Posts Tagged ‘Father’s Day Gift Ideas’

PEP’s Noted Author Series Comes to DC Area




One of my favorite events each year, PEP’s Noted Author Series, is a great combination of education, entertainment, and parenting community at its best.  This year’s duo of speakers promises to be an amazing line-up of tips and ideas you can bring home to your own families.  Events are filling fast for November 19-20 in the DC/MD/VA area, so grab your seats, and get ready for some #MomTastic information.  Full disclosure, I’m a volunteer Board Member at PEP, and I’m a huge believer as you know in parenting education and collaboration.

Here are some excerpts from interviews each speaker had with Katherine Reynolds Lewis that I hope you’ll find useful.

Letting Go of Your Tween or Teen

By Katherine Reynolds Lewis

Michael J. Bradley is a practicing adolescent psychologist and award-winning author of Yes, Your Teen is Crazy!  Loving Your Kid Without Losing Your Mind.  He shared some insights with Katherine Reynolds Lewis about how parents can cope with the tumultuous experience of raising an adolescent…

Parents talk about something called teen rebellion. Most of us believe there’s no such thing, any more than there is neighbor rebellion. Your next door neighbor may disagree with you about politics and house color and music. I don’t think you say they’re being disrespectful. We’re different, but we can live together. That’s the new configuration.

Adolescent brains are works in progress. The last part that gets wired in is the most difficult part – judgment, mediating emotion, good long-term decisions. They wire all the passion stuff first – the sex, popularity, instant gratification – and the last thing that gets wired in is the brakes. It’s a really scary ride for a period of time.

Parents have to make a decision early on about what their mission is. Most parents decide their mission is to control their child. We advocate that your real mission should be to teach your child to control himself. It involves using respect-based techniques where you try to help your child think through things and learn, so the child can one day sort those things out on her own.

A Less-Is-More Approach to Parenting

By Katherine Reynolds Lewis

Vicki Hoefle is a parent educator and author of The Straight Talk on Parenting: A No-Nonsense Approach on How to Grow a Grown-Up and Duct Tape Parenting: A Less Is More Approach to Raising Respectful, Responsible, and Resilient Kids Here are some of her insights she shared with Katherine Reynolds Lewis about her five-step plan to becoming an effective, engaged parent of kids who solve their own problems.

Parents are under a lot of pressure in life in general, outside of their role as parents. There’s a lot of pressure to perform, to succeed, to get ahead, and that filters into their parenting. Then parenting becomes another vehicle for that stress-induced performance anxiety. That wears us down.

What if you took one step to the right and a half step back so your kids could see the world they’re being asked to navigate? You can be involved but you’re just far enough away that the child can develop their own assessment skills, the difference between good and bad choices, learn how to overcome frustration, how to make amends, to reach out, to take a healthy risk. You would be close enough to watch this and offer a little commentary, when asked, so you find that balance between being involved and taking over.

Parents have a sense that there’s a way to create more balance in the family. Then it’s about introducing them to these five foundational pieces:

  1. Focus on developing relationship strategies. If what you’re going to do is going to fracture the relationship with your child, don’t do it. That includes nagging, reminding, counting, bribing, giving in, because each of those fractures the relationship a little bit. Over the course of 10 years, it’s no wonder that tweens find their parents unpalatable, because there’s a crack in the foundation. When you establish a good relationship with your kids, they’re more cooperative and they’re more responsible. Those are the byproducts of a healthy relationship.
  2. What we generally call discipline strategies are really control strategies. We have a chance to help our children develop self-control, self-regulation, along with many other character traits, if we stop focusing on compliance and start focusing on character development over time. The benefit is if you focused on teaching your kids self-control early, by the time they were 7, there would be little fighting between children, you’d be able to trust they wouldn’t be on the computer when they weren’t allowed, and when they got into middle school, they’d have the mental muscle to say, “I’m not going to cheat on the test.”
  3. The third is to quit your job as the maid. We give our kids 18 years to master all the self skills, social skills and life skills they’re going to need to live a healthy and fulfilling adult life. That is messy, and it takes them time to learn. There’s this propensity to make things neat and tidy. We can do it faster and better but what we give up is the ability to be emotionally available to our kids. When you’re doing, your attention is somewhere else. They need us to be emotionally available when they get into a tough spot. They don’t need us to be doing their laundry, making their lunch. How do you make that shift in an organized way so the family isn’t thrown into chaos?
  4. This idea that our children should be happy all the time. The human experience is one of ups and downs. Our job is to ensure that our children know how to pick themselves up when they are down, not to ensure that they are never down. There’s this added pressure on parents that their children should always be happy, that their children are never upset. I talk about what stops us from allowing our kids to have temper tantrums, what stops us from letting our kids be frustrated, left out, to fail, so over the course of 18 years they don’t worry about making a mistake because they know how to pick themselves back up. We’re seeing the results of the kids who don’t have that resiliency, because that’s where the anxiety comes from, the increase in cutting, promiscuity, that is the result of kids who are incredibly emotionally immature because of parents who save them from even the smallest disappointment in life.
  5. The last piece is this idea that parenting isn’t about what happens between 0 and 18, it’s really about what happens between 18 and 80. When you get into that mindset you’re no longer worried about being the perfect parent or having the perfect child. You’re much better at moving through a difficult moment with grace and ease because you’re not raising a 7 year old. It opens up the possibility that we do not have to be so stressed about a child who’s rude, or clothes are mismatched, or gets a C in algebra for a year until he decides he doesn’t want to get a C any more. It’s to look beyond this moment that is so awful that it threatens to drop us into a pit of despair and instead say, “This is nothing, this is something the child will pass through on his way to maturity.” It inspires parents to go back to being a real mentor, a real leader, a real resource to their children, instead of saying, “I will do your life and then I will drop you on the freeway when you’re 18 and then you will have to enter traffic on your own.”


PEP Bradley and Hoefle Postcard final



Family Table Time Aims to Rescue the Mealtime Treasure

teamwork - family table timeThis week’s #MomtasticFind is a new product that has a simple but really important mission:  to rescue, elevate, and improve the family dinner hour.  After reviewing some of their pieces, I wanted to share a great quote from their piece about teamwork, because I think it’s most relevant to a successful family unit (and getting the dishes done…).  “When we work together, we can accomplish so much more…Teamwork requires good listening skills and cooperation among all members of the group.”

Here’s a synopsis from their press release…

At a time when electronic and digital passion monopolizes our children’s time and lives, Kimball Companies found a new, easy and fun way for families to connect.  Family Table Time was designed by Neal and Jill Kimball to help engage families with very meaningful conversations while creating unforgettable memories.  It promotes positive behaviors in parents and children to cook, eat, talk, connect, engage, read, learn and move together as a family.  The Kimballs saw the time invested in their jobs, kids’ schools, as well as their after school activities kept them from enjoying this valuable time with their kids.  They needed a time that was theirs – a time to teach, share, laugh and celebrate – this special time was going by fast.

Everything changed when the Kimballs realized what was absent from their lives, a simple family dinner – that had been a cornerstone of the family. The “and how was your day?” conversation around the pot roast from their childhood that kept the family together was not happening with their children.  Based on “Ready, Set, Connect“, it works like this: 1) Cook and Eat as a Family

2) Talk, Connect, Celebrate and Capture Memories

3) Move, Play, or Exercise Together

Editor’s Note:  I love it!  We do our very best to make mealtime a “cell free zone,” and I definitely think mealtime is one of the best treasures a family has.  The Kimball’s program has everything you need to make it a success including conversation starters, positive reinforcement, and lots of ingredients for success at your own table, and who knows, some of these valuable skills may find their way beyond the table.  I previewed some of the downloads, and they’re colorful, easy-to-follow, and applicable to kids of all ages.  Their “Talking Torch” is adorable, and gives you a chance to give everyone a voice at the table.  Who can argue with that?  Check it out here.

Here’s a great news clip on the story behind this story.

Editor’s Note:  No compensation was provided to write this post – I’m donating this story as a public service to fellow families and hope I can “pay it forward” so more and more families have better dinner adventures together.

Health Tips for Parents

back to school dr fu photo provided by childrens

Even though we’re beyond back-to-school season, colder temperatures bring cold & flu season, so it’s timely to talk about healthy routines.  Thanks to Dr. Linda Fu, a general pediatrician at Children’s National Health System, who sent me health tips for parents:

1.       Make sure your child is up to date on their vaccinations. In recent years, the recommended vaccination schedule has changed due to more disease outbreaks in the U.S. Visit the CDC’s website for a list of required vaccinations by age group.  Editor’s Note:  Here’s a great “catch-up schedule” if you think you may be missing some.

2.       Practice routines including easing your child into a regular sleep schedule.  According to new guidelines released by the National Sleep Foundation, school-aged children need between nine and 11 hours of sleep per night.  Not having enough sleep can impede the learning process and make it difficult for your child to fully focus on what’s being taught.

3.     Make sure your child’s nutrition needs are met. This includes eating breakfast every day and making sure your child has a well-balanced lunch. Eating right will help your child focus and learn better during the school day. It’s also important to pay attention to how your child reacts to different foods. If you notice something that may be a food allergy, take your child to a primary care provider to be tested. Limiting your child’s food options before officially being tested is not recommended, as you may unintentionally be cutting out an important food group. If your child does have an allergy, make sure their teacher and/or school nurse knows and that you are familiar with the school’s policy. Some food allergies are very serious, and it’s crucial to make sure your child’s teacher knows their restrictions so they can ensure you child stays safe at school.

4.       Take your child to get an annual check-up with your primary care physician. New classrooms mean new germs.

Photo provided by Children’s National Health System.

Author Bio:

Linda Fu, MD, MS, is a general pediatrician at Children’s National Health System and an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the George Washington University School of Medicine. Dr. Fu also serves as the Director of Outcomes and Evaluation for Children’s School Services and as the Immunization Initiatives Representative for the DC Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Dr. Fu’s advocacy and research interests lie in immunization delivery—understanding and removing barriers to children receiving recommended vaccinations to keep them and the community at-large safe from vaccine-preventable diseases. She has current funding from the NIH to examine social influences on parental vaccination decision-making. Dr. Fu has overseen several projects to update pediatric providers in the District of Columbia and in 21 states on the implementation of immunization delivery best practices.

Radio Interview: Getting Your Family Onboard for Food Prep & Clean-Up

RadioMD logo


Many thanks to Mompreneur friends Ellen Briggs and Carolina Lima Jantac for hosting me on their radio show.  If engaging teamwork in the kitchen sounds out of reach, think again.  There are tons of creative ways (beyond screaming and canceling cell phone service, both of which I’ve tried unsuccessfully many times) to get the kids on board to help make meals and clean up after.

Link to 10-minute broadcast here

I cautioned that safety comes first, so clearly think about ages and stages before getting young kids involved, but there are tons of helpful tasks for kids of any age.  A while back, I tried to capture the frustration along with a dose of inspiration, “What a Chore to Make Chores Work,” because it is truly tough to get kids excited about dishwashing soap.  It’s been 40+ years since Marlo Thomas released the all-time classic, “Free to Be You And Me,” but she was spot on in her “Housework is just no fun” song.  So what can we do to get the job done together and maybe have some fun along the way?

Check out the radio interview to hear our discussion, and here are links to some more articles on kids and chores:

  • When and How to Start Chores – Gregg Murset, My Job Chart founder, suggests to start them young and to be fair and consistent
  • Hal Runkel’s ScreamFree Parenting eQuip is so true:  “Isn’t it amazing that kids can create power point presentations … and figure out how to fix your iPod without even blinking, yet they will spend a full 15 minutes complaining about how hard it is to vacuum the living room?”

Comment on this post with your creative ideas on getting kids to help!


You Are Musical Launches New Website





This week’s MomTastic Find is a personal favorite and (full disclosure) client of ours.  You Are Musical just launched a very exciting production..its new website.  The company specializes in early childhood music education (with options for adults too), with programs in schools, homes, the community, and more.  Along the production route, I learned some fascinating stats about kids and music that I wanted to share here at The Lounge.

  • Did you know…the piano was invented in 1700 in Florence, Italy.  That, along with the fact that 3 million guitars were sold in the U.S. last year, makes for some good dinner table trivia.
  • Time Magazine reports that music can change your brain.  The magazine published, “Children who not only regularly attended music classes, but also actively participated in the class, showed larger improvements in how the brain processes speech and reading scores than their less-involved peers.”
  • A 2015 study detailed in The Washington Post demonstrates that music lessons “spur emotional and behavioral growth in children.”

There’s lots more science and FUN about the magic of music on their Facebook page.

Plus, here’s a bonus for MomTini Lounge friends in the Washington, DC, and NY/NJ metro areas:  Grab your FREE INTRODUCTORY LESSON ($50 value) for new students. Email to book your first lesson.  Mention promo code MOM2015 before November 1, 2015 to redeem.

Editor’s Note:  You Are Musical is a client of Write Ideas, Inc., but the opinions expressed here are all our own!

Ideas for Keeping the Kids Busy When You Have Chores to Get Done

kids and chores picture




Guest Author Corinne Jacob shared some great tips on how to keep the kids busy when you have stuff to do.  She suggests a combination of engagement and diversion, both great tactics depending on what you need to do.

She shared a great quote, “Moms are always on call.”  That line, from Author Susan Newman’s The Book of No: 250 Ways to Say It – and Mean It – and Stop People-Pleasing Forever, definitely captures the mom’s shift (24/7).  Here, Jacob shares some sage advice for supermoms around the world on how to keep the kids busy when you need to focus on something else.

Doing chores

A chore for a chore – that’s one of the most effective ways of keeping kids busy when you have a number of errands to run. You may be surprised to learn that kids actually love it when they are assigned household chores like arranging their books, running the vacuum cleaner, etc. This is a great way to help them develop a sense of responsibility towards their home and family.

Editor’s Note:  This is my favorite, and I love getting the kids involved.  I’m about to publish another article on this very topic.

Make an account of kitchen stocks

Get the kids involved in taking inventory in your kitchen. Give them a list of the items that you generally buy every month and have them give you a stock estimate so that you know what quantity of each item to buy. It will also be a good idea if the kids can write down their estimates of the quantity they think you should be buying.

Register on virtual worlds online

There are a number of safe and educational virtual worlds for kids.  Virtual worlds such as Neopets can engage kids (and adults like me!) for hours on end. There’s a lot to explore and learn – discovering new lands, playing mini games, and of course, looking after your pets.

Care for pets

If you have a pet at home, then putting it to your child’s care while you’re busy finishing other chores is a good idea. Kids will grow a sense of duty towards their pet while looking after the pet’s needs and interacting with them. And all the ‘running around’ will give them the much needed exercise that they generally avoid!

Make crafts and projects

Kids are the happiest when they have a bunch of craft supplies with them! Engaging children with crafts and activities while you are busy at another important thing is a foolproof solution of keeping both the parties contended!

Author Bio:

Corinne Jacob is a wannabe writer who is convinced that kids learn best when they’re having fun. She is constantly on the lookout for new and exciting ways to make learning an enjoyable experience. Corinne loves all things that scream out un-schooling, alternative education and holistic learning.

Photo credit

PEP on FOX News About Toddlers and Swearing

PEP LOGOKudos to Parent Encouragement Program (PEP)’s Dana Spencer, a parent educator, on her recent appearances on FOX News.  Here’s a clip from “Correcting Bad Behavior: What To Do If Your Toddler Is Swearing.”
Even though our boys are teenagers, I totally remember cursing when they were younger, and my “deer in headlights” look that followed.  A couple of times, I quickly moved onto the next subject, hoping it was overlooked.  And we’ve also created a “family bad words jar” where we will charge for bad words.  We do get sloppy, especially as our kids get older, but I’d certainly like to “keep it clean.”

Dana shared some great ideas on FOX News including…

  • Watch your own reaction when your kids curse
  • Try word substitution
  • Talk about consequences

I liked how Dana talked about consequences in a novel “PEP” way.  Of course there are consequences when kids do things they shouldn’t, but she also explained the benefit of explaining to young kids how their friends might feel if they talk that way.  Check out the segment.

Note:  I’m a Board Member at PEP, a local non-profit parent educator, and just LOVE their programs.  The Fall schedule is gearing up if you’re looking to tune up your parenting skills with a group of peers!

How to Avoid Summer Brain Drain










Math packets and summer reading are probably last on your list.  After a long school year, everyone is ready for a break.  But there’s loads of research that shows that a complete “brain break” isn’t always the best thing.  Here’s a guest post with some tips on how to keep some momentum going during the summer months from Barbara Dianis, MA, ED, education specialist and author of Grade Transformer for the Modern Student.

Social plans may trump academic plans; however, a non-academic summer can cause students to digress two to three months in their scholastic skills. The notorious summer brain drain can cause students to struggle academically in the fall as they try to relearn several months of forgotten core concepts. Summer is an ideal time for children and teenagers to strengthen their academic skills, close learning gaps, perform better next year, and still have plenty of time leftover for sports, clubs, summer jobs or other summer activities.

  • Reading. Set aside time for your teenagers to read each day during the summer break – 15 to 30 minutes is all it takes per day. During the summer, students have more time to read for enjoyment while preserving and strengthening their reading skills. In addition, keep a dictionary or online source to help students decode words they are not able to read by using the phonetic spelling provided. Children and teenagers can progress several months in their literacy and reading skills during summertime. Plus, poolside or beach reading counts.
  • Math. Work on 3-4 math problems a day that students learned during the previous school year so their mathematical skills don’t become rusty. You can buy a math workbook at a teacher supply store or online that is designed to review and teach math procedures at the appropriate mathematical level.
  • Comprehension. To improve reading comprehension, consider providing your kids with a reading comprehension workbook, including self-quizzes. Kids can benefit scholastically by working in a reading comprehension workbook a few minutes daily to help reinforce and strengthen their reading comprehension skill. Teacher supply stores and online sources offer reading comprehension workbooks with short stories and self-quizzes.
  • Writing. Have your children or teens write creative writing paragraphs weekly. Writing a creative writing paragraph weekly will improve written language skills. Help your kids choose topics such as a family vacation, special outing, movie, sports game, picnic, birthday party, celebration or holiday memory.

The summer brain drain can be avoided in students of all ages who work on strengthening their scholastic skills several hours a week. The time can be broken into short time segments. Summertime is a fantastic time to help students be ready for a scholastically successful upcoming school year.

Summer Camp – Creative Ways to Stay In Touch

Sleep Away CampSummer camp is such a gift for both kids AND parents, and whether your kids are at day camp, sleep-away, or “mom camp,” there are tons of great resources for parents. I wanted to share some of my favorite camp posts that are full of ideas for staying in touch with your camper, getting more than “Hi Mom” in camp letters, sending non-food care packages since many camps prohibit ant-attracting mail, etc.

This is a unique summer for me, because I have a camper, a CILT (trainee), and a Counselor, so I’m enjoying hearing about their adventures from so many different angles.

It’s impossible to forget how nervous I was sending my kids away to camp the first time, and I told them that many years ago, I found great comfort the first night when I looked outside and realized we were all looking at the same moon, even though we were miles away. Now, watching my older boys work with younger kids, and see how much fun they have teaching and leading, it makes me realize just how special it all is to grow up at camp.

Here are some of my favorite camp posts loaded with ideas and tips – hope you’ll share with friends!

  • Care Package Ideas and Camp Questionnaire – I put together a list of quick, easy care package ideas that your camper will love. Also, I had a lot of fun putting together a camp questionnaire when my kids were little so that I could pull a few more words out of their pens. Rest period is short, and they certainly need some REST, so this makes it easy for them to send you information quickly.
  • Stay In Touch With Your Camper – Here’s a lit of creative ways to stay in touch. Everything from sending pre-addressed, stamped envelopes (enabling, I know, but hey, they’re busy!) to varying your letters with cards, etc.
  • Summer Ideas for Staycationers – And if it’s Camp Mom this summer, or day camp while you work, there are tons of fun things you can do to enjoy time off together and create some homemade fun.

Share your creative camp ideas by adding a comment to this post!  Or, on twitter, share and add @MomTiniLounge.

How to Avoid Overbooking Your Kids

WearTheCapeLogoOverbooked?  Guilty here…We absolutely live a frenetic life with 3 boys, sports, activities, and oh yea, school!  It all adds up to busy days that turn into busy weeks and months, and all of a sudden, no one is sure where the time went.  I’m definitely against forcing kids to do things they don’t want to do for no good reason, but…I’m very much FOR letting kids stay active in sports and activities, even if it adds frenzy to our family life.  It also adds afternoons watching sporting events and car rides to and from where you get to catch up.  That said, this guest post, from Philip Brown, PhD, a resident expert character education at Wear The Cape, has some great ideas which even busy families may find useful.  I definitely think that well-timed “pauses” are good for everyone, myself included.

Wear the Cape describes itself as a “mission-powered brand with the nerve to equate being kind with being cool.”  More info on them is below this guest post.

5 Tips to Avoid Overbooking Your Kids and Find Life Balance

  1. Let your kids know that you care about them for who they are, not just what they can do. Children need to know that your love is not contingent on their achievements.
  2. Remember that children do not have the same sense of time that you do. Part of growing up is being able to put things in perspective. There will likely be another friend, another team, another trip if this one does not work out.
  3. Working hard at something you love to do is one of the best parts of life. It takes some of us a lot of experimenting to find those things we love. Kids need that free time to try new things, as well as the permission to give them up and try something else.
  4. Some kids organize their time and find their interests with just a little exposure; other kids may need a bit of a push to try things that don’t seem attractive or interesting (or may be threatening). The trick here is to be sensitive to individual needs and persistent in offering opportunities. If you need to be pushy, try to offer alternatives, so kids have a voice in what they will be doing. For example, some children thrive in competitive sports, and others may find their niche in hiking or dancing.
  5. Remember to include exposure to helping others in your family activities. One of the best ways of developing empathy in our children (and ourselves) is to feel the gratitude that is expressed when we help others. This doesn’t happen if we don’t have the opportunity of interacting with others in need or whom we help. This can happen within the context of the family itself, as well, and doesn’t necessarily require a formal charity event. Create opportunities in which children can feel that they have meaningfully helped other family members or the whole family accomplish something. The combination of caring, responsibility, feeling respected, and gratitude is a powerful stew that nourishes the soul.

Dr. Brown advocates, “Saying ‘no’ when demands become more than we can handle, or to children who may feel that they are supposed to be involved with everything their friends are doing to keep up, is not easy, and can be particularly difficult if our sense of self, who we want to believe we are or should be, seems dependent on saying ‘yes’ and doing it all.”

About Wear the Cape and the kidkind foundation

Wear the Cape™ for all kidkind™ is the first global, mission-powered brand with the nerve to equate being kind with being cool. By coaching kids to be BETTER THAN THAT™, Wear the Cape breaks down barriers and brings people together—a world of new values prevails: It’s cool to be inclusive, tolerant and socially responsible. From its line of apparel and accessories, to its educational tools and its own non-profit the kidkind foundation, Wear the Cape sparks awareness and raises money to build heroes, a kid at a time. Wear the Cape’s products and resources are designed to create teachable moments between kids and the grown-ups they look up to with Hero Tags that tee up conversations about what it means to stand up and stand out; to stick up for the underdog; to do what’s right, not what’s easy. Wear the Cape donates 10% of its net profits directly to the kidkind foundation, and the rest is reinvested in the design and production of new products, as well as character-building educational materials for parents and teachers to help the kids they love. Wear the Cape’s work with communities and schools is helping mold everyday heroes that will create a kinder, better world for us all.

Raising Financially-Savvy Teens









With summer around the corner, kids will have the opportunity to make and of course, SPEND money.  These tips on how to raise money-savvy teens caught my eye, and come from financial security expert and two-time New York Times bestselling author Pamela Yellen.

Pamela suggests the following building blocks for your teen’s financial literacy:

* Connect becoming financially savvy with becoming more independent:
Teens aren’t interested in learning about money to become “financially responsible adults.” They’re interested in gaining more autonomy and more freedom. Teens are starting to decide who they want to be and how they want to live. They want to be independent and stand on their own two feet.

* Clean up the mess you’ve made: Maybe some of the ways you’ve dealt with money with your kids have not been brilliant. Maybe you gave them allowances without any responsibilities to earn it. Maybe you haven’t allowed them to make even the smallest spending decisions.  Maybe you’ve bailed them out every time they overspent. Just stop it. It may cause some upset and may need some explanation. But your mission as a parent is to help them develop skills they’ll need to be out on their own. Don’t sabotage their futures by continuing unhealthy family patterns with money.

* Correct your failure to communicate:
Good communication with teens is almost an oxymoron!  They’re frustrated with their parents, and typically their parents are frustrated with them. “Because I say so!” is no longer an effective explanation, and they’re no longer the compliant eight-year-olds you once knew. The burden is on you to get communication channels open so they can hear what you have to say about money.

More tips from Yellen:
* Be a good listener first
* Acknowledge and support your teen’s increased autonomy
* Accept their feelings and respect their opinions
* Admit it when you’re wrong, and discuss your mistakes and what you learned from them
* Above all, avoid nagging, guilt trips, and lecturing!

Yellen explains, “Avoid any statement that could be accompanied by a wagging index finger, like ‘You have to learn this so you’ll end up to be a responsible adult, not a deadbeat like your Uncle Harry,’ or ‘You’re not getting a credit card, young lady, until you show a little maturity with your spending.’ Your teen will instantly flip into ‘I can’t hear you’ mode. You’ll get better results with, ‘If you learn to be financially savvy, you’ll be able to create a life where you can have and do the things you really want to do. Would you be interested?’ Or ‘If you’re interested in getting your first credit card, I know exactly how you can earn it. Would you like to know?'”

About the Author: Financial security expert Pamela Yellen is author of the New York Times best-selling book, THE BANK ON YOURSELF REVOLUTION: Fire Your Banker, Bypass Wall Street, and Take Control of Your Own Financial Future and Editor-in-Chief of The Women’s Financial Edge. Pamela investigated more than 450 financial strategies seeking an alternative to the risk and volatility of stocks and other investments, which led her to a time-tested, predictable method of growing wealth now used by more than 500,000 Americans.







Great Note on Kids and Chores



I saw Hal Runkel (ScreamFree Parenting) at a PEP event and have been reading his Daily “ScreamFree eQuips” ever since.  This one is so spot on, I had to share it with you.  It always makes me laugh that our kids are so technically literate and can text, SnapChat, and Facebook simultaneously, but I can clear the room in an instant when I ask for someone to take the trash out.  All joking aside, my boys do help, but as moms know, there’s always more to do…

Your Daily ScreamFree eQuip, with Founder Hal E. Runkel, LMFT
“It is amazing how quickly the kids learn to drive a car, yet are unable to understand the lawnmower, snow-blower, or vacuum cleaner.”
(Ben Bergor)
Kids and Chores
Isn’t it amazing that kids can create power point presentations about their Christmas lists and figure out how to fix your ipod without even blinking, yet they will spend a full 15 minutes complaining about how hard it is to vacuum the living room? It is natural, though, I suppose. I would much rather spend time reorganizing my “guilty pleasures disco hits” selection than clean a toilet, but, life stinks that way (pun completely intended). My good friend John Alan Turner once said that there should be a sliding scale of freedom and responsibility when it comes to kids. As they grow, they should be given more of each, in proportion to one another. If they are given too much freedom without responsibility, they become spoiled. If given too much responsibility without freedom, they are rebels waiting to happen.

Why Family Meetings are a Hidden Treasure

Meghan Leahy’s recent article in The Washington Post, “The right response when your child doesn’t want to be ‘bossed around'” is a great look at autonomy-seeking single-digit aged kids.  She talks about independence and how healthy and necessary it can be, even if it’s uncomfortable for parents.  Leahy writes, “All children who are developing to their fullest potential come to an age when they want to create a space for themselves, a voice and a sense of independence within their families.”

Leahy illustrates this approach with a shout-out to a strategy she learned at the Parent Encouragement Program, the family meeting.  The idea of getting everyone together once a week to discuss the family agenda and to engage the kids in finding solutions so they have a voice in the management of the family is a great one to remember.  I, too, learned about this at a PEP class, where I’m currently also a Board member.

I asked PEP to share some class materials here at The Lounge to give our readers some insight into how how family meetings can be done, and why they’re helpful.  When I took PEP‘s multi-week Teens class last spring, they spent a lot of time teaching us how to plan, structure and implement family “councils” or meetings, and WHY they help each kid feel like a productive, useful, problem-solving member of the family team.  PEP’s curriculum writes, “A harmonious family is orderly…cooperative, efficient, and pleasant, (with) an atmosphere of friendliness, kindness and love.”

PEP advocates an “open forum, in which all family members can express ideas, opinions and complaints, and be listened to.”  Some elements of the meeting can include:

  • information
  • plans
  • rules
  • complaints
  • decisions

I love it!  We used to do this more regularly at our home and have picked it up again recently.  There are tons of ways you can personalize it, including a clockwise “compliment circle” where you go around the table and say something nice about the person next to you.  That certainly kicks things off in a friendly manner, and who doesn’t love to be complimented?  I share and then post our color-coded (yes, I’m a details person) calendar on the wall, and it’s great to look at the big picture and the little details that drive our busy lives… together.

*Note – PEP materials provided here with credit to Leader B. Clair Hawes, Consultant.

National Poison Prevention Week Tips Regarding Laundry Packets

NPPW posterIn 2014, the American Association of Poison Control Centers received reports of more than 11,000 accidental exposures to laundry packets by children aged 5 and below.

Here are some timely safety tips from from The American Cleaning Institute in anticipation of National Poison Prevention week:

– Never let kids handle laundry packets

– Always store products up and out of sight from kids

– Always store laundry packets in their original container and closed

Here’s a link to more tips.

MomTastic Find: Marimba Chat

Marimba color friend list





Sponsored Post

There’s nothing more fun than working on a PR project for a family-friendly product that I view as “MomTastic,” and Marimba Chat is a perfect example!  I wanted to share this exciting news at The Lounge

Young kids want to text.  Parents want to keep them safe.  Until recently, think of the young kids’ “digital playground” as mobile messaging without a hall monitor.

Mainstream apps want you to be 13+, so kids either lie about their age and participate in platforms that are built for and marketed to adults, or wait.  However…

  • Young kids are more digitally savvy than ever. In fact, one survey reported that 52% of kids spend SIX hours a day online.*
  • Parents struggle to keep up with the rapid fire technology…This same survey said 80% of parents don’t have the time or energy to keep up with their children online.

Here’s a news feature detailing the first-ever COPPA-certified messaging app that allows young kids (7-12) to text in a safe environment where parents can monitor everything in real-time.  Developed by a father-daughter duo, Marimba Chat gives parents a way to ease their digitally-ready kids safely into mobile messaging.  It’s a “walk before you run” approach to texting where young kids benefit from learning digital etiquette and practicing and learning from mistakes in a controlled/safe environment.

A great overview, told by 8-year-old Co-Founder Annelise, is here, followed by a story of how this all started.

First-ever COPPA-certified Messaging App

Offers Real-time Monitoring, Identify Verification and Safeguards

So Young Kids can Learn Valuable Lessons on the Digital Playground

Today’s kids are growing up in a digital world, and the menu of options available – Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Kik Messenger and so on – requires kids to be 13 or older. Younger kids, aged 7-12, are left to either lie about their age or not play on the digital playground. If kids choose to register with mainstream apps, they are set free in a world designed for and marketed to adults. There is a void of legal, safe options available to them for social messaging.

Why are there age limits? The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) aims to protect children under 13. The rule brings strict requirements and stiff fines ($16,000 per violation) so most companies avoid younger age groups altogether.

Parents struggle to keep up as well. The recent McAfee survey, “Digital Deception: Exploring the Online Disconnect between Parents and Kids,” reports that 52 percent of kids spend six hours a day online, but 80 percent of parents say they don’t have the time or energy to keep up with their children online.

One father-daughter software development team is confident that their newly minted app will ease young kids into the world of social media with the help of their parents as digital coaches. It started when co-founder and 8-year-old Annelise Schiebler asked if she could chat with her friends online. Her father, co-founder Andrew Schiebler, was surprised that there wasn’t already a range of options for young kids.

After more research, the father-daughter duo developed Marimba Chat, the first COPPA-certified messaging app for kids. Andrew explained, “There are very few social networking products made for this age group. Our goal is to give elementary school kids a safe place to chat with their friends and family.” Marimba is currently free to download in the App Store.

Marimba is designed to be safe for kids and easy for parents. Highlights include:

  • Identify verification of all new accounts using information from a parent’s government-issued ID.
  • Parents review all invitations and friend connections so they can approve people they trust and block those they don’t.
  • Filters and alerts for geolocation, profanity, and overall security.
  • An ability to monitor chat activity from the parent’s own phone in real-time.
  • Time controls so parents can limit chat hours.

 Marimba is the first messaging app certified by kidSAFE, an independent safety seal-of-approval program, to be compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

Co-founder Andrew Schiebler noted several key areas in which parents can teach their kids “digital etiquette” so they learn and practice safe methods from the start. “We help parents teach kids about online interaction like appropriate language, how to treat their friends, and what to do if they feel threatened. These life skills are just as critical in the digital arena as they are on the school playground.”

Kids and technology are here to stay. According to Marimba, kids should be supported by carefully designed safeguards so that their experience is both fun and age-appropriate.

About Marimba

Marimba is a mobile messaging platform designed for children under 13. Co-founders Andrew Schiebler and 8-year old daughter Annelise Schiebler created Marimba to help parents introduce children to social media. Andrew has 20 years’ experience building software products and startup companies. Annelise is currently in 3rd grade and enjoys karate, basketball, and building software with her dad. For more information about Marimba, visit

Marimba is currently free to download in the App Store.

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Disclosure:  Marimba Chat is a paid client of Write Ideas, Inc., our PR firm, but any opinions expressed here are our own.




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