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Being a Good Uncle

dlpwillywonkadlpwillywonka Registered User regular
edited August 2008 in Help / Advice Forum
Hey there,

I have 2 nieces and 2 nephews. The eldest nephew I'm loved by, I keep him entertained when I'm there and got him interested in computers and reading to keep his interest while I'm away and that I can send him letters on how they're doing and such.

Now for my nieces, I've tried with the eldest to get her interested in reading and it's just not her thing, I've watched her grow up (she's 8 now) and it seems to me she'll grow up to be a bitch. Terrible thing to say but the trend seems likely and I'm hoping to get her something to interest her and to get her to think outside of her immediate surroundings. I've also sent her letters, which I'm told she enjoys. She's in a phase that seems to be very selfish. Only interested if it affects her and complains harshly if it affects her negatively.

Now the other niece and nephew from my other sister, they I don't get to visit as much. This niece was a little genius, at age 1 she was able to turn on the TV and dvd player, place the dvd inside and press play. Now, TV and DVD's seem to be all she's into. (age 5 now) When I visit she doesn't seem interested is hideNseek anymore or going on walks to the lake. The nephew on this side is only 2 so I'm not sure of how he's developing and this one I'm a godfather to, but hopefully they'll all turn out. My sister and her husband do alot of working, Him doing a 2nd shift and her doing a morning shift, so from what I can tell is they are tired when they get home and unfortunately use the TV and DVDs as babysitter.

My question is how can I help these kids enjoy life instead of coast through it. So yea, hints for activities to get the kids interested and excited again. Please and thank you

Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.
Carl Sagan
dlpwillywonka on

Posts

  • PulvaanPulvaan Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    you could buy them those Tintin comics or some other comics that are somewhat challenging to read, and outside the normal droll entertainment that you'd get on TV.

    Then you could move them on to similar books.

    Pulvaan on
  • dlpwillywonkadlpwillywonka Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    Reading is definitely high on my list of things to get them interested in, but I'd also like suggestions on like chemistry sets, science activity books, regular activity books, art supplies, etc

    dlpwillywonka on
    Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.
    Carl Sagan
  • Angel_of_BaconAngel_of_Bacon Moderator mod
    edited August 2008
    If their school has a team, I'd highly suggest trying to get them (or prevail upon their parents to get them) to sign up for Odyssey of the Mind.
    More info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odyssey_of_the_Mind

    Learns 'em how to work on a project team, how to build shit themselves, how to come up with creative solutions to problems, etc. The fact that it's an open-ended problem to achieve a specific goal gives (or at least for me it did) a lot better traction than normal school where it's largely just "memorize this", or people just handing educational stuff to a kid and hoping they take to it in some fashion.

    Letting a kid realize for themselves that they can solve a problem by going, "hey, we should paint this!" or, "hey we could use these Erector set parts to do this part", etc., etc. will make them actually interested in using the things at their disposal, rather than just putting paint or Erector sets in their general vicinity. The things are meaningless without being given purpose as well.

    Slightly relevant anecdote:
    Speaking of Erector sets, the old British version of Erector, Meccano, used to intentionally put errors in their set construction kit instructions to encourage kids to come up with their own solutions. Just showing them how to follow instructions is less useful than forcing them to really understand how and why the mechanics work the way they do, encouraging them eventually do bigger and better things on their own- which really is supposed to be the point of any educational endeavor.

    So that's my advice: Give them the problems, then give them the tools that will allow them to fix them.

    Warning: Following this advice may turn your nieces and nephews into engineers or artists. Or it may just backfire and make the kids not like you very much, while everyone else in their life coddles them with TV and Bratz dolls.

    Also I'm no parent or educational expert so what the heck do I know anyway.

    EDIT: Also I suppose all this requires more work on the parents' side than yours personally I guess...:/

    Angel_of_Bacon on
  • TrowizillaTrowizilla Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    The best thing my uncle ever did for us was take us on day-trips, and you've got a lot of options. The zoo is generally popular with small kids, children's museums are fun if you've got one around you, amusement parks, nature centers, canoeing/rowboating, picnicing, those play-zones that are basically big gerbil mazes. Take them places their parents normally don't due to time, expense, interest, whatever. Most kids will complain at first, but I've rarely seen them continue to fuss once they're patting a box turtle or something.

    The 8-year-old being selfish is probably just being eight. Try getting her into things that help her grow into some empathy. Lots of girls that age are really into horses, so you could take her on a trail ride and then volunteer to clean up the local park, or if she likes animals, go with her to help out at a shelter. (No-kill might be less scary.) Praise her when she does something thoughtful or kind, especially, and give her less attention when she's in a me-me-me mood; if she's fond of you, it should help steer her in the right direction.

    Trowizilla on
  • blahblah Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    It's my personal opinion that children at this age really can't associate their appearance and actions to other people's perception of them, they pretty much just mimic the "coolest" or most respectable people around them. As such I reckon nothing will steer young children in the right direction like some good role models. If you know anyone respectable in a field like horse riding, dress making, Olympic sprinter or pretty much anything that would seem awesome to a < 10, arrange a meeting, get them to involve the young one in the activity as much as possible, talk to them as an equal. I'm not saying this will work, but it's very possible this selfish or apathetic niece will look up to this person and think "Wow, this is the kind of person I want to be like". When I think back on my childhood I remember my cousins and uncles having a profound effect on what I directed my focus on, basically computers.

    I also think you need to branch out your options for activities. Reading, while I think contributes so very well to a young mind, just isn't for everyone. Same with chemistry sets, gel electrophoresis kits and hadron super-colliders. This doesn't mean your nieces are going to be failures in school or anything of the sort, so long as they're interested in something it should be quite the opposite. I'm not sure of any gems in Chicago, but things like the beach, pool, ice-skating, teach her to drive, shoot, archery, pick strawberrys (Sneak in some biology here) in the Spring, paint pictures, heck, try touring a large university and she might find her own passion.

    @Bacon
    I did Tournament of the Minds (The Australian version) when I was young, loved it. Debates, Moots, Future Problem Solving are all awesome activities imho.

    blah on
  • blizzard224blizzard224 Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    blah wrote: »
    It's my personal opinion that children at this age really can't associate their appearance and actions to other people's perception of them, they pretty much just mimic the "coolest" or most respectable people around them. As such I reckon nothing will steer young children in the right direction like some good role models. If you know anyone respectable in a field like horse riding, dress making, Olympic sprinter or pretty much anything that would seem awesome to a < 10, arrange a meeting, get them to involve the young one in the activity as much as possible, talk to them as an equal. I'm not saying this will work, but it's very possible this selfish or apathetic niece will look up to this person and think "Wow, this is the kind of person I want to be like". When I think back on my childhood I remember my cousins and uncles having a profound effect on what I directed my focus on, basically computers.

    I also think you need to branch out your options for activities. Reading, while I think contributes so very well to a young mind, just isn't for everyone. Same with chemistry sets, gel electrophoresis kits and hadron super-colliders. This doesn't mean your nieces are going to be failures in school or anything of the sort, so long as they're interested in something it should be quite the opposite. I'm not sure of any gems in Chicago, but things like the beach, pool, ice-skating, teach her to drive, shoot, archery, pick strawberrys (Sneak in some biology here) in the Spring, paint pictures, heck, try touring a large university and she might find her own passion.

    @Bacon
    I did Tournament of the Minds (The Australian version) when I was young, loved it. Debates, Moots, Future Problem Solving are all awesome activities imho.

    I too did tournament of the minds in an australian school and I can say that it made a profound difference to my schooling experience ; normal school curriculum really could learn a thing or two from an application-based learning program like TotM.

    blizzard224 on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
  • TofystedethTofystedeth Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    I'll second Odyssey of the Mind if it's available. It was a lot of fun, and great for flexing the creative/problem solving neurons.

    Tofystedeth on
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  • BlindZenDriverBlindZenDriver Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    LEGO

    Pure and simple yet with so many different ways to play and develop skills along the way.

    BlindZenDriver on
    Bones heal, glory is forever.
  • skyybahamutskyybahamut Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    You live in Chicago, take 'em to the Shedd Aquarium, or one of your many parks. Just going out and experiencing nature is nice too. Trowzilla has the right idea here. I just recomend the Shedd, I thought it was awsome when I went there as a kid. The 8 year old will love the otters, they're small furry tool users that swim and look cute. Everyone loves them.

    Hell you could take them on a tour of the Sears Tower or any other skyscraper in the city proper and I bet they might like it, or go to the Pier and take them fishing.

    Sounds like you want to be an awsome uncle. Good for you, that's more than my uncles (or aunts) did for me.

    skyybahamut on
    This signature is for SCIENCE!
  • KalTorakKalTorak One way or another, they all end up in the Undercity.Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    LEGO

    Pure and simple yet with so many different ways to play and develop skills along the way.

    Fuck yes. Though careful with the under age 3 crowd, choking hazard. Even over age 3, those pokey corners are sharp motherfuckers. Get som Duplos or something for the very young kids.

    KalTorak on
  • XaquinXaquin Right behind you!Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    The Dangerous Book for Boys

    and

    The Daring Book for Girls

    are both awesome.

    full of knowledge and ideas

    Xaquin on
  • dlpwillywonkadlpwillywonka Registered User regular
    edited August 2008
    I try to bring them out on Lake Michigan or visit the museums in Chicago when they come to visit but they live in central Wicsonsin and Central Illinois and with school starting I'm looking for things I can get them interested in from afar.

    Lego is a great one. I've been meanin to buy a bulk set from ebay one of these days. Might as well do that now.

    Thank you all for the advice. I really appreciate it. Don't hesitate to mention any idea. It's all food for thought.

    dlpwillywonka on
    Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.
    Carl Sagan
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