Thursday, February 3, 2011

A rabid dog

I subscribe to regular emails from Love and Logic. The quick reminders of parenting truths are great.

Yesterday's email really struck a cord with me. The image of trying to speak reason to a rabid dog was so vivid. I thought I'd pass along this little bit of wisdom. Next time my teenager tries to suck me in to one of his fights, I'm going to picture him with a dog collar around his neck and just a bit of foam at his mouth. Then, I'm going to walk away before I get bit.


Have you ever had a successful debate with a rabid dog? I tried it once. It didn't go very well:

Fido [biting my leg]: Grrrr

Me: Now Fido, if you keep this up, there will be serious conseq - ow!

Fido [sinking teeth deeper]: Grrrr

Me: Don't you take that tone with me, mister! You are only hurting yourself with these bad choices you're making…

As humans, our miraculous brains can outperform Fido's before our first birthday. Our brains can do things dogs can't - such as complex reasoning and making wise decisions - as long as we are calm.

Unfortunately, when we are very upset, our brains switch to the part that is not much better at thinking than Fido's dog brain.

So, when we try to lecture or reason with an angry kid, we'll probably be as successful as we'd be with a rabid canine. Like Fido, upset kids are unlikely to stop mid-rage and suddenly be swayed by our wise and compelling words.

Wise adults take better care of themselves by waiting for more calm and happy times to talk with kids. They find that when the storm of emotion has passed over, thinking and logic have a better chance. Calm brains may actually be able to hear and understand what the adults are trying to communicate.

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