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!

In-depth 4 Week Small Group Coaching Program Now Forming…

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I want to help you create healing for your adopted child. If you are the parent of a teen or twenty something,
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Kristi, thank you for putting this program together for our families, and for making it affordable.  A great opportunity. You're knowledge and experience will make this an amazing program. –David Durovy, Partner Post Institute

Register Today to secure your slot!
This is our chance to work hand in hand to create healing for your vulnerable children.

I'm Kristi Saul, the head coach for The Post Institute and the Leader of The Adoption Parenting Inner Circle
This is an exclusive offer. Because YOU said you wanted real help with your teenagers and young adults, I’ve put together a 4 week program specifically focused on Parenting Teens and Twenty-Somethings.

Each session will take place live via video conferencing and will be audio recorded for your future listening. This is a chance for us to interact to share your experiences and your fears and to get expert education, support, and proven effective solutions. A chance to be real with one another and create real healing.

If you are the parent of a teen or young adult you’ll want to participate in this 4 week program.

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  • An in depth understanding of the impact of pre-birth and early life trauma;
  • An understanding of why these early experiences are so important to understand during the "launching" process;Register Here
  • How to help your teen or young adult understand their stress and stress responses;
  • How to create a connected, in-the-know relationship that will be their safety net through challenges they face;
  • Understanding the family dynamics, parents leading the family in healing;
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Questions? Email Kristi at kristi@adoptionparentinginnercircle.com


Who is Kristi Saul and what does she know about helping adopted children? Kristi is the head coach for The Post Institute.   Kristi is the founder and leader of The Adoption Parenting Inner Circle, the first online educational support for adoptive and foster parents and professionals, and is the co-founder of the Post Institute.  She is the hands on expert to the message of The Post Institute.  Her education and experience create an amazing voice of compassionate understanding and education for adoptive parents and professionals. She holds a master’s degree in Community Counseling from the University of Central Oklahoma. Kristi has worked in trenches with some of the most challenging families and children for the past 25 years. She has published numerous articles on topics related to parenting, and educating attachment challenged children. But more than that, her expertise is gained from life experience.  She has been surrounded by adoption her entire life.  Kristi is the daughter of an adopted, attachment challenged mother, her cousins were adopted, her former spouse, Bryan Post, an adopted child, and she has an adopted son. She has been behind the scenes in every aspect of the creation of the Post Institute, the development of the stress model and family centered regulatory parenting, the Inner Circle, and the Post Group Home projects. Every aspect of her life for the past 12 years has focused on understanding, and living the stress model and creating healing and harmonious relationships in her family. Her vast first hand experiences of living the stress model and creating healing for the most challenging children provides a refreshing down to earth application of neuroscience, child development, regulatory parenting, therapy, and an in depth understanding of family dynamics. Kristi lives a quiet life in Claremore, Ok where she raises her daughter Marley and her son Kevin.

Kristi Aug '15Much Love
Kristi Saul, MEd
Leader: Adoption Parenting Inner Circle
Head Coach: Post Institute

The Adoption Parenting Inner Circle is a support for parents and professionals in their journey to create healing for adopted children, based on the philosophies of Love Based Parenting and The Post Institute.

There Is a Better Way to Parent

Where in the World is Waldo is a Better Way?

A big problem is that we parents think we know how to parent. That it is a no-brainer. I mean, people haveOld-Way-Better-Way-Wood-s been doing this stuff for centuries. What is the big deal? True, but that does not mean there isn't a better way...

The Better Way:  Your paradigm is the way in which you see the world. It is the model by which you explain and understand all that is happening. It is metaphorically speaking the table cloth upon which all the table settings rest.

Most people are constantly re-arranging the "table settings" of their life in hopes of something better. Change the table cloth. Yes, just yank it out, then start rebuilding your assumptions about your life, your parenting and about everything. What we teach works best from an entirely different paradigm or model of how parenting works.

Sure, we can play around with this technique, that tip, or another approach or method. We can do this for years with few results. If it doesn't work, we do it louder, harder, more forcefully.

For a direct flight to love, keep in mind that both you and your child are completely innocent, both doing the best possible thing you know how to do. If either of you knew a better way, I guarantee you would do it in a heartbeat. If it doesn’t work, it is simply because there is a better way, not the “right way”. Think in terms of better, not right or wrong. There is always, always, always a better way.

Choose a better way,
— David

Mirror Mirror on the Wall, Who is the Lovingest of Us All?

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "who you are speaks so loudly I can't hear what you are saying." The practical current scientific thought reflected here is the concept of Mirror Neurons.

Mirror-Girl-Unhappy "Many scientists have come to believe that we understand others not by thinking, but by feeling. For mirror neurons appear to let us “simulate” not just other people’s actions, but the intentions and emotions behind those actions. When you see someone smile, for example, your mirror neurons for smiling fire up, too, creating a sensation in your own mind of the feeling associated with smiling. You don’t have to think about what the other person intends by smiling. You experience the meaning immediately and effortlessly.

This serendipitous discovery of mirror neurons—a special class of brain cells that fire not only when an individual performs an action, but also when the individual observes someone else make the same movement—has radically altered the way we think about our brains and ourselves, particularly our social selves." *

Mirror-Girl-HappyThis underlying scientific principle called mirror neurons essentially, is that mirror neurons are just like a mirror. When you look in the mirror and you smile, the reflection smiles back at you. When you look in the mirror and you frown, the reflection frowns back at you. When you look in the mirror and you yell, the reflection yells back at you. We have mirror neurons in our brain, which mirror what we see.

In relationship to your child, if you’re approaching your child from a place of positive energy, your child is going to be reflecting that back to you. I want you to take this as an example. Just for today, when your child comes home, or whenever you get a chance, I just want you to walk by, happen to catch your child’s attention and I want you to smile at them and you will notice in most instances, they will smile back. Try it, see what happens and let me know.

Think of this old saying the next time you interact with your child or anyone...“when you smile, the whole world smiles with you”.

Choose Love.

— B

* Source: http://www.brainfacts.org/brain-basics/neuroanatomy/articles/2008/mirror-neurons/

Make ’em, Break ’em or Love ’em

When you can create regulation within yourself in the midst of your child’s dysregulation, you become the true essence of a parent — a positive influence on the growth and development of your child. This is true parenting - influencing your child and allowing their own development to proceed as God intended. It is not our job to make or force our child - but to nurture who they are and who they choose to be. When parents are calm and loving, wonderful things can take place with less effort, less work, less disappointment and just, well… less. whew! More time for play, for enjoyment and for love. It doesn’t get any better than this parents.

What kind of a role model am I? What kind are you?

When adults get stressed out, they tend to act like adolescents because “When we stress, we regress”. Our amygdala is hijacked, our higher functioning frontal cortex is shut down and we are no longer running the show. The same of course for our children. Think about this the next time you are tempted to say to them, “What were you thinking!?!?” The answer is simple - Not.

I got so mad at my 22 year old the other day that I had to hang up the phone on him. I didn’t even decide to, I just “did” it. He texted back, “nice move dad. Really mature”. Yeah. 65 years old and still acting like a kid. How does that happen? It’s really simple. Stress causes us to react from the past, completely miss the present and obsess about the future. Our thinking processes become confused and distorted, and with our short term memory suppressed, we don’t know who we are or who we are interacting with. We become strangers I in our own bodies, in our own experience and can almost say with impunity, “I didn’t do it”. Almost. This is what happens when I am ‘not home’.

The same is true for our children, when they do things they shouldn’t, behave badly, is it “them” doing it or their own stressors of fear triggering their actions? No, this is not amnesty for every wrongdoing. This is simply ‘understanding’ which leads to learning which leads to healing, correction and better choices — or in many cases choice period. I didn’t choose to hang up on my son. I was so wound up I had no choice. “It” just happened. And I am the adult with 65 years of experience and I know better.  So when “it” happens to our child, how do we respond? How could we respond? What is the teaching moment here? Or, do we get so upset with their stupid behavior that we just re-act (as in acting over and over again and again) cause the cycle of unconscious  behavior on both our parts to just continue endlessly into the future, never learning, never stopping, never being mindful and never being free?
 
"Let he who has never sinned cast the first stone..."

Think about it. Can you blame us? Can you blame them?

Choose Love.

What you see is not what you get

We’ve been taught to see children and their behaviors in a certain way, and change it seems is never easy. Think of it this way, what you see is what you have learned to see — not actually ‘what is there’. When we see a behavior, we tend to add the ‘baggage’ of our learned understanding. This often just goes to prove what we already thought was the case. We have to interrupt our understanding enough to be able to question what we are seeing, and what it means. Use this against the new paradigm measuring stick — ask, what is this child trying to say with this behavior?

Eight Components of a Peaceful Parent/Child Relationship Pt 8: Love

P.E.A.C.E.F.U.L: Eight Components of a Peaceful Parent/Child Relationship - Component #8 Love is the ribbon that ties patience, IMG_04231empathy, acceptance, compassion, encouragement, forgiveness, and understanding all together.

Love is not a feeling - it is an action.

Love does not just occur or present itself – it takes effort.

Love is not a noun – it is a verb!

Your child will not just feel loved because you say you love him.

He/She must feel it through your actions.

This may take the form of a hug, a smile, or a kiss; but it takes some action before love can be experienced.

It will do your child no good to talk about how much you love him if he does not experience your love through your actions.

All else pales in comparison to a child feeling loved.

Children need this love above anything else.

The practice of love is difficult.

The process of expressing love is displayed through the actions of showing patience, connecting in empathy, providing acceptance, approaching with compassion, offering encouragement, showering with forgiveness, and seeking to truly understand your child.

If you have enjoyed P.E.A.C.E.F.U.L., the eight components of a peaceful parent/child relationship, then I would like to know.
If this series has had a positive impact on your life, take a moment and send me an e-mail: info@postinstitute.com

Choose love,

-- B

Rip those behavior charts off of the wall and burn them

Gratefully used with the permsission of progressivepreceptors.com

Behavior Chartsby Travis Tagart
They're not just all over pinterest. They're all over early childhood classrooms, and they are actively damaging children every day that they're in use.

Behavior charts are not a classroom management technique. They are a symptom of a teacher's devastating control issues.  A product of the need for more socio-emotional developmental education on the teacher's part or a teacher's misguided, willful decision to contribute to a system that works to crank out compliant, stifled children rather than confident, free-thinking children.

Check out my article about my journey as a teacher discovering my own control issues, and coming to terms with them.

When I travel to early childhood centers to help remedy their practices, I rip these suckers off of the wall in front of the teacher who probably spent two or three hours of prime "connecting with children" time cutting and laminating them so that they could bang the metaphorical gavel on these kids' heads whenever they "stepped out of line". And I do it with pride in my heart. I don't damage the thing, I don't burn it in front of them, but we take a look at something that has so much power and weight being lifted off of its throne and I say, "this should not be replacing your understanding and connection with these children." I then work with the teacher to address their concerns and needs and I help find a developmentally appropriate way to meet them so they can work in a stress-free environment that works to do best for the children in their care. The goal is to solve problems for the teacher so the teacher can go forth and solve problems rather than reducing them to a rainbow behavior chart on the wall.

If I were to make a job performance chart that rated every teacher's job performance on a scale of green to red and pinned that teacher's name for all of their students, peers, colleagues, administrators, and the students' parents to see--based solely off of my opinion of their job performance--these same teachers would be livid with me, right? Usually at that point, most teachers are on board.

The pushback when I wage war on public shaming--and that's what it is, no matter how "nice" you word the chart--is that there's no other way to manage behavior. But here's my ammo: if a teacher needs this at all, if they have this hanging on their wall, they're not managing behavior, they're threatening it by holding a child's reputation hostage. They're trying to make the negative behaviors go away because they're too routined with this lazy technique and too steadfast in their control to actually deal with them in a developmentally appropriate way. They're telling kids: the most important reason to meet my requirements of you is because you need to care about what the teacher and all of your friends think of you.

Positive peer pressure is still peer pressure, friends. It's still just as damaging and sets just as dangerous a precedent.

These charts effectively teach children that they should be compliant so that they can gain their dear leader's love. These teach children that they should be compliant so that they can be like the other kids who are "good".  These teach children that if they don't behave, it will be posted for everyone to see. These teach children that if they're not compliant at school, they will be ratted out. That is not acceptable. If you're dealing with behavioral problems through the transitive property, nothing is being solved. The child isn't benefiting, you are.

I visited a center a few months ago where a preschool teacher had given behavior charts up because one day, a child who was "on red" was spanked in front of her very eyes by his father because of that. It had visibly shaken her to the point where, even six months after the fact, it reduced her to tears. She, at that moment, realized why that child often acted out about the color chart. She decided that children feeling completely safe, secure, and open with her was more important than having control over them. I had a very similar experience to turn me off of these horrific tools, so this hit home with me as well.

Beyond the strong-willed kids, we have to think about those kids who always stay on the green. Think about how incredibly resented they become because their teacher is constantly looking at them and saying in the nicest, kindest way, "you're doing such a good job staying on green today!" because apparently ostracizing the bad from the good and ostracizing the good with the love of only the teacher is "behavior management". Me? I think it's abuse. Teachers that do this are not just cranking out compliant children. They're cranking out real, human persons with severe social deficits. But, like, in a totally cute, pinterest-worthy way.

Our job, as early childhood educators, is to build children up, regardless of their behavior. To teach children how to resolve conflict with words instead of threats and punishments. To model healthy power by not making them compete for our positive attention and affection. To be present and empathetic of every "behavior problem" rather than passive, disengaging, transitive, and brutal.

Our job, as early childhood educators, is to deal with conflict resolution by teaching the importance of talking it out, rather than making children feel ashamed that they had a conflict to begin with.

Our job, as early childhood educators, is to get over it when kids tell us "no", because we are not always right, and children have all of the same rights as any other human being. If you wouldn't be comfortable saying it or doing it to a stranger on the street, then you definitely shouldn't say it or do it to a child that trusts you.

If I asked for a discount at the store, and the clerk told me "no," I wouldn't tell them to go sit in a corner. If I asked for a raise, and my boss told me "no", I wouldn't tell them "I guess you're on red then today." If the table next to me at a restaurant was talking too loud, I wouldn't turn around and tell them to be silent or say "I shouldn't hear your voices!" You see, all of these things would be called "being a jerk".  So, let's stop being jerks to kids. Let's stop raising kids to be jerks, too, while we're at it.

There's just absolutely no way around it. If you have a behavior chart or any behavior scale located in your classroom, you are failing the children in your care. It's time to let them go.

No child should be having hyperventilations when their parents show up and they're "on red". Isolating children from their peers to reflect how isolated they are from your heart is only going to lead to more isolation. Stop pushing problems under a rug, and get a grip on them.  If you're strong enough to be a teacher and choose this profession, you're strong enough to be an introspective one.

Burn it, and release your control issues with it.

If you find yourself struggling with the information in this article, would like to explore alternatives to the behavior chart, or your counter-argument involves any sort of tone-policing, please refer to this follow-up article.

Also, Check out this article about my experience with control issues of my own.

Travis J. Tagart / Head of School / Vice President 
owner@foundationsnebraska.com / 402 - 853 - 3491
Foundations Progressive Learning Center, Inc. 
Office: 402 - 805 - 4886  N 14th St Suite 101 Lincoln, Nebraska  68521 
www.foundationsnebraska.comFoundations

Normal vs Natural Parenting

fear-love-buttonThere is a world of difference between normal and natural. Traditional and typical parenting approaches and practices appear normal, as things usually done. Natural is how you at when you're not trying to be normal. Acting with love is the most natural thing you can do. Act with love and you will act naturally. Reacting from fear may appear normal, but it will never be natural.
Choose love.
B.