Annette

Peeling Back the Layers on School Shootings

As soon as news broke about the most recent school shooting in Florida, the debate about gun control began. There were immediate calls for gun sales to be restricted, for stronger background checks, etc. Within a few days, CNN held a town hall style meeting where an emotional audience and the local sheriff went on the attack against the NRA. Social media was inundated with calls for gun bans and answering defenses of the second amendment. At the outset, guns were the obvious cause, and both sides responded. I will come back to this.

Soon after this initial knee jerk reaction, information about this specific instance began to come to light. There was a sheriff’s deputy outside the school that stayed outside. The shooter had had 39 visits from various law enforcement agencies over the years. The FBI had been told that this guy was reported to them as a potential school shooter. Even as this information began trickling out, one of the students present at the shooting was making the rounds of talk shows, vilifying the NRA. (I don’t believe a seventeen-year-old becomes an expert on gun control simply because he was present at the shooting, by the way. It’s too bad that he can’t see that he’s a pawn.)

Information continued (and continues) to flow. There were four sheriff’s deputies that never entered the school. EMTs weren’t allowed to go in and treat the injured. The sheriff’s department had failed to make a report by someone who called in a warning about the shooter. The shooter had actually attempted to turn himself in at one point.

Over the last two days I’ve heard two stories which contend that law enforcement has declined to charge and arrest teenagers for various offenses because in one instance, the Department of Justice under Obama wanted fewer minorities in prison, and in the other instance, Florida school districts wanted fewer students in jail, but in school instead. The motivation for the DOJ seems to be political correctness or social justice. There are too many minorities in prison. Therefore, arrest and convict fewer. That’ll solve the problem.

There appear to be a few motivations behind the school districts keeping more kids in school. The first is money. Fewer kids in attendance means less money for the schools. The other seems to be for job security for politicians who can claim that their district is successful in keeping kids in school and out of trouble. At best these motivations are shortsighted or ignorant. At worst, they’re evil.

The results speak for themselves. If a kid like the shooter is never arrested, there is no criminal record to be found when he goes to buy guns. Additionally, he’s on the street able to commit bad acts, instead of behind bars.

Other possible contributing factors have been discussed when it comes to this particular shooter. He had mental health problems. This starts a discussion about whether there is enough support for students with mental illness in the schools. The shooter’s mother died. He had a bad home life. Do families matter that much?

It’s obvious that there has been a breakdown of some sort in the way the Broward County Sheriff’s office handles active shooting calls. If either or both of the stories I read about law enforcement not arresting teenagers for political or monetary reasons is true, this indicates serious institutional flaws that need to be corrected immediately.

I don’t believe this is the end of the story of what happened and of who the bad actors are. I believe Broward County has some rotten policies and bad actors. I also believe that the sheriff in charge knows this and is doing his best to hide these policies and actors behind an emotional appeal to limit gun rights. He wants everyone to look at his right hand so no one notices what his left hand is hiding. He knows that his career and his reputation are in jeopardy, so he’s fighting for his own survival right now.

Hence, back to the attack on guns. This is where many people want to keep the argument. Those who want gun ownership restricted or outlawed will make emotional appeal after emotional appeal. Take the guns off of the street before more kids are killed! Protect our kids! Politicians are getting air time and probably campaign contributions. As I mentioned, one of the students is getting a lot of attention right now.

I believe the gun control argument is what they used to call a ‘straw man’ argument in law school. Even assuming that all gun sales were banned now, and had been since 2016, this would not eliminate guns. There are approximately 300 million guns in the U.S., according the Congressional Research Service. So if someone wants to get their hands on a gun, they’ll be able to do it.

Maybe it would be more difficult to get a gun if they weren’t for sale in stores or gun shows. (I think it would just create a black market and drive prices up, but let’s play along.) No gun, no violence, right? What about the bomb made of fertilizer and other easily available ingredients used in the Oklahoma City Bombing? What about the use of U-Haul vans to plow into people? ISIS uses suicide bombers. Guns are not the only way to kill a lot of people if that’s your aim.

These arguments also ignore the elephant in the room. Gun ownership is a Constitutional right. It’s guaranteed by the Second Amendment. Why? Because a government that knows its citizenry is armed is much less likely to try to take away their other rights. Hence, there is no First Amendment without a Second Amendment. This does not become any less important or true because a bad guy decided to shoot a lot of people.

So why the gun control argument every time? Obviously, gun control advocates see this as a chance to further their agenda. Politicians can seem ‘tough on crime.’ More insidious, those in power want more control over those they ‘lead.’ I could get into a discussion about how disarming people is taking away their power and how that is exactly what dictators want. I could talk about how this country seems to be  dividing itself into two camps-the Left and the Right, which is a dangerous place to go when we need more unity. But I have a different point to make here.

Getting into a long and prolonged argument about guns every single time a mass shooting happens gets in the way of finding the ACTUAL cause and finding cures. It stands in the way of finding better ways to handle what will inevitably happen again. It prevents us from having a discussion that will allow us to maybe even prevent some of these shootings.

What if, as a country, we agreed that taking guns off the street won’t change a thing and set fire to that straw man? What if we focused instead on dissecting the problem? Is there a mental illness epidemic in the schools? If so, why? What can be done about it? Is there a breakdown in the family? Is it causing young men to feel alienated and unable to handle difficult emotions? If so, what can we do about it?

Is law enforcement not arresting people it should be arresting? If so, why not? And how can we change that? Should teachers be armed? Should there be armed guards in the school? Should students be allowed to carry concealed weapons?

There are many, many issues here that need to be examined, analyzed, and discussed. We have a lot of great thinkers and problem solvers in this country. I feel confident that we as a nation can solve this problem if we stop arguing and start working together to find solutions. I think if we worried less about being right about guns and more about solving the actual problem, we could do it. Together.

 

 

 

Dating After Divorce Survival Guide

Dating after divorce is not for the faint of heart. It bears very little resemblance to never-married-20something dating. I should know. I’ve been engaging in this tricky (and sometimes downright bizarre) pastime for the last two and a half years and so far I have survived to tell. So for you newbies, here is my best advice, in the form of a survival guide. Take it with you whenever you dare to engage in post-divorce dating.

First tip: if you’ve been divorced less than 6 months, just say no. You’re not ready. Trust me. Everyone always thinks they’re ready. They’re not. I thought I was ready after three weeks. I went out and found three guys to date. What a woman I was! I could attract and keep three men pursuing me, all at the same time! Needless to say, none of those guys are still around. You see, newly divorced people often have something to prove. Like, “I’m still attractive to the opposite sex, even if my spouse stopped loving me!”

After I had been divorced for about a year and calmed down on the whole “must date the whole world so I can prove how attractive I am” thing, I made another big mistake. I dated a man who was newly divorced. Of course I thought “he’s different” mainly because he was so cute and we connected so well that I really wanted him to be different. He pursued me relentlessly. Funny texts, inspiring emails, flowers, I love you’s, sweet kisses. It lasted all of three weeks. He swept me off my feet and then dumped me on my tush. Because hello, he was only divorced for three months when I met him.

Newly divorced folks just aren’t right in the head. They have so much unfinished emotional business that they simply are not ready to get emotionally involved with someone new. After my three guy phase, I decided maybe the naysayers were right. I wasn’t ready, so I took my counselor’s advice and read ‘Rebuilding: When Your Relationship Ends’ by Bruce Fisher and Robert Alberti. (Available on Amazon here.

Rebuilding: When Your Relationship Ends, 3rd Edition (Rebuilding Books; For Divorce and Beyond)

This book took me through the mental work I needed to do to get me on the road to being relationship ready again. In time. Not right away. Because let’s face it. Everyone who is divorced has some baggage. Sometimes it’s fairly serious baggage. It’s not fair to lug that baggage to a new person and expect them to help you unpack it in a casual dating relationship. I am responsible for unpacking my own bags. At least the biggest ones. We all take something into a marriage or dating relationship, but we can’t expect someone else to be our therapist/counselor/life coach. That’s why we pay therapists/counselors/life coaches. So we can be fit to live with.

Once you’ve given yourself some time to get your head on somewhat straight and are ready to dip your toes in the water, fasten your seatbelt for a rough ride. Everything you remember about dating has changed. Now you have an ex. You likely have kids. You have a lot of responsibilities. You have the financial challenges that come from the divorce. Not only are you dealing with the fact that you are now divorced, you are also juggling paying child support (or worrying that your ex won’t pay it this month). Same with alimony. You now may have child custody issues. You may have a rocky relationship with your ex, which may include court appearances.

So picture having all of this going on and deciding to go out and find someone to date! Are you nuts? Okay, so you’re lonely. Single parenting takes it out of you. Or you don’t see your kids as often as you want to, and that makes you sad. You want some companionship. You want some fun. You want someone to hold you and tell you everything’s going to be okay. So where do you find these potential love interests?

There are a few options. First there is the local LDS single scene. There are firesides, singles conferences, dances, house parties, etc. If you happen to live in Utah, Idaho, or Arizona, you might find a very good selection of folks to date this way. If not, maybe not so much. Once you’ve been to enough of these you’ve met pretty much everyone in the group. Once you’ve dated everyone of interest in your group, you start waiting and praying that someone new will show up. (This puts you in the awkward situation of thinking “Am I praying for someone to get divorced or widowed??” I like to think that I’m praying for someone to move into my area that was already divorced or widowed with no help from my prayers or wishes!)

Tip #2: If you’re getting tired of going to local activities with the hopes of meeting someone to date and you know everyone in the group already, either change your focus or take a break. Instead of focusing on finding someone, focus on helping someone. I have a little prayer I say before I go to every activity. It goes a little something like this, “Please let me find a great guy to date. If I can’t find a great guy, let me have fun. If I can’t have fun, let me find someone that needs my help.” One of those things usually happens. But that way, my focus shifts so I’m not disappointed when I don’t find a great guy to date. I either have fun and/or I help someone. That generally means lending a listening ear or giving some words of encouragement. Either way, time well spent. If you simply can’t face another activity, take a break for a month or two. Go work on your hobbies, spend time with family, whatever. When you go back, there just might be some new folks to acquaint yourself with. And some of the excitement will come back.

If you don’t find anyone you want to date, (or who wants to date you!) in the group, you can go online. There are various LDS websites. I’ve been on a few, namely LDSPlanet and Mutual. I have young children so I can’t easily relocate so I restrict my dating criteria to locals. I’ve had a few decent dates with guys on Planet and been catfished once. I’ll get into that later. Mutual is still fairly new so doesn’t have many people to choose from yet. But it’s free. Planet charges. I’ve actually had more luck with finding men on Facebook. Of course I spend an inordinate amount of time on there, which I don’t recommend for people that have a life!

The fun (not really) thing about meeting someone online is that you really have no idea of what the person is like. You see carefully selected pictures, a few facts, and if you’re lucky a few paragraphs about the person. Not only does this not give you a sense of who the person really is, but it’s an opportunity for people to misrepresent themselves. And of course you don’t find this out until you spend time with the person in real life.

Which leads me to my catfish story and my next piece of advice. I received a ‘flirt’ from a man on Planet (not that it matters where it’s at, all sights can fall prey to these people). I checked out his profile. There was a nice picture and an intriguing blurb about the gentleman in the picture. I accepted his invitation to chat and soon we were exchanging texts. I was in a mood so I agreed to meet him for a short hike in a very public place that same day. He told me that he no longer had a beard like the one in his picture because he had grown that as a dare for work.

He told me what vehicle he would be in so I spotted him right away. My jaw dropped. I knew that guy and it wasn’t the guy in the picture! (Long story short I had been on Planet about 6 months earlier and had a few phone calls with a guy who I googled and found to be an entirely different guy-different picture, different name-than the one in his profile. I also found complaints on websites about him and how he had defrauded a charity.) This was the same guy. He had catfished me. Again.

For those lucky enough to not know what catfishing is, the definition I found online is “lure (someone) into a relationship by means of a fictional online persona.” That pretty much sums it up. This time I didn’t let him get away without giving him a piece of my mind. We had never met in person before so he didn’t know he was caught. (Who was the fish now??) I told him he looked nothing like his picture and he gave some lame excuse like “My kids don’t know I’m dating, so I use a different picture.” I spent the next twenty minutes trying to see if I could get him to be honest with me. I was actually kind of fascinated to hear from this supposed good member of the church. The funny thing is that even after I outed him, he still wanted to go out again. I laughed and told him I had no interest in someone who has no integrity. He later emailed another lame excuse and apology.

Which brings me to my third tip: If you’re looking at online profiles and you see only one picture and it looks professional, keep moving. Or better yet, report that person to the site. He or she is most likely catfishing. And if you do agree to date someone, if you don’t know them outside of the online realm, meet them in a public place the first time. Don’t invite someone to your home unless you can vouch for them some other way, like they’re in your friend’s ward, or dated someone you know, etc.

However you meet someone, you’ll find that many people carry some fairly heavy duty baggage. I’m not saying that’s only us divorced folks. It makes sense that these exist in married people as well, but we don’t often hear about their problems because we have no need to. I’ve met men with sex addictions, porn addictions, and drug/alcohol addictions. These are some pretty serious issues that cannot be disregarded when you’re looking for a potential mate. Thankfully, most people are fairly open about these issues so you can make decisions with all of the information.

I’m not saying don’t date people with these addictions. Some are in recovery and have been clean for a long time. Others are still actively engaging in them. This is where you have to use logic and the Spirit to guide you. I would not date someone who is actively using anything. I am also extremely cautious of men who are in recovery, especially because I have young children in my home. I cannot risk exposing them to use of any substances and the effects they bring. For example, I dated a fellow once that had a DUI not many months previously and was now required to blow into a breathalyzer in his vehicle before he could drive anywhere. That was an interesting date. If I didn’t have children, I might consider taking that kind of challenge on. With children, it’s a nonstarter. There are too many risks inherent there. So my tip would be: Stay emotionally detached long enough to know what this potential partner is dealing with. Do not allow emotion to cloud your judgment. Then once you have gathered the important information, use logic and the Spirit. If you have a history of dating someone with addictions, is it really a good idea to take it on?

If you happen to have your own addiction, please share this at the appropriate time, before you become emotionally involved and might be tempted to hide it. If you don’t want to share, stop dating the person. It’s not fair to get involved with someone who doesn’t have a complete picture of you. This also applies to major mental or physical illness, extreme debt, or any other big challenge you’re dealing with.

Last tip. Have fun. As my counselor told me when I expressed anxiety because I had met a good guy and was worried about being hurt, “Don’t catastrophize! Just take it one date at a time.” Yes, there is a lot to be cautious about. There are a lot of potential potholes, but this is also a chance to get out and have fun! Go to dances and get out on the dance floor with your buddies and don’t worry about whether you dance the slow dances. Go to activities, play games, socialize, and make new friends of both sexes. You need friends. They are more important than who you’re currently dating.

Don’t share your whole life story including your divorce nightmare on your first date. Be light. Be yourself. Don’t worry about where the date will take you. Be a good listener. Observe. Be discerning. Say a little prayer before you go out and after you get home. Keep the Lord with you and have a positive attitude and you’ll survive the post-divorce dating jungle and even have some fun along the way.

(Also published on Meridian Magazine at https://ldsmag.com/a-survival-guide-to-dating-after-divorce/ )

How I Turned a Difficult Child Around by Turning Myself Around

For those of you that know me, you know that I’ve been trying, and mostly failing, to ‘fix’ a tough kid for quite some time. For many years now, one of my daughters has been calling me names, having major temper tantrums when she doesn’t get her own way, bullying her sisters, hitting me, biting me, occasionally threatening me with a knife, and for a while was telling me she wanted to kill me. The death threats were so frequent that I began thinking about Princess Bride-“I’ll most likely kill you in the morning,” the Dread Pirate Roberts would tell Wesley every night-whenever she would make them. They were mostly amusing because she was pretty young. I don’t think I would have been laughing if she was 16.

Like any good (and desperate) parent, I began looking for help. I went to classes about dealing with “strong willed” children. I read books recommended to me by the instructors of the class, books recommended by special ed teachers, and other books that sounded like they would apply to my situation. I started her in counseling. I was in counseling. I finally took her to be psychologically tested. Intermittent Explosive Disorder was what they diagnosed her with. That’s right. IED. Seemed appropriate. After all, she would often go off like an Improvised Explosive Device.

So now I had a diagnosis and recommendations. They included family counseling. Already doing that. Getting her into sports or other activities she likes to help her boost her self-esteem. Check. And a few other things I can’t remember off the bat, but I did them all. Things continued to escalate. In case you don’t know, I’m a single mom of three daughters ages 7, 8, and almost 10. Things get a bit hairy around the house on the best of days. When she would ‘explode’ things got downright scary.

To give you a picture of what things were like, things would usually heat up in the mornings. For whatever reason “A” (I’ll call her A because all of my girls’ names start with an A) would refuse to get dressed, eat breakfast, or whatever. I would insist. She would yell at me. I would yell back at her. She would then lunge at me or run away and I would chase her down and make her do whatever it was she wasn’t doing. I would inevitably get called a name, a sister would most likely get screamed at, and maybe hit by her, and once I got her out the door for school, I would spend 30 minutes crying or tearing my hair out because of how miserable the morning was.
One low point came when I told A she couldn’t take her phone to school the next day. She yelled at me and I yelled back. She yelled some more. I told her the windows were open and the neighbors would hear us. Didn’t matter. The yelling continued. On this occasion it was mostly her. Everyone calms down and gets ready for bed. About 30 minutes later, there’s pounding at the front door. It’s the police. My first thought is there’s a criminal on the loose and they’re warning the neighborhood. Nope. Somebody called in a domestic disturbance because they thought a man was yelling at a woman. Not sure who the man in the scenario was supposed to be. They saw that I was fine. Talked to A for a few minutes and then left. That night was also memorable because it was my birthday. (That’s one of the reasons I’m determined to go to Maui for my birthday this year. I need a re-do!)

After we started on a second counselor and things were still not improving, I decided to go the medication route. The counselor wholeheartedly agreed. I took A to a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. She recommended genetic testing, which we did. It revealed a few things such as the fact that A is kind of opposite of ADHD. She gets hyper focused on things. I can see that because she obsesses about something new about every week. She had a few other things going on that gave the PNP enough info that she was able to give a somewhat tepid recommendation for a medication. I said “Let’s try it!” Anything was welcome at this point. So we started her on a low dose.

Right around this time, I posted on Facebook asking friends what they did to not take things their children said in anger personally. (Part of my problem was that I have a history of being verbally abused by a few people in my past, which mostly included being called names. This would make it very difficult for me to handle it when A called me names. I was seeing a counselor to help me deal with this, but it was still a huge problem for me.)

There were some great responses to my Facebook post. One was to read a book called ‘The Anatomy of Peace’ by The Arbinger Institute. This was a fabulous book that teaches you how to see other people as people and not just impediments. Another friend recommended an article on www.ahaparenting.com entitled ‘Getting Strong-Willed Kids to Cooperate without Punishment.’ There was quite a bit of good information in this article and the author, Dr. Laura Markham, recommended her book ‘Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids,’ for more information. I wanted more information! So I ordered the book.

That book was a game changer. I read it and began implementing her recommendations and the drama in the house has gone down significantly! So much so that I backed A off of her medication (which had never been up to a therapeutic dose and so probably wasn’t making a difference) and when I told the PNP what I was doing with A and why, she told me that most parents take years or never get to the point where I was at with my parenting and that I should teach seminars because I explained it so well. I showed her the book. She recommended that we back A off of the medication and see how it goes. She told me that medication is a last ditch effort and that what I was doing was far superior. Yay me!

So what am I doing? Well, I changed my parenting radically. The book talks about ‘The Three Big Ideas.’ I call them the three Cs. I’m going to lay them out for you and explain how they helped me. I am also going to vlog about this for those that like video. But I highly recommend that you buy and read the book. Mark it up, take notes. Make it your parenting bible. (And no, I don’t get a cut of the sales or anything. I just love the book and want everyone to have the success I’ve had!)

You can buy it on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/Peaceful-Parent-Happy-Kids-Connecting/dp/0399160280/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1517693098&sr=8-1&keywords=peaceful+parent+happy+kids

The Three C’s
The first C is Calm. Or Regulating Yourself. This means that when we are parenting, we stay calm because we regulate our own emotions. Kids will push our buttons. They are particularly skilled and qualified to do this. As Dr. Markham says, if you have buttons that are being pushed you need to excavate them. You need to develop mindfulness. This means being able to feel an emotion without acting on it. Not only does this allow us to keep things from escalating when kids misbehave, but it also models to our children how to handle their emotions.

There is a lot of great specific advice in the book on how to learn to regulate your emotions. Like not taking action when you’re triggered. And nurturing ourselves. We all come into parenting with childhood issues. We need to notice when we’re triggered and why. We need to talk ourselves through those emotions instead of acting on them.

As I mentioned, I was being triggered by A calling me names. The book taught me not to take that personally as it had nothing to do with me. It was A’s way of showing that she wasn’t getting some need met. I learned to stay calm when she exploded and to walk away when I couldn’t stay calm. I did a lot of inner work on myself and addressed some old childhood issues that came popping up. I began nurturing myself. The book says, “You deserve all the tenderness you would shower on a newborn baby. Giving that love to ourselves transforms our parenting—and our lives.” In other words, we need to parent ourselves. If we didn’t feel unconditional love growing up, we need to offer that love to ourselves now.

Another great point Dr. Markham makes is that every decision we make in life is based on love or fear. We need to make every decision—especially parenting decision—from love. Love for ourselves and love for our kids.

So I now stay calm most of the time when A explodes. I mess up occasionally like we all do, but I apologize, forgive myself and move on. The calmness keeps things from escalating. A temper tantrum that would’ve lasted 10 minutes and included yelling and maybe getting physical, now lasts less than a minute and doesn’t include me yelling or anyone getting physical. (She still yells, but I allow her to get it off her chest and she gets over it quickly and moves on.)

The second C is Connection. This means that you are connecting with your child on a meaningful basis daily so that she knows that you love her unconditionally, big emotions and all. The idea behind this is that if your child knows that you adore her and think the world of her, she will want to behave. She will want to please you, emulate you, and be close to you. If you think about it, don’t we all want that? Don’t we all deserve and yearn to have someone that loves us no matter what and believes that we are the greatest thing since sliced bread?
(I feel like the parent that this book helps us to become is the ideal parent that any of us would have loved to have! For those who watch ‘This is Us,’ this parent resembles Jack. As you read about the three C’s you can picture a loving, kind, helpful, supportive parent that rarely loses their cool and is always there with a kind word and gentle course correction. Maybe some of you had that or are already intuitively that kind of parent. If so, congratulations! If not, we can do our best to give that gift to our own kids.)

One of the best ways to connect with our kids is through what Dr. Markham calls Special Time. This is where you spend 15 minutes of one-on-one time with your child doing what they want to do. You turn off your phone and focus solely on this child. Play is a great way to spend this time. This lets the child know that they are important to you and gives them a chance to express themselves to you. This is a great bonding time and something children hunger for. I started doing this with all three of my girls, though they usually get 10 minutes since there are three of them and time is usually short.

Another way to connect is through frequent hugs. My youngest child used to sing “Four hugs a day, that’s the minimum,” in kindergarten. I found out from reading this book that there was a study which showed that people need four hugs a day for survival, eight hugs a day for maintenance, and twelve hugs a day to thrive. So I make sure I am hugging them as often as I can. They love it. And I love it. It’s a win-win. Often when A begins a meltdown, I will grab her and put her on my lap and hug her. This will usually get a positive response. One of the things the book mentions is that when kids ‘misbehave’ it’s because they are not feeling connected to you.

The Third C is Coaching, not Controlling. If you’ve ever read any parenting books where they break down parenting style into four types, you’ve heard of Neglectful, Authoritarian, Permissive, and Authoritative. Dr. Markham points out that Authoritative is the best way. Or as she calls it ‘loving guidance.’ This means not trying to make your children behave. That includes not using punishment.

It’s a hard concept, but one that totally rings true to me. As your children get bigger, you can no longer pick them up and carry them into timeout. (Unless you want to risk injuring yourself or your kid.) The more you try to punish, the bigger the stick you need. Or if you’re using rewards, the bigger the carrot. Coaching, on the other hand, allows you to set empathetic limits. If you are staying calm and connected, the child will want to behave for you. They are motivated to please you. This motivation comes from the inside rather than from an external force (i.e. you) making them do something.

There is a section in the book that lists all of the reasons that punishment doesn’t work, and actually makes the child less likely to behave. One thing that punishment ignores is that children are ‘misbehaving’ because they aren’t getting something they need (like connection with you), or they are feeling some big scary emotions they don’t know how to deal with. The book teaches how to ‘emotion coach’ our kids. This allows us to help them deal with their emotions so they can regulate themselves instead of continuing to act out. Regulating their emotions is a big step towards having emotional intelligence, or resilience, which is the foundation that will help your child succeed in life. (The book spends a lot of time on emotional intelligence and how to teach it to our children.)

So if we emotion coach our children instead of punishing them, we teach them to regulate themselves over the long run. This makes them easier to parent. I find this to really apply to difficult kids. A does much better when I allow her a lot of latitude. I give her as much control over her life as I can. When she acts out, I help her deal with her emotions. I do this in a few ways. The book goes into detail on emotion coaching, but a few ways are: helping your child giggle or cry. Both allow her to release a lot of tension. Giggling can be done with playful roughhousing, tickling, etc. Helping her to get past her anger to tears can be done by holding the child and looking at her with empathy while setting limits. (I really recommend reading about this in detail in the book.)

Tears release stress. Seven minutes of crying reduces stress by 40 percent. I can attest to this from my own experience! Usually you can catch your kid early enough to produce giggles, but if they’re too rigid and unable to work with you at all, tears may be the best way to release the built up emotions. Either way, once the child has released the big emotions, they are done with misbehaving and ready to get back on an even keel.

I give A special time, lots of hugs, stay calm most of the time, and do my best to coach her through her tantrums. As you might have noticed, these actions were all taken by me to change my own behavior. I didn’t try to change A. I can’t change another person in a meaningful way. I can only change myself. Once I learned to regulate my own emotions and stay calm (probably the hardest C for me) things changed dramatically. A still has tantrums from time to time, but they are much less frequent and don’t escalate. We also have a closer relationship and a more peaceful home. (As peaceful as a home can be that has three children!)

This kind of parenting is a lot of work and takes a lot of time, but it is well worth it! After all, parenting is the most important thing we will do in this life. Its effects have eternal ramifications. And they affect the here and now. Not only are we raising children to become healthy, happy, self-fulfilled adults, but we are creating a happy, peaceful home now.

I hope you took something away from this and will pick up the book and give this method a try.
A

(Also Published on Meridian Magazine a https://ldsmag.com/how-i-turned-a-difficult-child-around-by-turning-myself-around/)

Here is my vlog on The Three Cs: