How and Why to Give Kids an Allowance

coins-in-handThe days of paper routes are over, yet the market is flooded with gadgets and games kids insist they must have in order to simply exist. It’s a tough parenting world today. We want to teach our kids responsibility, work ethic and long term gratification. These values can be modeled, and they can also be instilled in the younger child. Once your child is eight or nine years old, it’s time to start.

Ground Rules

One of the ways to instill these values is through having your child earn an allowance. It’s a wide range here, given the huge maturity differences between eight year olds and fifteen year olds. Some basic pointers on establishing the ground rules and expectations for an allowance follow.

  • Select what works for your family and good luck!
  • Work together with your child to establish the the rules and expectations.
  • Decide on what chores will need to be completed and what the payment will be.
  • Will this happen on a monthly basis or weekly?
  • Can the child accomplish part of the list and receive partial payment?

The more you engage your child in this process, the greater sense of ownership they’ll have. If they suggest they don’t want to work for an allowance, that’s fine too. Just let them know they won’t be receiving any discretionary spending money each week. That may eventually begin to burn!

Quality control

Will you ensure that the chores are completed to the best of our child’s ability in a timely manner or will you ask your child to check behind himself? Remember, this is a learning process and won’t necessarily go smoothly out of the gate. Work together to look at the final product. This will reinforce the value of responsibility and pride in one’s work. It’s a slow lesson to learn and trait to develop, but you will be giving them a gift that will last longer than any of the latest must have gadgets on the market.

Encourage your child to set short and long term goals with the allowance he receives. Setting aside a portion of the allowance each week might result in a trip to the Disney Store for a favorite toy or figurine. A short term reward might be a trip to the ice cream shop. Encourage, empower and reward your child throughout the process. Establishing the foundations for an allowance will help develop the values of responsibility, work ethic and long term gratification that are so critical in all aspects of life. Good luck!

Top Tips for Mom Inventors

by Tamara Monosoff

What many multi-tasking moms don’t realize is that they already possess the necessary skills to become successful entrepreneurs.  These essential skills are practiced and strengthened on a daily basis such as; coming up with creative solutions to everyday problems, extraordinary time management (getting kids to school, activities, doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping, preparing meals), stamina (staying up all night when the stomach flu hits the household), all while living within a budget.  In fact, these skills are directly transferrable to launching and running a successful business.  When I hear a mother say, “I’m just a mom, I can’t run a business,” nothing could be further from the truth. And, becoming an entrepreneur has benefits such as a flexible schedule and an opportunity to contribute to the family income.

For the past ten years, I have seen thousands of people transform that initial idea into creative, money-generating new products.  And, with the resurgent economy and awesome new resources available for developing, manufacturing, funding, video marketing, selling and distributing products, the opportunity for inventive product entrepreneurs has never been better.

Every entrepreneur’s journey is unique, but like any new endeavor, the most important steps are the first ones.

Below are seven tips to get you started on the right path:

  1. Treat Your Product Idea as a Business from the Start. There is no true short-cut. With an open mind, analyze and understand the design and production costs, market size, selling price, profit potential, and competition BEFORE you spend money bringing your product to market.

  2. To Patent or NOT to Patent? A patent can be a useful tool but it is not a requirement and sometimes a waste of precious resources. Consider taking advantage of a Provisional Patent Application (PPA) first. It is a placeholder that will buy you 12 months of time before you have to officially file a utility patent.

  3. Make it Simple. Many new product ideas include flashy features from electronics to excessive bells and whistles that drive up production costs and the retail price. Creating high-quality products with fewer features–but priced right — can mean more sales and money in your pocket.

  4. Raise Smart Money. Use crowd-funding, microloans, credit lines, and new online options that fit your business. There has never been a better time to fund your business.

  5. Bring Your Product to Life with a Prototype. Start with something basic that will be refined over time. It does not need to be expensive or fancy.

  6. Be Cautious of “Opportunities.” Be careful to scrutinize companies that offer to market or license your product with sweet deals that sound too good to be true. Use the same good practices you would use to select a contractor, plumber, or new nanny.

  7. Celebrate Your Successes…Large and Small. Recognize setbacks for what they are an unavoidable — and sometimes the most valuable — part of the journey. This is an opportunity to build a business and life that you LOVE.

There are many steps along this journey but with the abundance of new resources available you can take your idea and run.  As Julie Martin-Allen, Senior Director of Showcase Events for Sam’s Club said in the foreword of my new book, “My final advice to those readers who aspire to see their products on the shelves of the nation’s top retailers; be courageous and go for it!”

For more resources on funding, manufacturing, publicity and managing your business check out The Mom Inventors Handbook, How to Turn Your Great Idea into the Next Big Thing, Revised and Expanded 2nd Ed (second edition), released on April 1, 2014.


Tamara Monosoff is an award-winning inventor, educator, media contributor, speaker and author of six bestselling books; including the new interactive version of The Mom Inventors Handbook, How to Turn Your Great Idea into the Next Big Thing, Revised and Expanded 2nd Ed(second edition). If you need help getting started, Tamara offers Power Mentoring Programs that will rocket you to success! Visit:

Frugality – Teach Your Children Well

by Claire K. Levison

saleMy dad is a master of frugality.  His brother often remarks that it’s “the family way.”  As a kid, I thought my dad was cheap but as it turns out, he’s just smart.  He knows what’s important to him and what isn’t.  Those priorities are reflected in the way he spends his money.  The car he had when I was in high school was the base model.  It didn’t even have a radio.  When I would ask him why, he would say, “I don’t need a radio in my car.”  When Dad would take me to a fast food restaurant (a fairly rare occasion), he was never willing to buy drinks.  “Those drinks are so over-priced.  We can get a drink at home,” he would tell me.  As a child, I didn’t understand it.  It drove me nuts.  Now as an adult, I can see that where it drove me was down a path of financial success.

As a mother, I’ve vowed to teach my children to be frugal too.  My fourteen-year-old hasn’t fully embraced the concept yet.  She does enjoy seeing her money go further when she buys things that are on sale, but she’s still fairly enamored with high dollar items.  And I’m not always as good as my dad was when it comes to holding firm.  I can’t remember my dad ever giving in to those fast food sodas.  Although I’m sure he must have at some point during my eighteen years of childhood.

And yes, as time goes on in our society, it seems that ante is continually being upped.  Instead of a soda, my daughter wants UGGs. When I bought her first pair, I remember thinking, “I can never tell my dad how much I just paid for these boots.  He will think I have completely lost my mind.”  Although I was buying an expensive pair of shoes for my daughter, frugality was still churning inside me.  When I looked at the price tag of those boots, it set off an alarm in my head.  Even as a grown woman, I was asking myself what my dad would think of that purchase.  It made me feel uncomfortable.  It made me think, “This should be a rare occasion.  This should be a special treat.”

I could tell you that you should never buy your kids a pair of UGGs or some similar name brand item, but I’m not going to. I think as parents we can find a balance between providing a lifestyle that allows our children some flexibility in a world that puts such a high value on material things and providing a lifestyle that shows our children that frugality will ultimately be a roadmap for financial success.

I expect, like it is with so many other lessons we try to teach our children when they’re growing up, that it may not be until my daughter is out on her own that the light bulb will really go off in her head.  I picture her being debt-free, having a solid savings account, and investing for retirement and other future needs she’ll have.  I picture her standing in the midst of her firm financial foundation thinking to herself, “Wow, I guess Mom really did know what she was talking about when it came to all that frugal stuff.  She taught me well.”  I don’t think this is too much to hope for.

But for now, my sweet daughter just rolls her eyes when I drag her to the clearance section at the back of a store.  I don’t go shopping that often but when I do, I always hit the clearance racks first.  Maybe it’s my version of a radio-less car or a soda-less trip to McDonald’s.  Dad taught me well.  Teach your children well too.

Clare K. Levison is a certified public accountant and author of Frugal Isn’t Cheap:  Spend, Less, Save More, and Live Better.  She is a national financial literacy spokesperson for the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and has appeared on major radio and television networks across the country discussing various personal finance topics.   She has served as a member of the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants (VSCPA) Board of Directors and was named one of the 2010 Top Five CPAs Under Thirty-Five by the VSCPA. Levison has more than a decade of corporate accounting experience and is also an active volunteer, serving as PTA president, Girl Scout leader, and Sunday school teacher.  She lives in Blacksburg, Virginia with her husband and two daughters.

Tips For Children About the Basics of Money

by Patrick Bet-David

kids-moneyIt’s not that kids shouldn’t have fun, but today’s distractions are taking too much time from more important things like learning about money. Whether kids are going to the movies, shopping for clothes or music, buying a car, trying to help support their parents or even working a couple of jobs to pay for college, money is and always will be an important part of our lives.


Use these tips for children to learn about the basics of money:


Start a habit of saving money – Whether someone gives you five bucks or you just got your first paycheck, whatever money you are making, try to save at least 10% in an account that you try hard not to touch.


Start a budget – Open up your own savings account and learn the basics of having a bank account. Start a budget and learn to manage it.


Shop around – It’s tempting to see something we like and buy it on the spot, and that’s called instant gratification. But if you go online or wait a couple of months for a sale, that same item may cost less which saves you money.


Avoid credit cards at all costs – If you plan on buying an awesome car, buying a house one day, or being taken seriously in any business venture, your credit score will play a huge role in how much financial companies will trust your spending habits.


Focus on earning – Saving is very important, but if you’re not earning money you won’t have any to save. Start thinking like an entrepreneur at an early age. Open a lemonade stand, car washing business or pet walking service. The key is to offer a service that people are willing to pay for.


Expect more – People usually make the amount of money they feel they are worth, and most people sell themselves short. Teach children to have a high self-image, and they will create a world for themselves that meets that self-image.


Download an app on your phone – There are so many apps for managing your budget and savings on phones nowadays that you can track your money on the go. Get in the habit of keeping tabs on your spending habits.  Kids will have more fun doing this on their phones and tablets.


Bet-David says there is a difference between just saving money and building an awesome financial foundation, but it’s a good idea to start with the basics.

Alternatives To Cry It Out

Alternatives to the Cry It Out/Ferber Method

Alternatives to Cry It Out

There are ways to help teach your baby how to put herself to sleep that, when used correctly, can work faster than the Cry It Out method, without the stress on you or your baby. You can start now, whether your baby is a newborn or well into her first year. Our favorite methods come from The Baby Whisperer, Tracy Hogg.

First Steps to Encourage Independent Sleep

From the day you bring your baby home from the hospital there are many things you can do that will help teach her to be an independent sleeper, which means more sleep for you! It important to realize, however, that babies are not ready to go through “sleep training” until they are four months old. These first steps do not really fall into the category of “sleep training”, yet they are extremely helpful and lay a great foundation for when your baby is a few months old and able to soothe herself.

The first thing you should do is keep your baby on a flexible routine or schedule. This benefits both parents and baby and makes it very easy to learn to read your baby. To find out more, read our article about Establishing A Routine For Your Baby.

Reading Your Baby’s Sleep Cues

Once a routine has been established, you will find that you can easily read your baby’s sleep cues. You will know when she is getting tired and learn when is the best time to put her to bed. When you hit this “window” of time, putting your baby to sleep can be quite simple. Here are some typical sleep cues, Tracy Hogg outlines by developmental stages:

“When they gain control of their heads: As they become sleepier, they turn their face away from objects of people, as if trying to shut out the world. If carried, they bury their face into your chest. They make involuntary movements, flailing their arms and legs.

When they gain control of their limbs: Tired babies may rub their eyes, pull at their ears or scratch at their faces.

When they begin to gain mobility: Babies who are getting tired become visibly less coordinated and lose interest in toys. If held, they’ll arch their backs and lean backward. In their cribs, they can inch their way into a corner and may wedge their heads there. Or they’ll roll one way and get stuck because they can’t roll back.

When they can crawl and/or walk: Coordination goes first when older babies are tired. If trying to pull themselves up, they’ll fall; if walking, they’ll stumble or bump into things. They have full control of their own bodies, so they’ll often cling to the adult who is trying to put them down. They can stand up in their cribs but often don’t know how to get back down-unless they fall, which frequently happens.”

Look for these signs and as soon as you recognize that your baby is getting tired, start your wind-down routine.

Know How Your Baby Falls Asleep

There is a three-stage process to falling asleep for all babies, but every baby will go through these stages in their own way. Watch and observe your baby to know and understand how she falls asleep. You will quickly learn whether your baby is ultra sensitive to the timing/window, if he is prone to jolting or if he drifts easily to sleep. The whole process usually takes 20 minutes, so stick it through long enough to really know when your baby has entered dreamland.

Tracy Hogg identifies the three stages of sleep as:

“Stage 1: The Window. Your baby shows you he is tired by yawning and exhibiting other sleep signs. By the third yawn , get him to bed. If you don’t he’ll start to cry rather than pass into the next stage.

Stage 2: The Zone. At this point, your baby has a fixed, focused glaze that lasts for three or four minutes. His eyes are open, but he’s not really seeing-he’s off somewhere in the stratosphere.

Stage 3: Letting Go. Now your baby resembles a person nodding off on a train: He closes his eyes and his head drops forward or to the side. Just as he seems to be falling asleep, his eyes open suddenly and his head whips backward, jolting his whole body. He’ll then close his eyes again and repeat the process anywhere from three to five times until he finally enters dreamland.”

The third stage is especially important to pay attention to and know as you follow these other steps to teach your baby how to fall asleep on her own.

Do The Right Things Leading Up to Sleep

Establishing a calm and consistent wind-down routine before every nap and before night time sleep is very important. It helps your baby know when sleep is coming. Tell her it’s naptime, bring her to her room, make sure the blinds are closed and that the room is dark, check that her diaper is clean and dry, swaddle her or put her in a sleep sack, sing her a song or play a nice lullaby, talk to her softly in her ear or read her a story, then sit with her quietly for about five minutes. The purpose is to calm her and get her ready for sleep, not to put her all the way to sleep. If/when you notice Stage 2 setting in, or if she starts closing her eyes, put her in her crib (she should still be awake at this point).

Once you put her in her crib, stay with her to make sure she goes all the way to dreamland and help her if needed. Sometimes babies will fuss when you put them down or when they experience a “Stage 3 jolt.” If she cries at this point, try to soothe her while she is still in her bed. You can do this by rhythmically patting her back and “shhhhhhushing” to her. Once she quits crying stop your patting so she does not depend on that to fall asleep.

Once her breathing deepens and the jolts have stopped (usually around the 20 minute mark) it is probably safe to say your baby is asleep!

Putting Your Baby Back to Sleep

Hopefully your baby will take great 1.5-2 hour naps and not wake after 40-45 minutes each time (the length of an entire sleep cycle) or sleep through until the next feeding (if he still needs them) at night. If he does wake early and he needs to sleep longer, you can help him go back to sleep without using any aids that will turn into bad habits and get in the way of your baby learning how to sleep (rocking, holding, feeding, etc.).

If your baby is just stirring/fussing, but not genuinely crying, don’t rush in. Some babies will stir a little but put themselves back to sleep. By rushing in you may actually disrupt them and interfere with them putting themselves back to sleep on their own. Wait until your baby is actually crying for help to go in to him. To learn more about knowing the difference in your baby’s cries, read our article on the “mantra cry” and when it’s ok to let your baby cry. When you do go in to your baby’s room, try first to soothe them while they are still in bed. A shush and a pat while they are in bed may be all it takes for them to calm back down and go back to sleep.

If your baby is under four months old, and he won’t settle in his bed, pick him and soothe him by continuing to shush and pat. Once he is calm, put him back in his crib. If necessary shush and pat to keep him calm in his bed. But again, do not do this until he falls asleep-the purpose is just to soothe.

If your baby is four months old or older, he will have more of an ability to soothe himself and should be encouraged to learn to self-soothe instead of depend on you. If he won’t settle in his bed, pick him up, but as soon as he quits crying (immediately-the second he quits), put him back down in his crib. If he starts to cry, try to settle him in bed, if that doesn’t work, pick him up, then put him down as soon as he quits crying–repeating this cycle for as long as it takes. If your baby starts to cry on his way back down to the mattress, be sure you put him all the way down before you pick him back up. Tracy Hogg calls this the “Pick Up/Put Down” method and it works amazingly well. Babies don’t get stressed or feel abandoned because you are there with them and they quickly learn that you are not going to hold them until they fall asleep. The first time you do this, you may have to pick your baby up and put him down many, many times, but each time you do it, the number of times will shorten until you don’t have to do it anymore. Now doesn’t that sound a lot better than listening to your baby cry and scream for you while you are letting them cry it out?!

Do not try the Pick Up/Put Down method for babies under four months as it will actually stimulate and disturb them. For these young babies, just stick with the shush/pat. For babies that are older (10-12 months) and toddlers, you will eliminate the pick up portion of the method. When they stand in the crib, you will just lay them back down. Sometimes a simple hug will suffice before you lay them down.

To read all about Tracy Hogg’s Sleep Methods and to hear many case studies, check out her incredible books: Secrets of the Baby Whisperer and The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems.

Recommended Reading

To read more about trying alternatives to the Cry It Out method, we recommend Tracy Hogg’s books, Secrets of the Baby Whisperer and The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems

Spot A Teen Eating Disorder

How to Spot an Eating Disorder in a Teen

how to spot an eating disorder

Teen eating disorders are becoming a common problem in our society. With the constant perception that thinner is better, many teens are starving their bodies, and doing damage to their internal organs. Of all the different eating disorders, teen anorexia is the most common. As these problems first start, the teen will try to hide their disorder, but as time progresses signs become more apparent.

Early intervention is essential in the treatment of teen eating disorders. When it is caught in the beginning stages, the learned behavior can be treated easier. As it progresses though, the behavior becomes a vigorous training of the mind and body, and the recovery process becomes far more difficult.  When you do go for treatment, you need to show you care and offer support, being confrontational with a sensitive eating disorder such as teen anorexia can have a negative outcome.

The following are different warning signs for an eating disorder. While they are in their early stages they may appear to be healthy dieting, and the individual may look like they are just being concerned about their weight. Watch as this progresses and intervene if necessary.

Restrictive Dieting: While limiting their food intake would be natural on a diet to a point, skipping meals as a whole is a warning sign. In teen anorexia for example, foods your child once loved will make them disgusted. They may simply skip meals on a regular basis as well and increase their intake of water.

At the times they do eat, your teen may only consume very small portions of food. They may even look over the packaging while you are making food, and find a combination of foods that deliver the least amount of calories. As the disease progresses further, diet pills and illegal drugs like speed may be used to help curb the feeling of being hungry.

Bingeing: Bingeing is another one of the teen eating disorders. Instead of limiting their diet, they eat normally around everyone at meals. In private, they will eat comfort foods in bulk. Usually there will be hidden stashes of junk food in their room, and sweets and chips in the kitchen may empty quickly.

Personal Image: When you look at a person with an eating disorder, you can begin to see the signs depending on what their body does. Someone suffering from teen anorexia will rapidly lose weight from their body.  At first they may try to conceal this weight loss with baggie clothing, but when they have reached a thinner level will wear more revealing attire. As it progresses further in stages, they will begin to wear clothing that covers them up more to prevent people from seeing their bones.

Weight gain and fluctuating weights are common for binge eating. With all disorders, the individual may spend unhealthy amounts of time in front of a mirror looking over their body and criticizing it as a whole, or specific areas that have some weight to them, even as they grow thinner.

Remember it is important to take the first step in intervention as soon as you notice a teen eating disorder. While many times it could be simple dieting, there is a chance it may be teen anorexia, which can lead to serious health problems.

To recap the following are warning signs every parent should watch for:

* An unnatural focus on body weight
* Calorie watching obsession
* Extreme dieting even when they are thin
* Unexplainable weight loss, or extreme instant weight loss
* Heavy consumption of diet pills and laxatives
* Habitual exercising
* Avoiding eating
* Refusal to go to social events where eating may be required
* Using the restroom after meals
* Secret late night snacking
* Stashing junk food

Improve Teen Self Esteem

How to Improve a Teen’s Self Esteem

Improve Teen Self EsteemIt is all too easy for teenagers to feel that somehow they are missing the mark and they are not as clever or as attractive as their friends. If you have a struggling teen who feels that he or she just isn’t good enough then you may be interested in ideas on how to improve a teen’s self esteem. Most of us recognize that character and a sense of self is built in childhood but tend to forget that teenagers also watch everything closely and look for clues as to how they should be.

Children and teenagers absorb what is going on around them and then reflect it back at you. If someone is growing up in a home where there are heated arguments and even violence then it hinders that teenager’s chance of developing a solid sense of self and forming healthy relationships.

A child who is emotionally neglected and never praised at home will grow into a troubled teen who sees life as a continual struggle and themselves as of no consequence. A major problem for teenagers is the hormonal trouble that affects us all, which is why teenagers are so sensitive and the way you treat them can have either a damaging or uplifting effect on the self esteem and their sense of self. When you are dealing with a teenager, it might not always be obvious, but praise and words of encouragement when ever the opportunity arises, can have a lasting positive effect on that person’s self esteem and character development.

Most teenagers exhibit the Greta Garbo effect of wanting to be alone at points but this does not mean that you should disengage from them. You need to be able to give them space, as and when they need it, while at the same time being there, ready to offer words of comfort and advice as needed.

Teenagers are often harder emotional work than most four year olds and their behavior is often extremely erratic, due to the hormonal changes in their body. While you can pick up a four year old, give them a hug and put them to bed, it is not that simple with a teenager. It is difficult to give someone their own space, while at the same time being mindful that they need you to be there, ready to offer words of encouragement and maybe offer a hug.

Most teenagers feel unsure of themselves because they are standing on the threshold of the adult world. On the one hand they want to grow up and experience all that adulthood has to offer, while on the other they still need your ready ear, your guiding hand, and your approval. Parenting a teen is not an easy job but if you follow a few general guidelines you will end up with a well rounded adult with a sense of their own worth.

How To Swaddle

How-To Swaddle Videos

Swaddling your baby can take some practice to get it right! If you didn’t catch on to how they did it in the hospital or you are looking for a new way to swaddle, check out these two how-to videos.

Using Dr. Harvey Karp’s (Happiest Baby On The Block) Method:

Using another Unique Method from a Midwife:

Recommended Reading/DVD

To learn more about swaddling and calming techniques for your baby, we recommend Dr. Harvey Karp’s, Happiest Baby on the Block book and DVD.