Angry in a Flash

By | June 4th, 2017|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

There is more in a moment of anger than we credit; many different internal and external factors are at play. We have little control over some, but, we always have control over our reactions. We need to remember that when it comes to our children. Everyone has experienced when spilled milk one day is just an accident and the next day it is clumsiness and cause for a stern talking to.  It’s confusing to be a child.

Anger is the result of three things, something happening, how we experience it and ultimately how we react. The parent who experienced the spilled milk and was angry one day but wasn’t the day before had other internal and external things that affected their response. Lets take a closer look at the difference between internal and external factors and how they affect a person’s anger.

As we progress through life events go through our experience filter. It’s this filter that helps us decode how we feel about everything based on past experience, culture, upbringing, gender, race, or religion. Those feelings ultimately direct our reactions, impacts how we respond, even to something as simple as a glass of spilled milk. How would a glass of spilled milk impact you? If it makes a laud noise? If it breaks something? If you are embarrassed in front of friends or family? These are all examples of internal things that provoke anger because it is how we respond to external stimuli. These events alone are not a common trigger. Even though the events are external they are going through your experience filter and your internal belief structure that is impacting how you are relate to an incident.

Other internal factors that are easier to relate to are fatigue, pressure, conflict and insecurity. These have direct impact on how we choose to respond to an event.

When thinking about external factors one must think about the events that he or she experienced and the circumstances under which they occurred. For example think about the things in your life that caused you stress. Did you come up with any frustrations, annoyances, abuses, injustices, harassments, hurts, disappointments, or threats? These are all stimuli that activate your anger. It is clear that not all of us react the same way. A bully might see an insult as humorous from someone smaller; however, if threatened his response would be quite different. External factors are different from internal in that they alone can cause anger. They don’t need to go through your experience filter to stimulate a reaction.

It is understandable that people have different reactions to the same event. No two days are the same and our experiences throughout the day have an impact on how we treat those who cross our path. Understanding the factors that go into anger gives you a tool set to make different choices. Knowing that you are walking into a situation when you are tired and feeling vulnerable should warn you to go easy or to schedule a better time to have important conversations. If your child spills a glass of milk and you feel your temperature rise ask yourself some very important questions.

    1. Where is my stress gauge?
    2. Do I already feel anger about another incident?

These questions might help you from making saying and doing things that you will regret later.

If you have any questions or you would like to look up more information on behavior management, please visit our website at Vlinder is a behavior management game created to encourage communication, cooperation and connection in the family. To learn more visit us here.

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Memory Lane

By | April 9th, 2017|Tags: , |

When I was a little girl my grandparents lived in a grand house that we called “The Ranch”. It had a formal living room with antique furniture from one side to the other. Each piece had its own story of how it had gotten there and where it had been. It was the perfect place for my grandmother, who we affectionately called Mom-mom, to tell the stories of her upbringing in New Castle, England. I don’t know any more about those stories about her adventures then that because I was too young to enter the room during story time. It was a reserved for the older granddaughters. I sat outside the two huge french doors and peeked through a little key hole, hearing only the occasional muffled laugh. I was rather grumpy and bored by the time the doors reopened and I rejoined to the group.

As the years moved on, my grandmother was diagnosed with what we now know is Alzheimers. I never made it into the living room to hear her stories and it is something that puts a lump in my throat, even now some forty years later. So today I’m doing my part for the next generation to make sure this doesn’t happen to them. I want to help facilitate a chat that your child can have with grandma or grandpa that gets the grandchildren past those two “living room doors”…

Here are 10 conversations starters.

  1. When did our family enter the United States? What is our history?
  2. When and how did you meet our Grandma or Grandpa?
  3. Where and when did you get married?
  4. What was going in the world when you were younger?
  5. What was your profession? Is that what you wanted to be?
  6. Who were your childhood heroes?
  7. Do you remember any fads from your childhood? Popular hairstyle?
  8. Where was your favorite vacation?
  9. What accomplishment are you most proud of?
  10. What do you want people to remember about you?

Take 3 or 4 of the questions that most resonate with you. If mom or dad are suffering from dementia or simply need help remembering, ask other relative to help fill in the gaps prior to your visit. This is an opportunity to be a fun trip down memory lane for the whole family, as well as a lesson to remind kids that in Grandma and Grandpa were young once too.  Maybe you could even do this with Great Grandma and Great Grandpa?

As for Mom-mom, on my very last visit, long past her days of recognizing anyone, she stopped, looked me full in the face, put her hand on my cheek and said with all the love in her heart…”you always were my little lamb”. So in the end I feel I got my special moment after all!

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Are You Listening?

By | December 19th, 2016|Tags: , , , , , |

Kids constantly complain that their parents don’t listen.  How can that be true?  We navigate our children through danger and away from harm.  How can we do that without hearing their stories and demands?  Of course we listen.  We listen to the same story endlessly.  We listen at the injustice of elementary school.  We listen and listen and listen.  The fact is they are right, we are not really listening! 

What many of us consider to be the traits of a good listener, in fact, turn out not to be. How many of these listening habits do you fall under? 

  1. Trying to commiserate with similar stories of your own.  How can this be a bad thing?  All you are trying to do is share with your child that they are not alone and that you have been in the same situation.  Well, fact is that you have shifted the conversation to be about you rather then keeping focus on your child.  Better to repeat the feelings that are being shared and let your child know that they are heard.  Who knows what other details they will divulge as the conversation stays about them. 
  1. Shifting the mood of the conversation to be about happier events or times.  I know you are just trying to cheer up your child.  Parent hates to see their child in distress.  Because of your discomfort of seeing your child sad, stressed or angry you are not allowing them to fully express their emotions.  Sit with them in their sadness, stress and anger.  You will gain more insight as to what drives their emotions by practicing good active listening skills.  Repeat what you hear and allow your child to correct any misunderstandings so they feel fully heard. 
  1. Provide solutions or suggestions on how to make things better.  As parents it is part of our job description to help direct our children through life.  That includes allowing them to learn from our mistakes.  WRONG!  If we are to be good listeners then we need to put the teacher hat away and listen to what is being said.  The fact is while we are coming up with solutions we are missing a lot of important information that is being shared.  Problem solving and working together will come in later steps of the conversation, preferably when your child asks for help. 
  1. Correct misunderstandings or misinformation.  Our children have been telling incredible stories all of their lives.  That includes times of high emotion.  As they are sharing their troubles, no matter how misinformed, without allowing them their truth, their reality, you are not truly listening.  You are putting a stopper in their sharing and telling them that their feelings are not valid.  Listening without correcting is truly a gift and one that your child will benefit from in the long term.  After you finish listening to your child they will have a good example of what to do when it is your turn to share your frustrations.  It shouldn’t be about who is right it is about the gift of listening. 

If you begin to listen to your child focusing purely on their needs are as a communicator, then you will be amazed at what you learn about your child.  Good listening skills include repeating what is heard and keeping quiet you feel some of the above habits creeping in.  Sometimes the only solution to your child’s problem will be to have someone who listens to them 100%, just for them. 

For more information on parenting and behavior modification visit us at or call at 707 773 7654.

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Smittie Boyz Go back to school

By | August 17th, 2016|

Success!  Today was the first day of school.  It was a pretty big day at the Smit house.  The twins are in third grade and their older brother is in fourth.  It seems like just yesterday they were chasing each other around in their “wheelie chairs”. 

This morning I broke out our old Task Sheets.  (We have been taking a break from playing.)  Kiel took one look at them and said, “Oh yah!”  Then he turned around and started walking to his room.  I asked him where he was going and he calmly replied, I have to make my bed again. 

The rest of the morning was just as smooth.  Jayden and Keenan woke up a little late but then quickly realized that in order to earn their Reward Cards they were going to have to put it into 5th gear. 

Jayden was concerned that he wouldn’t earn his stamps.  Whenever I saw him I would simply remind him of one of the expectations on the sheet.  He would promptly turn around and make his bed, get dressed, eat breakfast…, etc.  Before he knew it he had completed 10 of the 12 tasks. 

Keenan desperately wanted to play and had some difficulty staying focused.  He followed me around asking for more chances all the while completing tasks along the way. Re-direction is easier when the task is clear, consistency is established and the promise of reward is just ahead. 

When we finally got a chance to sit down and review the Task Sheets the boys were amazed at how easy it had been to complete most of their tasks.  We talked about room for improvement and challenges to come.  It is a time for give and take.  I value this down time with the boys to see what works for them during the morning and what does not.   

Picking out the Reward Cards from our bin, which is an old milk pail, was just as much fun as last year.  They worried and giggled about getting Bummer Cards. They were thrilled with the money and candy cards.  The most fun is the game cards.  Kiel got to tell me something cool he did today.  He shared about his first day at school.  Keenan got the “start over” card and got to put his cards back and start fresh.   

When I thought that playing Vlinder could not have provided me with a better experience I got an email from a fellow mom with the following message.

“We love it! I would strongly recommend this for anyone who wants their mornings with their children to run smoothly! It is brilliant!” 

It makes me so incredibly happy to see how Vlinder can have a positive impact in others’ homes.  Like I said in the beginning…Success!

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Changes in Childhood

By | August 7th, 2016|

When I was a little girl I would put on my blue jeans and t-shirt, call my friend Rochelle, and ride the neighbor’s ponies from morning to night. We got in plenty of trouble riding on school lawns, moving barricades on private property, and galloping on city streets. When we weren’t getting into trouble we were sitting in the sun eating our sack lunch next to, what we called, “The Lake”. It was a care free childhood.

Sports cost next to nothing in hand me down uniforms. School friends lived within blocks. Phones were attached to a wall. Things were different when I was a kid.

All I have to say is thank God I have three boys that generally enjoy each others company. Keenan and Jayden are going to be in 3rd grade and Kiel in 4th and I still have to plan their “playdates”. They call their friends and ask for more but in this crazy day it is rare to have an impromptu time to hang out. Why is that?

The need for multiple income families means time is limited. Organized sports have turned all consuming. Hundred dollar uniforms, full weekend tournaments, longer seasons. School friends are spread across the town because of how parents pick their schools. It is no longer dependent on geography. Socially speaking there is a higher expectation that you know where your child is at all times. Unaccompanied minor brings on a label of poor parenting. Whether it is for safety or to adhere to social pressures…you no longer wave to your kids at the door and tell them to be home before dark.

I, the ever-loving devils advocate, can argue for any of these things being the culprit. Time is limited and I want my child to have pro-social, culturally enriching, fun experiences. Parenting has thus turned into, financial backer, taxi service, event coordinator extraordinaire.

I loved my carefree childhood. I was blessed. I also love being involved in my kids lives. Maybe that means I’m the culprit! All of these factors are external influences and I allow them to affect how I parent.

Hmmm. So I suppose, at this end of this thought I find, once again I am blessed. I have three great kids who like each other. They play multiple sports. They have friends in every sector of the city. They have wonder and lust for life. I find once again…I am blessed.

I’m feeling grateful as I finish this post. Thank you to all who have touched my life and gotten in trouble with me as a kid or helped to cheer on my kids. I am better for knowing you.

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