If I praise my kids too much, will I make them soft?

Little League

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve attended a dance recital where my daughter kinda-sorta showed dancing skills, and baseball games where my son kinda-sorta showed baseball skills. My wife and I gave both kids effusive praise for their efforts. This leads me to wonder: Can you give kids too much praise?

On reflection, I think that’s a stupid question. But it keeps popping up in my head. Ideally, I want my kids to feel confident but not cocky. They should feel like they’re capable of performing at a high level, but also that there’s more to learn.

It’s one of those stupid mental chess games you wind up playing against yourself. There are a lot of moments where I feel like I overthink things as a parent, and this is one of them. It’s silly to give or withhold praise as though it’s a strategic reserve.

Read more at BabyCenter.com!

3 Silver Linings to a Bad Case of Dance Recital Stage Fright

Dance Recital

My daughter had her dance recital over the weekend. I’m  sure most parents were happy with the event, which featured lots of cuteness and little stage fright. When you’re dealing with 3- and 4-year-olds, you’re in it for the cuteness, not the precision.

Of course, not everybody is ready to go up on stage and dance in front of a crowd of strangers. While most of the girls did their dance, one child got a particularly bad case of stage fright. She didn’t just freeze up — she cried through the entire routine.

Read more at BabyCenter.com!

How (and why!) this 8-Year-Old Learned to Drive from a YouTube Tutorial

Drive Thru

Last week, an 8-year-old boy took his younger sister on a drive to McDonald’s. Their parents were asleep, and the kids wanted cheeseburgers. Supposedly, the brother learned to drive by watching training videos on YouTube. This story serves as a great commentary on the world we live in today. Let’s unpack it, piece by piece.

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Do You Feel Less Guilty if Screen Time Means Non-Violent Games?

Video Games

My wife introduced our kids to the Mario Party video games. Our kids, in turn, have informed me that for the next few days I should refer to them as Mario and Princess Peach. Thankfully, they didn’t go so far as to ask me to amend their birth certificates.

These games of make-believe sometimes leave me wondering if we’ve allowed too much screen time in our house. But then I ask myself what I and my brothers were doing when we were about that old. We pretended we were robots because we watched Small Wonder every morning.

More significantly, there was a time not long ago where I was worried my son didn’t have much of an imagination. Playing games of pretend seemed to be foreign to him. Now that’s no longer a problem, so unless he starts struggling in school or socially, I’m happy to see him flex his creative muscles.

The fact that our kids have easier access to video games than any previous generation does lead me to wonder which form of screen time is better. Are video games building our kids’ imagination and problem-solving skills, or are they even worse than TV? The research is mixed but seems to favor video games.

Read more at BabyCenter.com!

More Hands-On Dads Means Great Things for All Parents

Dad and Baby

We all know that times change, but I’m not sure we always appreciate how drastically they change. Take stay-at-home dads. They used to be rare but, as discussed in a recent NPR article, they’re becoming more common. The emergence of the stay at home dad has brought a slew of parenting changes for the future.

A survey from the Pew Research Center found that dads have more than doubled their family involvement since 1965, that fewer dads are the sole bread-winner for their family, and that more dads see parenting as central to their identity. However, there’s no road map – this new breed of father is learning as they go.

Even dads who still work full-time outside the home tend to be more hands-on with taking care of their kids. Fathers are changing diapers, cooking, cleaning, and driving kids to activities more than they did in previous generations. But because the roles have changed so dramatically, they don’t usually ask their own dads for advice.

Read more at BabyCenter.com!

My Son Has a Better Reaction to Bullies than I Do

Bully

The deal my wife and I have with our kids is simple: they have to pick some sort of extracurricular activity, be it sports, dance, or what have you. If they don’t like it, they can try something else. The deal with myself is also simple: I don’t want to be a stereotypical sports parent.

By “stereotypical sports parent,” I mean the most negative stereotype out there – they kind of person who screams at coaches and generally acts like a boor instead of enjoying the game. I’m not that competitive a person, so in theory that’s an easy promise to keep. Despite that, I almost lost it yesterday.

On the bright side, it didn’t have anything to do with me being overly competitive. Instead, it had to do with one kid being a bully on the ice. This guy has been a problem for months, as he seems to think that sports exist only to pummel kids smaller than him.

Read more at BabyCenter.com!