Teenage Problems and Math - Could There Be a Connection?

Joe Pagano
 


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Children who are difficult to manage are often poor problem solvers. Any parent who is experiencing trouble raising their teenage son or daughter knows how vexing a problem this can be. My wife and I experienced this firsthand and I can honestly tell you that the trials we went through were nothing short of nightmarish. After purchasing a specialized program to teach us how to deal with this problem, we learned that children who are behavior problems are often poor problem solvers. It was then that I saw a revelatory connection.

Teens who act out inappropriately and who demonstrate improper, obnoxious, and offensive behavior are usually below average to poor in their problem solving abilities. During an anger management episode, the irate teen is usually frustrated by some task or challenge that seems oppressive, daunting, and insolvable. Rather than taking a more socially responsible course of action, the teen will act out in ways that are abusive to those around, and generally such episodes will be replete with vulgar language, destructive behavior, and demeaning epithets toward parents, siblings, and even teachers and other authority figures. This is not something we as parents want our children to do.

In spite of our solicitous nature toward our children, we as parents sometimes have to wage war during our children’s adolescent period of from thirteen to perhaps nineteen years old. This is a very difficult period to begin with. Take a child who is predisposed either through genetic influences or outside peer pressures—or both—and you have a recipe for a potential nightmare in teen rearing. How can we mitigate against this situation?

It is ironic that I as a mathematician, author, and creator of the Wiz Kid series, (see Wiz Kid eBooks ) former high school and college teacher, had to experience such tremendous trouble with my teens insofar as school performance and behavior. In order to correct this problem, my wife and I had to educate ourselves on how to deal with such behavioral problems. The situation has improved; however, the emotional cost of the experience has been draining.

I relate the above to let people know that nobody is immune to problems with their kids, regardless of education, training, or background. As a result of my experience, I hope to use the knowledge I have gained to help others who are dealing with these problems or, for those who have children who will be teens one day, to help them take preventative measures. Since a lot of the bad behavior is the direct result of poor problem solving and the low self-esteem that results from a child’s feelings of inadequacy, the one sure method of avoiding this “bad teen" scenario is to give your children the tools to problem solve.

Start them out early and get them interested in things like crossword puzzles, sudoku, brain teasers, and yes, mathematics. The one great subject which teaches all how to become effective problem solvers is mathematics. There is absolutely no denying this and I challenge anyone to a debate on this issue. And parents you have the onus of getting them interested in these things. Unfortunately I did not do as good a job at this as I should have; however, you can and will do better. Your kids deserve this much.

Go and research my ebooks on these topics. You don’t have to purchase my books. Check out other sites and products. Buy puzzle books in Barnes and Nobles and other works that stimulate your children’s minds and challenges them to solve problems. I assure you that once they are effective problem solvers, you will not have behavioral problems.

Please email me back on your thoughts and feedback on this most important issue.

All the best.

Joe is a prolific writer of self-help and educational material and an award-winning former teacher of both college and high school mathematics. Under the penname, JC Page, Joe authored Arithmetic Magic, the little classic on the ABC’s of arithmetic. Joe is also author of the charming self-help ebook, Making a Good Impression Every Time: The Secret to Instant Popularity; the original collection of poetry, Poems for the Mathematically Insecure, and the short but highly effective fraction troubleshooter Fractions for the Faint of Heart. The diverse genre of his writings (novel, short story, essay, script, and poetry)—particularly in regard to its educational flavor— continues to captivate readers and to earn him recognition.

Joe propagates his teaching philosophy through his articles and books and is dedicated to helping educate children living in impoverished countries. Toward this end, he donates a portion of the proceeds from the sale of every ebook. For more information go to http://www.mathbyjoe.com .

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