Violent Video Games: You have a decision to make!

Violent video games are one of the most popular activities for kids today. When they are not playing, they are watching someone else play them on YouTube or talking with their friends about the game or using it as the base for pretend play. 

I keep hearing that research shows no connection between violent video games and the increase in violence we are experiencing today. So, I looked at the research. I must say, I am confused. I found research saying that violent video games leads to increased aggressive behavior and decreased empathy. This sounds like a connection to me.

The APA (American Psychological Association) put together a task force last year to review the existing research. They "concluded that violent video game use is a risk factor for adverse outcomes, but found insufficient studies to examine any potential link between violent video game use and delinquency or criminal behavior".  

Two factors stood out to me. One was the length of time playing violent video games within the studies. They ranged from a few minutes, to a 20 minutes over a few days, to a few months. I did not find any study that measured hours of play for months at a time, which is the reality. The second factor is the age of the participants. Many of the studies had adults as participants. An adults response, reaction and understanding will be different than a child's. 

As a parent, this is personal.

You have to take all this information in and use it to make an individual decision for your family. The research can provide insights but the ultimately measure is your child's behavior.

How does your son or daughter behavior after playing violent video games? What is the behavior like if it is just 20 minutes of playing? How is their behavior after 2 hours? What happens when they play for 5 hours with a friend? What are your kids like when they don't play video games for an entire weekend? Pay attention. If you see changes in their behavior, factor that into your family technology rules.

Educate yourself about what your child is playing. Know the games your child is playing and how they work. Too many families I talk with don't know what their kids are doing during screen time. It is important that you stay informed. 

How do you do this? Once a week, take 10 minutes and watch them play video games. The best way to educate yourself is to be in the action, watch what they are doing and how they engage. This along with noticing their behavior after playing is powerful information when deciding what is best for your children and video games.

If you decide to make changes - go slow. It can be tempting to have your kids go cold turkey but that is like a crash diet. It might be powerful for a day or two but they don't last. Gradually decrease time played if you are looking to make a change. One small step at a time.

Want to hear more about this topic? Yesterday John Pattie, from WBAL New Radio 1090 aired a piece on just this topic. I was one of the experts he interviewed. Listen here.

Remember is that this is an ongoing decision. Video games are constantly evolving, as is your child's behavior. Each month re-evaluate the time spent on video games and the games played. Make a new rules when needed to ensure that your children grow up to be amazing adults!

Autism Awareness Month: Conversation about Parenting a child with Autism

Danielle Perrotta is the mother of 2 children. Her oldest is 7 years old and has Autism. 

I met Danielle (I know her as Dani) when we were in college, in Washington D.C. We both moved to New York City after graduation and that is really when we became friends. Two young women figuring out who we were and what we wanted to do with our lives. We both went into education and loved it!

Several years later, Dani was one of my first friends to move out of the city. She got married and moved to New Jersey. A beautiful home there! As with many friendships, the shifts in logistics led to shifts in the friendship. We talked occasionally and saw each other rarely.

As I graduated with my doctorate and started my private practice, Behavior and Beyond in the city. Dani was expanding her family, having 2 beautiful children. Dani's family went through ups and downs as they learned that her daughter has Autism. This also led to us reconnecting. 

Now, her daughter is now 7 years old, in a school that is perfect for her and has amazing support. Dani and I talk about behavior and special needs sometimes. We also chat about our careers - Dani was a 5th grade teacher for over 15 years and me, well, you know, behavior and families is my passion. Dani is a parent of a child with autism. She is also a teachers. She is also a mom of a 4 year old boy. She is also an artist. She is also....the list goes on and on. Her daughter is the same, yes she has Autism. She is also so many other things.

In the video, Dani and I talk about parenting challenges. She is open and transparent about being a parent of a child with Autism. One of the most touching moments to me of this conversation is the realization that some of the behavior questions she has are questions all parents have. Watch and see what happens....

Failure: The Importance of Teaching our Kids how to Fail

My best lessons were from some of my biggest failures. Mistakes I made my first year teaching shaped the teacher I am today. Errors in friendship have taught me how to be the friend I am today. Failures in my business have helped me build the company I have today. 

In the moment none of them were fun, most made me want to crawl up in bed and cry. Truth be told, some of them have landed me there. But after a day of crying and watching bad tv, I get up and get moving again. ne small step at a time.

These are not fun lessons to learn but they are critical and powerful. 

Did I ever tell you about how my advisor accidentally knocked my dissertation in the trash after my defense? After you defend your dissertation, you meet with your advisor to get all the updates that are needed for your final submission. I had major revisions and was feeling completely overwhelmed.

As we are walking into his office, he rested all the papers on a trashcan. they fell.

It took all my strength to not crumble right there an then. Instead I took a deep break, picked the papers up myself and walked into his office. Sat down and listened to list of all the mistakes I made. 

My dissertation was on parent-teacher relationships and I had never worked so hard it my life. Yet here I sat and my advisor was tearing it apart. It felt like failure.
I went home and crawled into bed for 3 days. Then said, enough is enough! I needed to make the corrections and take the next step. That is exactly what I did. I graduated 6 weeks later as Dr. Marcie.

Can you image what would have happened if I let that failure overcome me? Nope, me neither!

It is because I had learned to face failure and learn lessons that I took the next step. Make sure you teach your kids how to fail, so when they face challenges, they get up and take the next step!

Failure is a critical life skills, even though it is not always a fun skill to learn. Children need to be taught how to be loss and how to fail. They also need to be taught what to do next. We live in a time when everyone want to win, when everyone gets a trophy.

Parenting and Pompoms: A Playful Conversation between Nolan, Dr. Mandi and Dr. Marcie

Last Tuesday night and I was visiting with a friend and colleague, Dr. Mandi White-Ajmani. It was getting close to dinner time and her kids were having their screen time. Her son mentioned that he was watching YouTube. His mom asked what exactly he was watching. I asked, "Were you watching me?"

At first he laughed thinking I was joking. Then he looked over confused, asked if I was actually on YouTube. I said, "Yup! I have a bunch of videos. We could make one together and then you can be on YouTube too!" Before he got too excited, I did mention that his parents had to be ok with it.  

After dinner, we sat down on the couch. Turned out, Mom wanted to be on YouTube also :) 

I asked Nolan what the best thing was that his parents did. He gave a great answer - simple and powerful. I asked his mom about what areas she struggles with as a parent. We ended up chatting about allowance, charts and consistency. 

Somewhere in the middle a bag of pompoms appeared. Of course, they were put to good use!

See what happens in this playful conversation between Nolan (an amazing 10 year old), his mom (Dr. Mandi) and me (Dr. Marcie).

ps-In the video I mention that Dr. Mandi White-Ajmani is an amazing Neuropsychologist. If you are looking for more about her, go to

No More Punishment!

This past weekend was the March for Our Lives. Did you go? 

It was not until after the march when I got home that the true impact set in. I watched the speeches that I did not hear. Inspiring, passionate and motivated students. Kids who are standing up and saying we need to find better answers. Students who are putting together an action based movement.

The heartbreak that I felt from seeing the signs saying, "Am I next?" or "I march so my Kindergarteners don't have to" melted away. It shifted to what I do best - action. 

I asked myself - What is the action, the small step that I can take? What is the step that I know will make a difference? How can I inspire? 

The answer is this weeks video. The reminder that path to change is not through punishment but proaction. The reminder that reaction is never as powerful as thoughtful, intentional planning. 

As a parent, punishment after each incident is not the answer to change behavior. Teach your small one how to respond, what to say, how to be a friend, what to do when they are angry that is appropriate. These are skills that will never be taught through punishment. 

I'm a Parenting Media Association Award Winner!

Last Tuesday I was sitting at my desk checking email. I was expecting to answer some parenting questions, address some scheduling needs and see what new families has reached out. 

There was an email from my editor. I say, "my editor" loosely. I write a monthly column for New York Parenting. The email was from Susan Weiss, the editor. She has only emailed me a handful of times outside of confirmation of articles received. I was super curious. 

The subject was "New York Parenting took home 10 Awards!!!" Yup, she used 3 exclamation points, this was going to be exciting. I got myself ready to celebrate as I opened the email.

Parenting Media Association 2017 was in bold and big letters. How exciting, I thought, I write for a magazine that won so many awards! Then I kept reading and saw my name. 


I didn't understand as I did not apply, I wondered how could this be. Turns, out my editor submitted my column. I won the silver medal in my column (not just one article). The category is Child Development & Parenting Issues. 

There was a massive happy dance that happened in my home office, right there and then. Yes, I put on Megan Trainor, hopped on my trampoline and danced it out. I then called 3 different friends to share the exciting news with. Email has never been so fun!

The column is something I love doing. I have not received too much feedback about it. Each month I decide on a topic, write about and submit it. Cross my fingers and hope that parents find value in the stories I share. With the award I received feedback from the judges. Here is what they said: "This column gives parents some practical tips for dealing with behavior issues that seem to crop up from time to time. This feature has a strong connection with the reader while also offering a “cheat sheet” for how to handle the issues next time around, too."

This has been an amazing surprise!!

You never know when you will be a winner. You never know when a celebration will begin right at your desk. When it is your time, how will you celebrate?

Want to check out my column? Here are links to a few of my recent articles: 

December 2017 January 2018 February 2018

Transform Your Body as a Mom: The MUTU System!

Usually, I share with you action based insightful tidbits to make your children's behavior soar. Today is a different side to parenting. This blog is for you!!

You spend so much time running after your kids. Picking up after them, making food for them, doing laundry for them. Isn't it time you do something for yourself? Something that will not only feel good but will also help you look good :)

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Wendy Powell, founder of The MUTU System. An amazing exercise program, which is much more than an exercise program. It helps moms reconnect with their bodies. To feel good in their body again, build up strength and as an added bonus look good too! 

Don't take my word for it - list to what Wendy has to share. Then go learn more here!

The Secret to Balancing Your Time as a Busy Parent

Dr. Marcie has a fantastic chat with John, a father of 3 who is juggling too many schedules. John asks how to keep all the kids schedules organized and balanced. The secret is to use a timer to keep time on track while getting things done. We also discuss bedtime, which can be a magical time with kids. This is the moment to build up their self esteem, self image and ideal vision. Do it by simply sharing your vision of them. Listen to the video to hear exactly how to do it!

Building Bridges Between Parents and Teachers

Lately I have had countless conversations that break my heart!

Parents blaming teachers for all their behavior problems. Teachers complaining that parents are the reason kids don't listen. The complaints go on and on and on.
Why is this anyones solution? Why are we blaming each other? What does that achieve?

The actual solution, is to remember that we are all on the same team. We all, parents and teachers alike, are working to raise up our children. Working to teach them life skills and how to be amazing humans. We all want our kids to thrive.

When there are problems, lets talk. When there are problems, lets be understanding. When there are problems, lets ask high quality questions so we can find the answers together.

I found myself over and over again talking about how to treat each other with love and compassion. Teachers - love the parents of your kids and know they are doing the best they can. Many without training or support. Parents - have compassion for your teachers who have chosen to wake up each day and help your child learn and grow. From this place, everything is possible! From this place children will learn and behaviors will change.

When we come together amazing things happen! Watch this heart felt video to hear a few more thoughts about the importance of parents and teachers coming together...

How to Parent your Shy Child

Join the conversation between Dr. Marcie and Vickie, a parent of 2. Vickie shares her own experiences as shy child. She talks about how she worked to ensure her children did were not shy and Dr. Marcie uses Vickie's stories to show how shyness is a behavior and can be changed.

Vickie openly talks about her self as a child and as a parent. Allowing the stories she shares to be broken down behaviorally into best practices and teachable moments. With humor and honesty she shares her life with Dr. Marcie in this conversation about parenting.

If after watching you want to connect with Vickie - you can find her at