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Barack Levin

Author: Barack Levin

Archive for April, 2011

Kids and Thunder Storms

Posted by Barack Levin on 24th April 2011

I met a mom to a 3 year old toddler and she told me this story. Her son is afraid of thunder storms. Every time he hears the thunders or sees the lighting, he gathers the whole family and asks to turn off all the electric appliances and all the lights in the house. He huddles with his family in the living room with a flash light until the storm is over.

Some might think it is a very cute story. I do not. I see it as encouraging a questionable behavior instead of eradicating it. What the mom does is to augment his fear and fuel it by participating in his games. Nothing good can come out of it, instead, she should replace his fear associated with thunder storm with pleasant experiences. How do you do it? Petty simple.

The basic principle is to have fun during a thunder storm. This is how I did it with my kids when they were afraid of the noise and light. First, I told them why we have the thunder. I explained that the clouds they see in the sky bump into each other and make this horrific noise but that there is nothing to be afraid of. I also told them that because they bump together they also create the light. The second step was to associate thunder storms with a pleasant experience. During the next storm, we put on our boots and coats took an umbrella and a plastic cup and went to the rain. Why the plastic cup? Here is why. We extended our hands with the cup from under the umbrella and filled them with rain drops. We drank the water and continued to our scheduled party. We jumped in some paddles, floated some leaves over some “rivers”, built some dams from branches and got completely soaked. That was in a middle of a thunder storm. The first time out they were still afraid, the second time less and the third time onward were happy to do it. Now they are not the least afraid of thunder storms even if me and my wife are shaking during a severe one.

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Helmets and Pads

Posted by Barack Levin on 5th April 2011

My little girl started learning to ride her bike without training wheels about 3 weeks ago. It is my belief that kids around 5 years old should master this ability. Unfortunately, I still see many kids who are even older than that and still ride with their training wheels.

When she learned how to ride, she was equipped with a helmet and pads (knees and elbows). To be very honest, I thought that these pads were overkill but my wife thought otherwise and I had to respect her wishes. Personally, I do not believe in these safety features and would prefer my kids to learn to ride without them.

My little girl tried her best and after about a week, finally managed to ride under her own power down our street.

Fast forward 3 weeks, she rides now very well. Her bike is not wobbling any more and she keeps a straight line. Her balance has also improved a lot and she has much more control over her bike. When I saw that I decided to take the helmet and pads completely off (as I did with my son when he mastered riding his bike). I have no doubt in my mind that she will fall, but you know what? It is part of growing up. I do not want her to live in a bubble. Let her experience real life for a change.

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My son is a loner

Posted by Barack Levin on 5th April 2011

My son, who is now almost 7, had the problem of being shy when he was younger. I took things to hand and used my “un-shy” technique on him and it worked great. Recently I have found out that I have only accomplished part of my goal. He is no longer shy with adults and knows perfectly well how to approach them, but with other kids his age things are different. He prefers to be a loner. Because of my health condition, I was not able to address this issue, but now that I am back on track, this is now my number 1 priority. I called him over the other day and explained things to him in the best most forward way I could:” You have only 2 friends” I started “Do you think it is good?” He actually did not see a problem with that. “You see” I continued “if you have only 2 friends and you want one of them to come for a sleepover but he is busy and the other one is out of town, you got no more friends. I am not asking you to have 50 friends, but at least 5 good ones.” He started stating that he has lots of friends and started counting them. “You see” I replied “I only consider friends those who come to our house or you go to theirs at least once a month. None of the names you gave me are considered friends. You should try to get some more friends”. “How do I do that?” he asked. “Simple enough” I replied. “When you go to recess and play, ask someone to join you. If you see other kids play, ask them to join the game. Even in the park, where you do not know anyone but see some kids play together, simply approach them and ask to join in. The worst that could happen is that they will say No”.

On Sunday we did go to the park and he did see some other kids playing with a ball. “Here is your chance” I said and pointed at them “Go and try” He did and 30 seconds later he was immersed in good play time with them.

I have decided that it is my role as a parent to make sure that my son is not a loner kid. I want him to be socially active, I want him to have friends and I want him to have a good time. This is the first step, but I plan on many more steps to have him reach this goal.

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Dog Phobia

Posted by Barack Levin on 3rd April 2011

I went to the park with my kids and dog the other day and met a new kid. His mother and him were going for a walk and just happened to stop and play at the same park. My kids played with him and found out he was 7 years old. At one point I asked him if he wanted to throw a tennis ball to my dog. A long time ago I have found out that kids love to play with our Golden Retriever. He said no and his mother offered an explanation: “He is afraid of dogs”. I looked at her puzzled. If you know that he is afraid of dogs, why don’t you do something about it? Don’t you think it is terrible for a kid to have such a phobia?

I have had to face such problems in the past as well with my kids. Several of my previous posts deal with similar issues. My approach has always been consistent in such situations. I always take care of the problem while it is still small and easy to handle.

If my kids were afraid of dogs, I would have started their therapy in small steps. The first one would be to go to a pet shop where they usually have puppies for sale or adoption. I would have let them play with these puppies first and learn that there is nothing bad the puppies can do to them. The next step would be to go to an animal shelter and meet some bigger dogs and let my kids interact with them as well. The third and last step would be to take the kids to a dog park and ask some of the dog owners there if the kids can pet and play with their dogs. In a matter of weeks I would have been able to reverse this fear in them and actually have them grow to love dogs to the point that they would want to adopt one.

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DSI Addiction

Posted by Barack Levin on 1st April 2011

I am seriously contemplating if my decision to buy my son a DSI device was the right decision. We limit his play time to 20 minutes a day and it has been this way for about a year now. Lately, we started to find out that he is possessed with his DSI. I already wrote another post about his “forgetfulness” when he holds the device in his hand. Yesterday, we had another incident.

My wife took the kids to my girl’s gym. My son is not allowed to play there so he left his DSI in the car. On the way back from the gym, he was excited to start playing with his DSI and forgot about everything else. He did something that even as a toddler he never did. He ran in the parking lot and was almost run over by a car. Both my wife and I see this incident as a warning sign. We called him over at dinner time for a talk. We told him about our decision: “You are too pre-occupied with the DSI. When you hold it or about to play with it, it is as if everything else melts away. We can not agree to this behavior. Today you were almost run over by a car just because your mind was already thinking about your DSI. We decided that this can not go on anymore and this is your last warning in this matter. If we catch you one more time delving into the DSI device and forgetting about everything else, we will simply take it away from you indefinitely. You are a big boy now and can make your own decisions. Your actions will determine if you can have the DSI or not”. He nodded (well, he has no other options anyway).

We hope that this is the end of this story.

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