want-want-want, spend-spend-spend trap that has been set for them. In this kind of atmosphere, how are parents to teach their children the value of saving?
Just as teaching a child to choose healthy foods starts at a very young age, helping a child learn how to save should also start early. As soon as children become aware of the process of exchanging money for items they want, they are ready to understand the basics of saving. Because very young kids live in the “now”, don’t start out with expectations of building a college savings with them—they simply can’t identify with goals that are so far-reaching.
Start with a Moneybox
Instead, start with a little moneybox where they can see the coins they deposit. With my three kids, I taught them from an early age to save for a special toy or small outing—something that can be accomplished within a few weeks. As a result, one of my son Dylan’s favorite toys remains the Anakin Skywalker figure from Star Wars, because it was the first toy he worked towards buying with his own money.
Match their Savings
To spur the excitement, parents can match their savings. For every quarter the child puts into the bank, the parents also deposit one. Kids see their savings build quickly that way. It also helps reinforce the value of saving. You are in essence rewarding them for their attempt to save money. You might tape a picture of what they are saving for next to the
bank to help them stay focused on why they are saving. Where does their money come from? Simple, with my three I keep a chart with stickers next to the fridge, which they earn for keeping their toys picked up or for helping out with other little daily chores. This reward system lets them learn as they earn. Be creative and make this fun for both the kids and adults.
Open a bank account
By the time children are in third or fourth grade, they may be ready to open a bank account. It can be very disturbing to a child who is used to seeing their money accumulate in their moneybox to have it suddenly disappear. So, it is up to the parents to teach them how banks work. Their money is being kept some place safe; but it is still theirs! When Dylan was ready to get started we made a point of visiting our local bank so he could see the building in which his money would be kept.
Make interest the reward
Just as you matched their funds when they were younger, you can make a plan to chip into their savings. Interest rates are so low now, it is difficult for children to see their savings build, so this extra reward for saving helps keep their focus.
Sit down and discuss with your kids what portion of their allowance should be put in their savings. Set a minimum percentage that is always devoted to their account. They can always put in more, but should be discouraged from putting in less. You may also want to set rules for withdrawals and the minimum amount kept in the account.
The older kids get, the easier it is for them to plan for a goal further in the future. By their early high school years at the latest, they should be setting their sights on college savings and it is something I will be encouraging in my brood. Statistics show that young savers are more likely to go to college, even if that isn’t what they are saving for!
Courtesy of Motivated magazine; used with permission. Photo from www.seniorliving.org; used under CC-SA license.
By Beverly K. Bachel, adapted
Most of us think about what we want to accomplish and set goals for our
lives. But are our kids doing the same? It’s fun for kids to imagine the
amazing things they might achieve someday—but are they doing anything
right now to make their dreams come true? There’s no better time than
the present to help our kids become real goal-getters. Anyone can learn
to set goals, and research shows that kids who set goals feel better about
themselves; have increased motivation; get better grades; and are more
satisfied with their lives.
Here are 10 tips to help kids get on the goal-setting track and into the fast lane to
reaching their dreams:
1. Make them SMART. Make sure kids’ goals are:
Not-so-SMART Goal: “Get an A+ in math.”
SMART Goal: “Boost my math grade by at least one letter by the end of the semester.”
Not-so-SMART Goal: “Get a new bike.”
SMART Goal: “Save up for a new bike by the end of the year.”
2. Write them down. Have kids write their goals and the date by which they want to
achieve them on a piece of paper. Have them post it on their wall, on the computer, on the refrigerator, or somewhere else where they’ll see it often.
3. Think positively. Attitude is everything when it comes to kids’ future success. Help
them make a list of their good qualities, remember compliments, and appreciate what
they have. Also remember that if kids see a good example of a can-do attitude, they’ll be more likely to think positively.
4. Find time. Help kids cut down on time wasters, like watching TV, surfing the
Internet, or talking on the phone, so they can free up time to focus on their goal.
5. Take 10. Set a kitchen timer or stopwatch for 10 minutes and encourage kids to use that time to work on their goals. They may find themselves motivated to keep working on their goal even after the 10 minutes are up.
6. Give a reward. When kids take a step toward their goal, reward them with a movie,
their favorite meal, a weekend off from their chores, or another affordable incentive that will keep them motivated.
7. Visualize success. Minds produce what they dwell on. If kids see themselves
reaching their goals with ease, they’ll be far more likely to succeed. Ask questions at
dinner or while driving them to school to get them talking about their goals.
8. Set “anti-deadlines.” These are the opposite of rewards. Have kids tell
themselves, “If I don’t do it by 5 p.m. I can’t go out with my friends tonight.”
9. Ask for help. Let kids know they don’t have to do it alone and that people in their
lives (family, friends, teachers, coaches) will want to help in whatever ways they can.
Offer to introduce them to a role model or take them on a field trip to learn more about a career they’re interested in.
10. Be a role model. If we talk to kids about our goals and the steps we take to
accomplish them, and they see us following through on our commitments, they’ll be
more likely to do the same.
Article courtesy of Motivated magazine. Used with permission.
Parents teach their children how to read, ride a bike and tie their shoes because they know their kids will rely on these important skills throughout life. For exactly the same reason, they should also teach their children how to be frugal.
But parents must be careful how they approach these lessons. Going overboard with frugality can send the wrong message. Think twice before buying cheap raisin bran cereal in bulk and spending hours picking out the raisins -- as one Reddit user did with his son -- simply because it's cheaper than individual boxes of raisins. Doing so probably won't be a cherished childhood memory for your kid.
Lecturing your child to be frugal might not be much better. No matter how many times you explain that turning the lights off after leaving a room will lower the electricity bill, it's unlikely to get the job done.
"The most important thing is parents need to lead by example," says Dr. Taliba Foster, a child psychiatrist who has a private practice in Ardmore, Pa., a suburb of Philadelphia. "Being frugal is more of a lifestyle, not a lesson. It has to be part of the family lifestyle."
Instead of telling your child that saving money is a good habit, show them why and how. Delaying gratification is one way to show kids the benefits of saving money. Take the money you would use buying a toy that your children beg for at the store and save it for a family vacation several months down the road.
Parents have many other ways to teach their children about saving money. Here are 10 easy lessons you should try:
Set a savings goal. By itself, a savings goal doesn't sound like much of a way to be frugal. But a goal, such as saving for a vacation to Disneyland, can be a way to get kids to see the benefits of saving money for other purposes. Foster, who has an 8-year-old daughter, says she uses this when her daughter wants something at the store. If they decide it's a "want" instead of a "need," Foster will point out that the money would be better saved by the family for a Disneyland vacation.
Since children want to please an authority figure during preadolescence, it's a key time to try to teach them smart financial habits, she says. "Right now, they're really ripe for following rules, the difference between right and wrong," Foster says.
Get a library card. Going to the library to check out books and DVDs is a habit every family can use to save money. It saves on buying books and renting movies, even though it may take a few weeks on a waiting list to get the latest releases.
Kristen Hagopian, a talk-show host in Philadelphia with two children, ages 9 and 6, estimates that a family of four will spend $720 a year if they share a tub of popcorn and two large sodas while watching a movie at the theater once a month. The same family will spend $180 a year, she says, if they buy a $15 DVD each month. Watching movies for free at home is clearly a lot cheaper.
No drinks. When you do go out to eat, show your children the price difference when you order water with your meal instead of buying a drink like soda, juice or lemonade. Jamie Ratner, founder of Certifikid.com, a deal site for parents, says she never ordered drinks when she was growing up. Now when she takes her children, ages 4 and 6, out to restaurants they have free water. "We save a fortune on our tabs at meals just by getting water," Ratner says.
Price comparison. Showing a child that time is worth money can be difficult, but comparison shopping can help get that message across to them. The more money saved, the less you'll have to work for that money. The less you have to work, the more time you can spend with your family or doing other things you enjoy.
"Teaching your child that their time is a currency, just like money, can be very powerful," says Denise Winston of Bakersfield, Calif., who owns the website MoneyStartHere.com. "Taking a few minutes to research a product to find the best price, and if it gets good reviews, translates into money saved that you don't have to earn. This also helps you plan for purchases and teaches delayed gratification."
Shop from the low shelves. The grocery store is full of money lessons, and is an excellent place to practice math skills. Sherry Thomas of Boca Raton, Fla., president of Palm Beach Etiquette, a life skills training business, says she used supermarkets to teach her children, now 17 and 19, to find the best bargains on the lower shelves.
"The supermarkets make more money if you purchase what costs more," Thomas says. "We tend to buy what is within our sightline. So, if we don't see it, we don't buy it. Thus, the savings are usually lower on shelves that are more difficult to see."
She also had her children pick up a 1-pound bag of rice and a 2-pound bag, comparing which would cost less for the long term. Sometimes two 8-ounce cans of a particular food costs less than one 16-ounce can, for example.
Stay organized. Leaving piles of things around the house not only leads families to become messy and disorganized, but it can also cost them money. Teaching your children the habit of putting clothes, toys and other items where they belong helps you keep track of your belongings, which saves you money because you don't have to replace them or buy more stuff because you can't find what they already own, says Sarah Mooers, a professional organizer who owns a business called Organized Efficiency in Ambler, Penn.
"In one small office, I reorganized their stationery and supplies closet, and their spending on stationery went down dramatically for six months while they worked off the piles of paper and envelopes they didn't even know they had," says Mooers, whose children are 8 and 3. "The same is true in homes -- women who cannot find all their winter shoes when winter rolls around again have to go out and buy new ones."
Save a little of everything you earn. It can be as simple as having a family coin jar that everyone drops their change into at the end of the day so they can save for a meal out. Or it can mean taking your child to the bank each week to deposit half of an allowance into his or her savings account.
Ozeme Bonnette of Fresno, Calif., has been saving a portion of everything she earns as part of a family lesson her grandfather started by teaching her dad when he was a boy. The savings lesson has helped family members afford buying something on a whim or handle an emergency. Bonnette's daughter, 10, saves 10 percent of her weekly allowance and money she gets at birthdays and Christmas, which has helped her amass hundreds of dollars in savings.
Thrift store shopping. Like shopping at a grocery store, shopping for deals at thrift stores, yard sales and flea markets can be frugal lessons that will stick with kids even after they become an adult. Kenyetta Kelley, owner of Luvvy Public Relations, doesn't have children yet, but says she learned as a kid how to find quality, long-lasting items at thrift stores.
"I do remember buying children's books as a kid at these places, but I didn't enjoy going back then as much as I do now," says Kelley, who lives in Dothan, Ala.
Set an allowance. As soon as children can grasp the concept of an allowance -- for some, this is as young as age 3 or 4 -- it's a good idea to have them to do chores at home so that they learn the responsibilities of being part of a family, says Kim Abraham, a mental health therapist in Flint, Mich., who specializes in treating families and children. Abraham gives her children "responsibilities" not "chores," and they're paid for as much work as they do.
If they're not earning money, children can get a sense of entitlement from parents who enjoy the good feeling of giving them something, she says. "The only thing the child is learning is the joy of receiving," Abraham says.
The worst case is raising a child who is either too dependent on their parents for everything and never wants to move out of the house, or an independent child who doesn't have empathy and doesn't work well on a team.
"What we really, really want is to raise interdependent people" who trust others and work well with them, she says. Earning an allowance with responsibilities at home can help get them there, she says.
Don't buy something just because it's on sale. If you don't need something, it's not a bargain. Instead of saving 50 percent when something's on sale, save 100 percent by not buying it at all. It's a lesson that Alina Adams, who writes about being frugal in New York City for Examiner.com, has instilled in her children, ages 14, 10 and 7.
"My grandfather used to say, 'When they have a 100 percent sale, call me,'" says Adams, who first encountered the concept of sales and having a choice in what to buy when she emigrated from the Soviet Union to the United States in the 1970s. Her children now accept the lesson.
"They've internalized it to a point where, when one says they 'need' something, another will pipe up to say, 'Or do you just want it,'" Adams says. "And then, when we decide the item isn't really necessary, one of them will observe, 'We've saved 100 percent!'"
Of all of these frugal lessons, maybe the best is to value time, not just monetarily, but with the time you're able to spend with your children. It's invaluable and spending time with your children teaching them smart money habits, instead of buying them a book or new gadget, is time well spent.
Courtesy of Yahoo News
I am a CEO. I do not have a special parking place. I do not get bonuses. As a matter of fact, I haven’t had a paycheck in 12 years. My job description includes landscaping, house cleaning, accounting, shopping, and general clerical work. But my job-critical tasks are teaching, counseling, nurturing, and disciplining.
I am not always popular. But that’s okay because it is not part of my job to be popular. I am my Children’s Executive Officer.
I’ve been entrusted with raising three children to be adults. It’s not vitally important that they become successful in the way that we often define success—lots of money, fame, a specific career. But I do want them to succeed in the way Webster describes it, “to turn out well.”
I heard a mom say recently, “I don’t have time to discipline.” Of course we’ve all had moments when we’ve caved in. But a key part of helping my children to turn out well is to teach them that there are consequences for both good and bad behavior.
For instance, I was in the grocery store with my then 3-½ year old. He was in a phase of not wanting people to look at him. But how were these poor shoppers to know that! Of course, a woman looked at him and he stuck his tongue out at her. I asked him to apologize. He said no. I took the cookie out of his hand and again explained that that was not acceptable behavior and asked him to apologize. Nothing doing.
This saint of a woman, perhaps a veteran parent herself, patiently stood by supporting our Public Behavior 101 class. This went on and on for at least a couple of minutes until he finally apologized. I thanked her for her patience and turned my back from him to get some English muffins.
At that point he declared so the store could hear, “I don’t like you, Mom.” I turned back to him and calmly said, “You don’t have to like me, you just need to obey me.” The man stacking bread on the shelves said, “Wow, that’s good…. I like that.”
Discipline, which Webster describes in part as “to train or develop by instruction and exercise, especially in self-control” is a large part of parenting. It’s teaching your child to learn self-control, to accept responsibility for his actions, to think clearly, and make good choices.
I’ve realized that if I do too much of this for my children, they will not learn it for themselves. I often ask myself, how do you teach the children what is appropriate behavior? And the answer comes back, by behaving appropriately yourself. Every parent’s heart has soared when a child demonstrates what Mom or Dad has strived to teach. The same parents have cringed when they have seen or heard their little ones mimic their less than acceptable behavior. Is this the reason to despair and give up? Absolutely not; it should inspire us to do better.
Childhood needn’t be a boot camp. But it’s not a free-for-all either. There’s a balance to be found. My role is to help them be intelligent but not arrogant. I want them to be peacemakers, but not doormats. I want them to be good but not naïve, wise but not suspicious. I want them to be obedient but not subservient, patient but not apathetic. I want them to have respect for themselves. I want their presence in a room to bring light, not shadows.
I will retire some day from being a CEO. And it’s right that I do. There will come a time when my children will be adults—and executive officers of their own lives.
Jonatha Holland is a mother of three and lives in Carlisle, Mass. Article courtesy of Christian Science Monitor.
Thomas Armstrong, Ph.D.
Richard loved to tinker with mechanical devices. As a six-year-old, he took apart an alarm clock. At nine, he helped his dad fix the lawnmower. In high school, he spent hours tearing apart and rebuilding stereo equipment. Now, as a young adult, he’s a sound technician for a professional theater company. Richard’s parents encouraged his interests at an early age, which helped him become a successful adult. However, Richard was never labeled as “gifted.” In fact, he had trouble with math in school.
The definition of “the gifted child” has traditionally been based on school-related skills and limited to the upper five to ten percent of children who achieve high test scores, write well, and excel academically. These are certainly important, but there may be hundreds of other ways for children to show their gifts. “Today’s intelligence researchers emphasize that nearly all children—not just the celebrated five percent—have special talents,” says David G. Myers, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. Studies at Harvard University bear this out, suggesting that kids can display intelligence in many different ways—through words, numbers, music, pictures, athletic or “hands-on” abilities, and social or emotional development.
As an anonymous observer once said: “All children are gifted, some just open their packages later than others.” You can play a crucial role in awakening latent talents or developing current strengths through experiences you give your child at home. Here are 50 ways for you to bring out your child’s best, regardless of how his gifts are packaged:
1. Let your child discover her own interests. Pay attention to the activities she chooses. This free-time play can say a lot about where her gifts lie.
2. Expose your child to a broad spectrum of experiences. This may activate latent talents. Don’t assume that he isn’t gifted in an area just because he hasn’t shown an interest.
3. Give your child permission to make mistakes. If she has to do things perfectly, she’ll never take the risks necessary to discover and develop a gift.
4. Ask questions. Help your child open up to the wonders of the world by asking intriguing questions: Why is the sky blue? Find the answers together.
5. Plan special family projects. Shared creativity can awaken and develop new talents.
6. Don’t pressure your child to learn. If children are sent to special lessons every day in the hope of developing their gifts, they may become too stressed or exhausted to shine. Encourage, but don’t push.
7. Have high expectations. But make them realistic.
8. Share your work life. Expose your child to images of success by taking him to work. Let him see you engaged in meaningful activities and allow him to become involved.
9. Provide a sensory-rich environment. Have materials around the home that will stimulate the senses: finger paints, percussion instruments, puppets, etc.
10. Keep your own passion for learning alive. Your child will be influenced by your example.
11. Don’t limit your child with labels. They may saddle her with a reputation that doesn’t match her inner gifts.
12. Play games together as a family.
13. Have a regular family time for reading, listening to music, talking, etc.
14. Have reference materials available to give your child access to the world.
15. Allow your child to participate in community activities that interest her.
16. Use humor, jokes, and [funny] stories to encourage creativity.
17. Don’t criticize or judge the things your child does. He may give up on his talents if he feels evaluated.
18. Play with your child to show your own sense of playfulness.
19. Share your successes as a family. Talk about good things that happened during the day to enhance self-esteem.
20. Provide your child with access to a home, school, or public library computer. (It’s important to provide supervision for any children going online, so that they don’t end up browsing the wrong sites.)
21. Listen to your child. The things he cares about most may provide clues to his special talents.
22. Give your child a special space at home to be creative.
23. Praise your child’s sense of responsibility at home when she completes assigned chores.
24. Visit new places as a family.
25. Give your child open-ended playthings. Toys like blocks and puppets encourage imaginative play.
26. Give your child unstructured time to [think] and wonder about things.
27. Share inspirational stories of people who succeeded in life.
28. Don’t bribe your child with rewards. To constantly use incentives to get children to perform sends a message that learning is not rewarding in its own right.
29. Suggest that your child join peer groups that focus on her gifts.
30. Discuss the news to spark interests.
31. Discourage gender bias. Expose your child to both feminine and masculine toys and activities.
32. Avoid comparing your child to others. Help your child compare himself to his own past performance.
33. Be an authoritative parent.
34. Use community events and institutions to activate interests. Take trips to the library, museums, concerts, plays.
35. Give presents that nourish your child’s strengths.
36. Encourage your child to think about her future. Support her visions without directing her into any specific field.
37. Introduce your child to interesting and capable people.
38. Think of your home as a learning place. The kitchen is great for teaching math and science through cooking.
39. Share feelings. A child’s gifts can be stifled by repressed emotions.
40. Encourage your child to read.
41. Honor your child’s creations.
42. Do things with your child in his areas of interest.
43. Teach your child to trust her intuition and believe in her capabilities.
44. Give your child choices. It builds willpower and fuels initiative.
45. Show your child how to use books to further an interest. For example, how-to books for the hands-on learner.
46. Set aside an area of the house for displaying creations and awards.
47. Encourage your child to tackle areas that are difficult for him. Help him learn to confront any limitations.
48. Be a liaison between your child’s special talents and the real world. Help her find outlets for her talents.
49. Introduce children’s literature that honors and develops gifts. Books like The Little Engine That Could encourage a “can do” attitude.
50. Accept your child as he or she is.
By Petra Laila
Now that my oldest, Chris, is 13, I have found that I need to change in how I communicate with him. He is not the child he was a few years back. All of a sudden, he is taller than me. How time has flown! It seems like just yesterday he was a constantly active two-year-old, getting into everything.
Like most parents, I suppose, my tendency has been to think that I instinctively know what’s best for my children, and to take action accordingly. That worked well enough when Chris was small, but now that he’s reached a stage where he wants to make more of his own decisions, I’ve found that I need to take a different approach and involve him more in the decision-making process—to treat him less like a child and more like a teammate.
When an issue comes up, it’s more important than ever that I take time to listen to his ideas and understand both his viewpoint and his needs, as well as to explain mine. Then we try to come up with a solution together that will be good for both of us, as well as for anyone else involved.
When I fall into my old habit of trying to tell him what to do without considering his side, he feels squelched, pulls away, and misses a learning opportunity—and I lose his full cooperation. But when I remember to consult rather than give orders, things go well, he takes another step toward learning to make wise, responsible, loving decisions, and our bonds of love and mutual respect are strengthened.
Making the transition from childhood to adulthood can be like walking a tightrope, and teens need someone there, a parent or other strong role model, to help them find their footing and steady them as they cross over.
When my children reached their teens, I tried to guide them through the decision-making process, but then I’d have them make their own decisions. They’d often try to get me or their mother to make the decision for them, so they wouldn’t have to take the blame if things went wrong, but I would tell them, “Don’t ask me. You know what’s right and wrong. What do you think you should do?” Afterwards they were usually glad that we made them decide, because they knew that was the way it was supposed to be and it helped them feel trusted and respected, which is a very important thing at that age.—D.B. Berg
Excerpted from Activated magazine. Used with permission.
Excerpted from the writings of Maria Fontaine
Part of helping your children to grow and mature is teaching them how to make the right choices in a variety of situations, and allowing them to have the exposure or experiences that will bring their lessons to life. The sooner you can teach them how to be discerning and make the right decisions on their own, the safer they will be and the better prepared they will be for the decisions they alone can make.
A practical example of this is if you have a pool on your property. You might build a fence around it to avoid accidents, but you’d also want to teach your child to swim, and over time help him become a strong swimmer. The fence is protecting him initially, but you’re also preparing him to handle water safely by teaching him to swim.
Imparting these life lessons cannot happen solely in the classroom. These “life lessons” are learned over time, and require lots of communication and discussion and experience in order for children to understand and to grow in these areas. These experiences and lessons will make them wiser, stronger, more well rounded, more mature, more perceptive and understanding, and will help them to be much better equipped for life. Experience is good for your children and prepares them for life, if you help them to learn through it.
What does it mean to prepare children for life? It means giving thought to how to help your children progress through the natural stages of growth and development, being aware and abreast of what their peers are into or facing, and preparing your children for times when they may have to face similar things. It means teaching your children to have courage when they’re faced with difficult situations, and how to approach new situations responsibly and with confidence. It means teaching your children how to judge what’s right and wrong, and how to act with integrity, self-discipline, conviction, love, tolerance, and strength of character.
These are life lessons that you impart to your children because they are components of good character that will help to set your child’s moral compass for life. Those childhood character-building lessons will serve them well throughout life, and you parents are key instructors in educating your children in this way, because through imparting your personal convictions and values, you are helping your children to find the right direction in their life. It’s well worth the effort to do your best to teach your children how to make their way through the negative or questionable aspects of society, to accurately judge right from wrong, and to base their decisions and actions on godly ethics and perspective.
Children today face many influences, and they will face more in the course of life. Some will be positive, some will be negative, and many will be somewhere in between. You might want to spend some time discovering what your children are facing that you might not have been aware of. You could talk to others that your children interact with and ask them for their opinion. Being prepared is far better than being surprised, and by giving time and thought and discussion to the possibilities, you can be better prepared for the various scenarios your children might face in the future, or that they are possibly already facing.
It’s only natural that children will sometimes make poor or wrong decisions, because they’re experimenting and still learning to apply the training you’ve given them. That’s why your active involvement in their lives as they encounter influences, fulfilling your responsibility to counsel them through the questions and help them determine how to make good decisions, provides them with ongoing “preparation training.” It’s teaching them how to live the theory of their character education in their everyday lives. Focus on helping them to develop personal conviction, teaching them how to make good decisions even when faced with peer pressure or other difficult situations, and building lines of open communication so that you will be able to guide them through the circumstances they will encounter.
One of the common myths of modern parenting is that giving children whatever they want and letting them do whatever they want will make them happy in the present, and in the long run teach them to make the right choices. According to this school of thought, children who are indulged in this manner will grow into happy and productive, free-spirited, independent adults.
Nearly the opposite is true. Children need boundaries. They need clearly defined limits of behavior. They need to be taught moral standards of right and wrong. A spoiled and demanding child becomes a spoiled and demanding adult.
Yes, children should be given the freedom to choose for themselves in many matters, but they must also be taught to take responsibility for their choices. When parents are able to make freedom and limitations work together in proper balance, their children learn to make the right choices; they learn independence through guided dependency.
The basis of independence through dependency is this: First teach children foundation lessons of obedience, the difference between right and wrong, and the fact that their choices affect others and have good or bad consequences. Then little by little, as they prove themselves responsible in relatively small matters, give them more independence and allow them to make more important choices, all the while monitoring their progress and helping them understand and deal with the consequences of their decisions. This way they gain the independence they want and need, but not before they are prepared to handle it wisely.
Once they’ve proven that they can carry a certain responsibility on their own, you need to show your faith in them by not checking up on them constantly, or repeating instructions to them, or quickly taking back the controls even when you feel you would have personally done something a different way.
A guided and gradual transition from dependency to independence results in more well-rounded, competent adults who are neither overly dependent upon others, nor so independent that they cannot get along or work well with others. If children are taught from an early age to be responsible for their actions, and lovingly helped to handle the consequences, they will mature quickly and have a strong foundation that will support them through the turbulence of adolescence and a lifetime full of choices, some of which will be very difficult to make wisely.
Taken from "Keys to Kids" by Derek and Michelle Brooks. © Aurora Productions. Used with permission.
Establishing Guidelines for Safe Internet Usage
The end objective of guidelines for Internet usage is not to put countless rules in place, but rather to teach your child to make responsible choices for him- or herself, which will safeguard him or her in later years.
A prime responsibility is to teach your children the value of making the right choices. Your children need to understand why something is right or wrong and from that understanding learn to make decisions. The motivation for making the right decisions online should be based on a clear understanding of what is right and safe and what is dangerous and intellectually unhealthy.
You must teach your children how to responsibly use the Internet because the Internet is part of today’s world and technology, and that’s not about to change. A good working knowledge of the Internet and its uses will prepare your children for the inevitability of their use of it in this age of technology.
Beginner Preparation Tips for Parents
* As much as possible, place the computer your children use in a location where it’s easy to supervise them during their online times. You may want to limit the times of the day when the computer is connected to the Internet, so that all computer time does not equal online time.
* When your preteens use the Internet, teach them to have a purpose for what they’re doing online, so that they’re not distracted by the sheer quantity of information and lures. Children must understand that the Internet is not a well-organized, accurate, and safe environment. The Internet is a huge network of computers that make a wide range of information available. Sometimes the information is good and helpful, but sometimes it’s not, and can be harmful or false.
* You may want to bookmark a couple of reputable educational sites or online encyclopedias and stick with going to those sites for the information you’re looking for, rather than going through a search engine. As a parent you could invest some time into this on behalf of your children, and keep these sites as “Favorites” in your Web browser. This can also be applied to sites on recreational subjects, personal hobbies, or interests.
* As children get older, teach them how to use their time online efficiently. It’s easy for anyone to get pulled into the vast amounts of information, email communications, chats, or simple personal interests online, to the point that the minutes and hours fly by. In this age of technology, teaching your children (and personally learning) to use your online time wisely is important. If you can teach your children these principles during childhood, it will encourage good lifelong habits.
Internet Concerns and Dangers
Though the advantages and benefits of the Internet are obvious, the potential pitfalls cannot be ignored. Being informed of the hazards will help you to safeguard against them, and teach your children to do so as well.
A hazard of browsing is that you or your child might land on a site that has inappropriate content, or be redirected to an inappropriate site.
Identifying the Risks
Data suggests that 90 percent of kids between 8 and 16 have seen inappropriate photos and content while browsing. What kind of browsing practices can have these results? According to one study, kids encountered offensive images most often:
* while surfing,
* when they had misspelled Web addresses,
* when they clicked on a link in a Web site.
* Effective strategies can be used to reduce the possibility of accidental exposure to such materials, such as, teaching effective search, Web access, and email handling techniques.
* Children and teens should know how to rapidly respond to any accidental exposure to limit the potential danger of such exposure (i.e., restart their browser). Help them develop a moral stance that leads them to ignore inappropriate content when they come across it, and move on.
* Set up the search preferences of the search engine you use to implement the “safe search” features, which may provide some level of protection against accidental access.
* Explain to your child that when he or she searches for information using a perfectly appropriate term, the search results could lead to inappropriate sites. To avoid this, your child should carefully read the site description and only click on a link if he or she absolutely sure it will be okay to go to this site. If your child can’t tell for sure, he or she should either not click on it or seek parental guidance.
Dealing with the Fallout
At some point in your preteen’s life he/she will encounter inappropriate material, whether online, through magazines, TV, etc. It’s not a matter of if, but when. Do not overreact when this happens. Such occurrences should be viewed as opportunities to address these issues and teach your children the values and reasoning behind your safeguards against inappropriate material.
Children need explanations, counsel, and direction, tailored to their particular needs and age. If you are uncomfortable discussing these matters with your child or teen, there is information online or from other sources (books, professionals) that can provide further guidance as to how to go about it.
The Internet has become integrated into daily living, making accessible information that was previously difficult or costly to obtain. From researching educational topics to playing online educational games, looking up reference material, researching how-to aids, finding useful resources, watching video clips, etc., the Internet has increased and enhanced learning opportunities, as well as provided a means to stay in touch with family and friends.
It would be unreasonable to ignore the ways that the Internet can be used for good. At the same time, there is not only great potential for it to be an avenue for ungodly influences, but there are also many practical security and safety issues to consider.
Your children are inexperienced, which is why they need your guidance to instill in them the right set of values to apply to their online times. This set of values that you instill in your children, rather than specific rules, will in the long run provide them with the greatest safety measure. One day you will not be there peering over their shoulders checking what they do; before long they will be teenagers and adults and will have to make the choices to do right and to steer away from danger based on personal conviction rather than fear of punishment. You have the privilege of shaping your children’s values and morals; do so wisely.
Socially, the Web can become a world of its own, representing a wealth of possibility and discovery for children and young people who engage in online activities. Shy children who have a hard time expressing themselves in face-to-face communications may have little difficulty doing so online—or to the contrary the Internet can encourage such shyness, insecurity, and low self-esteem, because it does not provide opportunities for them to grow in their verbal communication and presentation.
There is also the danger of Internet addiction, and the concerns of providing your child with a balanced array of experiences and activities to ensure healthy development in all areas of his or her life. It’s important to realize that children need time experiencing life away from the computer and Internet, where they can partake in practical life skills, develop social skills, enjoy outdoor recreation, etc. The computer and the Internet should never replace the fundamentals of a child’s upbringing that provide experience and perspective on life and living it to the full.
How Much Time?
Aside from safety issues and practical concerns, another area of your child’s Internet usage that you, as parents, should monitor and evaluate is the amount of time that your child spends at a computer. Inordinate or unnecessary exposure to computers at a young age can create an appetite for continual visual stimulation, which can hinder your child’s desire for a physically active lifestyle or your child’s social development.
Providing your child with a wide range of real-life activities is in itself one of the most important safeguarding strategies to not only keeping the aforementioned Internet concerns and dangers at bay, but ensuring your child’s healthy development in all areas of his or her life.
Childhood is meant to be an active time, filled with fun, activities, adventure, challenges, and thrills—not the lethargy-inducing pull of computers.
When children are young, they are forming their mindsets. They are deciding how they will approach life, what they’ll do with their lives, and spending hours in front of a computer is really sad.
You have to instill that desire for an active lifestyle by doing activities that keep them stirred up. They’ll balk and want to sit down at the computer, but it’s up to you to find ways to energize their lives, to make them want to go outside and have fun rather than sit in the house all day and waste away.
One of the best methods for controlling what your child is exposed to on the Internet is old-fashioned parental guidance. You know what is appropriate for your child to view and what isn’t.
There are a variety of programs available to help parents control the access their children have to the Internet. This type of software is designed for a range of actions, from filtering out sites that are not child friendly to restricting the amount of time that a child spends online. Any filtering systems that you consider for your situation should be in addition to your supervision and the guidelines concerning length of time, purpose of use, etc., that you’ve instituted with your child.
The Internet can be a wonderful education and reference tool, and installing software that will filter out inappropriate material will enhance the quality of your Internet searches and online time.
If you do decide to install filtering software on the computer your children have access to, you could use this opportunity to teach your child why you are doing so.
A danger lies in thinking that after installing such software that your preteens are now safe and no longer need supervision and instruction from you. The software will only do a measure of safeguarding. So while the filtering software will alleviate some concerns, as the parent it is your ultimate responsibility to ensure that your children learn how to protect themselves from inappropriate material later on in life when they may not have filtering or other forms of external constraints. At such times they will also need to have a good understanding and personal conviction as to why inappropriate sites should be avoided.