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The Sound of Ideas

Parenting 101

Posted Monday, February 15, 2010

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Parenting 101 At three years old, they're trying to climb into your bed in the middle of the night. At 13, they may not want to be seen with you, especially not at the mall. What's a parent to do? Monday morning at 9, we'll introduce you to two local child psychologists who can answer that question. They'll explain the dangers of "helicopter parents" who hover too close; what happens when parents give young children too much freedom; and what's actually happening in the mind of a child. Bring your parenting questions and experiences to The Sound of Ideas with host Dan Moulthrop for a conversation about the most important job many of us ever have.


Health, Children's Health, Other, Parenting/Child Care


Lisa Damour child clinical psychologist, Co-Director, The Center for Research on Girls at Laurel School
Ethan Schafer child clinical psychologist, consultant to University School and Lawrence School

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Susan Gavazzi 9:15 AM 2/15/10

I feel I am an excellent, single parent, not a worrier/hoverer; someone who has honest and reasonable expectations of my children.  I have come upon having my 14 year old...very smart high-level thinking kid, decide he does not have to do his homework.  He is not belligerent, or full of attitude...he is heading to high school next year, and is going to be in big trouble if his work ethic and level of quality and self-expectation doesn’t improve.  Any suggestions. I am a respect the process sort, having gone through two older kids, both of whom are fine after the standard adolescent struggles

Bryan 9:41 AM 2/15/10

Good morning,

I was wondering if both your guests could touch on the topic of death and how to comfort children going through panic/anxiety disorder based on their fears of dying.

Thank you,


Sarah Peck, University Hts 9:42 AM 2/15/10

First let me say how funny I think it is that you air this topic on a day when many parents are juggling their children who are home from school!  My comment for the sleep question is Dr. MArc Weisbluth.  His book Healthy Sleep HAppy Child is like the bible in our house.  He gives very solid sleep research to back up his techniques.  The underlying message follows what one of your guests indicated earlier- consistency is key.  My question is related to bickering. We repeatedly insist that our kids (boy 6, girl 4, girl 16 mo) will be/should be each others best friends, respect, tolerance etc.  They still bicker and speak meanly to one another.  How do we manage this?  Thanks for yet another great program!

David Egar 9:48 AM 2/15/10

My 7 year old daughter is signed up for 3 weeks of overnight camp in August.  We visited the camp as a family last year and we all loved it.  My daugter says she is ready and understands what it means.  My wife is unsure that she is ready and is concerned that she may be negatively influenced by older children (especially since there may be only 1-2 other 7 year olds at camp during the same time).

Should we be worrying?

Eric Wellman 9:50 AM 2/15/10

My brother and I fought from the day he was born until I left the house when I was 18. But that day he became my best friend. I can’t explain what changed, and I certainly couldn’t have imagined that day would come.

Molly 10:00 AM 2/15/10

an addendum to the question about body image: tell your children that they are beautiful

Susan Gavazzi 10:02 AM 2/15/10

Me again...I also would like to know for my same 14 year old son, how to address his social behavior.  He claims he has friends in school, but NEVER makes plans to go out. I am happy to drive him places, to meet up with people, but instead he portends to be happier staying home.  He is very science oriented, so he builds potato cannons, electrical devices, and dabbles in chemistry experiments (his passion).  I am concerned about his lack of PEER socialization...particularly when he is happy to engage adults (and is very loquacious.)

Randy Wood 10:02 AM 2/15/10

We have a 6 1/2 year old extremely bright boy (he was tested and deemed gifted).  We typically struggle daily with him not wanting to do his homework.  He wastes more time avoiding the homework versus just sitting down and doing it.  He does better when we sit with him to do it, however we have 3 other boys 9 months, 3 and 5 and they require attention also . . .any suggestions for getting him to want to do his homework and not to waste so much time?

Ethan Schafer 12:34 PM 2/15/10

In response to David Egar: It is good to hear that it sounds as though she is looking forward to camp. This is one of the best predictors of positive adjustment. There is a wonderful resource available at by a psychologist named Chris Thurber, who is quite the guru on preparing children for camp. I would recommend you take a look some of the materials there. In general, most children experience some mild homesickness that abates quickly, but these resources can help you with preparation.

Lisa Damour 8:13 PM 2/15/10

In response to Susan Gavazzi:  There are a few ways to approach this situation.  First, you might start to emphasize the connection between privileges and responsibilities.  It is your son’s responsibility to do his homework and the privileges he enjoys should be contingent upon meeting that responsibility.  Second, take a look at the book “Mindset” by Carol Dweck.  It is an excellent book about how smart children can come to be fearful of exerting effort.  Finally, point out to your son that being smart doesn’t amount to much if there’s no effort involved.  For example, you could say (lovingly) “It doesn’t really matter if your mind is like a Ferrari if you never step on the gas.”

With regard to the social concerns you raised in your second message, I’d keep an eye out for novel social situations for your son: traditional summer camp, local science camps, etc.  Often a brand new social situation can help a child to try out social skills they don’t use in the settings in which they spend the most time.

Lisa Damour 8:18 PM 2/15/10

In response to Randy Wood:  In general, I think adults neglect the fact that learning to sit quietly and do work that one doesn’t like is a skill that children need to develop over the course of their academic careers.  This skill is often still under development in middle school, and rarely developed in elementary school.  To my mind, it is not stooping if you help your son develop this skill through a series of rewards.  For instance, set a kitchen timer for 5 minutes and let him know that if he works diligently for five minutes he can come take a break with you for two minutes, have an M&M;, play one quick game of cards, or something along those lines, and then get back to work.  If he can’t sit for five minutes, start at two or three minutes and work up from there.


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