Wow, did I stumble onto something valuable this morning. I’m more than a little embarrassed to admit that I hadn’t discovered this before, but with New Year officially begining, I’m grateful that I finally have. And I have to share it with you before you make any resolutions. Read More
Spanking is one of those controversial topics that just won’t go away. Those in favor of spanking argue that it does no harm, that it teaches respect, that spanking was allowed in previous generations and no one was permanently scarred by it. And, of course, others are encouraged by what they believe is the Biblical admonition that if we “spare the rod, we spoil the child.” Read More
I just finished the most interesting and valuable article. Well, I didn’t just finish it. I actually read it yesterday morning but I have been thinking about it since and I pulled it up and re-read it again this morning. It was written by Jennifer Weil Malatras, Ph.D. and it reports findings from recent research studies that indicate that establishing a schedule and maintaining family routines provides children with a sense of order, predictability, and security. Read More
As developmental neuropsychologists, we are always a little amused when new parents talk about their children’s acquisition of developmental milestones. Oh my baby walked at 10 months, she had her first words at 13 months, and he was reading by age four. Cleary, the acquisition of motor and speech/language milestones is crucial to later life success; we applaud parents who monitor their children’s developmental milestones. It’s a good way to ensure that our children are “on track” and will be ready for the next stage of development. Read More
In Part 1 of this blog, I discussed what seems to be our national hangover following this year’s presidential campaign and election. The way our political system is supposed to work is that after the people (and the Electoral College) have voted and a winner is announced, our elected officials come back together to solve problems. We may disagree on the solution, but we generally agree on what we need to do. Health care is a good example. I think it is safe to assume that everyone deserves affordable health care. The difference is in how to pay for it. The way this usually works is that the two parties negotiate and compromise until they find a solution acceptable to both sides. Read More
Yesterday the Electoral College made it official. Donald Trump is the 45th president of the United States. And while that decision makes it final–finally, our country still faces the larger problem of what to do about the yawning chasm that divides red and blue states, conservatives and liberals, republicans and democrats. Election fever is still running high among our citizens; passions have not yet cooled and a still-hot anger remains visible just below the surface. Read More
I just read a most fascinating article by Jenni Ogden on the Flynn Effect. As most psychologist know, the Flynn Effect refers to the small but gradual increase in the average IQ score of the American children. As it turns out, IQ tests are revised about every ten to fifteen years. They are then administered to a new group of children. And what Flynn discovered was that the average score of the new group of children tested with the new tests is about 3 points higher than the average score of the children tested 10 years before. Read More
So this morning I stumble across two articles about adolescence, one by Kenneth Ginsburg, M.D. and one by Linda Olszewski, Ph.D. I was curious about what these authors had to say, because I co-authored a book about teenagers a few years ago (The Middle School Mind) and I wanted to see what, if anything, had changed in the past three years. What struck me about their articles was their calm, patient, and relaxed tone.
The title of Dr. Olszewski’s article is “Adolescence: A Continuum of Growth.” In it, she asks that parents and teachers put aside their own anger and personal frustrations and think about the many changes that teenagers are trying to manage. Their bodies are changing, their brains are flooded with what I refer to as a tsunami of hormones that, literally, make them “crazy.” They are trying to manage a social life dominated by social media that they can barely keep up with (and about which parents have not a clue). And they are struggling to make the transition from the relatively safe zone of elementary school to the rough and tumble of middle school and high school where it is up to students to produce work for teachers who may not even know their names. Dr. Olszewski simply (and wisely) asks that we remember all the transitions that are occurring during the teen years. Yes, teenagers can be moody and difficult, but they still need our help, our support, and our understanding as they navigate the turbulence of adolescence.
Dr. Ginsberg’s article in titled “Adolescence: Designed for Failure, Recovery, and Growth.” Early in the article, he writes, “I am grateful for all the opportunities for failure I had earlier in my life. They gave me the gift of self-awareness. They taught me my strengths as well.” He sees adolescence as a time to prepare us for the realities of the real world where things don’t always turn out as we plan. And if our children don’t learn how to handle failure and disappointment in adolescence, when will they? When will they learn that success often follows multiple failures? Like us, Dr. Ginsberg is worried that we are raising children to believe that “failure is something to be avoided at all costs;” that getting an A- or a B+ is going to ruin their hopes and dreams. Adolescence is no time to instill a fear of failure; rather, it should be a time to explore, to experiment, to test our limits, and to discover our strengths. Parents must help their teenagers develop the courage to fail and not wrap them in the cocoon of serial success.
I wish I had come up with this phrase, but I have to give credit to Lenore Skenazy, author of Free Range Kids. Skenazy happily refers to herself as the “world’s worst mom.” Though I have not yet read her book, it is on my holiday reading list. Skenazy, of course, is openly critical of helicopter parents, those who feel compelled to manage their children’s lives from conception to…hmmm, to when? When does it end? When they go away to college? After they get their first job? When they move out of the house? When they marry (or cohabitate)? Read More
Saw an interesting column today titled, “My Son Is Smoking Marijuana, and I’m a Mess.” In the column, Dr. Barbara Greenberg responds to a despondent parent who’s son is using marijuana. I was intrigued to learn what the author advised, as concerns over marijuana use among teenagers are only going to increase as more cities and states decriminalize and/or legalize it. I was especially interested in what advice she had regarding whether the parent should be worried and what to do now that she knows her son is using. Read More