Category Archives: Family

Control your emotions. Maintain a happy heart

In a battle of wits and mental endurance: the younger the child, the greater the stamina.

 

This is my second post in the series, “Who is in control”. We’re talking about the dynamics of family (in my case, a family of six) and my quest to not screw up my kids so much that they need professional help…

 

“Who is in control of you? It’s not me. I can be, if you want me to be, but that’s not the best answer answer. That’s right…YOU are in control of you!”

When it comes down to it, we are only ever supposed to control ourselves. Our different levels of authority in life will mean we have varying levels of authority within certain boundaries, but in the end, we are always in control of our body, our thoughts and our emotions.

The longer we believe someone else is in control of us, the more powerless we allow ourselves to become. It’s like self-inflicted catch-22.

From the day-naught, we started teach our kids two very important life-lessons: “Control your emotions” and “Maintain a happy heart”. You may not be able to control your environment, and you certainly will never be able to control the actions of those around you, but you are always able to control how you will respond within that environment. Control your emotions and maintain a happy heart.

Kids, being kids, will always reach a moment in time when the world seems to come crashing down around them and all hope is lost. Whether it’s hunger pains or the sound of the evil “N” word (“no” or “nap”, take your pick), something will inevitably trigger a cyclonic rush of emotion and tears.

Here’s my take on the matter: I don’t actually have a problem with my kids freaking out, screaming, stamping their feet or holding their breath. What I do have a problem with is when it disturbs my calm or that of those around me. In these instances, when my children cannot fully appreciate the depth of their social responsibility, I tend to limit the range of their outburst. I don’t want to teach them that showing emotion is wrong, but if they are around others, they need to control HOW that emotion is displayed. If they cannot, a more appropriate venue will be chosen (like their bedroom, for instance, with the door shut) where they can wail and moan and gnash their teeth until they are ready to talk about their problem and enable me to help them to solve it.

Here’s the important part: this is not a time out. Nor is it any form of discipline whatsoever. It is simply them choosing to not control their emotions and handing over that control to me. They can have it back whenever they want. They just need to show they are ready to handle it again. Their door isn’t locked and they can come out whenever they like. Sometimes it’s five minutes, other times it’s a lot longer. I’m not too worried, though. I know they’ll figure it out. And if they need help, I’m only in the next room.

On occasion, we have been known to help them find their ‘happy hearts’, which can sometimes be lost in the strangest of places.

I guess your happy heart needed a wash...

 

So what’s your take on this? Does your child ever lose the plot or is that just ours? How do you handle the tantrums, toy-throws and dummy-spits? Or do you just put in the noise-cancelling headphones and listen to Adele (which, I admit, is not a bad idea!)?


Who Is In Control?

A running theme in our household is, “Who is in control?” We often ask our kids this question and rarely need to remind them of the answer… which might not be what you think.

As a parent, and being the biggest and strongest, it’s easy to get this wrong and ‘assume’ control (or, more accurately, “usurp control”) over the little ones in your house. But being the biggest and the strongest doesn’t equal control and nor should it. Raising kids this way only teaches dependence instead of self-respect.

No, the answer to the question, “who is in control?” is ME. As in, you. Or my kids. Or anyone else who might be reading this. YOU are in control and only you can be in control of you. Anything else is dysfunctional.

This is where I’ve seen a lot of parents (and managers, for that matter) come unstuck. Authority should never be confused with control and only in the most dysfunctional of situations should authority override an individual’s ability to control themselves.

So where does that leave us parents?

Well, with this in mind, over the next couple of weeks, I am starting a series on the theme “Who is in control?” I’m not going to assume I know everything there is to know about parenting, nor will I suggest that everyone should do it our way. I will only discuss some principles and techniques that work (or don’t work) in our house. Feel free to use, copy or simply disregard. Ask questions, offer your own advice or request a post on a specific topic.

Overall, I hope you find it thought-provoking.


Sleep, Eat, Fun

We have four kids. Two girls, two boys. Oldest is 5. Youngest is 3 months. Three had/have reflux, all are picky eaters and none ever want to go to sleep.

They are also the best kids on the planet!
They are mostly polite, mostly well behaved and they mostly love each other. They respond to correction, enjoy learning and make me laugh.

It seems that no one told me this was to be a funny photo!

Are my kids different from any other kids? As much as the father in me would say “Yes!”, I actually think not. As parents, we have struggled with the same difficulties and rejoiced in the same breakthroughs as most other families. Our kids are not miracle kids. They didn’t take their first breath of fresh air and ask to go to sleep (and they learn pretty quickly that more fun is had while awake), nor do they immediately want to “put down Daddy’s iPad and sit up for dinner.” No, we had to teach them all of that along with the fun and games.

Remember, their job is to discover the world, our job is to facilitate that discovery. Both sides of that equation are important. Let’s not remove either one!