Dr. Mike, Our son is 7 years old and he and his friends love their Nerf guns and they especially love having Nerf gun battles in the neighborhood. This past Sunday one of the mom’s in our son’s friend group emailed the entire neighborhood listserv to ask that neighborhood children no longer be allowed to play with Nerf guns at the main public area or playground because she said “it promotes violence” and it’s “insensitive in the wake of the Florida school shooting.” I emailed her back to nicely let her know that I didn’t see a problem with Nerf gun [...]
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Do you find yourself in a marriage where you love your spouse, but privately and deep down inside, you don’t necessarily like him or her very much anymore? If you answered “yes” know that you are not alone. According to a study conducted by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, just shy of 60% of married couples reported being very happy in their marriage. That number dropped from 65% from just two years earlier. The study cites several factors contributing to marital unhappiness including, a sex life with diminishing returns, preoccupation with technology, and men taking their [...]
The iPhone is 10 years old this week, and it’s truly amazing how it (and smartphones in general) has revolutionized the way we function as a society and in so many positive ways — having instant access to information, increasing ways to communicate in real time, having multiple applications in the palm of your hand (e.g., a GPS system, a camera, etc.). But the rise of mobile devices over the past 10 years has curiously coincided with the rise of some concerning problems. Smartphone overuse can actually lead to problematic behaviors and symptoms that are consistent with substance use disorders or [...]
Lights, Camera…Suicide! Enter stage right, “13 Reasons Why” a new Netflix television series about a teenage girl (Hannah Baker) who commits suicide and then leaves behind seven double sided audio tapes for her friends and classmates to listen to. Each tape depicts the harmful events (e.g., sexual assault and rape) that occurred for Hannah that culminated in her tragic demise. Based off of Jay Asher’s 2007 novel of the same name, the show has earned praise from critics for tackling the difficult subject matter of teen suicide in such a raw, gritty and real sort of way. But “13 Reasons Why” [...]
In the 1984 movie The Karate Kid, a teenage boy becomes disheartened when his karate teacher has him doing chores to exhaustion day after day. Instead of teaching the boy fighting techniques for his upcoming competition, the master instructs the boy to paint his house and fence, sand his floors, and wax his many old cars. The boy listens to his teacher but eventually grows impatient and expresses strong negative feelings. When the master commands the boy to show him the moves the boy learned to complete the myriad of boring and laborious chores—sand the floor, wax on/wax off, paint the [...]
Several of my child and teen clients with High Functioning Autism or Asperger’s Disorder have struggled to understand and embrace President Trump. The disconnect has had less to do with political beliefs than it has with Trump’s communication style. Generally, individuals on the autistic spectrum have executive functioning weaknesses where they tend to see and understand things in rigid, black and white or all-or-nothing terms. Interpreting social cues or nuanced communication – verbal or non-verbal – can also be difficult for those on the spectrum. They are also inclined to take things literally, and ambiguous and figurative ideas or speech is harder for them to make [...]
Dear Dr. Mike: Our 15 year old son is out of control and we don’t know what to do anymore. He smokes pot and drinks, disobeys us left and right, is truant from school often, comes home whenever he wants to and screams at us when we try to correct him. He used to be an amazing kid and athlete, but he quit all sports and he’s no longer himself. We’ve tried therapy, but he refused to go. The crazy thing with all of this is that we have no idea why he changed. His problems started in freshman year of high school and have [...]
Oct. 31 marks the annual celebration of Halloween, but for some the dressing up as anonymous and often scary characters has taken on a new meaning. The fall has brought dozens of reports across America of “creepy clowns” disturbing the public, and Loudoun is not immune. In October alone, the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) reported two unsettling clown sightings. On Oct. 16 a juvenile reported that while running in a group along a trail at the intersection of Plymouth Pl. and Shellhorn Rd. in Ashburn, he observed a man leaning up against a tree who appeared to be sick. The report [...]
A Parable and Some Thoughts for a Happy New Year. One day in late summer, an old farmer was working in his field with his old sick horse. The farmer felt compassion for the horse and desired to lift its burden. So he left his horse loose to go the mountains and live out the rest of its life. Soon after, neighbors from the nearby village visited, offering their condolences and said, “What a shame. Now your only horse is gone. How unfortunate you are!” You must be very sad. How will you live, work the land, and prosper?” The farmer [...]
“Did you hear about the three kids that were killed last week by clowns?” and “Clowns are capturing children and dragging them into the woods” and “The police are looking for two clowns that were in the woods by my school’s playground” are just a few of the many comments my young clients have reported to me these past few weeks. And with Halloween just around the corner, it seems that the anxieties and concerns for many children (and parents) about creepy clowns is only increasing. As a child psychologist in private practice, I’ve witnessed the negative impact of creepy clowns on [...]