Which Is More Important? Happiness or Achievement

         
           As we enter the new year, it is a good time for reflection.  As parents, we should think about what we are doing well and what things we should change.  Raising children is not easy and requires work and constant adjustment.  We want our kids to be happy.  We also want our kids to be successful and achieve great things.  My question to parents in the new year is…..Which is more important — Happiness or Achievement?  I say HAPPINESS!
         Christine Carter, a sociologist from the University of California, says, “When our children are happy and their brains are filled with positive emotions like enagagement, confidence, and gratitude, they are more likely to be successful and fulfill their potential.” It seems the underlying American assumption is, if our kids get into a great college, they’ll get a great job, then they’ll be happy.  This is backwards.  It should be happiness first, then achievement.  In every corner of our great country, parents are pushing their children to do more, learn more, and get a “leg up.”  I believe as a result, children are robbed of their childhood and have more stress and anxiety.  Instead of over scheduling our children which most certainly will cause unhappiness, let’s slow down a little.  Let’s reflect on what makes our kids happiest and make some changes before it’s too late.
        Carter also reported, “studies are finding that achievement does not necessarily lead to happiness, but that happiness is what fosters achievement. She points to an analysis of 225 studies on achievement, success and happiness by three psychologists that found that happy people are more likely to have fulfilling marriages and relationships, high incomes, superior work performance, community involvement, robust health, and a long life.
       Please vote and I will share the results!
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Acceptance and Love

Author Andrew Solomon just published a new book, Far From The Tree: Parenting, Children, And A Search For Identity.  He writes about parents coping with autism, Down Syndrome, schizophrenia, severe disabilities, with children conceived in rape,  who became criminals, or who are transgender.  This book demonstrates how sometimes the proverbial apple does fall far from the tree.  We all have hopes and dreams for our children.  As they grow and develop we learn that maybe our hopes and dreams aren’t theres or can’t be.  We experience disappointment. We grieve. We feel saddened.

Solomon interviewed over 300 families and had forty thousand pages of transcripts to draw from.  Most of the stories seem sad on the surface.  A child born from rape.  The parents of the boy responsible for the Columbine shooting. The list goes on and on.  He uncovered a universal theme among very different circumstances.   Parents never stop loving their children, but in some cases they have to learn how to accept them.  For each circumstance the process of acceptance, tolerance, and compassion occurred, but at different times.

If you are parent of a child with special needs, you probably have stopped ready this blog so you can order his book right now!  Nobody talks about acceptance because as parents this seems heartless.  Why would a parent have to learn how to accept their child?  Doesn’t this happen automatically?  No!  Andrew Solomon highlights this idea over and over in his book.   Whether your child has physical disabilities, ADHD, autism, or Down Syndrome parenting presents a crucial question. To what extent should parents accept their children for who they are, and to what extent they should help them become better.

Where are you in this process of acceptance?  I want to hear your stories!

Katherine Price coaches parents on everything from behavior modification plans to IEP goals.  She helps DC area parents get the ADHD help and resources they need by guiding them through the options available to them, connecting with the right people, and making a workable, affordable plan for the whole family.  For more information about ADHDC, go to www.ADHDC.com.

Behavior Plans: How to Create One and Improve Life at Home

Children have been back to school for over a month and the dreaded phone calls from school have started.  You are distraught and totally emotional.  You are overwhelmed because you know it’s hard to control your child’s emotions and actions.  Especially when they are away from you at school.  Perhaps home life isn’t any better.  Schedules have become increasingly more demanding with homework, projects, and after school activities.  Everyone is a little more stressed.  Behavior plans are a great way to improve your child’s behavior.

Every child would behave appropriately — if they could. Because misbehavior is symptomatic of an underlying disability that’s intensified by situational triggers, behavior plans should more aptly be thought of as teaching plans.  Good Behavior Plans reward children for appropriate behavior and prevent undesirable behavior.  They can be simple and target 1-2 behaviors for preschoolers or they can be used for teens that are highly motivated by rewards like access to a car or money.

Here are some common causes of behavior problems in children:

  • Difficulty regulating their emotions (staying calm when frustrated);
  • Flexible thinking (only one way to do something); and
  • Taking another person’s perspective (it’s my way or the highway).

Behavior plans work.  As a parent you need patience, consistency and the ability to follow through.  You might also need a coach to help guide the way.  A qualified coach can create the appropriate behavior plan and improve your life at home!

Katherine Price coaches parents on everything from behavior modification plans to IEP goals.  She helps DC area parents get the ADHD help and resources they need by guiding them through the options available to them, connecting with the right people, and making a workable, affordable plan for the whole family.  For more information about ADHDC, go to www.ADHDC.com.

Doing the Dance

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As our children go back to school, I think about what my relationship will be like with the teacher.  My oldest child is at a new school.  No relationships are formed.  The teachers have no preconceived notions. They don’t know my son.  We don’t know which teachers are a great match for my son.  This makes me feel happy and nervous.  For the last 6 years, the teachers knew my son or me.  They knew he had some “issues.”  I advocated each and every year for what my son needed.  In the last 6 years I never had a problem communicating and advocating.  How, you ask?  No matter how emotional I got, I always treated the teacher with respect and appreciation.  I gave the teacher the benefit of the doubt.  I never tried to do their job.  Being this way pays dividends later!  To me, managing the relationship between yourself and the teacher is like dancing.  Ideally, you and the teacher are on the same “dance floor” moving towards the same goals and communicating in a fluid way.  Don’t ruin the dance by “stepping on the teacher’s toes.”  They may not want to dance with you again.

Katherine Price coaches parents on everything from behavior modification plans to IEP goals.  She helps DC area parents get the ADHD help and resources they need by guiding them through the options available to them, connecting with the right people, and making a workable, affordable plan for the whole family.  For more information about ADHDC, go to www.ADHDC.com.

Screening for ADHD in Preschool: 10 Things To Look For

Young children often have problems paying attention or concentrating, but when are these problems serious enough for parents and teachers to be concerned? Most of us just think this is normal at this age, right?According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 in 11 school-aged children are diagnosed with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, but research suggests that the warning signs often appear even before the demands of school begin. As many as 40 percent of children have significant problems with attention by age four, and ADHD is now the most common mental health disorder diagnosed in the preschool years.

Dr. Mark Mahone, director of the Department of Neuropsychology at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Md. encourages parents to be especially observant of their young child’s behavior.  I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Mahone speak at a recent CHADD conference.  He impressed me very much and I have followed his work.

Dr. Mahone says, “Research shows that children with ADHD have abnormal brain development, meaning that ADHD has a biological basis that often makes it a lifelong condition.”  “We want to catch ADHD early because it has such a profound effect on learning and academic development. Children whose symptoms begin in early childhood are at the highest risk for academic failure and grade repetition.”

Dr. Mahone and his colleagues at Kennedy Krieger are among the first to use neuroimaging to study the brains of preschool children with symptoms of ADHD. They recently discovered that children with ADHD have a smaller caudate nucleus—a small structure in the brain that is associated with cognitive and motor control—than their typical peers. By identifying the biological markers of ADHD, they hope that intervention can begin earlier to facilitate better educational outcomes.

In preschool-aged children (3-4 years), Dr. Mahone recommends that parents look for the following signs that are associated with an ADHD diagnosis when children reach school age:

1. Dislikes or avoids activities that require paying attention for more than one or two minutes
2. Loses interest and starts doing something else after engaging in an activity for a few moments
3. Talks a lot more and makes more noise than other children of the same age
4. Climbs on things when instructed not to do so
5. Cannot hop on one foot by age 4
6. Nearly always restless – wants to constantly kick or jiggle feet or twist around in his/her seat. Insists that he/she “must” get up after being seated for more than a few minutes
7. Gets into dangerous situations because of fearlessness
8. Warms up too quickly to strangers
9. Frequently aggressive with playmates; has been removed from preschool/daycare for aggression
10. Has been injured (e.g., received stitches) because of moving too fast or running when instructed not to do so

“If parents observe these symptoms and have concerns about their child’s development, they should consult with their pediatrician or another developmental expert,” says Dr. Mahone. ”  You may be saying, the doctors will just write a prescription for medication and that doesn’t interest you.  There are many interventions besides medication to improve your child’s behavior.

As a Parent Coach, I provide ADHD support to parents and come up with a plan to deal with the challenging behaviors of pre-schoolers whether they have ADHD or not.  For more information on my services, go to ADHDC.  You may also follow me on FacebookTwitter and sign up for my monthly newsletter.