“Sad, not mad.”

January 1st, 2012

by Katrina Brooke

My friend, Dr. Charles Fay, has been known to repeat this phrase: “Sad, not mad.”
What does that really mean? Does it mean anger is bad? Does it mean that we should never be angry? I hope not!
Is this little reminder a phrase to help us take better care of ourselves? I hope so!
Angry, wrathful responses send messages that the problem is ours. These reactions put the focus on us (and how upset or mean we are) instead of keeping the focus on the child’s unfortunate choice.
When we are sad for kids rather than mad at them, see how the message changes:
Instead of kids thinking “Upset adults are pretty scary” or “Upset adults are pretty entertaining,” might they conclude, “When they are sad for me, it is because I have a problem.”?
In the audio Keeping Cool When Parenting Heats Up, Charles teaches a variety of ways to stay calmer. Two of these include:
  • The ability to practice responding with empathy when kids misbehave.
  • The ability to delay (solutions, consequences, even conversations) until we’re all thinking again.
The bottom line: We take good care of ourselves. We don’t own kids’ problems by reacting with anger and wrath.
If we do well to show sadness and concern vs. anger and frustration, what will kids feel in the aftermath?
Sad, not mad.
Sad about the results they created…instead of mad at “mean, old us.”
Thanks for reading and thanks for sharing this fantastic journey with us. Our goal is to help as many families as possible.
Jedd Hafer
©2011 Love and Logic Institute, Inc.
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