The strength switch offers scientifically grounded solution on on strength based parenting. Human nature sees fault in everything, the same is true for parenting, when our attention is selective we only see our child’s faults. The author Dr Walters saw the same when her child Nick did not park his bicycle at the place told, despite reminders. She noticed this but failed to notice his warm welcoming her home everyday or his neatly putting shoes and lunch box at the right place rather than just throwing away.
However, things did not improve, it was only when she lovingly mentioned her child’s strengths that improvements happened. Strengths are in part genetically determined and some are shaped by the environment. Children genetic ability gets multiplied by repeated efforts and they excel. The lesson here is to give the child an environment which reinforces here genetic strengths.
Neuroscientist E.R Sorrell says that from age of six till adolescence the brain density dramatically increases and it produces more cells than it will ever need. Its natural then to be involved in too many new activities and have chaos.Parents should be relaxed and nudge children to their strengths in this phase.In adolescence these strengths are consolidated. Cells diminish, create neural circuits and consolidate. Hence strengths must be focused even more.
Our attention is 20-30 mins and for a child it is even less, for 3 years it is 3-5 mins. If your child is focusing on a single activity it is likely they are putting natural strengths to use. It is important to praise such kind of concentration. But helpful praise is always specific praise.
Guilt and shaming are common methods of disciplining children. But shaming should be avoided. Guilt can act as a reminder of child’s responsibilities and stimulate empathy and remorsefulness but shame preys on the child very person and makes them feel rejected. If you see your child teasing other kids at school a reminder of occasions she displayed empathy and kindness and expressing disappointment that she did not use those special strengths is a good way to work on improving behaviors.
In all, we need to help work on children strength while being mindful and calm ourselves. This creates an environment to prosper.
When we continue to do things for our children that they could do for themselves, we rob them of opportunities to become self-reliant and confident.
main job as parents is to transfer the values, skills and, habits that are
more we try to make children do things our way, the more we annoy our children
and cause them to resent us and resist us.
The Five Big Ideas
Notice and describe what your child does that pleases use using Descriptive Praise
Help your child remember and follow rules and routines using Think-Throughs
Helps your child move through their uncomfortable feelings using Reflective Listening
Invite your children to cooperate ninety percent of the time, the first time you give an instruction using the Never Ask Twice method
Have a child replay a scenario without misbehaving using Action Replays.
Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting Key Concepts
results in a child knowing how to do something. Training gets a child into the
habit of doing something, without you needing to remind them.
is the stepping stone to confidence.
Praise is vague, exaggerated and ineffective. Descriptive Praise is specific,
true and motivating. More, it improves behavior and is easy to grasp. Notice a
little thing that your child is doing that is right—or even the smallest step
in the right direction. Then, tell your child exactly what you notice and
describe the behavior in detail.
you Descriptively Praise the absence of an annoying behaviour, you’ll soon see
less of that behaviour.
‘qualities’ to your praise helps your child absorb your values.
on planning so that things go right, rather than reacting after things go
don’t tell. When your children tell you what they need to do, they are much
more likely to remember to do it. But when you tell them, often they’re barely
Time. One parent with one child doing something you both enjoy that doesn’t
cost money, that’s not in front of a screen, predictable daily, if possible,
for at least ten minutes.
Time reduces attention-seeking.
Listening helps defuse your child’s upsets.
and telling tales soon lose their appeal when we don’t get involved. Show you
care by imagining how they are feeling, and don’t try to solve the problem.
more we are willing to repeat ourselves, the more times we’ll have to repeat
behaviour: Your child is not misbehaving but needs to transition to the next
activity. Stop behaviour: Your child is doing something wrong or something
annoying, and you want her to stop.
is powerful. It shows intentionality—that you mean what you say.
consequences on their own were effective, our prisons would be empty.
you follow through, your children will take what you say more seriously.
can do action replays for any type of misbehavior, major or minor.
replays end all discipline on a positive note.
away a privilege for misbehavior seems unfair to children and generates
resentment. Allowing your child to earn a privilege through good behavior is
positive and motivating. You’ll see behavior improve sooner than you can
never too late to guide our children into better mealtime habits.
Easier, Happier Parenting Summary
basic premise of Calmer, Easier, Happier Parenting is that our main job as
parents is to transfer the values, skills and habits that are important.
the years, Noël has asked parents from around the globe what values, skills and
habits they want their children to develop. Regardless of geographical
location, culture, religion or socioeconomic differences, these same five
qualities are always mentioned:
Doing what we tell them to do, the first time we tell them, and without a fuss.
Knowing and appreciating and using their talents, abilities, and strengths;
knowing and accepting and being willing to improve on their weaknesses.
The willingness to start, and to keep on doing, all the steps needed to reach a
goal, even though they may not enjoy all those steps.
Doing for themselves everything that they are capable of doing for themselves,
rather than expecting or demanding or waiting for someone else to do it for
Caring about other people’s feelings and understanding how their own actions
first of these five foundation habits—cooperation—is the gateway into the other
children are cooperating, they won’t be willing to do things for themselves
(self-reliance) or to be polite most of the time (consideration) or to try new
things (confidence) or to stick at a task even when it’s difficult
our job to teach our children how to do many things, and then, over time and
with enough practice, the skills became habits.
more we try to make children do things our way, the more we annoy our children
and cause them to resent us and resist us.
all her years of working with families, Noël has found Descriptive Praise to be
the single most powerful strategy for motivating children to want to cooperate
and do their best.
Praise means noticing and then specifically describing what your child has done
that pleases you.
is effective for increasing motivation and the willingness to take on
challenges is focusing praise on the child’s effort, on what the child has
done, not on an ability he can’t control or on the final result. (Carol Dweck
discusses this at length in her book, Mindset).
Praise is about noticing and commenting on exactly what your child has done
that is right or just okay, or even what he hasn’t done wrong.
of Descriptive Praise for small steps in the right direction:
already got your underwear and one sock on! You’re almost halfway dressed.
told you it was time to clean your teeth, and you took a step towards the
put one of your sweet wrappers in the recycling bin.
noticing whenever your child is not doing the annoying habit, and Descriptively
Praise the absence of that negative behavior.
useful strategy when your child does something annoying is to wait a few
seconds. As soon as your child stops, or even pauses for breath, jump in with
total positive effect, turn your Descriptive Praise sentences into paragraphs.
Praise becomes even more powerful when you can summarise what you have noticed
by mentioning a quality.
way to start a Descriptive Praise sentence is with the words, “I notice…”
Children perk their ears up when they hear us saying “I notice…” because that’s
not the language we generally use when we are correcting or reprimanding. So
when we say ‘I notice’ they soon expect to hear something nice about
themselves, and it motivates them to listen.
most of your Descriptive Praise on the habits your children haven’t mastered
to motivate your child so that you see more of the behavior you want and less
of the annoying behavior:
two annoying behaviours you’d like your child to improve, and write them down.
each behaviour, notice and Descriptively Praise every time your child does it
right or just OK or even just a bit better than before.
and mention when your child isn’t doing the annoying behaviour.
a goal of Descriptively Praising some aspect of the improved behaviour at least
ten times a day.
sure to address your child’s whingey, impatient or disrespectful tone of voice,
even if the words he is saying are reasonable.
think-through is a powerful technique for helping our children remember and
follow our rules and routines. It maximises the likelihood of your child cooperating
by fixing the expectation or rule in his long-term memory.
think-through is different from a reminder in two important ways: A
think-through happens before the misbehavior occurs. In a think-through, your
child is the one doing the talking, not you.
are the basic think-through steps for helping your child remember and take
seriously an existing rule or routine. Instead of waiting until your child
breaks or ignores the rule, we need to be proactive and address the issue with
a think-through earlier in the day.
a neutral time to do the think-through.
child answers in detail, telling you what he should do.
for effective think-throughs:
no more than a minute on each think-through.
think-throughs with each child separately, even if you want to reinforce the
same rule for more than one child.
to Descriptively Praise as your child answers the think-through questions.
ongoing problem needs an ongoing solution. So be willing to do several think-throughs
a day for a week or so, especially if you have a child who is often
uncooperative or who has a more inflexible temperament.
of think-through questions:
we get home from football practice, what’s the first thing you need to do?
should you put your equipment bag?
should you do with your clean clothes?
do you need to do as soon as you climb into the car?
buckles your car seat?
should your arms be so Daddy and I can buckle you in?
can you get out of your car seat?
prevent problems, do think-throughs about the right way to behave. Do the
think-throughs at neutral times, long before anything has had a chance to go
clear rules and expectations is another key aspect of Preparing for Success.
you can make a new rule to address a family problem, the first step is to get
clear within ourselves exactly what we want the new rule to be.
you have a partner, you need to become a United Front. You both need to agree
about what the rules will be and we call this becoming a United Front.
can change rules any time you need to.
think-throughs to establish a new rule:
a neutral time and sit down with your child for one minute, just as you would
when doing a think-through to revive an existing rule.
the think-through by saying, “The new rule is…” or words to that effect.
you or your partner have stated the new rule, stop talking!
of explaining the reasons for the new rule, respond with, “That’s a good
question. Why do you think we’re making this new rule?”
your child repeats that he doesn’t know the reason for the new rule, ask him to
take a guess.
important way we can Prepare for Success is to put some time, thought and
action into preparing our children’s environment.
a list or chart that you can point to is an effective way of preparing the
environment to help children remember the rules and routines. Visual reminders
can keep you from falling into the trap of repeating yourself.
her seminars, Noël tells parents that there are four things she wants them to
never again say to their children. Those four things are: “Come on,” “Hurry
up,” “Let’s go,” “We’ll be late.”
Time is most effective when it is frequent and predictable and labeled as that
so that your child can expect it. One-on-one Special Time helps your child want
to cooperate. It also awakens in your child the desire to imitate the positive
habits and qualities and values of that parent.
matter how busy or stressed you are, you need to set aside even ten minutes a
day for Special Time with your child.
most basic aspect of a United Front is not arguing in front of the children.
there is a new routine or habit you would like your child to develop, there are
many crucial questions to ask yourself about the Preparing for Success
techniques. Each question refers to a separate technique.
Front: ‘Do my partner and I agree about what the rule or expectation is?’
rules and expectations: ‘Have I told my child what the rule is?’
we doing some think-throughs about this every day, asking several “W” questions
about this rule and having the child answer in her own words?’
the environment: ‘How can I make it easier for my child to follow the rule?’
reminders: ‘How can I avoid repeating myself day after day?’
realistically: ‘Am I leaving enough time in the bedtime routine for laying out
Time: ‘Are we spending frequent, predictable one-on-one time with each child?’
Praise: ‘Am I noticing and mentioning every time my child remembers the rule or
takes even a small step in the right direction?’
Listening, or empathic listening as it is sometimes called, helps children move
through their uncomfortable feelings more quickly and easily, towards
acceptance or towards problem-solving.
Four Steps of Reflective Listening:
your own emotions and wishes to one side temporarily.
whatever you’re doing, look at your child and listen.
what your child is feeling, and reflect that back to your child in words.
your child his wishes in fantasy (optional).
a way that has helped a lot of parents to stay calmer and more positive:
visualize yourself scooping up your anger or worry or disappointment with both
hands and placing that uncomfortable emotion at the side of the room. Picturing
this can clear your mind. And your feeling will still be there, waiting for
you, if you want it back later.
yourself what feeling might be driving your child to do what he’s doing or to
say what he’s saying.
for success in Step Three:
the temptation to reassure, reason, justify or lecture. Instead, imagine what
your child might be feeling at that moment.
repeat back exactly what your child has said. Reflective Listening is not about
repeating back to the child what she has said to you.
tentative. We can never know for sure what someone else is feeling or thinking.
So, we need to be quite tentative with most of our Reflective Listening in
order for it to be effective.
our children their wishes in fantasy shows that we don’t only care about their
behavior. We also care about their feelings.
is an important difference between children feeling upset and children feeling
are some effective ways you might phrase a Reflective Listening sentence:
look as if you’re feeling…
seem to be feeling…
might be feeling…
sounds like you’re…
can see/hear/tell from your face that…
guess this feels…
imagine you’re feeling…
can feel [emotion] when you…
help a child move beyond the natural human tendency to blame others, we need to
make sure that we discipline ourselves so that we ourselves rarely give in to
the temptation to blame, accuse, tell off and threaten. We need to lead by
Never Ask Twice method is a simple and effective six-step strategy for getting
your children to cooperate ninety percent of the time, the first time you give
an instruction and without a fuss.
can use the Never Ask Twice method whenever you would like your child to stop
doing one thing and start doing something else.
of The Six Steps:
what you are doing, go to where your child is, and stand and look at him.
until your child stops what he is doing and looks at you.
your child the instruction—clearly, simply and only once.
your child to repeat the instruction back to you – accurately, thoroughly and
in his own words.
you are standing and waiting, Descriptively Praise every step in the right
direction, no matter how small, and Reflectively Listen to how your child might
a countdown whenever you sense that your child will resist your instruction.
to Stop Misbehavior in Its Tracks
your child asks you, “Why do I have to?” it is rarely a genuine request for
information and most likely a diversionary tactic. If your instruction is a
sensible one, your child will usually understand why he should do it, or he can
easily figure it out for himself.
it friendly. Practise speaking in a low, calm voice, even if you are feeling
stressed or annoyed.
something to Descriptively Praise. This is often enough to get kids back on
close. If your child is still misbehaving after you have Descriptively Praised
him, immediately stop whatever you are doing and go to where he is and stand
close to him. You may find that your close presence, standing, is enough to get
your child behaving again.
clues. Instead of giving a direct instruction to a child who seems unlikely to
comply, you can give a little clue to help your child figure out what to do.
alternatives. When we need to stop our children’s fun, it is often helpful to
offer an alternative activity.
it a rule for everyone. It can also help if we depersonalise our instruction by
stating it as a family rule that applies to all family members.
Another effective way to help our children want to cooperate is to show them
that we understand how frustrated and annoyed they feel when we interrupt their
limited choices. Give your child an element of choice whenever possible. To
simplify your life, limit the choices to two.
it in the positive. It is far more motivating for children to hear what they
should do, phrasing it in the positive, rather than what they should not do.
the behaviour you want to see. It also helps if you can show the appropriate
behaviour while you are telling them what to do.
united. A United Front sends children a clear message that both parents agree
about the behaviour expected and that both parents care enough to enforce it.
follow through with action. Following through consistently results in our
children knowing that we mean what we say.
on their own will not motivate children to want to behave well or to remember
to behave well.
through is all about what we do after a child does something.
best rewards are those that are easy and quick and cost nothing.
easiest, quickest and most effective rewards are our positive reactions to
every little step in the right direction: our frequent use of Descriptive
easy, quick reward that reinforces the values and skills that we want our
children to develop is smiling and hugging.
are ten examples of small rewards that work well to motivate children to
improve all aspects of a child’s behaviour and schoolwork:
extra story or song at bedtime
extra five minutes of rough-and-tumble with a parent
outing with a parent without the siblings
a board game with a parent
extra fifteen minutes of screen time
the menu for a meal
on Mum’s jewellery or Dad’s ties
adult activity with a parent, such as baking
out or having a picnic in the garden
in the sitting room.
can use money to reward good behaviour and good work habits.
experience has taught her that children and teenagers who have to earn most of
the extras in their life become more motivated, more appreciative and more
recommendation is that children need to earn all or most of their pocket money.
you choose to use pocket money as an incentive, Noël recommends giving the
reward daily by marking on a chart each day the amount of money that they have
earned, even if you only hand over the money once a week.
for effective Rewards and Consequences
your child has earned a reward, it’s hers and you can’t take it away.
important not to let your child choose a reward that requires you to do
something for him that is his responsibility, such as setting the table or
feeding the cat.
a reward shouldn’t let a child get out of doing something you think is
important but that she finds uncomfortable, such as music practice or sharing.
not expect rewards by themselves to motivate a child who is quite reluctant,
impulsive or angry. A reward is a tool, something that makes it somewhat easier
for your child to develop the habits of cooperation and self-reliance. Rewards
are not a substitute for motivating with Descriptive Praise and Special Time or
for minimising and preventing problems by Preparing for Success and Reflective
your child does not manage to earn the rewards, make a point of sounding
disappointed, rather than angry or blaming. You could say, ‘Oh, what a shame. I
was hoping we could have that extra story tonight.’ This is empathetic, not
adversarial. It shows you’re on their side, and it’s far more motivating than
if you were to say, ‘It’s your own fault, you know, for wasting time by arguing
when you should have been getting on with your homework.’
addition to the rewards that your child knows in advance are available, it is
also motivating for you to occasionally surprise her with rewards that she was
not expecting. This achieves two purposes. First, it helps her to see herself
in a new light, as a person who can delight and impress the parent. It also
models a generous, giving attitude, which she will, over time, absorb and
important not to use food as a reward. Food is too emotive an issue, too linked
with love and acceptance. It’s much better not to tie food to anything that has
to do with approval or disapproval.
action replay consists of you and your child replaying the scenario, but this
time he does the right thing straight away, without any misbehavior or fuss.
action replays after any misbehavior, large or small, to give your child
practice at doing the right thing.
effective consequence is what Noël calls sitting apart. Sitting apart is
similar in some ways to a time-out, but is much more manageable.
is the same about sitting apart and a time-out is that your child has to stay
sitting in one place. His freedom of movement is temporarily curtailed. What is
different between sitting apart and a time-out is that the sitting apart
happens in the same room where you are.
apart is an effective consequence because children do not want to have to stay
in one place.
usual guideline is a minute for each year of the child’s age.
the misbehavior for which you want to do a sitting apart happens in public, you
can wait and do the sitting apart as soon as you get home. Or you can take your
child to the car temporarily, and do the sitting apart right there.
your young child keeps getting up from whichever part of the room you have
designated as the sitting apart place, keep putting her back immediately and
Descriptively Praise her a lot whenever she stays there, even for a few
your child has completed the sitting apart by sitting quietly until the timer
goes ding, he has to tell you in his own words and in a full sentence why you
gave him a sitting apart.
to Descriptively Praise something about his reply.
after the timer goes ding, your child is still so angry that he is not yet
willing to speak sensibly or to do the action replay properly, just set the
timer for another minute or two of sitting apart.
Ready in The Mornings
your child frequently makes a fuss about what to wear, have a rule that clothes
need to be chosen and laid out the night before.
who are able to dress themselves need to dress themselves, every single day,
even when you are in a hurry and even when they are whingeing about it.
has to be completely dressed, hair brushed, beds made, pets fed, pajamas put
away and school bags near the door before breakfast is served.
screen time before school.
breakfasts need to be healthy.
do everything you possibly can the evening before.
everyone more time in the morning by waking the family up ten to twenty minutes
everyone to help before and after meals.
family members who are at home need to sit together for the meal, even if they
are not hungry.
comes to the table as soon as they are called.
the meal with a short ritual, maybe giving thanks.
one can start eating until the whole family is at the table and until a parent
has said everyone may begin.
screen time, toys, books, mobile phones or earphones at the table.
everyone the same meal.
your fingers and your mouth on your napkin.
ask for seconds when you’ve finished everything on your plate.
for something to be passed to you, instead of reaching across someone.
up straight with your legs down, and elbows off the table.
stay at the table until excused by an adult.
a rule about children finishing everything on their plate.
children a healthy snack between breakfast and lunch and another between lunch
help children eat more healthily, avoid keeping foods that are not good for
sure there is always a napkin at each table setting to train children not to
wipe their mouths on their sleeves.
children small portions.
children cutlery that is the right size for them so it is easy to use.
children with chairs that are the right size and the right height.
your day realistically so the family has enough time to enjoy each meal without
child who is hungry will eat her fill in fifteen minutes. Do not drag out mealtimes.
each meal for all family members with a First Plate, on which you will put tiny
amounts of five to eight different foods that your child has been known to eat
on occasion but does not like. The amount of each food needs to be so tiny (for
example a quarter of a pea) that it has no discernible taste! Only after your
child has eaten everything on his First Plate will you then give him his second
plate, which is a smallish amount of whatever you have made for dinner that
your child does like.
a rule for yourself that when one child comes to you complaining about the
other, you will stay out of it.
your children, especially boys, many opportunities to play-fight.
your older child a few special privileges.
each of the children play alone for some time every day (not in front of a
screen), even when a sibling is home.
you are worried about a child’s safety, move in close.
you are not worried about safety, stay out of their conflict, even if one of
the children is crying or complaining.
of intervening, find something to Descriptively Praise.
a ‘squabbling place’.
to three years old: Screens aren’t recommended. Three to eight years old: Up to
half an hour a day in front of a screen. From eight years old through to
adulthood: One hour daily of leisure screen time (except on special occasions,
eg. going to the cinema or watching a football match on television).
leisure screen use only on certain days.
children earn screen time.
children ask first before switching on a screen.
screen time during playdates at your house.
screens on school day mornings.
screens on short car journeys.
screen time during meals.
off screens without a fuss today to earn tomorrow’s screen time.
children to get plenty of exercise.
clear about exactly what will happen when the time limit for screens is almost
a sacred homework time every day (except Sundays).
non-school days, set the homework time for early in the day to make sure it
allow your child to spend the amount of time on homework that the school
homework when fresh.
in realistic breaks.
prevent overload, make a rule that your child has an active break (not in front
of a screen) every fifteen to thirty minutes, depending on his current ability
to concentrate on academic work. Decide in advance when your child can have
and train children to do their best.
your child high-quality fuel to do high-quality work.
the use of computers for homework and projects.
help children get the maximum benefit from their homework, divide each homework
task into three distinct stages:
your child think about how to do the task well so that he will learn whatever
there is to be learned from the activity. Even for simple pieces of work, ask
your child to tell you exactly what he needs to do and how and where and why.
Ask leading questions to guide him to think carefully about any aspects of the
task that he may be unaware of or that he tends to overlook.
your child does his homework, without any help.
your child to improve his attention to detail, his thoroughness, his editing
and his proofreading skills.
Up and Looking After Belongings
five minutes of tidying-up time before dinner.
away any toy or game, art project, etc. that has been taken out before
beginning the next activity.
a rule where any toys or clothes left lying around the house will be removed by
the parent and need to be earned back.
your child, sort through his belongings, and weed out all the unnecessary
duplicates, as well as all the outgrown or broken equipment, books, games and
from your child’s room all the toys and equipment that can’t easily be put
a specific, easily accessible place for all your child’s belongings.
a child who seems to be disorganised and distractible by temperament, take a
photograph of each part of her room after it has been tidied to your
enticing or potentially messy games up high.
aside the same time every day (straight after dinner works best for most
families) when all family members spend ten or fifteen minutes together doing
some household task.
your child two choices so she doesn’t feel bossed about.
particularly unpopular tasks, require only five or ten minutes at first.
children take it in turns to do certain tasks.
day long, whatever household task you are involved in, think about which parts
of the task you could start teaching your child to do.
advantage of the times when your child wants you to play with her. Develop a
routine where first she helps you with a part of what you’re doing; then you
play with her.
a place where your child will play on her own.
your children make a list of activities they might enjoy doing independently.
by example—enjoy your own pursuits.
with your partner what the right bedtime should be for your children, and make
this the rule.
older children and teenagers to read or draw in bed if they are not yet tired,
but only if they are in bed at the time you have set.
flexibility on non-school nights.
older children and teenagers to stay up a maximum of one hour later than their
usual bedtime, and for younger children a maximum of half an hour later.
bedtimes so that younger children are getting to bed earlier so they get the
rest they need.
snacks after dinner is over including milk.
your child feels attached to a special blanket or cuddly toy, make sure that it
always stays on the bed and that he is not allowed to carry it around.
The Opposite Of Spoiled shows you how to raise financially conscious children, who learn the value of money early on by leading an open dialogue about money, giving them responsibility and teaching them patience.
We really, really, need it. Personally, I think I’ve turned out alright for my current age in how I deal with money, my parents have done a decent job. One thing that took me way too long though, is understanding how hard it is to earn money and that the earlier you start doing it, the better.
This book will help you prevent that with your own children,
among other things. I’m very troubled to see how financially illiterate my
generation is. Most of my fellow millennials think it’s perfectly fine to take
however much money you have for the month, and, at the end of it, have none
In their defense, a lot of that battle was lost in their
childhood, when their parents never talked about money and showered them with
gifts. So let’s make sure you and I do a better job with our own children.
Here are 3 lessons from The Opposite of Spoiled:
There are four things that can spoil a kid, most of which don’t have to do with money.
Don’t sweep the topic of money under the rug and always answer honestly.
Let your kids earn their own money as soon as they can.
Ready to raise financially literate children? Let’s make
them the opposite of spoiled!
Lesson 1: Of the four things that spoil kids, most aren’t
What’s the most annoying thing about young people and
teenagers today? Come on, you can say it, I won’t be mad. Would you say it’s
that they’re stupid? Disrespectful? Egoistic? The most common answer to that
question wraps up all of them into one: they’re spoiled.
In our minds, the word “spoiled” is almost directly
connected with the word “money,” but Ron Lieber says the two actually have
fairly little to do with one another.
Here are the four factors that spoil kids:
Having no chores, tasks, or responsibility to other people.
Having no rules to follow or guidelines and schedules to
Being given way too much attention by their parents.
Having many material possessions.
Just that last one is about money. If you think about these
in your own childhood, you’ll quickly see why you have the financial habits you
Personally, I had to re-fill the water in our house, make my
own bed, vacuum my own room and some other basic things. I was punished (but
not heavily) for breaking rules, learned how to entertain myself (I’m an
introvert anyways), but did have lots of material possessions. I think that got
me about 60% of the way there – what I had to learn later was that it takes
time and patience to earn the money to buy something you want.
So how can you avoid these with your own children?
Lesson 2: Never make money a taboo topic, always lead an
honest, open dialogue about it with your kids.
First of all by not sweeping the topic of money under the
rug altogether. One of the great things of doing something online is that it
teaches you the value of transparency. I wouldn’t mind sharing any of the
financial details of my life, in fact, I often have.
At the very least, you should be open and honest about it to
your children. When they ask you how much you earn, don’t say “enough,” because
you’re embarrassed or scared they might talk to their friends about it.
Instead, ask them why they want to know – maybe they’re afraid you’ll move
houses or want to buy something for a friend in need.
Just give honest answers and start a discussion about money
with them. And since children often can’t grasp the magnitude of numbers, don’t
stop there. Show them how much things cost, like your electricity bill or
monthly car payment, and ask them what they think of financial decisions you’re
about to make.
An especially helpful exercise is to ask your kids to guess
the value of something you’re about to buy and give them the correct answer.
This’ll help them get a grip on numbers and categorize prices.
Lesson 3: Teach your kids the value of earning money by
letting them take a job.
Hundred years ago life as a child was pretty shitty. The
second you were old enough to hold things, you had to put your arms to use,
help on the farm, around the house, or worse, work grueling hours in a factory.
But today we’ve ended up at the other extreme, where
helicopter parents try to protect their kids from the real world for as long as
possible, thus setting them up to fail miserably when the bubble bursts.
The one thing I wished my parents had forced me to do is to
get a job as a kid. It would’ve taught me how hard it is to earn money a lot
earlier. My sister worked as a waitress for six months after graduating high
school – and already she’s started to be much more conscious about how she
spends her money.
Apart from the hard skills they learn from the job itself,
working also teaches kids communication skills, reliability and responsibility.
Plus they won’t waste their hard-earned money, taking the pressure off you to
provide for them. Who knows, once they start to catch on, they might even want
to pay for themselves and be able to help pay for things you could never afford
to buy them on your own.
One caveat though: you can’t just pay your kids for doing
chores. These are necessary tasks everyone has to do – you don’t get paid for
them either. That’d teach them to look for financial incentives in the wrong
My personal take-aways
As I said above, I really think we need this book today more
than ever. Whether you have kids already or not, this’ll help set them up for a
successful financial life – an absolutely crucial skill!
Why We Love delivers a scientific explanation for love, shows you how it developed historically and evolutionarily, tells you what we’re all attracted to and where we differ, and of course gives you actionable advice to deal with both the exciting, successful romance in your life, as well as its sometimes inevitable fallout.
Isn’t it funny? Love is one of, if not the most crucial part
of a happy life, yet we learn nothing about it in school, aren’t taught
anything about it in college (unless you study biology or anthropology, maybe),
and hardly pick up a book to teach ourselves – love books don’t perform nearly
as well as other self-help books.
Today, we’ll change that. You’ll learn something from the
most referenced scholar in the love department. Her name is Dr. Helen Fisher
and she’s been researching what makes us fall in and out of love for 40+ years.
Why We Love explains the most complex thing in the world
from a biological, historical, evolutionary and of course practical standpoint,
making it one of the prime books on love.
Here are 3 lessons to help you win the race for romance:
Love is a chemical thing, mostly based on three hormones.
We’re all attracted to mystery, symmetry and difference.
You have your own unique love map, which helps you find your
Dying for some dopamine? Let’s boot the love system!
Lesson 1: Three hormones are responsible for the majority of
your love feelings.
For centuries people have sought the source of love. People
have looked to the stars, magic powers and mystical oracles, but for a few
decades we’ve known what’s really behind the most complex feeling of them all:
Depending on which neurotransmitters and hormones are
released in your brain in certain situations, you experience love – or not.
Helen Fisher has identified three primary neurotransmitters,
which make you fall in love: dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine.
You’re probably familiar with dopamine – it’s what makes you
happy. When you’re waiting in line at the coffee shop and your favorite song
comes on in the radio, which suddenly makes you tap your foot and hum along,
that’s dopamine at work. It’s one of the most powerful mood changers, as it
controls your attention, motivation and has addictive capacities. In fact, the
response your body shows when you’re with the one you love is not that
different from taking a drug like cocaine – no wonder love drives us crazy,
Norepinephrine makes you feel thrilled, excited and
constantly “on”. You know, those butterflies in your stomach or when you can
hear your heart beating in your chest. It’s also what causes you sleepless
nights and makes you lose your appetite (I remember falling so hard for a girl
once, that I ate almost nothing for a week – my family thought I was sick
Serotonin then completes the bunch as it makes you feel
restless, so you pace back and forth in your room, while your beloved does the
same in your head, as you can’t stop thinking about them. However, when this
happens your level of serotonin aren’t higher, they’re lower than usual.
Lesson 2: We’re all attracted to people who are mysterious,
different and visually symmetric.
So what triggers the release of these three hormones? Three
things we’re all attracted to, no matter our gender or personal preferences,
are mystery, difference and symmetry.
Mystery triggers your curiosity and ancient instincts to
maximize variety in your life (just as with food), because experiencing
something new always releases dopamine.
Difference makes sure our offspring stays healthy, as mixing
DNAs with a big difference creates a healthier, more balanced DNA in our
children, which puts them at less risk of getting sick.
Symmetry speaks to the eye, because when we look at
symmetric bodies and faces, which are considered to be more beautiful, more
dopamine is released in our brain.
But in the end, we don’t all go for the same types of
people, so where do we differ in our quest for love?
Lesson 3: You have your own unique love map, which helps you
find your ideal partner.
Helen Fisher calls it a love map. It’s a set of
characteristics, both physical and non-physical, like eye color, hair style,
height, pitch of voice, kindness, motivation, and so on.
Combined, these make up your ultimate partner, the person
you find most attractive. This love map is developed over time and it gets more
and more refined as you get older and learn more about yourself and how you
love. It unconsciously guides you, for example when you enter a crowded room,
and instinctively tells you who you’re attracted to and who not.
Your love map is absolutely unique to you, and no two people
have the same, which was found when observing identical twins. Even though they
usually have very similar values and interests, their tastes in love are often
Note: As a fun exercise, try to write down everything you
think is on your love map. You’ll be surprised at how specific the idea of your
perfect partner is, that you have in your head already. It’s good to get these
things out and become aware of what you’re looking for.
My personal take-aways
This book doesn’t break love down to an exact science, and
that’s a good thing. It educates you. It expands your knowledge in love and
once you close it and put it down, that slowly seeps in. I believe this book
has a very strong, but subtle power to influence your unconscious in a way
that’ll make you behave more aligned with your love map.
No one learns enough about love, I’d actually suggest this
to you before a whole bunch of other books on success, productivity, or
Why Is Sex Fun takes a humorous look at the evolution of human sex life, explaining why the way we behave sexually is often odd, but necessary for our survival.
This was an impulse read. I read the title and thought to
myself: “Yeah, why IS sex fun?”, so I clicked. Only now did I find out that
this book was written by Jared Diamond, who’s also author of the famous Guns,
Germs and Steel.
Here are the 3 fun things I learned:
Your dog would think the way you have sex is super weird.
Concealed ovulation developed so we stay monogamous.
Menopause helps women live longer.
Now let’s have some fun!
Lesson 1: Your dog thinks your sex life is super weird.
Compared to thirty million other animal species, we really
are the “odd one out”. If your dog could talk, he’d probably pull you aside and
tell you to get your sex life straight.
“How can you just randomly have sex on any day of the month?
Even if the woman has just had her period. That’s gross!
And when you finally do get her pregnant, you STILL keep
having sex. What’s that about?
Honestly, I don’t get any of this.
But the part that weirds me out the most is why you can’t
just have sex in public, like any normal animal would do. What’s with all the
dimmed lights, closed blinds, and secrecy?
I’m just glad I didn’t see you leave your socks on!”
Okay, that last part I made up. But even just comparing us
to the 4,300 other mammal species on earth, these are still valid questions
from your dog.
Whether you look at chimpanzees, wolves, lions, bears,
birds, beavers, squirrels or kangaroos – they all mate only when the female is
fertile, they do so wherever they want, and immediately stop having sex as soon
as the female is pregnant.
Who’s the weirdo now?
Lesson 2: Concealed ovulation is what made us monogamous.
This was a big lightbulb moment for me. The reason we
randomly have sex is we simply don’t know when a woman is fertile.
Unlike other mammals, women show no obvious, exterior signs
that they are fertile. Baboons can spot fertility from miles away (they are the
ones with the red bums), deer make sounds to signal they’re ready and fish can
pair their sperm and eggs any time, since they fertilize externally.
Diamond argues that concealed ovulation developed in order
to promote monogamy. A man who leaves a woman shortly after sex might
potentially put his offspring in danger, in case she’s pregnant.
Furthermore, since we can have sex any time, the desire to
immediately find other fertile females becomes weaker. And even if males were
to take off right after sex, they wouldn’t know how to spot, new fertile
This is likely designed by evolution to keep us together,
protect our children, and help them grow up.
So yeah, monogamy is what’s up!
Lesson 3: Menopause helps women live longer lives.
The less fertile you are, the longer you live.
Shocker, right? But it makes sense. Keeping up fertility in
the form of cells, sperm and going through the reproduction cycle over and over
again costs the body a lot of precious resources.
Studies have found that male worms, who suffer from a
mutation which causes them to produce less sperm, live longer.
The same is true for females, which is why menopause, the natural
transition women go through around age 50 to become infertile, helps them live
Even the most cared for zoo apes hardly live beyond 60
(Gregoire, the oldest chimp ever, died at age 66), yet the average life
expectancy for women is 81 years.
Menopause helps women’s bodies remain in better condition
for longer. Just think of the dangers and problems that come with being
pregnant at age 39 vs. 28, for example.
This limit on fertility also helps women spend more of their
energy towards their own development and the education of their children. In
this way, fewer births have lead to a higher survival rate.
Imagine how important this was thousands of years ago, when
the only source of knowledge were other people – the elders lived long enough
to passed on everything they knew to their children and grandchildren, which
ultimately let us evolve so fast.
My personal take-aways
For this book reading a summary was perfect. It’s a book I
would never have bought, and this way I got to learn 3 cool things about a
field I usually don’t occupy myself with a lot – biology.
My biggest aha-moment was in lesson 2, who could’ve guessed
we came up with hidden ovulation on purpose, so to speak?
The dog story in the beginning was fun, in the book Diamond actually writes from the perspective of a dog, which I tried myself at here, so I believe the book will be a fun read as well.
The Botany Of Desire describes how, contrary to popular belief, we might not be using plants as much as plants use us, by getting humans to ensure their survival, thanks to appealing to our desires for beauty, sweetness, intoxication and control.
Michael Pollan writes great books about food. He’s
incredibly thorough in his research and never fails to tell interesting
stories, in which he wraps up and embeds the important points he wants to get
across to the reader.
His most popular book is The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which has
been showered with praise for its critical depiction of how the industrial
revolution has changed the way we eat. In Defense of Food then shows us how to
go back to more natural ways.
But The Botany of Desire is different. Published in 2001,
it’s one of his oldest books, and it proposes a very intriguing idea: that
plants use and control us as much as we use and control them.
Here are 3 lessons that will change how you look at plants
Plants use humans and animals because they can’t move.
The apple used its sweetness and one particular guy tospread itself all across America.
Our brain contains a place that’s specifically designed torespond to cannabis.
Wanna know how the apple got its “green” card? Sure, here we
Lesson 1: What if plants use you to spread their seeds? They
might do so because they can’t move on their own.
The story we’re always told in school is the one of the
birds and the bees, explaining how plants depend on bees to spread their
pollen, and offer their nectar in exchange. It’s always a story of the “poor
plants,” who can’t survive on their own and always need others to help.
This makes it natural for us to think of plants like objects
and humans and animals like subjects. We’re the active ones, we “do” stuff, and
if we don’t choose to include plants in our plan, well, they get left out.
But what if the plants are in charge? What if they’re the
subjects, getting us to do stuff for them?
If you think about it, the only reason that makes us think
of plants as helpless creatures is that they can’t move on their own. Fine, so
they can’t go anywhere and replicate, but if that’s the only handicap they
have, then all they have to do to overcome it is get others to come to them and
do it for them.
And boy, are they doing a great job. By producing things
that speak to our basic desires, specifically those for sweetness, beauty,
intoxication and control, they might really be the ones controlling us.
Let’s look a sweetness and intoxication in particular.
Lesson 2: By being sweet the apple got one particular guy to
spread it all across America.
When you visit the US, apples abound. The east coast has an
entire apple industry, with many popular tourist activities being apple
picking, learning how to make apple cider, and of course visiting apple farms.
It might come as a shock to you then that there’s only one
kind of apple native to North America: the crabapple, and it’s barely edible.
Being most noteworthy for giving its name to a Simpsons character, you might
now ask: “Well, where do all the apples come from then?”
As it turns out, one man is largely responsible for
America’s “appleness”, and that man’s name is Johnny Appleseed. Really named
John Chapman, he got his nickname for contributing to the growth of millions of
apple trees across 1,200 all throughout the country from 1800 to 1845.
European settlers had tried to introduce the apples they
brought with them to America for decades, but they were unsuited for the new
climate. Johnny realized that every apple’s seeds contain a different set of
genes, so by simply planting a lot of them, eventually some would flourish. He
traveled wherever America would expand next to, planting new trees and helping
the new settlers abide by the government’s rule that 50 apple or pear trees had
to be planted on new land.
Of course, if Johnny and the people hadn’t loved apples,
none of this would’ve worked. But by being a cheap, sweet, nourishing food in a
time when sweet foods were rare and sugar was a luxury, the apple got Johnny to
spread itself all across an entire continent.
Lesson 3: There’s a place in our brains that’s specifically
designed to respond to THC, the substance in marijuana.
Note: None of this is medical advice, the below is purely
informational. Be sure to follow your local laws and consult a professional
before using marijuana, even if it’s legal where you live.
How do you think humans discovered that cannabis could make
you high? I mean, it’s not like someone just walked up to a plant, looked at it
and thought: “Hey, let’s dry this, roll it up, light it on fire and inhale the
smoke, that should be a great idea!”
Pollan says that chances are we saw someone else being high
near the plants and thus deduced that they could alter our state of
consciousness. That “someone” was a bird. Yup, pigeons love to snack some
Of course a long time went by between that and the late
1800s, when marijuana started becoming popular as a recreational drug. Until
the mid 1930s, doctors even prescribed cannabis as a painkiller. But by 1937,
the possession of marijuana was made illegal in the US, as the government felt
it wasn’t researched well enough.
Throughout the 20th century, several surprising discoveries
The psychoactive substance that causes the “high” is called
THC – delta-9-tetrahyrdocannabinol.
Our brain has receptors, specifically designed to react to
THC, just like it has receptors for serotonin and endorphins, for example.
Our brain also manufactures its own version of THC, a
cannabinoid called anandamide.
We still don’t know everything about cannabis, but the fact
that our brains are designed to deal with it alone reveals how powerfully the
plant uses its capacity to intoxicate to control us.
My personal take-aways
The only complaint I have about this book is that the title
is misleading. I had it sit in my library of blinks for a while, thinking it
had something to do with how plants influence sex, for example explaining
aphrodisiacs. This was a total surprise, and a great one. A very powerful
exercise in first principles thinking.
1-Sentence-Summary: Labor of Love illustrates the history of
modern dating as we know it, starting from its origins in the late 1800s all
the way to the dating websites and apps we know today.
Read in: 4 minutes
Favorite quote from the author:
Labor Of Love Summary
There’s always something to complain about when looking at
the current state of dating. Maybe you didn’t want an arranged marriage in
1884. Some will have thought it sucked you had to make lots of money to be
attractive in the 1920s. And not everyone was happy with the whole “free love”
thing in the 60s.
But the fact of the matter is: Dating is going to be what
it’s going to be. Whatever era you’re alive in, you’re just gonna have to deal
with it and find your way anyway.
As I’ve been making an effort to bring back some of the
long-lost old-time courtship and chivalry to dating myself (no thanks to
Tinder), I thought learning more about the history of relationships made sense.
Moira Weigel, a PhD candidate at Yale has written just the book for it. It’s called
Labor of Love: The Invention of Dating.
Here are my 3 favorite takeaways:
When women started moving to cities during the Industrial
Revolution, dating as we know it first began.
There’s a reason you think it’s important what people wear,
and it dates back about 100 years.
Netflix ‘n’ chill isn’t new. It goes back to the 50s.
Whatever you’re trying to master, it always pays to learn
about a field’s history. Dating is no different, so let’s go!
Lesson 1: Dating was invented when women started moving to cities.
Out of all things, the one you’d least expect to yield a big
influence over dating is probably economics. Yet, without some economic
developments, we wouldn’t even be dating at all. The Industrial Revolution with
its shift towards big factories and lots of manual labor required a lot of
workers in one place. The factories huddled together, creating infrastructure
around them and big cities were born.
Women moving to the city worked mostly as:
Before then, relationships were in the hands of parents and
relatives, the matchmakers of the 19th century. But now, both men and women
were out of the house, independent and had a chance to meet one another.
Because few people could afford spending money on entertainment
like a night at the theater or a restaurant, let alone big apartments that
weren’t crowded with 7-8 people, most dating was done in public: people snuck
away some quiet, romantic time in parks or dark alleyways.
The wealthier middle class “called” on each other instead.
Men knocked at a woman’s door, a servant would take the name and if the lady
was interested, the two would spend some quality time with each other – under
strict supervision, of course!
Lesson 2: Consumption became a central part of dating in the
1920s – and it still is today.
The second group from above set up the next big shift in
dating. It’s the reason dating sites like OkCupid ask for your brand
preferences before your personality traits and why Tinder thrives on judging people’s
looks. The women working as sales reps in shops in the early 1900s, so-called
shopgirls, infused dating with a big chunk of consumption.
Since only rich people could afford to shop, working in a
shop was a good way to meet a rich man and turn him into a rich husband. But
how do you convince someone who’s three standard deviations away on the social
status ladder to go out with you?
You show him you’ve got the same level of class as the women
he’s used to dating. The shopgirls soon mimicked rich women so perfectly in
their behavior and exclusive taste that it was hard to tell the difference
between who was shopping in a store, and who was working there.
This new model of judging people based upon their taste and
consumer preferences stuck, and it still influences us today: we check what
kind of movies, brands and artists people like on Facebook, and a big part of
first impressions is how people dress, including what the label says.
Lesson 3: Today’s hookup culture started all the way back in
Being a parent in the 1950s wasn’t a lot of fun, I imagine.
All you knew dating was for is finding a spouse and now your children start
telling you they’re “going steady” with their latest girlfriend or boyfriend.
While technically, going steady meant dating, it also meant
there was a decent chance you’d sleep with each other – or at the very least
wouldn’t stop at kissing and hugging.
The younger generation saw this as a ritual for coming of
age, much more than a lifetime commitment to a single-person and so premarital
sex became more and more accepted. By the mid-50s, going steady was such a huge
trend that children tried it as early as 11 years old!
Of course parents were worried a lot about this. They
weren’t familiar with the idea and afraid their children would just sleep
around. The institution of marriage wasn’t really hurt in the end, but a
significant portion of people who married in the 50s later admitted they had
done more than hug and kiss potential partners before finally settling down. A
study that proves this is the 20-year Kelly Longitudinal study.
So no, “Netflix and chill” isn’t exactly new 😉
My personal take-aways
If anything, this makes me reminisce of the “good old
times.” Sometimes I feel like I was born too late. Courtship, chivalry, I wish
these came more natural to us. You’re an outsider when you practice them. In
fact, you’re often laughed at. But it doesn’t matter. I believe in a world
where we treat each other nicely and with respect, so that’s what I’m gonna do.
Love people, use things. Not the other way around.