How Do You Elevate Your Values Over Emotions


I was minding my own business one day after work, making dinner. Admittedly, I was slightly zoned-out when my son walked by casually mentioning that he hit my car with his bike and "may have scratched it."

Um. What?

I called him back and asked for more details (there weren't many) and then asked him to show me the damage.

Sure enough, there was an 8 inch gouge on the back right side of the car at the precise level of his bike handles.


It was not a pretty sight.  In fact, it screamed money, time away from work, and all-around "hassle."

At that moment, I had a choice to make.  For me there were really only two ways to respond to this information.

I could either A: (over) communicate my frustration, disappointment and considerable irritation or B: accept the reality that what happened was an accident and stuff my emotions.

If I choose option A, I feel a short-term satisfaction in releasing my emotions.  However, by doing so, I unwittingly undermine a couple of values - honesty and communication.

“You can tell us anything” and “We talk about things” are consistent refrains around our house.

If I choose option B, I have the chance to reinforce my values.  I can say, “thanks for talking to me (communication)” and “I’m glad you took responsibility for your actions (honesty)."

Which option did I choose?

I'll let you guess, but it doesn't really matter.  What's significant is all of us face similar decisions with our children.  We all get frustrated and can let our emotions rule our responses.

As I wrote yesterday, the goal is to ELEVATE OUR VALUES OVER OUR EMOTIONS.  The best way to do this is to prepare for these inevitable challenges and create a strategy IN ADVANCE.

Surprise is the enemy of calm emotions, so get rid of the idea that your child “would never______” (fill in the blank) and start to imagine how you will handle any manner of trial that comes your way.

As promised, here’s some thoughts to get your mind working.

How will you respond when…

As a Toddlers/Preschool your child

  • Bites a child
  • Hits
  • Screams
  • Throws a fit
  • Takes a toy from another child (STEALS!)?

Or what if your Elementary school kid

  • Lies about school work
  • Is disruptive in class
  • Fights with other kids
  • Starts swearing
  • Asks about sex?

And how will you confront your High School student who may

  • Use drugs
  • Drink
  • Views online pornography
  • Tell you they hate you
  • Be promiscuous
  • Shut down or shut you out?

What are the decisions you'll need to make when these things happen?

What emotional pitfalls do you need to avoid and which values do you need to promote?

These questions requires some serious thought, but the answers are vital to figuring out your strategy.

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