Friday, May 11, 2018

Summer Skills Ideas for Kids

In addition to summer school, camp, jobs and sports activities, summer is a great time to help kids brush up on skills they may not have enough time for during the school year.

Meal preparation and basic cooking skills are a couple of areas many parents let fall by the wayside during the winter months of homework, sports and extracurriculars. As three meals a day for the rest of our children’s lives is a given, however, we would be well-advised to spend some time on these eminently practical life skills. To successfully involve our kids in meal planning, shopping, cooking and cleanup, parents can never start early enough. (If we wait for our 16 year old to show an interest, chances are we have missed the boat and have to start from scratch.)

Cooking is one area where the dreaded social media can actually come in handy. Getting recipes online, posting photos of culinary successes and failures and sharing tips are constructive uses of the internet. Some books and sites tout recipes with 5 ingredients, (not including S & P & EEVO), which are ideal for kids in today’s fast-paced world.

Negotiate some kind of deal where, in exchange for so many meals properly planned and cooked, take out or pizza is the weekend celebration. Weekly food budget considerations should also come into the discussion. 

This leads us to another life skill to work on in the summer months – finance. Many kids graduate without knowing anything about their credit rating or how to build it, the power of compound interest or how much of their eventual paycheck their cell phone bill will actually take.   

Get kids a bank account and consider giving them an allowance. Whatever it is, start small. You can always give more later. 

We don’t recommend tying allowance to chores - kids contribute to the family and share in the resources. Getting them to do their jobs involves a discussion, a timetable and a commitment. One exception could be to pay your kids to do jobs they don’t usually do during the school year, whether it is cleaning, yard work or other housekeeping chores.

If there is something they really want to buy, show them the value of saving, the joy of delayed gratification and working hard for something they really want. can help kids learn about making good buying decisions.

Many financial experts recommend dividing kids’ money into categories such as: charitable, educational, clothing, savings, discretionary, etc. Most banks have helpful apps to get your family started.  

For older kids, consider giving them virtual money to invest and introduce them to the stock market. Get them involved in planning the family vacation and getting the best deals for your

trip. To motivate them, let them spend say, 50% of what they save on an activity you otherwise would have nixed.

Of all the things we do for our kids and make sure they learn, managing food and money seem so obvious that we often assume our kids just know – taking the time to ensure that they do is a great investment in their future. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

"There's no hitting in this house!"

Who instigates most of the sibling fights in your house?  Is the youngest looking for some attention from an older sibling?  Or, the oldest taking out some frustrations on the younger one?  Is the middle one always spoiling things for the others?

When we think we know who started it, the temptation is to referee and assign blame.
 “Jimmy, if you can’t settle down like the others, there will be no story for you!”
 “Jane, you’re older. Let your little sister have the toy!”                               
 “There’s water all over the bathroom floor! Which one of you did this?”

Here is the second in our series of Key Principles to create the close, cooperative relationships we so dearly want between our children.

Principle #2:  “Put them in the same boat.” Or, another way of looking at it, STOP taking sides!

Taking sides encourages kids to point the finger with the hope of swaying a parent.

We also run the risk of placing a child in a role, giving them a label: the aggressor, the victim, or the responsible one. The problem is that a label can stick, and our child may live up to our expectations of them. (By the way, there is no good label. Labels restrict a child. Anyone who grew up having to be the responsible one will attest!)

Putting them in the same boat encourages an attitude of we are in this together and underlines the idea that bystanders are responsible too. When it comes to conflict between children, it’s more important to find a solution than it is to find out who done it.

Shift your focus from one of blame to one of solutions.
It will sound more like this…
   “I’m willing to read stories when all is quiet.”
   “Girls if you’re having trouble sharing the toys, why don’t you play separately for   awhile.”
  “Boys, there’s water all over the bathroom floor.”

And if they try to blame:
“Ben did all of the splashing, not me.”
“Did not!”
You can say, “It’s not important to me who did it. What’s important right now is what are you boys going to do about it?”

Here’s to more harmonious days ahead!

Beverley & Doone
P.S. Missed Principal #1? Click here -> “I hate my brother!”