Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Parenting: Teach Gratitude

There are many reasons for teaching gratitude to children:

Grateful children are happier.

Grateful children have more friends.

Grateful children are easy to have around.

Grateful children are blessed - and they know it.

It is easy to assume that we teach gratitude when we give a child something and then teach them to say “thank you.”  I am all about teaching children to say thank you for gifts, to make that call to Grandma, to give a hug, or to send a handwritten thank you note.    

However, such instruction teaches children how to behave gratefully; it does not necessarily accomplish gratitude as a life skill.

The way to teach gratitude is to offer your child an opportunity to give

When we receive things we are temporarily happy, but gifts work like television ads – they can make children feel needy. Children want to feel that gift-getting-joy, again and advertisements show them new gifts that they might “need.”

When children get the opportunity to give, they are activating the empathy centers of the brain. 

For instance, when children give a pair of socks to the People City Mission, they begin to think about how good it feels to put on a new pair of socks. Then they can imagine someone else wearing the socks they are giving. This works to remind them of what they have

Practicing empathy promotes gratitude. 

I love how God designed our brains!

The world gives many messages of what it things our children NEED. With God’s help we can help them to feel gratitude for what they HAVE.

It is good to give thanks to the LORD. Psalm 90:1a

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Children: Faith Talk!

Can babies learn language from toys?  Research tells us, over and over again, NO!

In fact, toys that talk can possibly harm language development because parents talk less when the baby is playing with the noisy toy. Check out this quick NPR clip for an example of how that works.

The best way to for a baby – or an older child – to develop language is to socially interact with other children and adults. 


This is how they learn language, social skills, and faith. 

Talk to your babies, your toddlers and your preschool age children every chance you get.

Don't stop talking when they have learned language. They will learn new vocabulary and concepts from you.

Keep up those discussions going so your teens will be more likely to come to you to discuss life and faith issues.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Tech as a Tool

You may have seen this young lady on the TV show Shark Tank. This is her Kickstarter video

I am posting it here because the clip shows us several great uses for technology and gives us an opportunity to evaluate how technology is used in our families.

Here is what I like:

Technology is used as a tool. This is technology at its best when it is serving a purpose other than entertainment. Too much screen time can lead to problems such as obesity. When we remember that technology is a tool to help us learn, or solve, or design, then it is easier to keep screen time in check.

Technology is used to improve empathy. One of the downsides to spending hours playing violent games is that empathy development takes a hit. Children who play violent games can be less likely to care about other people. This may not be a problem for every child, however, each hour spent with a game is one hour not spent with a friend, sibling or parent.

Technology is used for problem solving. In a school system that values high stakes testing children do not do as much problem solving. They tend to do more problem answering and that  is just not the same. Technology can be used to help a child find a problem to be solved, research possible solutions, and arrive at answers. 

Spend some time talking with your spouse and children about technology use in your home. Keep track of how often the computer, tablet, or phone is used as a tool and how often it is used as entertainment.   

What tips and/or solutions work for your family?