How do you get a kid interested in mentally stimulating pursuits?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by strantor, Nov 30, 2012.

  1. strantor

    Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 3, 2010
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    Before I got married, I always imagined that when I had a kid, I would teach him/her things that other parents don't. I imagined sending my kid to school on the first day of kindergarten already reading, writing, and doing math.

    As it turned out, I married a woman who already had a 5 year old, so I missed that opportunity. On top of that, my 5 y/o stepdaughter didn't speak English. She's 6 1/2 now, and she's already fluent. I know she is very smart and has a lot of potential, but...

    Something that's been bugging me lately is her preoccupation with what I call "mental junk food." I can't seem to interest her in a book if it doesn't have a pink cover and/or isn't on the topic of fairies. She had a book fair at school today and I went with her to help her pick out some books. What they're doing these days is attaching blister packs of beads, bracelets, stickers, and random cheap shiny crap to the front of books to entice kids to buy them. Some the "books" don't even have pages; they're just book-shaped boxes of worthless trinkets, selling for $36.99. This clever marketing ploy has my daughter hook, line, and sinker. As we walked though the book fair, all she did was bounce back and forth between these pseudo books. I ended up choosing books for her from the "educational" section which was only one book stand.

    It's not just books. Clothes, movies, food, toys. She immediately jumps to the thing that is pink. The uncomfortable pink shoes, the disgusting looking pink cookies, the stupid looking pink fairy DVD, and on and on. I want to get her interested in the comfortable, durable shoes. The educational DVD, or at least a movie with a plot. The toy that stimulates thought, whether pink or not. But it's a losing battle.

    Marketing gurus have me over a barrel and seem to know my daughter better than I do. I've seen what comes after the fairy and princess stage. Next, they'll be brainwashing my 10/11/12/13 y/o daughter into thinking she needs to wear several layers of makeup and near-prostitute looking clothes to school. They will turn her against me when I refuse to equip her with an Iphone 8. They seem bent on evolving her into a shallow, dull woman who cares more about her cute accessories and her looks than her education. At this rate, I'm afraid they might win. I have to find a way to make her interested in pursuing ventures that make her a better, smarter person. But I don't know where to start.

    Any ideas?
     
  2. praondevou

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    Jul 9, 2011
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    No I don't have ideas. I'm asking myself the same stuff. I imagine the best way to get her interested in other things is to actually DO other things. Everything that is unusual for her. Could be anything, hiking, a zoo, "helping" her father repairing something (don't tell her she is actually not helping at all). Yes I think this is the best thing you could do, passing time together. Don't worry she is gonna think you are boring anyway sooner or later. But at the age of six it's still you who has control.

    Do not let her sit in front of the TV and watch "anything". Control what she will be allowed to see.


    Btw, great post, amusingly written, as always.
     
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  3. maxpower097

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    Feb 20, 2009
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    Its just the deterioration of our youth and corporations invading our schools. I remember people we outraged and protesting when I was in school because they installed coke machines. This is the same time they outlaws cigarette and beer machines. And yes back in the late 70's early 80's you could just walk to the local park and buy a beer from a vending machine 24/7
     
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  4. strantor

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    Oh, that's all? I was starting to get worried.
     
  5. vortmax

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    Oct 10, 2012
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    Well my daughter is only 4, but I definitely understand where you are coming from. Luckily for me, we only have basic cable, so the only TV shows she watches are on PBS...and she seems to really enjoy those.

    If she is anything like my daughter (or my wife, or any other woman I've ever known for that matter), pushing them in a direction isn't going to do much. The approach I take with my daughter is to just introduce her to as many new things as I can, and if she shows any bit of interest in it, then I run with it. If I am working on something, and she's curious about it, then I try to include her in it. I try not to assume anything about what she can comprehend either. I try to explain things in terms she can understand, but if she keeps asking questions, I keep going.

    Don't feel too bad about the pink and fairies though...as much as my daughter loves dinosaurs and science, she also loves princesses, fairies, and everything pink and purple. It's just something little girls do.
     
  6. strantor

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    Oct 3, 2010
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    Yes I have thought along these lines as well. I had her "help" me build planters and plant a garden. It was great to spend time with her even though she lost interest in the garden when there were not full grown plants the next day. I regret being so consumed with work and school for the past year plus. Starting next semester, I am only taking one or 2 classes per semester, and working only part time. I want to spend as much time with her as possible during these developmental years. I will probably make her help me restore my new old machine tools. That may be too far though; I will have to play it by ear and find where the line is, between a father spending time with his daughter and a father trying to turn his daughter into a son.
     
  7. loosewire

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    Call me back when you are fifty, you'll be different man..time will have tested your

    views. You will know that kids grow up despite of all your effort. You need to grow

    along with the family,things will work out,you will survive...you don't have choice.

    I'm growing along , listening to Willie Nelson on my portable cd player....drilling

    his words into my head...High as I can take it.
     
  8. praondevou

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    Great!

    LOL.

    As for the time we don't have, I fully agree. Why again do we have to stay 10 hours at work while others have nothing to do? Oops, that's a different subject.
     
  9. vortmax

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    Oct 10, 2012
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    That's okay. You don't have to capture her interest for eternity...Every minute counts. In a little bit when you start getting veggies or flowers or something, she'll be interested again.

    nah. If she enjoys it, she enjoys it. I brought my daughter to the lab one weekend while I was wiring up a project....I helped her cut some wire to make a bracelet, let her "help" me cut and crimp, etc. She had blast...she still talks about it.
     
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  10. MrChips

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    Oct 2, 2009
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    Seen it, been there, done that.

    First good sign is that you are interested and concerned about what is best for your kid. I believe that you should not attempt to control your child's life. I think the best you can do is set by example. When we had our first child we chose not to have television. With three more kids later, we finally gave in but we still do not subscribe to cable service. We get what ever comes through the cable along with internet service.

    It is best to spend as much time as you can together as a family away from TV and shopping, all designed to get you hooked on wanton consumerism. We live a relatively frugal lifestyle. Our daughters went through the teenage years wanting to keep up with their peers and the latest fashions. But now they are older and wiser. What they see in their own home does rub off on them.

    One important thing we have tried to do is maintain annual family traditions, doing things together as a family, such as, summer camps, hikes in the woods, picking apples in the fall, cutting a real Christmas tree from a tree farm, playing board games, etc.

    You may want to steer your child's interests in certain directions but don't push it too hard. They will find their own interests. We enrolled our two daughters in piano lessons while my son just sat at the piano and picked it up by watching YouTube. Now he is the virutoso while my daughters have long forgotten their music lessons.

    One summer I needed someone to help me put together a production line of circuit boards. My daughter was quite happy to help me do the soldering and we both had a blast doing it together.

    My four children are now 14 to 20 years old and I could not ask for anything better of them.

    Thanks for the great post.
     
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  11. maxpower097

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    Feb 20, 2009
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    Seriously just get her involved in a bunch of stuff and see what sticks. Thats really all that any parent can do. Their bound to start and quit many things before they find their passion but thats all part of the process. I can't even begin to tell you all the crap we were into. I firmly believe in the following just to teach the basics of life. Get some hamsters, get a fish tank with guppies or somethiing that will breed. See if she wants to do Karate or anything like that. Many like diving. But your just gonna have to push her to try stuff till she finds what she likes and be prepared because what she likes, your probably gonna hate. :) GL though.
     
  12. DerStrom8

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    Feb 20, 2011
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    At 6 1/2 it is only natural for your daughter to have a specific interest in, for example, the color pink. As a child's mind develops, it tends to grab onto specific stimuli that automatically draw his or her eyes towards it. As the child ages, the brain becomes accustomed to and can handle a significant amount more stimuli, whether it be in the form of colors, shapes, sounds, etc. I don't feel your step-daughter being attracted to pink objects is anything to worry about at this point.

    You are spot on about the marketing strategies though. Companies earn money by tricking people. It's the only way to make people spend their money. That is why when you go to a grocery store, all the sweet cereals are down low at the children's eye level, and all the healthy stuff up top, for adults. Children aren't attracted to the dull, monochromatic cereal boxes of the healthy stuff. They're attracted to the brightly colored boxes that are strategically placed at their eye level. they can be very tricky in their marketing strategies, and that's something for any parent to constantly be aware of.

    At this point, strantor, you're doing about everything you can with your stepdaughter. Encouraging her to gravitate toward more educational books and objects will help her in a few years to do that herself. Something else that is very helpful for adults to do with their children is to read to them. Bedtime stories are an excellent example. You can pick books that are interesting for the child, but at the same time, introduce them to the joy of reading. C.S. Lewis's "The Chronicles of Narnia" was always a favorite of mine when I was a kid. My parents, and at times even my older brother, read them to me and I'd have to say they're probably what really got me into reading. The thing about children is that you can't really force them into anything. Instead, you just have to be there to help steer them, even if it takes several years. In my opinion, it's healthy to start with childish books, just to ease them into the idea of reading. You can gradually change the types of books, which in turn will often steer your child's interest to slightly more difficult reading.

    Seeing that you're conscious of your step-daughter's interests and of the marketing ploys is excellent--it will be a huge help to you both in the coming years. I'm sure your encouragement now is helping her, even if you don't see its effects quite yet. When it comes to makeup and skimpy clothing, that is something you will have to be conscious of. You may have to make some outright rules about it when she is still young, but there comes a time that you must give her a bit more freedom to make her own choices, and mistakes if need be. Children and young adults tend to learn more from their own mistakes than from parental rules. As long as you're aware of what stage of life she is in, and continue to encourage her to make good choices, I don't think you have anything to worry about :)

    Best wishes to you and your family, Strantor.
    Regards,
    Matt
     
  13. #12

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    Nov 30, 2010
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    I am very weak on this subject. I had very little father time and no children. I can offer little, but here's a try.

    First, the time you spend with a kid is far more important than exactly what you're doing. Second, (from Maxpower) throw a lot of stuff against the wall and see what sticks. If she has a mind, it will choose. Third, Dog deals souls from a shuffled deck. Or, as Forrest Gump said, "You never know what you're going to get". You just keep driving the train and blowing the whistle. She'll choose which stop she's interested in.

    PS, I'm a Harry Potter fan. (I carry my magic wand in my truck so I can show the customers how to take the magic out of their machines.) In a few years, she will be able to read. Harry Potter has led countless thousands of children to read when they had no interest before, and yes, the book is always better than the movie.

    That's all I have for now. I've done years of counciling with adults, but like electronics, I'm so far down the road that I can barely tell a beginner how to put batteries in a flashlight, let alone how to start a child.
     
  14. atferrari

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    Not that I am going to talk about colors but of few things that come to mind right now.

    ALL what I learnt from my father and from my mother was not what they said but what they did. Even, and most important, all related to moral and ethics. For anyone around you, in any field, what you do is much more than what you say.

    But, regarding my actual personal preferences, it was a VERY hard burden to free myself of all I did but DIDN'T like to do. That took me many years. Oh yes!!

    And above all, please do not say nothing like "Leave that, you do not have manual dexterity". That marked my personal life for maybe more than 25 years and I repeated that, completely convinced, until I started to build the VFO's shield of my first 80 / 40 m AM Xmtr.

    Point is, what do you consider mentally stimulating, for sure won't be what her will. Where you see just plain grass she could notice ladybugs, ants or bees and surprise you. Thanks God, we all have different perceptions of the same thing.

    Pink color? I would not worry. That reminds me, Jimena, my eldest daughter, having exclusively chocolate ice cream for years. I was almost angry with that. And suddenly she started to taste other flavors and forgot it.

    As you probably are aware by now, we all move with time, always ahead. Interests do change. It is the nature of everyone.

    And be prepared to see lot of activities that she will start and forget in months. Why not? We do not sign contracts in heaven. We just live down here.

    One of the best things you could do to her is to show the huge panoply of things there is around. What means, go out together sometimes, to see the world.

    Just a comment: many years ago, I suggested Rosario, my youngest daughter, now studying Literature at the uni, to read Bradbury's "Dandelion wine" (best poetry in prose I've read ever). She did reluctantly and discarded it with almost derogatory comments. Some two years later, as per her own decision she read it again and come to me commenting how marvelous that book was. The point to note: she actually "discovered" that book, not me for her.

    And thanks to vessels, I spent much more than 20 years, mostly at sea, far from home. Precisely you, Strantor, know how it feels; so, go for quality and not for quantity. And above all, feel good with her and wife.
     
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  15. DerStrom8

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    Okay, so this is a little unrelated, but I really wanted to share :D

     
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  16. GetDeviceInfo

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    a family concelor told me one time, 'if it's not morally wrong, or self injurious, give them room to grow'.

    I met my current partner and her 6 year old daughter 28 years ago. We went through some difficult times. The daughter was lured into gang activity, spent some time in foster homes, and would often go 'missing'. Her mother often said that she longed to just sit and watch TV together or read a book. Years later, we all get together and do family things.

    loosewire has it right. Your children are individuals that participate in shaping your lives. If we fight it, they'll fight back, if we manipulate, they retaliate, if we accept and learn, they'll reward. Support her in growing into a confident woman, knowing that exploration along the way is a must. Your task as a parent, is providing a safe environment and positive support to make that journey of exploration meaningful, for both you and her.

    The marketing and explotation side is a whole other ball game. I think one must commit to participating in active lobbying of government to make any changes
     
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  17. thatoneguy

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    Feb 19, 2009
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    This is the best place to start. Several studies, such as this one, link school drop out rates and lower IQ tests to kids spending more time watching TV than playing outside. Though correlation does not equal causation, I find it interesting. I know I get a lot more done since my TV quit 15 years ago and I never replaced it.

    Try doing things that get the kids' imagination/creativity engaged, rather than being dependent on TV or games to do the "creative work" for the kid. It's amazing how fast they will change directions of interest.

    The idea isn't banning TV, but helping them realize there are a lot more stimulating, and healthier things to do outside or even if it is painting. TV is more like chewing gum for the brain. People "lose" years in front of it, and regret it.

    The downside of all this, is that if your kid doesn't like anything in the science field, there's not much good advice you'll get from a forum full of tech types. :eek:
     
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  18. gerty

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    My kids are 36 and 38 now, things are soo different from when mine were young, I wouldn't know where to begin.. The fact that you are interested is a giant thing in that childs life.
    I see too many young adults that were plopped in front of the tv/video games, they had the type of parent(s) that used the electronics as a babysitter. That left the kid to be rasised by whatever was on tv!
    Stay interested in the childs life and she should prosper.
     
  19. Papabravo

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    Feb 24, 2006
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    My children are 33, 31, and 30. Whatever you do remember that you cannot make them into miniature copies of yourself. Read to them, and let them choose the material. Occasionally find something and ask if you can pick something for a change. Kids appreciate reciprocity, but only after showing them you are open to things they like and enjoy. When you go places let the conversation touch on how things work and how they got to be that way. Just talk to the kids -- that's the real trigger.
     
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  20. Wendy

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