Buy the Book



Join The Club

Join the club today and you will receive to your email my newsletter, articles and tips for raising great kids.
Click here to register your email.

Follow Me

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.
Click here to learn more.


Barack Levin

Author: Barack Levin

Archive for December, 2009

What is the Real Problem?

Posted by Barack Levin on 21st December 2009

We were talking to some friends of ours and they told us that their son has developed a new behavior. He does not want to sleep in his bed any more. They find him in his sister’s bed, the laundry basket or on the floor in the restroom, but not in bed. I asked them if they asked him what was the problem and they said they did. They said he told them he is afraid of the lions under his bed. So first of all, I think that the amount of TV that he is watching (he is about 3) planted some crazy ideas in his head, but that aside, there is still a problem here that needs to be dealt with and I was asking myself, what would I do if something like this happened to me and m kid.

I thought about  it a lot and it remained me of something. A few weeks ago, my son told me that he does not want to go swimming anymore. I was very surprised because I thought that he liked swimming. I was convinced that there is something behind this request, something that he not telling me and uses the swimming as an excuse. And so I decided to get to the bottom of things. I asked him why he does not want to continue swimming, and he just replied that he does not . So I continued to ask him, but why? I need to know so that I do not repeat the same mistake with another activity with him and besides, I am his dad and I think I should know why. He looked at me and said: “It is because I am hungry” and then I understood what happened. While he was swimming, he got hungry and since he can not eat during swimming class, his logic told him that he needs to stop swimming, but that is not the real solution. And so I have explained this to him and told him that a better solution would be to eat something before he goes swimming so he is not hungry and still enjoy swimming. He agreed, and since then we do not have any more problems with him.

When our friends told us about their kids fright of lions under his bed, I was reminded of this story and was sure that is a more deep reasoning why he is afraid of the lions. I suggested that they ask some more focused questions to see if they can get to the true reason of this new behavior. I do not know if they did it or not, but this is how I would handle the situation.

Tags: , ,
Posted in Tips and Advice | 1 Comment »

90 percentile

Posted by Barack Levin on 21st December 2009

My little girl turned 4 and went to her annual medical exam. She was weighed, measured and given some vaccinations. The doctors told my wife that she is in the 65 percentile for her height and in the 90 percentile for her weight. My girl’s weight has been an on going issue for quite some time. She can eat without stopping and we have already rationed her food but apparently, it was not enough. She is still too high up their in the scale, and it is at this age that her body starts to form its long term eating habits and food consumption. It is not that we starve our child, she eats healthy and plenty, it is just that she can eat double the quantity her brother, who is older than her, eats and I do not think it is healthy for her.

As a first step, we have informed day care that they are not allowed to give her any seconds of anything. If she is still hungry, she can eat as many vegetables or fruits as she wants, but no more pasta, chicken nuggets or fish sticks. The second step is to also keep a closer eye on her at home. We have decreased her portions and and for desert focus on more fruits. I hope that within a month or so we will get the results we want.

Tags: , , ,
Posted in Tips and Advice | No Comments »

Hovering Parents

Posted by Barack Levin on 21st December 2009

We went to the book store to find some arts and crafts books for the kids. To my surprise, we could not find anything that even slightly interested me or them and as we were about to leave the store, I came a cross a paper robot book. It included a CD and on it templates to print, cut, glue and construct a paper robot. I am terrible with my fine motor skills and really hate doing these projects, but since my son is very good at such thing (and that’s what counts), I bought the book. My son did not let the book out of his hands for 2 whole days, reading and examining every page. I printed the easiest robot template and together we started working on it. The idea was that he would cut the template, put the glue and I will help with the overall guidance. It worked beautifully and after several attempts (again, thanks to my useless fine motor skills), we managed to build a robot. My son was very happy and took it to class he next day. The other kids saw the robot and wanted one as well and so I suggested that I volunteer to come to class and build the roots with them. Since the most labor intensive part if to cut the templates, I gave the kids the templates and the teacher added a note on how to cut them. I expected that all the kids will be able to cut along the lines and bring the cut sections to school after the weekend.

And indeed, the Monday after, all the kids brought their cut templates. I was happy that they did, but soon enough learned something very interesting. None of the kids cut the template by himself. To my very surprise, the parents did it for the kids and I am asking myself “why?”. Why do parents need to do this? What is the deal with this? Why can’t they supervise the kids cutting the pieces? This is exactly what I am preaching for – give the kids some responsibility, let them tackle the issue, let them work on their project. Do not do it instead of them.

Tags: ,
Posted in Tips and Advice | No Comments »

Guidance

Posted by Barack Levin on 21st December 2009

I think that one aspect of parenting is to guide and nurture the kid to discover his or her abilities and skills. Unfortunately, I see many parents who try to live their dreams through their kids. TV shows are full of these parents who always wanted to be the Homecoming Queen or a Ms. Universe candidate and never made it, so now, they live their dreams by having their young kids participate in such shows and they are convinced that the kids like it. I see other kids where the dad, who is a sport fanatic, teaches his kid the names of all baseball hall or famers in the last 10 years. I am not impressed. I actually think that it is sad that parents do not listen to their kids and better understand their needs.

One of my son’s friends is super active. He is the kind of kid you would expect to see running after a ball for hours on end.  However, his parents thought that it would good for him to learn piano. They wanted him to learn piano because they never had the chance to do so and wanted him to play. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against playing the piano, actually I think it is a great skill, but I do not think that this specific kid is ready to sit quietly for 30 minutes and practice the piano. May be at a later age, but now he needs to spend his energy in free play.

I was reminded of all of that when my son came to me a few weeks ago and asked to play the piano. I myself do not know how to play any instrument, and would love my kids to play on something, but I never pushed them to do so. Same thing with their other skills. I find out that my son is a young engineer. He loves to work with his hands. He is my exact opposite, but I want to develop his skills and so I am getting plane kits for him and some other things that require very refined skills. He loves it and I hate every minute of it, but to see him developing and learning new techniques, brings me lots of joy.

I think that the best way to expose young minds to new skills is to slowly expose them to them. Take the piano for example. If he had not approach me for it, I would have taken him to a concert and ask if he would want to play an instrument. If he said yes, I would try with him. If he said no, I would try a different approach several months later in case his interests changed.

Tags: ,
Posted in Tips and Advice | No Comments »

Simple Control Exercise

Posted by Barack Levin on 13th December 2009

Today I witnessed first hand how parents lose control over the kids and how kids find it so easy to decide what they want to do.

We were invited to a dinner party tonight. Each kid got several chocolate coins. I told my kids to put theirs in their pockets because we will either eat them for desert or the next day. Knowing my kids, I had no doubt in mind that once this has been said, they will indeed put the candies in their pockets and would not touch them. They are not my soldiers, but understand that No means No and they already know that they do not need to try and nag because my mind would not change.

Another parent tried the same technique. His son has already eaten a candy and was peeling the wrap from another one. The dad told him not to eat it. The kid looked at him and said that he was saving it for later. The dad acknowledged but as the dad was taking his eyes off of his kid, the later, rapidly peeled the rest of the wrap and shoved the candy to his mouth. I understand that in many families, kids do that and it is the common practice. I would not have even mentioned this incident, if it wasn’t that 2 minutes later, the kid was unwrapping another candy. Now, this time, it was in plain full site of the dad. The dad saw it and told the kid: “what did I tell you before? You can eat only after dinner.” The kid looked at him and with no hesitation complete unwrapping the candy and biting it. This is a very simple power struggle. Who ever wins it will determine future relationship within this family. I was expecting the dad to take an immediate firm action but to my surprise he told his kid that what he did was not nice and at that completed his action on that matter.

No wonder that the kid now knows who is making the decisions in the house and he is going to take advantage of it any time he can.

Tags: , , ,
Posted in Tips and Advice | No Comments »

Sugar Diet

Posted by Barack Levin on 13th December 2009

We were invited to some friends tonight for dinner and they had another couple there as well. We were 6 adults and 6 kids. Before dinner time the kids had already started eating chocolate coins as an appetizer. Once they got full with that, the y moved to the main course which was a couple of pasta pieces. At the end of dinner, they all asked for a desert of donuts and brownies.

One kid topped it, he had for appetizer chocolate coins, for the main course he had ice cream and for desert some donuts. That was his dinner. An overload of sugar and empty calories.

I am proud to say that my kids ate healthy despite the overall atmosphere of grab as much sugar as you can. They had some pasta and salad and for desert a brownie. I told them to take the chocolate coins home with them and that we would eat one the next day.

Tags: , , ,
Posted in Tips and Advice | 1 Comment »

Adventures in the Yard

Posted by Barack Levin on 11th December 2009

Today I brought back the 2 boys (my son and the boy we carpool with) back home. The arrangement is that they play together for about an hour before the mom comes to take the other kid home.

It was cold but very nice day. The kind of day that just screams out: “Come play outside!” and so I decided to give the boys the option to either play in my son’s room or go outside and play. I already knew what the answer will be so my I did not really have to gamble here.

The last time the boys were at our house and played, they noticed in our front yard a tree with one its limbs broken. This is a pretty long and sturdy branch that was still hanging to the tree but its other side was toughing the ground, forming a sloped branch bridge from the ground to the tree. The kids so it last time and decided they had to climb it. I had no objections.

So when today I asked the question, I could already see the sparkle of adventure in their eyes and as soon as I finished the question they were already dashing down the driveway towards the tree. They were having a blast for almost an hour. They try climbing as high as they could, they swung from the branch and they drove their toy cars up and down the slope and over all created an adventure for themselves.

I looked at them from inside the house (I am not that crazy to go out when it is that cold) and thought how wonderful it might be for their bodies to be in the fresh air, use their bodies to tackle the tree, use their imagination to think of new adventures and overall experience the world not through a TV or a computer game. I am all for some adventuring even at the price of some cuts and bruises than any TV show or video game.

Tags: , , , ,
Posted in Tips and Advice | No Comments »

Yucky ! Spider !

Posted by Barack Levin on 9th December 2009

We got the kids their weekly DVD and set down to watch it with them. During the winter time we let them watch a DVD once a week instead of the usual once every two weeks.

The animated DVD I brought home was about a kid who explore the world. He shares his findings with his mom, dad and sister which is probably around 2 years old. The DVD is divided into several stories. Each story=new adventure. I like to watch DVDs with my kids because I like to try to see and understand the contents through their eyes, the eyes of a 5.5 year old and a 4 year old. It always interest me to find out what eventually sticks and what is left out and so I also like to add my comments and ask questions during our DVD viewings. As we were watching the different sections, we got to a section that dealt with spiders. To my very surprise, the segment started with the little girl seeing a spider and its web in the window and said: “Yucky ! Spider”. To many readers this might seem like an insignificant detail but I almost jumped out of my seat. The reason I was so agitated by it was the fact that kids are not born disliking bugs, spiders or snakes. They learn to dislike them from us, the adults. We project on them some of our fear and arachnophobia is probably high there on the list. I try my best not to project or even reveal my fears to my kids. They have plenty of time to develop their own and do not need to add my load of fears to theirs. I think that the producer of the movie made a big mistake by attributing these words to the girl. It clearly shows that there was not thought behind that segment. A better approach could be to have the little girl see the web and ask what it is.

As we were watching the DVD I told my kids that spiders are our friends and not Yucky at all. They agreed. I told them the spider eats mosquitoes and little flies and helps us. This is not the first time that we have encountered a “bug” problem and they already know my approach, but the DVD only adds to my theory that not everything on TV is actually educational and that parent guidance is always welcome and more often than not, needed.

Tags: , , , ,
Posted in Tips and Advice | No Comments »

Playing with Nails

Posted by Barack Levin on 9th December 2009

Today we were playing in my daughter’s room, just goofing around. She and her brother like to wrestle with me. They jump, kick, climb and slide all over me. It is one of my great pleasures to play rough with them and they always come for more. After about an hour of wrestling, and after they exhausted all of their energy (and I was sweating buckets of sweat), we decided to calm down and play a game. My little girl went to the shelves and took out a game we have not played with for a long time.

The concept of the game is quite simple; take two dimensional shapes (circle, triangle, rectangular etc) lay them on a cork board and combine them into complicated shapes such as a plane, boat, rocket and more. But the concept of the game is not the reason for this post. It is the way these shapes are attached to the cork board which caused me to do some heavy thinking. In the middle of every shape there is a small radius hole into which the child needs to slide a nail with a large head (so that the nail would not slide through the hole), use a small hammer to drive the nail into the cork board. The nail holds the shape on the board.

I started thinking about this because I remembered that my kids got this game when they were two years old. That mean that already at that age, they were exposed to sharp small object that could potentially be inhaled or cause some serious injury. When I got the game the thought that something like this might happen, never even crossed my mind, and it never did so not because I am negligence father, but because I knew (as well as I know today), that it is enough for me to explain to my kids what is dangerous and what can or can not be done with these nails and leave them all alone in the room with this game to play with, knowing for certain that nothing out of the ordinary will happen.

I was remembering all of this because it just dawned on me, that kids can become very responsible and understand what is said to them even at the very early age of two years old.

Tags: , ,
Posted in Tips and Advice | No Comments »

Mario Super Galaxy

Posted by Barack Levin on 6th December 2009

I am carpooling with another family. Everyday, someone else is taking the boys to school and back. We started about 4 months ago and this “partnership” is working very well and relives me from driving many unnecessary miles.

The kid we carpooling with is about 6 months older than my son and very cute. On our way to school or back we used to talk about all sorts of things and what the boys did or planned to do at school.

About a month after we started car pooling, the other parents bought their kid a video game system. Since that day the only thing that boy can talk about is only about the game. How Super Mario did this, how the princesses does that, how he jumps, what he collects and so forth. It is impossible to talk to him on any other subject. It is as if his mind is completely blocked to any other topic he used to talk about. On top of that, he is stalking about killing other people in the game, pushing them, jumping on them, slashing them and on and on. It is as if he is completely indifferent to violence. Now, I do not know if this will affect his behavior and will make him more violent, but I certainly do not expect a 6 year old boy talking this way and only about this subject.

I have also noticed that he has become very agitated recently. He can not sit quiet for one minute. He has to move, shout, yell and get out weird noises during the ride. I have no doubt in mind that his mind is so exposed to this game, that even when he does not play it the game still runs itself in his head causing him to be unrelaxed. I am almost positive that kids who suffer from ADD and the like are probably very affected by such games and the fact that these games put their little brains in overdrive and do not let them rest for a moment.

Tags: , , , ,
Posted in Tips and Advice | No Comments »

Kids and Money

Posted by Barack Levin on 6th December 2009

My wife went to a movie with one her girl friend. The other mom is a close friend and her son is a very good friend of our son. After the movie, they went to grab something to eat and naturally the conversation revolved around our kids. The topic this time was about how kids help in the house, and the other mom asked my wife if our kids help with simply household chores such us clearing the table, cleaning their rooms, putting their clothes in their closets as so forth. My wife said yes and asked why, and the other mom said that they are running into a problem with their kid.

Apparently, he did not want to help with the household chores, so their solution was to pay him for doing things around the house. Common household chores got their going bids and this is how they managed to have him involved. However, she added, now they are facing a problem. Now their son asks for money for almost everything. He demands money when he goes to sleep, brushes his teeth, dress up by himself and for almost anything else that he does. Basically, he is extorting them.  

In my mind, giving money to such young kids for helping around the house is a slippery slope. First, as the other mom mentioned, it can create a cascading affect in which the kid now wants money for any insignificant thing he does. Secondly, and most importantly, the parent shave now created an employer-employee situation in the family. Instead of having a family cell that works and plays together, now you have the parents who have the resources, and their little employees who run around to satisfy their parents needs not because they feel part of the family, but because they want money. Basically, the parents are sacrificing family bonds to greed.

Tags: , , , ,
Posted in Tips and Advice | No Comments »

Junk Food and Friends

Posted by Barack Levin on 6th December 2009

We talk a lot about food and nutrition with our kids. We explain to them what is consider good and healthy food and what is not, why fruits are better deserts than cookies, why excess sugar is bad for you and why vegetables help a kid grow up stronger and healthier. We are not health fanatics. We do not forbid them from eating hotdog or hamburgers, but at home we do emphasis good eating habits.

Today, my son went over to one of his friends for a play date and also stayed there for lunch. When he returned, the other kid’s mom told us this story. The kids have just finished eating some chicken nuggets and peas and were ready for desert. The mom served them some apple slices and asked them if they also wanted some marshmallow. My kid thought about it for a second and said “I do not think I ate enough healthy good today. I will take one more apple slice and than I will take one piece of that marshmallow”. The mom told us that she was floored. She could not understand how a kid who is only 5.5 years old can limit his candy intake.

I was very happy that my son was behaving the same way he behaves at our house in other kids’ houses and implemented the real need of healthy food.

Tags: , , , , ,
Posted in Tips and Advice | No Comments »

WP SlimStat