Having trouble dieting? Building up the courage to meet new people? Actually getting down to business and studying hard for that upcoming test? Getting Gritty features Dr. Caren Baruch-Feldman, author of The Grit Guide for Teens (in bookstores this July!). Dr. Baruch-Feldman teaches us what having grit means as well as how to grow our grit. Perfect for parents and teens.

At the Book Launch for The Grit Guide for Teens: A Workbook to Help You Build Perseverance, Self-Control, and a Growth Mindset, learn how teens can grow their grit from author and psychologist, Dr. Caren Baruch-Feldman.

July 9, 2017; 4pm
Barnes & Noble
Vernon Hills Shopping Center
680 Post Road
Scarsdale, NY 10583

This event is open to all. Feel free to share this invitation with friends and colleagues. Looking forward to seeing you there!For more information about the book, please see go to www.drbaruchfeldman.com/book

In the words of Walter Mischel and Cookie Monster, “Good things come to those who wait.” Many of you have pre-ordered the book and have had to wait. As a small thank you for pre-ordering, The Grit Guide for Teens, I would like to give you a sneak peak of two activities, one from the workbook and one from the online resource for parents and educators. In addition, I have attached a video of an interview with a parent who is also an educator sharing how she helped her teen grow her gift.

It is the second day of the state math test at Harrison Avenue Elementary School in Westchester County, New York. Persee, the perseverant puppy mascot, sits on top of the smart board in a third grade classroom, a reminder to students of the instruction they have been given throughout the school year that “perseverance pays off!” When faced with a challenging question, Persee reminds these third graders to exhibit an optimistic mindset, use flexible strategies in the face of obstacles, and to treat themselves with kindness and compassion.

What is happening at Harrison Avenue, the elementary school where I work as a school psychologist? And, more importantly, how did we get here?

Persee is part of a transformation taking place where I work as a school psychologist. Our school has joined a larger movement of schools committed to teaching not only academics but also character strengths like kindness, mental flexibility, grit, and self-control. Together with classroom teachers, I am teaching what kindness looks like in each grade, why self-control and grit are important, and how flexibility and problem solving can be used when facing an obstacle.

As part of the fifth grade service club, our fifth grade students are learning more about service. And what better way to give back than to your own community? For the past few years, our fifth graders have served as teachers, role models and accountability partners to our younger students, teaching them what they wish they knew when they were younger.

Having the older students teach these skills is a win-win. I have found, and the research supports, that older students are often more receptive and willing to change when they serve as role models and teachers as opposed to being passive recipients or beneficiaries of information. It is hard for my fifth graders to exhibit poor self-control after they have just finished teaching a lesson to kindergarten students on how “Good things come to those who wait.” Serving as role models creates memorable experiences for all involved (the teachers, older and younger students).

Through this work, I have noticed students seeking out more opportunities to be kind. For example, while walking in the hall, I see students greet each other with big hellos and smiles. They make an effort to hold the door for each other or pick up someone’s pencil. Students have shared with me that they have created a spot on the playground where you can go if you don’t have anyone to play with, and others know to join you there. In this way, the students create ripples of kindness that affect the whole school community.

Students are also being more deliberate and strategic in the use of self-control strategies. They are avoiding temptations (putting away supplies that distract them) or reframing those temptations (Is it worth it to play with the little papers in my desk?) instead of relying on willpower alone. They are learning to be more flexible when it comes to solving academic problems or taking turns at recess. By learning to embrace challenges, they are becoming more willing to take on hard things. Instead of taking failures personally, they are viewing them as part of the process that leads to success.

By directly and explicitly teaching the character skills students need to succeed, we are preparing them to be tomorrow’s leaders.  I am proud to be part of a school that is committed not only to growing childrens academic proficiency, but also to nurturing their character. I know that the students, teachers, and the community at large have all benefited from this work.

If you are interested in joining this world movement to cultivate students’ intellectual minds, as well as develop students’ character strengths and well-being, check out IPEN (International Positive Education Network) http://www.ipositive-education.net/. IPEN is dedicated to a  ‘character + academics’ approach to education around the world.

Save the Date & Join Me: Book Launch – July 9th: 4-6 pm at Barnes & Noble, Eastchester, NY. Please see my website (drbaruchfeldman.com/book) for information about my upcoming book, titled, The Grit Guide for Teens: A Workbook to Help You Build Perseverance, Self-Control, and a Growth Mindset will be released July 1, 2017.


Join us for a panel discussion surrounding academic stress, anxiety, competition and staying level-headed in the high-stakes high school environment. We will shed light on the topic, discuss research and offer tools for parents and kids to have at their disposal.
Register at scarsdalelibrary.org or call 914-722-1302
Scarsdale Public Library – 54 Olmsted Rd., Scarsdale, N.Y. – (914) 722-1302 – www.scarsdalelibrary.org

Marcella Moran is the founder of The Kid Organizer & The College Kid Organizer, and the Director at Hudson Learning Lab. A licensed psychotherapist, she works with families to develop positive strategies for students who are disorganized.

Randi Silverman co-founded a local community Parent-to-Parent Support Group for parents raising children who have issues with anxiety, depression, and/or mood disorders. She also produced the multi-award winning film, NO LETTING GO and founded The Youth Mental Health Project.

Dr. Caren Baruch-Feldman is a psychologist and the author of the upcoming book titled, The Grit Guide for Teens. She uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to help children and adults with depression, anxiety, and ADHD.

Dr. Mitch Samet is a school psychologist and New York State licensed psychologist in private practice. He has over 25 years of experience working with children, young adults and families and is currently a school psychologist, a clinical team coordinator and a supervising psychologist.

Dr. Ken Cotrone, former Assistant Principal of Byram Hills High School, is passionate about the dangers surrounding academic stress and anxiety and completed a dissertation on the topic. As the new Executive Director of Soundview Prep School, he continues to raise awareness.

Dr. Suzanne Braniecki, NYS licensed psychologist with specialized training in pediatric neuropsychology, conducts neuropsychological evaluations at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center. She is also an assistant professor at New York Medical College.

This workshop will introduce mental health professionals and school personnel to cognitive behavioral techniques that can be used in a classroom or office setting. Ways to adapt traditional cognitive behavioral strategies to working with younger children will be shared. In addition, actual forms and materials that can be used in a school or office setting will be distributed. Participants will walk away with actual strategies that they can use in their office or in the classroom.

To sign up, please go to : http://albertellis.org/event/rebtcbt-strategies-working-school-age-children/

“Other People Matter”- Chris Peterson

March 20th was The International Day of Happiness. In celebration, throughout the month of March, I received emails sharing ways to increase my happiness. What struck me was that none of the emails suggested buying a pair of expensive shoes or a box of chocolates. Instead, the focus, and rightly so, was on what Positive Psychologist, Chris Peterson, meant by saying, “Other People Matter.” By making other people matter, happiness in the truest and deepest sense of the word is achieved.  When I think about what truly makes me “happy” and gives life meaning, it is my connection to and my ability to help others. I feel incredibly privileged that as a psychologist I “get to” focus on helping others. However, not all of us have those types of jobs. So even if you don’t have a helping job, here are three easy ways based on my three favorite musicals that will allow you to turn a day of happiness into a lifetime of happiness.

  1. “Talk Less, Smile More” – “Aaron Burr, Sir,” Hamilton: An American Musical

I must confess that seeing Hamilton for a normal price made me very happy. However, not all of us are that fortunate. But, all of us can learn from a line from the song, “Aaron Burr, Sir.” In this song, Aaron Burr encourages Hamilton to “talk less, smile more.” When we are in the presence of smiling people, we feel happy. The underlying, neurological reason for this reaction is that we all have mirror neurons. Mirror neurons mirror back the emotions of others. The converse is also true. When we are surrounded by anger or yelling (a form of talking), we mirror that emotional energy as well. So how can we use mirror neurons to our advantage? We can smile. At school, I smile and say, “Hi” to all. I have trained the kids so that when they see me, they also smile and say “hello.” The exchange of smiles and hellos starts our days off on the right foot. It’s so easy and costs nothing, so if you want to increase happiness in yourself, family, or the larger community, say “hello” with a big smile and let it be contagious.

  1. “Can Anybody See, Is Anybody Waving Back At Me?” – “Waving Through A Window,” Dear Evan Hansen the Musical

As a psychologist, I am often struck by how many children, teens, and adults feel that they are “tap, tap, tapping on a glass” but that no one is waving back at them. The need to belong is universal. Without it, we feel lost, adrift, and often depressed. So what can you do? Be inviting. Make an effort to be inclusive. Be the person who looks out for others. All of us live busy lives and it is often the case that people don’t mean to avoid waving back. However, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all made a concerted effort to be a person who initiates the waving and also waves back?

  1. “Because I Knew You, I have Been Changed For Good”- “For Good,” Wicked the Musical

I have listened to this song a billion times (my daughter will confirm this fact). What is it about this song that touches me? And, what does this song have to do with happiness? The song resonates with me because I have found that through helping others, I have been changed for good. So how can you help others? Small things – like opening the door for someone or saying “thank you” to the person who serves you coffee or the colleague who helps you at work – allow you to be a change for good.

For the last six years, on the last Sunday of the month, you will find my daughter, my dog Brandy, and me at the United Hebrew Home of New Rochelle. We will be smiling, and tap, tap, tapping on the door, and asking patients, “Would you like a visit from our therapy dog, Brandy?”  What I have discovered is that bringing happiness to others and especially watching my daughter bring happiness to others is incredibly rewarding and creates more happiness than any box of chocolate or pair of sparkly shoes.

My challenge for you is that even though The International Day for Happiness has passed, let’s maintain the ripple effect of happiness by smiling more, waving back, and being the good you wish to see in the world.

Please see my website (drbaruchfeldman.com) for information about my upcoming book, titled, “The Grit Guide for Teens”. Additional blogs, articles, and presentations are available on the website. You can follow me at twitter at carenfeldman@carenfeldman.  © 2017 Caren Baruch-Feldman

Teens, Grit, and inspirED: An Interview with Dr. Caren Baruch-Feldman

So excited to be presenting at the Learning & the Brain Conference (April 9th at 2:45). A growing body of research is finding that grit, self-control, and a positive mindset can have a strong influence on the academic achievement and emotional well-being of children and teens. Furthermore, these qualities have been found to be the “secret sauce” to their success.  Dr. Baruch-Feldman is the author of the upcoming book titled, The Grit Guide for Teens : A Workbook to Help You Build Perseverance, Self-Control, and a Growth Mindset (July 2017). 

See link below to register.



In Part 2 of this blog, I will discuss strategies parents and teachers can use to increase self-control, grit, and resilience in their children. Grit and self-control go hand-in-hand. Self-control is about delaying gratification and resisting temptations, while grit is about persevering and remaining on track. Grit is about how to keep saying “yes” (e.g., staying with a difficult task) when yes is needed. Whereas self-control is often about how to say, “no” (e.g., not eating the marshmallow, not yelling), when no is needed. According to Dr. Duckworth, “grit is passion and perseverance, sticking with your future, day in and day out.”

How do you encourage grit, self-control, and resilience in your children?

1. Don’t swoop in.

It is easy as a parent to break into the “mama tiger,” the part of you that wants to protect your children and solve their issues. However, for small matters, resist! Having some challenges to overcome is good for children. For example, as an Elementary School psychologist, I often help youngsters who are experiencing friendship issues. Although I feel for the children (mostly girls) going through it, I know that these experiences will give them strength, thicker skin, and grit later on.

2. We need to be gritty about our kids being gritty.

As parents and teachers, we should make it okay for children to face challenges because that is where learning takes place. As teachers, we should create classrooms where trying, struggling, and taking risks are as important, or even more important, as getting the answer correct. Children need to become comfortable with the struggle so they see it as just a normal part of learning.

3. We need to encourage a growth mindset.

How do we do that? Help your children to see that when a challenge arises, there is always an opportunity for growth, change, and evolution. Dr. Carol Dweck, in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, describes the difference between a “fixed” and a “growth mindset.” A fixed mindset means that an individual has a set amount, or a fixed amount of talents and abilities. Individuals with a fixed mindset often go through life avoiding challenges and failure. They don’t apply themselves. Why should they? Their talents are fixed. Kids with fixed mindsets can often easily navigate the younger grades, but when they face their first challenge in the later grades, fall apart and quit, rather than persevere. In contrast, individuals with a growth mindset believe that their ability to learn is not fixed, but can change with effort. Failure is not seen as a permanent condition, but rather one from which to grow.

4. Praise the process, not the product.

Dr. Dweck speaks about the importance of parents and teachers praising the process as opposed to the product. By doing so, children will be more willing to grow and challenge themselves rather than play it safe. As parents and teachers, we need to move away from “you are so smart” and instead to “you must have worked really hard.”

5. Change the mindset.

For all these strategies, one needs to change one’s mindset. Certain mindsets elicit the long-term part of the brain to emerge, and certain mindsets encourage the short-term, immediate gratification part to come out. For example, distracting oneself, not focusing on the hot aspects of the item (looking, smelling, and touching), changing the item to something less desirable, and focusing on the end goal, encourages self-control, grit, and resilience. The point is not to be a robot who never engages in fun activities, but instead to have yourself or your children be in charge of their fate, instead of having the short-term, hedonistic part of the brain take over.

In summary, we need to encourage our children to live their lives as though it were a marathon and not a sprint, to perceive challenges as setbacks to overcome, and failures as learning opportunities. Lastly, we need to lead by example, share our own gritty times, and remind our children that what is often most meaningful comes with work and effort.

If you like these ideas, I encourage you to read Dr. Duckworth’s Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance,Dr. Mischel’s, The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self Control, and Dr. Dweck’s, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

Please check out my website at drbaruchfeldman.com for additional blogs, articles, and information about my forthcoming book titled, The Grit Guide for Teens: A Workbook to Help You Build Perseverance, Self-Control, and a Growth Mindset. You can pre-order it through my website www.drbaruchfeldman.com/book. 

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