BLOWING YOUR TOP?  USEFUL?  SOMETIMES  VERY USEFUL.  As a kid ow did you know when each of your parents meant you’d better obey?  I often asked that question at parenting workshops  on discipline.

My mother  yelled , not all the time, but enough of the time, that you knew you didn’t have to pay attention until the yelling became volcanic.  My father on the other hand rarely spoke harshly, when he did you listened.

The article does not suggest blowing your top.  I do, but first read the article.  Here is a quote:

The most socially skilled among us — those who project the emotions they intend, when they intend to — are not wedded to any one strategy, Dr. Hofmann argues. In a paper published last month with Todd Kashdan of George Mason University, he proposed that emotion researchers adopt a questionnaire to measure three components of regulation: concealing (i.e., suppression), adjusting (quickly calming anger, for instance) and tolerating (openly expressing emotion).

Here is the article:  Mind – Polishing Tools for Your Fuse Box of Emotions – NYTimes.com.

A personal story about one of my kids.  As do most kids, when this one was between two and three, he started developing night fears.  That meant  wanting Mom or Dad with him until the Sandman came.  Not a problem when it meant a few minutes just sitting there.  Became more and more of a problem, however, and the few minutes became longer and longer.  Finally, after one stressful day, Mean Mom couldn’t take it.  She got angry and in a very unpleasant manner said,  “I’m leaving, just go to sleep.”

My son did just that for when guilt sent me back to his room five minutes after my out burst, he was sleeping soundly.


Not being a stupid Mom, I tried the ploy of pretending to be angry the next night. Didn’t work, he kept coming out of the room.  Only if I was really angry was he able to pop off to sleep, and he always seemed to know if I was faking.

That started me thinking about another’s anger as a motivating force.  I also learned from a number of my foster children, that they didn’t believe we were serious about rules unless we were angry.    This was particularly true of those who had been physically abused by parents.  These were also children who had difficulty behaving in school.  Teachers in this day and age of “How to Talk so Kids Will Listen”    rarely raise their voices.

Kids raised by  really Tough Love parents don’t think teachers who speak softly mean,  “Do what I say, and do it now.”

I also read that in many cultures if you are not warlike, you are considered weak. Scary because it often means those that want peace are out-bullied, but I digress.

So how does this apply to Power Leading?  As the quote above indicates being flexible matters.  As the poker saying goes “Know when to hold and when to fold them.”  Or as those telling you how to sell something, “Know your audience.”

Even in a family, you will find differences in how kids react to your displays of anger.  My son above was bold by nature and he needed to feel an extra push of power to decide it wasn’t worth challenging Mom or Dad.  My other son, was more sensitive and didn’t need angry words to know when we were reaching our limit.  A frown was enough for him to know it was time to obey.

As a manager, because I tried to stay calm and praising, some staff stopped believing my praise.  That is one of the problems in trying to see that every one gets rewarded or praised.  Too much of that happens today in our schools, camps and youth sports teams.  On the other hand some staff took advantage of my efforts, and were genuinely surprised and hurt if I put a little anger in my criticism.

I love Nanny 911 and Thomas Phelon’s One, Two, Three Magic.   Nanny 911 always sets some basic rules and reward.  One rule is always no hurting others, another is always a schedule, then she adds some others depending on the family needs.   She also makes sure the parents and kids have time to play and have fun as a family. Time out is her main punishment.

Phelon gives three warnings about broken rules or mis-behavior and then says “Take five.”  Meaning punishment time.  The usual punishment is a time out.  For older kids who can out fight parents physically, it is taking away a possession or money.

Together their approach works for most, and if it doesn’t is often a sign abuse by parents may be a problem or that the child might have a serious emotional problem.

Getting back to the value of anger, before I became a Cranky Old Lady,   I developed what I call the CARE response.  I did so because I realized as the title of my book says, “Parents Are People Too” and people blow occasionally.   Everyone gets cranky or worse some of the time.


So CARE says, work at blowing rarely.  In fact, habituation happens when you blow too often.  Habituation is a fancy term meaning getting used to something.  A parent always yells, a boss is always grumpy those around get used to being yelled or grumped at.  If you are a leader, it is better to vary your approach, particularly to discipline. So in terms of the CARE response it is always important to confront unacceptable behavior.  Sometimes with just a gentle admonishment, sometimes with a bit of anger, and sometimes with lots of anger–even a bit of out of control anger–name calling, character assassination or getting physical not allowed, however.

When you realize your are confronting with Anger, take a Calming Breath, lower you voice and Ally with the person.  Don’t apologize for blowing, but do say something positive about the person, his or her motivation usually offers safe ground.

Next comes the R which stands for Review.  When someone is angry and showing it, the target of the anger often shuts down, does not really hear and may not know why the other person is angry.  review means making certain the person knows what you are blowing about.   Then comes E.

E means ending on a positive note. There are lots of ways to end positively and again tapping into motivation is a good one.

So let me end with Aristotle’s well known quote about anger:

Anyone can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person at the right time, and for the right purpose and in the right way – that is not within everyone’s power and that is not easy.

That is what Emotional Fitness Training is all about–keeping negative feelings from controlling you, so you can respond to negative feelings in the right way, at the right person, at the right time, and for the right reason.  Not easy, but a skill we can all work on to improve.

Like, Share, Care, and Stay Strong.




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