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Want to Deprogram A Materialistic Kid? Here are 8 Proven Ways

Am I Spoiling ThemOkay. You admit you have a materialistic little critter on your hands. Take comfort. There are proven ways to deprogram a materialistic kid. It will take time and commitment, but the benefits are profound for your child and your family. Kids who are less materialistic are more “we” oriented, than “me.” They are more concerned about others, and less worried about how they look and what they own. Their self-esteem is more authentic. But perhaps most important, research clearly shows that these children are more empathetic, caring, collaborate, compassionate and morally courageous.

Here are a few of the best parenting solutions from my latest book, UnSelfie to help you succeed:

1. Watch those TV commercials!

Research shows that the fewer commercials kids see, the less materialistic they become. When kids’ TV viewing was cut by one-third; they were 70 percent less likely than their peers to ask parents for a toy the next week.

Solution: Hit the mute button on your television remote and talk whenever those commercials are on. Turn your child toward more commercial-free television shows or even TVO his “have-to-see” favorite so he can cut out the commercials all together.

2. Spend more time than money on your kids

Materialistic kids go on far more shopping outings with their parents. So be honest: How many outings stress non-material values?

Make a conscious effort to spend time together doing things that don’t cost a dime: Go to the park and the museum, talk, take bike rides, build forts, bake cookies, watch the clouds, and play Monopoly. Show your kid the “other” side of life.

3. Rotate “stuff”

Instead of letting your child view his stockpile of matchbox cars, action figures, CDs or whatever, store some away in a closet for a week or month.

Your new rule is when stowed, items are returned, while new ones are stored in their place.

The simple solution of rotating stuff makes bedroom cleanups easier, and helps kids learn they don’t need so much to have a good time. Best yet, the returned items are more appreciated and treated like new.

My girlfriend was master at this. She figured out quite early that her kids didn’t need all those toys and so she would simply “store” items her kids didn’t play with as often in a closet. Then a month later she’d rotate the toys – taking out the stored items and putting away toys that weren’t so popular for a later day. Most amazing – her kids were elated to find the “new” toys!

Try it!

4. Curb those $$$$$ rewards

I’ll do it if you’ll buy me those jeans.”    “How much will you give me?”  “But I wanted the X-Box!”

If you’ve heard those words from your kid chances are he’s been reward with monetary prizes and material possessions for behaving, working or just plain breathing. And materialistic kids keep upping the ante, they want more. From this moment on your new response is to just expect your child to do the job or behave without compensation.

Instead put away your wallet, and give praise, hugs and pats on the back whenever they are earned.

5. Stop hoarding

Materialistic kids tend to be pack rats and the more stuff the better. So take a Reality Check. Might your child be the next poster kid for the reality show, “Hoarders?” If so, it’s time for serious action.

To break your child’s hoarding habit provide three boxes labeled with one of these words: “Trash” (for ripped, torn, or broken items; “Memories,” (items with special meaning); and “Charity” (gently used toys, accessories or clothing that other kids may appreciate). Then encourage him to go through his drawers, closets, and shelves.

Explain that he should keep what he really needs, uses and wears, and put the rest into the specified box. Make sure that he helps you take the “Charity” box to an organization such as Goodwill or Red Cross to help him realize that not everyone is so fortunate.

6. Teach “Needs” vs. “Wants” 

Materialistic kids often want things “N.O.W.” and don’t stop to consider if the item is even necessary.

Solution: Whenever your kid pleads for some nonessential thing he just “must have” ask: “Is it something you really need or just want?”  Consistency is crucial…don’t back down!

Then outlaw nonessential, “have to have it” NOW spending.

7. Teach the habit of “giving” not “getting”

“Hands on” giving helps counter materialism more powerfully than almost anything else. So take your kids with you to bring dinner to a sick neighbor or to volunteer in a soup kitchen together.

Require your kids give part of a weekly allowance to needy kids. To stretch empathy, have your child shut his eyes and visualize the recipients’ reactions to the child’s gift.

Choose a cause as a family: adopting an orphan through Save the Children; befriending the lonely neighbor. Let your kid feel the power of giving.

8. Model restraint

Research shows that parents who are materialistic raise the most materialistic kids. You’re the best role model for helping your child cope with our complicated material world, so what kind of example are you setting for your kid?

Or just use the simplest parenting solution: the next time your kid says “I want….” say, “Honey, I want to boost your self-esteem and decrease your chance for depression, so NO!”

On this note, research is clear: money does not buy happiness. In fact, the wealthier are exactly less happier. Don’t think you’re doing your child any favor by buying to think it will create a more content critter. Instead, help your child learn constraint and to monitor “impulsiveness” by not spending ASAP. And focus your efforts on boosting your child’s “inside” qualities. Who she is on the inside, matters far more for self-esteem and happiness than the brand she wears.

For more solutions, signs of materialism, the latest research on how to curb it, or dozens more practical and proven parenting tips on 101 hot-button topics see The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries

Meanwhile, what are you doing to help raise a less materialistic kid in a materialistic world? If you have  ideas you’d like to pass on, please post your best tip! I’d love to hear from you.


UnSelfie 140x210Teens today are 40 percent less empathetic than they were thirty years ago. Why is a lack of empathy—along with the self-absorption epidemic Dr. Michele Borba calls the Selfie Syndrome—so dangerous? First, it hurts kids’ academic performance and leads to bullying behaviors. Also, it correlates with more cheating and less resilience. And once children grow up, it hampers their ability to collaborate, innovate and problem-solve—all must-have skills for the global economy. The good news? Empathy is a trait that can be taught and nurtured.  UnSelfie is a blueprint for parents and educators who want activate our children’s hearts and shift their focus from I, me, and mine… to we, us, and ours.  It’s time to include “empathy” in our parenting and teaching!  UnSelfie is AVAILABLE NOW at

Are Thumb-sucking and Pacifiers Bad For My Child’s Teeth?

Japanese baby girl sucking on a pacifier (0 year old)Thumb-sucking and pacifiers have both been a natural source of comfort for children for decades. It’s an instinctual habit; sucking on thumbs, fingers, pacifiers or other objects often help babies relax, boosting their moods and leading to soothing sleeping patterns.

However, as comforting as thumb-sucking may be, these habits can be detrimental to your child’s oral health. The intensity of the sucking, or how aggressive your child is sucking on an object, is the determining factor between a harmless practice and a damaging dental issue. For children who passively rest their thumbs in their mouths, dental damage is rare. On the other hand, for kids who vigorously suck on their thumbs several hours a day, there’s a high risk of developmental problems in baby teeth, proper growth of the mouth, alignment of the teeth and changes in the roof of the mouth.

Pacifiers can affect your child’s teeth in the same ways, but it is usually an easier habit to break compared to thumb-sucking. Children should stop sucking on objects and fingers around the age of two, or by the time the permanent front teeth begin to erupt through the gums.

If your child is a vigorous thumb-sucker, try the following:

  • Reward or praise your child when they are not sucking.
  • Thumb-sucking is often a subconscious solution to feelings of insecurity or boredom. Focus on solving the source of the thumb-sucking, rather than breaking the habit itself.
  • For an older child, involve him or her in the decision to stop sucking. Explain why it is harmful to their teeth, as well as their overall health, due to the intake of unnecessary germs.
  • Bandage the fingers or thumb.
  • Coat the fingers or thumb in a safe, bitter-tasting coating.
  • Ask your dentist about a mouth appliance.

If you have any other questions regarding thumb-sucking or pacifier use, please do not hesitate to contact your dentist, or leave us a comment below!

Your Child is Hitting!! …3 Steps You Can Take to Stop This

Boys are brother punch and fightingOur children hit to express themselves and get their needs met. If they had another way to manage their feelings and relationships, they would do so. Most children and adults do the best they can, in the moment, with the skills they have. The reasons for hitting vary for each child, you may wish to consider whether the child is experiencing anger, upset, frustration, boredom, disappointment, loneliness or other related emotions.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:  Here is a video along with three steps you can take to help modify this destructive behavior:

      1. Manage the moment. In the moment of the intensity we focus not on speaking but on calming. The emotional brain responds to limbic strategies not lots of words and instruction.  

        First ~ You are your children’s best teacher. How you manage their hitting impacts their developing skills. So quietly step close to them and express confusion over what is happening. “Boys, I am confused about the fighting.” This engages the “Thinker” the frontal lobes in their brains. Then provide a solution. “It’s a good time for us to go play outside.”  When you use Bloom, eventually, you will have an entire list of strategies, words and actions to use Cope - bloom graphicwhen the moment is intense, for now, the very first time, it is helpful to change their setting. Next time, you will better manage their space as they play.

        Second ~ Then, when the children are calm and safe, we circle back to prepare and prevent future mishaps by developing strategies including “Calming Cues” and “Anger Toolkits” so that the children are empowered to choose another behavior next time.

      2. Create a culture of kindness.When the children are calm, circle back to teach them that we live in a family where we respect one another with our words and our bodies. We are kind to one another. The first three chapters of The Family Coach Method can REALLY help you here.


    1. Focus on feeding the children whole real organic food.There is ample research that what we eat impacts how we feel and behave. If we are not feeding our bodies quality proteins, fats and complex carbohydrates, the body and brain cannot do their best. We love 100dayofrealfood, you might as well.

Few children hit when they are happy. Hitting is a way of saying, “This really is not working for me right now.” “My feelings are TOO BIG.” “I do not have the skills to work this out in a more cooperative way.” A child who is hitting is asking you to help them!

The magic is in using the mantras to help you calm the children now and then Managing The Moment to help everyone find a new way to manage their feelings when an impulse to be aggressive appears again.


bloom cover - 140x208Written for real parents with anxious, angry and over-the-top kids, Bloom is a brain-based approach to parenting all children. Taking its lead from neuroscience and best practices in early childhood mental health, it offers parents, teachers and care providers the words, thoughts and actions to raise calm, confident children, while reducing the need for consequences and punishment. The first book of its kind, it provides pages full of printable mantras you can carry with you, hang on your fridge or use in your classroom to raise emotionally competent kids. Stop second-guessing the way you handle misbehaviors, and learn why they occur in the first place. Bloom is available at

Why Does Your Child Bite …And What Can You Do?

Zwei Mädchen streiten auf dem SpielplatzWhile it’s shocking and probably embarrassing when your child bites, it’s not unusual behavior for young kids. When children are overcome with feelings such as anger, fear, frustration or disappointment, for example, because another child has possession of a toy they want, they don’t have the language to express it.

IN A NUTSHELL: 5 of the 10 reasons in Bloom – WHY KIDS BITE.

  1. They do not have the language, words or ability to express what they need to say.
  2. They are frustrated, upset or irritated, and biting seems to be the quickest way for them to communicate this.
  3. The child is overwhelmed by sensory input when several other children are present.
  4. Even though the child “knows” biting hurts on a cognitive level, he may not have developed the emotional maturity to control this urge when frustrated.
  5. At a young age, biting is normal and needs to be redirected.

YOU HELP THE CHILD by stating how he might feel and providing him with the solutions (new words, thoughts and behaviors) the child cannot find on his own. It’s important to help the child figure out, what thought, feeling or perception caused their escalation because awareness provides the opportunity to make a different choice next time.


bloom cover - 140x208Written for real parents with anxious, angry and over-the-top kids, Bloom is a brain-based approach to parenting all children. Taking its lead from neuroscience and best practices in early childhood mental health, it offers parents, teachers and care providers the words, thoughts and actions to raise calm, confident children, while reducing the need for consequences and punishment. The first book of its kind, it provides pages full of printable mantras you can carry with you, hang on your fridge or use in your classroom to raise emotionally competent kids. Stop second-guessing the way you handle misbehaviors, and learn why they occur in the first place. Bloom is available at

A Simple Mommy Secret: 4 Steps to Stop Your Little Biter

Toddlers fight then biteDo you have a biter on your hands? Biting is among the most bothersome and embarrassing kid behaviors. I remember the horror the first time I saw one child in our playgroup bite – I quickly learned that biting is usually temporary, and much more common than I had thought. The other moms and I read up on biting behavior, and shared what we’d learned with one another. We learned that infants and toddlers often bite to relieve teething or gum soreness, or think it’s just a game. Preschoolers typically bite because they haven’t yet developed the coping skills to deal with stress appropriately or the verbal skills to express their needs. Whatever the reason, we knew that this behavior is clearly upsetting to all involved. And has been known to continue as kids get older if not dealt with. Our job was to nip this behavior before it becomes a habit.

Here are a few steps you can take to help you handle this annoying (but common) behavior:

Step 1. Confront the Biter A.S.A.P.
Step in the very minute your child bites and call it what it is: “That’s biting!” Then in a very stern voice say: “You may not bite people!” Firmly express your disapproval, and quickly remove your child from the situation. Remember Mom: No matter what you hear from other parents, do not bite your kid back! It is not helpful, and in fact, you’re only sending him the messages that kids can’t bite, but adults can.

If your kid has developed a history of biting, you’ll need to take emergency action. Arrange a private meeting amongst your child and other caregivers (such as his teacher, coach, daycare worker, babysitter) with whom he’s displaying the behavior. Create a consequence everyone understands: this could be the loss of a privilege, time out, or going home. You’ll want to all be on the same page and consistently enforced whatever consequence you all agreed upon. All the moms in our playground, for instance, decided to get on the same page together. Because we all responded the same way (yes, there was one mom who was a bit too laid-back, but we knew we couldn’t change her behavior), we were more successful in stopping our four-year-old Vampire Wannabees.

Step 2. Comfort the Victim and Boost Empathy
Kids always need to know that biting hurts! So in the presence of your kid focus your concern on the victim. “I’m so sorry! That must hurt. What can I do to help?” Doing so shows your child not only that his action caused pain but also how to convey sympathy. If possible, find a way to help your child to make amends. He might offer the victim a Kleenex or band-aid, draw a picture to apologize, say he’s sorry, or give the other child a toy. Do also apologize to the child’s parents on the spot or with a phone call. (Word to the wise: I learned the hard way that it is far better that I make the call then having the parent hear the story from someone else).

Step 3. Teach a New Behavior to Replace the Biting
If your toddler is teething, she’s probably biting because of sore gums. In that case, offer something appropriate to bite on: such as a frozen juice bar, a hard plastic teething ring, or toy to relieve the discomfort.

Kids often bite because they haven’t developed the verbal skills to communicate their needs or frustrations. Identify what skill your child lacks, and then teach a more appropriate way to respond that will replace the urge to bite. Practice the new skill together, until he can successfully use it on his own. One youngster bit because he didn’t know how to say he wanted a turn. Once his dad recognized the problem, he taught his son to say: “It’s your turn, then it’s my turn.” The biting quickly stopped. If your child has trouble verbalizing feelings or needs, teach him to say: “I’m getting mad.” Or: “I want to play.” Remember to let him know how proud you are when he uses good control.

Step 4. Anticipate Biting Behavior as the Best Prevention
If your child has developed a pattern of biting, then supervise those play times closely. You can then immediately step in and stop your biter before it happens. Put your hand gently over his mouth firmly saying: “You may not bite. Use your words to tell what you need.” Then show how: “I want a turn.” Sometimes you can distract your child from the situation: “Would you like to play with the clay or blocks?” You may have step in a few times before the biting is stopped, so watch closely then intervene pronto.

The most important part of this Mommy Secret to learn is that kids usually bite because they lack the ability to handle their frustrations. It’s up to us to help find better ways to get their point across.

Photo credit: Sabine 75CC license

********************************************************************************************************Borba - book cover -parentingsolutions140x180

Dr Borba’s book The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries, is one of the most comprehensive parenting book for kids 3 to 13. This down-to-earth guide offers advice for dealing with children’s difficult behavior and hot button issues including biting, tantrums, cheating, bad friends, inappropriate clothing, sex, drugs, peer pressure and much more. Each of the 101 challenging parenting issues includes specific step-by-step solutions and practical advice that is age appropriate based on the latest research. The Big Book of Parenting Solutions is available at

Have a Slacker Kid? Try These Procrastination Cures

Parenting tips I shared on TODAY for kids who procrastinate, dawdle, cut corners or just take the easy way. It’s the makeover no parent should put off!

Sound like your kid?

cure-kid-procrastinating“I don’t care! I quit – this is too hard.” “Why don’t YOU do it?”

Is his backpack a disaster, homework always a battle and everything seems to be put off until the last nano-second (“I’ll do it… just give me a minute!”)?

Do you feel like your kid’s personal organizer (“TODAY is the spelling test!”) and Big Ben (“the bus is coming in minute!”)

Does her teacher tell you: “I just know she could do better if she’d just apply herself”?

If so chances are you have a little slacker in your home, and can they be frustrating. They dawdle, put things off until the last minute, are unorganized, have poor time management skills and cut corners.


Though slackers usually have fewer ulcers and are a bit more laid back, there are clear disadvantages for kids who adopt “taking the easy way is the best way” as a life attitude.

~ Relationship and reputation downer: Siblings, friends, teammates and parents get tired of always having to be this kid’s reminder.

~ Achievement derailer: Test scores and grades are usually lower because he waits to study or turn tasks in without the effort needed.

~ Success curtailer: Because he doesn’t practice or work as long as needed to experience success he’s shortchanged.

The good news is that there are ways to help kids get more organized and motivated so they are more likely to succeed in school and in life. Here are steps for a successful “Slacker Makeover.” Your first step is to make sure your expectations are in line.


Sure, some kids just want to cut corners, but there may be other reasons for the behavior. Here are common causes of kid slacking that shouldn’t be overlooked.

1. Are expectations for your child appropriate? Could he be slacking because that violin class is over his head? Or that math class is way too easy? Meet with adult in charge to ensure expectations are realistic; alter classes and your expectations to align with your child’s actual capabilities. Expectations that boost motivation should stretch but not snap a child’s abilities. Too high of expectations cause anxiety; too low cause boredom.

2. Does your child have trouble focusing or have a problem learning that is causing him undue frustration? Discuss achievement scores and class performance with his teacher; ask for evaluation or arrange extra tutoring if needed.

3. Could your child be mimicking another family member or your slacking ways? Tune up your behavior so you model the joy of work and ensure your child has examples of those who give “their all” instead of cutting corners.

4. Is there too much going on so your child doesn’t have time or stamina to work hard? Reduce stress that you can; make time in your child’s schedule so he can focus and work harder.


Dawdling and cutting corners is usually not a phase that goes away, but becomes an even more entrenched, harder to fix habit. Here are the top slacker excuses. Identify those that apply to your child and the slacker-curbing strategy. Every strategy takes consistency and commitment, so don’t procrastinate or give up!

Slacker Excuse 1: “I can’t find my homework!”

Slacker kids are often disorganized, so they take up more time trying to locate everything that could be used studying. Homework assignments are commonly misplaced or not turned in. Solutions:

Use concrete organizers to remedy! Put a hook or box by the front door with two heavy-duty folders on the wall. Label one “To do” and the other “Done.” Teach the child to open the backpack the second she comes home, take out her homework assignments and put into “To do” folder, then hang backpack on the hook or in box.

Put away ASAP! When homework is done it goes into the backpack “Done” folder (for you to check-slackers often don’t do their “best” work – so check effort). The child then grabs “done work” and puts it into his backpack.

The practice must become a routine (practice, practice, practice) until you no longer need to be your child’s reminder.

Slacker Excuse 2: “I forgot!” “You didn’t tell me.”

Poor organizational skills are common with procrastinators who haven’t formed a habit of writing things down. so they take extra time to find out what they were supposed to do, forget sports gear, or rely on others to remind them. Solutions:

Homework Desk2Hang a white board with days of week in a central location. Teach your child to write or draw reoccurring assignments on appropriate day (Mon: soccer; Tues: spelling test; adding new tasks (field trip on Thurs) as needed. Refer child to organizer daily “What do you need to do?” until your child gets in the habit.

Use a date book or organizer. Older kids can transfer tasks into small date book with a page for each school day and store in the backpack and use alarm feature on cell phone or computer as chime reminder

Slacker Excuse 3: “I don’t know what to do first!”

Procrastinators often put off because they are overwhelmed with a project or “so many” assignments they don’t know how to get started. Teaching them how to prioritize tasks can get them started and stop postponing. Try these solutions:

Prioritize tasks: Help your child to break down a big project, report or nightly assignment into smaller tasks. Ask “What are things you need to do?” Then the child write or draw each task on Post-it notes, and then stacks them in order from the first to last thing to do As each task is completed, child rips up each Post-it until all completed. She can later learn to make checklists and cross off, but the long list can seem daunting to a procrastinator.

Set work rules! Kids who always put things off need clear work standards because they lack internal self-motivation. So establish “first things first” house rules and then reinforce consistently.“Work first, then play.” “Homework then TV.”

Slacker Excuse 4: “It’s too hard!”

Some kids are overwhelmed with tasks because it seems if never will never be able to complete them. Slackers often have difficulty sticking to a task and so they just give up or put it off. Solutions:

“Chunk” the task into more manageable pieces. Divide your child’s homework into smaller pieces and tell him to do “one chunk at a time.” Increase the size of each chunk after your child has completed a few assignments successfully. Gradually the child will learn to chunk any task into smaller more manageable parts.

“Do the hardest thing first.” The child will have more energy because it’s the first task, and once it’s done he can start on easier tasks.

Beware of rewards. Procrastinators start relying on those rewards so wean your kid from them. Instead, start reinforcing your kid’s productivity, initiative, and effort. Using the right praise that stretches effort and hard work actually stretches persistence.

Don’t rescue! Slackers often expect rescue, and so they don’t give their all knowing that someone (aka “you”) will bail them out. If you really want your child to learn how to be a self-starter and not slack off, then stop being her personal assistant. Change your role from “doer” to “guider” and start weaning “ I’ll to watch you do the first row, you do the second solo.”

Slacker Excuse 5: “I worked long enough!”

Slackers often cut corners or don’t hang into a task long enough often due to poor internal sense of time. So they think they worked longer than they did. Solutions:

kitchen-timer-330Use timing devices. Agree on set work time and post to minimize excuses: “Read 30 minutes each night.” Then provide a timing device to help child become own timekeeper: sand-timer, oven timer; Older child: a stopwatch, cell phone alarm. You’ll nag less and the timer will remind the child how much he needs to work.

Play “beat the clock.” If you need your dawdler to do something in a hurry, turn your directions into a time game. Challenge your child: “Let’s see how quickly you can finish that paper. Set the clock and Go!” Slowly reverse the role: “Did you challenge yourself to see how many problems you can finish in 30 minutes?”

Changing a slacker’s ways will take commitment so stick with it. Your goal is to gradually wean him from his old ways of putting things off and cutting corners.


Borba - book cover -parentingsolutions140x180Dr Borba’s book The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries, is one of the most comprehensive parenting book for kids 3 to 13. This down-to-earth guide offers advice for dealing with children’s difficult behavior and hot button issues including biting, tantrums, cheating, bad friends, inappropriate clothing, sex, drugs, peer pressure and much more. Each of the 101 challenging parenting issues includes specific step-by-step solutions and practical advice that is age appropriate based on the latest research. The Big Book of Parenting Solutions is available at

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