|How to go from the nagging angry parent to a calmer and kinder parent|
I've listened and read a lot of parenting and self-improvement talks and books and what I've noticed about how they all dealt with any type of conflicts is brought down to three steps. It doesn't matter whether you're dealing with toddler tantrums, moody teenagers, nagging wives, dissatisfied husbands, unhappy parents, critical bosses, horrible neighbours or angry ringleaders, you can use the same three steps.
1. Step out of the power struggle
Take deep breaths and do some deep breathing. Use whatever strategies that you know of to help you to remain or return to calm. (Read last week's post on 'How to Go From Anger to Calm'.) This is because you can only think logically and be reasonable when your brain is in a state of calm and not in emotional turmoil. Once you're calm it's easy to step away from the power struggle that is going on when a conflict occurs.
2. Connect with the Other Person
To do this you use empathy. Join the other person in his or her frustration, fear, anger or whatever it is that they're feeling. Ask yourself, what the is the emotion that they're feeling? What emotion do you see or feel coming from them?
If it's a young child then you can cuddle or hold their hands or touch their shoulders. If it's a teenager then you can stay in their presence. Then you can reflect to them what they're feeling such as:
"You're feeling so frustrated that you can't have that toy" for a toddler intantrum, or
"It must be so annoying to have to stop what you're doing" for a teenager, or
"It looks like you've had such an overwhelming down" for a nagging wife and so on.
Once you can empathise with the other person then you've created a connection because the other person can see that you've understood them. And once a connection is made then the other person is more likely to listen to what you have to say.
The next step is to talk to the other person to firstly, find out the reason behind the behaviour and then secondly, to brainstorm and problem solve.
Usually when you've made a connection, the other person will start talking. When this happens, you listen with empathy and you paraphrase what they're saying. As they talk you'll start to understand from their perspective where they're coming from and will be able to discover the reason behind any resistance or excuses or undesirable behaviour. Maybe they were feeling overwhelmed, didn't know what to do or were seeking your attention. It could be anything so until they've talked to you then you'll only be guessing and jumping to conclusions.
Once you've found out the reason behind the behaviour then you can ask the other person to brainstorm and think of alternative ways they can try to behave that won't cause this conflict. When they've agreed on the course of action then help and support them in their action.
Those are the 3 steps to dealing with any conflict. Sounds simple? Maybe not at first but let's practice it on our children, spouse, parents, neigbours, bosses and whoever else that we have conflicts with. It does get easier.