Do You Know That Your Cell Phone Addictions Are Bad for Your Children?

I have heard adults complain a lot about their children being addicted to electronic devices, from cell phones to iPads to laptops and desktop computers.  Children seem to be constantly occupied by playing video games, or texting, or watching videos.  But, what about parents who are addicted to their cell phones?  Studies have found that parents’ cell phone addictions can be detrimental to their children.

There is a very interesting article online at the website for Psychology Today entitled, Turn Off That Smart Phone, Mom and Dad! It is written by Dona Matthews, Ph.D., a developmental psychologist who has also written several books about children and adolescents.  The article refers to five research studies which establish the damage that parents can do by being distracted on their cell phones and not paying attention to or communicating responsibly with their children. 

  • According to study #1, “moms on cellphones have children who are more negative and less resilient.” Children up to 2 years old were studied and researchers found them to be more distressed and less willing to explore their environment when their mothers were using cell phones.

  • According to study #2, “children feel unimportant, and have to compete with smartphones for parents’ attention.”  In an international study of 6,000 children ages 8 to 13, researchers found that almost 1/3 felt “unimportant” when their parents were on their cell phones during family times.  Over one-half of the children felt that their parents spent too much time on cell phones.

  • According to study #3, “distracted parental attention harms children’s social/emotional development.”  In this study done with rats, researchers found that those rats that were distracted mothers were “less predictable, less reliable, and less attentive (to their pups).”  The pups spent less time playing with others and ate less.  “The researchers concluded that fragmented and chaotic maternal care disrupts brain development, which can lead to emotional disorders later in life: We need predictability and consistency for the emotional system to develop.”  The researchers are expanding their study and findings to include humans.

  • According to study #4, “cellphone use interferes with healthy parenting.” Researchers found that “kids whose parents were absorbed in their devices were more likely to act silly or be noisy. Many parents on cell phones were irritable and impatient, which only led to worse behavior.”

  • According to study #5, “kids feel sad, mad, angry, and lonely when parents use cellphones.”  This study was conducted on 1,000 children ages 4 to 18.  The researcher concluded that “parents should think twice before picking up a mobile device when they're with their kids. … We are behaving in ways that certainly tell children they don't matter, they're not interesting to us, they're not as compelling as anybody, anything, any ping that may interrupt our time with them.”

This article also has links to many other articles and studies that establish the negative effects of parents’ cell phone use on their children.  The next time you are with your children and decide to answer a call or write a text, please remember that your children need your attention, care and love.  If the cell phone communication is not urgent, do not respond.  Better yet – turn your cell phone off and give your children your undivided attention!

Read the entire article by clicking here.

Be Very Mindful of How You Speak to Your Children – Part 2

This blog post is part 2 of how we as parents should speak to our children. Part 1 can be found here. I love what this quote from Brooke Hampton says as to how we should speak to them – “as if they are the wisest, kindest, most beautiful and magical humans on earth ….”  And then, based on what we say to them, their belief system in themselves is being created: “what they believe is what they will become.”

Proverbs 23:7 says that “for as he thinks in his heart, so is he.”  A child often believes or thinks what he has been told, whether it is the truth or not.

As parents, we develop in our children what they will think about themselves.  If we notice and react to our children’s faults right away and then criticize or punish them, we are developing in our children the tendency to be critical about themselves.  Make a commitment to change that.  Actively look for what your children are doing right each day and praise them for it.  When the time comes that you will have to deal with something that they did that was unacceptable, the positive words will outweigh the negative ones.

When you are speaking words of kindness, encouragement, and love, make a point of stopping what you are doing and focus on them.  Have them stop what they are doing too.  Get their attention.  After speaking these words, observe what happens to their demeanor.  They will light up!  It’s as if the most important person in the world (well you are to them) truly believed in them. What could be more important?

Ask yourselves: aren’t your children, in fact, the wisest, kindest, most beautiful and magical humans on earth to you?The answer is clearly “yes”.So let’s speak to them as they deserve to be spoken to!

Be Very Mindful of How You Speak to Your Children – Part 1

I have always profoundly believed that we parents form the foundation for the way our children view the world and themselves.  Proverbs 18:21 says that the tongue has the power of life and death.  When you speak to your children and about your children, what do you say?

The quote for today’s blog from Peggy O’Mara rings so true to me.  The way we talk to our children does, in fact, become their inner voice.  How else can children know how others view or describe them except by hearing it first from their parents. 

From my own personal experiences growing up as a child, I know that what my parents said about me always resonated in my head.  I was often described by them as being “shy”, “quiet”, and “smart”.  Whenever I was introduced to an adult, my parents would use those three words to say something about me.  I grew up with those words ringing in my head.  Now, as a mother of two sons, I understand the power of any sort of “description” I speak of my sons.   I have tried very hard to only speak positive words.

In my professional career as a judge who presided over many juvenile delinquent and juvenile offender cases, I heard the demeaning words that parents would often speak about their children to me in court, and usually, these juveniles were young men.  As their parents told me derogatory things about them, the young men would just stand with their heads down, ashamed and not knowing what to do.  But, I knew that their parents’ criticism and derogation did not just start then. 

Are you speaking words of encouragement and hope to your children? Even in anger, we parents can lose control and say mean things.  Once these words are said, though, it is hard to forget them.  Develop the habit of pausing before you speak.  This will allow you to gather your thoughts and control your tongue.

I encourage you to talk to your children with positive, supportive words.  Help strengthen their inner voice so they develop faith in themselves and truly love who they are. 

Encourage Your Children to be Good Sports and Humble Winners

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourself.

                                                                                                Philippians 2:3

I’m a big promoter of children participating in sport activities as there are so many benefits for them.  And, I’m a mother of an athlete: my oldest son played many different sports, including basketball on his high school team and on a Division 1 college team.  Sports, of course, are competitive and typically there will be a winning team and a losing team.  How your children respond is important – whether they are part of the winners or losers.

Children’s attitudes toward sports and winning come, in most part, from their parents.  When you are watching a game on television, what do you say about the competing teams and their players? When you watch your children play a sport, what do you say about the same things?  As a mother who attended her son’s games, I can attest to the fact that many parents are at the sidelines saying  encouraging words to  their children and fellow team members but others make very derogatory statements.  Some verbally attack the referees, calling them all sorts of names, while some criticize the opposing team’s members as well as their parents.  I live in a small community so allegations can run rampant of referees being biased because they have favorite players or teams. 

Be mindful of what you say to your children about their performances and what happened during a game.  Encourage them to analyze what they did to play well and how they can improve their skills.  Discuss how their team can do better as well as what the opposing team did well and vice versa.  Be respectful to them, their teammates, opposing team members, coaches, and referees.  If coaches do not have team members shake the opposing team members’ hands after a game, have your children do that.  It represents respect for the sport as well as the persons who played.

There has been a recent trend to have all children participating in a sports competition be designated as “winners”.  I understand the reasoning behind this, but do not believe that it teaches children about reality.   In life, there will always be winners and losers.  How your children react when being in each group is an important part of their development.

Good sportsmanship must be valued and taught.It is an integral part of being a godly, respectful person.

Should Your Children Do Chores and Be Paid?

Maintaining a house with children requires that work be done on a daily basis.  The debate continues as to whether our children should be doing household chores and if they do, should they be paid.  I’m a firm believer in children contributing to the household by helping with chores as well as giving them an allowance as some sort of compensation for doing those chores.  What I would like to do in this blog is discuss both sides of the debate and let you come up with your own conclusions – of course, with some bias on my part.

People who take the position that children should not be required to do chores focus their arguments on two main points.  First, they argue that children should enjoy their time during their tender years and be free to play and grow up without a lot of demands being made on them.  Second, they assert that children have homework and other everyday demands on their lives and adding chores on top of their already filled schedules would be too overbearing for them.

On the other hand, people who favor having children do chores argue that chores teach children to be responsible and disciplined, as well as to develop important life skills.  Also, it is argued that children who do chores actively contribute to the household rather than expecting someone else to do things for them.

As I mentioned, I am a proponent of having children do household chores.  They are part of the family unit and as such, benefit from all the fun and good times we have and should also participate in the tasks that need to be done to keep a household functioning well.   Of course, the chores should be age appropriate and parents should encourage children to do them rather than complain and criticize them.  I know that many times that it can be difficult for parents not to nag, especially if you have a recalcitrant or procrastinating child, but there are many helpful articles online that can assist parents in finding solutions to these issues.

If you decide to have your children do chores, should you give your children  allowances or otherwise pay them for doing chores?  Many experts do not believe that young children should be paid because they are not motivated by money.  However, older children are indeed motivated to earn spending money.   Payment for chores is likely to ensure that the chores get done. 

Here are some helpful online articles:

Caregiving and Children

Photo courtesy CNN

November is National Family Caregivers Month.  Many organizations such as AARP have information that is helpful to families who have caregivers.  In this week’s blog, I would like to write about children who are caregivers because oftentimes, we do not consider them as caregivers, even though there are many who are, and we do not consider the impact caregiving can have on them at a young age. 

My late husband was unable to walk for the last six years of his life, due to a stroke and the slow debilitating effects of Parkinson’s disease.   Our two sons assisted me with taking care of him for many years, so I can personally describe the difficulties we endured and how caregiving affected them.   

In the beginning, when my husband first became unable to walk on his own,  we, as a family, had to learn all about how to assist him with his day to day needs.  Of course, the most pressing need was transferring him out of the bed into a wheelchair and then from the wheelchair into a regular chair and then back again.  I relied on my sons to learn from the physical therapists and do this.   It was not easy for them, but they were able to master the transfer process, as they had to do it many times during the day and night.

It was important to me to continue to take my husband out for lunch or dinner and to different events, to keep him active and social.  My sons, of course, were there to assist with whatever we needed. 

My sons observed their father go from a successful businessman and active father, to one who was extremely limited physically due to his health challenges.  Communicating with them about their father’s decline in health was often difficult, as they too were suffering grief.  Their outlets were their friends and playing sports. 

I can honestly say that my taking care of their father was made easier with their love and assistance.  And, their father certainly enjoyed and appreciated their participation.  They showed love and honor to me and their father with their acts of kindness!

To read more about children as caregivers, please click here.

Passing on Good Values

A friend of mine told me about the non-profit organization Foundation for a Better Life and its website www.passiton.com and I wanted to pass on what I have found and learned.   I believe it will be very helpful to parents and children in learning about and promoting good values.

The Foundation is dedicated to passing on good values in our communities through public service campaigns.  Various means of communicating positive values are used such as through videos, billboards, radio messages, and the internet.  Additionally, if you are looking for an inspirational quote, one page on its website is dedicated to that as well.  No matter how you may be feeling, there is an inspirational quote for you to help brighten your day.

A quote from its website explains its mission: “The goal of The Foundation for a Better Life is to offer inspirational messages to people everywhere as a contribution toward promoting good values, good role models and a better life.”  I can’t tell you enough about how impressed I am with this organization and all that it is doing.  Please spend some time on its website – you will not be disappointed!

Teaching Your Children to Genuinely Apologize

To “apologize” can be viewed as a sign of weakness.  Often, a child will say “Me apologize! No way!”  Children from a young age think that they can do no wrong and will refuse to admit a mistake.  That’s where our parenting skills come in handy.  We should consider helping our children to understand what an apology is and how to be truly sorry for a wrong.  This is an important part their development and maturity.

In talking to your children about apologizing, please do not yell at them or make them feel embarrassed, fearful or ashamed.  It takes calm heads to address what has happened and that calm head should come from you as a parent.  Experts suggest that a parent wait until the child has calmed down and then talk to them about what has happened.

Talking it out is critical.  Ask questions as to why your child acted in a certain way.  Did he feel jealous?  Did he feel left out or excluded?  As you are trying to find out why your child acted as he did, your child is also thinking about his actions. 

An important part of the discussion should be the other child’s feelings and what could have been done differently.  Ask your child how she would feel if the other child did the same thing to her.   What could she have done to avoid the situation or to prevent the situation from escalating?

Once these topics have been discussed, then you can move on to the apology.   Experts agree that a genuine apology includes understanding that the other person’s feelings should be accepted over your own and that remorse should be shown.  In an online article on the website Today’s Parent entitled Here’s What Works Way Better Than Forcing Your Kid To Say Sorry, a former elementary school teacher states that she focuses on three parts of the apology to guide students: “I’m sorry for this … this is wrong because … and in the future I will ….”   I think this is wonderful advice because it covers all aspects of an apology. 

To read the entire article, please visit the website by clicking here.

Gaining Respect by Displaying Exemplary Behavior

The idea of respecting parents and other elders is practically engraved into the minds of all children everywhere from a very young age.  It is certainly important that they know to respect those around them, but it can be hard to put into practice when they are not being shown the respect they too deserve. Yes, deserve! Just as adults deserve politeness and deference, so do children.  Respecting children not only shows them how to treat other people, but it also increases their confidence and self-esteem.

Respect should be given out of love and not just as a result of an adult’s power. Punishments or bribes should never be the driving force behind obtaining your children’s respect.  Each person has value, whether young or old, and respect should be extended in recognition of that value.  Children deserve as much respect as adults because they are valued in the eyes of God.

1 Timothy 4:12 speaks of a message given to Timothy from his mentor, the Apostle Paul.  It was about setting an example for those around him by his maturity of speech, conduct, love, faith and purity. Timothy was a young church leader at the time and his youth may have caused some in the church to deem him imprudent.  That is why this message was so significant.  While we cannot be completely clear as to what these people thought of Timothy, we do know that it was important for him to understand how God had called him to present himself as a dedicated follower of Christ and a leader.

Though children and adults alike should regard one another with esteem, this verse discusses certain attributes to be found in young people that build respect:

  • Children are to speak positive words into the lives of others, praise God, and express gratitude for their blessings. That positivity should also extend into their actions.  Negative or curse words do not bring glory to God or establish that the person speaking them is mature.

  • Volunteering for church events and following through on commitments are examples of the conduct of an exemplary child.

  • The described ‘purity’ extends to spiritual purity as well as physical. Do they mean well in all their actions? Is their faith in God strong? The answer to these (and similar) questions should be “yes”.

Just as Paul advised his protégé Timothy, God wants the same from your children. He wants them to know that regardless of their age, they are worthy of respect.  Importantly, they are to carry themselves in a way that is pleasing unto Him and as they do so, they will gain more and more respect from those around them.

Helping Your Children Find Hobbies and Sticking with Them

Picture1.png

Do your children have any hobbies?  A hobby is something that is done during their free time for fun and pleasure.  I hope that you did not answer that question with “Yes-they play video games”!  The absolutely last thing we should want our children to be doing during their free time is sitting and playing video games for hours on end.  

According to child development experts, hobbies are important for children for many reasons.  Hobbies help your children to develop creativity.  Is your child artistic?  Then, encourage him to draw and paint.  Several brand stores have huge sections devoted to art supplies.  Does your child enjoy taking photos with your cell phone?  Encourage her to continue to take photos and learn more about that art form.  There are many books that teach about how to take photos and to be very creative in doing so.  If her interest continues, consider purchasing a camera for her.  You can even show some of her photographs to her teacher and ask for suggestions of a club that she can join with like-minded persons.

Hobbies also can help develop skills that may lead to lucrative careers in the future.  If your child enjoys writing stories, help her to learn more about being an author and structuring her work.  It may be that you have a budding Pulitzer prize winner on your hands!

Hobbies further help children with developing intelligence.  For example, by sitting and putting together a jigsaw puzzle, your child will learn how to associate shapes with images as well as patience.  If your child enjoys reading, books will provide challenges to learn new words.  When your child encounters a new word, encourage him to write it down, find its meaning, and then use it in a sentence.  Review the word again with him each day for a few days to make sure that he continues to remember it. 

Lastly, hobbies give children a sense of accomplishment.  They have undertaken a fun task, stayed with it, and completed it.  Do all you can to have your children complete a hobby that they started.  The results can truly be amazing for them and you!

There are so many hobbies to consider.  One of the growing categories is rocketry.  Think about all the science involved with propelling a rocket.  Your children will be learning as well as having a fun time.

Please do not overburden your children with hobbies though. As I have written in prior blogs, your children need to spend time with you and other family members.  Adding too many activities to their schedule, especially during the school year can cause unnecessary pressures on them.

The list of hobbies is almost endless.  Don’t allow your children to waste their free time.  Hobbies will definitely allow them to continue growing and learning.

Make Certain That Your Children Receive Proper Oral Health Care From an Early Age

According to an online article written by Dr. Anthony Mendicino, DDS and Laurie Turner Finger, RDH in February, 2018, forty percent of children may have tooth decay before they enter kindergarten.  That’s a very surprising statistic. The article goes on to say: “Tooth decay or Early Childhood Caries (ECC) is the single most common chronic childhood disease affecting children today in the US. Tooth decay can compromise the health, development and quality of life in children both short and long term.”

In fact, tooth decay can cause many problems such as depression and dental infections and abscesses. The critical issue is to start teaching your children early about preventing tooth decay.   The authors suggest the following:

1.    Have your children visit a dentist early so that the dentist can begin monitoring tooth development.

2.    Do not allow your baby to fall asleep sucking on a bottle with milk or any sugary liquid.   Sugar coats the teeth and causes tooth decay.

3.    Be sure to begin brushing your children’s teeth as soon as one emerges.  Do not wait until they have many teeth to brush them and be sure to teach your children how to brush them too.

4.    Investigate whether your drinking water has fluoride.  If not, consider some type of supplements.  Fluoride has been shown to reduce tooth decay. 

To read the entire article, CLICK HERE.

What God’s Word Says About Being a Good Friend

I have written before about how to help our children choose good friends according to the Word of God.  I think that message is very important, but what is just as important and often overlooked, is what the Bible has to say about being a good friend.  Friends are a crucial part of our lives.  Having and being a good friend strengthen our lives and our walk with God.  These are a few ways your children can be good friends and have positive influences on their friends’ lives:

1.    Be there for your friend. We all go through rough patches that only a true friend could make better. The Bible talks about being there for a friend in times of trouble.  Being available, whether by phone or in person, and listening to them when they are distressed can be so comforting to them and lets them know that you can be trusted. It strengthens the bond of that relationship in a time that can tear many apart.

2.    Tell the truth.  We often want to spare our friends’ feelings, but sugarcoating a situation does nothing to help them in the long run.  We should be honest with one another because it is the only way to grow and better ourselves.  Of course, that does not give anyone the right to be mean or harsh.  I once heard someone say “honesty without tact is abuse,” and that is so true.  As a friend, your goal should never be to hurt someone’s feelings, but to help your friend progress in whatever aspect needs improvement. Give constructive comments rather than hurtful criticisms - the message will be received much easier.

3.    Spend time together. Between school, soccer practice, and chess club, our children can be very busy.  Yes, school and extracurricular activities are important, but just as important is spending time with their friends and truly enjoying their friends’ company.  Children have so much energy that they are bound to find activities to do during their time together.

Also, they should never be afraid of silence. Friends sitting in comfortable silence is an indication of the comfort between them. Being in that moment together can feel just as fulfilling as a day’s worth of exciting activities.

One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
— Proverbs 18:24
A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.
— Proverbs 17:17

Raising Honest Children

"Therefore, each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body."
Ephesians 4:25

We can all admit that we have told lies during our lives, some bigger than others, but it can be hard to handle when we observe our children doing it.  As Christian parents, we should be loving but intentional in stopping our children from developing a bad habit of deceitfulness.

There are several passages in the Bible that discourage deception and promote honesty.  The verse for today’s blog is one of my favorites - Ephesians 4:25.  As a Christian family, parents should stress that we are all a part of the body of Christ, and should work together for His sake, a task that cannot be accomplished when a member of that body is untruthful.  Another verse is Proverbs 12:22 “The Lord detests lying lips, but He delights in men who are truthful.”  As I have recommended before, write these and other Bible verses down and help your children to memorize them.  Talk with them daily about what God expects of them – honesty and love.

When you catch your children telling a lie, do not justify it by calling it “cute” or “harmless”.  This can be very confusing to a child.  Where do you draw the line between a “harmless” lie and a lie that causes “harm”? All lies should be immediately addressed and discouraged.  

Since I love to promote reading, there are three stories about lying from which children can learn: The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, and Pinocchio.  Read them with your children and discuss what is happening in each story.  Ask them questions to generate their thinking processes about telling lies.  For example, what could the character in the story have done differently, instead of lying?  What would have happened then?

 Of particular concern is looking for opportunities to praise your children for telling the truth.  Too often, we parents focus on the negative.  What better way to instill honesty but by parents catching their children being truthful and immediately praising them for it.  Positive attention builds more and more positive habits and self-confidence while repeated negative attention erodes a child’s well-being and image of who he is in Christ.

As I have matured in my relationship with the Lord and in my years, I have come to appreciate honesty more and more.  Even though so-called small white lies can be explained away, I ask myself “why should I even do that?”  Nowhere in the Bible does it say we can tell certain lies but not others.  It’s all in the way we frame our words, with the goal of being true to the Word.

Parents Must Have A United Front On How To Raise Their Children

We often hear or read about how parents can develop good parenting skills as children need a solid parenting foundation.  One critical aspect of that foundation involves parents uniting on the issue of how to raise their children.   Even though parents may disagree on certain aspects of parenting, it is important for parents to still show a united front with their children, especially as to how they should be disciplined.  As Matthew 12:25 states, a house divided against itself cannot stand, so parents who are divided on this issue will not be able to maintain a strong household.

In his online article The Importance of a United Front in Parenting – Especially When it Comes to Discipline, Dr. Laurence Steinberg discusses the issues of parents having a united front and supporting each other.  For children 6 years old and younger, he states that they can get confused by one parent telling them one thing and the other parent telling them another.  They see their worlds in black and white, and want clarity and precision.  At those ages, the united front is imperative.  Between the ages of 6 and 11, that need for clarity and precision diminishes in children, but he, nevertheless, recommends that parents continue to maintain a unified front.  

For teenagers, he argues that a united front is no longer necessary but that parents must still support each other in whatever decisions are made.  I believe these two points – a united front and supporting each other - go hand in hand and cannot be separated, so I disagree here with Dr. Steinberg but believe that what he has to say should still be considered.  He argues that older children know that people disagree on issues and the important point is for parents to try to resolve differences.   Parents can “agree to disagree” but still, there must be a further decision as to what is to be done.  In that event, I suggest that parents decide on what they will do, support each other, and then present a united front. 

Dr. Steinberg also gives a number of recommendations as to how parents can reconcile “hard-to-resolve disagreements”.   These are worthy of reading and incorporating into your parenting styles. 

As a judge, I saw the many negative results of parents not supporting each other and having a united front with their children.  Too often, especially during divorces, one parent undermines the other with the children.  The damage that results, sadly, is to the children, as they are the ones who suffer profoundly from feuding parents.

Read the entire article by clicking here.

What To Do When Your Children Are Acting Selfish

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
— Philippians 2:3-4

“Buy me that toy.” “Change the tv channel - my favorite show is on.” “Mommy - get off the computer- I’m bored.” Do any of these sound familiar? They are all statements we may have heard from our own children and brushed off as childish behavior. While interactions like these do happen, they should never become normal. Unchecked, your children can continue to develop these selfish qualities more and more.

Children usually do not make these statements out of malice for other people, but out of their understanding for their own needs and desires. The only thing that matters to them is what they want at that specific time. The key is to stop this behavior when it happens – right away.  Do not make excuses for and tolerate it.  

How many times have your children tugged at your clothing or verbally demanded your attention to tell you something while you were on the phone? The next time they do this tell them that you are having a conversation and that you will speak to them when it is over.  Be firm and polite.  And, be sure to actually speak with them about their inappropriate behavior and not go on to some other task.  When you do,  you can say something such as, “I was speaking with someone on the phone. Please do not interrupt me.  Save it until I am done. I would love to talk about it after I’m finished.” Let them know that their actions were selfish and why.  Catching them while they are doing the act is important to helping them stop it.  Talking with them about it helps them understand what they are doing wrong and why their behavior is wrong.

Children may not always comprehend why being “self-centered” is wrong. Today’s Bible verse is very helpful.  Philippians 2:3-4 says “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Prioritizing the needs of those around us above our own is important because God says it is. It brings out our best character, shows the people we interact with  that we care for and respect them, and most of all, it is pleasing unto God. Being self-centered completely contradicts His Word.

Show your children that their thoughts and feelings should not be the only ones that are heard and respected.  How are other children reacting to their selfish behavior?  For example, if your son has a friend over to play, but he is refusing to share his toys, stop him, take him out of the room, and talk to him about it.  Explain to him how his behavior is affecting his friend and making his friend feel.  Ask him what he can do to make his friend’s visit more pleasant.  When the discussion has finished, have him return to the room and observe his behavior to make sure that he is actually following through on different, kinder behavior.

When you observe your children being considerate of others and not being selfish, let them know that out loud to reinforce their positive behavior.  This is one of the most important ways to stop selfish behavior.  Take your time to describe the selfless act that was done and make it clear that everyone benefits when they act that way.

As parents, we want to be there for our children and provide for their needs.  It’s their constant wants and demands that we need to control so that they do not control us. 

What to Do When Your Child Swears

Do not let unwholesome [foul, profane, worthless, vulgar] words ever come out of your mouth, but only such speech as is good for building up others, according to the need and the occasion, so that it will be a blessing to those who hear [you speak].
— Ephesians 4:29 (AMP)

Children learn from what they see and hear around them, and while it can often be exciting to observe what they have learned, sometimes it can be frustrating or even embarrass and anger you.  Having said that, there is, unfortunately, going to be a day in your life as a parent when your child tells you about a new word he learned - a swear or curse word.  Or, you may hear your child use such a word when speaking with friends or siblings.  At first, you may be shocked to hear that word coming out of your child’s mouth (innocent as he or she may be). But, you must act quickly to counter this type of unacceptable speech.

First and foremost, be honest.  Did your child learn that curse word from you or your spouse?  Again, you cannot expect your children to do as they are told and totally ignore what their parents do.  Clean up your mouth before you enforce “no cursing” rules on your children.

It is critical that both parents agree that these types of words are not acceptable – period.  It will be very confusing for your child if you tell him that swearing is not acceptable speech but then your spouse laughs when he curses and things he’s cute by saying those type of words.   As with any other issue that involves raising children, parents must have a united front when dealing with cursing and decide together how violations of your parental rules will be dealt with.

It is imperative that, instead of getting upset with your child and yelling at him to not do it again, you speak to him about the meaning of the word and why he should avoid using it.  Let your child know that words like those are not pleasing to you or to God.  God wants us to use our voices to praise Him and uplift others, something we cannot do if it our mouths are cluttered with foul language.  Select and review with your child Bible verses such as Ephesians 4:29 that establish exactly what God wants to hear from us and why anything else is displeasing to Him.

It is also important to be willing to answer your child’s questions about curse words.  If your child feels that he can ask you anything without you getting angry and judging him, he will make you the first person he turns to when learning about something new, including words like these.

Assist your child to learn other words that are not curse words and to be able to select and use these words to best describe how he feels.  This will help him to develop word intelligence and self-control. For example, if your child is upset about what a sibling did, help your child to come up with words to express his feelings, rather than curse words.  Later on, when he is in the middle of an argument and angry, he should be able to tap into his extensive vocabulary to express himself without resorting to curse words.

Be prepared with a plan on how to deal with your child cursing.  It will happen one day, so it is better that you nip it in the bud right away rather than allow it to escalate into a difficult problem.

Teaching Biblical Financial Principles to Your Children

The concepts of handling money according to biblical principles are very important ones and parents often do not take the time to teach their children about them.  Proverbs 22:6 talks about training your child in the way he should go so that when he grows up, he will not depart from it.  Training your child also involves teaching these financial principles so that he can be a wise steward.  But, of course, you must know and follow these principles yourselves as parents.

In his online article entitled 10 Financial Principles That Are Biblical, author George Fooshee addresses principles that Christians need to know to properly manage their financial resources. Too many Christians are mired in debt and have become slaves to their out of control spending habits.  Knowing and then obeying God’s Word in regard to money management are critical to financial freedom.

The 10 financial principles are:

1. Understand that God is your source.  Philippians 4:19,  Proverbs 8:20-21, and 2 Cor. 9:8 all refer to God being our source - financial and otherwise.  The Christian walk involves putting our trust in Him to provide for our needs.

2. Tithing should be a regular part of our giving.  As Christians, we all understand that we should tithe.  Proverbs 3:9 instructs us to honor God with our first fruits.  But, do we really do it or do we make excuses and believe that God will understand why we have not tithed regularly?  God’s Word should be alive and something that we adhere to every day not just when we want to.

3. Prepare and plan.   Handling our money wisely involves preparation and planning. 

4. Save.

5. Keep out of debt.

6. Do not co-sign.

7. Keep records and set a budget.  From young, children should be taught how to budget. When giving an allowance to your children, for example, enforce the categories of “save”, “spend”, and “tithe” so they learn and put these concepts into practice.

8. Be content with what you have.  For example, if you know that you cannot afford a new vehicle at this time, do not shop for one.  Be content with what you have until you are truly able to afford a new or different one.

9. Work hard.

10. Seek Godly counsel.

As I have said many times before in my blogs, your children are observing what you do and listening to what you say every day.  Training or raising  successful children first starts with you as parents.   

To read more of this article, click here.

Raising Happy Children

We have all seen those faces: a child with an angry look – his face turned away from you, his lips pursed, his eyes glaring.  Perhaps the child did not get what he wanted.  Or, perhaps he woke up grouchy from a nap and saw no reason to change his demeanor or behavior and decided to take things out on you.  Children can be taught from a young age how to become happy and not remain in a negative mood.  According to Proverbs 15:13, a happy heart makes the face cheerful.

Helping your children develop happy hearts depends first and foremost on you having a happy heart yourself.  It is critical that as Christians, adults memorize scripture so that we lean on what the Bible has to say about our circumstances rather than on what the world throws at us.  The Word of God can be an extremely positive force in our lives if we speak and apply it. 

Try selecting various Bible verses that are easy for your children to memorize and write them on index cards or type them and hang them up throughout your house.  There are many websites that have lists of simple Bible verses so you can select one verse each week on which to focus.  Make it fun to memorize a verse and incorporate it in your everyday discussions.  The more you make the verses a part of their everyday lives, the more these verses will become a part of their thinking and behavior.   A quick reading of a verse will not do it.  It takes time and energy to change thoughts and behavior – it is not a one time, quick fix.

Also, have your children look at themselves in a mirror when they are happy and then when they are angry.  Help them to connect their facial expressions and outward physical behavior to their feelings.   Smiling is an indication of happiness and actually makes a person more attractive.  More people are drawn to smiling, friendly persons and the opposite is true as well.  Remember that your children typically will copy your behaviors.  Have you smiled at your children lately or have they seen you smiling?  You cannot expect your children to smile if you are not smiling at or with them!

Laughter is very important in maintaining a happy heart.  Children love to laugh – it’s part of their nature.  My sons enjoyed all kinds of silly jokes and riddles from when they were both small.  I bought joke books and cartoon books for them to read, to encourage laughter.  (Of course, that also encouraged reading.) They both have a wonderful, positive sense of humor today! Another way to make them laugh is spending time with them doing fun activities.  When was the last time that you played with and tickled your child?

These are some practical suggestions to raising happy children.  I encourage you to take the time to implement some so that you see more cheerful faces around your home!

Teaching Conflict Resolution to Your Children

Conflicts between children in a family are common and  parents should be prepared to handle them and be models of resolution skills.  Three words are important in dealing with sibling conflicts: talk, listen, and resolve.

First, parents should encourage their children to calm down and then talk about their problem.  An emotionally charged child will not be able to reason and react properly.  Helping your child to calm down allows a child to manage his emotions and then be able to begin the process toward resolving the dispute.  A child can do several things to calm down: walk away and return a few minutes later; count to 10 (or any number), slowly; or write down his emotions.

Once your children are calm, you can begin the process of talking to each of them.  You may choose to talk to them together or apart.  You will have to decide which way would achieve the best results. Encourage each child to tell his side of the story and how he felt and be honest while doing so. For example, helping your child to talk about his feelings is important: “I felt embarrassed when he called me a name in front of my friend so I hit him.”

While your child is talking, actively do step 2 which is listening to what is being said.  Do not prejudge until you have heard both sides.  If you are not sure what your child is trying to convey, repeat or rephrase his statements until you have grasped a full understanding.  This will take time and patience, but believe me, it is well worth it. 

The last step is helping your children to reach a resolution.  Several experts suggest having each child genuinely apologize for his role in the conflict and then suggest a solution.  Remember, it is best that they try to work things out between themselves and coming up with their own solutions helps them participate in the process rather than a parent imposing a resolution upon them.  Whatever solution they agree to, make sure that you monitor them so that the resolution is enforced. 

By helping your children to resolve conflicts among themselves, you are modeling and teaching them skills that they will be able to use all their lives, not only with family members, but also with everyone they come in contact with.  Let’s face it- conflicts arise frequently, so assist your children to learn how to quickly resolve them.

When Should Your Child Have a Smartphone?

When Should Child Have Cell Smart Phone Soraya Coffelt

With Christmas just a couple of weeks away, parents are busily looking for gifts for their children.  One such gift is a smartphone.  Parents, though, are often hesitant about purchasing cellphones for their children for a myriad of reasons, the most important being its negative effects on social skills.  While this is a genuine concern to have, smartphones can be great tools in assisting your children with the many challenges they may face.  Here are some suggestions to help you decide whether to purchase one, and if you do decide to purchase one, to determine what parameters should be established for its use:

1.    What age should your children be?  Generally, around the age of 14 is a good, practical age, but it all depends on the maturity levels of your children.  Are they responsible?  Cell phones are costly and children are prone to lose things.  Will your children abide by rules that you set for their use?

2.    How will it be purchased?  Many parents require that their children do chores at home to earn at least a portion of the purchase price of a cell phone. That builds in the child the importance of earning money and using money wisely.  If the cell phone device itself is a gift, consider having your child earn the money to pay for the monthly charges.

3.    What rules will be established for its use? The rules are completely up to you and what you, as the parent, determine is most important.  Use of the device during family times and meal times should be off limits, though.  Will you require a shut off time at night? If so, what hour? What about your free access to the phone to monitor goings on?  That should be made clear to your child from before the phone is purchased.

As with everything else, you cannot use the “do as I say, not as I do” method. Children learn best from observing their parents and if they see you contradicting yourself, it will only confuse them and cause them to rebel. If you tell them to put their phones away during meals, but you are busy calling and texting during dinner times, there will be problems.  

4.    What type of services or apps should be on a cellphone? You will need to monitor your children’s cell phones closely to ensure that they do not download any unacceptable apps.  In fact, one rule of use should be that they do not download anything without your knowledge and permission.  Be vigilant in monitoring their phones as there are a huge variety of apps out there.

One highly recommended service for a cell phone is called location services. It is very helpful because you can keep track of your children’s locations.  There are various apps that provide these services at the app store, but parents can include family locator services in their cell phone plan (usually for an additional price) as well. The already embedded GPS in cellphones is very beneficial in the event that your children are at unfamiliar areas and need to find their way to a specific destination or back home.

Getting their first cell phone can be an exciting time for your children.  Parents should, however, spend time preparing and planning for one.