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Archive for the ‘Children’ Category

Do Parents Matter?

Posted by mikeg on April 20, 2009

My friend and colleague Bora Nikolic, forwarded an interesting article that “argues that peers are much more important than parents, that psychologists underestimate the power of genetics, and that we have a lot to learn from Asian classrooms”

Book: No Two Alike: Human Nature and Human Individuality

The belief that parents have a great deal of power to determine how their children will turn out is actually a rather new idea. Not until the middle of the last century did ordinary parents start believing it. I was born in 1938, before the cultural change, and parenting had a very different job description back then. Parents didn’t feel they had to sacrifice their own convenience and comfort in order to gratify the desires of their children. They didn’t worry about boosting the self-esteem of their children. In fact, they often felt that too much attention and praise might spoil them and make them conceited. Physical punishment was used routinely for infractions of household rules. Fathers provided little or no child care; their chief role at home was to administer discipline.

All these things have changed dramatically in the past 70 years, but the changes haven’t had the expected effects. People are the same as ever. Despite the reduction in physical punishment, today’s adults are no less aggressive than their grandparents were. Despite the increase in praise and physical affection, they are not happier or more self-confident or in better mental health. It’s an interesting way to test a theory of child development: persuade millions of parents to rear their children in accordance with the theory, and then sit back and watch the results come in. Well, the results are in and they don’t support the theory!

I’ve put together a lot of evidence showing that children learn at home how to behave at home (that’s where parents do have power!), and they learn outside the home how to behave outside the home. So if you want to improve the way children behave in school—for instance, by making them more diligent and less disruptive in the classroom—then improving their home environment is not the way to do it. What you need is a school-based intervention. That’s where teachers have power. A talented teacher can influence a whole group of kids.

Posted in Children | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Toddler tricycles (comparison of Kettler Kettrikes)

Posted by mikeg on April 5, 2009

My kid (20 months) is getting very interested in tricycles and after checking in the local store it looks like Kettler Kettrikes are the Lexuses of the tricycles and that is why they charge a rather outrageous $180-$220 for the top of the line models.

The reason for this post is that Kettler makes 4-5 very similar models and I had to compare very brief marketing PDFs and search the web to figure out what is different and which of the features are important to us.

A few notes:

  • Prices below are pulled from Amazon, but it looks like they are pretty much the same everywhere (including local stores). For example Air Navigator is either $220 with free shipping or $200 with $20 shipping (searched Froogle and Ebay)
  • If air tires are NOT important to you — get regular Navigator: it is $30 cheaper and has adjustable seat (ability to adjust seat position is different from frame adjustment)
  • If air tires are important — get Air Navigator: you get all the features of Navigator plus air tires, but loose adjustable seat positions. The downside is that air tires might get punctured and it is another headache to deal with.


  • Things that are important to us:
  • Things we are not sure about
    • Air tires — not sure if it makes a big difference, but we are very happy with our stroller that has inflatable wheels, so I guess it is a nice to have. The downside is that air tires might get punctured/deflated and it is another headache to deal with.
    • Adjustable seat back position — Air Navigator doesn’t have that and I am not sure how important it is.
    • Dual rear wheel handbrake — Air Navigator doesn’t have it and I am not sure what is the benefit unless you want your child to learn drifting. I also don’t think that young kids have the coordination to release the handlebars to break.

This website has good descriptions of features and prices that are in line with the rest of the stores. They also offer more models than what is available on Kettler’s website (probably discontinued models):

Note: there are a number of reviews on Amazon that praise “auto freewheel” functionality while child is too young to pedal, but also claim that children are having issues learning how to pedal b/c of that feature. They also complain about cheap plastic material on wheels and slippery pedals.

There are a lot more positive reviews than negative, but still worth reviewing: Navigator, Air Navigator (specifically this one). Quite a few people (including Physics PhD) suggest getting it in the store to save the headache of putting it together as it doesn’t seem to have good instructions.



Air Navigator


Air Happy









Price $220 $200 $190 $180 $110 $110
Parental Control System  Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No
3-in-1 auto-freewheel Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
Rear-Wheel Steering Yes No Yes No No No
# of frame positions 5 4 5 5 5 4
# of back seat positions n/a 4 4 n/a 4 4
Tipping rear bucket Yes No Yes Yes No Yes
Tandem adaptable Yes Yes Yes Yes No No
Air Tires Yes Yes No No No No
Rear wheel handbrake No No No Yes No No
Seat Belt included No No No Yes No No

Posted in Children, Toys | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »


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