Kids and Summer Camp: Coping with Homesickness (Guest: Dr. Frank Sileo)

BTRadioIntAs school begins to come to a close across the country, thoughts turn to summer activities for kids and families. One of those activities is summer camp. Here’s an earlier interview I did with child and adolescent psychologist, Dr. Frank Sileo, regarding something that might be an issue for some youngsters, especially first-time campers. –JDS


FSileophoto2The excitement of going off to summer camp and all the fun it brings can be offset by a first-time camper’s anxiety about leaving home. Homesickness is real, indeed.

Feelings of homesickness are typical; most youngsters experience them the first time they spend the night away from the familiarity of home, family, pets and long-time friendships. Although it is a common type of separation anxiety, homesickness doesn’t feel common at all to the youngster caught up in it.

Our guest on this program, Dr. Frank Sileo, will offer insights and ideas for addressing feelings of homesickness. He will also share ways parents can help their child become more capable and confident BEFORE the youngster goes off to camp, often preventing many of the symptoms and experiences of homesickness.

BugbitesAndCampfiresCOVERSMDr. Sileo is the author of the children’s book, Bug Bites and Campfires: A Story for Kids About Homesickness. It’s a great example of evidence-based treatment wrapped up in a great story.

Dr. Sileo is the Executive Director of The Center for Psychological Enhancement in Ridgewood, New Jersey. He has been recognized time and time again for his skill as a child and adolescent therapist and his abilities as a speaker and author. (26:55)

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Teens, Roles and Change (Jennie Aguirre)

BTAboutThemIn the teen years identity is really important; every teen wants to know who they are and how they fit in. Every teen has a story, but who they are in the story can provide a lot of insight as to why they think, feel, behave and interpret things the way they do.

JAguirrephotojpgTo understand how roles influence young people, we must make the connection between who they are and what they do. If, for instance, a teenage girl decides she is a vegetarian, it only becomes true if she stops eating meat and changes her diet. Likewise, if a teenage boy decides he is an artist, he would spend his free time painting or drawing. Once teens decide who they are, it’s what they do that supports the role.

Why Roles Matter
If we understand that roles influence behavior, what happens then if a teen decides she is a perfectionist, failure, bully or victim? (These four are for illustration; there are many roles.) If a teen sees herself as a victim, what would she have to DO to make it true? If she believes she is a perfectionist, how would she ACT?

Help Wanted!
At first glance young people might not be aware of the roles they play. Even if they are aware, they might not recognize the limits some roles impose. Here is a simple exercise you can use to start a conversation about roles, how they influence behavior, and why they might interfere with a teen’s ability to realize his or her full potential.

Try these three steps for better understanding the role(s) of an adolescent:

1. WHERE are they in each role (context matters)? For example, “At home, I am _________, at school I am __________, and with friends I am _________.”

2. Pick one role/place to start. If they give an example of being a son at home, encourage them to look at the role inside the role: What kind of son are you? Are you the same son with both parents? Are you the only son in your home?

3. Help them write a “job description” for the role they wish to examine. Prompts might include something like, “If you were hiring this overachiever, peacemaker or failure (using the role the youngster identified), what traits, experience and skills would you be looking for? Important: Encourage them to be very specific.

Keep It Going
Keep the job description strategy going by asking questions that dig a little deeper. This helps the teen to better understand why they might want to eliminate a role. Here are a few sample questions:

What are your thoughts or feelings about this role(s)? What limitations could the role place on you?

What do you gain by playing this role(s)?

(Examples could include avoidance, control, recognition, self-pity, relevance and motivation.)

How do you BEHAVE or ACT in order to reinforce or support this role or belief?

This could include (but not be limited to) responses to others, participation in activities, ways they treat themselves and others, places they choose to go to or avoid, and assumptions and conclusions they make.

Turning Down the Part
There is no shorting of roles a teen can play; some are inspiring and some are limiting. At first glance it’s not always clear which role is which. When a youngster takes a hard look at a job description and its requirements, let them know they are always empowered to turn down the part.

Jennie Aguirre is an experienced educator and a certified Life Coach. She helps others remove the limits that hold them down in life. Jennie is also the originator of an innovative program called the DIY Design Your Mind Series [Website].

A Foot on the Dinner Table: Claiming Victory From Adversity (Dr. James Sutton)

BTLifesMomentsI was addressing a group of adults some time back; I threw them this challenge:

What would you think if you were at a nice dinner with about nine or ten other folks, and one of them put his bare foot on your table?

The general consensus was they’d be pretty disgusted. Their facial gestures indicated that, if that happened at their table, dinner would be OVER whether they had finished eating or not.

But what if that person had no arms?

That one variable changes everything, doesn’t it? It takes our preconceived notions and attitudes and completely removes them from the picture.

This described an experience of mine at a convention. One of my tablemates had no arms. He ate with his feet. He also drank with his feet and took notes with his feet.

He even wrote a book with his feet. Amazing.

footThis man, a Canadian, is a very successful speaker on the topic of dealing with adversity. Folks will listen to him. He walks his talk.

What an inspiration. And I think I’m having a tough day when I’m battling a sore throat.

I’m very clear on the fact that no rational person ASKS to tackle the challenges of this world without his arms. But things happen; life sometimes can throw us some huge challenges.

What we DO with the challenges can be a measure of our character, our resolve … and our resiliency. ###

Revolutionize Your Child’s Life (Guest: Peggy Caruso)

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Just catch the news and you will agree: It’s a tough world out there. Our children and our grandchildren will be pressed to navigate circumstances and environments quite different from those of our childhoods.

peggyYes, there are questions. Will they be equal to that challenge, or will they have doubts regarding their abilities, skills and strengths? What can I do today to help my child better manage his or her present and future, and, in doing so, not simply survive, but thrive. How can I help them grow in confidence, work productively with others, and reach out to those in need.

PCarusocoverPeggy Caruso, our guest on this program, has some great insights and suggestions for us today, and they are consistent with the title of her book, Revolutionize Your Child’s Life: A Simple Guide to the Health, Wealth and Welfare of Your Child. She will not only offer ways for us to help our children deal with the negative forces and influences they encounter daily, Peggy will also discuss how we can help our children develop powerful, marketable skills of what she calls “Kid-Preneurship.” It’s a great concept, and it can put any child or teen out in front with the sort of faith, intuition and vision that accompanies success in work and life.

In addition to being an author of several books, Peggy is an Executive and Personal Development Coach, eight-time entrepreneur, NLP Master Practitioner and Hypnotherapist with 22 years of experience. She’s also the founder of Life Coaching and Beyond, LLC. (27:32)

Peggy’s Website

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NEW: Anger Management Training in a Self-study Format

BTSpotlightTwo divorce and relationship experts have collaborated on Anger Management for Co-Parents as well as Anger Management To Cope With Life Challenges online self-study courses with video, quiz and personal reflection components.

Rosalind Sedacca and Amy ShermanDivorce expert Rosalind Sedacca, CCT (on the right) and her co-author Amy Sherman, LMHC, have announced the launch of two new online courses dealing with anger management issues. Anger Management For Co-Parents was created for separating and divorced parents. Anger Management To Cope With Life Challenges targets anger issues in the general population. Both programs teach the skills needed for more effective ways to reduce conflict and express personal feelings.

Knowing how to manage anger can help parents set limits and determine comfortable boundaries in their relationship with their co-parent as well as their children. It is especially important for co-parents who are facing the many life challenges following a separation or divorce.

The Anger Management For Co-Parents programs are available in 8-hour and 12-hour formats. The online courses provide signs divorcing or divorced parents should watch for when facing difficult situations. These include “red flag” warnings about problem behavior along with a variety of tools and strategies for taking control of our personal feelings. The course can be taken voluntarily and is also court-mandated in many counties throughout the United States with a Certificate of Completion that can be sent to the case judge.
“This course will help co-parents find healthier ways of expressing anger, frustration and other difficult feelings – which will make for more peaceful and rewarding life experiences,” says Sedacca.

To address the broad range of other anger issues that affect men and women during the course of life, Sedacca and Sherman co-created an additional 8-hour program. Anger Management To Cope With Life Challenges focuses on skills for handling conflict between married couples, employees, employers, family members, neighbors and others.

“Anger is a feeling that alerts you that something wrong. But you have choices regarding how you act upon those feelings,” says Sherman. “Reacting before thinking can lead to mismanaged anger which means you have allowed your feelings to control you. This can easily lead to actions and behaviors you never would have taken if you were making more rational choices.”

To learn more about Anger Management For Co-Parents or Anger Management To Cope With Life Challenges, visit




BTLifesMomentsI came across this piece in my file cabinet the other day. It’s written as a teacher to a class of students, but it could just as easily be from a parent to his or her children. The message is about everyone working together, even when there’s a bit of imperfection.

typewriterI wonder how many children ever saw an old manual typewriter, let alone actually typed on one? It would be fun to let them get a feel for how it “used to be,” just after we quit using stone tablets. –JDS





A Mother’s Gifts: A Message to All Moms (Christy Monson)

BTSpotlightI asked Christy if she would share this story as a special tribute to Mother’s Day. I first read this story about her grandmother, Nana, in her book, Family Talk. (That’s Nana with the much-younger-at-the-time Monson children in the photograph below Christy’s picture.) –JDS

As mothers we have significant influence in our families. Many times we give gifts of light and love to our families that we don’t even notice. As we bless the lives of others, we find that we are strengthened also. I have found this to be true, especially when problems arise. There are always situations that don’t run as smoothly as we would like or unexpected circumstances that disrupt our plans and even our lives.

CMonsonphotoHere’s an example that happened in our family.

A Priceless Legacy

My ninety-nine-year-old grandmother, Nana, lived in our home. We loved and enjoyed her. All of our children took part in her care. They helped with her meals, played games with her, read to her, and rolled her wheel chair outside into the sunshine so she could watch them play soccer. When problems arose, we sat down as a family to decide how we would handle the difficulty.

Nan and the Monson Children 002Nana always liked to be busy, so the kids came up with the idea of giving her the clean socks to match. That was a wonderful idea, and it kept her occupied for long periods of time. She left us the priceless legacy of not only being part of the group, but also being a contributing member of the family right up to the time she died.

One afternoon I went into her bedroom to see if Nana had awakened from her nap, and I found that she had passed away. Shock and disbelief wafted over me. I spent a few minutes sitting in the living room, pulling myself together before the children came home from school. What was I going to do? How would I handle the situation?

After everyone had arrived home, we sat together as a family, and I told the children Nana was gone. They were all grief-stricken. Each of the children expressed their feelings differently. Some wanted to go into the bed room and say good-bye to her. Others decided to remember her when she was alive. We all cried and shared memories.

After sharing our initial grief, we talked about the things we had to do—the coroner, funeral arrangements, and notifying relatives. Everyone took an assignment and pitched in to help. By the time I went to bed that night, everything was arranged, and I felt peaceful. There was an added spirit of love in our home that everyone could feel.

Shared Experiences; Life-long Memories

It’s now been quite a few years since Nana died, but whenever we refer to it, all of our children have significant impressions of that day and time. It’s indelibly fixed in our memories as a spiritual, soul-expanding experience that has made us all stronger individuals.

Look at your own family. Find the times where you have given gifts of love, listening, and sharing of feelings that have made a difference in your lives. See where you have created that synergy with the generations past and the generations of the future. The world is a better place for your goodness.

We honor you on this happy Mother’s Day. ###

Visit Christy’s website [link] for more information on her books, free downloads on helping children through divorce, death and tragedy, and other pertinent information for helping children become the best the can be.
To access Christy’s radio-style interviews and articles on The Changing Behavior Network, use the search box on the right, entering “Christy Monson.”


Approach to Noncompliance: A Meeting that NEVER Happens! (Dr. James Sutton)

BTAboutThemHere’s a strategy to use with an uncooperative youngster that lets her THINK her way back into compliance. Best of all, it comes out looking like HER idea.
Oppositional and defiant sons and daughters already think they are equal to the task of playing compliance games with their parents. And, more often than we’d like to admit, they’re right. Here’s an idea for setting up a situation whereby the youngster decides the best solution to the problem is to DO what needs to be done.

Jim415smIt applies across most any tasks, but let’s say Dad has already had a discussion with Sally about rolling the trash container out to the street on pickup day. It’s a quick and easy task she can do before she goes to school. She has even agreed to do it; no problem there.

The problem is the chore is NOT being done. The container is brimming over, as is Dad’s frustration in Sally’s neglected chore and a broken promise about doing it.

If Dad confronts Sally directly about the chore, he knows she could turn the whole thing into an uncomfortable argument. Here’s one thought on how he might approach it. Keep in mind the chore could be anything; the trash container is just an example.

trashcanDad makes it a point to speak with Sally the evening BEFORE the trash is to be put out on the curb:

Sally, I’ve noticed that the trash has not been moved out to the street for a couple of weeks now. It’s becoming a problem. You promised me you’d put it out every Wednesday morning before you went to school. So far, it looks like the plan isn’t working very well.

Let’s do this, Sally. Let’s see what happens with the trash in the morning. If it doesn’t get put out, we’ll meet tomorrow evening to work on a different plan. Sally, what would be a good time for you to meet with me tomorrow night? Six o’clock? Six thirty? Seven? You pick it, Sally. What time would work for you?

Although it’s very possible Sally will say she will take the trash around in the morning, Dad should continue to press for a time to meet the next evening. She only has to give him a time, and she can pick it.

Sally quickly realizes that, although the time is set for a meeting tomorrow night, it can be avoided completely. All she has to do is PUT OUT THE TRASH in the morning. (Of course, the fact that she has already set the time to meet with her father “helps” to move the trash around.)

One benefit of this intervention is that it approaches the issue as a problem to be solved rather than a confrontation. Additonally, it puts Sally in complete control of making certain the meeting DOESN’T happen … by complying!

(Teachers: This same approach could also work with a difficult and “forgetful” student, also.)

Psychologist Dr. James Sutton is the founder and host of The Changing Behavior Network. His newest book, Improving a Youngster’s Self-Esteem, is to be released soon.


How to Be a Great Dad: No Matter What Kind of Father You Had (Guest: Keith Zafren)

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KZafrenphotoThe overall prognosis for children and teens without a father in the home is not good. From teen pregnancy to school and behavioral problems to youth suicide, the statistics point to a simple truth that active dads matter greatly in the lives of their children.

But a father in the home doesn’t always mean that relationships are as they should be. According to our guest on this program, Keith Zafren, founder of The Great Dads Project, fathers often share feelings of inadequacy and feel they will mess up, ultimately failing both themselves and their children.

Sharing from his own life’s story, as well as the story of men he has helped, including incarcerated fathers, Keith offers a profound message of hope. And it’s not complicated. It simply involves the faithful practice of three “As” of a father to his children: Affirmation, Acceptance and Affection. Keith will not only share about these “As” in this program, he will point out the impact they can have on young lives.

KZafrenBookKeith and Dr. Sutton will also touch on a deeper hurt in this program, something Keith calls the “Father Wound” and what is involved in healing it. (In fact, issues of the “Father Wound” are so important they will be the topic of another program on The Changing Behavior Network in the near future.)

Keith Zafren is a Jack Canfield certified Success Skills Trainer and the author of the award-winning book, How to Be a Great Dad: No Matter What Kind of Father You Had. Through his years of work as a pastor, as a founding board member and fatherhood trainer for the Prison Entrepreneurship Program, and, as mentioned, the founder of The Great Dads Project, Keith has touched the lives of thousands. (29:20)

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Humor Can Help! (Dr. Doug Riley)

BTAboutThemHere are two scenarios. Ask yourself; which is better?

Scenario #1: You get into a lengthy argument with your child that results in yelling, screaming, time out, and hurt feelings over typical things she does to cause tension in your home (such as leaving half-eaten plates of chips and cheese on your nice coffee table, leaving clothes strewn all over the house, trashing her bedroom, and so on).

DRileyScenario #2: You engage your sense of humor (which has been quite dormant due to the stress of parenting wars) and calmly tell your child what will happen unless she changes her ways immediately, but with this catch: The methods you intend to use will strike your child as being so odd and so strange that she realizes you are no longer playing.

If you choose Scenario #1, you will rapidly find yourself limited to coercive methods of talk, reasoning, and logic that have failed to work with your child. This keeps you pinned down to using grounding, taking away preferred objects and activities, and time out. And, as I frequently ask, if time out works so well, why do you have to use it six thousand times on your child before she finally goes off on her own?

But suppose you choose Scenario #2? When your child ignores you yet again when you give her a directive to clean up the place, you now have an entire new range of techniques to use. As an example, I once worked with a teenager who so routinely trashed her room that her parents joked that she didn’t know if her room had a hardwood floor or carpet because of the layers of clothing on the floor. Her clothing storage strategy was what I came to refer to as the “horizontal closet.”

Her parents assured me they had exhausted talk, reasoning, logic, bribes, rewards and punishments, all to no avail. Her father said, “It’s her room, let her live like a pig if she wants to.” Her mother’s position, however, was that no child of hers was going to exit her house without having learned to keep her room in a civilized manner.

I sat down with the family and thanked the girl for being willing to let her room be a laundry hamper. I explained to her that, from now on, everyone in the family was to throw their dirty clothes into her room. She gave me that look teenagers reserve for adults they think are morons, and replied, “Whateverrrr.” The outcome? After four days she promised to keep her room in better shape.

RileyBookOnce you decide to use your sense of humor, you also have options for managing other problems. Does your son argue with you too much? Tell him that, unless he stops, you will ground him from his mouth. For one hour he cannot talk, eat, drink, or make sounds of any sort. If he does, the hour starts over again.

Does your daughter make you ask her fifty-seven times to put her book bag some place other than where you will either step on it our over it? If so, tell her you will be willing to ask her twice to put away her bag, but reminders after that will cost her twenty-five cents each.

The key to using your sense of humor to get your child’s attention amounts to using techniques that are harmless to your child’s self-concept and are not driven by guilt or shame. At the same time, the techniques you come up with have to be something you absolutely will follow through with if your child calls your bluff and continues to ignore you.

The end result of using your sense of humor is something most parents find quite surprising. First, your child is likely to find the techniques funny, and this can break the ice. Second, even though talk, reason, and logic have not been working, when your child finds you are willing to go far outside the box to intervene, he or she often quickly regains the ability to listen and do as asked. Finally, your child is likely to come to see you as someone who genuinely is funny. Kids are drawn to funny, humorous adults, and it is precisely this attraction that helps you engage them in a way that is warm and loving. Result: You won’t regret you choice to become a parent in the first place!###

Dr. Doug Riley‘s latest book, Dr. Riley’s Box of Tricks, has more ideas on using humor and other strategies with a difficult child, For more information about Dr. Riley or to order the book, CLICK HERE to go to his website.