April 30th, 2013 - Category: General Parenting
Boys in general are loud, active, physical, and competitive. We tend to try and prevent this behavior, fearing that it will get out of hand. But active behavior is not necessarily aggressive behavior. Many times we punish a boy, just for being a boy. If supervised and taught properly, their roughhouse play can be wholesome and even a positive outlet for their energy.
Provide a Positive Role Model
The best way to raise a great son is for that boy to have a great father. “Men are extremely important in giving boys messages about being a man.” Says Geoffrey and Michael Thompson, in “The Search for Masculinity: Growing Up Masculine”. If there is no father in the home, maybe a grandfather, or an uncle, or even a teacher can be a positive role model for him.
Stop Bad Behavior Immediately
If their play is hurting someone, stop it immediately. Set limits. There is no reason or excuse to hit, bite, or push. And “stop” means stop. Help them find better alternatives to express themselves. Encourage verbal expressions of their feelings. Always follow through with consequences. And punish without being abusive.
Give them Physical Outlets
Let them work. Give them chores to complete. It will build their character and their self-esteem (and release some extra energy). Trust them and give them responsibility and then praise them when they follow through. Help them grow by giving them a job that is a little bit bigger than they think they can handle.
Many problems can be averted by reading and writing. Find areas that they are interested in and encourage them to study them. Support them at school and motivate them to further their education past high school.
Say “yes” more than you say “no”. Give them the space that they need and encourage them to grow. Catch them being good and praise them as often as possible. But most of all, relax, have fun, love him, and show him that you love him!
April 23rd, 2013 - Category: General Parenting
We want our daughters to grow into happy, healthy, beautiful, contributing, women. We want them to walk tall and stand for something. We want them to be smart and self-sufficient. We want them to be better than us. So what can we teach them as young girls that will mold them into strong and capable women?
Show her that you love her…just the way she is.
First and foremost, tell and show your daughter that you love and appreciate her. Praise her not only for what she does but who she is. Let her know that she is a good person. If she feels loved and supported she will have a more positive self image. Do things with her that she likes to do. And expect great things from her.
Shape her Character
Teach her that she is strong and capable and she can do whatever she wants to do and be whomever she wants to be. Teach her to respect herself. Girls that don’t respect themselves have a harder time withstanding peer pressure and standing up for themselves. Help her become involved in doing good by serving. Abraham Lincoln said, “When I do good, I feel good.”
Help her be Self-Sufficient
Teach her to cook and clean and take care of herself and her surroundings. Teach her the value of hard work. Teach her the value of money. Teach her how to run a household.
You’ve heard, “When you educate a girl, you educate a nation.” Teach your daughter to read and write and spell as well as possible. Help her to develop good study habits and a yearning for knowledge. Encourage her to be creative.
Counter negative media with honest messages about her body. Help her establish healthy eating and exercise routines. Don’t compare her to anyone else. Teach her good grooming skills and good manners. Help her confidence grow by accentuating her best features. And everyone looks better with a smile on their face. Be more beautiful by being happy.
Teach her to be Emotionally Stable
Girls are often more emotional than boys. This can be good because it helps them be more expressive, but it can lead to negative “drama”. Help them to have a positive but realistic approach to life. Help them learn to reason and use their common sense. Help them learn discipline and self control, especially when it comes to mood swings.
April 18th, 2013 - Category: General Parenting
You often hear that the biggest investment you will ever make is buying a home. That’s because it’s an emotional experience and involves very critical eyes. Hours of looking on the internet or driving around to see different neighborhoods takes a lot of time and energy and it should because it’s a big decision. In fact, in 2010 the median home price in the U.S was $222,000. That’s a lot of dough to plunk down at once. This is a long-term investment to provide shelter for your family and comes with an expectation if you care for it and improve it you will see appreciation in its value.
Then comes the second largest purchase – your car. According to the National Automobile Dealers Association, the average price of a new car sold in the United States is about $30,000; the average used car is $11,850. Once again, hours searching on the internet, test-drives and time at the dealership quickly adds up. Buying a car is a spendy proposition, but it’s not anywhere near your biggest investment, none the less you have expectations for it to provide your family with reliable transportation for years to come and be worth something when it’s time to replace it.
Most people overlook their biggest investment. It’s one that is larger and more important than either of the previous two investments and it doesn’t come with granite countertops or leather seats.
Your Biggest Investment
Your biggest investment is your KIDS! According to a 2011 USDA report, it costs $295,000 to raise a kid from birth to age 17. And that’s per kid! The sad news is that doesn’t even cover the cost of college. For an in-state 4-year program you can tack on another $68,524 or $154,356 for a private college. Where you live, your income level and the educational institution of choice can all make those numbers even bigger.
This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have kids. It simply means that we need to put these costs into perspective and start treating the price of kids with more attention to detail and a sharper eye on expectation for return.
So, what expectations do you have for the BIGGEST investment you will ever make?
As a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) I have spent my entire career counseling people on how to carefully select investments, pay close attention to them and make sure their portfolios are tweaked for maximum return. My clients have come to expect this type of attention to detail.
If you are like most Americans you don’t have a plan for the investment of your kids because it’s not a one-off transaction. Instead the cost is stretched over a 17-year period, and THAT’S THE PROBLEM. It’s money slipping slowly through our fingers over time. Buying a new pair of pants or another trip to get a haircut – it all slowly adds up.
So now that we know kids are the biggest investment you’ll make, how do you take charge to get the most out of your investment?
1. Make your kids aware
2. Make a conscious effort to share on big ticket financial items
3. Help them enjoy work and money
4. Don’t cultivate entitlement, tie work to reward
5. Consistency counts
Make your kids aware
The days of keeping hush-hush when it comes to finances are over. Ninety-five percent of parents feel it is their responsibility to teach their kids about money, but only 26 percent feel comfortable doing it. To reverse this trend, start with some small steps. Let the kids know how much the electric bill is next month. I did this last summer when our electric bill was over $700. Yes, we live in Arizona and the A/C seems to never turn off in August! However, by letting them know how much it costs, they were more mindful about not leaving the doors open and how they can do their small part to save.
Also, let them know how much it costs to fill the gas tank of the family car. In April of 2011, the average amount American households spent on gas was $368.09. That’s just one month. All that running around from soccer practice to school adds up. There’s a good chance you will get some raised eyebrows when you expose those figures. Kids are smart.
Share on big-ticket items
Make a conscious effort to discuss big-ticket financial items. Don’t be afraid to discuss your home’s value and mortgage with your kids. They can look it up on Zillow anyways, so forget the “50’s” mentality of “we don’t share family money matters with our children”. Start sharing this financial information with them and empower your kids. Don’t leave them in the dark. Kids can feel when there is stress in the home about money, so have a sit-down meeting and discuss openly the issues and work as a family on how to get through the hard times. Maybe it’s sacrificing the skiing trip or skipping dinner out on the weekends.
Once their eyes are opened to the costs of running a family and what it looks like to budget you’ll be surprised at how quickly they start learning how to make better money decisions. You’ll also start hearing things like, “Dad, that is a total rip off! Let’s not buy it here when we can get it cheaper somewhere else!”. These skills will last a lifetime. Get your kids to participate.
Help your kids enjoy work and money
Getting through college takes a lot of hard work, but studies show it pays off. Median income for someone with a bachelor’s degree is $54,756. Compare that to $33,176 for a high school diploma. If you do the math on this over a 35 year career that’s an additional $740,000. For a master’s degree you can add another $400,000 over a career. That’s a pretty good return on some hard work if learned early. If kids are held to a high standard when it comes to helping around the house, being diligent in their studies or staying on top of their piano lessons they will learn to enjoy work. Will you hear some complaining along the way? Definitely, but it will be worth it.
Don’t cultivate entitlement, tie work to reward
When it comes to paying kids for their work, there is plenty of debate. The bottom line is that you can call it what you want: allowance, commission, work-pay, whatever… but it needs to be tied to family contribution and it needs to teach your kids something about work ethic. Giving allowance not tied to contribution only encourages the entitlement mentality. We do not need any more of that! Adults work to earn money so kids should learn this expectation as well. Have you ever been on a job interview where the employer offers you a salary and then never expects you to show up to work? It’s not reality and your kids should learn that early.
Don’t feel like you have to pay your kids for every little thing they do around the house. Of course some things are expected, but if it is above the call of duty make it worth it. As they work and you pay them for it, it will create meaningful conversations about contribution, hard work and how to make good financial decisions with their money, such as how much they should save, spend or share. Give your kids some jobs around the house where they not only earn a little money, but they can develop a good work ethic. Don’t let your kids sit around and plays video games all day and never learn how to contribute and become responsible. It’s a life lesson and one parents are responsible for teaching. Get them off the couch and let their potential blossom! If you let them sit on the couch don’t be surprised if they’re still there when their 30! There is no better place to teach good money management lessons then in your own home.
Don’t be hard-core one day and the next let everything slide. Stay strong and don’t give in. Once your kids learn your new resolve they begin accepting it as part of the routine where accountability and responsibly become a normal expectation. Repetition is the key to learning. Start them early with chores and family activities around the house that will help them learn how to be smart with money from a young age. This will pay big dividends down the road for them personally and for society as a whole.
Your kids truly are the BIGGEST investment you’ll ever make. The return on that investment won’t be seen immediately, but you’ll see glimmers of it as they grow. They’ll gain personal accountability, confidence and financial freedom. When kids leave home and know how to live within their means and not get suckered into bad financial products like high fee bank accounts and credit cards with hidden charges, when they know how to budget and talk about finances you’ll know without a doubt your investment paid off. We must pay more attention to our kids and inspire them to reach their potential. Raising your kids has a big price tag, but it’s worth every dime, especially when you start to see your return on investment and the responsible citizen they’ve become.
April 16th, 2013 - Category: General Parenting
Is dessert the fun food in your house? Do your kids skim over their meal just to get to dessert? Or, maybe they just shove everything around (or feed some to the dog) to make you think that they have eaten enough of the “healthy stuff” so you’ll agree that it’s time for dessert? What can you do to shift the scale and have happy vegetable eaters at your table?
It is recommended that half of your child’s plate be filled with fruits and vegetables. Studies show that 22% of kids ages 2-5 meet these requirements, 16% of 6-11 year olds, and only 11% of kids ages 12-18 eat their recommended amount of fruits and vegetables a day.
Here are some ideas of ways to encourage your kids to eat more vegetables.
Make it Fun – Prepare fruits and vegetables in a fun way. Cut them into shapes with cookie cutters or make pictures out of them. Give your produce silly names like “mini trees” for broccoli. And anything mini, is always fun to eat. Here are a couple of sites that I thought had some neat and fun ways to prepare your fruits and vegetables.
Let Them Help – Kids love to go shopping. Let them pick out the firmest cucumbers or the best smelling cantaloupe. And when you get home, let them pick out what’s for dinner and help prepare it as well. They may have more satisfaction eating it when they put some work into preparing it.
Explain What Healthy Is – Give them the details of the food you are eating. I bet you’ll be surprised exactly what they are able to understand as far as calories, fat, and sugar content. Make it clear why we try to eat more healthy and what happens to your body when you don’t.
Make it a Game - Have a goal to introduce one new food every week. Prepare it in different ways and see what everyone likes the best.
Make Healthy an Easy Option – Single serving packages of chips and cookies are usually the first to disappear from my pantry because they are easy to grab and go. Instead prepare bags of cut vegetables, applesauce, or fruit cups that can easily be grabbed and they are more likely to be eaten as well.
Eat Healthy Yourself – Kids tend to mimic their parents. If they see you eating healthy, it probably won’t be long until they are trying…and liking what you eat.
And if all else fails.
Hide Them! – Be creative with the addition of hidden fruits and vegetables in your meals.
April 9th, 2013 - Category: My Job Chart
My Job Chart continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Our founder, Gregg Murset, recently took a trip to Hawaii and was honored to appear on the CBS morning show!
April 2nd, 2013 - Category: Behavior Advice
How many times have you heard the words “They did it, not me!” as your child points toward their sibling? If you have a 5-10 year old, probably often.
Most parents don’t like it when their kids are constantly telling on each other. Instead, we would prefer them to learn problem solving skills when it comes to sibling rivalry. We also want them to take responsibility for their own actions and deal with the consequences.
Tattling and finger pointing waste time. It hurts the whole family and causes an atmosphere of defensiveness. And in the end, it makes the problem that much more difficult to solve.
Understanding why children tattle, can help us diffuse the situation better next time. Maria Montessori found that children tattle because they are trying to figure out the difference between right and wrong. The result is, they have to question everything.
Between first and second grade is a prime time for this stage of development.
When children tattle, they are looking for a confirmation that the thing they are tattling about is wrong. They don’t need to see a punishment imposed on the offender, they just need to know if their anger toward the other person for the wrongdoing is justified.
Helping our children understand the differences between “Tattling” and “Reporting” can help them in the thought process of whether or not they should come to you to tell.
You can use the following lists when discussing this with your child.
It’s purpose is to keep people safe
They need help from an adult to solve the problem
It is about something important
It could be a harmful, dangerous, or threatening situation
The bad behavior is purposeful
It’s purpose is to try to get someone in trouble
They usually can handle the situation by themselves
It’s not really important
It is a harmless situation
The behavior is accidental
If we can understand why our kids are tattling and help them understand when the situation deserves your attention, hopefully, we’ll have less tattling and more time to give them the good attention they deserve.