Thursday, July 24, 2008

My speaking engagement

Recently I was asked to do a class for a group of singles. Of course, what they really wanted was to find out about themselves through their writing. This group was an older group with some widows and widowers and really balanced people. One had a learning disability which she shared with the group and when I mentioned having done the writing, on a cruise, of a man with essential tremors another lady said she suffered from them as well.
One of the men told us before his wife would date him she insisted on getting his handwriting. He laughed and said he must have passed because they had many happy years together before she died.
Only one person had a totally illegible signature and wanted to know what that indicated. I told her it could be that she signed a lot of papers so just didn't take the time to make it legible. But it can also mean not wanting to take responsibility for the work. The bad part about an illegible signature is that in a business it becomes recognized and everyone knows who it is anyway.
Luckily there was enough variety in this group to cover a lot of information. We did everything from thinking styles to the air strokes that lightly show on the paper. One person said she did the capital I Roman style and sometimes the air stroke squiggled across the I stem. I told her this is considered one (but more have to be present) sign of suicide. But that I have found it most often means at the time of the writing the writer was setting aside his or her desires for those of another. She agreed that was quite possible as she has many demands upon her time.
Since it was originally booked as a class I had done hand-outs on graphology that represented a crash course so I hope they are intrigued enough to ask me back again. One thing for sure a 1 and a 1/2 hr talk ended up being over 2 hrs with all the questions so I think they had a good time.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Impulse Control

Yesterday I watched some daytime TV and it all seemed to be on the violence of today's teens. I've heard all the arguments pro and con on the violence in the video games and if it has an effect on today's society and how anyone can say no is beyond me. I've heard that video games allow people to vent their frustrations in ways that don't harm anyone but does it? One group of boys said that actually doing what they had been doing on the games was so much more thrilling and an adrenalin rush can be as addicting as any drug. When the rush is obtained by skateboarding, bunge jumping, snowboarding or another sport that is ok but not when it involves damaging property or hurting another human being. Two girls were featured because of a fight at school each claiming the other started it. The mother of one was in the audience and very angry while the other didn't even show up because of her anger. The psychologist on the show talked to the girls and it turned out while they were mad at each other at the time of the incident it only escalated because the "friends" of one girl shoved her so she appeared to be attacking the other. The students wanted to see a fight.
Impulse control starts with good parenting and having consequences for our actions. Then there were the subliminal messages of handwriting along with the not so subliminal messages of Sunday School and church. We were taught to follow the 10 Commandments and the Golden Rule and say the Pledge of Allegiance in school. Now because it includes "under God" I'm not even sure they say it in school.
As for consequences in school it seems now the only consequence is suspension and it is used freely where I live. What ever happened to being sent to the principal and then facing the wrath of your parents when you got home? We were more afraid of them than the principal who gave us study hall detention where you did extra homework. At home it meant anything from loss of allowance to forced labor around the house or yard. Now kids don't even have chores in some homes or parents who care in others. As for school because they get paid per student in class if you miss roll-call you are in more trouble than if you ditch so guess what students choose. One boy I know quit school in 7th grade because he was in detention more than class and in their detention unlike study hall you were allowed no pencil, papers or books. You just spent the time learning what jail was like...boring. Now he is too old to go to a charter school and works in fast food barely making enough to live. He's been programmed by our school system to fail and is doing a good job of it.
I worked for a short time in a video store and was appalled at the games and videos parents allowed their children to check out. The same with movies. I have been to movies where the violence and sex let alone the language was so prevalent and seen children as young as 2 or 3. The parents if asked say they don't understand what's going on. Yeah, that's why they curse like sailors by the time they go to school. Even my 3 yr old great-grand-daughter the other day said "god, damn it" the other day when she dropped something. Her mother's favorite choice of word.
At her age they may not understand what they say but they know when to curse. As for the older one her father went for counseling when he realized her temper tantrums were a reflection of his actions. Children do what they see good or bad. Children need discipline and boundaries in their life and the hard part is not going too far or just as bad not going far enough.
I'm hoping until the school gets hold of my grand children to teach them to control those impulses that will get them into trouble and use the ones that make them happy, caring individuals who want to make a place for themselves in the world.

This again is where toxic words can come into play. Since I take care of my great-grand-daughters at least 4 days a week I am trying to not say don't but to use stop. Then rather than saying you can't do that. To say you will get hurt or you will hurt someone else by doing that. One grand-daughter pinches and the other one bites so these habits must be broken before school though I strongly suspect the one who pinches learned that in pre-school. Both girls go through periods when they want to be babied again because they have a new baby sister who seems to get all of the attention. When this happens I try to give them a kiss and a hug or a rock in the big chair. They are even satisfied if I bring the baby out so I can watch them on the swing or in the wading pool. At my age I an even happy to lay down with them and watch cartoons and they are willing to share me this way.
Both girls know their alphabet and the oldest can write hers. I was surprised at how well the younger one can follow the letters on a practice page. Though I don't know why because as a second child she has always thought she could do whatever big sister did and believing it does.


Back when our country was started and few people went to school for more than a few years it was important to learn to write. Gradually types of handwriting developed that actually could tell you what the writer's profession was,secretary, butcher, etc. I've no idea when penmanship started in school but well remember working to perfect those push and pulls and the running tunnel of circles. Then the letters of the alphabet themselves some loope and some retraced.
Actually like the letters themselves these exercises taught us restraint and control. It was much easier then to get the idea of writing when the desk was slightly angled. As long as you grasped the concept of left and right it followed that the front edge of the desk was the top. Now with flat desks and teachers who are likely to point to examples of the alphabet around the room and say your letters should look like these it can be hard for a child to learn to write. So many get little or no help at home from parents too busy or too tired to care.
If properly held the pen or pencil will not cause the hand or arm to become tired or cramped after just a few lines. And some exercises can not only be fun but help the child to learn better. Danielle DuMount in France teaches children with rhythm and fun and they quickly learn they can write after all. She has them hold a ribbon and make patterns such as a running line of small loops, next a running line of tall loops. Then make a short and a tall loop across. Next try this on a chalkboard or paper. Suddenly there is a line of letters which in French is le and a word. A set of short waves, a set of tall waves (or cups), a set of short and tall and suddenly another word, it.
Also this sort of exercise can be a big help in other ways. A series of e's and l's, becausethey are soft and rounded, is relaxing and calming while a series of connected w's (especially the pointed ones tho both work) sharpens the focus of the mind. Never overdo these exercises one line is enough and too much has the opposite effect.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Personality and handwriting

When does your personality develop? Believe it or not before we learn to talk. A baby makes demands according to their needs. How those needs are met, or not, start to set the personality. When a child's needs are met promptly and they are talked to in a pleasant manner the child will be more genial than one whose needs are not met. Or one who is badly treated by the parents or caregivers.

So by the time children start school they pretty much are on their way to their full personality. It is just reinforced or exacerbated by teachers and the other adults and children they meet.

One reason for sibling rivalry is because the younger children get compared to the older ones. Also the older ones suddenly are not only not the center of attention but anything they have outgrown, clothes and toys, go to the new arrival. So it is important the parents make them feel part of taking care of the baby. To make the child understand they are not replaced and that they don't really need or use the old stuff anyway. So why not give it to the baby. With a choice of something new in place of something they no longer need most children learn to be generous and giving.

Then there are the toxic words I have already discussed. We use them on ourselves, unknowingly to our detriment as well. But think how much worse they are to a child who thinks a parent raises the moon and stars. They can become angry, or fearful, rebellious toward authority and we are at fault aided by others such as teachers or relatives. Even strangers who do not like children and always find fault with them.

The driving force behind our personality is our fears. How we cope with those fears through defense mechanism's, resistances and escapes completes the rest of the personality. The myriad of fears, defenses, resistances and escapes are why we are as individual in personality as we are in our fingerprints.