On a weekly basis since 2009 I’ve tried to crank out a new blog post.  While I may have missed a week or two here and there, I think there are nearly 350 of posts on www.shutdownlearner.com, drawing inspiration from kids and families to help generate ideas.

Over the next few weeks I thought that it would be fun to dip into some of the major points from the blogs and the books as a way reminding you of keeping certain key concepts in mind.

Here’s one that is near and dear to my heart taken from the “Parenting Road” in “School Struggles:”

             “Gumby parenting can lead to many child behavior problems.  Having a clear and firm parenting style is usually the               most effective.  Watch out for being too soft, but also make sure you don’t become overly rigid.” (School Struggles)

Ah, yes. “Gumby parenting.”


For those of you who didn’t play with Gumby as a child (he may have become an emoji or something to the current generation), he was a popular toy, a rubber figure who was very flexible.

He had no backbone. You could twist him any way you wanted.

Gumby parenting (a term I made up) is a common style characterized by their kids who usually have great difficulty   with the“n-word,” (i.e. “no”).  It’s not a word that they are used to hearing and when it is heard they have bad reactions to try and get the parent to give them what they want.

This leads to “EWD” (Excessive Whining Disorder).  (Sadly, children with EWD are often quickly put on medication as a first line approach as it is easy for doctors to call these kids ADD or ADHD.)

Other tell-tale signs of Gumby Parenting include overuse of the word “amazing” when referring to their child and rarely asking their kids to do tasks around the house (what used to be called “chores”).  Effectively, the parents do all of the tasks, while the kid plays on a screen or watches YouTube.

As a next step if you think you may be a Gumby Parent (it’s hard to admit) try and own it.  Maybe start by saying something over and over to yourself like, “I am a Gumby parent…Don’t be a Gumby.   Don’t be a Gumby.”

Building on the mantra, reflect on the fact that it’s ok for your child to feel displeasure.  They don’t have to be happy while doing the chores or their homework, but non-Gumbys insist on good effort without whining and complaining.

The essence of being a non-Gumby is taking an effective action when the child is not behaving well.  Parents almost always translate that erroneously into punishment (and yelling), as in “that’s it!!!  You’re not playing video games for the next two weeks!!!!!!!!”

An effective action is something entirely different and we will build on that concept in the next week’s post.

Copyright, 2018 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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