Release destructive emotions


Chill Out Helper Words

I Love You So Big! Blog – Lynne Namka, © 2011-14

“So think as if your every thought were to be etched in fire upon the sky for all and everything to see. For so, in truth, it is. So speak as if the world entire were but a single ear intent upon hearing what you say. For so, in truth, it is.So do as if your every deed were to recoil upon your head. For so, in truth, it is. So wish as if you were the truth. And so, in truth, you are.” – Mikhail Nimay,  Book of Mirdad

Listen to yourself, your spouse and other members of your household. What is the quality of the ways you speak to each other? If there are sharp tongues, sarcasm and loud tones in your household, your child will use the same kind of talk. Children act out what they hear in the home. You can’t expect your child to be loving if you or someone else in your home is critical and rude. If you or someone else in the family is constantly irritable or angry, then take responsibility for it and get some professional help. Parent to child anger and vice versa gets worse during the teen years. Yeah, if it is broke, fix it.

chill out helper words, sarcasm, express anger, cool down techniques

If you want to have a peaceful household, it is absolutely imperative that family members learn some cool down techniques to deal with anger.

If you want to have a peaceful household, it is absolutely imperative that family members learn some cool down techniques to deal with anger. Talk to your family about stopping the sharp tongues and sarcasm. Tell them you are starting a new family tradition of learning to express anger in safe, appropriate ways.

Learn to bite your tongue and fire up your Inner Censor when you are having a “Teen Intensive Day.” Stop yourself from blurting out whatever comes to your mind. Do some isolation yourself to get away when it becomes too challenging. Teach your child Chill Out Words Helper Words by modeling them yourself when you are upset.

  • I can handle this. I tell myself to calm down.
  • I remind myself to breathe deeply and cool down.
  • I’ll take a moment to chill. I’ll turn my hot thoughts down.
  • I’d better take a time out and go somewhere to reflect on this.
  • My bad feelings come and go. I can let them go if I share them.
  • It is okay to be angry. I can talk about my anger.

Keep telling your child that they are responsible for how they think. They can learn and use more productive ways of thinking that will empower them. Your own use use of cool-down words when you are upset gives your child positive messages to carry around when you are not present. You model the very behavior that you want from your child. The small amount of time that you spend in teaching your child chill down statements will save you from time spent on reprimands.

Speak with love when you discipline your children. More parenting information is available at Learn more about helping your child with angry feelings from my article A Letter to Parents of Children with Problems of Anger.

The No Sweat, Low Key, Leave a Child Feeling Good Method of Discipline

I Love You So Big! Blog – Lynne Namka, © 2011-13

“Children need love even when they don’t deserve it!” – Anonymous parent (In truth, we all deserve love, even if we made a mistake.)

Business management experts, Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson in The One Minute Mother and The One Minute Father give a great parenting technique which is a take off from their business model of managing people. Their reprimand process helps YOU break into your mean-spirited anger and lengthy tirades. This one-minute approach puts a time limit on your own anger outburst and encourages your child to do better next time. It bypasses blame and punishment, which do not work to change behavior, and leaves your child thinking. Thinking about what he or she did wrong and how to correct it, instead of becoming angry! The One Minute Reprimand builds self-esteem in your child while you are correcting him. What a novel idea!

one minute reprimand, method of displine, parenting technique

The One Minute Reprimand holds you to a one-minute correction procedure and gives the child a compliment so that he does not tune out. Brilliant!

Limiting your anger by using this technique will help you break into the most breakdowns in parent/child relationships–parent deafness! Kids learn to shut out long lecturing parents! Shutting out what we do not want to hear is normal human behavior. The One Minute Reprimand holds you to a one-minute correction procedure and gives the child a compliment so that he does not tune out. Brilliant! Get one of these books immediately and commit this technique to memory!

The One-Minute Reprimand (My slightly modified version of the Blanchard and Johnson technique)

  1. Tell your child beforehand that you are going to let him know how he is to do in no uncertain terms.
  2. Reprimand your child immediately. Tell him specifically what he did wrong in one sentence.
  3. Tell him how disappointed, upset, sad, frustrated, angry you are.
  4. Stop and let it sink in. Allow a half moment of uncomfortable silence where he gets how you feel. If he starts to get defensive or angry, say, “Hold on. I’m not finished yet.”
  5. Reach out to your child physically in a friendly manner. Shake hands, pat him on the back, or touch him in a way that lets him know that you are on his side despite your upset feelings at his behavior.
  6. Remind him how much you value him, what a cool person he is, etc.
  7. Reaffirm that you think well of him, but not his behavior. (You area a great kid who messed up!)
  8. Remind him that you realize he will make a better choice next time.
  9. Let it go. No lectures. No more. Just stop. Realize when the reprimand is over, it’s over. End the correction with a positive! Change the subject. Give a smile, a hug or an acknowledgement. Leave the room with him scratching his head wondering where his formerly acting out parent had gone. End the talk with you believing in your child and his ability to make good choices. (Smiling, not moralizing.)

Get your own copy of The One Minute Mother and The One Minute Father Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson. These small books are invaluable for your parenting library. They can be found online at most bookstores that feature used books at a small price.

The Three Steps of Harville Hendrix’s Intentional Dialogue

I Love You So Big! Blog – Lynne Namka, © 2011-13

“I believe in the sun even when it’s not shining. I believe in love even when not feeling it. I believe in God Even when He is silent.” – Anonymous

Intentional Dialogue is a process of communication that you and your partner can learn to create an atmosphere of safety. It is also a great way to validate your child and help him or her open up more. Using this communication tool with your partner really helps him or her feel safe and listened too. It works if it is done right to recreate that sense of connection that healthy families have.

intentional diologue, harville hendirx, active listening, communication tool

Empathy is the greatest gift you can give your partner when he or she is hurting. It helps a person be seen and feel totally understood.

What we all really want is to be understood and accepted for whom we are. To really live in Conscious Relationship, in my opinion, Intentional Dialogue is the best tool for keeping love alive. Having someone really listen to you is as close to unconditional love we can get in our lifetime. Empathy is the greatest gift you can give your partner when he or she is hurting. It helps a person be seen and feel totally understood. The childhood wounds no longer are so deep when we are truly heard and understood.

A recipe for having a loving relationship equals commitment, learning powerful, how-to-stay-connected techniques during times of stress and darn hard work. This formula is doable for those determined to be happy in relationship. The Imago Therapy Tools help you keep the love you want and become a responsible, loving adult secure in the knowledge that you are truly seen and heard.

Here is the short version of the three steps of Hendrix’s Intentional Dialogue:

  1. Mirror back what your child said and ask for more. This shows your child that you are willing to take the time to truly listen to him. It is an active listening technique which forces you to pay attention instead of planning a retort or a correction.
  2. Validate his message by saying that it makes sense from his point of view. You don’t have to agree with what your child says. You do have to walk in his footsteps about this issue and see it from his point of view. “Given who you are and where you are coming from, I can understand why you would think this way.
  3. Empathize and guess his feelings. When you take it to a feeling level, your child will feel more understood and most likely will stop feeling hurt and angry. If you don’t guess the correct feelings, chances are your child will correct you.

If you have a youngster who doesn’t talk much, you still have the opportunity for letting him or her know what you stand for. Talk with your friends about what you value (not what you do not like in young people) where your child will over hear you. Or talk out loud to yourself. Remember the saying, “Little pitchers have big ears?” Children are natural eavesdroppers. Share your feelings and your joys and frustrations about life. Comment out loud about role models and the inappropriateness of some commercials. Talk about the important family values that you want to impart to your child. If he or she has a friend that is more talkative, engage them in conversation so that your child can overhear positive ideas. Ask for their perspective on issues and get your own opinions known.

Here’s a popular quote to be passed on from my teacher, Virginia Satir whose legacy on the web is at

“I believe the greatest gift I can conceive of having from anyone is to be seen, heard, understood and touched by them. The greatest gift I can give is to see, hear, understand and touch another person. When this is done, I feel contact has been made.” – Virginia Satir

Imago Therapy – Making Your Relationship Conscious

I Love You So Big! Blog – Lynne Namka, © 2011-13

“The FREEDOM to see and hear what is here, instead of what should be, was, or will be. The FREEDOM to say what you feel and think, instead of what you should. The FREEDOM to feel what you feel, instead of what you ought. The FREEDOM to ask for what you want, instead of always waiting for permission. The FREEDOM to take risks in your own behalf, instead of choosing to be only “secure” and not rock the boat.” – Virginia Satir

One of the best things you can teach your children is how to be a loving human being. Partners and families sometimes fall out of love. Harville Hendrix gives you guideline on how to get the love back. Remember when you first fell in love with your partner and how the world was so rosy and your partner was simply wonderful? And how you felt deeply connected and understood? Ahh, the joys of the early part of relationship.

conscious relationship, imago therapy, open communication, intentional dialogue

Imago Therapy presents safe ways of relating to each other that helps both partners feel heard and understood by the other and moving toward creating a spiritually conscious union.

What we really want is to be truly understood. And to be really seen by the person we care about. To find someone who can read our minds and meet our needs. To find true love and intimacy that lasts a lifetime. To be loved unconditionally by our partner. To get the “Happy Ever After” promised by fairy tales. We want love especially when we are angry and wounded by our partner.

We want to work through the unfinished childhood agenda with our partner. We want to stay in that euphoric space of new love. But despite our deep longing to be connected with the one we choose to be with, it rarely happens. Most often, when one partner is angry, the other person becomes angry back or shuts down. During conflict, the two partners disconnect from each other. The relationship suffers as people become disillusioned with their partner. The two people may even secretly start to look for exits from the relationship. Common exits are addictions, silence and withdrawal, increased fighting, self blame and depression, anxiety and threatening to leave the relationship.

The main purpose of a committed love relationship is to become a responsible loving adult and complete unresolved childhood issues says Harville Hendrix, Getting the Love You Want–a Guide for Couples and Keeping the Love You Find -a Guide for Singles.  Hendrix’s approach, more than any other current marriage counseling model, helps couples move their union towards a Conscious Relationship.

Hendrix fashioned the name Imago Therapy to illustrate how we fall in love with the image that we put on another person. And we fall in love with those chemicals that the rush of new love brings. You have heard that love is blind? We don’t see the real person, imperfections and all, but we put our illusion of what we expect in a romantic relationship on the other person. Later, when the bloom goes off the romance, we have to deal with what the person is really like.

Imago Therapy teaches major tools of communication and connection to bond people who love each other together. Blaming, criticizing, withdrawing and pouting are the common distancing defenses in relationships. The big challenge for a happy relationship is to stop using these destructive defenses! We can replace these negative defenses with actions that keep us in partnership even when times get rough.

“We all got wounded in relationship as children with our parents and siblings,” Bonnie Brinkman, Imago Therapist, explains. “The healing can only come in relationship. We need our partners for this. The old mom and dad stuff becomes the template for selecting a partner. We choose people to be in relationship with that represents the best and worst of our parents. The psyche holds an unconscious agenda to select the right person who can help us heal. Hendrix says that our partner, with all of their frustration about us has the blueprint for our healing.”

The heart of Imago Therapy is to use the relationship to mend the pain of being hurt and disappointed in childhood. Brinkman continues, “We are the walking wounded. Our partner holds the blueprint for our healing and growth. The elegance of this process is that we heart flutter over only a few people in the entire world. We fall in like with some of them and then find a person to fall in love with and hook up with. We unconsciously pick the perfect partner to help us do the growing up work. God, the Universe, Fate or whatever you call it helps us zero in on that perfect partner who will push our buttons so we can get on with our work. There are no accidents why we get together with the person we choose out of all the millions of potential partners. The one we choose is someone who is familiar to us–we have met aspects of them before in our mother and father. That sets the stage for doing the work of growing past our present defenses.”

In the Power Struggle stage of relationships, the partners become stuck in trying to tell the other what to do and gathering data to make the other person wrong, at least in their own eyes. Conflict sends grownups, back into the defenses of their little child. There can be wounding if each person knows the trigger points of the other and goes for them pulling forth the defenses they learned as a child. In power struggles, nobody wins. But as the saying goes from A Course in Miracles, “Would you rather be right or happy?”

According to Brinkman, there are four options that happen in relationships where there are unresolved power struggles

1.  Adios! Start the cycle over. Find someone new with whom to move through chemical soup into power struggles.

2.  Have a silent divorce. Stay together for religious or financial reasons or fear of being alone and become roommates with passion for life atrophying.

3.  Become the Bickersons and fight over everything, constantly injuring each other emotionally.

4.  Start to cooperate with the unconscious agenda and use the volatile situations for growth. Learn techniques to stay connected during conflict and practice reconnection. This is the “becoming a grownup stage” called The Reality Love Stage.

Making Your Relationship Conscious

The next stage is The Reality Love Stage of relationship where we are presented with many challenging opportunities to use each other to put the childhood pain to rest. Like everything we have a fight – there is another growth opportunity. But of course, it is an opportunity only if we choose to make it one. Some couples never reach this stage, switching partners when fighting get too toxic.

A new set of relationship skills and tools are needed to get the Reality Love Stage. Moving past the Power Struggle stage, the couple begins to realize that not only is their job to grow up but their other job is to help their partner grow up.  Imago Therapy presents safe ways of relating to each other that helps both partners feel heard and understood by the other.  It provides a process to travel the path of creating a spiritually conscious union.

Intentional Dialogue – A Way to Keep Connected During Arguments

Intentional Dialogue gives you a process of obtaining The Five Freedoms and the ability to have intimacy that Virginia Satir, pioneer in family therapy talked about. What creates intimacy? What we really want is to be heard and feel safe with our partner. Hendrix’s technique of Intentional Dialogue is a way of relating to your partner when he or she is upset by something that you did. It is a process that keeps the contact going even in times of feeling threat and stress – IT KEEPS THE COUPLE CONNECTED EVEN WHEN THEY DISAGREE! Intentional Dialogue gives the partner the love and attention they need when they most need it.

Sound good? Well you can get it! You and your partner can find the Happy Ever After, after all. That is one of the greatest gifts you can give your children – parents who work together to keep the kindness and love going in their relationship.

But – it takes learning a process of active listening and hard work. It takes resolution from both partners to do Intentional Dialogue when friction starts to build up. It takes being able to be vulnerable and stomach some uncomfortable feelings. It takes you out of your comfort zone into really being REAL!  Ouch! It requires listening and talking from the open heart; now that is scary stuff. The payoff is that you and your partner become a team actively working though the rough spots in your relationship. It makes you conscious in your relationship. You can actually feel closer with your partner after an argument when you stick to the dialogue.

And the technique works in all relationships, not only in romantic relationships. It even works with adolescents! I highly recommend Hendrix and his wife, Helen Hunt’s book on parenting, Giving the Love That Heals.

Want more ideas to help create a healthy, happy family? I carry on my teacher, Virginia Satir’s ideas on creating functional families. Go to my web site and scroll down to the articles listed under COUPLES. You will find the latest research on how to achieve happiness in your relationship which is then passed down to security and self-esteem in your children.

Use the Intentional Dialogue Technique to Make a Positive Attitude Adjustment in Your Home

I Love You So Big! Blog – Lynne Namka, © 2011-13

“I wove my webs for you because I liked you. After all, what’s a life, anyway? We’re born, we live a little while, we die … By helping you, perhaps I was trying to lift up my life a trifle. Heavens knows anyone’s life can stand a little of that.”  - Charlotte from the book Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Harville Hendrix and his wife Helen Hunt have written two excellent books for parents called Getting the Love that Heals: a Guide for Parents and The Parent’s Companion: Meditations and Exercises for Giving the Love that Heals. Every home should have one of these books in their parenting library. Here are the three steps from their great communication enhancer called Intentional Dialogue. 

intentional dialogue, feelings, listening, empathy
Mirroring, Validate and Empathize are the three crucial steps from their great communication enhancer called Intentional Dialogue. Practice these step with your children and other to encourage honest, open communication.

1. MIRRORING: Parrot or paraphrase your child’s message back showing you got their viewpoint. Mirroring connects you with your child. It helps her feel like you are on the same wavelength as she is.

  • Let me see if I got this right . . .
  • I heard you say . . .
  • So you said…
  • Let me see if I understood this….

Then ask her for more. Get to the bottom of everything there is to be said about the topic. After you paraphrase, ask.

  • Is there more?
  • Tell me more about that.
  • Anything else?
  • Did I get it all?

Listen and repeat, and ask for more information is the basis of mirroring. Repeat what your child says until she wears her idea out. If you don’t get it right and she feels safe with you, she will clarify the message for you. Keep it going until the topic is exhausted for her.

2. VALIDATE what she has said: Validating is not agreeing with what your child says. It is accepting her feelings as being his true feelings. It is seeing it from her point of view. It is walking the mile in her shoes and understanding from her perspective. Never tell your child that she should not feel a certain way. Feelings are normal. Expressing them and being heard and validated by someone else often helps the excesses of emotion go away. Having someone hear you and not judge you allows a safe release of pent up feelings. Remember the research that said that most kids act out because they do not feel heard and validated by adults.

Listen to your child until you really get their internal logic! Remember you do not have to agree with it, just understand it. No attempts to correct the irrational thinking now – that will come later.

Let him know you might have a clue (however a small one and never, never say I KNOW what you are going through). You can say I understand or I might have felt that way myself, but never I KNOW. Validating their feelings by relating them to something you might have experienced does two things: 1. It forces you to see the experience from their eyes because you, yes, you ancient one, were once a teen yourself, and 2. It builds a bridge that the two of you could meet in the middle to talk.

Here is the hardest part: Empty yourself of the need to lecture. Do not go into problem solving with your child. Listen to her and he upset feelings! Tune into her message and say how you might understand (not that you do necessarily, but that you might.)

  • I can see that you might feel that because . . .
  • I can understand that because….
  • That once happened to me so I get where you are coming from…
  • That makes sense to me because once I . . .

Keep your example how you felt the same way very short! Only one or two sentences. Don’t retell stories she has heard many times before. All you need to say is “I understand, because something like that happened to me once.” Then turn the topic of concern back to your child and his feelings. This is about your being there for your child – not being the reactive parent.

3. EMPATHIZE and GUESS the Feeling: Really get what your child and take the conversation to the feeling level. Try your best to understand what your child is saying and try to get the feeling.

Pick one or more feelings and reflect that back to her. Help her give a label to the feelings. Guess if you have to. If you get it wrong, she will correct you. The key here is to be genuinely understanding of what your child is saying and express it back so she can label and validate the uncomfortable feelings.

  • That must make your feel . . .
  • I can imagine that you might feel confused about….
  • I wonder if you are feeling hurt under all that anger?

You don’t have to agree with your child’s feelings. And you don’t have to do anything about it other than give it a name. Just try to understand. Go to the place of “Given your experience, I can see how your might feel”  or “I don’t feel that way, but I’m big enough to understand that you might feel that way”.

Don’t just mouth the feelings words here. Be sincere. Sarcasm will distance you. Again, no problem solving. Sometimes all it takes is for the child to feel heard and empathized with; a solution is not always necessary.

Your child desperately wants your love. She wants to be connected not matter how she acts on the outside. Young people often feel misunderstood. Teenagers make feeling misunderstood an art form! Then he or she will react with anger, hurt or sullenness and refusal to talk. Intentional Dialogue gives a format where your child has a safe place to go with feelings.

Taking things down past the intellect (the head) to the feeling level (the heart) helps people feel understood. Remember, you don’t have to agree with what is being said. It helps when you get to a level of empathy as to the deepest part of what is going on – the feelings. Empathy is the ability to see things from the perspective of another person and feel compassion.

The ability to have satisfying personal relationships and a well-defined sense of self is boosted with developing the skill of empathy. This dialogue approach teaches your child how to become an empathetic person.

Check out Lynne Namka’s award-winning site for more articles on communicating with your families.

Listen to Your Children with Open Ears and a Mostly Shut Mouth

I Love You So Big! Blog – Lynne Namka, © 2011-13

“If I can keep still and listen to my sixteen year old, I’ll be the first parent on the block to know what’s going on with this alien teen nation by tuning into my inner trend meter! – Anonymous

Be there fully when your child talks to you. So, even if you are facing a hundred shades of hostility during those Years of Unbearable Kid Tension, take time to stop and listen. Listen from your heart. Don’t be a halfway listener. Don’t tune out when your children talk or start doing something else. I notice that my children would sometimes choose my most incontinent time to talk to me about something trivial which then might turn into something important. It’s like they had to test me to see if I were really listening before they would unburden their heart.

listening to your child, listen, intentioanl diologue, getting the love

You can increase closeness with your child if you really hear what he says. Your listening helps him feel understood and breaks into the loneliness that young people get into.

You can increase closeness with your child if you really hear what he says. Your listening helps him feel understood and breaks into the loneliness that young people get into. Reflecting back the content of his message and getting to the real meaning without becoming defensive is one of the highest-level skills you can achieve! Put your own feelings on hold for a few minutes to totally listen. If you have a youngster who withholds information about his life, learn ways to get him to open up.

Just keep remembering as you listen – “This is not about me being the parent who must discipline. Discipline will come later. This is not about explaining things to him or punishing him. This is only about listening so he can express his feelings. This is seeing it from my child’s point of view! This is my trying to understand my child’s feelings, so he can get them out.” No shoulds. No problem solving. This is total unconditional – “I’ll be there for you!” Science fiction writers Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter tell it well: “What we need is a machine that will let us see the other guy’s point of view.” We don’t have such a machine, but we do have a fantastic technique.

Listen for information about what is really going on in your child’s world. Let your child be the expert and teach you about teen culture, about drugs, alcohol and sex. Active listening is a skill that is necessary for relationships. Feeling understood in this world of confusion and chaos allows the young person to risk opening up more.

So talk with your children about risky behaviors. Two talks with teens leads to less marijuana use for at least a year, a recent study found. A brief, voluntary conversation with an adult led to up to a 20 percent decrease in marijuana use for teenagers who frequently used the drug. And then listen to learn!

Harville Hendrix gives a formula that encourages active listening, called Intentional Dialogue. This approach keeps the person who is hurt or upset talking to get down to the bottom line feeling and express their deepest pain. Hendrix’s book, “Getting the Love You Want, A Guide for Couples,” offers great tools for understanding family dynamics. Read this fine book for your own growth, improving communication in your marriage and with your children. Many people choose to do the exercises together from the book to strengthen their relationship.

You know you need the Intentional Dialogue Technique if you are having free-for-alls if you and your child yell a lot or don’t communicate at all. Hendrix has authored two books for parents along with his wife Helen Hunt which are Getting the Love that Heals: a Guide for Parents and The Parent’s Companion: Meditations and Exercises for Giving the Love that Heals.

Another good book on supporting your teen and getting them to open up to you is How to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. This small book is written in cartoon style so will be an easy read for you.

Button your lips on your own anger when attempting to listen to your youngster! You have to resist any need to lecture or teach when your child is talking about something that is upsetting to him. Not responding in anger yourself or setting him straight is tough.

Intentional Dialogue works. It can defuse the hurt and disappointment under the outburst. Three simple steps will make your child feel really heard and validated.  Keep your focus on the three steps rather than moralizing at this point. (You will get to make your own point across later.) First just help your child talk his issue of feeling misunderstood through to get to the bottom line feelings. Doing an Intentional Dialogue when your child is upset is going into the eye of the storm.

Check out the books mentioned in this article through these links:

Getting the Love You Want, A Guide for Couples by Harville Hendrix

Getting the Love that Heals: a Guide for Parents by Harville Hendrix and Helen Hunt

The Parent’s Companion: Meditations and Exercises for Giving the Love that Heal by Harville Hendrix and Helen Hunt

How to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish

Putting up Barriers Between You and Your Child By Over Parenting

I Love You So Big! Blog – Lynne Namka, © 2011-13

“You can’t scare us. We have kids!” – As seen on a plaque in a thrift store

Don’t over parent! There are some things that you can do too much of that will have a bad effect of your children. There are parent behaviors that WILL shut your child down and make him inaccessible for your input. When parents jump in and give their child solutions or lecture him, the child feels like he is not smart enough to figure things out on his own. In addition, when the parents put the child down through name-calling, criticizing and shaming, the child feels that there is something flawed about himself. You can put up walls, which destroy the opportunity for your wise guidance if you play the expert while talking to him.

over parenting, barriers, judgements

Over parenting by judging, moralizing, preaching, lecturing, ordering, directing and commanding or demanding makes the child feel stupid and unable to solve his own problems. He then becomes insecure and does not trust his own decision making process.

Over parenting by judging, moralizing, preaching, lecturing, ordering, directing and commanding or demanding makes the child feel stupid and unable to solve his own problems. He then becomes insecure and does not trust his own decision making process. Your overbearing judgments set up the scene where the child makes poor choices.

Don’t be a fear-based parent communicating that fear to your child by trying to control him to keep him safe. Vent your fears, worst-case scenarios and anxieties for your child’s safety elsewhere, keeping your negativity and barriers away from your child. Talk to a trusted friend, someone in authority or a counselor. One mother who was deathly afraid of the water, wisely kept her fear to herself and enrolled her children in swimming lessons. Learn stress management skills to deal with your own anxieties about the worst fear that you have about your child.

Sex, drugs and out-of-control behavior that endangers your child’s life are a possibility during the teen years. Parents of teenagers have realistic fears. They also can take on some irrational fears. Talk to other parents to determine if your fears are based on reality or just come from that big dark hole of fear in yourself.  Band together and find out what particular dangers the local peer culture presents. Then get a plan of how to deal with them.

Are you running on fear instead of running on faith? Most parent fears come out during anger at their child, making him feel controlled. Over parenting or making negative judgments about his decisions and criticizing your child’s choices will create insecurity in him. Arguing and disagreeing will only entrench your child in his way of thinking. Instead, ask your child to give the pros and cons of his choices and discuss the rationale behind each.

Without your feedback as to the reality of his perceptions and assumptions about the unfairness of the world, his distortions will continue. His confusion and sense of hopelessness will increase, resulting in more anger. This is a major teaching time for your child. Keep the lines of communication open and be aware of when you start over parenting. Keep the positive feedback going while challenging errors of thinking flowing. The thing to treasure above all else is positive communication that emphasizes connection and belonging.

More discipline techniques are given at my web site. My hobby is bringing the best parenting advice from the world of psychology and infusing it with my good common sense. Here are several articles you can search for:

 * Parents Get Mad Too!
* Things For Parents To Say To Ward Off A Child’s Mad Attack

* Turning It Around: What To Say To A Child Who Hurts Others

* Correcting a Child In a Positive Way: Cues To Break Into Inappropriate Behavior

How to Talk with a Kid with a Bad Attitude

I Love You So Big! Blog – Lynne Namka, © 2011-13

“Maturity is the ability to take responsibility for the mistakes you make and spend more of your time in a consciousness of love. Maturity is choosing to move on from negative beliefs and emotions stuck in your mind and come to terms with the debits and credits that life has afforded you. Maturity is also choosing kindness and love in every situation.” – Lynne Namka, Your Quick Anger Makeover Plus Twenty Other Cutting-Edge Techniques to Release Anger!

Attitudes! Some young people use bad attitudes to keep adults away. Apathy, sullenness and disrespect are ways that some young people say “Get out of my face. I don’t want to talk about it.”

It is hard being a parent of a child who displays a perpetually sullen attitude. Parents are unprepared when their formerly loving child starts to withdraw from the family (which is normal teen age behavior) and respond in short, hateful phrases (which is not.) They go to a place where there is “no more nice” and, in place, is a moody, temperamental kid with an attitude that just won’t stop!

Yet, in the simplest sense, a negative or bad attitude about life is the child’s way of asking for help. Most adults do not know how to help children when they are rude and react in anger and helplessness. Sarcasm and putdowns can be a sign of hidden anger.

Bad attitudes are catching. Children learn back talk from listening to their peers. Negative attitudes spread from one group to another. Television and media sarcasm and put-downs are now the norm at many schools and peer cultures. Younger students “catch” rude answers and comeback from the older students. Children that are bullied and called names, then turn around and use those names on others. This perpetuates the cycle of hurt and shame that creates bullies. Negativity is becoming the norm in certain subcultures of young people. For some, it is “cool” to be sarcastic and say put downs to peers.

bad attitude, anger, teens anger

A negative or bad attitude about life is the child’s way of asking for help. Most adults do not know how to help children when they are rude and react in anger and helplessness. Show love with sweetness and gentleness and show it with toughness and boundaries.

Some children’s anger comes from being disappointed and hurt and not knowing how to express unhappy feelings to get the pain out. Some anger is real as a result of being hurt. Some anger is a result of realistic expectations that were not met and some anger comes from unrealistic expectations.

Anger in some children is based on not having limits placed of their behavior when they were young giving them a sense of entitlement. Do you get gratification from having the best-dressed child, with name brands? Have you shielded him from the natural consequences of his misbehavior? Have you rescued him from educators/coaches who disciplined him? Do you go to battle with the legal system when he has broken the law? All of these decisions on your part can have a detrimental effect on your child.

Other anger is based on irrational thinking and assumptions that are wrong. Some of children’s anger is displaced on parents – they had a bad day at school so yell at you. And sometimes, your anger at outside events gets displaced on your kid.

Fight attitude with an attitude of your own – the “Tough Beans” approach. Say to your child: Sometimes the beans (life) are hard. When that happens, you just have to chew harder! You have to try harder. And in combating a child’s negative attitude, you have to get tough. This is the “When the going gets tough, the tough get hardy” approach.

You don’t have to take it on the chin with teen disrespect. Be strong upfront while granting your child’s requests. Don’t show any signs of weakness – kids can read these cues like a book. Later on, you can be a marshmallow mom or dad after your youngster has shown flexibility some maturity and demonstrated responsibility. Be the strong authority figure in your home as you set the values you expect your children to live by. No wishy-washy communication. Remind your child that kindness is an important part of your family. Don’t let the trashy media culture and cynical peer culture train your children. You only get to put your values in your children for such a short while.

Teach them that connection to each others is one of the most important family values. Nobody loves your kids the way you do. Show it with sweetness and gentleness and show it with toughness.

Sign up to Time To Love Yourself, in the top, right corner of this post, to receive your free eBook, “Your Quick Anger Makeover” by feelings expert, Lynne Namka. Packed with the newest ideas about how to understand and liberate anger and other unwanted, raw emotions, this ebook is a practical, light-hearted guide to take you through your wildest and woolliest feelings. Perfect for every family. 240 pages, a $19.95 value. Don’t miss this great opportunity!

Reviews of Your Quick Anger Makeover:

“You have written an encyclopedia on anger!” – Rami Katz, M. S. W.

“Your Quick Anger Make Over is not only about anger. It reinforces what it is to be normal with feelings. It answers the questions of what are the boundaries and what are the extremes of human emotions. Boundaries were misinterpreted for me when I grew up. This book helped me realize the continuum of normal emotions and behavior and where I fit on this continuum. I enjoyed the chapter on defensiveness and how to change. I can evaluate myself in a realistic way and become more accepting with myself.” – Karen Seibert, teacher

Love Signs – Putting Love into It

I Love You So Big! Blog – Lynne Namka, © 2011-13

“Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong but rejoices in the right.” – 1stCorinthians 13: 5, 6

In general, people treat you the way you teach them to treat you. Especially teenagers. Like a nasty virus, you have to combat negativity that creeps into your home via those you love most dear in the world. So reestablish your Parent Power. You are in charge as long as you pay the bills in the household. You have the right to establish a set of guidelines for your family to make your home a place where people are safe with each other

So, let’s get some guidelines clear. It is appropriate for you to ask your child to stop speaking with disrespect to you and other family members. It is part of your teaching him to be a functioning human being to by giving guidelines on how to be respectful to others. It is okay for you to confront inappropriate verbal behavior. Inappropriate behaviors are those actions that the world in general will not tolerate and that will keep the child from living a happy life. The major question to ask is “Will the world in general put up with this attitude and behavior?”

Set some enforceable house rules that you call the “Respect Rules” such as “We are a family. In our family, we talk to each other with respect”, “We keep our voices civil,” and “Cussing is not allowed in our family. We are considerate of each other in our home. Yelling will not get you what you want.” And of course, the ever-popular, “No Sniveling.”

love respect positive communication

Set some enforceable house rules that you call the “Respect Rules” such as “We are a family. In our family, we talk to each other with respect”, “We keep our voices civil,” and “Cussing is not allowed in our family. We are considerate of each other in our home. Yelling will not get you what you want.”

Ask your child to agree that everyone will be happier in the family if the Rules of Respect are practiced. If you can swing it, get him to sign his name agreeing to be considerate and go along with the rules on a contract. Everyone in the family should sign their name to the contract. Yes, he may do it grudgingly, but get him to agree so that forever you can say, “But you agreed to these rules” to nip future grousing in the bud.

Give up your parental t-shirt that says “Born to Nag.” Let the family rules be the bad guy not you. Nix the stupid comments you learned from your own parents. Note your own habits of language that tune your youngster out. Some of the things that parents say to try to change the kid factor lose their effectiveness after they have been repeated over and over. Kids tune out to the familiar. They tune into the novel and different.

What do you say that makes that your child to roll his or her eyes and say, “Oh, Mom!” File these comments that distance that put distance between you and your child in the Moron Mom Folder or the Dumb Dad Folder – You are grounded for the entire month. How many times do I have to tell you? Will you ever grow up? If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times. (Why tell again? Save your breath.)

Post the rules on that most popular spot in the house – the refrigerator. Post signs saying, “Dripping Sarcasm is Not Allowed.” and “This is an Attitude-Free Zone.” Put your list of “Our Family Rules of Respect” on the refrigerator under the heading “Give Your Attitude some Altitude.”  If you should stumble on some moments of family cooperation (on a good day for your kids), make these signs together so there will be more ownership of the rules.

Then when your child gets snippy, point to a posted rule. Ask, “What is our rule about that?” The rule becomes the “bad guy,” not you as the parent. Remind them they agreed to the rules and you will hold them to their word. Of course, your child can point to the rules when you get out of line and break the rules yourself. This is only fair. It will be a reality check on you to see if you have an attitude problem.

The message to continually give to your youngster is that families who want to be happy have family members who do not disrespect each other. Tell them in many different ways, “Do not dis me. I won’t allow it. And I won’t disrespect you either. This is our no Dis Contract.”

Keep reminding your children “We are a family that supports each other. Kindness spoken here! We cherish each other.” Cherishing pays off across a lifetime of raising your children.

Check out for more articles from Lynne Namka to help smooth your family’s relationships.

 The Perfect Gift for Children in Your Life

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 The Mad Family Get Their Mads Out 

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