Hearing shark music?

Photocredit: Jeremy Giddens

I’m very much enjoying the new book by Daniel Siegel titled No-Drama Discipline.  Last night I read a bit to John that had both of us laughing with rueful understanding.  Siegel was writing about how our kids’ actions can be very alarming to us at times, leading our over-active imaginations down scary paths.  He warns about being too quick to hear ‘shark music’ — you know, that stressful music in a movie that warns you that a bad thing is about to happen? He says, “Before you know it, your adorable ten-year-old has become a homeless woman pushing a shopping cart toward the cardboard box she lives in under the bridge down by the river— all because she got mixed up about which way the “greater than” symbol points!”

I’ve had moments like that even with toddlers.  But I’ve found ‘shark music’ moments to be increasingly common when parenting teens.  I think it’s because decisions begin to feel like they have higher and higher stakes. It can seem obvious to an experienced adult that a teen’s decision is unwise, but not nearly so obvious to the teen. Instead of viewing an action as a single isolated incident, it’s soooo easy to feel stressed, imagining a future path filled with similar (or worsening) choices.  Pretty soon your anxiety level is all out of scale with your kid’s current decision, making it almost impossible to respond in a wise and caring way.

Thanks to Siegel, John and I now have a new shorthand way to remind ourselves to chill out and stay in the moment:  SHARK MUSIC.  🙂

Ever hear shark music at your house?  How do you help yourself get things back in perspective?


  1. This is great! I’ll have to look him up. Thanks!

  2. I have been considering buying this book, as I loved the “Whole Brained Child”. Would love to read a review from you once you’ve finished!

  3. Interesting! My neighbor, also adoptive foster parent, just recommended this book to me. She’s reading now.

  4. Having gone through cancer diagnosis with teenage daughter twice now – every ‘normal’ day is such a blessing that very little will faze me.
    But with that being said, there are still days when I watch for a child sleeping too much, a drastic change in mood, etc. which has me thinking of your ‘shark music’ scenario – just in case something bad is going on. So far for our family usually someone is getting sick.
    To get my mind back into perspective I usually put on music by the ‘Supremes’ or ‘Winnie the Pooh’ soundtrack because so upbeat a person cannot help but sing, dance, and smile.
    And then our family will remember the dark days of chemo treatment and rejoice in the ‘normal’.

  5. Tara Porter-Livesay says:

    I came to read it now, Mary. 🙂 Great illustration.

    Soldier on, Momma.


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