It's About Them

Young People … Our Greatest Resource

Don’t Wait (Anonymous)

When I first read this, it caused me to stop a moment and realize that we are all responsible for our actions every day, all the time. What a great reminder for taking our own inventory before others do it for us. — JDS

“I’ll tell you a big secret, my friend.
Don’t wait for the last judgment.
It takes place every day.”

June 25, 2020 Posted by | Healthy living, Human Interest, Inspirational, Integrity, Self-esteem, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment


Here’s a piece I came across recently. It was written by author Melody Beattie. She wrote “Codependent No More” and other powerful books on issues of drug and alcohol addiction, their consequences, and how they affected more than the primary dependent. She has been a powerful and valued resource for many.


Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.

It turns what we have into enough, and more.

It turns denial into acceptance,

chaos to order, confusion to clarity.

It can turn a meal into a feast,

a house into a home,

a stranger into a friend. ###

December 5, 2019 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

GOOSE SENSE (Dr. James Sutton)

As tough as it might be to shed a reputation for being everything from silly to not-so-smart, the goose also stands as an example of some qualities that most folks would stand in line to acquire.

Even a long, slow line.

Take efficiency, for example. Wild geese fly in a “V” formation for a reason as they move to and from warmer climates. In that “V” arrangement, each bird creates an uplift for the one immediately following it. The result: The “V” formation adds at least 71% more flying range than if each bird took the trip on its own.

Yep, there’s quite a bit we can learn (and share) from a flock of flying geese. They make sense … Goose Sense.


When we work at making it easier for those who follow us, even difficult tasks get done more efficiently.

Whenever a bird drops away from the formation and encounters the effects of the increase in wind resistance, it is usually quick to return to its place in the group.


Encouragement always helps.

When geese fly in formation, they honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed and strength.


No one person should have to do the tough jobs all the time. It pays to take turns.

Wild geese understand that fatigue is part of life, and they handle it as such. Whenever the lead goose in formation gets tired, it drops to the back and lets another fly point.


Stand by your friends.

Whenever a goose in formation becomes sick or wounded and has to leave the group, two others will follow it down to offer help and protection. They will stay with their friend until it dies or until it is able to fly again. They will then set out to catch up with their group, or they will join up with another flock.###


February 9, 2019 Posted by | Communication, Human Interest, Inspirational, Resilience, Success Strategies, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

Children, Teens and Sleep (Guest: Dr. Robert Rosenberg)

BTRadioIntAs youngsters head back to school it’s critically important that they get sufficient sleep to maintain alertness and vitality. In this interview originally aired in November of 2015, sleep medicine specialist, Dr. Robert Rosenberg, offers insights in the sleep needs of children and teens, and how we can help them meet those needs effectively.


As important as a good night’s rest is to all of us, it would be easy to underestimate the value of sleep in our lives. According to the National Center for Disease Control, however, 50-70 million Americans with sleep disorders clearly indicate how difficulty with sleep can lead to serious problems with vitality, productivity and overall health.

RRosenbergphotoPut another way, we need sufficient restorative sleep in order to survive and succeed.

What about the sleep needs of children and teens? What affects their sleep and what are the signs and symptoms that a youngster is sleep-deficient and struggling? Are children and teens with sleep issues ever misdiagnosed or mismanaged as having another physical, behavioral or emotional condition? How do we effectively identify, treat and manage sleep concerns in children and teens? Our guest on this program, physician, nationally-recognized sleep expert and author, Dr. Robert Rosenberg, will offer straight-talk insights and answers to these sleep questions and more.

RRosenbergbookDr. Rosenberg is board-certified in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Diseases and Sleep Medicine. For the past two decades his practice has been limited exclusively to sleep medicine. Dr. Rosenberg is Medical Director of The Sleep Disorders Center of Prescott Valley in Arizona. His advice has appeared in columns and blogs of many popular magazines such as “O, The Oprah Magazine,” “Woman’s World,” “Prevention,” “Parenting” and “Ladies Home Journal,” among others. In addition his many appearances on television and radio, he hosts his own radio show, “Answers for Sleep” on In this program we’re featuring his very popular book, Sleep Soundly Every Night, Feel Fantastic Every Day: A Doctor’s Guide to Solving Your Sleep Problems. (27:50)

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



September 11, 2017 Posted by | Anxiety and Depression, Communication, Educators, family, Healthy living, Parents, Resilience, Sleep Issues, Stress, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Helping Your Kids Become Kidpreneurs (Peggy Caruso)

Youngsters can develop and display excellent entrepreneurial skills; we see it often in the news. Life coach and author, Peggy Caruso, shares some on-target tips for helping our children become game-changing kidpreneurs!


Helping Your Children Become Kidpreneurs, Peggy CarusoDiscovering the true talents and abilities within our children will prepare them for this unpredictable world by teaching them how to adapt to any situation. Instilling entrepreneurial ideas in children will help them become successful adults and it will create independence within them.

They need to learn how to manage their own strengths and weaknesses. Many children are afraid to fail because they feel they are letting the parents down. Failure is good – encourage it. It is just feedback letting you know how to modify your plan. It is stepping-stones to success. It can only be failure if you don’t get back up and try again. All of the successful people in history have had many failures before reaching success.

As children grow they need to learn how to deal with change. Changes in circumstances, cultures, and religions help our children to adapt in society. We can’t give our children a blueprint in life, but we can teach them coping skills. Your children’s skills and abilities will be their most valuable asset throughout their lives.

Skills are behaviors in which we increase our knowledge; abilities are natural talents. Understanding what skills and abilities they have and what they need to reach their dreams is an important component in your child’s career development.

From childhood, your child will develop skills that will be transferred as an adult. Emotional skills such as self esteem, sociability, integrity and empathy, integrated with the educational skills of reading, writing, mathematics, speaking, creativity and decision making will prepare them for adaptability within the corporate world. Many studies have supported the fact that the faster children develop skills, the better they do with testing.

Once you discover what their true talents and passions are it is easy to get them started on building a business. There are many businesses suitable for children. Educating children and teens about employment or entrepreneurship has astounding effects. It teaches them time management, assists them in learning how to follow directions, and provides team and leadership skills. Studies show discouraged teens often grow up to become discouraged adults. This affects their confidence level in the workforce.

In teaching children entrepreneurial skills, they need to learn effective ways to communicate. In today’s society technology has limited our children in verbal communication. One area to enhance communication is to teach masterminding. This is very effective and utilized by many adults; therefore it can be effectively implemented with children.

Revolutionize Your Child's Life, Peggy CarusoMasterminding involves placing a group of 5 or 6 like-minded children together to meet once bi-weekly for one hour. Meeting places can vary between houses. They begin by each taking one-minute to say their ‘win for the week’ and then they move on to challenges. Each child presents a challenge they are facing and the remainder of the group assists by providing feedback. Someone needs to be a time-keeper so the meeting does not exceed one hour and each child has their turn.

This assists the children with problem-solving and holding one another accountable. It reinforces communication and interpersonal relations. Masterminding enhances friendships and helps them balance the highs and lows. It assists with creativity and establishes motivation and persistence. It also teaches them how to set and reach goals which is imperative in promoting entrepreneurism within children.

Teaching them to be persistent requires that they will be definite in their decisions, and that requires courage. It is a state of mind; therefore, it can be cultivated, and with persistence comes success. When we talk of success, most people think of adults. But if you begin applying the success principles when your children are young and impressionable, you teach them how to realize failure is good.

Persistent action comes from persistent vision. When you define your goal and your vision remains exact, you will be more consistent and persistent in your actions. That consistent action will produce consistent results.

Remember to teach your children the difference between the person who fails and the one who succeeds is the perception they have. It is seizing an opportunity and acting upon it, unlike the person who allows fear to dominate his abilities.

In teaching your child how to become a ‘kid-preneur’ they learn:

• Talents, abilities and passions;
• Setting and reaching goals;
• Gratitude and developing solid friendships;
• Persistence and motivation;
• Creativity and visualization;
• Communication, problem solving and interpersonal relations;
• Intuition;
• Entrepreneurial skills;

They learn their true potential!! ###

Peggy Caruso can be reached at
For more information, go to


August 5, 2017 Posted by | Affirmation and Recognition, courage, Discipline, Educators, family, Healthy living, Parents, Self-esteem, Success Strategies, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Power of 30 “No Matter What!” Minutes (Melissa Groman, LCSW)

As author and psychotherapist, Melissa Groman, points out, the acting on one’s perceptions can spell trouble when those perceptions aren’t based on real events or circumstances. Simply waiting can be a handy rule to follow, a rule that can offer dramatically improved outcomes.


The Power of 30 No Matter What Minutes, Melissa GromanA teacher walks into his classroom of third graders; he’s a few minutes late. He’s already in a bit of a mood, feeling annoyed with himself that he’s late. He wants to get the class going. As he’s walking in, one of his students holds his left arm straight up. With the index finger of the other hand, he’s pointing to his wristwatch as he stares straight at the teacher.

Fuming, the teacher goes to the front of the classroom; steam is coming out his ears. He is not interested in rebuke from this kid, and he’s certainly not interested in having his lateness pointed out.

He is going to pull this kid out, he thinks. He is going to yank him out of the classroom, let him know who should be doing the reprimanding, give him a good loud message that everyone will hear, and then send him to the principal’s office. He will not put up with this kind of blatant disrespect from a student. Things today have gone too far this morning … way too far.

The 30-Minute Rule

Better is Not So Far Away, Melissa GromanHe then remembers his own private rule. It’s a rule he has promised himself to follow, no matter what. He will wait. He will wait 30 minutes … no matter what … in any given situation short of a fire or similar emergency. He will not react or respond to anything or anyone when he is in this state; no words or actions for 30 minutes … no matter what.

As he works to ignore the offending student, the teacher opens his lesson book and tells the students to get out their math books. He teaches the lesson, gives the kids a short break, and then turns his attention to the boy with the watch, who is now running up to his desk. Before he can get a word out, the boy says with utter sincerity and a shinning face:

Look, Mr. Adams, my father got me a new watch for my birthday! I couldn’t wait to show it to you!

Willing to wait?

Sometimes what we think, what we believe to be true in the moment, and what we see with our own eyes, is not what is really happening. What a different world we might live in if with we were more open to this notion, open to working with our minds and paying attention to our thoughts and perceptions. We really don’t know sometimes what is actually going on. Even when we are calm, even when we are sure, are we always certain? It’s not that we can’t trust ourselves; it’s that we have to know ourselves and know how thought works.

We have to be willing to wait. We need the assistance of time to consider the power of thought, of perception, of speech, and of our actions.

So much of our suffering is based on perception, yet our perception can be reworked. Yes, we need to honor all of our thoughts and feelings, and use them as guideposts to our needs and our desires as they propel us forward. But if we don’t slow down and sort out some of that thinking, if we get too wrapped up in what we think we know, we may be missing out on a whole new world both inside and out. In doing so, we could act on our old stories, follow through on our unexamined perceptions and, unfortunately, set into motion so many unintended events.

We hear so much these days about mindfulness and meditation and awareness, but are we willing to be curious about how our minds work and to more fully understand how what we think has the power to create or to destroy, to stir or to calm?

There is natural human flow of thought through us at all times. Perhaps we have little say in how many of those thoughts come to us, but we do have a say in how we examine them, and if we believe them or not. We have a say if we act on them or not. We have a say regarding how conscious and aware we are willing to be.


Melissa Groman’s trademark warmth, sensitivity and profound understanding of human nature permeate her work. She has more than 25 years of experience helping people live healthy, satisfying lives. Although she maintains a busy private practice, Melissa writes regularly for a number of magazines, websites and blogs. [website]


June 18, 2017 Posted by | Counselors, Discipline, Healthy living, Inspirational, Parents, Resilience, Self-esteem, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Grandma and the Train Ride (Dr. James Sutton)

Time spent with grandparents is the stuff of both memories and character. The Changing Behavior Network host, Dr. James Sutton, shares one such experience.

For a number of years I was the only grandchild on my mother’s side of the family. For that reason, my grandmother and I shared a very special relationship. Hey, when you’re the only grandchild, you get lots of attention.

One of my favorite memories about my grandmother goes back to the time when I had spent most of the summer with her and my aunt’s family in Minnesota. I was about nine at the time. After summer vacation, Grandma and I made the return trip to Tulsa, Oklahoma, by train. Those were the days when only the well-to-do could even think of traveling by air.

We were well-prepared. Dressed in our Sunday best, and armed with a couple of sacks of books, games, and plenty of snack food, Grandma and I boarded the train and settled into our seats for the two-day trip. I can still remember watching the scenery go by, occasionally drifting in and out of sleep to the steady rhythm of the clickity-clack of steel wheels on steel rails.

For those riding through the night in coach (instead of the much more expensive Pullman sleeper cars), the porter would make his way down the aisle renting pillows. We only needed one for me. Grandma, an experienced rail traveler, always carried a big, down pillow with her.

In the morning the train made a stop (in St. Louis, as I recall), so Grandma treated me to a hearty breakfast in the station’s cafeteria. When we re-boarded the train, we discovered that the porter had taken up all the pillows, including Grandma’s!

Grandma insisted that, since her pillow was so much better than the others (it really was), he would sort through the piles and piles of pillows until he found the fine pillow that belonged to her. He finally brought her a pillow, but it wasn’t THE pillow (something he heard about all the way to Tulsa).

Very few folks today can recall traveling by rail through the night. Thinking back, however, I suppose what stands out the most in that experience of traveling by train with my grandmother was that it was a special adventure of just the two of us.

GRAND-Stories, Ernie WendellThrough the years, Grandma ad I did a lot of things together. She even taught me how to embroider a little and to bake sugar cookies. (We decided once to triple the recipe, and had more cookies than we could find jars, can, and boxes to put them it; but that’s another story.)

I was home on leave from the US Navy when my grandmother passed away in 1968. It was a few days before my scheduled departure for a two-year hitch in Japan (including two assignments with marines in Vietnam). She was very sick, but she knew I was there, that I was still home. To this day, I believe she picked her time to go.

I’ve heard of these things happening. ###

Dr. James Sutton is a former educator, a semi-retired psychologist, and the founder and host of The Changing Behavior Network. This story is from the book, GRAND-Stories: 101+ Bridges of Love Joining Grandparents and Grandkids, edited by Ernie Wendell.

April 26, 2017 Posted by | family, Healthy living, Human Interest, Inspirational, Parents, Self-esteem, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Grandpa’s Good Advice (Dr. Stephen Robbins Yarnall)

The Changing Behavior NetworkNational Grandparents Day is the first Sunday in September following Labor Day. This story by the late Dr. Stephen R. Yarnall honors grandparents everywhere. The story appeared in the book, GRAND-Stories: 101 Bridges of Love Joining Grandparents and Grandkids. This book was compiled by Ernie Wendell and was published by Friendly Oaks Publications in 2000. We are pleased to feature “Grandpa’s Good Advice.”


Stephen R. Yarnall, Grandpas Good AdviceHis name was Colonel Charles Burton Robbins. To me, he was Bompy, my maternal grandfather. I still have memories of a week with him at his summer cabin in the Iowa woods. I was 6.

Bompy was a quiet, good-humored, kindly, gray-haired grandfather whose casual ways belied his considerable wisdom and experience. His collection of weapons from the Spanish-American War and World War I was an awesome sight. It made a lasting impression on a young boy.

That summer visit was really special because we were alone, just the two of us at his backwoods cabin. The experience took on even greater proportion when, after a bit of begging on my part, Bompy let me ride his horse around the cabin area.

“Just Let Go of the Reins …”

He told me to be careful, not to go too far, and not to get lost. But he also gave me some advice in case I did get lost. “Just let go of the reins and the horse will bring you home,” he said.

Grandpa's Good Advice, Stephen Robbins YarnallOff I went down the cool and inviting trail. I came to a large, open meadow. After riding around in the meadow, enjoying every minute of my new freedom, I decided it was time to head for home.

But, as fate would have it, I couldn’t find the trail. On the fringe of panic, I searched the border of the meadow. I was covered all the way around; trees, trees, and more trees.


There was no opening anywhere.

I then remembered Bomby’s advice: “Just let go of the reins and the horse will bring you home.” Well, I did … and he did!

the Way Home

I have never forgotten that good, loving advice. On numerous occasions I have had reason to use it again and again. Indeed, there are those times when one should let go of the reins and be shown the way home. ###


GRAND-Stories, Ernie WendellDr. Stephen R. Yarnall passed away in 2011. He was a practicing cardiologist in Edmonds, Washington for 50 years. He also was an accomplished speaker and an active member of the National Speakers Association. CLICK HERE for more information about the book, GRAND-Stories: 101+ Bridges of Love Joining Grandparents and Grandkids.



September 17, 2016 Posted by | courage, family, Human Interest, Inspirational, Resilience, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

5 Decluttering Myths Debunked (Alison Kero)

Our children are watching us … always. It’s not healthy when we hold onto things that clutter or physical and emotional space. It can affect how we function and the examples we set for our loved ones. Decluttering and organization expert, Alison Kero, has some great ideas here that can move us in a much better direction, a direction we want our kids to follow. We present, “5 Decluttering Myths Debunked.”


Alison Kero, 5 Decluttering Myths DebunkedI’ve heard it all before; there are so many reasons people feel like they’ll never get organized. Too much stuff, too little time, no energy; the list goes on and on. These are false beliefs. Once we allow ourselves to think about decluttering and organizing as an exercise toward healthier habits, rather than as a difficult project, we can take some positive steps towards enjoying happier, healthier, more productive lives for ourselves and our families.

Here’s a list of my five favorite decluttering myths, along with reasons why they aren’t true.

Myth #1: “It’s Going to Be Hard”

Organizing does involve some light manual labor, so those with certain physical challenges may find it a bit more difficult, but really organizing is more of a mental challenge for most. Being open to recognizing the various emotions that your belongings have gathered with them along their journey with you can be difficult for many people.

There can be a collection of fear, guilt, shame and apathy associated with clutter; it’s often a challenge to face those emotions head-on. The great news is that these emotions are attached to inanimate objects! These things can’t get angry or sad at your expense.

They can’t judge you, either. You, however, can let those useless and damaging emotions go by simply taking them out of your house and over to the donation center, recycling center or dump. Think of it as your own personal therapy session and trust that you can’t do it wrong and you can always go back and make improvements as you see fit.

Myth #2: “I Don’t Know How”

Organizing is about making decisions. What I love about decluttering is that the process lets you learn and practice making good decisions for yourself.

Personally, I find it’s actually the safest environment to do so. You get to be in control regarding how you want your home to look. Best of all, there can be no wrong decisions.

Whatever you choose will be exactly right, no matter what. It’s just about what you like and need for yourself in your home, and, with some practice, it does become much easier – fun even, because you’re learning how to empower yourself and learning what you like in the process.

Myth #3: “I Don’t Know WHERE to Begin”

Conquering Emotional Clutter, Alison Kero, ACK Organizing. Clearing Out the ClutterOverwhelm is the quickest way to stop a healthy habit. In organizing there will be moments where you do feel overwhelmed, but it’s okay. It’s about making one choice at a time, then taking one step at a time to help you take action versus giving in to overwhelm and stopping altogether.

When you view your clutter as a whole or your home as one entire project, it may seem extremely challenging to even think about decluttering. However, when you start to break the project down into smaller, more manageable steps, it becomes doable, maybe even kind of easy.

So, to start decluttering your house, pick one room to start and pick one category within that room. If you choose your bedroom, start with your wardrobe. Then pick one category within clothing, like jeans. Place all your jeans together and then, one-by-one, go through them, making a decision on each pair as to whether or not to keep them. Trust your instincts and know that the more often you go through your items, the easier it will become to make the right decisions for just about everything in your life.

Myth #4: “I Don’t Have the Time (or the Energy)”

Trust me, if you are low on time and/or energy, you NEED to declutter. This is how you will get more time and energy because you will be letting go of old emotions as well as physical and spiritual clutter. This is an easy way to do a body/mind/spirit cleanse without having to consume or buy anything weird.

The less clutter you have, the less time you’ll spend looking for lost items. You’ll also save mental and physical energy because you’re not wandering around looking for lost items.

Myth #5: “It Never Stays That Way for Long”

The day after you first learned to walk, did anyone expect you to know how to run a marathon? No, right? Why would you then expect that for yourself?

Creating positive change takes a little time. No one does it perfectly right away. It’s about making small decisions that, over time, lead to amazing changes in your life. It’s a process, and you can keep decluttering as you go throughout your entire life, and you can do it as you see fit. There’s no wrong or right way, it’s just about wanting to surround yourself with meaningful people, places and things for a happier, healthier, more productive life.

Since positive change doesn’t always happen overnight, it’s important to get used to the process in your own time. By letting go of fear, judgment and what you think the outcome “should” look like, you’ll help yourself overcome obstacles and create the changes more quickly.

Allow the process to come as you’re ready for it, and remember: It’s about making one, small, self love-based decision at a time to create the changes you want to see in your life and in the lives of your loved ones. ###


Speakers Group MemberLong before decluttering expert, writer and speaker, Alison Kero, started her first organizing business in 2004, she searched for ways to make her own life easier. Since implementing her new decluttering system, Alison has found she now enjoys increased energy, improved productivity and overall greater contentment. She truly enjoys teaching this easy, effective system to her clients through her company, ACK Organizing. To reach Alison, go to

September 8, 2016 Posted by | Anxiety and Depression, family, Healthy living, Self-esteem, Stress, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment



Note: We are posting this announcement in support of our partner site, The Changing Behavior Network. (When “this page” is mentioned, it refers to the Network’s site.) —

Okay, I’ll admit it: I am excited about this! After a couple of months of planning, The Speakers Group is now a reality. I thought starting The Changing Behavior Network five years ago was a great experience, but this one tops it.
We will continue to add to this distinguished group, but I’d like to offer special thanks and recognition to the following authors/experts. Through the years, they have been my guests on the Network. It was their faith and confidence that made this “debut” possible in the first place: Mike Ferry, Alison Kero, Dr. Laurie Hollman, Judge Tom Jacobs, Natalie Jacobs, Terry Lancaster, Christy Monson, Peggy Sealfon, Rosalind Sedacca, Kirsten Taberner Siggins, Kathy Taberner, Dr. Daniel Trussell, Dr. Larry Waldman and Greg Warburton. –JDS


The Speakers Group, The Changing Behavior NetworkThe Changing Behavior Network announces a new component to the efforts of encouraging and supporting children, teens and their families in what many consider difficult and challenging times: The Speakers Group.

What Is It?

The Speakers Group is made up of guest authors/experts that have been interviewed on The Changing Behavior Network. They can provide a number of services for you or your organization, including ARTICLES for your blog or newsletter, INTERVIEWS and BOOK SIGNINGS, CONSULTING (including coaching), PRESENTATIONS, TRAINING and CONFERENCE keynotes or break-outs. These individuals make up a strong collection of resources … so use them!

(Using the “Free Materials from Our Experts” tab at the top of this page, you’ll see that these folks also have provided excellent complimentary materials on their particular specialty.)

Two Things

Two things are especially unique about these listings in The Speakers Group. First, each one of them contains a “Listen to an Interview” audio link to an actual Changing Behavior Network interview with that person. This enables you to “sample” their expertise without even leaving the page. And second, since The Speakers Group is a listing and not a booking agent or a speakers bureau, you will be able to communicate directly with each group member or their staff. That’s a BIG benefit.

A Great PLACE to Start

Consider asking one or more of these experts for an article for your blog or newsletter in exchange for a byline about their work, book and website. What better way to start a great relationship?

To go straight to The Speakers Group page, CLICK HERE, or use the tab at the top of this page.

For information or questions about The Speakers Group, email us at:

June 1, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Father Hunger: Needing a Father’s Love (Keith Zafren)

a father's love, father hunger, psychological effects of father absenceFather Hunger is a phrase many psychologists, authors and poets use to describe the universal and life-long yearning children have for a father’s love and involvement. Sometimes loving dads satisfy that hunger. Other children continue to yearn when their need is not met by engaged fathers. Some starve for lack of fathering.

Psychological Effects of Father Absence

Fatherlessness leaves children hungering—craving for dad’s affection, affirmation, and loving presence. Father hungry children tend not to grow up to be healthy, well-adjusted and happy adults. A host of studies link fatherless to many serious social problems. Children from fatherless homes account for:

63 percent of youth suicides
71 percent of pregnant teenagers
90 percent of all homeless and runaway children
70 percent of juveniles in state-operated institutions
85 percent of all youth who exhibit behavior disorders
80 percent of rapists motivated with displaced anger
71 percent of all high school dropouts
75 percent of all adolescents in chemical abuse centers
85 percent of all youths sitting in prison.[i]

father's love, father hunger, psychological effects of father absenceResearchers Frank Furstenberg and Kathleen Harris reveal that more important than a father’s presence or even his living at home is how close a child feels to his or her father. That feeling of closeness, they argue, is most predictably associated with positive life outcomes for the child even twenty-five years later. Based on these findings, Dr. Kyle Pruett notes, “Children who feel a closeness to their father are twice as likely as those who do not to enter college or find stable employment after high school, 75 percent less likely to have a teen birth, 80 percent less likely to spend time in jail, and half as likely to experience multiple depression symptoms.”[ii]

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association in the mid 1990s confirmed that “doing lots of activities together is not the crucial variable in the relationship between parent and child; rather, it is a sense of connectedness.”[iii]

Satisfying the Hunger

Ultimately, it’s how close a child feels to their dad that makes all the difference as to how satisfied their hunger. If you’re a dad, that means that your focus ought to be, as much and as often as possible, and as intentionally as you can focus, on creating that feeling of closeness with your kids.

May our children never go hungry, as some of us did.

Great Dads Shape Great Kids.
Be a Great Dad Today.
[i]Reported in John Sowers, Fatherless Generation: Redeeming the Story (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 36-37.
[ii] Cited in Kyle D. Pruett M.D., Fatherneed: Why Father Care Is as Essential as Mother Care for Your Child (New York: Broadway Books, 2000), 38.
[iii] Cited in Gail Sheehy, Understanding Men’s Passages: Discovering the New Map of Men’s Lives (New York: Balllantine Books, 1998), 166.

Post by Keith Zafren, founder of The Great Dads Project and author of the award-winning book, How to Be a Great Dad—No Matter What Kind of Father You Had.

Men who want to be great dads love the stories Keith Zafren tells, the practical skills he teaches, and the personal coaching he offers. Keith has spent seventeen years learning firsthand how to raise three great teenagers and stay close to them, no matter what. He coaches busy dads not to repeat the mistakes their fathers made, but instead, to create fantastic relationships with their kids. Check out his free Great Dad Video Training.

February 12, 2016 Posted by | adversity, Anxiety and Depression, Difficult Child, family, Healthy living, Parents, Resilience, Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

National Popcorn Day

popcornMy friend in Austin, Jim Gentil, sent this along. Popcorn, a family favorite, has been a favored treat for kids, adults … even pets. I thought this story was quite interesting and uplifting. (As a kid, I remember my dad making popcorn in a large pot on the gas stove. Anyone remember having the job of vigorously shaking that pot as the corn popped, so it wouldn’t burn? Dad’s popcorn was always the best. He made great waffles, too, but that’s another story.)–JDS

National Popcorn Day is celebrated annually today, January 19th.

This time-honored treat can be sweet or savory, caramelized, buttered or plain, molded into a candied ball or tossed with nuts and chocolate. However it is enjoyed, enjoy it on National Popcorn Day, January 19th.

Popcorn started becoming popular in the United States in the middle 1800s. It wasn’t until Charles Cretors, a candy-store owner, developed a machine for popping corn with steam that the tasty treat became more abundantly poppable. By 1900 he had horse-drawn popcorn wagons going through the streets of Chicago.

About the same time, Louise Ruckheim added peanuts and molasses to popcorn to bring Cracker Jack to the world.

The national anthem of baseball was born in 1908 when Jack Norworth and Albert Von Tilzer wrote “Take Me out to the Ballgame”. From that point onward, popcorn, specifically Cracker Jack, became forever married to the game.

Today, Americans consume 13 billion quarts of popcorn a year, more than any other country in the world. A majority of popcorn produced in the world is grown in the United States. Nebraska leads the corn belt in popcorn production. ###

January 19, 2016 Posted by | family, Healthy living, Human Interest, Inspirational, Parents, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two Thoughts on Forgetting

TWO THOUGHTS ON FORGETTING: Difficulty with remembering specific things can be associated with anxiety or worry, or it can be a veiled form of defiant behavior. Most counselors and therapists have dealt with these kinds of issues. Let’s take a look at both types of forgetting.

Thought #1: Forgetting That Causes Worry and Anxiety

What about the person who leaves for work or an extended trip only to worry later if they closed the garage door, unplugged the curling iron or left the front door unlocked? To some degree, we’ve all been there, right? Kids can experience much the same thing.

I recently went to some training on the treatment of anxiety disorders. While there, I picked up a little intervention that makes a lot of sense. It’s based on the fact that added cognitive impression at the moment of “storage” improves memory exponentially.

It’s simple, really. As you close the garage door say loudly, “I am now CLOSING the garage door!” Your neighbors might think you strange, but, even hours later, you will KNOW you closed that door. (And the same goes for unplugging the curling iron, feeding the cat, locking the front door, putting the overdue library book in your school backpack or whatever.)

Thought #2: Passive-Aggressive Forgetting

Forgetting is a convenient way to say, without the risk of saying it, “I didn’t FEEL like doing that; so there!” Passive-aggressive adults can turn a workplace upside down with this behavior, while oppositional and defiant youngsters can brew up a ton of frustration in teachers and parents with forgetting. Then they wiggle off the hook with a less-than-sincere, “I’m sorry.”

But, of course, nothing changes.

The solution to addressing intentional forgetting is to attack the intention. So, the next time you give the child or student an instruction or direction to be completed later, ask them this question (and do it with a straight face):

Do you think that is something you’ll forget?

(Regardless of the look on their face, it’s my guess the question will catch them off-guard. If they stammer a bit, it’s probably because they KNOW they’ve stepped into a bit of quicksand.)

For them to say, “Yes,” would be to expose more of their intent that they care to show. (But if that’s what they say, my next step would be to ask them to come up with a strategy for remembering, then hold out until I get it from them.)

In most cases, the youngster will say, “No,” just to end the conversation. Then, if they DO forget, I’ve created an opportunity to remind them what they told me earlier. Since these kids don’t really like to give adults the upper hand at their expense, you just might have a different outcome when you ask the same question (“Do you think that’s something you’ll forget?) next time.

James D. Sutton, EdD, CSP

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

October 9, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Stepfamilies: Blessing the Blending (Guest: Valerie J. Lewis Coleman)

NOTE: This post announces a 25:26 minute talk radio interview with Valerie on The Changing Behavior Network [Interview with Valerie J. Lewis Coleman].
Anyone, parent, child or teen, who has ever been part of a blended family knows there often are difficulties and obstacles to making a stepfamily work as as it should. Discouragement mingled with frustration shouldn’t be the name of the game, but often it is. The job of drawing together a family across multiple households is a challenge not suited to the weak of heart or spirit.

But it CAN be done, according to our guest on this program, Valerie J. Lewis Coleman. She has, as they say, “Been there!” Faced with the struggle to parent five children from three different households, Valerie was often overwhelmed, almost to the point of giving up.

Blended Families An Anthology CoverLooking back on those struggles, Valerie shares how her experiences of heartaches, frustrations and sleepless nights were but the labor pangs required to birth her passion to help others stop what she calls the “Stepfamily Maddness.” From her own journey, plus the experiences and contributions of others going through similar circumstances, Valerie compiled and edited a book, Blended Families: An Anthology. This work, and the wisdom gleaned from its pages, well-represent this topic of blended families.

With over 20 years of experience in families and relationships, Valerie has given advice on varying stepfamily issues, including Baby-Mamma Drama, defiant children and a really tough one: disapproving in-laws. Also, as an established author in her own right, Valerie encourages and trains new authors through her publishing company, Pen of the Writer.


To listen as Dr. Sutton interviews Valerie J. Lewis Coleman, click this [Interview with Valerie J. Lewis Coleman].

James D. Sutton, EdD, CSP

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

August 22, 2014 Posted by | Difficult Child, family, Healthy living, Parents, Self-esteem, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“This Stove is Filthy!” Teaching the Value of a Job Done Right

The title of this post is an exhortation I distinctly remember coming from my mother. It addresses the subject of finishing what you start.

Dishes, Dishes, Dishes

We didn’t have a dishwasher at our house when I was a kid; we all took turns. When it was my turn, it always seemed to me that the dirty dishes were in piles and piles and piles on the sink.

There were three parts of this task, as outlined by my mother’s expert job description:

1. Wash the dishes, dry them and put them away.

2. Wash and dry the old cast-iron skillet as best you can, then put it on low flame on the stove to remove all moisture so it wouldn’t rust. (It was also important to remember to turn the fire OFF.)

3. Clean the top of the stove.

A Shortcut

I was a reasonably bright kid; I knew the drill. I just didn’t like the job. I felt enslaved to the sink as all the best TV programs were pelting the airways on our new (black and white) Stewart Warner television . (There was no cable or satellite TV in those days, but Dad had put up an antenna that could pull in stations from six states. But that’s another story.)

One day I took a shortcut. The stove looked clean enough to me; I let it go.

I got caught.

“This stove is filthy. I thought I told you to wash the dishes.” (It had occurred to me that the dishes and the stove were separate items, and from a kid’s viewpoint it was unfair to combine them. Fortunately, however, I managed to keep those thoughts to myself.)

I cleaned the stove, and I don’t remember cutting the dishes job short again. Now, I’m not suggesting I did everything perfectly after that, but I do believe I managed to capture a pretty decent work ethic. For that, I thank a pair of hard-working parents who lived their integrity every day of their lives.

Not Automatic

It’s not an automatic thing. If our children are to gain the satisfaction of doing a job well, they have to learn it somewhere.

(And isn’t it interesting how a young person with the people skills of smiling, showing respect toward and delivering their best efforts to the customer can’t stay at the counter at McDonald’s. They’re prompted to supervisor before you can blink.)

Willingly doing a job right is not only right, it eventually translates into all kinds of success, financial and otherwise.

In a way, it was unfortunate that our children had a dishwasher for most of their growing up years. But one day one of those old tapes ran through my head and out my mouth. It sounded a lot like Mom; a bit different, but still the same:

“Son, this mower needs oil. I thought I told you to cut the grass.”

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

March 5, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Behavior as a Way to “Fix” Problems

BEHAVIOR AS A WAY TO FIX PROBLEMS: The behaviors of young people, what they DO, can be one of the best indicators of what’s going on inside of them. More often than we realize, their behaviors are an attempt to “fix” issues and situations in their lives. Reading this behavior is not especially difficult, but it does take a little practice.

An Interesting Dynamic

A boy is fearful his parents will divorce. How does he stop them? I’ve seen youngsters find their way into so much trouble at school their parents had to come together to deal with it.

Now that’s an interesting dynamic, isn’t it? As long as the boy is in trouble, Mom and Dad are actually communicating and working together on something involving their son. And, as long as they are working together, they are together. With that kind of payoff, how do you propose to stop the lad’s behavior?

Getting Dad Off the Road

By way of another example, I once had the opportunity to work with a high-school girl from a single-parent family. (Her mother had died of pancreatic cancer, one enormous and unaddressed source of the girl’s pain and anger.) Dad’s work kept him on the road all the time. The girl shared with me she felt she had lost both of her parents.

She found an effective way to get her father off the road: She began failing in school. It worked! Dad had countless meetings with her teachers and he begged her to bring up her grades. Clearly capable of passing, the girl failed the ninth grade. In fact, since Dad was a slow learner, she failed it THREE times.

In both of these examples the youngsters considered the consequences of their behavior preferable to letting the problem continue. As obvious as these situations seemed, they were NOT obvious at all to the folks in the middle of them. Effective intervention, therefore, should address the problem the behavior is trying to “fix” (if possible), then addess both it and the behavior.

Dr. James Sutton, is a psychologist, author and former Special Education teacher. He is the founder of The Changing Behavior Digest and The Changing Behavior Network, and the author of The Changing Behavior Book.[website]

October 19, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Dollar in the Case

For the past several years, I have held a Sunday School service at a local nursing home. I take my guitar and spend an hour or so singing, playing and visiting with the folks there. It has become an activity that charges my battery for a week.

I miss it when I miss it.

Recently, I was wrapping up a visit. I opened my guitar case to put it away, but was distracted a moment when one of the residents drew my attention. In the time while my guitar case was open, a stately gentleman rolled his wheelchair up to the case and deposited a dollar into it.

Before I even discovered the dollar in my case, he was making it down the hall to his room.

For a moment, I considered stopping by his room and giving his dollar back to him. But my second thought was the right one: He WANTED to give it, and it brought him a blessing to do so.

I took his dollar back up to the church with me, and I put it in the offering plate.

His blessing stayed, and grew, didn’t it?

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

August 5, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lurlene Saves a Life

When he was only one day old, Noland was doomed. His mother rejected him. Fortunately, Lurlene took Noland in; she is today raising him with her own family.

Touching, right? But the story’s even more touching when you understand that Noland is a pit bull puppy and Lurlene is a mama cat with a litter of her own newborns. So far, they’re all doing just fine at the Cleveland Animal Protection League. The nuruturing and nutrition Lurlene provides Noland are giving him a chance at life. Even his litter mates have accepted him. Although Noland is much larger than any of the kittens, it doesn’t seem to matter.

“It’s really crazy what animals can do to give us hope,” said Sharon Harvey, president and CEO of CAPL. “Talk about acceptance.”

Yes, Lurlene, teach us a few things about acceptance.

(The story of this piece was published online June 20th, in”The Sideshow,” copyright 2013 by Yahoo! and ABC News Network.)

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

June 22, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Still Have the Key? The Value of a Child’s Trust

Years ago, my 17-year-old stepped into my office at home and noticed a pair of handcuffs sitting on my desk. He picked them up and gestured, “What are you doing with these?”

I explained I had borrowed them from the sheriff. An artist friend was going to make a graphic of them for use in a training program I was doing on codependency.

“So you have a key for these, Dad?” he asked.

“Yes; I do,” I mumbled as I hit “Save” on what I had been writing.


handcuffsImmediately, he slapped the handcuffs down over both wrists.

“Jamie!” I gasped. “I do have the key for those, but I never said I had it WITH me. What on earth are you going to do if I tell you the key is in my office in San Antonio?”

The boy never blinked. He held out his hand.

“Dad, you would NEVER let me slap these cuffs on myself if you didn’t have the key with you.”

I dug into my pocket and passed him the key.

Risky Business?

I’m not suggesting every kid get the feel of a pair of handcuffs. (After all, some risks are better than others.) But here was an example of a reasonably safe and spontaneous venture into risk-taking.

Spontaneity in our children can be a good thing. It means they’re not so consumed and careful with planning their every move that they drain life of every drop of fun. (Kids that are always overly cautious don’t make happy campers and, as adults, they don’t change much.)

If a kid can’t enjoy being a kid, what’s the point in being one?

A Deeper Message

In this handcuff-modeling scenario, my son demonstrated something I would never want to see tarnished: He trusted me absolutely.

How valuable is that? How precious is a son’s or daughter’s absolute trust? It’s valuable enough to help a youngster feel a little more secure in a world that’s pretty shaky sometimes. It’s also valuable enough for a child to know that, through all the normal ups and downs of being part of a family, a parent’s intent and desire for his or her well-being rests on solid ground.

Isn’t it fortunate we don’t have to be graduates of The School of Perfect Parenting in order to have that kind of trust from our children?

But I do recommend you keep that key in your pocket, just in case.



A nationally recognized child and adolescent psychologist, author and speaker, Dr. James Sutton is in demand for his expertise on emotionally and behaviorally troubled youngsters, and his skill for sharing it. He the founder and host of The Changing Behavior Network, a popular internet radio program supporting young people and their families, and every month he publishes The Changing Behavior Digest, offering tips on managing difficult children and teens. Both resources (and others) are available at no cost through his website,

May 8, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

You BECOME What You Think About

YOU BECOME WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT: If you wanted to purchase music in 1956, your options were limited. There were no downloads, CDs, cassettes, Ipods, personal computers or anything like that. You had two choices: phonograph record or reel-to-reel tape.

It was in that year, 1956, that the first spoken-word record to become a GOLD RECORD (selling over one million copies) was recorded and distributed. It was a recording by the late Earl Nightengale, entitled The Strangest Secret. (He was one of only 12 marines aboard the USS Arizona that survived as the ship sank during the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, but that’s another story.) Here’s the main point of Nightengale’s message that caused that record to sell over a million copies:

You BECOME what you think about.

A few other folks said much the same thing:

King Solomon, known for his great wisdom, said, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7)

Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right!”

Shakespeare said, “Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

But Earl Nightengale nailed it in only six words: “You become what you think about.”


Pleasant thoughts, all.


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

March 6, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

When Love Rode on a Dime

WHEN LOVE RODE ON A DIME: I was always eager to welcome the west Texas summers. School would be out; I could leave my shoes under the bed. One of my dearest summer memories, however, was watching for the mailman to leave something special in our mailbox.

Two Dimes

It would be a letter from my grandmother in Oklahoma. The letter was always addressed to my mother, but my sister and I were not forgotten. There would be two dimes taped to a card inside Grandma’s letter; one for each of us.

These dimes meant one thing: ice cream! If my sister or I heard the ice cream man on the next street over, we’d rush inside to grab our dimes and stand patiently on the curb until he came down our street. If our tastes weren’t too fancy, a dime would be just enough.

Long-distance Love

It was a given that Grandma loved us, but using the US Mail to deliver ice cream in the summer was a creative way to send the message. It was long-distance love, and we experienced it for many years.

But something always puzzled me about those dimes. They were ALWAYS brand-new and shiny; uncirculated. Many years later, Mom shared the story how, near the first of the month, Grandma would ride the city bus downtown with her modest check in hand. She would stop by the bank to cash it, always asking for a roll of new dimes. No old dimes for her five grandkids; they had to be NEW ones.

Too Much?

Today it’s possible for grandparents to video chat with their grandkids in real time. Cell phones and the internet give instant access anywhere and anytime, and gift cards can buy just about anything a grandchild could possibly want.

But that’s just the point, isn’t it? I sometimes wonder if we lavish TOO much on our children and grandchildren.

Can expensive gifts cloud a deeper message? Can love be diminished by extravagance? Might we return to a time when the heart of the giver was more valued than the giver?

When love sometimes rode on a dime?

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

March 6, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“I Just Got Back From the Moon!”

“I JUST GOT BACK FROM THE MOON!” Before you laugh too much at this one, you must know it actually happened in a counseling session of mine. I asked an 11-year-old how his weekend went. He launched into quite a tale.

He told me his folks were divorced and that his father lived outside Houston. When he went to visit his dad over the weekend, they took a trip to the Manned Spacecraft Center. The boy told me they had a rocket there all fueled up and ready to go, so they asked him if he was up for a two-day trip to the moon. He said, “Sure!” and blasted off.

There’s a lot I don’t know about NASA and the whole business of space, but I’m pretty sure Houston folks only track flights; they don’t launch ’em. But I sensed that confronting him would be more harmful than productive. Besides, he already knew he didn’t really go to the moon.

Why would a youngster say such a thing (assuming he wasn’t thought disordered)? I believe it was a cover for his own sense of insignificance. Perhaps he was really saying, “If you really knew how dull and lackluster my life really is, you wouldn’t waste either your breath or your time on me. But if I can tell some really far-out stuff, perhaps I can hold your attention a little longer.”

I know there are kids out there who are starving for just five unconditional minutes with us. A little affirmation can work wonders, and it will slowly bring reality back into view and into discussion. It’s not a race. Take your time with a youngster like this one.–JDS


For 59 other interventions and ways to develop rapport and redirect youngsters effectively, get Dr. Sutton’s book, 60 Ways to Reach a Difficult and Defiant Child. Just one or two of these great ideas can help create more successful outcomes as it reduces your stress and frustration. What is that worth? For more information or to order this book, CLICK HERE.

James D. Sutton, EdD, CSP

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

October 9, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Free Hugs!

FREE HUGS: If the weather’s decent on a Saturday morning, and if the tourists are out and about, you just might find him near Alamo Plaza in San Antonio, Texas. He’ll be the one wearing a bed-sheet cape, holding a sign that reads, “FREE HUGS.”

The man is 27-year-old Christopher Webster. For the past six years he has taken part in the “Free Hugs” social movement started by an Australian in 2004. But the really hug-worthy part of the movement is Christopher himself. He has Asperger’s Syndrome, a condition that makes interaction with others quite uncomfortable and difficult.

“It was stepping out of my comfort zone,” Christopher shared with news reporter, Vincent Davis. “Once I started, it became natural.”

Most of us know full well the best way to deal with things that make us uncomfortable or fearful is to face them head-on. The problem is we just don’t want to do it.

So look for the guy in the bed-sheet cape. He’s leading the way. –JDS

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

August 8, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Be Patient with Me …”

“BE PATIENT WITH ME …”: Growing tomatos 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; I can still contribute,” the plant seemed to be saying to me. I left it.

In that moment I was 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)

James D. Sutton, EdD, CSP

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

June 23, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“If You Want Something Done …”

“IF YOU WANT SOMETHING DONE … “: As colonial Philadelphia rapidly grew, Ben Franklin saw a problem developing. Streets became busier and more crowded, clogged with pedestrians, horses and carriages. Traffic was bad enough during the day, but at night it was DANGEROUS. People were getting hurt; the streets needed light at night.

Franklin pleaded with the city to put out street lamps for the safety of the people. He was told there were no funds for such a project. Lighted streets were a good idea; there just wasn’t any money for it.

Being a man of action and considerable influence (except with the city, apparently), Franklin addressed the part of the problem that was in front of HIS home. He commissioned the crafting of a beautiful, ornate post and had it placed at the street in front of his house. He ordered a clean lamp be lit and placed on the post every day at dusk.

Folks nearby admired their neighbor’s lamp post so much they did the same in front of their homes. It didn’t take long before streets were safer all over Philadelphia.

It is better to light one candle than

to curse the darkness.

Chinese proverb

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

June 7, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Turning Disability into Destiny

TURNING DISABILITY INTO DESTINY: Early in my career as a school psychologist, I met a man who had no arms from the elbows down. As I recall, his name was Bob. As an electrician, he was involved in an accident that left him permanently disabled.

Bob eventually became the CEO of a very large nonprofit organization dedicated to putting physically disabled folks back into the workplace. When Bob spoke, people listened. His influence and his service to thousands was beyond measure.

Here’s another story. It’s different, yet it’s really the same. –JDS


Young Louis loved to tinker with the tools in the leather shop. His father, a master leather smith, had a strong reputation across the French countryside as a maker of the finest horse tack.

One day, Louis was attempting to punch through a piece of tough leather with an awl, a sharply pointed tool. The awl slipped and struck Louis in the eye. The wound became infected, then the infection spread to his other eye, also. The boy quickly became totally blind.

He was sent to a school for the blind in Paris. It didn’t take long for his teacher to discover that Louis was quite bright. Although Louis enjoyed learning, he became frustrated with the method used for teaching blind students to read. Heavy sheets of wet paper were placed over wire or wooden cutouts of letters. When the paper dried, students could read the words by feeling the raised parts of the paper.

Louis didn’t like this system much. It worked, but it was slow and cumbersome. Books made in this fashion were huge, heavy and hard to handle. And they were expensive to make. Besides, they accounted for reading only. Trying to write using this system was next to impossible.

As a young teen struggling to come up with a better way for blind classmates and himself to read and write, Louis heard about a system of night writing that had been developed by a French army captain. It was an alphabetical arrangement of raised dots and dashes pressed into paper. With it, military communication was possible even in total darkness.

Louis liked the idea of night writing, but felt that it, also, was too cumbersome to be practical for the blind. So, armed with the very same awl that had blinded him, Louis set out to improve on the captain’s system. He needed to come up with something that was simple, functional, and easy to use in both reading and writing.

He developed an alphabet consisting of two narrow columns of up to three raised dots each. These one to six dots in the columns represented a specific letter. Best of all, it could be read instantly with a single touch.

His improved system of reading and writing for the blind gained support by the time Louis was fifteen years old. It seemed paradoxical that the same leather worker’s tool that had blinded him played such a role in the ultimate education, literacy and independence of many millions of sight-challenged individuals. His work carries his name to this day.

That fifteen year old boy was Louis Braille (1809-1852).

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

April 14, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Turning “I Can’t” into “I Can”


Perception is a close relative of belief; it “colors” everything we do … and everything we don’t do. When we perceive we can’t do something, like ride a bike, ice skate, or stand on our head, we essentially affirm that perception regardless of ability or skill. In other words, we simply “talk” ourselves out of that ability.

Perception easily overrides reality, although it eventually constructs a reality of its own. The good news is that negative, unproductive and unhealthy perceptions can be changed through the careful and methodical “adjustment” of behavior. The two are linked into a never-ending cycle; perception influences behavior, and behavior influences perception. Want to change one? Well, just work on the other!

Changed Behavior Changes Perception

A middle school coach once shared with me how he taught a student to remain in his seat when students were working on assignments.

This boy was in constant motion. He would, on occasion, come completely out of his seat. The coach had an idea.

“I’ll bet I can convince you that you can stay in your seat for ten minutes with no problem at all.”

The boy didn’t think such a thing was possible. Staying seated had always been difficult for him at school, at home, at church, everywhere.

The coach smiled and left. In a moment he was back with a jump rope and a timer. He folded the jump rope a couple of times and placed it across the boy’s knees.

“In a moment, I’m going to set this timer for ten minutes,” he said. “All you have to do is keep the jump rope in your lap, without touching it with your hands, until the timer goes off.”

When the timer went off, no one was more surprised than the young man to see the jump rope still across his lap. He grinned at the coach, handed him the jump rope, and reset the timer for ten more minutes. When the timer went off for the second time, the boy was still in his seat.

Change Perception Changed Behavior

Once the boy was convinced he could remain in his seat, he became certain he could repeat the challenge, even without the jump rope.

Have you ever thought you couldn’t do something, only to watch another person do it, perhaps a person of less skill or ability than yourself? Did it ever cause you to think, “Well, if he can do it, I know I can?” That’s behavioral change that grew from a changed perception. It’s a powerful component of all sorts of learning.

Why Was the Coach’s “Experiment” Successful?

This is a question I ask when I share this story in teacher training. It brings some interesting responses, but two reasons stand above the others:

1. The instruction was simple and doable. The coach designated ten minutes, not two hours. Also, he instructed the boy to simply keep the jump rope on his lap. He didn’t bog the youngster down with multiple directions on how to do it (“Keep your feet on the floor;” “Keep your back straight and your hands on the desk,” “Don’t rock back in your chair;” “Just concentrate;” “Don’t look around the room”).

2. There was a focal point that gave the boy ongoing feedback. He could watch the timer and know precisely where he was in the challenge.

Another Reason?

Some folks suggest there was another reason why this experiment was successful: the attention, positive belief and affirmation of the coach. It certainly didn’t hurt. In terms of a long-term skill, the success with the jump rope was probably the most important, most useful and most remembered lesson he taught that student.

Closer to Home

Okay, this example involves a coach, but a parent can accomplish the same thing. In fact, every day parents demonstrate to doubting children what they can accomplish.

My first bicycle was a full-sized, three-speed English racer; no training wheels. Even with my father walking behind me hold onto the back of the seat, I felt overwhelmed. Knowing he was there with me helped me practice my balance.

When Dad thought I was ready to handle the bike on my own, he took me to a part of the street that had a slight downhill grade. I got some speed going and felt pretty good about it, especially knowing my father was right there behind me.

Only he wasn’t, of course. When I got to the end of the street and looked for my father, he was half a block behind me, grinning. He had “proven” to me I could manage the bike just fine. From that day on, that bike was my magic carpet over my small part of the world.

Is There a Life Lesson Here?

If you look back over the scenario with the jump rope, you’ll note the boy did not remain in his seat for ten minutes; he remained in his seat for 20 minutes; his choice! More importantly, he knew he could do the same anywhere and anytime for the rest of his life.

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

March 29, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Jack: a 104-Year-Old Inspiration

While wrapping up a speaking engagement in Sacramento, I boarded a plane for home. I was going to San Antonio, with a stop in San Diego.

Jack was in front of me, being wheeled through the jetbridge by an attendant. A young lady, a social worker, accompanied him. He certainly was a delightful fellow and, in conversation with him and the social worker, I discovered he was 104 years old and moving to San Diego.

The attendant asked if I would hold boarding the plane until he could come back with the wheelchair; he needed the room to turn the chair around. They seated Jack on the front row, and we resumed boarding.

As we were landing in San Diego, a flight attendant announced that Jack was their special guest for that flight, that he was 104 years young, and that he was moving to San Diego. He also shared that, as folks got off the plane, they might want to shake Jack’s hand and wish him the well as as they passed by.

As I said, I was a through passenger, so I got to watch everyone as they spoke to Jack before getting off the plane. It was special, indeed. “They are making his day,” I thought to myself. I was wrong, of course.

He was making THEIR day!

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

February 26, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

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

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

The 72-hour Challenge

As a parent, have you ever had “the-child-you-would-die-for” become “the-kid-you-can’t-live-with?” Even if your experiences were not that extreme, it’s not at all difficult to see how things between parent and child can take an uncomfortable turn.

That uncomfortable turn doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, that is precisely the issue, really. The problems we don’t see coming are the toughest ones to fix. Too often, our response is to wait and see if things will improve, or simply do nothing at all (except complain), as we wait not-so-patiently for everyone else to change.

The 72-hour Challenge

Here’s an idea that just might help. Imagine that, starting right now, you had only three days left here on Planet Earth. That’s a 72-hour deadline to settle ALL your business. What’s more, you couldn’t tell anyone you had only three days left.

Would this shift your priorities? Would the actions and habits of loved one that used to irritate you suddenly not matter anymore? Would such a challenge move you to take action to do some things that got lost on the back burner labeled “Later”? Obviously, I don’t know what would be on your three-day “To-Do” list; it would be different for every person. But I’m pretty sure what would be at the top of most every list: the repair, revering and deepening of one’s closest relationships.

(Although this might seem like a far-fetched “What if …?” on your behavior, it’s a reality for some folks. Randy Pausch, professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, lived it until he died in the summer of 2008 from pancreatic cancer. His best-selling book, The Last Lecture, and the actual lecture itself, continue to challenge us to dream big and live abundantly, starting with those we love the most. Randy’s biggerst regret was that his three children were much too young to understand the things he so much wanted to tell them before he died.)

If you accept the “72-hour Challenge” and take action to change some things, knowing you can’t explain the circumstances to anyone, you will discover how the results of those changes will be positive in essentially every instance. And all it takes is a reason and the resolve to something now, rather than the “later” that might never happen at all. ###

James D. Sutton, EdD, CSP

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

January 14, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment