Archive for October 2010

Trick or treat on foot

October 27, 2010
safe trick or treaters, halloween and evil people, keeping kids safe on halloween. walking and trick or treating. Going alone on halloween. Halloween isn't what it used to be. Diabetes and childhood obesity and halloween.

Photo by bloximages

During my regular radio spot on Mondays with Wireless Mike during the coffee break at 10:15 am, we talked about the differences between Halloween for “kids today” and 20, 30, 40 years ago.

One of the biggest differences is the skyrocketing number of fat and diabetic kids, and the prediction that one-in-three adults will be diabetic by 2050.

I blame the car and its drivers for the obesity and diabetes epidemics.

We drive everywhere, including parents driving kids house-to-house on Oct. 31 in fear of Jack the Ripper.

According to research by Lenore Skenazy, the famous NYC mother who let her 10-year-old son ride the subway home alone , the rates of childhood abduction have not changed since Baby Boomers grew up.

Skenazy devoted a whole chapter in her book, “Free Range Kids” to the myth of Halloween danger. Only one American was ever convicted for fatal Halloween mischief — a father who poisoned his son for the insurance money.

What HAS changed is the media focus on childhood safety, fingerprinting children and assuming every adult is a potential kidnapper, rapist and ax-murderer. Yes, the Catholic Church helped perpetuate that myth.

In reality, children are most likely to be abducted by a relative [read: estranged parent] and/or a young person ran away from home.

Children are in no more danger for kidnapping than their parents were 20, 30 or 40 years ago. Children today have a one-in-1.5 million chance of being abducted and murdered by a stranger — LOWER than the possibility of getting struck by lightning.

Most parents don’t obsess over the possibility of a lightning strike. So why obsess over stranger danger?

Parents could use “worry power” to obsess over obesity — which about one-third of young people suffer from, that can lead to diabetes, stroke, heart disease and high blood pressure.

For starters, walk from house to house on Halloween.

Next, make sure everyone in the family has a bike. Start biking to places close to home. Use a bike for transportation at least eight months of the year in New England.

Wear them out by walking long distances on Halloween.

Sugarless Halloween fun

October 25, 2010
"the lion the witch, and the wardrobe" dressed for Halloween. Family fun is dressing up, not necessarily all about the candy. Halloween can be fun without a plethora of candy. With the rate of diabetes skyrocketing in the USA, we must watch what we eat. Halloween is once a year. Let them pig out.

Here we are, the lion, the witch, and the wardrobe. How about that witch in the work boots? My daughter Casey made the lion's mane when she was in high school -- using strands from a new mop.

I used to wonder, “Why don’t kids come to our house on Halloween?”

My kids explained: “Because you gave out raisins and apples!”

This year I’m giving out spider rings, and pencils and styrofoam airplanes with Halloween themes.

IF any kids come.

This year, I’m going to dress as a witch, hide behind a small opening above the garage door, and call down, “Hey my little pretties, what are you doing down there?”

It will terrify the toddlers and thrill the older kids, even if they know it’s coming, year after year. Halloween is one night of the year you just don’t know what’s going to happen.

Then, there’s the conundrum of how to manage the candy.

My theory was to let them binge on Oct. 31, then thoroughly brush their teeth. I skimmed off some excess booty, hid it in the freezer for special occasions later, and let them manage the rest. They’d get sick of it and lose interest. That’s called moderation.

Some families don’t know about moderation and one-night binges.  Whole families waddle along, sipping sugared drinks, under threat of developing diabetes. The CDC predicts one-third of adults could have diabetes by 2050, and higher rates among minorities.

Halloween is a one-night blitz. What counts are their eating and exercise habits the rest of the year.

Obesity puts children at higher risk to develop Type 2  diabetes. New research shows a father’s diet can impact the risk of diabetes. By the way, more men than women are overweight. This is one thing we can’t blame on mothers!

I’m sticking with non-sugar treats on Halloween. I’ll camp out upstairs and have some non-chocolate fun. Maybe they’ll stop by, even for pencils.

Chores, chores & more chores!

October 22, 2010

Tomorrow, Oct. 23 I’m speaking at the South End Library in Boston at 10 am on “Do I have to?” How chores empower families; and at the Rabbit Hole Bookstore in Fitchburg at 2 pm on “How to make peace with your mini tyrant.”

And this blogger reviewed my book —

Yesterday I spoke to a mom’s group in N. Attleboro about the Raising Able Family Management System. Their children are so young, their problems are simple, and the book addresses many of them. My main advice to them: say it once, then take action. Do not try. You must DO. And allow the children to feel the natural consequences of bad decisions.

It’s one of the most respectful ways to manage people and teach them.

Recognize your patterns — then refrain & relax

October 18, 2010


Pema Chodron Buddhist Nun leads parents in conscious life, conscious parenting, waking up to our patterns so we can be all about parenting. Becoming aware is crucial in parenting and discipline. We tend to discipline how we were raised. Waking up and recognizing our patterns can make a big difference to mothers and fathers and families, and our discipline style for children and teens.

Pema Chodron, Buddhist nun, has incredible insight, wisdom and wit, sprinkled with humanity and humility.


One of the greatest challenges in parenting is when children and teens use their expertise about us to “push our buttons.”

Typically, we respond as they expected and feel anxious, mad, guilty, out-of-control, and [add your own emotion here].

Becoming conscious to our patterns is hugely helpful. I call it “name and tame it” in my book. When I woke up to the power struggles I danced with my children, particularly my oldest daughter, I was able to change.

Change takes time and awareness, and baby steps — often one step forward and two steps back. Children will test our resolve, and things might get worse before they get better. So we cannot “try” a new approach. We must “do” it.

Pema Chodron, a Buddhist nun in Canada, offers four words on how to change our patterns in her remarkable recording, “Getting unstuck.”

The advice is simple and can be learned in a minute.

It takes a lifetime to live it:





When you catch yourself about to yell at a young person, RECOGNIZE it and ask, “Am I in present time?”

REFRAIN from your first impulse.

Take a deep breath and RELAX.

Then figure out a different way to RESOLVE it.

Put these four words where you can see them every day and practice being more aware of managing your emotions around your children. Only when you manage your emotions [at least half the time 🙂 ] can you expect your children to improve in their behavior.


“‘Do I have to?’ How Chores Empower Families.”

October 16, 2010

Everyone is invited to a free talk on Tuesday, Nov. 19 at 7 pm at the Blanchard Middle School, 19 West St. in Westford sponsored by the Westford Parents Alliance.

I plan , get the audience involved and laughing as I tell stories about getting my crew of four (now in their 20s) to do chores since they were 2 years old.

Chores empower families because young people learn self-discipline– which trickles over to other areas and parents can retire as the house servant.

I’ll describe how to use the Triple E — encouragement, empowerment and expectation — not money — to motivate children to do chores.

See you there!

Name it and tame it

October 13, 2010

Wonder what motivates your children? This six-minute video offers some insight into what motivates children to seek attention, power, revenge, and acting helpless. The “four goals of misbehavior” are based on the psychology of Alfred Adler, MD and his protegé, Rudolf Dreikurs.

Parents will find freedom and perspective because when you name it, you can tame it. The first step is to recognize what’s going on, refrain from your normal reaction, relax and resolve, according to Pema Chodron, a Buddhist nun.

This video will give you insight into how to craft a positive parenting plan.

Let them work it out.

October 11, 2010


These miners in Chili have learned to get along in a small place with no police. They resolve disputes like a family, by sitting down and talking. Family meetings are an ideal way to resolve conflicts

Photo by


The 33 Chilean miners are on the verge of rescue are reportedly arguing over who will be the first and last ones to exit the mine.

I presume they will work it out amongst themselves — the BEST remedy for any group, including families, to solve problems.

Parents can decrease sibling rivalry among children of all ages and sizes by expecting them to work out their problems, even if they’re not trapped underground for two months.

Children will respond to firm parental body language that says, “This is your problem, work it out.”

Parents empower children when they step out of the sibling fracas. Children will learn fighting hurts and to avoid tangling with smarter, older and stronger people without their personal body guard (parents) on call to defend them.

As most parents know, younger, smaller, weaker children have ways to fight back, which could include manipulating parents to advocate for them, even though the younger child might have started it.

The Raising Able Family Management System follows this precept: put them all in the same boat. Remove the toy or object if they can’t agree on a solution. Use high locks on doors to keep younger children out of older siblings’ rooms. Figure out non-verbal and non-violent ways extricate yourself from the war zone.

Act like they’re at the bottom of a mine shaft. Encourage, expect and empower children to work out their problems. Leave the room, stop the car, use red ear muffs, turn on the vacuum, crank up the radio. Lock yourself in the bathroom. Be creative! They are learning from these interactions.

As with all changes in parental behavior, anticipate the situation  might get worse before it gets better. Children might scream louder and longer and inflict physical pain on each other while they test your new resolve.

Don’t “try.” You must DO. Remember Yoda’s words to Jedi Warriors: “Do or not. There is no try.”