Hey, Kip!

Questions from Dads,
Answered By Dads
Chris (aka "Kip") Peters holds an M.S. in Human Development/Family Science, with a specialization in Marriage and Family Therapy. He also did extensive research in the areas of parenting and discipline styles during graduate studies. As a father of two himself, he appreciates the daily struggles that parenting presents. Knowing that fellow guys are not exactly eager to admit that they don't have all the answers, he started this project, with the aim of enabling dads to help other dads, without feeling judged or ridiculed for asking questions. Got a question about parenting? Ask away! (By the way, moms are welcome, too!)
  1. Cell Phones: For Kids or Not?
    Hey, Kip! My daughter's friends all have cell phones. I have been hesitant to get her one, and she's been pitching a fit! She even said I was "abusing" her by not giving her one. Is it considered abuse to not get a child a cell phone these days? -Joey Hi, Joey. Quite a loaded question you've got there! We do live in changing times, and it seems like everyone has a cell phone, usually of the "smart"variety. No doubt your daughter feels left out and reacting pretty strongly. As far as terms go, no authority figure (like CPS or the police) would consider your not giving in to her demands as "abuse". It's called setting limits, and every parent has the prerogative to do so as they see fit. As long as you are in control of your emotions and not inflicting physical/emotional harm, you are not abusing her. You didn't mention how old your daughter is. At some point, it does seem appropriate and even more convenient for parents to be able to reach their children via cell phone. You will need to decide when you daughter is responsible enough to handle one. Even then, given her immature demands, you may need to consider setting limits, such as turning it in at bedtime. Hang tough, and keep setting those limits that are important to you! -Kip
  2. How To Get Them To Stay In Bed?
    Hey, Kip! Problem: My five-year-old boy consistently gets out of bed. We have tried: -reading at night (we still do this) before bedtime -baths before bedtime -shutting the door and not talking to him when he comes out of the room -sitting outside the door -begging -pleading -reason -praying -heavy blankets (for comfort) -did I mention praying? So, I ask you, do you have any advice? Can you take 1 minutes and provide some insights into what works(ed) with your kids? Thanks in advance. Our stress level will be forever grateful for your suggestions! -Julian Hi, Julian. Oh, man. I've been there! My daughter has trouble staying in bed in the mornings. She is strong-willed, as well, so when we dig in, she often digs in harder. We have implemented a few things that have been quite helpful. To address the negotiation that strong-willed children often require, we instituted a "button jar". When she does what she is asked without prompting, or with a good attitude the first time, she gets a button. 10 buttons = a special activity with Mommy or Daddy. She loves looking forward to earning all those buttons! We also invested in a programmable timer for her room. When the nightlight is on, she should be asleep, but when it goes off, she's free to get up. A clock with a removable face has also worked - we shade in the hours where she should be in bed, so she can visually check if it's time to get up yet. -Kip
  3. Did Our Sitter Take Advantage?
    Hey, Kip. We told our babysitter to help herself to the food in the pantry and fridge, obviously assuming she wasn't going to go crazy. She ended up eating half a jar of peanut butter, three pieces of bread, and a full frozen pizza. Do you think she was taking advantage of our generosity to get several meals worth of food? -Eaten out of House and Home Hi, "Eaten"! I think it's possible she "took advantage", but I wouldn't write her off entirely. The offer to help herself was freely made, she didn't eat anything expensive, and she didn't steal anything. She might even have something going on in her life that contributed to her need to eat that much. It doesn't strike me as particularly extreme, as others have said, unless she was only there for a short time. For the better part of the day, that seems like a reasonable about of food for a teenager. I think the best thing to do from here is to be clear with your expectations. Suggest a few items you would be comfortable with her eating, such as "There's a pizza in the freezer for you" or "Feel free to make yourself a sandwich!" Or if your kids are a little older, give her $10, and ask her to treat herself and the kids to McDonald's. Good sitters are hard to come by. If this is your only concern, I say give her another chance, and just refine they way you offer food. Generosity, while it can be taken advantage of, is an admirable trait. -Kip

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