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Category Archives for "Children and Family"

Dec 17

The Extended Victims of the Horrific School Massacre in CT

By Dr. Jack Singer | Children and Family , Counseling , General

By Jack Singer, Ph.D.
Licensed Clinical Psychologist

bt ctWhile we all try to make sense out of latest horrendous school shooting that has befallen this country, our focus often ignores the plight of the other “victims”…the families of the victims, the friends of the victims, the children who survived this devastating event and other children and families around the world, who viewed this horror through the media.

We usually use the term, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) for people fighting in wars, rape and crime victims, or those battling natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina or Sandy.  PTSD can present itself in many forms.

These symptoms can be grouped into three categories:

1. Re-experiencing symptoms:

  • Flashbacks—reliving the trauma over and over, including physical symptoms like a racing heart, sweating and panic
  • Bad dreams
  • Frightening thoughts.

Words, objects, or situations that are reminders of the event can also trigger re-experiencing.

2. Avoidance symptoms:

  • Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the experience
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Feeling strong guilt, depression, or worry
  • Losing interest in activities that were enjoyable in the past
  • Having trouble remembering the dangerous event.

Things that remind a person of the traumatic event can trigger avoidance symptoms.

3. Hyper-arousal symptoms:

  • Being easily startled
  • Feeling tense or “on edge”
  • Having difficulty sleeping, and/or having angry outbursts.

Hyper-arousal symptoms are usually constant, instead of being triggered by things that remind one of the traumatic event. They can make the person feel stressed, constantly worried about danger and angry. These symptoms may make it hard to do daily tasks, such as sleeping, eating, or concentrating.

In the Sandy Hook disaster, we have families, whose lives took a sudden and dramatic change right before the celebration of Christmas, so for these people every Christmas from now on has the potential of pulling those families back to these horrific memories.

Once Sandy Hook Elementary re-opens, the PTSD could re-visit survivors upon entering the school, passing by the areas where shootings took place, etc.

Parents all over the world could now face children suffering with fear, who cannot express those fears.  Parents need to be vigilant to signs or symptoms of PTSD and take action immediately.

What Do Parents Need to Do, Now? 

Parents need to speak to their children now, rather than waiting for the child to discuss what happened.  Gently help your children identify their feelings, rather than sitting them down and lecturing them.  First, identify the feelings, let them know that crying and fear are normal reactions, reflect back what you hear them say (empathizing with them and validating those feelings and fears) be sensitive to them, and ask what questions they may have.

The bottom line is that children need to feel safe and secure.  It’s ok to tell them that there are bad people in the world who do bad things, but there are millions and millions of children their age who never have bad things happen to them and their will most likely never experience anything like this.

Be prepared to have ongoing conversations with your children, because just because they are acting normally now, does not mean that they are not still processing what happened and fears can arise any time.

Young children who saw the horror on TV or heard about it may also worry about their own teachers and administrators not being able to protect them, because they couldn’t protect the victims at Sandy Hook. These are all issues that need to be addressed, rather than avoided.

Be sensitive to fear and insecurity coming out in children who live in disruptive homes, where the parents may be battling each other, for example.  Such children may be feeling even more insecure now, with the fear of impending divorce, etc.

For parents of classmates and siblings of the victims, be aware of feelings of survivor guilt (“Why didn’t I die?” Or “I was fighting with my brother before he went to school and I said to myself, ‘I hate him, I wish I didn’t have a brother’).  These young people need to be counseled about this tragedy certainly not being their fault and that having angry thoughts about a sibling never leads to a tragedy like this.  Parents who provide a faith base to their children should consult with their religious mentors about a discussion about G-d’s plan, here. Families often find comfort and healing in their faith and discussions with those in their religious community.

Certainly, if parents feel overwhelmed or helpless in dealing with their youngsters, seek out professional help.

Let this unspeakable tragedy become a beacon to families around the world to bond closer to your children, assure them that they are safe and look at the world through their eyes before making decisions that can dramatically affect them.

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

About the Author:

Dr. Jack Singer is a professional speaker, trainer and psychologist. He has been speaking for and training Fortune 1000 companies, associations, CEO’s and elite athletes for 34 years.  Among the association conventions which Dr. Jack has keynoted are those which serve financial planners.

Dr. Jack is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, FOX SPORTS and countless radio talk shows across the U.S. and Canada.  He is the author of “The Teacher’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide,” and several series of hypnotic audio programs, some specifically for athletes and some for anyone wanting to raise their self-confidence and esteem. To learn more about Dr. Singer’s speaking and consulting services, please visit  DrJackSinger.com and FunSpeaker.com or call him in the U.S. at (800) 497-9880.

Oct 22

The Long Term Effects of Abusive Coaching Practices

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Children and Family , Stress , Stress Management

By Jack Singer, Ph.D.
Licensed Sport Psychologist

Jerry Sandusky Sex AbuseWith all of the reverberations emanating from the Jerry Sandusky crimes against young men who trusted him, parents should now be hyper-vigilant about the warning signs of coaches in whom they have entrusted their children. There are many subtle examples of emotionally abusive coaching practices that take place every day and which parents often ignore.

In my more than 30 years of practice, I have heard hundreds of cases of coaches who embarrass, humiliate, intimidate, belittle, frighten and threaten their young athletes, all in the name of motivating them and getting them to perform their best. For many athletes, these coaching practices cause psychological trauma, which has a cumulative effect on the person and may not be noticed until significant emotional damage has already occurred. Many athletes want to quit a sport in which they are very talented, in order to avoid the coach, and parents express disappointment in the child for giving up.

Recent research, reported in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, with parents who reflected on these effects on their children years after they were disengaged from their coaches, shows that the parents felt extreme guilt and sorrow that they allowed their children to be exposed to such coaching practices.

The abuse process follows this pattern:

  1. A coach identifies a child as talented at an early age.
  2. Parents are asked to trust the coach’s expertise and relinquish a degree of control over their child’s coach.
  3. Parents are told not to distract athletes, therefore are often barred from the gym. The child comes home and is depressed, frightened or anxious and the parents encourage them to fight on.
  4. The child and family are required to put the sport, time commitments, etc. at the top of their priorities, sacrificing the child’s other interests.
  5. Seeing other parents in the same situation and often competitive themselves causes some parents to accept what is happening as a given. They don’t want their child to appear “wimpish,” and they are told that the child just needs to be more mentally tough. This includes coaches telling their child not cry and fight through painful injuries.
  6. Parents keep quiet because they see their child’s only chance at success lying with this coach and they don’t want to do anything to anger that coach.

Most of the parents who were interviewed after their child “retired” from their athletic career expressed severe guilt and remorse for allowing what they referred to as “emotional abuse” to occur during those formative years. Many pointed to the psychological help their youngsters needed long after retiring, in in order to repair the damage.

Indeed, I have treated many ex-athletes, whose traumatic experiences at the hands of abusive coaches and ignoring parents had long-term effects on their lives, their families, and how they treated their own children.

Fortunately, abusive coaches do not represent the mainstream of coaching, but they certainly do exist in all sports. Parents need to be hyper-vigilant for these forms of abuse, talk to other parents who experience the same from these coaches, and report this abuse to the proper athletic authorities. Only then will these coaches be quickly removed from their positions of trust and our children will be spared.

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

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About the Author:

Dr. Jack Singer is a professional speaker, trainer and psychologist. He has been speaking for and training Fortune 1000 companies, associations, CEO’s and elite athletes for 34 years.  Among the association conventions which Dr. Jack has keynoted are those which serve financial planners.

Dr. Jack is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, FOX SPORTS and countless radio talk shows across the U.S. and Canada.  He is the author of “The Teacher’s Ultimate Stress Mastery Guide,” and several series of hypnotic audio programs, some specifically for athletes and some for anyone wanting to raise their self-confidence and esteem. To learn more about Dr. Singer’s speaking and consulting services, please visit  DrJackSinger.com and FunSpeaker.com or call him in the U.S. at (949) 497-9880.

 

Sep 13

Coaching by Intimidation Does NOT Work

By Dr. Jack Singer | Applied Sports Psychology , Children and Family , Elite Athletes

To all parents of athletes who have to deal with arrogant, hostile, insulting coaches:

Coaches bullying kidsDuring my 33 years as a Professional Sport Psychologist, I have been disheartened by the volume of young athletes who describe coaches that “coach” by intimidation, threats and humiliation.  While I understand that many of these coaches are successful, what the coaches don’t seem to understand is that their success is a result of motivated young athletes who will tolerate these methods, rather than the method itself being the reason for the success.”

Every year, so many parents bring youngsters to me who are stellar, gifted athletes, but they want to quit their sport.  Afraid to say it’s because of the coach’s methods, for fear of looking weak, they come up with mysterious injuries and a whole host of reasons to describe why they no longer have the passion for the sport.

Most coaches don’t conduct exit interviews to determine why their charges quit, or switch coaches; instead, they write them off as wimps who couldn’t take the pressure.  Moreover, many parents get upset with their youngsters after all of the years of sacrifice and expense.

Now a well researched article documenting the plight of  youngsters who are “forced” to tolerate such coaches and parental pressure to continue, has been published.  Stay tuned for my summary of that article.  As a parent, or a coach, these findings will be eye opening!”

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer


May 07

How to Protect Your Children From Sexual Predators

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Children and Family

How to protect your children from sexual predators by Jack Singer, Ph.D. Clinical/Sport Psychologistby Jack Singer, Ph.D. Clinical/Sport Psychologist
The greatest risk to our children from sexual abuse surprisingly comes from friends and family.

In light of the devastating events that allegedly took place at Penn State and Syracuse Universities, we now see fresh evidence of horrific child sexual abuse that continues to be all too prevalent in our society. How many children have been violated and are living with horrible emotions, too frightened to come forward? Although it is impossible to put a cocoon around your children, there are many measures that you can put to use, which will mitigate the danger.

Vulnerability

The greatest risk to our children doesn’t come from strangers but from friends and family. Between 30% to 40% of children are abused by family members. As many as 60% are abused by people the family trusts, including relatives, coaches, teachers, clergy and others who are in positions of authority, power and influence. Imagine how difficult it is for children to say no to such people, especially if the abuser describes his behavior as “loving” or “caring”.

Those who sexually abuse children are drawn to settings where they can gain easy access to children, such as sports leagues, religious youth centers, clubs, and schools. They go to extraordinary efforts to gain the trust of parents and other relatives. Imagine, for example, the vulnerability of a single parent’s children when a coach or teacher volunteers to watch over them after school or during times the parent must be at work.

Warning Signs

  • Beware of adults who give excessive attention to your children, such as trying to get into one-on-one situations with them repeatedly. Where this gets tricky is with teachers and coaches, who show sincere care and want to offer one-on-one counsel. It is hard to differentiate genuine care from those who prey on children.
  • Look for changes in your child’s behavior, moods, attitudes and school performance. Abusers frighten their victims by telling them that they (the victim) let it happen and their parents will be angry so “don’t tell.” Even worse, some abusers threaten family members if the child tells.

Prevention

First, a coach should never be in a locker room alone with an athlete. Other players or coaches must be present. This not only goes for coaches of the same sex as the athlete, but obviously also in situations where the coach and athlete are opposite sexes.

Secondly, for younger players in particular, a parent should be present at all practices. This is important not only to mitigate against sexual abuse possibilities, but also to hopefully mitigate the verbal abuse that often takes place between coaches and athletes. Coaches often bristle at parents being present because they don’t want parental interference in their coaching style. Assert yourself with the coach. If he insists that you not be present, remove your child from that coach/team.

If you have no proof of abuse, but you are worried about your child’s changing behavior or mood, it is better to err in the conservative direction by removing your child from the coach, team, club or situation.

If your child displays any of the warning signs above, attempt to speak with your child about what is disturbing him/her. Abused children often feel more comfortable discussing their fears with a trusted adult — afraid their parents will be angry or ashamed of them. So, have a relative or close friend connect with your child if you suspect anything. Don’t be disappointed that your child cannot discuss what happened with you.

If your child does begin to discuss what happened, make it safe for the child to express their fears. Don’t probe any more than the child feels comfortable with. It may take several discussions before your child can get all of the details out. Don’t judge your child. Just be empathetic and get the child professional help. Child psychologists are experts at helping abused children deal with their fears and trauma.

As parents, we are vigilant about teaching our children to watch for traffic before crossing, always put on your seat belt, and lock the doors when they are home alone. It is time we extend that vigilance to frank discussions about what behaviors by adults with whom they interact are proper and what behaviors are not. Tell your children to come to you when they are confused or worried about any adult’s interactions with them.

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

 

Apr 30

Youth and Sports: What Does Love Have to Do With It?

By Dr. Jack Singer | Applied Sports Psychology , Blog , Children and Family

By Jack Singer, Ph.D.
Certified Sport Psychologist

Youth and Sports by Sports Psychologist Dr. Jack SingerSo much anecdotal evidence exists today of the impact that coaches and the “climate” in which they teach their young charges have on the performance and development of these youngsters. We have all heard of coaches who coach by fear, intimidation and the threat to bench a player. Believe me, in my 33 years of practice as a Professional Sport Psychologist, I have seen the unbelievable damage that such coaching causes on the self-esteem and confidence of young athletes. It’s the rare coach who takes the time to understand each athlete and treat her/him with respect and concern for the greater goal, rather than for whether they win.

Now, there is a wonderful study of exactly what characteristics lead to the best outcomes for youngsters who engage in sporting activities. As reported in the latest issue of “Sport, Exercise, and Performance Psychology,” the purpose of the study was to examine if the influence of youngsters’ perceptions of a “caring climate” in a summer sport camp program would predict psychological well being of those youngsters throughout their sports camp experience.

The results were amazing! Youngsters who perceived that their counselors/coaches truly cared about them (that is, they felt valued, supported, and accepted, (as opposed to judged or criticized) were much happier and much more coachable. These youngsters maintained hope in the face of failure, and remained happy, rather than sad or depressed. “Results suggest that equipping adults with strategies to create a positive and caring climate can reap significant rewards for young people with regard to their overall physical and psychological development.”

This proves the adage that a “sandwich” approach to coaching youngsters works wonders: Find something good to say about his/her performance, then give feedback about how she/he can improve, and finish it off with something else that is positive. this is the essence of providing a positive and caring climate in which youngsters can learn their sport. And that’s the winning ticket!

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

 

Jan 18

Do You Dread Going Home At Night?

By Dr. Jack Singer | Children and Family , Stress Management

Learn to overcome conflict at home using these powerful prescriptions.

Does this sound like your family?

You are a Type A personality. You’re driven, intense and focused primarily on your career. You tend to look at yourself as having to be perfect, are impatient with co-workers and subordinates who are slower than you or who don’t share your passion about their work and careers.

Of course, these personality traits carry over to your home life, as well. You get impatient and easily irritated at your teens who don’t have that kind of passion about school, sports, or anything in their lives, except, their friends.

Most likely, your spouse does not share your personality traits, either. It’s what attracted you to them. They may be a people pleaser, “yessing” you and accepting you because he/she loves you. You predicted that you would be happily married, partly because it would be unlikely that your spouse would compete with you and therefore, you would always be in control in the relationship.

Or, perhaps, your spouse or one of your children, is just as competitive as you and therefore there is a constant power struggle going on within the family.

Unresolved or insensitively managed conflict negatively impacts families on multiple levels. In these situations, you hate coming home perhaps as much as you hate going to work. On the other hand, if you can learn how to skillfully resolve conflicts, it can be a platform for enhancing the love and warmth within your family.

The following is a three-step series of behavioral prescriptions for assessing and implementing a conflict resolution program at home. Once put into practice, in as little as 21 days you can see positive change in your relationship with your spouse, children and stop the “I hate going home” feeling:

Rx #1. Use A Thought Stopping Technique

Whenever you get angry at a family member, it is never what that family member says or does that gets you angry; rather, it is your interpretation (based on your own internal dialogue) of what that family member says or does that always determines your
emotional reaction.

Internal Dialogue

The key to analyzing your vulnerability to being provoked into confrontations, is to understand when your automatic thoughts, including your assumptions and conclusions, are distorted and therefore cause the emotional reactions you make.

Examples of automatic thought distortions are:

  • “My teenager should respect my rules, even if she doesn’t like them.”(using should, must, and have to in judging your actions);
  • “My husband is selfish and doesn’t care about my needs, ” (reading your spouse’s mind about what he must be thinking and feeling);
  • “I will never be happy as long as these kids are living in this house.”(catastrophizing or fortune telling about what negative things will happen to you in the future);
  • “I’m a failure as a parent” (negatively labeling yourself instead of describing your behavior as unfortunate or unproductive).

Thought Stopping

Once you learn about the distortions that are part of your automatic thinking, you can then learn how to stop them in their tracks. This works through a process of challenging your distorted thinking and developing a more rational, alternative set of beliefs. . The end result is dissolving negative emotions and engaging in a healthy, more reasonable outlook, despite the situation.

Rx # 2. – Identify Your Typical Conflict Management Habits

People resort to behavioral habits when they experience conflict with others. These reactions include:

  • Non-productive behaviors, such as: confronting, dominating, defending, using sarcasm,hostile humor, repressing emotions, insisting on being right, stonewalling, and blaming;
  • Neutral behaviors, such as: avoiding, cooling off, apologizing, and giving in or backing off to avoid confrontation;
  • Positive behaviors, such as: active listening, empathizing, disarming, inquiring, and using “I feel” statements.

The goal is to eliminate negative and neutral behaviors and practice positive confrontation reduction skills until they become new habits. On the average, with practice, these skills actually can be learned in only 21 days!

Rx # 3. – Use These Powerful Confrontation Reduction Skills

Active Listening 

The key to all interpersonal communications is genuine listening. This is different from defensive listening, which is where you internally plan your retort
while the other person is talking to you.

In order to really listen, paraphrase what the other person says in your own words. Do this without judging, agreeing or disagreeing. Then, listen and reflect the content, needs and feelings of the other person.

Next, ask for feedback to determine whether you interpreted correctly. If you have not, ask for clarification. Continue this process until you are sure that you have heard what the other person is saying and how he or she really feels emotionally.

Once you are certain that you understand the message and feelings expressed by the other person, respond. The other person then listens and paraphrases for you. This process continues until you have both clarified your positions and are certain that the other person really heard you and understands.

Empathizing

This involves putting yourself in the other person’s shoes and trying to see the world through his or her eyes. As you do this, consider the age and experience of the person with whom you are in conflict so you can accurately assess the experience of the other person.

Disarming

The fastest way to defuse an argument is to find some truth in what the other person is saying, even if you do not agree with the basic criticism or complaint. For example, saying “I can understand why you feel angry with me since you believe that I
violated your trust by sharing our conversation with dad” acknowledges and validates the angry person’s feelings without actually agreeing with what was said. This opens the door to clarification, feedback and reconciliation.

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

Dec 05

Children Experience Stress Too!

By Dr. Jack Singer | Children and Family , Stress Management

Here are five solid tips to help your children minimize and deal with stress.

Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer discusses stress in children and what parents and adults can do to help kids cope.Childhood has changed. Instead of pick-up baseball and basketball games on the corner lot, there are competitive travel leagues for kids as young as seven or eight. Instead of the three “R’s”; Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic, kids are faced with standardized tests and after-school tutors. Instead of Sunday night with the Wide World of Disney, there’s questionable “family” shows such as the Family Guy, South Park, and the Simpsons. And then there’s technology!

Kids today are experiencing higher levels of stress than ever before, partly because they’re being exposed to “mature” material before they’re able to process it, partly because the demands on their time are higher than ever, and partly because they don’t have time to decompress.

Here are five ways to help the kids in your life minimize and deal with stress.

Turn off the TV.

Even when carefully monitored, TV can still cause kids stress. The bright colors, advertisements, and frenetic action are all designed to pull kids in, but they’re not designed to calm them down. (Some shows have even caused seizures in epileptic children). Turn off the assault on their senses. Sit with your children and discuss the day. Discuss what is going on in their lives. Listen to them!

Help kids identify and name their stress.

Kids, especially younger ones, can have a hard time recognizing and labeling their stress. They may know they feel “bad” or uneasy, but may not know that what they’re feeling is stress or anxiety. Ask questions about what the bad emotions feel like (butterflies? angry tigers? a tummy ache?) and then help your child figure out when the feelings started. Was it when the teacher handed out the math test ? When former best friend Lanie sat with someone else at lunch? When everyone laughed at your book report? Identifying what children are feeling can help them sort out those feelings and instill the belief they have some control over the stress they’re experiencing.

Give kids choices.

One of the biggest sources of stress for anyone of any age is feeling like they don’t have control over their lives, or the events in it. By giving your child a say in what’s happening to them, you help them feel more powerful. Let’s say your fourth-grader is freaking out about her math class. You can’t let her skip math, but you can give her options. Does she want to ask the teacher for extra help, or look into tutoring? Would she like Mom or Dad or an older neighbor to help her? Would she prefer to study in the morning or right after school? Even small choices help a child feel a sense of control over the outcome of a stressful situation.

Be a good listener.

Sometimes, the best thing to do is to just listen to your child, without offering advice or suggestions. Listening will allow your child to share some of the burden of their anxiety, which can help alleviate anyone’s stress. By paying attention to them, you can also gain insight into what the underlying sources of their stress may be.

Be there for your child.

Just knowing that you are unquestionably available to your child can help him or her feel more secure and less stressed. After a tough day at school, to be able to come home and be surrounded by a loving, caring family can be the best stress-reliever of all. Take time to laugh and have fun, and create positive memories and events to counteract any negative occurrences in their life. It will help you relieve your own stress, too!

When we assume our kids are processing stress the same way we do, we are missing an opportunity. We have the tools available to help ourselves through stressful situations because we’ve been around long enough to know what stress feels like and how to combat it. Your child doesn’t have those tools. It’s your job to observe, listen, and then help your child work through their feelings. Pass your knowledge on to your child and everyone wins.

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

Aug 15

Kid’s Have Stress Too

By Dr. Jack Singer | Children and Family , Stress

Why Children Are More Stressed Than Ever And What You Can Do To Help

3-r-s-reading-writing-and-arithmeticChildhood has changed. Instead of pick-up baseball and basketball games on the corner lot, there are competitive travel leagues for kids as young as seven or eight. Instead of the three “R’s”; Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic,  kids are faced with standardized tests and after-school tutors. Instead of Sunday night with the Wide World of Disney, there’s questionable “family” shows such as the Family Guy, South Park, and the Simpsons. And then there’s technology!

Kids today are experiencing higher levels of stress than ever before, partly because they’re being exposed to “mature” material before they’re able to process it, partly because the demands on their time are higher than ever, and partly because they don’t have time to decompress.

Here are five ways to help the kids in your life minimize and deal with stress.

Turn off the TV

Even when carefully monitored, TV can still cause kids stress. The bright colors, advertisements, and frenetic action are all designed to pull kids in, but they’re not designed to calm them down. (Some shows have even caused seizures in epileptic children). Turn off the assault on their senses. Sit with your children and discuss the day. Discuss what is going on in their lives. Listen to them!

Help kids identify and name their stress

Kids, especially younger ones, can have a hard time recognizing and labeling their stress. They may know they feel “bad” or uneasy, but may not know that what they’re feeling is stress or anxiety. Ask questions about what the bad emotions feel like (butterflies? angry tigers? a tummy ache?) and then help your child figure out when the feelings started.  Was it when the teacher handed out the math test ? When former best friend Keeshia sat with someone else at lunch? When everyone laughed at your book report? Identifying what children are feeling can help them sort out those feelings and instill the belief they have some control over the stress they’re experiencing.

Give kids choices

One of the biggest sources of stress for anyone of any age is feeling like they don’t have control over their lives, or the events in it. By giving your child a say in what’s happening to them, you help them feel more powerful. Let’s say your fourth-grader is freaking out about her math class. You can’t let her skip math, but you can give her options. Does she want to ask the teacher for extra help, or look into tutoring? Would she like Mom or Dad or an older neighbor to help her? Would she prefer to study in the morning or right after school? Even small choices help a child feel a sense of control over the outcome of a stressful situation.

Be a good listener

Sometimes, the best thing to do is to just listen to your child, without offering advice or suggestions. Listening will allow your child to share some of the burden of their anxiety, which can help alleviate anyone’s stress. By paying attention to them, you can also gain insight into what the underlying sources of their stress may be.

Be there for your child

Just knowing that you are unquestionably available to your child can help him or her feel more secure and less stressed. After a tough day at school, to be able to come home and be surrounded by a loving, caring family can be the best stress-reliever of all. Take time to laugh and have fun, and create positive memories and events to counteract any negative occurrences in their life. It will help you relieve your own stress, too!

When we assume our kids are processing stress the same way we do, we are missing an opportunity.  We have the tools available to help ourselves through stressful situations because we’ve been around long enough to know what stress feels like and how to combat it.  Your child doesn’t have those tools.  It’s your job to observe, listen, and then help your child work through their feelings. Pass your knowledge on to your child and everyone wins.

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

 

Jul 27

How To Encourage Your Child’s Love of Reading

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Children and Family , General

Teaching Your Child to Read by Dr. Jack SingerReading, and a love for reading begins long before a child enters preschool or kindergarten. It begins at home! By reading with and to your children early in life, you are setting them firmly on the path to later success.

There are so many fun activities that we can do with our children to get them excited about books and the world of reading. When kids are having fun, it is so much easier to draw them into something – like the wonderful world of literature. The very best thing we can do is to guide and direct them to enjoy it for themselves. When we are intrinsically motivated to do something, it is a much more lasting motivation.

Here are some family reading time tips for parents or caregivers of young children:

  • Read together every day. This is family time, bonding time, and it is so important to both you and the child! Be sure to express to your child or children how much you enjoy and value this time together.
  • Explore the story with your child. When you have finished a chapter or a book, ask your child what their favorite part of the story was. Then have them draw a picture of the part of the narrative that so captured their imagination. When they are done, ask them for a short explanation of their picture and that part in the story.
  • Build critical thinking skills. Play a guessing game with your child as the story progresses. Ask specific questions on the plot or key events to ‘set the stage’ for reading such as: “So what is going on in the story?”, “What happened so far?” “Where are they at?”. ” What do you think will happen next?”. This will teach your child how to find, identify, extract and understand main ideas.
  • Develop skills in processing and understanding text as they read. As your child is reading, they will come across unknown vocabulary or expressions. Pause and see if they understand what they are reading. Explain or define the word or expression and then them re-read the paragraph or section.

An activity that will help with reading and make your little one feel a bit more grown up is helping you cook from a cookbook. You can explain to your child that it is important to put the ingredients in and follow the instructions in the recipe in order. Then you let your child be in charge of reading the recipe to you as you make the dish. You will, of course, give them any help they need. But they can also read the labels on the ingredients that you are using. For instance, they can help you differentiate between baking powder and baking soda and make sure you get the right one. Perhaps you might even let them fix your ‘mistake’ when you pick up the wrong one.

When you can get a child excited about things – making pictures, funny games that maybe lead to silly stories, helping in the kitchen and feeling like a big kid – you help to raise their confidence and also their motivation to really enjoy books and reading. Getting creative and changing things up can inspire children to get reading!

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

 

Jul 25

What to Do When Your Child Refuses to Attend College

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Children and Family , General

What to do When Your Child Refuses to Attend College by Dr. Jack SingerAs a parent, you certainly want the best for your children. While a college education is important, it is only one of many roads to success. But you are convinced that college is the best road for your child and you are meeting with resistance,  trying using the  following tactics to convince your children of the value of a college education. Keep in mind however, that all you can do is guide and suggest. The final decision is ultimately up to your son or daughter.

1. Give Him/Her a Chance to Explain. Be glad that you’ve raised a teen that has his own ideas about life and wants to carve his own path to success. Give him a chance to explain exactly why he believes that chasing a college education is the wrong direction for him. Of course, try to keep an open mind.

  • As a parent, hearing, “I don’t want to go to college right now” can seem like the end of the world. However, refusing to attend college right now still leaves the door open for him to get a degree in the future.
  • After twelve consecutive years of schooling, it’s understandable that your child wants to take a break from academics to focus on finding out what life’s all about.
  • Strive to be supportive and listen with an open mind.

2. Come to an Agreement. If your son or daughter’s mind is made up about foregoing college this year, meet him or her halfway.

  • Allow him or her to take a year or two off from schooling in order to pursue different dreams. If your child tests the waters and finds them to be deeper than he or she expects, they’ll probably return to school. If your child is successful without higher education, celebrate his or her success. But, I advise that you put certain financial expectations in play here. You do not want to be in a position of having to pay for your 35 year old son or daughters’ college tuition because you didn’t limit parental expectations. There comes a point when they are very definitely on their own and they need to recognize this from the very beginning. If that college fund that you have been saving towards for so long is not used for college, at some point you are very much within your rights to use it for something else. Be sure that your child understands that this is not THEIR money. It is YOURS, and will be used as you see fit should they not attend college.

3. Provide an Incentive. If you truly believe that your child’s only true shot at attaining a successful career is by attending college, entice him or her to your point of view. Offer a financial incentive or other type of reward that he or she can earn with solid, specific academic progress.

  • If you offer an incentive for your child to attend school, he may attend only for the reward. If so, he may lack the academic effort, waste his time and throw away your money in the process. If you tie the reward to specific academic goals, you’ll ensure that he’s serious about school.

It’s only natural to want the best for your children. And college generally is the best route to success for most individuals. However, it’s important to understand that college is only one of many paths to success in life. Your role in your child’s success is to support and encourage him to chase after his dreams. Ultimately, he has to decide on the path that’s right for him.

Trust in your parenting skills. You’ve raised a talented, intelligent, and self-sufficient young adult. It can be hard to let go, but you’ve instilled in your child the values you deem important. As he goes through the trials of life, he’ll stay true to those values with or without a college degree.

Jul 20

Why You Should Read To Your Young Children

By Dr. Jack Singer | Children and Family , General

Why You Should Read Outloud To Your Children by Dr. Jack SingerReading out loud to children of all ages is very important. It is so helpful in their literacy development and also in their mastery of language. Studies have shown that children that don’t have people reading aloud to them struggle in school and later in life in several areas. We know that to become successful you have to be literate in our society, so it is incumbent upon us to do a better job of helping children at these beginning stages and throughout their development.

Reading out loud to children can expand their vocabularies, foster more vivid imaginations, and help them learn pronunciation skills. Some sentences or sections of books or even whole books may get skipped over if a child is only reading to himself. When the text is beyond the child’s level of literacy, they are much more likely to choose something else to read. So therefore, when children are read to, they are being exposed to literature that they may not be able to evince any interest in.

It can be also good for kids to hear books that are above their own reading levels. They are exposed to sentence structure, words, and concepts that they would not normally encounter on their own. Their brains are being fed and nurtured and they do not even realize it. They are just enjoying the experience of having someone read to them. Not only are you spending some very quality time with the child, but you are building on their literacy development and speaking skills. The experience of the read-aloud time can be a great bonding time between a mother and a child, an older sibling and a younger sibling, or a teacher and her students. They are coming together over a book they both enjoy and sharing a pleasant time together.

When we turn reading into a pleasurable experience like this is so unbelievably good for children, in terms of motivating them to read and to love and enjoy books. So often books turn into ‘just a part of school’ for children, they turn into ‘work’, and many children get really turned off from books because they view reading as a chore and just naturally rebel. Doing all that we can, as their caregivers, to show them how wonderful an experience reading is will do tremendous good in keeping them excited about reading.

Be Consistent

At a certain point during children’s school years, parents and teachers stop reading out loud to kids. Often this happens when the child goes to middle school. Experts suggest that we continue to read to children of all ages. It is a wonderful bonding time we can spend with children and it is still very good for them, even if we – or they – feel they are too old for it. The biggest thing you will be doing is to keep them interested in reading for pleasure. Just like when they were first learning to read and there was that danger of their equating reading with work, the very same thing happens in the teen years. This is true for many teens. There are some who will still read for pleasure, but, they are becoming rare.

Helping our children develop these life-critical skills begins with conversations and a commitment to read aloud every day. And that commitment doesn’t end when they begin school and learn to read. It is imperative that we encourage older children to continue to read. As parents, we must stay attuned to the things that interest them and work hard to help them find reading material that match those interests. We must guide our children to become lifelong readers and lifelong learners. And we can do that at home, with some fun family bonding time. And in so doing, we will also be strengthening our families.

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

Jul 18

Is Your Child Resisting Learning How to Read?

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Children and Family , General

Teach Your Kids Reading By Labeling Your House by Dr. Jack SingerThere is a fun and simple way to get your kids started recognizing some basic words. You can do it easily without even having to spend any money. Simply label things in your house. The kids will enjoy getting involved in the ongoing process of labeling things, as well.

You will need some small strips of paper (you might adjust the size according to the item you are labeling), a pair of scissors, a pen or marker, and some tape. Or you can purchase different color Post It notes.

Go through the house room by room, looking for things to label. Say, for instance, you started in the kitchen. Some things in the kitchen you could label are: cabinet, microwave, refrigerator, drawer. Labels will probably not stick on the oven or the dishwasher doors when they heat up – and when the dishwasher blows out steam. There ample opportunities in the kitchen for naming things, though. You could even keep a stack of paper on the counter and when you come back from the store once a week, you and your child can label cereal boxes, cans of soup, etc.

Constant repetition of these basic words will help your child recognize them by sight and can also begin to help with letter recognition. This is a very basic step in the learning to read process and will not help with phonics skills. It is, however, a very important step and a fun way for your child to begin to ‘know’ words on his own.

You and your child can get very creative with all of this labeling, too. As stated before, some of the strips of paper can be different sizes, according to the thing being labeled. The strips of paper can also be arranged on things differently. For example, you can put the word ‘window’ vertically on the middle bar that separates two windows. And on venetian blinds, you can tape the word ‘blinds’ to an individual blind so that it is easily read when the blind is closed in the downward position. Your child will think it is so funny, because, when you open the blind it will be harder to read. And if you close the blind in the upward position, you won’t be able to read it at all.

This is a good way to use the things in your house in the same manner that you would a flashcard. Close the blinds up and quiz your child on the first letter of the word. And if they are advancing even more, you can ask them to spell the word. This could also be done with cabinet doors – open the door all the way so you cannot see the word.

One room that is difficult to label is the bathroom. In common with the dishwasher in the kitchen, the bathroom can be a pretty steamy room. It can be labeled, but just  keep in mind that you will be replacing those labels from time to time.

The best thing about using labels all over the house is that your child will consider it ‘play’. He or shee love to help you cut the paper and hang the labels, making it more like a craft than an educational experience. All the while he’ll be learning an important foundation to a life of literacy – what a great combination!

And be sure to really listen to your child. Each child learns differently and it may well be that your child’s interests are in things that are very difficult to label. Find out what interests your child. Is it butterfly’s or airplanes? How about planting a small garden and helping your child label everything that is planted? The possibilities are limitless and require only your imagination and a close observation of your own child or children. Find out what works for them and do it consistently.  Expose your child to different experiences. Learn together.

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

Jul 11

How Do You Talk To Your Baby?

By Dr. Jack Singer | Children and Family , General

How Do You Talk To Your Baby by Dr. Jack SingerDid you know that talking to your baby during pregnancy can help build their language and literacy competency? As improbable as it may sound, developing children’s literacy skills actually begins during pregnancy. In fact, mothers have been doing this since the dawn of time.

When mothers talk to their babies while they’re still in the womb many researches believe that is actually the first step in language development. One thing for sure is that babies get used to the sound of their mother’s voice and perhaps when they are born, that familiarity lends itself to quicker recognition and a fast bond after birth. This is also a wonderful time for the father to bond with both his wife and his unborn child. Many men report that they enjoy gently massaging the mother’s belly and talking to the baby.

Do you love music? Music is thought to be pre-linguistic and contributes to your baby’s foundation for language skills. Listening to music yourself, and singing tunes you enjoy can provide healthy stimulation for your child’s development.

Of course when babies are born, it is very helpful to them for their parents to continue speaking. Babies will start to recognize sounds and get to know gestures and facial expressions. Babies learn so much from the sights and sounds around them and will begin, almost immediately, to try to imitate the sounds their parents make. This is all part of the process of babies figuring out how we, as humans, communicate with each other.  They will start to recognize how we relay information to each other in narrative form and begin to learn how to do that themselves.

We begin to see babies’ story-telling skills emerge in the toddler days when they launch into those long, animated baby monologues. When we listen intently to one of these stories that babies tell, it is almost like we can actually follow along, because, the child is so excited in relaying the details to us. It is very much like watching a foreign-language TV show. If you watch it long enough, you begin to follow the story, even if you don’t understand a word of it. That is the power of the narrative – and the baby has learned that skill from watching us and listening to us intently.

Parents can use every opportunity throughout the day to talk to their baby about anything and everything. That is a great way to build up the babies’ early literacy foundation. When washing the dishes or making dinner or cleaning up, parents can explain the tasks they are doing to their baby. Babies will begin to hear familiar words if the parents are in the habit of doing this frequently.

It is so tempting, when talking to babies and toddlers, to use baby talk. Experts suggest parents speak properly to their children, however, so the children can have the most possible exposure to the correct sound of words. For example, if a child has a ‘baby word’ for banana, and the parent constantly uses that ‘baby word’ back to the child, they are only reinforcing the incorrect pronunciation.

Even if a parent sometimes uses their babies’ pronunciations of words, the important point is that the child is being talked to frequently throughout their day. It is an essential building block of language, and therefore literacy, development.

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

Jun 10

How to Get Your Children To Go To Bed

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Children and Family

How To Get Your Children To Go To Bed by Dr. Jack SingerEstablishing a good nighttime routine can be difficult for families with children of all ages. If you start introducing a routine early in life, your kids may be more likely to stick to a routine later in life. Establishing a routine that keeps your household running smoothly can be a challenge at first, but doing so will result in that peace you desire and deserve. Keep in mind that you are the adult and the children are children. They are not in charge of the household. You are.

The Importance of Sufficient Rest

We all need sleep in order to function well. An important part of your nighttime routine is establishing a consistent bedtime. Enough sleep is vital for your success and the success of your children. Set them up to experience life’s victories by planning for enough rest.

Establish a routine that your children can expect to experience at the same time every day. For instance, if your “getting ready for bed” routine takes approximately 1 hour and you want your children in bed by 8 o’clock, you’ll want to consistently start your nighttime routine around 7 PM.

Nighttime Activities

Set up a sequence of activities that you do in the same order right before bedtime each night. That way, your children know what to expect and when it’s time to wind down for bed.

  • Start your nighttime routine with hygiene. Start with bath time, and allow a little extra time for your children to play. Make the bedtime routine as fun as possible for your children. After bath time, have your children brush their teeth.
  • Next, build some special bonding time into your routine. Younger children might enjoy an evening walk in the stroller. It might help to relax them and help them become drowsy. Older children may appreciate some one-on-one time with mom or dad. Sometimes just letting them chat way while you say nothing much, but just listen attentively may be what they need to relax.
  • Read to your children right before bedtime. Choose a shorter book if your kids are younger. Your children will soon look forward to story time and recognize this as a signal that the day is coming to an end.
  • Sing a lullaby or say goodnight to your children in your own special way. Your children will remember the evening routine for a lifetime, and will likely carry it forward in life with their own children. In addition to providing structure and a way to lower the stress level in your home, your evening routine will show your kids that you love and appreciate them. And this will provide you with some very precious memories after they are grown.
  • Finally, ensure your children use the bathroom just before being tucked in for the night. This eliminates an excuse to get up and provides another signal that bedtime, and sleep time, has now arrived.

Multiple Nighttime Routines

If you have multiple children of different ages, it’s still important to establish a routine. While your children will be going to bed at different times, you can still use those times to bond with each other and wind down for the evening. Plan your routine to accommodate multiple bedtimes if necessary.

Older children can also help with some of the younger ones. The important thing is that everything gets done in an orderly and consistent manner and that your family takes time to be together and enjoy each other.

Bless your family by establishing a nighttime routine. Stick to it in the beginning, and you’ll soon notice that the routine is second nature. Automatically, you’ll be bonding every night and getting everything done with a minimum amount of stress. Begin experiencing the order and peace that you deserve by starting a nighttime routine today.

 

Oct 25

How Tutoring Can Help Your Child Succeed

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Children and Family

by Dr. Jack Singer

Tutoring can help your child get more out of school and out of life. Tutoring might be the helping hand your child needs to remain confident in school and avoid falling behind in the classroom. Even children with the best grades in most subjects can often benefit from receiving one-on-one instruction in the few areas they struggle with most.

Benefits of Getting a Tutor for Your Child:

  1. Improved academic performance. Tutoring can help your child to do better in school. If your child’s grades are suffering, some one-on-one attention without the competitive pressures of the classroom may help them achieve more.
  2. Psychological and social benefits. While academic concerns are often the most obvious motivation, tutoring also has important psychological and social benefits. 
  • Develop new relationships. Tutors can be excellent role models. Tutors with backgrounds different from your own family may also help your child appreciate diverse cultures.

  • Strengthen a love of learning. Good teachers and tutors help children love to learn. This mindset can enrich their lives and help them in their future careers.

  • Learn to accept constructive criticism. Interacting with a tutor is great practice for your child in learning how to interpret and respond to feedback on their performance.

  • Build self-esteem. Children who are falling behind in school may feel badly about themselves and lose interest in education. Tutoring can reverse this situation by giving your child a sense of achievement and a strong foundation for better self-esteem.

How to Work With a Tutor:

  1. Select a tutor carefully. School personnel can be an excellent resource for finding professional or peer tutors. Local branches of education associations may also offer helpful directories. Always check references carefully.

  2. Develop goals and a work plan. Tutoring usually works best when there’s a comprehensive strategy. You and your child can work with a tutor to articulate your goals and how to reach them. Having a plan will also help you evaluate progress.
  3. Monitor the first few sessions. You want your tutor and child to be able to work independently, but it can be helpful to monitor at least part of the first session. You’ll get to see the tutor’s style first-hand and observe how the tutor and your child interact.

  4. Get feedback from the tutor and your child. Help keep things on track by inviting regular feedback from your tutor and your child. This will help you spot any issues of concern and boost your peace of mind.
  5. Involve your child’s school in the process. Let your child’s teacher know that you have engaged a tutor. Enlisting the teacher as an ally can help you all take a coordinated approach to your child’s educational needs and evaluate the effectiveness of your actions.

Tutoring is an excellent tool for helping your child achieve success and happiness with their schoolwork.

Understanding the benefits of tutoring and knowing how to work with a tutor can help you to raise a child who loves learning and achieves strong academic success!

Free 20 Minute Telephone Consultation with Psychologist Dr. Jack Singer

I am also available for phone consultations with athletes around the U.S. and in-person visits with athletes in Southern California. Call today toll free at 1-800-497-9880 for a free 20 minute telephone consultation with Dr. Jack Singer.

Jack N. Singer, Ph.D.
Certified and Licensed Sport and Clinical Psychologist
Diplomate, National Institute of Sports Professionals, Division of Psychologists
Diplomate, American Academy of Behavioral Medicine
Certified Hypnotherapist, American Academy of Clinical Hypnosis