How and when to use your inner mama bear

Mothers are fierce protectors and defenders. Learn how to confront without collapsing. When your child is in danger, when you need to be the mother bear, how do you protect and defend without breaking down in tears and lashing out emotionally.

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  • There is nothing more frightening in nature than a mother bear, if you come between her and her cubs. Just like nature, usually there is nothing more frightening than a mother who feels her children are threatened.

  • Once Shannon felt the need to defend her children. She had to get physically between an adult who was coming dangerously close to her children and call the police for help. Concerned that witnessing the event had traumatized her children, she contacted a friend, who was also a child therapist. The therapist's response surprised her. The therapist said her children had seen exactly what they had needed to. They had witnessed her protecting them and saw she would go to great lengths to protect them. It gave them a message, they were loved and safe.

  • When a healthy mother first holds her newborn in her arms, almost instantly something inside her yearns to protect this little one. Indeed, scientists have found a peptide in the brain of a mother that is linked to her instinct to protect her children. Though we have a scientific explanation, we prefer to think of this instinct as an increase of love. And we will fiercely defend what we love. As mothers, we have found that there are moments when we must confront others to protect our children.

  • We are seeing bullying in the news more often, it is a worldwide problem. These bullies are not always other children, they can be adults, coaches, neighbors, even teachers.

  • When you find yourself needing to confront someone, and your biggest fear is that you will burst into tears or back down, the following list Shannon has compiled from her experience with six children and as a trauma advocate may help you prepare.

  • When you need to be a fierce mother

  • Plan ahead

  • Before you meet with the other party know what has upset you and what you would like to have happen. Then, be able to put it into an "I" statement. Plan it ahead. This is an example of an "I" statement. They are effective because no one can tell you that you don't have the right to your feelings. I feel ... when you ... What I would like is for you to ...

  • Remain calm

  • Prior to your meeting, make sure that you are well rested, have eaten or are physically as healthy and strong as possible. We make better choices when we are well rested. At the time of the meeting take several deep cleansing breaths. It will slow your pulse down and help you relax.

  • Give positive information

  • If you have anything positive to say offer it before you deliver your "I" message. For example, "I appreciate the way you teach the children to play their instruments." Then deliver your "I" statement.

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  • Listen

  • Once you have delivered your "I" statement, listen. Concentrate on the other person's response respectfully. Are there areas where you are willing to compromise?

  • Do not give away your personal power

  • If you don't agree, firmly restate your needs. You may have to agree to disagree. Remember that when you lose your temper and explode in anger, you give away your power and lose the respect of others.

  • Be prepared to take the next step

  • Never threaten to go to a higher authority unless you completely intend to. Keep records of each event and don't be afraid to ask for input from local agencies, law enforcement or an attorney.

  • These simple steps can help you prepare to confront someone on your child's behalf. This can be difficult for you, however. When you decide you need to confront someone, keep in mind these next points.

  • The person you're confronting may be in a bad way

  • We don't have a looking glass into each other's lives, make sure you don't mock, degrade or openly offend them. You can be firm, make your point, and resolve the situation without being cruel.

  • Make sure you have all the information

  • If your child comes home and says my teacher called me stupid, believe 70 percent of it and call other children and aides in the class to find out exactly what was said. That may be how the child felt when the statement was made (which is not OK), but it may not be what the teacher said.

  • Forgive

  • After you've had your battle and resolved the issue, let it go. Talking about it, gossiping to others or destroying someone's image because of a mistake made can lead to other problems. Remember, your children are always watching how you handle a situation.

  • When the mama bear in you roars, we hope these steps will empower you to protect your little ones.

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Shannon and Erin are a mother and daughter with lots of children and Utah and Oregon roots.

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