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Archive for the ‘Anger’ Category

When Mary walked into my office for her therapy appointment, she wasn’t a happy camper. When I asked her what was going on, she said she was furious at her daughter, Alice, who’s seven. In Mary’s evaluation, her daughter is extremely rebellious.

“How so?” I asked.

“If I try to hurry her up, she slows down.”

“If we tell her she can’t go outside to play, she runs out the door anyway. Or she’s supposed to stay in the backyard, but I find her at the neighbors down the street.

“This morning I had a baby sitter lined up. But Alice didn’t want to stay with the sitter. So I decided to let her come along to this appointment, with the stipulation that she would have to sit quietly in the waiting room.

“We were pulling out of the driveway when Alice realized she’d forgotten her book. I let her go back in the house but told her to hurry. Five minutes later I had to get out of the car and go get her. There she was in the kitchen fixing herself a glass of juice. I should have left her at home, but I didn’t.”

As Mary and I continued talking, we heard a little knock on my door and then it opened. There stood Alice. Mary looked at her daughter and said firmly, “You can’t come in here.” The daughter stepped back and it looked as though she was going to leave and close the door.

The mother then added, “I told you before we left the house that you’d have to wait for me in the waiting room.” With this comment, the little girl grinned ever so slightly and stepped into the room. It was evident to me that the power struggle was on.

As an observer, I suspect that if Mary hadn’t said anything more to her daughter after her first comment, but had immediately turned her attention back on the two of us talking, Alice would have closed the door and gone back into the waiting room. But when her mother gave her an additional warning, the little girl must have felt challenged and she reacted.

I saw a similar dynamic take place several days later when I was working with a mother and her adolescent daughter. They were seeing me because the mother was feeling more than annoyed at her daughter’s rebelliousness. The girl talks back, doesn’t come home on time, refuses to do her chores, and helps herself to her mother’s clothes whenever she wants.

During the session the daughter started twirling, lasso-style, a long chain she was wearing with a large polished stone attached to the end of it. The mother looked at her daughter and said, “Please stop that.” The daughter looked at her mother and continued to twirl the chain.

Again the mother said, “Stop,” but this time she said it with a little playful laugh.

At this point a noticeable grin came over the daughter’s face, she started swinging the necklace more vigorously, and the power struggle was on.

Children need to flex their rebellious muscle once in a while as a way to reach independence, and parents need to take on their children to teach them how to behave. Sometimes, however, we parents inadver­tently encourage our children to get into bigger power struggles than need be.

For example, it’s understandable why Mary told her daughter a second time not to come into my office. She already had to deal with several other issues that morning. Too, she was probably feeling anxious about how I perceived her as a parent, and she didn’t want her therapy time wasted.

But sometimes one firm no works better than two. If a parent says no and immediately turns her attention elsewhere, she closes off a power struggle by refusing to participate. One no doesn’t always work -rebellious children are tenacious – but sometimes it does.

In the second situation, the mother might have outsmarted her daughter and said nothing. I’m sure her daughter would have gotten tired of twirling. When children do something that is obviously designed to get them negative attention, sometimes it’s better not to give it to them.

Once the mother decided to confront her daughter, however, she needed to hang tough and stick with the confrontation. The Mother’s little laugh could certainly be interpreted as encouraging her daughter to be rebellious. Or it could signal her daughter that she wanted to stay friends with her. When you decide to take on a child’s rebelliousness, you must be willing to take the risk that a child is not going to like you.

If it seems that you’re struggling over every little issue with your child, it may help to keep the following in mind:

*One forceful no is sometimes better than two.

*Saying nothing, even when you don’t approve of what your child is doing, is sometimes the most effective response.

*When you find yourself in a power struggle, check to see if you’re doing anything to encourage it, like smiling or lecturing on and on.

Your child is not going to like you very much when you take her on. At the same time, her negativism toward you won’t last forever. And confronting bad behavior is a necessary part of child rearing.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

 

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She is absolutely unforgiving of her husband. She keeps a ledger in her head of all slights and perceived infractions of the last 22 years. She’s still angry at him for not sending her flowers when their first baby came. It doesn’t count that he gave her a necklace to welcome the birth of their child. No amount of “I’m sorrys” seems to soften her or make a difference. She lets nothing go. With every argument she brings up the same old issues.

Some years ago he made a five thousand dollar investment that turned sour. She never lets him forget. No matter that he’s since made a number of good investments.

She can’t stand his family and constantly puts down his relatives. She talks against them whenever an opportunity presents itself.

As they are leaving a party, she criticizes the other guests. If someone is doing well financially she says it’s because they probably inherited the money. If she hears about a child’s success, she quickly follows up with a negative comment about the family.

She has little tolerance for her children’s bad behavior. Every infraction is major and calls for a lecture and a punishment.

Perhaps her body language is most hurtful. When her husband talks, she rolls her eyes and tilts her head to indicate he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. She often has a look of displeasure on her face when he’s talking. He can’t remember the last time she smiled when he walked in the room or laughed at something he said.

Even though he’s fifty pounds heavier and eight inches taller than his wife, he’s a little afraid of her. She’s never come after him physically, but he’s afraid of what she’s going to say, the lectures that follow his behavior, the looks of disdain.

She’s nice to other people. She runs errands for an elderly woman who lives next door. She’s pleasant to anyone who calls on the telephone. She chats with the clerk at the grocery store. She’s responsible at work. She volunteers at her children’s schools. What he keeps looking for are signs that she loves him.

In the past few years he’s been making more of a life away from her. He’s gotten interested in tennis. He’s been running. He’s been seeing a therapist. He’s been working on changing some of his behaviors. He has made an effort to spend more time with her going to the movies and taking short vacations. He has consciously given her more strokes. He has been trying to gently point out when he thinks her negativism or anger at their children is too much. He’s done more around the house. He’s not interested in another woman. He’s been faithful. He believes in marriage. They have children and history. They are financially tied together.

But soon he’ll leave her.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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Why DO people hold grudges?

I was talking with a woman the other day and she said that her uncle had just died, an uncle she remembered only vague­ly.

It seems that when this woman was small, she was at a family party, and her three-year-old sister kicked the uncle in the shins. The uncle impulsively picked up the little girl, turned her over his knee, and spanked her. An argument ensued between the girl’s father and the uncle. For the next 35 years the two families remained estranged.

The woman’s father attempted to get the families back together a time or two, calling at Christmas to offer good cheer. But the uncle chose to remain angry-righteous, holding tightly to his grudge. Consequently, the families never saw each other again.

Not only did this woman lose contact with her only aunt and uncle, but she lost the relationship with her three cousins whom she loved dearly.

She, of course, wasn’t the only one who suffered from the grudge. Her sister and her mother also missed these relatives. Her father never saw his sister, his nephews, or his brother-in-law again. Family parties and get-togethers ended. “And my poor grandmother never was able to have all of her children and their families together,” said the woman.

As she told her story, I thought: This is a true human tragedy because all it would have taken to mend things between the two families was forgiveness.

If someone is holding a grudge because of your behavior, rush to make a phone call now and ask for forgiveness. If you are the one holding the grudge, let go of your bad feelings and re-establish contact today.

If you have second thoughts about mending a fence, think of all the other people whom you are inadvertently hurting because of your position. Think of the woman who lost her aunt and uncle and her cousins because of one family argument that was never resolved.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

 

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I was sitting with my mother in the hospital lobby once waiting until we could see my father in the intensive care unit. Mom and I were talking and smiling. Perhaps for the first time in days we felt that everything was going to be okay with Dad.

Across the lobby was a young woman with two small children about two and four years old. As we talked, I noticed the littlest child have a bit of a temper tantrum, fussing and tugging to get away from his mother’s grip.

The mother was holding onto the child’s sleeve and trying to balance a plate of cookies in her other hand.

I must have looked away when all of a sudden the woman was standing in front of us. She leaned forward and said in a most hostile voice, “Are you having a good time?”

Caught off guard, I automatically turned my head around, thinking the woman must be yelling at someone behind us. But there was no one there. The woman stormed past with her children and disappeared down the hall.

My mom was clearly shaken. In that moment she looked like a little girl who had just been severely reprimanded. I didn’t feel so great either. It’s no fun having someone yell at you. I put my arm around my mother and patted her on the back and told her I loved her.

What I concluded was that the woman must have decided that we were enjoying her predicament. She had presumed to make herself the center of our attention. Yet at no time had my mother or I even commented about the woman and her children. If anything, the two of us were her allies, because we, too, have struggled with young children.

The sad thing was that because this woman had assumed that we were laughing at her, she made herself a victim, and in turn victimized us.

Although most people could probably say they would never behave in such a mean-spirited way, most of us make false assumptions rather routinely. Often these assumptions are based on seeing oneself as the center of the world.

For example: the boss calls a co-worker into his office, and you wonder if they’re talking about you. Your husband turns on the radio when the two of you get into the car, and you think he’s trying to avoid talking to you. You have a great date with a new man. He doesn’t telephone for a few days, and you decide he doesn’t like you. Your boss sounds irritated, and you think he’s mad at you.

When you’re not sure what’s really going on and you make an assumption, think beyond yourself. Make yet one more assumption.

Examples: Perhaps my boss is mad because he didn’t like what I had to say at the meeting. Or, perhaps my boss is mad because he just lost a big account.

Perhaps my husband turns on the car radio to avoid talking. Or perhaps he turns on the car radio because he likes music.

Perhaps those women across the lobby think I’m not a good mother. Or perhaps those women are happy because their relative is starting to fuss about hospital food and soon will go home.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.

Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

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A man I see in therapy explained.

I had an affair two years ago and my wife won’t get off of it. She constantly brings up the affair. She says I don’t understand how hurt she is. I say, “Hey I gave up the affair. I apologized. I’m here. Get over it.” What can I do to get her to stop thinking about the past?

Man, you don’t get it. It takes about 5 years to get over an affair, and then rarely does trust come back 100%. Each time your wife brings up the affair, something has triggered her bad feelings. And I bet there are plenty of times when your wife doesn’t bring up your affair even though she’s had thought of it and felt the hurt.

Instead of telling your wife to get over it, which is incredibly insensitive, apologize again and again for the hurt you have caused her. For example, “I’m so sorry I hurt you. I love you. I care about you. You’re the best. And again, I am really sorry.”

After several thousand sincere apologies, yes, several thousand, such as the one above, your wife will be more able to move on in her life without being reminded on a daily basis.

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide” and “Thin Becomes You”.
Doris’ web page: www.doriswildhelmering.com

 

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I want to know how can I control my temperament/anger, and increase my patience with my 3 year old son. I am out of energy, struggling with my weight/shape, time management and level of responsibility at work. I feel like a zombie.

Three year olds can be a handful and everyone seems to be overwhelmed today. Regarding your anger and weight, try this affirmation, “I choose not to be angry or overeat, I choose to be in control.”

Why this particular affirmation? Because it addresses both of your issues, anger and weight and the mere repetition of the affirmation will help you feel more calm. Say it several thousands times a day (no joking!).

Check out Doris’ latest books, “The Boy Whose Idea Could Feed the World” (a middle grade read) as well as, “The Parent Teacher Discussion Guide.” www.doriswildhelmering.com

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Pouting closes off communication channels between parent and child.

Dear Pouting Parent,

Did you know that pouting closes off communication?

Pouting says I refuse to be close.

Pouting is a form of anger.

Parent, you can’t fix the problem when you pout.

It’s okay to be quiet and back off from your child when you’re ready to chew a nail because of his or her behavior. At the same time, answer your child when she tries to talk to you. If she tries to make small talk, understand that it is her way of saying, “Let’s be friends” and her attempt to get back in your good graces.

At some point, discuss her infraction and what you would like to have happen differently in the future. For example, you might say, “I’m very disappointed in the way you acted when your friends were over. As an apology and a gesture of good will, I’d like you to take out the trash and shred that stack of papers in my office. Once you do these chores, I’ll put away my bad feelings, and we can be friends again.”

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