If you're a dad and act like an angry bear at your whining kids, you must read this. Our parenting expert and author, Katherine Levine, is sharing an excerpt from her book, Parents Are People Too. She teaches a dad to use a scale to measure his temper from one to ten. A low score is good. Find out how he brought his temper down from the explode mode to one of serenity.
This Angry Dad's True Story
A father once came to me asking for help. He was particularly concerned about the frequency with which he was blowing up at his nine-year-old son. He remembered his own father yelling at him, and the memory was not a good one.
Parenting Exercise: Practice, Practice, Practice
He had also already tried some relaxation exercises and so didn't have a lot of faith in mine. He was an avid basketball player, however, and when I told him what I just told you, (practice, practice, practice) he acknowledged how important it was to practice, practice, practice.
As he told me, "Larry Bird practiced harder than anyone else on his team even after he became a star for the Boston Celtics. He'd be in the gym when the others went home, and he'd be there before the others showed up."
This dad understood the importance of practicing. We worked together and designed a program just for him, which he practiced for ten minutes when he got up in the morning, after eating lunch, and at night before falling asleep. He practiced during every waste moment that came his way.
Instead of flipping channels during commercials, he practiced his self-soothing program. At boring meetings, he practiced. About four or five weeks after I started working with him, he came and reported the following:
How This Angry Dad Cooled Down
"Yesterday I came home tired and ready to kill. My kid met me at the door whining about how mean his sister was being. I said to myself, "Nothing has changed."
Then I took a feeling temperature and I was at an eight, going on explode. Next, I took a deep breath, trying to get enough air to let him have it.
He's too old to be running to Daddy, I thought. As I was breathing in, I found myself saying that stupid phrase you taught me to help slow down the growth of a negative feeling. "Breathing in," then "Breathing out," and then "Smiling." And as I made that stupid little half-smile of yours, I knew I was going to take a time-out.
I just put my hand up, made a time-out sign, and walked straight to a comforting hot shower. By the time I had dried myself off and changed my clothes, my feeling temperature had dropped to a mere serene three.
What seemed like the end of the world had become just one of the annoying parts of being a dad-the price I pay for the good times. (From pages 77-79)
I like how the angry father used Larry Bird's consistent basketball practicing to practice the breathing techniques Katherine taught him. His use of her scale to measure his temper feelings was quite effective. Time out worked well for him too. Because of this story those of us who are mothers or fathers can profit by using the same exercises. Thank you, Katherine.
You may pick up Katherine's book, Parents Are People Too: An Emotional Fitness Program for Parents
Available at Amazon.com
Let's give THANKS to Katherine for her book full of emotional fitness exercises for us to be the best parents we can be.
Katherine Gordy Levine, MSS
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