It's About Them

Young People … Our Greatest Resource

Will a Juvenile Record Ruin My Child’s Life? (Judge Tom Jacobs)

If a youngster breaks the law, does that mistake have to follow them forever? Not necessarily, says author and former juvenile judge, Tom Jacobs, as he offers insights into options for saving that youngster’s future. We present, “Will a Juvenile Record Ruin My Child’s Life?”

…………………….

Will a Juvenile Record Ruin My Child's LIfe, Judge Tom JacobsIn February, 2017, two fifth grade students at a California elementary school hacked into a classmate’s tablet. They posted graphic images and offensive language. The boys involved were both ten years old. There was an investigation by school officials.

Should this act affect their future college applications, employment opportunities, or military enlistment? No. Should it become a teachable moment? Of course.

A Serious Situation

This was the boys’ first offense, but one that could result in a criminal record. Hacking into someone’s computer and posting objectionable content may constitute a crime, depending on existing state laws. The act could be considered harassment, intimidation, cyberbullying, or threatening. Whatever category it fits into, the boys could be charged with a felony, misdemeanor or petty offense.

Diversion As An Option

The school district may have a policy of handling first-time offenses internally. The boys could face suspension or expulsion. Or the school could have a diversion program designed to educate students about the importance of being good “netizens” who practice netiquette every time they use social media. Considering their age, diversion is preferable to sending them to juvenile court for formal prosecution. The purpose of diversion is to “divert” the offense away from the criminal justice system. That way, a minor charge does not become a “record” that could follow the juvenile into adulthood.

Diversion is common across the country for first-time offenders charged with minor crimes. The majority of participants in a diversion program do not re-offend. Their brief brush with the law has a lasting impact.

Ask The Judge, Judge Tom Jacobs

Diversion generally involves community service, counseling, or a class about laws and one’s rights and responsibilities. Once the program is successfully completed, the case is closed and there’s no official record of the incident. There is no guarantee, but usually it would not appear in a background check done years or decades later.

Expunging a Juvenile’s Record

When a case is handled in juvenile court, and the court finds the juvenile guilty of an offense and imposes consequences, a record is created. All states have laws regarding expunging (destroying) a juvenile’s record. It’s a simple process and does not require hiring a lawyer. That’s a decision for the applicant and/or the parents to make. The application is a short form that, once filled out, is filed with the court the juvenile was in. A copy of the application is sent to the prosecutor’s office for review. The prosecutor notifies the court whether they agree with the expungment or oppose it. A judge ultimately decides to grant or deny the request.

If you are a teenager or pre-teen and you find yourself in court charged with a minor offense, it’s a serious event in your life. But, it’s not necessarily life-changing or the end of the world. Once you face the music, make amends, and comply with all court orders, the incident will become history and not affect your future. The U.S. Supreme Court commented in the famous Gault case in 1967 that “the policy of the juvenile law is to hide youthful errors from the full gaze of the public and bury them in the graveyard of the forgotten past.” When a juvenile court expunges a minor’s record, he or she can move out of the shadows of this cloud in their life.

NOTE: Many courts have Self-Help Centers where the public has access to legal booklets and forms to assist them navigate the system without an attorney. Such may also be available on the court’s website. In addition, some family and juvenile law attorneys offer free initial consultations. If you contact one for advice, ask about this. A brief consult may be all you need to file for an expungment of a juvenile’s record. ###

 

Judge Tom Jacobs spent 23 years as a juvenile judge in Arizona. From his heartfelt concern for young people, Judge Tom, with assistance from his daughter, Natalie Jacobs, founded and moderates AsktheJudge.info, a teen-law website for and about teenagers and the laws that affect them. It stands as a valuable site for parents and educators who want to stay current with issues that affect the safety and welfare of our young people. Judge Tom has written a number of books for lawyers and judges, as well as for teens and parents, including “What Are My Rights?” Teen Cyberbullying Investigated, and a recent book he co-authored with Natalie, Every Vote Matters: The Power of Your Voice.

 

June 6, 2017 Posted by | adversity, Difficult Child, Discipline, Educators, family, Healthy living, Law & Justice, Parents, Resilience | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Five Ways to Make Your Teen Happier (Mike Ferry)

As author Mike Ferry points out, adolescents today experience alarming rates of depression and stress. He shares five ways parents can help their teen be happier. We present, “Five Ways to Make Your Teen Happier.”

…………………….

Five Ways to Make Your Teen Happier (Mike Ferry)Pimples. Hormonal changes. Emotional extremes. Argumentativeness. Romantic relationships. If you have an adolescent son or daughter, you may be living through these and other aspects of the teen years. It’s a period of great upheaval, for kids and parents (not to mention the teachers who never escape the drama of middle and high school).

Stress, anxiety and depression

Adolescence has always been hard, but today’s teens are having an especially difficult time. For a variety of reasons, teens are suffering from higher rates of stress, anxiety, and depression than ever before. Consider this statistic:

17% of high school students seriously consider suicide (22.4% of girls)

That’s unbelievable! Unfortunately, the trend continues into the college years:

54% of college students have extreme anxiety
30% of college students suffer from severe depression

As parents, there are some strategies we can employ to help our teenage children endure this rough patch and emerge stronger in young adulthood. We can practice these “protective factors” at home to boost our kids’ emotional immune systems.

Five Things Parents Can Do

Here are five ways to make teens happier and to promote long-term positive mental health.

Teaching Happiness and Innovation, Mike Ferry(1) Have a consistent home or family routine. I know how tough this can be. My wife and I have four kids; managing their sports schedules and social calendars seems harder than running a federal agency. If possible, try to have at least one family meal per week. You could also plan a family game night once a month and make it clear that nothing will take priority over it.

(2) Promote healthy habits. Our physical health impacts our emotional health. Encourage plenty of exercise and a healthy diet. Sleep is often sacrificed due to homework and hanging out with friends, but it is an essential aspect of sound mental health. Do all you can to help your teen get at least eight or nine hours of sleep every night.

(3) Practice spirituality. Teens are trying to figure out who they are and how they fit into the world. Spirituality offers emotional support and guidance, in addition to a sense of purpose. If your family actively practices religion, help your teen grow in the faith by attending services on a regular basis. Getting involved with your religious community’s youth group strengthens social bonds and creates shared experiences that can sustain your teen in difficult times.

(4) Boost confidence. Many teens suffer from negative self-esteem. This may result from poor body image, stressful social interactions, or feeling inadequate in some way. You can help your teen feel more confident by celebrating his or her victories, large and small. Show your teen that effort leads to results, and that he or she has the power to achieve success in a variety of areas. For more ideas, you can check out my blog post on ways to develop a growth mindset in your child.

(5) Know what’s going on. Monitor your teen’s activities, both in the “real world” and online. Take a peek every now and then at your son or daughter’s social media profiles. Invite your teen’s friends to your house to hang out. Stay in touch with how your child is doing at school and beyond. Often, troubling emotional situations can be avoided by proactive and positive parenting.

Hang in there, parents of teens! It’s a wild and unpredictable ride, but it will be over before you know it. Your child will grow up and leave the nest (hopefully) with the tools needed for academic and personal success. With a great deal of patience and care, we can get our teens on track for stronger mental health in the present and down the road. If you’re interested in learning more ways to guide your teenage child through this tumultuous time, you may want to check out my online course, “The Parent’s Guide To Surviving Adolescence.”

Mike Ferry is the author of Teaching Happiness and Innovation. A middle school history teacher in Richmond, VA, Mike is raising four (mostly happy) children with his wife, Jenny. For more information about teaching happiness to children, visit www.happinessandinnovation.com. Twitter @MikeFerry7

May 28, 2017 Posted by | Affirmation and Recognition, Anxiety and Depression, Compassion, Counselors, Educators, family, Healthy living, Parents, Resilience, Self-esteem, Stress | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Foster Kid’s Dilemma: Wo Gets the Life Raft? (Shenandoah Chefalo)

What happens when youngsters have to make “grown-up” decisions regarding their own welfare? Former foster youth and author, Shenandoah Chefalo, shares this eye-opening, candid account of such an experience and what she learned from it.

……………………………………

Shenandoah Chefalo, A Foster Kid's Dilemma: Who Gets the Life Raft?Writing for my blog is sometimes problematic for me. I try to be as transparent as possible and talk about the things that are truly affecting my life in the moment. I want it to be honest, of course, but sometimes that means discussing emotions and feelings that are difficult or painful to put into words.

An Unexpected Answer

Recently, I was at an event and a woman asked a question that I hear often: “How did you overcome the abandonment of your mother?” My answer is burdensome and often shocking for audiences. The truth is, I never felt abandoned by my mother. Instead, I felt that I had abandoned her.

I had spent much of my childhood taking care of my mother, worrying about her, and making sure she was okay. When I was 13, she disappeared for a few days, then a few weeks. It wasn’t shocking to me; it was my “normal.”

When she still hadn’t reappeared, and my grandmother was going to be evicted from her housing, I knew I had to call social services. It was a difficult call for me to make; one that I would wish, time and time again, that I hadn’t made. Making that call always felt like I was watching a life raft for one float by, and I selfishly took it for myself.

When people hear this story, I can see a bit of shock come across their faces. It is difficult to put into words the loyalty I felt for my mother, and the betrayal I carry in my heart. As an adult, I cognitively understand my decision, and most do, also, but the betrayal I feel I caused hasn’t lessened.

Garbage Bag Suitcase, Shenandoah ChefaloA Matter of Loyalty

After the most recent presidential election results started coming in, I was struck with the notion of loyalty and how the weight of that emotion can be viewed, oftentimes confused for betrayal. As defined, loyalty is a strong feeling of support or allegiance to someone or something. It is a feeling or attitude of devoted attachment and affection. As a society, it is a trait we hold in high regard. In fact, any sign of disloyalty is often met with cries of one not being patriotic, a traitor, a crybaby, or various four-letter expletives.

And, that is why, after not seeing my birth mother for over 27 years, I still have feelings of disloyalty toward her and feel as I am the one who betrayed her. Abandonment was never my trigger or emotion. It is also why I have difficulty discussing those feelings; any sign of estrangement or retreat creates feelings (and brings accusations) that I was wrong in my decision to save myself.

Complicated

These emotions are complicated when children enter foster care; old families, new families, changing families … the feelings and questions come to the surface:

How can you be loyal to everyone? Can you ever?

Whom do you betray?

How do you protect yourself?

Is it ever OK to be disloyal? If so, who decides who gets the life raft?

Sometimes you just need to pick up the phone.

Shenandoah Chefalo is an advocate and a former foster youth. She is the author of the memoir, Garbage Bag Suitcase, and co-founder of Good Harbor Institute, an organization focused on ensuring sustainable, implemented trauma care within organizations and individuals. You can learn more about her and her work at www.garbagebagsuitcase.com or www.goodharborinst.com

 

April 10, 2017 Posted by | adversity, Anxiety and Depression, Compassion, courage, Difficult Child, Educators, family, Healthy living, Human Interest, Inspirational, Parents, Resilience, Self-esteem, Stress | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Five String Recovery, Part 2 (Guest: Phillip Wadlow)

A 16-year-old musician wins a national bluegrass championship while secretly battling addiction. Here’s the second of his two-part story about his recovery, his music, and his message to young people.

…………………………….

Five String Recovery, Phillip WadlowThis is the concluding part of 5-String Recovery with guest, Phillip Wadlow. In this part he tells of moving into adulthood with his drug and alcohol addiction, and how it affected his marriage, his children, his work, and his health. He also shares how he came to realize he needed treatment, and he tells of that experience. Throughout the interview, Phil plays some of the music that was such a significant part of his life, and shares how he’d like to use his music as an avenue for reaching out to young people. (Dr. Sutton, the interviewer, plays back-up guitar, except for the sad, but appropriate, guitar solo that represents one of the lowest points in Phil’s life.)

The original message of this interview was a cassette tape program, thus the reference to the cassette near the end of the program. Because Phil did move around quite a bit over the years, it is not know exactly where he is now, but life goes on. His children are grown now, of course, and it is know that he has remarried and, at last word, he and his wife were managing an apartment complex in Missouri.

There is a powerful message Phil wants young people need to hear, and this is it: Although one can recover from drugs and alcohol and work a program of dedicated sobriety, the costs of addiction impose many losses than cannot be recovered. Unless one takes responsibility for those losses, instead of blaming others, complete recovery is difficult, indeed. (20:40)

To listen, left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Target as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK

April 4, 2017 Posted by | adversity, Affirmation and Recognition, Anxiety and Depression, Counselors, courage, Difficult Child, Educators, family, Healthy living, Parents, Stress | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Confidence or Determination: Which is More Valuable? (Michael Byron Smith)

How do we identify and instill confidence and determination in our children? Author Michael Byron Smith offers insights into positive change. We present, “Confidence or Determination: Which is More Valuable?”

………………….

Confidence or Determination: Which is More Valuable?, Michael Byron SmithIf ever there were two heavyweight fighters in the world of self-development, they would be called CONFIDENCE and DETERMINATION. Looking at these two characteristics as a parent, which would you emphasize for your child?

Certainly, anyone who has both of these characteristics will likely become whatever they choose to be. However, a child may have confidence but not determination, or vice versa. And if only one exists, which would be best to have?

Having confidence will make life and its challenges appear easier to attack, allowing one to charge ahead with little reticence. On the other hand, having determination will give one a voice shouting encouragement in their ear: “Keep going–keep going”!

Of course, we want our children to have both characteristics and to use them wisely. If they have one of these attributes, we concentrate on the other. But getting back to the question, if they are weak in both, which would you choose to emphasize–confidence or determination? Before we choose, let’s consider the traps that exist in both confidence and determination.

The Challenge of Confidence

Confidence can trick you. It can prevent one from preparing properly, or from trying hard enough. Too much confidence can defy your true abilities and displaying it can put off others a bit. Confidence is best worn on the inside showing through, not draped callously upon your personality.

I discuss confidence in my book, The Power of Dadhood:

Self-confidence can be nurtured by introducing your child to challenging experiences, such as hiking the Grand Canyon, cleaning a fish, or joining a drama club. Kids become self-confident when they get over the fear of the unknown, when they overcome an inhibition, and when they accept that they don’t have to be good at everything, because no one has ever been good at everything.

The challenge must not exceed their capacity, or their confidence could diminish. Nor should you mislead them into falsely thinking they’ve achieved a significant success when it was too easily attained. Success does build confidence, but success built on sand will not contribute to your child’s confidence in the long run. Confidence gained by easy victories can be shattered by reality.

It may not be wise to convince your children that they are great artists or athletes if they will be judged more honestly in school or by friends. A more realistic view will not set them up for a fall, a fall from which recovery could be difficult. But, of course, praise any real talent and encourage any talent that shows promise.

Confidence works both from within (how you feel about yourself), and from without (how others see you).

Determination: ‘Intend’ is a stronger word than ‘Can’

Determination is a great characteristic to possess. It can, however, be brutal on your overall happiness. Your determination can make you go off in directions for all the wrong reasons. For example, it’s not good to be determined to get even with someone. Nor is it good to go after a prize or be vindictive just because you want to prove a point. Determinism must have properly chosen goals. While misplaced confidence has the most failures, misplaced determination has the most stress.

The Power of Dadhood, Michael Byron SmithOnce again, from The Power of Dadhood:

Knowing you ‘can’ makes your intentions that much easier, without all the gut-wrenching anxiety. However, many people can, or think they can, but never do. People with a can-do attitude have their wheels greased, but they have no engine if they have no intent. If we Dads and our children have both the engine (intention) and the grease (confidence), we have what we need to move forward. Not only can we get somewhere, but we can get there with little friction.

‘Determination’ is the backbone of persistence. ‘Determination’ can help you to focus and to overcome a lack of confidence.

Which is it?

So, if your child needed both confidence and determination, which would you choose to emphasize? In my experience, if you’re not confident, then at least be determined and confidence will come. If you’re not determined, your confidence is like pajamas—comfortable as you lay around. What saved me was my determination! I was not confident about becoming successful, but I was determined to be so. I was, at the very least, determined to improve my situation in life, that being the only thing about which I was confident.

Although you can nurture a child to have confidence, you can’t let them wallow in it. Again, that’s when having determination can help. Push them when you have to be on task. It’s how the military gets many of their recruits through basic training. That’s how the voice in your ear does its job, telling you to “keep going”! Mantras are voices at work, expressing through repetition what you want to achieve. When a goal is met with your determination, an increase in confidence will follow. You can ask any graduate of basic military training, any mountain climber, or any Olympic athlete.

There is no wrong answer to my question because we will always want to encourage our kids to have determination, and nurture them to have confidence. Vince Lombardi once said, “Confidence is contagious. So is lack of confidence.” Confidence can be with you one day and gone the next, but with determination, one will bridge those gaps. Never stop encouraging or nurturing either characteristic. That’s what makes a mother a mom, and a father a dad!

And someday, you may hear these precious words: “Because of you Dad, I didn’t give up!

Michael Byron Smith is the author of The Power of Dadhood [website] He also hosts the “Helping Fathers to be Dads” blog.

 

February 19, 2017 Posted by | adversity, Affirmation and Recognition, Counselors, courage, Discipline, Educators, family, Healthy living, Human Interest, Inspirational, Parents, Resilience, Self-esteem | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dealing with Media’s Effect on Our Children (Guest: Bill Ratner)

BTRadioInt

Here’s a posting of an earlier interview with Bill Ratner on a topic important to all parents. I appreciate Bill’s perspective on the matter, and I consider this interview to be one of the best on The Changing Behavior Network. We present, “Dealing with Media’s Effect on Our Children.” –JDS

………………………………….

There is a very real concern that our children spend too much time online or with activities on computers, tablets, smart phones, and other digital devices. Opportunities for social interaction, family time together and even fresh air and exercise just aren’t there like they were before the digital age hit us full-force.

Dealing with Media's Effect on Our Children, Bill RatnerAnd, of course, there are concerns about internet and cyber safety. Predators are out there 24/7; they represent a valid concern to the welfare of our children. We obviously want our kids to be safe.

Digital Marketing Blitz

Our guest on this program, Bill Ratner, author and Hollywood voice-over specialist, suggests there is another presence that overwhelms our children through their digital devices: the media. Kids face a marketing blitz that’s supported by advertisers paying billions each year to target them specifically. In this program, Bill will give us an insider’s take on the problem, and what we can do about it to better protect our children and grandchildren.

Bill Ratner

Parenting for the Digital Age, Bill RatnerEven if you’ve never met Bill, you have likely HEARD him. He’s a leading voice-over specialist and voice actor in thousands of movie trailers, cartoons, television, games and commercials. Through his connections in advertising, Bill has been the voice of many leading corporations.

While raising his family, however, Bill realized his own children were being bombarded by media messages he helped create. This became a driving force behind the development of a program of media awareness for children and the writing of the book, Parenting for the Digital Age: The Truth Behind Media’s Effect on Children and What to Do About It. This book is the focus of Dr. Sutton’s interview with Bill on this program. (35:19)

http://www.billratner.com/parentingbook.html

TO LISTEN, left-click the link. To access the file right-click and “Save Link as …” to save to your audio device), CLICK HERE FOR LINK

January 25, 2017 Posted by | adversity, Discipline, Educators, family, Healthy living, Parents, Resilience, Stress | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

15 Tips to Organize and Enjoy the Holidays, Part One (Alison Kero)

wreathThe holiday season can be a special time of togetherness for families, especially when the kids are out of school and are home for the holidays. But it can also be a frustrating and less-than-perfect time, especially when the kids are out of school and are home for the holidays. Organization specialist, Alison Kero, offers us some great tips to help make this holiday season the best ever at YOUR house. We present, “15 Tips to Organize and Enjoy the Holidays.” (This is Part One of a two-part post.)
………………………….

 

Alison Kero, ACK OrganizingHolidays are supposed to be a fun and joyous time for everyone. That’s the message as we are bombarded with commercials, movies and television specials featuring happy families who have decorated their homes as if they were Martha Stewart themselves. They are able to afford piles of gifts under the tree, and, of course, everyone easily forgives one another for past grievances no matter what bad things were done. We’re told it’s a time of family, forgiveness and of giving to others.

Yet, for many of us, it feels more like the most stressful, exhausting and frustrating time of the year rather than the happiest and most serene. So how do you manage the stress, keep up your energy and maybe even enjoy yourself this season? Here’s my favorite 15 ways to organize and enjoy the holidays.

#1 Know Your Priorities: Weeding out what can wait is just as important as knowing what you can’t do without as it will help you manage your time well and ensure you make smarter decisions, even in the midst of chaos. However, figuring out what is important can be difficult when you have a child begging for that latest “must have” toy while everyone is asking you to make that special cake that takes 5 hours to bake. So how do you choose what is imperative and what isn’t? Make a list; if Santa can do it, so can YOU. If the holiday fell apart, what would still make it okay? To make it special, focus on what’s important, rather than getting mired down in the smaller, pettier matters.

#2 Focus on the Positive: If you have a huge bank account, a large support team, and a perfect family then, yes, you probably can have a perfect holiday with bells and whistles. But if not, the main priority is that you have food on the table and that your family has gathered together to celebrate the season. The best way to ensure you enjoy the holidays is to choose to focus on the fact that everyone is together and hopefully healthy, not the large amounts of dishes you’ll have to wash as a result. Choose to focus on the true gifts of the season rather than focusing on what gifts you didn’t get or those that didn’t arrive on time. Focusing on the positive will help you stay organized and you’ll be much more likely to enjoy yourself for once.

#3 Set Boundaries: Holidays are not about the stuff; they’re about reconnecting with people you care about. But sometimes some of those people will try to walk all over your boundaries and your feelings. When that happens, it’s time to empower yourself by setting up healthy boundaries with family members and friends, then keep them enforced no matter how much they push you to back down so they can have their way. Whether it’s choosing to walk away from an argument up or saying “No, but thank you!” to the 4th holiday party you’ve been invited to this year, remember that only you can control how you react to things. So lessen the amount of emotional clutter you bring into this holiday season by choosing to let others be responsible for their own behavior.

#4 Shop Online to Save Time: If you’re short on time or dislike shopping then purchasing gifts online is your best resource. It’s a great way to keep yourself and your gift giving organized, plus it will take less than half the time since there’s no traveling. You can literally have everything purchased, wrapped and shipped without ever leaving your home. Best of all, you’ll avoid long lines and crowds, and you won’t have to wait your turn for hours only to find that the store ran out of what you wanted. Just remember to pay attention to how long it takes to ship so you ensure your gift arrives on time.

familyshopping#5 Start Early: Whether you shop online or prefer to stick with stores, shop early. It will make the experience more enjoyable because you won’t be rushed or stressed out. You might even find yourself finishing early so you’ll even have time to actually enjoy the holiday season without feeling stressed or rushed. Also, if you ship gifts early, not only will you be guaranteed it will arrive on time, you’ll avoid waiting in a long (and often impatient) line and it won’t cost you your entire holiday budget to get it there on time. If you are someone who waits until the last minute, then at least scout out in advance one store that’s open late on Christmas Eve where you can find suitable gifts. And no, heading to CVS and buying gift cards at the last minute doesn’t count.

#6 Make Self Love Decisions: If you go into your holiday season with the mindset that no matter what everyone is going to be over-the-top happy, then you’ve set yourself up to fail. You can’t allow yourself to be held hostage to what everyone else thinks makes a perfect holiday, but you can choose to remain as calm and happy as possible, no matter how chaotic it might get. You can only control your own reactions, so you might as well decide to make them good ones. You might find you actually enjoy yourself because you chose not to get caught up in unimportant matters.

sleep#7 Get Some Rest! You are no good to anyone if you’re exhausted, and you certainly won’t enjoy the holiday season when you’re running on empty. Incorporate at least 8 hours of rest into your day and nap if you can. Try going to bed at the same time each night. This routine will help you fall asleep more easily. Getting enough rest will also allow you to think and organize your days more easily. It will also help prevent you from getting sick during this holiday season.

#8 Eat Healthy: Yes, enjoy the cookies and other delights the holidays bestow upon us, but be mindful that it’s a self love and smart choice to eat healthy foods in between those sips of eggnog and nibbles of gingerbread. Eating well throughout the season will ensure that your energy stays up and that you keep your body, mind and spirit happy and healthy during the holidays. Eating fruits and veggies will actually help you keep your weight down over the holidays and you’ll crave less sugar. A healthy diet will also give you a great head start on your 2017 resolutions.

We will conclude with tips 9 through 15 in Part Two in the next post. ###

 

Speakers Group Member, The Changing Behavior NetworkAlison Kero truly enjoys teaching her easy and effective decluttering system to her clients through her company, ACK Organizing. To reach Alison, go to http://www.ackorganizing.com.

 

December 13, 2016 Posted by | Anxiety and Depression, Educators, family, Healthy living, Parents, Resilience, Self-esteem, Special Occasions | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Evaluating a Youngster’s Self-Esteem (Dr. James Sutton)

Special Report, The Changing Behavior NetworkIssues and concerns related to self-esteem can create significant difficulty for a youngster’s overall development and progress. Answers to these five questions will give you a pretty good idea of where a particular child or teen might be in terms of self-esteem. These are taken from one of Dr. Sutton’s latest, downloadable e-books, Improving a Youngster’s Self-Esteem (revised). The book obviously contains more information regarding followup, intervention and treatment. CLICK HERE to learn more about the book. We now present, “Evaluating a Youngster’s Self-Esteem: Five Questions.”

……………………………………….

Dr. James Sutton, Evaluating a Youngster's Self-Esteem: Five QuestionsThere are five questions that pertain to the evaluation of a child or teen’s self-esteem. It is probable that a child with low self-esteem will have difficulty in several of these. Answers to these questions and observations can be helpful in determining management and treatment.

Question 1 of 5:

HOW DO YOU BELIEVE SHE (OR HE) VIEWS HER OWN IMAGE AND ABILITIES?

It’s not unusual for youngsters to have issues with their physical appearance; our bodies stay with us for life. The body is an individual’s direct connection with the outside world, and the only part of a person that others can see, hear, and touch.

Is she confident regarding her physical appearance? If she is not comfortable, is the problem an authentic one, perhaps even one that could be repaired (like crooked teeth)? Or is her issue with her appearance primarily in her own perception only, such as an attractive child believing somehow that she is ugly?

Does she put herself down when it comes to appearance and physical characteristics? What is the nature of her complaints and concerns?

Does she feel up to the challenge of comparing herself and her abilities with age and grade peers?

Sports is another area which showcases a youngster’s abilities, or lack of them. How is she in this area? Competitive sports like soccer and Little League come into a child’s life early on and continue through school and non-school functions and events for years. For some youngsters, the pressure to perform is anything but fun.

Question 2 of 5:

HOW WELL DOES HE HANDLE FRUSTRATION?

Can he handle quite a bit before he “loses it?” Can he creatively use setbacks as challenges to try even harder, or is he overly reactive to aggravation and setbacks?

It’s easy to see how the behavior of an angry youngster can bring about consequences that only create more frustration when the consequences are applied. The frustrated child finds himself in a hole that moves only in one direction deeper, then deeper still.

If self-esteem is a container from which we manage our stress, then some folks carry buckets while others have thimbles. You can size them up easily during moments of frustration. Said another way, a low tolerance for frustration is almost always a tip-off to low self-esteem.

Question 3 of 5:

HOW DOES SHE HANDLE CRITICISM, EVEN CONSTRUCTIVE, WELL-INTENDED CRITICISM?

Does she accept criticism graciously and use it as a springboard for improvement, or does just about ANY criticism bring about a response like, “How come you’re always picking on ME?”

Some youngsters feel they have long since met their quota of mistakes for the rest of their lives! So, when one more is held up in front of them, they’re not exactly happy about it.

Sometimes there is an opposite effect. This is the youngster who had difficulty accepting compliments. This situation is actually part of the same concern.

We all have an image of ourselves as a total person. If that image is a poor one, compliments will be in conflict with it. In other words, the compliment can’t find a place to “fit.” Consequently, the youngster might reject a compliment in order to maintain consistency of a poor self-image and of low self-esteem. One might say that this is self-defeating and that it doesn’t make much sense at all, but it is consistent.

Improving a Youngster's Self-Esteem, Dr. James SuttonQuestion 4 of 5:

IS HE WILLING TO TAKE APPROPRIATE RISKS?

Life involves risk. The very hope of progress, just about any kind of progress, demands that we take risks; not fool-hearty risks, of course, but age and situation-appropriate risks.

Examples of risks include sports and other areas of competition, the sort of classes a high school student signs up for or seeking that first after-school job. Then there’s the big one for a guy asking a girl out for a date. Life requires risk all the time.

The bottom line of risk-taking is always the same: fear of failure. If that fear is strong enough, one will not risk. But there’s a paradoxical quality to it. Since one cannot experience success UNLESS he takes a risk, a paralyzing fear of ultimately creates more failure.

We might consider here a pattern of an opposite effect: fear of success. The whole notion of success doesn’t fit well with a poor self-image or a low self-esteem. Many youngsters will strive for a consistency of a poor self-image rather than a successful life-style. That seems to run contrary to the laws of personhood, but in more than three decades of working with young people, I have seen it happen over and over again.

Question 5 of 5:

HOW DOES SHE HANDLE RELATIONSHIPS, BOTH WITH PEERS AND WITH ADULTS?

Does she seem to have a number of meaningful friendships that have lasted, friendships into which she is invested? Does she speak easily and comfortably with adults?

At the other extreme we find youngsters who seem socially isolated and withdrawn. They might possibly say things like, “No one likes me!” They might even make friends easily, but have difficulty keeping them.

This youngster might either be uncomfortable with adults or spend all of their time with just one friend or one adult, like a favorite teacher. This might appear to be a very positive relationship, but the deeper message could be avoidance of other relationships. This can become a real problem, especially if that one intense relationship falls apart. And generally, if the relationship is one-sided in its intensity, it will eventually fall apart.

There are underlying issues in such an unfortunate scenario, such as two kinds of fear: the fear of closeness and fear of being socially “exposed” For an adolescent, a stage of growth where peers are such an important part of psychosocial development, just the thought of being “exposed” is quite disturbing. This youngster can be terrified that, if others get too close, they might not like what they see. One way of dealing with this problem is to never, but never, let anyone get too close. But, just like the problem of risk, not letting anyone get close is also self-defeating. ###

 

Speakers Group MemberA nationally recognized (and now mostly retired) child and adolescent psychologist, author and speaker, Dr. James Sutton is the founder and host of The Changing Behavior Network. For more information about the ebook featured in this Special Report, CLICK HERE.

 

November 30, 2016 Posted by | Counselors, Difficult Child, Educators, family, Healthy living, Parents, Resilience, Self-esteem | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

10 Minute Solution: Counseling a Difficult Youngster (Dr. James Sutton)

BTCounselorEvery counselor, clinician or therapist knows of the challenge of working with a youngster that is determined to be uncooperative and resistant. Here’s a strategy that can get things started; it come from Dr. James Sutton‘s book, 60 Ways to Reach a Difficult and Defiant Child. We present, “10-Minute Solution: Counseling Difficult Youngsters.”
………………..

Let’s face it. If you happen to be working with an oppositional and defiant youngster, it’s highly likely the child will show up at your door with a bit of “encouragement” from some authority figure that has maxed out on this kid’s behavior. They are not exactly candidates for self-referral.

10-Minute Solution: Counseling Difficult Youngsters (Dr. James Sutton)Most of these youngsters are expecting just about anything except a positive experience from you. The bright ones have already planned their next three or four moves based on how they assume things are going to go. Here’s an idea that shakes up what they expect while it stack more control on your side. In the process, it also supports a stronger counseling relationship (what clinicians call a “therapeutic alliance”). I call this little intervention the “10-Minute Solution.”

10-Minute Solution

The “10-Minute Solution” recognized that short visits, especially initial ones, can be more productive than longer ones. Ten minutes skillfully used by the counselor can cover a lot of ground and build a bond with a child or teen. I’ve used it many times.

How It Works

Here’s how it works. When a youngster shows up for the session, the counselor (clinican, therapist, etc) says something like this:

You know, I’m VERY sorry. I have a meeting I must to go to in ten minutes, so this visit will need to be a short one. I only have ten minutes to spend with you today. Is that alright?

clock(This example mentions a meeting to go to, but it can be anything that presses on your time. Obviously, a little planning here can make this an authentic statement.)

Is it alright? OF COURSE it’s alright. This kid didn’t really want to be there in the FIRST place. He’s already anticipated a ton of questions he didn’t want to answer. Shorter to him definitely is better. Heck, I’d even seat him where he can watch the clock click down those ten minutes.

Why It Works

It’s always amazed me how much a youngster will say and share when he knows there’s already an up-front limit to it. In other words, he’s thinking: “However tough this gets, I only have to tolerate ten minutes of it.”

It’s been my experience that a youngster will share a lot in a short period of time using this approach, and he generally will be more direct and honest in those responses. As always, my aim with this approach is to collect material that can be addressed in subsequent session.

The best interventions are always high in “next time” value. ###

 

SixtyWaysCounselDr. James Sutton is a semi-retired child and adolescent psychologist and the founder and host of The Changing Behavior Network. For more information about 60 Ways to Reach a Difficult and Defiant Child, the source of this intervention, CLICK HERE.

 

August 19, 2016 Posted by | adversity, Counselors, Difficult Child, Educators, family, Resilience, Stress | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Kids STAY Angry (Dr. James Sutton)

BTSpReportHere’s a video Dr. Sutton originally posted on his YouTube channel in 2009; it has drawn a lot of traffic and interest. It’s on a topic that continues to frustrate and confuse a good many folks as they attempt to work with a child that’s angry … and chooses to stay that way.

…………

Jim415smAnger in children and adolescents is one of the toughest behavioral issues to manage and “fix.” In part, this is because the expression of anger tends to “feed” the next angry outburst.

In other words, angry behavior is self-reinforcing as it creates “benefits” for a youngster. For instance, the child or teen who’s uncomfortable with peers being close to them might engage in behaviors designed to push others back to a more “comfortable” distance. If closeness bothers a youngster enough, any behavior that is obnoxious enough to produce the distance probably will be repeated. It’s tough on one’s social life, but it provides immediate relief.

(Although we’re talking about kids here, there are plenty of adults who do the very same thing, aren’t there?)

Consequence for poor behavior won’t do much to slow down a youngster who acts out to achieve relief. After a behavioral episode, this youngster easily can tell you all about the consequences to follow. For that reason, piling on more consequences isn’t always the answer.

I made this video in 2009 to better explain the characteristics, issues and behaviors of anger in young people, to share why I believe they are sometimes so resistant to change, and to offer insights into how we can better address the needs of the chronically angry child or adolescent.

The blog, ebook and newsletter mentioned at the end of the video have all been combined into this site, The Changing Behavior Network. The website is correct [link]. An updated telephone number is on the website.###

Dr. James Sutton is a nationally recognized psychologist that started out as a Special Education teacher. He is the founder and host of The Changing Behavior Network. His most current bookis Improving a Youngster’s Self-Esteem (revised).

 

August 5, 2016 Posted by | adversity, anger, Anxiety and Depression, Counselors, Difficult Child, Educators, family, Healthy living, Parents, Resilience, Stress | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Be Patient with Me …” (Dr. James Sutton)

Dr. James Sutton“Be Patient with Me …” Growing tomatoes in south Texas can be a challenge. You have to get most of your harvest in the spring, as the blistering sun will cut them down in July.

“This one’s finished,” I said to myself, as I prepared to yank a plant up by the roots and throw it into the compost pile.

It was then my fingers, not my eyes, discovered it: a perfectly formed, fist-sized tomato. Fastened near the bottom of the plant, it was green and growing, resting against the picket fence where it had been shielded from my view.

Be Patient with Me“Be patient with me; I can still contribute,” the plant seemed to be saying to me. I left it.

In that moment I was struck with the notion that people sometimes are like that heat-battered tomato plant. It could be the student who is painfully shy in the classroom. It could be the hard-working immigrant who struggles to learn a strange, new language. Or it could be the kind soul who must live out her days in a nursing home. Circumstances differ, yet the message remains the same:

Be patient with me;
I can STILL contribute.

Only the Master Gardener has all the answers.

“… For man looketh on the outward appearance,
but the Lord looketh on the heart.”
I Samuel 16:7b (KJV)

 

The Changing Behavior Book, Dr. James SuttonDr. James D. Sutton is a (mostly) retired child and adolescent psychologist. His most recent book is The Changing Behavior Book, and he is the founder and host of The Changing Behavior Network. [website]

 

 

June 10, 2016 Posted by | adversity, Compassion, courage, Educators, family, Healthy living, Human Interest, Inspirational, Parents, Resilience | , , , , | 1 Comment

Ten Ways to Boost Creativity (Mike Ferry)

Mike Ferry, Teaching Happiness and Innovation, Ten Ways to Boost CreativityCreativity is a path to happiness. The more time we spend being creative, the happier we’re likely to become. In addition, creativity is an essential aspect of innovation, which will propel us to a brighter future. As kids many of us are naturally creative. Unfortunately, our creativity tends to be eliminated as we enter school. So, here are ten ways to boost creativity.

The really good news is that we can reclaim our creativity. In addition, we can help our kids preserve and develop their creative capacity.

Teaching Happiness and Innovation, Mike FerryHere are ten (hopefully fun) activities designed to engage your skills of creativity. Using each group of words, compose a short story, skit, poem, song, movie, dance, etc. Let your mind roam free. If this becomes hilarious and a bit chaotic, so be it! Maybe you could try this exercise the next time you need an icebreaker in the office, the classroom, or anywhere else. Plus, you might learn a thing or two by looking up the meanings of any people, places, or things you don’t know about. The more we learn, the more creative we can be!

 

Submarine
Giraffe
Tampa
Violin
Superman

 

James Bond
Walla Walla, Washington
Skunk
Hula hoop
Nutella

 

Onion rings
Portland
Candles
Chinchilla
Millard Fillmore

 

Tuba
Vatican City
Thin Mints
Al Capone
Poker

 

Golf cart
Beard
Mars
Guinea pig
Ronald Reagan

 

Oak tree
Porsche
Suitcase
Lebron James
Aardvark

 

Pufferfish
Sphinx
Popcorn
Babe Ruth
Glockenspiel

 

Walrus
U2
Sled
Kabbadi
Napoleon

 

Molars
Ottawa
Silk Road
Flip flop
Olaf

 

Louis Armstrong
Iguana
Starbucks
Columbus Zoo
Hello Kitty pencil

This is a recent blog post of mine that has been getting some attention on Twitter. I’ve tried a few of these with my students, and the process has been lots of fun. ###

Mike Ferry is the author of Teaching Happiness and Innovation. A middle school history teacher in Richmond, VA, Mike is raising four (mostly happy) children with his wife, Jenny. For more information about teaching happiness to children, visit www.happinessandinnovation.com. Twitter @MikeFerry7

 

May 12, 2016 Posted by | Educators, family, Healthy living, Human Interest, Humor, Parents, Resilience, Self-esteem | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Parents Can Instill a Thirst for Learning (Michael Byron Smith)

Michael Byron Smith, The Power of Dadhood, Helping Fathers to be DadsHave you ever witnessed the look in a child’s eyes when the light bulb comes on? Adrenaline rushes in the moment he or she understands something which once puzzled, frustrated, or mystified them, accompanied by a great boost to their confidence. These moments are so important because success always begets more success. However, a child will have few opportunities to feel that rush or become more confident if not properly challenged intellectually. Let’s look at how parents can instill a thirst for learning.

photo by Michael Byron SmithBy challenged, I mean being introduced to new things which have to be studied to be understood. To a toddler it could be putting shapes in similarly shaped openings. As they mature, it could be building their own shapes, or houses, or cars with Legos and Lincoln Logs. Learning, like infinity, never ends. Experiencing it, like infinity, you may need a rocket ship. Parents can be rocket ships for their children for there will always be new discoveries to be found, studied, and conquered.

The stars of our galaxy are a wonderful way to stir the imagination. It could be explained that the North Star, the Big Dipper or other constellations helped early travelers find their way. Chemistry sets and microscopes are great tools to learn science, such as how to make slime or crystals, or how to see microscopic objects invisible to the naked eye. Each step of learning advances a child to a higher level of knowledge and a stronger desire to learn more. And don’t forget to take your kids to the local zoo or science center! Better yet, teach them about animals before you go. They will be fascinated.

I remember how astonished I was when I learned I could measure the exact height of a tree without climbing to the top and dropping a tape measure from the top branch to the ground. It was simple trigonometry. By finding a point away from the tree where the top of the tree was at a 45-degree angle from the ground, I knew the height of the tree was the same as the distance to the tree. I then wanted to learn more ways trigonometry worked to solve more mysteries.

Photo by Michael Byron SmithI haven’t even mentioned to greatest tool to a child’s imagination, that being reading! Reading to toddlers, or even babies fascinates them. They see the writing and the pictures and know they are related. Even the comfort of being on your lap and having your attention relates reading to being safe and loved. What better way to introduce a child to learning. As they get older, children want to be able to translate a written string of letters to understandable thoughts and descriptions, just like mom and dad can do.

Late Starts in Learning Can Be a Terrible Burden
But what about the child who is never read to, not to mention never having a learning tool like a chemistry set with simple experiments any parent can teach. They are left unaided to stimulate their imaginations which become a distinct disadvantage compared to their peers, those who have had loving attention and mentoring. Even though some children are born with more active imaginations than others, every child will be helped by outside stimulation. And although their schools are a key place to stimulate the imaginations of kids, the real joy of learning is discovered in the years prior to formal learning. Not surprisingly, it is the parents who are the key parties in challenging their children during these early years.

Very important in raising more than one child is to understand their different paces in learning and varied interests. Some kids will be more challenging than others, but they must not be compared. You want to challenge the fast learner and the slow learner at different rates but with similar degrees of challenge, i.e. where they will succeed, but not too easily. When over challenged, kids will get frustrated and want to quit. If under challenged, kids will be bored and disinterested in moving forward.

photo by Michael Byron Smith, parents are key teachersIf you are lucky, your child will find a passion. A child with a passion is like putting them in cruise control towards their love of further discovery. They will be driven by their interest and not by your prodding. With a passion comes a desire to learn more and more. A passionate child will more often live in the moment and not brood about the past or future.

The Dry Sponge Theory
Lastly, remember this when your child complains about not quite understanding a subject in school. Have him take the next higher level course and while he may struggle again, he will look back at the last level with more understanding. For instance, let’s say your child struggles with multiplication. If they graduate and then learn algebra, it follows that when she looks back to multiplication, multiplication won’t seem as difficult any longer.

I call this the ‘Dry Sponge Theory.’ (I discuss it in more detail in my book, The Power of Dadhood: Become the Father Your Child Needs.) A dry sponge absorbs quite a bit of moisture. However, when a sponge is totally wet, it won’t absorb anything more. A larger sponge will have room for more absorption. Taking algebra makes your learning sponge for multiplication bigger, allowing a capacity for more understanding. It follows that no one is an expert at the level they are studying. They become experts at a level two or three steps lower than where they are currently studying. For instance, sixth graders would be considered experts in fourth-grade subjects…and so forth.

Michael Byron Smith, The Dry Sponge Theory

Your kids may not be convinced of the ‘Dry Sponge Theory’, but hopefully you will be convinced to push them forward. The ‘Dry Sponge Theory’ works similarly for topics that may bore your child like Art Appreciation or History. They may not become historians, but their learning sponge will have increased in size and, therefore, in capacity. Other topics will fall more easily into place. I am convinced of this.

Summary
Parents are key teachers in the most important early learning years–when the sponge of a child’s brain is insatiably thirsty. Introduce interesting things to them. Challenge them. Make learning fun and look for a passion that may pull them forward. And finally, if they aren’t passionate about learning, keep pushing them. Knowledge and the thirst for learning are so important for their futures! ###

The Power of Dadhood, Michael Byron SmithArticle and photographs by Michael Byron Smith, author of The Power of Dadhood [website]
Helping Fathers to be Dads blog

 

May 4, 2016 Posted by | Educators, family, Healthy living, Inspirational, Parents, Self-esteem | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Instilling Positivity in Children and Teens (Peggy Caruso)

Peggy Caruso, instilling positivity in children and teensUnderstanding the subconscious mind will help us to focus on the importance of instilling positivity in children and teens. Your conscious mind is your reasoning mind; therefore, once you accept something to be true at the conscious level, it then goes into the subconscious mind and that is what produces your results. Your subconscious mind produces your actions. So, if you want to change the results you are getting then you must begin to alter your thought process.

Understanding Developmental Periods

You can alter behavioral patterns in children as well as adults. In doing so you must understand the developmental periods of a child’s life.

From birth to seven is the imprint period; in which everything is absorbed from the environment. Parents and relatives have the most impact on the child during this particular time.

From seven to fourteen is the modeling period and this is a very crucial stage. They break away from the parent and model the behavior of other children, movie stars, singers, etc. Many parents will ask me how it is possible to raise two children the same way and have them turn out so differently. That’s because they go in different directions and are influenced by others.

From fourteen to twenty-one is the socialization period. This is where they become individualized. So it doesn’t matter what influences they have encountered because you can always alter behavior. Understanding these periods helps us identify where the obstacles surfaced.

Altering Behavioral Patterns

One way to alter behavioral patterns is to implement techniques of Neurolinguistic Programming. It involves the systematic study of human performance. It is a multi-dimensional process that involves strategic thinking and an understanding of the mental and cognitive processes behind behavior. NLP is:

Neuro: Derived through and from our senses and central nervous system
Linguistic: Our mental processes are given meaning, coded, organized, and then transformed through language
Programming: How people interact as a system in which experience and communication are composed of sequences of patterns

Peggy Caruso, Revolutionize Your Child's Life, Neurolinguistic Programming, positive affirmations, implement success principles, Attitude of GratitudePositivity and Gratitude

Your subconscious mind doesn’t reason; therefore, you must be very careful as to what you plant. We are made up of energy, so it’s important to get our children in a positive energy flow so they are able to attract positivity.

There are many ways to get that energy flowing in the morning. I talk frequently about the importance of gratitude. Most people tend to focus on the negatives of life. Positive and negative can’t occupy the mind at the same time, and, since negative is the dominant emotion, one must work very hard to replace it with positive.

Another key tool is to teach them the importance of positive affirmations. Get them in the habit of saying positive statements such as…”I can…” or “I will…” Repetition is key, so, as they get in the habit of saying them, the greater positive influence they will have.

Get your children excited about their goals and have them create a vision board. It’s another powerful exercise of the mind that will keep them in a focused and positive environment.

Implementing Success Principles

Finally, implement success principles within your child. I’ve written many articles about the importance of this. It is a redirection of negativity and instilling entrepreneurial skills in children aids in them becoming successful adults. Teaching them the 4 C’s will make a difference when they become adults. They are:

Communication: Sharing thoughts, ideas and solutions
Collaboration: Working together to reach a goal
Critical Thinking: Looking at problems in a new way
Creativity: Trying a new approach

So develop an Attitude of Gratitude and get that positivity flowing! ###

 

Peggy Caruso can be reached at pcaruso@lifecoaching.comcastbiz.net for more information. www.lifecoachingandbeyond.com

 

April 14, 2016 Posted by | Affirmation and Recognition, Counselors, Educators, Healthy living, Human Interest, Humor, Inspirational, Parents, Resilience, Self-esteem | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Respond to Your Child’s “Getting On With Growing Up” Responses (Greg Warburton)

The following article is excerpted from Greg Warburton’s book, Ask More, Tell Less: A Practical Guide for Helping Children Achieve Self-Reliance.

……………………………………………

Greg Warburton, Ask More, Tell Less

I can live for two months on a good compliment. —Mark Twain

…………

Responding to the child’s response is a dynamic, interactive process between parent and child. Begin your continuous praise practice now. Children behave in myriad ways; sometimes what they do is troubling, and at other times it is positive, exciting, and transformative.

Getting Out of The Compliment Desert
Unfortunately, our busy, attention-fractured world can lead us into a compliment desert because we often take our children’s positive behaviors for granted. Or parents may believe that their children just know how to do certain things and behave in certain ways and no longer require any recognition for their positive ways of being. Vigilantly practicing responding (verbally and nonverbally) to your child’s getting-on-with-growing-up behavior response, and no longer taking good behavior for granted, can quickly put your family on a positively different pathway and provides an esteem-boosting oasis. Begin right now to consider how you too can move your family onto this pathway as you review the story below.

Greg Warburton, Ask More, Tell LessThe Meeting
I had been asked to meet a family with four children, ages five, seven, nine, and 11 who had been removed from an abusive home while living with their father and stepmother. They were now living with their mother, she seemed frantic and overwhelmed. She started our meeting by telling me that the children were not behaving for her and she didn’t know what to do to “bring them back into control.”

Picture me sitting in a room with all four children and their mother to talk about troubling behavior and adjusting to their new home, when all the children really wanted to do was play. How do I begin to engage them, to cause them to become attentive, curious, and active participants and, most importantly, begin to change the direction of their lives?

I started by noticing all of the growing-up things I saw them do or heard them say from the moment we began our meeting, and told each of them about what I was seeing. The instant anything positive happened, I responded with verbal praise.

Early in the meeting, I heard seven-year-old Abby say, “I have an attitude.” I immediately asked, “Did you notice the growing-up thing you just did?”

She shook her head to indicate that she didn’t know what I was referring to, but she seemed curious and engaged by my language and my excitement.

Me: Well then, I’m sure glad I saw it so I can tell you about it. Are you ready to hear what it was?

Abby: (Nods her head to mean “yes.”)

Me: I just caught you telling yourself and your family the truth about how you act sometimes.

To help her identify how this behavior connects to successful growing up, I continued:

Me: Does telling the truth help kids grow up or grow down?

Abby: Grow up.

Once I had acknowledged and reinforced her positive behavior with verbal praise, I moved on to externalizing the problem (from Chapter 13):

Me: How big does this attitude seem to be?

When she didn’t answer right away, I suggested candidate sizes:

Me: Does it seem bigger than you, as big as the room, as big as the world?

Abby (seeming amused): As big as the world.

Me: How much do you want to shrink the attitude?

Abby (clapping her hands together with excitement): All the way to ZERO!

As you analyze all that happened in the moment of interacting with one of the children, imagine the path we would have traveled had I responded to Abby’s statement by asking, “WHY are you having an attitude?”

My experience teaches me that Abby would typically have responded, “I don’t know, and I don’t care!” This predictable response usually leads the adult to telling the child what will happen if she doesn’t change her attitude and/or believing the child is being resistant: “Well, you know what will happen if you keep showing this bad attitude. You will stay in trouble and you won’t get any privileges, and you won’t have any friends” (and so forth). Instead, Abby was now engaged and curious. She was listening, thinking, and deciding about what she was going to do to fix the attitude trouble.

Build Awareness

One thing parents always have complete control over is which behavior they pay attention to. As you build your awareness, you will notice that there is always some good and appropriate behavior occurring, no matter what troubling and inappropriate behavior may be going on at the moment. But in our always-too-busy modern world, it is easy to take compliant, cooperative behavior for granted and confine the big energy and attention to behavior trouble. The problem with this approach is that any behavior that gets a parent’s main mental and emotional focus will tend to be repeated.

Remember, you do get to choose what behavior you will respond to day in and day out throughout your child’s adventures in growing up. In my 30 years counseling with kids, teens and parents, I have vigilantly chosen to see the socially successful behavior(s) and “catch them and praise them for getting-on-with-growing up.” ###

Greg Warburton is an experienced mental health professional who believes that children and parents grow as they become more self-reliant. For more information about his work and this book, go to his website [link].

 

March 31, 2016 Posted by | Affirmation and Recognition, Counselors, Difficult Child, Educators, family, Parents, Resilience | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Video Games: The New Plague (Dr. Larry Waldman)

Larry Waldman, video games, addictive video gamesVideo games are like crack cocaine to today’s youth. Many children, especially boys between the ages of 11 and 16, spend untold hours involved with these electronic games, often from the time they come home from school until they finally go to bed. Far too many kids spend essentially entire weekends (and most of their holiday and summer breaks) playing these “games.” I regularly hear reports from parents that their children engage in “gaming” to the neglect of homework, reading, eating with the family, or going out with the family. No-shows to college classes are at an all-time high due to students missing class to play video games.

Addictive

To say that video gaming is addictive is not an exaggeration. These addictive games are brightly colored, quite visually and orally stimulating, very life-like, and, most importantly, are self-regulated. Kids whom are unable to sit and concentrate for 15 minutes in school will spend an entire afternoon alone in their room intensely focused on a video game.

Promotes Lethargy and Obesity

Children of previous generations watched too much TV—this writer included. Nevertheless, those TV-watching kids managed to occasionally pull themselves from the “boob tube” to get out and interact and socialize with peers. Today’s “gamers” are socially isolated. “Virtual friends”–other kids who play along remotely–are considered “best friends” by many “gamers” today, though they have never met in person. Because of video games, today’s kids do not have the same opportunities to learn social skills as did children of previous generations.

Data on the epidemic of obesity in US adults (60%) suggests that the early bad habit of excessive TV-watching may be part of the reason many adults today fail to exercise. If the majority of the previous generation of TV-watching kids are now obese as adults, even though they got some exercise as children, what can we expect from the current generation of kids whom are not active even as children?! In 15-20 years we are going to see some of the largest “tushes” known to man—but their thumbs will be long and lean. (Some newer games encourage activity, interestingly, but their use is in the minority.)

Promotes Violence

Finally, and most significantly, we must consider the medium of these games to which are kids are addicted. The overwhelming majority of these video games involve violence—graphic violence, replete with screams, life-like blood, and gore.

In the 1970’s and ‘80’s many research studies were conducted which documented the negative psychological effect excessive TV-watching—and its associate violence–had on kids. Today’s “gamer” views more violence in an afternoon than I did throughout my entire childhood of watching TV.

WRWI firmly believe it is no coincidence that many of the young men who were responsible for some of the recent shootings we all have heard about were reported to be active “gamers.” I am not about to argue that video games caused these tragedies, but I have to wonder if electronically killing thousands of “aliens,” monsters, or “bad guys” over hundreds of hours of video gaming, could distort a young person’s reality or desensitize them to the value of life?

Pilots learn to fly via simulation. Maybe we should start calling this process video “training”—not gaming. I am waiting for the first defense attorney to use the “Gamer’s Syndrome” as a means to defend their client.

The Result

Every older generation thinks the younger generation is “going to hell in a hand-basket.” I remember when I got into the Beatles and my mother thought I had “lost my religion.” Having worked with hundreds of children over the past 40 years, I have become truly worried about the impact video games are having on our youth. I am fearful that soon we will have a generation of under-socialized, impulsive, impatient, entitled, apathetic, aggressive, obese young adults. To this health professional, video games are the newest plague.

What to Do

Parents, please toss out the X-Box or, at least, limit its use. Take a walk or hike with your child. Take a bike ride. Do something fun, active, and interactive; go to the gym together. It will be good for you and your child.###

Larry F. Waldman, Ph.D., ABPP is a licensed psychologist who has practiced in the Paradise Valley area of Phoenix for 38 years. He has worked with children, adolescents, parents, adults, and couples. He also provides forensic consultations. He speaks professionally to laypersons, educators, corporations, and fellow mental health professionals. He teaches graduate courses for Northern Arizona University. He is the author of five books (currently) involving parenting, marriage, personal wellness, and private practice. His contact information is: 602-418-8161; LarryWaldmanPhD@cox.net; TopPhoenixPsychologist.com.

 

March 17, 2016 Posted by | Counselors, Difficult Child, Educators, family, Healthy living, Parents | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seven Ways of Teaching Happiness to Your Kids (Mike Ferry)

Happiness is the “Holy Grail” of parenting. While all of us want our kids to be happy and successful in life, we may not know exactly how to achieve this goal. Fortunately, the “science of happiness” can show us the way to teaching happiness.

teaching happiness, science of happinessYears of research have revealed certain habits and beliefs that make us happier, more creative, and more effective in everything we do. Rather than waiting and hoping that emotional well-being will descend from the heavens, we can show our children how to forge happy lives.

Since learning about this branch of psychology, I have been on a mission to share this knowledge with parents. I wrote a book, Teaching Happiness and Innovation, to help parents identify the habits of happiness and teach them to their kids. We are all thirsting for guidance in this department, and I hope that my efforts make a difference.

teaching happiness, science of happinessI’d like to give you seven ways to point your children towards lives of joy and meaning. These ideas come from my free 21-day “Happy Family” challenge. As is the case in other areas of life, practice makes perfect if you want to form the habits of happiness!

1. Write down the names of three people, places, or things you are grateful for. If you want to learn more about the importance of gratitude, please sign up for my email list. As a thank-you gift, you can download the “Gratitude” chapter from my book for free.

2. Spend some time in quiet prayer or meditation. Nurturing our spirituality is an important aspect of happiness.

3. We feel better when we are creative and thoughtful. Create and send a homemade card to Grandma, Grandpa, or another special person in your family’s life.

4. Challenge yourself to learn something new. Do you know the countries of Europe? If not, start learning them here.

5. Combine these five words to form a short story. If your story is hilarious and unrealistic, that’s just fine.

Miami
Santa
Banana
Anteater
Wagon

6. Think about a time when someone was kind to you. Give yourself a quiet space to reflect on this happy memory.

7. Bake cookies for a neighbor. When you deliver them, talk about the fun you’ve been having with the “Happy Family” challenge! Maybe your neighbor will enjoy the experience as well.###

Mike Ferry is the author of Teaching Happiness and Innovation. A middle school history teacher in Richmond, VA, Mike is raising four (mostly happy) children with his wife, Jenny. For more information about teaching happiness to children, visit www.happinessandinnovation.com. Twitter @MikeFerry7

February 25, 2016 Posted by | Counselors, Educators, family, Healthy living, Inspirational, Parents, Resilience | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Helping Kids Battle for Mental Health (Guest: Mike Bushman)

LISTEN to an excellent interview with Mike Bushman on The Changing  Behavior Network [link].

 

There is so much I know today that I wish I understood as a 15-year-old sitting on railroad tracks in my hometown, borrowed weapon in hand, trying to generate what I thought was courage to end my pain. Fortunately, I decided that night to give it one more chance. Thirty-five years later, my two college-age children, wife of 26 years, successful career and new writing endeavor remind me how fortunate I am to still be here.

I can’t share what I know today with my younger self, so I share what I’ve learned with others at that early, sometimes painful, stage of life. I also think it’s critical to help parents understand important roles they can play in helping children through the roughest of months and years. The following three actions stand out as particularly critical to my recovery.

Help Your Child Recognize What Makes Them Special

An important point in my healing came from a youth group exercise (attended at my mother’s intense insistence) in which we went around the room and shared something we liked about each person. I was stunned and moved that others saw good in me that I couldn’t see in myself. Ask your children to tell you what they believe are their greatest abilities. If they can’t see any value in themselves, you have reason to be concerned. Recognize their strengths and validate their importance to the world, even if these strengths are very different from yours.

Find Out What Your Child Needs and Change YOUR Routines to Help

Coping mechanisms to fight mental health challenges often involve behavioral change. Healthier diets provide the nutrients many of us need for proper brain function. If that’s the case for your child, adjust your family diet as well as the food kept in the house. Exposure to outdoor elements is nourishing for many individuals. If exercise and outdoor activity lift your child’s mood, build it into your family’s routine. Sleep deprevation and addictions easily can deter mental health improvement. Remove access to substances and distractions from sleep.

Be Available for Kids Who Aren’t Your Own

I found it easier to open up to other adults than to discuss some issues with my parents. Discussions with other adults were lifesavers. Kind words can make an incredible difference to a troubled teen. Just after the night where I took that weapon to the tracks, someone I only knew casually praised work I had done. It was said with enough sincerity that I actually believed the compliment. Do that for your children, of course, but do it for others as well. Besides, you never know when others you influence will be important sources of support to your family.

There are many great resources, including throughout The Changing Behavior Network, to assist parents in aiding children facing mental health challenges. You should also encourage local schools to create forums for mental health discussions aimed at reaching students who need hope that their pain isn’t permanent, knowledge that coping strategies can help, and proof that a happy life is possible.

Read, listen and engage as as aggressively as you would act if you had a child battling cancer. It can be a matter of death, or successful life. ###

 

 

Following a successful career in the political and corporate environments, Mike Bushman retired to return his first passion: writing. He has written two successful novels followed by a recent novella, Suicide Escape. Every page in this captivating story carries a message deeply felt and shared by Mike. [website]

 
  image          
Future-focused Solutions: Looking Past Today’s DivideMike Bushman offers fresh solutions to lingering challenges
 
View on www.mbushman.com Preview by Yahoo
 
 

James D. Sutton, EdD, CSP


Consulting Psychologist/Certified Speaking Professional
PO Box 672, Pleasanton, TX 78064
(830) 569-3586 Email

August 30, 2014 Posted by | adversity, Affirmation and Recognition, Anxiety and Depression, Counselors, Educators, family, Healthy living, Resilience | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

To a Vietnam Vet: “Thank You for Your Service”

I was having surgery at the VA hospital. The prep nurse spoke to me reassuringly as she got me ready. As she wrapped up her tasks and prepared to roll me into surgical holding, the nurse paused and gently placed her hand on my chest.

“Thank you for your service.”

I smiled, swallowed and tried to acknowledge her kindness, but nothing came out. She seemed to understand, as we continued our way over to holding.

Sharp Contrast

As a Vietnam vet, I am always touched whenever my service is recognized; I always will be. It stands in such sharp contrast to the reception many Vietnam veterans experienced when they returned home in the 60s and 70s. They were called murderers and baby killers. They were screamed at and spat upon.

I knew of a marine who had barely survived an explosion. He was in desperate shape. It took many months and surgeries, including, as I remember, the amputation of at least one limb, to put him back on his feet.

A few years later, he caught a cab in a large city. His injuries being quite obvious, the cabbie asked him about them. When he shared that he had triggered a mine while on a combat patrol in Vietnam, the cabbie became livid and threw him out at the next corner, luggage and all.

“Put it in the Closet”

Nothing about my own story is that graphic, but, when I was being discharged in California, I was instructed to waste no time in getting home. I was strongly encouraged to remove my uniform, put it in the closet, and leave it there. “No need to borrow trouble,” they told me.

I was proud of that uniform and what it meant to me. To walk away from it broke my heart.

Times HAVE Changed

Times, of course, have changed. Vietnam veterans are being honored, and rightly so. As more and more of them suffer a plethora of diseases and conditions brought on by the long-term effects of Agent Orange, they are receiving support.

So, when the prep nurse said, “Thank you for your service,” it felt good. It felt VERY good. And, although I would no longer fit into the uniform I came home in 40+ years ago, it’s still there in the closet.

I would be ever so proud to wear it again. ###

James D. Sutton, EdD, CSP
Consulting Psychologist/Certified Speaking Professional
PO Box 672, Pleasanton, TX 78064 Email

August 24, 2013 Posted by | Counselors, Educators, family, Healthy living, Inspirational, patriotism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Can a Child ENJOY Being in Trouble Constantly

“CAN A CHILD ‘ENJOY’ BEING IN TROUBLE CONSTANTLY?”

Sometimes I believe my son actually ENJOYS all the negativity his oppositional and defiant behavior brings upon him. Could that possibly be the case? Can a child really “enjoy” being in trouble constantly? If so, what can I do about it?

The short answer is, “Absolutely!” Like so many facets of behavior, however, there are deeper issues that play into what’s going on.

One huge issue is the power and control a youngster like your son experiences when he can control the emotions and behavior of an adult. Early on in my practice, I had a young patient who had his father by the throat (figuratively speaking, of course). He could make a lot of stuff happen by squeezing on that hold. Unfortunately, Dad played right into the son’s game. All the boy had to do was forget a chore, for instance, and Dad would go into a tirade.

Just imagine this picture. All the boy had to do was neglect taking out the trash and he got a first-rate floor show, and he knew he made it happen, and could make it happen any time he wanted. Although the boy didn’t like the hard edge of Dad’s wrath (consequences bordered on abuse), part of him delighted in the power and control he had over the old man.

Your situation probably is not as severe as the example I just shared, but I strongly believe that an adult’s response to oppositional, defiant and noncompliant behavior has a great deal to do with those behaviors happening again and again. It’s not the sort of payoff you can reach out and touch, but it’s a powerful, intangible payoff that a youngster can grow to prefer. Why? Howard Glasser and Jennifer Easley say it well in their book, Transforming the Difficult Child:

“The energy, reactivity and animation that we radiate when we are pleased is relatively flat compared to our verbal and nonverbal responses to behaviors that cause us displeasure, frustration or anger.”

How Do We Change Things?

1. Refuse to become overly upset. If there is a consequence to be applied, apply it, then physically remove yourself from the situation, if you can. Youngsters don’t like consequences. If you hang around, they just might go through their entire script of unhappiness.

2. Work out all the consequences in advance, and write them down. Discuss with your child what would be reasonable consequences for forgotten tasks or inappropriate behaviors. When they are not in a defensive mood or “on-the-spot,” many youngsters will come up with excellent consequences as you consider what would be reasonable and fair for a given situation. (These are called “elicited” consequences. If the youngster helps you with the consequences, he’ll be less likely to say they are unfair when you later have to apply them.) Type all this up on the computer (better yet, let the youngster do it). Go over it again with them, and give them a copy of the signed document. Later, instead of telling them the consequence for a behavior, produce the list, and ask them to read it to you. There’s something about a child or teen stating a consequence in their own voice that takes a lot of the fight out of the situation.

3. Attend to your child when he’s NOT in trouble. Although this makes a lot of sense on the surface, we live in a busy, busy world. When our kids create trouble, we have to attend to it, but it’s easy to let relationships slide when there’s no emergency. Make a commitment just to be with the youngster for a few moments on a regular basis. A parent’s physical presence, especially in those few moments before their child goes to sleep, is a powerful and positive thing.

4. Consider ways to provide additional empowerment. For some kids, getting adults worked up into a full lather appeals to them because they feel that’s the only way they have any power at all. A simple way to increase empowerment is to offer more choices, where appropriate. In assigning chores, for instance, give them five tasks and explain they can give two of them back to you if they do three of them by a certain time.

5. Learn to live more calmly in an imperfect world. This one certainly applies to all of us. I have to work on it every day.

James D. Sutton, EdD, CSP
Consulting Psychologist/Certified Speaking Professional
PO Box 672, Pleasanton, TX 78064
Email

February 9, 2012 Posted by | Counselors, Difficult Child, Educators, family, Parents, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

What if it’s NOT ADHD? (An Interview with Frank Barnhill, MD)

I recently had the opportunity to interview Dr. Frank Barnhill, family practice physician and ADHD expert at his home in South Carolina. The information in this interview is so powerful that I decided to put a link to the intervied on the “It’s About Them” blog.

This telephone interview runs 29 minutes, and can be accessed through this link:
www.thechangingbehaviornetwork.com/2011/12/03.

There are over 60 medical, psychological, and environmental conditions and circumstances that can mimic the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

What does this mean? It means that almost 2.5 million young people are being misdiagnosed, mismedicated, and wrongly labeled as ADHD. The implications of this are far-reaching and harmful to our children.

In this fast-paced and fact-filled interview, ADHD expert and family practice physican, Dr. Frank Barnhill, describes the problems and concerns associated with a “quick fix,” a hasty diagnosis of ADHD and use of stimulant drugs without benefit of a thorough evaluation. He shares how a wrongful diagnosis in children and teens can lead to employment, legal, and emotional problems in adulthood. He then draws on his 27 years of family medicine to cover important questions parents should ask their doctor to be sure their children are being effectively evaluated and treated for ADHD (29:04).

Dr. Barnhill is the author of the aclaimed book, Mistaken for ADHD. The book, an ADHD blog, and his newsletter, “Living with ADHD,” are all available through his excellent and informative website, www.mistakenforadhd.com.

James D. Sutton, EdD, CSP
Consulting Psychologist/Certified Speaking Professional
PO Box 672, Pleasanton, TX 78064
Email

December 4, 2011 Posted by | ADHD, Counselors, Difficult Child, Educators, family, Parents, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gaining Compliance Through Balance

GAINING COMPLIANCE THROUGH BALANCE: Here’s an approach to gaining compliance that works well at home or school. In this case, we’ll focus specifically on applications within the classroom using a strategy I call “Balanced Expectations.” The following observations of defiant and noncompliant students are addressed:

Observation #1: A student cannot be compliant and noncompliant at the same time. One of the surest and quickest ways of defeating noncompliant behavior is to empower the student out of it. The easiest way to accomplish this is to offer some sort of choice, although it should be made clear that choice is given all the time.

Observation #2: Defiant and noncompliant students generally feel “What’s the use, anyway,” that they are so hopelessly behind, and that everything they’re being asked to do is absolutely urgent. If we can chip away at this view, we have a chance of gaining more compliance.

Both of these characteristics are addressed when expectations are grouped into three levels: High, Mid, and Low.

High-level Expectations

This level is unyielding; there is no tolerance for any defiance or noncompliance, at all. This is made clear to every student; no exceptions. Whatever the hassle or cost, a high-level expectation will be enforced.

Safety issues at school are a great example, starting with school fire drills. Defiant and noncompliant students know they can’t stay in the building during a fire drill. Result: They leave the building like everyone else.

For a high-level expectation to be effective, a youngster has to know resistance will not be tolerated. This level works best when it is pruned regularly to contain only those expectations that are critical and worth the effort it takes to enforce them. If the high-level category becomes overloaded, old problems will return.

Mid-level Expectations

This level is always task-specific; its purpose is to get work accomplished by empowering students with choice. One way to accomplish mid-level expectations is to offer the same work in several forms or options. For instance, ten math problems could be offered on each of three sheets. The work is the same type and level of learning on each of the three assignments, so it makes no difference to the teacher which one a student selects. The ability to pick from a “menu,” however, could make a big difference to the student, a difference that could pay off in terms of compliance.

Another excellent way to employ a mid-level expectation is to offer a discard:

Tommy, here are five things to do this week. You can pick three and give two of them back to me.

Consider how much better this little empowerment exercise works as compared to giving Tommy the three assignments to start with.

Low-level Expectations

An expectation at this level essentially is a “give back” to a student. It will probably shock the youngster a bit, but he’ll like it, and he should respond favorably.

Low-level expectations are never task-specific; rather they focus on the approach to a task. I was using a low-level expectation in giving this assignment to my middle school students years ago:

Class, it’s now time to work on your SRA kits (reading). You know where you left off last time. Now, you can work at your desk, or you can borrow a clipboard and sit on our new carpet as you work on your assignment. You can stretch out and get comfortable, if you like. Just don’t go to sleep.

Or, if you’d rather, you can sit in the Reading Tub and work, or you can use either one of the large tables in the back.

Notice here how there was no choice as to task; they were told to work on their SRA kits. They had six choices, however, of where they could go to do the activity. That was a menu as to approach to the task. (Parents: Are you getting any ideas here? This works great at home, also.)

Offering students the same assignment, but on different colors of paper, would be the empowerment of choice of approach to a task. For some students, this could make a big difference in overall task compliance.

One additional benefit to the effective use of low-level expectations is that they seem reasonable and enjoyable to the students. They really do position the teacher well. This can only help with other compliance tasks throughout the school year.

James D. Sutton, EdD, CSP

Consulting Psychologist/Certified Speaking Professional
PO Box 672, Pleasanton, TX 78064
Email

September 23, 2011 Posted by | Educators, family, Parents, Uncategorized | , , , | Leave a comment

Something for a Grieving Child

SOMETHING FOR A GRIEVING CHILD: Grieving children can present a multitude of behaviors as they attempt to process the loss of a loved one, even behaviors of defiance, noncompliance, and a lot of anger. Caretaking adults can help a grieving child a great deal with one simple gesture. This article tells how it can be accomplished.

A few years back I had the opportunity to work with a young man who came to live in a group home following the loss of his mother to cancer. (He had lived for a bit with his grandmother, but that arrangement did not work out.) I’ll call him Charles.

As I worked with Charles, I quickly developed a deep respect for this young man. On his own, he had cared for his mother at home. He quit going to school (middle school) in order to be with her. He even drove her car to the grocery store, post office, and the bank as he took care of the two of them. (He was never stopped or questioned by the police.)

As I worked with Charles at the group home, I asked a question I always ask. The discussion went like this:

Is there something I can do for you, Charles?

You could help me get a picture of my mother.

What do you mean?

When Mom died, my grandmother took down all of her pictures. She said it wasn’t good to dwell on the dead.

But you’d like to have a photograph of her to keep for yourself. Is that right. Charles?

Yeah, I would; I really would.

I noted this need to the social worker who communicated the request to the boy’s grandmother. It took several months, but the picture finally arrived in the mail. It was an obituary card with the mother’s picture on the front, the card that had been passed out at her funeral.

You would have thought the boy had won the Publisher’s Sweepstakes. He carried that card with him everywhere and showed it to anyone who would give him a minute.

I believe he began to heal more readily. Charles eventually quit carrying the card and tacked it on the wall next to his bed. It meant a great deal to him.

Transitional Objects

Psychologists would call this obituary card with the mother’s picture a “transitional object.” In this case, it helped the boy more easily process the loss of his mother. He had a bit of his mother with him when he had the card in his pocket or notebook. On his own, he later tacked it next to his bed as he made the “transition,” the processing of the loss of his mother. He didn’t need to carry it, anymore.

A New Question

I now ask a new question whenever a youngster tells me of the death of a significant adult in their life (often a grandparent):

It sounds like they were a very important part of your life. Do you have a picture of them, or something that once belonged to them, a reminder to you of how special they were?

My experience has been they don’t ask for much at all; they simply want something. One girl wanted only a small, decorative plate that hung on the wall in her grandmother’s living room. A young man told me how he secretly “stole” a tube of lip balm from his grandmother’s medicine cabinet while his parents, aunts, and uncles busied themselves dividing up Grandma’s things. He was left out of that; he said as much.

A Word of Caution

On occasion, a transitional object can get a child in trouble. I worked with one teen whose father had died violently in a collision with another vehicle. Dad had been an avid bird hunter; he had shotguns, ammunition, and bird-hunting equipment all over the house.

The boy picked up three of his dad’s empty shotgun shells one morning and slipped them into his pocket. He showed them around at school and … you guessed it: He got into serious trouble.

“They had already been fired, Dr. Sutton,” he explained. “Empty ones weren’t going to hurt anyone. I just felt better having them with me.”

I suggested to him that if they had stayed in his pocket, no one would have known. Then I offered him an alternative that he readily accepted. We went out to the shop and cut off the lip of the shotgun shells with a hacksaw. Then we punched out the centers, making what looked like three, flat brass washers. He strung them on a chain and put it around his neck. He was happy, and the problem was solved.

How Long?

How long should we allow a child to hold onto a transitional object? Answer: Until they decide they no longer need it. The shotgun shell boy did something similar to Charles when he eventually quit carrying his mother’s picture with him. This boy realized one day at school that he “forgot” and left his shotgun shell necklace at home. More importantly, he made it through the day just fine without it, and knew he had done so. What better evidence of the progress of healing?

Adult, Too!

Are we talking only about children here? Hardly. I commented about transitional objects at a workshop once and two participants came up to me on the break. One gentleman reached into his pocket and pulled out a silver dollar so worn it was completely slick on both sides. He shared how his grandfather had given it to him more than 40 years ago. A woman showed me a sterling-silver pen from her purse. “It doesn’t even work anymore,” she said, “but my late husband once gave it to me as an anniversary present. It’s always with me; I couldn’t bear to lose it.”

Sometimes it can be a challenge to convince parents and caregivers how important a transitional object is to a grieving child. But they would be amazed at the difference it can make.

James D. Sutton, EdD, CSP

Consulting Psychologist/Certified Speaking Professional
PO Box 672, Pleasanton, TX 78064
(800) 659-6628 Email: suttonjd@Docspeak.com
Website: http://www.docspeak.com
Blog: https://itsaboutthem.wordpress.com

September 8, 2011 Posted by | Counselors, Educators, family, Healthy living, Parents, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What is a Psychological Assessment? Part One

WHAT IS A PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSESSMENT? (Part 1)

I’ve often wondered what makes up a comprehensive psychological assessment and how conclusions, diagnoses and recommendations are drawn from it.

There are a number of ways to conduct such an evaluation; none of them represent the right or wrong way to do it. When I was doing a lot of testing, I followed a format that worked well for me. It’s lengthy, so we’ll break it into two parts, one here and one in the next post.
PART ONE: Conducting a Comprehensive Psychological Assessment
A good and comprehensive psychological assessment can take a lot of guesswork out of treatment and interventions. It can also alert parents and teachers to issues that had been hidden. More than anything, however, a good evaluation provides a snapshot of a youngster as he sees himself and his circumstances. Because of the structure of the assessment (and the skill of the examiner) spontaneous, unique and valuable information often is obtained for the very first time.
What follows are what I see as essential components of a comprehensive psychological assessment.
Review of Available Records and Reports: This could include school records, medical reports, other assessments, and any additional information that could help us get a total picture of this youngster and his behavior.
Interviews with Parents and Teachers: This can be done in writing or in person. My concern here is not everything a child has said or done since birth, but rather what the parent(s) and teacher(s) select as their primary concerns. These can differ greatly from adult to adult. I am not a fan of checklists; the information from them is often unclear. I would prefer these adults take out a sheet of paper and tell me in their own words their concerns regarding this youngster. Consequently, they almost start with the most important impressions first, and work down from there. That is very helpful.
Perceptual-motor Assessment: I prefer to start with this one because, early on, it’s easier for a youngster to “do” something rather than “say” something. It’s a good rapport-builder. I’m usually not all that interested in the scores on instruments like the Bender Visual-motor Gestalt Test or the Goodenough-Harris Drawing Test. I am more interested in the subtle patterns of oppositional and defiant behavior that can surface on these instruments.
Assessment of Intellectual Functioning: IQ testing is critical. (If this information is already available, I don’t see a need in putting a child through it again.) Intellectual assessment not only establishes a youngster’s cognitive “horsepower,” but identifies strengths and needs, as well as learning styles. It also establishes a baseline for a youngster’s abilities to exercise insight, because strong insight connects well with the capacity to change. (This isn’t always an asset, as in the case of an extremely bright child who knows how to work adults.)
Assessment of Academic Functioning: Here’s where we attempt to settle the issue of academic potential versus actual performance. This could be called the diagnosis of will versus skill. This portion of the assessment can help determine if academic difficulties play into a youngster’s behavior.
Projective Assessment: This one drives bright, defiant youngsters crazy because they know they’re being evaluated, but they can’t discern “correct” answers, nor can they pick up on the direction or purpose of the instrument. (I still use the old tried and true Rorschach inkblots, plus sentence completion and thematic instruments.) Projective assessment is a great way to gain a ton of information about perception and behavior without the child even knowing it.
Diagnostic Interview: This one is the very heart of the assessment. A good interview not only collects valuable information in the child’s own words (extremely important), it lets the youngster consider issues he feels are important. This can make all the difference in terms of gaining the youngster’s cooperation and input regarding goals for treatment. Questions in the interview cut across all aspects of the child’s day-to-day life, and even include questions like: “If you could give your parents a message they would hear clearly from you, what would it be?” Through the years, I’ve received some very interesting answers to that question.
In Part Two: Interpreting a Comprehensive Psychological Assessment

James D. Sutton, EdD, CSP

Consulting Psychologist/Certified Speaking Professional
PO Box 672, Pleasanton, TX 78064
(800) 659-6628 Email: suttonjd@Docspeak.com
Website: http://www.docspeak.com
Blog: https://itsaboutthem.wordpress.com

May 17, 2011 Posted by | Counselors, Educators, family, Uncategorized | 15 Comments

Consistency in Assessment of ODD

 

CONSISTENCY IN ASSESSMENT OF ODD

  Here’s a thoughtful question from the November, 2010 issue of the ODD Management Digest. Have you ever wondered the same thing?

(NOTE: To receive monthly complimentary issues of the ODD Management Digest, CLICK HERE.)

I have seen kids I believed to be marginally defiant hauled off to a doctor for a battery of tests. It ended with a psychological report that was more scary than helpful. On the other hand, I’ve seen youngsters who were seriously defiant NEVER receive any assessment or evaluation at all. In your opinion, Dr. Sutton, why is this?  

 

 This happens all the time. Some youngsters receive an assessment based on the observations, priorities and financial resources of the parents. Frankly, they can take their child to any doctor they choose, and do it any time they choose. My observation over the years is that a parental request for a psychological assessment, especially when Mom and Dad are paying for it, will result in a diagnosis of some sort.

 As for behaviorally-needy youngsters not getting an assessment, there could be a number of reasons.

1. For whatever reason, parents are not communicating with the school on the matter. 

2. Multiple stresses within the home put survival as the priority that trumps everything else. 

3. The parents can’t afford an assessment or don’t have adequate health insurance to help on the bill. (And they might be embarrassed to mention it.) 

4. The school hasn’t adequately expressed the need and made a case for an assessment to the parents. 

5. The school has been implementing interventions (RTI or PBS) in an attempt to resolve behavior and compliance issues. (This is as it should be, with an understanding that, at some point, a school psychological assessment might be helpful.) 

6. School psychologists and other assessment folks are overloaded and must work with students based on highest priority needs. 

7. The line between learning issues and behavioral issues becomes so “fuzzy” that one is addressed at the expense of the other.

 

This list isn’t even close to being complete; we could spend a day adding to it. Solving the assessment issue involves regular communication between home and school, strong longitudinal documentation, and successful efforts to involve the youngster actively in the problem identification-solving process. (This last one takes time and trust, but it pays big dividends.)

James Sutton, Psychologist    www.docspeak.com

November 6, 2010 Posted by | Counselors, Difficult Child, Educators, family, Parents | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oppositional Defiant Disorder Digest (September, 2010)

ODD Management Digest

(September, 2010)

 

The September, 2010, issue of the resource for parents, teachers and counselors, the ODD Management Digest, has been published to the web. For a complimentary (free) subscription, CLICK HERE. (If you miss the September, 2010, issue, subscribe anyway. Any current Digest will direct you to past issues.)

Here’s what in the September, 2010, issue:

 

TIPS FOR PARENTS

Noncritical Noticing: Here’s an excellent approach for affirming a son or daughter without their fear that we are being critical or judgmental.

HANDLING CLASSROOM CHALLENGES

“I’ve Got Your Number:” A teacher in California shares an excellent strategy for a nonverbal and non-embarrassing method for redirecting a student back to a task.

THE COUNSELOR’S CORNER

The Apple Tells the Story:  A guidance counselor in South Carolina shares how a shiny apple can be used to teach youngsters the damage put-downs can do. This strategy is so visual and strong, it easily opens discussion on reasons and ways to be considerte to others.

YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED

Finding a Counselor or Therapist (Part Two): This is the second of two parts of an answer to a father’s questions about what makes a good counselor or therapist for his child, and where does one find them.

FREEBIES

(New Video) Finding a Counselor or Therapist for Your Child or Teen: Using the material from the August and September, 2010 issues of the Digest, Dr. Sutton put together this short video on the topic.

WHAT’S NEW?

New Anger Training Program: Dr. Sutton’s lastest training program, Practical Stategies for Managing the Angry, Aggressive and Impulsive Student, is now being scheduled for educational service centers, schools, and seminar companies. A schedule for the 2010-2011 school year is included.

LIFE’S MOMENTS

2%–The Winner’s Edge:  Winning in life and successfully achieving one’s dreams is often built around slight advantages in effort. Sometimes only 2% more brings a tremendous payoff, but the 2% has to be there. Don’t miss this piece.

For a complimentary subscription to the ODD Management Digest, CLICK HERE. The Digest will appear monthly in your email as long as you want, and you can cancel it at any time.

September 12, 2010 Posted by | Counselors, Difficult Child, Educators, family | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Apple Tells the Story

THE APPLE TELLS THE STORY: If a picture’s worth a thousand words, then an apple can be worth a whole book. Here’s a great visual lesson shared by Tamela Ward, guidance counselor at Anderson School District One in Piedmont, South Carolina. (I did a training workshop in Columbia one winter. It was 40 degrees below zero that day! Okay, it felt like 40 below!)

Here’s the deal. Deliberately bruise an apple the evening before the lesson. Be careful not to break the skin or damage the appearance.

“Show the group or class your pretty, shiny apple,” suggested Tamela. “Discuss with them what it means to be a good friend and to be considerate of the person and the feelings of others. Bang the apple against the desk as you make your point about put-downs and words that hurt others.

“After you’ve made your point, cut the apple open and show them how it is badly bruised on the inside. Discuss how, even though things may look fine on the outside, a lot of damage can be done on the inside.

“It’s a very powerful lesson for showing how words can really hurt a lot,” Tamela concluded.   

September 11, 2010 Posted by | Counselors, Difficult Child, Educators | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Behavior Modification Trap (free e-book)

The Behavior Modification Trap

A complimentary e-booklet for parents and educators

 

Have you ever offered a youngster a super deal of some kind if they would do a task, only to have them refuse? If it’s a youngster who is oppositional, defiant and difficult by nature, they seem to delight more in refusing than accepting … regardless of the offer.

 

What’s going on here? It doesn’t make sense, does it? This free publication, The Behavior Modification Trap, addresses … AND ANSWERS … an interesting question: Why do tangible rewards and incentives NOT work with some youngsters?

 

To download this complimentary e-book, CLICK HERE.

 

Dr. James Sutton, Psychologist        www.docspeak.com

August 27, 2010 Posted by | Counselors, Difficult Child, Educators, family, Parents | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oppositional Defiant Disorder Digest (August, 2010)

ODD Management Digest

(August, 2010)

 

The August, 2010, issue of the resource for parents, teachers and counselors, the ODD Management Digest, has been published to the web. For a complimentary (free) subscription, CLICK HERE. (If you miss the August, 2010, issue, subscribe anyway. Any current Digest will direct you to archived issues.)

Here’s what in the August, 2010, issue:

 

TIPS FOR PARENTS

Take a Moment: Three things are discussed for bringing back a more hopeful perspective regarding a difficult and defiant child.

HANDLING CLASSROOM CHALLENGES

“Before I Get Mad” Poster: A teacher in West Virginia shares a fun and effective way to teach students how to control emotional outbursts.

THE COUNSELOR’S CORNER

The List:  What do you do if a youngster comes to counseling or therapy with a list of items they want to cover during every session? Interesting.

YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED

Finding a Counselor or Therapist (Part One): This is the first of two parts of an answer to a father’s questions about what makes a good counselor or therapist for his child, and where does one find them.

FREEBIES

(E-Book) The Behavior Modification Trap: This 18-page e-book is actually the sixth chapter from Dr. Sutton’s latest work-in-progress, The Changing Behavior Book. In this e-book, Dr. Sutton addresses why tangible rewards and incentives often fail with some youngsters, and what can be done to defeat the “trap”.

WHAT’S NEW?

Digest Archives: Dr. Sutton discusses how back issues of the Digest are still being archived, and shows readers how to access them.

LIFE’S MOMENTS

How Long? This is Dr. Sutton’s tribute to the late Art Linkletter, who passed away this summer at age 97. Included is “My Best Introduction”, Linkletter’s contribution to the book for grandparents, Grand-Stories.

For a complimentary subscription to the ODD Management Digest, CLICK HERE. The Digest will appear monthly in your email as long as you want, and you can cancel it at any time.

August 11, 2010 Posted by | adversity, Counselors, Difficult Child, Educators, Links | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Oppositional Defiant Disorder Management Digest (July, 2010)

ODD Management Digest

(July, 2010)

 

The July, 2010, issue of the resource for parents, teachers and counselors, the ODD Management Digest, has been published to the web. For a complimentary (free) subscription, CLICK HERE. (If you miss the July, 2010, issue, subscribe anyway. Any current Digest will direct you to archived issues.)

Here’s what in the July, 2010, issue:

 

TIPS FOR PARENTS

Discipline Problems at School, Part Two: This is the second part of a two-part series on discipline issues at school. In this issue, a “collaborative” approach to intervention is discussed.

HANDLING CLASSROOM CHALLENGES

Celebration of Learning Day: A teacher in Kansas shares how her husband encourages achievement in his classroom by getting everyone involved.

THE COUNSELOR’S CORNER

Ask! We can learn a lot about a youngster by simply asking. Three suggestions for asking are discussed.

YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED

The Kid Who Wants to STAY Angry, Part Two: This is a second part of an answer to a parent’s concern. This part offers ideas for intervention into the four most typical reasons why children and teens elect to remain angry rather than resolve it.

FREEBIES

A Special Interview: The “freebie” for this issue is a strikingly candid and informative interview with the author of the bestselling book, The Defiant Child.

WHAT’S NEW?

Digest Archives: Dr. Sutton discusses how back issues of the Digest have been archived, and shows readers how to access them.

LIFE’S MOMENTS

How Long? This is Dr. Sutton’s tribute to the late John Wooden, the legendary coach of the UCLA Bruins. Included is a wonderful great-granddad story Coach Wooden sent to Dr. Sutton for inclusion in the book, Grand-Stories. Don’t miss this one!

For a complimentary subscription to the ODD Management Digest, CLICK HERE. The Digest will appear monthly in your email as long as you want, and you can cancel it at any time.

July 12, 2010 Posted by | Counselors, Difficult Child, Educators, family, Healthy living, Parents, Self-esteem, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment