Enhancing children's lives through parent and teacher education.

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The intellectual child gains power by thinking through issues prior to presentation and having firm arguments ready ahead of time. These children are resourceful, intelligent, logical and, more often than not, outwardly respectful towards their parents as they proceed to find chinks in the armor of their parents' values. Let's look at an example to clarify.

At fourteen, Sue wanted to start dating. Her parents had already told her, however, that she had to be sixteen, so she began gathering information with which she could plead her case. She...

In other articles I have often discussed how important it is for parents to examine their values and to transmit those values to their children by setting limits for them. Many parents begin with good intentions in this regard, only to find that children of today are very clever at negotiating, manipulating and wheedling their way out of those very limits. In the end, the children wind up behaving in the way they'd like, and the parents wind up bewildered and helpless, at a loss to explain how they ended up "giving in" once again.

One of the most...

Some of the common responses that I hear when a child, tween, or teen identifies as transgender are: “It’s probably just a phase” or “They’re probably just making a political statement” or “They’re just experimenting.”

First of all, the use of the word “just” as in “they’re just experimenting” is patronizing.  It implies that you have all the facts and know better than the other person what their identity is.  So let’s take that word out and look at each response separately to unravel why these are not only inaccurate, but also...

ACCEPTING YOUR CHILD AS THEY JOURNEY THROUGH LIFE

Many years ago, a friend came to me after her son had been “flagged” at school for behaviors that seemed atypical.  Following a neuropsychological exam, she was told that her son was on the autistic spectrum.  She was devastated when she revealed this to me. We talked for quite a long time and then I asked her this question: “Did you love Simon* yesterday?” She looked startled and stammered, “Yes, of course.” I responded by saying, “He is exactly the same today as he was yesterday.  Absolutely nothing has changed. ...

The first in a series of blogs about the importance of accepting our children for who they are.

When my daughter was born, she shattered the myths that I had held dear prior to pregnancy.  I dreamed of perfect breast feeding, idyllic middle of the night feedings, cuddling and gazing into each other’s eyes with a love born of her mere existence.

I was in for a rude awakening.  She was fussy.  She was hungry all the time.  When my breasts were wrung out like wet dishrags and limp from use, she still wanted more.  I could swear that she never slept. An idea...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...