Tag Archives: Thinking about what matters


Remember Wendy Whiner as played by Gilda Ratner on Saturday Night Live? We loved to laugh at her, but a whining child imakes us want to whine.  What to do?  Start with this poem and then read the  article accompanying it.

How to stop whining

Jean Tracy, MSS is one of my Parenting Gurus. She offers lots of free advice that is on target and presented with lots of  tips for applying her advice. This article is one.  Go here to read it.  After reading the article, subscribe to her Free Newsletter and Receive 80 Fun Activities to Share with Your Kids

I really liked her suggestion in this article to discuss the whining at a time a child is not whining. She suggests starting that conversation by talking about a time you felt sorry for yourself and then talking about  activities that have helped you. Finally she suggests teaching:

The Daydream Activity:

1. Tell her, “When you’re daydreaming and feeling sad, become aware of self-pity.”
2. Physically shake your head “No!” to the daydream.
3. Yell, “STOP” to the thoughts.
4. Come back the present. Notice your body and the things around you.
5. Reconnect with what’s happening now and focus on something good.

Advise her to use this activity as often as she needs

Parenting tips

These Three Emotional  Fitness Training tips enhance Jean Tracy’s Day Dream Activity.

The first: Teach your child what matters. And that starts with rating pain. When your toddler is crying uncontrollable after a bump and cannot even get up to come to you, go to the child pick her up offer comfort, and  say “Big Pain”; when toddler is coming to you for comfort call the pain “Medium  Pain”; when obviously a bit hurt but not needing comfort say ” Small Pain.”  You can do this even before the child starts talking.

Talk directly to school aged and teen about what matters. For example, words that hurt create big pains, but  physical hurts are usually worse.

Words that hurt often lead to what Albert Ellis calls  “awfulizing” or making a mountain out of a mole hill. Whiners do this a lot.  Better than whining about someone else’s hurtful words teach your child to rate the truth of the words, to look for a lesson, to ignore sch words when obviously spoken to bully or hurt.

The  second tip: teach your child how to  calm negative self talk with EFT’s Sloganeering. This builds on the Day Dream Activity.


Help your child develop some slogans and to use them when ever tempted to whine. Teach her to bring helpful slogans  into play after the word “Poof” in the Day Dream Activity.

The third: Strengthen all your child’s Self Soothing Skills.    Buy my  eBook Self-soothing to Create Calm” now.

It costs less than an ice cream cone  Not only will you  help your child, but as you learn the exercises you will strengthen your emotional fitness.

Remember you can read Amazon eBooks on any of your devices by using this application.


Remember sharing is caring and the easiest way to practice kindness is to share this post if you found it helpful.  Share it even if it doesn’t speak to you, it will speak to some. Didn’t like it?  Comment and tell me why and how to improve.



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

Four Rules to Teach That Set Your Child on the Way to the Good Life

Lucky me, my parents showed me the paths to the good life. Eventually, I realized what they taught could be boiled down to four rules.

Rules for the good life

The paths we all need to walk in order to bring peace on earth.

A quick post inspired by this Word Press Daily Prompt.Childhood Revisited
by Michelle W: Sure, you turned out pretty good, but is there anything you wish had been different about your childhood? If you have kids, is there anything you wish were different for them?

The rules speak for themselves. Do they speak to you? The more you follow them the more your child will walk in your footsteps and find the way to the good life.


Remember sharing is caring and the easiest way to practice kindness is to share this post if you found it helpful.  Share it even if it doesn’t speak to you, it will speak to some. Didn’t like it?  Comment and tell me why and how to improve.



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

Four Rules To Simplify Parenting

The Four Rules play out in many different ways, but used when teaching or disciplining a child, each rule teaches what matters. This covers one:

Poster for those raised to know what matters

A Facebook post. Check out the EFTI Store for more parenting tips and inspiration. For now most  Poster Coaches can be downloaded free.

 The Four Rules

Respect yourself

Rule one: Respect self

Rule two: Respect others

Rule three: Respect property

Rule four: Respect reasonable laws

Examples of how to use each rule

Respect self:

“Respect yourself, stay safe.”
“Respect yourself, don’t let others hurt you.”
“Respect yourself; wash your hands before eating.”
“Respect yourself, eat healthy.”
“Respect yourself, stay out of trouble.”
“Respect yourself; don’t say things you will regret later.”
“Respect yourself, do the right thing.”

Respect others:

“Respect others, take turns.”
“Respect others, don’t gossip.”
“Respect others; say ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you.’”
“Respect others, don’t call names.”
“Respect others, keep your language clean.”
“Respect others; don’t talk when others are talking.”
“Respect others; keep your hands to yourself.”

Respect property:

“Respect property, don’t break your toys.”
“Respect property, don’t write on the wall.”
“Respect property, put your toys away.
“Respect property, keep things neat and clean.“
“Respect property, put your trash in the trash can.”
“Respect property, drive safely.”

Respect the law:

“Respect the law, cross when the light is green,”
“Respect the law, don’t take what does not belong to you.”
“Respect the law, don’t fight physically unless the other person physically attacks you first and you can’t get away.”
“Respect the law, if it is unreasonable, work to change it.”

 SIX tips to help enforce these rules

Parenting tip one: Put the rules in writing. Here they are as a Poster Coach you can download for free.  To use it print it up in color and post it where you will see it often.


Paths to the good life

Visit the EFTI Store for more tips, exercises, and inspiration. For the  month of May and June, most Poster Coaches can be downloaded for free.

Do so even if your child is still in the cradle. You have to model the rules and that means thinking of this way a  habit. The poster Coach will help you do that. The more times you frame unacceptable or acceptable behavior using these rule, the more doing so becomes a good habit.

Parenting tip two:  Teach according to age and stage. For example, “Respect the law, cross when the light is green” works for beginning to teach the rules. “Respect the law, if it is unreasonable work to change it.” works for teens.

Parenting tip three: Use a warning system when a child is about to break a rule or is already breaking it.  Tell the child what the rule is, announce a punishment if the rule is broken or in the process of being broken, give some good.   Think TAG,   Examples:

T = Tell.  The school called and said you cut three classes today. A = Announce. You won’t get any good behavior money tonight. G = Give.  You did better yesterday.  I hope you can get your act together again soon.  I know you like doing things the right way.  It is up to you.

T = Tell.  I am missing $5.00 from my pocket-book. A = Announce.  As we agreed, when I miss money, your allowance pays. G = Give. I would like to give you all the money you want, but I can’t.  What happens next is up to you. The rules are clear.

After you TAG a child, end the conversation then and there.  If you must, get up and leave the room while saying something like “I don’t have time to discuss this further, you broke the rule, you know the punishment, I have more important things to do.”

Thomas Phelon uses a variation of TAG this with his One, Two, Three Magic , Both are great ways to discipline and can begin when you child is  two years old.

Parenting tip four: Ignore rule three when the child is engaging in unsafe or destructive behavior.  That is the time to take a hint from the dogs – growl menacingly; in human terms grwoling means, scream and shout, send the kid immediately to time out or if necessary physically force obedience.

Parenting tip five: When you have to scream and shout, use the CARE response to mend the relationship. C is for confronting unacceptable behavior or behavior that has stepped on your last nerve. A is for allying with the person you just blasted, take a calming breath, soften your voice, remember the good things about the person; R is for reviewing what set you off. This occasionally means apologizing and admitting you are have a bad mood moment. The main purpose of the R, however, is to see if the child knows what s/he did wrong, so depending on the child’s age state what made you blow or for preteens and teens ask if they know what the did that lead to your screaming and shouting.  E is End on a positive note. “I know you can do better” is one way to end. For the child who still loves hugs, a hug combined with the above works well.

Parenting tip six: Strengthen your self-soothing skills. Try these Easy Emotional Fitness Exercises or buy my eBook Self-soothing to Create Calm in Your Life.  The book costs less than a latte and does more good. Remember you do not need a kindle to read an eBook. Amazon has a free application you can download to read any of their books on any device. 


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.



This word press daily prompt inspired this post – Placebo Effect: If you could create a painless, inexpensive cure for a single ailment, what would you cure and why?

I think I would opt to cure bad manners, as essentially good manners mean respecting yourself, others, property, and reasonable laws.

Three Ways To Help Kids Who Stuggle with Spelling

Thsi thitw uch fo ym righting ooks like then ym rain ets its down way ith be. I have a lesser known learning disability called Dsygraphia. Painful. Cartoon about failing

When you have dysgraphia you would welcome brain surgery if it helped. Thank you Doug Savage for permission to use your cartoons.

Could not figure out what I was writing. Here’s how the first sentence should read. This is what much of my writing  looks like when my brain gets its own way with me.

I only discovered that I had dysgraphia when my sons were diagnosed with it by a very smart psychologist. I am luckier than most for my dysgraphia did not come attached to dyslexia as it often does. I think that was partly because at the time I was learning to read children were being taught to sight read. Although that could be a mistake on my part; anyway I was not taught phonics and have an awful time sounding out strange words.

PAREnting tips

Parenting tip one: Know when to start worrying. The emphasis on the importance of academic success puts great pressure on parents, teachers, and children. The wish is that all can make A’s and get into a top college and then go on to get advanced degrees and win the Nobel Prize in medicine or physics.

First reality check: the odds of anyone winning one of those Nobel Prizes is probably larger than winning a mega lottery without even buying a ticket.

Second reality check: winning the Nobel Peace prize is a greater accomplishment, but sill like winning the mega lottery even when you buy a ticket.

Third reality check: Pressuring kids  to achieve  academic success only works for the 25% of all kids lucky enough to be born with the necessary resources including a safe environment, good school and the  talents needed to be successful in school from day one. Hurrah for those lucky ones, but the rest need help not pressure. .

Jerome Kagan, leading child development researcher, says by the third grade, students have ranked themselves academically and not accurately. Put simply he notes that by the third grade kids rank themselves and others as top student, good  student, dumb student.  Note there is no average student. Guess what the learning disabled student thinks about his or her ability?

So when to worry about the possibility of any learning disability?  For academic problems take your time. Learning reading, writing, and arithmetic happens for different kids at different times. Some do not master the basic skills until near the end of the second grade.  If, however, the child is very unhappy in school or teachers express concern, think about an evaluation. The earlier a learning disability is diagnosed the better.

That said a few other  things are worth worrying about early on. Most experts say worry a bit about these things in a pre-schooler:

  • Delayed speech – but do remember Einstein did not speak until he was three-years-old
  • Poor concentration
  • Difficulty following directions
  • Difficulty with buttoning, zipping, and tying

From my experiences with children, mine and others ,I would also add:

  • hyperactivity
  • difficulty putting age appropriate puzzles together
  • difficulty coloring between the lines

Parenting tip two: Get competent professional help.  Try to get a psychologist not affiliated with a school. The money you might have to spend will be well worth it. School psychologists have a school based agenda and once a child has been diagnosed can be helpful, but not necessarily before. Many hired by schools are either not eager to say a child has a learning disability or too eager to cast that label on a child. Why? Funding of Learning Disabled students varies from school to school and as was noted by Jerry Macquire – “Follow the money.”

If you cannot afford a private psychologist, go to your local mental health clinic and request their help.

Parenting tip three:  Develop an Added Care Team and make sure to include an educational advocate for yourself and one for your child. Again, schools will often offer advocates, many are helpful, but a few lean toward the school’s needs rather than your child’s needs.

Parenting tip four: Know what matters and teach the same to your child. Contrary to the idea that academic success leads to the good life, research shows that what Daniel Goleman popularized as Emotional Intelligence matters more.  Why I founded Emotional Fitness Training, Inc. To teach a child what matters you must:

  1. Help him or her learn to self-sooth. Starts with getting you newborn to go to sleep on his or her own; then moves on to dealing with pain which is the subject of one of my recent blog posts. Hone your  self-soothing skills so you can stay patient  and calm as your child struggles with learning to make in it the real world.
  2. Once a child starts walking and talking, the next step is teaching manners.
  3. And at any age focusing on what matters matters; particularly important with teens and pre-teens.

Parenting tip five: Open many roads to success.  In addition to pressure to achieve academically, our culture is star focused. Don’t think so – think about the salaries of athletes, movie stars, social media stars.  To combat this:

  1. Emphasize the pleasures and not the outcomes of sports  or performing.
  2. Encourage trying things for the fun of it.
  3. Help all your children find hobbies that give pleasure. Reading was one of mine.
  4. Encourage practice of Emotional Fitness Training’s Easy Exercises.

Mark Katz a psychologist friend who specializes in learning disabilities wrote a great book  On Playing a Poor Hand Well about helping kids with learning struggles. I see you can get it used for less than a movie costs. Worth it even at the full price.


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.



This word press daily prompt inspired this post Land of confusion: Which subject in school did you find impossible to master? Did math give you hives? Did English make you scream? Do tell!

Actually, another learning disability was and remains impossible for me to master, Math. I have trouble remember numbers and formulas and my dysgraphia also interferes. My English teachers appreciated the way I thought despite my mistakes. For Math teachers there was always a right answer and a wrong one, particularly in the early grades. The result for me meant missing  many recesses being drilled or standing at the black board, shamed and defeated.

So if you or your child have hate math, you might want to explore this learning disablity. Dyscalculia.