Tag Archives: Helicopter Parents

Yale, New York University and University of Wisconsin Madison study: More ADHD medication given during school term to lower status children

16 Oct

Carolyne Gregoire reported in the Huffington Post article, American Teens Are Even More Stressed Than Adults:

Last year, the American Psychological Association’s Stress in America survey found that Millennials, aged 18-33, were the country’s most-stressed generation. Now, the title belongs to an even younger demographic: American teenagers.
Even before the pressures of work and adulthood set in, for most young Americans, stress has already become a fact of daily life. And this sets the stage early for unhealthy behaviors and lifestyle choices that may increase the risk of developing stress-related health problems down the road.
American teenagers are now the most stressed-out age group in the U.S., according to APA’s 2013 Stress In America survey. While adults rate their stress at a 5.1 on a 10-point scale, teens rate their stress levels at 5.8…… http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/11/american-teens-are-even-m_n_4768204.html?utm_hp_ref=email_share

Quite often stress and depression in children is treated with medication.

Science Tech Daily reported in the article, Study Finds Stimulant Use Increases by 30% During the School Year:

New research from Yale, NYU and the University of Wisconsin-Madison shows that students are 30% more likely to take a stimulant medication during the school year than they are to take one during the summer.
The authors found that school-year increases in stimulant use are largest for children from socioeconomically advantaged families. Because many children use stimulants only during the school year and take a “drug holiday” in the summer, the authors conclude that these children are using stimulants to manage their schools’ academic demands.
Stimulant medications, which improve concentration and help manage other symptoms associated with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), are the most widely used class of medications among adolescents. Childrens’ use of these medications in the United States has increased dramatically in the last two decades, from approximately 2.4% of children in 1996 to 6% of children at present…. http://scitechdaily.com/study-finds-stimulant-use-increases-30-school-year/

Citation:

Medical Adaptation to Academic Pressure
Schooling, Stimulant Use, and Socioeconomic Status
1. Marissa D. Kinga
2. Jennifer Jenningsb
3. Jason M. Fletcherc
1. aYale School of Management
2. bNew York University
3. cUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison
1. Marissa King, Yale School of Management, 165 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, CT 06511 E-mail: marissa.king@yale.edu
Abstract
Despite the rise of medical interventions to address behavioral issues in childhood, the social determinants of their use remain poorly understood. By analyzing a dataset that includes the majority of prescriptions written for stimulants in the United States, we find a substantial effect of schooling on stimulant use. In middle and high school, adolescents are roughly 30 percent more likely to have a stimulant prescription filled during the school year than during the summer. Socioeconomically advantaged children are more likely than their less advantaged peers to selectively use stimulants only during the academic year. These differences persist when we compare higher and lower socioeconomic status children seeing the same doctors. We link these responses to academic pressure by exploiting variation between states in educational accountability system stringency. We find the largest differences in school year versus summer stimulant use in states with more accountability pressure. School-based selective stimulant use is most common among economically advantaged children living in states with strict accountability policies. Our study uncovers a new pathway through which medical interventions may act as a resource for higher socioeconomic status families to transmit educational advantages to their children, either intentionally or unwittingly.

Here is the synopsis from Yale Insights:

Medicate to Educate: Study Finds Stimulant Use Increases by 30% During the School Year
Marissa D. King — October 2014
Children are 30% more likely to take a stimulant medication during the school year than they are to take one during the summer, according to a new study published in the American Sociological Review. The authors found that school-year increases in stimulant use are largest for children from socioeconomically advantaged families. Because many children use stimulants only during the school year and take a “drug holiday” in the summer, the authors conclude that these children are using stimulants to manage their schools’ academic demands.
Stimulant medications, which improve concentration and help manage other symptoms associated with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), are the most widely used class of medications among adolescents. Childrens’ use of these medications in the United States has increased dramatically in the last two decades, from approximately 2.4% of children in 1996 to 6% of children at present.
Larger school-year increases in stimulant use were found in states with higher levels of accountability pressure, suggesting that education policies impact stimulant use. Children from families who are not poor and live in states with more strict standardized-testing and school-accountability environments are much more likely to use stimulants only during the school year compared to their less economically advantaged peers in states with less stringent accountability environments.
“Many parents are faced with a tough decision: Do they medicate their kids to help them manage in an increasingly demanding school environment?” said Marissa King, assistant professor of organizational behavior at the Yale School of Management and lead author of the study. “Rather than trying to make kids conform to the school system by taking stimulants, we need to take a closer look at what is happening in schools.”
To examine the effect of schooling on stimulant use, King and her colleagues analyzed a data set including the majority of prescriptions written for stimulants in the United States during the 2007-2008 academic year. They linked the patterns of stimulant use during the school year to academic pressure by analyzing state rankings of school-accountability policies published by Education Week. Differences in school year and summer use could not be explained by avoidance of medication side effects, medication cost, or type of ADHD.
The researchers also examined the influence of doctors on school-based stimulant use to determine whether the socioeconomic differences they observe occur because more- and less-advantaged children see different doctors. Even when children from more- and less-advantaged backgrounds were treated by the same doctor, children from more-advantaged backgrounds were more likely to use stimulants only during the school year. This suggests that socioeconomic differences in school-based stimulant use are driven by parents, not doctors. “Socioeconomically advantaged families are more likely to trust their own judgment about medication decisions rather than defer to their doctors,” said King.
The researchers say that the study suggests that medical interventions like stimulant use may be a new pathway through which more advantaged parents translate their economic advantages into educational advantages for their children, either intentionally or unwittingly.
“Medical Adaptation to Academic Pressure: Schooling, Stimulant Use, and Socioeconomic Status,” by Marissa King (Yale School of Management), Jennifer Jennings (New York University), and Jason Fletcher (University of Wisconsin-Madison), is published in the American Sociological Review.
http://insights.som.yale.edu/insights/medicate-educate-study-finds-stimulant-use-increases-30-during-school-year

Paul Tough wrote a very thoughtful New York Times piece about the importance of failure in developing character, not characters.
In What If the Secret to Success Is Failure? Tough writes:
Dominic Randolph can seem a little out of place at Riverdale Country School — which is odd, because he’s the headmaster. Riverdale is one of New York City’s most prestigious private schools, with a 104-year-old campus that looks down grandly on Van Cortlandt Park from the top of a steep hill in the richest part of the Bronx. On the discussion boards of UrbanBaby.com, worked-up moms from the Upper East Side argue over whether Riverdale sends enough seniors to Harvard, Yale and Princeton to be considered truly “TT” (top-tier, in UrbanBabyese), or whether it is more accurately labeled “2T” (second-tier), but it is, certainly, part of the city’s private-school elite, a place members of the establishment send their kids to learn to be members of the establishment. Tuition starts at $38,500 a year, and that’s for prekindergarten.
Randolph, by contrast, comes across as an iconoclast, a disrupter, even a bit of an eccentric. He dresses for work every day in a black suit with a narrow tie, and the outfit, plus his cool demeanor and sweep of graying hair, makes you wonder, when you first meet him, if he might have played sax in a ska band in the ’80s. (The English accent helps.) He is a big thinker, always chasing new ideas, and a conversation with him can feel like a one-man TED conference, dotted with references to the latest work by behavioral psychologists and management gurus and design theorists. When he became headmaster in 2007, he swapped offices with his secretary, giving her the reclusive inner sanctum where previous headmasters sat and remodeling the small outer reception area into his own open-concept work space, its walls covered with whiteboard paint on which he sketches ideas and slogans. One day when I visited, one wall was bare except for a white sheet of paper. On it was printed a single black question mark.
For the headmaster of an intensely competitive school, Randolph, who is 49, is surprisingly skeptical about many of the basic elements of a contemporary high-stakes American education. He did away with Advanced Placement classes in the high school soon after he arrived at Riverdale; he encourages his teachers to limit the homework they assign; and he says that the standardized tests that Riverdale and other private schools require for admission to kindergarten and to middle school are “a patently unfair system” because they evaluate students almost entirely by I.Q. “This push on tests,” he told me, “is missing out on some serious parts of what it means to be a successful human.”
The most critical missing piece, Randolph explained as we sat in his office last fall, is character — those essential traits of mind and habit that were drilled into him at boarding school in England and that also have deep roots in American history. “Whether it’s the pioneer in the Conestoga wagon or someone coming here in the 1920s from southern Italy, there was this idea in America that if you worked hard and you showed real grit, that you could be successful,” he said. “Strangely, we’ve now forgotten that. People who have an easy time of things, who get 800s on their SAT’s, I worry that those people get feedback that everything they’re doing is great. And I think as a result, we are actually setting them up for long-term failure. When that person suddenly has to face up to a difficult moment, then I think they’re screwed, to be honest. I don’t think they’ve grown the capacities to be able to handle that….” http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/18/magazine/what-if-the-secret-to-success-is-failure.html?emc=eta1&_r=0
Because of high stakes testing, it appears that poorer children are being given medication because of educational policy issues like having a school or district appear to succeed in a testing environment, rather than the particular need of the child.

Related:

Schools have to deal with depressed and troubled children https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/15/schools-have-to-deal-with-depressed-and-troubled-children/

School psychologists are needed to treat troubled children https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/school-psychologists-are-needed-to-treat-troubled-children/

Battling teen addiction: ‘Recovery high schools https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/07/08/battling-teen-addiction-recovery-high-schools/

Resources:
Psych Central’s Depression In Young Children http://psychcentral.com/news/2010/05/20/depression-in-young-children/13970.html

WebMD’s Depression In Children http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/depression-children

Healthline’s Is Your Child Depressed? http://www.healthline.com/hlvideo-5min/how-to-help-your-child-through-depression-517095449

Medicine.Net’s Depression In Children http://www.medicinenet.com/depression_in_children/article.htm

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Two studies: The value of honest praise

5 Jan

There are no perfect people, no one has a perfect life and everyone makes mistakes. Unfortunately, children do not come with instruction manuals, which give specific instructions about how to relate to that particular child. Further, for many situations there is no one and only way to resolve a problem. What people can do is learn from their mistakes and the mistakes of others. Craig Playstead has assembled a top ten list of mistakes made by parents and they should be used as a starting point in thinking about your parenting style and your family’s dynamic.
1) Spoiling kids
2) Inadequate discipline
3) Failing to get involved at school
4) Praising mediocrity
5) Not giving kids enough responsibility
6) Not being a good spouse
7) Setting unreal expectations
8) Not teaching kids to fend for themselves
9) Pushing trends on kids
10) Not following through http://living.msn.com/family-parenting/10-big-mistakes-parents-make
Playstead also has some comments about stage parents.
Let kids be kids. Parents shouldn’t push their trends or adult outlook on life on their kids. Just because it was your life’s dream to marry a rich guy doesn’t mean we need to see your 4-year-old daughter in a “Future Trophy Wife” t-shirt. The same goes for the double ear piercing—that’s what you want, not them. Teaching kids about your passions is great, but let them grow up to be who they are. And yes, this goes for you pathetic stage parents as well. It’s hard enough for kids to figure out who they are in the world without you trying to turn them into what you couldn’t be.
Chris Weller examined two studies dealing the “participation trophy” culture.
Weller opined in the Newsweek article, Two Words That Could Hurt Your Kids: Nice Job:
The most controversial topics in professional sports may be doping and concussions, but in youth sports, no two words are more inflammatory than “participation trophy,” those “awards” given to kids just for showing up, regardless of how well they played…
But a new trio of studies from Utrecht University in the Netherlands and Ohio State University suggest that this strategy can backfire. They also suggest that parents often dole out inflated praise to the children most likely to be hurt by it. “If you tell a child with low self-esteem that they did incredibly well, they may think they always need to do incredibly well,” Eddie Brummelman, lead author of the studies and a doctoral candidate at Utrecht University’s department of psychology, said in a statement. “They may worry about meeting those high standards and decide not to take on any new challenges.”
Brummelman and his fellow researchers devised three experiments. The first found that children with low self-esteem typically receive twice as much inflated praise as children with high self-esteem. Inflated praise is the difference between “Job well done!” and “You did an incredibly good job!” That adverb, that small boost, can turn a minor success into an expectation that ends up crushing a kid who doesn’t believe in himself.
The second study enlisted the help of parents. The children completed 12 timed math exercises, which their parents then scored. Brummelman and his colleagues watched for any instance in which the parents administered inflated praise – a “You’re so incredible!” or a “Fantastic!” – or opted for a simple, “Good job” or “Nice work.” Correlating the kids’ scores with earlier assessments of self-esteem, the team found that children with lower self-esteem received more inflated praise.
Don’t start slagging supportive parents, though. Co-researcher Brad Bushman, a professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State, says their logic is impeccable: Kids who feel bad about their abilities tend to have very negative responses to poor performance, so the observant parent intervenes with a few supportive words. Problem solved, right?
The team’s third study took the praise administered in the second study and extended it to future performance. Children were asked to recreate van Gogh’s Wild Roses (to the best of their ability) and were told the final drawing would be critiqued by a professional painter. The critic either gave the children inflated praise, noninflated praise, or no praise at all. Then they did a second drawing. This time they had a choice: Would they rather copy an easy drawing or take on a more difficult piece?
To the chagrin of participation-trophy-pushing parents in the group, the children with lower self-esteems chose the undemanding piece. They took the safe route. The high self-esteem kids were actually more likely to seek out the challenge after receiving inflated praise….
“It goes against what many people may believe would be most helpful,” Bushman said. “But it really isn’t helpful to give inflated praise to children who already feel bad about themselves.”
http://www.newsweek.com/two-words-could-hurt-your-kids-nice-job-225389#.UshBxlkCHTc.twitter
Paul Tough has written a very thoughtful New York Times piece about the importance of failure in developing character, not characters.
In What If the Secret to Success Is Failure? Tough writes:
Dominic Randolph can seem a little out of place at Riverdale Country School — which is odd, because he’s the headmaster. Riverdale is one of New York City’s most prestigious private schools, with a 104-year-old campus that looks down grandly on Van Cortlandt Park from the top of a steep hill in the richest part of the Bronx. On the discussion boards of UrbanBaby.com, worked-up moms from the Upper East Side argue over whether Riverdale sends enough seniors to Harvard, Yale and Princeton to be considered truly “TT” (top-tier, in UrbanBabyese), or whether it is more accurately labeled “2T” (second-tier), but it is, certainly, part of the city’s private-school elite, a place members of the establishment send their kids to learn to be members of the establishment. Tuition starts at $38,500 a year, and that’s for prekindergarten.
Randolph, by contrast, comes across as an iconoclast, a disrupter, even a bit of an eccentric. He dresses for work every day in a black suit with a narrow tie, and the outfit, plus his cool demeanor and sweep of graying hair, makes you wonder, when you first meet him, if he might have played sax in a ska band in the ’80s. (The English accent helps.) He is a big thinker, always chasing new ideas, and a conversation with him can feel like a one-man TED conference, dotted with references to the latest work by behavioral psychologists and management gurus and design theorists. When he became headmaster in 2007, he swapped offices with his secretary, giving her the reclusive inner sanctum where previous headmasters sat and remodeling the small outer reception area into his own open-concept work space, its walls covered with whiteboard paint on which he sketches ideas and slogans. One day when I visited, one wall was bare except for a white sheet of paper. On it was printed a single black question mark.
For the headmaster of an intensely competitive school, Randolph, who is 49, is surprisingly skeptical about many of the basic elements of a contemporary high-stakes American education. He did away with Advanced Placement classes in the high school soon after he arrived at Riverdale; he encourages his teachers to limit the homework they assign; and he says that the standardized tests that Riverdale and other private schools require for admission to kindergarten and to middle school are “a patently unfair system” because they evaluate students almost entirely by I.Q. “This push on tests,” he told me, “is missing out on some serious parts of what it means to be a successful human.”
The most critical missing piece, Randolph explained as we sat in his office last fall, is character — those essential traits of mind and habit that were drilled into him at boarding school in England and that also have deep roots in American history. “Whether it’s the pioneer in the Conestoga wagon or someone coming here in the 1920s from southern Italy, there was this idea in America that if you worked hard and you showed real grit, that you could be successful,” he said. “Strangely, we’ve now forgotten that. People who have an easy time of things, who get 800s on their SAT’s, I worry that those people get feedback that everything they’re doing is great. And I think as a result, we are actually setting them up for long-term failure. When that person suddenly has to face up to a difficult moment, then I think they’re screwed, to be honest. I don’t think they’ve grown the capacities to be able to handle that….” http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/18/magazine/what-if-the-secret-to-success-is-failure.html?emc=eta1&_r=0
Whatever the dream you feel you didn’t realize, remember that was your dream, it may not be your child’s dream.
Helping Your Child Develop Self-Esteem
The Child Development Institute has a good article about how to help your child develop healthy self esteem. http://childdevelopmentinfo.com/?s=healthy+self+esteem A discussion of values is often difficult, but the question the stage parent, over the top little league father, or out of control soccer mom should ask of themselves is what do you really and truly value? What is more important, your child’s happiness and self-esteem or your fulfilling an unfinished part of your life through your child? Joe Jackson, the winner of the most heinous stage parent award saw his dreams fulfilled with the price of the destruction of his children’s lives. Most people with a healthy dose of self-esteem and sanity would say this is too high a price.
Letting Go
Sarah Mahoney wrote a good article about four ways to let go of your kids http://www.familycircle.com/teen/parenting/communicating/letting-go-of-your-kids/?page=2 and she describes her four steps, which she calls Independence Day. Newsweek also has an article on the fine art of letting go http://www.newsweek.com/parenting-how-let-your-kids-go-110095 Remember it is your child’s life and they should be allowed to realize their dreams, not yours.
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Study: Teenagers take risks to earn peer approval

29 May

 

In No one is perfect: People sometimes fail, moi said:

 

There are no perfect people, no one has a perfect life and everyone makes mistakes. Unfortunately, children do not come with instruction manuals, which give specific instructions about how to relate to that particular child. Further, for many situations there is no one and only way to resolve a problem. What people can do is learn from their mistakes and the mistakes of others. Craig Playstead has assembled a top ten list of mistakes made by parents and they should be used as a starting point in thinking about your parenting style and your family’s dynamic.

 

1)            Spoiling kids 

 

2)            Inadequate discipline

 

3)            Failing to get involved at school

 

4)            Praising mediocrity

 

5)            Not giving kids enough responsibility

 

6)            Not being a good spouse

 

7)            Setting unreal expectations

 

8)            Not teaching kids to fend for themselves

 

9)            Pushing trends on kids

 

10)           Not following through

 

Playstead also has some comments about stage parents.

 

Let kids be kids. Parents shouldn’t push their trends or adult outlook on life on their kids. Just because it was your life’s dream to marry a rich guy doesn’t mean we need to see your 4-year-old daughter in a “Future Trophy Wife” t-shirt. The same goes for the double ear piercing—that’s what you want, not them. Teaching kids about your passions is great, but let them grow up to be who they are. And yes, this goes for you pathetic stage parents as well. It’s hard enough for kids to figure out who they are in the world without you trying to turn them into what you couldn’t be.

 

Paul Tough has written a very thoughtful New York Times piece about the importance of failure in developing character, not characters. In What If the Secret to Success Is Failure? Tough talks about facing up to failure, but he is not talking about per se risky behavior.    https://drwilda.com/2011/12/06/no-one-is-perfect-people-sometimes-fail/

 

Sarah D. Sparks writes in the Education Week article, Teenagers Are Wired for Peer Approval, Study Says:

 

 

In an ongoing series of studies, Temple University researchers Laurence Steinberg and Jason M. Chein and their colleagues have found that teenagers take more risks and are more sensitive to potential rewards when they think peers are watching them—even if they consciously believe they aren’t affected by peer pressure.

 

“Although it’s very, very tempting to assign consciousness to teenagers’ motivations and behavior—to say they are doing something because ‘they don’t understand the consequences,’ ‘they think they are invincible,’ ‘they want to impress their friends’—what we think we’re finding is [risk-taking] has a much more biological basis to it,” said Mr. Chein, the director of Temple University’s Neurocognition Lab.

 

In studies discussed in the April special issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science on “the teenage brain,” the Temple researchers found 14- to 16-year-olds take significantly more risks, and are more responsive to potential rewards, when other teenagers are around than when they are by themselves.

 

“In the same way a young child is developing in the context of her family environment, a middle schooler and high schooler is developing in the context of peers,” said Kevin M. King, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Washington in Seattle, who was not part of the Temple research.

 

“There are huge changes in the social environment,” he said. “[Adolescents] are going from one classroom to many, from parents’ making all the early friendship choices to making [their] own.”

 

Focused on Rewards

 

And that new freedom to make their own choices comes just when students start taking more risks in the company of peers.

 

Mr. Steinberg, a psychology professor at Temple, and Mr. Chein presented study participants with a game in which a player was shown a card labeled with a number between one and nine, and had to guess whether the next card would be higher or lower, with players told before some rounds that they would receive a reward or no reward for a correct guess.

 

The game was rigged: A computer randomly ensured each player guessed right exactly half the time. The participants played under functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, which measures electrical activity in the brain, allowing the researchers to gauge how much players were responding to the possibility of rewards.

 

Both adults and adolescents had more brain activity for a potential reward than for none, but teenagers showed significantly higher response to potential rewards when they were told (untruthfully) that another teenager was watching from another room. Adults, by contrast, showed no change when told of being watched.

 

The findings build on a 2009 study by Mr. Steinberg that found, among 14- to 16-year-olds, younger teenagers took twice as many risks in a timed driving simulation when with peers than when tested alone. Older teenagers took 50 percent more risks when doing the simulation course with friends than alone.

 

Channeling Peer Power

 

In a study of binge drinking, Mr. King found adolescents who are deciding to drink weigh negative effects such as having a hangover or getting in a fight less than they weigh perceived social benefits, such as increased confidence and the ability to speak with others.

 

Both the Temple and University of Washington researchers are separately exploring interventions to help teenagers take a step back mentally in social situations, turning an emotional decision into a more rational one….

 

Related Stories

 

 

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/05/22/32peers.h32.html?tkn=PTVFBCFZch6sOyARMfoB9mGdbVai%2F1DepwoM&cmp=clp-edweek

 

 

Citation:

 

The Teenage Brain Peer Influences on Adolescent Decision Making

 

  1. Dustin Albert1,2,3

  2. Jason Chein4

  3. Laurence Steinberg4

 

  1. 1Center for Child and Family Policy, Duke University
  2. 2Social Science Research Institute, Duke University
  3. 3Center for Developmental Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  4. 4Department of Psychology, Temple University

 

  1. Laurence Steinberg, Temple University, Weiss Hall, Philadelphia, PA 19122 E-mail: lds@temple.edu

 

Abstract

Research efforts to account for elevated risk behavior among adolescents have arrived at an exciting new stage. Moving beyond laboratory studies of age differences in risk perception and reasoning, new approaches have shifted their focus to the influence of social and emotional factors on adolescent decision making. We review recent research suggesting that adolescent risk-taking propensity derives in part from a maturational gap between early adolescent remodeling of the brain’s socioemotional reward system and a gradual, prolonged strengthening of the cognitive-control system. Research has suggested that in adolescence, a time when individuals spend an increasing amount of time with their peers, peer-related stimuli may sensitize the reward system to respond to the reward value of risky behavior. As the cognitive-control system gradually matures over the course of the teenage years, adolescents grow in their capacity to coordinate affect and cognition and to exercise self-regulation, even in emotionally arousing situations. These capacities are reflected in gradual growth in the capacity to resist peer influence.

 

Many parents want tips about how to talk with their kids about risky behaviors and whether they should spy on their children.

 

Perhaps the best advice comes from Carleton Kendrick in the Family Education article, Spying on Kids

 

Staying connected

 

So how do you make sure your teens are on the straight and narrow? You can’t. And don’t think you can forbid them to experiment with risky behavior. That’s what they’re good at during this stage, along with testing your limits. You can help them stay healthy, safe, and secure by doing the following:

 

  • Keep communicating with your teens, even if they don’t seem to be listening. Talk about topics that interest them.

  • Respect and ask their opinions.

  • Give them privacy. That doesn’t mean you can’t knock on their door when you want to talk.

  • Set limits on their behavior based on your values and principles. They will grudgingly respect you for this.

  • Continually tell them and show them you believe in who they are rather than what they accomplish.

  • Seek professional help if your teen’s abnormal behaviors last more than three weeks.

 

A 1997 landmark adolescent health study, which interviewed over 12,000 teenagers, concluded that the single greatest protection against high-risk teenage behavior, like substance abuse and suicide, is a strong emotional connection to a parent. Tough as it may be, you should always try to connect with them. And leave the spying to James Bond. It will only drive away the children you wish to bring closer.

 

In truth, a close relationship with your child will probably be more effective than spying. Put down that Blackberry, iPhone, and Droid and try connecting with your child. You should not only know who your children’s friends are, but you should know the parents of your children’s friends. Many parents have the house where all the kids hang out because they want to know what is going on with their kids. Often parents volunteer to chauffeur kids because that gives them the opportunity to listen to what kids are talking about. It is important to know the values of the families of your kid’s friends. Do they furnish liquor to underage kids, for example?  How do they feel about teen sex and is their house the place where kids meet for sex?Lisa Frederiksen has written the excellent article, 10 Tips for Talking to Teens About Sex, Drugs & Alcohol which was posted at the Partnership for A Drug-Free America

 

So, in answer to the question should you spy on your Kids? Depends on the child. Some children are more susceptible to peer pressure and impulsive behavior than others. They will require more and possibly more intrusive direction. Others really are free range children and have the resources and judgment to make good decisions in a variety of circumstances. Even within a family there will be different needs and abilities. The difficulty for parents is to make the appropriate judgments and still give each child the feeling that they have been treated fairly. Still, for some kids, it is not out of line for parents to be snoops, they just might save the child and themselves a lot of heartache.

 

Related:

 

What parents need to know about ‘texting’                  https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/05/04/what-parents-need-to-know-about-texting/

 

Children and swearing                                                https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/04/29/children-and-swearing/

 

Does what is worn in school matter?                             https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/04/02/does-what-is-worn-in-school-matter/

 

Teen dating violence on the rise                                   https://drwilda.wordpress.com/2012/04/01/teen-dating-violence-on-the-rise/

 

 

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Mayo Clinic study: You can’t shield children from all risks

17 Mar

Moi wrote in No one is perfect: People sometimes fail:

There are no perfect people, no one has a perfect life and everyone makes mistakes. Unfortunately, children do not come with instruction manuals, which give specific instructions about how to relate to that particular child. Further, for many situations there is no one and only way to resolve a problem. What people can do is learn from their mistakes and the mistakes of others. Craig Playstead has assembled a top ten list of mistakes made by parents and they should be used as a starting point in thinking about your parenting style and your family’s dynamic.

1)            Spoiling kids 

2)            Inadequate discipline

3)            Failing to get involved at school

4)            Praising mediocrity

5)            Not giving kids enough responsibility

6)            Not being a good spouse

7)            Setting unreal expectations

8)            Not teaching kids to fend for themselves

9)            Pushing trends on kids

10)           Not following through

Playstead also has some comments about stage parents.

Let kids be kids. Parents shouldn’t push their trends or adult outlook on life on their kids. Just because it was your life’s dream to marry a rich guy doesn’t mean we need to see your 4-year-old daughter in a “Future Trophy Wife” t-shirt. The same goes for the double ear piercing—that’s what you want, not them. Teaching kids about your passions is great, but let them grow up to be who they are. And yes, this goes for you pathetic stage parents as well. It’s hard enough for kids to figure out who they are in the world without you trying to turn them into what you couldn’t be.

Paul Tough has written a very thoughtful New York Times piece about the importance of failure in developing character, not characters.

In What If the Secret to Success Is Failure? Tough writes:

Dominic Randolph can seem a little out of place at Riverdale Country School — which is odd, because he’s the headmaster. Riverdale is one of New York City’s most prestigious private schools, with a 104-year-old campus that looks down grandly on Van Cortlandt Park from the top of a steep hill in the richest part of the Bronx. On the discussion boards of UrbanBaby.com, worked-up moms from the Upper East Side argue over whether Riverdale sends enough seniors to Harvard, Yale and Princeton to be considered truly “TT” (top-tier, in UrbanBabyese), or whether it is more accurately labeled “2T” (second-tier), but it is, certainly, part of the city’s private-school elite, a place members of the establishment send their kids to learn to be members of the establishment. Tuition starts at $38,500 a year, and that’s for prekindergarten.

Randolph, by contrast, comes across as an iconoclast, a disrupter, even a bit of an eccentric. He dresses for work every day in a black suit with a narrow tie, and the outfit, plus his cool demeanor and sweep of graying hair, makes you wonder, when you first meet him, if he might have played sax in a ska band in the ’80s. (The English accent helps.) He is a big thinker, always chasing new ideas, and a conversation with him can feel like a one-man TED conference, dotted with references to the latest work by behavioral psychologists and management gurus and design theorists. When he became headmaster in 2007, he swapped offices with his secretary, giving her the reclusive inner sanctum where previous headmasters sat and remodeling the small outer reception area into his own open-concept work space, its walls covered with whiteboard paint on which he sketches ideas and slogans. One day when I visited, one wall was bare except for a white sheet of paper. On it was printed a single black question mark.

For the headmaster of an intensely competitive school, Randolph, who is 49, is surprisingly skeptical about many of the basic elements of a contemporary high-stakes American education. He did away with Advanced Placement classes in the high school soon after he arrived at Riverdale; he encourages his teachers to limit the homework they assign; and he says that the standardized tests that Riverdale and other private schools require for admission to kindergarten and to middle school are “a patently unfair system” because they evaluate students almost entirely by I.Q. “This push on tests,” he told me, “is missing out on some serious parts of what it means to be a successful human.”

The most critical missing piece, Randolph explained as we sat in his office last fall, is characterthose essential traits of mind and habit that were drilled into him at boarding school in England and that also have deep roots in American history. “Whether it’s the pioneer in the Conestoga wagon or someone coming here in the 1920s from southern Italy, there was this idea in America that if you worked hard and you showed real grit, that you could be successful,” he said. “Strangely, we’ve now forgotten that. People who have an easy time of things, who get 800s on their SAT’s, I worry that those people get feedback that everything they’re doing is great. And I think as a result, we are actually setting them up for long-term failure. When that person suddenly has to face up to a difficult moment, then I think they’re screwed, to be honest. I don’t think they’ve grown the capacities to be able to handle that….”

Whatever the dream you feel you didn’t realize, remember that was your dream, it may not be your child’s dream. https://drwilda.com/2011/12/06/no-one-is-perfect-people-sometimes-fail/

U.S. News reports on a recent Mayo Clinic study in Avoiding Scary Situations May Leave Kids More Anxious: Study:

– Children who avoid scary situations are more likely to have anxiety, according to researchers who developed a new way to assess avoidance behavior in youngsters.

The Mayo Clinic study included more than 800 children, aged 7 to 18, and used two eight-question surveys, one for parents and one for children.

The parents’ survey asks about their children’s tendencies to avoid scary situations. For example: “When your child is scared or worried about something, does he or she ask to do it later?”

The children’s survey asks them to describe their avoidance habits. For example: “When I feel scared or worried about something, I try not to go near it.”

Children who tried to avoid scary situations at the start of the study were more likely than other children to have anxiety a year later, according to the study published online March 4 in the journal Behavior Therapy. http://health.usnews.com/health-news/news/articles/2013/03/15/avoiding-scary-situations-may-leave-kids-more-anxious-study

Here is the Mayo Clinic press release:

Children Who Avoid Scary Situations Likelier to Have Anxiety, Mayo Clinic Research Finds

Monday, March 11, 2013

ROCHESTER, Minn. — Children who avoid situations they find scary are likely to have anxiety a Mayo Clinic study of more than 800 children ages 7 to 18 found. The study published this month in Behavior Therapy presents a new method of measuring avoidance behavior in young children.

The researchers developed two eight-question surveys: the Children’s Avoidance Measure Parent Report and the Children’s Avoidance Measure Self Report. The questionnaires ask details about children’s avoidance tendencies, for instance, in addressing parents, “When your child is scared or worried about something, does he or she ask to do it later?” It also asks children to describe their passive avoidance habits. For example: “When I feel scared or worried about something, I try not to go near it.”

One of the most surprising findings was that measuring avoidance could also predict children’s development of anxiety. Children who participated in the study showed stable anxiety scores after a year had passed, but those who described avoidance behaviors at the onset tended to be more anxious a year later.

“This new approach may enable us to identify kids who are at risk for an anxiety disorder,” says lead author Stephen Whiteside, Ph.D., a pediatric psychologist with the Mayo Clinic Children’s Center. “And further, because cognitive behavior therapy focuses on decreasing avoidance behaviors, our approach may also provide a means to evaluate whether current treatment strategies work they we think they do.”

In 25 anxious children surveyed following cognitive behavior therapy that slowly exposed children to the situations that caused fear, the avoidance scores from surveys of their parents declined by half. This likely indicates that part of the reason they’re getting better is that they’re no longer avoiding things, Dr. Whiteside says.

“Even after controlling for their baseline anxiety, those who avoided had more anxiety than kids who didn’t avoid,” Dr. Whiteside says. “That was consistent with the model of how anxiety disorders develop. Kids who avoid fearful situations don’t have the opportunity to face their fears and don’t learn that their fears are manageable.”

Most children experience fears of one kind or another, but for some children those fears become heightened as part of an anxiety disorder. When children begin to avoid scary situations, anxiety disorders can become particularly disabling, preventing participation in everyday activities. Even though several methods exist to gauge children’s fearful thinking and symptoms like feeling nervous, clinicians have had few tools until now to measure avoidance behaviors.

Dr. Whiteside is the developer of the Mayo Clinic Anxiety Coach, an iPhone app that helps individuals learn about anxiety, gauge and manage their symptoms, and make lists of activities to help them face their fears. The study was funded by Mayo Clinic Department of Psychiatry and Psychology.

###

About Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is a nonprofit worldwide leader in medical care, research and education for people from all walks of life. For more information, visit MayoClinic.com or MayoClinic.org/news.

Journalists can become a member of the Mayo Clinic News Network for the latest health, science and research news and access to video, audio, text and graphic elements that can be downloaded or embedded.

Citation:

Behavior Therapy

Available online 4 March 2013

In Press, Accepted ManuscriptNote to users

Development of child- and parent-report measures of behavioral avoidance related to childhood anxiety disorders

  • a Mayo Clinic
  • b University of Missouri, Kansas City
  • c University of Missouri

Purchase $31.50

Abstract

The current report describes three studies conducted to develop 8-item child- and parent-report measures to further the understanding of the role of behavioral avoidance in the development, maintenance and treatment of childhood anxiety disorders. Participants included both clinical (N=463; ages 8 to 12) and community (N=421; ages 7 to 18) samples of children and their parents from primarily Caucasian intact families. Follow-up data were collected from 104 families in the community sample. Overall, the measures were internally consistent and related to anxiety, distress, and alternative measures of avoidance in both samples. Parent report of children’s behavioral avoidance evidenced the strongest psychometric properties, differentiated among clinical and community populations, and most importantly, predicted children’s anxiety at least eight months later over and above initial anxiety ratings. Moreover, decreases in avoidance were associated with successful exposure therapy. These results are consistent with the role of behavioral avoidance in the development of anxiety and provide a efficient tool for assessing the role avoidance in clinical and research settings.

Highlights

Avoidance is theorized to contribute to childhood anxiety disorders. ► We developed child- and parent-report measures of behavioral avoidance. ► Both measures demonstrated good psychometric properties. ► Parent-report predicted changes in child anxiety over a one-year period. ► Avoidance decreased with successful treatment.

Moi wrote in You call your kid prince or princess, society calls them ‘brat’:

Here is today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Urban Dictionary defines brat:

1.A really annoying person.
2.A person that is spoiled rotten.
3.An annoying child that wants something that no one will get for him/her. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=brat

Most folks have had the experience of shopping in a store like Target and observing a child acting out or screaming at the top of his or her lungs. Another chance for observation of family interaction is dining out at a restaurant when children may act out. Without knowing the history, it is difficult to assess the root cause. Still, an observation of how the parent(s) deal with the tantrum is instructive about who is in control and where the power resides in a family. It appears that in many families the parents are reluctant to be parents and to teach their children appropriate behavior, boundaries, and manners.

http://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/2012/10/19/you-call-your-kid-prince-or-princess-society-calls-them-brat/

Where information leads to Hope. ©                 Dr. Wilda.com

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‘Redshirting’ kindergarteners

5 Mar

Morley Safer of 60 Minutes reported the excellent story, Redshirting: Holding kids back from kindergarten:

Kindergarten “redshirting” is on the rise. That’s the practice of parents holding their children back from kindergarten so they can start school at age 6 – older, bigger, and more mature than their 5-year-old peers. Some research shows that redshirting will give these youngsters an edge in school, and maybe even in life. But is it fair? After all, as Morley Safer reports, boys are twice as likely to be held back as girls. Whites more than minorities. And the rich redshirt their kids more than the poor.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57390128/?tag=currentVideoInfo;videoMetaInfo

Web Extras

Parents consider “redshirting” in the hope that they will give their children an advantage.

Tom Matlock writes in the Huffington Post article, Redshirting Kindergarten:

It reminded me of what a kindergarten teacher at a private school in Boston recently told me: “I was cornered by an applicant’s father who asked that if he sent his child to me in pre-K, could I promise that his child would get into to Harvard in 14 years.”

Most particularly it made me think of the increasing number of families who are holding back their sons at the age of five, particularly in private schools, in order to increase their competitive advantage, following, perhaps without knowing it consciously, the line of thinking that has been used to produce professional hockey players.

“I got paid $100 for that shot,” one of my players told me as we warmed up for our basketball game, referring to a close-range layup the prior week. No, I’m not an NBA coach. The player wasn’t referring to some elaborate point shaving scheme cooked up by would-be sports agents to high school prodigies. The player was six years old.

The kid’s parents had paid him to make a basket. I was floored. Speechless. He said it in passing like it didn’t really matter, like even he thought it was kind of weird.

Pretty soon the boys were laughing and chasing each other around cones I had set up, trying without much success to dribble the miniature balls while playing tag. Clearly, having fun was way more important to this kid than any parent’s $100 payout. But it stuck with me as a sign of something profoundly wrong with our generation of parents, and a potential danger to the generation of kids, especially boys, that we are raising.

It reminded me of what a kindergarten teacher at a private school in Boston recently told me: “I was cornered by an applicant’s father who asked that if he sent his child to me in pre-K, could I promise that his child would get into to Harvard in 14 years.”

Most particularly it made me think of the increasing number of families who are holding back their sons at the age of five, particularly in private schools, in order to increase their competitive advantage, following, perhaps without knowing it consciously, the line of thinking that has been used to produce professional hockey players.

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell discusses the odd distribution of birth months among NHL players. In Canada, youth hockey is a highly policed sport where players are registered strictly by calendar year. The oldest, therefore, at each level are those born earliest in the year. Just by virtue of age they tend to be bigger and stronger. Gladwell argues convincingly that a disproportionate number of successful hockey players end up being born in the first few months of the year (see graph below). This selection process starts as early as age 8, and the effect persists all the way up to the NHL. It has been very consistent over time.

So if it is true of youth hockey players in Canada why wouldn’t it be true of kindergarten boys in Boston, or San Francisco, whose parents are hoping they will grow up to be President one day. That makes sense right?

I asked one admissions officer what he says to the parents of boys entering kindergarten about the idea of holding their son back. He said, “I often tell parents that if allowing their children to be on the older end, rather than the younger end, results in any of the following: starting for a sports team as opposed to sitting on the bench; being one of the first to drive as opposed to one of the last (huge social advantage); the possibility they will be an A and B student as opposed to a B and C student; (for the dads) getting the girl or not getting the girl, then it is worth considering.” (All the sources for this article asked to remain anonymous given the sensitive nature of their day-to-day relationships with children and their parents.)

But a different admissions officer disagreed strongly: “The trend is disgusting, but it fits with any arms race or conflict cycle model. I’ve been wondering more broadly about what age we push kids through all the school factories. All they have in common is age and since they all develop at different ages, that system often makes little sense anyway.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tom-matlack/redshirting-kindergarten_1_b_859824.html

There is a huge debate regarding “redshirting.”

Sam Wang, an associate professor of molecular biology and neuroscience at Princeton, Sandra Aamodt, a former editor in chief of Nature Neuroscience. Wang and Aamodt have written “Welcome to Your Child’s Brain: How the Mind Grows From Conception to College.” They have written an interesting New York Times opinion piece, Delay Kindergarten at Your Child’s Peril:

Teachers may encourage redshirting because more mature children are easier to handle in the classroom and initially produce better test scores than their younger classmates. In a class of 25, the average difference is equivalent to going from 13th place to 11th. This advantage fades by the end of elementary school, though, and disadvantages start to accumulate. In high school, redshirted children are less motivated and perform less well. By adulthood, they are no better off in wages or educational attainment — in fact, their lifetime earnings are reduced by one year.

In short, the analogy to athletics does not hold. The question we should ask instead is: What approach gives children the greatest opportunity to learn?

Parents who want to give their young children an academic advantage have a powerful tool: school itself. In a large-scale study at 26 Canadian elementary schools, first graders who were young for their year made considerably more progress in reading and math than kindergartners who were old for their year (but just two months younger). In another large study, the youngest fifth-graders scored a little lower than their classmates, but five points higher in verbal I.Q., on average, than fourth-graders of the same age. In other words, school makes children smarter.

The benefits of being younger are even greater for those who skip a grade, an option available to many high-achieving children. Compared with nonskippers of similar talent and motivation, these youngsters pursue advanced degrees and enter professional school more often. Acceleration is a powerful intervention, with effects on achievement that are twice as large as programs for the gifted. Grade-skippers even report more positive social and emotional feelings.

These differences may come from the increased challenges of a demanding environment. Learning is maximized not by getting all the answers right, but by making errors and correcting them quickly. In this respect, children benefit from being close to the limits of their ability. Too low an error rate becomes boring, while too high an error rate is unrewarding. A delay in school entry may therefore still be justified if children are very far behind their peers, leaving a gap too broad for school to allow effective learning.

Parents want to provide the best environment for their child, but delaying school is rarely the right approach. The first six years of life are a time of tremendous growth and change in the developing brain. Synapses, the connections between brain cells, are undergoing major reorganization. Indeed, a 4-year-old’s brain uses more energy than it ever will again. Brain development cannot be put on pause, so the critical question is how to provide the best possible context to support it.

For most children, that context is the classroom. Disadvantaged children have the most to lose from delayed access to school. For low-income children, every month of additional schooling closes one-tenth of the gap between them and more advantaged students. Even without redshirting, a national trend is afoot to move back the cutoff birthdays for the start of school. Since the early 1970s, the date has shifted by an average of six weeks, to about Oct. 14 from about Nov. 25. This has the effect of making children who would have been the youngest in one grade the oldest in the next-lower grade; it hurts children from low-income families the most.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/25/opinion/sunday/dont-delay-your-kindergartners-start.html

Most parents no matter their class or ethnicity want to give their children a good start in life. A key building block to a solid education foundation is early childhood learning. There are many different considerations. The overall considerations should center on the quality of the early childhood learning and whether it meets the needs of the child. For some, those concerns take a back seat to whether the preschool is the “right” place rather than the appropriate place. “Right” meaning where the parents and child can mingle with the “right” sort or type or meet the parent’s definition of a successful life. The focus of my comment is to urge parents to look at what will in the long term make a happy, healthy, well adjusted child who is secure enough to take on the challenges of life. Nothing in life is guaranteed, even to the most well connected. How one copes with survival in a world that often presents challenges, which upend what people thought they knew, depends on internal fortitude and a sense of security.  

Resources:

Kindergarten Redshirting http://www.education.com/topic/kindergarten-redshirting/

The Redshirting Debate Continues http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/26/the-redshirting-debate-continues/

The Pros and Cons of Holding Out http://www.wceruw.org/news/coverStories/pros_cons_holding_out.php

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

No one is perfect: People sometimes fail

6 Dec

A New York Daily News blog discussed the top ten most heinous stage parents and here is the list:

1. Joseph Jackson

2. Joe Simpson

3. Gertrude Temple

4. Kit Culkin

5. Dina Lohan

6. Rose Hovick

7. Jaid Barrymore

8. Wanda Holloway

9. Patsy Ramsey

10. Jeff Archuleta

Were you on the list? If not, don’t breathe a sigh of relief because some of your personal characteristics and over the top intensity may define you as a stage parent even if your interests are in sports, the arts or another activity where successful competition can have big rewards. The Urban Dictionary has 52 definitions which capture the essence of what a stage parent is. Time has a good discussion of stage parenting by using the example of Richard Williams the father of tennis stars Venus and Serena.

Types of Parenting Styles and Families

Lynette C. Magaña, Judith A. Myers-Walls and Dee Love discuss the different styles of parent and child relationships and the type of parent behavior associated with each relationship type.Their comments about parents are very important. Richard Niolan reviews an article by Bamrind, which was published in the Journal of Early Adolescence. He describes Bamrind’s Model. Each of the parent types are described by Nioland. Whether they are called stage parents, out of control little league dads or over achieving soccer moms, the parents share certain traits and characteristics of an authoritarian parenting style. Nioland describes the authoritarian parenting style:

These parents are highly directive, value obedience and are more controlling, show less warmth and nurturance and more distance and aloofness, and discourage discussion and debate. They are high on demandingness but low on responsiveness, maintaining order, communicating expectations, and monitoring the children carefully. Their children have a multitude of problems, and are less individuated and show lower internalization of pro-social values, ego development, and perform more poorly on cognitive tests and see their parents as more restrictive. They were also more likely to come from divorced families. Boys from single authoritarian homes had more problems than boys from two parent homes.

Does this parenting style describe anyone you know?

Ten Top Mistakes Parents Make

There are no perfect people, no one has a perfect life and everyone makes mistakes. Unfortunately, children do not come with instruction manuals, which give specific instructions about how to relate to that particular child. Further, for many situations there is no one and only way to resolve a problem. What people can do is learn from their mistakes and the mistakes of others. Craig Playstead has assembled a top ten list of mistakes made by parents and they should be used as a starting point in thinking about your parenting style and your family’s dynamic.

1)            Spoiling kids 

2)            Inadequate discipline

3)            Failing to get involved at school

4)            Praising mediocrity

5)            Not giving kids enough responsibility

6)            Not being a good spouse

7)            Setting unreal expectations

8)            Not teaching kids to fend for themselves

9)            Pushing trends on kids

10)           Not following through

Playstead also has some comments about stage parents.

Let kids be kids. Parents shouldn’t push their trends or adult outlook on life on their kids. Just because it was your life’s dream to marry a rich guy doesn’t mean we need to see your 4-year-old daughter in a “Future Trophy Wife” t-shirt. The same goes for the double ear piercing—that’s what you want, not them. Teaching kids about your passions is great, but let them grow up to be who they are. And yes, this goes for you pathetic stage parents as well. It’s hard enough for kids to figure out who they are in the world without you trying to turn them into what you couldn’t be.

Paul Tough has written a very thoughtful New York Times piece about the importance of failure in developing character, not characters.

In What If the Secret to Success Is Failure? Tough writes:

Dominic Randolph can seem a little out of place at Riverdale Country School — which is odd, because he’s the headmaster. Riverdale is one of New York City’s most prestigious private schools, with a 104-year-old campus that looks down grandly on Van Cortlandt Park from the top of a steep hill in the richest part of the Bronx. On the discussion boards of UrbanBaby.com, worked-up moms from the Upper East Side argue over whether Riverdale sends enough seniors to Harvard, Yale and Princeton to be considered truly “TT” (top-tier, in UrbanBabyese), or whether it is more accurately labeled “2T” (second-tier), but it is, certainly, part of the city’s private-school elite, a place members of the establishment send their kids to learn to be members of the establishment. Tuition starts at $38,500 a year, and that’s for prekindergarten.

Randolph, by contrast, comes across as an iconoclast, a disrupter, even a bit of an eccentric. He dresses for work every day in a black suit with a narrow tie, and the outfit, plus his cool demeanor and sweep of graying hair, makes you wonder, when you first meet him, if he might have played sax in a ska band in the ’80s. (The English accent helps.) He is a big thinker, always chasing new ideas, and a conversation with him can feel like a one-man TED conference, dotted with references to the latest work by behavioral psychologists and management gurus and design theorists. When he became headmaster in 2007, he swapped offices with his secretary, giving her the reclusive inner sanctum where previous headmasters sat and remodeling the small outer reception area into his own open-concept work space, its walls covered with whiteboard paint on which he sketches ideas and slogans. One day when I visited, one wall was bare except for a white sheet of paper. On it was printed a single black question mark.

For the headmaster of an intensely competitive school, Randolph, who is 49, is surprisingly skeptical about many of the basic elements of a contemporary high-stakes American education. He did away with Advanced Placement classes in the high school soon after he arrived at Riverdale; he encourages his teachers to limit the homework they assign; and he says that the standardized tests that Riverdale and other private schools require for admission to kindergarten and to middle school are “a patently unfair system” because they evaluate students almost entirely by I.Q. “This push on tests,” he told me, “is missing out on some serious parts of what it means to be a successful human.”

The most critical missing piece, Randolph explained as we sat in his office last fall, is character — those essential traits of mind and habit that were drilled into him at boarding school in England and that also have deep roots in American history. “Whether it’s the pioneer in the Conestoga wagon or someone coming here in the 1920s from southern Italy, there was this idea in America that if you worked hard and you showed real grit, that you could be successful,” he said. “Strangely, we’ve now forgotten that. People who have an easy time of things, who get 800s on their SAT’s, I worry that those people get feedback that everything they’re doing is great. And I think as a result, we are actually setting them up for long-term failure. When that person suddenly has to face up to a difficult moment, then I think they’re screwed, to be honest. I don’t think they’ve grown the capacities to be able to handle that….”

Whatever the dream you feel you didn’t realize, remember that was your dream, it may not be your child’s dream.

Helping Your Child Develop Self-Esteem

The Child Development Institute has a good article about how to help your child develop healthy self esteem. A discussion of values is often difficult, but the question the stage parent, over the top little league father, or out of control soccer mom should ask of themselves is what do you really and truly value? What is more important, your child’s happiness and self esteem or your fulfilling an unfinished part of your life through your child? Joe Jackson, the winner of the most heinous stage parent award saw his dreams fulfilled with the price of the destruction of his children’s lives. Most people with a healthy dose of self esteem and sanity would say this is too high a price. 

Letting Go

Sarah Mahoney wrote a good article at Parents.Com about four ways to let go of your kids and she describes her four steps, which she calls Independence Day. Newsweek also has an article on the fine art of letting go  Remember it is your child’s life and they should be allowed to realize their dreams, not yours.

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©