Tag: parenting

Why good parents have naughty children

This made me smile, then it made me think. Our children are offspring of a current teacher and a former teacher. What difference does our structure and rules make to their happiness?

This article from the ongoing Book of Life compares and contrasts two families. The first is what would generally be regarded as a ‘good’ family, where the children are well-behaved and interactions pleasant. However:

In Family One the so-called good child has inside them a whole range of emotions that they keep out of sight not because they want to but because they don’t feel they have the option to be tolerated as they really are. They feel they can’t let their parents see if they are angry or fed up or bored because it seems as if the parents have no inner resources to cope with their reality; they must repress their bodily, coarser, more volatile selves. Any criticism of a grown up is (they imagine) so wounding and devastating that it can’t be uttered.

The second family is the opposite, but:

In Family Two the so-called bad child knows that things are robust. They feel they can tell their mother she’s a useless idiot because they know in their hearts that she loves them and that they love her and that a bout of irritated rudeness won’t destroy that. They know their father won’t fall apart or take revenge for being mocked. The environment is warm and strong enough to absorb the child’s aggression, anger, dirtiness or disappointment.

As a parent, I’m torn between, on the one hand wanting my children to be a bit rebellious. But, on the other hand, it’s just really inconvenient when they are…

We should learn to see naughty children, a few chaotic scenes and occasional raised voices as belonging to health rather than delinquency – and conversely learn to fear small people who cause no trouble whatsoever. And, if we have occasional moments of happiness and well-being, we should feel especially grateful that there was almost certainly someone out there in the distant past who opted to look through the eyes of love at some deeply unreasonable and patently unpleasant behaviour from us.

Source: The Book of Life

Creating media, not just consuming it

My wife and I are fans of Common Sense Media, and often use their film and TV reviews when deciding what to watch as a family. In their newsletter, they had a link to an article about strategies to help kids create media, rather than just consume it:

Kids actually love to express themselves, but sometimes they feel like they don’t have much of a voice. Encouraging your kid to be more of a maker might just be a matter of pointing to someone or something they admire and giving them the technology to make their vision come alive. No matter your kids’ ages and interests, there’s a method and medium to encourage creativity.

They link to apps for younger and older children, and break things down by what kind of kids you’ve got. It’s a cliché, but nevertheless true, that every child is different. My son, for example, has just given up playing the piano, but loves making electronic music:

Most kids love music right out of the womb, so transferring that love into creation isn’t hard when they’re little. Banging on pots and pans is a good place to start — but they can take that experience with them using apps that let them play around with sound. Little kids can start to learn about instruments and how sounds fit together into music. Whether they’re budding musicians or just appreciators, older kids can use tools to compose, stay motivated, and practice regularly. And when tweens and teens want to start laying down some tracks, they can record, edit, and share their stuff.

The post is chock-full of links, so there’s something for everyone. I’m delighted to be able to pair it with a recent image Amy shared in our Slack channel which lists the rules she has for her teenage daughter around screentime. I’d like to frame it for our house!

Source: Common Sense Media

Image: Amy Burvall (you can hire her)

Using VR with kids

I’ve seen conflicting advice regarding using Virtual Reality (VR) with kids, so it’s good to see this from the LSE:

Children are becoming aware of virtual reality (VR) in increasing numbers: in autumn 2016, 40% of those aged 2-15 surveyed in the US had never heard of VR, and this number was halved less than one year later. While the technology is appealing and exciting to children, its potential health and safety issues remain questionable, as there is, to date, limited research into its long-term effects.

I have given my two children (six and nine at the time) experience of VR — albeit in limited bursts. The concern I have is about eyesight, mainly.

As a young technology there are still many unknowns about the long-term risks and effects of VR gaming, although Dubit found no negative effects from short-term play for children’s visual acuity, and little difference between pre- and post-VR play in stereoacuity (which relies on good eyesight for both eyes and good coordination between the two) and balance tests. Only 2 of the 15 children who used the fully immersive head-mounted display showed some stereoacuity after-effects, and none of those using the low-cost Google Cardboard headset showed any. Similarly, a few seemed to be at risk of negative after-effects to their balance after using VR, but most showed no problems.

There’s some good advice in this post for VR games/experience designers, and for parents. I’ll quote the latter:

While much of a child’s experience with VR may still be in museums, schools or other educational spaces under the guidance of trained adults, as the technology becomes more available in domestic settings, to ensure health and safety at home, parents and carers need to:

  • Allow children to preview the game on YouTube, if available.
  • Provide children with time to readjust to the real world after playing, and give them a break before engaging with activities like crossing roads, climbing stairs or riding bikes, to ensure that balance is restored.
  • Check on the child’s physical and emotional wellbeing after they play.

There’s a surprising lack of regulation and guidance in this space, so it’s good to see the LSE taking the initiative!

Source: Parenting for a Digital Future

Life in likes

England’s Children’s Commissioner has released a report entitled ‘Life in Likes’ which has gathered lots of attention in my networks. This, despite the fact that during the research they only talked to only 32 children. I used to teach over 250 kids a week! 32 is a class size, not a representative sample.

This article includes quotations from parents, such as this one:

Parent Trevor said his 12-year-old twin daughters had moved schools as a result of the pressure from social media, but admits they “can’t walk away” from it.

He told BBC Radio 5 live: “I can’t say to them, ‘You can’t use that,’ when I use it.”

Yes you can. My kids see me drink alcohol but it doesn’t mean I let them have it. My son has a smartphone with an app lock on the Google Play store so he can’t install apps without my permission.

The solution to this stuff does involve basic digital skills, but mainly what’s lacking here are parenting skills, I think.

Source: BBC News

Nobody likes a goody two-shoes

This is an incredible entry in the School of Life’s Book of Life:

The sickness of the good child is that they have no experience of other people being able to tolerate their badness. They have missed out a vital privilege accorded to the healthy child; that of being able to display envious, greedy, egomaniacal sides and yet be tolerated and loved nevertheless.

I know, and have know, plenty of people who are amazing exam-takers and are fantastic at doing what society expects of them. Unfortunately, that’s not a great preparation for when life throws you curveballs.

At work, the good adult has problems too. As a child, they follow the rules; never make trouble and take care not to annoy anyone. But following the rules won’t get you very far in adult life. Almost everything that’s interesting, worth doing or important will meet with a degree of opposition. A brilliant idea will always disappoint certain people – and yet very much be worth holding on to. The good child is condemned to career mediocrity and sterile people-pleasing.

As a parent of two strong-willed and feisty children, there’s plenty to ponder here.

Source: The Book of Life

What to tell your kids about Santa Claus

My kids, who are ten and six years of age respectively, blatantly don’t believe in Father Christmas. After leaving out a mince pie and glass of whisky last night, they asked this morning whether I’d enjoyed it!

As a church-going family, it’s never been a huge deal as to whether Santa Claus is literally real. Christmas isn’t really about a guy in a red suit furtively climbing down an impossible number of chimneys.

What to tell your children, and when to admit that Father Christmas doesn’t really exist, is still awkward, however. Although there’s a twinkle in my eye when I talk to them about ‘him’, I still haven’t admitted that it’s really me filling the up the stockings at the end of their bed each year.

In this article, Maria Popova quotes the cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead, who read her own children stories about Santa Claus legends from many different countries. The difference between ‘literal’ and ‘poetic’ truth is an important one. Especially this year. And particularly at Christmas.

Disillusionment about the existence of a mythical and wholly implausible Santa Claus has come to be a synonym for many kinds of disillusionment with what parents have told children about birth and death and sex and the glory of their ancestors. Instead, learning about Santa Claus can help give children a sense of the difference between a “fact” — something you can take a picture of or make a tape recording of, something all those present can agree exists — and poetic truth, in which man’s feelings about the universe or his fellow men is expressed in a symbol.

Source: Brain Pickings

The upside of kids watching Netflix instead of TV

In our house, on the (very) rare occasions we’re watching live television that includes advert breaks, I mute the sound and do a humourous voice-over…

With more homes than ever becoming ‘Netflix Only’ homes, we wanted to see how many hours of commercials kids in these homes are being spared. We were able to determine that kids in ‘Netflix Only’ homes are saved from just over 230 hours of commercials a year when compared to traditional television viewership homes.

Source: Exstreamist