Tag Archives: step parents

How to Make Amends After You Scream and Shout

When your last nerve is being stepped on do you scream and shout, then burn with shame? Common parental behavior. The Care Response eases all.

The CARE Plan

#emotionalintelligence building blog post for #parents and #teachers.


Not so long ago children were taught parents knew best. Today children are taught parents should make children happy. Moreover, when Thomas Gordon proposed that parents need to act like therapists.  He listed these  twelve things parents should never, ever do:

  1. Order
  2. Warn
  3. Advise
  4. Persuade
  5. Moralize
  6. Judge
  7. Approve
  8. Shame
  9. Interpret
  10. Sympathize
  11. Question
  12. Distract

Boggles my mind that his advice is now the gold standard for child rearing. The saddest thing? Gordon’s advice raised expectations higher than any parent can reach.  The result? Much parent bashing and an increase in parental guilt and Shame.

This tactic is common in the business world and is called  Raising  the Goal Post  It means constantly asking people to do better and better  as a way to increase productivity. In time it burns people out or reduces safety.  Moreover, it is a Fallacious or False Argument, what Emotional Fitness Training calls Twisted Thinking.

All this from a man who actually parented only one child and that was  a step daughter.

By the way, his advice best applies to step parents and parents of rebellious teens. Step children’s parents should let the child’s natural parent be the teacher and disciplinarian. Rebellious teens are Gotcha Warriors and best left to learn from life. See this Wiki How if you don’t know how to win a Gotcha War.

Gordon’s bad advice has also infiltrated the school system in the USA. Not helpful.  Hopefully,  these parenting tips will prove more productive than trying to be your child’s therapist.

Parenting tip one: Sharpen your self-soothing skills. How? Learn and us an easy Emotional Fitness Exercises. 

Parenting tip two: Accept imperfection. Unless you physically abuse your child, never praise, comfort, or show love, you are a good enough parent. Perfection is unattainable and a false goal.

Parenting tip three: Learn to forgive yourself and others. Not easy, but possible.

Parenting tip four: Use the CARE Plan

Parenting tip five: Teach your children the skills necessary to survive in real life. To do  that you must use eleven  of Gordon’s banned twelve.

Which one should you not use? Shaming.

By the way, shame is nature’s way of stopping us from doing the unforgivable. It develops in all children at around the age of three. Jerome Kagan says it is nature’s way of preventing the Sin of Cain. Shame also has a cultural part. It starts as an instinct, but the cultural learning determines much of what we feel shamed about.  All but shame are parenting tools that when used properly promote growth.


Remember’s sharing is caring and the easiest way to practice kindness right now is to share this post with someone who will find it inspiring. Thank you.



A WordPress Daily Prompt:Slash and burn: Write 500 words on any topic you like. Now remove 250 of them without changing the essence of your post.

Done. Good advice for when you are tempted to scream and shout at your child. Cut slash and burn as soon as you realize you have lost it, calm down and use the  CARE Plan.


Like any coach, EFTI’s poster coaches inspire, teach, motivate, and reinforce thinking about what matters. To use, print up in color and post there it will be seen often. If not soon if for you, let me know and I will give it priority status.

Poster Coaches can also be used at Family Meetings to start a discussion about what matters. Most are free now, but I do plan to start charging for most in the near future.



Dying A Hero’s Death

Parents, good or bad, near or far, tender or harsh,  are always heroes in a young child’s eyes –  the child’s  survival depends on the parents or substitute parents. Then the teens come  and brains change, parent heroes die.

teen brain

All jokes aside, for a great many parents the shift in thoughts that come about during the late pre-teens or a bit later on turn parents from heroes to villains with one exception – the parents least responsible for trying to keep the teen remember what matters – mainly manners and values. Often this means an absent or semi-absent parent.  This is most seen in adopted children who create a perfect fantasy parent and measure the parents they deal with daily by thoughts of that perfect parent. What happens is a bit too complicated to go into now. If you want more of the reasons why go to the first two links at the bottom of the page.

Suffice it to say if your child no longer wants to be seen with you in public or rolls her eyes at every piece of wisdom you seek to share, the shift has been made and for some parents, the Gotcha Wars begin.

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 Twelve Easy Emotional Fitness Exercises.  These are also exercises which help you soothe your ruffled feathers. For more details about staying strong as a parent buy any one of my eBooks by going to my Amazon Author’s page. 

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.

Finally, remember two things.  It is your job to prepare a child for life in the real world not in the land of Happiness Now and Ever After.  Doing so means blocking the child’s desires and that means falling out of grace for at least a while.  No big deal. Which brings me to the final point.

Stop trying to be a perfect parent. Not only possible but to often define in this day and age as keeping the kids happy and never, ever, punishing. Bah humbug. Punishment merely means pain applied following behavior.  If the punishment is a beating, then it is abuse.  For tips about proper punishing see this post of mine.   Unless you are abusive, if you provide food and shelter, encourage education,  if you work to teach values and manners, love your child and s/he knows it you are a good enough parent. Bask in that idea.

Remember sharing is caring and share this post if you found it useful an think another will also.


This post was inspired by this  Word Press Daily Post Prompt:  When you were five years old, who was your hero? What do you think of that person today?

Links of interest

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.


All teens are all moody and sad. Right? Wrong.  Most are content with their lives, but for one in eight they’ll become so unhappy life does not always seem worth living.

Sad and suicidal?

Just sad or suicidal?
IMAGE FROM: Psych Central News

Are you reading this because you are worried about a teen you love?  Good for you.  Better to worry than to grieve.  Suicide is the third leading cause of death for people aged 15 to 24 and the fourth leading cause of death for children between the ages of 10 and 14.


Children are not supposed to die before their parents.  A child’s death is a deeply wounding life-blow and for most the wound never fully heals.  To me the only worse life-blow would be a child’s death by suicide.  So I feel strongly parents need to know a few things about depression and suicide.

Everyone has ups and downs.  As the singer Neil Diamond tells it, everyone has a Song Sung Blue.  His cure?  Sing it out.  When the blues can’t be sung away, most likely a depression related mood disorder is operating.

A Great British Statemen suffered from a clinical depression,  he once remarked, “I don’t like to stand by the side of a ship and look down into the water. A second’s action would end everything. A few drops of desperation.”

Abraham Lincoln also suffered from depression. He is quoted as saying long before he became President and he had to deal with a civil war, “I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on the earth. Whether I shall ever be better I can not tell; I awfully forebode I shall not. To remain as I am is impossible; I must die or be better, it appears to me.”

He did get better from this particular bout with depression, but was prone most of his life to bouts of blackness.


Tip one:  Depression seems to have a genetic basis so if a family member suffers from depression, has made suicidal gestures, or committed suicide, worry, but also do more than worry—learn about depression and teens, not just here but by some web searching.

Tip two:  Learn about the major symptoms of depression and how these vary according to age and stage: Here are the common ways depression manifests developmentally.

  • Ages one to three common symptoms are: failure to thrive, sleep problems and feeding problems, tantrums, and lack of playfulness.
  • From three to five a depressed child may be accident prone or suffer  from phobias. Depressed children may be excessively guilty or full of self reproaches.
  • From age six to eight somatic complaints, aggressive behaviors, and low self esteem are the chief markers.
  • From nine to twelve, depressed youth day dream, have morbid thoughts, and blame themselves for problems.
  • Adolescents are expected to be moody and depressed and therefore are often under diagnosed or misdiagnosed. Adolescent symptoms resemble adult symptoms and include: appetite loss, a sense of hopelessness, oversleeping, and suicidal thoughts.

Tip three: Think about more than just  symptoms.  Think about severity, domain, and duration. Use a rating scale to think about severity. Suicidal threats, gestures, or serious attempts are all a ten in severity. Nine would be a symptom that disrupts not just the  teen’s life, but yours the family’s life and across all domains, meaning everywhere the kid goes. Eight the disruption of symptoms is only within the family but almost every day. Seven, the disruption is weekly. Six, disruption is every two weeks. Five no disruption. Below five be grateful. Get help if the severity scale is at a six or above. This is not a research based scale, just a way to get you thinking.

Tip three: Get help if your heart and head agree you need help.  Get help if your heart and head cannot agree.

Let me explain that one. My mental health credentials apply here.  I directed mobile mental health crisis teams serving children and teens.  My expertize was eventually recognized and I was asked to train all of NY city’s mobile mental health crisis team in deciding whether to leave a child at home or transport him to an emergency room for admission to a mental health unit.  My strategy as both a foster parent and a clinician trying to keep depressed children and teens was to listen to both my heart or my gut feelings and my head or my clinical knowledge. Only if two agreed I would know how to act.

Tip four:  Even if my heart and head say professional help is not needed, but my worrying about a child kept me awake at night, I sought a higher level expert’s advice. Do the same –  make an appointment to discuss your concerns, not with your child’s pediatrician or the family doctor, but with a board certified child psychiatrist.

Tip five: An often missed suicidal child is one called a Class A suicide.  This is the child who seems to have everything going for her.  When you have everything and still find depression eating at your heart, you can be pushed over the edge for one of two theories.

One says that a life having every thing and still struggling with blackness makes the blackness darker.  The second theory says, such a child has never had to struggle with loss, challenge, or pain; he or she, therefore is not able to deal with pain if it comes calling.  Probable both are at work.

More information for parents coping with a moody or depressed teen can be found in my book ‘When Good Kids Get Depressed‘, which is volume 11 of the When Good Kids Do Bad Things series. Volume 1 is free.


Parenting is hard work and contending with a child who is depressed demands more than good parenting.   Hopefully, the above tips and resources will help you and your child survive  this hard time.


I have published fourteen books on parenting. ‘When Good Kids Do Bad Things. A Survival Guide for Parents of Teenagers‘ is available in print and as an ebook. Shorter ebooks can also be downloaded on specific topics, like lyingcrimerunning awayclothing wars and many other topics. Or you can learn how to run a successful family meeting or help your child with test anxiety. Meanwhile, don’t forget to take care of yourself with ‘Parents Are People Too – An Emotional Fitness Program for Parents‘ or by reading my Emotional Fitness Training blog where you will find free postersdaily exercises and more.

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.


As usual, I will not be posting for at least the next 24 hours.  Taking me-time, family-time, friend-time,  thinking about what matters time.

Tolstoy was a wealthy man, taking a break was easy for him and yet he had difficulty doing it.  How much harder is it for those who work for a living.  Still all need to time to step away from the busyness that in the long run is not as important as we like to think.

As I tell myself a thousand times a day,  stay strong, give lots of love to others, love me, be grateful, practice kindness, live now, give and seek forgiveness, and always hope  the blessing of the forces above and beyond us.