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Hi everybody! Looking for help understanding the mind of your tween child? Well you’ve come to the right place; being a tweenager myself I can give you accurate reports of what’s going on in your child’s head. On this blog I will help unveil the mystery of your child’s mind, and help you strengthen the bond you want with your child before you lose them to college or boarding school.

Many children ponder why grownups don’t seem to understand kids well; after all they used to be a kid themselves, right? You would think that grownups would understand children better-even without all the books on parenting-but no!

Video Games

Video games are alluring to kids. Why? Because, if you ask me, they show a fake goal being achieved-giving your child the feeling that they really accomplished an amazing goal-beating a hard level or winning the game. I myself don’t have any super modern video game consoles like a wii or x-box. The best I have is a DS, or double screen, but even I still find myself sucked into these electronic games. 

Many kids suffer from obesity-it doesn’t help that they sit around all day, inside, face glued to a TV or computer chowing down on snacks that they never burn off. If this is your child, find some way that they can accomplish goals-real goals. Some ideas are sports, volunteering (in many towns there are many community service options like cleaning up forest trails), and even calming activities like yoga. 

There are also vast quantities of bloody, gory, games encouraging violence. These games are not appropriate for children; at least until they are old enough to understand that it is not the way that you act in real life. Through friends I have been exposed to a couple of these games that personally gave me nightmares that night. Even though this probably doesn’t need to be mentioned the way you identify a gory game is that the cover has guns on it, while your child is playing it you see heads being blown off, limbs torn off, and people being tortured. I find that the makers of these games work very hard to include as much gore as possible and as much detail in it as possible. 

Computer games and games that run with a console are different. It is harder to control the computer games your child plays than other video games. You can control the rights of buying video games and consoles that your child may exercise, by simply looking at the case the game is in and telling them that it is not an appropriate game. 

A great way to keep your child from wasting away in front of a screen is to limit your child’s screen time. My parents have set restrictions on computer time-30 minutes each day, broken into 2 fifteen minute periods. This helps me get outside more, read more, and in general, be more productive. Another thing that helps me get out of the house is that I have pet chickens in my backyard. I have to take care of my chickens every day: feeding, giving them fresh water, and fluffing up their hay (not to mention collecting eggs). Once I am done with these chores I give them green leaves that I find and other treats, play with them, and in general have fun with them.

Update: Here’s some information on video game research that everybody should see.

Halloween Special

Jack O'Lantern

Halloween: one of kids’ favorite holidays—no fancy food, no boring table conversation, but loads of free candy. Dressing up can be hard for littler children-itchy Spiderman pants, long Batman cape getting caught on trees. Also bulky accessories, making it hard to carry the candy bag are very tricky and dangerous to manage—especially if your tween is in a group, someone could get hurt by accident. I still find some costumes itchy, so I stay away from them. My main Halloween costume is a black cape w/ hood and no arm holes-making it very easy to carry my candy bag (which is all that really matters). In my opinion, a simple costume is all that is called for (and needed). Little kids might want to dress up as some superhero—try a handmade costume (it can be as simple and cutting out a piece of fabric and gluing it to another), hand tailored too so it isn’t itchy.

The Stock Market

The stock market has been very confusing for me my entire life, although I am currently the proud owner of a couple of shares of Autodesk stock (and I’m too cheap to buy any more). Once my dad started explaining the general idea of stock I just walked along beside him tuned out. But then two words leaked through: “Make money”. I immediately tuned in and started asking questions. The main thing I still don’t understand is how the stock market is related to the companies in it. People buy a company’s stock, but why do they do it other than to make money? It just doesn’t make sense! To me it has always seemed as if the company and the stock were two different things, how does being in the stock market benefit a company after making the original profit of selling the stock they started with?

If you ever choose to bring up the topic of the stock market with your tween, be prepared to answer hundreds of questions (literally!). If you want to get your point across with any topic, don’t be all tensed up–it takes away the feel of it that you are just telling your tween something that your tween could live without and it makes the conversation really tense. After bringing up the topic, show your tween a stock market site that keeps track of all the stock prices, such as Yahoo Finance.

My dad arranged the stock buying. It was too expensive for me to buy hundreds of shares of stock at once, so my dad simply sold me a few shares of stock from his stash. Because I wasn’t buying it from the general public, he could just say these shares were mine and not sell them to anyone.

Kids and Money

Money for a little toddler is not the most important thing in the world. But as children get older the worth of money becomes more and more apparent. At first to a six-year-old the most they will ever want is $15 to spend on a stuffed animal or toy. To an eight-year-old they might just want $20 to spend on trading cards, or a soccer ball. To a ten-year-old the might want between $40 and $50 to spend on a video game. But your tween would probably want to spend over $1,000 on almost, anything if you let them: computers, video games, cell phones, skateboards, and ipods-the list could go on. I think you get it, as a child grows so does the amount of money needed to satisfy their needs. Does that mean you should just give them everything they want? No it doesn’t. Kids need to learn to save money, it’s a life-skill!

Allowance: kids should get allowance. Starting at 7 years old they should get 1 quarter for every year they are old, each week. So when they are 7 they get 7 quarters each week, when they are 8 they get 8 and so on. You should be enthusiastic with your child about how much money they have saved. I remember when I first got a bank account I brought my wallet (my dad got it for me on a business trip), at the end they asked me if I wanted to make a starting deposit and I proudly produced a twenty dollar bill, like it was the only one in the world, and handed it to them. I was so proud of myself and was happy for the rest of the day. 

Throughout my years my dad started to give me extra interest for the amount of money I had in the bank. It started at 5% a month. Eventually when I saved up to $500 my dad said the interest rate was going down to 2% a month. Now I am the proud owner of over $1000, and my interest is down to 1% a month (still a lot for bank interest).

There are certain, big, items that my parents buy over the years: bikes (although from now on I have to pay for them), a laptop when I go into high school, and a cell phone in 8th grade, when I redo my room my parents pay for the new furniture (but I wonder how long that’s going to last).

Kids don’t seem to like earning their money. In my opinion, that is because they have whatever they want-or that you give them whatever they want. but it also could just be that money isn’t their highest priority. The way to get them in the habit of earning money is whenever they want something that costs a reasonable amount of money tell them “you have your own money, if it’s worth it to you then you can buy it.” 

If you have a pet or other animal that gets hurt and the treatment is expensive you can tell them that they have to pay for it out of their own savings or if they don’t have much savings say that they will have to pay for half of it. If they say yes, when you get home, say that it’s ok and that you will pay for it-but only if they say yes. The main reason that you would do this is to make sure that the pet or other investment is really worth it to them, and you aren’t wasting your money on a poor investment.

If you want more information about kids and money from a grownup, here’s a book to check out: Kids and Money (Bloomberg Personal Bookshelf).

“Father to Son” Book

Father to Son is a book my dad got when I was about 7, and I recently looked through it. I have found that it contains lots of good information about what you should teach your child as he is growing up.  The books are small, only about 4 inches square, but packed with great information.

Father to Son: Life Lessons on Raising a Boy

From Little Boys…
Teach him to keep a secret.
Take him for walks and introduce him to the world of bugs.
Read to him nightly. He’ll love it.
Don’t let him sleep in you bed, even if he’s scared or sick. Sleep in his room on the floor.

From Boys & Sports…
Show him how to put a baseball in a new glove and wrap a belt around it.
Accept the fact he may not be a quarterback, he may be a tuba player. And a fine one at that.

From Boys & Money
Help him buy a small amount of stock with his own money when he’s twelve. Think how rich he’ll be if he keeps that up for fifty years.
Show him how to return something to the store and get his money back.

Books for Boys

Some children find reading an arduous task. I myself, find reading a fun experience and like fiction more than non-fiction. I find fiction as ‘a more fun, less learn’ type genre. Specifically fantasy or adventure. If your child likes video games, he or she may like sci-fi books. Science fiction can be a hard genre to find books in that are for less advanced readers-I’m talking 350 page books, not 5,000. I have heard that the The Hunger Games is a good sized sci-fi novel, followed by Catching Fire. Two more sci-fi books that are for higher skilled readers are Ender’s Game and Dune.

Some of my favorite easy-read fantasy books are Fablehaven (4 books), The Lightning Thief (6 books), The Divide (a trilogy), Gregor the Overlander (5 books), and Nightmare Academy (3 books). Another one of my favorites is adventure with some easy reads such as Ranger’s Apprentice (6 books available in the US and 3 more in Australia). Some spy series that fall under the action genre are the Young Bond series (5 books) and Jimmy Coates (2 books available in the US and 4 more in the UK).

I am an avid reader, I guess the main way I became interested in books is that my mom always managed to find some books that I might like and leave them laying around the house in places where I would see them. I would then pick them up and start reading, and get hooked. Another thing that will help your child start reading is if you buy a comfy chair, and put it under a good reading lamp, you may also want to put a small table near it that you put some of the good books on. If this still doesn’t work, try making video game and computer time limited.  If you want to get your child into one of the series above I would suggest ones with a good amount of books in them-the only thing I hate about a series is when it ends.

I have also been able to use an Amazon Kindle, which proved to be a seemingly good way to read books, unless you cherish that used book smell. The Amazon Kindle is a device that you buy books online, and download them onto. You can then read them. It saves you storage space, and is much more portable than books. I have also found that you can read the newspaper on the Kindle.

There will be a point in your child’s life (it may have already passed) that it is no longer ‘cool’ to have playdates. The new term is ‘hanging out’. Your child will probably want you to change your terminology, but may not want to bring it up, so it’s up to you to change. Since your tween may not want to bring it up, you need to figure out when they start to ‘hang out’. You can do this by listening to what they are saying from another room, don’t eavesdrop, just be in a nearby room listening to what your tween is saying. Eventually, you will start hearing your tween use the new terminology. That means it is time to switch.

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