ONE FOR PARENTS FIRST, THEN FOR OTHER POWER LEADERS (family, friends, teachers, preachers, coaches, big bosses, supervisors.
RULE ONE FOR ALL: Know what is possible, what you can control, what the other can or cannot do.
The following post has three participants. A mother, a child out of control, a disapproving bystander.
The child and the bystander are being driven by their feelings, the mother is doing her best to control hers and succeeding, she is what I call an Emotional Fitness Super-star. Moreover, the child cannot be faulted, but the bystander can.
Fact: “Don’t be a baby” means, don’t let your feelings control you. Children across all cultures are NOT expected to control their feelings until at least six years old. That is the age when children are trusted to herd animals, tend to younger children, and do other grownup work including sitting still in school. For those with challenges it may take longer. And as we all know not all adults control their feelings. Some because they are severely challenged by life and or genetics; some because they haven’t learned how.
Blaming is letting a feeling rule instead of understanding and reason.
The trick for power leaders is to know what another can control and to expect the person to stay in control when they can. Power leaders also need to know that “Under stress all regress.” More stress, less ability to stay in control. Problem: A little stress motivates. Solution? See meltdowns as signals there is too much stress. Don’t add to it.
RULE TWO: All feelings are signals. Learning the signals are part of staying in control. The sooner you spot a feeling signal, the more likely you are to stay in control. That is why Emotional Fitness Training uses feeling thermometers. Using one makes you more aware of your feelings and can alert you to when you need to work harder to stay in control.
Here is a feeling thermometer for measuring stress.
All three of the people in Flappiness’ post were stressed. The child had flipped out. The mother was probably at a six or seven, but she was mostly in control. The by-standing was acting inappropriately–although she probably didn’t realize She was blaming instead of taming the stress by supporting the mother. The bystanders frown probably pushed the mother to an EEEEKKKKK!!!
RULE THREE: Do not add to stress by blaming or by expecting more than the stressed person can handle. Almost everyone is doing the best they can. That might not be enough, but is the best that person can do.
Had the bystander been an Emotional Fitness Star, she would have kept some cool and not shown disapproval. Had she been an Emotional Fitness Super Star, she would have in one way or another shown some sympathy. Two or three words might have been helpful. Sadly, she was doing the best she could for who she was and what her life experience had taught her.
Words that might have helped?
“Hard work being a parent.”
In some situations a “Can I help?” is useful.
WARNING: You can guess a another person’s feelings, but you cannot know for certain what someone else is feeling, unless you ask. Even then you cannot be sure. Moreover, there is a right and a wrong time to ask–if someone is in a feeling crisis, best to ask “How can I help?” in a concerned and caring voice.
Best thing to do for yourself when a feeling crisis occurs is to remember the Feel Better Now emotional fitness skills.
FINAL THOUGHT: Stress is a feeling and stress is a fact of life. The more we can keep stress at a manageable level, the more all will thrive. Sadly our culture does not offer the support parents and others need to handle all we are expected to handle. We over-work and over-expect all but a few. As a Power Leader try to model a better way.
Image by me: Katherine Gordy Levine also known as Grannykat and Cranky Old Lady.