Helping Kids Understand the Danger of Mobile Device Overuse 1

This is a letter I’ve written to my sons. It’s part of a series which covers a wide variety of topics in which I attempt to give my boys life guidance. I hope you’ll find some of these ideas helpful when talking with your own children.


Dear Sons,

As you know, I’m concerned about you spending too much time watching videos, playing games or even messaging people on your phone.

We limit the amount of time you can do those things, but I want to explain why.

I’m not just setting limits to be mean and stricter than your friends’ parents, but I have real reasons that I feel are important.

Knowing these reasons may help you understand a bit more.

Your Life

Your life will be very different from mine, your grandparents’ or anyone else who’s lived before.

You will have many opportunities. More opportunities than others before you could have imagined.

But you will also encounter very big challenges.

Challenges no humans have ever had to contend with.

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Helping Kids Deal with Change 2

I wrote this article for my own children and figure others may find it helpful.


Dear Son,

Your life is like an adventure, and you’re the lead character.

Think about a lot of the stories you know, where the characters go on adventures.

Sometimes they’re happy, sometimes they’re sad. Sometimes they’re safe and sound at home, other times they are doing new things, or are even in a scary place.

Other times, they find new places to explore and awesome treasures.

Your life is a lot like that even though right now it may not seem like it because you are still very young.

Most times your life feels safe and stable.

However, every once in a while something in your life will change.

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Awaken a Child's Mind by Asking, Not Telling. 3

I came across an interesting article on Lifehacker which asks parents to shift how they talk to their kids – the author suggests we should minimize telling kids what to do and instead ask them how something can be done.

When I first read the article, it struck me that the author’s idea seemed similar to what I’ve been doing with my boys regarding cleaning their room, which I wrote about earlier.

However, the Lifehacker article applies the technique to many more things in a child’s life, and it made me realize I was thinking too narrowly.

What’s the Idea?

To quickly summarize – the basic idea is that it’s much better to ask our children questions about how or what they would do rather than tell them what to do.

Why is this important?

Because when you ask a child a question, it requires them to formulate their own answer, to think things through, and then to own the solution.

On the other hand, telling a child what to do puts them in a subservient role. It discourages ownership of the solution, and in the extreme, may even cause them to rebel. Read more

Kids Become What They Do 4

If you’ve heard the term “brain plasticity” before, it’s most likely been in the context of what occurs after an injury or loss of ability, such as when a person becomes blind. In such cases, the brain can actually rewire itself to partially compensate for the loss.

In the case of blindness, the portion of the brain that’s normally associated with sight if often repurposed to enhance other senses such as touch and hearing.

However, the brain doesn’t get rewired only during extreme events – it changes all the time in reaction to the activities the brain’s owner.

For the purposes of this article, I’ll keep to a simple definition of “brain plasticity” – in which I mean the ability/tendency for the brain to change over time in reaction to the environment and activities that a person participates in.

Brain plasticity causes the things we do more often to become easier and more natural and the things we do less often to become harder.

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A Lesson in Morality From Smashburger? 5

I found myself alone with my boys the other night and dinner was not to be found at home so we decided to venture out.

Where did we end up going? Smashburger.

We hopped in the van and drove a couple of miles up the road and pulled into a spot near the front of the place.

My sons jumped out and ran inside quickly, screaming like a couple of maniacs.

After the screaming ceased and things got settled down I looked up at the menu board and mentally noted what I was going to order and my sons did the same.

Or at least were told to do the same.

As we approached the register, I gave the woman behind the register my order and then my boys proceeded to give their orders.

Of course, the task took about four times longer than if an adult had made the same order, but at least they did it on their own, which is progress.

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Parents Don't Matter? Baloney. 6

In the last couple of years, I’ve heard a particularly disturbing, ignorant phase more than a few times. That phrase is something to the effect of “Parents don’t affect how a kid turns out.”

This usually comes up in a nature vs. nurture discussion on a podcast or radio program.

And it seems many of experts served up by popular culture have come down pretty firmly on the side of nature.

There’s usually some back and forth clarifying the statement – indicating that the evidence shows that parenting style and doesn’t matter much with the exception of an abusive parent.

That kids grow up how they’re going to grow up and that we should all just relax because we’re putting too much pressure on ourselves.

I agree with some of that relax part – There’s way too much helicoptering going on and it does neither the parent nor the child any good to helicopter since it not only stresses the parent but creates fragility and excessive dependence on the parent.

But I disagree with the part about regular, non-abusive parents having little to no effect on how a kid turns out.

It just makes zero sense when talking the bigger picture of how individuals are shaped by the groups they’re in.

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