Many times when I work with families I help them develop hand signals to slow or stop a heated discussion. This way everyone has the potential of gaining control of their words. During one of these sessions I reached over and poked a father in the shoulder to stop engaging in a verbal battle. The son turned to me and said, “You just Cesared my dad.” Of course I googled who Cesar was and discovered, “The Dog Whisperer.”
In each episode of the dog whisperer, Cessr Millan stresses that the owners have a “calm assertive energy.” He uses touch or verbal “tssch” to snap the dogs out of a certain state of mind. He encourages exercise, discipline and affection. What he advocates is a state of mind for being a “good pack leader.”
As parents we also want to be good pack/family leaders. We want to visualize our children making good behavioral choices while we are staying in the moment. We want balance in our family and with our children.
Allow me to break this down for you. Develop a calm assertive energy by taking deep breaths. Have awareness of your body language, the tone of your voice and the word that you speak. If you feel aggressive (heart pounding, shaking, tense muscles, teeth clenched, or incoherent thought) take a time out until you become rational again.
When children are making poor behavioral choices like whining, gossiping, talking back, arguing or obsessed about getting their way, use a code word to interrupt the behavior. The words are chosen by you and your child and convey a special meaning. For example, a code word for gossip could be spaghetti because of the way gossip gets twisted around. Or PSP (personal space please) for kids who are violating someone’s boundaries).
If your child is becoming agitated ask them if they need a hug. Many individuals find a tight hug suppresses the nervous system allowing them to calm down or restore balance.
Mr. Millan encourages “exercise, discipline and affection” which is the same for children. Many times our children are over-scheduled with school, sports, tutoring, music and other activities. We think we are helping them develop skills, make them better than other kids when in fact we are scheduling them out of our lives. Then we are so surprised that they have more respect towards other adults than you the parent. If your child/teen have no time to play with you or feel loved by you it is vital to re-evaluate your priorities. People on the dog whisperer are willing to commit significant time daily to help their dog become balanced, yet parents have difficulty spending 30 minutes daily with their children in developing life skills.
If you invest time, energy with a calm and loving attitude with your child/teen now, you will be rewarded with an amazing relationship in the future.