Archive for May 31, 2011

Sympathy versus Doing the Right Thing

Hope everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend.  Today’s post is meant to teach a lesson that could have blinded me in one eye. I hope you can learn something from one of my most disastrous mistakes working with children.

Two or three years ago, I took my eldest child to the doctor for a checkup and a couple of shots.  I do not like needles in the least and I wasn’t exactly looking forward to the appointment.  When the time came for my child to receive his shots, he was uncooperative to say the least.

The nurse practitioner asked me to hold him.  Normally, this would not have been a problem.  But, I felt a little sorry for him.  Imagine my child was face down on a table with me on top of him holding his arms to his side.  Why this position was chosen escapes me.  Somehow, he wrestled one of his arms free and was able to grab the needle from the nurse practitioner (don’t ask me how) though I didn’t know it immediately.

In an instant, the needle my child was holding came directly towards me.  In the nick of time, I secured his arm centimeters from my right eye only to find the needle in his hand.  I couldn’t believe what had nearly happened.  I left the doctor’s office more shaken than my child.

There are times we are sympathetic towards children because what they are doing may be tough.  Most parents do not want to see their children in pain but some don’t want to see them struggle at all.

The proper thing for me to have done at the doctor’s office was to stay focused, realize the pain would only be temporary, and understand they were only trying to help my child.  Sometimes, I remind myself of that story when I see my kid struggling with his academic work or when I am disciplining him.  Showing sympathy can be a good thing.  Showing too much sympathy is not so good.  It’s up to each parent to determine where that line in the sand is located.

Have a terrific week.  My next post will be on Friday.    Please pass today’s blog along to someone if you liked it.

The Finish Line

I hope everyone is having a wonderful Friday.  Today’s post centers on your assessment of the school year for your child.  It’s important to know what went right and what needs to be improved in order to send a stronger child to the next grade.  I’m certainly not saying all children need to work long days throughout the summer.  But, if you can help to tweak a couple of areas where your child struggled, the benefits could be significant. Here are some questions I think you may want to consider.

How did your child do? You’ve heard from the companies who handle standardized tests.  You’ve most likely seen the final grades or have a good idea what they will be.  What is your final assessment, as a parent, on how the school year went overall?

Did your child receive the grades deserved?  And, without laying guilt on yourself- what, if anything- should you have done differently to help your child?  Be brutally honest when trying to answer this question.

Were old friendships strengthened with peers?  Were new friendships built?  Do you feel your child is ready for the next grade academically, socially, and emotionally? More importantly, does your child feel ready in these three areas?

Are there any lingering problems that need your attention such as bullying, teasing, or general unhappiness?  Time does heal some wounds but ignoring problems typically does not cause them to go away.

Finally, this last point will lead to a future post but what about the overall confidence level of the child?  Is it as high as you’d like to see it?  Was your child’s confidence tested by difficult assignments or tricky situations with peers?  If their confidence was tested, do you feel your child is more confident or less confident in themselves now that the school year is over?

I hope answering these questions will help put into focus what needs to be addressed over the summer.  I’ll be back on Tuesday with another post.  Best wishes to all of your children.  May they have more fun this summer than all previous one’s put together!!!

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Handling Anger

Today, I want to teach and discuss anger management.  This can be a hard topic because families live under the same roofs for a long time.  Everyone sooner or later gets angry at something or someone.  It’s important though to teach kids some ground rules about anger.  It may seem counter-intuitive to have rules for a child who loses control.  But, I will tell you these strategies work.

At St. Joseph Children’s Home, one of my main charges was to prepare a kid for an adoption or foster home setting.  Anger management was one of the big hurdles.  Kids who were able to manage anger were much more likely to be placed in a home.  Please notice I didn’t say my role was to suppress anger, eliminate anger, or shut them up. Managing anger is a life skill everyone should have to be successful.

One way I dealt with anger in children was to keep my own emotions in check.  For example, if a child started to yell, the last thing I would do would be to yell back.  Look closely.  I didn’t say I would never yell back but I would keep that option in the bottom of my “tool box.”  When I raise my voice to a child, it literally startles him/her because it’s so out of character for me.

Another trick I used for angry children was to get them to center their anger.  Last week for example, my oldest became angry after learning he wasn’t going to be able to go to a carnival.  When I talked to him, I made sure he knew not to take out his frustrations on my wife due to being angry with me.  All anger was to be taken out on me because I was the one who made the decision.  This is a trick some kids use to get back at those to whom they are angry.  In other words, he/she might demonstrate anger towards mom or their teacher over something dad said or did.

I also don’t want anger to be taken out on property.  At St. Joseph’s, I would have kids who would want to slam doors or beat their head against a window/floor.  When they tried to do this, I’d ask them, “What did that _____ (insert door, window, etc) do to you?”  Destruction of property was a cause for restraining a kid at St. Joseph.  I doubt if I initiated 10 restraints in all of my time there partially due to this psychological ploy.  If any child is angry with me, I want their anger to be centered on me alone.

Finally, the best time to teach about anger is when the child is calm.  If there has been a recent anger episode that wasn’t handled well, sit the child down and teach what he/she could have done better.  I will caution you though to have a plan for what the child can do.  Most parents will only tell the child what they can’t do.  It’s simply not the most effective strategy.

For example, when a child is angry, maybe you should allow them to throw stuffed animals in their room (if it’s age appropriate) or squeeze a stress ball.  Maybe the child can read or watch TV.  What I am trying to say is that there has to be a positive alternative presented that you know the child would enjoy or benefit.  When you don’t do this, the anger episodes will last longer, be more frequent, and possibly escalate to an altercation.

When you are first employing these strategies, it might take a while for them to be effective.  That’s because the child is used to the arguing, screaming, and/or other negative responses to anger.  It may also be because you play into the anger by raising your own voice.  Self discipline is really important.

I hope this helps all who have dealt with angry children.  Once a child is calmer, they are much more likely to open up and talk about/ work through their feelings.

There are other techniques that can be used to deal with anger in the home.  Feel free to leave a comment if a strategy not mentioned worked for you.

My next post will be on Friday.  If you know a parent or two who would like this, please feel free to pass it along.

Have a super week!!!

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Dealing with Discouragement

I hope everyone is having a terrific Friday and is ready for the weekend.  Today, I’m attempting to take on a common problem.

I think it is safe to say that everyone feels discouraged from time to time while parenting.  It’s unavoidable.  While thinking about this topic, I was talking to a guy who is an excited father-to-be.  One thing he said that struck me was “I just don’t want to make any mistakes.”  Though I knew where he was coming from, I playfully replied, “That’s not going to happen.”

We all make mistakes and sometimes feel discouraged because of them.  Maybe you didn’t handle a discipline situation correctly with your child.  It could be you are discouraged because your son/daughter brought home a poor grade on a test after studying all week.  No matter the reason, understand the discouragement you feel can usually be turned around with some time and effort.

I’m not going to teach how to avoid discouragement when working with kids because that’s not realistic.  Rather, I want to talk about what’s worked for me when I get discouraged.  I hope one or more of these suggestions help.

Find Someone you Trust:  The first trick I use when I’m discouraged is to talk about it.  For people who don’t know, my youngest son has a speech delay that occasionally drives me bonkers.  I believe in the long run, he will be just fine.  But, I want the problem to be solved now.  When I get discouraged about the situation, I talk to my wife.  She gives great advice and helps me think things through clearly.

If you’re a single parent, find a friend, a member of the clergy, or a counselor.  Keeping discouraging feelings inside will (figuratively) eat you alive.  It will also cause you to be, in my opinion, a less effective parent.  That’s because it’s hard to bottle feelings forever.  Once pent up feelings start to emerge, they are like a dam which can not take the water pressure any longer.  Eventually, it will crack.

Set Goals:  Realize that whatever is discouraging you may not go away quickly.  It really helps me to write down short term and long term goals.  It also helps to write a plan for accomplishing them.

Here’s a story about a family I’ll never forget who exemplify this point.  Their son has a brain tumor which is inoperable.  If anyone has the right to be discouraged, they do!  But, when I talked to the mom she said that they take things one step at a time and keep praying.  This talk happened a couple of years ago as best I remember.  So far, their son is still alive and making his parents smile.  Can you imagine the time wasted if they spent every minute feeling discouraged?   They are making the best life they can for their child!

Keep a journal: In this journal, I’d like you to write only about the times when you do things which make a positive impact on your child.  This is different than a diary because a diary encompasses everything good and bad in your life.  Make sure you sign and date each entry.  You may be surprised to see how much good you actually do with your child.

From what I’ve seen and experienced, it’s the little victories that add up over time when raising a kid other parents would be proud to have.  When something goes wrong and you’re feeling a bit discouraged, read over your journal and realize the good things you are doing.

To wrap this up, understand that you are not the only one who gets discouraged.  Kids get discouraged as well.  Another reason to practice the solutions I gave is so you can teach them to your child during a time of need.  Keep working, fighting, and loving your kids.  I truly believe the bitterness you may feel from discouragement can be turned around if you channel your energy in a positive way.

Have a terrific weekend with your family and I’ll write to you again on Tuesday.  As usual, if you know a parent who would like this post, please pass it along.

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Using Pens (When Pencils are Needed)

Hello to all of you!  Today, I want to focus on course corrections as a parent.  There are times when all of us “mess up” for some reason or another.  Maybe we were too hard on our kids when they needed a gentler hand.  Perhaps, we were too easy on them before and now they are misbehaving in the same way again.  Parenting isn’t an exact science for any of us.

When we write with a pen, it’s permanent.  The ink can be smeared but for the most part, once it’s on the paper, there’s no getting it off.  I like to practice what I call “pencil parenting.”  This means what I am writing may stay on the paper (figuratively speaking) but if I don’t like the result, I can erase it all and start again.  There are numerous examples of how I’ve seen this work but let me give you one example of each.

(Pen Parenting)  My oldest child has been getting a bit too excited at school.  I gave him a warning that if he continued to mess up, there would be consequences.  To my chagrin, his teacher emailed me a week later asking me to give my boy “a talk.”  This, of course, didn’t sit well with me.  My child received the “daddy wrath” if you know what I mean.  A small part of his consequence was that he was to miss soccer practice due to his behavior.

What I had forgotten though was that his great grandmother had come in from Florida and was staying at his grandparent’s house.  My wife was scheduled to take him over there after soccer practice.  I decided not to let him go.  Some may think I was too harsh while others would cheer me for getting my point across.  Whether you agree with me or not isn’t the point.  The point is I made my decision (with a pen) and nothing was going to change my mind.

Pen parenting isn’t good all the time because it assumes you are always right.  There’s also some arrogance involved especially if your spouse/partner has a different opinion.  For the record, my wife fully supported my decision with our oldest child.  Regardless, I do find myself questioning the decision occasionally.

Here’s an example of pencil parenting.  One morning, I was working with my youngest child on his reading.  Unfortunately, things weren’t going well.  I was stupefied by some of the mistakes he was making. He was also getting frustrated.  Eventually, we closed the book and worked on reclaiming our sanity.

Later, I talked to my wife about what happened. She brought up something so obvious, I felt like an idiot after we finished talking.  In essence, she asked why I hadn’t switched to another subject when the reading lesson wasn’t going well.  It was then I realized that my frustrations had blocked rational judgment.  My wife’s point made perfect sense.

The next day, instead of bringing out one book, I laid out different learning materials.  My youngest child was so intrigued; he focused on his reading just to see my other goodies.  Every day since, I lay out different materials during school time.  If one lesson doesn’t go well, I simply switch to another.  It’s worked like a charm.

Pencil parenting requires skills such as observation, humility, and reflection.  I am not a perfect parent by any means.  But, I have had my share of success stories with children. I believe part of the reason is because I can course correct when what I am doing isn’t working.

What I’d like you to think about today is whether you parent with a pen or a pencil.  Can you come up with some examples to validate your point?  Would your spouse/child share your opinion?

All my best and I’ll have another post ready on Friday.  Please feel free to pass this around to other parents if you liked today’s topic!

The Preschool Dilemma

Hello and welcome to another edition where you throw fastball parenting questions my way and I do my best to not strike out.  I suspect that today’s answer to the question will not be popular with some parents but it comes from the heart.  One of the best parts of writing these thoughts is  in knowing that it helps to get people thinking and, hopefully talking.   Feel free to agree or disagree in the comments section.  Today’s parenting question comes from “Sara.”  She asks, “When is the right age to send my daughter to preschool?”

For those who don’t know, I used to be an elementary teacher.  I faced the same preschool dilemma many of you (or someone you know) are facing.

The right age to send any child to a preschool is determined by a number of factors.  Therefore, I’m not going to give Sara a direct answer because it’s determined based on the circumstances.  Here are some things I want Sara to think about.

1.  What’s the point of preschool? If Sara’s answer is to learn, then why wouldn’t she teach her child at home in a one to one environment?  I think some parents have the assumption schools can teach young children better than we can.  In most cases, that’s not true until kids are older and learn more in depth subjects.  When I was a child, kids could go to kindergarten at age 5.  Over time, 4 year old schools popped up and now that’s been extended to age 3.  Where does it end?  I believe kids should stay at home and learn in a one on one environment as long as possible.

Let me put this in another way.  My oldest child didn’t attend a preschool. Therefore, he must have entered school far behind his peers academically- right?  Well, not exactly.  The only reason he attended Kindergarten was because the school (which goes from k-12) was ranked in the top 1% in the United States and he only had to attend two days a week.  Even at this great school, my child was completely bored with the academics because they were too easy.  Why is that?  It’s because I worked with him.  If there are questions with what I did, leave a comment or shoot me an email.  (

2.    What if I want for my kid to go to school to learn socialization skills? I don’t have a problem with that logic but how much socialization is needed to achieve your end goal?  For example, I solve the socialization dilemma by working out at my neighborhood YMCA and placing my child in their child care.  I get a great workout for an hour 3 times a week. My children get to socialize with their friends at this time.  The “Y” is expensive in my case but child care doesn’t carry an additional charge.  Also, I doubt if I pay as much for a gym membership as a lot of people pay in preschool expenses.

Former logo of the YMCA in the United States u...

This has been a great place for socialization!

My kids, socially speaking, are on par with other children.  As a matter of fact, they are friendlier and more social than many kids I know.  All I am saying is there are many ways to achieve socialization.   Participating on sports teams and playing with neighborhood kids can also do the trick.

3.  What if I HAVE to work? This is a tricky issue but hear me out.  You’d better make a pretty good salary to justify enrolling a child in preschool.  The better preschools in most areas are a bit pricey.  When Sara breaks down her salary into taxes, preschool costs, gas, dry-cleaners, car maintenance, etc.  she may be surprised what her usable take home dollar figure turns out to be.

For example, when I left teaching, my annual salary was a little over $40,000.  Without going into detail, I can honestly say that the loss in pay didn’t feel like as big a deal as I thought it was going to. I know there are a lot of single parents (like my mom) who must work.  Obviously, this generality wouldn’t apply. For those who are married, crunch the numbers with an accountant and see what the numerical truth entails.

If Sara still determines she HAS to work, it doesn’t matter what age her daughter goes to preschool because she has to work anyway.  For the sake of the post, I’m assuming Sara has a choice.    In saying that, I would save the preschool money, invest in some learning materials, and find an alternative to preschool unless there is literally no choice.

In summary, I have worked with over 400 kids (including two of my own).  Not one of them would have been better served in a preschool versus one on one time with me.  Instead of answering what age is best for a child to go to preschool for Sara, I will ask this question instead.  How hard is Sara willing to work, learn, and sacrifice in order to have a daughter that preschools would drool over?

Thanks so much for reading and I’ll publish another post Tuesday.  If you know a parent who is debating preschool, please pass along this article.  Best wishes!!!

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Making Cents (Sense) Out of Dollars

Before I get started, I want to share a story.  When I woke up Monday morning, I had some ideas for a blog in my mind but nothing in stone.  I went to the gym (as is my routine) when I noticed a magazine (maybe it was the Wall Street Journal)  There was an article that dealt with retirement myths.  It was well written and I thought writing a money article for parents may be a good idea.

Later, I was looking through some blogs. I came across a new one with an outstanding post by Joyce Wheeler titled Teaching Children About Finances. ( I highly recommend it.

Finally, I received an email from our local chapter of All Pro Dad.  It said that the next meeting will have to do with striking a balance between children saving and spending their money.  (There comes a point where I wonder whether someone is trying to tell me something)

Money is a pretty long topic to deal with so here’s what I learned at St. Joseph Children’s Home and how I applied the lesson in my home. Before I get into my stories, I promise you this.  Most schools do not teach money sense to any great degree.  I suspect one reason is that it is not covered on standardized tests to any great extent.  So here’s the question.  Who will teach your children how to handle their money if you won’t?

At St Joseph, we used fake money called Luckbucks.  They were earned based on chores and behavior.  Even our 4 year old residents received these.  If your kids are small, you don’t have to use real money.  Luckbucks were used when the children had group outings or wanted to play Nintendo.  Looking back on it, we probably underutilized them although they were still effective.

I believe children should be allowed to earn money but they should also be forced to spend it.  Usually what I see are kids who earn money but mom and dad still pay for everything.  The point of money is not only to accumulate it but to spend it wisely.  Now, if a child chooses not to spend their money after weighing their options, that’s great. It’s the discretion of the parent in determining when their children should be using their own money.

I had a child at St. Joseph I’ll call Daniel whose sole purpose with Luckbucks was to save them.  He never spent his “money” because he wanted “to be rich.”  In some small way, I hope his attitude towards Luckbucks transferred to life after St. Joseph.  If that’s the case, he could retire very early in life.

Contrarily, my oldest child saves but he has two conflicting goals.  The first is to buy all the things he likes at Toys ‘R’ Us and the second is to save until he accumulates $100.  (This is his Holy Grail of cash)  A while back, he saw a truck in an advertisement that he had to have.  I believe it cost about $25.00.  He asked me if I would get it for him and I refused. (He has over 20 trucks in his playroom)  I told him if he wanted the truck, he’d have to buy it himself.  After some deliberating, he decided to make the purchase.

The reason I decided to tell you this story is because I can’t remember the last time he actually played with the truck.  He’s also brought up the goal of saving $100.00 on multiple occasions since then.  The irony is if he didn’t buy the truck, he would already have the money!  Of course, I remind him of the truck when he brings up the savings goal.  I am not condescending but I want him to realize the financial choices he makes are a big deal.  As he gets older, I’m sure I’ll hammer this point even more.

Thanks for reading and passing this along to other parents.  It is greatly appreciated!

Also, during the month of May, (the distributor of Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures)  is knocking off 15% on their production costs so I am passing the savings on to you.  When you purchase the book, please enter the code maysave305 to get your discount.  I really appreciate Lulu for doing that!  Here’s the direct link.

Have a terrific day!!!

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What I Am Trying To Say Is…

Welcome to a special Sunday edition of Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures.  Mother’s Day is one of my favorite holidays because of the people in my life; but it also really weighs me down mentally.  Maybe after reading this, you’ll understand why.

There are five mothers in my life I love dearly.  My wife, my mother, my mother in law, my grandmother in law, and my grandmother (deceased)  I’m pretty lucky to have these people.  They are all great in their own way.  Though they have been taken for granted at one time or another, I appreciate what they’ve done and what they’ve meant to me.

But, Mother’s Day isn’t all bells and whistles for me.  It’s probably because of my background; but lots of other mothers are on my mind as well.  For example, perhaps because of the execution of Bin Laden, I’m thinking of the kids who lost their mothers almost 10 years ago.  Though that lunatic is dead, nothing will ever bring those mothers home.  I couldn’t imagine not being raised by my mom and I really feel for them.

I’m also thinking of the mothers who are making the wrong choices with their lives right now whether it be drugs, neglect, or abuse.  I’ve seen the story play out so many times.  I wish I could help all of them; but understand that it isn’t to be.  At St Joseph Children’s Home, I worked with kids whose moms and dads made the wrong decisions.  Though I’ve moved on, there are new children there.  I will promise you this.  Many children who call St. Joseph’s home will have a heavy heart tomorrow.

I’m thinking of one of my best friends.  He lost his mother this past year and I feel so badly for him.  Because of my beliefs, I know they will be reunited one day down the road.

Though I’ve presented you with some heavy stuff, there’s also another mother who I am thinking about.  Just recently, some close family members were able to bring the second of a pair of twins home.  This is pretty special because their boy was given a minimal chance (10% I think) to live based on the circumstances.  Now, he is probably in the arms of his mother (or father).  I couldn’t be happier for their family. Their journey was difficult for months but they pulled through like champions.

Now you can see why Mother’s Day is such a yo-yo event for me.  All of the happiness I feel towards the mothers in my life and all the ailments of people I’ll never meet are rolled up together.  Emotionally, I get a bit exhausted on this day which leads me to the title of this post.

What I am trying to say is…  I love you.  I’m thinking about you.  I believe in you.  May God bless all of you.

I’ll write another parenting post for you Tuesday.  Happy Mother’s Day!!!

Underlying Problems

Happy Friday to all of you!  For my long time fans, this is a repost which I’ve cleaned up a bit.  Finding the underlying problems quickly is what helped me be a go to houseparent at St. Josephs Children’s Home, a go to teacher in the public schools and a go to parent for others seeking assistance.  If you have any questions or reactions after reading this, feel to leave a comment or contact me at  Also, if you’re looking for a great read about parenting, check out my book located on the right hand side of the blog.  Trust me- if you like the blog- you’ll love the book.  It’s full of my best parenting material and stories which will make you laugh, cry, and think.  Enjoy!

St. Joseph Children’s Home had many behavior issues with children.  There were certain house parents who did a great job with these children and others who struggled.  I worked hard to learn from the best.  The results of their work could be seen through the eyes of the children.  One of the tricks to dealing with misbehavior is to find and correct as many underlying problems as possible.  When this is accomplished, a parent will either reduce the size and scope of the problem or eliminate it.

Here’s an example of what not to do.  I was recently in a school where a preschooler acted enraged.  This child was probably 3-4 years old.  Preschoolers wait in the main hallway before being sent to their classrooms as a group.  Not only was he hollering at the top of his voice, he was stomping his feet, and acted defiantly towards adults.

I don’t know what the underlying problem was but he wasn’t my focus.  I was watching the adults to see how they would handle the situation.  At first, they ignored it.  This strategy sometimes works depending on the child.  I’ve used it when I thought it would be the best option.  As time went by though, the strategy clearly wasn’t working.  It could have been due to the surrounding children because he had an audience. I have to admit I was really intrigued at this point.

When the group was sent to their class, the misbehaving boy was left behind with one adult.  The boy was still clearly angry.  It was obvious there was a real problem.  What I saw though made me cringe.  The adult, left behind to supervise the boy, tried to talk with him.  He hollered something I couldn’t quite understand and the adult mocked him!  I couldn’t believe it.  Seconds later, she pulled out her phone and started texting while the boy was still upset.  (I’m positive she wasn’t texting for help because the office was only a few feet away)  It wasn’t my place to step in but there’s no chance I would have wanted that lady around either of my children if they were ever upset.

Finding the underlying problem behind an undesired behavior is a real key.  Here’s an example.  Let’s say your child doesn’t want to do their homework.  They throw fits and make the time unpleasant for everyone.  My question would be why is the homework such a big deal?  Homework should be designed to reinforce what is taught during the school day (especially in the early grades).

Could it be the child is merely hungry?  After all, he/she hasn’t had a bite to eat since lunch.  The easy solution is to give a snack that takes no more than 15 minutes to eat; then get to work.

Could it be the child is lazy or tired?  That’s no problem.  Let the child lay down 1/2 hour before the homework begins.  This could be on a couch or a bed.  I’ll caution you though.  The television shouldn’t be turned on at this time.

Could it be the child is testing you?  Maybe if they holler enough, you eventually sit down and give them attention while they are doing their work.  Complaining can serve the purpose of receiving quality time with you.  On a side note, no matter how ridiculous the solution may seem to you, do what it takes to solve the homework problem.

There are a lot of possible solutions to the homework dilemma.  Your job as the parent is to find the solution.  When you do, homework time will run much smoother.

Children have reasons for acting out.  If your response is to yell, hit, (or text as seen earlier) when they are acting out, the problem is usually not being solved.  I believe children want to be happy even when they have to do things (like homework) they don’t like doing.

Because my goal for this blog is to have you think, here’s a brief assignment.  Think about a time your child really misbehaved.  Now ask yourself this question.  Was there an underlying problem that, if dealt with properly, could have reduced or eliminated the misbehavior?  I hope you find an answer you can place in your parenting tool bag and use if the misbehavior ever happens again.

As always, I wish you the best.  If you think of a parent who would like to read this, please pass it along.  I would really appreciate it.  Have a terrific weekend!!!

The Foreign Language Every Parent Must Learn

Today, I am going to teach, test, and have a little fun with you.  We’re going to play a game.  Let me start by asking a simple question.  Which foreign language is the most important in today’s climate?  Spanish? Chinese? French?  Which do you think your kids are learning the fastest?  Have your answer yet?  All right, let’s move forward.

I’m going to contend that your answer isn’t the same as mine.  That’s because, to the best of my knowledge, the foreign language I’m thinking of doesn’t have an official name.  Yet, kids younger and younger are picking up on it faster and faster.  Though I am a novice, this language certainly has my attention.  With time, I’m going to get better at it and I believe you should consider doing the same.

The language I’m thinking of is a combination of codes, acronyms, and lingo used when kids text, Facebook, and tweet each other.  They can also be found in chat rooms on computers located in your home or most certainly of someone you know.  I’m calling this language Codecronym.  (Code+Acronym)  It may be a bit cheesy but it will have to do.

The reason why Codecronyms are used has a dual purpose.  The first is that it’s fun to talk and write in different ways.  Many of us may remember Pig Latin from childhood.  Though it may have been ridiculous, I’ll bet many of you at least tried it.  The second reason though is for confidentiality.  Even if a kid is caught using codecronyms, few parents or teachers could decipher it which is precisely the point.

Time to have some fun and teach you basic components of the Codecronym language.  Let’s start with some easy ones.

BFF- This stands for Best Friends Forever.

TTYL- Talk to you later

LMAO- Laughing my a** off.

Pretty easy, right?  Betting that many of you use these, let’s go a little deeper.

POS or PLOS- Parent over shoulder/ Piece of sh*t.  Depends on the context.  My wife mentioned PLOS which I am including.  This is Parents looking over shoulder.

PHAT- Pretty hot and tempting

The language is evolving which really makes this a bit complicated for me.  Here are some examples.

143- I love you.

182- I hate you.

420- Marijuana

RUH- Are you horny?

GYPO- Get your pants off.

It’s my opinion that texts and chat rooms are fair game for parents.  Yes, it’s an invasion of privacy in one sense but, until my children leave my home, I have an obligation to love and protect them.  If you saw my last post (, you’ll remember the story of the “f” bomb being used by a child in a parent’s home.  That language is not allowed in my home no more than someone sending unacceptable messages through an electronic device.  Let me give you a few more before I wrap this up.

GNOC- Get naked on cam.

LMIRL- Let’s meet in real life.

WYRN- What’s your real name?

Zerg- It means to gang up on someone.  It doesn’t quite fit in this post but still a term you should know.

Before I go, I’d like to thank a couple of websites for their help.  I highly insist you bookmark them to get updates and to learn more about this topic.  The first is  The second is  I’m not foolish enough to believe I can protect my kids from everything coming into my home.  But, I am responsible enough to know it is my job as a parent to try.

For those of you who regularly keep up with my work, I will be reposting an earlier blog this Friday.  This is the weekend of the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby.  There will be out of town guests, parties, and fun.  I will have a new topic next Tuesday and I hope you will come back and enjoy.

I’ll have to learn how to do this in a more colorful way but the new addition to my blog (located on the right) is my twitter address and my Facebook fan page.  I’ve also been informed my Feedburner link isn’t working so Twitter and Facebook will have to do.  Here are the addresses.

Twitter: @claylauren2001  Facebook fan page: claytonpaulthomas

All my best and I hope you have a great week.  It’s time for me to start chillaxin.  (Chilling and Relaxing)

Don’t forget to pass this along to another parent or teacher who would enjoy it!!!

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