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Lisa Smith

ThePeacefulParent.com
F L AV I A L E M O S D E S I G N .CO M
TABLE OF CONTENTS

1) “I Vow To Not Yell At My Kids Today” 04

2) “I can see it coming...” 13

3) Feeling our feelings 20

4) Anger is an Unmet Need 28

5) Healthy Modeling v. Unhealthy Modeling 35

6) Using Anger As Your Guide 43

7) Applying the Volcano Anger Model to Your Anger 51

8) Peaceful Parenting Over the Long Run 60

Conclusion 68

About the Author 69


CHAPTER 1

“I Vow To Not Yell


At My Kids Today”
CHAPTER 1

“I Vow To Not Yell


At My Kids Today”

When a storm is on the horizon, as a parent, you often feel


it coming. You feel it in your bones. You feel it as your blood
starts to boil. Despite how much you’ve vowed to not yell at
your kids today, it’s coming. You are helpless to stop it.

Then, the storm hits. You’ve lost control of your children


and you lose it. Suddenly, you’re screaming at the top of your
lungs to gain control, red in the face and filled with emotion.
Maybe this time your children will take you seriously as you
raise your voice. Maybe they are stunned by your yelling. Or
maybe, they’ve become accustomed to how you react. Either
way, it’s happening.

5 LISA SMITH • THE PE ACEFUL PARENT


“Why do I keep
doing this?” you
ask yourself.
Then, remorse sets in. Sometimes it’s sudden and sometimes
it sets in late at night as you reflect back on your day. “Why do
I keep doing this?” you ask yourself. “Why do I keep losing it?”

Sound familiar? I can tell you that more households deal with
the problem of anger than any other issue. For anyone want-
ing to become a more peaceful parent and achieve deep con-
nection and peace in the home, addressing anger and the root
causes of it are critical.

Before we explore where anger comes from, I’d like to tell you
about my own journey into become a peaceful parent, and
the realizations I had to reach in order to truly change my
parenting style.

I grew up in a home where anger was everywhere. There was a


lot of anger between the adults, but that anger was also directed
at me. That anger escalated over time, there was divorce, mov-
ing, new schools, more new schools, more moving not a lot of
stability and a ton of anger! Everyone was angry at everyone.

I was really afraid of the adults and their anger. I swore when
I became an adult, I wouldn’t be angry. I wouldn’t yell all the

7 LISA SMITH • THE PE ACEFUL PARENT


“I swore when
I became an
adult, I wouldn’t
be angry.”
time. I thought I could walk away from the anger and it would
have no effect on me as an adult. Boy was I wrong!

Early on in my parenting, I was in an almost-constant state of


anger. This really surprised me because, by nature, I’m not an
angry person. As my son grew from a baby to a toddler into
a little boy, I found myself growing more and more angry in
my parenting style. I would anger very quickly. I yelled a lot.
Screaming matches between my son and I happened frequently.

How was this happening? I made it through my entire adult


life without lashing out at others. Yet, here I was, screaming
at my son who I loved more than anything. After I yelled, I’d
feel so guilty about it that at night, I would promise myself,
“Tomorrow, I will not yell.”

Then, tomorrow came, and I’d yell.

It wasn’t until I really stopped to examine myself and my ten-


dencies as a parent that I realized how my childhood experi-
ences had directly shaped my parenting style. I had a lot of
healing to do.

9 LISA SMITH • THE PE ACEFUL PARENT


“Tomorrow,
I will not yell.”
Anger can look different depending on the home and
parent. The common manifestations of a parent who
are expressing anger are:

• Feeling the need to win every fight with your kids


• Forcing your power over your kids looks like yelling,
spanking, punishments, threats
• Walking away from them
• Giving them the silent treatment
• Slamming doors or throwing objects

In the next chapter, we’ll examine why patterns from our child-
hood are so deeply engraved in our parenting style, what is
happening on the neurological level and how we can begin
to heal – before we try to incorporate more healthy, peaceful
parenting into our homes.

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?
R E FLE CT I O N Q U EST I O NS

• How was anger, and other emotions, expressed in


your childhood home?

• Can you see any correlation between how you


were parented and how you’re parenting? “I Can
See It Coming…”

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CHAPTER 2

“I can see it coming...”


CHAPTER 2

“I can see
it coming...”

One of the most frustrating things about anger bubbling up


in your parenting is that you often see it coming – but feel
helpless to stop it.

Why is this?

Interestingly enough, many of us deal with anger based on


the patterns that were set forth by our own parents or caregiv-
ers. Everything we know about anger and how we express it
was mostly modeled for us when we were children. As a child,
your prefrontal cortex is still developing. When we grow up in
a home where anger is prominent, our brain’s neuropathways

14 LISA SMITH • THE PE ACEFUL PARENT


“Many of us deal with
anger based on the
patterns that were
set forth by our own
parents or caregivers.”
develop due to the models of behaviors and patterns we’re
exposed to.

If you grew up in an angry home, chances are you know it.


You probably have dealt with it as an adult enough to where
you’re unlikely to lash out on a co-worker or a stranger. You
may have even developed healthy adult relationships where
anger doesn’t bubble up.

But, when you became a parent, the neurological pathways


that were established within you as a child kick in. When
you’re presented with a challenge, such as your child disre-
specting you in public, those neuropathways start firing. This
is when it feels as if anger has hijacked your brain. On a neu-
rological level, that’s exactly what’s happening.

This is not to say that you can’t overcome your brain’s default
settings in your parenting style. You absolutely can. You just
have to do some deep work and rewire those pathways.

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“When you’re
presented with
a challenge, those
neuropathways
start firing.”
“... it feels as
if anger has
hijacked your
brain.”
?
R E FLE CT I O N Q U EST I O NS

• What are my default reactions to stress?

• What thoughts are going through my mind?

• What behaviors or actions from my child


trigger me?

19 LISA SMITH • THE PE ACEFUL PARENT


CHAPTER 3

Feeling Our Feelings


CHAPTER 3

Feeling
our feelings

Many of today’s parents grew up in environments where their


feelings were not taken into account. When emotions were
expressed, their parents said things like, “’l’ll give you some-
thing to cry about.” Feelings were dismissed.

However, as our society, we are changing. Parents today are


recognizing the importance of helping children explore their
feelings so they become mentally healthy adults.

As a result, parents today have a dilemma: they see why it’s


crucial to help their children understand and process their
feelings, yet they were never taught to do it themselves.

21 LISA SMITH • THE PE ACEFUL PARENT


“Feelings were
dismissed.”
Plus, parents have to experience all of their child’s emotions
when expressed. Oftentimes, parents are sad or uncomfort-
able when their child has negative feelings. Sometimes, we
attach judgment to those feelings. When we see our child
express their own anger, we interpret it as meaning we’re not
a good parent.

All of this creates a perfect storm within the home, often full
of contradictions, confusion and heightened emotions.

One of the most important things we can teach our children


is to let them feel their feelings. I beg you to understand this!

Let them feel their feelings, especially during a storm when


something has gone wrong, when you’re unhappy or when
they’re unhappy. Let them feel their feelings and give them
room and space and encourage them to feel their feelings.

I was recently coaching a mother and we discussed how, as par-


ents, many of us take our children’s negative feelings personally.

23 LISA SMITH • THE PE ACEFUL PARENT


“... parents are
sad or uncomfortable
when their child has
negative feelings.”
If you’re not careful, you can inadvertently encourage your
child to not express their feelings.

I promise you if you can get comfortable with letting your


child feel their feelings there’s a lot of freedom in that. It takes
effort and work. Giving your children permission to feel their
feelings is at the heart of peaceful parenting.

When this is hard to do, the secret is to just acknowledge that


you’re uncomfortable that your child is having these big feel-
ings. You can acknowledge to yourself, “Wow, I’m not sure
what to do here. This is really uncomfortable, but I’m going
to give my child the space to feel his feelings.”

When these big feelings are expressed through anger, it’s of-
ten a buildup of complex emotions and sometimes judgments
thrown in. That’s why anger feels so strong for us and for
our child.

Lastly, you need to do this with yourself too. Allow yourself


to feel your feelings.

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“Giving your children
permission to feel
their feelings is at
the heart of peaceful
parenting.”
?
R E FLE CT I O N Q U EST I O NS

• Am I creating an environment where my child


feels safe to express his or her emotions? If not, how
can I work towards creating this environment?

• How can I remove judgment around my feelings


and my child’s feelings, especially anger?

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CHAPTER 04

Anger is an
Unmet Need
CHAPTER 4

Anger is an
Unmet Need

Now that you understand the importance of letting your chil-


dren feel their feelings, you’re probably asking yourself what
to do when they’re feeling angry. You can’t just let them un-
leash? Or can you?

I’ve discussed how anger manifests and why it feels like our
brain is defaulting to anger, but we haven’t discussed the root
of the anger.

Anger, plain and simple, is an unmet need.

Let that sink in for a moment. Every time, we as humans, ex-


hibit anger, it’s because a need isn’t met.

29 LISA SMITH • THE PE ACEFUL PARENT


“Anger, plain
and simple, is an
unmet need.”
Let’s explore this idea a little further. Let’s say your son had a
big test at school. He studied hard for his exam, stayed up a
little later than normal and went to school nervous. You pick
him up after school and he scowls when you ask him how it
went. You probe a bit further – you want to know if his hard
work studying paid off! – and he lashes out. He screams at
you to leave him alone and tells you it’s none of your busi-
ness. He hurls his backpack at you.

A parent who has yet to do any deep work in addressing their


own anger might react back with the same fire, turning the
event into a heated screaming match and ruining the day.

However, what if you employed the “anger is an unmet need”


concept to this situation? Playing detective, you could look
at his situation and try to determine what his unmet needs
are in that moment. Think of the many possible answers! He
could need sleep from staying up late. He could need reassur-
ance of his hard work. He could need some time to play after
his brain has been in study-mode.

When you look at anger as an unmet need, it’s easy to have


more empathy toward your child.

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“When you look at
anger as an unmet
need, it’s easy to
have more empathy
toward your child.”
The same concept can be applied to yourself. The next time
you find yourself angry, ask yourself, “what is my unmet need?”

Using this “curiosity” approach is departure from how you


are wired neurologically, so you may really need to work at it
to encourage yourself, with love and kindness, to go under-
neath that behavior and really try to figure out what it is your
child needs.

In order to properly deal with your anger, you need to be able


to access or feel your feelings, and you need to give your child
space to access his or her feelings.

?
R E FLE CT I O N Q U EST I O NS

• When you last were angry, what was your unmet


need?
• Can you meet your need before your anger esca-
lates?

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The next time you
find yourself angry,
ask yourself,“what
is my unmet need?”
CHAPTER 05

Healthy Modeling
v.
Unhealthy Modeling
CHAPTER 5

Healthy Modeling
v.
Unhealthy Modeling

By now, you may have noticed a theme: in order to create a


peaceful home, you must focus on yourself just as much as
you are focused on guiding your child. There is power in this
realization, isn’t there? You have the tools to create the ideal
environment.

Now that we understand how anger is an unmet need, and


healthy expression of feelings is important for children, it is
your job as a parent to model healthy behavior in a way that
they’ll mimic.

36 LISA SMITH • THE PE ACEFUL PARENT


“... in order to create
a peaceful home,
you must focus on
yourself ...”
Let’s look at a household full of anger and how that creates
unhealthy modeling. When a parent yells at a child, especial-
ly a strong-willed child, you can almost always bet that child
will react back with anger. Usually the anger starts because a
parent is trying to force his or her will over their children.

When a child sees yelling, her subconscious will say, “if it’s
good enough for Dad, it’s good enough for me.” So they’ll
start to model that behavior back. Then, you are faced with a
parent trying to exert power over a child, and a child trying
to exert power right back over the parent.

IT MAY L O O K L I K E T H I S

Parent: “Brush your teeth.”


Child: “No.”
Parent: “I said brush your teeth. Do it now.”
Child, walking away: “I said ‘no’!”
Parent: “I’m the parent. You’re the child. You need
to do what I say!”

38 LISA SMITH • THE PE ACEFUL PARENT


“Usually the anger
starts because a
parent is trying to
force his or her will
over their children.”
You can see how a simple dialogue based in dominance can
escalate quickly into a storm. Once the storm starts, it goes
back and forth until there’s an explosion.
I am not suggesting for a moment that we allow our child to
exert their power over us and win. No, we are still the parent
and permissive parenting is not the answer.
What I am suggesting is that in peaceful parenting, you are
not trying to win. You are letting go of the need to win be-
cause winning over your child brings dominance and discon-
nection. Instead, I’m suggesting we redefine winning as vic-
tory achieved WITH your kids, not over them. As a parent,
you must use your power with your children to find that deep
connection.
You must also remember how a child processes your anger.
Their brains are saying, “You’re an adult, and I love you.
You’re angry and you’re yelling at me and maybe spanking
me and punishing me. You’re unleashing your fury on me.
I’m younger and scared and confused. I feel unsafe and I’m
crying. You’re yelling at me for crying and threatening to give
me more to cry about.”

40 LISA SMITH • THE PE ACEFUL PARENT


“... permissive
parenting is not
the answer.”
What a confusing situation emotionally for a child to be in!
Most children feel very confused and overwhelmed when they
are being yelled at. Often crying or yelling back is an expres-
sion of feeling overwhelmed for their underdeveloped brain.

As a parent, you must use your power with your children to not
scare or confuse them, but rather to find a deep connection.

?
R E FLE CT I O N Q U EST I O NS

• Can you think of a time where your child mod-


eled your behavior in a way you didn’t like? How
did it make you feel?
• How can you start modeling more healthy be-
haviors in your interactions with your children?

42 LISA SMITH • THE PE ACEFUL PARENT


CHAPTER 06

Using Anger
As Your Guide
CHAPTER 6

Using Anger
As Your Guide

What would you say if I told you that you can use anger as
your guide? That it can help you play detective with yourself
to diagnose your unmet needs, and it can help you play detec-
tive with your kids to uncover their unmet needs?

Moving forward, this is exactly how I want you to think about


anger. Where is this coming from? What is the unmet need?

I want to present my anger model to you. Find a piece of pa-


per and a pen. I want you to think of anger as a volcano. I’d
like you to draw a volcano with a big wide base at the bottom
leading up to an open spout at the top. At the base, I would

44 LISA SMITH • THE PE ACEFUL PARENT


“Anger can help you
play detective with
your kids to uncover
their unmet needs.”
like you to write out one of your typical unmet needs. A test
to make sure you wrote the correct unmet needs is that if this
need is met, there is no anger.

If you’re still stuck, think about some of your best memories


– great vacations, an amazing meal or a night out with your
spouse as the kids stayed home with a trusted babysitter. Your
needs were met, and you had no anger. The absence of those
fulfilled needs are your unmet needs – being overworked
without a vacation in site, being hungry or going a long time
without a date night, kids not listening, being late for work,
loss of sleep etc.

Now that you have your base of unmet needs, the middle of
the volcano represents feelings arising from the unmet needs.
Let’s say your unmet need is sleep: you need more sleep. You’re
a single parent, and you know when your feet hit the ground
at 5 a.m., you’ll be running all day, you’re building a business
and you’re taking care of your child and your home.

46 LISA SMITH • THE PE ACEFUL PARENT


“A test to make sure
you wrote the correct
unmet needs is that
if this need is met, there
is no anger.”
But your kids are up late, watching TV and not getting to bed
any time soon. You’re exhausted. You’re frustrated. You know
an important need of yours – sleep – will not be met.

The middle of the volcano represents the situation that’s pre-


venting your needs from being met and the emotions that are
beginning to bubble up like lava.

At the top of the volcano are how your feelings manifest and
explode out the top. It’s the expression of your unmet needs.
It could show up in the form of yelling, spanking, slamming
doors, silence, walking away, shutting down, becoming pas-
sive aggressive, to name a few.

Sometimes the unmet need is much more complex and takes


some time to really uncover. These can be things like unhap-
piness at work, your business isn’t growing like you thought it
would, you need more adult stimulation, you want you and
your spouse to be on the same page with regard to parenting,
you are worried about your son’s future, co-parenting with
your ex-spouse is complicated and frustrating etc.

48 LISA SMITH • THE PE ACEFUL PARENT


“Sometimes the
unmet need is much
more complex and
takes some time to
really uncover.”
This visual model gives so many parents clarity when uncov-
ering the sources of their own anger. It’s a process to go un-
derneath, and try to figure out what the unmet need is. Then,
with that intelligence and self-understanding, you can begin
modeling more healthy behavior and better connecting to
your child.

50 LISA SMITH • THE PE ACEFUL PARENT


CHAPTER 07

Applying the
Volcano Anger Model
to Your Anger
CHAPTER 7

Applying the
Volcano Anger Model
to Your Anger

The beautiful thing about the volcano model is that once


you’ve done this deep work on yourself and mastered it, you
can apply it to your child and his or her anger.

If you have a child who has big feelings, is strong willed, is


sensitive, feels deeply or is easily agitated, their volcano is go-
ing to be bigger than a non-strong-willed child. When their
emotions explode, their large volcano will spew more and
more lava.

52 LISA SMITH • THE PE ACEFUL PARENT


“... once you’ve done
this deep work on
yourself and mastered
it, you can apply
it to your child and his
or her anger.”
What does this mean? The more lava that comes out of the
top – in the form of yelling, lashing out and melting down
-- the more likely the brain is going to shut down so it doesn’t
get overwhelmed. Children naturally have a difficult time
pinpointing their unmet need because they get overwhelmed
by those feelings that are flooding in. That’s why a child who
melts down often attributes the meltdown to something mi-
nor – they are unable to make the connection themselves.

On a brain level, they are getting flooded with the hormone


known as cortisol and then they act from the feelings, stem-
ming from the unmet need. This is when things like temper
tantrums, yelling and hitting a sibling happen. They’re acting
from these feelings that are really uncomfortable for them,
and that reaction is coming from the emotional center of their
brain, which is also known as their middle brain.

With this logic, and understanding of how the volcano model


plays out in your child, you can see how a meltdown or a fit

54 LISA SMITH • THE PE ACEFUL PARENT


“... they get
overwhelmed by
those feelings that
are flooding in.”
directed at you, the parent, is rarely about you. Even though
it may be directed at you, it’s nothing we need to take person-
ally because it’s stemming from an unmet need.

This is when I love to say, “get curious, not furious.” They’re


reacting to an unmet need, so you must not respond in an-
ger. This may not come naturally to you depending on your
neuropathways and the muscle memory that has been pro-
grammed into you since you were a child. However, you need
to encourage yourself with love and kindness to really try to
figure out what your kids need.

When you help your child process those big feelings, the neu-
ropathways start to form into healthy patterns. They connect
their middle brain with their higher brain. As a parent, you
can do that by bringing them back online when they shut
down. This is called being emotionally intelligent, and by
modeling this, we increase their emotional intelligence.

56 LISA SMITH • THE PE ACEFUL PARENT


“get curious,
not furious.”
When the lava is spewing from your child’s volcano, I want
you to do something radical: literally stop parenting and be-
come your child’s emotional coach. Work with them to reg-
ulate and bring their brains back online. When you do this
over and over, you are demonstrating emotional intelligence.

What a gift you are giving your child! You are teaching them
to ask, “what are my feelings and needs? How do I get my
feelings and needs met? How do I make sure I’m meeting the
feelings and needs of the people I care about?”

This is at the core of peaceful parenting: to really understand-


ing how to meet the needs of both your child and you in a
way that allows both of you to be present and emotionally
available. It’s important not to parent in the middle of the
storm. Just be there for them as an emotional coach, help
them through it and then reflect on the situation later. When
their brain is back online, that is when you can talk about
their behavior and how to modify it in the future.

58 LISA SMITH • THE PE ACEFUL PARENT


?
R E FLE CT I O N Q U EST I O NS

• In areas where you typically get furious, how can


you instead get curious?
• Are my unmet needs easily solvable or will they
take deep work?

59 LISA SMITH • THE PE ACEFUL PARENT


CHAPTER 08

Peaceful Parenting
Over the Long Run
CHAPTER 8

Peaceful Parenting
Over the Long Run

Achieving more peace in the home and overcoming a culture


of anger is not easy. For you as a parent, you must stay in
your higher brain when your child is behaving in a way that
is difficult for you. Through consistency, you and your child
will start to work through stress and conflict with emotional
intelligence.

In order to make this process effective over time, I recom-


mend three simple steps. When I say simple, they’re simple
to remember but not always simple to implement. However,
once you follow them, they will lead to a stronger connection
with your child.

61 LISA SMITH • THE PE ACEFUL PARENT


“... you must stay in
your higher brain when
your child is behaving
in a way that is difficult
for you.”
1 Empathy. You must have empathy for yourself and for
your child. This is really difficult because many parents are
uncomfortable when feelings arise from unmet needs.

2 Self-Awareness. You know the volcano model is working


for you when you can say, “OK, I’m angry because I have an
unmet need. Can I take time to figure out what the unmet
need is?” You also know it’s working when you can extend
that awareness to your child. A great example is sibling fight-
ing. A lot of times parents will focus on the actual fighting
and the behavior that’s coming out the top of the volcano.
But really, connection happens between you and your chil-
dren when you focus on what’s going on at the base of the
volcano during the sibling fight. Who needed attention but
wasn’t getting it? Who needed respect but didn’t receive it?

3 Respect for Feelings and Needs. Again, it’s about what’s


happening at the base (unmet need), not about what lava is
coming out (anger). It’s all about forging a deeper connection
and using power as a parent for good.

63 LISA SMITH • THE PE ACEFUL PARENT


1

“EMPATHY.
You must have
empathy for yourself
and for your child.”
2

“SELF-AWARENESS.
Can I take time to
figure out what the
unmet need is?”
3

“RESPECT FOR FEELINGS


AND NEEDS. It’s all about
forging a deeper connection
and using power
as a parent for good.”
?
R E FLE CT I O N Q U EST I O NS

• Do I understand empathy and how to give it to


myself and others?
• How can I work to create space for everyone’s’
feelings and needs?

67 LISA SMITH • THE PE ACEFUL PARENT


Conclusion

The more you practice the volcano model on yourself, and


your child, the more you’ll start to see a shift in your home.
Continue to dissect your anger, and encourage your child to
do the same (both in practice and by modeling). Sit down
with them and explain the volcano model. Help them under-
stand what an unmet need is and what can happen as a result.

You’ll see the benefits spread to all areas of your and your
child’s life.

68 LISA SMITH • THE PE ACEFUL PARENT


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lisa Smith
LISA SMITH

About The Author

Hi I’m Lisa. I am a Mom and Parent Coach who knows the


joy of transformation, but really I help turn frustrated parents
-- who regularly default to yelling, threatening and punishing
-- into peaceful leaders within their households. As a former
dominant parent, I found the path to Peaceful Parenting and
am dedicated to helping other parents find their way too!

When I’m not coaching, you’ll find most likely me at a bas-


ketball game rooting on my son or traveling somewhere new.
I am obsessed with cross-fit, personal development and ro-
mance novels. You’ll almost always find me with a Starbuck’s

70 LISA SMITH • THE PE ACEFUL PARENT


iced green tea in my hand. You can learn more about me and
my work at www.thepeacefulparent.com. I would love to hear
from you and you can reach me directly at ...

L i sa @T h e PeacefulParent .com

71 LISA SMITH • THE PE ACEFUL PARENT


THANK YOU.
Lisa Smith
ThePeacefulParent.com