Blog Posts by Nathan OLeary

  • The Learned Helplessness Trap—5 Ways to Stop Fixing Things for Your Kids

    Chances are, you know at least one "Helicopter Parent"-or possibly even a few "Snowplow Parents." Along with hovering and over-functioning for their kids, Snowplow Parents also work to "clear the way" for their children, removing all obstacles, disappointments and frustrations from their kids' paths. Here's the truth: While it's natural to want to shield your child from pain, if done to the extreme, it prohibits kids from experiencing real life problems-and can even prevent them from growing up and developing with enough life skills to function as adults. Here are 5 ways you can put the plow away and start letting your child do things for himself today.
    Read More: Why Fixing Things For Your Child Doesn't Help

    More on Empowering Parents:
    Learned Helplessness: Are You Doing Too Much for Your Child?
    Narcissistic Children and Teens: Does Your Child Act Entitled?
    Stop the Blame Game: How to Teach Your Child to Stop Making Excuses and Start Taking Responsibility

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  • ADHD Infographic: ADHD by the Numbers

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) claims that ADHD affects three to seven percent of school children in the US. What's interesting is that prescriptions for ADHD children have rose 50 percent in the last decade-making many take a closer look at the diagnosis. More important, parents are wondering how their children will handle ADHD as they become adults.

    ADHD Diagnosis in Kids InfographicADHD Diagnosis in Kids Infographic
    By Empowering Parents - Parenting Tips and Advice

    A new study says that kids with ADHD have "dimmer prospects" than their peers. Do you think this is necessarily true?

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  • Parenting Responsibilities: 10 Things You Are (and Aren’t) Responsible for as a Parent

    EmpoweringParents.comThese days, we're bombarded with mixed messages about how to parent "the right way." It's easy to buy into advice from the media, relatives, and other parents and start to worry that we're doing something wrong. Part of the reason this is happening is because adults, just like kids, are over-stimulated. We're more wired and connected, which means we're receiving more outside input than ever before. We have easy access to advice (good and bad) on the web, to information about how other parents are doing things, and to each other through social networking sites. This means we're also more actively comparing ourselves to others-and getting more judgment and criticism from others as a result. We're on an informational and emotional overload, which is causing many, many parents to feel overwhelmed and confused.

    Related: Exhausted from parenting an angry, defiant child?

    On our Parental Support Line, my advice to callers was to trust your instincts as a parent-you know your child best,

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  • Does Parenting Feel like a Thankless Job?

    If you are searching, longing and looking for appreciation from your child during the tough times, you're really going in the wrong direction.I was having coffee with a friend recently when she leaned across the table and said, "No matter what I do as a parent, I feel like I'm being taken for granted. All my child seems to do is yell at me, ignore me or ask me for things. I just feel so unappreciated."

    Let's face it-parenting is often a thankless job. Before we have kids, most of us have unrealistic expectations of what it's going to be like to give birth and become a parent. Maybe you watched family members raising their kids, or witnessed frazzled parents in the grocery store whose kids were acting out and thought to yourself, "I'll never do it that way." But as every parent eventually finds out, that ideal image we have pre-kids is not reality. It's hard work to raise children, and most of us are simply trying to do our best.

    Related: How to stop feeling judged and blamed-and start parenting more effectively.

    It's not easy to set limits, give consequences, and stay consistent as a parent-and your child

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  • Are You a Bad Parent? How to Let Go of Parenting Guilt

    You're probably not waking up in the morning saying, Countless readers write in to Empowering Parents and say, "I'm supposed to know how to make my child behave, but I don't. He's out of control and people blame me for his behavior. I feel guilty and ashamed most of the time, and very alone. It's the worst feeling in the world." The truth is, you're not supposed to know everything about being a parent-it's a skill you have to learn, just like anything else. While there's no one "right way" to parent, there are more effective ways to handle your child's behavior.

    Related: Stop blaming yourself for your child's behavior and take on more parental authority today.

    I've worked with some of the toughest, out of control adolescents imaginable and really understand where people are coming from when they say they feel like a "bad parent." As a therapist in residential treatment centers for troubled teens and at-risk youth, part of my job was also working with parents to teach them new skills. The moms and dads I met were beaten down and

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  • Is Your Child Skipping School?

    Every parent dreads getting "the call" from the principal's office-and it's even more upsetting when you're told that your child skipped school, or hasn't been attending for some time.

    If your child is skipping school-either playing sick or skipping out of classes-again, you first need to investigate and find out why. Is your child failing, being bullied, under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or does he have physical problems? Some kids develop anxiety around going to school; they can have stomach aches or headaches as a result. Younger kids might cling to parents and cry. A lot of kids will say they're sick in order to avoid school because they have anxiety about it. If there's an anxiety issue at play, a visit to your child's pediatrician to determine whether counseling is in order might be your best course of action. A skilled counselor can gently get your child over the hump and teach them ways of coping with their nervousness around school. So the reason why your child is

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  • When Your Child Says, “I hate my teacher!”

    Does your child come home with stories of how his teacher has upset him? It almost seems to be part of childhood and adolescence-every so often, your child will have a teacher with whom he just can't seem to get along. Sometimes it's a simple personality conflict; other times, your child is having difficulty responding to authority. I think that the very first thing to do for your child in this situation is validate how he feels. Don't agree with him and say, "Yeah, you're right; your teacher is a jerk." When you undermine the teacher's authority, you are giving your child permission to disrespect her. On the other hand, you should allow your child to share with you what it's like in class. Don't tell him he's wrong or that he shouldn't feel a certain way. Once your child has been heard, he'll be more receptive to hearing your ideas about what he can do to make the situation better.

    If your child is old enough, he has to learn to accept the fact that certain teachers require things

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  • Dropping Grades: How to Deal with Your Child’s Poor School Performance

    Your child started out the school year doing fine, but maybe he hit a mid-year slump after the holidays and his grades started going down. Or perhaps your daughter has spring fever and is having a hard time concentrating in class-and nothing you say to motivate her is helping. What's a parent to do?

    Related: Child Behavior Problems?

    If your child's grades are dropping, rule number one is to become an investigator. In other words, really find out what's going on with your child. Is he having problems at home or with other kids at school? Is he having a tough time adjusting to middle school or high school? Are his study habits poor-and can you work on that together? For some kids, learning disabilities and medical problems may play a role. And for still others, drug and alcohol use may be the cause of falling grades. The main thing for you to do is find out the "why" and then come up with a plan to help your child. Here are some steps you can take immediately:

    • Meet
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  • Is Your Child Acting out in School?

    Have you been asked to speak to your child's teacher on more than one occasion about the fact that he's acting out at school? Does he frequently start fights and talk back to the teacher?

    When your child acts out in school, it can be worrisome, frustrating and embarrassing. On top of the actual misbehavior, you fear that he'll make a bad name for himself-that his reputation as a troublemaker will follow him from grade to grade. You may also feel judged-and blamed-by teachers and other parents for what your child does at school.

    Some kids act out when they're feeling left out or left behind. Make sure that your child is capable of doing the class work he is being asked to do, for example. Being behind (or ahead of) the class can create boredom, frustration, and anxiety-which may lead some kids to act out verbally or physically.

    I want to stress that for the most part, you should not give consequences for school misbehavior at home, unless your child is damaging school

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  • How to Deal with Lying in Children and Teens

    When you catch your child in a lie, it's natural to feel betrayed, hurt, angry and frustrated. But here's the truth: lying is normal. It's wrong, but it's normal. In fact, we all do it to some degree. Consider how adults use lies in their daily lives: When we're stopped for speeding, we often minimize what we've done wrong, if not out-and-out lie about it. Why? We're hoping to get out of something, even if we know better.

    I believe that with kids, lying is a faulty problem-solving skill. It's our job as parents to teach our children how to solve those problems in more constructive ways. Here are a few of the reasons why kids lie. (Later, I'll explain how to handle it when they do.)

    Why Kids Lie

    To establish identity: One of the ways kids use lying is to establish an identity and to connect with peers, even if that identity is false. Lying can also be a response to peer pressure. Your child might be lying to his peers about things he says he's done that he really hasn't

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