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Kid Safety Raising Healthy Kids Sponsored Content

How ExpressVPN is Helping HP Build a More Secure Future

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

Full disclosure – I have no affiliation with HP, although I am powered by an HP laptop. ExpressVPN provides my annual VPN subscription free of charge in exchange for sharing information about the importance of cybersecurity and the role a VPN can play in internet privacy. I 100% believe in what they’re doing and that every single one of us has a responsibility to step up our own personal security and protect our data.

And in a world where the Internet is becoming more and more dangerous for our children, we all have to do more. (You can start really simply, by not using super easy passwords, and not using the same password on every different site, and changing all of your passwords NOW).

Cybersecurity has become a major focus for many around the world the past couple of years, but tech companies seem to be ignoring this shift completely. Every year, we see new releases of laptops that offer incremental improvements over last year’s model while at the same time remaining free of any sort of security improvements.

Fortunately, two companies are working towards influencing the tech industry to take the right steps, and those two companies are ExpressVPN and HP. I’ve been using ExpressVPN for a while and really appreciate the added security it gives me when I’m traveling, working from a hotel room, or instead of using public Wi-Fi in a restaurant.

How HP and ExpressVPN are Influencing the Industry

Image from ExpressVPN

HP recently released their new Spectre laptop, the Spectre x360 13, and the press release outlined many security improvements, including but not limited to: a way to turn off the webcam, a physical mute button for the internal microphone, an optional, built-in privacy screen, and a partnership with ExpressVPN.

The partnership with ExpressVPN allows HP to pre-install the VPN program onto all the new Spectre 13s, along with offering a 30-day free trial for any users of the new Spectre.

Now, you may read all that and ask what the big deal is, and I understand. Nothing about that partnership screams revolutionary or important. However, keep in mind how long HP has been making laptops and how much influence they have. ExpressVPN as well, as it’s one of the biggest VPN companies in existence as of the time of writing. It’s also one of the most secure consumer VPN out there that vows not to keep any VPN log.

ExpressVPN has stated that they already have more partnerships waiting to be announced, meaning even more tech companies are already realizing that partnering with cybersecurity companies is the best move to make right now. After all, the tech industry is shifting to an industry more focused on cybersecurity due to the numerous leaks that have taken place – Equifax, anyone? Capital One? Disney Plus??

Tech companies are realizing how dangerous things are becoming on the Internet, which is why I assume HP decided to partner with ExpressVPN in the first place. There comes a time when the blissful ignorance companies show towards cybersecurity fades, and I believe we’re living during it.

We All Need to Take Cybersecurity More Seriously

The new partnership between ExpressVPN and HP embodies the shift the tech industry is currently going through–a shift that demands attention towards security.

As I mentioned earlier, the Internet has become a dangerous place, and while security has improved tremendously, so has the number of scams out there. Companies know this, however…well, at least some do.

I believe the partnership between ExpressVPN and HP represents a step in the right direction where people become more aware of how they can stay safe online.

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Let's Talk Parenting Raising Healthy Kids

How to Talk to Your Kids about Gender, Sexuality, & Private Parts

When did your child first start noticing gender differences? I’m not talking about toys or colors, I’m talking about private parts. Before joining Boise State University‘s counseling program, I couldn’t imagine how to start having these conversations with my child. I’m a touch more prepared, although it still makes me nervous, but I know it’s important to talk to your kids about this stuff. 

Don’t panic. 

The first time your kid comes to you naked (probably not new) and points out their specific genitals, it will probably catch you off guard. It did me. The first thing I had to remember was to keep calm. Take a breath – you can do this. No matter how you approach the conversation, just remember that the way you react tells your child whether they should be ashamed of their natural bodies, or whether it’s okay to notice. 

Stay consistent. 

Whatever your message, stick to your script. I knew from the minute I felt her kick that I wouldn’t want any sexual predator to take advantage of her. I chose to tell her exactly what the body parts are called. Then we had the bathing suit conversation. If it’s covered by your swimsuit, it’s a private area only for you to see, and we don’t need to share that -or let anyone else show you theirs. 

How to have "the talk" with your child.

Encourage conversations. 

Now this comes from my counseling experiences. As your child grows and develops, so should these conversations. I don’t anticipate being able to keep telling my kid “that’s yours, so keep it to yourself. And don’t ask to see anyone else’s business,” because her curiosity will grow. All of ours did. As a parent I’d prefer that she asks me for information before she asks a friend or Google. I’d also prefer that she comes to me with things she hears from others, so that we can discern together if it’s true or not. 

No matter how you tackle it, make sure that you do. The best thing you can give to the next generation is knowledge! 

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Kid Safety Raising Healthy Kids Sponsored Content

Why Should You Care about Internet Privacy?

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

This content was provided by our partner, TechWarn and I am being compensated in the form of a VPN subscription to protect my family.

Why should you care about internet privacy?

Even as parents, we rarely pay attention to the ‘terms and conditions’ before logging into an app for the first time, how could we expect our children to practice digital privacy? But practice they must.

Today we live in a world of zero privacy. Social media behemoths take advantage of our innate desire to connect, turning platforms into mega data centers to ruthlessly monetizing our personal lives. Sadly, they don’t seem to be particularly cautious with our sensitive information either, as a security breach late last year reported a hack affecting nearly 30 million users.

If your children are on social media or are regular internet users, understand the risks involved to help them steer clear of privacy breaches and their accompanying risks.

Your privacy is always at stake

The devil is always in the details. Buried deep inside the service terms are often invasive clauses claiming to collect, access, stored and analyze your data ‘for an improved experience’. Opting to keep private info private, and you will be forced to quit the app or leave the platform, leaving you with no choice but to oblige.

What’s rather unfortunate is the fact that we do not have any control over what the companies choose to do with the data they access. There have been numerous cases of accounts hacking, impersonation and other cyber-crimes. Even with these happenings, we keep signing in into mobile phone applications, programs and software, and subscribing to websites without giving much care to the security concerns.

Your data is sold, but you won’t get a penny for it

As the old saying goes, free things are expensive. The paradox in this statement continues being evidenced in the online platforms that claim to be ‘free’ but end up making billions of money by selling out your personal data to advertisers. It’s how Facebook and Twitter make money anyway. How else do you think that you have your timeline hit with adverts of items, products, or services you recently discussed?

Each time you log in to the ever-emerging web platforms, you are providing them with your information and to advertisers; this is a badly needed necessity. The only way to limit how much information and private data these services will be getting from you is by checking your internet privacy.

Technology evolution leads us to be more reliant on the internet

Just like the internet, IT gadgets are going through a major evolution. Newer and sophisticated gadgets are released on a regular basis. Communication is taking a shift, you do not necessarily need to load your mobile phone with airtime; with an internet connection, you are able to make a call online.

Think of the host of websites that allow you stream sports, music and more. We are slowly but steadily bidding goodbye to the old-fashioned computerized gadgets and embracing highly advanced ones.

Smooth operations of these devices require an internet connection. For instance, smartphones require regular software updates. With this level of reliance on the internet, it is important that one puts up reliable privacy protection measures in place.

If stolen, your current private data could haunt your future

Some people rubbish the need to have internet privacy measures in place, claiming they have got nothing to hide. Which is okay; but this may not last for long. When companies access your data (let’s say private and confidential information like call logs or messages content), you have no control over what they might choose to do with them.

Without huge aspirations at the moment, this may not seem much of a concern. But if someone wishes to bring you down in the future, they can use skeletons from your private data that was stored by some company 5 or 10 years ago. Past conversations exposed are on record for bringing down marriages, tainting people’s integrity among other damages. Many internet activities define your private life, browse safely lest the information falls on the wrong hands and ends up being used against you.

The law will not protect you

Due to the rising cases of cyber-related crimes, some countries are developing and enforcing laws in support of internet surveillance. While this might be a good effort and may help trace the criminals bullying people online, it is not right for your privacy.

When a government gains access to your communication threads, the sites you are visiting, the people you are networking with and such information without your approval, then it’s interfering with your personal privacy. Unfortunately, many countries continue embracing this trend, especially on visitors and tourists.

You may not have direct control over what the lawmakers of a certain nation think. Fortunately, there are different avenues through which you can shield your internet privacy.

Fraudsters, hackers, and cybercriminals are upping their game

There are many techniques that fraudsters can use to access or gather your online information. Your internet service provider may not warn you of the possible dangers after all high-speed connections are what most of us are concerned about.

If your privacy settings are not customized to limit who can access information about you, fraudsters can easily tell who you are by monitoring your activities on these sites. This is especially so with social interaction sites where we like to upload our photos, update our activities and so on. Others use malicious software known as spyware. The software is able to track and hack your personal information without your knowledge. The developers of such malicious software target unsuspecting internet users and thus the need to care about your privacy whenever you are on the internet.

Ways to protect your internet privacy

The ways through which your private data can be tracked or accessed are multiplying by the day. Here are ways through which you can protect your personal data while on the internet.

Keep your software updated

Doing this can greatly reduce unauthorized access to your data. Keeping your software updated makes sure your system is shielded from even the most recent malware.

Update your privacy settings

This is necessary especially when it comes to social networking platforms. By default, most of the information you upload or post will be shared publicly. Consider changing your settings to limit views to only fewer people or to only share with people you know. To achieve higher efficiency, it’s advisable to ask your friends to do the same.

Block 3rd party cookies

Accepting cookies allows websites to maintain track of you. For instance, they can be able to tell the last time you visited. Others will be able to store your data and even sign you in automatically during your next visit. Blocking cookies limits access should anyone else access your device without your knowledge.

Clear browser history and delete cookies regularly

This helps log you out of all accounts that you may have signed in on the browser.

Get a VPN app

A virtual private network encrypts all the data you receive or send via the internet. With this encryption, third parties cannot access data and even if they do, they cannot be able to use it or trace it back to you.

Privacy and security are well worth your time and money. VPN deals are just a Google search away so there’s no excuse of not going playing your part to safeguard your data. With a VPN in place, your data will always be protected whenever you are using the internet.

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Raising Healthy Kids

My Baby Boy Looks Fabulous in Pink So I Don’t Need Your Neutral Colors

Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

I’m so tired of this push for neutrality. Neutrality is boring. It’s grey in physicality and emotion. It’s complacent. It proclaims nothing but sameness. Neutrality in kids clothing is asking that we don’t differentiate.

I disagree completely. We should differentiate, but not between girls and boys. We should differentiate between likes and dislikes. A love for rainbows versus a preference for trucks, regardless of gender. We should let kids be exactly who they want to be without any label, and that includes neutral.

At the end of the day, it’s just a color.

And my baby boy happens to look fabulous in pink and purple and every other color on the rainbow.

No one gets to decide what my boy will like. It won’t be as easy passing off “girl” clothes on a boy, despite my toddler girl wearing boy clothes confidently without second guesses. Boys should be allowed the same grace, but many times, they aren’t.

As my son gets older, he will have a voice in his clothing choices just like his sister. He will be allowed to shop anywhere in the store, just like his sister. I will not label my son, and I’ll teach him that his voice is the only one that matters when it comes to who he decides to be.

As a parent of both a boy and a girl, I will be teaching different lessons as they age because that is the unfortunate reality of our society. However, this is one of the many lessons that will be taught regardless of gender.

My boy looks great in pink and purple, in blues and reds, in greens and yellows.

My boy is a wonderful human regardless of what color he is wearing. It’s really not that hard. Quit labeling children based on the clothes they wear. This is where true acceptance of self and others starts, and this is a lesson that every child should be learning early. Individuals are amazing, and children, like every color of the rainbow, have value.

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Keeping Marriage Strong Love Raising Healthy Kids Travel

Keeping Marriage Strong: Couple Getaways

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

I am always talking about the next road trip and the importance of family vacations, but escaping alone with your spouse, whether for a simple overnight or a few days, is just as important.

It’s not just good for you and your spouse; it’s important for the health and well-being of the entire family. Getting away together lets you remember the reasons you fell in love in the first place – the love that built your family! And being away gives your kids a chance to appreciate what they might be taking for granted.

Family vacations are so important,  creating memories and experiences that bond you. But you may find the mini-vacations that you and your spouse take together are just as fulfilling.

I really believe these little escapes we make keep our love healthy and strong. And they don’t have to be expensive or extravagant. Dave and I have done everything from spend a week together in Montreal to cook dinner at home, call it an early night, and have a romantic “getaway” in our bedroom. The kids play along and don’t disturb us for the night.

When you take time to be a couple and enjoy time with just the two of you, you come back refreshed and ready to be better parents.

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Parenting Raising Healthy Kids

Spanking Your Kids is Now AAP Unapproved, But Why Is This News?

Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

For the first time, the American Academy of Pediatrics has taken a firm stance on spanking. The verdict? That would be a no from me, dawg.

Their research, officially released December of 2018, says that spanking as a form of punishment has long term consequences AND is completely ineffective in teaching anything. Shocker.

Although I’m thrilled that they’ve finally come out and said what should have been obvious, I’m still confused as to why this is news. The entire point of parenting is to teach appropriate behavior, and spanking is the exact opposite.

My toddler has a mean left hook. It’s no wonder her toddler friends shy away from her when she gets going, because she will whap an adult and they’ll feel it. It took a while for one feisty friend to get her back, and she remembered that good shove for several weeks and curbed her own behavior.

Although I certainly don’t condone physical violence between children, my daughter had to learn. I worked relentlessly to adjust her behavior and she was slowly improving. I can’t tell you how many times I had to remove her completely from an event or take away toys because she wouldn’t freaking stop smacking people.

However. NEVER did I raise a hand to her. I was spending all my time telling her that hitting wasn’t the answer. That she needed to learn to use her words to express herself. And I know that’s hard, especially for a toddler with big emotions and little ability to regulate them. And I won’t lie, either. There were many times that I was smacked right in the face (and it really hurt) that I wanted to smack her right back. It’s instinct! Someone hits you, you respond.

Am I thrilled that another kid payed her back for all the trouble she caused? Yes and no. I don’t ever want anyone harming my baby, but I would be lying if I said she didn’t deserve it. It also gave her insight that I couldn’t, because I don’t spank her. It HURTS. It causes pain and sadness and hurt feelings. When my little diva got shoved, she could hardly believe it. But it finally clicked.

I don’t believe she would have had the same realization had I not had several conversations with her. We talked so many times about how hurtful it is to hit, bite, or push her friends. Once my toddler experienced it firsthand, she was able to make the connections from our discussions. If her only experience had been me also hitting her, it wouldn’t have made sense.

Children are capable of more than they are often given credit for. I’ve gotten shit for offering explanations to my child, even when I’m punishing them. “Because I said so” isn’t good enough for me. I’m a parent, not a dictator. Am I always going to be my child’s friend? Absolutely not. But if they’re in deep shit, they deserve to know why other than that they are powerless to say otherwise.

So what should you do otherwise?

  • behavior charts
  • time-outs (or time-ins)
  • allow for natural consequences
  • take away privileges or favorite toys
  • ignore harmless undesired behavior
  • praise good behavior

Spanking your children doesn’t work. It teaches fear and it teaches dishonesty. Your children will hide from you to avoid punishment and will continue with behaviors they see modeled. When you’re upset with someone at work, you don’t smack them around. Your children deserve the same respect.

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Kid Safety Parenting Raising Healthy Kids

Raising Drug-Free Kids

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

I started to write this by saying “the conversation you have with your kids about drugs is one of the most difficult and most important you’ll ever have.”

That’s inaccurate.

To really have an impact on your kids about drugs, it can’t be a single conversation. It has to be multiple conversations over a period of years. And it can’t just be conversations about not doing drugs. It needs to be a consistent parenting effort in which you help your children understand their power to make choices and their responsibility to accept the consequences of their choices – and to be able to make the connection between the two. And it also requires raising your kids in a way that they know they’re loved and valued as individuals, that they’re given a voice, and that you are the safe people in their lives. And you can do all that and they still may end up experimenting with drugs or becoming addicts, because no matter how great we are as parents, our kids have other influences in their lives – friends, school, other adults, other family, etc.

Which is why your best effort in keeping your kids drug free starts when they are just toddlers and younger. It’s when your children are in the infant and toddler stage that you set boundaries and teach kids about making good choices; it’s at this young age that you have the most influence and opportunity for impact.

Here are 4 things you can do to help keep your kids on a drug-free path:

Communicate – All the Time

Talk, and talk often. If you keep the lines of communication open, then discussing drugs can be an ongoing effort. Learn how to talk to your children but more importantly, learn how to listen to your children. Serious discussions take place over time and work best when built upon a foundation of mutual trust.

Show Affection and Respect

Show affection for your kids, openly and unabashedly. Tell them you love them, every day. Praise them for who they are, not just things they do. This is important when your kids are young and building self-esteem; it becomes even more important as they get older and become teenagers. Teens are competing for the approval of their peers; it helps a lot when they know they already have the approval of their parents. If your child does not feel accepted or loved by you, they may seek that approval elsewhere from peers who might be doing drugs or using alcohol.

Don’t Be Naive

Know that no matter how “good” your child is or how great their grades are, they will have access to and exposure to drugs – at school, in the community, at the homes of friends. You cannot isolate your kids from drugs, so you have to make them strong enough and secure enough to be ok saying no. Children crave boundaries and rules so that they feel safe. Even when they are testing you at every point, they’re really just making sure you’re still going to enforce the rules and protect them. Be clear with them that doing drugs is not acceptable, and that there will be consequences.

Give them an Out

Help your kids get out of sticky moments. When I was a teenager, my mom always told me if something was happening that I didn’t know how to handle, to call her and ask her to pick me up and to tell her I had a headache. We’ve told our kids the same – feign being sick if you can’t just say no; call us, no questions asked if you need to get out of someplace.

Worried your child might be taking drugs? Be alert to changes in your child’s behavior, including any changes in appetite, a decline in grades, or feelings of apathy. Drug use may cause your child to become more withdrawn, less inclined to engage in family activities, and more likely to be overly sensitive. If your child does need professional help with overcoming a drug problem, contact a rehab center where they can help your child or teen work through and overcome a drug problem. For more information about keeping kids drug free, we recommend the following resources:

Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

D.A.R.E.

DrugRehab.com

Have a resource you’d like to see on this list? Let us know!

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Making Memories Parenting Raising Healthy Kids Toddlers

Turn Off the TV and Spend Time with Your Toddler

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

When our daughter, Anika, was three, we took her out of daycare so that I could have some time with her and her brother over the summer before going back to work (I was headed back to the corporate world that fall). They spent the summer home with me.  I’ve never been so challenged to come up with creative activities to keep children busy.  Anika had been going to daycare for two years while I was in school, so she was all about “centers” and “jungle bus” and did NOT like to be bored (at 16, she still doesn’t). Parker had just finished first grade and was used to his days being filled with learning and recess (he still can’t stand days when there’s nothing going on). Their brother Kyle was going to a dayhab program, but their sister, Kira (who was going into her junior year in high school), was often around when she wasn’t working or at cheer practice.

Since it was nice weather, we did try to spend a lot of time outside, but in Boise, where we were living at the time, has a high number of days where the temperature is above 90 degrees and the ultra violet rays are at their highest risk.  Indoor activities become a necessity! I was extremely grateful for Nickelodeon –Dora, Diego, Lazy Town—they certainly made my kids happy.  But since this was to be my last summer off with the kids before taking the long-hour corporate job (who knew how things would work out), I made extra efforts not to rely on the TV.

We baked cookies every Friday.  The kids did all the measuring and mixing, and Parker was able to use his math skills when we doubled the recipes. We used water paints and practiced mixing colors to see what new colors we could make.  The brushes were quickly abandoned in favor of fingers and I ended up with some wonderful artwork on my fridge from my little ones’ fingers.  The summer went too fast, really, but we came up with some great ideas for spending time creating memories together:

  • Making tents out of sheets and having a picnic
  • Popcorn and movie days
  • Dress-up. Parker and Anika acted out scenes from favorite shows and movies, and then made up some of their own stories.
  • Art time.
  • Blocks. All of the kids have loved playing with blocks, either the wooden kind or the extra large not-legos.
  • Mommy’s helper. Yes, this is how the housework got done and the laundry got folded.

Now, Kira is the one home with young children. Her daughter, Hallie, is two-and-a-half, and until her baby brother was born, got to leave the house every day to go to a play center here in town. Now, she’s stuck at home and often has to find ways to entertain herself a bit when mom is working. This means getting to watch her favorite movie, Frozen, every morning…but Kira tries to spend quality time with her kids, just like I did with Parker and Anika.

Hallie has access to a lot of things her aunt and uncle did not, like electronic educational games (there are a ton on my Kindle that she knows how to use). Hallie also likes to take photos with her mother’s phone and spends quite a bit of time on FaceTime with her grandparents in England.

There are so many delightful ways to spend time with your little ones when they are little. I’m envious of Kira in a way that she is in this stage – it ends far too quickly. I hope she enjoys every moment of it, and when she’s not, this nana is more than happy to relive some memories by spending time with her granddaughter.

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Parenting Raising Healthy Kids

Raising Independent Children, Part Four

Getting Real with Shadra Bruce

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, this raising independent children series will be a five-part series, because, yep, I have five kids – five very unique, one-of-a-kind kids. You can read parts one (Derek), two (Kyle) and three (Kira) for more perspective. If there’s anything I’ve learned from the first three it’s that each child has their own pace of maturing, their own needs, and their own specific areas of support that make raising independent children a different adventure each time.

Parker is my first baby, which means he was the victim of all my new-mom neuroses. I’ll never know if he is more rigid about his schedule because I was or because it’s just his personality. What I do know is that even as a small child, he always needed to do it his own way, learn it his own way, and discover it for himself. So what’s a parent to do? Do we force him to fit a mold and say “We know best. Do it this way”? Or do we let him discover his own path?

Let Them Find Their Way

Parker is only 18, so really, we’re not quite done with the baking process yet. He’s out of high school, has realized college isn’t the right place, is working and living at home while studying online. He’s not sure what his career path will be or where he’ll be in two years. He knows more about what he doesn’t want than about what he does want. Right now, we just want him to take this time to explore and discover. Being pushed into a career or college path when you’re not ready is a waste of time and money.

Independence Takes Many Forms

Parker, in many ways, is more independent than any of our children. He does his own laundry, knows how to cook a few things and can follow a recipe, manages his own finances, and contributes to our household. He’s incredibly patient with children and is a great uncle to his niece and nephew. He knows his own mind and has clear ideas about how things should be – in his world and in the world at large.

By all measures, he is a fiercely independent and capable person. But he also has medical challenges (seizures, blindness in one eye, etc.) that make it impossible for him to drive – which means in our rural area with no public transportation, he’s also wholly reliant on others to get around. It can be very frustrating for him, and ultimately, he will choose a large city with reliable public transportation to make his home so that he can achieve a higher level of independence.

Let Them Become

Throughout Parker’s life, we have let him be the guide. He was passionate about music, so we fed the passion. That meant drums – first bongos, then a real drum kit. Eventually it was a keyboard and a guitar. And putting out his own album. He’s written hundreds of songs. As he became interested in filmmaking, we supported that, even buying him a video camera so that he could make his own short films. We don’t try to cram our kids into pre-defined boxes, nor do we expect them to just do what everyone else does. We are truly raising individuals, and that means letting them experiment and experience and decide for themselves what makes them happy and what passions they want to pursue and then supporting them.

Each of our children is unique, but the one common theme in raising independent children is that we let them be who they are. It’s amazing what happens when you do.

 

 

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Healthy Eating Raising Healthy Kids

Alexa and Junk Food Get Me Through Toddler Meals

Getting Real with Kira Hazledine

A lot of mom rants have been popping up in my news feed about how damaging it is to use food as a reward system. Leads to unhealthy habits and makes junk foods “taboo” and “too desirable” or whatever. Apparently, it doesn’t teach moderation or whatever, and I get that. But come on. It’s not the reward that’s the problem, it’s the reward system.

As a psychology graduate with many years of basic psychology classes under my belt, I’ve heard the various reinforcement techniques a million times. They all have their benefits and are a part of Psych 101 for a reason. They work, and some better than others. What is believed to work better than any other method is a random approach. Sometimes a reward is given, sometimes it’s not.

That’s where I’m at with my toddler. Some days she gets a cookie after lunch, some days she doesn’t. If she asks and I say “no” it’s because she hasn’t finished her meal. But if she finishes her entire meal, why shouldn’t she get a cookie? Even as an adult, that’s how I get through every salad I eat, ever.

And any parent with a toddler knows that meal time can be disastrous. How these kids survive off cheese sticks alone, I’ll never know. But they do! In those moments, it is the rewards of Alexa and cheese balls that get me through. My toddler is obsessed with our Alexa system from Amazon and is fascinated that Alexa will tell jokes and sing songs. If she wants to hear a joke, guess what? Better take a bite of your lunch. Want to hear Baby Shark? That’s going to cost you two or three bites. Oh, you need more cheese balls? Better have some bites of food that are actually good for you.

We act like rewards aren’t a consistent part of adulthood. Would you go to work if you didn’t get paid? Most of us would not. There are very few things in life that don’t involve some sort of motivation or reward system, but now kids can’t even have a freaking cookie or piece of candy because it “teaches bad habits.” You know what is needed when you’re using a reward system? An explanation.

Talk to your kids about why you are encouraging healthy habits, and hell, sometimes throw a cookie at them for snack just because. It’s not like you’ve never given your child a donut for breakfast before (and if you haven’t, I’m impressed). Yes, they will ask for a cookie for snack tomorrow, but that is your moment to explain why it’s not a good idea to eat cookies all the time. It’s not the reward system that’s the problem. It’s the lack of education. Take a moment to teach your kids healthy eating, model it yourself, and you’ll be surprised what they learn.