Tag Archives: Challenged Children

How to Strengthen The Ability to Deal With Sorrow

The parenting and motivational gurus push happiness. Not always good. However, good memories matter.

Good memories strengthen your #emotionalintelligence.

Turn a good memory into an Emotional Fitness Exercise. Breathe in, focus, breathe out, smile and say “Thank you.”

EMOtional Fitness Thoughts

My earliest good memory. Sitting in the sun and talking to my father, no one else was around; he was painting the picket fence that surrounded the house where I was born. I was three.

I also include among my good memories: days at the beach;  visiting the neighborhood horses with my dog Lady;  reading books at night under the covers so my parents wouldn’t know; a midnight walk as a child when my parents woke me to see the Aurora Borealis on one of their very rare visits to the Eastern United States;  my first love and I dancing at my Senior Prom; one of my aunts teaching me to crochet; finally, learning how to post during a riding lesson; and many, many more.

I can also list bad memories, but they only make me sad or mad or feel like a bad person. Not useful for the most part.

One of my complaints about talk therapy is that it goes over and over and over bad memories. That is only useful until you make some sense of them to improve your behavior by understanding your feelings better. Improving behavior can range from not hurting other living things, not seeking revenge or just feeling better about you and those around you.

Sad or bad memories come visiting on their own, and even as I typed the above, some bad memories attached themselves to my good ones. However, the more you focus on remembering the good memories, the stronger they become.

Parenting advice

Parenting Tip One: Do not go over board trying to create “Happy Times.”  Look at my good memories. Many came on their own, some in mostly quiet moments.

Moreover, the more often a good thing happens, the less special it becomes. Think the over load of birthday parties and Christmas. Too much.

I still remember my first movie “Dumbo the Flying Elephant.” With TV and Videos kids have lost the special pleasure I found in that one and in many others that were special, because movies were rare treats.

Parenting Tip Two: Work to teach your child to savor the moments of what is good. My Mom used the rationing forced on her by World War to teach me to eat mindfully with full enjoyment. How? By giving me one square of a much coveted Hersey Bar and telling me to let it melt in my mouth so I could enjoy it longer. Worked.

Parenting Tip Three: Make reaching success after a long struggle should be held in store as a good memory. That is why the trauma experts emphasize “Survivor” instead of victims.

Parenting Tip Four: Make  memory books. A memory book can just be a page or two.  Here are some get started ideas.

  1. Establish a memory box or a memory file for each family member.
  2. Keep the memory box or file where you can quickly put items for them memory book in it.
  3. Establish a routine for making memory book pages. Devote one evening a month to making memory pages. Use as a rainy day activity.  The important thing is to start making the memory book and to keep adding to it as time goes by.
  4. Establish a routine for reviewing existing memory book. Birthdays, anniversaries, New Year’s Day, graduations are all good times for gathering the family around and reviewing memory books.

Parenting Tip Five: Tough times are also good times for lr creating a page for a memory book.  Here are two examples

  1. The death of a loved one and that includes a pet.  often  a page will suffice, some basic facts, a picture, how much was loved, how much will be missed, a comforting quote.  Other times you and the child might want to create a separate memory book devoted entirely to that person. Useful when grandparents move on.
  2. Anticipating a painful change. The separation of parents and the move to a new house. Have the child take some pictures of his room, his favorite spots in the neighbor hood, friends visiting, parties or celebrations there  End it with a picture of the new home.

Parenting Tip six: Add to your good memory file as a parent during your child’s early years. Making a memory book helps. But here’s another trick: Pause each night before you head to bed and looking in on them as they sleep. Worked for me.  Then when the teen years come always end your day with a “Good night, I love you, sleep well” message.


Sharing is caring; so is liking, or commenting.

Thank you for all you do., Work at staying strong until next time,. I work hard to do the same as life is often difficult and parenting a struggle.


This post was not inspired by this WordPress Daily Prompt

By the Dots: We all have strange relationships with punctuation — do you overuse exclamation marks? Do you avoid semicolons like the plague? What type of punctuation could you never live without? Tell us all about your punctuation quirks!

However, when writing a Memory Book there is no need to try to please the grammar kings when creating a memory book. Just do it.


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

Easy Emotional Fitness Exercises (www.emotionalfitnesstraining.com
The five components of Emotional Intelligence (www.sonoma.edu)Emotional Intelligence (en.wikipedia.org)
An Emotional Fitness Program for Parents(amazon.com)




6 Tips to Avoid the Most Common Parenting Mistakes

Blame the parenting gurus if you are confused about about praise,  natural consequences, and the uses and abuses of punishment.  These tips should help.

6 Parenting tips

Parenting tip one: Stop treating children like adults.  Keep the following in mind when teaching children to obey reasonable rules. 

  1. Pre-school kids live very much in the moment. So if you yell “No”  or even spank that moment is bad; but if quickly followed by a hug and the words  “Good going” that moment is good, and so on and so on.
  2. Pre-school kids do not code reality well. Which is why adults have to keep the little one’s safe. Example, a kid wearing a super man cape who thinks s/he can fly down a flight of stairs and not get hurt.  How to help: Start early on to label things as “Make-believe” or “Fun Fantasy.” Do this with Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. The kids will not understand and the fun will go on, but you are at the same time teaching a child to figure our what is real and what is not.
  3. Thomas Phenlan’s One, Two, Three, Magic. works best when rules are being broken.
  4. Once a child can read concrete rewards for good behaviors (token system)  is useful.  Not getting a reward becomes a punishment.  Kids Making Change explains token systems so all can understand.
  5. Teens are designed to question the rules of adults. Moreover, when with peers, the best good kid can be lead astray by those breaking rules.  What helps? Being forced early on to obey reasonable rules. Then as the teen years approach allowing your children to spread their wings and learn from life. This is when the advice of the communication experts starting with Thomas Gordon’s Parent Effective Training works best. 
  6. All kids of all ages and that includes many adults needto beforceably stopped when engaged in behavior that hurts physically or is immediately dangerous.  That is when the STOP Plan works well.

The Stop Plan

Parenting tip two: keep rules simple. That is the purpose of linking all rules to the word “Respect.” The younger the child, the more some things need to be drummed into his or her little head.  To paraphrase the song: “You’ve got to taught before you are six or seven or eight not to do the things your parents hate.”

Parenting tip three: Model what you want. Most parents don’t, but for the big rules you must and you must so consistently.

Parenting tip four: Talk less and act more. The communication experts have made talking and explaining a fetish. You zone out when talked at, and so do your kids.  That is why  1-2-3 Magic  works. Three word and you take action.

Parenting tip five: Make sure the child knows the punishment for breaking a rule when being punished what rule was broken.  Amazed me as a foster parent that when asked what rule had been broken necessitating a punishment, many teens confessed to a host of other sins, but not the one I was punishing them for.  Enlightening and eventually lead to this  CARE Plan.

The CARE Plan

Parenting tip six: Reward more than punish.  Think for a minute about how often a small child hears “No.” No is important for children to hear,  but children also need to hear what they are doing well.  Why  once the “No” is obeyed, “Thank You” or “Good listening”  needs to follow and  along with a hug for the young ones and a happy face for teens.

There are other ways to make the good times rock more often than the necessary negatives.  Special times, just because I love you gifts, well placed praise, family fun and games are just a few.

More tips from the Parenting Gurus I trust: Jean Tracy  who is a fellow graduate of the Bryn Mawr School of Social Work and Social Research. This link takes you to her videos. I am jealous of her talents, amazed by every post of hers I read,  and grateful she is a friend.

Kenneth Blanchard and his One Minute Manager – meant for the busienss world but excellent advice for parents and a very quick read.

Hiam Ginott –  he started the emphasis on communication, but did not think it solved all problems.

Supper Nanny Jo Frost She does family meetings, rule setting, rule enforcement and time outs  perfectly.

Adam Katz – Dog trainer.  Dog trainers get punishment and reward better than most parenting gurus. Adam Katz is my favority on-line dog trainer. In this link he talked about how the Hippie generation – almost me – has messed up dog training. I cringe everytime I see Dogs pulling their owners around in the park instead of the owners being in control.

I often link my posts to the WordPress Daily Prompt.  Today’s suggested:  Don’t You Forget About Me – Imagine yourself at the end of your life. What sort of legacy will you leave? Describe the lasting effect you want to have on the world, after you’re gone.

I discuss this in my eBook Know Your Mission So You Can Reach Your  Goals. I think every parent’s mission, should be to be remembered as tough and loving.


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.

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.

Three Ways To Help Kids Who Stuggle with Spelling

Thsi thitw uch fo ym righting ooks like then ym rain ets its down way ith be. I have a lesser known learning disability called Dsygraphia. Painful. Cartoon about failing

When you have dysgraphia you would welcome brain surgery if it helped. Thank you Doug Savage for permission to use your cartoons.

Could not figure out what I was writing. Here’s how the first sentence should read. This is what much of my writing  looks like when my brain gets its own way with me.

I only discovered that I had dysgraphia when my sons were diagnosed with it by a very smart psychologist. I am luckier than most for my dysgraphia did not come attached to dyslexia as it often does. I think that was partly because at the time I was learning to read children were being taught to sight read. Although that could be a mistake on my part; anyway I was not taught phonics and have an awful time sounding out strange words.

PAREnting tips

Parenting tip one: Know when to start worrying. The emphasis on the importance of academic success puts great pressure on parents, teachers, and children. The wish is that all can make A’s and get into a top college and then go on to get advanced degrees and win the Nobel Prize in medicine or physics.

First reality check: the odds of anyone winning one of those Nobel Prizes is probably larger than winning a mega lottery without even buying a ticket.

Second reality check: winning the Nobel Peace prize is a greater accomplishment, but sill like winning the mega lottery even when you buy a ticket.

Third reality check: Pressuring kids  to achieve  academic success only works for the 25% of all kids lucky enough to be born with the necessary resources including a safe environment, good school and the  talents needed to be successful in school from day one. Hurrah for those lucky ones, but the rest need help not pressure. .

Jerome Kagan, leading child development researcher, says by the third grade, students have ranked themselves academically and not accurately. Put simply he notes that by the third grade kids rank themselves and others as top student, good  student, dumb student.  Note there is no average student. Guess what the learning disabled student thinks about his or her ability?

So when to worry about the possibility of any learning disability?  For academic problems take your time. Learning reading, writing, and arithmetic happens for different kids at different times. Some do not master the basic skills until near the end of the second grade.  If, however, the child is very unhappy in school or teachers express concern, think about an evaluation. The earlier a learning disability is diagnosed the better.

That said a few other  things are worth worrying about early on. Most experts say worry a bit about these things in a pre-schooler:

  • Delayed speech – but do remember Einstein did not speak until he was three-years-old
  • Poor concentration
  • Difficulty following directions
  • Difficulty with buttoning, zipping, and tying

From my experiences with children, mine and others ,I would also add:

  • hyperactivity
  • difficulty putting age appropriate puzzles together
  • difficulty coloring between the lines

Parenting tip two: Get competent professional help.  Try to get a psychologist not affiliated with a school. The money you might have to spend will be well worth it. School psychologists have a school based agenda and once a child has been diagnosed can be helpful, but not necessarily before. Many hired by schools are either not eager to say a child has a learning disability or too eager to cast that label on a child. Why? Funding of Learning Disabled students varies from school to school and as was noted by Jerry Macquire – “Follow the money.”

If you cannot afford a private psychologist, go to your local mental health clinic and request their help.

Parenting tip three:  Develop an Added Care Team and make sure to include an educational advocate for yourself and one for your child. Again, schools will often offer advocates, many are helpful, but a few lean toward the school’s needs rather than your child’s needs.

Parenting tip four: Know what matters and teach the same to your child. Contrary to the idea that academic success leads to the good life, research shows that what Daniel Goleman popularized as Emotional Intelligence matters more.  Why I founded Emotional Fitness Training, Inc. To teach a child what matters you must:

  1. Help him or her learn to self-sooth. Starts with getting you newborn to go to sleep on his or her own; then moves on to dealing with pain which is the subject of one of my recent blog posts. Hone your  self-soothing skills so you can stay patient  and calm as your child struggles with learning to make in it the real world.
  2. Once a child starts walking and talking, the next step is teaching manners.
  3. And at any age focusing on what matters matters; particularly important with teens and pre-teens.

Parenting tip five: Open many roads to success.  In addition to pressure to achieve academically, our culture is star focused. Don’t think so – think about the salaries of athletes, movie stars, social media stars.  To combat this:

  1. Emphasize the pleasures and not the outcomes of sports  or performing.
  2. Encourage trying things for the fun of it.
  3. Help all your children find hobbies that give pleasure. Reading was one of mine.
  4. Encourage practice of Emotional Fitness Training’s Easy Exercises.

Mark Katz a psychologist friend who specializes in learning disabilities wrote a great book  On Playing a Poor Hand Well about helping kids with learning struggles. I see you can get it used for less than a movie costs. Worth it even at the full price.


Remember’s sharing is caring and the easiest way to practice kindness right now is to share this post with someone who will find it inspiring. Thank you.



This word press daily prompt inspired this post Land of confusion: Which subject in school did you find impossible to master? Did math give you hives? Did English make you scream? Do tell!

Actually, another learning disability was and remains impossible for me to master, Math. I have trouble remember numbers and formulas and my dysgraphia also interferes. My English teachers appreciated the way I thought despite my mistakes. For Math teachers there was always a right answer and a wrong one, particularly in the early grades. The result for me meant missing  many recesses being drilled or standing at the black board, shamed and defeated.

So if you or your child have hate math, you might want to explore this learning disablity. Dyscalculia.