True or fake? Friendship lessons

Sorting true friends from false friends never ends, but the teen years are pivotal  as too many teens  set aside “not with it” childhood friends.

Friends come in all styles including fauxLucky the teen who is one of the “in-crowd” or so it seems.  Sad the teen who is not. Sadder still the teen who gets betrayed by a childhood friend seeking easy popularity.  Saddest: the teens who commit suicide, bodily or emotionally, when a friend betrays.

How can parents help? In many ways, but mostly by coding reality as the child grows. Also by teaching self-soothing skills when reality, particularly about friends and friendships leads to hurt.  Thinking about what matters, and to practicing forgiveness help all cope with betrayal.

Parenting tips

Tip one: Learning to see what is real and what is not develops over time. Be patient.

Tip two: Learn a bit about how children code reality.  In a nutshell, the important stages are:

  • Pre-school when fantasy rules – a child’s feelings, hopes, and wishes determine what the child thinks is real.  That is why toys talk, Santa really comes down the chimney even when the child’s house has no fireplace.
  • Preteen when concrete thinking rules and the child can talk more about what is make believe and what is real. Thought, however, is sill limited to what the child experiences directly.  Moreover, the child at this stage mostly thinks in terms of one or two options.
  • The teen years when the ability to think broadly and like a scientist emerges.  Instead of just one or two options, an abstract teen can think of endless variations and possibilities. This is called abstract or critical thinking.

Tip three:  Parents can help by labeling the difference between fact and fancy at every age.  No need to make a big deal about this.  Just saying “Fact” or Fantasy” starts the process.  Sometimes with things like Angels and Prayers, “Hope” in its many forms is a better choice of words.

Think of planting acorns. They have to be planted, but take years to grow.

Tip four: Encourage critical thinking by saying “Tell me more” or asking “How questions.”  “How did you figure that out?”  “How does that work?”  A

ccept all answers as true, they are at the moment. You can also present alternative explanations if you wish.

Tip five: Know what blocks critical thinking. Age and stage is one block, but two other things hold people back from thinking more broadly about what matters.  The first is trauma which is why safety matters as does knowing how to help a child deal with pain and hurt.

The second is being surrounded by people who insist you think as they do.  Wise parents realize teens need to think independently.

FREE Poster CoachES

The first is an infogram abut trauma and how to help anyway stay strong when bad things happen.

When friends betray, trauma mounts.

The second one has some quotes about friendship.

Friendship quotes

Go to the to the EFTIStore to  claim any of our other free Poster Coach.  The posters should be printed up in color on card stock and posted where they will remind you what matters or to practice an Emotional fitness skill.

Staying strong

When a friend or other loved one betrays, two steps help you stay strong. One is the ability to Think About What Matters.  This means thinking about the balance between feeling betrayed and the meaning of the relationship to you personally.  When it comes to children and family preserving the good in the relationship matters most.

To preserve the good when loved one’s betray, means learning to practice forgiveness.  Here are three steps in another Free Poster Coach that begin the process. Teach them to your children, practice them yourself.


Finally, Thank you for all you do. I am particularly grateful to those who practice internet kindness by liking, rating, commenting, or sharing my posts.


This blog post about friendship grew from this WordPress Daily Prompt: Why Can’t We Be Friends?  Do you find it easy to make new friends? Tell us how you’ve mastered the art of befriending a new person.

As usual I went astray from the question and did my own thing. Betrayal, however, is one reason we cannot always stay friends and Practicing Forgiveness a way we can move past hurt and stay friends.



Teach your kids to procrastinate

When pressure mounts,  parents and kids need to procrastinate like the pro’s.  Doing so promotes an #EmotionalIntelligence skill.  Time outs start the process.

Seven Reasons to Procrastinate.

parenting THOUGHTS

Strategy number one for helping kids stay emotionally strong remains “Remember what matters.”  What matters? In the long run the researchers and sages of the ages agree: caring connections matter most. And these are obtained by following the cross cultural rules preaching say “Treat all others as you want to be treated.”

Notice the rule does not say “Only treat family, friends, or tribal members as you want to be treated.” The rule says “Treat all others as you want to be treated.”

How this applies to children?  The very young child is controlled by what s/he feels in the moment.  Thoughts vanish in the flood of feelings.

How does procrastination help? By lengthening the time between feeling and acting and thereby encouraging thinking time. The emotionally intelligent think before acting.  Not easy to learn;  important for parents to teach.

parenting tips

Tip one:  Reframe time outs.  A time out is not and should not be a punishment.  Make time outs  “Calm down and Think” tools.

Tip two:   Call the first part of a  time out “Calming down time.”

Tip three: When the child is calm, call the next phase “Thinking it over time.”

Tip four: Release from time out with a “Naming to Tame” phase. The younger the child, the more you will need to do the naming.  The word “Upset” is useful at this stage.

  • “Calm now, upset because you could not finish the puzzle.”
  • “Upset because the tower fell; calm now.”
  • “Calm now, upset because you wanted chocolate and had to settle for fruit.”
  • “Upset because falling hurt you.”  (When a hurt caused to upset, the place for a time out is a parent’s arms. )
  • “Calm now, upset because I said “No.”

Tip five: Always end time outs on a positive note. The younger the child, the easier this is to do by just asking for a quick hug.  Once a child starts rejecting hugs, a simple “Thank you for thinking about this.” suffices.

Tip six: Give the child alternative tools to help cope with upsetting times.  These  include Calming Breathes,  The One Minute Meditation, and Sloganeering.  See the EFTI store for Poster Coaches teaching these exercises.


As always you need to model what you want to teach. That’s the bad news. The good news? Learning to Procrastinate like a Pro will strengthen your emotional fitness so you can more easily model it.

Thank you for all you do,


P.S. This post inspired by a Daily Prompt: Land of Confusion which asked: Which subject in school did you find impossible to master? Did math give you hives? Did English make you scream? Do tell!

Well, math was my bug-a-boo; but spelling, punctuation, and grammar were close behind.  Why? Because I have multiple learning disabilities – dyscalculia and dysgraphia. Still cannot do math. Thank goodness for my husband. Still troubled by spelling, punctuation, and grammar; thank goodness word processing has helped a bit with those three.
Learning some self-soothing skills, however made the difference between giving up and doing what I could.   Moreover, in time, what I learned to stay calm in my own life transferred into my Emotional Fitness Training programs.


Reality versus Make Believe

Young children have a strong ability to be in the moment and to become the persons or things they imagine or  pretend to be. Good and bad.

Good because pretending is a pathway to becoming. Bad because pretending can become a way of life and the self gets lost. How can a parent help a child find the balance?


Mental health aka Emotional Fitness demands the ability to code reality and to find comfort when reality is not to our liking.  Doing so is a growth process.

The ability to pretend and be one with pretending protects a young child from pain and fears that might overwhelm.  This is often why when a child seems to be playing during times of trauma, parents think the child  is not suffering.

What to do? Stay aware of age and stage and be with the child’s ability to deal with reality. For example:

  • The younger the child, the more the child’s feelings of the moment are in control.
  • Help begin coding by pointing out make believe stuff versus real life stuff while accepting the child’s point of view. Label play and make believe as pretending or imaging. Do so matter of factly.
  • The appearance of night terrors marks the brain’s growing awareness that life brings bad times. Don’t wake the child, let the brain do its work.
  • The terrible twos or “Me do” stage marks the child’s awareness of personal weakness and a simultaneous need for self empowerment. Allow as much choice as possible, but also enforce rules dealing with  safety and respect for self and others.
  • Somewhere around the age of six of seven the child’s ability to think shifts from feelings of the moment determining reality to a greater ability to step out of the box of feeling and better code reality. This is why cultures either send children to school or to tend flocks or care for younger siblings.  Reality coding at this point depends on what is seen, touched, tasted, and capable of hands on manipulation.    Surrounding voices add to the thoughts about reality, but the child’s personal experience trumps all. Thought is also limited to one or two ideas at a time.
  • Adolescence brings another major shift; instead of being bound by personal experience or only one or two ideas, thinking explodes and a hundred things become possible.  This is why many adolescence’s become interested in the occult or seem determined to challenge the thinking of adults.  Best advice for dealing with this age: don’t take the challenges personally encourage exploration of ideas; hold to important rules but otherwise let go and let life take over teaching what matters.

Stay strong

This blog post was inspired by this Word Press Daily Prompt: The Great Pretender Are you full of confidence or have you ever suffered from Imposter Syndrome? Tell us all about it.

In terms of pretending to be who you are not, it is a skill that serves well, as long as the pretend self does not submerge the real self.  An ability that increases with development.

Parents can aid that development by teaching respect for others aka teaching manners.

If you are new to the idea of emotional fitness exercises visit this blog page: Easy Emotional Fitness Exercises to get started  improving your emotional intelligence.

Thank you all for all you do to care and share with others. Doing a little matters a lot.


Links of Importance



“Just Do It” But Hope for A Little Bit of Luck

As a cranky old lady I worry that we are leading our children astray on what leads to success. Hard work? Yes. Dreams? Yes. “A little bit of luck.” Definitely!

parenting thoughts

From the goodness of our hearts, we want to believe anyone can do anything if they only dream big and work hard.  When it comes to our children we want them to have confidence and a drive to succeed. We think encouraging pursuit of their dreams matters most.

Brute fact: Luck is part of success. Good luck or bad luck, both matter.

Jerome Kagan, Harvard researcher into how people become who they become, believes at least eight factors matter.  Those factors: Temperament, sibling order, who you want to be like (identifications), parental behavior, school and social success, community size,  historical events of adolescence, and chance.

Think of chance or luck as what we do not control. Then review Kagan’s list and you will realize chance plays a part in each item.

Oprah used to say, “If I can do it anyone can.”

Not true. Luck was on her side in three very important ways.  One way was being born with a very good brain which lead to school success and social success. The second way involved the historical era she grew up in; segregation had ended and opportunities for blacks has opened in many fields.  Had she been born fifty years early a different world would have held her back. Finally, she started her childhood in a small farming community.

What can a parent do? Here are my tips.

parenting tips

Tip one: The younger your child, the more s/he believes dreams come true.  Theorists refer to this as the Age of Magical Thinking. Neither promote nor fight the child’s hopes. Promoting raises expectations too high; fighting doesn’t work and just drives the dreams underground or worse decreases the child’s confidence.

Tip two: Stress trying, working hard, dreaming big, and the need for luck equally.

Tip three: Support talents but also not for winning medals but for the pleasure found in pursuing what you are good at.

Tip four: Social success comes from treating others respectfully and that means having good manners. Social success also comes from self-confidence and that is why I suggest all children take karate training with a Peace Dojo.

Tip five: Help you child see failure as an opportunity to learn how to stay strong when life does not go your way.


Remind yourself and your child that luck cannot  be controlled, but comes and goes; good luck is a gift to cherish; bad luck something to wait out.  You will be strengthened and your strength will strengthen your child.

If you are new to the idea of emotional fitness exercises visit this blog page: Easy Emotional Fitness Exercises to get started  improving your emotional intelligence.

Thank you all for all you do to care and share with others. Doing a little matters a lot.


This post was inspired by this WordPress Daily Prompt: Que Sera Sera Do you believe in fate or do you believe you can control your own destiny? My answer: I believe in both.