Oct 21 / Simcha

Be Curious!

Be curious rather than judgmental.

If you remember and apply this mantra regularly and consistently, you will be halfway there in improving relations with your teen.

Much negative behavior is driven by a need for attention or a need that isn’t being met.  Responding with force or ultimatum reinforces negativity and invites resistance.

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Sep 23 / Simcha

Learning Without Grades or Standardized Tests

Kirkkojarvi Comprehensive School. Photo: Stuart Conway, Smithsonian Magazine, Sept. 2011

Finland’s educational system began a process of transformation some 40 years ago that has turned it into one of the most successful in the world.  According to a recent article in Smithsonian Magazine (Why Are Finland’s Schools Successful? by Conway & Hancock), this  became evident in 2000, from the first results from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a standardized test given to 15-year-olds in more than 40 global venues.

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Sep 22 / Simcha

What if the Secret to Success Is Failure?

KIPP Infinity middle school in Manhattan. (Tape Installation: Stephen Doyle. Photograph: Stephen Wilkes for the NYTimes)

More than anything, kids need a little difficulty, some challenge or deprivation that they can overcome, even if just to prove to themselves that they can.  If we take that opportunity away from them, their education – both at home and at school – is “missing out on some serious parts of what it means to be a successful human.”  We also inadvertently shield them from exactly the kind of experiences that can lead to character growth.

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Sep 10 / Simcha

What is Your Parenting Style? (Part I)

Click graphic to view expanded chart

The study of parenting patterns and their impact on children has been greatly influenced by research done by psychologist Diana Baumrind in the 1960s, and others in her footsteps.

Using many measures of behavior, she found that parents differed on four important dimensions.



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Aug 24 / Simcha

Sex Education for NY State Teens

The new sex education requirement for all students in public middle and high schools is “long overdue,”  writes the The New York Times (August 10, 2011).  The sex education push is part of an initiative by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to address the needs of young people in minority neighborhoods, where blacks and Latinos are most affected by the consequences of early sexual behavior and unprotected sex.

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Aug 23 / Simcha

Critical Rules for Critical Conversations

When all is said and done, we earn our teenagers’ trust by showing them we trust them, by being respectful, and by sharing power.  Adolescents (and all children for that matter) who feel their parents are really interested in their world, feelings and experiences, are more likely to be open to learning from them.

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Aug 16 / Simcha

Understanding the Adolescent Brain

Starting in 1991, Dr. Jay Giedd, chief of brain imaging at the Child Psychiatry Branch of the National Institute of Mental Health, starting taking pictures of children’s brains over a period of nine years, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).  He and his colleagues studied some 1,000 healthy kids (including two of his own) at intervals ranging from two weeks to four years.

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