rouse |raʊz|

verb [ with obj. ]

2 make angry or excited: the crowds were roused to fever pitch by the drama of the race.

  • give rise to (an emotion or feeling): his evasiveness roused my curiosity.

Yesterday I let our dog Ranger off the lead in the dog park for a sniff. He has been seriously restricted for 3 months now because he tore a ligament in his back left leg.

Five minutes into his sniffing he started chasing another dog around in a circle and then across a little creek. I heard a high pitch yelp and looked around to see Ranger sprawled on the grass with his legs buckled under him.

What on earth has this got to do with (not) rousing on your kids? Well I’m glad you asked…

I told Jack, our 13-year old son what happened when he came home from school and his instant reaction was devastation. Within seconds he stifled his immense hurt and started yelling at the dog telling him how ‘stupid’ he was to jump across the creek and hurt his other leg. When I suggested he was upset because he loved the dog and that it wasn’t the dog’s fault he turned on me and started yelling that it was my fault and that I shouldn’t have let him off the lead.

I calmly explained that I had already berated myself for an hour and then cried about it for another 30 to 40 minutes. I also told him that I had made an appointment at the vet and that I was sorry and upset that Ranger was hurt too. Jack apologised and let me give him a cuddle.

Isn’t it weird how many of us (yes I do it too!) instantly react with anger when we are upset that someone is hurt or could have been hurt? Interesting that ‘rouse’ actually means to ‘make angry’ because that is exactly what happens when we are angry at others, we make them angry and defensive or we make them feel even more guilty and upset.

When you’ve done something wrong would you like:

  1. Someone to hold you, love you and empathise with your feelings or
  2. Someone to rouse on you?

In a Kindergarten class I taught the other day I went for option A! There was an incident with a little girl who accidently hurt another boy she was ‘showing off’ to! Let’s call these children Angel and Peter!

I’m not sure of the sequence of events but Angel was jumping around, making silly faces and noises and bumped into Peter who fell face first onto a wooden bench. I looked up and saw absolute terror in Angel’s eyes. Peter was crying on the ground with his face down.

I immediately grabbed Angel’s hand and told her it was an accident and rested my other hand on Peter’s back. Several children were crowding around asking Peter if he was okay. I invited one of the children to rest their hand on his back with mine and to give Peter a minute to recover. I calmly asked Peter if he was bleeding and he said in between sobs, “I don’t think so.”

A few moments later Peter was able to put his head up and we saw that he had a fat bottom lip and luckily – it wasn’t bleeding. I didn’t let go of Angel’s hand because she appeared more upset than Peter.

With Peter under one arm and Angel’s hand in mine we went on an adventure to the grown ups bathroom so Peter could see his swollen lip in the mirror.

When Peter said he was okay I helped Angel apologise. She was very sincere, gave him a gentle cuddle and asked if he wanted to play again. He said ‘Yes’! I didn’t lecture Angel about ‘not showing off’ instead I said, “Be safe!”

Now if those two kids were my own, I may have automatically roused on Angel and isolated her because I was scared and upset that Peter had hurt himself.

Logically when we stop and think about it we can see that rousing on kids is just an instant reaction based on fear. It is Shady and it happens automatically because we are scared. Our anger immediately jumps in to cover up our fear and sadness.

So how do we not rouse on our kids?

Let’s go back to the Ranger story…

When my husband, Jeremy walked in yesterday afternoon he wondered why the dog didn’t get up and greet him at the door. “What’s happened?” he asked.

I stayed where I was and answered, “I let the dog off the lead in the dog park and he chased another dog across the creek and landed on his other leg. It is really hurt.

He said, “I can’t do this” and turned around and walked back out the front. Same as Jack, instant devastation!

A few minutes later he came in and before he could speak I said, “I already feel really bad about it and I’ve already had a massive cry. Please don’t be angry with me because it won’t help the dog. I need a cuddle not a lecture.”

He walked over and gave me a cuddle!

A few hours later after our Friday night movie when the dog couldn’t walk outside by himself for a wee Jeremy started. “Why did you let the dog off the lead? You know he isn’t supposed to run or jump or play with other dogs?”

I was about to get roused on!

I wasn’t up for it so I suggested he go have cry to let out his feelings instead of taking them out on me. That didn’t go down so well and we both ended up in a Shady argument!

So how do you not rouse on your kids?

We rouse on our kids and loved ones because we love them! We are scared, sad and angry about something and our instant reaction is attack. To stop ourselves doing this we need to firstly be aware or ‘mindful’ of this automatic response.

Secondly we need to go away and process our own thoughts and feel our own feelings. When we do this we release the pressure inside us. If we try to repress our thoughts and feelings then they boil and bubble inside us waiting for the next opportunity to erupt and spew out all over the people we love.

Obviously in the heat of the moment it is hard take time out to process it yourself! It is often not realistic to say to your child or loved one’s, “Hang on for 30 minutes, I just need to take a Pit Stop and process my thoughts and feel my feelings before I deal with this situation, wait there!”

So instead if you can get yourself ‘mindful’, ‘aware’ or ‘conscious’ of your thoughts, feelings and actions then take a moment to ask Sparky, “What now?” as in “What do I say and do in this situation?” Then say and do what Sparky says.

If you stuff up and get carried away with an automatic Shady response, accept that you are human! Forgive yourself, apologise and explain to your kids or loved ones that you were scared and upset. As soon as you get the opportunity go and process your thoughts (listen to everything Shady is saying in your head) and express your feelings so you can handle the aftermath in a loving way!

You can change your Shady habit of reacting from fear!

When we model this as parents our kids learn to do the same!

Good luck! Gotta go … we have an appointment at the vet!

Love Kathy