. . . and it's not their genes either. – Dr. C

Posts tagged ‘toxic’

Children’s Temperament Traits: STARS

Star Shape

Do Your Own Thing

The STAR child stands alone in the lifelong quest for adventure and freedom. Not the simple freedom of choice, for that would only tease this youngster. The STAR chooses to act on a whim, to spend the most recent impulse, to revel in spontaneity in order to achieve their unique sense of self-esteem. “Do your own thing” is a command, not an option, for the fun-first STAR.

STAR children are fine-tuned to their senses and inner workings of their bodies.  They seek pleasure through sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell. They can be “good-eaters,” as they expend an enormous amount of energy in a day. They enjoy textures, colors, and tones as they seek to play and manipulate them. Like no other shapes, STARS are at their best as they go about flipping, jumping, and hopping through space looking for opportunities to play. They enjoy these activities even more if others are watching.

STARS can be burgeoning brain surgeons or high wire acrobats or Generals or gamblers or dancers or glass blowers or Wall Street investors – or presidents. About a third of our presidents have been STARS, from both sides of the political spectrum, including Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy. (You can read more about presidential temperaments at: http://keirsey.com/presidents.aspx.)

STARS may throw themselves completely into today’s activity, only to lose interest the next. Maybe something else caught their eye, maybe not, frustrating parents and supervisors of these youngsters. Adults often make a mistake when they insist the STAR “re-ignite” their lost interest. Impulses are, well, impulsive, not to be “prodded” by even the most caring – or authoritative – adults. Especially authoritative adults.

The most physically expressive of the four shapes, most STARS love a challenge. Tell them you bet they can’t climb that tree over there, and watch them sprint to be the first to try. Unlike the SPHERE, who avoids competition, for the majority of STARS, competition is their life-blood. Winning and losing – the game or the job – and the excitement of the contest creates motivation in the STAR.  This is a key to effective education, training and counseling – and parenting too.

STAR children can be charming and are usually well liked by their peers. They are fiercely loyal, and expect the same. They desire an “I scratch your back, you scratch mine” relationship with friends – and adults too — when they can find it. In the company of other STAR friends each tends to encourage the other’s nature, with the consequences of their behavior receding into the background as excitement increases.

While we all experience to some degree the SQUARES need for belonging, the SPHERE’S search for authenticity, and the CUBE’S yearning for competency, action without forethought or purpose – action for action’s sake – is usually to be avoided. Social conventions require preparation, practice, and storage of impulses “until the proper time,” something the STAR finds wholly unsatisfactory.

STARS can be difficult to manage, if the goal is simply to manage them. As a result, the STAR is a constant source of frustration for child managers and parents as traditional means of intervention have little effect, other than confinement or exclusion, for the freedom-seeking STAR.

If the SQUARE is the “rule-maker” then the STAR by contrast is the “rule-breaker.” Even though directives may eventually be followed, it won’t be without many arguments and confrontations. Parents, teachers, and counselors of all kinds will say, “these kids take up most of my time!

There are numerous directives and re-directives given, even for daily routines. Too often, compliance becomes secondary to supervising adults. Whether the task is completed or not, the STAR tends to be confronted, but not for his performance. More often than not adults will state: “His attitude is the problem!

These youngsters may be especially adept at recess, athletics, art, music, manipulating tools, crafts, and any activity that allows for unrehearsed movement. As adults, these children gravitate to professions encouraging spontaneous action. Whether it’s hours on the basketball court or at the piano, the STAR is engaged in an activity. If they happen to become very good at the activity, even better. That’s a second or third goal, if at all. Spending the impulse, at the moment, is the goal. Moreover, once the impulse is spent it is spent, not to be “stimulated” by others’ insistance – or threats.

The STAR child needs a stage, and an audience to show their talents. Whether a one-person audience or a thousand, abilities are on display in need of applause and applause and applause. The STAR seeks recognition for their unique artistic skills, and unless others notice, they will seek an “audience” in other ways. For the shame filled STAR, if applause is not forthcoming, scorn from their supervisors will do.

STARS IN SCHOOL
School can be a place where a handful of STARS can shine. Young athletes, musicians, and dancers can find a way to express their energy in organized school activities.  They are routinely “on stage,” their talents on display for everyone to see. Regrettably, for the non-athlete, musician or dancer, there is little at school to hold their attention. This is a matter of poor teaching skills, not “poor learning skills,” as modern educators have little understanding how STARS learn. Instead, STARS are constantly told to “sit still, keep your eyes forward, and do your work!” Frustrated educators and psychologists will officially declare the STAR as “educationally handicapped,” in need of special education.

STAR children are, regrettably, relentlessly given stimulants by ill-informed medics for ADD, ADHD, Conduct Disorder, and other false diseases, generally a result of being tagged as “inattentive” by the frustrated teacher. In fact, the STAR is stimulated by many activities. They simply “attend” to whatever catches their interest at the moment. If the teacher or schoolwork is not doing the trick, it could be the ruckus in the schoolyard, the birds flying outside, or the pigtails of the girl in front of him.

Rather than “inattentive,” just the opposite is true for many STARS. Place a STAR in a room with something they like to manipulate, and see how focused their attention becomes. Whether alone with the flute, or with a coach at the gymnasium, or with a group in a dance studio – or concentrating for hours at a time at their game console – the STAR can focus like few others can.

The STAR is pegged as “inattentive” in as much as “he doesn’t stay on task,” so say their teachers, therapists, and counselors. From the view of the STAR, tasks are to be avoided in direct relation to the amount of boredom and drudgery that accompanies them. Structure and routine, intended to be a source of safety and security for children, are the very attributes from which the STAR flees.

All children get bored, no doubt. However, boredom is as unbearable to the STAR as sorrow is to the SQUARE, self-doubt is to the CUBE, and detachment is to the CIRCLE. Note that the latter three – sorrow, self-doubt, detachment – will often find a sympathetic ear from concerned adults. After all, we often commiserate with children who are too sad, too insecure, and too alone. Not so with boredom. Adults have little patience with boredom, most often coming up with a “find something to do!” or “do it anyway!” solution.

When their life-impulse is suppressed by design or necessity over time, and a crisis of esteem is apparent, like all four shapes, behavior changes from productive to protective. The primary means with which the STAR attempts to protect themselves from the lost excitement they yearn is through retribution. Now the attempt is to “even the score” with those people thought to be responsible for their lost impulses, to “pay back” in harmful ways by desecrating themselves, or others.

All rules and norms, even if previously complied with, can come into question. Adults may refer to them as a “hot head,” seemingly defiant and disruptive for no visible purpose. The purpose, of course, is to again find the lost excitement they seek, even if the cost is the many real or threatened consequences that forever follow these children.

The frustrations, admonishments, worry, and reprimands offered by others in order to “make sure he doesn’t get away with it” have almost no effect in stopping unwanted behaviors. Too often the adults spend an enormous amount of energy devising strategies to stop behaviors, and is a joyous source of fun and excitement to this natural “resistor.”

SUMMARY
Illogical restrictions, punishments, long-term consequences, threats, and traditional therapeutic means often have little effect. Continued failure by professionals will have them assert, “before we can help him, he has to help himself,” thus formally relegating responsibility for failure to their student. Nonetheless, the STAR child can take satisfaction in accomplishing their goal of frustrating the best efforts of those responsible to care for them.

Action is their master” states Keirsey, and the insightful practitioner uses this natural performers talents as a means to offer change. Not a saver like the SQUARE, the STAR is the spender: of impulses, time, money, and excitement.

Like no other child, encouragement of new or present behaviors, with tangible and immediate rewards, insuring they “spend” in appropriate ways, is more likely to aid these young artisans in the pursuit of their special road to self-esteem.

DISLIKES/COMPLAINS ABOUT
• Following the rules • Saving: time, money, impulses • Restrictions
• Others “making me do x!” • Boredom/ennui • Repetition and routine
• Work first, then play  • “Get in line” • “Wait your turn”   • “Do as I say”

PROTECTIVE BEHAVIORS
• “Getting even” • Defames and devalues others • Impulsivity
• Addictive behavior • Narcissism • Poor school performance
• “Anti-social” •  “Chip on shoulder” • “Cocky”
•  Aggressive • Pain-resistant • “Can’t sit still”

ENJOYS
• Freedom •  Activities/action • Variety
• Living for the moment  • The physical world • Nature lovers
• Excitement • Pay-off (“what do I get”) • Being different/rebel
• Spending: time, money, impulses • “Showing off”
• Working with tools, instruments, art and crafts, athletics, music

CHILD MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES

• Logical consequences (for a stipulated time period) • Blackmail
• Rehearsal • Bribery • Vacuum
• Defusing • Distraction • Decommercializing

• Psychodrama • Gestalt • Symbolic Projection

• Music/Art Therapy • Reality Therapy • Relaxation techniques

• Strict behavior-modification (i.e., reward good behavior and ignore poor behavior)

Encouraging a STAR to do something (action), rather than NOT to do something (inaction) is a key to success for insightful parents and practitioners.

 

 

 

 

Note from the Lone Arranger: About “The Horrible Kid”


Lone Ranger JPEG

For a number of personal and professional reasons, I’ve been away from my blog for much too long.  I’ve heard from a few of you, wondering if I was going to finish “The Horrible Kid.”  I did.  It’s  longer than the other chapters however, I wanted to finish the story.   Thank you for your patience, and your interest.

For now, to follow directly after this post, please see “THE HORRIBLE KID – Chapter IV:  A tale from the Lone Arranger.”  Thanks.

Dr. C

YKAS 3: Culture of Chemicals

We are addicted to our chemicals, you and me, and that’s a problem.  Not just for you or me.  It’s a problem for our kids.  Equipped from birth to imitate us, what do we show them?

Got a headache?  Grab an aspirin or an ibuprofen, or something else for pain.  We have many choices.  Seems harmless enough.  And it is – most of the time.  After all, they sell “baby aspirins” for babies.  They seem to work too, if given properly, and not too much.  Makes sense.  A headache isn’t, really, behavior.  The chemical we take works on our physical body, right?

Sometimes, though, when we’re too tense, or there’s too much stress in our life at the moment, a headache – or a backache, or a soreness somewhere else in your body – can occur.  We say it’s “stress-related.”  That’s what our doctors, friends and family members will tell us.  Even in the modern world, stress and tension affects all of us.  You too?

We’ve found out, over time, that some kind of sedative – a Xanax or two – will give us relief – and if we plan on it, we probably won’t need an aspirin for pain.  Pain relief is important, of course.  Relief allows us to get on with the day, minus the headache, backache, or soreness.  It’s something going on in human tissue – maybe our blood vessels are “constricted,” maybe our muscles are “tense,” or maybe we just need to calm down.  Anyway, it doesn’t matter.  The pill seems to help.

Maybe you know someone who’s been in a funk for a while.  You’re informed.  Why not give a friend a Valium if you think it will help her?  After all, why suffer the “symptoms” of this “disease” when relief is a pill away?  No need to go to a doctor, except for that damn prescription.  You know your friend is depressed.  You know her story.  She needs a “boost” to get over the funk.  It’s obvious.

Or, instead of sharing your chemicals, you provide your own diagnosis, and you make a referral.

“Bob, you’re bi-polar.  Maybe you need some medication.  It’s really helped me.  Please call my doctor.”

Bob does.  The psychiatrist provides the right diagnosis within the first ten minutes, he suggests a chemical, and Bob agrees.  Bob says he finds comfort in that pill. He becomes convinced he has a “chemical imbalance” of some kind, and the fix is in.

Not only is Bob relieved of his symptoms, he is now among the informed, and an advocate.  Why wouldn’t he be?  By the way, Bob’s doctor has a host of chemicals to “treat” bi-polar disorder.  There are 52 to choose from, including Zyprexa, Zoloft, Wellburtrin, Tegretol, Seroquel, Risperdal, Lexapro, Geodon, Effexor, Depakote, Abilify – and 41 others.  (See the rest here)

Maybe you had a recent tragedy you can’t seem to get over.  There’s relief for you at the drug store too.  Oddly enough, if one of your problems is abusing an illegal chemical, you can find a legal chemical to help you shake your chemical addiction.

There are chemicals, we are told by our doctors, for anxiety, depression, too much activity, or not enough activity.  There are mood elevators, mood depressants, and chemicals for hallucinations.  You can get a chemical to help with bedwetting, obsessing or compulsing too much, as well as lack of hunger or too much hunger.  Chemicals are sold to help you sleep, to mute your aggression, or to help you with social isolation.

And, ladies, there’s more to come, though you’ll have to have a “disease” if you want the chemical.  Big Pharma companies are sprinting as fast as they can to be the first to offer a chemical to “treat” the recently created new “disease”:  Sexual Interest/Arousal Disorder in Women.  (Don’t believe it?  Check it out here.)

It’s the race to develop “female Viagara,” and Big Pharma is drooling.

The prize goes to the first one to get approval by the FDA.  It will be worth billions worldwide, and it’s a business response to customer demand.  After all, if men can have Viagara, why can’t women have something too?  You will.  I’m confident you’ll have many choices from which to choose.  “Love Potion #9” seems like it might be a good name – and a big seller.  Look for the ads.

For some convoluted but alarmingly convincing reasons, we have, in the past 25 years in particular, gotten accustomed to going to a medical doctor for help for behavioral problems, as if difficult behavioral problems are medical in nature.  They are not, but it really doesn’t matter.  There is relief found in those chemicals.  Even when there isn’t, at least you’re “in treatment.”  You have an imbalance of some kind, and you feel better taking your chemicals.

Psychiatrists are more than willing to help, of course.  There’s no pretense anymore.  You see a psychiatrist, and a psychiatrist sees you, to prescribe you a chemical to relieve your discomfort.  You go to someone else for therapy.  More than that, you soon become a disciple, adept at diagnosing and prescribing all at the same time.

The chemicals seem to work so well, we reason, we should give them to our children.  After all, we give them chemicals for the flu or asthma, why not for their “disorders.”  And it’s on the rise.  The use of chemicals to address these false “diseases” has risen four fold in 20 years.  No cures, mind you.  Just lots of “diseases,” and lots and lots of chemicals.

You may have to lower your expectations too, just a little bit.  Many believe children with these “diseases” are “handicapped” or “disabled.”  Maybe you believe it’s true too.

It isn’t, of course.  It’s nonsense.  Your kids aren’t sick.

Selling chemicals is a business. You, me – and our kids – are customers.

NEXT YKAS ESSAY:  The Business of Selling Chemicals

(NOTE:  I recently published an article I wrote back in 1988.  It was about the growing chemical culture nearly a quarter century ago.  It’s eerily relevant.  When you can, please see The Era of Chemicals – Redux.   – RC)

YKAS 1: Let’s Get Acquainted

This is a blog about psychiatry and the chemicals they sell to us to drug our kids.  It’s also a blog about temperaments and children, and ways to help parents.  I’ll have something to say about both as we go.  You may be surprised to learn the kind of chemicals we give to children has a lot to do with their temperament.

I’ll be writing about psychiatry as it’s currently practiced by most psychiatrists.  This will include the universities they graduate from – lets call them Academia – and the large pharmaceutical companies you buy your chemicals from – affectionately known on Wall Street as “Big Pharma.”

I’ll introduce you to some courageous professionals who have dedicated their careers, often to their detriment, to fiercely challenge our cultural belief that unwelcome behavior is evidence of a psychological disease.  Along the way, you’ll meet some courageous individuals who collectively refer to themselves as “psychiatric survivors.”

You’ll learn that psychiatric theory is nothing like the Big Bang Theory or The Theory of Evolution – and both have their own controversies – or any other scientific theory.  That’s because psychiatry isn’t science.

The Medical Model was developed for medical doctors to find treatment for illnesses of the body – flesh and bone – and psychiatry was not included.  Yet, psychiatry managed to nudge its way in, despite being an unwelcome addition to medicine.  Why unwelcome?  Because most doctors at the time didn’t think human behavior had anything to do with human medicine.  Neither do I, and neither does a growing number of professionals and lay people alike.  You’ll be hearing more from them too.  (You can read more about the Medical Model here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medical_model)

Did you know there was a time when Insulin Shock Therapy (IST) was the “state-of-the-art treatment” used to create comas for patients living in “mental hospitals,” especially patients with “schizophrenia?” Give enough insulin to someone and they would become “comatized,” and this would “treat the disease.”  You may find it worth your time to read the justifications the doctors used back then, as well as their proclaimed “successes.”  They sound a lot like modern-day psychiatric justifications and “successes.”  What finally made them stop this shamefully cruel “treatment?”  A new “invention.”  Neuroleptic drugs. (SEE:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insulin_shock_therapy.)

Mostly, though, this blog is about you, me, and our children.  Like no other time in human history, in the Western World, we are giving children daily chemicals, many of them toxic, to address our concerns about their worrisome behaviors.

That’s a key.  Their worrisome behaviors soon become our worrisome concerns.  What’s a parent to do?  We know.  Good parents follow the advice of their psychiatrist, because that’s what good parents do.  You wouldn’t deny your child other medication, so how could you say no to that “scientific” chemical that’s supposed to “treat” your child’s Attention Deficit/Hyperactive Disorder, the long time leader in childhood psychiatric “diseases?”

ADHD is perhaps the cruelest of all childhood “diagnoses.”  “He’s too active and doesn’t pay attention” isn’t a disease.  Your child’s teacher is complaining, not your child.  This is a child management concern, and that begins with the adult.  If adults change their behaviors, children’s behaviors will follow – inevitably.

And, dear reader, please remember this isn’t an exercise in abstract ideas for me.  Over a long career, I’ve met several thousand troubled and troublesome children who, upon arrival, were sometimes taking two or three or four or five – or six – different chemicals.  When I had the last word, my staff and I reduced and then eliminated their “medication.”  Always with parents’ permission – and sometimes their insistence – we did so because, well, your kids aren’t sick.

By the way, a parent saying “no” to a psychiatrist prescribing “medication” for a child’s “disease” is getting to be a bigger problem than you may know.  In courtrooms and classrooms around our country, a brewing conflict is growing that may some day affect you and your child.  I’ll keep you informed.  I’m sorry to report, Big Pharma and Academia, working hand in hand, are not on your side.  They are on their side; the side that proclaims your child has a “disease” and you may not be able to deny him his “treatment.”

So, dear reader, blend our honest parental concerns with the myth that unwanted behavior is a medical condition best treated with some kind of man-made chemical, add in an incredibly lucrative business fully prepared to charge us for those man-made chemicals, and we have a perfect storm and a growing disaster.  Kids aren’t getting any better, and parents – teachers too – are even more frustrated.

What’s a parent to do?  I know your child’s behavior is often a concern for you.  While you may agree medicine might not be the only answer, you don’t get much help from the school either.  I’ll have some concrete, usable techniques for you and your children’s teachers as we get to know each other.

However, before we do, let’s get the rest of the bad news out of the way.

NEXT YKAS ESSAY: It’s Gotten Much Worse

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from birth to adulthood, a kid is a kid

I’ll always have something to say about children and temperaments, and much more as time goes on.  After all, this blog is about kids and how they behave, and you can’t talk about that without talking about temperaments.  Children are different, so we have to treat them different and, as you already know, that’s not so easy to do – is it?

Children arrive equipped.  About that I’m sure.  The rest is about their unfolding.  How we go about helping them discover their project begins with their innate temperament.  Following Keirseyan temperament theory, these are the four forms of temperaments of children:

NEXT TIME:  What do the four forms mean?  Why Stars, Squares, Spheres and Cubes?

A Very Private Practice

One day, a boy had to be hurried to the psychiatrist.  The doctor’s office called and said there was a last minute cancellation, and my supervisor picked me to take him to the doctor’s office.

I was a little nervous.  I had pestered this doctor with my questions, apparently to the breaking point.  I was nearly 30 by then, I had two kids of my own, and I wanted clear answers.  I don’t do well with platitudes.  I guess it showed.  At some point he decided he didn’t want to answer any more of my questions, especially when he found out I had a bachelor’s degree in sociology.  So, this time, I walked in with one of the boys and I quietly found a seat.  The boy was soon escorted to a room in the back where he would wait to see the doctor.

It was late in the day and the office was empty.  I took a seat just below and to the right of the sliding glass window where the receptionist was.  I was extra quiet.  After a few minutes, I was out of sight and, as I soon found out, out of mind.

About 10 minutes later, I heard the doctor approach the receptionist area.  The receptionist, I would learn, also did the doctor’s billing for Medi-Cal.  Her name was Evelyn.  I remember her name because, unbeknownst to the doctor, this is what I heard the doctor say to her, in no uncertain terms:

“God dammit Evelyn, how many times do I have to tell you?!  I don’t get paid for this diagnosis!!”

Hmmm.  As I was to learn in the next few years, the love of money really is the root of all evil after all.