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What’s the Verbal Climate in Your Home?

Wasatch Family Therapy Teens

Most of us grew up hearing the adage, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” While the intent of this quip perhaps was to toughen kids up, in more recent years we’ve clued in to how false this message is! Name calling, harsh words, verbal bullying does hurt. Aggressive words and/or harsh tones can inflict emotional pain just as real as getting physically punched. And when such verbal punches are thrown in the home, it is especially hurtful. As parents and/or the adults in a child’s life, most of us are quite clear about the need to protect children from the bullying that can too easily happen among groups of children. But are we aware that when we speak harshly or critically to our children or spouse it is potentially even more harmful than schoolyard bullying?

What is the verbal climate in your home? How do you communicate with your children or spouse, especially when the pressure is on? Do you yell when you’re frustrated or angry? Do you use harsh, cutting, or condescending words with your family or with others within their hearing? Does this happen frequently? Occasionally?

A growing body of research is demonstrating how verbal hostility negatively impacts a child’s brain in much the same way as does acts of domestic violence including sexual abuse. The greater the intensity of the verbal hostility, the greater the frequency of it, and the occurrence of other forms of abuse in combination with it are factors that determine the degree of the damage inflicted upon the child’s brain. In short, yelling at your children can cause actual, measurable brain damage (Teicher, Samson, Polcari, & McGreenery, 2006; Teicher, 2016). To be sure, this damage can be healed, but the abuse has to be stopped first—the child’s climate has to be changed.

If the verbal climate in your home is “hot,” the therapists at Wasatch Family Therapy can help you reset your emotional thermostat and change out old, broken down communication styles for healthy, refreshing ones—ones that create a safe climate for your family to live in.  Give us a call at 801-944-4555 and make an appointment. It’s one of the best things you can do for your children, your spouse, and you.

 

References

Teicher, M. H., Samson, J. A., Polcari, A., & McGreenery, C. E. (2006). Sticks, stones,

and hurtful words: Relative effects of various forms of childhood

maltreatment. The American Journal Of Psychiatry, 163(6), 993-1000.

 

Teicher, M. H., & Samson, J. A. (2016). Annual research review: Enduring

neurobiological effects of childhood abuse and neglect. Journal of Child Psychology And Psychiatry, 57(3), 241-266.

 

 

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Anger Management Series – Part 2

As mentioned in the previous article, it is important to explore your anger and exactly what is happening at that moment. One model of anger presents anger in an ABCDE format.

A – Activating Situation or Event

What is happening? What happened before you got angry and what is happening now?

B – Belief System

What is the self-talk going on in your head at the moment? What are your expectations?

C – Consequence

How do you feel about the event based on your self-talk? What are the feelings you are currently experiencing? What happens to your body when you’re experiencing these feelings? Notice the surface feelings and vulnerable feelings underneath.

D – Dispute

Examine your beliefs and expectations – are some unrealistic and maybe a bit irrational? Do you have to get angry? Is there another way to look at what is happening?

E – Evidence

Notice your evidence to support thoughts and be truthful about it. Be honest with yourself.

In reality when you’re angry is it likely that you’ll really sit and analyze the situation or just react on impulse? Probably act on impulse. Other situations you might be able to sit down and analyze what is happening, but in a confrontational situation it’s a lot harder.

One important thing about anger and learning about anger management is when to take a break and really evaluate your situation. By taking a break and stepping away it will allow you to not only analyze what is happening by using this format but it might save you and someone else from saying something you might regret.

By using this format you can eventually make a decision based on principles or logic rather than acting on those intense emotions.

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