Saturday, February 28, 2009

Confident Kids - Part 1

From time to time, I like to share this blog with other people and other blogs that have salient points on kids and families. Today, from a website, entitled,, I came by an article on “Raising Confident Kids”. Below is the content of that article in italics, with my thoughts below some of the paragraphs in bold print::

It takes confidence to be a kid. Whether going to a new school or stepping up to bat for the first time, kids face a lot of uncharted territory.

Think back to all of the times that your kids tried something for the first time, i.e. riding a bike, blowing out a candle, talking on the telephone, etc. These first-time events were filled with wonder, stress, and sometimes glee! Of course, the more confident the child, the less stress there will be.

Naturally, parents want to instill a can-do attitude in their kids so that they'll bravely take on new challenges and, over time, believe in themselves. While each child is a little different, parents can follow some general guidelines to build kids' confidence.

Self-confidence rises out of a sense of competence. In other words, kids develop confidence not because parents tell them they're great, but because of their achievements, big and small. Sure, it's good to hear encouraging words from mom and dad. But words of praise mean more when they refer to a child's specific efforts or new abilities.

When kids achieve something, whether it's brushing their own teeth or riding a bike, they get a sense of themselves as able and capable, and tap into that high-octane fuel of confidence.

Building self-confidence can begin very early. When babies learn to turn the pages of a book or toddlers learn to walk, they are getting the idea "I can do it!" With each new skill and milestone, kids can develop increasing confidence.

Yes, starting with small victories and achievements will definitely give rise to bigger and bigger successes for your child. Riding a bike today – designing a car tomorrow!

Parents can help by giving kids lots of opportunities to practice and master their skills, letting kids make mistakes and being there to boost their spirits so they keep trying. Respond with interest and excitement when kids show off a new skill, and reward them with praise when they achieve a goal or make a good effort.

This might be one of the best lessons of all – let your kids fail at small tasks, but be right there to pick them up and get them to try it again! When I first learned to ride a bike with two wheels, I kept falling down – just couldn’t get the hang of it. My dad kept encouraging me; had me get back up and try again and again; and, before too long (although it seemed like a lifetime), I was ready to ride anywhere.

In fact, I was headed for a VERY busy street and my dad thought that I couldn’t stop. No worries, I was successful riding a bike and I wanted the feeling to linger right up until the edge of the busy road!

With plentiful opportunities, good instruction, and lots of patience from parents, kids can master basic skills — like tying their shoes and making the bed. Then, when other important challenges present themselves, kids can approach them knowing that they have already been successful in other areas.

Have you ever wondered why some children are confident to speak up in school and with adults and others stay quiet, - almost afraid to make a mistake? In many cases, the confident child is the one who was allowed to try small tasks; experience success; fall down and get back up; and try harder tasks, all while gaining confidence.

(Please come back next week for Part 2)

Paul W. Reeves

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Sibling Rivalry

7th grader Brian arrived at school each day with a scowl on his face. Each day he attempted to push somebody (sometimes several people) and often he tried to start a physical fight with other students. As his Principal, it was my duty to counsel Brian and to suspend him from school on several occasions. I could never quite figure out the reasons for his constant anger. He arrived at school in an angry state, he stayed angry all day, and he went home in an angry state, often starting fights along the way.

His parents (yes, I get to know a lot of parents well!) were nice and caring people who were also concerned about their son’s constant anger, as this had not been a problem with their other two kids, one of whom had earned a perfect 4.00 grade point average all through high school, while the other one had become the star athlete on the football and basketball teams, while garnering several college scholarship offers!

That’s when I realized that Brian’s aggressive and anti-social behaviors were symptoms of a more serious problem. As his two other siblings had been highly successful, Brian did not believe that he could possibly reach the levels of their success. Rather than attempt to be successful (he feared failing and thereby letting his parents down), Brian chose to block out his issues by sniffing inhalants, including gasoline, glue, and air freshener, all of which were readily available in Brian’s house during the 2 hours that he was alone each day after school!

Fortunately, we caught Brian’s problem in time and, through counseling, he was able to wean himself from the deadly inhalants. With his parents’ guidance, he became successful in school, graduated with honors, and now has a successful career in the medical field. Brian was lucky. His parents cared and, although they just assumed that he would be as successful as his siblings, they took the appropriate actions when they realized that they had dropped the ball.

Do your children compare themselves to your other offspring? Yes, they do! Are those comparisons favorable? The answer is most likely yes and no. The keys are as follows:

1) Each child excels in at least one area that is unique to him/her
2) Have each child explore the areas that are of interest to him/her
3) Although your children might have the same interests, do your best to eliminate competition between the two of them. As I have always told my own kids, the competition is the rest of the world, your guys are family and you should always help each other!

As for my own kids, one loves dance, one is heavily into guitar and art, and the other one loves drumming and sports. Interestingly, although my two boys have a great disdain for dancing, the older one has helped the younger one learn the guitar, while the younger one has helped the older one learn to play the drums!

As a result, my daughter has been allowed to excel in dance with zero family competition and both boys have chosen areas in which they also excel all by themselves.

And, even if they have the same interests, the goal should be for the siblings to help each other out and not view the other as competition!

Oh, and of course, don't leave your kids alone for two hours every day after school to explore the land of the nefarious adventures!!

Hang in there and keep up the great work (and joy!!) of raising your children!

Paul W. Reeves

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Child's Love

Yes, today is Valentine's Day!! A great time for people in long-term, short-term, and even budding relationships to flourish and renew their vows and feelings for each other!!

But, on this lover's holiday, I want to talk about another kind of love - a child's love. Can we learn to love other people better through watching the actions of a child? YES, we can! Check out this story:

Those who know me are aware that I am an obsessed fan of the Detroit Lions - a true fanatic! Yes, the 0-16 Lions; yes, the same Lions who have not won a championship since 1957 (before I was born!); yes, the same Lions who have won only one playoff game in 51 years; yes, the same Lions who have had me not miss a game in 40+ years, either in-person, on the radio, or on television.

Well, when my daughter was about 2 year old, and before my sons were born, I decided that it would be great to have somebody with me while I watched the Lions (this was in the days of Barry Sanders, Hermann Moore, etc., so the Lions were pretty good!). I asked my 2-year-old daughter if she wanted to watch the Lions' game with me. She said "YES"!! So, on most Sundays for the next few years, my daughter, far from ever being called rough and rugged, sat down with her favorite dad to watch the Lions!!

I explained the finer points of the game to her; we cheered together when the Lions scored; we danced to the music on the commercials; and we even enjoyed halftime snacks together! I couldn't believe that it looked as though I had a Lions' buddy for life - my own daughter was crazy about the Lions - just like her dad!!

Well, as time ticked away and she became a little older, offers to play at friends' houses came in on Sunday afternoons. So, we didn't watch the Lions together as much anymore. Eventually, as she approached her 8th birthday, it was noted, in fact, that she did not watch the Lions with me at all anymore - at least not full games.

Sure, she would sit and watch several plays, but then she would be off! I could not understand such behavior. I can never miss a Lions' game and there she was - giving up on watching full games to do, well, girlish things with her friends!! Can you imagine that?!?!?

Just before her 21st birthday, the Lions were going to play on Thanksgiving Day. I had to beg her to watch the game with me. She told me that she had other things to do. I asked her to watch a quarter with me for old times sake. She told me that she was going to be quite busy. I then asked her to watch the first series of downs with me. She agreed!

I then asked her how she could have spent her early years watching the Lions every single Sunday with me and then just give it up. I have not been able to give up my Lions' obsession at all!

Ah, here is where the child's love comes in: My daughter confessed that she never liked football, she had no feelings for the Lions, and she had multiple interests in her early childhood - none of which involved football or the Lions.

She confided that she only watched the Lions with me because she wanted to be with her dad!! Even though she was lavished with attention, she knew that she could have me all to herself on Sunday afternoons - so she became a short-term Lions fan! Apparently, after the subconsciously realized that dad would still love her and spend billions of hours with her even if she never watched the Lions, she turned her attention to other important things in life, such as Barbie Dolls, playing house, and entertaining friends!

Yes, my child's love led her to wanting to spend quality and quantity time with me - a lesson from which all of us could benefit when dealing with other people, especially including our families and friends!

Oh, by the way, on Thanksgiving Day, my daughter sat in the Family Room with me for much more than a series of downs - we sat together for the entire Lions' debacle - another embarrassing thrashing on national TV!!

Ah, yes, a child's love - each of us could learn a lesson!

Paul W. Reeves

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Troubled Teen (2)

(Continued from January 31, 2009) .......

* Has brought a weapon to school ---
If your child has been caught with a weapon in school - WATCH OUT! He/she has already developed violent thoughts and has considered a means for carrying out the violence. If you have weapons in your home (a recent survey indicated that 43% of Americans home have a gun in the home), be sure to keep them locked up!!

Apart from the locked up weapons in your home, the fact that your child has a weapon is a serious concern. Many murderers started their careers in crime by carrying a gun (they probably started off with rubber bands, sharp pencils, etc., then escalated to actual weapons). Nothing good can come from a child carrying a weapon. Get the weapon away from him/her and be prepared for years of professional assistance.

* Has serious disciplinary problems at school or in the community ---
Children do not engage in serious disciplinary problems without cause, whether it is provocation, substance abuse, emotional difficulty, trouble adjusting to adolescence, etc. However, serious disciplinary problems in school are always a sign of something that has gone amiss with your child. Get the necessary help right away!

* Abuses drugs, alcohol or other substances ---
Well, we have addressed this issue many times. Poor self-esteem, peer pressure, emotional difficulty, poor home life, etc., can lead to abuse of a variety of substances. Substance abuse will not go away by itself. Your child is screaming for help. Do not wait - get the help right away!

* Has few or no close friends ---
A large part of growing up is developing friends. While the adolescent years can be brutal on a child's relationships (friends one day and enemies the next), it is absolutely crucial for your child to develop at least one trusting, close friend. Your child needs at least one peer with whom to share feelings, thoughts, and issues about growing up.

If your child does not have any close friends, it is indicative of the fact that your child might be suffering from poor self-esteem, does not possess the ability to develop friends, or prefers to be alone at all times - even though this is not generally the true desire of most kids.

A child who is a loner is left to struggle through the dangers of adolescence all alone - without the help of any peers. The suggestion is to get and keep your child involved in various activities in which other kids engage, such as scouts, bowling, science club, etc. - any desirable activity where others are present and active would be highly beneficial to your child. of course, it's best to start these types of activities early in life, but it is never too late!

Hang in there, continue to love and support your kids, and we'll learn more soon!

Paul W. Reeves