To Push or Not To Push

Dear Dr. Bill,

Our 7-year-old son approaches many situations in life with “caution.”  For example, he doesn’t like going fast on motorboats so we start slowly until he’s used to it.  He doesn’t like high and fast roller-coasters, but he’s okay with smaller ones.  But my husband and I disagree on how to handle such things — Dad believes he should be pushed harder, but I want our son to feel free to take his time and not feel like he’s not “tough” enough.    What do you think?


Dear Cindi,

It’s important to take into the account unique personality differences of each child.  Some kids are simply biologically wired to be more cautious, and birth order can affect their temperament as well.

It’s also important to consider a child’s age and level of development.  The fact is that there are a lot of 7-year-olds who would not enjoy traveling in a speed boat at break-neck speed or riding on a gigantic, “death-drop” roller coaster.

Here’s the key: God designed men and women to parent differently, and kids need the balance that comes from having parents of both genders.   These differences should complement and complete each other, so it’s critical to value the contributions that your spouse makes to the parenting process.

I’d encourage you not to overprotect your son—he needs to bond with his dad and develop masculine interests.  Express confidence in him, affirm him, and let him know that you believe he can overcome his fears.

At the same time, your husband needs to be careful not to “push” your son into activities he isn’t comfortable with.  The worst possible thing he can do is to shame or embarrass him—this will have a permanent impact on his self-concept and his confidence level.

As parents, give your son the time and space he needs to develop into the person God created him to be.

Thanks for writing, Cindi.  If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Family Expert page.

Click here for the audio version of this article.

20 Homemade Valentine Ideas

There’s something magical about a kitchen table covered in glitter, glue, and hearts made from paper doilies. The valentines of the store-bought variety have become so commercial. They’re more about characters, and less about extending a gift of friendship. This year, why not spend an afternoon crafting and creating with your kids, making truly unique and special valentines for their friends at school?! Have fun making valentines as you make MEMORIES with your kids! Here are 20 ideas to get you started.

Listening All Night Long!

Dear Dr. Bill,

Our 13-year-old son listens to his radio all night long.  My husband and I disagree about whether this is healthy or not — I wonder if our son is getting enough rest and if his brain doesn’t need a break!  Is this healthy?



Dear Karen,

When you say your son listens to his radio “all night long,” are you speaking literally or figuratively?  If he listens to his radio at bedtime and then falls asleep, I wouldn’t be overly concerned.  On the other hand, if he truly does listen “all night long,” you’re right—it’s not healthy and his brain does need a rest.

Young teens should be getting at least 8-9 hours of sleep per night.  Most don’t, and insufficient sleep can interfere with memory and learning, cause mood problems–even contribute to obesity!  You and your husband need to get on the same page and start setting some firm limits on the amount of time your son listens to music each day, and what time the radio goes off in the evening.

In addition to the sleep issue, if your son spends all of his free time after school and in the evening listening to music, his life is out of balance. He needs to be getting exercise, spending time outdoors, reading, developing meaningful friendships, and engaging in church and social activities.

Just as important as the amount of time he spends listening is the kind of music he’s listening to.   Much of today’s popular music features lyrics that are highly sexualized or that advocate violence.  Some groups are known for songs that emphasize dark, hopeless themes—even to the point of advocating suicide.

By the way, Focus on the Family’s Plugged In website and offers parents reviews of the latest music, helping them to make wise choices about the groups and lyrics they allow their children to listen to.

Thanks for writing Karen.  If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Family Expert page.

Click here for the audio version of this article.

“Walk-It-Out Wednesday” – What Do You Do When Your Kids Are Home Sick From School?

It’s Garrett from Shine Afternoons and today is another “Walk-It-Out Wednesday!”  My three oldest kiddos were all home sick yesterday….yup….it’s that time of the year. My wife was SO glad when I got home last night as she was “nurse mom” to all of them. What do you do when your kids are home sick and everyone’s schedule changes…….how do you handle it and “walk-it-out?”

12 Effective Ways To Boost Your Kid’s Self-Esteem

Self-confidence is important for all children. It’s the foundation upon which they base their self-worth and decisions that will one day impact everything they do. In today’s Home School find out ways to boost their self-esteem.

Does Your Teenager Seem Depressed?

Does your teenager seem depressed?  If so, listen up.

According to a new national study, 1 in 25 U.S. teens has attempted suicide, and 1 in eight has thought about it. reports on the study, which was conducted by Harvard University.

The results are based on in-person interviews of 6,500 teenagers in the U.S., as well as questionnaires filled out by their parents.

In addition to asking the young people about their suicidal thoughts or attempts, interviewers also determined which teens fit the bill for a range of mental disorders.

Just over 12 percent of the youth had thought about suicide, and 8 percent had made a suicide plan or actually attempted suicide.

The researchers found that almost all teens who thought about or attempted suicide had a diagnosable mental disorder, including depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD, or problems with drug or alcohol abuse.

Dr. Matthew Nock, the psychologist who led the study, says doctors need to get better at figuring out which kids are most at risk of putting themselves in danger.

Once those youth are identified, researchers will also have to determine the best way to treat them.

If your teen seems depressed, reports feelings of hopelessness, talks about death, or starts giving away prized possessions, consult a mental health professional immediately.

For more information on teen depression and suicide, visit the American Psychological Association‘s website.

I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.

Click here for the audio version of this article.

Do You Make Your Kids Write Thank-You Notes?

Hey it’s Garrett from Shine Afternoons and over the weekend we were FINALLY finishing up thank-you notes with our kiddos for gifts they received over Christmas.  It wasn’t easy, and my 10-year old Kathryn thought grandma would be fine with a text.  Do you encourage your kids to write thank-you notes for gifts they receive, is an email good enough?  I’d love to hear what you do in your home.

He’s Generally A Good Kid

Dear Dr. Bill,

We recently received two calls from our 11-year-old son’s teacher.  The first time, she told us he wouldn’t stop tapping the desk with his pencil, pretending that he’s playing the drums.  The 2nd time, he kicked another boy’s pencil out into the hallway.

Our son is generally a good kid, so we’re mystified by this behavior.  What do you suggest we do?


Dear Lisa,

You mention that your son is “generally a good kid.”  Are you saying that this is the first time he’s displayed this type of behavior in school?  If so, then it’s likely that there is something going on in his life that is prompting his acting out in the classroom.

Have there been any significant changes or stresses in his life in recent months?  For example, has your son suffered some kind of loss or have you and your husband been experiencing marital conflict?

Unexpressed feelings of sadness or anger could explain why a previously well-behaved child would suddenly begin to exhibit behavior such as you mention.  It’s also possible that his behavior is a cry for attention, perhaps because he’s not receiving enough of your time or attention at home.

On the other hand, if your son has been in trouble at school before, and this is simply a continuation of a previous pattern, then you’ve got much bigger fish to fry.

The best strategy moving forward is to provide your son with a healthy balance of love and limits. Partner with your son’s teacher to set up a system of rewards and punishments.  That way he’ll know there will be unpleasant consequences at home when he misbehaves in the classroom.

Thanks for writing, Lisa.  If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Family Expert page.

Click here for the audio version of this article.

Remember Mom & Dad….they are watching!

“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6 A great reminder this afternoon. ~ Garrett

The Center Of Attention

Dear Dr. Bill,

My husband and I have a darling little girl who has the classic chubby cheeks, Shirley Temple curls, and a wonderful sweet personality to match.  Ever since she was a baby, everyone in the family — grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc., have loved to dote on her.  But now that she’s 4-years-old, I’m wondering if she’ll ever grow out of this “cute baby” phase.  She loves being the center of attention and will “perform” on cue if given the opportunity.  Is this normal, healthy behavior?  What, if anything, should we be doing differently?


Dear Erica,

Given what you’ve told me, it’s no wonder your daughter will “perform on cue” for her relatives.  After all, she’s been receiving positive reinforcement for her performances since she was a toddler.

The danger is that she’ll grow up to believe that her value is based on her looks and her performance, not on her character.  The bible tells us that “man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  What matters to Him are a humble heart and a life that displays the “Fruit of the Spirit”—qualities such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

The good news is that you mention your daughter has a wonderful sweet personality, so it doesn’t sound like the attention she’s received has caused her to be overly spoiled

I’d suggest you work at praising her when she displays positive character traits, like kindness, honesty, and compassion for others.  Look for “teachable moments” to talk about why these characteristics are the things that God truly values.

In addition, look for opportunities to teach her how to serve others, whether that’s helping to care for a neighbor’s pet when they’re on vacation, or donating some of her toys to a local homeless shelter.

Thanks for writing Erica.  If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Family Expert page.

Click here for the audio version of this article.