Modern Childhood

“Ain’t the Beatles ‘Day in the Life'”

 “Woke up, fell out of bed
Dragged a comb across my head
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup
And looking up, I noticed I was late
Found my coat and grabbed my hat
Made the bus in seconds flat
Found my way upstairs and had a smoke
And somebody spoke and I went into a dream.”

                                           (From “A Day in the Life,”  John Lennon & Paul McCartney”)

Inspired by recently hearing one of my favorite Beatles songs, “A Day in the Life,”  I thought an updated  version of “A Day in the Life” would be fun. This time it would be a day in the life of a typical adolescent boy.M

Myles, a 14-year-old young man who sees me periodically, fills me in on a typical day.

Here’s a re-creation of a conversation I have with him:

“So, Myles, your mother is telling me you do nothing all day. You’re up in your room for hours just on video games, so fill me in.  Let’s make believe we’re watching a video of  a typical day in your life, after you get home from school and maybe on weekends.”

(Keep in mind his mother is sitting next to him as he walks me through it, but he isn’t shy in recounting his day.)

“Well, I get home before 3:00 and I go up in my room,” Myles tells me.

“So, what are you doing up there,” I ask

“I get on my Xbox and start playing.”

“How long are you playing?

“Maybe until about 6:00,” Myles says, “and then I start watching TV or go on YouTube or watch a movie on Netflix. Then I either play some more Xbox and have dinner from around 630.”

“Are you on your phone during any of this?”

“Oh, yeah, I’m texting the whole time with my friends. I text them during dinner too.”

“You mean, your parents let you bring your phone to dinner?”

“Oh, yeah, well, my mom and dad are always checking their Apple watches – makes it look like they aren’t texting, but I know they are.”

“What about any school work?  Does that ever come up for you?”

“Not really. Maybe  about 7:30 for about 10 or 15 minutes then I go back on YouTube and Netflix or play some more Xbox until about 11:30.”

(At this point his mother has turned various colors as she listens to all of this.  She’s astounded he’s being as honest as he is.)

“How about weekends?  What are they like for you?

“Pretty much the same thing.  I get up around 11:00 on Saturday and start playing Xbox and go on YouTube.  Then I do that the rest of the day.”

Takeaway Point

A day in the life in 2022 is a little different than it was when the Beatles told us about it.

I think I’m going back to the Beatles.                                                                

                 “I read the news today, oh boy
                 Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire
                 And though the holes were rather small
                 They had to count them all
                Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall”

                                            (From,  “A Day in the Life,” Lennon & McCartney)


Copyright:  Shut-Down Learner

To Contact Dr. Richard Selznick for advice, consultation or other information, email rselznick615@gmail.com.

 

 

“‘Your Inside Voice'”

Modern parents can make you nostalgic for the good old days.

You know, those were the days when children went outside to play and basically did not see their mother for a solid 8 hours (except when she made them a nutritious bologna sandwich on white bread, which were wolfed down before running back out the door).

In contrast, self-conscious and very involved parenting is the rule these days.

Spend a few minutes in a public setting such as the supermarket or a local café’ and you may hear variations on the following:

 

  • “Now, Hayden…you know that is not your indoor voice, is it Hayden?” (While Hayden runs around the café yelling.)
  • “Remember Connor please do not run ahead, okay? (Connor has already blown off his mom.)
  • “Molly, you know you should not use your whining voice.” (Your whining voice???)
  • “Emma, where are your listening ears?” (Hmmm???”)
  • “William, don’t you think it is time we started our homework?” (Wait, you have homework too?)
  • Noah, I think it is time we went to bed, isn’t it?” (We??)
  • It’s time for us to brush our teeth, Ava?  (Trying to picture combined teeth.)

Compliance between parent and child can be complicated by many variables affecting the outcome.

Very often sender of the message (i.e., the parents) are sending a weak, low-level message/command conveying insecurity likely to be ignored by the child.

In attempts to be nice and overly measured  while worrying about the child “self-esteem,” the message is not clear or direct enough.

(More next week.)


Copyright, 2022 www.shutdownlearner.com

Questions or comments email Dr. Selznick:  rselznick615@gmail.com

“At the Self-Checkout”

Going through the self-checkout lines in supermarkets and in other major stores, I notice the combined feeling of sadness and irritation as the automatized voice (yet another)  commands how to pay and where to put my bags.

This reminds me of a reflection piece, “Those Little Interactions,”  published in my book,  “School Struggles.”

In slightly modified form, here is the piece as it is directly relevant to my feelings on the self-check-out line.

——————————————————————————————————–

A considerable percentage of social interactions takes place while reading nonverbal/verbal cues and signals

While it may seem to be in the dark ages when I was in high school, we would call our friends (no cell phones back then) and often a parent would answer.  There would be a common pleasantry and brief small talk, “Hi Richard.  How are you?  How are your parents?  Please give them regards.  We hope to see you soon.”’

What happens for children when we greatly reduce these opportunities to practice small social interchanges?  Why bother having to deal with the middleman (i.e., the parents) when a cell phone gets right to the source?

Is it a loss that children don’t have to practice those small social skills?

I love having EZPass and feel quite smug watching others line up at tollbooths while I zip through, wondering what their problem is that they don’t have one.

Years ago when I was little, my family would go to visit relatives in Central Pennsylvania.  One thing that always struck me, even then, was how incredibly warm and friendly the toll takers were on the Turnpike.

‘How are you sir?’  They would ask my father with a smile as we pulled up to the booth.  “We hope you have a pleasant trip.”  My father would say something back pleasantly.

I never forgot those interactions.  They added to my model of what social politeness is and the value of little pleasantries.

Now as we use self-checkout in stores another example of modeling mannerly behavior for a child is eliminated.

Recently I attended a week-long seminar on ADHD.  The presenter commented on the loss of social manners as affecting all people in society.  As he said, “I smile at a mom and her little child in line at Starbucks and they shoot me a look like I’m a child molester.”

His comments struck me because I have had similar feelings in superficial social interactions (supermarket, cafés, etc.).  The sense of social invisibility is becoming increasingly pronounced as we cut off channels to learn the basics of social manners and pleasantries.

Our children lack models.

Take Away Point

Modern and living has altered many of our normal, every day social interactions.  Assuming these pleasantries (smiling, saying hello and good morning) matter, try to be aware of them to model them as much as possible for your child.

They still matter, I believe, and modeling is a key way to impart them.


Copyright, 2022 www.shutdownlearner.com

Questions or comments email Dr. Selznick:  rselznick615@gmail.com

 

More on the ‘Drip, Drip Dripping’ of Behavior”

It looks like the description of the “drip, drip dripping” of behaviors resonated with some people.

People asked (rightfully) whether I had “strategies” for such children, like Carter who was previously referenced (.“Drip, Drip, Dripping”)

It will be essential that Carter’s teachers and parents are fully on the same page.  The parents and teachers need to agree on a targeted behavior of concern and define it clearly for Carter.

For example, if Carter tends to push on line or make clicking mouth noises, then those become the targeted behavior.  It will be helpful get a basic baseline as to how often it happens in the day (recognizing you will miss some).

Talking to Carter directly would be a next step.  The goal is not necessarily improving Carter’s behavior,  but increasing his self-awareness.

My theory would be that if Carter becomes more self-aware, then behavior will incrementally improve.

Here’s what a teacher might say to Carter.

“Carter, we need to talk about something.  You’re a nice kid and I feel bad that other children don’t want to play with you.  You do want to have friends, right?  You feel bad because you think others are mean to you, is that true?”

(Carter nods his head.)

“OK, we need to work on that.  I know other kids can be mean to you, but if you want to have friends you need to think about a few things, ok?

(Carter nods again.).

“Well, I’ve noticed that you make a lot of clicking noises through the day. Those noises really gets on other kid’s nerves. You also push on line a lot to try and get up front. What do you think happens then?”

(“They get mad at me and don’t want to be my friend.”)

“Brilliant!!!!  I knew you were so smart!  So, how about we have a plan.  When I come around to your table I’m going to listen carefully and if you are not making any clicking noises or  making  silly faces, I’m going o put a big green check on this chart that I’ve set up for you. At the end of the week if you get at least 10 checks then you can pick out a little prize from my bag of prizes.  It’s just going to be between us.  So what are we working on together?”

(“Me, not making clicky noses or silly faces.”)

“Right again! And what might happen after a while of doing that?)

(“They might start being my friend.)

Takeaway Point

Look, I know this is a made up dialogue and it’s not going to be this easy, but it’s a start.  The Carters of the world have a tough time of it.

You, as parents and teachers are looking to help Carter understand that he has some choice and that by choosing better over time things can improve for him.


Copyright, 2022 www.shutdownlearner.com

Questions or comments email Dr. Selznick:  rselznick615@gmail.com

 

 

“The Drip, Drip, Dripping of Behavior”

Not sure why (I have my theories), but there has been a considerable increase of children landing on my doorstep with behaviors that have become something of a water torture of “drip, drip, dripping” to others around them.

The social fallout is the result of this this steady dripping.

Let’s look at Carter, age 7, who does very well in school and is viewed to be quite smart.

There is little that Carter does overtly that anyone can identify as particularly problematic, but the unrelenting “drip, drip, drip” of behaviors results in others reacting to his every small behavior.

Carter is stunned when other children yell at him, “Stop it, Carter!  You are so annoying.”

From Carter’s perspective everyone is picking on him and he has no idea why other children are “mean to him.”

What Carter is unable to see is that behaviors like his ongoing humming and mouth clicking noises start to add up.

The “drip, drip, drip” goes on throughout the day and no one wants to sit with him on the bus or in the lunchroom.  When his mother tries to make play dates, the children don’t want to come over to his house.

There are other situations that Carter misreads, which also has the effect described.  Carter insists on being first in line and continually calls out answers when the teacher asks a question without raising his hand.

When discussing Carter’s issues with his mother, she becomes somewhat defensive with one of the classic lines, “Aren’t all 7-year-old boys like this?”

There are many different opinions on children like Carter and what is needed.

Some will see if through the lens of ADHD. Others will view Carter as being self-centered. While others will dismiss the behaviors as “boys being boys.”

Plenty will be of the opinion that Carter should be on some type of medication.

Others will suggest he needs to be reading social cues better and should be in some type of social skills group or receive behavioral therapy.

Parents will seek my counsel as to how to “fix the problem.”

I always feel like I am letting them down when I say something like, “There is nothing broken and therefore it can’t be fixed.”

However, with various ends working in on the middle (i.e., parents, teachers, school counselors, therapists), behaviors can be modified and improved over time.

Without placing a child like Carter on the defensive, helping him to incrementally  become more self-aware is a good first step to slow down the dripping.


Copyright, 2022 www.shutdownlearner.com

Questions or comments email Dr. Selznick:  rselznick615@gmail.com

“A Day in the Life” (2022 Version)

 “Woke up, fell out of bed
Dragged a comb across my head
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup
And looking up, I noticed I was late
Found my coat and grabbed my hat
Made the bus in seconds flat
Found my way upstairs and had a smoke
And somebody spoke and I went into a dream
.”

                                           (From “A Day in the Life,”  John Lennon & Paul McCartney”)

Inspired by recently hearing one of favorite Beatles songs, “A Day in the Life,”  I thought an updated  version of “A Day in the Life” would be fun.

This time it would be a day in the life of a typical 14-year-old boy.

Brandon, a young man who sees me periodically, filled me in on a typical day.

Here’s a re-creation of a conversation I had with him:

“So, Brandon, your mother is telling me you do nothing. You’re up in your room for hours.  Fill me in.  Let’s make believe we’re watching a video of  a typical day in your life, after you get home from school.”

(Keep in mind his mother was sitting next to him as he walked me through it.)

“Well, I get home before 3:00 and I go up in my room,” Brandon tells me.

“So, what are you doing up there,” I ask

“I get on my Xbox and start playing.”

“How long are you playing?

“Maybe until about 4:30,” Brandon says, “and then I start watching TV or go on YouTube or watch a movie on Netflix. Then I either play some more Xbox and have dinner from around 6:00 to 6:15.”

“Are you on your phone during any of this?”

“Oh, yeah, I’m texting the whole time with my friends. I text them during dinner too.”

“What about any school work?  Does that ever come up for you?”

“A little. Maybe  about 7:00 for about 10 or 15 minutes then I go back on YouTube and Netflix or play some more Xbox until about 11:00.”

(At this point his mother has turned various colors as she listens to all of this.  She’s astounded he’s being as honest as he is.)

“How about weekends?  What are they like for you?

“Pretty much the same thing.  I get up around 11:00 on Saturday and start playing Xbox and going no YouTube.  Then I do that the rest of the day.”

Takeaway Point

A day in the life in 2022 is a little different than it was when the Beatles told us about it.

I think I will go go back to the Beatles rather than Xbox.                                                                      

                 I read the news today, oh boy
                 Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire
                 And though the holes were rather small
                 They had to count them all
                Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall

                                            (From,  “A Day in the Life,” Lennon & McCartney)

 

“Same As It Ever Was…Same As It Ever Was”

Adults often look at the younger generation with a combination of bewilderment and horror over the way they conduct themselves on a day-to-day basis.  Shaking our heads quietly (or not so quietly) we wonder, “What’s the matter with them?  What’s the matter with kids these days?”

(For someone like myself who has been in the business of working with children this can become even more pronounced, as every year of getting  older, the kids stay the same age.  So, back in the earlier part of my career the gap between a 15 year  old and myself, was maybe 15 years or so. Now…well, let’s leave that out of the discussion.  Let’s just say the gap is considerably wider.)

When it comes to children and their issues, it’s important to keep perspective, which is often not easy to do.

With that in mind, the following should help us keep a perspective as we shake our collective head:

— “We live in a decaying age. Young people no longer respect their parents. They are rude and impatient.  They frequently inhabit places they shouldn’t and have no self-control.”  (An inscription found in a 6,000-year-old Ancient Egyptian tomb.)

—  “When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly disrespectful and impatient of restraint.”   (Hesiod, 8th Century BCE)

—  “Our youth now love luxury.  They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents; chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.” (Socrates, 469 BCE)

—  “The world is passing through troubled times. The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they knew everything, and what passes for wisdom with us is foolishness with them. As for the girls, they are forward, immodest, and unladylike in speech, behavior and dress.”  (From a sermon preached by Peter the Hermit in A.D. 1274)

—  “Children are natural mimics—they act like their parents in spite of every attempt to teach them good manners.”  (Mad Magazine, circa 1963)

Or as the Talking Heads said in their classic song, “Once in a Lifetime,” stated, Same as it ever was. Same as it ever was.

 

———————————————————————————

Copyright, 2021 www.shutdownlearner.com
Questions or topics email Dr. Selznick.  Not in the South Jersey area? For a free 15 Minute Consultation, contact Dr. Selznick: email – rselznick615@gmail.com.

To purchase a signed copy of  “What To Do About Dyslexia: 25 Essential Concepts” & Dr. Selznick’s other books and to receive blog updates go to https://shutdownlearner.com.

Screen Addictions Part II: Young Jake Sets Us Straight

Following up on last week’s discussion of “screen addictions, I had an informative conversation with young Jake, a recently turned 9 year old.

Schooling me on how screen usage goes in his house, Jake offered me a few pointers.

“My mom sets a strict limit,” Jake said.  “There’s no more than two hours a day.  That’s it.”

“Wow,” I responded.  “And you are  ok with that?”

“At first I was upset,” Jake said. “I thought it was unfair.  None of my friends had time limits set on their game systems, but my mom explained it to me.”

“What did she say to you,” I asked this wise little man.

“She said that lots of kids get addicted to these game systems and they don’t want to do anything else but play games like Fortnite or go on TikTok and YouTube.  She said she wasn’t going to let that happen to me and that I had to find other stuff to do.”

“How did that work out?”

“For about a week I cried a lot and tried to get her to stop, but she ignored me and after a while I started doing other stuff – you know like shooting baskets outside, riding my bike, building things – stuff like that.  I even read a book – a science fiction one that was really cool.”

I was so stunned that at this point in the conversation that Jake had to almost pick me up off the floor.

Gaining my composure, I asked, “So, this is what you think other moms should do?”

“Yep, my friends are a bunch of idiots who do nothing else.  I will be killing them in basketball if they ever come out from the basement.”

There you have it, parents.  Jake is giving us the answer pretty straightforwardly.

It may be a rough ride for a while, but Jake is telling us that you need to buck up, steel your nerve and set the limits.

There will be a lot of wailing, moaning and teeth gnashing as your child goes through withdrawal, but as the saying goes, “This too shall pass.”


Copyright, 2021 www.shutdownlearner.com
Questions or topics email Dr. Selznick.  Not in the South Jersey area? For a free 15 Minute Consultation, contact Dr. Selznick: email – rselznick615@gmail.com.

Screen Addictions: Part I

Is it OK for 7 or 8 year-olds to have their own phone?

At the risk of sounding like an old-head, when I see kids younger than high school in possession of phones I notice myself questioning it.

Recently, a  7-year old girl talked to me about wanting to have her own YouTube channel, while also pushing her mom to have unlimited access to TikTok.

The average age of parents I deal with  is probably between 35 – 45.  They are largely referred to as a generation  considered to be  “digital natives.”  Perhaps the fact that their 7 year old is browsing TikTok and YouTube is no big deal.

I’m not so sure.

Most of the kids that I meet are logging in about  7 – 8 hours a day playing games like Fortnite and hanging on TikTok.

They become quite “meltdowny” (a term I coined) when asked to  get off their devices and do things like walk the dog or to complete some schoolwork.

An article in the New York Times spoke about the issues (“Children’s Screen Time Has Soared During the Pandemic: Alarming Parents & Researchers” ):

“Dr. Jenny Radesky, a pediatrician who studies children’s use of mobile technology at the University of Michigan, said she did countless media interviews early in the pandemic, telling parents not to feel guilty about allowing more screen time, given the stark challenges of lockdowns. Now, she said, she’d have given different advice if she had known how long children would end up stuck at home.”                  

“I probably would have encouraged families to turn off Wi-Fi except during school hours so kids don’t feel tempted every moment, night and day,” she said, adding,  “The longer they’ve been doing a habituated behavior, the harder it’s going to be to break the habit.” 

I could not agree more, accept this “habituation” was going on well before the pandemic struck.

I see kids as literally addicted to these activities.

What do you think?  Perhaps offer some comments that I can post in the follow-up.

 


Copyright, 2021 www.shutdownlearner.com
Questions or topics email Dr. Selznick.  Not in the South Jersey area? For a free 15 Minute Consultation, contact Dr. Selznick: email – rselznick615@gmail.com.

“We Live In a Decaying Age”

Most adults of a certain generation (let’s say north of 50 years) typically shake their collective head in bewilderment over children and the way they conduct themselves.

There’s always an undercurrent of, “What’s the matter with kids these days?”

I’ve been working on a book regarding how to parent challenging children and in my poking around to read more about the subject, I came  upon these quotes that brought a dose of reality to this perspective.

We live in a decaying age.  Young people no longer respect their parents.  They are rude and impatient.  They frequently inhabit places they shouldn’t and have no self-control.” (An inscription found in a 6,000 year old Ancient Egyptian tomb.)

“When I was young, we were taught to be discreet and respectful of elders, but the present youth are exceedingly disrespectful and impatient of restraint.” (Hesiod, 8th Century BCE)

Our youth now love luxury.  They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents; chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.”  (Socrates, 469 BCE).

“The world is passing through troublous times. The young people of today think of nothing but themselves. They have no reverence for parents or old age. They are impatient of all restraint. They talk as if they knew everything, and what passes for wisdom with us is foolishness with them. As for the girls, they are forward, immodest and unladylike in speech, behavior and dress.” (From a sermon preached by Peter the Hermit in A.D. 1274)

“Children are natural mimics – they act like their parents in spite of every attempt to teach them good manners.”  (Mad Magazine)

Or as the Talking Heads said in their classic song, “Once in a Lifetime,” “Same as it ever was…Same as it ever was.”

Trust me.  When I hear story after story of how kids conduct their lives, I find myself shaking my head (hopefully, not too visibly).

But the quotes above help to ground me.

“Same as it ever was…Same as it ever was.”


Copyright, 2021 www.shutdownlearner.com
Questions or topics email Dr. Selznick.  Not in the South Jersey area? For a free 15 Minute Consultation, contact Dr. Selznick: email – rselznick615@gmail.com.

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