Childhood messagesBaby brain

 This means creating healthy habits that will lead to healthy decisions. This begins with safe communications, healthy and consistent boundaries, with an understanding that consequences are given that it was their choice that created the consequence.
The three ingredients needed are awareness, action and maintenance. Self-awareness has to increase, which will lead to healthier actions and maintaining these actions will lead to healthy habits.

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Thomas Gagliano

Thomas Gagliano, SFYB, MSW Best-selling author of The Problem Was Me Life Mentor, Author & Speaker

Children are ego –centric- This is important to understand and will help you to allow your clients trust you.  

-Fragmentation- This is a person whose outsides and insides don’t match. Usually this comes from a childhood that wasn’t safe and the person becomes fragmented. They don’t trust any process that they can’t control. They wear a mask, only showing the world their outside. They never allow anyone to get in deep. They’re afraid if they did that you would run, they would never be accepted. When you get someone to expose themselves, getting them to be vulnerable then you can silence the intrusive inner voices that have imprisoned their life. Blow up the story that they are not loveable.

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Awareness-How do you get your clients to trust you with their feelings. Should they tell you their darkest secrets.  
  • Societies messages– on how a boy should act and how a girl should act.
  • Media’s messages-
  • Childhood messages will affect the persons intimacy, the carriers they choose. These messages will affect their parenting skills , even the roles they play.  How does the role you were set up to play affect the relationships you have with your
  1. PEOPLE PLEASER – saying yes to family members because it’s too painful to say no.  I help people pleasers learn why it’s so difficult for so many of us to say know and learn  the ways to silence the inner voice which is responsible for this.
  2. CARETAKER –   carrying the burden of the family on your shoulders because it’s too painful to let go. I help caretakers learn how to ask for help by ignoring the voice that makes them feel so guilty when doing so.
  3. PERFECTIONIST – In this type of role the person doesn’t allow themselves to make a mistake and if they do they identify themselves as a mistake. God forbid the family sees you stumble at times. I help them find ways to silence that inner critic and give themselves the compassion they deserve.
  4. DEFIANT – Those are the individuals that always have to be right with family members even if it pushes them away? I’m sure you have this type of personality in your family. I help them learn the ways to choose their battles relinquish the need to be right and choose closeness instead.
  1. INVISIBLE – Those are the individuals who lose their  voice and disappear in their relationships.  They lose their rights to share their feelings and withdraw. I help them gain their rights back as well as a way for them to bring their voice to the surface.

This is where we confuse the voices from our childhood with those in our lives today. For instance, your client  may be very sensitive to criticism because they were judged harshly in our childhood. When criticized it awakens old feelings and messages which will distort the way they hear you.  You are not only in a relationship with your client but you are also in a relationship with all your clients childhood messages as well. So what you say may not necessarily be what they here.

BECOME AWARE OF THE VERSION OF INTIMACY your client received in childhood.

For instance, I ask people what intimacy looked like for them when they were children. Were their parents warm and close with each other or was intimacy something to avoid? Were the caregivers supportive to each other or did the child view fighting in the relationship. If there was fighting in childhood your partner may either shut down when feeling conflicted or do the opposite and rage when they feel threatened.  This awareness will help each partner understand the other partner better.

When you viewed conflict or anger in your childhood, what feeling awakened in you. Did you feel terrified when those around you displayed anger, did you get used to anger as a way of communicating feelings, were you the one who tried to mediate the disagreements, did you fuel anger feeling self-righteousness, or did you look to escape angry situations.


1) CREATE A SAFE ENVIRONMENT FOR YOUR CHILDREN WHERE THEY CAN SHARE ALL THEIR FEELINGS – There is no place like home. Provide a safe environment for your children where they can cry on your shoulder or talk to you, even if they tell you something you don’t want to hear.  If a child doesn’t feel safe talking to his or her parents or loved ones regarding their feelings, fears, struggles or even their sexual orientation, he or she may begin to internalize those feelings in a negative way. Without airing their struggles shame will develop in the child that could create isolated and isolation can be dangerous. Many bullies detect this weakness and target their victims accordingly.  

Everyone, especially children, need someone to feel close too and we want this person to be someone that will be a positive influence in their life. If they don’t feel close to someone at home they may find the wrong person.  Children want to feel special and they especially want to feel important to their first hero’s, their parents. This only happens if the parents allow their children to express their feelings. The child should not express these feelings with anger directed at their caregivers.  If they do the caregiver need to tell the child I want to hear your feelings but I can’t if your angry. When you calm down I’d love to talk to you. It is okay to be angry but the child needs to understand that they can’t take their anger out on the other person whoever that is. These feelings can’t be expressed with anger and if this is the case the parent needs to tell the child when you’re less angry I would love to hear what you have to say. The child’s feelings and these discussions will mature as the child gets older. It is imperative for the parent to keep this door of communication open. This will help prevent them from acting out their pain, as in bullying, or acting in their pain, as in feeling that they deserve.


2)  Confer regularly with your Inner Child. When your children struggle, stop and think about what you wanted to hear from your father or mother at that age. Let that compassion shape what you say and how you say it. If the relationship with your children is a safe one they will tell you what they need. STORY

While he was pitching I noticed he wasn’t lifting his leg high enough, he wasn’t following through enough, and he certainly wasn’t keeping his shoulder in as well. The result was that he wasn’t throwing the ball over the plate. The other team took advantage of this as he walked many opposing players I the first inning. As the game concluded, the kids returned to the dugout and grabbed their baseball bags. As I walked over to my son I began thinking of things to say. I wanted to say something compassionate as well as helping him with his pitching dilemma. Should I ask him how he feels or should I tell him he can pitch to me at home and I will help him with his pitching delivery. What should I say and do? How should I word this? Well he gave me the answer to my question. As I approached him, in front of his teammates, he looked up at me and said dad I need a hug. That’s what I needed to do, that’s all I needed to do. He didn’t need a therapist or pitching coach, he needed a hug. Give him what I would have wanted from my dad at that time, a hug from someone I’m safe with.  I was wondering how many of the kids in the dugout that day would have liked their father to take the same action. Our children can teach us many things at times if we are ready to listen.

The bully mentality is created time and time again on the ball field and in schools. Coaches and parents push their children to the point where the child turns off on the activity because they feel defeated. Not defeated because they lose but defeated because they can’t live up to their parents expectations.   This is a very difficult problem to solve. The truth is when our children fail in sports or in schools we internalize this as though we failed as parents. The parents feeling of defectiveness comes to the surface and even worse this feeling is pronounced because other parents are witnessing this failure as well.  How could my child embarrass me like this. Many times it’s not about the child but rather the parent’s false pride that has been wounded. The problem is this false sense of self is transferred to the child causing terrible and long term consequences. Destructive entitlement occurs where  the parent gives themselves permission to blame the child for their own character defect.

In many cases coaches and sports create an environment which ignites adrenalin and aggressive behavior. Sports are defined by winners and losers. When a person feels defeat, combined with the adrenalin rush of the sporting event, it’s not easy to switch these feelings on and off and return to a normal state of emotion. Bullying others may be a way to vent frustration. To be fair to the coaches there goal is to win. Unfortunately they personally internalize as well which can also create unrealistic expectations of their players. Our society loves winners but can be cruel on those that lose.    


3) Be curious with your children. Be interested in your children’s lives, asking them how their doing and what’s new with them. Know who their friends are, what site they go on, what things they like to do. By being curious we give them the message they are important and your thinking of them. They may not appreciate this at an early age but will appreciate this later.

The computer is a wonderful tool but can be a curse to children if the children’s sites are not monitored. Many computer sites can lead to dangerous places. Places that can be too powerful for the child to handle. When there is this kind of potential danger the parent needs to take control of the situation but they can’t if there not aware of the problem either. This is why it is essential to be curious with your children whether they like it or not. The message is they matter to you but they may give you the message that they need privacy. Don’t allow their message to guide your actions


4) Monitor your Inner Critic. Once again, the most important relationship you have is the one you have with yourself. If we are not comfortable in our own skin it is going to be difficult to give our children what we don’t have inside.

Why because if you have an inner voice telling you all the things you’re doing wrong in life, chances are high you may give this Inner voice to your children. We need to take responsibility, as I did in my book, “The Problem Was Me”. We need to find out what was damaged in us so we can silence our own Inner Critic and become mindful of behaviors that could pass intrusive voices to our children. A healthy message would be one where we show our children we are willing to work on our shortcoming and if needed we have the courage to ask for help.  As your children journey through their life, teaching them the right ways to cope with their problems and the ability to reach out to healthy people for help is a wonderful message.

Choose battles

5) Choose your battles. We all want to guide our children and write a script for the ways we want them to turn out but there are times when we need to relinquish our need to be right in our conversations with our children, and instead choose closeness. Instead of telling them what they’re doing wrong, we can choose to be close by identifying with our children’s struggles and listening to their feelings. I’ve found the greatest way to get my children to listen to me is by listening to them first. Story of Tom when he graduated high school.

Personal story

When my son graduated high school everyone one kept asking him and telling him what he should do. Instead of traveling down this path of communication with him, I said it must be difficult for a person to graduate from high school and have to decide what they need to do the rest of their life. I said this must be a confusing and frightening time for you.  I could sense this form of communicating made him gravitate towards me. He said dad that’s exactly how I feel. After this conversation he included me on all his future decisions. I choose to be close to him instead of being right with him.

wrong way

6) Permit mistakes. Give your children the message that they can make mistakes in life. Let them know that mistakes are part of being human. Affirm that they can fail at times without becoming a failure.

Time for another story. One of my children had a bedwetting problem that caused him tremendous shame every time he had an accident. Once when dining out with my family, I had an experience that most men have. After a trip to the men’s room, I zipped up my fly but not before a few drops of urine dripped onto my pants. When I returned to the table, I quietly pointed out the spot to my son and said see even Dad has accidents. He thought this was great. He believed I urinated in my pants. You could read his mind as see the way this made him feel more human for his mistakes. The downside was that he proceeded to tell the world about my experience. I did not count on this but I did give him the message that it’s okay to make mistakes.

If we deny our children compassion when they stumble, we negate a part of their humanness.   If they lose compassion for themselves they will lose compassion for others as well. This is one of the chief characteristic of a bully.  Deep inside a bully has no compassion for themselves and therefore has no compassion for who they bully. They want to hurt others the way they were hurt.

Ask yourself whether you could make a mistake in your childhood.  Were mistakes an opportunity to learn or were the consequences for making a mistake so intense that you identified yourself as a mistake. Maybe you were on the other end of the spectrum where there were no consequences when you made a mistake, which makes the opportunity to learn from your mistakes impossible.

It is very important to say at this point that our children need healthy consequences as well. But consequences need to be given with the message of love not a message that the child is a bad kid. It is best to pause and deliver the healthiest consequence not the quickest ones. The goal of consequences is to help the child understand it was the choice they made that created the consequence. Healthy consequences should build healthy habits so the habits become part of the child’s thinking.  I give my children consequences when they do something they shouldn’t and if they disrespect me I increase the consequence. Later I reinvestigate the conversation with them when they’ve calmed down and I explain that my actions were based on love as my responsibility as a parent is to get them ready to face life on life’s terms someday.



7) Celebrate your child’s victories . Celebrate those times in their life when they do something that really makes them feel proud. When they work hard at something, regardless of the grade, take them for an ice-cream, Don’t immediately run to the next dilemma – take time to enjoy with your family what’s been accomplished first. We live in a period of time where we are always running to the next dilemma. We need to internally feel those successes and we need to teach our children how to celebrate there’s. These celebrations are directed at internal accomplishments not at external accomplishments. For example, when every child receives a trophy in a game, this is an external accomplishment. This is not going to have any positive affect on them; in fact this could create more damage than good. For instance, when  little league gives trophies to every team so that no one feels left out, this action teaches children that mediocre behavior is to be rewarded. This will reduce their drive to better themselves. Also we can’t always win so giving a trophy to everyone create non-reality, we need to handle losing at times. This will not build the child’s character.

An internal accomplishment is when the child does something that makes them feel special. For example, my son was in the third grade and before one of his tests he thought of writing the questions on an index card and studying the questions in this manner. He was so excited about this process he learned. He did very well on the test and he was so proud that he used this new way of studying for a test. This simple example is the way children build integrity and self-worth. We made sure we celebrated this accomplishment with him. Remember victories to us may be different than victories to our children. Celebrate what they think is a victory not just what you think a victory is.  

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Thomas Gagliano
Tom holds a Master’s degree in social work, bachelor’s degree in business, and a C-MAT certificate. As a young man, Tom became a successful entrepreneur with a proven track record in small business ventures in the greater New York area. About 20 years ago, Tom started to spend less time in the business world and more time helping those who suffered, as he did, from negative childhood messages. “I believe that experience and expertise go hand in hand”.

He is a regular on many radio networks and on the TBN television network, and has appeared on other networks as well and the best selling author of “The Problem Was Me”, with Dr. Abraham Twerski, and “Don’t Put Your Crap in Your Kid’s Diaper”, the clean up cost can last a lifetime. My expertise is teaching a methodology which has helped many individuals, couples and parents build healthier relationships with themselves and each other.”

My experience, overcoming my own issues, revealed the process for self- improvement. These issues began in childhood when I turned to bullying as an outlet; and as an adult, towards addiction. I sabotaged the intimate relationships in my life. I then realized I had to fix the damage within me in order to fix the damage I caused in my relationships.

He is a regular on many radio networks and on the TBN television network, and has appeared on other networks as well and the best selling author of “The Problem Was Me”, with Dr. Abraham Twerski, and “Don’t Put Your Crap in Your Kid’s Diaper”, the clean up cost can last a lifetime.
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