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Bringing Down the Intensity

You're the Role Model

"Never let Mommy brush your hair when she's mad at Daddy."

– Family Circle

At Putnam Elementary in Minneapolis, the staff were concerned about the number of suspensions for defiant behavior, and decided to take action. They were not going to tolerate more disruption, but instead wanted to train the students and themselves to handle confrontations more effectively. They realized they had to begin with themselves.

One teacher pledged to control her voice when she got angry. Another vowed to listen carefully to every child who came up to her in the morning. A clerk decided to try to change physical posturing that could be intimidating to the children. A third-grade teacher promised to try to keep her voice low and calm when she was challenged by a child. These simple goals, along with a lot of hard work, cut the number of suspensions from 300, two years previously, to 72!

Learning to express strong emotions, like anger and frustration, respectfully and selectively is learned behavior. You don't have to be a victim of your emotions. You can choose your response. You don't have to react. And as you make those choices, your children are watching and listening. You are their role model, teaching them with your words and actions what adults do when faced with a rush of powerful emotions.



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From the book KIDS, PARENTS, AND POWER STRUGGLES: Winning for a Lifetime by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, published by HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. Copyright © 2000 by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. All rights reserved.

Buy the book at www.harpercollins.com.


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