Thursday, February 09, 2023

Parenting Tips

As a parent, I wanted my children to grow into successful adults. I didn't measure success in terms of how others viewed my children, but in terms of how they viewed themselves. To this end, here are a few ideas I used in raising my children:

1. Starting at age 5, and continuing through adolescence, if my child wanted to do something which required my approval, instead of giving a "yes/no" answer to the request, I would ask the child, "What do YOU think?" I'd prompt the child to think about what the "right" answer might be. As a youngster, the child often chose a simple "yes" answer. But I'd challenge them with "why?", and encourage them to understand the decision-making process. By the time my children were teenagers, I was reaping the benefit of their long training. They knew whether a decision was "right" or "wrong". And I still had to wait for them to reach brain maturity (18-20 in girls, 22-25 in boys) before they began actually choosing the "right" decision.

 2. There were lots of distractions for my children. Of course, there were books, TV, movies, all of which I had grown up with. But there were new ones, too: video games, computers, Internet surfing, mobile phones. Now, most children seem to have knowledge (and often ownership) of a smart phone. Instead of arguing with my children about where, when, and how much time they could spend on each of these platforms, I set a time limit for all "screen time" (none of my children seemed to read books more than I thought was healthy). Now, the child had to decide where they would spend their "hour of screen time". And the argument was reduced to "I want more screen time", which, based on the argument, was granted (though rarely).

3. Traveling on vacation with my children was always a challenge. First, they struggled to keep quiet and not argue with one another during the time we were actually traveling. Second, when we got where we were going, there was often a lot of asking for money to buy things. I solved both these challenges with an incentive program: every 15 minutes that all the children were quiet would earn a quarter for each child, and every child got an allowance during the trip of $3.00/day. The "quarter for a quarter hour" worked marginally, but enough to keep us all sane. The daily allowance was great, since every question of "Can I buy this?" had the answer "How much money do you have?" Both these programs required us to prepare for the trip with a visit to the bank: rolls of quarters and bundles of ones!

There are more, no doubt, but this is all for now!