Tag Archives: Parent advice

Are Your Children Angsting Over the Election Results?

Image by Ad Week

Image by Ad Week

A BITTER FACT: Unless you control your upset about the election, you are passing your feelings on to your children. Not good.

I rarely say parents are at fault, but am hearing far too many complaints about how children are upset by the election. Then there was learning that my grandson’s first grade class held an election and the kids whose candidates lost were upset. Well, no child likes to lose, but no child who is just learning to read knows the difference between POTUS and the man in the moon and the Tooth Fairy.

Do I sound cranky, well I am. I do not like to see children hurt or parents misguided and much of today’s parenting advice and  the  media promote the idea that  children are as wise or wiser than adults. Not true. Children are not little adults and their thought processes are not like ours.

As Thomas Phelon, author of One, Two, Three Magic, notes, “Adults who believe in the Little Adult Assumption are going to rely heavily on words and reasons in trying to change the behavior of young kids. And words and reasons are going to be miserable failures much of the time.”

Moreover, the younger the child, the more your feelings become their feelings. So if your child is upset about the election, check your feelings and deal with the angst in ways that will not harm your children.

Emotional Fitness Training Tips for Parents

Tip one: Remember age and stage.

Children learning to read are just moving to what some call “The Age of Reason.” Before then their thinking is what Piaget, the leading researcher in this area call Sensory Motor and then  Pre-operational

Pre-operational thoughts are often described as magical. Piaget says they are based primarily on what the child sees and perceives on his or her own. Best example: Children of this age think the people on television are actually living inside your tv.  Dolls and toys come alive during make-believe play.

The next stage is generally entered into as the child’s brain develops enough so s/he learns to read which why many calls it “The Age of Reason, ” but as Piaget notes, thinking is limited to what the child can see and touch.  The child can begin to think about other people’s thoughts and perspective, but this ability is limited; the child’s interpretations are based more on their own thoughts and rarely extend to one or two other possibilities.

From puberty on, the capacity to think abstractly develops. The abstract thinker is no longer bound by the concrete or their ego-centric views. S/he can imagine countless possibilities which is why abstract thinking teen embrace the occult.

Two problems exist with regards to abstract thought.  Not every one gets there. Estimates vary but probably slightly over 50% of all adults are abstract thinkers. More over trauma dumbs down the ability to think abstractly.

The other problem relates mainly to teens or those first acquiring the ability to think broadly, judgement may be limited. Why teens will take risks that thinking adults will avoid.

Tip two: Use knowledge of age and stage to guide you and keep your angst from affecting your child in all the wrong ways.

Do not discuss or expose children under the age of ten to political talk either yours or the media’s.

If the child asks why you are unhappy, or seems concerned about you, do not deny your feelings but leaven them for the child with a comment like the following: “I’m upset about grownup things, try not to be bothered.” Then divert the child with something s/he enjoys. “Lets play Uno, that will cheer me up.” “Lets make cookies, that is always good to do when upset.”

With those moving toward abstract thought, you can say the election results upset you and invite discussion about what they know about who won, who lost and why some people including you are upset.

It is probably a good ides to also admit that part of your upset is illogical, mainly because you are awfulizing (imagining the worse) and trying to predict the future which is not possible.

Tip three: Get involved in one or another civic activity and let your children know you how you are taking action to counter your fears and upset. Doing any of the following strengthens you that helps your children:

  1. Stay informed, avoid faux news, bias reporting. The disputed issues are always complicated.
  2. Stay calm.
  3. Promote calm in others.
  4. Seek support for your views from groups allied with your beliefs.
  5. Offer moral and financial support to groups and people allied with your beliefs.
  6. Condemn violence and calls for violence even when you agree with the source’s political agenda.
  7. Protest by respectfully stating your views via phone calls and letters to politicians  and media sources.
  8. Seek common ground from those who do not agree with your politics.
  9. Stay focused on the common good.

Tip four: Improve your self-soothing skills and teach your children how to seIf-sooth.   My eBook, Self-soothing To Create Calm in Your Life will help you do both. It is on sale not for $3.06. Buy it now.  It will do you more good than a latte and costs less.

Tip five: If you cannot control your feelings enough to do the above, get therapy.  Also my book Parents Are People Too, An Emotional Fitness Program for Parents strengthen therapy outcomes. Buy it now to read on your computer or kindle.   It is also available for a penny and on up in the used paperback edition. 

Thank you for all you do

Remember to share all you find of value on the internet.  All who post crave recognition. A like says “Thank You.” Comments say you have read and thought about the post. Sharing is a gift to three people: the blogger, the people you share with, and you for your kindness blesses you.

Stay strong, it takes some effort for life can be a painful struggle.


Post Inspiration: This post was not inspired  by the WordPress Daily  Prompt:  Echo, but by the repeated (echoing) posts and thoughts about how the recent election was hurting children.

Go here to learn more about the Daily Prompts.

Links of Interest

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

Disclaimer two: Take all advice even 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

If  you need perfect posts, you will not find them  here;  I will understand if you don’t follow, like or share what  like me.  Not only am I dealing with an aging brain, but all of my life I have been plagued by dysgraphia–a learning disability,  Some of my posts might be peppered with bad spelling, poor punctuation, and worse words that make no sense.  If  you want to hang in with me, thank you; you are kind. If a post doesn’t make sense or bugs you too much, stop reading, I will understand.



Fear isn’t funny, and we all know it.  Cartoonist Doug Savage, however, started me on this post.  Thank you Doug for two great cartoons about fighting fear.


In this poster coach I mention systematic desensitization. Don’t know how systematic desensitization works?  Well, here is another of Doug’s cartoons that spells it out fairly accurately.  I’ll add some practical ideas …

desentizingSystematic desensitization is a tool used by  Behavioral Therapists; they prefer action to talk.  They use two tools in combating fear. The first is called flooding.  I wouldn’t suggest using it with your kids as I think it is cruel.  Flooding in the case of spiders would mean locking your child in a small space with thousands of spiders and leaving him or her there until habituation sets in.  Habituation is the trait of getting used to anything if exposed to it long enough without being able to escape.

Actually when I suggested in a recent post about separation anxiety that parents just leave their crying child, that was a form of flooding.  I prefer to think of it as cutting the agony short.  All teachers and baby sitters know that once Mom or Pop depart, the kid gathers courage and invests in distraction ploys.

One other thought about flooding: the fascination older kids have with horror movies is a form of  habituation. Not only do your flood yourself, but at movies end, you get a survivor’s rush.

Anyway, on with Systematic Desensitization. First you have to strengthen the ability to self-sooth.  See my post on Right Breath and also visit My Emotional Fitness Easy Lesson Page.  Both teach self-soothing skills.

Then the child needs to be able to rate how scared he or she is.  No fear, something to fear looming on the horizon, itty-bitty fear, hearting-beating-faster fear, screaming out loud fear, running away fear, or dead faint fear.

One reason for the rating scale is so the child starts thinking instead of just reacting.  The second reason is to start self-soothing before the fear takes over.  Related to this is need to signal the parents when the kid can’t manage on his or her own.

As a crisis team manager in NYCity during 911, I did a lot of crisis debriefing. The training did emphasize re-telling the story, but that was soon seen as re-traumatizing some.  First teaching and strengthening  self-soothing skills and then teaching rating scales put the “victim” in charge.  You do not want your children to feel helpless and victimized.  The combination of self-soothing and rating increases the child’s sense of control and increases courage.

stay strong

Genes play a part in reactions to scary events.  The experts say there are shy kids, slow to warm up kids, and bold kids. Guess what? The same rating applies to adults. So if you have a shy kid, chances are somewhere in the family mix are shy genes. Yours? Then you need to build your courage, so you can model calm. Sorry, but that is the way it works.

Are you bold?  Well you aren’t home free.  Two problems: you probably are a risk taker and safety is a bit lower on your radar.  Dangerous if you have a bold kid, particularly when the teen years encourage more risk taking.  So do teach safety.  Second problem, you may get too pushy with a shy or slow to warm up child, particularly a shy child.  Slow down, accept what is and value your shy child’s strengths.  Here are two quotes that might help:

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.                                                                                         Nelson Mandela

         Courage is being scared to death… and saddling up anyway.
John Wayne

As always remembering what matters keeps you and your children on the path to the good life and combats fear.  My Twelve Easy Emotional Fitness Exercises  keep you on that path, and are the foundation of  a strong self-soothing program.

I am grateful for all you do to keep me strong and hope this is a post you can share with some one who will find it helpful.


Links of interest


Guest blogger, Ryan Novas with games you can play during a power outage.  I add a game of my own after his post.

Only eyes showing during a power outage

In the dark? With your kids? Try some games to conquor their fear. Ryan Nova, guest blogger’. Then I added a game from my childhood .

Losing power in a storm can cause anyone to get anxious and sometimes cause good kids to act out.  Unfortunately, they cannot connect to the internet and probably should not go hang out with friends if power lines are down, so they need to find another way to keep calm and happy during the storm.  This can be tricky, especially if storms make you nervous, which is why it is important to remain calm and have a plan to keep everyone comfortable and relaxed.  Here are 3 things you can do during a power outage that will help promote bonding, reduce the fears of the storm and help your kids overcome things like a fear of the dark.

1.  Hide and Go Seek (with Flashlight Tag):  As long as you have extra batteries for your flashlights, this can be one of the best games.  Because it turns being stuck in the dark from being a scary thing into a game, it can also help kids to overcome some of their fear.  Hide and Seek is fun for almost anyone no matter what their age is.  By combining flashlight tag into the game, your kids will have a source of light to find a hiding space safely while not being afraid of the dark.  Also, your children will begin to build enough courage to try things like going into a dark basement because they want to win the game.
Flashlight tag is when you have to find the person, shine a flashlight on them and call out their name.  If you get the wrong person, they are not “out” and get to hide again.  This may help to build your child’s courage since they will begin to feel more comfortable moving around a dark and scary house.
2.  Board games: 

Although this seems obvious, it is always a winner.  All you need is a light source to be able to see the game and it is something the entire family can enjoy and bond over.

 Board games are fun for the whole family, and by dressing correctly before playing them, everyone can go to bed when they get tired and the game is over.   

 3.  Lights out Pictionary: This is a fun game for everyone.  It does take a bit of practice before you get really good and everyone gets into the game.  The person who is up to draw picks their word or thing from the hat and then remembers it.  Then you hand the person a piece of paper and a pencil and they have 1 minute total to draw the item.  Turn off the flashlight for 10 seconds while they start to draw and then turn it on for 5 seconds while everyone gets a chance to guess what they are drawing.  If in 5 seconds no one has it, you turn the flashlight off again for ten more seconds, during which they can draw more.  After doing this 4 times, if no one has guessed the thing the person was supposed to draw, no one wins any points and the persons turn is over.  If someone does guess what it is, the person who was drawing gets two points and the person guessing gets 1 point.  Everyone will get three turns to draw and then the game is over.   

Added care tip: One thing to think if you live where power outages are common is to make sure every family member as a pair of  footed pajamas and to don them if is looks like the lights are going to be out for a while.  You can buy them at CrazyforBargins.    Footed pajamas are  better than normal sleepwear for three  reasons:

  1. If the power is out it could get cold.  These can help keep you warm since they cover everything.
  2. Many styles come with skid resistant soles, so they may help to prevent falls and sliding on wood floors in the dark.
  3. They are comfortable and perfect to wear to bed right when everyone starts to get tired.
During a long power outage where cold is a problem get the kids in warm robes.  Terry cloth robes can also double as a towel.  Again you can find a huge selection of robes at Crazy for Bargains.

Being warm and cozy comforts and playing some games distracts from fear.   Both  turn a scary time into a fun time.  Fun bonds and helps all in the family, as Katherine says, “Stay Strong.”

Ryan Novas

Thank you Ryan and now for my game:

The Never Ending Story: We played this on long car trips, but it would work as well during a power outages.  Parent goes first and starts a story, usually a scary one.  The parent stops at a cliff hanger moment and names a child.  The child picks up the story.  The parent stops that child at another cliff hanger, and names the next story teller.  The story goes on and on with each family member adding his or her part.  The parent can decide when it is time to end the story. End it with a cliff hanger so the story can be picked up at a later time.

One rule: Only story tellers can talk.

Tip for parent leader: Don’t let ramblers ramble, it is best to wait for a cliff hanger, but not if the audience is getting bored.


Laughing and playing when the lights go out does build courage in both the child and the adult.  Another tactic would be to have the family  practice one of the Twelve Easy Emotional Fitness Exercises.  If you haven’t learned and practiced them yet go here to learn the Be With Beauty Exercise.   During a black out ask each family member to recall and describe something they find beautiful.

With the weekend approaching, remember to have me-time, family time, fun time and quiet time.

As always thank you for all you do to support me.



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.


A quick reminder. Know you saw this yesterday, but the more you see something, the more it means. At least that is my hope.



At least two of my former foster children are dead from drinking and drugging. Wish I had known all they taught me when I started out as a foster parents.  I would have posted these rules on my refrigerator.

Parenting is hard work and contending with a child who is drinking and drugging demands more than good parenting.   Worried about a child of yours? You must observe the above rules.  Also attend some AA and Alanon Meetings. Those two links will take you to on-line meetings.  Doing that educate you and give you much to think about.  If you child does have a problem add some face-to-face meetings.  Do not let stigma keep you from a the support you can find at such meetings.

Don’t like the AA approach. Then look for a drug counselor who uses a Motivational Interviewing approach.  You will probably have to pay for their help, but most have sliding scale fees.  Personally, I found both approaches helpful when dealing with kids who were drinking and drugging.  Remember, the life you save might be your child’s.


Hopefully, the seven rules will help you and your child stay safe and sober.  Not many people know them.  They are not mine, but have been well researched.

When I talked about them in the graduate courses I taught, only a few students had heard of them and most were violating them. Dangerous.  If I have my way they would be posted where ever alcohol is sold.  Moreover, now that marijuana is becoming legal in some states, the rules for need to adopted for drugging and posted where marijuana  is sold.

All this to say, please think of forwarding this post and sharing it with as many as possible. Some will take heed, not all but some and the more who practice safe drinking and drugging the more others will follow.

As always thank you for following me and for your support.


the usual promotional stuff

First, here is my thank you gift if you have just started following me.   It is a free quide to the Daily Twelve Emotional Fitness Exercises. These provide a quick start to stress reduction and feeling management.  Each exercise is backed by research, but most importantly all  are easy to learn, easy to practice and helpful to anyone dealing with life’s  every day problems or mega-stress.

My book  Parents Are People Too: An Emotional Fitness Program for parents details all the exercises needed to get and stay emotionally strong.

My newest book How to Hold Successful Family Meetings is available in print as well as in an E-book edition.


If you buy it, please share a review.

You can also follow me on the When Good Kids Do Bad Things Facebook page or on Emotional Fitness Training’s Pinterest site helpful where  I  share lots of tips and ideas about staying strong as an individual ans as a parent.  Take a peek by clicking here.

All my books can be found on my Katherine Gordy Levine  pageAmazon’s Author’s Page or on my Goodread’s Page .

You might find my Emotional Fitness Training®’s Pinterest site helpful. Both of my blog posts are pinned there, but I also share lots of other information  from many smart and savey people about staying strong  as a parent and as an individual.

DISCLAIMER: FORGIVE MY GRAMMATICAL ERRORS FOR I HAVE DYSGRAPHIA. If you need perfect posts, you will not find them here. Dysgraphia is a not well known learning disability and 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.  If this troubles you, feel free to read elsewhere.  If you persevere, you are practicing kindness by lifting my spirits for that means you find what I say helpful and that is one of my missions. Kindness always repays those who spread it.