Fess Up! Do You Have Bad Manners?

Bad manners are wearing us down!

A day doesn’t go by that I don’t overhear some exhausted patron or clerk, grandmother, teacher, CEO, television judge, or tennis coach exasperated by the seeming lack of manners witnessed daily. If I had a dollar for the number of times I have heard, “It is just unbelievable how rude people have become today!” I’d be loaded.

 I am not just being hypersensitive to people’s complaints because I happen to be an etiquette trainer. Quite the contrary, if I internalized all of the manners complaints that I receive via email in my role as an etiquette expert,  I probably would change careers… yesterday.  Lately, I have just noticed that the general populace believes that bad manners might be winning the war against civility.

The amusing contradiction of course is that everyone is complaining about other people’s manners but nobody seems quite aware of, or willing to, fess up to their own manners gaffs. I include myself in this group, and to drive home this point with an example, I will crassly throw my own husband under the bus. Just this past weekend, I watched my spouse repeatedly check his email from his phone while on the field coaching our son’s flag football team. I was probably doing something equally as heinous and coarse on the sidelines as I cheekily admonished his bad manners, but darned if I know what it was…

Well, I blame…

The internet, reality television, the government, texting, the football coach, and Facebook, rank high among some of today’s most favorite anti-manners villains. Were it not for outside forces “making” us behave impolitely, our manners would not be slipping. Or would they? Do outside influences have an impact on societal behavior?

Am I a victim of external sway? Have I no choice regarding my own conduct? Do the many pressures of society demand that I drop the practice of etiquette and become boorish and uncouth?

Of course not, I am completely responsible for my own actions. Yes, it is true that technology has introduced a new set of manners complexities to society, however, I have a responsibility to choose to be undaunted by today’s challenges and continue to follow basic manners principles, even online when shrouded by the curtain of internet “anonymity”. 

When we choose to act impolitely we can’t in the next breathe turn around and blame everyone else for our churlish society.  It stands to reason that if our complaint is that manners rules are slipping, collectively we are allowing our manners to slip.

If we are unable or unwilling to see our own ill-mannered behavior, and we blame everyone else for our bad-mannered society, how is it possible to turn the ship around? Why not just throw up our hands in defeat and exclaim, “Manners? I haven’t time for manners; now step aside while I notify my considerable Facebook network that I don’t much care for Mondays.”

Without manners, day to day life would be bedlam. It would be impossible to leave our homes to purchase milk if our neighbor could shoot us for our newspaper or paint our house blue to match his peonies. So as beleaguered as we all are by the stresses of life in the twenty first century, we have no choice but to practice excellent manners, model good manners and teach children etiquette. If we let manners go by the wayside it won’t take long before we live in chaos. It is inherently obvious that if just one generation is not taught how to behave politely, then good manners will quickly disappear. Who will teach etiquette to children if we don’t teach etiquette to children?

We are shocked, saddened, exhausted and a little grossed out by (as the title of the brilliant Lynne Truss’ excellent manners book says), “The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today.” But that doesn’t mean we throw in the towel, drop into an easy chair, wave a white hanky in the air, and give up on manners. If we give up, the “etiquette(ly) challenged” win.

I refuse to live in a world without manners, don’t you? Be selfish; use good manners, model good manners, and teach children etiquette so that you (and I) get to live in a more gracious society.

Now is the time to recommit to a more civilized culture. Let’s declare a war on bad manners by taking note of and improving our own etiquette. Think about all we would gain if we brought back civility, respect, and integrity. A poised, five year old little boy said it best when he quipped, “Use good manners so you don’t make everyone sick and get in trouble.” Indeed.

You Have the Power to Destroy a Child’s Future

Recently while at the post office, I bumped into a lovely stay-at-home mom I know. Aware of the success I have had as a mompreneur, she asked if I would mind giving her some career advice. After having been out of the workforce for the past 7 years, she was interested in contributing a few extra dollars per month to the household while perhaps also receiving a little mental stimulation. She had a few employment ideas, working part-time at a retail store in the mall or ringing up groceries, but was far from enthused about leaving her kids in the evening to make minimum wage. She also did not want to sell candles or cosmetics as a representative for one of the multi-level marketing companies.

“How did you do it? You have two kids and another on the way and you have created a great business.” she asked me. I responded to her the same way that I respond to the many people who ask, “Simple, I identified what I loved to do, I took a leap of faith and worked hard to put my passion to work in the real world.”

“Oh, I could never do that,” she said. She proceeded to list the many reasons why it would be impossible for her to tackle any sort of exciting venture that might charge her up and make her some money. With her endless list of road blocks she had literally paralyzed herself and drastically limited her options. Our short conversation left me a little depressed when it should have left me feeling excited for her exciting future. I knew that there was nothing that I could say to her to get her over the hurdles she had thrown up in front of herself.

Road blocks are the excuses people have for why they will “never be able to do it.” The fascinating thing about road blocks is they are usually very small, surmountable blips that effective people can solve before lunch. “Yeah, but, I will need liability insurance…”, “Yeah, but, I will have to get a business license…”, “Yeah, but, I will have to call people on the phone…”, “yeah, but I will have to find space to work…”, “Yeah, but, I need my sleep and can’t get up before the kids to do my work…”

Often people’s road block lists are extensive, seem never ending, and are a residual of limiting beliefs created during childhood. A limiting belief is a mental acceptance that a negative thought about oneself is true. “I am very shy so I could never speak in public.” “My brother is the smart one and I am the athlete so I could never finish that degree program.” “My father told me I would probably only be good at being a wife, so even though my idea to become an arts and crafts trainer is a good one, I better not try to start a business.” Limiting beliefs are powerful and feel very real to the person, but to the onlooker can sound like nonsense.

Limiting beliefs are not the same thing as honest self assessments, as in the following examples: “Becoming a professional tennis player is out of the question because I am 40 and have never picked up a racket;” “I am really great at running the daily operations of a company, but my abrasive personality wouldn’t be a good fit for the sales department;” and, “I worked very hard at physics in college, I even hired a private tutor, and I just do not have the mental aptitude to become a physicist.”

Parents, teachers, coaches, tutors, and trainers have a responsibility to avoid instilling limiting beliefs in children. Everyone can name at least one adult who said something so hurtful to us that we have shied away from the “offensive behavior” ever since. Having no crystal ball to see the future there is no way it is possible to know what a child is capable of achieving. Most negative assessments about a child’s abilities are at the very best premature and at the worst ridiculous, unfounded, callous, and harmful. What good does it do the child for an adult to look at his arts and crafts project and say, “Well, you probably should stop right there because you are just making a mess…too bad, but I just don’t see creativity in your future.” Or, “Manners lessons are wasted on you; you had better get used to paying high dry cleaning bills because your shirts will always be soiled.”

It is powerful to have a long-lasting and positive effect on a child. As adults we never know when a child will be touched by our words, so we should be conscious at all times of what we say and how we say it. The last thing that any well meaning, warm adult would ever want is to help introduce a limiting belief that stays with an impressionable child for life and keeps her from achieving her dreams and aspirations. Our words and actions can be the difference between someone who heads out into the world and makes things happen, and someone who sits inside too paralyzed to make a move.

Visit http://www.artsandcraftsmoms.com and become a certified arts and crafts trainer who helps build up children’s self esteem and never instills limiting beliefs in the students.

Follow Your Passion and Live the Life You Love

If we take a good, hard look at ourselves, it is clear that we all have a strong passion for something. Innovative go-getters identify that passion, take hold of it, and run towards a bright and exciting future. Martha Stewart created an art form out of daily living, and built a multi-billion dollar empire around her flair for home economics. The late, great Julia Child mastered the fine art of French cooking and became a household name and culinary heroine. Debbie Fields took her childhood love of baking chocolate chip cookies and created a sensationally successful Fortune 500 company. Sadly, many people fail to follow their passion, and get stuck in the same dead end job for years and years.

Years in a dead end job take their toll. Boredom, depression, illness, loss of direction and drive are a few of the symptoms resultant in not following one’s passion. Goals that were once set for exciting and satisfied lives tend to go by the wayside when people fail to take the leap into a career that electrifies. Monday mornings feel like torture and the week ahead stretches on interminably.

How frustrating it must be for the “closet entrepreneur” to follow someone else’s lead when she wishes she were making all of the decisions. It is not uncommon for the average person to stay in a career rut because of risk aversion and fear of taking a leap into the unknown. Concerns about health insurance, a steady paycheck, and even failure, can paralyze some individuals and keep them tethered to a job that they hate. Although rational, these fears are not worth throwing away happiness, personal growth and development, and career fulfillment.

7 Tips to escape your dead end job and follow your passion!

1. Identify your passion.
What is it that you love to do? Are you passionate about teaching or training children?  Do you spend all of your off hours doing a hobby like arts and crafts? Do you want to make a change in the world like training kids to use good manners and teaching etiquette or teaching women to be financially secure? What business idea would make you jump out of bed in the morning before the alarm rings?

2. Discover a business that incorporates your passion.
If arts and crafts, for example, ends up being the passion you wish to pursue, what kind of a business could you set up? Could you be a wonderful arts and crafts trainer who could start a small business teaching students in local schools, community centers or retirement homes? Do you create beautiful crafts that would sell in local gift shops or online? Would you enjoy teaching evening classes for an adult education program?

3. Interview experts doing what you love.
It is really inspiring to speak with people who have made a career out of your same passion. They have taken the risk that you wish to take and made a success of it. What did they do to create a career that they love? What hurdles did they have to overcome? How hard did they have to work? Did their businesses fall into their laps or did it take some effort to make that dream come true? Was the effort worth it?

4. Work nights and weekends developing and growing your business before quitting your job.
Although it would be a dream to walk into your boss’ office and quit on the spot, this is usually not a good idea. Use your spare time to prepare for the jump. If you need training, study evenings and weekends. Write your business plan, your marketing plan and advertising strategy and begin networking after work or on weekends. For example, if you feel passionate about teaching etiquette to children, schedule weekend classes, build your clientele and get your name out there. It will take a little hard work to jump into your new life but it will be worth it.

5. Find a mentor or supporter.
Who do you know that can give you the business support that you need as you start your own business? Someone to bounce ideas off helps to keep up momentum and buoy spirits. It is great to find a knowledgeable entrepreneur willing to look over your proposed business plan and budgets and who understands firsthand what it is like to follow one’s passion. There will be plenty of not so ambitious people who will cast doubt on your decision to start your own endeavor. Your mentor should be someone who believes in you and can give you the support that you need to conquer your fears and go for your dream.

6. Save up an emergency fund of cash.
Scrimp and save while still in your dead end job. Pay off outstanding bills and put every drop of extra cash into a savings account. You will want to be as financially at ease as possible when starting your own business. When you do start your business, guerilla market! Spend as little money as possible to make your dream a reality.

7. Take action!
What action step can you take today to make your dream a reality? Starting a business can seem insurmountable if looking at all of the steps needed to become a success. Entrepreneurs chip away one task at a time, like becoming certified to do something, thinking up a business name, or writing copy for an advertisement. Once you get the momentum going it will become easier and easier to proceed toward your goal!

Failing to discover your true passion and ending up in a career rut is depressing and can lead to a very unhappy and unfulfilled life. Nobody wants to get up day after day and go to a job that is uninspiring and dull. Identifying what you truly love to do, coming up with an exciting business idea, and taking a leap of faith can lead to a rewarding life filled with hope and promise. If you are the creative type who wishes to take control of your own destiny, follow your passion and live a life that you love!

If you are interested in following your passion and living a life that you love visit http://www.etiquettemoms.com and http://www.artsandcraftsmoms.com Become certified to train children etiquette and arts and crafts. Moms on Edge distance learning “train the trainer” programs are filled with excellent content and ongoing support!

Are You Killing Your Child’s Creativity by Allowing Excessive Texting?

As adults we are very concerned with the psychological well being of Our children. As much as it is a cliché to say it, they certainly do represent the future. Looking back over the past decade, there is no denying that the landscape in which we raise kids has changed drastically. Perhaps things started to change in the 80’s when we first played Atari’s “Pong” and started watching MTV. Those “advances” in technology glued us a little more to our sets. The 80’s of course was just a harbinger of what was to come.  

Today’s kids stare at one screen or another on average of 4+ hours per day and they send an average of 1750 text messages per month with many children pushing the number way above 5,000.  One 13 year old featured in the news was proud (and not admonished by her parents) for sending 14,528 text messages in one month which converts to 484 text messages a day, or one every two minutes of every waking hour.

I recently took my 4 year old to a popular café in my town. We sat at the end of a long table with 8 teenagers at the other end. I was fascinated to observe the teens sitting absolutely silent, the only indication that anyone was sitting within close proximity to us was that the table top was vibrating from their cell phones. Not only were the kids not speaking to one another, they seemed oblivious of one another’s presence.  It was as if each teen were in a cocoon just staring down at a phone and texting.

I have tried to find something positive about their behavior and try as I might I can’t. I even read about a small obscure British survey that claimed that kids who text, read better than those who don’t, but the eighty eight child study failed to give me hope. For these teens the promise and rush of the incoming message far outweighed the value of their face to face interactions.

The time that kids are staring at screens is passive and non-productive time and in the case of the teens described above, ill mannered and detrimental to relationship building.  I am supportive of downtime, television time and computer time; I am also supportive of using the cell phone and text messaging to relay information, but not as a hobby. For proper cognitive development children must stay occupied with activities that grow their brains. A child’s brain is not fully formed until between the ages of 18 and 21.

Instead of sending multitudes of little messages or updating their social networking sites with photos of themselves, children’s time could be better spent doing a variety of activities. Working on critical thinking skills, playing sports, building meaningful face to face relationships, relating to others, and developing creativity and imagination are all behaviors that kids must pursue to become well rounded adults. It is important that they have uninterrupted blocks of time to focus on the task at hand. A cell phone that vibrates every 2 minutes of the day disrupts a child’s focus and never allows her to become fully absorbed in the activity.

Doing arts and crafts is a terrific way for kids to occupy themselves constructively. Arts and crafts projects are wildly popular with people of all ages and stages and can be done alone or in groups. From painting and jewelry making, to cake decorating, there are activities for every personality and skill set.

Arts and crafts challenges kids to plan, tackle, and complete something. Children must learn to focus on the task at hand and pay attention to detail, traits they will need to complete college and be successful in their careers. Arts and crafts aid children in developing whole brain thinking for better cognitive processing. Arts and crafts teach children to use intuition and perception. And arts and crafts help kids acquire knowledge by the use of reasoning.

Arts and crafts train children in patience. In a society where our kids are being bombarded with instant images, messages and information, craft projects train kids to wait. Fortunately crafts projects do not provide instant gratification because kids have to wait for paint and glue to dry, clay to be fired and mediums to setup. Although life comes at kids fast, arts and crafts can teach them that not everything they desire is delivered to them immediately.  Impulsive behavior can be dangerous, costly and self defeating. Learning that some things are worth waiting for is an essential lesson. When kids believe that their needs must be met immediately they risk great disappointment and lives filled with impatience, anxiety, stress and anger.  Arts and crafts are an excellent vehicle for teaching kids to enjoy the wait and anticipate the outcome.

As adults it is important that we assess the impact of the behaviors our children choose. Just because it is cool, hip and everybody is doing it, doesn’t make it healthy. Because children’s brains are not fully formed they are often unable to distinguish between those behaviors that have a negative impact and those that have a positive impact. Activities such as arts and crafts are positive and should be encouraged and embraced.

Moms on Edge has just launched Arts and Crafts Moms a distance learning program that trains and certifies people to teach arts and crafts to children while helping to boost self esteem. To learn more about this exciting opportunity to start a business in the arts visit http://www.artsandcraftsmoms.com

Why Good Manners Matter

“…the principle of civil reciprocity is a solid one, for which reason it is occasion for total, staggering dismay that it appears to be on its way out.” Lynne Truss fumes in her wonderfully, hotheaded bestseller, Talk to the Hand  #?*! The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today, or Six Good Reasons to Stay at Home and Bolt the Door.

 

“Shut up Mom!” hollers a three year old from her perch in the grocery cart. “Is this all there is?” a six year old questions, as he unhappily chooses a lollipop from the reward bag his teacher has just handed him. “I was going to invite my friend Jordan, but he couldn’t make it, so I had to invite you…” laments a 13 year old boy to a classmate, as he chews an enormous bite of a sandwich…with his mouth open…

 

“I don’t want to prepare her for a cotillion, maybe I could just get her to look up at me and stop ‘texting’ for a moment, when I ask her about her day?” says the dad of sixth grade Stephanie.

 

People are mourning the loss of etiquette. The search term that brings the highest number of people to my parenting blog, day after day, year after year is “children’s manners”. Parents want their children to be well mannered and they themselves would like to be treated with dignity and respect…maybe even a little deference.

 

Kids are kids and expected to say outrageous things from time to time. The days of “children should be seen and not heard” are long gone. However, children need to be trained to not only place their napkins in their laps, but to be aware that they are members of a large global society. As the credit card commercial says, “Membership has its privileges”. Membership also has its responsibilities, the biggest responsibility, valuing the other members.

 

If kids aren’t displaying good manners, it is not a big stretch to assume that parents aren’t teaching and/or modeling good manners. A father, who demonstrates boorish manners, gives the green light to his child to use boorish manners; dad might even think it is funny when his child acts out in public. The problem is we (instructors, teachers, coaches, admissions officers, and bosses) don’t find the child’s behavior funny, and we (instructors, teachers, coaches, admissions officers, and bosses) quickly pass him over. Sadly, the ill-mannered child never had a chance; his father chose his behavior, and the consequences of that behavior, for him.

 

Why aren’t parents teaching manners if they would like their children to use good manners, and they know that their children must exhibit good manners to succeed?

 

It does seem, from the many parents that I interview, that parents today are not too keen on being the “bad guys” to their children. Parents want their children to have manners, but cringe at correcting their children’s bad behavior. “I hate to come home from work after not seeing my kids all day and have to start disciplining their behavior; I would rather just goof around with them.”

 

Other parents didn’t receive manners training themselves, so teaching manners to their children is not an option. “I feel at a huge disadvantage. I wasn’t taught manners as a child and I am very uncomfortable in certain social situations. I struggle at business events because, I hate to admit it, I don’t have a lot of tact, sometimes, I inadvertently blurt out some inane and completely inappropriate comment.  I just do not even know where to begin to teach him a better way to behave.”

 

It is not uncommon to hear parents today say that their children are “gifted”, “brilliant”, “testing for genius”, or possessing “perfect pitch”. Perhaps these parents are so busy pointing out the great, it is difficult to see the not-so-great? Maybe these parents are fearful if they say anything deemed negative or judgmental, they will damage their children’s psyches? Maybe pointing out a child’s “not-so-great” behavior makes the parent look “not-so-great”?

 

Many people hypothesize the reasons behind (per the sub-title in Lynn Truss’ book), “The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today.” Maybe the trend is a consequence of high divorce rates, increasing single parent homes, the great number of two working parents, political correctness, video games, The Media, The Internet, the pornification of society…maybe a combination of the list? But is the question even relevant? None of these “possible causes” are going away any time soon.

 

So it becomes our job as parents to accept the culture as it is today, and teach our children good manners. Arming our children with manners and values allows them the opportunity to make good choices when faced with the curve balls, “the world” will inevitably throw at them.

 

Respecting and valuing others, developing high integrity and making others feel at ease, are probably the key reasons that society practices good manners. Manners put us at ease with those people that we know. Manners make us feel safe around complete strangers.

 

It would be anxiety provoking, to say the least, if there were no rules of social etiquette. What if, when browsing through a dress rack at the mall, it was perfectly acceptable for the stranger browsing alongside us, coveting the discounted blouse we got to first, to pop us one in the jaw and wrestle us to the floor for the garment? How often would we go to the mall?

 

It is okay that social standards have relaxed over the past 75 years. Rigidity and strict rules don’t fit today’s world. Pinafores, cotillions, white gloves, dessert spoons, sipping tea from the saucer, and pillbox hats seem out of place in most social circles. But the basic tenets of etiquette still hold strong and true.

 

Proper table manners, pleasant conversational skills, appropriate dress and the use of tact are social graces that make interacting with others easy and agreeable. Etiquette rules that embrace the goals of respecting and valuing others, having high integrity and putting others at ease, make living side by side easy. It is hard to argue the merit of good etiquette.

 

Fail to teach children manners and fail them. Without proper manners training, children will run into awkward situations as they mature that will probably limit their options for success. We want our kids to be participatory members of a thriving and exciting, civil society. The last thing that parents want for their children is for them to have to “Stay home and bolt the door.”

 

 

 

 

The Time is NOW to Teach Kids Good Manners

Moms from all over the world, and especially here in the USA, contact me every day to share their concerns about raising kids. One of the biggest issues, I am asked about, is children’s manners and respect. Moms everywhere are concerned about their kids learning table manners, communication skills, sharing, and all of the basic social courtesies that create a civil society…they are worried that as a society we are doing away with everyday etiquette.
So many etiquette challenges…For instance, teachers voice their frustration with kids who interrupt class without raising their hands. Moms complain about table manners, use (or non-use) of “please” and “thank you”, challenges kids have entering conversations, and lack of tact when a child doesn’t like something or when another child makes a mistake. Kids are kids, and nobody wants to do anything to break their wonderful spirits or sap their energy. At the same time, many parents and teachers wish there was a fun and easy way to instill the basics of etiquette, manners, respect for others — all in an engaging way that kids actually enjoy and that lets them express their natural creativity and “kid-ness”.

You asked for it so we created a solution: An engaging and simple system to teach kids etiquette, manners and respect

If you are a Mom or teacher who loves working with kids and would like to prepare your own kids and perhaps the kids in your community for a lifetime of success — while earning an excellent extra income stream —  then I would like to invite you to check out our wonderful new program called Etiquette Moms. Go to our new site http://www.etiquettemoms.com to learn more.The goal is simple: Create an army of caring Moms and teachers who instill good manners and habits in our kids. This program is nothing like the old, stale, boring etiquette classes. Instead, it is MODERN, fun, and uses tons of great games and activities to teach kids proper habits while having a great time. You and your kids will love it!

If you want to make a difference and lay a foundation of success for your children and the children in your community, please visit Etiquette Moms now. Before you know it, you could have a wonderful new way of earning extra income and spending time with your kids.

 

 

 

 

Now you can join an amazing group of like-minded moms and teachers, and take action to make a huge difference in the lives of your own kids, and in the lives of kids everywhere! Plus, we could all use an extra income stream these days, and this program shows you how to create your very own part-time or full-time etiquette training business. I can’t think of a better way to earn an excellent income than by providing an incredibly valuable service for children!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 


Family Time Should Not Include Video Games

As the mom of two little boys and the designer and manufacturer of a line of games, toys and parenting tools I have a unique perspective on children’s toys, games, and products. I also have attended Toy Fair every year in New York where all of the new toys are introduced to the trade before they hit the stores.

I am pro toy. I love creative board games, building blocks, puppets, books, puzzles, science projects, sports equipment and crafts. I seek toys, products and games that engage, challenge, educate, encourage movement and that are fun. I especially love toys that encourage family time. And am thrilled when a birthday invitation arrives and I get to take my kids to a toy store to buy a gift.

Unlike the average lay person who strolls the toy aisles with casual interest, I painstakingly study each shelf, taking detailed notes about the designs, age appropriateness, quality of packaging, attention to detail, and overall toy concept. “What is the mark up on this item?” “Did the manufacturer have an inspector in the manufacturing plant assuring the use of safe products?” “How much damage is this wasteful packaging going to do to the planet in my child’s lifetime?” “What kind of a hit is this toy maker going to take when smart and thoughtful moms and dads say, ‘No Way!’ to this doll that looks like a prostitute?”

I ask myself questions with my mom hat on, “Would a child lose interest after 15 minutes and leave this toy discarded on the family room floor?” and “How many pieces will get sucked up in the vacuum, roll under the couch, get eaten by the dog, or get flushed down the potty while dinner is being prepared?…Will it be fun for mom and dad to play too?”

I make it a point to get children’s perspectives on toys. I teach Tae Kwon Do to a wide age range of children and interrogate them after class about their varying interests. I volunteer in my six year old child’s classroom very often and have in-depth discussions with the children about what they enjoy doing and playing with and I get down on the floor and play with my three year old and his friends and watch them delight over things that roll.

A recurring theme repeats itself over and over to me, “Will you play with me?” “Watch me do this!” “Mom, check this out, check this out!” “Do you want me to make one for you?” “I am going to dress up as a pirate; can you dress up as Wonder Woman!” The resounding theme is: be with me, play with me, connect with me, and share yourself with me!

As I hear the welcoming and joyful invitations to play from the many kids I have the honor and privilege of being around, I can’t believe the rotten choices we are given in retail stores for juvenile products.

Of all the choices, I find video games to be the most rotten and scary. Children are begging us to give them our time and attention, and we are handing them insipid tech toys that isolate them from us, their siblings and their peers. As if it weren’t bad enough to immobilize a child in front of the television or computer at home for hour after hour, manufacturers have scaled the units down so that kids can play video games in the car, instead of speaking with us; play video games on the playground, instead of hanging on the monkey bars; and even play video games at the dinner table, instead of eating with the family.

Video games, computer games, DVD players and ipods discourage face to face interaction, requiring the user to stare sedately at a screen, or tune people out with earphones. These devices also discourage creativity, imagination and activity. We have all heard the frightening reports of increasing childhood obesity, high cholesterol and diabetes; however we continue to offer toy choices that limit mobility.

There isn’t a lack of creative toy design. There are many wildly clever toy designers that figure ingenuity, originality and inventiveness into their products. The problem is lack of interest from the masses. Small toy stores that once offered interesting choices have been pushed out by the enormous box stores that, due to their large size, can offer toys at lower prices. The risk is too high for most independent manufacturers to sell to the box stores. For instance, if a box store orders a huge amount, 100,000 units perhaps, and those units don’t sell, the small manufacturer is often required to buy back the inventory, and can be bankrupted with one terrible phone call. The result: kids get slim pickings. Video games sell, so stores offer more and more video games.

With envy, I have watched children burst out of classrooms into the sunlight and run screaming onto the playground desperate to blow off their pent up energy. I try to remember what it feels like to want to run until I fall down. It has been my pleasure to work side by side with kids for hours as they enthusiastically learn how to tie dye t-shirts, make soap, knead dough, construct cities with blocks, and kick or punch through boards. I marvel at their creative energy, their willingness to take on new things, and their social ease and intelligence. After years of teaching kids, I have never had a single child say to me, “I think that instead of cracking these eggs into this cake batter we are making together, I would rather play a video game, alone, in my room.”

After watching kids playing merrily on the playground or grinning from ear to ear as they run all day on a beach, how could any parent opt to instead sit their children in front of a television for hours of passive, inactive, button pushing. If I were a kid and I knew everything that I know now, I would revolt.

I guess it is our job, as caring, loving parents, to revolt for them.

Let’s stand up for our children’s right to actively experience childhood, and stop handing them devices that discourage running, jumping, imagining, reading, growing, learning, and moving? Let’s encourage face to face interaction and give our kids the attention that they need and crave and that we promised them the first time we held them. Let’s limit the amount of video monitors that we expose our children to, in favor of games, toys and crafts that appeal to their energized, smart, clever and funny nature. Let’s choose to put down what we are doing in favor of being with our kids. There will be plenty of time to do what we want when we blink and our kids are grown.