It's About Them

Young People … Our Greatest Resource

Teleseminar on ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder)

NOTE: This teleseminar has already been conducted and is now ready for download. CLICK HERE to download the program in an mp3 file suitable for use in an iPod, mp3 player or computer.


TELESEMINAR: “WINNING THE BEHAVIOR GAME”: We have recently set up a telephone bridge for conducting live teleseminars, and are excited about the possibilities of using this dependable and effective medium of training. We will be coordinating the telephone with a printed handout delivered by email.

The date of the teleseminar is Thursday, August 27th, 2009. It will be held at 8:00pm Central Time (Dallas and Chicago time). The teleseminar will be 60-70 minutes in length.

Dr. Sutton will be the presenter on this first teleseminar. His topic, Winning the Behavior Game, is a timely one in the management of difficult behavior in young people. Here’s what the program will cover:

1. The concept of how inappropriate behavior is often reinforced inadvertantly.
2. What a youngster attempts to achieve with inappropriate behavior, and how to manage it directly.
3. The concept of patterns of behavior and why they are so difficult to manage.
4. The three powerful elements of a pattern.
5. Strategies and interventions for breaking down patterns and redirecting behavior.
6. The value of NOT “Stirring the Pot” in intervention.

The teleseminar will allow time for questions and interaction.

We will archive the training and the handout on the web, where it will be available for download.

Registration is limited. To express your interest in participating in this first program at no cost, simply email Dr. Sutton at the email address in the section to the right of this post, and put “Teleseminar” in the subject line. We will contact you with the phone number and access code for the call and, of course, the file for the training handout.

Do remember that, when registration is full, the teleseminar will be closed.


James Sutton, Psychologist

August 13, 2009 Posted by | Counselors, Difficult Child, Educators, family, Healthy living, Parents | , , , , | Leave a comment

What Are You Willing to Do?

I was in Lousiana doing training for St. John’s Parish schools earlier this week when I had the opportunity to hear Ron Clark deliver an awesome keyote address to the educators gathered there. (Ron Clark is a North Carolina boy, the teacher about whom the film, “The Ron Clark Story,” was made. He was played by actor Matthew Perry. It’s a compelling story about Clark’s work with challenging students and circumstances in New York City’s Harlem.)

During his presentation, Ron shared a story about an effort he once made to encourage students to pay closer attention in class. He challenged them that, for every two minutes he had the undivided attention of the whole class, he would chug a lunch carton of chocolate milk. (He assured them that, if they did pay attention, he would most certainly throw up eventually.)

The plan worked. Ron shared how he made it through 14 cartons before … well, you know.

What happened next, however, was something he had not planned on. That evening, these students gave their folks an account of what had happened in class. Ron then began hearing from parents. They told him that, if he was willing to make himself sick to hold their child’s attention in class, he had their complete support.

My apologies go out to Ron Clark for this poor rendition of a story he told with such gusto, but I mention it here in support of his continuing work with young people. It poses an interesting question:

Just how reachable would kids be if we were willing to pay the price to make it happen?

Well, he charged my battery; that’s for sure.

Ron Clark’s efforts to challenge youngsters to a lifetime of achievement continue through his school in Atlanta, The Ron Clark Academy.

I wonder if he lets them serve chocolate milk there?

August 6, 2009 Posted by | Educators, Humor, Inspirational, Parents | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“It Doesn’t Bother Me THAT Much!”

“IT DOESN’T BOTHER ME THAT MUCH.” Minimization is “leaky” denial. In many ways, minimization is more difficult to deal with than denial because a youngster can minimize for 50 years.

There could be a couple of reasons why a student or client would minimize the impact of an emotional event. It could be a way to avoid looking at or discussing painful stuff. If a counselor puts off discussing the issue because the youngster minimizes it, the issue could eat the child alive.

There is another possibility. Youngsters who feel they must remain tough and bulletproof (difficult and defiant youngsters often fall into this category) feel they can’t afford any emotional baggage that pulls them down. Denial and minimization are their handiest defense against what they perceive as yet more pain and vulnerability. They feel that even quality suffering and getting through the issues are luxuries they can’t afford.

It has always amazed me at just how surprised these youngsters are when they get an authentic glimpse of the power of what bothers them.

An example. I was doing group therapy at a residential treatment center one day. In the circle with me were about a dozen emotionally disturbed adolescent females. One girl was asked if it bothered her that her mother refused to keep her shortly after adopting her. (The girl tried to burn the house down, not exactly a way to show gratitude to a new parent.) “Not really,” she replied. “It doesn’t bother me much at all.”

“Sandy,” I said (not her real name), “does it bother you this much?” (I patted the empty seat next to me.) “Or does it bother you THIS MUCH?” (I screamed it out and hit the chair with both hands, full force.) After we all recovered our wits, and after I assured the secretarial staff in the other room that they didn’t have to call in the National Guard, we discussed minimization and its cost.

That remains one of my best therapy sessions ever. There is harmful power and potency in the emotional baggage we stuff into convenient corners and closets.

James Sutton, EdD  Psychologist 

August 1, 2009 Posted by | adversity, Difficult Child, family, Healthy living | , , , , , , | Leave a comment