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Renowned Child Psychologist Offers Advice on Raising Children in a Material World

Nashville, Tenn. — Raising children of character in a materialistic, instant-gratification-oriented world will be the topic of a presentation by renowned Harvard psychologist and author Dan Kindlon, Ph.D. at a luncheon offered by Centerstone, Middle Tennessee’s leading provider of behavioral health services.

The event, part of Centerstone’s “Everyone Matters Series,” will be held September 22, 2003, from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the ballroom of the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel. Tickets cost $50 and are available through Centerstone by calling 615-463-6643 or emailing linda.ballew@centerstone.org.

In his book, Too Much of a Good Thing – Raising Children of Character in an Indulgent Age, Kindlon sheds new light on how parents with the best intentions of making their children happy actually increase the chance that their children will be depressed. The book presents for the first time the results of a new study entitled Parenting Practices at the Millennium, which shows that American children often lack the strong character that is essential for well-being because they are not getting enough TLC-time, limits and caring.

“What we want for our children is a perfect life devoid of hardship and pain,” Kindlon says. “But their happiness as adults is largely dependent on the tools we give them, tools that will allow them to develop emotional maturity-to be honest with themselves, to be empathetic, to take initiative, to delay gratification, to learn from failure and move on, to accept their flaws and to face the consequences when they’ve done something wrong.”

Kindlon teaches child psychology at Harvard University, where he has been a faculty member for 17 years. He has lectured throughout the country at professional conferences parent organizations and schools. He lives in Boston with his wife and two children.

“We are pleased to offer parents, teachers and other child development professionals the opportunity to learn from Dr. Kindlon,” said David Guth, CEO of Centerstone. “His innovative and engaging perspectives on child psychology will enlighten those of us who have children and those who work with them.”

Too Much of a Good Thing also examines children’s attitudes toward their indulged lives and reveals that many kids believe that their parents spoil them. Instead of encouraging them to take on life’s challenges and work hard toward their goals, parents try to protect them from every failure. Kindlon explores the motivations behind these counter-productive parenting practices, finding their roots in fears that contemporary parents have of being too much like their own parents.

In Too Much of a Good Thing, Kindlon identifies the “seven syndromes of indulgence,” patterns of behavior that are common among children of affluent times:

  • Self-centeredness
  • Anger
  • Obsessive ambition
  • Lack of motivation
  • Eating disorders
  • Problems with self-control
  • Spoiled behavior


He argues that society’s focus on achievement and success has replaced the emphasis on developing an inner moral compass; its absence makes it hard for kids to take responsibility for their actions and have meaningful, fulfilling relationships.

The book offers practical advice for parents who want to avoid misguided giving. Rituals, such as eating dinner and attending religious services together, make a world of difference, Kindlon says. He also stresses the importance of developing a “good inner parent,” one that will set fair, consistent limits for children.