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Children

Blog posts with a category of Children.

In praise of praise: raising a moral child

IMG_0221By Kevin Sendi, New Oakland Executive Director

As a first time parent, I’ve wanted to embark on this fascinating and multi-faceted adventure with all the joy and seriousness I possibly can. I char 1continually observe the behavior of other parents and read whatever I can in order to gain greater insight.

I’ve already seen that much of what goes into good parenting is having immense patience and using common sense to cope with the many problems we face. As for what I’ve read, I really liked an article I recently saw called, “Raising a moral child” by Adam Grant, a psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of “Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success.”

Grant’s research covered 50 countries from the U.S. to Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa, and discovered that success wasn’t the number 1 priority for parents. The value that mattered most to them was raising someone who cared about others.

Studies suggest that from a quarter to more than half of our propensity to be giving and caring is inherited. The rest is nurture, and the key to proper nurturing is in how we respond to our child’s good and bad behavior.

Grant writes, “Many parents believe it’s important to compliment the behavior, not the child — that way, the child learns to repeat the behavior. Indeed, I know one couple who are careful to say, “That was such a helpful thing to do,” instead of, “You’re a helpful person.”

But is that the right approach? Researchers Joan E. Grusec and Erica Redler think the opposite, that commending character comes first. After 7- and 8-year-olds won marbles and donated some to poor children, they randomly assigned the children to receive different types of praise. For some, they praised the behavior: “It was good that you gave some of your marbles to those poor children. Yes, that was a nice and helpful thing to do.” For others, they praised the character behind the action: “I guess you’re the kind of person who likes to help others whenever you can. Yes, you are a very nice and helpful person.” Continue reading

Mass murderer Adam Lanza’s father breaks his silence

IMG_0264By David Harris, MD and New Oakland medical director

Some mysteries forever remain unsolved. As of March 21st, when this is being written, the mystery of Malaysia Flight 370 becomes more puzzling by the day. Despite dozens of theories we may never know what caused the plane to disappear. Also, after reading a lengthy article in the New Yorker magazine featuring Peter Lanza, the father of mass murderer Adam Lanza, we are still no closer to understanding what motivated the murder of 26 teachers and students at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut in December 2012.

We at New Oakland know the vital importance of making an accurate diagnosis and how problematic that can be. Adam Lanza is a perfect example. lanza 3After a relatively normal elementary school experience both at home and at school, Lanza morphed into becoming a deeply troubled adolescent. He began suffering from sensory overload. His mother even had to Xerox his text books to black and white because the color graphics were unbearable. He quit playing the saxophone and stopped climbing trees. Changing classes each hour caused intense stress. He had panic attacks; had trouble sleeping; stopped making eye contact and withdrew socially.

His brain didn’t necessarily change, but as mass murder psychiatrist Michael Stone told the New Yorker, “Life challenges nudged him in the direction of being sicker.” When he was 13, psychiatrist Paul Fox gave him a diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome, considered to be a mild form of autism.

Adam was actually quite brilliant and Peter, wife Nancy and older brother Ryan were completely devoted to his well-being. Peter and Nancy divorced but cooperated fully with the children.  At Paul Fox’s recommendation, Nancy began home-schooling Adam in the 8th grade and did so through high school.

The problem was that the Asperger’s diagnosis was incomplete, and served to set the family on a tragic course. Satisfied with the diagnosis, the Lanza’s may have been distracted from the many signals they apparently missed. And Peter notes that despite repeated visits to mental health professionals, no one saw anything that would predict Adam’s future behavior.

Both autism and psychopathy like schizophrenia entail a lack of empathy. With autism, it’s difficulty understanding emotions and an inability to interpret other people’s nonverbal signs. With psychopathy, it’s a lack of concern about hurting other people and an inability to share their feelings. Continue reading

Cyberbullying: The dark and deadly side of social media

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By Lisa Kalinski, New Oakland Therapist

Kids have been bullying each other for generations. What makes it different now is the long-standing nature, the permanent nature of statements on line.

Rosalind Wiseman, Author of two books on bullying

If it takes a village to raise a child, it’s now taking a national awareness movement to prevent our children from causing devastating emotional wounds and provoking suicidal thoughts and actions on their equally young and fragile peers.

Social media has vastly intensified the ability to inflict relentless pressure and pain, and America has been jolted again by the suicide of 12-year-old Rebecca Ann Sedwick of of Lakeland, Florida, who leaped to her death from a cement factory silo.

Rebecca Ann Sedwick

Rebecca Ann Sedwick

What makes cases like this so deeply troubling is that Rebecca couldn’t escape. Her mother pulled her out of the middle-school, home schooled her and then had her transfer to a different school. But Rebecca’s 14-year-old tormentor still attacked on Facebook, telling her to “kill herself” and to “drink bleach and die.”  After Rebecca fell to her death the girl posted, “Yes I bullied Rebecca and she killed herself, but I don’t give a (expletive).”

It was then that the Polk County Sheriff arrested the 14-year-old on charges of aggravated stalking, a 3rd degree felony.

The viral effect of social media allowed her tormentor to recruit as many as 15 girls who picked on Rebecca for months through online message boards and texts. She had no effective defense, no hiding and no escape. Even her mother’s awareness and vigilance couldn’t shield her daughter from a prolonged and ultimately deadly attack.

The words of cyberbullies live online forever, keeping psychic wounds open and bleeding and leaving victims like Rebecca feeling that there is no way out other than to end her life. Continue reading