I attended a fascinating presentation by Highlights magazine this summer and wanted to share some of the findings from their “State of the Kid” report.

kids and politics

Many thanks to Highlights Editor Christine Clark, a Mom Since 1986 (MS’86) (pictured here with me) for chatting with me prior to her presentation and sharing lots of golden nuggets about today’s kids. I was able to have her explain some of the key findings, and beyond that, I challenged her to share some parenting tips for The MomTini Lounge that stem from this report. Read on…

Here are some of the interesting findings from this year’s report:

–> There were surprising gender differences in terms of kids’ career aspirations. Boys aspired to be athletes, coaches, scientists. Girls gravitated toward the performing arts – artists, singers, models. Clark said, “As parents, we want to expose kids to a variety of career options. The choices they see on TV are narrow.” Clark’s tip: “Do ask kids what they want to be when they grow up, but dig deeper, and ask more frequently.”

–> Favorite attributes? Girls were twice as likely to name physical attributes: “long hair, thin, tall.” Boys named intelligence: “smart, do well in school.” This, Clark said, is consistent with reader mail. Her insight: “This strengthens our resolve to focus on the whole child. Tell stories of characters who are curious, caring & confident.”

–> Spending Time with Parents. To follow up on this line of questioning from last year’s survey, Highlights went further, asking, “What do you like to do with your parents?” The answers – far from expensive toys or vacations – focused on quality time. Clark explained, “The reality is that the simple things in life have the most punch…playing cards or board games, wrestling, snuggling/cuddling, riding bikes.”

–> Outer space? Clark said they were surprised that only one-third of the kids surveyed think they’ll visit outer space. “We WANT kids to dream big and imagine,” she said.

–> Allowance. According to survey results, 60% do receive allowance (typical amount $3-$5). “It appears that today’s allowance is lower (than a decade ago), and 90% must do chores in exchange.

–> Rules. When asked about rules, a surprisingly low number – only 4% – wanted to live without rules! A popular topic was bedtime – 22% of the kids surveyed wanted a later bedtime.