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“Beyond the Power Struggle: A Guide for Parents of Challenging Kids”

Exciting News!!!!!

Over the next few weeks, my latest book, “Beyond the Power Struggle:  A Guide For Parents of Challenging Kids” is scheduled to be released.

If you are a beleaguered parent or know a beleaguered parent, you might want to get a copy.

Here’s a link to the the full cover with the  endorsements:

(Click Here)Beyond The Power Struggle 2023

Please spread the word and share.

“wuns a pon a time their was a boy…”

 wuns a pon a time their was a boy wgo had no frends so he was always alon But than on day evry thing change His mom gave him a voilinto play it sounded horabel so he said I am never playing this again so one Day he went to in the stor and heard the guy play the vialin it sounded awsome so he said to his mom thats how I want to play well then you need to pratis his mom said and then he did and he was so good at it.

 Completed  by James, a 10-year-old boy, this writing sample was written after he was asked to write  a story to a picture of a boy looking at a violin.  (The story is is written as he wrote it minus the chaotic handwriting.)

Writing can be a window or an x-ray revealing a person’s feelings, as well as showing their basic understanding of written language.

The more I got to know James, who was diagnosed with a severe reading disability, the more this story became a true window on two levels.

Metaphorically speaking, James looks around his classroom and sees others playing the violin fine, while he cannot.  Acutely aware of the fact that he is not measuring up, in spite of hearing his parents tell him repeatedly that he is “so smart and so amazing,”  James feels pretty discouraged, as expressed in his story (although there is a spark of optimism at the end).

Besides being academically discouraged, James also feels outside relative to the social dynamics in his classroom. James thinks the other kids snicker at him behind his back (sometimes not behind) and James tries too hard to make friends, which often backfires, making things worse.

So, what does James need?

James needs two things that he is not getting.

First, he needs a sense of personal connection  Perhaps James can form a good working relationship with a therapist who can be encouraging, while helping him recharge his battery.

As part of the counseling, James’ parents can be guided to find a way to talk with him more effectively, as they are becoming overly testy with him, which only leads to sparks flying around the household during the nightly homework battles.

James also needs good tutoring  using structured, systematic direct instruction, focusing on his writing, starting with writing a simple sentence.

Tutoring can have magical effects, as noted in an earlier blog, “Relationship  the Secret Sauce of Success.” (“Relationship – The Secret Sauce of Success”


(***Please note:  All blogs represent the opinion and perspective of Dr. Richard Selznick.  Comments and questions are welcomed, but are blocked by the hosting site.  Please email questions or comments: rselznick615@gmail.com)  

Copyright, Richard Selznick, Ph.D.  2022, www.shutdownlearner.com.

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

To receive future blog posts, register your email: https://shutdownlearner.com.

 

Blog #1 from 2009

Started in 2009 upon the release of my first book, The Shut-Down Learner, there have been nearly 600 blog posts completed on a weekly basis over those years..

I thought it would be fun to look back on some of the earliest ones (slightly edited), to see what I was saying and to see if they still hold up.

So, in that spirit, here is Blog #1 from April, 2009.

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“Anxiety over your child’s school-based problems can start very early. A mom recently contacted me after reading “The Shut-Down Learner.

“My son is drowning in school. Do you think he could be a shut-down learner,” she asked.

After asking a few more questions, I was struck by the fact that the child in question was only in kindergarten.

When I wrote The Shut-Down Learner I was envisioning a disconnected, shut-down teenager. However, as I gave more talks to parents, so many of the concerns being raised concerned young children. This led me to understand that so much of the concept of a shutting down adolescent begins very early and made me think about how this can be prevented from happening as early as possible.

A formula I used frequently in talks to parents helps to explain the shutting down process  over time.

Here’s the formula:

Cracks in the Foundation + Time + Lack of Understanding + Widening cracks + Increased  Family Tensions (around the school issues)  = Shut-Down Learner

So, if you are the mom of a kindergarten or first grade child who is starting to  shut-down, there likely are cracks in the foundation. The next step is to know what those cracks are and how to identify and address them.

As we progress with future blogs, I will break down this formula for you in depth so that you will understand each of the parts and what you may be able to do as the child’s parent.”

Takeaway Point

OK, some 14 years later, I still agree!!!

More to come.


(***Please note:  All blogs represent the opinion and perspective of Dr. Richard Selznick.  Comments and questions are welcomed, but are blocked by the hosting site.  Please email questions or comments: rselznick615@gmail.com)  

Copyright, Richard Selznick, Ph.D.  2022, www.shutdownlearner.com.

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

To receive future blog posts, register your email: https://shutdownlearner.com.

“‘Barn Kids’ & the ‘Populars'”

In my ongoing education, this week I learned about the “Barn Kids” and the “Populars.”

Mother of 12-year-old Marla explained to me that her 12-year-old daughter was one of the “Barn Kids”  and not one of the “Populars.”

Instinctively, I sort of knew what she meant,  but asked for elaboration.

“Well, the Barn kids are like in their own corner of the universe.  They love hanging with the horses, shoveling hay, cleaning stalls and doing all sorts of other odd jobs around the barn.  They don’t have phones or other screens down at the barn.  They just hang with the horses and sometimes a little with each other.”

I ask, how  Marla get along with the other Barn kids.”

“Great…totally the opposite of how she is with the Populars or in school.  An interesting side-note is that the Barn Kids are all different ages, from maybe seven up to teens.”

“With the Populars,” she continued, “they’re always clustering on their phones, going on Tik Tok, talking and gossiping with each other.  From what I can tell, they can be a pretty tough group.  Marla is very skittish about them.”

When I meet Marla we talk about her love of the barn and she tells me how it all works. She didn’t feel like an outsider there, pressing her nose to the glass trying to get in the club as she always feels around the popular kids.  She also proudly shows me a video of herself in a jumping competition that she had recently won. (The Populars knew nothing about her victory.)

There wasn’t much she had to say about the Populars, other than on occasion they could make fun of her, but she felt she was learning to cope when she had to be around them.

Beside, when she started to feel stressed and had trouble coping, she knew her horse was a great listener!


(***Please note:  All blogs represent the opinion and perspective of Dr. Richard Selznick.  Comments and questions are welcomed, but are blocked by the hosting site.  Please email questions or comments: rselznick615@gmail.com)  

Copyright, Richard Selznick, Ph.D.  2022, www.shutdownlearner.com.

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

To receive future blog posts, register your email: https://shutdownlearner.com.

 

“And, So a New Chapter Begins”

With the arrival of newborn Emmett Gaetano Selznick last weekend, an official new chapter begins in our lives.

As I said a while ago, in a previous blog on grandparenting, I’m going to try and do my best to do what grandparents are supposed to do – spoil and “zip it and clip it” (not easy for me).

As loyal readers of this blog know, I do my best to dispense a range of advice for parents anxious about their child’s struggles.  ( I reflect on the fact (and chuckle to myself as I write this) that  my son unsubscribed to this blog a number of years ago.)

So, let’s raise a collective glass to young Emmett Gaetano and wish him good things.  Here’s hoping he doesn’t give his teachers too much stuff, while he gives his father a hefty dose.  (Hey, like father like son, no?  We certainly got our share in the raising of Emmett’s father!)

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In last week’s post which drew on the perspective that for a couple thousand years adults have been shaking their head  (I know I have) on the out of control (unruly) nature of childhood (“What’s the Matter With Kids” ).

Loyal reader and friend Stan commented on the post:

“Brilliant set of quote demonstrating the timelessness of the antipathy the older generation always seems to feel toward the youth of the day…Perhaps the elders are simply jealous of the youth , energy, vitality and projected length of their future life.  Kudos to the Shut Down-Learner research staff  – they deserve lots of credit (and perhaps a raise?) for digging up these oh-so-appropriate quotations!!!”

Well, Stan, since the writing of these blogs is a labor of love, the staff will have to wait for their raise.

In the meantime, we of the older generation will continue looking at the younger generation through a jaundiced eye, especially with their seeming addictions to screens above all other facets of life.


(***Please note:  All blogs represent the opinion and perspective of Dr. Richard Selznick.  Comments and questions are welcomed, but are blocked by the hosting site.  Please email questions or comments: rselznick615@gmail.com)  

Copyright, Richard Selznick, Ph.D.  2022, www.shutdownlearner.com.

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

To receive future blog posts, register your email: https://shutdownlearner.com.

“A Primer”

In my corner of the universe most of the issues that are brought to me include some variation on the following:

  • Struggling with reading (and writing)
  • Difficulty with attention and what is commonly referred to as “sustained mental effort”
  • Low level “executive functioning”
  • Poor Frustration tolerance
  • Disconnected/Shut-Down/Unmotivated
  • Ignoring Rules/Social Problems
  • Parent frustration with the school/special education

There are many other issues that parents may be encountering with their children, but these are the common ones that land on my doorstep.

Over the next few weeks we will weave through these categories with a Selznick Primer of  Struggling Children, while doing my best to offer a thumbnail overview and a few essentials for you to consider

Please understand that these blogs represent my view.  I am not presenting them as absolute truths, but offering my perspective.

It is always my mission to talk to parents, whether through the blogs or face-to-face, in down-to earth, plain language with as little jargon as possible.

It is my impression that there is a great deal of misconception and misinformation out there, and I do my best to try and counter these.

Feel free to disagree, pushback or raise questions.  In fact, I would welcome those, but you need to do this through email (rselznick615@gmail.com), as the comment feature has been disabled because of spamming.  (In future posts related to the category being discussed I  may post some of the questions, anonymously of course.)

If you are a long time reader of this blog and have come along some 500+ blogs later, thanks for staying with me over the years.

If you’re relatively new to these, welcome.

Hope you enjoy the ride.

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***Please note:  Comments are blocked by the hosting site.  Please email questions or comments.  (See below.)

Copyright, Richard Selznick, Ph.D.  2022, www.shutdownlearner.com.

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

To receive future blog posts, register your email: https://shutdownlearner.com.

 

“Top Ten List (of irritations)”

Those of you following this blog for some time know there are some recurring themes.

For others  newer to these posts, I will help to bring you up to speed with my top ten list of things that pluck my nerves:

  1. The LD-Discrepancy Model: Easily the number one issue that gets under my skin is the LD-Discrepancy model used in many states (New Jersey being one) to classify children in special education as learning disabled.  If you want a primer on the LD-Discrepancy model, this is a great overview: (https://www.understood.org/en/articles/the-discrepancy-model-what-you-need-to-know). 
  2. Pathologizing Childhood: Not all child problems are neurobiological (“brain-based”) disabilities.   Some issues are “out of the head.”  (Perhaps the worksheet is poorly written with dreadful comprehension questions.) 
  1. “Diagnosing” ADHD Based on Small Data: Checking a few items (e.g., “Easily distractible”) on something like the Vanderbilt Scales given in the pediatrician’s office is not enough. 
  1. “We can’t diagnose dyslexia – you need to see a neurologist.” Parents are reflexively told this when they raise the issue of dyslexia.  Seriously, how many neurologists or pediatricians that you know give a battery of reading, spelling and writing tests necessary to assess dyslexia?  I work in a pediatric department with many specialists.  I don’t know any. 
  1. “This or That Thinking:” “I just want to get to the bottom of it,” parents will say.  “I just don’t know if it’s ADD or laziness.”  Truth is it’s almost never,  “this or that.”  With most kids it’s almost always, “this and that and that.” 
  1. Dyslexia Nation: How did the array of reading problems all come around to dyslexia?  A child could have a mild problem with reading that can be helped with good tutoring. This does not a dyslexic make. 
  1. “The Spectrum:” I’m always puzzled when people refer to “The Spectrum,”  as in, “He’s on the spectrum.”  Which one???  All the issues of concern are on a spectrum.  “The Spectrum” suggests there’s one and one only. 
  1. “Hey, Bud” Parenting: I hate to break the news to parents out there, but they are your children.  You don’t set limits with your buddies.  You set limits with children.
  1. Overplaying 504 Plans: Listen up, gang. The reality of 504 Plans is that they do not do that much.   They are not meant to offer services, but basic accommodations.     
  1. Screen Addicts: I get it.  Times change.  I don’t get the newspaper delivered any more.  I have my phone with me most of the time and am in a froth when I can’t locate it.  With that said, kids care about little else than their screen time.   They are becoming addicted.   We’re not facing it.

 Takeaway Point

OK…once, again, I’ve vented my spleen.  Problem is I don’t feel any better.

Well, it’s still cheaper than real therapy!!!


Copyright, Richard Selznick, Ph.D.  2022, www.shutdownlearner.com.

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

To receive future blog posts, register your email: https://shutdownlearner.com.

“Help!!!! I Have a Low ‘OQ'”

I don’t know how to describe it in more clinical or scientific terms, but there are a bunch of kids I’ve assessed recently who seem to me to lack, “oomph.”

While “oomph” may be one of those words that are not currently in modern usage, I think it conveys an important issue that is not often discussed.

With a low level of “oomph”  the child comes across with low-energy and very little “push” behind them and the  tasks they are completing.  Typically, parents will be checking the box that says, “lacks sustained mental effort.”

With these children, I think of them as having a low “OQ,” a term I made up (i.e., “Oomph Quotient.”)

Let’s take Jamie, an 8 year old whose parents are worried about how he conducts himself in his day-to-day life.

When I meet Jamie I do my best to connect with him, but he’s not buying what I’m selling.  Giving me  blasé’ (“must I do this”) fist bump with a meager smile as a starting point, he conveys that he can’t wait to be out of there.

When the assessment starts I ask Jamie to write down three things that he likes to do.  Instead of writing,  he says something in a mumble like, “I don’t like to do too much – video games.”  (Nothing gets written down.)

Later, on a task where I have Jamie copy different shape and designs on the page and to put blocks together in patterns, he goes through the motions, but there is no attempt to correct himself when a design or block pattern is obviously wrong.

The sense is that the only thing on Jamie’s mind that matters to him is getting done with this annoyance so he can go back to his screen time at home or on the phone that his parents have given him on his birthday (with no strings attached).

It would be one thing if what was observed was unusual for Jamie, a function of not liking me or the assessment situation, but this occurs on a daily basis his parents are getting their buttons pushed by it.

In short, Jamie has a low “OQ.”

Certainly, many kids with a low OQ are diagnosed as  ADHD or “ADD”  and perhaps medication can give them a little bit more oomph, but my sense is that it is deeper than we are owning and understanding.

To my knowledge there is no easy fix to remedy a low “OQ.”

A good first step is to recognize it for what it usually is – a total disinterest in anything beyond what is giving the child pleasure (which usually comes in the form of a screen interaction).

Once it is recognized for what it is, honest conversations can take place between parent and child about what the low OQ means and how much of a problem it is.

Starting to link up very important messages that question the free access to screen pleasure would be a good next step.

The child has to start understanding the basic formula of “you give and you get,” as the child is typically stuck in “you don’t give and you still get.”


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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