Tag Archives: Soulful Saturday

Energy Match for Emotional Repair

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:

  1. “When you brought your plate to the kitchen I appreciated it. It helps cleaning up go much faster.”
  2. “I love it when you drive your sister to dance because then I can finish up other things.”
  3. “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. 651-274-0031


Posted by on April 20, 2010 in Present Moment Parenting


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“Put ’em in jail!”

The jury is in on emotional intelligence and the verdict is that boys benefit from being able to understand, express, and control their feelings.  However, raising an emotionally strong son is tricky in a culture that tells boys they’re sissies if they don’t toughen-up and stuff their feelings. Male stereotypes are at best stoic and often come across as emotionally illiterate. What’s a dad to do to? Here’s a personal story about my son and me.

If Braden, who just turned three, gets disappointed about something, it can be hard to pull him out of the nose-dive. Emotions are really concrete for boys his age, and they run the show. A good example is when he wants to play with toys, and I want him to get in the car to go to an appointment. He usually becomes very sad and disappointed.

Since little guys don’t have a lot of control in their lives, one way they exert power passively is by changing their speed. When I want to get-in-the-car-and-go, he slows to something between a standstill and a snail’s pace. The real issue, however, isn’t the speed. It’s helping deal with his sadness, disappointment, and anger by giving him a sense of power and control.

Braden LOVES stories, so in the moment when the nosedive begins, I think of a mini-tale. “Hey, let me tell you a story.”

He looks up instead of lying down on the floor, so I know I have an opening. I pick him up and say, “Let me tell you a story about what you can do with your feelings.”

Three-year-olds are very concrete, so I grab my shirt by my chest and pretended I am pulling something off of it. Then I hold my fist out in front of me. I say, “You can grab feelings you don’t want and hold them in your hand like this. You try it.”

He smiles and copies me. “And then you can THROW ‘EM AWAY.” I make a big throwing motion with my hand as I enthusiastically say the words. He does the same.

“After that, you can grab some good feelings and pull them down to your heart.” As I say this, I reach up to the ceiling, make a fist, pull it down, and open my hand onto my heart. I tell him to do the same thing. “Doesn’t that feel GOOD?”

He says, “YES!” and the nosedive is over.  For the purists out there, I admit that this wasn’t really a story, but the boy never would have bit the bait if I’d said, “Hey, let me teach you a coping strategy you can use.”

Dads can feel self-conscious about being so dramatic. It doesn’t match the masculine code. I don’t mind saying that there is a part of me that thinks it’s REALLY cheesy too. But for the very same reasons that I think it’s silly, Braden thinks it’s great. All boys like humor and fun, and little ones especially need lessons like this to be tangible. All kids enjoy it when Dad acts a little goofy, so for their sake (and our own health) sometimes we just need to loosen up a little.

As we were walking up the steps, Braden wrapped things up by saying, “Dad, I just threw those bad feelings in jail!”

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Posted by on March 28, 2010 in Present Moment Parenting


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