Monday, May 30, 2011

How to deal with Teasing & Overreacting

This Memorial Day weekend ended up being more about being husbandly than dadly… getting a replacement minivan for my wife and looking at options for moving our home.

So, the boys had much more time to free play without dadly activities than prior weekends. Sure enough, the little one would come running to me crying because his brother hit him. This happened couple of times per day. I personally think it's totally within the norm for a couple of boys, but in the spirit of mastering the dadly arts, I spent some time thinking about this.

Every case of hitting followed this sequence:
   (2) ANGER
   (3) Loss of SELF CONTROL
   (4) SMACK
This morning when it happened (almost on cue), I gave the older boy a timeout and followed up with a discussion on my observation of the sequence of events. I asked, "Why did you hit your little brother?" "Why did you lose self control?" and "Why did you get angry?"

I told him that people "teasing" and "overreacting" are realities of life that cannot be avoided. I reminded him of another lesson: "life is not fair" reality that he has to accept. We both agreed that the key to a better situation is to not get angry as a response to "unfair" realities he has to accept.

I replayed the latest event with other options he could have followed when dealing with people who are teasing or overreacting:
  1. Tease back. Now, this could be fun if everybody has a good attitude (I still remember some fun teasing sessions from 20+ years ago in college), but this also has undesirable consequences if the other person gets angry or overreacts. Probably not worth the risk, but I do think that being able to stand your ground is a necessary skill (perhaps future dadly blog entry…). 
  2. Don't react. If teaser gets no reaction, the person might get bored and go away, but the teaser might also get more aggressive. This will be too difficult for him. At lease he realizes this about himself at age 8. 
  3. Communicate. Let the teaser know that what they are doing is not fun for you, not necessary, and will lead to bad consequences. Let them know it's not worth it. Seems like a good solution!
  4. Get away. If the communication doesn't work, it's better to get away from the teaser before getting angry and losing control.

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