Monday, December 20, 2010

Understanding Why Your Child May Be Impatient

Have you ever asked your child to wait? Especially for something exciting, like their birthday, a visit from friends or family, or an activity. What is their usual reaction when you ask them to wait? Probably negatively.  Have you ever wondered why this may be?

The best thing to do is to try and consider what it is like being in your child’s shoes.  This way you will have an idea about what your child is feeling and thinking. So that you can answer the question “what does your child think when you tell them to wait?”

Let’s do some math, so that we can try and figure out what your child is going through when you ask them to wait. Let’s assume you are 30, and your child is two.

If your child is two, they are (for simplicities sake) 730 days old. Or even 17520 hours old. What does it mean to them when you ask them to wait until tonight, or tomorrow, or next week.

Asking them to wait 2 hours is 0.00011 of their life.

Asking them to wait 12 hours is 0.00068 of their life.

Asking them to wait 1 day is 0.00137 of their life.

Asking them to wait 1 week is 0.00959 of their life.

That doesn’t seem like a lot, none are even a full 1% of their life.  But your child is two, and they are perceiving this world through their two year old eyes, and their two year old life.

So lets understand what your child interprets those wait times into some sort of meaning by putting you, the parent, it their shoes.

Again, lets assume you are 30 years old, or 10950 days old.

So when you ask them to wait 2 hours, it is like asking you to wait 1 day.

When you ask your child to wait 12 hours, it is like asking you to wait 7.5 days.

When you ask your child to wait one day, it is like you waiting 15 days.

Lastly, when you ask your child to wait a week, it is like you waiting 105 days, about 15 weeks, or 3.5 months.

Are you patient when you are told to wait 1 day, 7 days, 15 days, or 105 days? Especially when it is something you are looking forward to. Probably not, because those are long waiting periods for us as adults! 

When we see the world through our eyes and ask our child to wait 12 hours, it is a short time period for us, but not for them. Remember 2 hours of waiting for them is 1 day of waiting for us, 12 hours is 7.5 days, 1 day is 15 days, and 1 week is 3.5 months.

Hopefully now you will have a little understanding of why your child may be so impatient and frustrated when you ask them to wait for something important to them, it is a long time in their little life.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Parents, Ask Your Kids For A Wish List

It’s that time of year again! Santa is making a list, and checking it twice! But how about you parents, do you have a Christmas list? Do you know what your children want for Christmas?  You might be able to save yourself some time and money by asking your children what they want.

I know Toys R Us puts out a top 100 toys of the year list.  This list is no where near accurate.  It is more of a list telling you what Toys R Us wants to be the top selling’s gifts for your kids for the holiday season.  However, if you survey kids and ask them what they want for Christmas and you get a totally different list. iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad rank the top of a recent survey compared to Bananagrams on some toy stores hot-list items. 

However, instead of taking hints from companies what your children want for Christmas, why don’t you ask them?

Grab the Sears catalogue, or some other sort of flyer that comes in the mail, and ask your children to circle what they want for Christmas.  Use colour coding if you have more than one child circling in the flyer.  You may be surprised to know what they want or don’t want for Christmas.  Your child is a unique individual who may not fit the “want” standards put out by a toy company, that’s why you need to ask them.

Another option, depending on the age of your child, is to have them make a list of what they want.  I realize this may take the “surprise” out of Christmas.  At least they will know they are getting something they want, and the surprise will be which items off of the list they will be getting.

If you have infants and toddlers who can’t express what they want for Christmas, maybe consider what you are buying them for Christmas.  Chances are they probably won’t remember what you get them; so don’t be over elaborate in what you buy them.  Maybe consider wrapping up diapers, wipes, bibs, or other infant needs as presents for your infant.  Your toddler probably has expressed interest in a theme, like Dora the Explorer or Toy Story; if that is the case, get them something related to that theme.

By asking your children what they want for Christmas, you prevent getting them something that has a one-day novelty and then is placed on the shelf or in the closet for the rest of their childhood.  So go ahead, and get a list from them.

How have you, or will you find out what your children want for Christmas?

Picture from FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sexual Abuse: Myths & Warning Signs

I am going to address a topic that often doesn’t want to be discussed amongst parents.  That topic is sexual abuse.  I don’t want to flower over the seriousness of this, nor do I want parents to live in fear. I will walk the tight rope of balancing those feelings.

To start I am going to talk about four myths that are prevalent, followed by recommendations and warning signs.

The first myth that I want to dispel is that only girls are sexually abused.  Boys too are sexually abused.  As evidence I recommend reading the Sheldon Kennedy story, or the Theoren Fleury story (or watch the documentary here).

The second myth that is commonplace is that the perpetrators are strangers.  You know, that creepy guy peeking over the newspaper looking at you in the park. While this does happen, and receives a lot of media attention, this is not true. About 75% of the time victims know their abuser (such as the Elizabeth Smart case, and my two other examples).

The third myth is that sexual assaults can be prevented.  While safety protections can be put in place, sexual abuse predators cannot be stopped.  Perpetrators are efficient in luring in their victims.  I once heard of a father who told his daughter to fight to the death instead of being sexually abused.  Imagine the regret that daughter will feel if she is actually sexually abused. So please, know that sexual assaults can’t be stopped.

The fourth myth is that the victim asked for it, and that it is the victim’s fault.  While this ties in closely with the third point, it is different.  Our society seems to place the onus for the abuse on the victim, and that everything is their fault. By the way they were dressed, by things they said or didn’t say. No one ever wants to be sexually abused. It is not the victim’s fault.  It is the perpetrators, always.

As a parent, you need to establish an open relationship with your child, so that if abuse ever happens they can talk to you.  A perpetrator will do their best to make the abuse a secret; this usually involves making threats to the child’s safety, or to someone or something they love.  This is why you need to be close to your child, so that they can be open with you.  When I worked with parents of sexually abused kids, I would encourage the parents to use the word “surprised” instead of “secret”.  For example instead of telling your children you got a present for grandma and want them to keep it a secret, tell them that it is a surprise.  This will help decipher bad secrets from good surprises.

You also need to educate your child (age appropriately) about sexual abuse.  The most comfortable way I have found working with parents, is to use a “strike zone” like in baseball, instead of trying to describe body parts (which would be reserved for an older age).  A strike zone is from your knees to your shoulders, and no one should touch you in your strike zone, over or under clothing.  Do let your child know of exceptions, like doctors, nurses, bath times, and so on.

Here are some of the warning signs that sexual abuse may be happening.  Now please note these are just common indicators, just because their may be signs showing through doesn’t mean sexual abuse is happening.  In the same way, sexual abuse may be happening without any of the warning signs.

Physical Signs
  • Difficulty sitting or walking
  • Torn, stained, or bloody underwear
  • Genital/anal itching, pain, swelling, or burning
  • Genital/anal bruises or bleeding
  • Frequent urinary tract or yeast infections
  • Pain while urinating
  • Sexual Transmitted Disease
  • Pregnancy
  • Chronic unexplained sore throats
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss/gain
  • Frequent stomach aches
  • Frequent headaches

Behavioral Signs
  • Frequently tired
  • Bedwetting
  • Nightmares
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Low self-esteem
  • Guilt
  • Avoidance of people
  • Sexual advances or inappropriate touching
  • Sexual drawings

If you suspect sexual abuse, seek help immediately, do not wait.

Some extra articles I recommend are:

Sunday, October 31, 2010

What to do with all that candy

Hallowe’en has officially come and gone.  You have taken the effort to get your children all dressed up to go and get candy (whether on Saturday or Sunday night).  Now you have a collection of candies, too much to consume at any sitting, or during any one week.  So what should you do?

Here are a couple of ideas of what to do with all that candy!

First, you should start filtering through the candy for anything that may not be suitable for your child.  Allergies are super sensitive in your child, so if they have a nut, milk, or some other kind of allergy, take them out before your child tries to eat one.  I realize you probably have done this already, but just take extra precautions since a lot of candies are small and could be over looked.

Second, you should start rationing the candy.  Set a reasonable, age appropriate, ration on the candy.  For example, two treats for lunch, two after school, and two after supper.

Third, award treats for good behaviour.  If your child wants more treats, ask them to do chores around the house.  For each chore they do, give them an extra candy.  If they finish their homework extra early, reward them.

Fourth, use the candies for bargaining.  If your child wants to watch extra TV, video games, or play time, have one candy after supper instead of two.

Fifth, maybe have a couple candies to yourself to help ease the sugar-rush-burden on your child.

Happy candy eating’s!

What are some things you are doing to ration your child’s candy intake?

Monday, October 18, 2010

What are you surrounding yourself with?

There was a study that was released during the summer that showed that if someone in your social network divorced, your chances of divorcing increased.  You probably noticed that when you got married, it seemed like everyone else was as well.  We tend to cluster together with those who are similar or are doing similar things as us.

It’s almost human nature.  We see this happen in grade schools.  The loud kids group together, the active kids group together, the quiet, the shy, the divorced, the boys, the girls, the parentless, and so on.  We group together.  Our social network plays a key role in a lot of our choices.

We need to surround ourselves with other supportive parents.  We need to surround ourselves with other parents who are respectful to their spouses.  We need to be around those who do not belittle, or attempt to tear down our marriage or families.  Why?  We are at a sensitive point in our lives raising children.  It is not an easy job to raise kids.  Kids can be very draining (but also very rewarding); you don’t need anything else consuming your energy.

However, how are we doing internally?  When you are alone, are you implanting thoughts, ideas, or feelings that will interfere with you being a parent?  What are you clicking at on your computer?  What shows and movies are you watching?  What are you listening to?  Do these things help encourage you to be a better husband or father, or are they placing a wedge between you and your family.

You would probably never let your coworkers tell you that you shouldn’t have had kids, or that you are failing as a parent, or take you away from your family for long periods of time.  But we may not have the same guidelines for the TV, movies, video games, music, and computer.  We need to though!  Start establishing them.

Take a dash through your music collection, movie collection, and TV subscription.  Are there some things that need to be removed from your house?  If there is, get it out. Now! Not tomorrow, not in a couple days, do it now.

If you need to make changes to your social network, do that as well.

As you start removing items, and people from your life who drain your energy, you will become a more effective parent and spouse.  You will not feel as pulled down or worn out.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Courageous Parenting

The following are highlights from a talk given by Larry R. Lawrence an ophthalmologist from Fresno, California.  He spoke about being a courageous parent in the world today.

  • In these days, what the world really needs is courageous parenting from mothers and fathers who are not afraid to speak up and take a stand (Emphasis added).
  • Challenges and temptations are coming at teenagers with the speed and power of a freight train.  Strong parents are necessary to fill the responsibility of protecting their children, both physically and spiritually (I would also add, emotional and mental, Emphasis added).
  • If either parent doesn’t feel good about something, then permission should not be granted. If either feels uncomfortable about a movie, TV show, video game, dress, swimsuit or an internet activity, have the courage to support each other and say ‘No’ (Emphasis added).
  • Beware of allowing your children to pair off in romantic relationships prematurely (Please read a previous post series on whether your child is ready to date).
  • As well, beware of allowing your children to spend nights away from home. Too often drug experimenting, trying alcohol, violations of chastity, exposure to pornography, and encounters with police occur while spending a night away from home (Please read a previous post about sleepovers).
  • There is a great deal of wisdom displayed when parents stay up and wait for their children to return home.  Young men and women make far better choices when they know their parents are waiting up to hear about their evenings and to kiss them goodnight.
  • Peer pressure becomes more powerful when our children are away from our influence
  • There are five ways families can fortify themselves: family prayer, family scripture study, a weekly family activity (family home evening), family dinner, and one-to-one interviews with children.

You can watch, read, or listen to the talk.

What are you doing to become a Courageous Parent?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Career Choice can Impact Family Life

There was a study done recently in the Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology.  This study looked at various occupations and divorce rates. It has heated up the debate over how career choices can impact our personal lives.

The top ten occupations where divorces are common are:
  1. Dancers and Choreographers (43.1%)
  2. Bartenders (38.4)
  3. Massage Therapists (38.2)
  4. Fish and Game Wardens (25.5)
  5. Law Enforcement Officers (14.5)
  6. Detectives (12.5)
  7. Casino Workers
  8. Telephone Operators
  9. Nurses
  10. Home Health Aides

Among the top ten occupations where divorce is the lowest are:
  1. Agricultural Engineers
  2. Sales Engineers
  3. Nuclear Engineers
  4. Optometrists (4%)
  5. Clergy (5.6)
  6. Podiatrists (6.8)

Now, let’s not get freaked out here husbands and fathers. These numbers don’t paint a complete picture.  Remember this is a correlation, not causation. Sometimes professions and occupations have a certain lifestyle attached to them, and if that is avoided, than so too could a divorce be avoided.

If there is one thing I have learned as a Counsellor, is that I don’t see many individuals in my office who are happy and having fun in their intimate relationships.  It’s usually the ones who have fallen out of love.  One way to stay in love is to continuously date your wife.  Have fun with her.  Keep that flame burning.

Also, as you are making your career choices, you should investigate some things.  Like traveling, are you going to be away from home, how does your spouse feel about that?  Also consider hours, will you be working nights, weekends, or a compressed workweek.  You should also consider the stress of your job, and will that spillover to your home life.  How do you plan on handling work stress?

As I had noted in a previous post, you are a husband first, next you are a father, and than you are job position, church position, volunteer position and so on.  I recommend reading this earlier post by another author of things to consider as you work.

Do you think career choice impacts family life? How so?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Food Safety Quiz

A kitchen is a great place to have fun and make stuff with your kids.  It is also a great place to create bacteria breeding grounds.  So lets test your knowledge on food safety to see if you are keeping your family safe in the kitchen.

  1. The best way to avoid food poisoning is to
    1. Use bacterial soaps
    2. Buy only organic food
    3. Wash your hands with plain soap and water before and after handling food
    4. Eat only at home, not at restaurants.
  2. Cooked foods should be refrigerated within
    1. 30 minutes
    2. 2 hours
    3. 3 hours
    4. 4 hours
  3. Which are potential sources of foodborne illness?
    1. Raw eggs, poultry, beef, seafood
    2. Unwashed produce
    3. Raw sprouts
    4. Unpasteurized milk, apple juice and apple cider.
  4. Which cutting board is safer?
    1. Plastic
    2. Wood
  5. If you get sick from eating an egg salad sandwich left out too long, the most likely culprit is the
    1. Bread
    2. Eggs
    3. Mayonnaise
    4. Relish
  6. True or False: Hard cheese with some surface mold does not need to be tossed.
  7. True or False: Raw meats can be marinated at room temperature, because the marinade kills bacteria
  8. True or False: It's safe to refreeze thawed or partially thawed foods.
  9. True or False: Packaged salad greens labeled "prewashed" or "triple washed" don't need further washing.
  10. True or False: The "sniff" test is a reliable way to tell if food is tainted with bacteria.

  1. (3) Frequent and thorough handwashing is the No. 1 infection fighter. Plain soap will do - antibacterial products are not more effective and may contribute to drug-resistant bacteria. More people get food poisoning at home; restaurant meals are just reported more.
  2. (2) 2 hours. If the weather is hot, reduce it to one hour. Remember to count the time it takes you to eat.
  3. (All) It's not just animal foods that can harbor microbes. Besides cooking meat to proper temperature and eggs until not runny, wash all produce (including organic, which is also susceptible to microbes) with plain water.
  4. Either is fine, as long as you scrub it with soap and water after cutting raw meat, poultry or fish on it. One advantage of plastic is that you can put it in the dishwasher. You may want to have different boards for raw meats and produce. Replace boards that have deep grooves or cracks.
  5. (2) Bacteria thrive on high-protein foods such as eggs, tuna and chicken - not in store-bought mayo. Homemade mayonnaise, made from raw eggs (and no preservatives), however, can cause salmonella poisoning.
  6. True. Just cut off at least an inch beyond the mold. The same goes for hard fruits and vegetables, such as apples and potatoes. Soft fruits and cheeses with mold, however, should be discarded.
  7. False. Marinate all meat, poultry and seafood in the refrigerator. Do not add leftover marinade to the cooked meat unless you boil it first. Transfer the cooked meat to a clean platter, not back to the dish that held the raw meat.
  8. True, as long as the food still has ice crystals or is below 4°C (40°F). Refreezing may, however, affect the food's flavour and texture.
  9. True. Greens and other vegetables washed at the processing plant and labeled as such are probably cleaner than home-washed greens can ever be (but you pay extra for the convenience). Other greens, not labeled as having been washed should be thoroughly washed.
  10. False. You usually can't smell or taste the microbes that cause food poisoning. Still, if food does smell bad, throw it out.
So How Did You Do? 

Here are two clips of a colleague of mine who spoke on "Keeping the Kitchen Clean & Safe"

Part One

Part Two

What are some ways you keep your kitchen safe for your kids?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Keeping Your Children Safe From Pornography

Picture from FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

Pornography Warning Label: “Contents highly addictive. Extremely corrosive to the soul materials enclosed. Be prepared to have your mind twisted, your views of life ravaged, and your spirit shrunk… Be prepared that after an initial rush, you will experience feelings of depression, loneliness, despair and guilt. However, with repeated exposures over time, you can numb those feelings – and enter into almost total amnesia about who you really are and about the truth it self.” – Wendy Watson.
Pornography is the second most searched topic on the internet, with about 68 Million searches per day. One in every five men view it at least every other day, and one in two view it weekly.   This helps the industry earn $100 Billion every year.

Chances are your son (more likely than your daughter) has been exposed to pornography, or will be exposed to it.  By the time of college, nine out of ten males have viewed pornography.

Now, your child will not start off viewing hard-core pornography.  “Gateway pornography” is usually what leads individuals into viewing pornography.  Gateway pornography is images, or movies that are not technically classified as pornography, but can lead to pornography.  Such as swimsuit calendars, sports magazines, and some music videos and films.  Usually this is how a pornography habit starts.

The following are some ways to help prevent pornography from entering your house so that you can keep your family safe.

First discuss, as a parent what sex is with your children.  Make this conversation apply to their age.  Let them know what pornography is as well.  This is something you can do on a yearly basis as their maturity grows.

Second is to discuss with your children what to do in cases of accidental viewing.  Something pornographic pops up on the computer screen, what do you do? Turn off the monitor and get mom or dad.  What do you do if you are watching an inappropriate show? Change the channel. And so on.  Of course, each house will have their own house rules.  It is your house; you do what you need to do.

Third is to be an open channel to your children.  Make sure that you are a safe person to talk to, so that they can talk to you about anything.  One of the ways to do this is to interview your children on a regular basis to see how they are doing and what they may need help with.  This is also a great time to see if they have been exposed to pornography.

Fourth is to filter out inappropriate material that may be in your home. Do a skim through your movies, music, video games, and magazine subscriptions to see if there may be anything pornographic, or even gateway pornography.  Anything that is questionable, throw it out.  Get rid of it immediately.  Also, before you buy a movie, check it out through something like or  They review the movie in great detail for you.  Sometimes by doing this filtering process, it may surprise you how much gateway porn has entered your home because you may have become desensitized.

Fifth is to protect the computer.  Set up parental controls to block inappropriate sites.  Unfortunately not all sites are blocked.  So it would be good to have a way to follow up on what your children are viewing on the computer.  Make sure you have access to your children’s computers and emails, even if they are password protected.  Don’t leave an Internet connected computer in a child’s room.   Put the computer in a frequented place in the house where people can see what one is doing.  It may also be good to not allow access to computer without a parent home, and at nighttime. Take the modem to bed with you.  This will make sure none of your kids are on the Internet alone.

These are just a couple of strategies that you can use to protect your house and children from pornography, and for preventing it from ever entering your house.  Be creative in what you do, but most of all, make sure your family is safe.

What are some things you do to keep your family safe from pornography?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Remember You Are a Husband First

It is often fairly common in marriages that the children become the focal point of the relationship, and that the children are what hold the marriage together.

While it is important to spend time with your children, and invest in them, you need to spend time with your wife as well.  You wouldn’t be the father you are, if you didn’t have your wife.

It is always a shame when men, when asked who they are, respond with a career position, followed by a church or volunteer position, than dad, and lastly (and sometimes not mentioned) husband.  You are a husband, first and foremost.  You need to love, care for, and nurture your relationship with your wife, the mother of your children. Again, you would not be a lot things in this world without the support of your wife.

There are several things that you can do to help you put your wife first:
  • Remember to date your wife.  Have a date night once a week, where it is just you and your wife. No kids.
  • Spend time together daily.  Watch a TV show together, read a book, play a game, shop together. Just do something to be together daily.
  • Pray together.  Studies have shown that couples that pray together, stay together.
  • Give a token that says, “I love you”.  While at school or work, send your wife a text message saying, “I love you”. Leave a note at home.  Do something that will let her know that you love her.
  • Consider showering when you get home.  We all shower for when we have to leave to work.  Have you ever thought of the impression you’d give your spouse if showered for her when you got home work, to get rid of that work smell? Try it.

Remember you are a husband first, a dad second.  Everything else helps you fulfill your role as husband and father.  Make sure you let your wife know that she is first in your life.

What are some other ways that you can show your spouse that they are number one?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Tips to get your Child Ready for Kindergarten

The transition to kindergarten can be quite an adjustment for children and parents.  Your little angel is now going to school.  Here are some steps, taken from, to consider to prepare yourself for kindergarten.
  • A month before, or as soon as possible if less than, start establishing a routine to prepare for the transition.  Get up earlier, eat a packed lunch, and anything else that you feel will help prepare your child for kindergarten.
  • Read some books about going to kindergarten.
  • Ask if you can bring your child in to get familiar with the room.
  • Meet the teacher and principal of the school.
  • Make sure that your child has the appropriate immunizations.
  • Teach your child to say “please” and “thank you”
  • Plan now not to drag out “good bye” on the first day of classes.

These are just a couple of recommendations.  You can go to for more information.  Or even implement plans, and activities that will help you and your child prepare for the transition to Kindergarten.

Photo from: FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

What are some things you have, or will be doing to prepare your child for Kindergarten?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Moving with Toddlers

Photo from FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

As you and your spouse found out by having a child, life changes.  Sometimes, life will change again so that you can provide for your family.  This may require a move.  Also, you may need to move if you are finding your place too small for your growing family.

Moving can be hard on a toddler, even though they may not show it, because they are so resilient! Nonetheless, here are some suggestions for you to consider while moving.

  • Involve the toddler in packing and unpacking their bedroom to help them understand where their stuff is going.
  • On the big moving day (or days), have your child stay with a friend or family member so that they don’t get hurt or overwhelmed by all the changes.
  • Keep enough supplies and toys unpacked so that you can still meet your child’s needs during the transition.
  • Unpack enough of your child’s room so that they will feel comfortable.
  • Be prepared for night terrors or nightmares.  Even though your child may show few symptoms of stress while awake, they may come out while sleeping.
  • Have a clear path from your toddlers bedroom to your bedroom.  This way you can get to them in the dark without any pain, and same with your child.
  • If you are making a long distance move, make a trip out of it.  Have fun on the drive, do sight seeing, if possible.
  • If the move is far, consider as a father doing the driving on your own, and having your wife and child(ren) stay behind and fly out when you arrive.  This could minimize the stress on your family as a whole, but costs more.

Of course these are recommendations, and what each family does during a move can and will vary.  These are just some things to trigger thoughts of what you should consider while moving with a toddler.

What are some things you have done while moving your children?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Get Your Kids To Purchase TV Time By Reading

Photo From FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

You are probably noticing that your kids who were in school, are now around a lot more.  They may even be getting on your nerves.  You may even be wishing to do this:

However, there are some other things you can get your kids to do during the summer holidays, one that they may be doing very little of. Reading.

The benefits of reading are endless. Being successful at school to being independent in assignments and tasks.

Reading has been loosing ground to media.  You can watch an entire book in 90-120 minutes, instead of spending 90-120 days reading one.  Video games are much more enticing, and so is the internet.  There are a lot more distractions that are easier to chew up time.  So, as a parent you can encourage your children to read.

If your child wants to watch a two hour movie, and play video games for another two; have them read for four hours.  One hour of reading to one hour of TV time or computer time.  Or 30 minutes of reading for every hour.  Find a system that works best for you and your family.

Another way to motivate them to read so that they can watch TV, is to get them books that they like to read, or that you think they will like to read.  If they have read one part in a series of books and really liked it! Get them the other books.

Doing this may help decrease the amount of time spent in front of the TV and computer, or it may not.  But, if enforced, it will increase the amount of time your child spends reading books.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Music & Your Toddler

Music can play an important role in your toddler’s life. Music can be used as a way to sooth your child before bed. It can also be used to dance to.

However, music that we play for our child is just our music being ‘forced’ onto the child. Some children will learn how to change a song on the iPod or CD player, but it is just from a playlist or CD that we have established. Whileit may be fun to dance to a song that you liked growing up, it is much more beneficial to let the child explore sounds.

The other concern, potentially, with the music that we listen to is the lyrics. Toddlers are in sponge mode, absorbing everything. So they may take in a word or two that you may not want them to know.

But also since they are in sponge mode, you can introduce a musical instrument to them! If you have a piano, or some child’s version of it, let them play with it. Watch how they discover sounds. Even pots and pans can prove to be very interesting.

There are lots of child simplified instruments that can be used by your child if they don’t take to something like the piano.

Playing music is a type of ‘therapy’, like art therapy, that can provide stress reduction. It is also a way for your child to express themselves.

Your child may not be the next Beethoven, but they can still explore and have fun playing an instrument. Plus, who knows, maybe your child will grow up to be a musician.

Picture from

How have you used music in your parenting?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Becoming Your Child’s Emotional Coach

There is one thing that men are usually not good with, emotions. We tend to not want to show, display, or express them in public. But we still feel them.

Our children however, have no problem showing, displaying, or expressing their emotions. As a father, we need to be a part of helping our children learn to recognize, label, and control their emotions.

Julie Hanks, of the Wasatch Family Therapy Center, gives us The 5 Steps To Raising an Emotionally Healthy Child.

  1. Be aware of your child’s emotions. Your child has emotions, which are inside, and they express them externally in their behaviours. You need to recognize, even though your child may be young, that they do have emotions.
  2. Recognize the emotion as an opportunity for teaching. You can empathize and teach your child about the emotion they are feeling. You can acknowledge and accept the emotion, even if it is negative. We can also teach our children how to control and manage their emotions.
  3. Listen, empathize, and validate your child’s emotions. Listen with your eyes, ears, mind, and heart to understand what your child is trying to say from their perspective. With your words you can reflect back what you feel your child is trying to say, and help label the emotions.
  4. Help your child label their emotions in words they understand. Make sure you label what the child IS feeling not what the SHOULD or OUGHT to be feeling. You can describe their behaviour and attach it to an emotion. Something simple like “When you are crying, I can tell that you are sad”.
  5. Help your child come up with ways to manage their emotions. Help your child come up with healthy solutions to help manage and control their emotions. Also to find ways to appropriately express their emotions.

As we become our child’s emotional coach, it will help our child discover and manage their emotions. It will also help us, as fathers, develop a closer relationship with our children.

How has helping your child with their emotions benefited your relationship? Did you parents coach you in your emotions?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Turn Off The TV, and Get Outside!

It is officially Summer Time! However, sometimes it is easier to be inside than outside.

There are a lot more enticements for your children to stay inside. Like the Xbox 360, 500 Channel Digital TV, computer games, Internet, and so on.

Here are some things you can do to help get your children outside.

First, be a barrier to the television. According to, we spend, on average, 1023 hours watching television in a year. Enforce a rule where you can only watch TV and play video games for two hours every day. That’s it. Notice the “and”, that’s two hours for both. Maybe then your children will only watch the shows they really want, and play their favourite video games and, therefore, spend less time in front of the TV.

Second, get them to become active. Go outside and play. Enroll your kids in a sports team. Help them get their friends together and play ball, of any kind. Go bike riding. Just do something active outside. Help them make it a weekly event.

Third, get them to read a book. They now have ample time on their hands. Help them find a book they like, and wanted to read but couldn’t during the school year, from the library. Maybe read the Twilight series and see what the hype is all about. Most of all, help keep those brain cells growing.

Fourth, make sure that you have one night a week to spend with as family. Dad, take the lead and arrange this. Your wife will be grateful. Use any night. Just do something you have never done before as a family. Go to a museum. Go bowling or mini golfing. Maybe make a cake together. Go swimming. Play that board game that you got for Christmas and haven’t played since Boxing Day. Do something weekly with your family.

Most of all, enjoy the summer weather, together. Yes, some will have to work, but it can still be done. Let us get out and be active, turn off that TV, read a book, and play a sport, and maybe, just maybe, you will have discovered something new this summer.

Monday, June 21, 2010

World Cup Soccer Family Activities

It’s World Cup Soccer! It is well under way. I received this email chain letter from my father-in-law the other day. As humorous as it is, it is also a statement of how much this tournament singles the father out from the rest of the family.

However, World Cup Soccer can be used as a family learning and bonding experience. It is a great opportunity to learn about the world we live in.

Here are some things that you can do with your children, besides just watching the game:

  • Name the Country. Flag recognition is usually easy in North America; however, the rest of the world can be difficult. You can make little flag cut outs, and try to match the country name to the flag.
  • Where on the Globe. Go pull out the globe or atlas that is collecting dust. When a game is being played, or about to be played, try to find where they are on the map.
  • Learn to say “Hello”. There are 32 countries playing, not all of them speak English. Using the Internet, you can learn to say “Hello” in the competing countries language.
  • Family History. Go through your family ancestry with your children, and find out which country, or countries are in your roots, that are playing.
  • Make a Craft. Get out the scrap paper, scissors and other stationary items and make a soccer craft. Maybe it is a collage of their favorite team. Maybe they’ll construct their own flag.
  • Soccer Snacks. Work together to make a soccer shaped cake, or cookies shaped as countries.
  • World foods. Have a complete meal as if you were eating in Chile, or South Africa, or South Korea.

The ideas are endless. These are just some ideas to get you started. This will help make World Cup Soccer a Family event, not just a Daddy event.

What are some things you are doing together as a family?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Speak Dad’s Love Language in Father’s Day Gift Giving

Father’s day is coming up this weekend. If you are a last minute shopper, don’t fall for the advertisements.

Father’s day, like most holidays, has become tremendously commercialized. “Get dad Avatar,” the latest adds go. Or get him a new BBQ, the Kindle, or iPad. Those are great gifts, for a birthday, but not for Father’s Day. Father’s Day is a day to celebrate fatherhood and to show appreciation.

As part of appreciating, it would be good to line up the gift with Dad’s love language.

Words of Affirmation. If this is his dominant love language, Dad would appreciate something like a letter from the children. A letter indicating why you love dad and what he has done for you. He may also just love to hear “I love you” from everyone.

Quality Time. Dad would prefer to spend time together with the family. Whether this is an all together activity, or separate time with each individual will vary by dad. This is to be undivided attention. No iPods, books, or other distractions.

Receiving Gifts. This doesn’t mean that Dad wants Avatar as a gift for Father’s Day. It is the thought behind the gift, not the price tag. So if you want to get Dad a movie, get him something he can watch with the kids. But it can also be a creative gift, like crafts from the kids. Again, just to emphasize, this is not as much about what the gift is as it is about the effort, thought and love put into it.

Physical Touch. A hug from all the family members could do wonders for Dad. If you go for a walk, hold hands. Throughout the day, touch Dad on the arm, and look him in the eye and tell him you love him.

Acts of Service. Those little ‘coupons’ with ‘bed made daily for a week’, or ‘one free car wash’ would be right up dad’s alley. Of course, those coupons need to be followed through. Maybe there is a spot in the home that dad just hasn’t organized, do that for him. Something else to do is to not have Dad do anything for the day. You can drive, cook, clean, and so on to give Dad a break.

If you speak Dad’s love language this Father’s Day, he will really feel appreciated and understood.

You can go to Gary Chapman’s website and take the test to determine your love language, and to learn more about love languages.

What are you giving your dad for father’s day??

Monday, June 7, 2010

Are You Ready To Be A Father?

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“How wonderful a thing is a child. How beautiful is a newborn babe. There is no greater miracle than the creation of life” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “What Are People Asking about Us?,” Ensign, Nov. 1998)

So you are going to be a father. Are you ready?

There are some indicators that you should be aware of. First off, let’s dispel the common misconception that marital satisfaction declines heavily after a child. On average a decline does happen, but the decline is usually small. There is also the potential for marital satisfaction to remain the same or increase.

Studies have shown that there are certain indicators that will help a marriage thrive during the transition to parenthood. Belsky and Kelly (1994) called them the six transition domains:

  • Self – the couple’s ability to merge their individual selves into a large ‘Us’
  • Gender Ideology – the meeting of the couples expected and predetermined gender roles
  • Emotionality – whether the couple is vulnerable to stress
  • Expectations – is the baby affecting their marriage in the way the couple expected?
  • Communication – can the couple keep talking like they did before the baby
  • Conflict Management – can the couple handle stress in a healthy way

Belsky and Kelly also said that the feelings of love towards a spouse played a role as well in the transition to parenthood.

The one typical cause of dispute after the arrival of a child is the division of household labor. Usually men will do what they know how to do best, and that is work more paid hours to provide for the family. Women, typically are satisfied when the man meets her expectations. However, if the man is contributing less than desired, she will generally be dissatisfied and may feel that the division is unfair. So, if you and your wife are disputing over who should do the dishes, why don’t you help her out and do the dishes, no matter how hard your day at work was. In reality, you should be willing to talk about your expectations together. Taking the time to talk about such conflicts, understand one another, and adjust your various workloads can work wonders.

Men sometimes feel jealous that they do not form that same kind of “instant-bond” that women get when the baby arrives. Fathers, understand that your wife has been carrying around that baby for nine months, feeling it grow, stretch, and kick against her. She has been getting attached to the baby for those nine months. The moment that baby is born, your pregnancy begins. You now get to hold, carry, touch and nurture your child so that you can start forming that bond.

Most of all, know that you are not alone in your adventure into fatherhood. There are plenty of resources, such as fathering, parenting, or prenatal classes. It can help to sign up for a class to to better prepare yourself. There are also other people who have been where you are who can help you. You just need to ask.

What are some things that you wish you had known before having a baby? What are some things you wish your spouse had known before having a baby?

Monday, May 31, 2010

Is Your Daughter Ready to Date? Part Three

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The previous two times we have talked about the signs of whether your daughter is ready to date. We looked at Emotional Maturity, and whether she was Personally Responsible, Empathetic, and Self-Controlling. If she was, she is ready to date. (Click here to read part one, click here to read part two)

But Dad’s, just cause your daughter is ready to date, doesn’t mean she is prepared. As you may know from your own experience, some people you have gone on dates with probably should not have been dating. Your daughter needs to have a plan if she is to be kept safe while dating. You need to prepare her so that she doesn’t end up in an abusive or manipulative relationship.

How could your angel end up in such a relationship? Well, those who have the potential to be abusive or manipulative are very cunning. They wear a mask, and charm. They seem like such a catch. But once in the net, your daughter could be stuck in a relationship she doesn’t want to be in, but the abusive or manipulative individual will twist your daughter to keep her in a relationship.

So to prevent this Dad, you need to sit down with your daughter and discuss the four steps to the three-dates rule. These four steps will help your daughter, within three dates, determine if the person she is dating is abusive or manipulative.

First Step.

You need to teach your daughter to recognize characteristics of an abusive or manipulative individual. Someone who is abusive or manipulative lacks Emotional Maturity. So they will be lacking personal responsibility, empathy, and self-control. You can go to a previous post to look at characteristics of someone who is Emotionaly Immature. However, I wish to add some other characteristics here.

If the person your daughter is dating does the following, they lack Empathy (Remember we are talking about someone she has just started dating and are in the first three dates):

  • Call/Text after 11pm
  • Asks for money
  • Says she is high maintenance
  • Criticizes her
  • Comments about her body
  • Says “I love you” and “You are perfect for me”

They are lacking Personal Responsibility if they:

  • Seem to good to be true
  • Are the ultimate nice guy who keeps getting dumped
  • Easily get annoyed or offended

They are lacking Self-Control if they:

  • Want to get sexual
  • Keep pressuring, even when the response is no
  • Cling to your daughter
  • Want your daughter to be exclusively dating them
  • Tell her that they won’t be able to handle it if she rejects them

Tell your daughter it is important to listen to her feelings. If she is feeling that she has to please him, feels anxious or inadequate, feels that she needs to be smarter, thinner, or perfect, or feels that something is wrong, she needs to terminate the date immediately! Dates are supposed to be fun!

Second Step.

Tell your daughter that she needs to assert herself while on dates. She needs to share, within reason, what her dislikes and likes are, what her feelings, needs, goals, and wants are. After that, she needs to watch her date’s reaction. Someone who is emotionally immature and abusive or manipulative won’t care about your daughter’s feelings. If that’s the case, this is a relationship that she shouldn’t pursue.

You also need to help your daughter develop dating boundaries, such as meeting in public. If any of her dating boundaries get broken knowingly by her date, this is someone who disrespects your daughter.

Third Step.

Help your daughter find someone she can talk to about the date. This may be you, it may not be. It may be mom, aunt, sister, someone from church, or a friend. After each date she needs to share the details of the date to this person. This friend may see things that your daughter may not be seeing. It is important that it is someone she trusts, so that she will take their advice, whether it is positive or negative. This will help your daughter stay connected to the truth and not to fantasy.

Fourth Step.

Teach her to listen to her gut. She shouldn’t have to convince herself to go out on a date with this person, or that she likes him. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t go on the date! Tell her that if she doesn’t listen to her gut feeling, it will stop talking to her.

The first three dates should be comfortable, fun, and easy. If they aren’t, don’t go or follow up. This will help your daughter be safe while dating, so that she doesn’t get caught up in a harmful relationship.

***Taken from Dating Game Secrets for Marrying a Good Man by Alisa Goodwin Snell.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Is Your Daughter Ready to Date? Part Two

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Last week, we discussed signs that your daughter is not ready to date. If she lacks Emotional Maturity in Self-Control, Empathy, and Personal Responsibility, she is not ready to date. Of course, it is hard to want to spot the negatives in your daughter, but it is something to be aware of. Today, let’s discuss the characteristics of someone who is Emotionally Mature and ready to date. To read the first part, please go here.

Sometimes, as a society, we feel that once our child hits a certain age they are ready to experience certain things in life. Dating is one of those things that we believe can start at a certain age. Sometimes a 16 year old is ready to date, and an 18 year old may not be. Why? Emotional maturity. So let’s look at some of the signs that your daughter may be ready to date.

  • Your daughter would demonstrate that she has empathy by:
  • Trying to see things from another person’s perspective
  • Changing her behavior out of concern for others
  • Forgiving herself and others, in reasonable time
  • Setting boundaries in relationships
  • Listening to others’ feelings and needs
  • Recognizing her emotions
  • Talking about her feelings and issues with those that she is close to and trusts
  • Feeling connected to and loved by others, herself, and God.

Your daughter would show personal responsibility by:

  • Accepting feedback from others about her behavior
  • Admitting she is wrong and taking action to correct it
  • Being realistic about commitments
  • Saying ‘No’, when needed
  • Asking for and accepting help
  • Accepting responsibility for mistakes, but still feeling that she has value
  • Using active language
  • Making plans and commitments, and following through
  • Asking for forgiveness
  • Looking others in the eyes
  • Being honest.

Your daughter would show that she has self-control by:

  • Showing an ongoing effort to have more self-control over problem behaviors
  • Being willing to change behaviors she enjoys but which cause harm or problems to others
  • Continuing to seek help through counseling, books, and people she trusts
  • Continuing her positive efforts, even when others are not supportive
  • Setting goals and achieving them
  • Doing what she says she will do
  • Going to school each day, doing her duty, and obeying the laws
  • Respecting authority figures, laws, rules, etc. (even if she wouldn’t be caught and punished)
  • Accepting the consequences of her choices without acting out or getting angry.

Now, this isn’t to say your daughter needs to be “perfect” to date. She will still have problems, weakness, and issues. The difference in what makes her emotionally mature is the way that she handles these problems.

When your daughter is emotionally mature, she will be ready to date.

Next time we will discuss dating rules that you should set with your daughter so that she will be safe, and not get into an abusive and manipulative relationship.

***Taken from Dating Game Secrets for Marrying a Good Man by Alisa Goodwin Snell.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Is Your Daughter Ready to Date?

No! I am sure that was the answer that went through your head, and will continue running through your head until she turns 35.

Some of us have these societal defined ages in which it is okay to start dating: 14, 16, 18, 21, 25, and 30. There are times when a 16 year old is ready to date, and then there are times when a 21 year old is not ready to be dating. There are certain characteristics that are needed in order to start dating. Emotional maturity is the key indicator for dating preparedness. Emotional maturity can be broken into three categories empathy, self-control, and personal responsibility.

  1. Empathy is the ability to respect and understand someone else’s feelings, rights, and needs. Basically, it is a concern for oneself and for others.
  2. Self-control is the controlling of your behaviors. That is you controlling your emotions instead of your emotions controlling you.
  3. Personal responsibility is owning your own thoughts, behaviors, and actions. Also, it is being accountable for completing a goal or task that you said you would do.

It is these three indicators that help determine if your daughter is ready to date.

First, let’s talk about the signs that she is not ready to date. If she is lacking in any of those three areas, she is not ready date. It may also make her vulnerable to an abusive and manipulative relationship.

So what does it mean to lack empathy, self-control and personal responsibility?

If your daughter lacks empathy, she will show some of these characteristics:

  • Self-centered
  • Easily offended
  • Poor sense for others feelings
  • Won’t forgive self or others for past wrongs
  • Talks as if she knows more than others and is superior
  • Has issues with authority
  • Is emotionally draining

Your daughter has lacks self-control if she shows these behaviors:

  • Drug and alcohol use
  • Promiscuity
  • Anger that gets out of control
  • Suicidal or self-harming behaviors
  • Acts threatening/intimidating when confronted
  • Acts one way at church, another at school, another at home

If your daughter lacks personal responsibility, these are some of the things she will be doing:

  • Rationalizes
  • Justifies
  • Blames others
  • Makes excuses
  • Doesn’t follow through on goals
  • Needs excessive support to get tasks done
  • Talks big
  • Uses passive language instead of active language
  • Doesn’t respect boundaries
  • Assumes a victim position
  • Holds on to the past, obsesses over the future, forgets to deal with the present
  • Expects others to anticipate her feelings and needs; gets mad if they don’t
  • Often late
  • Conveniently forgetful
  • Lies to cover up for her responsibility

So even though your daughter might be turning 16, she might not be ready for dating if she lacking in any of those categories: empathy, self-control, and personal responsibility. However, if she excels in being empathetic, controlling herself, and taking personal responsibility, she is ready to date. Next time, I will talk about the signs that indicate that she is ready to date.

**Taken from Dating Game Secrets for Marrying a Good Man by Alisa Goodwin Snell.