Reality Check: To Temper a Temper

Aren’t words fun? The phrase “to temper” means to calm, whereas a person who “has a temper” is angry. If you have a temper, do you have a choice? Or is your temper out of your control?

Josie has a temper and she knows it. She’s described as “fiery” and she doesn’t see that as a bad thing. After all, no one messes with her! Everyone knows exactly where she stands, and if other people can’t get along with her, well, that’s their problem.

Then Josie was blessed with a daughter—the sweetest, most innocent little creature that was ever placed on this earth. Josie’s number one mission became to raise her daughter to be everything she could possibly be.  All went well.

Time passed, and her precious bundle of joy began learning to talk. But wait! What are those terrible words coming out of her sweet little mouth? Josie couldn’t believe her ears! Where had her baby learned that?

Oh, dear. Then she recognized them…they were from her own mouth.  Just last evening when she had dropped a dish, Josie had shrieked, “&#^%@*!” This morning, when her little sweetheart dropped her doll, what did she say? You guessed it: the same “&#^%@*!”

Those angry words didn’t sound very attractive when coming from the mouth of her little girl. Further, the level of sound and fury that Josie had displayed last evening over a trivial mishap began to look out of proportion even to her, now that she saw the same display by her baby.

Josie wants only the best for her daughter. She knows her little girl will be at a tremendous disadvantage if she can’t control her potty mouth. Whether it’s in her kindergarten sandbox or her first job interview, Josie wants her daughter to be able to control her language.

Even more troubling, Josie got a good look at the blast of emotion that goes with her outbursts. It always seemed fine to Josie when it was her own anger, but now that her little girl is mirroring the behaviour, that display doesn’t look helpful at all.

Josie recognizes that she needs to make a change, if not for herself, then for the sake of her daughter. Her new identity—that of a protective mom—is more important than the persona of the fiery teenager she used to be. She’s ready to make a change.

However, this behaviour has been part of her whole life, and changing is not so easy.

To combat this habit, Josie could come up with an alternative behaviour to use when she gets the urge to swear. For example, she could choose to take three deep breaths to delay the outburst, or she could deliberately choose to speak in a very low, calm voice.

The choice of replacement activity is up to Josie. The key is to decide, “I can change this habit. I’ve already started to change this habit. If I slip up, I will not give up; I will carry on.”

Do you think Josie’s temper is an unchangeable reflection of her? Or can she change?

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