breaking news

Local artists to open home and bath store in downtown Springfield

PARENTING WITH DR. RAMEY: Unexpected benefits of tough times


A man in his late 30s stopped by my office unexpectedly and asked me the most terrifying question you can ask a child psychologist, “Do you remember me?”

I looked at his face and quickly tried to imagine what he looked like as a child. He finally gave me his name, and I remembered him immediately. As a young boy, he had a horrendous childhood, growing up in multiple foster homes. However, he came by to tell me how well he was doing, both professionally and personally.

I fear he is an exception. Adverse childhood experiences resonate throughout a person’s life, placing kids at risk for a variety of physical and mental problems. Hundreds of studies conducted over the past 40 years have come to the same conclusions. Bad childhoods have long-term effects.

More parenting with Dr. Ramey: Predicting our kids’ futures

While we’ve extensively studied the negative impact of early childhood stress, might those same bad events have some positive consequences? I’ve just read a fascinating article by Megan Hustad in Psychology Today on the “Surprising Benefits for Those Who Had Tough Childhoods.” Hustad argues that there are an increasing number of studies that have discovered that bad times have positive effects on some kids.

Youngsters experiencing significant childhood stress may exhibit improved problem solving, resiliency and greater cognitive flexibility. Forced by circumstances to deal with chaos, pain, and instability, some kids acquire valuable skills that serve them well throughout their adulthood.

No one is suggesting that we should raise kids in bad environments, but parents caring for kids in good homes can learn from this research.

DR. RAMEY: Demystifying kids’ mystifying behaviors

1. Allow your kids to feel pain and distress. I realize this goes against every parental instinct, but kids need to learn how to deal with feeling uncomfortable. This should occur at an early age, with parents viewing themselves more as coaches and teachers rather than protectors. If you allow your child to deal with low levels of stress at an early age, they are more equipped to deal with the tougher realities of their adolescent and adult years.

2. Teach problem-solving. It feels good to resolve a child’s dispute with a teacher, playmate or coach. We take care of the issue, and our child looks up to us but learns little about life.

More tips from Dr. Ramey: Smart phones, problem kids?

Bad things happen, some minor while others are catastrophic. Most of these events can’t be avoided. Doesn’t it make more sense to teach our kids how to manage these tough times rather than intervening to make their lives comfortable?

Take a look at the Hustad article. I hope it reassures you that intervening less today will better prepare your kids for tomorrow.

Next week: Caution! Grandparents may be a serious danger to your child’s health!



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in

How Dayton changed the Bombecks — and how the Bombecks changed Dayton
How Dayton changed the Bombecks — and how the Bombecks changed Dayton

Growing up in Dayton left an indelible imprint on Bill and Erma Bombeck – and they, in turn, now leave an enduring legacy in their hometown. Bill Bombeck died Jan. 12 in Phoenix, Ariz., and he soon will be buried alongside his wife in Dayton’s historic Woodland Cemetery. But the couple will live on in the hearts of many friends in the Dayton...
The Kid Whisperer: What to do about the child who cries, cries, cries

Dear Kid Whisperer, I’m curious about crying tantrums. We have a strong-willed 6-year old girl who cries about everything lately. She cries over us not buying a toy or what she eats for breakfast. I offer her a hug, tell her I am sad that she is sad and tell her that it’s too loud and we can’t hear each other. I am gentle and loving...
Parenting with Dr. Ramey: What’s dangerous about the Golden Rule

The Golden Rule advising that you should behave towards others as you’d like to be treated seems reasonable — but in fact, represents a dangerous and wrong way of thinking about the world. Lee Ross and his social psychology colleagues have called this blunder in thinking “naive realism.” Avoiding this error will make you a better...
D.L. STEWART: Real men wear short coats because being cold is cool

A letter writer to the chief fashion critic at The New York Times asked a question in last Tuesday’s edition. “My son is in college in Maine,” AMY, PELHAM, N.Y., wrote, “and the temperature is frequently below zero. It seems like every woman is swathed in an ankle-length black puffer coat from November to March. So why do men...
Coupon deals of the week
Coupon deals of the week

Coupon availability and coupon values may vary within different regions or neighborhoods. Irish Spring Body Wash This week at Rite-Aid, Irish Spring body wash is on sale for $3.99. In most of your Rite-Aid ad inserts, you should find a coupon for this product that will drop the price down to $1.99. Also, use the $1 off one Irish Spring body wash manufacturer...
More Stories