Tag Archives: Staying Strong Tip


Just saw this great review on Amazon for my Tame the Test Anxiety Monster.    When I am about to give up, those who support me lift me up. Here’s the review:

Tame the Test Anxiety Monster (Teaching A Child To) (Kindle Edition)

As a psychotherapist I am always looking for accessible, accurate and helpful material on emotional regulation to share with my clients. “Tame the Test Anxiety Monster” meets these criteria and goes one better – it employs a gentle humor that can reduce the reader’s anxiety immediately. I know it did mine.

This book will be useful not only for parents struggling to improve their skills in parenting anxious young test-takers, but also for older students who can apply the principles to themselves and adults who have difficulty regulating their own anxieties.

                                                                                  Geraldine Wallman, ACSW, DSW

Thank you Dr. Wallman.  You made my day in a very good way.

Practice Emotional Fitness by forgiving me, if this shameless blog bothered you.

As Hillel, the Elder said, If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?”

Stay strong, brag once in a while about how your heart gets lifted.



Temper tantrums herald the beginning of what is wrongly dubbed  “The Terrible Twos.”  Understandable name for when your cherished precious, usually cooperative,  child throws herself on the floor of the local drug store because you will not buy candy and ultimately you get so embarrassed you either give in or drag her screaming and kicking out of the store and dump her in your car.  But still a negative view, that doesn’t help.

A baby cries because of hunger pangs, colic and other tummy aches,  other pains, and sometimes from being over stimulated. Then the parent’s job is to comfort as much as possible.  A toddler’s cries are mostly cries of frustration.  She can’t do what she wants. Frustration hurts.  When it is only frustration, comfort is called for.  But if you are the one imposoing a limit of one sort or another, the cries express defiance, what parents call temper tantrums.

Make note of this: Defiant temper tantrums mean positive growth.  You want your child to be confident; no one wants a child to be a “Push over.”  Right? Well, when defying you loudly and with vigor your child is saying,   “I am not a push over.” As his parent and first rule setter,  you are his first target in establishing his desire to be the boss of some things.

Moreover, he has probably realized that you might say “No” but with a bit of persuasion he can turn that “No” into a “Yes.”  As much as we know consistency is the first rule of parenting, no parent is able to be as consistent as the experts want.  Life gets in the way.

That is another positive, for  winning an occasional yes from a parent fosters the sense that she does not always have to do what another wants.  She is learning to negotiate the real world of human relations.  So the “Terrible Twos are not so terrible, but a time to use to move your child ahead.  You need, however, to have thought some things through and have a strategy. Here are the must haves:

Know the rules you will never allowed to be broken. For toddlers onward the absolute “No-no’s” include: hurting yourself, hurting others, putting yourself or others in danger. Translate these in to simple phrases

No hurting

No hitting.

No hitting

Not safe

And finally, there are the rules about property:


Your sister’s.

Your father’s.

The dog’s.

No breaking.

No throwing.

         No drawing on my walls.

Now a few extreme soft love parent advisors will object to the use of the word “no.”  I object to keeping children from learning how to function in the real world.  “No” is a fact of life in that world.  So I am not afraid to say “no.”

Now here is where it gets hard—shades of gray.  I was such a good teacher of the “No hurting” rule that one of my sons was being hit and not defending himself.  That was when I began teaching self-defense and assertiveness.  But first things first, you want the no hitting rulr firming established.

So here is another shade of grey.  Parents need to rule their toddlers and pre-schoolers by upholding the bully’s motto: ”Might makes right.”  You know how to keep baby safe, you know the rules of getting along with others. Children are not born knowing those rules.  You have to teach them and the teaching means enforcement. Why else do you think you are bigger,  stronger and mightier.

So when a two year old has a temper tantrum. you are the one in charge. Here are the Mean Levine Rules for dealing with defiant based temper tantrums in a two or three year old.

  1. Use time out as detailed by Super Nanny .  As soon as timeouts have been established add Phenlons “One, two, three, Magic.  Doing so gives even a two year old a choice.
  2. Try never to give in.  Err on the side of being tough but not abusive.
  3. Do not give in on the big rules.
  4. When you do give in and you will, try these strategies which make the giving in your decision.
    • I am giving in because you are too little to accept “No..
    • I am too tired  to make you do the right thing
    • Too many people are watching you be a baby, so I am giving in.Always re-establish that you care when the temper tantrum or time out is over.

A word or two about embarrassing or shaming.  Some would say never shame or embarrass your child.  Again, over-protecting a child’s feelings does not prepare her for life in the real world.

David Elkind,  one of  parent advisor’s I admire, had this to say about  self esteem, “…the fact is too much ….too much is made about self-esteem. Feeling good about yourself is healthy. But people should feel bad if they have hurt someone or done something wrong.”

Even if you could somehow manage  not to shame, your child will know shame. The same with guilt. Those  feelings were created by life or the creator or the force to help us do keep us from doing what most regard as unthinkable.  A little shame now and then is not evil or even abusive. Constant shame is abusive, so be sure when you need to shame, you make amends when the battle of wills is over.

Now when your child’s thought process mature a bit, you need a different strategy.  The happens first around six years of age which is why most cultures  begin trusting children to tend younger siblings or herd animals at that age.  In western society this is the age children start school because most will be able to sit quietly and follow rules. Once this stage is entered on, the best parental strategy is “Let’s make a deal.”  You do for me, and I’ll do for you.  Behavior charts again as detailed by Super Nanny are the tools of choice.

Then we come to the terrible pre-teens and teen. Again this is a period of growth and a sign that our darling off spring are now thinking at yet different and higher level.  Of course, for parents that often means. they are once again targets. When my youngest could think well enough to realize there were only 750 major league ball players and could also think not about his big dream, but his actual skill level, he accused us of misleading him. We didn’t, we didn’t even want him to play in Little League, but that is how it goes with being a parent.  You are a target.

This age and stage is when Parent Effectiveness Training ({PET) is most helpful.  PET focuses on natural consequences and letting life do the teaching. Parents need to maintain some rules. To the ones taught a two year old a final one needs to be added: Obey the law.

Now this also comes with shades of grey as some laws are not reasonable, but in a free country, most are, so parents need to stand strong.  Parents who have not always been law abiding, are going to have a harder time with this and many of us flout this or that laws.  I drive over the speed limit, I have my dog off leash when it is forbidden.  I barely pause at some stop signs.

So talk about the little rules many break, why and when.  Do it in the form of questions.  “When might it be okay not to stop fully at a stop sign?”  “When might it be okay to let a dog off leash?” Also make it clear, if you not obey the law, you must accept the consequences.”

Teens not only can handle this type of discussion, but will relish it.


You will need to be in charge of your feelings in order to follow my suggestions.  I wrote my book Parents Are People Too An Emotional Fitness Training Program for Parents to give parents the tools needed to take charge of negative emotions that accompany being an enforcer.  I founded Emotional Fitness Training, Inc. so every one could become an Emotional Fitness Star.   This blog, my Emotional Fitness Training, Inc. Blog and my  Pinterest Board provide on-going tips for staying emotionally strong.


Repost this if you feel it will help another, like this post or share it.  You will be helping me stay strong and maybe some others as well.   Click here for my free Ebook: The 12 Daily Emotional Fitness Training Exercises.



The Word Press Weekly Photo Challenge called for pictures of hands.  I immediately thought of this one. One of my grand’s hands nestled in his fathers on baby’s birth day.  Took me a while to find it, but I give it to you now.

In his father’s hand.

STAYING STRONG TIP:  Pictures hold memories.  Loving memories soften bad feelings, improve the moment.  Having actual picuturs matters; but holding good moment memories like this in your heart also help.

PRACTICE KINDNESS: Being kind circles back to the giver.  Share this post if you think another will find it strengthening.  Thank you and as I tell myself a hundred times, stay strong.


If you live with a teenager, chances are you have been a victim at least once or twice. What do I mean by a Gotcha War? It is a battle of opposing wills.  One person has right on their side. The other person doesn’t care about right or wrong; he or she wants to keep you arguing until you blow it and look like a fool.

Even dogs can play a Gotcha War game. We have had Punky the pup for about two months now. He plays a hard and fast game of Gotcha War when off leash at the dog park. When you want to put him back on the leash he’ll run up to you prancing and dancing, but  not near enough for you to get the leash on. You can almost hear the little rascal laughing as he dances away. Unlike human Gotcha Warriors, however, he can be bribed with a piece of cheese.

Now most of our foster children hated rules and regulations and were seasoned Gotcha Warriors. To learn more about Gotcha Wars go to this  How to Win a Gotcha War Wikihow, or better yet, buy my book.

Why do kids play this game? For many reasons, but I think the majority of my foster kids had a strong sense of honor and often had to pick what I call “A Guilt-driven Gotcha War” when torn between honor and wanting to do something forbidden.

I describe Jamie in the book.  He wanted to go to a party back at his home town. His probation officier had nixed all home visits. The morning of the party Jamie began his Gotcha War. He didn’t get out of bed when called, he didn’t do his chores, he refused to leave the house when we wanted to go to the local swimming pool. All the time he was breaking  our rules, he moaned and groaned about how awful it was living with us.

Now I knew what was up and worked hard to remain above the fray and follow the advice I give most when a Gotcha Warrior is out to get you.  I shrugged my shoulders, I sent the others to the swimming pool and retired to do some work on my computer. Jamie kept up his harrassment, I kept my cool until I was heading for the bathroom and Jamie grabbed my arm.

He said plaintively pulling on me, “I need to talk.”

I replied a angrily, jerking my arm away, “And I need to go.”

That was all he needed, “You’re paid to care and you won’t even talk to me.  I’ve had it. F… you.”

And out the door he went.

I managed to yell, “Come back when you’ve calmed down and thought things over.”

Come back he did, the next morning. He was in trouble with his probation officer, but he had gained lots of respect from his peers, spent time with his girlfriend, and forced me to get angry enough so he could use me as an excuse to do what he wanted.

What Is A Parent to Do?  The less the better. Minimal response, an indifferent or bemused air. Quiet restatement of rules. Timing yourself out by absenting the scene. The more you argue or get upset, the more the Gotcha Warrior is fueled.

When I directed crisis teams we were called to an elementary school to help deal with a Gotcha Warring ten year old. His favorite trick was to run out of the classroom and head for the roof saying “I’m going to jump.” Scary stuff for any one to deal with. He would often end up restrained and hustled off to the psychiatric emergency room.  The consensus was that he was not at all suicidal, but attention seeking.  I was able to convince the school  not to react. I stationed staff where they could see and not be seen.

With everyone ignoring him, the young man wandered the hall for a few minutes and then returned to the class room. This youngster had major problems, and was referred for a full evaluation. Turned out, he had an undetected learning disability and when that was properly treated, he stopped being a Gotcha Warrior.

Think staying above the fray is easy? Not if you have ever met a determined Gotcha Warrior. Through the years it has helped me to remember these lines from the movie Bull Durham:  “Some days you win. Some days you lose. Some days it rains.”

Every good kid will play a few Gotcha Wars, if it is constant and destroying the family atmosphere, help is needed.  Find a good family therapist.  Things can be better.

[Image source]