How to Deal With Stage Fright?

posted in: anxiety, behavior, courage, emotion, skills | 0


Butterflies, cold sweat and racey heart. All this is familiar to me. I have been suffering from stage anxiety as long as I can remember. Even though I consider myself as an outgoing person, thinking of giving a speech makes the feeling of anxiety arouse.

I’m not the only one.

Public speaking is said to be the biggest fear reported by many adults, topping flying, financial ruin, sickness, and even death.


Harvard University research showed that renaming ‘anxiety’ as ‘excitement’ improved performance during activities that cause anxiety.


Participants were required to prepare a public speech about why they would be good work colleges. Before they gave the speech, test persons were asked to say, ‘I am excited,’ or ‘I am calm.’

According to evaluators, those who said they were excited gave speeches that were more persuasive, competent and relaxed than those who said they were calm.

The researchers repeated the test in two further settings: participants were expected to pass a difficult math test and to sing karaoke. The results were about the same.


The key to success is to rename the feeling. Reinterpreting feelings is extremely powerful. Anxiety and excitement are similar in many ways. Both are high arousal states and both contain physiological experiences – sweating, butterflies, racey heart.

Researcher Alison Wood from Harvard Business School, explains it this way: ”When you feel anxious, you’re chewing too much and focusing on potential threats. In those circumstances, people should try to focus on the potential opportunities. It really does pay to be positive, and people should say they are excited. Even if they don’t believe it at first, saying ‘I’m excited’ out loud increases authentic feelings of excitement.”

Furthermore I found a video where a social psychologist Amy Cuddy says that ‘your body language may shape who you are’. Her research on body language reveal that we can change other people’s perception, and perhaps even our own body chemistry, simply by changing body position.

A few days ago I had to deliver a short speech in front of over 30 persons(!) I did exactly what doctor Alison Wood recommends. Before stepping on stage I Spoke out loud ‘I’m excited’ plus I took ‘power positions’ recommended by Amy Cuddy and all this worked! I felt more comfortable before and on stage and I think I was more present while speaking.

I would love to hear your experiences about stepping on stage:



Amy Cuddy’s amazing TED talk is here.



School Creating Happiness

I read Ross W Greene’s classic piece Lost at School and I was very inspired by his ideas. He writes that it’s easy for us to think that children act correctly and behave well if they just want to; that acting correctly and behaving well only depend on the desire to do so. However, that’s not the case. Children act correctly when they have sufficient skills to do so.

I find this revolutionary, because it obviously challenges the general attitude towards “troublemakers” and other “misfits”. I was recommended to read Greene’s book by a teacher who teaches children with special needs.

Kaisa Vuorinen had noticed that many of children with special needs have received so much negative feedback that we should change direction and start supporting what is positive in them. They certainly need strong guidance and someone to show them how to regulate their emotions and behavior. I had a chance to follow Vuorinen’s teaching in the classroom and saw in practice how she works with children.

She has developed with her colleagues new ways to encounter children. She used new ways to teach them skills to learn and regulate their behavior. I got a good lesson on how to strengthen child’s perseverance, self-control and courage among other things. This visit to school changed my interaction with my own child.

I realized that perseverance, self-control and courage are skills that can be taught.

If you want to take a closer look at my visit to school, you are welcome to download the reportage as a PDF-file by clicking this link: FREE DOWNLOAD.




If you are interested in getting the exercises developed especially for parents use, you are welcome to order my book by the link below.

This method works for children of all ages!

“See the Good” can be shipped worldwide. Available in paperback and eBook.


See the Good (paperback, 100 pages)

See the Good (eBook)

The Three Most Important Character Strengths for Excellent Learning



I have gigs as a substitute teacher in schools in the Helsinki metropolitan region and have noticed that both the world and schools are changing rapidly. ”It could be that the profession doesn’t even exist yet,” answers my 13-year-old son when I ask him what he dreams of becoming. He may well have hit the nail on the head. What kind of world will it be when they are adults? And what kinds of skills will they need in order to succeed?

It is certain that in the future schoolwork requires more than just cramming for tests. According to the latest research learning is closely linked to character and development. Developmental psychologists have found out that perseverance and self-regulation (self-control) are the skills that predict success at school even better than IQ.

Important strength with regards to learning is also empathy, or compassion. Compassion improves people’s relationships and helps us to get along with others. Research has found that experiencing and expressing compassion increases happiness and satisfaction.

A compassionate mind is strongly connected with improved learning.

Therefore, the study of self-knowledge or of, for instance, empathy skills, is nowadays considered to be an important guarantor of mental development and key to the achievement of a superior skill level.

Good news is that there are ways for a parent to help the child to improve these skills.

I had a chance to follow a fascinating new way of teaching in the classroom. A Finnish pioneering teacher with her colleagues have developed new ways to encounter children. I saw how child’s perseverance can be strengthen in practice. This visit to school changed my interaction with my child for I realized that perseverance, self-regulation and courage are skills that can be learned.

If you want to take a closer look at my visit to school and get the exercises developed especially for parents use, you are welcome to order my book by the link below.

This method works for children of all ages!

“See the Good” can be shipped worldwide. Available in paperback and eBook.

Paperback, 100 pages See the Good (paperback, 100 pages)

See the Good (eBook)

Help for Anxious Child

posted in: anxiety, Books | 0
Karen Young’s book “Hey Warrior”

If your child gets easily anxious and worried, I highly recommend Karen Young’s book Hey Warrior. The best thing is that the book is written for children, to empower them. Young points out that kids can do amazing things with the right information. When a child understands why anxiety feels the way it does and where the physical symptoms come from it’s much easier for a child to turn anxiety around.

The book works for children from 5 years up to 12, but I would say that even older children will benefit from this information. (My almost 13-year-old son appreciates the new information he got: “At least I know that it’s my amygdala which causes it!”) As a psychologist Young explains all this skillfully and clearly, what happens in brain when a person gets anxious and why it happens. Then she gives good tools to resolve the challenge and all the way she points out that there is nothing wrong with feeling anxious. She writes: ”Always remember, anxiety is a sign that you’re about to do something really brave. Anxiety and courage always exist together – always.”

The book is beautifully illustrated by Norvile Dovidonyte.

Link to Karen Young’s book Hey Warrior.

There is a Way to Stop Teen Substance Abuse

A small, northern country, Iceland has developed a good common sense way to help young people out of addictions – but the rest of the world isn’t listening.

Read the article on the ABC News website

A Message That Has Evoked Parents

A retired teacher Paolo Gandra found a reminder note written on the notice board of a Portuguese school. He got it translated and put it in social media. As a result it spread instantly. It has been a hot topic in social media here in Finland, shared tens of thousands of times.

Here is the message:

“Dear parents,

Please remember that your responsability is to teach your child the magic words: hello, thank you, please and I am sorry.
Your task as a parent is also to guide your child to be honest, hard-working, broad-minded, to be in time and respect other children and teachers.
At home your child should also learn how to behave properly, not to talk with a full mouth and not to throw garbage on the ground.
As a parent you should also teach your child to be organized, to take care of his/her own belongings and respect for the belongings of the others.
We teachers here at school teach your child math, history, languages and physical training. We strengthen the upbringing that your child has received from you at home.”

Why this reminder note touches us so much? After all it is a simple note from the school teachers to the parents of pupils concerning their parenting responsibilities.

Is it because we parents work long hours and we trust so much the Finnish school system and teachers that they will take care of our children in every way? So, we have kind of transferred the responsibility from ourselves to the teachers and it makes us feel guilty when someone reminds us of our responsibilities as parents. You’ve got a job to do at home as well.

What kind of thoughts does this evoke in you?


This way you can help your child out of anxiety

posted in: anxiety, behavior, courage, emotion, skills | 0

I read a brilliant article on the Hey Sigmund site.

Karen Young writes about children’s and teens anxiety and how to help them turn it around. I found this really interesting since we’ve dealt with it in our home too.

Young writes that ”anxiety is a normal response to something dangerous or stressful.”

She points out that ”we already know that anxiety has nothing to do with strength, courage or character. It picks a target and it switches on. When that target is a child or teen, it can be particularly distressing, causing problems with sleeping, eating and missed school from unexplained illnesses such as sick tummies or headaches.

One of the worst things about anxiety is the way it can happen without any identifiable cause. The physical feeling is familiar – that panicked feeling that comes for example when you miss a stair.”

According to Karen Young the good news is that anxiety in kids is very treatable. She thinks that ”often we adults don’t give children enough credit. They’re so open to possibility, and very quick to make the right connections when they’re given the right information and support. ” She encourages us, the adults in our children’s life to help them overcome the challenging feelings of anxiety.


Anxiety in Kids: How to Turn it Around and Protect Them For Life

What a temper!

What a Temper!

What a temper! Your child, normally so sunny and the world’s sweetest kid, goes from zero to 100 and transforms into an out-of-control gremlin. What is actually going on? Usually your child radiates joy, calmness and wellbeing; but when frustrated, emotions run rampant.

Sound familiar?
Your child may have a volatile temperament. Does the textbook hit the wall if homework isn’t going well? Or does s/he have trouble concentrating and you receive notices from the teacher that your child is disruptive and doesn’t give others their turn?

Or is your child painfully shy and withdrawn?
A child who reacts strongly, is short-tempered or is withdrawn easily makes parents second-guess themselves as child raisers: “Am I doing something wrong?”
You may also wonder if your child will ever learn to control himself or overcome his fears.
I myself have occasionally been stumped in the face of the challenges of childrearing. That’s why I decided to meet with experts, classroom teachers who are also Ph.D. candidates, and an educational psychologist who conducts brain research.

I got a reassuring response: no need to panic. Extreme reactions are a normal part of a child’s development. A volatile or withdrawn child is just learning about controlling his/her feelings and temperament. Recent studies and classroom research demonstrate that hidden behind shy, impulsive, withdrawn or short-tempered dispositions is a set of character strengths that can be drawn out.

I spent a day in special education teacher Kaisa Vuorinen’s classroom, and I saw with my own eyes how recognition of the students’ strengths works beautifully. Based on positive psychology, Vuorinen’s method of teaching her students is a fine example of how with positive reinforcement, one can get a child to blossom.
Mistakes were not in the least sought out in her classroom; instead, every student received praise for their strengths all day long.
Educational psychologists point out that every child, even calm, even-tempered children, benefit from recognition of their own character strengths.
This is because children who know their strengths are able to harness them to their advantage. They learn better and achieve positive results in life.
The good news is that it is possible for every parent to help their child to recognize and develop his/her own character strengths.
The method Kaisa Vuorinen uses can well be put into practice in your own daily interactions with your child.

Would you like to take a closer look at these methods of helping to develop your child’s character strengths? Order the first chapter of my guidebook, free of charge!

The world is changing rapidly. What will the world be like when our children are adults? What kinds of skills will they need to succeed? No one really knows for certain.
Often we just hope that our children will become balanced, happy adults and that they will find their own path and passions.
Educators are more and more convinced that learning is strongly connected to character and growth.  That’s why success in school requires more than just cramming for tests.
Learning calls for skills such as motivation, curiosity, self-regulation (self-control), perseverance, courage, and compassion.
Many learning researchers believe that certain character strengths, such as perseverance and self-regulation, are skills that predict success in school even better than IQ.
Fortunately, perseverance, self-regulation, compassion, and courage are all skills that you can help your child to improve.
I also interviewed neuropsychologist Nina Sajaniemi because I wanted to know more about positive psychology and the impact of positivity on child brain development. She told me about how a positive attitude in childrearing develops a child’s brain in a healthy way.
The researcher’s view on temper tantrums was a little surprising.
Sajaniemi said that she considered a child’s tantrums and out-of-control behavior to be the best possible moments for teaching important life skills.
Nina Sajaniemi described situations where a toddler has a meltdown in line at the store when he doesn’t get the candy bar he wanted or when a teenager shouts and slams doors.
Feelings of powerlessness and frustration in these situations are very familiar to parents.

So, what should you do?
Tantrums and out-of-control behavior are actually a normal part of development for most children and youth.
In these situations, it is still important for the parent  to act correctly.
As shown by research, many traditional methods of childrearing have turned out to be harmful. Often, they just reinforce the child or youth’s impulses and out-of-control behavior.
The most recent brain research can tell us what is happening. What happens in a child’s brain during a tantrum? How can recklessness be contained and gradually tamed altogether?
The neuropsychologist provides clear and practical instructions on how to act in a constructive way in these situations.
I have put together practical advice and exercises for parents about how to help their child to strengthen his/her character and deal with his/her feelings.
Oftentimes, improved child rearing only requires a change of perspective and a little practice, so that it will turn into a habit.
With the help of practical exercises developed by researchers and teachers, wonders can happen at home!



PS. My eBook See the Good is now for sale at and you are welocme to dowload the first chapter as a pdf here for free: See the Good – First Chapter