Category Archives: Special Kids/Parents

Ten Tips to Solve School Struggles.

Did your beloved child start off the school full of excitement but now grumbles and groans at the thought; or worse cuts totally out? Read on.

Cartoon "Child hates school."

I love to watch the line of first graders on the first day of school. All except a few shy ones wear  happy faces and are eager to enter the halls of learning.

Contrast that to drop out rates  of teens. Two problems dominate  the path to hating school: bullying and failure to learn.

I loved school, and am what is called a life long learning, this despite several struggles that often lead to hating school. Those struggles?  Bullying, and having two learning disabilities (LD). All living creatures are programmed to avoid hurt.  If something about school hurts and is not counted balanced by pleasure, resistance to school grows.

I was not physically bullied but was shunned and friendless during elementary school. Shunning is a subtle form of bullying. Why was I shunned? I changed schools in the second grade and was the first newcomer to my class. Friendship groups were already established and I was not included.  Exclusion from the in groups hurts, hurts more when it is accompanied by more obvious bullying.

As for my LD struggles, these were not formally diagnosed. LDs were not recognized as impeding learning until after I had graduated high school. My sons were dx with them in the late 79s; that was when I realized mine were part of my families genetic mix.

Here are some thoughts about what kept me a lifelong learner.

1. My parents emphasized trying over outcomes.

2. My mother branded my brain with the words “Nothing ventured nothing gained.

3. I am a bit brighter than the average bear as the saying goes. Not politically correct, but a fact of life that promotes school success and love of learning in some. Note the words “in some” and think about this. There are many types of brightness.

Howard Gardner, the guru of multiple intelligence, notes these types of  intelligence:

  1. Linguistic or word smart.

2. Logical or mathematical smart.

3. Music smart.

 4. Spatial or picture smart.

 5. kKnesthetic or body smart.

 6. Interpersonal or people smart.

7. intrapersonal or self-awareness  smart.

8. Naturalistic or nature smart.

9. Existential smart: the capacity to tackle deep questions about human existence, such as the meaning of life, why do we die, and how did we get here.

10. Pedagogical intelligence, the ability to teach.

Gardener recently claimed he was no longer in the business of naming more intelligences and was leaving that up to the next generation of researchers.

We all have more or less of each type of intelligence.. Some of us can do math; some cannot. I cannot. One of my learning disabilities is Dyscalculia or Math Dsylexia. I cannot do the simplest addition or subtraction because the numbers jump off the page or reverse; moreover, I cannot remember number facts. But I can do logic. Probably explains why I got A;s in Algebra, but Cs and Ds in all other math courses.

My other learning disability is dysgraphia which involves problems with writing, grammar and spelling) kept me uncertain and also humble.Also explains why no matter how much I edit, small mistakes are always there. Drives many readers away, but not all.

  4. I was blessed with teachers who saw my intelligence and built on it while down playing my weaknesses.

5.  My two learning disabilities  brought mega uncertainty into my life. Why was dealing with the  uncertainty a good thing?

Jerome Kagan, guru for understanding people,  notes that the  desire to overcome uncertainty motivates us almost as much as the need for food or the desire to have sex.  He also notes  uncertainty can push us to keep going or to get rid of it by blaming others or ourselves or just not trying.

I was bright enough to have success in many areas, but despair overcame me in terms of math.

Why is humbleness good? For me it meant knowing, I did not know all the answers and had to look to others instead of relying only on my own knowledge or beliefs.

So what Emotional Fitness Training Tips to I have to improve your child’s lifelong ability to keep learning. They are summed up in this poster coach.

let learn

More parenting tips

In addition to the  above, the Following tips help parent’s keep love of learning in their children.

Parenting Tip One: Find your child’s strengths and support them. 

Parenting Tip Two: Make it clear every one has both strengths and weakness.

Parenting Tip Three: Allow as much free play time as you can manage particularly for the pre-schooler. 

Parenting Tip Four: Be alert to your child’s learning style. I learn with a gentle distraction in the background; I learn best by reading. If I am listening to a lecture, I most take notes. One of my sons learns best by listening without taking notes. This link takes you to a good article about learning styles. 

Parenting Tip Five: If your child starts resisting school, get serious about seeig if  bullying or a learning disability are lurking and doing damage to your child’s life. 

Go here for information and links about about bullying. 

Go here for help with Learning Disabilities. 

Parenting Tip Six: Related to LD’s fear of failure can also lead to  problems taking test. My ebook Tame the Test Anxiety Monster help when performance anxiety is a problem. 

Parenting Tip Seven: Develop your and your  child’s self soothing skills.  Buy my eBook.  Self-Soothing to Create Calm in Your Life.   The exercises in the book will relax you more than a latte and cost less.

Parenting Tip Eight: Make sure your child knows what matters.  Most negative feelings are responses to things that really do not matter in the long run. Being cut off in traffic, breaking a fingernail, not being able to buy the newest gadget, someone else’s rudeness—these are just not worth getting upset about.

What really matters? Wise men across all ages have taught what matter is being kind, caring, and fair. Translated into advice for parents, this means teach your children to practice kindness by stressing that manners are all about kindness. The earlier you teach manners the better.

Parenting tip nine: Learn to hold Successful Family Meetings. Well run family meetings teach important life skills including manners, how to negotiate, and problem solve; promote positive togetherness; and ease the stress of parenting.

Another of my books teaches you the art of making family meetings successful. Here’s the link to that book. 

Parenting Tip Ten: Strengthen yours and your child’s self soothing skills.  And yes I have an eBook to help with that: Self-soothing to Create Calm in Your Life. All my books cost less than a movie ticket and last longer.


Sharing is caring; so is liking, or commenting.

Thank you and work at staying strong until next time,. I work hard to do the same as life is often difficult, but exercises like this one lets me find the good.


This post was not inspired by this WordPress Daily Prompt  but pertains to it: Lazy Learners -Is there something you’ve always wanted to learn but haven’t gotten around to? What is it and what’s stopping you from mastering the skill? Thanks for the prompt suggestion, BasicallyBeyondBasic!


These links are for those not familiar with Emotional Intelligence or the idea of Emotional Fitness.

Easy Emotional Fitness Exercises (
The five components of Emotional Intelligence ( Intelligence (
An Emotional Fitness Program for Parents(


Give Your Child An Emotional Life Saver – A Pet

A WordPress Daily Prompt asked “What was your favorite plaything as a child?” Mine was not a thing, mine was my dog. Lady was her name. Picture of a dog

I was a shy and lonely child with few friends. Then my mother decided the family needed a dog. She found Lady at the local pound. I found a best friend and was never lonely again.

The post also asked how your childhood play thing remained part of your adult life. I have never been without a pet since Lady became mine.  Most recently, as aging has deadened my hearing, I have become an advocate of service dogs.

Here’s mine:punky

As we were exploring getting a service dog I discovered many were scamming people looking for Service Dogs. For example, I was told by one trainer, he would need 50 hours at $50 an hour to train one for us. Nonsense. Not for a Hearing Assisted fog.

I also discovered, I could buy a badge saying my dog was a service dog on the internet for a whole lot less. Many people do that so they can travel free with their non-service dog. Not honest and a threat to those who really need a service dog. .

Here’s the down and dirty. For seeing eye dogs it does take hours of training. The same for Guard Dogs. But all I and most people need to claim their dog is a Service Dog is a Doctor’s note saying one is needed and way.

That did not satisfy me.   A bit too loose. A well-trained service dog starts by being well-trained and then being socialized to be in public with the best of manners. He or she should also be trained to do three things the person cannot do on their own.

There are service dogs do amazing things. Most of you know about Service Dogs for the Blind, but there are numerous others. The ten most common are Hearing Assistant, Diabetic or Seizure Alert Dogs, Mobility Assistant Dogs and that include Large Dogs trained to help a person’s balance. Mental Health Assistant dogs can be trained to soothe and calm panic attacks and to disrupt impulsive agressive behaviors.  Some also speacialize in helping socialize children.

Lady was not certified, but she moved me away from my shyness, and out into the world.

parenting tips

Parenting tip one: Read this Wiki How  to learn more about service dogs and how to train one.

Parenting tip two. Get your dog from a shelter. Some breeders are scamming the public by charging more than is reasonable by claiming their dogs are bred to be service dogs. Going to a shelter rescues a dog and the people at the shelter will help you find a dog with a temperament suitable for Service Dog Training.

An added bonus – Shelter dogs are already trained and often neutered. We got our Punky as a rescue dog and he was house broken, trained to sit, stay, come, fetch, and heel. He also had all his shots and was neutered.

Parenting tip three: Don’t get a puppy.  Look for a dog between nine months and two years.


Remember sharing is caring and the easiest way to practice kindness is to share this post if you found it helpful.  Share it even if it doesn’t speak to you, it will speak to some. Didn’t like it?  Comment and tell me why and how to improve.



These links are for those not familiar with Emotional Intelligence or the idea of Emotional Fitness.


This is an extension of a yesterday’s EFTI post in which I talked about my personal struggle with dysgraphia. I promised parents a bit more today.

Not if you have dygraphia.

Not if you have dysgraphia. Moreover, that is what makes this little known learning disability hurt so much. The sufferer only knows when criticized and or his or her brain decides to show the error.

The simplest way to tell you all about this learning disability is to quote the experts.  You can go here to read about what the National Center for Learning Disabilities says about dysgraphia, but I will also quote what I think is  most important here:

Dysgraphia is a learning disability that affects writing, which requires a complex set of motor and information processing skills. Dysgraphia makes the act of writing difficult. It can lead to problems with spelling, poor handwriting and putting thoughts on paper. People with dysgraphia can have trouble organizing letters, numbers and words on a line or page. This can result partly from:

Visual-spatial difficulties: trouble processing what the eye sees

Language processing difficulty: trouble processing and making sense of what the ear hears

As with all learning disabilities (LD), dysgraphia is a lifelong challenge, although how it manifests may change over time. A student with this disorder can benefit from specific accommodations in the learning environment. Extra practice learning the skills required to be an accomplished writer can also help.

What Are the Warning Signs of Dysgraphia?

Just having bad handwriting doesn’t mean a person has dysgraphia. Since dysgraphia is a processing disorder, difficulties can change throughout a lifetime. However since writing is a developmental process—children learn the motor skills needed to write, while learning the thinking skills needed to communicate on paper—difficulties can also overlap.

Dysgraphia: Warning Signs By Age

Young Children

Trouble With:

Tight, awkward pencil grip and body position

Avoiding writing or drawing tasks

Trouble forming letter shapes

Inconsistent spacing between letters or words

Poor understanding of uppercase and lowercase letters

Inability to write or draw in a line or within margins

Tiring quickly while writing

School-Age Children

Trouble With:

Illegible handwriting

Mixture of cursive and print writing

Saying words out loud while writing

Concentrating so hard on writing that comprehension of what’s written is missed

Trouble thinking of words to write

Omitting or not finishing words in sentences

Teenagers and Adults

Trouble With:

Trouble organizing thoughts on paper

Trouble keeping track of thoughts already written down

Difficulty with syntax structure and grammar

Large gap between written ideas and understanding demonstrated through speech

What Strategies Can Help?

There are many ways to help a person with dysgraphia achieve success. Generally strategies fall into three main categories:

Accommodations: providing alternatives to written expression

Modifications: changing expectations or tasks to minimize or avoid the area of weakness

Remediation: providing instruction for improving handwriting and writing skills

Each type of strategy should be considered when planning instruction and support. A person with dysgraphia will benefit from help from both specialists and those who are closest to the person. Finding the most beneficial type of support is a process of trying different ideas and openly exchanging thoughts on what works best.

Although teachers and employers are required by law to make “reasonable accommodations” for individuals with learning disabilities, they may not be aware of how to help. Speak to them about dysgraphia and explain the challenges faced as a result of this learning disability.

Here are examples of how to teach individuals with dysgraphia to overcome some of their difficulties with written expression.

Early Writers

Be patient and positive, encourage practice and praise effort. Becoming a good writer takes time and practice.

Use paper with raised lines for a sensory guide to staying within the lines.

Try different pens and pencils to find one that’s most comfortable.

Practice writing letters and numbers in the air with big arm movements to improve motor memory of these important shapes. Also practice letters and numbers with smaller hand or finger motions.

Encourage proper grip, posture and paper positioning for writing. It’s important to reinforce this early as it’s difficult for students to unlearn bad habits later on.

Use multi-sensory techniques for learning letters, shapes and numbers. For example, speaking through motor sequences, such as “b” is “big stick down, circle away from my body.”

Introduce a word processor on a computer early; however do not eliminate handwriting for the child. While typing can make it easier to write by alleviating the frustration of forming letters, handwriting is a vital part of a person’s ability to function in the world.

Young Students

Encourage practice through low-stress opportunities for writing. This might include writing letters or in a diary, making household lists, or keeping track of sports teams.

Allow use of print or cursive—whichever is more comfortable.

Use large graph paper for math calculation to keep columns and rows organized.

Allow extra time for writing assignments.

Begin writing assignments creatively with drawing, or speaking ideas into a tape recorder.

Alternate focus of writing assignments—put the emphasis on some for neatness and spelling, others for grammar or organization of ideas.

Explicitly teach different types of writing—expository and personal essays, short stories, poems, etc.

Do not judge timed assignments on neatness and spelling.

Have students proofread work after a delay—it’s easier to see mistakes after a break.

Help students create a checklist for editing work—spelling, neatness, grammar, syntax, clear progression of ideas, etc.

Encourage use of a spell checker—speaking spell checkers are available for handwritten work.

Reduce amount of copying; instead, focus on writing original answers and ideas.

Have student complete tasks in small steps instead of all at once.

Find alternative means of assessing knowledge, such as oral reports or visual projects.

Teenagers and Adults

Many of these tips can be used by all age groups. It is never too early or too late to reinforce the skills needed to be a good writer.

Provide tape recorders to supplement note taking and to prepare for writing assignments.

Create a step-by-step plan that breaks writing assignments into small tasks (see below).

When organizing writing projects, create a list of keywords that will be useful.

Provide clear, constructive feedback on the quality of work, explaining both the strengths and weaknesses of the project, commenting on the structure as well as the information that is included.

Use assistive technology such as voice-activated software if the mechanical aspects of writing remain a major hurdle.

 For more on dysgraphia, check out these 10 dysgraphia resources.

Parenting thoughts and tips

All children want to do well in what matters to the adults in their world.  That means all children are motivated to succeed in school. Just look at the kids lined up to go to kindergarten or the first grade and 99% of them will have happy faces.

Fast forward and with every year more and more kids will not be eager.  Easy to understand.

Why because hope is dying and school is becoming more and more painful.

As Mark Twain says, “The cat, having sat upon a hot stove lid, will not sit upon a hot stove lid again. But he won’t sit upon a cold stove lid, either”

When it comes to children, all try lots longer than cats to figure out how to avoid pain. The younger the child, the more  s/he will keep trying to figure out how to please adults.  Hope of good results is part of the young child’s make up.  But in time what the expert calls “Learned Helplessness” set in.

In addition to dsygraphia, I suffer from dyscalculia.  That means trouble with math.  That is where learned helplessness has its hold on me.  I don’t do any math.  I’d rather trust the bank’s accounting than mine. No way I can balance books and even calculators do not help. Nine times out of ten, I punch in the wrong numbers. Hate when I have to punch in a telephone number or any other number beyond four digits. Four I can manage. Anyway onward with dysgraphia. I am less hopeless about my dysgraphia. Probably for a number of  reasons.

One, for as long as I can remember I wanted to be a writer. My father was a newspaper reporter and also published his own weekly newspaper.  I adored him and that meant I wanted to do what he did.

Then as explained previously, many teachers saw not the mistakes but my content which was apparently in their eyes was worthier than many others students.  Also testing was not so mandatory.

I had a mother who pushed trying and worried less about success or  mistakes.

The computer’s spell and grammar check made becoming a writer possible.

I do not have dyslexia and I loved to read and am a fast reader. As the pundits about writing say, if you want to write: “Read, read, read, and read some more.” I still read two or three books a week in addition to all the reading I do on-line.

Finally, my life as a foster parent and therapist caught the eye of sales minded editors. I had something to say from a unique position.  Lucky me and luck does play a part in all successes.

Learned Helplessness did not rule me in terms of writing as it did with my math problems.

Read this carefully: Once a child decides nothing s/he can do will get good grades or compliments or even an internal “I got it right” message, the desire to keep trying decays and eventually dies.

The harder it is for the child to do what is asked, the more quickly the will to try fades. Then all sorts of diversionary strategies take over: withdrawal, clowning, running away, drawing negative attention to yourself, and aggressiveness are among the most common.

Jerome Kagan, human behavior guru sees the above strategies as ways to deal with the pain of uncertainty or not knowing and hence not feeling in control of yourself or the world.  He believes this almost as painful as unmet survival needs.

In my work with children, I saw three stages to reaching the decision that nothing you could do made a difference in meeting yours, another’s, or life’s  demands.

  • Stage one: Hoping and trying. Thinking as the pundits say, if you keep trying you will get there.
  • Stage two: Doubting you can “just do it”  but still a bit hopeful but doubt and feelings of shame start to intrude.  Trying becomes more and more painful if success is not part of the mix.
  • Stage three: Absolutely certain you will not succeed. Despair and anger set in as well as the need to defend yourself from the pain of failure. That leads to the strategies listed above.

This struggle with meeting societal or parental demands takes many forms.  I first spotted it when dealing with Good Kids Doing Bad Things.  Then the struggle was between being a good kid and a bad kid.  I think at least one of the kids engineering the Columbine killings had decided he was all bad, so doing the worse he could do became possible.

We all face that struggle for we all have thoughts and desires that lead to bad as well as god behavior.  Many of us gravitate toward religion to help us stay on what our hearts know is the right track. Most of us succeed, but when we hear about a fallen priest, preacher or rabbi, I think, s/he was trying to be good, but needed more help.

Back to tips about learning disabilities.

Parenting tip one: When a child begins avoiding school or homework with any strategy described above, worry.  Worry, but take the time to see if the problem is consistent and is eroding both school efforts and peace in the home.

parenting tip two: While taking the time to do the above, learn a bit about learning disabilities in general.

Parenting tip three: If the signs of a disorder last consistently for six weeks, talk to some experts. Make your child’s teacher one; make a trusted physician another, find some parent who have been there and done that. All will probably have different views.

Parenting tip four:  Be prepared for disagreement and easy assurances all is right particular when talking to relatives and friends about your worries but also from the professional. Often such assurances are valid, but also often they reflect the human need to be kind.

Parenting tip five: Get the child’s view of what is going on.  As children often think they are to blame for all and every problem in the world.  This makes it hard for them to share openly about concerns, so go slow.  In fact, a child or a teen make talk more openly with someone besides a parent.  An aunt or uncle might be an ally in your quest to learn what the child is feeling. Don’t forget youth leaders, advocates, or similar folk.

Parenting tip six: Think of finding a good  therapist or other source of support for you and the child.  Start with you and think carefully about what a good therapist means.  I think it means someone with knowledge I do not possess, who can relate to me and my needs, sets a clear contract using SMART goals, measures outcomes and  is not doctrinaire but has a wide variety of tools to help at his or her command.

Parent advocates were mentioned earlier as were youth advocates.  These can be extremely helpful, but also not helpful.

Parenting tip seven: Related to finding helpers that help.  You must be your own and your child’s best advocate. That means two things. Experimenting and keeping tabs on what is working and what isn’t working. Setting some SMART Goals is the way to do this .

Parenting tip eight: Be patient.  Nothing is going to happen quickly and that is okay. Children are resilient and usually  move forward with their lives despite  problems.  That does not rule out trying to help, good help always helps and improves things better and faster than no help.

Parenting tip nine: Remember the five to one rule; five good experiences as a balancing force for every bad experience.  With my own sons, I refused to get them tutoring over the summer. Almost got me reported for educational neglect, However, the only time each son was truly happy was when school was out and I could not bear taking that away from them.

This also means making the most of what the kids do well and want to do.

Parenting tip ten: Strengthen yours and your child’s self-soothing skills. 


If you like this post share it with another.  That is practicing deliberate kindness which is an  easy Emotional Fitness Exercise .

As always, thank you for your support.




Word Press  Aug 11, 2014 Daily Prompt   New Wrinkles: You wake up one day and realize you’re ten years older than you were the previous night. Beyond the initial shock, how does this development change your life plans?

How does this fit in with todays Parents Are People Too blog. In ten years the worries of today will be old hat. For many parents age and stage bring their own rewards and challenges.  Maybe you wake up having missed the perils of a disgruntled teens or in time to enjoy a wedding or to find you have some wonderful grandchildren.  When it comes for to the future, plan for what you can and then hope for the best.


smart goals

REBLOG Life with a toddler

Was working on a post for today, but this one is so one target. My only addition is a bit of sadness that life and school and work chip away at that live in the moment okayness of the toddler and to suggest too things, play lots with your little ones so you can reawaken your happy, spontaneous inner child. If you can’t actual laugh and play with a small one; at least make sure you sing, dance, laugh or play a bit every day. It can be done and keeps you strong.