Brooke was shocked when her daughter, Mattie, came home with a grade of 59 on her 6th grade Social Studies test. “But I know Mattie studied. I saw her reading her textbook and looking over her notes. I can’t understand why she wasn’t ready for the test. In elementary school, Mattie was considered a good reader. In middle school, her grades are slipping and it’s hard to figure out why.” Read More
“You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink”
This is a time honored adage, to be sure. For years, I’ve heard variants of it from secondary school teachers and college professors alike. You can make students come to class, but you can’t make them care about their learning. Read More
David Elkind, the famous developmental psychologist, once wrote that “parenting is an attitude”. I recall that when I read this statement, many years ago, I didn’t quite understand it. I had a glimmer of what he meant, but I kept thinking: What type of attitude? And it can’t just be an attitude, right? After all, a parent actually has to do something to raise children.
I think I understand now what Elkind meant. There is, as you know, a lot of advice out there, from a variety of “experts”, about how to parent children. Some advocate using rewards and stickers; others speak of the importance of reasoning with children. Still others talk about how to talk so that kids will listen. And the advice goes on.
Many of us, as parents, harbor some unfounded fears that, if left unchecked, can easily get in the way of our attempts to be good parents.
Nice Parent, Mean Parent
Have you ever noticed how often parents speak – even in jest – of being “nice” or “mean” to their children? “My son wanted to go to a friend’s house before finishing his homework. Read More
Several years ago, I bought my wife a silver bar bearing the question, “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” It was meant to be an inspirational gift. Its message, of course, is quite clear: We tend to avoid challenging projects out of a fear of failure. Failing breeds shame, humiliation and other bad things. If we could only get rid of our fear of failure, who knows what we could accomplish? Read More
What is your Achilles heel? According to the ancient Greek myth, the warrior Achilles was destined to die in battle. His mother, the Goddess Thetis, dipped him in the River Styx, which produced powers of invincibility. However, in order to dip Achilles into the river, she had to hold him by his heel. As a result, the heel was unprotected, and Achilles later died in battle from an arrow to his heel.
When we are vulnerable, we are open to being wounded. And so, in one sense, our vulnerable spot is our weak spot. Read More
What makes learning exciting? The Question. If you start with the question, you can never go wrong. There are three basic steps to the learning process – any learning process. It doesn’t matter whether we are talking about students in a school; the scientists in the laboratory; or the parent and child at the baseball game. It’s all about asking and answering questions. Read More
Happiness comes from finding the good in life. If this is so, how can it be done? What if things aren’t so good right now? Does that mean I must resign myself to unhappiness? How do I know what is good? Does this mean that I always have to be trying to “do good”? Does it meant that I can’t seek pleasure, and that I have to sacrifice myself for others? Not in the least.
Here are three basic ways to cultivate the good in life. Read More
We all know what Goldilocks was looking for as she sampled the three bowls of porridge made by Mother Bear: Not too hot, not too cold, but just right. Like anything, when helping our children adjust to emotional situations, getting it “just right” is easier said than done. Happily, however, we don’t have to get it “just right” all the time. Instead, we simply need to get it “just right” most of the time. Happier still, giving “just the right” emotional guidance is more a matter getting to the “right range” than finding any single fixed point. Read More
Mom: “Paul, please bring those dishes into the kitchen and put them in the dishwasher.”
Paul: “They’re not mine.”
Mom: “You live in this house, right? So you have to pitch in.”
Paul: “But it’s not my responsibility.”
Mom: “Just do it, Paul.”
Paul: “Okay, but I don’t see why I have to…”
Sound familiar? You are not alone. Read More