How a Former Troubled Teen Turned His Life Around: The James Lehman Story
Empowerig parents

James Lehman was abandoned when he was still a baby  and then adopted by the man who found him.  He wound up having some really serious behavior problems, both at home and in school. His parents loved him but were overwhelmed with his behavior and with parenting four active boys. Out of frustration they became progressively more heavy-handed with their punishment.  He dropped out of high school at a young age and got into trouble with alcohol, drugs and the police. He wound up doing a significant amount of time in prisons and institutions during his teen and young adult years.  He didn’t know how to deal with the obstacles life presented, so he turned to drugs and alcohol.  Crime gave him access to and the means to buy both.  

 

He was in and out of jail for nearly 8 years, that’s where he got his high school diploma.  In 1973, a judge sent him to a responsibility and accountability-based treatment program.  in that program, he was forced to look at himself and his faulty thinking. After about 14 months, he had really learned to be responsible for his behavior. He learned to stop making excuses, blaming others, and thinking he was a victim of someone or something. And he learned how to accept accountability for the result of his actions.

While there, he also learned to start taking responsibility for his own actions. The rehab program required him to help other people get sober; through this process he discovered he had a gift for helping teens. He had already received his GED in jail, and after getting out of the rehab program, he was motivated like never before. He got into a well-respected university and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in social work. He went on to help thousands of kids during his 30-year career. Together with his wife, Janet Lehman, he developed an approach to managing children and teens that challenges them to solve their own problems without hiding behind disrespectful, obnoxious or abusive behavior.

10 Common Mistakes Parents Today Make ~ by Kari Kubiszyn Kampakis

Parents today are too quick to swoop in. We don’t want our children to fall, so instead of letting them experience adversity, we clear the path. We remove obstacles to make their life easy. But adversity is a part of life, and only by facing it can our children build life-coping skills they’ll need down the road. So while it seems like we’re doing them a favor, we’re really stunting their growth. We’re putting short-term payoffs over long-term well-being.

 

While the writer find it great that today’s parents are more invested in their children’s lives than previous generations, our involvement can go overboard. What we may justify as “good parenting” can hurt our children later. Unless we’re mindful of that, it’s easy to handicap them by making their lives too easy.

 

The writer had outlined 10 common mistakes that parents today make .....

The Skill of Active Listening
  • What Active Listening is and Why You Should Learn to Do It

Active Listening is the single most important skill you can have in your parenting “toolbelt.”  It is a specific form of communication that lets another person know that you are “with them,” aware of what they are saying, accepting of their perspective, and appreciative of their situation.   Really listening to your children is the best way to create a caring relationship in which they see you as being “in their corner” and as a base to which they can always return when they need support.  Having this secure relationship is one of the strongest factors in helping your children to become resilient, responsible, and caring people who are open to your love and your guidance.

 

  • The Basics of Active Listening

There are certain attitudes you need when you actively listen to your children, and as a parent, these are sometimes hard to summon. 

 

Active Listening to your children is one of the most important gifts you can give them. It can help you create a very special and supportive bond with them in which you both feel a heightened sense of self-esteem and closeness.  By becoming a safe haven for your children, they will see you as someone they can turn to in difficult situations, even during the teen years when they could face difficult and complicated life choices.  By being non-judgmental and accepting of what is on their minds, they will feel more comfortable opening up to you and will have a trustworthy place where they can explore their reactions and feelings.

 

  • How to Become a Skilled and Effective Listener

It is important that you keep your commitment and don’t get involved in another activity. You want to communicate to your child that he is important and that you care about his thoughts, feelings, and struggles.

  • Fine-tuning your Active Listening

As a parent you have your own underlying issues which effect how you respond to a situation; you may also over-react because whatever is happening in the present is triggering some underlying issue for you of which you may not be aware.  By clarifying your own issues, you can better monitor your reactions and acknowledge for yourself that you are dealing with more than just the present situation. 

Recognizing Underlying Issues is an important skill in Active Listening, since you can incorporate the issue into your response, giving your children an opportunity to identify what is really causing their emotions or behaviours.

Communication tips for Parents
  • Be available for your children

  • Let your kids know you're listening

  • Respond in a way your children will hear

  • Remember

  • Parenting is hard work

Communication tips for Parents

Over the last 25 years, a small canon of research on family storytelling shows that when parents share more family stories with their children—especially when they tell those stories in a detailed and responsive way—their children benefit in a host of ways.  For instance, experimental studies show that when parents learn to reminisce about everyday events with their preschool children in more detailed ways, their children tell richer, more complete narratives to other adults one to two years later compared to children whose parents didn’t learn the new reminiscing techniques. Children of the parents who learned new ways to reminisce also demonstrate better understanding of other people’s thoughts and emotions.

These advanced narrative and emotional skills serve children well in the school years when reading complex material and learning to get along with others. In the preteen years, children whose families collaboratively discuss everyday events and family history more often have higher self-esteem and stronger self-concepts.  And adolescents with a stronger knowledge of family history have more robust identities, better coping skills, and lower rates of depression and anxiety. Family storytelling can help a child grow into a teen who feels connected to the important people in her life.

The Power of Storytelling in the College Classroom by Sal S. Buffo

Stories allow our brain to use information in the most effective way. Our brains need the opportunity to classify and file information that is in relationship to each other. It doesn’t like that catchall closet of miscellaneous bits of information, it likes order, context, and continuity. Stories not only allow for a beginning and an end, but help us understand how we came to that end, what brought us there.

 

Stories in many ways touch the core of who we are, and that thing that makes us human. If you think back when you were a child and having a story read to you, didn’t you immerse yourself in the tale and perhaps think about how you would react if you were a character in the story? Philosopher James Stevens wrote, “The head does not hear anything until the heart has listened. The heart knows today what the head will understand tomorrow.” The things that we learn and remember usually stick with us because on some level we can relate to them personally.

In Brief:  The Science of Early Childhood Development

The healthy development of young children in the early years of life literally does provide a foundation for just about all of the challenging social problems that our society and other societies face.

 

What we are learning, not just from behavioral and developmental research, but also now from exciting developments in neuroscience and molecular biology, is how much early experience, from birth, in fact, even before birth, how much this experience literally gets into our bodies and shapes our learning capacities, our behaviors, and our physical and mental health.

In Brief:  The Science of Neglect 

Thriving communities depend on the successful development of the people who live in them, and building the foundations of successful development in childhood requires responsive relationships and supportive environments.

 

Beginning shortly after birth, the typical “serve and return” interactions that occur between young children and the adults who care for them actually affect the formation of neural connections and the circuitry of the developing brain.

 

Over the next few months, as babies reach out for greater engagement through cooing, crying, and facial expressions–and adults “return the serve” by responding with similar vocalizing and expressiveness–these reciprocal and dynamic exchanges literally shape the architecture of the developing brain. In contrast, if adult responses are unreliable, inappropriate, or simply absent, developing brain circuits can be disrupted, and subsequent learning, behavior, and health can be impaired.

The brain has to learn that frustrating spells can be worked through. The reward center of our brains learns to say: Don’t give up. Don’t stop trying. “A person who grows up getting too frequent rewards,” Cloninger says, “will not have persistence, because they’ll quit when the rewards disappear.”

 

When we rave too easily, kids eventually learn to cheat, to exaggerate and lie and to avoid difficult reality. They have not been conditioned to face it….

Three Huge Mistakes We Make Leading Kids…and How to Correct Them 

Taking calculated risks is all a part of growing up. In fact, it plays a huge role. Childhood may be about safety and self-esteem, but as a student matures, risk and achievement are necessities in forming their identity and confidence. Because parents have removed “risk” from children’s lives, psychologists are discovering a syndrome as they counsel teens: High Arrogance, Low Self-Esteem. They’re cocky, but deep down their confidence is hollow, because it’s built off of watching YouTube videos, and perhaps not achieving something meaningful. …

 

Rescuing and over-indulging our children is one of the most insidious forms of child abuse. It’s “parenting for the short-term” and it sorely misses the point of leadership—to equip our young people to do it without help. Just like muscles atrophy inside of a cast due to disuse, their social, emotional, spiritual and intellectual muscles can shrink because they’re not exercised. …

Mistakes Parents Make That Push Adult Children Away by Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, PhD

Much of the angst between parents and adult children stems from the tug-of-war over whose life it is. There often is a disconnect between parents who still want to shape their grown-up kids’ future course and the kids who are determined to live their lives their own way.

 

For loving parents, their grown children’s trials and errors, including failed projects and teary breakups, can be anguishing. It can be wrenching to let go of the old parental omnipotence and not be able to fix everything. But when grown kids cope with these ups and downs, they develop into resilient, self-sufficient people with the confidence that comes from standing on their own feet.

by  D'Arcy Lyness, PhD

Everyone, from the youngest child to the oldest adult, experiences anxieties and fears at one time or another. Feeling anxious in a particularly uncomfortable situation never feels very good. However, with kids, such feelings are not only normal, they're also necessary. Dealing with anxieties can prepare young people to handle the unsettling experiences and challenging situations of life.

 

Many Anxieties and Fears Are Normal 

Anxiety is defined as "apprehension without apparent cause." It usually occurs when there's no immediate threat to a person's safety or well-being, but the threat feels real.

 

Anxiety makes someone want to escape the situation — fast. The heart beats quickly, the body might begin to perspire, and "butterflies" in the stomach soon follow. However, a little bit of anxiety can actually help people stay alert and focused.

 

Having fears or anxieties about certain things can also be helpful because it makes kids behave in a safe way. For example, a kid with a fear of fire would avoid playing with matches.

 

The nature of anxieties and fears change as kids grow and develop:

  • Babies experience stranger anxiety, clinging to parents when confronted by people they don't recognize.

  • Toddlers around 10 to 18 months old experience separation anxiety, becoming emotionally distressed when one or both parents leave.

  • Kids ages 4 through 6 have anxiety about things that aren't based in reality, such as fears of monsters and ghosts.

  • Kids ages 7 through 12 often have fears that reflect real circumstances that may happen to them, such as bodily injury and natural disaster.......

 

Signs of Anxiety

Separation anxiety is common when young children are starting school, whereas adolescents may experience anxiety related to social acceptance and academic achievement........

 

If anxious feelings persist, they can take a toll on a child's sense of well-being. The anxiety associated with social avoidance can have long-term effects. For example, a child with fear of being rejected can fail to learn important social skills, causing social isolation.......

A Child’s Wisdom by Raelynn Maloney, Ph.D.

Every child is gifted with a simple form of logic and honesty that can reveal a timeless wisdom to all parents. However, when a child shares his/her wisdom in a way that feels like a personal attack, the common response from a parent is to become defensive and shut the conversation down.

 

Creating a relationship that allows a child to “hold a mirror up” to you as a parent can be challenging at first, but it will strengthen the parent-child connection in powerful ways. When we are willing to hear and see how our children are experiencing us  – that is, “when I am willing to see the way my child sees me” – we are gifted with information that will enable us to grow and deepen as parents.

 

Try to use and remember the mantra, “it’s not personal, it’s information” as you listen to your child.

 

It is important to know how your child SEES and EXPERIENCES you as a parent.

Here are some of the not-so-perfect relationship rules children express when asked, “What are you learning from your parents?”:

 

  • I’m learning to raise my voice to get people to listen to me.

  • I’m learning to hurry because we are always late.

  • I’m learning to focus on what is “wrong” with people instead of what is “right” about them.

  • ...... etc.

 

Kids hold mirrors up to us all the time. Though we may not take every word as something we need to change, it is important to pay attention and find the wisdom in what they are saying.

What is Equally Shared Parenting? by Marc and Amy Vachon

Equally shared parenting is practiced by a growing number of couples.  It stands in sharp contrast to the traditional marriage with children, in which the man works and the woman stays home, or the ‘supermom’ marriage, in which the man works and the woman tries to balance a career with the lion’s share of the childcare and household tasks.  

 

Equally shared parenting is more than an extension of feminism; it is more than simply what is fair.  Equally sharing the care of your children with your partner is about balancing your life, balancing your family's collective life and sharing equally in the joys of raising a family. 

Parenting Styles can influence children by Kathy Canavan

Your style of parenting can influence whether your child succeeds or merely survives, according to Dene Garvin Klinzing, professor of individual and family studies at the University of Delaware. Can you recognize yourself in the list below?

 

Klinzing says parenting style alone does not determine how children will turn out, but it can be an important factor.

What's Your Parenting Style? by Michael H. Popkin, Ph.D.

Do you ever stop to think about your overall approach to parenting? How about your partner's? Understanding your parenting styles can be very helpful in figuring out how to understand each other-and in making positive changes.

 

While parents do not have to be identical in parenting styles, they should agree to discuss matters between them and come to an agreement about what to tell the child. This may require compromise between the adults, before even beginning to involve the child.

Take this Quiz to discover your parenting style!  

 © 1987 Michael Popkin. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint granted by Active Parenting Publishers www.activeparenting.com/800-825-0060

How a Former Troubled Teen Turned His Life Around: The James Lehman Story

Disciplining young children can be challenging for parents, especially when their child’s behavior is especially inappropriate or obnoxious. There are few experiences more stressful—or more embarrassing—than having your child throw himself to the ground in the middle of a crowded store. But in the midst of all of these difficult years with your child, remember these two things: Bad behavior from children between the ages of two and six is completely normal—and as a parent, you have the ability to help your child learn how to begin to control him or herself.

 

What’s Your Discipline Strategy? 4 Steps to Better Young Child Behavior

Step One: Be "Swift and Safe.

Step 2: The Consistency Piece

Step 3: The Importance of Giving Choices.

Step 4: Give Consequences and Rewards.

Bring Out the Best in Your Children

Helping shape your children’s behavior is a key part of being a parent. It can be difficult as well as rewarding. While at times it can be challenging, a few key principles can help. 

 

KEY CONCEPTS:

1) Model behaviors you would like to see in your children. 

2) Notice good behavior and praise it. 

3) Understand where your children are developmentally. 

4) Set clear and realistic expectations for your children that are developmentally appropriate. 

5) Build structure and routines in your children’s day. 

6) Use discipline strategies to guide and teach instead of punish. 

7) Be calm and consistent, when disciplining your children.

8) Understand that a child’s negative behaviors have benefited them in some way in the past. 

9) Use repetition to continually reinforce good behavior. 

10) Be prepared—anticipate and plan for situations and your children’s behavior.

11) Remain cool, calm, and collected.

The Science of Raising Happy Kids - created by Happify
  • The importance of being nurturing: Kids with nurturing mom have bigger brains

  • Love from dad matters: One study found that feeling loved by Dad was even more important for kids’ wellbeing, happiness and life satisfaction than feeling loved by Mom.

  • Your happiness matters: A mom’s satisfaction with her life is more important to a young child’s social and emotional skills than: her education, her income, whether she has a job and the amount of time the kid spends in childcare.

  • The importance of optimism ~ Fill the glass full: Kids who learn to be optimistic when they are 10-12 years old are half as likely to be depressed during puberty

  • Praise the kids for effort, not brains: Children praised for their abilities or intelligence, rather than efforts, have a harder time coping with failure

  • Skip the one-size-fits-all approach: When parenting styles aren't suited to a child's personality, the kid is twice as likely to be anxious or depressed. 

  • Kids are more resilient than we think: 80% of kids who experience their parents' separation or divorce DON"T go on to have psychological problems

  • However …take off the boxing gloves: How to argue matters. Compare to kids less hostile parents. kids who grow up with parental conflict: Do worse in school, Are more likely to drink and use drugs and Have poorer emotional well being

  • Kids want meaningful lives, too: Even 8 year-olds are happier if they feel their lives have meaning, like Doing something kind to a friend or classmate, Voluntering their time ....etc.

  • Encourage generosity: Performing kind acts made pre-teens happier and better liked by their classmates, too

  • Kids these days have 8 fewer hours of free, unstructured playtime than they had 20 years ago

  • Encourage kids to get physical.  Playing sports on a team or just for fun makes kids happier and better behaved.

  • In a study of 12 countries including the US, UK and Canada, the happiest kids live in:

1) Mexico

2) Spain

3) Brazil

4) Germany and

5) USA

Raising Successful Children - by Madeline Levine

PHRASES like “tiger mom” and “helicopter parent” have made their way into everyday language. But does overparenting hurt, or help?

 

While parents who are clearly and embarrassingly inappropriate come in for ridicule, many of us find ourselves drawn to the idea that with just a bit more parental elbow grease, we might turn out children with great talents and assured futures. Is there really anything wrong with a kind of “overparenting lite”? 

 

Parental involvement has a long and rich history of being studied. Decades of studies, many of them by Diana Baumrind, a clinical and developmental psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, have found that the optimal parent is one who is involved and responsive, who sets high expectations but respects her child’s autonomy. 

For one thing, authoritative parents actually help cultivate motivation in their children. Carol Dweck, a social and developmental psychologist at Stanford University, has done research that indicates why authoritative parents raise more motivated, and thus more successful, children.

How to Make Sure You Are Raising Kids With a Healthy Self-Esteem by Sarah DeNome

As a parent I have realized that I CANNOT protect my children from everything, but I CAN equip my children with the tools to protect themselves.

 

Over the past 10-years as a licensed mental health therapist working with children, adults, and families I have learned that the best thing we can do for our kids is to build in them a healthy self-esteem. Healthy self-esteem is the greatest protection against life’s uncertainties.  Fredrick Douglas once said; “It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” A child that is taught how to nurture their self-esteem is then equipped with the most powerful tools to overcome all of life’s challenges.

“10 Tools Every Father Needs” From the new national best-seller

“Be a Better Dad Today Ten Tools Every Father Needs” by Gregory W. Slayton

No mother is perfect, but a “Good Enough Mother” is enough  by Jennifer Kunst Ph.D.

Psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott had a lot to say about real-life mothers. As a pediatrician at the Paddington Green Hospital in London—and then later as a child psychoanalyst and consultant—Winnicott interacted with literally thousands of mothers and their babies. Through these experiences, he came to believe that the way to be a good mother is to be a good enough mother.

 

Winnicott’s picture of the good enough mother is that she is a three-dimensional human being. She is a mother under pressure and strain. She is full of ambivalence about being a mother. She is both selfless and self-interested. She turns toward her child and turns away from him. She is capable of great dedication yet she is also prone to resentment. Winnicott even dares to say that the good enough mother loves her child but also has room to hate him. She is not boundless.  She is real.

The five mother types - by Dr Stephan Poulter

Denise Pope, PhD is a senior lecturer at the Stanford University Graduate School of Education talks about how you must keep the big picture in mind. Do not get bogged down by test scores. Make sure your kids are healthy, happy, and challenged.

What type of mother is yours? Perfectionist, unpredictable, best friend, me-first or complete? Family therapist and clinical psychologist Dr Stephan Poulter explains the five mother types and their corresponding strengths and legacies.

Learning from Mistakes: Ten Parenting Guidelines that Foster Positive Youth Development
by Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D.
  • Acknowledge that you don’t expect them to be perfect.

  • Let them know your love is unconditional, regardless of their mistakes or lapses in judgment.

  • Don’t rescue children from their mistakes. Instead, focus on the solution.

  • Provide examples of your own mistakes, the consequences, and how you learned from them.

  • Encourage them to take responsibility for their mistakes and not blame others.

  • Avoid pointing out their past mistakes. Instead, focus on the one at hand.

  • Praise them for their ability to admit their mistakes.

  • Praise them for their efforts and courage to overcome setbacks.

  • Mentor them on how to apologize when their mistakes have hurt others.

  • Help them look at the good side of getting things wrong!

Article from
* Children with Video Games: Playing with Violence 

There is growing research on the effects of video games on children. Some video games may promote learning, problem solving and help with the development of fine motor skills and coordination. However, there are concerns about the effect of violent video games on young people who play video games excessively.  Parents can help their children enjoy these games and avoid problems.

Interview:  David Code on How Parental Stress is Toxic for Kids

It’s ironic: Parents worry about BPA in plastics and chemicals in food, but when it comes to children’s health the real toxin is their parents’ stress, because kids pick up on everything.

 

Research shows that children can “catch” their parents’ stress just like they catch a virus, soaking up the stress that pervades a household until their developing nervous systems reach “overload.”

 

At that point they are not only more likely to act out and exhibit problems such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder or learning disabilities, but are also at elevated risk for mental illness, allergies, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obesity, asthma and sensory disorders.

 

Despite everything that research has shown about the mind-body connection, it turns out that we have underestimated its power: not only does the stress parents feel make them more likely to develop hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and disorders of the immune system, but parental stress can also harm their child’s health, according to research from Harvard, Duke, and other universities.

25 Children’s Books to Teach Your Kids Meaningful Values
Two-Thirds of Canadian Parents Uncertain Their Kids Will Fulfill The Hopes They Have For Them

When it comes to parents’ hopes for their children, it seems that disappointment is passed down from generation to generation.

 

Two-thirds (67 per cent) of Canadian parents are uncertain that their children will fulfill their hopes, according to a new national survey commissioned by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada (BBBSC) and Invesco Canada Ltd. Moreover, 83 per cent of parents are unsure that they achieved the aspirations their own parents had for them.