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Parenting Advice: Giving Lectures

anxiety and lecturingMany of our readers know that Chuck and I are taking tennis lessons. This has been a surprisingly fun and humbling experience. We are still pretty terrible after 8 lessons, but we can now sometimes hit the ball with our rackets which believe me, is a great improvement.

Tennis is our latest metaphor for life. Just the other day, the instructor was telling me about keeping score. He said it was pretty easy. I started to listen to his lecture. He said that the first point is 15 and the second 30 and the third 40 and the 4th point wins except when there is a tie or deuce or something like that and then there is an advantage and games and sets and tiebreaks and matches and I had no idea what he was talking about so then I spaced out and sort of started to think about other things like how strange it is that the tennis ball doesn’t seem to go in the right direction. And then the instructor asked if I understood scoring and I said “yes.”

I felt like a kid. I really had not been listening after the first or second sentence. It got me to thinking about how often parents do the same to kids?  Do you ever start off with a simple message to your child, and keep talking and talking?  I know I did.

If you say, “Did you hear me?”

A child of almost any age will respond, “Yes.”

So, parents and tennis instructors keep your messages short—one or two sentences. Check for understanding by asking the child to repeat what he or she heard. Try to provide concrete examples. Repeat and give lots of time for practice. Kids and adults space out when given too much information. I think I’ll tell my tennis instructor the truth. I wasn’t listening.

Photo by JE Theriot, available under a Creative Commons attribution license.

Parenting Advice: Giving Lectures

Laura L. Smith, Ph.D.

Laura L. Smith, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist who specializes in the assessment and treatment of adults and children with obsessive compulsive disorder, as well as personality disorders, depression, anxiety, ADHD, and learning disorders. Dr. Smith is a widely published author of articles and books to the profession and the public, including: Overcoming Anxiety For Dummies (2E), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder For Dummies, Seasonal Affective Disorder For Dummies, Anxiety and Depression Workbook For Dummies, Depression For Dummies, Hollow Kids: Recapturing the Soul of a Generation Lost to the Self-Esteem Myth, and Why Can’t I Be the Parent I Want to Be? Her website is:

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APA Reference
Smith, L. (2011). Parenting Advice: Giving Lectures. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 13, 2020, from


Last updated: 10 May 2011
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