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December 14, 2017

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Child psychologist helps parents overcome anxiety in decision-making

Author Michael Thompson takes conversational approach in workshop


Steve Marcus

Francesca Bodner asks a question to child psychologist and author Michael Thompson during a free parenting workshop at the Adelson Educational Campus in Summerlin on Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013.

Parent Workshop With Child Psychologist Michael Thompson

Child psychologist and author Michael Thompson, right, laughs as he questions Justin Mosher, 10, (2nd left) during a free parenting workshop at the Adelson Educational Campus in Summerlin Sunday, January 13, 2013. Launch slideshow »

Before participating in renowned child psychologist Michael Thompson’s parenting workshop Sunday, Lisa Larian was worried about a decision she made.

She wondered whether she made a mistake moving to Las Vegas from Los Angeles so her daughter could enroll in a private school. Her husband remained in Los Angeles, so she and their five children spend time living in both cities. She feared the move would hurt their development.

“I just wanted to make sure we are doing the right thing with the decisions we made,” Larian said.

Larian was one of about 70 parents seeking guidance at Thompson’s workshop on developing a parenting philosophy at the Adelson Educational Campus.

Paul Schiffman, head of school of the campus, said the goal of the workshops is to create educated discussions among Las Vegas Valley parents on how best to tackle parenting’s most difficult conundrums.

“We’re bringing to Las Vegas an internationally recognized child expert,” Schiffman said. “He brings talking points and gives (parents) reading material, and they leave here with something to think about.”

For many of the parents, this was not the first time they attended one of Thompson’s lectures. This was the fourth year the author of nine parenting books has offered his advice at the school. Michael and Kristy Hall said Thompson's previous workshop on developing a child’s independence had such a profound impact on their parenting that their 6-year-old son knows about the psychologist.

“When we brought up the fact that we were going to see (Thompson) again, our child said, ‘He sounds like a really smart man,’” Kristy Hall said.

This year, the workshop focused on the anxieties parents face as they try to figure out what is best for their child — a issue unique to this generation of parents, Thompson said. He took a conversational approach, presenting the parents with parenting dilemmas.

He described a Canadian father’s struggle to determine how much to push his 11-year-old son in hockey after he proved to be talented. He talked about a mother wanting to know how far to push her children into activities to build their college resumes and discussed an intelligent teenager unhappy with his private school.

Each story was specific to an anonymous family, but their overarching dilemmas were universal: how to decide what is best for the child. The discussion prompted parents to reflect on how they might react and compare that to their own situations. Later, Thompson counseled parents on their own conundrums.

“I just wanted to reassure parents that they are not alone in this struggle,” Thompson said. “And to just think through things.”

The Halls said they felt reassured that they were making the right decisions in raising their son. Ben and June Staniger, who have four children ranging in age from 23 to 6, said the lecture taught them how to communicate better with their children.

The workshop “will help quite a bit,” Ben Staniger said. “I thought it was very enlightening and thought-provoking.”

Larian said her concerns were appeased. She realized her children can still live a fulfilled life with the decision she had made to move to Las Vegas. Still, Larian knows her learning as a parent is never over.

“There’s no perfect parent, but we can only do our best,” Larian said. “... It’s good to educate yourself, no matter how old you are.”

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