Video Games: The Newest Plague (Dr. Larry Waldman)

Larry Waldman, video games, addictive video gamesVideo games are like crack cocaine to today’s youth. Many children, especially boys between the ages of 11 and 16, spend untold hours involved with these electronic games, often from the time they come home from school until they finally go to bed. Far too many kids spend essentially entire weekends (and most of their holiday and summer breaks) playing these “games.” I regularly hear reports from parents that their children engage in “gaming” to the neglect of homework, reading, eating with the family, or going out with the family. No-shows to college classes are at an all-time high due to students missing class to play video games.

Addictive

To say that video gaming is addictive is not an exaggeration. These addictive games are brightly colored, quite visually and orally stimulating, very life-like, and, most importantly, are self-regulated. Kids whom are unable to sit and concentrate for 15 minutes in school will spend an entire afternoon alone in their room intensely focused on a video game.

Promotes Lethargy and Obesity

Children of previous generations watched too much TV—this writer included. Nevertheless, those TV-watching kids managed to occasionally pull themselves from the “boob tube” to get out and interact and socialize with peers. Today’s “gamers” are socially isolated. “Virtual friends”–other kids who play along remotely–are considered “best friends” by many “gamers” today, though they have never met in person. Because of video games, today’s kids do not have the same opportunities to learn social skills as did children of previous generations.

Data on the epidemic of obesity in US adults (60%) suggests that the early bad habit of excessive TV-watching may be part of the reason many adults today fail to exercise. If the majority of the previous generation of TV-watching kids are now obese as adults, even though they got some exercise as children, what can we expect from the current generation of kids whom are not active even as children?! In 15-20 years we are going to see some of the largest “tushes” known to man—but their thumbs will be long and lean. (Some newer games encourage activity, interestingly, but their use is in the minority.)

Promotes Violence

Finally, and most significantly, we must consider the medium of these games to which are kids are addicted. The overwhelming majority of these video games involve violence—graphic violence, replete with screams, life-like blood, and gore.

In the 1970’s and ‘80’s many research studies were conducted which documented the negative psychological effect excessive TV-watching—and its associate violence–had on kids. Today’s “gamer” views more violence in an afternoon than I did throughout my entire childhood of watching TV.

WRWI firmly believe it is no coincidence that many of the young men who were responsible for some of the recent shootings we all have heard about were reported to be active “gamers.” I am not about to argue that video games caused these tragedies, but I have to wonder if electronically killing thousands of “aliens,” monsters, or “bad guys” over hundreds of hours of video gaming, could distort a young person’s reality or desensitize them to the value of life?

Pilots learn to fly via simulation. Maybe we should start calling this process video “training”—not gaming. I am waiting for the first defense attorney to use the “Gamer’s Syndrome” as a means to defend their client.

The Result

Every older generation thinks the younger generation is “going to hell in a hand-basket.” I remember when I got into the Beatles and my mother thought I had “lost my religion.” Having worked with hundreds of children over the past 40 years, I have become truly worried about the impact video games are having on our youth. I am fearful that soon we will have a generation of under-socialized, impulsive, impatient, entitled, apathetic, aggressive, obese young adults. To this health professional, video games are the newest plague.

What to Do

Parents, please toss out the X-Box or, at least, limit its use. Take a walk or hike with your child. Take a bike ride. Do something fun, active, and interactive; go to the gym together. It will be good for you and your child.###

Larry F. Waldman, Ph.D., ABPP is a licensed psychologist who has practiced in the Paradise Valley area of Phoenix for 38 years. He has worked with children, adolescents, parents, adults, and couples. He also provides forensic consultations. He speaks professionally to laypersons, educators, corporations, and fellow mental health professionals. He teaches graduate courses for Northern Arizona University. He is the author of five books (currently) involving parenting, marriage, personal wellness, and private practice. His contact information is: 602-418-8161; LarryWaldmanPhD@cox.net; TopPhoenixPsychologist.com.

 

 

Ask More, Tell Less: Effective Parenting and Self-Reliance (Greg Warburton)

BTRadioInt-300x75-300x75Effective parenting and effective discipline can be likened unto a construction project. Just imagine you are about to start the biggest building project of your life, a new home, perhaps. Yet, when you open your toolbox, you find only three tools in there.

You certainly cannot embark on such an ambitious project until you get all the tools you need to build that home safely and securely. It only makes sense to have everything you need to manage such a challenge.

Toward Effective Parenting

Greg Warburton, effective parenting, effective disciplineBuilding, encouraging and nourishing healthy, self-reliant families and children is the most rewarding and most challenging construction project a parent will ever encounter. Unfortunately, if all discipline and problem-solving relied on just the three tools of Telling, Reminding and Yelling (and all parents can identify, right?), relationships within the family and and the self-reliance of all members would be affected.

The solution, of course,  is more tools and the insight, desire and practice in using them effectively. And, with the help of our guest, licensed mental health counselor Greg Warburton, more tools and how to use them is precisely what this program is about.

Quality Questions

ask more, tell less, quality questions, curiosity over control, Greg Warburton

As an example, Greg will suggest a paradigm shift for parents in this program. It’s  a different perspective for adding more tools to the toolbox, including the practice of asking instead of telling, so that youngsters can become more empowered to consider and reflect on ways they can address problem behavior and challenges themselves. Result: Self-reliant children and teens. When we exercise curiosity over control, they gain life-long tools, and relationships at home are much better.

There is power and healing in quality questions.

Greg Warburton

Greg Warburton is a licensed mental health counselor who helps youngsters and parents become instruments of their own healing and change. He is a dedicated innovator who brings emotional and mental self-management methods into the worlds of parenting and sport performance. As an award-winning college instructor, he helps people eliminate self-defeating behaviors and achieve the inner freedom that comes with becoming self-reliant. In this program, we are featuring Greg’s new book: Ask More, Tell Less: A Practical Guide for Helping Children Achieve Self-Reliance. (28:35)

www.selfreliantkids.com

As a bonus, be sure to download Greg’s free article, “The Power of Praise Revisited: A Full Formula.”

 

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Coaching Our Kids Through Anxious Moments (Dr. Kristen Costa)

Dr Kristen Costa, Reset, keyed up, anxious moments, anxious child, traps to avoidWhen our kids are walloped with anxiety, it’s usually not pretty.

They rant. They rave. They make blanket statements on the condition of their lives.

Sometimes they emotionally throw up on us. And it’s likely that we are getting the worst of it, with their raw emotions spilling out, and even perhaps setting off our own anxiety.

Keyed Up

Dr. Kristen Lee Costa, Reset: Make the Most of Your Stess, keyed up, anxious moments, anxious child, traps to avoidWe can just as easily feel keyed up when they are keyed up. As parents and caregivers, it can be difficult to choose our words wisely and offer counsel that helps an anxious child know that they are resilient, and capable of coming up for air and regrouping once they’ve regained their footing.

Traps to Avoid

Beliefs born out of anxious moments can catapult us into an avalanche of messy cognitive distortions and self-sabotage. Here are some traps to avoid; they are well worth teaching our kids (and ourselves) to avoid in those messy moments:

Trap # 1: Bolting. The quick exit is so tempting when things go awry. Even though the instinct to try help make it better for our kids, tough moments are powerful teachers. Helping them confront what is happening and work through it can build grit and stress resistance, which are essential through every stage of life.

Trap # 2: Trying to problem solve in the heat of the moment. When we’re clobbered with stress, we want to make immediate sense of things. Unfortunately, high anxiety levels can interfere with rational thinking. Teaching our kids when to problem solve and when to hold off is a valuable skill.

Trap # 3: Keeping it a secret. Letting anxiety and negative emotions fester and go untended only makes matters worse. Anxiety is part of life. When we normalize this for our kids, they are more likely to open up and reach out for help. Creating a space where kids can vent and admit they are struggling is vital.

Coaching our kids through anxious moments takes finesse. By helping them see these common anxiety traps, we support them in creating habits that cultivate resilience. ###

Dr. Kristen Costa speaks not only from her 20+ years as a mental health clinician and educator, but as a parent. Known as “America’s Stress and Burnout Doc,” Dr. Kris is the author of the award-winning book, RESET: Make the Most of Your Stress, and she’s a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and Psychology Today. [website]

 

What is it: ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) or Asperger’s? (Dr. James Sutton)

This article is being re-posted. It first appeared on an older blog of mine: “It’s About Them.” Later, it was included with a batch of over four dozen articles posted on a popular article site. Visits and responses to these sites indicated quite an interest in the question and challenge of accurately addressing the social, emotional and behavioral differences between the conditions of Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Asperger’s Syndrome. In this piece, I give a psychologist’s take on the differences they would present in children and teens. (The two photos here were taken a number of years ago when I presented my training program, “The Oppositional and Defiant Child,” in South Dakota.)

At the time of this article, the DSM-IV-TR was still in effect as the primary diagnostic reference. Currently, the DSM-5 includes the former diagnosis of Asperger’s or Asperger’s Syndrome in the classification of Autism Spectrum Disorder. –JDS

—————————–

JamesSutton, Oppositional Defiant DisorderThe line separating ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) and Asperger’s Syndrome sometimes can be quite fine. That being said, I can’t see where I would diagnose both conditions in the same child or teen, although I’ve seen it done. In the case of these conditions, I believe it’s best to stay with one diagnosis or the other.

First of all, it’s quite possible that behaviors characteristic of ODD will continue without ever being diagnosed. Short-term interventions might bring just enough compliance for a child to clear a hurdle, such as doing just enough work at the end of the school year to pass–barely. Everyone then draws a sigh of relief and takes a break, until the next hurdle.

Opppositional Defiant Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Asperger's Syndrome

A child with Asperger’s Syndrome, the highest level of functioning on a diagnostic continuum called Autism Spectrum Disorder, is less likely to slip through the cracks undiagnosed. Youngsters with Asperger’s tend to have unusual mannerisms that, over time, are bound to be recognized and addressed.

Let’s compare these two youngsters on five characteristics: Etiology, Language and Communication, Social Awareness and Interaction, Capacity to Adapt, and Nature of Noncompliance.

Etiology: The behaviors characteristic of ODD are mostly related to temperament and the youngster’s perception of and reaction to circumstances and events close to them. External events can influence behavior dramatically, a critical notion in intervention. There are many theories as to the causes of Asperger’s, but genetics and organicity (brain chemistry and neurology) are thought to play a big part. With these children, issues of the condition are thought to be more internal than external.

Language & Communication: Although Asperger’s youngsters might have strong language skills, they are apt to comment inappropriately and even talk incessantly about a topic of their interest. The tone, volume and even the precision of their speech can be affected. They also have trouble with communication that contains humor, especially when it is subtle. ODD kids, on the other hand, “get” the message in humor, can have excellent language and communication skills, and can use them well. In fact, they’d often rather talk than do–which is precisely the problem.

Social Awareness & Interaction: ODD youngsters tend to be socially aware and responsive. They can participate in groups, enjoy athletics and are good leaders (partly because they don’t care to be compliant to another leader). By contrast, Asperger’s youngsters don’t handle social contexts well at all. In fact, they tend to isolate. Avoidance of eye contact is a big issue, and it is diagnostically significant. These youngsters often fail to sense a group code of conduct, something that can be reflected in their interactions.

Capacity to Adapt: ODD children and teens can and do adapt pretty well to new and unique situations. It’s interesting to note, however, that new and unique circumstances often put a temporary halt to defiant behavior, as the child is not yet “comfortable” enough to be defiant. (There’s a hint for intervention.) Youngsters with Asperger’s Syndrome don’t handle change well at all. Change for them is uncomfortable; it’s apt to bring on significant tantrum behavior and even meltdowns.

Nature of Noncompliance: ODD youngsters generally understand the compliance expected of them. They just don’t want to do it. There can be a strong quality of arrogance and passive-aggression in their noncompliance. Asperger’s kids, on the other hand, can distract themselves from compliance. They don’t necessarily intend to refuse, but the job doesn’t get done. They also can have trouble distinguishing that a compliance request is a specific direction, not a suggestion.

As one can readily see, treatment of these two conditions would be quite different. ###

Dr. James Sutton is a child and adolescent psychologist and former Special Education teacher. He is the founder and host of The Changing Behavior Network. His books on managing defiant behavior include The Changing Behavior Book, What Parents Need to Know About ODD, 60 Ways to Reach and Difficult and Defiant Child and If My Kid’s So Nice … Why’s He Driving ME Crazy?

 

Real Conversation with Your Teen: Make it a New Norm (Dr. Laurie Hollman)

real conversation, Laurie Hollman, talking to teensThe next time you talk to your teen, notice how often he or you share your attention with your smart phone. How long can you talk without an intervening text? What is the impact of these diversions on your parent-teen relationship? What might be the value of real conversation?

Remember …?
Remember the day your daughter came home with a dismal look on her face? Head down, she walked right past you without much of a hello while glancing at a text on her phone. Did you think to question what that dismal expression meant or were you deterred by her texting or your own phone ringing? How many days passed before you found out her boyfriend had just broken up with her and she felt lost and alone?

Remember when your son threw down his backpack as he marched into the house? Except for the cell phone in his hand, the silence toward you plus his grim exterior suggested he had abandoned all traces of connections with others. He raced upstairs and you didn’t see him until you called three times that dinner was ready.

When he said he wasn’t hungry, you got a text from your husband that he’d be late and so you ate alone while texting your friend. How many days passed before you were informed by email from a teacher that your son was failing both English and math, the news that silenced him that day and made him lose his appetite.

Heed the Warning
When texting is primary and talking is secondary, heed the warning that you and your teen are growing distant. You can blame the smart phone, but be a smart parent and call a halt to this progression. Talking to teens requires all your attention.

real conversation, Unlocking Parental Intelligence, Laurie Hollman, talking to teensThis doesn’t mean moving in like an army captain to take away your kid’s phone. After all, you’re also carrying out the same smart phone diversion tactics interfering with your relationship. It does mean giving your child your full attention when needed, not googling for more data about what’s being discussed. It does mean having real conversations without interruptions. Stop googling and start talking!

8 Tips for Real Conversation

1. Put your cell phone far away. The very presence of the phone may change the tone and content of the conversation.
2. Maintain eye contact. This means you are fully present with complete attention.
3. If you’re getting bored and have that cell phone urge, listen more carefully and closely to what is being said and respond in kind.
4. Keep your mind in the present, not diverted elsewhere if the image of your phone comes to mind.
5. If you feel the desire to go find your phone and not stay in the conversation, consider that what’s being discussed is a bit disturbing. All the more reason for a parent to stay in the conversation with your teen! Maybe you are about to hear something distressing but important.
6. If you miss your phone, it’s a clue you have just lost empathy toward your teen. Why would you choose your phone over your child? Something’s off and you need to attend to your feelings.
7. Real conversation without interruption builds bonds because it fosters connections. It’s like hugging with words when you really listen to your teen.
8. Now make face-to-face conversation a priority. Engage your teen at least once a day for at least ten to twenty minutes. It will be rewarding because you will understand your child better and your child will feel he or she is loveable to you.

As parents, we owe it to our kids to keep phones away from the dinner table, the living room, and the car. They deserve to be listened to with our full attention. The time is now to make real conversation the new norm. ###

Laurie Hollman, PhD, [website] is a psychoanalyst with a new book, Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child’s Behavior, on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Familius and wherever books are sold.

Motivating Students for Better School Performance (Guest: Ruth Herman Wells)

BTRadioInt-300x75-300x75There’s just no way around the fact that school is performance-driven. Students are expected to do their best at school, and they are expected to be motivated and remain motivated to achieve academically.

Ruth Herman WellsUnfortunately, expecting students to be motivated doesn’t make it so. According to our guest on this program, Ruth Herman Wells, expecting motivation is precisely the problem. Capable students, as well as those who struggle, don’t come with a convenient switch that turns on their desire to achieve and put effort into their studies. It’s up to teachers (and parents) to teach motivation as if it were any other teachable skill.

But how do effective, caring and competent teachers actually access and teach skills of student motivation? According to Ruth, this sort of training in the motivation of students by teachers is in short supply. Result: Students simply are expected to be motivated, and the problems continue.

Youth Change Workshops, motivating students, student motivationFrom her years of experience in training educators across the country, Ruth shares how youngsters can be motivated at school and how they can realize, sometimes permanently realize, how motivation is important for them and their future.

Ruth Herman Wells, Motivation Makers, motivation of students by teachers, school is performance-drivenListen in as Ruth shares some great ideas for struggling students and, yes, for struggling teachers as well. Just remember, a little success can become very contagious!

Ruth Herman Wells is the Director of Youth Change Workshops out of Oregon. In addition to being an outstanding seminar leader and trainer of educators and other child-service professionals, Ruth has managed programs for delinquent, troubled and problem youth.  Shes the author of dozens of books, including the one we are featuring today, All the Best Answers for the Worst Kid Problems: Maximum-Strength Motivation-Makers. (32:59)

www.youthchg.com

Sign up HERE to receive behavior change worksheets by mail and to subscribe to the “Problem Student Problem-Solver” monthly email magazine.

 

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Seven Ways of Teaching Happiness to Your Kids (Mike Ferry)

Happiness is the “Holy Grail” of parenting. While all of us want our kids to be happy and successful in life, we may not know exactly how to achieve this goal. Fortunately, the “science of happiness” can show us the way to teaching happiness.

teaching happiness, science of happinessYears of research have revealed certain habits and beliefs that make us happier, more creative, and more effective in everything we do. Rather than waiting and hoping that emotional well-being will descend from the heavens, we can show our children how to forge happy lives.

Since learning about this branch of psychology, I have been on a mission to share this knowledge with parents. I wrote a book, Teaching Happiness and Innovation, to help parents identify the habits of happiness and teach them to their kids. We are all thirsting for guidance in this department, and I hope that my efforts make a difference.

teaching happiness, science of happinessI’d like to give you seven ways to point your children towards lives of joy and meaning. These ideas come from my free 21-day “Happy Family” challenge. As is the case in other areas of life, practice makes perfect if you want to form the habits of happiness!

1. Write down the names of three people, places, or things you are grateful for. If you want to learn more about the importance of gratitude, please sign up for my email list. As a thank-you gift, you can download the “Gratitude” chapter from my book for free.

2. Spend some time in quiet prayer or meditation. Nurturing our spirituality is an important aspect of happiness.

3. We feel better when we are creative and thoughtful. Create and send a homemade card to Grandma, Grandpa, or another special person in your family’s life.

4. Challenge yourself to learn something new. Do you know the countries of Europe? If not, start learning them here.

5. Combine these five words to form a short story. If your story is hilarious and unrealistic, that’s just fine.

Miami
Santa
Banana
Anteater
Wagon

6. Think about a time when someone was kind to you. Give yourself a quiet space to reflect on this happy memory.

7. Bake cookies for a neighbor. When you deliver them, talk about the fun you’ve been having with the “Happy Family” challenge! Maybe your neighbor will enjoy the experience as well.###

Mike Ferry is the author of Teaching Happiness and Innovation. A middle school history teacher in Richmond, VA, Mike is raising four (mostly happy) children with his wife, Jenny. For more information about teaching happiness to children, visit www.happinessandinnovation.com. Twitter @MikeFerry7

Teens: Building Character for the Future, Part Two (Guest: Barbara A. Lewis)

BTRadioInt-300x75-300x75Building character into the lives of our young people can pay substantial dividends in their future. As always, character counts.

building character,character counts,Barbara A. Lewis,building character activities,character educationSome character traits are optional. For instance, we can choose to be thrifty, punctual or curious. But other traits, like honesty and a respect for life, are absolutely necessary for a society to survive and thrive. It’s that important.

So if character counts, we would do our children a great service by teaching them early how much it does count, wouldn’t we? As teens begin to grow into adults, it’s especially important they develop positive traits of character and practice them regularly in the real world.

building character,character counts,Barbara A. Lewis,building character activities,character educationAuthor, educator, and guest on this program, Barbara A. Lewis, believes strongly that young people need to know not only what they stand for, but how they should put it into action. In fact, that’s the title of Barbara’s book for and about teens, What Do You Stand For? A Guide for Building Character. In this two-part program, Barbara will share her insights on character development, character education, and how to share it with teens.

Barbara has won many honors and awards as both an author and an educator. She and her work have been featured often in print and broadcast media, including Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, Family Circle, “CBS This Morning,” “CBS World News,” and CNN. (20:16)

http://www.BarbaraALewis.com

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Teens: Building Character for the Future, Part One (Guest: Barbara Lewis)

BTRadioInt-300x75-300x75Building character into the lives of our young people can pay substantial dividends in their future. As always, character counts.

building character,character counts,Barbara A. Lewis,building character activities,character educationSome character traits are optional. For instance, we can choose to be thrifty, punctual or curious. But other traits, like honesty and a respect for life, are absolutely necessary for a society to survive and thrive. It’s that important.

So if character counts, we would do our children a great service by teaching them early how much it does count, wouldn’t we? As teens begin to grow into adults, it’s especially important they develop positive traits of character and practice them regularly in the real world.

building character,character counts,Barbara A. Lewis,building character activities,character educationAuthor, educator, and guest on this program, Barbara A. Lewis, believes strongly that young people need to know not only what they stand for, but how they should put it into action. In fact, that’s the title of Barbara’s book for and about teens, What Do You Stand For? A Guide for Building Character. In this two-part program, Barbara will share her insights on character development, character education, and how to share it with teens.

Barbara has won many honors and awards as both an author and an educator. She and her work have been featured often in print and broadcast media, including Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, Family Circle, “CBS This Morning,” “CBS World News,” and CNN. (20:16)

http://www.BarbaraALewis.com

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Winter: A Time for Introspection and Renewal (Dr. Daniel Trussell)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs the dark nights seem to stretch forever and days are cold, still and short, Winter is a time for reflection. It’s the perfect opportunity to fine tune desires, goals and accomplishments planned for in the coming year. Winter offers a time for refreshment and renewal as outdoor activities, social functions and overburdened schedules slow down to create a less frenzied routine.

With less hectic schedules, fewer time constraints and reduced daily routine, we find more time to reflect on the past: lessons learned, accomplishments gained and new strategies for “getting it right this time.”

 

snow, snow days, winter is a time for reflection, winter renewal

Families spend more time indoors together, providing the gift of time to spend with one another. Opportunities abound for increased intimacy, improved communication and the intentional making of positive memories with one another.

Yet many of us fail to embrace this auspicious time of year that encourages us to look inward, feast on the harvest of experience the preceding seasons provided and foment plans to increase engagement, meaning and positive relationships.

Snow Days as Grow Days
My wish for families I interact with during the Winter is that they will have several snow days – those days when everything shuts down, kids can’t get to school, parents can’t get to work and there is general quiet and beauty. Of course, in my vision, there are no disasters to contend with, the heat and lights stay on and a deep blanket of pristine snow covers the driveways and highways, inviting play and merriment.

Dr. Daniel TrussellBut what happens during snow days? Kids may go off on their own, parents worry about not getting work done and there may be a general sense of restlessness, boredom or dread.

However, snow days can provide a unique set of circumstances that gathers the family in one place at the same time. It’s the perfect time to hold a family meeting, learn a new skill, begin a family project or foster family bonds through creating positive memories, engaging in positive family activities and improving relationships.

A little planning now for those snow days can help structure activities that promote better family well-being and put every family member on notice that a snow day is a grow day.

While the promise of renewal lies shortly ahead when trees leaf out, daffodils bloom and the first Spring crops emerge, Winter is truly a time to celebrate. Take advantage of this Winter to not only plan for the future but to review the past and change the present. You are in charge of creating the future you want to have. Winter is the springboard. ###

 

Daniel Trussell, Ph.D., MBA, LPC, NCC, CPCS is author of The How Families Flourish Workbook and How Families Flourish. He is a certified Professional Counselor supervisor and conducts training for both professionals and families in incorporating the findings from positive psychology into daily life. He can be reached at drdanieltrussell@gmail.com. [website]