Be The Change You Want To See In The World

The holiday season is upon us! This is the perfect time of year to model for your children how to give back through volunteering. You are showing your children that good deeds not only help others who are less fortunate, but also allow your family to experience the true meaning of the holidays.

Be the change you want to see in the world – or at least in your own home. Have your kids help you sort through your kitchen cupboards to donate non-perishables. And the next time you are grocery shopping, mention to your kids that you are buying two boxes of pasta – one for your house and one to donate. Have your kids go to the cereal aisle and get a few boxes for home and a few to donate. Tell them you are going to clear out the coat closet and donate outgrown coats and sweaters. Ask them to look through their closets for any clothes that are too small for them so that they can join you in donating

Assist younger children to “Keep 2, Give 1”. I have learned that telling kids, “We are going to give away some of your toys and you are going to love it!” is not the optimal way to get buy-in for the “donating-feels-good” concept. But you are likely to have a more positive reaction if you explain to your child that they need to make room for new toys. Give your child some control over the process by allowing them to choose which items to donate. A good rule of thumb is that for every two toys your child keeps, one toy is to be donated. A wonderful place to drop off donations is Goodwill. (

Tweens love to look back at their childhood and realize they are now the “big kids.” On your next Target run, invite your tween along to take a stroll down memory lane and remember which toys they loved when they were little. Challenge them to bring $20-$25 of their own money to shop in the toy section for their favorite little kid toy that they can buy and then donate.

For teens, discuss with them the fact that there are kids their age with parents who are struggling to make ends meet. Assist them to recognize how hard high school must be for teens who don’t have what is needed to look their best. Take your teen to CVS or Walgreens and have them put together a grooming kit for a teenage boy or girl. Items can include a toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, hair products, make-up and shaving items. Toys and hygiene kits can be donated to LA Housing. (

Talk with your kids about making volunteering fun by going with a group of friends or as a family. The Big Sunday website ( is chock full of organizations that need holiday volunteers. For kids and teens  who love being outside, a service visit to Tree People ( is a lovely way to spend a day. In addition, most high schools have mandatory service hours so your teen can give back while also fulfilling a graduation requirement.

If you would like to talk about ways to encourage your child to enjoy service work, lets talk! Please give me a call at 310-849-6751 or email me at

Happy Holidays,                                                                                                                                                                   Jeri





Strategies for Avoiding The Homework Battles

Homework. Just the sight of that word is enough to make some parents weep with frustration.

One of the most frequent issues that arise in parenting counseling is the afternoon battle over homework. There is usually a vicious cycle at play: your child procrastinates about getting started, you start nagging, and your child becomes overwhelmed and shuts down.

It might help to remind yourself that there is actually a reason for doing homework. Homework gives your child a chance to practice what she has learned in school. Further, homework helps children develop age-appropriate discipline and independence with respect to schoolwork.

But what often happens is that the kids who need the most practice have the hardest time completing homework. Parents should never assume that a child who resists homework is just “lazy.” Children inherently want to do well in school and they generally want to please their parents. If you know that your child has the intellectual potential to work independently yet says that he “hates school” or “hates reading” you might want to explore having your child evaluated for the presence of an attention or learning issue.

For children with learning challenges, doing homework is like going on a hike with 20 pound weights around your ankles and big blisters on your heels. It is possible, but painful and difficult. So of course your child will look for ways to postpone such a painful and discouraging task.

So, what to do? Appreciate that homework is frustrating for your child and put into place a plan that will help your child learn to work through frustration and develop self-discipline.

A Homework Plan:

1. Set aside a time for homework that works for your family. For most kids, they do not want to do homework after doing school work for eight hours. Afterschool is a time for hobbies and exploring possible new interests in sports, dance, art, robotics, cooking – whatever your child enjoys. Try having homework time after dinner or while dinner is cooking to see if that works better for your child.

 2. Choose a spot for homework that works for your child and family. Some kids like to be at the kitchen table while others prefer a desk in their room. Parents should be available to help, offer encouragement, and answer questions.

3. Talk with your child’s teacher about the expected length of homework time. If your child is unable to finish in the expected time frame, have him write a note to the teacher that states he worked for the amount of time and note the assignments he was able to complete. This information is helpful for your child’s teacher to see how long it takes your child to do homework and determine if modifications need to be made.

 4. Begin with a reasonable amount of work time. If your child can only focus for 10 minutes and then needs a break, then that is the starting time. Try 15 minutes the next week and support your child as they gradually become able to focus for longer amounts of time. If your child needs frequent breaks, try to work up to 20 minutes of work followed by a five minute break.

5. Choose your words carefully. Instead of “if you don’t do your homework you won’t be able to…” try a language of opportunities like, “as soon as you finish your homework we will have a chance to play a quick game of Jenga!”

Some more tips: acknowledge all efforts, no matter how small. Provide positive and frequent encouragement. Praise effort not innate ability. Do not compare to siblings who may have an easier time doing homework.

It isn’t always easy to stay calm when your child is melting down about homework. If you would like to talk further about ways to avoid the homework battles, please call me at 310-849-6751 or email me at I am here to help!

Best,                                                                                                                                                                               Jeri


Making And Keeping Friends

Back to school! It is an exciting time of new backpacks, new shoes, new teachers, and new friendships.

The academic aspect of school is a top priority for parents. But a successful school year also depends on your child’s ability to make and keep friends. A child earning straight A’s, but feeling socially isolated, may find going to school a daily challenge. Friends enrich our lives, increase our self-esteem, and provide moral support when life is difficult. And from a developmental perspective, the ability to form successful peer relationships is a critical life long skill.

When I work with students, I explain to them that there are three basic “secrets” for making and keeping friends:

  1. SHARE! Try to keep an extra pencil in your backpack to share if someone needs one. Or if you see that a peer doesn’t have a snack, offer to share some of your chips or crackers (if food allergies aren’t an issue).
  2. No gossiping or spreading rumors! If you have nothing nice to say, just don’t say anything at all. The person who is being talked about will ALWAYS find out who started the rumor – always.
  3. Be a positive person – Try not to complain, give your friends compliments, and be interested in other people’s activities.

Over the years I have collected advice about how to make and keep friends from my students. The following are some of their very wise suggestions:

  1. Be yourself. Everyone will like the real you.
  2. Always stand up for yourself and others.
  3. Be clean! Brush your teeth, have clean clothes and clean hair.
  4. Get involved – play a sport, participate on or off stage in a theatre production, or join student council.
  5. Remember: a conversation is 50/50. You talk for half the time and the other person talks for the other half. Try not to talk too much or too little.

The reality is that some kids just have a harder time fitting in. Impulsive kids often act in ways that inadvertently cause obstacles for friendship such as struggling to take turns or controlling their anger if they do not get their way.

If you notice that your child is struggling socially, try to practice building skills at home. For example, practice taking turns during a family board game and explain that friends at school will expect this behavior.

Another suggestion is to meet with your child’s teachers as they will have great insight into your child’s peer interactions and may also be able to suggest classmates for after school playdates.

If your child has a playdate at your home, take some time to prep for the event. Talk with your child about what it means to be a good host. Have your child choose some games or activities in advances and teach your child that it is good manners to let the guest make the choice of what to play with first. Also, serve a fun snack to make the playdate  feel special. Research has shown that children will usually only remember the last 15-20 minutes of an event, so if there is a rough patch in the middle of the playdate, you can step in to ensure that the playdate ends on a positive note.

I know that worrying about your child’s social skills can be overwhelming and I am here to help. If you would like support in this area, please give me a call at 310-849-6751 or send me an email at

Warmly,                                                                                                                                                                        Jeri


How To Teach Your Child To Be A Positive Thinker

The sun is shining, it is a beautiful summer day, and you decide to treat your kids to a day at the beach. You excitedly tell the kids to get ready and one child races to put on a swimsuit but your other child, with a grumpy expression, says, “I hate going to the beach! It is too hot and too sandy! I never have fun at the beach.” You feel yourself getting irritated and frustrated. Why does your child have a negative attitude?

Some kids are naturally upbeat and positive whereas some kids tend to focus on what is wrong in any given situation. No matter how much is right, these kids have a way of noticing and commenting on every little problem, no matter how small. Parenting a child who often has a negative view of life can feel like hard work.

The good news for both parents and children is that negativity can be modified through cognitive-behavioral strategies. Your child can learn to recognize and shift out of a negative mode. It takes some practice, but once your child gets the hang of it, life can get a whole lot easier.

When I was a school counselor, I taught a class called “The Positive Thinkers Club.” I encouraged my students to try new strategies when approaching the obstacles that crossed their path. The following are some examples that may work for your child:

1) THE CUP IS ½ FULL – Explain to your child about facing life with a “cup is ½ full” perspective. You can demonstrate this concept with a clear glass filled halfway with a favorite beverage. Explain that it isn’t the actual amount of liquid in the glass that makes a person happy or sad. Rather, it is the thoughts in a person’s head that determine how they feel. A person can think, “Darn, I only have ½ a glass of lemonade to drink, it’s not fair!” or choose to think, “Yay, I get to drink ½ a glass of delicious lemonade!” Either way there is ½ a glass of something to drink. Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing depends on how a person chooses to feel.

2) JUMPING HURDLES – Teach your child that he or she can “flex” their brain and learn to think positively in order to “jump” the virtual hurdles in their path in the same manner they can “flex” their muscles to jump an actual hurdle. An example of a virtual hurdle is seeing that there is only cheese pizza when you wanted pepperoni and deciding to “jump” the hurdle and enjoy the cheese pizza anyway.

3) BAD MEMORIES BACKPACK – Explain to your child that people carry around a virtual backpack of memories. When the backpack is filled with bad memories, a person feels weighed down. But a person can choose to leave the past behind. Let your child know that there are many people in their lives – parents, grandparents, teachers, friends, coaches – who are available to help them lighten their load. Your child can choose to draw or write about a bad memory and then give the paper to a trusted adult and allow it to be thrown away. Or they can talk about about a bad memory with a trusted adult and allow the adult to “take” the memory out of the child’s virtual backpack. When a virtual backpack is light, it is easier to “jump” the hurdles of life!

4) THE HIGH-FIVE GAME – Explain to your child that when they are upset or angry it is hard to notice anything positive. The High-Five Game helps kids to focus on the positive even in a difficult situation. To play the game, have your child think of a situation that really bothers them and then make a fist. The fist represents the anger a person feels when they are focused on the bad parts of a situation. You child can then think of five positive things to focus on and raise one finger out of his fist for each positive thing. Once all five fingers are up, your child can give themselves a pat on the back for being a positive thinker.

These strategies, and more, can be found in the wonderful book, “What To Do When You Grumble Too Much – A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Negativity” by Dawn Huebner.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by your child’s negativity and would like to learn more about how to assist your child to see life with a cup 1/2 full attitude, please give me a call at 310-849-6751 or email me at

All my best,                                                                                                                                                                         Jeri

ADHD and Perfectionism – Stuck In The Small Details

The stereotypical child with ADHD races through homework without worrying about follow through and details. While there is some truth to that perception, there are also many students with ADHD who are perfectionists. These kids are trying their best to do well on any given assignment, but they often get bogged down in the smallest of details, making it virtually impossible to complete a task.

Often the perfectionism shows up as an inability to begin an assignment. When asked to write a paragraph, many kids with ADHD become overwhelmed at the sight of a blank piece of paper. They will perseverate about writing the first sentence and work on this task for a long period of time. Teachers often notice kids with ADHD will write a sentence, and then erase it, and then continue to write and erase, over and over. This behavior is stressful and time consuming for a student. It is also one factor that explains why students with ADHD often do not complete assignments on time.

Perfectionism can also show up in math class. Some students will perseverate over making sure they write their numbers in perfect columns. Math teachers often observe students write an answer down only to erase it, and then write and erase again, until the worksheet is torn.

It is understandable why students with ADHD and perfectionism become frustrated and overwhelmed with writing and math assignments. In addition, many kids with ADHD also tend to have anxiety. The end result: needing to complete a task perfectly becomes overwhelming which then leads to an emotional meltdown.

Parents can help their child handle their need for perfection by modeling that it is okay for things not to be perfect. The following strategies may be of help:

1.) Parents can try not to tell their child to “just do their best.” The word “best” is often a trigger for kids who feel the need to be perfect. Instead, parents can praise a good effort rather than the results.

2.) Parents can discuss the idea of “good enough.” For example, a surgeon is someone who needs to focus on small details during a surgery. But there are many more instances where it is better to complete a job in a “good enough” fashion than to never finish due to obsessing over minor details.  

3.) Give perspective. For example, you can explain that time spent on a history project may be well spent but spending hours on making handmade Valentines with painstaking details may not be necessary.

4.) Partner with your child’s teacher. Meet with the teacher to discuss the situation and ask the teacher to remind your child that making mistakes is part of learning.

Intense perfectionism may be a sign of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Parents should trust their instincts about whether or not their child’s perfectionism is typical. If your child’s perfectionism seems extreme to the point that it is taking a toll on your child and your family’s everyday life, this may be an issue that should be addressed by a mental health professional.

If you are worried about your child’s perfectionism, let’s talk about it. I am here to help! Please call me at 310-849-6751 or send me an email at

Best,                                                                                                                                                                                  Jeri