Emotions and Feelings Articles

Is Your Student “Pumped Up,” or “Deflated”?

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

PTown New Years Weekend 2011 027Last week I wrote about the demonstrably positive effects of longer-term studying. Kids who begin studying several days before a test and who study consistently and to the point of mastery get high grades.

This seems like a no-brainer, right? So why don’t more kids do it?

One reason is that fear and anxiety hamper people’s ability to think straight and organize themselves. (We talk a lot about executive function issues in kids, but these are problems all people of all ages experience)

As part of his research with couples, John Gottman attached heart monitors to his subjects, and he discovered that when people become emotionally agitated, their systems “flood” with adrenaline and their heart rates elevate. A heart rate above 95 beats per minute signals that a person’s listening, planning and reasoning skills have broken down.


Helping Your Student Face Test-Prep Fear

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

P9160358I’ve been a test-prep coach for decades, tutoring students for the SSAT, ISEE, SAT, and ACT, and of course I’m very comfortable with the material by now.

Last month, my own daughter was getting ready to take the LSAT (the law school entrance exam), so I tried a few practice LSAT sections myself…and, guess what?

I found them stunningly, amazingly difficult! And, I made TONS of mistakes!

For example, on my first reading passage, I answered the eight questions, and got SIX of them wrong!!! 

This was an excellent experience for me, because I felt something I’ve lost touch with: I felt a sinking, dizzying fear of this difficult material.


I’ve Told My Kid 1000 Times!!!

Friday, November 16th, 2012

Why don’t kids take our good advice? Why don’t they do the things we suggest, things that would obviously help them?

Why don’t they listen to us?

Along with academic tutoring and test preparation, I teach study skills: how to study for a biology test, how to write a term paper, how to learn vocabulary words.

Parents are eager for these lessons, and also jaded.

  • He knows this stuff already.
  • Her teachers repeated this over and over all last year.
  • I’ve already told him a thousand times!!!

My Oh-So-Simple Approach to Stress Relief

Monday, October 15th, 2012

Get rid of the thing that is causing the stress.

Does this sound unrealistic? Impossible?

When my kids were growing up,  we had a big house with an acre of lawn and an in-ground swimming pool. We enjoyed the space and made good use of the pool. Even so, that big spread was a lot to afford and a lot take care of.

I spent a lot of stressful hours, many of them sleepless early-morning ones, fretting over maintenance issues and bills. Paying the cleaning lady, the lawn guy and the pool guy meant I had to work more hours. Letting those folks go and doing the work myself meant spending tons of time doing chores I did not enjoy and couldn’t keep up with.


How Quickly Do You Process Your Emotions?

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

There’s a dead dog lying in the middle of the road, and we both see it.

As if jolted by a cattle prod, my highly sensitive companion rears in her seat and wails. Ooooooohhhh Nooooooooo!!!! She trembles and her eyes well up.

Meanwhile, I just keep on driving. I’d been deep in our conversation, and the meaning of that inert, furry heap in the center of the roadway hasn’t  yet registered in me.

So by now we’ve driven right past the dog and quite a distance beyond, and I still haven’t said a word or even slowed down, and my friend is choking on tears.

We’re easily a quarter of a mile away when I mutter We need to go back.

I turn the car around and return to where the dog still lies, and I pull over and step out and look both ways before walking out and dragging the dog’s body to the curb.


Lessons From the Empty Room

Saturday, March 17th, 2012

The critical person enters the room, feeling irritable…and he scans the room, looking for something or someone to point to as the cause of his irritability.

I’m paraphrasing John Gottman from a wonderful 3-minute YouTube clip entitled The Best Predictor of Divorce.

I think it’s instructive to the critical person to enter the room…and find it empty. What will he do with his irritable feelings now?

Perhaps he’ll fill it right away with another lover, or with material objects. Perhaps she’ll clutter it with work or other busy-making activities.

But what if the critical person simply sits in the empty room and experiences the irritability? What might he learn about himself? Perhaps she’ll find that her feelings aren’t deadly and that, in fact, she is fine just the way she is.

And doesn’t this go for all of us? Spending some stretch of time alone, with no other person to affix our moods to and no external factors to blame for the way we feel…what might that teach us about our worries?…our melancholy?…and our happiness?

 


If You Can’t Say Anything Nice

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

I wrote about my dad yesterday, and today I’m thinking about my mother.

She was very fond of this old-timey saying:

If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

I know, I know…pure Pollyanna

but those words actually sank in.


Ambivalent Feelings Towards Loved Ones Are Normal

Friday, November 25th, 2011

[I've been devoting my Friday blog posts to the topic of Learning What We Already Know. There's a ton of wisdom out there in the world, and lots of it has been known for quite a long time but it needs to be passed along.]

The wisdom of Dr. Haim Ginott has had a huge impact on my life, ever since I read his classics: Between Parent and Child and Between Parent and Teenager.


Anger Management Made Super-Simple

Monday, November 21st, 2011

[I'm devoting my Monday blog posts to the topic of Learners with Special Needs, which, I find, describes us all in some way or another.] 

I work part time at a school for students with all kinds of special needs. In addition to the usual academic subjects, kids also take classes in such topics as executive function, sensory integration and behavior therapy.

I’ve been fascinated by how simple and useful a lot of the instruction is, and how applicable it is to all of us!


Understanding Before Advice

Friday, November 18th, 2011

I’m going to devote my Friday blog posts to the topic of Learning What We Already Know. There’s a ton of wisdom out there in the world, and lots of it has been known for quite a long time but it needs to be passed along.

November is a special month for me, because both of my parents happened to have been born in, and passed away in, the month of November.

My mom and I loved each other very much. We also had a very stormy relationship which was especially turbulent and painful when I was a teenager.


 

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