Society today is becoming apathetic to the world around us. Many children in particular are more concerned with playing the latest video game and don’t really pay much attention to the environment around them. They have nature deficit disorder and it can be hard to get them to show an interest in the natural world, but you can get them to care if you start early and take small steps. You may not make a difference overnight, but you may just make a difference in the future of the planet. Don’t let your kids become adults who care more about making money, acquiring “things”, entertaining themselves, and in general keeping up with the Jones’s. Raise kids who care about this planet we share.
The first step in raising your children to be eco friendly is to be eco friendly yourself. You need to walk the walk. You can tell your children to respect the environment all you want, but you’re not going to get anywhere if you don’t practice what you preach. Follow the practices of refusing, reducing, reusing, and recycling. Use natural and environmentally friendly products, especially reusables. Get involved with local organizations that help protect the environment and preserve patches of nature in your neck of the woods.
Once you’re involved in eco friendly practices, start getting your kids to help as soon as you can. You can start out with easy steps like having them put their own recyclables into the bin, or even have them ride along with you when you take your bin to the recycling center. You can have them help you fill your glass mason jars at the bulk bin station of the grocery store. You can have them help you build a compost pile and be responsible for taking out kitchen scraps every day. Encourage them to watch movies with environmental themes:
Ice Age – The Meltdown
Read them books that have these themes as well.
The people who do the most to help the environment are the ones who know the most about it. That’s why it’s important to start your child learning about the world around them early. While you should do your best to teach them on your own, you can also get some help from the experts. Many zoos, science museums, and nature centers offer educational classes for children as young as three years old. These can be a valuable resource in helping small children start to learn about the environment and to expand their knowledge as they get older. Take them to a class about local herbs, beekeeping, gardening, and organic cooking.
Get your child involved in volunteering. If you work or volunteer for an environmental activist group, get your children involved as soon as they are old enough. Many areas offer volunteer organizations for teens and young adults. The first place to look is with the places where you found classes for young children. The most important part is that your child gets involved on a larger scale than just within your family. This also helps them meet other people their age and make friends with those who also care about environmental issues. It helps them to see you aren’t some crazy person…others care about these issues too!
While children will inevitably be resistant to volunteering and doing extra work or chores at some point or another, they will still gain an appreciation for their environment that will last their whole lives. Who knows….they may be the solution and the change we are all looking for.
One of the easiest ways to teach kids about being good stewards of the earth is to teach them not to be consumers!!! Don’t buy new whenever you can avoid it, buy what is already out there in use. Buying used clothing and toys is one of the best ways to buy recycled materials as second hand items have just been recycled by their previous owners so that someone else can use them and give them a new life. Instead of buying new clothes and toys why not save money and planetary resources by shopping for previously loved items. If your kids ask why you don’t buy new just tell them that you are all doing your part to help reduce stress on Mother Earth.
Teach kids from an early age that conserving resources such as energy and water is important. Have them help you build a cistern or a rain water collection system so that you can capture rainfall and to use during droughts or for watering the garden and indoor plants. It can be game for them to monitor how fast the water accumulates.
Stress the importance of turning off all lights and electrical appliances when not in use. Plug TVs, DVD units, CD players, video game systems, etc into one power strip and have them turn it off after each use. Small reminder signs can be made and placed near exit ways or on remote controls to help them remember to do this.
When the weather is permitting have your children help you hang clothes outside on a clothes line to dry. You use sun power and conserve energy in the process. Think about other ways that you can use alternative energy in your home.
All of these small steps can make a big impact. Of course the biggest impact might be on our children as we teach them that living in harmony with our planet and keeping it beautiful is important.
I recently shared this chore chart image on my Facebook page because I thought it was clever and cute.
In response though I got a few unfavorable comments regarding paying children to do chores. These were some of the responses…
“Um, NO. Kids don’t get paid for being a contributing member of the family pulling their own weight.”
“This is a bad idea. Cleaning and picking up after ones self is just part of being alive and part of a family or community. This sets up an unrealistic expectation.”
“And who will pay them to do all this when they have their own home?”
“My kids do their chores because they have to…… what is wrong with today’s society?”
I completely disagree with them.
I shared this photo because I actually plan to copy it in my own home because I do pay my kids to do chores…sort of. I expect my kids to maintain their own bedrooms and in general pick up after themselves without pay. They don’t get paid to vacuum their rooms, bring their dirty clothes to the laundry room, or sweep up the cereal they spilled all over the kitchen floor. Things like those are expected and required but not paid for. There is no allowance.
On the weekend, we also have a family cleanup. Parents and kids alike all start cleaning the house from top to bottom. Either Mom or Dad is captain and we give out the orders. Carpets are vacuumed, loose toys are put away, dishes are brought to the kitchen, countertops are cleaned off, shelves are dusted, library books are re-stacked, etc. During garden season someone is required to go water. No one is paid for this group cleaning. This is part of the responsibility we have as a family and a team to take care of our home. The great thing about it though it that is takes 10-15 minutes we because we are working as a team.
Okay so maybe it sounds like I don’t agree with pay for chores huh?
No, no. I do. The kids can all do extra work if they so choose, to earn money. My 15 year old actually earns a nice chunk of money weekly. He fully cleans the kitchen and does all the dishes daily. He takes out the garbage and the compost. He mops the hardwood floors. He cleans all three bathrooms and scrubs the toilets and showers. For this and more he earns money to pay for the extras he has in his life that mom and dad will not pay for…like an iPhone. He also saves up money for larger ticket items he wants, like his crossbow and all the fishing gear he has. At the moment he is saving for his first car.
My middle child will do all the laundry for pay, though right now she is not consistent about it. When she too is old enough in mom’s estimation to have a smartphone she too will be required to earn the money for it. For her and for my youngest I think this chore chart would be a great way for them to earn some money and to get a few extras around the house taken care of.
It teaches them responsibility either way in my opinion. They are learning just by living in our household that cleaning and maintaining the house has to be done. They are also learning work ethic by working for pay. They are learning that they can work hard and earn money. They are learning that their work has to meet certain standards. They are learning to pay for their own wants because someday they WILL have to pay for their own wants and their own needs.
We really only gift them with things for birthdays and holidays. Other wants can be had if they work for them. They have a source of income if they want it and therefore a method to pay for the things they want. That is responsibility. This chart I think will be good for my two youngest who don’t have the desire to do regular weekly work like their older brother. It would give them the opportunity to earn a little bit here and there when they want to.
I think I have found a good balance in our family. After all, their main job right now is to go to school and give me a good solid effort there. Then they have some responsibilities at home that need to be met without pay and whenever they want to do them, as long as they get done. Then we have some overtime work-for-pay available and it works well in our house if my oldest is any indication. That kid has hustle and some serious work ethic. That is the goal right?
You lovingly pack your child’s lunch for school each day. You fill that adorable Frozen or Transformers lunch box that you bought from a big box store with healthy items, tasty treats and enough nutrition to get them through the day. Unfortunately, that adorable lunch box may be leaching chemicals into their food and actually hindering their learning experience – the exact opposite of what you are trying to accomplish when you pack it. Here are a few safe lunchbox alternatives, lead free and still completely adorable.
What makes some lunch boxes less than desirable?
In short, a large percentage of lunch boxes contain lead or they leach other harmful chemicals. This means your child may be eating their sandwich you lovingly made that morning while also consuming dangerous levels of lead with their PB&J. Many of the culprits are vinyl lunchboxes made by major lunchbox manufacturers and sold at standard retail outlets. Lead causes behavioral and learning problems and prolonged exposure can lead to cancer and death. Many plastic lunchboxes have BPA or PVC in close contact with food which is also never a good idea. BPA or Bisphenol A is a hormone mimicking chemical that can cause a lot of health problems for children.
What Can You Do?
Buy safer plastic lunch boxes or stainless steel. Many children are image conscious or prefer to have notable characters on their lunchboxes. Be it Spiderman, Elsa from Frozen, or My Little Ponies, they want the image on their lunchbox. No matter how cute and adorable they are I cannot get behind purchasing potentially harmful products. I think I have found some lunch boxes and bags your kids may like just as much. They are safe lunchbox alternatives and will be sure to make you AND your kids happy. Check them out below.
Crocodile Creek LunchBoxes
These are pretty snazzy lookings bags and they are safe for kiddos. In fact Crocodile Creek is one of those names I know I can trust as a mom. Their lunch boxes are PVC free, Phthalate free, BPA free, and Vinyl free. Seriously how much more could you want?? Well, they are cute too. The T-Rex lunchbox is adorable but they have many other options too and all are colorful, fun, and appealing to kids.
This is the system that I used with all three of my kiddos. I even have one myself. Laptop Lunches features removable inner containers that can accommodate a variety of food sizes. The tray-like feel makes lunch exciting for kids and keeps things separate. Sealable lid prevents wet foods from leaking onto other foods. Dip container for sauces, salad dressings, and dips makes eating vegetables fun. Made in the USA using high quality materials. BPA, PVC and Lead Free.
We have several of these. Mom, dad, and kiddos all use them. We have Uno, Duos, Trios, and Quads…anywhere from one to four separate areas for food. They are so versatile, you just grab what you need for what you are packing that day, you just need a bag to put them and if you have more than one, you can rubber band them together for security. They are great for little kiddo snacks (like Pre-K) or for older kids who don’t want an actual lunchbox anymore and would prefer a reusable bag/sack. Plastic free, BPA free.
Bixbee Kids Lunchbox
These lunchboxes are made from PVC-free, phthalate-free, lead-free and BPA-free canvas. They are insulated and they have a nifty pocket in the front for notes form home, napkins, or reusable utensils. They are sturdy and nice looking too. I like the shark camo print on the right but they also have green dinosaurs, pink leopard spots, and other lovely prints.
Link Love List!
Toxic toothpaste????! No, I am not talking about tainted toothpaste from China. I am talking about pretty much all children’s toothpaste you find at conventional grocery stores. It is nasty. You don’t want to buy any of it.
I forgot to buy my usual kids toothpaste awhile back and I go through the stuff like water with one child who likes to squirt it on mirrors, toilets, light switches….you name it. This is a problem because they won’t use my toothpaste…they say it is too hot for them and they won’t use homemade either (too chunky). So when my kids and I were at Kroger I gave in to their request for some of that sugary, rainbow colored toothpaste that is for kids. I had a knot in my stomach but I said yes and when I got home to check the ingredients I could have slapped myself. I returned it.
The Makings of Toxic Toothpaste:
D&C red dye #30 and FD&C blue #1 lake – There is nothing like crude oil in your kids toothpaste right? Well these dyes are derived from petroleum or coal tar. Over several decades of use, some of these synthetic dyes have come under greater scientific and government scrutiny due to their carcinogenic and mutagenic activity. Because of this, they are still referred to in the industry as coal tar dyes, according to the FDA. Remember red dye #2 or as it was called before it was banned, the dye of death? I guess red dye #30 is perfectly safe though right? NOT!
Some studies indicate that FD & C Blue Dyes 1 & 2 can trigger a wide number of behavioral, learning, and health problems. FD&C color dyes may also cause potentially severe allergic reactions, asthma attacks, headaches, nausea, lack of concentration, and cancer.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) – This is the ingredient that gives toothpaste (and TONS of other personal care products) their foaming ability. This same stuff is widely used to degrease cars too. Even more scary is that when companies have healing cremes or products they need to test on irritated skin, SLS is the irritant they choose to rub on the skin of humans and animals to see if they then “heal” it with their new product.
The journal of the American College of Toxicology reports that SLS can penetrate and be retained in the eye, brain, heart, and liver with potentially harmful long-term effects.
Flouride – This is not the beneficial additive that it is touted to be. In fact Dr. Mercola has stated that there is enough fluoride in a typical toothpaste tube to kill two small children if they consumed the whole tube at once. Since typical toothpaste for kids tastes like candy this is not hard to see happening either.
Also according to the Fluoride Action Network, no disease has ever been linked to a fluoride deficiency. Humans can have perfectly good teeth without fluoride.
Now we all tell our kids not to swallow the toothpaste but they contain very small molecules that may penetrate through the mucous membranes in the mouth, enter the blood stream, and build up in the liver, kidneys, heart, lungs, and tissues.
Carrageenan – This is used as a gelling, thickening agent. It actually comes from edible seaweed so it sounds like an awesome, natural ingredient at first. In actuality though it is highly processed in a lab, it loses it’s beneficial properties, and even becomes harmful. Thanks to research conducted by Joanne K. Tobacman, M.D., at the University of Illinois College of Medicine it has been associated with stomach problems, intestinal ulcerations, and the promotion of cancer.
Some healthier toothpaste alternatives are listed below. With all these options you are sure to find something your kids will like and use, and that you won’t feel bad about buying.
KidScents Slique Toothpaste – Available through Young Living. No fluoride, dyes, synthetic colors, artificial flavors, or preservatives. The base is coconut oil and baking soda.
Jack N’ Jill Natural Toothpaste – organic calendula to soothe gums, organic natural blueberry flavor, fluoride free, sugar free, color free, SLS free, no preservatives.
Xlear Spry Kid’s Tooth Gel – No fluoride, SLS, or glycerin for parents also trying to avoid that ingredient.
Weleda Toothpaste, Children’s Tooth Gel – Does not contain fluoride, detergents, synthetic fragrances, colors, and preservatives. Ingredients include: glycerin, water, hydrated silica, calendula officinalis flower extract, algin, foeniculum vulgare (fennel) oil, mentha viridis (spearmint) oil, esculin.
Enamel Saver it is designed for kids and has no SLS.
Natural dentist kids sparkle berry blast – A great toothpaste.
Also check out:
A child misbehaves by poking, kicking or similarly assaulting another child. The parent grabs him by the arm and slaps him for hitting that child. Hmm… what’s wrong with this picture? Is this effective parenting or something else?
Or maybe a child runs into the street after their parent just told them not too. So the parent drags them into the house by the arm and paddles their backside telling them that they “could” have been hurt. Of course the child is fairly certain they did just get hurt… by their mom or dad…. not by a car in the street. Again… is spanking teaching kids what we think it does???
Spanking teaches children that violence is the solution to problems. It also teaches children that it is okay to use physical violence to control other people and situations. Spanking teaches kids that it is okay to hit the people you love. Spanking teaches them nothing that will be useful or helpful in their adult lives or that will help them to communicate with other people.
Usually when parents talk about discipline they are talking about behavior that they would like to correct in their children. But what is forcing them to do what we want by creating “painful” consequences really teaching them? There is no better way to teach our children then to behave in a way that is considered respectful, fair and appropriate. We need to model the behavior we want our kids to adopt. Slapping or spanking a child is a behavior not considered respectful or even civil so why would we want to subject children to such “behavior”?
Most parents would agree with this simple logic but yet they still spank. Why? Perhaps it is because they were spanked themselves; hence they simply model the behavior of their own parents. Many times though, parents spank because they can’t figure out what else to do. Spanking is quick and usually addresses the problem immediately. Talking, reasoning, teaching, and empathizing all sound good… but they also sound emotionally draining and time consuming. Spanking is easier sure but is it the best way to teach a child? I don’t think so. Many non-spankers have come to call their parenting style the “Get Off Your Butt” method. Parenting is tough and spanking is a weak recourse that is used when you don’t know how to handle a situation.
Our children deserve the best …they deserve parents that have learned creative ways to teach and discipline without resorting to corporal punishment. They deserve parents with a more peaceful approach to discipline.
Why Spanking Doesn’t Work
There are many advocates for corporal punishment (spanking) that argue that children who misbehave (or seriously misbehave) will only respond to spanking and that parents who do not spank such kids “spoil” them. As stated above, spanking teaches kids that violence is a good way to handle difficult situations.
One of TV’s more popular advice experts, psychologist Dr. Phil McGraw, notes on his website (www.drphil.com) that research has shown that “long-term consequences of spanking can include increased aggressiveness, antisocial behavior, and delinquency.”
No matter what immediate benefits that spanking may bring (stopping the misbehavior) to the parents, do they also want to accept the potential long term and disastrous consequences?
In many cases parents spank because they simply don’t have any ideas or approaches to stop the misbehavior that do not include spanking. Many parents simply raise their children in the manner that they were raised. Often times parents do things without even being aware that they are repeating a behavior they were taught as a child.
So how do parents break the “spanking cycle”? A good way is to become informed about the alternative ways of discipline. These alternatives may be more time consuming and frustrating but on one ever said parenting was easy.
Take the time to talk to your child. It may take a while for your child to respond to “talking” but with consistency and firmness in your approach it can be a much more satisfying and educational moment for both you and your child.
Whether the child is 3 or 9, taking the time to express and communicate your displeasure with a behavior is a rich learning moment. It may not feel that way at the time, but by honesty and sincerely expressing your discontent in language that reaches your child, you are showing real concern and engaging your child in a way that teaches him respect and good communication.
The consistent show of respect and patience in listening to your child explain his behavior will teach your child the importance of dignity and compassion during those times when it matters most.
You will be exhausted and it will take likely far greater effort than a spanking, but the benefit will far outweigh the inconvenience of fatigue. You don’t have to be perfect as a parent; you just have to be willing to take each disciplinary experience as a learning one for you and your child. They kids may not be the only ones who needs to learn a thing or two.
Spanking Is NOT Biblical
There is a very large faction of parents that spank their children for religious reasons. They believe that God WANTS them to spank their children. The Bible has lots of excellent advice for parenting and family but the decree from God to spank our children just isn’t there. Christians who opt to spank their kids need to realize that their actions are NOT sanctioned by any passages in the Bible. The decision to spank is a personal parenting decision and nothing more. Don’t use the Bible as justification.
Christians have been taught for years that the scripture at Prov. 13:24 proves that spanking is approved of and even endorsed in the Bible.
He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him – Prov. 13:24, New International Version
There are four basic reasons why using this scripture as evidence that God WANTS us to spank children is pure foolishness.
1. The word rod can literally be translated as a stick or a staff. The “assumption” is that this must be a weapon for hitting but yet when we look at other instances where this word is used we see a rod is NOT a weapon or a hitting implement. The word rod is also used in reference to shepherds. They use rods to guide their sheep and to help lift them when they get stuck or tangled. Shepards did not “hit” their sheep with these rods. If anything we should take the use of the word rod to mean we need to guide our kids, help them when they get lost, and lead them in the way they should go like a shepherd leads their flock.
2. The word discipline comes from the root word disciple. A disciple follows the teachings of someone and to discipline would be to TEACH. Somewhere along the way, various churches and translation groups have decided to make discipline synonymous with punishment and chastisement but the word actually refers to teaching. So when we read in the Bible that we must not withhold discipline it is saying we should not withhold our instruction and guidance. We should not allow our kids to run wild with no parental instruction. A loving parent will teach and guide their child and not leave them to their own devices.
3. This scripture is often changed in various Bible translations. The version you see above is a very close translation, however many other Bible translations have changed the verse to say things like “He who beats his son, loves his son” and “Whoever refuses to spank his son hates him”. How can you trust your Bible or your minister when they have changed the meaning of the scriptures like that?
4. The verse at Proverbs was written by King Solomon who had 700 wives and was not the best example to follow. If we want an example to imitate we should imitate the greatest teacher of all time… Jesus Christ. He disciplined in love and kindness and there are many passages that show how he related to children and he never hit them once.
In short, spanking is not endorsed or suggested in the Bible as many believe. Spanking is not a Biblical directive and Christians need to be aware of that. If anything, spanking does not fit within the overall theme of the Bible. How does causing physcial pain to your child compare to love, being long suffering, kindness, being slow to anger, turning the other cheek, etc? It doesn’t fit and it doesn’t make sense that the Bible or God would endorse spanking.
Now Hold On There Just a Minute…
You may be reading this lens and thinking to yourself that YOU know some parents who have chosen not to spank and their kids are a bunch of wild brats! How do I know this? Well, as a non-spanking parent this is exactly what I hear from other parents, ALL THE TIME. Everyone knows a guy, who knows a guy, whose knows someone, who doesn’t spank, and their kids are straight from the devil!!
Please understand that choosing not to spank does not mean you are choosing to not parent effectively. Adopting a more respectful and peaceful parenting style is not synonymous with lazy, uninvolved parenting. And there ARE many lazy uninvolved parents out there but attachment parents are not among them. There are many parents who may choose not spank because they themselves were spanked or abused as kids. Unfortunately many take it a bit too far and withhold any type of guidance that may be “perceived” by their kids as controlling or authoritarian. They are more concerned with being a friend to their child than being a parent and these kids will often learn that it is they, not their parents, who control the family dynamic and call the shots. Still other parents who do not spank have not consciously chosen NOT too… they just avoid any issues that require effort on their part. It is easier for them to allow their kids to do as they please rather than try to discipline. These parents are not humanitarians… they are just lazy.
Parents who consciously choose a more respectful and peaceful way to co-exist with their kids, such as attachment parents, have chosen not to spank for all the reasons listed on this lens. But they do not allow the family dynamic to be altered so much that the kids run the show and they become the helpless audience. They work with their kids to find compromise that the whole family can live with, they communicate and develop and attachment to their kids so that their kids trust them and confide in them. The children know their needs will be met so they have few reasons to rebel or act out. They do not see control and manipulation being modeled by their parents and so it is not something they see as advantageous to them.
So in short… NO… our kids are not wild, disrespectful brats and here is why. Key aspects of peaceful, attached, connected parenting include:
* Encouraging positive behavior
* Having realistic expectations and an understanding of age appropriate behaviors
* Expression of feelings through words rather than actions
* Helping children to learn acceptable ways to express excitement and frustration
* Using positive communication skills
* Motivating your children through love not fear or intimidation
* Empowering children by acknowledging their ability to assume responsibilities and make decisions
* Disciplining as a teaching method – not as punishment or a coercion tactic
* Helping children to understand that mistakes are inevitable and love is not conditional
* Resolving conflicts in a respectful and peaceful way
* Creating a safe and engaging environment for our children
* Creating a positive learning environment
* Creating a stress free, enjoyable atmosphere for the whole family
Tell Me… What Best Describes Your Parenting Style
- Authoritarian – I am the boss and I spank when needed
- Authoritative – Talking before spanking but I am still boss
- Permissive – Don’t spank but don’t discipline much either
- Attached – No spanking, lots of comminication, redirection
- Purely Peacfeul – We treat our kids as we would want to be treated
For more info I highly encourage you to check this awesome infographic on the topic!
Image Source: Online-Psychology-Degrees.org/