Tag Archives: parent-child conflict

Anger in Relationships — Handout Set

Anger in Relationships — Handout Set

This 80+ page set of handouts if for a course that is 10-sessions in length — a course that literally saves people’s lives. If you, your child, or someone you are concerned about has an anger problem, the ideas in this set can literally bring about a life-changing transformation.

It is based on a thorough study of the “anger response cycle,” which describers how anger works form a psychological perspective (i.e., the causes of anger) and from a behavioral perspective (i.e., what to do with anger feelings).

The handouts describe in detail the 6 phases of the anger response cycle from “triggeer event” to “behavioral response.” This is an empowerment model becasue it clearly illustrates how our own thoughts about the trigger event cause our anger, not the trigger event itself. If we are insulted by an acquaintance in a public place, or by our own child, we are likely to respond with a flash of anger. Yet it is not the acquaintance or the child that makes us angry. It is our own “threat thoughts” about what was said or done that creates the angry feeling we experience.

This is an empowerment model because it clearly shows how our “threat thoughts” cause our anger and its intensity; but, by the same token, it is our thoughts (self-talk) that can minimize our anger and its intensity as well. Once we understand and accept that our thoughs cause our anger, we are empowered to correct our misguided thinking, which we can control. That, in turn, will minimize the intensity of our anger response, which we cannot so easilty control. The anger response is never wrong; it is the thinking that causes anger that is in error. And that can be fixed.

These handouts also address in detail the second half of the anger response cycle: what to do when angry. Whatever we say or do when angry is, again, controlled and determined by our thoughts — our “decision thoughts.” How should we best express our angry feelings so that we can turn tension, conflict, and anger into relief, harmony, and gratitude? The typical anger response of fight or flight might in rare instances be appropriate. But neither one resolves the problem that leads to anger.

There is only one behavioral response that can do this — and it has to do with words. Allmost al anger incidents start with words; and all anger incidents require words for resolution. What controls whether, and how, we use words in the anger situation? Our “decision thoughts.”

To summarize, these 80+ pages of handouts clearly show

  1. The causes of anger in all people (from toddlerds to old-timers, men and women);
  2. How anyone can minimize and control their angry feelings through self-talk (“mental gymnastics); and
  3. How anyone can use words to defuse a tense situation, and then introduce common understanding, agreement, and harmonious resolution.

Finally, no treatment of anger would be complete without dealing with the topic of forgiveness. All of us have, at one time or another, been hurt by someone — perhaps severely. Hanging on to these hurts can eat us up, and generate long-lasting toxic anger that can even cause serious physical illness.

Forgiveness is the only answer for our peace of mind. Forgiveness is for the forgiver, not the forgiven. In these hadnouts I use other authors to show how to use specific techniques to help one person forgive another in order to move forward with life with a lighter, more joyful spirit.

Buy Now  80+ pages, $4.99

For a detailed presentation of the 9 key relationship skills needed in all healthy adult-adult or parent-child relationships, see the details of my book, 3 Steps to Parent-Child Harmony.

Learn More about 3 Steps to Parent-Child Harmony


Old and New School Parenting

Old and New School Parenting

In this category I have posted numerous articles describing the differences between my Old School model of how to be a parent, and my New School model of parenting.

The Old School model is not necessarily bad or wrong, but it is often ineffective, especially with strong-willed, resistant, out-of-control children. The Old School methods don’t seem to work well at all with these children, regardless of their age. The New School model offers an excellent alternative to the Old School model, and it is effective with all children, not just stubborn or defiant ones.

You will find a difference in the four basic operational principles of each model, as well as a wide variety of “new” techniques to use (see the category “9 Key Parenting Skills”). Parent-child dialogue is the heart and soul of the New School approach to parenting, and this can be very effective with all children, even as young as two years.

Finally, the category “New School Discipline” presents a totally different approach to discipline from the one almost all of us were raised with. Before exploring those posts, I recommend that you become familiar with the posts in this category, “Old and New School Parenting.” You’ll see that it contains a lot of significant differences from the way your parents raised you, and the way you may have been trying to raise your own kids.


3 Steps to Parent-Child Harmony is my book  that describes in detail the differences between the Old School Parenting model and the New School Parenting model.  Please see these links if you are interested in more information or wish to purchase.

Learn more.    Buy Now.   Table of Contents & Intro

Ten Daunting Societal Influences on Parents

Ten Daunting Societal Influences on Parents

It does not take a sociologist or an anthropologist or psychologist to see that today’s parents face a daunting array of social influences that were not nearly as disruptive to families and parents just ten or fifteen years ago as they are now.

These social influences make parenting more complicated and challenging than ever before. Too often, what worked for our parents with us, as children, simply does not work well for us now, as parents with our own children.

The following are some of the social influences that make parenting a much more serious challenge now than in the past. (You are invited to write down more ideas of your own in the Workspace provided in Appendix 1, and send your ideas to me via email.)

  1. The rate of change brings enormous personal pressures.Technological changes are occurring so rapidly that life has become extremely complicated, and highly pressured, for everybody. Robotics, smart machines, and artificial intelligence have been–and will continue to be–replacing human beings in the most mundane and the most complicated jobs alike.Highly specialized technical knowledge and skills are more and more required to program and manage those machines, with two devastating results. First, millions of family supporting jobs in this country have simply vanished, putting millions out of work. Second, a highly skilled workforce requires highly specialized training and education, but education costs keep rising astronomically, making post-secondary education an impossible goal for more and more people–both young people entering the workforce and older workers displaced by technology.
  2. Economic pressures are overwhelming many parents. Since the 1980’s America’s middle class has been disappearing, as income levels for wage earners in the bottom three-fifths of the workforce have not only stagnated, but actually declined. As if that weren’t bad enought the economic recession of 2008 and following has had devastating effects on families, costing millions of parents their livelihood and their homes. Almost all women of child-bearing age are either employed or desperately seeking employment; the “stay-at-home” child-rearing mom may be gone forever.Economic pressures have long required that even in two-parent families both parents–if they are fortunate enough to have jobs–must work just to make ends meet. In single-parent families the economic pressures are ever so much greater on the parents (usually mothers), who–if they are fortunate enough to have jobs–come home physically exhausted and emotionally stressed.Overwhelmed, anxiety-ridden parents struggle mightily to meet the demands of needy children and usually require help from grandparents and/or day care centers, which they often cannot afford.The personal economic impact on parents and families can be devastating: job layoffs, unemployment, evaporation of investments, mortgage and foreclosure tragedy, credit card debt, legal fees, reduced credit availability for their small businesses, increasing health care and education costs, rising food and fuel prices, and on and on. Parents everywhere are beset by endless financial concerns absolutely requiring their attention while also draining them of energy and optimism. These concerns are strong competitors for parents’ attention to needy children, and they place significant strain on even strong marital relationships.
  3. Family break-up places enormous pressure on both children and parents. Here I’m referring to some very unpleasant realities. Divorce rates for all marriages in America are way over 50 percent, and half of all children born to married parents will experience their parents’ divorce before reaching 18 years of age, while a full 40% of American children are raised without their father in the home. Unmarried couples often have children and later split up. Bitter fights and lawsuits over custody, placement, and visitation are too common among separated and divorced parents.Teenagers, who are obviously too young to be responsible parents, are having babies and grandparents are too often forced into parenting their grandchildren, an enormous responsibility they had not willingly planned on and may not welcome.These trends can be said to be at epidemic proportions, and they typically inflict long-term, emotionally painful, and highly stressful experiences for everyone involved in them.Beyond the often devastating effects of heated and too often vicious parental disputes over children, is the ugly reality that “anyone can sue anyone for anything.”Ethics, right and wrong, best interests of children, appropriate custody placements, and complicated moral and psychological issues have become increasingly subjected to the violence of a litigious society. Exorbitant legal expenditures along with increasingly limited insurance coverage for appropriate mental health services plague many already overly-stressed parents, who have no choice but to assume more financial strain than they can reasonably handle.The stressors discussed thus far have been present in many “trapped” families for two or three generations, making theirs a hellish way of life from which escape and betterment may be all but impossible. And, as if all those pressures weren’t enough for struggling parents, there’s much more that contributes to what could easily be termed a brutal world in which to raise kids.
  4. Legal changes have tied parents’ hands. While frustrations and tensions mount within the home, legislation limits parental responses to children’s misbehaviors, limiting their range of responses and also making parents legally and/or financially responsible for children’s misbehaviors. Physical discipline, an often-used tool of countless generations of parents, is not only discouraged by family experts, but has been increasingly (and rightfully) made illegal by lawmakers who justifiably seek to protect children from the physical and sexual violence that (most often) occurs in families.Parents are increasingly (and unrealistically) being held legally and financially responsible, even punished with jail time, for their children’s anti-social behavior. I have known parents who were being legally punished and penalized for their child’s truancy when in fact they had been repeatedly driving the child to school, and walking them into the principal’s office, only to have the child disappear for the day out the back door of the school.
  5. “Infoglut” and the overaccessibility of information through TV, internet, cell phones, iphones, ipads, ipods, and other electronic technologies have broken down the family walls. As far as information is concerned, just about everybody (including children) has access to everything. So much of what not so long ago was considered “classified” or “private” information is now broadcast openly–indeed, shamelessly and irresponsibly–in the name of financial profit simply because it titillates or sells, and because technology makes it all the more possible.
  6. Continuing breakdown of sexual mores exacerbates the problems presented by ever-younger physical maturation and pubescence. Linked with “Infoglut,” as well as with technological advances, the hormone-driven appeal of sexual expression continues to become more widespread. Children are increasingly sexually active, and reproducing, and doing so at younger and younger ages. Adult society seems truly conflicted about this: decrying it on the one hand, blatantly encouraging it on the other.
  7. Depersonalization: medication as the answer to emotional/mental problems. Since the insurance industry now runs the therapeutic show–largely because of excessive fees of practicing therapists–the quickest, cheapest, solutions are too often the only ones accepted for reimbursement. Rather than a long-term engagement of real people (parents and professionals together) working through real emotional and/or relationship problems, it is too often the “quick fix” promise of medication that is used in an attempt to bring a problem child into line. Goal-oriented behavior change in emotionally troubled children (and/or parents) is the only affordable approach allowed by insurance companies–which are increasingly reluctant to cover mental health issues. Instead of dedicating the time necessary to help people grow as persons, to nurture and strengthen relationships in which people learn to get along better, society is more prone to tinker with a child’s brain in an attempt to control or eliminate the antisocial behaviors we can’t tolerate.
  8. “Over-professionalization” of relationship skills and interpersonal conflicts. Related to my previous point, even when medication is not used as a panacea for emotional and interpersonal problems in living, parents are not very often encouraged to learn the parenting skills that their children need. Instead, parents are encouraged to take the child to one or more experts, have him evaluated, and then let the experts “fix” him. This is too often attempted with little or no attention and support given to helping parents learn the relationship skills that could (and should) be used in meeting their child’s emotional needs. Who better could be expected to provide appropriate responses to those emotional needs than a child’s parents?
  9. Inadequate training for parenthood. Whereas the above influences on parenting are largely, if not completely, beyond a parent’s influence, this last one is not. In addition to all the influences cited above, parenting is so complex and challenging because the preparation and training that the vast majority of parents have received is woefully inadequate for the task. That’s because the only training or education the vast majority of parents have ever received is the training they have gotten as children, at the hands of their own parents.For most of us, “Parenting 101″ is the tutoring we received as children and young adults from our own parent figures (biological parents, grandparents, adoptive parents, foster parents, or other substitute parents, including institutional caretakers). Quite naturally, parents learn from their own parent figures about parenting, and quite naturally we have all learned to parent the way our parents did. Unfortunately, those parenting methods are too often ineffective today. (More on this later.)
  10. Smarter, quicker, more autonomous and defiant children. What this whole depressing litany adds up to, when it comes to impacting our children, is a dizzying life pace with too much stress, caused by a bombardment of too much adverse stimulation from too many sources that ceaselessly vie for their attention. This is visually illustrated, for example, in the ever-increasing rapidity and intensity of both images and sound bytes inflicted on us all by the electronic babysitter, the television. It occurs in both regular programming and ads, and it is for many obnoxious.A constant barrage of stimuli from all quarters on young brains and nervous systems makes the prevalence of ADD- and ADHD-like symptoms seem quite a reasonable consequence, and perhaps even an inevitable one. It’s no wonder parents in my classes consistently say that their children are “so smart,” and “so independent.” On both physical and intellectual levels, they are living world that force-feeds them super-sized “meals” fortified by super-junk food at super-fast rates and that demands super-fast responses. This bombardment is almost completely beyond the control of caring parents who are themselves frazzled by the same onslaught and the same dizzying life pace.


Nurturing emotional connections in such a brutal, fast-paced world can be a challenge for almost any parent. Is it any wonder that parents everywhere struggle to find the time, patience, and inner serenity required to nurture healthy emotional connections? Is it any wonder that so many children seem to suffer from overstimulation and undernuturing? Parenting today is not a walk in the park.


3 Steps to Parent-Child Harmony is my book  that describes in detail the differences between the Old School Parenting model and the New School Parenting model.  Please see these links if you are interested in more information or wish to purchase.

     Learn more.    Buy Now.   Table of Contents & Intro

Anger = Expectation + Interpretation (ver. 2)

Anger = Expectation + Interpretation
(ver. 2)

Do find yourself getting angry at what someone else says or does? Their offensive behavior (such as someone insulting you, or your child disobeying you) is referred to as a “trigger event” for your anger.

In reality, you don’t need to pull that trigger! You really CAN manage your anger better. By that I mean you can reduce its intensity, or even eliminate the angry feeling altogether, in any specific situation.


Recognize the importance of expectations and interpretations.

The plain and simple truth is this: Your anger is the result of your own thoughts about the “trigger event” and not the trigger event itself. It’s not your child, or your child’s behavior that make you angry. It’s your own thoughts about it that make you angry. You probably are familiar with the much-discussed medical phenomenon that a “stressful” event may or may not result in a person experiencing a stress reaction. It all depends on the person’s state of mind, and her thought process, in dealing with an event that could easily be seen as “highly stressful.“

The same is true for a person’s response to a ‘trigger event.” The response depends entirely on the person’s state of mind (mind-set, thought process).

Consider, for example, a typical trigger event that appears to set parents off: unacceptable child behavior, like backtalk or disobedience. (This analysis applies equally to any event that anyone can experience at any time–for example, being delayed in the check-out lane at the grocery store, or hearing someone call you an insulting, vulgar, or belittling name.)

Let’s say you have just said “No” to your son’s request to stay overnight at a friend’s house. He says, “You’re really stupid! Everyone else gets to go! Why do I have to have such dumb mother?”

That would get most parents’ blood boiling. But think about it. Who is making you mad in this case? Your angry, frustrated, and disrespectful child? Or is it your own mental process that gets you going? Admittedly, the child’s verbal blast is disrespectful. And it’s also wrong. You are not stupid, you are not dumb, and not everybody else gets to go to events like this.

So your emotional response as a parent depends entirely on your state of mind, that is, your mind-set, or your own thoughts about this trigger event. And you don’t have to pull the trigger! Instead of taking the insult personally, you can just as easily:

1. Expect your child to act that way because he’s immature and self-centered, and he has acted this way a thousand times before; and

2. Interpret what he said as an angry, primitive, disrespectful outburst by an immature, self-centered child who has been snubbed and is intensely disappointed and upset with you. So he lashes out by calling you stupid and dumb.

What he says about you does not define who you are! As I said, you are not stupid or dumb. Those are just your son’s words, and you don’t have to take them personally. Furthermore, the fact that he’s being disrespectful is absolutely no reflection on you. It’s his own anger and disappointment talking, and you have the power to see it as such–and nothing more.

This is a very empowering insight about anger, and it can radically change your life for the better–both in relation to managing your angry feelings, and in relation to your son. The simple truth is that your anger is the result of your own thoughts about the “trigger event” (that offensive thing someone else did or said). And you–not anyone else–can control your thoughts!

Your best response in any situation like this is to remain calm, cool, and collected, and realize that his offensive behavior is a “trigger” for your anger, but you don’t have to pull it. If you are sensitive to being disrespected by your son, you might say that “He’s pushing my buttons.” But please realize: it’s you who are placing that button on your chest as something that’s available and begging to be pushed! You can just as surely take it down and not make it available. How?

  1. By changing your expectations (make them more realistic, based on what you know about whom you are dealing with). And
  2. By doing some mental gymnastics (self-talk) to change your negative interpretation to a more positive one (by “giving him/her a pass,” telling yourself you are going to withhold judgment, telling yourself you are not going to take it personally, and telling yourself that getting angry isn’t worth it). These kinds of thoughts will reduce or eliminate your angry feelings.

Your expectations set you up.

Here are some ways to apply this to our example.

  1. Did you really expect him to do or say something different? Or did you just hope for it?
  2. Was your expectation realistic, given what you know about your son?
  3. Might it be helpful to change your expectation of your son based on his previous reactions?

Your interpretations bring you down.

Here’s how your interpretation can affect your response in our example.

  1. Do you really think his/her offensive behavior reflects on you, or defines who you are?
  2. Do you take his insult personally? You don’t have to!
  3. It’s your own behavior (not his) that reflects on you–unless you expect to be the perfect parent, and have kids who never do things wrong.

When you can regularly change your expectations and interpretations of other people’s offensive behavior in the heat of the moment, you will reduce your stress, quiet your anger, improve your relationships, and change your life for the better. Believe it! And try it! It works!


3 Steps to Parent-Child Harmony is my book  that describes in detail the differences between the Old School Parenting model and the New School Parenting model.  Please see these links if you are interested in more information or wish to purchase.

     Learn more.    Buy Now.   Table of Contents & Intro

How to Negotiate Agreements

How to Negotiate Agreements

NOTE: What is said here, and throughout this website, is applicable to adult-adult relationships as well as to parent-child relationships.

In this dialogue process you use all the listening skills (questions, acknowledgment, and reflectivng) and the illustrating skills (modeling, honest and open communication, and I-messages). While arriving at an agreement on something here  and now that is important to you, what’s even more important in the long run is that the child is learning to respectfully negotiate a solution to a problem and reach an agreement that you can both live with.

The following steps might seem pretty complicated at first. But they’re very logical, and if you make this your standard M.O. (method of operation), you’ll get pretty good at it, and you’ll be able to do the whole process without even trying to concentrate on whether all the steps have been used.

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Thoughts About John Rosemond’s Six-Point Plan for Raising Happy, Healthy Children Parenting (Long Version)

Thoughts About John Rosemond’s 
Six-Point Plan for Raising Happy, Healthy Children

(Long version of Chuck’s Idea Letter #10)

I’ve been thinking about discipline a lot lately–partly because I’m currently teaching a course on disciplining children at Parents Place.

But in addition I’ve also been reading a very interesting book by John Rosemond called The New Six-Point Plan for Raising Happy, Healthy, Children. He’s a psychologist who has been around a while, who says he doesn’t believe in psychology, who has done a lot of work with parents, and who has published numerous other books, including: Teen-Proofing; Because I Said So!; Parent Power: A Common-Sense Approach to Parenting in the 90’s and Beyond; John Rosemond’s New Parent Power; and others.

Rosemond’s Six-Point Plan

Here are the chapter headings of his six-point plan: 1) The Parent-Centered Family; 2) The Voice of Authority; 3) The Roots of Responsibility; 4) The Fruits of Frustration (the child’s frustration–CA); 5) Toys and Play–The Right Stuff; and 6) Television, Computers, and Video Games–More Than Meets the Eye. Point number seven is Love ‘Em Enough to Do the First Six! He also presents, in an afterword, Rosemond’s Bill of Rights for Children, which are, essentially, that children have the right to be bossed around by their parents.

I’m really enjoying this book, The New Six Point Plan, partly because it is really challenging me to think about and question my “New School” approach to parenting. He refers to himself as “old fashioned,” and I’d say he is certainly in the running for the title “King of the Old School Approach to Parenting.” If Supernanny (Jo Frost) can be considered “Queen of the Old School Approach to Parenting” (I think she can), John Rosemond is the king. Now there’s a match made in heaven!

Old School Is Not Necessarily Bad Continue reading

Old School and New School Parenting: An Overview

Old School and New School Parenting:
An Overview

We were all probably raised in the Old School method of parenting, which worked pretty well for most of us. The Old School approach, a power and control approach, is not bad or wrong. It’s been around forever, and will be around as long as there are parents. But when it doesn’t work well with strong-willed or angry children, parents need some new ideas.

This article presents parents with a comparison of old and new approaches.

The Problem of Control

The single biggest problem that parents present in my classes and coaching is control of their children’s behaviors. I should say, misbehaviors. So many children are resistive, argumentative, stubborn, rude, even defiant toward their parents. The parents’ problem is that the parenting methods their own parents used with them (which may have actually worked quite well) simply do not work as well with many of these bright, articulate, independent-minded, but immature and self-centered children. What I call the Old School methods might, indeed, work well in many families, where the children are more easy-going and compliant. But in many stressed families, the Old School approach isn’t cutting it. What’s needed is a more sophisticated, more thoughtful approach. And I call it the New School approach to parenting.

Here’s a brief comparison of the two approaches.

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Power Struggles Rob Parents of Power

Power Struggles Rob Parents of Power

Power struggles seem to pervade all aspects of life. At the macro level, groups of people have fought each other for control of resources throughout history, and it continues to this day. At the national level groups fight for control of resources, money, and votes. The same is true at the state and community levels. At the level of the family the same process occurs, where individuals–whether they be spouses, parents and children, or brothers and sisters–fight each other for control. Even within individuals, at the microscopic level, unseen and unknown wars are constantly being fought between cells for dominance within the person, which result in life or death for both those cells and their host.

I wish to focus on the family level. Power struggles in many families are almost endless, with spouses trying to control each other’s behavior and with parents trying to control children’s behavior while children try to control parental behavior. The process of these power struggles is often damaging, perhaps even life threatening, just as it is in power struggles at all the other levels. The outcome of the parent-child power struggles is too often serious harm to the parent-child relationship

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Parent Power: Influence Rather Than Control

Parent Power:
Influence Rather Than Control

Parents have much greater power in relation to their children than most ever realize. But it’s the power of influence, not control. While you can’t make your child do a single thing, you have far greater influence than you might think.

The Source of Your Power

The source of your power in relation to your child is the emotional attachment (emotional bond) between you and your child. One biological mother and one biological father bring each and every child into this world. They constitute the first and strongest determinants of life or death, of love and security, or loss and insecurity for the newborn. (For many newborns surrogate or adoptive parents serve in this role.) Every newborn infant depends one hundred percent for his/her physical and emotional health on the ability of the parents–especially the mother. The newborn’s parents, or other parenting figures, give what is required for physical and emotional (and to a great extent intellectual) prosperity or doom.

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Parent-Child Harmony: Influencing the Child to Change

Parent-Child Harmony:
Influencing the Child to Change

How the Parent Influences the Child to Change

In a different article I described the dynamics of harmony in music as an example of why the parent must be the first to change when parent and child are in conflict, or discord. In another article, I explained why the parent — not the child — must be the one to change first in these conflictual situations.

This is a radical departure from normal parenting behavior (yelling, demanding, arguing) because it constitutes a “backing off” by the parent from the discord and conflict of the moment. Rather than giving a misbehaving or angry child a “time out” or a tongue lashing, the parent gets “in harmony” with the child’s upset feelings and desires at the moment not by getting angry or yelling, but by empathically moving into harmony with child by being aware that “there’s disharmony here.” Thus the parent elevates the interaction to a higher level by backing off from the war of wills through empathic attention. Then the parent takes the time-out to think things over and plan the next steps, and what s/he is going to do and say.

Now I want to describe the next steps a parent can take to influence the child to make a change.

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