Venturing online @Safely

standard December 8, 2011 Leave a response

When I was a kid we lived in a tall house in London. Each floor had one phone; the one on the kids’ floor happened to be a good ol’ corded model firmly attached to the wall in the hallway with a not so long cord. I wasn’t old enough to be on the phone 24/7, but the calls I did get had to be taken sitting on the stairs in the very middle of the house.

Privacy wasn’t exactly at an optimum.

Back then I found it irritating that my sisters could hear every embarrassing word of my truly un-embarrassing call to my friends. Today I just wish that we could rig a similar system for when my kids get old enough to receive calls.
It’s not that I want to spy on them; it’s just that I want them to know that I could potentially overhear stuff. It’s a checks and balances kind of system. If mommy could potentially hear something you don’t want her to hear, it’s easy, just don’t say it.

Sadly (for me, not for them) my girls will be pre-teens and teens in the Internet and cell phone age. They’ll be able to communicate with their friends through text, tweet, Facebook, and whatever other system is invented and implemented in the next 10 years.

Let me be clear, I trust my kids, I trust that I’m teaching them to make smart choices, I trust that I’m teaching them to communicate openly with me, I trust that this won’t change radically over the coming years. That said, I also know that it’s good for kids to have an “out.”

“I can’t say stuff like that, my mom might be listening.”

“I can’t do that, my mom might find out.”

And frankly, it doesn’t hurt to have a system set up that allows for conversation starters.

My kids are far from being old enough to be allowed on Facebook, but I already worry about the day they will get their account. I know they’re trustworthy, but the same way I worry about the day they’ll drive because of the other drivers, I worry about them being online because of the other Internet users.

So, just like I’ll be teaching them to drive, first by example, then by being there with them, and finally by letting them venture out for short trips to grow their confidence and allow them to gain experience, I’m going to hold their hand as they enter the world of social media.

To test it out, I signed up for the Safely Social Monitor, a service that is part of a new suite of mobile, social and location-based family safety technologies from Safely that increases parents’ awareness, and helps them guide their kids through each stage of growth.

Guess most of my friends are women about my age! Reassuring really!

This brand new service scours your loved one’s Facebook profile and rates the activity, the friends, the photos, and anything else a parent might want to know. It offers a great tool that you can use to help your child better understand the ramifications of their online activity.

Look! 95% Good! Someone tell Sa

And if, like me, all this kids online stuff sends you into a panic, Safely has created the Safely Spotlight, a free digital parenting guide with tips and advice. The Spotlight is available on Safely’s Facebook page, where you should be active so you can start by modeling smart online behavior for your child!

Please note, while I was compensated for this post about Safely’s Social Monitoring service, the thoughts and opinions contained here are mine and mine alone. Since C and Little L are way too young to use Facebook yet, I ran the system against my own account. The screenshots you see above are of the Safely report on my account.

Goals, Charts, and Hopes

standard May 12, 2011 1 response

When Little L was little she was adorable and cute and tough. There was one place the kid was ever happy. One. On me. When she was separated she’d wail until I came back into her line of sight and then just whimper until I took her into my arms.

We said “it’s a phase! She’ll mellow out!”

And four years later we’ve finally accepted that our beautiful girl is just tough.

She doesn’t listen. She dances to the beat of her own drum. She’s willful. She’s mischievous. She’s adorable and when she smiles and bats her eyelashes she gets away with murder.

The hardest part of it all is that she means well. She really truly does, but she’s just off in her own world. So “talks” and “conversations” and all other sorts of communication goes in one ear and bounces right back out.

And then she smiles and says something funny or cute and we instantly forgive her for losing her shoes one more time, for not putting on her pajamas because she found a tiny toy that instantly needed attention, for not eating because a leaf caught her eye outside the window.

The only challenges that we have trouble turning a blind eye on are the night time hassles.

It’s no secret that Little L isn’t the best sleeper in the world. Her nights (and mine!) are often interrupted and bedtime is rarely a breeze. She’ll pop up out of bed for a million reasons, often only falling asleep after one of us breaks down and yells.

And really? I hate the yelling. I hate that she falls asleep with tear tracks on her face. I hate that that’s how she was ending her days.

So I took matters into consideration. Took my daughter into consideration. Remembered that she and I are cut from an identical cloth and asked myself what would have motivated me at her age.

I bribed her with chocolate.

Oh, yes I did.

One chocolate treat if she went to bed without getting up and didn’t wake up mommy and daddy during the night. My only regret is that I didn’t think of it sooner.

And then one morning (after rereading the chapter on rewarding the process rather than the result in Raising Happiness) I praised Little L for working hard to stay in bed while her sister did her own jack-in-the-box routine.

She writhed with pride. Literally writhed. And I realized that, just like for the rest of us, recognition for efforts is worth even more to her than chocolate.

Since that day we’ve had few bad bedtimes and she’s gone to bed with kisses on her cheeks rather than tears. My nights have been more restful and our mornings less crabby. Most of all it’s been amazing to see how she puffs up with pride when we notice her achievements.

To give her a concrete visual and keep the progress moving in the right direction, I took advantage of the behavior charts offered by Goalforit.com to set something up that would give her a good snapshot of her week.

This morning we sat down and went over all the goals outlined in the chart and I had her tell me if she had earned a reward for each.

My little girl, the one who always seems to have her head in the clouds and to have no idea about what’s going on around her, the one who doesn’t seem to remember anything three seconds after it happened, took complete ownership of her actions. She’s the one who said she hadn’t been good about not waking mommy up. Without my prompting.

I could have wept. But instead I hugged her and told her how proud I was that she was working so hard.

And the best part of it all? For the rest of the morning I didn’t have to repeat anything I asked her. In her mind she was already working towards picking her reward icon for good listening.

This post was sponsored by Goalforit.com and BSM Media. As always the thoughts and stories are all mine. I’m really impressed with the site and have even set up my own goals chart! And yes, I do feel all puffed up with pride too when it tells me that I had a perfect day. Go figure. Even I think it tastes better than chocolate.

Even Dinosaurs Poop

standard April 1, 2011 3 responses

We have a  rotation of favorite shows that we watch in the morning while I brush the girls’ hair. Sometimes we watch Curious George, but most often we alternate between Word World and Dinosaur Train.

The cat and I prefer Word World (I think he’s trying to learn to read so he can take over the running of the house, or at the very least the cat food purchasing.) the girls are very partial to Dinosaur Train.

Especially one episode.

This past week we have watched that one same episode every single morning. It’s not impossible we did the same last week too.

The topic of that one episode?

Could have been something intellectual, like how dinosaurs evolved into birds, or the life and times of therapods.

But noooooooo, that would be too easy.

The episode we keep watching over and over and over again?

It’s the one about how all dinosaurs poop.

Yes. Poop. All sorts of poop. All dinosaurs eat so all dinosaurs poop. Some even do the potty dance.

Little L is mesmerized.

She’s been potty trained for a few months now, but something about the way the mommy dinosaur (Mrs Pteranodon if you must know.) tells her daughter to listen to her body has really struck a chord.

Last week Little L had a smattering of potty accidents. Once she was too busy playing to go pee, the next day she was just too caught up watching a TV show.

And then we saw the magic episode for the first time.

Since that day there have been no accidents and I haven’t had to beg her to go pee.

So, to recap, everybody eats and everybody poops, it’s important to listen to your body, and PBS rocks my world. The end.

Kissing, licking, and nibbling our way to tasting new foods

standard November 19, 2009 1 response

“RabiOly! RabiOly!”

The chant from the back seat made me smile. My two girls demanding something they’d never had before, that was a first for sure. But hey, I’m not one to be begged. And there wasn’t really much else for dinner at home. So we’d try the mini-raviolis from Trader Joes. Noodles are noodles after all.

I wasn’t too worried about C. This morning she gave me a whole shpiel about how it was bizarre that her friends at school kept saying they didn’t like something without even trying it. I know that tomorrow she’ll be back to turning up her nose at anything that doesn’t look exactly like one of the foods on her “approved list,” but today I had a feeling she’d still be on her “I try anything kick.”

Little L was another issue.

She’ll get caught up in her sister’s excitement over something without really taking the consequences into account. Playing ‘bed time,’ running through the cold sprinklers naked, and yes, trying raviolis for the first time.

That is, until I actually place the raviolis in front of her.

“I no liiiiike that! I don’t want it!” Look of sheer disgust on her face, warning signs of a massive tantrum in her face. It had all the makings of a disastrous dinner hour.

I resisted the urge to demand that she eat, knowing full well that it would backfire. Instead I sat down at the table with a fun catalog filled with bright holiday decorations and toys to try to distract her.

I had a faint hope that I’d be able to sneak in a bite here or there, something which always worked with C at her age. But Little L is savvy to her mother’s tricks. So I had to pull my other ace out of my sleeve. Usually it’s what I lead with, but I was a bit off my game tonight. Lack of sleep does that to me.

“Hey? Goose? This teeny tiny ravioli is just a baby and he’s a bit sad. Can you give him a kiss? Just a little kiss, not a big one!” She looked at me out of the corner of her eye, but my impeccable acting skills swayed her and she leaned in a bit. When she hesitated I egged her on until her pouty lips connected with the tiny ravioli and gave it a tiny kiss. 

It’s all about making that first contact. Once her lips have touched the offending food, it only takes a tiny nudge to get her to lick it. And once she’s licked it it’s just another tiny step to taking a nibble or a real bite. And usually once one bite has been taken, we’re golden.

I’ve seen people throw me odd looks in restaurants when I beg my baby to kiss her food. To be sure, it’s an odd request. But what do I care? My kid is trying new foods and sometimes she even likes it, as the “Mmmmms” that followed the first nibble all the way to the emptying of her bowl tonight can attest.

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Need a little humor today? Over at the Tiny Prints blog we’re poking fun at the silly things parents say that truly shows the world that they’re parents. “You know you’re a parent when…” I’d love to know what it was you said!