Learning Love of All

Love and hate are learned. What do you teach your children?  I teach love.  I also teach the right to defend yourself when physically attacked. But love is first.

You've got to be taught to hate.

Parenting thoughts and tips

Human nature is such that we fear what is different.  If that fear gets linked to  individual hurts that are  internal one, hatred brews. Here are five common  examples of what I mean by internal hurts.

  1. You judge yourself as less smart, less strong, less talented than a person of difference.
  2. You have less wealth than a person of a difference.
  3. Your view of your higher power is challenged by theirs.
  4. A person of difference beats you in a race, a game.
  5. A person of difference seems more respected by others than you feel respect you.

Hatred brews more easily when the voices around you promote hatred and join hands with your personal hurt. The more voices preaching hate, the easier it is to justify your hate.

Some cultures raise their children on hatred of difference. Some do it directly.  Go here to see  what one group teaches its children. Others do it less directly. How? Think of any group that says those who believe differently are damned and doomed to spend eternity in hell. Also think of media messages that promote competition or divisiveness.

I think of the Long Island Railroad mass killer Colin Ferguson as someone whose hatred festered because of failed dreams, personal hurts, the slings and arrows of thoughtless other people, and of the preachings of hatred. Born in Jamicae he came to the USA expecting to find great success, freedom and tolerance. He did not find success, he found racism, and heard the preachings of hate groups. It is a testimony to the goodness of most people that meeting with the same conditions, they do not turn murderous.

What can a parent do to foster tolerance?

  1. Root out prejudice in your heart.
  2. Root out prejudice in your family
  3. Root out prejudice in your religion
  4. Root out prejudice in you country.
  5. Teach your children critical thinking skills.

To remind yourself of the importance of learning love, download todays free  poster coach about learning love and post it where you and your children will see it.

Stay strong

The more you have been taught to hate, the harder it will be to learn love and to teach your children to let go of the hatred of difference.  Nevertheless, if your children are going to survive and enjoy a good life, the world must learn love.  Make working to teach love one of your life’s missions.  Improving your self soothing skills will also help.

Thank you for all you do, enjoy and be grateful for all you have been given, practice kindness, like, share or comment.



This post relates to this DAILY PROMPT : Object Lesson – Sherlock Holmes had his pipe. Dorothy had her red shoes. Batman had his Batmobile. If we asked your friends what object they most immediately associate with you, what would they answer?

I would hope mine would be the peace symbol.


 IMAGE BY Emotional Fitness Training, Inc.  Free download.

Teaching Children To Think

“Why didn’t you think?” How often have those words passed your lips. Lots, I bet. Thinking, an #emotionalintelligence skill, does not come naturally.

Not if you are a kid; kids need to be taught to think.

Not only do kids have to be taught to think, their brains have to develop to the point where they can think realistically and deeply.

Here is a politically incorrect research finding: From thirty to seventy per cent of all people across all countries and all cultures cannot think deeply or what the gurus call abstractly. When you routinely think  some  of the people around you are stupid, most likely you are just a bit more capable of deeper thought.  Those around you are not stupid, but are also not deep thinkers.

Parenting Thoughts

A great deal of emphasis is placed in the advice handed out to #parents about developing a child’s ability to think critically meaning deeply or abstractly. That is not bad news.  But what is bad is that too many parents, teachers, and gurus are going around without understanding how children think.

Parents and #teachers must be attuned to  a child’s age and stage,  and what that means in terms of  the child’s ability to learn something. Not doing so  diminishes the  ability to learn or stay invested in learning. How?

Mark Katz, author of the book On Playing A Poor Hand Well, works with learning disabled children.  He makes the point that not being able to do what adults demand you do exposes a child to trauma, and trauma shuts the brain down. A shut down brain is closed to learning.

I’ll bet you my winning lottery ticket you’ve experienced that kind of trauma.  Go back into your memory book for a time you got frozen with fear. Happens to all of  us at one time or another.  Afraid of large barking dogs? I am willing to bet one came at you and scared you so you could not run.  Maybe you have a scar to prove it.  Afraid of public speaking. I am also willing to bet, you got asked to answer a question in public that shut down your brain and left you wanting to sink through the floor in embarrassment. Research shows that shut down is a survival tool and built into our instincts. That is why people faint, possums play dead, and people who pretend to be dead sometimes survive animal attacks.  Sad to say, however, like most of our instincts, this one can work overtime and become a liability.


What can you do?  Here are some quick tips to get your started.

Tip one: The first and most important thing is to take a crash course in the how age and stage relates to a child’s ability to think realistically. Here is mine. It begins as language begins to develop.

  1. Toddling through preschool: Fairy Tale Thinking.  The child believes toys are real, thoughts are real, the people on movie or tv screens are real, dreams are real. We encourage  such thinking when we promote Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, Tinker Bell, Ghosts and Goblins.
  2. About six or a bit later: Personal Knowledge Thinking. The child stops believing in most fairy tale thinking and starts believing in what the gurus call the concrete. That means what the child has personally experienced plays the biggest role; however, what the voices of the grownups in the child’s world teach and preach also play a part.
  3. From the early teens onward: Deep Thinking.  As the teens approach, more and more youth become able to think about personal knowledge and compare it to other people’s knowledge.  This is essentially what abstract thinking is about – comparing your thoughts with differing thoughts.  If your child suddenly hates all you do or does not want you to appear in public with you, that is a sign abstract thought is developing.  Like a new convert, such teens might over react and dismiss all former teachings. Hopefully, however,  in time your child’s  deep thinking will reach an even higher level and  not automatically dismiss other former ideas.

Tip two: Proper expectations. The reason you need to be attuned to the age and stage information is to expect the best of your child while not asking for the impossible.  Dealing with Fairy Tale Thinking is a good example of navigating this balancing act. You don’t want to take the fun out of Fairy Tale thinking, but you do want to lay the ground work for more realistic Personal Knowledge Thinking when the time comes.  The simple of act of saying “Tinker Bell is make-believe” or “Santa Claus is a happy myth” or “Dreams are your imagination at work” plows the ground for the time when your child suddenly realizes such things are not reality based.

If you see a child does not get your level of thought, acknowledging that children and grownups think at different levels also helps.

Finally, asking a child struggling with something how they explain it or what they think will help is always a good strategy.  One of my favorite stories about my childen is   when asked how to keep the Night Monsters away, one of my sons who was three at the time, asked for my perfume to be sprayed on his pillow cases. That smell made him think I was in the room, and that made him feel safe.


Parenting is one of the hardest jobs in the universe.  Today’s parents have in harder in many ways than when we all lived in smaller towns and everyone accepted responsibility for raising children and helping parents.  The village is gone.  Proof, the outrage some feel if a teacher, child care worker, in-law, or other well-meaning person corrects their child.

What to do? First,  practice  lots of self soothing skills.

Second,  teacb your children others have the right to correct them in some situations.  Here are the situations that I think all adults have the right to correct a child.   Children need to respect others when  in churches, temples, synagogues, mosques, stores, the mall, movies, friends houses and even around family.  My hearing means loud play hurts my ears; that is something my grandchildren need to learn and then to be quieter around me.

Thank you for all you do, enjoy and be grateful for all you have been given, practice kindness, like, share or comment.



This post relates to this Word Press Daily Prompt:  Now? Later! We all procrastinate. Website, magazine, knitting project, TV show, something else — what’s your favorite procrastination destination?

I suggest in this post that a bit of procrastination about trying to teach Deep Thinking Skills serves children better than too much pressure to think at a level beyond them..

I am a professional procrastinator. Proof, one of my favorite EFTI poster coaches remains this one:  http://eftistore.com/downloads/procrastinate/


IMAGE BY: www.cafepress.com

Walking to Calmness

To strengthen a child’s #emotional intelligence, teach self-soothing skills,  Walking meditations are a good start.

Mott Haven Labyrinth

Emotional fitness thoughts

I first walked a labyrinth at the Quaker Meeting House in Purchase, New York.  What impressed me most was how the children loved it. When I had some money to spend in the  mental health programs I directed in Mott Haven, the meanest part of the South Bronx, I built labyrinths.

That’s a picture of one I built on donated land behind a housing project . Well, I didn’t actually build it or any; I paid to have them built. The one above was one my staff, the families and children we partnered with, and Ariane Burgess, our labyrintista build.

If you saw the movie Bonfire of the Vanities or have read Jonathan Kozol’s book Amazing Grace, you know about how bad things were in Mott Haven not so many years ago.  I wanted  those who had to live, particularly the children, to add to their strength by learning lots of what I call emotional fitness skills.

Self-soothing is one of six skills that help strengthen emotional intelligence. It is the  most immediately helpful to all the skills.

I saw labyrinths as a way to interested both grownups and kids in meditation and not just the families I worked with, but all those living in Mott Haven. I had the grandiose idea of making Mott Haven the labyrinth capital of the  USA or at least of the New York area.  I wanted to bring tourists to a part of New York City I had learned to love.

What is a labyrinth?

A labyrinth is not a maze.  Mazes are designed to confuse and frustrate with blind turns and dead ends.  And, yes getting safely in and out of one does provide a rush of pleasure.

However, a labyrinth has no dead ends, nothing to confuse, or frustrate. You walk in the entrance,  then you walk to the center, and when you are ready to leave,  you walk out.

At the time, I was working for the Visiting Nurse Service of New York (VNSNY) and directing several mental health programs including a family support team and respite team.  Those two were the programs I involved in  building the labyrinths.

As you see, the one above was built of re-cycled logs and was designed to serve as a small arena. Performers, mostly story tellers, did their thing in the center, while their audience sat on the logs.

My Mott Haven programs were part of a large federal grant called The Mott Haven Project.  The grant sought to involve various agencies in providing  what the grant makers called a System of Care (SOC) for seriously emotionally troubled children.

The grant gave me some money to use not for individual families, but to improve the community. The grant also linked me to a number of community activists. One was a labyrintista, Ariane Burgess.  She designed and built the labyrinths that I was able to sprinkle around Mott Haven.  We called our labyrinth programs the Camino de Paz Project.

Here’s another picture  of one of the labyrinths.  This was a temporary one put up at a health fair.


In time, I also was able to get two portable canvas labyrinths made.  These were taken to health fairs and school fairs.

Although I was very pleased to have brought labyrinths to the community of Mott Haven, once I was no longer  directing the VNSNY Mott Haven program, interest in the Camino de Paz project slowly died.  Living in Colorado now, I have no idea if any remain.  I think a more permanent one was build on a housing project play ground. I hope that still stands. A plan to build a permanant labyrinth at Brooke Park died.

My big dream did not come true, but I take comfort in knowing that at the time, people found a bit of peace through the Camino de Pas Project. The peace in one heart moves the world toward peace for all.

One aspect of the Mott Haven Labyrinth Project does live on and may do so for years, but not in Mott Haven.  Where then? In New York City’s Battery Park.  I wanted more for Mott Haven, but do find some satisfaction in knowing that in a small way I contributed to this more permanent meditation path.


Labyrinths are more common than they once were. Plan a family trip to one.  As always learn what you want to teach first.  Here is a link to more about walking meditations.

When I am angry, I use a variation I call Stumping Out Anger. I walk with my anger, stumping, making angry face, tense body and angry fists.  I  say to myself “Take that” with every step.

In time, I find I am not stumping so hard, Then I take some calming breaths, make soft face, strong body and change my self talk to “It’s all all right.”  It is you know, if not for me for someone else or a higher power’s bigger plan, We all can only do so much, but if we do what we can when we can our efforts to make the world better are not in vain.

Thank you for all you do, practice kindness, like, share or comment.

A bit of blog business.  I am on the road visiting friends and family.  I am trying to post a blog a week.  Not sure even that will be possible, so if you don’t see one from me for a while, know I am remembering what matters and that means enjoying the company of those I care about and who care about me.

As always, thank you for all you do particularly for liking, commenting and sharing those of my posts you find helpful.



#emotionalintelligence poster coach teaching soft face/strong body. #parent advice

This post was inspired by this Word Press Daily Prompt  If you could clone one element from another city you’ve visited — a building, a cultural institution, a common street food, etc. — and bring it back to your own hometown, what would it be? My answer of course: Labyrinths.



Fear conquered builds courage. Adults watch scary movies for their survival relief. Kid do the same. Fear conquered strengthens Emotional Intelligence.


A child of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Maurice Sendak understood little kids loved to walk on the wild side in the safety of their parent’s arms, just as many grown up kids thrill to the scary things in adult books, tv, movies.

The need to conquer seems inborn. In one way or another we test courage.  This  explains the popularity of roller coasters, fast driving, sky diving, and all other risky adventures we volunteer for.   Exposing ourselves to such scary and  safe, adventures, however, only strengthens our emotional intelligence and builds courage if we stay safe and unhurt, something parents need to remember.


The following  two tips expand a bit on the above.

Tip one:   Using rating scales to control  the fear factor. Rating scales are a way of helping a child let you know something is too scary.Too scary can be traumatizing and that harms a child in many ways.

Start teaching such a scale by sharing your rating when you see the child is just beginning  to get scared.  Try this three point rating.  Fun scary, can handle it  scary, and too scary.  As you child learns to count you can add numbers.

Tip two:  We all use any number of self-soothing skills to deal with fears.  Here is one that is easy to learn and to teach to a child.

Following the Golden Rule matters most.

You can start teaching this to a child as early as six or seven months. Hold the child in your lap sitting up, facing out and leaning  against your chest.  Have your arms around the child holding him or her securing, but loosely.   As you start tensing your muscles and breathing in also tighten your hold on the child. As you hold your breath and the tension, hum a little. As you release the tension and breathe out, loosen your hold on the child. Then breathe normally.

As the child begins to acquire language say, “Lets take a calming breath”  when you start OOMing and at the end of each OMM.  See the links for other ideas for teaching children to breathe calm.


Keep in mind that children vary in their ability to handle  fears. A shy child will need more help than most and a very bold child may need you to create a bit of caution about some things. Parenting is not an easy job. Fortunately, most parents do a more than good enough job and most kids build courage as they grow and understand the world better and better.

Thank you for all you do, your support, please continue to like, comment, or share these posts.


This post was inspired by this DAILY PROMPT One day, your favorite piece of art — a famous painting or sculpture, the graffiti next door — comes to life. What happens next?  I thought of Maurice Sendac’s scary monsters.