Saturday, October 16, 2010


Dear Mr. Morton- We have two elementary school boys. The oldest is shy and not as bright in school and life as the youngest, who is a social butterfly and gets all “A’s” in school. We wonder how much nature (genes) vs. nurture (upbringing) resulted in the difference between the two. We are both professionals with graduate degrees. Any thoughts?- Parents (photo
Dear Parents- Right now, you are the most important person in your older child’s life, especially if he has some apparent developmental delays. You are the strongest influence in his young life and feelings of helplessness and self-doubt can be either toned down or exacerbated by you. Every waking hour, he learns much about himself- from you. The day he arrived home from the hospital as a helpless infant, you were the “reliever” when he cried from hunger, the “consoler” when he cried from fear in the dark of night, “soother” when his pants were soiled, and official “kisser of ouches” when needed.

Now that he’s older and is meeting unfamiliar people outside the family unit (teachers and classmates) it is important that you focus on what he can do, not on what he can’t; his assets, not his liabilities; and what he is, not what he isn’t- even if his strengths differ from the family expectations.

The home atmosphere must remain encouraging and supportive for children with developmental delays. If you remain inflexible and expect him to “fit the family mold”, he will grow discouraged and frustrated at home and in society, especially with a younger sibling outshining him socially and academically. He will carry these negative voices of childhood well into adulthood.

In short, your actions now will determine his lifetime sense of well-being. I’ve always marveled at how parents of children with developmental delays discover how to look at the positives in life. Isn’t it true for all kids? Write down you son’s positive qualities and begin reinforcing them…today!

ClickN KIDS Teaching KIDS to READ One Click at a Time
Robert Morton, M.Ed., Ed.S., has retired from his positions of school psychologist and adjunct professor in the School of Leadership & Policy Studies at BGSU. Questions about family, parenting, personal or educational issues? Contact him at the secure Bpath Mail Form at the top of this site. To visit the national FAMILY JOURNAL column, click HERE.