What Do You Make of Bad Behavior?

What would you make of this bad behavior?

Ashley was pushing her daughter Ella in the stroller through Nordstrom to the men’s department to buy a shirt for father’s day.

At the foot of the escalator Ella said: “Can we go up to the video?”

“Not this time, Sweetie,” responded Ashley. “I want you to stay with me, so I can just find a shirt for Daddy, and then we can go.” Continue reading

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What is Genius? Part 1: Calli’s Love Life

Finding genius is not about finding ability. Finding genius is about unlocking the creative potential of the human brain.

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The Terrible Twos: Children’s Self-Determination and Four Lessons for Parents

If parents understand the “terrible twos” as a developmental stage for parents as well as children, they can take parenting to the next level and keep supporting their children’s drive for self-determination. Continue reading

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School Bus Bullying: Seven Lessons

In my article “School Bus Bullying? Look Who’s Taking Responsibility and Who’s Not” on Tuesday I reacted to the social uproar that attended the horror story of four seventh graders cruelly and mercilessly mocking a 68-year old bus monitor. Now that emotions have settled a bit from the initial shock, what becomes clear?

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School Bus Bullying? Look Who’s Taking Responsibility and Who’s Not.

I’m shocked! Shocked, to find that gambling is going on in here.

—Claude Rains in “Casablanca”

 In Upstate New York last week, four seventh graders cruelly and mercilessly mocked a 68-year old bus monitor, and one of them caught 14 minutes of this horror show on camera. Americans are shocked.

The response of Americans so far reveals a nation shocked but not confused—not confused, at least, about morality. Continue reading

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Want Cooperative Children? Treat Them As If They Are

 Man walks into a room with a clothesline across it, takes a handful of clothespins out of a basket and starts pinning up clothes. A mother and her 18-month-old son are sitting on the floor watching. After pinning several items, the man accidentally drops a pin on the floor. He then pretends to reach over the clothesline to try to pick up the dropped pin, but his arms just aren’t long enough. The 18-month-old watches the man struggle for few seconds, then leaves his mother, goes over to the clothespin, picks it off the floor and holds it up to the man, who takes it and says thank you. Continue reading

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Children Have Empathy Built In. 3 Ways We Can Help Them Use It

Don’t Teach Empathy. Teach Thoughtfulness

So much of what I read about combatting bullying, instilling morality and teaching empathy leaves out our greatest resource: the natural inclinations of children. Continue reading

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One Way to Stop Bullying

“I’m Not the Only One” Part 2

(Continued from January 4)

As it turned out, I did not have to wait long for an opportunity to address the bullying issue. Later that week Davion did come to my office to complain about Jeremy, telling me about his intimidating behavior and threatening language, emphasizing, “It’s not just me. He’s does it to everybody.” Continue reading

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An Anti-Bullying Strategy for One Child that Affected the Whole School

“I Am Not the Only One”

Part 1

In the autumn of 1974, in my first year as school principal, a kind and gentle fifth grader named Davion was having trouble with some of the other boys in the class. In particular, Jeremy was becoming increasingly intimidating. The teachers intervened anytime they saw an incident. Jeremy had already been sent to my office once, and the teachers were beginning to talk to me about him. We felt that bullying was going on, but saw very few punishable offenses.

One day, Davion’s mother—a kind, thoughtful, single parent —came to my office to complain about Jeremy. Continue reading

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Teaching Empathy at Home and School. Can Schools Teach Empathy?

Last week a parent asked,  “Can schools teach empathy?” Here’s my answer.

Empathy isn’t taught. The human brain is wired for empathy (mirror neurons). Adults shape an environment; that environment shapes the child’s empathy. So schools can’t not educate a child’s empathy. If they don’t do it well, they do it poorly. Continue reading

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