Learn to Freaking Calm Yourself…

One of my favorite Bible verses is Proverbs 15:1“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh answer stirs up anger.” I, for real, live by this verse. It’s a well known stereo-type that red-heads have hot tempers- and I can tell you first-hand that this is 100% true. I’ve definitely calmed down a ton since I was younger; but as a kid, it was not unusual for me to lose it. I was always physically violent. My little brother, Evan, who is sixteen now, had his butt handed to him on a regular basis for no good reason. I was horrible. But at the time, I thought that he was a little ninny and needed to be toughened up. Now he’s sixteen, strong, handsome, and has some serious pain tolerance. I was a terrible sister back then. I was mean. However, one day some guys were playing around with Evan and got a little too rough. This wasn’t uncommon. But any time I saw Evan getting even remotely mistreated, I would have this overwhelming need to protect him and would gladly beat the snot out of anyone who mistreated him. I’d NEVER let ANYBODY hurt MY little brother. And then it dawned on me… All this time I was always trying to protect him from everybody else, but all along, the one who caused him the most pain was me. After that I REALLY worked hard to change things. And I did. Now Evan, Connor, and I are best friends and we get along great. Evan and I still throw punches and whatnot, but it’s all in good fun.

Proverbs 12:18 says, “The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

But here is something that not even Evan knows. There was a reason why I always attacked him physically instead of verbally. It would’ve been so easy to just spit out piercing words at him. It leaves no physical marks, so I would’ve gotten in a lot less trouble. But even when I was mean, abusive, and ignorant, I thought through my actions. The only reason why I chose to throw punches instead of insults is because I knew how hard my punches would hit him, and the damage they would do. Punches only hurt on the surface.  Words, however, cut deep. I could never know the full impact of my words and how much pain they would cause. I knew the damage that words could do, so I never even went there.

You’re probably thinking, “How could you have been so ignorant about everything else, but have a grip on that concept?” It’s simple. I knew not to use words as weapons because that was how I was raised. 

The problem is that many parents underestimate the power of their words. A parent would die for their child without a second thought, so they often assume that they couldn’t possibly be the one who is hurting their kid the most. For example, if a parent saw their child being verbally bullied by another person, they wouldn’t think twice about defending them. But if they go right around and scream, shout, and holler at them constantly and throw in those little “examples” that are really just cut-downs, then they are doing so much more damage than they imagine. Here’s why, a kid can get over a disapproving peer, but they will always seek the approval of a parent. Your words hurt the most because you are the person who is supposed to protect them from the very thing you;re doing. You may have the best intentions, but kids will never understand that. All they know is that their own parent is cutting them down, and making invisible wounds. My mom often uses the saying, “You may have thrown a pebble, but it hit like a boulder“. That means that you may have meant something innocent, but to the other person, it hurt badly. That’s the problem with words. They have more power than anything on earth, and we’re free to use them however we want, whenever we want, and be ignorant to the danger of what our words can do. So use those words to build your kids up. Because physical wounds are easy to heal. You can see them, use some band-aids, and they’ll eventually heal. But you can’t see emotional wounds, and some can’t be healed, so be as careful with your words as you would with a loaded gun.

Now, I still mess up sometimes. I’m not perfect. Sometimes, words will escape my lips that are aimed at another person to hurt them. I always regret it. This happened just the other day with one of my friends at Church. He and I have been at odds for a few weeks and when he tried to talk at a table with me and two of my friends, I shooed him away. Both of us were at fault because of he provoked me, but that’s no excuse. As soon as he went away, I regretted everything that I’d said. I broke all of my own rules in a matter of seconds. I used my words to cut down another person, and did so in front of other people. I humiliated him, and also embarrassed myself. I had no excuse to do that, regardless of  how he treated me because that’s not how Jesus would’ve acted. I made myself look very bad, all because I lost my temper. That should never have happened.

Ephesians 4:29 says,“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

I cannot stress enough the importance of leading by example. To kids, when adult try to teach them by telling them what or what not to do, they end up just sounding like the grown-ups from the Charlie Brown cartoons. WAH WAHWAH WAHH WAHWAH WAH. That’s it. Kids learn by observing. My parents taught us VERY early on that the words we say to other people need to build them up, NOT tear them down. My mom used to sing this really obnoxious song that went, Encourage one another, and build each other up. Build each other up. Build each other up. Encourage one another, don’t tear each other down. Tear each other down. Tear each other down…  It was really annoying, but it made sense. But it wouldn’t have been enough if they had just told us to always say uplifting things, and punish us when we didn’t. In order for us to take it to heart, we had to see our parents live by it as well.

In my eighteen years of being alive, I can honestly say that I have never once my parents say harsh or cutting words to each other, or ANYONE else. I don’t know how they’ve done it, but they have. They have always stayed calm and carefully thought through their words. As a kid, and now, I knew that this concept was important because they lived by it EVERY DAY. If I grew up constantly hearing cut-downs, then that concept would be insignificant to me. Because if my parents didn’t care enough to follow their own advice, then it must not be important. But mom and dad showed us by the way they acted that I should follow their advice.

This brings me to my next point. VOCAL TONES.
Look back up at the top and reread that Bible verse. Think about it for a sec. Do you agree with it? When you get angry or upset, how do you react? There are seven types of vocal tones/inflections that people use when they’re angry:

  • The Whisper of Wrath
  • The Teapot of Terror
  • Hell’s Articulator
  • The Whisper Yeller of Fury
  • Satan’s Screamer
  • The Calm before Calamity
  • The Stopped-Up Ears Shout

The Whisper of Wrath– soft speech that is only audible to the guilty party. Commonly used in the presence of friends or church members. It’s used to strike fear into the accused without alerting others to the issue. Usually spoken directly into the ear, or inches away from the face, for minimal volume and maximum fear.

The Teapot of Terror– high-pitched, ear-splitting screaming usually reserved for individuals under the age of 3. Used solely to alert any and all that they are, in fact, unhappy. Screaming is usually accompanied with tears, flushed cheeks, and a runny nose, and are commonly followed by a much needed nap.

Hell’s Articulator– sharp, staccato used to say words with intense articulation. Commonly used by television bosses and unsatisfied customers. Used to belittle the accused by making each word clear and understandable, as if to imply that the accused is to stupid to understand normal speech. Also used to express the importance of what is being said by putting exaggerated emphasis on each consonant.

The Whisper-Yell of Fury– vocal inflection nearly identical to that of a full-on holler, but with a forced whisper. Commonly used by weirdos and petty, soon-to-be-killed-off television and movie antagonists. Similar to the whisper of wrath, it is used to express anger without making a scene. However, the whisper-yell of fury is used with much more indignation than the former.

Satan’s Serial Screamer– Loud, obnoxious, unnecessary volume used for maximum intimidation, but with minimal impact. Someone who no one pays any attention to. Shouting, or screaming, only has any shock value when I comes from a non-screamer. This reaction can be used approximately twice before it loses all influence. Serial screamers have short fuses, little self-control, stubborn or
difficult personalities, are easily offended, whiny, and are almost always ignored. A serial screamer is basically the human equivalent to a yippy chihuahua. Examples of serial screamers include, but are not limited to the following, Miss. Hannigan (Annie), Mrs. Olson (Little house on the Prairie), and Gilbert Huph (The Incredibles). Nobody likes them. Don’t be a serial screamer.

The Calm Before Calamity– no audible change in vocal tone, eerily calm and pleasant expression, no show of any anger or discontent, but with a palpable vibe of pure, concentrated rage. This commonly used to strike terror into the very soul of the guilty party. The obvious but undetectable wrath leaves the guilty to wait in the uncanny valley for the unsettling and ominous reaction to take a recognizable form. This reaction is usually reserved for the type of people who put hamsters in microwaves, or Hannibal Lecter.

The Stopped-Up Ears Shout– a reprimanding tone with a volume level that is too soft to be a shout, but too loud to be a normal speaking voice, occurring every so often. Almost always an unintentional result of stopped-up ears, causing the accuser to speak louder because they can’t hear how loud they are talking. Usually associated with those who suffer from seasonal allergies, as well as the older generation.

It doesn’t matter which category you relate to; Unless a life is in danger, or someone is too far away to hear a normal speaking voice, there is no reason to scream or speak harshly to another person, especially kids.
When I was a kid, when I would get into trouble, my parents would immediately send me to my room to “Think about what I did”. That confused me for so many years because I didn’t know why I needed to think about it. I knew all along it was bad, but I did it anyway. In reality, I would just wait in fear of the unavoidable spanking, and prepare by putting on fourteen pairs of underwear (which never worked). But now that I look back, I understand that they sent me straight to my room to “Think about it” so that they could calm themselves down. They allowed five or ten minutes to cool off before they came to my room. By then, the would talk to me about what I did and why it’s against the rules, tell me the whole “This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you” bull crap, and then give me my spanking. Then they would give me hugs, tell me how much they loved me, and it would be over. No harsh words, no yelling, no over-kill with the spankings. It hurt, yes, but I learned. I would’ve never learned if not for spankings. Time-outs or anything else would’ve been a joke to me.

But the important thing is to identify the fine line between acceptable and unacceptable spanking. It’s all about the timing. Timing is crucial when it comes to physical punishment, because it is all too easy to get carried away and be too harsh. The way my parents did this was by giving themselves time to cool down and think through the situation. This is so important for several reasons:

Reason One Control. It is almost impossible to be in total control of yourself when you’re angry. All rationality flies out the window and your only goal is to find a way to release the anger. Time will calm you down eventually, but all you care about is that instant relief. So if you decide to punish a child in the heat of moment, you’re probably spanking them about of anger as a release instead of spanking them out of love to discipline. In the end, you could hurt them much worse than intended, and for the wrong reason. Also, if you speak with a calm and gentle voice, it will keep them from becoming defensive. When they become defensive, nothing you say will get through to them, but when they’re at ease, your words will carry and have meaning.

Reason Two– Explanation. By waiting to cool down before a punishment, you’re able to think more clearly. Then you are able to talk about it and really teach them. You never know, maybe they don’t understand why what they did was wrong, or they have a legit explanation for why they did it. Then you can explain why it’s against the rules and listen to their side of the story. Growing up, there were several occasions where it was all just a misunderstanding and I actually wasn’t at fault. If my parents hadn’t taken the time to cool off and then talk it out, I would’ve been severely punished for no reason, which would break any child’s heart. As a parent, you want you kid to fear the spanking, not you.

Reason ThreeExample. You tell your kids not to hit other people, yes? You tell them to count to ten or hold their breath, or walk away in order to calm down, right? Of course you do. Now, if you tell them that and then you go and fly off the freaking handle the next time they do something wrong, that would send some mixed messages, wouldn’t it? You’re probably smart, so use that common sense to think about what every little thing you do will teach your kid. Kids watch and listen and learn by what is around them. You, as their parent, are the prime influence in their life, so use that to your advantage. So when you freak out and whip them while you’re angry, they will associate violence with anger. If you whip them while you’re calm and loving, they’ll associate violence with misbehaving.  Then it will be clear to them that the spanking is a result of their misbehavior, not a result of you being angry at them. So simple.

Don’t confuse a harsh vocal tone with a stern vocal tone. I’m not saying that you should only talk like Snow White when you discipline your kids. It’s perfectly fine to be stern with them cause it will help them see the severity of the situation. I’m just saying not to yell or scream- because that takes it from disciplining them to being mean to them.

So God really does know what he’s talking about. There is a reason why he puts that stuff in the Bible. I, myself, struggle with not acting out of anger. It’s tough, I get it. But it can be done.

James 1:19-20: says, “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 

Think about it.

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