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How To Stop Nitpicking

Posted 4 days ago

Q: A friend recently pointed out that I constantly nitpick my nine-year-old son’s behavior. Her words were, “You’re on his case all the time.” Why do I nitpick and how can I stop? A: ...

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Just 'Stop It!'

Posted 1 week ago

I often find myself telling parents that they need to stop doing something that is counterproductive and, in most cases, contributing significantly to whatever parenting problem is bedeviling...

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Fixing Our 'Parent-View'

Posted 3 weeks ago

Most of the problems today’s parents are experiencing in the course of raising children are due to a faulty “parent-view.” Just as one’s worldview consists of attitudes, values, and expectations...

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Why? Because I Said So

Posted on 9/22/2021

When I was a graduate student, one of the parenting memes then emerging from within the mental health professional community had it that “children deserved explanations.” The flip side of that...

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How To Help Your Child Get More Grit

Posted on 9/7/2021

It’s all over the web, that “grit” thing. Seems like every day, I get some promo for a webinar on how to get more grit, project more grit, or get in touch with your inner grit. So, allow me to...

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Psychological Parenting Is a Prescription for Enabling

Posted on 8/24/2021

Q: In your column, you have often spoken of “psychological parenting.” What, exactly, do you mean by that? A: Answering your question requires that we first unpack the word “parenting,” the...

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Talking About Children’s Fears Can Intensify Them

Posted on 8/17/2021

A stalwart friend recently called my attention to an online article titled “Two Things to Say to a Child Returning to In-Person School (& Two You Should Avoid).” I am choosing to provide...

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With Parenting Young Adult Children, Less Is More

Posted on 8/3/2021

It seems to be generally true that as one gets older, the habit of reminiscing develops. Looking back seems to be a function of getting closer to the final curtain. The closer the latter, the more...

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How To Stop Kids From Living Out Soap Operas

Posted on 7/6/2021

Will my profession, psychology, ever get it? Beginning in the 1960s, the psychological mainstream asserted that nearly all child mental health problems were caused by parents who...

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Parenting Quiz: True or False?

Posted on 6/29/2021

We interrupt this weekly column with a three-question quiz, following which you will find the correct answers. 1. True or False? Telling a child that her feelings concerning a decision you...

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The Better the Husband, the Better the Dad

Posted on 6/15/2021

Several columns past, I took to my bully pulpit and excoriated men who are married with children for being fathers first and husbands a distant second (maybe even third behind sports fans). My...

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Kids Don’t Need Curing, They Need Correcting

Posted on 5/18/2021

No small number of today’s parents view their children through psychological lenses, especially when it comes to misbehavior. Instead of regarding a given misbehavior as simply an error that needs...

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The Futility of Reasoning With Children

Posted on 5/4/2021

Many if not most if not almost all of today’s parents believe in magic words. They do so because the mental health professional community has for fifty years or so told them that children can be...

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Be the Best Father by Being the Best Husband You Can Be

Posted on 4/27/2021

Guys! Guys! Look, your wives, bless their hearts, are having enough trouble putting their children and priorities into proper perspective without you adding to the muddle. Keep it straight,...

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The Drama of a Child's Feelings

Posted on 4/20/2021

One of the more unfortunate consequences of relying on advice from mental health “experts” concerning parenting matters has been a one-dimensional understanding of child discipline. Because of the...

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Mom, Stop Checking Kid’s Homework

Posted on 4/6/2021

Many times have I warned parents of the pitfalls of micromanaging their children’s academic responsibilities lest said children deduce that the responsibilities in question are not theirs at all...

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Micromanagers Are Their Own Worst Enemies

Posted on 3/30/2021

To most folks, micromanagement has to do with tasks or performance. The micromanaging parent, for example, is generally thought of as one who hovers over a child’s homework or academics in...

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Smartphone Addiction Is Real

Posted on 3/10/2021

Concerning my prior use of the word “addiction” in association with smart phones and children (including teens), some people think I am speaking figuratively. To set the record straight: No, I am...

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What Is COVID Parenting?

Posted on 3/2/2021

What, pray tell, is COVID parenting? I need to know because over the past few months, several journalists have asked if I have any COVID-parenting suggestions. I went online and, sure enough, a...

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Shy Child? Don’t Fret About It

Posted on 2/16/2021

Researchers have found what many personal testimonies will confirm: most shy children, even the most painfully shy of them, are not shy adults. The progression from introversion to extroversion...

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Discipline vs. Punishment

Posted on 2/9/2021

Misusing terminology is not simply a matter of semantics. A person who confuses the meaning of words is likely to behave accordingly. That occurred to me during a conversation with...

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The Correlation Between Food and Behavior

Posted on 1/26/2021

A headache does not mean one has a brain tumor, but some brain tumors do cause headaches. Likewise, ADHD behaviors do not mean one has a food allergy, albeit some food allergies...

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The More You Try To Make Child Happy, the More Unhappy They Will Be

Posted on 1/19/2021

Making children happy became a parenting goal in the early 1970s. The paradox, as everyone with a modicum of commonsense knows, is that the more effort parents put into making a child happy, the...

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After 45 Years, Still Advocating for Old-Fashioned Parenting

Posted on 1/12/2021

2021 marks the forty-fifth year I’ve been writing this column. I’ve been told it is the longest-running syndicated column written continuously by one author. That takes “Dear Abby” out of...

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Today’s Kids Suffer a Lack of Common Sense in Their Lives

Posted on 12/22/2020

A journalist asks, “What is the biggest challenge facing today’s children?” “The real world,” I said. For the last fifty years or so, good parenting has been defined...

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'Hand in Hand' Parenting is Pure Psychobabble

Posted on 12/8/2020

“Hand in Hand” parenting is the latest iteration of progressive (nouveau, unverified) childrearing. I became aware of HIH several weeks ago, courtesy of a grandmother whose daughter and son-in-law...

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Don't Be Afraid of Your Children

Posted on 12/1/2020

“Are you afraid of your child/children?” I query folks who testify to children who frequently engage in flagrant antisocial behavior – tantrums, brazen disrespect, and belligerent disobedience...

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Moodiness Is Merely a Bad Emotional Habit

Posted on 10/27/2020

Living with an emotionally dramatic child is no fun. They throw wet blankets over nearly every family gathering or outing. Little is right in their lives and attempts to cheer them up generally...

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Handle Split Custody Parenting Issues With Grace

Posted on 9/14/2020

Q: My 13-year-old son’s grades and overall respect for me and other adults – teachers, in particular – began going downhill last year (eighth grade), even before the shutdown. He began school this...

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Don't Ask Them, Tell Them

Posted on 9/8/2020

A grandmother in Arkansas says her adult children have great difficulty telling their children what to do. They turn instructions – more accurately, what they think are instructions – into...

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Where We All Went Wrong

Posted on 8/25/2020

My profession, psychology, began demonizing traditional childrearing in the late 1960s. I was in graduate school at the time and on fire for the promise that the proper use of psychological...

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Forgive Today's Parents, for They Know Not What They Do

Posted on 7/28/2020

I recently received a paean to my generation – the so-called “boomers” – that has been circulating on the Internet for some time now. It recalls and celebrates the freedom we enjoyed as children...

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Are Parents Responsible for the How Their Kids Turn Out?

Posted on 7/7/2020

Are parents responsible for the sort of people their children become? That’s this week’s question, and the answer is no, albeit equivocally. Several parents have recently written me...

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Is There a Child and Teen Mental Health Crisis?

Posted on 6/30/2020

I have long maintained that the significant per-capita increase in child and adolescent mental health problems since the 1960s – a ten-fold increase in suicide, for example – is due to the...

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The Greatest and Most Painful of Gifts

Posted on 6/2/2020

In 1972, a Stanford University psychologist conducted a study in which young children, individually, were offered either a small but immediate reward (a marshmallow or a pretzel) or a doubled...

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Appreciate the Odd Among Us

Posted on 5/26/2020

I have come up with a new psychological diagnosis, one that I won’t, however, be submitting for approval to the powers that be: simply, odd. My “odd” is to be distinguished from ODD, the acronym...

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The Value of a Reward

Posted on 5/19/2020

Psychologist B. F. Skinner, the formulator of behavior modification theory, was attempting to prove that the same principles that govern the behavior of amoeba, planaria, rats, dogs, and monkeys...

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‘Good Mommy Club’ Does No Favors for Kids

Posted on 5/12/2020

The biggest problem in the life of today’s all-too typical mother is herself. She is her own worst enemy. Them’s fightin’ words, I know, but please, hold the tomatoes and other vegetables and bear...

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Keep It Simple With Your Kids During Quarantine

Posted on 4/14/2020

One website is titled “How to Cope with Kids During Coronavirus.” Another, featuring a staged photo of an obviously frazzled mom with a toddler on her lap, tells the reader that “Parents are...

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The Problem With 'Parenting'

Posted on 4/7/2020

I am convinced that “parenting” causes otherwise rational people – people whose thought processes are not typically driven by emotion – to lose their minds. If that is not the case, then why, ever...

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More on Picky Eaters

Posted on 3/31/2020

Per the old Chinese saying, “May you live in interesting times,” it may be that the most interesting of times are those when people do not want to hear the truth – as in the present, or so it...

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Keep Calm and Carry On

Posted on 3/24/2020

Vital to a child’s sense of well-being are parents who act competent to provide adequate provision and protection under any and all circumstances. I often refer to that obligation...

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The Cure for Picky Eating Is Not Therapy

Posted on 3/17/2020

Blaise Pascal (1623 – 1662) said there is no idea so bizarre that a philosopher has not advanced it. These days, the philosophers in question are psychologists and the bizarre ideas are their...

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Proper Discipline of a Child Is an Act of Love for One’s Neighbor

Posted on 3/10/2020

I’ve learned a new word! My daughter informs me that according to some mothers I am guilty of “mom-shaming” and should be ashamed of myself. I am an unashamed mom-shamer because I happen to...

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School Anti-Bullying Policies Are a Farce

Posted on 3/3/2020

Q: We homeschooled our son through the sixth grade. This past fall, per his wishes, we sent him to a public school for the seventh grade. Last week, he was attacked by the class bully. This...

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The Biggest Mistakes Parents Make (and How to Stop Making Them!) - Part 2

Posted on 2/11/2020

This is the second in a series of three columns on the Biggest Mistakes Parents Make (and How to Stop Making Them!). Last week, I identified giving children explanations for parental instructions,...

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The Biggest Mistakes Parents Make (and How to Stop Making Them!) - Part 1

Posted on 2/4/2020

One of the “secrets” to a happy, healthy emotional life is to identify one’s bad, nonproductive habits and replace them with habits – slowly built – that are functional. That same principle is of...

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Common Sense Comes From Heart, Not Head

Posted on 1/28/2020

Q: I’m new to reading you, but it appears that you don’t have much in common with other psychologists. You don’t agree much with their approach to children and parenting. Correct? A: ...

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Punishment Driven by Emotion Accomplishes Nothing

Posted on 1/21/2020

Q: Your recent series on punishment was thought-provoking. I agree children should have consequences when they misbehave. Nonetheless, would you please clarify when punishment becomes excessive?...

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Punishing Children for Bad Behavior Is Not Bad Parenting

Posted on 1/7/2020

This is the last (for a while, anyway) of three columns in which I take on the absurd notion that punishing children for bad behavior is bad parenting. There is commonsense and there is nonsense...

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