The week's best parenting advice: January 28, 2020
Talking to kids about Kobe Bryant's death, what parents should know about coronavirus, and more
How to talk to kids about Kobe Bryant's death
The circumstances of Sunday's tragic helicopter crash that killed basketball legend Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and seven other people were painful to comprehend, says Andrea Barbalich at The Week. "If this tragedy was shocking to adults, how about our kids?" Indeed, many children may be confused and scared about the sudden death of a sports icon, but parents can help by answering their questions honestly, giving them reassurance about how rare such accidents really are, and offering up extra affection. At the same time, "Be mindful of how much they're watching about the accident on TV and social media," Barbalich adds. And try to highlight the positive where you can. "Emphasize the outpouring of love that is happening and that this is how people are able to show they care during times of sadness," she says.
Should parents be worried about coronavirus?
At least 100 people have died as a result of a new coronavirus outbreak that originated in China and is spreading to other countries, including the U.S., where five cases have been confirmed. No doubt the respiratory illness — which can cause high fever and breathing problems — is concerning, but parents need not freak out. "I think there's no need at all for panic, given the precautions the United States government is taking," Dr. Mark Mulligan, M.D., division director of the infectious diseases and vaccine center at NYU Langone Medical Center, tells NYT Parenting. Besides, it's the flu parents should really be worried about: In the U.S., 54 children have died from influenza this season already. And while experts aren't yet sure how the coronavirus is transmitted, they do know how the flu is transmitted, and how to help prevent it: "Make sure that everyone in your house (including yourself) has received the flu shot," says Vanderbilt University Medical Center's Dr. William Schaffner.
Anxiety is different for children
Around a third of U.S. adolescents have an anxiety disorder, according to statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health. But they don't always display it in the same way adults do, explains Claire Gillespie at The Week. Children with anxiety might throw tantrums and become aggressive; they may be extremely shy or experience physical symptoms like stomach pain or headaches. New York-based therapist Dana Carretta-Stein teaches parents the "STOP" technique: Stop, Think, Observe, and Plan. "Stop and resist the urge to react to your child with emotion," Carretta-Stein says. "Next, think about what your child is currently feeling. Then observe their behavior and consider what's at the root of the issue. Finally, plan how you would like to respond." Of course, children learn from their parents' behavior, so "if parents can positively address the negative feelings they experience, they can mirror that for their kids," Gillespie says.
Raising respectful boys
How can parents teach young boys to have healthy relationships with girls and women? It starts by setting good boundaries in the home. "Find small and practical ways to teach that 'no' and 'stop' are words that require a boy's immediate response," parenting coach Shelley Jefsen tells Danielle Simone Brand at The Week. For example, if a sibling doesn't want to be tickled, that request must be respected. Similarly, Jefsen says a locked door can convey a powerful message. "I've heard more moms than I can count complain that they no longer remember what it's like to use the bathroom or dress alone," says Simone Brand. "It's important to teach kids to knock and wait for permission before proceeding. Such a simple thing, really, but one that makes a certain kind of sense if you see home and family as the training ground of respect in future relationships."
Little penny pinchers
Children may be better at saving money than you think. RoosterMoney, an allowance and chores app, surveyed 50,000 of its users and found that kids between ages 4 and 14 who received an allowance in 2019 saved 42 percent of that cash. Megan Cerullo at CBS News notes that's far more than the 8 percent of annual income that adults squirreled away last year. While kids obviously don't have the same financial burdens as their parents, Cerullo says, it seems "receiving a regular stipend helps them understand classic concepts like opportunity cost." The average weekly allowance was $9.59, or about $500 a year, and most parents paid out on Saturday. When kids did spend their money, it was on fairly predictable things like toys, games, and books. The most saved-for item? Lego sets.