Why We Need To Stop Saying “Calm Down” and “You’re Crazy”

Most people don’t enjoy witnessing someone they know experiencing a distressing moment or being agitated. What usually happens when most of us see a person in that state? We have the urge to tell that person to remain calm, to encourage them to be calm, and so often, to demand that they be calm.

When people hear the order to “calm down”–no adult ever responds with relief, “Phew, thank god you told me to calm down, otherwise I’d be flipping out.”

We will also never hear anybody say, “Wait! That’s an option?! I can be calm?”

So why do we insist on requesting or demanding calm?

In times of distress, we also have the habit of shutting someone up (especially if we’re being held accountable in some way) and making them question their motives by telling them that they’re “crazy.”

A few months ago, I wrote a column entitled, “A Message To Women From A Man: You Are Not Crazy,” in which I re-coined the term, “gaslighting.” In the piece, I explained how phrases like “You’re so sensitive. You’re so emotional. You’re defensive. You’re overreacting. Calm down. Relax. Stop freaking out,” are often used to deflect a confrontation–where these statements are used as the weapons of emotional manipulation.

Most of you are reading this column because “A Message to Women From a Man” went viral on a level I could never have imagined. That particular column was ranked 22nd on the list of most-shared articles on all of Facebook in 2011.

I know that particular column struck a nerve because I was identifying a behavior, subtle emotional manipulation, that constantly frustrates many women.

And there are two phrases from that viral column that I want to further explore as I think they need to be put to bed: “calm down,” especially when used as a demand or order, and “you’re crazy,” especially when used as a insult.

I have no intention of dictating how people should speak and express themselves, but these two statements are not only completely unhelpful to their recipients, but the force of “calm down” and crazy” are also incredibly damaging, over time, to the people who hear them.

Both men and women are subject to and wielders of these two phrases, but I mainly write about and for women. So while acknowledging this reality, I am focusing on how “calm down” and “crazy” make women feel. And because we live in a culture that attempts to control their voices, I am also looking at how women bare the brunt of these statements.

These two phrases universally create a visceral reaction in all the women I know, a reaction of frustration, sadness and anger built up from previous experiences.

I want to first look at the problems with being told to “calm down.” Now, there are two different ways this phrase is generally used: when someone is distressed, it can be used by an outside person in an attempt to help the distressed person feel less agitated. “Calm down” can also be used as a demand or order, in a patronizing way, when the speaker doesn’t like the way someone is reacting to something.

In the first instance, when we are attempting to be helpful, simply telling someone to “calm down” generally doesn’t work–it really doesn’t. And while some people can indeed point to instances where it does seems to work, just because someone appears to be calmer, doesn’t mean that we have done anything to help them internally.

Words aren’t nearly as powerful as actions. When someone is distressed and we have the good intention of trying to help, we should help by finding a solution to the point of stress–this strategy would more effectively help the distressed person to find calm. Demanding someone to be calm often elicits exactly the opposite reaction.

We can’t force and request anybody to change their state of mind–this is impossible. If it were that easy, we would all do it to each other, all day long, in attempts to find more clarity.

Some of the men I interviewed for this piece were confused about why the phrase “calm down” is seen by women as so offensive. It boils down to this: by demanding calm (even in a respectful tone), you are saying that the person has no reason to be upset or agitated, that what they’re saying and what they’re feeling isn’t logical.

And when we look at the statement in the context of gaslighting, “calm down” is pushed to an even more sinister level. Telling someone to “calm down” when you are to blame for their frustration is not only unhelpful, it’s an attempt to quiet them when you are being held accountable.

For women, the order to “calm down” is about an attempt to control their emotions, feelings, voice. When someone demands that a women in distress, frustration, or anger find a moment of internal peace, that person is attempting to diminish or extinguish frustration/anger which our culture only sees as emotions that only men are worthy of feeling and having.

While plenty of women will tell men to “calm down,” it is not seen as something that is done for the common good, like when a man tells a woman to calm down, i.e. let’s keep the hysterical crazy lady quiet.

In fact, our culture tends to see the woman who tells a man to “calm down” as a hysterical crazy lady. Male agitation, rage is understood as a condition that needs to be appeased, with the problems that started that rage needing to be resolved by everyone involved. Our culture makes it so that men don’t deserve to be shut down with a flippant order to “calm down.”

However, a woman’s frustration, anger, distress is seen as mere inconvenience, something that needs to be shut down through the outside world insisting that she change (sometimes immediately) her emotional response, instead of helping her find the root of the problem.

But “calm down” is not the only statement that derides a woman’s state of mind and her voice. When we refer to women and their actions as “crazy,” we are also making a similar move in undermining how women behave, think, and speak.

I can go on and on qualifying different ways of using “crazy.” And when I refer to the word “crazy,” I don’t mean the situation where someone says “you’re so crazy!” with a laugh or a smile in moment of gentle kidding with a friend. I’m talking about the context of someone who uses “crazy” against another person as an insult, as in, “you’re crazy” (feel free to insert expletives like “you’re bat-shit crazy”).

The term “crazy” is so casually thrown around these days. We use it jokingly, we use it as an insult, it has almost lost its meaning for those who use it, but I have found that it has rarely lost its meaning for the recipients of this word.

We condition boys and men to avoid their emotions, to see emotional discussions with accountability and feelings as incredibly uncomfortable and inconvenient. What can immediately end those discussions? Call the woman who is asking a man to sort out and confront his accountability and feelings, a nut job. Make her question her own sanity and guess what? It works.

When “crazy” is inserted in the context of gaslighting (as I define it), the word can literally cause the recipient–usually a woman–to question her motives, her thoughts, how she processes things.

Unlike the statement “calm down,” there is no nice way to tell someone they’re crazy. When used as an insult, the damage lingers because the idea of “crazy’ taps into the power of gaslighting. The power of gaslighting is so incredible because the victim is usually self aware, and anyone who is self aware will constantly check and question themselves in a healthy manner.

This doesn’t mean insecurity is not a main player, but if someone is truly are crazy, calling them crazy is not going to stop them from thinking twice about their behavior. And because victims of gaslighting usually aren’t crazy, they will question and examine what is said and done to them.

We all say things we regret in moments of anger or passion, but the word “crazy” has a long emotional impact, a long shelf-life. It digs deep.

When someone is addressing a frustration and we throw out the response: “you’re crazy,” on the most basic level, it’s just hurtful. But tap into the power of our cultural conditioning and the word attacks a woman’s everyday plight: the struggle of constantly being bombarded with the idea that they are irrational and illogical.

We’re constantly telling women that they are crazy (think about reality shows like The Real Housewives series and The Bachelor), while simultaneously reminding them that they should never appear “crazy” (feel free replace crazy with needy) if they want to be married and happy.

Telling a woman they’re crazy is also telling her that what she has to say lacks value–something that women have to hear and face everyday in our culture. Because we generally don’t value what a woman has to say as much as we do a man, to further inject the idea of women as crazy is only driving the screwed up cultural message home. For many women, when they hear “you’re crazy,” many emotions bubble to the surface, creating a great deal of self-questioning, ironically when the issue they are accused of being “crazy” about may be perfectly valid.

Eliminating “calm down” and “crazy” from our social vocabulary doesn’t mean that we can’t hold people accountable or try to encourage them to deal with their emotions in a healthy, positive way. It just means we can’t be assholes when we’re trying to help them.

But for so many women, their emotions are consistently checked by men, in an attempt to keep them quiet, because it’s so much easier to live a life where we demand that the emotions of those around us conform to what makes us comfortable, where accountability only exists when we want it to.
——

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30 Responses to “Why We Need To Stop Saying “Calm Down” and “You’re Crazy””

  1. Avatar of henareho
    henareho May 4, 2013 at 6:21 pm #

    I disagree with this article as it seems to take the opinion that men telling women to calm down or they are crazy is a form of emotional manipulation and abuse, and yet a woman needs to tell a man to calm down is a crazy lady?

    Re: the second point, I’ve been in instances where a woman will try and ease the tension in a situation she will advise her partner to calm down, time time out / relax / take a break especially if there is a confrontation with a third party. Are you saying the male will think his partner is being helpful or that she is a crazy lady? I doubt its the latter.

    With regards to the first, it probably is a form of control although youve taken the negative side of it. Calling anyone crazy is a form of abuse and manipulation and should not be tolerated. However, especially in a situation which is getting argumentative or abisive, ASKING someone to calm down, use a lower tone, or take a minute should all be seen as reasonable requests. DEMANDING someone calm down is different and is seen as a form of control of which a person will respond negatively towards.

    Again, this is all about context and trying to determine what will work in the best situation, but there is no blanket approach here. Responses will differ depending on the relationship the male has with the female (eg friend, co-worker, boss, spouse, child) and the outcome they are seeking.

    But your article takes a broad, blanket-type approach which I feel is misinformed.

  2. Avatar of franf
    franf November 30, 2012 at 2:28 am #

    Thank you for your insightful article.

  3. Avatar of CouchPotatoCop
    CouchPotatoCop May 10, 2012 at 6:56 am #

    As a retired police officer it was my experience that the term ‘calm down’ never works. Ever. I found that out early. In fact, it tends to have the opposite effect. The problem with the phrase it that it dismisses the point of view of the person it’s directed to, just adding to their frustration. In the history of humankind, no one has ever been told to “calm down” and turned off their emotions like a light-switch.
    When the situation allowed, I would look the person in the eye and say something to the effect “I hear you and we’ll get to the bottom of this”. Barring a traumatic experience, this always worked.
    Granted, the theme here is interpersonal relationships, but it’s the same principal. The reason most couples fight is not because of what’s going on now, but it’s a manifestation of a past unresolved tension. When this happens, the term “calm down” should be avoided.

    • Avatar of elfen_berzerker
      elfen_berzerker May 10, 2012 at 10:21 pm #

      As a mental health worker we’re trained that until the person starts to calm down we’re wasting our time trying to talk to them. That usually involves telling them that until they calm down there’s nothing we can do for them. It’s basically the same as telling someone to calm down and it works 100% of the time.

      Dismissive or not the only thing that has ever come of trying to talk to a heightened person is the situation gets worse.

    • Avatar of franf
      franf November 30, 2012 at 2:25 am #

      I’ve several cousins and nephews that are police officers … I can see how what you’ve done made your job a whole lot easier. ;D

  4. Avatar of paddlehappy
    paddlehappy May 3, 2012 at 1:29 pm #

    add:
    “don’t be silly”
    “you’re being irrational”

    and you can include physical behaviour such as, turning one’s eyes away from a woman who is speaking or just plain dismissing it with a “yeah” and walking away.

    These are all indications of the listener’s discomfort on the topic and emotions. Unfortunately women are not programmed to not take this offensively at birth. Wouldn’t that be nice?

    I have spent the last 4 years trying to put my finger on this in my own household and finally have read enough, lived enough, and gotten to know myself and human behaviour enough to articulate how I feel about it. This behaviour can be so damaging to a woman’s sense of self worth, as it did to me. But not anymore. It still happens and instead of allowing it to enrage me I smile and feel sad for the man who does it…. because it tells me not that there is something wrong with me….. that behaviour and reaction has everything to do with him, and not me. Not my problem…. and if it keeps up, I unfortunately will either stop expressing how I feel about things to that person, and not include them in my life, or I will chose to ignore it….. I can’t see ignoring it as a real option. And what does make me angry is the women in my life who make excuses for the behaviour and place an expectation on me that I just have to live with it because it is what it is.

  5. Avatar of sadie
    sadie March 28, 2012 at 9:10 am #

    I think, in the context of relationships, this is an issue of sexism “going both ways.” A woman gets angry with her male partner and expresses that anger. It’s phrased nicely or it isn’t; it usually doesn’t matter much. He is overwhelmed. In his head, Male Shame is screaming, “I have failed. She finds me unworthy.” The whole Shame-Avoidance mechanism swings into action; he goes to Threat Level Red. He starts to think, “Who is this bitch to make me feel so ashamed? I hate her! She’s crazy!” And then it’s a matter of honor that he must make her see she had no right to be angry (or disappointed, or even sad). Maybe he becomes hyper-logical and says, “You have no right to be angry with me, for reasons X, Y, and Z.” Maybe he says “You’re crazy!” Maybe he says, “Why are you attacking me?” or “Why are you so upset?” The point is, we’re at Threat Level Red and there’s no going back from there.

    If we didn’t teach men from birth that they need to avoid the appearance of failure at any cost, it might be easier for them to occasionally say to an angry woman, “I see that this is issue important to you. It’s important to me that you’re upset, so let’s talk about it.” And from there, a couple can sort the justified anger from the unjustified, the good intentions from the bad behavior, whatever the issue is. But men have to be able to stay out of Threat Level Red. The man has to say “no” to the cascade of shame that is unleashed when he is criticized, whether it’s coming out of the woman’s mouth or (more often) out of his previous experience. And the thing is, this is REALLY HARD for men, because it goes against a whole life of being conditioned that even the tiniest failures are wholly unacceptable (staying on that white horse, even if you die on it). It takes work and support to overcome that.

    In other words, for women to have the right to be angry, men have to have the right to fail without being rejected. I’m not saying women have to give it to them first. It’s just one of those “two locked coffins, each holding the key to the other” as Isak Dinesen put it.

  6. Avatar of schmelia
    schmelia March 9, 2012 at 5:04 am #

    “I don’t know why you’re making this into such a big deal.”
    “Is it that time of the month?”

    When a person responds with phrases like that, it doesn’t matter what I say – even the most logical explanations won’t do – I’m shut down in a sentence. It’s truly awful to feel so powerless.

  7. Avatar of JustSeeking
    JustSeeking February 23, 2012 at 9:15 am #

    You do good work, Yashar. Keep it up. Being self-aware is important, but being culturally aware is just as necessary. I have heard it said that cultures are worked to the advantage of the male. Being female, I wholeheartedly agree. When you say this to a man, however, many of them get very offended unless they have figured that out for themselves. Those men who know it will often use it to further advantage, because they also have learned how it is done and will consciously focus themselves in that regard. Others are like yourself. They see it, they know they fall prey to it, they do their best to get through while working against a very powerful current of focused expectation. Whether I found out about you when your “You’re Not Crazy” article went viral or not, I am glad to at last find a place somewhere where real, honest, thoughtful dialog about stuff like this is taking place, and that it is a public forum. It doesn’t change my life at home, but it does cause some of the aching to lessen, because it reminds me that I really and truly am not the only person on the planet who takes the time to think about this kind of stuff. It also makes it clear that what I have been telling people for years is not just my imagination, as most people (male or female) would have me believe.

  8. Avatar of Bludogdancing
    Bludogdancing February 23, 2012 at 2:47 am #

    Yashar, I’m thinking you are entirely on the money with this post. Maybe the topic could have been more digestible in two or three posts but the guts of it are pure.
    When one person tells another person to “calm down” it sends many different messages, all of them bad.
    “You are being inappropriate”
    “Your interpretation, and reaction, is extreme”
    “I demand you join my reality, I reject yours.”
    “I’m not shifting, you make all the movement.”
    “Your emotions are unimportant, irrelevant or immature.”
    “I am not listening to you.”
    “You are wrong.”
    “I am the authority here.”
    “I am uncomfortable, stop making me uncomfortable.”
    “What I am feeling is more valid than what you are feeling.”
    And the list could go on.
    “Calm Down” is amazing shorthand for a thoroughly vile bunch of putdowns and dismissals.
    No question, if you’ve ever bothered to listen to women’s experience of being in Western culture, that would be listening with your heart, not your predetermined worldview, that “calm down” is a weapon aimed at women by men or at women by other women wanting to exercise the same power men use the term for.
    I don’t recall any time in my life (I’m a bloke.) that I’ve ever been told “calm down” and I am from time to time pretty emotionally expressive and intense.
    Further, because I’ve grown up feeling unconsciously “entitled” if someone DID say “calm down” when I was feeling powerful emotions in response to a situation I would automatically assume there was something wrong with THEM, not me. That’s not because I’m so well adjusted, it’s because our culture tells me I’m right because I’m male and I can trust myself because I am male. It’s nonsense of course, but it’s powerful nonsense.

    Peace.
    Bludog.

    • Avatar of JustSeeking
      JustSeeking February 23, 2012 at 9:04 am #

      That was incredibly well said. I once read a book by Neale Donald Walsh, (Communion with God, I believe it was) wherein he said he knew a woman who called him a recovering man. Your comments are honest, aware, and to the point, and it’s refreshing.

  9. Avatar of pree
    pree February 22, 2012 at 9:52 pm #

    Adding more to it, “calm down” and “you’re crazy” phrases are the favorite words of people called psychopaths whose favorite work is to demean someone to a level where he loses his confidence and become frustrated and confused about his own personality. It is method to control someone’s mind; obviously when used by some man as a tool of manipulation a confused woman will start doubting her own logic and judgments and become unrealistic in result can start obeying other person’s commands unknowingly. A healthy minded man will never use this method because he does not need to control someone up to that level. Healthy minded person knows that relationship in general is all about sharing and caring of each other’s point of view and not emotional manipulation to get only his work done by hook or by crook in his way. When we are in any kind of relationship we have two or more views of one thing because god has given unique mind to everyone to think and analyze about everything from his own point of view. Anybody who believes in healthy relationship will always give respect to other person’s point of view as he gives respect to his own point of view and to take the conversation to a mutual agreement level. Mutual agreement is acknowledging and giving respect to other person’s point of view by taking care of his genuine requirements during the process of making a decision of any kind. Balanced people don’t behave like this and do not follow anyone who advices them to do so. Women are very strong who face such comments “calm down” and “you are crazy” and still able to manage things in day to day life.

  10. Avatar of Maximus
    Maximus February 22, 2012 at 7:08 pm #

    I have seen this same behaviour in women. For example, I once had a female manager who would deliberately provoke me. Constant micromanaging really affected my creativity and she took every opportunity to reprimand me for any small reason. Once riled, she felt the need to make me feel like I had no legitimate reason to be upset.

    The hurtful part is that I have a long history of depression and anxiety and my manager knew about my medical history and she also knew that I control my anxiety with medication. Despite this knowledge, she took every opportunity to use this against me. She would say things like, “you’re just having a moment” or, “did you take your crazy pills yet?”

    Instead of addressing the problem, my manager’s comments made me second guess myself and dismissed my point of view. She continuously belittled me until my productivity took a dive and my emotional stability at work became compromised. The thought of having to go to work every day in that toxic environment reduced me to tears every morning. I was unable to stand up for myself and there was nobody to advocate on my behalf.

    Fortunately, I was assigned a new manager and my work life has greatly improved. I still feel resentful because I didn’t report her to human resources, but I am relieved to know that I never have to work with that woman again. What a horrible manager!

  11. Avatar of anon
    anon February 21, 2012 at 9:58 pm #

    Oh brother.

    “Some of the men I interviewed for this piece were confused about why the phrase “calm down” is seen by women as so offensive. It boils down to this: by demanding calm (even in a respectful tone), you are saying that the person has no reason to be upset or agitated, that what they’re saying and what they’re feeling isn’t logical.”

    …but what about when it isn’t logical and they don’t have any reason to be upset or agitated? This happens. Often. And it’s not gendered.

    “For women, the order to “calm down” is about an attempt to control their emotions, feelings, voice.” -> or maybe it’s an attempt to get them to control their own emotions and feelings and voice. One can’t deal with problems when one is not acting rationally.

    “In fact, our culture tends to see the woman who tells a man to “calm down” as a hysterical crazy lady. Male agitation, rage is understood as a condition that needs to be appeased, with the problems that started that rage needing to be resolved by everyone involved. Our culture makes it so that men don’t deserve to be shut down with a flippant order to “calm down.” -> Bullshit, men are told to calm down all the time.

    “But “calm down” is not the only statement that derides a woman’s state of mind and her voice. When we refer to women and their actions as “crazy,” we are also making a similar move in undermining how women behave, think, and speak.” -> yes, when someone talks to an individual, they’re talking about a whole gender (rolls eyes). I agree that people shouldn’t in general call each other crazy, because, if for no other reason, it’s insensitive to the mentally ill. But there are so many problems with this statement: first of all, “women” don’t “behave, think and speak” in any sort of way. There are many women who act in different ways. There are all sorts of epithets that are regularly spit at women, which need not be repeated here. Crazy isn’t actually gendered in a meaningful way, though.

    “We condition boys and men to avoid their emotions, to see emotional discussions with accountability and feelings as incredibly uncomfortable and inconvenient. What can immediately end those discussions? Call the woman who is asking a man to sort out and confront his accountability and feelings, a nut job. Make her question her own sanity and guess what? It works.” -> Or maybe it’s just men expecting women to act like men are expected to (though often don’t), like actually to deal with problems rather than engage in self-indulgent emotion. It’s not that men are any more likely to be able to control their emotions than women (they’re not), however, as I wrote above, men tell other men to “calm the fuck down” on a regular basis.

    “We’re constantly telling women that they are crazy (think about reality shows like The Real Housewives series and The Bachelor), while simultaneously reminding them that they should never appear “crazy” (feel free replace crazy with needy) if they want to be married and happy.” -> Guess what? Needy people (of any gender) ARE less attractive to the opposite gender. It’s not a gendered issue.

    “Telling a woman they’re crazy is also telling her that what she has to say lacks value–something that women have to hear and face everyday in our culture.” -> replace women with “poor people” or “service workers” or “single husbands” or “black people” or absolutely any identity group. This is not a real argument.

    “Eliminating “calm down” and “crazy” from our social vocabulary doesn’t mean that we can’t hold people accountable or try to encourage them to deal with their emotions in a healthy, positive way. It just means we can’t be assholes when we’re trying to help them.” –> Finally, you get to the real point: “Don’t be an asshole.” I agree. Saying “you’re acting crazy” is sort of an asshole thing to do. (Calm down, however, serves a function: one can’t be helped if they’re not at least somewhat calm). Could have saved us a bunch of time by just saying that rather than wrapping it in a series of oversimplifications, pseudo-intellectualism and neurosis-enabling stereotypes.

    • Avatar of Avalon
      Avalon February 25, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

      A sharp ‘Calm down’ or ‘Get a grip of yourself’ also serves to show the person flipping out that their current behavoiur will cut no ice with the person they are dealing with and a more logical approach deviod of emotional outburst is requird

    • Avatar of getty
      getty March 31, 2013 at 8:46 am #

      couldnt agree with Anon more. telling someone to call down isnt gendered! and yes, sometimes “calm down” is used in a condescending way to deflect unwanted criticism. but this article would have us believe that that is the only way it is used, and it isnt.
      I echo Anon’s words: what do you say when someone is behaving in an emotionally irresponsible way? sometimes “calm down” is the least one should say!
      I thought the example used in the article of Desperate Housewives and The Bachelor. those are TV shows! glamorized phony TV shows! of course the people on them are going to be over-dramatic, self-absorbed and crazy! needy people of any gender are not attractive!
      but my basic beef with the articles tone is that it doesnt take into account the “R word”: responsibility. people need to take responsibility for their words and actions. is not the implicit message of this article that women are somehow entitled to releasing a disproportionate amount of emotion (in times of conflict or whatever) and that because of that it’s not right to tell them to calm down because “thats the way women are”? a constructive discussion cannot happen when one person (men or women) is speaking and behaving out of raw emotion w/o rational thought. people are responsible for what they say!
      there are times when we have to listen patiently. but there are also times when we have to tell someone to calm down because their emotional intensity is unhelpful. that applies to men and women.

  12. Avatar of Qondra
    Qondra February 21, 2012 at 9:52 pm #

    Great article …if we made issues like this relevant to both females and males, my feeling is that it may go a lot further than making it a gender specific related phenomena! To my reasoning, the polarities of feminine and masculine exist within each of us, to greater and lesser degrees. For the most part though, throughout history, we’ve relegated ourselves within the confines of our own bodily designated gender. To continue this mentality is to merely continue the ignorance of which this article speaks out against, thus making it ironic in a sense, merely another expression of masculinizing our sense of self!

  13. Avatar of Ms.Gom
    Ms.Gom February 21, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

    I wonder how to handle this very thing with my 6 year old. I know when she’s screaming at me, she’s upset, and likely has every right to be upset. Yet I hate being screamed at. Often I tell her to calm down and stop yelling or try to put her in her room till she calms down enough to discuss the situation. I don’t want to squelch her self-expression or crush her passionate spirit, but I feel I have a right to not be subjected to screaming, as it totally shatters me.

    Well, I know parent/child relations aren’t your area of expertise, but I just thought I’d throw that out there, since that’s kind of where it starts, doesn’t it?

    • Avatar of kilthemoonlight
      kilthemoonlight February 22, 2012 at 9:06 pm #

      I don’t think many people like being screamed at and it can be more difficult by someone you care about, especially when you are not sure how to react. I don’t have much experience with dealing with young children. However, with adolescents, I find it best to let them calm down on their own and then discuss the issue or problem while mentioning their reaction. I believe that not much is going to get fixed within that moment that they are “flipping out”, but if you discuss her reaction briefly right after she has calmed down.. that may be helpful because if it’s discussed any time after that, it will be forgotten and she may not be sure what you’re referring to.

    • Avatar of Avalon
      Avalon February 25, 2012 at 5:51 pm #

      Excuse me Ms Gom ” likely has every right to be upset”. and ” don’t want to squelch her self-expression or crush her passionate spirit,”
      She is a child , you aer an adult. You are her parent not her best friend. Get a grip of your 6 year old. All kids push the boundaries. Its not self expression its bad behaviour. She like all children need to know whose boss. If all else fails a smack usually works.

      • Avatar of Mersci
        Mersci March 3, 2012 at 1:28 am #

        Avalon….
        even girls as young as six are tormented in the world we live in….and they have an even harder time in school learning about being a girl in this world when everything is taught from the male point of view as if women did not even exist or contribute anything worth knowing about…a smack from the mom is not going to help but make her feel more betrayed by her own gender, so showing her whose boss is just perpetuating the same system of male repression on her. Chances are something is going on with school/torment/sleep/diet/ pretty much in that order because its a vicious cycle of culturally ingrained deprivation aimed at making girls miserable with themselves and yes, as young as six they start picking up on it but they cannot express it at that age. Its like something palpable in the air that suffocates the joy out of life but you cannot quite put it into words…that is the world today. I am just thankful Yasar started this forum because it gives us a chance to put it out there, get it acknowledged, perhaps start a paradigm change.

    • Avatar of Mersci
      Mersci March 3, 2012 at 1:03 am #

      With kids, you start by saying I understand where your coming from…. followed by let me see if I have it straight ….your are feeling frustrated over x y and z. Give them time to reply and really listen to what they have to say… kneel down to their height, it helps them feel less overwhelmed. I see, I can understand how you would feel that way, I have feelings too, lets take a break and think about it…. take some time to your self, I need a break too, and if you want we can discuss this more once we have each sorted out our feelings about the subject. Cool down period 15 to 20 minutes, known as the time out, except do not say that’s what your giving them because naming it like that makes it sound like punishment when what your really trying to do is teach them to deal with their emotions in a positive way. This worked well with my son at that age, boys have melt downs too, not just girls!

    • Avatar of thealgonquinn
      thealgonquinn March 14, 2012 at 1:16 am #

      Read “how to talk so your kids will listen and listen so your kids will talk” Great book that has helped me deal with my kids and all people.

      Basically when she is screaming, acknowledge it! “Youre VERY upset by this” “You have big frustration right now” She will answer. If she isnt frustrated she will say no, “are you very confused?” name emotions until she says yes. Or say what you see, “I see someone who needs to vent” “I see a girl who is sad” “I see someone who may need some time with their emotions” This works with lots of people, my husband is sighing and easily disturbed, i say ” You’ve got heavy thoughts stewing around?” he says yes or no, then we converse, its a way to talk about emotions as if we are detectives. You as a mom want to know whats upsetting her, name the upset. “you’re very upset” but dont say it flatly, say it like you understand the depth of the upset. if my son is screaming i may match his volume on the “very” and widen my eyes so he knows im not dismissing his upset but understanding the intensity. depth of emotion is just as important as naming the emotion. naming our emotions is also helpful cause some people think there are only three. But there is a spectrum of frustration, confusion, restlessness that are rarely acknowledged in our culture. If she wants something that she cant have or isnt possible right now, give it to them in fantasy, like “you wish we could have ice cream all day every day!” again matching the intensity, but this time you can really use it as a distraction make it bigger and bigger: ice cream every day, icecream every meal, ice cream every minute, ice cream bath, icecream car, icecream stacked to the moon. Its ok to fantasize , it wont spoil her. Good luck!

  14. Avatar of yourspiritualtruth
    yourspiritualtruth February 21, 2012 at 1:45 pm #

    Let me add to “calm down” and “you’re crazy” the condescending, manipulative, disguised as concern comment, “I’m worried you might be depressed.” or “Have you considered Lexapro?” When our needs are not being met and we feel the natural response of resentment, and we continue to ask for our needs to be met, only to be ignored or worse yet, condemned for being crazy enough to ask for our needs to be met, the natural result is what I call “situational depression.” It is a state of “I give up….I have asked and it is obvious that my needs will never be met,” and we fall into lethargy and despair. This is not clinical depression, neither is it an emotional state worthy of medication. I remember reading something on Facebook that invited, “Before deciding you are clinically depressed, get rid of the assholes in your life and then see how you feel.” I wonder how much we would save in therapy and pharmaceuticals by following this simple guideline. And…this is not an experience unique to women….I have seen men accused of being depressed or needing medication by the asshole women in their lives too.

    Yashar, thank you for continuing to bring to light these unhealthy patterns of subtle emotional abuse. This is part of what we are being invited to change as we heal and evolve as a society in more loving and compassionate people.

    Lauri Lumby
    Authentic Freedom Ministries
    http://yourspiritualtruth.com

    • Avatar of JustSeeking
      JustSeeking February 23, 2012 at 8:49 am #

      How I would like to find a place where there are no assholes. In my experience, when you get rid of the assholes (to the degree that life will allow), and I assure you I have done so, you are basically left with no one, or much the same as no one. So I came to a point in my life where I realized that there are some assholes I like a lot, even love. Myself, for example. Still, I agree that I am continually being informed that I am making much ado about nothing with a consistent string of having needs that I am unable to meet by myself. I like what you write here, because I have been telling people for some 30 years now that if depression medications were going to do me any good, I would take them. But they don’t fill the needs that give rise to the terrible feelings in the first place, so why waste my money?

      • Avatar of Mersci
        Mersci March 3, 2012 at 7:18 am #

        JustSeeking,you’re 100% correct in not taking meds, cause once upon a time all that knowledge belonged to women herbalists and its was thieved from them by force, later patented and corporatized and then sold back to us as if we need anything but for the a-holes your talking about to just quit being a-holes, except they cannot because biology makes them want us and they take the story and twist it the other way around. Better yet, a perfect illustration of how they over step their boundaries…saw this some where on the web and chucked XX:XY, X=75%:Y=25%, now the irony is Y=25% shouldn’t be more than 50% of a population and to top it all off, get to make so much trouble.

  15. Avatar of diksha
    diksha February 21, 2012 at 1:00 pm #

    THANK YOU……..and that subtle manipulative behavior has a name…PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR….why men do it; their motives- only they know….
    There are plenty of books on these subtle manipulations and no not only American culture is plagued by it; many cultures (especially colonial) are plagued by it.

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