Kids, Screens and Play

Driving home with our year-old grandson from New York’s Catskill Mountains last weekend, my wife and I recalled previous summer car rides, singing songs with our kids when they were young. We liked to sing Motown, the Beatles, and a country classic our daughter later recalled as “the hobo song” (“King of the Road”). In the light of recent changes in technology and family life, these songfests now seem quaint, as moribund as the Catskills themselves. Families no longer sing songs on long summer drives; instead, kids are playing games on their tablets or phones, texting friends or checking Instagram.

Should Parents Punish Their Children?

For many parents, it seems almost instinctive to respond to a child’s uncooperative behavior by imposing (or threatening) a consequence.

15 Rules to Foster Good Behavior in Children

In my last post, I presented general principles of good behavior in young children.  Today, I would like to follow up with specific recommendations – 15 rules that parents can use to help children learn to behave well (most of the time).

How to Have a Well-Behaved Child, Part 1

I believe that children should be well behaved.

Most parents, of course, want more for their children than just good behavior.  We want them to become caring and responsible adults.

Why My Father Didn’t Need Parenting Books

My father was a warm and generous man.  His passing, twenty years ago at age 85, remains a profound loss.

How to Have Better Conversations With Your Children, Part 2

Young children are wide-eyed in their curiosity about the lives of their parents.

For many years, I have advised parents to talk with their children about experiences in their own lives, especially when children are feeling worried, disappointed or sad.  Personal stories are helpful, for example, when children are anxious about their first day at school or summer camp; or when they have suffered a painful rejection by a friend; or when there has been a death in the family.

The Most Important Ten Minutes of A Child’s Day

In previous posts, I have discussed the importance of positive emotions in child development and offered some suggestions for how we can strengthen positive feelings in our children’s lives – how we can engage children’s interests, nurture a spirit of kindness and generosity, support their idealism, and share feelings of pride.  Positive emotions – especially, a child’s positive expectations for her future – are the cornerstone of her emotional health.

Should Parents Praise Their Children?

In today’s post, I would like to return to a question that is controversial among parent educators and a source of confusion to many parents: Should parents praise their children?  In recent years, many thoughtful writers on parenting have argued against the use of praise. Alfie Kohn has been the most influential advocate for this point of view.

How to Avoid the Most Common Parenting Mistake

Last week, I discussed the problem of frequent criticism in families. In my experience, this is the most common cause of unhappiness in parent-child relationships – and of unhealthy outcomes for children.

When parents are often critical of their children, children, in turn, become angry and argumentative, stubborn and defiant. When we argue frequently with our children, children become good at arguing.

The Most Common Parenting Mistake

I am often asked, “What is the most common problem you encounter in your work with children and families?” For many years, my answer has been simple and unequivocal: “As parents, we are, unwittingly, too critical of our children.”