Tag Archives: postaday11


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.


Intellectual Disability

IMAGE FROM: Belifenet.com  Link goes to a post defusing false beliefs about developmental disabilities.  One is that all so disabled are “sweet and happy.”

IMAGE FROM: Press of Atlantic City  This link also takes you to an article about growing old when intellectually disabled. This many is luckier than most for his sister assumed responsibility for him. 

Why this parent advice topic

For a while, I am devoting a great many parent advice posts to getting along in school.  Having talked about the three main learning disabilities, I want to talk a bit about intellectual disabilities and the difference between those and a learning disability.

Intellectual disability: once called idiocy, then retardation, then developmental delay,  and most recently developmental disability, is now called intellectual disability as the result of a bill recently signed by President Obama.

Here is the definition of From the Center for Disease Control–note the new name has not yet been replaced by the CDC:

Developmental disabilities are a group of conditions due to an impairment in physical, learning, language, or behavior areas. These conditions begin during the developmental period, may impact day-to-day functioning, and usually last throughout a person’s lifetime.

Learning disability: The regulations for the United States Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA),  define a learning disability as a

…disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using spoken or written language, which may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations.

This  definition further states that:

…learning disabilities include such conditions as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.

… learning disabilities do not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities; mental retardation; or environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.


Read the previous posts if you have not done so yet.  The changing names represent two current trends.  The desire to dwell on strengths, but mostly the name changes are an effort to do away with stigma.  So my tips today are about reducing stigma.

Parent tip one: Understand the roots of stigma. Stigma stems from fear of the unknown what my guru Jerome Kagan calls one of the major sources of uncertainty.  It is build deep into our beings as a primal instinct and probably served as a survival skill during times when survival was difficult.  Temperment plays a part.  Some are very shy and hate all new and different experiences. Others are what the experts call “Slow to warm up;” these like to be cautious about exploring the new or different. Finally, some are bold and often might rush into where others fear to tread.

Parent tip two:  Understanding how we respond to uncertainty also helps.  What we do when faced with the new or different involves the following strategies;

If we can cast blame for our uncertainty on another person, “My teacher is stupid,” we feel anger and if we think we are stronger, we are likely to get aggressive in one way or another.  If we don’t feel stronger we simmer with anger, and in time may vent it when we feel safe to do so.  Sadly that often means venting in on an innocent.

If we blame ourselves for our uncertainty, “I’m stupid,” we get depressed and may shut down.

If we cannot find someone or something to blame, we get frightened and either run away or shut down – a form of running away.

Parenting tip three: Obviously, one way to end stigma is to share knowledge about differences both personal and professional. One of the reasons I talk about my problems it an attempt to share personal knowledge. I also share what I have learned professionally.

Parenting tip four:  Shame holds many back from acknowledging a stimatized difference.  Most shame is useless.  It develops in order to keep us from doing the unthinkable, meaning killing a family member.  Shame first appears in children just when needed to save the lives of smaller siblings who mess with your possessions including your parent’s attention.  To combat personal shame follow these steps:

  1. Check reality.  Are you killing someone, molesting someone, or trying to oppress someone? Are you betraying another and exposing them to danger?  Shame is warranted
  2. If shame is not warranted do the opposite of what shame says to do. What is that? Shames says hate yourself and disappear. Acting against shame means honoring your strength and making your shameful secrets public.

Parenting tip five:  Kagan also points out that a major source of uncertainty lies in what he calls conflicting beliefs.  Believe in a certain God?  Those who believe differently might make you uncertain about your beliefs or the other uncertain about theirs.  Tools some use to make war.  Applies also to stigmas attached to learning differences.  If you have any doubt about your intellectual ability both those who are seem smarter and those who seem less smart will create uncertainty in you.  Whenever you feel anger or shame growing ask yourself–what uncertainty is working on me.

Parenting tip six:  Kagen makes one other point about what leads us to hurting others.  His study of morality showed that across all cultures, all humans want to be caring and just. These are two universal imperatives.  Why then do we still make war on each other.  Because a third imperative works on us. That imperative–protect those like us from those who are different.


Life is a struggle, full of pain and suffering. Parenting intensifies the struggle. Parent a child who is different means more struggle.  Such struggles also afford us some of life’s best moments. Do all you can to fight shame, to protect your child and remember to be grateful for all you have been given.  Practice kindness every way you can, including liking, commenting, or sharing this post.


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; but 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 by 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 and practicing it will strengthen your ability to deal with stress, frustration, and all the other negative emotions.


Why this parenting topic?

As I do every Friday, I will be signing off soon.  As always, I want to remind you to do the same.  Does the thought frighten you?  Scared an emergency will arise with someone you love and you won’t know about it in time? You need a 911 plan, then as   Alice Caldwell Rice, American writer noted: “It ain’t no use putting up your umbrella till it rains.”

Parenting advice

For parents turning off means not being there if the awful happens to your child.  Understandable, but in terms of the awful, there is nothing you can do, other than pray, hope,  and trust that someone there knows how to help.

As a child, one night, I could not sleep.  When I heard foot steps, I turned over and slept because I thought it was my brother coming home. But the foot steps were because the awful had happened to my brother.  He had been in an automobile accident. The footsteps were parents were heading to the hospital.  I learned that the next morning.

John came home from the hospital three days later minus many teeth and with his jaw wired shut. He said the car landed on his jaw.  He lived on banana milkshakes for six weeks.  He is hale and hardy today.

There were no cell phones in those days, so I guess the call came through on the land line.  The point, however, is the professionals were taking care of my brother.  No matter how soon my parents learned about the accident, all they could have done was go to the hospital and wait which is what they did in the middle of the night anyway.

Still I am not impervious to the fears related to disconnecting.  So here are a few tips before you go totally cold turkey

Parenting tip one:  Do your homework.  As Duane Alan Hahn, blogger at Random Terrain notes, “Fools worry; the wise prepare.”  No parents worry no matter how much they prepare, but wise preparations can reduce our worrying a bit. That means have emergency numbers in your cell phone and your child’s cell phone.  List two family members that can be called if you cannot be reached, and a neighbor who is willing to pound on your door if need be.Have the same numbers on a safety card everyone in the family keeps on them.

Parenting tip two: Make sure everyone included on your child’s emergency care know they are there as back up if you cannot be reached.  Our kids know we do not answer our  phone  on Shabbat, that we will mostly be at services  if not at home, and that in a major emergency which neighbor will alert us to the problem.

Parenting tip three:  Teach your kids what is and is not an emergency.  I’ve mentioned before working on  crisis teams my staff was required to be available 24/7.  In those days we carried beepers.  At our first visit, before leaving, we gave the family a sheet detailing when to call 911, when to beep us, and when to wait for regular business hours to call us on the phone.  Develop a family plan detailing when someone with a problem needs to call 911, AAA, or you.

Parenting tip three: Let go of worrying and just do it.  If you do the above, in terms of planning some unplugged time,  you have done essentially all you can to make certain you are found if “an awful” happens.  Then just do as I said another time:

Just do it. Sometime this weekend go somewhere with your family, plunk everyone down on the ground or a bench and have a sitting and staring and keeping quiet contest.  The last one sitting gets a really good reward.  First one up has to do the dishes for a week and you can plan other punishments down to the one who gets the really good reward.  Or something like that. You get the point.

Also as always plan your me-time and mate-time.  The above serves as family time and quiet time although you might need to add another quiet time for yourself.

Thinking about what matters

“If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.” 
                                                                                             Dalai Lama XIV

Stay strong

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


Sharing and caring creates a better world for all. When you like,  comment, or share one of my posts you become a light in my heart and help me keep up my efforts to stay strong.

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.  Heart and head working together increase the odds you will find useful advice amid all the promises and hopes pushed at you by 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. No matter how much I edit, mistakes get by.  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.



Tomorrow is Yom Kippur, so I will  off-line for at least 24 hours beginning late this afternoon.  I had intended to schedule my Wednesday post, but inadvertently published it.  I was berating myself and then remembered the message of the High Holidays and of the coming the Day of Atonement. I realized in the scheme of life, sending it early was no sin and just as good as scheduling it to post automatically. Probably better.

Yom Kippur  is the day all observant Jews and many who observe only on Yom Kippur seek God’s forgiveness.  We pray for God’s forgiveness.  The service consists of many confessional prayers because when other Jews sin, the Jewish Community has failed.

Yom Kippur atones only for sins between man and G-d, not for sins against another person. To atone for sins against another person, you must first seek reconciliation with that person, righting the wrongs you committed against them if possible.   So on these last few hours, I ask if any of you have been offended by my posts, forgive me.  I have done the best I could, and will continue to do so.

Thank you for all you have given me and may you and the world continue to be offered the opportunity to survive and to bring peace between and for all.

Stay strong, be kind, forgive, be grateful, do all you can to bring peace to your heart, your family, the world.