4 Tips for Play Time – Dad Edition

It was a cold Sunday afternoon and I was scurrying to get my share of the housework done so I could play with my son. Waking up on Monday with the realization that I didn’t spend any play time with him makes me feel like a failure as a father. My 8 year old son was so excited that we were going to play Legos. He worked diligently to get his room ready so we could “battle” with our own customized versions of mayhem machines. I completed my final chore, stepped into his room and for the next 45 minutes . . . was completely bored out of my mind. 
How can something I want to do so badly seem like such a chore? I wanted to spend some quality time with him but the moment it begins, I feel as though I want it to be over. Maybe you have felt the same? Let’s face it. It’s because we’re men. Long gone are the days of imaginative play. We typically see no value in it. There are no rules. How will we know who wins? How will we know when we’re done? All these questions point towards our task oriented minds. You know you’re supposed to play with them but what does this mean? The following are how I turn play time into fun time for the both of us.
  • Set your phone’s timer. There’s nothing that says, “I’d rather be somewhere else” than when you look at your watch which happens when we’re bored. Whether you legitimately have something else you need to do in an hour or to simply keep yourself from checking the clock, setting a timer can help you focus your energy on the task at hand. Tell yourself, “I will play with my child for an hour, at least” and do it. You may end up playing for two.
  • Allow him to carry the narrative. As men we are goal oriented and with no clear and definable purpose we see little value in what we are doing. Your child on the other hand is playing and this involves an evolutional of a storyline for what is happening right at the moment. He hasn’t thought it out. He is just playing. This is the essence of what’s going on so listen to him.
  • Let him win. The goal is to help him feel good about being with you and losing doesn’t help this.
  • Understand that the value is in the end result. You are playing with your child because you want him to know that you care. You are interested in what he’s interested in and you want a hug and a memory because someday your child’s world will not be filled with fantasy but rather with the cares of this world. Cherish his innocence and enjoy it with him.

The Clock/Cloud Approach to Parenting

Parents often base their actions on how they were raised. If it worked on them, they will use it. If they are bitter about it, they will cut it out of their parenting style. The trouble with this approach is that parenting is not a one to one science. It’s not a recipe or a blueprint where if you apply the right ingredients or materials at the correct time, you will reap the desired results.

In his book, The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement, David Brooks describes the difference between a clock and a cloud. A clock can be taken apart, its pieces measured and then reassembled. A cloud on the other hand is more fluid in nature and while it can be studied, its behavior can also be unpredictable and puzzling. Humans are like clouds in many ways especially in respect to how we relate to one another.

With your children you can do all that you can for them and they may still disappoint you. You can read books, seek counseling and even pray but at the end of the day, your children are human and contain a will of their own. In the story of the prodigal son (Luke 15), the father lets his boy go. He felt it was time to say goodbye to a boy who was discontent at home. What should parents do when they feel their own child pulling away?

First, gain understanding. Proverbs 3:13 says, “How blessed is the man who finds wisdom,
and the man who gains understanding. For her profit is better than the profit of silver,
and her gain better than fine gold.” With the books we read, we gain knowledge, but do we really gain an understanding of what is happening in our families. What is underneath the surface? There may be a lot going on and it may be out of your control.

Second, Proverbs 22:6 says to “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Well, why do Christian families lose their children to the world? This is a proverb, not a money back guarantee. Those who are faithful as adults were likely taught at a young age and many who leave return to their faith because of those teachings. So, teaching your child is still imperative in Christian homes. You must also remember that even God loses His children.

Third, treat your child for who he is, not for who you think he should be. It is important to consider your child’s strengths and weaknesses and build from there. Where can they be successful? Where do they need help? You may get a “that’s not fair response” from siblings who view your treatment of them with disdain, but you must remind them that fair doesn’t mean equal and you are only giving each of them what they need.

Finally, your child isn’t a microwave dinner, scheduled to be done at age 18. We rush our children into adulthood too fast sometimes without giving them the proper experiences that help them grow appropriately. Some are ready for college right after high school while others could use some work experience first. Maybe they need to experience some independence or maybe they need to sleep with the hogs. Wherever they find themselves in their path, be there to help them and know that God isn’t done with them yet.

adhd child behavior problems

Are You Raising A Wimp?

The month of January has been cold to say the least. Much of the southeast has seen prolonged temperatures that haven’t happened in a long time. Especially in Tennessee, we are a bit crazy when it comes to the cold. We don’t have snow blowers or even shovels much because we know that even if we get several inches, it will melt in a day or two. No big deal. Head a few hours north or south and it is a completely different story. They are either constantly dealing with the white stuff or they have never seen it. 

To give you a little more of a window into Tennessee weather as it relates to the cold, many people don’t own heavy jackets. Unless you hunt or work outside, there’s little purpose for them around here. They are more of a fashion statement. Furthermore, our buildings are heated well and so long as you can stand the temp from your car to the door, who needs gloves, a hat or a scarf? I suppose people who live in Michigan do but not us. 

Given the winter of 2014 many parents may reconsider whether or not they will equip their children with adequate cold wear next season. Many cry out when the mercury dips below 20, “it’s too cold to send our kids to school.” Granted, there are some of these circumstances where the cancelling of school might be necessary. I would submit that this might also be an indication that parents aren’t working to prepare their children for difficult times in general. 

All too often parents try to hide their children from any form of discomfort. Why? It is through difficult times that a child is made stronger and learns he or she can do it himself. I am not suggesting that we send our children outside when it’s five degrees to see who will come in first. Frost bite is real, people. But I am asking all parents to look at their behavior and ask, “Am I developing a strong individual or raising a wimp?”

I want my child to have what I didn’t. LOL!

I think it’s hilarious when I hear people who were born after 1975 say, “I want my child to have what I didn’t.” Granted, there were poor people then who struggled and did without, but the majority of Americans, even what you’d consider poor, had more than any previous generation. My dad worked to give me what he didn’t have; a house with running water and heat. Yes, those are things people in a civilized society need and deserve. However, for those who had Little Debbie cakes served to them every afternoon and a beta player or VCR, to your lament over luxury, I say, “Give me a break.”

If you’ve ever seen a Duck Dynasty episode you may have heard one or more of the family members speak fondly of the poverty they endured growing up. “We didn’t know we were poor.” I’m afraid that the standard of poverty for some today means having anything other than a smart phone, jeans that cost less than $20, and owning only one video game system. 

Going without teaches you a lot of things. It teaches humility, self-reliance, and an appreciation for what you do have. It teaches that you don’t need thingsto be happy which forces you to look at your family and get along; things that really matter.

Having too much can teach you a lot of the wrong things. It can teach entitlement and a dependence on others and things for your happiness. It does not teach hard work but rather that luxury can simply be handed to you if you ask the right way.

What did you do without? Maybe you did without some comforts and are working to ensure a better lifestyle for your family so they have fewer worries which will enable them to succeed beyond your level. That’s good. 

Maybe you did without some basic teachings like empathy, commitment and honesty. That’s what’s missing in our homes today. Instead of more and more toys for Christmas, our kids need things that you can’t touch; they need character.

5 Things Your Son Should Learn (but Probably Won’t)

Today’s family is so busy, blah, blah, blah. Listen, if you are going to make a difference in your child’s life and if he’s going to grow up to be something besides a lazy slob, you have to quit making excuses, quit leaving it to the schools, and quit spending time on things that aren’t important.
A woman in North Dakota handed out notes to kids she deemed obese and shouldn’t be receiving candy on Halloween. Did she overstep her bounds? I think so. Did she say something that needed to be said? Yes, because if your child is fat and lazy and you can’t see it, then somebody needs to shake you by the shoulders and tell you to wake up.
The following are things I believe every boy should know how to do because they teach much more than what I can list. Also, it means you’ll have to spend a good deal of time with him, which is something that he desperately needs.
  1. Basic Survival – This includes fishing, shooting a gun, handling a knife, and starting a fire. I don’t say this because I think the government is going to take my house away or that the zombie apocalypse is imminent. I suggest this because these skills will give your son a feeling of self-reliance and confidence like nothing else. Sitting by the fire with my son after a 5 mile hike has to be one of the greatest moments I’ve ever experienced.
  2. Personal Fitness – Your son may not be a sports star but he should be able to do a push-up and a sit up. He should also know what a baseball is and that too many chips aren’t good for you, but salads are.
  3. Talk to a girl – If your son hasn’t learned to hide his internet porn habit yet, he will unless you teach him that women are not objects put on this earth only for his pleasure. The pleasure part comes after you have committed to taking care of her for life. That’s called marriage.
  4. Handle Money – He probably works and works to save his allowance to buy the next video game that he desperately wants. (If you don’t have him engaged in some sort of chore/money routine, start that tonight.) However, he probably doesn’t think about saving or giving. He probably thinks only about what he wants. That’s not good. He’ll be headed for personal ruin if at some point you don’t begin a habitual savings/giving plan with him.
  5. Read – More than any other habit this will move him ahead of the competition no matter what the industry. It will expand his horizons and give him unlimited growth possibilities. Or maybe you’re OK with him living at home when he’s 30.
While you may be inclined to indulge your precious boy with every luxury you didn’t have, you are doing him a disservice. You are not raising a man if you miss the above lessons (or others not listed). Instead, you’re raising someone who will need personal care for a very long time.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder: Who’s In Control?

As the parent of an Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) child, you probably never feel completely in control of your child. There are constant attempts by you to get your child to comply with your requests that quickly become demands and that finally turn into prayers for something better; a better relationship or at least one good day.
Control is the crux of the matter when dealing with an ODD child. Society says to control your kid, the parent wants to do this, but the child will not allow it. Being controlled is like drowning to an ODD child.This is why their behavior is so puzzling. But if you consider that all behavior gets the person to his/her desired end, and when you consider that a child’s only goal is to be in control, suddenly there is logic.
Any decent parent is horrified at the notion of not controlling their child, but when it comes down to it all parents are in control of a lot less than they think or would care to admit. Those children that you see complying in the grocery store are deciding to do what they are asked. The parent isn’t making them do anything. How can you form the samedynamic with your child? It can be done.
When Kimberly Abraham, co-author of The O.D.D. Lifeline, let go of some things she couldn’t control in her son, she found that she had more control and things got better. You can’t be a helicopter parent, constantly hovering over your child to ensure he never gets hurt. You can’t be a shielding parenting, keeping consequences from your child. Finally, you can’t be an aloof parent, hoping that your child learns by doing everything only to find out later that you have no guiding force over him at all.
Ensure that your child is safe but at the end of the day, you must realize that all the control is in your child’s lap. How much did your parents control you? They didn’t. What they probably did was controlled their response toward you and the consequences of what would happen if you didn’t obey. You decided, based on what would happen if you didn’t listen, that you were going to do what you were told. 
Therein lies the answer: to improve your relationship with your child, you must stop trying to control what is out of your hands and begin looking to what you can control.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

What Is Oppositional Defiant Disorder?

“I’ve tried everything.”
“He just won’t listen.”
“I don’t know what to do with her.”
Sound familiar? All of these are phrases repeated over and over by exasperated parents at the end of their rope with a child who, no matter what, will not listen. “Strong-willed, stubborn, and bull-headed” are words used to describe this type of child that has a will of his own. He terrorizes his teachers all day only to come home and make everyone else miserable. He won’t clean his room, back talks you, and does everything except what you ask him to do.
Oppositional Defiant Disorder is a pattern of behavior that is negative and hostile. These children often lose their temper, argue with adults, and continually refuse to comply for seemingly no good reason. They blame others for their mistakes and hate responsibility. Accepting responsibility means they would actually have to change and they won’t let this happen.
The exhausted parents often seek professional help wherein he or she receives a diagnosis of Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). Sound scary? It doesn’t have to. As a counselor myself I work to explain to my clients that a diagnosis is simply a way to conceptualize a set of behaviors being exhibited by their child. This is particularly helpful with ODD children because they have a specific set of behaviors that require a specific set of interventions.
What has caused this pattern of behavior? It could be they are simply over-indulged and want it “their way,” but regardless of the cause they are going to push back against the ruling adult. In The O.D.D. Lifeline, Kimberly Abraham and Marney Studaker-Cordner walk you through a plan that will change your life. Both have worked with ODD and conduct-disorder* children and their families, but through Kim’s own personal struggle, you get the sense that she understands what you are going through and this means a lot.
I am an affiliate with Legacy Publishing, the company that produces The ODD Lifeline. So, if you have questions about the concepts found in the program, feel free to email me

You can read reviews of the product and even try it FREE for 30 days. 

Email me your receipt and I’ll send you a copy of my book, Tactics for Communicating More Effectively With Your Teen, absolutely FREE.
*Conduct Disorder crosses into the realm of illegal behavior where ODD does not.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Children and Hearing Loss: Overcoming the Difficulties

The following is a guest post by John O’Connor. John is someone I can appreciate. He is a father, outdoorsman, sports enthusiast and passionate about living a healthy lifestyle.  Check out his new blog. -Dale

Although people tend to think of the elderly when they hear terms such as “hearing loss” or “hearing aids,” many of those affected by hearing loss are quite young. In fact, some babies are born with hearing loss. Others begin to lose their hearing as toddlers or during grade school. As the number of Americans affected by hearing loss grows, the number of children affected also increases. Currently, roughly eight percent of Americans with severe to profound hearing loss are under the age of 18. Further, about 15 percent of all children aged six to 19 experience some hearing loss in either high or low frequencies.

The children affected by hearing loss face a number of challenges. Many young children who are hard of hearing have difficulties learning to speak or to pronounce new words. They may also struggle academically, especially in areas of language arts as their hearing problems make it difficult to learn new vocabulary, understand grammar, learn verb tenses and so on.

Like adults with hearing difficulties, children with hearing loss often benefit from the use of hearing aids. The small microphones within these devices amplify sounds, which are then carried directly to the wearer’s ear. Other children with hearing loss will do best by communicating non-verbally. Children with hearing loss often use sign language, a formal collection of hand gestures, to communicate with family, friends and teachers.

Despite the trials of hearing loss, many people have been able to overcome their hearing loss and have accomplished much. From the age of 12, Thomas Edison struggled with a serious loss of hearing. Rather than feeling bad for himself, he considered this condition a gift that helped him avoid becoming distracted while working. He went on to invent the incandescent light bulb, the phonograph and over 1,000 other things that made life better for people all over the world.

Today, actress Marlee Matlin has an Oscar, a Golden Globe and multiple Emmy nominations to her credit. When she was only 18 months old, however, she lost nearly all her hearing. With the loving support of her family, she didn’t let hearing loss impair her personal goals. She says about herself, “I am a person who just happens to be deaf.”

Hearing loss in children comes with challenges to be overcome, just like many other things in life as well. These challenges, however, need not turn into tragedies. With loving encouragement, children with hearing loss can be successful at many things. If your child faces such a difficulty, help him or her to face it with positivity and determination. Success will come.

Parenting Effectively

BOOK REVIEW: How Children Succeed by Paul Tough

I hope that those in control of our education system don’t take too long to get this book. Based on lots of research, Tough sets out to prove something that many have known all along and that others choose simply to ignore. Namely, that a child’s work ethic is what will cause him to succeed; not his intelligence quotient but rather his character quotient.

Many think of character as honesty, citizenship, fairness, etc, but in this book it is about perseverance, grit, or stick-to-it-iveness. How much will a child endure before he gives up? Kids with many advantages are oft to give up because they do not know how to withstand being uncomfortable or failing at something. Tough’s analysis of the lines that separate the successful from those who quit is quite insightful. As I said before he uses research but also profiles some students and even looks into a chess program and its effect on student outcomes in life.
This is a book for schools and parents alike. What can parents do to ensure that their children learn a work ethic that will outrun all his other competitors? Parents are the starting point. How stressful is the home? How supportive and comforting is the parent? Also, what can schools do to encourage the true predictor of a child’s success? You will take away all this and more from this well-written book.