See Allegiant-Part1 Sensory Friendly Tomorrow Courtesy of AMC

AMC Entertainment (AMC) has expanded their Sensory Friendly Films program in partnership with the Autism Society!  This Tuesday evening, families affected by autism or other special needs have the opportunity to view a sensory friendly screening of Allegiant – Part I  from The Divergent Series, a film that may appeal to older audiences on the autism spectrum. 

New sensory friendly logoAs always, the movie auditoriums will have their lights turned up and the sound turned down. Families will be able to bring in snacks to match their child’s dietary needs (i.e. gluten-free, casein-free, etc.), there are no advertisements or previews before the movie and it’s totally acceptable to get up and dance, walk, shout, talk to each other…and even sing – in other words, AMC’s “Silence is Golden®” policy will not be enforced during movie screenings unless the safety of the audience is questioned.

Does it make a difference? Absolutely! Imagine …no need to shhhhh your child. No angry stares from other movie goers. Many parents think twice before bringing a child to a movie theater. Allegiant-Part1-posterAdd to that your child’s special needs and it can easily become cause for parental panic. But on this one day a month, for this one screening, everyone is there to relax and have a good time, everyone expects to be surrounded by kids – with and without special needs – and the movie theater policy becomes “Tolerance is Golden“.

AMC and the Autism Society will be showing the next movie in The Divergent Series: Allegiant – Part 1, tomorrow, Tuesday, March 22nd at 7pm (local time). Tickets are $4 to $6 depending on the location. To find a theatre near you, here is a list of AMC theatres nationwide participating in this fabulous program (note: to access full list, please scroll to the bottom of the page).

Coming in April:  Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice (Sat, 4/9 and Tues, 4/12), The Jungle Book (Sat, 4/23) and The Huntsman Winter’s War (Tues, 4/26)


Editor’s note: Although Allegiant – Part 1 has been chosen by the Autism Society for a Tuesday Sensory Friendly screening, we do want parents to know that it is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of America for intense violence and action, thematic elements, and some partial nudity. As always, please check the IMDB Parents Guide for a more detailed description of this film to determine if it is right for you and your child.

A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Immunizations – Part II

I will pick up where I left off in A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Immunizations – Part I and deal with some immunizations not yet mentioned (and I do apologize for the time lapse between these posts).

Baby girl gets vaccinatedMMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella [German Measles]) is a very good, effective vaccine used for many years without significant problems, regardless of the negative information that has appeared over the years to attempt to link this vaccine with a number of problems.  The supposed link between this vaccine and the development of certain neurologic disorders (e.g. autism) originated in an article appearing over 15 years ago in a British medical journal.  Multiple attempts to prove this information have shown no relationship as mentioned above. Not only was this a very poorly designed study but the very same journal was forced to retract the article and in fact the author was stripped of his license to practice medicine and severely punished. There have never been articles since then confirming the supposed association.

Measles is a highly contagious viral illness that has been responsible for wiping out entire populations of primitive and un-immunized people.  As with the other 2 diseases in this combination of vaccines in MMR, there can be very serious complications that can lead to prolonged and serious illnesses and even death.  Combining these three vaccines into one has been shown to be both safe and highly effective.  The side effects of the vaccine are mild and temporary.

Mumps is also highly contagious and can as with German Measles cause significant serious problems.

Varicella (Chicken Pox) has a preventative vaccine with few side effects and very good protective capability.  The disease has the potential to cause serious illness and may necessitate hospitalization. As with the vaccines mentioned so far, the low incidence of any problems is way less than contracting the disease.

Hepatitis A is an infectious disease of the liver (as with Hepatitis b mentioned in Part I) but is actually easier to contract than B and far more common. While Hepatitis B needs contact with blood or body fluids to possibly contract the disease, Hepatitis A also can be contracted through contact with stool, urine and saliva- all very prevalent in day care an nursery settings.  The vaccine is one of the very best that we have- very small incidence of very mild side effects, and very high degree of protection bordering on 90 to 95% in some studies.

Pneumococcus, (similar to the hib mentioned in Part I), is a bacteria that can cause serious disease in all ages.  In the past, there were a large number of deaths associated with contracting illness due to this bacteria- fortunately since the vaccine (pneumococcal) was introduced, this incidence has greatly diminished.

Just a few more vaccines:  

Meningococcal disease is responsible for death and/or disability in a large number of those contracting this disease.  It’s degree of infectivity rises to higher levels where there are large numbers of young people congregated such as in dormitories and therefore the vaccine is recommended as children get older and are preparing for college, or other situations of group activities (overnight camp, etc.)

HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) is an infectious disease transmitted through sexual activity and therefore the vaccine is recommended as children are entering puberty or before.  While this vaccine was initially directed at girls, it has become apparent that because this is a disease transmitted between the sexes, it is equally important to vaccinate boys also at about the same age.

Now that you are aware of the vaccines and the illnesses they protect against, and the safety and efficacy information, I hope you will have your child fully immunized when recommended by his/her Pediatrician. (Click here for the American Academy of Pediatrics 2016 Immunization Schedule). I have been practicing Pediatrics for almost 40 years and have had the unfortunate opportunity to see first-hand the ravages of some of these illnesses before immunizations were available to prevent them.  I then was overjoyed to watch the dramatic decrease in these deadly diseases after the introduction of appropriate vaccines. Research is always ongoing and I look forward with great anticipation to the further eradication of diseases that affect children worldwide.

If there are any other questions regarding immunizations or shots, please communicate these to me.

DistrACTION Cards: Because Kids Already Know Shots Hurt

robotcardsAs a pediatrician, I have a confession to make.  I’m ashamed to admit that in residency I was amused when kids ramped up the drama getting shots.  I’m not talking about a sadistic pleasure watching a 4 year old get poked repeatedly, I’m talking about an artistic appreciation of the wailing, screaming, and ninja-like thrashing performance when the nurse brought in the tray and….cleaned the child’s arm.  With cotton.  Gently.  Yep, it was hard not to restrain a snicker when you alerted the child that, far from being near death from pain, the procedure hadn’t started yet.  See?  Cotton.

As a pain researcher, I now know that fear dramatically increases pain perception.  Not only that, but focusing on the site where you expect pain naturally enhances your body’s perception of pain.  Just like focusing on bite of gourmet food enhances your perception of nuances of the flavor (“Oh, cilantro!”) focusing on a painful procedure enhances that pain to occupy your entire consciousness.  Not great if you don’t want pain.

Pain relief has become a major focus of medical professionals and children’s hospitals in recent years. While topical anesthetics have been around for decades, only 7% of pediatricians use methods to decrease the pain of needles.  Recent innovations to address pediatric pain have been introduced, in part due to the realization that needle fear has jumped from 25% to 63% of childrenNeedle Phobia slide2This 252% increase is theorized to result in part because there are five times more live-saving vaccines that are now routine, and the realization that some vaccines need to be given at older ages to work well.  Older age means kids remember the event, have greater cognitive powers to focus on the event, and thus can develop ongoing issues with needles when they experience vaccines as traumatic..

One physiologic way to deal with pain has been spotlighted here before, putting the cold and vibration unit Buzzy “between the brain and the pain”.  The body feels sensations of cold and massage, and has less bandwidth to perceive pain. The sensation can even be disrupted, just like cold running water eliminated the pain of a burned finger.  What I realized soon after developing Buzzy, however, was that a kid who is bound and determined to let you know how much they hate shots can feel pain from an alcohol swab.  For a highly anxious kid who hasn’t seen Buzzy before, the explanation of “how this is going to make it better” might even focus them more on the procedure. I realized I needed something to help the child who is already afraid…something to decrease the fear AND take the focus off the poke.

Fortunately, kids have amazing imaginations, and — Ooh, look at that! —are pretty easy to distract.  An easier, faster, and less expensive way to address pain and even boredom comes from the delightful curiosity kids have about new things, especially when they’re brightly colored. The very trait in kids that can be frustrating in long lines or car trips can actually be a huge advantage in managing pain.  In fact, some of the more traditional hospital distractions (blowing up a balloon, etc.) had been proven to decrease children’s distress with medical procedures consistently by about 50%… But for this situation – for the child walking in terrified – we needed something more…but what? And thus, the DistrACTION cards were born….

Pain Fear and FocusWhat we’d learned was that controlling pain wasn’t enough for anyone  – Fear, Focus on the procedure, and Pain all contribute to the experience.

To optimally pull a child’s attention away from a painful procedure, Child Life therapists use a variety of techniques, from blowing out (pinwheels, balloons, deep breathing) to visual distractions, both passive (videos) and active (Where’s Waldo??).  Pulling from the distraction pain literature, I distilled the elements that seemed to be most helpful.  In a stressful situation, too much difficulty (math problems) can be counterproductive.  This is why “Where’s Waldo”, while a good active distraction, is actually less effective for most medical situations: he’s just too hard to find.  The concept, though, is useful – visual active tasks like finding work well.  Adding rote elements like counting can be good, but it depends on how hard it is to find something. “How many of something can you find” can be too easy if they’re right there – you could stop after one.  “Find 6 of something”, however, is a concrete task which adds visual input to the cognitive task and gives the comfort of rote familiarity. The trick is distracting effectively for the right situation, giving just the right amount of challenge with the comforting ritual of counting.  It’s that simple.

purple cowDistrACTION cards have 10 questions on the back of each one, stratified by age groups.

They include questions that require simple finding for younger kids (Where is a purple cow?) with some questions that only adults could get (Can you find all the suits in a deck of cards?)  Classic counting, how many cows?, was found to be too easy for older kids, so questions add difficulty by asking “How many cows are wearing a costume?”)

After creating the DistrACTION® Cards for medical procedures, investigators around the world started testing them.

  1. First, Buzzy plus Distraction was tested for IV access in Turkey. Used correctly, Buzzy Bees on hospital bed during IVdecreases needle pain 50-80%, and has been highlighted in Phlebotomy Today as a way to help draw blood in anxious patients. When DistrACTION is added, both together reduce pain from IV insertion 88%.
  2. Investigators then started evaluating the DistrACTION cards alone. In the first study, pain was reduced 50% with the “Monkeys” set of cards alone; even cooler, 97% of kids said the procedure was better than previous times they’d had blood drawn.
  3. Subsequent studies comparing other Child Life techniques found that DistrACTION cards decreased pain more than playing with a kaleidoscope; another study found the cards more effective than blowing a balloon, or playing a singing cartoon game.

The DistrACTION cards have now been clinically proven in three studies to be even better than other distractors in hospitals

Beyond pain management though, we found a terrific secondary benefit When you can distract a child well enough to reduce pain in an unfamiliar environment, adding DistrACTION cBoredom busterards to a situation that is “merely boring” is extremely effective.  From a 2 hour junior high concert recital to (one emergency nurse admitted) sitting through Mass, the cards have been extremely helpful for everyday behavior support.  They’re waterproof, so they even work on the beach. No batteries, no screens – who knew?

I think the coolest thing for me has been that now, I get amused when a child seems very anxious, starts to ramp up the drama… and then is told “It’s already done!”  As kids learn how distraction helps them deal with their own pain, the lesson sticks, even when there are no cards around.  At a recent doctor visit for HPV vaccination, my older son said “Wait!  You don’t have DistrACTION cards?  Ok, ok, no problem…” he looked around the room and found red, blue and yellow speckles on the tile floor.” “No problem.  When I need the shot, I’m counting confetti!” When he didn’t even flinch with the poke he was almost as proud of himself as I was!


  1. Distraction is an extremely effective parenting technique for multiple situations  quite apart from pain management.  Trouble starts brewing when children get bored, but a child who learns how to entertain themselves will have that skill their whole lives.
    • It’s critical to not depend on a battery powered source for distraction – whether it’s a small book, Distraction cards, or a small pot of play-dough, props help  avert a boredom-induced meltdown.  Once you learn the level of difficulty that keeps a kid engaged, the world around becomes a perfectly good distraction.  “OK, I spy with my little eye…”
    • YOU are the best distraction for your child.  While older kids can ask each other questions or read the questions on the back of the cards themselves, human interaction keeps a distraction interesting.
  2. For injections and medical procedures, there’s a difference between offering distraction and forcing a kid not to watch.  Let the 20% of kids who prefer to view the procedure do so – it may be it’s own distraction for them, or a way for them to feel in control of the situation so they’re less afraid.

Talking to Your Child About Their Autism

My friend motherDr Glòria Durà-Vilà is a consultant child and adolescent psychiatrist with a clinical interest in autism. She is the author of My Autism Book, a new illustrated book that explains to children what an autism diagnosis means.

In her work as a child psychiatrist with Surrey and Borders NHS Trust, Dr Glòria Durà-Vilà meets many parents in her clinic who struggle with telling their child about their autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosis. “Many children who arrive in my clinical practice don’t know about their diagnosis of ASD because their parents didn’t know how to explain it and were worried it could upset them,” she says.

Glòria found that this lack of communication often led to upsetting situations. For example, one child found out about his diagnosis when he read the word “autistic” next to his name on a class list at school, while another, already a teenager, had no idea that his problems with making friends were caused by his autism, believing instead that it was because he was “ugly”.

These instances and many others inspired Glòria to write My Autism Book. She teamed up with illustrator Tamar Levi to create a picture book designed to help parents to have those conversations at home.

“Our book explains what an autism diagnosis means and encourages an exploration of the child’s strengths and differences in a tone that speaks directly to the child,” she explains. “We wanted the pictures to show how the world looks from the child’s perspective. So, for example, we avoided using facial expressions, as these are often confusing to children with autism.

“It doesn’t have to be read all at once and can be revisited at any time.”

The Benefits of Telling your Child about their ASD

Knowing about their diagnosis can help a child to explain the differences they may have noticed between themselves and other children, and shed light on the difficulties they are facing. These differences can have a negative impact on their self-esteem and the way they perceive themselves if they are left unaddressed.

“Children whom I have diagnosed with ASD have told me about the positives of knowing what their condition was. I even had a card from a teenager I diagnosed who thanked me because he now ‘liked himself more’, as he now knew why at times he didn’t fit in,” says Glòria.

Sometimes parents ask Glòria if she can tell their child about the diagnosis, but she feels that as they are the ones who the know their child best, they can provide a loving and safe space to deliver this message. “A child will be much more receptive to their parents talking to them at home, rather than hearing it from a professional,” she says.

No one size fits all. In some cases of autism, a child’s ability to communicate or understand can be significantly impaired, in which case they will have different needs, starting with finding the right educational environment to help them reach their potential.

“I have met amazing parents of children with these difficulties who found creative ways to communicate – such as one mother who communicates with her child through different types of caress, rather than words or gestures,” says Glòria. “I was struck by how these parents accepted their children’s problems and enjoyed their uniqueness, celebrating each one of their achievements, no matter how small.”

Your Emotions as a Parent

“Many parents react with relief on hearing the diagnosis, as they were the ones who initiated the assessment process and realised they ‘always knew’ but felt that the diagnosis and learning about the condition helped them to understand their child better. However, others initially react with disbelief or sadness,” says Glòria.

“I often tell these parents that their child is still the same special boy or girl whom they love, and that a diagnosis of ASD is just an explanation for the difficulties they are having and a step towards finding the right help they need,” she says. Many parents ask whether their child’s ASD was in any way their fault. “For example, although the claim that the MMR vaccine could cause autism has been widely discredited, I still have parents attributing their child’s autism to this vaccine and blaming themselves for allowing their child to have it,” says Glòria. “I try to explain that it is a neurodevelopmental condition that isn’t anyone’s fault.”

Glòria encourages parents to concentrate on finding services and voluntary organisations that will help their child to thrive. The National Autistic Society (or The Autism Society in the US*) has advice and information about living with autism, including some of the benefits and services available to people with autism and their parents and carers.

Glòria’s Tips for Talking about ASD

  • Choose a time when your child is at their most calm and receptive.
  • Pick a space with few distractions.
  • Return to any questions your child may have already asked while they were being assessed, and use these as cues to start the conversation.
  • Make sure any information you give them is right for their age so they can understand what is being explained to them. For example, My Autism Book is tailored to the needs and experiences of the child with ASD aged five years old and upwards.

You may also like to read parent Deborah French’s account of raising her son Henry, who has ASD.

Further Information

Editor’s Note: *clarification provided for our US readers.


Child Health & Safety News Roundup: 03-07-2016 to 03-13-2016

twitter thumbIn this week’s Children’s Safety News: Yik Yak Introduces Screen Names To Curb Anonymous Trolling

Welcome to Pediatric Safety’s weekly “Child Health & Safety News Roundup”- a recap of the past week’s child health and safety news headlines from around the world. Each day we use Twitter and Facebook to communicate relevant and timely health and safety information to the parents, medical professionals and other caregivers who follow us. Occasionally we may miss something, but we think overall we’re doing a pretty good job of keeping you informed. But for our friends and colleagues not on Twitter or FB (or who are but may have missed something), we offer you a recap of the past week’s top 15 events & stories.

PedSafe Child Health & Safety Headline of the Week:
The Bully on the Sidelines  6 bullies frequently found in kid’s sports
Parents set the example – kids learn what we teach

Teen Narcissism is Worse: Is Social Networking The Cause?

Teen Narcissism Is Increasing – But Just What is Narcissism?

facebook focusedA growing number of researchers are finding a link between social media web-sites and anti-social narcissistic behavior among certain users. So we can be on the same page as the researchers,  narcissism is defined as “self-centered, arrogant, and entitled.”

It’s not just attention-getting or wanting to be liked, but a “pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration—an exaggerated sense of self-importance where the person believes they are special and require excessive admiration from others.”

The phrase, “so-and so is such a narcissist,” is often used in our culture and generally means just a self-centered person. But there is a clear difference when narcissism rises to the level of being a true psychological problem.

The worry is that too hefty a dose of narcissism and an unhealthy overriding belief and exaggerated view that “I’m better than all” can turn into a personality disorder robbing a person’s psychological and emotional well being. So there are two big dangers for our children:

  • First, the narcissist generally has an inability to form healthy, long-term relationships because narcissists  are so focused on themselves.
  • Second is that narcissism diminishes and even shuts down a person’s capacity to empathize or feel for others.

That last danger is the crux of why many child development expert and parents alike are on edge and it’s why I’m very concerned. A landmark report released by Common Sense Media in November of 2015 found that “teenagers (ages 13-18) use an average of nine hours of entertainment media per day and that tweens (ages 8-12) use an average of six hours a day, not including time spent using media for school or homework”. And let’s be real, it’s a rare parent who wants a kid who feels entitled (I’ve yet to find one anyway). It’s why we all –parents, mental health professions, educators, and medical professions–need to dig deeper and review these results carefully and then take an honest look at our children’s needs. Here are facts you need to know:

Study Ties Social Networking to Narcissism…Or Does It?

One study, published by Mary Ann Liebert suggested a link between narcissism and (in this case the social network) Facebook. The researcher concluded that Facebook users with narcissistic behaviors could be clearly identified by contents on their Facebook pages.  The research received quite a buzz in the news.  Here was my take:

While it was an interesting study and worth discussing, more data was needed before drawing conclusions. The research used in the analysis was only a small sample size  (only 100 students were involved), all students were from the same university, and the researcher herself compiled the ratings so results could be biased.

But the results came on the tail of two previous studies that also found a connection between narcissistic behavior and social media and those results should clearly raise our parenting radar.

Study#1: College Students Agree their Generation Is More Self-Centered

Jean Twenge, an associate professor of psychology from San Diego State University and author of Generation Me, conducted fascinating research about kids’ narcissistic behaviors both on and off line. Tracking over 37,000 college students’ personality profiles, Twenge found a most troubling trend.

REALITY CHECK: Young people’s narcissistic personality traits are steadily rising from the 1980s to the present. By 2006, one out of four college students agreed with the majority of the items on a standard measure of narcissistic traits; in 1985 that number was only one in seven.

Twenge’s national survey of 1068 college students also had interesting results. Results found:

REALITY CHECK: 57 percent of college students admitting that social networking makes them more narcissistic and that their peers used social networking sites for self-promotion, narcissism and attention-seeking.

What’s more, over two-thirds of those adolescents surveyed said their generation was “more self-promoting, narcissistic, overconfident and attention-seeking” than others in the past.

Study #2: College Students Are Less Empathic Than Previous Generations

Twenge’s results come on the tails of yet another troubling report. A University of Michigan study of 14000 college students found these results:

REALITY CHECK: College students today show 40 percent less empathy toward others than college students in 1980s and 1990s The researcher hypothesized that because there are fewer face-to face interactions (largely due to the rise of net connection) empathy is also declining.

Put all of those studies together. Results from three large scale, longitudinal studies lead by major researchers at major universities found a decrease in kids’ empathy and an increase in narcissistic, self-centered-like behavior. Now it is time to be concerned…very concerned.

Don’t Put the Blame All On Social Networking….Just Yet

If there is a growing narcissistic streak among teens and young adults, let’s not put ALL the blame on social networking sites. (Note: As of 4th quarter 2015, there were over 1.5 billion monthly active Facebook users and not all are narcissists – or at least I hope not.  This number does not include Periscope users, Instagram users, Snapchat users, etc.).  What a social network DOES provide is a great place for a teen who feels a bit more entitled to draw attention to himself, self-promote, and show the world just how great he is.

So let’s not put all the blame on social networks for how our kids are turning out. In that regard, I fear we have only ourselves to blame.

Trendy girl make a selfieThe more probable causes to the dawn of the “Self-Annointed Kid” is a parental style that pushes too much entitlement, too many trophies too soon, too much “ME-ME-ME”, too much “center stage” and not enough good ‘ol “NOs” and focusing on “THEM.”

Researchers also point out that a celebrity saturated culture that emphasizes the rich and famous, is another culprit along with the breakdown of face-to-face connection, and a society that seems too often to be under-stressing those good old home-spun virtues like kindness, cooperation and helpfulness.

So what’s a parent to do? What do you do if you think you are the proud owner of a budding little narcissistic–or at least a kid who feels entitled-on your hands?

Your first step is to recognize the problem.

Your second step is to use research-based parenting solutions to curb your child’s self-centeredness, and do so pronto.

Tell-Tale Signs of a Budding Kid Narcissist

Researchers say there are a few indicators that could indicate narcissism in youth who are social networking.

Keep in mind, it’s not one sign but a combination of behaviors your should watch for in your teen. You should see these same narcissistic behaviors both off screen as well as on. Here are ways to start observing:

  • Be Where Your Teen Is. Your first step is to make sure you have an account on the same social networks as your teen and that you have befriended him or her so you can follow your teen’s presence. You do NOT have to post on your teen’s account (usually a HUGE turn off, but you do have to be where your teen is online so you can monitor your teen’s presence.
    This isn’t spying (get over it!), this is parental monitoring. You announce ahead to your teen that you will be monitoring. It’s part of being a parent. See the Internet as virtual extension of your child’s playground. You monitored there, right? So monitor your teen online!
  • View Online Presence Together. A great exercise to do with your teen is to view his or her online presence together. Ask: “What does this say about you to someone else who may not know you?” “Why did you choose that photo?” etc. Don’t be judgmental (you’ll get nowhere) but just inquisitive. It might be a great eye-opener.

4 Possible Signs of Teen Narcissism 

  1. All About Me: Tune into your teen’s primary motive for using a social network. Is it primarily for connection to be with others or a place to self-promote? Young narcissists are all self-promoting and not to use their social networks as an opportunity to commiserate with peers.
  2. Read and listen to those pronouns: Is the teen using those “Me, I and My” pronouns so every entry is about how “I’m doing” and rarely about “What are you up to?” Does she always refer to herself and her needs and delete the other population? (Teens are egocentric so expect some Me-Me-Me verbiage. Be concerned when it’s exclusively Me-Me-Me and little Her-Him-Them.”
  3. Self Promotion: Narcissists are more likely to choose glamorous, self-promoting pictures for their main profile photos, while those who are not so inclined are more likely to use simple snapshots. But also check your teen’s offline presence. Look at those screen-savers and ask yourself what they tell about your teen.
  4. Competition: Researchers say a key sign is the teen who constantly (multiple times daily) checks into the network to count his FB friends and then announces that number. The studies found that the more teens checked in and the more they announced their FB friends the higher the narcissism. But off-line is your kid doing the same (checking or comparing her abilities verses others).

Countering the Teen Narcissism Epidemic

If you suspect your child is a budding little narcissist, the cure isn’t pulling their social media accounts. Chances are high that your teen earned that “entitlement” image before logging onto a social network. Center your parenting efforts on these strategies instead:

  • Refocus Your Praise Temper those oohs and ahhs that focus only on your kid. Watch out for lavish sugar-coated, undeserved praise and giving out a trophy for every little thing.
    Instead stress your child’s inside qualities like kindness, cooperation and reinforce “selfless” acts so your child starts to become aware of the rights, feelings, and needs of others. Sigh!
  • Lower the Curtain Ask yourself if you always single out your teen’s performance in a group activity over the other participants. If so, watch your focus and start emphasizing your teen’s teammates.
  • Teen Girl Helps the HomelessNurture Empathy Narcissistic, entitled kids shut down their capacity to understand where other people are coming. Because they only focus on “ME,” it’s hard to put themselves into someone else’s shoes and feel how they feel. So nurture your teen’s empathy. Point out other people’s feelings. Ask, “How does the other person feel?” The best antidote for selfishness and entitlement is to boost empathy.
  • Boost Face-to-Face Interaction Boost face to face interaction opportunities to help him see beyond himself. Help him focus on the views of others. You don’t learn empathy by facing a screen. Keep in mind that this is the generation who prefers to text than talk and all that screen time doesn”t develop those key skills for emotional intelligence, social competence, empathy and moral development. Set up sacred “unplugged” family times. Hold family dinners! And grab those cell phones and put them on hold during key times your family is together.

The best way to learn benevolence and selflessness is not lecturing about it but providing kids with real opportunities to do for others. So find ways your family – and particularly your teen – can do community service and emphasize others not themselves: Work at a shelter. Deliver gently-used possessions to charity. Pitch in to help the elderly neighbor rake her leaves. Find real and meaningful opportunities tailored to your child’s passions!

The real parenting goal is for our children to learn one wonderful life lesson: Doing good for others is one of the greatest ways to feel good about who you are as a person. And doing good for others is also has a hidden benefit: it’s one of the simplest and best ways to boost happiness.

Resources for this report:

  • Ypulse survey of 1068 college students was done with Jean Twenge, associate professor of psychology at San Diego State when asked about narcissism in a poll on social networking sites in June by Ypulse, August 2009.
  • University of Michigan study culled 72 studies that gauged empathy among 14,000 students over 30 years. They found college students today have 40% less empathy than students in the 1980s and 1990s. The researcher suggested its because there are fewer face-to face interactions. “Empathy is best activated when you can see another person signal for help.”

***************************************************************************************************************Borba - book cover -parentingsolutions140x180

Dr Borba’s book The Big Book of Parenting Solutions: 101 Answers to Your Everyday Challenges and Wildest Worries, is one of the most comprehensive parenting book for kids 3 to 13. This down-to-earth guide offers advice for dealing with children’s difficult behavior and hot button issues including biting, tantrums, cheating, bad friends, inappropriate clothing, sex, drugs, peer pressure and much more. Each of the 101 challenging parenting issues includes specific step-by-step solutions and practical advice that is age appropriate based on the latest research . The Big Book of Parenting Solutions is available at