How to Use Post-Argument Discussion to Build Your Child's Emotional Intelligence

We all have a desire for our children to be able to handle their emotions easier right? It can be a challenge to listen to your child cry when you feel the situation doesn't warrant crying or to witness your child scream at you when you feel you didn't do anything to deserve such anger.  The truth is our children are still learning how to handle their emotions until they reach 20 years old or beyond. I know a 9-year-old child can seem like an adult sometimes, but a 9-year-old's brain is still developing and still needs to learn how to handle emotional reactions to what life brings them.   It is our role as a parent to stop, observe and teach our children how to handle their emotions.  We come across many situations throughout the day when we could teach our children some emotional intelligence.  Emotional intelligence means being aware of the emotions that drive our behaviors and being able to manage those emotions.  This also applies to the emotions of others around you. 

As a parent you may try to avoid arguments and conflict with your child whenever you can, (I am guilty of this!) but the argument or disagreement can be a valuable lesson for building emotional intelligence.  The argument should lead to a post-argument discussion and this is where the magical lesson can occur.  How you handle the resolution can be a  great lesson of identifying emotions and problem solving how to better handle emotions in different situations.

Here are four easy steps we can take during the post-argument discussion:

1. Assess emotions:  Explain to your child how you are feeling and ask them to identify the emotions they feel. 

2.  Admit self-responsibility:  Your child will learn a lot more from you if you are candid about your part in the argument.  Letting go of your ego and admitting that you shouldn't have reacted a certain way will help your child see that it's okay to admit what we feel we did wrong and that nobody is perfect and everyone makes mistakes.

3. Apologize for your reaction:  After you admit your reaction was not helpful to the situation, release your ego a little bit more and say you are sorry.  Modeling is the best way to teach your children to learn to say sorry!

4.  Agree to learn and grow:  Each conflict is a possibility for emotional growth.  Discuss with your child how both of you can learn from the situation and decrease the chances of the disagreement occurring again. Help guide your child to come up with ideas on how to handle his or her own emotions.

Our children depend on us to teach them to be emotionally intelligent adults that can one day enter the world alone and be perfectly fine with what emotions are stirred in themselves and others around them. When the opportunity arises, remember to Assess, Admit, Apologize and Agree!

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The Real Cause of Childhood Anxiety–It’s Not What You Think According to Susan Phariss

Current estimates say one in eight students has anxiety.

But what are they so stressed about? We can all understand that kids are stressed about having to take tests. Or they might be stressed about not fitting in with the other kids. Or that peer pressure is getting to them.

That’s not what I’m talking about.

When parents take their child to the doctor because of serious anxiety symptoms, or when they have to find a special school that can handle their child’s idiosyncrasies, or if they have to modify the family’s activities and lifestyle because one child can’t adapt—now we’re talking about anxiety.

But that’s not all for this story.

First, anxiety is more serious than you think. A twenty-year study done by the University of London concluded that unmanaged reactions to stress is a more dangerous risk factor for cancer and heart disease than smoking cigarettes and eating high-cholesterol foods.

Let that sink in. Unmanaged stress is worse than smoking cigarettes and a bad diet

Left untreated, kids with anxiety disorders are more likely to have academic challenges and have an increased risk of substance abuse. These kids are likely to try self-medication in order to escape their constant anxiety.

So let’s agree—we need to address anxiety in children as early as possible.

Here’s the new information: Anxiety can be the result of faulty reflexes.

Before you’re born, your brain has an original operating system called primitive reflexes. Primitive reflexes allow you to nurse, roll over in the crib, lift your head, crawl and walk. Those are all automatic behaviors caused by reflexes. They help develop your central nervous system and your balance and coordination.

Those primitive reflexes are supposed to turn “off” sometime before you turn three-years old, then your adult brain software starts running. But frequently, for a variety of reasons, both software can run at the same time and it can cause major learning and behavior challenges—like anxiety.

There are two reflexes that cause major anxiety in children—and adults. The first reflex is the Fear Paralysis Reflex, or FPR.

If your child has an active Fear Paralysis Reflex, they may have one or more of the following:

-Doesn’t adapt well to change

-Oppositional behavior


- Extreme shyness

- Panic attacks

-Doesn’t play well with others

-Selective mutism

- Obsessive compulsive behaviors

-Temper tantrums

- Can’t make eye contact

The second reflex is the Moro reflex. If your child has an active Moro reflex, they may have one or more of the following:

-Light sensitivity


-Dilated pupils

-Sound sensitivity

-Motion sickness

-Poor balance

-Can’t stand clothing tags

-Tantrums from combing hair

If your child has one or both of these reflexes and they are over six months old, they are hypersensitive to the environment at a level that causes extreme anxiety. Their bodies are constantly in ‘fight or flight’ mode, whether they want to be or not. This is the cause of their chronic anxiety.

To visualize what life is like for them, imagine being at a really loud rock concert, with a bad sunburn all over, with poor footing causing you to bump into strangers, with lots of bright flashing lights that keep shining in your eyes. Now keep that picture, and imagine trying to learn in that setting! It’s nearly impossible! And that’s what it’s like to be a kid with constant anxiety caused by reflexes.

So here’s an activity parents can use with kids to help them relax. I have several different exercises to relax the central nervous system, but I chose this one because it’s fun for kids of all ages!

We’re going to activate the parasympathetic nervous system—that’s the opposite of Fight or Flight—by having them balance a peacock feather on their hand. The act of balancing the peacock feather while looking at the top is going to trigger your peripheral vision. That causes your central nervous system to relax. Using your peripheral vision causes your body and mind to relax and calm down. You can keep a success chart to record how long your child can balance the peacock feather in either hand.

You can pick up peacock feathers at Michaels in the floral department, or at another arts and crafts store.

If your child has an anxiety disorder and you would like to talk to a brain expert about it, Brain Fitness Strategies offers free consultations. Just call 512-815-6475 and ask for Susan. Or email


Susan Phariss is a Neurodevelopment Consultant, primitive reflex specialist, mechanical engineer, and brain development expert. Susan helps bright kids who are struggling with learning and behavior challenges with her proven step-by-step process that stimulates higher brain function.  She is also a neurodevelopment consultant for private schools and early childhood development organizations. Susan believes it’s possible to change the brain and profoundly improve the future at a level most people never imagine.   

Susan Phariss is a Neurodevelopment Consultant, primitive reflex specialist, mechanical engineer, and brain development expert. Susan helps bright kids who are struggling with learning and behavior challenges with her proven step-by-step process that stimulates higher brain function.  She is also a neurodevelopment consultant for private schools and early childhood development organizations. Susan believes it’s possible to change the brain and profoundly improve the future at a level most people never imagine.


Be Happy With Gratitude!

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The power of gratitude is REAL!  Neuroscientists have proven that a regular expression of gratitude changes the structure of the brain. Even just trying to think of things to be thankful for will increase your levels of serotonin, which is a chemical in your brain that is linked to feeling happy.  This is empowering information!   The more you practice gratitude, the more things you discover to be grateful for and the happier you will feel. It's that simple! Also, when you practice gratitude in front of your kids, they will see and feel your gratitude and this is the best way to teach our children. Gratitude is like a muscle.  The more you use it, the stronger it gets. So let's all get busy strengthening that gratitude muscle! How can we do this?  Here are some suggestions:

1.  Write about it!

Writing about what you are thankful for.  It can be small or big.  Create a Journal of Abundance and write about all that you are lucky to have.  Write notes of appreciation to your husband, mom, friend, and even yourself!

2.  Treat someone!

Treat a friend to coffee for helping out with your kids or give a gift to a neighbor for helping you water your plants while you were out of town. Being generous while being grateful will be great workout for your gratitude muscle!

3.  Gratitude Meditation-Be grateful for you!

Close your eyes and bring attention to your body and say thank you to different parts of your body for keeping you healthy and alive. You can say "Thank you lungs for consistently helping me breathe"  and "Thank you eyes for letting me see."

You can also create a mantra of thanks such as, "Thank you God for giving me this new day." and say it to yourself while you meditate.

4.  Dinner Blessings

Create a habit to share blessings with your family at dinner time.  Have your children participate by sharing three blessings of the day.  It will shock you when your children actually start wanting to do this!  They need this daily dose of positivity and so do you!

5.  Create a Gratitude Jar

This can be a box or a jar where you and your family write notes of gratitude to each other.  At the end of the week, take the notes out and read them over breakfast or dinner. What a great way to show appreciation! 

There are many ways to practice gratitude.  Find what works for you and stay consistent!  We can all get off track sometimes and that is okay.  The most important thing is that you never give up on what you desire to bring into your life.  If you want to feel more grateful and therefore happier in life, then keep working at it until it becomes a habit.  Habits are hard to break so form habits that serve your highest good!

Happy gratitude muscle flexing!




Tips for Creating a Successful First Week of School

The exciting and scary first day of school is coming soon!  Are you prepared?  Are your kids prepared?

  There are a range of thoughts running through a child's mind about the first day of school such as: Who will be in my class?  Will my teacher be nice?  Who will I eat lunch with?  I don't want summer to end!  I hate school!  I am excited about seeing my friends again. I love school!  Whether your child is excited about school or reluctant to start school again, it is an excellent idea to take some time to prepare yourself and your children for the change that is about to occur.

Start practicing the school schedule a few weeks ahead of the first day of school. 

Waking up early can be one of the hardest parts of the school schedule. Getting your kids used to the schedule before can help decrease anxiety and stress about the first day of school. If your kids are waking up early for camps and/or daycare during the summer, then this will be an easier process.  The first day of practice can be a "special morning".  Take your kids to get donuts, get an early start to a fun museum day, or give them a chance to play video games, if that is their first choice.  Having a "special morning" every week, or even every few days, can help with the hard transition of waking up early.

Arrange a late summer play date with other kids from school.

Social worries can be significant in a kid's life.  If your child is worried about situations that occurred last school year or just wants to know who will be in his class, it will help to reconnect him with kids he hasn't seen all summer.  Try to find out who will be in his class as soon as possible so you can discuss it with him.  The more he knows about the upcoming school year the less anxiety he will feel.

Teach your child to visualize all that he desires for the first day of school and the entire school year.

Visualization is extremely powerful in helping everyone receive what they desire. Have your child write out a story about how he wants the first day of school to be.  Tell him to read it and sit quietly and imagine it in his mind.  Whenever negative thoughts enter as he is creating his reality, he can notice them and send them flying away like a bird out the window.  Visualizing a scenario before it happens helps create a neural pathway in the brain and a comfort within us that we have already been through this event and everything will be okay. 

Have a happy and successful school year!








Meeting Your Child's Unmet Needs with Connection and FOOD!

Meeting Your Child's Unmet Needs with Connection and FOOD!   I believe most undesirable behaviors in our children are because of unmet needs.  A grouchy child usually needs food or more sleep.  Most of the time the undesirable behavior is occurring because of lack of connection.  When was the last time you looked your child in the eye and had a conversation? We get so lost in our day to day busyness that sometimes we forget that our child needs a hug.  Next time you tell your child, "Just a minute", stop and ask yourself:  how many times have I said that today?   Give your child a few hours or more of authentic connection and you will see the your child shine with happiness and flow with the day easier.  Oh and also make sure you have lots of snacks ready when the grouchy symptoms occur!    We all have our days when parenting is just so difficult and we just need some space!  Believe me I've been there!  Take some time to yourself and breathe!  This will make your connection time with your child that much better!

Meeting Your Child's Unmet Needs with Connection and FOOD!

I believe most undesirable behaviors in our children are because of unmet needs.  A grouchy child usually needs food or more sleep.  Most of the time the undesirable behavior is occurring because of lack of connection.  When was the last time you looked your child in the eye and had a conversation? We get so lost in our day to day busyness that sometimes we forget that our child needs a hug.  Next time you tell your child, "Just a minute", stop and ask yourself: how many times have I said that today?  Give your child a few hours or more of authentic connection and you will see the your child shine with happiness and flow with the day easier.  Oh and also make sure you have lots of snacks ready when the grouchy symptoms occur! 

We all have our days when parenting is just so difficult and we just need some space!  Believe me I've been there!  Take some time to yourself and breathe!  This will make your connection time with your child that much better!


13 Reasons Why Your Teen Needs a Life Coach

Teen suicide has been in the media a lot lately.  You may have heard about the show "13 Reasons Why" that tells the story of how a teen girl takes her own life after experiencing many traumatic experiences.  There are mixed views about the show.  Some feel like the show provides a valuable opportunity for discussion about bullying and teen suicide.   On the other side of the spectrum are those that feel the show glorifies suicide and shows that it is an easy option.  I tend to side on this end of the spectrum.  I believe that "13 Reasons Why" is a show that can only be watched by those that are not in a vulnerable and emotional state and I don't know too many teens that are not in this vulnerable and emotional state.  The teen years are difficult for the teenager and everyone who loves the teenager.  We have all been through it and know that it has many challenges. This is why I feel strongly that every adolescent needs a life coach or someone they see weekly or monthly that can teach them skills that will help them deal with the every day challenges they face.  This could be a counselor or therapist as well. I can think of many reasons why a life coach for every child is extremely important.  Here are just 13 reasons why teens need a life coach to guide them through their most difficult years:

1.  Social Media is overwhelming and causing disconnect from the real world.  Teens need to learn how to balance their time and energy between social media and real life.  A life coach can assist kids with achieving this balance.

2. State testing pressure is causing anxiety in many children today.  The pressure is coming from the schools and sometimes the parents.  Our youth needs help with managing the anxiety that comes from this pressure.  A life coach teaches helpful tools to help manage this anxiety in order to be more successful in school.

3.  Bullying occurs far too often at school, on social media, and sometimes even at home.   It is rare for a child to never experience being bullied by the time they graduate high school.  A life coach can teach skills to kids to help them handle the bullying and even prevent bullying from occurring.  Kids also need these skills to help them realize when they are being the bully and how not to get in that situation.  Most schools have an anti-bullying program in place, but in my experience as a middle school teacher, the students do not take the lessons seriously and the program can sometimes give new opportunities for bullying to occur.

4.  Divorce is a norm for most kids these days, but it doesn't make it less destructive for a child. Many kids have false beliefs that they are the cause of the divorce. It's more emotional for the child than the parents.  A life coach can help the child find emotional resilience and manage the big change that has occurred before the pain manifests into behavior problems, depression, and anxiety.

5.  Peer Pressure is always present.  Even as adults we experience this type of pressure.  A teenager needs to learn how to follow their own personal inner compass and to love and take pride in who they are and the decisions they make for themselves.  This is a skill the teen will definitely benefit from all through life and a life coach can help the teen develop this important skill of self-love.

6. Sexual abuse is more common than one might think.   According to the center for disease control, teenagers account for 51% of all reported sexual abuse and female victims of teen sexual abuse while in grades 9 through 12 are more likely than others to experience eating disorders, suicidal behavior, pregnancy and risky sexual behaviors. Giving a child the gift of consistent life coaching can help a child stray away from situations where sexual abuse could occur. 

7.  The culture of alcohol drinking during the teen years has become the norm and not taken seriously. According to a study done at George Mason University this culture of alcohol drinking can lead to higher rates of teen sex, teen pregnancy, date rape, violence, and illegal activity.  Many teens believe it is not a big deal to drink alcohol, because everyone does it, even their parents.  Alcohol becomes a remedy for stress and anxiety for teens.  A life coach can help teens with techniques to deal with anxiety, depression and peer pressure in order to keep the teen from getting involved in the culture of alcohol drinking.

8. The brain of a teen is still maturing.  The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain where emotional control, impulse restraint and rational decision-making take place.  According to Dr. David Walsh, this part of the brain does not fully mature until around the age of 25 and this is why many teenagers do not practice "good judgment" in difficult situations.  You can read more about the adolescent brain in Dr. Walsh's book, "Why Do They Act That Way?"

9.  Adolescents do not like to talk to their parents.  I'm sure you remember being a teenager and not wanting to tell your parents about the fight you had with your friends at school that day or the low grade you made on a test.  During the adolescent years, kids withdrawal from parents and spend more time alone or with friends.  Dr. Lisa Damour calls this time period the psychological equivalent of riding a bike with training wheels.  Teenagers are preparing to strike out on their own and are wanting to talk to friends more than their parents.  Teens need to talk to someone with a mature frontal cortex who can help guide them to good decision making and this could be a life coach, mentor, aunt, counselor or family friend.

10. Friend drama can cause many ups and downs for an adolescent.  One day your teen is best friends with someone and the next day she is not.  Hateful things can be said to each other and rumors can be spread.  This can lead to bullying and depression.  An adolescent needs to have a mentor to show them the bigger picture, when it comes to friends switching back and forth from best friends to enemies.  A life coach can help guide a teen to use their inner compass in making good decisions when it comes to who should be a friend and who should not.

11. The decision of what to do after high school is a huge stress factor for juniors and seniors.  This is more the case in competitive environments.  "What University did you get into?" can be a loaded question for many teens that feel like they have to get into a good school or they won't be accepted by their peers or their parents will not be happy.  Teens feel the pressure to know what they want to do as a career as early a 9th grade.  They get confused from all of the pressure from parents, friends, and media.  A life coach can help teens listen to their inner knowing of what they desire to do in life. 

12. The feeling of isolation happens to most teens.  Teens are becoming more independent and trying to figure out what their purpose in life is, who their friends are, and what they are good at.  As they are learning more about themselves they may have moments of feeling left out or like they are different than everyone else.  A life coach can help a teen understand that we are all connected and here for different reasons.  Teens are wondering what their purpose is and a life coach can help guide them in the right direction.

13.  A popular show like "13 Reasons Why" can have great influence on a teen that is experiencing bullying, pressure, and/or abuse.  Suicide contagion is real.  The show can inspire a teen that is going through similar experiences as Hannah Baker did.  Teens can be coached to know that suicide is not an option. 

Provide your teen with someone to talk to on a consistent basis.  A life coach will teach important, life-saving tools that will help teens gain a healthy mind in order to live a happy and successful life with meaning and purpose.



Staying Calm When Your Child is Angry

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Most parents have dealt with their children becoming angry when things don’t go their way.  Even as adults, don’t we get upset when things don’t go our way?  The difference is that we, as adults, can handle being upset about a change of expectations better than a child can.  This is because a child is still learning how to behave and that learning is done by watching us, the parents.  It can be easy to forget that your child is still a child when she continues to come up with very complex arguments in order to get what she wants.  A human brain does not reach its peak power until the age of 22.  From the ages of 7-22 the prefrontal cortex is still maturing and this part of the brain involves impulses and decision making.  This means that fits of anger are going to occur.  This also means that bad decisions are going to occur.  This is how they learn!  It can be difficult for us to stay calm and loving when our children are yelling at us, but it is necessary to respond to their anger with love in order to teach our children how to deal with their anger.  Here are 6 tips to help you handle those anger outbursts with love and grace. Your child is watching and learning from your reaction so stay mindful!

1.         Stop and realize how you are feeling.  Are you angry? Hurt? Irritated?  Remain quiet and witness your feelings coming up as your child yells, screams or slams doors.  This moment of stepping back and becoming the observer will help disintegrate your reaction feeling of anger or hurt.  I know this can be hard, especially if your daughter or son is screaming “I hate you!”, but believe me that reacting to your child with the lower emotion he or she is having is only going to make the situation worse.  Your child is watching how you are going to react.  The ego of your child will want you to feed the anger, but you are the adult and you are responsible for teaching your child that is okay to feel the anger, but it is not okay to react from anger.  So take 90 seconds to sit and feel what you are feeling. The more you do this the easier it becomes!

2.       Respond from the Heart.  After those 90 seconds of observing your feelings, take a few deep breathes and decide how you want to react.  Your ego will still try to influence you to react by matching your child’s energy.  Say “No!” to your ego and go with what your higher self is asking you to do.  Your higher self knows to respond in a calm and peaceful manner.  You can say, “I am seeing that you are really angry.  Let’s stop for a moment and discuss how we can help you move from angry to calm.  Let me help you feel better.”  Listen to your child as he tells you why he is angry.  Don’t give advice.  Be there to provide a safe place to let your child show his emotions. At a later time you can teach your child phrases and actions to take in order to calm himself down.  One phrase I like to say to myself and I teach kids to use is,  “I am feeling angry and that is perfectly okay.”   Saying this helps you become more of the observer of the emotion and less of being the emotion.  This can also be used with other emotions as well. 

3.       Stay consistent every time your child has an outburst.  This is very important!  If you react in a different way every time, then your child will not take you seriously and will learn that staying calm is too hard of a reaction and will continue to always have angry outbursts. 

   4.       Give a consequence for the reaction, but not the feeling.  Sometimes a consequence is not needed, but If your child disrespects you by calling you names or saying hateful things, then the child should get a consequence, such as no T.V. or IPAD for a day.  Make sure the child knows the consequence is because of the disrespect and not the anger.  Let your child know that it is okay to have the feelings we have, but it is not okay to hurt others with our reactions to our feelings.

5.  Put aside time for you to have quiet time by yourself.  Take a few minutes of meditation time each day.  This will train your mind to remain calm and focused no matter what the energy is of others around you.  It is also helpful to teach your kids to have a daily meditation time as well.  Meditation is proven to help with emotional regulation.

6.  Find a trusted mentor or Life Coach.  Sometimes parents and kids need someone to talk to and learn from besides each other.  This is okay.  As parents we are here to guide and keep our children safe while letting them learn life lessons.  Sometimes children are more likely to open up and listen to other adults that they trust.


Sparks of Enlightenment for a Worrying Parent


One of my strongest memories of my Mom, from when I was young, is her constant worrying.  As a child it really affected me.  I didn't want to be in the house.  I felt she was always worrying about things she couldn't do anything about.  It drove me crazy.  It made me sad.  Now, as a parent, I can see why she worried so much.  Worrying about our children is a given, when you are a parent. It is a natural instinct that helps us attend to our children's needs.  Worrying is a good thing!  It's when it starts affecting your happiness and your children's happiness that it becomes a problem.  Read my 5 Sparks of enlightenment below that help me tame my worry monster.


How to decrease your parental worry:


1)  Identify the worry:  Once you identify what you are worrying obsessively about, then you have put a label on it and it already starts to decrease. Identify what emotions you are feeling.  Are you fearful?  Sad?  Angry? Sit with the feeling of the emotion for a few minutes and just let it be there.


2)  Write a letter to yourself:  Writing down your worries has a powerful way of helping you see clearly.  You are releasing your worries to the paper and they start to feel lifted.


3) Remind yourself of what you can and can't control:  Say the Serenity Prayer to yourself daily:


The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity

to accept the things I cannot change;

courage to change the things I can;

and wisdom to know the difference.


Use these wise words to figure out what you can control and work on a solution to help you control it.  You choose what you worry about.  There is only so much control you can have over your kids.  You are in charge of their well-being and safety, but they also have to learn their own life lessons.  There is another prayer I like to say that also helps me surrender to all the challenges I meet in life.  Find it here:


4)  Meditate:  Ever since I became a parent I have relied on meditation to clear my mind and assist me in controlling my anxiety.  Just 5-10 minutes in the morning and evening can help tremendously.  There are many guided meditations to help with worry. Try my favorite meditation app

5)  Practice living in the NOW:  This can be the hardest thing for parents.  I struggle with it daily.  We all have so much on our mind with work and raising kids.  It takes a lot of practice and upkeep to have moments of joy and peace in your everyday. I like to reference back to one of my favorite books, The Power of Now,  to remind me of how peaceful I can feel when I live in the Now.  The present moment is all we have. I know it is easier said than done, but it takes practice.  Practice mindfulness in your everyday activities, such as cooking, brushing your teeth, or drinking your coffee. The more you practice, the easier it is for you to make it a part of your daily mindset.


I hope these tidbits help you the way they help me!  Parenting gives us our biggest life lessons.  Take those lessons and grow!