2007-07-26 / Health & Wellness
Anger management: Does someone in your family have a toxic temper?
Have you ever noticed the time it takes to subdue someone's temper, especially a child's?
If it takes you more than 15 seconds, that's the amount of time you have to take three deep breaths and turn the situation around or it is going to escalate into painful exchanges and sometimes violent behavior.
The most practical and effective intervention is to say your child's name and then acknowledge that they are upset. Listen with your whole heart and both ears and both eyes. Help your child to communicate his or her feelings and needs. This is a great practice for getting down to the nitty-gritty of your own feelings and needs, as well as creating peaceful resolution in the household.
Saying reactive remarks like, "No! Stop crying! Big boys don't cry! I'll fix it!" is sometimes more harmful in the long run. Communicating in a nonjudgmental way opens the door for true, heartfelt communication between parent and child. It creates a connection of trust and authenticity which keeps everyone present in the moment.
A simple example might be this: You see Tommy getting ready to stick a screwdriver into an electric socket. In your panic, your first impulse is to jerk him up by the arm and scream, "No! Stop! Don't do that!"
Instead, choose the following approach: Rush over and sweep him up in your arms and say, "Tommy, I have a real concern for your safety. Do you want to tell me what you were doing?" And you discover he was just curious.
Instead of shutting down his curiosity with a jerk and a scary scolding, ask him if he would like to learn how to build with an erector set. Maybe you could build a space station together. It's a way to avert catastrophe and connect the two of you with true feelings and arrive at meaningful solutions with lasting behavior changes.
If you are dealing with a complete "meltdown," which means you have missed that 15second window to shift the upset into neutral, this is what happens to many individuals:
The adrenals produce excess adrenaline and cortisol, not to mention a relatively unknown neurotoxin called adrenal lutein. Adrenal lutein kicks into the liver, creating another neurotoxin called hydroxy5kryptopyrole (causing a stomachache), which delivers to the thyroid (producing a burning throat or throat-ache) and then to the brain (creating a headache). This all happens in about 15 seconds. Research indicates that it takes at least eight to 24 hours for the body to neutralize these harmful, self-made toxins.
According to psychiatrist Dr. Richard Kraus, who researched prison populations with violent behavior, it is important to understand the link between nutritional deficiencies, mood and brain function. Many of the symptoms of emotional volatility have been linked to deficiencies in certain B vitamins and minerals, especially zinc. Kraus recommends a daily minimum of 100 milligrams of B6 daily, 400 micrograms of folic acid and at least 50 micrograms of B12 with a multivitamin/mineral supplement to inhibit the above symptoms.
Also, a new biologically activated form of zinc, when coupled with neurofeedback training, has demonstrated a calming effect on hyperactive individuals, with a reported reduction in headaches and stomachaches in a matter of 72 hours.
Georgia K. Connor, PhD, is a Westlake Village neuroscientist and learning specialist, certified in neurofeedback and advanced biofeedback and for mediation from the Los Angeles Bar Association. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.