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 or call 914-722-1302
Scarsdale Public Library – 54 Olmsted Rd., Scarsdale, N.Y. – (914) 722-1302 –

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 :

Stress is all around us. We as adults feel it, as well as our children. In this talk, participants will walk away with both thinking and behavioral strategies to address the stress and worry in the lives of their children.

I recently saw the movie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens. If you are in the 1 percent of people who haven’t seen the movie, I highly recommend you see it, and DON’T READ FURTHER because serious spoilers will be revealed in this blog.

However, for those of you who have seen it, I was wondering if you gave any thought to R2D2’s miraculous awakening? R2D2 is seen in a coma-like state midway throughout the movie, presumably because he misses his master, Luke Skywalker. So the question is, why did R2D2 wake up and, more importantly, how was he able to wake up right on the heels of Han Solo’s death.

Although I read an article indicating that the writers chose to have R2D2 wake up in order to lighten the dark mood following Han Solo’s death, I think this is only a partial explanation. On a psychological level, I believe what caused R2D2 to come back to life was his drive to connect. This desire to connect with others is hard wired in all of us during times of stress or challenge.

I often see during times of sickness or death that individuals and communities come together and create a sea of caring and connection. It is through this sea of caring that resilience follows. How does this play out in Star Wars? It is only after the death of Han Solo that R2D2 comes alive, and the necessary part of the map to finding Luke Skywalker becomes available. Then, the final mission of finding Luke Skywalker can be and is accomplished.

So what can we take away from Star Wars: The Force Awakens? Not that you’ll be fighting intergalactic missions, but rather that when faced with stress or a challenge, our body has a natural mechanism that drives us to turn to others. And, through this social support, we actually grow and become stronger, allowing us to ultimately cope effectively with stress and accomplish the missions we set out for ourselves.

If you are interested in learning more about the power of social support and the upside of stress, I highly recommend Kelly McGonigal’s Ted Talk on “How to Make Stress Your Friend.” This Ted Talk has been viewed by over 9 million views (less than the number of people that saw Star Wars, but still quite sizable). Dr. Kelly McGonigal in her Ted Talk summarized Dr. Poulin’s important work on how caring creates resilience.

Also, if you are interested in learning more about resilience and caring, I highly recommend, Dr. Robert Brooks’ “Continuing Thoughts About Resilience: What We Can Learn from Military Veterans.” This November blog as well as many other terrific blogs can be accessed by going to

May the force of “social support” be with you, Caren

Please check out my website at for additional blogs and upcoming events.

“Welcome the Burn”- Harry Otto, Fitness Instructor at Lifetime Athletic Health Club

In my last blog, I discussed the challenges of being a “lighthouse parent”. To review, lighthouse parenting as described by Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg in his book, Raising Kids to Thrive: Balancing Love with Expectations and Protection with Trust: The Lighthouse Parenting Strategy allows children to ride the waves, while providing guidance so they don’t crash into the rocks. This style differs from helicopter parents who are constantly hovering anxiously overhead, or snowplow parents who would remove the rocks from the ocean. I think we all can agree that hovering and plowing are not best, but rather being a lighthouse parent is something we should strive for. Despite the fact that I am a child psychologist and a relatively mindful human being, I struggle in my ability not to nag, hover, or snow plow when it comes to my own parenting style.

So the question is why? I think the reason is that I struggle with the “burn”? What do I mean? When I start to let go or not hover, I start to feel anxious and instead of embracing the nervousness (the burn), I want to do something to get rid of it (i.e., nag).

However, I don’t do this in all aspects of my life. In contrast, when I am at the gym and taking a class like “Extreme Limits”, I welcome the burn. I don’t drop the weights, but instead I see the burn in a positive light. I see it as evidence that my body is changing (in the right direction).

So how can we apply this to our parenting?

1. See the burn associated with letting go and not hovering as a positive, as a sign of growth. Reframe the experience of anxiety in a positive manner. See for example, your heart pumping and the tightness in your stomach as a sign that you are going in the right direction. Yes, it can feel scary to let go, but we always need to remember the very big picture (the 50 year plan we have for our children).

2. Just like I wouldn’t take on too much all at once at the gym (I don’t pick up 40 pound weights when I am only used to 10 pounds), similarly start small. So for me, maybe, I will still nag and hover about the bite plate (equivalent to 40 pounds for me), but I will try to step back about what socks my son has chosen to wear (10 pounds).

3. Although you need to start small, you can’t go too small (reducing hovering by .1%). Lifting 1 pound weights at this point won’t change my body. So although starting small has merit, if we go too small, we won’t achieve the changes we are looking for.

4. Remember that by picking up the weights regularly, it gets easier. I remember when I could only pick up 5 pound weights, but now after consistently doing the work, I can lift more. By consistently making an effort to hover less, it will be easier to parent more effectively.

5. I will follow Harry’s instruction to “pick up the dumb bells in order to make my arms lighter”. Now on the surface that doesn’t make sense. How does adding weights to your arms make your arms lighter? However, Harry was right. When I first did the exercise with the weights and then did the exercise without the weights, my arms felt not only noticeably lighter, but stronger. So how does that translate to parenting? If we do the hard work now, later on it will be easier.

In summary, we need to reframe the burn we feel when we let go (not hover) as a sign that we are on the right track. We need to make a commitment to the work, knowing that eventually it will get easier. Furthermore, we need to remember that the burn may feel uncomfortable, but if we embrace it and don’t drop the weights, we (parents and children) get the positive results that we all are looking for.
____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ Please check out my website at for additional blogs and articles and follow me on twitter at Caren [email protected]

If you are interested in learning more about lighthouse parenting I recommend, Dr. Ginsburg’s book, Raising Kids to Thrive: Balancing Love with Expectations and Protection with Trust: The Lighthouse Parenting Strategy.

In addition, great news, if you missed my flash webinar: Be a Beacon: Lighthouse Parenting for All it is now available online at Expert Online Training’s website.

Be a Beacon: Lighthouse Parenting for All – October's Flash Webinar

Do you make resolutions every year, but find them hard to keep? Do you struggle with willpower?
If the answer is, “Yes”!

Come hear Dr. Caren Baruch-Feldman as she 1) reviews the latest research in making effective habits and understanding willpower, 2) helps you to develop your own positive, new habits and 3) teaches you the secrets of making New Year’s Resolutions that stick. Come ready to change!


Dr. Caren Baruch-Feldman who grew up at Ohav Shalom is a practicing psychologist who has lost 25 pounds using these principles. Dr. Baruch-Feldman works part-time in the Harrison schools and maintains a private practice in Scarsdale. Providing in-services and presentations is a highlight of Dr. Baruch-Feldman’s professional life. She can be reached at 914-646-9030. Her website is Follow her at twitter: Caren [email protected]

Great News! If you missed my Be a Beacon: Lighthouse Parenting for All – October’s Flash Webinar presented by EOT, it is now available on Expert Online Training’s website.
Helicopters, snowplows, and free-rangers are out. Lighthouse parenting is in! October’s flash webinar from Expert Online Training, hosted by psychologist and parenting expert, Dr. Caren Baruch-Feldman, will explore the benefits of a parenting style that consistently provides light and direction. Parents and directors alike will benefit from this frank discussion about reliable adult leadership that promotes growth without snuffing out creativity.
Discover what it takes to:
1. be a lighthouse parent.
2. encourage the parents you work with to parent in this manner.
3. face the obstacles that get in your way.

Move Over Snowplow and Helicopter Parents, Lighthouse Parents Are Shining Through

I recently read a terrific book by Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg entitled, Raising Kids to Thrive: Balancing Love with Expectations and Protection with Trust: The Lighthouse Parenting Strategy. In his book, Dr. Ginsburg talks about the value of being a “lighthouse parent.” You may be wondering, what is a lighthouse parent? Dr. Ginsburg describes lighthouse parenting as providing “beacons of light on a stable shoreline from which our children can safely navigate the world.” Lighthouse parenting allows children to ride the waves, while providing guidance so they don’t crash into the rocks. This style differs from a helicopter parent who is constantly hovering anxiously overhead, or a snowplow parent who would remove the rocks from the ocean. I think we all can agree that hovering and plowing are not best, but rather being a lighthouse parent is something we should strive for. But how do we get there? Here are some ideas to parent like a lighthouse:

1. Fill Your Child’s Bucket: Try to build a reserve in your child’s bucket. Make time to create and grow the positive in your relationships with your children. By having a strong positive relationship with your child, something still remains when you may have to dip into your child’s bucket (see story at the end).

2. Seek to be Consistent: We (parents and children) are not perfect. We make mistakes. However, if we seek to be consistent, then the positives will outweigh the negatives.

3. We are all Works-in-Progress: Remembering that we are all works-in-progress helps us process both our misdeeds and our children’s misdeeds in a way in which we won’t be as defensive or anxious.

4. Set High Expectations, but Scaffold along the Way: We all succeed when we set high expectations, but we also do well when we meet success along the way. Have realistic expectations and provide a roadmap to enable your kids to get where they need to go.

5. View Mistakes as Opportunities for Growth Instead of seeing a mistake as permanent or “fixed,” view it through a growth mindset. See mistakes as opportunities to learn and grow. Did you know that potato chips, the microwave oven, post-it notes, and chocolate cookies were all invented by mistake?

6. We All Get Nervous: Acknowledge the fear; let it inform you, but not overwhelm you. Make sure to breathe and take a step back. When we are yelling or nagging, often because we are worried, our children become turned off and they are no longer able to process our positive messages. In addition, we are no longer able to be the role models we want to be.

7. Remember the Big Picture: Sometimes as parents we want to intervene because we get nervous about what will happen if we don’t. Sometimes it is the right choice to intervene. But think of the 35-50 year plan: Where do you want your child to be in 35-50 years? We need to remember that our goal is to prepare our children to be successful when they are 35, 40, or 50, not just tomorrow. We need to ask ourselves whether the actions we are taking now are going to help get them there. We sometimes think we are thinking long-term (next week), but I mean really long-term (50 years).

8. Have Children Create Goals from a Place of “Want-to” Rather than “Have-to”: We know from research that a goal is more likely to be accomplished when the person finds value and meaning in the goal. However, when it is our goal and not our child’s goal, it becomes a “have-to.” Goals need to be our child’s, not just ours.

9. Cultivate Gratitude: It is easy to focus on the negative and what is not working with your child. Instead, focus and share with your child what you are grateful for. Focusing on gratitude improves relationships and forces us to see things in a more balanced perspective.

10. Create Balance What is difficult in lighthouse parenting is that it’s about living in the gray. If you think about hovering or snowplowing or even free-range parenting, there is no balance. Instead it is very lopsided. It is not so easy to do, but we know that balanced parenting leads to better outcomes.

I am going to end with a story from my own life. On Sept 18, 2015, my baby boy turned seventeen. I promised myself that as a gift to him and to myself, I would not nag him at all on this one day, his birthday (I also wouldn’t hover or snowplow). You would think this would be easy; that as a psychologist, I could control myself for just one day. I did pretty well from 9-2 (when he was in school). I only sent one text which was really not a nag, but a reminder. However, it got harder when he got home. I had in my head all these things I wanted him to accomplish, but all he seemed to want to accomplish was watching TV. I still did pretty well. However, after a whole day of him “not accomplishing anything” and no nagging by me, at around 9 pm, I lost it. It was like the flood gates opened and all my nagging came out at once.

Why did the snowplow come out and what can we all learn? I think for me the anxiety took over and I thought about the next month and not the 35-year plan. I also forget that we are both works-in-progress and that balance is important (on your birthday you can take a day off). I also think the goal of “accomplishing” especially on his birthday was a “have-to” instead of a “want-to” for him. But, the good news is that I think my bucket with my son was full enough to take the dip.

My goal going forward and my hope in writing this article is that by keeping these ideas in the forefront, I will continue to get better at my lighthouse parenting skills. Furthermore, I hope these ideas will inspire you to be mindful about your parenting style and to discover for yourself 1) what gets in your way; and, 2) how to develop the skills necessary to be “the beacon of light situated on a stable shoreline helping your children navigate their world.”
Please check out my website at for additional blogs, articles, and presentations and follow me at twitter at Caren [email protected]

Great News! If you missed my “Helping Decrease Stress and Worry In Our Children and Our Own Lives” that I gave at the Scarsdale library in May it is now available online on SPTV.

In last month’s blog, I spoke about happiness and challenged you to take the “happiness challenge.” One of the biggest obstacles to happiness is stress and worry. We all have some stress and worry in our lives. Some stress and worry can be helpful in our daily functioning.  However, when stress and worry overtakes us, we begin to spin and move to the dark side. In my practice and at my school, I often work with adults and children who are adversely affected by stress. In this month’s blog, I would like to share with you the top five strategies that have helped my patients combat stress and worry.

1. Give Worry/Anxiety a Name

It is essential to first recognize and name what one is experiencing. Many times when I work with children and adults they are being “tricked” by worry, allowing worry to dictate their lives. Step one, is to recognize when it is the “WORRY” talking to you. Once you recognize that it is worry trying to trick you, you are better able to accomplish Step two, which is “DON’T LISTEN TO IT!” As one of the kids I worked with said, “When I hear the worry bug trying to trick me, I try to flush him down the toilet.” If you look at a common thread that is shared in evidenced-based treatment for anxiety, they all give worry a name. By giving worry a name, the worry is externalized and separated from the person, making it easier to address.

2. Distinguishing Productive from Unproductive Worry

It is imperative to distinguish between engaging in productive as opposed to unproductive worry. You know that you are in “productive worry” when the problem is acute and solvable and you quickly move from the problem to problem solving. In contrast, you know that you are in “unproductive worry” when the problem is far away, unsolvable, and you are spinning. For example, I will share a time when I engaged in both. I found out a few days before my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah that the person I thought was responsible for showing my daughter’s montage could show the montage, but did not have equipment for the montage to be heard. So I quickly engaged in productive worry (since the problem was solvable and around the corner) and got the equipment needed (these types of problems seem to be able to be fixed by throwing money at them). However, I also engaged in some unproductive worry because even though I knew everything was taken care of, I still kept spinning about the what ifs (e.g., What if there is a problem with the equipment? What if the guy flakes in some other way?) But, then I labeled this worry as unproductive and disengaged from it.

3. Understanding the Difference between Possibility vs. Probability

When I work with individuals, I have them distinguish whether their concern is a “possibility” or a “probability.” Even young children seem to be able to understand this distinction. If the concern is a possibility then it should not be dwelled upon. In contrast, if a concern is a probability then the person should take heed. For example, let’s say I became worried that I would not finish this blog before my April deadline. I would conclude that this concern is a possibility as opposed to a probability.  I would determine this based on the evidence (e.g., I am 3/4s done with it and it is only April 7th; In the past, I have always finished before my deadline). I explain to my patients that if we were to live our lives based on possibility, we might as well live under a box, under a desk, or tucked away in a corner of our house, because anything is possible. Instead, I think, and my patients generally conclude, that it is better to choose to live one’s life based on probability for a fuller and more enjoyable life.

4. Meditation and the Power of the Breath

The more I engage as a therapist, the more I realize how important it is to have my patients embrace meditation. I often find that children and adults are often reluctant to meditate, finding it boring or hard to do. However, it is because meditation can be boring and hard to do that it is so crucial.  In today’s world where everyone is multi-tasking and splitting their attention in a billion directions, it is essential to learn how to be present. People who worry are often not present. Instead they are often worried and living in their “negative what ifs” about the future.  Meditation teaches people to stay present, accept their feelings, and be at peace. In addition, breathing is one of the few ways we have control over our nervous system. By breathing slowly, we indicate to our bodies that there is no emergency. As a result, our nervous system calms down, allowing us to make more thoughtful and mindful decisions.

5. Don’t Avoid, Instead Expose

When people worry, their natural tendency is to avoid: scared of swimming, you don’t go in the pool; scared of tall buildings, you don’t go to the top. However, what we know is that the act of avoidance reinforces in the brain that the feared object is scary. Your brain looks at the avoidance and concludes that for example, swimming is scary or that tall buildings are bad for you. The only real way to change is to EXPOSE oneself to the feared stimuli. But this should be done gradually. I am not a big believer in immediately exposing yourself to your biggest fear (the kids would stop talking to me and I would probably have few patients). We know that people have a working zone – an area where they are willing to face their fears. By staying in this working zone, people can successfully address their fear in stages, with success breeding success. Furthermore, the muscle memory of gradually approaching the feared situation as opposed to just talking about the fearful situation leads to lasting and meaningful change.

To recap, recognize if you are worried, engage in productive worry only, live your life based on probability, meditate, and don’t avoid, but rather face challenges head on!

I hope you find these strategies helpful. If you want to hear more about this topic, I will be giving a free workshop on this topic (Get Ready to Change… Make It About Yes! Helping Decrease Stress and Worry in Our Children and Our Own Lives) at the Scarsdale library on May 1st (12:00-1:15). Click on the link to register.

Please see my website ( for additional blogs, articles, and presentations and follow me at twitter at [email protected]

  • Subscribe

    Please fill out this form if you wish to be kept informed of Dr. Caren Baruch Feldman’s News.

  • Subscribe