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Boys Nurture Too: My Latest on World Moms Blog

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Dealing with Bitchiness and Nasty Sarcasm

Bitchiness and Nasty Sarcasm, like any lashing out or meanness, are signs of sorrow and pain, or frustration, or not wanting to face a reality that doesn’t fit with current personal paradigms.

The first key, for the person on the outside, dealing with them is to remain as emotionally detached as one can. This is not something I say lightly, it can be very unpleasant when someone you love or think a lot of lashes out verbally. If it is someone we admire and want to admire us, angry or mean words can be deeply disturbing. Not taking someone’s words personally, when we care or want to help, is hard. Really hard. However, maintaining some sense of emotional distance is essential. If we can’t manage immediately, perhaps over time – remembering that annoying adage, what they say and do is more indicative of their personal state than your own.

The second key is to find the underlying cause: Not to fix it or to try and rescue, the people being nasty, from it but simply in order to understand. To be able to listen to their words, not literally, but for the underlying message of pain.

1. Emotional Disconnection.
When someone is feeling emotionally disconnected they are in deep despair. They feel intense loneliness and fear that they will always feel this way. They often cannot see any way out of this.

2. Lack of Autonomy, Feeling Powerless or Lack of Playtime.
People who feel they have no control over too many aspects of their lives, or really important aspects of their lives, or who lack downtime, experience intense frustration with the world. They lash out as a way of expressing the intensity of sensation within their bodies. They may not even realise that the discomfort is in their bodies, not outside them being inflicted upon them.

3. Facing an Unwanted Reality.
When people are bitchy or nastily sarcastic, it is often triggered by an external ‘mirror.’ They see someone doing better than they are, in some area of their lives.
They see someone happier than they are, in some area of their lives.
They experience someone saying, No, or setting a reasonable boundary, when they thought that person was ‘perfect’ or always going to agree with them, or they are used to doing something, that is no longer appropriate or acceptable due to a change in age or development or situation.

The third key is to hold our ground. Not in a mean way or to teach a lesson, or to punish the other. The discomfort in the other is intense, and they do not need any further pain. This key is about not accepting the behaviour…all the while accepting the person.

An example could be children, in a classroom, who feel emotionally detached from their parents. Let’s say their whole sense of self is caught up in being ‘the best’ or ‘the richest’ or ‘the best looking’ or ‘the sweetest’ or whatever. And then another child out
‘bests,’ ‘riches,’ ‘beautifuls,’ ‘sweets’ them.

The reality shakes their core and they will try to hurt the other, to make the other lesser so as to restore their sense of well-being.


Once the initial situation is dealt with, then we need to look at how to support these people.

1. We emotionally connect through warm, non-intrusive touch and warm, non-intrusive eye-contact. We use stories and rituals and daily rhythms that tie these people to a group in a positive way.

2. We ensure they have time to choose during their day. We give them options. We allow downtime where they do not have to be conscious.

3. We always expect they are making gains towards ways of maintaining relationship and their own personal sense of self, even when they slip.

We could think of it as an elevator climbing a shaft very slowly. The roof does not move in order to accommodate it but all the while it is climbing the floors until it reaches the penthouse. Where the good stuff lives.


(When the elevator doesn’t want to move? We sometimes have to walk away.)

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Bitchiness and Nasty Sarcasm – Bullying TANTRUMS of Sad People

I’ve talked a lot about Karpman’s  Drama Triangle and how those nonconscious (learned but automated) and embedded patterns (they are in place by the age of four or five) can muck up our parenting, without us even realising it. This post went viral: TANTRUMS: Do You Make Them Worse or Help Them Ease?

(This is all true for our adult relationships, too.)

It is a a sure sign that people are caught up in the drama of relationship when they are either bitchy or nastily sarcastic (as opposed to the fun of sarcasm when we are bantering or teasing with the intention to amuse and emotionally connect). These are the people for whom the identification and expression of their emotions has been messed-up.

For these people, the sensations of discomfort created by either seeing, hearing or doing something they are not familiar with, or that challenges their core-beliefs, are huge. They might also feel uncomfortable when they are faced with a real consequence or information they don’t like, or when they see someone who is succeeding in some way, that they are not – relationship, academic, financial, health, promotions etc.

They have little practise at identifying their own emotions, which, like all of us, begin as sensations in their bodies. They don’t know what to do with the discomfort. They might not be able to tell anyone else they feel uncomfortable. They might not even be able to consciously identify those sensations as discomfort.

Despite what many of us think, they don’t feel uncomfortable because they feel threatened. They feel threatened because they feel so uncomfortable; they experience their bodies as unsafe places to be. The discomfort comes first.  And they don’t like it. And they want it to go away. And they have no idea the discomfort is inside themselves. So they identify a ’cause’ or target and lash out.

In our society, where violence is not an acceptable way to deal with our problems, one of two things happens – or sometimes a combination of both – they either become subversive with their physical attacks, ensuring others don’t see them hurt the other – or they become verbally abusive, perhaps pretending to be sweet all the while meaning something very different. This is passive-aggressive behaviour and it’s very unpleasant and can be deeply damaging for those on the receiving end.

As far as Karpman Roles are concerned, consider these:

The Victim: This is not the actual victim, who is on the other side of the bitchiness and sarcasm, this is the person who is taking the role of a Victim.  As soon as someone challenges their role in a mean or bullying situation, they do their very best to twist the situation around so that they appear innocent or blameless. They might pout and make their eyes all big and surprised-like. They might cry. They might stop taking care of themselves. They will try to find someone or something else to blame . They will lie.  The more they are challenged, or believe they are not being allowed to slip into this role, the more desperate and extreme their behaviour will become.

The Rescuer: This person won’t try to help the actual victim, they will comfort the person taking the Victim stance. They make it their job to keep the Victim happy and reassure them that they have done nothing wrong. They will help the Victim to blame the real victim or the person/people challenging them. They will perpetrate any lies the Victim invents. They give up their own identity to protect their relationship with the Victim, even though it’s a very unhealthy (possibly codependent) relationship.

The Persecutor: Anyone who challenges the Victim about their bitchiness or other nastiness toward the real victim will be labelled as a Persecutor by the Victim and Rescuer.

Persecutor is also the label a Victim will give to someone who stops Rescuing them. (Got that? It’s a bit confusing, I know.)

The real persecutors are those being bitchy or nasty, feel uncomfortable, find a target and lash out.

What happens, more often than we would like to accept, I suspect, is that when we are asked to deal with a bitch or a bully, is that we too take on a role in the Drama Triangle.

It’s easy to forget we are observers and need to stay observers. Too easily and too often, we become part of the problem. Too often, we see what we want to see. People are built to find evidence that supports what they already believe.


We might become Persecutors, and blame the real victim.

We might become another Rescuer, and try to save the real persecutor who is acting the role of a Victim. Even if we don’t do that, if we take on this role (and it can be difficult not to) it is likely we will pat ourselves on the back when we come up with a solution that suits us or seems right to us. This is not because we are mean or any more self-centered that anyone else, it is just because we have become involved and have forgotten to remain detached observers. Or we didn’t realise that was a more appropriate role.

We might become a Victim, and remind everyone just how much we are doing and how hard we work and how it’s not easy being a parent/teacher/boss, and how we didn’t get enough sleep last night, and how our husband ran away with another woman, and how the financial pressures we are facing are immense and how our childhood wasn’t ideal and how the cat vomitted on the carpet this morning and blah, blah, blah.

Yeah, nah. None of these are helpful.

As a parent, I know how much we all want to believe our own children are telling the truth. They want us to believe that too. What we think of them, matters to them. For some children, it’s a desperate need to feel connected and protected that will drive them to be bitchy, nasty or otherwise bully. It’s not attention, it’s a plea for emotional connection, freedom to explore at their own pace, and/or sensible edges to their world.

What to do instead?

…Next Post…

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Food Harvesting with my Boys – My Latest at World Moms Blog

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I always love to hear from you…here or there.

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TANTRUMS: Helping Kids When They Dig Themselves Into A Hole

All relationships go through times of emotional disconnection. This is natural and normal and part of being one human living with other humans. When our children tantrum, whatever the reason, these are times when they feel disconnected from us.

Sometimes their tantrums are accompanied by another need, as when they are tired or hungry(Reaction Tantrums). Sometimes their tantrums are more about learning that the world has edges and they cannot always do what they would like to do (Processing Tantrums).  All tantrums are about having big sensations in their bodies that they would like to go away – some need more soothing (Reaction Tantrums) and  some need to be completed to that new information can be integrated into their neural pathways (Processing Tantrums). They all feel bad.


During any kind of tantrum, our children need to know they can find their way back to us. They need to know, deep inside, they are still good and worthy, even if some of their behaviour is unacceptable. They need to know how to emotionally reconnect after disconnection. They need to know how to make things better. Their ability to do this will determine how well they can manage their adult relationships. It’s a big deal.

Some children, those I call Owls, get very stubborn when they are tantruming. They get so overwhelmed by the big sensations in their bodies, and their ability to think rationally can be so far off-line, that they dig themselves into deeper and deeper holes.  That is, they make things worse for themselves, even when they desperately want to make things better. Helping these kids to calm and emotionally reconnect takes a bit of conscious parenting. Here’s a process that seems to work for our Owl child:

1.  Stay calm and take nothing they say or do personally. It’s NOT about you or your internal needs or dramas. Imagine you are observing the situation, not participating in it.


2. State the situation clearly and with as little emotion as you can manage. “You are not having ice-cream for breakfast, it’s not a healthy start to the day.” OR “You’re hungry, I know, we’ll get you some food as fast as we can but all the same, you’re not allowed to hurt your brother.”

3. As frequently as you can, make warm, non-intrusive, eye-contact. It can also be good to hold them in your arms, with their backs snuggled into your tummy – when they relax, you relax, when they tense you hold a little firmer – not to hurt them, just to contain them. This helps them to feel the edges of their bodies. (They will probably hurt you and complain you are holding them too hard.) During this time you could remind them that you love them, in a calm voice but stop them from kicking, pinching, biting etc. They might say all sorts of mean things in return. Ignore those things, you’re the observer – not a participant.

4. If they go and hide somewhere, follow them and remind them you love them and you are available for a cuddle as soon as they are ready. Then leave them to it. You could pop back every now and again to remind them that you love them, but it works best – long-term, if they come to you, rather than you going to them. (You’re NOT a Rescuer you’re an Enabler.)

5. Snap them out of the tantrum in some way.

(A) You could try ‘Random Words and Phrases’ as Hand in Hand Parenting suggests – where you call out anything that will give their brain an alternative picture to focus on. “Red Noses!” “Hairy Elephant Legs!” etc But often these make Owl children more angry, so then try…

(B) Distract them by suggesting to someone else that they go and do something pleasant, within the upset one’s hearing. “Why don’t you go and play with Jason?” said to Joe, can make Sam re-emerge from his anger. You might need to try something different each time.

(C) Divert them by reminding them they can hit the pillows in their bedroom as much as they like but they are not to hit the cat, etc.

6. Carry on with something else, remove your focus from them: prepare the food if they are hungry; help them into bed, if they are tired; fold the washing or continue with the grocery-shopping if you are simply setting a boundary.

7. Expect them to apologise. Of course, apologies can be ‘just words’ but you can easily say, “I don’t believe you mean that just now.” People cannot genuinely apologise until they feel better themselves. You’ll know when they are feeling real remorse, then you have a lovely snuggle, makes loads of eye-contact and emotionally reconnect. They don’t have to apologise about being hungry…how silly would that be? But for any mean-ness or any hurt they have caused. (Whether you believe in asking children to apologise or not; it is the way adults in the western world are expected to begin repairing relationships. I believe it is a skill to be taught and practised as much as learning to use the washing-machine or balance their cheque-books.)

6. Expect them to ask, “How can I make it better?” For some situations, it’s enough to have the genuine apology. For other situations, payment for repairs or help to clean up the tantrum mess might be more appropriate. (Always work alongside them, so it is a re-connective process.)

7. Never mention it again, unless they raise the topic.

{About a week after I wrote this, my lovely Owl (Sam) managed to dig himself into a hole about who was going to open one of our gates. He wasn’t going to do ‘that’ gate no matter what, but when his four yo brother, Ed, said he would have a go at it, Sam quickly volunteered to help if Ed had any problems managing, and did. He found a way out of his hole before he got in too deep. If I had pushed the issue, instead of waiting for that to happen, he would have simply dug himself in deeper and he would have had no relief from the stress he was experiencing in that hole. And I’d still be sitting in the car waiting for the gate to be opened.

The intense stubbornness these kids display can be immensely frustrating for parents and teachers…perhaps until we realise, it’s a sign of stress and feeling overwhelmed and we have to give them breathing space in order for them to calm, and manage the situation.}

For more innovative and science based information on parenting, in particular tantrums, you could go and buy my book – All About Tantrums: Why we have them, How to prevent them, What to do when they happen. There’s the link riiiiiiiiight there:

‘All About Tantrums’ is also now available for Kindle.

(The advertising on this page is all about WordPress. I have no control over it, nor do I get any money from it.)

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Maturity is a Product of Experience, the Real Kind not Manufactured Bullshit

I have just been sitting on a grassy hill, under pine trees and in dappled sunlight, watching my four year-old play in a dam of icy water. (Yes, this is an old picture.)


From time to time, as he walked in the squelchy mud, he wobbled and corrected his body position. He often slipped, fell into the water, laughed, made eye-contact with me for reassurance that he could manage, and stood up again. He asked me to throw pine-cones into the water that he fetched for me to throw again. If he couldn’t reach them he attempted to use sticks of various weights and lengths to drag them back. Eventually, he found a stick correctly weighted and at the right length for him to consistently achieve his goal.

He was shocked by the temperature of the water (using eye-contact to make sure that I wasn’t worried) and simultaneously undisturbed by it – returning time and time again to greater depths until he felt uncomfortable. And then he went no deeper.

He learned. He learned. He learned. He learned. He learned.

I didn’t teach a thing.

What he was learning were non-conscious patterns of behaviour that will help him through life. These are different from unconscious behaviours like breathing, blood circulation or fear responses. Non-conscious patterns of behaviour are learned behaviours that form the base of intuition and self-trust. When you truly know how to manage, you know, you know how to manage. When you have made enough mistakes, you stop making them. When you have repeated the same mistake enough times, you stop making it. The more often you do this in one setting, the faster you spontaneously learn in another and the more efficient your brain becomes. And the easier life is to navigate.

Old fashioned play, like this, along with high levels of nurturing, firm boundaries, meaningful chores and rituals/stories/routines, are the foundation of true maturity.

It is very difficult to teach maturity using the conscious brain as a portal. As uncomfortable as it is for many of us to accept, consciousness merely interprets what information the rest of the brain feeds it. Or as David R Hawkins says in this book, Power v Force, “Consciousness is gullible, it believes everything it hears. Consciousness is like hardware that will play any software that’s put into it.”

(This does not mean that some top-down, consciousness first, learning is not useful. It is merely that it is much harder and stressful for the brain to learn this way and we are unlikely to become mature via the conscious brain.)

Prior to us leaving the dam, I gave three or four time warnings that we were about to leave. When it was time to go, there was no tantrum or fuss. His Playful Brain System was already alert that a change was imminent – he had imagined and accepted the transition before it happened. That information had had time to be fed into his consciousness. His conscious brain wasn’t shocked by a sudden change in focus. He also knew that what I said would happen: he’s used to my words and actions matching.

Parenting with human biology is so much easier, than trying to enforce how we want the world to be – whether we be traditional, attachment, freerange or super nanny parents, or some confused mixture of the lot.

 Parenting according to one method or expert can lead us to bratty, narcissistic children, or those full of bravado or bitchiness, or sad children for whom perfection is the only acceptable level of achievement. Often we keep going, following blindly what the ‘experts’ say, and trying to ignore that our kids aren’t quick to get over their tantrums, or seem sadder than we expected, or less mature than we intended them to be. Sometimes other people reassure us that things are just fine, because that makes them feel better about themselves – or their kids are the same.

We can keep doing what we are doing and ignore the tap dance of discomfort the rest of our brain is doing on our consciousness.

Or we can change our approach.

Of course, that takes great courage and can involve the shattering of dearly held beliefs.

I’m leaving the final word to David Hawkins:

“If life is viewed as a teacher, then it becomes just that. But unless we become humble and transform them [experiences with unexpected outcomes] into gateways to growth and development, then the painful life lessons we deal ourselves become wasted.”

For more innovative and science based information on parenting, in particular tantrums, you could go and buy my book – All About Tantrums: Why we have them, How to prevent them, What to do when they happen. There’s the link riiiiiiiiight there:

‘All About Tantrums’ is also now available for Kindle.

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Tantrum Recovery Time.

Ever noticed how the children, who have both emotional support and firm and reasonable boundaries, recover so much more quickly from their Processing Tantrums than those who don’t have these?

Or, if they do have a major meltdown and the support is there and boundary is held, how much less likely they are to have another one soon after?

Even when their Processing Tantrums are exacerbated by Reaction Tantrum issues?

Especially when their parents keep out of The Drama Triangle? (TANTRUMS: Do You Make Them Worse or Help Them Ease?.)

Yeah. That.


For more innovative and science based information on tantrums you could go and buy my book – All About Tantrums: Why we have them, How to prevent them, What to do when they happen. There’s the link riiiiiiiiight there:

‘All About Tantrums’ is also now available for Kindle.

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So Kloppenmum-ers, where do you fit on the scale of 1 to 10 (1 being least upset, 10 being most) when your children tell you that they hate you?

When someone tells us they hate us they are telling us that they don’t like the information they are processing at the time. Most often, in parenting, this happens when a child is having a tantrum after we have used the word, No, or set some boundary or other. Most often, with adults, this happens when we decide we are not going to be treated in a certain way or we challenge the other about something we deem inappropriate.

And, they really do hate us: at this moment and until the processing is complete  and they accept the boundary or our right to an alternative opinion. And that reaction is OK. No, really.

Anger, fear and sorrow are all automated defense mechanisms and they are useful and fine, unless they get stuck. Stuck bodily sensations/emotions are where the problems lie. *We want to be angry but have to stuff those sensations away. *We feel sad but have to hide that we’re feeling sad. *We are experiencing deep fear but cannot fight the person we fear or we cannot get away from them. These are the sorts of situations that cause our bodily sensations/emotions to get stuck and cause us long-term problems.

The only way to keep bodily sensations (and emotions) fluid and healthy, is to go through the Processing Tantrum to the end. This means as boundary setters, we absolutely have to keep our own stuff out of the processing of the other person. (Well, as best we can, and let’s do better next time.) We do that by keeping ourselves calm and emotionally detached, and by understanding the other has to get through to the end of these tantrums in order to gain the benefits (which are many) from them, all the while – holding the boundary.

We do not become victims and make it all about us by saying things like:

1. I get upset when you say you hate me.

2. I do so much for you and this is how you repay me?

3. I just want to cry when you speak to me like that.

4. It’s not fair, stop picking on me.

We do not become rescuers and make it all about us proving to ourselves we are good parents/people, by reasoning with the other or debating with the other or continually explaining the situation.

We do not become persecutors and make it all about us being right or by trying to stop their processing by saying things like:

1. I will throw your snuggly in the rubbish if you carry on like this.

2. You won’t be able to sit with me at the dinner table or have a cuddle in bed tonight.

3. You are bad/naughty/stupid.

4. Don’t get angry, there’s no reason to be angry.

We do not become patronising gits and say things like:

1. You don’t hate me, you hate the power I have over you.

2. You are just processing a situation you’re not happy about.

3. You just need to get over yourself.

4. If you would only focus on being happy, it would all go away.

To help the other person to get through the process, to completion, we can do things like:

1. Stay physically present but otherwise occupied by folding laundry or doing dishes or some other chore. If you’re dealing with an adult, just get on with your life and out of the way.

2. Keep yourself calm by deep breathing or imagining a happy place.

3. Accept and believe this has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with them learning where the edge of their world lies.

4. Expect things will get worse and worse and worse and worse and worse and worse and worse until a peak is reached, and then there will be a slow-ish decent to calm and acceptance.

5. Expect someone who loves you will want to emotionally reconnect and be ready to do so as soon as the other shows signs of this. (Warm non-intrusive eye-contact, physical touch, playfulness, asking for help to make things better, apologising sincerely, etc)

6. Expect the other to make the most effort in repairing the relationship for people older than eight years-old, and that you will make the most effort in repairing the relationship if they are younger than this. Even small children can at least walk over to you and give you a hug or help tidy up the tantrum mess they made. People are a bit funny like that – let them off scott-free, no effort involved on their part – and they don’t feel so good about themselves; have them make an effort and their sense of self increases.

7. Expect that every time you back down, the following tantrums will be more intense and last longer.

8. Expect that the more you hold the boundary this way, the fewer the tantrums will become, if no one else has interfered with their processing  and over many months.

9. Expect their increased serenity, playfulness and maturity after the tantrum session. Expect greater acceptance of reasonable boundaries and perhaps some discussion around them. This later calm time, is the time to go into detail about why they cannot have ice-cream for breakfast, or throw things in the house, or hurt another child, or watch tv until 10pm.

10. Expect you will become less upset by hearing those words, “I hate you” and confidence in your parenting abilities to increase, as you really come to terms with understanding the process of boundary setting.

If we, the other or a third person interrupt the process of acceptance (of boundary or alternative view) then the sensations and emotions of hatred/anger/fear/sorrow get stuck.  They become much more difficult to shift over time. It is only by going through and ending the process of acceptance that these can properly clear. Even appeasing the wounded person does nothing but embed the stress in their viscera and muscles. It’s only in completion that the pathways in the brain can join as they are meant to join, and greater maturity and understanding of the world can be gained. The positive side-effect is increased physical health.

For more innovative and science based information on tantrums you could go and buy my book – All About Tantrums: Why we have them, How to prevent them, What to do when they happen. There’s the link riiiiiiiiight there:

‘All About Tantrums’ is also now available for Kindle.


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