Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

How to Help Your Child With Their Science Fair Project

middle school science project - ChildIf you have kids, then by the time they reach middle school, it’s a certainty they’ll turn to their parents for help with their science fair project. In our family, they naturally turned to me because they respected my enormous wealth of scientific knowledge [after all, I’ve watched more than two episodes of Nova] – and not at all because my wife has told them “I’ve driven you to 600 soccer practices and 125 piano lessons over the past three years. It’s time your father got off the couch for once. Go ask him!”

Helping your child with his noble science fair project can be a wonderful bonding opportunity – parent and child working together to bring a complex endeavor from inception to completion. Remember, your role is merely to coach, not to take over the project. Use this chance to teach your child a life lesson in taking responsibility. Follow this simple seven-step roadmap, and before you know it, your little wunderkind might learn a lot more than just how many planets are in our solar system (I still say the answer is nine. Pluto rocks).

Step 1: Help your child select a project that’s achievable.

Kids are naturally competitive. They want to impress their teachers – and their parents. So don’t be surprised if your child’s concept for a project is overly ambitious. When he decides to build a nuclear particle accelerator using bicycle parts and silly putty, you may want to counsel him to scale back his plans to something more realistic – so he might actually complete his project during your lifetime. 

Step 2: Remind your child of your role in this project.

Okay, so you took your kid to the movie, The Martian, and now he’s decided he’s going to build a rocket ship that can travel to Mars and back. Did you skip over Step 1 above – the part about choosing a project he can actually achieve? As you get started, remind your little rocket builder that this is his project, not yours. Insist he take the lead. Gently reassure him that you’ll be there every step of the way if he gets stuck.

Notice how he gets stuck as soon as he hands you the instruction sheet from his teacher, at which point he may say something like, “Dad, this looks really hard.” Don’t worry. This is an excellent opportunity to teach him the lessons of patience, self-reliance, taking a project from start to completion and going without texting for more than three minutes. 

Step 3: Encourage your child when he gets stuck. Read More…

  • Not having kids we helped by judging science fairs. What a learning experience trying not to crush budding scientists, …
    Janice Strong
  • Published On Nov. 16, 2015 by TEJ
  • I love you daddy, but not enough to give you my Snickers bar

    Halloween - me and my girlsIt was a dark and stormy Halloween night. My two young daughters, Rachel and Emmy, could not wait to get started. Earlier that week I’d spent an evening helping them come up with their costumes. Emmy could not decide between a fairy princess or Barney the dinosaur or Hello Kitty. So naturally, the only solution was Barney the Hello Kitty dinosaur princess. Whatever makes you happy, my little angel, I mean, dinosaur kitty princess.

    Rachel’s outfit was easier. She insisted on being Harry Potter wearing an invisibility cloak. So I drew a lightning bolt on her forehead, put a sliver of duct tape on a pair of my black-framed glasses and found a blanket to which I affixed a big sign that read: INVISIBILITY CLOAK.  YOU CAN’T SEE ME!

    The girls kept asking, “Daddy, when can we go trick or treating?” To which I would respond, “It’s only Wednesday. Halloween is not for another three days. Be patient.” This went on every few hours until the big day, at which point, the incessant questioning accelerated to every 5 minutes.

    Finally it was time for the main event. They looked so cute – Emmy in her princess tiara, sparkly gloves and Cinderella flowing gown, with the matching kitty ears, whiskers and a long purple dinosaur tail. Meanwhile Rachel was almost completely hidden underneath her Mighty Morphin Power Rangers invisibility blanket. Of course, once we ventured out into the 42-degree drizzling weather, it was actually hard to make out their costumes beneath their winter coats and Thomas the Tank Engine galoshes.

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    • What a nice dad! When our girls would come back from trick or treating, I had them sort through …
      Pam N
  • Published On Oct. 27, 2015 by TEJ
  • What we WISH we could say to our kids

    what we wish we could say - child with paintYears ago, I had this reckless notion that something was missing in my life which could only be filled by having kids. So we started a family – and got so much more: eight years of Raffi songs, 800 trips to sports practices (and the occasional trip to the ER), $6,000 in orthodontia bills, and a child-proofed house, every square inch of which perpetually resembled a FEMA disaster zone.

    Don’t get me wrong – I love our daughters more than anything in the world – with the possible exception of bacon. But it didn’t take long to discover that despite the significant gap between my toddlers and me in earning potential, overall intelligence, and ability not to drool on everything with which I came into contact, I simply was no match for my kids. They routinely wore me out – usually by the time they dumped a bowl of Raisin Bran on each other – a daily 7am ritual.

    As a parent of two boisterous young girls, I quickly came to two conclusions: First, the interior of the VCR makes an ideal place to hide daddy’s slice of apple pie; and second, being a parent was going to require Herculean levels of patience. Being a good parent means having the maturity to resist saying the first thing that pops into your prefrontal cortex when your eight-year-old microwaves your cell phone. You need to suppress the urge to blurt out, “Jesus Christ! What the hell were you thinking, spraying the cat with the purple paint, you little twerp?” Such an outburst could permanently damage your precious angel’s delicate self-esteem – much like my angel permanently damaged our precious leather couch with a stick figure etching of her daddy.

    Shortly after our girls acquired rudimentary speech, I learned a valuable lesson: Never use foul language in front of young children. When my eldest was barely three, I caught her wielding my $500 Titleist driver into the trunk of our cherry tree, “just like George Washington, Daddy!” While she hadn’t yet mastered conjugating a sentence, she had, to my surprise, absolutely no difficulty reciting back to mommy the entirety of my panicked outburst – verbatim: “Mommy, Daddy said, ‘Holy shit. Look what you’ve done to my club!’ What does ‘shit’ mean, Mommy?”

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    • There really were rewards for all your 20 years of restraint ... viola 2 well adjusted young women who thankfully …
      Janice Strong
  • Published On Sep. 07, 2015 by TEJ
  • Better parenting through polling

    parenting by polling - pie chartWhen it comes to parenting, I don’t always make the best decisions. I’m not always sure what the right thing to do is in a difficult situation.

    Like the time our elder daughter begged and pleaded with me to let her drive the car to the mall. It was a sunny day. Traffic was light. And she had behaved extremely well all week long. So against my better judgment, I said okay. Two minutes later, she smashed the car into a stop sign barely 100 yards from our driveway. A part of me can’t help but wonder whether in retrospect I made a mistake giving in to the incessant pleadings of an eight-year-old to drive my minivan.

    Sometimes my wife questions my ability to make the right call. Heck, she rarely listens to any of my opinions unless at least four complete strangers tell her the exact same thing – which got me to thinking: maybe the way for me to make better parenting decisions is to poll the opinions of total strangers.

    In the most recent presidential election, the polls were incredibly accurate forecasters of people’s voting preferences. Nate Silver’s 538 blog accurately predicted the Electoral College winner in all fifty states. Politicians use polls all the time to help them decide how to vote. Should we legalize gay marriage? Poll your constituents. Should we cut defense spending? Do a poll. Should we ban hurricanes during the last week of a presidential campaign? (97% of Republicans resoundingly voted yes.)   Read More…

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  • Published On Apr. 15, 2015 by TEJ
  • Encourage your challenging child – through POSITIVE parenting

    Patient Parenting - angry dad and sonIf there is one thing I’ve learned as a parent, it’s that in the end, your kids will crush your dreams, ignore your advice, join a biker gang, and blame you for everything.

    But if there is a second thing I’ve learned, it’s that you need to be positive. As you know, outside of my immediate family, I am considered a parenting expert. My latest book, A Positive Parent’s Guide to Loving Your Child, even if They’re an Evil, Twisted, Unmotivated, Narcissistic Demon Seed Hellion Who Will Never Amount to Anything is helping millions of frustrated parents around the globe deal with their challenging child. The key? Remain positive at all times.

    This week, I dip into Dr. Tim’s Mailbag, to share how you can successfully apply my powerful patent-pending positive parenting process to help your own challenging child blossom to almost one quarter of their God-given potential.  Read More…

    • Was this written for me? As always, great advice, Tim. Worth every penny I paid for it. K.
      Keith W.
  • Published On Mar. 11, 2015 by TEJ
  • Lessons in bonding

    Emailing my daughter - GirlRecently my college-age daughter Rachel emailed me, asking for help with a problem. Such an event – being rarer than a sighting of Halley’s Comet – calls for all-hands-on-deck-full-throttle parental engagement.  “I’m there for you, Rachel.”

    Thus began an email exchange that I am proud to say profoundly impacted my daughter and our relationship. Her gratitude for my sage advice is evidenced in her words that, well, she couldn’t even put into words how helpful I was.

    Rachel:  Hey, Dad. Wanted to ask you something. My boyfriend Brad and me had a fight. I saw him with my best friend Brianna. They were holding hands. He says she’s just a friend, but I think he’s lying. Should I confront him?

    Me: Thanks for your email, Rachel. I am happy to help. Frankly, this is a common problem for many young people. In fact, your mom often struggled with similar issues when she was your age.

    Here are my suggestions. First, never start a sentence with a verb unless it’s a command. When you write “Wanted to ask you something”, the reader is left wondering: Who wanted to ask me something? My daughter? My boss? A strange man in a tall hat? You never want to leave your reader guessing.

    Also it’s not “Brad and me had a fight.” It’s “Brad and I.”  Me is the objective form of the first person pronoun. In this context, however, you need the subjective form.

    Rachel: Whatever, Dad. I don’t think you understand. I think Brad is cheating on me. Last nite, I texted him. No reply. No idea what he’s up 2. What should I do? Read More…

  • Published On Nov. 13, 2014 by TEJ
  • Always lie to your kids

    Lie to your kids - RachelI love my kids. That’s why, when they were young, I made a point to lie to them every chance I could. As any experienced parent knows, you need to lie to your young, impressionable children to help prepare them for their lives as adults – and to help you forge a trusting relationship with them.

    Parents who care about their young children start lying to them early in their formative development – ideally while their offspring are still in the womb. Don’t wait until they’re in middle school. By then your chronic pattern of honest communication will likely have caused irreparable damage.

    There are many reasons we adults lie to each other: to get out of cleaning the garage despite your wife’s nagging about it for the past three months; to deny that you scarfed down the last piece of your wife’s birthday cake; or maybe to hide the fact that you were really golfing when I, er, I mean you, told the wife you were helping a buddy move. Of course, there are also bad reasons for lying, but at the moment, they escape me.

    But when it comes to children, caring parents know that lying is a way to avoid crushing their kids’ self-esteem. It’s not your job to destroy your child’s hopes and dreams by dispelling the myths of their childhood. That’s their future therapist’s responsibility. Your job is to keep telling your kids whatever you need to, to get them to behave, brush their teeth and maybe, just maybe, not kill the family cat, Bonkers.

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    • Drew, you completely forgot the all important step 3. You "look like' Santa ... of course not YOU Tim …
      Jeanne Whalen
  • Published On Sep. 16, 2014 by TEJ
  • When it came to the journey of parenthood, I took a guilt trip

    Guilty Parent - NapI have a confession to make. While technically speaking, I was raised in a Presbyterian household, I am sure that my parents secretly must have been practicing Catholics. Because for my entire adult life, no matter how hard I tried, I never felt my efforts were good enough. I’ve always felt guilty. Especially when it comes to parenting.

    When our two girls were toddlers, I mainly swung between three emotional states: totally overwhelmed, utterly exhausted and constantly feeling guilty. That guilt was usually caused by my feeling so overwhelmed and exhausted.  When I became so sleep-deprived that I simply had to take a nap, I felt guilty for napping. I mean, a good dad would surely tough it out and watch a Sponge Bob video with the kids – for the 475th time. What kind of dad was I! For shame.

    I felt guilty about my job in a dot-com start-up where for years I routinely worked 75-hour weeks. For some periods, I was essentially an absentee parent until the weekend arrived. And on those rare occasions when I was able to leave work before 6pm, I felt guilty because all the other managers (who were all 15 years younger, single and child-free) would still be there well past 8pm.

    I felt guilty that my wife unfairly bore the burden of most of the household chores, not to mention the 4am feedings and diaper-changes. And by the time I finally got around to pulling my share of changing our girls’ diapers, I felt guilty that it took me so long to pitch in. I suspect that on some level our girls probably resented the delay in my efforts, too, especially because they were seven and six years old by that time.

    Read More…

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  • Published On Jul. 29, 2014 by TEJ
  • When it comes to our kids, winning isn’t everything. Whining is…..

    Winning - Whining girlFor too long, parents have been pushing their kids way too hard by doing outrageous things like telling them they need to get good grades if they want to get into college or harping on them relentlessly to practice piano for 30 minutes a week if they want to improve their skills. . Those parents are monsters!

    When I was a kid playing on various sports teams, year after year, the ruthless message drilled into me was that if you want to win, you have to try hard. And maybe even practice. I internalized this misguided achievement message at an early age. Little did I realize the long-term crippling effect caused by the constant parental pressure to “do your best” as a child. Years later, the damage is evident, as I now have a good-paying job and live in a lovely home in a safe neighborhood that has excellent schools with teachers and coaches who push my kids to do their best. When will this vicious cycle of achievement end?

    I have been as guilty as any parent, always sending the overbearing message to my daughters that if they want to get into a competitive college they might consider putting down their cell phone for two minutes and perhaps studying for tomorrow’s final exam.  In hindsight, I now realize that all this harsh talk about doing their best and applying themselves was actually undermining my kids’ fragile sense of entitlement.

    Finally, a sports league in Canada has gotten its priorities about kids and “winning” figured out. Recently, the Gloucester Dragons Recreational Soccer league of Ottawa, Canada came up with a new rule designed to protect children from the emotional scars of losing in sports. Their new rule? If a team wins a game by more than five goals, that team loses by default. The rule was designed to prevent blowout victories and to encourage good sportsmanship. Hats off to you, Gloucester Dragons Soccer League. Well done.

    Winning - kids playing soccerThe results so far have been impressive. Now, whenever a team goes up by five goals, their players usually stop playing, walk off the field, and head over to the playground to climb on the monkey bars in order to avoid accidentally scoring the losing goal. Now that’s true sportsmanship.

    I applaud the kid-friendly policy of this Canadian youth soccer league. Oh, sure, some people may criticize this new policy as yet further conclusive proof that the USA can beat the crap out of Canada anytime it wants. But I will ardently defend this enlightened new approach. Our kids’ psyches are extremely fragile from the first 18 months of life until the time when they no longer need our emotional and financial support – typically around age 37.

    We need to shelter our children from anything that might damage their self-esteem, such as losing 27 to 0 in a youth soccer match, as happened to nine-year-old Sarah Miller’s team last weekend. Sarah is the goalie. Think of what such a devastating thumping might do to her self-confidence. The last thing little Sarah needs is to internalize that she is a terrible goalie. (Although, as an aside, I have to say, Sarah really sucks at goaltending. She has no business being allowed out of the stands. But please don’t tell her parents you heard it from me.)

    As the Ottawa youth soccer league has taught us by its inspiring example, when it comes to our highly impressionable young children, life should not be about winning and losing, or showing up for practice, or getting cut from the baseball team just because little Jimmy can’t seem to figure out that the pitcher’s mound is not first base. Instead, our jobs as parents should be to protect our precocious angels from the real world that is waiting to beat them into submission.

    That’s why I’ve adopted a totally new parenting approach that focuses on preserving my kids’ belief in their greatness, regardless of evidence to the contrary. In the past, if a teacher gave my child a D on an important math test, I’d probably have a serious chat with my child and ask why she chose to stay up till 1am playing Candy Crush on her cell phone instead of studying for the test.

    But now I realize that such an interrogation might harm my child’s belief about her incredible brilliance. Now, if that same teacher were to give my daughter a D, I’d immediately berate the teacher for unfairly downgrading my child’s score simply because she gave incorrect answers. After all, when it comes to what’s right or wrong on a math text, who’s to say what the real answer is to 12 minus 5? It’s all so subjective. And I would be sure to praise my little princess on her outstanding choice of using a #2 pencil and remind her that she’s still an A+ student in my book.

    Winning - Angry boylChildhood flies by so quickly. You will have plenty of time later on to awaken your kids to the reality that life does not always even up the score to make sure everyone’s a winner. Let someone else teach them that the world does not owe them a six-figure income and a penthouse condo by age 25. Now is the time to remind your young superstar how special they are – even if they just tripped and did a face plant during a soccer game, and did so while only riding the bench.

    So, this summer, if by some act of blatant favoritism your perfect son or daughter does not get picked to play on your neighborhood’s Select soccer team, remember that your child is still incredibly gifted. It’s not your child’s fault that she skipped all the practices and couldn’t be bothered to show up for tryouts. That just means she has more time to work on that perfect tan this summer. She’s going to be a suntan superstar, I just know it.

    That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

    Tim Jones - Profile at Safeco - TinyPS: If you enjoyed this week’s post, let me know by posting a comment, giving it a Like or sharing this post on Facebook.

    © Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2014

    • And we wonder why some children end up living BACK at home when things don't work out at age 28? …
      Charmel Bowden
  • Published On May. 28, 2014 by TEJ
  • Memo to our kids: The family has decided to downsize

    [Author’s note: The following is a memo I plan to send our daughters in three years, when both of them will have graduated from college, informing them that they are now officially responsible for their own lives – and phone bills.]

    Family downsizing - you are firedMEMO TO: Junior members of Jones Family Enterprises

    FROM: Senior Executive Team

    Congratulations to the junior members of Jones Family Enterprises [henceforth JFE] on your recent completion of your undergraduate studies. The Senior Executive Team is confident that your long-term economic forecast is bright. We wish we could say the same for your near-term economic outlook. This memo is to inform you of an important decision the executive committee has made regarding your status on the JFE org chart.

    After a series of challenging years in which JFE has experienced steadily declining economic growth and spiraling costs, primarily in the area of our educational assistance program, the senior management has decided to implement some immediate cost-cutting measures in order to preserve the organization’s long-term cash reserves. This decision has forced us to make difficult personnel decisions to improve efficiencies and eliminate waste.

    Effective immediately, JFE is announcing a 50% reduction in force. As a consequence, we are forced to terminate your roles as fully-funded dependents of this organization and re-classify your status as “non-essential employees.”  We considered all other viable options before coming to this decision, including a recommendation by our firm’s Co-CEO, Ms. Jones, to eliminate my position on the executive steering committee. But that recommendation failed to receive the necessary two-thirds vote required for passage by the two-person executive steering committee.

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    • A pre-warning to both the affected persons from their Grandmother. I agree with Mr Ralph Volk's comments. Said pension …
      Eleanor Rushworth (Yer MiL)
  • Published On May. 22, 2014 by TEJ