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Can't Stand a Liar

Have you ever heard an exasperated parent say to a child, "If there's one thing I can't stand, it's a liar!" Maybe you've used the expression yourself. Parents want to raise good children, and lying doesn't fit that picture. 

Before we get into why it is that children lie, let me make one important point. There is a difference between calling a child a liar and talking about his lying. When we call someone a liar, we are making a statement about who the person is. When we say that someone lied, we are making a statement about a person's behavior. If we want to encourage a person to change, it is much easier for him to change his behavior than to change who he is. So, let's not label a child or anyone as a liar, a cheat, a crook, a dummy, whatever it may be. Instead, let's refer to lying, cheating, stealing or stupid behavior, which a person is capable of changing.

Now, let's take a look at why children lie. Some children are too young to distinguish fantasy...

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Dumb and Dumber

It has been troubling me as years have gone by, and I finally have to write about it. It is my contention that we are making our kids dumb and dumber.

"What are you talking about?" might be your reply. Our kids are showing great progress in school. Kids are learning to read at an earlier age, graduation rates are increasing, achievement test scores are getting higher. Our kids are getting smarter, not dumber.

Well, I'm not talking about that kind of learning. It's great that our kids are learning how to split atoms at the age of twelve. What they aren't learning, though, is how to make good decisions about daily living.

A few years ago I saw a film strip of a factory plant that was operational in the 1950's. There were belts, chains, pulleys and all sorts of moving parts. The workers were walking right next to those  machines, and there were no fences, walls, guards of any sort to protect them from getting injured by the machinery. They knew not to get too close. They...

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Giving Kids Choices

You've heard that it's good idea to give kids choices, right?  I would agree that it is good to give kids choices, but there are a few things you want to avoid when you give kids choices.

First of all, there are some things about which kids shouldn't be given choices at all. There are times that parental decisions need to be made, and children have no business making those kinds of decisions for the family. Decisions that affect family finances are one of those areas.

So, don't put yourself in a box as a parent, giving children a choice about something that you really don't want to give them. Don't give them a choice about something about which they have insufficient knowledge, experience and wisdom. 

That's your call, not theirs, despite what you've heard about giving children choices. You don't want to get stuck thinking that you always have to give your children choices.

When you do give children choices, make sure that you do so in a way that fits their developmental...

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Kids Don't Need Lots of Attention

When I see an article in our local newspaper written by John Rosemond, I usually read it. For the most part, I find myself in agreement with what he writes. I've given this blog post the same title he did in a recent article.

John correctly states that back in the day, when a child acted out in whatever way, the popular understanding was that the child was acting out because the child wasn't getting enough attention. The solution was to pile on the attention. If the child's behavior did not improve, you were just not giving the child enough attention yet.

What horrible advice! The adult, usually the parent, and the child would be locked in an unending loop: the misbehaving child received more adult attention; more adult attention generated more child misbehavior for the purpose of getting more attention. And on and on it went.

That doesn't mean that children don't need attention. They do. In fact, we all do. We all like to be recognized, adults as well as children. Attention becomes...

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Call 911 On Your Father

There was a story in the news a few days ago that caught my attention. I  laughed when I heard it, but not because it was funny. My reaction was probably more a groan or a grunt than a laugh.

Here's the story's headline: "16-year-old girl calls police on her dad for taking away her cellphone." She actually called 911, and the police department said they decided to respond even though it wasn't an emergency. Here's the actual police department's Facebook post, which, by the way, quickly received 11K likes.

"On 01/12/2019 1336 hours: Officers were dispatched to Plainfield Rd for a Theft report. Upon arrival, the 16 year old complainant said her father stole her cellular telephone. In speaking with her father, he said he took the phone away for disciplinary reasons. The girl insisted it was a Theft and she was entitled to the phone. Officers explained that having a cell phone under under the age of 18 is a “privilege” and not a “right” as she...

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Helicopter parenting is passé.

The term helicopter parenting was first used in the '90's and referred to an overprotective style of parenting. The helicopter parent would discourage a child's independence by being too involved in the child's life, swooping in whenever the child was dealing with something challenging or experiencing discomfort.

A helicopter parent wouldn't necessarily anticipate a child's discomfort but would be there at a moment's notice once the child registered any sign of discomfort. It would be then that the helicopter parent would step in and resolve the issue for the child, giving the child the subtle message that he was unable to resolve it for himself..

There is a more current version of helicopter parenting. It goes by the name of lawn mower parenting. And have you already guessed what the progression from helicopter parenting to lawn mower parenting is?

(I use the term progression only in the sense of sequence, not improvement.) The lawn mower parent anticipates any potential...

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Every Opportunity for Success

Good parents give their children every opportunity they can, don't they? Or in giving them every opportunity they can, are they really missing giving them something important?

There was a book written in 1988 by David Elkind  entitled The Hurried Child. It has been revised twice, the last time in 2001. Though 75 percent of Amazon reviews are favorable, one reviewer was quite negative and claimed that the book was not contemporary.

I guess I bristle when I hear wisdom being labeled as not contemporary. Aristotle and Plato are not contemporary, but dismissing their ideas because they are more than 2000 years old would be rather arrogant. Enough of a rant.

Elkind proposes that the practice of pushing children to do and learn things earlier and earlier is depriving them rather than enriching them.  He maintains that pushing children before they are developmentally ready causes them to experience anxiety maybe in addition to a sense of accomplishment.

I know this is an...

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AD/HD, ODD, ASD, SBS(?)

It's probably an occupational hazard. The hazard part comes later in the article, but here's the set up.

When my partner and I would have a parent come to our office with a child diagnosed by a friend, a grandmother or another family member, we would initially and understandably  be skeptical. That would especially be the case when the reported diagnosis was Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) or the more currently popular Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Sometimes those children came to our office having already been inaccurately diagnosed  by another professional. It's not that those three diagnoses aren't legitimate diagnoses when correctly made. The problem is that they are often misdiagnosed when, in fact, there is a more accurate, common diagnosis.

You won't find this diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5). This is where the occupational hazard comes in. My partner and I had seen so many of these...

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Don't Muddy The Water

Don't muddy the water. Sometimes we try to do too much at one time.  If we are trying to help a child make a behavior change and to change his mistaken goal, we need to focus on one thing at a time so as not to muddy the water.

What do I mean by that? If a child is misbehaving and we are trying to teach one thing, don't take off on another course of action when a second misbehavior immediately follows the first, like a chain reaction. We can teach only one thing at a time.  Otherwise, the child gets confused and the lesson is lost.

Here's an example.  Let's say that your child has an annoying habit of pitching a fit when you tell him he is not allowed to have a piece of candy before supper.  He throws himself on the floor, yelling, screaming and kicking.  You're feeling angry, and you know, if you've taken my course, that your child's mistaken goal is probably power.  He's trying to be the boss, to get his own way by throwing the tantrum.

So you know...

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You Too Can Be President. Or Can You?

It drives me nuts when I hear someone say to a child, "You can be anything you want to be," or something similar to that.  Here's my problem with that.

Basically, it is a lie.  It takes certain qualities or abilities to be able to be most anything, For the case of simplicity of language, let's just call "what someone might want to be" the same as a job.  If you don't have the qualities or abilities that doing a certain job requires, you are never going to be able to "be whatever you want to be."

I love the game of basketball, and if I was told that I could be whatever I want to be, I would aspire to play center in the NBA.  Unfortunately, though I love the game, I don't play up to the caliber of NBA players.  And at 5 ft 7 in, I don't think even if I had NBA ability that I would be playing the center position, much as I would want to.

One of the common things I've heard adults say to children is that they could be president of the United States if they...

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