Posts Tagged ‘Jen Singer’

Microsoft Kin: Do You Want Your 14-Year-Old Daughter Watching These Ads?

Monday, May 17th, 2010

Thanks to Donna Tapellini over on the Consumer Reports Electronics Blog for raising a potential red flag for parents with her post today: More Videos for Microsoft’s Kin Phones Raise Concern.

(Full disclosure: I’m the social-media reporter for Consumer Reports. But I’m also a parenting blogger, and the mom of a teenager, and you’d better believe I’d be talking about this and linking to this post in any case.)

Just weeks ago, Microsoft pulled its promotional Kin video, after Consumer Reports questioned whether the ad was promoting sexting. Now they’re back, and I’m disturbed by what I’m seeing in these ads, which are being shown on Facebook and You Tube.

In the ads, Rosa Salazar, a young woman from Brooklyn (she looks to be no older than 20), makes a cross-country trek to meet, in person, some of the people she’s friended on Facebook and other social networks. Of course, many of these “friends” are total strangers.

And don’t even get me started on the stalker-like behavior encouraged by the second ad, below…

Is Microsoft being irresponsible here? Do you plan to talk with your tween and teens about such ads? Watch the videos here. Check out Donna’s post, which also includes some thoughts on this ad campaign from Jen Singer over at Then let us know what you think.

Early — Or Late — Puberty May Ramp Up Aggression in Boys

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Editor’s note:‘s Melanie Davis, of the “Buzz on the Birds and the Bees,” and I (I write the “Boo-Boos, Germs & Pap Smears” column) are teaming up to tackle the news about this study on how earlier or later puberty can trigger aggression in boys.

Is your son way ahead of his friends when it comes to his voice getting deeper, his pants getting shorter and his face showing a bit of stubble?

Or is he at the other end of the spectrum — feeling left behind and wondering when he’ll hit puberty like many of his friends already have?

Puberty that arrives earlier or later in boys, compared with their buddies, can trigger chemicals related to antisocial behavior, say Penn State researchers. They add that their findings have important implications for parents with aggressive boys.

“Aggressive behavior can begin very early, even in pre-school, and might be related to poor impulse control, difficulties in the family or just overall general problem behavior,” says Elizabeth J. Susman, a professor of biobehavioral health at Penn State. “We wanted to find out if earlier or later timing of puberty in adolescents has any biological factors related to it.”

She and her colleagues looked at how the timing of puberty affects cortisol (a stress hormone) and salivary alpha amylase (an enzyme in saliva used as an indicator of stress). Their findings appear in the May issue of the medical journal Psychoneuroendocrinology. (OK, that’s a mouthful.)


Mom, It’s OK To Trust Your Gut!

Friday, May 7th, 2010

My buddy Jen Singer over at is offering, in this great video, what might be the best gift we moms can receive on Mother’s Day: A reminder to Trust Your Gut. (Another great gift? Jen’s books. I love her Stop Second-Guessing Yourself series.)

Thanks, Jen! Happy Mother’s Day, and thanks for helping us have a laugh.

Hey Mom, I’m Vlogging! (Now All I Need is a Neck and a Chin…)

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

Blog Love:

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

Jen Singer, over at, is my hero. The woman has been there, done that:

  • Create blog? Check
  • Write (multiple) books? Check
  • Become a cancer survivor? Yep. And although I’m pretty sure this was one challenge that wasn’t originally on her to-do list, she writes about it with candor — and (because that’s Jen) humor.
  • Become a superhero (with great legs)? Oh, yeah.
  • Oh! And she does stand-up comedy:

Vist and you’ll see what I’m talking about. And be sure to ask her where she got those superhero boots.

How Common is Autism?

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Rear view of a five friendship children.

About 1 percent of all the kids in the U.S. have some form of autism, according to a recent survey. And it’s diagnosed four times more often in boys than in girls.

I’m writing about autism today over at Jen Singer‘s Please stop by and check it out.

Warning: Jen is such a hoot, and has such great stuff there, you may get happily lost on here site and forget to pick up the kids at school…

Mom’s Health: “Is It An Ulcer, Doc?”

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

10-18-09jpgCheck out my family-health column, “Boo Boos, Germs and Pap Smears,” over at Jen Singer’s for info on a new breath test that can help diagnose ulcers. Sooo much better than having to do the tube-with-a-camera test. Let’s hear it for modern medicine!

Three Things Nobody Tells You About Preschoolers

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Welcome, Jen Singer, who is guest posting today!
Jen is the creator of and the author of presents: Stop Second Guessing Yourself – The Preschool Years (HCI, September 2009). She offers up three things nobody tells you about parenting preschoolers — and how to deal with them…

If you’re just coming out of the exhausting, filled-with-major-milestones toddler years, you may wonder what lies ahead. Preschoolers are like tiny teens in light-up sneakers: increasingly independent and yet in dire need of your supervision and guidance as they spend less and less time with you. A few tips:

1. Their milestones are far more nebulous. Your toddler hit the Grand Slams of Milestones: walking, talking, potty training. But your preschooler’s milestones are a little less concrete. As you parent your three-to-five-year-old, you’ll come to learn about fine and gross motor skills, socialization and kindergarten readiness, among others. They’re a wishy-washy bunch of milestones, but you can learn to deal with them as your child gets ready for preschool and beyond.

What to do. One of the most-important milestones is getting your child get ready for school. Picture a preschool teacher trying to help 20 three-year-olds on with their coats, and you’ll see why these teaching your child these basics are as important as going over counting and colors. The school-readiness three:
a. Teach him to put on his own coat.
b. Teach her how to share with playdates, playgroups and have lots of patience.
c. Teach her how to sit still (or at least more still than usual) with floor time and bedtime reading.

2. Discipline becomes more difficult as your preschooler becomes more verbal.

You’ve decided that your preschooler should wear her pink dress on the first day of school, but she has different plans – and she tells you so. Before you know it, you feel like you’re in mediation with a very skilled lawyer who has compiled compelling reasons why her Cinderella Halloween costume would be more suitable garb for the occasion.

What to do: Step up the sophistication of your discipline plan as your three-to-five-year-old gets more and more savvy. Preschoolers have great verbal skills and a frighteningly proficient ability to push your buttons. The Time-Outs that worked for your toddler need to be amped up now. Here’s how:
a. Choose which behaviors are misdemeanors and which are felonies beforehand, so you know what to correct as they come.
b. Be as emotionless as possible when you dole out consequences, because preschoolers love to get your goat.
c. Don’t set up a Time-Out in a fun spot, like the middle of the playroom.
d. A Time-Out should equal one minute for each year of age.
e. Revisit the infraction after the Time-Out ends by talking about it.
f. Stick to your guns. If you skip a Time-Out now, your preschooler will make note of it for later.

3. Preschoolers can be far more independent than we give them credit for.
Your preschooler just got up from the kitchen table, leaving behind his empty plate and cup. You think nothing of it. After all, you’ve been waiting on him since he was born. But now that your child is more dexterous and able to focus better than when he was a toddler, he’s ready to take on more tasks around the house.

What to do: Anybody who actually likes to sing the Barney ‘Clean-Up’ song ought to be put to work. I’m not talking about scrubbing floors while singing songs from ‘Oliver,’ but preschoolers can do a variety of chores – and they may actually enjoy them. Get started by:
a. Making it easy. Stick to simple tasks, like putting toys in the toy box or putting cups in the dishwasher.
b. Giving guidance. Break out tasks with simple steps, such as “Put your doll in the toy box… Good! Now put your socks in the hamper… Good!”
c. Set a deadline. She’ll be more likely to clean her stuff off the coffee table now if you tell her to finish it by the time the egg timer rings.
d. Praise, praise, praise. Who doesn’t want some positive feedback when they help out around the house?

Are You Second-Guessing Yourself as a Parent?

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

I'm so jazzed that author Jen Singer is stopping by Parent Talk Today as part of her blog tour for her new book Stop Second-Guessing Yourself — The Toddler Years: A Field-Tested Guide to Confident Parenting.

Jen is a hoot — and one smart cookie when it comes to knowing when to stress out as a mom and when to chill. I know you'll enjoy this Q&A with one of my favorite parenting authors:

Q. What’s the hardest part about transitioning from babyhood to toddlerhood?

A. Mobility and your toddler’s increasingly strong urge to ditch Mommy and go check out that butterfly/puddle/cupcake/dog/etc. It’s a never-ending effort to balance your child’s curiosity and learning with safety and the attempt to get places on time – and without a temper tantrum. In short, the toddler years are a lot like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride: harrowing, yet often amusing, and always full of surprises.

Q. What’s the biggest mistake that parents of toddlers make?

 A. Attempting to get through Target at naptime is one of them. Not expecting the unexpected is another. After I found myself at a Halloween party attempting to change one toddler’s diaper, even though he was in a dragon costume without snaps, while monitoring another toddler who was reaching for a plate full of cupcakes half a room away, I learned to lower my expectations. Toddlerhood was still a crazy, exhausting time for me, but at least I knew it should be.

Q. What do moms say is the most difficult part of parenting toddlers?

A. Potty training is the most labor-intensive milestone of toddlerhood, by far. You have to be involved and entertaining and helpful without pushing your toddler into total disinterest in potty training. It’s part science, part art and all up to your toddler, no matter how hard you work. Knowing how to walk the fine line between using rewards and encouragement and letting your toddler take the lead is the key to successful potty training. That, and a whole lot of patience.

Q. How can you run a playdate or playgroup without all the mama drama?

 A. If you’re hosting a playdate or a playgroup, understand that, like it or not, your mothering skills are on display for all the other moms, and vice versa. But you can nip the urge to compete in a mothering competition with a few simple tips, including: 

1. Hide your toddler’s favorite toy. That way you’ll avoid a tug-of-war (and its ensuing meltdown and your apology).

2. Don’t rush in to referee. Toddlers have amazingly short-term memories. If you wait just a little longer than you’d like to, one toddler just might find another shiny new toy and forget what she was in a tizzy about in the first place.

3. Keep it short. An hour or two is long enough before everyone starts to get cranky (moms included).

Q. How can you run errands with a squirmy, active toddler in tow?

A. Remember that timing is everything. Think about it from your toddler’s perspective: It’s hard enough not having any say in what you do or where you go, but getting dragged to the furniture store at 9:00 p.m. on Friday night? Also, front-load the most important stops in case you have to cut your outing short due to crankiness.

Q. What do moms need to know about keeping their toddlers safe?

A. Our generation of mothers has taken safety preparation to all new levels, though not all of it is necessary or even useful – like the toilet latch my toddlers broke into like Houdini. I’m a fan of safety gates, particularly at the top of stairs, and of moving your breakables and anything smaller than your elbow (a.k.a. choking hazards) out of reach throughout toddlerhood.

Q.  How do you keep your toddler entertained?

A. The first step is to realize that you are not your toddler’s entertainment director. If you feel guilty for folding laundry because you’re not entertaining your toddler, something’s wrong. (I know. I’ve been there.) The sooner you teach your child to entertain herself, the better it is for her – and you – down the road. One of my favorite ways to get a toddler to entertain herself is to lay out the Tupperware on the kitchen floor and put her in the middle of it. Sure, it requires some cleaning later on, but it’s worth it if you’re able to get something done – or even to sit down for a while.

Q. How do you handle the Terrible Two’s?

A. Here’s a secret: Sometimes Terrible Two’s starts before age two. Sometimes, it hits at four and sometimes not at all. In general, toddlers are an unpredictable lot. They can go from sweet to sour (and super-cranky) in no time flat. The key is to predict and diffuse. If, for instance, you know your toddler is going to have a canary because his cousin just touched his favorite Elmo doll, swoop in and distract him with something better, like a new and, therefore, more attractive toy, a snack, or when all else fails—dare I say—a video.

Q. What are some of the “Milestones You Don’t Want to Share with Grandma”?

A. These are the things nobody told you about – and you probably don’t want to tell anyone about. Some of the most typical include: Opens, Closes, Locks, and Unlocks Doors; Stuffs Things up Noses and Into Ears; and Toilet Games, where the commode doubles as a boat landing or toy flusher. Take heart: These are common, and you can handle them, once you learn how. I cover these and five others and what to do about them in the book. One tip: Keep a key to the house and your cell phone in your pocket or a key hidden outside in case your toddler decides to try the lock when you step outside for a minute.

Q. If you could give mothers of toddlers one bit of advice, what would it be?

A. Don’t assume they can’t reach the middle of the kitchen table.

All Hail Mommy Bloggers — and Social-Media Fans

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

I’m so jazzed to share this fun Parents TV video about mommy bloggers with you because it features two terrific friends and colleagues, Jen Singer of fame and Amanda Wolfe, Parents magazine’s media editor and editor of GoodyBlog.

I’m one of Jen’s columnists on (How cool that they mentioned the columnists in the report, too.) Check out the column, “Boo Boos, Germs and Pap Smears,” here.

Both Jen and Amanda will be speaking on my panel on social media at the American Society of Journalists and Authors annual conference in New York City on April 25. If you’re a writer, blogger (mommy-blogger or otherwise) or a social-media fan, you won’t want to miss this conference and this panel. To learn more about the conference and to register, click here.

In addition to Jen and Amanda, the panel will feature Redbook editor-in-chief Stacy Morrison (yep, she blogs,
too, over at Something About Stacy) and Peter Shankman of Help a
Reporter Out
fame. Hope to see you there!