Saturday, May 30, 2015

Parenting: Conversation

Conversation is a dying art. Families are busy and surrounded by media. Yet, children need family conversation to develop as human beings and as Christians. Here are the top five reasons for making a point to engage in conversation with your children:

1.      Build relationships: discuss those small events now, so there is a foundation for discussing big events in adolescence.
2.      Build language skills: children learn vocabulary and grammar in conversation. Words first heard around the dinner table will be easily decoded in reading and remembered for a test.
3.      Build social skills: taking turns in conversation, finding interest in another person’s story, hearing stories about parents as a child are all things that build social skills.
4.      Sharing faith: integrating the faith into a story or a question is a great way to share why faith is important to every aspect of our lives.
5.      Sharing morality: asking questions about tough situations promotes good moral development as children reason with adults who share their faith.

Don’t let conversation be a dying art. I recommend establishing a couple of media free zones. The dinner table is a perfect example. Use this time to share, build, and learn about each other.

I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete. (II John 12b, ESV)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Parenting: Rewards

When working with children, rewards can seem to be a miracle tool for increasing good behavior. Just find a valued reward, set it up as a promise, and then watch it work to turn your child into a happy sibling, a willing reader, a joyful chore worker. There does not seem to be a downside.

Except when research shows us otherwise. 

This study, completed in India, used rewards to encourage better school attendance. They found it backfired. When the study was complete, the students either reverted to old habits or showed even less interest in good attendance. This study is not the only one of its type to show these results.

The sad thing is, rewards may work in the short-term, but in the long-term they can do more harm than good. If you are encouraging highly valued behaviors in your children, it is better if you stay away from rewards.

If you want your child to be a reader -- read with him and talk about books he is reading.

If you want your child to enjoy athletics -- play the sport with her. Attend her games and give her encouragement.

If you want your child to get good grades -- show him how to organize his day to give priority to studying. Recognize the good grades when they happen, but focus on the effort put in to earn them. 

If you want your child to develop a habit of faith -- attend church with her on a regular basis. Read scripture together and pray together. 

In the long run, intrinsic motivation, motivation that comes from inside, is not easy, but it is the best. 

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. (Psalm 32:8, ESV)


Friday, May 8, 2015

Children: Play Outside!

Children need to play outside. It is a simple statement and one that is easy to dismiss. Read this article, written by an occupational therapist, to get a better understanding of why this kind of play is so important.

Children need to run, skip, and roll. They need to keep themselves upright on a merry-go-round, slide down a slide, and balance on a see-saw. They need to ride bikes, and play basketball, and go swimming, and climb trees.  All of these activities strengthen parts of the brain that help children to self-regulate their bodies. Playing outside is good for more than burning up energy!

Summer break is starting, soon. Begin making plans, now, for getting your children to play -- outside. It will improve their learning as well as their physical health.