It's About Them

Young People … Our Greatest Resource

Having a Good Day … Even When it Isn’t

I’m proud to be a member of the National Speakers Association. I remember a story about the great Cavett Robert, the founder of NSA. He always preached doing your best, not matter what, and he practiced what he preached.

I remember someone sharing a story about their first-hand observation of Cavett Robert during a speaking event. He was sick, running fever. It was shared that, before he was introduced, Cavett was resting his face against a plaster wall, just to catch a little coolness. He then went on to deliver his program, just as he had promised.

I said to myself, “I sure hope I don’t ever have to do that.” Well, it happened on June 13, 2006. Ever have an experience like this?

I was scheduled to train teachers at an education service center in my home state of Texas. I got to my destination, checked into the motel and grabbed a bite of dinner. I even went to bed early so I would be extra sharp for the next day.

About an hour into my sleep, I awoke to VIOLENT bouts of vomiting and diarrhea that went on all night. Food poisoning. (If my wife had been with me, she’d taken me to the hospital, for sure.)

I tried to soothe myself by saying, “This is BAD, but I’ve experienced worse.” No way; this was a new watermark.

Fortunately, it all tapered off about 6:00a.m., so I decided to regroup and give it a shot. I was so weak and dehydrated, it took me forever to shave and dress. Fortunately, it took me about 40 minutes to drive to where the client was, which gave me a chance to chug a 32 ounce bottle of Gatorade. That allowed me to walk into the facility without looking like a drunk man. But I was so weak and sleep-deprived I could hardly stand.

I leveled with my client, Gwen, and we decided to give it a shot. They brought in a stool for me (a God-send). It was a rocky start, but you know the rest. As they got into my presentation, I was able to feed off their energy. They helped pull me through, and we all made a good day of it.

 Like a good pitcher in a slump, we don’t always have our best stuff. But if we keep pitching and stay in the game, things will change.

 James Sutton, Psychologist

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June 28, 2006 Posted by | Educators, Inspirational | 1 Comment

Tip #7 of Seven Tips for Getting Along Better with Your Kids

We are publishing this article on this blog as a series. We might or might not cover all the tips sequentially, but you will be able to separate out all of them by entering "seven tips" in the search box on the right and clicking it. Although these tips are part of my book, If My Kid’s So Nice, Why’s He Driving ME Crazy?, they really are applicable to ALL young people, not just difficult ones.

Tip #7: Recognize Improvement

Youngsters sometimes feel that, if they ever did anything well, no one would ever notice anyway. So notice. Recognize the child's effort, express your appreciation about it. But don't stop there. Think about it. When we say to a youngster, "What you did pleases me," the message to the child is that it's their job to please us. Wouldn't it be better to say, "What you did pleases me but, more importantly, I'll bet it pleases you to be a person who can be so helpful to others?" That's an entirely different kind of statement.

We can also offer an interpretation of what the improvement means to us. We could say, for example, "Mark, I haven't had to say a word to you all week about homework. I believe that's because you're taking the responsibility to handle it on your own." It would also be appropriate to finish by saying, "Why do you think you're doing better."

This is the last of the seven tips. I hope they have been helpful to you.

 James Sutton, Psychologist

Author, What Parents Need to Know About ODD

June 26, 2006 Posted by | Difficult Child, Parents | Leave a comment

Tip #6 of Seven Tips for Getting Along Better with Your Kids

We are publishing this article on this blog as a series. We might or might not cover all the tips sequentially, but you will be able to separate out all of them by entering "seven tips" in the search box on the right and clicking it. Although these tips are part of my book, If My Kid’s So Nice, Why’s He Driving ME Crazy?, they really are applicable to ALL young people, not just difficult ones.

Tip #6: Spit in the Soup

Sometimes stronger action is called for. Think about it. If, during lunch with a friend, you lean over and spit in their soup, there are a number of things you could say. You couldn't say, however, that it was all an "accident." Accidents like that just don't happen; it was deliberate.

If you have a child who too often drags his feet, a simple provocative statement can be just the ticket to create some sort of action. An example might be, "Johnny, I was kind of wondering if you were going to forget to put the trash out on the street like last week and the week before? I'm going to watch and see if you put the trash out this morning. If it doesnb't get put out, maybe we need to talk about it tonight. What would be a good time for you to meet with me about it?"

If Johnny wants to avoid the "appointment," all he has to do is put out the trash.

James Sutton, Psychologist

Author, "What Parents Need to Know About ODD"

June 25, 2006 Posted by | Difficult Child, Parents | Leave a comment

Tip #5 of Seven Tips for Getting Along Better with Your Kids

We are publishing this article on this blog as a series. We might or might not cover all the tips sequentially, but you will be able to separate out all of them by entering "seven tips" in the search box on the right and clicking it. Although these tips are part of my book, If My Kid’s So Nice, Why’s He Driving ME Crazy?, they really are applicable to ALL young people, not just difficult ones.

Tip #5: Lighten Up

If we're not careful, we'll become so overcome by parenthood we'll neglect the opportunities to enjoy it. Hang on to your sense of humor; you'll need it. Spontaneity is a great source of fun, and when done in good faith, it almost always improves relationships. Food fights and water-gun duels are messy, but loads of fun. No harm is intended or taken, and everyone joins in on the cleanup.

Let your kids know that parents aren't perfect. Encourage them to let you know if you do or say something that bothers them or hurts their feelings. If you were wrong, apologize. Everyone makes mistakes, but those will real class stand responsible and try to set things straight as best they can.

Want to make a big impression on your children? Let them evaluate themselves. When given an opportunity to evaluate themselves, youngsters are usually tougher than the adults.

Here's an idea I got from a teacher. She would give her students an assignment, along with a simple checklist that had an age-appropriate sticker paper-clipped to it. Any student who completed the checklist items (stayed in their seat, worked silently and completed the assignment) could turn in the assignment and keep the sticker. That teacher has used that little idea for more than 30 years in her classroom. It would not be difficult to modify this idea for home use. For example, prepay a child for doing an extra task, and let THEM determine if they earned the money or not.

 James Sutton, Psychologist

http://www.docspeak.com

June 24, 2006 Posted by | Difficult Child, Parents | Leave a comment

Tip #4 of Seven Tips for Getting Along with Your Kids

We are publishing this article on this blog as a series. We might or might not cover all the tips sequentially, but you will be able to separate out all of them by clicking on the “Parents” or "Difficult Child" link under Categories. Although these tips are part of my book, If My Kid’s So Nice, Why’s He Driving ME Crazy?, they really are applicable to ALL young people, not just difficult ones.

Tip #4: Make Tasks Fun

There's no rule that says that chores and tasks have to be miserable and never-ending. It's a fact, however, that more conflict occur within families over issues of tasks (including homework) than anything else.

If Your children have a set time to complete chores at home, try implementing the Caught You! Award. Set a timer to go off sometime during chores, telling the youngsters that, whenever the timer goes off, they will win an "award" (like a prize, extra allowance or even a later bedtime) if they are "caught" doing the chore. Not only does this approach make it more likely that chores will get done, it makes them fun to do.

Another fun way to approach tasks for young children is called Slip and Draw. Every time a child completes a chore or a homework assignment, give her a slip of paper to sign (be certain to "certify" all the slips ahead of time by initialing them on one side with a colored pen). The slip is then placed into a coffee can with a slit cut in the lid. At the end of several days or a week, have a grand drawing for a nice prize. (It helps if the prize is displayed in a very conspicuous place.)

Youngsters quickly figure out that the more slips they have in the can, the better their chances of winning. The more slips, the more completed tasks, and FEWER problems.

 James Sutton, Psychologist

June 23, 2006 Posted by | Difficult Child, Parents | Leave a comment

Tip #3 of Seven Tips for Getting Along Better with Your Kids

We are publishing this article on this blog as a series. We won’t necessarily cover all the tips sequentially, but you will be able to separate out all of them by clicking on the “7 Tips” Series link under Categories. Although these tips are part of my book, If My Kid’s So Nice, Why’s He Driving ME Crazy?, they really are applicable to ALL young people, not just difficult ones.

Tip #3: Occasionally Let the Youngster Lead

If you have a child who is sometimes critical of the way you do things, let them plan the next family outing or activity. Provide a few guidelines (like it needs to be someone everyone can enjoy) and a budget, then let ‘em at it. This won’t necessarily ensure everyone will have a great time on the activity, but it will eliminate much of the complaining. Be certain to recognize the youngster for his or her efforts.

This is a great way to teach skills of planning and goal-setting.

I encourage families to have a message center, the “Important Things to Remember Board” (on or near the refrigerator, of course). Things that are important, such as appointments and activities, are on the board. Everyone is expected to read the board and to be accountable for the information on it (”I didn’t know” won’t work as an excuse).

Let the child take responsibility for posting messages on the Board for a week, as you pass this responsibility around to family members who can handle it. This strategy also assures that the youngster in charge of the board will not be able to “forget” what is on it. Again, recognize efforts.

 James Sutton, Psychologist

June 22, 2006 Posted by | Difficult Child, Parents | Leave a comment

Tip #2 of Seven Tips for Getting Along Better with Your Kids

We are publishing this article on this blog as a series. We won't necessarily cover all the tips sequentially, but you will be able to separate out all of them by clicking on the "7 Tips" Series link under Categories. Although these tips are part of my book, If My Kid's So Nice, Why's He Driving ME Crazy?, they really are applicable to ALL young people, not just difficult ones.

Tip #2: Empower the Youngster with Choices

Whenever possible, allow the youngster to exercise skills of decision-making by offering choices. This is especially helpful with the child who has difficulty completing tasks, as the child is more apt to initiate and complete what she has selected. As a suggestion, give her five cards, each of which has an assigned task written on it. Tell the child that, if she begins the tasks within ten minutes (show her the clock) and completes them, only three of the five tasks need to be done; two cards can be returned. (This is a great strategy if you only wanted them to do three of the tasks in the first place!) This approach not only eliminates a number of hassles, it is usually perceived by the child as being a fair and reasonable gesture.

James D. Sutton, Psychologist

June 22, 2006 Posted by | Difficult Child, Parents | Leave a comment

Tip #1 of Seven Tips for Getting Along Better With Your Kids

We are publishing this article on this blog as a series. We won't necessarily cover all the tips sequentially, but you will be able to separate out all of them by clicking on the "7 Tips" Series link under Categories. Although these tips are part of my book, If My Kid's So Nice, Why's He Driving ME Crazy?, they really are applicable to ALL young people, not just difficult ones.

Tip #1: Affirm Unconditionally

Whether we like it or not, we live in a conditional society. Adults have to perform to stay employed. Sometimes our children sense they must perform to be loved. Youngsters can have difficulty separating who they are from what they do. Unfortunately, we too often add to the confusion by praising our kids when they make the team, if they make first-chair trombone and because they won the science fair. Although there's nothing wrong with recognizing a child's accomplishments, such affirmation must balance with the recognition of that child's (we're including adolescents here) unconditional value.

One way for a parent to do this is to say to the youngster, "Suzie, I was just thinking about something. I know we have our differences from time to time but, through it all, you're one of the best things that ever came into my life. You don't have to say anything; Ijust wanted you to know."

The secret to making this affirmation stick is to ask a non-related question that takes away the pressure of the child to respond to the compliment (like, "Say, have you seen the scissors?"). Or you could quickly excuse yourself from the room or in some way make it comfortable for the child not to respond to what you have just said. (If Suzie really wants to thank you, she'll find the opportunity to do it.)

Casual notes left on the bathroom mirror or in a lunch box are another way to affirm a child without him or her feeling like you're pushing too much on the affirmation. Keep affirming in small and casual ways, it will pay off. 

 James Sutton, Psychologist

June 21, 2006 Posted by | Difficult Child, Parents | Leave a comment

Father’s Day 2006, “A Good Man”

On a day when we honor our fathers, here's a song I wrote honoring my father, Fred Sutton, a week after he passed away in October of 1998. It's simply called, "He Was a Good Man."

He was a good man, loved his family

A good man, for the world to see

By most measures fame had passed him by

But no matter, I always saw him try

To do the right thing, 'cause it was the thing to do

A good man, the kind to see things through

(Chorus)

Good men come; good men go

The best we've every had

And if there's a Good Men's Hall of Fame,

There'll be a place for Dad

A good man; his memory lingers on

In the lives he touched, in the words of this song

A good man, and I want you to understand

He was more than just a man

He was a good man

(written by James D. Sutton, 1998)

June 20, 2006 Posted by | Special Occasions | Leave a comment

A New Blog

For some crazy reason, my other blog, "Through Their Eyes," glitched on me. I can't edit it at all. So that's why I've started this one. To see the earlier items, go to http://throughtheireyes.wordpress.com.

We'll have this blogsite up and going in no time.

 James Sutton, Psychologist

June 20, 2006 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment