I have come to dread Christmas and my boys’ Birthday.

Well, maybe dread is too harsh a word. I find both times of year mixed bags.

What should be positive experiences have real negative sides in recent years.

Because of all the presents.

And presents mean toys.

And they already have too many toys. Way too many.

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Digital entertainment is everywhere.

It’s  just soooo entertaining and addicting.

As I’ve mentioned before, there are many things in our society that end up paying the price for this, but perhaps the biggest issue is that digital entertainment (and other activities such as extracurricular activities and mountains of homework) steal quality family time.

And as we all know there is only a finite amount of family time – or even the opportunity for family time.

Many families wait to have family time primarily on vacation.

But these are too far and few between – it kind of sends a hidden message that there is our regular life where we don’t really have time for one another, and then there are these special times that pop up every several months or even every year where that’s where we’re a real family.

This is strange.

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Most of the time I feel as if we live in this giant, artificial bubble.

The bubble surrounds us and everyone we know.

Society created the bubble but news and entertainment keep it filled with air.

Within the bubble, there always appears to be a way forward. Or at least there’s always a person or group that says they know the way.

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Every once in a while one of my boys will say something to the effect of “I don’t want to do that. I’m shy.”

This really rubs me the wrong way.

I’ve heard the term shy since I was a small kid.  Sometimes used to describe me, many times to describe others.

I really don’t like that word.

Why?

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My boys love to tattle. They tattle over small stuff. They tattle over big stuff. They tattle to one-up their brother. They tattle to get back at their brother. They tattle to show their parents how much better they are than their brother.

Tattling may seem annoying to us as parents, but I think it’s much worse than that. It can lead to much larger life problems down the line.

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The Waltons family

Raising kids in today’s fast-paced, modern-world can be incredibly challenging, tiring, and frustrating. However, one need not look to far into the past to find something that can be an big help: living near the extended family.

Having the larger family around not only lightens parents’ load, but also helps kids feel part of a larger social unit, exposes them to those who have accumulated lifelong wisdom, and can help reinforce a good value system.

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Yesterday, after telling my boys for the 10,000th time to finish their piano lessons, I sent both of them to timeout. Outside. Apart. When it was in the 90s. (Chill out, they weren’t in the sun and it was only for 10 min)

Now for many parents, this may sound like it’s not much of a punishment at all, but my boys tend to like staying inside more than outside, and they definitely like playing with each other more than being alone. In fact, they really don’t seem to know what to do with themselves when they’re outside alone (that’s a story for another day though).

Anyway, after I had sent my first boy outside for a period, I heard him crying a bit so opened the front door.  He was pretty freaked out and rambling on about bugs, and insects with wings, and all sorts of stuff related to creepy crawly things.  After talking with him a bit, it appeared he has at least a partial phobia to insects (My wife confirmed this to me later).

I decided to try an interesting approach with him based on exposure therapy, I’m hoping will help him get over his phobia.

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If your kids are like mine, they have a nasty habit of not cleaning up after themselves. And when they’re told they need to clean something up (their room, the play area) they drag their feet or do a crummy job that requires more “discussions”.

I’ve stumbled on a technique that is a nice alternative to the parental nag approach.

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Parents who work in tech are often much more restrictive than non-tech worker parents when it comes to their kids and tech-exposure. Why is this?

Because digital devices can often come with a lot of downsides.

It’s long been rumored that Steve Jobs didn’t allow his child to have an iPad. A recent story on Silicon Valley parents details this trend by describing a couple of parents who work for Apple and a small high-tech startup:

The Koduris’ life is that of the quintessential Silicon Valley family, except for one thing. The technology developed by Koduri and Shahi’s employers is all but banned at the family’s home.

There are no video game systems inside the Koduri household, and neither child has their own cell phone yet. Saurav and Roshni can play games on their parents’ phones, but only for 10 minutes per week.

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With kids being exposed to thousands to information sources and other voices constantly, it can seem hard, if not impossible to ensure children are growing up with a set of values you approve of.

Today’s episode can help. We discuss a quick and easy tool you can employ to help instill the values you find important in your children.

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Associated Article

How to Teach Your Child to Do the Right Thing