Friday, 15 January 2016

Parenting and Language - an REBT perspective

'I cant stand it when people don't acknowledge me when I wave to them!' says the TV celebrity. 'I can't stand rude people. They make me so angry!' So exclaimed well known celebrity X on a popular morning show. What is she declaring when speaking so? What shoulds oughts and musts are implied in this statement?

Rational Emotive Behaviour Counsellors would, as Albert Ellis put it, 'cherchez le shoulds' in the counselling discourse. What 'thinking rules' underscore her tendency to judge another's personhood (they are rude!) based on a particular disagreeable act? Why would such a behaviour be so disagreeable that she couldn't stand it? What is making her so mad?

Irrational Perspective

1. A person can act badly but does this make her totally bad? If someone acts rudely is she a rude person? Thinking rule: She should acknowledge me! (No she shouldn't)

2. Why can't she tolerate what is a relatively minor inconvenience. Surely there are many more problems that carry more weight in terms of their 'badness.' Thinking rule: 'I can't stand it when I don't get my way. I should get what I want. This is a catastrophe!' (no you shouldn't and no it's not)

3. How does another person make her mad? Wouldn't annoyed be more commensurate with what could be perceived as a minor inconvenience? Thinking rule: 'Other people are responsible for how I feel and behave. They should not do what they they do!' (no they're not and why shouldn't they?)

Rational Perspective

1. People can not notice me for a myriad of reasons either intentionally or unintentionally. They are not bad people for doing this. Thinking rule: 'I prefer people to act courteously and respectfully but they don't have to.'

2. In the scheme of things someone not waving back to me is at worst a minor inconvenience and hardly catastrophic. Thinking rule: 'I can stand (tolerate) small problems. There are worse things that can happen.'

3. How I feel about situations is linked to how I think about them. Thinking rule: 'I can control how I feel and act if I think about my thinking.'

These two perspectives on the same event will generate two different behavioural and emotional responses, one healthy and the other unhealthy and self defeating.

These principles are taught to students from early childhood onwards in a growing number of schools in South Australia through Rational Emotive Behaviour Education.

Celebrity X above will be teaching her children that:

1. People who do bad are bad.
2. When people don't behave as they should do it can't be tolerated and is a big deal. (This shouldn't happen)
3. Other people and events are responsible for how they feel and behave. (they're not getting what they should get and it's a catastrophe when they don't)

Children learn form their significant other mentors. They are always watching us closely!

Powerful parenting

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