Thursday, 28 June 2012

The Computer is on. What are the Children Doing?


 ‘Forbidden fruit’ is powerfully alluring, especially for teenagers. Researchers have discovered that when children and adolescents are ‘forbidden’ from drugs, media consumption, and even certain peer relationships, they will resist those limits and assert their independence. If you tell a teen not to do something you almost ensure that as soon as your back is turned, they’ll be experimenting, investigating, poking, prodding, inhaling, swallowing, or otherwise trying to experience whatever was just deemed contraband.

The super-peer of the media is addictive, influencing an entire generation of teenagers into accepting whatever norms those behind the messages seek to perpetuate.
This is partly due to teenagers’ basic desire for autonomy.
“You can’t tell me what to do.”
Another reason is that humans’ pre-frontal cortex (which is the part of our brain responsible for executive function and forward planning) does not fully develop until our early twenties. Lacking the neurologically advanced development that adults possess, our teens seem all too enthusiastic to chase after whatever we suggest would be best given a wide berth. This is especially the case when they sense their autonomy is being threatened. The more dictatorial our approach, the more enticing the forbidden fruit.

To add complexity to a challenging situation, as teens develop, their willingness to accept parental influence diminishes at the same rate as their increased acceptance of peer influence. Mum and Dad become restrictive while peers offer limitless opportunities for exploration and discovery.

Of all the peers that have an impact on our children’s decisions, there is one that is ubiquitous, pervasive, and all-too-often insidious. The media acts as a super-peer and influences our children with more effect than the most persuasive of teenagers’ normal peers.  The super-peer is subtle. The super-peer rarely explicitly demands that teens conform to a given ideal. Rather, it presents models of the ‘good life’ and teens follow the direction laid out for them without question. While the influence of the super-peer can be positive, it can also be frighteningly negative.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

How to Have a Perfect Morning with the Kids

Source: timcoulson.com
Sunday morning I did something different to normal. My Type A personality means that my mornings generally start at somewhere between 4am and 5am (yes, even on Saturday and Sunday). I don't have time for that sleep-in stuff. I've got blogs to write, books to read, a bike to ride, a business to build, and whatever else. Life is short. Get lots done. That's how I roll.

for that brief few minutes on a Sunday morning as the sun streamed through the windows, we were one of those families in the magazines.
But on Sunday I changed all of that.

It was 7.30 when I realised I'd somehow slept through the alarm (or forgotten to set it). Lilli, my two year-old was giggling with her mum in bed next to me. I'm not sure there's a more pure, delightful sound than a toddler laughing and being cuddled. I savoured it for a minute and then Annie, aged four, sleepily meandered into our room and hopped up onto the bed next to me.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Why Children Lie - and what you can do about it

A friend of mind told the following story about her daughter, Ashley:

Ashley did a poo on the kitchen floor and when I asked her what it was, she told me it was chocolate. I told her I thought it was poo and she insisted that 
"no, it's chocolate." 
So I asked her to eat it. She stared at it for a long time then woefully cried, 
 "It's poo!"
According to Dr House (who had to have been the coolest TV Dr ever - sorry Dr Who fans), everybody lies.


And our kids are part of that 'everybody'.

The question is,
Why do our kids lie to us?
The more threatened our children feel, the more subversive our children will become.
They know it upsets us. The know they'll get into even more trouble for lying.Yet they persist in telling porkies. Whether it's not telling the whole truth, offering a white lie, being deceptive, or simply telling a BIG FAT LIE, most kids lie about stuff at least some of the time.

A study published in the highly respected journal Child Development provides a clue as to why kids lie - and the problem may have more to do with us and less to do with the children than we might like to admit.

Friday, 15 June 2012

You know you're a parent when...

Source: Giglig.com

It's 10pm Friday night. Our 9 year-old daughter has just been sick.

No, she wasn't sick in the bowl I had given her. Nor was she sick in the toilet, in spite of me explaining that she MUST get to the toilet if she felt she couldn't hold her dinner in any longer. Instead, Abbie threw up all over her bed.

How in the world did I get so lucky to have these incredible kids as my own?
I've just put the washing on. There's lots of it because it's winter. The bedsheets, the doona, the pillow, and every other piece of bedding was spewed on, as was the carpet. And for some unknown reason, Miss 9 ran for the stairs rather than the bathroom, and she gave the stairway carpet the second round of... well, vomit. So while I take care of the messy stuff, Mrs Happy Families is making up the spare bed.

In spite of the putrid smell that is making me feel ill even as I type, and the fact that Mrs Happy Families is terribly unhappy, I can't stop laughing. I mean, I feel terrible that my baby girl feels so awful. But isn't being a parent so unpredictable... and so damn funny at the same time.

Bullying: Who is Really Responsible?

Source: Australian Teacher Magazine
In today’s papers, Alistair Nicholson, a former chief judge of Australia’s Family Court, was quoted as arguing that Australia needs legislation to define bullying, and that parents and schools should be legally responsible for bullying that occurs by children who are in their care.
The threat of legal action if our children bully others will not help. But it will turn parents against their children and end up hurting more people than it helps.

On Channel Ten’s nationwide evening news program, “The Project”, I was asked about whether this is a good idea, and what we can do about bullying.

Friday, 1 June 2012

What to do about Sleepovers

Source: Sleepover Decoration Ideas
As a child, I thought that sleepovers were the best fun I could have with my friends. We loved trying to stay up all night. We'd eat junk food until we were sick, watch movies, tell stories, and fall asleep on the floor in our sleeping bags.

Sleepovers can be terrific fun for kids, but they can also leave scars that last a lifetime
As we got older we'd do more deviant things like ride our bikes or skateboards around the local shopping centre carpark in the middle of the night, do nudie runs (again, in the middle of the night), or explore and climb through new homes that were being constructed in nearby neighbourhoods.

We never did anything too bad. And we never considered that sleepovers could be risky. Now that I'm a dad, however, I'm reluctant to allow my kids to have sleepovers.

During a radio interview with David Oldfield on Friday night, I was asked about sleepovers and whether they're a good idea.

My easy-going, fun-loving self wanted to say, "Yes, they're great!" I wanted to encourage parents to let their kids go and have all the fun in the world, staying up late and goofing off with their friends. But my sensible, conservative self (the part of me that reflects on how I'm raising five girls) thought otherwise.