Children behave the way they behave because they think the way they think

Before parents can effectively intervene to stop a negative behavior it is important to understand what the child is believing and why. Without knowing what the child is thinking that makes their negative behavior rational and sensible to him it will be difficult, if not impossible to redirect or curtail it with optimum results. A good therapist can, by using paradoxical and other techniques, stop most undesirable behaviors. The problem is that stopping the behavior without dealing with the underlying motivation for the behavior has the potential to simply drive the thoughts and feelings to surface in other, often less benign ways.

Therapists, parents and teachers must be very careful about eliminating a behavior that the child finds useful without dealing with the underlying causes of the behavior. The child is much more apt to achieve some level of emotional and behavioral stability if the cause of the behavior is determined and addressed and the behavior gradually lessens of its own accord as it becomes less and less useful to the child.

The keys to unlocking a child's thought processes and thus helping the child change those behaviors which do not contribute to personal or societal happiness are found in the principles of personality development. Personality development has three major components: Genetics, In uterine experience, and First two years of life. These three factors have the most influence in determining how the child is going to think about life, his place in it, whether or not others can be trusted, whether or not the world is a caring place, etc. What happens in these three arenas, in short, contributes heavily to how a child thinks, and how a child thinks is going to determine how the child behaves.

To read this entire article, click here.

How and What to Share with your Children When Tragedy Strikes

1. Turn the TV off

Children are deeply affected by what they see. This latest news of the school shooting in CT (most significantly the footage of it on TV) might be too much for little ears and eyes and hearts. Filtering out horrifying images and words might be best for those too little to understand.  After 9/11, child psychologists coined a new term, “secondary terrorism,” for the  experience many young children went through after being exposed to the terrible events that occurred on an endless television loop.

 2. Consider not telling your youngest children at all

There is no need to burden children who won’t otherwise know about the shootings with this information. Please use extreme wisdom as you decide what to share with your little ones. Much depends on their age and maturity, but YOU should be the one to tell them and not the news.

3. If you must tell your children, use care in what words you choose

Think carefully about what words you will use to tell them what happened. Use simple, age-appropriate sentences, like “Someone came into a school and hurt some children. We don’t know why.” Then you can comfort your children by saying their school is safe, and that you’re confident their school is one of the safest places they can be.  Try your best to assure them of your love and care for them so that they still feel safe. Try to avoid words that sensationalize what happened. Words have such power. Choose them wisely with your young ones.   Let’s say your child follows up with, “But how do you know?” An appropriate reply could be, “Because nothing like this ever happened at your school. Or at Mommy or Daddy’s school.”

 4. Give them age appropriate information about safety at school

Safety talks have become commonplace in our world today. Children thrive when they know what’s expected of them, and since school shootings have (unfortunately) become more commonplace I know more schools are drilling what to do if there’s danger during the school day.  Create a safety plan yourself. Keep it general. Don’t talk about what to do in the event of a school shooting. Instead, say things like, “if there’s ever an emergency, do this…” Or “if you ever hear strange noises in the school and you’re afraid, do this…” then drill it with them. Make your child feel confident that he or she knows what to do in an emergency and they’ll feel safer when they go back.

5. Be authentic and reassuring with your children but keep it simple

The key is honest, concise, but vague information, tailored for your child’s specific questions and age. If your child sees you crying, just be brief and honest. “I’m so sad for what happened to those other families.”  As parents, we have to work to help our children overcome their fears. Try to remain calm and present a strong, reassuring front.

6. Be available to them

Reassure them you are there anytime they need you. Some children may need constant soothing for awhile. Encourage them with notes or texts. The most important thing you want to communicate is not information about this gut-churning event. It’s that when things trouble or confuse your kids, they can come to you for answers, and they will get them, in a way that helps relieve their anxiety. Keep in mind that being fearful is a normal developmental phase—think of the times you’ve had to show your children that there are no monsters under the bed. So you want to be sensitive not to give the kind of unnecessary detail that feeds a child’s tendency toward fear.  And forget the tough love and tough lessons. This is not the time to let your 8-year-old know the world is full of horrible people.

7. Cultivate spirituality in times of crisis

Every family should have a way of coping with difficult things in life, and be able to give meaning to the bad things that happen. Teach them the importance of cultivating their spiritual side to be able to draw strength from that during these times, as well as to offer hope and comfort. If they continue to be fearful after a week or so, or there are changes in their behavior, consult a mental health professional for additional help and support for your child.

Treat Your Baby Like a Monkey!

Parenting Lessons From Nature

Think you're smarter than a chimpanzee? So why does your baby cry and scream so much more than her offspring? What can new parents learn from how non-human primates raise their young?

My first child was born two weeks ago, and I've also been reading Parenting for Primates, Harriet Smith's excellent study of parenting practices among primate species and traditional human societies. While I'm no kind of parenting expert, here are a few of the ideas from this book that I've found useful as a new dad.

Parenting is not instinctive

Many people expect themselves to instinctively know what to do with a new child, and may criticise themselves for lacking a maternal or paternal instinct. This is unrealistic. Even among our primate relatives, parenting is not instinctive. For example, cottontop tamarins who have been hand-reared by humans and brought up in captivity are often terrified of their own offspring, and consequently will neglect and abuse them. In primate species and traditional human societies, individuals learn to parent based on their own childhood experiences, observing others, and supervised babysitting practice. In modern societies, many people arrive at parenthood with little of this experience.

The lesson for new parents is to treat parenting like learning any other complex new skill set. Seek out reliable information and opportunities for supervised practice (e.g. draw on books, relatives, the net, your midwife, and hospital staff). Sometimes advice can seem conflicting or impractical, so you will need to use your critical thinking skills, common sense, and a bit of trial and error to figure out what works for you. As Bruce Lee said, adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.

Babies like to be carried

Many parents will admit putting their baby into the stroller or even the car and taking them somewhere, not because the travel is necessary, but just to help the baby to settle. Why is motion so soothing for babies?

Most primate infants cling to their parents or older relatives and are carried around wherever they go. Human babies don't have the strength to cling, so in traditional societies they are often placed in slings. Since both primate and human babies are relatively helpless in the face of predators and other dangers, being kept close keeps them safe. Being carried in a stroller or being rocked in someone's arms replicates the motion of being carried by someone who is walking, which is probably why it is so reassuring for babies. Also, it was probably adaptive for babies to remain quiet and settled while their parents traversed potentially hostile territory.

Even more effective than a stroller is a baby sling, which keeps your infant warm and close, where she can sense your heartbeat and breathing. A sling allows you to carry on with many day-to-day activities and is also a nice way for dad to be close to baby. Slingbabies provides a useful guide to choosing and using a sling, and you should also read the essential safety guidelines for using a sling.

A corollary of babies' desire to be carried is that they live in constant fearof being dropped (falls are still one of the most common causes of injury to infants). For this reason, they prefer to be held with a firm, confident grip (rather than held tentatively or roughly). This takes practice to develop.

Nature is not silent

Complete silence is uncommon in nature. While your copy of the latest Cannibal Corpse album is unlikely to help your baby sleep, infants sleep better when they hear soft, natural sounds. In one study, 80% of infants fell asleep spontaneously within five minutes when they heard ‘white noise' recordings, whereas only 25% fell asleep without this aid. There are many recordings of this type available (e.g. Sleep Pillow).

Modern life is not always easy for babies

While modern technology has no doubt made life more pleasant for babies in some ways, in other ways it has not. So, if you are wondering why your infant is obstinately resisting you changing her diaper at 4 am, it is worth knowing that diapering babies is an uncommon practice among humans and probably seems quite bizarre to your child. Don't take it personally.

Other useful resources

The website Parenting Science provides an informative and balanced guide to many of the challenging areas of parenting (with references to relevant research). The book Call Me Dad! is an accessible guide to the practicalities of new fatherhood.


By ‘Treat your baby like a monkey' I don't mean to keep her in a cage, feed her on a banana-based diet, or teach her to throw her feces at people she doesn't like. Just to be clear, for those readers who might take things a bit literally.

Published on February 19, 2012 by Carl Beuke, Ph.D. in You're Hired

FREE Nutritious Meals for Kids this Summer!

The Melanie Thornton Youth Arts Foundation is serving FREE nutritious breakfasts and lunches to kids aged 2 to 17 at three locations this summer through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) provided through Bright From the Start for the USDA.  Breakfast will be available from 7:30 to 8:30am and lunch will be available 12pm to 1pm Mondays through Fridays at the Lilburn Cultural Arts Center, 4230 Lawrenceville Hwy., in Lilburn, GA 30047 (behind Wendys), Salem Missionary Baptist Church, 4700 Church St., in Lilburn (off of Killian Hill Road, near Hwy. 29), and The Melanie Thornton Creative Arts Center, 3090 Buford Hwy., Suite 108, in Duluth, GA 30096.  Food service begins this Monday, June 4th in Lilburn and on Monday, June 11th in Duluth. Food service will end on Friday, August 3rd.

The meals are free to all kids aged 2 to 17.  Adults may pay $3 for their meals if they desire to eat with their children.

If anyone has questions they can call Lois at 404-865-1292 ext., 101.

Boundaries with Teens

The word “boundaries” sounds harsh, doesn’t it? Like it’s something threatening to “cage” you in or “restrict” you. And, in most teen’s minds, those boundaries are more like rules and seem to serve only to take away fun and freedom. However, the reality is: healthy relationships, growth, and change cannot happen without boundaries.

So what exactly are boundaries, you ask? Webster defines boundaries as: something that indicates or fixes a limit or extent. A physical example of this would be fences on a ranch; when desiring to keep your horses safe, you build fences to show the limit or extent of to where the horses can wander. When dealing with people, a boundary could be as simple as “No talking to Mom while she’s on the phone” or “You’re only allowed an hour of computer time a day.” These boundaries show individuals where the limit is.

So, parents, does setting boundaries always mean saying “no” to your teen’s desires? Absolutely not. Just like a door that opens and closes boundaries include saying “yes” and saying “no.”  In giving your teen an appropriate level of freedom and independence, you are paving the way for them to experience life – and life isn’t always perfect. Thus, your teen will experience both success and failure. They may choose to speed but the natural life consequence is getting a speeding ticket. So, your boundaries are allowing them to live and learn. However, if your teen seriously breaches trust, a one-way only door may be necessary. In this case, know that those doors can always later be replaced with two-way hinges.

Be willing to change things up. Sure, it made sense that curfew was 9 PM when your child was just starting middle school but, as a senior, an 11 PM curfew might be okay. Make this work for your family in whatever way you need it to; as they change, perhaps you should too.

What about that hot topic of the opposite gender? Despite possibly feeling awkward and uncomfortable, this is a greatly important topic to discuss with your teens. They’re going to hear it – wouldn’t you rather it comes from you? The media and shows like “Teen Mom” and “The Bachelor” portray a slanted view of romance. Discuss the ups and downs of relationships with your teen, support them when they feel rejected and rejoice when they find a healthy match. Talk about sex before marriage and the many risks. Encourage them to set boundaries in their dating relationships and don’t be afraid to ask questions. They may temporarily hate you for it, but they’ll thank you in the long run.

And how about you, parent? We all need to set boundaries in our lives for sanity, health, and modeling purposes. If your teens don’t see appropriate boundary-setting from you, where else will they receive it? For married parents, work together as a team. Know the boundaries you are setting with your kids and stick to it. For separated parents, set your own boundaries and rules and, whether they differ from the other parent’s rules or not, follow through. Your teens need this stability from you. And so do you.

So, go on! Decide what matters to you and set a boundary. Explain it to your teen and always follow through. Cheer on, encourage, and challenge your child. Keep in mind that their future of being a healthy, mature, and independent adult partially has to do with your ability to set those boundaries. Boundaries aren’t meant to “cage” and “restrict” your teen after all; they’re actually meant to set them free.

By: Dara Miller, Affinity Mental Health Intern

Information pulled from: by Tiffany Stuart


Teen Substance Abuse

Ask the Experts: How Can We Help Parents Prevent Teenage Substance Abuse (Part 1)


This is a guest post by Sue Scheff, an Author and Parent Advocate. She founded and created Parents’ Universal Resource Expert (P.U.R.E.) in 2001 and for a decade has been helping families with at-risk teens. In 2008, Health Communications, Inc (HCI) published her first book, Wit’s End! A Parent’s True Story, Advice and Resources for Saving Your Out-of-Control Teen.

Drug use (substance abuse) is a serious cry for help, and making your teen feel ashamed or embarrassed can make the problem worse. Some common behavior changes you may notice if your teenager is abusing drugs and alcohol are:

  • Violent outbursts, rage, disrespectful behavior
  • Poor or dropping grades
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain
  • Skin abrasions, track marks
  • Missing curfew, running away, truancy
  • Bloodshot eyes, distinct “skunky” odor on clothing and skin
  • Missing jewelry money
  • New friends
  • Depression, apathy, withdrawal
  • Reckless behavior

Basic Principles for Successful Parenting

Studies have shown that a parent's relationship with their child is the best predictor of their child's behavior.  Shifting your focus from the problems to the relationship ensures long term success.

Respond to your child in love, even when they are wrong, and have done something to make you or others angry.  This means remaining calm, keeping loving eyes, and not raising your voice.  The same message can be given with a quiet and calm spirit, and will make more of an impact on your child than screaming at him/her.

Respond maturely remembering that you are role modeling to your child how to respond to life's situations.  Learn to express your emotions appropriately, and use G-rated language.

Use appropriate humor (not sarcasm) and learn to diffuse power struggles and tantrums with creative playfulness and humor.  Being firm doesn't mean being a drill sergeant.

Learn how to be a good listener to your child as this will encourage your child to trust you and be more likely to share the truth.

Show your child respect remembering that your child is learning how to treat other human beings by how he/she is being treated by the significant people in his/her life.  Respect includes showing consideration for your child in how you speak to him/her, how you prioritize your child's needs, and how much you value who they are and what they do.

Care about the things that your child cares about.  Show interest in your child's interests (redirect those interests if not appropriate, but do so kindly and respectfully).

Set appropriate boundaries without setting walls.  Boundaries are healthy and necessary.  This means you are the adult and they are the child.  Not all conversations are child friendly.

Have realistic and age appropriate expectations of your child.  This can be done by learning about your child's developmental stages.

Teach your child to accept responsibility for his/her actions.  Use natural and logical consequences, not to punish your child, but for the purpose of teaching your child.

Praise your child often, offer it authentically and realistically.   Be a coach, not a cheerleader.

Children need large quantities of quality time.  Say "I love you" often.

Childhood Bullying Leaves Adult Scars

The Wounded Spirit

Building Friendships with Your Kids

 Desde su nacimiento, el niño aprende de los may­ores que tiene a su alrede­dor e inter­ac­túa con ellos. Estos le sir­ven de pro­tec­ción, le pro­por­cio­nan un ambi­ente de seguri­dad y en gen­eral, lo diri­gen en su apren­dizaje para enfrentar el mundo que lo rodea. Es un pro­ceso en el que se van inte­grando apren­diza­jes, muchos de ellos mod­e­la­dos por los seres que for­man la familia en la que crece el niño, esta famil­iari­dad hace que tien­dan a imitarlos.

Since birth, children learn by interacting with the adults around them. These adults are their protection, provide them a safe environment and in general give them direction in their learning years in order to relate to the world around them. This is a process that will integrate learning, many times modeled by those who are a part of the child’s family; this closeness makes it easy for children to imitate those around them.
These role models are in general, dad, mom, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and other family members. The children will copy their behaviors until they can develop their own identity. This is why it’s so important to be conscious of what we are showing them and why we should be their first role models, points of reference, help support them and earn their trust; these elements are crucial for their healthy development and the foundation of our relationship with the child.
This activity gradually becomes a powerful instrument of communication and encompasses a great amount of resources to build trust and as we relate with them, develop a relationship closer to a friendship. Playing is an important activity for every child; it encourages their social skills early on, enables social communication, and allows us to understand the complex mental structures a child begins to acquire, including the way they respond to complex issues. It also helps them prepare for adult life. As responsible adults, we, have the necessity of understanding the importance of this tool for the development of a healthy relationship with our kids.
Building friendship is a task that begins as soon as the gestation process begins, as soon as we know pregnancy has begun. Since very early, we can, through communication, talk, sing for them, laugh, jump, play and be conscious that our feelings are understood by them. We should understand their feelings, respect them, have patience, stimulate them; that way they will learn the value of the relationship and we can begin building what with time can become a friendship.
We have to be clear that is not the same to be a parent as to be a friend. We can be friends; however we cannot stop being parents. This is why we need to develop trust with authority, firmness, flexibility. Friendship requires equality, therefore, we need to be clear in the difference of being friends and being parents; we are equal in dignity, however not in hierarchy and responsibility. As parents we have a great responsibility which is to provide an environment in which our kids can grow with strong values that will serve them as strengths to advance in an adult world. We should cultivate and promote values such as the sense of solidarity, respect, humility, and the capacity of understanding and trusting; capacity to build homes where there is freedom to express feelings and love to give.
By Lic. Luz Marina Cortázar U.
Clinical Psychologist | Family Therapist

Renovacion Conyuga

Free Parenting Seminar on Love and Leadership

Happy New Year to all!  Start off your new year with some enrichment by attending this free parenting seminar:

John Rosemond, parenting expert and author, will be speaking to parents on "Parenting with Love and Leadership” . Children depend on parents for the two L-words of Love and Leadership. In today's parenting culture, Love is often weakened by well-intentioned enabling, and Leadership is weakened by the equally well-intentioned attempt to be "popular" with one's children. In this entertaining and thought-provoking talk, John tells parents how to deliver these two essential parenting ingredients in ways that strengthen children emotionally and help them grow into responsible, compassionate citizens.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011, 7:30pm
Perimeter Church, Main Auditorium
9500 Medlock Bridge Road/141, Johns Creek, GA  30097
(at the corner of Old Alabama and Medlock Bridge Road)

"I'm bored!"

The typical eighteen-year-old has seen 17,000 hours of television, listened to 11,000 hours of music, and watched 2,000 hours of MTV and movies.  In addition, they have spent countless hours on texting, have “driven around” a substantial number of hours, gone to concerts and athletic events, and dated.  I’m not opposed to any of these things, but when you total those hours, they come to more hours than are required to complete kindergarten, grade school, middle school, high school, college, medical school and serve an internship.  All of this in the quest of happiness, having pleasure and being entertained.

Interestingly enough, as thousands of people in my audiences around America will testify, when I ask them a question which challenges them to finish the sentence, “The most-often heard phrase around a household uttered by our children is…”  – and I open the sentence by saying “I am…” -the audience, in unison, finishes with the word “bored.”  In addition, according to Psychology Today, the typical 20-year-old American is ten times as likely to be depressed as is his father and 20 times as likely to be depressed as is his grandfather. 

The message is clear.  There’s a substantial difference between pleasure and happiness.  Other people can give us pleasure.  Most of us would agree that all the events I described above – movies, dating, athletic events, music, etc. – are pleasurable.  However, neither you nor your children will be happy until you do things for other people.  You can’t be “entertained” into happiness and pleasure alone ultimately produces boredom and low self-esteem.  A Gallup Poll several years ago revealed that over 90% of seniors in high school wished their parents and teachers loved them enough to discipline them more and require and expect more from them.

We need to teach our children to “be” and “do,” and I’m not talking about “be entertained.”  I’m talking about “be responsible,” and active in the pursuit of some worthwhile objectives. -- Zig Ziglar

Teens and Drugs/Alcohol....did you know?

  • Repeated drug use permanently rewires your brain
  • Addiction is learned behavior, it's a rewiring of your brain, it can be unlearned but is difficult
  • Brain is fooled into thinking that it needs the drug to survive (that's why we see extreme and/or risky drug seeking behaviors)
  • The earlier the drug use, the more likely addiction can occur
  • Adolescent rats are more likely to become addicted than adult rats
  • Those who use drugs or alcohol before the age of 15 are more likely to:  fail in school, be convicted of a crime, and/or have substance abuse problems as an adult
  • Extensive use of alcohol or marijuana in adolescents show decreased brain activity during memory tasks
  • With excess use of alcohol, more brain cells are killed in teens than in adults, and teens have a lower threshold for brain injury than adults do
  • THC (active ingredient in marijuana) blocks learning at the cellular level
  • First time methamphetamine use depletes dopamine levels significantly 
  • Methamphetmine destroys dopamine receptor sites, and studies show that 7 years after non-use, there are still missing receptor sites
  • "Fun" drugs are being presented to middleschoolers to make it more appealing
  • Adolescents are very good at hiding drug use, and a study showed that parents' perception of teen drug use was much lower than the teens' actual use

The cost of femininity

Girls have long been trained to be feminine at considerable cost to their humanity.  They have long been evaluated on the basis of appearance and caught in myriad double binds:  achieve, but not too much; be polite, but be yourself; be feminine and adult; be aware of our cultural heritage, but don't comment on the sexism.  Another way to describe this femininity training is to call it false self-training.  Girls are trained to be less than who they really are.  They are trained to be what the culture wants of its young women, not what they themselves want to become.

Mary Pipher, Reviving Ophelia:  Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls



I must start with a disclaimer:  I make no promises that blogging on this site will be done consistently.

My purpose in adding this section is to have a place where we can add interesting articles, facts, thoughts, insights, things that are thought provoking, news, etc. that we feel might be beneficial or perhaps just interesting to other human beings. 

If there is anything posted here that you have questions or comments about, please feel to email us, and let us know.

In the meantime, I wish upon you shalom (which means "universal flourishing or wholeness").