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My Parent, My Mentor


Product Placement for Kids



July 01, 2008
We all know what product placement is about. It's advertising stretching its wings into film and TV. That name-brand soda or breakfast cereal is there for a reason. It paid or bartered its way into the media for a purpose. It works. When we see things over and over or see people we trust using them, we become comfortable, interested, and intrigued by the product.

OK, you ask, what does that have to do with mentoring my kid? Well, product placement can work for your kids. But I'm not talking about the kind of snack they want after school. I am talking about using this technique to shape and mentor your children.

Product placement means putting what you want someone to buy right in front of him in an attractive way. Using this concept for kids is like a three-ingredient recipe.

Props

It's one part props. That means, get what you want them to do and put it front and center. Make it easy, tempting and appealing. It's "advertising" to your child by putting what you want your child to learn or do right at his fingertips.

Modeling

It's one part modeling. That means showing your child the ropes. Let's face it, whether they admit it or not, you are the most important person in your kid's life. What you model matters. In many cases, you are the product.

Management

It's one part management. Good management is more about energy than time. A bit of observation and energy in the right direction can lead your child where you want him to go. You have to know what product to place where, and when to model. That takes thought, focus and energy.

Allow me to cut to the quick and give some examples.

• You want your 3-year-old to work on his spacial relations. Put a bucket of blocks in front of him. Put it in front of him in an attractive way. Ideally, sit and stack with him for a few minutes.

• Your 8-year-old daughter's play date is not going so well. You take five minutes and set up a painting craft at the dining room table. For bonus product placement, you plant yourself at the table and show the kids some of your painting tricks. (By the way, it doesn't matter if you really have any painting tricks. In this case, you are part of the product.)

• Your teenager is shutting down. Flashbacks of your own freshman year of high school are putting you in a panic. You strategically place helpful books in his room. You might say, "Look, I don't know if this is something you would read, but I thought it was good. Anyway, I love you. Hope you like it. By the way, if you ever need to talk about anything, just let me know." Notice that I don't say, "I think this book might help whatever is going on with you." (Translation: I think you have problems.)

Use product placement to mentor and shape your child

• For young children, use playtime to place the tools they need in front of them. Remember the importance of modeling for your child. As far as management goes with young children, hopefully you are lucky enough to be getting some sleep. If not, try to muster some management energy to direct your child. It will be time well spent.

• The same goes for elementary-aged children. Use product placement for them. My daughter gets magazines that are uplifting and inspiring. Commercial teeny bopper magazines are not placed in front of her. Instead, crafts are laid out and I model for her when I can. Parents are often the product here. Remember to always manage the situation. Be in front of it. You will do less work and get more done—and have more fun.

• As far as those teens go…..well. This is a tough but fulfilling path. They are pushing their way into adulthood. And it is not an easy transition for any of us. Some of us can't manage our hormones even after 20 years. Imagine those first few years. Think of creative ways to use product placement. Model when you can.

Teens may not admit it, but they are watching. Look ahead for opportunities to manage the situation and love them up. Soon they will be off and you will long for the time they were under your roof.

Maria Murphy is a speaker, consultant and writer. Her book and blog column can be found at www.simplyputtogether.com. Maria Murphy writes a monthly mentoring column for Tutor/Mentor Connection of Chicago, http/www.tutormentorconnection.org. Her column is distributed throughout mentoring agencies of N/E Florida through Kessler Mentoring Connection at http/www.mentoringconnection.org. She is also a columnist for My Nassau Sun, a subsidiary of the Jacksonville Times Union.

Maria Murphy is a speaker, consultant and writer. Her book and blog column can be found at www.simplyputtogether.com. Maria Murphy writes a monthly mentoring column for Tutor/Mentor Connection of Chicago, http/www.tutormentorconnection.org. Her column is distributed throughout mentoring agencies of N/E Florida through Kessler Mentoring Connection at http/www.mentoringconnection.org. She is also a columnist for My Nassau Sun, a subsidiary of the Jacksonville Times Union.
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