Conversations Count: Talking Never Goes Out of Style

Were you one of the many who read last week’s blogs here and here? Thanks so much! I loved sharing with you that play is valuable. We must never forget it. Playing seems old-fashioned to many, but it will always be valuable. Always!

Did you catch something else that I included in both blogs? Interactions between children and parents have the same positive effects as play. Talking matters. It, too, should never be out of style. Conversations count.

When reading recently about young children’s television viewing habits and use of games and apps for learning, I was struck by these truths: The chief factor that helps young children learn from commercial media and educational games/apps is parents watching with them and reteaching the content. When parents engage with their children when they’re using technology, the children reap the most benefit from what they view and what they do.

Parents matter. Be involved. Listen. Talk. Point to the pictures. Laugh. Reread. Explain.

Like me, do you see many young children (sometimes very young!) using technology on their own? Little children with a parent’s old phone, tapping and swiping and even smiling? None of this guarantees learning will last. They may know their ABC’s in that moment or that a cat makes a certain sound, but it doesn’t mean any of that will last.

I’m concerned that parents may rely on these encounters and not sit with their children to learn the basics in other ways. They may have a rude awakening in the future.

As I wrote last week, taking breaks from technology regularly for other kinds of play experiences is very valuable. When you do let your children use technology, use it together and talk with them. Interact with them when you do things together. Repeat. Use it together and talk with them. Interact with them when you do things together. Repeat.

How do you want children to feel? What feelings do you want them to have? Secure? Known? Loved? Capable? Smart? Dr. Kathy will help you think about how you can parent or teach to make it more likely children will feel what you want them to. She suggests how you can involve the children.

Even More Good Reasons To Take a Tech Break!

Would you like more good news?

On Monday, I shared that kids can learn impulse control and self-regulation by playing and interacting with their parents. This has maybe never been more important since using lots of technology delays the development of both.

There are more reasons to play with children and teens. Skills essential for school success that are part of the executive functioning part of the brain are affected.

Do you want your children to be successful with these skills?

  • Creative thinking – able to think of ideas and answers that aren’t obvious
  • Flexible thinking – able to connect ideas uniquely that don’t automatically appear to go together
  • Higher-order thinking – able to analyze, synthesize, predict, evaluate, infer, interpret, and reflect
  • Task persistence – able to stay the course and complete work independently
  • Emotion regulation – able to identify emotional responses, respond to people and situations with appropriate/healthy emotions, and not be controlled by them

I imagine you want children to have these skills. There are two things to do:

  • Play with your children; don’t just watch them play. Social and unstructured play that does not involve digital devices engages and improves these skills.
  • Talk with your children. Parent-child interactions are essential. Talking while running errands, completing chores, playing, hanging out together, and the like will enhance these executive functioning skills.

Have you had a similar thought to mine while reading the skill list? I know adults who need these skills. Maybe playing and conversational interactions with others would help us all.

As I wrote on Monday … Play and talk with your kids. Interact with them when you do things together. Take breaks from technology regularly. Repeat. Play and talk with your kids. Interact with them when you do things together. Take breaks from technology regularly. Repeat.

Take a Tech Break! Play, Talk, and Interact Instead

78% of the parents surveyed in a new study by Barna Research, in cooperation with Andy Crouch, indicated raising their kids today is more complicated than when their parents raised them. Technology was the number one reason they listed. Do you agree?

Let me share a probable reason and some suggestions to help.

The use of technology delays the development of the brain’s executive functioning. This includes impulse control and the ability to self-regulate. That’s why children are more likely to just do what they want, without thinking. And, they have a hard time managing themselves. Planning is hard and they may not be able to judge if they’ve done a good job on a task.

Certainly, this makes parenting harder because the kids aren’t as obedient or as successful.

What can we do? I’ve got great news!

Both impulse control and self-regulating are best learned and taught through play (non-digital, of course!) and by interacting with parents.

Play and talk with your kids. Interact with them when you do things together. Take breaks from technology regularly. Repeat. Play and talk with your kids. Interact with them when you do things together. Take breaks from technology regularly. Repeat. Play and talk with your kids. Interact with them when you do things together. Take breaks from technology regularly. Repeat.

Not all difficult situations need difficult solutions. Praise God!

Feelings influence behavior so they’re important to talk with children about. We can help them name them and understand them. Dr. Kathy shares how to ask about them at the end of the day. You’ll benefit!

Contentment & Happiness by Steve Baker

Today I’m posting a devotional from the book Steve Baker wrote. As a dad, grandfather, and Christian school administrator, he wrote the devotionals in O Taste and See to encourage parents and children to learn from God’s Word together. Each is related to one or more of the core needs I teach about often and that are taught in my book, Finding Authentic Hope and Wholeness. He has seen their importance and wanted devotionals as another way of helping children meet the needs in healthy ways.

I chose to post a devotional about contentment because I’m so concerned with the lack of contentment that I see in children and adults. Steve wrote this about Achan: “He had to have what he wanted now. He could not be content to wait.” Does that remind you of anyone you know.

After you read this, I encourage you to share it with your children.

Contentment & Happiness by Steve Baker

CONTENTMENT – the state of being happy regardless of situations and satisfied; having no need of more.

“But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” 1 Timothy 6:8

Scripture Text: Joshua 7

Scripture tells us, “For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him,” Psalm 62:5. We are encouraged to look to God for our expectations and desires to be fulfilled. God made us with needs and wants. We all want to feel loved and appreciated. We need encouragement and help at times. When we look to other things or people to satisfy these needs, we leave God out of our life. This causes a discomfort, confusion, and sometimes disaster. God has a plan for our growth and maturity. If we truly trust Him, we must be content that His plan and the provision that He gives along the way are correct.

Joshua 7 tells the story of a man who doubted God’s provision and took matters into his own hands. He was not content to wait on God’s plan. The man’s name is Achan and his discontentment was costly.

God’s plan was simple: Trust Me and honor Me first and I will provide for you and protect you. Forty years before this story took place God had delivered His people, Israel, from Egypt. Achan and his family followed Moses, and then Joshua through the wilderness until God was ready to bring them into the land He had promised them. God’s people had seen God’s mighty hand of protection and provision many times. God provided food in the desert, water from a rock, and protection from enemies. Now the people entered the land and won the first battle over the great city of Jericho. After having seen all these events, you would think that Achan would have no doubt that God was worth trusting.

God commanded the people that all the spoils (valuables) from the battle of Jericho were to be considered holy. Everything was to be gathered as an offering to give to the Lord from this first battle. The spoils from later battles would be theirs. Trust and honor God first was a commandment that Achan struggled with that time.

After the battle at Jericho, Achan discovered a bar of gold, some beautiful pieces of silver, and a lovely garment. He knew that he should turn them in to the offering, but he could not wait for future spoils. Rather than honor God’s command, he kept those items for himself. Maybe he did not believe that God would give him what he wanted and needed in the battles to come. He decided not to trust God or honor God’s command. He had to have what he wanted now. He could not be content to wait.

Because of his disobedience and discontentment, God withdrew His protection from the people of Israel until they repented. In the next battle, they fought against the small village of Ai. The Israelites were defeated and many men lost their lives. God held Achan responsible for this. God led Joshua to bring judgment upon Achan and his family. Their sin cost the lives of innocent soldiers, so God had Achan and his family put to death.

God has promised to supply our every need. He has a plan for that provision, but He requires us to honor Him first. “Keep your life free from the love of money; and be content with what you have: for He has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you,” Hebrews 13:5.

Taste Test:

How hard is it for you to wait? Are you a child and can hardly wait until you are a teen? Or maybe as a teen, you can’t wait until you are old enough to be considered an adult with its privileges? Discontentment robs us of the moment.

  • Make a list of ‘wants’ that you have for the future when you get to the next ‘stage’ in life. (a car to drive, a girl/boyfriend, a secure job, college, a certain income) Interview an older Christian who has gone through many stages of life.
  • Ask if they experienced any dangers or blessings by waiting or not waiting on God.
  • Ask if they trusted God for their provision in areas where you have listed your wants.
  • How did it work out for them?

Scraping the Plate:

  • Read 1 Timothy 6:7-10. Allow the idea of verses 9- 10 to sink in.
  • Discuss the reason some fell away from the faith and have experienced many sorrows.
  • Compare that with Paul’s encouragement to Timothy in verses 17-19.

Country Fried Chicken and Mashed Potatoes:

We can trust that God has our best interest in mind and He has a plan to fulfill our needs. Contentment is a benefit of the security we possess as we walk in obedience to His commands.

Steve Baker has served in ministry for over thirty-five years and is currently finishing his masters in divinity. With his heart for discipleship, he has worked as a senior pastor, associate pastor, teacher, coach, and hospice chaplain. In 2010, God called him and his wife, Joyce, to help launch a University-Model school. He is currently the Principal of Summit Christian Academy in Boerne, Texas. Steve has a passion for families and mentoring believers to walk in this world humbly and boldly as warriors sharing the powerful message of the gospel to all people.

To have quality time with family and friends on Easter, being fully present and without technology may be necessary. Dr. Kathy shares four specific ideas to communicate to children. They’ll be very helpful and empowering!

To learn more about Dr. Kathy’s book “Screens and Teens: Connecting with Our Kids in a Wireless World” and the wide selection of resources provided by Celebrate Kids, please visit

Help Children Know What They Do Well So They Do Things Well

Differences between middle schoolers and high schoolers were obvious. Sadly, they almost always are.

During a recent chapel at an impressive Christian school, one group eagerly raised their hands to answer my questions. The other group did not. Can you predict which was which?

Who likes to write?

Who enjoys discovering truth on your own and exploring?

Who thinks body smart is one of your strengths?

More middle schoolers than high schoolers eagerly raised their hands. It’s not because high schoolers don’t know themselves. Most do. Rather, it was as if these students didn’t want anyone to know their strengths or that they liked anything. This should not be embarrassing.

Some high schoolers raised their hands high. Some raised them only in front of their faces and made eye contact with me and smiled. Others just made eye contact with me.

Talk with your children/students. Do they know their strengths and what they enjoy and don’t enjoy? If they don’t, observe them more closely and let them know what you see. Provide evidence for your opinions. Prioritize developing their self-awareness by strengthening their self-smartness.

If they do know what they enjoy and what they do well, but don’t want their peers to know, ask them why. Have they been teased? Embarrassed? Prideful? Talk about this with them. It’s good for peers to acknowledge friends’ strengths and interests. There are ways to encourage one another without building pride.

The night of the chapel talk I met many of the students’ parents at an event. Over and over again I heard how middle schoolers and high schoolers loved learning how they are smart. I thought high schoolers were definitely listening and enjoying the presentation. I was encouraged they told their parents about it and how they’re smart.

Young people who know their interests and strengths are more likely to use them and further develop them as a source of their joy. They’ll acknowledge they’re relevant to how they can leave the world a better place.

When they know how peers are talented, they can form groups for class projects, service projects, and more. They can identify who can help them with a weak area. They can identify who they can help. It’s good for the group dynamic.

Make sure your children/students know what they do well so they’ll do things well.

Empower Your Child, And Yourself, With A Quality Support System

The last five days have been unusual. It’s been hard to choose a blog topic because there’s so much I could write about. If you follow me on Facebook, you might have seen that my journey from Fort Worth to Mt Vernon, Ohio, to speak at two banquets for a pregnancy resource center was quite an adventure. Rather than flying to Columbus, Ohio, from Atlanta, I drove from Atlanta. Rather than arriving at 5:00 pm Wednesday night, I arrived ten minutes before the banquet began at 6:00 pm Thursday night.

After finally arriving, I enjoyed my time with the people from Knox Starting Point Pregnancy Resource Center. I then drove to Cincinnati for my nephew’s wedding. As I’m writing this blog on Sunday, I’m on my way to Minot, North Dakota, to speak at a Christian school. The adventure continues. My flight is delayed.

I’m not going to blog about all the frustrations. Remembering them won’t do anyone any good. Rather, what did I realize or observe?

I’m more convinced than ever that it’s absolutely necessary to have a quality support system. I hope you have one and if you don’t, I hope that you will take a risk, prioritize the quality of your life, and reach out to a few people. Ask them if they’ll be there for you in a time of need. Develop healthy, vulnerable relationships.

Do your children have a support system? Do they know who to turn to when they have questions? When they’re scared? When they are unsure of themselves? When they have practical needs? Do they know that you’ll be there for them whenever they need you?

Helping your children in this way and empowering them to ask for help may be among the most important things you do. They must know it doesn’t make them weak to need help. They must know it’s okay if they need someone to talk to when they’re scared or confused or frustrated.

I was in line at the Atlanta airport for three hours to try to rebook a flight to Columbus before everything was canceled and I had to rent a car. There were thousands of us stuck there because of the weather situation.

If I had not had the prayer support of many from Facebook and the support of staff, family, and friends I could text and call, I wouldn’t have handled it as well. I was overwhelmed even though I am used to traveling. I was more frustrated than I’ve been in a long time.

If the woman who hired me to speak at the banquets had not been available to me to help me think through options, it also would’ve been a much more challenging time. She stayed awake much longer than she intended to that night, checked into rental cars for me, and the next day stayed on hold with the airline for over an hour trying to find information about my suitcase. She and her staff then problem solved in a most unusual away so that my suitcase arrived in Mount Vernon before I did. They blessed me.

I observed the whole team support me and each other throughout my days there. You can support with simply physical presence. A smile at the right time. A question to help. A pat on the back and other forms of affirmation. Suggestions offered with humility. What else can you think of?

At my nephew’s wedding, there were many examples of support systems. Their wedding coordinator, the photographer and his team, the caterer, the DJ, and others Andy and Steph chose to serve them did their jobs well.

Family and friends who came from near and far were a support system. During the wedding ceremony, the pastor asked if we would support them. At one point in the ceremony, the groomsmen and bridesmaids surrounded Andy and Steph and prayed for them. It was a beautiful picture of the most important support system of all – a vibrant relationship with God and others that empowers us to pray to God on their behalf.

How does all of this make you feel? What are you thinking? Are you satisfied with support systems you have? If so, praise God! If not, I hope you may choose to reach out so you’re ready in a time of need. Ask God to show Himself faithful so you’ll be more encouraged to lean on Him.

In last week’s video, Dr. Kathy explained the lie that young people think information is all they need. As a result, they think they don’t need teachers. Hopefully you’ve benefitted from her ideas. This week, she shares how we can help teens dig deep and arrive at knowledge and wisdom.

To learn more about Dr. Kathy’s book “Screens and Teens: Connecting with Our Kids in a Wireless World” and the wide selection of resources provided by Celebrate Kids, please visit