Tag Archive for emotions

Benefits of the “After-School Meltdown”

Does your preschool or elementary school age child “throw a tantrum” every day after school?  You find this tantrum even more frustrating because their teacher tells you how well they behave in school and then when you get them home…it’s another story. You are experiencing the “after-school meltdown.” As frustrating as they are, it is not unusual for our children to have after-school meltdowns. The first step in helping end the after-school meltdown is to take the time to understand what is happening. In reality, you already know what’s happening. You’ve had the same experience. You finish a long day of work and, feeling tired, you walk in the front door of your home. You are irritable and just want a little down time, but you’re immediately bombarded with questions about your day, explanations of what happened while you were away, requests to do this or that…. How do you feel? Want to throw a tantrum? You understand those feelings. Your children are experiencing the same thing. They have put in a full day of work. They had to follow the rules whether they liked them or not. They were forced to listen, focus, and complete work that challenges them. They may have experienced conflict with peers, witnessed other children doing things that caused them stress, or felt the pain of not doing as well as they wanted on an assignment. It is tiring. It’s stressful. They come home tired and irritable. But (here is where you are different) they do not understand those feelings. They do not know how to express those feelings yet. So, the first thing to do when your children experience the after-school meltdown is to remember. Remember they are communicating the same feelings of exhaustion and stress that you have often felt after a day of work.

Not only do you understand those feelings (you’ve “been there & done that”), you also know how to respond to them. You have learned how to soothe yourself and relax, to recover from stress. You know places you can go to relax and “re-create” your sense of calm. Your children have not learned how to do this yet. They need you to teach them…and you do.  First, they learn by watching you take care of ourselves. Second, they learn when you teach them directly. You can teach them about activities that might help them relax and soothe, activities like reading a book, painting or drawing, listening to music, or taking a walk.  You can help them identify places where they feel especially calm and relaxed, places like the backyard, their bedroom, the kitchen as they help cook dinner and talk, a “fort” in the back yard or the family room. I remember how much the walk home from school helped me relax from the day during middle school. Teach your children the skills. Help them practice the skills to “pull themselves together” and recoup after a stressful day.

As you teach them how to soothe themselves, you teach them a lifetime skill. You give them a gift they can use throughout their educational career and even in their work lives, family lives, and parenting lives. And, it all begins with the acceptance of the “after school meltdown.”

Tears? Who Would Have Thought?

I learned in the study of human developmental that men often become more willing to express emotions as they age. I guess this has happened to me…or, is happening as I move through my fifties.  Actually, I would not say I have developed a greater willingness to express emotions but I have developed a more difficult time holding emotions back, especially tears.  I find tears arising more and more often, not the tears of sorrow but the tears of overwhelming emotion.

  • The tears of seeing the magnificence of the mountains stretching out across the horizon along with the tears of gratitude that I have the opportunity to witness such majesty and beauty.
  • The tears of witnessing kindness shared between people who differ in so many ways, a glimpse of grace in this segregated world.
  • The tears of sorrow when a loved one passes combined with the tears of celebrating their life and the contribution of their life to the world in which I live.
  • The tears of intimacy that arise when sharing laughter with family.
  • The tears of sorrow as my children “leave the nest” combined with the tears of excited anticipation for what they will experience and accomplish.
  • The tears of longing as I pray both daughters find like-minded people with whom they can share their life’s dreams.
  • The tears of pure joy as I watch my children do what brings them joy and see the positive impact they have on their friends and the world around them.
  • The tears of gratitude and appreciation as I watch my daughter and her fiance admire one another, dreaming and loving together.

Like I said, tears just seem to surface more easily. Who would have thought that tears represent so much more than mere sorrow or pain?  They represent love, beauty, anticipation, inspiration, and even overwhelming joy and laughter. Of course, I still hold them back. I make attempts to hide them. I’m not sure why. After all, tears seem to water the seeds of emotions that produce the fruit of intimate relationships.  So, if you happen to see a tear roll down my cheek, don’t worry. It only means I care enough about you to share that tear with you. In the meantime, don’t tell anyone; it will ruin my reputation.

Become Your Child’s Friendship Coach

Social skills are foundational to the human experience. They bring us into relationship with others. They give us the opportunity to experience community as well as the joy of intimacy. They enable us to communicate our needs and clarify our desires. They empower us to work together and accomplish greater things. They help us develop friendships. In other words, social skills serve as a foundation to our relationships, our values, and our growth. Let that foundation weaken and the whole house starts to crumble. I mean, the whole house starts to crumble. In fact, poor social skills contribute to poorer mental and physical health (the whole house). One researcher actually notes that poor social skills increase loneliness and chronic loneliness is “as serious of a risk [factor] as smoking, obesity, or eating a high-fat diet with lack of exercise (Read Poor Social Skills May be Harmful to Your Health for more). In brief, our children fair better physically and mentally when they have good social skills. Fortunately, social skills are learned over time and that learning begins in the family. Parents are their children’s first and most significant social skills coach, their friendship coach. How can a parent become a great friendship coach to their children? Here are 6 tips to help you get started.

  1. Enjoy time with your children. One of the best ways to coach social skills is by modeling and practicing them yourself. Interact with your children and practice good social skills in the process. Treat them politely. Show them how friends treat one another. Share. Laugh. Play. Set boundaries. Express emotions. Negotiate disagreements. There is no better coach than one who can play the game well and engages his trainees in the process. Enjoy time with your children. (I love the time of Enjoying Your Child–Priceless!)
  2. Talk about thoughts and feelings with your children. When you watch a movie, talk about the subtext of thoughts and feelings that motivate a character’s actions. When a friend interacts with your children in a way they don’t understand, talk about the subtext of thoughts or feelings that may contribute to that interaction. Explain how your own thoughts and feelings contribute to your actions. Label feelings you and your children experience. The broader a child’s emotional vocabulary, the more understanding they become…the better friend they become. (More tips @ Teaching Your Child to Handle Emotions)
  3. Allow for individual style. Not everyone is an extravert. Not everyone jumps into social settings. Some people are more introverted. Some slowly warm up to activities and interactions. Allow for those differences in style. Let the introvert enjoy interacting with small groups and the extrovert enjoy the loud social settings. Allow time for your children to slowly warm up to an activity if that is what they need. Allow your children to move quickly into an activity if they are comfortable doing so. Allow for those individual styles and don’t force your children into a style that does not fit their personality. (Read Honoring Variety)
  4. Create opportunities for social interactions. When your children are young you do this by scheduling play dates. As your children get older, they can become involved in various groups like scouting, church youth groups, choirs, musical groups, sports’ teams, or volunteer groups. You might also consider family games nights with various board games that encourage social interactions. Invite other families over for game night. Play a few games together then let the children go off to play together while the adults chat for a time.
  5. Turn off the technology and “go face-to-face.” Technology has a way of limiting social skills. Twitter does not allow children to learn the art of reading facial cues or hearing voice tones. Facebook does not let us see the ups & downs of life since people tend to post the happy days. “Face-to-face” interactions, on the other hand, teach us to understand facial expressions and interpret voice cues. They help us learn how and when to ask for clarifications that can deepen our understanding of one another. With this in mind, limit technology. Encourage face-to-face interactions. (More @ Welcome to the Dead Zone for more)
  6. Give your children space. It may sound contradictory to give our children space, but they need time to practice the skills they are learning without our intervention. They need the opportunities to resolve conflicts, negotiate difference, and enjoy age expected interactions with peers. After all, practice makes perfect. So, take a breath, step back, and let them go. Give them space to practice on their own. (Good Parents Do Nothing!! tells more)

Well “Coach,” follow these tips and you are well on your way to “Coach of the Year.” And your children will develop the social skills necessary to navigate their world independently and successfully!

Family Happiness in 1938 AND Today

The year: 1938. The question posed by the Bolton Evening News: “What does happiness mean to you and yours?” Bolton is a town in northwest England. Bolton “reached it’s zenith in 1929” with over 200 cotton mills and textile industries. Recently, researchers from the University of Bolton recovered and analyzed the answers given by the original 226 respondents. Three themes emerged in the analysis of the respondents’ answers.

  1. “Contentment” and “peace of mind” contributed to happiness. In other words, being satisfied with what one has rather than constantly seeking more contributes to happiness. Having a healthy family filled with emotional connection and acts of honor increases a sense of contentment, even when we don’t have the most expensive shoes or the newest gadgets.
  2. “Family” and “home” were important to happiness. A happy marriage, healthy children, loving family contribute to happiness. A home is a celebrating community of honor and grace. As we shape our homes around honoring one another and sharing grace to one another we find greater contentment and more happiness. That is a reason to celebrate!
  3. Helping “other people” contributed to happiness. Actively seeking ways to help other people brings happiness. It turns our focus outward and opens our lives to relationship. Helping others as a family strengthens our family. And family, as noted in #2, contributes to happiness. (Read more in Lessons from the Past on How to be Happy.)

These three themes can still help to build happiness in your family today. Read these blogs to discover ways of building each of the characteristics into your  family.

  1. For ideas on filling your family with “contentment” and “peace of mind” read
    1. The Secret to Family Peace
    2. Recognizing the Benefit of Emotions in Parenting
    3. Beatitudes for a Happy Marriage
  2. To improve your “family” and “home” conenctions
    1. Why Family Honor
    2. Become the Catalyst for an Honorable Family
  3. Help “other people”
    1. The Paradox of Happy Families
    2. Give It Away for Family Fun

You can find many more blogs to build these characteristics into your home and family. Just explore the many blogs on this site, put them into practice, and…find family happiness.

The Wings on Which Your Children Soar

Did you know intelligence (IQ) only predicts about 20% of a person’s success? It’s true. Brains alone do not equal success. On the other hand, 80% of what predicts a person’s success involves social and emotional intelligence (More in Why Emotional Intelligence is More Important than IQ). To prepare our children for success in relationships and life, we need to strengthen their emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence includes five components (Daniel Goleman’s 5 Components of Emotional Intelligence).

  1. Self-awareness: the ability to recognize and label the emotions we experience in our lives.
  2. Self-regulation: the ability to cope with feelings in a manner consistent with and relevant to the situation.
  3. Internal motivation: the ability to utilize the energy of an emotion to achieve a positive end like communicating a priority or solving a problem.
  4. Empathy: the ability to recognize emotions in others by remaining aware of their verbal and nonverbal cues.
  5. Social skills: the ability to adjust our behavior in response to another person’s emotions. This allows us to more effectively connect with others, resolve conflicts that arise within our relationships, and negotiate compromises and agreements.

Reviewing the five aspects of emotional intelligence, you can understand how important emotional intelligence is for success in life. Emotional intelligence not only contributes to success in life, it also promotes health. Studies suggest that 80% of health problems are stress related. Emotional intelligence helps us manage stress and so reduce stress related illnesses. Emotional intelligence reduces bullying as well (Why Emotional Intelligence is More Important than IQ). With all these benefit, we surely want to teach our children emotional intelligence. Here are five simple exercises to get you started.

  • Develop a vocabulary for emotions. Dan Siegel (co-author of Parenting from the Inside) refers to this as “name it to name it.” Labeling an emotion helps “quell” its effect. The emotion becomes more manageable when we can label it. As a result, we can exercise more thoughtful control over it and our behavioral response to it (Why Labeling Emotions Matters ). In fact, the broader and more articulate a person’s emotional vocabulary, the less reactive and more responsive they can become (When Labeling an Emotion Quiets It) .
  • Listen and accept emotions. All emotions are acceptable, a gift from our Creator to help us communicate priorities and protect those important to us. Of course, not all behavioral responses are acceptable. So let a person express their emotion. Help them label the emotion. Encourage them to define their feelings. Coach them in expressing even difficult emotions. Listen. Accept. Understand. (For more read Teaching Your Child to Handle Emotions)
  • Identify the priorities underlying the emotions. Emotions clarify our priorities and reveal them to others. Take time to identify the priorities that have led to your child’s strong emotions. Knowing the priority behind an emotion allows you to address the true need. Teaching your child to identify and address underlying emotion leads to a more successful and self-controlled child.
  • Problem-solve. After you have listened closely and understand the emotion, work with your child to problem-solve. Let the problem-solving focus on how to address the priority underlying the emotion. (For more on these two steps read When Your Children Get Angry.)
  • Teach perspective taking. A great way to teach your children how to take another person’s perspective is by reading fiction together. Fiction lets us see into the minds of characters, feel their emotions, and understand their motivations. Doing so teaches perspective taking. So, read to your children. Read with your children. Talk about what your children read. It will improve their ability to take another person’s perspective and increase their emotional intelligence. (Read Teaching Your Child Perspective Taking for more ideas.)

These five simple activities can set your child on the path to emotional intelligence…and all its related benefits!

Build Muscles that Matter in Your Children

Our children need to have strong muscles to survive in this world. No, I’m not talking about biceps and pecs. I’m talking about the really important muscles, not the ones that will help them do chin-ups. These important muscles do more than look good and help them carry heavy grocery bags. These muscles help maintain an emotionally and relationally healthy

life. What muscles could do that? The muscles of resilience, emotional intelligence, and optimism. Like all muscles, resilience, emotional intelligence, and optimism can be trained and strengthened. Let me briefly describe each one.

  • Resilience is the muscle that gives them the strength to bounce back after a difficulty. Children who develop resilience exhibit better health over time. They report greater happiness and have more success. It only makes sense, doesn’t it? When resilient people encounter a setback, they bounce back. They get back in the saddle and try again. In other words, resilience is a muscle that stabilizes persistence and promotes consistency. (Read Happy Families Bounce Back for tips on practicing resilience as a family.)
  • Emotional intelligence is the muscle that helps children manage their own emotions and get along with others. Interestingly, emotional intelligence has been shown to have a greater impact on success than academic achievement. Emotional intelligence means children can manage their emotions, remain calm, and resolve conflict. It means they can better read the emotions of those around them and adjust their own behavior accordingly. It underlies the ability to influence people, build cooperation, and promote harmony. You can see why emotional intelligence seems to be a crucial muscle for successful managers, team players, CEO’s, and supervisors. Our children need this muscle to be tone and fit, relationally happy and successful. (Read When Your Children Get Angry for a process that can help you train your children’s muscle of emotionally intelligent.)
  • Optimism is not about wearing rose-colored glasses. Optimism is the muscle that focuses on “what I can do” rather than “what I cannot do.” It focuses on the importance of effort to grow and learn. It also realizes most difficulties are specific to a context and situation rather than “ruining everything.” Difficulties are temporary, not permanent. With this in mind, an optimistic person looks at a difficult situation or a failure and begins to explore what aspects of the situation they can influence. Then, they set about to exert their influence and produce a change. You can see why this muscle helps to prevent depression, increases perseverance, and promotes success. (Read Growing Your Child’s Mind for Success and Build Your Child’s Success Mindset for some ideas on strengthening this muscle.)

Like I said earlier, our children can train and strengthen these three muscles under the guidance of a great coach (that would be you, their parent!). These three muscles matter more in our children’s lives than bulging biceps and six-pack abs. They will do more than look good under their t-shirt. They will help them develop emotionally and relationally healthy lives. As parents, we can help them develop each one. We can help them build them into a strong, balanced lifestyle. Read the links in this blog for some ideas on building these muscles; then, read our blogs over the next couple weeks to learn more way you can help your children build strong muscles or resilience, emotional intelligence, and optimism!

Help, My Child is Always Angry!!

All children get angry.  It’s a part of life. In fact, anger can be good. For instance, our children’s anger can help us identify what they find important. After all, a person rarely gets angry about something they don’t care about. Anger also gives us the energy to address that priority. The trick is to not let the anger overwhelm us but to learn how to use the energy of our anger to address the priority in a positive and productive manner. With that in mind, we can address our children’s anger by exploring what priority lies underneath their anger. Here are a few to look for:

  • Feeling unheard. Children get angry when they feel “no one listens to me.” We may inadvertently contribute to this feeling if we have not learned to be observant of our children. For instance, if we do not observe the subtle cues of boredom, tiredness, hunger, or nervousness our children may escalate to anger. We did not “hear” their subtle behaviors telling us they needed a break so they broke out in anger to be heard. Learn to listen well. Listen to their words but also to their body language and actions. Listen with your ears and your eyes.
  • Being emotionally hurt. Hurt often lies underneath our children’s angry outbursts. Remember our children do not think like adults so what you may think of as a minor infraction might be perceived as a major betrayal in their eyes. For instance, I told my daughter we could get ice cream one night; but then I got called in to work for an emergency. She felt as though I had broken a promise, betrayed a trust. She was hurt. We needed to repair our relationship. Broken promises, teasing names, strained friendships, a teacher’s comment, and similar experiences can lead to hurt…which can be expressed in anger. Observe your children’s anger carefully to discover if there is a hurt underneath that anger.
  • Fear. Children often respond to fear with anger. Fear might arise in response to the unknown or the unpredictable. Perhaps you have experienced your children’s anger on the first day of school, as they prepare for the new and “unknown” of a new school and new teachers. Or, you may have noticed the increase in your children’s anger when routines get changed and life becomes unpredictable. Our children thrive in structure. They excel when they have a predictable routine letting them know what comes next. If that routine gets changed, be sure to keep your children informed. Doing so can cut back on angry outbursts. (For more on the benefits of routines, read The Discipline Tool You Can’t Live Without.)
  • Attention. Everyone likes to be noticed. Children especially need to know their parents notice them and delight in them. Sometimes, however, parents give their children all kinds of energetic attention when they misbehave and very little attention when they are behaving. We think, “Don’t upset the apple cart” when they behave and avoid interrupting as a result…which they interpret as receiving no attention. When they misbehave, we jump on the misbehavior to nip it in the bud. Unfortunately, we have given attention to the angry misbehavior and ignored the positive behavior. We have reinforced the angry misbehavior with attention and taught them the best way to get attention is with angry misbehavior. Once again, we must remain observant of our children. Verbally acknowledge their positive behaviors and address negative behavior in a calm, neutral voice. (Read Catch the Little Rascals Red-Handed for more on the impact of attention in discipline.)

I’m sure there are more reasons lying beneath our children’s anger; but these four give us a start. You can learn the specifics of what lies under your children’s anger through careful observation and loving interaction. As you observe your children, tell us what you find…it might help all of us deal better with our children’s anger!

Give Your Children the Gift of Confidence

She walked onto the stage with such poise. She calmly explained her song in a very articulate manner. Then, she performed the song beautifully. I sat among those in the crowed and listened. The performance was beautiful. Even more amazing to me was the confidence with which this 16-year-old girl presented herself. She appeared comfortable exposing herself to a crowd of potential critics. The whole experience made me think: How did this young girl learn such confidence? How can parents help their children gain confidence? How can we give our children the gift of confidence? As I pondered these questions, I thought of 6 ideas to help. I’m sure there are more, but here are six to start.

  • Give your children tasks that match their developmental ability. Do not expect your children to do more than they are developmentally ready to do. A 2-year-old will not act like an 8-year-old or an 8-year-old like a 16-year-old. Each child can only be themselves…and only act as mature as their developmental level allows. To give your children tasks that match their developmental level requires your careful observation so you can know where they “stand” developmentally. Then, give them tasks that match their developmental ability.
  • Challenge your children. This may sound contradictory to the first bullet, but it is not. Parents can give their children tasks that challenge them and fall within their developmental ability. On the other hand, expecting too little from your children sends an implicit message that they lack competence. Doing the task for them communicates a belief that they lack the ability to complete the task on their own. So, give your children tasks that present a challenge and offer guidance. Teach them what they do not know while letting them do what they can. This often means taking a somewhat “hands-off approach” while offering guidance and encouragement, in other words, doing a minimal intervention while acknowledging their progress. (For more read Good Parents Do Nothing!)
  • Allow mistakes. Mistakes help us learn. Taking time to acknowledge a mistake, explore what went wrong, and plan how to do it differently next time turns a mistake into a fantastic learning experience. Each mistake treated in this manner will help your children grow and add to their confidence. (For more read Do Your Child a Favor: LOVE Mistakes.)
  • Celebrate effort, not just achievement. Sure, achievement is great and needs to be recognized; but effort leads to achievement. When parents celebrate effort, their children choose more challenging tasks, persevere more in the face of obstacles, and ultimately, achieve more. Confidence grows. Celebrate effort! (For more read Build Your Child’s Success Mindset.)
  • Accept feelings. Minimizing, punishing, or ignoring feelings makes children feel as though they are unimportant. It communicates that “something is wrong with them” because they have unimportant or even bad feelings. Avoid responding to emotions with statements like “You’re OK” (negates the emotion and their experience), “You have nothing to be made about” (minimizes their feelings), or “I’ll give you something to cry about” (punishes them for feeling). Simply accept your children’s feelings. Help them label their feelings and teach them how to manage them as well. (For more on responding to emotions, read 6 Tips to Make Your Children’s Emotions Your Friend.)
  • Nurture dreams. Sure, some dreams are unlikely. So what? Your children’s dreams may change as they mature. In the meantime, your children’s dreams motivate their behavior and push them to achieve. As you nurture your children’s dreams, you communicate how much you value them and their dreams, believe in them and their capabilities. Nurture their dreams. (Read Grow Your Children’s Dreams for more.)

There they are—6 ways to give the gift of confidence to your children. What other ways do you suggest?

Parenting Advice from Ann Landers

I ran across this short letter from Ann Landers on parenting. I decided to just copy it in its entirety. A lot of wisdom for parents in these “12 Golden Rules!”

Dear Ann Landers: Several years ago, you printed Twelve Rules for Raising Children. I carried the column in my wallet until it became so dog-eared and yellowed with age that it is no longer legible. Please print it again, Ann. It’s worth a repeat. – San Antonio Mother

Dear Mother: Here it is. Thanks for asking.

  1. Remember that a child is a gift from God, the richest of all blessings. Do not attempt to mold him in the image of yourself, your father, your brother or your neighbor. Each child is an individual and should be permitted to be himself.
  2. Don’t crush a child’s spirit when he fails. And never compare him with others who have outshone him.
  3. Remember that anger and hostility are natural emotions. Help your child to find socially acceptable outlets for these normal feelings or they may be turned inward and erupt in the form of physical or mental illness.
  4. Discipline your child with firmness and reason. Don’t let your anger throw you off balance. If he knows you are fair, you will not lose his respect or his love. And make sure the punishment fits the crime. Even the youngest child has a keen sense of justice.
  5. Remember that each child needs two parents. Present a united front. Never join with your child against your mate. This can create in your child (as well as in yourself) emotional conflicts. It can also create feelings of guilt, confusion and insecurity.
  6. Do not hand your child everything his little heart desires. Permit him to know the thrill of earning and the joy of achieving. Grant him the greatest of all satisfactions, the pleasure that comes with personal accomplishment.
  7. Do not set yourself up as the epitome of perfection. This is a difficult role to play 24 hours a day. You will find it easier to communicate with your child if you let him know that Mom and Dad can err too.
  8. Don’t make threats in anger or impossible promises when you are in a generous mood. Threaten or promise only that which you can live up to. To a child, a parent’s word means everything. The child who has lost faith in his parents has difficulty believing in anything.
  9. Do not smother your child with superficial manifestations of “love.” The purest and healthiest love expresses itself in day-in, day-out training, which breeds self-confidence and independence.
  10. Teach your child there is dignity in hard work, whether it is performed with callused hands that shovel coal or skilled fingers that manipulate surgical instruments. Let him know a useful life is a blessed one and a life of ease and pleasure-seeking is empty and meaningless.
  11. Do not try to protect your child against every small blow and disappointment. Adversity strengthens character and makes us compassionate. Trouble is the great equalizer. Let him learn it.
  12. Teach your child to love God and to love his fellow men. Don’t send your child to a place of worship, take him there. Children learn from example. Telling him something is not teaching him. If you give your child a deep and abiding faith in God, it can be his strength and his light when all else fails.

———-

Excerpted from Ann Landers’ new book “Wake Up and Smell the Coffee,” published by Villard and available in bookstores everywhere. Copied from the Chicago Tribune, 8/28/96.

When Your Children Get Angry

All kids get angry. I hate to say it, but it’s true. No matter how hard you try, your children will get angry. It can feel frightening and overwhelming when your children have an angry outburst. But, anger is not all bad. Anger is an emotion and all emotions have a purpose. When our children get angry, the goal is not to get rid of the anger but to learn how to manage the anger, to use the anger for growth. That end may include reaching a goal, solving a problem, or advocating for justice. How can a parent do this in the moment of their children’s anger? These tips might help.

  1. Accept and acknowledge your children’s anger. Anger is typically triggered by something. But it often continues when the angry person does not feel heard. The first tip in helping turn your children’s anger into an opportunity for growth is to make them feel heard by acknowledging their anger. You can do this by narrating the situation. Narrate how you perceive their anger, what physical manifestations you see of their anger, and what might have triggered their anger.
  1. As you acknowledge your children’s anger, take the time to label their emotion as well. Label their anger. Give it a nuanced definition to fit the situation—frustrated, angry, resentful, annoyed, irritated, furious, or impatient, whatever fits the situation. Labeling an emotion expands your children’s emotional vocabulary. Having a good emotional vocabulary will help your children manage their emotions independently in the future.
  1. The goal in steps #1 and #2 is to defuse the anger. You may have to set some boundaries around behavior at the same time. Do not try to stop the anger. Simple set boundaries on how to act on the anger. For instance, “You can be angry at me, but you cannot hit me in your anger.”  Of course these types of boundaries only need to be spoken at this time if your children are crossing them in their anger.
  1. Problems are not solved in the heat of anger, so help your children calm. Take time to soothe them. In doing so, you are teaching them to soothe themselves. You are helping them build the neural connections necessary to soothe independently. Take a break. Let all those involved go to their “neutral corners.” It may take 20-30 minutes of focusing on a topic other than the topic that led to anger in order to calm down.
  1. As your children calm, begin to problem solve with them. Explore what triggered their anger, not just the situation that triggered their anger but what priority the situation represents as well. Did your children feel disrespected or taken advantage of? Did they believe someone took something that belonged to them, something material or personal? This may take some time as their anger may result from any number of priorities. After you discover the priority, explore ways to meet that priority and resolve their anger. Going through this process helps your children learn how to do it. Eventually, they will do it on their own.
  1. Finally, prepare for the next time. Consider a future situation and practice the solution discussed in step #5 in your mind’s eye. You can also role play a future situation and try out the solution. Make this practice fun.

These 6 steps can change the way your children respond to anger over time. Each time you go through this process with your children you move one step closer to them doing it all on their own.

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