Enhancing children's lives through parent and teacher education.

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Nothing is clearer to me than the importance of raising children to become independent adults. And, as a parent, there is nothing more bittersweet. My daughter just graduated from college, and will turn 22 years old next week. For her graduation, we put together a DVD of photos beginning with her birth and ending with those we had taken right before she graduated. I'll be honest: I wept a lot during the process. It was just yesterday that she was born. At least that's how it feels. And today, she's an independent young woman living in a different State from us, doing research for "Autism...

All across the country, parents are still feeling the intense emotional effects of the Colorado incident in April. This massacre, the shooting in Oregon last year, and other similar tragedies have raised the questions: "Why? Will this happen to us? How can we prevent this?" The President proposed one solution: that we must teach children to talk about their feelings of anger rather than act upon them. Authorities have likewise suggested a cause for this type of incident: that when children don't feel accepted by their peers they're more likely to form cliques or gangs, and to behave...

Jenna's mom paid a significant amount of money for Jenna to attend day camp. Jenna was enthusiastic, but also anxious. The night before camp began, she started complaining of a stomach ache. She is so nervous each morning that she begins hysterically crying and throws up.

Max's dad thought a sports camp would be just the thing. He often said that Max was born with a baseball bat in his hand. Yet now that camp has begun, Max becomes hysterical about a half hour before the bus comes. So far, Dad has been able to coerce him on to the bus, but wonders if he's doing the right...

On Monday, March 2, I was awakened at 6:15 a.m. by the exuberant shout of my 15 year old son. “They closed school! It’s a snow day! Woo hoo!” Now the fact that New York City closed Public Schools is nothing short of a minor miracle so it’s no wonder that my son was ecstatic: he’d only had one other snow day since he began school at age 4!

This particular snow day got me thinking. What, exactly, is it that’s so exciting about a snow day? There’s no question that it’s better than the movies, more exciting than a planned vacation. But why? I think that it’s precisely because it is...

"My daughter is driving me crazy!" Elizabeth complained. "I feel as though I'm constantly disciplining her. She's rude, sneaky and really unpleasant to be around. The other day I found her hiding in the closet using my nail polish, which she knows she's not allowed to do without my permission. I gave her a consequence - I made her take off all the nail polish and told her she couldn't use it for a week, but she didn't even seem to care. It's almost as if when I discipline her about something, she shrugs her shoulders and is off to the next thing."

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Children of today struggle for power in their families in ways that no one would have thought of even ten years ago. For this reason, parents can find themselves exasperated, exhausted, and overwhelmed when trying to stick with decisions that they've made which are based on their values. Yet children's tactics fall into some fairly predicable patterns. Knowing how to handle your child's struggle for power by recognizing what tactic your child is using can be helpful when trying to uphold your values. One common way that some children get their parents to "give in...

In Part II we explored the concept of teaching our children to be good losers when involved with individual or team sports. But what about being a good winner? Good sportsmanship is, after all, not just about what you do when you lose, but how you handle yourself when you win. In truth, this can be as big a challenge as teaching our children to be good losers.

Let's begin with what winning means. What makes a person a winner? I recently had the opportunity to participate with my daughter in the 5K Race for the Rainforest, sponsored by the Road Runner's...

So you're expecting again. Congratulations! Having another child is exciting. Yet many parents who are anticipating another child often find that their excitement is tinged with other feelings as well. Anxiety about how your older child or children will react, doubt about whether you've done the right thing in introducing a new, unsettling element into what might have been a perfectly stable house, and grief that your older child will no longer have exactly the same relationship with you are all common feelings for people who are going to be parents for the second...

Self-esteem is the first and perhaps most important component in empowering children to handle the bullies and cliques in their lives (see part one of this article for more information about raising your child's self-esteem.) However, children must also have a way to communicate - to stand up for your and their values and to assert themselves in difficult situations. These skills are learned by children through role modeling and by having an open line of communication with your child so that you can teach them how to handle tough situations.

An open...

Helping children feel challenged in their school environment is all about balancing expectations with a child’s individual learning style. When the expectations are too low, and children are under-challenged, they feel bored. When expectations are too high, and children are over-challenged, they feel overwhelmed. Both scenarios can result in a cycle of negative behavior that hinders learning.

Appropriately challenging a child requires a partnership between parent and school and is a...

The soccer game was well underway and the score was tied when Jeremy tripped and fell, scraping his elbow badly enough to bleed and twisting his ankle. He began to cry. A boy from the opposing team immediately ran to him, asking, "Are you ok?" Another child, a teammate, looked impatient, grumbling to himself, "Geez, let's just keep going." A child who was watching the game began to laugh when Jeremy fell, poking her neighbor to get her to look.

Empathy. Do some children just naturally have an empathetic response while others do not? And, if that's the...

A six year old boy suddenly begins vehemently refusing to go to school, clinging, terrified to his mother. A three year old girl inexplicably balks at going outside without her mother, bursting into tears at each attempt. A nine year old boy begins nervously putting objects in his mouth. A thirteen year old girl suddenly turns nasty and rude, and withdraws from interaction with her family.

When our children's behavior suddenly changes for the worse it can leave us confused and concerned about why the change took place. Many times that behavioral change...

The decision to get a pet for the first time when you have children can be a confusing one. Most children go through periods where they desperately want an animal - especially if they've never owned one before. Having a child beg you daily for a pet can wear you down, and cause you to act hastily without fully considering the reasons for and practicalities and ramifications of owning a pet. While pets can be a wonderful learning experience for children, and can bring joy into the lives of children and parents alike, there are several factors you might want to...

Every day we and our children walk by the homeless on the street. When our children are very young we feel especially protective because their instinct is towards empathy: they ask us why that person doesn't have a home, where does that person sleep, and can't we give them some money? And we teach our children from an early age, when these questions first arise, to be careful and make a wide berth in case the person is dangerous. By the time our children reach elementary school, this has probably become an automatic habit, and if the children were asked, they...

"Teenagers! Dey tink dey know everyting!" proclaims Sebastian, the "guardian" crab of 'Ariel', the Little Mermaid in Disney's film of the same title. "And isn't that the truth!" most parents of a teenager respond with dispair.

For many parents and their teens, adolescence is a period of upheaval and conflict. A child who was once cooperative and communicative suddenly becomes opinionated, withdrawn, and rebellious. Parents often wake up one morning to find themselves totally bewildered about how to handle this "stranger" who used to be their child....

At a workshop I was teaching on discipline the other night one man asked "So what happens if my wife thinks that our child should go to bed at 7:30 and I believe that children should go to bed whenever they get tired, even if that's at 10 or 11 at night?"

Disagreement between spouses is a natural part of child-rearing. In fact, given our different backgrounds, upbringing, personalities, it's hard to see why parents would ever agree! But the truth is that when spouses don't agree about disciplining or communicating with the children, and especially when...

With violent responses to our difficulties here in the United States topping the headlines of the major newspapers nearly every day, it has become increasingly important for parents to take advantage of "teachable moments" in which they can instruct their children in conflict resolution skills. The opportunities to do so arise with most children nearly every day. Whether the disputes between a child and his siblings, peers or teachers are minor or major, each one represents an opportunity for us to give our children insight into how conflict can be peacefully...

Jealousy, that "green eyed monster", has been written about for centuries. It has been called "cruel as the grave" and a "jaundice of the soul." Perhaps, then, it is no wonder that many parents feel so alarmed when their children exhibit this much-despised feeling. Especially when children seem to feel jealous so easily, and over such "trivial" things: a toy belonging to another child; a parent's attention, a high test score earned by a friend. Confronted with a child's jealousy most parents work to eliminate it, to explain why the child shouldn't feel jealous and...

I believe that children have certain rights. Like adults, they have the right to be respected, to hold an opinion, and to have their basic needs (for shelter, food, love, etc.) met. Unlike adults, I believe they have a final right, one that adults have outgrown, and that is the right to their childhood and the relative innocence that accompanies that time of life.

Having said that, I am not beginning an argument to keep children in the dark about the possibility of war. In fact, I’m not sure that’s something that...