S Going On

Aunt Em had just come out of the house to water the cabbages when she looked up and saw Dorothy running toward her.

"My darling child!" she cried, folding the little girl in her arms and covering her face with kisses. "Where in the world did you come from?"

"From the Land of Oz," said Dorothy gravely. "And here is Toto, too. And oh, Aunt Em! I'm so glad to be at home again!"

L. Frank Baum, The Wizard of Oz

"I don't understand what's going on with my daughter. She used to want to talk to me when she came home from school. Now, I can't get her to come out of her room. I'm afraid she's depressed."

"All my daughter thinks about now is her friends. She won't go visit her grandparents. She doesn't practice piano anymore. She sits in front of her computer talking to six different kids at one time. She just seems so selfish."

"My daughter has developed an extremely frightening habit of lying. It can be about what she ate for lunch, a grade she got on a test, or how late she stayed out with her friends. It doesn't matter the seriousness of the situation—it's like she doesn't know a lie from the truth anymore."

These are just a few of the many worries we hear from parents every day. All these parents, at some level, look at their girls and say, "What's going on?" or, in the words of Aunt Em, "Where in the world did you come from?"

We talk with parents because they are concerned about their children. Sometimes something tragic has happened in the life of their child to make the parents believe they need to talk to someone. Sometimes parents just can't figure out what is going on in their child's life, but they know they need help. In the latter case, one word brings clarity to at least 60 percent of the situations: that word is development.

"Why does my daughter feel so bad about herself when nothing has happened?"

Development.

"Why is my toddler talking so much more than her brother did at the same age?"

Development.

"Why won't she let me help her with anything anymore?"

You guessed it—development.

We're not saying development is the culprit in every difficult situation in the life of a growing girl. But it sure makes a difference.

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