I caught Day #2 of PEP’s Annual Author Series, where Hal Runkel (ScreamFree Parenting and ScreamFree Marriage) had even more tips on how to minimize “emotional reactivity.”

Runkel’s ScreamFree Institute‘s mission is best summed up on their website, “Calming the World…One Relationship at a Time.”

They explain, “Emotional reactivity is behind every bad pattern, bad decision, and bad relationship. Whenever we get reactive — whether by screaming, cutting ourselves off, overcompensating for others, or taking things personally or defensively — we operate out of our anxiety and, ironically, end up creating the very outcomes we were hoping to avoid. ScreamFree Living takes this reactivity very seriously and stresses that the number one step toward creating the types of relationships we truly crave is learning to calm down. ”

He asked the crowd, “If you had a remote control, what buttons would you want?”  The audience wanted buttons to decrease volume, stop whining, reset, pause, get kids to “just do it,” and so on.  He advised that having a “pause button” was huge.  Giving yourself, like your kids, a “time out,” is a great way to reset a situation; standing on the “balcony” to get a “birds’ eye view” is a great way to step aside and get your calm back.

Runkel explained that it’s not all out fault…our brain is wired in such a way that thoughts pass through the reactive part of our brain first, and it takes a lot of control to THINK before being reactive.  “Leaders keep their cool.  When you’re calm and present, you become a calming presence,” he said.

He cautioned against some of the dangers in communicating – with kids, spouses, friends – and one of the most damaging parenting quotes being, “I told you so.”

Runkel also talked more about his recommended approach to helping our kids become good decision makers.  He advised letting them work hard to get there.  “Lay out choices and consequences, and let them decide.”

I guess helicopter parenting wouldn’t be a good approach, huh?  🙂

The ScreamFree Institute‘s website has a quiz, “Are you scream free?”  Check it out – they have lots of great resources, free excerpts to download from their books, and their approach has tons of great learning on board.

Photo:  Hal Runkel, Author, Dad Since 1997 (DS’97) and Director, The ScreamFree Institute