Blended Families National Step Family Day Emily Bouchard

Gremlin Taming for Kids
- Jane Massengill -

Our "Ask the Experts" Interviewee from The Gremlin Taming Institute

For the past 25 years, thousands of fortunate adults have benefited enormously from the Gremlin-Taming Method originated by Rick Carson, author of the imaginative, insightful and entertaining book and CD, Taming Your Gremlin: A Surprisingly Simple Method for Getting Out of Your Own Way. Now Gremlin Taming is available for kids and their parents, courtesy of Jane Massengill, Director of the Gremlin Taming Institute and creator of Gremlin Taming for Kids.

Having experienced how powerful Gremlin Taming was for adults, Jane introduced the Gremlin concepts to her two young sons with surprisingly positive results. She has skillfully developed a series of groundbreaking in-school training programs for kids, K-12, and tele- seminars and presentations for parents, so kids and parents can learn the techniques together and encourage each other to make this a living process that brings control over self doubting chatter that often paralyzes us.

What is a Gremlin anyway, and why would kids need to learn about controlling them? Arenít kids a little young to be bothered by discouraging dialogues that sap their self-confidence and hold them back? To paraphrase Jane, a Gremlin is a negative, critical, inner voice that communicates with you and tries to control you when you face challenges, conflicts, and problems.

Itís a bullying voice that tells kids, Ē Donít try that, you canít do itĒ, ď You donít know your words so youíre going to screw up reading aloudĒ, or ď Of course, youíre going to fail the math test,Ē and any number of other sabotaging messages. They are self-fulfilling and put the child in control of the Gremlin who loves his self-defeating job. In a childís world, there are any number of areas where a Gremlin can take hold such as, struggling with reading, math anxiety, freezing up on standardized testing, lack of self-confidence in the classroom, and peer pressure and bullying, to name but a few.

How do kids tame their Gremlins? Jane has creatively tailored her in-school programs to appeal to various age groups, but the basic Taming Your Gremlin principles are the same for everyone. Instead of fighting the Gremlin and trying to get rid of it, which only makes it pop up somewhere else, Notice it, act independently of it by Playing with Options, and practice Being in Process which means constantly noticing your Gremlins and deciding how you want to act rather blindly obeying your Gremlin and doing what it is telling you.

The magic of Taming Your Gremlin is its strong component of continuous control that empowers kids to overcome inner doubt that can discourage and defeat them. And, in blended families where kids are transitioning and perhaps being raised with conflicting parenting styles, Gremlin Taming is a skill and a tool they own and can use for themselves whenever they feel challenged or discouraged. Itís a life long gift that can use repeatedly, with a sense of control, in every facet of life, with increasing competence and creativity. The more you do it, the better you become.

Jane works in a more concrete and visual way with younger kids, teaching them there is a difference between them and the monster in their mind. She uses belly breathing as a physical cue to become grounded and centered so they are aware and focused on what they are doing and not what the inner voice is telling them. Next, she encourages the kids to NOTICE their Gremlin by naming it, drawing it and yelling out what itís saying that makes them nervous or is holding them back from learning and success in school. Older kids prefer the adult version of Gremlin Taming because they can think more abstractly and understand the nuances of the sabotaging inner voice.

Jane shares story of a young boy who was struggling with anxiety about his baseball game. Every time he was up to pitch a nasty Gremlin would tell him he was going to fail and that defeated him. After noticing his badgering baseball Gremlin and naming him, the boy literally flicked him off his shoulder before he went up to the mound and was able to concentrate on his game. In other words, he was saying, ďI know youíre there, but I donít want you looking over my shoulder right now while Iím choosing to focus on my pitchingĒ.

Action Step

How will younger kids tame the gremlin inside them?
For kids, more concrete and visual approaches in gremlin taming is adviced, younger kids must NOTICE their Gremlin by naming, drawing or yelling while older kids can use the adult version of Gremlin Taming - Simply Notice, Play with Options, and Be in Process .


To become a skilled Gremlin Tamer, there is no substitute for reading Rick Carsonís insightful book, and for parents there is no more effective way to teach and encourage your child in Gremlin Taming than to listen to Janeís tele classes. However, a great alternative to learn more about the techniques and positive effects of Gremlin Taming for Kids is to join our conversation with Jane on our Ask the Expert segment on July 31.

Also,visit Gremlin Taming for Kids where you can draw your Gremlin, pick up some Gremlin Taming Tips and share stories about how you are taming your Gremlin.

A tried and true Gremlin-buster is having a Blended Family coaching session with one of our expert coaches. We can help you identify the Gremlin of the moment and help you tame it in an expedient, effective way.


Wishing you and your blended family all the best,

Emily Bouchard, founder,


Blended Families
Blended Families

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