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Now that school is in full swing,  so are the “Homework Headaches”. This can be a daily nightmare effecting your child’s behavior, sleep and relationship with you.  There’s begging, arguing, screaming, and punishing – and that’s just your child! Hitting the bottle and popping pills are some common ways that parents deal with this. Does it have to be this way? NO! But to avoid this dilemma, it’s important to get off to a good start. Here are some tips for making this year different and more peaceful.

1. Begin with the mindset that “we” don’t have homework – your child does! Homework is one of their first independent responsibilities and there is much to be learned from this. If you do homework for your child, sit with them the whole time  or help excessively, you are taking away the opportunity for them to become self-sufficient and have confidence in their abilities to tackle hard things. They can become reliant on your presence or participation and develop what’s called a “learned helplessness”.

2. However, it’s a good idea  to begin the year by having some involvement.  Start by determining a schedule for their homework responsibilities. For young children, set up a consistent routine of coming home, having a snack and relaxing for a half hour before beginning homework. (Without using “screens” which can be hard to turn off!)  This gives them a necessary break. For children who have after-school activities, it helps to work out the best possible schedule for each day.  You want to avoid homework being done right before bed when they are exhausted, rushed and more likely  to be uncooperative. For older children who are becoming independent, having them develop their own schedule might be more appropriate with the caveat that they must get sufficient sleep in order to be healthy and ready for the next day. Older children may also have weekend homework. Have them experiment with what part of the weekend works best for them and for family plans – some like to get it out of the way on Friday; others prefer Saturday or Sunday. A time to put ‘off limits’ is Sunday night which can then feel very pressured and lead to the “homework headaches”.

3. It’s also important to decide where your child will do his’/her homework. Discuss with your child where homework will be done and make that their regular homework place. You may have to see where your child works best. Some children need the quiet of their rooms. For other  children, despite the elaborate desks, lights, bookshelves and counters you provide them, they prefer to be at the kitchen table. This is fine if they can concentrate there and not be reliant on you sitting with them. TV is incompatible with doing homework, but some children actually concentrate better with music on. You may have to experiment with your child.

4. Begin the year by helping children get started on, or remember, how to structure their homework.  Initially, sit with your child and teach them how to lay out the various assignments they have to complete and to decide in what order they want to do them. Set the routine of returning each completed assignment to their backpacks so papers don’t get lost (or eaten by the dog!).

5.  Set up the routine of your child putting the backpack with the finished assignments by the door through which they leave in the morning. This is a habit that will ensure, more often than not, that the homework gets to school. Know that if you make sure the homework gets to school – via limousine (your car), fax or email – you are robbing your child of opportunities to learn responsibility and accountability –  that what happens to them is up to them. You are being a good parent, not a harsh one, having them learn to be responsible or face the music at school. It is a lesson that serves them well all throughout their lives. You can give your child (depending on their age) a pass or two at the beginning of the year, but pretty quickly, you want to turn the full responsibility over to them. The same goes for remembering bring their homework home! At the beginning of the year,  it is ok – once or twice – to drive back to school for a paper or book. After that it’s your child’s responsibility to either obtain the homework from a friend or to show up empty-handed the next morning. What your child learns about taking care of things is much more important than presenting the homework.

6. How much help you should give with homework is not a black and white issue.  Certainly, you need to make sure, especially with young children who are learning to read, that they understand the directions on the homework. Beyond that, you only need to available as a resource for work that is confusing or hard for them. However, to stress again, this is their homework  not your’s.  If you participate too much, the message you send to your child is that you don’t believe  they are capable of doing it themselves –  a real blow to their self-esteem. It’s also a confusing when you “teach” them how to do something in a way that’s different from their teacher’s method. The same “hands off” approach applies to projects your child is assigned. I know you may walk into a classroom with your child’s finished project and see many that look like they were done in the special effects department of a movie studio. But neither children nor teachers feel good about this outcome. The children can’t take a sense of pride in their work and the teachers are smart enough to know the child couldn’t have produced such wondrous results! Also, check with the teacher to see if they want you to correct mistakes on homework when finished or if they would rather have it turned in unedited so they can see what the children have and haven’t learned.

7. Keep an eye on how long homework takes your child to complete.  If the time seems excessive or interferes with sleep, try to discern if there is simply too much homework or if your child is a slow worker. In either case, speak to the teacher about solving the problem.

Susan C. Stone is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice. She speaks widely – on television, radio, and in Parent Education Seminars – on topics of interest to parents and teachers of children of all ages. She is also the author of the book THE INDULGENCE TRAP.  Visit her on her website at http://www.susancstonemft.com or contact her at scsmft@aol.com.

How time flies!  It seems we were just preparing our children for the end of the school year, and now we have to ramp up for the beginning of a new year.  Some of you may be sad that the lazy, unstructured, non-lunch-packing days of summer are ending. Others are very glad to re-enter the world of  structure and, frankly, have a bit of time to themselves while their children are in school. Whichever camp you find yourself in, every parent is dealing with preparation for the new school year. This means buying school clothes and supplies, working out carpools and schedules, and planning for after-school activities.

What many parents don’t include in their to-do list is preparing themselves and their children for the transition from summer to fall.  For kids it’s more than new clothes – it’s often a new bedtime and wake-up time, new teacher, new school, new friends, new challenges. For  parents it’s helping children adjust to those changes. For some there are major transitions to negotiate  such as starting preschool or college for the first time which can be as difficult for a parent to adjust to as for the child! So…how do you help your children and yourself through these changes.

1. Begin right away to talk about school starting. Give them as much information as you have: 

For preschoolers, those starting kindergarten, middle school, high school or those changing schools – make sure they have seen the school facility and, if appropriate, the classrooms, yard, bathrooms,  lunch area, and drop-off and pick-up places.  Find out as much as about   their daily schedules and go through it repeatedly with them – a mental rehearsal. For young children, find out the last activity of the day so they can anticipate pick-up time.

For kids going off to college for the first time – Hopefully you’ve already visited the campus and they’ve gone through orientation there so they will have lots of materials to guide them, Don’t be at all surprised if they brush off any preparation you may try – they’re getting ready for one of the biggest separations in their lives and may push away anything that smacks of dependency. Plus, I’ve never met a college student who can’t locate the bathroom!

             For young children;

Talk to them about all the fun things they’ll be doing at school. Go over with them the protocols of being in a classroom – that they will be given directions to follow so they’ll know what to do, that they need to raise their hand to get the teacher’s attention, that items belong to the classroom and need to be shared. There are many good books to read to very young children about starting school and what they’ll encounter there.

             For older children:

Make sure you, and they, are clear on school procedures, codes of behavior, homework policies, etc. For children entering college, make sure they have a “go-to” person on campus for any questions they have so you can avoid being a “helicopter” parent who hovers and resolves any problems they encounter. One degree you hope they’ll graduate with is a “BI” – Bachelor of Independence.

2. Be clear from the get-go that school is not optional!

Take the approach that school is their “job”. If a child is resistant to going, from preschool to college,, there is usually some separation anxiety behind their reluctance. You can be empathic and reassuring, get help from the teacher, do more mental rehearsal, read more books, ask what they’re worried about BUT do not indicate by your words or your own sad or ambivalent demeanor, that you would waver on their going to school.  Children need to know that this is an adult decision. If your child starts school easily and then stops wanting to go, it’s important  for you to try to find out what is going on at school (or sometimes at home) that has created this change. Speaking to the teacher is often helpful.

3. Begin to institute a “school-day” bedtime and wake-up time.

Many families have a looser sleep schedule during the summer. Begin to regulate bedtime and wake-up time by 10-15 minutes every few days starting 2 weeks before school starts so there is no drastic change to implement on the first day of school.

4. Talk to children about how to make friends and join a group.

Even for adults, these can be  challenges. The one cardinal rule – for all ages – is Never ask permission to be someone’s friend or to join a group!  Doing so only empowers another child to say NO. For children under middle school age, having  a playdate before school starts with someone who will be in their class affords them a friendly face when school begins.  Depending on the age of your child , rehearse some “pick-up lines” for getting to know new kids. For young children it can be as simple as “What’s your name?” or “I like your t-shirt”.  Older kids need less direct approaches, usually ones that relate to what they may share in common with another kid – “Can I check  to see if I wrote down the right  the homework assignment?”; “Are you going to play soccer this year?”; “This teacher’s really hard!” “How long have you been at this school?”; etc.

Joining a group is a particularly hard skill. Again, teach your children never to “ask permission” to join.  Watching other kids play and then commenting or adding a suggestion is a good “on the yard” tactic for young children.  For older children – beyond preschool – joining in a game by first observing and then commenting is still a viable strategy. In the classroom, commenting on an assignment, sitting at lunch with someone or several people,  listening to the conversation and maybe adding a relevant comment, laughing at a joke, asking if anyone saw a certain show on TV can all be ways to insinuate yourself into a group. Participating in afterschool activities on campus can also provide opportunities to create commonality.

5. Prepare yourself to help your child through any initial resistance to starting school.

It can be very hard for a lot of parents to “let their children go”. From sending them to preschool for the first time to sending them off to college, we are challenged by the redefinition of our role in their lives as we lose some, or all, control over them. We lose the status of the only, or main, influence on them; we lose touch with what they are doing all day or even every day! We aren’t close by to catch them when they fall – literally or figuratively. We can also experience an emptiness of purpose and too much time on our hands. All of this can unconsciously lead us to perpetuate their dependency when what they need is independence. As the saying goes, “Good parents are slowly writing themselves out of the script”. So, prepare yourself for your child starting school. Think about how you would like to fill those now-free hours. Have confidence in the school you have chosen to take care of your child or, if your child is college bound, have confidence in how you raised them and the values you have taught that will keep them on track in the bigger world.

HAVE A GREAT SCHOOL YEAR!

 


While the interaction between siblings can be difficult at any time of the year, summer presents special challenges.

Your kids are together more since they’re not dashing off to school where they spend much of the day apart. They also lack the structure of their school-day routine which gives them a rhythm to follow – a set time to get up, eat, do homework, take a bath, go to bed, etc. Instead, there are more times when they’re together and more time when they’re just “hanging out”. This is both good and bad. Children have a chance to play together but also more time to get on each other’s nerves! And the more different they are in temperament, the more nerves they get on!

While after a demanding school schedule kids revel in the freedom of having nothing to do, this also means there are, inevitably, times when they’re bored. And one way to relieve boredom is to do what you can to rile up your sibling or instigate fights with them!

Also, in the summer families tend to take the opportunity to travel which provides LOTS of time together. This can be a strong bonding time for kids and/or a time to drive each other crazy – to vie for your attention, to fill the down time, to protect their property rights in the back seat, to prove who Grandma loves the most.

What are some ways you can minimize the conflict?

  1. Find separate activities for your children to do. Try not to enroll them in the same classes and lessons.
  2. Schedule separate playdates for each child.  If the playdate is at your house, let each child know that the time with their friend is just for them (unless they want to include their sibling) and that you’ll do something with the other child to keep them occupied.
  3. Try to spend time alone with each of your children. Put them in activities on alternate days or use playdates or weekends to have some one-on-one time with each child. This time is a respite from having to vie for your attention and satisfies their need to have you to themselves.
  4. If the bickering and fighting is driving you crazy, set up a “Team Chart”.  Your children can earn stars on this chart by being cooperative with each other or just staying out of each other’s hair! At the end of a specified time period (say, Monday through Friday),the  “Team” can earn a special  activity (going to the beach, seeing a movie, etc. You can let them come up with the reward). This can also be used to great effect on vacations as well. If the “Team” can gthrough the day in a positive way, they can earn an ice  cream orsmall souvenir at the end of each day. This can really insure a pleasant vacation and have it be a time of  bonding and “forever memories”.
  5. This one is a biggie – make sure you have some grown-up time for yourself and for you and your partner.  You’re also used to children being away part of the day. 24/7 kidtime is a recipe for craziness! Use activities, playdates (at someone else’s house!), babysitters,etc. so you can have your own alone time.
  6. Get a big calendar, circle the day that school starts again, and cross out each day with a big red X!

Enjoy your summer with your kids but stay safe and sane.

SCHOOL’S OUT! YIPEE! (or not so much?)

How children react to the end of the school year, how you can help, and what makes for a great summer.

Many parents look back on the beginning of summer vacation and remember only the relief and sense of freedom they felt! It often represented the end of getting up early, structured time and expectations, and the beginning of lazy days swimming and hanging out with friends and family.

These may be some of the reactions your children will have, but there is a good chance there will be others as well. If you are aware of some difficult feelings your children may be having, it will be easier to understand their emotional state and behavior and to be a resource for them.

What’s not to like about school ending? First of all, it has the potential to spur a bout of separation anxiety. For some young children, they have become very attached to their teachers and saying good-bye to them can be very emotional. The better the teacher, the more likely the child will negatively anticipate being without them.

If your child will being moving on to a new school after this year – from preschool to elementary school, from elementary school to middle school, from middle school to high school– leaving behind a familiar environment where they have become comfortable and a community they know, can raise both separation anxiety and fear of the unknown that they’ll face in the fall.

For those children who are graduating high school and leaving for college, they are not only leaving the familiarity of their school, but they are leaving the nest of their home and family as well. However excited they are about being away and on their own, they are at least equally reluctant to move towards becoming independent young adults.

How can know if your child is experiencing these emotions? In some cases there is very obvious sadness and verbal expressions of the difficulty of leaving teachers, schools and friends behind. However, many children manifest these feelings by having sleep problems, becoming more contrary, exhibiting moodiness, or showing more anger than usual over unrelated issues.

It’s very typical for high school seniors to spend the summer before college fighting with their parents over almost anything. While many parents see this behavior as provocative, unpleasant, contrary to the connection they’d like to make before their children leave, and , sometimes, downright ungrateful (as they face huge tuition college bills), it helps to interpret it in a different light. Your children are putting distance between themselves and you in order to be more ok with having to leave you.

What’s the best way to handle the emotional changes your children may be going through? If your children can verbalize their sadness and/or fear, you have the easier task. The key is to empathize. Let them know that lots of kids feel that way, even that you felt that way as a child. Also let them know that those feelings of missing the teacher or school they are leaving pass quickly after they say goodbye (which they do!). Also, let them know that they will have the opportunity to visit their old teacher or old school or have get-togethers with friends who are moving on.

As to their fears about starting a new school, again, let them know this, too, is normal, that everyone feels that way starting a new situation. To the extent that you can, have them visit the new school, perhaps attend a summer program there, or, with younger children, get together with other kids who will be going to the same school (most schools are happy to provide you with contacts.) With older children, emphasize how they were able to make friends at the school which they are leaving and the abilities they’ve developed to repeat this process at a new school.

Planning Your Child’s Summer We have to acknowledge that the old summer days of lazy exploration or running around the neighborhood or hanging out at the beach are not always possible anymore. With so many moms working, children need to be someplace.

To answer that need, there are huge numbers of day camps, specialty camps, sleep away camps, and other adult supervised activities in which to place your child. Many of these sound interesting and enriching, and many are. However, one of the issues parents need to keep in mind is to not involve their children in too many different experiences.

While it may sound great to spend a week at rocket camp, another at art camp, another at surf camp, etc., this kind of schedule also presents children with the challenge of adjusting to too many new environments and having to make new friends over and over. This can take the richness out of “enriching”, depending on who your child is. To the extent that you can provide a more seamless experience, your child will have a chance to settle into a new situation.

And please, unless you’re being told by the school that your children need some academic help to be ready for the fall, DO NOT see summer as a time for learning a foreign language, honing their math skills or completing workbooks you buy. This is supposed to be a time free from such expectations. It would be great if your child enjoyed reading a bit and a trip to the library is a great family activity. Most schools do assign summer reading and for many children this is enough to get through.

If you have the option of having your child spend some days of the week or some weeks of the summer with no structured activities – do it! Hanging out with family and doing family activities, using their imagination to fill their time, and not having to be on a schedule are all great alternatives to the pressure of the school year. To the extent you can provide this, your child will return to school in the fall more refreshed and ready to roll.

HAVE A RELAXED AND HAPPY SUMMER!

Parents today seem to be confused about their role with their children – they want to be “pals” with their kids. What is this trend all about?

First, it seems to be that today’s parents identify with being youthful and feel that acting “grown-up” or “in charge” will morph them into stuffy, gray-haired, wrinkled, dorky versions of their former selves. Feeling on a par with their children means they’re still hip, relevant and ageless.

Second, parents have misgivings, and even fears, about being overbearing dictators who stomp the joy out of their children. They don’t want to appear heavy-handed or overly restrictive.

Third, and most peculiar, is a deep fear that if they set limits and boundaries for their children they won’t be loved by them! I’m seeing a generation of parents who are intimidated by the displeasure of people who are three feet tall!

Tell me, do you think your parents had these concerns? If you say “yes”, I’d really like to meet them because they are a rare breed, indeed! Parents of previous generations didn’t consider being “grown-up” to be a negative. They didn’t live in a world that worshipped a youth culture, plastic surgery, or perfect-fitting jeans. They knew they had a job to do as a parent – to socialize their children and they didn’t much like being bossed around by short people. They pretty much did what was expedient to achieve these goals.

Now, I like a pair of great jeans as much as the next person and wrinkles are not welcomed into my house. But, as a Marriage and Family Therapist for over 30 years, I see every day in my practice, the fall-out from parents not being parental. I see children who feel scared that there is no big person around to take care of them because everyone has the same degree of power and decision-making. I see children who feel unloved because, from their point of view, their parents don’t seem to care what they do. And I see children who suffer because they are growing up without internal boundaries and the ability to delay gratification and control their impulses that help them grow into responsible, non-impulsive, hard-working and caring adults who can be successful in their relationships and endeavors.

So, what does it mean to be parental? It doesn’t mean being harsh, punitive, grumpy and frumpy. It means recognizing that a family is not a democracy – it’s a benign dictatorship! It means that you’re in charge, and rightly so – to guide and protect your children who are inexperienced in this world and don’t understand health concerns, danger and safety, long-term versus short-term outcomes and much more.

It means that both you and your child understand that there are adult decisions and there are children’s decisions and that the balance of these slowly shifts from infancy to college as your children learn, in a gradual way, to make all or most of their own decisions and deal with and learn from the outcomes.

Have this talk with your child today: “Do you understand that there are grown-up decisions and children’s decisions? When you were an infant you got to make very few decisions – when you were going to sleep, eat and poop! Now you’re 3 or 6 or 12 or older, and you get to make many more decisions (of which you can name many). But we, the parents, still make the grown-up ones.”  Oddly, children find this to be a very reasonable arrangement! It often makes them more inclined to adhere to your directives if they see that certain decisions are theirs to make.

Being parental also means really knowing the difference between pleasing your child and loving your child. Simply put, pleasing is easy but harmful; loving is difficult but beneficial. If your child wants ice cream for breakfast, it will certainly please them if you agree. However, saying “that isn’t a healthy choice” is loving but likely to be met with at least a pout, maybe an argument, a slammed door or even your child packing a suitcase and announcing they’re moving down the street where the parents are nicer!

If you’re intimidated by your child’s reaction and give in, if you use your child’s face as a barometer of whether you’re doing the right thing, not only are you dead in the water as a protector and guide, but your child is deprived of the sense of being loved and valued.

It’s worth a few extra words to describe my experience with a family I saw years ago which consisted of a single mother and an 8-year-old boy. The mom had no idea how to parent and the boy was going to school if and when he felt like it. He would often stay up all night watching TV and eating junk food which he demanded she buy. However, they didn’t seek my help until the boy began cutting up the furniture with scissors. You might first think, “This unfortunate boy was a bit demented”, not to mention his mother. In truth, he was simply pushing the limits to see at what point his mother would take a stand. Well, with not too much intervention, just a little parent coaching, the mother learned to set limits and the boy was becoming compliant. The important part of this story is that the boy came in one day, plopped down on my couch and said, “I don’t know what you’re saying to my mom, but I think she’s starting to love me.”

Need I say more?

So, hitch up those jeans and become the adult in the house. This doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with your child and be playful, but being in charge, being parental, is the best gift you can give your child. And, I promise you, they will love you for it.

While we adults experience distress over the terrible events taking place in Japan and the Middle East, children can be influenced in a much more profound and enduring way. The younger the child, the less perspective they have and the more literally they interpret what they see and hear. Young children in particular don’t have a clear idea of cause and effect, time and distance and, at the same time, have limited vocabulary, experience and frames of reference.

Isn’t Japan just down the street?  When will the radiation come here?  That’s how the ocean acts?  Are there rebels hiding in our house?  Could this happen to us?

These are examples of how their perceptions can be distorted  and shape their view of the world.  It’s possible for them to  internalize a sense of insecurity and hopelessness. Exposure to stressful world events has the potential to create in children fear, a sense of the loss of protection and stability and even anger.

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP THEM:

AGES 0 – 6:  1. Remember that they are not clear about the difference between reality and fantasy. Images of a tsunami on television might stir up fears that the water could rush out of the television and engulf them.   And because they literal, repeated and  rerun images of war and natural disasters easily have them believing that the same events are taking place over and over.

2.  So it’s crucial that you CONTROL THE INFORMATION FLOW! Young children need to be shielded from information and images they can’t understand and can only make them anxious. This means no exposure to TV, computer or radio news. Be cautious about the images printed on newspaper and magazine covers.  Be aware of the adult conversations you’re having within their earshot (which doesn’t end when they’re in the other room, watching cartoons, or supposedly sleeping!)

AGES 7-10:  1. Children in this age group may have exaggerated worries because they have both too much information – through exposure to media and exposure to adult conversation – and too little information through playground gossip and rumors as well as out of imaginary fearsome scenarios they create out of bits of information they string together and is out of context.

AGES 11-16:  1. Know that children in this age group are particularly sensitive to societal distress because it reflects the inner turmoil they are experiencing – both the world and their bodies seem to be spiraling out of control.

While you can try to  shield very  young children from world events, children of any age may be exposed to information anyway – through peers, walking by a newstand, seeing media displays at others’ houses. Sometimes they just sense something is going on by a change in your demeanor.  Older children actually need to understand what’s going on in the world and what your views and values are pertaining to them.

Your best bet in helping them cope with world events is to make sure you have open and on-going communication with your children.  Talking decreases fear and anxiety for all of us. With children, it also allow you to correct misinformation (Japan is not down the street!) and to provide learning experiences. (Where is Japan? How often does a 9.0 earthquake occur? Has there ever been a tsunami where you live? How far away is the unrest in the Middle East?)

1. Before you begin providing information, assess what your child knows and what their concerns are. Don’t give more information than  your child asks for.

2. When you do give information, be honest in your answers. Children sense deception and the imagined “truth” can be worse than the reality.  Being dishonest can also interfere with the trust between you and your child.

3. When you provide explanations, speak calmly. Your reactions effect them more than any information you impart. If they sense you are extremely distressed or out of control, they feel acutely unsafe.

4. Provide age-appropriate perspectives and frames of reference. For example, this is happening far, far away. These things hardly ever happen-they are highly unusual which is part of the reason there is so much news coverage. Tell them it is very unlikely

to happen to us. Let them know that bad and scary feelings go away and that even big problems eventually get solved.

5. Provide reassurance. For younger children this would be on a personal level – “It’s my job to keep you and myself safe”.  For older children, you can explain that smart and capable people – military personnel, the government, engineers, and other

experts are working on solving the problems. Create a disaster or earthquake kit and plan and have your children be involved. This creates some sense of control. Teach them  that should an “event occur, if you’re not around to look for  the

”helpers” (teachers, caretakers, police, firefighters, etc.)

6. For young children, allow them plenty of free play time which gives them an opportunity to act out or draw their perceptions and concerns which you can then address or correct.

7. Maintain normal routines. Also limit your own television or internet viewing of distressing situations – it can elicit anxiety and despair in you which can be sensed by your children who may interpret this as you being disabled as a resource and protector.

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Posted on: March 17, 2011

Susan C. Stone’s “Practical Parenting”

What’s the most important job you’ll ever do with the least preparation? PARENTING! I know this as a Marriage and Family Therapist for over 30 years, a former teacher, a parent educator and coach, and, most importantly – as a parent!

Well-intentioned parents – which you are if you’re reading this – try frantically or methodically to educate themselves ON THE JOB. And there is plenty of material out there from which to seek guidance. In fact, there are so many theoretical approaches, that most parents are confused and even paralyzed trying to decide what to do and how to do it.

Help is on the way with PRACTICAL PARENTING – the “how to” approach for getting through the ups and downs of everyday life with your children and raising the kind of children you hope to turn out. Check this site for frequent articles and advice on common parenting issues as well as ways to address significant current events with your child. 

Susan C. Stone is a Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice in the Los Angeles area. For over 32 years, she has helped children, parents, families and schools. She has given many hundreds of presentations on topics of interest to both the parents and educators of children from preschool-age through high school. She is a regular commentator on both television and radio, offering parenting advice and information on current issues of concern to parents. She is also the author of the hugely popular book, THE INDULGENCE TRAP, When too much is not Enough!


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