How Do You Handle Anger? How Does Your Child?

One of the most effective tools in a parent’s toolbox is anger. “Don’t make me get angry with you”! (As if they Angry-Black-Man-Holing-Earscould make us…). We don’t like it when our children get angry, we don’t like it when our spouse or boss gets angry, and if you are like me, you don’t even like it when you get angry. So why do we do it? More importantly, what is it, and how do we “not do it”? Hopefully you read our recent article that introduced Eric Barker and his blog Barking Up The Wrong Tree and got a good look at the neuroscience involved in the experience of anger. Really good stuff (if not, read it in the link below). Here is more about anger.

So Let’s talk more about anger.

We ran an article about How to not get angry — 3 Secrets from Neuroscience by Eric Barker which was viewed by many of our parents and professionals. The summary of Mr. Barker’s excellent article is:

"Here’s how to get rid of anger:
    1) Suppress rarely. They may not know you’re angry but you’ll feel worse inside and hurt the relationship.
    2) Don’t vent. Communication is good but venting just increases anger. Distract yourself.
    3) Reappraisal is usually the best option. Think to yourself, “It’s not about me. They must be having a bad day.”
    4) Practice forgiveness"

His research into neuroscience is well worth looking into. His simple four step process for working with this powerful emotion offers a breath of fresh air to many of us who are victims of our seemingly uncontrollable reactions. Some of us even go so far as to say, "I have a right to be angry with you". Well, perhaps a right to feel your anger - and we even encourage that, but the "right" to blast, rant, rave, scream, throw things, or worse is certainly an option of yours to choose, but perhaps not the best for you or your child.

But, let’s look at anger from a different perspective…  how about needs not being met? There are many references to fear being underneath the emotion of anger. When we are afraid, we react with anger. Because we are afraid, we bring out the big guns - our anger and rage. (That should scare them off!)

But let’s roll that back one more level. What is the fear? Marshall Rosenberg, founder of the Center for Non Violent Communication puts this in a perspective that allows anger to be seen simply as a sign that one’s needs are not being met. End of story. And, that feelings of depression, guilt and blame along with anger are all tragic expressions of one's needs not being met.

How-not-to-handle-angerSo when I am feeling afraid that my needs are not or will not be met, not knowing how to communicate this and feeling powerless, lacking the tools or feeling like I don’t deserve my needs being met for some reason, I use anger as a way to get my way. So do I want to be angry? Do I have a right to be angry? If that is the only way I know of to get my needs met, well yes, I guess I can and most of the time do choose anger.

The ironic part of this story is that anger is rarely met with my needs being met. At least in the “everybody feels good about the outcome” way. A boss may get the employee to do what needs to be done, or parent may get the child to do what the parent wants, but at what cost do these things play out? Fear > Anger > Control > Rebellion > Fear.

And what stops us parents from asking an angry child, “honey, what are your needs right now that are not being met”? Often times I think it is the fear that they will ask for something that we cannot/will not/refuse to give them so the cycle will begin again. So we don't go there.

But will it?

Once needs are identified, three things have occurred:
1)    A conversation — not a fight;
2)    You get to know your child better, and yourself hopefully;
3)    You have the opportunity to go even deeper, as in… “If you got to ________, how would that make you feel, as in what need would be met? And the conversation would continue. “Oh I see, if you got to go to the dance, you would get to see _______ and would feel _______. I wonder if there might be any other way you can meet your need?

Granted, since children at all ages are often not so logical or reasonable, so you are really looking in-between the lines for unconscious emotional issues. Will this always resolve things without fighting with your kids? You know better. But does it open up options to what may be a fight into what could be a conversation? You can guess that too.

And if all comes down to just another battle, you can always quit fighting and forgive. Barker points out the value of forgiveness as a tool for less anger and more heath. Imagine a world where we all come to realize that forgiveness is “not for them, it’s for you. He says:

"Forgiveness makes you less angry and more healthy: Trait forgiveness was significantly associated with fewer medications and less alcohol use, lower blood pressure and rate pressure product; state forgiveness was significantly associated with lower heart rate and fewer physical symptoms. Neither of these sets of findings were the result of decreased levels of anger-out being associated with forgiveness. These findings have important theoretical implications regarding the forgiveness–health link, suggesting that the benefits of forgiveness extend beyond the dissipation of anger."

In summary — How to understand anger as a tool for making things more wonderful for ourselves and children:

  • Feel your anger. Notice the signs, the symptoms, the signals and the sensations in your body. Your stomach, your hands and your breath can all be good indicators of a coming storm. If you miss these, you will likely go "over the falls of reactivity" and become of victim, along with your child, of your anger;
  • Don’t suppress — this only makes things worse, unhealthy, (but don’t beat anyone up instead either);
  • Don’t vent — unhealthy, makes things worse;
  • Reappraise — I wonder what prompted or triggered her behavior? It’s not about me;
  • Forgive — This is about me, not about them;
  • Identify the need not being met and see what can be done “to make life more wonderful” as Rosenberg likes to say.

So, what need of your is not being met? What would make life more wonderful for you? Now, find someone to share that with and see what comes about.

Have a calm and wonderful day!

Peace or Stress? Mindfulness Tips for the Holidays #5 – Do Exactly What You Are Doing

Do What You Are Doing: Mindfulness has become so mainstream it has almost become funny. Hollywood throws it in occasionally as you hear something like "be the ball" from Bill Murray or others as they prod someone into enlightened performance or insight. Although all of the mindfulness techniques or practices focus on being here now or do what you are doing, this one zeros in tasks, and not the meditative sitting silently or quietly lost in contemplation or prayer. In fact, a recent article in the Huffington Post states, "One of the major reasons that corporate America is grabbing onto mindfulness is because the science is there that backs it up. We have evidence that intentionally paying attention with mindfulness is connected to areas of the brain responsible for attention, memory, learning, awareness, empathy and compassion. We've seen reduction in activities in areas of the brain associated with stress and fear."   Wow! This is BIG news and dovetails perfectly with the teachings of the Stress Model developed by Bryan Post. So by practicing mindfulness, we become less fearful, more loving and can parent our very challenging children - what a great Christmas gift that is!

Attend Tasks - Be fully engaged in the next task you do, whatever it may be, important or trivial. Pay attention to all details.  Feel every motion. Be attentive, deliberate and focused. Live in the moment of doing.  -- Frederick Burggraf, The Mindfulness Wheel

The steps that Mr. Burggraf offers in his approach can be used with a different focus each day for living in the present moment. Practicing mindfulness through attending to tasks, we not only begin to pay attention to our actions,  but it also eliminate the clumsy, whoops dropped it, oh darn it type of events as we become more of what we are doing in the moment. How many times have we dropped, kicked, bumped, bit our tongue etc in those moments of non-attention?  Wouldn't it be interesting if there were none of those moments ...

Frederick Burggraf created a wonderful little tool called The Mindfulness Wheel (www.dayonepublishing.com). We will be sharing some of his quick and easy lessons along with other mindfulness  tips over the Holiday Season to help us all stay regulated, calmer, patient and more loving with our special children. Use them; let us know how they work and what you learn from them.

Choose to Attend Tasks.

-- David Durovy
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Last Chance! It’s not too late to still get and read the short FREE download e-Book 
Holiday Peace: Turn Holiday Stress into Peaceful Family Time  by Bryan Post.  Help the Holidays Be Happy Times rather than Stressful Times with Bryan’s 4 Point Plan!“Classic” Bryan Post delivers tips, hints, wisdom and what not to do to help your family have a better holiday with his 4 Point Plan. Don’t let the holidays “just happen”. The Holidays should not come as a surprise. Plan ahead on how best to help your challenging child – and yourself, stayed regulated. Don’t let your anger and frustration or your children’s behaviors ruin your holidays. Use the Stress Model to bring Joy to the World, Peace on Earth and Goodwill toward All!

Make sure you stop by our Facebook page often as we are giving away books, DVDs, CDs and more each week for a full year. This is a chance to learn, play and interact with other committed parents and professionals and WIN! http://www.facebook.com/postinstitute
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For more of Bryan Post’s unique truly love based family centered approach for managing children with challenging behaviors, visit his websites:

  • www.postinstitute.com – A Radical New Understanding of Difficult Children resource site. Lots of free stuff and training materials.
  • www.reactiveattachmentdisorderparenting.com – A Parenting “Hands-On” Home Study Course for parents & professionals with RAD kids and many other challenging behaviors and diagnoses.
  • www.oxytocincentral.com – Resource site for the latest info and research on Oxytocin, the hormone responsible for attachment and bonding.
  • www.postinnercircle.comWhere Desperate Parents Come for Solutions and Support. You Are Not Alone. If there were a way to personally interact with Bryan Post on a regular basis, would you be interested? If there were a community of other parents and professionals who wanted peace and harmony in their families as much as you, and you could learn from them, would you be interested in joining them?Also free parenting videos by Bryan Post on YouTube, and up to date information, discounts, weekly contests Like our Facebook page.

Hello, Here is a question for all of you. What do you do when your child won’t stop taking food from the pantry and hiding it in their room? Please read and answer the different questions that come up and add questions of your own that you may need help with so we can all get ideas from each other and help each other. My example: My 17 year old hides food and wrappers under his mattress even when he knows we will find it. HELP!!! —-Susan D.

A public thank you from a friend in the UK

To David Durovy & Bryan Post

Whom sent me copies of Bryan's books, "From Fear, To Love" & "The Great Behaviour Breakdown", both by email and hard copies by post.

Thank you so much.

I doubt many people in the UK will have heard of Bryan Post or the Post Institute (http://www.postinstitute.com/) but Bryan is clearly a generous man and a man of passion and a special understanding within his field. All parent's, whether of adopted children or whether biological parents, should read his books and watch his videos. The world is a better place because of people like Bryan, who truly understands the importance of love, compassion & understanding.  The books are not available through Amazon UK (and should be!!!) so if you are a parent, whether adoptive or not, and want a copy then approach the institute directly.

Amazon UK do have "Beyond Consequences Logic and Control" which is co-authored br Bryan.

I believe the single most important thing for the future of humanity, is working towards a true understanding of our nature, and Bryan is definitely one of the knights on that quest.

Sir, you have my utmost respect and gratitude!!