How Can We Help Children Bounce Back?

Bounce Back shutterstock_53916214All children, even the most fortunate, suffer emotional injuries. At home, in school and on the playground, all children experience disappointment, frustration and failure; criticism and disapproval; and exclusion by peers. All children experience moments when they feel discouraged and alone, even unloved.

How to Get Your Child to Talk to You

Talking shutterstock_12085573“How was school today?” “Good.”

“What did you do?” “Stuff.”

Why don’t children want to talk with us about their bad feelings? Why are they so often defensive and uncommunicative, unwilling to even report mundane events of the day?

How Can We Help Children Become “Upstanders” to Bullying and Cruelty

shutterstock BullyingEmily Bazelon’s Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy is a remarkably thoughtful and balanced study of the problem of bullying. Bazelon presents sensitive, insightful portraits of both bullies and victims, and the complex circumstances of their lives.

What Science Can Teach Us About Being Better Parents – And What It Can’t

What Science Can...Bruce Feiler has written an excellent new book, The Secrets of Happy Families. Dissatisfied with much of the advice offered to parents by therapists and family counselors, Feiler turns, instead, to contemporary research in a variety of fields. He consults experts on successful organizations – in business, sports, and the military – in search of the “ingredients” of family harmony and resilience.

In Defense of Parents: A Child Therapist’s Dissent

Child on Bicycle shutterstock_96898810

Perhaps it has always been this way, but recently it seems that parents are under attack. The criticisms come from all sides. We are over-involved or overly permissive. We fail to teach traditions and values. We over-diagnose, over-medicate, and over-accommodate our kids, often to excuse our own poor parenting.

Positiveness Part II: Encouragement, Appreciation, and Pride

Listen for the “beautiful sound” and the helpful moment.

Last month, I discussed ways that parents can strengthen positive feelings in their relationships with their children. In today’s post, I will offer additional recommendations for how we can maintain an attitude of “positiveness,” even when we are frustrated by children’s challenging behaviors.

Nurturing a Spirit of Caring and Generosity in Children

How can we nurture a child’s feelings of empathy and concern for others?

At this holiday season, I would like to offer a few thoughts on how we can help nurture in our children a spirit of generosity and concern for others. I cannot write this post, however, without first expressing my deepest condolences to the families of Newtown, Connecticut, for their unimaginable and unbearable loss.

Positiveness, Part I: Strengthening Family Relationships

How to engage children’s interests and support their strengths.

Sharing-Interests2aMost parents would agree that children are likely to thrive in a family atmosphere of “positiveness” – when parents are able to be supportive and encouraging, and nurture in their children positive expectations for their futures. (1) In the daily life of many families, however, positiveness has been eroded.

Helping Children Succeed

Principles of positive character development in children

Paul Tough has written an excellent book on the importance of character to children’s academic success (How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012). Tough documents the devastating effects of adverse childhood experiences on children’s ability to cope with stress, and he reports on recent educational programs to help students develop “non-cognitive” skills – grit, optimism, curiosity, zest, social intelligence, gratitude, and self-control – that are essential to success in life.

Winning and Losing

Helping children learn to accept defeat gracefully

In this week’s post, I would like to share some thoughts on an important aspect of children’s emotional development and a source of distress in many parent-child relationships – winning and losing at games.