What Does the Future Hold for Our Kids?

Hey Matthew song posterIf I gave every parent a peek into the future, most parents would want to know what would become of their children. We dedicate a lot of time, effort and love to get them to a good place and even a glimpse 10 minutes into the future could really help us direct our actions.

Eden had to raise a virtual child in a computer program for a course in psychology. I thought it was great fun. The rumors were that some of the virtual kids in the program had died or had gotten into lots of trouble before they had reached the age of 18, which was the end of the “parenting game”. Eden’s daughter was gorgeous, happy and successful.

I told Eden that her real daughter would be even better, because the choices the program allowed her to choose from were limited to 4 options, when in reality, you typically have many more options.

As Eden “played” the game, I started thinking it was a good learning tool for parents – not 100% realistic and I would not let any computer program or statistical research help me raise my child – but I really thought it was interesting to know how different parenting styles result in different behaviors in children. In a way, I thought the game was the closest thing to predicting your child’s future.

Read more about how to help your kids have a bright future

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Best Anger Management Tips and Quotes

Girl screaming in anger

If you kick a stone in anger, you’ll hurt your own foot
– Korean Proverb

Some people are angry. Most of them learn anger from their parents and are trapped in a vicious cycle. One of the saddest things is an angry family, in which the parents are angry at the kids, who are angry at their parents, who are angry at their kids…

Sounds familiar?

Anger always comes from frustrated expectations
– Elliott Larson

Some say anger peaks during the teen years. I am not sure this is true for everyone. I know many teens who are joyful and happy. I was angry until I became a teenager, so I believe anger has nothing to do with age and hormones and everything to do with awareness. I think anger is a mindset that clutters our thinking and we are angry because we have poisoned ourselves with thoughts of disappointment and frustration.

For every minute you are angry, you lose sixty seconds of happiness
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Let’s face it, we are all angry at times. We are angry when things do not happen the way we want them to. Anger is a form of extreme disappointment that we think we are directing towards what we believe to be the source of the disappointment, but in fact, we direct it only towards ourselves. When I think of anger, I immediately see a bottle of poison.

Read the best tips and quotes on anger management

Parenting Research

Eden Baras, psychology studentEver since I started studying for my degree in Education, the science of parenting has appealed to me. I remember that for my third year of studies, I registered for a special course to become a facilitator of parenting workshops, but I was not accepted. I was so upset. I told the girl in the office, “What do you mean ‘not accepted’? I’m the best student in my class. You can’t get anyone better than me around here”, and she said, “Only parents can be facilitators of a parenting course”.

As soon as Eden was born, I understood what she had meant.

The search for what makes a good parent and teacher did not stop when I was told I could not do the parenting course. I went on a personal journey to try to find the pieces of my most valuable puzzle in life – the makings of a great parent.

I think this constant search has brought me to where I am today. Working with the “education triangle” of parents, teachers and students to understand what makes great kids. At one stage, I remember, it hit me that although some pieces of the puzzle would reveal themselves as time went on, I could already see the picture of a great parent clearly. I had found the most important pieces and I started sharing them with as many parents as I could through my parenting workshops and this parenting blog.

My daughter, Eden, who is now 23 years old, was one of the participants in my lifelong research. I am not sure if this was the reason she decided to study psychology, but she did.

Read more about new parenting research

Overcoming Hurts and Anger

Overcoming hurts and angerIn the past few days, I have been reading a book called Overcoming Hurts & Anger (How to Identify and Cope with Negative Emotions) by psychiatrist Dwight L. Carlson M.D. The book was published in 1981, so it is not hot off the press, and there are many references in it to the Christian Bible, which generally took place sometime before 1981 ;P

Nevertheless, the most important thing about books is how they affect our life and how much useful information we find in them, and this book turns out to be quite useful to me. By writing about it here, I hope to make it useful for you too.

Here’s a quick summary of the key ideas in the book:

  • Anger is the result of unresolved emotions, like frustration, disappointment and rejection. When negative emotions are dealt with, anger does not develop
  • Anger builds up in layers. We are all creatures of habit and relive our patterns every day. Any dysfunctional situation we encounter is likely to take place again and again, each time adding another layer to what the book calls our “unresolved anger fund”
  • Regular tantrums, even violent outbursts involving breaking things, are not the same as resolution. They are a desperate attempt to get attention that may lead to resolution, but they resolve nothing. In fact, as you might expect, they make things worse and even worsen the violent person’s feeling of self-esteem, safety and human connection

Read more about how to overcome your anger

My School Horror: Lazy Kids

Asa Butterfield - HugoA few weeks ago, I starting writing about horror stories that happen at school when teachers are not aware of how their actions affect the children and when they do not know what is happening in kids’ lives outside of school. The teacher in today’s story is kind, loves her students and does an amazingly great job under tough circumstances, but despite her best intentions, something went horribly wrong.

While my previous post was about events that happened 38 years ago (you can calculate my age now), this event took place just recently at a school nearby.

Sharon was a 6th Grade teacher and tried very hard to make Josh participate in class activities. Josh was just a lazy kid. He did not do his homework, he was rude and violent towards other kids and was a typical troublemaker. Every day he was absent from school was a great day. She tried giving him tasks, helped him and did all the regular behavior management things to get him interested and engaged, but nothing worked. When she thought she had exhausted all her options, she decided to call his home and tell Josh’s parents about his behavior. His parents said, “Thank you for letting us know. We’ll talk to Josh and make sure he never causes any more trouble at school”.

The following day, Josh came to class and was very quiet. It was a summer day, but he was wearing a long-sleeved jumper. Sharon felt something was wrong with that and asked him to stay with her after class. She asked him about the jumper. At first, he said he was a bit cold in the morning, but eventually, she asked him to take off his shirt, just for a second.

Read more about how to help kids learn better

Put a Little Love in Your Heart

Little girl hugging a womanLast week, Ronit and I saw a movie that made me think there are some people with no love in their heart. Then, we attended a wedding ceremony that was all about love, and that got me thinking about parents’ role in making the world a more loving place for their children. Since Christmas is coming and we will have a lot more time with our kids, the timing is perfect.

The film we saw was called The Whistleblower. It is a story of an American police officer who works for the United Nations’ peacekeeping forces in Bosnia and uncovers a women trafficking operation. We sat on big, soft cushions on the grass at a park by the Brisbane River, the weather was perfect, the atmosphere was magical, we were happy for the chance to get away for a bit in each other’s company.

Then, the movie started.

The level of brutality shown on the screen by the traffickers towards the women, the complete disregard for the law and the strong violation of every moral system I could think of disturbed me to the core. I had to struggle to keep watching some scenes and felt terrible for poor Ronit who is generally more sensitive than I am.

When we talked about the movie in the car on the way home, we both wondered what would compel anyone to abuse another person in such a way. Our conclusion was that these people had no love in their hearts. Not romantic love. Kindness, compassion, empathy, tenderness, comradery, friendship and understanding towards another human being.

Read more about how to make the world a better place with love

Video Games Violence (3): Parenting

Kids shooting at an arcadeIf you are a parent and your kids play or want you to buy them video games, keep reading! Today’s post is about how parents view video games, how video games are rated and how you can help stop violence inspired by video games by following some simple tips and perhaps save lives.

Video games are considered art. The game designers do their best to make each scene as real as possible and see themselves as artists. You can watch this to understand how this artistic work can be disturbing and potentially dangerous.

Please make sure there are no children around when you watch this video, because it is extremely violent. If you are sensitive to vicious brutality and blood, you may want to skip the video altogether.

Click to watch

While Tsoof was doing his assignment on video game violence, I was shocked with the level of violence the kids were exposed to and it really got me scared. By the end of it, he also showed me some statistics about parents and that got me even more scared.

Parents and video games

Here is a list of figures from a US research into parents’ involvement and attitude towards playing video games:

  • 50% of parents play computer and video games with their children
  • 93% of computer and video games are purchased or rented while the parents are present
  • 88% of games are purchased by adults
  • 72% of parents believe video games are “fun for the entire family”
  • 71% of parents are asked to play by their kids
  • 66% of parents believe computer and video games provide good opportunities for them to socialize with their kids
  • 63% of parents believe computer games are a positive part of their kids’ life
  • 50% of parents claim that playing computer and video games with their children provides good opportunities to monitor the game content
  • 10% of parents never check the official rating of the computer and video games their kids use

Read more about the link between video games and violence

Video Games Violence (2): Video-game-inspired real violence

In the first chapter of the series, I wrote some facts about the gaming industry and some research regarding video games and violence. Here is a list of real life killings and acts of violence inspired by video games. You may even recognize some of them.

Real life violence out of virtual worlds

Monster from a video gameApril 20, 1999: 18-year-old Eric Harris and 17-year-old Dylan Klebold killed 12 students and a teacher in the Columbine High School massacre. The two were allegedly obsessed with the video game Doom.

1 April 2000: 16-year-old Spanish teenager José Rabadán Pardo murdered his father, his mother and his sister as an “avenging mission” given to him by the main character of the video game Final Fantasy.

20 November 2001: 21-year-old American Shawn Woolley committed suicide after what his mother claimed was an addiction to EverQuest.

February 2003: 16-year-old American Dustin Lynch was charged with aggravated murder and used an insanity defense that he was “obsessed” with Grand Theft Auto III.

7 June, 2003: 18-year-old American Devin Moore shot and killed two policemen, inspired by the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

Read more about real life violence inspired by video games

War and Peace are Personal

Captain AmericaPeople often wonder how a large-scale conflict, involving hundreds of thousands of people, causing numerous deaths and leaving countless people emotionally and/or physically maimed for life can occur. Yes, I am talking about war.

All around the world, no matter when you look, there is some war going on. Sometimes, they are obvious confrontations of armies. Other times, they are a wide spread collection of small events and often involve civilians, but they are wars nonetheless.

Wars are stupid. Wars are cruel. Wars are wasteful. Nobody truly wins in a war. Yet, they are always there. Worse, they mostly involve people who have no desire to fight whatsoever.

This week, Ronit and I watched two war movies: Letters from Iwo Jima and Captain America. That made me realize the extent to which everyday people can be mobilized to serve some external cause. The Japanese had their tradition, their emperor and their honor. The Americans had the propaganda that told them they were protecting their country and their freedom. In the end, many people fought on both sides, many people died, many were injured and many families suffered.

Watching a war movie, we do not count deaths. There are just too many. In reality, each dead soldier has a mother, a father, friends, maybe a partner and maybe even children. Each dead soldier has a future and then, nothing. A hole in the fabric of society.

Read more about how to live in peace

Video Games Violence (1): Shock and Awe

Violent video game characterOur kids do not play computer or video games that often (they are too busy ice skating, singing, playing music, dancing, playing sport and reading to have much time left for video games), so we did not expect this to make any difference to our 15-year-old son Tsoof, but it did big time.

This year, Tsoof had to do a school assignments in drama class. If you think Drama studies are all about playing, make belief or acting, they are not. He had to research a topic and present it in a special style and he worked really hard on this project. Gal and I felt happy and privileged to watch the whole process of this assignment and the way he grew from doing it.

We were shocked by how easy it was to find information on video games and violence. It is all there – all the proof for the negative and devastating effects of violent video games on our society. Yet, the spread of violent video games is increasing and things are getting worse.

I was not sure how to present Tsoof’s findings to you. I was debating whether to tell you my opinion or maybe there was no need. I think maybe just giving you some of the facts about it will be enough for you to understand the severity of the problem. As I believe that as parents, we have lots of power to change this horrible phenomenon. So sit back and be horrified!

Read more about how violent video games affect your children