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Summer Camp Blues

 

Handling reluctance, nervousness and homesickness

Each year parents in New York pay thousands of dollars to send their children to day or sleep -away camp. Most children go willingly and happily. For others, however, the scenario is different.  The day camp child...

The intellectual child gains power by thinking through issues prior to presentation and having firm arguments ready ahead of time. These children are resourceful, intelligent, logical and, more often than not, outwardly respectful towards their parents as they proceed to find chinks in the armor of their parents' values. Let's look at an example to clarify.

At fourteen, Sue wanted to start dating. Her parents had already told her, however, that she had to be sixteen, so she began gathering information with which she could plead her case. She...

In other articles I have often discussed how important it is for parents to examine their values and to transmit those values to their children by setting limits for them. Many parents begin with good intentions in this regard, only to find that children of today are very clever at negotiating, manipulating and wheedling their way out of those very limits. In the end, the children wind up behaving in the way they'd like, and the parents wind up bewildered and helpless, at a loss to explain how they ended up "giving in" once again.

One of the most...

Some of the common responses that I hear when a child, tween, or teen identifies as transgender are: “It’s probably just a phase” or “They’re probably just making a political statement” or “They’re just experimenting.”

First of all, the use of the word “just” as in “they’re just experimenting” is patronizing.  It implies that you have all the facts and know better than the other person what their identity is.  So let’s take that word out and look at each response separately to unravel why these are not only inaccurate, but also...

ACCEPTING YOUR CHILD AS THEY JOURNEY THROUGH LIFE

Many years ago, a friend came to me after her son had been “flagged” at school for behaviors that seemed atypical.  Following a neuropsychological exam, she was told that her son was on the autistic spectrum.  She was devastated when she revealed this to me. We talked for quite a long time and then I asked her this question: “Did you love Simon* yesterday?” She looked startled and stammered, “Yes, of course.” I responded by saying, “He is exactly the same today as he was yesterday.  Absolutely nothing has changed. ...

The first in a series of blogs about the importance of accepting our children for who they are.

When my daughter was born, she shattered the myths that I had held dear prior to pregnancy.  I dreamed of perfect breast feeding, idyllic middle of the night feedings, cuddling and gazing into each other’s eyes with a love born of her mere existence.

I was in for a rude awakening.  She was fussy.  She was hungry all the time.  When my breasts were wrung out like wet dishrags and limp from use, she still wanted more.  I could swear that she never slept. An idea...

Nothing is clearer to me than the importance of raising children to become independent adults. And, as a parent, there is nothing more bittersweet. My daughter just graduated from college, and will turn 22 years old next week. For her graduation, we put together a DVD of photos beginning with her birth and ending with those we had taken right before she graduated. I'll be honest: I wept a lot during the process. It was just yesterday that she was born. At least that's how it feels. And today, she's an independent young woman living in a different State from us, doing research for "Autism...

All across the country, parents are still feeling the intense emotional effects of the Colorado incident in April. This massacre, the shooting in Oregon last year, and other similar tragedies have raised the questions: "Why? Will this happen to us? How can we prevent this?" The President proposed one solution: that we must teach children to talk about their feelings of anger rather than act upon them. Authorities have likewise suggested a cause for this type of incident: that when children don't feel accepted by their peers they're more likely to form cliques or gangs, and to behave...

Jenna's mom paid a significant amount of money for Jenna to attend day camp. Jenna was enthusiastic, but also anxious. The night before camp began, she started complaining of a stomach ache. She is so nervous each morning that she begins hysterically crying and throws up.

Max's dad thought a sports camp would be just the thing. He often said that Max was born with a baseball bat in his hand. Yet now that camp has begun, Max becomes hysterical about a half hour before the bus comes. So far, Dad has been able to coerce him on to the bus, but wonders if he's doing the right...

On Monday, March 2, I was awakened at 6:15 a.m. by the exuberant shout of my 15 year old son. “They closed school! It’s a snow day! Woo hoo!” Now the fact that New York City closed Public Schools is nothing short of a minor miracle so it’s no wonder that my son was ecstatic: he’d only had one other snow day since he began school at age 4!

This particular snow day got me thinking. What, exactly, is it that’s so exciting about a snow day? There’s no question that it’s better than the movies, more exciting than a planned vacation. But why? I think that it’s precisely because it is...

"My 20 month old daughter started to cry and when I went in, there was my 5 year old son standing there. She had a red welt on her forehead and I was convinced he'd hit her, but he denied it. I began interrogating him, and wound up accusing him of hitting her. I found out later that she'd hit her head going under a table. I felt so guilty!"

"I walked into my infant son's room where he was lying in his playpen. My 3 year old son had taken every item of clothing out of the dresser drawers and piled it on top of my four month old. I was horrified!"...

We've all heard that team sports are excellent for our children in many respects. They can help build team work, self-esteem, and confidence. Children's gross motor skills and coordination improve. They can learn the value of working together with others for a common goal. Sometimes they must put aside personal "glory" for the sake of the team. All of these are valuable attributes. But what happens if your child suddenly comes home spouting every four letter word in the English language?

"My son plays roller hockey, and until recently, he seemed to be...

Spanking has a long history of popularity as a disciplinary tool. It has been handed down from generation to generation as an appropriate way to teach children to behave obediently. The "logic" that parents use to approach their children with this form of punishment varies. Some parents are completely conscious. In other words, they think "My child did something wrong. She must be punished. Therefore I will spank her to teach her a lesson." Other parents are sort of semi-conscious. In other words, when their child misbehaves, they don't necessarily think it...

Stephanie thought she was going to lose her mind. She just couldn't seem to keep things under control with her 5 year old twin boys and 8 year old daughter. From the moment they got up on the morning until they went to sleep at night it was one argument after another: who got to choose where to sit at breakfast, which TV show they were going to watch, who would be first in the bathroom, and so on. Just when she'd get one argument sorted out, another would erupt.

This kind of in-fighting is common in households with multiple children. In a bid for mom...

Interruptions are a part of life. As adults we've come to expect some interruptions and, for the most part, handle them with a certain amount of grace. When we're on the phone, for example, and our call waiting interrupts, we either ignore it or ask the person to whom we're talking to please wait, our other line is ringing and we'll get right back to them.

Why is it, then, that the interruptions children cause are so much more frustrating? Could it be that, unlike call waiting, children interrupt 15 times in a single minute? Could it be they're more...

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, romance is in the air. Or not, as the case may be. For teenagers whose sexuality is just beginning to bud, or for those without a boy or girl friend, this can be a challenging time of year. Deluged with romantic “hype,” teens can feel like losers if they don’t have a significant other or if they’re not ready for a romantic or sexual relationship. And for teens who are discovering a same sex orientation, this time of year can be particularly difficult.

Most teens face the prospect of romance armed with entirely...

July, 2006. It is a summer of transition for me. This week, my daughter turns 18 and in the Fall she will begin an independent life at Northwestern University. I can hardly believe it. When she was born people said, "Cherish this time. It goes so fast." Like most new parents we didn't understand that advice. As a matter of fact, the days seemed endless. At one point I was convinced that she would never be older than 2 months, 6 night feedings, 8 poopy diapers and 24 hours of uncomfortable colic. But she did get older, stopped eating throughout the night, began...

We're moving from the bright greens of summer to the brilliant colors of fall. Our children are making the transition from summer to school, and from flexible schedules to structure. How, during this time of transition and in the school year beyond, can we maintain a sense of the fun that summer brings? Fun that binds our children to us in a way that nothing else can? When children and parents have fun together: playing, laughing and relaxing, the underlying structure of the relationship is strengthened. And it is that underlying strength that sustains both...

"Don't talk to strangers."

"Speak when someone asks you a question."

"Don't take anything from strangers."

"Be polite."

Do these seem to be contradictory statements? They are. Yet as parents, we admonish our children with words similar to these on a regular basis. With the number of child abduction cases growing it is time to stop and rethink some of the things we say to our children that may make them easy prey to kidnapping.

Obviously, we've got to talk to our children about the potential danger from...

The Internet has been described as an information superhighway which will create one global village, drawing people closer and providing them with a wealth of information. This seductive reasoning sounds good at first hearing: for example, we no longer have to step out of our homes to look up information at the library, it's at our fingertips in our very own homes. We can converse with people all over the globe, learning more about other cultures. Because they are virtually faceless and nameless, our differences have less of a chance of getting in the way of our...