Through Their Eyes

Young people … our greatest resource

Father’s Day, 2006 (“He Was a Good Man”)

On a day when we honor our fathers, here's a song I wrote honoring my father, Fred Sutton, a week after he passed away in October of 1998. It's simply called, "He Was a Good Man."

He was a good man, loved his family

A good man, for the world to see

By most measures fame had passed him by

But no matter, I always saw him try

To do the right thing, 'cause it was the thing to do

A good man, the kind to see things through

(Chorus)

Good men come; good men go

The best we've every had

And if there's a Good Men's Hall of Fame,

There'll be a place for Dad

A good man; his memory lingers on

In the lives he touched, in the words of this song

A good man, and I want you to understand

He was more than just a man

He was a good man

(JDS, 1998)

June 18, 2006 Posted by | Special Occasions | Leave a comment

Tip #3 of Seven Tips for Getting Along Better with Your Kids

We are publishing this article on this blog as a series. We won’t necessarily cover all the tips sequentially, but you will be able to separate out all of them by clicking on the “7 Tips” Series link under Categories. Although these tips are part of my book, If My Kid’s So Nice, Why’s He Driving ME Crazy?, they really are applicable to ALL young people, not just difficult ones.

Tip #3: Occasionally Let the Youngster Lead

If you have a child who is sometimes critical of the way you do things, let them plan the next family outing or activity. Provide a few guidelines (like it needs to be someone everyone can enjoy) and a budget, then let ‘em at it. This won’t necessarily ensure everyone will have a great time on the activity, but it will eliminate much of the complaining. Be certain to recognize the youngster for his or her efforts.

This is a great way to teach skills of planning and goal-setting.

I encourage families to have a message center, the “Important Things to Remember Board” (on or near the refrigerator, of course). Things that are important, such as appointments and activities, are on the board. Everyone is expected to read the board and to be accountable for the information on it (“I didn’t know” won’t work as an excuse).

Let the child take responsibility for posting messages on the Board for a week, as you pass this responsibility around to family members who can handle it. This strategy also assures that the youngster in charge of the board will not be able to “forget” what is on it. Again, recognize efforts.

 James Sutton, Psychologist

June 16, 2006 Posted by | "7 Tips" Series, Parents, The Difficult Child | Leave a comment

Having a Good Day … Even When it ISN’T

I'm proud to be a member of the National Speakers Association. I remember a story about the great Cavett Robert, the founder of NSA. He always preached doing your best, not matter what, and he practiced what he preached.

I remember someone sharing a story about their first-hand observation of Cavett Robert during a speaking event. He was sick, running fever. It was shared that, before he was introduced, Cavett was resting his face against a plaster wall, just to catch a little coolness. He then went on to deliver his program, just as he had promised.

I said to myself, "I sure hope I don't ever have to do that." Well, it happened just this past Tuesday (June 13, 2006). Ever have an experience like this?

I was scheduled to train teachers at an education service center in my home state of Texas. I got to my destination, checked into the motel and grabbed a bite of dinner. I even went to bed early so I would be extra sharp for the next day.

About an hour into my sleep, I awoke to VIOLENT bouts of vomiting and diarrhea that went on all night. Food poisoning. (If my wife had been with me, she'd taken me to the hospital, for sure.)

I tried to soothe myself by saying, "This is BAD, but I've experienced worse." No way; this was a new watermark.

Fortunately, it all tapered off about 6:00a.m., so I decided to regroup and give it a shot. I was so weak and dehydrated, it took me forever to shave and dress. Fortunately, it took me about 40 minutes to drive to where the client was, which gave me a chance to chug a 32 ounce bottle of Gatorade. That allowed me to walk into the facility without looking like a drunk man. But I was so weak and sleep-deprived I could hardly stand.

I leveled with my client, Gwen, and we decided to give it a shot. They brought in a stool for me (a God-send). It was a rocky start, but you know the rest. As they got into my presentation, I was able to feed off their energy. They helped pull me through, and we all made a good day of it.

 Like a good pitcher in a slump, we don't always have our best stuff. But if we keep pitching and stay in the game, things will change.

 James Sutton, Psychologist

June 14, 2006 Posted by | For Educators, Inspirational, Stories | Leave a comment

Tip #2 of Seven Tips for Getting Along Better with Your Kids

We are publishing this article on this blog as a series. We won't necessarily cover all the tips sequentially, but you will be able to separate out all of them by clicking on the "7 Tips" Series link under Categories. Although these tips are part of my book, If My Kid's So Nice, Why's He Driving ME Crazy?, they really are applicable to ALL young people, not just difficult ones.

Tip #2: Empower the Youngster with Choices

Whenever possible, allow the youngster to exercise skills of decision-making by offering choices. This is especially helpful with the child who has difficulty completing tasks, as the child is more apt to initiate and complete what she has selected. As a suggestion, give her five cards, each of which has an assigned task written on it. Tell the child that, if she begins the tasks within ten minutes (show her the clock) and completes them, only three of the five tasks need to be done; two cards can be returned. (This is a great strategy if you only wanted them to do three of the tasks in the first place!) This approach not only eliminates a number of hassles, it is usually perceived by the child as being a fair and reasonable gesture.

James D. Sutton, Psychologist

June 13, 2006 Posted by | "7 Tips" Series, Parents, The Difficult Child | Leave a comment

Tip #1 of Seven Tips for Getting Along Better with Your Kids

We are publishing this article on this blog as a series. We won't necessarily cover all the tips sequentially, but you will be able to separate out all of them by clicking on the "7 Tips" Series link under Categories. Although these tips are part of my book, If My Kid's So Nice, Why's He Driving ME Crazy?, they really are applicable to ALL young people, not just difficult ones.

Tip #1: Affirm Unconditionally

Whether we like it or not, we live in a conditional society. Adults have to perform to stay employed. Sometimes our children sense they must perform to be loved. Youngsters can have difficulty separating who they are from what they do. Unfortunately, we too often add to the confusion by praising our kids when they make the team, if they make first-chair trombone and because they won the science fair. Although there's nothing wrong with recognizing a child's accomplishments, such affirmation must balance with the recognition of that child's (we're including adolescents here) unconditional value.

One way for a parent to do this is to say to the youngster, "Suzie, I was just thinking about something. I know we have our differences from time to time but, through it all, you're one of the best things that ever came into my life. You don't have to say anything; Ijust wanted you to know."

The secret to making this affirmation stick is to ask a non-related question that takes away the pressure of the child to respond to the compliment (like, "Say, have you seen the scissors?"). Or you could quickly excuse yourself from the room or in some way make it comfortable for the child not to respond to what you have just said. (If Suzie really wants to thank you, she'll find the opportunity to do it.)

Casual notes left on the bathroom mirror or in a lunch box are another way to affirm a child without him or her feeling like you're pushing too much on the affirmation. Keep affirming in small and casual ways, it will pay off. 

 JDS

June 11, 2006 Posted by | "7 Tips" Series, Parents, The Difficult Child | 1 Comment

Something to Build a Life Around

Thanks to my friend Jim Gentil of Austin, Texas for this quote:

Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.
- Mother Teresa

June 9, 2006 Posted by | Inspirational | Leave a comment

The Shoes

As I get more into this blog, I will be putting in a lot of material about working with difficult youngsters in the home and school environments. Be watching for it.

I will also be answering questions that are posted here in this blog or through email.

As I was searching through material, I came across this piece that was published in one of my newsletters. I thought you might enjoy it.

 JDS

The scene: New York City in late December

 A boy was standing in front of a shoe store, barefooted, peering into the window. He was shivering with cold as a lady approached him.

"Young man, what are you looking at so intently in that window."

"I was asking God for a pair of shoes," he replied.

She took him by the hand and entered the store. She asked the clerk for several pairs of socks for the boy, then she requested a basin of water and a towel.

The lady took the boy to the back of the store and, removing her gloves, knelt down and washed his feet, then dried them with a towel. She then put clean, new socks on his feet and purchased for him a new pair of shoes.

As a finishing gesture, she tied up the remaining pairs of socks and handed the bundle to the lad. She then gently touched him on the head.

"No doubt, my little friend, you're more comfortable now."

As she turned to leave, the youngster reached for her hand. With tears filling his eyes, he looked into her kind face and asked a question that grabbed at her heart/

"Are you God's wife?"

June 9, 2006 Posted by | Inspirational, Stories | Leave a comment

Youngsters Need Enthusiasm

I thank Jim Gentil of Austin, Texas for sending this little piece about some fellows getting ready to jump out of a perfectly good airplane.

One day an army general was visiting a military base where paratroopers were training on jumping out of airplanes.  During a conversation, the general asked this question to a group getting ready to go up in the air: “How do you like jumping out of planes?”
The first paratrooper responded, “I love it, sir.”
He then asked the next.  “It’s a fantastic experience, sir!” exclaimed the soldier. “I couldn’t imagine not doing it.”
“How do you like it?” the general asked the third one.
“I’m scared to death, sir, and don’t much like it,” he honestly said.
“Then why do you do it?” the general queried.
“This group has a passion for jumping, sir, they’re excited about it, and I like being around people who enjoy what they do!”

People want to be around other people who are on fire with an enthusiasm that drives them. Young people especially need teachers who have that fire and can pass it on.  It makes a difference in the quality of the school day, and it makes a difference in the bottom line of achievement. (You know, when the kids take the TEST that tells us all where we fell in our effectiveness that year)

Even "problem" students do better in those classes where the teacher is enthusiastic toward the subject and toward them. It's difficult to quantify that sort of enthusiasm, but the results of it CAN be measured every single day. 

 Enthusiasm is the mother of effort, and without it nothing great was ever achieved."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
 

June 6, 2006 Posted by | For Educators, Inspirational | Leave a comment

It Doesn’t Take Much to Make a Difference

For some reason this morning, my thoughts went to Blanca, and eight-year-old girl I worked with almost 20 years ago. To me, she reinforces the notion of how young people desparately need affirmation from the adults in their world, and yet how frightened they are sometimes to ask for it. (They will often ask for it with inappropriate behavior.) Yet, when we the adults make the first move, it makes it much more comfortable for the child to keep it going.

One Monday morning I saw Blanca with some friends on the playground waiting for school to start. I called her over and said: "Blanca, I heard something interesting a moment ago. I hear that you got MARRIED over the weekend? Is that true?"

She flashed the widest smile I had ever seen. "NOOOOOOOO; I'm only eight years old," she laughed, rolling her eyes like she couldn't even believe the question (because she couldn't). Yet, for the rest of that week, she paused at my door on her way home just to assure me, "And I'm STILL not married." We were friends as long as I worked in that district.

It didn't take much to make it a much better week for Blanca … just a few second, really. For a little girl who lived with her grandmother because her father was in prison and her mother was God knows where, it made a big difference.

Lift a child today. You'll both be better for it.
James D. Sutton, EdD, CSP

June 6, 2006 Posted by | Stories | 2 Comments

   

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