solve. Teach your son to be resourceful.  As he grows, life will become more complicated and challenging. He needs to be able to confront adversity and focus on solutions. Let him see problems as learning opportunities rather than setbacks.

4. Help him to recognize his abilities. He needs to know his own potential. If you are constantly praising him, he may become addicted to praise instead of recognizing his own strengths.

5.  Build his self-awareness.  Self-reflection gives  your son insight into his goals and his plans for the future.

6.  Help your son to see the lessons in failure.  Let him know mistakes are part of life. Be an example of resiliency by showing him how you rebound from your mistakes.

7.  Teach him self management skills. He will need these skills when he is dealing with a frustrating or challenging situation. If he falters under pressure, it will require more effort to get him to get back up.

8.  Be flexible in your approach. Your frustration will not be a catalyst for your his transformation.

9. Don’t project your unfulfilled dreams on your son. Help him to blaze his own trails.

10. Don’t use shame to motivate your son. Shaming just produces feelings of inadequacies and resentment.

Keep in mind, that your son needs your guidance in order to achieve success in life. He also needs you to model the behavior. Therefore, you need to address your own underachievement in order to help your son.

Be sure to check out my free GoalSetting Toolkit for Boys

 

7 Life Lessons for My Sons From ‘Green Eggs and Ham”

My sons and I are big Dr. Seuss fans and have shared many wonderful nights reading treasured favorites such as The Cat in the Hat, Hop on Pop, Oh, the Places You’ll Go, If I Ran the Zoo and Green Eggs and Ham. While our reading pastime has given us quality time together, I hadn’t given thought to some of the life lessons we can learn from these books.  Recently as I read Green Eggs and Ham with my 3 year old, I thought of all the things he could learn from the tenacious and persuasive  Sam-I-Am.

1. Be Proud of Your Name

Right at the beginning, Sam I Am lets us know his full name.  When meeting people in a formal setting, state your full name. Your name is your is your legacy. I taught my teen son 3 simple rules for meeting people: 1. Make eye contact. 2. Give a firm handshake. 3. Always state your full name.

2. Haters are Insignificant

The other guy in Green Eggs and Ham doesn’t even have a name, yet he lets us know right away that he does not like Sam I Am.  We don’t know his name because he is not important. He doesn’t give any explanation as to why he hates Sam I Am. That guy represents people in the world who will hate on your ideas, your creativity, your fearlessness, your tenacity, and anything else they can hate.  Ignore the haters.

3. Stay Focused and Be Patient

Honestly, I probably would have given up on that guy after the 4th attempt, but not Sam-I -Am. He is patient. He so believes in his creation: green eggs and ham that he is willing to wait. He knows eventually he’ll win him over. It’s just a matter of time. Sam-I-Am had one goal: To get that guy to try green eggs and ham. He never deviated from the goal. He stuck to his plan. We tend to get excited about our idea and start to lose focus and excitement when things start getting difficult. Stick to your plan!

4. Be Optimistic

Sam I Am didn’t get discouraged for 60 pages of trying to convince one guy to try green eggs and ham. He never seemed to grow tired of that guy refusing and rebuking him. He never got discouraged or complacent. He remained enthusiastic and positive.

5. Have an Open Mind

The unnamed character assumes he will not like something he’s never even tried. He doesn’t even think about trying something new. There’s something new to experience in life every day, if you’re open to it.

6. Be Inquisitive

Sam I Am wants to know why this unnamed  guy doesn’t want to eat green eggs and ham. He asks questions to find out what would get him to try it. It’s good to be inquisitive in life. Don’t take everything at face value. Find out why, when, how, what, where.

7. Try Different Approaches

It finally pays off for Sam I Am. The unnamed character gives in and tries green eggs and ham. In life, we need to not give up so quickly because of challenges or adversity. You never know when the tide will turn. 

What have you learned from Green Eggs and Ham or other Dr. Seuss books?

 

Mom, Make a Promise to Yourself in 2014

new year new you
Dear Mom,

It’s the first day of 2014, and it’s a good time to jump start on taking care of the most important person in your world: YOU! Yes, your children important too, but how good of a mom can you be when you’re tired, weary, anxious, frustrated, desperate, overwhelmed and angry. How much longer can you go on, letting others take a priority in your life. What good is it to be resentful of others because you don’t ask for help or support.

Isn’t it time you did something for yourself without feeling guilty about it? Let this be the year you are a top priority! Let this be the year where you don’t accept the leftovers life has for you. It is possible to love and care for your family as well as yourself.  Make a promise to yourself in 2014.

Promise Yourself

Promise yourself to be so strong that nothing can
disturb your peace of mind.

To talk health, happiness, and prosperity to
every person you meet.

To make all your friends feel like there is
something in them.

To look at the sunny side of everything and make your
optimism come true.

To think only of the best, to work only for the best,
and expect only the best.

To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others
as you are about your own.

To forget the mistakes of the past and press on the
greater achievements of the future.

To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give
every living person you meet a smile.

To give so much time to the improvement of yourself
that you have no time to criticize others.

To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, and too
strong for fear, and to happy to permit the
presence of trouble.

The Optimist Creed
From The Optimist International

Internet Safety & Cyberbullying for Boys #MomsofBoysChat

Do you know what your son is doing on line?  How about what to do to keep your son safe from internet dangers. According to Consumer Reports, 2011: One million children were harassed, threatened or subjected to other forms of cyberbullying on Facebook during the past year.

Spy Parent.net Sedgrid Lewis of Spy Parent.net is my co-host for #momsofboyschat this Friday at 10pm Est. Sedgrid will be helping us look at risks your son may be taking on-line and how we can minimize potential cyberbullying. We’ll also chat about how to monitor your son’s internet use and talk to him about online safety.

Sedgrid Lewis, Spy ParentJuvenile Justice Expert Sedgrid Lewis created Spy Parent in 2008. Sedgrid has over 15 years of experience in the field and is a national cyber crime expert who specializes in sexting and cyberbullying. He has been quoted in several national publications such as CBS News, Fox News, and MNBC to name a few.

mSpy is offering two participants a 1 month subscription to their powerful mobile monitoring software. Click here to find out more about mSpy.

mSpy gives parents a peace of mind, but is not the ultimate solution or a substitute to proper parenting.

  • Helps to identify the root cause of psychological or behavioral problems (i.e. cyber bullying, substance abuse, depression, etc.).
  • Experts suggest monitoring cyber behavior, mSpy helps to ensure kids aren’t indulging in any aggressive or solicited behavior harmful to themselves or others.  With 70% of teens hiding online behavior from their parents, cyber bullying on the rise and illicit content more accessible than ever, keeping tabs on your kid’s mobile activity is essential.
  • mSpy advocates users and parents sharing with their kids that they are using the software.
  • Child protection is very important and starts in the home and with the parents.  It shouldn’t be viewed as something malicious, but rather an opportunity to educate yourself as parent and make your child aware of the harm.  It’s a preventative tool, many parents have been able to us mSpy as a means to teach responsible cyber behavior.

Breaking the Cycle of Teen Sexual Violence

How do we address the problem of teen dating and sexual violence?  A conversation with Gordon Braxton, Suzanne Casemento and Quentin Walcott about gender based violence and how to speak our sons and daughters about healthy relationships, dating and sexual violence. We’ll also address bystanders syndrome and how to empower them to speak up.

How to Set Limits on Your Son’s Video Gaming with Dr. Douglas Gentile

 

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Dr. Douglas Gentile, my guest for the teleseminar, shared insight on how parents can set limits, the connection between violent video games, aggression and bullying.

Dr. Douglas Gentile is an award-winning research scientist, educator, author, and associate professor of developmental psychology at Iowa State University.  His experience includes over 25 years conducting research with children and adults. He is the editor of the book Media Violence and Children (2003, Praeger Press), and co-author of the book Violent Video Game Effects on Children and Adolescents: Theory, Research, and Public Policy (2007, Oxford University Press).

He has authored scores of peer-reviewed scientific journal articles, including studies on the positive and negative effects of video games on children in several countries, the validity of the American media ratings, how screen time contributes to youth obesity, and what is being called video game and Internet “addiction.”  In 2010, he was honored with the Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Media Psychology Award from the American Psychological Association (Division 46).  He was named one of the Top 300 Professors in the United States by the Princeton Review.

 

 

Understanding Your Son’s World with Author Rosalind Wiseman

I had the pleasure of interviewing author, Rosalind Wiseman with Joanna Schroeder, Executive Editor of The Good Men Project. Rosalind Wiseman’s new book, Masterminds and Wingmen: Helping Your Son Cope with School Yard Power, Locker Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Realities of Guy World, shows what’s really happening in boys’ lives.

Ms. Wiseman shared key points about communicating with your son, understanding the social roles of boys as well as what boys need from parents to get through the daily challenge living up to the “Act Like a Man” box.