Enhancing children's lives through parent and teacher education.

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"Family Values" seems to be a catch-all term used haphazardly by the media to imply that values in families are lacking in our society today. A "return to family values" further implies that we've gone astray from some old-fashioned yet fundamental truth. Perhaps, it hints, if we "simplify" our lives, reject the complexities of our current society, perhaps even find a log cabin in the woods somewhere and live as a family of hermits, we will recapture - for ourselves and our children - something that is lost yet essential to family life.

I would argue...

I recently asked a group of mothers what each of their days was like: when the day began, what it was filled with, and when it ended. Almost to a person, each woman gets up between 5:45 and 6:30 a.m. and her day ends between 10:00 p.m. and midnight. The women are responsible for fixing meals (one Mom fixed 5 meals every morning!), rousing the children from their beds, and getting them off to school. Their days center on kids and spouses. I inquired as to whether any of them took time for themselves. Most had carved out time to go to the gym or meditate, one woman...

“My 5 year old told me he went on a field trip today and he didn’t. Why would he lie?”

"My 8 year old said she’d done her homework, but I found it under the bed unfinished.

"My 10 year old broke the lamp in the living...

When teachers and parents work together towards the well being of their children in the school environment, the benefit to the children is enormous. Children experience faster adjustment to school, establish a more trusting relationship with the teacher, and derive a sense of safety and security which allows them to be more open as learners among other things.



Sometimes, though, it seems as though parents work directly AGAINST teachers rather than with them. This creates, at best, a frustrating situation and at worst a power struggle that...

Recently a mother told me that her eight year old daughter asked if they were “in danger” because of the economic crisis.  “In danger” is an interesting expression, isn’t it?  For me, it brings up 9/11 all over again, because (at least for those of us here in New York City) we felt as though we were in real and present danger for quite a while after those planes crashed into our beloved Towers. 

So when a child asks if we’re “in danger” because of the economy, my first reaction is a fairly strong: “No!” 

Now please don’t misunderstand.  The crisis is, of course,...

Historically, parents have relied upon the teachings of their elders to know how to raise their children. From breast-feeding to disciplining, the extended members of the family provided advice and support about child rearing. With the advent of the modern, industrialized society, people moved long distances away from their relatives, and thus, long distances away from the "advice" of fellow family members. Suddenly, parents were fending for themselves in the realm of child-rearing. A sense of isolation and sometimes even helplessness at how best to raise our...

Creating a blueprint for your family to follow means engaging in a series of family discussions where your values, morals and beliefs are put into words. These words become the substance of the blueprint, which then serves as a guideline for each family member's behavior, choices, and treatment of one another. Because each member of the family subscribes to the plan, they stop operating as individuals with a "me first" mentality and instead operate as a whole. In addition, they internalize a sense of belonging to something larger than themselves. Stephen R. Covey...

Whether "Grandma and Grandpa" live in the city or in a different state altogether, some people find that visiting them is a relaxing and positive experience. Maybe you get that much needed 1/2 hour of extra sleep while Grandma feeds the kids breakfast. Or Grandpa takes the kids for a walk and you have the opportunity to begin that novel you've been dying to read all winter. On the other hand, many people find that visiting their parents causes an unexplained emotional return to adolescence, wherein they become 12 years old, tongue tied, exasperated and sometimes...

When four year olds begin finding "bathroom talk" funny, parents usually dismiss the "you're a poo poo head" with a shrug of the shoulders. "It's just a phase," parents will say. And indeed, this type of "humor" does seem to pass by the time a child is around five or six years of age. Yet when those same children begin experimenting with four letter words, very few parents will dismiss it with "it's just a phase." Indeed, children's initial experimentation with four letter words often shocks and inflames parents. Some parents respond with moral imperatives: "We do...

Every morning Janice's daughter, Samantha, would fight with her about her clothes. Even if they'd picked the outfit out the night before, the next morning it would be the same old complaint, "I'm not wearing that, I hate it!" One day, however, Samantha simply put the clothes on without complaining. As mother and daughter walked out the door to go to school, Samantha turned to her mom and said with an exclamation of surprise, "Mom! We forgot our fight today!"

Sometimes parents and children get stuck in a negative cycle in which fighting, or misbehavior...

Traditional medicine such as ancient Chinese, Asian, Indian, Greek, Native American, along with more modern therapies, such as homeopathy and naturopathy, consider health to be a condition of wholeness. A condition in which body, mind, and spirit direct our life in equal proportion so that there is balance and harmony among all aspects of our being. In this state, health and healing flourish because our body is capable of healing itself when it is placed in a balanced condition. The healer merely works to re-align that balance.

This kind of health is...

Language learning is a natural process. As active observers of their environment, children constantly take in and process the sounds, sights, smells and other sensations that ultimately help them make sense of their world. But when does language learning begin?

Research strongly suggests that language is linked to a baby's initial exposure to sounds in utero. The fetus is bathed in the sounds of its mother's voice beginning at a gestational age 7 months. Some baby books actually suggest speaking to the fetus and putting headphones that amplify...

In the past two articles we've been talking about promoting honesty. We've discussed setting yourself and your child up for success and we've discussed what most parents consider the most ingenuous of lie-telling: fanciful storytelling. In this issue, we'll discuss lies of a more serious nature.

When a child tells her parents an "untruth" -- that is she says something that's untrue when she knows it's untrue, it is the parents' job to determine why the child is lying. Is the child afraid of punishment because she's been punished severely before? Or is...

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...

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...

Although many coaches emphasize "good sportsmanship" sometimes the competitive nature of sports overcomes what could be a valuable lesson for children about how to lose as well as how to win. One mother said to me "My son is such a sore loser when his team doesn't win. I understand that it's partially developmental, but I'm tired of it. It takes all the fun out of playing for him, and all the fun out of watching for me." Competitiveness -- the desire to win or be the "best" -- is indeed developmental, and most parents begin to notice it in their children by three...

"I'm at a loss with my son. Now that he's a teenager, I'm really seeing that he's swayed by what his friends think. Some of the things I can manage my way through - like when he wants a new pair of roller blades because all his friends have that kind, or when he wants to wear that new style of pants that slinks down around his hips. But I'm not sure what to do about other things - like when he wants to go away to his friend's parents' house, and this is a friend that I really don't approve of, I think he's a terrible influence."

One of the scariest...

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...