Tag Archives: Jean Tracy

Kids Ears Clogged?

Parents know kids’ ears are stuffed with cotton balls at least 85% of the time.  Here’s some parent advice to pull the cotton from your kids’ ears, and I  am not talking about bribery.

Cartoon by Dilbert about the value of listening.

Parent advice

Love this cartoon by Dilbert. Problem?  The way most experts offering parent advice want you to get your kids to listen is far from easy and only works some of the time with some kids.

Actually, not listening is easier which is why kids too often reach for the cotton balls when you are talking.

Here are three easy tips for un-clogging  your kid’s ears. These come from Jean Tracy, the woman I go to when I need ideas about how to parent better. Today, she sent these tips as a gift to everyone who subscribes to her newsletter.  Her tips?

Tip one: Use your child’s name when you talk to him. His name is his favorite word and his ears will perk up. For instance give one direction and say, “Jason, please feed the dog before you play.”

Tip two: Pay attention and connect with eye contact. Show interest by saying, “How interesting, Tell me more,” or by asking an open-ended question like, “What did you like best about…?”

Tip three: Model good manners by letting your child complete his ideas. Avoid interrupting and giving your opinions too soon. Make sure he finishes his thoughts.

Good advice, now it is my turn.

My parenting tips about getting kids to listen? 

Parenting type one: Switch communication styles.  Yell occasionally, unless you already yell lots, and yes some good enough parents yell lots.  If you are a yeller, try whispering when you want your kids to listen. If you are not a yeller, try a raised voice or even a yell when you want a kid to un-stuff his or her ears.

Why this advice?

Kids do what the experts call habituate. You do too.  Habituate is a fancy word for “get used to.” My mother yelled more than she whispered.  When she started talking very quietly and very softly, we knew she meant business.

Think back to your childhood and ask yourself, “When did I know my mother or father meant it was time to pay attention?”

I often asked parents to answer that question at my parenting workshops. Every parent who shared, knew exactly when one or another parent meant business.  Your kids know it too. That is when they start listening.

So why does changing your pattern work.  Switching styles creates uncertainty and confusions; both are seen by researcher Jerome Kagan as strong motivators.   In fact the hypnotists use what they call “The Confusion Technique” as a way to put you into a trance and more obedient to what the hypnotist wants.  A skilled hypnotist will start you counting backward from one to ten, count with you and suddenly skill a number or two. You think whats going on here and pay more attention.

Parenting tip two:  Make Jean Tracy your parenting guru.  Go here to see all that she has to offer.  She is fantastic.

Stay strong

Remember what matters: good enough is good enough when parenting, kindness works best.

Finally, share this post if you think it will help another; doing so will certainly help both Jean and me.


P.S. Today’s Daily Prompt ask you to imagine what you would do if time stood still and you could tweak just one thing.  I thought well if I had a magic want, I would wave it so all would listen more and talk less.


One of my top ten parenting experts and gurus – Jean Tracy – reworked my thoughts on shame and made them even more valuable.  She is a star.

Shame Can Hurt Your Child

If shame has hurt your child, keep  reading. Our parenting skills expert, Katherine Gordy Levine, and author of the book, Parents Are People Too, is here to help. First, we’ll check out Katherine’s own story. Second, well look at some shameful  words you may have experienced as a child. Then we’ll share what you can do to lessen the resulting feelings in yourself and in your child.

Katherine’s Story of Shame:

Today’s author was six-years-old when she was in a near car accident with her family. She heard her brother yell out, “We’re going to crash!” Katherine sprawled out in a relaxed position because she had heard this was the best thing to do. When the car stopped, her family saw her and laughed. One brother shamed her by calling her “Stupid.”  She never forgot.

The point is, Katherine carried that shaming event throughout a large portion of her life. It even influenced her explosion at her son’s teacher when the teacher implied he was “stupid.”

Your Past Shameful Events

Perhaps you have stories from your childhood that are still powerfully raw. Naming calling words may still affect you like:

  1. You’re ugly.
  2. You’re a dummy.
  3. You’re such a turkey.
  4. You knucklehead!
  5. Why are you such an Idiot?

Remembering those names can bring back sense memories. Like Katherine, you might find yourself reacting in anger. If you take your hurt feelings back through your life on the wings of time, you might find the exact situation where they started. You  might say, “Aha, that’s where they came from.” If you understand the old situation better, you might release the feelings and feel better.

How to Change Shaming Beliefs in Yourself to Help Your Child

Hurtful thoughts must be challenged. As you practice helping yourself, teach your son or daughter to do the same.

Say to your son, “You’re looking a little sad, today. What happened?”

Be gentle in your approach. If he tells you his sister yelled, “You stink!” and he believes it, help him debate the truth of it.

  1. Who said so?
  2. What makes her the authority?
  3. Was she mad?
  4. Why do you think she said it?
  5. Do you really think you stink?

Perhaps your son will realize she was trying to upset him because he played with her toys without asking.

Tell him that you’re using your brain to overcome your own hurt feelings. Share self-statements you’ve been using and encourage him to say them too:

1. Nothing is awful and terrible.

2. It’s just inconvenient.

3. I can take it.

4. Things don’t have to go my way.

5. Life isn’t fair.

You might even post these statements on the fridge. Every time your son uses one of the sentences to soothe his pain, give him a high five with a true compliment like, “You used your brain and overcame!”

staying strong

Jean stays strong by sharing and caring.  I am grateful to her and hope you will support her efforts by visiting her web page, and signing up for her newsletter. You will not be disappointed.

For all you do to share and care with others, thank you. You make a difference.



Interrupting my posts about the company your child keeps to promote a ten star book on helping children heal from divorce.  Get it free today.

Divorce book


Jean Tracy does it again. For thirteen years I stopped being a therapist and became a special need foster parent. Over 300 teens lived with my family for days, weeks, and sometimes, months. Most were teenagers and all were in trouble with the law. Sadly, most were also children of divorce. Anyone who cares about children knows divorce hurts.

Not only does divorce hurt children, but far too many of those children don’t know how to deal with the hurt. Many hold the pain in, others act out in destructive ways. Either way, the pain of what has happened erodes their ability to cope with the hurt in useful ways. Jean’s Character Building Divorce Stories to Help Your Child Heal provides, not just advice, but Five Star Tools to strengthen what I call a child’s emotional fitness, and others call resilience or Emotional Intelligence. Not only will the child deal better with the hurt of divorce, but he or she will be better prepared to deal with other negative feelings that are part of life.

Research shows that talk while helpful is not as effective as tools that aid processing. Jean’s stories start the talking process, but then provide interactive tools that aid processing the pain. In one example a child was helped by her teacher to write letters to her parents telling them she needed to spend more time with each of them. In another story, a boy learns about Skype as a way he and his father can talk across the miles that separate them.

Too many parent advice books are fat with explanations, but lean on strategies. Not this one. Whether you are a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, teacher,  coach, or therapist if you care about children, this is the book you need to buy, read, and share.

Jean’s book is free today June 4th and tomorrow, June 5th.   Here is the link. 


Caring parents in an unhappy marriage face a painful dilemma – keep trying for the sake of a child or children versus giving up and seeking their own happiness.   Romantic love is a many delusional thing, many second marriages turn out to be just as unhappy as first marriages.  So think twice before divorcing and get counseling first.

Just so you know my bias, many times during my 42 years of marriage both David and I might have divorced, had we not had children or had we had more money.  I am glad we hung on.  Doing so, however, has to be a personal decision and children can be just as hurt by living with angry, depressed, or unhappy parents as by divorce.  Life is a struggle and relationship probably one of the places we struggle most.  With the right tools, however, we can all move forward toward the good life.

For all you do, thank you and if you know children and parents dealing with divorce, get Jean’s book. My eBook When Good Kids Hang Out with the Wrong Crowd is also free until midnight June 5th.  Reading either is good, but  for Jean and I writing reviews ,while not obligatory, are  definitely priceless.



Jean Tracy, a parent expert I envy for how much she helps parents, used part of my Parents Are People Too book in a blog post.  I am posting it because she  pushed my worth to a higher level, a skill parents need to learn

Which Values Must Children Learn from Their Parents?

   Learning Values from Parents

When you teach your children values, which ones would you like them to repeat at your funeral? Our parenting expert and author, Katherine Gordy Levine, has researched some of the wisest sages of our time and is here to share them from her book, Parents Are People Too. She’ll even tell us what she said at her mother’s funeral.

Eulogy from Your Children

Which would you rather have your children say at your funeral?

  1. Mom taught us how to love.
  2. Dad pushed me into achieving the Eagle Scout Award.
  3. Mom showed by example how to help others.
  4. Dad read us bedtime stories.
  5. Mom made us succeed by hitting and yelling.

In Her Chapter on ‘Goals and Missions – Knowing What’s Important,’ Katherine shares 4 common core beliefs. She calls them one-liner templates for guiding your child’s life. Which one of these would you want your children to adopt?

  • “To thine own self be true.”
  • “Winning is everything.”
  • “The one with the most toys wins.”
  • “What will the neighbors think?”

Did you pick number one?

Katherine goes farther by naming these 3 common core beliefs across cultures:

1. Help those in need; be caring.

2. Treat others fairly.

3. Only some people are worthy of caring and fairness.

How did you feel about the third one?

3 Authors Katherine Recommended for Teaching Values:

1. Victor Frankl, who wrote about surviving a concentration camp in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, said that those who survived best believed in the service of others.

2. Robert Fulghum’s book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, cleverly puts forth the ideals of caring and justice.

3. Dalai Lama shared his core belief by saying, “My religion is kindness.”

Three Values Katherine Shared at Her Mother’s Funeral:

1.” She gave us the gift of loving life’s, small pleasures. She taught us to love the first snowfall, a shooting star, a piece of sea glass, the sunset.”

2. “She always knew exactly how to comfort the hurting child, how to make all children feel special.”

3. “She often bought and sent to you small reminders of her love.” (From pages 117-124)

Katherine ends with the question, “What do you hope your children will say about you?”

Follow Jean Tracy at Kids Discuss by clicking here

Jean took my ideas and raised them.  That is the art of being a caring person.  It should be the goal of every parent, every lover, every friend, every one of us.


Praise alone is not enough, but the right praise at the right time, strengthens immeasurably.  What did Jean do that was right praise?

  1. She lives the values she hopes others will live.
  2. She made personal contact.  
  3. When we first began to know each other it was via internet postings; she did not automatically dismiss me because of my dysgraphia: many have.  
  4. She was open about what she wanted. Her goals were to share, care, and promote herself as well as others.   This was always clear.
  5. She kept promises; she returned favors. 
  6. She always thanked me for anything I did
  7. She always did more to help me than I asked for or expected. 

PARENTING TIPS based on Jean tracy’s modeling

  1. Live the values, you want you children to live.  That is the big one and hard for many, but it remains vital.
  2. Make personal contact. Hug, play, talk to and listen.
  3. See all the good.
  4. Worry less about mistakes and errors and more about the relationship.
  5. Know your goals for your child  and make certain sharing and caring are what matters most.
  6. Keep your promises.
  7. Return favors
  8. Say thank you as often as you can.
  9. Do more than is expected, but less than is needed. 


These are my additions:

Tip one: Do not be afraid to criticize or punish, but do so only for the big rules: safety of self and others, respect for self and others, safe guarding valuable property, and respect for reasonable laws.

Tip two: Make all punishments fit age and stage.  An infant is never punished. Temper tantrums signal the need for time outs. Jo Frost aka Super Nanny does them best. Phrelon’s One, Two, Three Magic does a great job of enhancing time outs. His best advice? Reminding parents children are not miniature adults and that parents talk too much to kids under the age of twelve.

When school starts the age of Lets Make a Deal. Concrete rewards and withholding such rewards become useful tools. Time out should switch to time in your room to think things over. One, Two, Three Magic still works.

Teens also respond to rewards;  extended curfews, money, car keys, cell phones, and computer time serve this age as useful tools for rewarding or withholding rewards.

This also is when the advice in Parent Effectiveness Training (PET)’s guru Thomas Goron should be applied. Not before.  PET and the other communication gurus are primarily responsible for treating children like adults and talking to them too much, but only because their ideas were not applied according to age and stage.

Tip three: No matter what the child’s behavior – for teens and adult children in particular, keep the love going, but do not tolerate abuse.

Tip four:  Keeping the love going means keeping your cool.  My two most recent books 12 Easy Exercises for Taming Mad, Bad, and Sad Feelings or Self-soothing, Create Calm in Your Life. are about staying calm and cool.

Tip five:  Parenting is a process and the rewards and problems vary for each age and stage. Keeping a long-term perspective and remembering what matters are vital in getting you and your loved ones over rough patches so you can enjoy the rewards.

stay strong

As Elizabeth Stone noted, ““Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” Do not beat up emotionally on yourself or others when things go wrong.

The Parents Are People Newsletter will soon be published.   A quick read, the newsletter will add a new post,  contain some news, a poster coach, a  joke, or  a quote for thinking about what matters. Sign up on the sidebar.  

As usual for all you do to support me, thank you.



The first:  Although based on what are called evidenced based practices, the is no guarantee my advice is the right advice for you and your family. Experiment, try my tips; if they are not useful to you try another parent adviser.

The second: I have dysgraphia, a learning disability that peppers my writing with mis-spelling and punctuation errors. All my books are professionally edited. Not so my blog posts. Although I use all the grammar and spelling checks, mistakes slip by. If they bother you, seek another source of support for life’s less savory moments.   Life is too short to let problems you can avoid annoy or stress you.