Tag Archives: discipline


Today’s blog post was inspired by a Daily Prompt and details how  a hidden handicap might damage your child.

Boy being beaten for spelling errors

What follows is a variation on a Daily Prompt response I posted on Emotional Fitness Training, Inc.’s blog this week.  That prompt asked about experiences that shamed you.  The newest Daily Prompt asked you to write about  a time you couldn’t quite get your words or images to express what you wanted to express and what you thought kept you from expressing what you wanted people to know?

The constant barrier for me is a learning disability called dysgraphia. This is a little known and not visible disability that  most who suffer, most parents, teachers, editors, and other readers of a child’s written word know nothing about.

 A personal tale about living with dysgrapia

I deal with failed expressions all  the time.  each day when I put finger to keyboard and press to publish something I wrote, I face failure and possible  humiliation particularly by spelling purists and grammarians, but also by my inner critic.

I am an author who cannot spell.  Spell checker only helps some of the time with some words. Dictionaries help only when I have some idea about how a word might be spelled.

I am an author who also punctuates erratically.

I am an author who suffers from and with dysgraphia.

I am an author. I write and publish two blogs five days a week.

I am an author, Norton published my first book; Penguin my second book;  most recently, Metaplume has published sixteen of my eBooks.

I am an author and rejection and the pain of rejection visit daily.

I am an author, but first, now and forever, I am a writer. I cannot not write.  That obsession – perhaps  grounded in a desire to overcome  the difficulties and uncertainty dysgraphia burdens me with – may be what helped me eventually found me a published author.  Some pundits say the chief ingredient in obtaining a goal is persisting in your efforts to successfully cross the finish line.

 parent advice and tips ABOUT DYSGRAPHIA

Tip one: If you child is struggling in school, seems bright but can’t get with writing start by learning about  dysgraphia.  Dysgraphia is a  brain glitch that interferes with many writing related tasks.  For some it means sloppy hand writing.  For others it means difficulty organizing the thoughts in your head so you can get them on to paper clearly and easily.

For me, dysgraphia meant not being able to see spelling errors when I wrote, even when I could tell you the correct spelling.  A simple word like “the” becomes hte, eth, het; “now” becomes not; “not” becomes now: “ever” becomes never.

A related challenge that  has worsened with age, my brain has decided it knows better than I what word I am trying to write.  This means I might be wanting to write “thank you” but my brain decides I mean “thoughtful.” Not helpful and has placed a huge barrier to writing quickly and effortlessly.

Punctuation is part of the my writing error mix, but lies more in a memory glitch.  This one most affects my ability to remember simple numbers.  My social security number still baffles me at times; a new telephone number takes months to learn and even then numbers reverse.

Why these problems? I have what a strong narrative memory, but an almost absent semantic memory – the memory that allows you to recall isolated facts, rows of numbers, formulas, and punctuation rules.

In case  you wonder, I do not suffer from the better known learning disability Dyslexia.  I am a rapid and voracious reader.   Nor have  I ever suffered from writer’s block.

I am a writer, I have become a published author only by the grace of those who did not stop reading when hit over the head with one of my errors.  Let me say here, I know that for some people finding spelling and punctuation errors is a visceral blow to your being and to protect yourself, you often read no further.  As one well-known president noted “I feel your pain”  but I keep reading; many do not.

I am a writer and one with a brain and an open mind.  I have become a published author because beginning technology helped me catch many errors.

I also became a published author because beginning with my teachers in elementary school, many saw the brain behind the errors and honored that part of my being, not just the part that can’t spell or punctuate as most of the English-speaking world honors.

Tip two: Do not ask the impossible of your child and keep teachers from doing the same.  Contrary to the popular myth that all are equal and all can get all they want, just by trying hard enough, we are all mixes of strengths, talents, deficits, and flaws.   Those asking me to spell properly and expecting perfect punctuation, ask the impossible of me.  

When a child is failing in school or very unhappy in school, the most likely cause remains asking the child to do what s/he cannot do at that time. 

Tip three: Ally with your child: I was lucky to have been born during the years when pressure for academic success was moderate, particularly for women.  My parents wanted to me to do my best, but did were balanced.  Teachers were not pressured to by programs by “No Child Left Behind.” One of my brothers had a harder time, expectations were stronger at that time for boys to achieve academic excellence.

Tip four: Advocate for your child and do so respectfully.  Manners always matter.

Tip five: If it turns out your child has a major barrier to school performance find an advocate who can partner with you on your child’s behalf.

Tip six:  Early on teach your child to advocate for his or her learning needs.  This means knowing how you learn, what gets in the way of your learning, what your rights are, and how to explain to others your specific learning needs.

Tip seven: Encourage all your child’s interests and help him or her find an area that creates feelings of competence and mastery.  I learned to ride horses as a pre-teen and credit that mastery experience with helping me through lots of  tough times.  Having and training a dog, did the same for my husband.

Tip eight: Dream dreams with your child, but keep the lesson of American Idols failed-not-talented contestants.  Some who should have only sung in the shower were falsely encouraged to think they could be media stars.  Not helpful. Be realistic about your child’ strengths and  weaknesses.

Tip nine:  Help your child develop strong  soothing skills; learn and model them.  You might want to start with my eBook  Self-sootheing to ceate calm in your :ife.

Tip ten: Honor all work.  Gardeners and garbage menn add more value to our world than philosophers, professors, and doctors, but get less gratitude and few parents suggest garbage collection as a career.  But it is a worthy one.

Tip eleven: Be patient, most children with these sorts of problem if given support and help to learn the way they learn succeed at life.

Tip twelve: Do not try to predict the future, instead help your child live now while preparing for tomorrow/ Even the experts do know what the world will be like in five, ten, or twelve years.  Even predicting tomorrow’s weather is a guessing game.


People are more than their color, their clothes, their jobs, their religion, their nationality, and their ability to speak or write “properly.”  Most of us pride ourselves on our tolerance, automatic dismissal of another person for any of the above reasons  is prejudice, not tolerance. 

Life is hard and relationships often hurtful; staying strong is far from easy.  I fail often. But persistence and keeping on with what matters makes all easier. Note, I did not say easy, only easier.  You and your child will fail, but you fail less and succeed more if you keep trying on what is realistically possible.
Thank you for all you do. And share if you think another parent will find this useful. That will be practicing kindness and practicing kindness makes a difference in your world and mine.


Links and other articles of interest

Image by: (spellingdearest.com)


Got this from Facebook Friend Ruth Braithwaite.  Dancing combines two Emotional Fitness Exercises and is a wonderful way to be with your kids.

Today’s blog post was inspired by this Daily Prompt: Childlike Explain your biggest regret — as though to a small child.  “Sorry for hurts I didn’t mean; sorrier for the ones I did. You will understand more when you are all grown up.  Right now, we need to laugh, play, and dance.”

One of the rules for a good relationship is to make sure the fun and good times outweigh the bad times. Dancing together is fun particularly with the small ones.  Some teens can’t take dancing with parents or even seeing parents dance.  Life will go on.

emotional fitness training’s parent advice and tips

All parents have regrets and all kids have been hurt and often in ways parents never knew.  One emotional fitness tactic  is to know the difference between abuse, neglect, and good enough parenting.  Another is to repair the relationship when hurt is expressed.  

Tip one: Abuse is easiest to define as creating physical pain that leaves marks.  A spanking on a padded baby butt is not abuse.  A slap on a hand that turns it red is.  Sexual abuse is adult use of children for their sexual pleasure and need not involve intercourse.  Imprisoning a child is also abuse.

Tip two: Neglect is failing to nurture or  keep safe: always withholding love and affection; never praising; not getting a child medical care; not sending a child to school.  Neglect is also failing to discipline properly so children respect the rights of others.

Tip three: The CARE Response repairs hurt relationships.

  • C = Confront unacceptable behavior and sometimes this is done too loudly particularly when a child has stepped on your last nerve.
  • A = Allying with the child’s feelings and if you are very angry, you need to calm yourself first, and perhaps take a time-out. If that is necessary say “We need to talk about this when I am calm, I love you and I need to think things through before we talk some more.”
  • R = Reviewing what was unacceptable. Start by asking your child why he or she thinks you got angry.  Amazing some of the answers you will hear.  Be honest if you over reacted, but also state what was unacceptable about the child’s behavior.  End the review only when the child can say what he or she did that was wrong.
  • E = Ending on a positive note.  Sometimes this means a hug, sometimes it means you apologizing for your part, often it can be a simple “I know you will do better next time” or if you over-reacted “I know we will both do better next time'” gives the gift of loving.


Parents need lots of emotional fitness and my eBook Parents Are People Too is an Emotional Fitness Program specifically designed for parents.  It grew out of my experience foster parenting teens, but is also backed up by my professional knowledge as a therapist.

If you are parenting a teen, you might find my smaller eBook When Good Kids Get You in a Gottcha War helpful.

I always suggest plan Me-time, Family and Friend Time, and Quiet Time, daily and for longer weekend breaks.  Helps keep a better balance when you have to discipline.  You will be surprised at how the quality of your life and your children’s life will improve when you laugh and play together.

As always thank you for following me. If you know someone else who will benefit from my thoughts, share. Liking, commenting, and sharing are other ways you can help me stay strong and spread some ideas others might find helpful.

As I tell myself a thousand times a day, stay strong, give lots of love, be grateful, live now, have lots of luck.


Articles and links of interest



Jim Shepard was raised by a mother who many of today’s parent advisors would say was abusive.  Here’s a quote that might well have landed his mother in front of a judge.  “The advantages of beating your children with a wooden spoon as opposed to a metal one.”

But in this essay, Jim Shepard on Mothers – Track of the Storm – Oprah.com, he also honors his mother with a tongue-in-cheek and affectionate tribute.

I wanted a picture of his mother, but couldn’t find one.  I decided to settle for a picture of a wooden spoon.  As I searched, I came across two stories about parents threatened with child abuse for using a wooden spoon to discipline their children.  One  woman was told she’d go to jail if she persisted. She had been turned into the child abuse authorities by a teacher when the daughter, a third grader, mentioned being hit by a spoon.  The unanswered question in my mind was about when, where, and how hard.

A man was let off with probation for attacking his teenage son with a wooden spoon.  The son was not doing his homework and had called his mother “Bitch.”  In this situation, I suspect the father inflicted physical on his son, or he would not have been convicted and sentenced.


First,  what is my opinion?

I think there is a big difference between spanking, not sparing the rod, or hitting a child with a wooden spoon or even a leather strap, and child abuse.  My brothers were strapped once that I can remember.  I truly think it hurt my father to take his belt to them, more than it hurt either of my brothers.

The law makes it clear, any punishment that  leaves a mark is assault and in the case of children abuse. No marks might mean no abuse.  I do not know if my father’s belt left marks.  I suspect not.

Here is another complicating factor.  My brothers took their strapping as deserved and saw it as good parenting.  Jim Shepard seems to have become a success despite his mother’s treatment of him and I suspect if asked he would say with all her abusive ways, she was a “good enough” parent.

Today’s equating of spankings, or raps on the fingers with a wooden spoon, or the strapping my brother’s got, with abuse, has hurt parents and children more than physically.  The turning against punishment in general and mild physical punishments in particular has created a generation of kids who see themselves as victims of abuse when most likely most had good enough parents.

Moreover, parental neglect and abuse are blamed for problems that are not related to parental treatment.  Here are the three main struggles that even the best of parents cannot always help a child overcome:

  1. Genetic predispositions or disorders—addictions, bi-polar disorder, depression, learning disabilities including activity levels, and schizophrenia to name the most devastating.
  2. Life blows that lead to trauma reactions.  These can include bullying, sibling abuse, accidents, and various life threatening diseases.
  3. Challenges related to what the experts call “the goodness of fit.”  A hyperactive and easily distracted child might make a great hunter, she will have a harder time adjusting to a classroom that demands sitting quietly and concentrating on what one person is saying.

Parents are people, we do the best we can, and so did our parents.  Moreover, despite or perhaps because of parental flaws most children not only survive, but often thrive.

So here are a few things that can add to your child’s strength:

  1. Start with yourself. I suspect the father given probation was not in control of his anger.  The same may be true of the mother.  I know the one and only time I laid a hand on one of my kids, stress had eroded my emotional fitness. Parents who can control their negative emotions are ahead of the crowd in the ability to deal with the stresses and strains of raising children.  Practice my daily dozen Emotional Fitness Exercises.  Watch for the electronic releases of my book Parents Are People Too, An Emotional Fitness Program for Parents.  Not only will the exercises be explained in more detail, but so will the six major Emotional Fitness Training Skills.
  2. A major Emotional Fitness Skill involves knowing and acting on what matters.  Too often, parents and their  advisers focus on keeping kids happy.  I am not against happiness, but I agree with those who see it as a by-product of being kind and caring.
  3. Examine how you praise and punish.  Punishment is not the dirty word some make it out to be.  However, there is a science to the art of punishment.  Rules should be reasonable, clear, probably written down, and the punishment for infractions should be known.  A variety of punishments works better than just one for all things.  There should be rewards for good behavior. Finally, praise and rewards should override criticism and punishment on a five to one ratio.
  4. Know when more is needed and do not be afraid to ask for help from professionals.  More is usually needed when non-abusive punishments in a loving home are not working.  It is then time to think about getting a competent professional assessment.


Share this post if you think it will aid another.  The kindness will circle back to strengthen you even if the person rejects your effort to aid.  Sometimes it takes a while for advice to sink in; sometimes others have to add their voice.  Life is a journey and we are all on different parts of the path.

Stay strong, I work at it all the time.