Angry Zax screaming

Stop anger-gangrene:  Love vs. Be right

Angry words.

“This food is disgusting!”

And, just in case the entire dinner company had not heard the announcement correctly,

“THIS FOOD IS FOR PIGS.”

Earlier in the day, this mother and her son enjoyed an outing at the neighboring pick-your-own farm where they harvested fresh corn.

Golden and shining with butter, the corn-on-the-cob now lay steaming on their plates.

Girl eating corn on the cob

“Yummy” to most of the family.

“Yucky” to one…

…who decided that if he had to suffer, then everyone would too.

My friend looked at me dolefully as she shared the story.  Then admitted, she wished it had been a child speaking.

The anger-spewer was an adult.

 

Being Right Fuels Anger

School of Etiquette 101 teaches that insulting the cook is impolite and wrong.  School of Life teaches that if you want food for dinner tomorrow, talk nice.

From the school of Mom-of-4-Boys, I know how much sweat, elbow grease, time, money, AND LOVE go into meals.

Planning.  Shopping.  Preparing. Eating. Teaching table manners. Cleaning.

And over again.

Rude comments à table just slice up the atmosphere.  Conversation is chewed up.  The mood and the food lose their spice.

I understood her anger and feeling of justified ire in the face of purposeful insults. ESPECIALLY from an adult.  Aghhh!  Those repeated times trying to set a good example being swiftly undercut!

My friend poured out her frustration and fury.  She was RIGHT.  The other one was wrong.

 

And yet…I wonder if the other person felt justified in spouting these purposeful insults too.  There usually is another side of a story.

My friend was not ready to hear that.  Not while she relived the feelings of being shamed in front of her children and of having her parenting efforts dismantled.  So, I stayed with her.  Just stayed…until she readied to move out of…reliving the pain.

Our feelings don’t just linger as emotions; they lead to decisions and actions. 

Often hurt leads to revenge.

Often hurt leads to revenge. Click to Tweet

Yet, what a cost.  When the sh__ hits the fan, there’s LOTS of clean-up.  Too much for my taste!

 

My friend’s issue centered on corn-on-the-cob comments.  You and I will have another.  And we will ALL face the same choices:

  • To focus on the behavior…or on the relationship?
  • To choose to be “Right” …or will I choose to love?
  • To try and change other people…or to venture to grow ourselves?

I choose to change me.

It might sound easy.  IT IS TOUGH.

 

When Being Right Means Being Stuck in Anger

In no way do I condone disrespectful comments or inappropriate table manners.

At the same time, I don’t want to be a Zax either.

In this Dr. Seuss story, the South-going Zax and the North-going Zax met up and neither will budge.  They “reason” (a.k.a. argue). “Discuss” (a.k.a. butt heads).  And stay stuck, arms crossed, faces frowned.  Meanwhile life progresses around them.

Angry Zax screaming
“I’m right.” “No, I am Right.” ” NO!!! I AM RIGHT (bleep)”
Angry Zax stay mad
The two stubborn Zax stuck in their tracks…

If a relationship has a chance, someone must make a conciliatory move. 

And the only person I can control is me.

 

I remember when I tried to mend a bruised relationship.  I used “I statements” like, “I felt hurt when you _______ (spoke meanly about the food) and I would like to hear you recognize that ______(those were mean words).”

The person stormed out of the room.

I tried again a day later.  “You have to learn to let go,” I was told.

 

Choosing to Love

That response hurt.

And part of me wanted to let the relationship go.

Yet I choose to stay connected.

It means choosing to love even still…

Nelson Mandela is reputed to say, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

I want to live.  Richly.  Fully.

Not feebly in between sips of arsenic.

LEARN TO LET GO!

It’s disconcerting to hear the right message when it comes from the “wrong” person.

It’s disconcerting to hear the right message when it comes from the “wrong” person. Click to Tweet

 

Loving above & beyond Anger or Hurt

Here’s what helped me let go.

Look at what to hold onto

Not focusing on the hurt is like not thinking of the pink elephant.

Every time you try, it looms LARGE.

Instead choose to concentrate on something positive

  • To define respect in your home
  • To heal the other’s wounds
    (Those who hurl revenge often harbor hurt)

 

Focus on the issue (vs. taking it personally)

If there were no grain of truth, an insult would have little hold.

An offense aims to distract from the issue to the person.  We all mess up.  It does not make us a messed-up person.

Go on a treasure hunt to identify the underlying grievance.  Does it concern your behavior?  Might it belong to the other person?

It could be their need to feel loved, belonging, and able to contribute.  We humans become superbly AWKWARD in expressing our deepest needs!

Maybe your and my vision is blurred.  Our “attacker” untucked a hidden issue (like, “you take care of the kids but not me”).  We would have trouble hearing the message even if it were kindly said…

Is there a “right” person or a “good” way to learn DIFFICULT lessons?!

 

Get encouragement elsewhere

Airplane security guidelines ALWAYS indicate that in case of turbulence to put on our own oxygen mask before assisting others.

How are you and I getting that required boost?

Schedule self-care.  Make time to do one thing that makes you feel better.

Do it before the crash!

 

In an ideal world, we might commune over every topic with our spouse.  We don’t all live in Utopia at every second of the day.

It’s too much to ask of anyone to completely fill our emotional needs.  Could you do that for others?  (I cannot.)

Give your partner a break.  You and I will need them to let go for us too.

Bon courage!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Calm Kids’ Anger – Create Positive Routines TOGETHER

How perplexing for a parent when his child bursts out in anger!

Where did THAT come from?

How to calm the fury?

How to avoid the anger?

Do you know?

Kids get frustrated (then annoyed, then angry) when they do not know what to expect.
That’s why finding a solution TOGETHER is so powerful.

Join our Parent + Child Workshop

  • When:    Saturday, Sept 23 from 3:30 – 5:00 pm
  • Where:     American Church in Paris, 65 quai d’Orsay, 75007, Room G7
  • How much:    20€ per family
  • With:    Denise Dampierre (me) – Positive Discipline trainer,
    Mom of 4 boys, Harvard MBA

    
 parent child workshop for anger management

Here’s what we’ll do TOGETHER

1. Hunt down “the Issue”

EVERY family has an issue.  For you it might be getting out the door on time, for another it could be interrupting, and for a yet another it might be about TV time.

No family is perfect…which is what makes life so interesting and gives us hope for growth.

Through fun activities, we’ll help you put a name to that moment that makes one of you fly off the handle.  You’ll see that you are in great company…and maybe you’ll even smile (a tiny bit) about it :).

2. Remember the LOVE

The reason you all get worked up is because you care.

We’ll lead you in an activity for family loving.  Not corny.  Totally funny.

3. Make a Wish List

There is an issue, so TOGETHER, you and your child will discuss “the dream situation.”  If you had a magic want, you would…..

Some of those wishes could even come true.  We’ll help you  pick & choose.  This becomes your positive routine.

4. Create a Positive Routine Chart

Now that you have your plan, we’ll help you create your own PERSONALIZED reminder.

Check what these kids did…and notice how proud they are of themselves!

5. Enjoy Goûter

Nothing like a little moment to recharge and to mingle with other like-minded parents and kids.

We’ll be around to answer your questions too.

Family Happy New Year

Favorite family activity to wish a SoSooper New Year!

The Family Feedback

One of our most precious family moments comes after Christmas. That’s when we share what each person does well and how we can be even stronger as an individual and as a family.

We” means the kids start with the feedback and Mom & Dad L.I.S.T.E.N.

The Family Feedback: kids share and parents LISTEN. Click To Tweet

The structured process keeps discussion positive.  Each child gets to share:
One Great Thing that Mom or Dad do
(and the kids want them to keep doing)
– One Thing they would like to Change about Family Life
(it would hugely improve family life for them)

PARENTS LISTEN.

You may be surprised by the suggestions!

Some “To change” suggestions could be a no-brainer “YES.”  One child asked, “Please, no more lemon cake.”

Other requests could merit deeper discussion.  (“More screen time.”  “No veggies.”)  Talk it over while everyone is calm and together.

The Family Feedback works with kids of all ages

with teens

Teen boys

Click here

 

with kids

Family meeting with parents and kids

Click here

 

with tots

Click here

Free downloadDownload Free Tools

SoSooper prepared some worksheets for you:

  • to prepare
  • to succeed
  • to remember

Click here to get your free downloads.

 

We’d love to hear from you.  Give us YOUR feedback too in the comments below!

 

Cover photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Happy New Year tiara for girl

The Family Feedback with little children

How much can your young child tell you about YOUR job as a parent?

Quite a lot.

By listening you share encouraging words for your kids.

The Family Feedback with tots

The Family Feedback is ONE GREAT FAMILY TIME where kids give feedback to parents. They start with the good stuff 🙂 and move onto deeper discussion.  Read more here.

For very young kids, we stick to sharing family highlights.  

You want your kids to associate “family” with “fun”?  Then ask them to tell you about a fun time with Mom or Dad.  This strengthens the neural messaging in their brains so that they can more easily access memories of great times as a family.

Our brain is amazing…and malleable.

Ask, “Tell me about a time you felt really happy with us.”

“When we played ball together.”

Help your child fully recall with the experience through specific and factual questions.

“What color was our ball?” “Was it before or after lunch?” “Who else was playing with us?”

Then gently probe for what generated the positive emotions.

“What was soooooo great?” “Which part made you feel the most special?”  “What did you do to show you were happy?”

Thank your child.  

“Your telling me when you were happy makes me very happy too.  Thanks, Darling.”

We tried it & loved it

Here’s what one mother shared after a SoSooper workshop where she and her three year old daughter enjoyed such a conversation:

“My daughter was probably a little bit young (only 3) and I think was struggling to really engage with the activities. However, even though she dealt with it on her level, I think she still got a lot out of the experience – and found it nice that it was a time where mummy was ready to listen to her and find out what she found fun and loving about being in our family.

This workshop reminded me that we do all right as a family (eating together, playing together, respecting each other). As I’m sure you know only too well – it’s a tricky job, mummying, and can seem very unrewarding sometimes. If I were a business, (actually I’m a secondary school teacher) I wouldn’t put up with clients who were so demanding and so seemingly ungrateful for all my efforts. I think what you’re doing is so important – just like in any job, you have training for that ‘shot in the arm’ of enthusiasm and clarity to do your job better every day. Parents need that more than anyone!”

Free downloadDownload Free Tools

SoSooper prepared some worksheets for you:

  • to prepare
  • to succeed
  • to remember

Click here to get your free downloads.

Cover photo by Jerry Kiesewetter on Unsplash

Creative ways to spell L.O.V.E.

My husband and I celebrate 25 years of marriage this year!

What has enabled our union and our boys to thrive?  The glue is called love, in its many spellings 🙂
Love as L.A.U.G.H.
Love as L.I.S.T.E.N.
Love as L.E.A.R.N.

Love as L.A.U.G.H.

My husband has an amazing sense of humor.  When tension rises, he brings humor into the situation which enables us to communicate respectfully and productively once again.

Laughter gives us just those nanoseconds needed to let steam diffuse before we explode.  Phew.  It’s nice to be nice.  I hate myself when I act and look like a raven pecking at my kids (or something worse)

Learn to laugh at yourself:

What situation gets you M.A.D.?  Imagine you just landed from Mars and saw someone in that exact situation, what would they see, hear, and smell?  Could there be something funny about that?love love love and listen

Love as L.I.S.T.E.N.

Soooo much easier said than done.  Through my parent coaching I have become more aware of my own TOTALLY FLAWED behavior.

My most common blooper is to “listen” with my mouth open.  The children call it “giving lectures.”  Yet as tots become teens, connecting with our kids means giving them space to grow.  When I speak less, they share more.

When I (parent) speak less, the children share more. Love is spelled L.I.S.T.E.N. Click To Tweet

Learn to listen:

Write down some of the words you tell your partner and children.  Hand the list to them and ask them to read these words out loud to you.  Stand 2 meters (2 yards) away from them.  Step forward if those sayings motivate you to closeness.  Step back if those words aggravate you.  Compare your ending position to where you started out.

Invite your loved ones to add to the list and try this again.

ONCE you have shown your loved ones how you listen, invite them to “hear with their feet” too.
love love love and learn

Love as L.E.A.R.N.

Together time gets a boost during vacations.  Our family thrives on physical exercise and some kind of discovery.  It’s one of our values to embrace diversity, to move beyond our comfort zone, to choose being wonder-filled.

We ask our children all the time to stretch their knowledge (learn at school), to stretch their effort (one more bite of dinner, please), to stretch their patience (just one minute longer….)

Discovery as a family enables me to model the attitude we hope to grow in our kids.  As I struggle through my own learning, I also gain in empathy with my kids.

Learn to encourage:

It is also encouraging to cheer someone on while at their side.

Haven’t you done or been in the situation where well-meaning people act like this:  they advance faster than you and turn back to encourage.  With the distance between you, they have to scream at the top of their lungs, “KEEP IT UP.”  Their words shouted in the distance sound fumbled.  Their body language looks angry (we shout better with feet apart and a certain facial grimace!)

When we are learning we are vulnerable.  Encouragement through proximity truly passes on the message, “We’re together in this.”

Which L.O.V.E. will you apply today?

THAT is THE question!!!!

 

Cover photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

 

Improve Communication Skills by Speaking Your Message in Multiple Ways

“What did he say?” inquired the American.

“Qu’est ce qu’il a dit?” asked the French. (It means, “What did he say?”)

We roared with laughter all the more at their mutual translations AND growing frustrations.

“What did he say?” “Qu’est ce qu’il a dit?” “WHAT did he say?” “Qu’est ce qu’il a DIT?”

They did not change words, just the volume.  Even so, we could barely hear them we were laughing so loudly.

Here is the moral about communication skills:  If the message isn’t getting across, say it differently.  

If the message isn’t getting across, say it differently. Click To Tweet
Skateboard championships at base of Eiffel Tower
International skateboarders compete looking out onto the Eiffel Tower
French communication skills: a show
Behind Notre Dame
Teenager commemorating Napoleon
Showing off Napoleonic attire.
World map made of flowers
A globe made from flowers, covered in glass. Alive and fragile.
New York City skyline taken from Empire State
From the top of the Empire State Building
Times Square in New York City
Times Square in New York City
Teenager at Wall in DC
At the Vietman Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.

Improve Communication Skills by Re-Phrasing Your Message

Do your kids respond, “WHAT?” to “I love you.”  Try, “Daaaaahling, you are so precious to me.”

Repeating the message with different words is a fundamental communication skill taught in multi-cultural contexts.

Are you feeling the generation gap too? Our children are from another culture!  When you don’t understand your kids, ask them to rephrase for you.  Teach them effective communication skills.  “Whatever, Dad” does not cut it.

Hone Communication Skills Using Varying Love Languages

Chores need to be done and calling out her name is not generating the desired response.

  • Is she sensitive to touch? Go to her, give her a 30 second shoulder massage, and tell her it’s time for the chores.
  • She responds better to gifts? Write her a note and fold it up into a paper airplane to remind her dishes are waiting and need to be done quick as air mail.
  • She loves shared moments. “Honey, while you put the dishes in the dishwasher, I’ll ____ (choose from your looooooong list) in the kitchen with you.”

You come up with the ideas for affirmation and acts of service or learn more about love languages, these highly effective communication skills.  They are fascinating.  And they make a difference.

Communicate by Captivating Additional Senses

Have you noticed how at work we “sell ideas” by engaging multiple senses.  PowerPoint is this communication tool par excellence.  Receivers SEE and HEAR simultaneously.

Yet at home we speak instructions (sell ideas?!)  When that does not work, we use more voice.  (Reinvest in our losing strategy?!)  And, if you are like many parents, we scream!

Ooooops.  How does that rank in modeling positive communication skills?!!

Try these Power Pointers show-and-tell guides for your children. Some folk need to see to believe.  The kids may have heard parents repeat it 1000 times, when they see the photo of children brushing teeth, they respond, “Oh, yes.  I do have to brush my teeth.” 

Maybe your child needs to touch it to understand it. One mother walked into her child’s room, tied a string to his bed, and walked out unrolling the string. He got up and followed her! (Pied Piper or Wacky Mother. Either way, it’s worth discovering.)

Improve Your Communication Skills

Hummmm.  This might be embarassing.

Do you sound like a broken down record?  Try to express the same message in a multitude of ways:

  • You probably already tried asking nicely (a.k.a. The Command)
  • As a question
  • With simpler vocabulary
  • As a game (“Time to brush teeth.  Race you to the bathroom!”)
  • Without words (a kiss, taking her hand, and walking to the bathroom together.  When (!!) she resists, pause, smile, get eye contact, and start up again.)
  • With humor (“Dear Wall, Do YOU hear better than my kids?  If I had a magic wand….”)
  • With love.  “Thank you, sweetheart.”

Listen with Open Minds

Dad and daughter may be looking each other in the eye, but they’e not seeing eye to eye.

Explore paradigms, those personalized mental maps, that explain how different people give opposite interpretations to the same facts. Try the fun ways to unblock communication gaps.

We listen through our ears… and through our paradigms.

Stephen Covey (author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) presents paradigms as mental maps that describe the way things are (realities) and the way they should be (values).   Amazingly, highly intelligent people can

  • encounter identical facts,
  • interpret them completely differently,
  • AND both be right!

You and I have a mental map. Kids have theirs too, and they differ from their parents’! (Did you notice how when kids play house, parents always get to do what they want all the time?!)

We act according to our beliefs.

Take the Christmas story. For some, the angel’s conversation with Mary seems absurd. Angels belong in stories or in snow. We know how babies are made, and it’s not that way.  John Lennon and Yoko Ono may have thought that way.

Mary and Joseph also knew those facts, yet central to their paradigm was the belief in God, the one who keeps his promises and makes the impossible happen. When they heard the incredible news about Jesus’ conception, they could be overwhelmed and still believe and act on those convictions.

Yes, our beliefs impact our actions.  Including on our style of discipline.

Knowing your paradigm and understanding your kids’ revolutionizes the way we correct.  What if we could travel our child’s mind map and help uncover some hurtful beliefs?!  By tweaking the misunderstood assumptions, the desired behaviors naturally follow.

When differences don’t attract…

Covey presents two basic paradigms:
– the Personality Ethic (success is a function of our public image) and
– Character Ethic founded on principles such as integrity, temperance, courage, justice, and the Golden Rule.

Imagine the “collision” of these two paradigms!

Junior wants to look KOOOOL in the latest shoe fashion.  It happens to cost a small fortune.  Mom and Dad desire to teach him financial responsibility.

Clash.

Junior’s Fashion Ethic oulook values spending.  Mom and Dad’s principle of living within one’s means finds worth in thoughtful spending.

How do you identify these paradigms?  Get started with these fun family activities.

Use these fun family activities to discover each other’s paradigms and to communicate more effectively and pleasurably.

Decipher Optical Illusions

Try this zero-pressure, neutral-subject confrontation to introduce the concept of varying viewpoints on identical data.
Read on…

Draw Your Hopes & Uncover Paradigms (best with younger kids)

Compare your view of the “perfect” living room to Junior’s. Are the cushions on the sofa or on the floor? 🙂
Read on…