As parents, like any human being, and especially facing moments… moments… Well… Sometimes you go crazy!
(I call it « the moment I turn into a witch« )
How can me change our reaction?
How to express anger appropriately?
A few tips:
Change the beginning of the sentences: use I rather than YOU
(« I can’t stand being addressed this way! »)
Stay simple: « The rule is:… », without further explanation.
Most importantly, no insult, or label! Otherwise, we may push children into a role (see Chapter 7), or in any case, we attack their identity, the way they see themselves.
In this chapter, the author lists a whole bunch of possible reactions to a particular case, by varying the methods, and for growing states of anger. To prepare answers that will help us feel ready to better express ourselves when the moment comes is in deed a very good idea!
She considers the case where her children have (still) not fed the bird.
level 1 – mild annoyance-, you can make a gesture (show the empty plate), write a note (« bird in distress »), describe (« bird looks hungry »), repeat the description (simply), encourage children to find a solution (« children, there is something that bothers me, I need your help. Initially, this bird was well fed, and increasingly, it is forced to skip meals. Do you think you could put a system in place, and explain it to me after dinner? »)
2nd level – edgy, we should discharge some of the irritation constructively: (« I’m annoyed and disappointed. Certain children vowed they they would take good care of the bird! »), affirm one’s values (« when an animal depends on us, we don’t let him down! »), 3-word exclamation (« David, the bird! »)
3rd level – mean!-, we can give a choice (« children, you choose: you feed this bird, or you stand an angry mother! »), an alert (« you have 3 minutes to feed this bird until my mean feelings get the best out of me! »), the use of « as soon as » (« as soon as the bird is fed, we can talk about watching TV. Until then, I’m in no mood to grant favors »)
4th level – rage!-, sharing feelings (« when I ask again and again that we feed the bird and I am ignored, I become incensed! Now, I am feeding the bird myself, and I am furious at having to do your job! »)
And I did not even write everything here, but it gives a good idea of the approach!
The real first step would be to undertake this exercise: build up on a case that triggers our anger, and list what one could say… so that we’re prepared. It will probably not come naturally, but at least it would give us better ideas.
We talked already about the power of choices, here it would choices related to behavior.
Ex: « You can choose to play ball outside or stay inside and not play ball »
Follow-up with « I see you chose » by removing the ball, if the attitude has not changed.
Sometimes acting is not easy. However, as Dr. Haim Ginott says:
« A parent’s responsibility is not to his child’s happiness, it’s to his character.
Did you know that ‘no’ can be a loving response? »
« There’s such a short time that a child lives at home, and so much for him to learn before he goes out into the world. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if parents could harvest the energy generated by their anger, and use it,-not for insult – but for giving their children information and values… »
Dr. Haim Ginott