January 08, 2013

Is Your Kid Dealing with Peer Pressure, Bullying or Anxiety? Try Mnemonics to Help Keep Them Focused

Mnemonics are little rhymes or tricks to aid your memory. You may have used 'A Rat In The House May Eat The Ice Cream' to remember how to spell the word arithmetic. If you learned how to read music as a child, you probably remember 'FACE' and 'Every Good Boy Does Fine' for the notes on the treble staff, and 'All Cars Eat Gas' (or 'All Cows Eat Grass') and 'Good Boys Do Fine Always' for the notes on the base staff. Although it's been 40 years since my last piano lesson, these mnemonics have helped me to recall the letters.

Back in the day, The Boy had a therapist who used mnemonics to teach simple cues when dealing with difficult situations. I thought I'd share today - maybe it could help your child to keep their head and make good decisions.

Free advice, folks. I've already paid in full.

Peer Pressure/Anger Management
Peer pressure is real. Most kids want to fit in, they want to be part of a group of friends. But if your child is being pressured to make decisions that are not in their best interest, this mnemonic may help them remember how to think through any iffy request from a peer.

Or maybe your child has some trouble controlling his temper. This mnemonic can help your child take a moment to evaluate the risks/benefits of expressing the anger.


Stop! Collect your thoughts.
Think! Should you be doing this with your friends?
Act! After thinking, take the action that you think is best in the situation.
Review! Did you get the expected result? Are you safe and doing the right thing? If not, start over.

Bullying/Conflict Resolution
It's hard to go for more than a day without hearing about bullying in schools. When your child is being bullied, he/she may be at a loss about what to do to stay safe.  in this situation. It was pretty easy to remember what actions to take when confronted by a bully, or if your child is trying to resolve an existing conflict. This mnemonic allows the child to continue to another level if the previous level doesn't resolve the problem. For example, if Step 1 doesn't work, go to Step 2, and so forth.


Walk away from the person who is bothering you.
     if that doesn't work, THEN
Ask the person to STOP
     if that doesn't work, THEN
Request help from an adult
     if that doesn't work, THEN
Self-defense (but only as a LAST RESORT) if physical aggression is involved.

Fear and Anxiety
Fear is the proper emotion when you're frightened by something/someone. But for some folks (children and adults), fear and anxiety may prevent them from enjoying people, places and events. Maybe your child doesn't like to sleep alone in his room, or he is afraid of the dark. Using the mnemonic, you and your child can talk through the anxious feelings and help them feel more comfortable about these situations.


Feeling frightened?
Expecting bad things to happen?
Attitudes and Actions - things you can do to assauge the anxiety. When The Boy didn't want to sleep in his room alone, his therapist used a calculator to show The Boy that bad things didn't have to happen. It went something like this:

Therapist: "Boy, how old are you?"
Boy: "Seven."
Therapist: "Let's work this out logically. You've been alive 365 days x 7 years. That's 2,555 days - has anything bad EVER happened to you when you're sleeping?"
Boy: "Uh...no."
Therapist: "So why would you expect tonight to be any different?" And The Boy could see the logic in this.

Results and Rewards - this is where your child assesses how they've done after their attempt. What happened when The Boy slept alone one night? Nothing bad happened at all. 

What could be a reward for learning how to sleep by himself? He felt proud of himself and thought that someday he could say 'Yes' if he got invited to a sleepover; maybe Mom would get a full night's sleep in her own bed (okay, that was MY reward).

I'm sure there are many more mnemonics and tips that our children could  use to help them when their in an uncomfortable situation. Heck, even I've used the mnemonics a time or two. STAR comes in handy when dealing with high-pressure salespeople (you know who you are); WARS is sometimes helpful to recall when dealing with The Boy's temper, and using the FEAR mnemonic gave me the courage to walk into job interviews and other social situations with a modicum of confidence.

I hope you give them a try...it just might help!


  1. Great post with great advice. I remember all those mnemonics, too, except I never learned the ones for the base staff. I've always said if I had been a teacher, I would've used songs to help the students remember those kinds of things, or multiplication, etc. Because don't we all remember all the lyrics to our favorite songs from 40 years ago?? Tell The Boy I said Hello!

  2. I am totally going to use the numbers thing with my son when he thinks something bad is going to happen. He'll respond to that. It is "logical."

    And a funny story about mnenomics. My son's teacher taught them the cardinal directions as Never Eat Soggy Waffles (North East South West) and on his test, he wrote Waffles instead of West. HA!

  3. Kim, these are wonderful tips. You should write a parenting article.

  4. I wish I had read this back when my kids were in middle school. Good info, Kim. Thanks for sharing.


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