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Scream Free Parenting

Principles for Sanity

Raising your kids by keeping your cool - Hal Runkel

ScreamFree \skrēm'frē\: learning to relate with others in a calm, cool, and connected way, taking hold of your own emotional responses no matter how anyone else chooses to behave; learning to focus on yourself and take care of yourself for the world's benefit.

Hal Runkel, author and speaker of Scream Free Parenting is a Marriage and Family Therapist, Relationship Coach, and International Speaker. His company, ScreamFree Living, Inc. is dedicated to calming the world one relationship at a time.

Princple Number 1 - Parenting is not about kids, it's about parents.

The greatest thing that we can do for our kids is to learn to focus on ourselves. I know that this sounds very selfish, but listen to the reasoning. Parents who focus exclusively on their children neglect their own needs. Many parents lose their identity, and more, when they have children. They end up forgetting what hobbies they used to enjoy and places that they used to go. Their lives are so wrapped up with the lives of their children as parents that they forget who they are as individuals.

Hal re-examines the old model of focusing on the needs of others to the exclusion of our own needs. Focusing on the needs of others has been seen as altruistic, selfless, and even righteous behavior! To question such a model is to draw controversy. But let's examine this for a moment. Can you control the needs and wants of others? No, you cannot. So trying to live your life according to the needs, or the actions of others will make your life absolutely miserable.

Take the emotional outburst of a 2-year old. The child doesn't have the emotional ability to look at a situation objectively or to analyze the best course of action after carefully weighing the options. No, a young child perceives that their needs or desires are being denied and so they let go with their biggest weapon - their mouths, hands, and feet! Many parents, experiencing this onslaught tend to also respond in kind. Instead of being the adult, with full emotional control, they tend to react in the same manner, but using longer "adult" words and possibly even striking out with their hands or feet.

So, the first principle is to get yourself under control. That means that parents, indeed all adults, must get their emotions under control so that they don't react every time they feel sad, shocked, surprised, angry, or overwhelmed. Part of this control comes from the realization that they are responsible to others (including our children), and that we are not responsible for them. In other words, we cannot take the credit/blame for their actions, thoughts, or feelings. We are responsible for our emotions and actions toward them.

ScreamFree Parenting (or Adulting) is learning to focus on ourselves. We must take responsibility for our own reactions to events and circumstances. It is our obligation to react in a reasonable and calm manner after we soothe our own anxieties and fears. Take a few minutes to ask yourself how you can do that. People have found that walks, exercise, reading, television, etc. all help with distractions. Ultimately, you need to ask yourself why certain things trigger your emotional response. Once you discover the source, you can work on the solution.

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