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My Theories

Through the course of my one year experience with my son, I have developed several theories such as the 4N and Power of No to better help me raise my son.
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Barack Levin

Author: Barack Levin

Archive for October, 2009


Posted by Barack Levin on 28th October 2009

We had some friends over the weekend. Their boy is 6 years old and their girl is 4 so they are about the same age as my kids. We talked about kids’ activates and the mom told us that her son goes to baseball practice. I asked her how it was going for him and she told me that the baseball league in their area is very serious. When I continued to inquire what she meant by that she said that they have playoffs and that each team is ranked and if a team does not play well, their coach put the pressure on them.

I was wondering at that time what had happened to us, parents, that we do not see baseball as a fun game any more and have to put the pressure on our kids? Since when a simple fun game become a tool to have the kids tested to their limits and asked to excel at such an early age? What ever happened to simple baseball game which unsupervised, without any specific goal, no egos involved and only pure fun?

I do not see the reason and actually much against putting so much pressure on 6 year old kids where the purpose of such a game is to simply enjoy the afternoon, have some fun and watch our kids goof around chasing after the rules while making up some of their own. They will have enough pressure to excel when they grow up. Let the kids be kids for once. Don’t rob them of their childhood.

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We are sick, kids.

Posted by Barack Levin on 27th October 2009

Tonight both my wife and me felt terrible. My wife probably has bronchitis and I am stuck again with my terrible allergies. We are just a mesh of puffy eyes, runny noses and throbbing headaches.

At this condition, we can hardly take care of ourselves, let alone the kids, however, since we have no relatives close to us, we are left to care for them anyway.

When I picked up the kids from school today, we let them, as a rare occasion, to watch TV during the week. Usually they watch one hour of TV on the weekend, but today we just could not handle them. After about 1.5 of mindless DVD, we went to eat and told our little ones that mom and dad do not feel well and that they need to play alone in their room. It is not the first time for them to plat alone. We have gotten them used to it that from time to time they need to spend time with each other and with us. They went up to their room and drew for about an hour. During that time my wife took a long warm bath and I just collapsed in front of TV with no energy to spare.

At the end of that hour it was time for bed and we told them that tonight they take care of themselves. They need to dress up, brush their teeth and go to bed. Again, it is not the first time they are doing it all alone, but tonight it was especially important for me that they do it without involving us and indeed they did.

In almost not time, they were in bed, sleeping and we had the night off to rest and gather some energy for tomorrow.

Tonight only proves my point that kids do understand how to care for themselves and that with some practice any parent can have his or her kids spend some time alone reading books or drawing (not necessarily watching TV) and relax.

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Posted by Barack Levin on 25th October 2009

My little girl complained 2 days ago about aches in her leg. I dismissed it, but when she showed no desire to eat anything and demonstrated a sluggish behavior, I looked more carefully at her. Her chicks were slightly more reddish than usual and her eyes seemed tired and reddish as well. My wife checked her forehead and indeed, she was running a fever. She did not complain much or showed any signs of distress but was very tired. It was already bed time, so we put her in bed and waited to see what will happen in the morning.

During the night she cried twice and the second time, my wife decided to check her temperature. It climbed all the way to 103 and so my wife decided she had to see a doctor. When I woke up later on, I found her in front of the computer struggling to find a pediatrician that is open on Saturdays. I asked her what is so urgent that our girl needs to see a doctor on the weekend. After all, kids do tend to develop very high fever almost instantly but with our kids, in most cases it goes away within 24 hours. My wife replied that she is afraid my little girl might have caught the notorious H1N1 virus.

Now, my wife is not over protective, but her motherly instincts to protect her child at all costs, sometimes blind her. I saw no real reason in sending our girl to the doctor and explained why I think we should not.

First and foremost, my kids eat healthy foods and are very active. Compared to other kids in their classes, they are hardly ever sick and I contribute that to the way we raise them. I believe that their immune systems are much better than other kids who are mal nourished. And so, if there was an H1N1 outbreak in day care, I would suspect that other kids would have gotten it b now and we would have heard about it already.

Secondly, my little girl did not show any signs that can indicate an H1N1 infection. After all H1N is a type of flu, and I would expect her to show a runny nose, coughing, problem breathing and overall fatigue kind of feeling. She showed none of the above.

Lastly, in the area that we live in, there is outbreak of H1N1 and so the likelihood of her catching it is slim to none,

Armed with these arguments I was able to calm down my wife. As son as my little girl woke up we checked her temperature and indeed, it already dropped to 101.5. We asked her if she was sick and hurting anywhere and the reply was negative. We continued with our routine daily chores which included playing outside and going to the store. In the evening we checked her temperature again and it dropped again under 100.

Today she woke up and is completely healthy. I suspect that some kid of a virus attacked her system and her immune system fought back and won.

My point, with this lengthy post, is that there is no reason to rush a kid to the hospital for any or every minor ache or scratch. Kids do have after all an immune system and if that system is given the proper nourishment and boosts, in most cases, kids will overcome that minor illness with no need of medication.

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Posted by Barack Levin on 22nd October 2009

I listened to a podcast today that in the US, kids who were born after 2000 have a high chance of getting type 2 diabetes. The report continues to say that 1 out fo 3 kids will grow up to have diabetes. It continued to state that although here are some genetically biased kids who will develop it regardless of their life habits, most will develop diabetes because of inappropriate eating habits and overweight.

Apparently, type 2 diabetes is causes by the accumulation of fat tissue which in turn causes the body not to absorb sugar as it should and the excess of sugar causes the natural insulin in the body to render useless causing this disease. The commentator kept at it and stated that currently there are 24 million Americans with type 2 diabetes.

This report shocked me. 1 of 3 kids will have diabetes. The reporter was right when he said it was an epidemic. An epidemic that I can stop spreading to my kids. It only strengthen my belief in the way I am bringing up my kids. No candies in the house, no sodas, no junk food and very little store bought prepared food. In our house we eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, my wife cooks healthy meals, we never eat junk food and we teach the kids to avoid “hazardous “foods. For example, they love chocolate and I have no problem with it, I only tell them that when they eat candy at friends, they can have one piece of candy, no more than that and I explain what does it mean when you have too much sugar and how it affects your body and causes you to become fat. They are now at any age when they understand and implement. I think that by giving them the tools to make decisions on their own I am teaching them a lesson for life. I know that even if I am not close by, they will still know what to do and how to react if offered high calorie fattening foods.

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The Value of Toys

Posted by Barack Levin on 22nd October 2009

Several post s ago I described how we went to Goodwill and got rollerblades and a new teddy bear doll. I also wrote that the doll cost me about $1 and that my girl chose it all by herself.

To this day, my little girl takes this pinkish teddy bear with her where ever she goes. At day care he sits on her cubby looking over the classroom checking her activities, in the car he sits next to her listening to what she did in daycare while she tells me about it and at home it has a honorary place in her bed.

She is super excited with this doll and I am happy for her.

This only comes to show that the value of a toy is not measured in how much it costs or how big it is. It proves my point that rooms filled with toys do not give any more pleasure to kids than a simple slightly used stuffed animal. The kid who chooses his own toys puts the value on his choice and there is really no significance to how much that toy actually cost he parent.

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Picky Eater

Posted by Barack Levin on 20th October 2009

 Unfortunately, I am a very picky eater. The list of items I do not tolerate is endless and mainly focuses on certain vegetables and fruits. I can not stand mushrooms, cauliflower, zucchini and many more. With fruits I am a little better but I can still not stand mango, kiwi, bananas and more.

Being a picky eater, I was afraid that my bad habits will pass on to my kids and so from day one I let my wife decide on the ingredients of the meal and if they were not to my liking, I would still place whatever she cooked in my plate so that the kids see that we all eat the same thing, but I would not touch it. It was important to me that my kids do not grow up to be picky eaters like me.

This trick worked while they were young, now that they are older they start asking questions, and I need to come with some pretty good answers to satisfy their curiosity.

The other day, my wife was baking a pizza. In our house, baking pizza is an event. Firstly because we never eat an already prepared or delivery pizza and secondly because the kids take an active role in preparing it.  They prepare the dough with my wife, spread the tomato sauce on top and load it with cheese and vegetables. Since my little girl loves mushrooms, she spread them on one half while the other remained with no mushrooms (so I can eat something too).

When we sat at the table and ate our pizza, my little girl asked why I do not eat or have mushrooms on my slice. Her question surprised me and I had to come up with a good answer. I took a sip from my cup working my brain to find a good answer, and then it came to me. “We did not have enough mushrooms, and since I know you love mushrooms so much, I asked mom to give you as many mushrooms as she can, even if it means that I will not have any”. I finished my excuse and waited to see what would happen. My little girl thought hard and long, reached for her pizza, plucked out a mushroom and said “Here you go dad, you can take some of mine”. I was not expecting that but had my answer ready for her. “That is fine, honey. These are yours. I will eat some, some other time”.

She was satisfied with the answer and continued to eat and me, I managed to dodge that bullet for now.

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Posted by Barack Levin on 17th October 2009

Our friends sometimes ask us how many hours of TV our kids watch regularly and I always smile and say “One hour”. When they answer back and say “One hour a day? That’s pretty good”, I answer back with the simile and say “No, they watch one hour of TV per week”. At that point usually the conversation comes to a halt since our friends can not understand how it is possible so I continue and say “ it is not that we do not let them watch TV, it is just that we simply do not get to have the time to watch it” and it is true.

We are a very active family so whenever I have time with my kids I usually go with for a walk, play in the nearby playground, go to the park, ride the bikes or the recent hit – he roller blades. If the weather is not as nice we work on firing up the fireplace, read books together, draw or make crafts in their rooms. At the end of almost every day we simply do not have enough free time to watch TV.

Weekends are also packed with activities. We usually split the weekends into 4 segments. The 2 mornings and the 2 afternoons and we plan accordingly. We rarely ever have a free segment with no activity and if we do have one, we fix things in the house. I am not a great home improvement guy, but even with my very limited abilities I still find a burned light bulb, a screw that needs replacing, some window that needs repair or a door hinge that needs some oiling. There is always something to do and when we do it together it becomes a family project. A chore that takes me about 5 minutes to complete turns into a 30 minute learning experience for the kids. They are in charge of finding the right tools, carrying the supply and working on the project with me while receiving all the necessary explanations. Tomorrow for example, it is roller blade fix day. The roller blade I bought for my girl is missing a wheel so I plan on going with her tomorrow to the sports store to find the right wheel and at the house have her “help” me fit it in.

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Supermarket food

Posted by Barack Levin on 13th October 2009

Last night we went to the local supermarket for some last minute grocery shopping. We were missing some items and I suggested that my wife had some time off and I would take the kids with me. I always like to take them a long because I have the time to talk to them, discuss important issues and goof around. Last night was no exception. We headed to the grocery store and ran along the aisles looking for our items. We needed some cold cuts and headed to that direction and waited in line. While waiting the kids were singing songs, taking and overall behaving nicely and developing a conversation with me. Behind them, at the counter, the attendant was preparing a fresh batch of chicken strips. As she was pouring the newly prepared batch to the tray she took 2 pieces and offered the kids. We usually do not eat such fatty foods, but as an exception I told them to go ahead, thank the lady and take the chicken.

As our turn for the cold cuts arrived, I have asked for some chicken cold cuts and again, the attendant (another one this time) offered a piece for the kids to taste.

This had me thinking. It is not the first time my kids are offered food, balloons or small gifts this way and I came to a conclusion that when adults see well behaved happy kids, they actually want to express their feelings and this is one way to do so.

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Blood Test

Posted by Barack Levin on 12th October 2009

I was scheduled for a blood test this morning. I thought it would be a great idea to take my little girl along with me to see how it is done. She is almost 4 years old and when she turns 4 she will get her shot and going with me would teach her how the shot looks like and how I react to it.

As always, I have prepared her. Since this time it was me and not her going through the shot I could be more free and joking about it. I told her that daddy is going to cry so hard that she would have to hold my hand and comfort me. We both laughed and drove along. At the lab, she stood right next to me and saw the whole process. She actually wanted to see how the nurse pokes a hole (her own words) in my arm. She saw and hopefully absorbed what was happening. I hope when it is her time to het her shot she will remember this day and not cry a whole lot.

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Oh My God !!

Posted by Barack Levin on 12th October 2009

I am carpooling with a friend of my son. He is a sweet kid and I enjoy the rides with him and my kids while they chat and tell stories.

One thing does bother me. The kid we are carpooling with him has adopted this phrase: Oh My God and says it every so often. I of course have no problem with it. It is his choice (or better yet his parents choice), but to my horror I started noticing that this phrase starts trickling to my girl. Today she started with her own Oh My God. Now, since I know she has no idea what it means and she is not using it because she needs to but because she is mimicking someone else I was on alert. When the second time came along I called her over. I truly prefer her to mimic things and behaviors that would actually benefit her than vague and meaningless idioms. I told her if she understood what she was saying. She of course said she did not know and so I told her she does not have to repeat everything that she hears. If another kid is doing it, it does not matter she needs to do it as well. She agreed and she will stop using it.

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Setting up the table is fun

Posted by Barack Levin on 12th October 2009

I always like to have my kids interact with me and each other and I never miss an opportunity to do so.

This morning we had some friends coming over and I called the kids downstairs to help me bring the plastic plates and cups to the table outside on the deck. Giving them the tasks of just carrying the plates and cups would be boring for them, so I thought of a challenge. Lately my kids are into counting, so I decided to go this way.

We got to the cabinet and I asked them to count how many people are going to be there. My little girl counted first by name and got to 8 guests. My older one is more advanced and knows that we are 4 and our guests also have 2 kids, so they are 4 as well and together they are 8.

I gave them a stack of plates and asked them to count them and bring upstairs the right number of plates. 5 minutes later, after confusing them a little and recounting several times, they got it right and had 8 plates. They got back for the cups and we ran through the same process one more time.

I was happy to see they I can engage them in such simple tasks by triggering their sense of learning and exploration and getting them to be active while learning something new.

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I want my mommy

Posted by Barack Levin on 12th October 2009

We went to visit some friends today with a 2 year old son. While at their house their kid refused to move away from his mom. He continuously hovered around her not letting go. When his dad stepped in to take care of him he started yelling and refusing his dad to even touch him.

That reminded me that both my kids went through the same phase at about the same age, but when they did, and I realized it, I refused to let such a behavior continue and decided to act.  

I called my wife over and explained the situation to her. She agreed with me that this can not go on this way, after all I am their dad and I need to care for them as well. We decided on a very simple but effective action plan.

For the next week, my wife did not head back home directly from work, she always went shopping, went out with some friends or just alone for a cup of coffee. We have created a new reality for the kids – mom is not home so she can not take care of them and the default care provider is daddy. We simply faced them with no choice.

In addition to this simple action, we have also decided that for that specific week, my wife can not answer any requests asked by the kids. If they come to her with any request from eating to sleeping, she would send them to daddy. This way, even if she is in the house, they still have to go to me to get what they need.

We implemented the plan and waited to see what the results would be. That week I worked my ass off. I was mostly alone in the house and I was in charge of everything from dropping and picking up the kids to school through preparing their meals and eating with them to reading a book before they went to sleep. Mommy was simply never there for them. At first they protested. They wanted mommy, but soon they realized that mommy is not there and so they had to face me with their requests.

Within 3 days I saw the change. They now wanted to be with me and asked for my help. A week later, we have “re-introduced” mommy to the family and by then the kids learned their lesson that daddy can help too and from that day on the problem was solved.

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The Event

Posted by Barack Levin on 11th October 2009

I went to an event with the kids today. Nothing special, one of the Jewish holidays. As we walked in the organizer promised the kids some candy if they behave. I always thought that bribing kids with kids is a very slippery slope road. Food can not be an incentive, especially when it is candy, but I am aware that I am a minority on this issue and that many parents actually reward their kids by offering them candies and sweets.

We have had a very nice event during which I met some new and old friends and the kids were fascinated by the event itself. Eventually, of course, we got to the candy part. Each kid was given a candy bar. A big and long candy bar. Probably 300-500 calories easily. My kids got one as well and they already know that they should come to ask me if they can eat it. I saw them approach and told them each one can open his candy bar and take 3 bites. No more. There was no argument. They already know better that if I made my mind, I will not change it. My little girl opened her and took the 3 bites and my boy decided not to even open his. They placed the candy bars in their pockets and continued to play. In the meantime, I was watching other parents to see what they were doing. Some of course gave the full bar to their kids but some tried to resist. I was focusing on the ones who were trying to resist their kids and not gibe them the bar. The power struggle was very interesting. In most cases the kids simply broke down in tears and the parents simply gave in. In others the kids simply threw a fit yelling and screaming and the parents had to cave in.

For me, these power struggles happen everyday as well, but in my case, I make and made sure that I would win them so that my kids do not learn how to control me.

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Posted by Barack Levin on 11th October 2009

We went to our favorite restaurant the other day. It is a local salad bar. The kids love it and I of course support it. They have vegetables as much as hey want, some soup, cheese, fruits and it is also one of the only places where they can get ice cream and decorate it with sprinkles and Oreo cookies.

My parents flew in from out of town and so we all got into the all might minivan and on the way to the restaurant. As we were sitting down I realized I forgot the napkins and thought it would be a great idea to have the kids take some of the action. I told them to go ahead and bring one napkin each. They went to the register area and brought one each. They sat down and ate several bites when I told them we are still missing some napkins. They “volunteered” to go again and bring more napkins. Then, I realized we did not have spoons for the soup and so again they joyfully took the enormous responsibility to bring them as well. Before too long they were running around fulfilling chores and happy they could assist.

The next item on the agenda was to bring everyone a cup of water. They did that as well using the aid of a grown up that was standing next to the ice machine to fill the cups with ice cubes.

But what really surprised me was m father’s request. He wanted them to refill hi class with soda. Now, you should know that we do not have any type of soda in the house and the kids definitely do not drink any. They know how it tastes (because of the so man birthdays they went to), but they do not drink it whether it is with us or without us. My kids went ahead and refilled the soda and brought it back to the table. They did not even think of trying it out. They already know it is not for them. They simply paced it on the table next to my father and went back to their seats to complete their meals.

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Lesson Learned

Posted by Barack Levin on 11th October 2009

Several posts ago I have described how my son fell climbing a tree and how I took the time to teach him a lesson – next time when you fall down, inspect yourself for any cuts and bruises. Check for any bleedings and most importantly – take a deep breath, count to 10 and recheck. If there is still pain, come to me, if not, continue playing.

Today we were playing out side. I was running and goofing around and the kids were chasing me. In one of my crazy turns, my son took a wrong step and crashed on the hard concrete road. I saw it as it was happening. My wife and girl were there too but said nothing. I continued to play with my little girl as if I did not see what happened to him, but from the corner of my eye I was checking him out.

As if acting by a manual, he sat down, took a deep breath, looked at the knee that hit the road, checked the other one as well, lifted his two little arms to see if there is any pain or bruises. He saw nothing, released his deep breath, stood up and continued running towards me as if nothing happened. As he got closer, I stopped playing with my little girl and waited for him. He told me that he did exactly what I told him to do and was proud of it. I gave him a positive warm feedback.

I proved another crazy idea – kids know how to take care of themselves if taught or given the tools to do so.

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Junk Food

Posted by Barack Levin on 7th October 2009

I am very involved when it comes to my kids. I know their likes, moods, eating habits, sleeping habits and tickle me spots. I also run kind of a mental report periodically to see what other things I need to challenge them with or to see if I need to change direction in some other area. I am not hovering over them all the time, but simply devote a good amount of time for observation. 

When my daughter was about two and a half years old, I noticed something new about her. I realized that she did not have an off switch for eating. She could eat and eat without stopping. Even quantities that were simply not good for her. One of the main areas of concern in today’s world is obesity. When my kids were born, my wife and I made a decision not to go to any junk food places and to only eat healthy, which we do on a regular basis. Our kids love eating healthy foods such as vegetables and fruits and we always encourage them to try different things.

So, while I knew what she was eating with us, I was concerned about what was going on in her day care center.  When I went to check, what I saw was really unbelievable. It was not junk food, but it was not not far from it either. For breakfast she was served some fried stuff and for lunch she was served pasta or chicken nuggets. There were hardly any vegetables or variety. To my surprise and amazement, there is something called a “happy Plate” at day care centers. For those of you who do not know what it is, it is basically a plate that is void of food.

It is terrible to teach kids that to shove everything off of their plates and into their tiny body is a good thing and that it should be associated with being happy. When I inquired a little more specifically about my girl (who to me had gained too much weight), I was shocked to find out that if a kid asks for seconds and even thirds, he is served them. The teachers do not have any idea about how much the kids have already eaten. 

I immediately informed the teacher that my daughter is full after one serving and if she wants more, I allow only 2 more spoons. That’s it. If she is still hungry, she can eat vegetables or an apple. 

Almost immediately after that, my little girl started getting into shape and I was happy. Not too long ago she switched classes and today I am finding out that my instructions were not passed on to the new teacher. Apparently my girl had 3 servings of macaroni and cheese, which as far as I am concerned, represent one of the lowest forms of nutrition. 

I have already written a note to give the day care center that informs them that they are not to give her excess food. Most importantly, I called her over for a light chat today and explained that she can only have one serving of each and 2 more spoons if she is hungry, no more. She understood and agreed. For the next week or so, I will continue to question her when she gets home from school until I see some progress.

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Rainy Day

Posted by Barack Levin on 5th October 2009

Today, when I was driving my daughter to day care, it was raining, but not hard.  As we got closer to the day care center, I noticed something that I had seen previously, but this time it had a more surprising effect on me.

Many parents had their kids wear a rain coat and carry big open umbrella. To top it off, the parents were carrying their kids so that not even one single drop of rain would touch their raincoats. I have always thought that it was bizarre to care for your kid this way. I, on the other hand, always go the opposite route.

My daughter was wearing a sweater and boots, but not a coat and she wasn’t carrying an umbrella. I got out of the minivan and waited for her to get out.  When she got out, she noticed that it was raining. We both laughed at her wet hair and face. She closed the minivan door and together we walked calmly to the building entrance.  As she walked in, her hair and face were glittered with rain drops and she loved it.

I am happy to say that I do not want my kids to grow up to become overprotected. When it drizzles or even rains harder, they will not be agitated.  After all, they are not made from salt or sugar. They are kids. I still remember that last year, in several of the rainy seasons, we walked outside the house with our boots and umbrellas for a walk in the rain. While walking, I showed them how to lower their umbrellas, open their mouths wide and drink in the rain. That was a great experience for them. Even now, we still practice rain drinking every once in a while.

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Bike – Falling Down

Posted by Barack Levin on 5th October 2009

Teaching a new activity to my kids requires me to think ahead. A good example is bike riding. That is one of my favorite activities to do with the kids, although, I am quite a disaster at it myself. When they got their first bikes, I bought them somewhat bigger bikes with bigger wheels so that I would not have to replace them every year. They can use them for at least three to four years. Before we even stepped on the bikes with the training wheels for the first time, I warned my kids that they would fall and would fall hard. I warned them that part of learning to ride bikes was the falling part. If they were not afraid of falling or even better yet, knew how to control their fall, they would have a better time riding the bike. In addition, I told them that even if they fell, and even with all of their protective gear they got hurt, I did not want to see lengthy cries. If it was that painful, it meant that they were not old enough to ride and I would return the bike to the store.

That being said, I also did not want them to get hurt, so my almost first drill with them was to practice bike free falling. I held the bike in an angle leaning them towards the cement. Kids’ initial instinct is to actually hold on to what they are grabbing and crash with it to the floor and so I had to teach them to get rid of that instinct. I had to show them that they had to leave the bike and let it fall. I also told them that nothing would happen if the bikes fell. They would scratch or even break and in that case, we will simply get another bike. I always emphasized that the bikes were secondary. Once we drilled it a little I started to tilt the bikes even more to a point that they would have to jump off of them, or choose to crash with them, if they wanted to get off. It worked. Within days they understood the concept.

We ride a lot in our street. There are holes and imperfections in the asphalt and falls are bound to happen. As they got more courage and started riding faster, accidents were bound to happen and I would be way too far away to help them. Indeed, they fell. Most of the times they landed safely but some of the times they came back with a bruised knee or elbow. Nothing serious, but I let them feel that the scratch they got was worth it. It was part of their learning process for riding a bike.

Now, with the roller blades, same thing happens. Before they even got on them, I warned them that they would fall and would hurt themselves. Now they understand the concept and when they fall, even slightly hard and bruise themselves, they jump up, check themselves and continue on with their roller blades.

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Nail Biting

Posted by Barack Levin on 5th October 2009

My little girl recently developed a rather annoying habit.. She started biting her nails. I used to do that until several few years ago, but I am not going to tolerate her having this problem.

At the beginning, we tried in kind words. “Don’t do it. It is not nice. You will not be pretty”, etc.. She topped doing it from time to time.. but still, there was no final solution here. I came to the conclusion, which I get to quite often when things don’t work out the way I want to with my kids, that it was time to stop playing nice daddy. Some serious action needed to be taken to put an end to it.

Today , we bought roller blades for her and she was beyond herself. Her brother had already gotten a pair two weeks ago and she has wanted some ever since then.  Later in the day,  we tried them on and she took her first small steps towards falling down, which is, of course, an essential step in learning how to roller blade. Tonight at dinner time, I spotted her biting her nails again. I put one and one together and decided to act. Just before bedtime, when she came for my usual good night kiss, I initiated a family meeting.  I told her in front everyone that I saw her biting her nails and if I see her doing it one more time, I am going to take away her roller blades. She understood, but I made her repeat what I said to her mom. I learned a long time ago that when a kid repeats something in his own words, the understanding becomes deeper in his mind. I guess I will have to repeat the threat several more times over the next few days, but knowing my kids, by next week, this will be a long forgotten memory.

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Posted by Barack Levin on 5th October 2009

Before my kids were born, everyone warned me that I would face the problem of having them go to sleep. Kids do not like to sleep. This was the major complain I heard from other parents. Most parents I know have terrible problems with their kids going to sleep, staying asleep or waking up in the middle of the night sneaking into the parents’ bed. I always believed that this is nonsense. There is no such thing as kids do not like to sleep. It is part of the their body physics. Give some physical activity and some structure and they will fall asleep on their own for the whole night within 3 months of their birth date. And indeed when my kids were born, I started exercising this routine and found out that it is actually true. Kids love to sleep and except for occasional nose bleeds (with my little girl) and nightmares (my son), the whole family sleeps very well every night.

I did find however something interesting. My little girl is less tired than her brother, she requires less time to sleep. At the beginning, when she was still a baby, she would take 45 minute naps. We fought over it trying to keep in her bed longer and longer because it did not make any sense to us. When we discovered that she was constipated and that interrupted her sleep we took care of the problem and her napping grew longer to more than 2 hours at a time. Night was of course never a problem with her. But still, to this day, she requires less sleep than her brother. She was ready to give up her nap times when she was already 3. She felt she did not need them anymore. We felt differently and let her still keep her napping habits. It did not affect her night sleep at all.

So while I do changes between kids that one might like to sleep more than the other (my son still likes to nap on weekends and occasionally on weekdays after school), still, kids love to sleep and need as much sleep as possible. If I feel that my kids are too energetic in the afternoon after a good afternoon nap, we go ahead and do the obvious. We go for a walk, bike ride, roller blading, running or just goofing around to release some energy.

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