Enhancing children's lives through parent and teacher education.

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On February 24, 2002, the cover article for the New York Times Magazine "Girls Just Want to be Mean" finally drew attention to the aggressive tendencies of girls, a long neglected subject. While much attention has been paid in recent years (particularly in the wake of school shootings) to the ways in which boys vent frustration, anger, low self-esteem and a sense of isolation, until now many people have not realized that, while the damage may seem subtler, girls can do as much psychological injury to their peers as boys who harm in more physical ways. Now it's...

I'm often asked whether I believe that children today have too much homework. My answer is "yes." Having said that, however, I think that most schools who give too much homework are finding themselves caught between a rock and a hard place. Elementary schools, to prepare children for the homework demands of middle school, must give more and more homework as the children advance through the grades. Likewise, middle schools, to prepare kids for the challenges of high school, must do the same. And high schools, challenged by parents to get their children into good...

In the decade and a half that I’ve been teaching, I’ve had an opportunity to think deeply about the tools and techniques that parents need to raise happy, healthy children. Some of the tools are instinctive, and need no teaching: humor, play, hugs. Others are less intuitive and must be sought out: how to discipline, be a good listener, teach values consistently. Generally speaking, all of the tools are important, and parents must learn to balance instinct with learned skills. But if I were pressed...

From birth, our children must work to accomplish a variety of tasks. From the frustrating first moments when they must root for the breast or bottle, or get their fists into their mouths to relieve teething pain, they struggle to succeed. They progress eventually to more complex abilities, rewarding but no less frustrating. They stand, only to fall again and again. They get on a bicycle, only to tip over and skin a knee. As they mature, the physical struggles are replaced with emotional ones. Do they include Rob in their group, even though Sam doesn...

Labeling our children is something we all do.  We may begin by swearing we won't, we may have read infinite numbers of articles and books on the negative effects of putting labels on children, but long and behold, the moment we hold our child in our arms for the first time, up pops a label: "He's an easy baby." As our children grow, it continues: "Sara's the musician in the family." And the labels we apply aren't necessarily positive, either: "My son is so obsessive," "My daughter is such a slob." Positive and negative labels are so prevalent in parenting that they bear closer examination...

Now we're going to talk about stepping in when our children are fighting. I want to emphasize, however, how important it is to support our children in coming up with solutions to their own problems. If we do, they'll have a sense of "I can handle things myself" as well as tools to handle future conflicts, not only with siblings, but also with peers and others -- even through adulthood. And if our children can approach adolescence and adulthood feeling confident in their ability to handle conflict, they're more likely to thrive. I don't know any adult who doesn't...

Nine year old Sarah wanted to go to a friend's house to spend the night, but her parents said "no." She pleaded and begged, and finally ended up sulking in her room for most of the weekend. Three year old Jack asked his mother for juice while she was working on the computer. She nodded her head and said "o.k." As she went to save the file she was working on before getting up, Jack flew into a tantrum, screaming "Juice! Juice!" as he flailed around on the floor.

What do these children have in common? Neither one feels understood or listened to by their...

In the months to come parents will be faced with children who have an on-going need to process the tragic events of September 11 as well as the unfolding current events that continue to spiral outward from that date. The biggest challenge facing us will be identifying our children's need to process when that need arises.

Children are particularly good at distracting themselves from traumatic events. In a way, this is healthy as it allows the jarred psyche to heal, much like putting a Band-Aid over a wound protects it and allows the fibers of the skin...

Many parents of young children name sleep deprivation as their number one complaint. Even when children get out of the infancy stage, they often adopt poor sleeping habits that can continue into the early elementary school years. The sleep deprivation that adults experience is even worse for children because lack of sleep can negatively affect learning, concentration, the ability to engage in positive relationships and other vital goals of childhood.

So how much sleep does your child need? According to Richard Ferber, M.D., nationally acclaimed sleep...

In talking with the men who attend my parenting groups the theme of disciplining children arises again and again. Interestingly, many of the men I speak with are reluctant to discipline. I just don't get to see her very much because of my work hours, one dad explained, when I do see her, I want it to be fun. Another dad commented, I don't want to be the bad guy. I had a bad relationship with my dad, and I want my son to like me.

It's true that many fathers see less of their children than mothers do. In fact, Stephen Covey in his book The 7 Habits of...

In Part I we talked about being a good role model for honesty as part of setting yourself up for success. Today we'll talk about the other ways that we can set ourselves up for success in this area, before moving on and talking about specific ways we should respond to dishonesty in order to facilitate more honest behavior in the future.

1) Talk to your child about the value of honesty --

* You feel better about yourself when you tell the truth

* It maintains personal integrity

* People trust you when you're honest...

"You're a poop-head," says Sara her eyes glinting with anger. "Am not, booger-brain," replies her friend furiously. The two stand nose to nose, glaring at each other hatefully. In an hour, though, they'll be playing happily -- "best friends for life". Several kids, aged ten, are playing a card game. "Gotcha! Ha, ha, you're a loser!" gloats one, waving his cards around. Two others have their heads together, whispering conspiratorially, "Let's gang up and get him," they say, speaking about the "loser." Meanwhile the "gloater" is rolling around on the floor gleefully...

As New York begins to spread its finery like a proud peacock in preparation for the holidays, and people bustle through the streets making private preparations for Hanukkah and Christmas, many parents watch with dismay as their loving, appreciative children are slowly transformed into greedy, insatiable monsters.

Following Hanukkah last year, I spoke with a mother and father who proclaimed vehemently "We're never giving a gift a night during Hanukkah again." It seems that as the days of Hanukkah wore on, their son became more and more demanding,...

Sarah's three year old son, Jason, had suddenly become aggressive. She could understand that sometimes he was frustrated and would strike out in anger, for example when another child took his toy. What she was bewildered and angry about, however, was why, in the middle of a playgroup, he would sometimes dash across the room and violently squeeze or push another child with a look of glee on his face, even though the other child had done nothing to provoke him.

In order to help young children overcome their impulsive and aggressive misbehaviors, it's...

Children of all ages regress -- act like a younger child than they really are -- from time to time. From the toddler who picks up the baby bottle that she gave up a year ago to the sixteen year old who suddenly has to have a hug and kiss from Mom before leaving for school in the morning, regression to an earlier stage of life is a normal part of childhood. Yet parents often panic when their child exhibits behaviors that they thought were extinct. The worry that accompanies even a mildly panicked state may lead parents to demand that the child "grow up" and "act...

Not all children are the same. This should come as no news to anyone, of course, but at the same time most parents hope that their child is exactly that -- the same as other children his or her age. From infancy, when we listen to where our children fall on the "growth chart" at the pediatrician's office, or compare the age at which our child crawls with the normal "developmental milestones", we all hope that our child will be "normal." Likewise, most parents worry if the characteristics they see in their child deviate slightly from what the experts proclaim to be...

Three year old Jason just took a toy from his younger brother, rudely grabbing it from him and making him cry. Dad, in a firm voice, says, "Jason, go to time out right now." "Ok," says Jason nonchalantly and saunters into his bedroom to wait for the requisite 10 minutes to pass until he can come back out into the living room. In another house, not too far away, a mother is also trying time out. But her daughter, Laurie, reacts differently from Jason. She bursts into angry tears and says, "I hate you. You can't make me go to time out, I am NOT going." And Mom feels...

My fifteen-year-old daughter had some friends over not too long ago, one of whom she'd known since Kindergarten. They, and we, were sitting in our living room, talking. The long-time friend of my daughter interrupted the chat suddenly, squealing, "Ooooo, I forgot to show you my belly-button pierce!" She proceeded to lift her shirt, and sure enough, a small turtle dangled over her navel. The other girls oohed and aahed: "Wow, how cool." "Awesome." Then wistful sighs all around, and in unison: "I want a belly button pierce." My daughter turned to me, "Isn't it cool...

A discussion on how to handle dishonesty would not be complete without looking at a type of dishonesty which is usually not differentiated from the others we've discussed thus far, but should be. We call the final type of lie-telling "breaking an agreement." I believe that the way in which we handle it when a child breaks an agreement should differ from the way in which we handle other types of dishonesty so that we can be more effective.

Children break agreements for a couple of reasons -- either the child has honestly forgotten part or all of the...

If the title of this article speaks to you, then you're in good company. No matter what their child's age, one of the biggest complaints I hear from parents is that their children talk back. Why is it that even young children have "an attitude" with their parents? What is causing this phenomenon to occur at younger and younger ages? And no matter what your child's age is, what can you do about it?

We all know the part of the Constitution of the United States that states: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." More...