If You Have 4th-8th Graders…

26 02 2015

…you should watch this 2-minute video that explains “early adolescence” and the need for doing things a little differently.





Living on 1 Dollar Per Day

10 02 2015

Young people in America need to know more about real poverty, and this video is possibly the best I have ever seen at getting kids to relate to abject poverty. It’s entertaining and educational. They pack a lot of information and experiences into just 28 minutes. Plus, it’s appropriate for kids age 11 and up, since there are no deeply disturbing images.

 

Discussion Questions for Kids

1. How would you describe these men and their lifestyle in America?

2. Why do you think they decided to set such strict rules for their time in Haiti?

3. Does this sort of adventure appeal to you in any way? In what ways?

4. What would worry you the most about living in a tent in Haiti for a month?

5. How tolerant are you of being hungry and eating only simple foods like rice and beans?

6. What is the longest you have ever been hungry? Describe that time.

7. Describe the most grueling physical work you have ever done. What was it? How long did you work? Did you get paid (or fed or anything) for your work?

8. What part of this 28 day experience do you find most intimidating or terrifying? Explain why.

 





Parenting is Regulating

29 01 2015

Every parent should regulate their children’s behavior until they are ready to regulate their own. It will likely be a 20-year process, which starts with full regulatory control of the infant and ends with total release of all control at adulthood.

What does it mean “to regulate?” In grammatical terms, t is a transitive verb, meaning that a subject rules or governs another object by adjusting the time, amount, degree, or rate of something upon the object.

Let’s take food, for example. An infant has no idea how to handle his hunger pains, can’t make decisions about food, and can’t feed himself. It is the parent’s job to fully control the diet of the child. The twenty-year old, on the other hand, should have mature eating habits within his full control: when to eat, what to eat, how much, how to shop, how to cook, how to balance his nutrition with exercise, etc.

In all things, a parent should govern the life of a child to keep them healthy, safe, and growing up well, by adjusting the forces that are upon and within the child. It’s a non-stop task for the parent of an infant or for the parent of a disabled child. However, a parent of an able-bodied 20 year old should not have to do any governing.

In fact, a 20 year old should be able to help others regulate themselves. He should be able to be the leader and teacher. He should be the subject, not the object of the sentence. He is the doer, not the receiver.

Some people call it “the launch,” which may be between 18 and 22. Perhaps it’s later due to a disability. No matter. Parents must never forget that it is their job to one day launch their child into the world to be an independent person who can lead and teach others.

So, what is your vision for your children’s future? And what are you doing now to help them become independent? Are you letting them fly on their own in some areas? Are you training them to regulate themselves, step by step? Are you giving them real responsibilities?

Cleaning-House-1-193x300As a teacher of 7th grade students, I can tell that very few of them have chores. Almost none have real jobs around the house. Their responsibilities are schoolwork, sports, and / or some kind of artistic endeavor. Those are all good things, but I believe that chores are still necessary, no matter the age, even though 99% of Americans don’t live on a farm. Kids need to do real work. For much more on how to get kids to pitch in around the house, I recommend the book Cleaning House.

Our kids need to feel needed around the house, not just for affection, but for solving problems.

May your children become self-regulators, and may you teach them to be capable, confident, and courageous in facing problems.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





The Power of Kindness

20 01 2015

Josh was a normal teenager whose father died. His mother moved them from their home in the country to the city, with the hope that a fresh start would improve their lives.

But Josh was ridiculed in his new school for no good reason. In fact, he was ridiculed for a horrible reason.

Instead of responding with hatred or melting into melancholy, Josh chose to be kind. To everyone. Simply kind. And his world changed.

Josh’s kind strength is what our boys and girls should imitate in their own ways.





Advice for Middle School Kids

15 01 2015

Recently, I asked my Facebook friends to give me advice for my 7th graders. Here’s what my friends have learned in their 30 years of growing up since 7th grade.

  • Be cool to everyone because there’s a good chance you will either marry, work with, or work for one of them one day.
  • “It’s not about the shoes, it’s about what you can do in them.” – Michael Jordan
  • The stuff you are worried about is probably the wrong stuff.
  • Everywhere you go, leave it better than you found it.
  • Sometimes it’s best to just take the butt whoopin’ you deserve and move on.
  • The prettiest girls are the ones you don’t notice right away.
  • The measure of success you hold now won’t be the same in 20 years. Be good to everyone. Many who aren’t “successful” now will be very successful in 20 years.
  • If you want to know what you are like, look around at the people you hang with.
  • You can pick you friends, you can pick your nose, but don’t ever ever pick your friend’s nose.
  • The person who chooses not to read is no better off than the person who can’t read.
  • Manners matter! Always.
  • How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
  • Some days you are the dog, and some days you are the fire hydrant. That’s life.
  • There is no such thing as normal…it is only a setting on the dryer.
  • Never miss a good chance to shut up.
  • “20 years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Leave the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sail. Explore. Discover. Dream.” ~ Mark Twain
  • Those who hate you don’t win, unless you hate them back.
  • Sometimes you just have to accept that “It is what it is” and sometimes you should fight it. Pray for the wisdom to know the difference.
  • “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou




Chasing Health

5 01 2015

GoodHealthChoicesIf you are a parent of young children or teens, then you cannot afford to be unhealthy. Futures depend on your personal health. For many of us, it feels like chasing after the wind.

My wife and I are in our mid-forties, and our health is not even close to what it used to be, even though we live a relatively healthy lifestyle. We eat healthy. We exercise. We are not overweight and don’t smoke. Sometimes it seems futile, but it’s just mid-life. We can do the right things, and yet our bodies are just going to be breaking down from here on out.

In this second half of life, there are some things that just won’t heal, that lifestyle won’t fix. Neither my eyes nor my ears will be getting better, no matter how healthy I try to live. It’s just decay. We get wrinkles, cysts, and gray hair.

In addition to the natural aging process, stress is slowly killing most 40-somethings. The responsibilities are often overwhelming, and the daily output of energy is rarely enough to keep pace with all the work and family activities. And while there are some effective techniques for dealing with stress, many of us have far more stress than can be counterbalanced by meditation, prayer, exercise, etc.

Don’t get me wrong. We are not giving in and giving up. In fact, we are doing what we can to fix the problems and improve our lifestyle to improve our long term health. We CAN become more healthy this year than last.

Medical-Office-Buildings-wpckiBut there is no denying it. It’s an uphill battle, and the hills are getting steeper each year. At 44, we may have another 44 years left. Maybe even 54. Even if it’s just 24 years left, we have a lot of living ahead of us, and our kids have a lot of growing up to do.

They need us for their teenage years and college years, when they are learning to be an adult. But especially now. They need us to be physically and mentally healthy right now. This year. Remember, futures depend on our personal health, and it takes intentionality to be healthy at this age. And many of our choices can improve our health significantly.

So, what are the top three things that you could do this year that would most improve your physical and mental health?

1. ________________________________________

2. ________________________________________

3. ________________________________________

If you won’t do it for you, then do it for them. They need you. The healthy you.





Peace in the Parenting Journey

11 12 2014

Being a parent is overwhelming in mid-December, when everybody’s activities and pressures are multiplying. During the holidays, our expectation of family life is heightened along with our kids’ sense of entitlement and their frustrations with school. Arguments are common this time of year. Perhaps a few lumps of coal belong in some stockings. It’s a time of year when we doubt ourselves as parents.

The journey of parenting is far too long and dangerous to warrant any amount of comfort. Deep down we know that any number of things can get sideways in a hurry, and far too many of those things are beyond our control.

So, how do we know if we are on the right path? How do we know if we are making any progress?

Salesmen can gauge success with sales figures, bar graphs, and commissions. Coaches can measure success with wins, losses, statistics, and championships. But parents labor daily without any quantifiers of success.

Mom and sonSome might say that a good apple falls from a good tree, but it’s not as simple as looking at the immediate results of children. After all, we all know a few stable, loving parents who use good parenting techniques but have a child who doesn’t seem to be turning out so well. Conversely, we all know a few unstable families, and yet some of their kids seem to be flourishing. Some kids rebel, no matter what their parents do, while other kids succeed, in spite of all sorts of family dysfunction. In addition, many kids simply take more time to mature than others, in spite of all the efforts of their parents.

We cannot use the current status of a child to accurately measure the success of a parent. It’s not fair to the child or to the parent. As a middle school teacher, I have learned that you cannot judge a person on their 7th grade year. Well, pick any year, for that matter. It’s not fair to judge anyone on a short era in their history. Kids should all come with visible birthmarks that read: “Work in Progress.”

In addition, there is no other measure that satisfies the question: “Am I actually parenting really well?” Read the rest of this entry »








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