Ask Auntie Artichoke

Expert on Parenting and Family Relationships

Ask Auntie Artichoke - Expert on Parenting and Family Relationships

Stress Triggers for Kids-How To Help Them Cope (EXPERT)

How do you know what is stress and what is a temper tantrum? How do caring adults help them to cope with school, friends and disappointments?

How do you know when your child is too stressed? Gain tips to help them deal with healthy stress.

How do you know when your child is too stressed? Gain tips to help them deal with healthy stress.

How do you figure out if the stomachache is from too many tacos last night or the math test scheduled today?  Why would your six year old be stressed when you are the one who lost the job?  Why would your eight year old suddenly hate Little League and begin wheezing as it nears time to go?


At times all parents are confused by what are normal growing pains and what is a genuine fear or stress in their child’s life.  The three standards to judge the situation are:


  1. Duration.  If the child just started complaining about being sick before the bus comes, it may be something happening that can be easily explained.  If it is not a bad day, but an on going behavior some calm conversation and reassurance is in order.
  2. Is it age and developmentally appropriate?  Transitions are hard for anyone, but a two year old who clings is different than a nine year old who refuses to get out of the car.
  3. Degree of intensity. If the behavior is disrupting family life or is becoming a major stumbling block to growth or happiness, intervention may be indicated.


Typical stressors


Babies: Over stimulation, too many care givers, any major change.  They pick up on your stress.

Toddlers: Separation anxiety, transitions, being abandoned, Television shows and videos

Kindergarten/First Grade: Not being picked up after school, wetting their pants, not being chosen for games, being teased by bullies or not understanding what a teacher wants them to do.

Second/Third Grade: Report cards teased or called names by older students, not being invited to parties and sleepovers, not fitting in, teacher’s discipline and parent’s disapproval.

Fourth Grade: Being thought of as “dumb”, losing a best friend, being chosen last, not getting school work done and any major change in family structure.

Fifth/Sixth Grade: Body changes, afraid they are abnormal, strange, and unlovable. Bad grades.

Jr. High School: Identity, peer pressure, standing out from the crowd, having others see their body.

High School: Popularity, appearance, lack of money or clothes, SAT tests, what to do with life.



Children and adolescents handle stress better when they are attached to at least one adult who will make them feel safe, secure and loved.  Being able to trust an adult to look out for their best interests pulls them through stressful times and helps build a resiliency for all areas of life.


Let your child know you are always there for him to talk, console and support.  While you won’t solve the problems, the two of you can brainstorm solutions without judgment or criticism. The best antidote for solving stress related problems is to have fun!  Go play at the park. Take a hike in the mountains.  Laugh, giggle, wiggle, dance, sing and just remember that this too shall pass.


Judy H. Wright is a parent educator and author of over 20 books on family relations, wellness, and abundance. Free articles and a newsletter are available at   You will also find afull listing of books, podcasts , eBooks and teleclasses.

To schedule Judy for a workshop, please go to

Quality Time or Quantity Time

The truth is quality time just needs
to be time spent. Going to zoos, movies or museums
can be wonderful time spent together. But if you
are merely cramming the activities into your life
in a frenzied rush, you and your children won’t
experience a real sense of relaxed camaraderie.
In all actuality, they may prefer some time working
side by side with you on a family project or task.

Picky Eaters– Common Sense Parenting with “Auntie Artichoke” (EXPERT)

Picky eaters get that way for a variety of reasons. Some are very sensitive to taste, texture and smell. The more your child is involved in planning and preparing the meals, the more he or she will enjoy them. Statistics say families who enjoy regular meals together have better job and school performance, less stress and more happiness. Never make a battle around food. Encourage good conversation and connections at the dinner table.

What Makes a Family?

Families teach us that we can survive the pain of divorce, mental illness, abuse, alcoholism, suicide, unemployment, violence and all the other stuff that happens in life. The functional and flourishing family is most productive when it has goals and values as a unit.

When your family is supportive and respectful of the rights and dreams of each other, it is a wonderful spring-board to life.

Luck or Life – When Bad Things Happen To Good People

Ernest Hemingway once said: “The world breaks everyone. and afterward ,many are strong in the broken places.”

When we are going through adversity, it is not always possible to believe that everyone suffers loss and heartache.  It feels and acts very personal when bad luck and rotten life experiences happen to good people.

Our first response is “Why Me?“  We may question whether we did something to deserve this punishment or trouble. We may feel resentment for others who are not suffering and question why trouble did not choose them.  We may even add up all the bad, selfish and dishonest things a certain friend or acquaintance has done and yet still has good health and a big bank account.

It’s Not Fair

Life isn’t fair.  As a mother of six children I tried to hard at Christmas time to make the gifts come out even for everyone.  No matter how many times I counted and then made lists and then recounted, on Christmas morning during the bedlam of presents, paper and toys, I would realize it hadn’t been fair.  Someone had gotten a watch worth twenty dollars and someone had gotten a bracelet worth three dollars.  Some one had gotten the exact doll she wanted and someone else got the one that was in style last year.

We finally decided to recognize and joke that no matter what we did, it was never going to come out even.  But the joy was that  you knew that the chances were good that one day it would be your turn to get exactly what you wanted.  We would often recite the battle cry of large families and pre-schools around the world; “You get what you get, and you don’t throw a fit.”

Luck or Life

Life is filled with luck and also filled with change and chance.  As Ernest Hemingway said earlier, we all get broken in some way and it is the broken places that make us strong.

Bad Luck is described as unforeseen occurrence, happenstance and yet good luck is described as prosperity, wealth, windfall, success, advantage, profit and triumph, happiness and blessings.  It is often from the luck that the opportunities for growth and development come to us.  When we take the chance to growth through loss, grief and adversity, we will become stronger and more resilient.  I know this is true, because I have experienced in my own life and the lives of countless friends and family.

Questions To Think About

  1. Do you consider yourself lucky or unlucky?  Why?
  2. Have you ever said “That’s not fair.” Why?
  3. What do you think about when bad things happen to you?
  4. Can you look back in your life and recognize how a certain situation helped you to grow personally and spiritually?

You are a good person and have been drawn to this information for a reason.  I have confidence in you and your ability to have a good life for you and your loved ones.  If you would like assistance in living a balanced life  please go to

Your friend,

Judy Helm Wright aka Auntie Artichoke, family relationship author and keynote speaker

PS:  You will want to claim your books, articles and telecasts at

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Step-Families You Are Not My Daddy!

Auntie Artichoke suggests you find ways to connect to step children that make them feel special.

Auntie Artichoke suggests you find ways to connect to step children that make them feel special.

Hello from beautiful Montana:

It is important that it takes time, effort and a great deal of patience to blend two families.  Just because the adults have gone through a marriage ceremony or feel committed to each other, it does not automatically blend personalities, experiences and expectations. Children in step families have a number of emotions that come into play when a non-parent suddenly enters the picture.

Life during the courtship period is frequently unrealistic as well as confusing. Daily life takes teamwork and cooperation to make a house a home. You may not be the natural Daddy or the Daddy they wanted, but you do deserve respect. Respect is earned and does not come automatically.

Step families Are Special

Parenting is hard enough in the first place and children love to test the limits of our patience and skills. Please remember that the children did not ask to be in this position and are understandably concerned and trying to work out the relationships in their own minds.

The child may have been in a position where the mother’s boyfriend gave him treats or special attention in order to win the affections of both mother and child.  Now, in a day-to-day experience it takes a lot of give and take to make the family work, and rewards are not forthcoming for just being there. Generally speaking, the premarital adult-child relationships may be confusing for mature adults as well as children.

Regular Family Meetings

The most successful families I have worked with have always had a regular family meeting or round-table weekly.  This enables all members of the blended family to discuss issues, set goals and clarify situations.  These meetings, which allow both parents and children to participate and become empowered.  Held on a weekly basis, many small problems can be solved before they become large ones.

Discussing problems and expectations on a regular basis allows everyone to feel part of the team.  Make sure that you and your spouse are united on goals for the family and that you show respect and kindness to each other and the children. A good parenting plan includes all responsible adults.

You Are Not My Daddy

One of the main issues of step parenting is to do your level best to respect and honor the relationship the child has with the biological parent, but still offering love and attention. Talk about the biological parent in positive or neutral terms.  If you speak negatively about the parent, the child will feel defensive, guilty and as if he too was being judged harshly.

If the biological or “real daddy” was negligent or a poor parent, your job is to empathize with the child. As you demonstrate that you are going to be a permanent, but loving part of the child’s life, there will be less and less power struggles.

Kids, Chores and More

As you work with the blended or step-family be sure to teach respect and responsibility as life skills. You will find information on Family meetings, appropriate expectations and fun activities to blend your family.

Good Luck.  You do an important job.

Judy H Wright aka Auntie Artichoke, family relationship author and keynote speaker

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