Outcomes Offered

■ Enhanced relationship skills

■ Better affect management

■ Rational thinking

■ Enjoyment ofyour successes

Raelene always seemed to be in trouble with her stepmother and, if she was in trouble with her stepmother, it also meant she would be in trouble with her dad. As soon as her dad got home, her stepmother would tell him all the things Raelene had done and hadn't done. To Raelene it seemed like her stepmother was screaming all the time—and screaming specifically at Raelene. She never did it to her own kids or when Raelene's dad was around.

Raelene couldn't bear it. She tried to keep to herself and out of her stepmother's way. At times she shut herself in her room but her stepmother would follow her in, still shouting at her to do things. She hated being shouted at and, trying to avoid it, she always ended up in trouble.

You see, there was something that Raelene didn't know. I guess she was young and sometimes you don't always know these things when you are young. All she knew was that when her stepmother screamed at her she would end up in trouble.

One day, when her stepmother had been screaming, Raelene went outside to get away from it all. Her pet dog, Crystal, came running up to her, tail wagging and tongue lolling out of her mouth, but Raelene had had enough and screamed at Crystal. Crystal dropped her tail between her legs and turned around to run off, looking for a place to hide—sort of like Raelene did when her stepmother screamed at her. Now, Raelene was a smart kid and she noticed what went on around her, even if she didn't always understand. She saw how Crystal had run away when she screamed. She thought how it was like what she did when her stepmother screamed at her.

At school, Raelene was studying science and had learned about experiments, so she decided to carry out an experiment with Crystal. She sat down on the ground, closer to Crystal's height where she could see Crystal's nose and eyes peeping around the corner of the house from where she'd retreated. Raelene began to talk to Crystal in a soft, gentle voice. This was the experiment. What she said and how she said it was different. Her words said Crystal was a naughty dog for running away and hiding. However, she said it in a gentle, loving, and caring voice. Soon Crystal popped out from around the corner and came back with her tail wagging, tongue lolling, and her whole body swaying with excitement.

Raelene continued her experiment. She now told Crystal what a good dog she was and how she was the only person who seemed to understand Raelene—but how she did it was in a loud, shouting voice. Crystal again dropped her tail between her legs and ran around the corner.

This is interesting, thought Raelene. She now used the same loving words in a gentle, loving voice. Again Crystal emerged, tail wagging, tongue lolling, and rested her head on Raelene's lap.

Now, Raelene was a good scientist. She continued to experiment with different things, making her speech fast as though she sounded excited or slow like she was sad, loud like she was angry or soft as if it was soothing. Crystal responded to the sound of her voice, or how she said something, rather than the actual words, or what she said. As I said, Raelene was smart. She began to wonder if this was how she was responding to her stepmother. Was she recoiling from the screaming, like Crystal, and not hearing the actual words her stepmother was saying? If so, no wonder she was always getting into trouble.

After that Raelene began to experiment when her stepmother was screaming. It wasn't always easy and she had to frequently remind herself: Listen to the words rather than the screaming; hear what she is saying rather than how she is saying it. In that way she could hear what was asked of her and do what was necessary to avoid getting into trouble so much. She wasn't so sure if she was imagining it, but she even thought her stepmother was screaming a little bit less.

Raelene was surprised to find herself thinking she could be a little thankful to her stepmother, as well as to Crystal, for teaching her about how important it was to match what we say with how we say it. I personally think a lot of the credit was due to Raelene, because she was the one who noticed Crystal's response and set up the experiment to test it out. She had learned that if she spoke loving words in a loving voice Crystal would always be there with her head on Raelene's lap, her tail wagging and a guarantee of loyal friendship.

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