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Posts Tagged ‘Parenting & Kids’

All of us, at some point in our life, has either been the recipient or the presenter of THE SILENT TREATMENT. No one really likes it but we have to admit, it can be used as a powerful tool to close a deal or get one’s way. But it can be a symptom of a communication/relationship breakdown.

PART 1:  WHEN THE SILENT TREATMENT IS EFFECTIVE

ONE:  As a parent I admit I am a yeller. I yell, and Yell, and YELL! My kids are used to the yelling. Most of the time I’m just being vocal because I’m frustrated, and they don’t listen to the yelling. It’s just white noise to them.

But when I’m angry! Really, really angry… I get quiet… and then they’re scared because that silence is LOUD. Generally, their behavior snaps to good, they clean up, and they’re trying to make mom happy again because mom’s silence is SCARY. They’ll say anything to get you to talk “You still love me, don’t you, mommy?”

TWO:  Closing the deal. Whether you’re a salesperson or selling an idea to your spouse, the silent treatment is an absolute must-have skill because the first one to speak generally caves in.

Example 1:
salesperson: So what do you think?

customer: [silently thinking “how will I explain the motorcycle purchase to my wife?]

salesperson gets nervous: “We can take an extra 10% off for being a loyal customer

customer: [silence. 10% off, I can justify that to my wife] salesperson nervous about losing the sale gives other incentives…and his commission isn’t nearly as good.

The salesman caved because he spoke first.

Example 2:
salesperson: So what do you think?

customer: [silently thinking]

salesperson: [silently waiting tick tock, tick tock]

customer: I’ll take it.

DEAL CLOSED.

Example 1:
child: Mommy, can I have that shiny new Tonka truck, please?

mom: No. I don’t want to spend the money.

child: [Throws a tantrum, makes a lot of noise. Mother is TICKED!]

DEFINITELY NO TOY

Example 2:

child: Mommy, can I have that shiny new Tonka truck, please?

mom: No. I don’t want to spend the money

child: [forlorn but quietly accepts the decision. He’s sad but he smiles with hope in his eyes every time you look his way.]

mom: SIGH you’ve been so good. Go ahead and get your truck.

WIN FOR THE KID!

Tell me I’m wrong?

In these cases, the silent treatment gives the other party time to think about the decision. Too many people are uncomfortable with the silence. They need an immediate answer or instant gratification so they talk first to plead the case. Little do they realize they are sabotaging themselves.

Now in the case of sample B: with the little boy. Even if mom sincerely couldn’t afford the toy right then and there, you can bet she was probably thinking how much he deserved it for being so good so the next trip out she might surprise him with it. Am I wrong?

PART 2: WHEN THE SILENT TREATMENT IS BAD

As I mentioned in Part 1, we’ve all used the Silent Treatment to close a sale or get our way, but there are times when this powerful tool is used for evil.

Q: How can being silent be bad?
A: When there is a lack of communication or relationship breakdown.

When people are in a relationship one would hope they’ve learned how to meaningfully communicate with each other. Sometimes this is not the case.

A case of the empty nest: An example might be two very busy people with jobs, kids, house duties…and they haven’t REALLY spoken to each other in years except to pass off messages: Pick the kids up from school; Please pick up milk on your way home, etc. Then once the kids are gone you have nothing to talk about. Sometimes that silence is unbearable.

A case of emotional abuse: A: When in the midst of a discussion and it gets heated, especially when there is a disagreement, and one person turns away and gives the silent treatment/cold shoulder – it is a break in communication. It is a physical manifestation of denying the existence or opinions of the other person. Said that way, it’s hurtful when that happens, isn’t it?

If you feel like you’re being nagged and you ignore them because you KNOW it drives them crazy. You have stopped communicating and now you are being passive-aggressive.

But how is being quiet wrong?
1. Perhaps because you are not dealing with the reason WHY they might be nagging at you. Perhaps you don’t want to be blamed, acknowledge that you have faults, or feel guilty about not following through on something you promised.

2. Now there is the other scenario where the silent treatment is implemented because you feel like you don’t have a voice in the relationship so you shut up just to get away from “the discussion” as soon as possible.

If you don’t have a voice in a partnership then it is not a healthy one! There is no healthy dialogue and you don’t feel like your opinion counts. If that happens, then your self-esteem plummets.

3. Using the silent treatment as a form of manipulation. For example, at a party: “Well, since my boyfriend isn’t talking to me then I’m just going to ignore him the ENTIRE night. Maybe I’ll just go talk to that cute boy over there.” – or – “If she really cares about me then she’s going to ask what’s wrong.”

The one who plays the silent treatment card is assuming the other person can read their mind.

Guess what?
We can’t read your mind!

HEAL THE COMMUNICATION GAP

To heal the communication gap it’s always best to acknowledge it. “I am too angry to talk about this right now. Let’s try to discuss this when we’re both calm. I need time to think.”

“I don’t feel like you’re listening to what I have to say so I’m going to walk away right now.”

Even a “Please let me know when it’s my turn to talk” is better than shutting up in these cases.

If you are using it for manipulation then acknowledge that! Speak up. “Hey, I don’t feel comfortable standing at the party by myself. Can you introduce me to some of your friends?”

“We should talk” works and be willing to be quiet and actively listen!  It’s much healthier than closing your mouth and your ears!

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I should have said “I love you” more
You were the very first love of my life
When I was helpless you took care of me
You comforted me and raised me up
You dried my tears and cleaned my wounds
You kissed away every boo boo
But as I started growing up
You ceased being my entire world
And were kicked to the side
Replaced by friends, school and boys
I never knew how much that hurt
Not until I had my own children
And experienced the brush off myself
And as I got older I realized
How truly brilliant you were
And though you were never replaced in my heart
I should have said “I LOVE YOU” more.

To my dad – the missing piece in my heart.
Rest in Peace. Oct. 24, 1950 to June 22, 2010

photo courtesy of Meredith Loughran. All rights reserved.
originally posted January 30, 2014

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I will never forget the day my father fell from the daddy pedestal I built up for him. It was not drastic nor painful but more like comic relief.

I was in the 7th grade and had learned how to make pickles in my home economics class. I brought home my jar of pickles and couldn’t wait until dad got home to try them.

“Hey dad, do you know how to make pickles?” I asked.

“Sure!” he replied, “You just pick the pickles off the plant, boil ’em and throw a little spice into it.”

“Uh, you mean cucumbers, right?” I know I didn’t hear him right.

“No. PICKLES.” “But dad – you make pickles out of cucumbers.”

Now I think he’s pulling my leg. “No you don’t. Pickles are pickles. You pick them.”

All right. I think he’s serious.

“Dad,” I said, holding up my jar of fresh-made pickles, “what do these look like?”

“Uh…  Cucumbers?”

Boy did we laugh! But that was the first time I realized dad didn’t know everything.

Photo courtesy of Stephan Jarl @plotting for independence

Originally posted January 25, 2014

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A Memory of a Conversation with my 10-year-old Son

There is nothing like a simple, loving memory which warms my heart and makes me miss my babies.

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My son HATES therapy.  He thinks I’m trying to change him.  He believes I am trying to mold him into something he’s not.  I really wish he would understand that the things I do for him are to give him the tools to be an independent and confident young man.

So what I did was put together a list of goals of which he must accomplish in his own time before I would even consider ending therapy.  I might make note that he said no and hell no to everything on the list (and just as a side remark, I did invite him to help me create the list & he did not) – and here they are:

SOCIAL GOALS:

* Invite friends home to play or hang out (at least 2 times a month)
* When invited to a friend’s house ACCEPT the invitation
* Attend a school dance
     (you don’t have to dance, but go with friends & hang out)
* Join an after-school club or sport

SCHOOL GOALS:

* Ask for help if you are confused or lost.

Remember: The difference between a stupid person and a smart person is: A stupid person THINKS they know all the answers.  A smart person will keep asking questions TO LEARN MORE.

HOME GOALS EVERY DAY:

* Keep your bedroom door open at least one hour in the evening.
     (You don’t even have to be in it.)
* Ask the adults in your life how their day was.
* Share/Express at least one good and one bad thing that happened to you.
     (could be something as simple as a new person saying HI to you – good)
     (could be something as silly as tripping on your shoelaces – bad)

HOME GOALS AT LEAST ONCE A MONTH:

* Plan a week’s worth of dinner menus (with mom or Pat’s help)
* Grocery shop for your menu (with mom or Pat)
* Find an old favorite or new dessert recipe & make it for the family

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Picture day at elementary school was always a gut cruncher for me. 

I already knew that Brandon was going to argue about what to wear.  Please, Lord, let him wear something other than sweatpants!  I admit I let that argument go a long time ago when he very logically explained that pictures only show him from the waist up.  Is he going to brush his hair?  Better yet, is he going to let one of the school aides brush his hair – you know, because pictures were ALWAYS after recess!

No, no, even that wasn’t so bad to deal with.  The biggest thing for me was Brandon’s beautiful smile.  I know he’s got one.  On rare occassions, I’ve even seen it!

So in a patient, loving and almost desperate plea, I would say, “Now, Brandon… When the guy is taking your picture, just smile!  Say cheese, ok?”

He always rolled his eyes, and I would take a deep breath and put him on the bus – then a passing thought, “I hope the pictures are acceptable enough to pass along to family and friends.”

Invariably, I get…

Cheeeeeese

Brandon in 5th Grade

Ok, nevermind, Brandon.
You don’t ever have to smile for school pictures again.
Mommy loves you!

XOXOX

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You know what they say to do when you’re on fire: Stop, Drop and Roll.
It’s the same thing, with a twist, when you’re dealing with an Aspie child, whether there’s a “fire” brewing or you’re in the midst of a 4-alarm blazing tantrum.

The best advice I can give is:

Stop It. Drop It. Roll With It. 

Whether you believe it or not, these kids hate conflict as much as the next person. Now don’t get me wrong, my child will argue a point with me until my hair hurts. He strikes his brothers when they rile him enough. He’s had fights in school because he felt wronged in some way.

Hmm… Can we say behavioral problems? Unfortunately my son didn’t have the benefit of an early diagnosis, and certainly no Early Intervention (E.I.), but we are making progress by leaps and bounds with these three simple steps:

STOP IT:  You’re trying to make a point.  He says you’re nagging.  You try to word it another way.  He’s blocked you out and stopped listening.  You’re getting frustrated and losing your temper.  He’s hit the “F.U.” stage and now you’re both toeing the adrenaline pumping, blind rage, full-blown tantrum line. The flames are spiraling out of control. STOP IT.

You, as the parent, MUST shut up. I know it sounds harsh, but it works.  They say “Silence is Golden.” I say, “The Silent Treatment’s a MIRACLE.”

Now, shut up doesn’t mean shut down. 

You just need a quiet moment to regroup and get yourself under control. 

DROP IT:  Once you’ve taken a moment to be quiet – drop it. Drop your tone of voice and your shoulders. Whatever the tantrum was about is secondary to getting back into control. Quietly, but firmly, make a matter-of-fact statement. Here are some examples that work for me: “I am not arguing about this anymore.”  “I do not accept being yelled at by you.” “I am walking away from this and we will talk about it when we are calm.”  “You may calm down here & now, or you may go to your room.”

Let’s translate this a little further:

  • “I am not arguing about this anymore.”  – I am regaining control and this subject is now closed because I said so.
  • “I do not accept being yelled at or spoken to like that.” – Don’t talk to me that way, I’m your mother.
  • “I am walking away from this and we will talk about it when we are calm.” – Now that I’ve gained control, we will revisit the situation/subject when I’ve fully assessed the situation & planned the next course of action.
  • “You may calm down here and now or you may go to your room.” – I give you permission and empowerment to choose your path.

ROLL WITH IT:  Don’t dwell on the argument. What was said in the heat of the moment shoud not be taken personally. Everyone says and does regrettable things.  Spew happens.  Whatever the fire was about, you’ve stated your intentions, regained control of the situation and empowered your child – now just roll with it. 

Hindsight is 20/20.  Most arguments I’ve had with my son stem from a communication gap. By stepping away from the situation, it gives all parties an opportunity to hash the events out in our brain. When I revisit the subject we were arguing about, 8 out of 10 times we come to a respectful and mutual understanding – even if it’s agreeing to disagree.

If you practice Stop Drop & Roll, you may be pleasantly surprised by how far and few those fires will burn in the future.

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