It's About Them

Young People … Our Greatest Resource

A FOOT ON THE DINNER TABLE (Dr. James Sutton)

While addressing a group of adults a few years back, I threw them this challenge:

“What would you think if you were at a nice dinner with about nine or ten other folks, and one of the guests puts his bare foot on the table?”

The general consensus was they’d be pretty disgusted. Their facial gestures indicated that, if that happened at their table, dinner would be OVER whether they had finished eating or not.

While addressing a group of adults a few years back, I threw them this challenge:

“What would you think if you were at a nice dinner with about nine or ten other folks, and one of the guests puts his bare foot on the table?”

The general consensus was they’d be pretty disgusted. Their facial gestures indicated that, if that happened at their table, dinner would be OVER whether they had finished eating or not.

“But what if that person had no arms?” I asked.

That changes EVERYTHING, doesn’t it? It takes our preconceived notions and removes them from the picture (and the table).

This describes an experience of mine; one of my table mates had no arms. He ate with his feet. He also drank with his feet and took notes with his feet. He even wrote a book with his feet.

Amazing.

This man, a Canadian, is a very successful speaker on the topic of dealing with adversity. People will listen to this man; he walks his talk.

What an inspiration.

Life sometimes throws us huge challenges. What we DO with them can be a measure of our character, our resolve, and our resiliency.

February 2, 2020 Posted by | adversity, Affirmation and Recognition, Anxiety and Depression, Communication, Resilience, Self-esteem | , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s a Little Thing, But … (Dr. James Sutton)

I saw this yesterday as I was walking into a store, and was immediately struck with the notion of just how little some folks care about showing even a tiny bit of kindness, decency, and a respect for others. Their shopping cart was abandoned right next to the cart collection station. It would have taken only a couple of steps to put it on the other side of the railing, yet they didn’t, or worse yet, parking it appropriately never even occurred to them as a choice.

What’s the Thought?

I’ve always felt that what a person says or does, or doesn’t say or doesn’t do, is only a fraction of what’s going on between their ears, the thought behind that action (or lack thereof). And this is the same person that will gripe and complain about prices in the store, yet their little stunt in the parking lot causes the store to send employees out to round up stray carts.

To take this notion one step further, what if this person had children who saw them abandon the shopping cart? What’s the message there?

A Different Picture

To turn this scenario completely upside down, consider the person that rounds up a stray shopping cart and pushes it over to the collection station. What’s the investment there; 20 seconds, tops? Or what if they decide to push the stray cart on into the store and use it? If their kids are watching, what’s the message to them? How many times would a son or daughter observe that behavior from Mom or Dad before they would do the same?

Not many.

Character is built on tiny steps … like being considerate with a shopping cart.

Sure, it’s a small thing, but … ###

 

April 29, 2019 Posted by | Affirmation and Recognition, Communication, Compassion, family, Healthy living, Integrity, Parents | , , , | Leave a comment

Two Thoughts on Forgetting (Dr. James Sutton)

For young ones and older ones alike, “forgetting” can be a convenient way of dodging responsibility. But there’s one problem: We rarely forget things that are really important to us. Dr. James Sutton offers a handy tool for dealing with forgetting that just might be intentional.

……………………………………

Two Thoughts on Forgetting, James D. SuttonEveryone, children and adults alike, sometimes forget. Ongoing difficulty with remembering specific things, however, can be associated with anxiety or worry, or it can be a veiled form of defiant behavior, an undercover way of saying, “I didn’t WANT to!” 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? And what about the youngster who realizes she left her overdue library book at home… again?

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. Point: If you want to remember, make a “bigger” memory.

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 or putting the library book in the school backpack with a flourished announcement.)

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.”

60 Ways to Reach a Difficult and Defiant Child, Dr. James SuttonBut, of course, nothing ever 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 try to 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 generally 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, and 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, you’ve created a perfect opportunity to remind them what they told you earlier. The youngster essentially verifies the need for the question with his or her behavior.

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. ###

 

A semi-retired child and adolescent psychologist, author and speaker, Dr. James Sutton is the founder and host of The Changing Behavior Network. For more tried-and-true strategies for reaching and working with difficult children and teens, consider downloading his book, 60 Ways to Reach a Difficult and Defiant Child. CLICK HERE for more information.

 

October 9, 2017 Posted by | Communication, Counselors, Difficult Child, Discipline, family, Healthy living, Parents, Resilience, Self-esteem | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 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

A Father’s Day Tribute, 2009

Here’s a YouTube upload of a song I wrote following the loss of my father, Fred Sutton, in 1998. The lyrics of it are in an earlier Father’s Day post on this site. This posting is my Father’s Day, 2009, tribute to him. More than that, it’s for all the fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers that have lovingly guided our lives in so many ways.

Thanks, Dad. Thanks for always being there for me.

James Sutton, Psychologist http://www.docspeak.com

June 15, 2009 Posted by | family, Inspirational, Parents, Special Occasions | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment