Category Archives: Resilience

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

Allowing Your Children To Learn How To Problem Solve

Are you always worried about your kids? Constantly on the lookout for any potential danger that might harm your child? Ready whenever necessary to jump in to ensure that your kids are spared any discomfort? If so, I understand how exhausting this can be!

When my son was young, he forgot to bring his math book home so I drove him back to school and actually begged the guard to let him go to his locker to get the book. When my daughter told me she was involved in a conflict with a peer, I called the other child’s mother to help resolve the issue. I knew my hypervigilant behavior wasn’t helping my kids but I didn’t know how to change.

Stopping this behavior came in the form of Wendy Mogel’s book, “The Blessing of a Skinned Knee.” This book resonated deeply with me. Realizing that I was not only completely enabling my children’s inability to problem solve for themselves, I was sending the message loud and clear to my kids that they were incompetent. This new-found clarity was liberating but difficult: making a deliberate choice to not be a hypervigilant parent took every amount of willpower I possessed. But I soon saw the results – when my son realized I wouldn’t be bringing his forgotten PE clothes to school, he began to remember them on his own. My daughter began choosing to spend time with friends who were kind and loyal. Yes, it was very hard to not jump in and rescue my kids and there were more than a few evenings filled with anger and tears. But now, that my kids are competent and capable young people, I am filled with pride for all of us.

A quick check-list to determine if you are hypervigilant: Are you constantly tense and on guard? In a state of panic? Are you consumed by your child’s difficulties, to the point that you can not focus on your own work? Do you jump in to prevent your child from being upset by the irritants of daily life? Do you do your child’s homework? Are you over-involved in your child’s social life? Are you consumed with your child’s performance on her sport teams?

When you are hypervigilant about protecting your child, you send the strong message, “You are not capable of caring for yourself or managing your life so I will.”

So how to change? The first step is being mindful of your behavior and recognizing how it affects your life, your child and your family. Talk to your child – have a conversation about what is going on and what you will be changing. Accept that your child will not be thrilled with this life change at first and heap the praise when they problem solve for themselves. And be kind to yourself if you backslide – it isn’t easy!

If you would like to talk about how to allow your children to learn self-reliance and independence, let’s talk about it! Please give me a call at 310-849-6751 or send me an e-mail at

Best,                                                                                                                                                                                       Jeri

Teach Your Child How To Set A Goal for 2018

The beginning of a New Year is an opportune time to teach your child how to set a goal as well as to discuss the wonderful feeling of achieving one’s goal. The ability to set a goal for oneself is an important skill.

Try explaining goal setting as simply as possible. For example, “setting a goal for yourself is choosing something that you want to accomplish and then taking the steps to make it happen.” A phrase to keep in mind is, “If it’s to be, it’s up to me!”  Explain that a person is in charge of achieving his or her goals, and that while a person can ask for, and receive help and support, ultimately it is one’s own responsibility.

Fun Facts:

  • 90% of successful people set goals.
  • By setting goals, a person chooses where they will go in life.
  • By setting a goal, a person can achieve more, improve performance, increase self-esteem, and increase self confidence.
  • By setting a goal, a person can feel less stress, concentrate better and feel happier!

Basic Steps to Goal Setting:  Be S.M.A.R.T., make your goal Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time Bound.

Specific:  Define what is important to you; what do you want to accomplish? Decide exactly what you want your goal to be. For example, instead of “get better grades” the goal should be stated as, “I will earn a B or better in math.”  Instead of “make more friends” the goal should be stated as, “I will invite someone new over to my house to play.”

Measurable: Include precise amounts or dates so you know when you have met your goal. For example, “I will complete my math homework every day” or “I will invite a new friend over to play once a month.”

Attainable: Give your goal some real thought. Is it YOUR goal or really your parents? Is it actually possible or too far out of reach? For example, “I will get a part that I enjoy in the school play” may be more attainable then, “I will be the lead in the school play.”

Relevant: Your goal must further you in the direction you want to go in. Review your goal once a month and determine if it is still important to you. Talk about your goal with a parent or teacher. If the goal is no longer of interest, feel free to change it!

Time-Bound: A deadline is essential so you know when to celebrate your success! It feels so great to achieve a goal so choose an end time that is realistic. For example, “I will complete my math homework every day for four weeks.”

And of course the best part of goal setting: choose a reward for when the goal is met. 🙂Talk with your child about celebrating the achievement of meeting a goal. Have your child take the time to enjoy the feeling of satisfaction of a job well done. Tell your child they deserve a reward! And if they didn’t achieve the goal, take the time to reflect on what happened. Was the goal unrealistic? Did your child try his or her best? And remember, a goal can always be adjusted the goal and a person can always try again!

Goal setting is empowering because it provides a focus and a true sense of accomplishment when the goal is met.  Teaching your child to set a realistic goal is giving the gift of knowing how dreams can become a reality.

If you would like to talk about ways to teach your child to set a goal, or any other parenting question, please give me a call at 310-849-6751 or send me an email at Lets talk!

I look forward to talking with you!                                                                                                                     All my best,                                                                                                                                                                       Jeri



Teach Your Child To Understand The Feeling of Stress

You can see that your child is feeling overwhelmed and stressed out but they are having trouble articulating how they are feeling. Talk to your child and explain what is Stress:

Something you can’t see or touch but can definitely feel.

The name for Tension in your mind and body.

Reaction to things that are new, scary or different.

it’s Especially common in kids who are shy or strive to be perfect.

Source of headaches and stomachaches

Something you can learn to handle!

Other words to describe how you feel when you are stressed: anxious, all alone,  confused, crabby, freaked out, jittery, mixed up, jumpy, moody, nervous, panicky                    pressured, overwhelmed, shaky, tense, worried, upset, wired

A little stress isn’t bad. Sometimes stress is good because it can energize you to get your       homework done, study for a test, pump you up for a soccer game.

But too much stress can make you feel sick, tired, sad and worried.

HOW TO BE A PANIC MECHANIC: A person can reduce their stress by looking at what is wrong and using tools to make a repair.

STRESS MESS: Everything annoys you and you want to scream                                                           TOOL: Take some time alone, put on headphones, close your eyes and imagine you are in your favorite place in the world.

STRESS MESS: Your feel restless, frantic and jumpy.                                                                      TOOL: Do something positive with your energy; run or jump. If you are at school in a classroom, ask for a bathroom break.

STRESS MESS: You can’t stop worrying, even about unrealistic things.                                             TOOL: Use your excellent imagination to do something creative like draw or play with legos.

STRESS MESS: You feel so frantic you could pop.                                                                                         TOOL: If you catch yourself saying something like, “If I don’t get an A, I will die!” try to say,   “I might feel disappointed if I don’t get an A but I know I did my best and I will survive this.” Keep doing that and you will lighten your stress load.


  1. Be active – exercise lifts your spirits and helps you feel relaxed.
  2. Eat healthy foods – a healthy body fights stress better.
  3. Avoid caffeine – it makes a person feel more edgy.
  4. Get enough sleep each night – you will feel more relaxed when you wake up.
  5. Laugh!
  6. Be neat – being organized helps you feel in control.
  7. Express your feelings – unlock your voice and unlock your stress.
  8. Be a planner – it will help you feel in control of your day.
  9. Talk to someone about your problems – you will feel better.
  10. Forgive your own mistake

If your child is struggling with handling stress, I can offer you strategies that you can teach your child to make life easier. Let’s talk! Please give me a call at 310-849-6751 or send me an email at

Best,                                                                                                                                                                                        Jeri

Talking With Your Child About The Tragedy In Las Vegas

I imagine that you are, like myself, trying to comprehend the atrocities that occurred in Las Vegas last night. And I also imagine that you are concerned about how your child will try to make sense of this situation. I offer you guidance that I have gathered from experts.

Our immediate instinct is to shield children from learning about frightening events, but that is not always the best approach. It is likely that your child has heard about what happened so we need to be able to answer questions, convey facts and set the emotional tone.

The following is an age-by-age guide to keeping the discussion developmentally appropriate.

For Elementary Students: Most psychologists suggest letting children lead the way and then follow their cues. If a student is aware of what happened, the discussion should be focused on the child’s well-being. There is no need to discuss the number of people who were killed, or details about the incident. It is best to say that such attacks are rare, that the bad guy was caught and that it is extremely unlikely that anything like this would happen to them. Children ages 6-11 are very egocentric and believe that a bad thing happening elsewhere can happen to them so it is important to try and lessen that fear. Offer reassurances that they are safe and loved. Remind them that they are surrounded by adults who adore them – parents, grandparents, teachers, coaches – and they can always talk with any of these people whenever they like.

For Middle School Students: Psychologists say that helping middle school students process the news in a place that they feel safe is important. You can ask them what they know of the incident and what they think about it. Answer questions as best that you can and reassure your child that he or she is safe. Middle schoolers will be interested in the details but experts advise keeping that to a minimum. Children react to disturbing events in different ways so it can be disconcerting if your child seems indifferent to this event, but continue to let your child know that he or she is surrounded by adults – parents, teachers, coaches – who love and care about them.

For High School Students: Your teenager is probably getting information about the incident through social media. If you can, provide accurate information about what is known and what remains unknown. Explain that this is a complex issue and may be one that will continue to be unresolved for many years to come. Experts recommend that you share your own feelings on the issue in order to keep the dialogue open. Remind them that they have many adults – parents, teachers, coaches – in their lives who are there to talk with them about whatever is on their minds.

Experts stress that it is very important to keep routines going as they are reassuring and distracting. One very effective way to reduce the sense of helplessness is to suggest to your child that they can do something kind for someone else as a way to remind them that there is true kindness in the world.

If your child is struggling with processing this information, I am here to help! Please give me a call at 310-849-6751 or send me an email at

Best,                                                                                                                                                                                      Jeri