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Reduce stress & reduce anger

stressed out girlWhen someone in a close relationship with you seems to explode about something that you did not feel was that big of a deal, you may want to ask yourself, what else is going on for them.  It most probably is not about you personally.  Likely they are feeling stressed about something else going on in their life.  In fact, stress is one of the most common triggers for anyone losing their feeling of peace and experiencing angry feelings and behaviors.

Think about a time when anyone of us has felt stress financially, and the affect it has on our spouse or partners.  Think of a teen who is struggling in school and how they react to those close to them.  Think of a young person who has lost a close family member in death, and the stress results in quick reactions to anything that is hurting them.

Some stress comes from the outside, like described above and some come from the inside of us, the things that we worry about.  All of them result though in our brain responding with a “fight, flight, or freeze” defense.  While those defenses may have been great in the days of cavemen, they typically do not serve us well in modern society.  Learning to deal with stress will help us from letting things get out of hand resulting in angry aggression.

Here is one tip in reducing the stress.  SHIFT YOUR FOCUS

Ask yourself some of these questions,

  • In the grand scheme of things how important is this issue?
  • In 3 months will this still be as big of an issue as it seems now?  How about in 3 years?
  • What is great about this situation?

Knowing what your priorities in life can be helpful in letting the small stuff go.  Knowing what our core values are and what our personal mission and family mission comprise of will help us to focus on the big issues.  Keeping our focus on what is really important allows us to over look comments and other events that could get us caught up in the moment, and focused on the small things.

Shift your focus is one step in reducing stress.  Reducing stress is one step to anger management.


Bully prevention: First step for – What if my child is the bully?

One of the hardest phone calls or face to face conversations a parent can have is the one from a teacher or a friend that accuses a child of being the aggressor (bully).  Just for the record, it is never a good idea for a parent of the targeted child to try to have that conversation with the parent of the aggressor.  One reason is that as soon as it begins, in the majority of cases, the defenses go up, the denials begin and the disbelief sets in.  Once those things happen, it is not likely that anything will happen besides hurt feelings at best.

At times though as a parent we recognize that our child is aggressive and may even have certain friends that have decided not to establish play dates for a while.  We may have recognized that they seem to pick another child out – even a sibling – and you may see the fear in the targets actions.  What should you do?

There is actually a lot that you can do, but the first step is take a deep breath.  You are not a bad parent and social skills come at different rates.  Some children take a little longer to develop appropriate behaviors. With careful consideration though, your child can develop the social and friendship skills required to overcome any past actions.

parenting confidenceHere is just one of many steps we can take as a parent.  No matter the age, have honest and serious conversations with your child.  If they are very young 6 and under the conversations will be about friendship. If they are 7 and above help them to understand just what bullying is and that it is not OK.   Many children may not fully understand that what they are doing is bullying.  

They have watched different sources of media that displays behavior that are aggressive.  They most likely have even seen us as their parents displaying aggressive, bullying behaviors and have learned that this is the way you react to situations.  They may be the target of bullying by others in the classroom or at home.  So many times we see children who are the target of sibling bullying or abuse – who become the aggressor (bully) at school or in other areas of their life.

If the child is older we may even be able to discuss with them that those who repeatedly are aggressive towards others grow up to having increased depression, anger and conflict with other adults including being far more likely to be convicted of crimes on one or more occasions.

Having this firm conversation with them is one of the first steps.  Included in the first steps though is not just this conversation – but must also include our love and caring for them to get them back on track.  Remember it is the behavior that we dislike – not the child.  As you talk and listen to them, listen for what needs they have that are not being filled and how they might be suffering also.  When a child or anyone demonstrates anger or aggression, generally we are reacting to our own fear of being hurt or not getting something that we desire or need.

Finding the answer to that question is part of helping our child grow into a peaceful person, both with themselves and others.

Mr. Joe Van Deuren is a recognized bully prevention expert that offers classes and private help for students, parents, teachers and schools who would like to create a culture of peace in their family, school or community.

How to show confidence without talking about ourselves

If telling everyone how great we are, or putting others down does not show confidence how can we show confidence?  How do we make ourselves feel confident without making someone else feel worse?

We show our confidence by our body language, standing tall, looking at the other person in the eyes, speaking with a clear voice, expressing our needs in a clear manner with a tone that tells others that we believe in our statements.

We show our confidence by our stepping up with courage when a situation needs to be made right.  We are not afraid of what others might think.  We have morals, values and ethics that we are willing to stand for.

positive_quotes_compliment_people_147From another point of view we show confidence by our willingness to ‘build others up’.  A confident person is not afraid to give sincere compliments to others or to express appreciation for what they have done or what they do.  Helping others feel good about themselves, and helping others feel good about another person, demonstrates a lack of fear, that someone may appear “better than” ourselves.

I especially like this point.  One of the things we teach at Balanced Life Skills is that the strongest leaders are ones who are willing to submit themselves to others by asking, “How can I help you?”.   Our willingness to help others improve themselves, to prove themselves, and to feel good about themselves is a demonstration of our own self-confidence.


The science behind why anyone brags

When one person puts another person down by pointing out a weakness or making them feel “less than”, the confidence level of the recipient takes a hit.  When a person looks in the mirror and puts themselves down by focusing on what they have come to believe to be a weakness, their confidence is lowered – not improved on.

In trying to make up for not feeling confident some resort to pretending to be something that they are not – bragging or boasting – to make themselves feel “better than” or in an attempt to make the other person feel “less than”.  We see that kind of behavior in kids with one upping another child.  I scored 10,000 points on such & such game and the next kids say I scored 15 K and on and on.  We see it with kids feeling superior due to where they go to school (private vs. public), where they went on vacation, what they did this weekend, and the list goes on and on.

moms-braggingWhen it comes to adults and parents especially, we live in a culture in which most parents strive to raise ‘star’ children and convince everyone around them that they are stars.  They do this by gushing about a child’s accomplishments, how smart they are, how athletic, how beautiful they are.  Why do people – kids and adults carry on with bragging?   That answer in a moment.

How else does bragging show itself?  It might be shown on the purchasing of material things just to impress others (whether they can be afforded or not).  Keeping up appearances by this kind of activity is no different than speaking the words that are exaggerated to impress others. Still others may take actions to get the attention of others – to impress them with how brave or awesome they are – simply to prove the “better than” superiority.

So whether it is talking to no end about their non existent achievements, spending money to prove how well off they are, or pointing out the weaknesses of others – all of this is bragging and results in lowering the confidence of those that are targeted.  Oh yes the question WHY?

In 2012 a Harvard study found that sharing information about ourselves triggered the same sensations in the brain synonymous with eating food.  So talking about ourselves is rewarding.  In fact, it was found that 40% of what we talk about is our own thoughts and feelings.  So now that we are aware of what and why – the real question for us to consider is, How can we make ourselves feel confident without making someone else feel worse?  How can we make others feel more confident and spread those confident feelings around?

Thoughts on this question this week.

Tamir, Diana I., Mitchell, Jason P. “Disclosing information about the self is intrinsically rewarding.” Cambridge: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2012. Web: