I like to balance the Navy Seals in my feed with the Flag Officer in my life. Here’s what Admiral Jonser has to say:
Gordo, always remember that our words have far more power, and reach, than we can possibly imagine.
When my son was little he developed a habit of total breakdown. He could not handle the slightest disruption and we were at a loss about how to help the guy.
If anyone needed to “harden up” it was him. However, I couldn’t bring the hammer down (on the nicest guy I’d ever met).
We talked about this challenge with each other, with his pediatrician and with his teachers.
What we ended up doing was cultivating a different kind of normal for him.
- Read, exercise and learn every day
- Be kind, especially to those without recourse
I focused on the above, invited him along, and gave up trying to fix him.
How do you help a sensitive kid learn to deal with strong emotions?
Lower The Stakes – paradoxically, expectations may be making life more difficult, particularly when you focus on external performance relative to peers and siblings.
Personal Mastery – Where can you give your kid (or yourself) a big win? Our kids try a lot of different things – climbing, swimming, hiking, skiing, martial arts, water polo, reading, math, art.
From the time he could stand up, my son had a passion for walking uphill. So I went with that, even when it meant I had to carry him back to the car! Turns out he also has a knack for skiing. So he’s 8 and he’s figured out that he can hike and ski like a man. That’s a big win in a boy’s world. Personal mastery helps, a lot.
Respect Sensitivities – at the start of the summer, I put his sister on BLAST. He was standing beside her. She shrugged me off, I merely “got her attention.” Unfortunately, my son was caught in the blast and ended up on the ground shaking from overload. I didn’t need Admiral J’s advice to see my approach had been completely ineffective.
Positive (Self) Regard – my desired outcome for my kids is simple. Basically, I’d like them to be polite, healthy and repeat mistakes less often. This leaves my mind free to acknowledge they are already better versions of myself. I share my shortcomings with them – current and when I was their age.
We stuck with the above, as best we could, and he figured out how to cope. My main role remains loving him and not making things worse!
Change happens slowly. This was a multi-year project and I didn’t notice he was a different guy until last weekend. He took a huge digger descending the highest mountain in Colorado, brushed it off and kept on rolling.
I said to myself, “this is something new,” and started to rewind the recent past. I realized my filter was out of date. Homie had been crushing life all summer and I didn’t notice.
Perhaps there was nothing to fix.