It's About Them

Young People … Our Greatest Resource

Secrets of a Fly Snatcher

I was going through back issues of my prior newsletter, Reaching Out, and came across this piece. It most definitely teaches a skill. Have fun with it. –JDS

At first glance, the common housefly falls way short on talent and creativity. Think about it; ever see a fly sing a song, dance a polka or recite a poem?

Hey, but just try catching one. This little critter comes equipped with an early warning system that all but assures it will see another day and another garbage can. Near 360 degree vision and unbelievable quickness make a sneak attach on a housefly virtually impossible.

But as slippery as it is, the fly has one problem: It can only process danger coming from one direction at a time.
To catch a housefly, simply jam its radar; come in on it with both hands from two sides. Folks who study this sort of thing (now there’s a specialty) say the fly will remain frozen in place because it can’t compute an excape.

One more candidate for Fly Heaven.

I shared this little tidbit with a group of elementary students. (They were spellbound by this subject.) On my next visit, I asked if any of them had tried the fly thing.

One bright-eyed fifth-grader shared he had told his father about it.

“That’s the dumbest thing I EVER heard,” was Dad’s reply.

At that instant, a fly landed on the television. The boy used the new technique to capture the fly. He handed it, alive and wriggling, to his father.

Of course there is a deeper meaning operating here: Humans aren’t flies. We can take in information from a number of sources and directions, consider our options and determine how, when and where we will respond.

So the next time you have a difficult decision to make, try not to let it “bug” you. Don’t freeze; work it out.

You’re NOT a fly.

James D. Sutton, EdD, CSP

Consulting Psychologist/Certified Speaking Professional
PO Box 672, Pleasanton, TX 78064
(800) 659-6628 Email:

December 29, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“You Want MY Help?”

I believe it was Dr. Joyce Brothers who once said, “The quickest way to develop a relationship with someone is to ask them for a small favor.” She would often emphasize the word “small” as being important. Small favors are not ingratiating, nor do they require repayment. (A person in our checkout line at the grocery store will give us three cents when we’re short on change, with no expectation of being repaid. A loan of $30.00, however, would be a different story.)

Here’s how it works. Let’s say you greet the youngster at the door and share a quick introduction. (So far, so good; no pain yet.) Then you say you need to make a couple of notes, and ask her if she would put a small stack of books into a box for you while you wrap up.

It’s a simple task, and my guess is she’ll jump right into it because putting books in a box is a diversion, a pleasant shift from what she was expecting. But it’s also a distraction, a distraction from pain.

If you walk the child to your office, consider raking a dozen books or so off your bookshelp onto the floor as you leave to get her. Upon walking into your office you could say, “Oh my goodness, these books fell off that shelf. Would you help me put them back?” I’ve also asked students to help me clear a corner of my desk so we could work, or even move the furniture around in the office so we could be more “comfortable.”

In addition to such a move or gesture being a distraction from the negative, the child is exercising compliance for you (that’s worth noting), and it provides an opportunity for you to express your appreciation to her. That’s something this child might not have heard from an adult for some time. It’s not a bad start, if you can make it work.

I used a spin on this idea working with children and adolescents at a group home. I would ask them if they would help me bring in a couple of boxes from my car. I figured a youngster would do most anything other than be anxious and uncomfortable in my office for the first time.

On days when I intended to use this strategy, I parked my vehicle half a block away. I would make it a point to have two identical boxes in the trunk, one for me and one for the child. I had a chance to visit with the youngster as we slowly strolled back to my office with the boxes. This helped to settle the child and, of course, I praised his willingness to help me.

My next client would help me carry a couple of boxes to my car. (On those days, the boxes got quite a workout.)

James D. Sutton, EdD, CSP

Consulting Psychologist/Certified Speaking Professional
PO Box 672, Pleasanton, TX 78064
(800) 659-6628 Email:

December 27, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Tip for Counselors: THE LIST

THE LIST: It is a challenge sometimes getting youngsters to identify issues they need to work on in counseling. It’s also possible for a counselor have the exact opposite problem: youngsters who lean too heavily on the counselor and want to “customize” every session.

I’ve had counseling and therapy clients bring a list with them! It contained all the issues and items they wanted me to cover in the sessions with them. If this were a once-in-a-while sort of thing, with a youngster writing down a few things during the week she wanted to discuss with me during the next session, it would be fine. As a habit, however, a list can send up a few red flags.

We’ll look at three concerns. (You’ll notice I keep saying “she” because my most memorable list-making, list-bringing, client was an adolescent girl.)

1. The list might be full of petty gripes and complaints that she wants me to fix or repair for her. Again, one or two occasional issues are not a problem, but I do need to make it clear that the counselor or therapist is not a handyman or a cop. (The real focus here is her empowerment to manage the smaller issues herself.)

2. The list could be a diversion. It just might be a defocus to take the discussion away from things that are difficult or uncomfortable for her to address. As long as she can make a list, and as long as I address her list items in session, she’s controlling the session and not doing much in terms of improvement.

3. The list could signal compulsive or histrionic characteristics. With adolescents, especially girls, persistence in making and bringing lists to counseling or therapy could create concern about emerging features of a personality disorder. This is not as big a concern with younger clients. One young client brought her list to almost every session. She even gave me a decorated binder for storing all her notes and lists! This girl brought me the ultimate list to one session: numbered ways to kill herself. She wanted me to circle the one I thought best for her … a “recommendation”, so to speak. Obviously, we had plenty of work to do in that session. Here’s how I handled the list thing with her and a few others. I didn’t tell her not to make or bring lists. Instead, I accepted the list, placed it on the corner of my desk, and shared that we could talk about the list during the last few minutes of the session. This approach worked well with her and, without me saying much about it, the lists got shorter and eventually disappeared. As you might guess, this young lady was not my typical counseling case. I’m happy to say, however, that she is doing quite well today. Life for her has not been easy, but she has persevered and thrived. I’m proud to say she’s happily married, has earned a college degree, owns her own successful business, is active in her church, and has five great kids.

James Sutton, Psychologist

December 25, 2010 Posted by | Counselors | | Leave a comment

The Shoes (Christmas, 2010)

I’m not sure where I came across this story, but it touched my heart. I’ll bet it will touch your heart also. It would be interesting, indeed, to play this story out over the years in order to see the potential long-term impact of a random act of kindness.

Have a blessed Christmas, 2010. –JDS


THE SHOES: (The Scene: A very cold and blustery December day in New York City.)

A young boy was standing in front of a shoe store, barefooted, peering into the window. He was shivering with cold as a lady approached him.

“Young man, what are you looking at so intently in that window?”

“I was asking God for a pair of shoes,” the lad answered her.

She smiled and reached for his hand. As she led him into the store, she asked the clerk for several pairs of socks for the boy. Then she requested a basin of water and a towel.

The lady took the boy to the back of the store and, removing her gloves, knelt down and washed his feet and dried them with the towel. She then put some new woolen socks on his feet and purchased for him a new pair of shoes.

As a finishing gesture, the lady tied up the remaining pairs of socks and handed the bundle to the youngster.

Gently touching him on the head she exclaimed, “No doubt, my little fellow, you are more comfortable now.”

As she turned to leave, the boy reached for her hand. As tears filled his eyes he gazed into her face and asked a question that tugged on her heart:


December 24, 2010 Posted by | adversity, family, Healthy living, Inspirational, Self-esteem, Special Occasions | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment