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Today I found a small yellow piece of plastic underneath the radiator in the younger boys’ room. It was perfectly round, except for one thin spoke that stuck out from the middle.

That little black leg lent it a sort of importance, and so turning the miniscule glob of plastic around, I tried, with my spatially inept eyes, to figure out exactly what vital piece of equipment it belonged to.

Although I couldn’t for the life of me perceive what its purpose was, I was reluctant to throw it away. I had already had the unfortunate experience of throwing away bits of plastic or metal that looked inconsequential, but were -alas- very important to the functioning of some very expensive (or beloved) mechanical contraption.

So for a while I held onto it, and slowly it made its way throughout the various hidey-holes in our house. You know what those are: the places where you stick the stuff you know you should put away or throw away, but lacking the gumption, just pack it out of sight.

Eventually I came upon it again a month or so later in the bathroom. In a fit of pique (sometimes it’s a good idea to clean house when you’re in a bad mood; everything looks worth throwing away) I threw it into the small plastic bin next to the toilet. I picked up the nylon sack, and headed to the kitchen to throw it away.

I have to say I was pretty proud of myself, pack rat that I am.
As I left the room, I bumped into my 12 year old.

Technically I guess twelve qualifies as pre-teen, but I think his behavior justifies the full appellation of “teen,” with all of its attendant qualities. In other words, he can sometimes be wonderful, but other times, he can argue me out of house and home with the aplomb of a senior statesman.

You know how it is when your kids have this really annoying thing they do that drives you absolutely senseless? Usually there isn’t any logical reason why; it’s often something others would (and do) find perfectly innocuous.

Well, I had just noticed that little thing, and being already on the edge, was ready to blow my stack. Suddenly, I stopped, and looked at the bag in my end with the little plastic piece in it.

I had just thrown away the yellow thingamabob, after having let if float around the house for the last month or so. I had done so because it had no useful place in our house. It served no purpose other than to take up valuable real estate in an otherwise full house of 9.

So why did I persist in holding on to my grudge against that little behavior? Holding on to that bit of righteousness that shouted, “You can’t let him get away with it,” which serves absolutely no worthwhile purpose. Worse, it took up valuable real estate in my heart, interfering with a relationship that didn’t need any more strife.

There and then, I decided to just let it be. As I headed to the garbage,
I mentally pictured myself throwing away that bit if prejudice that I held onto, hopefully not to be seen again.

Here are 3 tips you can use to do the same with those little pockets of irrationality all good parents possess:

1) Look at the big picture.

Step back and try and see where the behavior fits in the scheme of things. If you’ve taken the time to evaluate what your goals for yourself and your family are, things will be a little easier. If not, ask yourself, will this stop him from being a decent human being, and a successful member of society?

If this answer is no, then you have your answer. You should probably just let it go.

2) Consider where your child is holding developmentally.
Often parents get hung up about something that will naturally pass with time. Trying to force it to go before it’s time not only doesn’t work, but can sometimes makes things worse.

If you’re not sure whether this is something normal for kids of your child’s age, ask around. You might be surprised (and relieved) to find out that other kids have been there, and done that, too, and grown up to be otherwise respectable people.

3) Give it a rest anyway.

Sometimes there are behaviors that might warrant concern. However, if the behavior is not harmful to anyone, consider leaving it be for a while.

That means not making a big deal about it, and showing your child that you couldn’t really care about it one way or the other. I know, it can be hard sometimes, but I’m sure you’ve got other stuff to worry about.

You might have to do some inner work on this one, but sometimes letting it go-really letting it go- allows your child the safety to do the same. One day, you might turn around, and realize that they’ve given it up on their own.

Originally posted 2011-03-13 11:44:30.

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Is your child struggling to make himself understood?

If your child has an expressive language disorder, you know how frustrating it can be. I know there were times when one of my children was desperate to tell me about something important in school, but just wasn’t able to get his point across clearly.

He felt badly because he really wanted my advice about what to do, and I felt badly because I wanted to help him but didn’t have enough info to help him.

Most of the exercises for helping your child speak better are artificial and just not fun.

If you’ve ever had to sit through the typical exercises given for helping your child’s expressive language skills, you know they can get pretty boring.

Often you have to ask your child to state the correct word (fill in the blank), answer questions, or something other school like activity. And after a whole day of school, which was probably not the easiest experience for your child to begin with.

Let’s just say that most parents and kids lose their enthusiasm real quick.

On top of everything, those exercises feel artificial. Real life is more spontaneous, and full of more social interaction than a fill in the blank. You just can’t imagine  how it’ll all transfer over to real-life.

Creating a game guide of his favorite video game will help your child speak better.

Talk to your child about his favorite video game, on the other hand, and watch instantly as his eyes light up, his voice becomes more animated – he’s psyched and ready to go on for days.

They’re a subject he has extensive experience with (so he’s an expert- a great ego boost), and is enthusiastic about. Plus he gets to create a useful product for others to learn from: that makes him a winner, “cool.”

At the same time, your child will be polishing his sequencing skills, improving his sentence structure, learning how to paraphrase, as well as a host of other skills. Ready to dive in?

How to Play:

1) Explain to your child that they are going to create a game guide for other kids on how to play their favorite video game. Younger children might choose to make a basic guide, while older children and teenagers can choose to make a walkthrough, or an “expert” or guru guide.

2) Let your child decide what format her presentation will be in. She can choose to make a video, a podcast, or a PowerPoint presentation. If she chooses to make a video, she can use a screen capture program such as Camtasia to record what is seen on the computer screen.

If your child chooses to make a podcast or other audio recording, there are many free programs she can use to audit their recording. Audacity is one such program that is both free and of high quality.

PowerPoint presentations can include screenshots (use the “print screen” button on your keyboard and crop out the unnecessary stuff), but you can also add music (try Musicloops for free music) to spice things up.

3) Help your child sketch out a basic outline for their presentation. Explain to them that in order to be effective, it minimally needs to include the following elements:

  • Goal of the game
  • Basic explanation of what you need to do on each level
  • Tips and hints

Have your child first create each section individually as a rough draft; they can put the parts together later.

4) Next, have your child turn on the video game. They will create material as they play, so they will have a better idea of what they need to write. If they can’t pause the game after each level, then let them play the game once through and then write material for each section immediately afterwards.

Younger children might need you to help them: ask them questions about the game, and write down their answers (if they have difficulty writing) or give them time to write the answers on their own.

5) Help your child revise and edit each section. Don’t worry about spelling or punctuation; let spell check do that for your child. You are more concerned with your child’s ability to give over information in a clear, fairly concise manner.

That means your child should make sure that someone who is a complete newbie to the game should be able to understand their guide. Encourage them to show it to a family member or a friend (if they’re feeling brave) who is not familiar with the game, explaining that this is what everyone who creates a how-to guide does before they publish their work.

6) Create the final product. If your child is making a PPT presentation, she can write everything out on slides, taking screenshots when necessary. She should first write it out, taking the screenshots afterwards; she might need your help with this, as it requires quick hands and some pasting and cropping.

If your child is creating a video, he now has a good idea of a script. He needn’t memorize it; since he’s written it and he’s of course familiar with the game, it merely acts as a prompt for him to ensure he’s said everything he should say.

7)  Share it with the world. The best part of creating this guide is sharing it with other game fans. Your child can post it on gamer sites, or he can upload it to the following free sites:

  • Video: Your child can upload to just YouTube, or he can use TubeMogul or Traffic Geyser to upload the video to multiple sites.
    • PowerPoint Presentation: Your child can submit their PPT to these sites for free:   Slideshare, Slideboom, Authorstream, and Slideburner. You can also easily turn their PPT into a PDF using PrimoPDF, which is free. You can then submit the PDF version to these sites: Calameo, Butterfly, Yudu , Esnips, and Scribd.
  • Podcast or audio presentation: Submit to these sites for free:, iTunes, dayo, and podcastalley.
  • Written report: Since your child’s report will be very similar to a step-by-step tutorial, your child can submit it to these sites for free:,,, and

Whichever site your child chooses to submit their guide, they can use Pingler and SocialMarker to submit the URL of their product to dozens of social bookmarking sites. Both are free and will help their guide get noticed, hopefully sending traffic from other like-minded gamers.

Most importantly, your child will be on their way to improving their expressive language skills, all in a fun and novel way.

If you liked this post, why not like it on Facebook? Better yet, why not tell me what you think in the comments below?

Originally posted 2011-04-18 16:39:07.

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