Dammit.

We all have days when things just don’t seem to go our way.

Frustration builds and before you know it you find yourself cursing. Some call it cussing, some call it swearing but it all amounts to the same thing.

Bad words.

Sometimes you manage to restrain yourself and keep it in your head and other times it flies straight out of your mouth before you have time to stop it.

We all  have a favourite word, don’t even begin to deny it. Of course you do.  Go on, admit it you have it in your head right now!

My word is Dammit.  That one little word is my substitute for so many other offensive expletives.  Ordinarily, I would go with ‘Shit’ but given my professional designation and my public commitment to being a responsible parent, I have put that word on hold and have replaced it with ‘Dammit.’

I know, I know, there is nothing particularly charming about that word either, in fact for some  of you it may seem even more odious than my previously mentioned Shit. But still, I try hard, really hard to sub in Dammit for Shit whenever I can. Admittedly there are occasions where Dammit just doesn’t do it for me and my Shit flies out, but for the most part, I’m pretty darn good with Dammit.

The other day we passed a store and right there in the window we spotted a basket full of ‘Dammit Dolls.’  Yip you read that right, Dammit Dolls. I just couldn’t believe my eyes and I just had to go in and take a look.

There they were, a collection of dolls made for frustrated people just like me…and you.

My dear little Dammit DollThey are ugly little things. Not the sort of doll that you would want to cuddle. Not the usual smiling, cutesy dollies  we all buy for our children. No, these dolls are clearly not meant for children because the attached tag states,

NOT A TOY. Intended for adults only.

They must be serious because it is printed in BOLD writing. Even the ‘Made in China’ is in small print, so they must be wholly committed to getting you to read the NOT A TOY message before you read anything else.

I was intrigued and picked up one of these most unfortunate looking dolls for a closer inspection. My eyes were immediately drawn to a large label sewn on the front.

Go ahead, read it for yourself.

IMG_8346

Quite brilliant, don’t you think? A collection of dolls made for solely for the purpose of releasing adult’s frustration in an ‘appropriate’ manner. Ugly dolls specifically designed to be repeatedly slammed on a hard surface whilst the owner yells Dammit! Dammit! Dammit!

Genius.

But here’s my question…Why are these dolls only meant for use by adults? Please help me to understand this by taking a quick poll. Choose the answer that most appeals to you and then we’ll move on.

Here’s what I think.

Is it because they have dangerous parts that may be ingested by children young children?Possibly.

Is it because Dammit is a bad word? Probably.

Is it because if we give them a doll and allow them to smack it around aggressively we are advocating, possibly even promoting, violence?

I would put my money on the last one.

Parents are absolutely terrified that they might accidentally raise a serial killer. In an attempt to avoid this, we all try our damnedest (sorry couldn’t resist that one) to limit all opportunities for aggression fearing that if we condone it,  we may be inadvertently encouraging it and that my fellow parents, is too much for any well meaning parent to even contemplate.

But here’s my take on that. I think giving a child a Dammit Doll is helpful rather than hurtful and here’s why. Stick around now, at least hear me out.

We all have some frustration in us all of the time, it’s just the amount that is cycling around at any given moment that varies. Frustration builds whenever something is not working for us. It could be that your back is aching, it’s not working for you. It could be that you can’t get your car to start in the morning, it’s not working for you. It could be that your child will not go to sleep at bed time, again that’s something  not working for you. Our days are filled with things that are not working for us and as a result our frustration level goes up and up and up until…

Kaboom!KABOOM!!!

You blow up!  You are essentially a ticking time bomb, not because of any one thing in isolation, but because of a few things not working for you in succession.

You know what I’m talking about. You have a rough day at work, someone cuts you off on the road on the drive home, you walk in the door and you are barely in the door when your child starts whining for a cookie.

Kaboom, you explode.

It’s not because your child wants a cookie, really wants a cookie, pleeeaase can I have a cookie? It’s because you are frustrated and it has to come out somewhere, sometime. You couldn’t let it out at your boss, so you stifled it down and when you get home and you felt safe, it all burst forth, all over your child, or onto your partner or at your poor dog…or maybe if it is really not your day, at all three. You didn’t mean to snap,  you just did. It just happened. It had to happen, unless of course you walked into the house and spontaneously dissolved into tears, which is another way of rapidly draining frustration…but that is a conversation for another day.

Back to the Kaboom, why not instead let loose on a Dammit Doll?

Okay, not really, I’m just messing with you. This really isn’t about the Dammit Dolls at all. I am not promoting them, I’m not getting kickbacks from them, I didn’t even know that they even existed until yesterday. What I am really trying to do here is to open up a conversation, to ask you to consider allowing your children to feel their frustration and to make it okay and safe for them to let it out in their own home. It’s not safe to do it in public because of the blame and shame that follows, but it could be safe at home if you provide the context for it to happen.

I am not talking about letting your children trash the house, no, no, nothing like that. All I am suggesting is that you start by acknowledging that everyone gets frustrated, each and every day. You share the message, I get frustrated,  you get frustrated, we all get frustrated and it is completely natural to feel this way. Why not start mentioning that every now and again, start making room for them to feel it when it happens and let them know that it doesn’t make you a bad boy because you feel it, it doesn’t make you a good girl because you suppress it. It is a natural human emotion and we all have it, it’s what we do with it that matters.

Frustration isn’t personal, it just is.

As parents we can help our frustrated children by: Helping them to identify their feelings of frustration, allowing them to release their frustration in a safe way and when needed, allowing them the freedom to cry about what isn’t working for them, with you right by their side. These little things from you are what they need in order to let their frustration drain.  

Always remember that frustration doesn’t just disappear, it always has to go somewhere, it has to move through us. We put it where we can, where it presents the least threat to us, where it is appears safe to do so. Maybe it gets taken out on a younger sibling when you are not looking,  maybe it gets dumped on the kid next door,  maybe it gets kicked into the family dog, or without you even realizing it, children turn it inwards on themselves…and then the trouble really begins.

Dr Gordon Neufeld reminds us that what we do not express, we depress. I don’t want that for my children, I’d much rather that they bring their frustration to me, dump it all over me because I can help them get it all out, safely, within our relationship in which they know there is room for all of them, their good, their bad and their ugly.

So back to those pesky dolls. When we give children the message that Dammit Dolls are only for adults, are we saying that only adults feel frustrated,  and therefore it’s only okay for adults to let it all out? Maybe, in a round about, unintentional way, yes we are.

How about instead, we encourage them to come to us to release their frustration, let us be the ones who help them through it. By encouraging our children to take up a relationship with all of their feelings we’ll be helping them to truly grow up and if they have a parent who can do that for them, they’ll never need to rely on a Dammit Doll….

However…that been said…

I love what Dammit Dolls stand for! They should be for everyone because no matter your age we all have frustration and they give us permission to let it all out without hurting another. They acknowledge the existence of frustration and make it okay to beat the ‘dammit’ out of it. The word you use doesn’t have to be Dammit, it can be anything you want it to be. The object you beat senseless doesn’t have to be a doll, any inanimate object will do just fine. It’s not about the thing, it’s about what it represents and I’m all over that.

Just so you know, I now have my very own Dammit Doll…and call me irresponsible … but…anyone want to guess what my daughter is getting for her tenth birthday present next week?

© True Growth Parenting,2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to  True Growth Parenting with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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insight and inspiration for caring hearts
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8 Responses to Dammit.

  1. Love it! Right now we use a “calm down jar”, but slamming sounds like such a better stress reliever than sitting still watching glitter settle …

    • Oh my, yes…the calm down jar and watching the glitter settle…it makes me smile because it sounds exactly like something I would have gone for in the early days with my girls. There are many different versions of the same idea and the theory of it all sounds wonderful but when you really think about it, it doesn’t make much sense when you are in the heat of the moment, in the eye of the tantrum. A child full of frustration needs to let it all out, asking them to calm down and focus on the sparkly bits might be a temporary distraction but it won’t drain their frustration. That will pop up again later…and you’ll have to deal with it all over again. Gotta love parents though, we are a creative bunch indeed!
      Your comment is much appreciated 🙂

  2. In the needed moments, I remind my boy to replace the frustration (actually, a physiological gesture of pride) with gratitude. For aLL his blessings.

    • Yes indeed, gratitude is a value that we hold high in our family too. Because gratitude is an emotion it needs to be expressed in order to be felt. The same is true with frustration, it is an emotion that needs to be expressed in order to be felt. Research shows that what we do not express we depress and that makes us sick. Frustration is just as valid as gratitude, it is just a lot messier to deal with.

      As a parent I yearn to give my children the invitation to express all of their emotions, not only the pleasant ones. When we make room for all of our emotions rather than denying, suppressing or replacing them, we provide the conditions needed to become fully human because we acknowledge that all parts of us make up our whole. I always try and welcome the good, the bad and the ugly in others and in myself…because all of these exist within us, and that is what makes us human. I say ‘try’ because it isn’t always easy!

      Thank you for your comment, it is much appreciated.

      • I, actually, appreciate your position, and have encouraged my son to verbalize his grievances. Sometimes he’ll cry, “You broke my heart.” It is absolutely healthy. The liver, in fact, literally stores grief and anger. Fascinating. That is why people get sick from stress and anger. Which makes the way we express our issues as important as the expression.

      • Ahhhh music to my ears, a child who can actually verbalise that they have broken heart has a very soft heart indeed, and it is something to be treasured. Too many children defend against their feelings in an attempt to avoid the discomfort caused by their sadness and they get stuck there. Stuckness is what prevents us from truly growing up.

        Your son has hit the jackpot by having a mother who understands this and sees his ‘broken heartedness’ as healthy. Too many parents avoid upset without fully realising the cost. Dr Brene Brown reminds us that in order to live wholeheartedly we have to risk being broken hearted. Hard to hear but so very true.

        Looking forward to following you from here on, I like the way you think!

      • Oh, what amazing feedback. I need to crash right now…will be back! Thank you for your time and the thoughtful exchange. Diana

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