Dear Clementina


Experiencing E Learning Burn Out?


Putting Out Fires in Quarentina

Dear Clementina,

I wanted to reach out to you to tell you about a book I read (well listened to lol) recently that I thought was very interesting. In an effort to make things at home run as smoothly as possible I listened to the audiobook version of The Explosive Child. What was striking to me was how different it was from the parenting path that we have taken in the past. Basically the theme is "kids do well when they can" and really offers a different way to get to solutions. I have decided that I am going to give the methods a go for a bit and see if they are effective for us.
Essentially the idea is that a rewards/punishment system isn't all that effective for explosive kids, and what ends up happening is that those kids, the ones who already struggle the most, end up w/far more discipline, which can really lead to negative relationships with their parents/care takers. That proactive problem solving as a team is really best. Basically b/c "kids do well when they can" these explosive kids are missing tools to problem solve and stay calm, and you can't really just teach those skills via sticker charts and time outs. He mentioned for instance if a child was struggling with reading you would figure out what part was the challenge and offer extra support on that, not just punish them. It's much more thorough than that, but made me realize that maybe the traditional time out system, which to be fair worked initially but long term has been a struggle, isn't our best bet. This doesn't mean there is no discipline or expectations, quite the opposite, but rather tweaks how it is implemented and the frequency.

As I was listening, it's only 2 1/2 hours, so pretty easy to consume, I kept thinking how valuable some of this information may be for educators as well. I honestly thought if school was still in session I would bring you copies and have a good book club style chat about it! The author also mentions that he has a book for educators as well, which I haven't listened to, but may be a good resource. If anyone is looking for extra reading this summer either of these books may be worth checking out.

Formerly Frenzied Frida

Dear Frida,

I cannot thank you enough for sharing this book report. There are so many of us who carry a fire extinguisher at all times, especially during quarantina. Whether a child is "normally explosive" or ignited by elearning frustration, sibling annoyance, or the general stress of isolation, WE ARE ALL DOING THE BEST WE CAN WITH THE SKILLS THAT WE HAVE, children and adults alike. As Rudolf Dreikurs said, "A misbehaving child is a discouraged child." "Children do better when they feel better" - Jane Nelsen. Rewards and punishment may "work" in the short term, but they are not effective long term. As you mentioned, our job is to teach children the skills they will need, and self regulation is a great place to start. We are not born with the ability to stay calm at all times - that just isn't human. It takes a lifetime of practice, even for adults!!

Stay Fantastic Frida!


Faith in Quarentina

Dear Clementina,

I am losing my mind, AGAIN! I mean, you wonder how many times that can happen in a day. It's a wonder that I can think at all. Well, I wouldn't think if it were my choice. I would DO things differently. For example, instead of juggling Zoom meetings, lesson plans for three kids and keeping up with the constant mess in this house, I would be meeting with a staff of helpers each morning; a housekeeper, a chef, three tutors, a governess (aka Maria from The Sound of Music), a personal trainer, and a makeup artist. I am so tired of seeing my face on that screen. How am I supposed to eat well, work out, stay organized, teach math, grocery shop, practice baseball with my son, and somehow look like I am paying attention to my work calls? I can't even go to mass for an hour of peace!
Please send a relief team and a priest!

Dear Pronto,

First, I will validate your feelings. I understand that patience is wearing thin in quarantina. I hear you, I see you, and you look amazing on the Zoom camera!
Second, I will reiterate that there is nothing ordinary about this experience! For some reason, everyone thinks that it is possible to create experiences as they were before the virus, and that just isn't possible right now.
Third, though I cannot fulfill your staff request, I can send a priest! Last week, I received a webinar invitation (Recording here.)
from Gonzaga University, where Colossal, the youngest Clementine attends. I asked Colossal if he wanted to watch it together, and he said, "Sure, Mom." As it turned out, Colossal went fly fishing instead, but I forced myself to take a break from my task list to connect with God. Father Gregory Boyle, S.J, founder of Homeboy Industries and author of Tattoos on the Heart, reminded me that the most important thing we can do during this time of pause is to BE WITH. We don't know exactly what's going to happen next and that is unsettling for everyone. "We need to be where our body is." He said that we burn ourselves out when we are consumed with outcomes but to love someone fully means to be with that person.
I am trying to give myself and others grace during this extraordinary time. Give it a try, Pronto! Grace for everyone, and start with yourself.



The Gifts of Quarentina

Dear Grateful Parents,

How are you feeling today? Take a moment to think about it and if the answer is not, grateful, that is OK. We just learned that our Saint Clement Cuties will not return to school this year, and I understand that gratitude may not be top of mind for many of us. I happen to feel thankful today because today is my daughter's birthday! California Clementina is 22! What a birthday to remember!

When the quarentina hit, emotions were stormy. California Clementina was disappointed and angry when live classes on her beautiful campus were cancelled. She was scared when told by a friend that if she stayed, she would get sick and have no one to take care of her. She was confused about what might happen next; what would happen with graduation, her job search, her life? The beach closed. What would she do without beach walks to keep her calm? What could I do as her mother, since I didn't have the answers either? Listen and validate, validate, validate. We talked daily and sorted out the feelings and the decisions together.

She decided to stay in San Diego with her three roommates. The girls planned an elaborate Easter Sunday brunch, complete with an Easter Egg Hunt for the neighbor cuties, a mimosa for their exhausted mother and treats delivered to the patios of the people across the street, all while maintaining social distance, of course.

Today is another celebration of life and the girls continue to deliver! I am in awe! If you have attended a Positive Discipline Workshop, you know that one of our favorite activities is to brainstorm the life skills that we wish for our children. The juice squeezed out of these cuties; resilience, positivity, sense of humor, critical thinking, empathy, generosity, faith, hope, self respect, creativity.......I could go on and on.

Why am I telling you this story? THIS IS A TIME TO THINK ABOUT ALL OF THE THINGS THAT OUR CUTIES ARE LEARNING......AND IT IS ALOT!!! Which life skills are being built in your house? What are your cuties leaning? Please email and SHARE!!



What if??? ❤❤❤

If they cancel the rest of the school year, students would miss 2.5 months of education. Many people are concerned about students falling behind because of this. Yes, they may fall behind when it comes to classroom education...

But what if...❤❤❤

What if instead of falling "behind", this group of kids are ADVANCED because of this? Hear me out...❤❤❤

What if they have more empathy, they enjoy family connection, they can be more creative and entertain themselves, they love to read, they love to express themselves in writing. ❤❤❤

What if they enjoy the simple things, like their own backyard and sitting near a window in the quiet. ❤❤❤

What if they notice the birds and the dates the different flowers emerge, and the calming renewal of a gentle rain shower? ❤❤❤

What if this generation are the ones to learn to cook, organize their space, do their laundry, and keep a well run home? ❤❤❤

What if they learn to stretch a dollar and to live with less? ❤❤❤

What if they learn to plan shopping trips and meals at home. ❤❤❤

What if they learn the value of eating together as a family and finding the good to share in the small delights of the everyday? ❤❤❤

What if they are the ones to place great value on our teachers and educational professionals, librarians, public servants and the previously invisible essential support workers like truck drivers, grocers, cashiers, custodians, logistics, and health care workers and their supporting staff, just to name a few of the millions taking care of us right now while we are sheltered in place? ❤❤❤

What if among these children, a great leader emerges who had the benefit of a slower pace and a simpler life to truly learn what really matters in this life?❤❤

What if they are AHEAD? ❤❤❤❤

(Copied and pasted from a friend but too good not to share! ❤️)


Creating Routines in Quarentina

Dear Productive Parents,

We are more than halfway through Week Two, and I'm guessing that perhaps the shock of Week One has changed to a bit of acceptance? Maybe for some and not for others? This morning I heard a correspondent liken our experience to Elizabeth Kubler Ross's Stages of Change. We all experience the emotions, but not at the same time, or even in the same order. Hopefully, you have settled into some family routines and are making the best of the resources and energy that you have - we can't do it all in one day, as they say. If you haven't had the chance to discuss agreements or routines yet, it will be worth the investment, and you will have buy-in from the kids. During the quarentina, please direct your parenting questions to Dear Clementina or to Lisa Herold We are working to build a blog so that we can share information and support one another more often!

Stay Strong and Proud,


How is it going with Family Agreements?

Create Family Agreements

  • Teachers begin the year creating agreements with children and ask the question, What can we do to make this the almost perfect school year? Parents can ask the family, What can we do to make this the almost perfect home learning time? The family brainstorms ideas as a child writes the suggestions on the chart or paper, making sure that everyone has the chance to contribute. The family then talks through each agreement until there is consensus. Suggestions are required to be reasonable and respectful to all. (Ex; People should wear headphones while they are listening to loud music unless everyone likes it) You may be wondering why you would go through all of this. Shouldn't the adult just make the rules and the kids follow them? If you have taken a Positive Discipline Class, you already know the answer :) We'll check in next week to see how this is going and would love to hear about your experiences!


Clementina in Quarentina

Dear Saint Clement Parents,

You made it to Friday!! No matter how imperfect or stressful your week has been, it is FRIDAY! Hats off to you for working from home and for learning with your children for one long week! It is ok if your child didn't finish every lesson or if you are not the perfect math teacher, you are still an amazing parent and your children will continue to learn. Hopefully, you are safe and healthy and somewhat sane. If you don't feel sane, you are not alone!

Lisa Herold told me that it might be a good time for me to come back, to help support all of you through the crisis facing our nation. For those of you who haven't met me, my name is Clementina and I live with Clementino. We have three little cuties and our goal is to help you with your parenting questions; notice that I didn't say, "answer" your questions. Mr. Clementino told me years ago that I wouldn't find the answers in a book. However, when he was having a bad day, he would say, "What does the book say?". We try to help and we laugh and cry along the way.

Challenge for the weekend: Take some time off from school work! Continue to learn but try not to be the school work manager. Everyone needs a break!!! Stay healthy!

On Monday, watch your email for a surprise - a new way to connect. We need you so stay tuned!



A Flipped Lid?

flipped lid artwork

Dear Clementina,

There has been a lot of tantrum throwing in my house lately, and I'm embarrassed to say that we don't have a toddler in the family. My children are toddler-esque in their rants. The pre-teen and teenager have been crying hysterically, complaining, panicking, yelling, stomping their feet, fighting, and talking back, no - screaming back on a regular basis. My daughter's body language tells me when she is crossing to the dark side. She slowly raises her right hand in the air and releases the volcanic eruption with her voice. To make matters worse, my husband struggles to handle these situations calmly. He joins right in on the hysteria and then I am faced with three out of control family members. Should I seek shelter or attempt to calm the storm?

Last one standing, Where's the lifeboat?

Dear Survivor,

Put on your foul weather gear for this one... Let's face it, young children are not the only ones who throw fits, and neither are teenagers. Brain science can help us understand a lot about tantrums. At Saint Clement School, teachers, parents, and students participate in,a five minute exercise which can change lives.

See Dr. Daniel Segal's video:

When we are in our thinking brain, we are able to think clearly, function properly, and learn. When our lid is flipped, we go straight to emotions and to our fight, flight, or freeze response. We need to cool-out, refuel, recharge, and plan for what's next. A positive time out is needed to get us back into our thinking brain. Students learn to be aware of signs in their body that they may be flipping. They mention clenched teeth, a bad feeling in the pit of their stomach, steam coming out of their ears, etc. Teachers may notice tight raised shoulders or an accelerated heartbeat. Mr. Clementino claims that he can feel his blood pressure rising. Whatever the cue, tuning into escalation is the key to de-escalation.

Mirror neurons in the brain explain why Mr. Clementino goes straight to the ceiling when the teeny Clementines are escalating. We mirror the expressions and emotions of others. When Mr. Clementino feels his blood pressure rise, he needs to use de-escalation tips to prevent an adult sized tantrum. Fifth, sixth and seventh graders watched this video on mirror neurons.

My advice to you is this; instead of jumping ship, withstand the storm. How? Talk with your family about flipped lids. Our brains all have the capacity to flip. Prepare for rough seas by reinforcing positive time out. Do we prepare for a storm during the storm? No, we prepare when seas are calm. We talk with children about flipped lid and positive time-out when their brains are in thinking mode, and we agree on a strategy that may keep them from flipping. Everyone needs a cool out spot. The spot may be a comfortable nook at home or it may be an image that we visit no matter where we are. I often model going to my spot, "I'm about to flip and I can't talk about this right now. I can talk with you when I am calm." If they flip anyway, that's ok too, since they will have a cool-out space waiting for them. In theory, they will also have a parent dressed in foul weather gear who will weather the storm. When the storm passes, it is time to talk.

Don't give up the ship,


Here are some resources I've found helpful related to flipped lid. Please enjoy!

Daniel Siegel, The Teenage Brain

Daniel Siegel, Connecting to Calm

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Raising Grateful Children

Dear Clementina,

Today's gloomy weather is enough of the same color. Where does the sky begin? Where does the ground end? To boost my spirits, I began shopping on my favorite website for cheery throw pillows. My son caught sight of my screen and said, "More pillows?" Though his question was sincere, I felt agitated so chose to use the temporary but effective Ignore tool that I picked up at the Positive Parenting Workshop and went right on scrolling the photos of decorative pillows. I came across a beautiful linen bolster with the word GRATEFUL embroidered across it. Though the colors were dull, I wondered if this word would spruce up my household and my family's outlook.

I have heard the word GRATEFUL spoken frequently amongst my friends at Saint Clement. I share their concern when I say, how can I teach my children to be thankful for what they have? It seems that no matter what they have, it is never enough. They are always wanting more! When I was growing up, things didn't come as easily. I need to find ways to help them appreciate what they have. I do not intend to raise my children to take things for granted or, God forbid, to be considered brats!

Please send me a ray of sunshine and a few tricks to prevent the brat brigade!

-Gloom and Doom

Dear Gloom and Doom,

Here comes the sun! You are obviously a conscientious parent who appreciates the school's partnership in value formation. You have the benefit of being part of a parent community that shares your concerns.

First of all, the most powerful parental tool you possess is the ability to MODEL gratefulness for your child. Thanking the Starbucks barista a second and third time will not go unnoticed, especially if Starbucks is a daily stop in your morning routine. This may carry over into the cafeteria where parent volunteers are thanked for squirting ketchup, opening milk cartons and slicing pancakes! Children are watching when you deliver dinner to a friend in need, volunteer for school and church events, or hand a sandwich to a homeless person on the sidewalk

SERVICE TO OTHERS is a direct path to creating appreciation for one's gifts. Many adults take part in parish service opportunities as an individual or as a family. The school community participates in Anchor Day, donating dollars to local and national charities. There are personal connections to these organizations; giving teachers and families the chance to deepen the meaning of bringing a dollar to school. Children may not always verbalize what they are learning through these experiences. You may decide to initiate a dialogue by saying, "What are some things you learned?" or "What are some things you noticed?" or you can allow the lesson to speak for itself. I can assure you that they are learning and noticing whether it is articulated or not.

The practice of regular FAMILY MEETINGS AND CLASS MEETINGS (Positive Discipline) includes the routine of all members giving appreciations and compliments. This practice gives children, parents, and teachers a window to see what others are contributing to the family or classroom, that may go unnoticed in the hustle and bustle of a "regular" week. For example, Mr. Clementino might say, "Clementina, I was very busy at work this week and I appreciate that you drove the Cuties to all of their activities." Thank you, Mr. Clementino.

Another way to integrate gratefulness is to keep a family gratefulness binder or a private gratefulness journal. Research on GRATEFULNESS tells us that people who take the time to notice gratitude are happier in general than those who do not take the time to be grateful. In many cases, patients who suffered from depression and kept a gratefulness journal found the journal process to be more effective than medication.

David Steindle-Rast, a Benedectine Monk says, "It is not happiness that makes us grateful. It is gratefulness that makes us happy." His Ted Talk and history can be found here.

So, Gloom and Doom, you are already doing incredible things. It is time to LET THE SUNSHINE IN! -The Fifth Dimension

Love and Sunshine,


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Clementina shares helpful resources!

Dear Clementina,

Sometimes, when I'm not praying for patience, I go to Barnes & Noble and loiter in the parenting section, hoping that my finger will land magically on the right book from the shelf. The "right book" is the one that will tell me exactly what to do in response to the specific behavior challenge I might be facing on a given day, from one or more of my children. The employees may stare at me while I frantically rip through the indices of a stack of books, but I know that I will find something, maybe even a good photograph of a parent feeling the way I do? Is there something I can do to be more efficient in my search for good parenting advice?

Feeling Scattered

Dear Scattered,

There are reasons that the parenting section is so large at Barnes & Noble. Parents have many questions about raising children. Parenting is the most important job we could ever hold and also the most difficult job. At the same time, no one could ever tell us how amazing it is to have children in our lives.

That being said, where do we find the answers? When my first child entered toddlerhood, I realized that he was a BOY. By that I mean, I needed help understanding his behavior; what was he thinking, why did he need to move constantly, and why did he talk to me in a "Captain Hook" voice? At playgroup, he and his friend Paul would hit each other over the heads with their trucks and the girl mothers would just stare at us. Paul's mother phoned later; "I'm so embarrassed! Do you think they'll kick us out of the playgroup?" That's when I began reading Michael Thompson's books about BOYS. Mr. Clementino chuckled and commented, "You aren't going to find the answers in a book." I kept reading. When my son's pre-school teacher called and insisted that I pick him up early, I read more; tantrums, fit throwing, fighting on the playground.

Mr. Clementino was right. I never did find the answers in a book. I did learn a lot about boys. I learned about something called the "boy code". I learned about tantrums and developmental stages and communication techniques. Most importantly, I learned how to understand my child and to trust my parental instincts. Since I was the one doing the reading, Mr. Clementino looked to me to coach him through some tough moments. It would sound something like this, "Clementina, what am I supposed to do NOW?" Believe it or not, I coached him through the moment, right on the spot, many times with the child listening. Clementino prefers experiential learning. Though our parenting history isn't perfect, we've grown to appreciate our strengths and have strong relationships with our children. We continued to be blessed and challenged each day.

Since there is no formal training, internship, or interview process for parenting, I use my resources and thank God for them every day. Saint Clement School offers support to parents through Positive Parenting Workshops. These workshops are experiential in nature and the goal is to create strong parent community. We add a variety of tools to deal with common misbehaviors. We have a beautifully compiled list of books and articles LINK Ms. Dan has a library of her favorites in her office.

I welcome emails and wish you the best on your search to discover your parenting strengths!

Stay True to You,


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