Archive for February, 2007

From Ignored to Adored – Today’s Narcissistic Kids

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In the 1980’s parents became concerned about self esteem. Low self-esteem would mean your child wouldn’t amount to anything and parents would be blamed. The pendulum swung far to the left of children should be seen and not heard and children became the center of our universe.

Is it possible to have too much self-esteem? The same question can be raised about having too much good health. The answer is probably not. At the first sign of any problem, the experts point to low self-esteem under the premise there wasn’t enough self-esteem. Perhaps it isn’t more self-esteem that is needed, but rather the right self-esteem.

William James, the first American psychologist, created a formula in 1890:

Self-esteem = Abilities ÷ Pretensions

Loosely translated, self-esteem equals your abilities (what you can do) divided by your pretensions (your goals, or basically what you want to do). The better you are at things you want to do, the better your self-esteem. If you want your child to have greater self-esteem, figure out ways your child can do better at the things she loves to do. Self-esteem can be defined as being comfortable in our own skin and knowing that we are loved, as they used to say, “warts and all!”

As a result of our attempts to make sure our children had enough self esteem today’s college students are more narcissistic and self-centered than their predecessors, according to a comprehensive new study by five psychologists who worry that the trend could be harmful to personal relationships and American society.

We can’t all be above average

The researchers describe their study as the largest ever of its type and say students’ NPI scores have risen steadily since the current test was introduced in 1982. By 2006, they said, two-thirds of the students had above-average scores, 30 percent more than in 1982.

The role technology plays

Walk on a college campus and you’ll find students listening to their iPods, talking on cellphones and IMing other students rather than engaged in personal interaction; a disconnect doesn’t offset the benefits technology offers. The authors of the study suggest that the names we associate to popular websites such as YouTube and MySpace further fuels the narcissism.

Let Them Be

From the time our children are very little, we put superlative labels on their activities. If they pick up a baseball bat, we envision them in the major leagues. A little girl attends her first dance class, and she is labeled a prima ballerina.

We need to just let them be. We are putting our emphasis on things that honestly don’t matter to our children; half the time they don’t even know the names of the superstars we are comparing them to.

A superlative is the best, brightest, prettiest, smartest, fastest, which is how you are judged by others. I don’t even know how you could possibly measure who is the best at anything. Lasting self-esteem has nothing to do with what other people think of you because it’s something you can’t control.

Where talent is a dwarf, self-esteem is a giant.
– Conceits and Caprices

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Keeping Kids Distracted

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Things that matter most must never be at the mercy of things that matter least. – Van Goethe

Experts say the best time to communicate with children is when you’re involved in activities such as driving, talking a walk, shooting baskets, and yes, even food shopping. Parents look to the outside world to entertain children while they get things done, but by keeping their children busy, parents miss out on the best opportunity to build a relationship with their children.

More importantly, the message to the children is this device, whether it is a TV, tape or DVD, is where you will get your information from. As children get older and the messages come from questionable artists, parents don’t realize that they gave the green light allowing these messages to come through, while children become accustomed to treating the media as the authority.

The newest device is the TV Kart, which displays videos in a small car as parents shop for groceries. Rather than discussing the colors of beautiful fruits and vegetables, counting the number of apples in a bag, or weighing potatoes, parents place children in carts where they are fixed on a licensed cartoon character parading on a screen.

Parents should avoid these carts and engage their young children in conversations about cooking, counting, reading nutrition labels and checking prices.

Have parents traded the opportunity to build relationships with their children in favor of the quick solution of getting tasks done? They are missing the opportunity to teach and learn from the interesting and wonderful person they know, their child.

Don’t let marketers take additional opportunities from getting to know your child. And resist the urge to put the SUV headrest DVD players on – it’s just a short trip home from the market.

Start a conversation with your child.

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Wish List – Family

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The lack of emotional security of our American young people is due, I believe, to their isolation from the larger family unit. No two people – no mere father and mother – as I have often said, are enough to provide emotional security for a child. He needs to feel himself one in a world of kinfolk, persons of variety in age and temperament, and yet allied to himself by an indissoluble bond which he cannot break if he could, for nature has welded him into it before he was born. -Pearl Buck

My children are fortunate because our extended family has always been there for our kids. They’ve been present for the important and ordinary events. Every aunt, uncle, grandparent, and cousin has added something as simple as a silly tradition or as significant as a contribution to their moral compass.

We have some good genes resulting in a great age span, so it isn’t uncommon to have four generations at a family function. Their young at heart attitude has countered any potential age discrimination. The ‘elders’ are full of fun and interesting stories.

We all have a need to belong to a group. A family is the first and most important experience in being a part of a caring group. When children don’t find a sense of belonging with family, they will find it somewhere else. That is when gangs and the wrong influences have an appeal.

If you don’t live in close proximity to family, don’t forget that you still have ties, and must stay connected. But really connecting with a child is done by building a relationship, which can cost as little as the price of a stamp. Children love getting mail – why not? They never get bills! Wouldn’t you love it? By mail, I don’t just mean cards for their birthday or holidays. Send jokes, stories, riddles, or funny comics that you come across. My nephews love baseball, so I sent the classic Abbott & Costello “Who’s on First” sketch. We forget how funny and creative the classics are. Children are hearing them for the first time, and it doesn’t cost a dime.

July is Family Reunion Month and Temple University has a great website to help you organize every step of your family reunion. Don’t let your children miss out on building important relationships and memories.

When the family does get together, it is important that children participate and get to know their family members. Too often you will see children playing hand-held computer games, listening to iPods or on their cell phones with their friends, rather than participating. Don’t let them miss it – it is too valuable an experience.

Did you know that African American families account for half of all family reunions held in the United States? About 70% of summer non-business travel by African Americans is reunion related.

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Britney Spears- Ten Things to Consider Before Having Children

What’s the first thing you do when you find yourself in a hole? Stop digging.

You’ve dug a very deep hole and need to get out now. You chose to have two children and become a mother. Your two little boys didn’t choose you, but I’m sure they would love to have you as more than their birth mother. They need a real mother. I don’t doubt that are being cared for, fed, clothed, etc. But that isn’t all that mothers do.

Here is some unsolicited advice. It’s probably a little late but you should read Ten Things to Consider Before Having Children listed here from my book Because Kids Don’t Come With Manuals®: Contemporary Advice for Parents.

Sorry but you wouldn’t get past #1.

10 Things to Consider BEFORE Having Children…

1. Would you want to have you as a parent?
2. Have there been times when you could have been more generous?
3. Do you treat the people that matter in your life as well as you should?
4. Is your relationship with your spouse strong enough to withstand the stress of children?
5. What sacrifices are you willing to make to be able to afford children?
6. What family traditions will you carry on, and what new traditions will you both create together?
7. What is your idea of quality family time?
8. How will you decide how to share family holidays?
9. Do you believe it is your job as a parent to tell a child what to think or how to think?
10. Is there something about your spouse that makes you look forward to becoming a parent, or is there something that has you concerned?

Although childbirth is called labor, the real labor is in raising our children which is 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days a year for the rest of your life. It is what parents do.

I don’t feel sorry for you, especially as I think about all the single mothers struggling to keep their families together with very little money. You may have great wealth, but you are not rich.

What you need now is a supportive village around you, and it sounds as if you are currently choosing the wrong villagers. You can recover from all of this.

You don’t drown by falling in water; you drown by staying there.

Just realize that it’s not about you – you are mom now.

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Wish List – Friendship

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Gift wish lists have long been popular for wedding showers and baby showers. Couples that have been living together and really don’t need new dishes or stemware create vacation wish lists so their friends can buy them a dinner or massage while they’re honeymooning.

Grandparents that can’t possibly keep up with a grandchild’s interest look to a wish list so their money is being spent on something that counts.

Well, I’ve been thinking – what does count?

Spending all this money on each other? I doubt it. What might count more is a wish list for characteristics and qualities that we want our children to have. From time to time, please check back and look at the wish list category. I’ll be adding characteristics as I think of them.

As always, your comments and thoughts are welcome.

The first one I would like to tackle is friendship because everyone needs a good friend. And we need to teach our children how to be a good friend.

Sounds simple, and it probably is.

Without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods.

Aristotle

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Tracking the bad guys

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Parents’ fears that keep their children from playing outside, walking to school, or riding their bikes do more than contribute to increases in childhood obesity. We are all paralyzed by it. The underlying message is that there is something to be afraid of. That message is heard loud and clear by our kids.

Isaac Daniel received a call from his son’s school in 2002 saying the boy was missing. Fortunately, it was a miscommunication and his son was fine. But the incident sparked enough of a concern in this engineer that he immediately began working on a prototype of a Quantum Satellite Technology; a line of sneakers priced between $325 and $350 for adults, with a children’s line due out this summer.

I would imagine the parent of a missing child wouldn’t care if the price point was $1 million dollars if it meant getting their child back. For the rest of us, we would pay anything to prevent abductions in the first place.

Are we tracking the right people? Shouldn’t we be tracking the child predators instead of our children? There are questions as to our children’s privacy rights and parents immediately consider the alternative and cave in to all the tracking devices on the market. What about the families that can’t afford the new technology. What about families with lots of kids? Do they have to decide who gets to wear the GPS device?

Parents do all they can to keep our children safe and let them be kids, which means doing all the great things kids love to do without tracking devices. The government needs to keep our children safe, by putting tracking devices on the people we actually should be tracking.

In the meanwhile, be aware of child predators in your area by viewing Family Watchdog.

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National Sportsmanship Day – March 6th

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“Sports do not build character. They reveal it.”

John Wooden

Years ago, when writing an article on youth sports, I asked a number of elementary school children around the country how they wanted their parents to behave while attending their sporting events. Without hesitation, and almost as if the children had rehearsed their answers, they calmly responded, “Just be there.” They went on to say that their parents should not yell good or bad comments, and they hoped their parents didn’t make a scene. They knew some parents did, they just never wanted it to be their parents that did.

March 6, 2007 The 17th National Sportsmanship Day “Dare to Play Fair” program, founded by the Institute for International Sport at the University of Rhode Island will be celebrated.

Students are invited to write essays of 500 words or less that address ethics and sportsmanship. They can share personal experiences of exemplary or poor sportsmanship. The deadline is Feb. 27th, and the information to enter the contest is here.

For complete information on this program, click on National Sportsmanship Day.

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