Bloomberg Businessweek journalist Tim Murphy invited SMU psychologist George W. Holden to weigh in on the impact of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s controversial decision to extend the elementary school day from less than six hours a day to seven and a half.
Holden is an expert in families and child development. Most recently he’s done research that provides a unique real-time look at spanking in a way that’s never before been studied. In a study of 37 families, mothers voluntarily recorded their evening interactions with their young children over the course of six days, including incidents of corporal punishment.
A professor in the SMU Psychology Department, Holden is a leading advocate for abolishing corporal punishment in schools and homes and led organization of the 2011 Global Summit on Ending Corporal Punishment and Promoting Positive Discipline in Dallas.
For his outstanding dedication and service to the mental health needs of children and adolescents, Holden was honored Sept. 21 with The Lightner Sams Foundation Child Advocate Award presented by Mental Health America of Greater Dallas.
Like Parent, Like Child
By Tim Murphy
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently incurred the wrath of the city’s teachers’ union when he lengthened the elementary school day, starting next year, to seven and a half hours from less than six. One can only imagine that when those kids finally bust free, they’ll be 90 minutes crazier than schoolkids are everywhere on weekdays come 3 p.m.-ish. And that final-bell madness can extend to parents and nannies picking them up. “It’s a challenging time of day because everyone is tired and people want to get home, but often children have stories to tell about what happened that day,” says George W. Holden, a psychology professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and author of Parenting: A Dynamic Perspective.
Recently, Bloomberg Businessweek observed school pickup at five top elementary schools in the New York area—the Upper East Side’s Dalton School, the Upper West Side’s Ethical Culture Fieldston School, Greenwich Village’s P.S. 41, Tribeca’s P.S. 234, and Park Slope’s P.S. 321 in Brooklyn. Then we ran our impressions by Holden and three other experts: Patti Wood, author of the forthcoming Snap: Making the Most of First Impressions; Joe Navarro, author of What Every Body is Saying; and Adam Mansbach, parent of a pre-K’er and author of the cult-hit “children’s” book Go the F— to Sleep. Here is our semi-scientific taxonomy of school pickup behaviors and what the pros think they mean. Brace yourself, Windy City.
The “Talk”: 5%*
Teachers pull parents aside to discuss hitting or other infractions. Navarro: “There are always parents for whom school pickup isn’t a happy event because of incidents like this.” Holden: “Kids who are spanked are more likely to hit other kids.” Mansbach: “I’ve been the recipient of that news. My impulse is to ask, ‘Well, how did her jab look?’ ”
*of people observed
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