Tag Archives: Getting along in school


Why this parent advice topic

This post continues the effort to understand various challenges children face navigating school.  Fidgety Phillips and Phillipas are today’s topic, but first a picture.

IMAGE BY Barnes and Noble. Story about how fidgety feet turned a princess into a soccer player.  Sounds like a good one.

And now a poem.  This written in  1844 by  Dr. Heinrich Hoffman.  Fidgety people have been around since the beginning of human time. I am one.

The Story of Fidgety Philip
“Let me see if Philip can
Be a little gentleman;
Let me see if he is able
To sit still for once at the table.”
Thus Papa bade Phil behave;
And Mama looked very grave.
But Fidgety Phil,
He won’t sit still;
He wriggles,
And giggles,
And then, I declare,
Swings backwards and forwards,
And tilts up his chair,
Just like any rocking horse–
“Philip! I am getting cross!”
See the naughty, restless child
Growing still more rude and wild,
Till his chair falls over quite.
Philip screams with all his might,
Catches at the cloth, but then
That makes matters worse again.
Down upon the ground they fall,
Glasses, plates, knives, forks and all.
How Mama did fret and frown,
When she saw them tumbling down!
And Papa made such a face!
Philip is in sad disgrace . . .

Fidgety means you have a hard time sitting still.   Some of us are fidgety almost all the time, some of us only some of the time.   If you can answer “Yes, that’s me.” to the four or five of the following statements, you are probably fidgety than most other people:

  1. I like being on the move.
  2. Sitting quietly in church, in school, at work is hard work for me.
  3. I don’t like waiting in line.
  4. I don’t like waiting turns.
  5. I interrupt when others are talking.
  6. I jiggle my legs, twist my hair, or tap my fingers or toes a lot.
  7. I like to do two or three things at the same time.
  8. I can listen to music or have the TV on and read or write at the same time.

Here’s another way to figure out how fidgety you are:   pretend you are a soldier in the army.  Stand up and stand at attention with your feet together, arms at side, shoulders back, head up, eyes straight ahead.  Now don’t move for three minutes and then rate how badly you wanted to move on a scale of 1 to 10 using:

  1. Ten down to five means you moved.
  2. Five  means you wanted to move but didn’t although you had to work hard not to move.
  3. Four down to one means you had less and less of an urge to move.

The higher your score the more likely some people think of you as Fidgety Phil.  I score between a seven and eight.


  1.  Fidgety  people do not want to fidget, but sitting still is very hard for them.
  2. Fidgety people can sit still sometimes and that makes other people think they just fidget to be difficult.
  3. Usually fidgety people can sit still when they get a quick reward for sitting still.  Video games calm some fidgety people.
  4. Some fidgety  people find medication is the only way they can sit quietly, particularly at school or at a job
  5. Fidgety people often can do two or three things successfully at once and that is a strength.
  6. Fidgety people often don’t need as much sleep as other people and that is another strength


Parenting tip one:  Fidgetiness often runs in families.  It is the way some brains work.  It definitely runs in mine. Remember goodness of fit, that was talked about in an earlier post.  Often one family member is fidgety and other members just the opposite. That is why figuring out every one’s temperament is useful.  If you didn’t read that post, here it is  Loves School/ Hates School.

Parenting tip two:  Goodness of fit also applies to society.  When hunting was part every day life, the hyper-alertness of a fidgety person often served to alert others to the presence of game. Now that long hours are spent at school or on quiet jobs, fidgety people have a harder time.

Parenting tip three: Here are some ways I and other fidgety people have learned to deal with fidgetiness:

  1. Meditating.
  2. Meditating, but moving ever so slightly and rhythmically.
  3. Squeezing a stress ball when you need to be quiet.
  4. Squeezing a knee also works as does massaging your fingers
  5. When at school or work, taking notes on what is being said.
  6. Using the Mind Mapping way to take notes is often a good skill for fidgety people to learn.
  7. Mind Mapping is a bit like doodling and doodling also is soothing, but bosses and teachers prefer mind mapping.
  8. Folding paper—learning origami.
  9. Being allowed to color while listening.  I allowed this in all my classes and workshops.  In fact I provided adult coloring material and crayons.  My only rule was that when I said pay attention, you had to put your crayons down for at least a minute.

Parenting tip four: If fidgeting is interfering with work or school, medication may help.  Too much ranting against medication means those that need it are not be helped. I never felt the need, but as the director of a child’s mental health service, I saw miraculous changes in behavior when some youngsters were medicated.

One of the cashiers at my local supermarket has a severe case of fidgetiness.  He readily admits medication saved his life and is giving one of his children a better shot at the good life.

Parenting tip five:  Seek out a competent child psychiatrist if medication seems indicated.  Family doctors and even skilled pediatricians are no substitute for someone specifically trained to administer psycho-tropic drugs.

Parenting tip six: You need to know a few facts about fidgeting and medication:

  1. If it going to be helpful, the difference is often noticed right away.
  2. If taking the medication makes things worse, it generally means something besides fidgety is the problem.
  3. Bi-polar and trauma disorders often react adversely to the medication used for fidgety problems.
  4. Habituation, meaning the body builds tolerance, and stronger doses might be needed as well as planned vacations from the medication.

Parenting tip seven:  Join an ADHD support group.  CHADD is one of the best and they are on Facebooks.

Parenting tip eight: Strengthen your self soothing skills. That is what Emotional Fitness is all about.  Go here for a brief introduction to our 12 Daily Emotional Fitness Exercises.


Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.

George Bernard Shaw.

I prefer to distinguish ADD as attention abundance disorder. Everything is just so interesting . . . remarkably at the same time.

Frank Coppola, MA, ODC, ACG l

Of course, no man is entirely in his right mind at any time.

Mark Twain

Do what you can where you are with what you have.

Theodore Roosevelt

Why try to fit in when you were born to stand out.

Dr Suess

If you’re going through hell, keep going

Winston Churchill

Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.

Albert Camus

One of the advantages of being disorganized is that one is always having surprising discoveries.

A.A. Milne

Some final words

Stay strong. Life is a struggle, full of pain and suffering. Parenting intensifies the struggle, but also brings  joy to your life. Neither you nor your any of your children need to be perfect.  Better to be good enough.

Like, comment or share, so I will grow stronger.  Thank you.


Disclaimer: Emotional fitness Training is not therapy

Even the experts quarrel about what works best.  Advice is advice, not a commandment.  Read for what will help you and forget the rest.

Forgive my  errors for I have dysgraphia.

if you need perfect posts, you will not find them  here;  I will understand if you don’t follow me.  If  you want to hang in with me, thank you.


Why this parent advice topic:

Making enemies at school defeats everyone.  What follows is a guest blog by Jean Tracy, MSS.

SCHOOL SUCCESS  ~ 3 Top Ways to Partner with Your Child’s Teacher

Your child’s teacher is an important partner in raising your child. Having been a teacher, a counselor, and a parent, here are some tips for partnering with your child’s teacher. They’ll promote your child’s success and help his teacher too.

1. Be Respectful to Your Child’s Teacher When You Have a Concern:

I remember a father who waited for me in the teachers’ lounge. I looked forward to seeing him because I had nothing but good things to say about his son. Before I could speak, the father said, “You’re not doing enough for my son.” I was stunned. He went on to say,

Why didn’t he get all A’s? The fact that he had a few B’s means you’re not giving him the attention he needs.

This well dressed professional man spoke with such arrogance and disgust. I cringed a bit and felt defensive.

When I recovered and with the most respectful voice I could muster, I said, “Your son was the star of our 3rd grade school play. He was terrific. Parents, grandparents, and relatives filled the auditorium. Why weren’t you and your wife there?” He backed down a bit. I also made suggestions on how he could enrich his son at home. The bell rang for class and with relief, we parted.

If you don’t think your child’s teacher is doing enough for him, don’t attack. Find out how you can enrich his learning at home. His teacher will be pleased by your willingness to partner in his education.

2. Volunteer to Help in Your Child’s Classroom:

What could you do? You could plan class parties, listen to kids read, design a holiday bulletin board, and help with arts and crafts.

Each is an opportunity for your child’s teacher to know more about your child by knowing you. Your child will be delighted and realize how important school is to you. He may try harder too.

If you can’t spend much time at school, perhaps you could pick up test papers and correct them. Ask his teacher how you can help. The time you give is a wonderful way to partner with your child’s teacher. It gives the teacher time to focus on kids who need extra help too.

3. Actively Participate in the Parent Teacher Conferences:

Every day after my first graders went home; I made sure to hang their papers on the bulletin boards that spread across the room. I knew it was important for them to search for their school work the next morning. They’d find it and tell their friends, “Look, there’s my picture!” I enjoyed seeing them smile.

To be a first grade teacher takes lots of time, work and energy. I didn’t examine each child’s paper before I posted it. One day when I met with a mom at our parent child conference. We walked to the bulletin board to view her daughter’s art work.

The mother said, “Isn’t that interesting?” Her daughter had drawn 2 houses. One was the daughter and her mom outside the first house. Outside the other house she stood with her dad. Her mother confided, “She’s expressing what she’s feeling about our upcoming divorce.” I looked again and saw the sad expression on her daughter’s face as she stood by each parent in her picture. I had no idea that her parents were divorcing. From then on I gave her child more positive attention.

At the school conference you have the opportunity to share significant things in your child’s life with her teacher. At that moment, you and her teacher can make a plan to help your child.

Conclusion for Your Child’s School Success:

When you have a concern about your child, approach his teacher with respect. Ask questions. Find out what you need to know. Avoid accusing. Help out in the classroom. Make sure you attend parent teacher conferences. Becoming a partner supports your child’s success and his teacher too. Everybody wins.


First  Parenting Tip:  Thank You, Jean and here’s my first tip. Visit her web page and follow her.  Jean has both a teacher’s degree and a Masters in Social Work. She taught for years, has worked as a social worker in the court system.  She authors a  website, blog, and newsletter. As the author of specialty kits for parents and kids, marriage and family e-books, free online courses, Jean reaches a worldwide audience to help parents build a strong healthy character in kids.  To learn more go to her newsletter at Kids Discuss or her Parenting Skills blog.  I am honored she agreed to do this guest blog.

Second Parenting Tip:  When a child is not getting along in school several things might be going on.  As discussed in Round Peg in a Square Hole, the problem might be a goodness of fit.  Follow the tips I gave there.

Third Parenting Tip: Learning disabilities might be operating.  Educate yourself about these.  Start with the National Center for Learning Disabilities web page.

Fourth Parenting Tip: Ask the school to evaluate your child for learning style and the possiblity he is struggling with a learning disability.  Many schools offer such evaluations.  If your school doesn’t, seek one from your local mental health agency or a private psychologist.

Fifth Parenting Tip: Take a friend with you to any formal meetings with the school.   Agree that if things get heated, the friend should comment that things are getting heated, but she sees that everyone wants what is best for the child.  The purpose is to clue you to calm down.  So take a calming breath and agree with your friend and be quiet.  If you cannot stay calm, suggest you need time to think about what is being said, and ask for another meeting in a week.

At some point, you may need to take an advocate or a lawyer, but as Jean points out, the more positive your relationship with your child’s school, the better for all involved.

Sixth Parenting Tip: Watch for the publication of my E-book How to Hold a Family Meeting, it will soon to be available on Amazon. Family Meetings strengthen families in many ways.  One way is by preparing all family members for other types meetings.

Seventh Parenting Tip: Strengthen you ability to handle negative feelings.  My Parents Are People Too details an emotional fitness program for parents. It is available at Amazon.com.  You will find lots of free tips about staying emotionally healty at my other blog Emotional Fitness Training. Here is one of the quick tricks offered there:

Take a deep breathe in, hold it for a few seconds while you think about what really matters, then breathe out slowly, smile gently and say “Ahhhhh.” Take another breathe in, hold it while you think about all you have to be grateful for, breathe out slowly, smile gently, and say “Thank you.”

Stay strong

Life is a struggle, full of pain and suffering. Parenting intensifies the struggle, but also brings more joy to your life.


Disclaimer one: Advice is just advice.

Even the most learned researchers and theorists quarrel about much.  Take their advice and mine carefully.  Don’t just listen to your heart, but also think; don’t just think, listen to your heart.  Heart and head working together increase the odds you will find useful advice amid all the promises and hopes pushed at you be others.  As others have noted, take what seems useful, leave the rest.

Disclaimer two: Forgive my grammatical errors

Not only am I dealing with an aging brain, but all of my life I have been plagued by dysgraphia–a learning disability that is akin to dyslexia when one writes. It was the reason my high school English teacher thought I would fail out of college.  I didn’t.  Moreover,  with the help of some patient and good editors I became an author.  Still mistakes get by.  When I am in a rush,  posts might be peppered with bad spelling, poor punctuation, and worse words that make no sense.

Sigh, if you need perfect posts, you will not find them  here;  I will understand if you don’t follow me.  If  you want to hang in with me, thank you; if a post doesn’t make sense or bugs you too much, try reading it a few days later.  Often I catch the worse mistakes when I read the post after a few days.

Meanwhile, forgive me, it is an Emotional Fitness Training exercise.