Tag Archives: kids


The past week probably scared everyone except hermits living in distant caves. No matter how hard you try to protect your children, your fear  infects them.  So this week, I am writing about fear.  First a poster quote.

Look for the helpers

Comfort for all ages.

parentING thoughts

The above saying went viral after the two horror filled events of the week of April 15, 2013 and with good reason.  I would add to it, “Be a helper.”  All the studies state that being able to help during traumatic events buffers the helper from being traumatized. Something I learned personally while working in NYC before, during, and after 9/11.

As I drove to work that day and saw the tower burning from the first plane; by the time I got to work, the second plane had done its work.

I was in charge of a mental health mobile crisis service.  We were located in the Bronx and so able to do a bit to help than many of  people in Manhattan.  With the help of a state official I was able to get the first crisis help line up and running.  My team was lucky, we became the helpers.

Parents are always helping, but need tools to help effectively. Roger’s quote is a good beginning.  I have a few more tips.

parenting tips 

Tip one:  Make a point of  teaching children what the word safe means as soon as they begin talking.   My eighteen month old grandson and I were hiking around our apartment complex.  He did not want to hold my hand on the sidewalk.  I forced him to, and said, “Safer.” When crossing streets, I made him stop, said “Dangerous.”  Then when crossing, I said “Safe.”  by the end of our little hike, he was stopping automatically and did not object to holding my hand.  Of course, he did not really know what the words meant, but ground work had been laid.

With his three-year old brother, I use consciously use the words “Danger,” “Stop,” “Be careful.”  He is by natures cautious, so when he is being over-cautious, I say, “You are safe” or “It is safe.”

By the time these kids are in school, these words and their meanings will help guide them.  Not magic but a beginning.

Tip two:  The most natural instinct of anyone who cares about a child, is to want to protect them from harsh reality.  Turning the TV off, not exposing a child to scary movies or videos matters. At the same time, a bit of exposure to scary stuff is strengthening.  One key is always in being there. Another is always drawing a line between real stuff to be scared about and fantasy.

I quarreled recently with a parent bragging about her efforts to “Keep the Tooth Fairy alive.  Not teaching reality and fantasy can be just as much fun, but when the child thought processes change, s/he will not feel lied to.  Something that happens when fantasy is made too real.

Tip three: As soon as school starts begin teaching your child several things that will help her or him stay strong.  Karate with a peace oriented teacher.  For teens, a Red Cross First Aid course.  These are skills that make your child safer, but also increase his or her ability in times of trouble to be a helper.

Tip four:  An explanation about why bad things happen buffers all.  How do you explain the evil acts of people and the acts of nature that kill innocents? Most of us have an explanation of some sort:  God’s plan, randomness, karma, the Force, Life.  The healthiest explanations are those that promote kindness for all living creatures.

Tip five: Dampen your own fears and horror.   Two of my newest eBooks are designed to help you do just that.  One: 12 Easy Exercises to Tame Mad, Bad, and Sad Feelings.  Added value? Many of the exercises can be taught to your children. Two: Self-soothing – Create Calm in Your Life.   Either one lasts longer than a MacDonald’s Happy Meal and has more value for you and your children.


Tragic events are a fact of life.  The more tragic the event, the more it changes you. Still people survive and go on.  To go on, means you have taken the lessons  from the event, realized that was then and this is now. 

I doubt that anyone reading this lost loved ones in any of the week of April 15th’s events.  Too soon.  Still, those of us here have been affected. Secondary trauma is real.  My advice slow down,  spend comfort time alone and with your family, practice sharing and caring, indulge in healthy pleasures, and  remember what matters.



The first:  Although built upon evidenced based practices, there 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. You are the expert on you and your child; the rest of us experts on many different things.

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.


Fingers of blame and shame point regularly at parents. When your kid is doing the blaming and shaming  you are dealing with a Gotcha War.


A Gotcha War is my term for a nasty tool used by Good Kids to shrug off their own mad, bad, or sad feelings.  Their goal is to make you act and look like an idiot, so they can play “Holier than thou.”

When you don’t react strongly enough to whatever provocation is hurled you way, your basically good kid starts pushing  other buttons to get you angry.  A skilled Gotcha Warrior can push buttons  you didn’t know existed.

I learned to become a Gotcha War negotiator during my years as a foster parent trying to live peacefully with an every changing group of teens.  All were sent to us by the Juvenile Justice System.  Some were juvenile delinquents, but a great many were what were called Status Offenders.  These had not committed a crime, but were considered beyond their parent’s ability to control and provided me with a major lesson:  Status Offenders were expert  Gotcha Warriors- good kids, not into law-breaking, but for a thousand different reasons out to put parents on a hot seat.

Quick mental health fact: The shrinks say extreme Gotcha Warriors suffer from a mental health disorder called  Oppositional Defiant Disorder.  Supposedly a disorder of childhood only, I bet you know a few adults who meet the criteria.

If you have not had all your buttons pushed by a Gotcha Warrior you have been blessed by all the benign forces of the universe.  Say a million and one “Thank you’s.”  For those of you who know the drill here is a bit of advice.


Tip one:  Temporarily disown the kid.  When a kid flipped me the bird in public I had an easier time of it, because they were not my kids.  That became my advice to a parent engaged with a Gotcha Warrior who destroyed every diner out   by pushing her buttons during the meal.   I told her when he started shouting at her  to turn to the next table and say loudly,

“Not my kid.”

Not what the parent advisers would suggest, but it worked.  After twice stumping away from the table and missing out on two dinners, this Gotcha Warrior stayed at the table and ate in sullen silence.  Mother could handle sullen silence.

She used the same ploy at home, “When the kid I know and love can talk to me kindly I will listen, but for now I disown you.  I have better things to do then to let you abuse me.”

Tip two: Reframe the battle.  The kid doesn’t hate you.  You are not a failure as a parent. Quite the opposite, the kid feels safest with you; he knows in his heart you will not abandon him.  Understand the battle is mainly within him.  He is finding the real world painful.

Tip three:   Stay strong. Don’t let sympathy woo you back to trying to use comforting words when he or she is throwing spears at you.

Tip four:   If you do want to talk kindly, pick another time.  If you have been a Soft Love parent, you might even consider apologizing for not adequately preparing your teen for life in the real world.

One parent wrote a note of apology that also declared she was becoming tougher on how she let her precious one treat her.

Tip five:  Follow this blog, use its comments to tell me if my advice works or ask for advice. 


Life as a parent is probably the hardest job in the world.  Count your blessings for every good moment you can savor.

Here is my thank you or welcome to the my blog  gift – a quick introduction to The Daily Twelve Emotional Fitness Exercises.  For more details about staying strong as a parent buy any one of my books by going to my Amazon Author’s page.  Scroll down to see the ones available on kindle.

You don’t need a kindle to read ebooks from Amazon. You can download a free Kindle reader to your computer when you buy the book.  If you read one of my books please help me by reviewing it. Reviews matter and you will once again

DISCLAIMER: FORGIVE MY GRAMMATICAL ERRORS FOR I HAVE DYSGRAPHIA. If you need perfect posts, you will not find them here. I have dysgraphia which means that sometimes my sentence structure is not that easy to follow or I make other errors. Still, most people understand me. All of my books are professionally edited, but not all of my blog posts are. Thanks for your understanding and reading my work.

IMAGE BY Agents of awesome