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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Alleviating the Fear of the Unknown (Anshu Basnyat, LCPC)

    My family and I recently attended The 22nd Biennial American Society for Deaf Children Conference (June 22-June 26, 2011) in Frederick, MD.  We are a new family to the deaf community and this was the first time we attended this conference. It was a wonderful experience where we learned a lot about the deaf culture through research findings and shared experiences. We left the conference feeling warm and fuzzy, albeit very exhausted by the 4th day. What really touched me was the impact it had on my 6 year old son, Ajay. 
    While the parents attended workshops, the children attended day camp full of fun activities.  The first night, kids and parents were together so nothing major occurred. On the first day, the kids attended day camp and Ajay was excited since he did not know what to expect, but only knew there would be many fun activities to do. On our way home that day, he stated he had fun but felt left out because he did not know sign language. He felt uncomfortable to communicate with others even though there were hearing people around. Ajay could not tell who was deaf and who was hearing.
     The morning of the second day of camp, he insisted he did not want to go because he could not sign and was feeling uncomfortable.  I tried reassuring him that there would be plenty of nice people at the camp to help him. I also took this as an opportunity to teach him about tolerance and embracing the deaf culture by learning sign language.  Furthermore, explained to him that his younger sister needed us to learn sign language so we can communicate with her. At which point he said: “Can’t we just teach her to talk so she doesn’t have to learn sign language?”  All the explaining was of no avail, and he continued to whine, and whine, and whine some more. 
     He reluctantly followed us to the car and during our drive to the conference; I even created a story about a fictitious family who had a deaf child and who was like everybody except that she needed sign language to help her communicate with her family and friends.  He listened to the story and made parallels to our own reality. Given all of the drama at the house earlier, I was pleasantly surprised the car ride was fairly calm.
     We arrived at the conference camp, and I explained to the camp leader that my son was having a hard time since he did not know sign language and would be greatly appreciated if they could keep an eye on him.  The camp counselors were very understanding and reassured him that he could go to any of them if he needed help.  At this moment, I could see it in his face that the fears were alleviated and he happily joined his group.
     At pick-up, he was his normal highly energetic self and reported he had a great day. He relayed everything that he did in camp on our ride back home. He reported that more people were talking today and he even learned a few signs! On the third day of camp, he excitedly joined the camp with many deaf and hard of hearing children and adults.
     This positive exposure carried on to the next few days where he showed an immense interest in learning sign language by watching videos, practicing signs, and even searched on the Internet his favorite Signing Time videos.  He stumbled across interviews with the Signing Time child actors (Alex and Leah) and he was really engaged in what they had to say!  I know this is a start of a beautiful, lifelong journey of embracing the deaf culture and learning American Sign Language for our family. Kudos to all of the wonderful people who made this conference happen!   

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Impact of Fathers (By Anshu Basnyat, LCPC)

    It is no doubt that mothers get lot of attention in our society.  You have to look no further than the advertisements leading up to Mother’s Day and compare it to the ones leading up to Father’s Day.  Does it feel like Father’s Day seems to “sneak up on you?”  If it does, then you are not alone.  The fact that I’m writing this after Father’s Day, and not on or before, speaks to my guilt as well.  Perhaps, a subconscious part of me did this intentionally to prove a point. That is, fathers are way undervalued in our society and do not get the credit they deserve. 
    An involved father makes significant, positive impact in their children’s lives in terms of psychological well-being, academic achievement, cognitive abilities, and social behavior (Rosenberg & Wilcox, 2006).  This is true for both sons and daughters, although the father-daughter relationship differs from the father-son relationship.  Consider the following findings, some may surprise you.

Fathers and Daughters (
•    Fathers tend to have more impact than mothers in these areas with their daughters:
(1) achieving academic and career success—especially in math and science
(2) creating a loving, trusting relationship with a man
(3) dealing well with people in authority—especially men
(4) being self-confident and self-reliant
(5) willing to try new things and to accept challenges
(6) maintaining good mental health
(7) Expressing anger comfortably and appropriately—especially with men
•    After their fathers’ deaths, many daughters regret not knowing their fathers well when alive.
•    Daughters who are raised by single fathers are just as well adjusted and as happy as daughters raised by single mothers.
•    Fathers and daughters are usually closer when the mother works full time outside the home while the children are growing up.
•    Most fathers want to spend more time with their children, but can’t because of their jobs. Just imagine the amount of stress this creates for the father.
Realities: (1) Eighty percent of the fathers in our country earn most of the money for their families. (2) Counting the time spent commuting, working, doing house and yard work, and being with the kids, the average father has 5 hours less free time each week than the average employed mother. (3) On average, employed fathers work 10 more hours a week than employed mothers.
•    Many fathers believe that their wives and daughters’ feelings for them are partly—or sometimes largely—based on money.
•    A father usually has a closer relationship with his kids when the mother lets everyone in the family know how much she appreciates his ways of parenting—especially if his way of relating to the kids isn’t exactly like hers.
•    A daughter has a better relationship with her father when her mother does not rely on her for advice or comfort on adult issues—especially issues involving the parents’ relationship with each other.
•    When parents are unhappily married, most children side with their mother against their father.
•    Sadly, there are mothers who feel uncomfortable or jealous with the idea that their daughter might share as much time or as much personal information with her father as she does with her mother.

Fathers and Sons (
     Fathers and sons have an interesting relationship pattern that Dr. Williams explains with the acronym IDEAL.  The circle of father-son relationship goes as follows.

I= Idolize. This happens when sons as children feel their dads can do no wrong. They imitate the father’s behaviors by walking like him, talking like him, etc.  The need to please and gain approval and acceptance is very strong at this stage.
D= Discord. Conflict seems to be the central theme in the teenage years. Sons often reject their fathers’ expectations and values, rather taking on non-traditional philosophies and often creating tension between the father and son. This may carry on to the early twenties.
E= Evolving. There may still be emotional distance, but also the need to please and gain approval continues.  It may seem like the son is in competition with the father.  At some point in their twenties, the tide moves in the positive direction.
A= Acceptance.  As adults in their 30’s and 40’s, sons start to accept their fathers for who they are, recognize their strengths, forgive, and even admire their fathers’ qualities that once repulsed them.  Fathers and sons may even become friends during this time sharing common interests and expressing opinions without all of the drama of the earlier years. This is also the time when the sons have sons of their own and the tables have turned.
L= Legacy. In their 50’s, sons become a legacy of their father’s influence for better and worse. Time has eased the pain of earlier years full of contention and has been replaced with respect and appreciation for the difficult job fathering entails. Those older adult sons who have not resolved their issues with their fathers, tend to have similar conflicts replayed with their own teenage or young adult sons.  If elderly fathers are still living, a role reversal occurs where the older adult sons are now taking care of their aging fathers.


Nielson, L.  Fathers and Daughters: Eye Opening Facts. Retrieved 6/20/2011, from

Rosenberg, J. & Wilcox, W.B. (2006). The Importance of Fathers in the Healthy Development of Children.  Office on Child Abuse and Neglect, US. Children’s Bureau. Retrieved 6/22/2011, from (  

Williams, D.C.  The Life Cycle of Father-Son Relationships. Retrieved 6/22/2011, from (

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Managing Sibling Bickering (Anshu Basnyat, LCPC)

     Sibling bickering is a form of sibling rivalry that has been in existence since families with multiple children have been around.  Any household with siblings is sure to encounter any or more of these:  “It’s his fault!”, “He’s teasing me!” , “She keeps bothering me!”, “Stop it!”,  “Leave me alone!”, “Mom, she keeps looking at me!”, etc.  I am sure you can provide more creative examples than these.  Eradicating sibling bickering is wishful thinking, so do not attempt it.  It is a natural part of growing up with ample opportunities for learning (problem solving skills, negotiating, assertiveness skills, etc.).  However, if it happen more often than not and annoys you badly, then there are some behavioral things parents can do to reduce bickering at home. 
     Here are some key principles to consider first.  Bickering is a negative behavior, so approaching it from this perspective and laying a strong foundation for discipline is key in decreasing it.  Furthermore, consistency between parents is vital to reduce any negative behavior, including sibling bickering.  A team approach to tackling this issue will be easier and will yield better results. Lastly, children learn what they see, so parents modeling good ways to communicate with each other is one of the most important ingredient in fostering harmonious family interactions.  Having said that, here are five behavioral strategies to consider in managing sibling bickering.    

5 Tips to Manage Sibling Bickering:

1. Do NOT ask the two infamous questions: “What happened?” or “Who started it?” The only time you need to ask is when someone is physically harmed.  Seriously, which kid is going to say “I’m sorry Mom, I was the one who started it all.  I’m the one who should be punished.”  Even with a honest child, this is an unrealistic expectation.  If you’re not convinced, then think of it as a survival mode reaction to avoid punishment. Also, when you ask these questions you are encouraging tattling behavior.  Instead, if they come tattling to you, then tell them firmly you are not interested in knowing who started it or what happened, but that you have full confidence that they will resolve it on their own. 
2. Do NOT take sides.  The two main reasons not to do this.  First,  children need to learn how to problem solve on their own and if the parent keeps rescuing them, then they do not get the learning opportunity to practice this life skill.  Second, no parent wants to be put in a position where they appear to love one child more than the other.  I believe children are very intuitive  people and they will use the guilt trip to capitalize on this.  It may present something like this: “It’s not fair, you love him more than me!” or  “You always take her side! I hate you! I hate her!” 

3. Ignore it.  Ignoring is a powerful tool that many people do not give credit to and is one of the most effect way to reduce behavior.  Some behavioral psychologists would go far as to say that ignoring makes any behavior extinct.  Of course, if it’s something that causes physical harm then you should attend to it immediately.

4. Put “Stop tattling” as a house rule.  Tattlers are annoying to parents and others.  It is not a desirable social skill that will attract friends in the playground.  Again, it is an ineffective way to problem solve.

5. Spend quality time with each child.  Children need lot of attention, and if they feel they are not getting it then they will engage in negative behaviors to get it.  Any attention is better than no attention.  Making special time on a weekly basis is a good way to give positive attention to each child.  For example, Tuesdays can be “Mommy and Me” time while Thursdays are “Daddy and Me” time.  Individual families know how it works best for their family.