The Wise family projects an attitude of order rather than chaos – both physically and emotionally. Someone is in charge, everyone knows it, and that someone is the parents. Did you know that your brain (and your kiddos’ developing brain) actually responds to calm or chaos by reacting with feelings of peace or feelings of anger/frustration!
There are certain things that are always done in Wise families (see Habit #7 about traditions), just as there are certain things that are never done. There are certain things that have to be done in a family, also. Keeping calm in your physical environment means deciding who does what and when. This is another way of bringing order to your family. When your family is ordered, everyone feels better – because brains are better able to make decisions and interact with the environment when they can use logic rather than emotion!
Chaos can also happen when people in the family are not comfortable expressing feelings or are not comfortable when others express their feelings. Ever seen your 5-year-old put his fingers in his ears when you and another family member are having a “passionate” discussion? Ever heard silence when you yell out, “That is the last straw!” All feelings should be okay for you and your kids to have. The way they’re expressed can become a problem, however, and can lead to chaos. If everyone in the family is allowed to show their feelings in any way they want, it quickly becomes chaotic. So, it’s important for the expectations about how to appropriately express feelings in a clear manner! We call this “appropriate” expression of feelings – pro-social behavior.
Anger is often the hardest feeling to appropriately express in a family (and out in the wide-wide-world, too). The Wise Family allows anger while still admitting love. All of us need to know we’re fully loved, no matter what emotion we’re feeling at the moment. Anger is one of those powerful emotions that most people see as negative. It is important for family members to accept this feeling at the same time they let the angry member know he/she is still loved. That doesn’t mean parents allow children to express their anger in a way that’s not pro-social (e.g., hitting, throwing toys, biting, screaming). They teach the right way to express anger and make sure uncomfortable consequences follow when kids don’t.
Modeling the appropriate way to express and handle anger is a parent’s responsibility. Learn how to control yourself when you’re angry and show it to your kids. Put yourself in “Time Out” or go to a “Calm Down Corner” of your own. Take deep breathes, get a drink of water, take a walk…Help them understand anger won’t tear the family apart. But learning to manage big feelings is an essential part of learning emotional self-regulation – and a big part of managing the chaos that fills many of our homes!
Control the chaos, Be calm and Be WISE!