Emotions are important, and not just for all the touchy feely reasons that people might automatically think about. Emotions are important because we now understand the power of emotional input to create neural pathways. I mentioned in my post, “I’m the Angry Dad,” how experiencing anger from a parent (specifically me) affects children. Rather than getting built up in their confidence, good behavior, ability to achieve, and sense of belonging, parental anger reinforces brain pathways that tell kids: “I screwed up. I don’t deserve respect. My family isn’t a safe place. I don’t like myself.”
Lets be clear about one thing before we go any further. Learning techniques to help kids overcome anger or any other negative influence doesn’t remove the responsibility I (or you) have to do personal work so those negative influence don’t happen in the first place. I’m the dad. If I get angry a lot, I need to learn to overcome. Get in touch with me for resources.
Now I’m going to share a powerful technique for turning things around. By reinforcing brain connections to the good stuff, we can transfer energy from the negative connections created by anger and other junk. With time, the new, good connections get stronger, and those old, unused, negative pathways get weaker and weaker until they don’t fire automatically. Creating new connections for kids is surprisingly easy to do and incredibly effective. We start by using the script “When you ______, I feel ______, because.” For example:
- “When you brought your plate to the kitchen I appreciated it. It helps cleaning up go much faster.”
- “I love it when you drive your sister to dance because then I can finish up other things.”
- “When you unloaded the dishwasher and took out the garbage without being reminded, I feel so proud and happy about how responsible you were being.”
Using the script as a guide can get you started until it comes more naturally and you can use your own words. Try to match as much energy to the positive things kids do as your anger did to negative brain connections. While this technique may seem too simple to be effective, you’ll be amazed at the huge difference it makes when used consistently.
Of course, this is only the first (but a very significant) step toward great parenting and turning around negative patterns. Don’t hesitate to contact me now for more. I don’t promote the parent coaching I provide for personal reasons. I promote it because there’s not enough time, space, or personal contact here to teach you how to do it effectively. Don’t let another day go by before you transform your family dynamics and children’s behavior.
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