Causes of Hoarding and How to Prevent It

Hoarding is not a psychological disease. Our reptilian brain and childhood experiences drive us to hoard. All species hoard.

Our reptilian brains are about survival and continuation of the species. These two functions are beyond control and override everything else we do.  Scarcity and it’s companion fear, drive us. This is true for every living thing.

We are not all the same.  We are molded by our experiences and adapted by our drives.

From childhood, females build the nest and males build the support system.  Little girls play with dolls and boys with building.  Watch them playing… a boy may drive a plastic truck through the dirt, silently for hours and adults tend to see it as mindless pastime.  It’s not and if you watch long enough you will see the purpose.  Girls nurture and boys support.  The reptilian brain at work, busy, focused and with intense purpose.  Serious stuff.

Part of that drive includes amassing a collection of ‘things’.  Everyone does it.  Sports hero memorabelia for boys, pretty things for girls and most of the time it remains orderly and within control.

Hoarding is when it becomes out of control and the hoarder is not crazy, bad or low class.  The hoarder is trying to fix something damaged in childhood.

When a parent throws away or gives away a child’s toys, or more importantly the little things the child brings home, a stick or rock or flower…  when they pack up the child’s clothes and some favorite thing is lost forever.

Make a shelf for the child’s very favorite things.  Assure him that his shelf is off-limits to everyone but him.  When he outgrows his clothes, ask him if there is a favorite he would like to save.  Cleaning out the toys?  Ask him if there is anything he’s not finished playing with yet.  This implies that he will be finished with it eventually, a normal occurrence.

Children will look for things they loved and that have vanished and it continues into old age.  A terrible thing to do to someone.  They will have a lifetime of feeling unstable, vulnerable and certainly unsafe.  Remember that someone else’s things are important to them for reasons we will never know and the repercussions never end.

Adults need to remember also that leaving behind a room of childhood /teenage treasures when they leave home is absolutely not fair and reflects another problem.  They never wanted to leave mom and dad’s house and need an excuse to come back .  There is a bumper sticker that says ‘They haven’t left home until their stuff is out of the basement.’

So, the hoarder is keeping everything close to home, safely protected around him.  It may be a pile of newspapers but something happened to cause that.  Maybe someone interrupted a statement he made to arrogantly say:  “What is your source of information?”

Be kind to the hoarder.  Anything else is just another case of blaming the victim.

Start a Baby Sitting Co-op

The Capitol Hill Babysitting Co-op has been working for 50 years.  

During the Kennedy years, we lived in Washington, D.C., just behind the capitol dome, an area of old row houses, some restored and known as Capitol Hill.  Scattered about were  young eager professionals in the new Administration, and someone began a baby sitting co-op which is now famous.

Capitol Hill Babysitting Co-op – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This is how it worked:

People joining the co-op were friends of those already in it.  No money was exchanged.  Instead we used theater thickets (script), each one representing 15 minutes.  So for a six hour evening, you left with 24 tickets, giving you 6 hours worth of sitting from someone else in the co-op.  There was a phone list and when you wanted a sitter, you began calling.  Within months the group of parents grew into two groups, four by the end of the year.

Returning to Portland and living near our beloved Reed College, I began the co-op.  Sometimes the dad would be the sitter, sometimes the mom.  I remember every one of the houses.  How lovely to sit in a different house, listening to their music, quiet hours of reading.  occasionally new friendships were made but most often the social exchange was business-like and polite.

Would you worry about becoming stuck with children who won’t go to bed?  Take your copy of the PACIFE Music to Calm CD.  They will fall asleep.  Quickly.

Rules of the co-op can be expanded to taking your children to someone elses house during the day. This probably needs a bonus such as double or triple scripts depending on the number of children.

Add another twist.  Include grandmotherly types who can exchange their script for some garden help for example.  Or for cat sitting.

Co-ops need a set of rules, a board and one person for oversight. All paid by script.

Watch a Child’s School Experience Carefully

You may never find out what happened to change your child’s behavior… here are some examples.

Several years ago, in a Portland middle school, a little girl did not have a food voucher at the end of the lunch line.  Her mother forgot to renew them.  The cashier scolded, berated and humiliated the child, took her food tray and threw the food into the trash.  The nightly news reported it and interviewed the principal who defended the cashier.

A similar experience of public humiliation from a kindergarten teacher, has left me with a lifetime of horrible consequences.  And because children are cheerfully sent off to school by parents, they believe that the parents are in agreement with everything that happens to them.

Parents need to keep an open, clear conversation with children, every day, about what happened in school that day.  Pay full attention, careful to not blame the child for anything or become overly agitated as the story unfolds.  You don’t want to shut this communication off, children are literal, they only learn embellishment and lying later, embellishment if they are not listened to and lying to avoid bad consequences to what they are saying.  Then go to that school and raise hell!

One of my children did not bring an expected drawing home from her small religious school that day. When asked she said the teacher threw her drawing into the garbage. I took the book Picasso’s World of Children,  went to see the teacher and told her she would have thrown away Picasso’s work and that she had no business being anywhere near a child. Then I joined the Board of Director’s of this school and fired her. As an adult, this child of mine was blessed with the entire gene pool of generations of portrait painters, she could draw as a photograph looks. This could bring hours of delightful magic to her life but she will not draw or paint.

Teachers, nurses and police are professions that appeal to the same segments of society, the supporters and the controllers.  Because exchanges between them and client patients, students and the public are essentially private, the controllers can be as nasty as they wish.  Watch out!

With Children, Our Goals Change

Our child’s life outside of home is not what you think it is. Here is an important book about boys.

When our children begin to venture beyond home, our goals are that they have wonderful experiences and remain happy always. Then in school the goal changes to ‘may their quest for knowledge not be harmed.’, then as middle school rears it’s ugly head the goal is singular… that they come through it without a drug or alcohol addiction.  In high school, black parents goal is that their child live through it.

Parents however have no idea what is happening to their child’s self esteem, his confidence and his view of the world. In his very special book, Real Boy’s Voices, William Pollack interviewed boys from ages 10 to 20 around America asking them about their lives and learning they’re being taught a formula of secret angst and fears which evolve to rule their behavior and preoccupy them constantly.  Who is saying these things to boys? Who cultivates these fears?  Teachers.  Women teachers! Why?

Clues to How the Family is Doing

Some tricks to tell what’s going on behind the scenes in your family.

There is an entire subtext evolving behind the scenes in families with children… how they are interacting together, what they think of their parents, how it’s going with neighbors and friends and then there is school.  For much of it you have no way of knowing but there are clues.

  • DRAWINGS:  Pencil and paper will give you an amazing glimpse into your child’s life, worries and solvable problems. When they are still in the stick figure drawing mode, ask them to draw their family, to “draw you and Billy”, draw themselves with someone they like a lot, someone they don’t like a lot and the playground at school. Family drawings can be a mom with no ears which means she does not listen, the dad with a huge round mouth means he shouts, one sibling bigger than mom or dad means he’s a bully.  Drawings showing the child drawing as very small means he sees himself as powerless in his family, drawing a parent without arms means he gets no hugs.  When my children were young, I’d have them make these drawings every few months, snatch them up and seriously begin working on the problems.  One of my children, an extremely talented artist in adult life, drew me (a single parent with 4 little children.) with a smile on my face and tears running down my cheeks.
  • PHOTOGRAPHS:  There has been much written about reading faces and it’s deadly accurate stuff.  Choose a picture showing a smile for example.  Take 2 white pieces of paper (this gives no distraction) and cover one half of the face, then the other.  What seems to be a smile can become a grimace! The face may be smiling but the eyes are crying!  Then cover everything but one eye, then the other, then both eyes, then the mouth. As you do this, give one word to the emotion you are seeing in that one eye.  fear, worry, imp…  this is how the child is feeling generally.  It may also reflect how he’s feeling about the photographer.  Information from posed photos is somewhat different than from snapshots.  It’s very interesting to do this with old posed photos where the photographer was busy setting the camera.  The subject would hold the pose and begin to adjust it to be what he considered his ‘best look’  and fatigue or boredom would degenerate his pose to reflect the reality of his personality.Then there are those photos of the married couple, each leaning away from each other.  Remember, there were probably other photos in the series but this was the one chosen!  In group photos, watch if someone is consistently tilting the head away or leaning away from another.
  • THE MIRROR:  If you want to know how someone felt with a certain expression in a photograph or in conversation, go to the mirror and arrange your face in the same way.  Then hold that pose a minute.  Your body will feel what that person was feeling.  Arrange your face with a frown, a straight across mouth and a straight head for example.  you feel one way. Then keeping the same expression, cock your head and you feel another way.  Anther good exercise is to watch a talk show with the sound off and you will be seeing something very different than with the sound on.

Preemies are Overprotected

They are made of tough stuff and fearless.  Here’s a story.

The mother of one of our smallest, in NICU for a year (20 years ago, with new technology that never happens any more) and trached at home for two years more called into NICU one night and said she felt awful.   Ryan  was jumping on the sofa, fell off and broke his arm.  I told the nurses working nearby and they cheered!  The mother on the phone asked what that was about.

I told her they were cheering her because preemies are so tenderly overprotected as they’re growing up that they can never experience life.

Your preemie as a toddler will climb on a chair and jump to the sofa. Again and again.  Even falling does not stop him.  I wondered why this was so common.  Maybe because he has learned to trust.  He trusts people because everyone in this NICU experience was essentially kind to him, and gentle.  But he also has learned to trust space!  Infants understand perspective and there are studies where a deep floor of black and white squares was painted on the bottom of a large sheet of glass.  The mother was on the far edge and the newly crawling baby near the opposite edge.  The mother called him to her and he crawled to the part of the glass painted with his edge, saw what appeared to be a drop-off and would go no further.  So why do preemie infants seem to not react to the drop-off?  It may be because he has lived in a glass house, perceived that it was high and was not worried about the consequences of falling.

The truth about preemies growing up is that they are made of strong stuff, happy, brave, daring, smart.  Enjoy them.

Some Arguing Tricks

Have an off-site Partner Meeting with your mate once a month to discuss how it’s going, how each child is doing, what you would like to change and to make new goals.  Keys to success …

  • Prepare for the meeting.  Make a list and notes.
  • Stay positive and avoid anger.
  • Go with the foundation belief that everything is just a mechanical problem, everyone is good and everything is fixable.
  • Meet in a restaurant with booths for private conversation.
  • Mom can’t cry.
  • Dad can’t shout.
  • The conversation should be about circumstances and not about each other (ad hominum)
  • Have no alcohol before and only coffee or tea during the meeting.  Eating is too complicated and distracting  and may cause stomach ache.  This is a serious meeting.
  • Define the problem.  Devise and problem solve solutions.   Make a plan and a secret signal between you to remind each other of your new goals.

A plan of this sort reduces daily argument.  One tends to save an issue for Partner Meeting and add more thoughts about it, calm thoughts, problem solving thoughts throughout the month.

Ignoring parenting problems is embedding the consequences forever and probably for generations.

What you accept, you teach.

Vacation. Leave the Children at Home Trick

A friend with six young children invented this.  Leave the children at home, it it’s a large gang of them maybe leave them with two adults.  Children younger than maybe 7 would not remember the vacation anyway.

Then, have a vacation in your own city.  Experience your city as a tourist.  No quick stolen minutes together.  A lavish block of time, leisurely time to refresh yourselves and reduce stress.

This leaves you 20 minutes away in case of emergency and gives peace of mind and an intimate several day vacation together.

What My Children Taught Me

For three hours durig the night there was no-one in NICU but the babies and nurses so we would talk around the room, as women do.

One night someone asked me what my children have taught me.

The answer flooded into my head:

  • Josh taught me the joy of introducing the world to a brilliant mind.
  • Jessica taught me to laugh.
  • Rachel gives me elegant friends, adventures and memories.
  • … and Elan taught me that love is quiet.

Namaste my children, namaste.  The spirit that is me bows to the spirit that is you.

… and I put an ax through the television.

In this era of the human species males attack, damage and kill  females and children, antithetical  to the reptilian brain’s drive to preserve and continue the race.  Rare and tribal in the wild, species engaging in this behavior risk extinction.

In the 1940s and 50s, it probably happened but it was part of a thing society found so outrageous, so terrible that it became ‘unspeakable’.

No longer.  Now it’s the core of news, a lament-without-rant if you will.  There is no outraged inflection or angry concerned facial expression with this news, much of it is delivered by women, often with a smile as she says the words.

Not only news but also ENTERTAINMENT.  Bloody gore inflicted on women on prime time TV, full color, close-ups to entertain us. In some series the victim is always female.  There is no democracy.  If you were to suggest a story to producers in which a woman kills and mutilates a man they’d look at you in confusion.

The question is why do women allow this.  Why are good men not rising up in arms against it.  Who do producers think their market is?

These shows are pandering to the most depraved and sick, give permission to make woman as victim and teach our children.

  • A STORY:  I put the TV on the floor of a closet and my children sat on the floor watching it.  Then I put it in the scariest corner of the basement where there were spiders and my children sat, hugging each other, watching it. Then I brought it back upstairs and removed the antenna and came home from work and found that they took the curtain down, neatly folded it, and fashioned an antenna with the curtain rod.  So I took the on-off knob off and carried it to work and became famous.  They turned it on with a pliers.  One morning, after a night in the Burn  ICU  with a man who’s car went off a cliff and burst into flames, I came home to chairs angled around the TV, pillows in the chairs and bowels with remains of popcorn on the floor.  I thought that my children were watching this as entertainment and there was no way I could explain reality to them so I unplugged the TV, called them all into the room before school, said:  “This machine is ruining the quality of our lives together.”  and put an ax through the screen.  Four very astonished children left for school and I went to bed.  When they came home, they were cheerful and as usual to me and I said I thought they’d be angry at me and one of them said:  “We’re so glad you did that.”  After about a week of being at loose-ends, they began painting, putting on wonderful plays, and I bought a pool table for the living room.  Life was good.  Life was great.

Spoiled Rotten

You will never harm a child by being nice to him or by loving him.

Can one spoil a child?  No.  Only tell a child that he’s spoiled rotten as a precious endearment and with love twinkling in your eyes,.  Spoiled means no-good, defeated, garbage.  You cannot  spoil a child, but you can ruin him.

Probably what’s meant  by spoiled is ‘overindulge a child’ and this is always a risk with the first child.  Everything is given to her, gift wrapped, formally handed to her with smiles and some ceremony.  By the fourth child, there are no more gifts, everything is just there on the floor, used and broken with no ownership.  The first child learns to equate love with things, too much is centered on her and she becomes miserly, self involved and therefore unhappy.  The child given nothing is home free in a sense… without expectation she  is not encumbered with ‘shoulds’. Gifts are unexpected nice events but she is on the way to making her own way, forging through life with goals to get what she wants, not waiting for it to be given to her.

This scenario illustrates lifelong entrenched behavior because of birth order. There’s a wonderful book, a must read, The Birth Order Book by Dr. Kevin Leman . And we all think we are unique!  This book is so on the mark that you can guess the birth order of others.

It’s Easy to Get Rid of the Pacifier

It’s easier to stop the pacifier than the thumb.  Much easier and for that reason, the pacifier is a godsend.  It should be gone well before the child is 3 because by that time continued sucking on it will determine the shape of his teeth.  Pacifiers prevent the top front teeth from growing down and therefore the side teeth will be longer, giving a Dracula shape.  Watch for the very first signs of this.  It may be before age three.

One day, sit your child down and line up all his pacifiers.  Tell him that ‘It’s a rule’, When a boy is 3 he doesn’t get any more pacifiers so when the last one is lost, he will become a ‘big kid’ and no longer use pacifiers.  Then remind him of older children he knows who he never sees with a pacifier.

Then when you see a pacifier under a piece of furniture or left outside, snatch it up and hide it until the last one is gone.  (I hid them in their dad’s sock drawer.)  Then help your child search for it.

After three days, put the pacifier in the cushion of the sofa or a chair and find it with a flourish.  Give it back to the child.  he’ll put it in his mouth, suck a few times, make a face, throw it down and never look back.  It’s finished.

With the thumb sucker…  we had to promise her a bike when she was 5.

Calm Frantic Dogs on 4th of July

The music of PACIFE was constructed to calm babies and families began playing it for their dogs who where terrified by the fireworks during the 4th of July.

Is your dog a nervous wreck?   Download it now from iTunes or Amazon, put in into an iPod or on CD, put the dogs in a darkened room, play it for them and watch.

Then run to the phone and tell all your friends.

PACIFE also calms horses in the barn and on the road.

…  and it will quiet children, babies and you.

A Trick to Teach Your Child Good Behavior

The child has one overriding, driving goal and it’s from the Reptilian Brain survival function.

THE CHILD WANTS TO PLEASE THE PARENT.  Always, every minute and in every way.

The Reptilian Brain needs to get this correct or the child could die and he knows it.  The parents are access to food, water and shelter and without that the child is unable to survive.

Normal parenting in American culture is reactive.  It’s knee-jerk responses to each event with the goal of controlling the child’s behavior.  It’s frequently inconsistent, mostly negative  and with a frustrated attitude that  confuses and worries  the child because he can’t make rational sense of what he’s doing to cause it.

EXAMPLE:  Picking up an infant and comforting him at the peak of his loudest cry teaches him this: Mama likes it when I cry very loudly because she picks me up.  When he’s crying, stand outside of his sight until the crying stops, even if it’s only for a breath, then quickly begin cooing soft words to him and pick him up.

A TRICK:  The job of a parent is to teach their child what is acceptable behavior and what is not and this trick will do that without making the child feel like he’s a bad person.  It will take a few days before it becomes second nature and should begin before the child is about 5.

  • Say:  “Good coming when I call you.”  “Bad throwing your food on the floor.”  “Good brushing your teeth.”   “Bad hitting Mary.”  and so on.
  • These statements should be only the word ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and the most brief description of the action.
  • Anything more causes the child to tune it out.
  • This takes the onus off of the child and gives him a clear indication of what is and what is not acceptable social behavior.
  • It also eliminates control avoidance.
  • You will have a happy an obedient child.

Our inclination is to say ‘Good boy.’ or ‘Bad boy.’

Saying ‘Bad boy.’ the child is devastated.

Saying ‘Good boy.’ the child thinks:  “But I wasn’t good last week and if she finds out, I’ll be bad boy.”


Four Bad Words

There are 4 words that we use all the time and that in actuality, don’t mean what we intend them to mean.  There is a hidden sentence attached to them, a sentence that is a bad wish.  The speaker doesn’t hear the bad wish but the listener certainly does.

  • HOPE.  The phrase that always accompanies the word hope is:  “I don’t think you will succeed but I hope you do.”  Not at all what we mean to say.
  • WISH.  Saying I wish the best for you in actuality is saying:  “I don’t think it will work but I wish it would.”
  • TRY.  Saying to Johnny as he’s out the door to play ball… “Try for a home run.”  is not what he hears.  He hears:  “I don’t think you can make a home run but try anyway.”
  • IF.  “If it works.  If you can.”…

Now, the trick is to find another word and you will be amazed at how difficult that is.  What we are really trying to do is give a benediction, a blessing in a sense and   somehow that, in English culture, is not even an option.  We are negatively based in language and in culture.

Using the word ‘May’ instead for a formal statement works and just leaving the qualifier off entirely and saying to the child:  “Give it your best shot.”  is difficult to learn and has terrific results.

May you enjoy happiness and all the causes of future happiness.

May this year be filled with good health, peace, joy and laughter.


Stuttering: The Brain

There are speech centers in both the left brain and the right brain.  It appears that one becomes primary and the stutterer is fluent when in the right brain.  Bad early childhood experiences such as fear and humiliation will put him into the left brain in order to access the functions of  self protection.  When there however, he  hears himself speak with a time lag.  The time lag is similar to one when calling into a talk show with the radio on… it’s very confusing.  Repetitive word stuttering is a mechanism to gain time to get back to the right brain speech center and the blocking form of stuttering is when he is caught on the bridge between left and right brain, the Corpus Callosum.

When speaking his first concern is to avoid the blocking  and within split seconds, he assess the audience’s nuance toward him from the framework of  ‘am I safe?’  In the same second, he is thinking of what he’s going to say, evaluating the word for possible blockage and finding a substitute word that means exactly the same thing.

Stutterers are in reality brilliant and if they were not inclined that way, the mechanics of stuttering creates the skills needed for brilliance.

Most stutterers can eventually pass as fluent, unless someone or something ‘outs’ them.  Then all is lost.  In their mind, they are always at the edge of that cliff.

An otherwise severe stutterer becomes fluent while singing, acting, speaking to large groups, speaking while concentrating on a right brain task such as sports or painting and retelling stories with exactly the same words because these are all completely right brain functions.  You will see this in the list of famous stutterers below.


Stuttering: Helping Your Child

NEVER, NEVER, NEVER  allow anyone to  tell the child to “Speak slower.” and “Think of what you want to say.”  Saying this to a child who stutters is  doing complete and permanent damage.  The stutterer must be taught to speak fast.  Faster than his quick brain is problem solving.  This makes the attempt to find another word impossible and he learns to remain in the right brain where he is fluent.

  • Don’t allow anyone to say anything to him about his speech.
  • Don’t make him feel like he’s a problem.
  • Watch him for a few weeks.  Learn what triggers it.
  • Remove the triggers from his life if you can.  If he is bullied in school, take him out.  Give him Karate lessons.
  • Sing songs with him or put him into a singing group.
  • Play games with him to see who can talk the fastest.
  • Play talking  in a sing-song voice.
  • Learn another language with him, one with words that flow into each other like French.

Children Who Stutter. What to do.

Thirty percent of all children stutter at some point in childhood.  I believe that what happens to them at this period either ends it or commits it to a lifetime.

My son spoke fluently until he was 3.  He then began to stutter in both ways, repeating parts of words and complete blocking.  I forbid everyone in the family from saying anything about his speech to him, kept him close to home and watched him for 3 months.  Finally, I sat him down one day and, face to face said to him:  “Josh, there’s a right way to talk and a wrong way to talk.  The right way is to say everything only once.  Daddy talks right, talk like him.  I talk wrong, don’t talk like me.  Uncle Hersh talks wrong, don’t talk like him.  Aunt Shirley talks right, talk like her.  Grandpa Albert talks wrong, don’t talk like him.”  … and on and on covering everyone he knew.  Josh said:  “Oh.”  and he went outside to play.  He never did that form of stuttering again.

He still did the blocking form and it was severe.  I watched when it became worse and it happened when he played with his only friend, the boy next door named Billy.

Again and again, I’d say.. “Go out and play with Billy, Josh.”  One day he said to Billy:  “I have new tennis shoes, Billy.”.. showing him obviously new shoes.  Billy said:  “No you don’t, Josh.  I have Red Ball Jets.”  Josh could not say 3 words the remainder of the day.  I listened to them playing for the next week and the above conversation was a common exchange.  Then I said to Josh:  “You don’t have to play with Billy if you don’t want to Josh.”  Again he said ‘Oh.’  He never played with Billy again and all of  his speech became permanently fluent.

Pacifier for a Weak Chin

The Nuk Sager pacifier was designed as an orthodontic tool to bring an infant’s chin out and it works like magic.  When my children were infants in the 60s, we had to send to Germany for them.  Now they are in your local store.

The strange design brings the bottom jaw out and the curved plastic of the frame seats the pacifier firmly against the mouth as the baby sucks, creating a perfect  system.  This pacifier also brings the bottom jaw and the tongue forward to open the airway for infant stridor… the loud breathing that some newborns with weak chins have.  No other pacifier style brings the jaw forward!

Holding the baby with his head supported and neck straight is also important for keeping his airway open.  

The three women below were born with almost no chin, a characteristic of both sides of the family.  The Nuk Sager pacifier puts strong pressure on the muscles of the jaw, bringing it out in a normal position.