Ask Auntie Artichoke

Expert on Parenting and Family Relationships

Ask Auntie Artichoke - Expert on Parenting and Family Relationships

Help Your Child Make Friends (expert)

The Left Out Child: The Importance of Friendship answers these and other questions:
What can parents do to guide the social development of their young children?
Why is it important to be included?
Is it harder to make friends now than it used to be?
How important is it to help your child be more likeable?
What do I do if the teacher or coach doesn’t like my child?
How do I comfort my child when they are picked last or not at all?
How do I help my child overcome shyness and build confidence?
Is there a gender difference in friendships?
What about bullies, should parents intervene?
Ages and stages of friendship
Social skills are simple, but not easy
Ten ways to help your child make friends
15 ways to help kids like themselves

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.

5 Ways To Nurture With Nature—(EXPERT)

Nature Nurtures The Spirit & Builds The Body

Children who have the opportunity to play in nature have a heightened awareness of the world. Being in nature helps them to recognize the cycles of life and the interdependence of plants, animals and humans.

They also have more advanced coordination, balance and agility. When they are involved in physical play, they develop their lungs and muscles which means they are sick less often. Being in nature creates a resilient spirit and a bounce-back attitude.

Dalai Lama To Visit Missoula, Montana

Who knew that a Buddhist community would be in Montana?  But then why wouldn’t an international dignitary want to come to visit the

Mountains and lakes are perfect for peace gatherings

Mountains and lakes are perfect for peace gatherings

mountains, streams and especially the people of Western Montana?  For those of us who live here, this is as close to Heaven as we may ever get.  Montana has often been called “The Last Best Place” because of it’s natural wonder and the people who are drawn here to share their lives and talents.

American Heritage Magazine was one who remarked on the diversity of Missoula when an article declared: “Nourished by by powerful rivers and an equally powerful sense of its past, a town of cowhands and poets and bikers and professors distills the whole history of the American West–its hope and rapacity, its calamities and triumphs.”

The area around Arlee, Montana  is especially beautiful as it is the gateway to  the Mission Mountains and beautiful Flathead valley.  In 2000 a student of Tulku Sang-ngang Rinpoche, a respected spiritual leader among followers of Tibetan Buddhism, purchased 60 acres of land north of Arlee and donated it to Ewam Montana.

Garden of 1000 Buddhas

The decision was made to build a garden on this site featuring 1,000 cast concrete statues, which will be placed in a 500 foot  round garden connected by eight spoke-like paths to a 25 foot statue of Yum Chenmo, or great mother, at it’s center. This image has great meaning not only for those of  this small community, but for visitors nationally and internationally who will come to find peace and solace in this garden of 1000 Buddhas. Even those of us who are not Buddhist appreciate the serenity and beauty of the garden.

Dalai Lama Will Visit Garden

The Dalai Lama is one of the world’s most recognized religious leaders and spiritual guides.  His wisdom is sought and appreciated not only by those who practice the Buddhist traditions, but by millions of people world wide.  He won the Nobel Peace Prize and has authored many books, articles and quotes on peace and serenity in life. His teachings of non violence have influenced many shifts in thinking towards peaceful solutions.

Questions For You To Think About

  1. What do you know about Buddhism? How did you learn?
  2. Would you travel long distances to see a spiritual leader that you admired?  Why or why not?
  3. Did the description of the Garden with 1000 Buddhas sound peaceful and serene to you?
  4. Have you ever wanted to visit the American West and Montana in particular?
  5. Why do you think Montana is called the “Last Best Place”

You are invited to visit our beautiful state and experience the community of people who have respect for all.

For more information on this and other life skills please go to

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Encourage Without Unrealistic Praise

Everyone likes to be praised, right? Actually,  too much praise can have a boomerang effect if the recipient of the compliment  believes it is untrue or unrealistic. It can also cause distrust or discouragement of other members of the team or family.

While praise may be of value, if the child or employee maintains a low opinion of himself or becomes dependent on the outside world to give him an external reward, he is constantly looking for external approval. Our goal as employers, parents, teachers and coaches is to encourage positive progress without unrealistic praise and assist in building inward confidence.

Recently a grandmother asked me on Facebook how to encourage without giving unrealistic and too much praise.

“Have you suggestions between praise and “too much” praise – i.e. “You really worked hard on that project” vs. “You are WONDERFUL” – which is easy to spout but really pretty meaningless. Today’s young workforce expects to be praised for everything vs. deserved praise or encouragement.”

My answer was:

Hi Jo Ann- You have raised such an important point. “You really worked hard on that project” is encouragement and it is praising the process rather than the task.  It is transferable to other tasks and attempts.  You are saying “Keep going, you are on the right path.”

When kids get praised for every little thing they come to expect it and feel they deserve it.  The world of work is not going to give them constant approval. They are in for a big shock when no one is going to applaud their every effort.  If the child has come to look for praise and external evaluation which must constantly be earned, he may be unsure when he will get it again. This causes some to fail or to sabotage efforts of others on the team in order to receive the coveted “praiseworthy” award.

This next generation of children coming up must be able to trust their own judgment and intuition.  They must be able to follow their own inner compass rather than waiting for outside approval.

Difference Between Praise and Encouragement

Praise is like a reward for something well done, and implies a spirit of competition.  The unspoken message is clear; “winner takes all.”  When members of a workplace, family or class are singled out for unrealistic praise, the others become discouraged and also lose faith with the authority figure.

In contrast, encouragement may be given for any effort or for slight improvement.  Encouragement is not concerned with superior-inferior relationships but focuses on making the child or employee understand they are a valued part of the team.

Self esteem comes from an inward knowing that you are a capable problem solver. The effects of encouragement and cooperation that builds respect for self and others have long range and lasting results.

I encourage you to claim your free ebook at:


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

Confidence Coach- The Best Way to Prepare for School and Life

Hello from beautiful Montana:

As parents and children are preparing for back to school sales and worrying about what jeans are "in" this year, I want to remind you that I do Confidence Coaching. Please consider hiring me to help your child make this year the best one ever.

So here is what I offer:

  • Once a week private phone coaching session with a non judgmental, supportive Auntie and your child (between ages of 8 and 18)
  • Once a month over the phone or webinar mastermind session with other kids in the same age group.
  • A copy of my workbook Building Self Confidence and the eBook Use Encouraging Words.
  • twice a week emails and following on Twitter or text

Here is What it Will Do For Your Young Adult:

  • Give them a coach in their corner who is not micro-managing their life.
  • Knowledge that I am a "safe" person and friend. Their confidentiality will never be broken (unless they are in danger.)
  • Teach them skills and techniques for making friends, getting organized, liking themselves and communicating with parents, teachers and playground politics.
  • Give them an opportunity to relax and know there is no grade or pressure to perform, just a sounding board and guiding hand at helping them make their own choices and increase self esteem.
  • Help them set up an Action Plan for the school year and beyond.

Here is What I Want You To Do Next:

  • Talk it over as a family and decide how much it would mean to have a successful year without the stresses of previous years.
  • All successful athletes, musicians and actors have coaches. I will provide the guidance, the young adult will provide the practice and follow through.
  • Have the young adult phone me (set up an appointment at to see if they would like to have me coach them in some skills for success.
  • Have the parents call me and discuss how much of the fee ($40.00 a session or $150.00 a month) the young adult will pay and how much you will pay.
  • Understand that the contract to coach is between the young adult and myself, unless you, as parents would like family  relationship coaching.

If you need more information, call me at 406-549-9813 or email

With best wishes,

Judy H. Wright aka Auntie Artichoke, family relationship coach and author