Monthly Archives: September 2011

The Power of #DevelopmentalAssets

Last week I had a staff training at my after school job and it was nice to see the Y focusing on the 40 developmental assets. My supervisor presented a pretty interesting video on how simple everyday positive experiences can help kids and teens develop values and skills to avoid risky behaviors and thrive in life.

That’s pretty much what the 40 developmental assets are. They represent everyday wisdom about positive experiences and characteristics for young people. Research has found that these assets are powerful influences on adolescent behavior—both protecting young people from many different risky behaviors, and promoting positive attitudes and actions.

There are many ways you can start building assets for the children and youth around you. Whether they’re in your family, school, or community, Search Institute has resources you can use to create a better world for kids.

The Developmental Assets are divided in different age groups and you can check them out HERE. You will see that there are external and internal assets. The external ones are those that focus on the child relationships with other children and adults in different daily scenarios. The internal assets focus on the child’s feelings about herself.

Knowing all the assets and making sure your child  is exposed to them can be a fantastic tool for any parent to make sure his child has what it takes to become a happy, healthy and successful adult.

For more on the 40 developmental assets visit the Search Institute website. Just click HERE. And also watch the video below on the power of the 40 Developmental Assets:


Police will try to retrace #forestboy ‘s steps to find his father’s body

I was searching for interesting topics for this Monday’s blog post when I came across this crazy story about this son who lived with his father in the woods across Europe with his father.

Instead of trying to explain the story with my own words (which would not be really easy) I’ll just paste part of the article from the Daily Mail:

“German police are trying to retrace the steps of the English speaking ‘forest boy’ in an attempt to find his father’s body.

They are also investigating reports that the teenager may have criss-crossed Europe during the five years he says he spent living rough in forests with his father.

The boy, who is estimated to be 17, says his name is Ray but has little other idea who he is. He arrived in Berlin on September 5, carrying only a rucksack, tent and sleeping bag.

He claimed his father Ryan had taken him into the woods south of the German capital five years ago after his mother Doreen died in a car crash, and they had lived there ever since.

The boy said his father had died after a fall and he had buried him in a shallow grave before heading north to Berlin, as his father had instructed him to do in the case of an emergency.

Police are baffled by the case. Although officers have been unable to locate the grave or establish how the father died, they say the boy’s story so far checks out. A German police spokesman said: ‘What we can say for sure is that we have found nothing at all to disprove the story almost two weeks on.”

Wow, can you imagine it?

This is a computer generated picture of “Ray” that has been posted in websites across the globe.

Raise your hand if you think child obesity is #kindofabigdeal

I work two jobs in two different schools every day. Monday through Friday. A junior high and a elementary school. September is “fight child obesity month” and everyday I see 7-year old children and 13-year old teens dealing with body sizes that are simply not healthy for them. Child obesity is not just kind of a big deal, it is probably the  issue that will keep this country from raising their health standards in the future.

But there are some simple ways to avoid and to get our kids back on track.And please, no excuses.

A quick google search brought me some cool ideas for exercises for kids of ANY age. Simple drills that can be made into fun challenges and games.

  • animal walking: pretend you’re in the jungle. Tell your kid you’re BOTH are going to pretend to be animals and you have to walk like them. Be creative. Lion, bear, snake, kangaroo, spider, tiger, elephant, giraffe, etc… all these animal types of walks (crawling, hopping, stretching…) can provide a simple, fun and efficient workout.
  • dancing hour: we do this one quite often here at home and it’s a blast. Some old school hip hop on the “gheto blaster” and Lucas all of a sudden becomes a breakdancer. Country music, rock and roll, classical… mix it up and have your child try different styles of dancing. It’s not only fun but it’s also a way to bring music in their lives.
  • sports: a game of catch, kicking the soccer ball around, shooting some hoops. Take your child to a park and enjoy some dad and son (or dad and daughter) time playing their favorite sport. If they don’t have a favorite sport yet maybe it’s a good time to introduce them to different ones. Try one each day and see what they like. But don’t force them to perform like super athletes. It’s more about getting them moving and having a good time.
  • the playground: there are some good parks all over the country. It’s really cool to see your child interact with other children and run around, jump over stuff, climb. Don’t be afraid to see them take a few tumbles, just make sure they’re relatively safe and let them enjoy.

I mean, there are a lot of options to get them off the TV or the video-games. Even those can provide some help. Today there are TV shows and some video-games that either motivate our children to exercise or actually make them do it. For the little ones you can try Yo-Gabba-Gabba. A TV shows that gets them off the couch and tells them to dance and get their wiggles out. And the Wii was a pioneer of interactive games and went even father by creating the Wii Fit. But now there are also other options out there.

Whatever you choose to do just keep this in mind: active kids make healthy adults.

Have a wonderful weekend,


What about turning the TV and the video-game off for 45 minutes and playing outside

Oops… Sorry… and a quick potty training tip

Hey everyone,

Sorry this post is coming this late. It’s actually not going to be a post about anything in particular so I’d like to apologize. I play soccer on Wednesday’s nights and I should’ve prepared something last night so it could’ve been published this morning but I didn’t. My bad. Maybe this cute picture we’ll make things better between me and my 50,000 daily readers (LOL).

Just quickly though; I got a digital kitchen timer to help remind Lucas to use to the potty. It’s starting to work. If you’re still struggling with ideas to help potty train your little one this could be a good one to try. Just set it for 20 or 30 minutes and when it beeps it’s time for him/her to sit on the potty for about 5 to 10 minutes.

See you all on Friday.


Super Dad in the Kitchen: Pear Bread

Alright folks. I’m back in the kitchen after a couple of weeks without trying to cook anything new. It’s been really tough to have time to look for an interesting recipe and try it out. Last night as I was cooking some simple pasta for dinner I noticed some pears my wife had brought back from her parents house. I though about making poached pears. I had never made it but I’ve seen in some cooking tv shows and it looks good. But as I check the recipe it asked for cranberry juice and we didn’t have any kind of juice in the fridge.

Then I spot a recipe for a pear bread. That caught my attention. It looked delicious and at the same time challenging as I had never even thought of something like that. So I pretty much copied the entire recipe from just using Stevia instead of sugar (so it’s sugar free), walnuts instead of pecans and I added some raising too.

So, let’s get to the recipe:


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

    It looks good

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup Stevia* (or 2 cups of sugar)
  • 2 cups peeled shredded pears
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts* (or pecans)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract


  1. In a large mixing bowl combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Make a well in the center of the bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl combine the oil, eggs, sugar, grated pears, pecans, and vanilla. Blend well. Add to well of dry ingredients. Stir until just moistened. Spoon batter into 2 greased and floured 8x5x3 inch loaf pans.
  3. Bake in a preheated 325 degree F (165 degrees C) oven for one hour and 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack before removing from the loaf pans.


PS.: I still don’t know if it worked or not. I prepared it last night and left it cooling to eat this morning but I won’t have time to write after breakfast so tonight, when I come home from work I’ll update this paragraph.

I just couldn’t resist and I just eat a piece of it. It tastes really good, however, the consistency is not as firm as I wanted. I did follow the recipe with the exception of the sugar. I don’t know if using Stevia is what made it crumbly but, oh well, we’ll still eat it because it does taste delicious.




Do you still remember your kid’s first birthday? #nowordsneeded

Somebody is not too happy (thank god it's not Lucas)


Here comes the cake


Sugar stoned!


Happiness is made of great single moments

Cell phone for kids. Pros and cons. #kidsthesedays

Lucas is 3 and he knows exactly what a cell phone is for (in the basic sense of it), how to unlock it and he also knows that my wife’s iPhone is a lot more fun than my (very) old sony-ericsson. I’m sure he’ll start asking for his own cell phone by age six. And from that point on it will be a matter of time until he gets it. I’m predicting we’ll give in when he’s eleven.

It’s very funny to think that when I was eleven I could only dream of phones fitting the palm of my hand and being carried everywhere. Texting, web-browsing, mp3 player weren’t even part of my phone of the future ideas. But times change fast, very fast and I would be stupid to think that it’ll be possible to keep my sons from having their own phones for too long. When is the right time to do it then?

Well, the good thing is that nowadays phone companies offer an array of products and services directed to children (and their parents). You can add a line to your plan for a very low price (sometimes even for free) and you can limit what that new line can and cannot do. All of that can and must be done by you. I’m not 100% sure but I believe you can control every detail of your kids phone line at the cell phone company’s website and if not just ask the salesperson when you purchase the device.

Some things to consider before getting your child a cell phone:


  • On the positive side, some kiddie cell phones have parental controls. For example, the Firefly cell phone requires a parent to use a PIN number to enter the phone numbers that the child will be able call.
  • Some phones come with a GPS system to help parents find out the whereabouts of their kids.
  • Even the fact of phones having cameras can be a security factor. There’s been cases of kids scaring away pervs by taking their picture.
  • On the flip side, older teens can take advantage of web-enabled phone to check out sites they shouldn’t be visiting.


About two years ago a teenage girl from Wyoming shocked her parents with a phone bill of over $4.7 thousand dollars. $4,756.25 to be more specific. And you probably guessed it right, most of it came from the over 10,000 text messages the 13-year old sent to her BFFs. For whatever reason her parents decided not to get an unlimited text plan, and thought texting was disabled on their daughter’s phone.

Like I mentioned before on my post about teenage rebelliousness, teens tend to find ways to please their friends and fit in as a path to freedom from parental control. It’s just the way it is. But there are some things you can do to avoid being huge bills for your kid’s phone:

Search  and ask for all the options to control the costs.

Unlimited texting and browsing if that’s the way you want go. Remember that this can interfere with your kid’s academic success.

Pre-established texting and calling limits for that line. That’s the way I would go. You can either choose a pre-paid plan or ask if your phone provider has a “hybrid” family plan to adapt to the usage limits you want for your kid.

But no matter what it’s still your job to teach your kid’s how to responsibly manage  his phone usage. And make sure you hold him accountable for breaking the rules. Take the phone away the first time and every time a rule is broken and you’ll be helping your child learn a very valuable lesson about responsibility, trust and financial conscience.



The rebellious teenage years. Your parents #MadeItWork so can you.

It seems that the main task of pre-teen or teenage sons or daughters is to free themselves from their parents as much as they can. It’s a step they need to take to cross that bridge between childhood and becoming a young adult. For that to happen they feel they need to leave behind all things that used to bond them with mommy and daddy. According to specialists this transition comes with a good dosage of rebelliousness, confusion, restlessness, doubts, attitudes, mood swings, etc… The emotions are normally over the top. And, just like when he or she entered those infamous terrible two’s, this new teenage behavior can last a good couple of years (but don’t be surprise if it extends for longer, let’s say, the whole “teen” years).

So what can you do to smooth the bruises that those teenage years can leave in your relationship with your son/daughter?

Here are some psychologists’ tips that may help.

1.Treat him/her as a young adult friend.

When your son/daughter turns twelve start working on establishing the relationship you want to have with him/her when (s)he’s becomes an adult. Treat him/her with the same respect you would expect from a young adult and expect the same in return. Mutual respect, support and having fun together should be among the main goals of your relationship.

Try having informal long conversations about various topics. Go for a walk or a bike ride or some other activity and talk as if you’re talking to a younger friend. Your son/daughter still looks up to you but won’t buy anything you preach as a father anymore so try to have conversations, dialogues, instead of lectures.

Here is a tough one. Recognize and sympathize with your son’s/daughter’s feeling without criticizing or judging them. You can make comments but remember that listening doesn’t necessary include solving the problem for them, or worse, telling them what to do.

2. Avoid criticism in situations where there won’t be a “winner”

Many problems between parents and teenagers happen because of criticism. Parents need to remember that almost every new behavior from their teenagers that they disapprove is nothing but an attempt to fit in with their group of friends. Being part of a group of friends is very important step in their development. Their clothing, hair style, slangs, music, bedroom decor, makeup, political view, religion, etc… are all part of this new discoveries they’re trying to make about themselves. Once again remember that the more you criticize the taller the wall between you two will be.

Obviously keep an eye open for extremes such as symptoms of alcohol or drug use, promiscuity, criminal behavior, etc.

3. Let the social rules and consequences teach your teenager a few lessons outside the house

No parent wants to see their child in trouble. But over protecting your teenager will only sugarcoat the outside world for him and we all know the “real world” is not made of cotton candy. Let your teenager experiment life. If he/she has a job or is part of a social group or a sports team or just goes to school let the boss, group leader, the coach or teacher do his part in educating your teenager in real life  situations and consequences. Do not interfere. Do not “save” your child from breaking a rule in his social activities out of the house. You need to remember that once they turn eighteen or when they leave your house they will have to face and deal with lots of ups and downs of life without you being there all the time so let them “practice”.

When it comes to friendships it’s a touchy subject. You want to make sure you’re giving your teenager the freedom to choose his/her friends but you still want to be able to keep them safe and away from drugs, alcohol, risky sexual behavior, criminal activities, etc. This is when those conversations over a cup of coffee at your (or his) favorite coffee shop are for. Try touching the subject in a light but serious way. I personally would tell him/her that it would be really heartbreaking to see my best friend in jail, in a hospital bed or dead because someone else convinced him/her to do something dangerous. I would never forgive myself for letting this happen to a friend.

Hopefully your teenager will ask you for some advice regarding his/her outside the house activities. If that’s the case try describing the pros and cons of the situation. Be brief and impartial. Ask him/her questions that will bring up the risks and the consequences. Then you can wrap it up by saying “you should do what’s you think is the right choice for you”.

4. Make sure that the rules of the house are clear and the consequences too.

It’s your right and responsibility as a parent to set the rules regarding your home and the consequences from breaking those rules. Your teenager’s personal preference can be tolerated in his bedroom as long as it doesn’t interfere with the rest of the house. Remind your teen that (s)he can do anything as long as it’s not a problem for someone else. For example they should be able to listen to their music in the living room’s like anyone else but the volume level needs to be acceptable for everyone else.

You can also limit phone calls and friends visits. Also make sure you make some basic rules for parties and areas where your teenager and his/her friends can eat. Clean up themselves should be among those rules.

You already respecting your teenager his/her personal space by letting him/her decorate the bedroom with his/her own style but you, as a parent, have the right to to ask the room to be cleaned with a certain frequency for health reasons, do his/her own laundry, maintain good personal hygiene.

If the rules are not being followed don’t preach, just apply the consequences. Taking away the phone or the laptop or the car keys. Removing the right to have friends over or to go to friends’ house. These are all acceptable punishments for a teenager. Sending him/her to his/her bedroom is not effective as it only creates more distance between you two. Never even think about physical punishment because that would simply represent the end of the trust and a healthy father/teenager relationship.

5. Make decisions as a family

You see your teenager spending more and more time with his/her friends and less and less interested in doing things with the whole family. This is normal and it doesn’t mean that (s)he can’t participate in the family unit. Ask during dinner when would be a good day for a little family meeting that week and ask if anybody has anything they want to add to the agenda. The meeting can be about a situation at home, the next family trip, plans for the holidays… it doesn’t matter, as long as everybody has a chance to be heard and participate in the final decision. If there’s an issue it’s always good to say things like “it’s nobody’s fault but we need to figure out together a solution for this problem. How can we solve it?”.

6. Don’t bother your teenager when (s)he’s on a bad mood

Most of the time when your teenager is in a bad mood (s)he won’t open up to you. When teenagers want to talk about a problem they normally look for a close friend or they post something on Facebook and wait for sympathy from their peers (not you).  Even if you have the best of intentions the best thing you can do is leave him/her alone and respect their timing. If they feel they need help from you they’ll come to you.

7. Don’t engage in screaming battles

It’s normal to have teenagers bang doors or talk back or yell at their parents when they’re angry. They feel they need to be loud and rude in order to be heard. The feel the need to be defiant and make sure everybody knows how they feel. If you are in the middle of an outrage the first thing to do is stay calm. Think about your safety and the safety of your teenager first. Let him/her vent out all the frustration even if it includes cursing and screaming. If you feel that you’re losing your temper walk away and let him/her deescalate by himself. Do not engage in a screaming, yelling battle if your teenager. It won’t work. One thing is for sure, once they reach that level of frustration they will eventually calm down. Then that’s a good time to let him/her know that it’s hurtful when he calls you names and that this is not the way to talk to each other. Let him/her know that you understand his frustration but his reaction was unacceptable.

By now you may be thinking that I’m crazy to give you all these permissive tips when I don’t even have a teenager to deal with yet. It’s true but I was one and I wasn’t very easy to deal with, my brother and sister are much younger than so I pretty much saw how their teen experience was, and I’ve been working with teenagers or pre-teens for quite some time. Also these tips are not just something I made up. I searched some websites and compiled some stuff I thought made sense.

You should see a specialist:

  • If you feel your teenager is deeply depressed, talks about suicide or tries to commit suicide, drinks or use drugs, or wants to run away.
  • If  your son/daughter doesn’t have close friends.
  • If his/her school performance drops significantly.
  • If (s)he’s not showing up to school.
  • If your teenager has destructive or violent outbursts.
  • If your teenager’s behavior is causing problems for your relationship with other family members.
  • If even after you tried some of all of these tips you don’t see any improvement in a period of 6 months.

I currently work with emotionally distressed pre-teens at a junior high and I have been learning even more about this confusing period of our lives. If you have questions, suggestions or just want to disagree with something use the comments section bellow or send me an e-mail at